Best of 2014

Summoning Satan
Leigh Ann Kyle
Maurizio Anzen


r. Miller

For my cousin, Charlotte

So it begins
when the brightest star
you’ve seen in the sky
flickers like the ember
of a cigarette
hanging loosely
from a pair of forlorn lips.

Brighter with each breath
until all that remains
are gray ashes scattered
all over the street.

A life can be expressed
in these same terms.

And just like some cigarettes
burn faster than others –

maybe you’re in the mood
to enjoy a smoke
after a luxurious meal
or you’ve only got five minutes
to spare before your
smoke break ends –

a life, a human life,
can span the length
of ten decades, or
in rarer cases,
the saddest cases,
a life, a human life
can last little more than two.

In these instances,
reflecting on the life
in question can be
a painful task,
particularly if the one
leading the life
you’ve taken up the task
of reflecting upon
was somebody close to you.

Ask anyone – it’s just not an easy thing to do.

And I’ve been avoiding it
for a while now because,
let’s face it,
I don’t deal well with despair.

It isn’t for lack of caring.
I’m mostly just scared,
but of what?

The difficulty it seems,
like being 3,000 miles from home
with no money or job prospects,
and wondering
just where the hell you’re going
to go from there.

And yet that frightens me less
than acknowledging this new,
horrible fact of my life.

I was riding the blue line
to Midtown
when I got the phone call,
my mother informing me
of the news.

Gravity reacted in a serious way,
and I sank deep in my seat,
stupefied, struggling
to figure out
the shuddering, viscous amalgam
of emotion boggling my chest.

Most people
would have asked “Why?”
But honestly though,
I know exactly why.

Anyone who has ever arrived
at the crest of desperation
knows why.

See, there are plenty
of those who would say
that life is a gift
or a marvelous opportunity,
the opportunity to breathe
and experience
all that the world has to offer.

But there are those of us,
for whom life
is a ferocious tempest,
and every day we strive
with everything we have
just to keep from drowning,
just to keep our heads
above the hateful waters
to which we’re abandoned.

But after striving so long,
there comes a peculiar calm,
a calm where everything
is permitted and nothing forbidden.

In the throes of such calm,
further striving
seems senseless,
and it makes just as much sense
to return the gift
that nobody really asks
to receive.

Believe me,
I’ve been there, I’ve lived it, I know –

It’s not a question of why,
but what could I have done?

That’s really what scares me,
knowing that I could
have done something,
but didn’t.

Christ, even someone
who’ll listen can be enough
to inspire a person
to keep fighting,
but my ears were always
gummed up with the strains
of my own aspirations,
ego, and dreams.

Now it’s just the pale strains
of a lament playing
over a super 8 reel of memories,
times when we were closer.

Happier times
before the world threw us
into that tempest
where we struggled so long,
where I could have
offered a hand,
where I never saw
that you had ceased to fight,
had laid on your back
and let the waves overtake you.


The Boys of Summer
Wandering Savage

I’ve settled on our genre.

We’re lovers on the run.

Perpetually moving,
On a consistent high speed, sub-machine gun clad chase away from the rumors of responsibility.
Every loud, potentially uncalibrated step meant to elude the forebears of age and time.
Our guns blaze across the sunbeams emitted off our convertible,
Bullets are stashed for those who dare question the authenticity of our youth.
Every attempt to tame us met with the answer of our insatiable commitment to each other.
Hotel room beds are devoured to prove it.
But it’s no matter because we’ll learn how to mend them in a the iron-casting class we would take on the way.

Deserts and range upon range of mountains, “awful blue they are”, valleys displacing into signposts with lizard kings standing on them, swinging by us as we tear through road maps
We’re on the way to Paris. No to Dublin. To Mexico City rather.
We don’t have the blues but we’re running like we do anyway.

We cut through a small town reminiscent of both our homes along the way.
In a slow motion sequence we take the Bank of America by charm and wit.
The tellers are laughing at us, applauding us, handing over the money Goldman took on loan.

