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The Writers' Avenue Issue 2

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Our latest issue is inspired by winter - a season for celebration, friendship, love and warmth.

Our latest issue is inspired by winter - a season for celebration, friendship, love and warmth.

Published in: Education, News & Politics
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  • 1. Writers’ Avenue Issue 2 December 2013
  • 2. Writers’ Avenue Issue 2 Issue 2: “Winter” Like snow falling in winter, a writer's pen moves with such intricacy, carefully weaving the stories of life. Every character conceived like snowdrops from the sky, every moment unfolding like breeze of the cold winter solstice. Page 2
  • 3. Writers’ Avenue Issue 2 Editors’ thoughts Leys It's been a whirlwind of a year, mostly not in a good way. To say that it's been an eventful year is an understatement. Politics, conflicts, typhoons and earthquakes and calamities...that's just here in the Philippines! Perhaps it was all due to the unluckiness of the number 13? In any case, with so many depressing events going on and, for some, so much trauma to live through, the holidays just seem so difficult to celebrate this year. But perhaps it's because of our terrible luck that we need to celebrate the holidays even more? It has been one hectic year and we all deserve to have fun after all we've been through. David Time flew by so fast! Last time I checked it was only August five minutes ago. Kidding aside! A lot of things have happened this year and there were some things that we didn’t expect coming along the way. But the good thing is that another chapter of our lives is yet to be unfolded and it would be an avenue for each of us to start all over again. The year 2013 though, has both been good and bad for me. I had some failures I wished I’d avoided, but I had some good moments too. And I think this year taught me that there are battles in life we’d rather settle with defeat, not because we can’t fight through it, but because it’s not worth it. After all, it’s best to consider what would give us peace of mind. What else. What else. Oh, thank you for yet another successful issue of our magazine and I wish you all the best of the holidays. Just keep the normal blood pressure at bay. Okay? Good times y’all and I hope 2014 would be great for each of us. Keep writing! Page 3
  • 4. Writers’ Avenue Issue 2 Paul Christmas has evolved from a purely religious event to a cross-cultural occassion of thanksgiving charity and remembrance I might not be that of a religious guy but Christmas still makes me giddy, with all the food, friends and travels. This year’s occassion seems to be unusual to me. I walk to the streets at night seeing more houses having decorations than usual, and people seems to be more excited. It felt like everyone’s having a more comfortable shot at life. As I see the christmas lights outside of homes and streets, it felt like hope’s always there and I have nothing to worry after all. I could not wait for the year ahead. I hope that for the next set of holidays, I will celebrating it with a wider smile on my face and that more people will get to share it’s joy. About the magazine The Writers’ Avenue is a Philippine-based digital & print magazine featuring literary works of various genre, providing a venue for budding writers to be heard. Contact Information E-mail writersavenue@outlook.com Scribd Facebook scribd.com/writersavenueph facebook.com/writersavenueph Issuu Twitter issuu.com/writersavenueph twitter.com/writersavenueph Slideshare Tumblr slideshare.net/writersavenueph writersavenueph.tumblr.com Magcloud (print edition) magcloud.com/user/ Cover Photo by Wilhelmina Ramos writersavenueph Page 4
  • 5. Writers’ Avenue Issue 2 Table of Contents Hannah Hunt 6 For the People 19 in the Gallery Catherine Flores Reviews Frida Jönsson Urban Love Now You See Me Saying Your Name 39 Fan Girl 9 41 20 Eishein Fillon Doctolero Charmaine Escalante Staleness 11 by Rainbow Rowell Snow 21 Lace Milan Jackson Weaver White Relic of the Snow 12 Columns Seasons 25 William So Cold Lonely Man Hannah Tucker Silence My Secret Wish 12 December 25 P.S. Gear Kidnap My Baby Indieccentricity Moving House 13 Nothing else will do 26 Dany Liu A Preview 15 Pluviophile 30 Azalea de Guzman Anne Danielle Vergara One Night, Endless 16 20 Good Things in Life 32 Destructions Jake Habitan Leigh Dispo Angry Asian Girl Dani Liu 17 Metro Manila Fillet-o-Fish: Jackson Weaver White Book Fantasy 44 The Lighter 34 Fran Laniado Page 5 46
  • 6. Writers’ Avenue Issue 2 Hannah Hunt Catherine Flores I. flowers bloom. We were two different beings but somehow, in the short amount of time spent, we fell somewhere in the middle. 5th of December, 2012 Cold and frosty outside, a knock occurred on my door. It was winter, the snow coming chaotically. An old friend visited me today, wearing something new for today’s little occasion. It was the first death anniversary of my heart. And it was not every day that someone celebrates such event. Only the crazy ones. And I was that crazy one. But unlike the flowers and willows that grew, she made me crawl. She kept me grounded, like the vines. But we never intertwine. II. 5th of December, 2011 “Ezra?” She called me. About a year ago, Hannah Hunt declared that she was no longer in love with me. Sweet, sweet Hannah Hunt who wore flowers in her hair and told me she was a weeping willow. Her eyes were greener than the grass and deeper than emerald stones. And nothing, absolutely nothing, can compare to her beauty. Snow was slowly and quietly falling down. We were in this big, abandoned skating rink about ten blocks away from her home. Sitting down on the iced ground, she hummed quietly. And I smiled to myself. I flew an ocean away to be with her tonight, blew off all the money I had in my bank account and even disobeyed my parents just so I could witness all the beauty I had witnessed that night. There were lights in her eyes that sparkled brighter than the fireworks displayed in the sky. Her lips were thin and dry and spoke of poetic verses of Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf. I had to put my coat on her just to make sure she wouldn’t catch a cold. I didn’t want her to be sick because of me. But she was no longer in love with me. She told me that time played the very crucial part of our relationship. Time was the culprit. And she blamed the oceans, too. While I lived somewhere in the country, deep within the country, Hannah Hunt lived an ocean away, there in the middle of the busiest city in the world - tall skyscrapers, grand, lavish lifestyle. But she hated the city so she would always go out and travel alone, somewhere where trees grow and Of all the times we had seen each other in flesh (as far as I can Page 6
  • 7. Writers’ Avenue Issue 2 remember, it was five times), tonight was her most beautiful. she bent down to kiss me. I felt the transferring of soul to another soul happened because I’d like to think that I was dying and she was trying to bring me to life again. “Yeah?” I answered as I squeezed her hand. She looked straight to the windows of my soul. To be lost in her gaze and to be found in them was one of the beautiful things that could ever happen to me. But she didn’t. She didn’t even tell me why she was no longer in love with me. Instead, she pulled away, smiled bitterly, and walked away from me. She walked away from my life. Tears suddenly sprung out from her eyes, like pretty little jewels rolling down her pale cheeks. I began to worry. I was always worried about something. A strange and unhappy habit I inherited from my Father, who was always worried about something that he shouldn’t be worrying about. That was the last time I saw and heard of Hannah Hunt. III. 5th of December, 2012 “It’s been a year, Ezra. Why would you wait for something that you know will never happen?” “I am not in love with you anymore.” she quietly said, almost a whisper to the wind. I looked at my old friend and shook my head. Clearly, he didn’t understand me. He didn’t understand the heartbreaking and The lights in her eyes started to lose its significance and time stood still between the two us. We were sitting side by side but for some reason, I felt that we were oceans away from each other. She was near and et so far away. She was at the palm of my hands but she was also slipping away. There she was beside me and yet I was all alone in the cold. Everything around me began to melt. The snow, the scenery, the very existence of Hannah Hunt with me. bone crushing situation that I was in. Nobody ever understands you when you’re going through like this. They all like to think they do but it’s so easy to tell someone it’s going to be okay when you’re not in their position. When your heart is breaking, you feel as if your whole body is breaking too. From your bones up to your brain. Then your soul follows and everything is dead on the spot. It’s like dying but you know deep within you, you’re still alive. I felt myself melting away as well. She stood up, returned my coat to me, and without saying a word, Page 7
  • 8. Writers’ Avenue Issue 2 Barely breathing. Just barely breathing. floor, the roundness of her breast, the thickness of her thighs, and the fall of her hair on her back. She was beyond beautiful. And like how George Harrison sung his iconic Beatle song, there was something in the way she moved that attracted me like no other lover. And yet she was not here anymore. “I know that she’ll come around,” I almost shouted. “And what if she doesn’t?” “She will! You just wait for it!” But it’s been a year. I’ve heard nothing from her. No emails, no messages, no phone-calls. It was as if she never existed. It was as if she’s something I’d imagined all along. She’s gone forever. My old friend tapped my shoulder and I looked at him. And I was surprised to realize that my old friend was also me. Did I imagine her? My own reflection staring back at me but he was younger and more handsome. He looked tired but there was a glow on his face. It was the old me a year ago. The one that Hannah Hunt left. The one who was always worried about something. The one who flew an ocean away just to be with someone who was not in love with me anymore. And yet she was real. She was definitely real. I’ve shared countless moment with her. I’ve held her hands and captured her around my embrace. I kissed her lips and even her eyelids. I talked to her about certain things, discussed matters, and debated over silly stuff we could possibly imagine. We laughed over corny jokes and dined out to inexpensive restaurants in the metro. I was the vine that crawled. And Hannah Hunt, well, she’s the flower but also the weeping willow. We’ve shared the same bed for two nights and I saw her naked once. She wasn’t angry about it. And I think she wanted me to see her naked. The snow continued falling down outside. Like little tears frozen in time. I could still see it. The curve of her body, her shadow dancing on the xxxxx Page 8
