"Where is he?" short essay by Alyieaha Smith

Do know the percentage of absent fathers? Well according to fatherfactor.com, 23.6% of U.S. children lived in a fatherless home in 2014 and nearly all the social problems facing America today were raised in a fatherless home.

A child is at four time greater a risk of poverty, seven times greater risk to become a teen parent, two times more likely to drop out of high school, and more likely to commit a crime, go to prison, and suffer obesity.

After I read all of this, I did an interview with two of my friends. I just wanted to know how a male feels and how do females feel. One of my friends said they don’t care as long they have their mom they’re ok. But my other friend said he just wants his father to be there, not for the money, he just wants to spend time with him.

"The Insecure Woman" a short essay by Kayla Bynes

Today I want to address the issues of insecurities with young females.

We get talked about because we are not a size two or the way we dress ourselves or the way we talk. I hear everyday how big an African American woman’s butt is and how her shape is. Some women don’t always have the big butts, or the long hair, or anything else theses model-figured women have. But they have faithful hearts and don’t need an “hourglass figure” to make it in life.

That girl you call fat? She starves herself everyday. Or how about that skinny girl? She eats everything under the sun but for some reason is not the size you want her to be. Every girl wants that love and care these basketball wives have so they try so hard for this “hourglass figure” but nobody see the personality behind the skin. Every woman is the same at heart.

In “Video” by India Arie, she sings “no matter what I’m wearing I will always be India Arie” meaning she will always be who she is no matter what she wears or how she walks or anything of her cultural identity.

Some women have an insecure mind, which has many symptoms like fear of rejection and disapproval from others and ends up isolating them from loved ones and becoming loners. Women seek reassurance in the form of compliments, that they are beautiful, they are being loved and so much more. They need a constant supply of verbal signs, symbols and ongoing reassurance from loved ones.

Insecurities are lies we tell ourselves to tear ourselves apart.

Woman, walk with your head high and smile wide. Look in the mirror and say “I am beautiful the way I am and nobody can tell me different.”

Just be yourself, inside and out.

"Black Lives Matter" a poem by

He shot my best friend

17 years old -- my true love

Lying in his own blood

On the pavement in a neighborhood

Where no one looks twice at a black boy laying on the ground cold as ice

I feared for him-- I feared for myself

But what good is fear if I cannot help someone else?

What will I do without you? Words I'll never speak and a diploma you will never seek.

All because of the wrong crowd picking you out with no doubt that this is the man with whom I'll take my anger out.



The crowd shouts, shots go off and people scatter

My soul shatters,

He was a piece of me.

Not property, not a slave, not a prisoner

Not lazy, three fifths of a person, or even a nigger.

Whether a cousin, a brother, a homie, or a father, whether a sister, a mother, a wife, or a daughter

Not even shootings make these titles less mild but the killings are completely wild and even for women,

We used to be princesses and empresses and now we are often mistaken for the devils temptresses and called lowly names.

We still hold our head held high. Our imaginary crowns never falling as we rant and rave for the justice of our men who were killed without reasonable sin.

"Spring" a short story by James Segura

I wrote this story to try to emphasis anxiety and stress among teens. I want people to get that being grateful for the good things you have gives you life.

The sharp beautiful sun cuts through the weak summer air. The trail is silent except the subtle waves and consistent rotations of the stroller wheels smoothing the ground.

“June are you sure you don’t want to hold May, she’s your baby. You haven’t comforted her in weeks,” says AprilI look at May’s light blue eyes and her soft pale face.

“The truth is I have nothing left to say anymore. Every day that goes by makes me feel empty,” I responded. “Not even the pills help anymore. Besides she loves being in her carriage.”

“You know I can’t take care of your baby anymore.I picked up another shift at the diner and I’m already taking care of yours there is only so much more I can do for you and my mother beats me when I come back home before dark and I gotta take a math test next week, I really got problems too.” April exclaimed, “I can’t babysit you and May anymore.”

“I, I, I’m still trying to find the father.I don’t know what happened.” I stuttered. “I didn’t want this life either…”

April and I are lucky enough to be home before the tide pulls up. I’ve never been so upset to be home. I’m ashamed of leaving my baby with April and for both of us to go to school like we are still teenagers. I open the dark oak door to my room and find my realm just as the way I left it. My momma still makes my bed. I’m constantly worried she’ll look under my mattress to find the pills I’ve been taking from her and the last green papers I’ve been using to pay April. I glanced over to my chrome treasury box on my white night stand. I had since I was ten always stuffing it with sea shells and treats I would find on Long Beach. Now,I fill it up with disappointment. I crack it open like a cactus. I kept a picture of my friend Jack and me at the lighthouse. I used to think he was weird the way he used to stalk me,but somehow I warmed up to him.Every saturday he buys me a vanilla cone at the ice cream store and makes me laugh. Then I uncover my journal, last thing I wrote was in 1993. I don’t write in it anymore, I can’t express myself the way I used to. Everyday that goes by feels endless, probably cause of the drugs, I've taken them ever since I’ve was  raped. I have no clue how it happened. I remember I was at a friend’s party then a boy grabbed me in the dark and then I woke up outside with my blouse ripped and my charm bracelet April gave me gone. he day after that I found out I was pregnant and been fighting myself over it ever since. I suspect it was the boy Viceroy who did it to me, always giving me a tough time in school. I bet i’ll see him tomorrow as my white knight comes just in time to save me, and with that I fall asleep.

            I find myself on the sparkling concrete steps leading up to the brown corridor of my school. I walk through the hallway to see April talking to her friends. I unlock my locker and get prepared to endure my classes. Then suddenly my blond hair gets yanked out of nowhere. I look up to see Viceroy’s grave face in front of me unsurprisingly.

