Seraphina: The Musical

Seraphina: The Musical

(feat. borrowed songs from various sources)


Seraphina can be seen from the view of the window, with sunlight softly draping her and the bed.

An alarm from her phone rings out from the desk, accompanied by a groan as she further squints her eyes and rolls on her side, dragging the blanket over her head. A few moments pass before she abruptly pushes the blanket off herself before sitting up and rubbing her eyes. One can now see her luscious strawberry blond hair, which flows down to her waist in waves. As she raises her hand up to brush her hair aside, scars can be seen surrounding her wrist, with some having faded and others fresh.


[“When Will My Life Begin” begins to play]



6 a.m. It’s always been the usual.

Tears still dewy on my face; what’s new?

Time to present myself to the world again

Maybe a halter top and some jeans will do

And so I’ll head on in

To this marble bathroom

Brush my hair a bit, wince when it’s all tangled up

Apply some concealer

And lips and basically

Just wonder when will my life begin?



Honey, it’s time to head out now.


Seraphine sighs before grabbing her backpack. She pauses in front of the mirror for the last time before raising her wrist up, making sure the scars are concealed. Satisfied, she walks out her bedroom door.



So, how was the math test yesterday Sera? You told me you had one last week right?



It was the same as usual; I got a perfect score. The same goes for my English test. My teacher felt obligated to give us one after her recent breakup.



Really now? I’ll have to talk to your principal about that. I can’t have my daughter’s perfect academic record be marred by some woman’s personal problems.



Mom, you really don’t have to do that. Stanford won’t accept me if they think I can’t do anything without my mother looming over my shoulder.


You’re right honey. Besides, it’s not as if you’ve ever let me down before. You won’t let me down right?


The car halts to a stop at a red light as Seraphina’s mother turns around with a smile, though not for long as her face twists into a grotesque expression. Her eyes have widened, her teeth exposed and lifted up in a dark smile. Seraphina grimaces, not yet used to this foreigner that she calls her mother.



As your future, I will not disappoint you.


Her mother reverts back to her usual form as she straightens herself out, pressing two fingers against her cheeks to evaluate for wrinkles. She then places her hand atop Seraphina’s head.


I knew I could count on you, darling.


Seraphina exits the car and crosses the street before ascending the sidewalk. She hears her mother’s goodbye echo across the street, but she doesn’t bother turning around.

[“When Will My Life Begin” resumes playing]



And so I’m back to this dreadful place called FV

Filled with fakes, but I guess I’m one too

Hiding it all with a couple of smiles

And I hope that one day some guy will skate by and oof

If only lightning could strike me here right now

I only wish for this pain to dissipate

And I’ll just scream and cry and scream and cry some more

Stuck in the same place I’ve always been

And I’ll keep wondering and wondering and wondering and wondering

When will my life begin?


A cold breeze sweeps through, slightly lifting up Seraphina’s skirt as she shivers.



I regret wearing thin stockings instead of jeans.


She laughs.



At least this is one bad decision I can afford to make.


Her smile quickly disappears as she remembers her destination. The ASB room, where her role as vice president didn’t measure up to that of treasurer or parliamentarian. And it was only because of her. Celia Knightley. The president of ASB. She checks her phone, noticing the still early time, but even so, she starts to quicken her pace. Early as it is, she’s expected to be there even earlier.


Seraphina opens the door to the ASB room.



My, my, my. Look who just arrived.


Celia rises up from her seat and approaches Seraphina. She gazes at her affectionately before bending down and poking her in the chest.



You’re late.



I’m sorry. Traffic was bad this morning and…


Bryce Wagner, Celia’s boyfriend and ASB’s treasurer, walks up to her.



Making excuses again, Seraphina? You’ve been trying to squirm your way out of a lot of problems recently.



Shut up, Bryce. I’m telling the truth…



Uh uh uh

Do you remember our deal, sweet Seraphina?


[“Poor Unfortunate Souls” begins to play]


Celia circles Seraphina, placing her hands on her shoulders after.



It was only three years ago when I met you

You came up and cried to me “Please help.

I’m new here and all alone

Please won’t you be my friend?”

And I couldn’t help but feel ashamed for you

Now fortunately I felt a bit generous

It’s a trait that you may say saved your life

So I decided to take you in

You grew famous overnight

Only in exchange for being my little pet

Otherwise you’d just be

A poor unfortunate soul

So I wouldn’t complain if I were you, sweet Sera.





Karen Knightley, ASB’s parliamentarian and Celia’s twin sister. She comes up to Seraphina, wrapping one arm around her, while petting her head with the other.



Don’t worry sweetie. You do yours and … let’s see… our jobs, and we’ll make sure your reputation remains as it is. Just a few paperwork and phone calls and you’ll continue to have every girl and guy constantly begging for your attention.



Now off with you, Seraphina. The three of us have important things to discuss, but make sure to come back at lunch for our meeting. It’d be a shame if you weren’t here to help us.


Seraphina walks towards the door before stopping and looking back.



I assume you want me to go with the same ex – reason again?



Say whatever you want. It doesn’t matter to us.


As Seraphina leaves:



So, what should I wear to the winter formal?


The brisk air meets Seraphina once again. She brushes back a strand of her hair behind her ear before turning towards the school gate.



You poor unfortunate soul


Seraphina gasps, dropping her books, expecting to see Celia and her entourage mocking her once more as she turns around. Instead, she comes face to face with Kisa Knightley.



Kisa Knightley. I didn’t mean to startle you.



You’re fine. I’m Seraphina… Vo.


She bends down to pick up her books, completely forgiving Kisa once she offers her assistance.


So, I didn’t really mean to eavesdrop, but my cousins were really ripping into you earlier, huh?



You’re their cousin? Oh god, you’ve no need to help me then. I’m sorry for losing my composure earlier.



Calm down. Please, calm down. I’m not like them, don’t worry. And believe me, I’m thankful for that.


She laughs, causing Seraphina to chuckle alongside her. Immediately, it feels strange. It’s been a while since she’s felt such an emotion. For once, her lips have curled up on their own. Meanwhile, Kisa’s aura seems to release warmth and comfort, while her jet black hair perfectly frames her face.



So being a cousin to the Knightleys… What’s that like?



I’ve been indifferent to it, but if I had to spend as much time with them as you do, I’d probs go crazy.



