Wednesday, September 12, 2018

OpEd by Emily Zarate, Senior

A Broken Support System

By Emily Zarate

May 22, 2018

When a bridge lacks support, it is destined to fail. With no structure or base to support it, the bridge will ultimately collapse and no longer maintain its function. Why can’t the same be said of the citizens of this country?


After twenty years of no reform, it is time we take a look at our nation’s welfare system. As of 2016, more than 44.6 million Americans lived under the poverty line. As strikingly large as this number is, it would have been larger if programs such as Social Security, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and housing subsidies did not exist to lift an additional 48.3 million constituents out of their hardship. Such programs show the benefit of social aid, despite what the Trump administration may claim. As a midterm election nears at the end of this year, it is important to keep in mind that over 13 percent of our nation lives in impoverished conditions everyday.

Poverty rates among the elderly and the disabled are increasingly high due to their physical or mental limitations. Social Security is the most successful social program in American history, however, like all programs throughout American history, there are many—conservatives— who refute it. The lack of funding will significantly decrease the financial protection that many families rely on.

Donald Trump’s—our current president—proposed budget cuts to these federal social programs represent a serious threat to working-class and poor Americans who depend on those programs. Conservatives like Donald Trump, such as Paul Ryan, believe that government social services have only hurt the poor and that Republicans genuinely want to help them by diminishing of their dependence of welfare programs by getting rid of funding. Those in power, have a catastrophic effect on those who mostly depend on the government for assistance. Their role in the lives of others can be their downfall.

Many create an alternative to challenge Trump’s slogan, mentioning that before he can make “America great again” he must first make it humane. The reason for this being that people are forced to live a poor life with limited help. Increased poverty rates are not helped, only making the situation worse. The inhumane treatments caused by conservatives for their entertainment only weakens their support systems. They are given unfair chances to try to remake lives, giving them a “dead end” chance.

The Rich Gets Richer

Identifying the solution for ideal welfare reform, though, comes down to taking a look at the root of the problem. As renowned economist and Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz asserts in his book The Price of Inequality, America currently has the most inequality and least equality of opportunity among developed countries.

Yet, the most disturbing part of the book is the fact that we are very unlikely to follow the advice that is contained in it.

The standard of living of the top 1% continuously rises, while that of the lower 99% continues to fall. Moving money from the bottom to the top lowers consumption because higher income individuals consume a smaller portion of their income than do lower income individuals The opportunities for upward mobility are fewer in the United States than in many other countries. The reason is that the upper 1% have designed the economic, political, tax, and education systems to benefit themselves, to the detriment of everyone else. They do not realize that in the long term, their well-being is inextricably coupled to the well-being of society as a whole.

Against Welfare Programs

On August 22, President Clinton signed into law "The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity” Reconciliation Act of 1996, a comprehensive welfare plan that dramatically changed the nation's welfare system into one that requires work in exchange for time-limited assistance. This new system will exclude many of those disabled who are faced with extreme challenges in the workplace. The author mentions that there are many for and against this welfare program. Those against it want to make it tougher to get financial support—such as Arizona giving a one year limit

Although some disapprove of the decreased funding in social welfare programs, there are many who, on the other hand, approve and even encourage it. With various citizens behind them, and many more becoming impoverished, the need for these social reforms increases. As a result, the broken support system negatively affects those who are in most need of it.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

OpEd by Xavier Olivia, Senior

A Third-World Within A First -- Rural America in Crisis
By Xavier Oliva May 21, 2018

It was two and a half millennia that the great storyteller Aesop resided in Ancient Greece and told of many tales such as that of the Country Mouse and the City Mouse. The same sentiment of there being disparaging social identities, values between rural and urban are evidently not a new observation, nor do I believe Aesop himself even conjured up the revelation. However, the difference between ever present sectors of culture has--of late--become greater than nuanced opinions. The world views are not different, It is now the world themselves that the American rural population inhabits that differs from their urban counterparts

Ever since World War II, the United States has been the self-proclaimed “greatest country on earth” and has been at the forefront of technological milestones all the way through to present day. To many, it would be a gasp-inducing understatement to deem the United States simply a first-world country, however, through the veil of patriotism and borderline nationalism, it is easy to turn a blind eye to the hardships that American citizens live through on a daily basis. When one thinks of issues that plague society like lack of potable water one conjures up images of Sub-Saharan Africa, war-torn countries halfway around the world, everywhere but our own country. However, to the surprise of many, one needs not travel outside the borders of the United States to even come across a third-world country, they can be found in the rural communities that have been long forsaken.

