Funny Ha Ha: The High School Humor Writing Challenge - Text Entries

Funny Ha Ha: The High School Humor Writing Challenge

We’re looking for great humor writing from high school students, and at the end of the summer, writer and actor BJ Novak will name a winner on our show. Here’s the catch — your piece must begin and end with these sentences:

FIRST LINE: The sun rose and everything fell.
LAST LINE: Alex stared at the door handle and slowly turned the knob.

UPDATE 8/27: Our winner is Emma Callahan; the runner-up is Dylan Kapstrom. A big thank you to everyone who shared their work with us!

July 08, 2015 05:07:06 PM





The sun rose and everything fell. There was crowns and swords and presealed art books. Alex tried to sit up before realizing his pants had fallen down. Besides that, there were more challenges ahead, like the long trek across the room to the exit door. He only got about three feet before tripping over a mint-edition plush Johnny action figure. His brain muscles bulged as he sat irritated and grumpy on the floor.
His visitor from the night before had caused this mess. "That's the last time I'll bring a stranger home, even if she was attractive and knew all the names of every main cast member in Star Trek: The Next Generation," he thought.
The night had gone well until she asked to see his ultra-rare factory-sealed copy of Dungeon Master: The Fate of Tarkis. He never showed that to anyone, not even an attractive female who was semi-interested in him. She had gotten upset and ran to the bathroom. "The bathroom!" Alex thought. He arrived there and saw the surly vixen's first act of anger: she had overflown the toilet and flooded the room with three inches of water. Alex had been asleep during this.
That's when the revenge plot really got going. She had tied him up to the bed with his collection of the actual rope used in episode two of Star Force. Then, she hung everything up, everything he loved, up on the ceiling and stole his prized possession. Then she left, or, Alex hoped she had left.
He soon heard screaming from upstairs; his mother was in hysterics. "What had she done?" Alex thought. He approached the exit to the room with apprehension. Alex stared at the door handle and slowly turned the knob.

July 08, 2015 03:23:40 PM





The sun rose and everything fell. Everything seemed to be falling but Alex is the only thing actually that fell. Out of his bed. It was like when you learned to ride a bike and just took the training wheels off. You were hopeful and ready, about to ride a bike for the first time. However your dreams were dashed when you fell off as quickly as you got on, and managed to brake your wrist. That was the type of fall Alex just had (minus the broken wrist). He knew this is what his whole day would be like. He slowly got up so he could begin this day. Although only ten seconds had passed since he'd woken up he was ready to go to bed, but he also wanted food, and decided instead to go for that. But first he had to brush his teeth. He went to the bathroom right off his room and put some toothpaste on his brush. He put the toothbrush with the paste on it under a little running water and what do ya know, the toothpaste falls off. It thuds against the side of the sink and sits there, mocking him. He sighs, heavily, but continues on and does the same routine again and the toothpaste stays on. This was the first thing thats gone right for Alex all day. He finishes brushing, spits into the sink and wipes off his face. He goes to put the brush away but he misses. It skims the side of the cup falls off the counter with a 'plop'. Yes, he defiantly heard a 'plop'. He looks over the counter and there's his toothbrush floating in the toilet like a dead fish. Right now Alex is feeling how BJ Novak must have felt when he dyed his hair blond, sh*tty. He decides to flush it. He remembers he needs deodorant, but there doesn't seem to be any in sight, so he lets it go. Before leaving the bathroom he caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror. Imagine if Gollum from Lord of the Rings had a love child with the grown up version of the kid from the Home alone series. Thats what he looked like. He didn't even know where to start, so he didn't and left the bathroom. Since he looked horrible he thought he should dress nicely. Unfortunately Alex does not have the best fashion sense and throws on something resembling that of which an Alcatraz prisoner might be forced to wear. At this point everything about Alex is going south, his appearance, attitude and hygiene are all awful and nothing has gone his way. However he's going to have to leave his room at some point, so why not now. Alex stared at the door handle and slowly turned the knob.

July 08, 2015 02:42:12 PM





The sun rose and everything fell. That faithful day down at Barney's Bar a man called Stump and his gambling friends gathered around the poker table preparing for their typical Friday night. Breathing in his puff of tobacco, Stump's eyes grew glassy as the nicotine settled in his capillaries. His eyelids grew heavy, closing halfway as he hit a temporary high. Stump gave his fellow men around the makeshift poker table crooked smile. Alex across from him smiled back but with a hint of hesitance. Then each man laid their cards down. One man, the one to the left, gasped. Another, the one to the right, simply shrugged. And the young man on the opposite side of Stump narrowed his eyes in suspicion.
"Congrats Stump," Groaned the man who shrugged as he began to empty his wallet to the point of it being bare. He then gazed through the rising smoke from Stump's cigarette and whispered in a low voice, "Hey Stump, mind if I keep a dollar or two, you know, for my fare home?"
"Sure," Stump replied.
"I'll pay you back, you know, next time?"
"Nah," Stump said with a wink, "Don't worry about it, Jack."
"Ha-ha," Dave laughed aloud, "Looks like Stump had the upper hand!"
The group of friends shook their heads disapprovingly. Though it was true that Stump was missing a hand, which he had lost back in the war due to bomb shrapnel, it wasn't necessary to bring up that sensitive topic.
Jack kept a couple dollar bills and bid his goodbyes, so that he could catch the late bus. Then Dave, the man who gasped, was invited to a bit of small talk with Stump before excusing himself from the table to get another drink. Afterwards, when he suspected that no one was really watching him, Stump snuck sticking a piece of briefly chewed gum to the bottom of the table, but Alex, the young man, across for him happened to notice. And without saying a single word, Stump winked at him before joining Dave and the bartender at the counter.
Naturally, Alex grew curious. He was well aware that Stump was down here at the bar almost every night excluding Sunday. If he placed gum beneath the table every night, the thing must be covered the disgusting mixture of Stump's saliva and sweet sugar. The man rested his hand upon the table and exerted his weight in order to glance under the table. Unsurprisingly, he was correct, the thing was covered with gunk, but he didn't expect to see was that the wads of chewed gunk were serving a purpose. With the exception of the freshest one, they each held a playing card.
The same four men from the previous morning took the same seats around the same makeshift poker table. Each intently focused on their current hand, though there was the occasional pair wandering of eyes to the neighboring players face to examine their expressions. Dave and Jack simply stared each other down for a good minute or two. Stump leaned back slightly in his seat as his hand disappeared under the table. Alex him gave a dirty look. When Stump's attention came back to the game he noticed Alex's glare and chuckled.
"You younglings," he said with a smile, "always taking things to seriously."
Alex remained unfazed in his glower. Stump shifted uncomfortably with both his torso and his eyes. Something was most definitely off, but he couldn't put a finger on what it was exactly. With the game coming to a close, the players prepared to lay down their cards. Suddenly, a fist slammed the table.
"Damn it!"
Everyone's attention turned to Alex whose face was full of an odd irked emotion. A vein bulged from under the facial skin of his forehead. His face trembling. Not with fear, but with rage. Jack scooted his chair away from the table, weary of what would happen next. Dave took out his cell phone, expecting a sudden outburst of violence between the drunk and the mad.
"I can't take it anymore!" Alex hollered causing the whole bar to some to an awkward silence as a few of the people's eyes fell upon the poker table.
"Take what, exactly?" Jack asked.
"Stump!" He cried, "He's been cheating the whole time!"
The onlookers gasped at the rising drama as their eyes turned to the accused. Stump shrugged his shoulders and slowly shook his head. A voice in the back suddenly demanded for a fight, and eventually the whole bar joined in.
"Fight! Fight! Fight!"
Alex rolled up his sleeves before rising from his seat. Stump sank in his. There was no way he could take on a twenty year old at the age of fifty. He looked up at Alex, his eyes attempting to conceal his fear. Alex cracked his knuckles. Stump readied himself for a fatal blow as he closed his eyes and silently recited the Lord's prayer.
There was a sudden bang, but Stump felt no impact. One by one he opened his eyes to see what was going on. Alex laid passed out on the floor. Jack stood over him holding a compressed folding chair loosely in his grasp, his eyes panicked and petrified.
"Now would be a good time to run," Dave noted.
Without saying a single word, Stump took his advice.
Stump was halfway across the parking lot when he heard a door slam. His eyes widened as he turned his head toward the source of the sound. Alex stumbled out of the bar's doorway and cried out for the man who had wronged him.
"Stump!" He said, "Fight me you coward!"
The crowd of onlookers gathered around in a circle enclosing on Stump and Alex. Stump tried to fight his way out of the trap, but no one would let his through. They were too thirsty for blood. Alex limped his way toward Stump and swung a punch. The blow hit Stump right in the eye. He tired to evade the next attack, but Stump tumbled to the ground when he was struck in the knee.
"Is that all you got?" Alex asked with a laugh and smirk, "I thought you were Vietnam Veteran or something."
Disoriented and lying flat on the cold hard ground, Stump rolled over and managed to evade Alex's body slam. Alex fell right on his face beside Stump and growled. The old man scooted away, but Alex grabbed Stump's collar and pulled him back. Stump struggled to get away, but did not prevail. Alex then began to strangle him, but not for long. Stump bit his arm and quickly wobbled to his feet. Alex stared him down and asked the question.
"Why'd you do it, Stump?"
Stump avoided all eye contact and stared down at the pavement. He shifted uncomfortably as if struggling to reply.
"I-I" Stump stuttered, "I just n-need the cash..."
"Who doesn't, old man?"
"For my wife, you see, she's slowly dying and..."
The crowed grew silent as a wave of pity came from each of their hearts. Alex gazed down at his bloodied hands as Stump rubbed this throbbing black eye.
"I'm sorry to hear that, Stump. " Alex said, cutting him off, "You could've just asked for a few bucks or so, I would've been happy to help.
"I don't take charity."
And with that the crowed opened up and Stump was allowed to pass. However, Dave followed him. His eyes staring him down skeptically as he called for his pal.
"Stump," He said, "What you said back there... "
"I don't ever remember you getting married..."
From a distance, Alex heard their words before returning to the bar. He stood inside for a moment, seemingly processing this critical piece of information. Again, he rolled up his sleeves as the crowd that had followed him in grew lively with excitement and cheered:
"Fight! Fight! Fight!"
Alex stared at the door handle and slowly turned the knob.

