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IQ Academy


The Glitter Pen Thief By Anna N My seven year old self would be best described with words like sassy, or perhaps precocious. I was quite intelligent for my age; the problem was, I knew it. I always showed off during class, mimicking Hermione Granger by throwing my hand up and bouncing in my seat, everytime I knew the answer to a question. I was the best tether-ball player in my class, and winning the match against the best girl from Mrs. Mallards class, well, that was leagues better than winning the superbowl. My dreams for the future included raising miniature piglets, being a detective or a spy, and never ever getting married. All in all, second grade was going perfectly until that one fateful day when everything changed.

"WHO STOLE MY GLITTER PENS?!" Now, I should probably explain: everytime a student did something worthy, we would get a green slip of paper which would then be placed in the little glass jar at the front of the room. If you put one of those next to a hundred dollar bill on the ground, I probably would have picked up the green slip first. To me, it was like a green golden ticket. Why? Well, because every afternoon before the bell rang Mrs. Bronson would pick just one emerald paper out of the jar, and the winning student would have the container of gel pens for the entire next school day. This lucky winner could use the pens on any assignment, every assignment! Even math tests! To a seven year old, this was big. On one of the many momentous occasions when I received the pens, they disapeared. Poof! They were gone, was almost reduced to tears. I finished my math with the shimmery pink pen before scampering off to eat lunch and play tether-ball. When I came back, the pens were no where to be found! Naturally, after searching the classroom to no avail, I launched a full scale investigation of the event. Unfortunately my teacher wasn't exactly keen on me bringing in my fingerprint powder to school. She said it would make a mess and accusing other kids would, "disrupt the learning enviornment". I decided to take the matter into my own hands and catch the culprit red handed. Things became personal the following day. The criminal had returned the pens after school! I came to the obvious conclusion that the culprit just didn't want me to have them. The thought of a guilty consciounce or simple misunderstanding never crossed my mind. The treachery made me boil with anger, and I furrowed my little brows, glaring at my classmates. My resolve was strong, I would find out who did this, and they would pay. It was time to make to a plan. My best friend forever Olivia and I did our research; we consulted absolutely every Nancy Drew novel we had ever read. For me, this was quite an extensive lists. We took notes in my diary and locked it up tight when we were finished. The 2|Page

flimsy little golden key to my secrets was hidden in the foot of one of my pig stuffed animals, and of course Olivia was sworn to secrecy. The results of the research were clear: Olivia and I needed to have a stakeout. We made lists and collected the necessary supplies. I put together a bag with everything we needed plus my spy kit, just to be safe. The bag went into my cubby and Olivia and I shared a secret smile before biding our time, waiting for the perfect time. That moment came not two weeks later when another one of my numerous slips was chosen. I snatched the binoculars, extra snacks, cherry juice boxes and my spy kit out of my cubby before lunch. Instead of sitting on the outside tables with the rest of our friends, Olivia and I settled ourselves surrepticiously behind a big white pillar close to the classroom. Then we waited. And waited. And waited. The hour long break seemed like an eternity! Despite my numerous, increasingly insistent protests, Olivia left her position to go the bathroom. What kind of spy does that?! An hour later, there was still no suspicious activity outside of the classroom door, and no movement inside the dark classroom. The area surrounding the classroom was clear of any children lurking around. Eventually the bell rang, and with solemn faces Olivia and I returned to the classroom. The pens were in the right corner of my desk, exactly where I left them. This was a small consulation, I was glad to be able to use them, but catching the thief was in the forefront of my mind. I was convinced they would have struck again! Being wrong did not sit well with me. I of course didn't give up, I knew I was right and no one could convice me otherwise. Someone in the class had a vendetta aginst me and I needed to know who. The stakeouts continued absolutely every single time I got the gel pens, to no avail. We even resorted to questioning the other students in our “interrogation room� also known as the hall closet. Unfortunately, the thief was never found. My little dreams were crushed, and by the end of the year, I had decided I really didn't want to be a detective.


Filed Under M --Olivia G, Magician and Juggling Extraordinaire.

Closed eyes. Deep breath. Open the cabinet. Life, Early. Brief flashes of birthdays, scraped knees, trips to the park, playing with my sisters, sneaking between the rooms at night and crawling into my sisters’ beds to draw pictures, Christmas mornings, hugs and kisses, bedtime prayers, lots of laughs, lots of love. Close that file, not enough material. Life, Middle. I see myself more clearly now. I’m reading, I’m singing, I’m dancing…It’s a whirlwind, hard to follow. Beach, sky, home, grass, church. Digging holes, picking up writhing worms, counting bug bites, painful sunburns leading to peeling arms and noses, giggles, smiles, playing with neighbors, hiding from green beans. A flood of life! Too much, too much! Breathe! I slip out of my brain as easily as I slipped in, shutting off the tide of memories like turning off a faucet. This is going to be harder than I thought. It’s time to reorganize. I better get to work archiving things I don’t use as much, updating the system, re-filing; making sure everything is accurate and systematically recorded. This might take a while. But I might find some good material in the process. Life, Recent. Things are only a little clearer here, like watching a movie in fast forward. I see myself reading in my bed. There I am climbing a tree! Ooh, look, there’s my first time staying home alone! And there he is! Parker! The best birdie in the world! According to the transcribed thoughts in the videos’ descriptions, he’s never far from the front of my mind. What’s Parker doing? Listen to my baby, singing up a storm… Does he have

enough food? He needs a new toy! Better clean his cage soon… And then there’s school work. I see myself at my desk typing, staring into the distance, twiddling my thumbs. The knowledge gained is filed elsewhere-- under K for know. Questions and opinions formed in a sub-file within K, chronologically and alphabetically organized, little references in the margin directing me to memories. I casually look at one of these questions. “Why does Big I wear a hat and shoes? Is he going to a party?” Reference to: Life, Early: pre-k to first grade, handwriting. I can archive some of these…But later, I’m into memories right now, looking for memoir topics. 4|Page

All my memories are in third person, like I’m a bystander casually looking in on someone else’s life. Better yet, a reader lost in someone else’s story. I even know why -- these are just memories, glimpses into history. Feelings are filed under “Emotions, past.” I can tap into those though, and superimpose them over the images to make it more life-like. Maybe that will give me an idea for my memoir. Whoa!! Suddenly these aren’t just home videos-- they mean something. What’s this? Zoom in, brain, would you, please? Thanks. This wasn’t too long ago, I can tell by the date approximation in the top left corner. I’m sitting in my bed, slumped over a notebook. A green pen is in my hand, slowly moving across the paper in smooth, liquid motions. I watch my hand create loops and dips on the page. I’m writing. Maybe there’s something in this worth writing a memoir about. Where’s the audio file? Ah, here it is, waiting for me in the next drawer down. In the images I’m bringing my pen to my mouth. I don’t chew on it, just press it against my teeth, making it open and close rapidly. Click-click-click-click-click. Then I drag it across my braces. Tck-tck-tck-tck-tck. The sound and the vibration against my teeth are apparently helping me focus, or at least that’s what the notes say. I touch the pen back to the page, and write some more. Turn the page, write a little more. And then bring the pen back to my mouth, repeating the same ritual. Click-click-click-

click-click, tck-tck-tck-tck-tck. Write a little more. Click, tck, write. Click, tck, write. Over and over again. The image suddenly changes. I’m sitting at a desk, typing away. I look over my own shoulder and see the words are slowly forming a story. Or is that really me? My hair is longer than that, and when did I get all those wrinkles? That’s not my desk. It’s too big. That’s not my basement; it’s a smaller room full of book shelves. On one shelf is a series of titles I recognize as my own, as of now, unwritten ideas. It’s definitely me. What is this glimpse doing here, under M? This should be in F, for future. Or maybe D, for dream. No, it would be best in R-sub-f. For Reality, Future.