Foremost, the status of health in these forsaken rural communities is among the most alarming of attributes that liken them to that of developing countries.

Given the privatization of our healthcare system, striving for the highest bidder has left Rural America sick and forgotten. Due to the low population density of these rural communities, it is not cost-effective for there to be a great presence of medical services for those living a far cry from a big city or even a bustling small-town. And with the recent proposed changes to the Affordable Care Act, an act generally beneficial to the poorest of Americans, those in rural areas may be struck with even greater economic burdens and less healthcare options.

In other words, it is not in the best interest of healthcare corporations to help those in need, especially those in rural areas. The statement itself is disgustingly ironic while also being representative of the rural situation surrounding healthcare.

Sadly, the perpetuation of this form of corporatism that seeks to find the only quantifiable success in this capitalistic nation is not limited to just conglomerates.

In western states like California and Colorado, rural communities have been given one more reason to despise big government. Due to rapid population growth in urban hubs and the lack of profitability of agriculture, water has been prioritized in urban areas leading to water transfers from rural areas based on tax revenue. Though water is necessary in these bustling cities, there are unintended consequences, such as the sudden removal of these small agrarian communities’ economic prospects as well as the degradation of said water when in contact with industrial pollutants. And once more the livelihood of Rural America takes a backseat to profits showing once more that human life may just be quantifiable in the form of currency and thus can be prioritized as that, a dollar sign.

However, the greatest issue that plagues the once great heartland of the United States is one that is a nationwide motif, that being drug abuse. With the rise of opioid prescriptions in the 1990s due to the back-breaking labor of both urban industry and rural agriculture, the country’s death toll to the once-unregulated drug has steadily increased to the point of it being impossible not to note by both the general population and the media. And though the problem of drug abuse has been at the forefront of national debate since the early Temperance movements, the urban facet of this plague on society has been given all of the attention with the rural aspect only being acknowledged as recently as this millennium. This urban bias is only made more observed when it is noted that “there were 300 times more seizures of meth labs in Iowa in 1999, for example, than in New York and New Jersey combined. (Egan).

As years have gone by, the heartland of America has quietly regressed to the days of the Dust Bowl, in many cases, as urbanization has pushed the rural lifestyle from being sustainable. It is difficult to tell the outcome of Rural America, however one thing is for sure--history repeats itself and this is just another instance.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

OpEd by Karina Delgado, Senior

DDE Literary Magazine

Our mission is to promote and share the creative endeavors of students at Dwight D. Eisenhower High School.

Welcome to Cardinal Voices 2018-19!  We are starting off the school year by featuring OpEd articles written in May by Mrs. McMillan's AP Language and Composition students.  In AP Lang, students learn how to write for a variety of purposes by mastering how to adjust their voice, tone, and strategy. This assignment highlights how these students combine research with their opinion.  All of the featured writers wrote these as juniors and are now seniors.

Environmental racism isn’t a myth.
By: Karina Delgado May 21, 2018
Why is it that when black and brown people voice their concerns on issues that directly pertain to them, officials turn a blind eye? Money. And why is it that minorities have a higher chance of living by a toxic waste dump than whites? Environmental racism.

These two answers go hand in hand.

Racism is as American as cherry pie. It has ran its course over centuries in America. So has capitalism. One cannot corner the market, but one can corner someone’s neighborhood until it is refined to nothing but factory smog and production lines.

Often defined as a toxic set of beliefs that one is superior to another based on race, racism has been systematically implemented through laws afforded by privileged whites. There are no more Jim Crow laws or segregated schools, but racism still persists with each factory placed in a minority-based neighborhood.