Probs go crazy?



Oh, I just returned to school here. Sorry, did I leave that out earlier?





A group of students suddenly rush up to Seraphina, chattering excitedly.



Sera! Come get boba drinks with us! You promised that you would last time, remember?


Standing up, she brushes off the rest of the dust on her skirt, giving them a forced smile, an action she’s repeated throughout her years of high school – through the pain.



It seems I did if you guys remember it. Give me a minute to say goodbye first.


She turns around to face Kisa, with a face she can only guess is regret seeing as she was smiling only moments ago. Before she can open her mouth, Kisa interjects.


Don’t apologize, I completely understand dude. If anything, could I just get your number in case I have any questions?



Of course! Feel free to give me yours too! And if you didn’t mention what happened earlier…



Look, you shouldn’t let my cousins push you around like that. You’re in a pretty high position right? Stand up for yourself. But don’t worry, your secret’s safe with me.


After giving her a smile of gratitude, she turns around to join the others, offering complimentary laughs here and there. Though her wish had been granted three years ago, she has yet to feel fulfilled. Though they flock around her, they share no interests with her. No commonalities. Just another reason why the pain continues to seep through.


[“Almost There” begins to play]


The group of students freeze in place. Seraphina is the only one that’s able to move.



I’m almost there, I’m almost there

Just two more years of this forsaken place and no more pretending

I thought it’d help if I had friends

But the happiness ceases to come

At least I’m almost there




And that’s how you find the molarity and molality from the balanced chemical equation. Any questions?


A student from the corner of Seraphina’s eye begins to raise their hand, only to stop when two other students walk in, one of them being Kisa. The other, presumably an office aid, leaves immediately after handing Ms. Crim, the beloved chemistry teacher, a slip of paper.



It seems we have a new student everyone. Kisa, you can sit next to Seraphina in the front row. Please take out a piece of paper for notes.


Hey dude, long time no see. Seems we have the same chem class now.



Seems like it. Can I see your schedule? I’ll see if we have any other classes while you finish up that slide of notes.


She glances at the schedule, only to see the next slide transition in. Still, she had seen enough to determine that Kisa had her exact same schedule.



So? What’s it look like?



Seems like we have the same classes.


Kisa smirks before bringing her attention back to her notebook.



Today, I expect total silence. Read your books, play your games, study for the test you have tomorrow. And please for the love of the deities above. Don’t piss me off.



What’s got her hair frizzed?



Constant love problems. She just can’t seem to score a man after she was stood up on the altar.





[“I Won’t Say (I’m in Love)” begins to play]


A spotlight shines onto Ms. Wales.



If there’s a prize for rotten judgement,

I guess I’ve already won that

I’m already in my 30s and yet

No man has yet to share a bed with me since then

I feel so cheated, so betrayed

Honey, we were one and all the same

Why’d you have to leave me


Ms. Wales twirls to the front, the students behind her.



Ooooh nooo!


Don’t you know what I’m going through right now

Swiping left and right

Still they keep on leaving

Should I go for forty five year olds?






I’ll meet up with you later, Kisa. I have a meeting to get to.



No worries. Hope you have fun.


Seraphina couldn’t bring herself to say “thanks.” ASB was only a stepping ladder for her to achieve her goals by now. There was no fun to be found. There never will be with the Knightleys around – yet she can’t bring herself to escape.



… And finally, Lacy and Eric, don’t forget about turning in your parent consent forms for the next volunteer event. If anyone has any questions, feel free to come up and talk to me. Unfortunately, our president and a few other board members had some work to do today, and as you know, our secretary is currently in the hospital recovering from her surgery. Be sure to fill out the “get well” card before the end of this meeting. Thanks for coming everyone.



Dang, you really are busy aren’t you, Seraphina?



Yea, but it’ll all pay off. Eventually.



Take it easy, alright?



And that’s it for the first day of school for me. Phew. I have to say that I’m exhausted. How did I do this 2 years ago?



What? Don’t you mean last year?



Nahh. But it’s kinda a long story.



Is it really, dear cousin?


Celia strides up to them, hands on hip, hair pinned back flawlessly. Karen stands behind her, checking her nails, while Bryce simply glares as he crosses his arms.



I never would’ve thought that today would be our reunion day cous’. It’s been a while, you know. And yet, no phone call.



Shove it, Celia. You know damn well that my expulsion was your fault.





That’s right, Sera dear. Kisa Knightley here, our dear cousin, got herself expelled from this school two years ago, and she thinks that it’s my fault. Now isn’t that silly?


Karen snakes up to Seraphina, taking her into her arms. Once again, she has one hand on top of Seraphina’s head, petting her gently.



Why it’s hilarious, of course. How could my sister play any part in you stealing the principal’s car? And crashing it on the freeway later nonetheless?



Oh, shut up. You know damn well you handed me those keys, claiming that your mom, my aunt, was suffering from a stroke, and that I should rush to your house while you called for help.


Sorry to say this, but you’re delusional, cousin.


Hey, girls, maybe we should chill. Her expulsion is over with already.



My, my, my. One day with her and you’re already on the defensive. Tell me, Seraphina, whose side are you on?




[“Candy Store” begins to play]



Are we gonna have a problem?

You got a bone to pick?

I’ve raised you from nothing

Why now are you baring your teeth?

I’d normally cast you aside now

And you can say goodbye to the fame

But I’m feeling nice

Here’s some advice

Listen up, my pet!



Sera, we’re going. Now.



If you lack the guts

Like a little mutt

Let me throw you one last bone




Karen throws Seraphina towards the ground, joining Celia along with Bryce. They shake their hips back and forth, extending their arms towards the group of students now watching.



Or you can ditch her

Come on back to me

Keep your place in ASB


Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!


Honey, whatchu waitin’ for?

Welcome to my candy store

Time for you to prove

You’re not a dumb dog anymore

Then step into my candy store


Celia extends her hand towards Seraphina with a smirk, confident that Seraphina will undoubtedly come back to her. Seraphina glances back at Kisa who smiles and extends her own hand.



I’m sorry.


Celia laughs wickedly as Seraphina grabs her hand. She pulls her up as Karen clutches onto her once more.



Let’s move Seraphina.