Entering the World by Shelby C It was a dark, gloomy April day. The cold nipped at our nose and the rain drops trickled down my window. I was anxiously waiting for my precious baby brother to enter this world. My nervous mom sat in the front seat uncomfortably. She looked like a basketball and she was ready to explode. She was a week past her due date of April 1st. We dramatically arrive to the hospital, we made our way to the hospital room that was organized and laid out for my mom to deliver this baby boy. The smell of the hospital was horrific; it was a sterile, sick, wicked smell that made you want to gag. I was still anticipating the arrival of my little sibling. I began to slip away and daydream about the last nine months that had whizzed past us--the early fear of miscarriage and frantic ultrasounds, all the exotic cravings my mom had, the uncontrollable moving my brother made, and how my mom’s belly grew gigantic as the time went on. In the end she began to waddle and she looked like a duck. My mom’s husband use to call her a Butterball turkey because she was so oversized. My day dream abruptly ended because of what was happening around me. The nurse was hooking my mom up to monitors, and injecting her with labor inducing medication. As minutes began to fly past, she began to moan in pain as her contractions got stronger. She barked at us to keep quiet and to let her grip our hands. As she did this, our fingers would turn dark purple and looked like they were about to fall off. Six long, intense hours later dragged past us like a turtle. My spine was tingling with anticipation. The professional looking doctor came meandering in our room and eagerly checked my mom’s cervix to see if it was thinned out. He began to explain, “She is dilated to a 10, and it is time to pop this miracle baby out!” As he spoke, he seemed so jolly and excited to be delivering another infant. Nurses and the doctor began to organize sterile labor materials around the room. All of my family’s eyes were eagerly watching them to see what was happening. I was as nervous as ever as my mom began to turn red and grab my grandma’s hand even harder than before. Thoughts in my head mingled around in my brain; not making sense. I had mini butterflies trying to get out of my tummy. My sibling was starting to enter this world and everyone’s lives were about to dramatically change in an instant. My family and my eyes were glued to the medical staff’s performance. My mom at this


time was tired and ready to be done, she was dripping sweat and her hair looked like a birds nest. A moment later the precious baby flew out. The doctors delicately wiped him off and he began to scream his lungs out. He laid on mom’s chest and began to settle down. The moment he was in this world the water work came; my mom bawled her eyes out and was glowing. She was so in love with her baby and she became protective. When I glanced at Jacob, I could not take my eyes off him, and unexpected tears traveled down my soft, flushed checks. My grandma was caught up in her emotion and winked at me. She looked so proud and happy that he was healthy. We all were secretly screaming with excitement to hold the little bundle of joy. There was precious chaos going on in the room. The older nurse came over to me and said, “Go over to your brother and put his first diaper on him. You’re a big sister now!” I shyly stumbled over to where my infant baby brother was laying on a scale glowing from the heat lamp above. As the young nurse was shuffling around and scribbled some information down on an important document. I saw my breathtaking brother, his skin warm and soft to the touch, his feet so perfect and tiny. I began to delicately put the teeny tiny diaper on my brother’s fragile body. He stared at me with his glossy eyes and in that instant I knew that from now on he would look up to me-- to make sure he was always safe, to teach him the ropes of living life in this world and everything in between. We have a bond like no other and I love him with all my heart and that I will fight till the end to make sure he never goes through things I had to experience. From that day on till the day that we die and in the afterlife, I will always love him and nothing will get in my way. We have an inseparable bond.

Our Kingdom Come ---Makenzie C There are things to regret and things to cherish. I regret many things, but this one I must cherish. It’s not the fact that this was the greatest moment of all, but from where I am to where I was, I can actually look back and smile, knowing at one point everything was okay. On a winter wonder land day laziness struck. I was swaddled by the feathered quilt, curled right next to the one I always told we’d be forever and ever, Nicolette. The t.v. glowed, as we gazed in wonder at the winter parade marching outside the window. “What are you guys still doing sitting there? You should do something,” Nicolette’s mom lovingly 7|Page

scolded. “Mom, we don’t know what to do!” she laxly replied. “Lots of things, you could go outside” “It’s cold.” “Oh, you always have an excuse.” I looked over at Nic and chimed in, “We should do something, this is our second day just sitting here staring at the t.v.” She just replied with, “Your breath stinks.” “Yeah, well so do your pits.” “Do you want to go outside?” “I guess, we could build a fort or something.” The spark was ignited. We reluctantly pulled the covers away and zipped up our snow pants. Smothered in snow gear we hit the outside world, blinded by the glare of the sun. “Where do we start?” Nic asked. “I don’t know, let’s just start piling up snow blocks.” “Hey, let’s see how big we can make it!” Brick by brick our kingdom grew. Dusk fell, but we couldn’t give up now. Moved by our thrill, Nic’s parents suited up and joined in the construction. Deterred by snowballs whizzing through the air, we quickly refocused. They stacked as I packed and packed and packed that snow in. I didn’t want to see a single gap! The silence surround caused us to break into song. Laughter became our new melody. We began curving the first wall at about ten feet across and 6 feet high, but nothing seemed good enough. It had to be the biggest! We were creating a new world. The sun now slept on our half of the world and we couldn’t gain momentum. We’ve rebuilt the same wall too many times. The task soon felt daunting. We’d been consumed by this project for hours. Something was keeping us there, though. It was the thought that we could set a world record. The thought that we could have a snow house, an icy abode. We had cooked up plans of how we would decorate, what would go where. The possibilities began to seem bountiful. However, it wasn’t long after that exhaustion set in. “Alright what if we call it a night?” Nic’s mother pleaded. “We’re addicted now! We just want to finish,” we both agreed. I couldn’t stand the thought of defeat. “We could make some hot chocolate,” she persuaded. Mmmm, pondering the thought of steaming chocolate gave me the fuzzies. “Alright, enough said, I’m sold! Besides, my nose is kind of frozen,” I said in realization. 8|Page

Dripping, we tore off our layers. Hair awry, pits worse than before, grease shining we began to reveal that, yep, we were a disgusting mess. It was such a simple moment that captivated us. It created a unique bond, a “remember when...” moment. The moment that no matter what, it’ll always make you smile. It’ll bring your lows high and fill empty spaces. From where I was to where I am, I can always close my eyes and bring our kingdom home.

