Mugged

by Dustin Pellegrini

The night I got mugged was a Monday. I had only been up at school for about two weeks and I remember not realizing that until other people pointed it out and kept repeating it. Like it made a difference somehow. Like it mattered. I remember getting sympathy for it from people I didn’t even know. Feeling uncomfortable at their touch, the hugs they forced on me. Their knowing looks they tried to pass over to me. Like they understood. But they didn’t.

I remember feeling the bite of the gun barrel as it made solid contact with the back of my head, smashing down clean like a hammer driving a nail in one swing. I remember not telling people about that part after hearing my brother’s reaction to it. Dad translated it to me first. How Tyler was a hair’s length away from driving up here with every hunting rifle he had to take revenge for me. I remember thinking this was just something dad had said, but then believing every word of it when it was said in my brother’s heavy, panicked voice. How I had to calm him down, convince him not to want to kill on my behalf. How his voice came out in screams between buckets of breaths. How it sounded on the phone like he was driving with the window open and I was afraid he was already making good on his word.

And as I was talking him down, I remember thinking, ‘Let him do it.’ Part of me wished he would, but I let that sink back down into my guts. Now, I only wish I could have responded with his anger, his pure frustration at how unfair it was, instead of with my silence.

‘It’ll be okay,’ I told myself. ‘Turn it into writing. Make it something. Rise above it.’ But I couldn’t help but want to sink. It’s hard to hold it in and just try to float up, it would have been nice to just tread water at their level or just dive down further and hold my breath for a minute or two like Tyler could. I just wish I could give in and do something like him.


Dustin Pellegrini is a writer living in Chicago. He studied Creative Writing at Columbia College Chicago, has had his work read at Chicago’s Story Week Festival and currently works at a nonprofit. You can find more of his writing at dustinpellegrini.com

Voicemail

by Derek Hamilton

The phone will ring before going to voicemail, so I know she didn’t shut it off – she’s just ignoring my calls. I can’t decide if that makes it better or worse. Every time I get to her voicemail, I can’t help but listen to it:

“Hi, you’ve reached Katie’s voicemail. I’m not here right now, so leave me a message and I’ll get back to you!”

She sounds happier than I remember. She sounds fake. It feels good that I can tell that it isn’t really her on that recording, because that means I know who she really is. At this point, I’d give anything to talk to any version of her.

“Hi, you’ve reached Katie’s voicemail. I’m-“

Her voicemail sounds like someone who would talk to me. She sounds like someone I could get along with. She sounds like the type of girl who wouldn’t completely abandon the person she claims to love the most.

“Hi, you’ve reached Ka-“

Sure, we’ve had fights before – and we even broke up a few times – but maybe she’s really calling it quits this time. Maybe she doesn’t love me anymore. Maybe she never really loved me at all.

“Hi, you’ve-“

If that’s the case, then why am I even trying to talk to her? Wouldn’t I be better off without her? Why isn’t this making me feel better?

“Hi-“

Well, now it’s just going straight to voicemail. She probably turned her phone off. I guess I’ll have to try again tomorrow.


Derek Hamilton is a writer, musician, voiceover talent, and self-proclaimed nerd from Northeast Ohio. He’s a Columbia College Chicago alumni, a published poet, and currently works as a streaming media producer. You can find more of his work at derekhamiltonedits.com

Self-Image

by Derek Hamilton

And even though it seems to be, a losing battle fought
One must remain, and keep at bay, each and every thought

For discord in is discord out, and we are all at fault
Plainly seen, and clearly heard, the constant self-assault

Although the cost is still so great, and we have paid our dues
Even when there is nothing left, there is still so much to lose


Derek Hamilton is a writer, musician, voiceover talent, and self-proclaimed nerd from Northeast Ohio. He’s a Columbia College Chicago alumni, a published poet, and currently works as a streaming media producer. You can find more of his work at derekhamiltonedits.com