July 08, 2015 12:03:32 AM





The sun rose and everything fell. It was 9 o’clock on a Friday evening and Alex had a date. Not that this was a big deal or anything, Alex had a lot of dates. This was a little out of the ordinary though, being that Alex had met her online. He didn’t trust Tinder, nor did he have the strength to be shut down by attractive females in the area after his pickup lines were torn apart with reviews varying from “disgusting” to “You’re*”, so he used There were no profile pictures, just user names, so vapebro69 was in business. He had started chatting back and forth with hotmamixoxo about 2 weeks ago and things had gotten steamy. They had exchanged pictures, not of their faces, and he certainly liked what he saw. She said she was a few years older than him, but Alex didn’t mind. They planned to meet at the club downtown, have a few drinks, and then head back to his place. Alex got dressed in his button-down and khakis, excited to meet the sexy stranger in person.

vapebro69: OMW, can’t wait to meet you hottie ;)
hotmamixoxo: you too sugar ;) ready for some cardio tonight?

“Funny,” he said, “Mom always calls me sugar.” Must be an older woman thing, he thought to himself.

vapebro69: all night long ;)

He pulled into the club, a little nervous since he hadn’t been with a girl in a while.

hotmamixoxo: meet me in the VIP room, I rented it for us ;)

“Holy shit!!” Alex hated the awkward morning-after game he had to play with girls in order to get them to leave, subtly hinting he had “a doctor appointment in 15 minutes” and “an aunt who was recently ran over by a semi”. This way he could meet her, hook up with her, and go back to his place free and independent. As he approached the VIP room door and knocked twice.
“Come in, sugar.”
Weird.. that voice sounded oddly familiar. Too familiar. Suddenly all the pieces of the puzzle started to fit, and Alex had a feeling no son should ever have to experience in his life. Hotmami had said she was recently single; similarly, Alex’s parents had just wrapped up the loose ends of their divorce. Hotmami worked as a nurse; Alex’s mom was a nurse anesthetist. And now that he’d come to think of it, he did see a red car parked outside just like hers.
“Oh my f*cking god… I sent nudes to my mom..
“Well sugar, are you gonna stay out there all night, or are gonna come in and have some fun? I promise I won’t bite, unless you want me to.”
After booking an appointment with a top psychologist, Alex stared at the door handle and slowly turned the knob.

July 07, 2015 07:23:44 PM





The sun rose and everything fell. Alex knew this was going to happen; his mother had been right, right all along. He knew that now. But it was too late. Here his mother was, staring at him with her eyes full of accusation and hurt. Pointing with her hand, insisting with her body language that he consent with her and reveal his fault. Alex took a deep breath and turned around, facing the door behind him. He didn't want to do it, but he had to. He must. Alex stared at the door handle and...
But we're getting ahead of ourselves here. We have to start over at the beginning and tell the whole story, so you can understand what we're getting at here.
Alex was your average kid. You know: he went to school, did homework, watched TV, hung out with friends. He made average grades, wasn't popular or unpopular at school, and had a fairly normal household. But one day, everything fell; literally.
You see, Alex's mom wanted him to clean his room. Simple task, right? Wrong! Alex was genuinely surprised when he went into his room and couldn't even see the floor. How in the world had his room gotten to be such a wreck? He hadn't ever noticed it. Maybe his mom was right in getting him to clean a little bit. So, Alex started doing little things here and there: picking up the dirty clothes and throwing them into the hamper, picking up the clean ones and putting them into the dresser, shuffling his toys around with his feet. But pretty soon, Alex had a problem. He began stuffing the clothes in the dresser, mashing the dirty ones in the hamper while grunting, "Come on! You WILL fit!" The toys didn't seem to have room anywhere: in the toy chest, on the dresser, under the bed. Finally, Alex was forced to admit defeat, and grabbing anything and everything left on the floor, he tossed them in the closet and slammed the door shut before they could all come tumbling out again. Pleased with his handy work, Alex then proceeded to go downstairs, plop on the couch, and turn on his favorite show. It probably would have ended there if his mom hadn't remembered her request. "Alex!" she called from the top of the stairs. "Did you clean your room?" Alex jumped up from the couch and then ran up the stairs. He knew what his mom would do: a thorough survey of his entire room. He somehow had to keep her from looking in the closet.
When Alex walked in his room, he saw his mom already looking around with a critical eye. As casually as he could, Alex walked over to the closet, and then leaned his back against the door as nonchalantly as he could manage. His mom continued to walk around the room, seemingly pleased with the result. "Wow, Alex," she said, turning to him with a look of approval, "you actually cleaned up pretty well. I mean, even under your bed..." she paused when she noticed Alex's quick, almost distinguishable glance towards the article in question. "You did not!" his mom protested, the approval slipping into disapproval. She walked over to his bed and, lifting the cover, took a peek under it. The result made her gasp and Alex wince. "Alex Hannibal Abbadelli!" she cried, swinging around on her heel dramatically. "You ought to know better than this!" her voice came out in a hiss. "Is anything else like this in your room?" she demanded. Alex involuntarily shifted on the closet door, drawing his mom's eye instantly. Her eyes widened in realization. "Oh, Alex," she murmured, "why? You know better than that. Move aside and open that door." Shame filled him. Alex knew this was going to happen; his mother had been right, right all along. He knew that now. But it was too late. Here his mother was, staring at him with her eyes full of accusation and hurt. Pointing with her hand, insisting with her body language that he consent with her and reveal his fault. Alex took a deep breath and turned around, facing the door behind him. He didn't want to do it, but he had to. He must. Alex stared at the door handle and slowly turned the knob.

