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Tributaries: Fall 2020

Online creative writing journal publishing DSC student creative output - from poetry and stories, comics, illustrations, drawings, photographs, paintings, songs and videos

Visual Arts

"Bell Tower" by Taylor Penley

"Cat" by Amber Roberts

"CW Beetle Drawing" by Ashley Teague

"A Lazy Saturday" by Diana Almazan

"A Slice of Sweet Delight" by Diana Almazan

"Pink Blue Reversed" by Michelle Deloraya

TOC for Written Work

Table of Contents


Poetry


"Conformity" by Lori McAfee

"Una Vida Mejor" by Daniel Silverio

Second Place Winner of the 2020 Spooky Story Contest

"Sight" by Ragavati Kandiah

Third Place Winner of the 2020 Spooky Story Contest

"Never Have a Right Again" by Charleigh Freeze


Fiction


"On the Night of the Burning of the Yew Tree" by Cierra Green

Winner of the Best Fiction Story

"I Will" by Ben Goldman

Winner of the 2020 Spooky Story Contest

"Sober Spirit" by Taylor Penley


Non-Fiction


"Journey to Motherland" by Miriam Trujillo

"Will Teaching Bachata be Gone?" by Luis Garcia

Poetry

"Conformity"

Lori McAfee


This is where you will find me,

Torn between the River and Sea.

Oh, behold such enticing beauty,

My soul grows more and more suety.

It’s one then the other,

In sequence they mutter.

Then I hear a tranquilizing voice,

“The time has come to make a choice.”

Where the two collide,

Joined as one but diversified.

The River and Sea,

They do not struggle with identity.

 

 

Who Am I, longs to be defined?

My soul must not succumb,

By the beckon to leave the flesh or spirit behind.

Yearning deep, the desire to be free,

Forever torn between the River and Sea.

 

Una Vida Mejor 

by Daniel Silverio

Second Place - Spooky Story Contest

Will I sit in gloom? Or write for him

His life was given, so others can live

And while I sit in this dark room

I think of him

I think of the quinch in his throat

As they ran out of water in the desert

I think about his children

Who will never hear his voice again

I think of the fall to his end

And his lips turning purple

A dream sore, a dream rotten

A dream forgotten

I think of his lover

The screams and yells she'd say

Her life, her hopes, her dreams

An American Dream

What was it that was his end?

Was it a devil or the angel that brought him in?

His last craving was a devil

Disguised as an angel

That is the bitter ugliness of his reality

He adored a dream that

Never adored him

This dream takes and it does nothing but sin

I think of his migrant brothers and sisters

Who saw his last breaths

And took their reality away

A friend and ally, who, too, was took away

I think of the patrol

Who found his body but

See him as only another criminal

Who shouldn't have broken the law

I think of the TV news

Another migrant found dead

Their deaths normalized

And hatred for them too, normalized

An American Dream

Or a nightmare

A hope that faltered

A light that ran out

So I won't sit in gloom, I'll write for him

And the others who need their tale told

This dark room will share the light of their lives

I think of him, and everyone, who searched for a better life.

"Sight"

Ragavati Kandiah

Third Place - Spooky Story Contest

There was a fragile woman

Her health in disrepair

Headaches often split her

 

Awareness never clear

They’d often hover near her

When weak they might step in

The headaches were so brutal

She had no fight to spare

Her mind was pushed beside her

Their thoughts just circled in

They showed her every horror

Their lives met violent ends

They each had twisted vision

One by one, transposed... and then

She felt their wretched fear there

The chilling sting of ghost

Paralyzed, she must endure it

Her head was wracked with pain

They showed her what it meant to die

Over and over again

They didn’t mean to scare her

But she couldn’t move to scream

She didn’t know the reason

They showed her everything

One’s face was blown apart, see?

One’s family all were killed

Poisoned, choked, & bleeding,

Bludgeoned, hunted, stilled

Perhaps they wanted justice

Or just someone to know-

And she saw in between worlds

She saw it blow by blow

There was a fragile woman

Her health in disrepair

Headaches often split her

Awareness never clear

"Never Have a Right Again"

By Charleigh Freeze


Verse One:

When will we wake up?