Karen drags Seraphina towards the gate, the others trailing behind with smug smiles on their faces. She attains one last look at Kisa, only to see disappointment frown back before she starts walking away.



Omg. Like, what a loser.


The students that gathered around earlier laugh.


Seraphina sighs, resting her head on the open textbook on her desk. She runs a hand through her hair exasperatedly.


Did I make the right choice? I shouldn’t have left Kisa like that.


Oh, what will you do?


Seraphina turns around to see her mother standing in front of her mirror.



Mother… What are you doing here?



Well, I couldn’t help but hear your predicament. Leaving your new-found friend, hmm? I never knew you to be so… rude.


But, I couldn’t risk it. If I had stayed with her, my position in ASB would have been taken away.


Now, we can’t have that, can we?


Aria’s face grows dark, the smile that graced her lips moments ago, fades away.



Without ASB, your credibility will simply vanish. All you’ll have left are your grades. But, even so, what good are those alone? What will those administrators at Stanford think? Those at Harvard?


I… I don’t know.



You better make the right choice, Seraphina. Anything that will get you closer to success.

Sage, Seraphina’s older sister, enters the room.


Sera, who are you talking to?


Mom. She’s right here.


Seraphina points to where her mother stood, only to find out that nobody was there. She gasps, desperately looking around the room for her mother. She hears Sage sigh.



Have you been taking your medication, Sera?


I don’t need to take anything. I’m not broken.



But you are. Mom’s gone. Just get over it. Dad and I don’t need you to remind us every day. Keep taking your medicine and everything will be fine.


Sage walks over to Seraphina’s desk and uncaps a medication bottle. She takes one pill out and hands it to Seraphina, along with a water bottle. Seraphina accepts the two items, gulping down the medicine. Even so, she doesn’t feel any different.



But, Sage, it’s not just this. I – I don’t feel alright. Not even after this medicine. Please, just hear me out.


I’ve heard you enough, Seraphina. Always blabbering about your grades, your future, even in the car. That’s why I always wear earbuds around you. I get that you made mom a promise, but really.


[“Yo Girl” begins to play]



Your problems seem like life and death

I promise you they’re not

I’ve been through high school before

Just deal with it on your own.

Some of us have to study too, you know.


Sage leaves, slamming the door on her way out. Seraphina, curls up into a ball on her floor with tears streaming down her cheeks.



Alright, everyone. Take out something to write with and put everything else away. You may start as soon as you get the test.


It’s been a whole day and some since Seraphina has talked to Kisa. She tries her best to avoid her ever since the incident on Wednesday, and she can tell Kisa has been too. Seraphina can only imagine the glares Kisa must cast her way. Shaking off these thoughts, she brings her attention back to the test.


Seraphina sighs, running a hand through her hair, while Karen has her arm around her.



So, where are we going?


The ASB room, of course. Celia and Bryce will meet us there. We just decided that we’d help you for today’s meeting. Think of it as a thank you for sticking with us yesterday.


Karen opens and holds the door for Seraphina, and when she enters, she sees Celia sitting near the wall, as if a queen. The other ASB students are standing on either side of her, looking confused or anxious.



Seraphina! So nice of you to join us. Wouldn’t want to keep your surprise waiting, do we now?


Celia winks, just as a notification pops up on Seraphina’s phone.



Looks like that’s for you. Why don’t you check it?


Seraphina glances at her phone, realizing that it’s a notification from Canvas for her recent English test grade. Opening it, she sees a 0/30 besides 4/8/18 English Test. She can feel tears spring up in her eyes as she finds it difficult to breathe.



I’m disappointed, Seraphina.


Seraphina looks up to see her mother, a scowl across her face.



You promised me you’d do well before I died. You promised!



Like what you see?


Seraphina looks up, the tears now streaming freely down her cheeks. The rest of the ASB students rush forward, only to stop when Bryce and Karen extend their arms in front of them. Celia stands up and approaches Seraphina, lifting her chin up.


You know, funny story. We all know Ms. Wales is constantly on the lookout for love, so I made her an offer she couldn’t resist. A date with an executive at my father’s company. But like always, my generosity doesn’t come for free. I told her about the problems that I’ve been having with a certain student and asked if she could tweak her test score, if just a little bit.


Stanford will never accept you now!


Celia laughs, but to Seraphina, it sounds far away. She feels her phone slipping out of her hand, hearing the thump a second later as it lands on the floor. She grasps her head, screaming in anguish as she drops to the floor.



I hope there’s no hard feelings, dear. I just needed to show you what would happen were you to go against me. Trust me, this isn’t even that bad.


Suddenly, Kisa bursts through the door, shoving Celia aside.



You’ve reached a new low, Celia. She already went with you yesterday. None of this is necessary!



Eavesdropping again, cousin? Back off. She doesn’t need anymore influence from a loser like you.


Celia grabs Seraphina’s hands, pulling her towards the other side of the classroom. With hesitance, Seraphina yanks her arm away, grasping it as she steps back.



What do you think you’re doing?


Without a word, Seraphina walks over to Kisa and takes her hand.



Get me out of here.


With a nod, Kisa tightens her grip on Seraphina’s hand, leading her out of the room.


As they leave:



You’ll regret this, Seraphina!


Seraphina steps out from the Uber as Kisa pays, making a mental note to pay her back later. She walks over to a patch of clean grass, sitting down with a sigh. Kisa walks over soon after. She sits down and wraps an arm around Seraphina.



You shouldn’t be near me. I’m broken.



That’s not true.


Seraphina turns to face Kisa in anger.



Then, explain to me! Explain to me how seeing my dead mother appear in front of me, mocking me about my failures is not due to my broken mind. Explain to me why taking medication every day doesn’t seem to cure the pain I constantly feel. Explain to me why I can’t seem to fight back, no matter what. Explain! Explain to me how I’m not broken! Because I am!


Kisa envelops Seraphina in a hug.


[“Rise” begins to play]



Please don’t cry anymore

It hurts me more than you

I don’t have the answers to it all

But I can say one thing for sure

When, when the darkness engulfs you once again

And your fears all start multiplying

I’ll stay with you

I love you, Sera

There’s no doubt at all

This is no mistake, no accident

My heart calls this love at first sight

Let me stay with you

Because I swear

I love you, Sera


Sera raises her head up to look into Kisa’s eyes, who in turn, stands up and extends her hand. Seraphina hesitates before smiling and grabbing it with full confidence. Kisa holds Seraphina tightly in her arms.



