An Urban Assembly School for Leadership & Empowerment Student Publication




Jesse Owens: A

Legend - 2

CIcely Tyson: How

she became a Star

and an Activist- 3

Books by Black

Authors - 5

The Best Baklava: A

Recipe - 9

Chocolate Box: A

Short Story - 12

Telephone: A Short

Story - 15

Note: All work is original and written by students.


To whom it may concern,

Thank you for opening the second edition of UASLE's newspaper!

In this edition, you will find a few pieces written to honor Black History Month. However, just because February is designated to celebrate BHM does not mean it is the only time that we should honor Black Americans, both from history and present day. We must take time to remember and learn about these important figures and racial issues every day in our lives. I hope that we, as a community, are able to do that together.

Thank you to the dedicated writers who wrote great articles for this edition. Please spread the word so even more students and teachers can read their work! Look out for the next edition at the end of March or early April.

If you're interested in writing for the upcoming months' issues or have recommendations/ideas for what you'd like to see in the future, please email me:

Maryam Salam



written by Emely Vasquez

Who was Jesse Owens? Most of the freshmen probably remember him from an assignment in either ELA or gym class at best. However, Jesse Owens was far more than just a school assignment subject. Jesse Owens was a legend in history.


Jesse Owens was born on September 12, 1913, in Oakville, Alabama. As he attended Cleveland East Technical High School, he started becoming more and more famous for his track running.

Despite many colleges reaching out to him to recruit him, Owens chose to go to Ohio State College in 1933 in which he had tied the world record for the 100- yard dash.

In three years, he would be on his way to the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

The olympic rings
Jesse Owens portrait and him on the track


The Olympics were being held in Germany Belton during the Nazi reign.

Hitler hoped that the Olympics would show that the Aryan race was superior to any race.

However, this belief was defied by Owens. He won the gold medals in the 100m, 200m, 4×10m relays, and the long jump. His accomplishments, of course, snubbed Hitler's theory and were enough to make even some Germans cheer for him as well.


Despite his many achievements, Owens still suffered discrimination for his skin color. Various hotels and other buildings wouldn't allow him in, and if they did, he would have to go through the back.

Nevertheless, he still went to the 1936 Berlin Olympics, which was also where Louie Zamperini competed.

In the end, Jesse Owens became a legend. A legend who shouldn’t have been brought down for his skin color and shouldn't be forgotten. Instead, hrc be remembered for who he was; a legend who had brought great achievements for the Olympics.

Jesse Owens statue


written by Emely Vasquez

different portraits of cicely Tyson


Cicely Tyson, an African American actress, and fashion model achieved many milestones and inspired young people around the world in her lifetime.

Cicely was born in New York, on the 19th of December 1924, and died on January 28, 2021. She grew up in Harlem, where she began helping her mother support her siblings at the age of 9 after her parents got divorced.

When she finished high school, Cicely began working as a secretary in the Red Cross, but many of her friends used to tell her she could be a model for her looks and strangers even mistook her for being one. When someone once explained to her the process of becoming a model, Cicely decided to pursue a career in this very field.


When Cicely was starting her modeling career she didn’t expect to begin a career in acting. After a meeting with Mildred Smith, the editor of a fashion magazine, as a model, Cicely was spotted by Evelyn Davis, another woman who was waiting to meet with Ms. Smith. Davis told the editor that Cicely was perfect for a role she had just tried for in a movie.

That same day, Ms. Smith made an appointment for Cicely and urged her to come to the audition. Cicely finally gave in, went, and landed the role. But Cicely’s mother didn’t approve of her daughter’s career choice and immediately kicked her out of the house, thinking Cicely was “following the devil's path”.

Cicely wasn’t familiar with acting or movies because she came from a very religious family. Cicely began taking acting classes to understand what she was doing and felt out of place in a class full of professional actors and actresses. Once the administrators understood her situation, Cicely was placed in a beginners class, where she felt more comfortable.

When Cicely learned that one of Cicely’s teachers was trying out for a Broadway play, Cicely decided to sign up as well. Cicely and her teacher both acted in a scene from the play and got the roles. At an annual event hosted by this play, Talent 59, Cicely was able to perform and get recognition from various producers for her talent.


written by Emely Vasquez


Race played a big role in Cicely’s career. Cicely was a victim of physical racial and political attacks. Once, at a Philadelphia press conference for her first big movie, Sounder, Cicely was told by a white reporter that he was shocked to see that the black son in the movie called his father “Daddy” because that was what he was called by his children.