When will we realize?

How can nobody see, through the world’s disguise?

 

When will we face up?

When will we fight back?

Why are we waiting for change we will never have?

 

Bridge:

The longer we wait, the less we will achieve
The longer it takes, the less we will see

 

Chorus:

We’ve gotta stand up and prepare to take the fall

Without freedom life is worth nothing at all

Won’t keep my mouth shut, no matter what the cost

Waiting for things to fix themselves is why we’re lost

We aren’t weak; just need to make them understand

We’d rather be dead than never have a right again

 

Verse Two:

God has given us, the means to make a change

But he can only do so much, if we don’t arrange

For a resistance, it will all be in vain

If we just listen, rather than break our chains

 

When will we man up?

When will we rise?

Why do we stand here still; there is no compromise.

 

Bridge:

The longer we wait, the less we will achieve
The longer it takes, the less we will see

 

Chorus:

We’ve gotta stand up and prepare to take the fall

Without freedom life is worth nothing at all

Won’t keep my mouth shut, no matter what the cost

Waiting for things to fix themselves is why we’re lost

We aren’t weak; just need to make them understand

We’d rather be dead than never have a right again

Verse Three:

We know the way in which this will play out

If we wait any longer, there will be no way out

We know the truth in the words I say

Why do we wait?

Why do we wait?

 

Chorus:

We’ve gotta stand up and prepare to take the fall

Without freedom life is worth nothing at all

Won’t keep my mouth shut, no matter what the cost

Waiting for things to fix themselves is why we’re lost

We aren’t weak; just need to make them understand

We’d rather be dead than never have a right again

Fiction

"I Will…"

By Ben Goldman

Winner - Spooky Story Contest

Carmie was sitting in her cabin deep in a holler of a lonely mountain on a dark and stormy night. Her old body told the story of her life. The story was that of a woman raised in the mountains and shaped by the working of the land. As her frail old fingers toiled away on her afghan, a chill ran over her, and she threw another log on the fire while she covered herself with her shawl. As her paper-thin skinned fingers worked the yarn, she remembered how they would caress her daughter's hair. She looked at the shadow cast on the walls and floor. Carmie was reminded of the nights she spent with her family, who were now long forgotten from this world. Each shadow became a specter of a loved one that has long since gone. She was amazed at the vast number of these ghosts in her head.

Carmie escaped from these thoughts by going out on her porch. The storm was lighting the sky in brilliant flashes of light, and the thunder rumbled like the growl of an unseen animal. She felt safe from the storm on the covered porch. In her lonely despair, she called into the night, "Who is going to stay with me on this dark and stormy night?" The words came from the darkness and emptiness of her heart. Carmie felt the words were not her own even though they passed her lips. The words sounded like echoes from deep in the obscurity of a lost cave, full of horrors and wonders alike, but not meant for human ears to hear. As the words flew into the stormy night, the wind rustled the fallen leaves against the bare tree limbs, and Carmie could hear the words form. Silent and ambiguous at first but developing themselves like a person stepping out of the mist. She listened to the wind say, "I… W..i..l..l." The voice chilled Carmie to her very soul. It was as if the darkness itself was speaking to her longing for company. She decided to go back in and wait for the unknown visitor.

Carmie turned and went back inside the cabin but fell to the floor as she crossed threshold. She was not sure if she was pushed or tripped. The floor was cold and hard against her face, just like the storm’s voice itself. As Carmie opened her eyes, she saw the door was opened, and the storm was whipping around her possessions inside. A small drop of blood was on her lip. She pulled herself to her feet, and the boards underfoot creaked. This sound was not the same creak she had heard the thousand times before. This creak was different, musical almost, and formed the words, "I Will." BOOM! The door slammed hard behind her, driven by the wind of the storm. Even this familiar sound took on the new voice of the rainstorm and formed the words. Carmie ran to the fire and threw every piece of wood she had on the coals. This heaping of wood caused the fire to roar up and fill the entire hearth. Carmie hoped this would run off the vapors that were now haunting the cabin. This new fire did nothing but make the shadows grow in all the corners.

