The Drumlin Dexter & Southfield Schools
DEXTER SCHOOL & SOUTHFIELD SCHOOL MAGAZINE OF THE ARTS
THE DRUMLIN SPRING 2013 VOLUME THREE ~ EDITORS Kayla Ghantous Michael Rabinovich Olivia Stenger FACULTY ADVISERS Mr. Matthew Dimock Mr. Laird Kopp Adobe InDesign CS6 Belmont Printing
WORDS 5 7 8 11 16 18 22 25 27 30 33 35 36 39 40 43 51 52 54 56 58 61 63 69 72 75 76 78 82 83 84 87 89 90
When All Is Done Armen Festekjian (10) Unused Potential Shannon McGurty (9) Chasing the Sun Colby Chase (9) Mr. Thrinth Caitlin Southwick (9) An Evolutionary Course Giles Carr-Locke (10) Yet Kayla Ghantous (11) When a Sandstorm Hits Shawna Dyer (9) My Life George Baldini (10) Thirteen Ways of Looking at Me Ashley Beckles (11) Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Staircase Michael Rabinovich (11) Thirteen Ways of Looking at Music Tatianna Auguste (11) Whole Spencer Lloyd (12) Thirteen Ways of Looking at My Guitar Niall Fitzgerald (11) Tantalizing Beauty George Baldini (10) Hourglass Abigael Yotts (12) Innocent Escape Lori Atinizian (12) Blinded by Love Shawna Dyer (9) Rowing on the Charles Katherine Fuller (10) Row Caitlin Southwick (9) End of the Street Madeleine Bomberg (9) Epistle to Shakespeare Samantha Saulnier (12) Decisions Erin Hall (12) I’ll Sleep on It: A Murder Mystery Olivia Stenger (11) Feeling Hopeless Annemarie Ng (12) Arch Nemesis Brian Brooks (12) Inspiration Stephen Ng (10) OMG Wat’s the 411? Bronwyn Purcell (12) Interstate 70 Annemarie Ng (12) Converse Lori Atinizian (12) Fawn’s Prize Alexa Barros (11) Not His Isabel Lord (10) All Cost Grant Michl (12) In My Eyes Lucas Hinds (12) The King Robert Beams (12)
92 An Unexpected Surprise 96 Mr. Henry J. Morrissey 102 Great Aspirations
Louisa Vincent (9) Brian Brooks (12) Shannon McGurty (9)
IMAGES Front Cover: Portrait Collage Itsva Hernandez (9) 6 Kitchen Zinjun Lu (10) 9 Sunrise Richard Ng (11) 10 Pick a Time Kayla Ghantous (11) 17 Flashlight with Hand Jennifer Carson (10) 21 Contrasted Antoinette Jones (10) 23 Guarding the Moon Georgia Leahy (10) 24 Perspective George Baldini (10) 26 Portrait Collage Zinjun Lu (10) 29 Steep Steeple Mahlon Hanifin (10) 32 The Beauty of the Interior of the Eye Carlos Mesia (11) 38 Duplicity George Baldini (10) 41 Frozen Faith Mahlon Hanifin (10) 42 Stuff Kayla Ghantous (11) 50 Angelina Carlos Mesia (11) 53 Boats Caitlin Southwick (9) 59 Still Life Caitlin Southwick (9) 60 Libertas Zachary Blais (11) 62 Mortality Zachary Blais (11) 68 Good Boy Zachary Blais (11) 71 Lame Jokes Kayla Ghantous (11) 73 Lonely Mountain Mahlon Hanifin (10) 74 Portrait Collage Helen Fulham (9) 77 Samurai Zinjun Lu (10) 81 On the Edge of Glory Georgia Leahy (10) 88 Scottish Ruins Nicholas Weber (10) 91 Eclipse Nicholas Weber (10) 95 Mattapoisett Elizabeth Tamburello (10) 101 Portrait Collage Zachary Nagode (9) Back Cover: Mercutio Masquerade Richard Ng (11)
Armen Festekjian Grade 10 When All Is Done Close your eyes and look in, to this breathless abyss and see what you find when all things somatic vanish as you stretch your arm and open your palm to clutch what you feel floundering before you within a heap of blind passion â€“ you may behold it becoming. Itâ€™s heavier than you thought, this burdensome mass of sensation; hold it before it escapes you. Caress it before it passes. Wield its fury. But be delicate to this fragile, figureless feeling. Try to understand it. Now. Begin. 5
Zinjun Lu Grade 10 6
Shannon McGurty Grade 9 Unused Potential Maybe the future scares us, Not knowing what comes next. Anxiety builds. At the climax We breathe deeply, Trying to clear our mind. Then, we imagine. We dream Of what could be. It saves us. Our dreams save us. Offering us a home In the unknown, In a world so cruel Yet so caring. Should we keep trying? Or give up. No, keep going, Closer and closer Until our dreams Become reality. But, maybe the future scares us So much that we stop And refuse to continue. But, we are so close.
Colby Chase Grade 9 Chasing the Sun For my Aunt Amy The beauty of the birdsong is overrun by cars. The simplicity of the morning is dominated by the rush. The sun brings beauty, but what is more beautiful Than the “pat, pat, pat” of feet on the misty road With the sun rising over the hill? The foggy mist hovers over the road, distorting our vision. Struggling over the hill towards the blinding sun. Lean into it – it’s almost over. Keep chasing the sun past the church, Over the crosswalk – no need to slow down. Higgins Market is preparing to open. Along Whiting Road, the sun catching up. Back through the center; still no cars at six. The sun to the right while entering Dedham Street. Across the crosswalk, in front of home. The sun at our back. Relieved. The sun has dampered the mist. The sun is finally up. While the world is asleep, there is a certain beauty That sometimes goes unnoticed.
Richard Ng Grade 11
Pick a Time
Kayla Ghantous Grade 11
Caitlin Southwick Grade 9 Mr. Thrinth Every single Wednesday for the four years in which I worked in the fifties diner on Main Street, the same man would enter at precisely 2:30, sit at the counter, and order a double cheeseburger, a large side of fries, and a Diet Pepsi. For the first six months the only thing I cared to notice was his shoes. I started out as the busboy, and my biggest job was keeping the white linoleum floors clean. He used to wear a pair of big, black dress shoes, almost as wide as they were long. The shoes were very high end but constantly covered in mud or water, occasionally even cement. The right one squeaked a little with every step, but the left was always silent against the linoleum. He would track whatever gunk was on his shoes that day into the restaurant, and I would clean up after him immediately, sometimes walking behind him and scrubbing each new footprint with my mop as soon as it appeared. The message never seemed to get through to him because he still always made a mess of my nice white floors. Half a year after I started working at the diner, one of the waitresses took a maternity leave, and I was promoted from busboy to waiter. As expected, the first Wednesday after I got the job, the man came in, wearing the same shoes, though this time they’d been cleaned and polished to a shine. No squeaks announced his presence and no trails were left. He fell into the habit of taking the back booth in my corner of the establishment. I would constantly talk to the customers who came to my area; I was young and in college, and some of them tipped very handsomely if they liked you. I never said a word to the man, outside of asking what he’d like to order and him responding, “A double cheeseburger, large fries, and a Diet Pepsi, son.” I would glance over at him constantly throughout his visit. He would plow through the food at an alarmingly quick rate, and I would stare for a moment and wonder where he put it all. The man was one of the skinniest people I’d ever seen and only about an inch taller than I was. The way he ate the food, you’d think it was the only meal he’d had all week, though I knew that couldn’t be right. He was skinny, 11
but not quite in the sickly way that he might be if this were the case. He always wore a white button-down dress shirt that was pressed and smelled strongly of detergent, and he was the only person I had ever seen keep such an article of clothing clean while eating a double cheeseburger the way he did. I finally discovered his name from his signature on the bill. Walter Thrinth. Something about him made me suspect that might not be his real name, and one day about eight months after I’d begun waiting tables, I told him this. “You’re suspicious of me?” “Well, not suspicious, sir. I just thought you might find it a bit funny. The name just suits you a bit too well and I –” I was cut off by a hearty laugh from the man. I had never heard him laugh before, and it frightened me. His entire body shook in rhythmic quivers, and he slapped the table so hard I was concerned it might break. “What’s your name, son?” “Jonny, sir.” I pointed to my name tag. The man chuckled. “Jonny? Isn’t that just a little too perfect for a kid working at a fifties diner? I’m not sure I believe that’s your real name.” “Well, to be honest Mr. Thrinth, it isn’t.” He laughed again, this time howling with such volume that everyone in the diner looked over. A few stood to get a better look at what was going on. “Sir, please calm down. You’re making a bit of a scene.” He stopped laughing at once and looked around. “Well, I suppose I am. Tell me, Jonny, what’s your real name?” “It’s Forrest, sir.” “A fine name. I don’t understand why you’d want to change it.” “The manager told me that Forrest was a bad name for someone working at his restaurant, so while I’m here, I go by Jonny. According to him, it’s a better fit.” Mr. Thrinth stifled another laugh. I moved on quickly to get him his check before he could say anything else to me. The energy and volume with which he spoke to a complete stranger alarmed me excessively. After that day Mr. Thrinth began exchanging small talk with me every time he came by. Nondescript things like how nice the weather had 12
been and what idiots the people in politics were. Mr. Thrinth believed that in today’s world we might never have a truly great president because according to him, “No man smart enough to do the job really well is stupid enough to want that job.” He worked for the editorial column of the newspaper and consistently informed me that Ernest Hemingway had it exactly right when he said, “Write drunk; edit sober.” I didn’t really care that Ernest Hemingway had done anything other than write ridiculous novellas that English teachers made people read in order to torture us or build character or whatever, and I told him that. He shook his head quickly. “Forrest, do you ever get lonely? Do you ever have an awful day? Do you ever want to escape your own mind?” “I think everyone does, sir.” “Well, there’s a really easy way to have a whole bunch of new friends and live a whole other day and leave your mind for somebody else’s, and I worry it might be decreasing in the world. Just read.” I took his words with a grain of salt. I didn’t care at all about books. I hadn’t actually read any since middle school. Even now in college I only bothered with Cliffs Notes or online summaries and essays. I couldn’t care less about books or the president or anything else we talked about for that matter. I was slowly becoming convinced that Mr. Thrinth was quite insane. I had been working at the diner for almost three years when I was finally promoted from a table waiter to a bar waiter. I strongly preferred this; I had much more time to people-watch and very little scurrying back and forth to do. Coincidentally, the week I was promoted was also the week Mr. Thrinth began eating at the bar rather than his usual booth. I would watch his hands as he scribbled his signature on the bill. They shook and twitched with every movement almost like a machine. More than once I was concerned that they might detach from his wrists entirely and go scurrying across the white linoleum, which was thankfully no longer my problem. I think it was at the beginning of my senior year of college that he brought me a book. It was some old brick of a thing with a stupid title. I didn’t even look at the back, just mumbled “Thanks” and shoved it beneath the counter. 13
This didn’t faze him; possibly, he was expecting it because he said, “I don’t know if you will, but that’s a good friend of mine, and if you need him, he’s there.” I ignored him again. What was once a quietly-annoying pair of shoes had become some big-headed writer who thought he could help me with my life. I told him I didn’t need him to keep doing this. He would pretend not to know what I was talking about. I would sigh heavily in response, and he’d thank me nicely and tell me he’d see me next Wednesday, before leaving a very large tip on the counter. That was the one thing I appreciated about Mr. Thrinth. He tipped well. In late winter Mr. Thrinth stopped coming to the diner. Most of the employees didn’t notice, but his absence weighed heavily on me. Had I made him leave? Had he found a diner better than ours in which he could enjoy his double cheeseburger, large fries, and Diet Pepsi? I was a little offended. He was a regular, and it bothered me that he had just decided to disappear. After about a month of his absence, I began to worry that something had happened to him. Maybe he’d lost his job and couldn’t afford the diner. Maybe he’d been hit by a bus. If he was dead, I’d worry it was my fault. I’m not sure if it was on a Wednesday or not when I picked up the book to humor the possibly dead Mr. Thrinth and read what he’d given me. I was bored without him to annoy me and needed something to distract me from his absence, and there the book was, wedged under the bar counter. So I read. It was done in a week. One thousand pages. I didn’t know why I liked it so much, but I couldn’t put it down. I wasn’t sure I had read a thousand pages of novel in my life, let alone all in one book. Though I would never consider admitting it to him, Mr. Thrinth had been right. Two weeks before I graduated from college, and one week before I stopped working at the diner, Mr. Thrinth walked in at exactly 2:30 on a Wednesday and ordered his usual as if he’d never left. I stared at him for a long time, and for the first time I really looked at his face. He was scruffy and not very well cared for. His eyes were puffy from little sleep but bright and exciting. His chin and nose were strong, and he had a mess of dark hair that looked as if it was usually closely 14
cropped, but he hadn’t had a haircut in a while. His lips were spread across his face in a sarcastic smile. He saw me looking and his smile widened. “I know you read it.” I raised an eyebrow in question. “You’re looking differently. Thinking differently. You’re going into the world in a few weeks, and you know how to see. It’s been a pleasure working with you.” He paid his check and left without another word.
