when i was eleven we got eight chickens. cloud was my favorite, with only white feathers in a year majority of them were killed a lethal team—raccoon and possum one morning before school my brother and i had to let them out of the coop the chicken wire was torn into and we found one of my beloved birds with its head torn right off. all i remember is blood and feathers—my brother cried a lot. my father shot the possum in our backyard i sat with my mom in the living room as she held my hand waiting for the gun shot signifying the end to an animal’s life. the racoon was next. i pitched a fit we can't i said, it has a heart i said, a family i said. so we put it in a cage. and my father—supposedly took it away. five years later i found a picture i had taken of the raccoon trapped in its cage with nowhere to go. i felt bad, my family seeing the creature as a monster it killed my chickens—clawed their skin open leaving nothing but feathers to clean up. yet i wanted it to be my pet. i wanted to protect it. change its instincts, my young mind not understanding leave it alone. still trying to learn that some things are just dangerous. the beginning of my toxic affection, wanting to protect and care for those who don't deserve it.
Alexandra Aradas a rising senior in the creative writing program at the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities. They enjoy exercising, rambling about Taylor Swift, collecting incense, being with their pets, watching Studio Ghibli/horror, and putting up Halloween decorations. They’re a poll worker and have previously written for Luxe Kurves Magazine as a Politics Contributor. Their artwork and photography have previously been put on display and won awards. They’ve been published in their former high school, Northwestern’s, literary magazine and received an honorable mention in the 2021 Ringling College “Storytellers of Tomorrow” Contest. In the summer of 2021, they were named Rock Hill’s Youth Poet Laureate and the first for South Carolina. Through this role, they’ve organized library tours that are associated with a branch of activism. For their main initiative, they’re planning and hosting a body positivity fashion show where each model will have a poem read for them that incorporates self-love.