  • 9. Writers’ Avenue Issue 2 Urban Love Eishein Fillon Doctolero Tonight, I figured out what it is that I love most about cities. And it explains my unquenchable appetite to travel, my need for it, and my constant wanderlust. I believe cities have personalities, quirks, mannerisms. If I told you that cities have souls, would you believe me? Because I think they do. You can see its softness during sunrise, when the sun rises over the buildings, and you feel the city stir and yawn as the sun tickles the slumbering city. The way the soft morning glow reflects on windows, and the way birds sing to each other and at people walking below on sidewalks from tree branches, or perched on ledges like kings and queens of the morning. The way water droplets sit on leaves and on the bottom of windowsills as they begin their journey and the way the morning scent welcomes a new day as children make their way to school and grown men and women hustle along. You can feel its fiery passion during rush hours, as traffic lights cycle between the lazy greens, and commanding reds; as cars honk at each other and as Page 9
  • 10. Writers’ Avenue Issue 2 windows roll down and words are spoken out loud. You can see it as buses rush through, and trains whine from the loads of people they carry. You can hear it from the sirens of cop cars and fire trucks and ambulances. You can feel its emotions during rainy days - when the world seems to slow down, and becomes quiet as water flows through pipes, gutters, and down manholes as they make their way to the sea. It’s in the way the rain plays its rhythm on rooftops, on pavement and on umbrellas and rainboots. You can hear it as the city takes a deep breath and lets out a sigh of contentment and pride... You can see its eternal youth after the sun has If I told you that cities have set, lights dim down, curtains close and the nocturnal side of the city comes to life. Neon lights, heavy bass, and a night full of invitations of sin and other versions of passion fill the night, dancing away until mor/ning comes. souls, would Most importantly, you can find it in the people - on their faces as you jog down the park, saying you believe me? good morning to other joggers. You’ll find it in their enthusiasm for the football team or the hockey team, on their cars, and on their bikes. You can see it in front of stores, a projection of the people that own it, and on garage sales, and yard sales. You can see it on their faces as they watch the sky fill with fireworks, and you can hear it in their voices as they talk about the weekend’s upcoming festivities. You can find it in coffee shops, thrift stores, and in the crowds of people as they come together for a common reason, holding up candles, exchanging smiles and laughter and the unspoken word: "Home." I fall in love with people - their souls - all the time, and cities are.. really not that different. xxxxx Page 10
  • 11. Writers’ Avenue Issue 2 Staleness Lace Milan Holy boys with unholy fingers dusted with They’re screaming FALL FLAIL FAIL; the ash of the parched. they’re screaming decay. I can’t look at him not because he is candlelight, but because he is her anchor. You’re in a dirty public bathhouse with a boy who is half-corpse and half-god. He Anatomy— slips into your pool, gritty chipped nails mouth: raw wood (insert: aching) and immaculate ivory teeth and all, and tear ducts: dried fruit (insert: sweet/rotten) why are you lowering your lips to the knuckles: water? caked gunpowder (insert: bite/bullet ?) pores: clogged with the way you clear You make me feel like a car crash, but I your goddamn throat have to stop being so selfish. I have to —but not so much. peel myself open and extract the saltwater toffee from the wounds in your mouth. “What’s up?” You want to know what’s up? His sweat on my skin does not evaporate. There’s a hole in my chest and it’s so Nothing cools and everything is saturated. heavy that I stagger. Swallow his voice, choke it with the Is that the way you like it? Sometimes his muscles of your esophagus: eyes are sulfur, sometimes peroxide, and is suddenly everything is in black and white that the way you like it? there is static in your arteries and it’s “She will never know how to sail and sink in threatening to spread you, and not cry for help.” But that was you are backed into a cliff. before you ran with the wolves. I was going to be his knight and he was Yes, you have to jump- going to be my prince, but I forgot all about princesses. A choir is approaching and do you think, in all their heavenly aura, This is not a parallel universe. This is they’re angels? misplaced energy. Page 11
  • 12. Writers’ Avenue Issue 2 Relic of the Snow Silence William So P.S. Gear The frosted winter snow lazily rappelled In the silence of snow off the red plumed sky Only gravity is heard Like the bedded escape onto the mittens you wove for me, fitting snug like our interlocked fingers. diving into a rustling sauna In the silence of cold Our percolating warmth had melted the snow on the bench as Only the wind is heard Like a sharp intake A lover’s body slides close the leafless arms of the onlookers heralding the sneak of icicle digits In the silence of night swayed to the tempo of our beats. I hear only you I remember, still, the taste of spearmint Through the cloud of dreams at the corner of your lips Our fires lace like fingertips plucking out a hot chocolate melody and how they tasted of a slight tinge of happiness. But Father Winter could not stay long, you said, and with him he took our footprints - a relic of the snow. Page 12
  • 13. Writers’ Avenue Issue 2 Moving House Jackson Weaver White It’s the last day of the year as he looks down at the city from his window, as he fogs it with his breath and wipes a hand through it. There’s no snow on the ground, it’s just cold and he dresses slowly, grabs a windbreaker from the banister as he crosses it and sits at the table as his mother serves pancakes that he doesn’t eat. When everyone else is done he turns from staring at the wall and helps clean the plates, then leaves out the back door into winter that bites the tip of his nose and everything far from his heart. He leaves footprints in the grass and breaks ice from the hinges as he pushes open the gate to the road. It’s the last day of the year as he walks up the hill, and there isn’t a person out yet. A crow lands on a branch above him and sends leaves down and caws once at the clouds, then flies off as he reaches the pile of rocks outside the house. He dips to his knees and levels his head with one of the cracks, his windbreaker suddenly lifting and fighting to outline his bones. There isn’t a person out, the street is silent and everything grey. It’s the last day of the year as he slides a hand into the darkness, feels the silk of a thousand spider webs stretching then breaking around his fingers, then the back of the wall built of concrete, and his fingers scratch and search for a while. There’s nothing there, though, and he snatches his hand out of the hole When he hears creaking springs behind him and turns to see a boy bouncing on a trampoline, staring at him, knees barely even bending. He snatches his hand from the hole as if it were burning and runs back home, ignoring the stunned look from his mother as he slams the door and goes up the stairs. In his room he tears off the windbreaker, the shirt, kicks off his shoes and pants, slides into his bed and turns to face the wall. He’s crying when his father comes in. Page 13
  • 14. Writers’ Avenue Issue 2 It’s the last day of the year he says to the wall, I don’t want to leave. We just got here, I don’t want to leave. I don’t want things to change he says, and his father sighs and sits on the end of his bed and runs a hand up and down his son’s “I don’t want to leave. I don’t back above the covers as he shakes and sobs. His son says “It wasn’t there, it wasn’t there” but his father doesn’t know what he’s talking about, want things doesn’t remember, he just repeats “It’s ok, it’s ok” until the boy is quiet, then he stands and says “I love you” and walks away. He switches off the to change” light before he leaves and closes the door. It’s the end of the year. It’s the end of the year in darkness, after he had stopped crying and rejected invitations to come watch things drop on the television with the rest of the family. It’s the end of the year, or seconds to it, when he reaches a hand by chance between the mattress and the wall, and feels his fingers brush against what he’d left there, rub against the smoothness of plastic, and the warmth it got from sitting by the vent. It’s the end of the year, but he holds the toy to his chest and stares at the ceiling, whispering how nothing changes into the space he won’t grow up in, and it’s the end of the year as he gives up crying, gives up memories, and gives up his home. xxxxx Page 14
  • 15. Writers’ Avenue Issue 2 Book Fantasy Azalea De Guzman Maybe a cup of espresso will not catch her fancy. Maybe she’s the type of girl who prefers the smell of worn-out library books over the aroma of coffee beans. It’s her eau de parfum; she keeps this lovely scent on her fingers, as she flips through the pages of her books. There, in the labyrinth of bookshelves, I’ll see her searching for the perfect story. I’ll see the wonder in her eyes as she strokes the spines of each treasure. I’ll see the delight on her face when an author she liked finds its way on her hands. I’ll see her caress it with delicate fingers, as if her whole world lies on the book. The sight of her will muster up my courage to talk. I’ll ask her of favorite books and characters. We’ll go on and on about the awesomeness of JK Rowling and John Green. Then we’ll have an endless talk about our love for fiction and metaphors. Like a book, I’ll read her chapter to chapter with zeal. She’s the book that one couldn’t put down. She’s the book filled with highlights and dog ears. She’s the book which haunts you at night with beautiful words. Then I’ll take her to Dickens and Fitzgerald and she’ll take me to Austen and Bronte. We’ll sail the world in the frigates of our imaginations. We’ll be happy and contented and we’ll wish that we could be stranded in the seas of our minds and be lost in that world forever. But in reality, I’ll just see her there in the corner, alone with a paperback. She’s the kind of bookworm who doesn’t want to be disturbed in her reading. She won’t notice me as I sit next to her. It will go on for hours and we will be in our own different worlds. It won’t cross her mind of this magical moment, a deus ex machina, when the faint sound of the flipping of pages, the catharsis felt of two people, and the beautiful souls of the books we read, are communicating in ways I cannot fathom. I’m sad of the possibility that we won’t meet the way I expected. Maybe the only thing that I could do from this magical moment is by making it into a story. It won’t be a bestseller or a classic. It won’t even be published. But it’s mine and it’s hers, and somewhere in my fantasies - it’s ours. Page 15