The term environmental racism was coined by Reverend Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. in a 1987 study conducted by the United Church of Christ that examined the location of hazardous waste dumps and found an “insidious form of racism." African-Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans were, and still are, disproportionately affected by hazardous fumes, environmental policies and dumpsites. They are targeted because companies know they lack resources and knowledge to fight back. This unnecessary intolerance of minorities makes minorities vulnerable in their own homes. In the 1950’s and 1960’s, minorities could feel a sense of safety knowing they would be surrounded by loved ones once in their homes even if the outside world hated them. Now, they have no one to turn to because their loved ones are dead from breathing in toxic fumes from the factory next door.
It is fact that minorities tend to be the ones to live in dangerous neighborhoodsnot because they want to, but because they do not have the means to move. The dispute over whether environmental racism is real or not is utterly ridiculous if you think about a rich white family’s decision to live next to a landfill that produces noxious smells.

Surprise, they wouldn’t.

So, what makes companies, who make up studies to take down claims of environmental discrimination, think that their placement of factories in poor neighborhoods is coincidental. Blacks, Native Americans and Hispanics want to leave their toxic environments, but they were there first (sounds familiar). And companies know their dilemma which is why they prey on their economic status and inability to fight back.

Flint, Michigan.

A city name anyone in America is all too familiar with. Flint, Michigan first came to the nation’s attention not when its citizens started to become suspicious, but when a revelation over the high lead levels in water surfaced through a Virginia Tech study. City officials decided to switch over Flint’s source of water from Lake Huron to the local Flint River to cut costs. The hopes were to save money; however, instead, an impoverished neighborhood where over 50 percent of residents are African American and 41 percent are poor received toxic waste filtered through their water pipes.

When one citizen decided to see just how toxic her water was, test results revealed that water flowing into her home contained lead levels as high as 397 parts per billion. That level far exceeded the 15 parts per billion (ppb) level at which the EPA requires communities take action, such as replacing lead pipes, to control corrosion and prevent lead from leaching into the water.

How could this have happened? How could America, a revered nation known for leading the way in all kinds of reform, let its government, city and local officials get away with this? The answer lies in negligence. Flint’s mayor had his emails revealed and it showed that he knew there was a problem far before the Virginia Tech study that exposed the city’s lead levels in September of 2015 came out. If he knew then, he could have prevented the genetic link between Flint water and Legionnaires’ disease, a severe form of pneumonia caused by legionella bacteria. During the eighteen months that Flint residents received water from the Flint River, cases of Legionnaires’ disease increased and at least twelve deaths were confirmed in 2017.

America should be ashamed. In this day and age, everyone is entitled to clean water. Mere efforts have been made to fix cities like Flint, though none have made significant impact. Native American communities for years have endured waste dumps on their land. The Environmental Protection Agency has chosen not to do extensive research into why they are chosen or the effects on them later in life. This confirms how little they care about already impoverished neighborhoods once their money is secured. The EPA and Flint officials need to be held responsible for their inability to take action when needed.

Hopefully, now that environmental injustices like Flint have brought awareness to the exploitation of poor communities for financial gain, there can be more action taken to hold those in power accountable for both their actions and inactions.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Short Story from Jason Nako, Senior

Olympic Hope

By Jason Nako

The loud plane engine roars as Brett enter his flight. It is early morning, the sun is shining, and birds are chirping. Brett is on his way to Moscow, Russia, where he will compete for the Olympic games.

“Chicken or beef?” asks the flight attendant.

“Chicken will do.” Brett replies.

“Make sure you wear a lot of coats and a warm hat,” she tells Brett.

“Oh, trust me, I know how cold it’ll be. I used to train In Moscow with some wrestlers from Europe. I'm very familiar with the climate.” Brett quickly nods his head.

Since Brett is competing for the USA wrestling team, he has to watch what he eats. Brett is a lean and muscular 24 year old man. His body looks like the shape of a triangle, with wide and broad shoulders and a slim waist. He is representing the US for 74kg.On board of his flight, Brett is waiting for his coach to arrive. His coach is Cael Sanderson, the legend from Penn State who became a 4 time undefeated National Champion. Brett looks up to him ever since he was little boy and watching Cael winning in the collegiate levels. Cael was also a previous Olympic Champ for the US back in the 90’s. He works with Brett everyday to achieve his goals to become one in the future.

“Sorry I am late. I had to wait in that long line to get my tickets. But how are you man? Are you ready for all that we have worked for?” Cael finally arrives with a clean, shaved head and a spicy cologne that Brett smells.