The Dog That Saved a Boy -Matthew N

The day I got my dog, a female Labrador Retriever named Dixie, was the one of the greatest

days in my life. I had always wanted a dog, and once I met her when my dad and I were picking up some tin from one of his friends. She was happy to see me and dad, as he had been there before. She quickly warmed up to me and followed me around wherever I went. It was here were Dixie started her campaign of always trying to lick my hand. One night, my dad wanted to talk to me. “How much do you like Dixie?” He asked me. I told him that “I liked her a lot”. Then I asked him why he asked. He told me that he had to give Dixie away, as it was hard to fit her into his schedule. The next day my dad drove over there and brought her back home. Of course, I was excited and couldn't wait for her to get home. When he pulled up into the drive-way and took Dixie out of her carrier, she was just as excited as I was. After adopting her, she wouldn't leave my side, even if I was just sitting and watching tv. Of course, she still had her issues. I would always have to stop her from charging at other dogs, as she is very protective of me and doesn't like other dogs to be too close to me. She also loves water, which means if you're by a river/stream/creek/ lake/ etc, she will pull you until she gets in the water. However, once you live with her for a while, you get use to it. 9|Page

She was, and still is, a hunting a dog. This means that whenever she sees a bird, squirrel, raccoon, or any other moving animal she will want to chase it down. Since she is people pleaser, as all Labs are, she wants to be right in your face. She also loves attention, so if she wants you to pet her, she'll push her way in until you do. She loves to have her belly rubbed, so she tends to roll over when I'm petting her and use her paw to push my hand down to her stomach. She fits into my personality so well, as I like most of the things she likes. Without her, my life would be depressing. She is my pretty much my only true friend, as I can tell her anything and she'll listen and not get mad. She is also very forgiving of me, as I can accidentally step on her paw and she'll act like it never happened. Sometimes she will even climb over the baby-gate we have on the stairs, to stop her from coming up them, just to get to me upstairs. With Dixie, I make memories that wouldn't have made otherwise. Like I started before, getting her was one of the greatest things in my life. It was one of those cases were you just know that dog is going to be perfect for you, even though you never met the dog before.

Thirteen Stitches -Jenessa H It took one day to change my life forever, not just for one second or one weekend, but for the rest of my life. It was a Saturday, July 2012, my dog was barking up a storm at something she thought she saw. Cars were driving by, the usual nights out at the farm. My dad and I were in the shop working on his derby car. We were trying to fix it up for the derby the next day. The shop smelt like old cigarettes and welding smoke. I was cover with dirt and grease from helping my dad fix things under the car. We have been working on the car all day and now it was getting late and I was getting tired. The hot summer day was dissipating into a breezy cool night. As I headed in for my bed, goose bumps took over my body and I let out a little shiver. I woke up the next morning to my alarm clock screaming in my ear that it was time to get up. I put a pair of black shorts on and a tank top and went outside where the summer heat was already beginning to take over from the cool night. I duct tapped the pipes of the derby car shut and hopped in the truck. On the way in to town my dad and I talked about derby cars and the things that were important to do when you are derbying. We stopped at the gas station that was the closest to the fairgrounds and got a huge cooler full of ice, gas and things to drink for at the derby. I got some water and Brisk tea; my dad grabbed some different kinds of pop and then we left. We pulled into 10 | P a g e

the fairgrounds a few minutes later. I looked around and we were the first car there and the inspectors weren’t there yet so we sat in the truck until they got there. In the back ground you could hear the fair rides being tested out as they screeched going up and down, side to side. You could also hear the horses and other animals that were in their stalls and cages. The inspectors got there an hour later and checked my dad’s car out to make sure he followed all the rules that they have. The inspector with crutches, Matt asked my dad, “Jeff what kind of car is this?” “Take a guess”, my dad replied with a smirk on his face. “A New Yorker?” He took a stab at the question. My dad laughed a little, “Do you want the truth?” Matt looks at him funny, “Yeah….” “It’s an Imperial.” “Jeff you know you can’t run them here, you might have to cut some stuff if we were to let you in.” Matt gestured to a few things that my dad had to cut. Most places don’t like Imperials to run because they are a stronger car. Most times if the cars are built to be tough, when they come out from a derby it will have very little damage. This also is why a lot of people call them cheater cars. But I have been around derby cars all my life and I can tell whether someone is cheating or not. They gave him a sick to put on his car once he torched out a few things, and then he was free to drive into 11 | P a g e

the pit area. I helped my dad unstrap the car and he started the car up. The car roared off of the trailer and he put the car next to the truck. My dad was letting me be a pit person so I had to change into pants and put a short-sleeved shirt on. He paid the little old lady the money and I got an orange band. I have always hated those stupid wrist bands. My arm hair always gets caught in the sticky stuff or they put it so tight your fingers and hand start to feel tingly and numb. The car was ready to go so my dad let me wander around the fairgrounds since the derby wouldn’t start for another three hours. I wandered into the barns to look at all the different animals. That is when one of my friends came up and attacked me with a hug. Lexi, my little red head friend screeched, “JENESSA!” “Hey Lexi”, I was a little surprised to see her. There wasn’t too much to see around the fair since in the past five years the whole fair system had gone downhill then shortly after everything else started to as well. My friends and I sat at the little park and talked about our summer and how much we missed each other. Most summers I would go all summer without seeing any of my friends because I had the farm life. It was too far from town to walk to see them and my parents always too busy to give me a ride. Or they would always find excuses to make me stay home. It was the life of isolation and now that I got to hang out with some of my friends I didn’t want to tell them good-bye, but I was running out of words to say. So I said my goodbyes once again, and walked back to the pits were cars were coming in and filling in all the empty spaces. There were people walking from all directions into the gates to watch this derby. My friend had his truck backed up to the fence so I watched some of the derby from his truck. All of the cars before my dad were just making me really exciting, and I couldn’t wait until he got to go. I ran back to where he was and where he and a few other guys were making sure everything was ready to go on his car. I gave him a good luck 12 | P a g e

knuckles and he started his car and it came to life like an angry beast. He drove into the soupy derby arena and waited for the other cars to pull in to get started. The crowd roared, “3…2…1... GO!” The derby cars screamed as they went round and round smashing into each other. The crowd cheered and shouted as the car tried to knock each other out. They did that so they could be that much closer to take the big trophy and money home. The derby went on for a good ten minutes. This derby was just to determine who was going to the consy. Who ever won the consy would go to the feature, and that’s where the big money and trophy was up for grabs. Back in the pits we get my dad’s car ready for the feature and once again off he went and to go for the big bucks. Smoke and steam arose from the cars as they heated up and radiator hoses blew. I hoot and hollered for my dad. Soon enough there were two cars left and he was one of them. Finally, SNAP the other car broke his stick. My dad won! I was so excited I ran over to the truck to wait for him to get out of the arena. His car wasn’t horrible looking just a little smashed. The car also didn’t have any brakes. It wasn’t that big of a deal it just created a little bit more challenges. An hour or so later my dad asked me to help him load his car on to the trailer, meaning I was to be the one to direct him on the trailer. I put the block down that would stop the car so that we would be able to strap the car on the trailer where it usually is. He idled the car on to the trailer and before I knew it and before I could think fast enough the car was coming at me and was not stopping for anything. I didn’t have a fast enough reaction to jump off the trailer so I tried stopping the car with my arms but before I knew it, the car smashed into me. I let out a horrified scream as I looked down and couldn’t do anything about the car the weighed so much I could not push by myself. I looked at my dad as he through the car into reverse. I fell to the trailer and looked around. I could not cry the tears just wouldn’t come out. My dad’s wife rushed to where I was sitting on the trailer along with 13 | P a g e

