The Beast that Follows


My head jerks up. My heart beats faster. I can’t even see five feet in front of me.


The rough bark I’m leaning against feels plastered to my skin through my shirt. I feel so small with my knees folded, my weak arms clutching them to my chest.


My breathing quickens, but I can’t let the creature hear me. I hold the next gulp of air in my throat, praying the monster overlooks me.


It seems to be coming from all directions; I can’t pinpoint just one.


A single tear escapes my eyes, without a sound. It slides down my nose and catches itself in the corner of my mouth. Its saltiness is sticky and uncomfortable. It seems to make breathing much more difficult.


The leaves rustle above me; the ground shakes below me. I dig my fingers into the soil and make a fist in a pathetic attempt to hold everything still.


I bury my face between my knees again and clamp my filthy hands over my ears, indifferent to the caking dirt trapped underneath my fingernails. That splintering break wasn’t the usual twig, no. It was the trunk propping me up. My last support, the beast snapped in two like a toothpick.

“There you are,” it growls. I can hear its teeth forming a sick, twisted grin. “Miss me?”

Its monstrous claw reaches down and scoops me up like the claw machine at the arcade from when I was seven. I can imagine how terrified those innocent stuffed penguins must have been. Their big, frozen, unchanging eyes staring back at their kidnapper, oblivious to what lies ahead of them. I panic and try to escape its grasp but its strength is too much. Even if I could uncurl its rough claws from around my torso, a fall from this height would be detrimental. Not that I would mind, I’d take death over this fate any day.

“How’ve you been?” Its hot breath blows my hair behind my shoulders. I can’t make eye contact.

“How do you always find me?” I try to sound strong, but my voice cracks like thin ice.

Its hearty, sinister laugh makes me tremble. “Please, you tower over every last one of these acres.”

The monster’s jaw unhinges and it raises me to its sharp teeth. Frozen in terror, I peer past those white knives and see the darkness at the end of its throat and my path. All I can hear is my heart beating in my ears and sitting in my throat. The last thing I see is its eyes. Its bright, yet tinted, yellow eyes with black slits in the center. They seem miles deep.

Then, everything is black.

I bolt upright in bed, the sheets soaked with cold sweat. I gasp for air as my eyes dart around the room, trying to decipher why the bowels of the beast’s stomach have Taylor Swift posters hanging on the walls.

“Just a dream,” I breathe, my breathing patterns starting to settle.
But my heart sinks to my stomach when I realize the awful truth. The monster hasn’t left. My anxiety followed me into this world, too.




Sarah Allen loves to write poetry and short stories. She is in the ninth grade and lives just outside of Philadelphia, PA with her parents and two younger brothers. She also loves to bake and ski

A Natural Departure

From you, I grow farther

Falling leaves, as autumn will pass

I’ll rest temporarily, on grass

Wind will remove me

Other places I’ll go

Until eventually I’ll disappear

Covered in snow

Carlo Lingesso is 18 years old and now studying Communications at Rowan College at Gloucester County. His passions include writing poetry and short stories. He writes to relay his thoughts, feelings, and life experiences on paper. In his opinion, the most satisfying reward from writing is hearing somebody’s passionate and genuine response to his work. 


The towel slips off, falling to the ground, and with it falls the composure of a well-rounded girl.
My hand grasps the shower handle, turning it up, up, up. I want to burn off the façade.
The façade of a person who knows what they’re doing, who rarely has bad days, who has their shit together.
I step in, the tile floor threatening to pull me in like quicksand. The water rushes over me, tiny bullets piercing my skin.

Worthless. Disappointment. Failure.

The words ring through me. I step into the vortex of water, the eye of the storm, and let the pounding sound ring throughout me like an elephant’s heartbeat. I look down at my naked body, vulnerable and fragile.


