A teenager's legs and tennis shoes as they cross a railroad bridge during the winter

Photo by Redd F

He pursed his full lips at me as a taunt, turned in his red and white checkered Converse high tops, and ran inside the brick building that housed Waldo’s. Johnny was half Latino and half white, which was unique for my town filled with German Catholics. His sandy blond mullet ran upward into a curly tousle of hair.

Outside my secret world where the outcasts of Granite City found each other on weekend nights, my winters were bleak. Endless, black-and-white emptiness, leafless trees, and piles of snow were met at the flat horizon by a giant sky. Looking up, there were no mountains or ocean to end my gaze. The sky was a canvas to paint my future. One where I could get out of there.

Cold and snowy Midwest town during a winter night

Photo by Josh Hild


Blood looking paint splattered over a blurry building in the background

Photo by Jr Korpa