The Scribbler 2012
Volume 59 Grace Church School New York City
The Scribbler Co-Editors-In-Chief Matthew Schleifman, Thomas Ivashkiv Editors Odette Steinert, Audrey Rudd Ana Lee, Jane Platt, Miles McCain, Micaela Macagnome Staff Parker Ludwig Larsen, Ella Hetfield, Ela Ferhangil, Faith Bourne Elektra Petrakis, Camilla Mcgarry Tiki Wojcik Cover by Sophie Frances Technical Advisor Ilta Adler Faculty Advisor Benham Latimer The Scribbler is the literary magazine of grades 5, 6, 7, and 8 of Grace Church School, 86 Fourth Avenue, New York, New York 10003. (212) 475-5609
CONTENTS Jane Platt Matthew Schleifman
Kate Newhouse Ana Lee Elizabeth Zaccaro
39 43 52
Emmeline Flagg Joshua Hull Ivan Specht Lauren Reischer Kate Platzker Sam Wendel Michael Montes de Oca Tess Wodin Preston Rylee Ava Goodwin Cameron Hui Catherine Cheung Nina Houston
63 68 70 79 85 88
Going Back Home Accepting the Unexpected The Treacherous Escape Goodbye Eduardo Go Home Janey The Walls Closed In Solving the Murder On Fourth Street Footsteps Go Tigers The Secret Caper Perspective The Nightmare Struck
97 100 104 106 107 108 109
Snow Patrol Worry Free As Her A Flash of Black Thanksgiving Life The Beach Chocolate
Selin Ferhangil Geoffrey Leong
Julia Kaubisch Ela Ferhangil Georgia Bynum Simon Rhodes
112 113 114 115
Parker Ludwig-Larsen Ella Hetfield
Audrey Rudd Miles Mccain Jihae Simpkins
119 123 125
Dreams Opposite of a Sister Just Laugh Nature Ode to Flute Ode to the Snack Machine Blackout The Witching Hour Yearning To Be Home Air Thoughts Two Weeks In Hell With George Splink
Jane Platt grade 6 The Voice I had gone some ten or twelve steps in this manner when the torn hem of my robe caught my heel causing me to stumble till I fell violently, face forward. The ground where I had fell, felt damp and clammy. I was weak from being in the Inquisition's grasp and trying to move from the inquisitor's vigorous grip. I had been taken from my home because of not believing in their ways. Before I knew it I was already being sent toward my death. There on the floor I sat, feeling very tired, on something dark and bone chilling. I didn't know where I was, so I decided to just rest and await my death. A few hours later I woke up, thirsty and hungry. I was surprised to find sitting next to me, a loaf of bread and a pitcher of water. I quickly drank and ate hoping to explore my prison afterward. I then heard a click, just outside my chamber door. Someone was entering the cell. It was a cloaked man, his hood covering his face, holding a lit candle. The candle had burning wax dripping from it. Each drop landed on the prison floor. He approached me with the candle held out in front of him. Slowly, he walked till he stood right before me. He then took from his cloak another loaf of 1
bread. Frightened, I backed up into the prison wall and heard a voice from the breeze outside. It whispered to me, "death is approaching." The stranger then placed the loaf on the ground and turned around. Stopping abruptly, he turned to the left wall. Using the candle, he lit a torch that I hadn't seen. He did the same to the torch on his right. Then he left me still cold and weak not knowing what to do next. With the light of the torches I could see where I was. I was in a narrow dungeon about three feet wide, but very long. The ceiling was high above me. It was like an arched hallway. I saw the walls and felt that they were dank and moldy. The floor was filthy and in the corner I could make out the remains of past prisoners' bones. In the dungeon I could see that there were four doors. One was the door that the man had entered. The other three were there for a reason that I could not name. Each door was on one side of the dungeon. As I pondered what was behind each door, I heard a swish from above. Then there was another swish. The swishing began in a methodic rhythm and continued for hours, never ceasing. I looked above me and saw to my horror the death that awaited me. Above me and attached by a single rope to the ceiling was a pendulum. Not just any pendulum, but a very sharp four bladed one. As I watched it sway, I realized that it descended slowly, but steadily towards me. I soon realized that as it lowered, it lowered at a faster pace. In minutes it was about a third of the way down. I stood in a silent panic. Again I heard the moaning whisper of wind, "death is approaching." I crouched in a corner 2
with my eyes shut tight, wishing that the voice would disappear. Swish, swish, swish went the pendulum. Looking up, I saw that it was just a few feet from my face. If I stood up the pendulum would surely split my head in half. There was no escape no matter where I was in the dungeon. Since I had no hopes, I just had to die slowly from each swing of the pendulum. I would suffer from the pain and horror of seeing my blood slowly ooze out of me. I would hear my own body being shredded in half. Then, after I died, the pendulum would be pulled back up. The inquisitors would come and push my remains to a corner, and wait until another heretic became imprisoned. My guilt would lead me to the same fate as others had and would have. I opened my eyes and quickly looked around the dungeon. I had a sudden urge to fight for my life because something was telling me that I had more life to live. Finally, I saw the doors again waiting for me. Now the pendulum was just over my head. Swiftly, I slipped from under its grasp and quickly chose to enter the door to the left of the cell. It was a very small, circular room. The ceiling was also very high up with human bones strewn around the floor. Suddenly I heard a creaking noise from above. It couldn't be a pendulum because I would've heard the swish of it swinging. Something was rapidly moving downward upon me, its sharp blades gaining on me. Back in the main chamber, the pendulum was a foot from the ground. It swung from side to side, but did not appear to descend any further. I didn't know which death I should choose. 3
While the pendulum was swinging towards the dungeon's entrance door, I made my move. Dashing to the opposite door across the dungeon, I threw it open and found myself in a triangular room. In the room were two window-like mirrors that joined together from the corner of the room, directly across from the door. I sprinted back to the circular room just before the pendulum split me in two. In the circular room the giant descending razor had stopped, hovering just above my head. I took hold of one of the blades and pulled hard. Right when the blade was about to snap off the structure, it began to lower again. My heart was racing as I gave a few more tugs. I was on my hands and knees when the blade finally gave way. I leapt out of the object's way and rushed to the triangular room. Not waiting a moment longer, I took the blade and ran it through the window-like mirror. I jumped through the window and felt a rush of wind through my clothes. I was free, but as I ran towards the woods I thought I heard the whispering wind again. "You may be free, but death is still coming."
Matthew Schleifman grade 7 Going Back Home The day was unusually warm and sticky for a late fall day. The Leonards had been invited by two of their closest friends, Mr. and Mrs. Jones, to go on a camping trip. Mr. Leonard had never gone camping before. In fact, he had never been in the woods. He had lived in the city his whole life. As for Mrs. Leonard, who preferred to be called by her initials J.B. (Julia Benedict), she felt at home in the forest. She had grown up in northern New York on a farm. Today was the first day of their camping trip, which coincidentally was located in upstate New York. The Jones had picked an area to camp in not very far from Mrs. Leonard’s childhood home, maybe a mile or two away. “You all think this is a good place to stop?” asked Mr. Jones, who was rather out of shape from several years of inactivity. “Nah,” Mrs. Leonard responded cheerily,” I think we could maybe walk a couple more miles to a place I used to camp when I was little.” Mr. Leonard groaned. He was tired like the rest of the party. He didn’t argue though. There was no point in arguing with his wife. She never lost. Usually, they were both good 5
people. Mr. Leonard was a happy-golucky kind of person, who worked for Greenway, the same bank that Mr. Jones worked for. They had brown hair and brown eyes, just like his spouse.. His wife was also mostly cheerful until she got mad. When she got mad, one wouldn’t want to be near her. Although they were all tired, excluding Mrs. Leonard, they all had a great time on the way to Mrs. Leonard’s ‘spot’. They were all happy to escape all of their responsibilities from work, even though it was only for a four-day trip. “I don’t think I can go much further,” gasped Mr. Jones, who was sweating profusely. “Ok, fine. We can stop here for the night and get to that spot tomorrow. It isn’t that far away.” said Mrs. Leonard, as a cold gust of wind breezed through the forest. “Jim and I could set up the tent. Maybe Julia and Lily could start the fire,” said Mr. Leonard, who referred to Mr. Jones as Jim and Mrs. Jones as Lily. “That works,” replied Mrs. Jones. The men set about setting up the tent, which they had no clue how to do, while the wives attempted to make the fire. “What’s up with Julia? She was just so cheery, and now, out of nowhere she’s depressed,” asked Tim, who had been observing Mrs. Leonard while he tried in vain to set up the larger of the two tents. 6
Mr. Leonard looked around. The spot they had chosen was not very good. The ground was uneven with mud covering the orange leaves that had fallen from the majestic oak trees that nearly obscured the sky. The sky was already turning dark even though it was fairly early. “She can be confusing sometimes. This trip means a lot to her. I mean, you have no idea how eager she has been to get back to her old home. I think that she’s just disappointed that she won’t get to her spot today. Don’t worry though, she hopefully won’t go crazy on you,” he chuckled. Jim laughed also, but it was a nervous laugh, as if he had not picked up on the joke. “No, I’m kidding she won’t go crazy. The only time I can remember her going crazy…,” said Leonard, shuddering. “What? What? What did she do?!?!” Jim asked. Mr. Leonard burst out laughing, ”I was joking! You’re so gullible! She rarely gets real mad. But if she does, just stay out of her way, and you’ll be fine. I have no idea why you’re so worried.” “I was just nervous because Greenway had just demolished a farm around here. What if it was her childhood house?” “I don’t think it was hers. I saw the files before the building was demolished; I cant recall the name of the family that owned the building, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t her family,” said Mr. Leonard. He 7
examined the portable tent he was supposed to be working on. It was nowhere near erect. So, he and Jim, pacified by Mr. Leonard, set about finishing their tents as the last rays of the sun dropped below the horizon. The next morning was also hot and muggy, as if the forest did not accept the change of the seasons. The first one to awake was Mrs. Leonard. She then went around their campsite, taking the liberty to wake everyone up. “Wake up everybody, its almost nine o’clock! The day is almost half over! So wake up now!” exclaimed Mrs. Leonard. The rest of the group was reluctant to get up, but in a short while they rose and started to prepare to depart. Mr. Jones and Mr. Leonard took down the tents. “See,” Mr. Leonard said, ”she isn’t mad anymore.” “I guess,” said Jim, not really believing Mr. Leonard. The group now set off, led by Mrs. Leonard. The whole group was in a good mood, even Jim, who had seemed to forget all of his worries about Mrs. Leonard. As they walked at briskly along the woods, the air was stifling becoming even hotter and more humid than before. At around twelve o’clock, the campers stopped to eat lunch. The women were the first to finish. “Maybe Mrs. Jones and I could visit my house while you two finish up,” said Mrs. Leonard anxiously. 8
“Sure,” Mrs. Jones and Mr. Leonard said. “Maybe I should come, you know, in case you get lost or something,” Mr. Jones muttered, who still did not completely trust the temper of Mrs. Leonard. Mrs. Leonard laughed. “The house is only five minutes away. I won’t get lost. Trust me.” Jim looked disgruntled, but didn’t say anything. “So you’ll be off then?” asked Mr. Leonard. “Yeah. See ya!” responded Mrs. Leonard. Mrs. Leonard and Mrs. Jones left. “So what do you want to do while they’re gone?” asked Mr. Leonard “ I don’t know, maybe do some fishing?” said Mr. Jones distractedly. “Sure, have you seen a lake?” “We passed one. I’ll show you.” As, the two men went to fish, the weather drastically changed. The hot weather suddenly became freezing. Both of the men noticed but didn’t say anything. Hours later, they returned to the campsite and found that Mrs. Jones and Leonard have not returned. This worried the men. “Where do you think they are? Its almost completely dark and its cold. They would never survive this temperature with how they were dressed!” Said Mr. Leonard. “We should look for them now. We have waited too long,” said Mr. Jones. 9
“I’ll bring coats and food for them. Don’t you wonder how they got lost?” asked Mr. Leonard “I don’t think that they got lost…” The men set off in the direction that they had last seen the women walking off in. The forest had seemed to change moods since they last walked in it. Instead of being alive and colorful, it had turned somber and grey. After several minutes of walking though the solemn, quiet forest, they heard a high-pitched wail. “What’s that!?” asked a wide-eyed Mr. Jones. Mr. Leonard didn’t respond. In the corner of his eyes, he had seen a small silhouette flash by in the distance. He trembled as it reappeared closer to him. He and Mr. Jones just stood there, paralyzed, not knowing what to do as the figure come increasingly closer. “MY HOUSE,” the shadow screamed, ”ITS GONE! ALL BECAUSE OF YOU!” The beast stepped out of the shadows. The creature was short with brown eyes and hair. “HOW COULD YOU?” Mrs. Leonard screamed. Mr. Leonard took in his last breath and screamed. Hours later, the same thing sat on the forest floor, just staring at its old country house. Beside it was a sign that read, “Property of the Greenway Bank, intruders will be prosecuted!” The thing shifted its gaze to the Greenway Inc. sign next to itself. She swiped at it with her hand. She was slowly transforming back 10
into a normal human. For the first time, she noticed her ex-husband, along with the Jones, prone on the forest floor. She walked away without a sound.
Odette Steinert grade 7 Storm Anne burst through the back porch and ran down the lawn to the narrow dirt road. Tommy, who was carrying two towels and a small bottle of sunscreen, closely followed her. “Wait! You forgot your towel!” yelled Tommy who nearly tripped over a medium sized rock that was buried snug into the ground. Anne giggled and stopped to wait for him “Is that as fast as you can run?” teased Anne. Tommy halted to a stop next to her and was kneeling over with his hands on his knees, trying to catch his breath. “Shut up.” he said playfully. Anne laughed. The two children were standing in a small clearing just before the road. Surrounding it were large honeysuckle bushes, sprinkled with pearly white flowers wet from the morning dew. Weeds sprouted throughout the moist ground, and the occasional tuft of trampled grass appeared. Behind the bushes grew large trees, each with their thick roots sturdily planted within the ground. The air was heavy with a salty breeze and the sweet smell of honeysuckle, but still managed to maintain a lightness that almost seemed magical. One thing was strange though. It was silent. The usual hum of the beetles and the delightful song of the birds were gone. This made the children uneasy, but they 12
put it in the back of their minds. Anne picked off a honeysuckle flower that was slightly yellow. Her mother always said that the yellow ones were the ripest, thus making them the sweetest. She bit off the green tip and sucked on the nectar. “I’ve always wondered if someone could live off of honeysuckles.” Tommy said quietly as he plucked a small flower from the bush. “Possibly, but only for a few days...” “Maybe...” he said cheerfully. The children turned around the corner to the road that led to the small private beach. As they walked, they passed by a large vineyard that had rows upon rows of vines covered with small bitter grapes. The plants were covered with fine nets that protected the fruit from nearby creatures. “Uggh! Its so humid!” Anne said fanning her sticky neck with her hands. Her long sandy blond hair was loosely tied up in a messy bun on the crown of her head. Her hair stuck to her forehead, and the back of her neck. She was wearing a blue t-shirt (that stuck uncomfortably to her skin) and stripped blue and white swim shorts. She had a small almond shaped head with a slightly curved up nose and a small pinched mouth. Her long lanky arms swung by her side as she walked. Tommy was at least two inches taller than her. He had messy brown hair and bright green eyes. He had the same features as Anne, but with tanner skin. He always came across to people as shy, he was smart though, but quiet. Anne was the only person he could be around and feel like himself, of course that was normal because she was his sister. They walked 13
farther down the road, and passed a few houses along the way. Trees and bushes lined the dirt path from beginning to end. Suddenly Anne started running. “The first one to get to the beach gets ten dollars!” she shouted behind her. “Hey!” Even though Anne had gotten a head start, Tommy still flew ahead of her. By the time Anne had reached the beach, he was already waiting for her with a small smirk on his face and his hand extended out in front of him. “Cough it up” “No way...” she said panting. She ruffled her brother’s hair and walked past him. Tommy was the fastest on his track team; he had the perfect body proportions, and was just plain fast. They both started walking onto the warm sandy beach, which was mostly covered with medium sized grey rocks. It wasn’t the most “ideal” beach, but the water was warm. And sometimes, when the day was hot, and the children were tired, they would lay on the rocks and absorb the their heat for hours. They would listen to the rolling waves crash on the sandy floor, and feel their vibrations. Seagulls flying by only to swoop down and steel a last bit of bread that was left behind. And when one would listen very carefully, they would hear the wind whispering soothing words. Then ever so carefully their eyes would open, and take in the overwhelming blue of the clear sky. “Come on!” Tommy yelled who was already running into the water. “Wait you forgot your sunscreen!” shouted Anne. It was too late; he was completely emerged in the blue ocean. All he could hear 14
was the churn of the waves and the sound of his own heartbeat. “He never listens...” she muttered. She squeezed the lotion onto her small hand, and spread it throughout her arms, legs, and the small margin of her back that she could reach. Suddenly thunder sounded in the distance. Anne looked up to the sky, it had just dawned onto her that the once cheery blue sky was replaced with a deep grey. “How did that...?” her voice trailed off. It must have been like this for hours she had thought. It surprised her how ignorant she was to the change of weather. She was usually more attentive. “Huh” once again, she put it in the back of her mind Anne jogged down to the water, and slowly dipped her feet in. Unlike her brother, she always had to take her time when walking into the ocean. Her frail body couldn't take the shock of the cold water when it touched her skin, and she simply disliked the icy chill that ran down her spine. After a few minutes or so, when her nerves had adjusted, she too had emerged herself into the water. Tommy gleefully swam towards his sister and splashed water in her face. “Hey!” “What took you so...” his voice trailed off as he heard the crack of lighting. The once blue water had turned into a grey almost as dark as the sky. Its calm waters had turned into a monster of violent waves “I think we should head in.” Anne suggested “Just a few more minutes!” He begged 15
“Fine, but it’s not my fault if you drown.” Anne’s mind had wandered off. It must have been the numbness her body felt that put her into a strange state of serenity. Her legs that were treading water felt like led. Her eyes started to close and her body relaxed. The waves that were growing in size rapidly grew to a high curve, and then crashed on the shore. The strong currents whipped up sharp shells and rocks that cut and scraped her legs and stomach. Anne woke up. She lifted her head and rubbed her groggy eyes. Her mouth was full of gravely sand and her face was covered with small cuts that sting when she touched them. Her arms and legs were similarly marked except they were caked with dry blood. She stood up but immediately got a head rush, so she sat down on a nearby log. She looked at her surroundings. It took her a while, but soon realized she was on the same beach as before. Everything was the same except for two things: The air had that eerie feeling one gets after a storm, and that Tommy was nowhere to be seen. “Tommy?” Anne shouted. Only the cold words of silence replied.
