As with any typical teenager, Maribelle Mejorar huffled and puffed and groaned through each passing day. The riddles of angst as imposed by her own body gave way to the every day grunts and dunts; although on this particular day each huffle, puff and groan invoked even more grunts and dunts, each one more grotesque than the other that required the gears in her brain to turn more quickly than they ever had before.

    It could have been the soggy toast she had that morning, or her cowlick refusing to obey throughout the day. Maybe her pants weren’t tight enough or her grades good enough. The terrors of adolescence were in full swing today with Maribelle Mejorar, where everything was going wrong: her luck was so bad that she had a better chance of the sky collapsing on her than to feel that the world was not against her today.

    Well as luck would have it the bearded, singing ogre in the sky heard her distress and decided to inflict one last travesty upon her.

    Maribelle Mejorar felt as if the sky had fallen. Instead a pink letter had just fell on top of her. With a leap and screech, Maribelle was unsure of what had almost poked her eye out. Though by no means did she need those eyes when she spilled apple juice on her not-so-tight pants earlier that day during class. In disappointing curiosity, Maribelle felt indifferent about the letter; instead of picking it up immediately and checking who or what could have disposed this mysterious object, she proceeded to act like any normal teenager and just ignored something potentially important.

    Walking away, the young girl was attempting to convince herself that whatever it was it could have been no good. She strolled down the street in a slow walk that she believed to be unintentional but was not. Falling letters from the sky is not something you would simply ignore.

    “However,” Maribelle thought as she placed her hand on the dried and sticky apple juice stain on her not-so-tight pants, “For every action requires a reaction,” she remembered. Poor Maribelle was not good at physics and the apple juice stain certainly did not make her Isaac Newton. But such as the apple falling onto that British man’s head, the girl stopped in her tracks and turned to pick up the letter with her sticky fingers–– a potential revelation.  

    Nevertheless, it was an ordinary letter. Nothing magnificent, nor magical, there was not even a drop of sparkle gel ink on the crisp, pink envelope. Ever so gently she lifted the flap to undo the pretty envelope, hoping that at least she would not ruin one thing during her terrible day. Alas the bearded ogre in the sky could not allow for that, so he pinched a bit of magic dust between his fingers and blew it onto Maribelle. That was not in fact magic dust, but a bag full of pollen, and her eyes began to water and her nose began to tickle. As her face shook up, she let out a tremendous sneeze, causing her finger to tear the flap upward, leaving one side partially ripped open from the top while the rest was sealed.

    In despair the young protagonist was furious for her lack of eloquence in sneezing and opening envelopes. She remembered all of her classmates, new and old, each of whom always sneezed in a manner that would cause any young man’s heart to flutter and proudly declare, bless you. Their little mouse sneezes were only a façade that hid the fact that they just projected thousands of germs at over 100 mph; instead, a sneeze such as Maribelle’s only reminded everyone else of how disgusting they actually are. There were never any bless you’s given to Maribelle, since it only reinforced the fact that females do indeed have bodily fluids.

While she tried to swat away the unpleasant thoughts of her sneezes, the bearded ogre in the sky said thank you, since in ogre-culture sneezing in the proximity of anyone was a cherished compliment. It was the equivalent of saying you are so repulsive that my body is actively trying to warn me to stay away from you by declaring that I am allergic to your vile being. That ogre would not stop blushing.

It was unsurprising that Maribelle could not hear the ogre in the sky; instead she decided to rub her nose and finally open that mysterious letter. From within the torn pink envelope came an even pinker letter that was crumpled at the stop, caused by action of the sneeze. Instantly came a disheartening smell that overwhelmed Maribelle’s being: it was the scent of petunias, amber and most of all, obligatory family occasions. She could almost feel her great aunt Marta’s hugs, cheek pinching, and proclamation of how well you have grown! While simultaneously feeling her estrogen levels rise due to the excessive amount of pink.

