AUTHOR: The Writers’ Room Students in East Harlem  |  AGE 11-14



Middle school students from PS/MS 7 and Global Tech prep work in the Writers' Room with 826NYC staff and volunteers to complete writing projects and assignments. Their work is featured here!

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The Struggle by Inanelis S, grade 7

“Aneis, never give up. You are stronger than you think.”
That’s what my mom always used to tell me. My mom is the strongest person I know. Well I knew, I mean. This is a situation I don’t speak of. I’m quiet about it. Cancer really sucks. It took my mom away from me at the time I needed her most, less than a year ago. My mom was my guardian angel with no wings. She was my fighter. She was really beautiful, so hard working and so devoted. She raised me to be the best I can be and to never let anyone let my crown fall. I mean, I try my hardest every day to live by that, but sometimes I can’t.
A year ago, when I got home from school, my mom sat me down at the kitchen table and looked me in the eye. Her eyes were dewy. I felt scared because I felt that something bad was gonna happen.
”A lot of things are going to change for you and your father. I just want you to know that I am going to be with you through every step.“
“What’s happening, Mom?”
“No te preocupe, todo se va a pasar bien.”
“Okay Mami.” I wanted to know what was going on, but I didn’t want to put pressure on Mami and make her cry.
“I love you, mi nena,” she said as she kissed me on the forehead.
A month later, my mom started chemo at New York Presbyterian Hospital. She would go there every two weeks to get her medicine implanted into her body. I thought it would make her better, but really it just made everything worse. I felt that I had no mom anymore. She would go there smiling but would come back exhausted, irritable, and emotionally fragile. She couldn’t hang out, take care of my brother, or work anymore. She was no longer cooking and cleaning the house as much as she used to do before. I couldn’t talk to her about having a hard time because she wouldn’t just stop crying. I learned to bottle up my feelings. I took over the cleaning and the cooking and the babysitting. My dad was supposed to be living with us, but he was always on the street.
Dad had issues and things of his own that I was never able to explain to myself up until the time I went looking for him with Mom all morning, and we did find him. But even then I still didn’t understand. The day I understood was the day I went to the Bronx criminal court where I knew something was going to happen, and it sure did. I was sitting next to this man that I once considered my father in shackles.
“Nena, I’m going to go away for a while,” he told me as he looked at me dead in my eyes.
His hands were in handcuffs, but he managed to take his ring off his finger. He gave me his ring and told me, “This will help you not to miss me too much.”
Then and there, they took him away. I didn’t know how long it would take to see him again. One of the saddest moments of anyone’s life, I can say, is losing someone you really love. That one day turned into weeks, months, and years to free him. He was to do a whole three or four years, if I can recall. But enough about my dad.
My mom was getting weaker and weaker. The doctors tried different medications, but none of them succeeded. Seven months after she was diagnosed, I was sitting in class when I got called to the main office.
Ms. Burman, the guidance counselor, and Mr. Lopez, the dean, took me into the principal’s office and they sat me down on the couch.
“I have some news for you,” said Mr. Lopez. “We’re going to be with you through every step.”
“What is going on?”
It got so quiet in the room, you could hear a pin drop.
“Your mom was taken to the hospital, and we have your aunt coming over right now. It’s crucial that you get there as soon as possible,” explained Ms. Burman.
I started shaking. My heart started racing, and my hands got sweaty. I felt like I couldn’t breathe.
“Is she dead?” I asked.
“No, but we better get there,” answered my aunt as she rushed through the door.
We quickly left the building and drove to the hospital. When we walked into the room, it was silent except for the heart monitor beeping.
My aunt touched her hand. She opened her eyes. They were tired and red.
“Nena, I love you. I might not be here for long, but just stay strong. I will always be watching over you.”
I held on to her hand and tears started pouring out of my eyes. After a few minutes, the monitors started to beep loudly; the numbers started going down; and suddenly, the lines went flat. A nurse rushed in, but I knew it was the end. My mom was gone.
I felt numb. I couldn’t stop crying, but I just felt numb. My aunt was crying too, walking around and pacing the room. Three hours passed, and we were still there. Finally, a man came and asked us if he could remove the bed. We said yes, and he did. We walked out, got into the car, and drove home in silence.
I asked my aunt what was going to happen to us. She said that we would be moving with her and Grandma. I went into my bedroom and packed my bags for the night. I did the same for my little brother, Nathan. We picked him from school and talked to him at my aunt’s house. He was young and did not really understand. For him, it was like a sleepover at Grandma’s. We ate pizza, then went to bed.
The next day, I opened my eyes. The memories came back. I was numb again. Nathan came into my room and gave me the biggest hug.
“Aneis, I LOVE YOU!!!” he yelled.
I hugged him back real hard.
“I love you too, “ I whispered. I now had something and someone to live for.

