Page 1

“No story is ever done.” - John Steinbeck

Veritas Veritas Volume 15 2010-2011

“May God keep us from single vision.”


“A Gnarled Tree” by Mallory McDonald ’12

Veritas

2010 – 2011 Pulaski Academy’s Literary Journal

Senior Editors: Robyn Barrow Audrey Dunn Ayana Gray

Sponsors:

Mrs. Megan Abbott Mrs. Ginger Kidd

Editors:

Laura Adametz Laura Edmondson Lauren Jackson Mallory McDonald Sky Shaver Nick Shields Emily Schienvar Emily Watkins

Cover Art: “Love Myself for Who I Am” by Samantha McDonald ’11


Table of Contents Title

Author

In a Seashell by the Sea Journey A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man Coloring Life Malkia Ya Simba Kuwinda Africa Bleeds “I Love You” Fortune Cookie A Day in the Life of Alecia Castleberry Blue and Gold Night “Pain, Pain Go Away…” Sun Good Day #6578 “Skip a Beat…” Rainy Day A Day in the Life of Jon Thomas Brown The Flexibility of Literature A Rising Star A Night in the Life of a Writer… Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder A Day in the Life of Shadow the Dog Puppy In Which the Dragon is Not Slayed… The Gold Miner White Christmas Virginia The Mushroom Kingdom Cortex Moving Along A Day in the Life of Dr. Seuss Miss Biggie

2

Conni Kuo Rachel Zhang Michelle Ko Sarah Bingham Ayana Gray Ayana Gray Beckie Prince Ali Hopkins Lauren Jackson Mary Kate Powers Lauren Jackson Kara Billingsley Olivia Woodward Conni Kuo Blanche Ajarrista TC Zhang Blake Murchison Robyn Barrow Eric Zheng Grace Alger Geenah Krisht Ali Hopkins Lauren Jackson Conni Kuo Mark Henry Lauren Jackson Lauren Jackson Jon Brown Grace Alger Sarah Bingham Robyn Barrow Geenah Krisht Buddy Blasier

Page 4 5 6 7 9 10 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 21 23 24 26 28 32 33 35 36 37 39 40 43 44 46 50 51 53 54


The Turn of the Magi The Window Situation The Mystical Tale of Wumbo & Mumbo The Old Man and the Sea Santa Monica A Perfect Day… Identification Skyscrapers Daisies in May These Lovely Cadavers Lacrymosa The Full Life and Times of Atlas… Relations Whisper of Words Anthropologie Onions A Fat Cat Cold Shoulder I Didn’t Have the Time to Tie Them Nervous Wreck Untitled Poem Soleil Nate the Snake Rays Title An Abnormal Dinner Party Masked in Blue Unknown Veterans Day A Day in the Life of Blanche Ajarrista The Homecoming of a Vagabond Free as a Weed Letter from the Senior Editors

Eric Zheng Chris Hart Celeste Gibson Ubaid Murad Jon Brown Lauren Jackson Ayana Gray Celeste Gibson Beckie Prince Olivia Woodward Wells Thompson Shamsie Malek Chase Pierce Celeste Gibson Kylie Chandler Lauren Jackson Eric Zheng Audrey Dunn Jason Guo Audoin Ajarrista Mary Kate Powers Kylie Chandler Lauren Jackson Wells Thompson Lauren Jackson Michelle Ko Ali Hopkins Mary Alfani Audrey Dunn Lauren Jackson Audrey Dunn Robyn Barrow Lauren Jackson

3

55 58 59 60 65 65 66 67 69 69 70 72 73 75 76 77 78 86 88 92 93 95 95 96 101 102 104 107 108 109 110 113 115 116


In a Seashell by the Sea Conni Kuo ’11

How very dreary and cold The weather is, and how very weary and old The man in, and what should he find In a corner of his mind But a distant memory, Of the sun and sea. Look, what’s that in the sand? Reach out with your hand. Why, what a beautiful shell; See what story it has to tell. Go on, pick up, oh, what’s this? Something seems to be amiss. For there inside the shell with arms hugging her knees And hair waving in the breeze, Is a girl curled up tight. A most unusual sight. There’s the tiniest sound; she yawns. She opens her eyes; there’s sea foam and bronze. Are you the Ocean? you ask. A reply seems too momentous a task; She tilts her head and does not answer. When you hold her up, the wings on her back stir; One wing is crooked you see, Crumpled but retaining its beauty. May I call you Ocean? She nods her head And gives you a grin, teeth the color of lead. She stands up suddenly, tugging on your hair And gestures to something way over there. What is that now, flying over? Tiny figures of cerise, turquoise, and ochre. Why, they are her family they are, Probably wondering why she’s strayed so far. They’ve come to carry her away, And she waves goodbye as they go on their way.

4


Journey

Rachel Zhang ’11 5


A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man Michelle Ko ’11

Lunch is my favorite time of the day just because I get to sit next to Jenni. She has the biggest, bluest eyes, and she always has two small, blonde pigtails on both sides of her head tied neatly with her Barbie hair-ties. She has the prettiest smile of all the girls at my school, even though she just lost her two front teeth a couple days ago. It’s still really pretty and I just love it when she smiles when I talk to her. I found out yesterday that her favorite animal is a dog, just like mine! It is the fourth time I am sitting next to Jenni for lunch today, and I can’t stop looking at her pretty smile. If I could eat lunch with her everyday for the rest of my life, I think I would be the happiest person ever. I know, I’ll ask her to marry me so we can live together. “Jenni, I like you a lot. You have a really pretty smile, and I love eating lunch with you. So will you marr—” I wake up to the sound of Nana’s loud snoring. Not again. Nana always starts sleeping when I take my naps, and she always snores! I stay lying on my bed, unable to believe that lunch with Jenni was just a dream. I was so close to proposing to Jenni, too… I wonder if she would have said, “Yes.” I saw a video of daddy proposing to mommy when they were younger, and mommy started crying when my dad asked her to marry him. Would Jenni have cried? I don’t want to see her cry. I would rather see her smile her pretty smile. If she smiles, I’ll know she likes me and wants to marry me too. Oh man, I can’t just let Nana ruin my dream like that. I have to marry Jenni. Not just in my dream, but in real life. I walk around the house, trying to think of ways I can propose. I stop in the living room, and I see a large, clean white canvas, and it gives me an idea. I got a box of crayons for Christmas last year, and it has fifty different colors that I can use. I love drawing pictures of different things, and mommy likes my pictures every time I bring them from school. She says I’m a good artist. So I’m going to draw a big picture for Jenni and show it to her when she comes over to my house. I’ll use all my different colors, and it will be the best picture I have ever drawn. Jenni is going to love my picture so much that she won’t want to marry anyone else but me. I can still hear Nana snoring away in her sleep. I run to my room, search through my art box, and grab my box of crayons. I come back to the living room and seat myself in front of the canvas, looking at its emptiness and need for some color. I picture the scene in my head: the house is pink because it is Jenni’s favorite color, and we have blue picnic tables in our big, green backyard. Jenni and me are eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on the tables, while our five dogs are running around us, playing with each other. I pick up the pink crayon and start drawing the house. I draw long, straight and slanted lines for the big, pink house, and color in the square-shaped building. I grab the green crayon and move it in zig-zag shapes to draw the grass of the backyard. For the blue picnic tables, I draw some more squares and lines,

6


Coloring Life

Sarah Bingham ’13

7


and I draw me and Jenni sitting on the tables. Jenni is smiling her pretty smile with her sandwich in her hands while I’m sitting across from her, admiring her beauty. Our dogs are around the picnic table, all different colors—red, yellow, brown, purple, and black. I’ll let Jenni name them when she sees my drawing. I’m about to be totally finished with my drawing when I hear the front door open. “Johnny, mommy’s home!” I greet her with a hug. “Mommy, mommy. I drew a big picture today for Jenni. Come see it!” “Aw, you did? How sweet of you. Yes, let me see what my little artist drew this time!” “Okay, but you have to close your eyes! Don’t open them! Pinky promise that you won’t open your eyes!” I grab my mom’s hand and start dragging her towards the living room. I watch my mom and make sure she doesn’t try to peek. When we arrive in front of the canvas, I tell my mom to open her eyes. She removes her hand that had been covering her face and looks at the drawing. Her facial expression suddenly changes to a surprised look and her jaw drops. Success! My drawing is so good that my mom is speechless. I have never seen her make that face before. I guess this was the best drawing I have ever shown her. If my mom likes it this much, Jenni will love it, and she’ll definitely want to marry me. I’m so excited to show her! “Johnny… I thought I told you that you are not allowed to draw on the wall!”

“Of all of the animals, the boy is the most unmanageable.” -Plato 8


Malkia

Ayana Gray ’11

9


Ya Simba Kuwinda Ayana Gray ’11 My mother had been named Zuri, beautiful, for her blue eyes. No one knew where they came from, but they’d glittered a sparkling sapphire blue like no other in our village. I thought of her eyes as I saw the necklace in the baya mwizi’s hands. “She called it her penha, her beloved,” my baba had breathed its name lightly as he’d given it to me years ago. “It was your mama’s, and almost as beautiful. It’s yours now, Winda.” I cradled the string of sapphires gently in my hands. My baba smiled. “Only the malkia, the queen may wear it; you must keep it safe until you are queen.” I remembered the now distant words and felt my blood begin to boil. “What are you doing?” The ugly girl said nothing, only shivered. The necklace swung loosely from her mud- caked fingers, I hissed . “Don’t you ever touch my necklace!” I slapped her across the face. She said nothing . I screamed. “It is for the malkia, the queen, and you will never be queen, baya mwizi. Get out!” She meekly set the necklace down on my bed and turned to leave. I suddenly grabbed her arm and twisted it. “And if you ever touch my mama’s necklace again, I’ll kill you.” + + + The elders knew him as Enzi, the powerful chief, but he’d always been “Baba” to me. He smiled gently as I drew nearer to him. “How was your day Little Hunter?” “Good.” “What did you do?” I was solemn. “I protected Mama’s honor today, from the thief’s daughter, baya mwizi.” He looked at me, suddenly stern. “What happened?” “The baya mwizi tried to steal mama’s necklace. I caught her.” He looked at me sternly. “I don’t ever want to hear you call her that again, Winda. Her name is Kesi.” ““But she is an ugly girl and a thief. She was trying to steal mama’s necklace, Baba!” I said again bitingly. “That’s enough, Winda.” He shook his head slowly. He looked away from me, and in his eyes flashed something dark. It was times like that when he really scared me; the times he said nothing a t all. When he looked back a t me again, he was calm. “What did you say to Kesi when you caught her?” “I told her if she did it again, I would kill her.” He looked a t me, surprised. “Why would you ever say something like that?” “Because it’s true.” He looked at me again carefully for a moment before he spoke again. “Come with me,” He said, “There’s something I want to show you.”

10


The sun bled blue in to the sky as dusk became nigh tfall. Baba walked ahead of me, his cur ly black mane swing ing wildly down his brown back. He hummed my mama’s old lullabies lowly; I hummed right along. “Our tribe, the Waswahilis, is a strong people. They will need you to be their malkia. Someday, when you are, you will come to this place to battle simba, to kill your first lion. Then, you will not be Winda anymore; you will be Thimba, ‘Lion Hunter.’ Follow me.” We walked a bit longer before, without warning, he put his arm out, suddenly still. “Be quiet,” he murmured lightly turning. I followed only his gaz e, motionless, until I saw it and nearly screamed. It was a lion, magnificent and awful, only feet from us. His mane, reddened gold, blazed like fire around his face, and steely black claws ripped at the ground beneath him as he sauntered. “He is blind ,” Baba whisper ed, and indeed , it seemed t o move with a slow deliberate grace. He looked back at me. “Should I kill it?” I looked at the lion, and suddenly, though blind, it seemed t o look right back at me. Its great eyes were golden-brown and terrible, light and powerful in the growing darkness; it was as if I was looking into the sun. “Yes,” I said quickly. “Why?” “It’s a lion!” I said crossly. “He is old,” My baba mused, “And walking away from us. He won’t hurt us.” It was true; even in the time we’d stopped to speak, it’d nearly passed us. “If you don’t kill it, it will one day kill a villager,” I stammered. “You should kill it now.” Baba looked a t me car efully then st outly nodded. Without another w ord, he lifted the spear he’d been carrying and, with a graceful sweep of his arm, threw it into the lion’s side. The lion did not r oar. It merely fell into crumpled silence and moved no more. We stood for only a moment before my baba handed me the knife. “Take out its moyo.” I looked at him, puzzled. We could use the hide, claws, even teeth, but rarely did our tribe use lion hearts. He was suddenly stern. “Take out its heart, Winda.” I moved slowly to where the lion lay. Its golden-brown eyes closed forever peacefully, it could’ve been sleeping but for the jagged tear in its hide. I did it quickly and handed the bloody mess t o my baba. I’d imagined it still thumping. He held it delicately and studied it. “He was strong,” Baba said a bit sadly, “a warrior in this land once.” He nodded. “Alright, put it back.” He handed it to me again. Repulsed, I stared at him and, realizing he was serious, quickly pushed the heart back. I turned to walk away. “Winda,” my baba said , “you’ve forgotten to put back its hear tbeat.” I stared at him in horror. “I-I can’t do that, Baba.” “Can’t do what?”

11


“Start its heart again.” “Why not?” I felt my eyes suddenly begin to water, afraid. “I-I…don’t know.” He smiled sadly. “Because it’s dead.” He nodded. He retrieved the great lion and held it o ver his shoulders , one w arrior carrying another. “You could not start its heartbeat again because it was dead, Little Hunter. There are some things you simply cannot r eturn. A maisha, a life, is one of them. Think about that the next time you swear to take someone else’s.” He didn’t say another word to me as we walked home. He didn’t have to. + + + My eyes were clear in the dar kness of my hut that night. Somehow, I knew she would come. When I heard the familiar rattle of my mama’s necklace being moved, I reached beside me f or my knife instinctively. The sapphires of my mama’s beloved necklace, radiant and ever-glittering, were wrapped around Kesi’s clumsy mud-caked fingers again and quivered with her en tire body. Her eyes were wide with terror, but she said nothing; neither did I. Basi kwenda. I thought quietly. Let go. The necklace suddenly dropped to the floor. Later, I would notice my knife had too. We remained motionless for a moment before I nodded; to my surprise, she did too. She turned and fled into the night. I fell back into my bed. Nothing had passed between us, but her eyes, golden-brown, had looked familiar.

Africa Bleeds

Beckie Prince ’11

12


“I Love You”

Ali Hopkins ’11

“I love you.” Everyone waits to hear those three little words. The utterance of a few simple, monosyllabic sounds can become a phrase that represents so much, a phrase that can change one’s life. Traditionally, the sentence epitomizes the most sought-after emotion: love. As the ultimate connection between two people, love encompasses feelings much larger and more obscure than other emotions even begin to describe. Love is perfectly atypical: it relies on the sensation of exceptionality in its ability to bind the souls of two people, or at least to recognize the already present commonality between the souls. In a world where billions of molecules of DNA and genes determine even the most minute of differences in billions of people, the unity of love is astounding. Against great odds, love joins together two separate people. It creates a sole path in life, one search for the future, out of two distinct entities. Love can do what mathematics and physics can never achieve: it can make two equal one. When one says, “I love you,” it can mean everything that love is supposed to mean. “I love you” is a way to recognize the sensation of extraordinariness that accompanies finding one’s true love in life. It is the most intense kind of trust that exists, for fully meaning the words “I love you” is giving oneself over completely to another person, giving over one’s soul and figurative heart and entrusting that person to protect them. However, “I love you” doesn’t need to be said by two people in love to express the most powerful feeling in the world. A devoted parent exhibits the same immensely strong love for his child, and the same three words communicate this love. An “I love you” between best friends articulates an equivalent bond and compassion. Or the phrase could simply represent the caring relationship between a girl and her dog. But “I love you” is no longer only restricted to conveying its true meaning. The world, filled with an overwhelming desire for instant gratification, refuses to wait to speak the words when they are truly meant and instead wastes them. The meaning of “I love you” has been watered down; now it is stated between new acquaintances to gain social approval, whined to parents to eliminate impending punishment, or scrawled on notes to week-old crushes with a heart atop the “i.” And with the loss in value of the words, people do not hesitate before they say them but use them as easily as they would ask for a piece of paper or a glass of water. In fact, “I love you” has even become a response akin to “thank you” in exchange for receiving such goods, just as it has become a commendation for a joke or an expression of admiration for a celebrity not personally known. The dissolution of marriage, too, is reflected by the lack of emotion behind what should naturally be the most emotion-filled statement. Couples rush the phrase, and marriage itself, and their underdeveloped relationships cannot thrive but flounder under pressure.

13


“I love you” is more than saying, “I think I may care for you, and at some point, my feelings may become strong enough to the point at which I will devote myself wholly to you.” With “I love you,” there should be no uncertainty and no indecision. Many quote The Bible in saying “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude,” (1 Corinthians 13:4). But love is also headstrong and definitive, determined and final, and speaking the words “I love you” should be reflective of the emotion it names. Ultimately, admitting to someone “I love you” is the most selfless act there is. When one says, “I love you,” it is essentially the same as saying “I gave myself an ultimatum. Given the choice between you and me, I choose you.” Three words, three syllables, eight letters, one meaning. Simply put, “I love you” is anything but simple.

Fortune Cookie

Lauren Jackson ’13

14


A Day in the Life of Alecia Castleberry Mary Kate Powers ’11

4:15 AM- Come on, Alecia, you can do it. The coffee maker is calling your name as we speak! Ugh. I just need to roll out of bed and jam my feet into the black slippers on the floor next to my bed. Thank God the kids will be asleep for another three hours. I have time to meditate before another day of pure chaos. I must desperately make my way to the kitchen, whip open some cabinets until I have what I need, and finally have the coffee on its way. Uh oh...I sure hope Woody was able to finish that project last night...if not, GROUNDED! Are those footsteps that I hear coming down the hall? “Mom, where did my glasses go? I can’t find them anywhere!” “Go back to bed, Alex, you don’t need them yet.” Off he goes, back to his room and back to sleep, the lucky little thing. 7:30 AM- Time to post up in the parking lot. “Slow down, Geenah!!! My goodness, you’re not late yet!” “Sorry, I forgot to clean up the parking lot yesterday! I thought if I got here early enough today, I could make sure it was clean before class! Oh, and I have to print my thesis! Gotta go!” “Yeah, you better get with it. It’s 7:45 now. You have thirty minutes to get to class. Oh, good morning, Mr. Johnson! I was just making sure everyone is going approximately five miles per hour in the parking lot. Kids these days...” “I know what you mean, Mrs. Castleberry. I mean, I really do want those seniors to have a fun year, but they really have to learn how to use the parking lot without causing a disruption. That senior prank they pulled was completely out of hand.” “It won’t happen again, Mr. Johnson. Rest assured!” 9:50 AM- Time for...what was it again? Oh, micro...more coffee first! After pouring my eleventh cup of the day, it’s time burst through the doors to find...a zoo in front of me. “I suggest you get your books out and study for ten minutes because we have a pop quiz today!” I wonder where Austin is today. Still sleeping or just not coming? Oh, here he is. “You’re late. Again. And you have a quiz to study f-” (Austin interrupts) “Don’t care. Not studying.” “Great! You can go ahead and start then. Here’s the quiz.” Could Mary Kate and Nathan stop poking and touching each other for one second? “Nathan! Mary Kate! Enough!” “Mrs. Cass, we weren’t even doing anything!” Nathan defends himself as usual. Sigh...I’ll just head back to my desk and look over my class as they study and as Austin sits back in his seat staring at his quiz. “Chase, quit talking to Jake and Buddy. They’re trying to study.” “Are you serious, Mrs. Cass? Do you not think I’m studying too?” “SHUT YOUR MOUTH, CHASE! YOUR VOICE IS JUST TOO LOUD TODAY.” 12:30 PM- Class just let out. Time for the daily x-period and lunch uprising. I shall head back out to the parking lot to manage the off-campus goers. “FASAL! THERE YOU ARE! NO, COME BACK HERE RIGHT THIS SECOND! You had d-hall yesterday. Did you know that? Or do the rules not apply to you?” “Uh, well, uh, no, I had a dentist appointment yesterday. It’s ok Ms. Cass, just let it go.” “Ok, I’ll let it go, but you have double time starting tomorrow. Do

15


not walk away from me, Fasal! I’ll be expecting you in the morning! EVERYONE MOVE BACK! Someone is trying to drive by! MOVE BACK, GIRLS! KEEP MOVING!” 3:00 PM- Finally, school is out. One more thing: tardy d-hall. Today’s list...Ian McM-oh goodness. That’s enough for me. “Greetings, Mrs. Castleberry. My, do you look ravishing today! Like an innocent flower being gently blown by a savannah breeze in the springtime. May I take you out tonight on a pleasant excursion through the town?” “Thanks, but no thanks, Ian. Take a seat, you have thirty minutes today.” “But Mrs. Cass! I personally think that the concept of tardy d-hall is utter blasphemy! I have a plethora of things that I must tend to the eve!” “Oh really, like what?” “I must sharpen my spear and catch my dinner like a true eagle scout! I must fertilize my precious garden of the rarest and finest petunias! I must defend the orphans and befriend him who has no friend!” “Yeah, ok. First you have tardy d-hall.” Time to sit in my desk and start shuffling through all the papers I have to deal with. Hmm...I’ll just place my head in my hands and shut my eyes for a quick one minute nap. Just thirty more minutes, Alecia. You can make it. Come on, push through! Only... thirty...minutes............................................OH NO! I must have drifted off. My watch says 3:25. The rest of the room is totally empty. Ian is gone. Great, I’ve lost him again.

Blue and Gold Night Lauren Jackson ’13 16


“Pain, Pain, Go Away...” Kara Billingsley ’11 There is a man who lives inside my head. Call me crazy, but I want him dead. He drifts into slumbers, lasting many a day, providing peace and serenity in the place where he lay. Tossing and turning through sunshine and rain, the little man sleeps next to the warmth of my brain. Do not be fooled by all that is said, because a fair weather friend is the man in my head. For when he sleeps he is friendly as can be, but when he awakens he exhibits tyranny. I love the days when he dreams sullen dreams, but I hate the days when he screams frightening screams. Sadly, I was born with the headache gene, which includes a little man who is painfully mean. The little man thrives in mistakes that I make, for once they are done, he may awake. If sunlight peers through my eyes far too long, he wakes up blinded and singing a song. The song he sings I loathe to hear because it brings the darkest of all my tears. A different melody from time to time, he never repeats the same tune or rhyme. His favorite instrument is the beating of drums, he pounds with his fists until swelling overcomes. After throbbing in pain from the beat of his drums, the little man smiles, and I nearly succumb. When the little man yells and screams in laughter, I chill him with an ice pack very soon after. Whenever he hums a lulling tune, I rub my temples and pray it ends soon. I hate the man who lives in my head, and my deepest desire is to kill him dead! He sings for hours, sometimes days, but when I numb him, he hits the hay. Yes, indeed, you heard me right; I pop the pills and win the fight. Some would consider this a terrible fright, but I enjoy sleeping soundly all through the night. I also enjoy my daily activities, so why not indulge in some mind settling remedies? So I use my weapon, the tiny white pills, and he stands unarmed, praying I don’t get refills. Sadly, cheaters never win, so I embrace my life until he wakes up again. If I wear a headband for far too long, he wakes up immediately knowing something is wrong. As a consequence for my tiny mistake, he claws in my brain with the prongs of a rake. If I read for an extended amount of time, he will blur my vision like I’m drunk off red wine. He pulls my nerves until my eyes get sore, because he loves competing in tug-of-war. If I lack in sleep by the fewest of hours, he signals a series of thunder showers. He strikes with pain, so sharp and severe; I pray for relief and quake with fear. His mighty blow spins my head into a whirlwind; he detaches my body and numbs every limb. The only sensation and bodily woe is the tingling of every finger and toe. After hours and sometimes days of excruciating pain, the little man has no more power to gain. His crazy excursions have long expired, and oh how I wish the man would retire! I turn out the lights and tuck him in bed, without a care in the world if he’s been watered or fed. As he snores himself back into an indefinite hibernation, my head experiences a much needed reju-

17


venation. I have never believed in wishful thinking, so I am always prepared to hear the little man singing. For I know the little man may never die, so I always anticipate a tearful cry.

