Additional Editing by: Tim Gearty ‘16 Gerard Menna ‘16 John Penek ‘16
With Help from: Alex Baumann ‘15 Connor Moran ‘15
Special Thanks Mrs. Brown, Delta Moderator Mrs. Lopez, Mrs. O’Malley, Mr. Rodi Mr. Pillette & English Dept.
Guide to the Artists
Covers - James Paris ‘15 4 - Colin McGuire ‘15 6 - Adam Kosecki ‘15 8 - Waqas Azhar ‘15 9 - Michael Sweetman ‘15 10 - John Crandall ‘15 11 - Alex Eicherl ‘16 21 - Michael Sweetman ‘15 22 - Gregory Kacergis ‘15 30 - Andreas Vlahakis ‘15
By Will Nixon
As we finish another year at dear, old Delbarton, I’d like to reflect on the marvel of our community. We watch out for each other, and support one another, more often than not. This, I believe, is something important for a school such as ours to strive for. But as I walk the shiny linoleum floors of Trinity Hall, and smell the earth on the way to lunch, and hear the hum of the central air conditioning in the Fine Arts Center during my final weeks here, I can’t help but wonder if I could’ve done more. Not necessarily with my time outside of class—I was pretty busy—but maybe I could’ve done more to be a good person. Personally, I wish I had participated in more of the weekly community service opportunities, and I won’t stretch the truth anymore: I didn’t always volunteer at the Christmas Gift Drive. I embellished those guidance activity forms, and I’m sorry. But who hasn’t? I wonder if maybe, had I done the impossible and known what I know now, I wouldn’t have had that attitude. I wish I had hung on every one of Br. Paul’s words at our Morning Meetings because when I did listen, I learned something. I wish I had tried out for the play when I was a freshman, instead of relegating myself to stage crew. I wish that I had gone to lacrosse tryouts freshman year, too, just to see what it was like. I wish that I wasn’t so self-conscious and concerned with how I looked. I wish that I’d never said anything critical about how someone else looked, or what they said or did or seemed to think. I wish that I had the power to say “no” more often. This magazine is not about me—much to my mother’s chagrin, who counts every picture of me in Delbarton Today as a point of pride. Rather, this magazine is about our community. This magazine represents the risks we take when sharing our thoughts with the world. Within these pages you will find both fiction and truth. Hopefully, you will find some piece of yourself. Some part of you that says, “I can write a poem like that,” or “I’ve felt that way before, too.” You do not have to be a man simply because this is an all-boys’ school. I don’t think I am yet. But I am trying. As men, we must all strive to do our best in the classroom and in the community. I have no regrets. Rather, I have shortcomings and peer pressures and fears and reconsiderations. Above all, I am grateful to this community for showing me who I am and who I might become. In reading the work submitted to this magazine, I can see similar sentiments. Selfishly, I wish more of you submitted. Not to pass judgement, but to respect, admire, and understand the voices of my family whom I love and will miss very dearly. “Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good.” - William Faulkner
Titled The Wards show remnants of race scuffles and immigrant workers: Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, West Africans, Haitians, Jamaicans, Blacks, Jews, and Whites Seperately coexisting. Each on its own decks, enjoying the voyage of this New Ark.
Untitled Iron pastures, electric beasts, chrome and lead scare and protect The People unhappy but wonâ€™t protest. Sons of poets and Bookers lead a flock of sheep too ignorant and corrupted to even speak.
by Teryon Lowery
Boy Meets World So I try to defy lies, stay smooth as hell like Jergens, but that chip on my shoulder brings me right back to the surface where I, boy of mundane, never could I have complained, don’t know too much ‘bout Islam but Allah and God are the same, the earth, the sky, the planes, the seas, the ground, the flames; all part of this whole scheme because the dream was never attained, so what I gotta do to prove to you I’m not some lame? This house of cards fell over this room again, the way we live’ll prolly make our grandmothers insane, who’ve seen the country grow from Jim Crow to Lil Wayne. I know some got in heat over Trayvon and people’s disdain, but I’m not here to complain. ‘Cause that’s the same system that let OJ go unframed; the house, the cars, the planes, the cuts, the scars, the pain, fix it with a kiss, but get to this: the fact remains. Walk into the city, sure the law will have to restrain from pulling him right over, but he’s more likely to falter from someone whose blood is germain, with a poker face that’s colder than the back of Shaun White’s snowboard, and that’s word to Christopher Columbus. Now, ironically, the engine is the motor. And since they’ve been poor, let’s find a way to make ‘em poorer. Too rich up, with my clique, I can’t afford to be a loner, glad I didn’t have to witness the United States of owners, phony fornicators, funny for our labor, maze of honor, corny orchestrators, corky homage raiders, place of harbor.