Cemetery Charles by Christopher P, grade 7

Tonight we are finally going to the cemetery. This is gonna be fun! thought Christopher. It was Friday night, the night he had been waiting for. He was going with his friends Aliesa, Jesus, Jacob, Michael, and Jessy. When they arrived at the gate, they took turns sliding under the gate because there was a little gap.
“Hurry up, Christopher, before the cops catch us,” Michael said.
Christopher cut himself for trying to hurry up. “Ow, dang it, Michael, if you never rushed me, I would have never cut myself.”
“It’s fine, only a little cut. It shouldn’t hurt you, Christopher,” Michael replied.
“Yeah,” Christopher said.
When Michael finished going under the gate and got up, they all heard a strange noise, like there were knives getting sharper, and they told each other not to be afraid.
“Christopher, be careful outside, okay? And come back before 10 o’clock,” Christopher’s mom had told him.
“I will, Mom. See you later,” Christopher had agreed.
Remembering what his mom said, he started to be more careful.
“Let’s play a game, guys,” Jacob said.
“Okay, what game then?” Michael asked.
“How about hide and seek?” Jacob suggested.
They all hid while Christopher counted. “10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Ready or not, here I come!” While Christopher was searching for his friends, he saw a trail of blood on the floor. He started to follow the trail of blood to see if one of his friends was hurt.
When Christopher got to the end of the trail of blood, he saw Jacob there, bleeding with cuts all over him. His heart started to beat fast. He tried to calm himself down.
“Jacob, what happened to you?” Christopher asked.
“You have to leave now, Christopher, before he gets you, too,” Jacob said.
“Who is he? Are you guys pranking me again?” Christopher wondered aloud.
“No, I’m serious, we aren’t. You gotta find the others and leave without me,” Jacob said back. “Someone came after me, and he is trying to kill us.”
“No, I’m not leaving without you!”
Christopher picked up Jacob and started looking for the others. While they were looking for the others, a guy with a mask stood in front of them with a knife in his hand.
“Run, Christopher!” Jacob called.
Christopher started to run but tripped on a rock, dropping Jacob. The masked guy caught up to them. He picked up Christopher and threw him in an open grave, then walked away with Jacob. Christopher saw a shadow passing by him. He knew it was Michael.
“Michael, help me, I know you’re there,” Christopher yelled out.
“Oh, I didn’t see you there,” Michael answered back. He helped Christopher up.
“A guy cut Jacob with a knife. He took him and threw me in a grave.” They both went to search for Jacob. While they were walking, they saw a book on the floor and Michael picked it up. After thirty minutes, they saw the gravekeeper’s house, and they went inside. Then they opened the book. Christopher was reading.
“What’s in the book?” asked Michael.
“It says ‘If you find this book, well, it will probably be too late for me, but for you, I will help you escape. I have been looking into the reports on the news of a masked man. I think I finally figured it out. Tomorrow, I’ll go down to the police and let them know. One thing you need to know is that the masked man’s real name is Charles Jackson, and he lives in an empty house in the graveyard, and he hides people down in his basement, but watch out: he keeps sensors there. This is all I can tell you. He’s coming for me, so bye.’”
They both saw a picture of a young man and his family in the book. “That must be Charles and his family,” Michael said.
“Yeah, probably! I wonder what happened to them,” Christopher said back.
Charles started walking into the house and saw his book open.
“Where did this book come from, and who opened it?” Charles asked angrily.
Christopher and Michael started crawling away out his house but stopped after reaching the door. “We can’t leave Jacob here,” Christopher said to Michael.
“Then where is he?” Michael said back.
“Well, the book says he keeps people in the basement.” They both sneaked past Charles when he wasn’t paying attention then walked to the basement. They saw Jesus, Aliesa, Jacob, and Jessy there, told them to be quiet, and carried them all out, but accidentally hit the sensor on their way out.
Charles ran down to the basement door and he looked down. “Dang, these kids left,” Charles said.
Christopher and Michael ran out of the house while carrying their friends. Charles ran out of the house as fast as he could and saw them at the gate. Jacob slid under the gate first, then Aliesa, then Jessy, Jacob, Michael, and last Christopher, but when Christopher went under the gate, Charles hit him in the arm with a glass bottle.
“Ouch! Dang it, not again,” Christopher said, sliding all the way under so he couldn’t get hurt anymore.
“I will get you all next time,” Charles yelled.
Jacob looked at the time. “It’s 6:00 AM; we all should go home.”
They walked to the police station. They tried telling the police, but they wouldn’t believe them.
“You kids should go home,” one of the policemen said.
“We aren’t lying,” they all said. They tried to convince the policemen, but they did not believe them.
They walked home and thought about what happened last night. How were they going to explain the cuts and the bleeding to their parents?