Giles Carr-Locke Grade 10
An Evolutionary Course Sit and wonder what it could be If behind the door you could see what he sees, But curiosity never transcends action Because you’re encompassed by that arcane caption. “Yourself” it reads at the top of the threshold. But, you forget your inhibitions as you rise; You struggle to walk as you strain your weakening eyes. Your mind is doubtful, although hand is influential, That flesh could turn the metal knob of potential. Reaching ambivalently, you hesitate and fall. The influx of realization in the air As you let fabrication play stronger than care. You return to your seat steadily amused, Content that the once young individual was secretly confused. With acceptance you drift away.
Flashlight with Hand
Jennifer Carson Grade 10
Kayla Ghantous Grade 11 Yet He could see his breath. His pen moved across the paper lazily as his head rested in his left hand, his eyes threatening to close, and his legs were crossed to steady the book that he was reading. Too absentminded to be productive, Adam Grant sat in the school courtyard on a Wednesday evening, leaning against the trunk of an oak, which was surprisingly more comfortable than his dorm’s desk chair. His eyelids were falling, falling... “Grant? Alright?” He started a little, but only lifted one eyelid to peer at his company. And then he saw that it was Sadie Collins who had found him asleep at five o’clock, and he opened the other eye and wiped a bit of nonexistent drool from his chin. “Sadie... hi.” God, did my voice just crack? His legs uncrossed, and he straightened up a bit, only to leave his shoulders and neck leaning against the back of the tree, his elbows resting on his knees. “Do you mind if I sit?” What a question. “Go ahead.” She sat on his right side, her shoulder brushing his on the way down, and then finally crossing her arms as she hugged her sides to block the cold. “What were you working on before, you know, nap time?” she said frankly, leaning over to peer at his schoolwork. She grasped his hand and gently moved it aside to read the book title. Adam didn’t think to answer. A moment passed, and neither spoke. She looked at him expectantly, probably waiting for him to explain the assignment. The corners of his lips quirked up a bit at his foolishness, and he almost smiled. “That essay York assigned. Haven’t gotten much done, though.” Because, though he would never say it aloud, he was distracted for an entirely different reason now. And then they were talking. Sadie was talking to him, and she was talking slowly, laughing and making witty remarks and being as cheeky 18
as always; something about English class, then her prat boyfriend, the homework – honestly, he wasn’t listening too well. He just hoped that what he was saying was coherent because his voice sounded… strange. He’d only formerly introduced himself to her a month ago, but what a month. Talking to Sadie Collins was something too familiar and wholly alien all at once. “I don’t know why you’re even working on it now. It’s not due ’til Friday,” she said. “It’s Wednesday.” “I know.” And then he laughed and turned away, but in that moment, he saw her arm reaching toward him, and he desperately – foolishly – hoped that it was aiming for some sort of sign of affection: an arm over the shoulder, anything. And yet: “You have a leaf in your hair.” She reached for his head, and the heat rose in his face – not entirely from embarrassment, for only two things registered in his mind just then: 1. Outside was cold, and 2. Sadie Collins’s touch was not. And yet, You don’t care. You don’t, over and over again, repeated steadily in his head like a drum. God, he hated that. Brushing his cheek for a lingering moment, she unceremoniously pulled the leaf out and flicked it away unpleasantly. Adam gave a nervous chuckle, but it went unheard because – quite suddenly: “Sadie! I’ve been looking for you for ages.” And this part was always the worst. Tall, with broad shoulders and short brown hair that stood on end, he was walking towards the pair under the tree. He nodded at Adam and reached for Sadie. “Come to dinner early?” His eyes were smiling, and Adam vaguely wondered how it could be that this part came every week, and yet, every week he still found it in himself to hope otherwise. He’d seen this far too many times for it to still hurt, he thought. He had it memorized, every movement, look, smile, imprinted in his mind, and You don’t care. You don’t as the only sound. She extended her arm, and he took it – like always – helping her to stand and then slipping his arm over her shoulder and kissing her cheek – like always. And, in that moment, Adam wanted nothing more than to not want her at all. She affirmed her boyfriend’s question and bid Adam goodbye, 19
and his hope vanished. This was too easy for her. He knew – he had known – that there was a boyfriend, and yet, even as she walked away, with her arm around his waist, laughing a little louder, a little bit different from before, he couldn’t help but wonder. There must’ve been something in that secret smile, and something in the way her foot brushed his leg three times in a two-minute conversation, and he couldn’t be the only one feeling it. And then, slowly, as the pair walked away, there could be no more denying it, no more excuses. He was in love with Sadie Collins.
Antoinette Jones Grade 10
Shawna Dyer Grade 9
When a Sandstorm Hits Love is like a sandstorm. It starts off slow, and then it starts to pick up speed; It begins to spiral out of control. The storms can be brief though, And once it is over, the sand still remains, But there is no longer wind to entangle it together.
Guarding the Moon
Georgia Leahy Grade 10
George Baldini Grade 10 24
George Baldini Grade 10
My Life Look at life through my eyes, and see what you see. You might see a basketball, a camera, a book, Thus making your conclusion, your interpretation of me. I am athletic, creative, and smart, but look – See these shoes? Stand in them and tell me how they fit. Do you feel bigger, more creative and astute? Sure, you might feel better, more elaborate a bit, But that’s too easy, too perfect of a life to repute. Here, put on my clothes and tell me how you feel. Not so great after all. I am plagued with struggle and misfortune – my Achilles’ heel. So don’t judge me, make assumptions, and call My life perfect ’cause it’s not, nowhere even close, Not in my eyes, not in my shoes, not in my clothes.
Zinjun Lu Grade 10
Ashley Beckles Grade 11 Thirteen Ways of Looking at Me I In the pitch-black recess of the cell awaiting its freedom floated a color-changing orb. II It’s freedom was of great importance like the author of an unfinished novel. III The orb waltzed enticingly in place; it was a fragment of the Romantic Era. IV The orb and the room are secret companions; the orb and the room and freedom are all secret lovers. V I do not know which to prefer, the grinding gears of clocks or the squeaking of the Earth’s axis; maybe the mourning cries of the living. Time tells all. VI With each change of color, the room’s darkness crept closer, only to be pushed back by the orb’s will to live. Slinking back slowly, the darkness accepts the challenge. 27
VII Oh simpletons of existence, do you not seek life? You live to exist, but do you exist to live? VIII Everyone exists, but not everyone lives. Everyone dies, but not everyone is dead. Everyone cries, but not everyone feels. Everyone is, but not everyone is. IX The orb became black and cracked when the cell became its freedom. X At the sight of the orbâ€™s lacerations, even the Reaper began to weep. XI I looked in the mirror and screamed; I had mistaken my eyes for the orb. XII I stand still as the world continues moving as it was, is, and shall forever be. XIII I stay suspended in time like the rain in a cumulonimbus cloud resting over the Atacama Desert, only realizing my paralysis as my life flashes before my eyes like the lightning in the sky. 28
Mahlon Hanifin Grade 10 29
Michael Rabinovich Grade 11 Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Staircase I Among 20 dreadful staircases The only thing they had in common Was the power to weaken legs II I had three choices Those of a lazy person To choose stairs, elevator, or defeat III The 13 steps did not appear a challenge At first glance It was simply a part of the artifice IV The staircase and the rail Are one The staircase and the legs Are most certainly not one V I do not know which to dread more The act of ascending Or just after VI The lonely staircase pulls all With its ominous force Its satanic creator Laughing at our misery His purpose, indecipherable VII The poor innocent of Haddam Why do you think you can escape? Do you not see how the staircase 30
Creeps around the feet Of the women about you? VIII I know noble elevators They are angelic and divine But I know, too That the staircase is involved In what I know IX When the staircase fell out of sight It marked the end Of the anguish in my legs X At the sight of the staircase Remaining motionless In its dismal atmosphere Even the most audacious Would cry out sharply XI As he entered the Prudential Center He looked forward To the leisurely ride of the elevator Then, a fear pierced him It was shutdown for maintenance… The shadow of the staircase Came into his view XII The metallic staircase is moving Why can’t all follow its example? XIII ’Twas quite a wondrous day And it seemed as if this joy Would never cease But then I noticed the staircase Staring at me with its abating steps 31
The Beauty of the Interior of the Eye
Carlos Mesia Grade 11
Tatianna Auguste Grade 11 Thirteen Ways of Looking at Music I Among the thousands of communications in the world, The only “language” understood by all Is that of music. II It is timeless, Like the love a mother feels For her child. III Music keeps life moving With as little as the beat of one’s step. IV When a chord and a melody Become one, The realm altogether Is now one. V The indefinable word is a gateway to parallel worlds, The life jacket of a person drowning in the chaos of society, And warmth on a cold winter day. VI From the thumping of an infant’s heartbeat To the steady breathing of the elderly, Music speaks for generations.
