The Jaguar Journal 2013-2014
Officers Shelby Washburn (Senior) & Rebecca Noel (Junior) Head Editors Alex Suggs (Senior) Auxiliary Editor
Supporting Teachers Ms. Cindy Stockman Mrs. Britt Collins
Parent Sponsors Teri Thomas Noel Robin Washburn
Letter to Readers Dear Readers, Before you, in your hands, you hold the work of your peers. Now, this is not just their 'work' - these are their poems, their art, their photos, their stories, their ideas, their feelings, their emotions, and a piece of each of them that will forever be contained within this Journal. I ask you all to please treat this Journal with the utmost respect as your peers have entrusted you with pieces of themselves. Perhaps one day, when you are older and wiser (and all that cliched nonsense), you'll find this Journal while browsing through your computer; you'll shift through it and remember high school for a brief moment, and in that brief moment remember the person you were and the people you knew. Remember that you were part of a very special group of individuals who all braved a new avenue together. And this Journal is proof that despite the fact that we did not see one another every day and that we did not know one another, we were all still connected. Let this Journal remind us all that we are a talented, extraordinary bunch and that no boundaries restrain us (not now and not then). Sincerely, Shelby Washburn, Head Editor
Letter to Submitters Dear Submitters, When speaking with you regarding your wonderful submissions, I've always made a point to thank you for submitting them to us. I am truly so incredibly thankful for the opportunity to not only read, view, and experience your work but also for the opportunity to share your work. This Journal would not have been at all possible without you and your talents! If you're ever feeling a bit morose about things, give this Journal a read; marvel at the work of your peers and fellow artists and then take a gander at your own work (perhaps even cringe at the memories of a angsty, teenage you); remember that you are all special people and talented individuals. When things seem grim and you feel down, please remember: don't write yourself off just yet, that it's only in your head you feel left out or looked down on, just try your best, try everything you can, and it doesn't matter if it's good enough for someone else - â€œJimmy Eat Worldâ€?. Thank you, thank you, thank you so much for you and your work! Sincerely, Shelby Washburn, Head Editor
The Christmas Wishes an inspirational story by Emily Powers (12th) Monday morning arrived all too quickly at the Taylors’ home in Blessedville, North Carolina, and already the old, yellow-stained calendar read December 24. Even though the weather certainly felt “Christmasy,” the true feeling of the holiday season was completely absent from LeAnne Taylor’s heart. However, the feeling was something she was quite familiar with. Every year had been the same. Christmas Eve and then Christmas Day came and went. It was nothing new, but LeAnne had three young children, and that’s what made each year that much more difficult. The youngest was three, the next child four, and the oldest was five. They deserved more than just a few chocolate chip cookies and some swallows of milk on Christmas morning. Despite their poor living conditions and lack of much of anything in their lives, somehow they managed to move on. LeAnne was often faced with an unanswered question. How could her family live in such a hope-filled name of a town like Blessedville, but never receive any gifts of pure joy and happiness? The name seemed rather ironic. Nevertheless, today was Monday, and now LeAnne’s right torn pocket was filled with five dollars and ten cents. She had saved every bit she could and hid it from her husband, Harold, in case he ever came home unexpectedly after another long night of heavy drinking at the bar. Sometimes months would pass and LeAnne and the kids would never see him until that one random night when he would burst through the front door, cursing and hollering to beat the band. The routine was always the same. In a jumble of mixed up sentences and phrases with
a cuss word always trailing along with his slurred speech, he’d demand for money. Money for liquor that is. And always LeAnne’s heart would sink because any dog-eared dollars or dull pennies she saved underneath her thin, dirty mattress were snatched up and squandered by her reckless husband. It was no use to argue with Harold. She had learned that the hard way. Every word of shame and scorn that she could possibly think of to describe Harold was greeted by a hard, painful slap against her cheek that sent her sprawling across the floor. To add to that, the kids would cry almost all night, so in the end, it wasn’t worth the pain it caused her family when it came to arguing with Harold. But in her mind, LeAnne would do anything to see her children’s eyes light up at the sight of a few presents. That’s why LeAnne was found standing in front of a new, brightly lit consignment store, her hand feeling its way across the crinkled dollars and listening for the clink of all ten pennies. She had called a neighbor to watch over the kids while she did her Christmas shopping. It must have been 25 degrees tonight, LeAnne thought as she turned up her collar and took hurried steps across the pavement and reached out her hand to feel the cold brass doorknob. With a quick jerk of the wrist, she opened the door and hurriedly shut it before the icy cold winter air could have a chance to make its way inside. Cautiously, she looked around and made her way over to the aisle of books that lined the wall. Christmas music was heard on the little black radio that sat on the checkout counter. However, something was different. LeAnne knew it the first minute she stepped inside the store. No one else was around. The clerk wasn’t there, and no other Christmas shoppers either. Usually, today would have been the busiest day of the year, people running around with brightly colored gift bags and rolls of decorative wrapping paper underneath their arms, rushing to get the last minute gifts for their loved ones. Now though, LeAnne was the only one standing all alone in a consignment store staring at all the rows of books with the only sound of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” playing on the radio. “Well, let’s
see,” LeAnne thought, turning her thoughts back to the neatly lined books on the shelf. “Sadie would love a picture book.” She was always pestering her mother about story time and reading to her before she went to bed. LeAnne didn’t have the money to buy many books for her smart five-year-old, so instead she would make up stories about princesses and princes and love. Love. It seemed so foreign to LeAnne. Something that only belonged in fairy tales. Once, Sadie had even asked, “Why isn’t Daddy Prince Charming? He yells too much, and I don’t like it one bit,” she had said, pursing her lips and crossing her arms defiantly. LeAnne had thought the very same thing. She had been a little girl too, and knew what it was like to be perfectly enthralled with magical tales of bravery, happiness, and most of all love. “Too bad those things aren’t real, not for me anyways,” LeAnne told herself. “Let’s see the price of this book.” As she reached down and picked up the bright yellow book with a pink castle on it, her heart fell when she saw the price in the bottom right corner of the cover. Six dollars. LeAnne had only $5.10, and she had to spend that on three kids, not just one. There were no other children’s books, so LeAnne moved on to see what else she might be able to afford. Passing by a shelf with Christmas ornaments, something caught her eye. A sparkle of light and glitter reflected a beautiful pattern against the ceiling. It was a star that hung on a golden thread. Something that would be perfect for fouryear-old Amy. Amy was always fascinated by sparkles and glitter. Once while they were buying their regular weekly groceries of bread, beans, and milk at the local Piggly Wiggly, Amy ran towards a pair of hot pink shoes loaded with sequins. “Look, Mommy! Don’t I look pretty?!” she had shouted as she slipped off her worn sneakers and holey socks. “Can I please get them?” she asked in her high-pitched voice. “I’ll be very careful not to get them dirty. Please Mommy?!” That day, Amy’s blue eyes had stared up at her mother’s face, intently searching for a yes or no answer. LeAnne’s eyes had welled up
with tears as she tried her best to explain to her little girl that maybe they’d have to wait until Christmas when they had saved enough money. It was heartbreaking, and that was one of the reasons why LeAnne hated Christmas shopping. Even if she had seen something she liked for herself or the kids, she knew she wouldn’t have enough money. Grabbing the tag, the price read $7.50. She left the shiny gold star and shuffled to the window where there were some window displays. On the left corner next to some china dolls sat a cute, small brown teddy bear with dark button eyes. “Oh gosh. Madison would love that,” LeAnne thought to herself. Madison was her three-year-old daughter who loved stuffed animals. But the only stuffed toy that belonged to her was a faded doll with yellow stains on her dress. It had been one of LeAnne’s dolls when she was little, but whenever she looked at it clutched in Madison’s hands, her stomach twisted in knots of anger. LeAnne was angry. Angry about life. Angry that she couldn’t afford something nice for her girls. She didn’t feel like it was worth it to get out of bed in the mornings. But she had three little girls, all depending on “Mommy.” The price on the teddy bear’s ear read $9. Too much. Once again, a year without Christmas presents, she thought to herself. The radio was now playing, “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas.” How many times had she dreamed of what an ideal Christmas would be like for her family? It was probably impossible to count. There would be smells of a hot fresh turkey right out of the oven and warm cornbread with butter dripping off the sides. Mashed potatoes with warm gravy and sweet potato casserole with those cute, white miniature marshmallows that would melt right in your mouth. And then there would be a beautiful little Christmas tree with strings of lights strung all around it with a shining yellow star. The house would be decorated with boughs of holly, and the smell of pumpkin pie and the sound of Christmas carols would all make a Christmas just perfect. It was like one of those fairy tales. All too good to be true. LeAnne put on her gloves and buttoned her old hand-me-down
coat. She trudged towards the door while her throat felt like it would choke her. Those same familiar tears welled up, making her dull blue eyes glassy, and then one by one she felt the tears come. Then, they seemed to pour down her cheeks like rain in a thunderstorm’s downpour. She reached for the doorknob, but as she started turning it, she heard a man’s voice call out. “LeAnne! Don’t go! I have something for you!” LeAnne quickly spun around and stared at a wiry, white-haired old man whose arms were filled with beautifully wrapped Christmas presents. “Whoa. That was weird. How did he get over there so fast? And how did he know my name? That’s even weirder.” LeAnne questioned herself and thought, “I don’t trust him.” She turned her back to him and opened the door. “LeAnne!” The man’s voice called out, almost in a pleading tone. “My name is Gabriel. I’m here to help you. I have some things for you. They’re presents just for you and your three girls. Please trust me, LeAnne.” LeAnne decided that it was a joke or a mistake, but just to please the old man, she’d take the load off of him. As she approached the clerk’s counter, he smiled, the lines around the corners of his dark eyes dipping down. There was something about his eyes. Something different. Something almost pure and innocent. They almost beamed with joy. Yes, that was it. Joy. LeAnne took some of the packages and shyly put them under her coat. “Gosh! I was afraid you wouldn’t come. I was expecting you though, so I’m glad I stayed a while longer,” he said laughing. “Wait a minute! Let me get you a bag! That will make it a lot easier on you, won’t it now?” He sped off to a back room and in no time returned carrying a large gift bag with the words, “LeAnne’s Christmas Wishes.” When LeAnne saw the bag, she got that feeling that maybe this man was here for a reason.
did you know my name?” “Oh. That doesn’t matter. All that matters now is that you have an extra special Christmas!” He looked up from the presents and smiled at her. “You know you’re blessed, don’t you, LeAnne?” Those same eyes peered deep into hers, almost penetrating her whole being with heartfelt love. “No! No I don’t know that!” she cried her voice rising. “I’ve got three girls that I can’t feed well. I don’t have enough money to buy any Christmas presents, and every night I cry myself to sleep because my life is miserable, and I hate it!” At this last sentence, LeAnne’s shoulders shook with tears that had waited a long time to spill out completely. It felt like she would explode with anger and grief. Gabriel snatched a huge box of tissues out of nowhere and handed it to her. He sat down and listened to her muffled shaky words amongst jerky sobs. “Harold is my husband.” (long pause) “He drinks and hits me and squanders” (sniff sniff) “all my money. I don’t know what to do. I feel like I’m all alone in this.” Gabriel suddenly stood up and leaned closer to her. “You’re not alone, LeAnne. If there’s one thing I want you to know, it’s that. God loves you. I love you. Think about this. Your children love you very much. They’d do anything to make you happy. Instead of trying to carry all these burdens on your own, why don’t you ask God to help you out a bit? You know if you ask Him, He can make things a whole lot easier. He won’t mind at all. That’s what He’s there for. He’s there for you.” He smiled and gently asked, “Can you do that for me?” “Well . . . alright. I guess it wouldn’t hurt to try it. Thank you.” “Ohh. Don’t thank me. I’m just here to help. Oh! I almost forgot! Here’s your bag. Have a Merry Christmas, LeAnne! Remember though, these gifts don’t entirely make a happy Christmas. What does is the news of Jesus being born so that He would carry all your sins on
himself so that you could have a relationship with Him and His Father. That is the good news. Okay?” “Alright. I . . . I think I better get home now,” LeAnne said. She picked up the bag of Christmas presents and thanked Gabriel for the tissues. “Anytime,” he said smiling. She started to leave and then asked him shyly, “Do I owe you anything?” “No. Everything is free! If you give me any money, I won’t accept it.”He smiled and then let out that hearty laugh again. LeAnne gave him a little wave, opened the door, and left. As she was walking back home towards the Blessedville Trailer Park Community, she decided she would do something special for him. Maybe she could give him a couple of chocolate chip cookies. She got home and made the cookies after her girls went to bed so that they would have a little surprise waiting for them Christmas morning. The sun rose the next day. It was Christmas, the day everyone had been waiting for. It was before the girls got up when an unexpected knock was heard on the door. LeAnne answered the door to find six young men in brown delivery service uniforms. The tallest one stepped up and asked, “Mrs. Taylor?” “Yes?” “We’re here with some boxes addressed to you from a man named Gabriel. We couldn’t find his last name or address, but it clearly says your name. Do you mind if we come in and set them down here?” “Oh. That’s . . . that’s fine.” LeAnne was speechless. She never got any packages from anyone. The six men each carried a box in, heaving and breathing hard, and set them down on the floor. “Why are you all working today? It’s Christmas.” “Oh. This was a special delivery. Things like this don’t happen very often, but when they do, it has to get done,” replied the tall young
man. “See. It’s even got a special sticker right here that says - “Special Delivery.” Sure enough. There it was. A yellow, shiny sticker that made the delivery official. “Well, thank you very much, boys. Merry Christmas!” “Same to you, Ma’am.” They left, and LeAnne tore into the cardboard boxes. The first box was stuffed with decorative boughs with holly berries. The next contained a five-foot tall artificial Christmas tree. The third box was packed with strings of lights. The fourth box had tons of ornaments, each different in their own special way. The fifth box was filled to the brim with chocolate samples, caramels, and assorted cookies and cakes. And then came the final box. In it was a hand-carved nativity scene with a note that read: Dear LeAnne, I hope you have a blessed Christmas. With much love, ~ Gabriel It was all too much. LeAnne sat down and cried with happiness, which was probably one of the first times she hadn’t cried tears of sadness. The girls woke up and found their mother crying. They all asked, “What’s wrong, Mommy?” to which LeAnne replied, “Nothing. Mommy has never been happier.” Together, the Taylor family decorated the home, and their Christmas tree laden with ornaments and lights sparkled in the sunlight. They happily munched on their candies and sang Christmas carols, giggling and laughing with utmost happiness. They were all having such a good time,LeAnne almost didn’t hear the knock at the door. Standing in the cold, holding a large bag, was Carol Patterson, LeAnne’s next door neighbor. They were very good friends. “I thought you would like to have some food I fixed. I’ve been up all night fixing food for Christmas dinner, and I thought you could use some. You can at least have some leftovers for the girls.”