  • 16. Writers’ Avenue Issue 2 One Night, Endless Destructions Leigh Dispo The aftermath of the war Now I come back inside my head could only to the kingdom of your heavenly touch linger and troubled musings. and the remaining thought of I raise my sword, your arms promises, wrapped around me would last words— vanish our past buried within in a matter of seconds. a chaos within a chaos within a chaos—then there shall be My eyes adjusting to the blurriness only of my room, the cold embrace of cries and screams. my blankets sending shivers down my spine, How I wish this war and the soft sound of my breaths would never be over. against the dream where And that these wounds our existence were in the same would stay fresh planet— until the last drop of our blood hit the the planet where we met and chose ground, to increase the extent of this lie. the night end underneath my cold blankets, the sun shine once more upon this planet. Page 16
  • 17. Writers’ Avenue Issue 2 Angry Asian Girl Dani Liu I am afraid that if I keep writing less piercing. I am not a pair of slanted about love all the time you will get the eyes and dark hair. I am not a silent doll wrong idea about me, that I am some you can place on your bedside drawer to dreamy little girl with her head in the play with when it suits your fancy. I am a clouds. That I am constantly looking killer, but not a ninja. I am a lover, but not wistfully for my prince in shining armor, your voiceless Asian maiden. I am here and I am locked up in some high tower, for my orgasms, not yours. waiting for my life to begin. I have had enough of these restricting And you couldn’t be further from the gender roles, those micro racist truth. I am no innocent maiden. I am a comments, warrior, a soldier, a lover and a fighter all that chafe against my skin like a rolled in one. I fight for love, and I love to sandpaper dress. I’ve had enough of fight. My punches could knock your people asking me if I’m good at math, if I teeth out the back of your head, and I want to be a doctor, if my parents are could send a kick that would send you to over controlling. I’m done with you and the hospital. I am tough, but I’m no your cookie. fantasies of sexual liberation. I don’t white these casual savior aggressions complex, your need you to pleasure myself. My dildo is Do not underestimate the extent of my not shaped like your penis; it’s shaped rage. Just because I speak softly does like the inside of my vagina. not mean my heart does not pound loudly in my chest. Just because I write I’m sick of people telling me that I’m poetry does not mean I cannot scream a not like other girls. I am like other girls. I battle cry. Just because I am young and am like my sisters, who face the same a woman does not mean I cannot slay challenges, the same glass ceiling and you, the dragon, the prince, and anyone the sexual harassment and the fear of else who tries to tell me who I should be. rape every goddamn day. I am like the I am an Asian woman, but I am no other women who are called prudes geisha, no dragon lady, nor tiger mom. I when they cover themselves up and am not one of your stereotypes, one of sluts when they show their skin. I’m like your stupid caricatures that mock my the girls who just want to have fun, and accent, as if the words I speak with a I’m like the girls who want to sit down thick tongue are somehow less sharp, and study hard so they can have a good Page 17
  • 18. Writers’ Avenue Issue 2 future. I’m like the girls who like to flirt with your condescension, your with the boys at the bar, and I’m like the paternalism, and your sugar daddy girls who like other girls and don’t want tendencies. I won’t tolerate the way you anything to do with men at all. I’m like laugh at my parents’ accents, the way the girls who sing in the choir and who you mock me with that “ching chong” are on the cheerleading squad, and I’m bullshit, how you pull your eyes into slits like the girls who are on the trivia team behind my back. My eyes may be and the ones who write in their journals narrow, but they see a much wider world during the lunch period. than your narrow heart. I hate it when men tell me they enjoy So stop asking me where I’m really Asian women as if I should take it as a from. Stop telling me to go back to compliment, as though I should be where I came from. Stop telling me to grateful to be sexualized and objectified. that people like me are stealing your I exist for their viewing pleasure, and I jobs and ruining your country, stop filling should be happy that they do in fact find my head with your white supremacist me pleasing. I am not flattered when you bullshit and forcing me to choke down praise my almond shaped eyes or my my own internalized racism and sexism. slim figure. I don’t enjoy it when you Stop telling me that it’s all in my head mangle my language with your white and that I should be grateful that you colonizing tongue, when you say “ni even allow me to exist. hao” and “xie xie” as though I should be impressed that you would find our I will scream and smash things and words worthy of your speech. Take my apologize to no one. I will take a stand, beautiful mother tongue out of your and no matter how hard you try to trip filthy mouth. me, I will continue to march on into a world where you don’t matter, and it’s I’m done with the racism and my dreams that count. I will no longer misogyny that overwhelms me every see the world through your blue eyes. I time I walk through the door. I’m through will no longer hate my nose and my eyes with the narrow boxes you’ve tried to fit when I look in the mirror. I will love me into, the ropes with which you’ve myself, no matter how much you try to bound my wrists and ankles, the gags stop me. I will be victorious. you’ve placed in my mouth. I’ve had it Page 18
  • 19. Writers’ Avenue Issue 2 For the people in the gallery Frida Jönsson Those who long for the snow never feel the cold the way we do, my love. They are inside and we’re out here, a fake fire at our feet that does nothing for the frost in our hearts. We are cold and they are hungry for their lives to start. We are the ones who cannot write for the blood dripping down, destroying the paper in front of us. We throw it away with shaky hands and they pick it up. Using our scraps they create a canvas and after adding color and shade to our blood they say this is art. Come look at it. (One day we would like to be one of them, wouldn’t we my darling? Oh my love, how happy we would be, how touched by the gold frame and ignorant of the black pain.) Watching from afar they write about foreign feelings in neat notebooks and they think, long, wish, dream about the life they could lead if they’d dare to let go. Let us never say that once you let go there is no way to unsee, unfeel. Undo. Let us never tell them there is no going back. Let us be silent and wait for the cold to come. (You might think it harsh, my dear, but less people inside means more sisters and brothers standing with us out here.) The winter is coming, the smoke from our cigarettes freeze in the air. The blood that keeps dripping down in the snow is creating a pattern you cannot take inside. That is one piece of art they cannot frame. That is the last shred of our soul they cannot tame. Page 19
  • 20. Writers’ Avenue Issue 2 Saying Your Name Charmaine Louise Escalante In May, I tried to bury you in ash but come December, I still remember you. Spent matchsticks on the kitchen table. Even now, my mouth still taste of ash, still feel like sandpaper against my tongue. I don’t blame you. I try not to. During the first summer you left, I have set my insides on fire. For hours, my lungs were smoldering in embers. For days, I have coughed dark smoke until everything was clear again. When the fireman came to put out all the fire, or at least what was left of it, he leaned over me and swore he could hear you whisper from inside, asking to be saved. But I said to him instead, I am the girl who needs saving. It should not have been this way. You should have disappeared for every time I exhaled through my mouth, it should have gone away the moment all the towers fell and the ashes had landed into my stomach. There is a forest fire inside of me that could not be put out by just water, by just the wind. Once, a boy came to me and tried to save my lungs from burning, held my hands so tight but got blisters in his hands instead. Maybe a fire alarm from somewhere sounded off, woke you up from your deep sleep. And even before the flames could reach you, you’ve escaped to other parts of me where all the smoke couldn’t reach. Maybe you ran back into my heart because there’s so much water in there, so much of everything to live by. I wish forgetting was as easy as burning the physical evidence that you existed—that we somehow existed. It is already December. Seven months from the tragedy and yet there is still no progress. I can still feel you move about from inside of me. There are still days when I catch myself saying your name out loud in public places. Some people think of me as crazy. Yesterday, on my way home from school, instead of handing out my fare, when I dropped my change on the convenient store counter by accident, instead of picking them up myself and apologizing for the hold up. When I stepped into the place where we met for the first time, instead of simply walking away and pretending it meant nothing. Your name escapes my lips in half syllables, in short vowels. Scratch the inside of my throat into a stutter, before I could even stop myself. For so long, I have taught myself to keep quiet. I have mastered the art of staying quiet, spending years blending into the colour of the wall of every room. I have lived a decade trying to set fire remorse, and sadness and even memory. But you—the boy with hair like feathers and dimpled smile and has freckles on his nose that look closely like the night sky—you are meant to be spoken, meant to be said out loud. Because you are not a secret; you are not meant to be. And even when the air has all cleared out, all the dark smoke gone, and my organs now charred black, all the towers in ashes, you’ll always come back like a spring flower. Page 20
