Patel Bird Web

Rutu Patel is currently a junior at Eastern High school. She has a real passion for art and won the title “Best artist” in her middle school. Her art work was published in the township calendar as well as chosen for the yearbook cover.
She also enjoys music, dance and spending time with her family. During the summer she taught art to a few elementary kids.


Patel Pots Web

Rutu Patel is currently a junior at Eastern High school. She has a real passion for art and won the title “Best artist” in her middle school. Her art work was published in the township calendar as well as chosen for the yearbook cover.
She also enjoys music, dance and spending time with her family. During the summer she taught art to a few elementary kids.


TiffanyRodriguez web

Tiffany Rodriguez, age 16, is a Drawing Major at Academy of Creative and Performing Arts
at A.P. Schalick High School


Parikh Child web

Shimoli Parikh
Grade: 9
School: Eastern High School, Voorhees, NJ
Interests: Art, Tennis, Music, technology

Girl with Pencils

Parikh Girl 2


Shimoli Parikh
Grade: 9
School: Eastern High School, Voorhees, NJ
Interests: Art, Tennis, Music, technology



Sophie Freeston is a current 6th grade student at Wissahickon Middle School in Ambler, PA. She draws everyday and usually works on the same picture for at least a week.



Baseball was my life. Whenever I was on the field in my muddy cleats, about to throw a game winning pitch, I felt important and powerful, like I had control over something in my life. But the magic ended when I stepped off the field and reality hit. When I stepped off that field I knew I had no control over anything, not even my own life. When I changed out of my muddy cleats, I was reminded of my mom’s inevitable death. I was reminded that any day that I could lose my mom to cancer.

I still remember the day I lost her.

My team, the Anderson Alligators, had just won our game against the neighboring town, so I decided to run over to the hospital to tell her about our victory. The run wasn’t very long or difficult since our town, Anderson, Alabama, was small and only had one hospital. When I made it to her room, she was sleeping. I watched for a bit as her chest rose and descended in sync with the beeps of her heart monitor before waking her up.

“Mom,” I said as I lightly shook her shoulder, “wake up mom.” I watched as her eyes slowly fluttered open and she steadily propped herself up.

“How are you sweetie, you look awfully chipper considering the weather.” I looked out her hospital window and noticed the heavy rain outside.

“That’s odd, it wasn’t raining when I got here, but that’s besides the point. Remember that game I had today? We won!”

“That’s great, sweetie!” She exclaimed. My smile faded shortly after when she started coughing into her hand. She drew her hand away from her mouth to reveal what appeared to be blood. I looked over to her heart monitor and noticed the beeps became less and less frequent.

“Hey mom, are you okay?”

“Wesley Reed Cooper, no matter what happens to mommy I want you to keep chasing your dreams.”

I was seriously starting to worry about her. It was like she wasn’t registering anything I was saying and her eyes were starting to close, maybe for good.

“Wesley, Wesley look at me,” At this point she was squinting at the ceiling: “Wesley, I want you to not worry about mommy. I want you to look forward into the future. I want you to throw on your cleats and run towards a better tomorrow.” This didn’t sound like words of encouragement, it sounded like the dying words of a caring mother.

“Mom…Mom, this isn’t funny…Mom? …Mom!” I watched as her eyes shut. It was like she was permanently sealing herself off from the world. The only thing that shook me out of his daze was the long and unending beep of the heart monitor, and the long, flat line extending from one edge of the other. As the doctors started to flood into the room, I couldn’t stand to be in there any longer. I ran as far as my legs could take me, I sunk down to the ground and cried until my eyes were red and sore. As I cried, my tears mixed together with the rain into large drops of despair, and in that moment I came a realization; my mom was gone and she wasn’t coming back.

Ten years later, I still keep those cleats with me. Even though I quit baseball a long time ago, those cleats mean so much to me. They’re a symbol of hope; they’re a symbol to always look towards the future. When I feel like all hope is lost, I look towards those cleats and think about the words my deceased mother told me 10 years ago, and they give me motivation to push through the darkness into the light.



Sydney Nixon is a rising ninth grader who likes writing. Along with writing, she also enjoys volleyball, track and reading. She lives in Philadelphia with her mom and dog, but spends every other weekend with her step-mom and dad. Her favorite subject in school is math and my favorite show is Pretty Little Liars.


The sparkle in her eye is magical and breathtaking.  Her cheeks blush, and a giggle escapes her lips.  A silent conversation floats between the couple.  As the minutes pass, I am able to define the characteristics of the thread that tethers the humans together.

