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Summer COVID Writings 2020

Page history last edited by michianawriterscenter@... 1 year, 4 months ago

What have we been doing during COVID?


Enjoy the amazing work of local young authors




                         The Inventor by Dessie Mikels-Carrasco


     Hunched over his Legos, he stares intently at his work. Eyes narrowed in concentration.

     “What are you working on?”  I ask.

      He contemplates me for a second, his deep chocolate eyes unblinking and measuring, like a lizard stalking its prey. He begins to explain his project, his skinny arms wave energetically as he talks, pointing at his creation, and miming what it will do when completed. His curly to the roots, dusty brown hair bounces as he moves. Spare curls falling into his lightly freckled face, he brushes them back with a spare hand; his nails in desperate need of cleaning. His forever smudged glasses catch the light, obscuring his eyes for a moment as he talks - beaming with pride over his invention. He smiles when he finishes explaining, his pink lips turning up at the ends; the dimple on his left cheek becoming prominent. His smile reveals a missing tooth and the small silver band that exposes his retainer. As I get up to leave he turns back to his project, humming a song of his own devising, happy with his work. 




Lunch with Friends by Dominic Vitale-Richards


A sad tune from Rent plays in my mind, 160 and 180, equals 340 lunches over two years.

We Three Caballeros, aka The Supremes, sit on one end of the cafeteria table. 

Beside us, The Secretaries, three more that signed on to be assistants to our leadership. 

(Whispering the tune to Friends on the Other Side- Dr. Facilier from the movie The Princess Frog.)mThe Normals sit on the other side, they call us the OWO-Clan.

An anonymous group of band friends completes the party,

making for a rather eclectic association of seventh-grade boys.


Navigating the obstacle course of the hallways from Schmitt’s to Sayer’s, I straightway to the cafeteria. 

I’m usually the first one there by a millisecond.

Inconspicuously, we sit initially in silence, moments of awkward solitude.

Formulating who will say what first or in comeback. 

Typically, its Carlos or Garrett who breaks the ice with something shockingly inappropriate to get us all laughing. 

We sit in the back and our table is first to go get sustenance most days.

The Barbie Doll table is next. Some call them the Drama Queens.

They have a different boyfriend (demonic voice) EVERY SINGLE DAY!

They play those boys like a game of Go-Fish, one after another.

It’s hard to stand in front of them in line because they are like a group of annoying turkeys, gobbling and squawking, scrabbling to be one-up on each other.

We boys have learned the hard way to not talk or horseplay or we’ll be sent to the wall, a warning, waiting in humiliation until the last. 

So we ignore the Barbies, avoiding being sucked into their riff-raff-rafter.

Back at the table, betting on lunches. 

We bet earlier who the teacher will call on in class, loser pays at lunch! 

A deck of cards for a beloved game of Food Poker, I reign victorious.

From our gentleman’s agreement called a Friend-Debt, the winner gets to choose from the medium and lower-level items. 

Generally, I choose the win-win option.

I prefer not to swindle my friends, lunch is a sacred thing. 

Laughing at things that 13-year-old boys feel humorous, Mrs. Taylor appeared and Garrett got detention for wheezing. 

When called out, he said it was a normal bodily-function, and therefore got an extra detention. 

As soon as she turned her back, we were back to laughing. 

At least we didn’t get busted for what we were laughing at in the first place.



Tell the Wolves I'm Home (Screenplay excerpt) by Lauren DeBew


Two teenage girls, JUNE and GRETA sit silently, and frozen in place, behind a canvas on an easel. Their uncle FINN, a worryingly skinny young man, sickly in appearance, is painting their portrait. His clothes all appear to be far too big for his frail and fragile frame, and his pants are held up by a bright green necktie.


(looking up to the girls, paintbrush in midair)

Won't be long now

Requiem by Mozart floats in over all the beautiful things in Finn's apartment. June's eyes flicker all across them as she sits. The soft Turkish carpet below her feet, the old silk top hat hanging by the door, and a big, vintage mason jar filled to the brim with guitar picks. There's a label on the front of it that reads "Guitar Pickles".

FINN: (voice a dry whisper)

(turning the easel around to face his nieces)

Take a closer look girls (clearing his throat) Danni, you too, come and have a look

June and Greta's mother, DANNI, is making tea in the kitchen. She doesn't reply.


Come on just for a second. I want to see what you think.


Later. I'm in the middle of something.

Finn continues to stare longingly into the kitchen, sighing with disappointment when Danni still does not appear. Finn stands then, wincing in pain for a moment before steadying himself.


(stretching her arms above her head) Thank God for that

June stares at the portrait as Finn approaches her, tilting her head in concentration.


It's not done... is it?

Finn glances down at June with a slight smile, and then back up at the portrait, squinting, and leaning in close.


(shaking his head)

 No. Not quite. Do you see? There's something missing. Maybe something in the background. What do you think?


(struggling to hold back a smile) 

I think so too. I think we should come back a few more times.

