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My Hands

My Hands

by Emerald Naylor

He could hear the murmur of voices on the other side of the wall. There must have been hundreds- no thousands- of people waiting for him. He rolled his shoulders back and tried not to think of the crowd.

Priscilla was still standing in the doorway behind him. She glared at his back.

“I can’t believe you- doing this again.” Her voice was steady, but he could tell she was trying hard not to shout.

He turned around to face her.

“I’ve told you, I have to do this. This is who I am; I’m their hero.” He started to turn back towards the arena when something in the shadows caught his eye.

“For gods sake! Stop being the damn hero!” She was yelling now. She sounded exasperated.

He took a step towards the shadows.

“You don’t have to be their hero. Come home with me; be mine. Be my hero,” She whimpered.

“Priscilla, shush.” He narrowed his eyes. There was something there, right in front of him.


He stepped closer. He could make out the outline of the figure through the darkness. There was something in its hands.

The shadowy figure lurched forward. He couldn’t move out of the way fast enough.

There was a sharp searing pain in his chest. He wasn’t sure what had happened but he started feeling hot.

And wet.

There was something dripping- no, pouring- down the front of his chest.

He saw drops of blood trailing towards the mysterious figure. Lionel’s hands went flying up to his chest. They were covered in blood- red, hot, sticky blood. He reached for the dagger and tried to stop the blood from spilling out of the wound.

“Lionel!” Priscilla’s voice echoed from behind him as he collapsed to his knees.

The dark figure was running away. The murmur of voices became quieter. Priscilla’s sobs bounced off the stone walls.

She was gripping his face; shouting, hoping, for him to respond.

“But… I’m the hero,” he whispered before his eyes rolled back and he entered a world full of darkness and silence.


That was the first time I killed a man.

I sat back on my knees and looked at my hands. They were long and slender. They didn’t look like they could accomplish much, but they had started to prove me wrong.

My hand clenched in a fist- the dull blue veins struggled to pop out against my skin. My hands were calloused from the days I had held my weapon in anticipation for Lionel’s death.

Those days, if I closed my eyes, I could picture holding the hilt of the dagger between my hands. I knew I had to thrust it into Lionel’s heart, but I wasn’t ready to, and wouldn’t be for a long time.

I rubbed my hands together. They were rough, and felt grimy. I had no idea they were capable of such a horrific thing. I didn’t want to kill Lionel, but there had been no other way.

I couldn’t let his life go on. I couldn’t let him continue to love Priscilla if he was just going to repeatedly hurt her. He was going to keep running away; keep trying to be the hero. But every hero dies eventually.

My hands felt different.

For years, I had hid my hands under long sleeves. I would wear out the stitches as I constantly tugged at the sleeves, wishing they were just a little bit longer. My hands had never been anything to be proud of. They were dry and chapped; the nails were bitten down and broken; the muscles were clenched and stiff; and they always felt like ice.

But now- now my hands were different. They felt stronger- bigger even. I didn’t want to buy expensive gloves to hide them, or big rings to distract from the rough skin and broken nails. I wasn’t ashamed of my hands anymore, because I knew what they could do. These hands, these hands were my hands, and they were capable of anything. I was capable of anything.

I had a sense of pride, and an overwhelming feeling of being in control. I had control over my life- I had the power to do whatever I wanted. I had the power to change other lives too, so I made Priscilla’s life better. Even though it meant destroying Lionel.

Lionel was important to me. Lionel was my oldest…my oldest friend. I had never given that much attention to anyone. I knew him. I knew his hopes and dreams. I knew why he wanted to be the hero. And I took that away from him.

The day of Lionel’s death was difficult for me and all those around me. I drifted around my house, not really cluing in to what anyone said. I knew I wasn’t focusing. People would talk to me and I would just stare ahead, never being able to concentrate.

There was a distance that day. I was disconnected from everything. Even my body. I felt lost; like I was staggering through a forest in my dreams. Everything was hazy. I didn’t know why I was there. I felt isolated.

I thought about how easy it would be to just fix Lionel’s death.

I didn’t tell anybody right away. No one had known how much it tore me apart inside. Lionel. He wasn’t supposed to die- not yet. But the idea had entered my mind months prior, and it was impossible to push away. I saw the benefit from his death for everyone. Well, everyone except me.

My hands felt incredibly dirty at first. I kept wandering into my bathroom, hoping that time I would feel better. I remember leaning over the bathroom sink and turning on the tap. There was no blood, but I continued to




The water burned against my hands.