Another night while you’re sleeping like a casual burrito.
I steal away to a vault on the Paramount Lot
and snatch a 35mm copy of Harold and Maude

We project it against a canyon wall in Joshua Tree.

They definitely won’t let up on us after that one.
You’re telling me no romantic gesture, no matter how grand it may seem is worth such fury it may hurl at us.
And I just sit back, turn up our playlist to carry over the tunes of the police sirens, whispering
“Still Worth It.”

Ours is not solely a lustful reign of fear and mindless anarchy

It is one passionate of engagement our surroundings,
of the pre-teens and k campers who clamor for views of our impersonations,
of impossible renditions and re-enactments of Our Town & Once
done with a time-travel twist.
We engage and entertain our local populace, charming them into submission, into our collaborative efforts to make it all better for everyone, if only for a second.
You with your hair-tossing charisma and magnetic magnetism
and Me with my self-deprecating elongated stories of times that mattered less eons before you.

Hell, we’ll even document all of it, those creeps on the NSA switchboard be damned
Every eroding aching step
All those night moves through offbeat paths with soundtracks of dad rock and Acousticky-Choir-Gentleman
Every one of the hidden gestures that harken to secret interests that no documentarian can bear witness to

Our reign draws to an end.
We don’t hit the ground together like we’re supposed to.
“They won’t let us be together,” you say in the fallout.
Dying with spirits fading you implore me to keep my eyes Forward regardless.
“You’ll be fine. I know it.”

I swerve through the vultures on the road when one of them drops a letter into my window.
Like lovers in wartime, you update me on your progress.
Shackled to the lines of responsibility, to normality, you tell me of your punishment in the form of being forced to marry the town real estate boy.

In a dream you ask me,
“Have you ever been out of yourself?”

We continue to exchange letters across enemy wiring
Our passion and love lives so long as it retains its tangibility
It is an unspoken promise of return
Of not a maybe, but a when.
In the meantime, sugary coffee and cherry pies at diners with flirty waitresses will suffice.

Missions remain clear.
As do the deer hurling their young through leaves and blades of loveless haze.
Nights wander uphill drunk into the morning suns.
Months fold into one another with the hustler train passing through every available minute.

Two months have gone by.
I’m at a BP gas station lit exclusively in fluorescent and it hits me with the full force of a buffalo rampage:

You never came with me.

The driving comes exclusively at night from here on out
My soundtrack is only what I can imagine you would listen to

It pains me to ask but it’s essential to wonder: why him?

The possibility emerges,
that I have been diagnosed with the decade old Latin American Curse,
of shadow above substance,
of temporal than permanence,
of a casual want than a desired need.

I’m after all the one who’d most certainly have led to a shared demise under a hail of moon-dipped bullets.

But maybe I missed something that He caught.

Maybe there’s some magic my “excellent” detective skills missed

The form of all of this is called into question
And I’m no longer raging across highways but stampeding through a keyboard at 2:46 in the morning in the labyrinth of this all

if all these 7 past exorcisms
all carved into the sky with a plane writing in clouds
were all just temporary effusions
or a pathetic attempt at a siren call to reverberate through the wire hangers separating us.

This particular attempt will be the grand net cast to get the General-All-Of-It.
The mess and coffee stains of its gorgeously clad entirety.
This will be my wine drained, CinemaScope, 70mm, Gone With the Wind style-Epic
A western. No a noir. A tale of love with no regret. It’ll best summarize it all.

It’ll Fail.
But it’ll also be the Last of Them.

Seasons collapse into one another
Beaches are abandoned
Camp sites dismantled
Little else is left over
The sun that always caked us over the inflatables crosses over to the blacktop one last time.

With the Don in the front seat and a handful of gentlemen ready to deliver to you the a cappella version of the Anthem-Of-Return,
we drive by your house,
and like Don predicted,
you’re not home.

I let out the boys of summer on the corner,
and in reverse, I’m on the road to an unknown beach in Buenos Aires.


City Splash
Jent Garrison



Onion Rings
Elise Lorenz

“You should probably just order a salad.”