The storm was now surrounding her cabin. The thunder and rain were deafening like a train running through the middle of the house. Each sound made its personal plea to Carmie, and each sound sounded like the voice screaming to her, "I Will." The raindrops dancing on the tin roof made an entire chorus of the storm saying, "I Will…I Will…. I Will…. I Will." The popping of a log in the fire caused this demonic choir to temporally pause. This sudden sound brought Carmie's attention back to the fireplace and the shadows surrounding it. The shadows

danced in the firelight to the rhythm of the chants of "I Will." Then they started to move in ways that Carmie had never seen before. The shadows moved as if they were people walking through the house. It was as if the shadows no longer listened to the fire’s command. The specters moved towards her. They started to speak and say, "I Will." These voices were not that of the storm or rain, but that of her long-departed loved ones. Carmie asked these haints, "Who will stay with me on this dark and stormy night?" The shadows only came closer and repeated, "I Will." Carmie backed away until she found herself in the corner of the cabin. She sank and hid her face between her knees.

In her fetal position on the floor with her head down and eyes closed, Carmie could feel the shadows loom over her. Each one was saying the same thing, "I Will," over and over. The ghostly voices grew louder than the raging storm outside. Soon all she could hear was the booming apparition's voices in her head. She felt one of their icy touches on her skin. Carmie jumped, screamed at the top of her voice, but the supernatural chants drowned her out. She moved so fast as she pushed past the specters, that she never felt her feet even touch the floor. Carmie was standing on the porch before she realized where she was. She came to this realization when the silence came upon her like someone threw a blanket over her. The silence was stifling and thick like smoke on the most humid summer night. The rain, the storm, the fire, and all the voices were gone. The silence was everything, and Carmie could feel that it was now a part of her, or she was part of the silence. They were one and the same now. Carmie suddenly felt the urge deep inside her, and it moved from the most center part of her soul to her lips. Carmie tried to hold it in, but it was too strong. It moved like it was a landslide rumbling down the mountain heading for her protective holler. "Who is going to stay with me on this dark and stormy night?" flew into the silence. Then a voice from the edge of the porch spoke. When Carmie turned to see, the darkness overtook her. The only thing that broke the eternal silence was the last words she ever heard, "I Will…………."

On the Night of the Burning of the Yew Tree

By Cierra Green

Winner - Best Fiction

Witchery runs in my veins.

Me, and every woman born into the Bishop’s bloodline have been cursed by Sarah Bishop. It happened long ago. Sarah lived in a small cottage the color of ash, nestled deep in the woods. Her home was a half-mile walk to a clearing with a stream, wild blackberry vines, crystal waters, and the most beautiful Yew tree you could ever witness. She lived alone as an orphan. Her mother had died during childbirth, and her father, shortly after building their cottage, died from a wild animal attack. Though she was only fifteen at the time, she was fierce and not at all scared.

She was as wild as a beast, and no man made any attempts to tame her. She was said to be a witch because of her interest in medicinal herbs. Only the most desperate came to visit Sarah Bishop. Children sick with fever, their bodies dripping with sweat, and limp, without life, were brought to Sarah. She tamed their fever, she brought vitality back to their soulless body as the parents exchanged glances, their hands clasped in prayer. Sarah would have none of that; she refused to lower herself to her knees, to clasp her hands for a being she could not see. The town spoke about the woman in the hills who was known for tearing the life out of other women by Sarah’s dried, rue teas.

Sarah was content on being without. She found comfort in her beloved Yew tree that grew in her secret clearing. It must have been hundreds of years old, for it had grown to a towering height—it’s gnarled, tangled branches reached out like comforting arms towards Sarah. At first, she had become deathly ill because of the Yew’s toxins. Her father demanded she stay from the tree or she should die.

