Page 1

YOUNG SOUTHERN STUDENT WRITERS 2017 MIDDLE & HIGH SCHOOL WINNERS


SPONSORED BY:


[ A Quick Word ] First, what a joy it's been to chair this year's YSSW contest—from interacting with our region's outstanding teachers and facilitating judging at UTC to assembling this collection of our winning submissions. All is done with an eye toward promoting the literary arts and the creative energy of young writers. Reading the submissions this year, in my own experience as a judge and in reports from other readers/judges, has been an exercise in both humility and hilarity. The submissions, especially the winning submissions that follow, demonstrate good writing as they likewise provide a glimpse into the wild imagination of young minds. So, I thank this year's young writers and their teachers! You've given me much to laugh about, much to enjoy, and much to appreciate. Many thanks, too, to the Board of Directors and staff of the Southern Lit Alliance, particularly Lynda LeVan (Executive Director) and Ann Johnson (Director of Operations). This group and these individuals deserve our thanks for their generosity and for their support of this area's outstanding young writers. Their leadership at the Southern Lit Alliance and the partnership with UTC's Department of English combine to lift up and celebrate the literary arts in our region. I am grateful for the Southern Lit Alliance as a partner in this contest. I also thank this region's dedicated teachers, K-12, who work tirelessly to instill in young minds and hearts the value of literature and creative writing. I am grateful for their efforts as they teach young authors to enjoy the craft of writing. Without our elementary, middle grades, and high school English/Language Arts teachers, along with parents and guardians, we would not have such fine work from these young people. I am also grateful to this year's readers and contest judges. It is true that every submission is read by a faculty member in UTC's Department of English. Our faculty serve in this capacity with pleasure. In fact, it's not uncommon to hear our teachers sharing with one another submissions that are especially funny, creative, or inspiring. It's another way in which we contribute to this wonderful city and this region. I appreciate the time and care with which my colleagues read every submission. It is worth noting that more than 4,000 students from schools in the Chattanooga area and beyond submitted entries this year, so it's no easy task to manage, but our judges did so this year once again with grace and enthusiasm. Finally, I thank Kimberly Guo and Colin Rochelle, two undergraduate students in UTC’s English program. Kimberly and Colin worked tirelessly to facilitate judging and to create this year’s winners booklets. They have spent countless hours managing the contest and collecting the winning entries for this publication. I’m grateful for their outstanding work and their attention to detail. Now, read and enjoy! Joe Wilferth, UTC English Professor and YSSW Contest Chair

1


[Table of Contents] Grade 6 Poetry

…………………………………………………………………… 3

Grade 6 Prose

…………………………………………………………………… 35

Grade 7 Poetry

…………………………………………………………………… 58

Grade 7 Prose

…………………………………………………………………… 67

Grade 8 Poetry

…………………………………………………………………… 110

Grade 8 Prose

…………………………………………………………………… 126

Grade 9 Poetry

…………………………………………………………………… 159

Grade 9 Prose

…………………………………………………………………… 164

Grade 10 Poetry …………………………………………………………………… 175 Grade 10 Prose

…………………………………………………………………… 179

Grade 11 Poetry …………………………………………………………………… 183 Grade 11 Prose

…………………………………………………………………… 189

Grade 12 Poetry …………………………………………………………………… 195 Grade 12 Prose

…………………………………………………………………… 200

Verbie & Hugh Prevost Award for Outstanding Poetry ……………. 203 Verbie & Hugh Prevost Award for Outstanding Prose ……………… 205

Winning submissions are arranged in what follows by grade, category, and alphabetically according to the authors' last names. Use the search feature at the bottom of this website to find individual authors.

2


[ 6th Grade Poetry ]

3


Why Is Nature Mostly Green Why is nature mostly green? I mean trees are green and grass is green, But why is mostly everything green? Why did mother nature make nature green? I mean it could have been blue, red, yellow, or even black. I think nature should be yellow as the sun, Green for a nature color is as dumb as a cat trying on a hat Or a dog trying to talk, So why does nature have to be green? Ethan Armstrong, Grade 6 Hixson Middle School, Mrs. Channa Leighton

4


Hands My hands are the oldest things I possess They have cradled a baby And smacked the concrete When I lost control On that mountain of a hill They are crunched with anger And clapped with joy They have grappled my opponent In wrestling And clung to the football As I blitzed down the field They have held a baseball bat As I hit a home run And held my sticks as I banged the drums They have held my dog Annie as She smothers me with kisses They have hugged my parents When they go off into the day They have pulled the trigger on my AR-15 As a deer gave its life to me Not only have my hands done tough stuff Like crash on my bike They have also done things that soothe my soul Like receiving The holy body and blood of Jesus Christ And have carried flowers at a wedding My hands are what keep me alive As they hold my fork and knife at dinner And cling to the cup that I drink from My hands are the oldest thing I possess I’m very blessed to have them. Brock Barasha, Grade 6 Saint Jude School, Mrs. Smith

5


My Mom My mom is in jail Now I fail My heart is crushed Hers is squashed By the drugs she took Which made me look At the dent in my life I thought all she cared about was her drug life But now she’s locked up, now I know Just how much she cared, oh so Alexis Bell, Grade 6 Hixson Middle School, Mrs. Channa Leighton

6


Fires Trees stick together Burning Smoke everywhere Red, orange, blue Spreading One tree down Sparks Five trees down Moving faster Smokey haze Growing Smell of ash Lingers Crack Ten trees down Flames coming Run Flames closer Faster Closer Don't stop Crackle Trees die together Callie Czarnecki, Grade 6 Baylor School, Ward Fleissner

7


Far Below The slow whirring sound of the breeze blocks out the noise of the world far below. Cities look like nails on a wooden board. Valleys look like bowls of cereal. Clouds are like cars on the street. I reach out to touch one cloud floating close. I run my hand through the center. It feels so wet and misty almost as if it’s not there. Not even an eagle is close enough to touch. The peaceful quiet up here is so soothing. If only the world far below was this peaceful. Zachary DeFilippis, Grade 6 Signal Mountain Middle High School, Christie McLain

8


Rain drops fall, drip drop, drip drop Landing on the ground, they go ker plop Big and small Wide and tall The smooth cold rain Going down the long dark lane Helping to make the flowers grow The wind moving them with a soft gentle blow The rivers and streams gliding away Water gliding in this month of May People taking shelter and staying dry Rain drops headed where thirsty plants lie It is a sweet soft sound Droplets land on the ground As they fall from the big blue sky Making it hard for one bird to fly Rain drops fall, drip drop, drip drop Landing on the ground, hey go ker plop Dougless Derrick, Grade 6 Normal Park Museum Magnet, Grant Knowles

9


My Dream I dream of a sea Made of mint tea I sing to the birds I hear their words I dance with the stars I play with Mars I collect pretty shells And wish in wishing wells I see a unicorn show Its hair of rainbow I wear a dress colored milk It is made of fine silk And now a large bee It starts to sting me But, it doesn’t hurt at all The ground breaks and I fall Suddenly I feel fine Mom calls, “Clementine!” I wake up when I hear my name Now everything is the same That is all I have to say Good bye and good day Talia Eenigenburg, Grade 6 Rhea Middle School, Mrs. Jenkins

10


The Cowboy Listen closely my son, I saw him standing on the hill. He will continue to ride. His hat so tan and grand. His horse so lean and mean takes him everywhere he goes. His enemies stand no chance. At first glance they run in fear. So, I tell you my son, that was the man I saw on the hill that day. Bing Hammel, Grade 6 Silverdale Baptist Academy, Diana Couch

11


Death It comes and goes. It’s like rain. The pain always shows It owns the darkness of rain. Everyone is dropped off at some point, Who knows when or where. It always changes our viewpoint. I could sit here and you sit there: Same age; same place And yet I end at the same destination. Yet this train I keep chasing, It doesn’t have a station. All I want are answers. So many things that don't fit in right. I’m not an advancer. I haven’t reached that fullest height. The pain does not refine; It just makes us have a due time. CJ Hatfield, Grade 6 Creative Center for Arts, Jeanie McKenna

12


Friendship Friends come and friends go, And some can leave you feeling really low. Our friendship has gone on for many years, through many smiles and many tears. I hope our friendship will last, as time goes oh so fast.

Kylie Hickman, Grade 6 Rhea Middle School, Mrs. Jenkins

13


Night-Time Night-time is so quiet, it's so fragile, it's so still, try not to break the silence, everything's just so chill. Squirrels rustle leaves, and the wind shakes the trees as the crickets chirp and bounce. Raccoons search for trash, as the foxes try to pounce. The morning sun is yet to come, but while we wait we have the moon. The night will go and day will come soon. In the middle of the night when you're out like a light, the moon is alight and the stars are a sight. It slowly turns day, and at the end of that say, it just keeps repeating. Mary Jenkins Holliday, Grade 6 Baylor School, Ward Fleissner

14


The Mean Groan Tornados go around and around Powerful and scary As they touch the ground Dark skies In the afternoon Make me just want to go hide in my room Covers cover over my head I weep and dread It won't be long till I will soon Be gone What's this Could I be wrong I start to notice the fading groan It speared my life The tornado Is long gone Cayman Hughey, Grade 6 Baylor School, Mr. Ward Fleissner

15


The One and Only Ivan Ivan estaba en la selva y el asia todo bien pero una bes el escucho Un sonido i el se espanto pero después se escuchó que venía a él y el Tenia que correr porque que tal si era una cosa mala i Ba a saltar pero despues salio un bebe Hefante i después de todos esos dias el lo iva n el elefante era chiquito pero iván es un gorila y ellos fueron amigos para siempre i despues ellos se alludaban a lo que nesetitaban los dos. Jaime Ibarra, Grade6 Hixson middle school, John DeVore

16


A Blank Slate Across the paper the pencil glides My imagination continues to expand Worlds that otherwise could not have come to be All in the palm of my hand Monsters, humans, and myths alike All sketched with delicate lines and shapes I erase my mistakes to create new ones Stories told by the look in their eyes Their scars, their attire all let us know Where they’ve been, what they hate and love or if they’re worthy of care Frustration, cheer, and sorrow seep through the lines As they reflect themselves one last time Michaela Maroon, Grade 6 Hixson Middle School, John DeVore

17


What Is Art? Art is in a bottle, only a few dollars. Art is like a person waiting for a cause. Art isn’t perfection. Art is scribbles without complications. Art has no erasures, only growth. Art is time, not a race. Art is emotion, express yourself. Show your art. NaKeeha McCroskey, Grade 6 Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy, Katie Warwick and Chelcee Beard

18


The Vulture The Vulture stood there and feasted On the remains of a wolf's last meal, His crossed eyes scanned deeply Through the old dead field. Soon he disappeared into a black mist. Chris McRoy, Grade 6 Hixson Middle School, John DeVore

19


Anomaly My friends, Lucy, Kevin and I Were on a trip; up in the sky It needed repairs, or else we’d all die In this Station up in the sky I was enjoying some orbital bread When Kevin came up to me and said: “I think the reactor’s filling with lead!” I replied, “If so, we’d all be dead.” Later that evening, I was on EVA I was fixing some truss that got broken today My set started beeping, I didn’t know what to say To Mission Control, on the ninety-fifth day I retreated to the airlock with ease And raced to the anomaly as I please The SRN systems were melted like cheese I had to fix it or else – we’ll freeze. My wiring skills here came to the test I gave a sigh of relief at the thought of rest The red wire to positive, that would do best Black wire to negative, then I can rest Connor Medlin, Grade 6 Hixson Middle School, Mrs. Channa Leighton

20


The Fire Has Started The battle has started Smoke is coming Tennessee is at war Sirens start Fire swallows the mountain Trees turned to ash Houses turned to ash The mountain turned to ash They say it's supposed to rain It's too late Fire has spread like the plague Motors start People homeless People dead Planes flying overhead Water has started to come from trucks Some Firefighters sleep on sidewalks Some fight the blaze They switch from shift to shift The truck is their protection heat is overwhelming smoke is overbearing Grace Millholland, Grade 6 Baylor School, Mr. Fleissner

21


Sonnet #1 In a True Garden Trees wear a gown of bright emerald green Parents shield fledglings so they can’t be seen Daffodils dance in the warm zephyr breeze Yellow pollen doesn't make the bees sneeze! They will pollinate blooms for many hours Young lambs gamboling around in the field Birds fly high in the sky of azure blue I love the spring season where nature yield Spring brings rejuvenation to our land The vibrant countryside looks very grand Dew that reflects sunlight shimmering light, light that wakes up into a morning bright my portion of the universe, for Night, like butter on my morning toast, her light. Aris Morales, Grade 6 Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy, Katie Warwick

22


Harambe Roses are red, I am blue, because there’s one less animal in the Cincinnati Zoo. Harambe wanted peace to keep the world in one piece. Harambe was on my team, now I only remember him in my dreams. Harambe wasn’t just a gorilla, he was our friend, we will remember him all the days we live. When we get old we will always remember when we were told the story of Harambe. Grayson Officer, Grade 6 Silverdale Baptist Academy, Dina Couch

23


Apocalypse Switch off the TV The news is nothing. Please don’t worry. You’ll be safe from the end when it comes. The sun is fine There’s nothing to fear It’s just coming closer. That’s all, my dear. You know what When you were born I just wished- This worry could be merely worn. The end is coming So hold me tight Don’t worry about the shatters Don’t worry about the screams. Just hug me closer. And I swear We’ll be alright Ria Pagar, Grade 6 Hixson Middle School, Mrs. Channa Leighton

24


I Once Saw a Man I once saw a man man as tall as tall. his clothes were shadows he whispered in the wind. As soon as I saw him he disappeared hidden in the shadows where he belongs. Chase Reese, Grade 6 Hixson middle school, John DeVore

25


Help Me Oh, Lord help me, I will try to run, but won't be able. If I run he will get me, I had as well be killed running Or die standing. Living around disease, Clothed in nothing as being Attacked by my owner, Surrounded by those who dislike me, All with white faces. I have only served my time, Held by chains for no reason, Of my owners. The crack of the whip, Against my bones and skin, Oh, Lord help me. J’Yniah Reviere, Grade 6 Normal Park Museum Magnet, Grant Knowles

26


Sinking Kingdom

All are searching for safe haven Thick clumps of seaweed block the blazing sun I'm the king of this floating rainforest A habitat destroyed by human hands Although the high seas are no man's land Heavy nets scrape the ocean floor Making my population lower and lower My home a great power source Tidal, wind and wave energy all from my home Reefs of coral and ranges of mountain Lay scattered across the ocean floor Never to be found Who will disinter the ancient underwater treasures If a country above me plucks my food to cure a medical mystery, will they share their discovery Or will the finder keep it The longer the humans dispute more and more sea turtles get their heads captured by plastic trash More and more my problems get deeper More and more my kingdom starts to sink Sydney Shaw, Grade 6 Baylor School, Ward Fleissner

27


My World All of a sudden the world has color The grass is verdant green, the tomatoes in the garden are scarlet red, and the flowers have an assortment of colors. I feel the vivid sun on my shoulders. The bunnies and squirrels have come out from hibernation. I hear the bikes on the gravel path next to my house. Each day and every week the sun gets even hotter. Now the grass is very green in some places and burnt in others The vegetables are pretty much neon in the garden. The mosquitoes have come out to have a glass of blood. I run around and scream because the bees are chasing me. I end up sitting on my swing but once my skin touches it I jump. It's scorching hot! Silently, the leaves fall They're crumbling under my dog's feet while he's sprinting up and down the tree line in a pell-mell way. Gently, the wind nudges my swing. The verdant grass is disappearing and turning into yellow Bark is falling from the tall tree while a squirrel climbs. A warm wind hits my skin, I think, "Why, why can't the cool of fall be here." the screen door hits the metal rail, "Dinner." Quietly, the snow falls and dissolves once it hits the sidewalk.

28


I stick out my tongue to get a taste of winter; a cool wet snowflake lands on my warm tongue. I can tell the towering- trees feel naked with no leaves. The cold wind ruffles my hair and makes my cheeks go numb and pink. I can imagine my former dog Bach, not a lot of fur and sweat, treading through the snow with his winter coat. I finally get cold and go inside. What would my friends from Iowa think? I get warm apple cider and plop down on my couch. Alia Sherrow, Grade 6 Baylor School, Amy Cohen

29


Giants Soaring over the earth Around and around I go Time stops then it goes This time in slow-mo The earth no longer existing Only the uneven bars and I Feeling like a gift to the earth Feeling like a giant Giant above the high bar Giant below the low bar When my giant is done I fly away Like an eagle soaring over the land When I land I feel like something Bigger than I really am Morgan Swaby, Grade 6 Hixson Middle School, John DeVore

30


The Substitute Paper planes everywhere The smell of farts in the air Cracker crumbs on the ground And bags of candies that weigh 500 pounds People doing backflips going berserk And some people finishing today’s due homework People outside playing basketball Thinking they’re 6ft tall And the sub is at her desk sleeping And people doing a test are cheating This is the best day ever Because I put sleeping pills in her coffee (very clever!) All kids love me plus I’m doing this again Ow! Someone just stabbed with a pen Jabin Walker, Grade 6 Hixson Middle School, Mrs. Channa Leighton

31


The Game It’s me in the dugout can’t you hear me shout. Now it’s time to bat and that’s that. I swing and fly like I have a wing to 1st base. The crowd is loud as the ball is called a foul. Strike 1 strike 2 the sweat runs down my face as I say I need to get to that base. The bat hits the ball and I say this is the best fall ball. The coach says that was a ball and what a great call from the umpire. Ehren Wargo, Grade 6 Hixson Middle School, Mrs. Channa Leighton

32


Yeti and Spaghetti Pass me that sauce, because I play lacrosse Then pass the spaghetti taste like confetti I’m up in the ice age with a Yeti He's light'n up sage because he’s a mage And his name is Teddy He has a couple minions, So many opinions Pass me the spaghetti I’m just kidding it’s confetti And there was a fight last night Over the Yeti and spaghetti Cause he doesn't like spaghetti!!!!!!!!!!! Nathaniel Waters, Grade 6 Normal Park Museum Magnet, Grant Knowles

33


The Deer Here I stand holding that key about to walk in, to let them know what happened to me I saw a deer while going to SEARS I was going 30 while watching my rear, about that time I heard a sound looked at my floorboard and that was it I spun out of control and my rear, it hit that deer I got out of my truck and it was stuck in a rut I ran over to the deer thought he was dead but I was not for sure so I dropped down to check for a breath I got one about that time he kicked me the neck reflexes I guess, he jumped up really fast and ran off “be free” I yelled “be free” I guess drinking while driving is not a good idea. Logan White, Grade 6 Hixson Middle School, Mrs. Channa Leighton

34


Biscuits and Gravy Gravy Good morning Did you sleep well I'm hot I'm in the saucepan Whoa we are moving Onto a plate I can't Me too Oh no My head I don't know It's dark in here here We have been eaten Noooooo It's really watery in this bowl Addison Yelton, Grade 6 Baylor School, Ward Fleissner

Biscuit

Good morning

I'm in the oven

Whoa we are moving

Why am I being stabbed

Oh no My leg

Where are you

It's dark in

We are being mushed

It's really watery in this bowl

Yes

Get off me

A slide yeah

35


[ 6th Grade Prose ]