All of these groans and complaints were to only delay the inevitability of having to ultimately read the mysterious letter. As with even more teenagers, Maribelle was scared, especially of new changes. What made it the slightest bit worse was the fact that she knew that this letter will change the course of her life forever, because let’s be honest, any miniscule event in a teenager’s mind is the cause for starting a new life.

With her sticky fingers she finally removed the pinkier letter from the stupendously pink envelope. Continuing on with her gentle touch she proceeded to unfold the blindingly pink paper to reveal the contents of her new life.




Then, with the blink of an eye, she is back into her dark and slightly humid room, staring in front of her computer screen. Maribelle had snapped out of her daydream and has returned to reality. Woe is her indeed- an imaginary ogre sounds more delightful than dealing with the present.




It is taunting her, except she does not know what those three little letters wanted. But once again, she is lying to herself. Those letters did not appear through their own free will, but by the efforts of Sean Wilcox. It is, in fact, the lack of effort that Mister Wilcox made that left Maribelle Mejorar in a stupefied state. If one were to grab a hammer and chisel to open up her mind, they would find extreme and unrealistic situations that Maribelle would imagine as a means to find some sort of reasoning for unrealistically, but very true, stupid situations. A simple compensation mechanism is all her imagination served at the moment.

The warmth of the laptop underneath her palms combined with the condensation of a dewy soda near her side failed to provide comfort. She lifts her hands to rub her wrist and twirl it in circles as Maribelle ponders on what to respond to the very anticlimactic message by Mister Wilcox. She fumbles with the keyboard, hovering over the keys pretending to type something painfully casual with an air of aloofness. There is no need to let him be reassured of what he already knows. That Maribelle Mejorar is exhaustively in love with Sean Wilcox.

Exhaustively is a strange word to describe a feeling when your heart dances around firecrackers being thrown at its feet. This is because exhausted is exactly how Maribelle feels. She knows she should’ve never have a crush on Sean: he’s too moody, too hardcore, too cool, too shy, too sigh. Too good to look at.

He is the guy to love that most girls accidently ignored because, combined with all of his clandestine suave looks, he is truly a nice guy. Not in a patronizing way either. Nice as in ignorant, naïve, he never learned to be mean to any boy or girl. Simply because he was always overlooked, except Maribelle never overlooks anyone. She caught him before he got ripe, right before his peak. Sean is climbing up but hasn’t reached his prime allure, for all he knows this will be the last time in a long time before he can enjoy solidarity as a pretty boy. After that he will be a bright target.

Maribelle didn’t break eye contact with the screen, gazing to see if Sean will add more to his discretely insulting message. There was no need to feel insulted either but Maribelle felt that she deserved more for working weeks to pry herself into his life, friends and schoolwork just for the attention. She is tired, bored, exhausted. There was no challenge to him because truly and certainly, Sean thinks of Maribelle as a friend.

Maribelle is in denial, still wearing low cut shirts to hang out with him. But his interests are pure and he does love Maribelle, if only for her invaluable asset as an understanding friend. She leans back and groans, letting herself fall flat on the bed.  


Sean again.


Hw tonight?


Maribelle couldn’t bring herself to lift her laptop. She opts for something more convenient, then off she plopped out her phone and logged into Facebook.

“Stupid internet.” She mumbles to herself as the Wi-Fi symbol plays with its varying semi circles before opening up the page. She titters her thumbs and responds to Sean, of course she’ll help.


“Huh, that was fast,” she thought.


Haha thanks, escapé at 7?


“Right, always wanting to go into escapé. They don’t even close late.” Maribelle continued in her train of thought.

The clock is blinking 6:14, Maribelle jumps out of her bed and rubs the crusty eye boogers from her lids. She knew it was early, she knew she would get there even earlier before Sean. Sometimes he’s inconsiderate and sometimes not, but most of the time he is a buffoon. Mostly by arriving late but playing it off as something beyond his control. Typical.