Still, at night, the Yew seemed to illuminate brighter than the Heavens. The stars could do no justice as the Yew did. It’s twined and thick branches glowed green in the darkness, and Sarah found herself wondering towards the Yew tree. She grew very sick. She almost died. Despite this, she and the Yew tree grew fond of one another. Her father became worried that his daughter could be a witch. Town folk speculated that Sarah used witchery to take her own father’s life, but the Yew tree knew the truth of Sarah’s grieving tears. Yes, the moment Sarah’s tears splashed upon the Yew’s branches, Sarah was immune to the toxins.

The Yew tree became her only comfort. The Yew tree was. It was alive, a being, a soul, perhaps even a Goddess. Sarah climbed the knotted branches and bathed in the sun, listening to the Yew. She spoke to Sarah. The Yew tree had all the knowledge of the world inside her, and she was neither good nor bad. Sarah was content with her Yew tree.

That is until the day the wealthy merchant stumbled into the woods. Sarah was weeding her small garden when he stumbled onto her land, weak, and struggling for breath. It had taken much strength for Sarah to drag the man inside her small cottage and strip the drenched clothes from his body. He was severely dehydrated, and the heat had overtaken him in his travel. Fearing he may die, Sarah ran as fast as she could to the Yew tree and asked of the Yew what she should do.

The Yew replied saying: Have faith in me. This traveler means you harm. Take the foliage of my tree and brew it into a tea, my child, so he may die.

Sarah had trusted in the Yew. She gathered the foliage of the Yew and drew a bucket of water from the stream. She gathered a bunch of blackberries in her apron and hurried back to her cottage. The traveler lay on the pallet deathly pale with labored breathing. She boiled the water over the fire and watched the traveler. He had long strands of blond hair and pale lips. As she had undressed him to cool him down, she could see he was lean and muscular. She drew close to the man and touched his forehead. She could feel the heat radiating in the palm of her hand. He stirred under her cool hands, and his eyes fluttered open before closing again.

Sarah took the Yew’s foliage and hid it in the cupboard so the traveler would never find it. She crushed the blackberries and added it to the boiling water. After it had cooled, she spooned it into the traveler’s mouth. For the first time in years, she let days pass without visiting her sacred Yew.
After three days, the traveler’s fever broke, and he was able to sit up. He could not speak until the fifth day, and he thanked Sarah greatly.

“How may I repay your generosity?” He asked.

Sarah sat distantly from the traveler. “No, need, sir. It is my duty.”

“Indeed, to the Lord, it is due.”

Sarah said nothing. Her thoughts turned to the Yew. She could feel herself grow weaker as the days had passed. “I am going to gather some berries and see if I can spear some fish. You may rest here. You need to gain your strength.”

The traveler tried to stand, but he slipped. “A woman’s place is not to fend for man. I wish that I could be of more use. I thank you kindly, Madam.”
Sarah nodded. She smoothed her hands on her dress and left the traveler at once. Sarah knelt in front of the Yew tree and inclined her head and rested her cheeks upon the bark. “Mother, what shall I do? The traveler is better and can almost stand. He says it is to God that I owe this service.” Sarah crinkled her nose as she said this.

The Yew tree replied, saying: Have faith in me. This traveler means you harm. Take the foliage of my tree and brew it into a tea, my child, so he may die.

Sarah sighed.

She collected the Yew’s foliage once again and laid it on a rock. She stood in the water as the fish danced around the soles of her feet. She began to hum a song the Yew had taught her long ago. It had no words but was composed purely of a vocalized hum. The fish danced around her. She speared two, collected her berries, and carried the Yew’s foliage back to the cottage where the traveler waited.

Sarah again hid the foliage but did no harm to the traveler. She fileted the fish and deboned it, then lit a fire to sear the fish. She added dried herbs she had planted from her garden, and the smell filled the cabin until the traveler’s stomach growled. Rosemary, thyme, and garlic filled the two with a rich aroma. Sarah served the traveler and sat across from him as they ate.

“You are a magnificent woman,” the traveler said to the woman. “You must be of God. You have nursed me back to health when I saw the angel of death with my own eyes. You have speared the fish. This is must be of God.”

Sarah lowered her head. “Have you heard of me? Or are you new to this small area?” She knew nothing about this man.

