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Joanna Rozo

Summer vacation has just begun and Sylvia has recently turned 14. With her lack of friends her mother felt no need to throw her a party. But she did kindly give Sylvia a $50 gift certificate for the local book store. Sylvia thought this to be one of the best gifts she had ever received.

It is Saturday morning and for once she doesn’t feel like watching cartoons. Since there isn’t much else to do she decides to use the gift certificate today. She gets out of bed and picks up the dress that was left on the floor from the day before. She’s too lazy to find a different outfit; not that she could, her room was so unorganized it was a surprise she could find anything.

Sylvia takes off the Pink Floyd t-shirt she slept in and throws it on the floor with the rest of her belongings. She slips the simple faded green dress over her and smoothes it out a little. She shortly glances at herself in the full-length mirror on her door. She moves her short brown her behind her ears; her way of brushing.

“Yum, caffeine,” she said to herself as she arrives at the kitchen noticing that her mother had left her some coffee. The clock on the oven said 10:15; her mother wouldn’t be home for another six hours. She quickly sips her cup of coffee, then rinses the cup and places it in the dishwasher. Sylvia heads out the door; the bookstore is only a couple blocks away.

Halfway there Sylvia sees Max ride by on his skateboard. They had sat next to each other in science class, he had even borrowed her notes a few times, but of course, he didn’t notice her. Sylvia is so used to this that it doesn’t bother her anymore.

She opens the door to the bookstore and heads right to the poetry section. A few feet away she sees her old history teacher looking at biographies. Sylvia had a slight crush on him; being around him made her feel awkward.

“Hello, Sylvia,” he said.

“Hi,” she said in a small voice, she was hoping he wouldn’t notice her. She kept walking hoping he wouldn’t say anymore. But he walked over to the poetry section with her.

“How has your summer been?”

“Fine and yours?”

“Fine now,” he smiles. “What do you have there?” he pointed to the paper in her hand.

“Gift certificate. It was a birthday present from my mom.”

“When was your birthday?”

“Last week.”

“Well happy birthday. Do you want me to help you find a book? I know this place like my own classroom.”

“Sure.” Her voice came out small every time she said something. They looked through the books and he started to suggest some.

“Edgar Allen Poe?”

“No, too dark.”

“Emily Dickinson?”

“I already have a few of her books.”

“Robert Frost?”

“That sounds good, how much is it?”

“Twenty-four dollars. How much is the gift certificate for?”

“Fifty dollars.”

“Oh, you have to get this.”

“William Blake?”

“You’ll love it, trust me.”

“Well it is twenty-six dollars, okay.”

“You won’t regret it.”

“Thank you, Mr. Andrews.”

“No problem.” He says and they walk to the cash register together. As they leave the store Mr. Andrews opens the door for her.

“It’s almost noon; do you want to get a pizza or something?”

He asks. Sylvia hesitates, is he asking me out; he’s more than twice my age! Mr. Andrews gives her a warm innocence smile.

“I’d love some pizza.”

He opens the passenger door to his station wagon and she slides in. He starts the car and his Pink Floyd tape starts playing. All and all, you’re just another brick in the wall. Sylvia smiles, she didn’t know they had similar taste in music.

“Here we are,” he says and before Sylvia could take off her seat belt he had opened the door for her. He offers his hand to help her out and she takes it. His hand is warm, and kind of small for a man of his age, but still bigger than mine.

Mr. Andrews opened the door to the pizza place for her. Sylvia offers to pay for half of the cost of the pizza. But Mr. Andrews insists on paying for it himself. The both sip on root beer. Sylvia looks up to find him staring at her. He doesn’t look away.

“So, Sylvia, are you ready for high school?”


“You’re not worried about anything?”

“Not really.”

“Well, what electives did you pick?”

“Creative writing and Art.”

“Do you want to be an artist or a writer?”


“Do you write poetry?”

“No, short stories.” Sylvia felt weird talking to him about this, usually no one interested in what she had to say.

“What kind of stories do you write?”

“Historical fiction, mostly.”

“Oh yes, I remember you writing in my class, when you were suppose to be doing work. Did you ever finish that story; I think it was about a young slave girl?” Sylvia was surprised he remembered.

“Yes, I did. I recently started a new story about what life was like for teenagers in Germany, during WWII.”

“That sounds interesting. You should let me read it when you’re done.”

“Okay,” she smiles and takes another sip of her root beer. They finish the pizza.

“Do you want to go for a ride?”