Cicely was shocked at this white journalist’s ignorance and prejudice. She knew it was important for white people to be educated and that it was necessary for her to use her platform to raise awareness of and fight against racism. She told herself that she “could not afford the luxury of just being an actress”.

Cecily made it her goal to address these issues, so she began using her platform to express her feelings and opinions. She promised herself that she would not degrade herself and that she would use acting to the best of her abilities to educate others. She showed this promise and goal through the acting roles she took up. Cicely was very picky about which characters she wanted to play and how these characters portrayed her race. She made sure to choose roles that were not prejudiced and negative. Cicely wanted to deeply connect with each of her characters, to understand why each character did what they did. Even early in

her career, Cicely began to give hope to young people of color and showed everyone that no matter how low someone may make you feel/seem, you are always capable of doing big things. Cicely was able to become a star despite all the hate from racists and even without support from her mother.

Personally, by watching some of Cicely’s movies, like The Help and some Tyler Perry movies, I have seen the amount of passion and power in her words. I was moved by her performance in “The Help”, a movie that depicts the experiences of people of color, especially those who worked for white families, with being degraded and seen as inferior. I will forever remember Cicely Tyson for being the brave and outspoken woman she was.


  1. 1962 - Desk Award for the play “Moon on a Rainbow Shawl”.

  2. 1972 - Academy Award for the movie “Sounder”.

  3. Co-founded the Dance Theater of Harlem after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

  4. 1974 - 2 Emmys for the film “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman”.

  5. 1977 - became a member of the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame.

  6. Honored by the Congress of the Racial Equality. and by the National Council of Negro Women.

  7. 1994 - 3rd Emmy for playing as the housemaid in the TV adaptation of “Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All”.

  8. 2010 - 95th Spingarn Award, presented by the NAACP, an award given to African-Americans with significant contributions/achievements.

  9. 2015 - nominated for an Emmy award for ABC’s “How to Get Away With Murder” and recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors.

  10. 2013 - Tony award for best actress for the movie “The Trip to Bountiful.

  11. 2016 - Presidential Medal of Freedom awarded by former President Barack Obama.


compiled by Gabriela Mendez

Cover of the book The Poet X

Title: The Poet X

Author: Elizabeth Acevedo

Summary: A young girl in Harlem discovers slam poetry as a way to understand her mother’s religion and her own relationship to the world. Debut novel of renowned slam poet Elizabeth Acevedo. Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.

Trigger Warnings: slut-shaming, sexism, sexual assault, parental physical and emotional abuse, homophobia, panic attacks.

Title: The Black Flamingo

Author: Dean Atta

Summary: A boy comes to terms with his identity as a mixed-race gay teen - then at university he finds his wings as a drag artist, The Black Flamingo. A bold story about the power of embracing your uniqueness. Sometimes, we need to take charge, to stand up wearing pink feathers - to show ourselves to the world in bold colour.

Trigger Warnings: Racism, sexism, homophobia, parental abuse, alcohol consumption, recreational drug use.

Cover of the book The Black Flamingo
Cover of the book The Black Enough

Title: Black Enough

Authors: Ibi Zoboi, Tracey Baptiste, Coe Booth, Dhonille Clayton, Brandy Colbert, Jay Coles, Lamar Giles, Leah Henderson, Justina Ireland, Varian Johnson, Kekla Magoon, Tochi Onyebuchi, Jason Reynolds, Nic Stone, Liara Tamani, Renée Watson, and Rita Williams-Garcia.

Summary: Liz Lighty has always believed she's too black, too poor, too awkward to shine in her small, rich, prom-obsessed midwestern town. But it's okay -- Liz has a plan that will get her out of Campbell, Indiana, forever: attend the uber-elite Pennington College, play in their world-famous orchestra, and become a doctor.

Trigger Warnings: abandonment, body shaming, racism, sexism, sexual assault, and homophobia.

Cover of the book On the come up

Title: On The Come Up

Author: Angie Thomas

Summary: Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least make it out of her neighborhood one day. As the daughter of an underground rap legend who died before he hit big, Bri’s got big shoes to fill. But now that her mom has unexpectedly lost her job, food banks and shutoff notices are as much a part of Bri’s life as beats and rhymes. With bills piling up and homelessness staring her family down, Bri no longer just wants to make it—she has to make it. On the Come Up is Angie Thomas’s homage to hip-hop, the art that sparked her passion for storytelling and continues to inspire her to this day.