  • 21. Writers’ Avenue Issue 2 Snow Jackson Weaver White The road fell out before them like an unfinished lie and he looked over to the boy in the passenger seat. He brought one hand up from the steering wheel and hung it in the air, over the boy’s leg, and looked around then finally put it down, but it was no comfort and the boy shook it off angrily. There were still burrs in his hair, but he didn’t try to touch or fix him again. It started to snow again, the old, smooth tires skipped to find something solid, and the boy sat up, only slightly, only just hinting he was worried. He turned in his seat, reached behind him and found his bag, dirt stained and damp and as filled with burrs as his shaggy hair still, and he brought it to his lap. The seatbelt lay slashed beside him, but he grabbed it in his hand anyways as the car slid again and wind pushed snow from the windshield, showed them for a second where they were. The man raked a hand through his hair and tried steering somewhere that wasn’t ice. The boy looked out to the frozen water, all flat and snow pushed around over it, and looked over to the driver just as the car found a new axis, heaved over with intention. Glass blew past his face and cold air and colder water caressed it; he screamed and there was darkness, and the man reached out a hand to him, but the car flipped forward and his arm was pushed away. Time stood as the hood picked itself in the snow and the cabin tilted up, then down towards the blue grey, and after another scream there was darkness for him, too. Wind really does whistle, and the car sat, still and battered, in the storm, hidden in a whole world at freezing point. — I love you she said, but he was asleep so she pawed at his hair and picked the plants from it. She coughed once and then again, she kissed the top of his head and stood up. Page 21
  • 22. Writers’ Avenue Issue 2 — The boy crawled over to him in the howling and broken glass, mixing tears with melting snow, and screamed through the noise, shaking him and crying. He shook him and cried and shimmied backwards through the window of the overturned car, stood, then cried and took hesitant steps which fell deep into the snow and sent him falling over. He went to punch the broken machine in anger but held back at the last second and went back into the wreckage. — The fire was dead and it was growing colder, the land was freezing behind them but she was growing slower, when the sun rose there was a flash from the ice brighter and brighter each day. She woke him up afterwards. Somewhere south lie a gunshot a tree cracked from the cold, and without waking he began shivering. Teeth chattering and for the first time in weeks she saw the breath rise from his mouth, and then her own too. She looked around, through the trees and dead plants, wanted to cry, and the tree cracked like a gunshot in the south. — The fire he made snapped and was certain of itself before the boy went back to the window, cut the man’s seatbelt with his knife, and dragged him through the snow and calmed weather, laid him out sideways to the fire and searched for one of the blankets. He sat against the car, watched the man’s face carefully, and took off his own gloves and jacket and held them one by one over the fire with the fishing rod. He took a tarp from the trunk and stretched it from the undercarriage to the ground behind the man and laid his clothes out to stay dry and not be soaked again by his nervous sweat or tears. The boy spoke to him, as the wind faded and darkness grew. It was the most quiet it had been, and he spoke breaking it. The man bled slowly onto the snow and the boy stopped mid speech when he saw it drifting towards the fire, that massive blooming thing beneath him. He went back to the truck and took out the Page 22
  • 23. Writers’ Avenue Issue 2 red case and fixed the man as best he could, cried bastard into the night as he did, noticed a burr in the man’s hair and picked it out. Flames snapped again and he sat and spoke of how he missed his friends, looked up at the dirty tarp and spoke about his home, spoke about his friends and house, so long ago. He spoke words that covered the moments like salve and spoke about everything he hadn’t for so long. The makeshift tent grew warm and he took off his shirt, laid it out over the rest, and showed his scars and skin to the flickering light. The man spoke, with a thick voice and closed eyes. The boy stopped, half covered by the blankets, the man opened an eye and raised his head, looked around, coughed and groaned from the pain, and spoke again. — I love you she said, knelt down beside him and held his head in her lap. I love you, and she pawed his head and he slowly stopped shaking, slowly he was still enough for her to just stare, just watch, to see the blue veins wrapped beneath skin like cellophane, like wax, like ice. I love you, she said, and wanted to punch the earth but pawed his hair instead. — Wind picked up and another storm started, as the boy watched the man fade and slowly die in front of him. Trade winds from the North and South battled over the dead earth as the tent heated slowly from the fire. ‘I’m sorry,’ but the boy was already gone, rolled out the side into the cold and running through wind like he had through the trees just a few weeks ago, through the forest from the man who shouted after him. Before they’d crashed, burrs had stuck to his hair as he pushed past branches. He’d pushed farther and heard a waterfall, so huge his chest rumbled with it, and as he pushed through the last of the trees he came to a cliff, and saw it. Page 23
  • 24. Writers’ Avenue Issue 2 Built up from ice above him, was a ledge so large it held trees. He walked around it and saw their bones bloom and shrink, walked around it then in it, through a hollow in the back. Fresh water fell from the top, off the side down the cliff and he walked through that hollow towards the edge. When he reached the end of the cliff he stopped, and the man eventually caught up with him. — She kissed his head and stood up. The sun flashed on the ice and snow off on the horizon. It was on all sides now, and she took the jacket from her shoulders and laid it over him, she took the bag slung from her shoulders and left it beside him. I love you she said, and started walking north. — He knelt in the snow far from the dead truck and dying man and watched the bits of snow all moving together. They chased and ran from each other, then fell to the ground and the wind picked them up to slide again. He’d reached the cliff and the man had caught up to him and they looked at the terrible beauty of the planet through the waterfall. They saw the white catching up with them and the man held his shoulders. ‘I’m sure she’s fine,’ he said. ‘We’ll meet her south.’ Now, though, the storm pulled at the burrs still in his hair, wind-made crown around his face, and he grew warm and tired and didn’t want to run anymore. Back at the waterfall, he’d taken the lie the man reluctantly gave. The boy looked up to him, and, gazing from the open cave, spread out to the sky making echoes, the man pawed the boy’s head and told him happiness, tears and all. Page 24
  • 25. Writers’ Avenue Issue 2 Seasons Hannah Tucker I saw the first chill of winter in your eyes, and quickly turned away, longing for the warmth of summer or the rebirth of spring. December Indieccentricity a little girl born on winter embracing warm Christmas lights and the joy of the holidays grew up to face the world with rough winds, cold snow and dark nights dominating the day she first saw the world when the year was about to end so maybe that’s why she’s so used to goodbyes a little girl born on winter grows older and colder as seasons do was named December Page 25
  • 26. Writers’ Avenue Issue 2 Nothing else will do Dani Liu The other day, someone asked me what I do if I get writers’ block. And I thought about it for a moment, and then I said, “I keep writing anyway.” We used to have to keep these silly little journals in fourth grade, where we were supposed to write about our day and stuff. Our teacher would read them and respond to whatever it was we wrote. I didn’t want to talk about my day, so I wrote these random stories. I remember one of them was about a king who turned everything he touched into jello. My teacher got kind of mad at me, and told me to stop writing stories. She said, “If you don’t know what to write, just write ‘I don’t know what to write.’” And I rolled my eyes on her, and she told me not to give her that attitude. I wrote ‘I don’t know what to write’ for pages and pages, even though I knew exactly what I wanted to write. When I was in sixth grade, I got this huge industrial sized journal from Sam’s Club for my birthday, and I started filling it out. My handwriting was horrible then. It didn’t fit between the already wide lines, and the letters jumped around as if they didn’t want to be contained. I skipped half of second and third grade, so I never really learned cursive. But penmanship wasn’t really my priority. I was more concerned about becoming the person that I was going to be. I continued writing in those journals throughout seventh and eighth grade, throughout high school and a little into my freshman year of college. I downsized from the industrial journals to journals with wooden covers, journals with clasps, with pretty covers and lines that were closer together. Keeping a journal made me feel important in some ways, as though my daily life might someday be part of an important historical document. Page 26