They were bright red. They shouldn’t be red- there was no blood! I stopped scrubbing and started clawing. Clawing and scratching at my hands, desperate to get out of my skin.

They burned like hell.

These stupid, stupid, hands were causing me so much pain. Maybe if the water was hotter….




There was blood now. I reached for the soap. My hands were numb, and I missed. I barely heard the shattering of the soap dispenser over my wailing.

“Winnie,” a voice called from the other side of the bathroom door, interrupting my endless scrubbing, “Are you alright?”

I answered. Not sure what I said, but I did answer. I had to, because I couldn’t let anyone know what had happened. Not yet. I had made a promise to keep it a secret. I didn’t say anything, not until everyone was allowed to know. Not until I had finally made headlines.

I stepped out and looked my husband in the eyes. I tried to smile.

He knew.

I knew he knew. He could see right through that smile.

He took my filthy hands in his and stared at them. He was silent; I tried to hold my breath.

“What-” he started, but I just shook my head.

“Don’t ask. You don’t- I can’t tell you, yet. Please,” I whispered.

My husband looked me in the eyes. Whatever he saw there scared him because he slowly backed away.

“Winnie,” he called over his shoulder, “I’ll listen. When you’re ready, I’ll listen.”

A few hours later he was pleading for me to come out of the bathroom again. He gave me a tea, wrapped my hands in gauze, and carried me to bed. My cries filled the house that night.

Eventually my husband would begin to recognize the signs. He would notice my constant anxiety the days before, or my bloodshot eyes from the tears that wouldn’t stop coming. And those red hands; he would always understand what the red hands meant.

He would try to stop me before I spent hours in the bathroom. He would try to stop the constant scrub,



He would recognize the signs. He would coax me out of the bathroom- call me back to reality. He would kiss my hands and gently rub lotion into them. But then, he would back away from me- just like he did the first time with Lionel. He would back away and give me my space. Eventually I would talk to him, usually a few nights later. I would confess who I had killed, and then tell him all the dirty details; how I did it, who watched, and my pen of choice.

He would listen to all of my confessions. He sat there, wide-eyed. Slightly frightened, but understanding.

“Priscilla was there. He was just about to go out for his big fight. Lionel had promised Priscilla that they would be together- she wanted to run away, but he- he lied to her. He was never going to stop fighting just for her. He loved the glory too much. I had to do it- I couldn’t keep hurting her.

“It was the weekend you were away. I locked myself in our room and planned out the entire thing for hours. Lionel couldn’t know who his murderer was- it had to be a secret.

“Oh god! I’m a terrible person! It was so hard; so hard to press the pen to the paper. That pen had granted him so much, and then it just took it all away with one stab to his heart.”

“You’re sick. Absolutely disgusting!” The voice in my head would shriek.

“You had to do it,” my husband would say.

“It was thrilling,” I would admit several days later.

That thrill never really left. It latched onto me and I haven’t been able to shake it since Lionel’s death all those years ago. There was a sort of excitement that came with obsessing over the perfect way to kill someone.

It was exhilarating.

It made me feel in control.

I remember the first time I experienced the adrenaline that came when I decided I was definitely going through with Lionel’s murder. That’s when I realized that my life had changed forever. I had disrupted the lives and stability of hundreds of people. It was exciting… and terrifying.

I would spend the weeks afterwards trying to sort out the different emotions in my head. The logical part of me would say it had to be done; that there was no way around it. The emotional part wished it didn’t have to be this way, and that I could have let him be the hero that lives. He didn’t have to go so soon. But the sick, twisted part of my brain chanted, “let’s do it again.”

And I did. To keep my career going and my image consistent, I continued to kill. At least, that’s what I told myself. If I’m honest, I killed because I liked it.

I killed Julie just for fun. Everyone had loved her, and I thought it’d be fun to shake things up again; to cause even more anger.

Adam was destined to die right from the start. From his very first word, I knew he would be dead by chapter twenty-eight.

Sometimes I would kill the heroes, like Lionel, so that others could have a chance.

Some people never accepted my kills. Others loved me for it.

Time and time again, I thought back on the first time I killed a man. Lionel. His death was tragic. I thought I had lost my mind. I didn’t think I could go through with it. I sent my editor an apology letter and a fruit basket.

Lionel was so important to me, for many reasons. He was the first person I felt truly connected to. He was the first one to demand that his story be told; he wanted everyone to know how powerful he was. He was great at everything, except loving, and for that he had to die.

