This is a short list submission for the YOUTH Award


Seeing Red


Aaron Maltz

I exhaled and a hum like thunder flooded my temples. I looked over at Cliff, whose shrinking eyes appeared pre-occupied with the ground. He seemed lost in thought before breaking out in song.

“I want to get hiiiiiiiiggghhh, sooo hiiigghh…”

I giggled as the soundtrack continued between my ears. Others watched us from a distance with a mixture of concern and envy. A school bell then shrieked like a siren.

“I gotta go.”

Cliff said nothing.

The change in scenery did me no good. The competing sounds of scuffling shoes and adolescent chatter induced vertigo. Angry boys shouldered their way through crowds breeding panic.

I found my class and immediately took a seat, praying for safety from my senses. Kyle Henderson entered next, making eye-contact only with the floor. He slumped to the music pumping into his skull, quietly repeating, “Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me.” I saw a brief flash of his future.

The room then filled with a burst of bodies, none of whom I could trust. I retreated into my shell feeling misunderstood. Mr. Jones made his way into class humming, “Golden Brown, texture like sun…”

An unseen surge of panic swept through my compromised thoughts as I became unsure as to whether I was in the right class. I faced writer’s block trying to discern the day and time.

The unloving bell rang once more and Mr. Jones began. “Alright, today will be the first day of our final presentations. I believe that Aaron, you’re up first.”

He looked at my face, my eyes, and gave a weary smile. I felt my skin grow hot as time altogether stopped. Unfortunately, this was the right class.


Referenced lyrics:

 Cypress Hill. “I Wanna Get High

Rage Against The Machine. “Killing in the Name

The Stranglers. “Golden Brown


Aaron writes for The Social Soundtrack commenting on the role of music in viral videos and contribute regularly to the awesome metal blog, Invisible Oranges. Outside of those platforms, his largest claim to fame was being published on NPR as part of their Three Minute Fiction competition with his short story, “Misshapen.”