Letter from the Editor
We have witnessed the growth and progression of Chaseâ€™s literary magazine for three years. As freshmen we were little more than inexperienced editors with red correcting pens, eager to help and to learn. As sophomores, we were slightly more instrumental, acting as creative assistants to our mentor, Vicki Kallsen. As juniors, we were fortunate enough to be dubbed as CoEditors-in-Chief. We saw our newfound responsibility as an opportunity not only to enrich our own writing and editing skills, but also to assist others in the process. Constructing the Litmag has been a year-long commitment. Without the help and dedication of our beloved staff, this book would still be a mere pile of pages sitting in Mrs. Gâ€™s room. For this we would like to thank all the staff for helping with this process. We would like to give special thanks to Alexa Elmy for our truly brilliant cover, and to Mrs. G for her constant guidance. ~Christian, Jackie, and Linds Co-Editors-in-Chief
Christian Lewis, Co-Editor-in-Chief Lindsey Nelson, Co-Editor-in-Chief Jacqueline Bickley, Co-Editor-in-Chief Akorfa Adobor, Copy Editor Alicia Payne, Copy Editor Anna Bellerive, Copy Editor Josh Singleton, Copy Editor Matt Burns, Copy Editor Monica Leszczynski, Copy Editor Rachel Tokarski, Copy Editor
Alexa Elmy, Cover Art Rose Minkler, Artist Tom Aviles, Artist Jovana Milos, Artist
Rose Minkler, Photographer Caroline Longacre, Artist Duncan Richards, Artist Meghan Grimes, Artist
One merit of poetry few persons will deny: it says more and in fewer words than prose.
Untitled by Matthew Burns-Santucci I awoke in a discrete alleyway, Overlooking the beautiful countryside— Feeling so happy and gay Not knowing what would be the day’s ride. Strolling amongst the majestic olive trees With the sun shooting off its bright light, I could feel the warm day’s breeze For this was nothing like the night. Walking in the dancing hillside village, One could tell it had not been seen by the people’s eye— Much left for me to pillage, But this left me with a great sigh. This was my ideal spot, For there was nothing that as not.
Love of the Sea by Ryan Shiel An ordinary summerâ€™s night turned into a memory, as The salty air combined with the brisk chill, Building a feeling like no other. The serene sea splashes against the silky sand. Two people together, hand in hand, Build a familyCreated by the touch of skin and a rough thought, They are allowed to rule land which is only theirs. The man at the command, and The woman as the guardianLife is instilled by two people, Perfectly in loveGuided by the sea.
Hero by Lindsey Nelson He beckons to me like a thirsty flower, Desperate to be found and loved. He calls to me like a little lost puppy, Cute and innocent and in need of protection. His call is fierce, passionate, and loud, He is so desperate to be found. I am a girl who loves flowers, Who saves lost dogs and listens well. I am a girl with a heart full of love, Who embraces those who may be lost. I feel sort of strong, like a heroâ€” But looking back, that wilting flower saved me; That lost puppy brought me joy, And being with that man has made me happy beyond belief. So in the end, he saved me, He brought me back to life.
White Fern by Monica Leszczynski and Jackie Bickley I dreamt of a white fern Many eons ago, It sprouted among a field of green, Stark and glossy as the snow.
It wavered in the gentle breeze, Grew to the height of a young boyâ€™s knees, Forever pale, forever safe, Beneath the shade of the strong oak trees. I dreamt of a white fern, A couple years had passed, Still, it stood, so fine and slender, Gazing across landscapes so vast.
It wavered to and fro in the wind, Light as a feather, ashen-skinned The pale leaves turned up to the sky, The grace of a creature who never had sinned. I dreamt of a white fern, Merely yesterday, It had shriveled, it had shrunken, The white had turned to grey.
It faltered in its sturdy ground, For the first time begging not to be found, And so, my fern of peace had fallen, Into the earth without making a sound. Something we wish we had?
Blessin’ by Mary Badger She kept her eyes on the sky, Watching all the fireflies fly by, Ignoring all the hateful words he said. Dreamin’ of a man who wouldn’t hurt her again. She tried but couldn’t run, Afraid of when that hand would rise again. Then she decided to fly, Just fly away.
She spread her wings, Learning how to live again. God must have been watching down on her, Cause she got sent a blessin’, A certain angel watching over her.
He just walked on up and said, What’s your name? She blushed and said, “I don’t think I’m ready for this game,” quite yet. He said, “I’ll just wait.” The months flew by, just a few words were said; Then she decided to try and fly again. Got to know that angel sent for her, He picked her up off of her painful past.
Showed her how he was gonna make this last, Promised her everything in the world. Then he said, “Darlin’ don’t you worry, I’ll never hurt your world.” She spread her wings, Learning how to live again. God must have been watchin down on her, ‘Cause she got sent a blessin’, A certain angel watching over her. 8
Love by Andrea Romanos I love you like you read about; Forever my heart remains yours. Together like the stars in the sky, Or the waves crashing on shore.
And while you’re gone, I’ll miss you; Breathing your name into me. My love for you is similar To a sailor’s for the sea.
The thoughts of you consume me; With the images of your face. My fingertips grasping your warmth, And your back which I would trace. I love you like you read about, Forever and ever I’m yours. I am bound to you, my lover… With you, it never pours.
The Dance of the Fly by Anna Bellerive Something glares in the distance Harsh and biting against the darkness It forces its poisonous glow against the night You thirst for it, crave it. You buzz around the electric light with obsession It’s a siren call: don’t listen to the crushed fleet below Blinded with raw lust You scorch your eyes, But the shadows you don’t mind It blazes near, a victory to your pursuit Past the skeletons you fly On their backs with frozen legs Broken wings, in smoldering piles Yet you stay blinded to your fate
Without You by Amanda Thibault The sun shines bright— Your laugh fills the air, The feel of your hand in mine This can’t be more perfect, But nothing lasts forever.