America the beautiful, America the horror, two sides of the same coin, America the morer. Because people see your glory, but don’t know your story. I’ve swung from the pendulum, so Edgar Allan Poe-y. Which means, I’ve seen both sides, seen sunny, seen pouring, seen money, seen poor, and lost Nemo, found Dory, I’ll be better in the morning. Sit back and become a fan of this boy become a man. Like immaculate, slaying everyone in my bracket. I’m stagnant. Back of the wagon, grabbing hold of the passenger, screaming, “Hey I ain’t having it!” Stuck to the script I’m rapping, hold tight like a magnet. It’s Christmas night and you’re Catholic. Trick or treat but I’m trapping it, no one knew I could rap but when I step up to it, I’m passionate. They say they like my rhymes but I told ‘em really it’s assonance. I’m going back and forth like a malfunctioned magic trick. Capture this.
Editor’s Note: This piece was orignally performed as spoken word, in verse.
by Nate Osemaha
Company Freedom fails to provide peace. Knowledge needs nought but neglect to capture content. The squat pen penalizes propriety and - for sins unspoken lies, confined in company unasked. No company cures captivity quite like these green lands. Landed wealthy worry whether poor approve of blatant “borrowing” of fundamental freedoms need the needy necessitate action? Or should every man’s subconscious say not “together” but “alone, forever?” When demons lie within, how can we recognize the lie external? Or does destruction dull our empty promises? Can solitude subsist the soul? Or must company confine the mind to terms unbinded by Divine sign? And why, why must we ignore who we are?
by Jonathan O’Brien
Flashback In the green pastures, there’s a shack, you see, with fresh bread baking and a pot of tea. And a dog with a tail that won’t stop wagging, with no need to worry about the internet lagging. No Netflix or Hulu or HBO GO, but rather soft rainfall — the fall of snow.
by Brian Monaghan
Unkempt Would we feel bad if the grass could scream? The lawn mower is a tyrant, culling the proud and tall, whirring and chopping away a lifetime reaching out for the sunlight. Not our lifetime, though. So who cares? We like our front yard to look presentable, because looking disheveled means being disheveled. The realtor wouldnâ€™t be happy. Property value, thatâ€™s what matters. The green in our wallets speaks for us.
by Gregory Kacergis
Foam Through the green sea we ride, Piercing, plunging through the salty air. “To the north we go!” our captain yells. Not a worry of how we will fare. The sun is out and loud, so warm, so kind, so bright. Our feet are wrinkled and worn, used to the sea foam white. We ride through the day, our fatigue intensifies. “Perhaps we should stop?” “When one of us dies!” The day wears on, the sun is hot and sticky. Men drop like flies, one says he feels sickly. Our faces so white, and our vomit so green. We realize our grand voyage, is not at all what it seems.
by Connor Moran
By Michael Harper
The mirror, cold and reflective, in the parlor hung upon the wall, its intricate frame embossed in gold,
looked out at the barren landscape, past the fine furniture, past the window, simply looking out at the cool night. It was funny how such a beautiful home would be located in such a place, secluded about a hundred miles from anything else. Outside the hard black doors that opened to the parlor, within the grand hall, reaching high up with a subtle golden chandelier hanging suspended, a narrow stretch that went on for about thirty meters, the two inhabitants of the house strode in their fine garments, loosely draped upon their frail bodies. Both, together, arm in arm, made their way to the parlor to drink some spirits and watch the cold night from the large window.
Both walked into the parlor, light from the waxing moon streaming in, and made their way to the red velvet
couch that sat close to the mirror on the right wall. The eldest lay down upon it, her arms outstretched above her head, and the other on the floor next to her.
“There truly is nothing to speak of,” the one on the couch stated.
“That is true. Mary, I am so very bored. We must leave this place.”
