- The Art of Sleeping Alone, by Sophie Fontanel
- The Road to Character, by David Brooks
- The Dystopian Squad: 1984, Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World, The Giver
- Red Rising, by Pierce Brown
- My Ishmael, by Daniel Quinn
- Until We Are Free, by Shirin Ebadi
- In Defense of Food, by Michael Pollan
- Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall
- One Size Does Not Fit All: A Student’s Assessment of School, by Nikhil Goyal
- The People’s History of the United States, by Howard Zinn
- On the Thing Itself: The Search for Authenticity, by Richard Todd
- Running with the Demon, by Terry Brooks
- Class: A Guide Through the American Status System, by Paul Fussell
- Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card
- Walden, by Henry David Thoreau
Above the low grazing clouds on a mountaintop, there the girl finds him, among the soft hues of the mountain’s flower offspring. The girl can see the outline of the boy’s face so definitively, a stark contrast against the spring touched sky. She can feel his presence, in all its glorious wholeness, in all of his kindness and love for every living creature. Every movement he make brings more life to the world. Levels rise up in her stomach, rebelling, her heart beating light with wings. The girl’s legs take up movement, first trotting, cantering, then galloping with the full force of innocent, unadulterated, and unconditional love. Fingers outstretch to reach one another, and as she arrives to touch the boy in complete elation, no sooner do her fingers touch his then does he disappear with a scowl on his face and bursts into innumerable pinpricks of light. Her Miyazaki touched character falls to the crest, and the grief permeates her to the very edges of her fingernails and toenails, to the ends of each strand of her hair. The girl falls back, squeezing her eyes shut so as to not see the ghost of the boy’s presence. The mountain’s flower offspring straighten beneath the girl, and begin raising her to face the transcendent face of the spring sky. The breeze brushes up against the tiny hairs on her arms and legs, splaying out the girl’s auburn curls, and blows a kiss right to the edge of her lips.
It was a lie, the girl whispers to the breeze. Its only response is to buffet her body with its presence more strongly.
It meant nothing after all, the girl whispers to the sky, who twinkles its few stars back at her.
It was my fault, the girl whispers to the mountain’s flower offspring, and they wagged their heads back and forth in protest.
My heart will not let me give up, the girl whispers to the mountain. What am I to do?
Simultaneously does the ground raise beneath the girl, the wind wraps itself around her, and the first light of new sun touches her face. The girl’s eyes are uncovered, and then does she see.
The palms of the girl’s hands come together, and as she opens them, a steady and strong beating heart is revealed, dressed in lurid pink. The heart pulses toward the girl’s chest, and her hands help guide it there. The heart is absorbed into her chest, and fully embraces the heart already inhabiting the space until the two hearts become one. The girl’s eyes widen, then she freezes. The wind kisses her face, and she is lowered back down to the earth. The mountain’s flower offspring nod and touch her with their wee limbs.
The girl takes her first breath.
A purring lapcat. Tabby, like Crookshanks.
An army of (mechanical) pencils. Refill and you are good to go.
A steno bound notebook for poetry and thoughtful musings,
A metal bound notebook, for stories and alphabet shit
A cold cup of tea, English Breakfast to satiate the Brit within.
An elastic, holding (almost) all your hairs back
A pile of books, sorted into the categories of “I am broadening my literary horizons” and dog-eared fantasy.
A plush robe and slippers, for those days you are only in service to the words you write.
A laptop with a partially filled Word document always open
A late night and more than one to get the job done
A dirty dish or two by your left arm.
A yellow light, soon invisible, lights up paper pages
An imagination, activated, blots all the former into oblivion.
Oh, what a vulnerable stream!
So unobstructed by the obstacles of Reason, of Strategy, or Logic…
You laid siege to my heart, that castle
Surrounded by the walls made in Troy’s image
Long had I held you at bay, beyond my gates
A barnacle clinging tightly
Taking up a semipermanent residence
In my guest house right beyond the bricks of the walls
Here’s to hoping the gods will sweep you away
Away from the castle, a polite distance away
My hopeful call unheeded until a fated night:
Enflamed Zeus raged around the castle,
Yet, when the chariots of fire brightened the sky,
Your siege stood just as strong,
A Hercules among men.
My gates then cracked without forewarning and
In stepped you, caped and helmeted
Curly haired priestesses falling to knees
Astonishment written across them.
The reliable marble fountain overflowed,
Reliable no longer, a stream
Disregarding feet, through the gates.
Oh, priestesses, how loud and sharp the cry coming after Astonishment,
emitted from the titled mouths
How acutely my armored guest noticed,
Bent his knee, held out a gloved hand.
“Meet me behind the tree after school, ugly.”
Only I met her there much sooner
behind that tree, right after
another girl was named smartest in class, right after
I got a 98 and she got 100
on the latest test.
I ran to the tree after the test was handed back
and there I stood, stoic as fists hit me.
“She’s a more desirable person anyway, look at
how many advanced classes she’s taken
I mean, you couldn’t take all those APs
You can’t even handle Honors Math.”
I silently prayed for redemption. It wasn’t mine
to be had.
“The anxiety and depression? Your fault.
You could’ve stopped it.”
She left me with bruises on my face and a black eye that
“You could’ve succeeded in your academic and social pursuits, but no.
You mean shit as far as students go academically.
Just fucking average.”
My body drooped under her impact.
“No one cares how passionate you are about it, unless
you prove it with the grades. Prove your passion.
PROVE it, useless!”
I opened my mouth, trying to say that grades weren’t
a true indicator of passion, that
a true indicator was what you did with
it outside of the requirements, but
she shoved me back into the tree, and
Hit my head and