So, what do you say?


[“Seventeen” begins to play]



Can’t we be seventeen?

That’s all I want to do

Cast away all your worries

I could be good with you


You can’t fix me.


I don’t need to

In my eyes

You’re perfect as is

So please will you?


Seraphina smiles, knowing what Kisa will say.



Take a deep breath


We can ditch school more often now

We’ll get smoothies


Study calculus


Kisa rolls her eyes, though her smile remains.



And we’ll go shopping in the mall

Maybe ‘gram “us”


Maybe snap “us”


Don’t stop looking in my eyes


Your eyes


Let’s just be seventeen!

We can be happy together

Let all the drama fade behind

We only need each other

Let us be seventeen

While we’ve still got the chance


Kisa and Seraphina gaze into the other’s eyes, before melting into each other’s embrace.


Seraphina crosses the street and ascends the sidewalk, only to stop in her tracks when she hears Kisa call out for her.



Seraphina! Wait up!


Seraphina waits for Kisa to catch up, smiling bashedly when she clutches her hand. Together, they walk hand-in-hand to the ASB room. Though Seraphina is nervous in facing Celia after yesterday, she feels powerful with Kisa by her side. When they reach the ASB room, Seraphina gasps at the note taped to the door, tears threatening to stream down once again.


Seraphina Vo no longer holds the position of vice-president of ASB. She has been kicked out due to neglecting her duties.

Ms. Vo, when you see this, please report to the principal’s office to discuss the actions that now need to be taken.


Celia, Karen, and Bryce walk up to Kisa and Seraphina, laughing.



Don’t say that I never warned you.


Karen and Bryce stick out their hands, making the shape of an “L”





The three walk into the ASB room, laughing. Seraphina immediately lets go of Kisa’s hands and runs off towards her home.



Seraphina! Wait!


The cars and traffic lights whisk past Seraphina as she rushes home. Cars honk at each other, but she doesn’t bother looking. She doesn’t feel tired, not even when she reaches her house. Opening the door, she goes to the bathroom, opening the medicine cabinet. She grabs the first three pill bottles in front of her, dropping to the ground as she opens each of them. Spilling them out onto the floor, she grabs a handful and prepares to pop them into her mouth. Suddenly, her hand is knocked away by Kisa.



What do you think you’re doing?


Kisa firmly grips both of Seraphina’s arms as she glares at Seraphina.



How’d you even get here?


You didn’t even bother to lock the front door earlier. What are you thinking?


Seraphina struggles in vain as Kisa’s grip only strengthens.



I’m thinking that it’d be better for me to leave this world. I’ve tried this before. I’m not afraid to try it again.



Better for who? You? Don’t be so selfish.


Seraphina drops her arms to the ground.



What’s the point anymore? Everything that I’ve worked for. Gone. Just like that.


Don’t be so sure of that. Your friends are helping you as you speak right now.



Friends? The only friend I have is you.


And the other ASB students.



Them? But they’re all under Celia’s control. There’s no way they’d help me.


Kisa releases her grip on Seraphina’s arms, grasping her hands instead.



Have a little faith, Sera. You’re not alone.


[“Disappear” begins to play]



No one deserves to be forgotten

No one deserves to fade away

No one should vanish so soon

And have everyone mourn them out of guilt

No one deserves to disappear

To disappear




[“Disappear” continues playing]



Can I trust that you are all telling the truth?



Of course, sir. Celia and Karen Knightley and Bryce Wagner are the ones neglecting their duties, not Seraphina Vo.


Well then, I guess I have to go over this later with all of them. I ask that you join me that day.



Of course, sir!


It’s been a couple of days since Seraphina’s suicide attempt, but with Kisa’s help, she’s recovering, especially after her ASB friends visited her over the weekend. They ensured her that her position would be fine. In fact, when they talked to the principal in the morning, he offered her the position of president after Celia and the others confessed, no longer able to hide the truth with that many glares trained on them.



Are you ready, Seraphina?


Yup, as ready as I’ll ever be.


Seraphina grabs the microphone from Richard and walks to the front of the bowl. She turns around to face the others, who all offer a thumbs-up. She taps the microphone, catching other students’ attention.



Hey everyone. You may or may not know me, but I’m Seraphina Vo. I’m here today to deliver an important message to those that may be dealing with depression, just like I have. I want to remind you that you’re not alone.


She pauses, looking down to see Kisa sitting in the front, who gives her a thumbs-up. Taking a deep breath, she looks up again and smiles.



You’re never alone.

[“Disappear” resumes playing]



No one deserves to be forgotten

No one deserves to fade away

No one should vanish so soon

And have everyone mourn them out of guilt

No one deserves to disappear

To disappear


When you’re falling in a forest

And there’s nobody around

Look to the stars and know somebody’s coming

When you’re falling in a forest

And the clouds start to pour

Know there’s someone that’s bound to come running


Seraphina smiles as a crowd of students gather, clapping their hands along the beat or hugging one another. She looks down to see Kisa in the front row, cheering her on. And for the 30th time today, she’s glad she didn’t choose to disappear.



A Letter

Recently, I was given an opportunity to write a letter to people in power and tell them any complaints, wants, or comments I had. With some thought, I chose to address my letter to the school principal, in which I advocated for the establishment of a creative writing competition for Fountain Valley High School. Having witnessed STEM focused competitions in my school, such as Academic Decathlon and Science Olympiad, which are also celebrated nationally, I felt conflicted that there weren’t any competitions that focused more on the liberal arts. I believe STEM is not for everyone, and having something a bit more out of the box will allow those that are artistically skilled (in writing) to showcase their talent.

With that said, here’s the letter I sent –

Dear Dr. Smith,

As a student at Fountain Valley High School, I’ve gotten to see the various extracurricular activities the school has to offer. As an ambitious incoming freshman last year, I knew of the competition that would await me, most certainly at a higher and more advanced level than any exhibited at my middle school. Before Club Rush came along last year, I had heard pieces of information, some true, and some not true from my friends, whose sources were those that had connections with the older students or teachers. Through them, Academic Decathlon and the Science Olympiad were two clubs that stood out to me, both being academic rather than non-curricular clubs. However, I had to choose only one due to my schedule that consisted of all honors classes and my parents’ schedules, in which my choice in the end was to join Academic Decathlon.