It is the story of fighting for your dreams, even as the odds are stacked against you; of the struggle to become who you are and not who everyone expects you to be; and of the desperate realities of poor and working-class black families.

Trigger Warnings: child abandonment, mentions of homophobia, mentions of gang activity and violence, mentions of drug addiction.

Title: Felix Ever After

Author: Kacen Callender

Summary: Felix Love has never been in love—and, yes, he’s painfully aware of the irony. He desperately wants to know what it’s like and why it seems so easy for everyone but him to find someone. What’s worse is that, even though he is proud of his identity, Felix also secretly fears that he’s one marginalization too many—Black, queer, and transgender—to ever get his own happily-ever after.

When an anonymous student begins sending him transphobic messages—after publicly posting Felix’s deadname alongside images of him before he transitioned—Felix comes up with a plan for revenge. What he didn’t count on: his catfish scenario landing him in a quasi–love triangle.... But as he navigates his complicated feelings, Felix begins a journey of questioning and self-discovery that helps redefine his most important relationship: how he feels about himself. Felix Ever After is an honest and layered story about identity, falling in love, and recognizing the love you deserve.

Trigger Warnings: transphobia, allusions to homophobia, allusions to deadnaming, bullying, catfishing.

Cover of the book Felix Ever After
Cover of the book Full Disclosure

Title: Full Disclosure

Author: Camryn Garrett

Summary: Simone Garcia-Hampton is starting over at a new school, and this time things will be different. She's making real friends, making a name for herself as student director of Rent, and making a play for Miles, the guy who makes her melt every time he walks into a room. The last thing she wants is for word to get out that she's HIV-positive, because last time . . . well, last time things got ugly. Keeping her viral load under control is easy, but keeping her diagnosis under wraps is not so simple. As Simone and Miles start going out for real--shy kisses escalating into much more--she feels an uneasiness that goes beyond butterflies. .

She knows she has to tell him that she's positive, especially if sex is a possibility, but she's terrified of how he'll react! And then she finds an anonymous note in her locker: I know you have HIV. You have until Thanksgiving to stop hanging out with Miles. Or everyone else will know too. Simone's first instinct is to protect her secret at all costs, but as she gains a deeper understanding of the prejudice and fear in her community, she begins to wonder if the only way to rise above is to face the haters head-on...

Trigger Warnings: homophobia/ biphobia, blackmailing, bullying, forced outing, homophobia, oppression, racism, and slut-shaming.

Title: Children of Blood and Bone

Author: Tomi Adeyemi

Summary: They killed my mother. They took our magic. They tried to bury us. Now we rise. Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls. But everything changed the night magic disappeared.

Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope. Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good. Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy.

Trigger Warnings: death, child abuse, self-harm, slavery and oppression.

Cover of the book Children of Blood and Bone
Cover of the book You Should See Me in A Crown

Title: You Should See Me In A Crown

Author: Leah Johnson

Summary: Liz Lighty has always believed she's too black, too poor, too awkward to shine in her small, rich, prom-obsessed midwestern town. But it's okay -- Liz has a plan that will get her out of Campbell, Indiana, forever: attend the uber-elite Pennington College, play in their world-famous orchestra, and become a doctor.

Trigger Warnings: Classism, racism, homophobia, outing, panic attacks, chronic illness, and death.

Title: Long Way Down

Author: Jason Reynolds

Summary: An ode to Put the Damn Guns Down, this is New York Times bestseller Jason Reynolds’s fiercely stunning novel that takes place in sixty potent seconds—the time it takes a kid to decide whether or not he’s going to murder the guy who killed his brother.

Trigger Warnings: Violence, murder, firearms.

Cover of the book Long Way Down

Note: make sure to look up trigger warnings for all the books on your own in case I missed some.


written by Halima Naseer

Hi! Welcome back to my channel, “Cooking with Halima”! :)

I hope you all had a chance to try out my brownies recipe and liked it (or loved it).

One piece Baklava

This month’s recipe may seem a little daunting stressful first, but it’s actually pretty easy. It’s a bit time consuming but the more you try, the faster and easier baking becomes.

You might need to hunt around for the phyllo dough, but it should be available in most stores (or sometimes bakeries) that sell Middle Eastern or Central Asian food products.