The traveler sipped the sage tea Sarah had brewed him. “New. I have come here to buy property. The land here is good, I’ve heard. I want to settle and find a wife to have children with. I am a wealthy man, and I have the money to do so.”

Sarah’s face reddened. “Well, I suppose you will be leaving soon. When you are in better health then.”

“I suppose.” The traveler paused. His eyes looked at Sarah in a way no other man had before. “And you? Have you a father? A husband? Children?”

Sarah picked at a rubbery piece of fish. “No father. No husband. No children.” She cleared her throat. She gathered the remains of the fish and set them in the wash bucket.

Seeing that he had upset her, the traveler said nothing more on the subject. As the days passed, the traveler grew stronger until he could stand and move about the small cottage. He took a liking to the strange woman. He helped her in the small garden of herbs and plants and listened to the medicinal properties each offered. He drank her teas and tried her remedies and felt an increase in his energy. Two weeks had passed since he had stumbled upon her cottage.

Sarah took a liking to the traveler, despite what the Yew tree had warned her to do. However, the traveler told Sarah that he must be leaving soon, and her heart was filled with pain. She had grown fond of the male companion who took an interest in her remedies. He said he would leave in the morning but was to return to see her at every chance he could.

On the night he was to leave, the traveler took Sarah’s hand. “Let me leave you with a token. And you will give one to me. I shall promise to make you my wife.”

The traveler gave her a band that had been his grandmother’s. It was smooth silver and was heavy on her finger. Having nothing of substantial wealth to give the traveler, Sarah took the man to her bed that night.

On the day he left, he promised to return.

Sarah felt shame as she visited the Yew, but the Yew filled her with warmth. “I have given him the last of me, and he has promised to return to me. He gave me this ring as a token. I shall be his wife. What should I do?”

The Yew replied, saying: Have faith in me. The ring heavy upon your hand will only make you sink. Pluck it from your finger and cast it into the stream, so you may be free.

Sarah returned to her cottage with the ring upon her finger. She grew lonely as the weeks passed with no sight of the traveler. Her body grew sick and weak, and she learned she was to have a child. Sarah thought of the women she had freed from children, and she decided she was to have this child. Still, she feared whether the traveler would return.

But he kept his word and did return to Sarah in three months passed. “I have purchased the land and am ready to wed you. You must leave here and never to return. I must go into town and find witnesses and a preacher to marry us.”

Sarah feared the towns people would deny her of this man. But the traveler had taken an interest into her medicinal practices. “I am with child,” She said. She pressed his rough palm upon her abdomen, so he could feel the life beneath.

The traveler stirred with a quick breath. “Then this is God’s doing. I must hurry into town, and the ceremony must take place immediately, lest we should be deemed sinners.”

The traveler left quickly.

When Sarah told the Yew of the plans, the Yew said: Have faith in me. This traveler means you harm yet. The only way to freedom is through me. Take the leaves of my foliage and brew the tea and drink it, so that you and the child may become one with me.

Sarah waited months, but the traveler did not return. She feared he may have died and refused to believe he abandoned her. She birthed during a hard winter, but the child pulled through. A fat baby boy with long hair like his father. She wiped the mess off him and pressed him to her breast. “Drink,” She told him, “So that you may have faith in the Yew. Through me she lives.”

The months passed and the birth of spring greeted the two. Sarah took the child to the Yew every day, so he could become immune to the toxins. Sarah was content with her son, who she named Abraham.

On the approach of Abraham’s first birthday, the Yew tree gave Sarah a warning: Have faith in me. The traveler is to come, soon. Death awaits your head. Take the foliage of my tree and you and the child drink. Through me, you may live.

It happened upon a dark night when the traveler returned. The stars were absent of the sky and the moon was hidden away. Sarah fell to her knees in joy, and she had kept the ring he had given. “This is our son, Abraham,” She told him.

The traveler looked coldly at Sarah and the child. “I promised to return to you. When I went to town to seek out the witnesses, they warned me of the witch who lives in the cottage. The one who drinks the poison of the Yew. You have used your witchery upon me to make my flesh sinful.”
Sarah’s eyes filled with tears. “Call me what you will. Are you to believe the woman who birthed your child or the towns people?”