Sun

Olivia Woodward ’11

18


Good Day #6578 Conni Kuo ’11

The sound of the alarm clock was muffled as the clock disappeared down the throat of a Burmese Python. The snake coiled the length of its body around a pile of debris on the floor and began to feast. Shortly after it had consumed everything, a shouted message made its way through the partially open door, rousing the human occupant of the room. Upon sitting up and glimpsing the glowing numbers of the clock through the snake’s skin, the girl screeched and flew into the bathroom. Some minutes later, after the snake had coughed up various textbooks and notebooks and the car was discovered to be missing and therefore unusable, the girl was sprinting through a rain of cats and dogs. The cats yowled and spat at her while the dogs barked and chased after her. Before too long however, the rain lessened so it was only raining kittens and puppies. The girl soon arrived at a building with letters on the façade that spelled Getting High School. Up a spiraling staircase she climbed to reach a room with a plaque by the door that read Calculus YZ. After she apologized for her lack of punctuality, the teacher gave her a sheaf of stapled papers and motioned for her to sit and be quiet. She did so and rubbed absent-mindedly at a bleeding dog bite while she stared down at the first page. For the answer to the limit of a function as x approaches 66, she put pi. She put pi for every problem on the test. The teacher in the next classroom had a grin similar to that of the Cheshire Cat’s as he announced a pop quiz. The girl wrote her name down on the paper and after staring at the questions for a bit, proceeded to doodlepeace signs and three-headed llamas round the edges until the teacher announced that time was up. He kicked the leg of her desk when she started snoring during the part of his lecture on chemical compounds. She fell out of her chair and broke all the nails on one hand. Class ended, and she was feeding the dust bunnies in her locker when the boy next to her asked to see her essay on the goodness of brownies for English class to compare to his. She confessed that she had forgotten about the essay, and he suggested she write it if she had a free period, which she conceded was an excellent idea. She made a mad dash for the stairs but someone stepped on the back of her shoe, causing her to tumbledown the rest of the steps. The shoe was swept away by the sea of people, but she did not try for very long to find it before hurrying into the computer lab. Just as she finished typing up the assignment and clicked the print button, a ceiling tile smashed the computer she was working at. It made a faint noise and imploded. All the other computers followed suit. When she explained her plight to the English instructor, he said he would not accept excuses and showed her the negative thirty-eight he had written in his grade book. Afterwards in art class, her teacher informed her of

19


the slightly higher grade of zero that he awarded her latest painting for not adhering to the rule of using at least one color for the project. The girl clarified that she had chosen the colors black and white, and the rainbow in the background had been purposely done in grayscale. Negotiations for a passing grade were not successful. At lunch time, the girl rifled through her bag and pockets multiple times before going to sit down at a table. Her friends asked why she wasn’t eating, and she responded that her pet snake had forgotten to cough up her allowance. She refused the first few offers to share food but eventually accepted a bottle of lemonade with a thank you. Later in her unexplained sciences course, the professor passed back the students’ exams. A large F adorned each page of the girl’s test. For the question of how gravity came about, she had gone in depth about electricity and wires. The professor had written underneath in red ink that the correct answer was the wizard did it. The dismissal bell rang and the girl joined the crowd of people heading outside. As she stuck a foot out the front doors, someone seized her by the scruff of the neck and dragged her into a dimly lit classroom. There were quite a few other students sitting at long tables, bent over their work. The word detention was written in large block letters on the board at the front of the room. Listed underneath were the bullet points: tardy to first period, tardy to second period, flushing the class pet down the toilet, tardy to lunch, breaking a teacher’s nose, keeping a liger on the roof, and other stupid stuff. The principal dropped a large dictionary in front of her and set instructions to copy the definitions for all words beginning with I, H, A, T, E, K, D, and S. The very second that eight o’clock rolled around, the principal unlocked the door and all of a sudden the room was nearly devoid of living organisms. The girl picked herself up off the floor, dusting herself off as she did. There was a shoe print on the back of her shirt. Out in the hallways, the lights were not on, and she made several human-shaped dents in the lockers as a result before tripping over a shoe. In celebration of the return of her lost shoe, she put it back on. On the sidewalk, she slipped in a puddle of excess droolfrom the dogs still raining down. When she reached her house, a man opened the door for her and aided her in shooing away and detaching several felines and canines. “How was your day?” her father asked, unhooking the claws of a particularly tenacious tabby from her hair. The girl smiled. “Good,” she replied.

20


“Skip a Beat...” Blanche Ajarrista ’11 “Skip a beat, take a leap, never cheat, don’t be cheap.” Dear everyone, Don’t be sad, I beg of you all. I have never been happier in my entire life. I have discovered the meaning of forgiveness, of love, of life. I discovered the answer to the question: what is life. I have spent my entire life figuring it out. It takes most wise men several lifetimes and reincarnations. It only took me eighteen years. I have never stopped thinking since I was born. I remember everything, from beginning to end, from the first breath to my last. I remember my own mother cradling me on her breast as I opened my eyes for the first time. People who know me best knew that I was special. I never was like any of you, never like anyone else. I never looked like any of you, I never thought like you, yet I was born from a mother, created from a father, and you should have accepted me as one of yours; a human being. I now understand that it is only human nature to look upon anything too different as inhuman. Some say I was too smart, others say that I was an error of nature, and many explained my behavior as autism. I cannot explain it, for I was simply born that way. People who loved me no matter what will understand when I say this: “Skip a beat, take a leap, never cheat, don’t be cheap.” Let your heart lead your path: let it take you away, let it skip a beat. Take a leap of faith: if there is nothing to believe in, then where will you go? What will you do? Do not cheat: if you cheat someone, you are committing a crime; you have taken someone’s trust, the most special gift a human can give, and you have destroyed it. And finally do not be cheap with Life: it is meant to be lived. Do not hesitate to live, use every second of it, and enjoy it while it lasts. Death is only a step onto something greater. As I pass away, I will smile to whatever comes. Live on for me, be free for me, breathe in for me. Love Always, Eve “Skip a beat, take a leap, never cheat, don’t be cheap.” Eve was driving along a winding road in the middle of the woods. Above the trees the sky was pink and blue. She was driving too fast and she knew it. She was driving too fast, but she loved it. Her heart was pounding in her chest, and she could feel the rush of blood in her throat. The butterflies in her stomach formed from adrenaline or fear, either one, she didn’t care; she did not have time to figure it out. Her windows were wide open in the hot evening, and the wind dried the sweat on her forehead. Eve’s speed was increasing, her foot on the gas pedal, and she could barely see the trees flying past her in a blur. She watched the yellow line in the middle of the road that never seemed to end and she took the turns dangerously. She didn’t care, the excitement of danger only accentuating the gripping feeling in her stomach. “I’m free,” she thought. Eve took the next turn too fast, and her car flew up in the air, flipped

21


several times and crashed against the trees with a deafening noise that scared the forest animals. It was quick, simple, effortless. She was gone in seconds. “Skip a beat, take a leap, never cheat, don’t be cheap.” “What a fool, what a selfish fool that girl was!” “Don’t be harsh, Adam, she was just different.” “You can speak for yourself, you weren’t the one who was in love with her.” “Don’t be mad, you knew it would happen all along. You were ready for it.” “I have a right to be mad, no? I always thought I could change her, the stupid fool!” “You’re the fool, Adam, you had no right to get attached. You could never change her, nor did she want to change. She knew her time would come and that she would die no matter what. She was never yours; she was born to die young. She never was a part of this world. “Yet, she should have tried! She never tried!” “She was only going to suffer more, and nothing could have stopped her. She wanted to die, and so she did. Don’t be sad, she is much happier now.” “She didn’t mention me…” “Don’t cry; you know she loved you. In her own way.” “Did you know that when they found her body it was intact? She apparently was projected out of the car and she broke her neck. She was still smiling.” “She never stopped smiling, Adam, and never will.”

“Skip a beat, take a leap, never cheat, don’t be cheap.”

22


Rainy Day TC Zhang ’12

23


Day In the Life of Jon Thomas Brown Blake Murchison ’11

6:30 a.m. Alarm goes off. Good morning to you, good morning to you. Hello world. It’s Friday. Futon, you’re so amazingly warm and comfortable, but it’s time for school. Let’s look in my closet. Inside out shirt, check. Shorts, check. It’s only a high of forty, I’ll be fine. What colorful shoes should I wear from Savers? Which reminds me, I need to see if bus buddy, Wells, and Blake want to go after school. I’ll go with the gold trimmed Nike shoes. Oh dang, it is 7:30. Time for school, but I haven’t had breakfast yet. I’ll just grab a box of cereal and head out. 7:35 a.m. Walks out front door and beeps car. Gooood morning, Francesca! How are you my love? I did dearly miss you when you were in the shop this week. We will go on adventures with bus buddy tonight and have some bonding time. You know what, I’m going to grab some BK real quick before school. The cereal can wait. Put on the Beats and time for school. 7:50 a.m. Gets out of car and walks towards hallways. Morning, Mrs. Cass! You look beautiful in that dress today. “Thank you Jon.” I wonder if all of my wonderful friends are sitting in the hallway. Hi Kerri! How are you this morning? Ah! Brown Bear and Lexi. How are y’all? It’s Friday and its great, ha. Morning Ayana and Robyn. 2 minute bell rings. Great, time for class. AAHHH!!!..... I forgot my meds at home... Oh well, this will just make the day more interesting. Mr. Johnson! Come here, sir. I think you need a hug. Come on, don’t deny it. There ya go. Just hug it out. “Haha. Mr. Brown, I think it’s time for class.” 11:00 a.m. Tapping of fingers. “Jon, do you mind not repetitively tapping your fingers in a spastic randomized motion?” Sorry Eric. I’m just ready for class to be over, and no, Blake, I did not take my meds. Where are you and Madison eating? You always want Mexican or Chickfila. How about McAllistars? Sweet, dude. And yeah, we can do Sonic after school. Akshay, you doing your thing? Oh! I forgot knuckle for luck before this test. Blake, Eric, Akshay, knuckle for luck. Portia, Saad, Jordan, Fasal, Knuckle for luck. Mrs. Steadman, knuckle for luck.. Bell rings. Lunch time. Bye, Mrs. Steadman. Have a fantastic weekend. 12:30 p.m. Running up senior lot hill. Bus buddy...Bus buddy... SAM! Where are you going? You’re driving Olivia? Fine. OY! Where are you eating? Ok then, I’ll drive. Blake B., Jonathan, and climb in the car... How did we end up at Chickfila?! Whatever. I’ll get to see my favorite manager. RODGER!!!! Come here. Some one needs a hug for the day. And where is the lovely wife? Goes to cashier. “Hello sir, how are you? May I take your order?” I am fantastic, (insert Chickfila worker’s name here), now that I have seen your beautiful face. You have just made my day. 30 minutes later. Crap! It’s 1:36 and I have Thesis last with bus buddy and Topich. Score. Let’s go guys. 2:55 p.m. “My I have your attention for the announcements, please?” Of course you can, Mrs. Sachar. “Brown shut up.” Ok, she is done. Let’s go! Heads up to benches. Hello everybody! Blake, you still want to go to Sonic and

24


Savers? Sweet, dude. Did everyone have a great.. MRS. CASS!!! MRS. CASS!!! YOU’RE AMAZING! HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND! Blows up imaginary heart balloon with hands. Bye everybody, time for Sonic. 3:30 p.m. Yes, can I have a grilled cheese, a footlong cheese coney without the chili, a large tot, and a route 44 sprite? People in the background scream “with some chocolate.” “Sooo do you want the chocolate?” Hahaha, no no. No chocolate, although that does sound good. “Well it was my pleasure serving you” Oh no, it was my pleasure. I forgot! There is one more thing. Can I have a bag of ice? So what is everyone doing tonight? Blake, you have a basketball game. Sean, Sam, what are y’all doing? Cool. We can try and hang later. I have some thesis to do. Got to love assisted suicide. Hey, lets go to Savers now. I wonder if they will have any good shoes today?

“Life without you is like an unsharpened pencil, pointless.” -Jon Brown 25


The Flexibility of Literature Robyn Barrow ’11

Never judge a book by its cover: It is a saying heard everyday by millions worldwide. Yet it is a particularly apt saying for the hardback. Tall, stiff, thick-skinned, and pretentious, hardback books are a basic paradox: can I truly expect a book to open my mind if I can barely open the cover without hearing a discouraging creak of the new, inflexible binding? In fact, everything about the hardback book is discouraging: their very price tags seem to glare down at the prospective owners from their high shelves, their glossy covers looking down speculatively and summing buyers up with money-sign eyes. When studying a stiffly-bound textbook, I hesitate with my highlighter. Move it a few inches closer… then stop. I stare hopelessly down at the glossy pages. There before me is a fact that I must remember, but to tarnish such a page with the simpleton tip of a brightly colored marker,or my own notes or ideas, seems like blasphemy and is utterly intimidating. God forbid that a drop of tea or a pinch of chip crumbs should touch the paper or leave a blemish on the kingly words. Worse, should the reader decide to take the hardback novel into—dare I say it?—a bubble bath, woe-be-unto-her should her hand slip and the book come in contact with the water. A book so mighty and so rigidly bound will never, never forgive such an embarrassment, and to add to the punishment, it will never dry. Additionally, the weighty paper makes paper cuts almost inevitable when handling the text. The subtle rip of the page from an ill-positioned forefinger is instant agony, the tear left in the margin an eternal reminder, the book’s silent judgment on an irresponsible reader. Next comes the dilemma of the dust jacket: what is its purpose? The answer is simple: There is no inherent purpose. The author’s blurb and flashy pictures do nothing to promote the literature within in any measurable way, they simply add to the reader’s difficulties. Does one remove the dust cover? This almost always leads to the jacket’s disappearance or destruction. The other option is to leave it on the book, which adds to the hassle of reading and further increases the probability of paper cuts. The only foreseeable use of the second cover is as a bookmark, and that too destroys the jacket after one passes page two hundred or so. However, do not fear: there is an alternative. Sitting peaceably upon the shelf, perhaps slightly uncomfortable where it is wedged between its larger, pricier counter-parts is the trade paperback. It waits patiently between the hardbacks and the movie reprints, its neat, slender frame taking up no more room than it requires as it anticipates the perfect reader to come and pick it up. With the paperback comes a set of promises: its thinner pages promise not to cut your fingers open; its price-tag promises not to break the bank; its size and shape promise to be compact and not distract while still maintaining a level of luxury with the floppy, attractive binding. The paperback will excuse a person for a coffee stain or a quick dip in the bubble bath; it dares the reader

26


to scrawl across the pages with annotations and highlight at the slightest inkling of inspiration. If the paperback is not slightly tattered after a reading; well then, someone obviously wasn’t trying hard enough. For the student and the dreamer alike, books are daily companions, constant friends and teachers, lifelong associates that will go through thick and thin, long and short with their owners. Now, for such a long commitment, surely its better to choose a copy that will get down and dirty, a text that wears its age elegantly, a volume that comes in a simple package, that cares more for what is on the inside than what is on the outside. Like good literature, a paperback wants the reader to challenge and question it, to talk to it and cry on it, to blow her nose on it or throw it across the room. It’s not afraid of a little water, or to continue the metaphor, a little criticism. It offers its whole self up in the hopes that someone might take a little meaning away, even if in the process its pages are torn or the binding relaxed. Upon accepting its task as a tool for inspiring deeper thought, the trade paperback is a no-nonsense creature, giving up dust jackets and thick, pretentious covers in attempts to more easily express a theme. Its covering is flexible, open-minded and profound, as literature itself should be. The paperback knows that the story or ideas within will speak for themselves, without the elaborate outer coverings that the hardback seems to rely on for self-confidence. So the next time you go into the bookstore for your fix and see that brand-new novel you’ve been salivating after is still in hardback, pick up a classic: its better to wait for the paperback. After all, I can only imagine Huckleberry Finn’s incredulity when seeing his Adventures in a monstrous, gilded classic edition with the fancy letters and fifty dollar price tag: you can’t take that kind of thing fishing with you, either.

27


A Rising Star Eric Zheng ’11

A Day in the Life of HORATIO THOMSON, GRANDMASTER OF THE SEVENTH CIRCLE OF THE GLORIOUS ORDER OF THE ILLUMINATI THE LUCERNA: THE WEEKLY GUIDING LIGHT OF THE ILLUMINATI “Truth, Wisdom, perspective” Volume DLXXII, ISSUE XLVII It is the great pleasure of The Lucerna to highlight this week one of the most spectacularly rising stars within Our Glorious Order. Just over a decade ago, Horatio Thomson joined Our Order as an acolyte under Alistair Gelson, Grandmaster of the Seventh Circle. He quickly distinguished himself with his invention of a system to quantify the Order’s progress towards the New World Order, an achievement called “a milestone for Our Glorious Order” by Grand Luminary Ben himself. After the sudden death of Oliver Smith, Junior Deputy Lieutenant Master of the Fourth Circle of the Eighth Prefecture, Thomson became the youngest acolyte ever to be elevated to the ranks of the Lesser Luminaries. Thomson continued to distinguish himself as a brilliant pragmatist and reformer within the Order and quickly rose through the ranks. Within six years, he had risen to become Master of the Fifth Circle of the Fourth Prefecture, restoring that once-languid sector to its former glory. When Alistair Gelson retired last November, Thomson took his mentor’s position as Grandmaster of the Seventh Circle of the Order. And now, without further ado, we present to you A Day in the Life of Horatio Thomson, Grandmaster of the Seventh Circle of the Glorious Order of the Illuminati: The hard-working Grandmaster begins his day before dawn, awakening to the agonizing screams of his prisoners. He dresses quickly in a simple, but elegant green gown before emerging from his Spartan inner sanctum… “ARGHHHHHH!!!!!!!!” …What? Oh, no… not again. It’s not even dawn yet. I really must have a word with Vincent about the prisoner today…mm…maybe I can snooze a bit longer… “GRAARRRGGGHHHHHH!!!! Nope, no chance of that, like always. I might as well get up. Farewell, comfy bed – I am being torn from thy warm clutches far too soon… Brr! The floor is cold, too cold… where are my – aha! Fluffy bunny slippers – check! Now for some light… but where are the matches? Now tell me, Vincent, how in the Nine Circles am I supposed to find matches in the dark? Oh, there they – oops. I hope that wasn’t anything important. So… matches – check, and AIE! burnt fingers – check. Light – check, though not worth burning my fingers. Well, I might as well throw on this purple bathrobe till I eat breakfast; I don’t feel like getting dressed before the

28


day properly begi- hello! What’re these stains – toothpaste? Nope, I’ll have to wear the long green gown-thingy instead and be cold all morning…grr. Grandmaster Thomson eats a simple bowl of gruel along with an apple before rushing off to his offices… At least I still have that last pastry left over – that’s just what I need to pick me up! Yummy creamy chocolaty goodness… Mmm!!! Wait a minute… was there someone sitting in that lounge chair? Oh **&$*^% - it’s the day that the guy from The Lucerna is supposed to follow me! And I’ve already taken the pastry out of my fridge! “Good morning, Acolyte. Wouldst thou care to partake of this pastry for thy breakfast?” “Nay, Grandmaster – the Codex clearly states that we must not partake of pleasures of the flesh, lest they impede our progress towards the New World Order. I do thank you for the opportunity to test my will, though.” Damn it… he’s one of those acolytes…Just look at him, with his selfsatisfied smile at having passed one of my “tests.” And now I have to dramatically throw my pastry into the trash can to make my “point”! Curse you, Unnamed Lucerna Acolyte, Murderer of My Delicious Pastry! Curse you, Vincent, Awakener of Grumpy Grandmasters! What a crummy day this is going to be…waking up at an unearthly hour, gruel and an apple for breakfast… all I need now is a Grand Conclave meeting… In his simple office nestled in the heart of the Illuminati complex in Rome, Grandmaster Thomson manages the machinations of the Seventh Circle, responsible for innovations and inventions. First on the agenda – a meeting with Low Inquisitor Vincent Davies to discuss recent progress in the interrogation of a captured Freemason… Look at me, Vincent – look at my poor emaciated face! I have bags under my eyes; my eyelids are drooping; my eyes are red – and it’s all because of you! “Vincent, we need to talk about the prisoner.” “Ah, the prisoner! I’ve made a great deal of progress with my new Metallica technique!” “Metallica technique?” “A new sleep deprivation technique – I blast Metallica songs into his cell at random times-” You IDIOT! Calm… calm… remain calm… “Erm… Low Inquisitor, you do realize that we’ve already established that the Freemason is a heavy metal fan?” “Yes, but I don’t see why that matters. He’s been screaming in agony. Makes my spine shiver, to tell the truth.” Screaming in agony?! You absolute IMBECILE! “Screaming in agony? He’s screaming with the songs!” And depriving me of sleep, too! “Oh.” “Hmph. Well, figure something out. And make sure he doesn’t scream so