I stepped into Academic Decathlon with enthusiasm, thinking of how I could utilize my skills at writing to possibly win awards and how it would be a good addition to my college resume. However, I quickly lost interest in the club, deciding to quit after a couple of months. It was a tough decision to make for my ego, but I knew I couldn’t present my best efforts without any interest in the topic at all. At that time, the club was focusing on World War II, with categories including music, an essay portion, interviewing, and a book that had to be read before the competition date. With only an interest in writing, I felt overwhelmed. The thought of having to memorize dozens of pages of information took a toll on me mentally. Not to mention, the subject was something that I never would have considered fun to go through, especially since it was based on yet another subject, social studies. In a mock essay round, I got a score of 500/1000 with no prior knowledge of World War II when going through it. It was at that point that I knew I was in the wrong club.

With social studies, science, and math presented in the form of competitions for the students here at Fountain Valley High School, I can’t help but wonder where the English portion is, more specifically, creative writing. While STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) is often being pushed as curriculum choices in schools, liberal art subjects still remain and are typically undervalued compared to STEM. Still, there are important jobs relating to the liberal arts, including journalism and advertising or marketing.

Creative writing has always been a passion of mine, the idea of coming up with one’s own worlds and sharing them to friends or the public for their enjoyment exciting. My goal remains to spread smiles on people’s faces as they read my stories or have them willingly become immersed into the world, similar to Harry Potter. With this, I am advocating for the establishment of a writing competition in Fountain Valley High School, giving students with similar interests a chance to express their strength(s). Unlike topics discussed in competitions the school is currently entering in, addressed above, students may be more comfortable with genres such as horror, thriller, or fantasy due to having seen or experienced them. Their abstractness allows one to adjust them to their liking instead of having to stick to structured concepts. Should the basis for a writing competition be established at this school, I also hope for it to spread to the other schools in the Huntington Beach City School District. Similar to almost every other competition, prizes should be offered in terms of medals and the ability to include the wins into college applications.


I look forward to hearing your opinion on this matter.

Kind regards,

Tracey Huynh (410607) – Sophomore


Caged In White

(1) Oasis – Paradise (Lava by James Ford Murphy)

Oasis Ave.

image by Tracey Huynh

Oasis Avenue, named from bright green leaves. The folded stack of dollar bills in return for my laptop and stiff gold bands in another’s hands. I only wish for some of the fresh green back to replace my bent screen door. The other leaves have been cleared out, though their fan-like tips stunted after the sparks flew and the red and blue lights came flashing by.

There is a school nearby, the name matching that of their mascot, of which I can still remember: Warner Wildcats. My house lies on the front lines, available to anyone’s eyes. That one-story building with a massive garden, 5 small bedrooms holding 5 individuals, 4 of whom picked the atrocious yellow-painted exterior.

A grand staircase in mind, two stories better than one. The double floors beside our low roof overshadowing in all perspectives, but the evening sun still pierces through our bedroom window. Wealth. The upper middle class to the middle-middle class to the lower middle class. With no idea of where we were, I only knew I wanted to be up high. To give my family what they wanted – to give myself the pride of calling things mine.

Oasis Street. Formed through ugly wanting. I was a piece of the black tar road, mowed over by equally black tires. How could I ever leave my kind?

(2) And the world Was still Gray (I See the Light by Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi)

cute baby

image Picography 2016© (CC0 1.0)

Does anyone ever wonder where they came from?

Well I do, along with my red brothers and sisters

Strange how I can identify them so easily

But when they came, I was called 


What a cutie, you are a very nice boy

You are a very nice girl

And the original always has to clarify, but still they say

What a cutie
My mother was gone soon after

My red brothers and sisters too

Where did they go when the darkness came?

Was I the one that was gone?

Even so, the world was gray

I met someone new the next day 

Not someone, but some people

Were they to replace those that I lost?

No matter, for their hands on my body gave warmth
The pretty one, she is called mama

I have come to like her

She is always in my view, but sometimes

Wrinkles suddenly appear on her face
Every morning, noon, and night

The early bird gets a sigh 

The sleepy owl gets the milk and she says

Con oi, let us have a nap, or at least I can imagine that

From where I was, the world was gray

Now the large one, his name was hardly spoken

I do not know if I am loved by him

So I try to find out, my actions irresistible to some

I kissed, and I cowered. I hugged, and I squealed.
But with all my attempts, a single pat on the head 

Is my reward

If only I had those wide green papers

That tasted so bitter in my mouth
I have noticed their usefulness everywhere I went

Exchanging different numbered ones

For a lamp, some soup, some potatoes

The potatoes only needed a 1, could I buy love with that 1?

Could I make the world less gray?

The other little one, he is my friend, my best friend I should say

No giggle gone unnoticed,  no boredom left alone

I get more hugs from him than any other

Though they become less as he grows older
This family, they age every day

With white-toothed grins and sparkling eyes

To trembling hands and everlasting smiles

And me? I age too you see. But I grow faster in mind.
And comes the day when I want to rest

To hear the birds chirp one last time

As I lay upon the checkered sheets

Watching my family and their bright smiles

As I close my eyes, the world is white.

(3) Promised friends (Hot N’ Cold by Katy Perry)

I was always sheltered, my connections decided for me. On weekends, I would be brought into Lambda, a place where I used to believe there were lambs secretly hidden somewhere. My mom had two best friends, their names gone from my poor memory, the before them given to other family acquaintances by now. These people also had their own children, another girl and a boy. His name was Eric, and hers… I’m not sure. Let’s just place her out of the picture. Eric was my best friend. He would often be there when I was there, and we spent our time exploring or playing games on our outdated electronic devices. A year older than me, I was cautious in my approach. I didn’t want to be left alone.

My mom told me that Eric and I had actually met when we were still babies, a time I thought I was too old for – it brought my hands closer to his. We went to Disneyland together when still in strollers. Our hats matched, but mine was pink and his was blue.


image by Tracey Huynh

We held matching glow wands, his was purple and mine was red. And we watched the night fireworks together. I heard the boom and he saw the flash.