My Body by Noah K, grade 6

My heart is as red as a
bull’s-eye on a dartboard.
The lines on my hands are
like roads merging.
My hair is as dark as charcoal
in a mine.
My teeth are
as white as a sheet of paper.
My eyes are as brown as
a tree trunk in a forest.
My veins are as green as leaves on
a tree deep in an oak forest.
The blood in my hands is as red as
a beet.
My feet are as big as
an elephant.

Ghost Hunter by Naudisha L, grade 8

Part 1

I have a dog named blue. My stepfather gave her to me as a present. She’s silver, and her eyes change from blue to green to orange. She’s currently one year old. She’s really playful, friendly, and quiet most of the time. Around July, 2015, my mom went to work, and my brother went out with his friend, leaving me in the house alone with my dog. It all started when Blue started barking.  At first I thought it was nothing, so like any other person, I just ignored it. “She’s a dog—she barks,” I told myself over and over, trying not to freak out. I reconsidered her barking being normal when she didn’t stop. She sounded as if she were getting hurt. Her barks were very high pitched and squeaky. It had been about five minutes now, and considering that my dog barely barked at all, it spooked me a bit. I went into the room where she was. The brown wooden door creaked as I opened it. As soon as I approached the door, she stopped barking. If I had known what was in store for me that day I would’ve just stayed in the other room.

Part 2
I opened the door and my dog rushed to me, shaking violently. I looked around the room and saw nothing. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary (at the time), so I went back to my room. When I went back into my room, I got on Instagram for about ten minutes after the whole barking situation. After a bit, I had to go to the bathroom, so I placed my phone on my pillow before I went. I came back and my phone was on the foot of the bed.

Part 3
As I noticed that my phone had moved, my dog started barking again. It started as normal barking, but then it started to sound more like a cry for help. While she barked, she stared right at me. I moved to go over to comfort her when I noticed she was barking at where I once stood. Again, nothing was there. Suddenly a cup that was on the nightstand fell onto the floor. I got scared, so I picked up my phone and dialed my mom’s number. My mom, who was at work at the time, didn’t answer when I first called. I didn’t know what to do, and honestly I didn’t want to do anything, especially because I was by myself.

Part 4
From then on, everything including drawers, doors, and cabinets started opening. Two minutes later my mom pulled up in the driveway. I remember being so grateful and relieved. It wasn’t my first time dealing with this type of thing, but I’ve never had to deal with it alone. I told my mom everything, and she wanted to have a “Ghost Hunter” come over to the house. Let’s just say that a couple days later we left and found a new house.

A Quick Loan by Dakota M, grade 7

“Mom, how are you feeling?” mumbled Troy.