Carol. Are you sure?” “Oh. I’m positive. There’s some sweet potato casserole with marshmallows, a fresh turkey, cornbread with butter, and mashed potatoes with gravy. Plus, a pumpkin pie right out of the oven. I think it’ll be enough. I hope you enjoy it! Merry Christmas, LeAnne!” Dumbfounded, LeAnne closed the door, and set the bag of food on the kitchen counter. How did Carol know what she wanted for Christmas dinner? Surely these weren’t just coincidences. It seemed all too odd for these events to just happen out of the blue. LeAnne turned her thoughts away from the food and remembered the presents Gabriel had given her. She set them down around the tree, but there was something odd. There were names on them. Her girls’ names: Amy, Madison, and Sadie. LeAnne had not written their names on the gift tags. She knew she hadn’t, yet there they were. It would be a surprise for her as to see what was in them. Sadie opened up her first present. Inside was a fairy tale princess book. It was yellow and had a pink castle on the cover. It was exactly like the one LeAnne had seen, but couldn’t afford. Sadie was ecstatic. She tore into her other presents, proudly waving in the air all sorts of picture books, all of them filled with enchanting stories of princesses and their Prince Charmings. “Thank you, Mommy! You don’t know how much these mean to me,” Sadie giggled. Amy went after her present with fierce determination. Inside was a pair of hot pink shoes with sparkly sequins that were exactly like the ones inside the Piggly Wiggly grocery store. Amy screamed with delight and danced around the house, yelling, “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” When she calmed down and caught her breath, she opened up another present addressed to her. Out came a shiny gold star on a golden thread to which further brought more happy squeals. It was the same one LeAnne had thought she would love. “Mommy, pick me up so I can put it on the tree.” LeAnne lifted her up and Amy reached the highest branch and
hung her precious ornament. Then, Madison began opening up her present. She squealed and out popped from the wrapping paper a stuffed brown teddy bear with dark button eyes. Once again it was the same bear LeAnne had thought Madison would enjoy. There were many presents yet to be opened and quite a mess to clean up with all the wrapping paper, but everyone was happy, and that’s all that really mattered. Christmas dinner was perfect, and filled everyone up until they thought they would burst from all of the delicious food. It had been such a long time since they’d eaten a meal like that. And boy, was it good! LeAnne decided that the next day she and the girls would thank Gabriel with a fresh baked batch of cookies to show their gratitude, and for all the presents, and “for making it the best Christmas ever” as Sadie had put it. They put on their coats and boots and headed toward the consignment store. When they got there though, there was no consignment shop. All that was there was an old, abandoned building with a sign that read, “Closed. Went out of Business.” The building was dark inside and the door was locked. There was a date on the sign that read, “Closed January 10, 2002.” Today’s date was December 26, 2012. It had been over ten years since the store had gone out of business, yet LeAnne was there just two days ago and it was open. “That’s funny. I know I came here. This is where I met Gabriel, the man who sent us all those presents and packages.” “Well, he’s not here, Mommy,” said Sadie. “Maybe it was a fairy tale. If it was, then that means we will live happily ever after.” “Yes, Sweetie. But only this time, the fairy tale was real.”
Time By Zachary Soular Time Time stops for no man Always turning ever changing Unstoppable, irreversible, Time Time The unstoppable wheel The steady force The Recorder Time Time remembers all Knows all Remembers all Records all Time All knowing Ever changing Ever turning time Time The eternal force The great scribe The bringer of life Harbinger of death Time sees all Controls all Knows all Time The great hourglass The historian The harbinger Time The keeper
The clock The wheel The author Time Ever changing Ever turning Ever creating All powerful Time Unstoppable Uncontrollable Wild, time Time Time cannot be controlled Time cannot be altered Time cannot be tamed Time cannot be owned Time cannot be held Time defies all restraints Slips past all traps Holds all life in its hands Controls the play called life Time is the past, present, and future Time Never ending time.
Kayla Matkin A silver chain dangles from my neck “Kayla, Daddy loves you. Happy 16th Birthday 8/13/12” Pressed against my chest His smiling face inside the heart-shaped locket Let’s me know he’ll always be in my heart. Not a day goes by Without the chain on my neck Not a day goes by Where I forget I see him when I look in the mirror Our blue eyes Our brown hair Everyone knows I am his daughter I know he watches me from heaven And stays with me Inside my locket
Emily Powers Senior
One Day One day, I will graduate high school. I will be at the top of my class, and I will give a cliché speech on how I did it. One day, I will go to a four year university. I will study English, and I will help my peers understand the comma rule. One day, I will get bored of a “traditional” university, And I will transfer to Harvard University. One day, I will get accepted to Harvard University. I will forget about English and study law. One day, I will graduate from Harvard with a 4.0. I will gladly accept my degree, and I will use it to apply to law school. One day, I will finish law school and become a successful lawyer. One day, I will take my expertise and move to Utah. One day, I will be a senator of Utah. One day, I will finish my term as senator and will run as the President of the United States. One day, I will become the first female president of the United States. I will change the way the country works; I will go down in history. One day, I will realize that others think my plans are crazy. One day, they will learn that this is all very real to me.
Salad Rebecca Noel Little boys shouldn’t have to eat salad. There was plenty of time for that later. When you’re a six year old boy every meal should be pizza, candy, or chicken nuggets. Parents don’t think the same way, though. Six year old boys, according to adults, have to eat healthy food, like salad. “But mommy! I don’t like salad.” Aaron was complaining yet again about having to eat another salad before they got to the ‘real’ food. “You have to get big and strong, and salad is how you do that, silly.” Aaron’s mother was plain, but full of life and character. She loved her two children more than anything else in the world. “I like salad, mommy, see?” Aaron’s three year old sister, Alyssa, said while stuffing a forkful in her mouth and dressing dripping down her chin. “I can see that! Now, Aaron, why don’t you want to eat the salad?” “It’s boring!” “If I can make the salad less boring will you eat it?” Aaron thought for a moment and agreed. His mother was quiet until she came up with an idea. “How about I tell you a story? Whenever I want you to eat a salad, you tell me what you want to hear a story about and I’ll make one up. But the fun part is it has to involve the hero eating a salad.” The two small children giggled and Aaron yelled out, “I want today’s story to be about Pirates!” While Alyssa said, “Princess!”. Their mother started the story slowly, “Once upon a time there was a beautiful princess that fell in love with a scary pirate. Obviously, the princess’s parents did not approve of this pirate for their daughter, but they thought they would give him a chance. They invited him to their castle for a fancy dinner. The pirate even had to buy new clothes because he didn’t have any fancy enough! The dinner began and the King and Queen were surprised to find that the pirate was actually quite kind and well behaved. The first course was brought out, and it was salad. The pirate reached for his fork, but there were four! He looked at the princess across the table in horror, but she wasn’t looking at him. He didn’t know which one he was supposed to use. What could he do? He had to eat the salad, but what if he picked the wrong one? That could jeopardize his-” “Mommy, what does jeopardize mean?” She explained what the word meant and got back to the story, “That could jeopardize his chance to be with the beautiful princess. He finally chose the smallest fork. He glanced up at the King to meet his look of approval. Plans began a few nights later for a wedding until the pirate let slip that he was only marrying the princess for her money.” Aaron and Alyssa laughed at the scary pirate’s silly mistake while taking the last bites of their salads. “See, that wasn’t so bad now, was it?” “Can we have another story tonight, pleeeease?” the children begged in unison. “I can’t tell two in one night. I’ll run out of stories!” The new routine of storytelling while eating a daily salad became both children’s favourite part of the day. The story ideas grew more and more outrageous everyday. There were stories about mermaids, acorns, and flying turtles. Everyday, without fail, their mother came up with a wonderful story for her children. Soon Aaron was too sick to eat his salad with his family and everyday his mother brought his salad to the hospital and told him a story while he ate it. Sometimes, Alyssa came with her, but sometimes the doctors wouldn’t let her come in. Aaron missed his sister when she couldn’t come, but he still enjoyed the time with his mother. He knew she loved to tell stories and knew that it made her feel better to forget about Aaron being in the hospital. The last story his mother ever told him was about a little boy with cancer who ate a salad everyday with his little sister. The boy got all better and got to play sports with his friends again and climb the trees in his backyard and play fetch with his dog. Aaron never ate another salad or heard another story from his mother again.
The Love Club
Shelby Washburn I'm in a club at school, With girls who promise their love. To the ugly girls they're so cruel, Yet me they think the world of. We're all royalty, And I've sworn not to confess. And we've all pledged our loyalty, But I'm just a Duchess. We're the girls you rally to hate, Girls that wage war at parties, Girls that seek counsel before a date, And we do it all without any tardies. Sometimes there are battles within, Pull her hair, scratch her face, grab her purse. We're all taking sides, watch out Boleyn, With our fingers against our lips as we curse. But we still love one another, We live the same lives, Sometimes we miss our mothers, And we tell the same lies. And we've got an ugly beauty, When we murder our friends. And we go on three, when the friendship ends. If one falls, we all fall, We'll always be together, Screaming as we stalk down the halls, Better than any old Heather. But, hey,
We're dead anyway.
