for teens, by teens

Canvas Teen Literary Journal is published quarterly in print, ebook, web, video, and audio formats.


Bella Watts (Featured Editor)

First Impression
    Were the edges of his vision blurred from the drink in his hand? He didn’t know. He did remember her, though. Her arms swung gracefully above her head. The light caught the gold shadow on her closed eyes. Her skirt hiked up her thighs as she slightly swayed her hips. The music picked up speed, but everything he saw was in slow motion.

      Was she on the dance floor or at the bar? She couldn’t remember. Not like she remembers anything from that night. Her pounding head and barren throat leave her irked and intolerant. She goes back to the bar, but this time to work. She prepares and serves the drinks. Four men whistle at her tonight; one tries to grab her arm. Three, the clock says. She runs a rag over the bar. A man walks towards the bar. Sorry, we’re closing up. He puts his elbows on the counter. You don’t remember me? She raised her eyebrows. Should I? He chuckled and shook his head slightly. Well, I sure as hell remember you.

     He comes to the bar nearly every night with the hope of catching a glimpse of her. She’s serious while working, a partier on her off nights. He wonders why, and she wonders why the same guy is at her workplace every night. She serves a hooker a martini and then looks at him. He sits at the end of the bar with a beer in his hand. Are you a partier or something? He looks away from his friend and smiles at her. Nope. She blinks. Then why are you here? He takes a sip of his beer. Because I like the people here.

Working Late
     He’s still sitting at the end of the bar when closing comes. She cleans stickiness off the tables and watches him. He watches her bend over the table. She struts over to him when she’s done and hoists herself up onto the bar. He watches her drop the cloth from her hands and turn to look at him. What are you really doing here? He doesn’t have an answer and she sighs, continuing. Well, whatever it is, it’s working. He furrows his eyebrows. What’s working? She smiles slightly and leans towards him. Their faces are inches apart. You got me right where you want me. He interrupts her with a kiss. She leads him into the back room. They didn’t leave until the sunrise.

     Details didn’t matter.

The Nights After
    He comes to the bar whether she’s working or drinking. She smiles when he walks in. Every morning at three they sink into each other with a simple touch of their hands. They would happily drown for hours. They didn’t think they would resurface from each other at times.

The Nights She Worked
    His favorite nights were when she was bartending. He studied her face as she shook the cocktail shaker. He watched her weave through the drunken crowds, all the while balancing a tray full of glasses. His cheeks would flare when another man eyed her or whistled for her or tried to touch her. But she would strut all of them down in a matter of seconds. He would smile with pride when she turned around and strut away from them. Then she would be all his when the hand reached three. He gave everything to her, and he could feel her doing the same. There was barely any talking, but words were just another detail.

The Nights She Was Off
    Her favorite nights were when she was off. They wouldn’t drink, which was his idea. I don’t want to drink anything that you didn’t make. She loved these nights because she was all his. Sometimes they would wait until three for the sake of tradition.

The End
    He ordered much more than usual; the second the bottle was drained he was asking for another. She kept a watchful eye on him as she worked, making sure he didn’t do anything while possessed by alcohol. He didn’t do anything stupid, luckily. He stayed at the end of the bar with a never-ending bottle. At three, she hurried through clean-up. He took the last sip of the bottle as she made her way to him. Rough day? He nodded and faced her. He pulled her into him and she let him. He buried his head in her neck. I got promoted today. She gasped and congratulated him. Do you wanna celebrate? She winks at her words. His expression doesn’t change. It’s in Chicago. She tilts her head to the side. What’s in Chicago? Suddenly the details mattered. He holds her tight and prepares to say goodbye.

Bella is a fifteen-year-old Creative Writing major at School of the Arts in Rochester, New York. She has been writing since guest poet Sally Bittner Bonn—now the director of Youth Education at Writers and Books—came into her third grade class. She has been writing short stories and dabbling in poetry ever since. She was a recipient of a silver key at the 2014 Scholastic Arts and Writing Awards and has had two plays she co-wrote produced. Outside of Canvas, Bella passionately plays piano but would like to venture into theater. She spends the majority of her time head-banging to Taylor Swift, stressing over school, and stuck in the online world rather than real life.

© Canvas Literary Journal 2016
Writers & Books
Rochester, NY