Tiki Wojcik grade 7 Accepting the Unexpected Their mother had been quiet for a while now. When the kids came home from school, she wasn’t there to greet them. Instead of warm cookies and milk, her children were greeted with a closed door. When it was time for dinner, she came out with a bag of melted ice held to her head and popped five TV dinners in the microwave. “When the microwave goes off, let it cool for five minutes, then eat it.” She always said the same thing. Then she padded across the wooden floor, back into her room, and shut the door without another word about it. She returned an hour later for a small glass of orange juice. That’s the only thing she had eaten for at least a week now. It had all started two weeks before, and the children had not known why. She went from a tan, muscled woman to a frail, pale-faced lady with deep circles under her eyes. Her veins were bulging out of her hands and a line layer of pink skin outlined her collarbone. Whenever one of her kids thanked her, or told her they loved her, she cringed like an old cat. Not saying a word, she would walk back into her room and shut the door, with her children staring hopefully after her. “What’s wrong with her?” said nine yearold Elvis one hot afternoon. It was late fall and 17
he was fanning himself with his math booklet. “I don’t know.” Bobby answered in a monotone voice. The same voice that everyone had adapted to for the past week, how else were they to express their emotion? He walked over to the window, he pulled and pushed and tried to get it to open. He was as strong as a fourteen year old could be and he just couldn’t get it open for the life of him. He grunted. After a few more failed attempts he gave up and banged his muscular fists to the glass. “A small house on the outskirts of town and we can’t even get the window to open on a day like today? We even live by the water and we get no breeze. Aren’t houses by the water supposed to be cold? I opened this window just the other week.” He wiped the sweat from his brow. “Calm down,” said 16 year-old Violet from behind her book. She was sitting on the shabby brown leather couch. Elvis shrugged, looking back down at his math booklet. Elvis didn’t like to do homework, he would rather play outside with his friends. Or at least the ones that would come up the hill to play with him. Elvis had dark hair that fell just below his ears and blue eyes, unlike Bobby’s dusty red hair and brown eyes. Later, their mother came out, paler than before, and the children were perched in various spaces. Bobby was sitting in the hotelgreen armchair working on some equations for science, his favorite subject. Elvis was sitting on the counter, staring into space, when I’m sure he was supposed to be working on the math problems in his hand. Violet was still seated on the couch with the same book in the same curled up position. Their mother’s skin was sagging and her mouth crooked down into a frown. She 18
looked at least ten years older than her 34 years of age. She had big dark splotches on her face, like craters on a moon, Bobby observed. Her eyes were wet with tears and she startled her children with her some-what changed appearance. “Why don’t you wake your sister and brother from their nap, Violet? I have a special surprise.” She said nervously. “Yes mother.” Violet rose and left only to return moments later carrying her younger sister Tellulah and holding Tony’s hand. Tellulah was three years old and blond as could be. Her hair was cut short around her face, making her look like a boy, and it differed from Violet’s long, dark brown hair. She held her brother Tony by his small hand. His blond hair was pushed gently against his face after his nap. Only two years older than Tellulah, he looked the same age, if not younger. Tony toddled over to the couch and clenched his chubby fists, banging them down on the cushion. He smiled and gurgled looking around at his siblings. Tellulah laughed her high-pitched laugh and reached out towards her brother. Violet set her down on the couch and she grabbed her brother in a big embrace. “Hey look! Tellulah is making her first friend, and it only took three years!” Elvis said, laughing. “You’re right, now at least she’ll have a friend for the winter!” Bobby said. The room erupted in laughter, all but their mother was laughing at this pointless banter. She went to her room and closed the door and nothing more was to be heard out of her except the occasional sob or blowing of the nose. When kids realized their 19
missing mother, they became sober, glancing uneasily around. “Mama?” Elvis said. “I’ll be out in a moment!” She replied as if they weren’t her children, but mere houseguests visiting for the night. Like she wasn’t the one who had fed them their whole life. Changed their diapers, tucked them in at night and gotten them dressed in the morning. As if she wasn’t the one who had raised them at all. Seconds later their mother reappeared and glancing around she smiled and head to the kitchen. Gray light streamed in through the windows and the heat was starting to subside, much to the thanks of the children. The weather in Morova was always different; I guess that explains why it’s a desert. Their new, thick metal door stood open showing off its new metal lock, the commander of the ship regulating who was coming in and who was not. Their kitchen was not an amusing color, a plain gray like the inside of a hospital. The outside looked more colorful, that being said it looked like the outside of a post office. Their house was the only brick house on the hill, and the only house on the hill. It was the only house on the outskirts of town because they couldn’t afford one in town. Their mother was rustling through the refrigerator and brought out a small bag of oranges. “Down at the store yesterday I bought some oranges. Bright, plump, juicy, well, I just couldn’t resist!” She exclaimed, then paused looking at her children’s gentle expressions. Her eyes softened. “Well, why don’t you kids go outside and split them between you. I’ll get myself a glass of orange juice and come right...out.” She turned to the refrigerator and 20
slowly started to pour herself a glass of orange juice. “But mama, it’s cold outside!” Elvis remarked. “Can’t we just eat them in here?” their mother swiveled around. “No,” she snapped, her gentle expression fading away. “You must eat them outside. It is only the better that you get some fresh air.” She shoved the bag into Bobby’s arms, the rest of the children filed outside behind him. Stepping out onto the gray cement patio with two plastic green chairs and sitting down, Violet glanced back at the door. Her mother was standing there with her hand on the lock and she was staring right into the eyes of Violet. There were those five seconds where everything was silent. Bobby was buttoning the top button on Tellulah’s sweater. Elvis was setting Tony on the ground. The wind was blowing lightly and the tall grass surrounding the house was swaying silently. Both mother and daughter were staring into each other’s eyes, but only one knew what was in store for the other. Birds chirped above swishing and swaying around the children and hovering near to see if they had any food. Their mother’s gaze faltered. She shut the door. The next thing Violet heard was a click and the door was lock. She was absolutely terrified. The door was locked, the new door. “Wait!” Violet jumped out of the plastic chair, which was thrown to the ground in her haste, and threw herself against the door. “What are you doing?” Bobby shouted, looking up from Tellulah. “She locked us out! She locked the door!” Violet shrieked, rising to her feet. “The new door!” She was erupting from her usually quiet 21
self. “What? That can’t be true.” He patted Tellulah on the back and she went off to play with Tony. He ran over to her and put his hand on her forehead. “Are you feeling alright?” Violet slapped his hand away. “Go look at the door, it’s locked. Locked I tell you! Take a look!” Violet threw her hands up in the air and collapsed to the floor. “Elvis, will you calm her down and I’ll carry her inside? I think this week has been a bit much for her.” Bobby stood on the rubble of the steps directing Elvis. Tellulah and Tony were playing with stones and throwing them at each other, unaware of their surroundings. Elvis gingerly walked over to Violet. “Calm down,” he tried to comfort her and patted her on the back. “Don’t touch me.” She warned, her face still towards the ground. He removed his hand. “Come on, Violet, let’s go.” He grabbed her by the arm, but was to slow to let go when her hand struck him across the cheek. “I said, don’t touch me!” She rouses like an angry cloud of dust. Elvis cowered in fear and clutched his cheek in his hands. “Hey! What’d you do that for?” Bobby shouted from the door. “Is it locked or is it locked?” She smirked and crossed her arms. “It’s locked alright.” He answered. Pause. Everyone has stopped moving and is frozen in time, just like a movie. Now these kids don’t know what’s going on. Their mother locked them out and they don’t know why. I know why. The Representative has been running Morova for over thirty binoms. Now you’re 22
probably wondering who the Representative is. He runs every Establishment in Morova, he’s the big guy that makes all the rules. He always makes the same rules. XI250 states clearly: In the late fall of every third binom, the parents or guardian of every child must preclude them from entering their homes. The most intellectual offspring who survive for the longest out of three weeks and get into their homes will join their friends and family on a journey for create a new Establishment. The others, who do not get into their homes within three weeks, or die off in the trying, will be left by their friends and family to nourish an Establishment of their own. Every parent or guardian will be informed of this occurrence two weeks before the event. Any trace or memory of an Acceptance will be erased. If anyone fails to comply with the previously mentioned rules will face a slow and painful death. The Acceptance Speech of 3010 was truly a mishap. Now you might be wondering what a binom is if you don’t live in the Morova. It’s 100 years. The Acceptance Speech of 3010 was made to ensure that each new Establishment would be smarter than the rest. It is the Representative’s way of expanding the nation. They had all this land yet they didn’t know what to do with it. So they created the Acceptance, which will make Establishments all over Morova. All right, let’s continue. “So what do we do?” Elvis asked, he was standing a ways away from Violet. “I don’t know!” Bobby shouted. The wind became stronger, whipping around. “Let’s get the little kids under some shelter.” He went over to Tellulah and picked her up. She looked 23
flustered, her blond curls were blowing in the wind and her small nose was running just the slightest. Tony looked up from the ground, his hands covered in dirt. Violet went over and grabbed him by the armpits and he snuggled against her neck. All five children made their way to the corner of the house. The corner where the rats live and where all their hairballs were hidden under the fall leaves. They sat the toddlers down. Tony and Tellulah snuggled up to Elvis who was in between them. Bobby motioned to Violet who was stroking Tellulah’s head. “What do we do?” Bobby asked desperately. “The windows! I doubt those would be locked, right?” Violet replied. They rushed over to the other side of the house where it wasn’t that windy. They took hold of the rusty latch and pushed. And pushed. And pushed. But nothing happened. Tiny droplets of water started to rain down on them. “Of course they’re shut. I tried to open them earlier remember?” Bobby asked, giving up from his final attempt. A tear slipped down Violet’s cheek and down her nose, finally dripping to settle on her cracked lips. The wind blew harder and colder and with every gush of wind it sent shivers up both their spines. ‘’It’s too cold out here.” Violet whispered through the cold. Bobby nodded, Clearly they would be out here for a while though. They made their way back to the more or less concealed corner to find Elvis, Tony, and Tellulah snuggled together like three puppies. Tony’s skin had turned gray, much like the color of the sky, and his eyelids were closed in a 24
dream. Violet and Bobby squished their way in, leaving Tellulah to sit on Violet’s lap and Tony on Bobby’s. As close quarters as it was, not much body heat was shared between them. The two oldest had contemplated on where to get food and it was long past dark when they got to sleep. The next morning they awoke, much to their discomfort, cramped and rigid. Tony lay in front of them, a thin body, curled up and vulnerable. He must have gotten pushed away during our sleep, thought Violet, who had awoken in the midst of dawn. She got up and scooped up Tony, surprised at his cold-to-thetouch skin, and cuddled him in attempt to warm him, but only woke her siblings. After a quick quarrel on who should stay with the toddlers, they all decided to go along and find a way in to the house. They stumbled on a slip of paper, you know, the lined yellow kind. Little did they know, this was the slip of paper they weren’t supposed to see. “Open it! What does it say?” Elvis craned his neck to look at the note in Bobby’s hand. Bobby’s eyes widened after he read the letter thoroughly. Violet face became a thundercloud when she finished the letter a few seconds after Bobby. Elvis grabbed the note from Bobby’s grasp and started to read out loud. “The Acceptance: 4000, you may not recall the previous acceptances...” He started. “On the fifth of November... lock the doors and windows... only three weeks... ones left behind will suffer... no matter the age... no matter the intelligence... no word is to be spoken... only two children from each family... children that make it inside their house will come along... part of a process to further colonize... Sincerely, The 25
Representative.” Elvis’ mouth popped into an O . “A what? An Acceptance?” He raged and handed the crumpled note back to Bobby. “That’s horrible! How come we didn’t find out about this?” He screamed, in attempt to find some hope in his voice, which was muffled in the harsh wind. “Enough!” Bobby shrieked. “Just enough already, okay? Everybody is freaking out, everybody is outraged, someone needs to take control but that won’t happen unless we all calm down and work together.” His last words lingered in the wind. The birds that were hovering above them before came back and tweeted happily around them. Two birds swooped to the ground. Leaving the others behind. Instead of rejoining each group went off in a different direction and didn’t come back together for a while. “That’s not gonna happen.” Violet whispered. “Why not?” “Because only two of us get to live.” After she said this, there was a silence. A very long and very uncomfortable silence. That’s when it became clear to all of them what a cruel world they were living in. They still had questions, many at that, but they wouldn’t be answered, at least not for a while. Elvis turned his head and walked away. Bobby looked at Violet in exasperation, but she wasn’t looking at him. She was walking away, hand in hand with Tellulah who was looking back at Bobby. She looked confused with her blond curls bobbing up and down in the back of her head and she giggled, turning her head back around. Bobby stared at her curls bouncing in the sunlight. Suddenly it 26
wasn’t about the heat and the windows, but about who would finally make it inside the house. It’s the survival of the fittest and some people just were not fit enough. Bobby grabbed Tony. “It’s gonna be you and me buddy, just you and me. You and me are gonna make it inside the house.” He said. But even Tony looked a little unconvinced. Bobby grabbed Tony and set him down under a shady tree in the distance. “What should we do Tony? Get food or get inside?” Tony didn’t answer but lay down. “What’s wrong little guy, cat got your tongue?” Tony had never spoken before. It was a worry to the whole family, they didn’t know what was wrong with him. At school he didn’t play with the other kids, he sat in his chair. He would just sit, and think, I’d guess. Tony closed his eyes, his skin had stayed the same gray color since last night. Bobby knew with all his heart that if he didn’t get Bobby warm, he might not make it. He put his arm around Tony and hugged him close trying to transfer body heat. “I know, the pipes near the bottom of the house. Always warm. Hopefully they’d be warm on a day like today.” It was still morning and Bobby had no clue what to do, on the other hand, Elvis knew exactly what to do. He was digging a hole, he was sure it would work. He dug his fingernails into the dirt. Grain by grain he made his way, and was actually quite far along when Bobby came around with Tony. When Bobby saw Elvis he turned around and went back behind the corner. He sat Tony down and told him to stay while he would go talk to Elvis. He went around to find Elvis, but he wasn’t there. Only the ditch 27
he was making remained. Oh well, thought Bobby, he wouldn’t be much help anyway. He turned around and went to see Tony. When he got there he just watched. Tony had climbed up the window and was sitting on the window ledge, pounding at the glass. The curtains were open and you could see inside. With a flash of color his mother came to the window, she glanced at Tony sitting on the window ledge. He was now sobbing and his tears were getting everywhere. He would wipe his face and then pound more on the window, leaving streaks across the pane. His mother just stared and watched him cry. Bobby did too. It was as if they were frozen in time. At last his mother closed the curtains shut with a clang. Horrible, thought Bobby. He grabbed Tony, who was still sobbing and has tears running down his face, and watched as his mother closed all the other curtains shut. On the other side of the house, Violet and Tellulah had fallen asleep. Luckily they had managed to grab the bag of oranges before anyone else had noticed they were gone. Tellulah wouldn’t eat any, but Violet was starved and she ate most of them. She tried to force feed Tellulah the small slices of orange but she just wouldn’t eat it. That’s when Violet knew that Tellulah wouldn’t make it if she didn’t get her inside, and quick. Over the next couple days, the same thing went on. They all avoided each other, of course they saw each other but they didn’t interact. They didn’t know how to get food though, only Violet had had food in a week, and Tellulah still wouldn’t eat anything. Elvis had given up on his ditch for it was going nowhere. “I’ll just have to throw rocks at the 28
window,” Bobby said to Tony. They both looked disheveled, as if they had been living on the road for days, which they had. Tony didn’t reply, he didn’t do much of anything actually. His skin was seeping in to his bones and his hair lay flat on his tiny head. He was always shivering and his eyes were blank with no emotion. Bobby was skinny now, as well, and he just kept trying to get in the house. On the roof, picking the lock, everything. Now he tried to throw a giant rock at the glass. It hardly made a dent. “What do I do?” Bobby shouted. The wind had ceased from the few days before. Tony was asleep, he lay on the ground, curled up in a bundle. The birds were chirping nearby. Two birds had suddenly fell to the ground, without the others expecting. They were now hovering over this these birds expectantly, but it did not move. The birds kept on chirping and then they left. Leaving the deceased birds on the ground. Bobby heard someone shuffling behind him. “What do you want?” He asked, turning around thinking it was Violet or Elvis. But when he turned around, it wasn’t either. It was a classmate. Now, before I continue, I might add, Bobby was quiet. The kind who likes to be by himself. He didn’t have many friends, actually he didn’t have any. So it was a surprise to see this girl standing here. “Hello.” She said. “Hello.” “Are you locked out of your house too?” She asked quite straightforward. She was small, about the size of Elvis, even though they were in the same grade. She definitely looked thinner and paler than she had before though. She was the only child of the Mayor, always well 29
fed, always draped in fabulous clothing, but today she looked plain. “Yes.” “Did you find a way in?” “No.” “What happened to your brother?” She asked pointing at Tony who was fast asleep. “Nothing! Why? Does it looks like there’s something wrong?” He panicked, thinking she might know more than him. “No, I was just asking. Sheesh.” There was a silence, waiting for one of them to speak. “Are you hungry?” Bobby asked. She relaxed. “Yes.” She replied, hoping that he would have some food. “Me too.” The girl visibly tensed up, now knowing he had no food. “Bobby! Bobby come quick!” Elvis ran out from the side of the house. Not even glancing at the girl next to him. “What?” Bobby asked. “Just come now!” He shrieked, desperate. Bobby followed him around the corner. So did the girl. Bobby cried out when he saw Tellulah. She was lying on the ground. Her baby eyelids drooping over her big eyes. She looked sickly, her skin was gray. Her pink sweater was ripped and choked full of dry dirt. Violet was stroking her hair with her forefinger. Bobby just stared down at Tellulah’s lifeless body. “What did you do?” He shrieked. It was horrible for him to look down at his dead sister. “You killed her?” “No! Of course not. She was just dead when I came back.” Violet replied. 30
“Sure,” he replied. “Just don’t go killing off anyone else. Because Tony and I are gonna be the ones getting in.” With that he left with a stomp. It’s utterly unbelievable how families can turn on each other within a week. He might as well have scorned himself for when he got back, for Tony wasn’t there. The little blond toddler was nowhere to be seen. Bobby let out a horrifying shriek. He had lost Tony, he could be dead, lost, or wandering around in the wilderness by now. Bobby searched, and he spent two whole days searching around the area. He even went farther out than Tony could have gone alone. He didn’t even decide to tell his brother and sister, he felt so ashamed. First he was howling at Violet for being so irresponsible, yet there he was, he had lost his brother. Tony is probably dead by now, Bobby assumed and tears slipped down his face at the thought. He let out one more terrifying shriek that would make anyone jump out of their skin, and then sat down and cried. He cried for hours, a tear a minute. Many days later, Violet was sitting away from the house. Down near the water where no one could see her. She had been looking for days for a way to get in the house. When Tellulah died it was like things were not the same anymore. At least Tony is still alive, she thought. She didn’t know that Tony had died the same day as Tellulah, Bobby hadn’t gotten up the courage to talk to her. But today was the day he would tell her but neither of them knew it. Violet was feasting on a fish she had caught in the water and Bobby was coming down to the water to try to do the same thing. “Hello.” Bobby said, startling Violet. 31
“Hello.” She replied uneasily. “I just wanted to tell you. Tony died.” The words just kept flowing and he couldn’t keep them out. “He died the same day as Tellulah, when I got back he wasn’t there. I assumed he died because I looked everywhere. And I mean everywhere. I don’t know what happened, I mean first he was there then he wasn’t. I just couldn’t find him, and then I felt so bad. I didn’t want to tell you because I didn’t know what you’d say.” He sighed. “Maybe we should do something.” She said quietly, not looking so surprised. “What do you mean?” “I mean like a ceremony or something. Because they died. I feel like we should at least do something for them, you know, them being so young and all.” “Yeah, I guess your right. We should probably invite Elvis. Maybe something by the water. You know throw flowers in the water or something.” And they did just that. That same afternoon, they gathered by the water. Each brought his or her own contribution to the memorial. Elvis brought a handful of daisies, which had wilted slightly from the strong wind. Violet held a bouquet of violets. Bobby held a piece of bark, which on he inscribed with charcoal, Tony and Tellulah, as neat as he possibly could. “We’ll put the flowers on the wood and then push it out into the water.” Bobby decided, Violet and Elvis nodded. “Let’s sing a song, what song did they like?” “How about we don’t sing. We can just be quiet. Besides, they didn’t really like any songs any way, we never listened to any.” said 32
Elvis. “Yeah.” Violet agreed. “Alright.” Bobby set the bark in the sand. The three of them, leaning over, arranged the flowers around the names. Elvis propped a violet and a daisy so that they stood up. “This will be Tellulah,” he said, pointing to the violet. “And this will be Tony.” He pointed to the daisy. When done decorating, Violet picked up the memorial and set it in the water. It floated slowly away. The breeze was pushing it farther and farther away, just as the Acceptance was pushing the children farther away from each other. The only noise was the bluebirds whistling overhead. The current was drifting and the memorial was sliding away. It started to sink, the water was washing away the flowers, which were now floating around the half-sunken memorial. The writing was washing off and splotches of charcoal washed away into the waves. All the children were crying as much as they could conceal it. Violet’s eyes were watering, Bobby was sniffling not so quietly, and Elvis was wiping away tears as if it was completely normal. But none of them seemed it necessary to cater to the others needs. Finally the memorial sank and the only trace left was the flowers floating in the black water. They watched the whole time, each to himself or herself making their own wishes. When it seemed like there was nothing more to be watched, they all joined in a big embrace. The bluebird’s whistling overhead died out and the birds all flew away in different directions never to meet again. The siblings did not speak, and when it seemed like it was time to part, they did. Each went his or her own way. When they left, 33
each had an idea, a very sad, very loyal, and very important idea. Elvis went back to his side of the house, and, being very brave for his age, wrote a letter. On this letter he wrote in charcoal, You guys deserve the prize, So I will leave. I’m young, I do not know what I want, And all the better because, You guys deserve it. I’ll go away and don’t come after me, All the best, Elvis. Little did he know that Violet was doing the same on the other side of the house. I’m leaving, And I won’t tell you where I’m going. But you guys will win the prize. I’ve realized you both deserve it, Where I’d rather help nourish another community. Goodbye! Violet Of course Violet did not want to leave her family and support a new Establishment. But she felt obliged, and after two of her younger siblings had died, she had had enough. As she finished her last word, Bobby was starting his letter. I’ll keep this short and sweet because nobody likes a long, sad goodbye letter, Today at the memorial I realized that I want you guys to win the Acceptance, So goodbye. 34
One day, One day one of us was bound to leave, And that might as well be me. Tomorrow is the last day to get in the house, I see it that if I leave today, You will have a day to re-acquaint yourselves with mother and each other, Just in time to go and create a new Establishment. Please tell mother Iâ€™m sorry, But I just have to go. They all gave their letters one hard, last, look. And they all set out in different directions. They looked back once or twice, but not enough to see their other siblings heading off in the other direction. They all faded in to the distance, all bound for different destinations. Their mother did not know of this until the next day. She went outside, not spotting the children, and found the papers. She crumpled them in her hand, a cheek sliding down her face. She sat there for a while rereading and crumpling the papers more. There was no noise, only the wind. And the silence was deafening. She stood up and walked up the steps to her home and went inside. The mother didnâ€™t need to close the door, or maybe she just forgot. The strong winds came and blew the door shut with a bang. And that was the end of that.
Alex Madoff grade 6 The Treacherous Escape I had gone some ten or twelve steps in this manner when the torn hem of my robe caught my heel, causing me to stumble till I fell violently, face forward. When I reached for the floor to lift myself up again, my hands caught nothingness, and I almost plummeted towards certain death. My fingers groped for something solid to lift myself up again, and when I had found it I scrambled away from my near confrontation with Death. As I was scrambling backwards, I ran into a wall and sat still, contemplating what to do next. It was very dark, but I could hear a steady drip of water coming from the other side of my room. The time between each drop was about five seconds, and in this method I kept track of the time I had spent sitting in the corner of my dungeon. After what felt like an extremely long time I decided to shuffle towards the pit, and count my steps as I went. I counted eight steps in all, and when I had reached it I felt around the edges trying to gauge how big it was. As I was doing this, I heard a soft creaking sound coming from above me. After tilting my head up I could faintly sense a movement that seemed to be coming closer and closer to me. As I began to investigate the creaking sound, I realized that it was also rapidly increasing in volume. After 36
further examination, I found out that spikes were coming down from the ceiling! “This does not bode well for my escape,” I stated. The spikes were still descending, and I knew that I didn’t have very much time left. In fear, I retreated backwards towards the wall. When I finally touched it, I seemed to be in a space farther back than the rest of the wall around it. In order to make sure I wasn’t imagining things, I reached out to feel the wall around me. Indeed there was a notch in the wall, and I happened to be inside it. I realized that this could be my chance to escape the spikes. I flattened my body against the wall and stood as straight as I could. The spikes were only inches above me now, and I was standing as stiff as a soldier. I saw the spikes glide right in front of my face, slice the front of my shirt, and land with a satisfying crunch between my feet. My entire body was stiff from fright, and I collapsed and sat down. My eyes were starting to drift closed, but abruptly I opened them again. I did not want to fall asleep. They started to drift closed again, but this time I was sleeping. When I came to, I realized that my tormentors had moved me to a different cell. I looked around and saw that there was a faint light coming from a high, barred window in the top of the ceiling. It was just enough light so that I could see most of my cell, except for the corners. I got up and began to look around, making sure not to overlook anything that might be key to my alleged escape. As I was looking around, I saw that the floor had ominous, ovalshaped marks on it. After a closer look at these marks, I realized that they were slightly pushed into the ground as if someone had installed them 37
after the floor had been made. The marks looked interesting, and I was curious to see what they meant. I walked over to the spot and stood there, wondering what they might mean. In horror as I stood on the patch it began to sink into the ground. It was a slow movement at first, but then began to increase in speed. It had sunk about a foot when I heard a low whistle, as if something was flying through the air. I looked around in surprise but saw nothing. Then I felt pain. Pain worse than anything ever known to mankind. I looked down in astonishment and found a lethal dart sticking out of my shoulder. In vain I tried to pull the dart out of my body, but it only made the wound hurt significantly more than before. My body shuddered violently causing me to collapse, unconscious. When I awoke, my shoulder was numb. I managed to pull the dart out and wrap a strip of my shirt around the wound to staunch the flow of blood. It must have become daylight while I was unconscious, because I saw that there was light from the window covering my entire cell. I walked towards the light, and found a wooden door. I strained and pulled with all of my strength, furiously trying to open it. Suddenly an idea appeared in my brain. I picked up a large stone from the floor of my cell, and clenched it tightly in my fist. Then I swung at the lock. I kept swinging until I heard the lock give way. I pushed open the door and sunlight rushed in awaking my senses and putting me at ease. I was free.
