Submissions are accepted on a regular basis, year-round.
Can include, short stories, essays, poetry and prose.
Must not exceed 3,000 words.
Must be written by a current ESA student, or alumni.
Submissions are accepted:

Thursday, 9 June 2016

La Cigarette by Sauvanne Margaux

I like the smell of cigarettes and autumn leaves in my hair. There is something terribly romantic about it. It reminds me of spices and rebel urges. I hate smoking but I love the smell of cigarettes embedded in my pores, threaded into my coat and mixed up in my hair. So I do it as a treat. A drag here and a drag there. Never enough to make me cough, just enough to make me feel a tad dizzy and get a mildly itchy throat. I once vowed I would never do it. Smoking seemed so out of line for me. I was the girl who dabbled in drugs, drank when she felt like it but NEVER smoked a cig… until I did. I didn’t choke and weaze the first time like most do. I just inhaled and exhaled in one smooth movement. ‘Godammit, why am I good at this?’’ I thought. ‘‘This is the last thing I need to be good at. I’d be better off being good at writing tests or answering trivia or saying the alphabet backwards. But smokin cigs? This is not what I want to be good at.’’ It was a confidence booster I did not need. This is what started my flirtatious relationships with cigarettes. Even the word is sexy. It’s french. Saying it slowly, letting it roll off your tongue is almost as seductive as the exhale you release when you have one in between your keen little fingers. La cigarette. I don’t crave one until it is in front of me. And even then not often. But when the desire overwhelms me I cannot ignore it. A cigarette is my secret lover. I know I should not be seeing her but every so often I simply cannot hold myself back. She is a terrible seductress, ask anyone who’s placed their lips to hers. She is acrid and addictive. A deadly combination, but a seductive one nonetheless. I always tell myself that I won’t ever have another but I have stopped caring. It is an indulgence I allow myself after a long week of school, or just a bloody bad day. What doesn’t kill you makes you…calmer? I don’t actually know if cigarettes make me calmer. But they make me forget. They make me lose perspective which I find I have too much of most of the time. Damn…I’d like a cigarette.

Spacecraft by Simon Van Heyst

The neighbour's lights are still on when I zip up the tent. Linda Robertson on channel four lied, it's raining. I wonder how many people she disappoints every day. A window is open, I can hear people talking. I wonder if they can see the tent over the fence. I feel like I'm in my space pod from a distant galaxy. I'm an alien that has landed on a strange planet. There is the sound of distant thunder: I get goosebumps, why? I think my body envisions that I'm in the climatic fight scene of an action movie: Linda is winning throughout but I ultimately triumph. I hear people having sex, probably the ones that were talking before. Music is still playing from the big house on the corner. The pretty boys and girls dress up and frame their bright faces with make up and alcohol. People look louder at night. He comes. What would my alien parents look like? Do they speak english? Do I subconsciously know an intergalactic dialect? A dog is barking. There are sirens in the distance. Dogs probably know the language too. The smell of weed: probably from the lips of the pretty boys and girls. A door opens, the same two. "Let's go somewhere but not with me, introduce me to your insides please." My space pod is not water proof. How will I ever make it back home. I have the undeniable urge to leave and never come back. 

