she tapped his knee at three in the morning and asked him to come back to bed

this was the eighth night on the couch and she was starting to feel as if he didn’t want her bones beside him

you were taking up the whole bed, he whispered

another excuse in the daybreak 

it was phone calls before, and restlessness and trash day

he came with her anyways and pulled her close

but when she woke up the other side was empty

and already cold.

El San Juan Hotel and Casino

I just danced the filthiest kind of salsa with you

under the searing lights

the notes of music thick on my skin like honey

the music took off

and you half dragging me did too

I quickly fell into step with something primal

it wasn’t the rehearsed one two 

of the wood floored studio

or the childish three four in my grandmothers living room

the taste of passion fruit still sour on my tongue

while the gramophone played the raspy love songs

of another life

it was you on your third glass of Guatemalan rum

and me dying to prove I belong here

so I went up on the tips of my toes

and kept my legs moving like a shuttle on a loom

and my hips swaying under the turn of your wrist

you moved under my finger tips like light through water

and I laughed as I followed you

the skirt of my dress floating up up

the skin of my thighs 

I felt like a woman under your hand

and when it ended

I shivered 

because I wanted to go back to your beach side apartment

and fill my mouth with the taste of Guatemalan rum

~ My first prose piece in a while. Enjoy ~
My name is Milo. I work at an office building in battery park city. As much as I love New York, I was so exposed to culture all the time that I began to become… desensitized. Although I went to school for business, I was a professional photographer for two years before realizing that I was taking pictures that I knew papers would buy, not things that I found interesting or beautiful. So I gave up the prophoto scene and entered the business sector, taking a white collar job and settling into a nine to five. At first I couldn’t handle it - having to wake up at a specific time, answering to others, sitting a desk for hours. But as it does to many others, it shaped me into the mold it needed. The mold of the perfect worker. But underneath, there was this burning desire to break all the rules. Especially one.
The girl in the picture completely changed my life. Her name is Kaisa. She’s an Estonian girl who moved here a year ago. There was something about her that captivated me from my first day of training. She worked in the  marketing department and when she greeted me I marveled in how the arc of her native language gently shaped her English words. It was so majestic, so delicate. 
As the weeks passed I tried to control myself. As much as I wanted to ask her out, I had just gotten out of a rather terrible relationship and decided that maybe I should take a break before I continued to destroy myself by dating psycho chicks that I seemed to accurately continue to pick out as positive people to have in my life. But thats another story, for another day. Anyways. So I would stop by marketing as needed for my job, always glancing over at Kaisa. She wore these old-worldy clothing: blouses with neck collars and full skirts. But where it would have looked matronly on anyone else, it was simply elegant on her. I was intrigued by her, but kept away. Especially since in office relationships were strictly against company policy. 
It was a Tuesday, the first day Kaisa showed me the other side. I remember it was a Tuesday because I was still hungover from Monday night football at the local pub. Anyways. I stayed late for a project meeting and was pissed as hell to see that I had already missed the newest Mythbusters. I just wanted to go home. I entered the elevator  cursing out my boss. The elevator stopped at the fifth floor which scared me since the building was empty. She stepped in, delicate as ever. 
"Good evening," I said.
"Good evening, Mr.Gallard" she answered, the gentle cadance of her voice filling the elevator. Her short heels and her long skirt made her look like something out of Little House on the Prarie. So then why was I turned on by that? "Did you have a good day?"
"Eh, it was alright." I replied nonchalantly. "Late meetings, you know. How was yours?"
"It was very pleasant thank you." The doors opened and we stepped outside into the street together. It was pouring rain.  She opened an intricate lace like umbrella. As I followed her out, I watched her black curls bounce against her shoulders and imagined running my fingers through them- 
"Enjoy the rest of your evening" she told me.
"You too" I went on my phone for a moment to answer a text under the overhang. When I looked up again I saw her sitting at the bus stop. 
"You take the bus?" 
"Its pouring out. I can’t allow you to sit here waiting for the bus this late, they almost ever come. Come I’ll drive you. My car’s right there"
"I couldn’t burden you in such a way, Mr.Gallard."
"It would be no problem at all. Please, I insist." 
She rose. “Thank you so much Mr.Gallard.” We walked over to the car and I opened the passenger door. As she stepped in, she lifted her skirt and I looked down. Right above her ankle was a tattoo. I thought I was seeing things but that was definatly ink. My eyes widened. Kaisa has a tattoo? What was it of? What if she has… more than one!? I got into the car and drove her home. When I got back to my place, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. 
I drove her home a few more times over the next few weeks. We became rather good friends and even shared a cup of coffee a few times. Then I couldn’t handle it anymore. As we were walking through the hallway, I pulled her aside. “Whats that tattoo on your ankle?”
"How did you-"
"I saw it when you got into the car once. Im really intrigued." 
"Oh… back in Estonia, I was an artist of tattoo."
"Yes. But the culture of tattoo in America is very different than Estonia. Here you are associated with the drugs and bad values. But in Estonia, it is very beautiful"
"Can I ask you something?"
"Yes?""This might be totally awkward, and you can totally say no. But I used to do alot of photography, and I’d love to photograph Estonian tattoos." And you, I thought to myself.
"Of course! I would love to show my culture." 
She came to my house and I greeted her. 
"So if you could take off your shoes so i can photograph the tattoo,"
"I have more tattoos than just that one on my Ankle, Milo"
She slowly took unbuttoned her shirt, one by one. Then she turned on her heel gently and let the fabric fall from her shoulders like wings unfolding. I was amazed to see what she was keeping between that neat exterior of long jackets and skirts. My eyes searched every inch of her, trying to drink in every inch of ink, every story, every buzz of the needle that etched art into the canvas of her skin. I trembled as current slithered through my veins. I shook it off. She looked back at me, covering her breasts with her hands. 
"What do you think? Do you still want to take the pictures?"
"Oh, Kaisa," I whispered. "Of course. Just, kneel down so I can capture your back piece." She lowered herself delicately. "Thats it," I directed her. "Just look over your shoulder at me like you did before. Now a tilt your head down slightly." I bit my lip in concentration and noticed I was sweating. I rose the camera to my eyes.
I took the picture, and as the flash washed over her skin, I could have sworn I saw the reflection of a goddess. 
A goddess, that I had fallen madly in love with. 
This is one of my main issues with the Catholic church. As a quaker, I believe it to be responsibility of the church to live by some kind of fiscal and moral transparency in the same way that the government must. Although I know that this is wishful, utopian thinking at the same time how can something so simple as not eating off of gold plates (which the vatican uses), and spending a couple extra dollars towards developing a school for needy children?
"Thank you for explaining all this to me, Mimi" said Izzy. "I feel really dumb for not knowing about it earlier."
"Its no problem!" she told him, giggling. "To be honest, I learned about it from girls magazines."
"You mean-"
"No, I’ve never had a boyfriend. How embarrassing is that!" Izzy turned away. "Oh no, I mean, for me, of course not for you, I mean-" She shut up. The silence filled the distance between them. 
"You know Izzy. I think its quite silly," she whispered. "All this talking." she rose to her knees and leaned forward towards him. "This is what it feels like". She leaned over and kissed him on the forehead. He blushed, feeling love warm his entire soul.
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If only you knew boy, how intimidated you make me feel because of your intelligence. I try to play it off, but at night I stay up reading encyclopedias in the hopes of knowing even a fraction of what you’ve learned~
【光ミミ】The Smile of You
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Much like myself, Rika put up tough facade because she was so afraid to love. Although a lot of people disliked her story line for her seeming so fake: this girl has it all and is still complaining. But I understand. A mother who is never there, and when she is thinks she can buy your love. A grandmother who is trying everything to reach you, but you just don’t know how to let her in properly. 
Rika. Thank you for opening my eyes.