“Actually, I was thinking about getting the steak. It looks nice and juicy.” Mike looked up at me from his menu and I could tell he was doing calculations in his head. He obviously didn’t think I was worth the money. He didn’t say anything after my comment.

“So what are you going to get?” I asked, trying to escape the silence.

“I’m going to get the bacon cheese burger with extra onion rings. Man I love onion rings.” And that was a very good reason as to why I wasn’t going to be kissing this man tonight. I hated onions with a passion especially on someone else’s breath.

“I’m going to go powder my nose.” I left the table as quickly as possible. I didn’t know how I was going to make my escape, but I had to think fast. I took my phone out of my purse and dialed my sister’s number.

“Hey Sis. How’s it going?”

“What’s up? I thought you were on a date?”

“I am. Hey. I need a favor. Can you call me back in a couple minutes? I need to use you as a way out. I can’t stand this guy one bit. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t like me either so it’s for the best.”

“Yeah. That’s fine.”

“Okay. Thanks. Talk to you soon.” I hung up my phone and made my way back to the table. The waiter was there asking for Mike’s order. I knew I couldn’t order and then ditch and run so I had to distract the waiter somehow.

“Do you know what you’d like to order?” the waiter asked.

“Actually I could use another minute if you don’t mind.”

“That’s fine.” The look on his face said otherwise. My phone’s ringtone of “Hallaback Girl” sounded.

“Hey Sis. Oh no! Your babysitter didn’t show on your anniversary. That’s horrible. I’ll be right there. Yeah I know it’ll cut into my date. He’ll understand, though.” I hung up the phone hoping that my acting was good enough for this guy. Even if he could tell I was lying, I still wouldn’t care. That’s how much I wanted to get out of this date.

“Sorry but my sister needs me. I hate to run out on you. It was nice meeting you, though.”

“Nice meeting you, too.” With that, I left Mike to eat his onion rings alone – the way they were meant to be eaten.


you brought a bite to a gun show reality i am ready put your hands up and don’t even think about letting me down
holden lyric

oh reality you’re so ugly you have leftover hopes and dreams stuck between your teeth your morning breath smells of ashes from all of the people you’ve set on fire you smell of stale happiness your teeth are crooked bones crooked homes ready to crumble at the touch of a dreamer’s quaking ambition reality i need you to leave i need you to dismiss yourself i will not fight you i need you gone now i need to breathe with ease you’re stuck in my throat and i can’t cough you out spit you up vomit you take the stars from the sky and place them in the eyes of the people cutting me off on the highway the eyes of the hungry hearts wanting more bang for their luck reality go fuck yourself reality you are dirty you are cheap you use your charm to seduce us you use your charm to refuse us reduce us into tiny little pieces of your mediocre equation reality you walk hand in hand with death reality you make deals with the devil reality you’ve got ruthless pride ruthless tides ruthless drives you take everything from me and leave me with nothing but tragedy my hope is sunken my eyes are bloodshot and dry my eyelids are heavy my limbs are heavy my heart is heavy reality don’t fuck with me reality you will lose one day reality i have never had so much hatred reality you are a knot in my neck pain in my ass reality one day i will be the death of you reality this is now or never take it or leave it reality this is my final warning reality this is warranted reality this is war this is war this is war


Awakening a Nightmare
Derek Childs

Voodoo Alice sinks her teeth
into the doll; cutting, chewing,
gnawing, making thin slits
for the eyes. The fabric wavers
round these parts as she inserts
the beads; glistening, shining,
dazzling, captivating all
with their over-achieving realism.
Capillaries are almost noticeable
amongst the fleshy sockets,
Alice sewing up the corners
with black current colored
string, before beginning
on the mouth. Thin crosses,
like the reassuring kiss of a lover
upon parchment to be delivered
to a paramour she has been forbidden
from contacting, cover
the gaunt grimace. The doll,
fraying yet complete, alive
but inanimate, looks out
onto the world, its outfit
like a clown, however, oozing
less with hilarity
and more with a purgatorial fixture,
rigidly stalking its intended prey
like a scarecrow in the bone-yard
of domesticated livelihoods,
and yet, still so innocent,
unknowing its body shall be used
to commence much ruin onto many.