36


Uninvited Guests My family and I had a pull to do things nobody else wanted to do. So when we heard about that house just the next town over, where nobody stayed for more than a month, we just had to buy it. Everyone who moved into that house would say strange things would occur in there, things they couldn’t explain. They said things would move around, things would slam shut and they would hear voices saying things they couldn’t decipher. So of course my mom said “Everyone pack your bags we’re moving to a house nobody wants to live in.” And, believe it or not, we all cheered. It was our first night in our new house and I knew that something was wrong. However, I couldn’t figure out what it was. It had been about an hour since I had first stepped into this house and I couldn’t shake the uneasy feeling that had crept over me. After some time, I walked through the door to my bedroom and it felt like it had dropped ten degrees. It wasn’t the cold that bothered me, it was the feeling of being watched. I slowly turned, terrified of what I might see and what I saw made my heart skip a beat. I stood, frozen in place, hoping what I saw was my imagination, and when I finally got my sense of reality back, I started contemplating what just happened. My heart was pounding. I swore I’d seen the door knob turn. Later that day I started thinking that just maybe it was my imagination, and it made me feel a little better though deep down I knew I was lying to myself. Anyway, I didn’t care. I’m stubborn...always have been -- always will be. When I went to bed that night, I felt like someone was watching me again. I'll admit that I was tempted to run downstairs and curl up with my parents in their bed, but I wasn't going to give in to whoever was in my new room. I was going to get rid of them. After all, they were uninvited. Now I didn't know what to do about what was going on in my room. I just wanted to get whatever it was out so I could sleep at night and not wake up to the sound of random things moving around my room. I haven't heard or seen anything for a few days but I know they're there. It's like I can sense them, and they're just waiting for the right moment to strike. I know paranoid right, but hey can you blame me? I mean something is haunting my room I have a right to be scared for my safety. After about five days the nightly occurrences resumed and I knew whatever was here had to go; and if not willingly, I would make it. I read in a book that salt and iron will stop a ghost, but first you have to find what's keeping it in our world. So I decided to start searching my room for anything that might have kept that thing here. I found a silver locket with the initials E.C.S engraved there and the date Oct.28, 1856. I went to the library and found that some famous person name long forgotten had a child, named Elizabeth Christine Smith and that they used to live in my house, but it's said that one day the parents left her home alone for a few hours and when they got back they found her lying on her floor strangled to death. I had a feeling that I could get rid of her by bringing her necklace to her grave. So the next day I went to the cemetery and found where she was buried and dug a little hole by the gravestone and put the locket inside and covered it back up. And sure enough I never experienced another nightly occurrence with Miss Elizabeth while living in that house. Liberty Barnum, Grade 6 Hixson Middle School, John DeVore

37


Kelly's Snowman It was a cold and snowy day. Kelly was excited because today she was going to build snowman! She put on her new purple coat and pink mittens and headed outside. B-r-r-r! It was cold outside! Well, it was time to get started! First, Kelly picked up some mushy white snow and made a little snowball. She picked up a bit more snow and packed it onto her snowball so it would be a bigger. "How am I going to get my snowball big enough for a snowman?� She wondered. Kelly sat down in the cold, wet snow while she thought about it. She put her snowball down beside her. Just then, Kelly's snowball started rolling down her front yard, since she lived on a hill. It was going very fast! She tried to chase after it, but it was going too fast! The snowball stopped just before it was about to roll onto the road. Kelly ran down the hill to it to see what had happened to her snowball. She couldn't believe what she saw! Her snowball was huge! "I figured out how to make my snowman!" she said. She knew now that when a snowball rolls, it picks up more snow. Kelly decided to build her snowman at the bottom of the hill, since her first snowball was already down there. She started on her second snowball. Kelly rolled it all the way down the hill, but her big brother had to help her lift it onto the other snowball. Kelly started on the last snowball, which would be the head of the snowman. She rolled it about halfway down the hill when she realized if she rolled the snowball all the way down the hill, it would be too big for a head. She had an idea. She ran up the hill to see her garage. She pulled out a red wooden sled, and pulled it back to where her snowball was in the middle of the hill. Kelly called to her big brother so he could lift the snowball onto the sled. Her brother wanted to help her with the rest of the snowman, so they did the rest together. Kelly and her brother pulled the sled to the bottom of the hill. Her brother lifted the last snowball into place. Then he went to go find some sticks for the snowman's hands. Kelly went inside to find some things for the snowman, too. She got a fuzzy brown hat and some old black gloves. She also picked out a bright orange carrot from the refrigerator and went back outside. Kelly ran down the hill. Her brother had already stuck a couple of sticks in the snowman for arms. She put the gloves on the snowman and her brother put the hat on it. She stood on her tiptoes and carefully put in the carrot nose. Her brother had found two small rocks to use for the eyes. "Something is missing," Kelly said. "It still needs a mouth," replied her brother. He picked up a twig from the ground. "This should work!" he said, and pushed the twig into the snowman's head, curving it upward so it looked like a smile on the snowman. "Ta-da!" exclaimed Kelly. "It's finished!" Kelly and her brother took many pictures of their happy snowman. It was something they would remember for the rest of their lives. Natalie Burroughs, Grade 6 Hilger Higher Learning, Shelley George

38


How the Rainbow Trout Got Its Rainbow

In the beginning when mankind had just been created, in the farthest far, in the Great Smoky Mountains, in the river of Tennessee, there had once lived a moaning, mucky, mucous trout named Regenboog. Regenboog was a sad little fish with a size of medium-ish and a weight of light-ish. He was very depressed. All his dashing, charming, radiant friends had found their magnificent mate. And the moaning, mucky, mucous trout named Regenboog felt lonely. He wished he was like his dashing, charming, radiant friend. He decided to see someone, not just anyone, the changing-morphing fish. The changing-morphing fish could make anything look like anything. He could make anything look like anything from a slob of mud, to a glimmer-shimmer diamond. And the moaning, mucky, mucous trout named Regenboog was going to see the changing-morphing fish. His new his journey would take days, weeks, even months to get to the changing-morphing fish, but he knew he if he had to look like his dashing, charming, radiant friends. As he started his journey he came across a crawfish. “Crawfish, can you point me to the changing-morphing fish please?” said the moaning, mucky, mucous trout named Regenboog. “Sure, but let me warn you there are prices you must pay,” said the crawfish as he pointed toward the direction of the changing-morphing fish. As he journeyed on, he was thinking about what crawfish had said. “There are prices you must pay, there are prices you must pay,” The moaning, morphing, mucous fish started to get worried. As he kept thinking of what the prices he must pay for the changing-morphing fish he came across a happy-looking Bass. “Bass, can you direct me to the changing-morphing fishes house?” asked the moaning, mucky, mucous trout named Regenboog. “Yes, but there are prices you must pay,” said Bass. And the moaning, mucky, mucous fish named Regenboog was off. As he traveled for treacherous weeks he continued to think about what Crawfish and Bass said. “There are prices you must pay.” Those words echoed in his head, but before they could echo in his head any more, he found the changing-morphing fish’s house. As the moaning, mucky, mucous trout named Regenboog was walking up to the changing-morphing fish’s house, he noticed that the changing-morphing fisher's house was changing and morphing. It was changing from scrumptious dilly-dips, to cozy comfortable blankets. He cautiously walked up to the changingmorphing fish’s doorbell and cautiously rang it. And if all the sounds of the world fit into the tiny house, a deafening roar rang out of the house. “Who dare enter the lair of the changingmorphing fish?” said the voice. “Umm Uhhhhhh I Aaaaaaaa Waaa uh,” murmured the moaning, mucky, mucous trout named Regenboog. As soon as he lost his words he had found them and he cried out, “I want to look like my dashing, charming, radiant, friends and find a magnificent mate like them.” “But shouldn’t you find magnificent mate by being yourself?” said the changingmorphing fish. “Noooooo,” said Regenboog as he was choking between sobs.

39


“Then I will give you the colors of the rainbow from my Collection of Colors,” said the changing-morphing fish. “Will this hurt?” asked Regenboog “Yes, but you do want to look like you're dashing, charming, radiant, friends?” “Yes,” said the moaning, morphing, mucous trout named Regenboog. Regenboog felt nervous but also excited. He knew that he would soon have a magnificent mate. “Alrighty then, stand on that smooth diamond shaped table,” said the changingmorphing fish. Regenboog’s heart started beating so loud he had to cover it up so the world could not hear it beating. He sat on the smooth diamond shaped table and waited for him to start the process. “I will give you the rainbow colors; red, the color of bravery, orange, the color of laughter, yellow, the color of sun, green, the color of happiness, blue, the color of the sea, and finally purple, the color of honesty,” chanted the changing-morphing fish. The changing-morphing fish turned to the terrifying looking switch and, with a little bit of elbow grease, the changing-morphing fish turned the terrifying looking switch on. All of a sudden Regenboog felt pain. He felt like he was on fire. He felt so bad he couldn’t even think. And just as the pain had started… it disappeared. He hopped off the shiny diamond shaped table and looked in the mirror. He was dashing, charming, and even maybe more than radiant. “Thank you, changing-morphing fish, thank you,” said Regenboog. “My pleasure. Now go off and find a magnificent mate,” said the changing-morphing fish. When he came back to his home all his dashing, charming, radiant friends did not even recognize him. “Who are you?” they all asked. “I am Rainbow Trout,” said the new Regenboog. And that my friend is how the Rainbow Trout got its rainbow. Campbell Cockerham, Grade 6 Normal Park Museum Magnet, Grant Knowles

40


The Owl

A little girl by the name of Mary was playing outside when her mother called her in for dinner. Mary walked to her driveway and heard a noise she had never heard before. Mary was curious at what the sound could be. She peered into a bush because Mary thought the sound was coming from the bush. Just as Mary was about to find out what the sound was, her mother called her in for dinner. The next morning as Mary awoke her mother called her to come downstairs to eat breakfast. Mary brushed her hair and her teeth and got dressed. She ate breakfast and ran outside to get on the school bus. She got to school and went to homeroom. The school day seemed to fly by. When Mary got home she had a snack and went outside to play. Soon it started to get dark. her mother called her in for dinner. Just as Mary got to her driveway she heard the same sound. She looked into the bush. Mary didn’t see anything. Mary’s eyes had to adjust to the bright blue glare. Mary then saw what the sound was coming from. the strange sound was coming from an owl. To Mary’s surprise the owl spoke to her Mary backed away in fear. ‘’ Mary don’t be afraid I’m here to be your friend ‘’ The next morning Mary went out early to see the owl but he wasn’t there. Mary went inside and got ready school. she went home and it was already dark. She ate dinner and went outside to see the owl. This time he was there Mary asked him why he wasn’t there this morning when she came to see him. He replied remember Mary I am owl so I’m nocturnal. After that day, Mary came to see the owl every day. As she lost and gained new friends the owl was always there waiting for her. Peyton Curtin, Grade 6 Rhea Middle School, Mrs. Jenkins

41


One Sunny day there was an obese cat named Bentley. Bentley´s owners named was Jared. Jared worked all day as a Surgeon. Surgeons make a lot of money so he has a lot of toys. Because he is a surgeon he works all day every day. His Fuzzy fat cat Bentley can't go outside according to Jared. Bentley hates that because he can't hang with his fuzzy friends Carlos, Sydney and Porsha that are all sad strays. Sometimes when Jared's not at his home Bentley puts a soft blue squeaky mouse toy under the window so the next day or even night he can prop it open to escape. When you look out of the window you see a gutter with a mix of mud and cat fur from where his fur gets stuck in it. Bentley uses the gutter as a slide to get to his friends. His friends live under a wet red tarp that was propped up with a couple soggy sticks. One cloudy and muggy day everything fell apart. Bentley normally shimmies up the gutter to get back up. Bentley had gone out like normal but this time when he came back the soft blue squeaky toy was gone. He went back down and consulted with his friends. Bentley needed a plan, the best plan of all time. He needed a plan to get back in the house as well as get revenge on Jared. All four fuzzy creatures huddled over at a table that was under the red tarp and that was built with an old cardboard box that got left in a dump nearby. They figured it out, they would make a team of cats. They best team of cats that anyone has ever seen. Their exact plan was to wait until Jared opened the door to come in and go directly behind him then hide. Once he leaves they will come out of hiding and destroy the place. The cats though that if Jared really loves Bentley then he would go look for him sooner or later. Two days later it was time to make their move. First Jared walked in then Porsha then Carlos then Sydney last but not least Bentley. Sydney hid in a red and shiny kitchen cabinet. Carlos hid under the blue jean colored couch with Bentley and Porsha. The coast was all clear and everyone came out then the door started creeping open. Apparently, Jared forgot his keys and came back with a mysterious face. They assumed that he did not know why four cats were in is house. After he realized what happened he cautiously decided to keep all fuzzy creatures. They all lived happily together even though they could not go outside. Catelyn Gifford, Grade 6 Normal Park Museum Magnet, Grant Knowles

42


The Big Hunt My hooves were scraping the ground and someone was right behind me. I looked behind me and there it was. The terror of the forest... My hunting skills were considered a gift from the gods. They call me, Uros Heanter, which means great hunter. I am the chief of the hunters in our tribe. My father is the protector, the one who is in charge of my home. One night, my father called to all of the tribe members and had a discussion. He said, “We have lost another family. The Terror has invaded our perimeters and has taken some of our tribe members. We need to take action, now!” After the meeting, I volunteered to hunt down the Terror and bring peace to the Yggandrail forest. I said my good-byes the next morning and headed off to find the beast. It took a day to find a good place to camp and I decided to look for food. I was hunting when I saw a huge monster. It had elephant ears covered in fur, huge eyes that were as green as grass, tiny horns on the top of its head, black and grey fur, bird talons and feet, and a beak as a mouth. It looked at me, and that is where we had a connection. We stayed the night at my campsite and I had managed to find food, which was a rabbit with antlers. We had picked up our things and we traveled for ten hours when we found the Terror’s cave and we hid behind a rock near it. The creature was coming out of his cave when my monster friend, which I called Tramble, charged at the Terror. The monster acted quickly and slashed at Tramble at the most fatal spot ever, the heart. Tramble fell to the forest floor, whimpering. I screamed at the top of my lungs without thinking and the monster came running after me. I ran for what seemed forever before the Terror stopped to rest. I quickly took the chance to hide in the nearest bush and waited for a while. The monster came to the bush I was hiding in and studied it. My heart stopped and I thought it was the end, but when the Terror sat down and began to fall asleep next to a tree across from me, I took the chance. I snuck over to another bush and took out my bow. I had a few lead tipped arrows, but I also had a jar full of a decaying potion. I dipped the tip of the arrows into the potion and I loaded by bow and I took a deep breath. I told myself, “Shoot for the softest part, the heart, if you want to kill this evil creature.” So I pulled back the string and shot the arrow. I saw the arrow pierced the flesh of the Terror where I wanted it to go. The monster opened his eyes for a split second and fell to the ground. After I made sure he was dead, I chopped his head and put it in my bag. I ran to the cave and there he was. Tramble. He was lying on the ground, not moving. I walked over to him and I placed my hand on his beak. I knew he wasn’t coming back so I said to myself, “You died in a great way. I will never forget you, Tramble.” I left the cave and headed home. When I got back to the tribe center, I took out the head of the Terror and placed it by the huge statue of one of the gods that we worshiped and I placed a note for my Father saying, “I killed the Terror. I have experienced many horrible things and so I want to live on my own to get used to them. I know this sounds crazy, but I am going back to the Terror’s cave. I want to live there with me knowing that I have saved the forest. I have to go, but I will miss you. Love, Your Son.” I took a deep breath and I left my home. I hoped I would have more challenging and great adventures. Olivia Greaser, Grade 6 Normal Park Museum Magnet, Grant Knowles

43


Invasion

As the people of Rhea County watched as the ships fall they knew the extra-terrestrial threat was gone. The invasion started 5 years ago, and the heroes ended the war 4 middle school students got powers at Watts Bar Nuclear plant and became heroes. Jaden Lajas’ and his friends protected people until the aliens arrived. The war was harsh casualties every day but the four heroes Aftershock, Blazer, Titanium, and Speed had a plan take out the mother ship and win the war. They prepped for battle when they were in the drop zone the plane was hit they jumped. when they woke up in the alien prison they could not use their powers to brake free. They stayed for what felt like days wondering if they would ever leave. they felt they had failed. But Blazer realized god gave them these powers for a reason blazer was nova burning the chains off everyone. He said it was time for the final showdown they went for the reactor core battling for the sake of the earth as they made it to the reactor core they said their good byes to each other using all the nuclear energy in them they blew up the reactor saving the planet they sacrificed them self for the greater good they knew their death would not be in vein but for a good cause they became legends. Jaden Lajas, Grade 6 Rhea Middle School, Mrs. Jenkins

44


The Ruff Year Christmas was here. Normally, I would just be like other kids, waking up so early and screaming about my presents. However, this Christmas was a gloomy one. The weather outside even agreed with me. It was dark and was pouring rain. I started to open my biggest present. My parents were looking at me opening my gift. They were so excited that they looked like they just won the lottery, but a puppy jumped out of the box into my face. At first, I felt bitter and wanted to just get rid of the puppy, but I also felt happy for another dog. Would this one break my heart, too? I remembered last time…. 2 months of the most fun a kid could have were about to begin. I was thinking about all I would do while the science teacher was talking about seasons. It wasn’t like anybody was listening. I don’t know why she bothered as most of the other teachers just gave us free time. I guess I wasn’t pretending to be intrigued in seasons well enough because she called me out. “Am I boring you, Sam?” said Mrs. Smith. “No, ma'am,” I said. I didn’t want to spend an hour in detention when summer started. “Good,” she said. Then, she went back to her boring lecture. Then, the bell started ringing. I finished packing my stuff and met my best friend, Max, in the hallway. I was content that summer had started. That was until I heard of a plan that could ruin my whole summer. When Max and I neared our neighborhood, he told me that he was going to camp. I felt bitter that my summer was ruined. I started running toward my house. He tried to stop me, but I kept going. Later that day, I looked at him getting in the car that would ruin my summer. When he was gone, I moped around the house. It wasn’t like I had anyone else to play with since I was an only child. Everyone was sympathetic and trying to help me through these unpleasant times. However, that didn’t help at all. Nothing they bought me made up for losing my friend. Later that week, I reluctantly went outside after my mom kept annoying me about it. I ran to the basketball court and halfheartedly started shooting some baskets. When I was walking back, I saw a shaggy dog limping across the sidewalk. It looked at me, and I felt a tug on my heart. I knew I had to do something, so I picked him up and brought him home. I asked my mom if I could keep him. I could tell that she wanted to say no, but she said that if I took care of him, I could keep him. I guess she felt sorry for me about Max going away for the whole summer, but I didn’t care what they reason was. I was thrilled to have a new best friend. We went to the vet afterwards. The vet gave the dog some shots and a bath. We found out that it was a boy beagle, and I named him Bailey. Every day, I played with him. I threw Frisbees, and he would always catch in midair. I ran with him every day. Now, I wasn’t moping around. Instead, I was playing with my new best friend. He acted tough, but deep down, he was a softie. He would cower under my bed at the slightest sound of thunder. This always amused me. He would protect me, too. One time, there was a poisonous snake that I didn’t see while running with him. Before I was harmed, Bailey killed the snake by tearing its head off. It started off as a normal day. What I didn’t know was that this day would be a catastrophe. I went outside with Bailey for our daily run. As we neared the end of our street, he ran across the road at a chipmunk, but a car zipped past me. He ran over Bailey leaving him in deep pain. I brought him to the vet, but it was no use. He died that day. I buried him in my backyard. I thought that Bailey was the dog to end all dogs. I knew he would be my dog in my mind forever. Jeffery Lin, Grade 6 Signal Mountain Middle High School, Christina McLain

45


Beach

Breezy cool air, waves crash on a beach chair. Sand castles pile up. Life guards watch and try to keep up. Bright sunny skies as parents struggle to supervise. Maddie Mahaney, Grade 6 Hilger Higher Learning, Shelley George

46


Vagabond

My unorthodox day started out with a gunshot, a paper lion, and an impeccably dressed egomaniac. I was enjoying the soothing kaleidoscopic spectrum of the autumn sunset. Rich orange mixed in a void of meshed velvet and stained purple. To me, the airport window was a gift itself. Surprisingly, my relaxation did not last any longer, for a heard a commotion. Other the past few weeks, my awareness of my surroundings has become stronger and sharper. I had just whirled around when I spotted a man in a three-piece suit and crisply knotted tie sauntering towards me. I scanned around for a friendly face, my beacon of hope quickly draining away. Before I could locate a face, the man reached me. "Hello" he said, acting a little too formal. "My name is Victor Spano. I work for the KGB. Our top brass has been informed of your situation. We have come to offer you an internship at the Russian Embassy. You have no other option." With that, he stopped and stared at me, as if waiting for me to say something. I noticed that as he was talking, he seemed nervous and jittery. Was he a paper lion? I couldn't afford to deal with another one. On the other hand, if he was to be believed, I didn't believe in recruitment by force. And with that, I ran. I hadn't reached the door when Victor Spano produced a pistol and charged after me. I headed towards security, knowing I could be protected there. As I ran, I thought about the tempting offer. Surely the KGB didn't just hire random rogues for internships. As these thoughts raced through my mind, I reached the relative safety of the security checkpoint. I stopped suddenly and looked at the array of flight monitors. I smiled and hurried through security. Riga National Airport in Latvia had a quiet hush to it. Unnerving to people like me, runners. Another anxiety producer was the fact that everyone was always smiling. Plastered on their faces and even on signs and billboards. I realized I couldn't stay much longer. I rented a car and proceeded to the nearest hotel where I checked in and grabbed a blueberry muffin. As I pulled out of the airport, I didn't notice the black SUV pulling into traffic behind me. The next day started out with a peculiar smell. I jerked up in bed and saw nothing but thick, muggy air. "Fire!" I yelped and rushed to grab my clothes. I pulled on my clothes and opened the window. My shirt snapped in the merciless wind. I climbed a short ladder and arrived on top of the hotel roof. Danger was unavoidable. The KGB had done it. I'd even wager Victor Spano had claimed the honors. The roof had two exits. One. I could rush back inside the hotel and take the many flights of stairs that separated me from the lobby. Or, I could recklessly jump across to the roof on my right. I chose the latter. Moreover, if I miscalculated, I would become ground into the hard, granite sidewalks on the Latvian streets. Before I had time to doubt myself, I receded backward, and took a giant leap of faith. I hit the stone roof of the unfinished building hard, rolling halfway across it until I abruptly sat up on my knees. I looked across the way. The hotel was ablaze, a searing inferno of wood and metal. I cursed the Russians under my breath.