Here we go! Renamon!  by かざみどり
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I saw him on the street today. I saw him on the street today and I quickly ducked into the doorway of Tasti D’Lite and began to stare intently at the M&M machine. I saw him, so I ducked and stared at those M&Ms like their hard exteriors would provide me with some kind of salvation. I was standing in Tasti D’Lite for about six minutes until I felt it was safe to continue my pedestrian existence.  I apologized to the cashier behind the counter, who at this point probably believed either I was completely strung out or had a miniature seizure at the sight of sixty pounds of brightly colored chocolate confections. As I stepped out back into the street I felt disoriented for a moment - unsure of where the hell I was going before the catastrophic almost collision. I shook my head and as the cloud rose I finally remembered where I was going - school. I had class in four minutes. I rushed to the building and sat through calculus in a haze. When I finally made it back to my apartment, I dropped my bag by the door. I ripped off my clothing, as if the cloth itself was burning through my flesh. I collapsed to my knees, running my fingers through my hair. I couldn’t understand why. Why I was forced to constantly hide and run and hide and run away from my past. I wished I could just sever my ties with it so it wouldn’t keep trailing behind me. As I fell forward into the grey depth of my rug, I whispered away my past, hoping it too would fade into the air around. Fade away. 
She just made me feel so…. warm. All the time. That kind of warmth that I never allowed from my adoptive parents. Why I kept myself distant from my new friends. But she made me realize that it was okay to feel this prodigious heat in my soul - that it has a name. Love.