July 07, 2015 01:35:44 AM





Groaning Over Spilled Milk

The sun rose and everything fell. Alright, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. I spilled my bowl of cereal and milk, but still. I mean what kind of 15-year-old has the energy to clean up a spill AND repour their breakfast into a bowl at 4 AM. I barely had the energy to wake up in the first place. Even my younger sister, Alex, could only let out a small groan as opposed to her usual shrieks as the spilled milk reached her thin, pale arms. My mother herself was leaning on the fridge, half-asleep, with her golden locks in a poufy mess. I got up with a groan. My sister gave me a disgusted look and groaned at my groan. My father groaned at her groan, and my mother groaned as she realized that she would eventually have to give up her love affair with the fridge. We were such zombies. None of us had ever gotten up earlier than 7 AM.
Within twenty minutes my father somehow managed to shuffle us on out of the house in our vermillion red, little compact car. We were the only people driving at that hour. No let me correct that. We were the only people up at that hour. Yes, sure, there was the drunk man over there screaming about the world’s end, but he’d eventually collapse on a rock and go back to sleep. We, however, had a long day ahead of us.
You see, three weeks ago my father had been fired from his job as a fireman (ironic to you, yes. Humorous to us, no) because of a budget cut that had created a need to reduce the amount of people working in the department. My father did all that he could to find another occupation, but it seemed like nobody was hiring. We definitely couldn’t afford our house relying solely on my mother’s salary as a florist. The solution, of course, to this dilemma was to leave nice, suburban Long Island and move to the city to live in some unsanitary, cramped apartment. My parents felt like this was the best option since we could now live in a cheaper, more affordable home, while also being around an area where my dad would have an easier time finding a job. But get this. I would be sharing a room with my sister. Wonderful. Absolutely wonderful. There’s nothing more delightful to the ears of a 15-year-old boy than to hear he would be spending the next few years of his life sharing the same room with an annoying little 9-year-old brat. You may as well lock me up in prison with a bunch of dangerous, deranged criminals. At least their methods of internally driving me insane wouldn’t involve screaming at me to play Barbies or yelling at me to put on a dress and be Princess Bethany the Wondrous.
By five thirty we had arrived in a bleak, dirty street lined with rows of old apartments, so short that you wouldn’t believe the great city of skyscrapers had produced these at one point. The building we were to live in was only five stories, and it was painted a dull grey color. There was no elevator, and (lucky us) our home was on the fifth floor. We all groaned unanimously. My dad opened up the car trunk and shoved some luggage into each of our hands. The moving men would gradually bring the rest of our larger belongings from our old home to here over the course of the upcoming week. Alex, of course, was the only one exempt from carrying luggage and she gave me a smug little look about it. I gave her a little kick in response, and of course my dad noticed so he threw another bag on top of the two I was already carrying. I (as you probably predicted) groaned. Alex seemed to harness the energy of the world from that small triumph and skipped merrily to the fifth floor. It took the rest of us a good 15 minutes to lug ourselves and the hefts we were carrying up the five flights. By the time I reached the top floor I was more sweat than flesh. My hair (which I had somehow actually managed the energy this morning to style into some sort of slicked-back, pompadour) had popped back out into my crazy mane.
“Ahahahahaha! And you’re the captain of the soccer team?” My sister laughed, bending over and gripping her stomach in response to the sight of me dripping in a pool of sweat.
“Cut-it, or I swear to god the next tour Virgil will give of the Inferno will be in our room,” I growled between clenched teeth. She didn’t have to get any of that to realize I was threatening her with pure fury. She quickly straightened herself up and looked at the door instead. It was chipped and all splintery, and on it was a small, little, teeny, tiny spider, barely the size of half her pinky nail. No wait, I have a better analogy: barely the size of her brain. Alex gave a little screech and backed away.
“Hey Alex… could you grab the key… from my… pocket and open the… door please?” My dad asked between huffs and puffs.
“Whyyyyyyy??” My sister whined.
“Well, your… mother, Sam, and I… don’t exactly have… our hands free… at the moment,” my dad said grasping for every breath he could.
“But there’s a spider!!!” My sister screamed. We all gave her a look that told her that if she didn’t open that door soon, a spider would be the least of her problems. My sister groaned (hey maybe it’s genetics?) as she grabbed the keys from my dad’s pocket and fumbled with them until she unlocked the door. She then just stood there, doing absolutely nothing but stare blankly at the door. I’m pretty sure something must have clicked at that point in her little 9-year-old mind that this was to actually be our home for a long time, and that we were about to give up everything we had ever known as familiar and enter into a world of change. She looked absolutely terrified. But then again, she’s pretty stupid and small-minded. She was probably still obsessing over the spider.
“Would you hurry up and open the door?” I pleaded angrily. My arms were killing me. At this rate, not only would everything (in terms of the luggage) fall down but the sun itself would set and our story would end with two things crashing down as opposed to one. And hey you know what, maybe my leg would accidentally spasm out and kick Alex and have her fall down too.
“Yes, please, Alex. We’re dying over here,” my mother chipped in, clearly annoyed and in pain over the fact that in her slumberous state that morning she had slipped into heels. Alex stared at the door handle and slowly turned the knob.

July 06, 2015 02:41:44 PM





The sun rose and everything fell. Alex was sleeping when he feel something running on his body. He caught a hamster. He got out of bed, decided to check his younger brother. Hanging on the door was a note from his younger brother, Max, that said "You've been pranked! Leave your room...if you DARE!!" Alex started at the door handle and slowly turned the knob.

July 02, 2015 06:49:12 PM





The sun rose and everything fell. Marty woke up and everything was on the floor. He noticed his brother Alex was gone. He saw nothing but underwear underneath his brother’s bed and white sheets covered with something that looked like lemonade had fallen on to it. “Ha. No wonder he’s never had a girlfriend! He needs to learn how to hide his things like me.” Marty said as he was getting ready for his hot new date. He searched his closet and tried out different outfits, ignoring everything that had fallen in his and his brother’s room. In between each outfit he starred at himself and comment on how dreamy he looks. “I literally should just wear all outfits at once.” Marty said while drooling over himself. He wondered where Alex ran off to. Marty said, “Alex probably went to go buy more lemonade ha.” Marty impatiently got bored of looking for an outfit and decided to go eat breakfast. When he stepped out of his room everything was on the floor. The new television that Marty bought was in the bathtub, the living room was no longer called a living room because there wasn’t a sofa. The sofa was in the backyard, and all the kitchen wear was on the floor. The milk became rotten. Marty’s face was filled with confusion, but slowly it turned into laughter. He laughed so loud that one of the elder neighbors were yelling, “Shut up! You sound like a crazy old man.” Another neighbor shouted, “What the flippin earsplitting SpongeBob laugh is going on over there!?” In one house alone, there he was, he was in his house dying of laughing and twitching on the floor. Marty couldn’t control his laughter, even one of his farts creped up on him. He laughed for almost half an hour and just lied there on the floor, looking up at the ceiling. Marty smiled and said to himself, “So this is life huh, always surprising me.” He realized that he hasn’t eaten and his hot date was on her way to his house because he promised her a day with him, her, and the new television that he bought at Wal-Mart. He was still lying there on the floor. The door bell rang; he didn’t know what to do. He thought of only two plans either hide or open the door. As ruthless as he is, he decided to open the door. Not because he wants to let her in, but because he wanted to ask her a question, “Haha so do you think I’m hot like in all seriousness though?” Ignoring the question, the date peaked into his house and angrily said, “Omg that’s not a nice way to welcome muah. Well, whatever my boyfriend is waiting for me at home anyway. Toodles!” Marty closed the door, made his way back to the floor, until he had this thought of dancing. He wanted to get his groove on and clean. He ran to the backyard to grab his jukebox. Then he put the song “Funky town” that came out on the Shrek movie. Marty grabbed the broom and started shaking his butt, flowing with the beat of the music. Not only did he make the house sparkle, but he even thought of working with interior design. “I honestly don’t know who did this mess and I really don’t care, but all I know is that I scrub the floors like Cinderella.” As the melodic music lingered in the house Alex starred at the door handle and slowly turned the knob.