“Diana, never say those words. Never! I love this place, and you do too.”
“Sorry, what was I thinking. Of course I do.”
Mary and Diana, both sisters, have lived in the same house their entire life, never leaving the premises.
They have grown very attached to the household, wandering through its vast halls and rooms, reclining in the parlor, or simply sleeping the long days and nights out. Now, the two of them looked out into the night, the mirror watching with them, and they were quiet.
Mary had golden hair that shone white in the moon, and her skin was pale, flawless and fair. Her eyes were
silver, and her lips blood red, and she appeared as a spirit lost in the night. She appeared tired, yet had a hard stern comfort about her, and she always saw a strange joy in the darkness of the night.
Diana was quite similar to her sister, yet her hair was a dark jet black that cascaded down to her sides as
a dark ocean does on the sand. She loved Mary very much, yet she had trouble facing the fact that she needed to escape the endless cycle that she lived within the ever enclosing walls of the house. Whenever she brought up the topic, Mary immediately shot the conversation down, not wishing to fill her mind with such thoughts.
Mary listened to the breeze that blew outside, while Diana got up and walked out of the
parlor. Mary allowed Diana to leave, acknowledging that she was agitated, and she resumed to her quiet analysis of the stars that hung, suspended, above the house.
Diana went into the grand hall, walking down the narrow passageway, and she stopped in front of an old
wooden door. She opened it, her frail, delicate hand turning the oxidized knob. With a small candle that she pulled off of a nearby candelabra that stood as a Golem in the shadows, she made her way down into the darkness, lighting the way with the flickering light. Walking down a swirling staircase built from black marble and now worn from constant use, she made her way down into the abyss that swallowed her whole. Coming to her destination, another ancient door painted a bluish black with a rusty gold knob, she walked into the hidden room: Dianaâ€™s sanctuary.
Besides the agitation Diana felt toward the house, this mysterious hideaway that she cared for so much was
the only place she could find peace. The room was quite large (surprisingly), and had a large arched ceiling. Upon long shelves that expanded on the right and left walls, bright candles shone and lit up the room with warm light. Even though she loved the moonlight, she loved the glow of candlelight far more.
In one corner of the room, on a small intricate table, the wood swirling and curving with carved leaves and
vines, were piles and piles of aging papers, full of drawings and writings that Diana compiled throughout her days.
In another corner was a simple couch with a flower pattern (white roses with silver leaves), one she could recline on rather than sit on the floor at her sisterâ€™s feet. In the center of the room, an old crumbling marble fountain of a nymph stood naked with a pot from which cold water poured. Above, upon the arched ceiling, Diana painted the night sky, full of twinkling stars, expanding above her head.
Diana made her way to the couch and lay down to stare up at the ceiling and admire her handiwork. From
under the couch, she pulled out a book, one that was very old and made with vellum paper, and immersed herself into the realm of the unreal where she desired to escape.
While Diana secluded herself deep in the ground, Mary went to her own little hideaway that resided high
up in the house. Up in the attic, behind a hidden door that was behind a large painting of young Mary, Mary paced about upon the creaking floor and tried to think of something useful to do. Mary went over to a table, a good idea glowing in her mind. She sat down at an old drawing table and pulled out a flowering green paper box in which her vintage tarot cards rest, organized and in order. She pulled them out and conducted the fortune telling, laying each card out in front of her, forming a fortune from what the cards told her. (Mary was quite the mystic.) When the last card was placed down, Mary gasped at the fortune, but dismissed it, believing that she made a mistake. Abandoning her cards all spread out upon the desk, she went to a hard wooden chair next to a little coffee table where a record player lay. From under the chair she pulled out her favorite record, Bye Bye Blackbird, placed it upon the turntable, set the tone arm and sat in the darkness to listen to the music that flowed around her head and out into the cool night from her secret room.
In the midst of sleep, Maryâ€™s subconscious recalled the tarot cards and the fortune they revealed. Her con-
scious told her the fortune was a mistake, but deep within, in the recesses of her mind, she knew that a certain fate was to occur on that starry night.