The hot summer came and went— Just like you did. So, I’m sitting here in the cold Dreaming of you, Wishing your arms were around me, Not letting you go, Because there is no life without you. Now that you are gone Every day is night. Flowers being to wilt, Birds no longer sing Everything happy is no more
The hot turned to cold The summer came and went Just like you did So I’m sitting here in the cold Dreaming of you Wishing your arms were around me Not letting you go Because life stands still without you.
Love Poem by Anna Bellerive My core a solid knot of iron, While eyes fall upon the clock in a cavernous stare. Hands mock with a constant tick, Slowing time with every twitch. Gasping for breath through stagnant air. Suffocating in the inferno That imprisoned me in this heat. Heat that warps the song of my thoughts To chords clanging off pitch.
Pencils claw at pallid sheets, The grating echoing in the roaring silence. Reflecting thoughts of identical minds, Drunken with false hopes of freedom.
Atlas by Jackie Bickley Crimson petals Seeping from leathery fields Deep ravines shed forth rivers of life Gliding over work-worn, sun-weathered landscapes Mirrors of sorrow Dripping from ocean-grey abysses Flooding the red-ringed dams of grief, and Sliding across valleys of age The blame shall be placed upon the chains Bound across its chest Seeping petals, dripping mirrors Echoes from silent, broken lips
The burden that has fallen To weary, trembling biceps Ensnared and bewildered between throes of suffering And the prideful, painful knowledge of sole responsibility Listen closely, Hear the strain of enervating iron Against splintering skin; the vibration of soundless cries Perhaps the rush of mirrors across the glen Sense carefully, Feel the silky petals As they blossom hot against the crevices Dribbling through tender furrows
See closely, Watch the glistening chasms, hot with fire of determination Petals sliding from their sacred vessel Slipping through pale fingers that dare to rescue them Nightmarish are these storming seas Harrowing are the sinking roses 14
Blood-curdling are the ringing silences Gut-wrenching is this image of the disturbed But look! The mirrors sliding down, They can see their own reflections Grinning boldly Laughing raucously with lifeâ€™s satisfactions
But now, the contented smile vanishes The joyful hysterics cease For they have spotted this grisly beast, This bleeding, sweating animal, disgusting to behold They shield themselves Mock with flicking tongues and flashing eyes How dare it live that way! And by choice, see! It only has to give in and manumission will ensue So, why does it not? It is that face The smallest, palest face Unmarked by sin or hate or any trace of fear
The widest eyes, dark as death Yet glowing so fervently with the light of promise The smallest hands, reaching so surely Knowing not to shrink in fear in the way of her elders Will she grow to be a mocking, cackling fool? Groveling at the feet of greatness Spitting in the eyes of penury For the rush of playing God?
Circumstance screams it must be so; a moon among stars She will surely reflect the heated hostility of those who surround her Yet she has that face, that smallest, palest face And it cannot bear to watch those dark, bright life-eyes flicker out But she is only one The rest, those molded by the fingers of prejudice Pressed by the palms of conformity Stare with blatant contempt, tight-lipped and shrew-eyed
The amoeba bound by swagger Evanescent sparkling eyes, flaring nostrils, swelling chests But why cloak these heavy sentiments? From whom? Ah, yes! Forbid, we do not exhibit humanity! Tickled by their own superiority, their gazes drawn to this disreputable thing Which makes them feel so mighty, so pristine Profound smugness and fulfillment Behind carefully chiseled masks of terror and distaste But to the wisest ear who hears its howl The knowing eye who views itâ€™s tearing flesh The grateful hand who swipes itâ€™s blood and tear And lets them quiver on its finger, linger on its lips It is a manifestation of beauty Tears of selflessness Blood of love Cries of compassion
All it asks of them is mercy, A gift they cannot bear to give, For where would they be without this monster to scorn? They secretly wonder behind facades of commiseration And so, they taunt
Its shaking knees, Buckling with the weight of the world, They know not of the fate which lies on its knotted back They carve the rivers deeper With blades of contempt, As blind to that which it feels As they are to what it holds
Is it fair to define them as the chains they are, When the world has been so bold as to call them â€œmenâ€?? Can they be condemned for overlooking that, Which was never before them? For what it bears are the lost sacrifices, The sufferings they did not have to know or face Unseeing, they shan't prostrate themselves to this stunning creature Though it has preserved their luxury, and saved their grace.
Transitions by Anna Bellerive Gazes focused toward the sun, Struggling against the encroaching darkness, Ablaze in the burnt sky. Trapped by the hands of the bare trees, Skeletal shadows cover its dying glow As the sun dissolves into the earth, The few last rays fading. As the cover grows, The sky sprouts stars And eyes dance along constellations. A new power holds the sky. The day is replaced by nights.