The Grand Canyon
Ace Kingsly

There’s thirty-two thousand feet
between Jack’s window seat
and where the Colorado river
splits the Grand Canyon
like a wending crack in a brick.
There’s six thousand feet from ridge to river,
and he read somewhere that sixty or so people
have fallen straight to the bottom.
Whether the number’s right or not,
he doesn’t really care.

On the screen two-and-half feet
in front of his face, Bradley Cooper
and Jennifer Lawrence’s bodies
twist and twirl and intertwine
intimately, and, ultimately,
five feet from the camera,
their lips follow suit.
Roll credits.

In his hand, two feet from his eyes,
his finger lingers on the page where
the Ingenious Gentleman of La Mancha
spurs his horse and tilts at the windmills—
the ones he swore were hulking giants
just moments before.
“Enchantment,” he says.
Five feet away from him,
his flustered squire insists they
were windmills the whole time.

Six inches to Jack’s right,
the sounds of The Smiths
shoot from an iPod
to the pierced ears of the girl
in the middle seat of the plane.
Two inches from those ears
are great green eyes,
and Jack knows they’re green,
because for a moment,
his stare and hers melt into one.

And then the moment disappears,
and their stares disconnect,
and Jack’s eyes redirect
to the Grand Canyon
split like a brick
thirty-two thousand feet below.


I Want to Show You How Love Feels
Melanie Sherri Shaw

Let me find myself inside you.
I want to open you up by the belly
and see the way your organs feed life
into you. I want to stretch my hands deep
into your chest and cradle each beat your
heart makes, and as I listen closely to the
thump-da-dee-thump it whispers through
your veins I want to sing songs to your soul.
I want my fingertips to absorb the way your
skin tastes, that way I am sweetened
by your love. I want to kiss the deepest
edges buried deeply beneath your flesh,
so that my lips remain stained by the
very inscription you have engrained
stitching me together.

white fat page, white invisible words, white thoughts
Brian Andrade

hungry for the infectious ooze of black ink of words that will be pornography for the sadists, escape for thy miserable brethren who find meaning through the glass window dripped of salt rain

maybe a cigarette can help, writers smoke right? drink scotch at bars, lungs, livers for poems, an infectious trade, I’ll talk to the birds that drip their red feathers on mortal ground, I’ll use the red ink that bleeds out of thy ribcage, bone for a pen

no, no, no, I’ll fall in love, burrow into the deepest layers of dangerous sex

they write about that too, I want to write, I do, I want to kill the white, yes, I need words in this page, fuck, it’s all white, all white, all white! no. I don’t want it white, I’ll do drugs, just not cocaine, cocaine is white, I hate white, I need color, red, blue, magenta, rainbow vomit bleeding down the wall, into the lines between the bathroom tiles, sinking down to the sewer pipes, dropping on hairless rodents

I can’t do any of that, I’m scared, absent, dry, absent, dry, scared, an infant mind can’t fill a page with anything but nursery rhymes, I need these pages broken, I need my skin broken, touched by millions of affectionate hands that extend down from the clouds, let black ink rain on my pale torso, let thy body be celebrated, always, far too untouched, white, blank

bum comes up to me, asks if I’m a Christian, no, no, no, none of that sir, I need to write, flee from here, he cries, says he’s scared, no, I’m scared too, if you don’t leave I’ll cry too, white pages moist of fear, I fear the empty, I fear myself, I fear this bum, who screams, we’re both hungry, lost, hungry, lost, scared, praying

