By Samantha, age 16, Illinois

Guns, weapons of mass destruction, a person's worst fear. Guns are used in our everyday lives by cops and security guards. But they are also used for horrible reasons, as in this story. One person's failure to see the truth can affect the lives of those she cherishes.

Chapter 1

Joanne Rosanna stares at the painting on the opposite wall as she sits in the empty waiting room.

The silence envelopes her and she turns her attention to the grandfather clock to her left. The ticking seems to grow louder as if threatening her, filling her mind with regrets and thoughts of what may happen to her two friends in the emergency unit.

Now she realizes that it is midnight. As the clock strikes twelve she is awakened from her daze. A young blonde nurse walks over and asks kindly, "Would you like some coffee or anything while you wait?" Joanne quickly refuses, as the thought of eating or drinking makes her queasy.

How could this have happened? she asks herself, as she thinks about the last few years.

Chapter 2

Joanne and her family moved into a quiet neighborhood of a small town near New Orleans. Joanne was twelve years of age and entering junior high. She felt lonely and scared of joining a new community and a new class.

The Rosannas came from New York City. The quiet street they now live on is a great change of scenery from the busy street in front of their former condo. Standing on the sidewalk, the family of three stared at the house. To Joanne, the windows were like eyes making it seem that the house was staring right back at them.

One hot summer day, a few weeks after their move, the Rosannas received a visit from their neighbors, the Jensons. The Jensons were also a small family, but were about ready to expand it further. Mr. Jenson came over first, inviting Mr. Rosanna to a local baseball game next Saturday. Joanne's father gratefully agreed to join him. The Rosannas and Mr. Jenson sat on the wooden chairs with the blue cushions on the front porch.

Minutes passed and Mr. Jenson pointed to the street. "Here comes my lovely wife and our son." As Mrs. Jenson approached, Joanne realized she was about eight months pregnant. At her side was her son Orlando who was also twelve. Instantly the Rosannas became friends with the Jensons and felt better about their decision to move.

Chapter 3

The summer went by and the Rosannas spent lots of time with the Jensons. It turned out that the two men were working together at the same car dealership as salesmen. Their wives were glad to have someone to swap recipes with. As for Joanne and Orlando, they were attending the same school.

The kids did not realize it until the morning of the first day of school, but Joanne was nervous of starting the seventh grade without all of her old friends. But when Orlando showed up to the bus stop she grew calmer. They sat together on the bus and ate lunch with each other every day. Even during class they were almost inseparable.

Orlando did not have many friends. Joanne noticed that everyone acted as if he did not exist. She could not grasp the perception. When she looked at Orlando she saw a smart, funny, caring young boy. When she would ask him if he knew why he was treated this way, he would walk away and not talk with her until the next morning.

At their eighth grade graduation their families sat together. One year old Jasmine sat on her mother's lap making spit bubbles and giggling every time they popped. Joanne could not be happier or more excited to reach the first day of high school. Orlando was twice as excited because they both got into the same high school and would be taking the same classes together.

But a week after graduation, Joanne, her family, and Orlando found out some terrible information. The Jensons would be moving away so they could be closer to the rest of their family. Orlando was unsure about where he was to go to school and how he and Joanne would keep in touch.

On his last night in the neighborhood, he and Joanne went to a movie and had a great time, despite the fact that it was their last night together. There were still two months of the summer left before school started. They both knew they would find a way to keep in touch with each other no matter what.

When the movie was over, they knew their fun was coming to an end. They had a long walk home so they made the best of it. When they stopped in front of Joanne's house they were prepared for their goodbyes. A single tear flowed down Joanne's cheek. Orlando reached up with his right hand and wiped the tear away.

"I guess this is goodbye," Joanne said in a hushed tone. She was looking down at her feet embarrassed by the tear. But Orlando was thinking differently. His hand lifted up Joanne's chin. When their eyes met, Orlando puckered his lips, closed his eyes, and pecked Joanne on the cheek.

Joanne stood in the front doorway watching Orlando walk across the street and disappear behind his house.

Chapter 4

A month was all that was left before school was to start. Joanne hadn't received one phone call or letter from Orlando, her childhood chum. One day a group of girls walked in front of her house and noticed her on the porch. Joanne recognized them as the girls from junior high who had made a habit of ignoring her and Orlando.

"Hey! You're Joanne, right?" asked Jordan.
"Yeah," Joanne replied. She was confused, but intrigued by her sudden friendliness.
"We're headed to the movies. Wanna come?" asked Amanda.
"Sure." Joanne shrugged and tagged along.

The group of girls she hung out with that day later became her best friends. They too were going to Harrison High. A week before school started Joanne was introduced to Amanda's twin brother at her slumber party when he joined in the fun. The teenage girls and guy played Truth or Dare. But before they began Amanda pulled Joanne into the bathroom to talk.

"I think my brother Adam likes you. He's been looking at you all night long." The game started in the middle of the night in Amanda's basement. Her parents were asleep, so they tried not to be too loud, but they never spoke in whispers.