a bunch of other people. Her and a few other people were checking to see if I broke my leg. They had to rip my favorite pair of blue jeans away from my right leg. My dad’s wife yells, “SOMEONE GIVE ME YOUR SHIRT!” The volunteer fire man wiped his shirt off and handed it to her. He kept talking to me so that I wouldn’t go into shock. He also let me lean up against him. It was like heaven. Someone grabbed a bag of ice and handed it to my dad’s wife and her and one of the inspectors for the derby chatted amongst themselves. Once she was done putting ice around my leg she called the ambulance. I seemed like it took them forever to get there, and once they did I didn’t want to go to the hospitals. I hate hospitals they have a funky smell and there are bad things that happen in them, more or less they scare the crap out of me. The ambulance ride there completely sucked. It was bumpy, uncomfortable, and the driver was a crazy driver. The EMT that was in the back with my dad’s wife and I kept asking me the same questions over and over again. I felt like punching her. The EMT kept asking me questions like, “What is your birthdate sweetie, how do you spell your name, do you know where you are at, what was the last thing you had to eat or drink.” Once we got to the hospital the doctors gave me pain medication and took me back for x-rays. This was the point where there was no saving my favorite pants they had to cut them all the way up to the waist line. The old doctor would make little jokes about taking my x-rays, which made me laugh and made the process a little easier for me. I went back to the little white room where three nurses and one doctor waiting for me. The doctor checked my leg over once they found out I didn’t break anything. I had to roll over on to my back and this was when they found the huge gash in my leg from the wench that was on the trailer. It was three-inches wide by four-inches deep. He said I was a few centimeters away from cutting the main artery in my leg. The doctor pricked my leg several times around my wound with Novocain. He waited until I couldn’t feel pain anymore and started the process of fixing my leg. The doctor first cleaned it out with a little scrubby. It felt like something was inside my leg that clearly didn’t belong there. I did not like the feeling of it at all. It didn’t hurt but it was like nails on a chalk board kind of feeling. Over all I got thirteen stitches and the back of my leg was swollen the size of a basketball. The doctor told me that if my cut would have been any deeper it would have a one of the main arteries in my leg. I could barely walk but I could not use crutches because my muscles in my leg would be more stiff and sore. One of my dad’s wife’s friends brought us the car so we could go back to the fair to talk to everyone that was waiting for me to get back. My dad felt terrible even though it was my fault I didn’t get off the trailer. 14 | P a g e

Still today I get some infections from the fluid in my leg since I won’t let the doctors drain it because they have to use a straw like needle, and I hate needles. My leg is also still sore, and when the weather changes I have more pain than normal. I have a lot of nerve damage that makes my leg numb, and I will probably never get full feeling back in my leg. I have a scare and a wonderful story to tell. I am not upset with my dad at all because things happen in my life for the best. The scar is on the back side of my right thigh near the bend of the knee. One thing my dad always says, “If you can survive a bit from an

Imperial survive anything.”

-Josie N

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The only thing I really remember about my grandfather was his funeral. My mom would always tell me that as a kid I was afraid of him. Probably because I didn’t see him much, so he was a stranger to me. The only thing i really knew about him was that his birthday is two away from mine and my middle name [Victoria] comes from him. At the time of his death I was only seven years old, so the whole thing was confusing to me. I don’t think I realized at the time that someone a part of my family had died. At that age I didn’t understand the concept of death, and no one ever took the time to explain it to me until I was much older. When my mother, sister and I first arrived, the only thing that caught my eye was the big scary church. We met up with my grandma who seemed to be in a hurry probably because we were late. I remember the exact look she had on her face. It wasn’t sadness, but she looked worried about something, like she had somewhere else to be. I didn’t think much of it then, but now I think that it was just her way of coping with the loss she had to go through. For her, acting busy and trying not to think about it helped her to not get too upset. Everything in the church looked bleak and depressing. I didn’t really understand why we were there, but I knew instantly that something was wrong. As we walked to take our seats in the front row, I could feel everyone's puppy dog eyes on us. I was puzzled as to why everyone was dressed in black, it was all very strange to me. After a while of sitting down in silence, the minister started talking and everyone looked forward. The talking from the minister went on for a while, and I was starting to get kind of fussy. “Sit in your seat quietly and listen,” my mom scolded. “But mom, I’m bored!” I whined back at her. Then my grandma looked over at me with this mean, awful face and told me to shush. And by just looking at her face I knew she meant it, so I sat forward and stayed quiet. To a little kid it seemed like the minister went on speaking for an eternity. In the middle of his speech I looked to the sides of me seeing my mother and sister silently crying. I then looked over to my grandma who just had a blank look on her face like she was going to be sick. But I wasn’t crying; I wasn’t sad. I was so perplexed, and had no idea what was going on. I didn’t know why we came here or why there were tears streaming from my mothers face. After all the tears and talking was over, we left the church and got back into the car. “Are we going home now?” I said. “I’m getting kinda tired.” “No,the funeral isn’t over yet you’ll have to wait until later to sleep,” my mother said in a monotone voice. We followed a weird looking car that was black and seemed to be longer than usual. My mother later explained to me that the strange car was called a hearse and that’s what they use to transport his body to the grave. When we arrived I remember seeing guns and flags because my grandpa was a war veteran. By this time it started raining and all I really 16 | P a g e

wanted to do was to go home. But instead of that, we all huddled underneath one big umbrella as our bodies shivered. The only thing I can remember about that part of the funeral was the three guns going off. Before it happened my mother told me to plug my ears, but being a reluctant kid, I didn’t take her advice. One loud bang and then two more following. I immediately jumped up and squeezed my mom’s tiny waist. Everything after that was a blur. I had no idea what just happened or why it did. When we got back into the car everyone was silent. I wanted to cry because I was still very shook up by the gunshots. I asked my mom if we were going home now, and she just looked forward and told me no. I had never seen my mother act this way before. In my mind it seemed like she was mad at me when really she was probably just mad at the world. I tried to avoid having any more conversations with her the whole rest of the day. We drove to a place called VFW [Veterans of Foreign Wars] where people paid their respects to us. While my mom went to talk to people, my sister and I were left with strangers. I don’t remember their names; I just remember they were two really old men. I’m guessing they were family or at least close to the family because they were talking about how they hadn’t seen me and my sister since we were babies. I basically just listened to their stories about war, nodded and ate food for an hour until my mom came to get us. Then, we were finally headed home. Still to this day I don’t remember much about my grandpa. I know my mom still gets sad when Nov. 7th [his birthday] comes around, and I know that he was an overall great guy. I only wish I could have gotten to know him and not just the stories told about him. It really makes me think about how short life really is and to never take even the little things for granted, because I now realize it could all be gone tomorrow.