I revisit his death every time I kill someone else. It’s a sort of mourning process. Misery loves company, and what’s more tragic than killing your best friend?

I remember what it was like to have the blade stab him in the heart. There was no resistance- his heart was empty. There was blood everywhere; it pooled at his feet and spilled over the pages. Priscilla screamed a few feet away. I wanted to calm her down, but I had to get the blood off my hands. They were stained. I had to scrub,


and scrub until I stopped feeling deceitful.

I ran the water to drown out Lionel’s cries.

Or was it Priscilla’s?

“It’s for your own good,” I told Priscilla after I had calmed down, “Please, your life will be better now.” Then I slammed my notebook closed to shut her up too.

I sank back on my knees. I wrote that. I described his murder. I tore her heart out.

Her life did get better. I made sure of it. I introduced her to someone who would be her hero. I made everything final, and then I waited.

Sure enough, the day after its release, a newspaper was delivered to my door. The headline read:

“Winnie Williams Isn’t Afraid to Kill! Spoilers Ahead!”


My Hands2020-01-08T17:36:51-05:00

I Don’t Fear The Darkness

I Don’t Fear The Darkness

By Shahad Kashmiri

The dark does not scare me, no. . .

Nor do the shadows at the corners of this room…

It’s the daylight I fear…

It reveals all that is far, and all that is near…

It brings to sight everything, even what we hold dear…

This is the ship I steer,

and all the demons I fear…

They don’t belong in the dark,

they belong in here,

where the light shines brightest…

We cast our gaze aside,

too afraid of what we don’t see, than what’s in the light…

Nothing from what I cannot see can harm me,

not as much as what lights up the room…

What possibly seems to fool us is that bright light we see,

it is nothing but a fire…

Eating away our sanity…

Using the fuel of our fear to light the flames higher…



It goes up to the sky,

it soars…

That bright seductive light that we flock to like sheep…

There’s no darkness I fear,

as much as this sanity of mine aflame,

There is no darkness I fear…


Who is to blame?

For a moment of solace from all the light that’s driving me insane…

Where is the solace?

The sanctuary in this game?

I Don’t Fear The Darkness2020-01-08T17:26:30-05:00

Understand Me

Understand Me

By Eunice Adubea Owusu Amoah

Was he dead?

Or was he alive?

His skin felt warm and flushed all over.

Was he dying?

Or was he still in love?

Something warm and sticky was in his hand.


His? Hers?

A face appeared before him.

Someone screaming his name.

Or maybe just screaming.

Screeches of fear. Or pain. Or surprise.

Was it her?

Was she beside him?

Screaming for him to stay alive?

Or screaming at him to just die?

He didn’t deserve to die, he thought.

She was the one who broke him.

He thought of the day they met.

“Boo,” she whispered.

He quickly spun around to face her.

His chin brushed against her short, wet, spiky hair.

He looked down at her and she looked up at him.

Two complete strangers who had fatefully met in a cemetery on a rainy night.


There was an ambulance.

His thoughts begged for the siren to be shut.

He was trying to remember.

What had she been wearing?

Had she smiled?


She’d laughed though. Yes she’d-

The siren. The stupid siren. Too fucking loud.

She’d laughed. He’d stared at her in that beautiful moment, unable to pull himself from her allure….




“I can make you smile.” “Hi.” “Do you have an umbrella?” “Smile.” “Could you hear me crying?” “it was nice to meet y”-



Did they not understand?

He simply wanted to live one last time in this moment of death.

The ambulance got closer. He closed his eyes.

When he opened his eyes again, they were lifting him up in a gurney. He could faintly hear her talking with the paramedic.

“Are you his guardian?” the paramedic hastily asked.

“No,” she stuttered out. “I don’t know him. I think it was a hit and run.”

“I don’t know him.”

He closed his eyes.

“I don’t know him.”

Behind his eyelids, he saw her smiling face through the car headlights.

“I don’t know him.”

He released his last breath.

At least he’d made her smile one last time.

Understand Me2020-01-08T17:27:27-05:00

Here lies Gaia

Here Lies Gaia

By Cyrus Fiori

The breeze blows by, caressing

ashes of yesteryear,

Witches’ brooms

could fan these fumes

from coast to coast to coast,

As cold hands

dredged the topsoil,

she pushed up daisies

to fly in our faces,

Surrender should

suffice as serendipity

instead she succumbed to

sempiternal senescence,

Irked, she cried

“Out, damned spot!”