47


That night, I couldn't sleep. I chose to take a twilight walk. I started down Svedskøn Circle. My thoughts wandered somewhere else. How could the KGB have followed me here? I had scrutinized the passengers and inspected the plane as best as I could. It was pointless though, because the KGB apparently had attached an abundance of listening devices and phone taps. As I neared the end of the street, I saw an airport. It looked to be closed for the night. I smiled, and turned that way. As it turns out, the airport was closed, but I was able to attach a mini-grenade to the automatic sliding doors to enter unauthorized. As I walked down the long desolate hallways, I saw a mesmerizing painting. The enchanting title was The Colors of a Runaway Life. Fitting for me, wouldn't you say? I sat down in a plush armchair and turned my attention to the TV. What I saw shocked me. "A man was spotted jumping off one building to another. This man has been reported to set fire to the Riga Hotel in downtown Riga. If you spot this man, please report his whereabouts to the police immediately," said the news reporter. I was shocked. First, the KGB set the hotel on fire. Then, they blame arson on me. Once the airport opened, I bought a plane ticket to Seattle. I had to conceal my face, for fear that somebody would recognize me. Before I could board the plane, Victor Spano appeared, followed by three other agents. "That was quite a stunt you pulled earlier" Victor said. "Kill him" he said nonchalantly. The men didn't even assume fighting positions. They simply just pulled out their guns and pointed them at me. Before they could shoot however, I leveled one with a round-kick and another with a chop to the Adam's apple. Then, I punched the remaining goon in the face and spun to face my nemesis, Victor Spano. I kicked the pistol out his hand and ran for my life. I continued to run towards my gate. The boarding tunnel was quickly pulling away. I took a giant leap–I had practice for it–and stuck the landing. I ran to the end of the tunnel, boarded the plane last-second, and headed down the aisle. I settled into the safety of my seat, the soothing voice of the co-pilot driving away my worries. I was free. Owen McDaniel, Grade 6 Baylor School, Olivia Foster

48


My Getaway in the Woods In the winter, I like to go out in the woods on the mountain. When I start to head out, I bring a knife, a hammock, a pot, and warm clothing. When I get to my favorite spot, I set up my area and build an igloo to stay warm. Then I go and play in the freshly fallen snow and see how many snowflakes I can catch in my mouth. After having some fun, I start to head back to my spot under the snow-covered trees. When I got back, I heard some snow fall from a tree, because of some frisky squirrels. After a few hours, it's starting to get dark. I pick up everything I brought with me and head home, smelling the weather getting colder. In the spring, I see green seas of grass and colorful flowers. On my way to my favorite spot, I pick some colorful flowers for my mom. When I got to my favorite spot, I picked some honeysuckles and drank its nectar. As I set up my spot, I can hear busy bees in the distance. I hear the beautiful songs of birds overhead. I laugh at the squirrels that make funny noises. I smell the flowers and their sweet nectar that I picked for my mom. In the summer, I see birds chasing away crows from my favorite spot. I see squirrels chasing each other. I see verdant trees and verdant fields of grass. I taste the wild editable berries. I hear birds singing and squirrels chirping. When I get to my spot, I start to taste humidity in the air. I look up and see rain clouds. I run home, hoping to not get wet. In the fall, I see leaves that have turned different colors, as I walk to my favorite spot. I grab and crumble as many leaves as possible and use them bedding. I devour all of the ripe wild strawberries that I blocked off from the wild life, but I only blocked off a tiny patch. I hear all of the squirrels frantically gathering nuts for the winter. I can smell the acorns and strawberries that are around my spot. I can smell the cold heading in for the night. I start to head home and gather some strawberries for my famous strawberries pie. What my spot in the woods mean to me. My spot is a place of peace and relaxation. My spot means the world to me. I go there to focus and work on things, like homework. I go there if I've had a bad day. I go there to think about things that I have done, good and bad. If I could go and live there, I wouldn't miss the chance for just about anything in the world. That one spot that has seen me just about every day of my life, that same spot that helped me to focus, the same place in the woods, is my sanctuary. Alexander Moyer, Grade 6 Baylor School, Amy Cohen

49


The Fearless Snowman

There once was a snowman that was fearless of heat. His name was Fluffy. Fluffy had a lot of friends Sugar, Bunny, and Elf. Bunny was the oldest oh the friends. Elf was the middle one so was Fluffy. Last, but not least was Sugar was the youngest. All but Fluffy was afraid of heat because they thought they would melt. Not Fluffy, he wasn’t worried he had a good life. They of course were all made of snow. They lived in a mysterious place called Sunny Side Garden. Every day the boys were worried they would melt because of the heat. Not Fluffy, remember he was fearless of the heat that’s why they lived there. They slept in a cave but it had a door, kitchen, living room, and everything in a house. It was very nice in the inside and it kept them cool. Sugar is the youngest and there were two things that she was afraid of which is the dark and heat. She hated the dark the most so she kept the night light on it ran out of batteries. There were no stores so once it went out it was out forever. She would cry and cry and cry herself to sleep every night. So, one night it was her birthday and they bought her the one thing she wanted. They bought her a lamp and a TV. It got sold to them. She was so happy and that was their life. Ebonie Pankey, Grade 6 Rhea Middle School, Mrs. Jenkins

50


The Ducks Migration Once their lived a duck named Steve he had to migrate to a hot climate because the place he was living on was getting colder and winter was coming. All the ducks have to migrate to a warm climate or a place that’s hot so they can find food so leave had find a place with the other ducks so they decided to stay. So, then Steve decide to go make his nest so he went to look for sticks to build his nest so after he finished building his house he decided to go and look for food for him to eat. So, he went fishing and he had meat a girl duck named Martha she was fishing but then all the ducks started to warn that people where coming to get ducks to eat them. Then Martha was still fishing under water she had her head under water so she didn’t notice that all the ducks where living and warning them. A human had caught Martha in a large net. Then, Steve and the other ducks were after humans and Martha escaped. So, Martha had thanked Steve for helping her. Martha had told him if she could stay at his house and he said yes. Steve kind of liked her. Then 5years later Steve had married Martha and they had baby ducks. After 5 years, they had to migrate, but this time it was different because when Steve and his family got to their destination it was different. Most of their land was filled with human houses and buildings and there wasn’t as much to eat as other places they had lived so they had to fly days, weeks, months until they found a warm place to stay with duck families. After years Steve and Martha’s children grew up and got married and Steve and Martha still lived together and kept migrating and living happily ever after. As ducks should migrate, humans should also migrate to find food and better homes. Tais Santiago, Grade 6 Rhea Middle School, Mrs. Jenkins

51


As Night Falls As night falls, my parents talk as they do the dishes- porcelain clinking together as the crickets serenade the backyard with their finest music. Sometimes I will crack the blinds to see the streetlights and the cars, turning around and going back again. I then grab my diary and start my latest entry, wincing as the digitized lock dings. I hope no one heard that. I feel safe in my cocoon of blankets, sheets, and covers, trying to think my own thoughts, and dream my own dreams. I find myself thinking about how I’m going to write down my newest idea and turn it into a book or story, though I hardly ever finish one. Sometimes, late at night, I just listen to the sound of my breathing, and watch the light glisten from under the doorway. I turn over, squinting to see my fish swimming around in circles. I know he is trying to fall asleep too. The clock on my bedside table reads 10:03. My mother’s picture gazes out at me, telling me it is time to sleep. The light from under the door goes out, my breathing slows, and I am gone to the ocean of sleep. Bree Schrodt, Grade 6 St. Jude School, Mrs. Smith

52


Gray Woods Even if it was the brightest day, the Gray Woods was always gray. One day long ago there were these two cousins, Dani and Chris. They were each about ten. And they thought they could survive one night in the woods. So, one day they braved up and went into the woods. Dani and Chris found a place to set up a camp. They gathered logs, and some sticks to make a teepee. After they finished they went out and adventured the woods. Hoping they wouldn’t get lost. After about three hours they were lost. They were scared but decide to try and find camp, but in was getting dark. And they Gray Woods were scary looking at night. They went about looking for their camp and suddenly they heard a noise reminding them of all the stories they heard about the Gray Woods. The boys were scared and started to run. They ran as fast as they could. But Chris fell and found their camp. Dani ran into their teepee and Chris followed. They heard they noise again and now it was closer. Also, it was pitch black outside. The noise was closer it sounded like it was right outside of the teepee. The boys were scared out of their minds now. Chris peeked his head out and saw someone standing there. The person reached out a hand to Chris and Chris grabbed his hand and vanished. Gracie Smith, Grade 6 Rhea Middle School, Mrs. Jenkins

53


Dyslexic

I am somewhat like the kids in my class. I'm their age, as smart, and enjoy playing with my friends. There are many ways I am not like them. I hit a growth spurt early, I have ear problems, and (my least favorite) dyslexia. It all started when I was in second grade at Battle Academy. It was a large brick building with an extremely pretty interior. My teacher didn't tell my parents that I had dyslexia, nor did she help me try to overcome it. Instead she just lowered me to a lowest spelling level initially, the Mocs. My teacher did the spelling groups by football teams it would go Mocs to Vols to Titans. My parents decide to move out to East Brainerd and I switched schools and Ms. Kelly whose daughter danced with my sister told my mom about Hickory Valley Christian School. I went to my assessment and when I went for reading with Ms. Scott, I couldn't read a page out of Heidi, the children's version. All I knew was that I didn't impress my teacher. Ms. Scott told my parents that I had dyslexia. When my parents told me this I was extremely frustrated with my old teacher. I enter the doors to Ms. Grimes room. She starts to explain how our mornings go. Then she tells and gives our schedule. We are heading to our first class and Ms. Grimes stops to tell me I had to go to second grade reading. I was told that I would have to go to second grade reading when I was in third grade for the ENTIRE YEAR! I felt like I was going to be the laughingstock of third grade. I also found out that my sister was that class!!! I spent a lot of time trying to improve my reading. At night, I remember being under my covers under my bed covers with a flash light reading my book. It started to get easier and easier. It took a while, but I started to move up to harder books and higher reading levels. I remember Ms. Scott made me read a certain series before I could read harder books. I remember the year after I got accepted to National Elementary Honor Society (NEHS). That day I hopped on to the stage signing my name in that old book with hundreds of names on it. I know it pays off to always work hard and I will get what I deserve. What I didn't know was that all it takes is the best teacher in the world to help me in life. I am now more confident in everything I do, from soccer to school to teammates to life. All thanks to Ms. Scott, the best teacher I will most definitely have. Porter Stinson, Grade 6 Baylor School, Amy Cohen

54


Shipwrecked

“This is quite the cruise ship�. I said as I left my room and headed for the closest pool; Yet at that moment a loud crunching noise filled the long corridor. The carpeted floor shook with a force that knocked me off my feet. Alarms were sounding and people began streaming out of their rooms. I could hear water rushing through hallways and rooms. I sprinted down the hallway to find my wife and children but they were nowhere in sight I looked into every room as I came to the last room I saw a stream of water rush down the long hallway. I had to give up my search and run. Thank the lord I made it out of that. I was now at the top of ship I saw people swarm to the lifeboats and as I looked for an empty vessel I spotted my wife Maria and my two children John, and Sam yet at that exact moment they were being winched into the water with thirty other people I never got a chance to say goodbye to the three people I loved the most. There were people running around handing life vests to anyone in sight. I snatched one and slipped it on. The ship was only about 40 feet from the water and at that moment I had decided to jump. Two days have past and I have a sinking feeling in my heart from missing my family I was able to spear a fish with a sheet of metal I had found floating near the wreck. Even though I have had food my lungs have gotten so dry I cannot speak. Finally after three days of bobbing in cold water praying that a shark does not attack me, I have found land!! I swam to the tropical Island My heart beating my stomach growling. As I drag myself onto the hot sandy beaches I look at my watch which I had found out was waterproof and realized I should find some wood to build a fire and as I was I had found a magnificent spot to build a shelter a tropical storm must have hit the tree with a force that knocked it down, and its roots had created a hole just large enough to fit a tall man like me I walked around the tree to find immense amounts of kindling. After that I found coconuts scattered near the tree and began beating them with a branch until they gave way and supplied me with silky coconut water that I drank happily I then went on a search for food and water. I had two of the split coconuts in hand as I walked to the shore to scoop up the water I left the bowls at the trees and then went on a search for food. I found a sharp rock near the shore and then I spotted a snake basking on a rock. By the look of it, it was a young python, enough food for the day. I was about 4 yards away from the snake, when I launched the rock at the snake hoping to kill it but I had failed. The snake had awoken, and it was only now that I realized this was not a young python. It had extended itself to its fullest height showing its 14foot-long glistening body. I was in much shock I nearly passed out, but I ran, ran as fast as my slowly thinning legs could carry me. The python was still trailing me as I sprinted through creeks and thickets and mounds of rock. After what felt like hours of running I had stopped to catch my breath. I was on a beach that was miles from my tree. I began to scan my surroundings and I saw a dark object near the water as I walked closer I saw it was an emergency kit. My heart nearly leapt out of my stomach. I opened it up to find everything I would need to survive on this island for months. The contents included: a hunting knife, a small rifle, ammo, a flare gun, dehydrated food and drinks, salt, sugar, matches, a portable water filter, a first aid kit, a radio transmitter, pots, pans, various canned items, a poncho, a sleeping bag resistant to

55


temperatures of below zero, a small saw, rope, and an inflatable raft, with a tackle box including, 200 feet of fishing line, bait and a fold-up 3 fishing rod. For the first time in weeks I looked at my watch and I had noticed I had survived on this island for a whole month. I took my gun out for the first time to find an animal to kill for dinner as a celebration of one month of survival as I was looking through a thicket I saw something that would make an amazing meal. A black bear marking a tree with its claws. I aim my wellington near the bear's head. The shot shook the trees, and sent birds flying out of their perch. Sadly, one shot on a full-grown bear does not kill it. The bear reared on me, a small wound near his chest (apparently, these types of guns are not very accurate) and began to chase me. The bear began to catch up to me. As I was sprinting for my life, I had tripped on a stone, therefor the bear caught up to me fully. I pulled out my knife, and right as the bear was going to tear my body into shreds I stabbed the bear in the face, and killed it. After going through all of that I had decided to Just catch a fish and cook that. As I was enjoying my twopound fish I heard a faint whirring noise coming from above me. I looked up and saw a prop plane flying above me, I was saved. Calvin Sweet, Grade 6 Normal Park Museum Magnet, Grant Knowles

56


An Ordinary Owl Dreamed into Creative Land Once upon a time this was not a fairy tale. There was an owl that danced and played volleyball those were her favorite things to do. It was a struggle between both between both of them. There was school and volleyball and sometimes she will get picked on. She tried her hardest to do her best. She tried to start everything smoothly because she didn’t want to embassies herself to everyone. She was a girl that will get bulled it’s because she was short and people thought she couldn’t play a sport. But something crazy happened she remembers like it was a dream. How it all happened the very next day in creative land. The very next day she was dreaming but it all started about me. But the very next day she was about to go to bed that’s when she dreamed about creative land. It all begins the next day. She was in a cottage with a monkey/unicorn Yup! She was dizzy but she tried to think clearly. He said who are you in creative land she said why am I here. The monkey/unicorn said you landed here out of nowhere but someone said you were going to land here for a quest. Why she said? The monkey/unicorn said because the creative masters never did anything why? Because they saw you having a hard time in real life Who would have known they just do because they told me the monkey/unicorn said you have to go through the dancing hippos after that you have to go through the volleyball flamingoes’ and the biggest gummy bear. Only three things you can do it owl! It might be hard. No it’s going to be a piece a cake! Monkey/unicorn said you are going to stay another night here it’s getting late. That’s fine with me I do need the rest. Monkey/unicorn said yes you do. The very next day monkey/unicorn said bye. One thing I am a wake I was scared I thought I was in creative land it felt like the next day I was going to go on adventure ha-ha that’s funny it was a dream well that was a bad ending ha-ha well I have to go to eat breakfast. Jamie Torres, Grade 6 Rhea Middle School, Mrs. Jenkins

57


Love at First Sight I gently press the horse’s soft muzzle with my miniature baby hands. Just a baby wouldn’t know the feeling of love like this, though. Scratch that, I believe every living thing knows the feeling of love. Of course, I have no idea I will love the big smelly thing I have just touched. But deep down, I did know. I gaze into the horse’s dark brown eyes and I swear I can see the obedience in them. Tiny voices are shrieking in a frequency I can’t hear, but they’re saying, “One day you’ll realize you love it!” Ten years later I notice the voices. I can finally hear the minuscule voices! They were buried in a mountain of voices. Now I am soaring two feet high over red and white poles. The horse’s firm hooves clomp against the dirt. Dust flies around the horse’s hooves. Her mane bounces back and forth. A sizeable snort echoes through the air. I dismount and pat the horse’s soft neck. I grasp the reins and stroll out of the arena. I thrust the saddle over the horse’s drawn-out back. I settle the leathery saddle onto the rack. As I let the bridle slide off the horse’s head I daydream about our last ride. Cantering through the arena, Ruby needs to take a breath. The horse nudges my shoulder probably thinking, hey where is my peppermint? She watches my feet wander into the tack room I reach up to the top of the fridge and snatch a peppermint off the top of the fridge. I hand Ruby the cool peppermint. Ruby nickers with joy, at last she has gotten her well-deserved treat! As she munches on her peppermint I look back to when I first saw Ruby. What a beautiful chestnut, I kept thinking repeatedly in my mind. That very same day I got to ride her! What a lovely day that was! Every day I ride is a lovely day. Aidan Walsh, Grade 6 St. Jude School, Tammy Smith

