COMING OF AGE
observe as the boys in your class bristle when you refuse to believe each and every one of
their words. you are starting to have your own thought and opinions, as you understand
the power of your voice; read their texts saying “not to publicly go against” what they say
and think about playing hopscotch in the yard during recess. think about the goal as you
remember the numbered squares in elementary school and the way you could just jump
without falling. hesitate to have a different point of view and utter the words of dissent
that they don’t want to hear. ponder the question of if you should speak or stay silent.
try to ignore the catcalls on the street as you go for a run. sprint when you’re on an empty
street and feel that you have unwanted company. stand near the lights so that if danger is
near, you will be seen. light is your friend. walk quickly when the sun disappears and the
moonlight serves as a poor substitute.
start to understand the fear that’s building up inside your body. start to realize that being
a teenage girl is chaos. start to raise your hand in class even when the male teacher won’t
call on you. start to review those derivatives that continue to spiral in your head like the
stars above that move around the center of the galaxy.
Ilana Drake is a rising senior at the High School for Math, Science, and Engineering. Ilana is a Seed in Seeds of Peace, a Rising Voices Fellowship alumna, a mentee in Girls Write Now, and a Bridger in YouthBridge-NY. Ilana served as a Young Leader of Manhattan and her work has been featured in Bright Lite, Highly Indy, The Forward, The Times of Israel, Jewish Women’s Archive, jGirls, Blue Marble Review, Crossed Paths, Fresh Ink for Teens, The Youth Voices Network & Day One “All of Love’s Vibes” zine, Girls Write Now blogs, Girls Write Now Anthologies (2019, 2020), and YouthBridge-NY blogs.
THE DAY THE RAIN CAME
The restless sky grumbled. The thick blackened clouds had been dragged down by the weight
of the rain that was held within its delicate form. The clouds could not stand the struggle to
endure the burden of the weight of the rain they held, soon gave in. Rain roared over the city,
washing the streets of the small town. The wind lifted, howling, emptying the streets with it
ghastly cry. The sound of emptiness was disrupted by the loud cracking of thunder which
came as a warning. The thunder was accompanied by lighting that crackled across the sky; a
white-hot blot broke the utter darkness of the black burnt heavens. The raindrops struck hard
against the window; the rain was louder than any conversation that was happening in the
coffee shop. While the storm brewed outside, the wind would bang against the door every so
often as a reminder that its presence was still present. It rudely interpreted the customers in
the shop, that would look up every often and tutted at the banging door, as though it was a
naughty child running around causing trouble. Gina ignored the banging door, as her
attention was on the rain. She has chosen to sit in the farthest corner of the shop, unbothered
by the screaming wind, she watched the raindrops sliver down the window. Her attention was
only broken when the rain had pushed people that got caught in the claws of the storm into
Café Nero. The coffee shop was bursting with conversations. As multiple orders for coffee
came through, the became thick with aroma of coffee and damp from the wetness of the
soaked clothes that clung to the customer’s body. Gina shivered as she could feel the warmth
leaving her body, as a draft roamed around the shop. She wrapped her fingers around her
latte, enjoying the heat that spread through her hands. She watched the line grow longer.
Chantal Kapani is a 20-year-old University student from London that spends most of her time up North. She is an aspiring novelist currently in the works of her first novel, and in her second year studying English and Creative Writing, which she very much enjoys. She is passionate about literature – she loves to write and she loves to read.
THE GRASS IS GREENER ON THE OTHER SIDE
She had woken up in an empty concrete cube. Her feet were bare and she had been
clothed in a wispy material. The material had no color and would sway as if pushed by a
breeze that only it could catch. It wouldn’t tear, it wouldn’t stretch, it wouldn’t change. The walls
and the ground and the ceiling were made of an equally strange colorless cement. She tried
pounding on the walls, screaming and crying for anyone to help. The walls held and no one
came. Exhausted, she fell asleep.
On the second day, she realized that there wasn’t a light source for the box. She just was
able to see. Naturally, she tried searching for a spot where she felt that she could see the best.
She wanted to know if there was a weak spot in the wall. After some time, the lights dimmed to
what she assumed to be a night simulation. The cement floor became soft and malleable and she
grew tired. The soft floor swaddled her, keeping her warm as she slept. Some time after, the
ground began to grow harder, and with it the light grew brighter until she was made to wake up.
The third day, and on this day she found out there was a portion of the wall that she could
mold like putty. So she started shaping it into first a bed, then a chair, then a table. It wasn’t
much compared to the outside, but it was enough for now. Satisfied, she slept in her newly
The fourth day, she discovered a food and water cavity. She hadn’t felt hunger or thirst
previously, but upon seeing sustenance her stomach began to claw at itself. She ate and drank
and gorged herself until she could consume no more. Feeling tired, she slept.
Day five was when she found a new set of clothes. This time the clothes were colored.
They were dyed a bright red. Red was not her color of choice, but they were a new set of clothes,
so she ultimately decided to accept them. As she changed out of the colorless fabric of her
original clothes, the red clothes became the color that she wished for. A small dresser appeared
next to her bed, it was made of the same putty like concrete she had used to mold her bed, desk,
and chair. She placed the colorless clothes inside a drawer and shut the dresser, wanting to rid
herself of the inside.
The sixth day she found a book, and so she read. The seventh, she found pencil and
paper. The eighth, she drew how she would break free.. The ninth, she scratched at the putty-like
portion of the wall, yanking away at the material until she felt it grow thin. The tenth, the
eleventh, the twelfth, the thirteenth, all the days until twenty were spent pulling apart the wall.
And on the first hour of day twenty, she found freedom, it was what she wanted. At hour
twenty three of the twentieth day she found that the outside was the same box with the same
problems she faced on the inside. There was nothing different, she hadn’t found anything better,
she hadn’t tried to improve anything.
Yong Ooi is a rising junior based in the bay area who loves to write fiction/nonfiction, and edit videos. Writing and editing allow her to make her own small world of something. If she’s not creating abstractly, she likes to write and shoot videos about things that stand out to her when she travels. As a beginning Youtuber (yng._oo) she’s still trying to find an editing style that fits her story. As for her writing, she hopes to settle into a style fitting both her original and non-original works.