Kate Newhouse grade 6 Goodbye Eduardo I was running down the stone pavement. Faster and faster I went, but it was of no use. I would be caught soon. As I headed down the main street, I looked back behind me, only to see the dreadful figures only a few feet away. What was one to do in my situation? I tried to run even faster, so I could have a small chance at escaping, but then the worst possible event occurred. As the wind was blowing upon my face, I had felt free. This was completely fruitless, for at that same moment the cool hands of the guard wrapped around my arm, whispering," Time for your sentence." In shock, I stumbled upon the hard, stone pavement. I fell hard, so hard, that I couldn't recall some of the happenings that took place on that dreadful day. What I know is that no one could have gone through the struggles I had faced, for my death sentence was far worse than any other. Hours later I awoke in some sort of dungeon. I jumped up frantically, but was forced back. My arms were chained up to a wall, strangely two feet behind me. Fortunately my legs were free. I then noticed that my head was in immense pain, my mind spinning. I couldn't quite tell what the dungeon looked like, for the only light was peaking in from a square window somewhere across the room. I stretched out my bare feet backwards, and ran them over the 39
slippery wall behind me, in hopes of finding a door. Being that I was naturally unlucky, there were no exits. This was the worst part of my punishment. This was the part in which I was filled with endless fear and wonder. I didn't know what was going to happen to me. My whole life was a mystery. I didn't even know who I was, or what caused me to be here in this prison. Suddenly, a half melted candle lit on a small table about one foot away from me. Even though the candle was small, it displayed enough light so I could see the room around me. In this dungeon there was no furniture. The walls were made of stone, and curved up until they hit the ceiling. On these walls were notes written in a foreign language. The floor was made of dirt, covered with hand drawn pictures of people dying from tragic deaths. Across the room from me was the window, a door, and a... my heart stopped. On the other side of the small room, chained up to the wall, was a petrifying skeleton. Its presence filled me with despair. Its appearance made the room dark. Though it had no eyes I felt as if it was watching me. Was this my fate? Was I supposed to end up like this brittle, old skeleton? Dead? Maybe so. From out of nowhere its head turned to face directly at me. It looked closely into my eyes and smirked. Then it whispered with its feeble mouth, "This is just the beginning," and turned back to its previous position. Was this a dream? "No," I thought to myself. This was real. I sat there as still, as possible, though it knew I was there and alive. 40
Something came to my attention. Peering in at me through the window was a man wearing a dark cloak. He looked at me with gloom. Soon he took his cloak off. The man was old, and had a long beard that covered half his face. His eyes were bright blue, and he had broken teeth. He spoke in a deep voice," Be careful," and carefully tossed me a picture, and walked unhappily away. This picture was of me with two lovely kids. I stared at it, trying to figure out who those kids were, but I had no idea. This gave me a painful headache. Despite, my confusion, something was making me feel very uncomfortable. I realized that the room had become very chilly. I felt as if I was stuck in a freezing mound of snow. I kept myself near the small fire from the candle, hoping it would keep me warm. Not only was I freezing, but I was very hungry and thirsty. I would only get one tiny meal a day. This meal only consisted of water and bread. It would appear in front of me every morning, on a dirty tray. I had to eat it very quickly, so the rats couldn't get it. Time seemed to be going by very slowly, but who was I to be judging how fast time was going by? There was no way of knowing. Maybe I felt this way because my life here was endless. The only thing I could do was write on the dirt ground. Sometimes I would write down what was happening to me, other times I would write stories, but what I did very rarely, was draw. I would draw small scenes, of what I remembered. Even though what I remembered was very slim. Colder and colder the room became. Ice was growing on the ground, and walls. I 41
couldn't stop shivering, or coughing. All I was wearing was a very worn out shirt and ripped trousers. I couldn't take it! This room was far too cold for anybody to bear. I screamed, hoping that somebody, anybody would hear me. But nothing happened. There was complete silence. I had lost all hope. I tried what I thought I would never do. This option scared me more than death itself. But I had to try. I was no coward, even though the idea was practically impossible. I looked across the room, and spoke in a most timid voice, â€œI know this probably won't happen, but please, will you help me?" The small burning flame of the candle went out. Darkness came pouring in. For a few seconds, I thought my life was about to end, when a feeling of warmth filled my body. I relaxed. Was this even possible? Then I heard a familiar voice, which sounded just like the voice of... I couldn't remember. The strange part of it was that I couldn't tell if the voice was speaking to me out loud, or if it was just in my head. What it was saying to me was this, "Think before you decide your time here is over, for it never ends until it says so." A chill went down my spine. The candle flickered back on. I tensed. I turned my head slowly backwards, and to my horror, standing right behind me was the terrifying figure of the Skeleton. It stared deep into my soul. Then it slowly picked up its boney arm from the floor, and quickly sliced it across my chains. It spoke in its most quiet voice," Goodbye Eduardo."
Anna Lee grade 8 Go Home Janey I was fourteen years old when I decided to run away. A gawky, unpopular, misunderstood, and generally ignored girl, I didn't think anyone would even notice if I was gone. And if anyone were to notice, the conversation would only go as far as: "Hey, where's that girl Jane Delesario?" and then: "Who?". Living in one of the greatest cities in the world, New York City, I thought I knew everything I needed to know about the world. As it turned out, I didn't. Now, the story of my running away is a unique one, because unlike what you might be expecting to hear, nothing bad happened to me. I wasn't flagged down by a creepy middle-aged man, I didn't get lost, and none of my things got stolen. In all truthfulness, the period of time between my leaving and my finding home again was approximately 10 or 12 hours, and during those 10 or 12 hours, I learned things that helped me throughout my whole life; and it was all because of Bowie. When I first had the idea to run away, I knew instantly where I would go. You see, I lived in New York City, on the Upper West Side, but I hadn't lived there my whole life. I had lived in Portsmouth, New Hampshire until I was six. I lived in a little two-story house painted light blue, with a white door and a red mailbox on 43
which I had finger-painted “The Delesarios”. It was the last house on Kennebec Drive, right next to an abandoned farm; secluded from the rest of the world. My parents didn't think it was necessary for me to go to preschool--the nearest one was 45 minutes away anyway-- so I spent most of my days at home, learning by experience. I was never bored though; I couldn't be. I had my art sets, my backyard, my imagination, and my sweet sycamore tree. That sycamore tree was huge. On hot summer days it was my shelter, and whenever I was upset, I would sit in the shadow of it, my back against the trunk and my head in my hands, tears streaming down my cheeks. I had my own little world in my backyard, a world where I wasn’t the weird one, where I was happy, and I never wanted to leave it. When my dad got offered a promotion, and I found out the job was in New York, I was devastated. As any frustrated sixyear-old would, I threw a tantrum. When that didn't work, I started to cry. Both acts were ignored, evidently, and we moved one month later. I carefully planned out how I would run away, and how I would get to Portsmouth. I would pack a backpack with three sets of clothes, I would wear my sweatshirt, and I would pack two boxes of Quaker Oats Chewy Bars. I had been saving up birthday money and such since I was eight, and I had about $300, all of which I would bring with me. I would leave the house at 5 AM, before both of my parents were up, and I would take a cab to Penn Station. I would then catch the first train to Portsmouth. There wouldn’t be many people on the train then, and if there were I would tell them I was 44
visiting my grandmother. It was a rainy May morning when I left my apartment. There were a fair amount of cars out, for a Sunday at 6 in the morning, and I only had to wait five minutes before I got a cab. I was at Penn Station in less than ten minutes. When I got there, the place was strangely deserted. For a brief moment I even thought it was closed, or something, but I pulled at the door, and it opened. I went inside. I had never been to Penn Station before, and I marveled at its vastness. I had stood, just looking for about five minutes, when I noticed the place was nearly empty. Only four people had walked by me. I quickly became uneasy, doubting myself and having second thoughts about the whole thing, thinking about how my parents were probably worried, and I should just go home. Not long after this thought, I had a maddening realization that my parents weren’t even awake yet, and that had they been, they wouldn’t be looking for me; they would be drinking coffee and talking about work. I went to the ticket booth with a new found clip in my step. It would take over five hours to get to there, but I didn’t care. I bought my ticket for the 6:30 train to Portsmouth, and sat down on a bench on the platform, waiting patiently to escape. The train arrived shortly, and by then there were five passengers. Myself, a blonde woman who looked about 28 and her toddler son, one white man who looked about 19 and needed a shave, and a peculiar-looking black man, with white hair and a short beard, who was seemed about 70 years old. He was carrying what looked like a sketchbook, and he had a suitcase with him. 45
I was the first person to get on the train. I sat down, put my backpack in the seat next to me, and sighed. The woman and her son got on after me, and took two seats in the aisle across from me. I didn’t see where the college man was sitting, but I soon became aware of the man with the sketchbook. He also sat across the aisle from me, directly across from the woman and her son. He was drawing them. I thought this interesting, and watched as the woman and her son appeared on the paper, their faces shaded perfectly; it almost looked like a photograph. Watching him draw was calming, and I soon fell asleep. “Yoo hoo, honey, wake up!” I was startled when I opened my eyes and saw the blonde woman about four inches from my face. “You’ve been asleep for about an hour honey,” she had a Southern accent, which made very little sense to me, “now, I think I heard you tell the ticket man that you’re headed to Portsmouth, but I wasn’t sure and me and Mr. Bowie over here were worried that you might miss your stop. We already passed one of them, and...” When she said Mr. Bowie, she motioned to the black man. He had ripped the sketch of her and her son out of his sketchbook and signed it, presumably to sell it to her. I glanced at it; the final version was even better than the sketch. After a few more seconds of staring at the man, I realized that I hadn’t said anything back to her, and that she, her son, and Mr. Bowie were all staring at me. “Oh, yeah, um,” I said, blinking and rubbing the sleep from my eyes, “I am getting off at Portsmouth. But thank you for waking me up, that was really nice of you.” 46
“No problem, sugar. Well, me and Tommy’s stop is up next so I’ve gotta pack my things up,” she said, to no one in particular. The train came to a halt, and the woman and her son got off. I looked around, and noticed that the college man had gotten off. It was just me and the man that the blonde woman called “Mr. Bowie”. And then, for some reason, which is unknown to me to this day, I started talking to Mr. Bowie. “That drawing you did of that lady was really good, by the way.” He blinked, and a smile formed on his face. “Thank you, that’s real nice of you.” “Are you going to Portsmouth too?” “No... well, actually, maybe.” “Maybe? Don’t you know where you want to go?” “Nope, this is just what I do. I ride on trains, I draw people, and then I sell the drawings to ‘em, to pay for the next train ticket. When the train comes to the end of it’s route, I spend a night in whatever town I end up in. Sometimes I keep ‘em though. The drawings I mean, if the person is really interestin’.” “Wow, that’s amazing. I wish I could do that...” “Well, I don’t know about that. Why are you goin’ up to Portsmouth anyway? And why are you alone?” “Oh, well, my parents want me to spend some time with my grandmother who lives up there. So I’m just going and I’m gonna stay with her for a little bit.” This response was unconvincing, and even I knew it. He believed me though. "Oh yeah? That’s great. What’s your 47
name, kid?” “I’m Jane, Mr. Bowie.” “Oh, drop the mister. You can just call me Bowie.” After that, I moved seats to the one across from Bowie. He showed me his portfolio, with all these amazing drawings of people he’d met on trains, who all had their own story. One of them was a woman who’d recently miscarried-she was crying in the drawing--, a man who was coming back from his father’s funeral, a young couple going on their honeymoon, a woman with a newborn and no husband, a man who’d survived cancer. The way he told me the stories of when he met them, and what they told him about themselves, was magical. It was like I had been there, with him. The most intense story he told was about a fifteen-year-old boy he’d drawn, who was epileptic. “He was telling me all about it, you know. What it was like to live with epilepsy. How he had to take these pills, and sometimes they had bad side effects, so he would have to switch. I asked him how he felt when he had the seizures and he said he felt all these different things, ya see. Sometimes he would feel dizzy, lightheaded. Or like he was going to throw up. Or numb, or anxious. But he couldn’t do anything about it. I was drawing him, and I was almost done. I was telling him some story, I don’t remember what it was, when the train entered a tunnel. You know in tunnels, you pass by the lights and they sort of flash by you. Well, I was drawing this boy and suddenly he started to shake. His eyes rolled back into his head, and he started jolting back and forth. I was scared, but I knew he was having a seizure. I had heard 48
before that when someone is having a seizure, you have to hold their tongue, because if you don’t they might try to swallow it and choke to death. So I held his tongue, and called out for help. That was one of the scariest experiences of my life.” “Wow. Was he okay after that?” “Yessir, help came and he was just fine, in a little... Hey, Janey, I was wondering...” “Yeah, Bowie?” “May I sketch you?” This question startled me. “Bowie, come on. I’m not interesting. I don’t have story. I’m not even pretty-” “Janey! Don’t talk like that. You’re beautiful. And truth is, I know you have a story.” “What do you mean?” I felt kind of anxious; like I was about to cry. “You’re not visiting your grandmother. You’re in trouble.” “No I’m not. Well... not exactly,” I managed to utter. “You’re not in trouble? Then what is it?” “I’m running away.” I looked away from him. I felt ashamed. Here, he had just told me about all these people who had real problems, and who dealt with them every day. Who weren’t cowards who ran away from everything instead of actually giving people a chance. And I was just there, my problems completely insignificant in comparison, almost convincing me that I had no reason to run away at all. “Running away? Jane, why would you ever want to run away?” “I don’t know...” I did know, of course, but for some reason I couldn’t put the sentence 49
together. “Janey, there’s something you need to understand about the world. There are a lot of bad people out there. A lot of good people, yes, but a lot of bad people too. There are also a lot of damaged people; there are not many happy people. And you, my dear, deserve to be happy. You’re smart, you’re beautiful, and you’re young. The world is your oyster, and you can’t let the fact that you’re different from everybody else stop you from going and getting want you want. Do you know what I’m going to say next?” I looked up at him. “Go home?” “Yes. Go home, Janey. Go home.” And that’s exactly what I did. Bowie finished his drawing of me, and it seemed even better than any of the drawings he’d shown me. I told him I liked it because he made me pretty, and he said “Child, I didn’t make you look like that. That’s how you are.” which made me smile. I wanted to buy the drawing from him, but he told me it was free. He said that he would keep it himself, but he wanted me to have it so that I would have something to remember him by. I got off the train at Portsmouth, and used a payphone at the station to call my mom. She picked up on the first ring. “Hi Mom. Yes, I’m fine. I’m so sorry. It’s a long story, but I need you to pick me up. I’m in Portsmouth at the train station...” turns out, both of my parents were worried after all. Bowie waved as he walked off into the distance, with his sketchbook and suitcase in tow. I watched him walk away, and he must have sensed I was looking, because he looked 50
back and smiled, like he just knew: we would meet again someday.
Elizabeth Zaccaro grade 6 The Walls Closed In “I had gone some ten or twelve steps in this manner when the torn hem of my robe caught my heel causing me to stumble till I fell violently, face forward.” A few hours earlier… I still sat there in the dark, confused. I hadn’t seen daylight for what seemed like forever. Just sitting in the dark was terrifying, I couldn’t see a thing and my arm was wet. I guessed it was drenched in blood for they had thrown me hard on my arm in this black, dark prison. My faith was slipping away. How could this happen? These awful people tore me from my home, my family, my life. Everything had disappeared. They occasionally gave me a loaf of bread and a drop of water but the rats would get to the “food” before me. Something I couldn’t figure out was why they kept me alive so long. Every day I thought one of them was going to come with a plate of “food” and instead of feeding it to me he would drag me to my death. One of them was going to kill me soon. I knew it; nobody ever came out of this prison, not alive nor dead. I was scared for my family; they needed me and I needed them. What were they thinking? They probably thought I was dead already. I wish time could reverse to that day they took me. I would have put up more of a 52
fight. It was not a surprise they would come, the question was when. When they came, my family begged them not to take me. They begged so hard they threatened to take them too. I knew I would have to be strong for my family. They took me to their “place” and asked me a bunch of questions. I was only half listening, though. I knew the important part was that my family was safe. I knew from then on that things would never be the same, even if I did come out of this place. This would scar everyone. Sill in the dungeon I decided to go for a walk around this place and see where it led me. I was walking and saw a pair of yellow, hungry eyes and I just knew it was the thing that killed everyone else. I was frightened so I started running away. Soon enough I could hear it’s footsteps on the cold stone floors. I tried to keep track of where I was going, but it was difficult because I could not see. I was up against the wall to make sure I wasn’t running in circles. “I had gone some ten or twelve steps in this manner when the torn hem of my robe caught my heel causing me to stumble till I fell violently, face forward. I knew I was going to die. . I was getting swallowed up by darkness. I probably could not withstand the sudden stop. I was wrong; I landed on cold wet stone. My mom always told me, “Life is like you are driving, the turns and decisions you make decide where you end up.” Right there I knew my life was going to take a turn…to death. I felt the wall and I thought it was moving, and then again I probably just was imagining it because I had just fallen a long way down. Then the walls did start 53
to close. I knew because the walls were moving faster and faster. What was I going to? I thought about my family and everyone I would miss. Then the stone walls completely closed in. I was dead and long gone. Everything had slipped through my fingers.
Nell Hurley grade 7 Solving the Murder on Fourth Street My name is Stephanie Von Snitzelbottom, but most people just call me Zazoo. (Don’t ask, it’s a long story). Anyway, I am a murder consultant. Yup, that’s right, I work with the police. My entire life has really been based on mysteries. I was adopted at the age of two, and my adoptive parents could be described as fugitives; their criminal behavior had us moving every year. I guess it was just meant to be like that, because it gave me a unique insight into devious minds and now the cops rely on me for help when a trail has run cold. I have put my “parent’s” past behind me and now I focus on putting bad people behind bars. This morning, I received a call about the murder, nothing unusual, I guess. Emily Jenkins (the woman who was murdered) was a journalist living in California. She was last seen at 8:30 pm leaving a local bar, with a man, who has yet to be identified. Somehow, he dodged all of the security tapes, obviously knowing what he was doing. All the police know is that Emily was murdered around 10:00pm at her home, a small town house on 4th street. There were scratch marks on the floor, a missing floorboard near the exit door and the victim had one bullet in her head. Here’s where I come in. 55
“Hey Zazoo! How’s it goin’?” Jacob said as I walked through the doors at the Police Station. Oh, if I forgot to mention Jacob, he is the man that works behind the information desk and delivers the mail around the Police Station, and by the way, he is always hitting on me! “Just the usual, I was called in today to help out with a murder. Where is Captain Ramirez? I was supposed to meet him in his office twenty minutes ago but he isn’t there.” I said looking behind me at the police officers hard at work in their cubicles. “Really? He came in about an hour ago. Maybe he went to make copies of the case folders.” He said casually. “Ok, Thanks Jake.” I said as I turned to walk away. I walked past Sam, Todd and Dylan, finally reaching the copy room when Sam interrupted me. Since I landed the job as lead murder consultant over her she has been so rude and mean, as if her stupid comments mean anything to me. “So Stephanie, seems that there is a new case every week because you just prance on in here like you belong! Well just remember, I should have had that job, and when you fail I will be right there ready to take your place. And don’t you forget it!” She said as she scowled at me over the top of her cubicle. “Just give it a rest Sam!” I said as I rolled my eyes and walked away. She is getting kind of annoying with how consistent she is with all of her rude talk about how she is “better” than I am. Why can’t she just give it a rest? 56
I finally opened the door to the copy room and look inside as I see Captain Ramirez grimacing at the manila envelope he held in his hand. “I have been looking everywhere for you! How does the case look?” I said as I pulled up a chair and sat down. “Well, besides the fact that a woman is dead, pretty good, I think this may be an easy one though. We found two sets of fingerprints in the house and we traced them back to Peter Sanchez and Ronald Rivera. But it seems very unlikely that Ronald would be involved because he is not a federal offender and he is 65 years old. So, it seems pretty weird to me.” He said, handing me a manila envelope. “Well I can go and check it out. Where does he live?” I asked staring into my envelope. “He lives one block South of where the girl was murdered.” He said taking a brief glance at me and looked right back down at the case folder. “Ok, I will go check it out.” I said getting up out of my chair. “Wait, Zazoo, you can’t go by yourself, in case he is, ya know, dangerous.” He said emerging out of his chair. “Oh please, how could this old guy be dangerous?” I said continuing to walk to the door. “Zazoo, I am assigning someone to go with you.” He said as I opened the door and started to walk out. Just as I opened the door, Sam walked past and gave me a sly grin. “Sam, will you please come in here for a minute.” “Sure thing boss, what is it?” She said in a high-pitched voice. 57
“I am putting you and Zazoo on the Fourth Street Murder Case.” He said cowering back into his chair. “WHAT?!?!” Sam and I said at the same time, “You must be joking!” Since the morning, when Sam had again been rude to me, I had been angry, but this just about threw me over the edge. “Well I am not, so go check out the two suspects or I will have to give this case to Frankie.” “Alright, alright” I said. “Just don’t give the case to Frankie, he will be sure to mess it up.” I opened the door and stormed out. “Just follow my lead, Sam, and we will be fine,” I said not even glancing at her. “Stephanie, lets catch a cab. We will be able to get there much faster.” She said in a suggestive tone. “Fine, but you’re paying.” I said as I waved my hand in the air to hail a taxi. “Let’s just get there before we start arguing about anything.” She said as I jumped into the cab ignoring her. As we arrived at the door, I pushed the doorbell and waited for the man to arrive at the door. We waited for about two minutes until he finally came out. He opened the door and there in front of me was short old man with snowy white hair, smiling from ear to ear. “Hello,” Sam said. “May we come in?” “Why, of course, but who are you?” The older man asked peering through his glasses. “We are working with the police on the Fourth Street Murder Case and we just wanted to ask you some questions,” I said butting in. 58
“That sounds reasonable, would you like to come in?” He said in his sweet old voice. “Yes,” Sam and I said at the same time glaring at each other. Once we were inside, we walked into the living room and sat down across from each other on his pair of antique couches. “Well, to start off, where were you at 8pm on Friday night?” I asked. “I was sleeping, of course. I go to sleep every night at 7:30. You can ask my private nurse, Sierra.” He said, smiling once again. “Ok, do you know where we may be able to find this private nurse of yours?” Sam asked. “She has her own bedroom downstairs, I can take you down there if you would like.” He said. “That would be great. Thank You,” I replied as he grabbed his cane and pulled himself out of the chair. We then started walking downstairs. He had a very nice and very large house decorated with ancient artifacts, from bottom to top. When we finally arrived at the antique door the old man knocked. He was answered by a sweet voice replying, “Come in!” We opened the door and walked in. When she realized she had seen me before, I saw the shocked look in her eyes. She slowly inched towards the bed while saying, “What can I help you with?” She said while carefully trying to pick up a piece of paper, thinking I wasn’t noticing. “Well,” I said suspiciously, “you can start by telling me what is written on that piece of paper.” 59
“What piece of paper? What are you talking about?” She said, shoving it into the pocket of her purple coat. “Why the jacket? Are you going somewhere?” I asked staring her right in the eyes. “Alright, alright.” She said as she broke down quickly and started crying. Through all of her tears, I could not understand what she was saying, so I just called Captain Ramirez and told him I had found a guilty suspect and that he should come pick us all up and bring her in for some further questioning. Once we arrived at the station, I took Sierra into the investigation room, as Sam quickly followed behind me. I turned around, glaring, and she quickly turned the other direction and walked off. “This is Stephanie Von Snitzelbottom questioning the likely suspect Sierra,” I said and turned to asked her what her last name was, “Springs” she said in a flat and dull tone. “Investigating Sierra Springs in investigation room 3” I continued saying into the microphone. “So, Sierra, did you or did you not murder Ms. Emily Jenkins?” “I did and didn’t, it wasn’t me who killed her, but I do admit to being there.” She said very nervously, crossing her hands and placing them carefully on the table. “Who did kill her then?” I asked. “Um, well, um, would he find out that I told you who he was?” She said hesitantly, tucking a piece of her perfectly combed raven hair behind her pierced ear. “No, Sierra.” I answered. 60
“Well he is or at least was my boyfriend, Nile Carter.” She said sighing. “Nile Carter?” “Yeah, that’s right.” I stopped questioning her for a second and sent the captain a text, telling him to search for and pick up Nile Carter. “Ms. Springs, why did he kill Emily?” “Well, my boyfriend and I were thinking about moving out of town together, but he said before we left he had some unfinished business to complete. On the night of the murder, he didn’t tell me where we were going or what we were doing, but the next thing I knew he was holding a gun to this random girl’s head and then she was dead. I was in no place to scream or call for help because he was holding a gun, and I was in no place to risk it. Afterwards, we drove to the diner on St. Marks Place and I made him explain to me why he killed that poor girl. He told me that they used to date in college, but when her parents uncovered some dirty details about him, they threatened to ruin his entire life. When she later became a writer, he feared that she might publish some ‘dirty details’ about him and have him locked up for good. Nile must not have wanted anyone to know what Emily knew that it was worth killing for. I knew if I told Nile I was going to leave him because he was a murderer, he might try to hurt me, so I just played it cool and went home that night. I was planning to run away today but then you walked in on me. The paper that I was holding in my hand was our plane tickets to San Francisco that I was going to burn.” She said taking a deep breath. 61
“I see, well you will be held here until we can interview Nile to see if your stories match up,” I said trying to leave the room as she interrupted me. “Will I have to go to jail?” she asked. “I can’t promise anything, but I am pretty sure since you didn’t know what you were doing, it is not against the law” I said trying to boost her confidence since she seemed a little bit rattled by the confession. “Great. Thanks.” I left the room and about 15 minutes later the Captain approached me to let me know that he had found Nile. He said that both Sierra and Nile’s story matched. Ultimately that meant Nile would serve a life sentence in jail for murder and Sierra would be free to go, for not actually breaking any laws and assisting the Police in their time of need. I then walked back into the investigation room where Sienna was sitting quietly and praying. “Sierra” I said, “Nile confessed to everything, so you are free to go.” “Thank you!” she replied as she picked up her purse and walked out of the door. Another case solved. Finally, I am able to go home. I went to my desk, picked up my stuff and walked out the door. As I left I heard, “Goodbye Zazoo, I guess I will see you tomorrow.” Coming from Jacob’s mouth.