“I am so ready for this. I've been waiting for this my entire life. To become an Olympic Champion.” Brett had struggles to make the world team for the USA. Each year he has gotten short of his goals to represent the US as he had to face the best competitors in the world that were from his country. Ever since Brett defeated the previous World Champ last month from the US to qualify for the Olympic team, it boosted up his confidence. At that moment Brett knew he could beat anyone in the world.

The plane finally stops in Russia. Brett and Cael both order a hotel room where they will stay for the games. Walking outside from the plane, all Brett can see are fields of farmland and animals roaming the border of the wooden gates. The roads are very muddy and you can hear the loud traffic of cars beeping their horns from the city. It is colder in Russia, as Brett’s beard starts to freeze up. Icicles form under his chin and eyelashes from how cold it is. They arrive in their hotel rooms. Each room has a Californian, queen sized bed, a mini fridge, a flat screen tv, and a red carpet on the floor.

Outside of the window you can see the large dome stadium that has beams of light reflecting from the exterior. This is where all of the wrestlers will be competing next morning. Busses are all of the city as wrestlers from the around world are traveling to their respected hotel rooms.

“I want you to get ready for the weigh in tomorrow by going to bed early. Ok?” Cael reminds Brett.

“I will,” he replies.

The next morning Brett wakes up. He is not nervous at all and is very confident. He knows that he can win this tournament and become the best in the world. He has no doubt in his mind that he can beat anyone. He then steps on the scale for official weigh ins. His feet step on the metal scale. It is his a cold, tingly touch that runs down Brett's spine as he waits for the result. “74 kilos! Good luck today.” The official marks down his weight and asks for other wrestlers to get on the scale.

Before Brett begin his first match, Cael puts him into many circuit workouts that will increase his heart rate. Brett gets a good sweat in and is ready to compete. Brett step on the smooth blue mat. He shakes his opponent's strong grip and they begin wrestling. Brett scores the first takedown quickly by arm tossing his opponent. His opponent gets up and fires back with a single leg attack. Brett gets into a scramble position in which he loses. The Iranian opponent gains the upper hand as he beats Brett 6-5 with a late takedown to seal the case. Brett is devastated. He lays on his back with hand covering his face as tears come down his eyes. Cael runs to get him up and brings him into backstage where Brett almost lost hope.

“Hey that Iranian is a three time world medalist. He was a tough opponent but I need you to stay strong. You can still medal in the event.” Cael gives Brett a hug and leaves the room to give give him some space.

Brett’s mind goes insane. His whole life he wanted to become the Olympic Champion that everyone supported him to become. He feels as if he let everybody down and just lost all of his confidence. He talks to himself.

“I don't think I can do this. I am a loser. I suck. Why am I here?” All of these things cross Brett’s mind. He never thought he would be at the lowest point of his life at this event. Especially since he knew he could win it.  

Brett goes through the day competing. Cael gives him  a long speech to motivate Brett to atleast get bronze, and that is his new goal. Brett’s family calls him after his first loss to get his mind straight and to win every single match from now on.  In the stadium, he sees the towering balconies of screaming and chanting fans. Flashing lights all over the dome and noises of a air horn going off. He is pumped and back on track. Along the way, he dominates all of his opponent with great strength and conditioning. He can hear the gasps of air his opponents make as they are being manhandled from his low-level attacks. His last match of the night, Brett looks into the Russians eyes, knowing that if he wins, he will become a bronze medalist. It is a battle that goes on and on. He gets a take down but hears. Cael goes insane and begins to jump.

“Almost there! One more takedown and you’ve done it!”

Brett takes him down to win the match. The crowd boos at Brett as he beats their wrestler. As he stands on the podium, Brett does feel proud but also sad. He wished he could be on the top but is still grateful for his accomplishments. He holds his heavy and shiny medal and puts it around his swole neck. He takes photos with fans as flashing camera lights go all over stadium. Cael gives him a hug and picks Brett up in the air to celebrate. He gets interviewed by the reporter.

“Are you happy with this result?”

“To be honest my goal was to win this thing, but hey, it did not go my way so my best chance was to get bronze at least.”

“What are your next goals after this?”