Hidden within the damp earth, deep inside her sanctuary, Diana rose up from the couch, setting the book
aside, and walked out through the ancient wooden door. She walked up the serpentine stairs that led up to the grand hall, her hands touching the bacteria that grew upon the wall. She rose out of the abyss into the dim hallway, and went to the parlor, expecting her sister to be there. To her surprise, Mary was not on the couch nor was she within the room, and in control of the parlor, Diana lay down on her sister’s couch in great pride and boastfulness. Expecting to be happy on the couch, Diana sighed and wept. Tears flowing from her pale face, burning her gentle cheeks and rolling down her neck, she looked into the mirror ashamed of the life that she lived.
“This is not how I wish to live. This is not how I wanted it.”
She wailed to herself, her reflection in the mirror crying for her.
Up in the attic, Mary rose from her chair, sleep still heavy upon her eyes, and walked toward the old, hid-
den door. Stepping out, she went down the stairs and walked into the parlor. On the couch, Diana wept crystal tears, and Mary walked toward her poor sister, looming over her like the steeples of a Gothic church.
“How dare you cry in this room! This life is not all about you. Go cry somewhere else where I do not have
to be disturbed by your irrational tears. Pity yourself elsewhere!”
Diana rose up from the cushions, her back cringing in anguish, and she moved from her sister, distancing
herself from Mary. Diana quickened her pace down the hall, passing the old door that led to the spiraling stairs, into another door that led to the upstairs. Climbing the steep steps, Diana came to another hallway, dark except for one out of place candle that had yet to die.
Mary went forward to the soft velvet couch and lounged upon it. Stretching, she cracked the stiff vertebrae
that held her together, and like her sister, she looked into the frozen mirror that made one reflect upon herself and expose her true feelings. Mary pondered her actions and concluded they were just.
“She should not cry. There is nothing to cry about. There is no sadness here, no depression, no disease. We
are in our own sanctuary, far from the anguishes of the world. We are secluded and happy. There is not a reason I can think of to be down.”
While Mary thought to herself in the parlor, Diana stood looking down the murky hallway, lit with that
single candle that burned low. Diana, fearing what evils lay ahead, knowing that there were things in the house to be sad and scared about, put her hands to her face, and cupped her eyes, hoping to see better. Failing, Diana took a step and made her way down the damp hallway.
The door at the end was very old — older than the door to her sanctuary. The paint was peeling and mold
grew strangely upon the moist wood. The handle to the door was rusty, softened due to the moistness of the air. Turning it, a slimy residue was left upon Diana’s hand. The door swung open, exposing a cool light that was held in the room.
The light, coming from a single large window, now opaque due to the slime that dripped from the walls,
poured down onto the floor and the other objects in the room. An aroma of rot and fungus hung about in the air, so intoxicating Diana had to hold her sleeve to her mouth and nose. In the room, dainty little chairs, tables and beds lined the walls, which were covered with fungus. The carpet was home to spores that climbed about the damp fabric and toward the walls. Dolls sat in one corner, strange sprouts coming from their insides and rising from their open mouths and eyes. Diana thought to herself about the horror this room came to be and what happiness it once held. Now it was left to the fungus and mold to inhabit.
Walking about, Diana felt it was time to leave the strange room and explore the other abandoned rooms of
the house to ease her mind. She left the room and submerged herself into the light of the single flickering candle, closing the door behind her. Mary still rest upon the couch in the parlor, now fast asleep, dreaming of darkness and the reality she tried not to feel.
Diana went to another door, opposite from the moldy one, and looked at it. The door was one large mirror,
with the exception of a silver knob, but it was strange, unlike any of the others. The mirror oddly did not show a reflection. It was indeed a mirror, but no image appeared in it. Diana, puzzled, overlooked this paradox of the non-reflecting mirror, and opened it, leading her into a room full of thousands of mirrors. Diana had never seen this room and was confused. She sat on a golden chair amidst the mirrors, and looked at the thousands of reflections of herself. She thought hard, analyzing each image, and then she thought that if she was not trapped within this prison, there would be endless possibilities for her. But she knew that those possibilities would never come.
Mary awoke, a heavy weight upon her chest, and reached for water, but fell backward, choking on her own
breath. Her heart beat, throbbing and resonating within her chest, and she sprawled for something to lift her up. The air became hot and she began to sweat, but then she passed out, due to the fear of what happened, but deep within her the attack was the result of what lay ahead, as was foretold by the cards.