July 02, 2015 04:10:47 AM





((I apologize for the sloppy format, I initially wrote the script on celtx so the entire format was lost when I transferred it here, I had to do it all manually which is even more terrible than you can imagine. -Alyssa<3))



The sun rose and everything fell. A man is asleep in a messy bedroom as an alarm clock rings. The disheveled man elegantly reaches out from under his white comforter and turns the alarm off. This man is ALEX WOODS a single, 25 year old loner who has been chosen to be rocketted to Mars in order to test NASA technology.

ALEX yawns and looks to a cat laying beside his bed.

(to the cat)
Today's the day, Helen. Last day
on Earth and I'm going to see the
most important person in my life..

ALEX walks over to a dresser and looks at a photo of himself at his college graduation with his mother. He smiles briefly then pushes the photo aside revealing a Blake Griffin jersey.

Blake Griffin!



ALEX is sitting on a couch watching a morning talk show, he's eating cereal alongside HELEN THE CAT who is also eating dry cat food from a bowl.

BREAKING NEWS: President Donald
Trump has fired his 14th vice
president. Our sources say Trump
will this time bring in a talking
bag of money as his 15th and
hopefully final-


ALEX switches the channel. An anchor is reading the news as a BREAKING banner scrolls at the bottom of the screen it simply reads "The technology behind sentient money."

In other news, tonight NASA
launches its first rocket with a
civilian on-board. This civilian
is Los Angeles native, Alex Woods.
Stay tuned to learn more about who
many are calling an American hero.

A photo of ALEX holding HELEN THE CAT both wearing matching t-shirts appears onscreen.

Really? That's the photo they use?
Even when I'm a hero I'm still a
lonely cat guy.

ALEX turns the television off and grabs a huge binder from under the coffee table. The binder reads "Last Week on Earth" and looks like a fifth-grade girl decorated it, there's so many stickers plastered on it.


ALEX quickly flips through many photos of him from throughout the week, some highlights include partying, mooning tourists, and being rejected by Scarlett Johansson. Finally, ALEX arrives at a checklist and begins checking things off.

Visit mom, check. Visit dad,
check. Get wasted, check. Go on a
date, check. Get laid, check.

ALEX hesitates and looks at HELEN THE CAT.

Don't look at me like that.

HELEN THE CAT meows. ALEX sighs and erases the check mark and writes "1/2" instead. ALEX does not elaborate on this.

(talking like an announcer)
And now for the goal to beat all
goals, meeting Mr. Blake Griffin.

ALEX gets up and starts to do a celebratory dance, this is cut short by HELEN THE CAT who hisses at ALEX.

Don't you fret your worrisome
whiskers, Helen.
(in an English accent)
You're going to the fanciest of
fancy feline resorts.


(with childlike enthusiasm)
I'm excited too!



The feline resort is a huge building with marble pillars. The sign reads "Nine Lives Hotel", its logo is identical to the Four Seasons though the tree is replaced with a cat tower.



The doorman holds the door open for ALEX. ALEX while holding HELEN THE CAT bows in appreciation. This dynamic duo is very out of place. ALEX is wearing a Clippers t-shirt, cargo shorts, and a Clippers hat. The concierge is an old white woman wearing a very nice white dress and sweater, she watches ALEX approach her while silently judging him.

(referring to the doorman)
What a nice guy. Someone give that
guy a raise!

(being very short)
He works off of tips. Do you have
a reservation with us today?

Yeah, it should be under hero. No,
I'm only kidding it's under Woods,
Alex Woods.

Okay Mr. Woods I have you staying
for... Oh, this must be a
mistake... indefinitely?

No mistake, that's correct. I'm
going to Mars you see.

Oh, Woods, yes of course. I'm so
sorry sir. What's this little
one's name?

The CONCIERGE looks at HELEN THE CAT and throws her a toy mouse that she has no reaction to. It simply hits HELEN THE CAT right in the face. The CONCIERGE gives the cat a strange, quizzical look.

This is Helen.

Let me guess, named after Helen
Mirren. What a gem. She's truly a

Oh no, no, no. Helen Keller.
Because she's both blind and deaf,
she's the Helen Keller of the cat

The CONCIERGE looks very concerned.

You know most people give their
cats a cutesy name.

Well her nickname is Magic.

See that's a much nicer-

Because she also has feline AIDS.

The CONCIERGE gasps.


So we're good here?

The concierge points to the exit.


Bye Helen! Don't forget me!

HELEN is adorned with a collar and put inside a carrier as ALEX makes his way to the door.




ALEX approaches a security guard.

Hey, man. Did Blake already get
here? He's not picking up his

You know Blake Griffin?

Yeah, old college pals. If you
could, uh, let him know I have his
lucky socks, I'd appreciate it.
His phone probably died, typical

Sir, I highly doubt you even know
Blake Griffin let alone have socks
to give to him.

Oh but I do.

ALEX holds up a gross pair of athletic socks. He smugly flips the sock to reveal "Blake G." written in sloppy handwriting on the inside of the sock.

I think I'll just be on my way

ALEX attempts to walk past the guard through the restricted door but the GUARD stops him short.​

I'm sorry sir, but a sock with the
name of a player written on it
isn't enough proof for me to let
you in.

That isn't enough proof but
perhaps this is.

ALEX hands the guard a folded bill and winks slyly. The GUARD unfolds the bill revealing it's five dollars and a photo of ALEX.


I suggest you leave before I call

Okay, okay. No need for that.
White flag, I surrender.

ALEX turns around and starts to walk away but quickly turns back.

Actually I do have tickets to the
game so which way is quicker to
the right or left?


ALEX gives the GUARD a thumbs up and walks to the right. The GUARD simply shakes his head.

Appreciate it.




ALEX walks up to a food vendor. She is a middle aged blonde woman. The board at the stand reads "NEW: Quinoa Hot Dogs."

Quinoa hot dogs? Sounds terrible.
What else you got?

Well, our most popular items are the
savory kale chips and organic

Hmm, sounds equally or possibly even
more disgusting. Do you have like
nachos or regular people food?

Oh, you're looking for our
throwback food vendors, they're
right around the corner.



ALEX is sitting in his seat (courtside of course) eating a "regular people" hot dog. He looks at his watch and quickly takes the last bite.

Blake Griffin time!

ALEX stands up and walks to the Clippers' tunnel. He quickly makes his way in and navigates his way through the halls.

Wow, that took absolutely no
effort at all. Do they even have

As ALEX asks himself this, he rounds a corner. At the end of the hall is a large security guard guarding the locker room door.

(whispering to himself)

ALEX calmly approaches the guard.

Hi, Mr. Griffin called for me.

(emotionless yet scary)
What for?

Uh, massage, yeah, sports massage.
Says he's been tense lately.

The guard looks ALEX up and down.

Shouldn't you have a table or

Um, no, we're just doing legs.

Oh, okay. He should be in there.

ALEX's eyes widen with excitement as the security guard opens up the door for him.

Thank you, sir.

ALEX hugs the guard and walks through the door. The guard looks confused by this gesture.



ALEX slowly walks in the locker room and sees the object of his affection, BLAKE GRIFFIN.

M- Mr. Griffin?


Oh, wow. Sir, it is an HONOR to
meet you. I know you hear this all
the time from people that don't
really mean it but I am honestly
your biggest fan.

(while looking around)
Who are you? How did you get in

My name is Alex Woods and, you may
have heard it in the news, I'm
being rocketted to Mars.

I think. Yeah, I have heard of
you, good luck out there man.

(taken aback)
You good luck, out there, on the
court, always.

So did they, like, give you all
access tickets for one last game?

Actually, funny story, I just
snuck in here.




ALEX is thrown out of the building by two security guards. ALEX picks himself up and throws his fist in the air in celebration.

(shouting to the sky)
Blake Griffin!

ALEX looks at his watch, 6:18 pm.

Shit! Launch is at 7.

ALEX runs to the street and hops in a cab.



ALEX gets out of the cab, throws the driver his entire wallet, then proceeds to run to the space station.