“Not very great. I’ll need medication quickly,” Mom said softly as she lay on her hospital bed.
“How much will the medication cost?” Troy said curiously.
“One thousand dollars,” mumbled Mom.
“But we can’t get that kind of money right now!” screamed Troy.
“Well, we’ll just have to see and wait,” said Mom.
Troy wanted to cry, but he tried his best not to. He wanted to show his mother he was strong. He loved her so much. She had been there for him through all his troubles, so now he wanted to be there for her. As Troy was about to leave, his mom stopped him and said, “Don’t do anything stupid.”
“Sure,” Troy said sarcastically.
Troy was obviously planning something. He decided to go outside to look for a part time job. He thought, “Why not? It’s summer and I’ll definitely have enough money racked up in one month.” But Troy wondered, “What kind of part time job can get me enough? Minimum wage can get me $45 a day. So in a month, I’d have more than enough! The first thing I can think of would be… fast food!”
So Troy went on to get a fast food job. He decided maybe a McDonald’s crew member would be a good start. Troy thought, “I’d rather be a cashier, but I’m not necessarily of age for that.” He walked over to McDonald’s. He thought, “Well, they are looking for workers. This is a great time to apply.” He walked in, asked about interviews and was able to get a scheduled interview the next day! He didn’t have very nice clothes, but he indeed wanted to show off as a great person.
Troy was at the interview. He was having a nice, casual conversation with the manager.
“You have quite the record here, don’t you?” said the manager.
“What do you mean?” grumbled Troy.
“Stealing and many other different things, things I’m not mentioning right now,” nagged the manager.
“So I can’t get the job?” Troy said sadly.
“Absolutely not!” screamed the manager.
“So be it,” Troy said as he zoomed out of the interview.
Troy was crying. He had no idea how he would get enough money for his mother. He just ran into an alley and sat there crying.

A shady man walked up to him. He asked, “What are you doing here, little man?”
“That’s none of your business!” screamed Troy. The man had appeared out of nowhere, which made Troy suspicious.
“Don’t worry, I can help you. I promise,” the shady man said in a persuading tone.
“All I need is money,” mumbled Troy.
“He doesn’t know me. Why would he help me?” Troy thought.
“Sure, I can get you that. How much?” said the shady man.
“One thousand dollars,” said Troy in a low tone.
“Sure, I can get you that, but make sure you pay me back, okay?”
The man opened up a briefcase with lots of money. He took $1000 out and handed it to Troy. Troy said, “Thanks! I’ll definitely pay you back, sir.”
Troy felt as if he hadn’t done anything bad. He had the money. Now everything should be good, right? The man seemed like a decent guy anyway. A nice suit and tie, nice shoes… “Now I gotta hurry back to my mom!” thought Troy in his head.
Troy got to the hospital and came to his mother’s room with a large bag. “What’s in the bag?” said his mom, confused.
“The money,” Troy said almost as if he was scared.
“Money?” Mom yelled.
“Yeah, you know, the money for your medication?” Troy said. As Troy opened the bag, his mom immediately screamed, “How did you get all this money! Did you do anything stupid” she asked.
“I, um, borrowed it,” he said dejectedly.
“FROM WHO?” Mom shouted.
“A man on the street,” Troy said.
“WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT? I SAID WE WOULD HAVE TO WAIT! FIND THE MAN AND GIVE IT BACK!”
“Okay,” Troy said. “Why is Mom so upset?” he thought. “I didn’t steal it. I didn’t even ask for it. The man was creepy, but he offered it to me. I’m gonna pay it back. Why can’t she just take it?”
Troy went back to the street looking for the man who gave him the money. He saw him talking to another boy in the same alley. “Hmmm… weird,” he thought. Troy threw the money back near the shady man and said, “I don’t need your money!” And Troy ran back to his mom.
“I gave the money back,” he told his mom.
“Good,” said Mom in relief. Troy started crying.
“How am I gonna get the money then?”
His mom smiled and said, “A nice man has actually decided to donate it. We don’t owe him a debt or anything! Troy hugged his mom and they both started crying tears of joy.
“Thank goodness!” said Troy.