To love is to believe, to hope, to know; Tis an essay, a taste of Heaven below! -Edmund Waller
Unrestricted Expression by Christian Lewis I live, and therefore, I emote. Emotions are an outlet, a public way to voice what I am feeling inside. Everyone can utilize and combine emotions in order to show how he or she feels, or what he or she believes. But every person emotes differently, uniquely; emotions give us the freedom to be individual. More than definitely, expression is an essential part of life, and is a guaranteed right of every person. However, individuals are constantly trying to suppress emotion, fearing its power. But, expression is a freedom; a right that I believe is truly worth fighting for. I have always treasured the fact that I can go through each day openly feeling, believing, and saying anything I want. Emotions are always something I can hold onto, always accessible and infinite. When considering freedoms, emotions should be valued as a priority and a necessity. Expression is the reason I am who I am. Emotions are the key to individuality, and are therefore one of the most important aspects of life; they are something I am happy to have the freedom to hold and to express. Regardless of how conscious of it I am, I emote constantly. With emotions ever flowing from my being, I express myself whenever I want. In addition, I choose to express myself in as many ways as possible, for I feel that the power to express is mightier than any other. Throughout my day, I sit at my piano and play countless times. This art form is relaxing, enjoyable, and acts as an outlet, as well as a canvas, for my emotions. When I play the piano, I am relieved from stress and entranced into a meditative state. Once there, I can play whatever song I choose, expressing and conveying any feeling I desire. I could play the “Moonlight Sonata” by Beethoven and quietly announce how sad I am feeling, or I could play “Defying Gravity” from “Wicked” to illustrate how confident I am feeling. Although pictures are worth a thousand words, I believe that songs are worth a thousand emotions. No matter what I play, I leave with a sense of confidence. Partially because of my mastery of the piece, but more importantly because I got to subtly con-
vey what I was feeling in a way that was comfortable and enjoyable to me. This form of expression is a freedom and a skill, and I consider it essential to my everyday life. Piano lets me express myself, and as Leo Nikolayevich Tolstoy said, “Music is the shorthand of emotion.” Likewise, when I am onstage, I am content. Being an actor almost all my life, I consider theater a way to express emotion in a dramatic setting. Although sometimes stuck in a character, being on a stage allows me to utilize large amounts of my stored emotions, and express myself in a theatrical way. Theater is another art form that I find comfort in; it is another escape for me. Whether I recite a loving speech to Hermia in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, or lament my mistreatment as an orphaned child in “James and the Giant Peach”, or sing about aspiring confidence in “The King and I”, acting has always been a way for me to adequately express myself in a way that may not have been deemed acceptable otherwise. I consider expressing emotion to be a powerful force, as well as something I must take part in numerous times each day. Acting is a strong and accessible method that allows me to dramatically emote constantly, and because of that, theater is an ideal activity for me. Lastly, literature is another expressive mode for me. I love to read, and in this, I get to access emotions of famous characters. I get to feel their pain, their sadness, their elation. Books transport me into a world filled with emotion, often in unreachable or unattainable circumstances. For this reason, literature is perfect for me, it lets me feel emotions, while simultaneously expressing emotions, in the books I choose, the things I write about, and the way I discuss these books. For example, I choose to read the French epic-novel, “Les Misérables,” by Victor Hugo. From this, I accessed a vast amount of emotion; I got to read about Fantine’s desperation, Éponine’s unanswered love, Jean Valjean’s physiological struggles, Enjolaras’s rebellious attitude, and more. All this powerful emotion was amazing to read, and provided me with an outlet, and a reference for emotion. Or when I read “Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens and I got to witness Pip’s adoration of Estella, and how he was willing to do anything for her. Moreover, when I read “Equus,” “Amadeus,” and “The Five Finger Exercise” by Peter Shaffer I got to truly learn about raw human emotions: passion, revenge, and neglect (respectively). As a whole, literature is a form of expression: I choose what books I want to read, and from them I get to access brilliantly crafted displays of powerful emotion. Although expression is often considered a freedom, Vincent Van Gogh intellectually stated that “little emotions are the great captains of 20
our lives and we obey them without realizing it.” To me, emotions are the only true way to differentiate me from anyone else. Emotions let me be me. They let me have a personality, and let me express show how I am feeling. Over time, people have learned from emotion; they have gained experience, wisdom, and respect. In the words of Marquis De Vauvenargues, “Emotions have taught mankind to reason." For this reason, I understand the value of emotions, and consider it one of the most crucial aspects of my existence. In addition, I know that emotions are truly a gift, unintentionally received, but instinctively understood and applied. Without them, we would be in a uniform society, full of drones who would not truly be living. To live is to emote, and to express one’s self is to be one’s self.
This I Believe by Dan Knies This I believe. I believe that we all have a destiny. Not a “follow this exact path and this is where your life ends” destiny but a destiny, in which we have a place where we will end up no matter what choices we make. The question is, “How do we get there?” and the answer is up to you. Every choice you make leads to another choice and another choice. There may be a time in your life where you don’t need to make any more major choices; this means you are where you should be. My grandpa never went to college. Why? Because he chose not to go. All he wanted to do in life was fix trucks and work for his buddy at a garage. In time, he was the running the shop by himself and was in charge of the place. He got married and divorced and remarried to my dad’s mother, and they now live in Florida. Whenever I visit him, at least one night during my visit we sit out on the linai and he tells me about his life and what he has learned. He tells me about his choices in life and which ones worked out and which ones didn’t. He once said that every day he chooses to make at least one person smile. I found that he does this quite well, as he cracks jokes every few minutes whenever I am with him. I have since felt that I should choose to do the same: make somebody smile every day. I decided to try this, because there is nothing I love more than the sound of people laughing and the feeling that I get when I make someone smile. My grandpa chooses to live a simpler life than most. His life is so worry-free that the biggest decisions in his day were what to wear and when to play golf. As he always says, he has every number that he needs memorized. He knows the phone numbers of my family, my aunt and uncles, his daughters, and his accountants. He also knows what apartment number all his friends live in as well as his credit card number, social security number for both himself and my grandma. He chooses to make his life uncomplicated. He doesn’t have to remember when something is happening or where something is unless he cares about it. I feel that we sometimes worry about too many things and forget to focus on where we actually care about going in life. He feels he
belongs there in Florida. He plays golf every week and plays tennis occasionally, has friends he actually cares about, and has a good family. All his choices led him to where he is, and I think he believes he is right where he should be. Our minor choices in daily life may seem very important, but every choice is just a different path, and every path leads to the same place: right where you should be.