Finn rubs his sickly pale hand across his sickly pale forehead.


Yeah. A few more.

Greta, having had her back turned to the pair, suddenly swings around in a flash, holding a thing of mistletoe above their heads. Finn and June both glance up at it, and then back at each other. June's face is stark with fear. Finn smiles comfortingly, and places a light, barely there kiss, to the top of June's head.


June stands in the dimly lit shower, scrubbing her hair out with shampoo until she's afraid her scalp will bleed. She then climbs out, wraps herself in a towel, and steps into the hallway. Greta is already there, staring down at her phone as she walks to her bedroom.


Greta? Do you think you can catch AIDS from hair?

Greta shrugs, and disappears behind her bedroom door.

June wraps her hair up tightly in a towel, and crawls into bed.


Greta and June stand side by side at the bus stop at the end of their street, waiting for their school bus.


Greta, why don't you come to uncle Finn's on Sunday's anymore?


(staring down out at the street) He's only doing the background now. He doesn't need all three of us there. Plus I've got better things to do with my Sunday afternoon.


Like what?


(turning to face June, a smug look on her face) Things you can't even imagine.


(sarcastically) Yeah right.

Greta groans in annoyance, and moves as far away from June as possible. June's phone dings loudly then, a timer reading "Tax season" going off.


(calling over to Greta) Hey! It's orphan season again! We're orphans!

Greta glanced over, entirely unimpressed.


Oh the drama of it all June. Our well paid accountant parents have to work late. Get over it.

Greta spins around, keeping her back to June until the bus comes.


The setting is a year or so earlier, June and her mother Danni sit in a booth at Denny's, waiting for their order. Without June asking, her mother passes her some quarters, and tells her to pick out a song on the jukebox.


Something good, okay? Something happy.

June, unknowing of the conversation they are about to have, chooses the Ghostbusters theme song.


(on the verge of tears) June



Ghostbusters begins playing loud.


Finn's dying, June.

As June sits silently, her mind reeling with questions, the waitress appears, setting her order of Lemon Mirange pie down in front of her.


What kind of dying?

June's mother, unable to speak, traces her finger across the linoleum table, spelling out A-I-D-S. Once she's written it, she rubs it away with the palm of her hand.



The pie sits there untouched, taunting June. She eats the pie quickly, and presses her ear to the speak of the jukebox, trying to forget everything but the croon of Ray Parker Jr.'s voice singing about ghosts.



In the present day, Greta is sitting at her desk in the corner, painting her nails. Alternating between black and purple. June watches her from the edge of Greta's unmade bed.


It won't be much longer, you know. With Finn.


(scoffs) Of course I know. I knew Uncle Finn was sick way before you knew anything.


Then why won't you come with us?

Greta screws the cap back on her nail polish, putting it back and replacing them with a bright red bottle. She pulls her knees up to her chest, and begins to paint her toes.


Because he's gonna finish that painting one way or another. And you know as well as I do that if he could have, he wouldn't have even put me in the portrait at all. It would just be his darling little Junie, all on her own.


(defensively) Finn's not like that.


(snapping her eyes to meet June, her tone harsh) Whatever June, it's not like I even care. It doesn't matter. Any day now, that phone will ring, and you'll find out that Finn's dead and then you'll have a whole world of Sundays to worry about. What'll you do then? Huh? It doesn't matter anymore. One Sunday more or less. Don't you even know that?

June sits in shock, utterly speechless. Greta slams down the bottle of red polish on her bookshelf, and exhales sharply, flexing her freshly painted toes. She looks up at June again.


What? Stop staring at me like that.


June is home alone, sitting at the kitchen table doing geology homework, when the phone begins to ring. June answers.


Mrs. Elbus?

The voice is blurry, watery.




Oh. Right. Sorry. Is Mrs. Elbus there?


She's not home right now. Can I take a message?

There is a long pause.


June? Is this June?

June pales with concern, pulling the phone away from her ear, and staring, puzzled, down at the reliever.


(speaking quickly) Call back later.

She hangs up. A few moments later, the phone rings again. June doesn't answer it, just sits frozen at the counter until the answering machine picks it up. It's that same voice again.


I'm sorry. I'm really sorry if I frightened you. I'm ringing about your Uncle. Uncle Finn in the city... I'll try back later. That's all. Sorry.

Realization dawn's on June then. That her Uncle Finn is gone. She knows that he's gone. She stands up slowly, and pours the rest of her Yoohoo down the sink. She slowly, and hesitantly , dials Finn's number. She knows it by heart. It rings twice, before the call is picked up.


(desperately) Finn?

There's no answer.


(her voice breaking) Finn?

The same voice from before sounds through the speaker.


I...I'm afraid not. He's not...

June hangs up the phone with a slam, and runs up to her bedroom, cocooning herself in her blankets, and plugging her ears tightly. She doesn't cry. She just closes her eyes, and pretends she is something ancient, and entombed. When she hears the back door open, she plugs her ears even harder, so she doesn't have to hear that horrible voicemail all over again.


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