A Stellar Flare of Young Adult Writing and Visual Art

My Little Beating Bruised Heart + Charcoal Lungs



My Little Beating Bruised Heart

My little beating, bruised heart oozes blackish blue venom from its chambers.

Glass shards, like flecks of confetti, cut my lips as I assess the damage done.

I could be better.

I could be worse.

Crouching, the floor is littered with a million microscopic stars. But they’re not as bright

as they should be.

Not anymore.

They had their moment on Heaven’s pedestal. Now, they are just as dingy as the



I touch my hand to my still bleeding cheek. The maroon crusted edge is

Crumbling beneath my nails.

Vulnerably exposed, my enemies will attack me.

I just know it.

Shoulders hunched, I

brace myself for a bullet,

a grenade,

a sword,

a flame

But they never come.

And my little beating, bruised heart, now expelling the remains of the poison, assures

me that

They never will.

Charcoal Lungs

With charcoal lungs that fold like melting paper, I still can’t believe that

you—out of all people—were the one to hold the shimmering blue match to my lips.

Lips that once longed for your mouth but never dared to whisper the fierce

passion barely encased by your arms.

Arms that would hold my frigid shoulders tight like a promise to never hurt

me like he did.

You saw that I was too icy with raw skin flaking over brittle bones. You said to me,

You need my warmth.

But by expanding your glowering flame to cover not one, but two cold, dead

bodies, you forced the flame to choose.

Choose between me.

Choose between you.

And your selfless little heart told the flame that you’d be okay. She needs it


So when I took the fire, you switched me places, chattering teeth

and stiff joints.


I didn’t realize.

You never told me.

The cost of the flame.

And now, as I see you spiraling out of control into the dark, slowing dying

from the thin air, I understand what you did and why.

But I don’t want to live while watching you die.

You are my oxygen.

And this flame needs oxygen to survive.

About the Author

Maddie McLeod is a recent graduate of Arizona Connections Academy in Phoenix, Arizona. Maddie is a storyteller all day long, whether it is through writing unpredictable short fiction or brutally honest song lyrics. She has been published in Canvas Lit. Magazine, Cuckoo Quarterly, and Stinkwaves Magazine. Maddie recently won the Silver Key Scholastic Award for her Senior Portfolio.

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