Untitled by Rachel C Campbell

Three of us got off the bus at one stop. The announcer was broken so the driver had to yell out the names of the stops, but he couldn’t pronounce them very well. Kept tripping over the consonants surrounding the vowels, kept forgetting if it was a ‘Street’ or a ‘Road’, ‘Lane’ or otherwise. 
“Alright, Hibben Str-Road.” He sighs, “Sorry, folks. Hibben Boulevard.”
The man got off first. Shiny black hair caught the light, the wind entering the bus didn’t even ruffle the slicked back strands. I was about to leave the top seats but the other woman got in my way. She rushed towards the door, slapping her pockets, and turning back for a chrome device left on the seat. As she returns to her seat, I slip in front of her and she hardly notices, oblivious to my movements, caught in her own waves. Three of us got off the bus at one stop, leaving four or more people with the bus driver with halting speech. 
We turn left at the corner, not having to wait for the light. After crossing the empty road, we turn left, passing the bars full of old men with nothing better to do than chain-smoke and drink on a Thursday night. They litter the street with white flecks of butts, and I think of the small animals who will be tricked into eating them. The salon lights are out, but the photos of tight curls and styles that wouldn’t survive past the front door illuminate the windows well enough. Passing the entrance to the cemetery, and the tall mausoleum, black gates and railing line the pavement, behind it shadowed gravestones line the grass. The final building is an optician’s store. It opened up about a week ago, the white space is filled with empty glass cabinets, with no eye glasses. At this, the man turns left. So do I, I’m surprised. I’ve never seen him before, but I’m normally home at this point in the evening. The click of the woman’s heels behind me don’t fade as I had expected them to, but follow me down the road. 
The moon is above us in the sky but always appears slightly ahead, the mix of houses on the street seem more pushed back than they were before, shaded more darkly by the trees than usual. Looking once more at the moon, I notice that the telephone wires are higher than normal. Or I am lower than normal. Feeling my heart in my shrinking body, I get the funny image that the three of us; the man, the woman and I, are little ducklings. Following our mother moon home. The man’s black hair turns yellow under a streetlight, his face’s shadow is intercepted by a branch and I see him as a fluffy yellow brother. The woman trips. She doesn’t fall, but the noise shocks me. Looking up again, I see the man, hair black as before. You could have been my brother, I want to tell him. His lighter flicks, head bowed, smoke exhaled, I could have loved you. Behind me, my could-be sister’s steps are quick. She is worried, her nervous walk following me, but keeping the same pace and distance all the while. What would help you? I want to ask her, If I knew you, if you trusted me, what could I do? Would she need a cup of tea, a nice talk, a good night out? Does she keep a journal, or have a best friend on speed dial, does she need anyone? My bag is heavy on my back, pushing me down and forward, to talk to the man and ask why his hair is so thickly covered in gel, ask what kind of person he is and would like to be. My thoughts overbalance and my mind topples back to the woman and how she could let me help her, how I could slow her pace and make her relax. 
I become frustrated. Awkward. We all know the other exists. We know that we each have a reason to be walking up this long road, had a reason we were on that particular bus, knew that we passed drunk old men, obnoxious posters of hair, a shadowy cemetery and an optician’s with no glasses but too many glass cases. I wanted so badly to talk to them, yell at them. We were breathing the same air, passed down our silent line, we knew each other existed and we did nothing. Ready to shake them, I looked up at the power lines flying higher, the moon edging away from us, ashamedly hiding behind a cloud from her quiet children. Feeling smaller and smaller, blood vessels shrinking, thoughts growing quieter, fingers tingling, toes buzzing. 

I cross the road. 

'Til Death Do Us Part by Spencer Cetinic

My father used to tell me that “fortune favors the bold.” What a load of bullshit. A more appropriate pearl of wisdom might’ve been; "The bold are always the first to die." But seeing as my father never once pried that particular pearl out of its shell, there I was on a sunny August morning, biking with my girlfriend down Maple Street with a little black box in my pocket, trying to be bold. 

My family had set up a banner back at my place that read, 'Will you marry me, Marie?' and I was trying to get myself into the right mind frame to ask the question. I was ostensibly attempting to play it cool while my fearful cynicism battled it out with the man I wanted to be over whether or not that little black box was going to see the light of day.

Marie was quiet for most of the ride; perhaps she sensed my inner turmoil. She had a knack for knowing when I was about to do something bold, and I figured that she knew what I was about to do.

We made some small talk, biking side by side, and then stopped for lunch. I keep thinking that if we hadn't stopped, none of these events would have transpired, but that just leads to a string of 'what if?' loaded questions that eat away at you until there's nothing left but a poor excuse for a life. 

I had a hot turkey sandwich while Marie had fries and a chocolate milkshake. I vividly remember that we had shared a laugh over lunch, something at the expense of the manager. That was quite possibly the last laugh we had shared before it happened, and would remain the last laugh we would share for the rest of our lives. What if we had ordered to go? What if I had released the little black box from its prison without the weak pretext of a lunch and bike ride? Would I be married, and live happily forever after?

But then again, those are just more of those ‘what if’ questions.