58


Where Does It Get You? th “Why bully others?” Anne Davis is a 7 grader who got diagnosed with Brain Cancer. Her best friend Katie Lewis is trying to help her and support her. On April 18, 2014 Anne Davis was on stage in front of the whole school speaking and practically no one was listening to her. Suddenly, she fainted in front of everyone and they were all laughing because everyone thought she was really nervous and passed out. She was rushed to the hospital and the doctors did a cat scan to check her brain. The results came back that Anne had a large tumor and it was Brain Cancer. Anne’s long black hair was already falling out she had to shave her long black hair. A week later she was able to go back to school, she went back and everyone was calling her a coward on stage and laughing because her head was bald, and people said she looked like a boy, the only person who was supporting her was Katie. No one knew she had cancer. Anne didn’t come to school for a few days, then a few weeks. She didn’t want to get bullied anymore she was ready to give up the fight, that day people at school were saying “she was even a coward to go to school.” Everyone was telling jokes in the cafeteria and Katie was tired of it. Katie got on the lunch table and told everyone they need to stop bullying Anne and that she is fighting Brain Cancer. Everyone was so shocked and felt really bad, everyone told Katie to invite Anne back to school. The next day, Anne came back to school and everyone was saying sorry to her. That day, Anne felt special she felt like the cancer wasn’t even there. That next month, Anne had gone back to see if the chemo and medicine was curing the cancer. The doctors said it was gone! Anne had fought her tough battle! Everyone was so happy, that day was just for Anne Davis. She is a fighter! In conclusion, why bully someone, what is the point? To be popular? Well, bullying doesn’t make you popular. Today in society people bully others to the point that they end their life. Don’t bully others we all are the same! Bella Wilson, Grade 6 Rhea Middle School, Mrs. Jenkins

59


[ 7th Grade Poetry ]

60


The Cheetah In the vast Sahara Desert the cheetah runs, his spotted fur blowing back and forth, sand getting in between his nails. His stomach roars in pain, for he is hungry and angry. His nose, as sensitive as can be, catches the big whiff of a pack of gazelles, always his favorite meat. His eyes light up, he is in awe of what he has been blessed with. The gazelles are sleeping deeply as the cheetah stealthily approaches. O the glory of feasting on gazelles! The cheetah attacks, his sharp, shiny whitened teeth bite the tender skin of a gazelle, The other gazelles wake and run away, distraught, in shock. Blood is strewn everywhere; the sight is not pretty. The cheetah savors the gazelle. O, cheetah, cheetah, you are such a cheater, you are so fast, and such a voracious eater! Xian Campbell, Grade 7 Baylor School, Mr. Loftin

61


A Nightmare Running is a crazy act, I sit on something hard, It makes me ache. I'm stuck in a prison, My prison. My eyes are hurting. Bleeding continuously. My mind races. As fear its self is after me. My stomach hurts as it comes, Out from the red curtains. Its make up running, Runs after me. The laugh echoes. As if I was going to die, Making my blood pump. Then suddenly everything stops, Everything is quite once again. Then silence is interrupted. As it takes something, Alex Coley, Grade 7 Baylor School, Ms. Collins

Out from its endless pockets. A big balloon. The clown takes a long shiny needle. She holds the needle up to the sky, Although dark, It still shines. Then she holds it to the balloon, And it pops. At last I open my eyes. I sweat profusely As she comes towards me, Arms outstretched With a look that would send chills Down the toughest man's back. Her name tag reflects against my fearful eyes. Her perfume makes my head ache. Her smile makes my stomach clench. Everything she does makes me hurt. As she collects the test.

62


The Noodles Perched upon the pantries second shelf, camouflaged by different foods so that no one finds them, I lay my fingers on them, lying behind the satisfying lucky charms I ate for breakfast, and a whole new world opens up, For these noodles, were not just any normal noodles, they were ramen noodles. Before I have them in my grasp, they sit upon their shelves at Target for only $1.25 a pack, and then the ramen whisper to the person looking at them, calling for them, soon ending up on my shelf behind the lucky charms, hidden away from the world, but opened up to me. As I find the ramen in my hands, I take the packet to my Keurig coffee maker, sitting next to the window on the kitchen beside the dining table. I prepare my bowl like deboning a fish after fishing, it has to be perfect to eat. I grab my glass bowl and set the Keurig to make only hot water. As the waterfall of boiling water streams down from the nozzle, there is a slight smell of coffee from making it this morning. I feel as if I was in the jungle, and I just found a new species of bird, Yet it feels as if time is taking a year every hour, and a minute every second. The water slows to a drip and stops its dancing. I put the big square of hard ramen in the bowl of boiling water and wait. Tick, tock, tick, tock. Time goes on for what feels like an eternity, but it was only a few seconds. Once done, I pour the packet of the invigorating chicken flavoring into the stringy noodles, chicken flavor was my favorite, and I think most would agree. Some chicken powder poofed onto my face, and I didn't care one bit. I stir with a spoon until no grain of powder was left over. and then I add exactly 4 ice cubes to let the temperature drop. I stir again. It's done, for what felt like a lifetime making them, it was done, I looked at my watch, and only 3 minutes have gone by since the moment I had arrived at the pantry. I take my fork, and eat, taking one noodle at a time, making sure no noodles get left behind. Luke Gallien, Grade 7 Baylor School, Ms. Collins

63


Father The rain comes, the pain runs The love stays but it also Pays. You left me in this cold World in this little curl. Father you’re still there in dreams I remember the cream you put in The coffee you drank the steam From the cup. I’m the last child You saw before you walked to The gold gates on the gold states. In that cold place save me From this area of space, it’s like You left me in space I can’t breathe Or see dad what have you done To me. That’s only what you can see. Olivia Grantley, Grade 7 Brown Middle School, Alyssa Hawkins

64


Tennis Match Point, swing, slam. Parents start clapping wildly. I feel excited but nervous at the same time. I try to stay focused but on the other court, someone just got hit in the mouth. Ouch! I feel pressured but hopeful. If I can just make this next shot then I will win it all. I serve, it goes over! I feel relieved. Thoughts are going through my head, Like a hurricane of winds. What if I lose the next point? We will have to play another game. Am I going to hit it in the net? Am I going to make it over? Who knows, all we know is that I need to be focused. It is her turn the next shot, she hits the ball in the net! I win, it’s all over, and we shake hands like it was the last day of the world and we were saying Goodbye. Then I proudly walk off the court. Lizzie Hill, Grade 7 Baylor School, Mrs. Collins

65


A Camera

Sometimes, we can be a camera. You can focus too much on what’s in front of us to not see what’s around us, or we can focus too much on what’s around us to see what we’ve had the whole time. For we must see all angles, in order to make the right decision. The flash almost blinding, but still needed when it is dark. The eyes brought out to see what’s really there when all seems lost. For it is the only way the picture can be captured in a dark setting. The lenses of a camera, fitted to match the situation, because we know not all situations are the same. But when they are, there’s always two ways to interpret it, before you choose the right lens. And when they aren’t, you have to be able to tell which condition it is, before you call it a lost cause. So it’s okay to be a camera, as long you know when to use the flash, what angle, and what lens, you will always get the best results. Anna Johnston, Grade 7 Hixson Middle School, Mrs. Birch

66


Drawing When I was young, I drew from the vague doodles of markers to an intricate work using a vast array of colored pencils. I drew two dimensional flat mountains that touched the sky, I drew trees that covered the land, I drew an inky sea that pirate ships plowed. Now I draw in the third dimension with a modicum of color. I draw a red apple shining in the sun and a blooming dogwood swaying in the wind. Yet I look down in frustration, knowing I can do better with every line that flows from my pencil like a never-ending river. Then the river dries, the lead dulls, and my mind is parched of thought until a sheet of white paper, void of color, is placed in front of me. Michael Kinsey, Grade 7 Baylor School, Mr. Loftin

67


Peaches Sweet and ripe perfect just waiting to be picked But no one ever picks you With every day that goes by you start to rot You like to think it's only because they forgot But we both know that is not the case Your soft pink exterior turns brown from the pain found at the pit of your soul Still you wait And wait But no one ever picks you Until the day when you just Fall Ellen Rich, Grade 7 Chattanooga High School Center for Creative Arts, Sandra Howard

68


On a Rainy Day On a rainy day. Thunder to you is like the madness of the storm But thunder to me is like the earth’s heartbeat It beats loud The rain is like the earth’s tears The rain pours and pours But why is the earth sad Why does the earth’s heart beat so loud a cry What have we done to this world Gabby Ricks, Grade 7 Ooltewah Middle School, Courtney Lucas

69


[ 7th Grade Prose ]

70


The Journey The scorching heat of the desert burned my skin as I struggled to go any further. I decided to take my last stop, lying my rug on the sandy floor. I let the last drops from my canteen float into my mouth. I reached for my last package of crackers, filling myself up before I finish my journey. I shouldn’t be that far. I think. Anyways, I need to get some sleep before dusk. I had made it admirably far, considering how much I’ve been through. I was only ten years old, and I have traveled halfway across the country. But that’s not as impressive as it seems. When my parents were young, the country was much bigger. But with the incredibly destructive war and corrupt government, the country split up into seven smaller ones. The country that I lived in was right in the middle of all the others. Naturally, when you border six other hostile territories, yours is basically a constant war zone. When the biggest country declared war on ours, my mother knew it was time. She gave me food, water, a map, and a compass, sending me away. She would never tell me why she didn’t come, but it seemed as if she couldn’t. Two days into my journey, I looked back at our city, just in time to see it explode. It was probably another nuclear bomb. Honestly, I expected worse. Now, one might think to themselves that all this stuff might be a little too much for a ten-year-old to handle. Trust me, it is. I wake up just as the sun starts to set. Perfect timing. I’ve been traveling for a week or two, and I know from experience that it is better to do the majority of the walking at night. During daytime, it can reach up to 120 degrees with no wind or precipitation (special no thanks to global warming). However, it’s moderately cold during the night, but nothing I can’t handle. I start my journey with newfound energy from my break. I know where I’m going, but I don't know what I’ll find. I’m just assuming that the big red X on the map indicates where I’m supposed to go. After all, X does mark the spot. If there’s nothing there, I’m dead. Right now, I’m just living on hope. I’m only an hour or so in and I’m already exhausted. I’m starting to question myself. What if the compass is wrong? What if nothing is there? What if I never make it? What kind of fool am I to put all this effort into something based of blind hope? And then I see it. In the sky behind me, there is a huge mass of clouds. Some may wonder why clouds are such a big deal to me. The quick answer would be that I don’t see clouds very often. And by not that often, I mean once or twice a year, and that’s if we’re lucky. And when I thought it couldn’t get any better, I see a skyline on the horizon. I break into a full out sprint, racing towards that city. What will I find there? Who will be there? What do I want to be there? Will I live a normal life again? BOOM! My thoughts are broken up by the earsplitting crack of thunder. Maybe I wanted rain a little too much. Well, what better time to find shelter? After a long time spent running, I finally make it to the town. Or what little is left of what used to be a town. There is as close to absolutely nothing in this town as I could hope for. Dust is flying everywhere, the buildings are anything but inviting, and it is all capped off by the always amazing smell of something rotting (please don’t be bodies). And then, as if the mood couldn’t any get more depressing, it starts to rain.

71


I have no idea what to do. I am frozen still and have no idea where I am besides the fact that it’s incredibly creepy. Fatigue washes over me as my body catches up with all the running I’ve been doing. There is a flash of lightning and the world goes blank. I wake up to the sight of a tiled ceiling. I look around and see nothing except walls and the bed that I’m in. There are many cracks in the walls and ceiling, an unsafe amount. There is also rusty door in the far corner, finishing off the eerie and mysterious room. Where am I? What happened? How long was I asleep? I must have been captured by somebody, but who would want a dirty little kid? My thoughts are interrupted by the thud of someone walking down a hallway. I decide to take a risk and ask, “Hello? Is anyone there?” The footsteps stop and I hear a voice say, “Sir, he seems to be awake.” I hear heavier footsteps and a deeper voice replies, “Good, I’ll take it from here.” There is a screech as the door opens and a big, bulky man enters my room, greeting me with welcoming smile. “Hello, Dylan, I see that you’re awake,” he says. “Wait, how do you know my name?” I question. “Dylan,” he softly replies, “do you not remember me?” “How would I remember you, I’ve never seen you before!” I ask again. “Oh Dylan,” the man replies, again in a very soft voice, “You’re my son.” That, I was not expecting. Timothy Barron, Grade 7 Hixson Middle School, Mrs. Birch

72


The stall

She sat in front of me, never speaking, never moving, she didn’t seem to even be breathing, she just sat there, still as a doll. She was swaddled in shades of loose black clothing, her long wispy hair was darker than the night sky, her eyes were a piercing gray, her skin was paler than the moon, after which she was named. The girl’s name is Crescent, I only know this because of the daily roll call, even then she doesn’t speak, she just raises her ghostly hand. I laid my head down on the cool desk atop my crossed arms, still staring at her long black hair. Crescent intrigued me in an odd way, as a moth is drawn to a zapper. Today I was going to talk to her, I pulled the plush sleeves of my violet sweater to the bends of my elbow, I puffed out my chest, drawing out all my confidence, I felt kinda silly doing this. I slowly approached her, her piercing eyes tracing my every move, steadily making me more and more nervous. I opened my mouth to speak, hoping the perfect words would just to mind, but they didn’t. She walked away leaving me there with a dumbfound expression, I felt foolish and embarrassed, but I wouldn’t give up. I started to start up conversation every day, she never replied to me, but she seemed to enjoy my company. It had become a daily routine for me to have these one-sided conversations with her. She would reply every now and then, with a quiet “Yep” or “Oh that’s nice,” although small, these words meant the world to me. She began to talk more often, I found out we had a lot in common. She would save me seats next to her, and her face seemed to hold a kind look that it didn’t before. She wore color often, and her dull grey eyes had a sparkle that they didn’t have before. I might be imagining this, but she is so different than she was when we first met, and I was happy for her. All was going great, until that cold day in September. I walked into my homeroom expecting to see Crescent, who always got there before I did, she wasn’t there. I held my jacket closer to myself, trying to ignore the cold air in the room. I wasn’t too worried; she might just be late or something. She didn’t show up at all that day, which was odd, considering she hadn’t missed a single day this year. She missed day after day and i grew more and more worried for her. The next week she came in, late albeit, but she was still here. I opened my arms to give her a hug, but she just brushed me off. Something didn’t seem right with her, I looked into her eyes, seeing nothing but hatred and sorrow. The whites of her dull gray eyes held a slight red tint, and her cheeks were red and stained with tears. She pushed me to the side and sat down. I was so done. She had ignored me all day, when I tried to ask what was wrong, she just glared at me and walked away. I felt frustrated, she misses a week and then she won’t even talk to me! Against my better judgements I exploded. I screamed “Why are you just ignoring me?! Do I not mean enough to you for you to even acknowledge my existence, well I’m sorry that I’m not good enough for her royal highness, but I’m trying my hardest to be your friend!” The sudden outburst felt good for less than a second, immediate regret washed over me. I tried to apologize but the words wouldn’t form, it didn’t matter anyways she was gone. I felt the eyes of my fellow students on me and I crashed through the hall, chasing after Crescent. I followed the sounds of muffled crying, towards the bathroom. The bland setting blurred in my vision, my eyes watered, tears blinded my blurry eyesight, but I kept running. Millions of thoughts droned on in my head, my heart burned from adrenaline and regret. Every

73


thought melded together creating a mess of confusion in my flurry of thoughts. My brain and heart throbbed in unison as reached the bathroom. I murmured out an apology, breathing heavily I awaited a response, an dull aching pain built in the back of my head, the sounds stopped, and I heard the fumble of the door’s lock, the stall opened. Crescent walked out, her face covered by her dark hair, like a veil it shielded her expression from view. She embraced me suddenly, surprising me with her brash actions, she never did this. She let go, moving her hair slightly, revealing her red face and puffy eyes. She sat on the floor, motioning me to join her, I obliged. I sat on the cold, incredibly dirty floor. She leaned in towards me, she cleared her throat and started to speak. “My mother was sick for a long time,” her scratchy voice cracked, she trailed of for a moment, but then continued with a sigh, “she passed away.” She sniffled and wiped at her cheek with her sleeve. I stared at her for a moment trying to think of any empty words of sympathy, instead of saying anything, I let her cry on my shoulder, it was the best comfort I could provide. On that day in a dirty bathroom stall I understood the strange and intriguing girl, my new best friend. Kahmyah Bowman, Grade 7 Hixson Middle School, Lori Thacker

74


Jazz Music

Jazz music is an art form that is equally controversial as well as love? Jazz has been around for just over a century. It was originally Slave’s drums combined with European horns that morphed into what we know it as today. Jazz music has changed and influenced America, and my family was a part of it. The beginning of Jazz Jazz music is thought to have started in the late 1800s. “Some will say jazz was born in 1895, when buddy Bolden started his first band. Others will say 1917, when Nick LA Rocca and his original Dixieland jazz band recorded, Livery Stable Blues.” (neworleansonline.com) Either way, Jazz was thought to have started in New Orleans. In the mid-1800s, New Orleans was the only city in America that allowed slaves to own drums. People of all types listened to the music played and years later, musicians combined their style with other music they had heard in their lives. This music morphed into Jazz at the turn of the century. The change of Jazz Jazz slowly morphed as time went on. In the year 1900, a ragtime pianist competition was held in New York. In 1902, a park called Lincoln park in New Orleans had a pen area for musicians to play. In 1909, ragtime popularity began to rise and became very popular for both African Americans and Whites. An all African American club was created for Jazz musicians in 1910 by James Leese. Jazz music was moved across the country by Kid Or in 1919, and in 1922 recorded a record with an all African American ensemble. In the 1930s and 1940s, my great grandfather was a Jazz Musician. “1960- The Modern Jazz Quartet records an album with an Orchestral accompaniment.” (Jazzinamerica.org) Over time jazz grew in popularity. Along with the popularity, the size of bands and records also increased. Jazz slowly changed over time. Modern Jazz What is modern Jazz like? There are few differences between modern and classical Jazz. “...Modern Jazz players who, in the name of developing roots, are emulating the styles of musicians from the swing era (1930s-1940s).” (melmartin.com) Jazz is like the saying, ‘if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.’ Jazz music is already perfect too many Jazz listeners, so there is no need for change. Just because modern Jazz is similar to classical jazz, doesn’t mean jazz hasn’t evolved. Jazz has always been open to new styles and instruments. So, even though instruments and styles were added, the roots have remained the same. Modern Jazz is extremely similar to Classical Jazz. Has Jazz Influenced people Jazz has influenced people. It is a way of sharing African American culture and bringing people together, but it also created conflict. “...’The Devil’s Music!’...believed that such a free

75


flowing art forum was and could lead people to express their own personal Liberty.” (evolutionofjazz.wordpress.com) Some people were afraid of change and didn’t like the unstructured improvisation of Jazz. Even with dislike from some people, Jazz was able to thrive and influence people. As you can see Jazz has changed people. Jazz has caused conflict, brought the worst out of people, but has also brought people together. Jazz has evolved to include new instruments and has always been open to new styles and creativity. Jazz hasn’t changed much, and it will probably remain similar but we don’t know what it will influence next. Abraham Coons, Grade 7 Normal Park Museum Magnet, Mrs. Sarah Andrews