  • 27. Writers’ Avenue Issue 2 I wrote conversations to myself, weird dialogues where I talked to someone older and wiser than me. I separated out the parts of myself with sense, and the parts that wanted to dream. I drew probability diagrams for the likelihood of ending up with some boy, and I wrote elaborate fantasies where boys would call and pledge their love for me and I would hang up without saying a word. Throughout grade school I was awkward and unpopular. I sat at the back of the bus, part of the peanut gallery that laughed at the jokes of my more charismatic friends. I clung to a small group, and tried to ignore the times when they hung out after school without inviting me. No one asked me to go to their birthday party, and when they did I didn’t go anyway. I guess things started turning around when I found Power of the Pen, which was this writing competition for seventh and eighth graders. You wrote for forty minutes based on some prompt, like “The Third ___” or “The Mouth” or “Barbaric Yawp”, and then judges ranked you from one to six. I made it all the way to states, but never to the power round, which was the fifty best writers at the end of the tournament. I placed a few times in seventh grade, and even won a best of round, but not in eighth grade. And this was, I think, the first time I realized I was really good at something, a talent beyond the typical acquisition of good grades. This wasn’t something that my parents had trained me to do, like piano or violin or math; it was something I had developed entirely on my own, by swallowing all the words in all those books, and then rearranging them on my page. I felt a strange, fierce joy whenever I finished a story. My eighth grade teacher had us make a portfolio with all of our stories, and he put them up on poster boards, and we had a mini-fair where we walked around and voted on people’s work. Mine performed very well, and at the end of my middle school career, my teacher gave me the book award for English, a Page 27
  • 28. Writers’ Avenue Issue 2 book of poems by Billy Collins. He wrote in the jacket that Collins wrote with certain clarity, and that was what he saw in my work. He told me never to stop writing. And, with the exception of a few months earlier this year, and one of my depressive phases after freshman year, I really never have. I started writing a novel on September 25th, and I finished it a few days ago, on the 14th. It was 426 pages, and I have never written anything so long. The last week I averaged about twenty pages a day, because I could see so clearly what I wanted to happen, as though the story was playing before my eyes on a movie screen. And now I am about twenty five pages into the sequel. My dad keeps telling me to stop writing so much, to focus on my schoolwork instead. And I don’t know how to tell him that asking me to stop writing would be like asking me to stop breathing, or walking, or laughing. It’s not something I have to force myself to do, like the rest of school. It’s not something I can resist doing really, especially when I get an idea, or I hear a song with lyrics I really like, the way I did this morning. All I have to do is set my fingers gently over my keyboard, and we are off to the races. When I was in high school, my mom wanted me to teach my little brother how to write. She wanted him to do Power of the Pen too, but he wasn’t really interested in creative stuff. He was more into Academic Challenge, their trivia team, and debate club. Which was fine, but my mom kept asking me to teach him how to write like I did. And this was really difficult, because I had no idea how to teach someone else to write. The best I could come up with was just to write the way you thought, to not force your dialogue or make your character say things you wouldn’t expect real people to say. I told him that the best way to learn writing, just like anything else, was to keep doing it. And if he didn’t want to practice, if he Page 28
  • 29. Writers’ Avenue Issue 2 didn’t want to put in the time to learning how to do something well, then he wasn’t going to get good at it, no matter how many books about writing he read. There is something magical about writing, there’s no denying it. How the thoughts in my head, those electrical storms bouncing around my neurons, can somehow be transferred magically to yours, across time and space. How I can make you see pictures, bright and vivid like a diamond mine, without putting a brush to a canvas. How I can show you parts are half a world away. Nothing else makes There’s nothing similar to it. Nothing else me feel as human of myself no one has ever seen, all while you makes me feel as human as words do. Nothing else makes me feel as alive as I do when I write a passage that I’m especially as words do. pleased with, when my fingers tremble with the excitement of touching something that wants to be touched. Nothing else makes my heart race as watching someone read my work, waiting to see how it changes them, as all good art will do. Like a truly beautiful symphony, an essay should strum at your very heartstrings. It should touch you to your core. You should come away from staring at these strange lines feeling like a different person, someone new, someone better. You should shed your old conceptions of the world the way a snake sheds its skin, and emerge fresh and gleaming. The best writing inspires more writing, and I hope that, when you finish this, as we reach the end of our time together, you go to your desk and pull out that journal you got as a birthday present many years ago. I hope you open its fresh, untouched pages, and run your finger down its uncracked spine. And I hope you pull your seat close to the table, and take out a new ballpoint pen, and set it down against the page, ready to write. Page 29
  • 30. Writers’ Avenue Issue 2 Pluviophile Anne Danielle Vergara Pluviophile (n) a lover of rain; someone who finds joy and peace of mind during rainy days I’ve always loved rain, though the cold always makes me look like I’d been crying Quite the contrary, I’ve always loved rain You’d think I’d feel differently Growing up in a country constantly at the receiving end of its unforgiving rages We had our differences, sure. But I’ve always loved rain They say it’s because I’m Aquarian. Not too convinced. Don’t Pisces take to water more? But then again, wasn’t I born and raised on a street with the same name? So yeah, maybe the stars had something to do with it Speaking of things celestial, my mother told me I was her moonchild once ‘Cos I stared at that thing up there, outside the car’s windows, relentlessly Convinced I was being followed Later learning that that thing had something to do with the waves So there you have it, the heavens decreed I fall in love with water But rain has always been my favorite Maybe if l learned to swim properly, or surf, it’d be different As kids, we used to play in the rain a lot We quit when we grew bigger but not that much taller Page 30
  • 31. Writers’ Avenue Issue 2 What with my low immune system and the polluted everything? Forget it Also, the idea had started looking silly But the love persisted Didn’t think I could love rain any more than I already did Until that day I stood staring at it, after lunch Contemplating for a good few seconds if I should just jump in and let it fall, fast, on me already Standing beside a boy, who was proof of all the good life has to offer Wondering after, if he’d been thinking what I was thinking Because for a nano of a second, it certainly felt like he’d jump, if I did Remember? But the day was only half over, and I had no extra clothes Room temperature was already freezing as it was Silly, it almost didn’t matter Rain, of course, washes things away And soon enough, or not soon enough, it washed the boy away too But not that day, never that day Because that day I realized, I could always to stand to love a little bit more And that this is probably the best life has to offer And it matters. Page 31
  • 32. Writers’ Avenue Issue 2 The 20 Good Things in Life Jake Habitan Good music Good films We listened to our songs as we tried We were watching together. I was to lull ourselves to sleep. We exchanged lying on your lap, and you were quietly songs that would speak for our hearts, watching that film. I know that we were whenever we are far from each other, both crying and almost about to cry, on whenever that film, on that scene. we are worried about everything. Good drinks Good dance We both agreed that we wanted to I pulled you closer. I was not drunk, get drunk even we have something to do really. I held your hands, and we danced the following morning. The next thing to our slow beat at that quiet night. We that I could remember is that you were closed our eyes, and hummed our short about to cry, and we were debating on song. the concept of reality, and we were bashing the characters on that film that Good people we were watching. You introduced me to some of your friends. They are good people, indeed. I Good books guess you are really who your friends are. We were both reading that pretty fucked up book, and we both agreed that our heads did really hurt because Good food of it. I assure you, I will finish it with my I cooked you the first lunch we had sanity still with me. together. You were quiet skeptic about it at first, but I believed that you liked it, Good love too. We started cooking it. And do you also remember the first fried rice meal I have cooked to you? Those two were my And you told me that you love me very much, and everything went okay. Good sex favorites. Our warmth mixing with each other as we tasted the sweetness of our skin, of our flesh. My lips get to meet your soft lips, as well as my tongue gets to meet yours. The whole night went on forever. Page 32
  • 33. Writers’ Avenue Issue 2 Good mornings Good deeds That rainy morning when we woke up, and we just stayed on bed as we cuddled for hours and talked about We shared that passion to bring smiles to those people. Good baths many random things. We took the shower together. You Good nights suddenly opened the shower and I We looked at the starry sky and we talked about life. I never wanted that night to end. I never wanted everything ended up scampering because it was really cold, and you just laughed. Good adventures about us to end. We would always hop from one Good kisses place to another. I love Before we entered And you told me that you doing that with you the gate, you leaned because I want every your head towards me place to have a portion love me very much, and and signaled me to of you, of our memories kiss you. I did kiss you. together. That is one of the best Good home everything went okay. secret kisses we ever And had in public. we have realized that home is not Good cuddles any other place that has walls and a roof The night was cold, but you hugged but instead, the feelings we share me really tight. It melted the ice both whenever physically and emotionally. wherever. Good talks We we’re together, whenever, Good memories would talk about almost everything as we walked around. I would You and I, together. Good photographs sometimes tell you jokes and you would get pissed, I know, and I would just laugh. And I love taking photos of you, of Sometimes, we tell stories of people that you doing something, of us together, of are, or were, in our lives. you smiling. I want to have souvenirs of your happy moments while they are still there. Page 33