Diana continued to look at herself in the mirrors, a heavy dreariness holding her down. She rose, the
weight making it difficult, walked out of the peculiar room, and went back down the stairs into the grand hall. She went to the door that led down to her personal room. Step after heavy step, she slid down the slick stairs that spiraled into oblivion. Diana opened the door to her room and disappeared.
Mary remained in the parlor, sitting close to the window, far from the couch and the mirror, and looked out
into the dark landscape, sprawling out, bearing nothing but sand. She began to think that, just maybe, she too was not happy there, that she was just losing faith in the house, in the seclusion where she and her sister lived. Brushing her hair that cascaded like a silver moonlit waterfall in the middle of a dark jungle, a single tear fell from the corner of her eye, streaming down her face and soaking up into the fabric of her dress. Mary had faced the truth: the house was eating them whole and they needed to escape.
Diana, deep within the earth, lay upon the icy floor, her pale arms sprawled out, and looked up into the
false night sky. She arose and looked at the small fountain, the cold water running from the vessel, flowing down into the pool below. She then looked at the couch, her own little couch, and leaned in front of it, peering into the darkness that hid amongst the webs and dust under it. She slid out a crude box made from a rare wood, opened it and revealed a silver dagger, gingerly wrapped in a metallic silk. Pulling herself up, and sitting upon the old couch, Diana skimmed her fingers over the sharp edges and poked herself in her palms. Her hands began to shake and she held the knife in her lap, wishing to stop the trembling.
With the dagger in her quivering hand, Diana rose and climbed the winding stairs that lead up from the
hidden niche. She walked through the hallway, a mysterious force dragging her along the narrow passage. She made her way past the parlor where Mary still remained and over to the front door. Opening the most ancient of all the doors in the house, the one that never opened, Diana stepped through to the outside, the cold winds biting at her delicate skin. Unstoppable, Diana pursued onward out into the night, and walked, pushing herself against the wind, to a place she felt suitable. Turning herself to the house, the place she knew her whole life, she wept, her tears falling upon the gray sands.
“I love you Mary.”
Diana struck herself in her heart with the knife.
“Alas, I am free,” she said while weeping.
Diana fell backward, her breath slowly receding from her body, blood seeping from the gash. Diana thought
about Mary, but then she thought about the night sky, each individual star that glimmered above her head, and
how peaceful they gleamed. But in reality, she knew those stars burned. The darkness veiling over her, enveloping her in cool heat, she faded away into the night, gone and unretrievable, forever lost. ***
Mary glimpsed her sister from the window in mid-action, the moon illuminating the act of escapement,
and she ran out of the ancient house and drudged through the cold winds to where her sister lay. She kneeled down, bitter tears streaming from her silver eyes. She stroked Diana’s onyx hair and kissed her on the forehead.
“I am sorry. I now understand why you had to leave and escape. I understand,” Mary whispered, choking
through sobs, her heart beating against her insides.
Wishing to be with her sister, Mary lifted the bloodied knife from Diana’s cold, stiff hand and struck herself
in her heart.
Mary lay next to her sister, looking at the old house and then at the night sky. Mary grabbed her sister’s
frozen hand, and she too faded away into the night, blood seeping from the gash that was left in her heart. The two of them were now gone in the wind, gone in the shrouded night, away from the impurities of the world. The two of them escaped the impurities they both lived: the endless cycle, the loneliness, the misery they both shared.
The house was silent, every room still, everything frozen in time. The parlor was silent. The night sky was
silent. And the mirror, its intricate golden frame coiling around it, captured the frozen world that fell upon the household and the landscape outside.
Church I enter the House; The old smell of incense and musty air mingles, and I look to find my seat— seventh pew in on the right. I sit next to one of my neighbors, the one that lost it all on the market. In front of me, I see the mayor and his wife, her long gray braid hanging straight down, a pendulum, her age visible in the color. The hymn begins, and I tune out. The service proceeds even if I don’t. I only hear the lector fumble on a word. I let out a giggle when she says “journey” like “gurney.” But now people around me turn and stare. My cheeks redden. I am petrified. But I realize now that I am, and we are. And, now, I listen.
by Alex Baumann
I am but a speck in a universal machine. I cannot change the laws of the world. I cannot change mathematical enigmas. But I can change those around me. Not their physical beings, but their state of mind. Life is but a granule crumb in the shore of the universe. Life has no eternity, but after, we do. Eternity is found by others, and their memories of us. After years our so-called eternity melts away, and we become another stone in a meadow. Our progeny start anew, and we are all but gone. Life is mysterious like this. Everyone wants to leave an eternal mark, but misguided ideals and pursuits lead to an unknown existence. What one sees as eternity, another sees as a moment. It is to him we must recollect, we must be eternal in his eyes.
by Tim Gearty
To be worthy is to finally be eternal.