If I glance quickly, I am unable to witness the magic.  However, if I patiently watch, the thread will appear.  It shimmers when the sunlight bounces off of it.  The thread glows in the wicked rain.  The thread can easily be located at night.  It sparkles beneath the stars and exudes brilliance.

I grin at the couple.  My voice aches, begging my mouth to move, but I restrain myself.  Life changing secrets are visible through my pupils.  A thread glimmers between lovebirds who are meant to be.  The unlucky ones, for whom the love is temporary, share an empty space.

“Julianna, are you listening to me?”  I quickly turn my head away from the couple, blaming myself for staring.  Landon, lying on the plush grass, throws a question in my face.  I roll my eyes, “Were you informing me that a man was behind me with a gun?”  He furrows his eyebrows.  “No, of course that’s not what I was talking about.”  I snatch my backpack and jump to my feet.  “Then, I was not listening to you.”  Landon scrambles to find his shoes before running to join me.  “Where do you go?”  He asks.

I begin to respond but my attention shifts.  A boy and a girl stroll through the park.  I slow my pace and search for a shimmering clue.  A thin rope ties their bodies together.  Suddenly, a body slams into my back.  Landon grasps my arm and pulls me away from the woman who ran into me.  She glares at me and finds a new path to follow.  “Jules, you have to focus!”

I swiftly turn my head, noticing that the boy and girl disappeared.  “It’s like you are living an entirely different life inside of your mind.”  His striking blue eyes blind me with their uncertainty.  He really wants to know.  He wants to know what haunts my mind.  He wants to know what secrets I am hiding in the depths of my eyes.  I am tempted to tell him, but I swallow the words.  “I don’t go anywhere,” I stammer.  “There’s just so much, too much, to see.  You only have to search for it.”

My phone vibrates in my back pocket.  I lean in and wrap my arms around Landon.  “I have to go; I’m cooking tonight.”  He returns my hug and shakes his head as I run away from him.  “I will never understand the mysterious Julianna!”  He shouts.  My cheeks burn with heat, and I force myself to run faster.  I know for certain that if I stop and turn around, the thread I have always been searching for will not appear.

That evening, I was focused on threads and on Landon.  My mind was not present as I chopped carrots and onions; my hands were slick with sweat.  I furiously sliced the food, frustrated about the threads.  For years, I studied the threads.  I envied the threads.  For years, I prayed that I would notice a thread between Landon and I.

Suddenly, the knife slips out of my grip and slices my thumb.  Blood streams down my hand, feeling similar to warm, thick water.  I throw the knife on the ground in a fit of rage.  I reach into the medicine cabinet and am confronted by an empty box of band-aids.

Using my right hand, I throw a paper towel over my throbbing thumb and apply pressure.  I glance out of our frosted window and recognize the signs of an oncoming storm.  Lacking the mobility to grab a coat, I run out the back door.

Across the yard, Mr. Pearson’s living room lamp illuminates the windows.  I shuffle around his garden of red peppers and cabbage and climb the porch steps.  Still clutching my hand, I kick the glass door lightly.  “Mr. Pearson?  Are you home?”  I yell through the glass.

I am about to walk away when a stocky man struggles out of a dusty, blue recliner.  I smile and gesture for him to come to the door.  He hesitantly slides the door open, but he only leaves a small crack.  “What do you want?”  He growls.  When he speaks, his glasses slip down the bridge of his wide nose.  I continue to smile, despite the fact that my finger pulse thumps with ferocity.  “I just need a band aid.”

A gurgling sound escapes his mouth, “Fine.  They are in the drawer next to the stove.”  I offer a thankful grin and slip through the door.  While unwrapping the bandage, I peer across the room at Mr. Pearson.  My eyes immediately glance to his heart, searching for a thread.  After moments of concentrating on his chest, I realize that he also is staring at me.  “What are you looking at?” He snaps.

I jump in my skin and swiftly tape the bandage on my thumb.  “Sorry Sir,” I mumble.  “I know that you don’t see nothing there, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t something,” he whispers to no one in particular.  I freeze and walk to where he sits.  He peers at me through his bifocals.  “Miss Julianna, it’s there if you want it to be there.”  My confusion is caked on my face, “Mr. Pearson, what are you talking about?”  He pulls himself out of the chair and leads me to the door.  “Go home and clean up the knife you cut yourself with before your mother gets home.”

He practically shoves me out of the door.  A few reflective raindrops fall onto my hair.  Looking back into the old man’s home through the cloudy light, I catch a shimmer.  A thread barely visible to my trained eyes connects Mr. Pearson to a woman in a picture framed with glass.  Mr. Pearson slightly turns, and a sparkle glows in his eyes.  The same sparkle I saw in the woman’s eyes in the park that same day.

