L I T E R A R Y M A G A Z I N E
C O L L A G E S
Collages A Literary Magazine Volume One The International School of Paris 2009‐2010 Student Editors: Gabrielle Cesvet Fenn Gruetzmacher Jaye Michelle Harris Laurence Opie Sambhavi Priyadarshini Lee Hiang Seah Victoria Strauss May Ziadé Production Editor: Sambhavi Priyadarshini Faculty Advisor Ms. Stephanie Feo Cover Art by Mei Ushio
Anna Morrison grade 11
From the Editors 2009-2010
We are very pleased to introduce this first edition of Collages, the International School of Paris’ own student literary magazine. Created, written, and edited by eight students, the aim of Collages is to collect international, inspirational, and creative student writing from all grades at ISP. The title Collages refers to the variety of student work, which is very diverse yet assembled in harmony to represent the range of experiences and interests at our school. In order to select the different pieces of writing that you are about to read, we asked student writers of all grades to submit their work anonymously to the literary magazine editors. We then discussed each piece and chose a collection of different styles and genres as we aimed to reflect the diversity present at the International School of Paris. The selection was made through all the grades of the Secondary School. As we publish our first magazine, we would like to first and foremost thank all of the students that courageously submitted their stories. Without them we would have not been able to make this magazine such a great collection of work. We would also like to personally thank Mr. Harris, whose kind and generous donation made the creation of this magazine possible. In addition, we thank the Language A Department for their support and their financial contribution. Our thanks also go to those who donated at the Gala and who vividly participated in our Book’N’Bake Sale. We hope you will enjoy this first edition of ISP’s Collages as much as we enjoyed making it for you! Thank you for reading, The Enthusiastic Editors of the Literary Magazine Gabrielle Cesvet Fenn Gruetzmacher Jaye Michelle Harris Laurence Opie Sambhavi Priyadarshini Lee Hiang Seah Victoria Strauss May Ziadé
WireCity, Eri Sasaki, grade 12
Where to begin, where to begin…This is hard, terribly hard, but I know that it should be. For a subject matter of such profundity, the kick‐off means everything. And I am well aware of this. So aware, in fact, the knowledge seems to be crippling my pen; the ink wrestling itself back, in fear of responsibility for any misplaced word. This writing is no place for slip‐ups and shortcomings; this will be my opus, I decide with a sudden terrifying clarity. As I realize this a balmy sweat condenses on my neck; what word can I use? I am a diver, stepping forward to the precipice of my own opportunity. And picturing the idea in my head, it glistens and swims like a per‐ fect cloud, formed and complete within the lonely confines of Me. But I cannot start it, the task is there and beautiful and endless. Whatever word drifts by, I cast off. “No! That is not how it begins! It’s all too small, too big, too unassuming, too preten‐ tious!” The first word must be right; perfect and shining and clean. The beginning is every‐ thing, like that old quote about the crooked timber from which no straight thing could be made. All the words I know are crooked. Crooked and ill‐fitting. The only thing I know is the un‐asked question that both empties and fills me; how do you start the best work of your life? I am empty. I am nothing. I am the metal rod wait‐ ing for lightning, the dry crest of beach untouched by the sea‐ Wait. Wait, now, just wait. Shut up and listen for a second. Shut up while I work. I pick up my leaden pen and sit silently for a moment. Then, in strained strides, I scratch the nib across my empty masterpiece. A hot, unnecessary gasping escapes me and I regard what I have written. One word. The most beautifully straight, unas‐ sumingly‐pretentious word I have (and suspect, I will) ever commit to paper: The I lean back from my paper and smile. I am on my way. Jamie Fraser, grade 11
Grade 6 Haikus In an old green tree... Little fairies fly around Twinkle! Fairy dust. ‐Ejiah Rousselet
It was six o'clock. The sunset was beautiful, Reflecting the sea ‐Laldinpuii Colney
The waterfall fell, Slowly and peacefully, right Down to the river. ‐Daria Lysyakova
The woods were lonely, but yellow‐green leaves rustled, because the sun shined. ‐Evangel Shery Kujur
The leaves are falling. Woosh! The wind blows them away. The tree is empty. ‐Caroline Teunissen
The birds were chirping And were so sweet and lovely. I was excited. ‐ Simarjit Arora
As the bird flew past, The wind blew through the dry leaves And the bird flew on. ‐Caroline Klaey
Inspiration Box I arrived at the office at precisely 8:47. I sat at my desk in my cubicle; I had my own cubicle now, and continued to write the project that I had been working on for a week now. The project in question was Kira Banks, the fashion princess of 2009. “Crafting” her had been a dull affair and writing the report emphasised this. As I wrote how she spent a painstaking four hours each day in makeup and dress my mind began to drift. What would I have for lunch that day? Perhaps Subway, although I had had that only yesterday, no I would have the Whopper from Burger King. I had eaten an hour ago, however my stomach was already rumbling. Boredom often induced hunger, I found. After an hour ‐at 9:53‐ my boss, Gillian, asked me into her office. I presumed it was to give a report on my progress however I was mis‐ taken. “Good morning James, how are you?” She asked me as I took up my usual rigid position in front of her desk. “I’m fine, I was just finishing up the Banks report, it’ll probably be done by lunch…” “Yeah, yeah, look I’ll be honest I’m not interested in the Banks report, in fact I’m taking you off that account, sit down will you? No, I’m giving the Banks account to Sophie‐” “‐but Sophie doesn’t know a thing about Kira! She hasn’t checked her stats, she hasn’t crafted her, she hasn’t even met her!” At this point I checked myself as I realised my voice had left the realm of the ‘inside voice’. “Look James, calm down, we have a new project, a more valued project, its level 5. We just got info that new rap sensation Dion has accepted our offer and I’m looking for our top crafter to take on the job.” I promptly accepted the offer, apologised for my earlier discrepancy and expressed my gratitude at being given the opportunity to show my talent. Working for Crafters was my life and yes, I think I can say I enjoyed it. Crafters was the company behind “Life of the Rich and Famous” magazine. I was one of the many writers/ crafters who researched and wrote the articles on the world’s most lucrative icons. A crafter was someone who followed the ce‐ lebrity in question around, noting their every move for a month; this information was then used to write a detailed biography of the crafted. I had been working at Crafters since I had left college, three years ago. I applied thinking it was a temporary position but I soon forgot all my ambitions and succumbed to the safety and security of a paying job. The next day I woke early so as to beat the traffic on my way to Soho. I began my journey appre‐ hensive and hungry, so I stopped at the Golden Arches for a deluxe breakfast meal; I quickly gulped down my sickly sweet pancakes before tearing through the streets of west London, I was to meet Dion at the Record Company’s office. I wasn’t particularly looking forward to crafting Dion. I knew his type: hot‐ shot young hip‐hop star who assumes the sun rises and sets solely for his existence. I arrived 3 minutes early at 7: 42. I had a meeting scheduled with Dion’s manager at 7:45 to discuss the agenda for the fol‐ lowing month most of which included watching Dion record his new wave hip‐hop at the recording stu‐ dio in the Docklands and visiting various fashionable night‐clubs. I then waited for Dion to arrive. In true pop star fashion Dion arrived three hours late, at which point he refused to acknowledge my existence all morning, responding to my questions with short, apathetic answers. “So where did you get the idea for ‘Living Young’, your newest hit single?” “Yeah, turn that up, louder, yeah good, huh? Oh uh…cos’ I’m young init?” This continued for the rest of the day until 8:04pm at which point he turned to me and said, “Ait, later fam.” “Excuse me?” “I’ll see you tomorrow.” “Well I’m supposed to accompany you at all times so as to gain a full perspective on you.” I re‐ ceived no response; instead he simply walked out the office, his entourage following behind. I wasn’t sure whether or not to follow him, then decided that I would. It was my job after all.
