S: Naiomy Pagan, Ruby Camacho, Yamil Morera and Janeyshka Ortiz
BC: About the authors: Yamil Morera- (left) Ruby Camacho- (middle left) Naiomy Diaz-Pagan- (middle right) Janeyshka Ortiz- (right) All 15 year old Sophomore students at Esperanza Academy CHS.
1: Dedicated to those people that never really got a chance in life...
2: 1 | I walked down the halls with Chris everyday. Not because I wanted to, but because I was forced to. We were both 15 when we met, and we connected instantly. But as the years dragged along slowly, it simply wasn’t the same. We’re both 18 now, so it really has been a while. When we first started dating, he was the man of any girl’s dream; the one who’d bring you gifts and say romantic things to you. With the looks of Casanova, who didn’t like him? Before, I overlooked a lot of things he did too. “Blinded by Love” my friends would say. But after awhile, I started to notice what they were saying was true.
3: He would get extremely jealous if I was with anyone but him. When I tried to explain, he would accuse me of lying. His dark brown eyes looked at my bright green ones directly, and that was all it took to scare me. Chris was big, strong, and controlling. That was not a good combination especially since his background wasn’t too nice either. He was the owner of the street corner. “El Patron” the Hispanics called him. No one dared to mess with him if they knew any better. He put his hands up to hit me a couple times, he’s gripped me up, and pulled my hair. But he hasn’t taken my all. I’ve kept that from him all these years. I guess that’s why he’s becoming so impatient with me.
4: 3 | But then there was Elias He was just as good looking as Chris, maybe even better. Gray blue eyes, which you wouldn’t expect from a Puerto Rican. He was tall and fit. He was one of the good guys, someone you wouldn’t expect to be working on the corners. He worked for Chris, which means I saw him often. We became very close friends and he was always looking out for me, like a guardian angel you can say.
5: Whenever Elias was present, Chris wouldn’t dare lay a hand on me. I don’t know if it was because Chris felt intimidated by Elias, or because he wanted to keep the abuse a secret. I mean I think people were already getting suspicious. I had gone through every excuse in the book. I couldn’t keep making stuff up every time I had a new bruise. If it were up to me, I wouldn’t have put up with all this. But Chris strikes so much fear into me that it feels as if I’ll be ripped to pieces as my fear consumes me inside. I know for a fact that I couldn’t leave him. If I ever did, the consequences would be life threatening, maybe even fatal. | 4
6: 5 | To be honest, whom my heart longed for was Elias. He was so gentle, so kind, and so generous. He knew what Chris did to me. That’s why he stayed as long as he could everyday after school. Since it was nearing prom, the school was buzzing excitedly. Guys were looking for their dates while the girls were picking out their dresses. I went shopping with my friends for my dress, but it wasn’t a surprise that Chris had to tag along. “You’re not gonna go by yourself. How do I know you aint gonna get with some other guy when you’re supposed to be ‘shopping.’ Besides, I wanna make sure nobody look at my baby wrong or else it’s gonna go down.” Elias was there throughout the whole conversation. I was so upset. I couldn’t go out by myself which made me feel like some type of animal, needing a leash and someone to watch over me.
7: Love is patient.. Love is kind.. | 6 | But Elias looked at me with those gray blue eyes. It reminded me of the day Chris had gone out on a job and had Elias watch over me. Elias was the only one he trusted for the job, they were best friends. He told me, “Calm down, Jennifer. I’m here with you. I promise one day I’ll take you away from all of this. We’ll run away somewhere he’ll never find us. We’ll have a house and we’ll be happy. No worries.” This replayed in my mind often, but the chances of this happening was very slim. This was our forbidden love.
8: 7 | $ | I went out with my friends Isabella, Patricia, Selena, and of course Chris along with Elias. He had insisted on coming, “You shouldn’t be walkin’ ‘round alone boss. You know the 49th Street Crew still watchin’ you after the last stunt you pulled back in February.” So Chris agreed to allow him to come along. As I was searching for a dress, Chris told me to pick the most expensive one. He always had a thing for buying me extremely expensive things. I guess he thought money and bribery could buy my love. But he couldn’t fool anyone, not even himself.
9: 8 | I finally found the dress and it cost $2000.00 dollars! But then he said, “Go ‘head pick that one!” I hadn’t even tried it on yet and he was already rushing a purchase. So I told him to wait. That’s when he started arguing with me, “What did you say to me?” He asked sternly. “I said wait! I haven’t even tried it on yet!” He got really close to me, looked me directly in the eyes and said, “You better watch that tone of voice. I don’t care that you’re friends are here, I’ll make sure I get the respect I deserve.” Then Elias butted into the conversation and quickly said, “Come on boss, let her try the dress.” Chris turned to look at Elias, I was waiting for Chris to yell at him or something. Instead he calmed down and said, “Go ‘head.” So I stepped into the dressing room. | I had such a knot in my throat because I was holding back so many tears. Tears of anger, tears of frustration, and tears of sadness; I just wanted it all to go away. But I blinked them away, put on the dress and stepped out of the dressing room. My eyes looked for Elias’ and when I did his eyes widen and sparkled. I loved the dress so I got it.
10: 9 | Prom night came. Since the theme was masquerade, everyone came dressed to impress. The guys were looking sharp in their tuxes to match their dates. The girls were wearing extremely elegant dresses, like a fairy tale! My “date” was Chris, he was extremely happy. He was bragging to his friends that he had the “baddest looking date outta everybody!” Rumor had it that he had bought a hotel room and that he was telling all his guy friends that tonight was “the night.” I begged to differ. I wasn’t going to let him lay a hand on me, not tonight, and not ever.