76


Stranded One moment, my friends and I were speeding across the Chickamauga Lake, and the next, we were stranded, drifting aimlessly in the water near the dam. It was my sixth birthday, and my parents had invited my entire class to my grandparents' lake house. Once the cake had been eaten, some of us decided to go for a ride in the old speedboat. The wind pummeled our faces, and the spray glittered in the sun as our boat bounced in the choppy waves. As we headed in the direction of the dam, with the gorgeous blue-green water surrounding us, I believed that nothing could go wrong on that fantastic day. However, as always happens in movies and television shows, things began to go downhill from the moment that the thought entered my mind. The memories of what happened to get us into our predicament are fuzzy. We might have stopped to swim, and then the boat wouldn't start again. Maybe the boat just shut down. However, I do recall that the fuel gauge had told us that the boat had a quarter of a tank of gas left, and it wasn't until later, when everything had been sorted out, that we discovered that the gauge was broken. The tank had been empty. Had we known how much gas was actually left, the entire situation could have been avoided. We drifted for a while, and, fortunately, ended up slightly to the left of the dam, where the rocks were piled up to the road. My dad could touch, so he jumped into the water and desperately pushed the boat to keep us from bumping into the rocks. Some of the other parents had phones, so they called those who remained back at the house. However, none of us knew if they would actually be able to help, so we kids took it upon ourselves to find someone who could aid us. Although some of the parents were worried, the four other kids on the boat and I weren't panicked. On the contrary, we were excited to be in such a pickle, although I still can't figure out why we thought that it was so awesome back then. It's possible that our immature imaginations turned the situation at hand into something much more grand and dangerous than it was in reality. We were prepared to do whatever it took to slay the sea monster, find the lost treasure, hijack the ship of a band of ruthless pirates after doing battle with them to protect the chest of gold coins, and arrive at home a hero. In case the sea monster never showed up, we made sure an alternative solution existed. We tried many tactics to get the attention of the other people who were out on the water, such as calling out, doing the silliest things we could imagine, and raising our arms in a "y" shape, a sign that was supposed to mean, "YES, WE NEED HELP!", according to my friend. None of those ideas worked, although we did get back to the lake house, thanks to my grandfather and his neighbor's boat. Our old Caravelle Interceptor with the faulty fuel gauge made it back as well. Even though everyone else had left by the time I got back, I wasn't upset in the least. My normal birthday party had turned into something interesting and exciting, almost an adventure. Being in that odd situation with my friends was even better than being the center of attention for a day. I also had still gotten cake, and I, for one, can't have a truly bad day after eating cake. Rowe Cooper, Grade 7 Baylor School, Ms. Collins

77


Last Moment

I stroked the once silky black fur on my fifteen-year-old dog's head on the carpeted floor in my silent house. Looking into his soft brown eyes, now clouded with age, I felt my tears course down my face. Don't die now Boaz, I need you. My stomach twisted in knots and my heart did a flip. Just because my lifelong friend had a tumor near his heart didn't mean that my family couldn't try to save him. My mom could take him to the vet. I squeezed my eyes shut. You have been over this a million times, Anastasia. He will be better off in a better place; but some part of me wanted to hold on, yet clutching a life is like trying to grab smoke. I grabbed a fist full of Boaz's coarse hair and ground my teeth. I was helpless to the rage that consumed me. I could not just sit there. Then, I realized that no matter when it would happen, everything dies, and I lay across the body of the body I had used as a pillow, a foot rest, a friend, a therapist, and a listener. After a while my breathing became ragged. I set a gentle hand on Boaz's flank and studied him. His floppy, sensitive ears, his shiny black fur, and his soft eyes looked so much weaker than I had noticed. The crackle of the fireplace keeping the early spring draft out took me back to old childhood memories. I remembered the few times I had cried, and how he was the first one to come to my aid, whimpering. I smiled sadly through my tears. My dog lifted his head and looked at me with compassion, as if he knew that it was his time. He gently huffed into my face with his faint cinnamon breath, courtesy of a sliver of pumpkin pie I had slipped him. and I kissed the top of his head. My stomach bucked in protest but I knew it was best to do what I was about to do. I squeezed my eyes shut and willed every memory about Boaz to stick in my head like tar. I opened them, gave my best friend a final kiss and a gentle pat with tears in my eyes and a lead heavy heart, and then let him go. Anastasia Fischer, Grade 7 Baylor School, Ms. Collins

78


The Dark City

Gabry and Catcher stared back at the collapsed bridge and the mountains behind it, where the Recruiters stood. Terrified and relieved, Gabry turned to face Catcher, who was looking towards the mountains, “Where do we go now?” said Gabry. “We just keep going towards the Dark City.” Just as the sun was about to vise, Gabry and Catcher started to walk up the mountain. Slowly they made their way up the mountain as the sun rose above them. “Do you think we will find the Dark City?” said Gabry. “I don’t know, but I hope.” said Catcher. “Why was I not with Cara, it’s all my fault she got infected!” said Gabry. Gabry dropped to her knees, and started crying. Catcher dropped down beside her and held her. “It’s not your fault, it was Cara’s decision.” said Catcher. “I didn’t get to say goodbye.” said Gabry. Gabry and Catcher sat like that for a while. Gabry wiped away her tears and stood up. “We should keep going.” said Gabry. Catcher nodded and stood up. They walked in the daytime and slept all night until sunrise. They did this for 3 days. On the fourth day, they woke up and started walking. They were starving and dehydrated. Mid-way through the day they came upon a big gate. It leads into the Dark City. Autumn Fisher, Grade 7 Ooltewah Middle School, Courtney Lucas

79


The Trail of Tears Relates to My family The Trail of Tears was an important and sad time in history. My ancestors hid out to escape the Trail of Tears and that changed the course of my family. There were four routes in the Trail of Tears, trailing many states to reach Oklahoma. Since there were so many people that got affected by the Trail of Tears this relates to a lot of families and also their history. Geological Features There are many geological features of the Trail of Tears. “The Trail covers more than 2,200 miles of land and water in nine states.” (cherokeemuseum.org) It began in Northwestern Georgia and ended in Oklahoma. The route they took, took them through Tennessee, Kentucky, southern Illinois, and Missouri. They did this travel in many ways, because they boated over Tennessee and Ohio rivers, and down the Mississippi, and up the Arkansas river. Travel and Route During it about 4,000 died and there were about 17,000 Native Americans before the Trail of Tears. This took about two months to walk, 1,000 miles’ total distance. (national geographic) Most people went on the Trail of Tears but some small groups of Native Americans hid out and did not go on the Trail of Tears. This trail was a sad and hard journey for the Native Americans. Pbs.org says “The Cherokee people called the journey the “Trail of Tears” because of its devastating effects.” They also said, “The migrants faced hunger, disease, and enthusiasm on the forced march.” “This commemorates the suffering of the Cherokee people under forced removal.” (history.com) Causes and Effects Causes and effects of this tragic event are many but this is just to name a few major ones. One cause was that “Andrew Jackson took no action after Georgia claimed millions of acres of land that had been guaranteed to the Cherokee Indians under federal law.” (history.com) He claimed Georgia had no authority over Native American tribal lands. This started the Trail of Tears. The Trail of Tears resulted from the enforcement of the Treaty on New Echota. How the Trail of Tears relates to my family The Trail of Tears relates to my ancestors and family, and many more that also have ancestors that have something to do with Trail of Tears. This relates to me because my ancestors were a small group that hid out in the mountains to keep from going on the Trail of Tears. If my ancestors didn’t hide out, I wouldn’t be the same person. This tragic moment in history changed the course of many people’s lives including mine and my family. It taught me to be brave and strong and do what’s best for me and my family no matter how hard the situation

80


may be. I know that had they gotten caught, they could’ve gotten in trouble, but I think they were very brave by rejecting the demands and not going. Conclusion This is what the Trail of Tears is, why and how it happened, and more details about it. This is also how the Trail of Tears can relate to families, including mine. Even though this was a sad and devastating time in history this story will live on forever, especially if this relates to you and your family. Life might be different if this didn’t happen even though it was a sad and devastating time. Aleah Gallaher, Grade 7 Normal Park Museum Magnet, Mrs. Sarah Andrews

81


The New Car

A late fall afternoon, the Millbrooks came home from vacation. The old car Ker-Plunked into the driveway. You could hear it sputtering when it came to a stop. “School is starting in two weeks.” I said sternly with a straight face “let's go get the school stuff because you always wait until the last moment.” “George.” my dad told me as he was heading toward the house “just wait until next week or something.” Dad walked in the house and threw himself on the big brown recliner we called Big Joe. “I’m so exhausted from that long drive.” My dad mumbled already half asleep. “I just wanna slee... SNOOOOOOOORE!!” my dad fell asleep. “Fine, I'll wait.” I told him. Two weeks later, it was the day before school. “Hurry up!” I rushed dad as i filled in the rest of my side of papers. “We still need to get the school supplies!” The school janitor’s cleaner smell was getting to me. “George,” my dad said putting his hand on his forehead, “please be patient.” So I just sat there and waited for my dad to finish mine and my siblings’ registration. When my dad finally finished all the registrations, we went to Walmart* and got all the school stuff. In the distance, you could hear the floor buffer running. “Dad?” I asked “What time is it?” “Ten thirty” he replied. I just ran across the store and got the main thing, composition notebooks. By the time we got to go to bed it was 11:30. The next morning we got so little sleep and missed the bus. We had to take the old, raggedy car. I got there and I had the worse luck. The Cool Kidz (what they call themselves) were unloading from their cars. “Who is that?” You could hear Alex, the biggest bully asking his friend looking at me then at my car weird. I got into the school as a high school freshman and I had a good day so far until I got into 4th block. That class had all the bad kids and kidz in it. Then Alex the biggest bully (literally) told me, “He-hey! It’s the uhhh…. Yeah! The old car kid!” you could hear some fake laughs in the background. So I went up to have a little talk to him. I told him that he sucks at coming up with offences and all that bully stuff. After that, we were good friends. But the other kidz kept on teasing me. The next day, we just decided to take the car instead. We had even more bad luck. The richest kid in the whole city came to the school. His name was Harry. He took up half of the whole car line with his limo. The limo moved so as we started to move, the old car creeped along and sputtered, and jittered, then simply stopped. It was dead. I walked into the main halls and found Harry. “HA, HAA, HAAA!” Harry laughs snootily. “You poor, poor, thing. Literally.” “Really!?!” I ask angrily, “Why do you come to this school all rich and teas all the kids with less money than you? It’s not their fault.” “FIGHT ME!!!!!” Harry replies as you see him sweat nervously. He rolls up his sleeves. “NO!” I snap back at him, “Not Now! ARE YOU CRAZY!?” Harry just walks away giving me a stare. So, the rest of the school day goes fine. Then I get home and my dad was waiting for me inside. I walked in and could smell my mom's delicious quesadillas. “Hello son.” My dad says in a good mood, “Come with me to the car!”

82


“Why?” I ask in wonder. “I promise you’ll love it!” I could tell my dad was really happy when he said this, “You’ve been waiting for this sense the star of school!” So, I just followed along and left with him. I saw my dad driving on the road to the car store. “YESSSS!!!” I thought. We finally got to the car store and there she was. The one and only 2017 Suburban* left. It was brown, perfectly polished and modern. “That’s the one.” Dad and I said at the same time. “Wow!” So, we got the 100,000 dollar car and drove happily home. The next day, we pulled up to the car line and all the kids and kidz watched in awe. I walked into the school and everyone left the rich kid, Harry and came to me. “Look!” Alex yelled, “The old car kid has a new car EVERYONE wants!!!” My dad waited parked outside of the school for five minutes, so everyone except Harry observed the new car. Harry came up and punched me in the jaw. I grabbed my jaw and popped it back in place. I looked at him while he sweated like crazy. “You wanted to fight, Huh?” I asked aggravated, “You’ll get it this time!!!” I ended up beating him but I didn’t get in trouble because I couldn't get out; Because, people surrounding me. The next day, Harry got in so much trouble and came to school in regular clothes. “HARRY IS BANKRUPT!!!!” Alex yelled through the intercom to get payback on Harry. Harry’s nervous sweat came down again. This time, all the regular kids and kidz made fun of Harry. We found out his parents’ business had lots of complaints and were sued for lots of copyright and fake guarantees. So, the next day was the weekend and I heard something outside. I looked through the peep hole in the door. I saw Harry beating the cars in the Neighborhood. I called 911 and then the cops came. I was holding Harry down. HE got arrested and fined. “I’LL GET YOU GEORGE!!!!” Harry screeched from his jail cell. “I wonder what the t sound was.” I said while eating Lays* and watching Netflix* from my house, “Oh well!” Juan Galva, Grade 7 Hixson Middle School, Lori Thacker

83


Jim’s Leg

The breeze of the fresh morning air filled my lungs, January 24, the day that I call my birthday. This year, 1969, I’m turning 21, that special day is today and I feel as though I was a child. A smile filled my face all day long! The joy of it swelled up inside me, my heart is about to burst out of my chest! This day is sure to fill the year with joy and luck. I’d better hurry to the mines, oh how time passes when you’re having fun. “I should probably leave.” Work has been great, like I guessed. I’ve gotten tons of coal from the mines. The only bad thing is the snow; it’s good in its own way though. The frost freezes up all the equipment. It’s only been 2 days after my birthday, I’m sure things will get better. The machines will probably start being put into garages every night, so they’ll work better in the morning. Today I’ve been asked to do the midnight shift, and I accepted. My prediction was right, the job I was asked to do was put Charlie motors away. The Charlie’s were used for getting coal out of the mine, so it needed to be ready for the morning shift. I found out that I’m working with another guy, that’s nice to know. If I’m out in the pitch-black night alone, I’ll lose my mind. It will be nice to meet a new person too! I should leave for my shift; it’s getting pretty dark out there. Did anyone ever tell you that it is hard to walk up steep hills at night, “what is that, a bug?” I bent down and swiped the bug off my leg. There’s the mine, and I think I see the man that’s working with me. I’ll go say hi to him; we are going to be working together for a while anyway. Once I introduced myself I when straight to my job. Actually this isn’t that bad! I have a person by my side to work with and help. Still, I have this weird, irritating feeling in my stomach and chills down my spine. Something is bound to go wrong! Wait, what am I saying? I’m fine. Nothing will go wrong, but I feel like I’m just telling myself that. What if something really goes wrong? I’m trying to work normally, but the feeling I have is unbearable. I can ignore it for a while, as I did I started the Charlie motor. “Boom”, a puff of exhaust was released into the cool air and glided into my face. I could taste the poisonous fumes, spell the oil and grease. I started my way to the garage. I slowly drove over the snow gracefully, but now it feels like I am on a twisted ride after a full-course meal. It feels like something warning me away, but I’ll do what I need to do! I’ll ignore the feeling and go on. As the Charlie slowly crunched its wheels along the unmarked snow, I started to calm myself. “Things are great, I just had my birthday and I would rather die than abandon a job I accepted!” I don’t know why but a feeling of pride is flowing through me. I’m not afraid of any feeling, the crunching of the snow continued for at least 2 more minutes. I feel into a trance or daze I think because I had to shake myself awake. The man’s engine awoke me. I can’t believe I forgot he was here!

84


As the winter breeze softened, I finally reached the garage. As I slowly stopped in the perfect position, for a split second the feeling in my stomach felt like a shotgun wound, my leg felt as though it had been shattered in millions of pieces! I dismounted the Charlie and stretched for a second. Driving those take me awhile so I get the tiniest bit sleepy. It’s just seems to always relax me and put me into a trance. I’m awake fully now at least ready to fulfill; the morning shift isn’t coming. As I’m taking a couple steps I realized there was a monster in front of me. I tried to move, but my body was frozen in fear. I felt goosebumps crawl up my arm and down my legs. This was the cause of that feeling, the feeling that the day will come to a horrible stop and you’ll be missing something in the end. I have to move or else it’ll run me over in an instant without hesitation, the rails it was attached seemed to cling in a rhythm. Soon I could tell that the monster was really a Charlie motor and the man that was working with me was in it! “Hey! Stop the motor, turn it off!” I signaled to the man to stop. The man looks like he doesn’t see me! The motor is at least an inch away from my nose and I suddenly took a small step back giving me time to mumble one illegible word before an unbearable pain shot through my body like a bullet. My leg is falling to pieces, the motor’s roaring loudly like never before. The vicious teeth dug into my leg, devouring it with glee, the taste of blood, unbearable. The cold, metal jaws are slowly digging into my leg. The deeper it gets, the more dazed I feel. The eyes flashed yellow, its mouth is filled with freshly, ripped flesh. The rhythm of the motor stopped and my leg is shredded into thousands of pieces. The man is rushing over to me, leaving his bumpy seat. He looks confused and scared, like child that was caught stealing food at night. I looked away from my leg it was horrible I glanced at it slightly a moment ago and…. I’d rather leave it undescribed. All I could see was a pool of leaking blood and a motor on top of what looked like pulverized meat. I know what will come if I stay like this for too long, but I don’t what to accept this as an end, no I won’t! I still have the tiniest bit of consciousness. I’ve tried many times to sit up but I was being held down the heavy air of death, I’ve noticed other voices, I can’t see too well now. Their voices sound desperate and rushed; I wonder where I am right now. I also feel this slight breeze and a heavy weight have been lifted off me. I can’t see my hearing is going too; maybe I’m being loaded into an ambulance, by the feeling of the cool winter air. Black, all I could see, hear, think, and feel. Emptiness. Faith Ann Hawkins, Grade 7 Normal Park Museum Magnet, Mrs. Sarah Andrews

85


The Eating Habit

“BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM!” The doctors were slamming the swinging doors and wheeling her to the delivery room as fast as they could. Running, while screaming to the nearest nurse, “GET THE I.V.!” The head nurse whipped around the corner, her coat almost falling off as she pushed the I.V. toward the doctors. The doors at the end of the long hall were getting closer every second. “BAM!” went one door, and “SLAM!” went the last. The woman was moved onto a cool, blue, sheeted mattress. She pushed and pushed with all her might, breaking into a sticky sweat. It seemed like it would never end! Then, finally, there he was! In his Mother’s arms, at last! It was little Shane. Shane was growing, and it wasn’t very long before he had his first birthday party. Shane was in the car traveling to his favorite place, the Atlanta Zoo. He had a big smile across his face, while he was excitedly wiggling in his car seat. All he could think about were those gorillas! After what felt like a very long journey, they finally arrived! Shane’s whole family was there to greet him and celebrate his birthday with him. As you might guess, Shane’s favorite place in the zoo was the gorilla exhibit. Sometimes when he thought about them, he whined and complained because he wanted to be a free and powerful gorilla. He knew that he would be the best, most popular of them all! He liked to pretend and play like a gorilla; but, when he really thought about it, he knew he was a lucky specimen, too. Shane loved to see the strange things they ate, he laughed at how they walked, and loved to watch them climb. So, he put his chubby face up to the thick glass of their enclosure; his eyes stayed glued on the gorillas for almost half of a tiresome hour! This is when Shane had an idea. He decided he had to know what it would be like to eat like the gorillas. So he did. When he put the big, green, squirming bug into his mouth, his face lit up with joy and delight. He crunched, he chewed, and then he licked his lips! Do you know what he did next? He walked all around to find more! Shane’s love for bugs began that day and it stuck like chewed gum sticks in your hair. Many weeks passed, but Shane’s mom had no idea what had been going on. Then, one day while they were at the neighborhood pool it all changed. She saw Shane pop a giant, fluttering insect right into his mouth! She jumped up, ran as fast as she could, and screamed in terror, “What are you eating?” “That is disgusting!” Shane spit out the slimy bug in shock and embarrassment. After that, she tried to forget about it and didn’t get too worried. Over time, Shane’s mother found more bugs around the house. She began to watch him more closely and cautiously and noticed that he was eating more bugs at every chance he got! Now she was worried and she had to put an end to it. She decided to call Doctor Martin. As the phone was ringing and ringing she bit her lip, it seemed like she waited an eternity. Finally, she made an appointment, anxious to hear what he was going to say about Shane’s health. It was appointment day, Shane and his mom went to the doctor’s office. They sat in the scratchy stuffed chairs and waited anxiously. When the doctor came in, Shane’s mom was picking at her fingers nervously, she knew something was wrong. Doctor Martin told her that Shane was not healthy and that he probably only needed a few weeks to recover. He would need rest, nutritious food, and his mom should never let him out of her sight! After three long tiring weeks of healing, Shane went back to the doctor for his