VII It is hard to imagine a world without music. A universe in silence Is a universe in despair, Soon to be desolate. VIII Music sees no age, Enchanting young and old; Music sees all moods, Whether woeful or exultant. IX It is a never-ending sea of sounds That can halt time, Making the world infinite. X With the hum of music in the air, The world becomes harmonious. XI She listened to music As an escape. Until reality hit her: She mistook isolation For happiness. XII Hearts are still beating; Somewhere music must be playing. XIII Music is what you feel. Music nourishes the soul. 34
Spencer Lloyd Grade 12
Whole I am tired yet I cannot sleep now; Hunger is strong in me, I donâ€™t know how. Food has not been in short supply this day, Yet I find that the more I wait, I pray That though I fast right now, movement will come. I cannot bear to sit in this dark slum, Waiting for my savior to pierce my soul With the motivation to make me whole And stave off the onset of the weak mind Keeping me from the best of all mankind.
Niall Fitzgerald Grade 11 Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Guitar I During the eye of the storm, I relax and forget. My six string, my only companion. II A beautiful object, this piece of wood and strings, A simple object. Oh, how I love its mere presence! III Notes can be played, sure. With the guitar, though, I write, not “play.” My favorite form of literature. IV Hemingway, Salinger, Orwell. Rebellion, love, punk, talent. Yes, I think they would have enjoyed the guitar. V “Play me a song,” they say. “Open your ears,” I say. VI The vast hallway was filled with eager spectators, Ready for the music show. I took the stage on this December night. On the glass of the hall windows, snow. I was nervous. I played my guitar. VII Lying under the sun alone, I thought, “What a beautiful summer day!” The yellow of the sun hit my face, like a shot. I was not nervous. I played my guitar. I felt, and heard the waves of the sea, from afar. 36
VIII A young man, hoping for the future. A poor man, hoping for tomorrow. An old man, just enjoying. A rich man, trying to find meaning. They met at the town center at 7 for rehearsal. They brought their guitars. IX “I’ve never really been into music,” he said. I thought to myself, “What a dull person.” I picked up my guitar and plucked away, my wind wandering To a place I was familiar with. X The crowd was bobbing up and down, Reeling in anticipation of the main act. When they came on stage, the crowd erupted; The lead guitarist was swinging his instrument around like a mad man! XI The notes flew out, sounding terrible. I wondered where I went wrong and remembered how hard The instrument was to play. In this moment I despised the guitar With all my heart. XII Nature is constant. Nature is abstract, nature is wild, nature is calm, Nature is clear. Nature makes up everything and everyone. Music is nature. The guitar, its orchestrator. XIII
It was just past dawn, And the sun shone, but snow was coming. I didn’t know what to do, So I took out my guitar. I played, sang, and watched the sun fall. 37
George Baldini Grade 10 38
George Baldini Grade 10
Tantalizing Beauty Every night I go to bed I look out my window at this view Of the sunset – blue, yellow, and red – Colors which remind me and personify you. Vibrant colors scintillating beauty upon your face Reveal your elegant, luxurious grandeur, Evoking this pulchritude – one we can all embrace, But this is what you think. To us, we abhor Your pretentious and gaudy meretriciousness. Your so-called aesthetic, charming beauty reflected In a blurry, cloudy way, accentuating this Impurity; this flawed, imperfect, and defected Personality, but yet so exquisite that I stare at it every night, Mesmerized, captivated, fascinated by your light.
Abigael Yotts Grade 12
Hourglass O, that this too, too invigorating time would freeze, Halt, and fashion itself into a dream, Or that Chronos had not fixed His eye ’gainst an eternity! O God, God, How even-tempered, carefree, and unblemished Seem to me all the moods of this school! A curse upon it! ’Tis a brief moment When life is going well. ’Tis months and weeks in short Possess it merely. I can’t believe it’s over. But four years gone – nay, not so much, not three. So blissful a time, that was to this Childhood to adulthood; so gentle to me That it might not allow the responsibilities of life Cross my mind too swiftly. O God, Must high school end so quickly?
Mahlon Hanifin Grade 10 41
Kayla Ghantous Grade 11
Lori Atinizian Grade 12 Innocent Escape Cassie ran her fingers along her fragile, six-year-old skin. She felt a shock of pain. Only clumsy little children tripped and fell, and clumsiness was not tolerated under Daddy’s roof. Cassie walked over to her bed and sat down, preparing for her book to sweep her away once again. A branch tapped against the window of Apartment 438. The sky roared, and the ground shook. White lights strobed, piercing the night sky. Cassie sat still on her bed, staring at the wall, concentrating, her eyes still, her body motionless, and her mind itching for another taste of satisfaction. He sat on the wall, had a great fall, and cracked until he… She breathed as her mind slowly tumbled, and her body relaxed. Knick-knack paddywack, give the dog a bone… Her heart beat slower, and her body lost strength as her back slammed against the soft, clean bed Momma forced her to make that morning. Closing her eyes, she began to hum to herself, adding lyrics as she remembered the words: It’s raining; it’s pouring. The old man is snoring. He went to bed and bumped his head, And he couldn’t get up in the morning. Her eyes flickered open. The walls were gone. The storm stopped. The sky was clear. She smiled, as she clearly knew where she traveled. Finally. Momma and Daddy were both gone. She lifted herself from the log and sat up. The forest, brightly colored and luscious, perfect and stunning, made Cassie feel at home. Marcell should have been on his way. He always was when she comes back here. A hot, furry thing rubbed against her back. Marcell, she thought, excited. Turning her head, she saw Marcell, a lovely, well-built tiger, grinning in welcome. 43
“I was beginning to wonder when you were coming back, sweet Cassie,” the tiger said with a beautiful, harmonious voice. Cassie jumped up and hugged her tiger friend in relief. “I’m sorry! I’m so happy to be back. I’ve missed you,” she giggled to herself. She meant every word. She had wanted to come back for a while, but the opportunity never really presented itself. Momma and Daddy took her to the park every day last week, and she was so tired that she forgot about Marcell for a bit. He forgives me, she thought. He’s her best friend. Friends always forgive! She tried to explain why she couldn’t come. “No need for your apology, Cass. I’m happy you’re finally back. I missed taking my friend to places. Have you thought about where you want to go today?” “Can I meet Humpty today? Please, please, please,” she begged. “Ah, Humpty doesn’t like to have visitors, especially such inquisitive little girls. You know what happened to him, Cass. He’s been sensitive ever since…” His voice drifting, he denied her gracefully, trying to avoid the topic. Disappointed, Cassie looked down at her buckled shoes. She had always wanted to see the poor egg. Tears filled her eyes, and her shoes became a blurry image. “Isn’t there anywhere else you’d want to go?” he asked, feeling slightly uncomfortable with Cassie’s tears dripping on the ground. No answer. “If I take you, you have to promise not to giggle or joke around with him. Don’t touch him, and don’t ask him anything. It’s bad enough you’re going to make him feel like some sort of phenomenon people just want to see to believe.” “Thank you so much! I love you, Marcell.” She jumped again, attacking him with another one of her hugs. Her tears were forgotten. Marcell gave a weak smile. They began to walk along the stony path, passing the dead neon leaves on the ground. Marcell knew everything, no doubt about it. Every tree, every leaf, and every creature. She followed behind the cat that was about twice as long as her height and as tall as her. “I trust you had a safe trip?” he said, making conversation. 44
“Yes! It was a bit scary because there was a rainstorm today.” “How’s Mom and Dad?” Cassie ignored the question. Why did he care about Momma and Daddy? They were not here. She was. What’s it to him? “They took you to the park, so I’m assuming they’re good.” They took her to the park to keep her still. Cassie knows. Instead she talked about how excited she was about finally going to see the broken egg. They talked about the clouds, the trees, the animals, the stream that flowed in two different directions, and any other random thing a six-yearold child would point out. They strolled past Little Bo Peep, who was looking for her sheep, Dish, who was holding hands with Spoon, three blind mice, and a few others whom she did not recognize. The sky gradually turned purple as they walked along the path, and clouds appeared. Cassie felt anxious but excited at the same time. When the path stopped, she began to doubt her interests. A shiver crept over her skin while Marcell turned his neck to look at her. “Be polite,” he warned. They walked a bit farther until a stone house took form in the distance. They walked past barren and old trees until they finally arrived. On the door was written “House of Dumpty.” “This is it. You can try knocking, but no one will answer. Just push the door open,” Marcell said. She knocked a few times and pushed the door open. Marcell led the way. All along the walls were portraits of royalty. Cassie didn’t know who they were, but the people in the photos were wearing fancy, fuzzy capes and held their heads up in a certain way. All the pictures on the walls had the same egg in it. Metallic figures were holding hands with the egg. Some had him picked up. One image had the egg surrounded by tents and angry men with horses tied up and a pig over a fire. A crowd of mice ran down the stairs. Cassie could make out the echo of squeaking voices screaming, “Get out!” and “No visitors!” “Ignore them. They can’t do anything while I’m here,” Marcell snickered to himself. Cats eat mice, Cassie realized. “We’re just looking for Sir Dumpty. Don’t mind us.” Marcell led Cassie to a door, indicating Cassie should open it. 45
Inside lay shattered fragments of what once was an egg. An egg? Cassie had never seen a living egg before. A piece lying on a pillow spoke. “What are you doing here? Don’t you know if no one answers the door, you DON’T WALK IN?” “Hi! Sorry, but I’m just here to say hello!” “Well, you’ve said it, now leave.” “But I just got here. I’m a guest, I think.” “Don’t think. It doesn’t work for you.” Tears began to fill her eyes again. Why was he being this way? She hadn’t done anything. “Now Humpty, she’s just a little girl. Don’t be so mean to her. You’d be surprised how much she could relate to you,” defended Marcell. Humpty looked at Cassie. “Ha, okay. I hear your name is Cassie, a little girl who walks all around the world with Marcell, the stupid cat. Why are you even here? Don’t you have your own world to live in?” “All my friends are here,” she croaked, her face wet with little tears. A mouse walked into the room. “Humpty, visitors aren’t good for you in that condition. Allow me to lead them out,” he said, glaring at Cassie and Marcell. “Oh no, leave them be. I have a few words to share with the girl,” he told the mouse. “I should rephrase the question, Cassie. Why are we here?” Cassie looked confused. I’m here because I want to be. He’s here because he had an accident; Marcell is here to spend time with me, she thought to herself. “You should take that puzzled look off your face. It’s your fault I’m here.” Marcell hissed. She felt an overwhelming feeling of hatred and blame form inside her. I don’t know what I did, but I did something. He’s broken and hurt and… It’s all her fault. Humpty glared at her, and she tried defending herself: “But it says in the story that you fell and broke and you couldn’t be put together again.” “It’s your fault I’m here. I broke, but I shouldn’t be here. I 46