Emmeline Flagg grade 6 Footsteps I had walked about ten steps forward before my torn pant-leg wrapped around my heel , making me stumble forward until I fell into a pit of darkness. I fell in this way for such a long time that I thought that this pit was never ending. As I pondered my thought I hit the ground with a loud thud. I lay there, wondering if it was even worth opening my eyes and getting up. Suddenly, a piercing pain shot up my arm to my shoulder and I winced. When I finally opened my eyes, there was nothing. I tried closing then opening them again, but I realized that this act was just in vain. I stood up, but that pain came back in my shoulder. I tried to move it, but it wouldn’t move. It was then that I realized that my shoulder had been dislocated when I hit the ground. I walked around my prison, thinking about the past events. Then they all came back to me, the judges, the trial, the death sentence. The judges promised that they would “get me”, kill me. Now I was scared. What did they mean they would “get me”? Why didn’t they just “get me” right there? So many questions, but no answers. Why was I here? What did the judges think I did wrong? Well I could answer that one. I had been what the judges called a “heretic”. But the only reason that I was called one was because I had 63
stood up for the right of my religion. Now because of that I was sent to be killed for nothing. Just pure innocence. None of this was fair. But at that moment I had to remind myself that life in general is not fair. I kept on walking around. Reflecting on my whole entire life. My life had been that of a typical lower class child growing up in Toledo, Spain. All my life I had worked and worked and my parents had died when I was just ten. So I had grown up on the streets. But when I was thirteen years of age an orphanage took me in. I had grown so used to life on the streets that I escaped immediately. No one ever cared about me, my parents were working to hard to care and every time they tried to have another baby, it had been to weak and died. We all lived a life of dissatisfaction, and that would never change. I was going to be left in this pit to rot and die on my own with no hope of getting out. As I slid my hands gently along the circular walls of the prison, I felt something. It seemed to be an opening, covered in webs of nonexistent spiders. An opening, a door, could this get me out of my misery, the pain I had endured for the last ten minutes? Could this silly little flaw in my torturerâ€™s plans set me free? After some more thinking about the opening in the wall, I decided to go through it. I crawled on my hands and knees through the hole and realized that the ceiling was getting higher and higher. Then it sloped down, down until I had to start crawling again. Then it sloped back up and stayed that way for a while. I kept on walking thinking that any curve or bend could be the exit of this living nightmare. But to no avail were my fancies. 64
I kept on walking and after what seemed like hours I heard an echo. One that seemed, to the ear, to be footsteps. I stopped in my tracks, but the sound had ceased. It was probably just another fancy of mine. I stayed on foot for what seemed like hours. I was weak and weary and needed to rest. I collapsed onto the floor and fell into a deep slumber. **** I sat up sweating and panting. My dreams had left my brain in a heap of misery and worry. All that I could process through my brain were the footsteps. What were they? Who were they? Why were they? When had they happened? I was so confused. What, who, why, when? There was nothing that I could remember. There was absolutely no material in my brain that was left to put all the clues back in place. Nothing. I was hopeless, absolutely hopeless. I aimlessly wondered around the maze of despair that I had been walking in for days. My sense of time was leaving me. All I had left was my sense of touch and my keen hearing to help me around this horrendous prison. My throat burned from no water for days. My stomach churned with hunger. I knew that I would die of starvation or dehydration. Just as I felt as if I was about to collapse, a slot opened up and a bowl of some indescribable food and a pitcher of water fell through. I ate the food like a bear after hibernation. I let the water pour all over my body, not minding soggy clothing. I had been saved. After eating and drinking I felt content. I kept on walking and walking. I have no idea how long I walked for, but when I finally stopped, I was tired. But I knew that I had to 65
keep on going. I just had to be free. I had to have the glory of being smart enough to escape the torturers. Only me, no one else. I would be a hero, a Saint. Everyone in Toledo would love me. So I decided to keep on walking. Suddenly the sound of footsteps filled the halls. I wasn’t sure who or what would want to be in such a dirty and depressing place, but I was curious. I walked back the way I came, unsure of what the footstep’s owner would look like. Then they ceased. It was like magic. Gone. As if the person that was walking had just vanished into thin air. What could this mean? I ran forward scared; I kept on running until I fell, flat on my face on the cold wet stone floor. The footsteps still mind boggled me, I couldn’t quite think of who it could be. Could it be another prisoner? No it couldn’t be. A guard? No, if they were trying to torture me why would they put a guard in to the dungeon. What about one of the torturers? Yes it would have to be. Maybe I just wasn’t dying soon enough, maybe they wanted to kill me just to be over with it. Then they could use my torturing chamber for another criminal. I got back up, than ran as fast as I could, I promised myself that I wouldn’t fall. Not at all, for if I did it would cost me my life. I ran for hours, for days. It didn’t matter at this point. I didn’t care about anything but running away and being free. Nothing would stop me. Then that horrifying sound of footsteps came back. I ran as fast as I could. Tears were streaming down my face. This was not the end of my life it couldn’t be. They got closer and closer no matter how fast I ran, they kept on coming closer. I could only hear the footsteps. I 66
felt like my heart had stopped beating. The footsteps came to a stop, just in front of me. Suddenly something grabbed me and shoved me down onto the floor. My shoulder throbbed with pain. I heard the sound of a knife being drawn out of its sheath. A hand came down onto my neck. I felt cold brass buttons and a fabric that seemed to be silk. Then I felt the pain of a knife being shoved into my heart. The man gasped at what he had done, then fled with the last sound that I ever heard. Footsteps.
Joshua Hull grade 5 Go Tigers One day there was a kickball team called the Jaguars. Whenever the Jaguars faced the Tigers, Jaguars always won. But one game while the Tigers were winning their best person, Jordan, slipped and sprained her ankle. Everybody on her team was devastated. After that, the team lost every game. During their spare time the team said they would go to the doctor to see what will happen to Jordan. On the day that Jordan had her appointment, the team came. The doctor then had his results. She needed crutches for five weeks. Tears shot out of Jordan’s eyes. She wouldn’t be able to play kickball. By then the Tigers would be out of the playoffs. Jordan had to get off of the crutches and she had to get off of them fast. Everyday Jordan would get out of bed and play kickball. She would cry until she couldn’t cry any more. Then she decided that she wouldn’t care what happened to her foot. She didn’t want her team to lose a game because of her foot. So she told her mom she would play. The teams were facing easy teams at first. But they were only exhibition matches. They got a hit in the face really hard. The first game in the playoffs was the Jaguars. If they lost they would have to wait for a year to get back in there. 68
Then a special someone came out on the field with crutches. It was Jordan! She was going to play. So far from their training they were beating the Jaguars. But then Jordan came. The Jaguars knew they would win because that happened last time. Jordan had cleats so she chipped the ball. After that the Tigers won. They were so happy. All because of Jordan. In the end they said their motto. DONâ€™T STOP BELEIVING.
Ivan Specht grade 5 The Secret Caper Alex, Ben, Carl, and David couldn’t believe it. Their parents, the day before, on that crisp June morning, had suddenly announced that Carl and David’s families were moving to New York. They all loved the beautiful city of Los Angeles, and even more, each other. They were friends since birth, and were now standing outside of the airport, feeling miserable, having to say good-bye. They didn’t know if they would ever be able to see each other again. What had happened? What would happen? Carl and David, sitting together silently on the plane, had so many questions. Their parents said virtually nothing. Carl had visited New York twice before, but David had never been. He had always wanted to go to New York, but now, having to go there, made him more confused and miserable than ever. Finally, Carl said, “Well, at least New York is a nice city.” David also tried to think optimistically, but then said, “ The city may be nice, but it’s not nice leaving our best friends.” “I guess so,” said Carl, and ended the conversation with them both not feeling so good about what was ahead of them. The plane finally pulled into the gate, and the boys and their families got off right away. Silently, they got their luggage and walked out of the airport. Each family got into a separate 70
taxi, and headed towards Manhattan to a hotel that they would call home until the movers arrived. ***** Back in Los Angeles, Alex and Ben were already missing Carl and David and wondering why this sudden move had to happen. After they said goodbye at the airport, they went home with their own families. Alex decided to talk about the move with his parents. “Mom, Dad, what has happened? Our families have been close forever—I think of Ben, Carl and David like my brothers. And now Carl and David are gone.” Alex’s dad looked at the floor, cleared his throat, and said, “To put it briefly, there was an argue—I mean, a discussion—and we had ideas that were, um, different, so much that Carl and David’s parents felt they couldn’t talk to us anymore. So they decided to move, those absurd people. Have I answered your question?” “I guess, but there’s one other thing,” said Alex. “Will I get to see Carl and David again any time soon?” “I’m sorry,” said his mom. Alex then walked back to his room with no hope and a very unclear sense of what actually happened. Ben, being more introspective, handled the shock of his friends’ leaving differently. When his family got home, he went straight to his room and thought. He knew that he wouldn’t get to see his friends for a while. Ben tried to get his mind off the subject at first, but found that impossible. He just couldn’t forget about it—he couldn’t forget about them. He knew that the only way to get out of this dreadful situation was to do something—to make a plan—however crazy it might be. Ben 71
knew that to see his friends again, he would have to do something meaningful. ***** After Carl and David had settled into their adjoining rooms at the hotel, both families decided to go out to dinner together. They had Mexican food, which was Carl and David’s favorite, but they shared the smallest dish on the menu, and in total, they only ate half of it. Their parents realized that they weren’t feeling very good, so after dinner they went straight back to the hotel and tried to get to sleep. But the boys were restless, and sad, and they missed their friends in Los Angeles. And those feelings continued, even after they moved into their new apartments and started their new school. A few months passed, and it was about to be the time of their birthdays. The boys were all born in the month of August, just before the beginning of school, so they had always had one huge party instead of four smaller ones. “Please,” Carl said to his mom. “Could we please see Alex and Ben? It’s just about time for our birthdays.” “No,” said his mom. “I’m sorry, it just can’t happen.” “Why not?” His mother didn’t answer and walked away from him very quickly. That year Carl and David would have a party together. A bit less than two years had passed, and the boys had missed two birthdays together. If they didn’t do something quickly, they would miss a third. When they turned nine, each boy convinced his parents to allow him to have an email account. To keep in touch, they wrote secret e-mails back and forth. Finally, on the night of August 2nd, Ben got an idea after hearing that his family along with Alex’s family was 72
going to York, England. He had remembered what he thought the day Carl and David left. He had remembered thinking the words do something meaningful. He wrote his idea in an email: To Alex, Carl, and David, Since we are all turning ten this year, my parents are taking me to York, England to celebrate my birthday. Alex and his family will be coming, too. But maybe there’s a way we can send the parents to York, England and we boys can come to New York instead! What do you think? Carl, since you are so good at coming up with ideas, and I am good at getting the supplies and executing the plan, maybe we could make something happen. From Ben To Alex, Ben, and David, Sorry, but how do you expect to sneak on a plane? Do you think your parents won’t notice you aren’t there? This is not practical and will never work. From Carl To Alex, Carl, and David, It can’t hurt to try it. Remember how much fun we used to have in LA? Sneaking out at night, launching a baking soda/vinegar rocket in the middle of the street, making films during our sleepovers? We could do fun things like that again if we could figure out how to be together again. Just like old times. 73
Sincerely Ben To Alex, Ben, and Carl, It certainly can hurt to try this. We could get arrested. And our parents will go nuts. But I’ll help you organize this because we do need to meet up again. From David To Ben, Carl, and David, This sounds dangerous, but also fun. I’m good at acting and sneaking around. I’m in. From Alex To Alex, Ben, and David, Count me in, but if anything goes wrong, I’m not taking the blame. From Carl To Alex, Carl, and David, Okay! Were all in. Carl, look up flights to NY departing from LA. The flight to York departs at 9:00 a.m. at gate F13, number 139. Alex, work on your handwriting skills—we’re going to need them. Your acting is already good enough. David, work out the little kinks in the plan and where to go after we meet up. I will bring a black, non-bleeding pen. From Ben 74
To Alex, Ben, and David, Absolutely perfect! There is a flight to NY at 9:00 a.m. at gate E18, number 789. We have a plan. From Carl ***** The next day, Alex and Ben went to the airport, hiding mischievous smiles. They checked in, and went to the gate. Twenty-five minutes before boarding, they asked to use the bathroom, but instead ran as fast as they could to Terminal E. When they found a table, Alex modified their boarding passes. In his very best handwriting, he wrote the word “New” before the printed word “York.” He turned gate F13 into E18 by filling in the bottom of the F and filling in the rest of the 3. Finally, he turned flight 139 into flight 789 by drawing a line on the top of the 1 and filling in the rest of the 3. They were so late for the plane that the gate manager only glanced at their boarding passes before letting them on the plane. At the same time, David figured out their escape route. At 5:00, Carl and he were both sent to get the mail. Instead, they ran out the door, hopped on the J train, and rode out to the 121st Street station. That was their meeting spot. Forty-five minutes later, Alex and Ben arrived. They were thrilled to see each other and wanted to talk for hours, but David reminded them that they had to get going. “Where are we going?” asked Ben, excitedly. “You’ll see,” said David. He then led them onto the downtown Z train. “Watch out for cops at Broadway Junction,” said David. “Go right to the C train.” They had to hide behind trashcans and benches, but 75
eventually they made it. The train took forever to come, but they boarded without being seen. When they transferred at Franklin Avenue, it was obvious that they were going to Coney Island. “Good choice,” said Ben, who happened to know the New York subway system very well. “Where are we going?” asked Alex, who knew nothing about New York. “Coney Island!” said David, “The best amusement park ever!” Just before they reached the entrance to the park, Carl stopped. “Wait,” he said. “We don’t have money!” “Oh, I didn’t forget that,” said David, as he pulled out $50 from his pocket. “I always think about absolutely everything.” “Where in the world did you get that?” asked Alex. “I’ve saved up my allowance for something special forever,” said David. “I knew that it would be useful some day. And I was right!” With that, they bought tickets, and went right in. “Which rides do you want to do?” asked Carl. We have enough for one huge ride, two medium-sized rides, or three small rides.” “Let’s all do one huge ride—the Cyclone,” said Alex. “It would be a waste to do any less than the most famous ride here. This is our special day!” The rollercoaster was fantastic, and all the boys agreed that just being together was the best of all. After they got off, they bought ice cream with their extra money, which they ate on the Boardwalk with a feeling of complete satisfaction. They were still feeling satisfied when the police found them and looked at them with severe disapproval, and took them to the station. ***** 76
At first, the boys were all hugged by Carl and David’s parents, who had been waiting at the police station for hours, worrying. They were relieved to see that that Carl and David were all right, but were very surprised to see Alex and Ben. Their moods quickly changed from relief to sadness, to anger, and disappointment. “Why have you boys run away?” asked Carl’s mother. “What is going on here?” “We will tell you the full and complete story. But first answer our one question that has been upsetting us for years. Why did we have to move?” Carl’s father looked at the floor, exchanged glances with his wife and David’s parents, and said, “I guess it’s time we tell you. You, along with your friends, are all nine, almost ten years old. Do you remember the time, the Saturday before we moved, we all went to have a picnic in Elysian Park? Our families spent so much time together because we founded a business together and, as you probably know, it grew and grew. Most of the time, we agreed about everything relating to the business. But not that time. You boys were playing soccer while we were arguing. Alex, you picked up the ball and asked us what was going on. I told you that it was nothing, but it was actually a huge heated argument in which we just couldn’t agree. So our two families decided to start a new business in New York. We thought it would be better that way.” David’s father then said, “It’s true that we couldn’t agree on the old business, but I bet we will agree on your punishment. Your parents are 77
on the way now, and there will be a lot to talk about tonight.â€? But even as he said that, he knew that if Alex and Ben would do something so risky as to actually sneak on a plane just to see their best friends, their friendship could not be broken. He knew that the four boys could not be separated, no matter what happened to them. After a full two years he finally realized that a move back to Los Angeles might be what had to happen.
Lauren Reischer grade7 Perspective Right about now in my life, I can’t help but feeling that its time for a change. People all over the world think its time for a change-right as they’re about to hit their teens. They all think it and they believe it . . . but they’re wrong. They don’t know when it’s time for a life adjustment. I do. You see, I live in a small, small town. It’s so small that you’d need a microscope to see it on a map. It’s called Phitterson. It’s right in the dead smack of Citadel. Don’t know where that is? It’s a tiny country right off the coast of Maine. We’re not considered part of the U.S.; we just do things on our own. No president. No king. No government of any kind . . . it seems. Here in Phitterson, we do what we want. I live in a small town house with my dad (Blake) and my brother (Tim). I’m 13 and I go to Phitterson Junior High School. There are about three hundred losers there and that includes me. I’m not being pessimistic, ask anyone. They’ll tell you that I’m being honest. I don’t lie. That’s something you should know about me. I never have, and I don’t plan on it. I play on a soccer team at Phitterson Junior High; we’re called the Mustangs- wild and full of energy. I have to say, Phitterson ain’t exactly the place that you’d call home. A lot goes 79
on. It doesn’t always make you feel safe, but you get used to it. Don’t know what I mean? Well every now and then, there’s a shooting, a robbery, a stabbing- and the list goes on forever. All this stuff usually happens on Ford Street, but I try to stay away from there. I live on Bushel Place. It’s a small street close to the capital of Citadel. The capital’s called Citadel City. Lame right? Every morning, five days a week, I wake up at 5:00 am. I’m slow- I admit it. It probably takes me around twenty minutes to get ready, around twenty minutes to eat and about fifteen to pack up my bag and get all my stuff together. By then it’s around 5:55. The bus comes at around 6:00. It’s early, I know. But I live far from school. If we didn’t have to pick up kids, it’d take me around an hour. We pick up thirty kids. They live all over the place! We go from east to west, from west to south, from south to north, from north to east, etc. Everyday I try to convince myself about how “amazing” my life is. Today was different. This morning I woke up to bright sun and freezing cold. Today, when I woke up, instead of feeling tired and groggy, I felt refreshed and strong. Strange, I thought. I stood up to make my bed. I stood nice and tall and sunk my feet into the thick carpet. Randomly, the strength and refreshed feeling faded. I felt an aching in my abdomen, a clogging in my stomach, and a shredding in my heart. I didn’t know what it was. I felt like the world had shifted, and everything was upside down. I fell to the ground with a heavy thud. Standing up again, I patted down my covers, and picked my pillow up from under my bed. Even MORE strange, I thought. 80
It was around 5:12 am and I wasn’t even close to ready for school. I picked out a neon blue top that sags down on one side, revealing part of my shoulder. It said THIS IS SWAAAG [: on it. I put on my everyday purple skinny jeans and my high tops, while trying to brush my teeth at the same time. Way to multi-task I thought. I put my hair into a fishtail braid- the most complicated hair thing that I know how to do. I shoved my books into my bag, suddenly remembering that I forgot to do my Algebra 1 Homework . . . again. What could I do? It wasn’t my fault! Last night I got home late from a soccer game. It’s not my fault that the game started late, and it’s not my fault that the bus driver didn’t know how to read a map! Therefore my math teacher really has no right to blame me. Not today. Today feels really different. I thought. I couldn’t remember the last time I said that. I managed to tie my hair up into a high ponytail and then I headed to the kitchen. Opening the fridge, huge puffs of cold air came out, making my toes go numb and sending goose bumps down my shoulders. I shivered and grabbed a toaster waffle. Just my usual breakfast! I looked at the clock and noticed that is was 5:42 am. The bus would be soon. DING! The waffle popped up from the toaster. The sun was out and it was a cloudless day. I could see the dew on our front lawn. Each strand of grass shimmered in the sun and blew this way and that in the breeze. The roads were quiet and everything seemed still. In the mornings, I’m the only one awake. Tim doesn’t get ready until he knows he’ll be fashionably late, and my dad . . . well, he sleeps until noon. 81
I took one final bite of my waffle, threw my bag over my shoulder and strolled toward the bus stop. I was early. I couldn’t believe it. I was ACTUALLY early! At about this point, I knew for a fact that today would be unusual. I was right. Everyday, I catch the bus with my friend Kristen. She usually comes to get me in the mornings, but today, I arrived at her house right as she was coming to get me. “Oh my gosh,” she said. “Are you actually ready before me?” she smiled and jumped off her front steps, jogging to me. “I never thought it would happen either,” I said happily, “Who would’ve guessed that I’D be early?!” We both laughed. Kristen and I have a super close friendship. It’s like the ones that you see in movies; there are two girls who are super close; they’ve known each other since preschool and they’d never let anything come between them. Yes, that’s like us. “Courtney, I’m impressed,” she said to me. Oh, by the way, that IS my name. “To be honest- so am I,” I joked. The bus pulled up with a screech. As we got on, we both noticed that it wasn’t our usual bus driver. This lady was WACKED. She had short red hair, and tattoos all over. She had a nose ring and snake bites on her lip. She woke a denim vest and leather shorts. Who wears leather shorts? Kris and I looked at each other in bewilderment. “Hey. Get in. I’m in a hurry.” She said. We didn’t move a muscle. “What are you lookin’ at punk?!” the lady exclaimed. We batted our eyes and took the last row seats. I got the window. Window seats are my thing. I like to look at the world go right past my eyes. It’s weird when you try and focus your eyes on 82
something and then it just blurs away. I like that. It gives you new things to look at every second. I turned away from the window, and realized that we were pulling up in front of the school . . . the only ones on the bus. I wondered if they all called in sick! At school, Kristen and I headed to our lockers to get our books for our first class; English. Chatting up a storm, we made our way to room 117. When we walked inside, we realized that we were the only ones in the classroom. No students. No teachers. There was absolutely nothing except the dusty chalkboard, the empty desks, and us. “Is this creepy or what?!” I exclaimed. The room was so still that you could hear a pin drop. It almost scared me, and I KNOW Kristen was as scared as me. “Um . . . Courtney. I’m really freaked out. I think we should go find Principal Gills.” She said grabbing my hand and running out of the room. We ran through the halls of Phitterson Junior High, screaming. We ran to room 117, barging in the door, screaming, “PRINCIPAL GILLS! PRINCIPAL GILLS!” There was no answer. His secretary wasn’t there. There were papers all over the floor. It looked like a crime scene. We took a few steps into the office. The door slammed shut behind us. “Ahhhhhhhh!” we both screamed. We ran to the door, yanking on it. We kicked it, slammed it- hoping someone would hear us. “Kristen, I think someone locked us in!” I said nervously. “I think you might be right!” she said. I grabbed her hand for dear life. “What are we going to DO?!” she screamed. Holding 83
hands, we shuffled through the papers in the office, and sat down in the corner of the room. “I don’t know, Kristen.” I said with dismay. I hugged her. I hugged her as if I never wanted to let go. As if my life depended on her. As for right now- it did. After minutes of tears and hugs, we took deep breaths and tried to find another way out. We searched the entire room for a way out. There were no other doors. “Court- what are we going to do? There’s not enough air in here! There’s no food! There’s no water! The water fountain is right down the hall, and we can’t even get to it!” Sitting down at the Principal’s desk, we began to think. Think, think, And THINK! “Kristen- I just saved us!” I said excitedly. “HOW?” she answered. I unzipped my backpack and dug through it. “I have two ideas.” I said with a smile. I ripped out a piece of paper from my English notebook and wrote: if you should find this note, please go to room 117 and unlock the door because two girls are locked inside. I slipped the note through the cracks of the door. I looked at Kristen. She was looking at the ground. “What’s wrong?” I asked her. “If there’s no one here- no one will find the note.” She said. I understood her. I understood why it didn’t work. I collapsed. I burst out in tears, and realized that we were stuck here.