86


checkup. Doctor Martin busted through the door, knocking Shane’s mom out of her chair as he screamed, “How is this possible?” As she sat shocked and terrified in the floor, her eyes grew big and her heart raced. What was he going to say? What was going to happen? She demanded an answer from Doctor Martin, “Is Shane going to be ok?” Believe it or not Shane’s health was better than normal! “I was expecting more time, but, he is the healthiest kid I’ve ever seen!” After the amazing and shocking appointment, and Doctor Martin’s great news Shane received a free two-year zoo pass and even went to go get the best ice cream in town to celebrate his amazing results! Dillon Kosik, Grade 7 Hixson Middle School, Mrs. Birch

87


A Strange Day in July

Lincoln and Luna were sitting by the lake, contemplating why their parents had to leave so early. It wasn’t often they had to check up on auntie Whispers, but this time, their parents had gone in a rush, and even forgot to say goodbye. Lincoln, the more adventurous of the two had suggested that they go to the lake. Luna being the smarter of the two, stayed cautious, in case something happened. They sat skipping stones for the majority of the afternoon, having skip contests, and seeing their capabilities in the profession of hurling rocks with all their might. It wasn’t until Lincoln had suggested they go home, that it happened. They had found the rock that would change their lives FOREVER. “Lincoln, I’m hungry, can we head home?” Luna whined, not quite sounding herself. Something was off, probably her patients. “Alright, just a few more skips” Lincoln responded, sounding as though he could stay much longer. He threw a rock. “Well, be quick” Luna responded quickly He threw another rock “C’mon, let’s go already” Luna whined again “Just one more?” “Okay” Luna had given up He threw with all his might, but the third stone came skipping back. “Oh god, what was that” Luna whispered, so nervous she clung to Lincoln like a leach “It… came back” Lincoln was spooked too He picked up the rock again and threw, and once again, it skipped back. They both ran home. Luna made sandwiches and they laid down to sleep. The very next day, their parents returned and asked them how the previous day had been. Luna, being the smarter of the two said a casual “good”. Lincoln being the more adventurous of the two decided to tell them everything. Their parents dismissed it as nothing

88


more than a practical joke, but the children had other ideas. They decided to go to the lake later and investigate for themselves. Lincoln threw a rock at the smooth surface of the water, hoping dearly that it would defy physics. Sadly, it did not. Luna threw a rock hoping she could share her discovery with the world. Alas, it just sank. They threw one together, hoping both their dreams could come true. No luck. Lincoln sat down and sighed, disappointed that nothing had gone his way so far. Luna sat too. “We need to go back home for lunch soon” Luna said, trying to keep the sadness out of her voice. “Okay…” Lincoln responded, not really paying attention to anything around him. He was thinking about what had happened the time previous. They had to go home. He threw 3 rocks. The third one came back. “Got it” he whispered to himself. “Got what?” Luna asked. Lincoln walked to the pond, and threw a rock. “It’s not going to work.” He threw another one. “Let’s just go home.” He threw with all his might, but the third stone came skipping back. “YESSSSSSSSSS!” Lincoln yelled. Luna was lost for words. “It only works if you’re in a hurry.” Lincoln declared. “Well let’s go, I’m starving” Luna cried. Alex Kurtz, Grade 7 Hixson Middle School, Lori Thacker

89


Just a Dream? “I can’t. You have to go on without me. When you press that button, there’s a chance that I’ll be free,” the Sandman sighed. “There’s no turning back now.” “How am I going to get around this? This trench could go on for miles,” Casey’s voice trailed off. “Try going across the tree. It could be our only chance,” the Sandman was still frustrated; his face was again, red. “Okay,” Casey took a deep breath, “Here goes nothing,” As she balanced on the tree, for the first time in a while she felt brave. That was, until the last step, the tree cracked and fell into the pit. “That was a close one,” she said for she had leaped in the nick of time to get across the obstacle. She turned and was relieved. “Go, and make sure you remember to stay alert, and always be brave,” and those were the last words Sandman ever said to Casey. Although that may have just sounded cheesy to you, but not to Casey. She said those words over again in her mind. Twenty minutes later, she arrived at the doors, she pulled on them, but they were locked. She knocked on them in front of a very ugly, run down, over-looked base. The perfect place for thriving nightmares. “What’s the password?” a cranky, hideous, old witch that had more warts than a witch has in a children’s book, answered the door. Casey’s face turned red and her mind went blank. “Just a minute,” Casey stuttered. She instantly sprinted for the bushes. How am I going to get past the witch? Casey thought. She saw a vampire come towards the entrance. She watched and waited. “Hey Barry, what’s the password?” the witch went all cute-man-dreamy. Ew. “Cucumber,” he responded. The doors opened. Casey ran towards the doors. “What’s the password?” “Cucumber,” she responded. With a loud squeak, the doors without hurrying opened and came to a halt. She walked into a cobwebbed, musty room with air that was filled with dust. It instantly gave her headache and goosebumps. Other hallways were attached. She impatiently looked through the many hallways and started observing a silver sword. On the sign, it read, “Stolen from dream number seven hundred fifty-six. Can cut through anything.” she knew she dare not to touch it. She turned to the left to see a sign that read, CONTROL ROOM. And under that, DO NOT ENTER. It’s probably in there, Casey mumbled. and, of course, a silver lock protected anybody to go inside. She started tampering with it. She heard whispers and footsteps, but when she glanced around, no one was there. “So, Ms. Casey Kramer, I've been waiting for you my dear,” Casey whipped around to the sound of an old man. But it wasn't just some ordinary old man, it was a very spontaneous wizard, an evil wizard, full of dark magic. “I can see you're a smart little girl. Aww, where’s the sandman, did he give up on you? Well, he gave up on me,” the wizard was about to grab her with his blistered, bloody hands when she dropped the lock and sprinted as fast as she could go, back to the main hallway. The silver lock had landed on the wizard’s foot. Smoke when up into the air as he shouted with pain and fury. A large, lock-engraved wound was left on his foot as he started to go after her.

90


His eyes turned red. He was bursting with furry. With a flick of his wand, a black shadowed arm shot out and reached out to grab her. It caught hold so tight, her foot went numb as she winced in pain. “Time to give up little girl!” he snarled, as he walked to be inches away from him. “Never!” she screamed as she kicked and punched harder than ever. Once her foot kicked the wand out of his hand, she was gone like the wind. THE SWORD! She thought. Casey ran and grabbed hold. She waited for the right second and… SLASH! The sword instantly pierced through his cruel heart and smoke went everywhere. As she coughed, his last words were, “I’ll get you for this!” She stood in silence out of breath. Not a trace of blood remained. She caught her inhalation and strolled calmly to the locked door. She slaughtered the lock with the sword. IT OPENED! She quickly located the giant red button that labeled self-destruct (duh, no wonder she found it so fast). She was just about to press it when she paused and saw herself in the mirror. She didn't see the usual bossy, obedient, little fifth grader. She found the brave Casey, and that was the side she liked. She then understood why she was the one. Because she was special. She closed her eyes as she pushed the button. A white light blinded her. When she reopened them again, sunlight was flooding through the windows. She was laying on the couch like nothing happened. She had just thought of this as just another crazy dream. But deep in her heart, she believed it. The Sandman, the wizard, her quest, everything. But the one thing she knew she wouldn't forget is that she is special, and always will be. Riley McCormick, Grade 7 Hixson Middle School, Mrs. Birch

91


19 Years and a Death Attempt “After all this that’s happened,” Blair thought to herself, “I’m going to kill her. I’m going to kill Serena for what she’s done.” So here’s what’s happened over the last 19 years. Nate and Blair separated, but are still somewhat friend and still hang out. Serena and Blair tried to be friends but Serena tried to kill Nate once again. Knives were being thrown between the two girls. They bickered and bickered over and over again. Blair tried to be a good person again. Surprisingly, it started to work, but failed after the close to death of Nate. “So after all this time, you’re going to try and kill her?” Nate asked as he sat on the floor. “Of course, we would still be together if it wasn’t for her.” Blair said with a face of no emotion. Suddenly, she jumps up and runs to the safe in the corner of her closet. “Where are you going?’ Nate asks with a questioning look “I’m going to get my gun and my knives,” Blair said while huffing,” And then i’m going to go and kill Serena and make her pay for what she has done.’ So, Blair runs to her safe, puts in the code, and grabs her weapons. “Now the fun begins.” She says laughing as she stands up and turns to the door. But, as she turns around, she is surprised by the company of one person that she hates the most. Serena! “Well, well, well,” Serena said with an evil smile spread across her face, “this will be fun, won’t it?” “No! No! I was supposed to get you first,” Blair said with complete anger, “I was supposed to get to you first, not the other way around!” “Well, that’s not going to happen,” Serena replied, “Throughout my whole life of knowing you, I have wanted to kill you. Now’s my chance and you’re not going to ruin it for me!” As Blair is getting tied up against the wall, a tear escapes her eye and she starts to ball. “I can’t die, not today! Please!” Blair cries, “I’ll do absolutely anything!” “I’ll let you live, but only if do one thing for me,” she says, “Kill Nate for me.” “No! If I have to do that, then I’d rather you kill me!” “As you wish.” Serena said with an evil grin and began to start the torture session. Serena then began to cut slowly with the freshly sharpened knife into Blair’s back, then her arms and legs, listening to her screams of pain. “Please! I beg you! Just go ahead and kill me! Get it over with. Just kill me” Blair whimpered through her tears. “Okay, I will.” Serena said as she picked up the gun. As Serena put the gun to Blair’s head, she suddenly started yelling wake up. “Wake up! Wake up” Suddenly, Blair’s eyes opened and Nate stood over her with caution. “Are you okay? I couldn’t get you awake.” “I’m okay.” Blair said still confused “Okay,” Nate said almost out the door, “I’ll leave you alone now.” As Nate left the room, Blair looked at her surroundings. She was in her bed, then everything came back to her. “It was just a dream,” she whispered to herself, “It was just a dream.” Aubrey Moore, Grade 7 Ooltewah Middle School, Courtney Lucas

92


Why I Love Horses

Horses are my favorite animals. I have been taking horseback riding lessons for five years. I am happiest when I am on a horse. I take lessons every other week and I look forward to them every second. Riding is my escape from the stress of school and home life. I love horses because they are strong, beautiful, and intelligent. Horses are very strong. They are used to are used to work or pull carts and can pull heavy loads. When you jump a horse their powerful back legs propel them forward and their front legs catch the entire weight of the horse. Horses can also kick tremendously hard. Sometimes they will buck forward and kick with full force using their back two legs. The horse receiving the kick will not be hurt, which is another reason to prove that horses are strong. Most of all, horses are beautiful! They have smooth, soft coats, strong legs, delicate heads, long, fuzzy ears, and large brown eyes. I love grooming and petting horses because of how soft they are. I also love how a horse’s mane and tail fly out when they canter or gallop; they look so free! God made horses to be a living work of art! When you look into a horse’s warm brown eyes, you know immediately that they are intelligent creatures. A horse can sense your moods, so if you get frustrated, the horse is frustrated, and if you are happy, the horse is happy. Horses also learn very quickly. With enough communication and treats, horses can learn a trick within an hour. I adore horses, and in my opinion they are the most beautiful creatures in the world. I love everything about horses, even mucking out their stalls! I absolutely love horses because they are strong, beautiful, and extremely intelligent. Naomi Oster, Grade 7 Hilger Higher Learning, Shelley George

93


Overcome Mary’s face was bright red with anger and her steps her way too long. She jumped and kept her momentum moving forward. I jumped to block, but her hand didn’t even touch the ball. I landed, wrinkling my eyebrows. Sure, Mary’s hits almost never made it over, but she always made contact with the ball. Mary landed on top of my left foot and kicked over, forcing my ankle to roll and me to fall. I yelped in pain and reached for my ankle. “Amelia!” Ashley’s voice cried out. My hands were still fumbling to find my ankle. Sharp pains flew from my ankle and up my leg. “No,” Coach Allie said softly as she returned my hands to my sides. Ashley took my left hand as Coach Allie examined my ankle. I bit my lip, the last thing I was going to do was cry and give Mary that joy. She was not gonna take the joy volleyball gives me away. “You okay?” Amelia asked with a concerned look. “I’m absolutely great,” I said as sarcastically as I could. Ashley rolled her eyes. I rolled my eyes too, but I rolled mine to keep the tears in. “Well she hasn’t lost her sense of humor,” Jase, Ashley’s twin brother, laughed. I tried to laugh with him, but it turned into another yelp. “Stop, she’s in some serious pain,” Jackson commanded. I was surprised to see him at our game. He may be Ashley’s older brother, but it’s not like him to come to our games. He didn’t come to one last year. “Do you need anything?” Jackson asked. I opened my mouth to say “no,” when Coach Allie beat me to it. He was talking to her, not me. I heard Mary’s laugh. She knew I liked Jackson and she tried to spread that all over school a month ago. I passed it off as a lie (especially to Ashley) and never even hinted to it since. “Someone already called an ambulance,” Coach Allie explained. My mouth dropped, was it really that bad? A tear escaped from my eye. A warm hand closed my mouth and wiped my tear away. I looked at a sympathetic smile on Ashley’s face and smiled back. Her dirty blonde ponytail fell over her shoulder and she didn’t even care to swat it away. ~~~ The hospital is stupid. Not only does the smell of hand-san make me want to puke, but they asked me the same questions over and over again. “How did this happen?” “Which ankle?” “Can you rate your pain on a level of one to ten?” The overall worse, however, is “Does this hurt?” Well duh! I eventually just stated, “If you touch my ankle it hurts.” My mom scolded me, but they stopped messing with my ankle. The doctor announced that he would be back and left along with the nurses. Coach Allie, Jackson, and Jase walked in afterwards. As mom explained what all had happened since the ambulance got me to Coach Allie, Ashley sat down beside me and took my hand again. “You any better?” she asked with that smile returning to her face. “No,” I answered simply. “Did you run out of jokes or something?” Jase attempted joked. Ashley punched him in the shoulder. Jase hit her back.

94


“Stop it you two,” Jackson, who was on my other side with Jase, piped up. “Thank you,” I smiled and looked over at him. “Y’all should listen to your brother more often.” I looked back over at Ashley. I was almost shocked. I never realized how much she resembled her big brother. He had the same dirty blonde hair (except his was way shorter) and eyes as brown as Ashley’s. They looked like their mom. While Ashley’s twin resembled her father, brown hair and blue eyes. “You should listen to your friend,” Jackson smiled. His smile lit up any room, no matter how dark. “So, did Mary not want to come apologize?” I asked Ashley, not wanting to look at Jackson’s hypnotizing smile. Plus Ashley is the only one I felt like I could trust. I had known her for five years, that builds trust and honesty. I guess that means I should tell her about my feelings towards Jackson, but I could never do that to her. How do you even work that into a conversation? “About that,” Ashley began. “I should be the one to tell her,” Coach Allie walked over beside Ashley to explain. “The thing is, Mary claims it was an accident.” “Do you believe that?!” I asked panicked. “Of course not!” Coach Allie reassured me. “But Coach Andy does.” Coach Andy is the lead coach overall. He made the decisions and right now he was making the wrong one. My hands turned into fists. “Can’t you do something?” I asked with a scratchy voice. A cold hand fell onto my right fist and began to rub it gently. I glanced over at Jackson and my hand wasn’t a fist anymore. “Not exactly,” Coach Allie began, Jackson’s hand left mine. “I told him he was wrong and he said I was. Then I told him I wouldn’t allow her on my team.” “Go Coach Allie!” Jase exclaimed and put his hand in the air to get a high five from Jackson. Jackson shook his head as Ashley lowered his arm. “What did he say?” I asked. “He said that she would just have to play for varsity.” A smile began appearing on her face. “Why are you smiling?” I asked. It’s not like a sane person would smile at that. Ashley smiled too. What was happening? “I told him that I didn’t care. That he could go right ahead and poison his team like that.” We all laughed until the doctor returned and informed us that no surgery was needed, just a cast and crutches. I smiled. Mary had not won this battle. Emma Parson, Grade 7 Hixson Middle School, Mrs. Birch

95


The Bed and Breakfast Once upon a time there was a girl. Her name was Annie. She was a very smart and creative person. She loved creating things. One beautiful fall day she found a gorgeous house for sale. It was a little grown up from what she could see, but she loved it. She was planning on making it a bed and breakfast. She searched for the owner and when she found him, she asked the price of the house. She didn't quite have enough money so she started looking for a job. It took her some time to find a job, because she wanted one that would pay a good amount, so she could get the house in less than two years. Soon she found a job that would pay for the house in less than two years! That Monday she started work. Months had past and she had started getting paid more because of how hard she worked. She didn't get paid much more because it was a small business, but she was very thankful. About a year and a half had past and she had finally gotten the money for the house! She was so excited until she found out some other people were interested in the house and that made the price go up. She was disappointed, but she kept her head up and went back to work. A few weeks later she had gotten the money. She had finally gotten that beautiful house that she had wanted so long. Annie soon decided to look around to see what she would have to fix. When she looked through, it didn't look like much, but when she started actually working on it, she realized there was quite a lot to do like fix the busted water pipes, some of the ceiling that was starting to cave in, some of the windows that were broken, and more. She was a little nervous at first, but she started working on it anyway. She started on the inside and worked her way out. The house soon started to look better and better. Months later she opened the house for business. Her bed and breakfast was beautiful! She had made beautiful handmade table clothes, gorgeous bedding, and wonderful food. Soon it became very popular and that's where she worked the rest of her life and loved every second of it! Delaney Phillips, Grade 7 Silverdale Baptist Academy, Connie Regal

96


I Was Born Like That

Ring! Ring! The bell sounded. It was time for Isaac to go to baseball try outs. He felt confident in himself when he thought back to his Mom’s confidence in him. Squeak! The squeaking of Isaac’s wheelchair made everybody turn their head towards him. When he got there, he thought there would be boys there already but he was the only one. A boy came in and asked “Why are your legs like that?” “I was born like that.” The disgusting frown on Isaac’s face made the boy feel horrible for asking him. All of the boys came into the locker room one by one, lastly the coach came in and said “Alright boys let’s get changed. Be sure to get your bat bags too.” Isaac got his bat bag and followed the other boys to the baseball field. “Who’s gonna be the base runner for me?” “You pick.” the coach said. All the boys looked at Isaac like they were disgusted, so Isaac picked the boy who he thought wasn’t. The boy’s name was Charlie, he was small, but he looked like the fastest base runner. Isaac walked up to the plate, he was nervous, but he knew he would hit the ball well just as he did practicing with his Dad. The first pitch was a strike his face became red. Crack! The bat split in two as Isaac swung the bat. Isaac smiled as Charlie ran to all three bases then straight to the home diamond! “You’ve got great talent” the coach smiled. Before Isaac knew it try outs were over. When Isaac got in the car his mom said “We’re having tacos tonight. Dad will be home soon.” Isaac’s Dad smiled with a mouthful of taco.” Do you know if you made the team yet?” “No I’ll find out tomorrow afternoon.” Isaac responded. Isaac like usual he wheeled himself to the couch to watch his favorite TV show. It was eight an hour until Isaac’s bedtime. Isaac plopped on his bed at eight fifty-five and before he knew it he fell asleep. “Lights out.” Isaac’s mom said. His mom got worried so she checked on and realized that he fell sound asleep. Isaac was wheeling himself to baseball and the coach was waiting for Isaac with his jersey just as he thought the coach would. Ryan Porter, Grade 7 Hixson Middle School, Mrs. Birch

97


PB&J Peter’s cousins are finally coming over again. After three years, the whole Kinney family is reunited again for the big celebration. It was a very special day; it was Mimi and Papa’s 75th anniversary. The aroma of smoked barbeque surrounded the whole house as they celebrated. Brian and Jacob are going to arrive any minute now. Last year, they brought over a football and got Peter into the sport. Peter couldn’t wait to show them his MVP trophy that he got from his school team. “Welcome welcome,” Peter’s mom said smiling. As their parents were talking, everything was awkward between them as they stood there, but they got over it. “Hey, want to play some basketball with us later?” Brian asked Peter. “I don’t really like basketball I’d rather play football,” Peter insisted. “That’s what you said last year about football, look what happened,” reminded Jacob, “Come on, just try it.” “Fine!” Peter groaned, as he picked up the orange, textured, ball. Peter had an old basketball hoop that he got when he was on the high school basketball team. Peter felt disappointed as he went to put up his football in the garage. “We can teach you the basics that you’ll need to know,” Jacob said as he shot the ball. After eating dinner and getting caught up with everyone, P, B, and J (a name that Peter, Brian, and Jacob was called by everyone whenever they were together) started to work on teaching Peter how to shoot the ball. They stayed outside for as long as they could, this is how it was for the three days that P, B, and J was together, outside all day, with a basketball. “You’re pretty good considering you never played before,” complemented Brian. “Thanks, I never really thought about playing since you got me into football last year,” replied Peter. “So you’re going to try out for basketball, right?” asked Brian. “Sure, why not,” Peter answered regretfully. Peter was just afraid he wasn’t good enough for the team. “I can help you get ready for tryouts and throughout the year if you want me to,” James asked since he played basketball when he was in school. “Yeah, if I make the team,” Peter answered unsure of himself. “I’ve seen you play this week and I promise you will make it,” encouraged James. After a couple months of school, it was now time for tryouts and James had the responsibility to take Peter. As Peter waited for his turn, he tapped his feet and fidgeted his fingers. “Peter Finney!” called the coach. All he had to do was shoot a basketball from different spots on the court and show the coach what he could do, then he was done. “You did great Peter,” James said patting Peter on the back. “Thanks, I guess we will see the results Monday,” Peter said feeling a bit overwhelmed. Monday came in a blink of an eye and that morning the results if they made the team or not were in. Sure enough, Peter Kinney was on the list. Peter noticed that Vince Smith was also on the list, he was known for being the best at all sports and he was also one of Peter’s main concern about joining the basketball team.