  • 34. Writers’ Avenue Issue 2 The Lighter Fran Laniado Christmas Eve was usually the best night of the year for her. People don’t do their shopping until it’s too late. Hence there will be always that one person who had been forgotten, in the mad rush to find gifts for everyone else. The girl on the corner selling bootleg DVDs seemed like a reprieve. A small gift for these forgetful people. Her goal tonight was to buy herself a Christmas present. A motel room for the night. A cheap motel, sure. Thin walls and questionable sheets. But still, heat- all night long. A hot shower to wash away the accumulated grime of the city streets. It would cost her over a hundred dollars. But on Christmas Eve, it was doable. The DVDs were new releases or things that had left theaters but not yet had an “official” DVD release. But pricing them at only a few dollars each, she could sell a lot in a short time. But tonight there were several challenges. For one thing it was freezing and it had started to snow. Not the light, pleasant flakes that make everything look like a winter wonderland. This was an icy, slippery snow that made people want to get indoors as soon as possible. They pushed past her when she approached and fanned her wares out in front of them. They’d re-gift something they’d got at the office if they’d forgotten anyone. It just wasn’t worth it to stand out here in the icy, raw, evening. The other problem was the police. They made rounds every ten or fifteen minutes so she had to time herself carefully. Not that night in lockup would be the worst thing. It was indoors and probably heated. But she was fairly sure that it would mean a night with the city’s junkies; the drunk and the high. If she wanted that she could just spend the evening in her apartment. Yes, technically she had a home. And heat and a shower. And she also had a father, a brother and their friends. The reeking smoke was always present; the Page 34
  • 35. Writers’ Avenue Issue 2 bitter smell of tobacco and the earthy smell of marijuana. Sometimes, if there was money, there was also the sickly sweet smell of crack. There were other hazards as well: she had to dodge the glass from broken bottles, the needles from an errant syringe left lying about. But above all, the hands. Not her father or brother thankfully, but their friends’. Their hands were everywhere. Her father and brother laughed. They told her to loosen up. She’d rather die. If she stayed there it was only a matter of time before the hands weren’t the problem anymore. She’d rather take her chances in the cold, wet, streets. But it was getting dark and there were fewer people on the streets now. She slipped into an alley where the roof provided an overhang. She crouched beneath it to count her earnings, hiding the money in her hands and using her body as a shield so no passing thieves would think her easy prey. She had a lot, but not enough. She sighed as she pocketed the cash and considered her options. Not home. Never that. Even if she could find a shelter with room the odds of her leaving it tomorrow with the money still on her were not good. She’d find a subway station to spend the night. Tomorrow morning would be Christmas. There might still be a few last minute gifts needed, as people made their way to their destinations. She might earn enough for a night in a hotel tomorrow. She would find a subway station in a minute. For now, she was too tired, too cold, to get up. She leaned her back against the building and blew on her gloved hands in a futile attempt to warm them further. Various litters had accumulated beneath the overhang. She rustled among it for something, anything useful. Then luck! Perhaps, a cigarette lighter. She held it up to see if it had any fluid inside but the streetlight was too far off and the snow too thick for her to see. She tried it. A small spark and then nothing. On the second try she produced a flame. Result! She thought gleefully and warmed her cold hands over the small flame. She couldn’t make a small fire, she realized, looking around her. It was too wet. But she held the flame as close to her skin as she dared, basking in its warmth. Her life had not always been like this. She could barely remember her mother, who died when she was just a baby. But according to her grandmother, it was at Page 35
  • 36. Writers’ Avenue Issue 2 that time that her father began his epic quest to lose himself in any substance possible, taking his teenage son along for the ride. Before that, her grandmother had claimed, he’d been a decent man. Not great, but he had loved his family. In a way the car that hit her mother destroyed him too, and her brother along with them both. But as long as she’d had her grandmother it wasn’t too bad. She stayed in her grandmother’s tiny apartment. They both lived on a small social security check but it was warm and they’d had each other. There was someone to care that she went to school and was served a decent meal even when times were tough. Crap! Her finger must have slipped because the lighter went out. Please don’t be out of fluid already, she prayed. A smile spread across her face as the flame caught once again. Maybe she wouldn’t have to go to a subway station tonight, she thought. Churches have midnight mass on Christmas Eve, don’t they? Maybe I could go to a church during the mass- they wouldn’t shoo me away for looking dirty- and find a hiding place to spend the night. She’d never been religious, nor had her Grandmother for that matter. She didn’t even think of a specific religion but they couldn’t know that in church. Anyway, if asked, she could always say that she’d recently had a religious awakening. Her fingers lost their grip once again. She should get going. Find a church somewhere. Only she was so tired, and this overhang protected her from worst of the wind and snow. She’d stay for a few more minutes. Just until the lighter fluid ran out, she thought as she re-lit the flame. Her grandmother had died a year ago. Old age. She’d come home from school to find her grandmother on the floor. “No one lives forever”, the paramedic had told her, in case she didn’t already knew. After that she’d moved back in with her father and brother. She’d stayed about two weeks. That’s when the hands started. She was better off sleeping in shelters, in subway stations, anywhere she could find. Not as bad as it sounds. She still got a hot meal in school every day. She could shower in the gym most days too. She could even spend the night on occasion without anyone noticing. But Christmas vacation was hard. She would graduate in a few years which would be harder still. Page 36
  • 37. Writers’ Avenue Issue 2 She didn’t feel the cold anymore. Not really. She’d gotten used to it. Maybe now she should get up. It’s just that she was so tired. And the snow and the wind were brutal out there. Her numb finger slipped from the lighter and she struggled to control her hands enough to get it re-lit. She was sure that the fluid was running low. When it runs out, she promised herself, that’s when I’ll get up and find a place for the night. The flame caught once again. It was on nights like this - when she had a week to go without school, without anywhere to She was so happy, go, that she missed her grandmother the most. Still she had been loved. That was more than a lot of people could lay claim so loved, that she to. She imagined that the wall against her back was her grandmother’s torso. She called to mind the memory of her didn’t even noticed grandmother’s soft lap that she would crawl into as a child. She could smell her grandmother’s scent now, the one that she always associated with warm things: soup, tea, being tucked into her own bed. Her grandmother’s arms were around her now and she snuggled into them warmly as she drifted off to sleep. when the lighter went out. The next morning was icy and cold. Raj brought his partner Adam a cup of hot coffee from the 7-11, pretty much the only place on the block that was open on Christmas day. Adam and Raj weren’t usually partners but they’d volunteered to work on Christmas since neither celebrated the holiday. Not only did working today mean that the others could be at home with their families on the holiday, but it made for major goodwill on the force. If either of them needed to take some time off here or there, they could call in a favor. “Thanks,” Adam said, as he accepted the coffee from Raj. The hot cup warmed his hands. Briefly he wondered why gloves seemed to stop working about ten minutes after you put them on. Page 37
  • 38. Writers’ Avenue Issue 2 The sun shone in the early morning but offered no warmth and the streets were still slippery from last night’s storm. Raj stepped on a patch of ice and slipped, and Adam caught him by the arm, and dragged him back up. “You okay?” Adam asked. “Yeah, thanks.” Raj replied. He seemed distracted. He glanced into the ally by the store. “What is it?” said Adam. “I think someone’s in there” Raj was in the ally now. “Hey get over here!” He called to Adam. When Adam saw what Raj had found, he cursed softly under his breath. Raj had already taken off his gloves to feel for a pulse. He looked up at Adam and shook his head. “Nothing” Checking for a pulse had been a formality. The girl’s lips were blue. That was the only color in her face. A thin layer of frost had already formed over her body. Adam muttered “Poor thing, she’s just a kid.” and called it in. They’d need to get a forensic investigation started, though it seemed perfectly obvious to Adam that she’d frozen to death in the night. “What’s this?” Raj said. Adam knelt down beside him, careful not to disturb anything. A cigarette lighter was clutched in the girl’s death grip. Page 38