“Keep grinding” Brett drops the microphone and leaves the dome with his coach.

Everyone goes out to eat at a fancy Italian restaurant. Brett’s family and coach walk inside and see people clapping as Brett slowly walks up the tall stairs of the restaurant. Plates cling and the odor of the place smells very smoky. Brett smiles with a huge grin as he looks at his massive plate. On his plate there are chicken legs, mushrooms  and vegetables, and pasta. The sauce is red with sprinkles of oregano on it. The dish tastes salty and the cold cup of water just flushed his food down his throat. The waitress approaches Brett.

“Congratulation Brett! Dessert is on me. What would you like?”

“I’d like that double chocolate cake with whip cream on it”

The waitress brings what he wants and is served on a petite plate. Brett takes a huge bite out of it as he rolls his eyes. He’s chewing repeatedly and eats the warm slice of cake. Brett sees everyone happy and enjoying their time. He sees his mom and dad hugging each other and smiling. His sister is on her phone tweeting about her brother’s accomplishments. Cael whispers something in Brett’s ear, which makes his heart to beat very fast.  He begins to sweat and dismisses himself from the table.

In his thoughts, Brett get stressed out and begins to cry. “Steroids. I can’t believe it.”

It is just figured out that his opponent from Iran who Brett lossed to was taking steroids. This means that he gets disqualified and Brett should have never lossed. Overall this doesn’t change the outcome of his award, but it makes Brett sad that his dreams to become an Olympic Champion is crushed because of drugs. Brett walks slowly back to the table in the restaurant to share the news to family and friends with tear eyes.

Short Story by Estefania Gongzalez-Truillo, Senior

The Love Deal

By Estefania Gonzalez-Trujillo

Let me tell you a little story, the tremendous love story of Stella Locason. Now, this isn’t just your typical Cinderella fairytale. I mean yes both of them did indeed lose their parents, but other than that simple fact , they were nothing alike.You see, unlike Cinderella, Stella wasn’t shy nor timid. On the contrary, she was fierce and strong. Her snarky attitude and loud sarcasm scared most people away...Well at least it scared her step mom away…..and a few other guys who were interested in her as well. Scaring people away was Stellas forte. She was a very secluded person that had built really high walls all around her heart. I  mean who could blame her; she slowly lost her parents and her ex boyfriend cheated and took advantage of her money. Ever since these depressing events, no one has been able to break her walls down. I mean her best friend Anna tore part of it, but there is honestly a great part of it still standing. That’s until she met her so called Prince Charming, Sebastian Knight. He had no castle, but he had various companies all over the world. Sebastian, or as Stella called him, “ arrogant bastard”, was the true definition of a player. He wasn’t the type of guy who did relationships. According to him, running his company will always be his top priority. He had no time for commitment. That of course all changed when he bumped into Stella and spilled his extremely hot coffee on her And no , the cliche “Oh , I’m sorry about that, I owe you a shirt” and “I owe you a coffee” thing didn’t happen. Like I said, this wasn’t your typical fairytale. This was real life.

“Ouch,” I repetitively said, trying to shake the coffee of my perfectly white blouse.

I glance up to him and wait for an apology, but it never came. Instead he hits me with the, “Watch were you are going” and annoyingly walks away.  Oh no, if he thinks he’s getting off the hook he is quite a funny man! I had just gotten to work on time and because of him I was now fifteen minutes late, practically fired!

I ran to him  to try and give him a piece of mind, but I think he saw me following because before I got the chance to stop him he turned around and said, “ Look Miss, I don’t know who you  are nor I remember hooking up with you. I’m running late to my meeting so if you could stop following me that would be great.”

No no , this man did not just go there. My face fumed into a deep pinkish color, “ Take a look here you arrogant bastard, first of all , I am way too smart to hook up with man like you, and second of all I’m waiting for you to give me an apology along with some money to pay for a doctor's visit for this second degree coffee burn that you just gave me.” By the looks of his face he seemed shocked and slightly a bit angry , but that didn’t stop me from lashing out at him .

Before I made my way to my office,  I got closer to him and said, “And honestly, I really don’t care if you are late or not. You made me late , so practically you just made me lose my job.”