Kayla Matkin Smoke forms clouds around me I’m stuck inside my fear memories burning screams from outside my mother yells “Help her, or she will die” My door bursts open He grabs my baby hands Throws me over his shoulder and runs Dodging flames Choking on smoke We’re likely to die He trips over rubble Grips me tighter I began to cry
FELT Cindy Stockman The sound of the train coming to a halt broadsided me with the realization I will die soon. I heard on the train whispers about a god-awful place that was to be my final destination. Women were weeping holding on to their precious belongings, their children. Young men consoled the elders and the rabbi. I stood, cramped into the far corner shaking. I was not shaking with fear but from the utter cold that set in. I looked down on my tattered coat and fumbled with the yellow triangle. This is what I have become, a single piece of fabric with a number. I was no longer Yettie Eisner, the brash 19 year old. Now I was branded number 17856. A number, like the cattle branded for slaughter. The creaking of metal, blinding light and men shouting, “Get out, get out, you filthy Jew!” This was our greeting to Auschwitz. My neighbor Jakob who was only nine years old began to shout to the officers. He stood still taunting them. A sound of the butt of the rifle cracking his skull made the neighbor women scream. Jakob lie on the snowy ground limp, lifeless. A pool of red began streaming slowly like spilt wine on mama’s crocheted tablecloth at our last Seder. Mrs. Wirtz, Jakobs mom dropped to her knees. She began to cradle her life, her only son. Twelve black shiny jackboots surrounded her. Two men from the group of boots jerked her straight up. She begged them to shoot her. “Kill me know, kill me know, for I cannot live without my child! Just as Mrs. Wirtz spit in one of the soldiers face, another turned around and shot her in the head. Both son and mother lie together in a small pile of pristine snow marked by blood. The soldiers knew that this incident was perhaps provoking others coming off the train. Quickly people rushed in to lines for boys, men, old people, young women, and mothers with babies and the group labeled the “garbage” The group consisted of a few gypsies and my neighbor Boris who was mentally unwell. Running towards the line, was the man who lived downstairs from us Mr. Finkl who wrote an underground paper condemning Hitler and a young man from down the street who was an artist. A soldier stood in front of me with a hairy beast of a dog snarling. He
demanded I get in line and not speak. I trudged up to the woman seated at a small table filled with papers, an inkwell and stamps. “Name,” she demanded. I stuttered and could not get the words out. “Name!” I looked at her and softly stated my name. Another woman came up from behind me and grabbed my arm, pulling me towards a grey building. As we came closer, all I heard were cries and an odd buzzing sound. I was pushed forward and cold steel ran across my forehead. I wept as I watched my long black hair fell in clumps to the ground. The women shaving the prisoner’s heads were laughing, making fun of us and there was nothing I could do. I knew darker days were ahead of us. The woman then threw a white powder all body that had the foulest smell. I did not fully understand what was happening. Gathered and rushed to another table and issued a pair of grey and black ragged pants and a matching jacket that was two sizes too large for me. I closed my eyes and though of my 16th birthday. I lost my parents when I was sixteen. I was on a holiday at my Nana’s house in Koszalin, Poland right on the Baltic Sea. It was early June and Nana and my cousins wanted to celebrate my birthday together. My parents had business to take care of in our hometown of Gdansk and planned to travel in the next few days. As I waved goodbye to papa at the train, I looked at the black swastika emblazoned poster, and an eerie feeling ran straight down my spine. Little did I know that would be the last time I saw papa. A day after leaving my town, the Gestapo came in and raided my neighborhood. I was told my parents were sent to Treblinka located outside of Warsaw. My Nana spun a tale for me, saying that my parents were sent to Treblinka as part of a program to assist the Jews. I sat and listened as Nana told this wonderful story how the Germans were going to move the Jews around and set up their own country. I did not believe a word Nana said. I knew better. I heard the rumors of the so-called “work camps.” I knew that it would take a miracle or a strange twist of fate that a reunion with my parents again would soon happen. The wooden shoes hurt my feet as soon as I stepped into them. Wooden shoes I thought were only for the Dutch. Wooden shoes were in the Hans Christian Anderson stories my Papa read to me as a little girl. I could hardly
walk in the shoes that I was required to wear. I realized why, to prevent escape. No able-bodied person would be able to run in these shoes, much less walk in a normal fashion. I plodded along to a large structure in which I would reside. I was tired and ready to go to sleep. The hunger that I felt subsided and I just wanted to rest. Lay my head down and wake up out of this nightmare. Groups of 20 or more girls were pushed closer to the wooden structure. The door opened and there were only lofts. Lofts like a barn where hay is stored for the animals. This is what we were relegated to, animals! We were told to go lay down. I choose a spot on the lowest level. I sat on the piece of wood with a few scraps of hay and a filthy scrap of wool; I look up and noticed the carving. The carving was a passage from the Torah that translated into “May the angel who redeems me from all evil bless the children, and may my name be declared among them, and the names of my father’s Abraham and Isaac, and may they team like fish for multitude within the land.” I stared at the carving, tears streaming down my cold cheeks. I felt the bitter cold and closed my eyes. The banging on the floor by the Aufseherin startled the entire room. It was pure chaos. “jetzt bewegen” they shouted in German. The women spoke fervently in Yiddish, asking for God to help them, to take them away from this hell. The sound of weeping filled the cold, air that was marked with death. The Aufseherin demanded we get up and line up. I had no idea what would happen. I did know that I refused to die today! We filed out of the building onto the grounds. The snow was melting, and within minutes my wooden shoes were filled with slush. Be brave I thought to myself. Be brave, like Mama and Papa were. Did I already seal the fate of my parents? Mama and Papa were they alive? I was handed a metal bowl and a dirty spoon. As I went through the line my bowl was filled with some liquid that resembled urine and tossed a cracker that was harder than the wooden shoes on my feet. I was famished. I had not eaten since arriving in perdition. I dipped my spoon into the wretched liquid and took a sip. It had no flavor and was gritty like the floor of my father’s workshop. The cracker was equally as vile. I knew I had to eat whatever so called food I could get
my hands on. I knew that people around me were starving to death and I was not going to be too proud to eat what I was served. Women around me begged for the last morsel of what I deemed to be a potato at the bottom of my bowl. I felt sorry for the beggars, but knew that I need to survive myself. I licked the bottom of the bowl and longed for the sweet goodness of my Nana’s blintzes. That’s it, I thought to myself. I will imagine this wretched food to be something it is not. I will dream of Nana’s blintzes when I try to digest the awful bread. I will think of Mama’s chicken soup when the haggard old woman shoves the bowl into my hand. I will make this whole situation a game, a fantasy. I will survive, I tell myself, I will. Chaos again! Move to this line! Move to that line! No one knows what is going on. I am placed in a short line with other ghosts. They are shadows of previous lives in striped cloth. The line begins to trudge off to a nondescript building on the other side of the camp. I dare not look to my left or my right. I focus on the semi baldheads in front on me. We walk lock step to the wooden door. Inside are 12 tables, a few chairs and wooden crates filled with possessions of those who have walked through the gates of hell. The SS guard assigns us each a crate. I stand in front of my assignment, a crate filled with watches, bracelets and various baubles and treasures. For the next eight hours I sorted through pocket watches, wedding rings, lockets and other trinkets that once were someone’s prized possessions. I was commanded to sort each crate given into four new crates. Items that were gold but not timepieces were in the first box, the second held watch, a third box was for gemstones and the fourth box was broken bits and random pieces that were of no value. Nazi officers would come in every few hours and sort through the second box. They would snicker and grab a watch or two and walk away. I was to keep my head down, never to look up. An older woman who was at the end of the work table did that and she was met with a devastating blow to the side of her face. Her head hit the table and she was quickly removed by two of the girls next to her. She was never seen again. At the end of the eight hours we were hurried out of the building and
moved into a line outside. It was cold and damp that evening. I longed to eat something, anything that evening. We were given two pieces of a potato the size of a small childâ€™s finger and a rotten apple. I was so hungry that I inhaled both and promptly vomited the semblance of dinner that we received. We were gathered up once again and shuffled off to our building. I climbed into the loft that I shared with another girl. She did not speak; she would not tell me her name. As I lay down on my pile of straw I realized that this was only the second day of agony, I imagined this was to last an eternity.
Hannah Marie Bradham
Yours, Catherine Shelby Washburn A play of Four Acts on the Catherine’s of King Henry VIII Act I, Scene I A wedding is taking place: King Henry VIII and his young bride, Catherine Howard, stand together at an alter with a Priest standing before them. A small ceremony has been called – only about ten to twenty guests, who are seated a ways back from the alter – among those in attendance are: Thomas Culpeper and Mary and Elizabeth (King Henry VIII's daughters). The alter and the couple occupy much of the stage. The lighting is soft and golden, like a Summer morning. King Henry VIII and his bride look to each other, happily, as they say their vows. Catherine Howard: I, Lady Catherine Howard, do take King Henry the VIII, as my lawfully wedded husband. To have and to hold, in sickness and in health, for better or worse, for richer or poorer. I pledge my love and loyalty to him, till this day forward, till death do us part. Priest: As granted to me, by His Majesty, King Henry the VIII, and by God, I do so now pronounce you, Catherine Howard and King Henry the VIII, husband and wife. You may now kiss your bride, your Majesty. Catherine Howard and King Henry VIII, still smiling happily at one another, lean in for a quick kiss. A single stage light highlights them as the rest of the company moves the stage and set in the position of the post-wedding Dinner feast. Catherine Howard and King Henry VIII remain frozen, only moving to take a seat at the head of the table while the rest of the guests arrange themselves around them. The stage comes alive again – the whole transition has taken mere seconds. King Henry VIII : (raising a goblet to Catherine Howard) To my bride and Queen – long live Queen Catherine! The party rejoices, people chatter happily. A large, ominous portrait of Catherine of Argon stands, stage left. Catherine Howard smiles at King Henry VIII, who returns the smile and turns away to speak with someone next to him. As King Henry VIII turns away, Catherine Howard turns toward a young man, Thomas Culpeper, who is seated next to her, and they exchange a flirtatious glance. The scene freezes once more, with a single spotlight highlighting Catherine Howard and Thomas Culpeper, as the scene melds into the next. End of Scene I Act I, Scene II Another transition – Catherine Howard remains seated but the Extras in the scene remove her intricate wedding bonnet and pull off her wedding dress to reveal a dingy, plain dress. The scene is arranged into that of a court room, the Extras have seated themselves as the witnesses, jury, and councilmen. The Priest (now adorned in Judge's attire) stands before Catherine Howard, King Henry VIII stands behind her. The lighting is dimmer, a slight purple hue. Judge: (In a booming voice) Guilty. Catherine Howard, this court declares you guilty of Adultery. Per
your crimes, you have been sentence to be Beheaded. A gasp ripples through the stage, Catherine Howard remains silent, yet on the verge of tears, King Henry VIII reacts to the news silently (turning away). The scene freezes in transition, with a single spotlight highlighting lone Catherine Howard – the scene is rearranged, with the Beheading Block in the center stage, set in front of Catherine Howard who sits in front of it. End of Scene II
Act I, Scene III Catherine Howard sits in front of the Beheading Block – varying between starring at it and the audience. A few tears escape her eyes. Slowly, deliberately, she leans forward and places her head/neck onto the Block several times - “practicing”. After a few times, she stands. The lighting is a dark, deep red. Catherine Howard: (softly, like a whisper, to the Block) Goodnight. Catherine Howard remains standing as a single spotlight highlights her, she looks up, towards the sky. End of Scene III
Act I, Scene IV The Beheading Block is moved to the edge of the stage. The Extras arrange themselves around the stage, awaiting the Beheading. King Henry VIII stands back, stage left. Catherine Howard stands directly center stage – sullen and quiet. The Executioner enters from stage left, axe in hand.. Two Guards enter from stage right and take both arms of Catherine Howard, leading her to the Block. She stumbles, shakes, the Guards carry up to the Block. She steadies herself. The stage lighting is bright with a tint of dark color, a crisp morning with an overcast sky. Catherine Howard: (lips quivering, steady yet still on the verge of tears, with a strong, powerful, but also cracking voice) I have sinned – I have sinned against God and I have sinned against my husband, the King. In punishment, my body shall cease and my soul shall surrender to that holiest of being to face true judgment. I ask for His forgiveness, His mercy, His compassion, His pity. Catherine Howard kneels in front of the Block, slowly places her neck upon it. The Executioner raises the axe above his head and swings it down hard – the stage goes dark except one single spotlight highlighting King Henry VIII as the scene melts into the next. End of Act I
Act II, Scene I King Henry VIII is standing, with a depressed air about him. The spotlight stays on him as he slowly
walks upstage. King Henry VIII's aid, Edward, enters and goes to his side. Edward: Your Highness, as your loyal and trusted aid, I must ask – how are you faring? King Henry VIII does not answer, but continues walking along the stage and Edward leaves his side, with the spotlight still highlighting him. It is as if King Henry VIII is pacing through many days and months, crippled with depression. Again, Edward appears but followed by Bartholomew, and the two stand on stage left, speaking to themselves, a second spotlight appears on them. King Henry VIII continues his slow, silent, sad march. Edward: His Majesty has barely spoken since the incident. He cares not for the usual pleasures and excitements. What thinkyou troubles him, Bartholomew? Bartholomew: Why, Edward, It would appear that His Majesty has become afflicted with melancholia. One would think a new, buxom lady would suit him? Edward: (slightly chuckling to himself) Oh, one mustn't speak of such matters, dear friend, 'tis much too soon. Bartholomew: Hmm – you're quite right, much too soon. The spotlight darkens on Edward and Bartholomew. A second spotlight appears on Richard who appears at the sullen King Henry VIII's side. Richard: Your Majesty – I've a brilliant solution to your melancholy, sir! Would the prospect of a new bounty stir the King from his mind? King Henry VIII looks at Richard, puzzled for a moment, before waving him off, and continuing on his march. Suddenly, Bartholomew, Richard, and Edward appear halting King Henry VIII, center stage. Edward: Your Highness, your aids have prepared a marvelous proposition for you, sir. Richard: Yes, Your Majesty! Have you given much thought as to obtaining a fresh lady-in-wait? Perhaps, someone you know well? King Henry VIII: (scoffs at them) Fahh – I've neither strength nor tolerance for such things. Bartholomew: But, sir, what of Lady Parr? King Henry VIII: (looks up, slightly surprised) Parr? Bartholomew: Yes, Lady Catherine Parr, Your Majesty. King Henry VIII: (eyes grow wide, stunned for a moment) L-Lady... Parr. Catherine Parr The stage goes dark, except for one spotlight that is highlighting King Henry VIII as he silently repeats, “Catherine Parr”. The Extras arrange themselves around the stage, staggered as we have entered the main hall of Court. The stage is lit in an orange/yellow hue, happy and warm.