When it came Joanne's turn, Amanda asked the famous question, "Truth or dare?" Joanne looked around the room. She felt that she was in a courageous mood so she went for the dare. A series of astonished sounds came from the girls' mouths, but Adam sat quietly and seemed bored with the game.

Amanda looked at Joanne with an evil genius look in her eyes. "I dare you to stand in that closet and wait for a surprise." Joanne looked at her and grunted. This is going to be easy, she thought, as she turned the closet handle and walked inside.

The closet was roomier than she thought it was going to be. When she found the light she realized it was a walk-in closet with boxes on the shelves. She listened closely to the whispering and chuckling of the girls outside. She couldn't make out a single word.

Soon the girls went quiet as if muted by a remote control. Standing before Joanne was Adam. He looked around at the boxes and avoided eye contact with Joanne. Joanne knew this was all Amanda's idea. Joanne studied Adam as he noticed his shoe was untied. She realized he was really handsome. He wasn't too muscular or too thin, but right in the middle. His hair was short, yet the flow of it made it seem long, and his eyes were as green as the grass.

Adam stood up, but instead of avoiding eye contact he looked right at Joanne. The connection scared Joanne and forced her to quickly look away. She soon looked up again and he was still watching her. Adam turned around and asked the girls through the closed door if they could go make popcorn. Amanda called back agreeing, but Adam opened the door a crack to make sure they had left. Then he closed the door and took a deep breath.

"Amanda told you, didn't she?"
"Yeah. She let it slip."
"She's always doing that. I'm just surprised you didn't run away."
"Why would I run away?"
"Everyone else has."
"I'm sorry. So what does she want us to do in here?"
"Kiss. We don't have to if you don-"

Adam was cut off as Joanne's lips reached his. It was a sweet peck that would later be described as Joanne's signature move. When their lips parted they both knew that it was decided. They had become boyfriend and girlfriend.

Chapter 5

The first day of high school was exciting for everyone. The old seniors had left the school to make room for the new freshmen. The girls and Adam walked to school together. On the way Adam and Joanne held hands. She had almost forgotten about the city she came from and all her friends who were also starting high school.

Joanne made many friends in all of her classes. She sat in the middle of everyone and quickly became popular. She paid no attention to those who sat behind her. In lunch she sat with the girls and Adam. They had a blast sharing stories and lunches. Joanne was so preoccupied that she never looked at the table behind her.

At the end of the day, Joanne and Adam met at their locker and discussed their plans for the night. She was so lost in his words and he in hers that neither heard the faint calls of Joanne's name from the lips of an old friend. They closed their lockers and walked off hand in hand.

Joanne had no idea that Orlando was calling her name or that he'd sat behind her in nearly every class including lunch. And she had no idea how hurt he'd felt when he saw her walk off holding the hand of some other boy. Orlando felt he was back in elementary school all over again.

Chapter 6

It was the week before winter break and Adam was home sick with the flu. That week seemed to drag on and on. On Monday every teacher gave a test. Tuesday through Thursday were spent explaining the projects due after their two week vacation. Friday was a complete waste.

Joanne stood at her locker gathering up her homework and Adam's. She had two bags in her hand. While trying to close the locker one bag fell spilling out all of the books inside. She finished closing her locker and went to pick up the bag and the books, but found it was already cleaned up.

Orlando stood in front of her smiling, holding out Adam's bag. Joanne looked at him with an uncertain familiarity. "Do I know you? You look a lot like someone I know." Before Orlando could answer, Amanda called to Joanne from across the hall. She thanked Orlando and walked towards Amanda, leaving Orlando alone.

Chapter 7

The years flew by, and before Joanne knew it she was a senior. She and Adam had been together for four years and were now talking about marriage. They had grown to like each other very much, and when the football team (for which Adam played quarterback) won the championship for the first time in twelve years, Adam gave Joanne his class ring as a promise that they would be together forever.

Orlando felt as lonely as ever before. He went on to do well in school only because the work kept him from going mad. He'd sat day after day, week after week, year after year, watching the love of his life become his biggest regret.

It was prom night and all the seniors were going. Adam and Joanne knew it would be the best night of their lives, at least to this point. In the midst of the dancing and the music the celebration was disturbed.

BANG! The gunshot echoed through the beautifully decorated gymnasium. Everyone ducked and the music stopped playing. Adam held onto Joanne like the bullet was meant to hit her. It was.

"I'm hurt," Adam whispered in Joanne's ear. He fell onto his back. Joanne got on her knees and bent over him. Adam was clutching his left arm. He removed it to reveal a bloodied section where the bullet had hit. He winced as he applied more pressure with his hand. Joanne leaned down and kissed him to show she would not leave his side.

BANG! Another bullet, and Adam screamed with agony as everyone scurried to safety. Joanne looked down and saw more blood oozing from his right knee. "It's okay. I'm still here," she whispered. He wanted her to get to safety with the others, but she wouldn't move. Before he could try to persuade her, someone towered over them.

Joanne first looked at his shoes and slowly worked her way up to his eyes. Orlando stood tall, holding her at gunpoint with a fierce look in his eyes. Joanne finally realized who he was. "Orlando? I haven't seen you in five years. Why do you have a gun?"