98


There was practice that afternoon and it was the first practice of the year, so they didn’t do much. “Hey Peanut! Do you think you’re good? I don’t even know how you even made the team!” exclaimed Vince, “You’re gonna be the reason we lose this year.” Peter just ignored him since he knew better than to respond. This was how Vince treated Peter the whole year and Peter just kept ignoring him. It was coming close to the end of the season and Peter’s school, Mission Creek, had a very high chance of being in the finals. Peter practiced, even more than he and James have been, even when James couldn’t help, he would practice by himself. He also showed up at all practices, be the first to start, and he was always the last to stop. It wasn’t long until Mission Creek was going up against Santana Roe in the finals. Peter had practice one last time the night before, and he went over everything he needed to use in the game. “It is now halftime and Mission Creek with 51 points, and Santana Roe with 45 points,” the announcer said over the speakers. At this point in the game, Peter and his team was feeling great. It was tied at the end of the third quarter, Mission Creek didn’t stop trying and Santana Roe starts to ignite in the fourth quarter. “Pass the ball back to me!” Peter said since Vince was being guarded by two people and Peter was wide open. “Smith with the ball, five seconds on the clock, Mission Creek down by two, he shoots from the three-point line and the shot is… no good,” said the announcer, “Santana Roe is the winner of the 2016 Carthage County Schools, boys basketball team. Even though they lost, Peter was still proud of himself. He was able to make the team even though he wasn’t the best, and then improve a great amount by the end of the year. It has been a week since the last game, and today was the award ceremony for all boys’ sports teams. “The Most Valuable Player of the year is… Peter Kinney!” announced Coach Samuel. As he walked up to get his trophy, he remembered back to all the times he had with basketball this year, how he pushed himself past his limits. It is now the summer of 2017, Brian and Jacob are coming over for the 76th anniversary of their grandparents. Peter can’t wait to show them his basketball trophy. When they arrived, they stepped out the car, they were holding a soccer ball. “Here we go again.” Peter thought, laughing inside. Tracey Quach, Grade 7 Hixson Middle School, Mrs. Birch

99


Chapter Four: Stars

Stars. You know about them, right? The little specks that you see in the sky every night. They don’t mean anything to you, do they? Not to Andrew Dubin. To him, it’s a way to connect with his stepfather. He knows they are always there. HIs stepfather says that they are always there, even when you don’t see them. Like love. At least, that’s what his stepfather says. Whenever he looks up to the sky, Andy talks about the stars. “Tonight the sky was low and filled with darkness, and though I turned the telescope in every direction, I couldn’t find a single star.” Andy says he doesn’t know if what Paul Paws said was meaningful or not. But I think after everything he’s been through, he knows now. When he was saved from the kidnapping of Fred, the one thing he mentions is that he looked at the stars. His stepfather was glad. He knew about the stars. He knew now that the stars are always there, but they may be hiding. But they are there. To us, though, stars are just specks. They are just little puffs of bright, shiny, always there, and granted light. Stars die. They don’t last, not for long. To some of us, the travelers, we use these puffs of light to navigate. The North Star, the star that saved people. Some are constellations, the collection of stars you have been taught to see. The Big Dipper. To other people, we take them as signs of hope, love, or something in that realm, like Andy and Paul Paws. To some other people that don’t care about these puffs of light, they are just lights. And, we always expect them to. We always expect them to shine for our viewing. When you don’t see them, you start to care for them. Sometimes, we don’t care about them. But, as people have told us billions of times when you have a choice, you don’t know what you had until you lose it. You don’t realize what you had until it’s gone. Now that I think about it, the stars in Andy’s story show the love of his mom. When he left home, the stars wouldn’t show up because he denied the love. When he saw the stars, he knew his mom loved him. He knew his mom worried about him. He went back. He knew what he lost, and went back to get it. Alejandra Rocha, Grade 7 Ooltewah Middle School, Courtney Lucas

100


Walking Home I woke up to my alarm clock blaring. My sister walked into my room. “Are you awake?” She yawned. “Yeah,” I mumbled. I got out of bed to get dressed. Mornings are awful here. Ever since my parents left, we have had to do everything on our own. Our apartment is small as well. I hate it. I hate it for my sister, Cassady, too. She is 19 years old and she can’t live her life because my stupid parents left, but sometimes I let her go out while I watch my little brother, Zac. He is two years old, so it’s easy to watch over him. Anyway, after I got dressed, I walked into our tiny kitchen to see my sister. “Hey Cass, I’m going to go, okay?” I said as I grabbed my backpack. She nodded. I walked to get my shoes but I was stopped. “Brendon wait!” She called after me “Can you watch Zac when you get home today? I have job interviews to go to.” I nodded then grabbed my shoes. I put my shoes on and ran to the subway station. I got on and sat in a seat. When the train got to my stop, I ran off to get to school on time. When I got to school I slowed down. I hate school. I slowly walked to my homeroom class. I walked in and sat at a seat next to Trent. “Hey!” Trent exclaimed. “Hey.” I replied. I wish I was at excited as Trent was. It almost made me jealous of how happy he is all the time. The announcements came on and my teacher walked up to me. “Hi Brendon, don’t forget, instead of going to your first class, go to the class I told you about.” She explained to me. When she walked away, I rolled my eyes. I had to go to a class for extra credit because I missed two months of school. The bell rang and I went to the old history room where I had to take the class. I walked into the classroom and there were eight kids in there. I saw Trent and felt less nervous. I sat next to him just the bell rang. The teacher walked in and smiled. “Hello everyone. This is a class for extra credit. You were probably put in here because you have bad grades, you’ve missed school, or you just volunteered.” I looked around the room and saw Mia. I hate her as much as I hate school. But why was she here? I know she never missed school and she doesn’t have bad grades. So, I’m guessing she volunteered? She is such a teacher’s pet. That’s why I don’t like her. “So for your extra credit I will be pairing you up with partners.” The teacher said with excitement in her voice. She started calling out partners. “Trent Hicks and Alaina Harrison.” Trent was excited, but I wasn’t. But then, the teacher decided to ruin my day even more. “Brendon Valor and Mia Parker.” We both groaned. Mia raised her hand. “Can I change my partner?” She asked with hope in her voice. The teacher shook her head and Mia rolled her eyes. I went home after school to see a note from my sister saying she left. I went to go check on Zac. He was asleep so I went to do my homework. After that, I heard a knock at the door. I opened the door to see Mia.

101


“Can we act civilized? I don’t even know why we fight.” She said. I shrugged then nodded. She smiled a bit and handed me a piece of paper. “Our project is on 9/11 by the way. So start studying.” She said handing me the paper and leaving. 1 week later A week later, we were hanging out. There was an awkward silence. I grabbed the poster board and she huffed. “I thought we were going to act civilized.” I told her. She rolled her eyes and sighed. “Fine. Sorry.” 3 weeks later Three weeks later, I was working with my partner Mia. She was acting really hyper. She was making jokes about some song. She was standing on her couch and jumping around. “Why are you so hyper?” I asked her, in between laughs. “I don’t know.” She giggled. After joking around for another hour, I decided it was getting a little late. “Hey, I’m going to head home before my sister gets worried.” I said. She nodded and I grabbed my backpack and left. I decided to walk because going on the subway at night was dangerous. I’ve heard millions of stories about people being shot or kids being kidnapped because it was night and nobody was really around to witness anything. As I was walking down the dim streets, I saw two strange men. They were dressed in black and I couldn’t see their faces. They started walking towards me. “There he is.” The one on the left whispered to the other man. I picked up my pace and started walking in the opposite direction. “Hey Valor! Don’t run from us!” They yelled after me. I dropped my backpack and started to run. How did they know my name? Then, it happened. I heard three gunshots. I looked down to see them in my chest. It happened so quickly. I honestly should have gone on the subway. Maybe this wouldn’t have happened if I did. One second, I was just minding my own business then all of a sudden two strange men shot me. Then sirens were ringing in my ears. The men gave each other a worried look and sprinted away. My vision became blurry and I could feel my heartbeat slow down. I saw the police cars drive towards me and people getting out to check on me. Then everything stopped. I couldn’t hear anything. Then my vision went dark. McKenzie Scarbrough, Grade 7 Hixson Middle School, Mrs. Birch

102


My Great Grandfathers in the Battle of the Bulge Two of my Great Grandfathers fought in the second World War. One, Thomas Shaw, was part of the 101st Airborne division. The other, Carl Cataldi, fought with General George Patton’s 3rd Army and he was a tank driver in the 4th Armored Division. Interestingly, both of those divisions fought alongside of each other in Bastogne, Belgium, at The Battle of the Bulge. The 101st Airborne The 101st Airborne Division was activated in June 1942 as a reserve unit, then in August 1942 it was reconstituted in the Army of the United States; they were the Screaming Eagles and their motto was “We have a Rendezvous with Destiny.” “The 101st Airborne Division first saw combat during the Normandy invasion, 6 June 1944. The division, as part of the VII Corps assault, jumped in the dark morning before H-Hour to seize positions west of Utah Beach” (ww2-airborne.us). On the fly-in right before the jump they encountered antiaircraft fire, destroying some planes and causing many soldiers to miss their landing sites. Their mission was to secure Utah beach and destroy the Germans’ beach defense to allow infantry forces to land. However, the division is probably most famous for the Battle of the Bulge in which they laid siege and eventually took Bastogne. The 4th Armored Division The 4th Armored Division was activated in April 1941. They were unofficially known as “Breakthrough” and their motto was that “they shall be known by their deeds alone.” “The 4th Armored Division landed at Utah Beach on July 13, 1944, a month after the D-Day invasion (June 6, 1944) of the French Normandy coast.” (Ushmm.org) The 4th Armored division was greatly known as a liberating unit because they discovered and liberated the Ohrdruf concentration camp, which was the first camp to be discovered by US forces. “The 4th Armored Division's discovery of the Ohrdruf camp opened the eyes of many US soldiers to the horrors perpetrated by the Nazis during the Holocaust.” (Ushmm.org). Before that invasion many people did not believe or understand the severity of the Holocaust. Bastogne, Belgium The day after Christmas, 1944, the 101st was surrounded by German forces and they had been for several days. “The encircled 101st Airborne Division had occupied that critically vital Belgian town for several days, categorically refusing German demands for surrender.” (Historynet.com). Because Bastogne was a central city that controlled many roads leading through the Ardennes highlands, a densely wooded area, it was very important to both Allied forces and the Germans. The 101st and multiple infantry units had been laying siege to the town for a few days but they were surrounded. The 4th Armored division was the first Allies to reach the 101st in Bastogne. It took five long, bitter days for them to finally burst through the ring of Germans surrounding the 101st. “At the critical road junctions of St. Vith and Bastogne, American tankers and paratroopers fought off repeated attacks, and when the acting

103


commander of the 101st Airborne Division in Bastogne was summoned by his German adversary to surrender, he simply responded, ‘Nuts!’” (Army.mil). “The dramatic linkup of the two forces broke the siege of Bastogne and was one of the great turning points in the Battle of the Bulge.” (Historynet.com). The victory at the Battle of the Bulge undoubtedly set the stage for the victory of the war. My Family It is very interesting to think that these two men, Thomas Shaw and Carl Cataldi, could have fought alongside each other, one driving a tank and the other parachuting down into battle, then years after they had gotten home they met each other. My Grandmother, Pam Dietsch, told me that she can remember that Carl would always remind Tom that he was the one that had saved him in Bastogne. I wonder what they thought when they met each other and found out that they had fought in the same battle and could have come so close to each other in battle, and now they find out that they live in the same place, Long Island, NY, and they just happened to meet each other then. Final Note My two Great Grandfathers fought in the Battle of the Bulge in Bastogne, Belgium. Thomas Shaw parachuted into Utah Beach, Normandy on D-Day as part of the 463rd Parachute division in the 101st Airborne. Carl Cataldi drove a tank onto Utah Beach just over a month after D-Day as part of the 4th Armored Division in General Patton’s 3rd Army. When the 101st was surrounded in Bastogne it was the 4th Armored Division that got them out. Then those two men just happened to meet each other and find out that they lived in the same city. Furthermore, they became part of the same family. Aidan Shaw, Grade 7 Normal Park Museum Magnet, Mrs. Sarah Andrews

104


The Battle

December 19, 1985 I watched outside the window as the long, hot, bloody battle, happened. The soldiers dying right on my doorstep. I wondered if this was the end for my country; my home. Shouts and screams of mothers heard all around. "My baby, not my baby," cried the mother of a soldier. I wondered if there was anything I was able to do to stop this chaos, not one thing. My father, grandfather, brother, uncle... all fighting for their lives; my life. Suddenly I heard a scream, a loud scream of agony, death, and warning. The British are near. I knew then, and right then, I wasn’t gonna make it. I turned around and saw a large crowding figure coming from the kitchen. I watched as the newly created piercing in my skin oozed a thick, rich, crimson fluid, so captivating and surreal looking that I was transfixed for the last seconds of my life before a new color appeared and I fell to the floor. Blackness was the last thing I saw. December 1, 1985 "Father! Father!" I cried out as I saw the emperor's horse come in. The emperor worriedly said, "Mr. Green, we need as many as men ready to fight for our country. We picked your family as a center point for soldiers." My father then replied to this with a glad and proud honor to serve our country. "The Green family will happily fight for this nation as needed. We are honored to fight." "Great," the emperor said as he saddled back onto his horse preparing for his leave. After the emperor left, my father told me," Don't be scared Lydia, We are fighting for justice. We can die in battle, but we won't go without a fight!" And with that my father left the room. December 8, 1985 My father, grandfather, brother, and uncle, had officially finished their training, and were ready to fight for their country. I looked upon the dreary roads and sidewalks; not a whisper to be heard; not a person to be found. As I walked around the streets waiting for my family, I saw an awkward creature walk past me. The creature was 6 feet tall, and very ugly. The creature had a very slimy face, green in color. "What's your name?" I asked the creature. The creature answered, "Monstrutomus." Monstrutomus and I walked around the corner and I asked," Why are you here?" Monstrutomus answered, “I needed a little time away from my village." And with that I saw Monstrutomus taken and killed. "The British are here! The British are here!" I screamed as I saw my father, grandfather, brother, and uncle marching with the rest of the army. Mashal Sohani, Grade 7 East Hamilton Middle/ High school, Hannah Davidson

105


Why?

I sat there staring at the empty, beige wall ahead of me. Why would she do that? Why would Meghan break her promise? She promised me that she would never do drugs. But she broke that promise. I trusted her. It was so quiet in my room that you could hear a pin drop. My door slowly opened, creaking slightly. My black cat ran into the room and jumped on the chair. “There is pizza in the kitchen if you want any.” my mom said while looking at me. “Ok” I said while standing up and stretching. As I went to take a step I felt a tug on my foot. I fell with a thud and I felt something break under me. I slowly got up and put the broken coat hanger in the trash. My large strides got me to the kitchen quickly. I grabbed a paper plate and put two pieces of pizza on my plate. I immediately went back to my room and started eating. After I ate I started on my homework. I only do it to pass school. The sooner I get it over with the better. After I did my homework I decided to go to bed. It was still really dark. I checked my phone. The bright light blinded me but my eyes adjusted quickly. It was 3:00 AM. I wasn't tired so I couldn’t go back to sleep. I laid there, staring at the ceiling. I laid there until it was time to get up. I looked back at the time. I walked over to the lamp. I turned the nob two times and closed my eyes when the light hit them. I slowly opened them and opened my closet door. I grabbed a pair of pants and a pink polo shirt. I got dressed. After I brushed my teeth I brushed my hair and put it in a ponytail. I slid my shoes on. “Oh you’re up already.” my dad said. I went to the kitchen. I grabbed the coffee then I grabbed a mug out of the cabinet. My kitchen was very small. As the coffee was brewing, I grabbed some sweetener and creamer. I saw my black cat run out of my room and jump on the table. I heard my cat start whining so I opened the pantry door. I filled up the cup with cat food and poured it into his bowl. My gray cat with black stripes jumped onto the chair and then the table. She was old so she couldn’t jump on the table like my other cat could. “Hey Tiger.” I said softly and started petting her. My other cat, Pretty, walked up to me. My coffee was done brewing so I walked back into the kitchen and wiped my hands free of cat fur. I added sweetener and creamer then I took a sip. I burnt my tongue. I set down my coffee and let it cool. I picked up my phone, I pressed the home button and the screen lit up. It was only 6:10 AM, I had plenty of time to drink my coffee and leave for school. I played a game for about five minutes then I started drinking my coffee again. Once I finished I put my mug in the sink and grabbed my book bag. “Are you guys ready to go?” my dad asked impatiently. I nodded my head, as did my brother. We walked out into the chilly air of early morning. My dad had parked his truck right in front of the steps on the sidewalk. He unlocked the doors and I opened my door. I grabbed the edge of the seat and pulled myself up into the seat. My brother had to close his door before me because he was sitting in the backseat. Once I closed my door and got buckled up, my dad started the truck. I played music so I wouldn’t have to listen to songs from the eighties’ like my dad did every morning. It only takes ten minutes to get from my house to the school. We waited in the car line for a few seconds then it was our turn to get out. I walked through the front of the building and saw a lot of posters and art. I walked to the gym with my headphones still in my ears. I sat on the bleachers, not wanting to talk to anybody.