Warm Bodies, Hard Containers
By Will Nixon
meeting a female friend at the Morristown diner Have you ever cupped a mug of diner coffee in the crook of your hand? Felt its warmth, its ceramic heaviness, meant to be coddled but strong enough to be dropped, tumbled through the wash, filled, rinsed, repeated.
Its tiny handle fits perfectly around my finger, like a wedding band. Married to the caffeine, to the down to earth smell of beans and cream and the hot breath of it. Its saucer is stained and its inside is ringed like a tree, marking the years, the brunches half-finished where it sat cold and solidified into a scar of neglect. But before I can get that satisfactory and saccharine last sip, Honey stops by: “getchanother?” I bring my mug back to rest and she tops it up. But I liked that one quite a lot.
Caper Caper tonight a jar of capers fell on my toe and it really hurt. one a.m., time for a midnight snack, not capers though. they’re nasty sour little peas, as inedible to me as a pea to little me, younger me, despite what my mother told me when suddenly, spectacularly, the jar slipped from the shelf and slammed right into the toe that’s not quite the smallest but big enough to be a target, obviously. one of those toes you can’t really move except with the others and even then you’ve read about breaking bones without even knowing and seeing how your aunt can’t bend her elbow back in the car to yell at her
kids and i yelped in pain. i think i was broken i was already sick from a first-week-of-school cold and all i wanted was some OJ to heal the sniffles and keep me awake for that last bit of Spanish. my mom came down because i called out (not necessarily for her, just out) she seemed upset. disturbed from her sleep she had to “work early the next morning” and “couldnt believe something so small had hurt so much” but maybe i was calling for her. she taped it for me and got some ice. the toe started to bleed a little bit from the cuticle. she sent me back to the couch, viciously saying “it’s a vicious cycle you’re in.” because of course i hadn’t finished my homework yet, and of course i had college applications to do and of course I shouldn’t have spent three hours stress dreaming through Jeopardy and of course i’m going to get it done mom, goodnight. and now i’m remembering chicken piccata. can’t escape the caper stain on my toenail, black and blue and swollen up and now i’m crying vicious, hot, stifled tears under the blanket my face like a sponge exhaling moisture, squeezed so tight the black behind my eyes goes cloudy and now i’m wishing i was lying between cool sheets holding my dad’s hand off the side of the bed as he tells the story of how he shot himself with a bb gun and drifted on an inner tube out to sea and rode horses to broken stone walls and my toe feels hot but my foot feels cold and my dog leaves me alone too and i just wish my mom never ever ever made chicken piccata.
The Glass Fish By Gerard Menna
Two minutes before the sun finished setting, a girl with burning red hair sat alone on a park bench, turning
her treasure over and over in her hands. Four months ago, this girl had been arrested for petty theft, and stayed two months cramped in a jail cell with the rest of society’s rejects. Now, she sat alone in the open air with the prize she had gone to prison for: the glass fish.
The fish itself was mosaic; blue, gold, and red gleamed across its scales, clear eyes that let any passing light
shine in to reveal the fish’s interior. If someone were to stand within the fish (impossible of course), they would never be able to see outside of it. The glass wouldn’t let light out - only in. That’s what made Crina Byrnes desire this fish. She could look at the fish forever, but the fish would refuse to look back at her.
She walked into the store in broad daylight, captivated by the fish’s beauty. Like most people, she would
have paid for it, but unlike most people, she couldn’t afford to. It was forty dollars, but she only had twenty. That twenty had to go toward her next meal, not toward a stupid fish. But that fish… she needed that fish. If she had the money, she might have bought it, but she didn’t. And what is someone to do when they can’t buy something? Well, steal it of course.