RIP Victor Johnston

November 07, 1918-April 17, 2006 Sorry for the bad image quality but this is a picture of my grandpa and my mom. I would have put a picture of me and him but like I said I was scared of him so I don’t really have any. I also put a picture of what the hearse looked like. Since it was a funeral I have no pictures of the event.

The Dancer in Me

By Sydney Elwood tapped the gray handle of the car door I felt like I was going to be sick the frantically to the beat of my pounding heart. closer we got to the school. My stomach This was my first day of a year of dance class. churned inside of me, and my anxious fingers Considering that my best dance move was 17 | P a g e

‘the lawnmower,’ it was an understatement to say that I was nervous. I checked my bag for the third time. My black dance shoes were safely tucked into the bottom of my brown, cargo handbag. I was dressed in my new workout clothes; a magenta pink tank-top and fitted capris. I tightened my long, blonde, ponytail and took a deep breath. I let it go with a small hiss as the air escaped through my lips. I was ready; I could do this. I repeated these words in my mind, hoping that they would calm my nerves a little. Needless to say, they didn’t really help. I was more agitated than ever before. My hand was even shaking faintly. I remember thinking, “You’re kidding me, right? You’re just trying something new! Relax, and stop shaking, you wimp!” Climbing the stone steps to the old high school, I clutched the strap of my small bag, and I opened the door. Central Square used to be a school; my parents even went to high school here. Now everything was aged and tired-looking. Its white walls were stained from years of holding up the historic building. One of the first things I noticed when I stepped into the gym was the layer of dust that encompassed the entire wooden floor. It was very big, with two basketball hoops on either

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end of the court. The bleachers were stacked neatly against the back wall. The gym floor also doubled as a stage for plays when this school was open. The front of the gym had a slight drop-off, and the rows of theatre seats of the auditorium expanded into the darkness. I took a deep breath, and I realized even the air seemed to have aged along with the school. Some of my classmates were already stretching on the golden wood floor. I scanned their faces discreetly before going in. All their faces were unfamiliar, and I tapped my thumb against my thigh like a nervous tick. I forced myself to walk in, smiling pleasantly at some of the girls that looked in my direction. “Hello Sydney!” Coach Melissa said, chipper as ever. My dance coach was a spunky woman, with super short choppy blonde hair. She was always incredibly nice to everyone. Her smile relaxed me a little, and I stopped tapping my leg. “I’m so excited you decided to join dance this year! We’ll get started in a little bit, okay?” she said, and I smiled and nodded politely. She returned to the front of the wide gymnasium, and I was left standing awkwardly with girls I didn’t know. Needless to say, I started tapping my leg with my tired thumb again. But then the music started, sparing us

from any awkward conversation. Everyone stood facing the theatre chairs in the empty auditorium, while Coach Melissa led us through many different dance techniques before introducing us to our routine for the year. I followed along, trying my absolute best. My nerves melted away as I focused all my attention on nailing each move she taught us. As my body went through the movements, I stumbled and faltered, but by the end of class, my movements were more confident and empowered. Finally, we were ready to dance the first segment of our routine to music. We spread out in a wide circle with our heads down, waiting for the music to start. With the solid throbbing of a bass guitar, our heads snapped up strong, in perfect synchronicity. Our fluid, yet powerful, movements acted together like brushstrokes on a canvas. I imagine we were interesting to watch, but it was more exciting to perform the dance. It was like I had found this power inside of me, as the rhythmic notes matched perfectly with my strong and powerful movements. My team was completely in sync by the end of the night. I remember feeling strong and intense. I felt like together, as a team, we were a thing of beauty, a feat of strength. I left dance that day with more than what I came with. I wouldn’t be lying if I said I gained a little more confidence that would grow with each new thing I tried at dance. Looking back, I’d say I also have newfound strength after joining dance. I grew close to the other girls on my dance team, which only made us more unified when we danced. But a dancer is all of those things; strength, confidence, and the unity of a team. I had found the dancer in me, and all that came with it.

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A Girl’s Best Friend Anneliese H On a warm spring day, my brother, who was sixteen at the time, came to pick me up from school. My brother had told me that there was a surprise waiting for me at home. I was six years old, so I nagged my brother with questions about what it could be. When we got home, my brother told me to go in our back yard and see what the surprise was. As I walked into the back yard, I didn’t even notice my dad standing there. Instead, I locked eyes with the most beautiful set of dark eyes. I held onto that glance for all of a minute when the black bundle of energy jumped and knocked me down and gave me slobbery puppy kisses. . “Is this for real? Is she mine?” I squealed with delight. “Yes, she is our new dog.” My dad said. If you have ever owned a lab puppy, you will understand how strong and determined they can be. It takes patience and lots of love to raise a lab puppy. As puppies, they love to chew and are not particularly fussy about what they are chewing on. It can be a shoe, log of wood or even a traditional rawhide. I always found humor in watching my parents take Maggie for a walk as a puppy. It really was Maggie taking my parents for a walk. She would literally pull my parents down the street. The amazing part thing was Maggie and I could walk casually down the street. She did not try to drag me along; she walked calmly next to me.

Over the years, Maggie has been at my side. She is always happy to see me and still gives me those sloppy kisses. I know if I have a bad day, Maggie will be there to cheer me up. She has a keen ability to recognize my anxiety; if I got anxious she is there to calm me down. She is always there to get my mind off things when I had a bad day. It’s amazing that she can sense when I’m not happy, or if I’m starting to panic. Maggie has been here for me during some very tough years. She has stood by me and makes me feel safe. When I went outside the other day to play fetch with Maggie, I noticed she is graying. Her coat is slowly changing from a black to white/gray mix.

Our game of fetch is not as robust as it once was. It is a slow game of fetch as Maggie is tiring more easily. Even though Maggie is 11 years old, she still loves a good rawhide and the challenge of burying it in the backyard when not being watched. As Maggie ages, I will be here to comfort her and take care of her. I want her to know that I recognize she needs someone to take care of her, just like she has taken care of me.

Loud and Unpredictable -Lydia S I sat at the computer, the twilight colored sky outside the giant windows gleaming in. I felt the table vibrating and soon a little jingle sounded from my phone. “Hello?” “Hi, is Lydia there?” a man said “This is.” “Hi Lydia, this is Mr. Poyzer from Willy Wonka. I was wondering if you want to play the part of Ms. Teavee?” “Yes!” My mind screeched like a kettle overflowing with joy! He quickly told me where the first

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rehearsal was, the date, and the time. I was quick to not listen because I was so excited. I leaped up the stairs, skipping a stair here and there. “Mom!” I shouted and sprinted into her room. “I got the part of Ms. Teavee!” That was the beginning. The first step of three years, six theatrical performances, and a budding obsession. That was the day I found out I had a real role. My first real musical, Willy Wonka. That summer of 2011, I met two people who I am still friends with now: Matt and Evan. Matt played Mike Teavee, my son in the play! Evan was Charlie Bucket, the poor child who got his dream of a chocolate factory. Next in line came A Christmas Carol, then Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Oh, the stories I could tell from Joseph!