The group of various P.As, managers, producers, and other nameless sheep following Dion to the end of the Earth mounted several vehicles. I spotted Dion getting into a slick grey Cadillac; I approached with caution not wanting to be dispelled. “Get in then,” Dion said as I stood awkwardly at the car door. I found myself strangely drawn to Dion, whether it was his character or manner I could not tell, however interested I was. “So, where’re we off to then?” I asked trying to strike up a conversation in an otherwise silent car. “Oy, turn that up will ya?” Dion asked the driver. One of Dion’s own tracks started to play; it was his newest single, “Living Young.” We soon arrived at Dion’s pad, overlooking the river Thames; he got out of the car and told me to wait. I complied not wanting to impose, 46 minutes later he got back in the car, a change of outfit and all. “Ait, Stringfella’s” he demanded casually as the car pulled out of the million pound drive. I had been to Stringfella’s before, it was a club frequented by such celebrities and it didn’t take us long to arrive. The time spent at Stringfella’s was pretty generic to all stars, talking, drinking etc. nothing particularly special and in a way almost depressing, the loud music, the bright lights, the fake faces put on by everyone in the club so as to look good in front of the constant attention from the press. We left the club at 2:16 at which point I decided to take my leave, “I think I’m going to hit the hay,” “Ait man, well just so you know,” at this point he was slurring his words, “ I appreciate you beee‐ ing here, justsss so you know, oh and remind me to show you ...neverrr mind...” With that I got into the nearest taxi and headed home, but not before stopping off at the local Chinese for some delicious Chow‐ Mein. The next few weeks passed in much the same fashion, although as time passed I found myself constantly thinking about Dion, my interest had become fascination. Something about Dion was not alto‐ gether normal but it was only into my fourth and final week that I became veritably obsessed. The day started out like any other: early morning Soho office start followed by a day in the re‐ cording studio followed by a trip to Dion’s riverside flat. However, as we pulled up to the residence Dion turned to me, saying, “Come inside, got something to show you.” I accepted quickly and followed him out of the car into the lobby. We stepped into the lift and travelled to the top floor which opened directly into Dion’s lavish penthouse suite. The apartment was decorated modestly but stylishly with white leather sofas and black and white portraits of various icons adorning the walls. “Wait here.” I complied, intrigued by the level of mystery. I didn’t have to wait long as within the minute Dion returned and took a seat on one of the pristine couches. In his hand he held a small black box, about the size of wedding ring box. “See this? This here ain’t no ordinary box init, take a guess at what it is,” “I have no idea‐“ “I’ll tell you; this here is my little box of inspiration, “Living Young?” One sniff of this box and it all came to me.” At this point I tried to judge whether this was all one big joke, but Dion looked me straight in the eyes, unwavering. “Um... I don’t know what to say...can I...can I look inside?” “Yeah no problem, but no sniffing...” With that he gave me a stern look and opened up the box. The next day I reflected upon the events of the night before. Of course the box had been empty ‐ what had I been expecting? But that’s not to say it wasn’t still real, it really could have given Dion inspira‐ tion. So many questions buzzed around my head like agitated bees in a jar two sizes too small. How had he got the box? When? Does it only give musical inspiration? My crafting of Dion was almost at its end, but how could I possibly write the account? I had seen a side to him that no‐one else had and for what reason? Why me? The last day of the crafting went by as if nothing had happened; Dion returned to usual rap star status and offered a casual good‐bye as I said my farewells. To this day I have not forgotten Dion, far from it; I’ve listened to every one of his tracks, bought every one of his albums and watched all his music videos. I quit my job at Crafters after that and pursued what I really wanted to do...play the saxophone. Laurence Opie, grade 10
Inventaire de l’année
Un Iphone Deux contactes Trois nouveaux amis Quatre rendez vous au ciné Cinq copains complètement déjantés Un dimanche raté Un jour d’été Deux journées à la plage Trois vagues pour surfer Quatre beignets trop vite avalés Cinq parasols qui se sont envolés Deux dimanches ratés Un lundi de rentrée Deux devoirs oubliés Trois professeurs énervés Quatre heures de colles imposées Cinq parents pas très contents Trois dimanches ratés Une journée au ski Deux gants dans la neige abandonnés Trois pistes fermées Quatre ruisseaux traversés Cinq « hors piste » à toute vitesse dévalés Quatre dimanches ratés Un mardi de printemps Deux rayons de soleil Trois magnifiques abricotiers en fleur Quatre apiculteurs Cinq petits pots de miel à déguster Un dimanche de gaité Arthur Le Mener, grade 9
Peya Brock, grade 11
Night at the Frontier (국경의 밤) March 20th, 1925 A Student’s Translation and Commentary 처녀(妻女)는 두렵고 시산하고 참다 못하여 문을 열고 하늘을 내다보았다. 하늘엔 불 켜 논 방안같이 환히 빍은데 가담가담 흑즙(黑汁) 같은 구름이 백이어 있다. "응, 깊고 맑은데‐‐"하고 멀리 산굽이를 쳐다 보았으나 아까 나갔던 남편의 모양은 다시 안 보였다. 바람이 또 한번 포효(咆哮)하며 지난다. 그 때 이웃집으로 기와짱이 떨어지는 소리 들리고 우물 가 버드나무 째지는 소리 요란히 난다‐‐. 처마 끝에 달아 맨 고추 다램이도 흩어지면서 그는 "에그 추워라!"하고 문을 얼른 닫았다. Not being able to take the fear and disorder The girl opens the door and looks at the sky. The sky is bright like a lit room, with clouds like black liquid. “Hmm, how deep and pure it is” she says and looks at the mountain bend. The silhouette of her husband, who went out earlier, cannot be seen. The wind goes roaring past again. Suddenly, there is the sound of a falling roof tile And the willow tree being torn apart. A bunch of peppers hung on the edge of roof is scattered. She exclaims “Oh, it’s cold!” and closes the door. The above is a stanza from the poem, “Night at the Frontier”, an epic comprised of three chapters and seventy two stanzas. This poem expresses the wife’s wistful waiting for her husband, who has gone out to smuggle salt across the frontier to China on a dark night. It is representative of the misfortune and suffering of the Korean people under Japanese impe‐ rialism. The cold dark night and the wife’s anxiety are metaphors for Korea’s lost sover‐ eignty. Sang‐Bo Park, grade 12
The Day Time Stopped We have no idea of the power our love possesses. We can never know what love can make us do. The love we like to believe will bring us happiness can even bring us pain. My mom always said that to me when I was little. I never really believed her. Until the day time stopped for me. I was 14 and my brother 2 years older. He had never ever let go of an opportunity to irritate me. I truly believed I wanted him to disappear. We fought through each day, even during school. Our teachers never knew what to do with us. In class, my brother was perfect. His work was always complete, his test results were marvellous, he never fought or argued, and even his uniform was always prim and proper. It was hard for them to accept his behaviour around me. But that’s how it was. He liked fighting with me, though he had never once set a hand on me. ‘He loves you!’ My mom would say, begging me to calm down. ‘Like hell he does!’ (I wasn’t the easiest child to raise). ‘He always tries to get me into trouble! Even when I’m minding my own business he picks on me. All he wants to do is fight with me.’ It was true. That’s how he was. ‘He hates me!’ Three words, that I still want to pull back and swallow, escaped me. Why was I so blind? Age? Maturity? Him, perhaps. Maybe, he never wanted me to see. Maybe, he preferred to stay cool or maybe, he just wanted me to enjoy my life without worrying about love and other deep things. Whatever the reason, I still regret my blindness. It was a November night. It was foggy, as it always was in November. I had my dance rehearsals and was coming back home with my brother. He usually took me home on his bike but the tires had punctured and he’d left his bike in the shop for repairs. I don’t know the reason for the puncture. I didn’t ask. I couldn’t care less about my stupid brother’s stupid bike! The fog was thick. It was really hard to see anything. And in the middle of that cold foggy night my brother found a reason to fight with me. I can’t even remember why we were fighting or what we were saying, as was the case with most of the fights we had. That was how pointless his arguments with me were. But I can remember one line I said. Just one. I was so angry, I said to him, ‘If you dare say another word about this, I swear I’ll push you under a truck!’ It was cruel, but I didn’t even real‐ ise what I had just dared to say. And he did nothing to make me realise, either. He just kept arguing and so did I. Soon, completely lost in trying to win the Snappiest Tongue Award against him, I had walked a foot away from my brother. A dangerous distance as I had a fair chance of getting run over by a car. He asked me to walk closer to him. I did not listen. Why should I? I walked further away. He was really worried, but I was simply too blind to see it. I stopped in the middle of the road. My eyes caught a small yellow glow at the further end of the road. My brother was still urging me to come back. He wasn’t angry, he was worried. His voice wavered with concern. I mistook it as my victory and stood there stuck to the ground. The glow became larger and the truck that was making it arrived without me even realising it. I thought my end had arrived when I saw the red front board with 2 big yellow lights on the side. I shut my eyes tightly. My brother jumped at me, pushing me away to the side. I felt my body hit the ground but I refused to open my eyes. There was a nervous rattling sound of the street. Some mur‐ muring, a couple of horns. Something was wrong. I didn’t want to open my eyes. I thought that if I couldn’t see it, then danger couldn’t see me either. But it could. It was sitting there like a leopard, ready to attack, looking straight at my body, trembling on the roadside. When I finally dared to open my eyes, time stopped. I couldn’t hear or feel a thing. I could only see red. My brother’s blood, all over the place, with him in the centre. Nothing moved except my brother’s pure blood that kept flowing on the impure ground. I sat there frozen, while my world went crumbling down. I did not cry. I did not move a muscle. The horror had completely overwhelmed me. He was gone.