I tried to substitute the phyllo dough with puff pastry dough (which is way more easy to find) and while it still tasted good, it wasn’t the same as authentic baklava.

I hope you have fun baking and enjoy the dessert you make! Let me know what you think of the recipe; email me with any questions or comments at my email:

Note: I modified the Baklava recipe I used to make my own batch, but the original can be found on this youtube link: It’ll be helpful to follow along with the video, but make sure to use the amounts for all the ingredients that I’ve written below!


  • Glass or dark metal pan/baking tray (I used a 7 x 11 dark metal pan)

  • Saucepan (or any pot you can use for boiling)

  • Flour (use as needed to roll out the dough)

  • 1 cup Walnuts (the quantity is up to you, inc. or dec. the amounts as you wish)

  • ½ cup Almonds

  • ½ cup Pistachios

  • 1 ½ teaspoon Cinnamon powder

  • 22 Phyllo (filo) dough sheets OR 11 Puff pastry dough sheets (at least 2 lbs)

  • ½ cup of butter (just an estimate - you probably won’t need to use all of it)

  • ½ cup Sugar

  • ¼ of Honey

  • ¾ cup water

  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice


  • First, we’re going to start with the syrup so that by the time the baklava is baked, it’s ready to use. The syrup is super simple but requires the usage of a stove. Be careful! * (Also, take out the dough from the freezer so it can thaw and rest at room temperature.).

  • Grab a saucepan and put in on medium heat on the stove. Add in water, sugar, honey, and lemon juice. Let it come to a boil and make sure to constantly mix the syrup.

  • After about 4-5 minutes turn off the heat and let the saucepan cool. It might look a little thin but it’s perfectly fine.


This is Part 2 and you’re doing great! You can really just use any type of nuts that you prefer and add those in, and whatever quantity you prefer for each.

  • Use a food processor or blender to chop them so the mixture is mostly powderlike but also chunky. Don’t overthink this part, it will turn out amazing.

  • Add in 1 tablespoon of cinnamon powder and 1 tablespoon of melted butter.

  • Take out the mixture and place it into a bowl. About ⅓ of the mixture will be used between each set of layers.


This is Part 3 and you’re almost done! It can be tricky to handle the dough, so make sure you give enough time for it to soften up. Phyllo dough is really thin so even if it rips, that’s ok, still use those pieces.

  • If you’re using pastry dough, you’re going to have to roll out the dough since it’s thicker. Baklava made of Phyllo dough also requires more layers of the phyllo sheets, but way less sheets for puff pastry dough.

Nut Mixture on a plate and preparing to make some Baklava


  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

  • Roll out your dough to match the size of your pan, or if the dough sheets are large, cut them to match the size of your pan.

  • Butter your pan and add in one sheet of dough. You have to add in butter in between every single one of the sheets -- this makes it crispier.

  • For the phyllo dough, you will add 6 sheets of dough (butter every layer), then the nut mixture, 6 more sheets, the nut mixture again, 6 more sheets, the nuts mixture, and finally 4 sheets on the very top make a total of 22 layers.

  • Make sure to add in about ⅓ of the total nut mixture in between each set of layers.

  • If you’re using puff pastry dough, add in 3 rolled out sheets of dough, the nut mixture, 3 more sheets, the nut mixture, 3 more sheets again, nut mixture again, and finally, 2 sheets to make 11 layers.

  • You can also change up these ratios and do more or less sets of layers.

  • Cut the baklava in rectangles as you would cut brownies.

  • Bake for 35-40 minutes, and or until all of the baklava is golden brown, making sure the bottom and inside layers are baked thoroughly.

  • Let it cool for a few seconds and then pour all of the syrup in the tray on top of the baklava. You should leave this overnight to soak in, but at least 6 hours in the fridge. Definitely try a bit of it before letting it set.

  • Enjoy!

If you have any questions or want me to try a recipe for next month, let me know! :)


written by Emely Vasquez

Honey Ispaw stared at herself in the mirror. She looked at her big yellow curls tied neatly with a blue ribbon. She looked at her big blue eyes on her pale face. She looked at her school uniform with the buttons properly done.

Then she looked at the red heart-shaped chocolate box with a pink ribbon tied neatly around it with a tag.

To: Carmella, From: Honey

Honey glared at herself again. Was she really going to give this girl a chocolate box? With red hearts and a neat bow attached?