She was seventeen at the time. Her mother had been taking care of her for the first seventeen years of her
life. Her mother had kicked her out of the house after she had started failing some of her classes and had been caught smoking. Her mother accused her of not trying, of purposefully failing, among other things. Truth be told, Crina hadn’t tried her hardest, but she certainly didn’t want to fail; it just so happened that she wasn’t putting forth as much effort as she could have. But she definitely didn’t want to fail. Ever. As for the smoking, Crina hadn’t wanted to be a smoker. It just happened. Sometimes things happen naturally, Crina believed, so why blame a person for things out of her control? However, she managed to quit by now.
And right now, here she was, on a park bench as the sun was setting. She placed her fish down next to her,
and as she did, an army of ants began crowding around it. Well, only two small soldiers, but ants nonetheless. Crina flicked one off and squished it into the wood. As she did, a man walked toward her.
He tipped his hat. “Hello there, Ms. Byrnes. Enjoying the evening?” He sat down next to her, both of them
looking in the same direction.“Liking the sunset?”
“Yes, Officer Torrence.” Officer Torrence was the man who had arrested her. He had tried to help her,
though. He didn’t believe that kids could be criminals. Of course, that isn’t necessarily true, but it was true for Crina. Crina wasn’t a criminal, just a kid.
“I see you have the fish.” He looked down at it, and like Crina, rubbed an ant into the bench to stop it from
climbing over. “Can’t let that get ruined, can we?” He smiled at her, and she stared back at him.
Her lips soured up. “Do you ever wonder why we kill bugs?” She looked at him, expecting some sort of
“No.” He looked at her. “Do you?”
“Sometimes.” She crushed another one. “Why do we have the right to kill bugs but not people? What makes
their lives worth less than ours?”
“I guess because we’re smarter.”
“Were you the smartest kid in school, Officer Torrence?” This time, she smiled up at him. But it was a cruel
smile. The smile of a hunter laying her trap.
The deer fell for it, or rather willingly walked into it. “No. I can’t say that I was.”
“Did the smarter kids have a right to kill you?” Her smile sustained.
His face remained impassive. “I would think not.” He smiled back. “But that’s different, isn’t it? We can kill
ants, but we can’t kill people. Or rather,” he glanced toward her, “we shouldn’t.”
“I guess so,” she said. “It’s just how things are.” She picked up her fish and turned closer to him. “You know
about the butterfly effect, right?”
“Little things lead to bigger things. Do you believe it?”
“Of course.” He held out his hand and Crina passed the fish back to him. “Why are you thinking about that?
Ants and butterflies are a bit of a jump.”
“Well, think about it.” She pressed her thumb into another ant. “Each ant we’ve killed, each one had a moth-
er or a father or even a brother or a sister.” He grunted in agreeance. She continued, “And yet we still kill them. We don’t worry about it, or maybe we just don’t care. Why not? What if each ant we killed led to something bigger?”
“If we thought about everything like that then we’d get nothing done.” He smirked. “Better something than
She shrugged. The fish managed to swim its way back to its owner, who placed it on the other side of her
leg, as far from the officer as possible. She turned back to the sun and watched as it finally finished setting. The only light then was from the moon and the streetlights along the sidewalk.
“How are you doing besides all that?”
Crina shrugged again. “Good, I guess. I found a couple friends, one of whom I’m living with now. She’s
nice, I guess.”
“She is.” She looked back at him. “Why are you here?”
“Why are you?”
Crina looked back at where the sun went down. “Sometimes I like to just clear my head, you know. I’m not
always loitering around storefronts looking for something to steal.” She grinned. “Not for a while, at least.”
He didn’t smile back. He wanted to but he knew better. “It’s better that way. You know.”
“Where would I be if I didn’t?”
“How’s your mother?”
“Don’t know. Haven’t really cared to check.”
Crina’s mother didn’t take much pity after hearing that her daughter had been arrested. She was there for
her, of course, like most mothers would be. She hired a lawyer, and because Crina was underage, she had no choice in the matter. If she did, she would have avoided the mess. She didn’t want a lawyer; she knew Crina was guilty and she knew Crina would take the punishment given to her. What defense did she have? She could imagine it now.
“The fish was calling out to me!”
“No, ma’am, it wasn’t.”
“I had to do it. There was no one that said I couldn’t.”
“The law said you couldn’t.”