"You notice me when I have a gun in my hand. I have been in every class with you for the last four years! I tried to talk to you, but you went off with your friends." Joanne patted Adam as he struggled to forget the pain. She stood up and looked Orlando in the eyes.

"Orlando, give me the gun so no one else will get hurt," she said slowly. Other seniors found safety under the bleachers, but some sat just feet away.

"You don't understand! I don't understand! I am already hurt. We were the best of friends and then you completely forget me! What difference does it make?" Orlando cocked the gun and raised it too his head. "Orlando! Don't!" Joanne cried. But she couldn't stop him.

BANG! Orlando fell to the floor and laid motionless, blood pouring from his head and staining the gymnasium floor. Joanne stepped over Adam's body and kneeled now next to Orlando's lifeless body and cried.

Chapter 8

Joanne Rosanna stares at the painting on the opposite wall as she sits in the empty waiting room.

The silence envelopes her and she turns her attention to the grandfather clock to her left. The ticking seems to grow louder as if threatening her, filling her mind with regrets and thoughts of what may happen to her two friends in the emergency unit.

Now she realizes that it is midnight. As the clock strikes twelve she is awakened from her daze. A young blonde nurse walks over and asks kindly, "Would you like some coffee or anything while you wait?" Joanne quickly refuses, as the thought of eating or drinking makes her queasy.

How could this have happened? she asks herself, as she thinks about the last few years. She pulls Adam's letterman's jacket around her bare shoulders and covers the top of her gown. She plays with the ring on her finger hoping that the man who made the promise can live to keep it.

The door to her left opens and she stands, recognizing the young blonde haired surgeon. She bombards him with questions. "Is he okay? Is he alive? Will he be able to walk? Did you retrieve the bullets?"

The doctor smiles and nods. "The surgery was a success. It took a while to get to the bullet in his knee. It was in an odd place and we had no choice but to amputate his leg from the knee down. He would have lost it anyway. But he is going to be okay. If he wishes we can get him a prosthetic leg."

Joanne sighs in relief. He is alright and everything is going to be fine. "When can I see him?"

"Now, if you wish. He's a bit pumped with drugs, and his focus might not be as good, but he's awake. That's all that matters, right?"

"What about Orlando?" Joanne remembers that he was brought to the hospital as well.

The doctor loses his smile and frowns. "I'm sorry. There was nothing we could do for him."

Joanne thanks the doctor for his help and hurries off to see Adam. Amanda would have been there, but she felt tormented and wanted to go home to be with her family.

"Joanne? Am I dead? If I am, this must be heaven." He smiles as Joanne walks in. "You're not dead, Adam. You're right where you belong."


Joanne and Adam grew used to the prosthetic leg, and went on to raise a great family. Adam coached high school football at Harrison High. They had three kids and never hesitated to share their story.

Joanne founded a therapy group, naming it "Orlando Jenson's We'll Help You." Joanne and her employees, living in every region of the world, work at high schools, talking to kids who show signs of crying for attention and love.

Love is all anyone needs to feel like they belong.


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February & March Magazine Issues

March 15, 2012

The February and March issues of Sweet Designs Magazine are now online, featuring a combined 53 new articles and features!!

- Cover: Stephanie Lynn reflects on 5 years
- Cover: India (of Darn-licious knitwear)
- Life in the dumps (moving in with my bf)
- The difference between men and women
- Angels among us (parts 1 and 2)
- Arts graduates & the dark night of the soul
- Triple threat (how I survived my teen yrs)
- Dating isn't easy (my true story)
- How to turn not-so-great gifts ... (fashion)
- Ten reasons to love being single
- Taking the big leap (college)
- Valentine's Day (not what you'd expect!)
- The last of the cold (hopefully) (fashion)
- A month full of love
- Ten tips for successful airline travel
- Reasons I love writing for SDM
- Who needs love?
- They're not all the same
- The life I'm glad I don't have (fiction)
- Professional dress/ finding Fendi (fashion)
- An airport anniversary: a true story
- Inappropriate Facebook photos
- The perks of a big city (college)
- A night(mare) to forget (part 2)
- The Anita Blake series (book review)
- Saving June by Hannah Harrington (book)
- Under the Mesquite by GG McCall (book)
- The Lullaby by Sarah Dessen (book)
- If I Stay by Gayle Foreman (book review)
- My sweetheart (original poetry)
- Isn't it funny (original poetry)
- The stranger (original poetry)
- A winter wonderland (original poetry)
- One night valentine
- The thick envelopes (college acceptance)
- Southern love
- Healthy hair and vitamins
- It's a date (dating idea alternatives)
- The 30 hour famine
- School's out forever!
- Marching right back into spring? (fashion)
- Dear John
- When TV shows depict your life
- 3 Fun ways to rock spring's hottest trends
- Neglected teeth
- Starting something new
- Guy movies
- To hesitate or dive in?
- Deadly, by Julie Chibbaro (book review)
- Beastly, by Alex Flinn (book review)
- I don't care (poetry)
- Together, alone (poetry)

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