shouldn’t be anywhere. I shouldn’t exist. I’m living inside a broken shell. I know how it felt to fall off that wall and hear my body break. All the King’s men couldn’t put me together again. Why am I here?” he asked again. Cassie did not understand what he was talking about, but she felt bad all the same. Marcell spoke. “Cassie, I think we should go now. Don’t you want to visit someone else?” “Why am I here? I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to live like this.” “Yes, please. Can we go?” “I don’t want to be here. Don’t you understand? Let me go!” Cassie started to feel scared. Marcell cried a roar loud enough to pain their ears to make Humpty stop being so mean to her. The crowd of mice ran in and tried to push Marcell and Cassie out of the room. She could hear the raging squeaks leaving the tiny mice. Finally, they managed to push the tiger and the girl out of the building altogether. “Do you hate me?” she asked Marcell. She knew he must be annoyed. He did, after all, warn her against coming. But Marcell didn’t answer. He kept walking, and Cassie followed after, not knowing where he was headed. “Where are we going?” He answered, grim and agitated, “To your home.” “You’re sending me back? You never send me ba–” Marcell interrupted her, snapping, “It’s time for you to grow up and stop being so selfish.” Cassie looked confused. Was he kidding her? Was he playing? How could she tell? He never talked like this to her. Why was he… “We’ve all been hoping you’d grow up. But it seems like you’re too slow to understand. Satisfying your curiosity isn’t helping. It’s making you come back more.” “You want me to come back. You want me to.” “No, Cassie. We all know why you’re here. We all know why we’re here.” Now Cassie understood. Who was she? Some silly girl – who ran 47
away from home through her mind? She felt her heart weighed down. Everyone was gone. Nothing. No one. No animal. No nature. She let out an ear-splitting scream and cried until every detail of every plant dissolved into the furniture in her room. She sits up on her bed. Her bedroom door busts open and Daddy runs in. He paces over to her, and she falls back on the bed. “There is no screaming under my roof from FOOLISH LITTLE GIRLS!” he shouts. She can see her mom leaning against the doorway, disgusted – at Cassie. Daddy walks out of the room and pulls the bedroom key out of his pocket like he did last week. He locks the door behind him. She can hear Daddy’s voice fade as he walks away with Momma… Cassie stands up and walks to her dresser. She glares at a photo of her brother holding a stuffed tiger. She never knew him, but she knows he was her brother. His name is Marc. She wishes for a second that he were still alive so she had someone there to talk to. Opening a drawer from the dresser, she takes a pack of saltine crackers from underneath her clothes and nibbles on one slowly while walking to her bookshelf. She reaches out for a nursery rhyme book. Turning to page 8, she looks at Humpty Dumpty shattered on the ground. He sat on the wall, had a great fall, and cracked until he… She turns to page 9. It’s raining; it’s pouring. The old man is snoring. He went to bed, and he bumped his head and couldn’t get up in the morning. She glances at her bedpost, then turns the page. Jack fell down, broke his crown, and Jill came tumbling after… She looks outside the window. They took out the bars because an angry lady told them that they’d take her away if… And she turns the page again. Here comes a Chopper to Chop off your Head. Chip chop chip chop – the Last Man’s Dead. While walking in the tool shed last year, she fell on a saw and cut her pinky. It hurt. She realizes, though, that it hurt for so long because she was there to feel it. She walks over to the window, hearing a man and woman’s loud voices downstairs. She opens it and leans over the railing, holding the book in her hands. She lets go of it, watching it fall and hearing the loud Thud. It fell down, broke its crown. And with it, she watches herself tumbling after, knowing that no angry lady, Marcell, or Momma and 48
Daddy could ever put her together again. Instead, she finds her way to the mirror, where she watches herself brush her fingers on her face. Beneath the tips of her warm, soft fingers are the gentle cracks of a fragile book.
Carlos Mesia Grade 11
Shawna Dyer Grade 9 Blinded by Love She threw herself at him In the hopes of finding love. She threw herself at him With so much force that She could not stop herself When he did not catch her. She had fallen so in love That she became oblivious To the fact that he did not Want to have her. She, being so blinded, Filled herself up with The belief that he did. So when the time arrived And her world came Crashing down, she broke. She broke into a million pieces. Her heart shattered like A fragile, glass tree ornament That had smashed on the floor From the clumsy fingers Of a small child. And like the ornament, There seemed no way, then, of putting Her heart back together again. 51
Katherine Fuller Grade 10
Rowing on the Charles The water is cold, murky and gray The wind is fierce in our face On a bitter March day New coxswains are still learning to steer And the banks of the Charles Are looming too near Soon enough the weather will be warm Erg times will improve And a new team will be born Until then, weâ€™ll just train and shiver Out here on the cold Charles River
Caitlin Southwick Grade 9
Caitlin Southwick Grade 9 Row “Attention.” It will start any second. I can feel it coming. There’s a tight anticipation. I’m panicked and still. I’m not ready. I can’t breathe. I won’t be ready. “Row!” There’s a great heave as the four girls behind me pull at once. A full stroke. Half. Three quarter. A longer one. Full. And the race is on. I start as I always do. A power ten, ten strokes at full force, followed by a settle ten, to fall into the rhythmic movements that make up the 1500 meters of water before us. I am jerked forward, then back slightly with each stroke. My chest clenches in, and I push back at the upper edge of the gunwales to avoid being thrust into the hull of the boat. Four people are relying on me to see them through to the finish. I won’t give in only fifteen strokes into the race. I begin to coach them, telling them how to pull and how hard. I keep them motivated and press them on. I dictate every action in the boat. I steer the boat carefully through the winding, busy body of polluted water that is the Charles River. I watch the rowers. When they do something wrong, I tell them. When they fix it, I congratulate them. I remember my lineup so I can call them by name, though I can see none of their faces. If something goes wrong, I must think on the spot, make a decision, and act on it, sometimes with only a second’s notice. I have to determine the fastest way to get from one place to another. I tell the rowers how they should be rowing. I obey the traffic pattern and have to both stay out of the way of other boats and stay on the right side of a river that is too shallow to row in some places or has dead trees sticking out of the water in others. I keep track of times and how hard the rowers pull. And I have to make them want it. I have to make them want to exhaust themselves physically, to expend all their energy, then even more. And I have to make them enjoy it as much as possible. If something goes wrong, the coxswain is the first to be blamed 54
as the one in charge. If something goes right, the rowers get all the glory while the coxswain stands back and lets them have their moment. People who have never rowed, even those who follow the sport closely and even some rowers, can never truly know what it is good coxswains do for their boats. So the rowers get all the credit for their work – well-deserved credit, I might add – and their leader is often overlooked. I understand why. To an onlooker it appears that the coxswain just sits in the boat, simply adding extra weight. The rowers are more interesting to watch. They outnumber the coxswain four to one, and they are the ones who appear to be in pain. No one sees the invisible battle of wits between coxswains and their competition. How hard they work to be the best they can possibly be. They have to stay a very low weight, and they have to be focused constantly. They have to endure the wrath of angry coaches and have to work very hard to get into a good boat because they have just one chance to make it where the rowers have eight. Coxswains have to earn respect from the rowers. And they have to deal with the “I could do that” comments. It’s true; almost anyone can cox if they have a boat, rowers, and oars. But almost anyone can draw if they have a pen and paper. To draw very well, you either have to work very, very hard to improve or have to be born with a natural talent and then work even harder. And just like drawing, there are many styles of coxing, and not everyone will like yours. And if they decide it’s not good enough, then you don’t make it. And it can absolutely crush you if you let it. You have to be tough enough to use it rather than let it use you. We reach the last 300 meters, the sprint. This is the most painful part of the race. The rowers have expended all their energy and are running purely on drive and grit. I can barely speak for lack of breath, and the clenching in my chest has turned to a hot pain. We’re almost there. We carry one another on our backs. If one falls, we all fall. Everyone gives the last of what they have, all they can. We make it. We pass the finish line, and it’s over. Everything stops. The rowers stop rowing, the water stops moving, I stop breathing. For two minutes no one moves. Then the rowers take their positions, sit up at the catch, and row.
Madeleine Bomberg Grade 9 End of the Street Bamberg, Germany, 1689: A stooped and pallid man walked out of the dilapidated old house at the end of the street. His coat was a faded and moth-holes-filled, black, woolen winter coat. He had the air of suspiciousness around him: with his coat collar pulled up and his head ducked down, he appeared to be hiding something. It was soon evident that he had rarely been out of the house at the end of the block. Getting lost a few times, he made his destination apparent when he turned down the street of the publisher. At the end of the street stood a grand building. Upon entering the publishing building, he was asked to present the manuscript for the works that he wished to be printed. He handed over a large stack of papers done up with a thread of twine. As he turned to leave, the man called to him, â€œSir, you do know that you cannot print music here?â€? Upon returning home, he picked up the only other copy of the music and put it in a box. Picking up a spade, he went to the lawn and began to dig a long, deep hole. After the completion of the hole, he took the box of music, placed it gently in the ground, and proceeded to bury it. As the days turned to weeks and the weeks to years, he began to play and write his own music again until one day he gave up the will to live. He died doing the thing he loved best: writing music. Bamberg, Germany, 1815: The Marshal Louis-Alexandre Berthier had just found the discovery of his life. Some of his men had found an old box buried in the backyard of some old house. As the men gently set down the box in front of their commander, they all looked very nervous. Louis had been previously told that there were important papers in the box. As the box was opened, everyone in the room leaned forward. Louis reached a hand forward tentatively and snatched up the package. He looked at it, then dropped it on the floor. It was music, nothing special. After looking at it on the floor for a long time, he ordered that it be reburied. The next day he was dead. 56
Bamberg, Germany, 1939: The Bochs were digging in their yard again. No one knew why, but since the new Fuehrer had been elected, they had been digging. It wasn’t that they were Jews. Then they wouldn’t have even had time to dig in the yard. Either way, they were up to something. The next day there was a high-pitched scream coming from the house at the end of the street. Most of the neighbors assumed that the Bochs were in trouble. The noise died down, and there was no indication that anything had happened at the house at the end of the block. Turns out the Bochs had found an old chest full of music manuscripts with the name of a well-known Jewish family on them, and the Bochs did not want to be seen as involved with Jews. Later that week the Gestapo came to pick them up, and no ever saw them again. Bamberg, Germany, 2012: Today a dog arrived at the house at the end of the street. It was a yellow Lab puppy. It had a habit of digging up anything that was in sight. The dog, as they have taken to calling him, dug a huge hole in the yard this morning. He was all muddy and grass-stained but very proud of himself. He had found a very old and decaying wooden box. It was so old that they didn’t even have to force the lock; it just pulled out of the wood. Inside they found manuscripts from an unknown composer. From complete symphonies to violin solos, this composer had every single type of arrangement possible. All were dated back before the time of 1689. All were by a man by the name of Heinrich fur Bamberg. The following day the family from the house at the end of the street traveled out of town to the largest publishing company in Germany, Berenberg Verlag. They walked in with a large manuscript wrapped in brown paper and tied up with twine. They walked up to the front desk and said, “We would like to publish these papers.”
