Tessa Wagener 2016

Story:      Love, Izzy

Poem:     Monsters

Poem:     Chemistry

Poem:     Blackened Hands

Poem:     War: The Thief

After "Originally"

Girls with Dragons and Teenage Blues

Love, Izzy


     I carefully closed the screen door behind me so Mom wouldn't hear me. If she were to catch me sneaking out again, I’d get another lecture, normally something like “Aria, how do you plan to be successful when you do these stupid things?”  Normally I reply with a shrug, which she doesn’t like very much. Then it gets me thinking, what have I ever done that she does like?

     I walked down the cement steps realizing that I should’ve grabbed a jacket. I checked the upstairs window to my mom’s bedroom for any sign that she was awake. With the house dark and unmoving, I headed down the cracked sidewalk leading to the street and set out on my normal route to meet Izzy. Izzy snuck out often to get away from her abusive father. I’d gotten too close to her to tell the police about her situation, in fear that she’d be taken away from me. She agreed we had too much of a bond to leave it behind. Ever since I met her one night in the park, we continued to sneak out and talk.

     When I reached the park, I saw her sitting on our usual swings. Her figure was bent, hands cupping her face. I knew something bad happened tonight. When I got to her, I first noticed the bruise causing the left side of her face to swell twice its normal size. Her nose had partially dried blood on it, and her lip was busted in several different places. I couldn’t even imagine what the injuries hidden beneath her clothing looked like. “I forgot to do the dishes,” Izzy wheezed out. I hushed her from speaking anymore. She burst into tears. Not wanting to hurt her with a hug, I settled on holding her hand. Sticking the fingers of my free hand in the puddle of water by the swings, I brushed the blood off of her face and comforted her as her tears slowly dried.

     “I like that one,” Izzy said as she pointed to the Big Dipper. She wasn’t exactly as educated as most kids our age were. Her father kept her home for the most part to do chores for him. He’d have her cook, clean, give him beer after beer, anything that required him less work. If she were to forget one chore or he hadn’t liked the way it was done, she was beaten.

     “That’s the Big Dipper,” I informed her as I proceeded to split the pack of fruit snacks I brought between us. We sat in silence for a while until I finally got the urge to ask, “You’re acting differently. What did he do to you this time?” She frowned in response and looked away.

     “Nothing.” I didn’t push her for more information.

     I kicked a rock that was barely visible through the flickering streetlight as we made our way back to my house. I’d let Izzy inhabit our garage on nights that ended up like this. She was always gone before anyone woke the next morning. We rounded the last corner and cut through several yards to my house.

     “I just wish it would all go away sometimes,” she said in a whisper-like voice.

     “I know. I’m so sorry it’s like this,” I replied like I actually had a clue of what she was feeling.

     “Wait here,” I said and she stopped at the light post closest to my house as I’d instructed her. I walked up the sidewalk to my house and motioned for her to follow after I saw Mom was still asleep. If Mom saw Izzy or caught her in the garage, she’d tell the police. I kept a pillow and blanket in my dad’s old toolbox for when she stayed. Nobody had touched his toolbox ever since he left us. It was sad to me. She looked happier sleeping in our garage than her own house. She laid on our old dog bed and covered herself with the blanket that was barely bigger than her. I shut off the lights and proceeded back to the house, leaving her with silence.

     I woke early the next morning, unable to go back to sleep. I crept through the house and out to the garage to see if Izzy had already left. The pillow lay in the bottom portion of the toolbox, the blanket neatly placed on top. I looked in the corner to see the dog bed empty. I then closed and locked the garage door and headed back to my room.

     A bird’s song caused my eyes to flutter open. I must’ve fallen asleep again. I looked at the clock, which read 1:37 p.m. I heard the familiar clanking of the pots downstairs and realized mom was cleaning up from lunch. I stumbled downstairs, relying on my tired legs to keep me from completely falling. “Good morning!” Mom said in an almost too cheerful voice. I mumbled morning and crawled into the laundry room to retrieve my work uniform. After tying my last shoe, I stood and announced to Mom I was headed to work. The hardest part of making fast food that day was keeping my concern about Izzy from interfering with it.

     After a long day at work, I took a quick shower and listened to the click of Mom’s bedroom door as I knew she’d be going to bed early. After waiting thirty minutes after the click, I pulled on my hoodie and made my way to the back door. Once outside, I checked her bedroom window for any lights but found it lifeless again. I made my way down the sidewalk and through the yards that provided a shortcut for me until I reached the edge of the park.

     I walked along the edge of the small lake that would eventually lead me to our usual swings. The water alongside me mirrored the moon, the same moon Izzy spoke to whenever she locked herself in her room to get away from the psycho she unfortunately called Dad. I picked up my pace in hopes of seeing that tonight had at least been a decent night for her. I froze when I saw our swings were empty. I pulled my phone out of the front pocket of my hoodie to check if I had shown up late. I hadn’t. An object too far away for me to see was rested in Izzy’s place, and I took off to retrieve it: An envelope with my name neatly written on it. Hands now shaking, I opened the letter and could only croak out, “Dear Aria,” before I knew what this was about.

     I thought it would be too late by the time I got there, but still ran to the other side of the park where the bridge was located. I wasn’t too late. She stood on the railing of the bridge with no expression. “Izzy, don’t,” I said and she lifted her gaze to mine.

     “Don’t. Just please let me help,” I pleaded again. I was unsure if she could even hear me. She had a confused look in her eyes, the light I once saw was now gone.

     “I don’t want help. I want it to be over!” She turned to face the rocks that outlined the water below. She studied it, and I knew she was having second thoughts.





She read the text, another text,

a command to, “Just die already.”

Tormentors became bombs,

their words shrapnel.

Her friends broke away from her.

She kennelled herself, closing

the cage. Their commands

clasped the lock, resting the key

next to her. Still stuck on the incessant

leash of social media, she sat by herself

unable to do anything but scroll.



Remember when you were my scientist,

I, your little experiment?


Believing the stupid hypothesis

that love was what we had.


And for your project,

I was too willing to change


Completely altering who I was,

my face, size, shape, and voice.


All the observations you recorded

were the flaws I had yet to fix.


Like an atom,

The lies you spoke made up everything.


I then realized the goggles

were protecting your eyes only,


while the pain of our memories

would forever sting mine.


Remember when we tested the outcome of fate,

and the result wasn’t us?


Blackened Hands


He hides his face,

in his blackened hands.


Help was all he asked for,

but he received something else.


His stomach growls, eyes beg.

They pass, one by one,


their grocery bags filled with

shoes, candy, and sugared drinks.


Yet, he isn’t spared a dime

and is forced to pilfer from the garbage.


He grips the tattered sleep sack,

his worn body crawls in.


Only to repeat his day over again.

War: The Thief


Gripping the controls,

he stayed close only to the metal

that delivered these men.

He wouldn’t flinch at these deaths.

His face was impassive,

without a single grimace.

It was in his blood, just like his father’s.

Yet, that blood would soon spill

to prove a hero in his eyes.

The boots his father once wore were now laced,

filled with nothing but months of training,

and a name threaded into a lifeless jacket.

His own funeral welcomed him home.