Maribelle changes into a V-neck shirt, grabbing a light sweater before leaving, then is promptly out the door. She drove, knowing that walking is a feasible option if she had twenty minutes to spare, which she does. But by driving, cut the time to four maybe five minutes depending on how lucky she was with the traffic lights. She is lucky today. Even more so when a parking spot is open to her right in front of the café. It is in an oddly situated spot. Placed at the end of a retired strip mall, facing a neighborhood.

Maribelle remembers coming to one of those houses in that very neighborhood before. She steps out of her car and sank into a patio chair in front of the café, observing at the homes in front of her. Nothing unique to each of them, they are just stamped out in unison, one after the other.

It was 6th grade and Grace Wilson was having her 12th birthday party. Being in the presence of Grace was already a gift itself, and Maribelle couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw a pastel rose invitation in her cubby with the bubbly cursive of Grace herself. She ran home and opened the invitation in a quiet splendor, imagining how their new friendship would flourish. She never even spoke to Grace that often, in fact, never at all. Maribelle remembers talking to her, like whenever she would give a girlish sneeze she would give a collective bless you with the rest of the class. Maybe Grace heard her bless you and was pleased by how well Maribelle said it. Grace would have been so proud that she told her mother when decorating invitations that “yes, let’s invite Maribelle, she is very knowledgeable about sneezes.”

Maribelle held the invitation to her chest and promised not to let go. For the following week she was giving secret handshakes and smiles to Grace, thinking that for once she was in on the group. Before she knew it, she was at her birthday party-slash-slumber party that Saturday. Maribelle’s mother even bought her a matching set of PJ’s for the occasion with a soft green pattern and daisies on the pants. She carried her gift bag with a birthday card and gift card to the latest teen store, then knocked on the door. Waiting for an answer.

Maribelle was early of course, old habits start young, by fifteen minutes to be exact. She turned her head and saw her mom parked in front of the house, waiting for her daughter to go inside safely. She gave a soft wave, but Maribelle only rolled her eyes, already embarrassed that her new friends might see her mom. No one came to the door so she gave a ring.



Then came Grace herself to the front door.


“I’m here for the party.”

“Oh,” Grace closed the door slightly as Maribelle stood dumbfounded.

Then Grace’s mother came to the door, they both went off to the side, out of ear shot for Maribelle before coming back to where she stood.

“You weren’t invited, probably gave it to you by mistake.”

“Oh, that’s okay.”

“Could I still have my present?”

Maribelle wrinkles her nose at the memory and feels slightly sick to her stomach. She takes out her laptop. Facebook is still open from the last time she closed it, and she peers back at her conversation with Sean. Then sits, waiting, 6:25.

She exits out of the screen and is now facing a text document. Maribelle let her fingers graze against the laptop before typing:

The Exploration of Concrete

    As expected, Nymph was completely unimpressed with what was commonly called ‘the new world.’ It was a rather peculiar term to think hard about, mostly because this ‘new world’ people referred to had been there the whole time. From the ages where all countries originated in the same place, and eventually spread out. The everyday wizard still has trouble in believing this theory, mostly because arbolverbology is a relatively new field of study in the magical world.

    It is said that arbolverbology was discovered in July 21st, 1861 by a young man by the name of Alfred Luxos, who went to enjoy a picnic with his family near the city of Manassas, Virginia. Bringing along coleslaw and some small sandwiches, the family was able to enjoy their lively picnic. The sun was shining and families all over gathered to the top of a secluded hill to enjoy the sundry. Everyone brought laughter and good humor to the delight of one another and themselves. A wind began to blow and some skirts responded to the gust with a flip that brought blushes to the innocent cheeks of young girls, and jeers from eligible but shy suitors. Collectively, the families began to gaze down: their entertainment was beginning through the Battle of Bull Run that occurred just down the hill from where their checkered blankets laid as the sneaky ants tried to steal the peas of Alfred Luxos.