Knowing the answer, Sarah knew she must escape the traveler. She gathered her child in her arms and ran to the Yew, screaming and sobbing for help. “Mother, help me and my son, or he shall kill me.”

The Yew replied, saying: Have faith in me. You did not heed my warnings child; now you will die. The traveler means you harm. The towns people are walking the hill to burn you of the stake.

Sarah wailed. She clung to her child as she nestled against the Yew, sobbing. Her body writhed. “Forgive me, Mother.”

The traveler returned with an army of towns people. “This woman has used witchery and sorcery to seduce me and turn my flesh sinful. In God’s name, she must burn at the stake, so she must join Satan rightfully in Hell.”

The traveler ripped his son from Sarah’s breast. The child screamed and reached towards its mother. Sarah was tied securely around the Yew so her arms and body were bound. The fire was lit. The towns people hooted as she burned. “I curse you,” Sarah screamed towards the traveler. “Every woman born with any ounce of this blood will possess my power, my witchery, and I, and the Yew, shall live forever.”

Sarah’s eyes grazed her child, and she knew the Yew was with him.

Have faith in me, the Yew said, you shall feel no pain, and you shall live forever. Sarah’s soul was absorbed through the Yew, and she felt no pain of the flesh. On the night of the burning of the Yew, Sarah Bishop became eternal.

You might be wondering what happened to Abraham. The traveler took his son and raised him. He tried to clear out any ounce of Sarah from him, but Abraham had dreams of his mother. Abraham carried Sarah’s blood. He married and had a child, Abagail, and she possessed the witchery of the Yew. The line continues as the Bishop blood runs; in it, Sarah and the Yew live forever.

A little bit of Sarah lives in me.

 

Sober Spirit

By Taylor Penley


You wonder how you got here and you turn into a madman trying to figure it out. Is that me lying in that corner? With the hooks and the wires and the monitors all going wild and stopping at what the angelic nurse hopes isn’t their end? This is too overwhelming, so you sit down and think of the events leading up to this and you think of how the crying you hear in the hallway is a sound that burns yet it’s a fire you lack the ability to extinguish. What might you say if you could speak to the people circling about this room in their scrubs? Better yet, what might you say to your daughter whose tears fall like drops of rain onto a cold, callous floor that’s seen miles and miles of tread? The answer is, no matter what you might say, you can’t tell them anything now. You’re lying unconscious, they say, across the room from your conscious spirit who enjoys what must be its final gasp of breath.

“Fight.” You whisper to your body, to the air, to a universe of apparent nothingness. “God knows you have everything to live for.” Maybe if you’d thought this while you had the chance, you wouldn’t have put your left hand on the wheel while keeping your right on the bottle. And, you think, both your body and spirit would be home instead of grasping for something, anything to survive. The monitor beeps slower and slower with every second.

A surgeon rushes in, RNs on either side of him. You say to them with wide and pleading eyes, “You’re going to pull me through this, right?” No answer. You turn, as if you’ve succumbed to sleepwalking, and watch as the fates dance around with your thread and an eager pair of scissors. Blood, all over your unsuspecting and vacant face, holds a drowning quality to even this observant spirit. If only time could stop a moment so you might catch your breath. If only.

“Internal hemorrhaging.” You hear in the short distance dividing you from the fates. There has to be some way to stop it, you think. Can’t they do something? Can’t they work more quickly? The surgeon, touching your umber skin with eerie care, requests a blood transfusion.

In the stiller, quieter moments - though sparse - you walk over to observe your defeated self. A broken body - it’s easy to see - but yet to become a broken spirit. You stand next to the heart monitor, hearing it beep with a shaky pulse and you consider this is what they think allows you to be alive. If looking like death, knocking persistently on its door perhaps soon to be invited inside to dwell is their definition of alive, then what unfortunate souls everyone’s been. You had a life just a few hours ago, before your stupidity, hurt, and drunkenness took it away. It’s ironic that what’s meant to numb has made you feel so much pain.