I need this book, I need this book to be a movie, I need this movie to be a play, I need this play to be a review, I need this so I won’t die in an apartment flooded with unread words, let thy poems swarm into my casket, my aborted children, never loved, never heard, never touched

the page isn’t so white anymore, yes, yes, I’m out the white abyss, silent hades

But I drop from Earth, falling in Alice’s tunnel, seeing nothing, not the hands, not the ink, just a western god’s red eye staring at me, is he high, is he drugged, am I high, am I drugged, this mind, it spins, spins, spins, never stopping, sailing on a boat on the river of fire, death isn’t scary, being wordless is, fear fills up pages, mind doesn’t pacify, mouth doesn’t pacify, teeth break each other, jaw clams of infinity

I like rambles, I like words, I like knowing, I don’t like this, not all, I want to run, I want a rocket out of here, boom, boom, boom, stars, stars, stars, faces, no faces, stars


Add Vice
Alice Clemens

Square the corners—
Every item carefully in

One designated position,
A delineated linearity,

Each spot is marked boldly,
brightly—carefully posited

Straightening away crooked
Curvatures of calamity, impelled

Confirmed convention decries
conformed intervention through

Investigation is unnecessary—
Questioning, inquisition add

Be advised: structure provides only
Constrictive restriction—strangling

Exercise caution—commanded
Reservation catastrophically quells



death of a serial number
Willie Watt

first things first:
I am not a number.

okay, maybe I’m a number, but I’m the cool
colored pencil
with the stylish pointless slashes and circles drawn through it
by the artistic kid in class.

second thing:
actually, fuck the second thing.
the second thing was dumb, anyways.

making lists is my way
of pretending there is order
in the aftermath of our mortar shell,
orbitally hellbent,

lists. numbers again.
damn it.

one time I ate so much peanut butter
I saw doors and doors and doors of
concord brand grape jelly
and I endured
the phantasmal sojourn like a

no drug trip ever compared.

actually, five is pretty stupid

I’m pretty sure I was going
somewhere with this list,
but I can’t remember anymore.

I’ll be back in a bit,
once my virulent case of
is cured.


Momma’s House
Dani Blue

“Have you seen jumping beans before?”

“Umm no.”

“Well, they’re jumping beans.”

I sat inside the newly remodeled Starbucks that was nestled in between Whole Foods and Pacific Coast Highway. The majority of the customers were Pepperdine students, with their faces pushed against their Macs and with earphones blasting while they crammed for finals. The other half of people were from the Paradise of Malibu Rehabilitation Center, which was really just a cover for the rich folks to recover from one drug only to be addicted to the next. After Starbucks they would wander across the street in their sandals on to Broad Beach Drive not looking for the beach, but the small yellow condo to choose their drug of choice.

Anthony searched through his phone, determined to find the best video of jumping beans. This was better than listening to him talk about every episode of Game of Thrones or his burning desire to squeeze Nicki Minja’s ass. It also distracted him from asking me so many questions. Plus his fascination with the beans occupied my mind and pushed the thought of home far from it.

“You know, I thought there would be better videos of the beans,” he said, almost disappointed.

“I believe you. There are beans out there that jump and stuff. I’m sure if I search for it, I’ll find something-”

“Fuck the beans and this place. Let’s go to your house and hang.”

“No, Anthony. You can drop me off at the bottom of my driveway, as always. That’s the closest you get to come. We go through this every time. Seriously I need my own car. Let’s go.”

“Yeah, you do, because my bucket is struggling to make it up Kanan every day. How do you live in Malibu and not have a car?”

“The same reason why I’ll be going to Pierce in the fall and not Pepperdine. My momma does not like me.”

“Well I wouldn’t know, since I have never met her. Callie, please. I won’t tell a soul. We’re suppose to be, uhm friends, yet I’ve never been to your house. We can go straight to your room. Just let me come in for ten minutes.” He reached over and laced his fingers with mine.

Anthony had a full head of brown curly hair. Sometimes he would let me play in it. His smile was infectious with a small gap between his front two teeth. He had braces back when we were freshmen, but the gap had never disappeared. The soft glow of his skin always held my attention, for I have never seen something so radiant. He was beautiful.

I released his hand and said, “Umm you’ll come in less than that.”

He smiled. “Callie, you know me better than that.”