Could she make up an excuse? Say that it’s thanks for the flowers she got her for her birthday? Say that it was a gift of appreciation? Say that it was just a friend thing and not to look too much into it?

No, she couldn’t. Because then she’d be lying.

No matter what excuse she’d give, the truth will show up on her face.

Honey looked at the chocolate box one more time before sighing and shoving it down her white and blue backpack.

To hell with it, She thought, it’s now or never.

Honey felt herself freeze at the sight of Carmella under a big oak tree.

Hony’s heart started beating a thousand beats per minute when she saw her.

Her red hoodie with her messy braids on her back. Her big brown eyes lined with a bit of eyeliner shone on her tan skin. Her backpack was half-open. Her hands held a bright pink book.

It was just enough to make Honey’s heart explode.

She tightened her grip on her backpack before looking around at the others.

Maybe I should do it now, she thought.

Before she could take another step, she felt a sharp grab and felt pulled down.

Oh great, Honey thought.

She turned to see the little angry girl holding her arm.

Elise, she thought.

“Hey!" Elise screamed in Honey’s ear. Softly, Honey pulled away from the small ginger.

"Hey, Elise," Honey greeted, "anything you need?"

"Of course I need something! I need the plans for class!" Elise replied.

"Right…" Honey said, taking one last glance at Carmella.

"What's the matter? Who're you looking at!" Elise yelled looking at Carmella's direction.

Honey felt herself panic. What would Elise say? Would she immediately tell everyone? Would she try to set something up? Honey wasn't going to let that happen.

”Nothing much, just the trees" Honey immediately answered. "Anyways here's the plans" she said as she pulled a thick binder from her backpack.

"Thanks! Also what's with the box?" Elise giggled as she shoved the thick binder in her full oversized backpack.

Oh this? It's nothing!" Honey responded as she grabbed the chocolate box.

In a last minute panic, she ripped the tag off and shoved it to Elise.

“It's for you!" Honey yelled, "as a thanks! For, uh, being my friend!"

Elise looked at the box carefully before looking up at Honey.

"Uuhh, thanks? Kinda wish you told me we were gonna give gifts," Elise murmured, "I wish I could give you something in return, thanks anyways"

Honey watched as Elise crammed the box into her thick backpack while she held the tag tightly on her hand.

Dangit… Honey thought to herself.

Honey looked back at Carmella, who was now rushing to her class.

Honey sighed with defeat as she knew that she lost her chance now.

red heart shaped chocolate box

The first few periods flew by. All that Honey could think about was Carmella and the lost opportunity with the chocolates.

Honey sighed in defeat. What was so special about Carmella?

Was it the fact that she always smiled at everyone? That she would always share her baked goods at lunch no matter how hard she worked on it?

Or could it be that she stood up for bullied students? How she would actively work for charitable events? Or was it when she treated Honey with pure kindness even at her lowest?

There were too many reasons yet, no clear answer.


Honey‘s thoughts were interrupted by the sound of the bell. Lunch was next, which would've been the perfect chance to give the chocolates to Carmella.

If she had them.

Honey didn't know what to do now, she stayed at her desk as she glared at the clock upon the bulletin board with its inspirational messages taped on.

"Hey Honey?"

Honey froze at the sound of her name. Not because she was caught daydreaming, but because it was from Carmella herself.

Honey quickly twisted her head at Carmella.

"Y-yeah?" Honey felt herself cringe at her choice of words. She'd talked to Carmella before so why was her voice cracking now?

Carmella smiled at Honey before asking"What're you doing here? Don't you have a student council meeting?"

Honey felt herself panic.

”Right! I do! Thanks for reminding me!" Honey quickly stood up before hearing Carmella.

"Hold on," Carmella said softly, making Honey freeze.

I wanted to give you something," Carmella smiled warmly.

Honey stared before softly asking, "you do?"

Carmella turned to her crammed backpack with white crumpled papers sticking out of it and pulled out a blue box with decorative tape.

“I wanted to give you this," Carmella's voice cracked, “I know blue's your favorite color so I tried my best to decorate it for you”.

“I wanted to give you this," Carmella's voice cracked, “I know blue's your favorite color so I tried my best to decorate it for you”.

Honey stared at the box wrapped messily in all directions with taped blue paper.

"It's dark chocolate," Carmella added, "I really don't know if you'd like it but here, take it.”