Days passed by either like wind or like a snail. Time became chaotic, as if it had lost its senses. Time had separated itself from life. Sometimes, it would be so hard to not cry and other times, so hard to cry. Nevertheless, the memory of the red never left me. I stopped speaking to people. It was hard. They asked me questions about my brother and I couldn’t answer. Hearing people talk about their families and how their siblings were such a pain to them, my heart would ache. I stopped listening. I roamed around the school and my house like a ghost. No one ever noticed me, and I never noticed anyone. There were days when I’d be so miserable, I’d wish everything to be just a dream, a horrible, horri‐ ble, dream. I would pinch myself hard, and when that wouldn’t wake me up, I’d pinch myself harder, hurt myself any way humanly possible. This is the first time I’ve put my feelings into words. Though, these aren’t exactly feelings, just facts about how I reacted to what happened that night. There’s a big difference between wanting some‐ one to disappear and watching that person disappear, especially when you know it should have been you. It’s not easy to describe how one feels when someone you love dearly is lost, it’s harder, when someone who loved you dearly is lost. All I can say, truly, without exaggeration or understatement, is that that night, I died. My mother doesn’t beg me to calm down anymore saying, ‘He loves you!’ But her words keep ring‐ ing in my ears. Only now her gentle voice says, ‘He loved you.’ Sambhavi Priyadarshini, grade 10
Kaori Nishiyama, grade 11
L’éducation à la française
Il est huit heures trente, je m'éveille en sursaut. Le prof annonce : « Je vais ren‐ dre les copies ». MINCE. Quelles copies? Nous sommes en cours de français. « Psst, eh, machin! Quelles copies? » « La rédaction. » La rédaction? Ah oui, c'était deux semaines auparavant. Le sujet était : Racontez un moment terrible de votre vie. C’est durant de tels instants qu’on se rend compte à quel point les profs aiment savoir les drames ca‐ chés de leurs élèves. Ils cherchent à tout pris à les imaginer dans leur vie courante et à les pseudo‐psychanalyser. Comme si cela les rendait plus puissant. Car les élèves ne bernent personne, ni même les profs. Une fois les grilles de l’é‐ cole franchies ils se débarrassent de leur réelle personnalité. Ils portent alors une éti‐ quette bien préfabriquée. Cette étiquette est collée par deux types de personnes: les élèves, et les profs. Ainsi on retrouve les bons élèves, les têtes de classe, qui selon leurs camarades man‐ quent de vie sociale, donc d’intelligence humaine. Attention. Les profs, en revanche, voient ces élèves comme des personnes ayant un bel avenir car ils se fichent des mo‐ queries et savent prioriser. Quand on demande à ces individus leurs ambitions, beau‐ coup répondent « classe préparatoire ». Il y a aussi les sales gosses (vus par les profs) ou bons camarades et déconneurs (vus par les élèves). C’est ceux qui font rire la classe, mais pas le prof. Les abonnés du bureau de la CPE et des heures de colles. Ces élèves aussi ne manquent pas non plus d’ambitions. Mais peu d’entre eux réussissent néan‐ moins à l’entreprendre. Enfin, il y a les élèves comme moi. Mon étiquette change tous les ans, car à mon âge, impossible de rester la même une année sur l’autre. Je suis moyenne en cours, mais en même temps je n’ai jamais vraiment travaillé. Je me repose plutôt sur mes acquis. Donc cette rédaction? Si je me souviens bien, j'ai raconté une noyade: beaucoup d'exagérations, un long développement, et il me semble même avoir conclu par « c'était avant le divorce de mes parents... ». Les trois points de suspension laissant sous entendre un énorme drame intérieur afin de me mettre dans un rôle de victime et à ajouter ce côté lugubre si apprécié par les correcteurs qui au moment où ils lisent ces copies pensent avoir découvert une facette dissimulée de notre personne. Nous reve‐ nons alors à leur plaisir de se sentir psychanalyste, eux qui croient qu'une immense honnêteté transparaît dans notre copie. Ce divorce est pourtant, bien sûr, inventé de toutes pièces. Ce prof, si ma technique aboutie, pensera pendant le reste de l’année avoir découvert que je suis « la fille qui a un air indifférent et rit en classe pour échap‐ per à ses démons et pour ne pas laisser transparaître l'immense douleur intérieure qu'elle contient ». C'est parti. Il rend les copies. Bien sûr, se sentant obligé de rajouter des com‐ mentaires à tout va: « 4/20, c'est ridicule », ou encore « 0/20, la prochaine fois que tu utilises internet pour tricher essaie de ne pas utiliser le site le plus visité », « 12/20...
C’est original d'avoir décrit comme moment terrible le moment où vous avez découvert que j'étais votre professeur cette année! ». Mince. J'aurais dû y penser... Il s'approche de moi et mon cœur commence à se resserrer. Pourquoi? Je ne sais pas, pourtant ce n'est pas comme si ma note m'importait vraiment. « Mademoiselle Moritz, c'est pas mal. Cependant je ne comprends pas bien. Vous êtes en train de raconter une noyade, or vous dites que vous êtes piétinée par des baigneurs paniqués. Étiez‐vous en train de vous noyer dans 20 cm d'eau? » Evidemment, la classe est hilare. Moi, je suis rouge. « De plus, reprend le prof, je ne vois pas très bien le rap‐ port avec le divorce de vos parents qui d'après vos fichiers sont toujours mariés. » Clas‐ se hilare à nouveau. Et moi, rouge…à nouveau. Après m'avoir humilié, il me rend enfin ma copie. Ah, 10/20, ce n'est pas si mal… Le début de l'année est un moment très intéressant. Les élèves, même les plus haineux envers l'école ont une certaine hâte de retourner en cours. De voir leurs nou‐ veaux profs. De découvrir leurs failles et leurs défauts pour les tourner au ridicule de‐ vant une classe admirative. Mais surtout de retrouver leurs amis. A cet époque là de l'année, tout le monde est plein de bonnes résolutions: les bordéliques décident d'être organisés, les cancres décident de travailler. A peine un mois plus tard, les choses sont redevenues à leur normale. Mais c'est un moment très enivrant... Recommencer à zéro. Des profs qui ne vous connaissent pas (bien qu'ils aient souvent déjà eu des échos et donc des aprioris), une classe nouvelle… De la nouveauté ! Mais malheureusement tout cela ne reste pas frais bien longtemps, et l’on se retrouve vite dans la routine. Quelques milliers d'heures plus tard la sonnerie retentit. Je suis la première sor‐ tie, et me dépêche de descendre les escaliers. Dix minutes de temps libre: juste le temps de fumer une cigarette car soyons logique, en dix minutes que peut‐on faire d'autre? A peine le temps de retrouver ses amis et de commencer une bribe de conver‐ sation qu'il est déjà temps de remonter les trois étages, essoufflé. Et c'est reparti pour une longue série de hontes, de notes, de contrôles, de sommeils à rattraper��� Si seulement les cours pouvaient être amusants. Mais les enjeux sont de plus en plus importants et on nous le fait ressentir. Cependant il survient souvent des inci‐ dents inattendus et donc amusants en cours. Et je dis bien en cours car si ce genre d’in‐ cidents arrivait dans n’importe quel autre endroit ils n’auraient aucun intérêt. Un porta‐ ble sonne en classe par exemple ; en fonction de la sonnerie, la classe est pliée en deux. Replaçons cet événement dans un autre contexte à présent. Je suis dans la rue, mon portable sonne et j’ai beau avoir la sonnerie la plus drôle… Droite ? Gauche ? Personne n’est amusé… Voilà ce à quoi nous avons le droit pour avancer. Ce contexte est celui que l’éducation nous offre pour construire notre futur. La lassitude nous entoure et avec cela nous som‐ mes supposé être de jeunes enthousiastes ? May Ziadé, grade 11
After 56 days. Of non stop depression, Endless obsession, And therapy lessons. I finally hear It. What I've been wanting to hear All this time. That Deep Voice We all love. That deep voice saying "I'm alright." It fills me with Joy, Knowing I've spent 2 euros Per minute. On that One call. The call that made my day. After 56 days. I finally am happy. Atikah Zainidi, grade 7
Pena Brock grade 11