Wait! Don't leave me! For the love
of Blake Griffin, don't leave me!



ALEX, out of breath, flings open the station door. Everyone looks at him, they all sigh out of relief. A female employee approaches him.

Just in time, Mr. Woods. Get
suited while I brief you.

ALEX nods and begins throwing on the space suit handed to him.

We sincerely hope you spent what
very well may be your last days on
Earth wisely. As long as you do
everything exactly as we've been
training you, I'm sure nothing
will go wrong.

Well you certainly sound convinced.


Don't worry yourself. The rocket
is just beyond that door.
Godspeed, Mr. Woods.

ALEX takes a deep breath and smiles at the EMPLOYEE. He hesitantly approaches the door and looks back at the EMPLOYEE. She gives him a reassuring smile and nod. Alex stares at the door handle and slowly turns the knob.



July 01, 2015 08:00:18 PM





Elisa Munoz

June 30, 2015 10:41:56 PM





The sun rose and everything fell.
I was blind in the dark and my eyes were too weak to tell.
I tripped over boxes, furniture and everything but air.
I was at a war with items too familiar which was not fair.
My hands were no longer part of me.
I couldn't see not an inch or a foot for me to flee.
I felt the wind but nothing else,no yells no screams for my name.
Was I now dead what a shame.
To think I was so young and I would die.
I had little or no time to say good- bye
Alex's shoulder brushed mine and we looked face to face.
If only I'd be tall enough to reach the door locking us out of this place.
Suddenly my humanity came back to realize Alex was a snob.
Alex stared at the door handle and slowly turned the knob.

June 29, 2015 09:23:09 PM





The New World
The sun rose and everything fell.
Not literally. It was around 7am when the sun rose and when Alex had crashed into his wall in the next room over, everything on my bookshelf had fallen off. Hard-core rap screamed from his room. Honestly, if anyone other than beat-up drunks lived in our apartment building, we’d be kicked out. And then we’d be living in with Alex’s parents which would ruin our vibe.
Plus, Alex’s parents were super religious, which would completely basically destroy our reputation. I mean, Alex was really religious too. But he was screaming along to the music, which included a stream of curse words and if his mother heard him she’d, like, ship him off to live with one of his thirty aunts or uncles. And then where would I be? I’d have to get a Real Job. Something stable. Get a wife. Have some kids. Die. Come back in a second life, if that exists. Knowing my luck, I’d come back as an ant. Live a day. Have a kid the same day. Die the same day.
Alex crashed into the wall again. Then I heard his feet stomping as he soared out of his room and threw open my door. “We’re gonna be rich, bro. Run for president. Co-presidents. So rich. Chicks will love us.” He pushed his goggles up onto his forehead. His eyes were bloodshot and a bit unfocused.
“Jesus Christ, Alex,” I muttered. His green eyes glared at me. Like he was God or something. My future flashed before his eyes. I’d live a long life only to burn in capital-H Hell. I won’t even get a chance to make a comeback as an ant. Because I said Jesus Christ that one time.
“Don’t say that, man,” was all he said. He was breathing loud and harsh, hands on his knees. “I did it, bro. Bro, it works. Gosh, we’re gonna be so rich.”
What Alex did was create a virtual reality video game. One you could live in. Rot out your days in a video game rather than real life. The dream. You see, one day Alex and I were flipping around on the internet when we came across this ad: Design a virtual utopia and win a million dollars. Alex had nearly peed his pants and looked at me with his “Bro-let’s-do-this” face and I gave him my “Bro-we-can’t-even-pay-our-rent” face. And Alex had given me his “But-my-parents-are-super-rich” face. I gave him my “Oh-yeah-we-live-like-crap-simply-for-rebellious-independent-reasons” face and the rest is history.
I sighed, shut my laptop, and got up from my bed.
“Were you looking at porn, dude?” Alex asked me as I passed him on my way out the door. He gave me a goofy grin and waggled his eyebrows. Alex always assumed I was looking at porn. As though computers and the Internet were invented just for porn and whenever a man sat alone in his bedroom on his laptop, he was definitely looking at porn. Or maybe Alex was just one of those people who was obsessed with porn, yet they probably didn’t even know what porn was, but they were giddy and eager to find out.
Alex tossed me the second pair of goggles and pushed his googles over his eyes. “Get ready, bro,” he said, pushing a big, red button next to the monitor.
A bright, blue light spread across my vision. I could feel Alex vibrating with excitement next to me. A landscape appeared around me. At first, it was an empty room, which eventually formed into a castle. A shady forest was to my right.
Alex was to my left, now decked out in chainmail and a large sword. He raised his eyebrows at me. “Knights of the round table, right, man?” He sounded like I was supposed to be impressed. Alex was really obsessed with fantasy stuff. Books. Movies. TV Shows. I was not surprise his idea of a utopia was living in ancient times before toothpaste and electricity were invented.
“Change the setting,” I told him in a monotone voice. He sighed and obeyed.
We were now on top of a roof in a city. Realistic-looking cars blared their horns at one another. It smelt like piss. I looked down and noticed I was wearing a pair of nice Oxfords, slacks, and a tux. Virtual reality was the dream. Alex was wearing an outfit similar to mine with his hair slicked back. We looked like mega-rich bosses of a corporation.
He looked at me eagerly, waiting for my approval. “Kings of capitalism, eh?” he said. Sweat stains appeared on his white tux around his armpits. A minor flaw. Virtual reality was supposed to erase all unwanted aspects of you. Including gross bodily functions like farting and sweating. He looked down and lifted his armpit. “I can’t change that. It’s kind of important. Sweat out all the bad stuff, bro.” I rolled my eyes.
“Goddam, Alex. We did it. We’re like gods or something,” I said, rocking back onto my heels.
“Okay, first of all: God. Singular. And watch your language, especially—” I held up a hand to stop him. I placed my index finger against my lips. “What?” he asked, irritated that I’d interrupting his moral-correctness-speech thing.
“Do you hear that?”
“The cars—I know.”
“Not that.”
“Well, bro, I don’t really hear anything else. Should I reboot?”
“I don’t hear any birds,” I whispered.
Alex stared at me. Speechless.
“There should be birds. It’s a city. Pigeons,” I told him. “I don’t know. Maybe it’s just a minor flaw,” I mumbled, running a hand through my hair.
I heard him mumble something that sounded like ‘There are birds in cities?’
“Stop picking out the minor stuff, man. Plus this is a utopia,” he said, making a vague hand gesture. “No one wants nasty pigeons in a utopia, pecking your eyes out,” he concluded. He was probably right, but I didn’t know how often pigeons mauled people.
“Then why does it smell like piss?” I insisted, turning to face him.
Now it was his turn to roll his eyes. He stroked his goatee. Apparently in his utopia, a goatee was attractive. “It is sick though, right?” he inquired thoughtfully.
I looked at him. He seemed at home. Alex was the capital-g God of our utopia. He’d created most of it. Created a virtual reality that would rot kids’ brains out. I mean, it would be fun for a while. The escape. But we didn’t create the game to escape reality. We created it so we could escape our reality. Collect a million dollars, move ahead a few spaces. Roll the dice. End up somewhere in Beverly Hills. Get a contract for a reality show. Live a few years. Marry a few women. Die. Rot in Hell. The dream.
And, man, we were awful people. Awful despicable people, placed on this Earth to sink into man’s greatest desires. To be honest, I wanted to punch myself in the face. Or shake my shoulders till my brain fell out. But if I was being really honest, my brain had probably fallen out a long time ago.
Alex turned his head and looked at me, a devilish grin plastered across his face. Dark, purple circles had formed under his eyes. Pimples covered his face like craters on the moon. I knew he was thinking the same thing.
“A friggin’ utopia. We created a world, bro,” he said.
I nodded. A friggin’ utopia. I moved to the edge of the building and stopped when the tips of my Oxfords hung over the edge of the building.
“Bro bro, man, bro, bro man—” Alex stammered behind me. “Bro, careful.”
I shoved my hands into my pants’ pockets. “Can you die in…what are we calling it?”
“Uh…The New World.”
“Can you die in the New World?”
“Oh, man. C’mon. I’m sorry. We don’t, bro, we don’t need to do this. If it’s triggering…makes you uncomfortable. I’ll shut down the game or something, bro.”
“Shut up, Alex. I need to know. Can you die in this utopia?”
He shrugged. I sighed, exasperated, and looked up at the sky. The clouds looked fake. Minor flaw, I reminded myself. How hard was it to create realistic-looking clouds?
Then I jumped.
Alex shouted nonsensically behind me.
Then I blacked out.
I woke up back in Alex’s room. His eyes were wide and a few inches from my face. I lifted my head quickly, and my forehead smacked against Alex’s. Alex howled.
“Oh my God-Gosh, I thought you were dead. Gone.” Then he laughed to himself. “Guess you are immortal in,” he paused for dramatic effect, “the New World.”
“I don’t know. Seeing as I did nearly die.” Alex rolled his eyes. Minor flaw. If we turned in the game and it was mass produced, we would be sued. ‘Kid goes into a coma after dying in a virtual reality video game,’ the headlines would read. ‘Parents sue two douchebags, living large in Beverly Hills’ the caption would read.
Alex must’ve read my mind. “The big-company dudes are, like, responsible for our game. Since they, you know, will be producing it.” I shook my head. But I didn’t tell Alex he was probably wrong. “We’ll collect our money, move to some foreign country. Stay in hiding. Of course, we’ll meet some super-hot babes,” he suggested. Optimistic. “Plus,” he added, “you didn’t die-die. Technically, they can’t sue us if you don’t die.” Wrong, but optimistic, but still very, very wrong.
“How can we stay in hiding when we have a million dollars?” I asked. Alex waved a dismissive hand. Minor flaw.
“Now, c’mon,” he said, pushing himself to his feet. He shouldered two backpacks, which I assumed contained all the pieces to the game. He must’ve packed when I was unconscious.
“Just out of curiosity, how long was I out?” I asked.
“Uh…what day is it?” He checked his phone. “A week,” he said, almost not even caring. He began moving towards the door.
“What the hell, Alex? Are you friggin’ insane?” I almost screamed at him. “Why didn’t you admit me to a hospital? I probably have, like, permanent brain damage.”
Alex gave me a sad smile. “First of all: stop saying Hell like that or that’s where you’ll end up.” I almost rolled my eyes, then decided against it, since I’d probably die if I did. “Second of all: I am very knowledgeable on sleeping for a long time. I once slept for twenty-three hours. Straight.”
I nearly banged my head against the wall. “I was unconscious for a week.”
“Nah, your heart was still beating,” he said. “I’m not that stupid. I knew you were alive.”
I gave up. Both tired of Alex and tired of actually trying. He left the room. I figured there was a possibility I might die on the way there. But when we collected the million dollars, I planned for us to head to the hospital or something. Or I would die. Maybe come back as someone who was actually born rich.
I followed Alex out of the room. He turned back and grinned at me. Kings. Gods. God. Whatever we were. Alex stared at the door handle and slowly turned the knob.