It was the summer of 2012, the heat of July was burning on my back. I walked in to the Center for the Arts, and through the purple lobby. “Hello,” I greeted the short lady behind the desk. I opened the door into the purple theater, with the purple chairs, my eyes frantically searching for my friends. Finally I spotted them, sitting on the right side of the middle row, as usual. “Lydia!” I heard the sound of Matt yelling my name. Everybody's head turned towards me. I counted them all off, Margaret – Lily – Matt – Evan. Everyone was present! “Hey guys,” I leaned on the back of the chair. After a little of the normal crazy chatting, we all made our way up to the stage. Women's chorus on one side, men's on the other, and the youth in the middle. I was a part of the women's chorus, but I managed to stand next to Margaret and Matt, even though they were part of the youth. Evan stood on the other side in the men's chorus. I leaned down to Margaret, pointing over to Evan and laughing. “What's so funny? Lydia, what is it?!” 21 | P a g e

I tried to stop laughing and said, “Look at the men's chorus and how short Evan is compared to all the other guys.” We both started laughing uncontrollably. I noticed Becky, the music director, was glaring at us and quieted down. That was the start of my friendship with Margaret.

Throughout that summer, I gained some of the best friendships. There was one day... It was rainy, cold, and just plain old miserable outside. I was curled up in my giant Zorbaz sweatshirt; sitting on my bed. I felt my phone vibrating and saw it was a call from Evan! “Hey!” I answered excitedly. “Hey.” He sounded sad, like his dog had just died. “What's wrong?” “Lots. Can you just cheer me up?” he asked. Being a hyper thirteen year old, there were a million ways I could cheer him up. “Let me think...” Eventually, we started talking about The Lion King – one of our shared obsessions. Somehow or the other, we started to sing. Over the phone. He would start, “A-wemma-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh...” Then I would chime in, “In the jungle, the mighty jungle. The lion sleeps tonight. In the jungle the quiet jungle...” And we would complete the entire song. Over and over again, until we couldn't anymore because we were laughing so hard. Spring of 2013, I auditioned for a show called Razzle Dazzle Revue , a show our town does every year. The community gets together and creates a imaginative collaboration of songs and skits that fit within a theme. I remember being so excited to be a part of it. There is a small group of people in Fergus who are the theater nerds. This was truly my induction into the zany group. The theme was “Random Acts of Music”. The first day, I met one of my current best friends for the first time. I walked into the Center for the Arts, up to Margaret. She was sitting with Alise, my neighbor, and two girls I did not know. One was short and small, with brown hair pulled up in a tight pony tail. The other girl was sporting thick blonde hair, crimped to perfection, and a braid beginning at her side part, crossing over to the other ear. The first thing I remember noticing about her was her smile – bright and big. I sat down in one of the purple chairs and Margaret said, “Hey Lydia! This is Faith,” motioning to the girl with the pony tail. “And that's Justine.” Another day, we were sitting in the back on the right. We looked over to the front right of the middle, and noticed a boy. That was the first day I met Evan Slack. Evan Slack is an 22 | P a g e

interesting fourteen year old. He has attraction on his side, and is super smart. For the first month of rehearsals, we started sitting with him during practice. However, in the second month, he turned against our little group. That was basically the end of anything we ever had. In the end, we decided he was creeped out by us, because what can I say? We were thirteen and fourteen year old girls around an attractive boy. The next musical was The Jungle Book. I landed the role of Baloo the bear, which was very exciting. My first lead! This was the summer of 2013; the best summer I've had all my life. In the last five years, I had been friends with a spunky girl, Danelle. We were in band together, and in the 2012-2013 school year, we would hang out, and do school work together. You could say we were best friends. On the day the cast list was posted for Jungle Book, I saw it the minute it was printed, and called her up. I was Baloo, and she was Kaa, the snake! In the first week of rehearsals, I met a boy, Bradley Moore. He was the character of Mowgli. So, naturally we had to spend a lot of time together. By the end of the musical, we were great friends. We ran around backstage, tearing hair out with microphone tape, football huddling, making “mictories,” (a mini victory) and singing “Don't Stop Believing” by Journey. Over this summer, I became “mega-best-friends” with both Danelle and Justine. For all of June, every other night, I would be sleeping in someones' living room, if it was my own, Justine's, or Danelle's, it didn't matter. Every other night I was not in my own bed. And it was awesome. Some days, after rehearsal for Jungle Book, we would bike to the fruit stand. There was one man who would blast classical music from his truck and play his mini saxophone. He also asked trivia questions for kids under eighteen, which, if answered correctly, would earn a free juicy peach. Between the three of us, we always managed to answer it right. Then we would have a “peach picnic” on the curb. Afterward, we would amazingly somehow convince our parents to allow us to do chores together, go to the movies, or just sit and chat at one house or the other. Every night before the show, Bradley, Brita, who played Bagheera, Sam, who played Shere Khan, and I, would huddle together and chat “Over the top! Over the top!” five times, then yell “Break!” Then go to our beginning spots for the show. We never failed to do this, making it tradition for the four shows. 23 | P a g e

The latest show I was in was The Wizard of Oz. It was done in one week. Danelle and I were really excited to audition for it, Bradley was the Tin-Man, and then we found out we had gotten the role of the Yellow Brick Road. Let's just say, we were not excited. My heart dropped to my stomach when they said that. That night we went to my house, and had a “pity sleepover.” However, by the end of the play, we had edited the role and made it as fun as we could. We stole the show! We danced across the stage and sung our one song at the top of our lungs. We came up with a dance for each of the characters. For example, for the Tin-Man, we did the robot all the way across the stage. It ended up being very fun, and on the last show everyone and the audience sang happy birthday to me. Theater has been one of the biggest things in my life. If I wasn't in theater, I probably wouldn't have any of the wonderful friends I have now. Performing is my favorite thing to do. I love it with all my heart. It's loud and unpredictable, like me.

I Didn’t Think Anything of It

-amy w

We all have that specific group of friends that we can talk to about anything, best friends. When

we lose them, the pain is unbearable. August 29th, I felt that actual heart break that everyone talked about in a break up. Except mine, wasn’t over some teen fling

relationship. I lost my best friend. Even worse, I lost my best friend to suicide.

Gylian and I met at an Arrow’s at Dawn concert in 2011. “Hey,

I’m Gylian. Mind if my cousin and I stand with you?” He said. “No, not at all, I’m Amy” I replied.

His hair was kind of long and flippy and he wore a beanie hat.

His eyes were so sparkly green you would have sworn he put glitter

paint on them. He had snake bite lip piercings, a Bring Me the Horizon

band t-shirt on and black skinny jeans. He was funny, he was into the same music as I was, but most of all; I got this immediate feeling of trust when I talked to him.

I was always the quiet one, kept my thoughts to myself, had few friends, but he made me

change. I’m not saying against my will. I’m saying he showed me it was okay to open your mouth and speak your opinion and to stand up for yourself, something that I hadn’t ever done. We both went to

greet the band. I’m friends with the bass player, Pat and lead vocalist, Tim. Gylian had never heard of them, but he loved their set, so he got is shoe autographed.

“We have to go, but I want to keep talking to you. What are the chanced of me getting you number?” He asked.

“I’d say pretty high.” I replied I gave him my number, not even a minute later he texted me.