I can almost feel the raised eyebrows, widened eyes, and opened mouth that would ask “why” when I was told I couldn’t go near him anymore. Knowing her, my mother’s reply would be curt and go along the lines of “just because.”

When I saw him sitting by himself on the table doing homework, I couldn’t help but ask. A simple hello would make me happy. Or a hug. A hug would make me happier. To my surprise, she agreed, but only after I told her that this would be the only time. So, I came up beside him, and asked what he was doing, expecting a more exciting answer than the one he would give me, even if I didn’t see anything remotely exhilarating in writing answers on a piece of paper. One word down, silence to come. I sat there, observing the strokes of his pencil. I looked at the tiny black grains embedded in the table. I stared at my shoes and the floor below it. Then came the moment. I needed to know. “Why doesn’t your mom want us to hang out?”

“I don’t know, but I’m not allowed to talk to you anymore.”



I kept true to the promise.

(4) first the colors, then the storm (Yuri on Ice by Taru Omebayashi and Taku Matsushiba)

Naivete. Rapunzel had it when she escaped from her tower, desperate to seek adventure, the thrill that she believed existed in the world. And she was right.

Bright green grass. A taupe little bunny. The yellow, scuffed duckling hanging above the tavern door. It was beauty at its finest. The world was at its finest. Everything was new; everything had yet to be discovered because she was ready. In fact, the world was ready for her.


And that’s how it is as one with limited knowledge. Many expect to open a dictionary, flip through it, and say, “I don’t even use this all the time, you know.” And they might not.


Meanwhile, Rapunzel had a fun time as one would expect. She met some thugs that she could call new friends, battled some royal guards, and revealed her magical hair to Flynn Rider.


A young teenage girl. The outsider. It could be changed. She could be the kind to seek more excitement in her life. From now, the internet is her voice, her safe-haven. Chat rooms, emails, instant message. The sources to meet another playful girl as her. I’ve made a new friend. Indeed.


And now Rapunzel and Flynn have decided to take a break in the woods. They talked, had fun, revealed tales about their personal life. We must be growing closer. Rapunzel’s thoughts then broken by her mother.

This Flynn Rider was not to be trusted. He was only a thief who wanted to take the crown from her possession. To teach her a lesson, Gothel hands her the bag, implementing a “you won’t learn if you don’t find out yourself.”


“Hi, how are you today?”

“Good, how are you? Did you have a fun time at your school today?”

“Eh. My teachers keep assigning more homework. Honestly, it’s so annoying.”

“I know right? Like can they just stop lol”

“I wish. School is a freaking clown show anyway…”



Surprisingly, at least to Rapunzel, Flynn didn’t bring up the topic of the crown at all. Instead, he had danced through the town with her, revealing new things: an atlas and  cupcakes that didn’t come from the thug who was a chef. After it all, the music stopped, the dance having ended with their eyes connected. Onto to the lanterns, and now they’ve reached the end. A touching duet, the night sky filled with vivid, flickering flames.


“Hey dude what’s up?”

“the sky”


“HAHAHA What’d you expect when you asked that honestly step up your game”

“… freak you. Anyway are you still coming over tomorrow???”

“mhm and your parents aren’t home right?”

“nah dude they have work remember?”


They ascend the shore, with fear leading Flynn’s feet deeper into the forest. “I’ll be waiting here.” But those words would turn out to be a lie as she stumbled along, attempting to avoid the scarred twins who were now heading her way. Hair caught, all hope about to be lost on her end, until the cunning Mother Gothel stepped in once more. Betrayal in hand, she led Rapunzel home, reassuring her that this was not her fault. She simply didn’t know that people would turn out this way. She was too naive.


“Hey… turns out my parents came home early. But thats cool right”


“911. What’s your emergency?”

“Hi there. A strange man came to my house looking for my daughter. He knew her name and personal details about her, but she says she doesn’t know him.”

“Oh wait, he said a username of some sort and she said that it belonged to the profile picture of a girl. He refuses to leave.”

“Okay, we’ll be right there.”


The golden sun set once again.


image by Tracey Huynh

(5) Clipped feathers (Satellite by Gabbie Hanna)

Rapunzel, a 17 year old girl trapped in a tower, just happened to have someone agree to release her bonds, to be her savior. What would have happened had she stayed? Alone, there is one who represented that sorry being.

She, who danced around her cage, was beautiful. A dove without a completely white coat of feathers. A peacock without some of its trademark green and blue, and dozens upon dozens of eyes.

Lonesome, she seeked solace in something she can trust. It was located conveniently in the common room, a space large enough for one to prance about. No vases, no bright and alive flowers. Only a carpet, a fireplace, a coffee table, several couches, and the sky. Framed with green palm leaves and delicate pink petals below, the blue was beautifully complimented, with a bit of white to give it some texture. As she stared, she would find her arms raised, a duster in one hand to clean up any tracks that would be left behind. Then, she lifted a black, laced foot, and set it down gently. One minute. She raised the other, extended it forward, then set it back down.

Three minutes. The urge was too strong to resist. She had stretched enough, her legs growing impatient. They brought her along the wall, arms outstretched as she hopped and glided along. She twirled, the white fabric spinning along with her body. She tried to keep it contained, stopping after 2, maybe 3? There was no yearning for the dust that would fly out. Only she was allowed to fly at that moment. 10 minutes.

My brother calls me outside and he says

Let my arms wrap around and keep you warm

But I say no, for I am not cold

This breeze keeps me awake, this breeze keeps me free

She’s never known whether her voice was a soprano or contralto. A robin or its hungry child. Nobody has ever told her so and she wished to know. Oh how she wished. The breeze lifted up her skirt, goosebumps riding up her legs as she stood atop the table, daring herself to go to the edge. And she did. If only someone could have grasped her waist like Jack and Rose. Her name too was a flower. Would she meet someone as chivalrous as Jack. Perhaps his name will be Vack or Nack or Zack instead.

Squaw. The seagulls replied in their own language. Squaw. She called back. They weren’t visible, but she knew they were around. Nestled on the sand. Perched on the tree tops. Rested on the ground. Somewhere among the petals. She extended her own hands towards them, caressing each one that she could see. Mostly pink, but some white. Soft, rough, colorful, flower-like.

