A Poem For My “Cousin’s” 18th Birthday

Dear Jazmine,

By Briahna DeAnda


You are my cousin

Not by blood

But by heart


You are beautiful

You outshine

All others


You are strong

I see your resilience

In everything you do


You are loved

By your family

Of blood and of heart


You are an adult now

Ready to take on the world

I trust you’ll change it for better


You must never forget

That things will always get better

If you keep on keeping on


Focal Piece #1 – My Love for Hate and Murder – First Line Literary Journal Submission


Focal Piece #1 – My Love for Hate and Murder – First Line Literary Journal Submission

George pressed the call button and said, “Mrs. Whitfield, you have a visitor.”

“Who is it?” My mother’s voice crackled through the speaker.

“Mr. Vicdon and his son.” George replied.

“Send them up. But first tell them Evai isn’t feeling well. Or that she’s working. Tell them she’s working! Then tell Evai to get herself up here. She was supposed to be here getting ready a long time ago!” Mother was very obviously upset with me. I’m a very punctual person, you see. It wasn’t like me to hide away when I had an appointment. And that was a very important appointment. I had to apologize for something I said. But I had a different plan.

He turned away from the speaker and glanced at me hiding in the mail room. “You need to go, Evai. I know you don’t feel like seeing anyone today, least of all him, but at least humour your poor mama.” George took the book from me. I looked up at him. Mr. George Owens was a very tall, very old, very kind black man. I always did what he told me. I always did what everyone told me. Except for that day. And that other day when I said something I wasn’t supposed to. More on that later.

I stood slowly and made my way upstairs. But I didn’t go to my apartment. This is where I began my other plan.

You see, I had already met Mr. Carl Vicdon and his son, Nick Vicdon, at the fall masquerade the previous month. I remember the exact moment I first laid eyes on Nick. My heart began to race. My hands got all sweaty. A fiery warmth exploded within me. To top it all off, I could tell something similar was happening to him.

Later that evening he introduced himself. We danced. We talked about how our parents were eager to marry us off. We laughed. Our parents met. They arranged for us to meet twice a week for the next month. It was obvious they wanted to marry us.

I learned a lot from those meetings. He told me his favorite food- scones. His favorite drink – herbal tea. I found out what was he was deathly allergic to. He told me about his love for swimming. I found out that every day after practice he brews tea and drinks it alone on his back porch. I’m sure he told me lots of other things, but that’s all I remembered. That’s all I needed to remember for my mission, my other plan.

“Hello, best friend Edward. Is everything ready?” I asked as I walked into the hotel kitchen. We had grown up in this kitchen, Edward and I. His mother is the head chef and my father owns the hotel, so we spent a lot of time running around the hotel together. As a result, we know where every single security camera is in the entire building, which doors leading outside don’t lock, how to hack into the security system, where the security camera blind spots are, which hotel staff will look the other way if given some money, and lots of other useful things.

“Yep. I have all the herbs bagged, the scones are boxed, I even put it all in a pretty basket.” Edward handed me the basket. “You’re sure he asked for catnip in two of the tea bags, best friend, Evai?” He turned away from the security camera and winks. I turned towards the camera before I replied.

“Yes, it is a very strange request. But it’s what he asked for. And making sure this basket is perfect is the least I can do, since I rejected him and all. Thanks again, Edward.” I then made my way to the apartment.

My mother was clearly upset with me when I finally arrived, though she was trying to hide it. “Evai, darling, where have you been?”

“I was picking this up for Nick.” I told Mother.  “I’m sorry it made me late.” I then turn to Nick. “ And… for everything I said.” I flashed a sheepish smile and handed the basket to Nick, “I wasn’t feeling well that day, you see.”

“Thank you, Evai!” Nick exclaimed. “Though you really didn’t have to do all this, all I wanted was the tea.”

“Oh, but I did have to, Nick.” The fiery warmth roiled within me.

The rest of the afternoon was boring. Just the usual small talk and looking cute and innocent. I did try to subtly say “I want you” and “I’m sorry” to Nick throughout the hour. That entertained me until they had to leave. But before they left for Nick’s swimming practice, Nick pulled me to the side.

“Meet me behind my house after practice, okay?” He asked. I said okay.

Edward and I spent the next three hours poring over maps, figuring out the safest way to get to and from the Vicdon’s house. (Safe meaning the way with the most security cameras.)

Finally, the time came. I walked to Nick’s. I smiled the whole way there. By the time I got to the house, my heart was pounding. The fiery warmth that I felt every time I saw or thought of him had spread to my entire body. I was ready to complete my mission. I had him in my grasp, all that was left to do was squeeze.

“Hi, Evai.” Nicked was leaning against the rail of his back porch. I made sure I was standing in full view of the security camera on his house before speaking.

“Why did you want me to come over?”

“I know you rejected me once, but the way you’ve been acting recently… Today, and the day before… It makes me think… Maybe… You changed…” He trailed off. I knew what he was trying to ask. He wanted to marry me. Our parents wanted us to marry. I shook my head, almost apologetically, and left. As I walked away, my back to the camera, I said –

“Make the tea from the bags with the red string. It will make you feel all better.”

The next day I was told Nick had committed suicide. I cried. I told the police it was my fault, that I had rejected him twice, that he had told me to get him tea bags, some with catnip in it, that I had given it to him, that I didn’t know he was deathly allergic to catnip. I put on a grand old show, with the tears and the story. Edward backed me up too. The security cameras confirmed everything I said. No one was the wiser.

A few months have passed since then. I’m in my room watching the news. Mr. Vicdon is opening a public herb garden and pool in honor of his son and suicide awareness. I feel next to nothing, just as I did before I had met Nick. I miss that all consuming hatred. Just as I am lost in my reminiscing, the door to my room opens.

“Hello, best friend Evai,” Edward says as he walks in. “Reminiscing?”

“How did you know?”

“I’ve been doing that a lot recently too, and I make the same face.” He sits next to me on the bed. “That was a lot of fun. I loved doing that research on and spying on him. And I got a kick out of watching him die on that security camera footage.” I nod in agreement.

“I had fun messing with him too. Pretending to be innocent and vulnerable was surprisingly enjoyable too.” I sigh.

“I want to do it again.” I turn off the TV and face Edward. “There’s a jerk staying in room 226. I know it’s close to home, but he’s even worse than Nick was, even more of a cheating player, and we can mix up the locations of the other victims later on. And sometimes we could switch roles and -”

“Edward. Stop right there. I’m in. I’ll do anything to feel that hatred and exhilaration again. Plus, I already have some of that guy’s information.”

“Murder buddies?”

“Even better – serial killer buddies.” We bro-fist and begin planning our next attack.