29


loudly – it carries. Dismissed.” Maybe I was a bit too harsh on Vincent – he looked so crushed when I scolded him. After all, he did try in earnest. That’s one thing he’s got going for him – he tries… Grandmaster Thomson continues his tireless work for the Order all morning, observing demonstrations of fantastic inventions from the various prefectures of the Seventh Circle. Few of the inventions meet his stringent expectations, but those that do earn their inventors especial praise from the Grandmaster himself, maybe even a rare grin and thumbs-up… What a waste of time, watching these demonstrations…two-thirds of these “inventions” don’t work, and another two-thirds reinvent the wheel. Which means, bizarrely enough, that at least one-third of my “inventors” have managed to invent a wheel that doesn’t work. Well, what’s this? “Revolutionary miniature auditory silencing devices?” Oh – earplugs. Hmph, might be useful if Vincent screws up again with the prisoner – hey, these are great! I can’t hear you talking with these in! Heck yeah! Instant promotion for you, Mr. Overly Verbose Inventor Acolyte! What’s that? Nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah, I can’t hear you, of course. There’s a Grand Conclave meeting in an hour? Curses- Oh, and a package for me? It’s that new robe I ordered those First Prefecture minions to make last month – sweet! I’ll try it out today at the Grand Conclave – that should make it less miserable! At noon, Grandmaster Thomson pauses his work to return to his quarters for a quick meal and a change of clothes before rushing off to the Grand Conclave. Instead of the splendid crimson raiment customary for a Grandmaster, the notably humble Thomson dons a simple black robe much like those worn by the Acolytes… Bleh… the Inner Sanctum, the old stuffy warm moist underground cave where we have to hold all our meetings, on account of “tradition.” Well, I’m not going to sweat away and get all sticky and gross for “tradition” – I’ve got my new robe, with moisture-wicking fabric stolen from that Adidas factory, and little cooling packs under my armpits! Ahh… comfy! Thank goodness I got to change out of those fluffy bunny slippers too – that could have been disastrous! Uh oh – Ole Ben is about to start the meeting. Time to assume the position… Thomson watches contemplatively, hands clasped before his face, as Grand Luminary Ben steps forward to the podium. Speaking in Lumina, the secret ceremonial language of the Order, the Grand Luminary convenes the Conclave… “Ellowfay Embersmay ofway ethay Oriousglay Orderway ofway ethay Illuminatiway, elcomeway otay ethay Andgray Onclavecay ofway ethay Eventhsay Oonmay ofway ethay Earyay...” Calm… calm… do not giggle… And this ridiculous sight is our glorious “tradition!” It made sense once to conduct all our business in Latin, yes, but we’ve used this idiotic “Lumina” ever since that bumbling Grandmaster of the Fourth Circle misunderstood the tense of a crucial verb back in ’38 and started a second

30


world war... The Grandmaster listens intently as the progress reports are given, beginning with the Master of the First Circle of the First Prefecture… Oh well… I’ll just snooze here while everyone gives their progress reports in Pig Latin – speaking of which, why do I need to give a report after my underlings of the individual prefectures give theirs? What else am I going to say? Yech - the Lucerna Acolyte is starting to smell; just look at him, all sweaty and gross in his stuffy black wool robe. It took a world war to get us to drop the Latin; what’ll it take for us to drop this cave – a sudden outbreak of fast-growing mushrooms all over our sweaty robes?! Actually... that could be arranged. Easily. When his turn to speak comes, Grandmaster Thomson announces to great applause an unprecedented amount of progress towards the New World Order in the Seventh Circle, measuring twenty-nine megaIagos on the scale he himself invented! The Grand Conclave soon concludes at about ten in the evening, after the Eighth and Ninth Circles finish their presentations. Thomson has time to return to his office to give some final orders before dinner and some well-deserved rest. Whew – glad that’s over with! Not as bad of a Grand Conclave as it could have been - my new robe worked like a charm, so bye bye stickiness! And once again I have the best Iago scores – ‘twas easy enough to hack into my old system and tell the computer that the world would have turned into a giant ball of Gouda cheese without me. Anyway, the orders are all set for us to roll on those mushrooms; hopefully those will be ready next month. And the Annoying Smelly Unnamed Lucerna Acolyte is leaving now, too! Huzzah – I can finally have something decent to eat – how about a nice steak? Mmm… I totally deserve it after today! A good dinner, and then my comfy bed! Actually, why wait? I can eat in my bed! “AIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!! Get them away from me!! Away!!” Again!? I told Vincent to keep things quiet down there! Grr… goodbye, comfy bed, yummy steak – I’ll be back in a second... I wonder what in the Nine Circles the boy has gotten up to now… Good Lord. Are those… wearing… Vincent, what have you done? No, I don’t even want to know – I’m scarred enough. No man deserves to have that done to him though, not even a Freemason. Ugh, I’m going to have another horrible night - the earplugs can block the screams, but nothing will stop the nightmares. Why, Vincent, why Teletubbies?!

31


A Night in the Life of a Writer Grace Alger ’11

I cast my eyes about frantically, searching for an idea. I scrutinize every artifact within the confines of my room, trying find some inspiration. Anything, I plead inside my head, Please, just anything! This paper is due in twelve hours! I just need an idea! Receiving no sign or relic from any divine grace, I turn my eyes back to my computer screen. It is white, marred only by my name in the upper right hand corner, along with my teacher’s name, my class name, and the date, in true and meticulous MLA form. My cursor pulses steadily, practically jeering, taunting me while enjoying my mental blockage and intense frustration. “GOSH!” I burst out, shouting at no one in particular. My cat, however, looks over from where she is perched on the foot of my bed, her girth making her look comical as she blearily blinks in my direction. “What! I need an idea!” She continues to look at me disapprovingly until I lean over and scratch her chin. Desperately, my mind reaches out for ideas, all becoming more and more pathetic as time wears on. I need a topic! A Jacques Clouseau-esque secret agent man? Dumb. My cat? Boring. She’s fat and lies around all day. A poacher? Where the hell did that come from? Heffalumps and Woozles? What is this, a new twist on Winnie the Pooh? No. A shoe? ...A shoe? Really? Come on, what is that? By this point, I’m practically ready to start beating my head against the wall. So, like the procrastinator I truly am, I make a cup of tea, take a shower, paint my nails, watch television with my mother, and proceed to start a load of laundry. Finding nothing more to do to stave off the time I must sit dejectedly in front of my computer desperately thinking of ideas, I return to my room to do just that. Once more, I take to glancing around my room, waiting for some notion to whack me in the head like a wooden mallet... or maybe one of those anvils from Looney Tunes. Wile E. Coyote? Oddly destructive and violent. Roadrunner? No, he’s so annoying, always being a jerk to Wile E like that. Nicki Minaj? Eugh, who’d ever want to be inside her mind? Some kid with a superpower that no one else knows about? Already been done, a.k.a., Spiderman. I open up iTunes and listen to random snippets of music, random shapes and images dancing through my mind as they play. None give me the inspiration I am searching for. I am ready to give up when slowly, a tendril of a thought snakes its way into my brain, wrapping and coiling itself around its inner workings. At first, it’s like smoke, little wisps of an idea, just barely tangible, until it billows and fills the crevasses of my head. This is it, I think. I finally have an idea.

32


Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Geenah Krisht ’11

Do you think you have obsessive-compulsive disorder because of your presumptuous declarations of self-diagnosis and longing for attention from others? Do you think it’s the way you line up each dollar bill in your wallet for your eyes to meet those of George Washington in the same precise way each time you grab one? Is it the way you meticulously staple your papers such that the staple lies an eighth of an inch below the border of the page? Or, is it the way you place the equivalent number of ice cubes in each glass when serving your friends a flawless lemonade filled to the third fourth of the each cup? Do you really think that is OCD? But, what about her? What about the way she counts the beige tiles she steps on to assure herself that she hasn’t stepped on more of the grey tiles? And, the way she raises the volume in increments of two because odd numbers are unlucky? What about the way she must turn out all of the lights before she can choose to turn one light on individually? Or the way she neatly lays out her clothes so that they are conveniently in the order of how she puts them on for the next morning? Do you still think that you are the one with OCD? What about when she closes her eyes? She can never see nothing. She wishes she could. Her mind is constantly racing, competing with itself to be better. When she closes her eyes, she sees an infinite checklist; when she opens her eyes, a literal one. Let’s just say it’s time for bed. Did I check my planner? Am I going to remember to call Julie about the plane tickets tomorrow? I’ll just write myself a reminder to make sure. This bed is so comfortable. I don’t want to get up and write this note. But wait…If I don’t do it, I will forget. It will be all my fault that we don’t have the tickets. Make the post-it, damn it! She gets out of bed to write herself the reminder. She turns off the fan, switches the fan back on with the light, places the post-it an inch above the light switch, turns the light and fan back off, and finally turns the fan on for bed. She reaches to her phone to make sure an alarm is set. Well, in her case, four alarms. 6:35 am…check. 6:40 am…check. 6:45 am…check. 6:50 am…check! Temporary peace at last. She longs for peace, for freedom from these anxious thoughts. They all do. They all have these rituals that essentially control their daily lives. They may be obsessed with germs, dirt, filth, or disease, leading them to develop a repetitive hand-washing compulsion. Or, they may be obsessed with fear of intruders and develop a monotonous door-locking compulsion. You may be thinking to yourself: “Well, I wash my hands when they’re dirty” or “I check to make sure I lock the door before leaving the house.”But, do you wash your hands eight times after you make it home from a public place? Do you lock, unlock, and relock each door and window before going to bed each night? Although these rituals are done in order to attain a certain serenity, they are not by any means pleasurable; at best, they produce a temporary relief from the anxiety stemming from their obsessive thoughts. 33


Now let’s say it is time for class. She is constantly praying that her preoccupation with order and symmetry will not get in the way of her studies again. Her pencil rolls off the top right corner of her desk. I must roll it off of the top left corner without anyone noticing. She picks up the pencil, sets it near the top left corner of the tabletop, and gives it a slight push. The pencil rolls off of the desk and falls on to the ground for the second time. Phew! Second fall. Second. Two. Even. Even is good. One fall on the right. One fall on the left. Perfect. OCD is not a joke. It is not something that is dealt with easily, it is not something to be proud of, and it is most definitely not something I would wish for anyone. You know, they always say there is more than meets the eye. Obsessive-compulsive disorder is an anxiety disorder in which people have prying, obsessive thoughts and feelings that produce uneasiness, apprehension, fear, and worry that make them feel driven to behave in certain compulsive ways. Prior to this sentence, this essay contained 3362 characters in 758 words in 6 paragraphs. All even numbers. All lucky numbers. I close my eyes and place a little check mark on my infinite checklist…Bliss.

“Insanity is often the logic of an accurate mind overtaxed.” -Oliver Wendell Holmes 34


A Day in the Life of Shadow the Dog Ali Hopkins ’11 Mmm. It’s getting bright again. Time to wake up the humans. STRETCH! Okay, Shadow, up on the bed. One, two, three, jump! Hey, big guy. Hey, hey, get up! It’s daytime; no more sleeping! Come on, play with me! Erg… He’s not moving. Nuzzle, nuzzle. GET UP! Okay, time to bring out the big guns. Achoo! “Ew, Shadow. Stop sneezing on me!” Big Guy said. Ha-ha, fooled you. I didn’t even really have to sneeze. But it made you wake up! “Shadow, get off me, you big lummox of a dog!” Hey now! I take offense to that! You know I’m a country-bred dog. I run all the time; it’s not my fault I’m big-boned! I don’t want to play with you anymore, meanie. Brother, brother, get up! Help me wake up the humans! SCOUT! Ugh, that lazy dog. Doesn’t he have any respect for canine tradition? I knew the lady never should have bought us these soft dog beds. But they’re so nice to sleep in… Okay, dudes, I have to go. Now. Seriously, let me out! Finally, the lady’s getting up to take us outside. She doesn’t look happy, though. The great outdoors! Ah, sweet relief. Wait, lady, where are you going? Don’t leave me out… A SQUIRREL! Hmm. I’m getting kind of tired. Maybe I’ll just lie down for a little nap. Just a short baby nap. Rrrrrtttt. Is that the garage door? It is! The little humans are home! Is it really that late already? So much for just a little nap… Yay, little humans! Let me in, let me in! I promise I’ll be good. And Scout will too; I’ll watch him and make sure. Oh, thank you! I love you so much, so much! “Whoa, Shadow! Don’t jump on me, buddy,” the boy human said. Oops, I must have gotten too excited. But I just love everybody so much! Time to go upstairs and get a snack. Mm, I smell kibble! Run, run, run, run, whoa! Too fast! Aahh slide! Yes, perfect stop right in front of the food bowl. I could definitely be a baseball dog. That’s why they call me Shadow, because that’s all you’ll ever see of me! Mm, why is kibble so good? Go away, Scout! You can eat later. Is it cuddling time now? I love cuddling almost as much as I love kibble. Yes, the girl human is going to sit on the couch. Now’s my chance! Run, run, LEAP! Oh, I love you! “Shadow, that’s too much licking! Too many kisses, Shadow!” the girl human said. Well, fine. I’m just going to sit here and look sad until you pet me some more. “Oh, Shadow, don’t give me that pitiful face. You know I love you too.” Ha-ha, success! All right, well now that I’m happy again, I think I’ll go get some more kibble. Crash! “SHADOW!” one of the humans yelled. Whoops, I think I might

35


have just knocked over that glass… Oh, tail, when will you learn not to wag so hard? You are such a good tail, though. So soft, and fluffy, too. I guess I forgive you, tail. Just be careful next time. It’s okay, humans! My tail and I have had a long talk, and it won’t be knocking anything else over. Don’t worry, Shadow will always save the day! Click. I think that’s the door opening… THE OTHER HUMANS! They’re back, they’re back! Oh, big humans, I love you, too! Ooh, the lady’s going into the kitchen. What’s for dinner tonight? I hope it’s something I will like. You better give me a taste tonight, humans! Kibble is tasty, but I’ve been a good boy. I deserve a little something extra, I think. Pot roast, you know that’s my favorite! Please, lady, please please please! Yes! Mm that is so good! Now pet me, please! I’m really such a soft dog. Ah, that’s the stuff. T.V. time! What are we watching tonight, Big Guy? Oh, it’s that show with the writer who solves mysteries, right? This show is pretty good, but it never has any dogs in it. They’re really much better actors than the humans anyway. Hey, Big Guy, how about some scratching for my belly. You know you want to… It’s furry; you can’t resist the furry! Oh, there you go, Big Guy. You always know how to treat a dog right. Yawn. Well, now that I’m all full and petted, I’m getting pretty sleepy again. I think I’ll just lie down here… on the couch… until… later…

Puppy

Lauren Jackson ’13 36


In Which The Dragon is not Slain... Conni Kuo ’11

Many leagues he had travelled. Through most foul smelling swamps and sinister forests he had tramped to reach this sorry excuse for a castle. He had located and defeated the beast. It was currently writhing in pain and at his mercy. He was free to put it out of its misery at any moment… “Stop! Stop, stop, stop!” He paused with his sword raised in the air and looked around for whatever villain had dared interrupt him.“My love!” he cried, suddenly overcome by joy. “I feared the worst! But do not come closer for it is dangerous. I am about to deliver the killing blow, and then we may–” He was cut off by a smack round the head. He staggered backwards and dropped his sword.“What – what strength my angel has,” he said dazedly, rubbing his stinging cheek.“No wonder the monster was so easily subdued.” “Who do you think you are?” his princess was saying indignantly. That he could definitely answer. He drew himself up and bowed deeply. “I am your Knight in Shining Armor!” Whatever shine that had survived the journey was promptly blotted out when the still not dead dragon vomited on him. The princess gave him the look that she usually reserved for spiders she found speared on the bottom of her six inch heels. He deflated somewhat. “He was so easy to subdue because he didn’t fight back!” “But all monsters fight back,” the Knight in No Longer Shining Armor said confusedly. “That makes you the monster! Look, he’s got a wife and two dozen kids to feed. How dare you inflict such pain and suffering on their family!” “Two dozen?” He gaped. “How does my fair maiden know?” “I’m a princess, you idiot,” she snapped. “I can talk to animals.” “Ah, of course! My darling is so talented!” He beamed at her. She shot him another look that made him sort of die inside. After making a visible effort to calm herself, she smiled sweetly at him. “That’s your horse over there isn’t it?” The knight’s gaze followed where she was pointing. “Yes, the Most Courageous Steed!” he said proudly. “Well, shouldn’t you get back on him? It’s about that time for you to go riding off into the sunset.” The knight saw that the sun was indeed rather near the horizon. “Why, how right you are, my dear! Most Courageous Steed, we must depart swiftly!” They did so. It was a few minutes before the knight realized that he had forgotten to take his princess with them. “Most Courageous Steed, we must turn back for my lady love!” Just then, a great shadow passed overhead, and both knight and horse looked up to see the dragon flying away. The princess was seated on its back. “Blistering brute! It’s kidnapped my love again! After them, Most Courageous Steed!”

37


“Oh, lay off!” the princess screamed. “Never! I am determined to save you!” The princess chucked her shoe at him. It connected satisfyingly with the knight’s helmet, sending the knight toppling off his horse. The dragon sighed. Humans had such strange courting rituals.

“I don’t care for your fairytales You’re so worried ‘bout the maiden Though you know she’s only waiting On the next best thing.” -Sara Bareilles 38


The Gold Miner Mark Henry ’11 “The really wonderful moments of joy in this world are not moments of self-gratification, but of self-forgetfulness.” It felt like a dream that I couldn’t control: that kind of nightmare where nothing particularly frightening happens save for an overwhelming sense of helplessness. In a way I was freer than I had ever been in my life; the few very vague, sparse memories I had were the only things separating me from the unseen creatures lurking in fog around me. I was as free as they were. The horror of my circumstances was found only in my self-awareness: that I was somebody; that I exist; that every decision I make should adhere to some set of standards. That’s it. That’s all that separated me from those shadows circling in the twilight-blue fog. As I lifted myself out of the snow, I saw that I was by the bank of a small creek in the crease of a deep ravine. It was evening, judging by the deepening hue of the already blue-ish snow around me. But I was walled-in by the two steep slopes that rose above the creek-bed on either side of me, so it was likely that the sun was still up. Looking about myself, I could see nothing except snow and trees, rising up the parallel slopes. I called out, but even before it was absorbed by the snow, the sound of my voice brought the full measure of my desperate circumstances to my attention. I was alone, without a doubt. Not only that, but I had no recollection of my arrival here, or why I was on my back by the creekbed, or even who I was. In a sudden panic, I scrambled for the gurgling water, took my gloves off, and leaned over it to take a drink. Breathing heavily, I watched the soft current carry the end of my long, grey beard a few inches down stream before I dipped my hands into the frigid water. But just before I brought my hands to my face, I was startled to see a pair of footprints I had not noticed earlier just across the stream from me, leading straight up the adjacent slope. My heart raced and I felt the blood drain from my face, as I looked from the footprints to the thickening fog around me and back to my reflection. ______ The men cussed and kicked the dogs away from the body as they dragged their noses through the dark red snow. “Lord have mercy…” the taller man slurred from behind a scarf. The small man was tying the dogs to a tree on the edge of the clearing. “Why…why you don’t think it was them devils…?” He chimed back, facing the woods rather than the tall man. The tall man said nothing for a few moments, scanning the trees and then the sky, and everything in between back down to the snow save for the body’s unblinking eyes. He turned a glove over with the toe of his boot in the stained

39


White Christmas Lauren Jackson ’13

40


snow as he slowly let out a cloud of vapor that hung in the air before his knowing gaze. “C’mon..” he grunted. “Gimme a hand here…gotta get this poor chap outta the sticks.” “Looks to me like there ain’t no need t’hurry…” chuckled the smaller man, shuffling over closer. “’Course there ain’t!” growled the tall man. “Lest you wanna sleep in the snow like this man too! Now gimme a hand!” “But…But they ain’t never known to do something a’this like without provocation?” “After a storm like that, they gotta find some way to keep alive! I reckon he was the last they’ll find for days! Life ain’t easy for no timber wolves either, the way I see it.” “Well it ain’t easy for no juggernauts either. Do you suppose he was here lookin’ for gold as well?” “Hard to say,” said the taller man. “Curious thing is, I don’t see nothing but paw prints in the snow…” _____ I had reached the top of the incline just in time to see the sun slip from yellow to orange above the snowy mountain peaks in the distance. I had entered a small clearing where the fading light gave the snow a dim yellow tint. A few small clouds were gathering around the mountain peaks. As the sun sunk behind them, I noticed that its light was split into several clear beams of that same golden hue. It struck me that only when the sun itself was hidden was its light actually distinctly visible, comprehendible. That only while eclipsed does its light appear to be directed, or aimed. As the snow’s yellow slowly darkened, the lower angle of the sunlight cast no shadows; the snow before me in the clearing was completely untouched. I scanned the snow from the far end down to my feet, and saw that the only impressions in the snow were the two prints filled by my feet. My head raced; confused, scared, and frustrated, I felt the blood rushto my face. I lifted my eyes to the jagged horizon once more as it slowly filled with a deep red that was just beginning to seep up from the peaks. I dropped my gaze to my feet, took a breath, and slowly turned around to retrace my steps. I immediately froze; there were no footprints behind me either. In the clearing, there were only the prints I was standing in, and the prints I had made turning around. Breathing heavy, and turned around a full 360 degrees to my left, scanning the edge of the clearing, my mind blank. Panicked and flustered now, I began another full revolution in the other direction, but at about 3 o’clock, the looming figure of a timberwolf faced me, less than 4 yards away; it had not made a sound entering the clearing, but I could clearly see its footprints leading back into the blue fog in the woods. I started, and it

41


let out a single stunted snarl. Just as I lifted my left foot backwards, it leapt. _____ The world around me is in grey and white; the craggy fur of the wolves’ backs; and the jagged peaks of their teeth; just grey and white. In my head it’s a fog of grey and white; I feel nothing but a vague, searing pressure in my eyes. The wolves’ movements are blurry; slow motion. Splashes of red interrupt the grey and white, as the flesh is torn effortlessly from my limbs and abdomen. Suddenly, I see two fiery eyes aimed directly into my own only inches away. As the dark pupils dilate in the fading red light, I can see the distinct, separate beams of gold and orange in the iris of both eyes; they look like dim beams of sunlight shooting from the dark disk of an eclipse. Then a flashing white light starts to quicken, like a strobe light behind my eyes, until the flashes run together into a quiet expanse of blinding white.

Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed. - Francis Bacon

42


Virginia

Lauren Jackson ’13 43


The Mushroom Kingdom Jon Brown ’11 It was a perfect day in Mushroom Kingdom; the sun was high above the clouds as the birds sang sweet music. The Italian man awoke to this beautiful symphony, gently lifting himself from the top bunk of his bed. Eagerly, he ran outside and jumped into the large green sewer pipe that was exposed in his front yard. Magically, as if traveling through some underground portal, he instantly arrived at the castle. He could not wait, as the excitement was bursting through him, after reaching the open door he jumped with all his might. He landed in the middle of his crowd of friends and yelled. “It’s a me, Mario! !” “Oh, goody! Now the party can start!” Peach exclaimed “I have spared no expense on this party, Mario. I have kept my little toad servants hard at work preparing for this day. We have many different mini games planned, starting with go karting.” They all enjoyed racing but go karting was something else. No one ever went fast in the go karts unless you were crazy enough to pick up a mushroom that somehow gave the cart a boost. The rules on what was allowed in the race also seemed rather vague, permitting what would normally be foul play, assault, or attempted murder. The second place winner or even the loser could justifiably blame his loss on different events varying from running over a banana peel to being struck by lightning. The guests did not question the physics of the race fearing that those thoughts could lead them to questioning the entire nature of their existence like, what exactly is Toad? Is he a walking mushroom? Why are there so many toads? Where did Princess Peach find so many toads to work for her? And so on. Mario and the gang proceeded to the track getting into their karts, each spitting their own unique game when disaster struck. The sky darkened as the earth began to tremble. “Oh a no, not again!” Mario mumbled. “It’s a Bowser.” The crowd watched as the giant turtle flew towards the castle on a floating cloud. Lightning filled the sky as Bowser began to laugh “hahahahahahahaha-“ “Just take her” Mario interrupted “I’m a tired, we do this too much! You’re a on a freaking cloud! I can’t a compete with that. I’m a three feet tall! I’m a done, through, finito!” Everyone stared as Mario walked towards his green sewer pipe, jumped in and headed home. The following days were a relief to Mario. His life became normal. There were no turtles to jump on. No lava pits to jump over, no underwater places to swim through while avoiding squids and turtles and sharks. He was happy and content with the way his life was turning out. “Ahh, this is the a life.” “Hey Mario, are you ever going to get the princess from Bowser?” Luigi

44


asked. “Not today,” Mario replied. “Why not? She is in trouble, she needs your help!” “I’m tired, Luigi, it seems like every day I go and save her. I’m tired of always repeating this fight.” Luigi left disappointed. He had started the day hoping his brother would snap out of his rut and go save Peach. The days passed on as Mario began to miss Peach. Eventually Mario found himself at Toad’s house inhaling magic mushrooms while watching Across the Universe. After the movie, Mario’s thoughts went to Peach as they often did. He tried to start talking about it with Toad, but was stopped by the sight of Toad passing out. It had been a long day so Mario decided to bring up the topic first thing in the morning. When morning arrived, Mario had already made up his mind. He asked Toad for any and all magic mushrooms he could spare. Toad eagerly gave Mario every type of mushroom, each having different effects on the body. With these new useful tools of destruction he was sure that getting Princess Peach back would be no problem. Finally after many trials Mario reached Bowser’s castle, his spirits higher than Amir’s kite. Mario reached Bowser’s lair with ease. Mario was face to face with Bowser when all of a sudden flames burst from the turtle’s mouth. Mario was hit, but he could still fight. He shrunk to a smaller size as he frantically searched through the bag toad gave him to see if he had any mushrooms left. He found none. Mario looked hysterically until his eyes fell upon something new. He found a pair of raccoon ears in the bag. He thought all was lost, he did not know what Toad had done, but prayed to the stars that it would help. He put on the raccoon ears and could feel changes starting to take place. Bowser came closer and tried to hit Mario with his tail. Mario jumped and realized that he was not falling back down. Somehow the raccoon ears had turned him into a flying squirrel. With this new found ability Mario flew around Bowser making him lose his balance and fall. Mario used this opportunity to do what he did to all enemies. Mario flew into the sky and dived back down giving Bowser his final curb stomp. With the battle over, Mario flew over to Peach and carried her away back home.

45


Cortex

Grace Alger ’11 He walks alone an empty street. It’s been a long and meaningless day; the street is cast in dull grays and browns in the dusty, fading light, empty shops huddled together. Without pausing to consider why, he is drawn to a particularly worn building, the only thing remarkable about it being the green and white awning over the door that reads, “Witts’ End Cornerstore.” He meanders to the front door to peek inside, hands stuffed in pockets and fingering the lint that has long since accumulated. Its interior is just as remarkable as its outside; that is to say, it is very, very plain. Despite this, the man feels drawn in by the homely little shop and he tries the door. To his surprise, he has only but to jiggle the handle a little and the door swings freely on its hinges, its shabby depths beckoning him inward to explore in the dim light. With a furtive glance back towards the deserted avenue, he takes a wary step inside. The store seems average in just about every way, and the man dimly wonders why it was left unlocked. Surely the owner must be senile, or otherwise, stupid. The shop’s decor indicates the former however, as the interior does not look like it has been renovated since the forties, or perhaps even before that. On the wall to the right is an assortment of chintzy knickknacks and dolls, their painted faces almost grotesque in the dim light. On the far wall opposite, an assortment of food items ranging from potato chips to peanuts to candy. The back of the store is a pharmaceutical counter, row upon row of prescription drugs lining the shelves behind. There is a low hum being emitted from somewhere behind the checkout, a whirring, clicking noise. The man carefully picks his way to the counter and peers around the back, searching for the source of the odd noise. Just behind the checkout there is a series of gears and knobs, all turning of their own accord, as though being turned by a phantom. The gears themselves are ornate, their metal plates etched with fantastical whirling patterns. They look delicate, spindly almost, their fine metal workings the source of this odd noise. Just beside the gears is a little bronze knob, brightly polished despite its antique appearance. It shines dimly in the fading light, though with a sinister aura, like a brightly colored butterfly; look, but don’t touch. The man pauses for a second, wondering how wise it would be to touch this knob, but against his better judgment, he reaches out for it. Slowly, he grasps the twinkling handle, almost reddish with the sunset, and turns it. It doesn’t give at first, but with minor force, it turns freely a full 360 degrees. A light explodes into his field of vision. Memories of an empty life dance before his eyes in his panic. Then, everything goes black. Unaware if he had been unconscious or not, the man arises from his position on the floor. Based upon the cramps in his lower back and the slight

46


headache, he assumes that he had indeed passed out. Curiously, no cause springs to his mind. He lies behind the counter of Witts’ End Cornerstore, he knows, but the gears from when last he was conscious are no longer visible. No such tinkling cogs exist nor is there any trace that they ever did. Slightly unnerved, the man stands up and dusts himself off. He can see that the light now coming through the windows is brighter, though still darker than it would be during daylight hours. Slowly, he makes his way to the front door and exits. He is greeted by a hellish sight; the world looks as if it has just experienced war. Buildings are littered with shrapnel and scorching burns, everything is gray with ash or blackened. The stone facing on the surrounding buildings looks worn, tired beyond its years from all the bloodshed that has occurred here. All around there are sandbags and crates, barriers built by the warring soldiers to be later abandoned. There are fires everywhere, none spreading, but instead they are never-ceasing blazes. Even more numerous are great stone watchtowers. Their soaring facades look austerely over the wounded terrain, lone surviving witnesses. A short distance away, a tattered carousel, French in style, lies tilted, the carnival horses looking almost freakish, their eyes wild in reaction to the violence. Ash covers the faded tent, proof that not even childhood simplicity can withstand the effects of war. All around there are garrisons and churches, shops and inns, all ravaged by conflict. There are ruins of buildings and blasted cobblestones lying in dirt, petrified remnants. But there is one chilling aspect that completes the horrific sight before the man, or rather, there isn’t one. The whole world around him is deserted. Worse yet, no escape is apparent. Bold, the man picks his way through the rubble, searching for any clue that mankind might still exist somewhere amongst the ash and haze created by the surrounding infernos. Finding none, he chooses to explore a potentially hospitable tower, unique for the fact that it is not ablaze like its neighboring edifices. The inside of the tower is dark, shadowy, great stone walls encasing its interior in an oppressive manner. The air is thick with dust that leaves a gritty taste in the man’s mouth. There is a steep, spiraling staircase making its way up the tower, its end invisible in the blackness above. The man trudges upward; upon reaching the top of this staircase, he finds a bed, rations of water left behind, and a few loaves of bread, miraculously untouched by mold or mildew or any other entity that might render it inedible. Famished, the man devours half a loaf of bread, greedily gulps down some of the water and immediately falls asleep on the bed. That night, he is visited by nightmares. Childhood demons and painful memories rise from their graves, buried away in the man’s subconscious, and dance once more to prey upon his sanity. So the pattern continues. By day, the man explores the desolate land,

47


searching for life or some way out of this pseudo-prison. Every evening he returns to his watchtower, somehow never running out of food or drink, only returning every night unsatisfied and exhausted. Every night the nightmares come, and when he cries out, there is no one to comfort him. One day, he awakes with a new vigor. The tongues of flame lick the sky, their never-ceasing inferno perpetually consuming the tops of the towers. The man looks out the window of his own, blaze-less tower. The sky, painted blood-red from a mixture of dusk and the smoky haze, adds to the effect that the land is wounded. Craters pock the landscape; vehicles lie blasted on their sides in some, some nothing more than rust, just as they have always been since the man took residence in this desolate land. But he feels something is different-- perhaps the warm breeze given off by the flames is moving in a different direction. Something is amiss, for every follicle on his neck is standing on end. The balance of the land seems put off--as though someone else has now come to occupy its sparse offerings. He peers into the haze, his eyes watering a little, searching for the cause of this disturbance. Paranoia? He has no choice but to wonder whether or not his isolation has lead him to mistrust his own judgment. Or perhaps he only wishes someone else were out there, in this land where he is the sole occupant. A flash of movement catches his eye. It is slight enough to have imagined, but goosebumps tell him otherwise; this was no figment of his imagination, no apparition from his dreams. There is something out there, and it is very much alive. He is sure of it now, and his heart begins to pound in his chest as he hears a sound. Out of fear, excitement, curiosity, he does not know, but it very quickly registers with him that that sound had in fact been the sound of his very front door being kicked in with astounding force. Impulse takes over. Friendly things do not kick in front doors. Before his own intentions even register in his mind, he is already unfurling the old rope ladder, never before noticed, left near the window. Quickly he descends, glancing fearfully upward to the window as he goes. As he touches the earth, a figure appears, obviously armed, as indicated by the large gun held in one hand and the ammunition belts crossing the figure’s torso. The face is invisible through the smoke, though his blood is chilled. He knows the figure can see him. For a second he is frozen with fear, but adrenaline once more courses through his veins, and he takes flight across the ruined landscape. Not far behind he can hear the thudding of feet pounding the earth. Even louder, though, he can hear the staccato beat of his own heart. He dashes across the dirt, somewhat invigorated by the chase. A sick part of the man is filled with glee that someone else exists in this inhospitable land, even if that someone is trying to kill him. In his elation, he falters and pitches forward, landing facedown in the dirt. His heart pounds even louder in

48


his ears, sounding an alarm, urging him to get up, to run. He can hear his pursuer close behind now; he picks himself up and continues his mad dash. Exactly where he is going, he doesn’t know, but his feet carry him forward. He sees another tower, its door thrown wide, and impulsively he flies inside. He charges up the stairwell, identical to that of his own residence. It is only when he reaches the top of the great stone steps that he realizes his mistake. There is no escape this time; there is no ladder. In a panic, he slams the door to the room. He hears the thundering of echoing footsteps and throws the closest thing, a chair, against the latch to help brace it. With nothing left to do, the man tries to slow his breathing and remain calm as he makes his way over to the threadbare-blanketed mattress. He inhales deeply, clutches his face in his hands, and slowly shakes his head, reflecting upon his pitiful, insignificant life. Now his life is to be ended by a masked stranger for some crime unknown to him. There is pounding on the door and the timbers groan, protesting to their abuse by this intruder. The man lifts his face from his hands, squares his shoulders, and resigns himself to the death that surely lies before him. The door bursts inward with a crash, sending the chair to the floor and causing a reverberating boom. The figure pauses in the doorway; the tension in the room is tangible. The man tries to hold his composure, cooly examining his executioner in his final moments. It is now, however, that he realizes something about his assailant. It is a woman. The curves beneath the heavy ammunition denote femininity. The stature is too small to be that of a man. And very slowly, she removes the cloth that had previously hid the lower part of her face, a means of protecting it from the dust, and drops her munitions to the floor. Cautiously, gently, she crosses the room to where the man sits dumbfounded by the figure before him. Carefully, she lifts him to a standing position, and most extraordinary of all, she twines her arms around his torso. “It’s all right. You’re not alone,” she whispers, her voice like tinkling bells. His figure crumples with relief into her arms. From outside there is a rumbling roar of thunder and a sudden downpour of rain, as if the skies had split and were now releasing their entire contents on the parched earth below. The woman relinquishes her grip on the man, and together they peer out the window. Outside, the fires are going out and the scars of war are being washed away.

49


Moving Along

Sarah Bingham ’13

50


A Day in the Life of Dr. Seuss Robyn Barrow ’11 I wake up at the crack of dawn, I jump from bed without a yawn, I put some feet in my shoes Today I have nothing to lose What tie should I wear? Dot, stripes, or square? Should it be Red, yellow, blue, or pink? Bright colors help me to think! I ride to work on a baboon While eating my porridge with a spoon Ok, I lied. I was in a car. (From home to the office is pretty far) I’ll start a new story today And I hope that it will make my way It’s about a cap-wearing cat But there must be a better title than that… By lunch I’ve thought of a page or so But how it ends I just don’t know Oh well! Time to take a break So I’ll just eat some chicken fried steak While I’m chewing I see my grumpy old boss Why he’s such a Grinch I’m at a loss Look how he takes my editor Cindy’s food! Hmm… this puts me in the writing mood. Back at my desk I read the paper a while Hitler is taking Europe mile by mile Maybe I could put a stop to his crusade If I sent the Whos’ on a wartime parade! I scribble a Whoville march to war And before I know it it’s half past four! Time goes by when there’s thinks to be thought I find that I think quite a lot

51


On the way home (I took a tiger this time) I confess that I did it just for the rhyme The traffic was bad so I sat in the line Hoping I’d not be too late to dine Supper’s on the table when I get home And I have to suppress a moan The eggs are green! And the ham is gone cold I really hope that color’s not mold By nine o’clock I’m in pajamas and bed Wondering if I’ve let any rhymes go unsaid With a sigh I decide I can’t think of another So out goes the light, glasses off, and day over.

“Words are like leaves; and where they most abound, much fruit of sense beneath is rarely found.” - Alexander Pope 52


Miss Geenah Krisht ’11 It was the seventh consecutive night that I had woken up before dawn. I scooted myself to the edge of the bed using solely the strength remaining in my upper body. My arms had always been my most faithful limbs. Although I could barely hear them anymore, my knees cracked as loud as ever as I forced myself into the shower. I dressed myself, and walked over to the vanity. The stool squeaked almost louder than my aching joints when I sat down upon it. I opened the drawer and began. Mineral base powder. That stuff that makes my skin almost as flawless as it was then. Eyeliner pencil. It has become my tremor’s greatest enemy. Without it, my face looks incomplete; with it, my eyes appear hazardous. That day though, my tremor was only slight; therefore, my eyes were almost perfect. Mascara. It still assists in defining my eyes, lash by lash. Hot, red lipstick. I never thought I would wear it, but hey, that is what we single ladies do right? I had always dreamed of my life, but never did I think I would be alone. I had imagined children; not just one, a few. I had imagined a man, a man I would come home to every night, seeing that I wanted to be a “hard-working wife.” If none of that worked out, I had told myself I would always have a dog; I didn’t want to be that “old cat lady.” But things had changed. There I was. No children. No man. No dog. Nothing. After every thing I had worked and yearned for, did I really have nothing? I had always told him she would do this to our friendship. He never believed me. As our relationship began to crumble, he tried to mend our lost time with words, words that I knew were meaningless. Soon enough, it was time for the wedding; the worst day of my life…that strumpet. I knew him well, maybe too well. I knew he did not really love her. She was always good with games; I’ll give her that. She was one player; I think that is what they call it nowadays. She did not like me; maybe that’s why I haven’t heard from him. Maybe he forgot me; we are sort of aging, I’ll give him that. Then again, he said he would never forget me; she must have taught him how to lie. But, he said he would write; there is no excuse for that. Nevertheless, I started my daily routine with a walk to the mailbox. Everyday that damn mailbox appeared to be further and further away from my front door; maybe it was just my degenerating eyesight. I tugged on the latch and the hinge released. I reached in and seized the pile of mail. As usual, I sat down on the curb as if waiting for the mailman to return with a forgotten letter. I rummaged through the stack, looking only at the return addresses. Once again, I did not see his name. I revisited each envelope, this time reading the mailing addresses, in hope that I would find a letter that was accidentally sent to me. In that case, I would find the person it should have been sent to, and they would expectantly give me my lost mail, hoping that would be from him. But no. “Miss Melony Collier,” each envelope read.

53


I scooted myself to the edge of the curb using solely the strength remaining in my upper body. My arms had always been my most faithful limbs. Before closing the mailbox, I looked inside one last time to see if I had overlooked anything. I hadn’t. I closed the mailbox and started back to my front door. Everyday that damn door appeared to be further and further away from my mailbox. As I began my journey to my front door, I heard something behind me. I had a feeling that day was going to be different. People don’t look that jazzy for nothing, you know? I turned around. I saw a handsome, old man opening his front door across the street. His head hung low as he walked towards his mailbox. When he finally arrived at his mailbox, I think he realized I had been staring. He looked up; I smiled. We exchanged uneasy glances. It was as if I had known him for years, for a lifetime perhaps. Could it be? It could. I knew his eyes anywhere. Anxious, I started towards him. He turned around flaunting a slight shrug, as if tucking away the thoughts he had been dwelling on, and started towards his door. He slammed his front door; I froze in my tracks.

Biggie

Buddy Blasier ’11 54


The Turn of the Magi Eric Zheng ’11 Edward had written a story. Naturally, he asked me to read it – ever since I had happened to greet him in the canteen, he had followed me around like some poor overgrown puppy. My friends thought it strange that I should permit him to do so, but it was easy enough to lose him if he became tiresome. Besides, the poor soul didn’t seem to have any friends, and so I indulged him, seeing an opportunity for some kindness, and perhaps also to nurture a fellow writer. The story was titled “The Turn of the Magi.” It was a rather quaint and endearing story of the friendship between a young writer and his mentor, narrated from the latter’s point of view. I was initially impressed with the author’s effort, and I told him so. As I read the story’s climax, though, I discovered an irreparable flaw. “But Edward,” I said, “listen to your climax here: ‘Hello, Edgar,’ I said. ‘Good morning!’ ‘And how are you doing this fine morning?’ ‘Just fine, and you?’ ‘The same. My, isn’t it beautiful today?’ ‘Yes, a beautiful day for YOU TO DIE!!!’” “This doesn’t make any sense, Edward,” I continued. “The mentor has done nothing but offer Edgar helpful advice – why would he want to kill him? And besides, Edgar spontaneously swings from pleasantries to a murderous rage for no apparent reason. No, this won’t do at all – this is terrible writing. In fact, I think this might even be the textbook example of hideous plot development!” Edward blushed at my admonitions and nodded understandingly. “Don’t be too discouraged,” I advised him. “Drama is not your forte, but perhaps you will succeed at something. Why don’t you try writing some poetry?” With that, Edward thanked me for my advice and took his leave of me. ~ He came back two days later, eagerly waving around an ink-covered page. “Here, read this!” he exclaimed. I took the page and began to read. Once again, Edward had made an endearing effort – his rhyme and meter were absolutely 55


charming – yet once more his work had a fatal flaw. “Edward,” I sighed in exasperation, “you must watch your metaphors. It’s all well and good to speak of tempests or of love, but certainly not at the same time. One is violent and destructive, and the other is tender and constructive – they are as alike as night and day! Your readers will be left confounded – you must shepherd them, not whirl them around. No, no, this won’t do either.” Upon seeing Edward’s disappointed expression, I added, “You do have a certain skill with words, but not with poetry. Perhaps you should try something else, like comedy?” Edward thanked me again for my counsel, commenting that I was the most helpful mentor he’d ever met. I smiled. ~ Edward returned after several days with his next attempt. “Read this, please.” Once again, Edward had proven his great potential, yet still fell short. “I’m sorry, Edward,” I said, “but this isn’t a comedy. Quite simply, it’s not funny. You have an excellent caricature of the Church, but that is political, not nonsensical! No, a comedy needs to be ridiculous to be funny; a reader mustn’t need to think about the hilarity. If you had had the priest spill the wine on the altar boy, perhaps that would have worked – but not this.” Edward frowned at my comments, obviously disappointed. I smiled at him and patted him on the back. “No, no,” I said encouragingly, “you can’t write comedy at all. How about romance?” Edward turned and rushed off. ~ Edward found me the next evening with my friends in the Tiger Club. I was as surprised as my companions to see him– if not more so. I briefly wondered who had let Edward in, with his unkempt hair and haggard visage, before a mass of ink-splattered pages was thrust into my face. “Here! Read this!” he implored me. I did so, and I found before me a weird landscape, of tumultuous, tangled emotions, of violent passions, of shocking urges, that had the crude audacity to call itself a “romance”! No respectable human ever felt the impulses he dared call “love” or dared think of committing the vile acts his characters did. I had to put a stop to this. 56


“Edward, how could you write such rubbish? What you have here is not romance! It is not idealistic, worshipful, patient, and above all honourable! It is not the pinnacle of civilized emotion! This is barbaric, wanton, and rude – all the hallmarks of the base emotions!” Edward’s eyes stared into mine in shock; his face was frozen and his mouth drawn. As he began to flush, I relented. “I’m sorry,” I said. “It’s not fair for me to judge you for this. It is an outstanding attempt, but ultimately doomed to fail. One can only write about what one knows, and of course you have had no experience with love. Go back, and write of something you know – like loneliness.” As he stormed away, I apologized profusely to my friends for the disgraceful interruption. ~ I did not hear from Edward again for several weeks. Just as I was beginning to wonder about him, I found a manuscript in my mailbox. Although it was signed “Edgar P-----”, I knew the handwriting to be Edward’s. It was remarkable – one of the finest pieces I had ever read. I resolved to praise Edward when I saw him next. That came soon – the very next day, I saw Edward loitering about my house. It was a beautiful spring morning, in that delicate time between the dreariness of winter and the unseemly vivacity of summer. Edward seemed in particularly good spirits. He whistled – something I never knew he could do – as he walked about my yard. I opened my door and stepped out onto my porch. “Hello, Edward!” I said. “Good morning!” he returned, with a broad grin. “And how are you doing this fine morning?” I asked, leaning over the railing. Edward sauntered towards me, grinning even more broadly. “Just fine, and you?” “The same.” I looked around me and sighed happily. “My, isn’t it beautiful today?” Edward now stood right beside me, his face suddenly inscrutable. He made a sudden movement as he replied. “Yes, a beautiful day for YO–!”

57


The Window Chris Hart ’11 I sit in front of a single window, almost hidden in the contrast of black, white and gray that consumes the dimly lit room. The quaint, old cabinet I sit on is the only home I’ve had in the span of my quiet life and will most likely be my last. Occasionally, slivers of light will slip in through the seams of the plain white cloth that is covering the window; they are refreshing. There used to be a boy, my caretaker, who would open the shades so I could enjoy a few hours of sunlight during the day. When I was able to see what was outside, it was beautiful. The scene was a vibrant moving image, full of life and interaction. Children played along the brick-paved streets, running to and fro while tossing a ball or tagging each other. Couples wearing colorful garments conversed on the bench, sharing small talk and infatuated smiles. Their lives seemed to be happy. When the boy started staying inside more often, I saw the outside less and less. When I would catch a glimpse, I would see strange, stern figures dressed in uniforms and patrolling the streets. When one was near the window, the boy would pull back the shades and leave the room in a panic, telling his mother what he saw. She would tell him, “It’s alright darling, they won’t hurt you. Just stay quiet dear.” He would drearily lay on his bed. I could tell he wanted to play with the other children. He was lonely, and eventually the solitude showed signs of fatigue in his features. The shades were rarely open now. When they were, I would see no one. The streets were still. There was no noise, except for an occasional bark of an abandoned house pet or the resonating shot of a stray bullet. The boy was always in his room now. He just slept. Sometimes he would face the window and stare dully at the dim light seeping in. I never quite figured out why things changed, but I could tell something was wrong. One day, the boy was gone. There had been a loud commotion the night before, and the boy had not slept in his room that evening. He didn’t bring any of his possessions. Everything lay on the shelves exactly as they were. For a while, I expected him to come back, as if he were on vacation or staying with a friend. I waited and waited, but nothing happened. Nowadays, all I hear is silence. Sometimes though, there are footsteps; synchronized, lifeless footsteps. Through the shades, I can see shadows of large machines. As they pass, they emit a low hum; it never changes pitch or lessens in volume. It is cold, and that noise adds to the chilling nature of the empty room. More often than not, the shadows will be followed by the silhouettes of strange men. They don’t speak, but only carry what I can make out as large pieces of metal as they march. I sit here now, lonely. My leaves are withered, and I’m slowly wasting away as everyday remains the same.

