Check out the 2017-18 YAC Zine by clicking the image above. It will take you to a PDF download link. Happy summer reading from the YACs.
To read the novel PORPHYROPHOBIA by the 2016-17 class of Young Authors Collective, click here. (You can download it as a PDF.)
The fuzzy socks that lived in the armoire persisted off of chocolate chip cookies. They would sneak down at night, one at a time, using their sticky bottoms to propel themselves by lifting up their middles. The chocolate chip cookies were held in a bag in one of the lower cabinets, which the socks opened with their top parts, putting a cookie in there to take up to their families.
The fuzziest sock always went first. For many years, that was a purple, extra-large wool one who had lost its partner years ago. When the humans noticed, they threw it out, which then lead to a civil war between the socks who wanted to install a democracy and the ones who were fine with the system of the fuzziest first and in charge.
If the humans noticed the excess fuzz and lint on the ground, they didn’t attribute it to their thinning socks. But, no matter how thin the socks got, or how fuzzy the battles that day had been, the two sides always came to a truce in order to retrieve the cookies.
In the end, after much fuzz was shed, the socks who were in support of the old system won, and the new leader because a grey women’s sock. It still lead the charge every night, from the armoire where the socks were kept, down the wall, across the bedroom carpet and kitchen room hardwood, to the lower cabinet where the cookies were held.
It went on like this for years, with no human ever noticing the socks move or the missing cookies. It went on all the way until the family split apart and moved away, taking half of the socks to a house with tile floors, where they were barely needed, and a house with painted wood, where they were worn every day.
Even then, the socks continued. The ones in the hardwood house had a hard time finding the cookies, searching every corner of the house until they eventually gave up and starved off, one by one. The ones in the tile house found them eventually, in a cabinet underneath the sink, but even there, they weren’t as steady of a supply as they used to be.
As if to add insult to injury, the socks in the tile house were further split up. They were displayed one day, while humans walked among them, picking them up, feeling them in their hands. One by one, they were picked up and taken off, and the remainder were thrown out.
When my sister wore her bathing suit and swam, I wore mine and swam with her. When she wore her Harvard sweatshirt and went around town, I wore a dress from a thrift shop and followed her. When she wore a hospital gown and laid in a bed, I wore my pajamas and laid in my bed. When she wore a long black dress and laid in a casket, I wore my evening dress and sipped a martini.
The summer I was twenty-five, I rented an apartment without looking at it. It hadn’t required a down payment, nor any additional time before renting it. My old landlord was evicting me at the end of the week, so it was that apartment or the street.
Or maybe I could move back in with my mother, if I could find her. She’d gotten in the habit of sending me old-fashioned postcards in the language of the country she was in, each one. I have never learned to read any of the languages, so I’m not sure why she bothered. I’m pretty sure that she had never learned them either, based on the number of times “ابنة” was  printed, over and over again. Besides, my mother never seemed to be the type to learn other languages.
So, off to the apartment I was. It was only on the day I moved in, when the smiling reception lady asked who I was there to see that I realized how out of place I was.
The apartment was nice, though. It was filled with light, painted in pastel colors. The rules, though, drove me crazy. I had to be in bed by nine and couldn’t play any music or have too many people over.
I worked much more that summer. Mostly that was because every time I went home, there were several old ladies who talked at me about the old times, rambling and rambling without a point.
One of them, who only came up to my chest, muttered something in French every time I passed her in the hallway. She lived just two doors down from me.
The French bothered me. More than one boy had tried to flirt with me in French because of my overly French last name, but I didn’t speak a word of it.
It also reminded me of those infernal postcards that my mother kept sending me in languages I didn’t speak. One of them had a picture of the sun rising over a non-descript beach resort. It was postmarked from Malaga, Spain. And, naturally, it was written in Spanish, even though I couldn’t get past ¿Comó estás?
La madrugada aquí está despampanante. Viviré aquí por dos mesas más, y, después, moveré a marruecas. Espero que estás bien. Veo que tú estás en chicago ahora. Es una ciudad muy especial. Nunca te dijo este, pero yo nació en chicago, hace muchos años. Por favor, me escribes una carta en repuesta.
Con besos y abrazos
The day that postcard arrived, I went out to the post office to check the mail. The receptionist usually delivered the mail to the old ladies, but I figured I should save her the trouble. Besides, I didn’t need my mail delivered to me, just like how I didn’t need the on-call paramedics or the 24-hour reception.
I was walking back to my apartment, postcard in hand, when I noticed that the door two doors down from mine, that of the old French lady, was open.
There were a few young men going in an out and the door kept opening and shutting. I went into my apartment to set the mail down, and then I went over to talk to one of them.