I open my eyes wide as I face the water with the eyes of a newborn. I look up, as if I can see beyond the drab white ceiling, beyond the night sky, beyond the universe, right into the eyes of God. I let the water wash my eyes out, blinding them with the reality of starting over.
I let my worries pool at my feet, wrapping around my ankles. I’m shackled there. My hand reaches out to turn the water off, but I stay in the same spot, watching the dreams of a once naïve little girl who knew of happier days spiral down the drain. I step out and wrap my towel around me, as if putting on a new mask to face the world.
But I’ll be back.
Oh I’ll be back alright.
I’ll be back with new masks to wash down the drain, new hopes to rinse off, and new tears to weave into the cascade of water droplets that fall into my outstretched hands.
There will be plenty more bubble baths of cynicism,
Beds full of defeat,
Brushing teeth with an “I’m okay” smile,
and eloquent showers of despair.



Eden loves to write poetry and read vivaciously in her free time. She is currently working on a short story, as well as a plethora of poems. Music is her inspiration, and she often expresses a hidden side of herself through her writing. She lives with her family and huge, loveable dog in Havertown, Pennsylvania.


No service.
No make-up.
Lips, chapped and pale
in an expanse of tanning skin.
Ears tilted like an elf’s.

Hands built to wrap around
a guitar’s neck—
to wrap around your neck.
Arms built to hang onto bodies,
laughter falling from mouths.

The dark opening
of the forests’ jaws,
tumbling forward,
leaning backwards,
making small talk
perched upon hips.

Every door,
every window,

Burgundy blanket.
Burgundy cup.

Blue eyes,
blonde hair.
Brown eyes,
blonde hair.

Placing a cup over a flame
to choke it out,
then removing it to give it life.
Drowning hope and feeding it
in a slow kind of torture.

Mountain air,
clear, cool
down a throat cut open and stinging
from swallowing razors,
drinking vodka to make it burn.

People come and people go.
They come with false promises
falling from their tongues
and leave, retracting them back
behind their teeth to spit at
the next girl.

A new scar appears.

Crow calls
And blue jay song
remind you of home.
You want it to rain,
so maybe you can breathe.

Francesca Wilkin is 17 years old and a junior at Harriton High School in Rosemont, PA. She have been writing for most of her life but only in 9th grade did she start writing poetry. This is her first published piece.

Communal Pen Friend

Part I.

I forget to breathe.
Chewing bone and swallowing pride.
What are you afraid of?
I fall in love with hickeys,
I am addicted to caffeine for a reason.
Lady Caramel,
Princess Pastel Pink,
King of Gold,
Queen of Blue.
I saw someone who doesn’t exist today,
a purple flower of phlox
in an ocean of
sunlight-filtered water.
And in the perforated pages
of my blank-lined notebook mind,
you leave seductive stains of
liquefied gold. (chemical name Au)
The sun is in my eyes,
but I feel fine.
The red paint hasn’t dried,
I am smiling into open air.
The rain is in my eyes,
but I feel fine.

Part II.

Like Sylvia Plath,
we hath
weary eyes,
tired hearts,
and strong bones.
Rolled-up sweater sleeves,
an autumn leaf
sits on my shoulder
as a dull reminder
of everything cold.
My body and mind
are permanently sick
with disgust
of hidden claws
and hidden thorns.
Of cages and their keys
and of all that is
unholy and wrong.
I repeat,
this too, shall pass,
this too, shall pass,
this too, shall pass.
Living for my own cause,
a lost purpose
punctuated by
wet hair
and smiling eyes,
brown eyes.
I like boys and girls
with brown eyes.
My bruises have faded.
The sun is in my tired eyes
and I feel like I’ve been kissed by an angel.
He asks where,
and with my pointer finger
I stroke both wrists,
both hips,
both shoulder blades.
Scar tissue doesn’t heal,
spirals on knuckles,
I’ll make art
by punching walls.
I forget to breathe.

Francesca Wilkin is 17 years old and a junior at Harriton High School in Rosemont, PA. She have been writing for most of her life but only in 9th grade did she start writing poetry. This is her first published piece.