Kate Platzker grade 6 The Nightmare I was walking I tripped on my torn robe making me fall forward aggressively. I landed on the cold floor with a slam. It was pitch black in the room. As my eyes began to adjust, I found myself in a circular space; in the middle was a pit. The floor of the room was cold, slimy, and dirty, and the walls were old and had many small cracks. Suddenly I noticed sharp blades emerging from the circular walls. The blades came closer to me every second. They were an inch away from me when I jumped into the pit. I fell for only a few seconds before I hit the damp, slippery floor. I landed so hard that I felt like I was on fire. I thought my ankle might be broken. I forced myself to sit up. I looked up to see people in dark robes peering down at me, laughing. Their laugh was so terrible, I felt as if I could cry. They pulled a cover over the top of the pit, so I could barely see. As they left, I heard them slam the door behind them. As I looked around the pit, I could faintly see the outline of many skulls and bones. I started hearing a squeaking sound from all around me. Then I saw rats, hungry rats looking for fresh meat to chew. I became worried. All of a sudden the pit became colder. I hugged myself to keep warm under my thin clothes. The pit became colder and colder every 85
second. I could feel my lips becoming blue. I began to see icicles forming on the cover of the pit. They formed slowly, but surely. Suddenly, the whole pit began shaking. One by one, each icicle began to fall as even more icicles began to build. As each icicle fell I could see the razorpointed ends ready to cut and slash me. I thought to myself, “How can such beautiful things become my worst nightmare?” As I sat shivering on the ice-cold floor, I waited for an icicle to hit me. I didn’t try to move away from the icicles because I knew how bad my ankle would hurt. I prayed for my life, I prayed for my family, for my friends. I even prayed for other people who were suffering because of the people in dark robes. Then it hit me, an icicle. I screamed at the top of my lungs and felt as if a thousand spears had pierced me all at once. I reached up to touch my head where the icicle hit. I looked at my hand and saw blood. I looked up at the cover to see another icicle falling towards me. I put my hands over my head and leaned forward. Right then, the icicle hit my back and pierced my ribs. I heard a crack and fell down. I entered darkness. Suddenly, I saw light. Looking down at me were the people in dark robes. I squinted as they put the cover on the pit. As I looked away, I felt many tiny teeth eating away at my clothes and flesh. I tried to push myself up to make the rats go away, but instead I hit the ground hard. I fell into complete darkness again. I woke up suddenly. I was lying on the floor of my bedroom in a sweat. I looked outside to see snow falling and that I only had a thin blanket on me. I saw my parents hovering over 86
me in their dark bathrobes and my sister shaking me awake. “Are you ok?” my mother asked me. “We heard you fall out of bed.” my dad said. “Yes. I’m ok. It just was a very bad nightmare.”
Sam Wendel grade 7 Struck The year was 1940.The Nazi advance had taken control of most of Europe. Parts of France, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Russia were all that remained free. Our story takes place in a small Belgian town called Gurin. Petel Saul, a young Jew on the run from the Nazis, was hiding in a ditch on the side of the road. His house had been â€œconfiscatedâ€? by the Nazis, as had all of his belongings. As he watched the sky, he could tell that daylight was ending. With daylight gone the Nazis would be gone too. Unfortunately, that also meant the wild animals would be coming out, but he would have to take that risk. As dusk fell, he crawled out of the ditch and headed toward the woods. His shadow was long in the dim light. Pink and purple light from the sunset fell across him. If anyone were there, they would have seen a young man with long curly brown hair and green eyes running across the road. His clothes were ripped and were covered in mud and dirt. He was heading to France, the closest place that was not occupied by the Nazis. He moved through the woods as silently as possible. The ground was wet and steep, and he slipped several times on the way down. Once he was at the bottom of the hill he set off again. After walking for three or four hours, he heard a German patrol coming. He halted and then hid 88
in the underbrush. Twelve Nazis walked past on the road, none even thought that a Jew could be hiding right next to them. After they left, he crawled back out and continued walking. The rest of the night was without incident. The next morning, after a quick breakfast of cold canned beans, Petel fell into an uneasy sleep. He awoke three hours later starving. As he dug in his pack for food, he noticed that he was almost out of it. Heading towards the road, he soon located the near town of Hindelburg. As he walked into town, he saw that there were reasonably few Germans. “Yes,” he thought to himself. He entered a small store and bought several packages and cans of various items. Suddenly, as he was about to leave, he saw the daily newspaper on the door. It read: France Surrenders to the Nazis. Petel felt himself go weak. All hope was lost. He felt as if the Nazi fist was closing around his neck. A gruff voice woke him from his misery. “Papers!,” it barked. Petel looked up. In front of him was a big burly German soldier. “Papers!,” it said again. “Y-yes,” stammered Petel as he handed the soldier his fake papers. “Ja ja,” said the German, handing back the approved papers. Suddenly, Petel had an idea. “If I cannot escape the Germans, I will join the Germans,” he thought. “Where is the nearest army recruiting station?,” he asked. “We only recruit Germans S.S. troops from outside of Germany” was the reply. “The German S.S.!, ” thought Petel. The S.S were the 89
German elite, and Jew hunters second only to the Gestapo. “Alright, ” he said. “Where is that recruiting station?” “Two blocks down next to a bar called Hirven,” said the German. Petel walked to the recruiting station. Once in front of it, he took a deep breath and walked in. “Papers?,” the clerk asked when he walked in. “Here,” he replied, as he handed the clerk his papers. “Name?” “Petel Hindelman,” said Petel Saul. “Age?” “Seventeen.” “Race?” “Christian,” said the Jew. “Alright, Herr Hindelman, the Doctor will be right with you.” Petel passed the doctor’s test; he also passed intensive training. Now, here he was on the Russian campaign in Finland. “Shit!,” yelled Albriech Feidler, another soldier in Petel’s regiment. “We’ve got heavy firing from our left!” Petel shifted his Gewehr 98 to the left. Russian soldiers ran at him. He opened fire. The man to his left, Franz Jung, was shot through the chest. “Franz!,” yelled Petel. “Medic, medic!” One of the squad’s medics, Fritz Gottschalk, ran towards them. A few shots were fired, knocking Fritz to the ground. He started crawling forward looking for cover. A few more shots, and his body fell limp. Petel looked down 90
at Franz. Franz was coughing up blood. Petel realized he had been shot in the lung. He rolled Franz onto his side to make sure the good lung did not fill up with blood. Two more men, Folker Herrmann and Gerit Jaeger, ran over. They slid next to Petel and Albriech. “What’s wrong with him?,” said Gerit, nudging Franz with his boot. “Shot threw the lung,” replied Petel. Their conversation was interrupted by a burst of gunfire from a Russian machine gun. Petel and his squad had been trying to take three farmhouses for the past hour. Each farmhouse seemed to contain several Russian squads. Folker responded to the gunfire with a burst from his Gerat 06 (H). “Move up!,” yelled Petel’s commander, Gerbert Faust. Petel swung around the crate that served as his cover and sprinted behind a destroyed tractor. Folker and Gerit were right behind him as was Albriech carrying Franz. They waited there for a little while returning fire before they all took off again towards the house. Once in the alcove in front of the house door Petel drew a grenade to toss in. Folker was limping from where he had been shot in the lower calf. Petel activated the grenade, opened the door, and threw it in. He shut the door tightly after the grenade. The grenade went off. Gerit and Folker burst threw the door and sprayed the area with gunfire. Albriech then moved in next, closely followed by Petel. As Folker found a place for Albriech to lie Franz down, Gerit, and Petel moved up the stairs. Two Russian soldiers were coming down drawn by the commotion. Petel smashed one in 91
the head with his Gewehr while Gerit shot the other. They then moved up the stairs into the attic. Two Russians manning machine guns were up there as well as two other Russians feeding the guns their belts. Three other Russians sniped and fired on the Germans below. Gerit made short work of the machine gunners and their helpers, while Petel shot the other Russians. One Russian put up his hands in surrender while saying, “Don’t shoot, don’t shoot.” Gerit walked over and smacked him with the butt of his gun. Gerit tied up that Russian’s hands and feet, while Petel went to tie up the Russian he had knocked out in the stairwell. With the house secure, a medic, Hans Freud, finally managed to reach them. With Franz alive in a church that had been turned into a hospital and the two Russian prisoners in another bombed out house with other POWs, that night Petel’s squad slept. The next morning, they awoke and ate their field rations before setting out on a patrol. They were walking down a steep hill when suddenly out of nowhere came the Russians. “Run,” yelled Petel. Gerit and Albriech started running with Petel. They reached a boulder and hid behind it. They turned around to see Folker trying to run, but because of his calf wound he could not. “Dammit Folker, run faster!,” shouted Gerit. Two shots were fired bringing Folker down dead. “Folker!,” yelled Gerit. He ran up to the body. 92
“Come on Gerit,” said Petel “There’s nothing we can do now.” Several Russians started running down at them from the top of the hill. Gerit ran at them firing his Gewehr 290. He never reached the top of the hill. He was shot down almost immediately. More Russians ran down towards them. Petel saw Albriech fall. Suddenly, Petel was hit. He felt pain shoot up his body, and he passed out. When he awoke he saw Albriech lying next to him in the grimy Russian POW hospital. “Albriech!,” called Petel “Albriech!” “What?,” grunted Albriech. “There is something I must tell you before I die” “What?” “I’m a Jew.” Albriech reacted sadly, “You do know that if I live I will have to tell the German High Command right?” “Yes, but it does not matter. I will die soon.” Petel did not die, but neither did Albriech. Albriech was used in a trade between German and Russian POWs. Once back in German territory he told the German High Command about Petel. Petel had been planning his escape for months; it was perfect. Whenever a German died in the night he was left in his bed till morning, even after he was pronounced dead. In Petel’s room there were several very sick Germans that might die in their sleep. His plan was to wait until the soldier was pronounced dead and, then, hide in his clothes and act like the dead person. 93
It worked. One cold night a soldier named Heide Freeh died. Petel, dressed like the deceased Heide, was left outside the gate with the other dead to be frozen there until summer, when the Russians would bury them. Patel stayed there not moving until night fell again. Then, he set out towards Finland. The POW camp was near to the Front so he did not have to walk far until he saw the Russian troops. Hiding in the snow, he waited until all had gone to sleep except for the sentries. Then, he crawled until he could barley see the light from the Russian campfires. He continued walking till he reached the German lines. “Soldier,” Petel said. “Yes sir?,” answered the soldier. “Where is the nearest High Ranking officer?” “Over there sir,” said the soldier pointing to a man to his right. “Thank you.” Petel walked to the man and said, “ Herr, I am Pete Hindelman, and I just escaped from a Russian POW camp.” “Come with me,” said the officer. Petel walked with him until they reached an area crowded with soldiers. “Grab him,” the officer ordered, pointing at Petel. The men grabbed Petel and tied him up. “What did I do?,” said the confused Petel. “You are a Jew and have eluded the Gestapo about your whereabouts and have joined the German forces. For these crimes I hereby charge you with death by a firing squad at 0400 hours tomorrow. “ 94
Petel was then tied to a wooden post. That night, with two guards posted around him, Petel came up with an idea. “Hey soldier,” he called “What do you want?,” asked the soldier. “Come here.” As soon as the soldier approached him, Petel raised his legs kicked the German in the side of the head. Before he had time to react, Petel drew the man’s bayonet from his pocket and stabbed him. Then, he cut his bonds with the bayonet. The other guard was quickly killed with the knife, letting Petel escape. Petel knew if he made it to Sweden he would be safe. Yes, Sweden did let the Nazis use their country as a railroad area, but he would be safe, as the Swedes did not prosecute Jews. After several uneventful cold days, Petel arrived at the Swedish border. “Hello there,” said a Swedish border patrol guard. “Hello. I’m a German soldier. Please let me through.” “ I need your name and your papers to give to the German High Command.” “OK,” Petel turned his back to the Swede and ripped of the first page of the army papers with his name on it. He did not need the Germans knowing he was in Sweden. “My name is Petel Hindel. Sorry, the first page to my papers was ripped off.” “It is fine. It’s only your name. Go through.” Once Petel was through the border he smiled to himself. Safe at last, he thought. He waited until night outside of a small village. That night, he went in and stole some civilian 95
clothes and food. Once outside the town, Petel started walking north. After a week or so, Petel found another town. He went into the town and walked into a store with a sign marked Help Wanted. “I would like to apply for a job please,” he said. “Name,” said the storeowner. “Petel Hirven.” “You’re hired. There’s a room at the back for your living quarters.” That night, Petel thought how nice it was to finely be safe. Petel would move back to Germany after the war, but he found that no one trusted him anymore because many people felt that he betrayed his race and his people. He would later move to the United States to begin a new life. He would die at the age of 83 in 2006.
Michael Montes de Oca grade 8 Snow Patrol I wasn't ready to go outside yet. It was six in the morning and I had just spent the entire night playing Call of Duty. But the snow looked so amazing since it was only September. I left the house and saw about four to five inches of snow on the ground. I thought I should head for the park. Juniper Park is where everyone would go to slide down the snow covered hills. Juniper Park’s trees surround the field and tennis courts so I never can tell who’s playing. I met a few other kids on the way and they were also ready. Some had snow tubes. One had a large plastic toboggan. Another had skis. As we got closer, Juniper looked like it was in a snow globe. The snow was untouched on the trees. The ground had no footprints. Juniper seemed quiet too so we thought we had the park to ourselves. But once by the tennis courts, we noticed the nets all flattened. “It looks like a giant tennis ball landed and knocked down all the nets,” said Joel. Michael said, “The tennis racquet storage is completely blown apart scattering all the racquets in the snow.” I recall how Juniper’s tennis nets would always favor my game. In August, when the leaves are still green and the sun still rising early in the morning, I would practice my serve. My tennis partner would be either a swim team member or one of the neighbors. It was always 97
fun because it was never serious but we always played to our fullest. I would swing my backhands outstretched enough to cover the corners of the court. I defend the baseline from high-speed topspins with certain players. For players who serve and volley, gauging a player’s stance was necessary. I think overall the court was more challenging because it brought to the courts an element of surprise. Today, however, Juniper Park’s surprise was not fun. The real reason the nets were down and the tennis racquets were scattered around the courts were a large army of snowmen landed. The snowmen were headed our way! Joel and I looked for a way out for us. It was pointless since once inside the tennis courts we were trapped. Armed with only snow gear we marched forward. It was about six of us against a group that looked funny. They were snowmen that kids spent building in the park each winter. It looked funny at first because they were round with smiles made of twigs. But it turned dangerous when they started spraying us with snow very rapidly. Joel took the first hit by his shoulder and landed on the ground. “This mean’s war!” said Joel. The snowmen were marching as well. Each time they moved, the snow made them stronger. Eventually, they surrounded us and marched forward. We were in a formation of a circle as the snow men moved ever so closer to us. It seemed to be the end for us. “Quickly! Do you see what’s below our feet?” I said. Hidden under the inches of snow were the tennis racquets. 98
Joel said, “Does everyone remember the last tennis match?” I remembered exactly because back in August we all played until late in the night. We had our best moves that day. It was like Nadal, Federer, Djokovic, Murray pressured to make every shot. We knew we weren’t playing for millions. We knew we weren’t biting into a piece of sterling silver trophy. Our last game was all about learning every part of the court. We all reached to the ground under the snow looking for a tennis racquet. We stood ready and every shot they threw we had an answer. My backhand defense pushed them back because the snowball return was solid enough to make holes through them. Another serve and volley of the compact snow sent them back even more. Every single inch of the court was a battle of ricocheting snow. Juniper Park was like out of this world. After an hour of returns of their snow throws, the snow men looked like they were getting smaller in size. Finally they spoke. “You really play well,” said one snowman to us. “We heard how you played until the night one day and wanted to see how you do in the snow.” Joel answered for us and said,” You mean you were testing us?” “We are from the planet Jupiter and always fill this park with snow in the winter and make the days bright in the summer. We thought you were rusty and wanted you to stay in shape.” said the snowman. The snowmen suddenly stopped and remained fixed to the snow like snow should be. On that September day, we proved ourselves by having the toughest tennis match we ever played. 99
Tess Wodin grade 7 Worry Free As Her We followed our dad off the empty elevator and walked down the deserted hall accompanied by the doctor. We walked in silence, weighed down by our mom’s sickness. We arrived at a closed door. “Girls, would you like to speak to your mother?” Our dad broke the silence. “Yes, please,” we replied in unison. The doctor pushed open the grey door. Mabel slowly walked inside. Followed by Larisa. I entered afterward and looked toward my mom’s brown eyes. “Mommy,” Larisa said softly. “Yes, darling.” Our mom’s voice was hoarse. “Are you still sick?” Larisa asked. “I’m getting better, dear.” She has had breast cancer for two weeks. The room was completely silent except for the sound of our mom’s heart rate monitor. A few minutes passed at which point our dad’s head peaked through the door. We knew it was time to say goodbye. “I love you mommy,” Larisa said as she slowly walked through the door. “I love you too.” Mabel announced as she left. “Tabby,” She said to me, “Don’t tell them what is happening.” 100
“I know mom. I love you.” I left the room silently, as the door closed quietly behind me. Later that night as I was brushing my teeth, Mabel came into my room. Mabel and Larisa share a room and I, being the oldest, have my own room. “Tabby,” she walked over to me as I spit into the sink, “I can’t go to sleep.” Mabel and Larisa have had trouble going to sleep ever since our mom went to the hospital. “Is Larisa asleep?” I asked. “Yes,” she switched her voice to a whisper. “Bell, would you like me to read to you?” “Yes, please,” she said. I put on my bathrobe and followed her across the hall and into her room. Larisa was sound asleep on the top bunk. All you could hear was the faint sound of music down the block. “Are you ready to get into bed? Did you brush your teeth?” I asked in a whisper. “Yes,” she said as she handed me her favorite book, Alice in Wonderland. “Get in bed and I will tuck you in.” She walked over to the bottom bunk and pulled the sheet and comforter over her. I passed her the teddy bear from the foot of her bed. The one she got the day she was born. I sat down at the foot of the bed keeping my head down to avoid the top bunk. “Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do. Once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it…” I read slowly and quietly. I looked over to Mabel who 101
was already fast asleep tightly gripping her bear. I slowly got up from her bed and placed the book on her desk. I left the room and slowly closed the door. I walked across the hall to my bedroom. Back in my room, I took off my bathrobe and hung it behind my bathroom door. I pulled down the blue covers of my bed, I turned off the lights, and got into bed. I, too, fell asleep right away. The next morning I woke up to the telephone ringing. The phone stopped ringing as I got out of bed. My dad’s voice was faint. “Hello Dr. Jones,” I heard. “I’ll be over in one minute,” was the next thing I could hear. My dad hung up and left the house. The car engine outside started and soon he was gone. I slowly walked into the kitchen and made myself a bowl of cereal. I sat on the couch with my cereal and switched on the TV. I watched American Idol for 30 minutes and then heard the door unlock. My dad walked in with tears rolling down his face. “Dad?” I said. “She’s dead,” he whispered to me. I started to cry. I ran to my room and slammed the door behind me. I jumped on my bed and buried my head in my pillow. Tears ran down my face. I lifted my head when I heard a knock at the door. Tears slowly dropped off my red cheeks. “Come in,” I said. The door slowly opened and Larisa’s little head peaked through. When I saw her I quickly wiped my face. “Hey,” I said trying to sound cheerful. “What happened?” She asked. “Nothing,” I lied. “OK,” she grinned and walked into my room. I wish I could be as happy and worry free 102
as her. She sat next to me on my bed, her back toward me. “Can you make a braid like mommy does?” She said referring to her dark brown hair. “Yes,” I said holding in my tears, “Anything for you.” I slowly brushed out her knotted hair. “Are we going to visit mommy today?” She asked as I placed the brush on my night table on the side of my bed. “Larisa,” I talked slowly, “Last night mommy stopped breathing.” She said nothing. We just sat there, in silence. After a few minutes Larisa slowly turned around. Tears were tumbling down her face. She reached to me for a hug. Tears dropped slowly down my face as I reached to her. Her little arms surrounded me. My shirt became wet from her tears. As we separated from each other Mabel walked into my room with her eyes practically closed. “What’s going on?” She asked tiredly. “Mommy died,” Larisa said quietly. Soon Mabel and Larisa were glued together in a hug. They were both crying heavily. I slowly sneaked out of my room. I walked into my parent’s room at the end of the hall. My dad was lying still on the bed. I walked to him and looked toward his hand, which hung off the side of the bed. In it was a gun.
Preston Rylee grade 5 A Flash Back of Black A flash of black One silver eye Quickly as he sweeps by Slowly his soft coat Disappears into the Night. Midnight wolf
Alexia Gilioli grade 5 Holidays Oh how I love the holidays, Snow falls, from high heaven Snowmen and igloos form Sleighs slide the side of slopes Snowball wars attack the inside fire nice and toasty, While turkeys are roasting with decorated cookies are baked hot coco sipping and cool snow licking Christmas makes us cheer Kwanza everyone celebrates, And Hanukah people sing God in glee sends St. Nick Presents from family Oh how I love the Holidays
Ava Goodwin grade 5 Thanksgiving Sit around the table shimmering candles light up the dark homey room laughter and happiness along with the sweet smell of pine tree the table has all different delicious homemade food that everyone helped to make they are set on silver platters saved for only special occasions dark purple walls match the cushions on the wooden looped chairs the small glass lamp with the white shade on the carved wooden shelf is only dimly lit this night is a special night
Cameron Hui grade 5 Life Life is a grain of rice in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean a mystery a secret to be told a flawless gymnast a fearless lion a stop light rapidly changing from red to green the cars charge off like bullets the gas peddle as the trigger confidence building strong independent children a baby giggling smiling not knowing the life that lies ahead of it
Catherine Cheung grade 5 The Beach I hear the waves crashing, The seagulls honk and screech, The sand sinks around my feet, My favorite place, the beach. The waters nice and calm, Fish swim by me, The sun keeps on beating down, Oh, how I love the sea.
Nina Houston grade 5 Chocolate I imagine dark, rich, lovely I feel soft melting luxury I feel my heart swirl with bliss for the one thing I love Chocolate I imagine factories filled with loads of bar Tons of bars Buckets of bars all in there perfect rows Silver rappers golden rappers and perfect rappers I feel like a queen Like my life is a dream Too bad when I wake up I feel like cream cheese
Selin Ferhangil grade 5 Dreams What do you think of dreams? What you think could be extreme. Do you get mad when you wake and you canâ€™t remember? What happened in your dream in September? Do you think dreams are great! Do you want to know how they work their way in? And how they always win. You will just have to see! What do you think of dreams?