Samantha Saulnier Grade 12
Epistle to Shakespeare Why didst thou write to tease my weathered mind? In eighteen years on earth, I searched to find Translations of your works of tangled strife, Although thy quill ceased long before my life. Rhymes and riddles I scarcely understand, Yet read thy works tradition dost demand. Oâ€™er wrought with visions ravaging your head, I doubt you, Shakespeare, knew the words you bled. Hard toiling with thy voice of middle age, I know why actors dropped upon thy stage. Hamlet passed to end thy scripted madness, Romeo to flee from certain sadness; Still, the globe rejoices thy works to see, And in respect this sonnet mirrors thee.
Caitlin Southwick Grade 9
Zachary Blais Grade 11 60
Erin Hall Grade 12
Decisions To be or not to be – that is the question: Deciding whether it should be done or not Is the real quandary. Like the birds who choose to stay behind While the rest of their flock flies South for the Blustery cold of the winter, One must decide in the same way If ’tis better to go or to stay. Life wavers in the balance as we, Mere children, mark our presence either On this Earth or beyond in the next life. It’s time. Our very own Judgment Day. There, it has been decided. I must go. I must. Flying through the air, seeing nothing But the scrawny trees and wavy grass On this faithless Earth. Gone, gone. Not to be.
Zachary Blais Grade 11 62
Olivia Stenger Grade 11 I’ll Sleep on It: A Murder Mystery She was tiny and pretty with short brown hair and green eyes. She hadn’t even made it home from basketball practice Friday afternoon. Stephen Grace received eleven high fives upon walking through the hallways on the morning of Monday, March 17. He thought that he did a good job of making his smile seem genuine. In fact, his smile had always been genuine, except for that Monday morning. So, he hoped that no one would be able to tell the difference. With every clap of his palm against the hand attached to an arm attached to the body of another admiring student, the knot in his stomach grew bigger and bigger. It grew until he was sure people would be able to see it poking against his shirt if they looked. Stephen knew the reason why everyone was congratulating him. It was because he had finally made his decision to attend college on a scholarship. Or rather, it was decided for him. But that’s not why Stephen was so disturbed that morning. He was used to having things decided for him. But for some reason his leather varsity jacket seemed a little heavier on him today. Maybe because no one knew what he was going to be like in the fall, or what he would look like, or what would happen to him. That is, no one except him. As he walked down the hallway, Stephen thought about what it was like to be the only person on the entire planet to know something. Literally, being the only human being on the face of the earth aware of a simple fact. The reason why he was thinking about this was because he hadn’t told anyone yet. No one knew. He liked it better that way. He liked deceiving people into being happy for him, and he especially liked harboring a secret that would make people look at him differently when he revealed it. He had a flashback to his sixteenth birthday when his father took him driving for the first time. “Listen,” his father had said. “Keep in mind when you’re driving 63
that you have the ability to kill someone just by turning a wheel.” I have the ability to kill someone just by turning a wheel, he thought. And now, I also have the ability to change how people treat me just by telling them what I know. He didn’t want to, though. Even though each congratulatory smile ate away at him slowly, he figured it was better than the awkward pity-stares. He didn’t want people to think of him as weak, and he didn’t want people to go from feeling proud to feeling sympathetic. He couldn’t decide if that made him a better or a worse person. As Stephen continued walking down the hallway, he noticed that the joyful faces of admiration slowly dispersed into faces of distress and horror. By the time he reached his locker, it looked as if everyone had the life drained from them. He nervously looked over his shoulder, expecting someone to come up to him and express their condolences for his... situation. Panic rose in his throat as he tried to come up with ways to brush off his sure-to-be obvious devastation. Maybe he could say that bad things happen so that better things can come along? Or that there’s a reason for everything? His brain was scrambling when a freshman boy asked him if he had heard what happened. “No,” Stephen blurted out before he knew what he was saying. Is this how people would approach the subject? He had never been in this position before. “Maya was killed... here... They found her body this morning in the trophy case...” The boy trailed off, his face a ghostly white as his eyes glazed over, looking past Stephen. Stephen turned around to see a few men wearing police uniforms and hazmat suits carrying a blue bag. He had seen enough CSI to know what was in it; the knowledge that the bag held someone who had been in his class replaced the panic in his throat with pain. He hadn’t really known Maya. He had bumped into her last Friday morning because he hadn’t been paying attention to where he was walking; once again, he had been thinking about being the only human on the planet to be aware of something. He muffled a quick apology, but she had smiled brightly up at him with shining eyes and a “No problem! Have a good day!” and continued walking. Stephen smiled back genuinely that Friday for the first time in weeks. And now she was dead. 64
Dalia had a headache before she got to school Monday morning. She had a headache the second she opened her eyes upon hearing her alarm go off at sunrise, and she had a headache as she sat in her car in the student parking lot, rubbing her temples and dreading the day ahead of her. Her weekend came back to her in flashes as she squeezed her eyes shut and pinched the bridge of her nose with her fingers. That’s all she had, though: just flashes. Brief, passing images that were completely unrelated and didn’t add up at all. She remembered driving home Friday afternoon, but she must’ve gone out again after that because she also remembered watching the sun set through some black tree branches. She remembered this because she recalled thinking that the way the bright orange light from the sun contrasted quite nicely against the dark branches would’ve made a nice painting. Then, she had a memory of a long, dark hallway. She wasn’t positive, but it looked like a school hallway. There was a single lit classroom at the end. Dalia couldn’t tell if it was a hallway in her school... but where else would it be? In a flash it was gone and replaced with an image of hands. Two pairs of different hands, doing something and making some kind of motion. Again it was dark, and all she saw was the outline of four hands belonging to two different bodies; she didn’t even know if any of them were hers or not. The next flash wasn’t dark; there was a window with a stream of sunshine shining through a room with yellow walls. There was an oak table and an old, jaded book resting on top of it, but it was gone as soon as the image came to her. The last memory of her weekend was a large and unfamiliar cherry wood door with a huge brass knocker on it. Confused and disoriented, she opened her eyes upon hearing her alarm blare on Monday morning. She woke up in her bed wearing dirtcovered jeans and a loose-fitting white T-shirt she didn’t recognize. So that was it. A hallway, some anonymous hands, a table, a book, and a door. Dalia knew that teenagers everywhere have woken up in the morning with no recollection of what happened the night before. She wasn’t naïve. Everyone thought she was, but she wasn’t. But she was almost positive that kids usually didn’t have their entire weekends erased. And the last thing she remembered was driving home Friday afternoon. The sun had still been out, and she was heading home to have 65
dinner with her parents. As hard as she tried, she couldn’t remember anything between the drive home and black branches against an orange sunset, and she couldn’t remember anything between the branches and the hands. All of the pictures were only pictures; they gave no identifiers to any location or time, no other sensory indicators besides what she could see. Dalia decided that rather than going to school, she would just sit in her car all day racking her brain until her memory came back. Dalia shook her head and stumbled out of her car as if there were weights tied to her wrists. She slammed her car door shut and began walking toward the doors of her school. Her head spun, and her vision blurred. She had to steady herself on the side of her car a few times before she could walk in a straight line. She realized what a safety hazard it must have been for her to drive to school that morning. But then again, she didn’t really remember the drive. What happened to me? she thought as she wobbled through the parking lot. Somehow, she made it to the door, opening it with a shaky hand. The entrance to her school was buzzing; the halls were crowded with teenagers all yelling about something, but their voices sounded muffled in her head. “Where have you been?” she heard a voice say. It sounded distant, but she knew it was close. Dalia jerked her head to the right, where she thought the voice was coming from. “What are you looking at? Did you hear me? What happened to you this weekend?” the voice said again. She looked to her left and saw a short red-haired girl with huge, panicked brown eyes. The face was familiar to her... She knew who the girl was. And obviously, the girl knew her. “Were you under a rock for the past two days? I’ve been calling you all weekend... I called you six times this morning. You haven’t heard what happened, then?” This girl talked a lot. And she talked fast; her words jumbled together in Dalia’s head and became one incoherent noise. If she called Dalia as many times as she said she did, they must be good friends. But why couldn’t she remember her name? “Ava,” Dalia said slowly. The girl whose name was Ava looked at Dalia like she had another head growing out of her neck. “Yeah? What’s with you? You said you would call me this 66
weekend, and you never did. Your phone went straight to voice mail... Do you have any idea what’s going on?” Dalia wished the girl would stop asking so many demanding questions. It was taking her long enough to process complete sentences, let alone come up with answers. They just called an emergency assembly in the gym. We need to go. By the way, why are you late? You’re never late.” Dalia blinked. She forgot that she was never late. But she remembered when Ava brought it up. She was never late for anything, and she always stayed home on Friday nights to make dinner for her parents. Her best friend was Ava, and she promised she would call her on Saturday. Dalia would be the last person to fall asleep without putting on her pajamas first, and she would especially never wear jeans to bed. And she had no memory of what she did that weekend. The dull whirring of the overhead lights and machinery was the only sound in the crime lab other than the solitary forensic examiner humming to herself as she worked with the evidence from the scene. One side of the room was a long metal table holding up the dead body of a young girl named Maya. She was tiny and pretty with short brown hair and green eyes. On another table sat a mound of envelopes and bags full of evidence collected from the high school and from her body before it was cleaned. Two envelopes contained hair from two different people. In one envelope was black curly hair that belonged to Maya. It fell out sometime during her murder. The other envelope contained hair also found on Maya’s body from someone else who hadn’t been identified yet. It was bright red.