After being nearly an hour late, Stella did indeed get fired. This was her 12th tardy of the month, and her boss had warned her that if she came tardy again she would be gone.

Stella begged and begged her boss for another opportunity, but he didn’t budge. He knew she was an amazing designer but frankly he didn’t care about that. His boss had high expectations of his workers and being tardy nearly everyday was going to ruin that. Very sad and somewhat angry , Stella packed her things and made her way out.  She was set on finding the man who caused this for her. The princess wanted revenge..

I was walking out of what used to be my office when suddenly I knock into someone, causing the box my belongings to fall off into the floor.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” I whisper-yell, as I kneel down to pick up my things. The stranger kneels down to help me out.

“We need to stop meeting this way love,”  a deep voice that I recognize says.

“Well maybe, if you would watch where you are walking through we wouldn’t be going through this,”I frustratedly say.

“It’s actually pretty good that we are going through this,” he says. “It would allow me to properly apologize for my behavior.”

“Okay, go ahead,” I fakely smile to him.

“I’m sorry for the  unexpected turn of events that occured this morning, in return  I would like to offer you a job. Work for me.” he smiles. My smile instantly turned into a scowl, “ Your are out of your mind. I will not be doing anything for you at all.”

“Look, just hear me out. My name is Sebastian Knight of Knight Enterprises. My dad won’t turn over the rest of the company shares to me until I get married.”

“And what does that have to do with me,” I say.

“ Well, I’m no the type of guy who has time for relationships but I kind of told my dad that I was dating a someone and that someone is you. So for the next few months , you are going to be my fake fiancĂ© and as soon as we hit a year you will be my wife.”

I burst into laughter, “ What makes you think I would agree to that?”

“Oh, c’mon! Any girl would die to be in your place,” he cockily stated.

“Well I’m not just any girl,” I say. “So no thank you.”

“I’ll pay you three times whatever your old boss payed you,” Well damn, no one could really pass an offer like that. I mean how hard could it be?

“Do we have a deal?” he says, as he extends his hand.

“Deal,” I say, as look down and shake his hand.

You see, at this moment, Stella started to feel that she had just signed her life to the Devil, but it was nothing like that . In reality, she had really just committed to the love of her life. Stella had finally found her prince.

They began the acting immediately the day after the deal. The whole thing was rocky at first, but after about four months it no longer seemed like it was act.

He kissed me. Sebastian just kissed me. My white pale face was probably now as pink as a rose, but not for long.. As soon as I processed what had happened I angrily looked up to him.

“You can’t keep doing this,” I blurt.

“Doing what?” he questions.

“You can’t keep kissing me whenever you feel like. You can’t just keep leading me on like this,”  I shout.

“What if I wasn’t leading you on?  What if I told you that everything I’ve been doing has been real,” he softly states.  As soon as these words came out of his mouth my heart started doing crazy leaps.

“What if I told you I couldn’t stay away from you. That every time I see you all I want to do is hug you and kiss you . I really like you Stella and I don’t think I can keep hiding it anymore,” he says as he leans in for a kiss.

“I really like you too Sebastian,” I say as I return his kiss.

Sebastian and Stella had completely fallen in love with each other without realizing it. I mean , it would be hard not to when you wake and sleep with the same guy for nearly everyday.

It wasn’t until they hit their 6th month when they realized they couldn’t be without each other.  Stella had encountered a terrible accident, she was left in coma for nearly two months. Sebastian spent his days and nights  in the hospital waiting for her to wake up. On some days he would cry his love to her at night and would beg her to wake up, but nothing would happen.  

On the night of January 13th , the doctors had told him that it was best to just say goodbye. Sebastian was against at first, he didn’t want to let her go but his parents convinced him it was for the best. At around 11:30 pm he spent his time there crying his love to her one last time and at exactly 12:00 am he kissed her goodbye.

“True loves kiss, it works all the time,” I weakly say, as wake up blinded to bright white lights.  The moment I spoke out Sebastian turned back around and broke down on his knees crying. After a few seconds he then rushes to hug me. I could feel his wet tears on my cheeks.  

“I love you too,”  I smile to him, with a few tears running down my face.

“You heard me,” he cries out.

“Every single thing,” I say.

“Promise me you’ll never scare me like that again,” he sadly says.

