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Photo: “A Beginning” by Johnny Swanson

I’ve decided to treat my journal writing like I am writing my newest best friend. I can only imagine what that is like, since I have no best friend, new or old.


Dear Best Friend,

I love my brother. I miss how we used to be before the accident. I miss how he used to look out for me without looking down on me. Now, he won’t even look at me, when I visit him at the home. I think calling that storage space a “home” was my first lesson in irony.

Some lessons are so sad.

Johnny, you’re never coming back, and your little sister misses your love eyes.


Why does she look so sad?

Her veil reveals tears

I do not yet understand.

A hidden mouth mutters unheard.


Did he not come?

Can she forget?


Would she bite me,

if I traced her lips?


Would I bleed,

if I kissed her?


Disregarding initial suspicions…

“How do I get her to trust me, when she still does not trust herself. Even if we control reality to match her hunches, her supreme ability of denial would leave her as equally lost as if we had not bent the stars for her.”

“Pray for her.”

“Oh silly, how can we hear your answers over our constant mutterings! Let us be quiet and put on some apple cinnamon tea.”

“Maybe we should read the leaves?”

“We should drink it while hot.”


“Maybe we are like mushrooms, spores ever ready even when ignored. We watch. We wait for our time to explode with meaning and purpose. There are no dead spells just spurting sprouts of rebirth.”

“I hope so.”


Serena thought she had her fill of boring high school boys.

Serena had a dream, not the kind shouted from the mountain tops but one privately pursued until the dawn.

She wanted to be an architect.

She knew her passion for the first time as she visited a large cathedral in Richmond at the age of nine.

She felt her passion for the first time as she memorized pictures of and quietly wept over the beauty of the Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família in her freshman Spanish history book.

Her father had found her crying that late August afternoon. She lied to him and told him it was back to school blues.

He tried to console her by suggesting she wear her hair up more, so boys would notice her.

Boys like him he meant.

Her father believed she should marry someone who built houses like him not design grandiose churches.

Her hair brushed her narrow shoulders the day they noticed each other.

Some Neanderthal had pushed past her, scattering her papers along the hallway.

He knelt to help and casually looked at her designs.

She waits for him to laugh.

“Oh cool. The Piazzale Michelangelo view. My favorite part of Florence. When did you go?”

“I didn’t. I bought a post card.”

“All that detail from a post card? You’re amazing!”

She had not noticed him before.

She now noticed what she thought were brown eyes were rich hazel ones filled with intellect, humor, and kindness.

Serena was in love for the first time.


What is different about her today?

I just want to ask her something and make her eyebrows arch. I just want her to smile at me. I just want to know why I keep tasting Mom’s apple butter whenever I am near her.

Get it together, it is probably some Oedipus complex thing, hunger, and some fruity shampoo.

She is really interesting. And, quirky.

Who wants to be in love with–

Woah, don’t mistake intrigue for in love there, son.

Forget her, she’s fat.

Today, I just want to encircle her thick hips tracing the dips and curves.

He closes his eyes, bites his lower lip, and imagines.

“Hey, ya praying?” Serena teases.

“Something like that. What do you know about Claire Swanson?”

Serena knows she now hates Claire, and must seek her out to be her newest best friend.