Excessive Homework by Livy Lucchesi Typically two types of homework exist: beneficial and excessive. The difference between the two is a detrimental task teachers have to reevaluate. I believe in homework that is beneficial for practice and retention; however, when given in excess, it is a waste of time. Would you enjoy doing hours of homework instead of building relationships with your friends and family? Not only are you missing the laughs and conversations with your loved ones, but you are also spending countless hours doing pointless that do not enhance our ability to learn. If you were to choose to spend time with your friends and family instead of doing homework, the period of time to do your homework would become limited and your method of studying would result in cramming and memorization. New knowledge would not be gained and the goal of school would not be attained. This problem resides in the choice between receiving a great grade in school or enjoying your time with the people you love. Health is in jeopardy as a result of too much time spent on homework. Lack of sleep when given an excessive amount of homework is visible in the studentâ€™s work and in his or her participation in class. As the streak of endless homework each night proceeds, the student becomes more and more unlikely to retain information instructed in school. Along with fatigue, anxiety to perform well in school often results in unsystematic vomiting, unbearable nausea and numerous facial abruptions. Overall, the leading cause of illness regarding homework relates directly to inevitable stress. Too much pressure is placed upon students when they also have many extracurricular events to undertake after school hours. Lastly, many teachers enforce their homework as if no other teachers have given any. What does one do when all the teachers give too much? The only viable consequences are stress, anxiety and exhaustion. Personally, the amount of homework I receive each night is inconceivable. I spend a minimum of four hours each night exerting as much energy as possible into each of my 24
subjects. After a long day of learning in school and sports directly after, the determination to perform hours of arduous homework is quite unappealing. Along with excess homework comes the reduction of socializing with my family. The hours that have spent with my family have decreased so immensely that our bonding has mostly taken place on the weekends. The â€œAmerican familyâ€? has been extremely altered in terms of becoming more confined; time is spent more on homework and less on discourse. As a result, families are drifting farther and farther apart. Teachers should not distribute excessive homework that is deemed busy work. The time spent not executing excessive homework could be better served by spending time with family, friends, or just relaxing. Instead, unfortunate, immoderate and merciless busy homework is just assigned for a placement in time, instead of allocated for a gain in knowledge.
Je Comprends (I Understand) by Audrey Hickcox I never really understood why people say, “The eyes are the window to the soul.” I have never been able to stare into someone’s eyes for hours on end and feel a deep, gut-wrenching connection. Not once have I seen pure love and devotion shine through the crystal clear windows. I never realized how perfect and truthful eyes could be… until I met you. I tell you all the time that I love your eyes. And you playfully reply by widening them, shoving them into the webcam, and making funny faces. I laugh at you and hit the screen, telling you to arrêt (stop). You just smirk. But honestly, I could probably sit there staring into your eyes for hours. I would never get tired of seeing the emotions flit through them. I would never grow bored of seeing your love for me shine through them. Those two perfect brown windows reflect everything I need in this world. Your love, your essence, you. For now, I will make do with seeing these wonderful windows once a day for a few minutes over a computer screen. I will sacrifice my sleep, my homework, and my time to talk to you. I will get angry with you, I will be jealous, I will cry over you, and I will feel my heart rip in two because of you; but I will always love you. I will always be able to look into those two chocolate pools and be reminded that I am yours and that you are mine. The eyes are the window to the soul, and because of you, je comprends (I understand).
Short Stories Chapter 2: My Mother (Meg) by Rachel Tokarski I don’t remember much about my mother when she wasn’t ill. I was only two years old when she got sick so I don’t have any vivid memories from before then. But I remember little bits and pieces. I remember how happy we were. We were the best of friends, going everywhere together. While my father was at work in the falconry, we stayed at home, cleaning and cooking. I remember that she always smelled like roses and that she always hummed softly to herself. I would sit in the corner, playing with a pot and a spoon, and she would do her housework. I loved to watch her and be near her and she always made me laugh. My favorite thing to do with her was to go to the market. She was the best cook around and we would buy all kinds of different ingredients. She would let me pick out the fruits and vegetables and if I picked the bad ones, she would put them back and tell me to pick again. We would stop at nearly every stall to see what they had. My father would always say that she wasted our money on frivolous things like hair ribbons for me and spices for her food. And she would say, “Oh, Tom, what’s life without a little flavor?” I only remember the little things like this. The first vivid and complete memory I have of my mother is the day that she fell ill. My parents were having a little party. They invited over their brothers and sisters and their close friends. I was outside with some of the other children at the party, playing. Most of them were older than me and did not want to be around the younger children, but there were a few children my age. I was showing off my new doll. She was a beautiful little thing, with tight, blonde curls, small blue eyes, and the most perfect rosy cheeks. I remember wishing I could look just like my doll. My mother had bought the doll for me at the market the day before and when we came home, my father told her that she really must stop buying silly things for me. My parents fought that night about my doll, but I didn’t care. She was too pretty to be sorry that I had her. 27
Suddenly, my father was yelling. I was worried that he was upset with my mother again, even if he did love her so. Then my uncle came out the back door, running. “You little ones stay right there!” he called behind him. “Where are you going, Uncle?” I asked, but he was already far away. Being the disobedient little twit that I was then, I went into the house. It was almost silent, but I could hear people murmuring in the kitchen. “Mama?” I called softly, but there was no answer. I rounded the corner to the kitchen and saw an awful sight. My mother was on the floor, apparently sleeping or dead, and my father was crouching by her head, crying quietly. “Grace,” he kept whispering, “Grace.” “Papa,” I said slowly, beginning to cry, “What’s wrong with Mama?” “Meg,” he replied without looking up, “Go back outside.” “But, Papa, I want to know…” I began “Go, Meg,” he said hoarsely, “Go play with your cousins and your friends.” I obeyed my father and went outside, but I did not have the heart to play. As soon as I was out the back door, the other children were hounding me for information. “What happened?” they wanted to know, “What’s going on?” I just shook my head to say that I didn’t want to talk about it. Within a quarter of an hour, my uncle was back with the physician. “Father!” my cousins cried, “What has happened? Why is the physician here?” “Stay out here, children,” he said sharply, in a manner unlike my jolly uncle. Both my uncle and the physician disappeared into the house. We were all sitting by ourselves, quietly, without moving. We knew that if the physician had been called, something serious and very scary must have happened. I don’t know how long we sat there, waiting to go inside, but it felt like several days to me. All I wanted was to know what had happened to my best friend, my mother. Finally, the physician came out the back door. I stood up. “Are you going home?” I asked him. “I am,” he replied. “Your father would like very much to see you, young lady.” And then he was on his way. The rest of the children followed me when I entered the house, and I didn’t stop them. They would all find out eventually any28
way. The house was silent. Nobody talked, nobody moved. Then, my cousin Henry said, “Where is everyone?” As if on cue, we heard the adults talking upstairs. Mama must have been moved to her bed. I led the way up the stairs and to her bedroom. Everyone was crowded around the bed, where Mama was, propped up by pillows. When I entered, all the adults fell silent. “The doctor said you wanted to see me, Papa,” I said, conscious that I was being watched intently. “Meg,” Mama whispered from the bed, “Meg.” “Yes, Mama?” I said. “I’m sick, baby, very sick.” “But you’re going to get better, aren’t you, Mama? That’s why the doctor was here, wasn’t it? Because he knows how to make you better. The doctor knows how to make everyone better.” “Meg,” Papa says bracingly, “The physician doesn’t have a cure for Mama.” I stared back and forth between my parents. This had to be a joke. The doctor always made me better when I was sick. Whenever I had a cold, or a fever, he knew just how to make me better. But the dead look in Papa’s eyes told me this was no joke. I felt my breath catch, as my chest grew heavier. I turned and fled from the room, pushing past all the people crowded in there. I burst out the back door and looked for somewhere to go. Anywhere would do, I just needed to get away from that place. I could hear people running behind me, and I knew that if I needed some time alone, I would have to make a quick escape. I hurried into the trees behind our house and hid. My father and my uncles ran down the back porch and each went in a different direction, searching for me, but none of them went into the woods. My escape was successful.
