“Nobody. Move.” I hissed hostilely through gritted teeth, reflexively curling and uncurling my fingers around the trigger of the gun. It was a something I always did when I was scared; one might even call it a nervous tick. Before tests, I always curled and uncurled my fingers around the edge of my pencil, and before track meets, I always curled and uncurled my fingers around the shoulder strap of my gym bag.

Only this time, I wasn’t scared. I was downright terrified.

“Arnold, sweetie,” My mom began, eyeing the pistol in my hand with fear glimmering in her misty grey eyes, the tears building in the corners threatening to spill as she held out her trembling hand. “Give me the weapon.”

I cocked the gun and pointed the barrell straight at her forehead.

“I said don’t move.”  

Suddenly, Noah stepped out in front of my mother, arms spread out wide as if that could possibly shield her from a bullet. “Woah, woah, woah! Hold on here a second. Arnold, that you’re mum.” He exclaimed, incredulity and trepidation causing the british twang in his voice to crack.

I almost lowered the gun, but the cold sting of the metal against my pale flesh snapped me back into the reality of the situation.

I now aimed the gun at him. “What do you think you’re doing, alien scum?”

“Arnold,” A quiet voice squeaked from the back of the room. It was Vanessa, doleful brown eyes brimming with tears. “Nobody here is the alien.” She spoke slowly, and I felt my erratic heartbeat being lulled into security as she tried to rationalize with me. I could trust her, of all people. I’ve liked her since the second grade; we’ve known each other years before then. I could trust her.

But the weight of the weapon in my hands reminded me that trusting people is how I got here in the first place.

I moved the gun from my mom. Then at Noah. Then at Vanessa.

Then at myself.

The gun cocked, fingers curling and uncurling, a breath leaving my lips, and a flash fills the room.



“Sweetie, who are you again?” My grandmother, Susan, asked with a blank, yet amiable expression on her wrinkled features.

I smile sadly.

“I’m no one important.”

“I’m sure that’s not true, darling!” She exclaimed, swatting me playfully on my shoulder with impressive strength for a grandmother. “Just because you’re of no relation to me doesn’t make you unimportant.”

I did not know whether to laugh or cry.

“Now, why don’t you tell me a little about yourself,” Susan requested as an nurse came over to check her vitals.

“Well, I’m a history major at Princeton University,” I tell her, mustering up as much enthusiasm as I could, knowing exactly how she would reply. We have had this conversation many times over, after all.

“A history major!” She cried out gleefully. “Now, that brings back some memories. I was a history major myself, you know.”

I knew. She had told me over and over again, day after day, year after year.


But it was not that hard to fake the surprise. For her sake.

Because seeing her dull, crystalline blue eyes light up when I asked was priceless to me.

“Yes, I am! My favorite thing to study is—”


World War Ⅱ.

“—World War Ⅱ. In fact, I may still have it. Let me check…”

Susan shifted over slightly in her bed, and I became increasingly worried that the IV in her arm would fall out.

Pulling out a small, red book form her tableside drawer, she wiped off the dust with quivering fingers so pale, they were almost translucent, and you could easily see the veins underneath, transporting blood from her fragile heart.

“This is my brother’s diary,” She explained with pride tinting he trembling voice. “He was a soldier who fought World War Ⅱ.”

She handed me the journal, and I gingerly began flipping through the pages.

Even though I’ve read through it thousands upon thousands of times, I never ceased to be amazed when I saw it. My great-uncle Sherman was an pretty incredible fighter and an even more incredible peacemaker. He was the mediator of his squadron, judging by what he had written.

It was regrettable that he had died before his time.

“He was there on the shores of Normandy during Operation Doomsday. His plane had been shot down. There were no survivors.” She stared intently at the notebook in my hands. “It was a miracle that one of the soldiers had managed to recover that diary. A miracle.”

She paused for a moment, as if contemplating something weighing heavily on her alzheimer’s-diseased mind.

“Why don’t you keep that book, sweetie.”

This was a new twist to an normarily ordinary conservation that I’ve had every day for the past couple of years.

“Are you sure about it? This sounds like it’s really important to you.”

“I’m sure. You know…” Her voice trailed off, before returning with more strength than I ever heard in her since before her diagnosis. “You remind me of my granddaughter.”

My breath hitched in my throat.

“Her name was Jessica. Though I’ve long forgotten what she looked like,” She looked at me straight with her dull, crystalline blue eyes. “You remind me a lot about her.”

That night, when I returned to my cramped apartment, I cried for the first time in a long, long time.

Susan Williams passed away the very next day, age eighty-two.

I was given the small, red book by one of the nurses.

I would carry it everywhere I went.

I would read it all the time.

I would read it during lectures; I would read it on the bus; I would read it right before I fell asleep at night, and I would read it first thing in the morning.

And then, on a certain day, Inspiration would strike me like a lightning bolt sent straight from the heavens. Straight from her.

Then, I would have an idea.

I became overwhelmed by the blinding lights flashing from the audience and the question swarming around me like wasps around their hive, desperate for someone to sting.

Today, that someone was me.

“What are your thoughts about your main character, Sherman?”

“How did you decide to write a historical fiction novel?

“What are your thoughts on how your book about World War Ⅱ was name a New York Best Seller?

Suddenly, I heard a question that piqued my interest.

“Hold on,” I cried into the microphone. The buzzing instantly died down.

I pointed to a man sitting in the front row, his receding hairline causing the lights to reflect off of his forehead in a blinding manner.

“Can you please repeat your question?”

Though he looked slightly startled that I had pick him out from the hundreds of reporters there, he continued on without hesitation.

“You said your stories were inspired by a real person. So tell us: what were they like?”

I smiled, suddenly feeling a steady yet comforting hand on my shoulder,

though I would watch the press conference back later and see absolutely no one.

“She was unforgettable.”


Wrinkled skin draws your eyes away from the
Twinkle gleaming in her dull eyes and the
Tinkle resonating in her trembling voice
Crinkled outside, beautiful in; which do you prefer?

For in my mind lies not a single doubt
Nor, with her, do I use my sight
Explore the prisoner trapped in time’s cage
Adore her, for she is the reason that I write


So I normally don’t leave little side notes on my poems and short stories, but I felt like I had to for this one. This poem is dedicated to my grandmother, who passed away just a little while ago. I love her, and I hope she rests in peace.


When I close my eyes, I dream of the stars
But when I’m by your side, I can reach them
And if they are but the lights of a car
Only for you would I pull down that gem

You teach me to see the bows in the rain
And to go dance through the torrent of tears
Even if I may slip on the terrain
From your lips still will your words quell my fears

Perhaps soon our fingers will intertwine
But for now I will simply be content
Residing in your heart, and you in mine
As we await for the foretold advent

Even if I know nothing about you
Still I love you, and nothing is more true

Diamond Dust

I watch as diamond dust

falls to the ground.

Softly and silently,

beautiful to the eyes

but chilling to the touch.

It’s scintillating shimmer

is out of place

with the dead trees around it.

The wind whispers in my ears,

nipping at my toes

as it blows into the distance,

leaving as quickly as it arrived.

Only a faint reminder is there

that it even existed.

The frosty air fills my lungs.

The snow freezes my bare feet

as I trudge along

this icy path.

I may slip,

and I may fall.

But this ice ignites passion,

and I will get up.

I will always get up.

Winter seems

immortal, infinite, endless.

But I know this isn’t true,

for in the divine desert of diamonds

lies a vivid patch of emerald.

Although feeble and frail,

it will outlast this boreal winter.

For when snow melts,

it is not water that is made.

It is spring.