Jigoku: Last Chance!
A Holiday Special

By Laura, age 15, California

Note: Luciana is pronounced "Lu-chi-ana" Sorry, but some of my friends mispronounce her name every time they read it, so I thought I should make a note of that.

The world was being invaded by little white soldiers. They didn't march or hold any weapons, they just fell. They covered the roofs, roads, and trees. The sky was gray as it seemed to be the source of these little white creatures. My fingers nimbly lay atop of the window glass, gingerly tapping at it every time a solider landed by my fingers. Earlier that day my window was covered in vines made out of ice. No flowers were in sight though, which disappointed me. I could hardly see a thing through my window and had to get rid of the weed blocking my view. For a weed, it seemed so beautiful.

The orphanage was as cold as death itself. Every time I exhaled I could see my breath form clouds of misty white. The soldiers continued to fall while I got dressed that morning. I bundled up in a warm sweater and ran downstairs.

"L-Lia!" My body shivered and my teeth chattered as I sat down by the fireplace. Most of the little ones were around the fire by now. "Wh-why is it so cold?! Icy vines crowded my window this morning and there are small icy soldiers falling out of the sky!" The room burst into laughter. The little kids all laughed hysterically and I just looked around. "Hm?"

Lia came in with hot chocolate and fresh bread. She set them down on the coffee table and smiled. "Have you ever seen snow, Lucia?"

"Sn-snow?" I looked down at my feet, trying to process that word. "... snow ... snow ... snow ..."

Lia sighed and got up, her casual brown country dress flowing along with her strides, and her brown fair hair was finally loose out of its bun, possibly because it was so cold out. She opened the front door, bent down and scooped up something in her hands and came in as she closed the door.

"Open your hands and close your eyes." I did as she said and suddenly felt ice cold water and fluff in my palms. "Now open your eyes." I did and looked around, the children staring at my hands. I looked down and noticed a bundle of white soldiers in my hands.

"Snow?" Lia nodded and I smiled. I couldn't believe I was the oldest of the children and knew nothing about this substance called snow. I felt relieved and somewhat happy for the first time in many years. I bet Yui would have told me what the white soldiers were; she knew so much for a little brat.

As the day progressed I noticed that some of the little ones hated this so-called snow. We were allowed to play outside for a while and I enjoyed it. Snow - something made out of water, frozen within the clouds and left to slowly die as the clouds deserted them, leaving them alone till they melted away. I then thought I was just like these small soldiers, who are apparently called snowflakes. I too was abandoned by my keepers and left to wither away alone. I spent days and days outside with the snow. I'd look angrily at the sky and yell out of empathy.

"Hey! Help me with the tree. I can't get it through the door, dear." Lia laughed softly as she said this. Her boyfriend was helping her carry a pine tree into the building. I tilted my head in confusion. Why in the world would they want a tree inside a house?

"Don't worry dear, I got it." He carried in the tree by himself and let it stand in the middle of the living room. The little ones ran in with boxes full of colorful decorations that shimmered in the light.

Christmas ... that's what they called it. Apparently it has to do with some religious story that I didn't really understand. Lia said it had to do with some baby and three kings and presents. Overall, in the end, it is when families get together and give each other presents as a gesture of love. I see it as a greedy act of humans. Why celebrate something this shallow, especially for orphans? We can't even afford decent food, yet they expect us to give and receive presents. I was disgusted by all of this and refused to take part in such foolishness.

"Oh dear, Luciana has been locked up in her room since we brought the tree inside." Lia was baking some cakes and bread. Her boyfriend crossed another day off the calendar, "One day left."

"Lia! Lia! When are we getting our presents?!"

"Yeah! We want presents now!"

"I want a dolly."

"I want a toy truck!"

The children all yelled out what they wanted and crowded around Lia. She laughed and smiled. "Don't worry, you're all getting what you wished for."

More lies.

I woke up in the middle of the night to get some water and heard some shuffling downstairs. I noticed the lights on the tree glimmer and saw two figures placing things under the tree. I sat on the staircase watching Lia and her boyfriend place boxes covered in colorful paper under the tree. My feet then dragged me back to my room and onto my bed. The moon hid behind a cloud, then as the cloud slowly made its way east, the moon seemed to glow red. A black cat scratched at my window, hissing and meowing in agony as if it was in need of help. My eyes were half closed by then and I opened the window. The cat shivered and jumped onto my lap. It curled up on my pillow and I closed the window. A trail of blood was now noticeable from the window to my pillow. A horrific shriek split the icy night air as I fell asleep.

I awoke to the smell of food and noticed the cat was gone.

"Luciana! Luciana!"

"Hm?" I rubbed my eyes and stretched.

Lulu ... Lulu ... wake up ...


"Luciana! It's Christmas! It's Christmas! Get up!" The children ran back downstairs. I could have sworn I heard Yui a second ago.

As I walked downstairs most of the present were unwrapped and the other ones were in the hands of the little ones.

"Luciana, here, this one's for you." Lia handed me a box covered in blood red paper decorated with white roses.

"It's for me?" I heard purring inside of the box and quickly opened it.

"Meow." The black cat circled around me and then snuggled on my lap. I quickly grabbed the note on the box and read it.

Hope you have a great Christmas! Yui. Yui ...Yui ...was here? But it's the same cat from last night! It was on my pillow! Yui has been gone for years!

I crumbled the note and threw it in the fireplace. I had half a mind to do the same with the cat.

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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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