Susan’s Death by Alicia Payne Surprisingly, her death was easier than she predicted. Besides the sudden blinding strike to her left temple and the inevitable darkness that followed, Susan felt nothing. She didn’t realize that she was bleeding profusely in the middle of the street, and that the taxi driver that had struck her with his car was scrambling out of the driver’s seat to her lifeless body. Instead, she focused on the fact that she was still there, still on earth, staring down at herself in a jumbled mess of fabric and limbs. The first thing she noticed was her hands. Susan had assumed that, like all ghost movies and horror shows, her ghost would resemble her mangled body, glazed with cuts and bruises and disfigured bones. But instead, she was quite mesmerizing. Her skin was fair, rid of bruises and other blemishes—she reached tentatively to her cheeks, and sure enough, no more acne—and her hair seemed to be freer, less confined. Despite the situation she couldn’t help but feel excited, because her acne was finally gone and her hair had seemed to actually grow about an inch in length. Focus, she thought suddenly to herself. And all at once, enthusiasm gave way to curiosity. “I’m dead,” she said aloud. She could skip over the whole “denial” aspect of death, because, quite frankly, all the evidence was literally at her feet. The driver, now looking utterly confused, was bending over her old body, poking delicately at her arm. She studied him. As she watched, the driver cautiously rolled her over and recoiled at the sight. His head dropped and hung as he squatted next to her, and he shook it sadly. “No. No, no, no. Too young.” Susan sat down next to her body, and wrapped an invisible arm around Albert. She was not upset. She was not confused. She was dead, and there was nothing she could do about it. As soon as her soul had been forced from its comfortable shell, all the information that had been denied from her in her human form, flooded into her like a cup being submerged into water. She knew. And she was wise enough to know that harsh feelings toward this 30
man would bring her nowhere. While she sat and watched Albert call the authorities, Susan began to wonder. She wondered how much longer she would have had if she had chosen not to go out to dinner with her friends; if she had chosen to drive instead of walk to her home…heck, if she had chosen to take a taxi. Maybe she would have been in the taxi that had killed her. Maybe she would’ve struck up a conversation with Albert. They could have been good friends, had circumstances been different. She wondered about her mother, who probably wouldn’t hear the news until the next morning, or her father, on vacation in Mumbai, who wouldn’t hear about it for another week or two. She could picture her mother painting her toes with her rollers in her hair, and her father probably gambling his paycheck away again; both blissfully unaware that the walls of their protected lives were being knocked down fast and that their only daughter was lying dead in a street. Her soon-to-be husband, Jason, was at home waiting for her. She
needn’t wonder about that. The porch light was on, she could feel its warmth radiating on her shoulders…. But she could tell that he would be all right. He would marry another woman, Marcie, a year and three months from now, and although he would never take his engagement ring off, he would fall in love with her just as deeply as he had with Susan, finding parts of their personalities identical. A pang of jealousy roared through her like a wave, and then it slipped away, and somehow she knew that it was the last time she would feel that particular emotion. Her body was being covered in a white blanket now, by a man that she did not bother to inspect. Others had come to watch the show, some in suits and others in bathrobes. Albert sat on the curb, a blubbering, sniffling mess, as two of her friends who had joined her for dinner were now arriving in their car. Susan caressed their cheeks, and rubbed their shoulders as they cried, knowing that they could not feel her. Quietly though, one of her companions touched the spot where Susan’s hand had just been, rubbing it to be rid of the eerie coldness that was suddenly there. Something told her that it was time to go. But, was this all there was? Is it? She thought. We’re born, we grow up, we work, and then one day, everything you ever had and aimed for is taken away. What’s the point of life if it’s all going to be gone in the end? She had no answer for herself. And suddenly, a tremendous, deep voice ripped up from the deepest crevices of her heart and erupted through her. She felt it not only in her chest, but in her arms, her fingers, her head. It felt as if every piece of her had turned to glass, shattering on impact as the godly and glorious voice sounded: “child…it is not the destination, it is only the journey.” And in that moment, Susan finally understood. She understood everything. With a final glance, she turned and began to walk down the street, back the way she came.