Up the winding Latigo Canyon Road, about half way between Kanan and PCH, is my house. It just so happens that sixteen other girls live there, too, providing special services to men with wild fantasies and overflowing wallets. Yep, I get live with bitches that run around naked all day. Redheads, blondes, and every other shade. There are even two twin sisters from Spain with dark spiraling curls down to their waist. Their father shipped them to California for school, but they took the money, got boob jobs, (really nice ones at that), and came to work at Momma’s House.

Most of the time the house is in a swirling pool of cigarette smoke with ripped fishnets and empty lube bottles littered everywhere. Body mist attempts to cover the musty odor. All types of men–young, old, obese, and scrawny–are in and out all hours of the day and night. Surveillance cameras were placed throughout the house, in case any customers attempted to take the business down. We have their secret lives on DVD and Blu-ray.

The palm tree paradise is usually on lockdown, but the security there is shady at times. If I don’t let them have a squeeze fest, they give me a hard time. It takes me fifteen minutes sometimes to get past the gate and my ass lives there. Momma’s three story home is a mansion and a half, that of Spanish architecture. The house itself is set way back from the road sitting on a few acres of land, just far away enough from snooping neighbors.

This is my momma’s house and she is indeed a business woman. I’d say about nine years ago, she married Robert, who was a CEO of Sketchers. And he loved him some Momma, mostly her cooking and long legs. All she did was cook food for him: fried chicken, cornbread, yams, and pig’s feet. At one point, he grew his hair out long so Momma could braid it into cornrows. Robert was a chill older dude. But then his ex-wife hit and killed him with her car once she found out he left her for a sweet, southern, brown beauty. Momma cried for a whole year straight. I would rub her back and bring her soup every day, but she would just smile and close her door. Somehow, she met a new man, Big Terry, and they decided Malibu needed a little bit of spice. There were a few times the place almost got raided…almost. Big Terry made sure it wouldn’t happen.

Big Terry and I have a bond that I may never have with anyone else. He is a tall, bearded chocolate man with a singing voice that drops panties. The truth is he was never in love with Momma, but they were business partners. He admired her desire to be a business woman and her cooking, but she wasn’t the one. I had always knew that myself, and so did Momma. But her being the desperate woman she is, Momma continued the romantic act with Big Terry. On the last day I seen Big Terry–before Momma kicked him out–we went down to the Malibu Pier.

“Ya momma making me leave, Callie,” he mumbled.

“But Terry, you don’t have to. I’ll promise to stop feeling what I’m feeling. I’ll apologize to Momma. I just, I just feel comfortable knowing you’re around. You know how to handle the business better than she does.” I almost couldn’t breathe.

“I’m still handling the business, no doubt about that. But we know it ain’t good for me to be there.” He reached over and caressed my neck, only for a few seconds, then stopped.

“I care about you Callie,” he said, “ in more ways than I should. But it ain’t right sweetheart. This could lead to a destructive path for you. You need to go to college and leave Momma’s house. Try having a normal relationship with Anthony. He’s good for you.”

“Anthony is just a situation. He’s not you. I think you want me to leave you alone.”


Anthony had begged me for the last five years to come inside, to enjoy the world of sex and beautiful women. I wasn’t allowed to let anyone in unless they had a referral from a regular client and spoke the language of money. A hefty deposit on top of regular price was always required. The deposits are usually never returned due to broken windows, stained carpets, and medical procedures to terminate the unwanted. Anthony barely had enough change for gas.

“Out of all the things to do, you want to go to my house? I mean, we can do it in your car like last time if that’s what you want. Seriously, out of all the stories I told you, not one has turned you off? It’s a fucking crazy house there most of the time.”

“Why wouldn’t I want a glimpse? You know nothing about men.”

“Yeah, and you apparently know nothing about me either.”