End of Scene I Act II, Scene II King Henry VIII, still highlighted and repeating “Catherine Parr”, springs back into the scene, on stage left. Catherine Parr enters with 2 of her friends and they chatter together silently. King Henry VIII, surrounded by Richard, Bartholomew, and Edward, sees Catherine Parr and watches her for a moment before turning to his aids. King Henry VIII: (suddenly restored and energetic) Catherine Parr. Hmm... And what say you all, my most trusted aids, of this Lady Parr, hmm? Richard? Richard: (stepping forward to speak) She is a fine gentlewoman, Your Majesty, quite contained and contempt. Bartholomew: (stepping forward to speak) Yes, and her complexion fair and visage unmarked. King Henry VIII: (nodding, considering) Hmm, very well. Edward: (stepping forward to speak) Furthermore, Your Highness, Lady Parr is quite independently wealthy – a high standing gentlewoman, but well accustomed to court life. King Henry VIII: (nodding) Very well – but, is there none other whom, when faced with such a statute of feminine form, seek out such? Bartholomew, Edward, and Richard look to each other nervously before Bartholomew steps forward. Bartholomew: (slightly nervous, hesitant) I have heard tell, Your Majesty, that her heart does favour after another – one, Thomas Seymour. (slightly stammering) Brother of the-the late J-Jane Seymour. King Henry VIII stiffens for a moment upon hearing this new revelation. King Henry VIII: Ah. Edward: (stepping forward/in to save the situation, optimistic) But, Your Highness, do not doubt or trouble, for wouldn't it be quite something if Sir Thomas Seymour were to, unexpectedly and unfortunately, be called to the Spanish cost? King Henry VIII: (not quite understanding) Yes, it would... Richard: (attempting to make things clearer) Your Majesty, is there not business in Spain that would require a strapping gentleman, the likes of which Sir Thomas Seymour would compare? King Henry VIII: (just barely understanding) I suppose there may be – Bartholomew: (interrupting) There is! Perhaps you, Your Highness (slightly whispering) could send Master Seymour on a poignant mission, thus in his absence the gentlewoman's heart may grow towards a brighter source.
King Henry VIII: (happy, smiling, as he finally understands his aids) Ahh, excellent notion! Thomas Seymour enters from stage right â€“ Catherine Parr looks to him, smiling, and he turns her smile. King Henry VIII looks towards them both. King Henry VIII and Catherine Parr: (interrupting one another) Master Seymour! King Henry VIII and Catherine Parr look at each other, King Henry VIII smiles and Catherine Parr smiles. Thomas Seymour looks at Catherine Parr, in a sort of apology, and goes to King Henry VIII. Thomas Seymour: (bows his head before speaking) Good morn, Your Majesty. King Henry VIII: (confident) A good morn to you as well, Master Seymour. I'm overjoyed to have ruin into you as I have a very excellent proposition for you, Sir. Thomas Seymour: (interested, unaware) Oh, I shall do as requested of me, Your Majesty, with loyalty, duty, and vigilant excitement. King Henry VIII: (a hearty laugh) Wonderful, Thomas, wonderful! Come along and we shall disclose all details. King Henry VIII, Thomas Seymour, Richard, Bartholomew, and Edward all exit, stage right. Catherine Parr and her two friends, Elizabeth and Victoria causally walk center stage, silently chatting as we melt into the next scene. End of Scene II
Act II, Scene III Catherine Parr, Victoria, and Elizabeth stand together, center stage. The stage lighting is soft, a pink hue. Victoria: His Majesty, King Henry seems quite in high spirits this day, does he not, dear Elizabeth? Elizabeth: Oh, he certainly does, Victoria. (sneaking, aware) He seems to have set his eye upon a rose of the garden, has he not? (smiling, nudging Catherine Parr) Catherine Parr: (rolling eyes, yet smiling) Don't gab about such nonsense, you chatting Larks! Victoria: (chuckling to herself) Yes, Elizabeth, we mustn't talk of such things... As our Catherine has her heart set on her independence. Catherine Parr: Yes! I no longer must seek out what many gentlewoman my age must seek. Victoria: (confused) A husband? Catherine Parr: No, dear Victoria, I've already exhausted through marriage twice.
Elizabeth: (confused too) Money? Catherine Parr: Ha! Not of the sort – through my exhaustion I have been rewarded with financial independence of which may carry me to my final breath. Elizabeth and Victoria are confused and look to each other for answers. Catherine Parr giggles. Catherine Parr: Love! My heart may now seek what it has longed for since I was a young girl – reading fantasies of love and loss. Love! I now seek that almighty right which we are all privy too. Elizabeth and Victoria “ooh” and “aww” for a moment whilst laughing happily. Victoria: And, dearest Catherine, whom does your heart seek to fulfill that which you are sought after? Catherine Parr: (blushing, slightly embarrassed) Well – Elizabeth: (interrupting Catherine Parr, excitedly) 'Tis Thomas Seymour her heart pines for! Catherine Parr: Elizabeth, hush! One mustn't talk of such things in such an open arena. Victoria: (whispering, slightly) Oh, come now, Catherine, we know it to be true! Catherine Parr: (sighing, giving in, whispering) Yes, it's the truth. The one man whom my heart does so long for is … (looks out, towards the audience) Thomas Seymour. Catherine Parr freezes. The stage darkens, except for a single spotlight that highlights Catherine Parr. The stage clears except for Catherine Parr. End of Scene III
Act II, Scene IV The stage illuminates, in a green hue. Catherine Parr stands in the center. All is clear except for her and Thomas Seymour, who enters from stage left, seeking her out. Catherine Parr: (repeated) Thomas Seymour. (turning to face him as he enters) Thomas Seymour: (coming to her) Ah, good evening, Ms. Parr. (bowing slightly in front of her) Catherine Parr: (smiling) And a good evening to you. Thomas Seymour takes Catherine Parr's hand, kissing it in a grand gesture. Catherine Parr chuckles, but turns away embarrassed. Catherine Parr: You are too bold, Sir. Thomas Seymour: (chuckling to himself) And you too beautiful, Madam.
Catherine Parr: (smiling) Is that why you've summoned me here with such an air of urgency? To speak of my visage? Thomas Seymour: (taking Catherine Parr's hand once more, to hold) No, I'm afraid not. Catherine Parr: (noticing a change in Thomas Seymour's tone) What troubles you? Thomas Seymour takes both of Catherine Parr's hands, bringing them close to his chest, the two looking at one another. Thomas Seymour: I … I have been requested by the King to take leave to Spain. Once there I am to delegate over international proceedings and trade negotiations. Catherine Parr reacts to the news, looking down, then towards the audience, and back to Thomas Seymour. Catherine Parr: How long shall you be absent? Thomas Seymour: (slight pause) Indefinite leave. Catherine Parr looks up at Thomas Seymour, a parody of Bogart and Bergman at their finest. They stare into each others eye for a moment before Thomas Seymour gently kisses Catherine Parr on the forehead, looks into her eyes once more, then releases her and exits, stage left. Catherine Parr looks out to the audience before the stage goes dark – except for a single spotlight highlighting her, as we move into the next scene. End of Act II
Act III, Scene I The stage remains dark, except for Catherine Parr and her spotlight. Catherine Parr looks out, into the audience. King Henry VIII: (offstage, we only hear his voice) What say you, Lady Parr? Catherine Parr remains still, the stage dark. King Henry VIII: (offstage, repeating) Lady Parr? Lady Parr! Catherine Parr suddenly “awakens”, the stage illuminates in a green hue. King Henry VIII strides to Catherine Parr's side, awaiting her answer. Catherine Parr: (slightly absent) Do pardon my injudiciousness, Your Majesty. Would it trouble you to repeat your request? King Henry VIII: (proud, almost cocky) I requested, Lady Parr, your opinion on the matter of
becoming, if you so accept, my wife? Catherine Parr is stunned for a moment, mouth agape. Catherine Parr: (stuttering) I-I … I'm … Uh … King Henry VIII: (a tinge of anger/urgency in his voice) What halts your tongue from answering? Catherine Parr: (taking a breath, finding the words) I … Would it be too wrong me of to ask for a period of thought, Your Majesty? I must consult that highest gentleman, whom I have pledged my love and loyalty too. King Henry VIII: (a slight pause as he thinks it over, before nodding in agreement) Yes, I think it wise to do so, but do not keep this gentleman waiting long, dearest Catherine. Catherine Parr nods urgently, and then the stage goes dark, except a single purple hued spotlight focused on Catherine Parr. End of Scene I
Act III, Scene II Catherine Parr stands center stage, still illuminated by her purple spotlight. Catherine Parr looks out to the audience, then up to the heavens. Brings her hands together, she begins to speak/pray. Catherine Parr: (a strong steady, yet still slightly confused and torn voice) Almighty God … I have been asked to wed a King, whom I do not love. My logic disputes that it be good for kith and ken, countrymen and council. Though my heart disputes that is be of great misfortune – that I may meet world's end as my sister of name. What shall I do oh Lord? Catherine Parr waits for a moment, as if listening to a voice. Suddenly, Catherine Parr seems calmed, as she has received her answer, she straightens herself with a resolved air about her. Catherine Parr: I know what I must do … I … The stage goes dark, except for a single spotlight focusing on Catherine Parr, who is frozen, as the scene folds into the next. End of Act III
Act IV, Scene I The stage is arranged with all the Extras, King Henry VIII takes his place to Catherine Parr's side. A wedding is in progress – the alter and the Priest are in front of King Henry VIII and Catherine Parr. The stage is lit with a warm, yellow glow. The scene unfreezes and lights just as Catherine Parr speaks.
Catherine Parr: (strong and straight in stature, speaking with a determined tone) Lady Catherine Parr, do take King Henry the VIII, as my lawfully wedded husband. To have and to hold, in sickness and in health, for better or worse, for richer or poorer. I pledge my love and loyalty to him, till this day forward, till death do us part. Priest: As granted to me, by His Majesty, King Henry the VIII, and by God, I do so now pronounce you, Catherine Parr and King Henry the VIII, husband and wife. You may now kiss your bride, your Majesty. Catherine Parr and King Henry VIII share a quick peck. The wedding party cheers for them. The scene freezes once more as the next scene melts in. End of Scene I
Act IV, Scene II The scene is rearranged to that of the post-wedding feast. Catherine Parr and King Henry VIII are seated around their guest. Catherine Parr is seated nearest stage left. Stage left, there is a large, ominous portrait of Catherine Howard that is not covered by the stage lights, leaving it dark to the audience. King Henry VIII : (raising a goblet to Catherine Parr) To my bride and Queen – long live Queen Catherine! Catherine Parr smiles calmly to King Henry VIII and the rest of the wedding party – there is great chatter and excitement for a good moments. Suddenly, the scene freezes, the stage goes dark except for a spotlight highlighting Catherine Parr as she looks straight toward the audience. End of Scene II
Act IV, Scene III With the scene still frozen and Catherine Parr still highlighted, a second spotlight appears over the portrait of Catherine Howard, to the right of the portrait of Catherine of Argon. Catherine Parr looks towards the portrait, as if a whisper has caught her attention. Catherine Parr stares at the portrait for a long moment – a long, pregnant pause – before looking out at the audience. The stage fades to black. The curtains close.