“I promise,” I smile, and leaned in to hug him.

Cliche right? Well anyways, as you can already assume, they did indeed have a wedding. They interchanged their vows and traveled to the city of love for their honeymoon.

Sebastian, you are the best thing that has happened to me throughout my entire life. I love you so much. I can’t wait what the future brings for us,” I say to him.  
He smiles down to me and says, “You deserve the world and much more my princess. Stick with me and I’ll give it to you all.”

“Deal.” I replied, as I lean in to kiss him.

From here on, they lived happily ever after with a beautiful baby boy, Nathan Knight. This baby grew out to be crazier than his father. One night stands nearly everyday of the week with news that he had aa baby on board?! ...Hold up, let me not say too much. This  is a story of another time.

The End.


Short Story by Kayla Giordani

The Vacation

by Kayla Giordani

Today marks two months I have been sealed behind these doors of Racken Valley Rehabilitation home. It was 8am and I only gotten 4 hours of sleep. The sheets were rough and my pillow was as thin as a slice of bread. I roomed with Margette, she wasn’t the most recommendable roommate. She was short with blonde hair and her feet smelled like pickles. She snored in her sleep and occasionally farted. I asked to which roommates but they weren’t going for what.

“No switching roommates ma’am!” the lady at the front desk would yell.

I sat at the end of my bed for 5 minutes. I would then brush my teeth and brush my hair so I could get dressed. I always shower the night before.

Breakfast was the best meal they served here. The buttery pancakes and fluffy eggs were my go to. I sipped on my orange juice slowly. I would always try to eat as fast as I can, though I wanted to savor my meal. Margette always comes rushing to my table with the exact same thing but double.

“Well, isn’t this a swell morning, Hey! Did you read my mind,” as she looked back and forth at her plate then mine.

“Yes I totally read your mind,” I said sarcastically.

“I knew it!” she laughed hysterically. Her teeth were dark yellow and every other tooth was almost crooked.

Margette always meant well but she was just really annoying.

Last year Margette lost her children because of her drug habits. She had an abusive husband who beat her and her kids. One time she tried to take her kids and runoff but he caught her and almost beat her to death. Once she lost her kids she started using, the hard stuff. I always felt bad for her, she always talked about her kids. They sounded really lovely. She has been her 9 months and she didn’t plan on leaving.

“Hey, you know if we wait until everyone leaves they’ll leave out the leftovers,” her yellow crooked teeth grinned at me.

“I’m all full, but thanks”.

“Ahhh more for me then,” she rubbed her stomach.

I dumped my plate into the garbage and went to freshen up for our morning meeting.
The hallways were always quiet and at this time everyone’s room door was open for morning inspection. For the two months I’ve been here I didn’t really speak to anyone. The only one I acquainted with was Margette. The others girls were stuck up, the boogie stuck up and I never got that considering the fact that we were in a rehab home. They always stared at my hair, it hanged to my mid back and the red always reflected off the light. My biggest fear was one of them coming and cutting it in the middle of my sleep. The girls here weren’t that great looking. Everyone had a flaw, not saying I don’t but I could see why they would want to pound me in my sleep.

I walked further until I reached the doors of the meeting hall. The room was fairly small. Total capacity was about 10 included the therapist. There wasn’t many girls in our group. The room smelled like old paint and the chairs where in assorted colors.
I was always the first person in the room. I walked over to grab some coffee and sat in an empty chair until the meeting started.

I was almost through with my coffee when I heard the other girls down the hall. They walked in whispering and sat across from me. I didn’t pay them any mind.

“Well Good Morning my ladies, are we ready to start.” Miss Olsen was wearing a long skirt that reached her ankles and a creme shaw that complemented her complexion. She was always happy, but I guess that was part of her job.

“How are we today.” She grinned

Everyone smiled, more of a fake smile.

“Okay, well who would like to start.”

“I spoke to Lisa and Daniel today.” Margette spoke shyly.

I looked at Margette in happiness

“That’s wonderful,” Miss Olsen said.

“Daniels voice got really deep.” She snorted.

“One step closer, let’s snap for Margette”.

Everyone snapped as Margette fidgeted in her chair.

“Anyone else?”