Honey softly took the chocolate box and whispered, "What for?"

Carmella looked away for a second before finally answering, "No reason, you’re just nice and smart so I figured I'd give you something for this month."

Honey felt her heart beat faster as she looked at the blue chocolate box.

"Thank you, I wish I could repay you," Honey responded.

"It's no big deal really," Carmella giggled as she scratched her neck, "just take it, that's all the payment I need"

Honey smiled softly as Carmella walked out of the room before carefully looking at the box again as she read the tag shining with glitter:

To: Honey, From: Carmella

The end


written by Nagifa Tabassum

old landline telephone

After folding grandpa’s will carefully, I placed it on the table. Taking a deep breath, I turned my head towards the window, staring absentmindedly. Even the moon wasn’t visible. I could hear myself taking slow breaths, the little thuds of my heart against my chest. The silence was eating me whole.

It’s been a few weeks since grandpa’s death. Time passes so quickly, it feels like just yesterday I hugged him, scolded him for not taking his meds.

I arrived today with heavy cardboard boxes and a throbbing pain in my chest. Turning my head around, I sighed at the sight. Unopened boxes were scattered around on the ripped carpet, the wallpaper was peeling off, the buckets of paints I bought this afternoon were stacked by the covered sofas.

A faint yellow light, from above my head lights up the room. Grandpa’s rocking chair is sitting quietly beside the door that leads to the patio. I smiled. Grandpa used to sit there and rock back and forth as mom yelled at him.

She would stand right in front of him, her eyes narrowed, her fisted hands crossed in front of her chest, and continuously tapping her toes on the wooden floor, while grandpa would play with his fingers, trying to avoid looking at her eyes.

After a while of staring, mom would scold grandpa. “Why can’t you just sit back and relax? There's no need for you to lock yourself in that tiny basement and make those toys” she would say.

“They are not toys, they are my inventions” grandpa would reply, making such cute eyes that even mom couldn’t stay angry at him for long. Grandpa loved inventing different things, most of which wasn’t as useful but still very impressive. One of his inventions, as mentioned in his will is his telephone.

Earlier, I had brought the telephone from the basement. It’s an old looking telephone, from afar it looks like the phone is made of wood, but it’s actually metal. Apparently, anyone can call in the future or the past using this phone. But the call can be made only to this phone.

I chuckled, grandpa had a very creative mindset. Looking back at the will I can’t help but think of mom. Tears thicker than a river streamed down her face as she hunched over grandpa’s body. Mom had been devastated.

I would be too if I went abroad for so-called work, leaving my only child with my dad to take care of and back once every two years for only a week, then finally coming back years later to find my dad bleeding on my daughter’s arm. My daughter’s screams filling the hospital, doctors running around the room, her cries, her pleads ringing in my head.

Despite how devastated mom was, she urged me to come to California, to fix grandpa’s house the way grandpa wanted it. Now that I think about it, mom’s tears were not of grief but of guilt.

I clenched my teeth, I have cried enough already. Closing my eyes, I rested my head on the table. The last few weeks were tiring enough.

I remember how after arguing with my mom, grandpa would always have a smile on his face. A unique and different smile. A smile so contagious that it mesmerized everyone. Without even knowing it, everyone around grandpa would start smiling that same smile.

A ringing noise coming from the tea-table beside the sofas woke me from my thoughts. Eyes wide, veins tightening, I looked up. Unable to believe my ears, I gulped. Grandpa’s telephone was ringing. I stumbled towards the table, silence trying to grab me as I moved. Even if the phone worked, why and who would call grandpa at this time? Grandpa mentioned only someone from the future or past can call, not someone from the present. A cold breeze ran down my spine.

The ringing continued. The long *trings* hammered at my skull. It was so strong that I couldn’t stop my shaking hands from picking up the call. The handle is so cold against my palm, it's making my toes curl beneath me.

“Hello?” I whispered, my lips trembling. “

Listen to me, please listen to me before it happens, please I don’t want to lose him” Comes a shaking voice from the other side.

I stay frozen in my spot. The voice is desperate, but even through it’s desperation and sniffs, I can tell whose voice it is. There is a beeping noise, coming through the small holes in the phone. I tightened my grip on the handle, holding it a little closer to my ear.

”Jean is here….get hurt…..a murderer….will murder….” a noise, like the sound of two rocks rubbing against one another interrupts the voice, breaking the sentences.