58


Situation Celeste Gibson ’12 59


The Mystical Tale of Wumbo and Mumbo Ubaid Murad ’11

Once upon a time, on the not-so-distant planet of Wumbo, there lived a happy group of tiny little people called Wumbonians. In their time on Wumbo, the Wumbonians had strived to make their world a better place. Each day, every Wumbonian would go out and do his or her own thing: Skilled Wumbonian artists made the world of Wumbo beautiful, while ingenious Wumbonian Wumbologists invented machines to make every Wumbonian life easier. All the while, wise and compassionate Wumbonian politicians made sure Wumbo ran smoothly and efficiently. What’s more, all Wumbonians loved what they did, and did it to the best of their ability. Thanks to the artists, Wumbonians always had something new to look at, and thanks to the politicians, every Wumbonian was treated fairly. Thanks to the Wumbologists, Wumbonians never got sick. One day, the Wumbologists were experimenting with a machine that would allow them to move around Wumbo faster than the fastest Wumbo-mobile. After years of research, everything was set, and Head Wumbologist Wumbo Wumbenstein pulled a tiny lever on the side of the machine. Suddenly, the machine roared to life, and sparks and wind flew everywhere. Other Wumbologists ran away in fear, but Wumbenstein stood fast, marveling at his creation. After the commotion died down, the Wumbologists prepared to test the machine. Wumbenstein was the first one to step through; he had configured the machine to transport him to President Wumbo’s presidential mansion to meet the president and his lovely daughter, Princess Wumbo. Stepping through, he imagined what he was going to say when he reached the Wumbonian White House. He saw himself inside the lavish mansion, shaking the hand of the ever-smiling President Wumbo, while Princess Wumbo draped the Medal of Wumbo around his neck. When he actually stepped through the machine, though, he found himself standing face to face with someone who looked almost exactly like Wumbenstein himself. “Hey! You’re not the president!” shouted an obviously confused Wumbenstein. “I was just about to ask you the same question!” said the non-president. “But I didn’t ask you a question!” retorted Wumbenstein. “Who exactly are you?!” spoke the confused non-president. “I” said Wumbenstein with an elegant flourish, “am Wumbologist Wumbenstein, of Southern Wumbo. I was working on a teleporter to take me to President Wumbo when…” “GAD ZOOKS!” interjected the non-president, “That’s impossible!” “Why?” “Because I,” said the non-president, mimicking Wumbenstein’s flourish exactly, “am Mumbologist Mumbenstein, of Southern Mumbo. I was working on a teleporter to take me to my president too!”

60


“Wow! I do believe I’ve discovered a new backward reality, in which all W’s have been flipped upside-down!” “On the contrary, I have discovered the backward reality, in which all of the M’s have been flipped upside-down!” “Whatever the case, we have to let our respective leaders know!” “Agreed.” Wumbenstein and Mumbenstein arranged a meeting between Presidents Wumbo and Mumbo. After many days and nights of continuous negotiation, they both emerged, arm in arm, smiling broadly. “We have reached a decision,” they said together. “We have decided that Wumbonians and Mumbonians can coexist! Wumbology and Mumbology can mutually benefit each other! From here on out, the worlds of Wumbo and Mumbo will be …coterminous!” And throughout the two realms, there arose a great cheer. Wumbonians everywhere hugged and kissed their Mumbonian brothers and sisters. Mumbonian artists set about teaching their Wumbonian brothers new techniques in music, painting, and sculpting, while Wumbologists started sharing their knowledge with their Mumbologist brethren. Politicians everywhere rejoiced that there were twice as many wise and compassionate people for them to spend time with. A year passed, and both peoples made incredible strides in nearly all fields of research. Thanks to the artists, Wumbo and Mumbo looked and sounded more beautiful than ever; thanks to the scientists, people understood more than they ever had; and thanks to the politicians, everything ran smoother than it ever had. The time came to commemorate the day Wumbonians and Mumbonians met each other. Much like they had on that monumental day so long ago, Presidents Wumbo and Mumbo once again stood together on Wumbo to speak to their people. President Wumbo started them off, “People of Wumbo and Mumbo, the time has come to commemorate that most joyous day, when Wumbologists opened a portal to an alternate reality, to meet the wondrous people of Mumbo!” “All of you have achieved more than either of us could have ever imagined,” added President Mumbo, “and in honor of that joyous day, and the strides we’ve made, I’m proud to announce that from now on, today shall be known as Mumbenstein Day!” At that moment, half of the people in the auditorium gasped in shock. “I thought it was going to be called Wumbenstein Day!” someone shouted from the crowd. It was true, the Wumbonians had agreed to call the day Wumbenstein Day beforehand. They had even made a nice, extravagant plaque to be hung on the Wall of Wumbo that said so. However, the Mumbonians had an equally nice plaque to be hung on their wall. Many people on both sides had no idea what to do. Still, a few opinionated individuals, like President Wumbo, chose to speak up. He angrily yelled at President Mumbo, “What!? How could you say that

61


after all we’ve been through? If anything, it should be called Wumbenstein Day! After all, he is the one who stepped through the portal first.” President Mumbo, now equally incensed, screamed even louder “WHAT? Like that matters! If we hadn’t built our teleporter, Mumbo knows where your so called ‘Wumbologists’ would have been taken!” “Just get out! Get out of my reality!” snarled a barely coherent President Wumbo. And with that, every Mumbonian inside of Wumbo stepped through the teleporter, back to their world. When they got there, they destroyed any remnants of Wumbology. Countless pieces of stunning art, numerous ingenious inventions, and too many meaningful friendships were destroyed that day. Some people questioned the rationale of this plan, but their voices were lost amongst the immense noise of frenzied destruction. President Mumbo spoke to his people: “...And what is with the letter W anyway? It’s not even ONE U, let alone two! Their entire civilization is built on lies and shameless deceit! We are much better off without them...” The scene was the same in Wumbo as well. Perhaps President Wumbo said it best, in one of his “Mumbo Hate Week” speeches: “…I Wumbo. You Wumbo. He/she/me WUMBO. Wumbology: the study of Wumbo. It’s all first grade stuff people! Don’t give in to their MumboJumbo; without the corruption of Mumbo influence, we shall achieve more than we have ever imagined! I see a bright future ahead for Wumbo…” ~ In reality, people on both sides were finding it difficult to cope with the loss of their brethren. Wumbologists no longer had the great minds of Mumbologists to collaborate with and Mumbonian artists could no longer bounce ideas off their Wumbonian counterparts. In fact, with all of the hating Wumbonians and Mumbonians were doing, they no longer had time for anything else. Because of this, everything fell in disrepair on both sides of the teleporter. Contrary to what their leaders were saying, their worlds were experiencing hard times. Then, one day, hope came in the form of a tiny little envelope delivered directly to the door of Princess Wumbo. Her tiny little Wumbo heart immediately skipped a beat. It was from Prince Mumbo. They had secretly been discussing how to repair relations between their two realities, so she was always eager to see what he said. Moreover, she thought he was kind of cute. Dear Princess, I’ve had an epiphany! I know how to make the people of Wumbo and Mumbo see reason! Tomorrow, when the crow caws at midnight, meet me at the dumpster behind The Great Wumborium. Word to your mother, Prince Mumbo

62


The next day, Princess Wumbo skipped all the way to The Great Wumborium. When she got to the dumpster in the back, though, there was no one there. She was about to leave when suddenly, she heard the cold yet alluring voice of a Mumbonian behind her: Roses are red. Violets are blue. I have a gun. Get in the van. ~ Days later, another Mumbonian letter found its way into the Wumbonian White House. Crudely fashioned from magazine cutouts and construction paper, it demanded that President Wumbo publicly apologize to all Mumbonians. It also ordered that he flip the W in his recently ordained “Wumbenstein Day,” or he would never see his little girl again. President Wumbo, torn between the honor of his people and his love for his daughter, called an emergency cabinet meeting. The top Wumbonian artists, Wumbologists, and politicians from across Wumbo were all invited, so that they could help the president figure out what to do. “Obviously, a compromise is in order: I say we either let them have the girl, or we give in to their demands,” said Richard Wumbo, chief political advisor to the president. “Very helpful.” said a sarcastic Leonardo da Wumbo. “What we need to do is learn how the Mumbonians work, and then use it against them.” “Yeah, I like that!” said the intrigued president, “Tell me more.” “Ummm, well ... Actually that’s all I have ...” His voice trailed off in a mumble. Leonardo da Wumbo had a reputation for planning things but never acting on them. President Wumbo was just about to explode in a ball of fiery rage when Wumbenstein chimed in, “Actually, my fellow Wumbologists and I have been working on something. A sort of ‘Mumbo-virus’ that would make them all so weak, we could probably just walk in the front door and rescue the princess.” “Excellent! I want it put into effect immediately!” Wumbenstein started to say “But it’s still experimental… We have no idea how strong it’ll be!” but he was cut off by an irate President Wumbo: “I don’t care! Every minute you spend yapping is another minute Princess Wumbo is in danger!” And so the virus was put into effect. The Mumbonians, who had never dealt with illness in their lives, were easy prey for the virulent plague. Much like Wumbenstein had predicted, within two weeks, President Wumbo was ready to walk right into the Land of Mumbo. He sent his rescue team first and told them to

63


fire a red flare once they rescued the princess. In the meantime, President Wumbo would go pay a visit to the Mumbonian White House, to “renegotiate” with President Mumbo. Afterwards, they would all meet back in Wumbo, and celebrate the Princess’s return. He stepped through the teleporter and was immediately assaulted by the overwhelming stench of decay. Everywhere he looked, the virus had painted death across the landscape. The scene before him was grim. Mumbonian mothers wept at the coffins of their wee Mumbonian babes. Once-great buildings, now shorter than the piles of bodies around them, were vacant reminders of the land that once was. The President felt a twinge of guilt, but it soon passed as he saw a red flare in the distance. Eager to reunite with his daughter, he rushed to the Mumbonian White House, just in time to see a weak and feeble President Mumbo reaching for a big red button on his desk. President Wumbo found that funny, because had a similar button on his own desk back home. He called it his “throw a nuke into the teleporter” button, or TNT button for short. Suddenly, realization dawned upon President Wumbo. He ran to stop President Mumbo from pushing the button, but it was too late. He heard a quiet beep, and seconds later, a dull thud and wave of heat coming from the Mumbology labs. He asked his Mumbonian counterpart what he had done, but it was too late. President Mumbo was no more.

“What’s done cannot be undone. To bed, to bed, to bed!” - William Shakespeare

64


The Old Man and the Sea Jon Brown ’11

Albert continued to walk down the boardwalk keeping his thoughts to himself. Not that anyone would mind, it was his day after all. Any thoughts he expressed would be happily met with the intent ears of his family, proudly watching him. Albert was no longer on the boardwalk, he left that long ago. People could see him walk past, but HE was not there. Albert was at his wedding, standing still as his bride was making her way down the aisle. Albert waits anxiously as she gets closer and closer. His mind creates irrational thoughts and fears that put him into a psychological nightmare. As his bride reaches the alter, his mind creates images of the future that are veiled with self-doubt and second thoughts. Albert is on the edge, about to fall into his nightmare when the veil is lifted. He sees the face of his future and can feel his heart explode. His memories are stained with the image of her at the wedding. He knows that no matter how old they become, her beauty will stay ageless forever. He is lost in her beauty as the world around him changes. The ground below him slowly softens until it becomes sand. He watches as the beautiful green eyes he become lost in start to crest. As the wave hits his feet Albert feels the world around him reverberate. He begins to feel the soft breeze of the ocean as the images of his wife slowly disappears. Albert looks at the ocean and is reminded of the ageless beauty he married long ago.

Santa Monica

Lauren Jackson ’13

65


A Perfect Day in the Life of a Perfect Ballerina Ayana Gray ’11

Today, I am perfect. One two three, one two three… “Heidi, tighter. You’re pliés are much too loose.” She’s right. Of course she’s right, she’s always right. Madame Nosova is from Russia; they’re the best. I begged my mom to let me practice in Russia, but she wouldn’t send me, stupid hateful hag. Never mind, never mind. Focus: today, I am perfect. One two three, one two three… “That’s enough.” Madame Nosova sounds unhappy; I feel sick. “We are finished for today.” If I go home and practice for two more hours, I will have my eight hours for the day in and be perfect. “Heidi,” What, Madame Nosova wants me? “Heidi, come here.” She’s so very beautiful. She is Russian and they are the best. It really is a shame about her foot. The Nutcracker Ballet is coming up. They’re only letting the best audition, maybe— “Heidi, you have done well,” Thank God. “I want you to stay for the elite class when they audition for The Nutcracker Ballet.” What? “You’ll need to stay two hours longer.” What? Yes! Of course I’ll stay, and I’ll get my hours in! But focus: today, I am perfect. One two, three, four, five six, seven, eight. Count step, step, count step, step… They are so good, all of them, especially Natasha Olevsky; she is also Russian and also one of the best. I wish I could be her; she’s so slender and delicate and perfect. All of the boys are in love with her, even the gay ones. They say Jacque Broussard of the New York City Ballet Company is coming to see her soon. Bolshoi Ballet Company, in Russia, is better, but they’re still one of the best companies in the country. Oh, I wish I were you Natasha—what? She’s coming my way. Not possible, she couldn’t possibly want to speak to me— “You are Heidi Dover, no?” Even her voice is perfect. I hope I nodded right. “I have heard of you, you are quite good.” No way! This is not happening to me! But why does she look confused? Why is she laughing? “I am sorry, you just look so young. I thought you were much older.” I don’t understand. Madame Nosova is laughing too. “No, no! You confuse them; this is Heidi, you are thinking of her older sister, Annemarie Dover. She gave up ballet to go to college.” “O-key, I see,” Oh no, Natasha looks bored now. “You silly Americans, you waste your talent. Well, goodbye.” She walks away and doesn’t say anything else to me. She wanted to talk to me because she thought I was Annemarie, my sister... of course. But no, focus; today, I am perfect. One two three, one two three… Jacque Broussard is from the New York City Ballet Company. He is French—not Russian—but almost the best. He will be doing casting for The Nutcracker Ballet; rumor is he’s also looking for girls to invite to the NYCB as well. He is beautiful too. One two three, one two three, skip count back, skip count back

66


Identification

Celeste Gibson ’12

67


and do it perfectly; he only wants the girls who do it perfectly. I am the best, I am perfect; surely he knows it. I am in the elite class and I’m fifteen, clearly superior. He taps Jasmine, Rachel and Nicole on the shoulder—not me. One, two, three, changé. He’s walking back toward my bar again; oh God, he’s watching me. This is my chance. Plié! Changé! Skip and count back! He nods, and touches my shoulder. I can’t believe it! He touched me! I’m going to be casted! One two three, one two three... Mr. Broussard is leaving. He whispers something to Madame Nosova and she glances at me. Me! She nods and he is gone. I am elated. She claps her hands and motions to us. “Stop! We are finished!” This is it.“Those of you who have been tapped on the shoulder...you are free to go home. Those of you who were not, congratulations, you have been selected as cast members in The Nutcracker Ballet. We should also congratulate Natasha; she has been invited to the New York City Ballet Company. ” We clap for Natasha, but I can’t feel it; I can’t feel anything. God please no, no, no. There’s been a mistake. There has to have been a mistake. “Heidi,” Thank God. Madame Nosova wants to speak to me again. She must not have wanted to upset the older girls, yes, that’s it— “Mr. Broussard wanted me to tell you that he admired your talent, but he is concerned about parts of your technique. You are a little heavy on your feet.” Heavy, I’m heavy. “I want you to go home and practice one hour each day ‘til you are light like a swan.” I can’t hear her anymore. I’m too heavy. One two three, one two three… • • • My mother is not beautiful. She’s American, not Russian, and not perfect. “Where have you been? You were supposed to be home two hours ago!” Stupid, hateful hag. Go on, sigh disappointedly like you always do; it’s not like you actually care. I’ll bet you’re on the phone with Annemarie.“Never mind, I’ve got the greatest news from your sister!” Yep. “She’s just made Dean’s list!” I knew it; I knew Barbie would do it. A full ride to Dartmouth wasn’t nearly enough. Being a better ballerina than me was nothing. When I do join the New York City Ballet Company, that Dean’s list won’t amount to a pile of tutus. One two three, one two three… I need to practice, but first, dinner. One, two, three pieces of apple for today, but after that no more; apples are heavy. I cannot be heavy. I have to be perfect. I have failed. I cannot fail. Better, better, I will be better. One two three… I’m better than Annemarie. One two three… One day they’ll all see. One two three… Me, me, me. One day, they’ll all see. Practice makes perfect and tomorrow I will be perfect. One. Two. Three.

68


Skyscrapers

Beckie Prince ’11

Darling, your walls are so tall. And they keep getting taller. And I just feel so small. Trying my hardest to get inside. And I sit and I wait. Hoping that they will crumble. Watching for cracks, Hoping they will appear. But as nothing subsides, My fears are eclipsed, And suddenly I realize: I was handling you with bricks.

Daisies in May

Olivia Woodward ’11 69


These Lovely Cadavers Wells Thompson ’11

“Stare to the Heavens the body parts gather, these lovely cadavers will block out the light. A total eclipse of the heartless my dear, watch the world disappear right in front of your eyes, watch the world disappear right before your eyes.” –Schoolyard Heroes. I wake up. I wake up to a world of dreary black and brown and gray. I wake up to a world that seems consistently moving around me, so much so that the walls crawl and morph. I wake up to a world that is very much not my own. Or at least, it doesn’t seem to be my own. Everything around me is a flowing river; the walls and floor seem to indent themselves at moving pace. It’s indescribable! Everything in the room is mine, but the flowing walls make them fall and bend and break. “Stop it!” I shout. “Can’t you see all of this is mine? Can’t you see what you’re doing? Don’t you realize that I’m even here? Stop moving!” I shout this to nothing as everything around me shatters. All of my belongings break without the faintest sign of acknowledgement. “Answer me!” I shout, but the force continues onward, passing me and my existence by. Slowly, the walls and floor begin to liquidate and my feet begin sinking into the floor. “Help me! Someone, please help!” Little by little, the floor begins consuming me. Frantically, my heart beats against my chest. It wants out, just as I do. I breathe sparsely between cries for help. As it consumes the bottom of my rib cage, I try beating against it with the full weight of my arms. The floor attaches to my fists as though it was living ooze being thrust upward with my hand while still consuming it and forcing it back downward. I look for something, anything to let me know this isn’t real. All I can hear when it reaches my neck is the beating of my own heart; its intervals separate, quick, and unforgiving as if to say, “So it goes. So it goes. So it goes.” I try opening my mouth to scream but find it to be as impossible as screaming in water. Unable to breathe, unable to think, and unable to move, I panic and faint as the floor consumes my eyes and blackness fills my head. I wake up. Still, the world is not my own. Color has given way to black and white. I look around in the dark, turning slowly, feeling tears of fear fall slowly as my breath becomes too quick to be considered consistent. Finally, I stumble across a source of light. Thank God, something! My smile instantly drops as the light reveals a stationary being. It can’t be called human. Its silhouette is all I see: two arms, a head, a torso… nothing else. Its bottom half is completely removed. I stand still, petrified by what I can see and, worse, what I can’t. As I start to slow my breathing, I notice that it too is paralyzed. Frailly, slowly, I lean slightly outward. I take a deep breath. “Are you ok?” It jumps to life at that instant. Turning its head slowly, jaggedly, as if it was a poorly done stop frame image, it reaches its hand out. I fall backward and crawl as fast as I can until I hit a wall. The being in front of me falls forward and, with its arms, pulls itself closer and closer to me. As it crawls toward me, 70


the crying mass too paralyzed to try to move or run or speak, I hear it saying louder with each breath, “trust me, trust me, trust me.” It picks itself up and stands on its hands, looking at my terrified face while all I can see is its bleak shadow. It turns, just as slowly as I had, and grabs what appears to be a pair of legs. It slowly, diligently, and patiently sews itself back together as I watch, too terrified to breathe. I see the needle enter and exit its skin. I hear every grunt and cry of pain. I feel the heat of the black blood that beats the floor with every jagged piercing of its own skin. He’s finally finished, completed, whole, and as he stands up, he faces me. A bright light penetrates through the window and allows me to see the creature’s face. The face that looks back at me, the face that had terrified me, the face that had put itself back together, that face was my own. It turns and walks towards the window that seems infinitely far away, and as it walks in the returned darkness toward the dim light, it begins to sing. Mother Mary won’t you whisper something but what’s past and done? Mother Mary won’t you whisper something but what’s past and done? Why can’t we not be sober? I just want to start this over. Why can’t we sleep forever? I just want to start this over! Its figure blocks the light coming from the window and everything becomes dark. I wake up. This time I am not in a world that is dark, but rather far too bright. I still don’t know if it is my world or not. I work slowly to try and move my neck back and forth. All I can see through my aching eyes is bright, painful light. I would be breathing heavily, but it’s too hard to breathe at all. So instead, I focus only on trying to move. Slowly, I work up enough strength to lift my head up and peer across from me. I see a nurse with a shocked look on her face and hear something I can’t make out until the end. “She’s awake, I swear. Trust me.” My heart pounds and I hear it, the thing, that creature. For the first time in what I would later learn to be fifty years, I made a noise, a scream so piercing the lights flicker and shatter. It’s been two weeks since I woke up, but it all still feels like a nightmare. They tell me I’m a medical miracle, skin and brain still perfectly preserved just as the day I became comatose. Me, the miracle. Me, who has to live knowing no one in this world. Me, whose life passed her by without notice. Me, whose organs are within a few years of atrophy in a body too miraculously young. And so what do I do as the miracle I am? The only thing I really can. I cry. I hope. I pray to a God I’m not sure exists anymore that I’ll wake up from this nightmare. Every now and then I think back to my dream. To the thing with my face that sewed its legs back onto its body. How painful that must have been. I still envy it for walking away after that. I wish I could just walk away from this. What was it that it sang? “I just want to start this over.” I know the feeling. I think I understand now. I know what I need to do to end the pain. I will get past all of this. I’ll survive if it’s the death of me. I’ll sew myself back together and walk away in one piece. I’ll do anything I can to walk away from this place. 71 I wake up.