【光ミミ】Happy Valentine’s Day.
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Riya’s Story 
I was once coming home from college, skating down the hill at the end of my school. I was rushing to catch a bus back home; it was my first semester and I couldn’t wait. To smell my house again. To pet my cat. To wake up and make pancakes for the two of us. Simple things that I became so used to over the long summer and found myself missing so desperately. I pushed faster, the power coursing through my veins and pumping the blood faster, faster. I pushed off against the concrete at the crest of the hill, and began to cascade down. I knew I was going too fast, and that the cars on this road made it perilous. But all I could think of was home, where he was. My fiancee. Nova. I pushed midway down and sealed my fate. My wheels, although huge, caught themselves in a tree branch which littered the New England roadway in September. I shut my eyes, waiting for the impact. It came. My board crashed into the shoulder rail and hung precariously, wheels still spinning. I rolled out, heard the rip of my pants as I slid down the asphalt on my right side. When the world finally stopped shaking, I rose my head, still nestled in between my arms. Cars had come to screeching halt, and people were nervously peeking out from their cars, thinking they had hit me. I picked up my board and finished walking down the hill, ignoring the warm rivets of blood that were trickling down to my sneakers. As I stumbled into CVS, I had to shake the warm daze that was clouding my mind. 
"Bandages" I commanded the cashier. She pointed down one of the many aisles and I dragged myself through it. I grabbed gauze, alcohol and an ace bandage, pulling threads from my Red Cross certification amidst the downpour of hormones in my mind. The adrenaline was wearing off, way too quickly now. I tore off the fabric from my shins and revealed a scraped knee on my left side and a huge gash on my right side. I poured the alcohol right there, catching it with paper towels on the ground. I quickly wrapped the leg and drank three aspirins, praying this would get my home. 
The bus pulled into the station. I had only a few blocks to walk now. As I gently lowered myself down the steps to our basement apartment, I rapped on the door frame. He opened the door, shocked.
"I didn’t know you were coming today!" he exclaimed.
"Surprise-" I whispered before sliding into his arms. 
When I woke up, I was on our bed and he was sponging the wound. His expert fingers watched their pressure. 
"Quite a number you did on yourself there, hun" he told me. My lips were parched, and I reached for water. He poured some on my tounge, and I let my head fall back down to the pillow. 
"Nova," I started. "Will you still find me beautiful?"  I looked up into his face pleadingly. 
He laughed, kissing my forehead. “Of course I will! You think a little scrape like this would make me love you less? Riya,” he whispered. “You’re my fiancee. I will always love you.”
It was the first day warm enough to go out without a jacket. Yoli pulled on her socks after phoning Ken to meet her at the base of the temple steps. Running outside through the shop, she called out to her mother that she’d be back in a few. He was already there, punctual as always. She smoothed out the creases in her skirt, and wished she had time to iron it out. He was always so perfect… she felt so, paltry next to him. But she shook her head. She felt the way he looked at her and knew that maybe today he would finally express the feelings he had for her. With poromon under her arm, she rushed up behind him, leaping onto his shoulders. 
"Oh!" he exclaimed. "Yoli! You startled me."
"Sorry Ken," she giggled. "I just get so happy in the spring"
"Me too," he admitted quietly. "It’s like everyone gets a fresh start. Including me."
She ignored his comment referring to the events of the past year and grabbed him by the hand, half dragging him up the steps. They reached the top of temple and went ovr to the platform which suspended over the cherry blossom garden below. 
"Oh Ken," she exclaimed, setting Poromon down. "Its more beautiful than I imagined!" Poromon extended his wings, letting the breeze ruffle his feathers."Not as beautiful as you."
Yoli turned to face Ken. “Ken,” she whispered. He grabbed her hand and pulled her close to him. They stared intently at each other, not as partners in saving the world this time but as something much deeper. Using his free hand, he tipped up her chin towards him and gently kissed her. She melted into everything - his kiss, the thick scent of cherry blossoms and the warm hints of summer on their skin. When she opened her eyes again, she saw Ken trembling, nervous.
"I’m sorry Yoli. That was so forward of me-"
"Oh Ken!" she laughed. "You’re such a dork!" and she pulled him to her and kissed him again.

It was spring by RW
My mother can’t swim. I can though. She was a constant observer of those in the water: sitting there on the concrete edge of the hotel pool, gently circling her ankles in the clear blue. I would paddle around once, dipping under before gently rising again. I would circle around and come to her. I would pout my lips before going under and scratching at the soft underbelly of her feet. Surfacing again I’d cry out: I’m a shark! Before going under again beneath a trail of bubbles. She’d smile and move her ankles faster, kicking up splashes of chlorine into the air like dew drops on blades of grass. 
Join me, I’d ask her. And once in a while, she’d wade into the shallow end, content only if the water was below her waist. I’d swim out far, dive down deep and rush back, creating waves around her ribs. 
My mom never learned to swim. I always wished she had.

Alex Prager.
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