Issue 106 Aug 2022

Issue 106 Aug 2022

Ilyana Laouini is a student at Mermoz High school in Saint Louis, Alsace, France. Ilyana is the second of three winners in a flash fiction contest her school held. Each student was to write about a societal problem that worries them. This is Ilyana’s story.


Hi! I’m Rosa, and today I’m going to tell you how my new life in the United States is going. Not as well as I thought…

I’m in a beautiful high school, and I alternate between my mother’s posh neighborhood, where you’re sure to get stared at if you don’t fit into the “SUPRA RICH” category, and my father’s poor neighborhood where all the delinquents in the city are. I forgot… the most important element (according to others) is that I’m black, you’ll understand this detail later. To make my boring life faster, I write, a lot…

Let me describe my life as a movie for teenagers: I’m in a beautiful high school where you meet three beautiful groups: the popular, the intellectuals and the geeks. Personally, I do not fall into any of these categories although I would say that I am anything but popular. Let me introduce you to Jake, the disruptive element of my life who writes a blog «not sorry» and tells all the gossip of this school.

The day my life changed was Monday, March 14th. As happens to me very often, I end up in detention time with the regulars: Cooper, Amy, and Turner.

 I never imagined for a moment that this hour of detention would take me to jail. Jake, the most hated person at this school, was found dead in front of us because of poison in his glass of water. That’s when my whole life changed.

Of course, an investigation was opened, and we were all suspected of being the culprits, and even though I had a strong desire to kill this young man I would never have been able to, moreover, I don’t think that Cooper, Amy, or Turner would have been able to commit this crime.

The same day the police interrogated us one by one to gather the most information, but unfortunately despite the days that passed nothing allowed to know how this poison landed in Jake’s glass.

“Tell me your name again. And why you’re at a new school.”

I watch the corners of my mouth drop down, forming a frown, in the mirror as I do my tie up. “Come on, Mom. I’m not going to forget.”

“Tell me.” She’s stood behind me, a worried look on her face. I hardly see her without that look these days. She’s barely smiled since we found out. Not that I blame her.

I sigh. “My name is Jack Mitchell. We moved here last week from Brooklyn because you got a new job at the hospital.”

She nods, kisses the top of my head, then leaves the room. I know she’s scared that I will forget. That I will let my old name and background slip out. But I know to be careful. I want a new start as much as she does.

Still looking in the mirror, I focus on the scar above my left eye, and recite the story in my head. I was riding my bike in the garden, and the wheel caught on a stone. I went flying into the glass door and cut my head open. Yes, it did hurt. Yes, it did need stitches.

I give myself one last look in the mirror. I don’t look any different to Luke Holden, the boy I was a few weeks ago. And I don’t feel any different. But I need to be different. For myself, and for Mom. I want to see her smile again.

I turn, picking up my school bag, slinging it over my shoulder and leaving the room.

Pupils… Persuasive… Pedal… Pentagram…

Angie gulped for air as she broke the water. Strings of auburn hair clung to her face like seaweed, refusing to be contained by her swim cap. The sun was rapidly sinking toward the horizon. But she was determined to finish.

Quagmire… Quarrel… Queasy…

Angie had grown up in the water. She had a picture of herself at only three months old being dipped by her dad into the cold shallows of the Pacific. An expression of sheer delight on her face.

Rusted… Rowdy… Roadkill… Resurrection…

Swimming was Angie’s daily ritual. And she was good at it. She was the highest ranked in the county for the 200 freestyle. She might even have a chance at a scholarship (which she definitely needed). But her dedication wasn’t solely about maintaining her competitive edge over the summer. She loved the sensation of weightlessness — the way her body moved up and down with the swell of the surf, as though she were flying. The underwater drone of sea life creating a soothing vacuum. The power of her muscles propelling her forward one more lap… then another… and another. Swimming was her drug.

To clock the amount of laps she swam, Angie assigned a letter for each one, conjuring random words to help keep a steady rhythm. The practice had a meditative effect. Her mom had taught her this as a little girl, to calm her when she was upset. Now it cleared her head.