But to Gaia’s dismay,

we were wearing sheep’s


One wolf with

feet never grounded,

smoked cigarettes the size of houses,

with seven billion mouths to nosh

our mothers’ children,

and two trillion teeth to grind

her bones

And so,

the big bad wolf ate

the world.


as the saying goes;

“the world is not


And while her sisters slept soundly

in their starry blanket

the cold hands reached

for them.

Here lies Gaia2020-01-08T17:28:25-05:00

 Reign of Terror

Reign of Terror

By Shubhangi Raj

The night has entered its deepest sights,

Uncanny, lost, amidst the brightest lights.

Tis the time to shake the hidden world,

Let it take its form – idefinite, absurd.

Lifeless trees and morose greenery,

Grim-trim liquids, glum scenery,

Still. Quiet. Awaiting the command!

To rip off every colour, every breath apart.

Rise thou you.. the lord of black!

The world is chanting for you to come back.

The thrown is ready for you to adorn,

For the world is no longer a place of souls!

Rain upon them your catastrophic devastation..!!

It’s time for the cynical seeds to be sown.

With this full moon, the prophecy comes alive,

Mightier gets the terror, weaker gets the light.

Old scars and wounds will be seen again,

Pain they will, as dey did; Insane

It shall be your world tonight,

Your rules and your moves until daylight.

Rise thou you.. the lord of black!

The world is chanting for you to come back.

 Reign of Terror2020-01-08T17:29:24-05:00



By Jessica Van de Kemp

As we speak, the veil is lifting

between worlds. Spirits are coming in

contact with us like prank calls

from a fake friend. The night

is sleeping with one eye open,

winking at thousands of crows:

the black veil worn by nuns

in marriage. A candle is slipping out

of the jack-o’-lantern’s mouth,

as if from a vending machine,

white, warm, flying

sugar, can you give me my skull?

And the dream of your teeth

falling out comes true.

Note: A calavera is a sugar skull gifted to children on the Day of the Dead


Step One

Step One

By Alexandra Tranc

I don’t think homesickness is just missing home.

Homesickness is feeling imprisoned in the most glorified places: places that spoonfeed you unnecessary amounts of hope…for success, growth, prosperity. But, hope can easily mean you’re emptyhanded.

And then you feel guilty for feeling all these feelings and you start believing you’re unthankful and unambitious, but you’re counting your wages and you feel like you’ve got nothing but loneliness and failure and wasted opportunities and you don’t know where to go to no longer feel like that.

But then,

something happens, and you realize homesickness is


a feeling:

Like anger and discomfort and excitement and jealousy and exhaustion and stress…

Feelings that are temporal and spin a few lies now and again.

Realizing that is the first step.

I don’t know what’s the next…

Step One2020-01-08T17:37:42-05:00

A Spoken Word

A Spoken Word

by Muhammad Zaid Bin Amer

My name is Muhammad Zaid Bin Amer. You may have heard of me
And to be quite frank I’m not always 100% sure I’m spelling Muhammad right.
Is it M u, M o, I don’t know- it’s confusing.
I was born on June 21st 1999, in some ghetto army base within Peshawar, a small city in Pakistan.
This is widely been regarded as a terrible idea
Now see the reason I wasn’t born in a regular hospital
is that we were on the way to the airport, leaving Pakistan as refugees because of some bad business my parents have never went into
because they just love keeping secrets
This just goes to show, people wanted me dead even before I was born
I’m often terrible at staying quiet, being loud and shattering the solid silence, I mean what can I say
I was born sleeping and have been messed up ever since
I like coca-cola
I go to The University of Waterloo
I’m in first year and I still don’t have my drivers license
And for as long as I can remember I’ve loved cheap food… and bad jokes
I’m not exactly religious;
My faith in god died when my preacher preached peace and love
but he raised fists and seethed with a deadly glare in his eyes,
Speaking a story that needed no words
after taking care of my ill mother and seeing her smile with pure love
I realised that we don’t need to die to get to heaven.
I’m around 6 feet tall.
On a really good day.
I believe there are two types of people in the world. People who don’t bend the corners of their pages in books
and monsters.
I was a kid, back in 2006, age 7
When I discovered this thing called reading, you may have heard of it
And how it could make the world come alive
How I could be sitting in my bedroom, my legs crossed, face furrowed, and my lips spread in a thin crease with a small sliver of my tongue sticking out
But also how I could be a thousand miles away sailing the stormy sea, waves taller than towers
Rising and crashing sweeping me under without so much as a shout
How I could be sitting on the dinner table, eating with one hand book in another
But be alongside harry as he returns for the summer
All it took was a couple of words skillfully strung together into a couple of short sentences, neatly wrapped and tied into a paragraph.
I was a kid, back in 2006, age 7
When I discovered that apparently these false realities were not okay
And it was the first time I was called gay.
See I didn’t understand, a word that when googled means “lighthearted and carefree”
But when that word and others were spit out like something nasty caught in their mouths
it took those feelings out of me
I was a kid in 2009, age 10
When I made my first friend
He looked at me and rather seeing the weirdo who’d rather stay in than go out
The kid who’d rather have his nose between a book than in the fresh air on the swings and the slide
He saw a friend
I was a kid in 2009, age 10
When I learnt of compassion and kindness
I’ve fallen in love
And when in love wars being waged over women doesn’t sound so stupid anymore
And suddenly the radio made sense
It is as if every love song had been recorded in an effort to explain how I felt about you
I’ve had my heart broken
And yeah, sticks and stones may break my bones
But i’d rather have broken bones than a broken heart
Because bones generally have a nice clean sharp break
Whereas your heart doesn’t just snap
it tears, ripping along your fault lines, leaving you in bits and pieces
I’ve been raised by my parents “good guy”
But I have a pair knuckles swollen with the thought of red hot anger and brick
But I realized the only thing that smashing holes in cheap drywall breaks
Is my mother’s heart