Suddenly, a realization hits me in the face.  I gallop into my home, sling the bloody towel into the trashcan, and snatch my car keys off the counter.  In the confines of the car, my heart beats boldly.  The rain pounds fiercely against the windshield.

Before I realize where I am headed, my car screeches to a halt in front of Landon’s home.  I jump out of the car and find myself standing on his doorstep.  I knock multiple times in order to pass minutes in the icy rain.  My body shivers, but I refuse to leave his doorstep; I need to know.

Finally, Landon opens his door.  The crust from an afternoon nap occupies the corners of his eyes.  The V-neck shirt gives me a glimpse of his lean and muscular body.  A light scruffle shadows his jaw.  His crystal eyes sparkle in the rain.  His chipped front tooth reveals itself in a brilliant smile.  “My mysterious Julianna, to what do I owe this pleasure?”

My eyes shift to his heart.  At first, I see nothing but the cotton fabric of his white shirt.  Then, slowly, a shimmer sparks in the air.  I focus, I will it to form, and the thread grows.  It lengthens and defies the laws of science, stretching across the space between our bodies.  Then, in a single precious moment, the thread touches my heart, sending vibrations through my body.  A tear, disguised as rain, slips down my face.

“Disappearing again?”  He asks gruffly.  I leap into his arms and passionately embrace Landon.  My wet lips brush against his ear.  “I’m not disappearing,” I whisper.  “I’m seeing what I have been searching for.”




Caroline Donovan attends Archmere Academy in Wilmington, Delaware. Her passion is writing, but she also enjoys playing sports. She competes in athletic events throughout the year. Caroline is a huge fan of John Green and has read all of his novels. She aspires to be a bestselling author and use her unique perspective to change the world.

Empty Dreams

Black talons, coated in thick, slimy gloss tap on the windowpane.  Slowly, agonizingly slowly, the thin glass cracks.  Uneven lines race each other across the glass.  A young boy hears the soft cracking, jostling him from slumber.  The creature taps again, and a small hole allows the moist breath of the animal to seep into the room.

The boy is paralyzed with fear.  He lunges for the bedroom door, but pain jolts through his legs.  He desperately attempts to lift his legs; the creature’s hand bursts through the window.  Shards of glass skate across the slick hardwood and slice the boy’s sweaty ankles.  His lip quivers, and a whimper tumbles out of his mouth.  A tear rolls down the crease of his nose.

The creature, no longer separated by the glass, crawls towards the boy.  Its claws create spidery patterns on the wooden floor.  An ear-splitting screech echoes in the room.  Quickly, the creature captures the boy in its talons, covering his Spider Man pajamas in bubbling goo.  The boy releases a bloody scream, and he closes his eyes.

I arch my back and hurriedly rip the quilt off my body.  I rub my blood-shot eyes with the back of my hand.  My labored breathing stings my raw throat.  I force my sweaty palm to drop the dream catcher clutched between my fingers.  The clock on the nightstand vibrates; my shift is over.  I stand, shove my feet into the leather shoes perched on the shelf, zip up my jacket, and throw the empty dream catcher into the shadows.

The door closes, and locks, behind me.  The narrow hallway is flooded with people.  All of the people look the same: exhausted and scarred.  I suspect that I appear the same.  A woman greets me, “Hey Bill, how was your shift?” My eyes linger on her shiny forehead, slick with sweat, and her blotchy cheeks.  Similar to a robot, I utter the same word I have uttered for six years, “Fine.”

She shrugs her shoulders and falls into rhythm with my steps.  Together, we snatch our files from the labeled cabinets.  A paycheck peeks out of the corner of my folder.  The more dream catchers I empty, the more pain I endure, the more money I make.  “How many did you empty today?” The woman, Sheryl, asks me.  My mind pauses, so I open the file.  I respond numbly, “103.” Her eyes widen, and she enthusiastically throws her hands into the air.  “How do you do it Bill?  I mean, is there a secret?” I shake my head, open the door, and burst into the daylight.  I jog, stretching my legs, and run towards my car.  “No secrets,” I yell, “just dreams.”

My car bakes in the afternoon sun.  The silver car door handle burns my skin.  I fumble with the key, and a girl’s voice rises behind me.  “Hey, can I talk to you?” I spin around, completely forgetting about the car.  A black tank top paired with cut-off jeans accents her curvy figure.  Her blonde hair is streaked with pink dye, and her toenails are painted the color of twilight.