Back in December, I had an unpleasant encounter with one of the clients. It was a Wednesday night, all the girls were wearing Santa hats and edible candy cane g-strings. A few “tickle fights” were going on in the corners of the round room, with a few girls and the indoor security team. I always hung out with the girls on Wednesdays because they usually had no customers and an endless jar of green sativa. It was a free night. That was until a man who called himself Tiger, or Tigger ,or Lion–I don’t know–called in for request for him and five of his boys. I wasn’t aware that there was a request until Momma rolled up in the round room, almost surprised to see me there.

She said to me, “Callie, you’re still in here? I got six nice men comin’ in right now and they goin’ think you are an option. Now Momma always got a spot open for ya sweetie.”

Before I had the chance to roll my eyes at that woman and get up to leave, the tiger man and his diamond dipped crew stepped into the round room, soaking up the naked asses, bare breast, Santa hats, and me. There were only two options for me to get to my room. I could have walked past these guys and booked it up the stairs, or go out the side doors into the rain and gone around. It was an impossible task.

“Here, take your tea and don’t make eye contact,” Mary whispered. Mary is my favorite.

She’s the only one not sniffing white powder on Fridays and drowning her liver in Jameson. She studies at Pepperdine, majoring in religious studies. She has high cheekbones with sad, green eyes. Mary’s voice is so soft and timid I can’t imagine her sucking off the random men. I’m sure she’s the only one I haven’t seen naked or in a compromising position. There’s nothing positive that can come from living in a whore house, but she gave off good vibrations and a level of consciousness that I admire.

“Go. I’ll come up later and we’ll handle some Netflix,” she said, nudging me towards the door. Mary was mother and savior.

Don’t make eye contact, don’t make eye contact, Fuck, I made eye contact!

“Her right here. Why she got clothes on though?” The short lion man pointed at me and blocked the door.

“She just my daughter,” Momma said, “she doesn’t like to participate in this. Choose someone else, Mr. Tiger.”

The five foot tall, high yellow rapper grabbed the crotch of his sagging jeans and inched towards me.

“Naw, I want her. She got that pretty chocolate color I like, and she got a fat ass.” He licked his lips.

Momma waved over a few girls. “I have Sidney, Tanya, and Megan who I think you would like then. You can have all three if ya want.”

The three girls quickly stood and scurried over to the lyrical genius. “Why don’t you like to participate?” he asked me.

Mamma smirked at me. “She only sixteen. Callie just a chile. ”

“Seventeen,” I mumbled, searching the room for security. “Oh for real? I thought you were gonna feed me that virgin bullshit.”

Momma snorted, “Hmm, virgin is not in this girl’s vocabulary. Neither is loyalty.”

And she stared so deep into my eyes, so deep into a dark place that made me feel shameful all over again.

“Go on ahead chile. This the type of attention you want ain’t it? I promised these men anything when they stepped in that front door. Handle it.”

And Momma walked away. I guess since she gave permission this time she wouldn’t feel guilty about the outcome.

The side of his thumb slid along my collarbone and stopped at the hollow of my throat. I shook a little bit, almost wanting to cry. There I was, trapped in a way too familiar situation, searching for something inside to end this never ending misery.

“Callie how long have we been together?”

“Will you watch the road please? We aren’t together. We just do things from time to time.”

A pained look came across his face. “We’ve been is this situationship since freshman year. And I still know so little about you.”

“You don’t need to know all the shit I put up with. And I’ve told you some things.”

“Hell yea I do. You have my heart, Callie and you know that. All this secrecy crap needs to stop.”

Honestly, I was shocked. For the longest time, we had avoided going into detail of our status with one another. On numerous occasions, mostly those in the back seat of his car with my dress pulled up, I did acknowledge the fact that I strongly cared for Anthony. I had purposefully stayed away from the word love, and never did I know, until that moment, that I was the keeper of someone’s heart. A sour taste of guilt bubbled up.

I breathed out, “Anthony, honestly, I think I do love you.

“Wait, you think you love me?”

“No, I do!”

But that was the end of that conversation or any conversation. He stopped the car at the usual spot near my house. I felt the urge to tell him everything, to just ramble it all out. He didn’t look at me, he didn’t kiss my cheek, and he didn’t say bye.

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