By Brian Rivera
"... We rented a room the color of mint ice cream in Ciudad Juárez. The room had a black rooftop and was equipped with a bathroom. We used the living room as a bedroom and our kitchen was a sink inside a narrow hallway. The living room took up most of our living space. ..."
By Susanna (Whitmore) Fránek
"... Yet I couldn’t keep my mind off the photograph of Peter and Lettie Mae, most likely taken when they first met or had just married – the union of two cultures that was just beginning to mix and create what became Los Angeles. ..."
By Milton Alex Chi
"... they made a circle around my bed and as they held hands they thanked God for my life and prayed for my health. I remember then being lifted from the bed. It was like I had wings beneath me and as they flapped they reflected a silver light with a white glow. I felt the air flowing under me as I rose. ..."
By Sarah Alvarado
" ... I hate this drought. I hate being lost. And I hate San Bernardino. Everywhere is dusty and alone and sad but here I am, because I love my dad. My dad knows what it is to be San Bernardino. He knows what it is to be alone and sad. ..."
By Jacqueline Gonzalez Reyes
"...Then one day she called home and no one answered.
She called from different phones. Still no answer. She kept calling. She waited six months and went to Mexico. In her town, her mother told her that her kids now ran away from her when they saw her. ..."
By Diego Renteria
"... above the mantelpiece was a large framed portrait of a boy no more than twelve years old. He looked down on everyone, eternally smiling for a school portrait, his hair spiky and clad in a gray school polo shirt. On a nearby stool were a backpack and some toys. On the mantelpiece was an unwrapped tamal, a glass of milk, and two cookies. The couches were arranged to face his portrait.
I knew what song they would request and secretly hoped I was wrong. ..."
By Johnathan Quevedo
"...Then my car's transmission went out, so I had to take the train to work. I had to be there at 6 am.
One day, I was walking to the Blue Line station in Compton, when an SUV with four Latino gang members passed me as I was at the intersection. The passenger held a gun out the window and said, "Don't move, motherfucker!" They were talking directly to me, as if they knew me personally. ..."
By Milovan Pompa
"...In the ninth, I got the first out but the second hitter singled and stole second base. One of their best hitters was up. He had hit me hard earlier.
The count was two and two. It had been a little windy that night, though not anything to notice. I start to deliver my pitch. The wind picked up and a mini dust-devil funnel cloud about two feet tall suddenly spun right on home plate. ..."
By Richard Gatica
"...The absence of water in the toilet creates a powerful vacuum. Air from the cell is sucked into the drain. We do not have to communicate through the vent any more. We can hear each other through the drain, although there is a slight echo and hollow sound. By habit, some people will keep their toilet devoid of water while not in use. ..."
By Theresa Asiedu
"...The sun was shining, the fresh mountain breeze was gently touching my skin and I still had the scent of pink blossoming hibiscus flowers in my nose.
My stepfather popped in and out of our lives trying to maintain control of our family. He would yell at everything, from the house that was never tidy enough to the food that didn't suit his taste. ..."
By Matthew Garcia
"... I hear the screech of the tires and the smell of rubber burning. My head then hits the windshield and my sight goes black for a second. My body flip upside down as if I were on a roller coaster. The car isn’t done with me. It is as if the car grows arms and grabs me and spins me around -- just as in wrestling where after being spun around you get slammed into the ground. My body is tossed to the side. Silence. The car takes off.
‘’Don't leave me here I don't deserve this,’’ I say. ..."
Recently, I did writing workshops with students at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton. The results were powerful, if sometimes even disturbing, stories of real life and real moments. Read "Joe," a startling story of a misplaced word and its effect on a man...
By Gina Reyes
"...Joe was my shoulder to cry on. He was my companion to keep me occupied. He was there for me to kill time and help me keep my mind from getting stuck in a rut. We would lie around making jokes, laughing, playing spades over and over, and having a fun time together to pass time.
In the time we spent together, we built a stronger bond that turned into a love that was unmistakably precious.
He was willing to accept me and my unborn child, as well as the child I already had. He was willing to support us knowing he was not the father. ..."
Earlier this fall, I did a writing workshop with students in Pedro Ramirez's composition class at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton.
The results, I think, were terrific, if many of the stories were a bit grim. I'm publishing a few of them over the next few weeks. Here's "The Last Day"....
By Christian Lockwood
I once had a house with a white picket fence. In it, I lived with a wife, and two children. Life seemed pretty good. But the shell shock from a tour in Libya fighting the war on terrorism tore me up, and drugs and alcohol became a way of life from which I could not free myself.
That is how one warm August day in 2009, well into my self-medication, I awake on the seat of my pickup after another night of no place to rest my head. My pickup, my dog Batman, and my cell phone are all I have left. My wife and kids have been embarrassed by me for the last time. ...
By Darshay Smith
"...My mom and I were reunited nine days after her release and she was excited to see me.
From the surgeries her vocal chords had gotten deeper. Her voice was like a grown man’s and it would take a year and a half for it to get back to normal. She picked me up and held me tight. I screamed because I didn’t know who she was. She couldn’t let me go. She cried every day until her voice came back and I finally recognized her....
By Sam Quinones
"... With my jingle going loud, I didn't hear him come up. "Hey, you!”
Next to me was another ice cream truck. Sitting in the springy driver's seat, which was begging for mercy, sat an enormous squat white man, with a cap, a mustache and a scraggly beard. His belly-button peeked out from beneath a faded blue t-shirt. ... `This is my town. I'm going to dust your ass of the road.'..."
He roared off. As I watched him go, I said to myself, `There goes Big Al.’
By Anthony L. Quinones
"... The lights went down and the curtain started to open. Then the announcer came over the sound system. Due to having performed for underprivileged children of Washington D.C. earlier in the day, he said, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Gelsey Kirkland will not perform tonight’s ballet. Instead, they will be replaced by their understudies -- a Mr. Bujones and a Ms. Van Hamel.
The audience went wild. A man two rows in front of our group stood up and shook his fist. The Japanese ambassador, who was sitting in the presidential box, walked out in protest, with his entourage in tow. ..."
By Richard Gatica
"...The day before I killed Donald Evans I did not even know he existed. The day he died I was smoking crack cocaine and when I smoke crack, nothing else matters. Not family, not friends – not even God. ...
At the time, I was out of money and robbing drug dealers on the streets of Los Angeles. ..."
By David Lee Caudill
"...I never got to hunt with my father. As far back as I can remember I would watch my father, along with his brothers and their father, come home from a hunting trip. They would show off their deer, explaining every detail that led to the kill. Then they would describe how the deer feel, how far he had run after the shot. I was never there for the fall, the shot, the first step into the woods before the sun sparkled on the frostbitten fields of tall grass and dormant wheat. But I was always there when they came home. ..."
By Frank Deese
"...Karen seemed to get what Min Thant meant while I stood nearby distracted by the round alluring eyes of Phoebe Cates, wondering what could possibly merit her poster being the only decoration on the bare walls of this dirt-floored Burmese home. Phoebe Cates was certainly pretty and spank-worthy enough for Judge Reinhold in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” – but why would Min’s family worship her like a foreign goddess? ..."