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Tim Breen Barbara Buckley Paul Denby Promise Partner Julie Yates Katherine Desimine Payge Emerson Fiona McEnny Ross McFayden Tyler Randazzo
The White Mountain School Literary and Art Magazine
If you would like to submit to the next issue send your essays, poems, short stories, paintings, doodles, and photographs to
February 2013 issue No. 2
Table of Contents Cover Photo by Jodie Ann Clark Juanita!
Stephen and Emma!
I Canʼt Share This in Class
Que Sera, Sera
Abigail Shrader- Hiltz
I Found Me
I Found Me Tyler Randazzo
When you change your identity like I did, it is easy to forget who you are. In between the framework of her and him, I wallowed in the everchanging tide of tomorrow. But then I found me. A phoenix, I spread my wings from the ashes and was born anew, enlightened by the blaze I had set upon myself. As the scalding flames engulfed me and burned my inner core, I felt myself rise above them. I felt myself fly. I feel myself fly everyday, as I think about the moment when I found me. It wasn’t easy. My fingers shook, my heart beat out the unsteady beat of a brand new drummer. When you want something with your entire being, when you want it so bad that your body might just break, then you know you only want it half as bad as I did. Because when you change your identity like I did, it is hard to forget who you are.
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Juanita Emily Rowe
Her clothes are stained with the hint of cigarettes and booze. Her hand-me down jeans are faded with age and torn at the knees, the hem on
Self Portrait Dong Lin Li Page 15
the bottom no longer existent because of where they catch on her oversized work boots and scuff along the ground. Her flannel hangs off of her boney structure and trails behind her like a cape. The homemade patches on the elbows of the sleeves are tearing off, and the pocket knife and pack of cigarettes in the breast pocket weigh down the left side, making the shirt hang lopsided. Her yellow work gloves have dirt caked onto them and the ring finger on the right glove is missing because of a temperamental horse that took a nip at her. The missing finger reveal the wrinkled, tired, yet strong, hands that hide beneath the gloves. Her fingertips are wrapped in Looney Tune band-aids that must have been from the 60’s or 70’s. They are the old kind of band-aids Grandmas keep in the back of their medicine cabinets just in case one of us kids should ever need one. Dark bags hang beneath her tired eyes. The smoking and overall wear and tear from life have created trails of wrinkles along her jowls and around her eyes. But she is tough and wears a mask of strength and wouldn’t be caught dead showing any sign of weakness. Her eyes are the color of the ocean after a storm and every time she smiles, crow’s feet stretch from corners of her eyes all the way to her hairline. Her graying hair is braided neatly and hangs down the center of her back. She whistles a soft melody, the same melody, exaggerating some notes more than others, everyday while completing her chores. The melody never changes yet it never got old. You could tell the kind of mood she was in based on her volume. Some days she would walk up and down the aisles whistling as loud as her smokey lungs would allow her and the horses would respond with nickers. Other days you could barely hear her at all. “What’s goin’ on today kiddo?” she’d say in her thick, raspy, southern accent while tossing a peppermint back and forth in her mouth. Most days I would just respond with a shrug of the shoulders, a heavy, drawn out sigh and “Oh you know...
the usual.” in a monotone apathetic voice. That’s all I had to say. She knew and understood. Her response to that was typically something along the lines of “Whose ass do I gotta kick?” or “Well, grab a shovel. It’s amazing how shovelin’ horse shit can get your mind straight.” She was right. The barn was my safe haven, my escape. It was a place of peace and serenity. A place to free your mind and feel needed. The horses needed us just as much as we needed them. For both of us the barn gave us a sense of home. The nickers of the horses and the rhythmic, soothing beat of their hooves colliding with the ground as they float across the earth’s surface. Even its warm, one of a kind scent that lingers in the air. It’s something I’d trap in a jar and carry with me everywhere I went if I could. We would joke about how we would live at the barn and sleep in the hay loft if we could. Some nights when the nightmares would keep me up I would. I would slip out of my room and make my way up the long dirt road to the barn; feeling lighter with each step. The closer I got the stronger the scent became, making my blood feel warmer and flow with a sense of ease. I’d grab a horse blanket and climb the rickety ladder disappearing into the loft. One night I climbed up into the loft and found Juanita propped up against a bale of hay being partially illuminated by a tipped over flashlight. She was slouched over and her head hung low between her shoulders. The hay stuck to her clothes making her look like a limp scarecrow. I hesitated, pondering whether I should stay or go back to my room. If I did stay would I say something, and if I said something what would I say? I decided to quietly make my way over and take a seat next to her. I didn’t say anything. I didn’t want to upset her or disturb the peace if I hadn’t already. We sat in silence for what seemed like forever. I hadn’t decided if I wanted her to say something or not and if awkward silence would be better than trying to come up with a response to the infinite combinations of words that could stumble out of her mouth. After a little while longer she spoke. “It’s okay to cry.” she said in a hushed hollow voice. I couldn’t tell if it was a question or a statement or if she was trying to convince me of this or herself. A single thirsty tear clung to the edge of her eye lid, then no longer able to support its own weight, fell helplessly down the side of her face.
