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Consider a time when you were mistaken. You misjudged someone, or you wore someone else’s coat home from a gathering. Now, imagine a photograph of your mistake. This isn’t the person you misjudged or the coat you wore instead of your own. This is a photograph that was never taken which would have captured the moment you realized your mistake had it been taken. Write a ten-minute description of this photograph that’s never been taken. You aren’t in the photograph, but at least seven ‘things’ are in it. There could be a car, or a tree, or a bottle, or an earring. Quick! Look around you, or just brainstorm. Write down the seven things that you will  have to describe, in as much sensory detail as possible, that you will find in this non-existent photograph taken at the moment you realized your mistake.

Frenzied thoughts about a pen
By Renée Szostek

I thought that you had stolen my pen. I remembered
that I had left it on the table in the library, next to
my stack of books.

I acknowledged that, admittedly, it was merely a pen,
and I could always buy myself another one, except that I couldn’t
because this pen was a gift from my mother. I could purchase
another pen exactly like it, but it wouldn’t be the same one.

I liked the pen’s sleek elegance, its cool metallic feel. I remembered how,
when it was hot outside, I pressed the pen against my face to cool myself,
although this worked only for a little while, until the pen became as warm as I.
I liked how the pen felt in my hand as I wrote.

I left my stack of books, my backpack, and my pen just for a little while,
to get a drink of water from the fountain, to stretch my legs, and to use the bathroom.
When I returned my pen was gone.

Suddenly, I was transported in my mind back to elementary school, where
my classmates stole nearly everything they could from me: pens, pencils, markers,
my lunchbox, and even my mittens in the winter. I had to have my name on everything,
and still they stole my things. (This was an affluent suburban school, too, not an impoverished
inner-city one.)

I remembered that, sometimes, even when my classmates came over to play with me, my toys
or, more often, pieces of my toys would disappear. Accessories from my Barbie dolls, pieces from games were gone. When I asked, no one had taken anything.

The top of the table must have been recently polished, it was so smooth. I thought the pen
could have rolled off the table, but I searched on the floor, and it wasn’t there.

I looked around my stack of books. Some of them were my textbooks which I had purchased for my classes, while others were books I had checked out from the library. I thought that the pen might have been tucked under one of the books, or that I had left it in one of the books to mark my place,
although this is something which I never do.

I glanced up, and saw the librarian’s desk, and noticed that a single flower rested
in a small vase. I observed the dewy softness of the petals, and wondered if I should walk over
and touch them, but, of course, I didn’t because sometimes I have allergies. The vase was
half-filled with water, and I wondered how often the librarian replenished the flower’s
water supply. Did anyone fill the vase on the weekend?

I looked over at you, sitting at the same long table but further down from me. You didn’t
say anything, but I felt that you had a supercilious air, and wouldn’t condescend to speak to me.

Then, you wrote something down, and I noticed that you were using my pen! My pen! I wanted to say something, but I knew that I wouldn’t, just like always. I noticed the stripes the pen had, and how it reflected the light as you wrote with it.

While I was considering what to say to you, and how to say it, you packed up everything in your
backpack and left in a tremendous hurry. I concluded that you were probably late for class. You also didn’t want me to ask you about your stealing my pen. I was livid.

I reached into my backpack for another pen. My backpack differed from most of the backpacks on campus in that it opened at the top, while others opened on the side. Still, a woman who lived in my residence hall exclaimed that she liked it. She said that it appeared to be a very good quality backpack, and she thought it had a pretty color. Others agreed with her. I didn’t like the backpacks which opened on the side because sometimes things would fall out when the backpacks were unzipped.

Reaching in to my backpack, I grabbed a pen. It was the one I thought you stole from me. I was overwhelmed with a feeling of relief. I sighed, exhaling most of the tension and anxiety which I had been experiencing. For perhaps the first time in my life, I was so glad that I didn’t say anything.