“Where to?” she no longer felt awkward or uncomfortable.

“It’s a surprise,” he says slyly.

“I’d love to.”

They get in his car and Pink Floyd continues to play. Sylvia rolls down the window. The cold wind hitting her face felt soothing on the hot summer day. She didn’t notice Mr. Andrews was paying more attention to her bare legs than the road. He couldn’t help himself; her dress was a bit short.

“Can you give me a hint about where we’re going?” she asks.

“It’s a very beautiful place,” is all he says. They fell silent and the only sound came from the car stereo. They pass a sign that reads: National Park.

He parks, and Sylvia steps out of the car. Mr. Andrews grabs a blanket from the back seat. This place is so secluded, I love it.

“You’re right, it is beautiful here,” her comment makes him smile, and he takes her hand. She doesn’t know where they’re going, but she didn’t care. As for him, he was taking her to a specific spot.

They arrive at a weeping willow and he sets the blanket down. They sit with a lake to the right of them. It starts to get cold and windy. Sylvia brings her knees under her chin and holds her legs for warmth. Mr. Andrews grabs her hand and kisses it, she pulls away. Then he puts his arm around her waist and pulls her closer to him.

“Do you love me Sylvia?” He looks her in the eyes. Sylvia feels sick. He sounds so pathetic. I can’t believe I ever liked him. “Sylvia?”

“Yes, Mr. Andrews, I love you.” She says to shut him up. He kisses her neck and places his hand on her left breast. Sylvia never wanted this to happen, and yet she does nothing to stop it.

He forces himself on top of her and unzips his pants. He is not very strong; Sylvia can easily get away, but she can’t. She stares at the lake with an empty look in her eyes. The man she once liked is inside her, but all she can think about is drowning herself. She imagines herself filling her pockets with rocks, as the writer Virginia Woolf once did.

“Sylvia,” he moans with pleasure. She stays silent. “I love you,” he whispers in her ear. She remains silent. “Sylvia, oh, Sylvia,” he moans again.

The water is filling my lungs, I can’t breathe, my vision is blurred, and my skin is cold. My dress rips as I hit a rock.

“Sylvia,” he moans.

Another rip. I’m so cold. Gasping for air. Kicking at the void that fills the lake.

Mr. Andrews finally gets tired. Just before he stops she gets on top of him. Fucking him so hard he moans in pain. He wants her to stop, but she won’t. Then she notices something metallic in the front pocket of his pants a few inches from her arm. She reaches for it and pulls out the object. Still fucking him she stares at the pocket knife in her hand. With her other hand she covers his eyes.

She holds the knife tightly in her hand. As she slits his throat she sees everything in slow motion. The blood slowly drips onto the white blanket. The red spills on the blue shirt that he never bothered to take off. Her mouth comes closer to his neck. She licks the blood off. Still on top of him, she licks the knife too.

Sylvia jumps off of him, and searches for her underwear. Her dress was still on. After she was fully dressed she finds Mr. Andrews’s boxers and jeans and slips them back on him. She places some large rocks in his pocket and wraps the thick blanket around him. She grabs the blanket where his ankles are and drags him to the lake.

Due to the greenish brown color of the lake she couldn’t see him very well after only a couple minutes. Yet she stares at the spot where his head was. Looking down at her hands she sees blood, so she washes them in the muddy water.

Sylvia strolls to Mr. Andrews’s car and grabs the plastic bag containing her new books. She walks home with a smug look on her face.

She opens the front door and goes right to the couch. Not in the mood for television, she opens one of her books.

“Robert Frost,” she says out loud to herself, “one of my favorite poets.”

Ring, ring.

“Hey, sweetie, it’s me.”

“Hi, mom,” Sylvia says warmly.

“I’m on my way home; do you want me to pick up something for dinner?”

“That sounds great.”

“Chinese okay?”

“That’s fine, thank you mom.”

“Okay, I’ll be there soon.”

“Bye mom.”

“Bye dear, love you.”

“Love you too mom.” They hang up and Sylvia goes back to her poetry book. Reading every line, every word. Memorizing what she thought of as a masterpiece. Halfway through the book and her mom arrives.

“Hey mom,” Sylvia gives her a kiss on the cheek and her mom hands her the bag of Chinese food.

“Hey sweetie.” Sylvia and her mom sit on the couch, food in their laps. Sylvia grabs the remote control and searches for something they’ll both enjoy. They sit peacefully, watching television and eating. Her book carefully placed back in the plastic bag.

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