Proposition 1D ‘I don’t want to set the world on fire’. As I sit here, in a 33rd floor 5 – star hotel suite on a clear, scarlet New York evening , with ‘The Ink Spots’ records playing in the background, I space out. ‘I’ve lost all ambition of worldy acclaim’. How rightly said; isn’t it strange how a century ‐old song can extract your emotions and place them on a 12 inch vinyl record? ‘I just want to be the one you’d loved’. Don’t know about that, haven’t really loved someone, I have loved something however: poli‐ tics. Ever since I was young I learned how to deal with conflict, whether dealing with my alcoholic father showing a piece of his mind to my mother or dealing with my sister’s cheating fiancé. Engi‐ neering and doctorates did not mean anything to me; I looked for something more real, more em‐ powering. Therefore the exemplary 100% scholarship to Harvard University’s undergraduate study program for political sciences was inevitable. 20 years on, I have learned that the real world is very different to an examination paper; the time limit is longer, but the questions are impossible, be‐ cause you see in an exam paper your past results accumulate your overall performance, but in real life, one failure will attach itself on to you like a symbiote, a burden till the day you die. In my case the word failure is plural. You see I’ve been running for State Senator California for about four years now. All 4 times I never even made it to finals, always bested by a different opponent each year. However, I did manage to become a assistant to the Senator. The reason I am here in New York to‐ night is because I’m representing Proposition 1D in the state elections of 2009 tomorrow, in the absence of my boss Paul Helsinki, who’s off to the Samoa Islands funding a Technology Research Center there. I don’t really know much about Prop 1D, my job at the office consisted of veto‐ing bills that my boss was too lazy to stamp. You see, after settling for an assistant’s job, the sole thing that holds you together, your passion; it starts to become indifferent to your mind, which is why the decision I have made is necessary to short‐live any forth‐coming disappointments in my life. Like a man of action, I arise from the soft leather couch and I walk towards the open skyline, I drag open the window and I peer outside into the bright New York lights. I smell the mildew scent of a yoshino cherry tree flower, and It flutters right before my eyes before emanating into the darkness. A Nike billboard situated along the right side of the opposite avenue flares and imprints a lasting judgment in my mind; ‘Just do it’. ‘I’ll have reached the goal I’m dreaming of, Believe me’. The re‐ cord ends with a final spit of static. My queue’s up, I think to myself. I climb gingerly onto the con‐ crete ledge. At that same moment, the hotel phone starts ringing. I choose to ignore it; I choose to remain focused on the task at hand… the final task. After a minute or so of not answering, the phone recites a message; it’s my boss calling from Samoa. ‘Listen, it seems that the general public is not in favour of the budget tax refund, so our vote is futile, Prop 1D will fail’. The part in me that is still in contact with politics dies at the thought of Prop 1D, I knew it was going to fail. Using tobacco tax revenues to be put into child services and cutting off the big 5 governmental organizations was definitely going to be a failure. With that last splutter of indignant rebuttal, I shut myself off, and I jump. I fell, the sheer force of gravity pulling me down so forcefully, edging away at my windpipe, ‘not much longer’ I thought to myself. Contrary to popular belief, my life did not flash before my eyes all I thought about was the devastated look that would embrace my divorced parents faces when they would hear about my death. Then I thought about the stars, the sky in general as it was the only thing I could see, that and flashing New York lights, stubborn through the night. My eyes teared up; how many times do you get to fall of a 33rd floor skyline? I thought about myself as a fallen god, tumbling down Mount Olympus, exiled from existence, banished forever. Looks like 10 more floors to go, the 10 seconds felt like hours until I finally crashed onto the roof a nearby car, setting off the alarm. The last thing I remember hearing was the blood trickling down my forehead; or at least what was left off it , I thought.
‘Pulse is 45, Respiration 10, he looks good’. I hear before I see. The sounds of the nurse’s heels, the creaking of the bed as the doctor allows me to sit. Then I see, perfectly. Vision and sound are an incredible gift, but only when you expect them. Thinking I was dead, I was not particularly happy for these unexpected blessings. I find myself in a typical hospital, not much to note about anything I’m afraid. ‘Hey, are you feeling ok?’ I nod feebly. ‘You seem like a smart guy, judging by the Giorgio Armani suit you were wearing’. I manage to laugh a bit; it hurts my ribs though. ‘We had to put you in a chemically induced coma, to ensure that your brain didn’t suffer an aneurism’. I nod, seems like it’s the only thing I can do. ‘I have good news; you can be discharged today, provided if you want to? You can still stay and re‐ cover more’. I manage to speak; ‘I’ll leave, can you arrange a t‐t‐t‐axi for me?’ Odd, I never stuttered before. ‘Of course!’ ‘ Oh, can I have my clothes too?’ ‘Yeah, sure except... well we didn’t get a chance to clean them’. ‘It’s alright, I can handle it.’ He nods then mutters to the nurse. A few minutes later, she arrives with my suit, only it’s not a suit; it’s a mixture of blood sautéed on to designer fabric. Chic, I think to my‐ self. A full scan report of my injuries arrives, and I’m shocked with the lack of gore involved. Asides from a concussion and 17 minor broken bones I was fine. No internal bleeding, no paralysis, no worry. A miracle the doctor called it…. Guess I should’ve tried one of the Petronas towers. One week, I was nearly dead, the other I felt peachy. Before I leave, the doctor hurriedly rushes over and hands me a bottle of anti‐depressants. ‘Listen, death is never the way out’. How many have never heard that one before? As gracefully as I can I accept is offering and make a fake promise to get back up on my feet. Later that day, I’m in Park Central, New York’s finest nature reserve with over 26,000 different spe‐ cies of trees. Yet, out of all the possible trees I happened to be located near of a clump of Yoshino cherry trees. The people of New York are strange; they can best be described as a herd of sheep. Each one of them has a shepherd, usually a corporate fat‐cat in charge of a multi‐national corpora‐ tion. Since my ‘accident’ I had been fired from my job; you have to understand, not showing up for work for 3 weeks has detrimental effects on job security. How did I know I was fired? Standard pro‐ tocol. It felt good not be a part of the herd, to be an innocent bystander, a real emblem of passivity. Everyday you hear about tragic concurrences all over the world; conflict in Congo, conflict in Chech‐ nya, Karachi, Baghdad, Peshawar, Mumbai, and Nairobi and so on. Where one human life ends an‐ other 50 embrace existence in this over‐populated world. Also everyday you hear about out‐ standing stories about individuals who take it upon themselves to change the world. One would think of these stories as inspirational, a real treat to the heart and soul. Not me though, no deed is selfless, there is always an ulterior motive. You may choose to regard upon the individual with re‐ spect, or you could applaud his/her struggles for the sole sake of applauding. Your call. As I begin to dose off, I wonder to myself: ‘What is the point in life?’ As I wait for an epiphany of an answer to stike my senses clear I notice in the distance, a single blossoming yoshino cherry tree flower, fluttering in the air, as it had done before my suicide attempt. It flutters aimlessly, coasting through the endless wave of people, a real aimless wanderer. Maybe that’s it, maybe humans were supposed wander aimlessly amongst a crowd of many, not to be recognized, just another flower. Areeb Butt, grade 10
Two Blossoms Under The Cherry Tree Under the cherry tree You wait for me. As the petals fall A‐top your shoulder, Your love for me gets colder and older. The sky turns black And your hopes fall, Your patience with me is all dried up And you have no more love for me At all. You know I will never come. You know I am not the one. I know I shall come too late. I know it is me you hate. I know this is my fate. You no longer wait For me Under the cherry tree.
I will wait for you Under the cherry tree As the petals fall A‐top of me, I will think of you And your beautiful smile. For the chance of seeing it, I’d walk a thousand miles. If it rains Or shines Even as the days Pass by, I will wait for you Under the cherry tree.