  • 39. Writers’ Avenue Issue 2 Reviews Now You See Me (2013) Review by Kryzia Casinillo Crime, Mystery, Thriller Directed by Louise Leterrier Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Morgan Freeman, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Melanie Laurent, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, and Michael Caine Come in close, because the more you think you see, the easier it'll be to fool you. The film starts with four exceptionally gifted magicians from different fields: J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg) an egotistical street magician, Merritt Mckinley (Woody Harrelson) a smart aleck hypnotist, Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher) a vibrant escape artist, and Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) a pickpocketing illusionist. The four talented magicians answer a summons by a mysterious benefactor and a year later, the magicians become The Four Horsemen, a Las Vegas hit sponsored by the multi-millionaire Arthur Tressler. However, when The Four Horsemen perform a logic-defying magic act involving robbing a bank in France in front of a live audience in Las Vegas, authorities start asking questions. And when it is discovered that the Four Horsemen really did commit a bank heist, FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Rufallo) is called in to investigate along with Interpol agent Alma Dray. The Four Horsemen are brought in for questioning but, because of lack of evidence, they are released almost immediately. Dylan Rhodes and Alma Dray employ Thaddeus Bradley, an ex-magician who reveals the secret behind magic tricks, for help and the pair find out that there’s more to the Four Horsemen than meets the eye. As the group continues to outsmart the FBI at every possible turn and as loyalties and integrities are questioned, Dylan Rhodes (and the viewer) are compelled to question what is real and what is fake. Page 39
  • 40. Writers’ Avenue Issue 2 Stellar cast. Riveting premise. One of the movie’s highlights is indeed its star-studded cast. It was fascinating to see famous stars like Morgan Freeman play such interesting roles in the film. And the primary storyline itself is enough to get the viewers’ attention. Stage magicians with a vendetta? Illusionists gone bad? Who wouldn’t be interested? And with breathtaking special effects – the term ‘movie magic’ would be a tad too trite right now – as well as complex and mind-boggling stunts is enough to keep the viewers at the edge of their seats. And let’s not forget the innumerable plot twists in the film. One can hardly hold back a gasp by the end of the movie when the real mastermind of the whole scheme reveals himself. In short, the movie was too unbelievable. …Now you don’t. However, because the film was so fast-moving, characterization suffered as a consequence. Critics have pointed out that most of the characters in the film fell flat and almost no one was developed. The romance between Dylan and Alma was too forced and hasty. Now You See Me has received mixed reviews since its debut earlier this year. Though there are people who thoroughly enjoyed the movie, some felt that it lacked substance and depth. The movie had too much dazzle but not that much to back it up. Some of the Four Horsemen’s tricks were simply too complicated for only four people to carry out no matter how talented they were. In short, the movie was too unbelievable. Despite all of its criticisms though, it can’t be argued that Now You See Me is a fun and action-packed film that’s worth watching. As one reviewer describes the film: “Pure summer magic – literally.” So if you like magic tricks as well as a good old-fashioned mystery movie, I highly recommend Now You See Me. Page 40
  • 41. Writers’ Avenue Fangirl Issue 2 by Rainbow Rowell Review by Kryzia Casinillo Cath’s life revolves sometimes you have to take around three things: her a step outside your comfort more zone enjoy what life has to sociable twin sister and built-in best offer… friend Wren, the great taking the risk of getting and hurt. magical (but even if it means fictional) Simon Snow, Fangirl is about Cather Avery, and reading and writing an Simon Snow fanfiction. Wren kept eighteen-year-old Cath for gave Cath magic, and first time. Cath thoughts and often actively helped Cath disappear. avoids But then Wren starts from the prefers to be alone with her Simon Snow fanfiction on Simon Snow fangirl leaving home grounded, Simon Snow moving introverted making friends, completely the opposite of the fandom and distances herself from Cath in an effort to become more independent. And not only that, the Simon Snow series is coming to an end, the last book about to her vivacious identical twin sister Wren. Simon Snow – an almost-parody of Harry Potter, complete with a scar-free Harry Potter and a looming, dark-haired Draco Malfoy – plays an integral role in Cath’s life. be published in a year’s time. The fantasy series helps Cath hide from The only thing that keeps Cath together is reality. Though Cath socializes very little in writing her Simon Snow fanfiction – even real life, she flourishes as the famous with the anxiety of going to college, the fanfiction author Magicath. The book awkward adjustment to living with a loud chronicles Cath’s experience in her first but usually absent roommate, the distress year of college, from experiencing the of having a Creative Writing professor pain of betrayal to falling in love (with a who detests fanfiction, the constant fear non-fictional boy) for the first time. of leaving her eccentric father alone, and the confusion brought on by boys. However, eventually Cath realizes that although being invisible has its perks, Page 41
  • 42. Writers’ Avenue Issue 2 Unlike other coming-of-age novels set in through obstacle after obstacle but never college, Fangirl didn’t feel rushed or once wavered when it came to writing her insincere or overly dramatic. Rowell treats magnum opus, Carry On, Simon. On the us with realistic situations that most of contrary, Cath got through most of her us – especially the ones that can relate to problems by writing (and sometimes Cath probably reading) fanfics. She disappears within experienced at some point in life. Reading her fanficton in order to get away from about Cath’s exploits (or lack thereof) was reality for just a while. the most – have entertaining and seeing her stubbornly Rainbow Rowell excels in writing realistic refusing to give up on her passions and beliefs but still be able She’s the kind of fiction as well as three-dimensional character you want characters. Cath was a to root for because to grow as a person quirks and snark and all. was awe-inspiring. The plot was paced comfortably but not to the point of droning on and on. The story itself was remarkable in its simplicity great main Her you see yourself or recognize a bit of yourself in her. and protagonist, dorkiness endearing was and entertaining; you can’t help but like her for it. Cath is also a hilarious narrator whose snarky wit helps her creativity; the use of fanfiction as a sort of deal with social situations. Even though anchor for both Cath’s love for writing and, Cath is quite an eccentric (and one of the to some extent, her personality was most famous Simon Snow fanfic authors phenomenal. If you’ve ever loved a series on the internet), Cath feels awkward enough to spend hours and hours reading around people and often suffers from fanfiction written by fellow fans or if you insecurity, actually written fanfiction because, let’s struggling to hide from the world. One of face it, sometimes even the canon is Cath’s strongest points is that she is very missing some spice, then you’ll understand relatable. She’s constantly paranoid about just how integral being an active part of every other thing, something a lot of us, the Simon Snow fandom was for Cath who admittedly, feels the constant need to disappear. well-written and well-developed; she’s the Those who aren’t familiar with fanfiction kind of character you want to root for will get a glimpse of what life is like for a because you see particularly devoted fascinating to watch fangirl. Cath It was stumble Page 42 leaving share as her well. constantly Cath was
  • 43. Writers’ Avenue Issue 2 yourself or recognize a bit of yourself in intensely once the full force of the news her. hits. There were also excerpts from the Simon Snow series and from Cath’s Simon Every character, characters, supported not was her wonderfully just the fleshed out. remarkable crafted major Rowell plot characters, with each distinctive in their own way. manipulative boy-from-Creative-Writing-class Nick, the supportive college lovable spontaneous passages are no more than a page long and often echo Cath’s current situation in the story. However, if you’re not quite interested in reading those brief pieces, From the outspoken roommate Reagan, the Snow fanfics after every chapter. The professor, to the you can skip them without having to worry about missing anything. Overall, Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl is a terrific read with fluid and clever writing and Levi – everyone felt realistic. Another thing to look forward to in Fangirl is the overall writing. and the reader can actually feel Cath’s heartbreak and anguish. but slightly manic personality perfectly. The prose was straightforward most of the time but there was always a tinge of wit and humor throughout the story. Not only did Rowell deliver the humorous parts well, she managed to convey the heavy twists gracefully and masterfully. The intense scenes were written so well that reading them was difficult because the reader can actually feel Cath’s heartbreak and anguish. They were gradual, almost looming over the whole story, which that secure at first but eventually one encounters hitches and setbacks often in succession. Fangirl is a beautiful story about superb. She captured Cath’s imaginative storyline resembles life: steady and Rowell’s narration was both a an awkward girl trying to figure out life and eventually coming out of her shell. “…because nerds like us are allowed to be unironically enthusiastic about stuff… Nerds are allowed to love stuff, like jump-up-and-down-in-the-chair-can’t-con trol-yourself love it. Hank, when people call people nerds, mostly what they’re saying is ‘you like stuff.’ Which is just not a good insult at all. Like, ‘you are too enthusiastic about the consciousness’.” - John Green makes the reader feel the pain even more Page 43 miracle of human
  • 44. Writers’ Avenue Issue 2 Cold, Lonely Guy David Dicolen My Secret Wish I think the worst thing about the holidays is that people expect you to have that “someone”. You know, that “someone” who’s going to hold your hands while you both watch in delight as the kids play with snowballs in the park. That “someone” who would be willing to spend the rest of the night with you on the bed kissing you on your cheek, forehead, and neck, that “someone” who’s going to sit beside you along with your family on a boring lunch in a fancy restaurant, and that “someone” whom you can be proud of because you don’t need to join the rest of the other strangers in the world living the cold season on their own. Was it really that necessary? There were times when I had to backpedal a bit or I’ll end up starting an all-out war with my relatives every time they magnify my lack of company during the holidays. It seemed to them as if I’m the unlucky guy who never felt the warmth of an embrace during the coldest time of the year. Was I to be pitied? I’ve looked at myself in the mirror and saw no desperation or desire to have a girlfriend on my side as the land turns pale and the cold breeze of the wind hit me real hard on the skin. . . But those were back then, when I was still completely fine with my own perfect company. Page 44