Zachary Blais Grade 11
Annemarie Ng Grade 12 Feeling Hopeless When all else seems hopeless and suddenly your life turns into an endless rainy day. Maybe all you need is… a good, hard laugh and a long relaxing holiday to chase your morbid blues away. A friend who will listen to what you need to say; even if they disagree, you know they’ll be there for you anyway. When all else seems hopeless and you see your future cease to be. Maybe all you need is… some extra company that comes in the form of a cute, cuddly puppy. A cup of grandma’s sweet ice tea to drink on her back porch while watching the crashing waves of the deep blue sea. When all else seems hopeless and you’re tied 2-2 with only seconds left to go. Maybe all you need is… to focus on what you know, this is not their show; just go with the flow, the pressure is not so much so. Even when the crowd goes Whoa! all you hear is the echo. You handle the puck from heel to toe while thinking over and over again: “I’m gonna be the hero!” You whizz past the last defensive row, and now you’ve got the goalie 1-on-0. Exactly like a yo-yo, you move the biscuit to and fro. The goalie is crouched down low; 69
it’s time for you to make some dough. You hold your breath and let it go… The buzzer sounds with a loud blow, but lucky for you, you feel no sorrow… ’cause you just sniped “bar down” as if it were a demo. And now your reward: you have earned the right to know… A face that glows and the pig pile that is soon to follow.
Kayla Ghantous Grade 11
Brian Brooks Grade 12 Arch Nemesis I fear him. He’s an ugly brute – claws long enough to send shivers down the stoutest man’s spine, teeth that, when exposed as the lips draw back in a menacing hiss, gleam brightly like a warrior’s freshly-polished dagger, thirsty for battle, and the only thing blacker than the sleek fur of his coat is the cold, cruel mass that is his heart. But the eyes. Oh, the eyes. Those piercing auburn globes, befitting Sauron himself, hang suspended in the shadows, as if detached from the body, watching and contemplating, malevolently deciding the fate of all who dare cross their unyielding gaze. And he is cunning. He has managed to gain the trust of many around me, often laying his freshly killed prey at their feet as tribute, but I know better. He is only biding his time, waiting for the opportune moment in which to strike. Such intelligence is unnatural for a brute, yet it is so; it is as if this hell beast, unleashed by the devil himself to carry out his darker purpose, enjoys but two things in life: torturing the souls of unsuspecting children and napping. That furry ball of rage and I have been locked in bloody struggle as long as I can remember, and thus far, I am losing. Badly. His unrelenting campaign of vicious guerrilla warfare has long plagued my visits to Grandma’s. As I cross the threshold into my grandmother’s house with trepidation, alert as can be, the hairs of my neck standing at attention, that horrible pit in one’s stomach that always occurs precisely when it is most unneeded makes a rather inconvenient appearance; he is watching me. My eyes dart around the room as I hug my grandmother, checking the lunging points of his previous attacks, be it under the couch, on top of the coat rack, or on the mantle above the fireplace. I glance down at the scar on the back of my hand, a thin mark just above the third knuckle of my ring finger, a testament to a former battle with my heartless foe. I make my way over to the kitchen table, where a fresh batch of cookies awaits me, and sit down. And that is when I see him. On top of the bookcase, ears flat against his skull, whole body tense in anticipation of his kill. I allow my cookie to fall into my two-percent milk with a loud plop that resonates throughout the kitchen. We meet again. George, my grandmother’s cat, is anything but snuggly. 72
Mahlon Hanifin Grade 10
Helen Fulham Grade 9 74
Stephen Ng Grade 10
Inspiration Are you feeling pressed because of work? Are you experiencing a lot of pressure? Perhaps you should depress yourself. Maybe you should climb a mountain Or swim to the top to get some air Or ride in an airplane, to reduce the pressure. Just remember when you are high In the sky, you will have to come down eventually. When you finally get down, you will sigh, Probably because of all that pressure. Hopefully, you will start to counteract it When you are sure that you have the energy to press Against the pressure; you will be relieved That you will no longer have to endure that force.
Bronwyn Purcell Grade 12 OMG1 Wat’s2 the 4113? BOSTON—This just in from the kitchen: my mom told me to “pick up my phone and call Merry.” What does she thinks this is, the 20th century? SMH4. From the awkward pauses to the inevitable dilemma of who hangs up first, a phone call is a recipe for disaster. Why waste a breath when I can send her a text? Texting is easier, faster, and requires much less energy. The best part about texting is the inability to discern the other person’s emotions. I have the power to guess and decide how they are feeling; it’s so liberating. IMHO5, I hate the sound of my own voice recorded over the phone. I would much rather create a mysterious persona over a text and lead people to believe I have an alluring, raspy voice. LOL6. My mom just suggested I go on a date with a boy I’ve never even texted. AYKM7? First she wants me to make a phone call, and now this. I don’t know anything about him. How am I supposed to judge his character or reliability without knowing if he says “hi” or “hey,” “ok” or “okay,” “ ya” or “yeah,” “ yep” or “yup,” “lol” or “haha,” “bye” or “cya.” Just envisioning the sweaty palms, wandering eyes, and forced laughter makes me cringe. And what if he’s a drab or a creep? At least over text I can fake a smile with a misleading emoji or pretend my phone died to escape the conversation. LBH8, I need to text him for at least a month before I can speak to him in the hallway. OMG. Merry just “K”ed me. BFLN9. 1 OMG: oh my god 2 Wat’s: what is 3 411: information 4 SMH: shaking my head 5 IMHO: in my humble opinion 6 LOL: laugh out loud 7 AYKM: are you kidding me 8 LBH: let’s be honest 9 BFLN: best friends like never
Zinjun Lu Grade 10 77
Annemarie Ng Grade 12 Interstate 70 We are driving east on Interstate 70 in a freshly-waxed, red, ’75 Shelby Mustang convertible with the hood down. The needle on the speedometer hits eighty, for it is quite easy to get carried away when driving on the open roads in Kansas, the “Great American Desert.” The sky is clear and baby blue with only a single puffy white cloud floating across it, like a boat sailing into the sunset. With the music blasting, my friends and I take Eric’s Shelby for a joyride; after all, it is my birthday! The fiery sun, as bright as burning magnesium, acts like a halo always shining right above our heads. Beautiful seas of endless wheat turn the never-ending Kansas prairies golden. Every now and then grasslands spring up like pictures from a pop-up book, sprinkled with wild flowers that give off a satisfying and fulfilling aroma. I close my eyes and, like a sponge, I take the time to soak in everything around me. As the wind blows, my long blonde hair whips my face as if it were the back of a workhorse. The gentle humming of big iron machines rolling through the fields sings me a lullaby. The temperature is comfortably cozy like the inside of a house warmed by a hearth in the dead of winter. With my eyes closed, memories come streaming in like confetti on New Year’s Eve. I am floating on cloud nine, being enraptured with intriguing delight. A little overwhelmed with this ethereal sensation, I take a deep breath and instead of smelling a sweet aroma, a strange grassy smell has seemed to take its place. Suddenly, out of nowhere a loud, ominous rumble slithers across the sky, infinitely disrupting all peace, joy, and happiness I was feeling. My blue eyes flash open wide and alert, fierce and dark like the sky, now buried beneath the thick layers of clouds. We all notice a vehement storm begin to develop far off to our right; luckily, we are not close enough for it to take us prisoners. We slow the car down to twenty anyway so to register this inconceivable spectacle of nature. Gradually, a dark funnel forms in the clouds, waving around like an elephant’s trunk, and out of the blue a menacing tornado screams across the land. Lightning zigzags at the 78
heart of this cyclone, and destruction comes faster than a hummingbird’s heartbeat. Trees look as if they are trying to run away, bending and struggling against the tremendous forces of nature. A house that had stood firm and tall as if it were an invincible god has now shattered into a million wooden splinters. The straw from the many hay bales, rolled and tied despairingly, has been driven into wooden boards like nails. This whirlwind is petrifying to watch but mesmerizing all the same. As it rips through cement, concrete, bridges, anything that stands in its way, it tosses animals, street signs, houses, and even buildings miles away. All enthralled in the previously unseen and unexperienced nature of this twister, we forget that we’re still on the highway in Eric’s ’75 Shelby Mustang going twenty. After merely a minute or two, the mighty beast seems to be giving in and is suddenly engulfed back into its home in the sky. Now with clear skies, the sun shining even brighter than before, the wild twister gone, and with all chaos having been evaporated up into the sky, we are left with the tranquility of the open roads of Kansas, taken from us not moments ago. That tranquility is again interrupted, but this time by the honking of an eighteen-wheeler coming at us head-on! That is the last time I ever heard the voices of two of my best friends. My only other surviving friend and I have blacked out... I was told later that we (the survivors) had both been tossed from the convertible. She unfortunately severed her left hand and broke some vertebrae in her back. She is presently confined to a wheelchair and is haunted by flashbacks of the crash. I, Catherine Wheelock, super-star high school competitive runner, just turned twenty-one, having only completed one of the many marathons I had wished to tackle, have shattered my entire left leg and have been told there is no way to fix it, even if I underwent surgery – “The bones are so far out of place that it would be more beneficial to have the leg amputated, Catherine. Do you understand? You will never be able to run again. I’m terribly sorry...” These words pierce me day in and day out. I was in denial of everything until I received a phone call from my high school track coach. I will never forget that conversation – Me: “Competitive running will always be my life. I will stop at nothing, coach!” Coach: “I know, Catherine; that attitude is the reason why, for 79
you, impossible is nothing and nothing is impossible! Good luck, Cat!â€? Today, I actively compete in marathons in cities around the U.S., except the only difference now is wheeling across the finish line instead of running across it. Impossible is nothing!
On the Edge of Glory
Georgia Leahy Grade 10 81
Lori Atinizian Grade 12 Converse Wherever you go, Shoes go with you. Wherever you fly, Shoes fly with you. If you jump in a puddle of water, your Shoes drench. If you walk in a pile of mud, your Shoes soil. And through all this, no one notices Shoes can be your best friend. They protect you. Comfort you. Ease you. They are there for you, holding you in place. Never do they abandon you during Every match, every dance, every wedding. They catch you when you fall, Complete your life’s necessities. Even in war do these blessed pals Protect every step you take From every shard on the floor And every demoralized moment plaguing with doubt. And here I beg my sanity, For I want all to realize there’s more to these Shoes Than a plaid-patterned framework. An honest friend: The warmth when there is no such thing as fire, The love when there is no such comfort alive. Every human quality can be found in your pair of Shoes. Damaged when you abuse them, happy when you care for them. Most importantly, Shoes have souls, just like you – just like me, So don’t search too hard: You can find it all in a pair of Converse. 82
Alexa Barros Grade 11
Fawnâ€™s Prize She was drawn to the hurdles, her region of expertise. As she moved up to the starting line, the air became tense and quiet. The shot rang out and the running commenced. She ran swiftly and jumped daintily over the hurdles, just as a deer dashing from being prey. With nothing else on its mind, the deerâ€™s line of jumping precise and on target. Nothing was to be in her way, nothing to stop her. Her eye caught on the prize. Bolting towards the finish line.