The Blame
By Jodi Ann Korte

It’s that floor-stand mirror over there, catching the could have been’s
The reflections behind, the street and sidewalk park below
Certain, not looking at the real thing
Because the monochrome is miles-away clearer.
Somewhere between white and black,
grey and gray are really the same, pretention or pretending
Unreal, personified, abused cars and lenient lampposts
Both need straightening out, support is supposed to be support
Tired headlights held together by the rust of retained tears
Carrying on condensed, shining – near useless fog on fog
The weather is warming up to the truth
Trees are still bare, on the verge of embracing the sky
always dealing with leaving, coming and going
falling off and adding on,
it seemed like any other argument, except for the loss of reason
When the good guy got fed up, fought for principle, propriety
Please up-right, please don’t comply, this is not normal behavior
Stand-up for yourself, stand-up for the effort made for you, I cared
Spite, she threw it away, or so she said. Seems to have kept it hidden instead,
Cruelly announced as un-retrievable, to hurt him because he was loved
Unmerciful, relentless, misjudgement of the depths evil narcissism is
Like traffic lights in black and white, signals are significant unreadable signs,
Oh, how, the conversion seemed noble, if you didn’t know
Even more of a liar after the fact, what was withheld, braggartly reported
As self-saving religious conversion, the worst, dishonestly confessed for sympathy
on a flimsy note of flattery, handwritten and entirely false, imaginary
Smoking flowers whispering like the telephone game,
Only might be known by the colors of their shape
Loudly announcing the dead corner phone to people passing by
A dangling receiver, like the dangling conversation,
An unreturned call can no longer be made, the missed opportunity never replaced
From the broken arms of the cradle, to the broken cradle of arms, folded across
The face, at the end of combined caring, when it was all gone, decided
To leave behind 200% blame
100% him, 50% her, 50% me,
Calculated, counted and assigned as extraordinary shame
It simply does not matter now, intertwined immersion, past pride.
It might be sunny, there’s no heart to gauge.
No telling if it will it ever be ok to turn around,
Stuck; rewinding, rewinding, rewinding rear-view reels
That mirror plays stable, rain spatter, or maybe etched away pain
Call it what you will, still mostly constant silver sheeting
Burdensome remain, at least something still shines.

My Car, Not My Car
By Logan Corey

No, sorry, it’s
the lighting
the gravel dust
the mayo-smeared headlights
the bald eagle tires
the exhaustible breeze
the paint job
the body
No, it looks just like me,
but i swear it isn’t mine

A Photo of Hugging my Mother
By S. Atticus O.

There’s a photo in my mother’s house, framed and everything, highlighting the moment I
hugged my mother in a notebook shop. The background is faded, but all of the cellophane
wrapped notebooks in the image - reds, blues, yellows, blacks - shine in a dark halo around the
scene. The photo stands front and center on the book shelf above the Crate and Barrel plates and
the New Mexican wine glasses she kept in the divorce. A retablo of sorts, for praying the
moment away, never to happen again, and to have the moment after it was taken remain eternal.
In the middle of the frame, the saint, a bright purple sweater, spitting image of my mother’s - of
course it’s her’s - inhales, silent, shocked. Who else is in Black Ink in Harvard Square at 3pm on
a summer Tuesday right where my mother told my 12 year old self to meet her? The cashier’s
eyes, waiting in dulled green shock for me to let go, pop from their grainy face. $3 in my palm, at
the end of an arm wrapped around the saint. Must of a sweaty boy - smell wafts from the ink.
“Hey Mama” - hear it resonate through the glass. The moment I realize, I release the mother
who is not my mother. The moment I recoil, I repeal my warm hug and cold sweat apologize.
The moment I see my real mother walk in the door, I reseal with her, closer than I had in years,
perhaps since the hospital bed at Presbyterian over 20 years ago. So my mother keeps this
retablo front and center, framed and everything, to remind her of praying for and with closest
hugs when I am far away.