Lacrymosa

Shamsie Malek ’12 72


The FUll Life and Times of Atlas Charles Prescott IV

Chase Pierce ’11 He was born Atlas Charles Prescott IV. Atlas is a family name passed down from his father and so on, but everybody simply calls him Charlie. Charlie is a little over forty and has already become chubby. His best years are behind him. For now he must put his nose to the grind and work to achieve the next promotion. He is already balding, probably from the intense stress he constantly puts on himself, or from age; it doesn’t really matter. Charlie is lost. Charlie wanders his world aimlessly trying to discover something about himself that he can’t quite comprehend. Yet it is futile. For his world is a square cubicle, four white walls with Garfield calendars and post-it notes that remind him of meetings of the utmost importance; these four walls have engulfed him. He stares at a computer for eight hours a day, typing incessantly about corporate matters, responding to e-mails, creating projects, and updating his Facebook, only taking breaks to eat lunch, preferably Rally’s, his personal favorite. At 5:00 Charlie will drive home; he sees planes flying overhead to unknown destinations. He wonders to himself, “Why would anyone get on one of those damn things?” He sees no reason for travel, he finds it dangerous. He will arrive at his house at around 5:30 to 6:00 depending on the traffic and weather. Charlie’s apartment has three rooms: a living room/kitchen, a bedroom, and a bathroom. There’s nothing too special about it because nothing shows who he is. The living room’s center piece is a poster of Def Leppard; there is a futon, a lazy boy recliner, and a rather odd table all facing a very large and very fancy flat screen TV. On top of the table are few empty bottles of beer, an ashtray filled with cigarette butts, an unfinished TV dinner, and a greasy Rally’s bag. The table has one large leg. This leg has been hand carved into a man holding up large ball. Or at least that’s what Charlie sees it to be. To him there is nothing special about it; it was just given to him in his father’s will. Charlie studies the man as he arrives at his apartment. That’s what he calls it, his apartment, others call theirs home, but home was somewhere else, somewhere he could not find. The man is strong, strong enough to hold up such a large ball, but he struggles under the weight of it, Charlie can see it. But as soon as the man passes through his mind, it leaves. He sits comfortably in his lazy boy recliner, the apple of his eye. He opens up the Rally’s bag and begins to eat his leftovers. He then proceeds to turn on his marvelous television. On it, he watches men and women living out in the wilderness, doing daring feats, and traveling to wild unknown places, all of these activities hold potential danger. He sees these images from his lazy boy recliner and thinks it absurd to take such ridiculous risks. “What trashy television this is,” he thinks in his head as he quickly changes the channel to a show about a pregnant teenager. That night, Charlie sleeps; he can hear the train blow by his apartment traveling to some unknown location. He has seen hobos jump into empty box-

73


cars. “What idiots, if they don’t kill themselves trying to get on the train, then where are they going to go? I mean, what’s different here from wherever that train is going? They’re still going to be homeless, just in a different location,” he thinks to himself. That’s all he ever thinks too. Charlie never dreams when he sleeps. Well, he might, but it’s never anything worth remembering. He has always considered himself a “man without imagination.” You think as I once did that you may be getting deeper into Charlie’s conscience, but don’t hold your breath; it gets no deeper than this. Atlas Charles Prescott IV will die one day. In 70 years or 7 months, it really doesn’t matter. He will wake up in the morning and continue his daily routine. One day he might get that promotion, he might get a bigger apartment with that paycheck a bigger TV! Maybe even a house, but he will never get a home; he’ll run out of time. But for Atlas, time is and always will be meaningless. It’s just him and his table with a man carrying nothing more than a ball, or at least that’s all Atlas ever see’s it to be. This is the full story of his world, all that really matters. It’s all Atlas will ever see.

“Only the mediocre are always at their best.” - Jean Giraudoux

74


Relations

Celeste Gibson ’12

75


The Whisper of Words Kylie Chandler ’11

“ ‘Well, Watson, what do you make of it?’ Holmes was sitting with his back to me, and I had given him no sign of my occupation. ‘How did you know what I was doing? I believe you have eyes in the back of your head.’ ‘I have, at least, a wellpolished, silver-plated coffee-pot in front of me,’ said he. ‘But, tell me, Watson, what do you make of our visito-…” “ ‘It’s like music-far-away music,’ said the Mole, nodding drowsily. ‘So I was thinking,’ murmured the Rat, dreamful and languid. ‘Dance music−the lilting sort that runs on with-out a stop−but words in it too−it passes into words and out of them again−I catch them at intervals−then it is dance and music once more, and then nothing but the reeds’ soft thin whisperi-…” “Mary looked at it, not really knowing why the hole was there, and as she looked she saw something almost buried in the newly turned soil. It was something like a ring of rusty iron or brass, and when the robin flew up into a tree nearby she put out her hand and picked the ring up. It was more than a ring, however; it was an old key which looked as if it had been buried a lon-…” The library was silent, save the crackling of the flames that danced in the fireplace. The tick-tock of the clock sounded gently atop the mantle. But then something very strange happened. Snatches of whispering could be heard over the dull roar of the fire; conversations that sounded oddly… familiar. Poetical words, beautiful phrases echoed almost imperceptibly throughout the room. Almost. Every corner, every shelf, something different was being said, a different story being told. Over here, there was a family conversing at the breakfast table. They were speaking of a fellow who had just let the manor at Netherfield Park. Bingley was his name, and with him traveled his sister and another man, Mr. Darcy… Over there, a curious portrait stood tall in a dimly lit and poorly kept room. Gazing at it with admiration mingled with−was the disgust in his face− stood a young and beautiful man. As he gazed at the portrait of himself he couldn’t help but be awestruck at the incredulity of the situation. For years, he had remained the young man that had sat in Basil’s studio so very long ago, his face unmarred by age or circumstance. His evil deeds however had been etched on… The story was the same between every row. The walls were lined with them. Stories- some true, some not. Maps of far away places and kingdoms of old. Fairy tales and sonnets. Poems and plays. All of them different. Each of them unique to the hand that created it. Though the contents are most important, they each wear a different garment. Most are made off fine leather and silks, but there are those that are special. There are some that sport ivory and gold, tortoise shell, silver, and wooden jackets inlaid with mother of pearl. There is one that is encrusted with amethysts, and on the back displays a carving of a human skull made of bone. Some jackets contain marks from previous owners in their front pockets; others a piece of manuscript well-kept in transparent sleeves. Many have been illuminated by only the most skilled of artist. A few have paintings upon their fore edge−a labor of love and patience to be sure. The hours upon hours of work that have gone into these elaborate outfits−all created by hand−do not go unnoticed or unappreciated. There are but a few people willing and able to search for these. An extensive collection is rare to be found and is expensive to be sure, but the thrill of holding a piece of history in one’s hand that is centuries old is unmatched by nearly anything.

76


Anthropologie

Lauren Jackson ’13 77


Onions: Absurdity in a Single Act Eric Zheng ’11 WRITER MUSE ONIONS –

CAST OF CHARACTERS

OLD INNOCENT SOLDIER REVOLUTIONARY

BASKET DEUS EX MACHINA EVERYMAN Note: This play was inspired by true events. Although there has previously been released another play of a similar name, that work was based upon this play and presents a secondhand account of the remarkable events detailed here. Literati and other connoisseurs of fine literature are urged to replace the previous work with this, the authentic and officially-licensed story of ONIONS. Onions: Absurdity in A Single Act Act I: A darkened stage. The sole illumination is a spotlight that shines upon a WRITER. He sits at a simple desk, a black fountain pen motionless in his hand. Several sheets of blank, glaringly white paper sit on the desk, along with various other baubles. The WRITER seems to be engaged in a staring contest with the paper. The WRITER blinks and loses. He puts his pen down, plays with a bauble briefly, then picks his pen back up. The WRITER goes for a rematch with the paper, and loses once again. The WRITER fidgets uneasily in his chair. He begins to nervously twirl his pen around in his hand, sending little splotches of ink flying. He has writer’s block. The WRITER rummages around in his pants pocket, looking for inspiration. He finds only a piece of string. The WRITER looks in his shirt pocket and finds a tattered picture of his current “muse”. As he begins to pray to the icon for inspiration, a disgruntled audience member (MUSE) stands… WRITER (mumbling): O Muses, please grant me, thy humble and lowly servant, with divine inspiration… MUSE: Take this!!! [throws an onion at WRITER]

78


The onion strikes the WRITER in the head just as he finishes his plea. Inspiration strikes! WRITER: Aha! Onions! [muttering to himself]… in a basket… left behind… The WRITER begins to scribble frantically on the blank paper before him. He speaks as he writes, the events coming to pass as he describes them. His voice takes on a peculiar quality of divinity, as if he were some minor deity bringing forth his own small Creation. WRITER: <A darkened stage, except there’s a spotlight on a…erm… crate-baskety… thing. Indistinct voices in the background, followed by the metallic clang of a door slamming and the sound of a truck driving away.> OLD ONION: [OLD speaks wheezily, at a measured, resigned pace; his voice has just a hint of a whine] Well, this seems like the end of the line for me… not quite what I’d hoped for, left forgotten by the side of the road, but it’ll… INNOCENT ONION: [INNOCENT has a high-pitched, almost childlike voice.] Whaaaaaat? They lost us? How could they lose us? [Begins to cry] SOLDIER ONION: They abandoned us here?! So that’s how they want it to end? Well then, they can try their damnedest to get us eaten by whatever vermin are roaming around here at night. I don’t know about you, but I’m getting out of here. I’m not going to get eaten! INNOC: [blubbering] I don’t wanna get eaten… I’m too young to die! OLD: Well, then, go ahead and leave me. My time is done. REVOLUTIONARY ONION: Nay, my friend, do not lose hope! We are many, and together we can overcome anything in our path! Onions, unite! SOLDIER: A COMMUNIST! Thank your nonexistent deities that I’ve been wounded in glorious combat against your vile kind, or else I would – INNOC: [interrupts] A Communist onion right on top of me? Oh, what have I done to deserve this? [in sing-song voice] Please, forgive my sins; please, forgive my sins; please, forgive… [trails off, mumbling indistinctly] REV: [indignantly] I’m simply a Revolutionary, thank you very much. None of that ridiculous economic stuff for me. All I want is to unify the great race of onion kind, not to overturn all of society. Think of me as a “community organizer,” if you will! The WRITER, concerned that he’s losing control of his cast, attempts to calm things. WRITER: [diffidently] Er… onions? Guys? Onion-guys? He is ignored. SOLDIER: Your fancy wordplay hasn’t fooled me – I know who you really are! We – I need to get out here, but mark my words, if I catch you doing anything funny, there’ll be hell to pay! WRITER: [waving his left arm – his right continues to write] Hey! Doooo yooooouuuu heaaaaarrrr meeeeeee? Could you, like, caaaaaaaalm doooooooown? INNOC: Hell? I’m in Hell, I know I’m in Hell, I know I shouldn’t have hugged that

79


cute onion two years ago! Now I’m trapped here with all these other disfigured, smelly, unclean onions… [hysterics] SOLDIER: [roars] Who are you calling disfigured, missy? WRITER: [using a bauble as a gavel] Order! Order, please! REV: You would do well to calm down and stay quiet. It’s not like you can talk about being smelly as an onion yourself. OLD: Yes, indeed. You’re ruining my retirement. INNOC: [wails] NOBODY LIKES ME!!!! [sobs quietly] WRITER: [bellows] ORDER!!! He is still ignored. REV: [mercilessly] Fine, then. You can get eaten first. If nobody likes you, nobody’ll miss you when you’re gone. [INNOC whimpers] With all due seriousness, we really must get out of here before we do get eaten. The WRITER slumps onto his desk in frustration. Curiously, his right hand keeps writing. OLD: Don’t bother with me; save the younger ones. I’m – REV: Nonsense! We’re bringing you out, too. So, onions, a plan: I’ll leave first, to – SOLDIER: Aha! To abandon us here while you contact your Communist overlords! I’ve caught you red-handed, you dirty red godless Commie! At the word “godless”, the WRITER raises his head again, suddenly hopeful again. OLD: Let me go first. If I get eaten in an ambush, it won’t matter. REV: Please, onions! Very well, our distinguished veteran can go first, then Miss Hysterical and Mr Depressed Pensioner – OLD: I’m not depressed! REV: Fine – Mr. Pensioner – followed by myself. Is that alright? Can we get ready to go now? WRITER: [desperately creating once more] <A booming voice fit to be the Voice of God speaks. It speaks deliberately, its voice reverberating throughout the small stage.> VOICE: Nobody is going anywhere. You’re onions. You can’t move. INNOC: It’s Judgment Day! Oh, no! I’ll be sent to perdition forever and ever and ever! REV: Quiet! Sir, who are you to say these dreadful things? OLD: It’s obvious, isn’t it? A higher power than all of us. SOLDIER: What do you think about those “nonexistent” deities now, eh? REV: I don’t care if he’s a nonexistent deity or an existent deity or if he’s a deity at all. We still need to leave before we get eaten. VOICE: Nobody’s getting eaten either, except those that dare defy my will. I am the Basket, the One True Prophet of Our Lord the AUTHOR. Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair! Beat.

80


SOLDIER: See! God exists, and His Prophet is speaking to us! REV: [doubtful] Last I checked, God was neither named Shelley nor Ozymandias nor Author. Though one never knows, what with new religions popping up all the time… WRITER: [seizing the moment before it passes] HEY!!! CAN YOOOOOUUUUU HEEEAAAAARRRRRR MEEEEEEEEEEEE????!!!!! REV: [continuing]… but honestly, what kind of deity names his prophet “Basket”? If anything, that just shows poor taste. [pause] I say, did anyone else hear something? OLD: That’s just the girl praying in a corner. The WRITER slumps back on his desk, all hope lost. BASKET: Look, O onions, for I, the Prophet of AUTHOR, shall now perform my first miracle! For now, I grant you the power of hearing!!! Beat. REV: We can already hear just fine. OLD: Except me. I’m deaf. WRITER: [mumbling to himself] If you’re deaf, how have you been talking this whole time? SOLDIER: [startled] Who was that? REV: Not me. OLD: I haven’t taken to talking to myself yet. SOLDIER: Well, she’s still crying… so who was that? WRITER: Who, me? SOLDIER: Yes, you – who are you? WRITER: Er… that’s a good question… BASKET: Silence, cretin! Do not pester Our Lord AUTHOR with meaningless questions! WRITER: [slightly taken aback] Erm, yes… that’s me… I’m the author. So you can hear me now? REV: I think that’s obvious. WRITER: [brightens] Well, that’s just terrific! Listen, I need to fill eighteen more pages in a couple more hours for a writing assignment, and you guys’ve got a good thing going with all that arguing. So, could you, like, do me a huge favor and get back to arguing? Beat. REV: [incredulous] You want us to waste our time arguing instead of escaping the animals, all so that you can finish your assignment that you left till the last minute? WRITER: Wait - I didn’t say that! BASKET: SILENCE! Our Lord AUTHOR has spoken! Let there be arguments! REV: What?! Never, you puny “prophet” of a pathetic poet!

81


SOLDIER: You dare call God a “pathetic poet”?! Forty-seven minutes of arguing ensue, in which the REV commits blasphemy ninety-four times; the SOLDIER calls upon AUTHOR to smite REV with divine fury thirty-one times; INNOC has twenty-nine hysterical fits; and OLD takes a forty-sixminute nap… REV: Wait – where’s the Pensioner? I haven’t heard from him for some time… he hasn’t died, has he? WRITER: He’s sleeping. You’re all stuck on stage, but I couldn’t handle a fourway conversation any longer. I had to get rid of some of you. That’s why he’s taking a nap – and incidentally, that’s also why the girl’s crying in a corner again. SOLDIER: But if you want to get rid of some of us, why didn’t you just kill them? OLD: But of course! If I’m sleeping, I can always return at an opportune time – but if I’m dead, I stay dead. I might rot though… probably will, given all this moisture… REV: If you’re such an Almighty Author, couldn’t you just resurrect him? BASKET: BLASPHEMER!!! Our Lord AUTHOR does not respond to your petty challenges! He operates in mysterious ways far beyond our comprehension! WRITER: I don’t really like the idea of zombie onions. Long beat. WRITER: Erm… anywaaaaaaay… I should probably have some character development. It’ll help my grade. It might even be fun for you guys, too! The WRITER promptly embarks upon an odyssey of plot and character development, featuring a pair of saccharin-sweet vignettes showing the growth of brotherly love between REV and SOLDIER. BASKET is positioned as an oppressive, unyielding force for fatalism, and suggestive hints about the origins of INNOC’s self-loathing and OLD’s nihilism are dropped with increasing bluntness. Similarities between their stories emerge like pimples on an adolescent’s face until finally, a denouement unfolds… REV: [to OLD] Look – you’re not going to rot. If you were to rot, you would have rotted long long ago by now. OLD: But we’re all going to rot eventually – it’s the one sure thing in life. BASKET: You’re not going to rot. You’re staying here forever. SOLDIER: See! Even HE says you’re not going to rot! You might as well get used to being here and cheer up a bit. OLD: [wistfully] I was cheerful once, when I was young. But I lost my best friend in the war, and when I got back, my girlfriend’d gone and married a local drunk. What’s the point of being happy? The only happiness worth anything is the one at the bottom of a liquor bottle. REV: [to self] The war again? Married a drunk? No, it can’t be… [aloud] You can

82


still hope, my friend. Hope to leave this place, hope for a better life. OLD: Bah! Do you know why we’re here? We all have our sins, not just the girl! One night, they found the harlot and her drunkard murdered in their car. Horribly mutilated, they said – never seen anything like it. They picked me up, drunk, nearby, all covered in blood. INNOC: The blood! Oh, the blood! But I didn’t do it, I know I didn’t, it wasn’t me, I swear it wasn’t me – SOLDIER: How dare you mention that! Look what you’re doing to her! OLD: They said it was a clear case, obvious motive, no alibi, perfect evidence. A quick trial, a guilty verdict, life in prison, solitary confinement. REV: [in horror, realization dawning] No, no… it can’t be. The same? How can they all be the same? Are we – am I – how else do we have the same stories? OLD: You see, it’s obvious. We’re here to stay, and rightly so. Beat. WRITER: [clapping – with one hand] Bravo!!! Bravo!!! That must be my finest scene yet, if I dare say so myself. REV: Says the man who neglected his work to the last second. BASKET: Our Lord AUTHOR defines the nature of time himself! His work is done when he wishes it to be done! It is not for us to criticize him, nor to question his workings! REV: Well, in that case, I will not question Author’s decision to make us all different facets of some creepy jealous lovesick maybe-murderer, nor will I criticize his decision to flatten my very distinct personality into the single quality of “Hope”. As for naming me “Hope,” I will only point out that my fellow onions have been named “Pensioner,” “Lieutenant,” and “girl.” SOLDIER: At least you got a proper name, unlike “girl”. She’s still crying in the corner, by the way. Whatever happened to “character development,” Almighty AUTHOR? OLD: And I’m still a nihilist. Fat chance I’m going to get any character development either. WRITER: Well, guys, I’d love to develop you further – I really would – but I’m running short on time. So, I’m going to have to send in a deus ex machina… [speaking with the voice of creation] <A large, glittery object emitting numerous balls of light descends from the sky. It is the DEUS EX MACHINA.> DEUS EX MACHINA: There’s not much time left, and there’s quite a bit of plot development left to go. [sparkly fireworks] Ta da! So, the onions have realized that they’re all the same person/onion. After some horror and uncharacteristic despair, REV has recovered with the aid of SOLDIER and convinced OLD that maybe they’re not guilty after all. INNOC has recovered from her hysterics somewhat and is back to her original idealistic self. Together, they reunite back into their original, whole self! Yay! Now, back to your regularly scheduled programming! BASKET: Behold the glorious works of Our Lord AUTHOR!!! Verily, he makes miracles beyond our comprehension!!!

83


REV: [mutters to self] That’s, what – three deity-level entities now? A prophet with the “Voice of God,” a “god from the machine,” and an incompetent minor deity? [snorts] WRITER: Move along, move along, everyone – time for the finale! [resuming the voice of creation] <A mostly darkened stage. The walls are gray and empty; a simple cot is against one wall. A barred door is on the opposite wall. The only source of light comes from a single square of bright light that projects a shadow: the “basket” from the previous act has become obvious prison bars. A single man, EVERYMAN, dressed in a prison uniform, lies face-up in the middle of the cell, his face directly under the light. His eyes are open, staring up into space. The door opens rustily, screechingly, finally opening completely with a metallic clang that sounds oddly familiar. A prison guard enters.> GUARD: [GUARD sounds oddly similar to BASKET, but as a mere mortal.] Sir? Sir? WRITER: <EVERYMAN does not answer at first before slowly turning to look at GUARD.> GUARD: Sir, your time is up. You’re free. WRITER: <EVERYMAN thinks for a second before slowly breaking out into a grin.> GUARD: Get your things. You’re leaving in ten minutes. EVERYMAN: Free? GUARD: Yes, you’re free. Come on, there’s not much time. EVERYMAN: Free! [with childlike wonder] I’m free! I can leave, go back home… WRITER: <The walls fade away into the back as a dazzling white light fills the stage, spreading from the original square. The bars, too, fade, leaving just EVERYMAN and GUARD and the outline of the door. EVERYMAN steps slowly through the door…> EVERYMAN: FREE! WRITER: Aaaaand cut! That’s great, thank you, everybody – twenty-five pages, and just in time! So long, it’s been great working with you! The WRITER stops writing and begins gathering his papers. EVERYMAN: Wait, who am I? WRITER: You’re Everyman. EVERYMAN: Who is…? WRITER: Every man. EVERYMAN: That doesn’t make sense. WRITER: It doesn’t need to. That was the end of the play – the more questions I leave, the better! The WRITER begins organizing the baubles. INNOC: Wait!!! Where are you going? WRITER: Class – I’ve only got three minutes left!

84


Simultaneous outcry: INNOC: But all I’ve done is cry and wail! Don’t I get to do anything else? I don’t even have a nam– OLD: And of course all I’ve done is moan about my imminent demise… and it does seem imm– SOLDIER: You can’t just leave them like that! I’ll find a way to fight you, just you wait– REV: A fine sort of Author you are, leaving characters half-finished like this! We matter, we are imp– BASKET: Heretics! I, the One True Prophet, am eternally– WRITER: I’d love to, but I really must go. The WRITER stands, and the voices suddenly cease. The voice of the BASKET echoes faintly before tapering off… BASKET: –faithful to My Lord the AUTHOR… The spotlight on the WRITER goes out.