take my shoes off at the door, and even ask dad before I used the bathroom, as if I was a guest in my own father’s house. I kept to myself the first week of break. I would hide out at my friend’s house, crying to my mom on the phone. Then came the Saturday after Thanksgiving, which I did not give thanks for. It was a long Saturday morning; it was chaotic all throughout the house. The whole family was up, or my “soon to be” family. Everyone was full of excitement; corks were flying off champagne bottles like rockets, people were crammed in the bathrooms, fixing hair and doing makeup, and dad was in the corner getting a pep talk from his best man. However, excited would’ve been the last verb I used to describe how I was feeling. I went into this state of emptiness, ignoring the happiness running through the house, and deflecting all those comments about how beautiful the two of them looked. Minutes later, I had my scarf wrapped around me in the unheated church. I stood on the left side of the altar trying not to vomit from the disgusting color of my bridesmaid dress. It was the definition of an ugly bridesmaid dress. It was even velvet! The dress hung heavily, just above my ankle bone, making my body look extremely lengthy and awkward. The green velvet spaghetti straps over my shoulders, barely held up the weight of the dress; it was 5 pounds of pure ugly, or it at least felt like it. I started to cry, not because I was happy, or touched, or sad about the situation. I did not cry because I wanted to object to what was happening. I cried because I knew that I should have been on the right side of that altar, with dad, and that I would never be on that side again. It would never be just me and dad, it would be me, dad, and her. I say her because she is in no way a stepmother to me, nor did I want her to be. I have a mom, who is doing a damn fine job; I don’t need two.
Change Abigail Shrader Hiltz
I was laying in bed, constantly sitting up to see if he was coming home. He wasn’t. He told us he was spending the night out on the boat. I couldn’t believe it; I didn’t know what was going on. I was crying, clenching my pillow to my face, wanting the hostility to be over. Mom sat at the kitchen table filled with animosity and outrage; she was continuously lifting her ear towards the ceiling to here if my tears had stopped. I walked downstairs to grab a framed photo from a few years back, and held it close to me as I lay in bed. In the foreground of the photo was the dog, then me wrapping my arms around her, and on the far right sat mom and dad. They leaned in towards each other, just like the one big happy family every only-child would hope to have. I didn’t want our next family photo to be of just mom filling up the right half of the photo by herself, and the dog and me still taking up the foreground. It was a rolling wave of undecided and heavy hearted emotions throughout the household during the next few weeks. The fact that I was leaving for my freshman year of boarding school that August wasn’t helping the matter either. The next year was long and hard; I just wanted everything to go back to normal. And then it began; the Thanksgiving with dad, Christmas with mom, and the denial of dad’s new girlfriend filling my mind. It was a hard freshman year for me; I found support at school, but nothing filled that empty hole where my dad used to be. Our relationship was never the same. Another year had passed, dad was driving me home for Thanksgiving break, and Mom had been in Texas for November, so I didn’t get to see her. Dad and I got on the ferry back to his new house on the island. Ironically, we had rented that same house right after I was born for about 2 years. Although the house was somewhat familiar, the people living in it weren’t. I had lost my connection with my dad, we barely even knew what to talk about anymore, and his girlfriend was no one I desired to hold a conversation with. I would sit at the kitchen table twiddling my thumbs, or Stephen and Emma Su Zihan Page 13
I Can’t Share This in Class Chris Bernd
I can’t share this in class because it’s a heavy subject. I can’t share this in class because it will make me very emotional, bringing this up again. I can’t share this in class due to the fact that this is all so recent, with the events still being played out, my emotional healing still in the process. I can’t share this in class because people may laugh at me, make fun of me, laugh under their breath or even go so far as to call me a pussy. Today has marked three times in the past year that she’s broken my heart. The first time was when she had to leave, and I was prepared to feel all of that pain then, but I was not prepared for what was to come after. The second time was at the beginning of the school year, after she had told me that it was doubtful that we would ever see each other again, and for that I wept as someone who would that just lost everything. The third time was when she told me she did not want to have what we once had ever again, that really hit home. I had one last fleeting hope, a dying flicker of light that one day we could be together again, but she had put a glass over that flame extinguishing it forever. Now I come to realize that I was just being stupid. Stupid to seek out this girl, stupid to fall in love, and stupid to think that it could ever happen again. Being alone can be difficult, but being with the one you hold so dearly to you and then having that ripped away by the fates, the thread that bonds you two cut, is the worst thing imaginable. There is no greater pain that I have ever known than the crushing, aching, feeling of dread as it slowly creeps out of the inner depths of your heart, longing for what you once had, yet that which is impossible to grab a hold of. There is no medicine for this type of pain. Nothing and nobody can cure you of this affliction that has overcome you, only time heals all wounds. I thought I was past this, and yet while I have moved on I still had that one last flame; but not anymore. It’s over. Nobody knows what the future holds, that’s what they always say, but I know: my future has no “us” in it, not even a little bit, and that pains me.