June 27, 2015 10:50:00 PM





The sun rose and everything fell just like my sagging skin reminding me how elderly I've become. As I had flashbacks of the good old days, I felt the pollen tickle my nose, I let out the biggest sneeze from my face then my behind. I felt the empty space in my pants become occupied by a warm smelly feeling. Luckily my grandson Alex was asleep so I can sneak to the restroom, but then I peeped through the key hole as saw that Alex stared at the door handle and slowly turned the knob.

June 24, 2015 04:46:37 PM





The sun rose and everything fell. All of Alex’s plans to escape down the drain again. Alex balled his fists and waited. Alex knows how to be patient. Alex is a teenager that was stuck in a mental ward. Alex had been wrongly put there. Alex is mad at the world for this. Alex is mad at the world for a lot of things. Alex was surrounded by crazies just like him. Haha, crazies. Crazies is a nice word. Just like Alex is a nice boy. Except when he’s naughty. Alex was naughty a year ago from today. Shhhh, we don’t talk about that. We have to keep it hush hush. Alex is not proud of what he did. That is what they said Alex should feel anyway. But Alex is secretly pleased of what he did. Now the whole world knows who Alex is. Alex is me.
Alex does not deserve to be here. All Alex did was want to be known. Want to be wanted. Because Alex did not have very good parents. No, Alex did not. His parents did not want Alex. Alex bares his teeth and growls whenever he thinks of what his parents did to him. Uh oh, that’s another hush hush secret. No one must know. Alex keeps this secret inside of him. Alex keeps it locked up, just like the voice inside his head. No one must know. The last person who discovered his secret is now dead. That person had realized Alex was abused by his parents. She threatened to take Alex away to child services or a foster home or something like that. The parents did not really care. But Alex did. Alex wants no one to know his secret. So Alex killed her. That is the price to pay. No one must know who Alex really is and what life he really had. The voice inside Alex’s head told Alex to kill her. Alex had no choice. Alex followed her home and waited until she stepped outside again. That is when Alex pounced. Like a tiger. Yes, yes, exactly like a tiger with sharp claws and deadly teeth. Like a predator on its prey. Alex hit her in the head with a baseball bat. Alex then dragged her into the trees and pulled out his precious baby. Alex had pulled out his knife, his most prized thing in the whole wide world. Alex loved his knife. Alex would carry his knife everywhere. They took the knife from him when he was forced into this awful, awful place. They will pay. Alex does not want to say what happened next with the woman. That is another secret. Alex smiles just thinking about what he did.
The next morning, another person had arrived at his door. This person was not happy. He demanded to know if Alex had anything to do with the death of a policewoman. Alex said no. Alex was lying. His voice told him to lie. The policeman growled some more and then left. Alex was not happy. No one ever treats him that way. No one. Except his father. He had beaten Alex enough times with a belt for Alex to accept that he is prey only to his father. But Alex is no prey to other people. Alex is the predator. Alex had no choice, really. His voice told him what to do again. Alex had seen where this policeman lives a while ago because Alex likes to follow people when he’s bored. Alex still remembers. Alex still remembers where a lot of people live. Alex finds his precious baby and hides it in his pocket. Alex eventually finds him and waits until he takes out the trash. That is when Alex becomes the tiger and pounces once again. That is the price to pay for his secret to be hush hush. His secret did not stay hush hush for long. They had found out that Alex is not a regular boy. They had taken him away and forced him into this mental facility. They took away his precious baby. Alex felt empty without his knife. Alex misses his knife. Alex spends his time planning his way out. Every night, Alex tries to escape with no success. But Alex is patient. He can wait. And when no one is expecting it, he will pounce once again.
Finally, when the sun falls and less people watch him, Alex rose slowly from the bed and walked over to his toilet. Inside the toilet were a key and a match. Alex had painstakingly positioned the match so that it stayed dry. Alex was very good at pickpocketing. Alex had stolen the key from one of his guards when he pretended to have a melt-down. Alex had cried and flailed his arms everywhere. Alex is very proud of his performance. The guard had come up to him and hugged him. That is when Alex stole the key. Haha, nice people are suckers. They never win. That is why Alex is never nice. Alex was nice one time to his father. His father knocked him unconscious. Alex learned his lesson. The match was harder to get. Alex had discovered that one of his guards smoked. Alex smelled it on the guard whenever he came to deliver Alex’s meal to Alex. So one time when the guard came with Alex’s meal, Alex had pretended to spill it on the floor. The guard kneeled down to pick it up, giving Alex just enough time to sneak one match from the box inside his uniform pocket. See? Alex told you nice people are suckers. Alex swiped the match against his bed’s wooden frame and it lit. Alex smiled and played with the fire. Stop it! Alex must focus. Alex held the match under the sprinkler and it ignited. Alarms blared and lights blinked. Water fell down from the sprinkler. Screams soon filled the air. Alex laughed in joy. Alex loves panic. Alex loves chaos. This was Alex’s moment to shine. Soon, he turned serious. Alex cannot mess this up. Alex will run away and make everybody here pay. Alex will find his precious beauty when he returns back here and he will become the predator once again. But for now, all he has to do is step outside this room and reclaim the glory what once was his. Alex slid the key into the hole and locked it into place. Alex stared at the door handle and slowly turned the knob.