Caramel Cake with a Cherry on Top Emily Powers Chapter 1 I was wringing my hands from the scalding hot, soapy dishwater when the telephone rang. The black dial phone was all the way across the kitchen on the red tile countertop, not far for a healthy young person, but not for me. I’m old. I won’t say how old, but if I told you I was around when the Dead Sea just started gettin’ sick, you’d have a good indication of how many years I got on me. Well now, I figured since it was 7:30 in the evening, it’d be ‘bout time for Evelyn to call. And that was her on the line.Waitin’ for me to pick up, say hello, and let her do the talking for the both of us. That Evelyn was a wonder. Why she could talk the ears off of a whole field of corn! Lawd a mercy. I reckon I don’t want to disappoint Evelyn, so I make my way towards that little telephone and finally reach it, and huff out a “hello.” “Grace? This is Evelyn. How are you?” “Oh. Fine. Just fine, Evelyn,” I say. “What’s on your mind this evening?” “Well . . . This time I got news. I mean big news.” She put emphasis on big, so I open my ears as wide as Dumbo’s. “You know that fair they have every year? The one on Main Street?” I tell her yes. “Well they done gone decided dat there ain’tgonna be no more Fairville, Georgia fairs! They’ve been sayin’ that they’ll have one more fair this year, but after that one, there ain’tgonna be anuther. So I got to thinkin’. This being the last fair and all, why don’t you enter that famous caramel cake of yours? The one you used to cook for Roy and Johnny? You could say you won
a blue ribbon from the county’s last fair. Now wouldn’t that be somethin’! You earning that big, silky ribbon and pinning it right on top a that cake. Course I do think it’s downright funny, maybe even ironic, that we live in a little town called Fairville, and we don’t have no fairs! That’s how we got the name Fairville in the first place. Why I remember hundreds of folks comin’ to our fairs. Now ain’t so much as a hundred that show up. Now das what I can’t figure out. They say that there’s just not enough people around to participate.” She pause to catch her breath, cuz she’s been blurtin’ this out awful fast. So I put in my two cents worth. “Well now, Evelyn. That’s no surprise to me. Fairville has seen its better days. Now it’s just tired. Just like me. Now I know yer trying to think of me in all this. I ‘preciate that. But Evelyn, I’m just too old for that. There’s no point to it anymore.” I pause and listen for a while to see what she’s gonna say. No answer. I continue. “I know we’re best friends, and you’re tryin’ to help me think of something other than Roy and Johnny. But sometimes you just gotta let things go. I mean you’ve been pesterin’ me for years about entering in that cake contest, but I just can’t. I can’t, Evelyn! It’s been 45 years since my husband, Roy, died and 15 years since my boy Johnny passed away. You know it’s been years since I cooked a caramel cake for anyone, even for myself. I’ve tried to forget what caramel even smells like, cuz it brings back memories of both of ‘em. And now all you got to say is “‘bake a caramel cake, Grace, so you can enter the county fair.’” Well, the answer is no! And I mean no!” I stop and catch my breath. It suddenly seems hot. Little beads of sweat start a beadin’ up on my forehead, and I reach for my red hankerchif out of the front pocket of my apron. Seem like forever there’s a silence. A silence that makes me shudder. Until I hear on da other line a worn out voice . . . “Grace . . . I just thought I’d ask one last time. I
guess it was sorta silly of me to even think about asking you ‘bout it. I’m sorry.” I hear a click on the line. I know I hurt her feelings, and got to come up with somethin’ fast to make up some kind of amends.I spit out the words like my mouth’s on fire. “Now, Evelyn. I didn’t mean to make you sore at me! Evelyn?” Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. She hung up on me. “Oh well,” I sigh. Sometimes she get all worked up over nothin’. I put down the phone and shuffle towards my favorite chair. It used to be Roy’s favorite chair too. That’d be the place he’d sit and tell Johnny exaggerated war stories ‘bout when he used to serve in the Navy during World War II. The place where he used to pull for the Red Sox baseball team and holler whenever Ted Williams stepped up to the plate and hit it clear across the stadium. Sometimes I’d be a workin’ in the kitchen when I hear a scream comin’ from the livin’ room. I thought baby Johnny had hit his head on the glass table, so I remember runnin’ in der like a chicken with its poor head cut off, and what do I see? Roy a jumpin’ like a bullfrog and hollerin’, yellin’ something ‘bout “‘Ted Williamsdid it again!’” His big chubby face was red and his eyes were as big as saucers, watchin’ that man run ‘round those bases. I swear. I sure do miss that now. He was nothin’ but a kid in a big man’s body. Since that happened, whenever I heard anuther holler comin’ from in der, I knew it was Roy. It wasn’t no baby Johnny gettin’ hurt. As a family, we didn’t have much, but all that really mattered was that we had each other. Now though, it was just me and this old chair that brought back memories that made me want to cry. I was so lonely. Even Evelyn, my closest friend, didn’t know how much.
Chapter 2 Next day I get up and head to the kitchen where I fix my coffee every morning. Back when Roy and I were happy newly-weds in the late ‘30s, I used to wake up to the
smell of hot coffee just off the stove. I’d follow my nose and find Roy pourin’ that heavenly aroma into my favorite mug, smiling a mile wide grin that made me want to hug and kiss him forever. Never even let him go. Once when I told him how I liked to fix my coffee in the mornings, he’d jumped up like a jack rabbit, run for a scratch of paper and a pen, and came back faster than Mr. Roadrunner in them cartoons. I said, “Honey, what are you doin’?” He said, “Grace, from now on, I’m gonna fix your coffee just the way you like it. It’ll be my way of showing how much I love you. Just give me what you want in it, and I’ll have it ready in a jiffy.” I smile and wipe away a few tears that seemed to pop out of nowhere underneath my puffy eyelids. It’s been 50 years since that day, and every morning I was sure to find Roy makin’ his “specialty coffee” (as he called it) for his “lovely, little wife.” Oh mercy! I’m not even sure God knows how much I miss that man.
Chapter 3 I remember it was a Sunday, the day of the annual Fairville Baptist Church picnic when I felt like the good Lord had finished all He had planned for me in this life. I figured I was just one of those people who just didn’t have good things naturally happen to them. Seemed like over the course of all these years, my family and me was still an underdog, the runts of the litter. Gram and Momma both were born into slavery. I suffered from cerebral palsy when I was born in 1896 and never been the same since. Grew up being called “black bookworm” cuz I liked to read so much, “Shaky Grace” cuz a my bad hand from the palsy, and many more I just don’t wanna remember. Lord knows I’ve seen my better days. So I wasn’t expecting anything special when I pulled in to the dirt parking lot of the church, my 1956 Chevrolet truck sputterin’ and
kickin’ up dust that could have challenged a Dustbowl storm. The church sign reads, “Fairville Baptist Church of St. John and the Holy Apostles of Jerusalem.” I think that cover everybody in dat title. No one important is left out for sure. I still can’t figure out though why them folks at the church don’t change dat name. It barely fits on dat piece of plywood. All da folks ‘round here call it Fairville Baptist. Anyways, I get out of the truck, snatch my dog-eared Bible and stomp towards the church. Service starts at 10:00 sharp, but I like to get there in late and slip in to one of the back pews where no one can see me less they turn ‘round their heads and really crane der necks like herons. I finally reach the steps and grunt my way up each one, hoping my knees don’t give out on me. Finally, I reach the top. My eyes adjust to the dim light and shadows inside dat drafty, old church, and I plop into the back row when Missus Sams begins to start playing the organ. It’s a wonder that woman can make them pedals and keys move like she do. I like to think that our organ player is da best in dese parts. The only person I know of who can play “Amazing Grace” (without no music), sing the words, and wave to people as they stroll in. She never does miss a beat. One of those gifts I reckon people get when der born, ‘cept I guess my gift of cookin’ was a short-term one. One that kinda expired like a can of sour apples. From where I’m sittin’, I can see the back of Missus Capurnica’s feathered, red hat with those poofy, white ostrich feathers a pokin’ out far enough to tickle the nose of her husband, Mr. John, sittin’ behind her. Why he sits behind her and not beside her I already know. That woman is nothing but a mean-hearted bully, always spoutin’ off to her husband how she want “dis and dat” and “what we havin’ for lunch?” She fat and ugly, and the words that spew out of that trap a hers make her an even uglier person. I feel so sorry for poor Mr. John dealing with that tiger of a woman. He just nods and never says a word, ‘cept “Yes, Capurnica. I’ll fix egg salad for lunch.”
Then I see Mr. Phillips. He likes to sit on the back row too like me cuz he usually falls asleep halfway into da service. He’s one of them ornery kinda folks. If you say nothin’ to him, he won’t say nothin’ to you, and das da way he like it. I don’t blame him. I guess I’m one of those folks too. Then there’s Missus Martin and her flock a kids. She must have got seven or eight of ‘em by now and look like she gone have anuther one. That Mr. Martin must have the patience of Job cuz all of dem so far have been girls. He don’t got no boys to play football or do “boy stuff” with. He just got a bunch of pig-tail headed, pink dressed girls. They is nice girls, real nice, but why Missus Martin wants one more to add to her flock, I don’t understand. Anyways, Mr. Taylor is our pastor. Nobody’s ever met a man like Mr. Taylor. Lawd a mercy! Let me tell you. Ev’ry Sunday he wears a oversized blue jacket and baggy gray pants that make him look like a wilted flower whenever he start sweatin’ during da sermon. He short and wears these big, black horn-rimmed glasses, and to complement his outfit, he’s got a long-purple striped tie dat looks like it’s ashamed to even be on da man. Since he don’t have no wife, he has to rummage through his closet, pick somethin’ out quick, and dash out da door cuz he usually late for his own sermon. Missus Sams finishes her hymn on da organ, and we all have our eyes affixed on Mr. Taylor. He tries to act bigger than he is since he so small ’n short. He straightens his shoulders, puffs out his chest a bit, and then smoothes his wispy, gray hair ‘fore steppin’ up to da podium. “Today we have a special guest with us. Come on up here, Johnny.” A little boy runs up them steps and turns to face the crowd. He doesn’t look more than eight years old. He’s got on brown, patched up britches, a plaid red shirt, and black lace up boots that are oozing with mud. Dat boy look like he hasn’t eaten a good meal in a long time. I mean a very long time. His cheeks are kinda sunken in and his
eyes are hollow, but different. They ain’t like any eyes I’ve seen in a long time. Black eyes that seem full of life, and maybe even a hint of mischief. “This here is Johnny, folks,” Mr. Taylor bellows out in his high-pitched voice. Johnny is an orphan. He’s stayin’ down in Newtown with his aunt and uncle for a while, but he’s stayin’ here in Fairville for ‘bout three days. He’s got a little job as a handyman workin’ for Mr. Jacob Nelson down da road. But he needs a place to stay for the time he’ll be here. Give him some food and shelter. He don’t ask for much, just a place to lay his head. He told me he’ll work for everything and earn his keep. Is der anybody here who want to lend him a hand for a spell?” I look ‘round the room and nobody says anything. Not even a hand raised up in the air. Everybody knows times is hard and nobody can afford anuther mouth to feed, ‘cept maybe Missus Martin, but even she don’t say nothin’. It’s one of those awkward silences where you can hear a pin drop and people start shiftin’ in der seats uncomfortably. “Well now. If y’all are interested in helpin’ Johnny, you can just talk to me at the picnic today and we’ll get that settled. Alright. You can sit down, son. Let’s open our Bibles to John Chapter 2 versus 1-15.” I’m in a haze during dat sermon. I keep staring at the back of that little boy’s head, wondering what thoughts is running ‘round in it. He must be thinkin’ we’re stuck up or somethin’ in dis town. I wouldn’t blame him none for thinkin’ so if I got datkinda welcome. People seem dat de don’t care ‘bout helpin’ him. Don’t care makin’ sure he don’t stay up too late at night. Don’t care his little tummy is rumblin’ fit to beat the band. Don’t care ‘bout him finishin’ his glass a milk. Don’t care if he doesn’t take his medicine to keep him healthy. I could go on and on. I guess I attribute that to my “motherly affection” I once had. But I thought I’d lost that after my boy Johnny died. Funny how you don’t think ‘bout them kinda things
‘til somethin’ happens and memories start floodin’ back. Come a floodin’ back as powerful as the waves that tossed and beat the sides of Noah’s little ark.