Self-Portrait, Eri Sasaki, grade 12
Jaye Michelle Harris, grade 9
A Day In The Life Of A Merchant’s Apprentice This morning I woke up to unfamiliar surroundings. I was in an inn, lying on the hard wooden floor. This I was used to. My new master, Fendrel, was snoring loudly under the coarse covers of the only bed in the room. Trying not to wake him, I slipped out of the inn‐house and went to examine the contents of our wagon. I gasped in delight as I saw the wonders of our wares. Resting in the back of the wagon were silks, gemstones, glazed pottery and all sorts of oriental amazements. Fendrel was obvi‐ ously rich. I wondered if he was going to charge a high price for his merchandise, and whether anyone would be able to afford it. I must have fallen asleep outside, because I awoke to Fendrel rushing towards me, his brightly coloured surcoat flapping in the wind. I was still wearing my rough farmer’s clothes, still a little big for me, as I was not as big as my brothers yet. Soon we were settled and on our way to the town of Godwick. Today was market day. As we did not have much time to prepare our stall, Fendrel whipped the horses until they bled to make them pick up speed. I already disliked him. I had never been to a market before. I was told that markets were loud, smelly and crowded, but nothing could prepare me for the burst of colourful noises that met my eyes to‐ day. Men yelling, pigs squealing, woman bargaining. I fell in love with the marketplace at once. I could have spent hours gazing at the scene before me, but, alas, Fendrel needed my help. Together we set up our stall, and Fendrel fanned out his merchandise. His breath smelt of beer. A few onlookers came to view our wares, but no one had the money or need for choice cloths or polished pebbles. Fendrel left me to tend to the stalls whilst he left to find food. It seemed to me that he was too fat to possibly need more food, but I was careful to hold my tongue. Whilst Fendrel was gone I waited patiently. To my utmost surprise, a young girl came up to me and began to barter for an interestingly carved wooden ladle. In the end I offered it to her for fifteen silver pennies, and she took it and smiled at me warmly. I resisted the urge to smile back, and stood waiting for Fendrel to return. When he eventually arrived, he tossed me a stale piece of bread. I devoured it hungrily, even though I nearly broke my teeth on the crust. When I had finished, I told him in earnest of my first sale. In return I received a cuff around the ear. “ You sold her a ladle for only fifteen silver pieces? You imbecile! That would have fetched the price of thirty!” The enraged merchant shouted at me. I stared up at him, con‐ fused. I thought I had done him a favour, selling something for him. But the look on Fendrel’s face told me I had done anything but. I spent the rest of a day in a daze. I hated the way that Fendrel shouted at me. In fact, I hated everything about him. So I decided that he would now be known to me as the Furnace. After all, he often got as angry as a furnace. That evening we stopped for the night at a nearby inn. The money the girl had given us meant that we could easily afford a comfortable room and warm meal inside, but even so I was told to sleep outside without dinner. I was beginning to like my new apprenticeship less and less, and so I vowed that I would one day get my revenge on the Furnace. And I very well did, although it was a good amount of time later. But that, my friend, is another story… Sophie Stretch, grade 6
Vers mercurien Je coule Je me moule – Une forme floue qui change perpétuellement Je suis étrangement sereine, En un état de transformation continue Je glisse Je tombe – Le long d’une note de musique Je suis de longues gouttes d’argent, Les larmes d’un archange métallique Un lac scintillant à mes pieds, Des perles de vif‐argent s’unissant, Un miroir éloquent rempli d’ombres dansantes. J’y vois le monde. C’est les sanglots d’un père, La bénédiction d’une nonne. Une membrane impeccable autour de moi, Une robe argentée disparue, L’élément volatile me dénude. Je suis dévoilée, Au centre d’une couche de reflets irréprochables, Enfants de la vie, cette poétesse éternelle. Dressée, une statue au centre de la réalité utopique. Nue, j’attire le regard incandescent de l’Autorité, Avec un grand A, Tyran qui veut acquérir le monopole de l’espoir. Un pouvoir, mais contre celui‐ci la Vie Infiniment sage m’a offerte un thermomètre existentiel Pour analyser la joie. La dominatrice recule, il sera plus difficile maintenant de me contrôler, car Je suis le mercure. Aliénor Lemieux‐Cumberlege, grade 12
Work Has anyone noticed that the efficiency in completing one’s homework decreases the more de‐ termined one is to complete it? It’s as though determination generates a black hole of overcon‐ fidence that quickly turns to apathy under pressure. This strange phenomenon is known as pro‐ crastination, although I feel that this fairly clinical word is inadequate to describe the devastat‐ ing desire to do everything that is not what I resolved to do. The first trap to fall into is that of self‐assurance: “What, I have an essay to write for next week? Well, I’ll do it today, then, and get it over with.” BZZT! Wrong move. Immediately I set myself up for failure. Plunging headfirst into a space of arrogant certitude, I fail to realise that writing essays is boring. As the school day ends, I decide that I don’t really need to write an essay tonight. Besides, I have more important things to do, like tidying my room, organising my CDs, browsing the internet, eating things indiscriminately, painting the wall, building a new desk, cooking a fajita or reading that somewhat iffy book that’s been sitting on the shelf dusty and unread for three months. Moreover, even if I strap myself down at the computer, ready to work, how can you remove that great elephant in the room, the internet? All other things are more important than an es‐ say, in that case! I must check my emails, my Facebook, my Youtube, my subscriptions, my up‐ dates, my debates, my comments, my messages, the news, the forum, the blogs, the image boards, the online shops. Suddenly the idea of simply sitting down and working is also a chore. The second trap that must be avoided at all costs is subtler; it is the trap of excessive worry. Of course, here you are asking the stupid, obvious question: “But surely if you failed to keep your vow to yourself, you should concentrate on getting it done and stop pushing it back?” Paradoxi‐ cally, the situation is quite the opposite. The more effort I put into worrying about it, the less of it I actually do. Let me explain how this works; for the next few days until the night before the due date, I sud‐ denly began to see the essay as some ultimate and unachievable goal; indeed, it now resides in that fantasy space reserved for the unattainable ideas of attainable substance. To clarify, this is the same place reserved for the perfect novel, the utopian society and the most beautiful woman conceivable. You see now how worrying leads to nothing but continued procrastina‐ tion. How can you write an essay that is no longer an essay to you but the idea of an essay? Thus, I find myself in a struggle to write something that in my blind eyes is horribly misguided and far away from my noble ideal of the essay. In other words, I barely write a damned word. Finally, I find myself on the night before the due date with either no essay or an inadequate half ‐essay. Now, we return again to the first stage in which everything else becomes far more im‐ portant than schoolwork, except the difference is that this schoolwork does not appear insig‐ nificant, but impossible. In desperation, I fart out 1200 words in one night, become consumed by an intense dissatisfaction and go to sleep at 3:00 AM. What exactly is the lesson we can learn from this? Firstly, we must never concentrate on things that are actually important and instead focus all energy into leisure and pleasure, so that when we sit down to work, our expectations are that we will be bored by it and are only doing it to fit such‐and‐such criteria. It does no good to sit in our lofty towers and make noble resolutions about when and how we will work. Secondly, that worrying about work forces us to make a stu‐ pid distinction between the task at hand and the ultimate and ideal god‐form of the task at hand. Thirdly, that working at 3:00 AM in the morning is exceptionally stupid and kills brain cells, and fourthly, that comparing essays to beautiful women is also exceptionally stupid. Dylan Mansfield, grade 10
Your way home
A thousand little stars
spelling out your name I can picture the airport, And the very bad cafeteria they have. I miss the way you talked I can picture the airplane, And the way you annoyed me That really got you far. I miss the way you thought When it will And the way you always got me to agree Land, I miss the way you played on your phone The wheels finally And the way you hid it in front of teacher Touching Thinking you were subtle. The ground, Everyone will applaud Every day I go by all these places Meaning “Thank you.” From the Louvre To Egypt. I can picture the They remind me of you, Rude A thousand Taxi driver Little That will only be doing his job Stars When he will wish you a happy day. Spelling out your name But you are really so And I can’t stand it. Grateful Not because he put the music too loud But now, we will be together Not because you really liked the way he shouted Soon. No because he beeped until you couldn’t stand it The countdown has started But because And I He Finally Brought Let my self look at the stars. You to Me. Assia Turquier‐Zauberman, grade 7
Felix Singleton-Thorn grade 11
Red Lips Lost and found; little lady. Crimson lips, stain lads that pleasure me‐ Such lips, so full like a rosebud beauty That a naked petal cannot share. But I don't believe in such a thing‐ My soul is in division from itself; heroically lost, With lips of red that flush even cheeks of the dead. It takes a lot of love, but I can't do it, I can't keep it going on; Listen to my sad songs‐ Why; what a wonderful demise, To despise such thing. Blood lips that never taste but a thing But a drag from a cigarette, and the sad songs I sing.
Anna Morrison, grade 11
Can’t one pull you down for ever?
We are so alone for ever, and I laugh.