Geofffrey Leong grade 6 Opposite of a Sister My sister can’t say bye. My sister never cries. My sister hates cars, but she likes to look at stars. She is short and I am tall. When I am playing with my friends She likes to play fetch. She likes Summer, but I like Winter. All this time I’ve been lying. I don’t really have a sister. So when people ask if I have siblings, I just say “I have the opposite of a sister”.
Julia Kaubisch grade 5 Just Laugh If you’re old and grey And you’ve had a bad day, Just laugh If you’re carefree and young And summer has sprung, Just laugh If you’re hungry and cold And you’re just not feeling bold, Just laugh If you’re upset and jealous And not feeling zealous, Just laugh If you’re sick and weary And sleepy and bleary, Just laugh If you’re me and you’re tired And you’re writing this poem Just laugh!
Ela Ferhangil grade 5 Nature What is nature? Nature is flowers, plants, and trees The bird’s and butterflies and bees There is water flowing And the forest is well at growing The mountains are rough To climb them is tough The bee’s honey is the sweetest And the trees are the neatest When the flowers bloom You can’t think of gloom They are so bright with joy They bring happiness to every girl or boy The birds are chirping As the humans are slurping Their early morning milk In their robes made of silk The trees so green They are also quite lean They change during the seasons And that’s for many different reasons And that’s what nature is! 113
Georgia Bynum grade 5 Ode to Flute The long silver tube with cold round keys. Fingers fall and drop to make long, bold and melodious sounds. Breath enters the tube but exits no longer air, As music When I play the sweet song of a nightingale Is singing in my ear. The melody- gentle enough to put a peaceful lamb to sleep, Yet bold enough to scare off the fiercest lions. The flute glows brightest silver and the sound, the song, the sight, Makes my life just as bright.
Simon Rhodes grade 6 Ode to the Snack Machine My Snack Machine You with those Sweeter than cinnamon Sweet smelling sugared crunches The delicate cookies Shaped by the gods Those chewy granola bars That you sink your teeth into The delicious chips with Layers upon layers of salt The soundless sound when The snack drops into the chute I love you for all you are And nothing more
Parker L. Ludwig-Larsen grade 5 Blackout I remember, That summer night, When all was still, When the mosquitoes stuck to my legs, I remember when there wasnâ€™t a breeze in sight, When the heat was still on from last December, All the fans were on, When suddenly... They stopped, and so did all the noise.
Ella Hetfield grade 5 The Witching Hour I look out my window. The street is totally silent No birds chirping No people watching The world is frozen. Its midnight, The witching hour. Nothing makes a sound, Not even a little gust of wind. Or a basketball on the sidewalk The world has stopped in time Its midnight, The witching hour
Thomas Ivashkiv grade 5 Yearning to Be Home Damp, wet chills run through your thighs Each step you take the harder it is, harder to survive Your hair is covered, taken over by the rain You look down at your shoes the rain has breached through their walls of defense making the shoes very uncomfortably soggy You look at the people around you, all of them using their umbrellas as a shield from the rain. But you, you are unprotected from the rain you canâ€™t stop it in any way or form Lightning strikes the air, your heart races, fear runs down your spine Drip drop, drip drop the rain falls even harder now The wind howls, giving you goose bumps Now you are running, wishing you could be home The ground is slippery. You might fall, but no you have to be home More lightning strikes, the thunder booms But do you care? No. You have to be home
Audrey Rudd grade 5 Air When you find yourself flying above the clouds, you think, ‘Is this real? Is this true or is it just a bitter, cold lie?’ When I wake up, I change my clothes, brush my hair, and then sooner or later have breakfast. That morning it was different. I sat in bed after I woke up and thought and thought. I thought about the night before, I had been flying…through the air.The night was silent, the night was cold. The night was one of those nights when you can’t fall asleep… “Scarlet, Scarlet, breakfast is ready!” my mother yelled from the kitchen. “One sec.” I answered. “You will be later for school!” my mom yelled again. I quickly got dressed and wolfed down some discouragingly cold eggs. I got my bag, and my brother and I headed for the school bus. As we hopped on, I tripped and everyone started laughing, even Isaac, my older brother. I sat down and pretended it never happened. Finally, we jerked to a stop. I was at school. I reluctantly stepped off the bus and slouched off to the big, busy school building and through the halls until I found room 6R. Although Mr. Rouge seems to hate everything, even his job, surprisingly, my teacher does like one student. Sad to say, that one student is Riley. Riley 119
Garshman, the favorite student of all the teachers, a.k.a. bully of Coldbridge School. And forever my rival. I vowed to ignore her from now on. I sat down and did my daily math problems. Number one, 685 times 4. 54 times 4….you know the routine. Riley raised her hand. I decided to follow my vow and plugged my ears. “Mr. Rouge,” she asked, “ so Monday and Tuesday are off, right?” Still not listening, ‘La-la-la-la-la-la’. “Presidents Day, yes. Monday is off, children,” my teacher said. “Oh, thank you, sir” Riley smiled. I unplugged my ears when she finished talking. The bell rung, briiing, telling me lunch was next. Soon meat loaf was loaded onto my tray. I was about to sit down but then Riley pushed me over. The gravy got all over my clothes. “Oops!” she said, half giggling. Everybody started laughing. Britney her tortured minion was laughing so hard she was about to fall over. I was not hungry anymore, I threw out my lunch and walked off. After school was finally over I took the bus home. I did my homework, had a bath, had dinner then went to bed. Over the weekend it was the same old thing, on and on and on, until the weekend was over. Suddenly, it was Monday… OH no, I am late for school! I pulled on my clothes and then ran out the door, not waiting for my brother. I must have missed the bus so I made a mad dash for school. Finally I got there, panting. I sat on the step. I realized that I could not hear the friendly noise of 120
chatter and gossip, and the doors were no longer open, there was no school today. It was a holiday. Then I did hear something from school, something I didn’t want to hear, Riley and her friends. I sprinted towards the bushes by the door and hid. There in the dirt I found gum wrappers, broken glass and a lump of ruffled feathers. I picked through the dirt until it was clear there was a dead bird lying on the ground. Then I felt a warm tear streaming down my cheek. I felt bad leaving the bird amongst the dirt and trash. I opened my backpack and ripped a page from my math workbook and wrapped him up in the paper. He was still warm. I walked out of the bush and saw Riley waiting for me. “Yuck, what a mess, you’re covered in dirt, what are you doing behind that bush?” she teased. Her friends laughed. I felt like nothing, like air itself. I ran home. My brother laughed when he saw me, “I can’t believe you went to school!” he cackled. “Ugh, you too?!” I exclaimed in disgust. I dashed out the door towards the park. But the park no longer held my interest. The towering slide no longer gives me that thrill that it used to. The swings are too close to the ground. I was bored and that made me sad too. I could hardly hear the screaming children over my confused thoughts about the bird. ‘Dreaming is pointless,’ I thought, ‘ all I have is a dead bird and a useless imagination.” I felt like throwing my thoughts away, just like the dead bird. What’s the point, who cares.’ I walked toward the 121
garbage can, knowing that I was going to leave my childish, wishful life behind. As I made my way across the playground, past the non-thrilling slide, and the too small swings, I finally heard the laughing, screaming children. I felt sad that soon their imaginations would die off. When I got to the almost full trashcan my hands felt heavy. As I attempted to throw away the bird l felt my heart stir, and from my hands burst a flash of feathers, the bird. Now I understand, that dreams can be dreams or we can make them our own reality and now every brown bird in the air reminds me of this.
Miles McCain 5R Thoughts Swiftly, they glide, Gentle as water, But as impactful as anything could possibly be. So settle. Occasionally, we may not even notice them. I see them, As though they were experiences. Some settle, some startling. Peaceful, and changing. Wishful, lamenting, ordinary. Yet so extraordinarily different, It is un-perceivable. Some, I long that they never existed, Others, I would not survive without. But only one thought, It may change the world, In fact, it has! The thought of segregation, Or the end of it, Was the dream of Dr. King. Dreams, Too. Even Dreams. A dream. A thought. An Idea. A spectacular achievement of life. An imaginary way of persevering, 123
Millions, trillions, and numerous others. All are different, What a thought! Gently Changing.
Jihae Simpkins grade 7 Two Weeks in Hell with George Spink Miranda was having an awful day before she even arrived at her front door. She came home cranky because her chemistry teacher had picked on her in Science and embarrassed her in front of the whole class. If she remembered correctly, he had called her a stupid baboon with no chance in science. That had upset Miranda quite a lot because she had always wanted to be a scientist, or a science-fiction writer; it came from reading extensively and watching “Doctor Who” excessively. So Miranda angrily shoved her key into the front door, went inside, and closed it with a slam. She then stomped to her room and grabbed a random Asimov book before stomping back downstairs to the living room to read. Miranda got to about page eleven before she was interrupted by a nasty string of impressive swear words, a gruff thumping sound, several groans, and more swear words. Miranda attempted to ignore the noise, but the maker was rather good at making it. So she shut her book and went to the peephole to look. A tall and thin twelve year-old boy with messy short red hair and angry green eyes stared back at her. It was Conrad, Miranda’s pest of a twin. 125
“Use your key, nitwit,” she shouted through the door. “I would if I had it, nitwit,” Conrad shouted back, “Now open the blasted door!” Miranda huffed at her brother’s insult and asked, “What happened to your key?” Her answer was a few more swears and, “I left it at home. Now let me in! I’m in terrible pain and I have to pee.” Miranda considered staying a while and torturing her brother a bit more, but then she would never be left in peace to read her book, and Mum would probably scold the life out of her, so she unlocked the door and an annoyed Conrad stumbled through. The next bit was rather funny. Conrad tried to hurry to the bathroom, but he seemed to have a limp, so he fell down three times in three very amusing ways. Miranda went back to her book, and had just finished page twelve, when she was disturbed again by Conrad trying to get up the stairs. He kept tripping over his limp and falling over and causing so much noise that Miranda slammed her book shut again and ran up to Conrad to help him up the stairs. “I’m fine,” he insisted. “No you’re not,” replied Miranda, “You’re ridiculous. What happened?” This seemed to be the question that Conrad had been dying to be asked because his face broke into a gleeful smile for an instant before snapping back into a look of anguish. “It’s my leg, ow, ow. I, ooh, I think I broke it in football practice.” “How did you do that,” Miranda asked with faked concern, then pointed out, “You play 126
in goal.” Conrad gave her a cold glare before moaning, “Ooh ooh, Warren, you know, the striker that looks like a gorilla. I had the ball and was dribbling-” “Why were you dribbling?” Miranda interrupted, “You play in goal.” “Well, I sort of wanted to try playing out of goal, so I had the ball and decided to dribble it up the pitch a bit, but once I was out of the goalie box, Warren ran and tackled me. But he’s like a gorilla, so he probably broke my leg when he did it. I’ve been in terrible, ow, pain all afternoon.” “Serves you right for not playing your position,” Miranda muttered. Conrad didn’t hear, and allowed Miranda to support him up the stairs. They half- walked half-fell up the stairs with only a few grunts from Miranda and huge variety of noises from Conrad ranging from moans of pain to the strange squealing noise he made whenever he fell. Once Conrad was safely in his room, Miranda went downstairs to read her book again. But she didn’t get far at all before Conrad started moaning and groaning again. She managed to ignore the noise fairly well, but her book was very complicated and written in very small print, so it was not easy to understand when her concentration was being broken every fifteen seconds. She was just about to storm up to Conrad’s room and throttle him in annoyance, when the door opened and her dad came in. Arthur Whitehurst was a tall fellow, and looked a tad threatening, but he was really a timid man who liked nothing more than burying himself in his books and working on the many 127
novels he wrote. Arthur was currently scribbling something furiously on the little notebook, which he wrote every thought that struck him in, and seemed unaware that he was in new surroundings. Totally captivated by his scribbles, Miranda’s dad didn’t look up once as he crossed from the door to his little office. Miranda called it the Hibernation Hole, because her father could spend hours in his office working steadily on some new literature project. Miranda stared a bit at the door that her father had just vanished through, and felt a little hurt that he had completely ignored her and not bothered to say hello. That little sequence had made her so upset that she completely forgot to throttle Conrad and went to read her book again. Conrad kept groaning, but Miranda was too caught up in thoughts of her neglectful father and strange scientific theories to notice. After twenty minutes or so, the door clicked and Miranda’s mother promptly came in. Astoria Whitehurst was the complete opposite of her husband. Her middle-sized body housed a nononsense, sensible attitude and a tendency to do things right the first time, then boss around anyone who wasn’t doing something to her fancy. Her vicious black hair and clever and fierce almond eyes were enough to make anyone second-guess crossing her. “Did you have a good day at school, Miranda?” Astoria asked. Miranda debated telling her mother about how awful her day was and all the frustrations she faced, but she knew that Astoria would say that she was being ridiculous and be entirely unsympathetic and un-motherly, so she only said, “All right. Conrad’s hurt his leg, you 128
know.” “He has? Doing what?” “He hurt it during football practice.” “But that’s improbable!” Astoria said sharply, then repeated Miranda’s earlier answer, “He plays goalie.” “That’s what I said, but then he got all moany and went on about this gorilla Warren.” Miranda replied. “Oh well, he probably has some huge test tomorrow that he hasn’t prepared for and is just trying to get out of it. I’ll talk to him later. I’ve got a new case to work out, and then I want to try out a new recipe,” Astoria went into her office/hole, which she came out of many more times than Arthur came out of his Hibernation Hole. Astoria worked as a lawyer in some boring firm, but her favorite pass time, aside from nagging and bossing people around, was to try out new experimental recipes in the kitchen. The bad thing about that was that Astoria made everyone eat it all for dinner. One time when she was six, Miranda had gone into the kitchen and tried to experiment on her own. She was stirring a bowl of sausages, corn starch, a fruit bar, and very, very old Halloween candy when her dad had seen what she was doing and had run into the kitchen screaming bloody murder and demanding that Miranda stop. It was one of the few times he actually showed any bossiness, and Miranda readily agreed and threw the lot down the rubbish bin. It was getting awfully hard to stir the fruit bar and sausage into something that looked appealing. Miranda remembered asking her father why Mum was allowed to cook but she wasn’t. Arthur had replied with, 129
“Because she’s Mum.” That seemed to be his answer to a lot of questions that concerned Astoria. “What are you doing, Miranda? You’ve been standing there for five minutes!” Astoria’s voice cut through Miranda’s thought like a guillotine. “I’m going now, Mother,” Miranda called, annoyed and embarrassed that she had been standing around like an idiot for so long. With a huff, Miranda stomped back to her book and buried herself in it thoroughly ignoring her surroundings and not lifting a finger to help her mother with supper and to make sure she didn’t serve them rat poison. She was acting a bit like Arthur, except Miranda was deliberately trying to be nuisance. However, she knew that sulking just made her more childish, so she got even more upset. Miranda was quite glad when dinner came because the food would take her thoughts off of herself. And the food did distract her. Astoria had produced chicken drumsticks with a heap of grayish black gloop on top and a side of something that had been badly burnt. The chicken looked very withered, as if someone had left it in the oven for several hours on very high heat, which Miranda deemed impossible, considering Astoria had only started making dinner forty-five minutes ago. But she simply accepted the ‘food’ without trying to figure out how it was made, and adopted Arthur’s philosophy of, “Because she’s Mum.” Dinner was uneventful. Arthur sprinted out of his office to the kitchen, grabbed a cup of coffee and a drumstick, and then walked back fast, trying to balance the coffee and the drumstick without the whole lot falling. 130
Miranda sat quietly with her mother, but Astoria interrupted her dinner by making her rush up to Conrad and give him dinner in bed. Astoria hadn’t bothered with seeing to Conrad; instead she had gone straight to the kitchen. Suddenly, Miranda found herself being made Conrad’s personal nurse. It is not pleasant to be utterly annoyed with the world, then find that you have to rush to the corner store to get instant Mac ‘n cheese and biscuits for your brother whose ‘hurt’ his leg. After dinner, Miranda was in a right awful mood. She snarled and snapped at anyone who came within ten-feet of her. Her family got the message and left her alone. Miranda knew it was not really very fair, but she was in a bad enough mood to feel like she was being neglected. In a way she was. With Arthur constantly ignoring her, and pretty much everything else, and Astoria speaking very little to her unless it was a command. What made it more unbearable was that everyone was rushing around Conrad, even Arthur sometimes. It seemed like Astoria hadn’t bothered to verify Conrad’s injury, and had simply obliged him to get him to shut up. This infuriated Miranda so much, that she threw her book at the Hibernation Hole door. (Arthur was obviously too absorbed in his writing because he hadn’t made any sign of reaction.) Then she felt stupid and ashamed for throwing her book, so she picked it up and went for a short walk around the back yard to clear her head and calm herself down. Miranda slipped her old brown coat, and went out into the night. It was November, and the air chilled her bare cheekbones and neck. The cold also did its job of calming her down. 131
The freezing wind was exhilarating, and Miranda felt lifted from angry girl she had left inside. After walking around the yard a few times, Miranda went inside the house in a much better mood than she had been in all day. Miranda went to open Asimov again, but decided that a more lighthearted and less confusing book was in need. Soon, she was very deep in an odd book about strange people doing strange things that were all completely pointless. Suddenly, there was a loud thumping noise on the door. Miranda found herself in that afternoon when Conrad was trying to get in. The person at the door was also using a wide variety of swear words, except they came from a man’s harsh, but oily voice. If Miranda wasn’t so annoyed about being disturbed from her hard achieved peace, she would have congratulated the mysterious man on achieving the effect of harsh and oily at once. That also seemed a bit rude, and a very odd thing to do. Instead Miranda went to the peephole to see who it was. She saw a shrewd black eye in a shrewd pointed face with high cheekbones and a goatee. Miranda had never seen anyone like him before, so she went to Astoria to ask if he was allowed in the house or not. But Astoria was on the phone with three people at once working on a nasty divorce, she didn’t usually do divorce, but Astoria found that it was occasionally interesting to hear about other people’s marital problems. Bit like a soap opera, except she didn’t have to wait a week to find out what happened next. Miranda quietly shut the door to her mother’s study and considered asking Dad. But he would probably just tell her to go bother Mum, he was busy, and be absolutely no use at all. Conrad 132
would probably just moan and complain about his leg, so Miranda went back to her book. But before she did, she got her family’s radio, and tuned into the classical music so that she would have something to serenade out the horrible knocking. Miranda settled into her book and the music and tuned out the man at the door. He went on knocking and swearing for quite a long time until he was using words that she thought that even Conrad didn’t know. Once the man had gotten to threats and abuse, Miranda turned the radio up louder. Now it was a competition between the man at the door, and Miranda and her radio. The man was now full out yelling and screaming some very abusive and terrible things. “He just doesn’t take a hint, does he?” Miranda muttered to herself, then turned the radio up louder. It got so loud, that Astoria came screaming out of her office, and demanding to know what in all of heaven and hell could possibly make such a horrible din. She sounded so fierce and threatening, that even the man at the door reduced himself to simple knocking. “There’s someone at the door, Mum,” Miranda said defensively, “And you were talking to three people at once, and Conrad was being all bothersome, and Dad doesn’t even speak anymore, and I had know idea who he was, so I just ignored him, and hoped he would go away. He hasn’t though, he’s quite determined. And very, very rude.” Astoria was looking at her daughter with a bored and apprehensive look to her eyes. “I think you’re the one being rude,” She snapped. “But Mum-” Miranda was prepared to launch in a very detailed explanation of her 133
actions, but Astoria cut her off. “No buts! You know you were being rude, don’t deny it. Now go open the door for the poor fellow whom you’ve made wait outside in the cold for so long. And I won’t your apology for being rude be the first thing he hears when he steps through my door.” Miranda sighed, silently cursed her mother and the man outside, undid the latch, and opened the door for Hell itself to enter. The shrewd, dark man stumbled in, as if he had been leaning on the door when in had opened. He was wearing a shabby checked shirt and black pants. Over the checked shirt, he wore a long brown trench coat. In his hand, he carried a small suitcase. “Now listen here,” the man started. But Miranda stopped him with, “I’m sorry I didn’t let you in even though I had absolutely no idea who you were, and because my parents were neglecting me, and you were swearing and screaming the entire time. There’s your apology mother.” Then before anyone could say anything else, Miranda walked fast, but meticulously to the chair and opened her book with a defiant pull. “I’ll deal with you later Miranda, and you will regret it,” Astoria threatened. Then to the shrewd man, “And you are?” But the man stood gaping a little at Astoria. She was looking particularly stunning at the moment, with a harrowed and clever glint to her blue-black eyes and her sweeping black hair enveloping her strong clear face. Miranda always regretted how she hadn’t inherited a single on of her mother’s good looks. Astoria’s hair was dark, silky, and long, while Miranda’s hair was short and black, 134
and generally went all over. Astoria had the most spellbinding eyes, but Miranda’s were a strange mix of green, brown, and bits of gold. Arthur called it hazel, Miranda called it alien. Not that that was particularly bad by Miranda’s standards. Before she could compare herself anymore to her mum, the man snapped out of his gaping and stuttered a bit, “George, George Spink ma’am.” Astoria looked at him funny for a bit, then a look of slight horror crossed her face as she said to Miranda, “Miranda, go get your father please. And if he objects, tell him it is very important.” Miranda took this as a way of saying she was not going to be punished badly for her little outburst, and went obligingly to the Hibernation Hole. The first thing that Miranda always noticed when entering Hibernation Hole was the enormous bookshelf to the left. Hundreds (literally, hundreds) of books had been crammed into the five wooden shelves, and any space in the bookshelf that was not filled with books was used to accommodate thousands of loose pieces of paper. Miranda constantly wondered at how the whole thing didn’t come tumbling down from the weight of all of the books. Arthur, she suspected, must have nailed that bookshelf to the wall, or something like that. Arthur himself was sitting at his desk surrounded by heaps and heaps of notes and reference books. He was sipping the coffee, not paying attention to his drink at all. His little notebook sat faithfully on top of three other notebooks and Sense and Sensibility. Miranda hoped he wasn’t trying to write anything romantic, he was awful at 135
romance. “Dad, Dad!” she shouted. “Go away, Miranda. Your father’s busy.” he called. His voice had a slight, throbbing lilt to it. Maybe that came from only drinking coffee and not eating. “But Mum says it is very important. There’s someone in the living room. He says his name is George Spink.” Arthur went all rigid and then started to quiver a bit. The cup fell out of his hand and coffee spilled all over several pages of notes. “George, Spink?” he blubbered, “Oh well, this is important. I’m coming.” Arthur unburied himself from the piles of notes and books, and came with Miranda to the hall. Astoria was waiting patiently for her husband, and George was lounging around in Miranda’s favorite chair. Miranda disliked him very much for that. She gave him a furious glare. “Arthur, my mate!” George exclaimed. Arthur looked rather peeved at being considered the ‘mate’ of anyone like George Spink. “Hello George,” he said timidly. “Well, it’s been years since I’ve seen you last! Must have been your wedding reception.” “Yes, yes. George, what are you doing here?” Arthur asked him. “Well, Arthur. If you must know, I had a little run-in with the missus, and since you are my only living relation, I’ve decided to come here and live with you!” It was extremely hard to decide who was more astounded by that statement. Astoria looked like she would rather face all of Hercules’ twelve labors than have George in her house. Arthur froze, and only how he was breathing very fast showed any sign of life. Miranda was 136