“Man’s ‘progress’ is but a gradual discovery that his questions have no meaning.” -Antoine de Saint-Expery 85


A Fat Cat Audrey Dunn â&#x20AC;&#x2122;11 Day 510 Morning. It is the 510th magnificent day of my feline existence, and I find it necessary to bring you, my fine audience, up to speed on my life, a life filled with nothing but magnificent days. Let us start with my humble beginnings. I was born on the most gluttonous day of the year, a national holiday based on celebrating one thing: eating, and eating a lot. My Thanksgiving birth set the precedent for all of my remaining days. I was the largest of my litter, born with extra kitten chub that my poor brothers and sisters were not blessed with. My insulating blubber allowed me to become independent sooner than my siblings, and as a result, my solitary eating habits formed very early on. My fur soon became slick and luxurious, lovingly licked clean every day. I was the epitome of beauty: a ball of soft fat rolling around in playful delight amongst my skinnier and thus less loveable siblings. Because of these accomplishments, I was astonished that I was not the first among my litter to find a master. Who wouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want such a cherub to take home as his or her own? One by one, I was shocked to see my fellow furry creatures chosen, and myself left behind. Then, on my 50th magnificent day, my soul mate walked in the door. It was a day like any other; I was stretched out, admiring a newly formed fat roll when I looked up to see that indeed I could not look up. Why not, you, my wondrously curious audience asks? A mountain of pale, doughy flesh blocked my view. A gloriously overweight man was sitting directly in front of me; I noticed crumbs on his shirt, and a Cheetos stain on his pants. I attempted to lock eyes with him, but found that I could not see above his giant torso, including a thick roll of fat exposed beneath his too tight tee-shirt. I climbed the height of his lard, perched upon his gelatinous chest. I looked into his eyes, and it was love. Day 515 Late Afternoon Upon waking from my much-needed early afternoon repose, I stretch my stubby legs as far as they will go, admiring the fact that I cannot see them over my stomach mass. There is much to be done before Master gets home from work: a yarn string to be watched but never touched, a window to be looked out of, some more beauty sleep from all that hard work, and most importantly, two cans of fish to be consumed. This might be hard, considering the half bag of dry food I ate earlier, as well as all of the catnip Master surreptitiously placed around the house for my enjoyment. I am up for the challenge, though. How I do love my Master. Sometimes I feel as if I am a disappointment to him, because I will never attain his voluptuous size, try as I might. His eating habits are awe-inspiring: after his daily snack of Sun Chips and Doritos, he be-

86


gins preparation for dinner, a veritable feast of Chinese food or Supreme Pizza, depending on the day, delivered right to our front door. After making the call, he microwaves an appetizer of Ramen noodles. After some incessant meowing for food of my own (because I obviously cannot afford to fall behind in this race of nutrition inhalation), he feeds me my third and fourth cans of wet cat food. Within minutes, the intoxicating deliciousness of meaty chicken and beef is in my stomach. Master rewards my good work with a tasty morsel of his Oriental Ramen. Directly following dinner, we lounge on the crumb-covered sofa watching Big Cat Diaries on BBC, a favorite of ours. During the program, Master lovingly massages my ever-expanding fat rolls, and in return I nuzzle my head into his pudge; I see these actions as the greatest signs of affection between man and cat. Following the program, we share a carton of Ben and Jerry’s. Day 528 Lunchtime On this 528th magnificent day of my magnificent life, Master has bestowed upon me the greatest gift possible, a trip to Burger King. It is the Lord’s Day today, so Master doesn’t have work. Whenever he doesn’t have work, he always likes to celebrate by gorging on fast food. Upon his homecoming from Krispy Kreme for breakfast, he fed me my Fancy Feast on top of a leftover donut. After his weekly workout of Wii bowling, we each rested for several hours. Now, we are on the road—me curled up in the front seat, too exhausted to watch out the window for more than five-minute intervals, and him sucking on a fat cigar, ashing into the same tray he grabs his chips out of. He orders two number twos, an extra large Coke, and three extra orders of large fries. He gives one order to me. He pulls into a parking spot, and we stuff ourselves with the manna from Heaven. Ten minutes later, our bellies are full, our waists are thick, and our hearts are content. We are obese, and we are proud. To express my love for Master, I creep onto his flabby chest and lick his greasy chins clean.

87


Cold Shoulder Jason Guo ’11

Winter arrived quickly this year. Like a frightened child, the crippled man clung to his bed sheets. The sound of marble heels grew closer and closer to him. “Good morning. Here’s today’s medicine” said the overshadowing nurse. On the extended silver platter lay two oddly colored pills. The old man grabbed both without much expression, proceeding to swallow each with equal flatness. “Thanks, Alfred. Kelsey Mayweather called today saying she would come by, hopefully around noon. If not today, then tomorrow. It’s terribly hard to get around with the icy roads lately.” “Excellent,” he replied. “I haven’t seen her for months now. I was starting to think she didn’t like coming to see me anymore.” “I’m sure she does.” “Maybe, out of pity.” “Oh come on Alfred. “Please nurse, I am sick, not delusional.” “It’s your choice.” “ You’re absolutely right.” It wasn’t Alfred’s own choice to stay hospitalized despite his great post-accident recovery. He had been the victim of a drunk driver several years ago. He’d lost nearly all his eyesight and much of his lower body was paralyzed, as a result of the accident. “Nurse, would you finally fix that old clock up there? It’s been sped up for days now.” “Of course Alfred, I’ll have it done right away.” “I appreciate it.” The old cripple spent the rest of his day waiting on Kelsey. ~~~ Alfred was tired of the hospital. Not of the service – it was wonderful – but tired of the wires, the medicine, and the never-ending EKG pulse which slowly decayed his mind. Outside, the weather became even worse. He assumed Kelsey was busy with her college work – she hadn’t visited the day she called nor the day after. It was no matter, for today, his daughter Samantha would be visiting. Samantha was a successful florist who owned a local floristry by the bay. She visited multiple times a week, often bringing gifts of flowers or sweets. This Wednesday, she brought an assortment of tropical plants. The old man had little care for them, like usual; he cared more about spending time with his only daughter. “You know Sammy, I am hardly fond of all these pills the hospital gives me. They make me weak. Weak, thirsty, tired…” Samantha set the wild flowers by her father’s bedside. “Dad, you know they just want the best for you. Do keep with the medicine, you look like you’re making progress already.” Alfred winced, “Perhaps, I can’t see how so though.” “I can. You look great.”

88


“Fair enough. If my angel says I’m doing better, then I’m doing better. It’s hard to trust these doctors when they can’t even do the simplest of tasks for you.” “What do you mean?” “I asked them to fix that damn clock up there five days ago, and they still haven’t done anything with it.” “Oh they’re probably busy, dad. I’ll let them know of it when I leave.” Alfred kept his two pale hands clasped around his daughter’s. The two talked nonstop until Samantha was told to leave after visitor hours. ~~~ Kelsey visited the next morning while Alfred was still sleeping. The old man woke up to a fresh batch of lilies and daisies as well as a good dozen of colored balloons. “Rise and shine, Mr. Oppenheimer!” “Good morning, Kelsey. You look rather lively this morning.” “Why, I do my best” she responded. Kelsey Mayweather was by far the most energetic being the old man had company with. She would often bring a guitar when she visited to serenade him. Sometimes a classical novel to read to him. “Look, I brought a vase I bought from Maya last month. It’s beautiful, eh?” “Oh yes, gorgeous.” Alfred loved to collect and study ancient artifacts. At home, he had a large collection of unique pots, statues, and ornaments. He pointed at a figure on the vase, “You see this man dying here? He shows the link between the world we live in and the supernatural world. The Mayan thought of life and death in cycles. Repeating cycles.” “Neat, I never knew that.” Alfred and Kelsey conversed for hours on end. It was almost sundown by the time Kelsey began to leave. “Wow, time really flies,” she commented. “You’re certainly correct about that.” “Shall we rendezvous again next week, Mr. Oppenheimer?” “Sure, if your schedule permits. I wouldn’t want your studies to be affected by my burden.” “It’s no problem.” She looked around the room for the time. “Have they still not fixed your clock?” The old man shook his head, “Unfortunately not. It’s as if they do everything I request but this one thing.” “Well then, it looks like I’ll have to bring you one next time I come by!”, Kelsey beamed. “That’s not needed Kelsey, my daughter asked them to fix it just yesterday.” “I’ll see you soon then.” “Have a good night.” ~~~ “Dr. Disum, Alfred Oppenheimer is ready for his semi-annual checkup.

89


Here are his vaccinations, family history, blood transfusions…” “Great, thank you nurse. If you’ll leave those in the folder on my desk I’ll review them later.” Dr. Disum finished his afternoon meal and then quickly entered and proceeded to knock twice on Alfred’s door. “Come in” a dry voice responded. “Hello Mr. Oppenheimer, I’m Dr. Disum, the new associate doctor of this clinic. How are you?” The old man positioned his bed uprightly. “All right, doctor, yourself?” “Just fine, thank you. Let us take your blood pressure.” The doctor set aside his clipboard and unraveled his stethoscope. “ How have you been feeling lately?” “Better than before, although I still feel ill taking these medications.” Disum nodded while scribbling on his clipboard. “Good, good. Have you been sleeping well?” “Yes.” “Any loss in appetite?” “Somewhat.” “Any visitors recently?” “My good friend Kelsey came by yesterday. My daughter also came by to bring me a few things the other day.” The doctor finished writing and set his clipboard back down. “Very well, I’ll check in with you later today, I’ve got a few more incoming patients to tend to. Do you have any more concerns Mr. Oppenheimer?” “I do. Would you please fix that old clock up there?” “What’s wrong with it?” “It’s over-sped.” The doctor glanced up and then back down at his leather wristwatch, perplexed. “It looks accurate to me.” “That’s odd, it has been broken for a good three weeks.” “I assure you it works perfectly. If it didn’t I would have it replaced right away.” “Thank you doctor.” “My pleasure, Mr. Oppenheimer.” Dr. Disum turned away in search of the nurse. “Nurse Mayweather, I did not know you were so close to Alfred.” “I am – somewhat. He acts strange sometimes, speaking of the oddest things. This morning he thanked me for bringing him artifacts, books, music… things that never happened.” The doctor raised an eyebrow and curiously skimmed through Alfred’s well organized background folder. Born on July 2nd, 1947.

90


in 1984.

Raised in a Christian background in Westfield, Virginia. Divorced once because of alcohol abuse. No current medications. Daughter Samantha Oppenheimer died from allergic poison ivy reaction

â&#x20AC;&#x153;Dreams are true while they last, and do we not live in dreams?â&#x20AC;? - Alfred, Lord Tennyson

91


I didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have the time to tie them

92

Audoin Ajarrista â&#x20AC;&#x2122;11


Nervous Wreck Mary Kate Powers ’11 Anxiety-noun. distress or uneasiness of mind caused by fear of danger or misfortune. It’s all in the mind. Every last bit of it. Living with anxiety is waking up in the morning to immediate thoughts, such as what kind of tragedy could occur that day, and what if it happens to you? Living with anxiety is climbing into bed every night exhausted, but not being able to sleep for fear that you will never wake up. Living with anxiety is going with your friends to see a movie, but you cannot make it to the last scene. The theatre is simply too dark and still for you to feel safe, and the subject matter of the film is too upsetting for you to handle. Your friends worry about you daily, and they will learn from experience what it will take to calm you down when you have an attack. A panic attack, that is. It can be triggered by sudden bad news, certain atmospheres, or the things that you see. It can even come out of nowhere. Night time is the worst, for it is then that you are the most still and settled, the perfect time for ugly thoughts to run endlessly through your head. You are lying in bed trying to sleep when you feel a sudden movement in your chest, stomach, or head. The first thought that comes to your mind is that something is terribly wrong with you, and that you simply will not make it to a hospital in time. You get up and run to the bathroom, sitting on the floor in front of the toilet, knees to your chest. Your body starts to tremble uncontrollably. You begin to sweat profusely. You lift your feet off the ground to find a moist outline on the floor underneath them. You then begin to feel sick. You heave multiple times, but nothing is regurgitated. Suddenly, you stop shaking. Everything is still. The panic attack has run its course, and has abruptly stopped. You ask yourself, “Did that really just happen to me? What’s wrong with me? Why couldn’t I stop it?” It is as if something had crawled inside of you and set off an alarm that could not be turned off. You are finally able to go to sleep, but your head is still spinning from what has just occurred. You wake up feeling much better in the morning, more optimistic. As the day progresses, the stress piles on. By the early evening, you start to feel it again. That feeling in your stomach that refuses to excuse itself takes charge once more. You are unable to focus on a word that your friends say; they can see it in the expression on your face. What if something is really wrong with you this time? What if you really do die? Your friends start to surround you and ask if you are okay. At first, you try to ignore it and pretend that nothing is wrong. Then the shaking starts. You break down in front of them, for that is the only way to let everything go and make yourself feel any better. It has become a cycle for you. Although they are a challenge, mornings are the best part of your day because they are the busiest. As afternoon

93


progresses, so does the nervousness, the anxiety, the constant fear of what is to come. You are even told by multiple physicians that there is nothing wrong with you and given medication to help you, but the fear inside your head will never leave. You are trapped by your own thoughts, and you are distracted from normal daily activities. All you want is to calm down, to feel safe and protected. You want the ability to relax and stop worrying so desperately that you feel hopeless, as if you have completely lost control. You pull your bedsheets up to your neck for another night of what you hope will include sleep. You force your eyes shut as you pray to God for the strength to keep everything that is negative out of your mind for a peaceful slumber. There are several moments where you think you are beginning to panic, but your medication has allowed you to reverse the feelings. You finally drift off for at least a few hours before a new day arrives. You realize that there are so many worse situations that you could be involved in that may actually lead to tragedy and have for others, but you cannot seem to recognize the fact that you are healthy and appreciate the present. You are a victim of anxietyâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;the most frightening mental disorder one can possess; an evil force that controls the mind; a destroyer of happiness and relaxation; a distraction from what is most important to you; a way of life.

94


Untitled

Kylie Chandler ’11 It spreads. It creeps up, up, and away. It crawls along through time. It seeps into cracks and crevices. It sneaks between crumbling bits of brick. It covers. It covers the walls, hiding them. The door, gone. The windows, vanished. It spreads. It creeps. It crawls. It seeps. It sneaks. It covers. It continues.

Soleil

Lauren Jackson ’13 95


Nate the Snake Wells Thompson ’11

The Legacy of Marvin McLennon A long time ago, when everything was created, God set humanity into motion for the first time. Everything seemed to be going great, but, as the eons passed, humanity took a turn for the worst. People became greedy and destructive, both toward each other and the Earth that had been given to them. Finally, God could not watch any longer. He decided to start over with humans and to try and make them better. Begrudgingly, he set the world on fire with sulfur and watched as his creations were destroyed, then unleashed a great flood to put it out again. He could not bear to see humans suffer any more, but he feared that, even if he created humanity better than before, people would again become destructive. In order to save himself from the pain of destroying humanity again, God created a giant lever. If this lever was ever pulled, the mechanical marvel that he had created in the Earth would turn itself inside out, and then back again. This would destroy everything on the surface of the Earth without God having to kill anything himself. So God created humanity again, and let them evolve and become the humans of today. As they evolved, though, God saw that they would be curious about the lever. It was unintended, of course, but the uncontrollable nature of man was one of curiosity. And so, in order to protect the lever from humanity and save humans from themselves, God created Nate the Snake. Nate was a kind natured fellow, but he was enormous and daunting. He was bigger than anything humans had ever seen, bigger than anything they would ever build. He put cruise liners to shame. His shed skin was often mistaken for ancient whale bodies. His baby tooth was used by cavemen to carve out the Grand Canyon. Needless to say, he was everything God needed to keep the humans safe. The day he was created, God said to him, “Nate, it is your job to guard this lever. If the lever is ever pulled then everyone will die and that would be bad, so you have to make sure that no one gets near the lever.” Nate took his responsibility and waited for centuries, guarding the lever with his life. The lever was in modern day Egypt, in the Sahara, just northsouth of the middle of nowhere. Needless to say, it got boring for Nate fairly quickly. It was a few millennia of waiting before film came out, but when it did, Nate couldn’t have been happier. Nate would watch movies all day, fascinated by the endless entertainment he had never been able to find at any time before, even when the aliens had invaded and created the pyramids. He loved all sorts of movies, from monster movies to romance to horror to action and even to mystery. Most of all, he loved Steven Spielberg’s movies. His favorite was Indiana Jones. He loved everything about it, except the bit about hating snakes. He loved the movies so much that he had an Egyptian haberdasher make him an

96


enormous hat that Nate could wear so he could feel like he was as brave and daring as Indiana Jones. One day, as Nate sat outside in the sun guarding the lever, he looked out across the desert and saw something he couldn’t believe. At first, he thought it was a mirage, but he was far too used to the heat to be fooled by his eyes. He stood in awe and his giant mouth hung open, gaping at the sight of his hero, Steven Spielberg, out in the middle of the desert. As fast as he could, Nate put on his giant hat and slithered out as fast as he could to meet him. Spielberg had been out in the desert doing research for a movie he was helping his friend, George Lucas, direct. He wanted to get a sense of the barrenness of the desert and an idea of how boring it would be to live on a planet marked by only one physical feature. Then he noticed Nate speeding toward him with the ferocity of a charging rhinoceros. He was frozen with fear and wonderment. Sure his death was near, he was shocked to find the gargantuan snake stopping in its tracks. “Mr. Spielberg, Mr. Spielberg, Mr. Spielberg!!! Oh my God I am your biggest fan! I love everything you’ve ever done!” The snake belted at the sight of his hero. Once Spielberg heard this, he calmed down and took another look at the beast. All of the sudden, he felt like a cartoon character with eyes in the shape of dollar signs. His mind raced with all the ways he could sell the giant snake in his movies and to his public. “Well, thank you very much! What’s your name?” Steven said with a smile on his face. “My name is Nate,” said the snake. “Well Nate,” Steven said, “how would you like to be in the movies?” Nate was in awe, “Are you serious?” He asked. “Of course. People would love you in America. You could be the next Indiana Jones.” Nate was filled with excitement. He was about to shout ‘yes’ as loud as he could and make the world echo, recreating a moment he had only had in his dreams. Then he remembered his responsibilities. “I want to more than you could realize Mr. Spielberg,” Nate said guiltily, “but I have to guard this lever. You see, if anyone pulls this lever, then humanity will be destroyed, and that would be bad.” “Notably,” Spielberg said, seeing an opportunity slipping away, “but what if I made you a deal? If someone’s watching the lever, you don’t have to be here, right?” “I guess not,” Nate said. “So then, if you come back with me, I’ll hire people to watch the lever until you get back.” “I don’t know, what if they aren’t big enough to stop somebody from pulling the lever? Then someone will pull the lever without realizing that it would destroy the world.” “But if people know what the lever will do, then they won’t pull it, right? So, by going to Hollywood with me, you can tell people about the lever

97


and no one will ever pull it.” Nate thought for a moment, “I guess you’re right Mr. Spielberg.” “Besides, Nate, my boy, how long have you been guarding this lever? Don’t you think it’s about time you got a break?” “Yeah, I guess so. Thanks Mr. Spielberg, just make sure that, in the meantime, no one pulls the lever and you’ve got a deal!” So Nate went to Hollywood and debuted in Star Wars as the giant worm-like creature that almost swallows the Millennium Falcon. From there it all went uphill for Nate. He became the biggest star on the silver screen, both physically and figuratively. He was given more roles than he could ever perform and lived in luxury. Before shooting the movie after Star Wars, Anaconda, Nate went on TV and told the world about the lever. He told everyone about the dangers of going near the lever and that it was his duty to protect it. Naturally, the lever became an attraction of monumental proportions. Even monuments dwindled in popularity in the wake of the lever. Entire theme parks, movies, books, albums, merchandise, and even energy drinks were made in the image and idea of the lever. Meanwhile, Nate the Snake slithered his way across Hollywood. He stared in any and all movies that required a giant snake, which was, surprisingly, quite a few. He even made a cameo appearance in Snakes on a Plane. People loved Nate and many would go great distances to see him and tell him so. He had an entire line of snake skin clothing that held the entire world in fascination and envy. No one was bigger than Nate the Snake. He even managed to outsell the newest Indiana Jones movie with his movie Python, even when Nate himself went to go see Indiana Jones three times in theaters, subsequently buying all of the tickets, since he took up the entire theater. Finally, after several years in Hollywood, Nate talked to Spielberg again. “Mr. Spielberg,” he said, “I can’t thank you enough for everything you’ve done for me. You’ve given me the kind of fame I never could have imagined back in the desert. However, I’ve been away from my home and the lever for so long that it’s starting to get to me. If you don’t mind, I’d like to take some time off and go back home.” “Alright Nate, I understand. Go home, and know that we’ll be here waiting for you when you get back.” With that, Spielberg sent Nate on the first plane ride to Egypt and Nate was home. Nate didn’t recognize the desert when he got back to the lever. There were roads and buildings and people surrounding the lever. A great city, the city of Nateopolis, had been created around the lever. Nate was at once in awe and very excited, until he saw the condition of the lever. He was horrified at the sight of people playing on the lever, leaning on the lever, and spray painting on the lever with no regard for their lives or the rest of humanity. Nate decided then and there that he wouldn’t go back to Hollywood, and that he could never leave the lever again. Quickly, he shooed everyone away from the lever, cleaned it up, and went back to protecting it, only barely tolerating the city the humans had

98


left behind. Years passed, but the city only became busier and the presence of Nate had only grown stronger both in movies and in the minds of people across the world. He was starting to pop up on shirts, and in music videos with his lines from movies auto tuned. He had even become a mascot for several high schools and universities around the world. People went to visit Nate every now and again, but were met with a hiss and nothing more. Nateâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s good nature had been damaged when he had seen what the humans had done to the lever. He could now see why God created it in the first place. In fact, he often contemplated pulling the lever himself and ending everything, but, so far, he had not. One day, a man in Egypt named George was passing through Nateopolis in an eighteen wheeler in order to get through to Cairo. As it just so happened, George was Nate the Snakeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s biggest fan. He owned everything Nate the Snake: a Nate-themed tooth brush, a Nate-themed snuggie, a life-sized Nate the Snake poster that wrapped around the truck twenty times, and, most importantly, Nate the Snake themed underwear (they were very uncomfortable, being made out of snake skin, but he was so devoted to Nate the Snake that he endured). When he saw that he was entering Nateopolis, he became extremely excited at the thought that he might see his hero, Nate. Meanwhile, Nate was sitting, bored, guarding the lever, while everyone around him was having fun on their theme park rides. The day was abnormally hot, even for the desert, thanks to all the heat generated from the people and their city. It was so hot that Nate, who was used to the heat, started to hallucinate. For the first time ever, he thought he saw another giant snake, one with a large pink bow and long eyelashes. It came to his attention that he had never thought of what a female snake would look like and started to wonder about what this snake was like and if they could, maybe, guard the lever together. Nate got tunnel vision. All he could think about was the girl snake and what it would be like not to be so lonely and bored all the time. He forgot about the lever and slithered over to talk to her. As he moved, he crossed a very hot road which caused the asphalt to stick to his belly, trapping him on the road as he tried, desperately, to get to the other snake. George barreled down the road, peering to either side to try and get a glimpse of Nate. When he looked ahead, he was overjoyed to find his hero directly in front of his eyes. As he got closer though, he was shocked to find that Nate was, in fact, stuck to the road. George had to think fast. He was travelling far too fast to stop in time to avoid hitting and killing Nate. If he swerved left, he would hit the cancer-research hospital that Nate had mistaken for a girl snake. If he swerved right, he would hit the lever, pulling it and destroying all of humanity. With his options limited, George held his breath, closed his eyes, and slammed on the break as his truck struck down the great Nate the Snake. George was mortified. He had killed his hero and left the entire world in a state of mourning. He could feel the hatred of the world on his shoulders as news teams and reporters came to report on what would be known as the

99


“Tragedy of a Generation.” For the first time, his Nate the Snake underwear had begun to itch. The officer that came to question him was in tears. “Why?” He asked simply, “Why did you hit Nate? Everyone loves Nate and you struck him down in his prime. Why did you do this?” George thought for a moment for something, anything that would explain his dilemma. With a sigh, he turned to the officer and said, “Well, better Nate than lever.”

“Almost anything is easier to get into than to get out of.” - Agnes Allen

100


Rays

Lauren Jackson â&#x20AC;&#x2122;13 101


Title Michelle Ko ’11 Procrastinate[proh-kras-tuh-neyt] - verb. 1. To defer action; delay. 2. To put off til another day or time.