The woman who always spoke French to me was dead. They were having an estate sale, as she had no family.
Barely an hour later, and they were ready. I went in. All of her stuff was arranged in neat rows, although there wasn’t very much of it. Most of it was old lady junk, sneakers and porcelain figurines.
There were also a few old photo albums, which I was surprised by, as they had said the old lady had no family.
Three volumes were full of pictures of a bright-eyed baby. A girl, who grew up to have long, lanky limbs and pale skin. It wasn’t until the very last picture of the album, a very faded, brownish one that I realized I recognized her. The picture showed her, now a young woman, in a short dress, surrounded by a few other young men and women. One of the men was wearing a brown leather jacket and had one arm around her.
Her. The daughter of the lady who spoke French to me. My mother.
After that, I felt stupid for not recognizing her earlier. She had very distinctive eyes, and they were present in every photo, looking levelly at the camera.
Next to the table with the photo albums, there was a cardboard box of postcards. They looked like the ones she was sending me now, more like paintings than photos, each one written in a different language.
Out of curiosity, I starting looking at the dates. My mother had sent one every month for a few years, then slowed down to one per six months, then one a year, then one every two years, then they stopped all together.
I sat down on the floor of that small room, feeling my breathing in and out. Maybe all of those times the old lady had tried to stop me in the hallway, she was trying to tell me this. Maybe she knew I was her granddaughter. And maybe not. I would never know, now.
I stood up, wondering what to do. I could try to claim my grandmother’s stuff. But I didn’t really want it.
So, instead, I just put the photo albums in the box of postcards. Then, I walked down to my apartment and set them instead the door.
I looked a little longer at the postcard my mother had sent me. An idea occurred to me, so I walked back, two doors down, and bought one of the language dictionaries that my grandmother had stacked on her bookshelf.
Then, I went down to the post office and bought a card with pastel colors.
Hola I started. Estoy bien.
The dawn here is stunning. I will live here for two more months, and, after, I will move to Morocco. I hope you are well. I see that you are in Chicago now. It’s a very special city. I never told you this, but I was born in Chicago many years ago. Please, write me a letter in response.
With kisses and hugs,
Madeline shared this with Cassidy.
Madeline likes to write Fiction – humor and serious and has been a YAC member for 2 years. If writing were not an option, then paino would be the most logical creative outlet for her.
Madeline Answers the YAC Peculiar Questionnaire
- Describe the most embarrassing picture of you as a baby that your parents use to blackmail you. [no answer]
- What is your third least favorite color and what number do you associate with it? White and the number 0. Because they’re both nothing.
- What’s your favorite mythical creature? A Graffle – A cross between a giraffe and a hawk.
- What is the current bane of your existence? [no answer]
- What’s the most extreme action literature has ever provoked you to do? I threw a book once and the cover fell off. And I tugged it back on.
- What game show would you want to be on? Why? What is Jeopardy? What do I do on Fridays? Who from YAC is the Quizbowl team?
- If you were a parrot, which Eastern European country would you travel to and why? I would go to the Czech Republic. I bet Prague would look lovely from the air.
- Who is your B-list celebrity crush? (Famous but not that famous.) Bill Gates’ brother. Yes, he exists and he’s a B-list actor in Hollywood.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, “Everyone suspects himself of at least one of the cardinal virtues.” What’s yours? Charity
- What is your favorite Cards Against Humanity card? Okay, if you’re not familiar with Cards Against Humanity, answer this. On a scale of 1-10, how much do you hate whales? 5
- If you were indicted tomorrow, what would the charges be? Jaywalking, I jaywalk on my way to school everyday.
- Please provide a weird stock photo that describes you personally.
YAC is a group of slightly crazy teenagers, and I use that word fondly.
Laughter colors the walls of the room that we meet in, and I doubt that color will ever fully go away.
Every person brings their own skillsets, and somehow those skills create a conglomeration of incredible stories.