Here and there the different beeping sounds come out from the phone, even the noise that grandpa’s old TV used to make is a lot quieter than these beeps that seem to rip the inside of my ears.

Then it hits me. The voice on the other side of the telephone is mine.

Slamming the phone back onto its stand I took a seat on the sofa. My shaking legs wouldn’t hold me for long anyway. Jean is my childhood best friend. He is supposed to get here in a few hours and stay with me for a few weeks to help me with the renovation. Why would he want to hurt me? I have known him my whole life. We grew up together, here with grandpa.

I shook my head. What was I thinking? There is no way this phone can actually work. How could my future self call me? That’s impossible. But grandpa’s inventions never fail, they might be useless but they work. A professor, who has devoted his life to studying engineering, technology, and math his whole life, can’t be wrong. Or can he?

I rubbed my eyes and stared outside the window. The town is so small and isolated that the only figures I can make out are the outlines of trees. Two dots of light are coming this way, blinding my eyes. I immediately covered my eyes, trying to avoid the pain it’s causing in my head.

It’s Jean. He’s here.

I try to look again as Jean parks his car in front of the house and comes out with a luggage in his hands. We had seen each other at grandpa’s funeral, yet he seems so different to me, almost like a stranger.

Or maybe a murderer.

I shook my head aggressively. “Stupid phone” I mumble before moving towards the front door.

“The traffic here is insane for a small town like this” Jean said as he placed his luggage near mine at the corner.

“It wasn't bad when I got here,” I said without much enthusiasm. Jean moved towards the table where grandpa’s will is.

“Hey, I know it’s hard” He began saying as he took off his hoodie and placed it beside the will. Taking a seat, he picked up the will. Before opening it, he looked at me, as if asking for permission. I nodded.

“Grandpa really is gangsta, he made his will so mysterious” He said, smiling. He roamed his hand on top of grandpa’s signature, as if trying to feel grandpa’s last thought.

I sat on the sofa again, the telephone glaring at me. A blanket of dust is covering the handles and the eroded number buttons. The metal has started to get rusty at the corners of the stand. For a moment I thought someone was banging on the door to the Patio but it was just the wind.

“It would be cool if you made a will like this too. Imagine your mom reading your will after your death.” I stumbled back at Jean’s voice near my ear. He is standing right behind me with one of his hands near my head and the other still holding the will.

“My death?” I asked, stumbling over my own words.

“I mean I would make my will mysterious too, to be honest. Not that I’m letting you die before me” He said, without explicitly answering my question.

He sighed before moving towards the table again. Folding the will like I had done, he placed it back.

“It’s too late now but I do think that we should take out some of the kitchen utensils for tomorrow.” He explained, moving his head towards the stack of boxes.

“Yeah I-” I began as I moved towards him but Jean isn’t listening to me. Taking out what looks to be a pocket knife, he walks towards the boxes. I took a breath, but only to hold it as I watched the sharpness of the weapon in Jean’s hand. How long would it take for me to die if he stabs me with it? No! Why would Jean do that?

I’m too distracted to notice Jean make his way towards me. The knife still in his hand. I’m taking steps back, and Jean seems to notice it. His smile disappears and he is saying something. But I can’t focus on what he is saying, my eyes are focused on the knife. How painful would it be? How much would I bleed?

I can’t hear anything other than my gasping breaths. I can’t feel anything, not even the rough texture of the telephone stand against my palm as I hit Jean’s head with it. Jean groans as he falls down, the knife falls out of his hand.

Blood floods out of his head and just like that my senses are back. I ran to Jean, inspecting his injury.

“Jean! Jean!” I scream, slapping his face and pushing at his chest. He is not breathing. It’s still there. The pendant is still there. How did I not notice? Gently I took the pendent in my hand. It’s still connected to the chain around Jean’s neck. Inside the pendant is a picture of grandpa, Jean and I on our patio when we were still in Kindergarten.

With my shaking hands I reach for my neck. No, I’m not wearing mine. I scream, shoving my face at Jean’s chest, trying to muffle my cries. Abruptly I sat up and scrambled towards the telephone. It’s still on the floor but doesn’t look damaged. My fingers are as cold as ever as I punched the numbers.




“Hello?” Said my voice from the other side. “Listen to me, please listen to me before it happens, please I don’t want to lose him” My tears are non-stoppable. Are these tears of grief or guilt?

The end.