June 23, 2015 07:29:40 PM





The sun rose and everything fell. This had been happening a lot lately. During all of her time in the wilderness, it had never not happened, she would have realized if she stopped to think about it. But she never did. Instead, Alex completed the first step in her daily routine: picking up the flotsam scattered around her tiny campsite and gently stacking it back into the makeshift hammock she had crafted out of the bandana she bought for a Rosie the Riveter halloween costume that had never been. Alex stored her toothbrush, her dental floss, her retainer and her glasses in this little crib hanging above her tent straddled between two scrawny branches of neighboring trees. The intention of the hammock was to keep her items safe from bears. There were no bears in the area, a fact Alex did not know and did not bother to check. Alex’s little brother knew, but he said nothing. He started to wonder why Alex stored their food inside their tent, as even she must have known that trail mix and beef jerky was more appealing to bears than Alex’s orthodontic appliances, but then he remembered that Alex was a dumbass.
Mornings were consumed with cleaning Alex’s dirt covered toothbrush, an item rendered immediately useless when Alex discovered that she had forgotten toothpaste, and afternoons were too bright. Nighttime was when the real work could take place. Alex and her little brother were on a quest. The kids’ dental hygienist mother had went on a weeklong vacation to Fiji with her new boyfriend Zesto, an act Alex fiercely viewed as abandonment. But if Alex was thinking rationally, she would have realized that she was a sophomore in college, and more than old enough to take care of her high school brother. Alex’s brother realized this, but he said nothing, choosing to shrug and follow her on a mission to “find their birth father”, who would never abandon them. Alex’s brother thought that “birth father” was an awfully dramatic way to describe their dad, who had only been divorced from their mom for a year and a half, and as he almost pointed out to Alex, he had, in fact, abandoned them. But he said nothing, and went along for the ride. Maybe I could write about this in a college essay, he thought. He still felt that his original plan to write about his winning goal in the soccer game or his mission trip to Ghana was stronger, but this could be a good third option. It’s always good to have a backup backup, he thought. Plus, it was less of a “mission trip to Ghana” than a luxurious safari in Morocco, but he had read somewhere that they could never dock you for lying. Or maybe that was on the SAT essay. Either way, he decided to give his sister some company.
So Alex drove the two of them forty miles to her father’s beautiful cabin and unloaded her camping materials in what she thought was a secluded enough area. She cooked up grand ideas and beautiful speeches about storming into her father’s house and yelling, “Alex is home!”, knocking down all the photos of her father and his new family, throwing her step-siblings out of their beds and retaking her rightful position as the center of his attention. But when the first night fell, she did nothing. She was scared and vulnerable, and for the first time in a long time, not confident. Also, he didn’t have any new children and his house was filled with pictures of Alex and her brother. Alex eventually realized this, and her confidence shot back up, along with her body. She marched up to her father’s door, her brother trailing closely behind, and stared at the door handle. And then she retreated back to her tent and went to sleep.
The next night, the same thing happened, and then the next and the next. She walked up to her father’s house, stared at the handle and then returned to the tent without saying a word. On the fifth night, as their trip was coming to an end, Alex headed back to the tent with tears in her eyes. Alex’s brother noticed this, and said something.
“Hey,” he said. “Life is about taking the first step. You had an idea, however misguided, or whatever, and you followed through. You took steps, and you picked up everything, or maybe not quite everything, and left and came here. And you didn’t quite speak to Dad, but you got damn close. And anyway, you’ll see him at Thanksgiving. But, the point is, you made a choice to come here, and you followed through. Maybe that’s enough. It’s enough for me and it should be enough for you.”
That’s dumb, she thought, and continued walking. She climbed into her sleeping bag and went to sleep.
Alex’s father, unlike Alex, was not an idiot. The campsite was a mere fifteen feet from his house, and he had security cameras. This meant that he had about thirty minutes of footage of his daughter staring at his door. His kids were essentially in his backyard, and yeah, there were trees, but they were hardly in the wilderness. And he recognized her car, which was parked in his driveway. He had bought it for her less than two years ago. But he knew that he had a pair of weirdos, and he knew to give them their space. And he would be ready to talk when they were ready to come in. And one day, they were, partially because Alex realized that her frustrations with her mother and Zesto were really about her pent up struggles to make friends in college, and that she had created a romanticized portrait of her father to serve as a foil for her actual guardian. Also, her mother would be pissed if she got a cavity. And so, on their last night in the wilderness, she and her brother unzipped the tent and tiptoed to her father’s house. Alex stared at the door handle and slowly turned the knob.

June 22, 2015 12:18:13 PM

Justin Linville




The sun rose and everything fell.
It was like nothing I said tonight even mattered. Alex had made up her mind before I even started talking, like she always does. It’s so incredibly frustrating spending the whole night trying to save our relationship only to be told that “we just weren’t meant to be”. And, maybe she’s right, maybe we weren’t meant to be. Maybe we weren’t the star-crossed lovers I thought we were.
Maybe we’re the relationship that crumbles in the beginning of the rom-com and in a few days I’m going to meet the perfect girl that promises to get me out of my slump…. assuming I’m the protagonist. Oh shit, I could be the antagonist. What if I’m not Norah from Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist? What if I’m Tris? Okay, I have got to start using metaphors wherein I am the male protagonist/antagonist, I mean it would’ve been much easier to say Nick instead of Norah and Tal instead of Tris. Shit, do I know that movie too well? Doesn’t matter, I’ve got other things to focus on. Like, how do I go to Psych class in three hours without crying my eyes out? How do I tell my parents that the girl I brought home for Thanksgiving that Grandpa said to "hold onto" as he inexplicably slipped me ten dollars, is no longer in my life?
This is ridiculous, I don’t need her, okay? I need to be with a girl that is supportive, kind, smart and fun. I need to be with a girl that is genuinely interested in my life but, has her own shit going on. I need a girl that is okay with feeling her feelings and letting me in. Someone that is okay with hearing me feel my feelings. I need someone that is fiercely opinionated and not afraid to speak her mind. You know what? I’m hearing myself now and I’m just listing attributes that Alex has.
Fuck, why did we break up again? Oh yeah, she said I don’t seem mature enough for this relationship and I need to get out of my own head. Oh, she is totally right. If I had just got out of my own head tonight and listened to what she was saying, we’d still be together. Alright, what’s my course of action? Let’s brainstorm- shit! The whole point of this is to get out of my own head. I’m just going to pull a Chuck at the end of Season Two of Chuck and chase after her. You know, in the time it took for me to come up with that dumb metaphor, I could have been chasing after her. This is ridiculous. I’m just going to go and hope she’s still around and there’s still an opportunity to save this relationship. Whoa! Has Connor been asleep this whole time? I forget I have a roommate, I really hope he didn’t hear me call myself Tris.

As Alex waited outside the door of her boyfriend’s dorm room, listening to him talk to himself like an idiot, she couldn’t help but smile.

Alex stared at the door handle and slowly turned the knob.