I lean my body against the car.  “What do you want?” I ask.  She steps closer and sweeps a lock of hair away from her emerald eyes.  “I want to do what you do,” she eagerly states.  A chuckle escapes my mouth; “You want to work in a factory all day?” I gesture towards the catcher; the building in which dream catchers are emptied.  “Don’t lie to me.” Her voice is smooth and carries the hint of venom.

I turn my back to the girl and begin unlocking the car.  “You empty dream catchers.” She lunges towards the car.  “Somehow, all of the dreams disappear.” I continue to fumble with the key, careful to ensure that she does not see the surprise in my eyes.  “Listen kid, I don’t know what you are talking about.” I hop into the car and begin to shut the door.  She snatches the handle and rips the door open.  The file slips out of the side door pocket, and the papers fan across the fiery pavement.  Before I can bend down, she drags the file towards herself.  She shoves the papers in my face.  The first paper, in large block letters, reads: 103 DREAM CATCHERS EMPTIED.  “It looks like you do know what I am talking about,” she sneers.

I release a heavy breath and step out of the vehicle.  “Do not tell anyone what you saw,” I threaten.  She hugs the file against her chest, “I won’t, but under one condition.” I raise my eyebrows, and she raises hers.  “You have to teach me how to empty a dream catcher.” I firmly grasp her delicate hand and shake, “Fine.  You have a deal.” Her lips curl upward, and her eyes sparkle.  “When do we start?” I gaze towards the building.  I slam the car door.  “Now.” She throws the file into my arms and sprints in the direction of the catcher.  I sulk after her, doubting my decision.

A heavy force weighs on my arm as I pull the door open for the girl.  “What’s your name?” Her eyes intently scan the empty hall.  She continues to observe, “You can call me Ray.” Her legs pull her in various directions.  Eventually, she locates the shaft.  Thousands of dream catchers fall from the shaft, are separated, and then delivered to different rooms.  “So, this is where they all come from?” She asks me over her shoulder.  Her eyes widen in wonder.  She lifts a glass panel and reaches into the shaft.  She closes her eyes and allows the feathers attached to the dream catchers to brush against her pale skin.  The nightmares are hidden in the pure beauty.

I gently grab her arm and drag her in a different direction.  I quickly direct her into the room.  The room is bare.  A container, filled to the brim with dream catchers, is enclosed in a clear, sealed box.  I retrieve the key, unlock the door, and carefully select a dream catcher.  “Lay there,” I order.  Ray eagerly plops onto the gray bed sheets.  I throw the dream catcher to her; she examines the specific design.  I shuffle through a drawer.  A small syringe winks at me from the corner of the drawer.  I nervously pick up the syringe, and I attach a thin tube of watery liquid.

Ray notices my actions, but she remains calm.  “This injection will prevent you from waking up until each dream is over.” She sits up, “Okay, inject me, let’s go!” Her happiness sickens my stomach.  “I can’t guarantee what you see; these are someone else’s nightmares.” I point towards the dream catcher.  She nods her head and places her warm hand over mine, “I know,” she whispers.  I plunge the needle into her neck, and she instantly falls asleep.

For hours, I sit in a plush leather chair and watch.  I watch her writhe in imaginary pain.  I listen to her scream.  I smell the sweat roll down her skin.  Her eyes flutter open, and tears violently flow down her cheeks.  “Ray, calm,” her screams silence my words.  She jumps to her feet and sprints towards the door.  Her hands shake uncontrollably, and she is unable to undo the simple latch.  In panic, she yanks tufts of her pink hair.  Beads of sweat drip from the tip of her nose.  I leap forward, grab her body, and she falls into my arms.  Anger thickens in her voice, “Do you enjoy it?  Do you like to see people’s most terrifying nightmares?”

She pounds her fists against my chest and stomach.  “You are a sick person!” She screams.  Eventually, she crawls to the door and opens it.  She steps into the hallway.  Before she leaves, she captures my attention.  A dot of dry blood covers the small hole on her neck.  The sweat dampens her cotton shirt.  Her dark makeup is smudged beneath her eyes.  She runs her fingers through her sweaty hair and glares at me, “Just tell me why you do it,” she demands.  Disgust lurks in her voice.  “It’s not a choice; it’s a punishment.” Puzzlement washes over her face.  She slams the door, and I hear her footsteps bound down the hallway.  I stand and hobble towards the container of dream catchers; it is draped in shadows.  I choose a bare dream catcher, the kind that always hold the worst dreams, lie on the bed, and I plunge the sharp needle into my neck.




Caroline Donovan attends Archmere Academy in Wilmington, Delaware. Her passion is writing, but she also enjoys playing sports. She competes in athletic events throughout the year. Caroline is a huge fan of John Green and has read all of his novels. She aspires to be a bestselling author and use her unique perspective to change the world.