Isabel Lord Grade 10 Not His The room is quiet. A worn jacket, faded from the years of rain, hangs on a hook next to the mahogany door. The apartment is by no means messy; all the furnishings have been cleaned and the dishes washed. A lone espresso machine sits on the counter, a coffee cup on a spotless glass table. A man, mid-fifties, rests in a rocking chair reading the paper. Although it is early in the morning, it appears as though he has been up for a while, for he has seemed to have reached a state of flawlessness impossible to obtain without a generous amount of time. Shifting in his chair, he raises his coffee to his lips, glancing out the window at the gray horizon. The rain never stops, he thinks. He asks himself why he’s never moved, the same thing he’s wondered every morning for the past fifteen years. He puts the coffee down and settles back into his chair. Looking into the other room, he sees the shadow of his son, first unlocking the window to the fire escape and then slowly coming to join his father. Someone knocks at the door, but the man doesn’t stir. There is a thud, and the door shudders. More thuds, and the wood begins to split; still, his eyes never lift from the paper. Suddenly a crash, and officers come thundering in, weapons out. The man turns around in his chair and casually folds his paper, placing it next to his coffee cup. He stands up and, without needing to be told, raises his hands above his head. Half a mile away, an ambulance shrieks down Mt. Claire Street. A man, younger than the first, folds up his newspaper and sets it down on the bench next to him. He is dressed in a crisp suit, his shirt without wrinkles, his shoes shined. Seeming to be in his twenties, he shows no signs of aging apart from the reading glasses resting on his nose. He sits alone in a park, under a roof shielding him from the rain. It’s slowed to a drizzle now, and casually he checks his watch. 11:45. Just as he rehearsed, he takes off his glasses and places them and the newspaper in a black leather briefcase. His name, Jason Curry, is engraved in the gold plate below the lock. With the briefcase in his hands, he stands up and heads off into the rain. 84
Slowly meandering along the muddy path of the park, he looks around and unfurls his umbrella. It seems as though it does not belong to him; its tattered features do not match the shine of his suit. The name of a bank, F. E. Monahan, is written in faded script across its scalloped canopy. He continues down the path with a slight limp, then crosses over the damp grass to an opening, where the busyness of the street meets the seclusion of the park. He crosses it and enters an apartment building just as a police car pulls out, the silhouette of a man in the backseat. He was right; they got him, Jason thinks and feels some sadness at the realization that he is the only one who remains. He walks across the marbled floor of the lobby, enjoying the clicking sound his shoes make, and enters the elevator. With a ding the elevator reaches his destination, and he is immediately greeted by the familiar yellow and black of the caution tape. Without hesitation he climbs under and makes his way to the place where they are all centered, Apartment 6A. Stepping over split wood that once made up the door, he grabs the worn coat with a movement that contradicts his originally calm demeanor, and he hurries back to the waiting elevator. Twenty minutes later, he is climbing the granite steps of a museum. Two giant posters, hanging between columns of an equally mammoth size, advertise the galleries of the month and flap in the wind. He steps inside to the atrium and makes his way to the security line. “Good morning, sir.” A cheery old man, roughly six feet tall, stands in a blue security uniform to the right of the metal detector. Out of habit Jason glances at the gun strapped to the man’s hip. “Good morning,” Jason cordially responds. “Beautiful day out, isn’t it?” “Yes, sir. They say the rain will clear out by the end of this week.” Jason can sense the hope, the excitement, in the stranger’s voice, yet he knows the statement is false. Just another lie conceived by reporters and told to the nation in order to keep the hope running. In five minutes he is in. He checks his watch. 12:30. Three hours until closing time. 1:21. He is strolling through the exhibits, sipping a soda he got from the cafe. 3:02. The loudspeaker announces the thirty-minute warning. 85
Jason smiles to himself and slips unseen behind a heavy metal door. A bright red sign, slightly tilted, hangs on it, reading, â€œStaff Only.â€? He opens his briefcase with a click and pulls out a heavy-duty flashlight. Shining it around the room, he lights up the towers of buckets and chemicals of the janitorâ€™s closet. He takes off his blazer, folding it and placing it on the shelf next to his head, and settles in. 8:45. He wakes up to the loud bang of the museum doors closing for the night and knows he is the only one there. Stiffly, he places his blazer in the briefcase and removes the coat. The heat of the afternoon is gone, and he shivers as he places the heavy jacket over his shoulders. With a deep breath he slowly opens the door. The lights are out, and once more he pulls out his flashlight. Calmly, he steps out into the open gallery. His footsteps echo throughout the building, but no other sound can be heard. He walks to the center of the room and stands poised, looking around. The serenity of this place at night is wonderful, in sharp contrast to the mayhem that was happening almost five hours ago. The silence calms his nerves, and he lays his briefcase on the cushioned bench beside him. He clicks open the briefcase and pulls out a pair of leather gloves. He puts them on and steps forth, facing a small painting. Pressing his hands up against the cool wood frame, he runs his fingers along the carvings and pulls. Without an effort the painting is lifted off the wall. As he stands there, the multi-million dollar masterpiece in his hands, the silence becomes deafening. All he can hear is his heartbeat, pounding through his veins, his neck, his head. Turning, he walks stiffly back to the bench and places the work of art in his briefcase, which he closes carefully. And then, almost with an air of defiance, he picks the briefcase up, grasping it in his now gloveless hands. Hands that look like they come from another body, old and weathered. His fingernails are short but cut with an inequality that differs from the perfection of his face. He raises these hands and starts gently pulling the skin from what seems to be his face. And with one last swift movement, he tears off the mask and tosses it into a nearby trash can. A man, mid-fifties, has emerged. However, he lacks the flawlessness that he had obtained in the morning, for his face is now dotted with bruises. Nonetheless, he smiles to himself and exits once more into the rain. 86
Grant Michl Grade 12
All Cost The two sides seemed to be engaged to fight, Locked in battle, enraged, claiming the right. Democrats and Republicans voted Against each other, though hardly gloated. For their success was absent and gone, done, But they would rather argue about guns. Meantime their country falls apart, dying, While they sit in Congress, lamely lying. For what sort could be so blind and so lost To oppose each other at any cost?
Nicholas Weber Grade 10
Lucas Hinds Grade 12
In My Eyes You animal, you sloth, you lazy sloth, You prance around without a smear on your cloth. Because of all your accomplishments in life? Thereâ€™s no need for a job when you can fly kites. Sit on your couch, and drink your wine, dear sir. You are royalty; donâ€™t move a finger. The strong horses are here at your desire, So ride them until their backs are on fire. Heed my words; they will not lead you astray, But God alone knows your fate on Judgment Day.
Robert Beams Grade 12
The King Sitting on your throne of lies, The man America yearns to despise. Once like a king that soon shall be forgotten, A bright red apple soon turned rotten. Battling through adversity, you won the peopleâ€™s graces; You were the almighty, winning many races. Like a blessed king you sat upon your throne, Little did we know, with a heart of stone. A king corrupted by fame, A king that we soon shall forget by name. He built the golden palace out of lies, And now he, Lance Armstrong, dies.
Nicholas Weber Grade 10
Louisa Vincent Grade 9 An Unexpected Surprise It was a small, wooden cabin located not far from the water and with a green lawn that stretched to the shore. Entering the winding driveway, the eager Bennett family, after a long drive, arrived at their newly-purchased summer home. It was the summer of 1925 and one to remember. Two little feet were the first to hop out of the car. Caroline, having just turned seven, knew that it was going to be a terrific summer on Moosehead Lake. Following her was her older brother John, their mother and father, and their loyal housekeeper Abigail. Their first task was to move all of the furniture and personal belongings into the house. This did not take very long, for the cabin was not too large. Caroline and John claimed the loft overlooking the living area as their own while Mr. and Mrs. Bennett took the bedroom on the first floor, leaving Abigail the guest room. Mr. and Mrs. Bennett were relieved that the first day in the house was uneventful. However, the next morning the children woke up to the sound of something rustling in the back yard. As they peered out the window, they spotted their first deer. This was not the only wildlife encounter for the day. When Abigail went to prepare lunch, she found an unexpected guest residing in the cabinet under the sink. While reaching for the sponge, she found a raccoon! After the struggle of getting this old creature out from under the sink, Abigail returned to her room for some rest because it was all too much for her. She found herself daydreaming about her home in Chicago where she grew up, her family, and her desire to return to them. Abigail was not one to travel, but she did enjoy the company of the Bennetts. To keep her mind off of things, Abigail began to clean. She started with the living room, then did the kitchen, the bathroom, and, lastly, her room. The walls were plain and the curtains dull, and the bed, mirror, and dresser had been left there from the previous owner, but the view of Moosehead Lake was spectacular. The soft sounds of the waves had a soothing effect that 92
reassured her that staying there was not going to be such a bad thing after all. So, she decided to unpack her clothes. She placed her shoes and hung her belongings in the closet, but when she went over to put her garments in the dresser, she found another unexpected surprise. In the bottom drawer of the dresser was a roll of cash. In shock Abigail picked it up. It was like something she had read about in a book. It was buried treasure. But what should she do with it? Should she keep it or tell Mr. and Mrs. Bennett? Abigail laid it out on the bed and counted the money. It added up to five thousand dollars, enough to return home and see her family. “Abigail? Could you please come help us hang these new curtains?” called Mrs. Bennett. “Right away, ma’am, right away,” replied Abigail. Was this her opportunity to tell Mr. and Mrs. Bennett? Abigail went to help the family but did not say a word. She needed more time to think. That night Abigail had an awful dream about the consequences of keeping the money. Yes, she was able to see her family, but she also lost the other family that she loved as well, the Bennetts. They did not think that it was right for her to keep the money; it was better for her to return it to the rightful owner, so they fired her from her job. Abigail made the journey to Chicago but traveled the whole way in guilt. It was not the way Abigail wanted to live her life, and she also thought about the consequences for the family who left the money in the drawer. Maybe they needed that money for food, medicine, or other essentials. Abigail woke to the feeling of guilt and made a new plan of action. In the morning she was going to present the money to the family, then suggest that they return it to the rightful owner. That morning, after cooking the pancakes, Abigail returned to her room to grab the money. She presented it to the Bennetts and told them about her dream and concerns for the other family. Mr. and Mrs. Bennett commended her thoughtful qualities and honest ways, and the next morning they drove into town to find the address of the people who had lost the money. They found out that the money had belonged to an elderly man who had passed away a month earlier. He did not have any close friends or family that he could have entrusted his belongings to, so the money 93
was given to Abigail. Abigail donated some of the money to the homeless shelter, spent some on fixing up the house on Moosehead Lake, and saved the rest for the time when she would travel out to Chicago to see her family. Abigail knew that it was the right thing to do, so she was able to spend the rest of the summer on the beautiful lake in peace.