outraged at the prospect that she would even have to see George Spink again, and was still trying to figure out why he had said, ‘only living relation.’ Then it hit her. She had first heard of George Spink when she had listened to Astoria and her father’s sister, Miranda’s aunt, gossiping about a mysterious stepbrother who was in the midst of being shunned from the entire family. “That no good, waste of space,” Astoria had said, “He was always trying to flirt with me, and tell me how horrible Arthur was. I can’t even bear the thought of having to live with him for thirteen years, like yourself.” “He was utterly awful. Ever since father married that other woman, and she brought George along with her. Ms. Spink was nice enough, but then she had to go and die, leaving us with her horrible son. And Father was always buried away in his chemicals, a bit like how Arthur is today. He never noticed how spiteful George was to us. Once, he forced me to watch him stuff all of my books and my writings down the paper shredder. And he was always telling awful things about me to everyone else at school. But he was worse to Arthur. George practically ran Arthur’s life. George never lifted a finger if Arthur could do the work for him.” Miranda watched as thirteen years of painful memories flood back into Arthur’s face. There was an awkwardly long silence in which George had taken off his coat, flung it and his suitcase across the dinner table, and put his grimy and smelly shoes on the coffee table. “Well, I’m sorry George, but we don’t really have the resources for another person to live here. My books and Astoria’s job barely makes enough money to-” 137
“Nonsense!” boomed George, standing up, “I’m sure you can comfortably take me in. And it won’t be forever, just until I can find a new job. Shouldn’t take more than a week or two.” “Well, I suppose...” “Arthur!” Arthur stopped mid-sentence as Astoria cut him off. “I think we need to talk a bit before we make any decisions. Please come with me to my office. George, wait here for a minute please while we talk.” George and Arthur both nodded, and Arthur followed Astoria and George sat back down in Miranda’s favorite chair again. “So what’s your name?” George asked. Miranda turned around slowly and said with as much as hate as she could muster, “Miranda.” “Miranda eh? What kind of name is that? Sound’s like some kind of disease,” George snickered. Miranda locked eye contact with him and said haughtily, “Shakespeare, you know, the playwright? One of the greatest literature minds of all time. He invented the name for the Tempest.” “You know, a lot of people think that Shakespeare didn’t actually write those plays. So you could say that your name was invented by a thief and a liar.” Miranda could literally feel her blood boiling. But she held her tongue and tried to think of something else. “What’s wrong, Ugly? Did Georgy hurt your feelings?” he asked in a mock baby voice. Miranda bit her lip and said calmly, “Do you enjoy insulting twelve year olds?” 138
“I never liked children, all that moaning and complaining. And your Arthur’s child, which makes you even worse.” “But that’s insane!” Miranda stood, “You were once a child too.” George snickered, “And it was fun to terrorize them back then too.” Miranda was appalled. She had never met someone in her entire life who was so, horrible! But then Astoria came in, looking extremely displeased, with Arthur trailing timidly behind. “George, we’ve talked it over. And Arthur and I agree that you are welcome to stay here until you get a job, provided you pay sufficient rent.” Astoria looked like she was in pain from saying the words. But both she and Miranda knew that money was scarce, and desperate times called for desperate measures. “Of course I’ll pay rent,” George said, grinning wickedly, “I’d do anything to oblige you, Astoria love.” Miranda wanted to vomit all over George’s cocky, horrid, person. But she didn’t want to even think about what Astoria would do to her if she did, so she ran to the bathroom and splashed lots of cold water on to her face. She looked into the mirror, and mentally prepared herself for the intense war that was about to be waged. Miranda came back into the living room where her parents were serving George tea. George took a sip of the tea, and spit it all out, right down Arthur’s front. “What is this stuff?!” George demanded, “It tastes like a dishrag.” “It’s black tea. No milk or sugar.” Arthur said meekly, mopping tea from his shirt. 139
“Tea? I hate tea. Astoria love, would you please send that daughter of yours to get me some whiskey from the corner store.” Before Astoria could answer, Miranda spoke up firmly, “No, I’ve got more important things to do than get whiskey for you.” “Don’t be rude Miranda.” Astoria snapped, “Go get some money from your bank, and run to the wine-shop. Give the man this note,” Astoria scribbled a note saying that Miranda was getting alcohol for her parents, and signed it. “But you haven’t given me any money!” protested Miranda. “Then use your own. You probably have near 5,000 pounds saved up from tutoring and babysitting. Maybe spending a little for someone else will teach you some manners.” Miranda wanted to scream at her mother, but instead she grabbed the note, glared at her mother, and stomped off to get her wallet. “And get a bourbon as well while you’re at it!” shouted George. From that moment on, Miranda found her life being a living hell. George made life miserable for Miranda, and Conrad once he came down for breakfast the next morning. Conrad detested George as much as Miranda did. George called him Ginger when Astoria wasn’t there. And Conrad was equally furious at having to serve George like he was the Queen of England. Astoria and Arthur were no help at all. They always retreated to their respected offices, and snapped at anyone who complained to them. The Whitehurst parents seemed to think that if they spent enough time away from George, he would disappear. But he didn’t, and 140
instead was left to happily terrorize Conrad and Miranda. Everyday, Miranda served George whiskey for breakfast, lunch, and supper. Once, Conrad had taken care of George’s meals, and accidently gave him hazelnut coffee instead of whiskey. George literally threw the cup at him. “I HATE HAZELNUT COFFEE!!!” he screamed, then said menacingly, “Never give me hazelnut coffee, again. Are we clear?” Both children nodded, then went to pick up broken teacup. They had long since given up complaining to their parents. Arthur would always refer them to their mother, and Astoria would go on about spoiled children refusing to help their parents get a little bit more money to support them. Miranda nearly pointed out that Astoria’s new dress couldn’t possibly be a detriment to the family’s savings, but she had enough sense not to. The Tuesday after George Spink arrived was the day when things started to get interesting. Miranda was still trying to stop being shunned after the science class baboon episode, so she had stayed up till one baking cupcakes for her class in a way of gaining back their friendship. Miranda had had several goes at it, and had totally blown off her Math assignment. She planned on doing it later in the morning, but she was so tired, that she missed breakfast completely. Miranda reasoned that she could always do her Math homework in Math class during the ten minutes that it took for the Math teacher to actually get there. But she smiled brightly at the prospect of gaining back all her friends and erasing the baboon incident from the memories. Miranda ran downstairs to make sure that the cupcakes hadn’t disappeared 141
in the night. She had put several signs around and on the baking sheet bearing messages like “Please don’t eat any of these.” “These are for Miranda’s class, DON’T TOUCH!” “DO NOT EAT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES!!!” If that wasn’t clear to anyone, she didn’t know what was. Miranda walked happily into the kitchen, but the smile on her face flipped into a face of utter rage. There he was, George Spink, eating what looked like his 19th cupcake. “Oh hello, Miranda,” he said innocently, “Nice cupcakes!” Miranda’s eyes trailed over to her near empty baking sheet. There were only two squashed cupcakes, and it looked like they had both been thrown on to the ground and stomped on. All of her signs were tossed aside. “Did you eat those cupcakes?” Miranda asked, she was too angry to even sound menacing. She was shaking with rage, literally. “You mean the ones for your class? Why yes, I ate them. You see, when I read that they were for someone else, I simply had to-” George didn’t go on, seeing as Miranda had sprung on to him and was beating her fists into any part of George Spink she could get to. “You, vile, horrible, greedy, malicious, haughty, evil, piece, of, utter, scum!” Miranda screamed, annunciating each word with a punch. “Aargh!” George yelped, then a malicious glint came to his eyes. Miranda stopped, for a moment, bemused. “Miranda!” shrieked a voice from behind. Miranda’s heart sank as she turned around to face her mother. 142
“Mum, I can explain.” she started, but Astoria finished her sentence with one hard glare. “In. Room. Now. Stay. There.” Miranda opened her mouth to scream at her mother, but Astoria wasn’t attending. Instead, she was listening to George’s account of the story. George said that he was peacefully drinking his coffee, when for no apparent reason; Miranda jumped at him and tried to strangle him. That was the clean version anyway. George added in a lot of words that Miranda supposedly said, most of which she had never heard of in her life. She had a good mind to jump him again, or maybe hit him over the head with a saucepan, but Astoria had a look of utter horror and the malicious look people get when they’re plotting to do something nasty to someone else. Miranda decided that she was the ‘someone else’ and made for her room as fast as she could. But something stopped her. The door across from hers was open. That was where George was staying, and he had fitted in series of chains and locks on to the door, and kept it locked all the time. He could be creating hydrogen bombs, or turn into a giant chicken, and the Whitehurst family would be none the wiser. Miranda thought that George, in his excitement of ruining Miranda’s life, had rushed downstairs and had forgotten to lock his door. Miranda grinned, for the first time in a while, and tiptoed into George’s room. There were no dead bodies anywhere, but Miranda continued snooping. She noised around every part of the room looking for something that she could use to make George’s life Hell. Then she found it. A small, black, leather-bound notebook with the 143
initials G.S. on the cover. Miranda opened it and to her utmost delight, read the words: The Personal Diary of George Spink. Miranda grabbed the diary, sprinted to the Hibernation Hole, copied the diary with the copy machine at the speed of light, then sprinted back to Georgeâ€™s room, and returned the diary. With a copy of the diary in one hand, she smiled mischievously as she left the door in the same half-opened position as it was before, and went to her room. Eventually, Astoria came up and said that Miranda was allowed to go to school now. Seeing as she was supposed to be in Math now, Miranda saved her angry words for that night, and sprinted at the same speed she had used to copy the diary to school. She ran up to the Math classroom door, mentally prepared herself for the lecture she was about to get, and quietly opened the door. She then slipped quietly and quickly into the nearest chair in the back, and prayed. To her astonishment, the Math teacher didnâ€™t even glance her way. He was in the middle of a geometry lecture, and seemed to have forgotten that there was a whole universe outside of the chalkboard and chalk. With a small smirk on her face because she had managed to sneak in so successfully, Miranda even finished her Math homework. Miranda had a theory that time moves like a snail when one is hoping or expecting something, or simply waiting for something to end. Time also seems to go by in a few moments whenever one is enjoying something, or dreading for something to occur. Today was an experiment. On one hand, Miranda hated school, ever since the baboon incident at least, and wanted school to end as fast as possible. 144
However, Miranda was also dreading the upcoming lecture and losing battle she would have to face when she saw her mother that night. Hope and dread, the day flew past proving that Miranda’s fear of her mother was greater than her hatred of school. She tried to prolong her steps as she walked back from school, but somehow she was at her front door in what seemed like half the amount of time it should have taken. But when Miranda opened the door, she was not greeted by a lecture. Astoria was busy in the kitchen with George, and she could hear the clicking of Arthur’s fingers on the keyboard. Conrad was at football practice, after failing to prove to his coach that he was injured. Miranda, unnoticed by her mother, ran up the stairs to her room. A kinder mood was beginning to settle on her. Miranda doubted that Astoria had forgotten about the morning’s debacle, but had gotten some sense and realized that George was the terror and she was the innocent victim. Or it could be that Astoria was simply pining her time to explode at Miranda when she was unprepared. It was Friday today, so Miranda thought that Astoria would make her move during the weekend, or through the next week. But Conrad came home and Miranda went for a walk up and around Blithe Hill without an uproar from Astoria. But it was dinner when the eye of the storm had passed, and Astoria released her venom. They were all eating; the Whitehursts (Astoria raised Hell if anyone wasn’t present for Sunday dinner, so Arthur was there too) and George, shepherd’s pie when Astoria cleared her throat and said sharply, “It has come to my attention,” she began, 145
and all eyes looked up at her, “That you children have not been very kind to George,” Miranda looked appalled at Conrad, who then snorted into his pie at the absurdity. Astoria ignored that and continued, “So, since Arthur is visiting the editor this weekend, I have decided to come with him and leave you two with George for a chance to get to know each other a bit better. I don’t know what your aunt was talking about, George is a marvelous person!” She turned and looked lovingly at George. It seemed like all of the emotions in the world had suddenly burst out on to the Whitehurst dining table. Miranda was terrified at having to spend an entire weekend with George, but she also felt a mischievous glee because she could hit him over the head with a saucepan as many times as she wanted, and there was no Astoria to stop her. She could also start hatching some plans with the copy of the diary. Conrad looked absolutely outraged. And he had a right too. George seemed to have taken to going out of his way to inconvenience him like hiding his football uniform in the rubbish bin, sticking a bag full of three rotten cabbages and last week’s leftover steak under his bed, throwing his homework out the window, and all managing to get Conrad in trouble for it. Both children also had the forbidding feeling that Astoria was falling for George. They had often wondered why Astoria had married Arthur in the first place; they were so unalike. If Astoria left him for George, then who knew what would happen. George was positively beaming that Astoria had complimented, but his nose was slightly wrinkled up because he had to spend time with what he called “Pumpkin and Ugly.” 146
But then, a weekend was plenty of time to torture Pumpkin and Ugly. He was the only one who fate seemed to have any compassion for. Arthur had a dazed, confused look to him that suggested that his mind was far off in the world of his novel, and would be of no use whatsoever. Once everyone had decided on which emotion to express, they all burst out in loud shouting. Conrad opened his mouth and complaints, protests, insults, swears, moans, whines, and nags spilled out. George was busy complimenting every aspect of Astoria he could, and Arthur had gone off on a long explanation of the confusing plot line of his novel to Astoria. Miranda was the only one who didn’t say something. She simply sat in her chair waiting for Astoria to take command once more. It was vital that Astoria and Arthur leave George alone with them. There would probably be a few injuries, but that might have been the only chance Miranda had to drive George out. George had not left the house once, except for many trips to the local pub, and there seemed no reason why he would actually move and look for a job. Astoria didn’t notice because she was usually out till five, except for Fridays when she got off early, and always listened to George’s lie that he had gone job-hunting all day to no avail. Arthur was, of course, no use. Then, in the middle of a complaint from Conrad, a compliment from George, and an explanation of what gizzros were from Arthur, Astoria stopped their blabber by saying, “And what do you think of the situation, Miranda?” “Hmmm? Me? Well, I’m fine with whatever works for you mother,” Miranda 147
grinned. Astoria looked at her in a way that showed she only thought Miranda’s devotion was a way of sucking up to her. That hurt Miranda. It hurts to know that your mother doesn’t think your love and affection is real. But Miranda knew that now wasn’t the time to ponder over her mother, there were more pressing matters at hand. “Well it’s settled then, George is to stay with you two while Arthur and I visit the publisher, and don’t complain Conrad,” Astoria added warningly. Conrad mumbled something, and then proceeded to pout and sulk for the rest of dinner. Once dinner was over, Miranda and Conrad both ran up to there appropriate rooms. They had taken to spending the least amount of time with George as possible, and after dinner, he tended to be in a particularly malicious mood. Miranda gathered her copy of the diary, and knocked on Conrad’s door. “What do you want?” came an annoyed shout from inside. “It’s me, Miranda,” she whispered, “Let me in! It’s important!” There was a crash from inside, and Conrad swore. After a minute, he opened the door, looking slightly disheveled. “What is it?” he asked. “I’ve got a brilliant plan to get rid of him!” Miranda replied, “Can I come in?” Conrad looked at her eagerly and opened the door wider to let her in. “So what’s your plan?” Miranda checked to make sure that George wasn’t standing right outside, and explained how she had come upon the diary, and presented the copy. Conrad looked rather impressed that his twin had 148
managed such a brilliant feat. They read it over, taking notes and pitching ideas, making sure that George was no where near the entire time. They had come up with several creative if not possible ways to make George very, very, unhappy. Miranda went back to her room with the copy, her head full of notes and plans. She stashed the copy under her bed for safekeeping, and went downstairs to say goodbye to her parents. They were leaving that night, and, as their children, Miranda felt it was hers and Conrad’s duty to see them off. Since it was 8 o’clock on a Friday night, Miranda would usually be glued to the television watching three to four episodes of “Doctor Who”, but part of George the Scourge was that he somehow expressed superior rights to the T.V. and was what one would call a ‘remote hog.’ More like a living room and refrigerator hog, and everything else hog. Miranda had given up arguing with George over the T.V. and decided to get her homework finished before class for once. She started to fall asleep half way through it and stumbled to her bed. She didn’t fall asleep though, Miranda suspected that whenever she was bored, she got sleepy. But it was only 9, and Miranda couldn’t watch T.V. and she didn’t feel like completing her homework, so she tried boring herself asleep. That wasn’t very pleasant, and after 5 minutes of that, Miranda got out a piece of paper and a pencil, and started writing down every way that she could get rid of George. She came up with several interesting, but unlikely ways to do it ranging from chasing him out with a herd of elephants to bending dark energy to rip him apart. Dark energy got 149
her scribbling all her thoughts about the end of the universe, and then she started thinking about the meaning of life and how everything was going to eventually die anyways. By then it was eleven, and Miranda yawned, then brushed her teeth and fell sleepily into her bed. It isn’t pleasant to have a bucket of cold water dumped on your face. Miranda learned that at 6:30 on Saturday morning when woke up, wet and cold. “What the heck! Who did-” Miranda stopped as she finished wiping her eyes and saw George the Scourge himself. “You!” she screamed, “What in Hell did you do that for?!” George tossed her the bucket rather gruffly, which she didn’t catch, so it hit her on the forehead. “Ow!” she groaned, but George ignored her saying, “I’m hungry. Put the bucket back in the broom cupboard, then make me breakfast!” Miranda opened her mouth to tell him what she would do instead, but then George picked up a mop that was somehow lying on the ground. “No complaining,” he commanded, “Or I’ll hit you with this. Would probably do your ugly face some good. Couldn’t make it worse.” Miranda lunged at him with such fury screaming, “You are so horrible! This is CHILD ABUSE!!!! Even the Devil himself would be astounded by your evil!! You’re-” but then Miranda’s screams of fury turned in yelps of pain. George had hit her over the head with the neck of the mop. “You’ll stop complaining now! Go make me my BREAKFAST!!!!” he annunciated each word with a beat from his mop. Miranda, 150
horrified that she would get a concussion or worse, put her hands up and said meekly, “All right, all right! I’ll go make you breakfast.” George stopped his beating, and Miranda ran downstairs to the kitchen. She could feel a welt growing on her head as George called, “I want pancakes and bacon! Don’t forget the whiskey!” Miranda went to the freezer, and wrapped some ice in a towel, which she pressed to her scalp. The cold gave her a brain freeze, but it was better than the pain of the mop. She had never been more furious in her life. Miranda didn’t know who to be more angry at, George for doing all the horrible things he had done ever since he arrived on their doorstep two weeks ago, or her parents for letting it all happen. Miranda had a good mind to pour dishwasher soap mixed with some of the mold under the kitchen sink into the pancake batter she was now stirring, but that seemed a little unkind, and murderous. With a sigh at her failure to do off with George, she went to the fridge to get some bacon. But something caught her eye. With a package of bacon in one hand, Miranda climbed up on to the counter to look in the top shelf. There was a small tin labeled: All Natural Brazilian Hazelnut Coffee Hazelnut coffee. That triggered something in her mind. She quickly ran upstairs to get the diary copy. “What are you doing, Ugly. Do you want to be beaten? Go make my breakfast!” George the Scourge thumped into Miranda’s room. Miranda stuffed the copy into the pocket of her sweater and said, 151
“Just getting my sweater. It’s a bit nippy downstairs.” George nodded, as Miranda ran back downstairs. Once she was in the safety of the kitchen, she pulled the copy out of her pocket, and scanned through the pages. There it was, under the heading November 10th, My plan to win Astoria’s heart is working. She and my idiot of a stepbrother are practically eating out of my hand. The only problem I have are the brats. Today, Ginger served me hazelnut coffee. One sip of that vile stuff had me in an outrage. I HATE HAZELNUT COFFEE!!!! It makes my blood boil. I don’t think Astoria believe me when I told her that Ginger had purposely thrown the cup, she might have been on to me. But I was still seething from the, youknow-what to care. How could anyone like the overpowering sweet taste of hazelnut anyway? It’s beyond me why anyone would spoil a perfect cup of coffee with HAZELNUTS!! Only wimps drink that stuff. It takes real guts to drink strong, normal coffee. Hazelnut coffee is a disgrace to all coffee, beverages, and mankind for inventing such a horrid thing! When I hear the very words: hazelnut coffee, I want to pulverize everything in my reach. I want to slit the throat of whoever invented such a thing. And I have thoughts of beating, murder, enslavement, and world domination when I drink it. In short, if I ever drink another cup of hazelnut coffee again, I will completely flip, and destroy everything in my path! Miranda was near tears of laughter after reading the diary. She had no idea how she could have forgotten this entry, she must have skipped over it. But it was one of the funniest things she had ever seen. After regaining her composure and snorting into the pancake batter, Miranda poured half the bag of hazelnut coffee 152
into the batter. She then added more milk, and then stirred the batter until it was a light brown color. Miranda added bananas to fix the color a bit, then added more hazelnut coffee. She then fried the bacon, then two enormous hazelnut coffee pancakes. The pancakes were a brownish color, with chunks of bananas poking out and one side of a pancake was charred black because Miranda couldnâ€™t figure out how to get her spatula under it in time, and the other pancake was all wonky shaped because she flipped it wrong. The bacon turned out all right though. Miranda suspected she inherited her cooking skills from her mother. There was a reason why her family never ate Christmas dinner at home. Miranda thumped the two pancakes and bacon on to a plate, then spilled a whopping amount of maple syrup. She then placed the plate in front of George who had just come down to the dining room. He didnâ€™t even mutter the slightest words of gratitude, but instead snapped for whiskey. Miranda went obliging to the kitchen where she made hazelnut coffee and poured that instead. She put a touch of whiskey on the top to make it look a little less brown. Then with a small smile, she gave that to George too. George picked up his fork and knife, and started attacking the pancakes. Miranda went and stood patiently by the staircase. She stood nervously as she watched the scene unfold. George took a huge amount of pancake on to the little fork, opened his knife, and put the lot into his mouth. He chewed for a bit, than after a few seconds, his face turned blue and he started shaking. A look of incredible discomfort spread over his face, and George, unable to stand it any longer, spewed chewed up pancake 153
all over the dinning table. He quickly reached for his glass and took a large swig. George’s face turned purple, and his black eyes pinched up and tears spewed from them. Then George gagged and spit all of the hazelnut coffee over the wall. His body shook even more furiously, and his face turned into that of utter rage. He shouted, “WHAT IN HELL DID YOU PUT IN MY BREAKFAST?!?!?!” In a split second, Miranda had sprinted up the stairs. She turned around gleefully and shouted, “HAZELNUT COFFEE! HAZELNUT COFFEE!” George screamed a battle cry and grabbed the nearest item, the uneaten pancake, and threw it at Miranda’s head. He missed and hit Conrad’s door instead. “TO HELL WITH YOU, MIRANDA WHITEHURST! TO HELL WITH HAZELNUT COFFEE! I’LL GET YOU FOR THIS! I WILL!” He yelled this as he ran up the stairs after her, panting all the while. Miranda dashed into her room, locked the door, and piled up her desk, pillows, a chair, many books, and all of her old stuffed dolls against her door to make a barricade. George had arrived at the door around the time Miranda was piling on books and continued with his insults and death threats. Miranda snickered a bit, then opened up her window, and climbed out. There was a particularly wide space where a rain gutter should have gone, but was for some reason, it was absent, and Miranda and Conrad had been using it ever since they were five. Miranda safely walked the three yards it was from her window to Conrad’s and knocked 154