The Adventures of Nutriman and Junkster by Saeed B, grade 7

One Monday night in the month of May.
“Man, today for lunch was salted french fries and greasy burgers, but tomorrow is going to be a festive, fresh, yet healthy, Taco Tuesday,” said Dylan (otherwise known as Nutriman) in his bed. He can’t believe how people’s faces are going to be when he brings out the tacos.
The next morning, Dylan went to class with his friend Josh. “Wow, man, it’s already fifth period, five minutes until lunch,” said Josh.
“I can’t wait,” said both Josh and Dylan at the same time.
“Okay,” said Dylan with a tingly feeling in his throat, “I have to go use the bathroom, see you at lunch, Josh.”
“See you later … Nutriman, ha ha ha!” Josh muttered and cackled under his breath.
Dylan came out of the bathroom wearing his suit. “This is a job for Nutriman!” he said. He walked into the lunchroom and there he saw everybody groaning and holding their stomachs. “What happened to you?” Dylan asked a fellow classmate.
“Some guy in spandex tights came and put junk food and fried foods on our plate. I took a bite and it felt good, but it also hurt my stomach. We ate more but it made it worse. Ahhh,” his classmate said as he was in pain.
“Who could have possibly done this,” Dylan said. Dylan saw Josh walking to the lunchroom. “Fellow citizen,” Dylan said in a manly voice. “Why aren’t you sick and groaning like them?”
“Uhh … because I am a vegetarian, yeah, I’m a vegetarian and didn’t eat that food,” said Josh.
“Okay, thank you, sir,” said Dylan. He went home and thought about who had done this. “Hmm … Ant Man … Red Fury … Dr. Sickmania? Who could it be?” said Dylan.
The next day at school, Dylan thought about it. “Well … Josh did sound like he was cackling, and I did get a tingly feeling in my throat when I was talking to him, but why would my best friend do this?” he asked himself. “It’s time to crack this case and find out who did this. I need help and I know just the right person: Captain Nutritional, a good friend of mine.”
Nutriman talked to Captain Nutritional. Captain Nutritional said, “The plan can be that I would offer Josh junk food to give to the kids, which would actually be kale brownies”
“Got it,” said Nutriman.
In the cafeteria, Nutriman said, “Cap, come on.”
“I checked fingerprints and it’s either your friend Josh or some kid named David,” said Captain Nutritional.
“What?! Maybe it is Josh. But Josh has been my friend since kindergarten,” Nutriman.
“Ha ha,” said Junkster (aka Josh) walking up to them.
“I can’t believe it is Josh, and not only that, but the plan has been foiled,” said Nutriman.
“Attack him head on,” said Captain Nutritional with a confident voice.
“Nutriblast!” shouted Nutriman as he blasted fresh greens and beans at Junkster.
“Give me the power of calcium,” said Captain Nutritional, also aiming greens at Junkster.
“Ahhh! The vitamins have destroyed me!” yelled Junkster. “Don’t worry, Nutriman and Captain Nutritional, more villains will come and avenge me. Avenge, I say! Avenge!” yelled Junkster.
“Josh, no,” said Nutriman.
“It’s over,” said Captain Nutritional. The day was saved. Vitamins, nutrients, and calcium were restored back to the food in the cafeteria. Everything was healthy again.

Post Credit Scene

“Don’t worry Nutriman, I’m coming for you,” said an anonymous villain. “Muhahaha!”

Nutriman and Captain Nutritional will return!

Mercury, the Messenger on the Run by Courtney M, grade 7

Once upon a time … Wait, no, this is no fairy tale, so …
There was a girl named Mercury who really wanted the best for her neighbors. She wanted to start a business that got rid of all the bad and high-fattening foods and replace them with healthy foods. She wasn’t getting rid of all the junk food, because she knew what people liked and how they all wanted a cheat day sometime in the week. But there was a man that didn’t like the fact that she was replacing his business, and he wanted to stop her business.
The man that wanted to take down her business usually went by the name of “J. F. Man.” Yes, I know that sounds stupid, but the J. F. stands for Junk Food. He didn’t really give a care in the world to actually thinking about the neighborhood’s diet or if they were trying to get on a diet or stay away from junk food. He just wanted money from the neighbors. But Mercury didn’t really care about the J. F. Man. She wanted to make sure that her neighbors were happy with what they were eating. She would make tasty things for breakfast, like avocado toast; or replace the bacon in bacon, egg, and cheese with low-fat turkey bacon or toast the bread with low-fat butter. She’d put yogurt on it and make yogurt toast.
There was a big event happening, and surprisingly, Mercury was hosting it. She was making all her famous healthy foods that everyone loved. The event was called, “Healthy on the Run!” Everything was going great until the J. F. Man came and crashed her event. He took down her big poster, turned off the fire, threw her food on the group, and then took her microphone and made a very disrespectful statement: “Mercury and her healthy foods suck! If you come back to me, you’ll realize I’m right!”
Mercury’s face became very red and her eyes were so watery they looked like an ocean. But she knew that being violent would get her nowhere. So she decided to wipe her eyes and be nice. She offered to give him some of her food. At first he tried to deny that avocado toast could actually taste good. Then he couldn’t hide it anymore. He finally said the nicest thing he had ever said since this whole rivalry had started. He said, “Buy her stuff, it’s good.”
Everybody replied, “I know!”
Long story short, she and the one very weirdly named villain in this story, J. F. Man, became friends. Good friends actually, and they collaborated on making many good foods.