He lived in Colorado; he was just visiting his cousin. I still have yet to meet a friend as amazing

as him. As time went on, we talked about more than just music, art, and the little things. We went into more personal and emotional things. I was able to trust him with my life and not be afraid of getting 24 | P a g e

crushed. He explained to me that he was diagnosed with severe clinical depression when he was 10. I

opened up and admitted that I had never been diagnosed with depression, but that I hadn’t been truly

happy in years. We promised to always go to each other if things ever got to the point of standing 6 feet from the edge. We vowed to never let each other jump.

The New Year’s Eve of 2011, I went to an all night lock in skate at the roller rink a couple towns

over from where I live. I got a call from a blocked number “Come outside” they said, it sounded like a

girl so I didn’t think much of it. It was Gylian! I had never felt so many feelings in my entire life. I was happy, relieved, but sad that we would only have that night together because he was going back the next evening. All good things have to come to an end though I guess. He lifted up my hair and laughed “It’s red!” He said.

I hugged him again still in shock and said “So are tomatoes, what’s your point?” He wrapped me so tight and laughed, I felt so safe.

It was a new year, new goals in life. Both Gylian and I promised to ourselves that we’d work on

making life better and to put down the razor blades. Funny enough, we didn’t even talk about that till I asked what his new goal was and he asked mine. We talked about all the little things and all the silly

things. Like what color will a smurf turn if you choke it? Or how lame would today’s movies would be if they were still in black and white? It was little things like that which kept our heads on our shoulders and our minds sane.

August 29th 2012 roughly 12:20 a.m. was the last time I had talked to him. Before he ended that

phone call, he made me promise to always stay true to myself. And he ended with a shallow goodnight. I didn’t think much of it. If he didn’t reply to my text messages it was fine, he’s got friends, and he sleeps almost 15 hours a day. It was now the 31st, and I still hadn’t heard from him. So I went to his Facebook page to see if he had been on there. Nothing from him, but there was a post from his sister, Karla. She

explained how Gylian had ended his life and that they were going to keep his page up for anyone who wanted to write to feel closer to him.

As soon as I saw that, got off the computer chair and started hyperventilating. I looked at the

post once more and tears ran like a waterfall down my face. Sniffling and begging that it wasn’t true; I grabbed my cell phone and walked out my front door. I got to the yard and immediately tried calling him, praying to the gods that it was a joke or a spam.

Karla answered “Amy I was waiting for your call.”

She said very faintly

“Please tell me you were joking or someone hacked

you page?!” I said franticly trying to catch my breath.

“I wish I could, you don’t even know how much I

wish I could. Gylian.. he.. he hung himself a couple days ago.” She said her voice choked up.

I took a deep breath. “I wish you would have called

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family first. Let me know if you need anything. Thank you for taking my call” I said as calm as I could. I hung up the phone and fell to my knees, the grass wet and cold on my jeans and skin. Every

emotion I had ran through me, like sand through a young child’s fingers. Anger, fear, sadness, curiosity, and denial still even though I had heard it from his sister. He had come to me so many times when he was ready to jump, except this time. I didn’t even know he was thinking about it again; he seemed

perfectly fine. But I guess that’s what you really need to look out for. The quiet one was now the forever silent one.

I had no clue where my mom was so I called her, barely able to talk. She told me to walk up to

the park where she was. My eyes so full of tears and so swollen I was barely able to see. I got to the park. It was about midnight; the stars were out and shining and the moon full too. The fact that it was such a beautiful night on this horrific day made matters worse for me. My mom was sitting at the park with a couple of the local cops that she’s good friends with and I sat next to her and looked at her. “What happened?” She asked.

“It’s Gylian.. He’s gone.. He hung himself mom. He committed suicide” I replied with more tears

running down my face.

“Honey, I’m sorry.” She said as she wrapped me in a hug. “It’s a permanent solution to a

temporary problem.” She whispered.

My head felt like there were a million little garden gnomes in there with pick axes looking for

gold or something. I went to go sit in my mom’s truck while she finished her cigarette. As I watched the smoke from her cigarette flow off into the little bit of cold breeze there was that night, I closed my eyes. I don’t even know how, but every image from when I met him to when I got to see him again on New Year’s played back. The hugs, the smiling, laughing, and how we both had tears in our eyes when we hugged goodbye. I knew nothing would be the same anymore, and it’s not.

Berries, Checks, and Camp Herzog Berries- to Kenna Fournier; Pay to the order of $100. My second crispy new check said that I just found in the mail. Is this real? I asked myself, Now my total is up to $625.25, just from picking strawberries? *** Looking back, “BEEP, BEEP” My alarm clock said loudly. I groaned as I looked at my clock, it said 5:20 A.M. in big red letters as if it was peering into my soul. I better hurry; I get picked up in ten minutes, I thought as I was jumping out of bed and digging through my massive pile of clothes, trying to find my berry picking jeans. *** 5:50 AM “SLAM,” The green Ford truck door said when I closed it. It was ten minutes before we would start picking; we were paid $2.50 for every one gallon ice cream bucket of strawberries we picked.

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“It’s way too early to be awake,” My friend Kayla said as we were walking up the hill to the green shed. “Maybe a little, but it’s such a nice morning.” I said feeling the warm sun on my face. *** Just a thought; I always enjoyed the early mornings, the cool breeze and seeing the sun rise. Getting paid made it even better. I thought I would make $300 or $400 this year, but when I opened my first check and it said $525.25 I was mentally stunned, I couldn’t move. *** 10:30 When I got home with my check I just stared at it What am I going to do with all this money? I thought still staring down on the little strip of paper. I decided to divided it into 3 different areas; $180 for spending, $80 for my tithe, and the rest will go into my savings. My dad, being that he works at a bank, would take it to the bank and deposit it and bring me home the rest. I was excited out of belief, what was I going to buy with $180? I could buy anything, well almost. Camp was coming up, and I was going to be on the red team. I could buy some red cloths, paint, headbands, and other red items. I decided to buy a $60 comforter, it is so puffy and soft! I decided to save the rest of my spending money for the canteen at camp! *** After Camp “Clunk,” I heard the mailbox door. I opened up the creaky porch door and started sifting through all the mail. Thats when I found it; my second check. Herzog Berries- to Kenna Fournier; Pay to the order of $100. My second crispy new check said . Is this real? I asked myself, Now my total is up to $625.25, just from picking strawberries?