3. An action in which most students, particularly Seniors at Pulaski Academy, participate. 4. To have a plethora of mandatory things to do in a limited amount of time, but preoccupying oneself with other, mostly unnecessary actions so that the mandatory things are not addressed until a later time or date. 5. To watch a favorite television show, which is approximately an hour long, at the appropriate time, even though a large amount of homework was assigned that morning. 6. To continue watching television after the favorite television show is over, allowing several hours to pass before one realizes what time it is.

7. To continue disregarding the pile of homework and instead attending to the grumbling noises in one’s stomach by finding snacks and beverages, or fixing oneself dinner, if said dinner is not prepared by another person. 8. To sit down at a computer after watching television and eating dinner to write the paper that is due the next morning but was assigned two months agoat a very unreasonable time to begin such an assignment, and to open up the Internet, which leads to the instinctively pressing of the button labeled “Facebook” on the Bookmarks Toolbar. 9. To type in “www.G-O-O-G-L-E.com” on the Web Address Bar, but one’s fingers involuntarily spelling out “www.F-A-C-E-B-O-O-K.com” instead.

10. To spend a ridiculous amount of time on a social networking site, looking through photo albums with 600+ pictures, uploading one’s own pictures, wishing “Happy Birthday” to those who were born that day, watching videos on people’s walls, liking random statuses and wall posts, etc. 11. To decide one is too tired to function properly any further after watching television, eating dinner, and creeping on Facebook, and to get in bed to take a “quick nap.” 12. To accidentally oversleep during the “quick nap,” leaving even less time to complete the paper that is due the next morning.

102


13. To open up a new Microsoft Word document, type in the header, heading, and “Title,” and open up Facebook again to see if one has any new notifications. 14. To promise oneself that he or she will not open up Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Google Chrome, or any other Internet providers until the paper is done to prevent access to Facebook and actually have some progress on the paper. 15. To reach for one’s phone and get on Facebook on the mobile device after typing a sentence or so on the paper. 16. To complete the paper in the morning, barely in time to get ready, and rush to school.

17. To print out the paper at school five minutes before the class begins and realize that “Title” was never actually changed to an actual title but to not care because it is only the first rough draft. Synonyms: prolong, postpone, PA Senior, television, food, Facebook, sleep

“Put off the evil hour as long as you can.” - Proverb

103


An Abnormal Dinner Party Ali Hopkins ’11

Now a clown was approaching. A full-on clown, with poufy multicolored hair; a white-painted, over-exaggerated looking face; and enormous red shoes that squeaked when he walked. Quick, I thought to myself, make a break for the door before he reaches me. But as I turned to hastily exit the magnificent ballroom and escape this “funhouse,” Ole Bozo himself quickened his pace to catch up with me. “Where ya goin’, dear?” he chuckled to me. “Oh, I just got a call from work. I have to go back to the office,” I lied. The truth was, I just couldn’t stand any more of this nonsense and was praying to be able to leave. “Well, ya can’t do that! No one leaves the party before they meet the hostess,” he explained as matter-of-factly as was possible for a clown. He gave me a half-grin, half-mad smile as he continued, “And the hostess is never ready on time.” The clown seemed satisfied with this answer and left me to figure out his puzzle as he headed for the hors d’oeuvres table on the other side of the room. This had been happening to me all night: meet a bizarre guest, pledge to leave as soon as the guest was distracted, head for the door, and get intercepted by another guest. What kind of dinner party was this, anyway? No one seemed bothered that the alleged hostess had yet to arrive at her own party, and they all seemed a little off their rockers. When I got the invitation, it seemed harmless enough: a night of catching up with old friends and a lavish dinner. But when I arrived, not only did I fail to recognize even one person, but I also felt strangely like all these guests were playing some sort of game I didn’t understand. As soon as I had knocked on the door that evening, I was greeted by the oddest maid I had ever met. She spoke not one word to me as she opened the door, took my coat, and ushered me into the ballroom in which I was currently standing with a quick scuttle and a wave. If that hadn’t been enough, she was also wearing tight leather pants and studded boots, with her purple hair in pigtails. Purple hair! The only way I was able to tell she was the house maid was from the classic lace apron that covered her rocker t-shirt. Well, that, and the fact that she knew the location of the coat closet. But as I had first walked into the enormous room, beautifully decorated with dozens of twinkling candles and the most exquisite mahogany dining table I had laid eyes on, it became apparent that the overly beautiful sight was only the beginning of abnormalities. An enormous, dazzling crystal chandelier hung from the ceiling, but the striking appearance of the decoration showed in its reflection the contrast between the setting and the people inside it. From then, the night only progressed more strangely. A thickly mustached man soon introduced himself to me as one of the city’s premier detectives, and

104


he seemed bent on playing the part while dressed in a brown tweed pea coat, a matching cap, and a monocle. Although if he knew what a true detective did I’m not quite sure, because all he seemed to do was walk around the house peering at the floor and speaking with assorted catchphrases from detective shows or books. At this point, the party started feeling too strange for my taste, so I faked an emergency work call and started to make my way for the coat closet and the door. Of course the detective had to be on the lookout, though, and I had only just reached for the handle of the door before I heard “Jinkies!” yelled from across the room. I jumped, and the mustachioed detective ran toward me. “What do you think you’re doing?” he exclaimed. “I’ve been called back to work. It’s an emergency, and I have to leave now,” I replied with my most convincing face. “I’m afraid that’s impossible. The hostess hasn’t arrived yet, and no one leaves without thanking the hostess. It’s elementary, my dear Watson.” I didn’t have the heart to tell the poor detective my name wasn’t Watson, and I dejectedly walked back into the room with a face of concession. The detective had scarcely taken his eye off me before I was heading back toward the exit, but before I could make much headway I was cut off by the most mismatched pair of people the world had ever seen. A tall, almost impossibly thin man with dark features stalked over with a shorter, squat, light-haired man who could barely waddle to greet me. “Not leaving, are you?” the tall man asked. “You simply can’t leave yet!” the short man practically squealed. “You have to meet the—” he was cut off. “Hostess!” the other man continued. “No one ever leaves this party until the hostess gets here.” “I really have to go,” I pleaded. “It’s urgent.” But before I could continue with my completely false excuse, the short man grabbed my arm and pulled me back to the center of the ballroom as the tall man lightly pushed me along behind him. “Don’t worry. We twins are excellent entertainment,” the tall man drawled. “Let us get you some punch.” And the two men left me standing there, my mouth gaping at how the two could possibly think they were related, much less twins, to head for the punch bowl. I slowly recovered and began once again to head for the door, but again I was interrupted by another unusual guest. “Are you not enjoying the party?” I heard a soft female voice ask. I whirled around to find a woman dressed in a blue gingham dress and red high heels, cradling a small dog. “There’s no place like home, but I’ll say this party is always one of my favorite events of the year.” “The party seems lovely,” I answered, “but I’ve been called away on business and have to leave.”

105


“That’s too bad. The hostess really is a wonderful woman. I think you’d like her if you stayed,” the gingham-clad woman pressed. “And it really is a bit rude to leave before you meet the hostess, don’t you think?” The woman’s tinkling voice was too sweet to argue, so I smiled a forced smile and let her accompany me back into the huge room, where the opposite-looking twins returned with a glass of punch for me. Over the course of the night, my many attempted escapes were always deflected as I met all the guests, who constantly convinced me to stay at the party. I was received by a man dressed as a banana, a woman who had trained her parrot to talk for her, an unidentified man in a Zorro mask, a gypsy woman, and, of course, my most recently acquired friend, the clown. Why was I still here? I asked myself. I don’t know any of these people, and they all seem to be very strange. And why hasn’t the hostess arrived yet? I don’t care what any of these people say anymore. The hostess isn’t here, and I’m leaving. I gathered my courage one last time and set an extremely brisk pace for the closet to retrieve my coat before I could leave. Determinedly set on my mission to finally get away from this odd crowd, I must have failed to hear the hushed whispers and scattered applause as someone descended the staircase. “You wouldn’t be leaving my party, would you?” a proud voice asked disdainfully. I stopped dead in my tracks. The hostess. She’d finally appeared. I slowly turned, finding a woman dressed like a diva. She was wearing a plump feather boa, a strapless ball gown, and long white gloves, and the expression on her face was bemused, as if daring me to tell her I was leaving. “Well, I have a business matter to attend to, and I really do need to go,” I answered. The woman’s face held its expression as she refused to answer, and I went on meekly, “And, well, I do feel a bit out of place here.” “Of course you feel out of place!” the hostess dramatically exclaimed. “You’re wearing a costume, darling. Look around. This is not a costume party!” I looked down at my tailored suit confusedly, then back up at her as if she might be joking. “But don’t worry; I’m sure you’ll dress appropriately next year. Just make sure you leave the costume behind.” Before I could continue to ponder what my over-fashionably dressed hostess could mean by the fact that I, of all people, was wearing a costume, and none of the other guests were, I was interrupted by the final missing member of the household. A shrill shriek was heard from the hallway leading to what must have been the kitchen, and a meat cleaver flew through the air and impacted into the opposite wall. “Ah,” said the hostess nonchalantly. “Dinner is served.”

106


Masked in Blue Mary Alfani â&#x20AC;&#x2122;11 107


Unknown

Audrey Dunn ’11

Starvation. Hunger to the brink of death. Pain so immense that it takes away all other thoughts and feelings. I don’t know what it’s like to be a child looking to my parents for sustenance, only to find that they can offer me nothing. Conversely, I also don’t know the despair of being unable to offer my child food to take away his pain. Bones protruded, stomach bloated. I know what these things look like, but I don’t know how they feel. Inability to focus in class because of a greater concentration on hunger, inability to walk because of degenerating weakness, inability to share food because of a lack of my own. These things are unknown to me. Suppression. Censorship. Ignorance. I don’t know what it feels like to be illiterate, perhaps to not be allowed to read, or to have my government hide the truth from me. It’s not in my ability to imagine a world without access to information, without expression of art and mind, without freedom to learn. Such suppression is suppression of life itself, suppression of mankind’s ability to grow together. I cannot envision the thoughts that must run through the minds of all those who are in such a situation: the injustice, the anger, the despondency. These things are unknown to me. Fear of violence. War. Genocide. To live in a country ravaged by war must be unspeakable. I wouldn’t know; I don’t. I don’t know what it feels like to live in constant fear of being abducted, beaten, or killed. I don’t know what it’s like to hide in a car trunk overnight to escape fellow countrymen; to have my body parts cut by machetes, and to painfully wait for a slow death to overcome me; or to watch my neighbor kill my family. I am also unaware of the motives behind someone’s ability to kill or to torture. I don’t know what it’s like to be a child soldier, forced to murder innocent people, forced to murder my friends, forced to become addicted to drugs; or how a person lives a normal life afterwards, and how he or she begins to forgive those who have wronged him or her. These things are unknown to me. Corruption. Totalitarianism. Deceitful governing. I don’t know the feeling of living in a government where my vote doesn’t count, where my voice isn’t heard, and where my needs aren’t met. I don’t know what it’s like to live under a government that doesn’t hold elections or one that has an illiberal democratic system. I can’t imagine being forced at gunpoint to vote for the “right” candidate, or to watch as the ballot box is burned up, the votes fabricated, and as a result, living a wretched life of poverty as my rulers are spending the country’s income on themselves. These things are unknown to me. I do know, however, that the derivative of the natural log of x is the reciprocal of x, that gas at Phillips 66 costs $3.09, that the capital of Mongolia is Ulaanbaatar. I know that Walgreens is open twenty-four hours a day, that prophase is the first stage of mitosis, and that Virginia Woolf wrote Mrs. Dalloway.

108


Personification, allusion, anaphora—these terms are ingrained into my mind. I know that thirty-five U.S. states believe in capital punishment and that Dobby the House Elf dies in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Despite this knowledge, all of this “stuff” that I know, I still do not understand how the homeless man who begs on the side of I-430 must feel or what path brought him to this point in life. Undoubtedly, my sphere of understanding may be limited, but one thing I do know: I will never stop wondering and questioning and searching.

Veterans Day

Lauren Jackson ’13

109


A Day in the Life of Blanche Ajarrista Audrey Dunn ’11

7:25 am. Ah. A new day. Time to wake my beautiful self up to get to school on time. “AAAAHHHHHHHH!” “Qu’est qui se passe?” “Mon dieu, I thought you were a monster, Blanche.” Little creeper… Isaure’s just jealous of my natural good looks and charming beauty. Ooh, look at that girl in the mirror. Everything’s perfect there. 7:45 am. Meowww. My reflection purrs back at me. Flawless. Time to go downstairs. Keys? Check. Backpack? Check. Phone? Check. Ten out of ten on the hot scale? Check. Thud, thud, thud, thud, thud, thud, bam. Successful staircase landing… Hi, Viviane. “Tu fais quoi a manger?” “Ravioli.” Time to goooooo. Pandora or iPod? iPod. Nah, Pandora. Oooooooh, Eminem, how attractive and charming you sound. SQUEAK SQUEAK SQUEAAAAAK SQUEAK SQUEAK. Ahhhh putain de garage door. Roaaaaaaaaaaaaar. Ugh, darn loud mustang… First gear, second gear, stooooop sign. Sam Davies is still in his driveway; I’m not late, bravo! Multitask time! Sunglasses, switch gears, and change songs. 8:00 am. Why is this darn yellow bus in my way? This is no good. It’s hard enough to park with this ugly old thing. Rrrhhhhhhh, successful back out, nice parking job, Blanchie. Fais chier! Why won’t this door hold in place? I don’t want it to hit Geenah’s car…….. Ooops. Whateverrrrrrr. “HIIIII HIYA THERE, GEENS MCGEENS. I mean Geenah. Have you done Bio? Cause, well, I haven’t. I mean, I did until like 11:30 and then I, like, fell asleep and then I was like, ‘oh whatever,’ and then Masha jumped on me and I woke up and I was like, ‘oops.’” HR HR HR HR HR. 8:10 am. Helloooo, Biology room! Oh, there’s no one here yet. Is this B5? Oh there’s Annice… Annice Steadman… Eye contact… this is getting awkward, I’m going to visit the facilities. The bathroom facilities. Muahaha MEEOOOW, sexy boy, what’s happening? You checkin’ me out? Yeah, I’m checkin’ you out too. What to do in the bathroom? Oh there’s the mirror, good lookin’ lady on the prowl. Ow oww. What’s that obnoxious noise? Oh, it’s Audrey laughing in the hallway. Or a dying dolphin. Who knows. “Hey, hey, hey ladies; oh, you like my boots? Me too.”

110


8:40 am. “Zia, will you be my boyfriend?” “No.” Scorned again… Oh well, “Hey, Saad, how’s it going?” Brown Brigade! Hur Hur Hur. 9:45 am. Time for some Goody in my life. Clickety-clack, sexy boots, strut my stuff. Enter room. Make presence known. Bow down, Freshman. “Hey, Carson, how was your weekend?” Wink wink. “I was huntin’ and fishin,’ did we have any homework?” “Ooh, sounds fun, teach me to fish sometime? I love you, Goody.” Mike Thomas, I’m just not in the mood right now for you to teach me about the alphabet soup of programs created by the New Deal, oh, what’s that? We’re in the spice shop and we’re out of thyme? Good. Good riddance to American History. The French are superior, anyways, obviously. 11:10 am. Language. I loathe these boys. “No, I will not go back to France, you Turkish imbecile.” Oaf. Moron. Whichever you prefer. “No, I do not shave my upper lip every morning, Chase Pierce.” It’s too bad you don’t even have facial hair, you pre-pubescent child. “Put your iPad away, Chris Hart.” How I love expressing myself in language class, it’s as if I am a famous author and the world wants to know my thoughts. I’m on a stage and my fans bow down, throw flowers at my feet and there’s Caroline out the window! Hey Carol! Cutie pie, honey bunches of oats, ah, food, lunch, smoothie slurp in my stomach delicious I bet these nasty boys will go to Genghis or some equally boyish place, is that a fly on the wall? Almost as disgusting as a cockroach on the floor or a snake in my bed… I wonder what Blair’s up to in Thesis? Probably on Facebook. Maybe iChatting or texting Adam. Ah, if only I had a boyfriend, a lover, a romantic partner. MRHhurrhurr. 12:25 pm. “Blaaaanche, can I go off campus with youuuu? Can you driiive? I’m soooo stressed oouut!” “Oh, hey, Blairykins, get in my car, padawan.” “Whaa? Oh, okaaaay. Oh my goooddd, Blanche, I’m so tired I think I’ll check out last period… I don’t kn—” And Blair is lost to her iPhone. 1:45 pm. Top God. William. Topich. No cute boys to scope out in here… too bad. “You losers better pull it together. Mark, if you have one more tardy…” Blah blah blah. Topich needs to stop moaning about every little thing we do.

111


Although I do love how his complaints take up class time. Whatever… time to zone out. Ooh, a new text from Carol. A new text from Blair. A new text from Daniel. A new text from… All these texts make me think of that song… You’ll be popular - Just not as quite as popular as me! I am Galinda! 3:00 pm. Time to flirt with the boys in the parking lot. Ooh, Jason King, I haven’t seen you all day, where you been?” “Yeah, I had a great weekend. What was I up to? Oh, you know… Haha.” Flirty laugh, gets ‘em every time. But enough of this, I must get home to watch TV online! 11:00 pm. Time to start homework. MERDE!

“Je suis ce que je suis et si je suis ce que je suis, qu’est ce que je suis?” - Common French Virelangue

112


The Homecoming of a Vagabond Robyn Barrow ’11 John was tall and thin. He had scarecrow arms and scarecrow legs, with a scarecrow hat of straw sitting on the top of his scarecrow head. He walked down a narrow, green lane that led through the country to the town of his birth, after a long journey. John had been gone a long time, long enough that many in his village had forgotten the way his eyes twinkled, and would not have recognized the funny way his face looked now, crinkled and withered as it was. At one time he had had many generous friends in the town, when he had wanted little and had less. Now returning, he wore a rich coat of green velvet and soft boots of great craftsmanship. Beneath his coat, however, his clothes, like his straw hat, were more practical, as if he was only a simple farmer playing dress up. At his waist hung a jeweled sword and a heavy bag of money. In his pocket sat a letter with a seal of red wax, yet unopened. Of course, no one really knew where he’d been all along. It was just the beginning of spring; the winter’s chill still hanging in the air and upon the dew-covered blossoms in the awakening trees. The road was of dirt and seemed to become rockier and less kept as John neared his home, which had always been poor. Still, he noted, how sweet the grass smelled today that grew thick and bright on the lane’s edges! How beautiful were the snowy wildflowers and clover. He listened cheerily to the bird song and the flutter of wings above his head. A stream trickled merrily somewhere far off, and the air seemed heavy with the buzzing of bees. Despite the lingering bite in the breeze, the world was stirring again. John’s coin purse jingled gratingly with his step, and he placed a muting hand over it, so as better to hear the distant ringing of bells from the church steeple. The village was old and crumbling, its ancient stonewalls beginning to look sunken beneath the layers of velvety moss that covered them. Just like me, he thought. Yet John found the gates open wide, the streets beyond bustling. Many farmers were in town purchasing seed. On the roofs of many of the thatched buildings sat crows watching the people; these scattered when they saw John’s scarecrow face peering up at them. It was mere moments after John entered town that he began greeting people. He smiled at the faces he passed so sincerely that few could resist answering. Many found something almost familiar in the lines of his face, and those that did not found that it reminded them of someone they loved: a grandfather, a beloved uncle, a dear confidant. Soon John had met most of the Market, learned many names but given his own to no one. He came upon a young boy sitting on the curb in ragged clothes. “Is the sun in your eyes, my lad?” John noted the sunburn on the boy’s cheeks. The boy nodded, squinting up at the wiry old man. John laughed and took the straw hat from his own head. “There you are, there you are. A bit big, but still much better on you

113


than me.” John walked on, feeling giddy as he watched the boy adjust the hat so he could see under its wide brim. Next he came to the pub, older than any of the people left living in the town. Just as he was passing by, a dirty patron trundled out, his face smeared and sour. “My dear sir!” John exclaimed, shaking his hand warmly. “How are you?” The man gazed at him blearily, “Not s’good, sir. Long night, if you follow me.” He laughed humorlessly. “Wherever are your shoes?” John smiled good-naturedly. The man gazed down at his bare feet and grumbled, “I’ve lost them at cards, I’m afraid.” John’s were off in an instant. “Take mine, sir, take mine. Quite nice, I daresay. They’ll fit you fine.” Laughing and waving away the man’s slurred protests, he knelt and pulled the boots onto the other’s feet, tying the laces securely. It went like this throughout the town. John gave an ailing woman his bottle-green coat, and soon his fat, gold-filled purse had been distributed among the shabbiest villagers. On the outskirts of the town he gave a woodsman with a blunt axe his jeweled sword, smiling away the questions of its origins and the initials on its hilt. The woodsman, who was incredibly grateful, ushered John into his home to share in his family’s supper. To this John agreed, eating heartily and chatting with the man’s plain-faced wife. He learned the details of the family’s recent loss of a son in the war and the poverty that had stricken them. Shedding a tear as he left their home, he removed his own white linen shirt and gave it to the woman. “Sell it, or bury your son in it, or throw it away. I don’t care how you use it, but I want you to have it. I wish I could do more for you and your little ones.” He clasped both her hands in his own and went on into the night. Feeling lighter and very wealthy indeed, John gazed back at the town, glittering with lights from the meager homes behind him, and then up at the rich night spattered with diamond stars. Smiling to himself, he walked on a ways until he came to a wood. And as he laid his penniless head on the cold, black earth, shivering slightly in the frosty night, feet dirty and chest bare, John laughed softly to himself and patted the unopened letter that still lay in his pants pocket. “Well, I suppose it’s about time to go win another fortune.”

114


Free as a Weed

Lauren Jackson â&#x20AC;&#x2122;13

115


Letter From the Senior Editors Two months, eleven editors, eighty submissions, and a fifteen year tradition: it is with great pride and accomplishment that we present this journal to you, the reader. We were proud to see the growth within our diverse staff as we reviewed artwork, poetry, prose and photography from across the spectrum of Pulaski Academy’s Upper School, and we thank our selected authors and artists wholeheartedly for sharing their work. Creation of the 2010 – 2011 literary journal would have been impossible without the technological savvy and skill of Lauren Jackson, and assistance of Mrs. Beth Shull; we thank them for their time and enthusiastic help. As always, we owe the utmost thanks and appreciation to our wonderful sponsors, Mrs. Megan Abbott and Mrs. Ginger Kidd for their unending guidance and support throughout the making of this journal. Additionally, we would like to express our gratitude to TC Solutions for once again publishing our journal with outstanding quality. Finally, we would be remiss if we did not commend the entire 2010-2011 Literary Journal staff for their hard work, commitment, and resolute efforts to create an outstanding journal this year. Only through a diversity of voices and opinions dedicated to producing a phenomenal journal was it created, and we have been very fortunate to lead such an enthusiastic and devoted group of people. We wish the best for the literary journals and staffs yet to come, and have thoroughly enjoyed our time on staff. —Robyn Barrow, Audrey Dunn, and Ayana Gray

116


“No story is ever done.” - John Steinbeck

Veritas Veritas Volume 15 2010-2011

“May God keep us from single vision.”

Veritas 2010-2011  

Pulaski Academy's Literary Journal