Chapter 4 `
I suddenly look ‘round and people start gettin’ up, heading towards the back door with their stuffed picnic baskets and fresh canned green beans. I’m the last one to get up outta my seat. Usually I am though cuz I take so long to get outta people’s way. My nose starts to run and I reach out and grab my hankie, which I keep in my black purse. It get all quiet when da last person heads outside. That’s when I hear a voice. “Grace!” It’s loud and clear. Somebody said my name. I whip around and turn my head faster than a hoot owl with my eyes as big as two full sized dinner plates. “Whose zat?” I say. No answer. The hair on my arms start gettin’ prickly and stand on end like they just been shot with some electricity. My heart’s poundin’. Poundin’ so hard it’s a wonder it don’t pop outta my chest. “Grace!” “There it is again!” “I want you to take Johnny home. You will be blessed in doing so.” “Blessed? What in da world!” I never been blessed with anything it seems like. The death of my family was when “being blessed” didn’t exist no more. Not to me anyways. I gotta get outta here. Gotta hide somewhere where no one is pesterin’ me ‘bout nothin’. Not ‘bout entering my caramel cake in da fair, and not hearin’ Mr. Nobody callin’ my name out in an empty church. I heave myself up and get outta dat door. Soon as I do, I stop in my tracks. The sky look funny. Dark, gray clouds begin rollin’ across and hide the sun from sight. The wind start blowin’ and a
chill rushes across the breezes of the air. I don’t feel so good. Dis don’t look like any ordinary storm. Seem like the church folks are thinkin’ the same thing. It’s like the wrath of God comin’ to get me and punish me for what I said, thinkin’ no one could hear me in the church. All of Missus Martin’s chillun got a jar of pickles in der hands dat they was gonna eat at da picnic. They runnin’ around, lookin’ at da sky and start yellin’ for their mamma to “run in da car and get home!” The wind blows harder and howl like a coyote. I hurry towards my truck. Missus Capurnica seems quite oblivious to da fact she’s in da middle of nature’s fury. While people is screechin’ and hollerin’, their arms full of watermelons and jugs of pink lemonade, that woman is sittin’ right in da middle of the churchyard about to take a huge bite of her husband’s egg salad. Just then, a bolt of lightning streaks across the sky, lighting up the place like a firework show. “Oh my goodness, John! Get the egg salad! Save the egg salad!” she yell. That woman jumps up like her bun’s on fire and dashes towards the car with poor Mr. John tagging behind her on her heels. I can’t hear what she sayin’, but she point at da sky and then at her husband. Knowing her, she’s probably already blaming that man for causing dis storm. Suddenly outta the corner of my eye I see a boy clutchin’ his Bible and holdin’ on to an old rope with a dog at the end of it. It’s Johnny. He standing there and people is rushin’ by him like he no more than a fly on da wall. Rain starts pourin’. Sheets of it in waves that splatter stinging water drops against people’s Sunday best clothes. “Johnny! Johnny!” Whose that callin’ him? Then I realize it’s me. I’m yellin’ for that boy like he’s my boy. Like everything depends on him. Like he’s my own. He turns his head around and rushes towards my truck, soakin’ wet, and dat dog seems like he’s ready to jump in my truck too. He finally reaches me.
“Johnny, I’m Grace. You can come home with me till
this storm’s over. Put your dog in da back of my truck and get in.” I spare my words cuz the rain is pelting my face and neck. Feels like bits of ice is being thrown at me by a couple of mean boys in a one-sided snow ball fight. He jump in the truck, and I get da truck hummin’ and step on the gas to get home. Everything’s quiet for a while, and then that boy opens his mouth, and I don’t get to hear no sweet sound of silence till three days later. Certainly is a gully washer. Isn’t it, Miss Grace?” I nod and say, “MmmmMmmm.” “You know I sure am glad you called me. See, I was just standin’ there thinkin’ it’d be nice to get to a home of my own and be under the bed covers on a day like this, or watchin’ a Red Sox game on da tee vee. My aunt and uncle don’t like me anyways. Say I talk too much for a boy my age. I’m eight years old and I like to talk to people, but it ain’t da other way ‘round. They just slap me on the ears and say, “You gotta work. Help us earn money. We don’t have no time to listen to your trap. Little boys like you is supposed to be quiet and listen to their elders.”Mr. Nelson is probably worser than my aunt and uncle though. First day I worked for him, he called me a ‘lazy, clumsy brat’ and beat me whenever I mashed my thumb against my hammer. I was fillin’ in for his other worker, and I will be until Wednesday. The other boy is sick, and I sure do hope he feel better soon cuz I don’t wanna hang ‘round Mr. Nelson no more. I reckon I’d get sick myself just listening to the man. One time I made the mistake of askin’ him if he yelled to that other boy as much as he did at me. I could tell I made a big mistake. Real big. He snatched a switch and swiped it across my bare legs. Never thought I’d felt so much pain in my life! As he was havin’ fun beatin’ me up, he scream at me, “You’re different! You’re a colored boy and that explains everything! All my other workers is white and
give me respect! You’re a no good squirt that enjoys riling me!’” I shudder and have a mental image of all this. I reach home, and he jump out and take his dog off the truck. We rush inside cuz it raining pretty hard, and dat dog bolt for the door. “Uh Uh, Johnny. You put him on da porch. I’m not havin’ no wet, scruffy dog in my house.” He tie him up to the rusty porch swing, and da dog climb up der and plop hisself on a pillow. Me and Johnny hurry inside. Now my house ain’t big, but it’s comfy and satisfies my needs, so I guess that’s all that matters. “Gee, Miss. Grace! This sure is a nice place!” He make it sound like he just walked into a fancy hotel room in New York City. “Oh. It ain’t much. Come on now. Take off your wet clothes, and I’ll run you a bath and fix you chicken soup. Alright?” “Okie dokie. Shucks, Miss Grace. You real nice! Reeeaaal nice!” he say, flashin’ me a toothy white smile. I try to hide a smile and act serious, but I can’t seem to make the corners of my mouth go down far enough to make a frown. It just don’t work. Well, Johnny comes out a the bathtub lookin’ like a fuzzy wool lamb. I made sure he wuzgonna stay in der till his finger tips start to wrinkle. The chicken soup is done, and he sits der and gobbles it up like a big, hungry pig. He get done and I’m sittin’ in my favorite armchair. “Ya know, Miss Grace. Tomorrow’s my birthday! I so excited. I’ll be nine years old! Nine, Miss Grace! My daddy used to say when I hit ten, I’ll be a man.” He puff out his chest like a rooster and strut and sit on da rug near da hot stove. He sprawl out and make hisself comfy. “Yaknow . . . My mamma used to bake me my favorite cake on my birthday.” “Oh? What was that?” “It was a big caramel cake with a cherry on top!” he
saylickin’ his lips like he can taste it right now. She’d have caramel runnin’ down da sides, and gosh it smelled heavenly. Nothin’ like it! Not in dis whole world has der been a cake dat smelled soooo good!” He shake his head like he can’t believe it. “Have you ever baked a caramel cake, Miss Grace?” I shift in my seat and try to look past him. Lord knows I can’t talk to Johnny face to face when I talk ‘bout caramel cakes. Just can’t do it. But I clear my throat and nod and barely whisper, “Yes. I’ve baked ‘em before.” “Well now. Isn’t datsomethin’?Ya know my mamma and yous got a lot in common. Course Mamma’s dead, but I like to think she’s bakin’ somethin’ special for someone up der in heaven. I bet John da Baptist or even Jesus would like a taste of her caramel cake!” I smile and chuckle to myself.
Chapter 5 Later dat night after he gone to bed, I’m stilsittin’ in da livin’ room thinkin’ ‘bout how he’s so excited ‘bout his birthday. All kids isdat way growin’ up. Even when I wuz a youngster I can remember buggin’ my mamma to fix me a caramel cake. She used to always put a cherry on top. I wouldn’t even blow out my candles till she plopped dat fat, juicy cherry right on top a dat cake. That made it official. Complete. Das da way I did it with Roy’s and Johnny’s birthdays. It was a tradition started by Mamma. “You gotta fix Johnny a cake, Grace,” I tell myself. “You got to.” “But I’m too old.” “Uh Uh. You been sayin’ dat for years. Now’s the time. Time to start sharin’ your gift. Make others happy.” I get up outta my chair and head towards the kitchen. Tonight I’m gonna bake a cake. For Johnny.
Chapter 6 Next mornin’ I get up feelin’ stiff and achy. I spent all night bakin’ dat cake. Johnny is up before me, and when I get up, his eyes are poppin’ outta his head. He so excited. “Today’s my birthday, Miss Grace!” “Yes, Johnny. I know. I got . . . I gotta little surprise for you,” I stutter. He follow me towards da kitchen. “Uh Uh. Dis is a surprise. You stay in your room and I’ll let you know when to come out. Okay?” “Alright!” He dashes toward his room like a Kentucky Derby race horse. I get da oven on and take out da caramel cake from da fridge. Then I stick it in dat oven till it get nice ‘n warm. “Okay, Johnny! Come on in here!” He rush in der, and I’m holdin’ that cake. He sit at da kitchen table without sayin’ a word. For da first time, he don’t say nothin’. For once, he’s speechless. “Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday dear Johnny . . . Happy Birthday to you!” I can’t believe it’s been fifteen years since dat song come outta my mouth. “A cherry on top! Das how Mamma used to make it!” He take a huge bite of it. “And it taste like Mamma’s too! It’s da exact same taste!” After eatin’ two huge slices of da cake, he sat der lookin’ full and content as ever. “Gosh, Miss Grace! Dat sure was good! Thanks a lot! Ya know, dis is gonna sound kinda funny. Did you ever know my mamma? Her name wuz Mary Applebee.” I think ‘bout it for a while. “Mary Applebee,” I say slowly, tryin’ to remember. Then it come to me. I do remember a Ruth Applebee and she had a daughter name Mary. Mamma used to work with Ruth as a seamstress for the sewing shop on Main Street. Always said Ruth was the best cook in town. Mary had one child, a boy. She got sick of
pneumonia and died. Dat was ‘bout four or five years ago. Seems like I seen Ruth Applebee’s name somewhere recently though. Somewhere. I’m real curious, so I get up and walk to da kitchen counter where I left my caramel cake recipe card. Johnny still talkin’. “Ya know. You oughta put dat cake of yours in da fair dis year. I’ve gottafeelin’ you’d beat out all da competition in dat category.” “Oh is zat so? I been told that for years,” I mutter under my breath. I reach da counter and my heart near ‘bout stop. In da bottom left hand corner of da recipe card is my writing. “Given to me by Ruth Applebee.” Since Mamma left dis recipe to me when she died, I put two ‘n two together. Dis was the same recipe Ruth must’ve cooked for Mary, Mary must’ve cooked for Johnny, and Mamma had cooked for me. That wasn’t no coincidence. I can be sure of dat.
Chapter 7 After dat, I got to thinkin’ ‘bout the fair. Johnny and Evenlyn both had been the ones who had gotten me into enterin’. So they wasn’t a bit surprised when I first saw a big fat, blue ribbon pinned onto my cake. “I knew you could do it, Miss Grace! Gee, you really showed ‘em up with that kindabakin’!” he say chuckling to hisself. Evelyn just give me a gentle smile and don’t say nothin’. She don’t have to. She already knew I could do it. I didn’t know it all along, but da Lord had it all planned out. All I had to do was trust in a young boy who showed me dat life is really sweet. Worth livin’ after all. And worth celebrating by eatin’ abig piece of caramel cake with a cherry on top.
Teenage Horror Story Rebecca Noel
Saturday morning. 10:23. You wake up excited about the day ahead of you; reading, internetting, and probably a Doctor Who marathon. You pick up your laptop from beside your bed where you left it when you finally went to bed at 2 am. You turn it on and hum to yourself while it boots up. Checking Tumblr is your first priority, but when you click on Chrome nothing happens. “Oh no, what’s wrong? This is terrible!” You think to yourself. You look down to the bottom right of your screen and see that the wifi isn’t connected, but that’s an easy problem to fix. Clicking the connection button, you begin to hum again, but stop short when you don’t see any wifi to connect to. You might freak out a little, or a lot, but that’s normal, right? You run downstairs to the kitchen. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost. What’s wrong?” Your dad laughs. “This is no time for jokes!” You are practically yelling. “The wifi is out!” “Oh yeah, its going to be down all day. The internet company needed to work on something.” You can’t believe what you’re hearing. You go back to your room dejectedly completely forgetting about eating breakfast. You sit on your bed fighting the need to cry. “You can do this,” you mutter to yourself quietly, “wait, I’m already talking to myself! Not good. How am I going to get through today?” You sigh and fall back hitting your head on the book you’ve been reading. You don’t even feel like reading anymore, so you put it to the side and murmur an apology, promising to read more of it later. You mope the entire day. You don’t come out of your room and your parents begin to worry that you’re sick. You ignore your friends when they text you asking why you’re not online. This is the worst and longest day you can remember. Not because you’re addicted to the Internet, but… yeah, you might be a tad bit addicted. After a measly dinner of one chicken finger and a handful of popcorn, you read until you finally fall asleep. Saturday morning. 10:23. You wake up excited about the day, but with a weird sense of deja vu.