Ocean of Tears by Livy Lucchesi Two meteorites, speeding though the universe, formed a grand mass of rock. The Earth, built by fire and flame, would be divided into two spheres: the Upperworld and the Underworld. The Upperworld consisted of a family of gods that controlled every species, every rock and even every scale on the malicious snakes of the Underworld. As the Earth was just starting to settle, the Upperworld Chief began to establish heaven. He came to the conclusion that he needed a companion, so he begged the Chief of the Universe for love. The goddess was of great fortune and elegance; he could not resist. His only choice was to wed her. Drowned in jewels and white tunics, the Chief of the Earth and his goddess were promised eternal love. Soon after thier marriage, they produced two young offspring and named them Lyric and Harmony. They were the most striking and valuable belongings that the Chief and his wife had ever possessed, even greater than the world itself. One day, the children’s curiosity got the best of them, and they aspired to venture to the forbidden Underworld. Their Father had told them to never leave their safe haven, but a small, fish-like creature persuaded them to descend to the underworld. Jumping from cloud to cloud, the children proceeded until they reached the darkness. Black snakes coiled around Lyric and Harmony and consumed their bodies until only a faint hiss of a breeze lingered throughout the Underworld. At that instant, the Chief and his wife felt that something was wrong. Unnerved, they noticed the disappearance of their offspring and came to the conclusion that the Underworld had absorbed them into its depravity. The Chief’s wife sobbed, afflicted by the loss of her dear children. Teardrops poured through the clouds and trespassed into the Underworld, flooding most of Pangaea as punishment. To this day, the ocean is still made up of the tears of the Chief’s wife that fell from the Upperworld. The breeze that meanders through your ears is a sign of hope that Lyric and Harmony have not completely vanished by a snake’s bite.
Things Found by Rachael Pettinicchi Philip Clerret first saw the old woman as he walked into the musty old Antique store. He had known very little of her, other than about her son, Herbert, who had died in a particularly gruesome accident. It was said that Mr. White later died of grief, which explained why she was here; Mrs. White was selling the possessions of her late son and husband. Mrs. White glanced at him blankly for a moment before looking back at Mr. Alden, the owner of the shop. “Ten shillings?” Mr. Alden asked, holding up a small pair of spectacles. She nodded slightly. Mr. Alden took another object from the large box that sat at her feet. Phillip continued to look over the shelves, hearing bits of Mrs. White and Mr. Alden’s bartering. It was barely bartering at all really, Mr. Alden would make an offer, and then Mrs. White occasionally suggested a slightly higher price. Other than that, she was barely present as she stared forward bleakly, the look of anguish evident on her aged face. Once the box had been emptied, Mr. Alden placed a generous quantity of shillings into her hand. He thanked her and asked her to come again. Before she could make her way out, a small blackish object in the box caught Mr. Alden’s eye. He picked it up and studied it curiously. It looked like some kind of animal’s foot. After realizing its eerie resemblance to a human hand, Philip realized it had to be the hand of some primate. “How much would you like for this?” he inquired, turning the hairy object over in his hands. Mrs. White gave him a look of sheer terror before snatching it out of his hands and stammering loudly, “T-t-that is not for sale!” She raced to the door, which let out a loud clang as it slammed. They both looked out the window and saw Mrs. White run toward the street, look at the object with pure abhorrence before shrieking as she threw it into an alleyway. Philip looked to Mr. Alden with a perplexed expression; the man gave only a shrug as a reply. Not wanting to be nosy but at the same time feeling quite inquisitive, Phillip walked outside toward the alley to see the supposedly cursed thing. It looked sinister, but still, why had she been so alarmed? Age and grief drive people mad, he thought to himself, remembering 34
Mr. Diggory, the strange, old man who lived near his house. He worked as a butcher. He also had the idiosyncratic habit of carrying a meat cleaver with him at all times and threatening any suspicious noise with it. After pondering exactly what to do with it, he thought of the shop across town that sold curious and odd objects. What better place to get some money for it than there?He put the paw into his pocket and started walking. “There are odd stories about things like this,” mused Mr. Doran, the owner of the shop, as he examined the paw with particular attentiveness. “Like what?” Philip questioned. “Totems, lucky charms, the like…” he replied, still remaining quite absorbed in the simian paw. “Some legends say that things like this were enchanted and could grant wishes or cause bad luck. You know, all that hogwash. Still, a very fascinating find, but I can’t take it, though. There’s little chance anyone will buy this, most people are too superstitious.” Slightly disappointed, he thanked him anyway, put the paw in his pocket and went on his way. His mind still rolled over the thought of the lumpy, hairy hand granting wishes. The prospect seemed like a grotesque version of a rabbit’s foot. But still, he had to wonder. There was that watch he had lost last week, a nice one with a chain; he never found it. He worked at a button factory. Money was scarce for him, so buying one would be out of the question. But getting a new one would be helpful. He scolded himself. Believing in magic tricks, that’s for fools. He took the paw out of his pocket; it did have a slightly magical feeling to it. Despite his misgivings, he grasped the paw and whispered, “I wish I had a new watch.” It couldn’t hurt, could it? Lo and behold, not a moment passed before he found a fine, golden pocket watch sitting on the ground. He quickly picked it up and noticed it had a monogram on the back: R.A.B. It was clearly used, but was better than no watch at all, he thought to himself. He continued on, feeling quite satisfied with himself. He showed off the watch at every chance and actually received several compliments. He could at least feel like he was wealthy. It was night. Philip, feeling quite content, was walking home. He 35
reached the door of his house and groped through his pocket for his keys. “Hello,” an unseen voice said. Philip was so startled that several trinkets spilled out of his pocket. He saw a man. Dirty hair, unkempt clothes; he obviously wasn’t of an ethical occupation. “The watch,” the man demanded, putting out his hand. Philip hesitantly put the watch into the man’s palm; the man snatched it and shoved it into his pocket. “I killed the man that owned that watch, especially for that watch,” the mugger said almost pensively. “I thought I had gotten all his valuables, but I realized I was mistaken, when I was walking around today, and I saw you with it.” Philip inched toward the door. “Ah, no,” the man said, exposing the gleaming pistol in his hand. “You know my secret; how could I let you run away?” He paused for a moment before warning maliciously, “Scream, and it’ll happen twice as fast.” Philip quickly contemplated the end of his earthly existence before noticing the paw on the ground. Perhaps I may be able to make another wish! He tried to reach for it as inconspicuously as possible. “What’s that?” the man asked, quickly grabbing the paw in his hands. He examined it carefully before looking at the item with slight disgust. “What is it?” “Tell me!” he demanded when Philip remained silent. “It’s a monkey paw,” he answered timorously. The man studied it, mildly puzzled. “What does it do?” Philip paused, “It’s supposed to grant wishes.” The man laughed before replying in a mocking tone. “It grants wishes you say? Oh, I wish I had a knife right now. I could drag your death out at least, make it a little more entertai-” he let out an odd coughing noise, and with a horrified look on his face, fell forward. A large butcher knife stuck out from his back. Mr. Diggory stood behind him, “What the on earth is going on here?” he questioned with shock.