  • 45. Writers’ Avenue Issue 2 The years went by and all this I’m-on-my-own-I-don’t-need-a-girlfriend became a trepidation I’m trying to put an end to. It felt like hitting myself on a wall which all those times I have been unaware of. I had to admit I was living in denial and having another presence on my side is what I always secretly wish for during those cold months of December. Maybe just this time though, I have found the courage to accept that I’m no longer happy in the company my own solitude and it has already turned into loneliness. I just can’t help but feel like there’s a hole being dug on my chest every time I walk past the strangers happy at the company of one another during a heavy Was it really that necessary? Was I to be pitied? snowfall. The feeling intensifies even more every time I come across a couple holding each other’s hands, rubbing their faces to feel the warmth of their skins. It’s like drowning in the middle of it all. I have all the reasons to feel how lovely this season is, yet, I am alone, hugged by the series of the clothes that I wear, trying to live in the hopes that maybe it won’t feel this way next time. That I am going to find the girl who will replace this emptiness into wholeness and the No-one-loves-me to I-love-you-back. And that the next time I listen to the kids sing christmas carols, watch the lanterns illuminate the street, and feel the snowdrops from the sky, I am no longer in the company of my own, but happy with her – the one I hoped for and all those times asked for, to jolly old St. Nicholas. Page 45
  • 46. Writers’ Avenue Issue 2 Kidnap my Baby Paul Eugenio Metro Manila Fillet-o-Fish: A Preview I was thinking of a humorous phrase to replace the FF in the MMFF, then in came to mind fillet-o-fish, which was actually my childhood favorite. Nice try, Paul. Such humor. Much wow. Like my attempt to be humorous in this column, the Metro Manila Film Festival tries its best to be entertaining and relevant at the same time, but little does it realize that serious film afficionados have buried it out of relevance for more than a decade. They actually see it more as irritance since foreign movies are banned in cinemas through-out the holidays. Well, there’s the entertaining part still giving the masses an escape while allegedly helping the dying local film industry, when in fact only the big media’s profiting from the windfall. Without further a-do here’s the horrible things our local cinema’is serving us as a holiday present: Girl, Boy, Bakla, Tomboy (Girl, Guy, Gay and Lesbian) Comedy (Star Cinema) Here’s another attempt to mask the usual effeminate gay trope through a somewhat interesting twist. A set of quadruplets were seperated, with the girl and boy living under their father while the gay and lesbian under the mom. And what do you expect than them meeting someplace sometime, then the big revelation that turns their lives around. Yeah, the usual soap opera. Page 46
  • 47. Writers’ Avenue Of course Issue 2 being backed by a huge media conglomerate we get to see the country’s biggest stars. Vice Ganda (a gay comedian) doing her thing, while the Diamond Star Maricel Soriano is back in business after facing several issues regarding her life. Wow, it’ll definitely make the movie a hit. *sarcasm* And of course, having the usual Filipino gay character here, we’ll just get to see loads and loads of stereotypes and prejudice masked as comedy. Kimmy Dora: Ang Kiyemeng Prequel (The Prequel) Comedy, Action (Spring Films) Apologizing if I can’t translate kiyeme since there’s no translation for it anyway. (Local gay lingo.) Kimmy Dora was a hit when it was first released in the local indie scene. Being a money maker, what do you expect but the license picked by mainstream studios. Allegedly a prequel, we get to see a better view of the KimmyDora twins and the events that led to the story narrated by the acclaimed comedy. Eugene Domingo’s a great theater actress and I would definitely expect a nice performance from her here, though not as polished since this is just a mainstream cow anyway. Pagpag: Siyam na Buhay (Pagpag: Nine Lives) Horror (Star Cinema & Regal Films) Of course the MMFF wouldn’t be complete without a horror flick. This one focuses on the Filipino superstition called Pagpag (Shaking Page 47 it Off),
  • 48. Writers’ Avenue Issue 2 meaning that one visiting a wake must not go straight home or else bad luck will follow. I appreciate that the movie wants to feature a little-known Filipino belief, but then it’s a maninstream movie after all and it’s top-billed by the country’s top teen stars. If they hired a more adult (and serious) set of cast, I would be actually watching this. But what do you expect but them wanting to make money out of culture in the first place. My Little Bossings Comedy (Octo-Arts Films) This is one of those movies you don’t want to bother to know the plot since you’ll know from the poster that this is made only for the box office. You got here Vic Sotto (comedian), Kris Aquino (TV host/actress), her son Bimby and child superstar Ryzza Mae and you’ll know this will be a hit, knowing that the main stars were themselves successful in their previous MMFF entries. At least we get a respite from the yearly staple of Enteng Kabisote fantasies and Kris’ pseudo-horror flicks. Bimby will get his much-awaited acting debut while Ryzza’s parents will milk more money out of her fats (err, cuteness). Pedro Calungsod: Batang Martir (Pedro Calungsod, Young Martyr) Biographical (HPI Synergy) It’s been a while since we get a religious flick in the MMFF. It’s not really a popular genre in the film fest even if Filipinos are considered to be religious. One has to Page 48
  • 49. Writers’ Avenue Issue 2 appreciate the effort made by the producers to talk about a relevant topic since Pedro Calungsod was just canonized recently. Now that’s Pinoy Fried and religious fervor working at the same time. But then even if you’re not a religious person you get to appreciate Pedro Calungsod more of an adventure story of a young man sacrificing his life for an opportunity to serve and reach out. Cultural and political issues come into play: was Pedro Calungsod really commendable? Or was he just blindly used in colonizing an island found by Westerners to be barbaric and uncivilized, using the name of religion to achieve this? Was his death even worth it in the first place? (But then if not him dying this way we won’t get this movie.) Then again viewers aren’t watching an MMFF entry to think deeply so we expect the “attack” here to be more entertaining than reflective. Pedro Calungsod is one of my possible bets for the Best Picture entry, feeling how the judges might be swayed away by the appealing topic. After all, it’s Christmas. 10,000 Hours Action (Viva Films) Now this is a movie I’m really interested to watch. Action films are a dying art in Philippine cinema compared to decades past. Here’s Robin Padilla, a known action star, portaying the story of a cop-turned-senator loosely based upon the life of Senator Panfilo Lacson. Lacson, if you’ll remember, has built his career in the police force, fighting organized crime. Page 49
  • 50. Writers’ Avenue Issue 2 But I have mixed feelings in creating a movie based upon his life, or about politicians in particular. For me, when you do a biographical flick, the character must be either too good to be true or too evil. Politcians and their lives seem to be in a gray area, which only creates confusion similar to how people debated about last year’s MMFF entry, El Presidente. One side will just see this as a propaganda, while another will simply enjoying learning about his life even if it could be considered a watered-down, version of it. After all, why it should always be that corrupt politicans will be the center of local action flicks? Boy Golden Biographical / Action (Scenema) Now that’s one horrible poster. ER Ejercito has made a brand out of creating technically slightly superior but questionable films. His highly-celebrated Asiong Salonga garnered a lot of awards two years ago, so as El Presidente. But some people still express reservations on how the stories of these films were written even if the cinematography’s somewhat impressive. Here we get to see ER again portraying someone way younger than his current age, which makes me feel he’s just doing this for a throwback. After all, he still has the charms. KC Concepcion has his partner is interesting too. I never saw her portray a role of a criminal’s sidekick. And of course, knowing that this is about a 1960’s criminal, history buffs will definitely have a roll with this film. Page 50
  • 51. Writers’ Avenue Issue 2 Kaleidoscope World Romance / Musical (iAct) With the lack of a romantic film in the MMFF this year, Kaleidoscope World fills in the void by showing a love story inspired by street culture, and yes, the famous rapper Francis Magalona. I actually have lower expectations to this than the others since it was only meant to replace a film that backed out, much more that we got newbies here producing it. Still, the fact that they’re making a film out of the rapper’s legacy is surely interesting. Though personally, I would find this better if they haven’t made it too obvious by featuring hip-hop. You can actually make an awesome musical by simply employing Francis M.’s songs as musical score. But then since we already got this, let’s just be fascinated to their portrayal of street culture and the lives and dreams of the people behind it. Now that you already know what NOT to expect in the upcoming film festival, take some time to reflect not just of your choice of films for the season but of the state of Philippine cinema in the first place. Let me tell you that MMFF is not the grand picture of our films as it was long time ago, and it will never be. I just feel sad that the organizers aren’t promoting the short films or the independent categories as extensively as this, much more the way we invest in cinema as a reflection of our view of culture. Culture for money, not for creating identity and building a historical record of who we are. Have a happy holiday, folks. I hope you’ll still try to eat fish this season. Page 51
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