One in a Million Emily Powers She stared at her reflection in the bedroom mirror with a fierce intensity that was almost frightening. Dark, hollow eyes stared back at her, glassy eyes now filling with clear tears brimming against her eyelids and forcing themselves over the edge like water rushing across a dam. She bent her head, black strands of thin hair falling across her pale face and concealing her despondent complexion now covered in gushing tears. Raising her head, she peered into the mirror once more with an angry gaze and clutched her bedroom dresser until her knuckles turned white. This picture of agony is seen daily in bedrooms, school bathrooms, and even locker rooms, but usually one doesn’t notice it because the person experiencing this inner distress remains silent. Why? The simple answer is insecurity – insecurities that range from personal, emotional, and physical anxieties that plague an individual’s mind like a disease. Like any disease, these uncertainties have symptoms, and a closer look will reveal the root of the problem. Even though it may seem quite easy to determine the causes of these unknown issues people endure daily, it is actually deceptively difficult. Of the millions of people enduring unspeakable suffering, young women are perhaps the most susceptible. Too often, teenage girls peer into their makeup compact mirrors and see someone other than their own reflection. A thin, physically fit high school athlete may instantly transform in the mirror into an overweight couch potato. This, however, is all an illusion of the mind that encourages girls of all ages to alter their looks to become more “physically attractive.” To achieve this goal, many young female teenagers resort to gagging themselves to induce vomiting, eating enormous amounts of food and then purging themselves of it, and even exercising vigorously to the point of exhaustion. These girls are eventually targets for eating disorders including anorexia nervosa and bulimia, disorders that provide lasting impacts that damage emotional and physical health. Women such as those described undervalue themselves and continue to become their own worst enemy, constantly attacking themselves until they either reach irreversible depression or commit suicide. So, how can we aid society’s female youth in a positive way? How can we reverse the damaging effects of low self-esteem and heal the scars of emotional turmoil? A simple practice answers this complex question. Be kind. A smile, an encouraging compliment, or a selfless act of love may be the most powerful weapons we have to fight against fear and hatred women willingly inflict upon themselves. What better way to enforce the concepts of gratitude, acceptance, and a positive self-esteem than by simply telling someone she is beautiful inside and out? One must understand that physical beauty is superficial and fleeting. It does not last indefinitely, yet an even more luminous beauty lies within one’s heart, a heart that beats to the song of life, love, and happiness. I am lucky enough to say that I have witnessed true beauty in its purest form. Women such as my mother and late grandmother serve as
examples and testimonies to the inward loveliness that exists in all young women. I can still remember the words my grandfather told me on behalf of my grandmother. As a victim of multiple strokes and lifelong diabetes, my grandmother was unable to utter the sweet words my grandfather once told me, â€œPretty is as pretty does.â€? These simple words produce an intensely powerful effect on the mind and heart of the individual fortunate enough to comprehend its meaning. Even the girl who aimlessly stares at her reflection with contempt deserves to hear these words. Words that speak life and hope flood the heart and drive away insecurities until no trace is found of their existence. The woman who confidently believes in herself is the shining star in a world encompassed by the darkness of doubt. She is the beacon of light that ushers in the young insecure women of today and guides them to the blessings of living with acceptance and grace for the future.
“I am a Statistic” Helen Taylor I am a statistic, and I’ve never been so proud. I share common traits with others who fall within a crowd. I am a statistic enrolled in online school. I left the public way of learning because kids were oh so cruel. I am a statistic I am a statistic who has had words thrown at me. “Bullies are usually victims of bullying.” Tell me, why was I voted most friendly? I am a statistic with scars that will never heal. I once coped a certain way to experience what I could not feel. I am a statistic
I am a statistic who has had words thrown at me. â€œBullies are usually victims of bullying.â€? Tell me, why was I voted most friendly? I am a statistic with scars that will never heal. I once coped a certain way to experience what I could not feel. I am a statistic Society accuses me of hurting others. Instead, I started a group for those of the same pain. I am a statistic with many assumptions behind my name. Proving all my statistics wrong is such a rewarding game. I am a statistic, and Iâ€™ve never felt so free. I refuse to let a measured number limit who I can be.
Second Chance Lauren Cain Her heavy footsteps were lost in the sounds of the everyday traffic. She kept her head low and her pace quick. She knew that, in order to be successful in her escape, no one must notice her. She knew that they all knew who she was. Keyword being was. She wasn’t her anymore. With every footstep, she was further and further from the life she’d always known. The day before had been just like any other. That very normality is what pushed her over the edge. Even the hour before her abrupt exit, no one even noticed she was acting different. They didn’t actually know what she acted like in the first place. She had sat down to “family dinner,” just like any other night. Once again, her “Father” had to take a business call. He was always preoccupied. Between terrorist attacks, elementary shootings, and the war in Iraq, her father was always busy. He had one job: to keep things in order. In order, she thought, you’d think this job would help him see how out of order his own daughter is. The first step outside of her house had been the hardest. Then, motivation had filled her and she moved on just as she had planned in her mind. Her house was built to keep unwanted people out. They had never thought about having to keep someone in. She had slipped off of that wretched land and was hit with a wave of freedom. She pondered for a moment what to do next, but nearly instantly decided to start running and see where her feet carried her. She pulled up her hood and pushed through the crowd. It’s better, she decided, to hide in plain sight. So, she ran. She moved and pushed and ducked. Every move she made was further from her past and closer to her own future. She hailed a cab and he drove her out of Washington, DC. That’s how she made it to Arizona. From
cabs to buses to hitchhiking, she made it out of state and out of sight. Through word of mouth, she heard that people were on the search for her. She couldn’t help but laugh at her father’s stupidity as he checked the ins and outs of DC… only DC. She finally made it to her destination: the middle of nowhere. There was a small gas station and grocery store and three houses. She knocked on the first house’s door and out popped a small, frail old woman. She asked about the houses. Only one of the houses was occupied, with the woman’s grandson. She asked how much for the other and the woman smiled and told her she could have it if she agreed to clean it up and help her run their little town. She agreed without a second thought. The woman handed her the keys, saying her name is Mama Tessie and to come on back for supper. She gave her a grateful nod and handshake and walked to her new home. She unlocked the door and opened it. The house smelled like rust and wood. It was furnished with nothing but a small recliner. She smiled a little and sat down in it. She let out a long exhale as she let the last small bit of her old self die out. With a fresh intake of the rusty woody air, she began her new life.
The Apple Pie Remedy Emily Powers “That’s it!” cried the young woman with a furious hiss. “I’ve had enough with all your moping, carrying on, and hullaballoo. What makes you think I’d ever remarry you even if we did get divorced? What kind of question is that? The point is to get divorced, and if you keep me waiting here for any moment longer with all your apologies and nonsense, you can forget it! Do you hear me, Richard? Richard?!” “I hear you, Maggie,” sighed Richard with desperate futile attempts to calm her rage-filled outburst. “I thought this marriage would work out, Maggie. Honest to goodness I did, but I guess I should’ve known better. You bein’ a city girl from New York, and me bein’ a poor farmer from Tennessee, I should’ve expected to have a mismatched marriage.” “Hah! Mismatched? It’s more like incompatible! There is no reason in the world why a sophisticated woman like me could have been desperate enough to take you as my husband! What a fool I was! To think that I would work my fingers to the bone as a seamstress in a dusty shabby old shop in nothing but flat, open land with angry, menacing tornadoes. A place like Kansas! What would Mother and Father say if they found me in such menial, low labor and dirt-poor poverty! My father would surely arrest you and condemn you to jail the rest of your life! But, I have a heart, Richard! Believe it or not, I have one, unlike you! Yours has gone cold like frozen beef in ice! What a fool I was! What a fool!” Richard sinks into an old wooden rocking chair and covers his head with folded hands. His eyes appear weary. His curly hair is dripping with sweat and his body trembles with anxiety. Suddenly, he rises and peers at Maggie with an intense passion. “When I first met you, Maggie, I couldn’t take my eyes off you. I thought a poor man like me would never see such a beautiful woman like you. I saw you in Nashville in an opry, I believe. Your sweet voice still rings in my ears with those high trills and lovely sweet words about love that never died. You had me transfixed, Maggie, like a spell. I guess that’s what got me the courage to ask you to marry me and strike up a fortune in California. A fortune in big blocks of gold as big and wide as timber logs. Obviously that didn’t happen, though. We ended up in Kansas. I ran out of money ‘cause you spent it on frilly expensive
things we couldn’t afford, but just because we’re poor and low on funds doesn’t mean I still don’t love you. We’ll eventually find a way to move to California, I promise. Won’t you believe me, dear?” “Believe you?! You expect me to buy into that fancy speech about love and finding our fortunes like magical dreams in a crystal ball? You fool. I’m waiting no longer. I’m getting divorced, and I’m doing it today. If you dare stop me, Richard, I swear I’ll never forgive you as long as I live.” Maggie strides across the wooden floor, quickly reaching for her sequined silver-lined purse and hurrying outside in blustery, cold weather. Richard senses he’s given up and sulkily heads out the door with his tattered coat firmly wrapped around his thin frame. Maggie and Richard reach the judge’s office and enter a rickety shack with a sign posted above the door reading in faded black letters, “Judge Morris is In.” Maggie approaches the judge’s desk in quick, fluttery steps while her husband stands quietly beside the back door, his hands silently wringing with subdued anger. The judge sits at his worn desk, leisurely smoking his pipe and enjoying the sweet aroma of puffy white smoke clouds swirling about his bushy unkempt mustache like dirt clods disturbed by a galloping horse. However, Maggie’s agitation and piercing dark eyes stare at Morris with the epitome of absolute contempt. Sensing this, Morris suddenly lifts his muddy boots off his desk and rises, taking off his hat with utmost respect. “How do you do, Maggie? My! You sure do look fine today! Say, is that a new dress?” “No, Mr. Morris. This is a dress I had to make myself. It’s a wonder my weary fingers haven’t broken off with the seamstress work I’ve done since arriving from New York. Richard here has no compassion for my poor nerves, nor my physical state that is unstable as it is. My poor health won’t allow it. This dusty air has ruined my opera voice and my youthful appearance. Won’t you please grant me a divorce from Richard? I will take a train ticket straight to New York and never return to this barren wasteland. Please do as I ask, Mr. Morris. There’s no time to waste.” Mr. Morris is visibly concerned and nervously glances at Richard. “Is this what you want, Richard? Y’all looked so happy together whenever I saw you in town. I never thought there was anything wrong.” “Yes, Mr. Morris. Please divorce us,” Richard sighs. “Alright. Let me find the divorce papers.” Morris rummages in a messy drawer and emerges with a white paper with a “Certificate of Divorce” stamped across its center. He takes it and proceeds to
read the terms of divorce out loud. Maggie proudly nods and appears satisfied whenever Morris mentions the word divorce. She glances at Morris with a sneer spreading across her red lips. Morris finishes reading and gives a pen to Maggie for her to sign the document, permanently separating her from her life of poverty to her new life of sophistication and luxury in New York. She quickly signs her name and thrusts the pen at Richard who quietly scratches an X on the signature line. “Well that seems to settle everything. I’m sorry we couldn’t meet on better terms today, Maggie and Richard. It’s a shame going through this divorce business. Breaking up a marriage ain’t no fun a ’tall. I wish you all the best, though.” He nods politely to both of them. “Life will be so lonesome without you, Maggie,” Richard sighs with melancholy in his voice. “I could always find you fixin’ me an apple pie after I’d come home from work. I’d sit in my rocking chair and just breathe in the heavenly aroma of baked goodness, baked by the woman of my dreams. What better way to say “I love you” than to fix an apple pie to fill a man’s empty stomach? Ain’t no better way than that, don’t you agree, Mr. Morris?” “Absolutely!” Morris pats his enlarged stomach in a satisfied manner. “It’s been said the best way to reach a man’s heart is through his stomach, and I know that’s the truth! My wife Rachel makes me the best darn applesauce cake in these parts!” “Well, you’ll just have to do without my cooking, Richard. I won’t be here, remember? I’ll be in New York with all the apple pie I could want, and I wouldn’t even have to bake it on my own now? Would I?” Maggie defiantly crosses her arms across her chest and scurries toward the door in an animated, frenzied manner. Suddenly, she turns around and looks intently at Richard. “Richard, did you really enjoy my apple pies? Were they really that good?” “You doubt me, Maggie?” Richard asks surprised. “Why your apple pies are fit to win a dozen blue ribbons at the county fair, no questions asked! Mr. Morris, I swear, that woman standing right there is a master baker of anything. I bet you she could even make dirt taste good!” Mr. Morris laughs heartily, making his fat cheeks blush a velvet red. Maggie stands awkwardly transfixed by Richard’s confidence and sincere words. “Maggie, won’t you come home and fix me one last apple pie before you leave me for good? I could shore use some sweet pie to fill me up and remind me of your sweet spirit, sweeter than the sugar you pour into that mixin’ bowl of
yours. Come on, honey. This is just a misunderstanding. We got angry, had our quarrel, and now we gotta settle things. Please, Maggie. Won’t you come home? For me? For dear Richard?” “Alright! Alright! I suppose it was just a mix-up anyway. I said things that weren’t true about you, Richard. I’m sorry. You make me feel special everyday. I declare! I didn’t even know you liked my pie that well! Makes me want to enter it in that fair! What do you say, Richard? Will you forgive me? I promise to always respect you and not be such a spendthrift. We’ll eventually collect enough money to head out to California. Try our fortunes at sifting for gold! What do you say, Richard? Won’t you marry me again, dear?” “Why of course, Maggie!” Richard yells ecstatically. “You don’t even have to ask me!” Richard suddenly embraces Maggie, lifts her off the floor, and twirls her about the judge’s office like a fluttering dandelion in a warm breath of summer air. After a few moments, the couple stands before the judge looking bashful, but content. Mr. Morris chuckles and appears tickled to death. He shuffles across the room, grinning uncontrollably and reaches for the “Certificate of Marriage” lying in an adjacent drawer beside his desk. The couple signs their names, thank the judge, and hurriedly cross the room chattering about apple pie and their hopes and dreams for the future. As they leave, Mr. Morris gazes out the dusty window at the couple now heading towards Martha’s, the local restaurant across the street. “Like I always say,” Morris says approvingly, patting his bulging plaid waistcoat, “Apple pie does big things for the stomach, but even bigger things for the soul. It not only warms the inside, but also the spirit.”