My aunt used to hum and she used to sing

Of the flowers that grew on her back windowsill

Their centers bright yellow, the rest green

With black specks while I am covered in it all

20 minutes. The sky did not grow any dimmer. It did not grow any brighter. It just stayed the same, blissful and free. By now, she has danced all around, going near the edges of

beach girl

image adamkontor 2016© (CC0 1.0)

the cliff, then back, the ocean below. If she could just reach a bit further, perhaps she’d be able to touch it from her position. But where she stood was ideal, the center of it all.


Now, it was 30 minutes, and the sky existed no more. It was time to retreat, last touches to be made. The birds all burrowed themselves back into their nests, and those less fortunate, into the thinly spread bushes. The bark around the sky gleamed, quickly wiped by her. Sparkle sparkle. That’s how she imagined the stars to be at night, though the spotted clouds served well enough.


Welcome home madam. Please allow me to escort you to your room to relax.

It is nice to see you’ve been doing your tasks. I expect lunch to be served soon.

Of course.


What they did not know was that lunch had already been prepared, and she had time to rest. After all, she had a busy day. Crossing the common room, she placed her hand on the sky for another moment and breathed in the fresh scent of cigar smoke. The sky. So free, but trapped in the same cage.

(6) From cumulus to cumulonimbus (Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole)

Childhood. That word continues to bring some sense of comfort to my heart, reminding me that I once had a world to discover. Now, I only have ⅘ left to look forward to, ⅕ gone, though that ⅕ was probably the most exciting than what is to come.

I was always enamored by something, the fine detail of anything and everything sure to distract me. In fact, I remember being scared of driving because I had thought to myself: What about all those houses that blur by? The people? The call for attention – the pull – anything but the straight charcoal-black road in front, which stretched for miles and miles and miles.

If only I had a car for that road. That road that led to nowhere, but somewhere at the same time. The road that was meant for walking slowly on, speeding up was an issue. A road that would take a sharp turn and lead into a series of unknown events, making you regret what you wished for before.

A double-rainbow is rare to come across, formed by two reflections in a single raindrop. That’s what they say. How quick I ran for my camera when it came around, the rain having let up, the ground still wet. Sandals would be impractical and putting on sneakers would take too much time. Time is money. So I stared and snapped from the inside of my kitchen. My hands reached for the rainbow behind the glass. I would soar one day is what I told myself.

I am the most expensive person out there, for I have wasted no time. I climbed the ranks in a place with blue seats  that tugged at my hair. School. The most important thing is to get good grades. I listened to those words that spilled out of my parent’s mouths, messily assembled in both Vietnamese and English. I had to conquer, everything and everybody. None would be left unscathed. They would witness my name and my deeds.

All in all, it was still fun. I liked feeling the sun bake my back and burn my hair, where there was always a trusty pine tree to sit under if the weather got too hot.

Then I moved onto a more difficult level in the game. Excuse me, the system. No games were to be played anymore. It was a survival test, with numbers to dictate your time spent in the enclosed area. I found any letter below A hurt my chest. I found numbers less than 90 drew tears from my eyes. I found heartbreak without having experienced love.

video game life

image by Tracey Huynh

Suddenly, the TV was rarely on in my room. I found children smiling- annoying, always presenting them with advice: make sure you value your time now. No more grass and sand. The familiar tile that met wood. That was what I felt.

Through all that, the sun felt colder than usual, the clouds rarely there as I looked out my bedroom window.

Not the boss level yet, but it feels like it. Socializing is easier. I used to be able to approach somebody, ask them for their name, then have a conversation about the different places we’d like to travel to. Japan for the food. Paris for the sights. Canada to experience Canada. Nerve-wracking then, not so much now. Names no longer important, easily found out through flash cards or sticks. Bonding is a piece of cake. Not cheesecake though. There is no tension of whether or not they’ll find my interests to be relatable. All I have to do is approach and ask…


What did you think of that test?


My skin lighter. My hair does not burn as often. My eyes don’t squint as much.

But my eyes have dulled, hazelnut replacing the colored curiosity. So I find myself thinking: If only I could feel the warmth again. If only the sky wasn’t so dark when I finally look up towards it.

(7) I Used to Blame (Glassy Sky by Yutaka Yamada)

I used to blame all the boys in my school, and all the men on the street, whose teeth turned yellow the longer they stood outside. My uncle and grandfather were the exceptions; they were allowed to stay — in the heart that struggled to love. Providing life and love. That was too much work for only 2 arteries and atriums and ventricles and…

Tales used to be told about him and I can only pinpoint them to a blurry-faced man whose clothes smelled of the tar that stained his lungs. A purple plastic spoon was given to him, filled with airy food.


Mmm. It’s delicious.

And I replied with a laugh, saying try some more. And he laughed along.


I felt myself being lifted away, not bridle-style, but the one where warm broad arms were wrapped around my back and legs, and I had two arms free to embrace them back. I could breathe in that moment, letting my exhales grow shorter       inhales longer      

I was placed on the bed and told not to go outside, the door closed just in case. I feel hurt that trust was not yet a factor shared between us. Perhaps that is why I do not throw around my own. It must be earned. “… but you should give everyone the benefit of the doubt at first.”

I had no reason to feel sad or lonely in my shared room. I had all my pillows that smelled like overused comfort and I had my friends that always listened and never countered. Who do you think that man is? Where did he come from? No answer.

When I finally came out, the man was no longer there, and I received no sorry for not getting to say goodbye.


Goodbye mister, I can no longer see you again. Ever, ever again.


I don’t recall the day I was told the story. Of a wicked man they say. Is it my dad? Yes. He is a bad man who left you and forgiveness should never come.

And they continued with the events they’ve seen with their own eyes and the accounts that made the word “ba” without the “câu” in front, feel foreign and bitter. He didn’t want you, they said. He wanted a boy instead, but your mother wanted a girl. She got her wish and he grew bitter.


But why? I am still his daughter.


He refused to take care of me after that, even if half my name existed through him. Huynh. Paired with Tracey, it sounds awkward. Tracey Huynh. I don’t like it, but Tracey was chosen by my grandfather, so I cannot say that I hate it.

When we were celebrating your first birthday, he took all the leftover beer home to his brother and family, leaving none for your grandfather or uncle. When your grandmother had to do laundry, he locked you in a room and went somewhere else. She was in hysteria until she found the spare keys, while I was in hysteria because I wanted milk. What would they call that now? First world problems?