June 19, 2015 10:55:57 PM





The sun rose and everything fell. Including Alex. Her obnoxious alarm clock scared her half to death, then the next thing she knew she was on the ground. No one could rightfully that say she was the most elegant or graceful girl on the planet. In fact, most would probably say she was the most clumsy and awkward girl on the planet.
Which made her dreams of becoming a professional ballerina just a wee bit grandiose.
“Alex, was that you?” her mother called from downstairs after Alex fell and made a terrible racket.
“Yeah Mom, but I’m alright!” Alex shouted back.
“Okay. Breakfast is ready when you are!”
Alex went to the closet and picked out her favorite T-Shirt, black with white words that spelled out “I’m not clumsy, it’s just the floor hates me, the tables and chairs are bullies, and the walls get in my way.” That way when she ended up running into something (or someone) at school, she could just apologize and point to her T-Shirt without having to go through another lengthy explanation. Alex would have worn that shirt every day if her mom would let her.
Thirty minutes later, after knocking down a stack of heavy books that had unfortunately landed on Alex’s toes while trying to yank on her skinny jeans. And, after squirting toothpaste all over the bathroom mirror. And subsequently cleaning up the mess and putting on another pair of pants since she spilled water all over the first pair, Alex was finally able to go downstairs and eat breakfast.
Alex ignored the intense urge to slide down the railing (no way she would be doing that after the last time), and ever-so-carefully walked down the stairs where the homemade waffles and sugary maple syrup awaited on the kitchen table.
Maple syrup? In her favorite shirt and second favorite pair of jeans? No way. She went to the pantry and grabbed a box of Frosted Flakes.
“Didn’t you see the waffles on the table?” Alex’s mother asked. She was currently in the living room reading the newspaper.
“I did, but the syrup-“
“Alex, you are thirteen-years-old. Even your six-year-old brother can handle the syrup. I trust that you can manage.”
Easy for her to say. She probably doesn’t even remember the “Syrup Incident of 2008.” But Alex did. She remembered every gross, sticky moment of that fateful morning.
She had been seven years old when it happened, that innocent age when it was still cool to have breakfast for lunch. Her mom had packed microwaveable waffles and syrup in a little plastic container. Alex sat down at the miniature lunch table with her friends. She was wearing her favorite outfit at the time: a long-sleeved pink shirt covered with sparkles and a rainbow tutu. She had even gotten her mom to do her hair “extra-special” that morning since it was the first day of school. And well, let’s just say for the rest of the year Alex went by the incredibly inventive and creative name that only a second-grade boy could come up with: “Syrup Girl.”
Alex shuddered as she remembered that day. She could never look at thick, sugary breakfast sauce the same ever again. Normally Alex would refuse to eat the waffles, or maybe just eat them without the syrup, but her mom had played “The Brother Card.” As ridiculous as it seemed, Alex was constantly compared to Nate’s neat and dexterous ways. As far as anyone knew, he hadn’t dropped or spilled anything since he last used a sippy cup when he was three.
She sat down. She could do this. “Focus. If Nate can do it, you can too,” Alex told herself. She picked up the syrup. She poured it. She set it back on the table. “The battle is half over. Just eat the waffle and this will all be over.” She picked up her knife and fork. She sliced the waffle into individual pieces and methodically speared and swallowed each one.
“I did it! I did it!” Alex shouted. She jumped up from the table and did an enthusiastic happy dance.
“She did it! She did it!” Nate joined along, not really knowing what Alex had achieved, but he wanted to dance anyway. He spun around with his arms outstretched, but suddenly stopped and watched, as if in slow motion, the bottle of syrup fly up into the air.
Alex felt it before she saw it. She didn’t need to be hit in the head recognize that goopy feeling. Unfortunately, that was exactly what happened. Just to be sure that this was actually happening, Alex reached up and touched her hair.
“Nate! I can’t believe you! Syrup! Syrup all over my hair! I’ll NEVER be able to get all this out before school starts!”
“Alexandria, do not yell at your brother like that! Hurry and go take a shower. You’ll just have to be late to school today,” her mother commanded.
Alex ran up the stairs, turned on the hot water, and undressed herself. “Syrup! It just HAD to be syrup!” She stepped into the shower and splashed a huge glob of shampoo onto her hand and lathered her hair twice. Then she dropped her bar of soap twice. Okay, maybe it was three times. Or four. But who’s counting?
Once she was out of the shower and dressed in yet another outfit, her mom stopped her before she was about to sprint out the door.
“You’ve had a pretty bad day so far, and since it is only a half day…”
“I can stay home from school?” Alex asked eagerly.
“Sure. I’ll call the school and tell them you’re sick.”
“Thanks, Mom!” She hugged her mom and then rushed over to her computer. In all of the morning’s hubbub she hadn’t even been able to look at her Facebook page! She scrolled through hundreds of mindless posts from her best friends, people she knew, and people she didn’t.
“Washed the car today. Then it rained. :( ”
“Did anyone else hear that lightning?”
“Look at this cat doing something cute!”
“Share this picture and you will have good luck for the rest of the day!”
“Why do I even have a Facebook page anymore?” Alex asked herself. Of course, she already knew the answer. There was a page she followed called ”Ballet Travels” that would post when all of the major ballet companies were performing. Of course they would never come to her practically non-existent small town in the middle of Montana, but occasionally they would visit the capital Helena. Every time this happened she would drag her parents along to see the shows, even if they had already seen it. “Cinderella,” “The Nutcracker,” “Swan Lake,” and “Midsummer’s Night Dream” are just a few that they had seen so far. Alex just loved to imagine herself on stage with the dancers, because she knew eventually that’s where she would be. Even if no one else believed her. Alex had taken dancing lessons for years and did well on-stage, but she was not exactly her teacher’s favorite student. That might have something to do with a spilt steaming Starbucks Grande Latte.
Suddenly Alex found a post by “Ballet Travels” that caught her eye. “Wanted: Girl ballet dancers from ages 11-15 for the travelling performance of ‘The Nutcracker.’ Please contact Melinda at 123-456-7890 or at if you are interested in auditioning.”
Alex burst out of her chair and screamed “MOM!”
“What? Honey, are you okay?”
“I’m great! I’m fantastic!” Alex showed her mom the wanted ad on her computer. “Can I do it? Please please please please!”
“Well… I don’t see why not. Just don’t be disappointed if-“
“Great thanks!” She ran back to her room and started composing the email.

Hi there! My name is Alexandria and I saw the Facebook post saying that you need a ballet dancer between 11-15. Well, I happen to be a thirteen-year- old dancer and I would be totally interested in being a travelling performer! Where are the auditions and when are they?
Thank you,

Three days later, Alex got a response.

Auditions will be held on May 13th from 3:00-6:30 at ‘Be A Star Studio’ in Hollywood. Thank you for your interest and good luck at your audition!

“How was am I supposed to get to Hollywood? I live in Montana for goodness sakes!” Alex ranted to no one in particular.
After a lot of coercion and a well-rehearsed Power Point presentation that took over a week to make, Alex finally convinced her parents to let her go.
“You better do amazing, otherwise you’re paying for the airplane ticket,” Her mom said sarcastically.
“Don’t worry! I will!”
Practicing in her room was a bit difficult for Alex, as it was rather small and quite cluttered. Hundreds of stubbed toes and bandages later though, Alex was confident that she would nail the audition.
After a three hour plane ride, Alex came up to the studio and entered the front door. It was like a palace inside- high ceilings, grey stone walls, puffy red chairs. There was like, millions of other girls around her age who were sitting and standing around looking nervous. Seemingly hours after taking her seat, Alex finally heard her name being called.
She cautiously made her way up to a large wooden door and took a deep breath, pushing her hair behind her ears and smoothing out her black ballet skirt. Alex stared at the door handle and slowly turned the knob.

June 16, 2015 11:43:05 AM



205 months


The sun rose and everything fell into place in the mind of Alex Whitman. She was now thirteen years old, and she fully understood the universe. Yes, Alex understood it, but no, she didn't get it. She understood, that sometimes people say nice things to your face but mean things behind your back. She understood that parents told white lies and that kids sometimes felt wiser than parents, although that was rarely the case. Understanding things, however, is different from understanding why. Why did people lie, try, or do anything in between? Why was there a motivational poster at Alex's school that said "Dare to be different"? If everyone dared to be different, wouldn't that make us all the same? The positive effects of being different should be a well kept secret, locked away in a safe on the bottom of the Atlantic. Why did Alex's friend, Sarah, say that "Melanie only acted nice, but secretly she was a total bitch"? Alex always thought that kindness was displayed through actions, so if Melanie acted nice, doesn't that mean that she WAS nice? Oh boy, the world sure is confusing. Alex smelled birthday pancakes. Being thirteen sure is confusing. Time to open presents. Alex stared at the door handle and slowly turned the knob.

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