A muscle strained at the kneecaps of your daughters
or the body believes they are gods;
Gods that tremble in the black heavens.
Why so high?
Climbing the skies that refuse our messengers and pilots,
Imagination cannot reckon it.
Yet the eyes of a broken child can consume it.
Gaze into nothingness, fathom unfathomable happiness,
The longing for truth lies burnt, broken, bruised.
Craters in your mind that confine you to knowing,
Just look up.
Anna Morrison, grade 11
La jeune fille en fleur Elle chantait, le Brésil Elle aimait, encore et encore. Finalement elle s'arrêtait, son souffle coupé. La fille parlait de ses amants trop vite partis, De leurs prouesses au lit, Et la musique reprit. La guitare, sèche, hurlait une bossa nova sans fin, Les rythmes s'entremêlent, Faites en sorte d'embrasser la bohème. Alors danse, danse, danse Ris aux nez de l'ennemi Et pense à elle, la petite brune du coin, Son espoir a la main. Ninon Dessauce, grade 11
Eve’s Perfect Garden
Each hiss was a step closer to the
The ravaging thirst of curiosity engulfed,
Taunting desire leaving me empty.
My teeth sank into the succulence of summered flesh,
Nectar imbued sensation of desperation quenched.
I now studied its scarred crimson skin,
That could never be undone.
Discord sounded in every direction,
The melodious harmony broken by a dissonant act.
This was once a perfect garden
Of misconstrued defiance; it still is.
Ayushi Gupta, grade 10
My Island Of what I remember, this is most of it. It’s about length of a minibus, or maybe even shorter, but in actuality it’s more the shape of a surfboard. Fat around the middle but tapering to two rounded stubs at each end. But if that description means to suggest that my island was any kind of symmetrical, then I should probably put a disclaimer on that. My island isn’t like a surfboard, or a minibus. It’s a charming little dollop of sand a mile or so off the beach, that intrigued me as soon as seeing it. I was only eight then and though my island and I only met once formally, the details are sharp as needles to me. I recall the foaming salt‐ water that brushed up against its miniature coastline and the little collapsing cliffs of sand that were built up, weakened then disintegrated by the surf. I recall the passive aggressive way the little tongues of water rushed over its shores, taking something away from it every time. And I recall the dry fist‐sized corpses of cuttlefish that littered the earth of my island, and how they grew salty and bone‐white like polystyrene packaging in the sun. But these are details too specific, and therefore best kept for myself. So in their place I offer the simple shorthand of a small sandy island off the coast of a resort in Kota Kinabalu, long as a minibus and the shape of a surfboard. The funny thing is that I have in my mind an even more accurate telling, and not so long‐winded as a poetic description of frothing whirlpools or cuttlefish graveyards. This is because I know that my island is not the length of a minibus, but rather the length of two of the little kayaks my father and I used to visit the island that shiny day so many years ago. I know because I checked. However how am I to know if everyone knows how long that is? Do they even make those kay‐ aks anymore? Is ‘as long as two of those little red kayaks with the salt‐strewn rope handles alongside the chassis and a perpetual puddle of briny water in the base’ a universal simile? These kinds of assumptions are pitfalls I am keen to avoid in putting my own memory to paper. Happily this is something I have learnt to live with and as I have gotten older I’ve come to real‐ ize that memory is, more than anything, a game of give and take. So with some relative economy, we have established the ‘what’: a sandy island, the length of a minibus, the shape of a surfboard. The ‘who’ are myself, and my parents, but all of us, at the time of this story, are forty years younger. My father is a springy sort of man, with a curly tussle of hair he keeps pinned under a wide‐brimmed hat, to protect him from the sun. He enjoys every minute he spends outside and takes long walks throughout the day. He smiles and agrees when I finally pluck up the courage to ask if we could take kayaks out to my island, which I point out to him with my chubby finger. My mother is the sensible authority however, and less enam‐ oured with my sea‐bound plan. She has a look that says ‘No’ without her lips moving and she sits down next to the pool to breeze through another book with cream‐coloured pages. And myself? I am just eight, round in the middle, and I come in two colours: pasty white for when my mother has forced that odorous sun screen onto my reluctant skin, and lobster red for when I have managed to avoid her. The ‘when’ and ‘where’ dovetail quite nicely. It is a summer just over forty years ago and, probably not coincidently, situated temporally smack‐bang in the middle of my childhood. It is three weeks in the middle of summer that my father has taken off from work for a holiday in (here comes the ‘where’) a beachside resort in Kota Kinabalu. The sky is an eternal cheery azure and every little footpath is lined with towering palms. The beaches are wide and inviting and a
little way out into ocean, the little golden surfboard that is my island winks merrily in the bright sun. And now I come to the ‘why’ which is, in fact, the most simple to explain. The reason I am so keen to talk about this, the reason why today of all days my island is so pervasive in my thoughts is that at this moment I, many years older but still round in the middle, am standing on the beach looking out to where my island once sat. And it’s not there. I realize now that I’ve neglected to mention something important about my island. It is able to disappear. This description however implies a kind of wonder that is sadly misleading. Simply, my island was not in fact an island but rather a little peak of accumulated sand that had mus‐ tered the courage to poke its head tentatively from the water. When the tide came in, my is‐ land would simply disappear under the rising surf. This is how my father explained it to me when I came running to him, horror‐stricken that the land I had been planning to conquer all afternoon had suddenly dropped off the earth. I remember his words clearly and the way he shook the sand from his trainers as he spoke, lifting the fabric tongue to let the last dregs shimmy out. This last detail may or may not be correct, because I cannot honestly remember what he was doing at that moment. But it makes his words feel more real if I can picture him doing something else at the same time, like shaking out his shoes or cleaning his glasses. In this way, I find that the more I add to a memory, the more I am able to take out of it. That may sound odd but that’s give and take, and that’s storytelling. Anyway, the disappearing island was something that captivated me and I would look forward to its arrival like the chiming of a cuckoo clock. In the morning I would get up and it would be there in the distance, as if swimming in place; waiting for me. And then I would look back in the evening and like a miracle, my island would be gone, with no trace of it ever having been there in the first place. I never had any kind of pet as a child and I have a theory that the three weeks spent watching my beloved island perish and then be resurrected everyday imbedded in me some confused notions about the nature of life and death. Either way, my father woke me one morning, telling me to keep my voice down. Walking through the silent halls of the resort, I be‐ came aware of how very early indeed it must be. We took our rented kayaks and pulled them down to the edge of the sea, fixing my swim suited‐backside in the soggy plastic seat. It took under an hour to reach my island and as my first foot found purchase on its sand, I was over‐ whelmed by a feeling of triumphant release. We pulled our kayaks up into the middle of it and I explored my tiny dominion. Its miniature coastlines and collapsing cliffs. The way the sneaking forks of water licked across its surface. The cuttlefish graveyard. Eventually we pulled our kay‐ aks back down into the water and paddled our way back to terra firma and my mother. Later on when I saw that my island had once again disappeared, it gave me an exhilarating feeling to think that, if I had stood there long enough, I too would have been swallowed up the twinkling surf. And so back to now. It is morning, Mid July, on a beach in a Kota Kinabalu and I can see myself and my father pulling up to the shore in our little red kayaks, faces red from exertion and the brightening sun. My island is conspicuously absent though. It seems like it is gone for good. I know because I have checked. the past three days I have snuck out in the early hours of the morning, leaving my wife, my children and their children placid and asleep in their hotel rooms. I come out here and stand by the ocean, as if waiting for my island to appear. It doesn’t. I choose not to speculate on what may have happened to it, because I’m too old to be hanging onto things in such a way. For this reason, it doesn’t feel sad to think that one day the sea took
my island and then decided to never give it back. I just feel fortunate to have been able to come back here one more time. When my son asked me a few months ago why I was so set on coming back here, for a moment I considered telling him this story. But I didn’t, and I suppose that’s what I’m making up for now. It doesn’t upset me that my island is gone, but it does to end on such a note. I would have liked to have said that the morning before we were to leave, I woke up at the crack of dawn, marched through the silent halls of the resort of my childhood and pulled an old kayak out into the sea. I would have liked to have been able to tell my son that I paddled far, far out into the ocean until I was at the spot I knew my island once inhabited. And to tell him that I circled for hours and hours in this same little square of blue, looking for any sign of my old friend coming up to meet me. But I didn’t do that. I didn’t do anything in fact, I just stood there looking. And the only reason I say all of this is that I wish there was more to say because, when push comes to shove, there isn’t much poetic about an old man looking at a blank spot in the ocean. But then again, maybe I’m wrong. Jamie Fraser, grade 11
Mihoko Terada, Landscape, grade 12
Imaginary Dylan Hartigan is a small, scrawny boy with thin, fluffy yellow hair that feels sticky and weightless just like candyfloss. I’ve been his best friend since we were little, and I guess I’m his only friend. Dylan’s in 7th grade, and he’s never fitted in because people just don’t give him a chance. They see a puny, defenseless looking boy wearing a brown cardigan and im‐ mediately brandish him social outcast. They know that if they’re having a bad day, he’s the one to take it out on, whether it’s with a pathetic little kick, or something written on Face‐ book, or a nasty look. But really, he’s a smart, interesting guy with a sense of humour, when he’s feeling confident enough to use it. And he does have a great imagination.