So Tight, So Right

You were right
for holding onto me so tight.

Wouldn’t let me leave

unless I had long sleeves

You cooked me food
and made sure I ate good

Told me about my sister’s past
Since I am the last

You were right
for holding onto me so tight.

Told me about the boys

who treat girls like toys

Didn’t want me to do bad in school

so I won’t be a fool

You’ve done your job well
I’ve grown up to be swell

You were right

for holding onto me so tight.

Everything you told me 

at first I didn’t believe

Now that I’ve grown 

I should have known

You yelled at me when I did wrong
Your lectures were very long

You were right 

for holding onto me so tight.

You watched me grow every day,
and listened when I had something to say.

I know I’m not the best,
but trust me, I try harder than the rest.

You are a part
of my big heart.

And you were right
for holding onto me so tight

You’re so bold
and worth more than gold.

I’m sorry for any pain I’ve caused
Let’s just put that on pause

You’re the best mother ever
even though your moods are like weather

Oh mother, you were so right

for holding onto me so tight.

Battle Scars

The scars—
What are they?
Don’t worry,
I’ll be fine

The scars—
What are they?
Something I
Left behind

The scars—
What are they?
A dark secret
Of mine

The scars—
What are they?
They’ll go away
With time

The scars—
What are they?
A war within
My mind

My America

Blue and white
Flimsy plastic lines
Woven together, grated
Down in a row
Foldout chairs on the
Asphalt, yellow and dotted
Line of Main St.
Small town Mayville, NY.
July Fourth, it is a Monday
This year, not the last
When chapel bells rang
Rhythms conflicting
Brass bells clanging
With the toots of the
Sirens ready for the Parade.
Small town not lacking
Conviviality, when the
Shriners spin by motors
Churning humming red
Race strips running 13
To the American flag.
The sky blue as ever
Our national ceiling
Air crisp with excitement
Clears itself for the day.
My uncle’s throaty
Cackle erupts beside me-
Aunt Judy giggles and
They laugh it all off.
My eyes aren’t as glassy
As they were years before
The festivities aging-
The ostentation unappealing-
No longer the best country
No longer top of the world.

Laura Haskin is a senior at Friends Select School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her creative nonfiction and poetry has been published in Philadelphia Stories and The Bell Literary Magazine. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking and functions as the founder of a food and travel blog, The Cedar Kitchenette.

“For You A Thousand Times Over”

There is a Polaroid image
Vintage- yellowed and crisped
Corners folded, labeled in
Smeared sharpie with those
Curves of your letters
I knew them so well
Two faces pale yet
Flushed by the summertime
Sun beaming down
Spotlight to our embrace
Father, I remember
Fragments of those stories
Like fairy tales recited
Again and again
For you I would tell them
Re-spin those journeys
My own words molded
To the melody pulsing
Through the blood in our
Veins- slowing like our
In remembrance
A thousand times over
I’d replay it again.

Laura Haskin is a senior at Friends Select School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her creative nonfiction and poetry has been published in Philadelphia Stories and The Bell Literary Magazine. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking and functions as the founder of a food and travel blog, The Cedar Kitchenette.

That Feeling You Get Sometimes

Sometimes I sit in my room
and I feel like my walls are closing in
But this makes me feel like a hack,
because everyone and their grandmother has said this
I don’t know, maybe I am a hack

Sometimes I choke on the words
that I wish I could muster the courage to say
And sometimes I say them anyway
Only to apologize for how I feel
Just to spare others

Sometimes I think about punching somebody
I don’t mean that I want to punch somebody
I just think about a specific instance
When he pushed me too far
And I couldn’t help myself

Sometimes I try to rationalize this
By saying that I’m not a violent person
And maybe he had it coming
But then, when I really think about it
Maybe I’m the bad one, and I have something coming

Ian Greenleaf is in the tenth grade at Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School. He was inspired to write by a few of the poems included in our last issue, specifically “My Rain.” He loves reading experimental fiction, and writing both prose and poetry.