Revolution Rebecca Noel Chapter One This isn’t a story about love and loss and humanity. It’s about pain, pain, and more freaking pain. This is about real life, not some romantic movie. There is no happy ending; those don’t happen in real life, especially not my life. I’m willing to share it with you if you have time. Make yourself comfortable… no not that chair, it’s mine. Sit over there. A long time ago, far far away there lived a little girl… I’m kidding it was 13 years ago and about 20 miles from here. The little girl was me. I was 12 years old. I kissed Mommy goodnight and Daddy scooped me into his arms and carried me up the stairs to put me to bed. We were all laughing and everything was perfect. That was the last time I saw either of them smile. I slept soundly that night. I dreamed one day I’d have my own perfect family with my own beautiful little girl and we would laugh and love each other. It would be perfect. A noise woke me up early in the morning. I carefully stepped out into the hallway and saw a tall hooded figure descending the stairs. I followed, but he was gone when I got to the top of the stairs. “Amelia!” Daddy called my name and I knew something was wrong. I ran to his room and saw Mommy lying peacefully. Then I saw the blood. My eyes went wide and and Daddy called me over to him. He was also lying down, but he didn’t look peaceful. “Ames, I love you so much. Be safe.” He grasped my small hand and I saw the life leave his eyes. I didn’t cry. I couldn’t. Once the shock wore off, a rage that I had never experienced filled me and my childhood was over. I went from a little girl with no worries to an adult in one night. I was going to avenge my family. I knew I had to disguise myself so the police couldn’t find me as easily. I went to the kitchen and chopped off my beautiful long blonde hair. It didn’t look great, but it didn’t look terrible. I assumed that’d be enough for now, so I packed a small backpack of necessities and left. As I was walking out of the house, I looked down and noticed a small triangle carved into the right bottom corner of the front door. It must be the sign of some gang or something! (I read a lot of mystery
books as a kid. Don’t judge me). While I was examining the door, I heard a noise, like a person, but mixed with a growl like a nonperson. I started to run, and I didn’t stop for a very long time. I began researching desperately to find something about that triangle. I did find a door making company whose symbol was a simple triangle, but nothing about them engraving it on their doors. I eventually came to the conclusion that that company made our door, though I never actually believed myself. (I’ve always been a teensy bit stubborn). So, a few months later, I started hearing about this nine year old genius psychopath. (Of course, at the time no one knew he was a psychopath). He came up with this plan to stop hunger, build homeless shelters, create jobs, and solve pretty much every problem America has ever had. It was crazy good! One day I was watching an interview with him and I noticed his necklace for the first time. It was a simple triangle, exactly the same size as the one on my door. I knew it was him. Don’t ask me how I knew, I just… did. I also didn’t know why, but I intended to find out soon. The rage I hadn’t known could get any stronger doubled in size. I swore to avenge my parents and know I knew how. Chapter Two Where are you going? There is no intermission. Sit your butt right back down. You said you had time for a story and you’re not bailing on me now! Continuing… When I was 14 I found a small group of people who had also been wronged by this little boy. By the time I was 15, I was the leader of this group. The week after I turned 16, he was given a minor role in the government. That soon turned into large role. The higher he got in the government, the larger my group grew. We became outlaws. People called us ‘the rebels’, like in Star Wars. It was pretty exciting stuff… except when I was being shot at. It was hot and sunny out. I couldn’t hear much over the gunshot. We obtained our weapons illegally and some weren’t in great shape. I had one of the better guns, and it still wasn’t good. I noticed my soldiers were beginning to retreat. “Don’t retreat!” I shouted at them, “Get back here! Nobody retreats until until I say retreat get it?!” Then there was pain. It originated in my shoulder, but I hurt all over, There was yelling, but I couldn’t discern who it was or what they were
saying. I woke up several hours later in our safe house, feeling some ridiculous amounts of pain. And apparently getting shot gets you bedridden for three weeks. And in those three weeks, the boy managed to become dictator of America. The freaking dictator! What happened to the democracy and crap? The boy’s power grew everyday. He was now 14 and smarter than ever before. The American people loved him. He hadn’t even hit puberty for god’s sake. I had yet to meet him in person, but he talked about me a lot on TV. It felt cool being famous. No one asked me for my autograph or anything, but that’s mainly because I’d be arrested if I just decided to take a stroll down Main St. My 17th birthday was coming up. This boy a couple years older than me, Rowan, was going to take me somewhere to celebrate. I didn’t see why it was such a big deal. Turns out it was a very big deal. I was nervous. I’d never been on a date before. I didn’t own any dresses, so I put on my nicest pair of jeans, my Guns ‘n Roses t-shirt, and ran my hand through my short, blonde hair. We got to the stairs to leave the safe house at the same time, so he took my hand and we walked out. We continued to hold hands until we turned a corner down the street and I was attacked. Hand cuffs were painfully slapped onto my wrists as a man handed Rowan some money. The reward for turning me in. He didn’t look happy about doing it, but I suppose he was just hiding it. He kissed me on the cheek, apologized, and walked away. I stared in disbelief. I was fucking caught. Because I trusted someone. Because I trusted him. After that, I didn’t think my birthday could get any worse. I was way wrong. Chapter Three How do you feel about popcorn? I really want some right now. Why are you looking at me like that? I’ll get back to the story in a minute, geez calm down. *10 minutes later* Oh my god this is good. Okay, where’d I leave off? Right after I was so rudely abducted thanks to Rowan, I was taken to ‘The Mansion’. That’s where the not-so-royal royal family lived. I was roughly pushed along until we reached what I guessed was the basement but doubled as a dungeon. When I wasn’t being tortured for information, I had it pretty easy, at least compared to the last few years. I had my own bathroom in my cell and I was allowed to paint on the three stone walls. I was tortured almost endlessly for 337 days
until it just stopped. I didn’t know why until one year, 10 months, and four days after I was painfully pushed to the floor of my cell for the first time. I was sitting on the floor in the back right back corner with my chin resting on my knees. I heard footsteps coming close, but I assumed it was a meal. I had no sense of time even with the window letting in a small amount of sunlight, but nope, not a meal. It was Rowan. My vision turned red and I shot up so fast I was lightheaded for about 30 seconds. “What are YOU doing here? Get away from me!” I spat in his direction. Was I hallucinating? Wouldn’t be the first time, but it was never him. He just stood there with a sad look on his face, not saying anything. Eventually, I opened my mouth again, and what came out wasn’t mean as he deserved. “Rowan! Answer me! What. Do. You. Want?!” “William. My name is William. The resistance fell several months ago and I’ve come to help you.” I was shocked, but I recovered quickly. “I don’t need your help, William. Leave.” “Obviously,” he said sarcastically pointedly looking around my cell. “Okay, you might have a point about that, but I don’t need your help.” Dang. How is he always able to calm me so easily? It’s not fair. I need to be mad at him, but all I can do is smile. “It’s your fault I’m here in the fir… Wait. You don’t mean William like his brother William, do you?” I had never seen his brother, but I always thought he’d look like him and be just as evil, but not smart enough to act on it. Turns out he is as smart, just not evil. And also extremely attractive and standing in front of me right now. “Surprised it took you that long. The lack of war and blood down here must be dulling your wits.” “My wit is perfectly fine, thank you!” I was angry again. Why didn’t he tell me? I’d better scare him off before he calms me down again. I lunged at the bars in front of me and reached through to grab the front of his shirt. “Now tell me what you want before I rip your freaking head off!” “I have a plan,” he said and 20 minutes later I found myself agreeing to marry him. It took some convincing, but three weeks later I was finally let out of my cell. I went outside first thing, the first time in almost two years. William and I were sitting in the garden on that first day out. “I always loved you, you know. My brother, he was just, I couldn’t say no.” He was quiet for the first time since he came to my cell three
weeks ago. “Forgive me if I find that hard to believe.” I joked, trying to keep the tone light. He didn’t reply, so I continued more seriously, “Hey, I know. It’s alright. I understand how he can be.” William smiled sadly and kissed me on the cheek. The day of our wedding arrived several months later and it was a pretty marvelous day. (That has nothing to do with this story though. It’s our wedding night that matters right now.) After the party was over, we walked together up the stairs to our room. We were nervous about the coming hours, and we were quiet and solemn. When we reached our room, William closed the door and pulled me into a tight hug. “I love you so much,” he whispered into my ear, “please be careful.” I nodded and he let me go. I took off my dress and changed into black sweatpants and my favourite purple sweatshirt. I pulled a small six inch dagger from the closet and tucked it into the waistband of my pants. William hugged me again and said he’d see me in a few minutes. I walked down the hall trying not to look suspicious, but I’m not sure it worked. I found the door I was looking for and entered the room. It’s occupant was sleeping, so I woke him up. I knelt down on one knee as he stood up. “Ah, Amelia. You’ve done what I asked? My dear brother William is dealt with?” I nodded and let a tear fall down my face. “Good work. We will need a reward for your loyalty to me.” “Actually, sir, I already have an idea.” I said while I slowly reached into my waistband and pulled out the dagger. I stood, so I was almost tall as him. (That little kid grew fast once he finally hit puberty.) In his moment of confusion, I stabbed him, exactly duplicating the wounds given to both my parents. I’ve killed many people over the years, but that death was by far the most satisfaction I’d ever gotten from a kill. I never called it murder, because it wasn’t. What he did to my parents was murder; what I was doing was exterminating vermin. As he gasped for breath he managed to stab his own knife deep into my arm. I cried out as William ran into the room with a guard right behind him. He saw that I was hurt and went to catch me immediately. I looked him in the eyes and stabbed him in the stomach. “That’s for being an idiot and turning me in in the first place!” I yelled. “Coulda had this done six months sooner.” I finished under my breath as I pulled my dagger back out. If all went well, the wound wouldn’t be fatal. I actually really did love him, but he’s so
stupid sometimes. I guess, all guys are like that, though. I was losing a lot of blood and my vision was beginning to blur. I saw two vaguely familiar people, one male and one female, standing in the corner of the room. I turned to see them more clearly and one of them, the male, spoke, “Amelia.” They were smiling and telling me they were proud of me. And suddenly I remembered! I managed to gasp out, “Mom… Dad,” before I blacked out. Chapter Four Alright, we’ve reached the last leg of my story. This is it. The end. The grand finale! I woke up in the hospital. I don’t know how many hours or days later. I never asked. I had IVs in my arm and one of those stupid gown things adorning my scarred body. My nurse immediately began hovering and I had to yell at her before she finally backed off. But, then again, I’m usually yelling, so I didn’t have to do much. I turned on the news to find out that people were celebrating in the streets and throwing parties. There was to be an election for president and according to the interviews, I was the number one choice. It was almost surreal. I thought back to when I saw my parents. It wasn’t the first time I had ever hallucinated, but it felt like so much more than that. Like it was actually them. I was pulled out of my thoughts when the door opened and in walked… well, rolled considering he was in a wheelchair, William. He was smiling, so that was a good sign. He rolled over to my bed and stood slowly. “Whoa! What’re you doing?! You’re gonna die or something!” I shouted. He ignored me and climbed into my bed to sit beside me. “Oh, so you mean stabbing me wasn’t supposed to kill me?” “Of course not,” I scoffed. “I knew what I was doing.” We laughed together for a moment and then both quieted down. He took my hand and we just sat there breathing each other in until his doctor found him and yelled at him to go back to his own room because he wasn’t going to heal unless he stayed still. Several days later we were both released. I was kept longer than I technically needed to be for psychiatric issues. (Whatever that means. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with me.) I declined the offer of president, but William gladly accepted. He was a fantastic leader and got the economy back on track and repaired relations with other
countries quickly. I, of course, was a huge help. He was in office for four years and then retired from politics. In the years that followed, we found out I couldn’t have children, his parents died, and then we were turned down by the adoption agency because I am slightly psychotic. (Which is totally ridiculous. I did save the world, didn’t I?) We have accepted our fate and we are learning to live with it. I wouldn’t say our lives are happy by any stretch of the imagination, but we have each other and we’re managing most of the time.