to do with me or my brother, mentally going through all of the people who wouldn’t care that this happened, who wouldn’t help. The feeling from those memories that jumps out at me the most is what I’ve increasingly felt every single day since that fatal scraping of metal, and mangling of parts- the loss of control; over my life, my fate, over my brother, over everything. Since the accident, I’ve hated situations where I’m not in control. If I’m ever in a car, I’m the one driving. I don’t take public transportation, I don’t go on roller coasters; I don’t do a lot of things. I do sit on the ledge a lot. On the ledge I’m in control, in control of whether I climb back into the apartment, or if I jump. If I continue this charade, or if I stop. And then I snap out of it and I’m back on the ledge. I’ve been on this ledge plenty of times before, practically every night for the past two years, but this is the first, and last time, I feel them- the hands, pulling me in. I don’t turn around, not wanting to ruin the illusion, if that’s what this is. I just sit, and let myself be held. I haven’t been held since before the accident. I let myself be pulled into the embrace; I let myself be pulled into what’s beyond. I look down. And I’m falling, being quietly enveloped by the space between the 47th floor and the sidewalk. I’ve thrown away the last ounce of the control I possessed over my life. I’m falling, I close my eyes, and I’m at peace. Que sera, sera. Whatever will be, will be.
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Que Sera, Sera Anonymous
I look down. The city looks miniscule from up here. Yellow lights, blue lights, white lights. I look down, and I’m in control. I look down. Wind rushes back up at me. All that matters in the world is that wind, that rush, and the 47 stories below my feet. Cars honk, sirens blare; everything in the world is normal, at peace. My being, my mere petty existence, hasn’t changed one thing is this vast city, for the better at least. The pavement is enticing. The space between me and the cars below lures me. It represents eternity, that space. It represents my existence, all the nooks and crannies of my existence, every tiny thing about it. Everything that has ever mattered to me won’t matter anymore if I just give in to the space. “Come on,” it says. “What do you have to live for? A boy? A job? A house?” I shake my head and I think about the accident, as always. I think about the screeching tires, and the ambulances, and my mother. I wish the three of us had all gone that day, together, as a family. I wish it wasn’t my sixteen-year-old self sitting with my three-year-old brother in that emergency room, knowing that we’d never see our mom again. I wish I’d had a bridge that hadn’t been burned to cross, one across which to bring my brother with me. But I didn’t, and they were all gone. So it was me, a sixteen-year-old girl, who had to explain to him that he would never see his mother again. I’m back on the ledge, and memories come in bursts. Doing drugs for the first time, and then the second and the third time. Meeting my little brother. Him, her. The accident, always the accident. Over and over, always the accident. The day I realized I was completely alone in the world, abandoned to take care of a brother who could take care of himself. Sitting alone with him in that emergency room two years ago, mentally going through all of the family members who no longer wanted anything
Silver Cascade Jeff Bush Page 6
Change Elliot Murphy
presence; it helps me get out of my own head. With every step forward my body is engulfed in another inch of sunlight. It beats down on the toes of my shoes at first and then climbs up my pant legs, until I finally take one last lunge down onto the unpaved road. Everything is lit up in the pale youth of the morning sun, which generously extends its arms to catch us as we leak out of the bus’s exit. When my feet hit the ground, the silt is kicked up into a chaotic cloud that dissolves by my knees. Nothing. There is nothing for miles in either direction, just sand, cacti, and the occasional shelter, all trembling in the low lying breeze of the desert. It seems lonely and endless but it is more beautiful and raw than anything I’ve seen in my sixteen years of existence. I walk a couple of paces from the vehicle and sit down next to Aaron at the base of a headless sign post. He must be able to see the vacancy or confusion in my facial expressions since he immediately asks me if I’m alright. This is me climbing out of the dark depths of this cold water and heaving myself onto the glassy surface of the frozen lake. I am worn out and weak, but the sun dries the rags on my back while lulling me into a calm warmth. I lay there, gasping for air, which rushes through my lungs in sharp, desperate bursts. I don’t know how many more times I must slip or how many different buses I must ride to arrive at a conclusion but in this open space of tranquil nature, I begin to forget my troubles. “Yeah, I’m alright”, I reply.