“How about Elizabeth, I hear she thinks she’s too good for these meetings,” said one of the girls rolling their neck.

I didn’t say a word until Miss Olsen insisted I share throwing a wink at me to ignore the other girls.

“Umm, where should I start,” I said nervously.

“Wherever you’d like.” Miss Olsen smiled.

I began to talk and the energy in the room changed.

I would remember that day for the rest of my life. The wind blew lightly and the sun shined bright. I was wearing a swimsuit top and bottoms with a white fishnet cover up.

“One Margarita please.”

“Sure,” said the server.

“Starting off early huh” his eyes were light brown and he wasn’t wearing a shirt. The oil on his body glisten and his pretty teeth smiled at me.

“Never too early”, I chuckled.

“Elizabeth,” I said as I shook his hand.


“Uh huh, treating myself before I have to go back to work in a couple of weeks. This is the only time I get to myself and you?”

“On a business trip you can say.”

“Oh really what do you do”

“I’m in the marketing business, just looking for a catch.”

“Well enjoy the rest of you vacation,” I picked up my glass and started to walk towards the pool area when he followed me and asked me if I had any plans that night. I insisted no and we planned to go and see a band and have some drinks.

It was cool out by the lake and the wind blew through my long hair and the smell of his cologne blew back at me as he walked in front of me. We found a seat in the crowd and talked for hours as the band played. We were the last ones at our table and all I could remember was Jake staring into my eyes as if they were going to wander off. He asked a lot of personal questions, I didn’t pay any mind to it because I thought that’s what people do when they want to get to know someone.

That night was really relaxing after the drinking and talking I couldn’t remember much after that. The night went so peaceful I didn’t care what ever else was going on.

The next morning I woke up to the sound of beach waves and the smell of fresh air. This was my suite so I figured I was with Jake.

“Good Morning beautiful.”

“Thanks,” he handed me a platter with fresh hot pancakes, eggs and some bacon and a tall glass of orange juice.

“It’s room service, I figured after last night you need to start your morning off right.”

“And what exactly did we do last night” I said almost choking on my food.

“Well we had quite a few drinks and i guess you’re not the drinking type, you nearly ruined my two hundred dollar sandals by throwing up everywhere.

“OMG I’m so sorry.”

“It’s cool I’m got plenty”, he said and chuckled.

I ate my breakfast slowly I thought it was really nice. I looked around the suite and I didn’t see any of my things. The suite was very empty, it was like he was on vacation for a couple hours.

“Hey do you know where my things are”.

“Um I believe you didn’t come with anything but I’ll look around.”

“This is where you began to sense something strange?” Miss Olsen asked

“Yes, I wanted to leave but he gave me the impression that there’s was no way I was leaving that suite.”

“It’s getting kind of late I think I better head back to my suite but thank you for a good night and of course the breakfast.”
“You can’t leave now, in fact I can’t let you leave.”

He reached into his pocket and dialed a number. “Yes, I have her”. My heart began to pump fast.

“You have who! What is going on?” My palms were sweaty and my heart was racing he started to pack a big duffle back and I could see my purse.

“Can I get my purse I really need to get back to my suite.”

He threw a black jacket, a wool hat, some sneakers, and a pair of grey sweat pants.

“Put in on!” He yelled loud.

I refused to put it on and after that everything went blank.

The next thing I was in a place I had never seen before. The walls were filthy and it smelled of piss. I could hear people talking in French in the hall. After that I woke up in a hospital bed. The nurses had to tell me how I ran in the hospital soaked from the rain and blood dripping god knows where. I was on three different drugs and had an infection due to being to three different countries. Jake on the other hand wasn’t Jake. His real name was Louzoo Columbi he was from France and his “marketing” business was sex trafficking and drug extortion. I don’t know where he is now but at night I sometimes have trouble sleeping . I have the fear that maybe one day he will find me or something like this could happen again. And that’s why I am here.
The room was silent and the girls that sat across from me starred.

“Thank you for sharing.”

“No thank you,” I insisted.

There was a light knock on the door.

“Sorry to interrupt, Elizabeth you have a visitor”

I walked down the hall and into the waiting room. There was a man wearing a long coat facing the tv.

“Can I help you”

The man turned around. I jaw dropped I could recognize that grin anywhere.