Dylan’s dad died in a construction accident, and his mum is an exhausted looking,
worrisome woman that doesn’t know, or just doesn’t want to know, about all the bullying. So really, it’s only to me that Dylan talks about Shredder’s gang and him. Shredder is a hulk‐ ing, clumsy giant with a protruding chin and bristly black hair. His knotted mono‐brow, as thick as Dylan’s arm, is bejeweled with two metal piercings. His real name is Phillip Terrier, but everyone calls him Shredder; the origin of this nickname is unknown, but it’s probably just some narcissistic term intended to strike fear into all the kids and teachers alike. Most kids in Rosewood High School just ignore Dylan, except for Shredder and his two nasty side‐ kicks, Wormy and Buzz, who just won’t leave him alone. They occupy their day with a pre‐ cise timeline: Meet “the runt” when he enters the school gate and torment him. Pass him in the hallways, and knock whatever he is holding onto the ground. Lunchtime, harass him about his lunch (two boiled eggs and a cheese straw every day). After school, bump into Dylan around the corner of the school by the 7/11 and torment him further about his cardi‐ gan and call him “vertically challenged,” a term Shredder uses now after he got in trouble for calling the little kids midgets. He usually just keeps walking, until last Friday.
Dylan is one of those guys that nothing seems to work for, and any attempt to be
“one of the group” ends up in more humiliation. Like when Dylan thought getting Facebook might help, and this boy called Rhys wrote FAGGOT on his wall and Dylan’s mum saw. She wrote as a comment: ‘Hello, Rhys‐ this is Dylan’s mother. Could you please apologize for what you said because it is hurtful.’ As you can imagine that didn’t go down too well at school and Rhys has had it in for Dylan ever since. Well last Friday was a bit like the Facebook incident. Dylan decided to try and get this 10th grader called Sid, who would do anything for a couple of dollars, to walk home with him and give Shredder a scare, maybe get him off his back for good.
He told me he was sure his spiked Mohawk, enormous Doc Martins boots and gruesome zombie dolphin tattoo would do the trick
At lunch Dylan went behind the janitor shed to where Sid sat smoking with his cro‐
nies, and gave him a crumpled, five‐dollar note, damp from nervous sweat, if he could walk home with him and menace Shredder a bit. Sid was the only person at school who Shredder was afraid of, except for Mr. Sherrington, the ex‐Thai boxer Science teacher.
So, surprisingly, Sid left the rusty school gates with Dylan, and as they rounded the 7/11, there sat Shredder, Buzz and Wormy.
“Oh ho! Look who’s found a friend? Look out, Dylan my man; he’s not your friend. No
one is. You’re a loser for life. So how much did he pay you, Squiddy?” sneered Shredder.
Dylan shrunk behind Sid, whimpering for him to do something. Instead, he just mut‐
tered, “Stop being so pathetic! Fight your own battles.” Sid turned and strolled away.
“But my money!” squealed Dylan, backing away from the snickering predators.
“Looks like you’re on your own, mate!” said Wormy gleefully, trying to hide the relief
that they didn’t have to deal with Sid.
The bullies pulled a couple branches from a nearby tree and began running about Dy‐
lan, whooping like a bunch of hysterical children playing cowboys and Indians. Dylan was growing more and more panicky and screamed for them to stop. Buzz hooked his stick un‐ der the strap of Dylan’s lunch box and flung it over the fence into the rusty old skate park. They had had their fun. Shredder shoved Dylan out of the way, and they walked off down the street. Dylan sat on the pavement, sniffling, and digging his nails into his arm and scratch‐ ing until tiny droplets of blood appeared, a nervous habit he has when he’s angry or upset. And right then, I knew he was feeling so sick of the way he was, and his naïve mother, and his stupid hair and clothes. And that he didn’t even know the point of living when there isn’t any chance to be happy. And that he was feeling so angry he wanted to kill Shredder and his stupid little obedient, puppy dog friends. And I know this because I’m a part of Dylan’s imagination, conjured up when he was a lonely seven‐year‐old. I’m his imaginary friend.
Ed Ward , grade 8
Sister: A Story in Verse
News. Good or bad, It was Still News. My mum And My dad Called Us all Down Stairs. “We’ve got News. Great News,” They say. Plane Tickets On the Table With next To it A photo Of a Girl. We are Adopting.
A new Sister. I had never Thought About it before. But I liked the Idea. She seemed Cute. Little, Black haired, Soft silk‐ skinned. And She had this Big Bright Smile. It was like I Knew Her Already for A long time. My heart pumped More than ever. It was telling me something… I was happy.
Peya Brock grade 11
Breath The plane kissed The Soft And warm African ground. The thick air Replaced The polluted And old Air From Paris. I dropped my Bags and took One… Two… Three… Deep breaths. It filled my lungs Like a big marshmallow. I was breathing.
I, She, We I smile. She smiles. We smile. I see. She sees. We see. I laugh. She laughs. We laugh. We do not look the same, But Our shadows are the same. Nolwenn Sillanpää , grade 7
Departing to Paris. A whole new world for her. The new clothes that were Ironed with love, Fit her Pink blushed cheeks. I knew she was going to Like Her newly planned future. I could see her Transparent mind Filling with thoughts. I knew she was happy. I knew she would make me proud and honest. I knew we would stand up for each other till we were Crinkled with wrinkles and old, Because that’s what real sisters would do. That’s what I would do. That’s what I am going to do. I knew we could be Sisters forever.