Frozen Lake Sophia Grogan
I pry my eyes open; they sting with central air systems and dust. Before my vision adjusts to the blackness of the bus aisle, I blindly search for my backpack. My fingers brush a cloth surface and I breathe a sigh of relief– It’s there. Aaron is snoring in a rhythm of fourths, drool dripping from the corners of his mouth as he occasionally mumbles words in a British accent that are incoherent even when he is awake. As my senses begin to accustom themselves to the confined darkness, I start to smell the faint odor of piss and mold and begin to feel the damp humidity on the tip of my tongue. This happens at least once a month: I pack my red backpack, dump it in the belly of a Mercedes-manufactured bus, pick a window seat in the middle row, and turn my mind off. The people I am with change, as well as the color of the felted lining on the walls, but the feeling never does. You have to shut yourself down on these long stretches of travel. It’s hot and disgusting. Violent movies blast on the screen in front and crazed rural folk mumble quick Spanish to themselves. Indigenous women bring shit matted goats and chickens on board which they often conceal in sacks slung around their backs. There is no bathroom, so unless you dehydrate yourself beforehand, you can expect to be on the verge of explosion for hours. It is hell, especially for someone like me who can barely tolerate loud gum chewing. At first, I can’t calm myself down; I feel anxiety slamming against my chest. A chaotic orchestra of conversation, dripping noses, and the rumble of the engine flood out the silence. I begin to panic as the feeling of entrapment creeps up on me and shoves me in a black box. The irritability manifests itself in my teeth, which I clench together tightly. This happens at least once a month too– this episode– even when I’m at home or at school or in a luxury car. The difference between then and now is that I can’t escape. This isn’t childhood anymore and I am being propelled forward at sixty miles per hour towards a foreign destination I know nothing about. There is no dorm room to hide in, no one to vent to, no fresh air to inhale. This is me slipping on a vast, thin sheet of ice with no land in sight. I tell myself to grip, but I’m just skidding further and further into the wilderness with no sense of control.
Then, when I swear that I can’t take it anymore, I fall. A crack appears beneath me, and the ice breaks away as I am plummeted into the cool blackness of the frozen lake. I collapse and sink, drifting into the depths. Maybe this is what shock feels like. You always see that scene in a movie where the character is inflicted with incredible pain but eventually loses consciousness and slips off to some alternate reality; maybe that is what this is. I release my white knuckled grip from the armrest and exhale the old oxygen sealed behind my lips as my external frustration turns to internal conversation. For the first time in a while I want to break down and beg for answers to my questions, not out of anger but out of surrender. I am isolated. I am on a thirty-hour bus ride with a set route but no direction. All I have to my name fits inside a backpack and anyone I ever cared about, even in the slightest manner, is a continent away. I think about the moments that have dictated my life from my earliest years and the events that have unfolded as a result of them, including this one. Leaning my warm forehead against the glass windowpane, I blankly stare outside; the sun is rising above the horizon, a thin sandy line that emerges where the orange sand and milky sky meet. In the last twenty-seven hours this bus has rolled through jungle, mountains, coast, and now the desolate flatness of the desert. I am somewhat unsettled by the flow of everything around me. How can it be, that I am able to sink in and out of consciousness for hours and process the darkest and lightest aspects of humanity but nothing notices? The rolling landscape is still lit up at six thirty every morning, the conductor still drives, and my friend still sleeps peacefully– but my mind races at an inescapable pace. As the bus begins to yield, every individual neck cranes forward in perfect unison. The dust clouds that were billowing in our trail become shallower and the rumble of pebbles beneath the wheels slow to a crunch. Stop. I get up eagerly, drained of any patience. A line of people all a head shorter than me extend to the door, some seeming equally as exhausted as I am, their shoulders slouched low and eyes red with the residue of restlessness. Before I shuffle along the gritty pathway to the exit, I tap Aaron on the shoulder to let him know that I’m going outside. “Wait, I’ll come,” he replies, forcing himself awake. I nod, taking my gear with me as to eliminate the risk of being robbed. All of a sudden, I’m thankful for his Page 8