We are crazy, and nerdy and if you were a fly on the wall it might scare you a little bit, but we are YAC, and laughter fills our lungs. by Aiyana Spear
Chewing the shadows
Cutting open words
As building blocks
For your soul
by Abigail Munson
YAC is low-key a bunch of crazy high school students that get together on Wednesdays and talk about a lot of stuff, mostly writing, but sometimes weird stuff, like Adam’s irrational fear of a pea, or Lucy’s hue of purple or how Katy can’t spell, but none of us can spell, really, or form a complete sentence (like this one – it’s gone on way too long) but we still call ourselves writers, and that’s good and all because we’re all really good writers, but we all write different stuff, like Abigail who writes like a ton of poetry with all those really clever biblical allusions, and Madison who writes all this fantasy stuff that’s really cool, and always gets confused with Madeline, for some reason who always writes like way too much and can’t even finish this damn sentence, and Cassidy, who has like, a pretty weird sense of humor , but that’s cool and all, and Ellen usually writes about herself, but sometimes it’s about Hello Kitty instead (and maybe Hello Kitty should be considered a member of YAC) and Aiyana writes descriptive essays, and Sierra writes a little bit of everything, and Thalia dresses like all darkly, which is weird because her writing is so bright, and I think that’s everyone, except for Jesaka, who has to be included, of course, and I’m not sure what she writes, but I’m sure it’s as good as the prompts she gives us, and that’s YAC, 🙂 by Madeline Dean
A place where I thought new things and mastered new thought. A room where lives were created. A group of great people I will carry with me forever. A space where anything is possible and magic can happen. A mindset where kindness and friendship are born. A home where new worlds are traveled and explored together. by Katy C McDonald
YAC is somewhere I’m understood
YAC is splendiferous
YAC is where writers can be themselves
YAC is where friendships begin and creativity never has to end
YAC is like a convening of Powerful sorcerers
YAC is home
by Madison Hart
Land of misfit toys. But hey, we’re writers, what do you expect. Oddly enough, there’s very little writing involved, just a lot of inside jokes about writing. Or about the snack table. Or about each other. Mostly about each other. by Thalia Medrano
There are two types of people in YAC… those who like linked stories and Cassidy. by Cassidy Nicks
A concept, a feeling.
It is not merely our group name,
It is green carpets, plush chairs.
It is laughter about nothing,
Laughter about everything.
It is Wednesdays and plot
holes and inside jokes.
We are YAC; YAC is within us
I know that sounds kinda
sappy, but the thing that
YAC is most, is the people.
Each year it changes,
because this people change.
At heart it is an
idea – and an idea
can go anywhere.
by Sierra Karas
Atari video games were once very popular—that’s for sure. But what will they be fifty, sixty years from now? Just a little black box, sitting in a junkyard. Assuming junkyards still exist fifty, sixty years from now. Maybe the world will become some kind of environmental utopia where everything is recycled, and the Atari game will broken into little tiny pieces, a part of everything but nothing itself.
That can’t happen to writing. It can’t get broken up into little bits. Because, without choice or order, all writing becomes just words. A novel or a Shakespearean play becomes nothing but a dictionary.
So, that’s not to say dictionaries are nothing, but they are just a means to an end. And the end is the collection of all of those bits and pieces–English is a language of miscellany. Here’s a Latin word, and over there’s a Germanic one, and, together, they’re a symphony of emotion.
Somewhere, far below, a car speeds down Colfax, looking at the Noodles or the T-Mobile or CVS. But this room isn’t part of that world. It’s divided off by solid white walls. They curve up where they met the ceiling, like a cave, but without the dampness or the unpleasantness. Just the isolation.
And, is it so impossible, for a room so divided from space, to also be divided from time?
Imagine what this place looked like one hundred years ago. Take the green carpet from the floor, the tables and desks and bookshelves, the conference table in the middle, the fixings of a house for writers.
This room was a ballroom, once. A ballroom on the top floor, overlooking the city. Picture the men and women, all dressed in nineteenth century finery, trudging up two flights of stairs, no doubt sweating and huffing and puffing the whole way up. And picture the scene that greeted them—people dancing, drinking, tables set up around the periphery.
In some ways, it’s not so hard. That little alcove might have been a bandstand, with a cello and a violin.
A top floor ballroom must have meant a lot of things. For one, isolation. It must have been just as much of a thing then as it is now. Or even more so, before the house was surrounded by skyscrapers and peeping neighbors. This wasn’t the kind of party you could just come in off the street. You had to be invited, to know people. And, in such an isolated space, the parties must have gone on all night. What was stopping them?
For another, guests had to walk through almost the entire house to get up there. The fancy staircase is in the front of the house, but only the back one goes all the way up. Did they walk through the first floor, with the formal and informal living rooms? The dining room wallpapered with gold? Or did they walk up the nice staircase and cross to the back on the second floor? Walk past the bedrooms?
And, for a third, the party must have dominated the entire house. The music must have been audible on the first floor, and people dancing must have shaken the rafters and the walls. It must have been possible to eavesdrop on the gossip from the second story bathroom or the first story kitchen.
The house is still like that, sometimes. Even with the carpet, the desks and the bookshelves. All of those parties, all of those years ago, have left their mark on the space. The rafters know what it’s like to feel people dancing, the claw-foot tub knows what gossip sounds like, and the back stairs would like your invitation, please.
After all, if the parties didn’t know when to stop then, why would they now?