Ninon Dessauce grade 11
An extra chapter: Camus’ The Outsider: This chapter is an exploration of the character of Mersault and addresses the main ideas behind the recurring themes of life, its meaning and death. These ideas are addressed through Mersault’s dif‐ ferent realizations before his execution. SIX Marie tried to visit today. Or maybe yesterday. I received a message: ‘Couldn’t visit you today. Be strong. Love ‐Marie’. I threw the message away. The guard felt sorry for me, I could tell. Then I remembered I was being executed today, so I was in a bit of a daze. After, I realised I felt completely empty and I had a bit of a headache so I went back to sleep. When I woke up, one of the guards asked me if I was alright. I said ‘Yes’, so as not to have to talk any more. I didn’t pay much attention to him after that; I slept almost all morning. At twelve o’clock it was very hot. The guard asked me if I wanted to have lunch. When I didn’t say anything, he asked me if I’d mind having it right away and I said no. I ate lunch as usual but it tasted bitter. I wondered what to do with myself and I decided to wash my hands because I like doing this at lunchtime. I was a bit bored and I wondered around my cell. I saw it more clearly than I’ve ever seen anything in my life and not a single detail of the cell escaped me. From the uneven wooden bench where I slept, to the toilet bucket and tin basin kept lined up in the cor‐ ner: I remember it all. A bit later, for want of something to do, I reread the story of the Czecho‐ slovakian. I lay down and looked out of my cell, through the little window. The sky was clear and dull. Soon after, it clouded over and I thought we were going to have a summer storm. It gradually cleared again though. But the passing clouds had left a sort of threat of rain hanging over, which made it gloomy. I watched the sky for a long time. Then, I thought of Marie. I remem‐ bered that day at the swimming pool. She had her hair in her eyes and she was laughing. I turned over in bed and tried to find the salty smell of Marie’s hair in the bolster but I didn’t find it. The cell was quiet and a vague breath of moist air was wafting through. All I could hear was the blood throbbing in my ears. I stood quite still and waited. For some reason I thought of Mother. At three o’clock there was a lot of noise as a group of guards came to fetch me and put me in handcuffs. We went outside and stood in silence for a long time. The clouds had disappeared and the sun was already high in the sky. It was beginning to weigh down heavily on the earth and it was rapidly getting hotter. For some reason we waited quite a long time before setting off. I was hot under my dark clothes. Then the cart appeared. From that point on everything happened very quickly. We set off. The cart was gradually picking up speed and I was surprised at how rapidly the sun was climbing in the sky. All around me there was the same sundrenched countryside. The glare from the sky was unbearable. I noticed that the driver was nervous, he had a small twitch; he was annoying me a bit. As we approached the village, I could hear the screams growing louder and fiercer. There was no way out. Swamped by the noise and the dust, I soon forgot the driver’s twitch. I couldn’t see a thing and all I was conscious of was the speed of this chaotic dash. Then we entered the vil‐
lage square and I faced crowds of spectators greeting me with fierce cries of hatred and dis‐ gust. I was feeling a bit dizzy with all these people watching. I looked at this condemning public and couldn’t pick out a single face. We sat in silence for a very long time. Slowly I started to rec‐ ognise some faces. Searching, I looked around and saw the executive magistrate whispering to a person of importance. I saw the old Salamano with his bald patches glaring in the sunlight. I watched the crowd a little more. Raymond was smoking behind a corner. He caught my gaze and gave a slight nod. He was with his broad‐shouldered friend Masson. Masson’s plump little wife wasn’t there. It was probably inappropriate for her to come. I searched for Marie some more. I saw Céleste with trembling lips. My lawyer was also there, talking to the media. His hair was carefully greased back. In spite of the heat he was still wearing a dark suit and a once pecu‐ liar tie, now become familiar. Then I saw her: Marie. She had an anxious smile and wore a black cotton dress. I wanted Marie to laugh. I fancy her when she laughs. But she didn’t see me watching. After that everything happened so quickly and seemed so inevitable and natural that I don’t remember any of it any more. Except for one thing: the sudden calm when they took off my handcuffs. There we all were, waiting for something that concerned no one but me. I looked around me once again. The sun was getting low and I wasn’t so hot anymore. I realized that I’d managed to get through the day, that I was about to be executed, and that, after all, none of it meant anything. I walked up to the guillotine and was no longer scared. I knew I was going to escape from the mechanism and become deaf to the cries of hatred. Olivia Motte, grade 12
Anna Morrison, grade 11
Portrait of Lupe Marin
"If I ever loved a woman, the more I loved her, the more I wanted to hurt her." ‐ Diego Riveira My body once curved the softness of his linen canvas. The irresistible compassion I gave to this monstrous genie's gentle brushstrokes. My spirit like clay in his gargantuan hands, Our love was peony as the finest of his oil paintings Stained. Now he has painted the seas crimson with his careless affairs. He's fatigued of my virescent disputes. Now on the stool where I once posed lie the angular bodies of his models. The best of lovers and painters he may be, He'll never be a husband to me. Victoria Caetana Strauss, grade 10 Portrait of Lupe Marin by Diego Riveira
I remember a painting Hanging on a wall in the castle, Marie Antoinette à la Rose. Her cheeks and lips, rosy, Her skin soft and fragile, Her eyes, moist, oblivious. My mother, innocent And fragile like the Rose, Not realising the hurt Her thorns inflicted, apologizing On the threshold of death, She descended to the Blade. It fell, slashing down on her Throat, mercilessly, As the world saw the soft Rose, cut off of its thorny Stem, colour oozing Out. Life drained From the petals, yet the red Remained. Sambhavi Priyadarshini, grade 10
Marie Antoinette à la rose by Vigée Le Brun
J’écris, sans me soucier de règles de grammaire, de syntaxe, d’orthographe. J’écris, sans m’occuper de qui lira ce texte, de l’impression qu’ils auront de moi. J’écris tout ce qui me passe par la tête. Je sais que mes mots ne suivent pas, je sais que mes phrases ne sont pas complètes. Je m’en fous. Et puis aussi, je sais que mes expressions ne sont pas « correctes », qu’il ne faut pas utiliser ces mots, que pour une jeune fille comme moi, ça fait vulgaire, mais je m’en fiche carrément. N’essayez pas de me contrôler – la liberté est mien‐ ne, et je vous échapperais toujours. Personne ne peut me tenir en cage, vous ne pouvez me forcer à vous obéir. De temps en temps, je veux relâcher mes cheveux, les laisser flotter dans le vent, je veux tenir tête aux profs, je veux refuser de manger mes légumes, je veux défier l’autorité. Et ma plume coure, coure sur le papier, notant idées folles et taboues, théories ridicules et fragments de poèmes, et sans complexes, je dénude mon esprit sur la feuille blanche. Mes mots sont étranges, biscornus, ils coulent sur ma langue avec de si beaux sons que je les pose sur papier délicatement, pour le seul plaisir d’entendre leur mu‐ sique. Et puis je fais des rimes Ou des vers Pour m’échapper dans un Autre univers, Le monde à l’envers. Et voilà que la sérénité et la liberté m’envahissent et je sens l’odeur douce de la pluie et de petites perles de phrases roulent, coulent, roulent, par terre, tellement jolies, des histoires complètes en quelques mots, des romans entiers en deux phrases. Elle l’aimera, il la détes‐ tait, la terre tourne, tourne, j’écris et le soleil ressort après l’orage. Mon âme, mes plaisirs, mes désirs, mes craintes, mes désespoirs, tout cela se retrouve dé‐ versé en un déluge interminable de mots arrachés à l'étoffe de la langue. Tous ces éléments volatiles forment presque un tout cohérent, un tracé de mes lignes de vie, des hauts et des bas. Des métaphores subtiles, des suggestions discrètes, et puis aussi des idées franches et des déchirures claires, tout ce que la langue française possède pour tenter de capter une essence éphémère. Et plus important encore que toute cette expression verbale, la réassurance que ce n'est pas en vain, qu'en écrivant tout cela, je libère un peu mes démons et je les humanise pro‐ gressivement. Savoir que quelqu'un d'autre les lis, qu'il y a quelqu'un qui lit le mérite litté‐ raire, qui comprend certaines de allusions les plus tordues, c'est me donner une raison de plus pour écrire. Voir l'écrit terminé, c'est un peu comme mourir et voir Dieu au fond d'un couloir de lumière ; c'est savoir que de l'autre côté du purgatoire, il y a un paradis, et que j'y arriverais un jour. De temps à autre, un méchant mot sort de ma tête et se colle au papier, s’écrit par lui‐ même pour tracer la laideur qui existe dans toute beauté. Cette putain de liberté, qui pol‐ lue mon esprit, qui danse sournoisement au coin de toute pensée, cette fée colérique qui est pourtant si belle, se tient en équilibre sur le nombril de la terre. Je sais bien que mes phrases n’ont aucune logique mais ce n’est pas grave, c’est beau à entendre quand même et en plus, ça laisse la liberté d’interprétation à tous, ça permet au lecteur d’y voir et d’y imaginer ce qu’il lui plait le plus, ou ce dont il a besoin. Je crache ma vie, mes songes raclent le fond de ma gorge pour que je m’étouffe sur tant de paroles et de textes qui ne sont tou‐ jours pas écrits, qui n’ont pas encore été violemment poussés dans le monde par les contractions douloureuses de la naissance de mon cerveau. Je ne sais plus ce qui conscient, ce qui vit dans la pénombre de mes cellules grises et si c’est moi qui écrit le texte ou si c’est
le texte qui m’écrit. Mais tant pis, pendant un moment qui semble infini, je suis heureuse, je suis libre. Le poète qui libère ses émotions par son écriture, qui revit un peu avec chaque caractère noir tracé sur un écran ou sur une feuille de cette blancheur éblouissante et terrifiante, ce‐ lui‐là peut vous raconter l’esprit humain, l’amour filial, la dévotion, l’espoir. L’écrivaine qui vous chante la vie à travers son œuvre, qui vous présente un argument infaillible, qui vous offre l’explication que vous cherchez, elle aussi peut vous parler du monde, de l’amour, de la passion. En écrivant, nous vous offrons notre âme, dépouillée pour votre plaisir, pour votre intérêt, pour que vous sachiez qui nous sommes, et que vous puissiez découvrir cette passion de la langue et des sons si musicaux d’un poème, d’une songe, d’un texte. Nous avons osé rêver, nous avons osé penser ces choses si belles ou si taboues, et à mains ouvertes, nous vous avons offert le voyage dans nos pensées. Peut être que nous avons ré‐ ussi, et que ce déferlement de mots vous inspirera aussi à écrire, et à vivre. Aliénor Lemieux‐Cumberlege, grade 12
Pena Brock, grade 11
Collages Written and Edited by Students at The International School of Paris 2010