I have a heart that’s swollen similar to my fist
It got that way from beating myself up over all the things I can’t fix
You see
I’m clumsy
Just yesterday I tripped in front of my mirror
And shattered my self esteem
And now I’m unable to look at my own reflection
And I have this, this thing that’s called depression that’s been eating me alive
Leaving me like a Russian nesting doll,
the memories of who I once was inside my hollowed out chest
And I struggle to convince my shadow that there’s value in standing behind me

Despite all this I know
I know I have the power to crush mountains and split the sea
because I have all the words
The words that want to spill out of me like a waterfall
wearing away at the mountains of prejudice and hate
Spilling truth into a sea of misconceptions
I know that music is the language of the soul and I’ve got big booming bass inside of me beating akin to my heart telling everyone I am still here, I am still alive
I’ve got a smile that can bridge canyons and a laugh that can translated into any language
I’ve got charisma equated to a simple formula
but have less confidence than an ignorant idiot
and I’m still struggling to fill the hole in my heart called happiness

my name is Muhammad Zaid Amer
Sometimes I’m still that grade 9 kid.
The kid whose stomach folds like intricate origami as the girl he loves walks by
And I don’t read as much as I’d like to
But I’ll always be a Potterhead at heart
And if you ask me after all this time?
I will say always

My name is Muhammad Zaid
My hobbies include laughing at absolutely everything and nothing at all, talking to myself and pretending everything’s okay
Hey, my name is Zaid

A Spoken Word2020-01-08T17:35:50-05:00



by Varun Batta

There are many ways to arrive
Whether plane, train, boat, or car
Always a journey you will never forget
Truly redefining who you are

Many different reasons one has
To explore, to learn and to grow
Truly a once in a lifetime experience
No matter the reason you may go

Making friends from all over the world
Learning about cultures that differ
Friends that will be yours for a lifetime
Distance between cut down to just a sliver

A time that is filled with plenty of merriment
Moments that you want never to end
And yet eventually you find yourself leaving
Wishing very much that this could extend

Departing is not just leaving the country
But forever ending a part of your life
Going back to the land you left
Cutting away everything with a knife

Forever you will remember this time
And reminisce about this time estranged
Never will you regret it, for it is truly
A wonderful time and experience, your exchange



Wuv (Love∞)

by Varun Batta

The constant exchange of messages,
An endless list of “To:” and “From:”
Only one name can fill that place
And allow a rush of emotions to come

You always lead to complete excitement
I get eager to see what next you will say
Opening it up, a touch of angst fills my heart
Reading it though, you push all that away

Yearning for a real connection,
I searched and somehow found you
Ever since, my heart and mind drive me
To show you that dreams do come true

You bring a fire to my soul,
I gain power by just the thought
Of you and I being truly together
That is what I truly sought

Passion enflamed, urges fulfilled
By someone special, someone like you
Worries calmed, angst subsided
At the moment we met and it was true

You lead to feelings remarkably strong
I think I cannot express with just love
My true desire is love of an infinite strength
I know! What I feel is what I call wuv

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