You stare into your face, a vacancy of emotion, of thought, and of memory. Years ago, your Mama told you your skin was a canvas, that no matter what bad things happened to it, they’d someday tell the spectacular story of you. The scar over your left eye happened in a fight in high school, the little crook in your upper lip came from an accident on the job, and, somehow, you remember being four when you were playing in the golden sun of some 1970s summer and got the scar on your forehead. You think of that time as a blend of brown, gold, and green. While moving in and out of the Bronx, you played with your cousins’ toys and listened to ABBA and Motown on AM radio. You were a child, unsuspecting of what might happen now - at the age of 52.

You look at your eyes, though hidden by their lids, and you think of all they’ve seen in those 52 years: those vanilla childhood days, your high school graduation, your own marriage, your daughter’s birth, your mother’s death... If those eyes could compile albums of the pictures they’ve snapped and saved in the album of memory, you could see just how extravagant even a not-so-extravagant life can be. And your hands, calloused from ages of hard labor that kept hungry mouths fed and your daughter educated, what stories might they tell if they could enlighten the world on what they’ve touched or what they’ve held? Well, these are stories people will have to make up for themselves, for you lack the ability to tell anything now.

The room is just a flash of white laced with green and blue scrubs running to and fro, the fates’ hands even more frantic now than their feet, the light fades more and more on this universe as the one on the other side grows brighter, but you cling to your last ounce of hope. You discover the transfusion failed, and you feel the last sliver of hope, not in yourself but in the world around you, shatter into a thousand piecing pieces as the jury just delivered their verdict on your fate.

You go out into the hallway and see the last surviving half of you as she quietly sobs herself to a state of numbness and, before you go, you touch her hand knowing it tells its own story.

Non-Fiction

Journey to My Motherland

By Miriam Trujillo


As a child of immigrant parents hearing stories of the motherland, I wondered how life was different there from where I have always grown up. As the daughter of Mexican immigrants, I had always grown up with two different perspectives about Mexico. My parents would describe it to be a magical place, a place with true freedom. At the same time, the media would describe it as a place of crime and poverty. So, when I reached the age of a new phase of my life, I was encouraged to travel to the place my parents had lived their early years.

As I boarded the bus on my way to Mexico, I left behind my family, seeking to know more about the relatives I had never met and the country I had never experienced. Going to the motherland was never something I had in mind, but instead did as an obligation to my parent’s wishes, but it soon became one of the greatest things I had done. Traveling through unknown terrains and passing through silent, restless cities at odd hours of the night, I realized that each area had its own story. There was life all around me; in each of those illuminated windows that passed me by, someone was on their own passage of life. For the first time, I was no longer the main character but merely a speck in this world. After passing through a collection of different worlds, from Louisiana to Texas and everything in-between, I awoke at sunrise to a long procession of cars waiting to cross.

After what seemed hours of waiting, we finally reached the gate where officers stood checking and quickly crossed over to the new land. It was crazy to think that a simple line marks a different world of people, culture, and values. As soon as we drove through Mexico, the air seemed much crisper, the colors more vibrant, and the people more joyful. For the first time in my life, I felt I was living in the moment and not living for the upcoming day. It seemed like that was how I was living my life in the U.S, trying to make it to the end of the week only for the cycle to start all over. However, on my grandparent’s farm, time was not a primary worry. The people in the country were governed by the fall and rise of the sun, not the ticking time of life passing.

The month and a half I lived in this new country were like living through a phenomenon. It felt like life was put on hold, and the weariness of the future no longer existed. For the first time in my life, I felt free, like a bird out of a cage in which it was restrained. I was now standing outside of my grandparents’ house, which stood tall on a hill, possibly the only hill in the surrounding land. The high mountains from a distance covered in white haze faced me and called out to me. The fresh, morning breeze caressing my face with my hair, and the hymns of nature brought me tranquility of mind and soul. I no longer woke up to a beating alarm whispering in my ear that time was moving and my duties awaiting, but by the peaking rays illuminating my room informing me of the start of a new day and the unknown adventures it held. At this moment, I no longer feared the unknown of what was to come, and the uncertainty of the future. It seemed I had spent my first fifteen years of my life dwelling in fear of the unknown and the passing of time.