“What’s up slut,” he squirmed

“Leave me alone Viceroy,” I said trying to shake him off.

“You know if you join my gym you could struggle faster ,even lose the weight you got. Maybe not be a crackhead all the time.” He grinned back, holding me against my locker.

“Let go of me!” I grunt as Viceroy puts me down while off spilling my gentle books down to the reckless floor. As he walks off he gets punched in face by Jack.

“I'm sick of bastards like you, “ Jack whispered as he knocks Viceroy down. Viceroy retaliates and hits him back in the craft of his eye. The fight ends quicker than it started as a couple teachers came and pull them apart. Both Viceroy and Jack are escorted back by the stingy school principal.

“Meet me at the pond!” Jack yells as he they pull him away.

I’m so distracted by what just happened, that fight I forgot my things were scattered all other the floor. Luckily April ison it and I make it to my first class on time

I finish my shift for the first time,in a longtime, at the diner without April covering for me. I take off my delicate apron and put on my wide sunflower hat. I skew out of town and shackle onto the emerald grass. I thrust through the humid wind and go through the rough trees. I see,in the strength of the bloom,  Jack holding May sitting beyond the millions of blades of grass and dandelions. He has a whole picnic set up with a red and white canvas blanket, and a picnic basket, under the diluted sun. The pond is full of moss and algae with brown striped geese floating about. My skirt fills up and my lungs blow out as I run over to him.

“The brat and I got suspended for three days,” Jack says as he feeds the geese with crumbs from his sandwich.

“What are you doing with my baby?” I reply

“April gave her to me, she had better things to do,” He says We both stare at the gloom bouncing off the callow like water. He lifts his hand full of small tomatoes and shifts them to my lips tempting them to open.

“I should of find a better spot in the shade,” Jack remarked in censure.

“I think we could both use a little more light in our life,” I respond looking at his right bruised sclera as he stares into the purple outline around both my eyes. “ It's funny, she has your eyes and nose. Maybe you’re the father.”

We both laugh meaningfully. He drifts his hand through the strands of my hair.

“I love you, I really mean that” he whispers

Jack throbs his head forward going for a kiss,but then May starts to cry. Jack trumps her up and down steadily; and just like that she stops crying. He resumes moving closer to my face.

“You were at Viceroy’s stupid party last year right?” I burdened.

“Everybody was at his party last year,” He responds.

“You think Viceroy did it?” I ask.

“Did what?” He says

“You know,” I whisper

“Yeah,sure” He responds

I stared at him once more trying to spot the guilt on his face.

“Do you have anymore of the stuff?” I ask“I only got a few on me right now but I probably could get the rest tomorrow” Jack say stapping each pill down my cupped hands.

“Be Careful with Viceroy. Last year I went through his drawers and found a twelve chamber revolver, I think he’s out to get me,” Jack says.

“He’s just a grumpy virgin bully, he isn't going to do shit to you,” I respond.

“Uh , I gotta get going.ya tomorrow!” Jack utter.

“Jack! Wait you left…!” I scream But it’s too late and just like that Jack is gone like that, in the dark of the night. I see May behind the toasty blankets and the moonlight shining on her glass forehead. I put her in my arms leaving behind the mess Jack and I created; and left hoping that I don't get lectured again.

I wake up inside my room and see the vibrant colors shooting through the sky light window. I take a shower and sober up. I rememberthat I left May on the carriage next to the corner. I pick her up and feed her. I noticed from the grasp of her plump hand the thin string with sea shells clanging on to it. It’s my bracelet. I decide to skip school that day, and then the day after. I am in denial.                                                                        

I travel to the scraping lighthouse to find peace. I walk on the cobblestone trail next to the cherry flavored trees. I see jack placing his hand on the oak bench. He’s wearing a white polo shirt and black pants something unlike him.  He turns his head back and then stares back at the sunrise. I walk closer to him.

“Why are you here?” He asks.

“I know you had my charm bracelet,” I respond

“Oh yeah?” He says.

“You raped me!” I said.

Jack grabs my shoulder and squeezes it violently.

“I love but you never seemed to notice me,” He replies.

“I don’t love you!” I scream back.

Jack put his hands on me next and starts to strangle me. I try to put my hands on his face and  fight him but I can’t.

“Why don’t you love me?” He screams. I fall on the grass . Viceroy comes around the corner,grabs Jack off of me, and smacks his cheeks. Jack  punches Viceroy back and then pushes him to the solid concrete wall of the lighthouse. Jack runs at him, but Viceroy pulls out a gun, aims, and pulls the trigger. Jack falls like a buffalo with a loud sharp bang flowing through miles away. Viceroy pulls the hammer and  aims at Jack again, in angst, and then flicks it to his own chin and blows his brains out leaving the world with a loud blow.

I'm on the the plain grass looking over to the lip red spool of blood on the innocent green grass and the red tree outline on the pure lighthouse. I stand up and walk back onto the cobble trail recalibrating myself to reality. The trail is silent except the subtle waves and consistent rotations of the stroller wheels smoothing the ground. I walk back to my room and open my treasure box seeing all the things that made up my character and who I am and then I put the container I keep under my mattress and I put it inside. I go to the carriage near the corner and take the bracelet.. I take it and put in my box. I walk back up to the lighthouse in the clear breeze. I go up up the menacing cliff with  the box and with both my thin pale hands and let go of my grip. I finally lift my foot steadily and step on the open air as a let go of my life.

I see June’s broken body on the rough rocks by the shore, the absence of grief she left. I spot both Viceroy’s and Jack’s love for June’s natural beauty that tore this all of their lives apart. I hold May nearby the cliff where their lives were lost and find strength in this weak summer air cut by the sharp beautiful sun.