And that’s really all she could imagine her saying. She wasn’t the brightest, but she sure knew that she wasn’t
dumb enough to come up with a defense for stealing a damn glass fish. If she had just dropped it in the store she could have played it off as an accident, but no. She refused to drop it then and right now, she really wasn’t sure about anything.
“You know, I went camping once when I was six, and I took another girl’s food because I forgot my own.”
She turned the fish over in her hand, trying to find her reflection. “Does that make me a bad person?”
“It’s just, everyone says that you’re such a terrible person if you steal or break a law when you’re older but
they don’t care as much for the little things. Nobody cared that I took some fruit snacks. Well, they didn’t know, so I guess if they did know they would have cared.” She looked over to her priest in uniform. “Would they have cared?”
“Do you care?”
He glanced in her direction but avoided her eyes, instead focusing on the fish. He saw her reflection.
“Yes. But I think it’s trivial. You were six, you didn’t know any better.”
“I guess I knew better at seventeen, then.”
“You did. But that’s in the past.”
She sighed. “For you. Everyday,” her eyes started to mist, “I have a reminder of what I did. It always follows
me and there’s no way to get rid of it.” She lowered her fish back to the bench. “It’s like I’m living with a leech that just keeps sucking me dry.”
“So pull it off.”
“Like it’s that simple.” She looked down at the fish. “That decision changed my life, for the worse and for the
better. How can I get rid of something like that?”
He smiled at her. “Remember what you said. Little things lead to big things. I have to head home.” He
looked up and noticed the invading storm clouds. “You probably should, too. Goodnight, Ms. Byrnes.”
The rain didn’t come. Instead, the clouds loomed over and Crina waited below them. She didn’t know
where to go, really. She could go to her apartment, but that wasn’t really home. She could go home, but she had a feeling she wasn’t welcome there anymore. But she had to go somewhere. It was just a matter of where she was most welcome.
As she walked along the sidewalk, she drew closer and closer to that store —the store that wouldn’t let go
of her. Or maybe it was her that wouldn’t let go of the store. She didn’t really know, nor did she care to find out, at least for now. But she couldn’t fight it. She stopped in front of the window. She looked inside.
Sitting in the storefront window was a replica of her very own fish. She stared blankly at it. All of a sudden,
sirens rang through the air. Crina stopped breathing. She turned around. She didn’t see a patrol car, but she heard it. And it kept getting louder. Louder. Louder. She bolted from the scene.
Crina continued along the sidewalk, running like a deer from a gun. She made a sharp left along the side-
walk and rushed to the house — the house that kicked her out two years ago and refused to let her back in. But this wouldn’t be her first time going against the “right thing to do,” would it? She had no other options.
She knocked on the door. No answer. She knocked again. No answer again. She knocked a third time, and
the door opened. “Well?” Her mother stood there in the doorway, both angry and overjoyed. Her daughter had left her and now came back. Why?
Crina didn’t answer. She wrapped her arms around her mother and without notice, dropped the fish onto
For the Love of Steak The alarm clock buzzed and the lights flickered on as my parents popped out of their bed. “The plane leaves in an hour! Hop into your shower!” said my dad with wild eyes and bedhead. Groggy and sad we stepped out of our pads my three brothers and little old me. In a few hours we’d be in our tower overlooking a crystal blue sea. Unbeknownst to us all the driver had called he’d been waiting outside for a year. We grappled our bags and shed our slow lags as the driver shifted into 4th gear. He loaded our baggage up into his truck and we crammed all in the back seat. We were off in a huff, no time to be gruff while we tore down the Morristown street. At last the airport came into view with its smoke and blustery bustle. We checked in out front and were off on the hunt
for security, no short of a hustle. We got through and approached our marvelous gate when a small sound arose from the back. My older brother Tommy had piped up a howl and had stopped dead right in his tracks. To his left was Steak Escape, the nirvana for boys, but ahead was our flight being boarded. He insisted we stop and enter the shop for some old-fashioned steaks that we hoarded. The last few were loading up into the plane but us boys would not budge past the store. My father was losing his hair by the minute and my mother made a run for the door. But do you know what happened that fateful June day when us boys had stood up to our parents? Well the plane went to Cali and transferred to Bengali but we sat at the gate with our steaks.
By Aidan McLaughlin