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The Haircut The day was finally here; I was going to get my haircut. Well I was actually getting it shaved; I’ve had my hair cut for almost 2 years but this time I was really excited because I was able to get it SHAVED! It was a big thing to me because I had wanted my hair shaved for a long time. Rihanna and Cassie inspired me to get my hair shaved. Rihanna inspired me because she well just because she’s Rihanna and anything she do will inspire me. Cassie inspired me because she never changed her hair style because of the negative things people would say about her; and Cassie have had her hair shaved way before she became famous. Also she inspired me because she’s a supermodel and I didn’t think that it was possible to be a model yet a supermodel with your hair shaved but Cassie showed that it was possible. My hair wasn’t only shaved on one side though, it was shaved on both sides and in the back; so basically I had a half a Mohawk. I shaved my hair by myself so I didn’t part my hair straight so that made me mad at first because it was very uneven. Once I noticed it was uneven I tried to make it even but did that work? No it didn’t it was still uneven so I just left it how it was. Since my hair was uneven I didn’t like it. I was regretting shaving my hair. Then again I was feeling glad about it because it was my first time shaving/cutting my hair and I did it perfect; well not perfect I just didn’t cut myself not once. Every day after that I feel like my head should always be bald except the top of my head; But unfortunately my head can’t be bald no more I have to let it grow. While my hair was cut I felt like I did something most girls wouldn’t do, because a lot of females would tell me “You’re brave for getting your hair shaved like that”. When I would hear that my heart would melt because never in a million years did I expect to hear that I, me Des’tinee was brave. I Also felt good about my hair because people would tell me “Your hair is so cute”. So that’s the story behind the hair cut. Jesse Ugstad Sometimes you have to let the cool breeze run through your hair. Smell the fresh air, see the loons flying, here the waves softly brush against the side of your boat, and just say “ahh”. Charter Sailing on Lake Superior is something I’ve done for the past couple years. You may thinking sailing is glorious, and it is. 2 years ago, everything changed. “Jesse grab the Dingie!” “Dad! I’m going to fall in!” “REACH! Quick!” I reached and grabbed it; at the last second. Water brushed up against my stomach. Feeling 28 | P a g e

sick with fear I tied it up and ran back into my berth. The boat, shaking violently, clashed back and forth from the waves. Jacob screaming bloodymurder ran from deck and shouted, “lightning has struck Raspberry Island!” Shaking with fear I went into denial. “No, this really isn’t happening. It’s happened to other people but I couldn’t happen to us!” Whether I believed it or not we were up against 35 mph winds and 5 foot waves that sloshed up on deck. Eli and my dad were taking down the JIBB and the mainsail when we felt the static electricity in the air. All of our hair stood up and everything seemed… peaceful. CCRRRAACKKKK! Lighting struck a tree about .5 of a mile away from us. The light was so bright. It was almost beautiful. I just stood in plain awe of the power and beauty that is lightning. I realized that this was a storm that wasn’t going to give up without a fight. “Jesse! Where are you!? Grab the line up on the bow!” Paralyzed in fear I froze. “...............” then “.........” “NOW!” I jumped up to my feet and raced to the bow of our sailboat. I gathered the line quickly as I could. Then I noticed, that the line was tied about 2 feet below the deck where the waves raged. Thinking “Oh I can grab it!” WRONG. “Ahh!” I screamed as the water got closer and closer then, my foot caught the rope up on deck. The water touched the tip of my nose. “HELP” I cried (literally) “Please…” Jacob hoisted me back up on deck and instant relief flooded over me. The storm didn’t let up. Lightning continued to flash, yet no rain had came yet. This just occured to me. How can there be such a ferocious storm with no rain? Then the clouds parted. Just for a second. A single beam of sunlight touched our boat and the water around us. Then I realized, we have God watching over us. Whom shall I fear? With this new found hope I gathered my thoughts and continued grabbing the line. This time with no mishaps. Feeling confident, I went below deck to make myself tea. Once it was finished, I happy went up on deck. Sipped my tea as the storm seemed to ease. And then, the storm gained it strenght and came back. The wind so strong, blew me to my side and knocked me 4 feet down into the cabin. I landed facing the ceiling. A sharp, fire iry pain enveloped my body. I grunted as I felt nausea sweep over my body. The tea cup hit the floor next to me and hot tea sprayed everywhere. “Jesse! Are you alright!?” “I wish I was!” I said angrily. Eli (my brother) helped me back up and guided me back to my berth. “You need rest.” “Fine>” So I lay there thinking. “I’m glad I didn’t fall overboard.” So a couple hours later I got up and looked outside. It was stunning. The purple storm clouds rolling away and bright beams of sunlight filled the air. Loons flew overhead and the soft breeze ran through my hair. “Ahh” I said. This is what sailing should be. Calm and peaceful. And in the end, I was almost happy it happened; the storm. It was frightening but gave life to our trip. The next day arrived. Bright and beautiful. The water was calm and seagulls landed on the mainsail. All seemed perfect. Then, our weather radio automatically turned on. “Severe Thunderstorm Warning in effect ‘till 8:30 CDT.”

When I was eleven years old, My family took a very boring trip to 29 | P a g e

the bowling alley. I had never liked bowling (partly because I was terrible at it) and had had a very rotten time. As we pulled out, I suggested we go visit a shelter just for the heck of it as a joke. Too my surprise, my dad sighed and pulled into the nearest one we came too. I spent hours looking at the cats in the cages, The cutest perhaps being to little black kittens, sleeping on their backs all stretched out with their belly's up! Sooner than later, I headed towards the Rooms were they kept cats that got along well together. They had signs saying "Warning. Feline escape artists! Use caution when opening door!" Those always made me giggle. I headed into the first two first, and found a mixture of tabbies and such, all playing, sleeping, and purring. I picked up a few and smiled as they purred and kneaded at my clothing. As I headed towards the last room, rubbing a scratch one of the cats had given me, and opened the door, I looked around. Closing the door behind me before a small marmalade tabby could run out. Out of hte corner of my eyes, I saw it. A fluffy short black tail, sticking out of a box. I loved fluffy cats.. We'd never owned one. I walked towards it and pulled hte cat out. A small black head with white markings, and two of the brightest green eyes I had ever seen. A yellowish green, that melted into a shining emerald. When she made a noise, she sounded like a small kitten. She kneeded and bunted heads with me, before crawling out and bringing a mouse towards me. I smiled and tossed it for her, laughing as she chased it around the room, her pupils wide. After a bit, I left the room to look for my mom. She agreed to come watch the cat, and loved her right away. Soon, we brought her into a smaller room with other toys, and had my dad join us. He watched her wack the toys around, keeping a blank face. He asked for her price, and my heart fell. Our dad was a world class cheapskate. "Two hundred and ten.." I spoke sullenly, picking her up. My dad frowned slowly, before sighing. "Bring her up front." he muttered, and My heart soared. We were 30 | P a g e

getting a cat! I quickly brought her up front, but noticed something. As soon as she left those rooms, she hugged to me and dug her claws into my shirt, and pulled her ears back slightly. I winced as her claws pricked my skin, but got her into one of the small cages up front. After a half hour of filling out papers, and talking, we finally had her in her own little box, and in the car. During the half hour drive home, we talked over her name. My sisters texted "Moo" and other cow names for her black and white coat. After a while, I finally said "Oreo Cookies" And Everyone agreed that that was the best name for her. With her coat of almost all black, with white paws, and a white hook like stripe across her nose, she was almost like an oreo cookie. As soon as we brought her home though, trouble brewed up. THe moment our dog saw her, she growled and started chasing her. Oreo ran to the nearest room she could find. Down the stairs to the basement, and into my room. She wouldn't ever leave it after that, only at night. It took weeks for everyone to decide that oreo belonged to me. Three years later, she's still playful, and sweet. She loves to curl up and purr against me, and play with toy mice. She comes out of my room a lot more, and wanders the basement alot. When I'm home alone, she'll walk the entire house. She's still a shy little thing, but she's probably the sweetest cat in the world.

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