    The Luxos family was quite impressed that these bright young men, with their whole futures yet to be explored, actually went through with having this silly war that they’ve been threatening each other with for years. Wide-eyed, the happy family feasted as they saw bayonets and cannons dance across the sky with such merry precision. The youngest Luxos, Alfred of course, was primarily serene with the spectacle; he was the kind who would’ve preferred to see the grotesque horrors of slavery, such that Harriet Beecher Stowe lovingly described, than the consequences of owning a person. He began to daze and lazily drop food, as a result of his inattentiveness, and somehow or another a pea that fell caught his attention. Mostly because Alfred had no recollection of having peas in the first place, believing his mother only packed coleslaw and agreeable sandwiches. Yet, these peas seemed to be carried away by the tiny ants.

    Poor ants don’t have the vision capable of witnessing the battle, but even Alfred swears that if ants had bigger eyes they would have stopped to look at the fault of humankind rather than some silly ol’peas.

    Yet it was fate, fate for the peas to suddenly appear, fate for the ants not to be able to see far enough, and fate for Alfred to be positively bored. As a result of their pea-knapping, the youngest Luxos decided to take a detour and follow the ants.

    “These ants must trust me before I can follow their trail,” thought Alfred Luxos, according to his popular 1887 textbook Arbolverbology and the Everyday Wizard

    Alfred quickly picked up a pea and followed the ants, hoping to be lead to destiny. There was sweat, apprehension and fear that he was going to miss an important scene in the great battle bellow him. Yet somehow he knew to keep following the ants, hoping for a result worth the loss of the missed battle.

    “Whaddya know, they lead me to my destiny”- Arbolverbology and the Everyday Wizard (1887).

    Soon he was lead to their ant pile, a mere four yards away from the picnic site, directly in front was a large tree. Looking up he saw the branches extending in every direction, guiding winds and creatures to new paths as assigned by nature. There was a connection that lead Alfred closer to the tree and as he reached out something appeared in his mind- courtesies. Softly, he asked the tree for permission to touch it and like a gentle nod, the tree swerved and agreed.

    On that day, Alfred Luxos discovered that he was an arboltongue, possessing the innate ability to speak to trees. That began his lifelong quest to perfect his new talent, leading to the publication of Arbolverbology and the Everyday Wizard.

    From there he was able to communicate to the oldest living things on earth; it was there he discovered that every country was one land mass millions of years ago.     


    Sean isn’t here as expected. Maribelle cracks her knuckles and gazes at the work in front of her. Just last week, she opened up to Sean about her fantasy writing: she thought he would have appreciated it more. Sean is an advocate for Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, but when Maribelle showed him an excerpt of her work, all he did was push her away. She copied and pasted her best paragraph, just hoping to get a gesture of constructive criticism from someone she liked. Instead, he ignored her, a habit of his. It wasn’t until she confronted him about it during lunch the next day that he told her what he felt.

    “I don’t waste time on stupid shit.” While waving a hand at her face. So lazily did he flick his wrist; It should cost more effort to maneuver oneself to give such a collected and patronizing whisk.

    Maribelle didn’t cry, she just laughed. Playing along to their joke where she is the punchline.

    She looks across again into the gimmicky homes. Maribelle realized that she couldn’t exactly remember which one was Grace’s. She can only recall that it was on that strip.


    Maribelle squints her eyes at two figures, sitting on the porch and possibly giggling at one another. It is too far to really notice, yet somehow she knew that it is playful and fun. Whatever they are doing is more exciting than her writing.

    Maribelle felt her phone vibrate then she glances at the screen, the brightness staining her eyes.


    Sean: gonna be late, is 8 good?


    She looks up again and notices the distinct maroon bike that can only belong to Sean Wilcox. Maribelle cackles in disbelief that quickly changes to sorrow before, a thought.

    Sean and Grace, sitting in a tree.


    She shuts her laptop and searches for the keys to her car. Maybe there is a malicious ogre looking out for her wellbeing all along. Maybe it wasn’t a pink envelope, but a message she had been craving all along. An excuse her own self to finally believe that Sean Wilcox is not worthy of her affection.

    Maribelle steps into her car in awe and relaxation; she doesn’t feel so exhausted anymore as her nose tickles for a sneeze.

Alyssa Fernandezshort story