Beneath the Apple Tree by Brianna Lane It was only July when I found myself making weekly visits to the hospital again. It had been four years since I received the tragic phone call about my grandfather that changed my life. Even with all the fright that his illness caused, I still carry around the memories of us sitting at the lake. He loves it there; the sound of nature and birds, along with the peacefulness of the lake. We used to gather there every Sunday for lunch since I was three. We would always sit by the water under the apple tree and tell each other stories. Now, I spend my Sundays sitting next to his hospital bed. He neither remembers much nor recognizes faces. But with me it’s different; he knows who I am and whether he makes sense or not, I can understand him. “How is he doing?” I asked the doctor. “He is the same,” Doctor Carter replied blankly. I walked into the room with my father beside me. Papa was playing cards, but no one could understand what game he was playing. I walked over to his side and kissed him on the forehead. “Grayce,” Papa said with a smile. He turned his attention to my dad. “Who is that you brought along with you?” “It’s me, Greg, your son,” my father stated as he shook his head and looked out the window. Most people knew my father was a selfish and materialistic man. He was a businessman, but it was not a challenge to see that his paycheck was more exciting than his family. My mother had certainly not liked that. She left him when I was five, but my mother passed away in a car accident when I was only seven. “Oh, right,” Papa noted to himself. There wasn’t much small talk before my dad decided to leave and sit quietly in the waiting room. “Nothing is going to change,” he always said. I, on the other hand, cherish every minute I can with my Papa. Although seeing him surrounded by machines and nurses makes me upset, I stay my strongest just for him. I join him in playing cards and let him win, because he usually forgets which game he is playing. After the second game and a quick lunch, he pulled me close to him and whispered in my ear, “I have a little secret for you.” “What is it?” I asked. The room was silent and he bore a confused expression as if he did not know what he was even talking about. “Find it,” Papa insisted. Just then the nurse walked into the room saying that it was time for Papa to get his rest, and I must leave. I hugged him goodbye and wished him well. The worst part of every visit is walking out that door. The twenty minute drive through North Carolina was calm with no words spoken. All the way home I kept my mouth sealed about what 37
Papa had tried to tell me. Not once did my father even ask about him or what we talked about, but that was fine with me. For the next week all I could think about was the secret that I was supposed to find. “What is he trying to tell me?” I asked myself. At dinner on Thursday night I brought Papa into the conversation. “Daddy,” I began. “What did Papa do before he got sick?” “He was a jeweler,” my father exclaimed, not looking up from his plate. “He dealt with expensive jewels and diamonds.” “Oh. Did he like his job?” I questioned. “ I would say he loved it,” my father responded. He stood from the table, put his dishes away and walked into the living room. I sat silently finishing my dinner only thinking about Papa. It was Sunday again, and I could not wait to see Papa. The moment I stepped into his room I saw the glow of his smile. Doctor Carter who was also in the room, took note of Papa’s reaction toward me, and quickly left the room. We went on with our usual Sunday routine; playing cards, eating lunch, then relaxing and talking. “Papa,” I called to his attention. “Can you finish telling me about that secret?” “What secret?” he asked. His memory was failing now. Staring at the floor, he focused, as if that would help him remember. “Never mind, Papa; how was your week?” I changed the subject. His facial expression did not change, as if I had never spoken. I just sat there waiting mutely for two long minutes. “Don’t mention it to your father, just find it,” Papa murmured. At first I was confused but I continued listening. “Keep it for yourself, it is for you,” Papa continued. I knew he was talking about the secret, so I nodded in agreement. Soon enough, the nurse came in saying it was time for me to go. It’s the middle of August now and the days are becoming cooler. I spent every day looking for Papa’s hidden prize. My father remained clueless, and I remained persistent to find it. I searched everywhere, even in his special hiding places like his closet or drawers. It did not help that I was unsure of what I was even looking for. Was it big, small, or was it even an object? I didn’t know, but I wasn’t giving up. Before walking in the door on Sunday, Doctor Carter pulled me aside. “He is much worse, Grayce,” the doctor sighed. “I do not know how much longer he can take.” My heart sank low in my body; I was determined to go in. Papa was on oxygen now and hooked up to several machines. The sight was painful; and so was the look in his eyes. I sat beside his bed and rubbed his head gently. I don’t know if he remembered me or not, but it did not matter anymore; I was there for him as I always was. He 38
looked terrible, almost too terrible for me to watch. Hours passed, and I had not left my spot, nor spoken a word. Doctor Carter came in and warned me to leave. I politely turned the warning down and kept my place. With little energy left, Papa dragged his arm and lifted it into the air. He looked up at me and grabbed my hand; Papa had not forgotten me. I told him I loved him, as my eyes started to tear. “Remember Grayce,” he stammered. “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” At that moment, my vision was blurred by my own tears. That familiar saying rang in my head, as the memories of when I was a young girl returned. I now knew where my long search was trying to take me. I glanced down at Papa to see him make out one last smile. I smiled back as he whispered, “I love you.” His eyes closed, and for the first time in weeks, he looked peaceful. My father entered the room and stared down at the still man. He mumbled his goodbyes, and then we left. The instant we arrived home, I grabbed the garden shovel and rushed down the dirt path to the lake. My memories stopped me, as I came across the very tree we sat beneath each Sunday, staring out into the calming water. I plopped myself down on the earth below its branches and began to dig. Nine scoops down, one for every year we spent sitting here, I reached the end of my search. I pulled out a tiny treasure box with “Grayce” engraved on the front. I was speechless. I opened the box and a diamond necklace lay inside with a note from Papa saying, “A special gift to my beloved granddaughter.” I looked toward the clouds to see Papa smiling down at me; he was proud. They say people with Alzheimer’s begin to lose their ability to speak clearly; that’s when you let them speak from their hearts. The wind was calm, and the lake was as peaceful as it had always been. I plucked an apple off the tree and walked back to the house wearing my new memory.