As we had approached my house, I felt the realization of what I was going to have to do, and my hands had begun to sweat profusely. I realized a second too late that my chain had stuck, and I leaned over my bike and looked down at it. My bike locked and as I leaned to my side, my sweaty hands began to wobble on the now spongy handlebars and before I could regain my balance I wiped out, falling left, towards the road. I looked up at Marie as I fell, noticing her, the trees, the houses, and that beautiful blue August sky all at once swirling into a staccato myriad of images superimposed into my eyes on my interminable decent toward the gravel below me. Incredibly, I wasn’t too badly hurt. Not then. Marie got off her bike, and ran into the middle of the road, helping me to my feet, hysteria bubbling. The hysteria was hers, not mine. I was in a state of calm detachment with a little surrealism thrown in for good measure and I wanted to stay there.
 We had been halfway around one of the sharper turns of the ride and I heard a rumble on the other side, and then a moment later we saw that it was a blue Buick, and it flew around the bend at 80 kilometers per hour. 
We had had about five seconds to get out of the way. My heart had quickened; everything had been in slow-motion. Those five seconds seemed like an eternity. 
The car made impact at 65 kilometers per hour.

"We're going to pull the plug." A voice said but I barely heard it. I tried to scream but couldn't. I felt like thrashing, of trying to leave. Instead I remain motionless, without even the strength to cry. "Say your goodbyes," said the watery voice.
I concentrated on the feeling of Marie's hand faintly on top of mine; everything else was meaningless. Memories flooded into my mind of better times; we had never considered mortality. In a way, I suppose, we would live on in the memories of each other and all the people we had met. Marie's hand was slipping away. It was time, but I wasn't ready.

This all seems to reminded me of a story I was once taught in Sunday school. Two farmers die on the same day. The first farmer had always had good crop seasons, and when he needed rain, he did nothing but pray, and he always got water. The second farmer though, he always had bad crop seasons, and he had devised systems to get himself water, like tapping into the rivers and making wells, but they never worked. The second farmer refused to move away from his lands. As they come into heaven, the two farmers talk to each other, walking to the gates. The second farmer becomes outraged at how easily the first had been able to live his life. Now, you see, the first farmer just strolls past god into heaven, nodding dumbly at him. But the second one, he turns and says;
"Why'd you make me work for the water and not him?" 
And then God turns to him and says,
"Because you tried to beat nature."

It's funny how sometimes those who don't try are given everything and those who do are given nothing. Some would call the events that unfold in a certain person’s life fate: something unavoidable, unbeatable, and everlasting. They would tell you that no matter what I had done, nature would have run its course and the same outcome would have ultimately occurred. 
The car drove at us at 80 kilometers per hour, and Marie was ready for it. I had had five seconds, to do anything to get out of the car's way. 
I froze.
Don't ask me why; if I had to speculate I'd say I was paralyzed by fear. Maybe I thought there was no way to escape. Marie did, however, tugging at my shirt, pleading me to move. I looked over and saw her screaming, struggling face. I remember the repeated tugging clearly; remembered that she had been trying to pull me off the road and onto the grass, past the sidewalk. I remember focusing on the car, watching as the driver careened quickly towards us, totally oblivious to our situation. How he could not have seen the two of us, I’ll never know.
Unfortunately for us, it was a big road, and I wasn’t budging. A few moments before impact the driver seemed to become aware of us and attempted to swerve out of the way and to the right towards Marie’s side of the road, though at that point she wasn’t even watching the car; her eyes transfixed on mine with a look of fear and frustration. Marie grabbed my hand and tried to pull me one more time. I wouldn't budge. The car swerved to the right and missed me by two or three inches, and Marie turned back to face the car, noticing it’s alignment with where she was standing. In the last moment, I turned and looked at Marie's face again; that look of fear. Below it though, I thought I almost noticed a sort of anger, a small resentment.
"Why'd you make me work for the water and not him?"
I squeezed her hand as the truck cleared me. It was ripped away from mine.

My mind struggled to process what had happened. I felt the black box still in my pocket and so I drew it out and opened it up. The diamond inside shone beautifully, tauntingly brilliant and a constant reminder of everything that would not be. I placed the open box on the dresser and forced myself to look up at her. 
Marie was in bad shape, with all kinds of tubes and an IV sticking out of her, and I felt a small tear forming around the corner of my left eye. 
I picked up her hand, but it was already going cold. Squeezing it once more, I dropped it, turned around and walked away. 

I couldn't bring myself to look back.