11: He had told Elias his plans and I automatically knew that he wasn’t going to let that happen. He told me to meet him on the dance floor. I searched for him, over the many masks, glittery dresses and lights. And then I saw him. He had dressed to match me, and had come alone. Chris was nowhere in sight, probably still bragging to his friends. So this was now or never. He put out his hand and I took it, his blue eyes were the only thing you could see behind the mask. We ran through the crowd, out the back door and left everything behind. We got into his car and just drove; past the people arriving with their masks and everything else there was to leave behind. He took me out and we had an amazing time. And that night, I gave my everything to him. Not to Chris, but to the one whom my heart really did long for. | 10
12: After that night, Chris watched me closer than ever. I had embarrassed him in front of everybody ditching him at prom. But he never knew I had left with Elias. No one knew anything about us. | But a month passed, and I was late. Two months, still nothing. I knew deep inside that I was pregnant. My belly started to show after two months and two weeks. So I started to wear heavy clothing, which I had grown accustomed to doing because of the fact that my bruises were often hidden by hoodies. | 11
13: Chris started noticing that I was becoming more distant. I didn’t like him getting close to me. I definitely made sure that if he ever did hit me, he would hit my abdomen. One day he was mad at me, and he got really close to me. I made the mistake of clutching my abdomen. That was when he noticed and quickly grabbed my wrist and lifted my hoodie. He became extremely enraged! “You’re pregnant?! Who the f--- is the father ‘cause I sure as hell ain’t sleep with you. So who’s the father!? Is it Steve?! Michael!? Eduardo?!...” The interrogation continued, until he finally said his name. “Elias?!” he yelled. I flinched, and that’s how he knew. “Yoo Michael, come watch this b----, Ima go collect my money. Maybe stop by a good friend of ours’ house too.” | 12
14: I knew I had to get to Elias before Chris did. I knew for a fact that Chris was going to kill him and there was no doubt in my mind that he was probably going to get the whole crew to help. So I had to take my chance while I had it. Michael was just as kind as Elias, but he lived the life of a gang member/drug dealer so he followed orders. But I begged him, “Please let me go. Let me go to Elias’ house, for his child’s sake!” Michael looked me up and down. Then he pulled out his gun and handed it to me. He said, “Shoot me.” | 13
15: At first I refused, “No! No, I’m not gonna shoot you, you outta ya mind?!” But Michael insisted saying, “Look, we don’t got much time. Shoot me in the arm. It’s the only way I can make an excuse that you escaped. I’ll just say that you took my gun and threatened me. Then I’ll say that when I went to approach you, you shot me and ran out the door.” He took the gun by the barrel, pointed it to his shoulder and said, “Don’t think, just do it.For you and your child’s sake.” So I blocked everything out of my mind. It happened so fast that my mind was still processing what had happened after I had pulled the trigger and ran out the door. | 14
16: I got into a taxi cab and told the driver to head to Elias’ house quickly. I was hoping and praying that Chris hadn’t already finished him. I wouldn’t be able to live another day without him. As the cab was almost at Elias’ house, I swear I prayed more than I had ever prayed before. I got to his house, paid the cab driver and got out of the cab. I basically ran to the front door and knocked. | 15
17: . I was relieved when I saw Elias at the door and he quickly invited me inside. I hadn’t seen Elias since prom. We thought it’d be better if we didn’t raise any suspicions seeing each other. So he’s been “working” a lot lately. Then that’s when I told him, “Look, Elias we gotta go.” He tried to have me slow down and breathe but I refused to do so and I finally said, “I’m pregnant! Elias, I’m pregnant with your child! Chris knows and if we don’t leave right now he’s gonna come here and kill you!” Elias looked at me up and down. He was frozen in a state of shock and happiness. “Let’s go. I’m keeping my promise to you.” He went to the living room and came back with a duffle bag. Then we ran out the door to the train station. | 16
18: As we waited for our train, Elias went to the restroom with the duffle bag. I stayed outside as a look out. When he came back out, we went to purchase our tickets. As we were waiting for the train to come, as fate might have it, Chris was passing by in a car. Chris looked over and saw us and I knew deep inside my heart that this wasn’t going to be good. | 17
19: I saw him take a hard left and come to a sudden stop. He pulled a gun out of his waist, cocked it back, and took aim. As this was happening, Elias gave me the duffle bag and said, “Run! Leave! Go!” and he pushed me to go. I began to run and as I ran, I heard a sound I’d never forget. I heard the gun being fired and people screaming. After that, I knew that I’d never see Elias again. I ran to the train and got on. Then as it left, I just cried and cried until I couldn’t cry anymore. On arriving to Chicago, I went to a hotel to rent a room. | 18
20: I turned on the television and the news was on. (I instantly changed the channel because I already knew what the news was.) The news reporter was saying, “We’re here at the train station in New York where a shooting has occurred. 18 year old Christian Santos shot 18 year old Elias Rodriguez once in the chest and once in the head. Police do have him in custody however we believe that the motive was over money that was never found for a big drug deal” (Then I remembered the duffle bag Elias gave me. I found piles of money and a note). When I heard this I immediately opened the duffle bag Elias had given me and there it was. I found a note and loads of money; I’m guessing it was the “dirty money” from Elias saying, | 19
21: Jennifer, If you’re reading this, it’s probably because I’m no longer with you. This is all the money I’ve saved up. This is all for you and the baby. Never forget to look up at the stars, I’ll be watching over you and our child. Remember to always think of me and I’ll always be by your side. Have a good life Eternally yours, Elias.... | 20