As I adventured through the motherland, I often found myself asking, “why am I feeling this way” with no response. As years passed and I grew older, I realized what I was feeling was only a glimpse of what life is about.  Like many first-generation children of immigrant parents, I was so consumed by the pursuit of the “American Dream”, that was pushed onto me by my parents. I never had the slightest of thought to step back and reflect on how I was spending my life. This trip reflected what I had missed all those years and gave me a new perspective on life. I needed to live in the present and find comfort in the unknown. I am now eighteen awaiting the next passage of life to board.

Will Teaching Bachata Be Gone after Mama’s Death?

Luis Garcia Geraldino


Bachata is a music genre that originated in the Dominican Republic with Spanish, indigenous, and African music influences that represent the cultural diversity of the Dominican Republic population. Bachata is a mix of bolero and son. This type of dance also developed with the music.

My mother, also known as Mama, is a seventy-year-old woman with a twenty-year-old woman's soul. She still has dark black hair and a girlish laugh. She was a dancer, and dance is her passion. She loves to dance the Bachata at every family meeting or party. She is responsible for why my family and I know how to dance the Bachata.

One year ago, Mama turned sixty-nine years old. After the whole family ate and talked with each other’s, Mama shouted: “Who wants to dance the Bachata?” My brother, my cousins, and I ran away. My aunties, my mother, and my father stayed and danced with Mama and with each other. My grandmother told Mama, “Mama, you have to teach Bachata to your grandsons. They need to understand that Bachata is in the blood of this family. Dance is something that we all love to do. Also, I do not want that when you are gone, Bachata dies too.”

Living in the United States is the price of my family, and I am paying. I do not remember the last time I dance Bachata. I have lived in the United States for almost a year, a far and different environment from the Dominican Republic. I can barely remember the basic steps and moves of Bachata.

On the other hand, my mother and father live in the United States how they live in the Dominican Republic. Every weekend, my mother cleans the house floor, and she cannot do the chores of the house without her Bachata on the speakers of the house. She dances until she sweats like a monkey. Sometimes my father joins with her to dance the Bachata. My mother also tries to grab me to dance with her, but I always deny to dance the Bachata.

My mother always tries to dance the Bachata with us to show us that we can maintain our culture and keep dancing the Bachata even if we are far from the Dominican Republic. I started to think about this months ago, and I can admit that I feel guilty for denying my mother to dance the Bachata for a couple of minutes.

When I was a kid, I was obedient to learning the Bachata with Mama. I tried hard to learn how to dance the Bachata like a professional Bachata dancer. But, when I was getting older, my passion for dancing Bachata decreased each year because I found other passions in my life, such as soccer.

When we moved to the United States, however, I became rebellious and disobedient. The same happens with the language. My mother speaks Spanish to me, but I always respond in English. My mother told me I am a rebel dog because I am ignorant of my culture and traditions. I deny doing traditional Dominican activities to fit into United States’ society and prosper in the United States.

But, these couple of months, I found videos of my family dancing Bachata. I often feel distant and guilty that I have not done any of my traditions while I am in the United States. Also, I do not think that I participate much in my family's cultural activities, and my mother is not pleased.

My mother and I have a different perspective, and we live in two different worlds. My world is to play soccer, study, have fun with my friends, and to work hard; her world is to cook Dominican food all the time, drink coffee after lunch, have a pray session after drinking her coffee, and dance Bachata any time she can.

I believe if some traditions die in the family, the other one arises. There are more Dominican activities and traditions to do, but I feel guilty not to keep up with my culture.

Typing these words makes me go in the past and remember that I deny doing some traditions with my family. In the past, I made decisions that caused my mother to be sad or disappointed in me.

I wish I can pick it up as naturally as Mama could, to make sure that her grandsons learn how to dance the Bachata, and I want to teach them to dance the Bachata as smooth as Mama, but it is hard.