12:00 by Simon Van Heyst

lay low kingdom
endlessly pink,
heavy with
the silent charms of
human wreckage
and long burning

polaroid kisses

Yesterday by Olivia Mokryzcki

Pale eye or deep brown or red eye or no eye.
To see what we're supposed to see.
People were wandering, loving and dancing, singing, crying, holding each other, feeding each other,
Like individual Suns, heating the earth
Yesterday I noticed neon signs above their heads
So bright you'd see them before you knew who they were mounted upon
Yesterday people stopped sleeping
Body's would chat all night
On their stomachs with their shaky arms propping up their giant heads
Rolling eyes to the beat of chattering teeth overtop their heavy comments
And in the mornings new signs were placed on top of the old
Till kind bodies were weighed down by a foreign sticky spit of names

Yesterday mirrored surfaces were placed all over the city
For bodies to watch their bulging eyes and cheeks and spotted chins and pig noses. All things on bulky heads with shrivelled brains, unprofessional, unkept, old, young, unintelligent, irrelevant, inexperienced, unsuitable hulking heads on too thin and boney, wrinkly, stretchy or swollen and broad bodies. All things to compare and contrast in bathroom mirrors and even the backs of spoons at dinner tables.
Yesterday they all became the same.
With dragging sickness
Drugged, giving into an impractical image
Hoping to spark out their neon signs
Hoping to be the right body
To fit the wrong earth
I see bodies made to move in different skins
Fighting with themselves
Against their marks and guts

They’d love to be left alone
In tranquil space
To make their own
To each a face
To each a thought
A body

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Sparkling Blue
Emily Parker

I see the heavy iron bars that shut in this little girl—Does no one else?
Responsibilities trap her like the thick iron bars of a cell,
blocking all my light.
She waits patiently, following the guidance
Of her parents, her teachers, who tell her
This is what she must endure to be freed.
This is what to do, they tell her, to have the freedom
To pursue your dreams. Just like us. Yet they do not look free.
The girl sees an even thicker cage surrounding them.

(Little girl, do you really want this?)

The girl sits on a stack of textbooks
And counts the minutes as they pass.
How much longer will she have to stay in this prison?
How much more studying will she have to do until she is freed?
The grand piano looms like a silent shadow in the corner.
Now and then, papers fly up into the air
On a draft of wind leaking in from the barred window.

(Little girl, do you really want this?)

I long to give her paradise.
The girl moves to the window and peers outside.
For a few moments, my sunlight blinds her, but eventually she can see—
Sparkling blue lake, surrounded by vibrant green brush.
This is a place where stress cannot reach. Responsibility does not exist here.
For a while, the little girl believes she is there.
She feels my warm rays on her fair skin, inviting her to stay forever.
She hears forlorn cries of birds, like beautiful sorrowful music. She loves music.
This is where she wants to be, where she can escape the iron weight,
Where she can escape everything that seems to be her life now.

She doesn’t know how to continue. She is done being patient.
She should let her lungs breathe in the waters of the lake,
Feel herself gently drifting into its darkness.
Nothing could reach her.

(Little girl, would you really want this?)

The black water would surround her like a shell,
blocking vision, sound, paralyzing her senses.
I would not be able to reach her here.
Nor would she ever hear music,
Feel the deep passion she has for it,
Be with her family and friends, whom she loves so deeply,
See all the beauty that awaits her in the world.

(Little girl, do you really want this?)

This room, this precious room, holds all the things that make her happy.
And the iron bars hold up the walls.
Now the little girl dusts off the piano.
She touches the keys and remembers a beautiful melody.
She begins to play, and as she presses the ivory keys,
I shine in through the window and touch her face.
She travels to a place with
sparkling blue lake, surrounded by vibrant green brush,
A place where stress cannot reach.

A Sense of Direction
Sophie Currie

Life is but a series of roads
A maze of dead ends
And paths overgrown
People who search
For yellow brick stone
Skip skipping blindly
To make-believe homes

But who’s to say
There’s a way out
With no end in sight
It’s easy to doubt
A sense of direction
One must go without
Feeling the fractures
From where mosses sprout

Following footsteps
Like feet in the sand
But when the tides come
The road meets an end
On dark boulevards
Reflected light bends
Mistaking mirages
For shadows of friends

Maybe it is the mystery
That traps lonely hearts
And trips the carefree
But sooner or later
The fog leaves the streets
Life is not a destination
But a journey

Tiana McGee-Stone

Some tread carefully upon the rocky path,
others stomp harshly.
No one thinks to stray from the path.
No one is willing to take the risk, to travel through the murky waters,
bringing them to the astonishing waterfall.
To jump into the dark depths,
down towards the mesmerizing wildlife.
No one will even try.
They miss natures' beauty.
All because of one thing.
The unknown.