loudly on it. Conrad was laughing hysterically on the floor. He had probably heard exactly what had happened, and Miranda could still hear George swearing at her empty room. She knocked harder, and Conrad looked up. He jumped a little at seeing her, but then went to the window and opened it. Laughing, he helped her in as he said, “What did you do-” But Miranda covered his mouth with her hand, and put her finger to her lips. Conrad swatted away her hand, but whispered,” What happened?” “I’ll tell you somewhere else. Go out and tell George that you’re going to be working on homework for the rest of the morning. I’ve got a plan.” Conrad acted very obligingly, seeing how he was being ordered around by his younger sister, and nodded, told George that he was working on a History assignment and that George could have the television for the entire morning. George was still too angry to say anything civilized, but he made a grunting noise that showed his acknowledgement. Conrad had lately stayed out of trouble with George the Scourge by bribing him with T.V. privileges. He was back in a few minutes with a bowl of cereal and two strips of bacon. He gave one strip to Miranda and said, “George is in front of the T.V. now, but he’s vowed to beat you to oblivion when you come out. Now what’s your plan?” “Meet me on the roof, I’m going to get a coat,” she answered, then climbed out the window again to fetch it. Miranda arrived at Conrad’s window again, wrapped thoroughly in a warm coat, and stepped on to his windowsill. Her feet were 155
chilled because Miranda hadnâ€™t thought to wear boots, and had only her old sneakers in-between her feet, and the ice-cold sill. With a shiver, she pulled her right foot off the sill, and propped it on to an outcrop. Balancing with one foot with on the outcrop, Miranda hoisted her other foot on to the roof. The roof was slanted on one side, but in the area where Conrad and Mirandaâ€™s bedroom, and the broom closet and spare room were located, was flat. This was because the fireplace was stationed right besides the staircase, and the flat spot was built to accommodate the chimney. Miranda walked quickly to the little lean-to that she and Conrad had built long ago besides the chimney where Conrad was waiting. She sat down on the blankets and pillows, and pulled the coat around her more. It was warm in the lean-to, and it was there that Miranda comfortably told Conrad about the contents of that morning, and about her latest idea. She pulled out one page of the copy, passed it to Conrad, and then the two put their heads together to make the most use of the new information about George. The page read: November 11th, I watched a frightening movie today. I donâ€™t know why I did; horrors always scare the life out of me. I was a bit too jittery to say goodnight to Astoria properly, and that and the cup incident might set me back a few days. The movie was about ghosts and zombies taking over the world. People should just leave the living dead alone, and stop making horrifying movies about them. They are a pain to any channel surfer like myself who just happens to stumble upon it. I am absolutely terrified of the living dead. Mainly because I would have no idea of how to 156
kill one if I was confronted, and it’s not natural. That’s the problem with the media these days. They’re always making up stuff, never showing realistic and accurate things. One hour later, Miranda and Conrad had come up with the most ridiculous, far-fetched, and least likely to succeed plan, ever. But they were out of ideas. They had perused every diary entry, looking for a weakness, and this entry was the best one they could come up with. How they were going to manage scaring George into leaving was going to take all of the skill and luck they could muster. The first part of the plan was easy enough, at least for Miranda. All she had to do was stay out of George’s way as Conrad did the talking. Conrad and Miranda spent much of the day poking around the house looking for the necessary items. Miranda climbed down from the roof and went to the costume store and grocer. Conrad brought her lunch from downstairs. Both agreed that it was too dangerous for her to show her face downstairs, in case George beat her with another mop or worse, so she had resorted to climbing down from the roof. Once all of the preparations were set, Miranda went for a walk in the local park and the outdoor market. She strolled around, ran a bit, and then simply enjoyed the open air. The market and park brought a sort of distant air to her. It was as if the Miranda who had been plotting the downfall of her unwanted housemate, had stayed behind, and it was a different Miranda walking outside. She thought about what she had done and what she was about to do. Miranda was secretly pleased that George had decided to make everyone’s life 157
Hell. It gave her some excitement and a goal. For once in her life, there was some conflict. Normal, ordinary life was so boring, and one could live fifty years and not accomplish something important. This thought made Miranda giddy at what was going to go down tonight; successful or not, it would be exciting. Miranda considered that if she ever got the George the Scourge mess figured out, she would consider philosophy. It would be... interesting. Miranda climbed up the fire escape ladder to the roof, then climbed down to Conrad’s window. Conrad was sitting against the wall, furiously writing something down. He was sitting in the middle of a pile consisting of a can of body paint, a white wig, a saucepan, the portable burner, a packet of chicken hearts, pig’s feet, [Miranda was shocked to learn that you could get both at the local grocery store] a Victorian style white dress, a large packet of make up, and a zombie mask. Miranda snickered a bit at the sight. “Oh you’re back,” Conrad said without turning from his paper. “Do you know how ridiculous you look?” she asked, no able to contain her thoughts. Conrad looked around at his surroundings, then said, “I think it’s the zombie mask that makes it all look so odd.” “Or the chicken hearts, what are you writing?” “Oh this?” Conrad held up the paper, “It’s my History homework.” “You actually had History homework? And you did it?” Conrad gave her a glare, but Miranda just laughed. 158
“Unlike you, I do my homework before the class starts.” Miranda threw the pig’s feet at him, then asked, “Where’s the Scourge?” “Downstairs, glued to the T.V. as usual. I’m going to finish this, then call him up. Could you clear all of this up please?” He gestured to the heap of odds and ends surrounding him. “Sure,” Miranda said, as Conrad got up to complete his homework on his bed. It took her two trips to get the body paint, wig, and dress into her room. The reason for two trips was that the dress had so much quantities of lace that was quite literally everywhere; Miranda nearly fell when she was trying to balance it all, and still manage to see. She put the zombie mask and make up in Conrad’s closet, then set the burner and the saucepan in the center of the room. About this time, Conrad had finished with his homework. “Oh good you’re done,” Miranda said, “I need you to go downstairs and bring up some water, a jar, and everything foul smelling you can get your hands on.” Conrad grunted in agreement, opened the door, and slipped outside. He came back with a large jar filled with water. Then he left again and came back a ten minutes later with a whole jumble of stuff. Conrad was holding: the sweatiest and smelliest clothes from the laundry pile, a few scrapings of the mold from under the kitchen sink, the remnants of a disastrous lettuce and parsnip mush that Astoria had cooked up last Monday, and, of course, hazelnut coffee. “Brilliant!” Miranda exclaimed once she saw the things that Conrad had brought. Now came the interesting part. Conrad poured the 159
water into the saucepan while Miranda carefully brought it to a boil. Then they added the chicken hearts and pig’s feet. After stirring it for a bit with a wooden spoon Conrad had also brought, they added the lettuce and parsnip. The smell in the room suddenly turned from foul to disgusting in a matter of moments. Miranda stirred the mix until the parsnips sank to the bottom of the pan with the pig’s feet. She got the pigs feet and chicken hearts out of the pot, and plopped them into a jar. Then the mold went into the pot, along with the hazelnut coffee and Conrad grinned, chanting quietly, “Heart of chicken and foot of pig” Miranda chuckled slightly and added, “Double, double toil and trouble. Fire burn and cauldron bubble.” They really had created a witch’s brew. By covering the saucepan with Conrad’s sweaty football jersey and Miranda’s gym shorts, they had made the smell absolutely horrendous. It was a wonder that George hadn’t barged in yet and complained about it. After a few minutes had passed, they deemed the smell on the verge of unbearable, turned the burner off, and covered the saucepan with its lid. “Go get George, I think it’s ready,” Miranda said, a little woozy and nauseous from the smell. Conrad simply nodded and went downstairs. !Boys seemed to have a natural resistance to all things smelly. Miranda went and sat in the closet, leaving a crack big enough so that she could peer through, and waited. In five minutes, Conrad had finally convinced George to come upstairs with him. Miranda heard the approaching elephant stomps of George and him whine in a very annoying 160
throbbing voice, “What is that terrible smell?” The door was then kicked open and Conrad came in tugging George by his sleeve. George’s face was plastered in an expression that showed extreme discomfort. His nose was wrinkled and his features contorted with his nostrils flared and his mouth screwed up into an ugly position. “The smell is important. Now you need to pay close attention to what I’m about to say. Please listen, it is vital to your safety that you understand me. This could be a matter of life and death.” Conrad said earnestly. A look of slight concern changed the ugly expression on George’s face as he knelt down with Conrad on the rug by the burner. Miranda watched Conrad speak from her hiding place. “Back when in the 1800s, a couple lived in this house. They had been recently married, and the husband was a banker while the wife was the most beautiful creature in the entire county. But the husband was paranoid and jealous, and suspected that his wife was seeing another man. He had seen her enter the other man’s house, and not return till the morning. In a blind rage, he took his knife and stabbed her, right in the chest, in this very house. Horrified at what he had done, he buried her body twenty feet deep underground. Though her body was lifeless, her spirit was angry and felt vengeful at her husband for mistrusting her and killing her senselessly. In truth, she had spent the night at the other man’s house because she was delivering his wife’s baby, being known as the best midwife as well as for her beauty. So she tortured and tormented her husband. He turned into a psychotic monster because of her and his 161
actions, and threw himself off a cliff to spare himself from the anguish. The wife’s spirit could finally rest. But every month, on the thirteenth, they both rise up from their graves, and torture and torment all who have sinned in this house. That is why the later members of this house have developed a ritual to protect themselves from the vengeful spirits, for they both do not understand reason, or mercy.” George looked white and pale, and had started shaking slightly. Once Conrad had finished though, he seemed to regain his senses and said gruffly, “I don’t believe any of this. It’s all probably just a story that someone made up to scare people. But, just out of curiosity, what is the ritual?” “Ah, it’s this. You must brew a potion of mold, parsnips, essence of foot, and hazelnut-” “Don’t say that word!” George snapped. “What word? Hazelnut cof--” “Don’t say that word!” “Oh, all right,” Conrad said, acting slightly confused, but he knew exactly why George was in a fuss about hazelnut coffee, “Well, you also need a jar of chicken hearts and pig’s feet.” He held up the jar. George leaned back, disgusted. “What on earth is that?!” he shrieked. “I just said, chicken hearts and pig’s feet.” Conrad held the jar closer to George’s face, who tried to lean further back, and fell instead. As he was getting up, he said, “That looks more like a bloody lump from outer space.” In fairness, it did. The hearts had started oozing blood, and were already weird looking in the first place, but the pig’s feet were poking out from underneath the hearts 162
making the sight even more appalling. “Well it’s a vital part of the ritual. We must rub the chicken hearts over our neck, the pig’s feet on our ear lobes, inhale the brew, all while singing the chanting these words: Huehyah! Hueh-yah! Heuh-maki-yah!” Miranda wanted to roll on the floor laughing as Conrad scooped out some chicken hearts, despite George’s moans of disgust, and rubbed them all over his neck, all while chanting, “Hueh-yah! Hueh-yah! Heuh-maki-yah!” “Stop it! Stop it! STOP IT!!!” George screamed. Conrad stopped mid chant and looked at George funny. “What in the bloody hell are you doing?!” “Performing the ritual,” Conrad said, as if rubbing chicken hearts on your neck was the most normal thing to do. “I’m not doing that!” George shrieked. “But it’s the ritual. If you don’t do it, then the spirits will come!” Conrad protested. He shook the chicken hearts in George’s face. George swerved to avoid them by standing up. “I think this story is a pack of lies anyway. It’s all hogwash if you ask me. And if your story is, by some impossible mean true, then I needn’t worry. I doubt I have sinned in my entire life!” George put on a very noble face, and strode out the door. “You’ll be sorry!” Conrad called. But George ignored him. Once the T.V. could be heard again, Miranda came out of the closet bawling with laughter. Conrad dumped the chicken heart into the jar again, and took an exaggerated bow. Miranda clapped for him inbetween hoots of laughter. 163
“Thank you very much, ladies and... anyway, please excuse the Magnificent and Incredible Conrad while he takes a shower to remove the remnants of chicken heart from his body.” Conrad’s face broke into a noble expression that was almost exactly like George’s and imitated him as he strode nobly out the door. Six hours later, Miranda was shivering in her room. The window was wide open, and she was only wearing a thin white dress. Her body was covered with ghostly white paint, and Conrad had poured ketchup on her front to make it look like blood. Her face was glowing slightly in the dark because of the paint, and her hair was covered by the long white wig. She had taken Astoria’s eyeliner pencil, and had drawn around her eyes and annunciated her facial features. The effect made Miranda look like she was from some supernatural place. Conrad was waiting in his room dressed up as well. Miranda shivered again, and pulled a blanket around herself. But the ghost paint got all over the blanket, so Miranda sighed and pulled it off. She considered closing the window, but she would have to leave at a moment’s notice and didn’t want to be prevented by the latch. After ten minutes, a shrill whistle carried its way from the roof. Miranda sprang up, and carefully climbed through the window. It was even colder outside, and the long, lacy dress was dangerous. Miranda carefully walked, slowly and cautiously. She couldn’t even see her feet through all of the lace. The cold didn’t help keep her balance. She held her breath, and eventually arrived at a window, which Conrad was standing on the other side of. Conrad was 164
dressed just as ridiculously as Miranda was, and looked even colder. He was wearing a ripped white shirt and ripped white trousers with the white ghost paint all over him. Miranda had had great fun gloping ketchup on him and drawing nasty cuts and blemishes. They had forsaken the zombie mask when Conrad had discovered that you couldn’t see anything except yellow rubber while wearing it, and that you couldn’t breath. Miranda took care to not be seen through window, and whispered, “Where is he?” “He’s in the bathroom, brushing his teeth. Now as soon as he comes in, make your appearance. I’ve propped the window open with a book so you don’t have to worry about latches or anything. When he tries to get away follow him. I’ll be waiting outside. Are you ready?” Miranda nodded and replied, “Ready as I’ll ever be.” Conrad grunted, then said earnestly, “This is it, two weeks of torture, and it all goes down tonight. You realize that if this doesn’t work, we’ll be in the biggest trouble of our lives. I’m guessing foster care if we’re lucky. Mum would probably kill us first though, if George didn’t beat us to death before her.” “Let’s just focus on succeeding now instead of how we’re going to survive if we fail. Be careful, all right. George is violent, I wouldn’t put it past him to try and hack us in two with a chain saw if he could.” “I will. Be careful too.” “Thanks, you should go now. He’ll be coming up any minute now.” Conrad scooched past Miranda and quickly ran across the outcrop to his window. Miranda felt desperately alone 165
now. Everything was all up to her. Presently, George entered the room. He sat down on the armchair right by the window and was writing something. Miranda recognized the black leather covering and grinned as she stood behind him and read his words. She couldn’t make out much but she did get: Damn Ugly and her hazelnut coffee Disgusting and crazy Ginger Chicken hearts Astoria and, Stupid Ginger and his ghost stories, there could possibly be nobody like me. I am the ideal human. Beautiful, brilliant, and soon to have a gorgeous, though not as much as me, woman on my arm. No ghost is EVER going to get me! Miranda let a smirk creep on to her face as she thought, “We’ll see about that George Spink, we’ll see about that.” Miranda turned the book up and propped the window up higher. She called in an eerie voice, “George Spink.” George shot up straight. He twisted about and looked around the room. Miranda was standing flat against the wall, with her face to the moon and invisible from inside. George spotted the book propping up the window and muttered, “Must have been the wind.” He made a move to close the window, but Miranda called out louder, “George Spink! It is not the wind who calls you.” George froze and dropped his diary to the ground. It landed with a loud thump. “Who, who is it?” His voice shook with 166
terror. Miranda stepped in front of the window. George staggered back in fear. With her figure illuminated by the moonlight, and her glowing skin, Miranda looked like something from a dream. More like a nightmare. She said in a husky, slithery voice that chilled even her bones, “I am the ghost of a woman scorned. Much evil and sin has been done unto me.” Miranda pulled the book out, and threw the window up. She started climbing in saying, “You, George Spink, have done much evil and sin. You have barged your way into this noble house ungracefully. You have lusted for a woman who can never be yours. You have terrorized and abused her children. You have sinned!” George backed up against the wall. He was pale and whispered frighteningly, “How do you know about this?” Miranda had climbed through the window and was making her way towards him. “I am the guardian of the members of this house. And I punish all who sin.” George started staggering back to the door; his eyes were blinking back tears. “Please, please. I’ve done nothing wrong. It’s those brats you should be punishing, not me. And is it my fault if I like beautiful women who just happen to be married to my stepbrother? Please, please. Spare me!” George was now sobbing. Miranda widened her eyes and advanced on George. “You are evil, do not deny it. Do not plead for deliverance. I know not mercy or compassion. You will suffer!” George screamed and sobbed harder. He ran towards the door and started violently turning the doorknob. But it 167
would not open. Miranda laughed a highpitched, maniacal laugh. “You will not escape that way. My husband is on the other side of that door, and he will stab you to death like he did to me!” Miranda thrust her breast forward, and showed the ‘blood’ stain, highlighted by the moonlight, to George’s delirious eyes. At that moment, the door flung open, and Conrad stood with a knife in his hand, blood dripping from it. It was simply a steak knife dripping with tomato sauce, but in the dark it looked lethal. “You have sinned!” Conrad boomed, “I too have been evil once, but I paid the price with my life! Now, you will share my fate!” He started advancing on George, the knife aimed to kill. George shrieked and backed into Miranda. He whirled around and let out a terrified scream. George than saw the open window, and ran to it. Miranda and Conrad walked slowly but menacingly towards him. George kept on screaming as he literally flew through the window, ran along the outcrop that was creaking from his weight, and jumped on to the old trampoline. He was so large, that his weight rebounded and he bounced right off, landing on the ground with a thud. Miranda and Conrad both peered out the window, slightly concerned. “Maybe I should go make sure he’s alive,” Conrad whispered. He started climbing out the window. That was the moment that George chose to flop to his back. He saw Conrad and froze again. Conrad stood on the outcrop, and Miranda leaned out the window and screamed, “Come back, and you’re dead!” George shrieked and jumped up. He then sprinted as 168
fast as he could, yelling bloody murder, across the yard and on to the road. He kept on screaming and didn’t turn back as he ran down the road out of view. Miranda and Conrad watched the road intently to make sure that George wasn’t planning on coming back. But he didn’t seem to, though they waited long after his screams had faded out of reach. Conrad turned to Miranda and said, very much astonished, “We did it, he’s gone!” “Yeah,” Miranda replied, “I guess he is.” Then the two burst out in fits of laughter. They were laughing as they made there way to Miranda’s room, and then they were rolling on the floor and banging on the walls, bawling. After ten minutes of pure laughing chaos, Miranda suggested that they get out of their costumes. That brought more laughter, but Miranda finally managed to make it to the bathroom, and wash all of the paint of. Conrad came in after her, and soon, they were sitting on the couch, eating ice cream as they relived their exciting night as the ghosts. At around midnight, they fell asleep sitting, with ice cream cups in their hands. The next morning, Miranda woke to find that her ice cream had melted all over her shirt. Conrad was gone, probably eating breakfast. Miranda turned around to find that he was drinking a mug of something. When Conrad noticed her looking at him, he held up the mug saying, “Hazelnut coffee, it’s actually quiet good. I can’t see how George could hate it so much.” Miranda crossed over to him, and Conrad held out his mug. She took a sip of it, and savored the 169
warm, sweet liquid. Miranda’s stomach reminded her that she hadn’t eaten two of the essential meals yesterday, or breakfast today. “Mmmh,” she said, “That’s really good. George said that hazelnut coffee drinkers were wimps.” Conrad snorted. “He’s actually calling someone a wimp! Did you see how he acted last night?” Miranda rolled her eyes and replied, “Yes Conrad, I did. Fact of the matter is, I was there!” “Wonderful sarcasm, Miranda, wonderful sarcasm. But George is the biggest wimp and coward I have ever had the displeasure to meet. I don’t think that it is physically possible to be more wimpy.” Miranda chuckled, and then went into the kitchen to get some breakfast. She made herself some toast and bacon, and some hazelnut coffee while she was at it. Then she took a shower. Conrad and Miranda then started the arduous task of cleaning the house to make it look somewhat presentable for their parents. Astoria and Arthur Whitehurst arrived at noon on the dot. “Conrad! Miranda!” Astoria called. Miranda and Conrad had just come back from a hike around the lakes and mountains, and were sipping hazelnut coffee in the kitchen. They put their drinks down and ran to their parents. Conrad squeezed his mother tight and Miranda gave Arthur a bear hug, which he enthusiastically returned. “Hi Miranda, Conrad.” he stammered once Miranda had released him. “Hi Dad! How was the visit to the 170
publisher?” Arthur sighed and said dejectedly, “The editor said that she likes my writing style, but doesn’t like the content very much. She told me to stay out of the romance department and get some new ideas. So basically, she said no.” “That’s all right Dad,” Miranda said comfortingly. Then an idea struck her and she said with a hint of amusement in her voice, “In fact, Conrad and I have been working on a story for you. It’s got great adventure and can be seen as quite, quite funny. And there’s no romance.” Conrad snorted a bit and Astoria looked at him disapprovingly. “Anyways,” she said, in her usual bossy tone, “Where’s George?” Conrad nodded toward Miranda implying that she was the one who got to make up where George had gone. Brilliant. Thinking fast she stammered, “Well, um, he said that he had been contacted by the supernatural, and left. He’s not coming back, but he left all of his stuff here, saying that it would all probably cover his lodging.” “Really, supernatural contact?” Astoria asked bemused. “Well, he’s a bit superstitious, or he could just have been wanting an excuse to leave.” “Oh, well, I thought he would have the decency to tell me in person at least.” Astoria sounded depressed and rather disappointed. “Yeah, well, he’s never coming back. Cheer up though Mum, life will still go on!” Conrad said, a bit nervous at Astoria’s concern for George. Arthur, also concerned, spoke up, “Do you know what George is doing 171
now?” Miranda looked at Conrad who answered with a grin, “Last I saw, he was training for the National Track Team.” Time passed normally from then on. Arthur had started writing two short storied titled “The Horrors of Hazelnut Coffee” and “The Ghosts of Whitehurst Hall”. It turned out that he was actually a really good writer, once he got away from romance. Conrad got kicked off the football team after trying to play striker when he was supposed to be in goal, and had taken up engineering. Now he would race home to build a whole variety of things. So far, he had built a working radio, a motor airplane, three miniature people, and a cuckoo clock. Astoria was still the same old bossy mother. Conrad and Miranda had decided on not telling their parents about the horrors they faced under George. They probably wouldn’t believe them and act like they had when George was here. So the mystery of George Spink was never solved for them. Miranda had done some serious thinking, and decided that she wanted to make something really meaningful out of her life. So, she was now signing up for every community service event she could, and even arranging some of her own. Of course, science was woven into everything she did, but now she was doing something important. Miranda had decided that she would spend all of her time she wasn’t using to help others, by building a time machine. Astoria had been rather against that idea, seeing as Arthur had completely ignored everyone when he was working on his books, but she agreed once Miranda swore that she would still 172
be very social. Her class still thought of her as a loser, but Miranda couldn’t honestly care less. No one in her class had ever had any real excitement in their live, and she had. The most they knew about adventure was from television. One day, after cleaning up the shore of Grasmere Lake, Miranda was walking home. As she was approaching her house, she saw a figure crouched down in the bushes by her drive. Miranda got closer, and recognized the figure to be no less than George Spink himself. She tiptoed quietly and when she was right above him said, “And what do you think your doing?” George jumped and turned around. “Oh, um.” “I thought the ghosts made it very clear that if you showed your face here again, they would end your existence.” George stood up. “Oh, sorry then. I’ll just be going.” And he ran away fast down the road. And that really was the end of life with George Spink. But that didn’t mean at all that the adventure had gone too. There would be more of that. Much more.
Dedication Doctor Wheeler is one of the longest working teachers in Grace Church School history. He has taught various classes at Grace, ranging from Latin to World Religions. His classes are always fun and interesting no matter what the subject. His upbeat and unique style of teaching is incomparable to any other teacher. One thing is for sure, Doctor Wheeler will be missed by the Grace Church School community. -- Matthew Schleifman