Elizabeth Tamburello Grade 10
Brian Brooks Grade 12 Mr. Henry J. Morrissey It was a dark and stormy night. Thunder echoed through the skies, providing a jolting encore that seemed to intensify and applaud the fury of each successive lightning strike. The rain pounded on the roof of the old house, the wind threatening to break and splinter the worn oaken door. Rather inconvenient for the story, really. You see, some people might take it the wrong way and interpret a bit of bad weather as some sort of morbid foreshadowing, but no. That’s not to say this story won’t be morbid, as it very well may be. I’m not commenting on any future events at all or ruling out any possibilities, for that matter. I’m merely trying to set the stage, to paint a picture in your mind. So just cut me some slack, okay? You can’t control the weather. It just sort of happens one way or another. And you have to deal with it as a writer. Just like you have to deal with Mr. Henry J. Morrissey. Mr. Henry J. Morrissey, you see, is perhaps the least agreeable man on the planet, Mr. Robert G. Pierce excluded. But more on him later. Mr. Henry J. Morrissey has been on this earth for sixty-two years, four months, and eleven days, and for sixty-two years, four months, and eleven days, he has lived a rather unremarkable life. In fact one might say that it is fantastically remarkable just how unremarkable his life has been. In the entire sixty-two years, four months, and eleven days of his useless, oxygen-wasting existence, he has done exactly and only three things worth being remarked upon at all, which is precisely thirteen thousand, eight hundred and seventy-two remarkable things below the global average of someone his age (just in case you were wondering). So, as you can plainly see, Mr. Henry J. Morrissey is quite on the wrong side of the bell curve. Regardless, and because it is such a short list, I have no qualms relating those few remarkable things to you now. Thing number one: In 1963, at the age of seventeen, Mr. Henry J. Morrissey parallel parked successfully the very first time he attempted to do so. He would not accomplish the feat again on any of his next three hundred and twelve attempts. Thing number two: In 1972, at the age of 96
twenty-six, Mr. Henry J. Morrissey caught a glass that tumbled out of the kitchen cabinet as he opened it, and was rather pleased with himself. Upon further examination he discovered the glass was actually plastic and would not have broken anyway. He was slightly let down. Nevertheless, it remained the highlight of his decade. Thing number three: In 1997, at the age of fifty-one, Mr. Henry J. Morrissey encountered a stranger in an elevator who gave the faintest laugh in response to Mr. Henry J. Morrissey’s finest and most recent attempt at a joke: “Nice weather today, isn’t it?” The weather that day was, in fact, not nice. Anyway, it was thundering with dark clouds and the like, and Mr. Henry J. Morrissey was soundlessly and dreamlessly asleep in his bed because dreams are for fools, and while the Morrissey men were many things, fools were not one of them, and thus they do not stand for such nonsense. Today, unbeknownst to him, however, was to become the most interesting day of Mr. Henry J. Morrissey’s otherwise very dull life. It was an irregular day from the start because when he woke up, he woke up feeling dangerous. That startled him a little, as he normally was not accustomed to feeling much of anything. Feelings were for the weak, and while the Morrissey men were many things, weak was not one of them. Yet today he… felt. The new, more dangerous Mr. Henry J. Morrissey turned the little brass knob on his toaster over to setting three instead of his normal, more conservative two. He slightly burnt his whole-wheat toast, yet, being the dangerous man he was, he was entirely and completely unfazed. Proceeding to the bathroom, he brushed his teeth for just one minute and forty-five seconds instead of the full two. Digging into the back of his closet, he found and fastened around his neck an entirely unconservative green tie with little white sailboats on it that he had never worn before, a gift from his sister on his forty-ninth birthday. He despised birthdays. Mr. Henry J. Morrissey stepped outside into the morning dew, got into his car to go to work, and, reaching for the seat belt, decided against it. He was living life on the edge. He then slowed at the end of his street to a complete stop before a sign which had instructed him to do so, in a highly controlled manner that was sure to preserve his brakes in the long run because brake jobs are expensive, you know. He then promptly got the willies and buckled up. Rules are rules, after all. 97
Mr. Henry J. Morrissey worked at a bank because that’s the most clichéd job for a boring person to have, and Mr. Henry J. Morrissey was a very boring person. Arriving there, he sat down behind his desk, and, as he did every morning, polished his brass nameplate, which proudly stated, “MR. HENRY J. MORRISSEY, LOAN OFFICER.” He was quite fond of his brass nameplate. In fact, brass was thing number one of the only three things in this world that Mr. Henry J. Morrissey was quite fond of. Because, you see, brass is a very distinguished, proud metal, without being overly ostentatious. It is certainly not a pretentious metal, like gold or silver, and is always willing to put in a hard day’s work. Brass is your lunch-pail worker of metals, if you will. Mr. Henry J. Morrissey was quite fond of that. The rest of the list is as follows: thing number two: a freshly-pressed pair of trousers. Every night, directly before he went to bed, Mr. Henry J. Morrissey would press the following day’s trousers, which always put him in a good mood. After all, what else could a man ask for? Waking up in the morning to a crisply-creased, perfectly-pressed pair of trousers was to Mr. Henry J. Morrissey the epitome of modern civilization. Thing number three: a good newspaper. Every morning at 9:00, Mr. Henry J. Morrissey would call his intern, Barkley, into his office, hand him fifty pence, and instruct him to run down to the corner store to fetch him a fresh copy of The Times. Upon Barkley’s return, Mr. Henry J. Morrissey would snatch the paper out of Barkley’s hand like a terrier lunging for a sausage that does not belong to him, but then, unlike the terrier, Mr. Henry J. Morrissey would pause for a moment, holding the headline just under his nose, inhaling the scent of the freshlyprinted ink just before devouring. This particular morning’s headline read, “LONDON CRIME AT AN EIGHT-YEAR LOW.” Mr. Henry J. Morrissey smiled knowingly. “Ermm… Excuse me, I –” Mr. Henry J. Morrissey, buried deep in the business section, raised a solitary, stern finger, silencing the man, not looking up for what most would view to be an unprofessional amount of time. After finishing the remaining two paragraphs of his article, he folded up the newspaper, placed it on his desk, and locked his listless brown eyes upon the man. “Continue,” said Mr. Henry J. Morrissey. “Well,” said the man, looking slightly flustered, “I want to open 98
up a restaurant and would like to apply for a loan. Now, as you’ll see here,” said the man, opening his briefcase and pulling out a stack of papers, “my projections indicate that a Thai food restaurant in…” Mr. Henry J. Morrissey stopped listening. He hated Thai food. Or anything foreign, for that matter. He looked the man up and down, abhorring everything about him. “No, go away. Get out of my office,” he said curtly. “Sir, if you’ll just take a look at these numbers –” “Barkley, get in here,” called Mr. Henry J. Morrissey, cutting the man off mid-sentence. Some frantic footsteps followed by the sound of a chair falling over could be heard in the other room before a breathless Barkley poked his head through the doorway. “Sir?” “Barkley, would you please escort this man out of the building? He is being belligerent, and I will not have belligerence in my office,” said Mr. Henry J. Morrissey, opening his newspaper back up to the business section, unaware that there was soon to be an excessive amount of belligerence in his office. Just as Barkley and the man were approaching the front door, Mr. Robert G. Pierce entered the building. He did not look like Mr. Robert G. Pierce, nor anyone in particular, for that matter, for the normal identifying characteristics of his face by which one might recognize him were obscured by a mask that one might normally wear whilst skiing rather than at a bank in the suburbs of London. But who am I to judge a man on his choice of attire? I’m sitting here relating this story to you in gray sweatpants and a dirty T-shirt, so whatever the opposite of looking dapper is, that is what I currently am. Perhaps Mr. Robert G. Pierce simply had poor blood flow and wanted to stay warm. It was a rather chilly March morning, after all. But the gun he had just pulled out of the waistband of his freshly-pressed trousers seemed to indicate otherwise. I really need to stop trusting people so much. It’s becoming a bit of an issue. Anyway, Mr. Robert G. Pierce was shouting some of your typical bank robbery phrases, telling customers to get down on the floor, the bank tellers to put their hands up and to back away from their respective stations to avoid any suspicious button pressing that might call whatever the English version of 911 is. I’m American, you see, so I’m writing a 99
bit out of my element at the moment. I even spelled the word “gray” the American way in the previous paragraph. I’m not even trying to sound English. No matter. The number in question was at that moment not called, and that is the important thing in this situation. Mr. Henry J. Morrissey, sitting just in the other room, seemed entirely unfazed, his eyes following unblinkingly the beautifully-crafted lines of his favorite columnist, Mr. Brian T. Brooks. Mr. Robert G. Pierce, spying Mr. Henry J. Morrissey’s rather impressive brass nameplate, judged him to be important and called out, “Morrissey! Get out here.” Mr. Henry J. Morrissey obliged, entering the main room, his newspaper tucked in the crux of his armpit. Mr. Robert G. Pierce asked him if he would kindly open the walk-in safe located behind the counter. Mr. Henry J. Morrissey once again obliged, meticulously entering in the password on the safe’s keyboard, typing out the words “God save the Queen.” Mr. Robert G. Pierce thanked Mr. Henry J. Morrissey before ducking into the safe. In the meantime many of the persons in the bank were scurrying out of the building, but Mr. Robert G. Pierce seemed wholly uninterested. After a short while Mr. Robert G. Pierce emerged from the safe carrying a duffle bag stuffed with whatever currency they are using in England these days. Looking around and seeing no one, Mr. Robert G. Pierce clapped Mr. Henry J. Morrissey on the shoulder and said, “We did it, old chap.” The pair exited the building, climbed into Mr. Henry J. Morrissey’s car, and began to drive away, with Mr. Henry J. Morrissey sitting in the passenger seat, his newspaper opened up to the business section. It was a remarkable day for Mr. Henry J. Morrissey.
Zachary Nagode Grade 9 101
Shannon McGurty Grade 9
Great Aspirations Gazing out at the city lights, Wondering what the future will bring – Dreams flourish and grow, Nothing stopping them. But, If you look too long, Reality seeps in. Stress and despair Contaminate a once pure dream. Just steal a glance at the sky above – The moon, The stars. As the planes soar by, Your mind is freed. Dreams can once again thrive, Knowing you’re part of something bigger, Better, of higher importance. Thoughts fill your mind. Maybe the world isn’t so bad.
Published on Jan 21, 2014