The “War” by Hayden Hall It was raining. The men sat huddled in a circle around a small fire. The commander stood at the edge of the tent watching the landscape, as his eyes scoured the land for any sign of movement. But nothing stirred in the barren wasteland that lay before him. He turned slowly to his men, and with one simple nod of his head, they all sprang to their feet and adeptly readied themselves for combat. The day was June 9, 1944, three days sense they had stormed the Beaches of Normandy. Only a few men survived, and even among those few, only a handful were still able to fight. These soldiers appeared tough but relatively inexperienced. They put all their trust and faith in their commander, Gen. John Pitton, an experienced and distinguished general who had been in the Army for over fifteen years. The sun began to rise above the desolate land just as the men departed from their temporary camp. Although inexperienced, the men were still extremely resilient and determined. They all knew what they were fighting for, every one of them, whether it was freedom, family, or fame; they all had a reason and they all had an undeniable love for their country. The twelve troops continued to march on, one after the other following the General swiftly and brushing on his heels. The air was cold, and it tasted like soot and gunpowder. Rubble lined the ground, along with the burnt remains of a once great forest. It had been destroyed a few days earlier during the clash between the American and British Armies and the belligerent Nazis. The war had escalated to the point in which all three military powers had recognized that they were major threats to one another. The only difference was their motives and the spirit and hearts of their troops. The group planned to reach a new area about one hundred miles away by nightfall, and was prepared for any unexpected obstacle. Fortunately for them, no disturbances occurred, except for maybe the time Ol’ Jim forgot to put his safety harness on and almost shot himself. Once the camping zone for the night had been reached, they planned out their check point for next day. Originally, they had planned to make it to Berlin, the capital of Germany and the Nazi main headquarters, in little over a week. The men knew that the journey ahead would be full of nothing but grueling pain and fierce combat. It had always been their mission and duty to get to Berlin and destroy the Nazis. For three days the troops marched through the thick wooded forests of Northern France, as they descended deeper into Nazi territo40
ry. Their first encounter with the enemy occurred on the fourth day, and this will be the worst day of the entire journey, solely because the General had been shot and killed. A scuffle, that’s all it was, just a small little five man search party, who were sent off to wipe out any surviving U.S troops that still happened to be lurking around the unfamiliar ground. It was the General who saw them first, and he hollered out the order to take them out. The men, although agile with their responses were a fraction of a second late and this cost them their second biggest loss of the entire journey. That night they were all in shock, realizing that they had lost their only way of making it out alive. Tempers flared within the group and the violent dissonance could be heard from miles away. This would have continued throughout the night had one man not stepped forward; Private Zach Keller, a young man who enlisted at the age of sixteen, unaware of the dangers and hardships that lay before him. He spoke softly and slowly in order to quiet down the group. “Now men, I know we all are terribly distraught from the events that happened today, but I know General Pitton would want us to stay strong and continue our effort to get to Berlin and kill those Nazis. Without a leader we won’t make very good progress, if any, so I ask you to put your trust in me to lead you to Berlin and make sure that all of us get to back and be called heroes for our valiant efforts,” he quieted and waited for a response, but none was given. The men were just sitting there with tears in their eyes from the realization that they needed a leader, and they needed one now. One man finally spoke out. “I do, Mr. Keller, I put my complete trust in your hands. I know you’re the best guy to lead us into this war and I will follow you,” barely choking out the final words. Then, one by one, all the other men gave their support. Shortly after this decision had been reached, they began to plan for the next day. It was imperative to cover at least fifty miles in order to even be in range of hitting their schedule on time. Quickly, the men all fell asleep, except for Private Keller, who sat out looking up at the stars, thinking of the responsibility he had just undertaken and how much pressure he would be put under. He quickly brushed the idea aside and cogitated about much happier things, such as his girl back home, who he knew would be waiting for him at the airport the day he returned. That thought put a smile on his face. But, no sooner had the smile appeared on his face when the rustling of leaves and branches and the sudden sound of tanks rumbling through the woods caught his attention and prompted him to wake up the men so that they could escape. He quickly sprang to his feet and woke everyone with a hard shake, he told them all what was 41
going on, that they were in trouble and they needed to get out. All twelve of them dashed away from the camp, with equipment on and guns in hand. They never looked back, not once. After running for what seemed like hours they stopped and turned only to see a blazing fire and smoke billowing into the air. The Nazis reached the camp and burned it down; but everyone with the Private was safe and alive so he did not feel too discouraged. “We need to go now,” Zach said quickly. Everyone could hear the urgency in his voice. By daybreak the troops had already covered twenty-five miles and they weren’t stopping for any reason other than for food or bathroom breaks. They continued on for fifty more miles until nightfall. They went through the nightly routine and all went to bed. In the morning no one awoke; no one stirred. The men all lay silent together, each one with a bullet hole through their chest and a pool of blood surrounding their lifeless bodies. The Nazis had been tracking them, and in the middle of the night, they had killed every man. The Nazis quickly fled the scene and reported their accomplishment back to Berlin, to the leaders of the group. News of the men’s death was broadcast to their friends and family shortly after. The report said that these were the bravest and most daring men on earth, to enter heavily guarded Nazi territory in an effort to wipe out the Nazis once and for all. Their legacy lives on till this day and will for thousands of years to come.
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