He looked through documents that were private to the others. He went out drinking mostly every day, paying no mind to his work and the family to support. He smoked, even with a baby around. And he left because he didn’t want you.

So then, I started to blame. I blamed all the guys that dangled next to me on the swings. They couldn’t be trusted, an evil within them; they would all leave someone or somebody one day. I did not care about the hurtful words or actions I portrayed. I just wanted them far, far away.

I thought women were superior, so I befriended many. Skeptical no doubt, of the wall that loomed 

with the boys driven away.

Those that ended up falling in love received no support from me. Instead, I questioned whether they were being treated equally and lovingly. A dime a dozen? More like a diamond for one.


I am don’t worry – they would say.

I did not believe them.


When people ask about my father – after my uncle is mentioned to be living with us – I respond with I don’t know where he is.


Why don’t you know?

He left when I was a baby.


And I tell them the elaborate tale. There was no need to make it dramatic; it was already fit for pity. I didn’t need pity.

But then 7th grade came along, and I was put into groups that consisted of some dudes. Safe to say, I yelled at them to do their work, only to regret my harshness when I realized they actually did a good job. A poke at my stubborn soul, I tried making friends with some. Surprised when they didn’t exactly hate me, but they were distrustful.


Why are you being so nice now?

To be honest, I don’t know.


And now I’m here. I’ve had a “fresh start.” At least, that’s what I call it. I’ve made more my friends, acquaintances, and enemies (not surprising). I actually had one “fall in love” with me, but that’s a different story.

I have a temper, a lie I cannot conceal to those closest to me. I’d say I’m patient when things roll over the first time. There are times my voice will rise; there are times I wish not to speak at all. I may lash out unexpectedly, show some selfishness, withdraw myself into a stage of dissociation.


You’ve inherited this brashness from your mother. Your voice is strong, just like your grandmother.


You’re just like your father – their eyes say.


The colors have blurred. Red has been confused with black. Patterns were prints, but prints were not patterns. Pink seemed to resemble blue. So who do I blame now?

Only the one that deserves it.

mi familia

“gia dình” – image by Tracey Huynh

(8) White (Here by Junna, sung by Amanda Lee)

white rose

image Jack Hawley 2008© (CC0 1.0)

Angelica was the name introduced. Not Angelica Hale, though she had an equally beautiful voice. White was her last name. Angelica White. There was no irony when she, who came dressed in a snow-colored dress, said her favorite color was white. Angelica White. The girl who loved white.

When approached, she gave a happy grin, but when asked if she would eat lunch with them, she grimaced. She politely declined, proceeding to say that it she had to attend a funeral later. Many pestered her on the deceased’s identity, too young to understand the impact of death, though some had patted her on the back before retreating to the other side of the room. It was only until they heard the word “my parents,” did their smiles curve, the edges of their mouths sloped downwards.

The class was silent until a phone call came asking for Angelica to make her way to the front office. Then, it was at its loudest that day, a series of “I’m sorry” and “good luck” announced in unison. She turned back and gave them a smile and wave before departing. It was unknown whether she heard the “poor her” from the teacher that followed.

She came back the following day; her insistence in coming to school shocked all. Even those that didn’t usually give a thought towards anyone else but themselves widened their eyes at the sight of her arrival. Once seated, she immediately smoothed out her cornsilk skirt, and adjusted the white rose pinned on her lapel. She corrected the depressing comments that came her way, as if the showing of her sparkling teeth wasn’t enough.

Throughout the day and the rest of the week, she received plastic-wrapped candied apples, bags of chocolates, and several more white roses given to them by their parents that felt extremely sympathetic. In turn, she granted them all the thank yous they deserved. No tear glistened in her eyes and no dark circles were underneath the pair. She seemed just like the others before they were informed with such nonchalance.

By the end of the week, she had mostly everyone in the school by her side, especially after a child’s supposedly psychic parent came to showcase her ability. It wasn’t difficult to figure out such a display was for advertising her business. Still, to the kids, they were amazed by the shawl wrapped around her head and the crystal ball that could tell their future other than a reflection. Angelica’s turn was none the fruitless. The woman declared to the girl in the ivory skirt and baby powder top, that she had a white aura, a new color from the repeated purples or pinks. Those that were the closest would hear that she, Angelica White, had the ability to ward off any evil spirits around her, have an urge to heal and help those in need, and have a close connection to the angels. “Did you hear that Angelica’s like an angel?”

Whispers and murmurs abound, Angelica was held in high regards. She had informed the others that she was currently staying with her grandparents, a relief to many, if not all. In their heads, they had imagined a couple whose bodies exceeded their youth. They had lost their children, but they gained a granddaughter, a prize worth living many more years for, just until she was able to set foot into the world herself. The students were not that uneducated, of course. So, one could imagine the shock on their faces when Angelica White came back with another white rose pinned on her collar after a weekend. Still, her lips did not quiver and her face displayed no signs of puffiness.

Now, she was in the care of her uncle, a person many deemed fit to take care of the angel. He was jolly, kind, and most importantly (to the female teachers), very good-looking, especially with the stubble that covered his chin. “As Leonardo da Vinci once said, ‘ I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection.’” He who presented such wisdom was met with swoons.

However, her mood shifted after that, a pout lining her lips that didn’t seem to lift up no matter what happened. Her clothing later bled colors, discomfort visible as she shuffled in her seat repeatedly, attempting to smooth out the invisible wrinkles.

It wasn’t until the class hamster succumbed to nature that Angelica White’s cheeks flushed pink. She smiled as she stroked its cold fur, an act seen fit for a maiden of the clouds. Insisting on sending it to its next journey, she placed it in the hole, covering it in dirt moments later.

As a method to lighten everyone’s spirits, the teacher brought in chocolate bars, personally placing each into every student’s hands. Angelica’s, enveloped in the color of her dress that day, speckled with cookie crumbs. Upon unraveling the wrapper, she uttered a laugh of joy, prompting the seat beside her to ask a regretful question.


“Why is white my favorite color?

Because I like seeing people die.”


Click. The key in the lock turns. White shirt and pants, two black straps to complement – buckled tightly to the chair. A safe room, three cold bars obstructing the white view. Left with her kind.