106


“Seren, hey.” My friend Caitlyn said while yanking my headphone out. “What do you want?” I replied irritated. “It’s not that simple.” she replied while trying not to laugh. “I’m not in the mood for your movie quote of the day.” I said angrily, putting my headphone back in. “Fine.” she mumbled. I sighed. I didn’t want to make her upset but I was in a bad mood. The teacher started dismissing us to homeroom. I went to my locker and got out my binder. I put in the code and opened it. I jammed my bag in there and closed the door. I walked into the classroom and saw Meghan. I decided to ignore her. “Hey, Seren.” Meghan said once she walked up to me. “I don’t want to talk to you.” I stated. “Why?” she questioned. “You promised me that you wouldn’t smoke or do drugs, but you did.” I said. “I’m fine, I’m not going to die.” she said. “You could and I don’t my friend to die because she is doing something stupid.” I said. “Then I guess we aren’t friends anymore.” She said walking over to her other friends. “I guess not” I mumbled. I sat at a desk and laid my head down. We don’t talk at all. I sit there thinking about this whole situation. I wished this was a dream but it wasn’t. This is real life. This is happening and I can’t change that. This is how it is. Colleen Thurman, Grade 7 Hixson Middle School, Lori Thacker

107


Queen of the Anglyx

Rhea closed her eyes and listened. Her eyes were of no use here. The thudding footsteps paused in the corridor outside of her cell. Rhea shrank against the wall, terror pulsing through her veins. When she heard the opposite cell door open, she allowed her lungs to deflate from the breath she didn't know she held. She knew for a fact that the cell across from hers was vacant, which meant it was only a new arrival. They weren't going to take her yet. Rhea's relief was short lived, however. An icy presence filled the cell block. "Soon." The Queen's voice was soft as a whisper. It sent needles of cold fear down Rhea's back. She felt a numbness creep across her limbs. Starting in her fingers and toes, it spread up her body to her head, causing her breath to come in quick panicked gasps. "I trust they are being well cared for." "Yes majesty." "Good. Preparations are nearly done. The Anglyx are ready." Rhea shivered. The day she found herself in this castle, she had been introduced to the Anglyx. She was never told exactly what they were, but as soon as she was brought into their presence, a cold dread settled itself in the pit of her stomach, deeper than anything the Queen could bestow on any creature. Everything before that moment was blank, as if she hadn't even existed. Rhea shuddered and thrust the thought out of her mind. She heard a rustle signaling that the Queen was about to leave. Her footsteps echoed through the dungeon. The door creaked open, but the footsteps didn't continue. "Oh, and Flintece?" "Yes Majesty?" "I trust I will see you there..." "Of course, Majesty. I wouldn't miss this for the world." "Tomorrow, then. Take care that they are ready." Rhea listened closely as the Queen whisked out of the dungeon, her footsteps receding into the distance until the only noise was Flintece shutting the cell door across the hall with a bang. Whoever had just been shoved into that cell didn't make a sound. Whoever it is, Rhea thought, they're probably in shock. Rhea dreaded what was coming. Even the thought of the Anglyx turned her blood cold. There had been so many hints dropped during the preceding days that Rhea doubted it was supposed to be secret, though every mention of it had seemed secretive. After the conversation between the Queen and Flintece, she was surer than ever that she was supposed to be terrified. She was furious to find it was working. If the Anglyx were involved, it couldn't be good. What was more, the Queen had sounded genuinely gleeful about it. Gleeful. The Queen never smiled nor showed any emotion at all. If she was happy, then what was coming would be truly terrible. Rhea didn't have any doubt that she would die. That night, or what she supposed was night, Rhea lay awake, unable to shake off thoughts of the day to come. It was their plan all along, she thought miserably. She was about to fall into a fitful sleep when she heard Flintece muttering on the other side of her cell door. "I wouldn't miss this for the world," he muttered, but he didn't sound as if he could convince himself. He sighed to himself. "I can't even be honest with myself. It's no use trying to convince myself of what I know is not true. I only said it to get her off my back, convince her of my loyalty. She probably doesn't believe it either. In any case, it doesn't matter; she doesn't

108


need my undying loyalty. We both know what will happen if I betray her." He paused for a moment, perhaps thinking of what unpleasant thing could happen to him. Finally, he said, "I don't fancy that." This revelation did not ease Rhea's nerves. She had known straight off that Flintece was not as loyal to the Queen as he seemed, but maybe there was more to it than she had originally thought. Blackmail? Rhea wasn't entirely sure where the word came from. She had never heard it spoken and she didn't know exactly what it meant. It was one of the few clues she had that she might have had a life outside of the castle, away from the Queen. It was on that note that she fell asleep, perhaps comforted by the idea of something outside of fear. Emma Tuttle, Grade 7 Normal Park Museum Magnet School, Mrs. Sarah Andrews

109


Negligent Work A heavy snow fell earlier that afternoon. It sat there taunting any citizen that dared to venture out. Livin’ in a small town, not many people were ever out, just takin’ a stroll, but tonight not a single person wandered the streets of Whitwell. It was three days after my twenty first birthday, and goin’ back into the mine for overtime wasn't necessarily anyone's ideal gift, but I’m not one to complain, it put food on the table and the job wasn't gonna do itself, As I said before, a thick layer of snow was on the ground, which meant hauling the bulky equipment back into the small, cramped mouth of the mine that men would crawl into day after day. Me and some other guys were the ones in charge of pulling the trolley motors back in, so of course I was mulling mine in first. Enterin’ the mine wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, in fact it was the usual for every man in Whitwell, bit it could be a bit difficult if you had a bigger build like me. Eventually you'd get used to slouchin’ down in the dark damp tunnel that smelled dusty and dirty. Mining all these years could give you a life full of back problems and bad hearin’, but also give you some memories too. Sure it wasn’t always safe but we had guys tryin’ to make it as safe as it could be. If somethin’ bad happened, it wasn't always on them, either. But this time, you see, it was. I got my equipment in just fine, no issues along the way, but the second guy was strugglin’. “Come on! Hurry up!” I shouted at him. I watched as the younger man tried again to get his motor into the small space, and he did, but then he couldn’t get it to stop. The catch? I was right in its path. I watched it come at me in horror and shock as I realized what was about to happen. I heard my name shouted at me, but it sounded like a distant scream. For that matter, everythin’ sounded distant. Every inch of me told me to dive out of the way of the moving trolley motor, but I hesitated. That one split second of hesitation could’ve cost me my life. My mind shot back to the present and I made the last second decision to lunge for safety. As I landed I tasted something thick and metallic in my mouth, Blood. I thought I was alright, perfectly safe, but I was wrong. I was too caught up in the moment to realize that I want okay, and I had not escaped uninjured. I felt an excruciating pain shoot through my right leg and pulse through the rest of my body. I shut my eyes tight and clenched my jaw in attempt to not cry out in pain. I took in a shaky breath. I realized that I needed to call for help. I slowly pried open my eyes. “Hey kid!” I shouted as loudly as I could, “A little help here?” “I’ll be right there!” the 18-year-old replied. I watched him as he quickly made his way over to me. “J-Jim?” he stuttered. “Yeah?” I asked, but it came out sounding like a painful moan. I hadn’t bothered to look down at me right leg, I didn’t want to, but seeing his expression surprised me. It couldn’t be that bad, could it? I slowly directed my gaze toward my injury. I really had majorly underestimated the damage. My eyes slid down across my crushed leg and torn flesh and slightly visible bone. “I’m calling 911,” the boy stated abruptly, already sprinting off to the phone. It wasn’t far. “Hurry,” I muttered mostly to myself. Thoughts rushed through my head as I attempted to patiently wait for his return.

110


By the time the ambulance arrived I had lost track of time. Had it been hours? Or only a few minutes? I couldn’t tell, The trip to the hospital was a blur. I could hear people trying to talk to me, but I paid them no mind. I simply couldn’t. I didn't have enough energy. I remember passing out eventually, and waking up to the smell of chemicals and cleaners. Many nurses were crowded around my bed. I blinked the sleepiness out of my eyes and watched as the doctor strode into the room along with yet another nurse. He was a tall, clean shaven, slender man with close to no hair from balding, and a crooked nose. He was grasping a clipboard and had a blank expression on his face. ‘Was he going to give me bad news? Stop worrying so much, everything will be fine,’ I had my doubts, ‘It’s not like you’ll end up dead’ I scolded myself internally for thinking of such possible conclusions. I pushed the dark thoughts to the back of my mind because everything was getting overwhelming already and the doctor hadn’t even opened his mouth. “Mr. Jim French, I’ve come bearing news,” the doctor plainly stated. My eyes widened. ‘How bad was it really?’ I couldn’t tell, because a thin blanket was covering most of my body, not keeping me warm in the slightest. By now the pain had gone, but I still knew something was up. The doctor’s voice interrupted my thoughts, “but I’m afraid your leg will have to be amputated.” “Wait, what? There was a long pause. I couldn’t believe what I heard. ‘Could I afford this? Would I be able to continue mining?’ My mind raced a mile a minute. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t love mining, I made lots of enemies and few friends, but it payed the bills and fed me. So I needed to keep at it, but would I be able to? “Isn’t there another way? Something else you could do?” I questioned, becoming desperate. “I’m sorry sir, but there isn’t. The procedure will take place tomorrow as soon as possible. Please be prepared.” He plainly stated and walked out of the room with all of the nurses following behind him like ducklings. So here I was, left alone with my thoughts. None of my questions were answered, I didn’t even get the chance to ask all but one, he just left. The thought of my leg being gone tomorrow haunted me, but I tried to clear my head. I knew I needed to rest, so I pushed any thoughts out of my head, and drifted off into a dreamless sleep. Before I did, I noticed that it was snowing again. Sophia Vanderwaal, Grade 7 Normal Park Museum Magnet, Mrs. Sarah Andrews

111


Great Lake Middle

I felt a warm, soft thing rubbing on my cheek. I sat up in bed and saw my cat, Bud, rubbing on me. Bud is an overweight orange tabby. I smelled sweet orange juice and toast from downstairs. I looked around and looked at the clock. 6:45. I still had fifteen minutes until I had to get on the bus. I got up and changed, then started walking downstairs. I heard Mom and Jake talking downstairs, as they always get up before me. I grabbed a chocolate protein shake and sat on the couch, and I discovered that Bud had followed me downstairs as he sat next to me. “‘Morning sleepyhead!” Jake yelled to me from the kitchen table. He always sets his alarm for 6:00 AM. I passed the next ten minutes watching YouTube on my phone. “HONK HONK!” Is what I heard when the bus arrived. Jake and I got on and sat in the very back seat. We sit there every day. “The same old, bus, the same, musty smell, and the same, noisy people.” I thought. The bus ride only took five minutes, because we live the close to the school. “The last week of seventh grade,” I thought “the time really flew by fast. As soon as I was done thinking that, the bus got to school. “The same old, Great Lake Middle.” The school had been there for at least thirty years. It was very old and had peeling paint everywhere and all the signs were faded. We entered the building and went to homeroom. The day was normal, Up until fourth period. We had to do a presentation. My least favorite thing. I had forgotten to do it. I didn’t know what to do. So, I did the only thing I knew how to do. Five minutes later, Jake and I were in the nurse's office. “I totally forgot about it!” I said to myself. “How could I forget something as important as this?!” My mind was racing trying to think of a way to get it done by tomorrow. “Who’s sick this time?” Our mom said as she entered the room. She already knew the answer, as Jake has never got sick. The car ride home was as short as the bus ride, but this time I was thinking. I looked in the depths of my binder, that was full of old papers from past semesters. I finally found what I was looking for after what seemed to be hours of searching I found it. The rubric. Ok, it wasn’t that exciting, but It was like being reunited with a friend you haven't seen in several years. I pulled it out of my binder right when we were pulling into the garage. I went up into my room and started working. A It started out really boring, but I got everything that I needed and started to work. I thought that it found be extremely tedious and boring, but, something happened that has never happened to me before. A school project was actually fun. I decided to do it on the one thing that would not be boring to me. I did it on the history of basketball. I know, not very exciting, but it was the only thing I could think of. Almost four hours later, I found myself finished with almost all of the project. I finished the poster board and then started the PowerPoint. My specialty. I’m known for being good with computers. Anyway, I started the PowerPoint, and I was done with it in a mere twenty minutes. Just then, Jake ran into my room. I guess he was expecting me to be playing some computer game, but as he caught sight of the finished poster propped up on the wall, he knew otherwise. “What?!” he exclaimed. “Did you actually do it?” “Yep.” I said. I showed him my finished PowerPoint as well. “Did you copy this off the internet?” he asked suspiciously.

112


“Nope. I paraphrased and researched.” I said. It felt really good to get such a big weight off your shoulders. “I should do this more often,” I said. That night, I slept really well, knowing that I had nothing else to do. The next morning, I woke up early, made Mom and Jake cereal, as well as a bowl for myself. They were really surprised. When I showed the teacher my project at school, she was blown away. She said that it was really good, so good in fact, that she cleaned her glasses to make sure that she wasn’t going crazy. I had actually finished something for once. It felt great. Later that day, she showed it to the basketball coach, and he was impressed. He told me that he expects me to do the same thing in eighth grade, and told me to try out then. I’m in eighth grade now, and I have really stepped up my game, Literally and figuratively. Over the summer, I practiced basketball, and read a lot. I asked Jake for some books and he gladly gave me some. I read almost twenty of them. On the first day of eighth grade I tried out for the basketball team. The coach was really surprised on how well I did. There were almost a hundred other boys that tried out, and only ten of them made it. One of them was me. I also tried extra hard academically this year too. Jake and I both made it on the star roll for the first and second quarter, and we are hopefully going to make it for the other two as well. We are both in all the same classes. People can barely tell us apart now. We got another one of those projects this year, and I did it within the first week of getting it. Will Walker, Grade 7 Hixson Middle School, Lori Thacker

113


[ 8th Grade Poetry ]

114


You Are You You are a displaced person And you refuse to believe that You are a unique person You realize this may be a shock, but You are very creative Is a lie You are a bad person In 30 years, you will tell my children that You have my priorities straight because Money, Is more important than Family You tell yourself this: Once upon a time You are cheerful But this will not be true for you You are resentful You do not conclude You are resourceful In the future, You are unintelligent No longer can it be said that You are a positive person It will be evident that You are not yourself It is foolish to presume that You are you And all of this will come true unless I reverse it. Alana Allgood, Grade 8 Hixson Middle School, Stephanie D. Brewer

115


Decide for Yourself Mirror mirror, on the wall, am I too skinny? Or am I too tall? How big is my waist? How small is my chest? Well mirror let's put that to the test. You tell the truth don't you? I can't decide! I am who you call me, the rest is aside. You're my reflection, nothing I can do! Who am I today? WELL that's all up to you!! You make decisions, I just except them. That's your job, because you are, MY reflection. Megan Black, Grade 8 Hilger Higher Learning, Shelley George

116


Finding the Power I'm walking through the pouring rain. It's a stormy day but I love the rain. I'm supposed to be running, When I get back home I'll probably tell my parents that I ran For that whole 6 miles. I want to run, But I can't find the drive within me. I'm looking for the ambition To conquer those hilly roads. Remove the thoughts of defeat lingering in my mind. I think about the distance from here to my home, Probably a mile or two more. Should I quit and let the rain defeat me? No I can't. I have to make it, I will make it. Run the race all the way home. Sam Bruner, Grade 8 Chattanooga School for the Liberal Arts, Mrs. Jane Varnell

117


Space Space is wide and hollow Like a vase Space is wild and fast Like a chase Always trying to win this race Space is cold like A troubled soul Space is strong Like a military place Space will always Be a higher place Space is mysterious Like an overnight case Space is space And will always be In place Micah Burriss, Grade 8 Chattanooga School for the Liberal Arts, Mrs. Jane Varnell

118


Joan of Arc She knew nothing of battle tactics or rules of war, But proved that France’s skills in battle were not poor. By her faith in herself and her absolute conviction, She drew all of the enemies’ complete attention. Although she was obviously a miracle sent by God, Many others thought of her as a witch, heretic, or fraud. In several attempts to bring her down by finding fault, They realized for certain she was extremely hard to halt. While young, unlettered, alone, and often abused, She kept her chin up in the midst of being accused. Whilst being strong-willed and inspiring, She led France to victory, although it was tiring. She was entirely human—and never was humanity greater. For she was very intelligent, and a fierce raider. Sadly, she was burned at the stake, And for her loss, many did ache. Sharayah Daves, Grade 8 Hilger Higher Learning, Shelley George

119


Fire and Smoke Smoke rips through the clear sky shedding terror on the faces of the city. It swirls in the air like a confused fish. It turns our clear sky gray with despair. Fire joins his smoky brother laughing as he makes his way down the city streets. He burns everything in his path, watching the faces turn white with fear. But his brother Smoke shakes his head as he follows his brothers flaming trail of destruction. Fire’s destruction does not seem to last very long, because his flame has reached a place where it cannot cross…. The faces play with his arch nemesis... Water. They laugh and play making Fire grow angry. But Water smiles sweetly at the faces even with Fire staring at her with a sharp and hateful expression. Fire growls as he turns to destroy other places, but his brother Smoke decides to stay and watch at Water’s edge…. He gives her a small smoky smile, and she sends him a warm clear smile back. She beckons him into her clear, cool blue water with warmth. He gives her a look and she understands him. She sighs but kept her smile. He is confused… How can he be with her? Will he do it? Will he find happiness or despair? We will never know………… The cool breeze blows through the trees and sends small leaves and cherry blossoms into the Water. Sabrina Donelson, Grade 8 Hixson Middle School, Stephanie D. Brewer

120


Give Them Away I'd rather make beautiful things than be a beautiful thing- to share them To hold them- To give them to you and maybe, then, if I wait I will become them. I'm cherished. People don't see me as I am and then they say something wrong And I reply with strength -and I finally see who I have become. I make beautiful things. And I give them away. And if I hold my breath If I wait I will become them. I never asked to have to be beautiful for your gaze. We are the women who are distinctly not beautiful- but our words Our art Our voice Our minds Seep through into our skin- And we are not beautiful. We are art. We make beautiful things. And we give them away- and the world Becomes them. Ava Echard, Grade 8 Normal Park Museum Magnet, Katherine Blake

121


Help Me You're beautiful Everyone says Should I believe them? I hide all the pain And sorrow You can't see half The things I've Been through Nobody sees all the Suffering deep down No one sees the scars On my arms Does anyone care? You're beautiful Smile, they say I fake a smile For a day The pain does not go away Deep down I'm not Happy It's not all sunshine And rainbows The truth is I'm dying inside‌ And nobody cares Ariaunna Few, Grade 8 Chattanooga School for the Liberal Arts, Mrs. Jane Varnell

122


December 5,2016 I'm being swallowed alive Am I the only one who’s sinking? It's like weights are pulling me down I don't know how to get up My body is immobile But everyone is moving with ease. Why can everyone float but me? Why is everyone getting by? Why am I being left behind? All these questions are just a distraction from the real one. Why am I me is what I want to ask. Why am I sad is what I want to know. Why am I so captivated by the question why? India Harris, Grade 8 Hixson Middle School, Stephanie D. Brewer

123


Not Invisible Crowded hallways of the loneliest places For outcasts and rebels Or anyone who just dares to be different You’ve been trying for so long to find out where your place is In their narrow minds there’s no room for anyone who dares to do something different Trust the one who’s been where you are Those words cut deep but they don’t mean you’re all alone You’re not invisible There’s so much more to life than what you’re feeling now Someday you’ll look back on all these days And all this pain is gonna be invisible Your confidence is quiet To them quiet looks like weakness You don’t have to fight it You’re strong enough to win without a war Every heart has a rhythm Let yours beat out so loudly That everyone can hear it I promise you don’t need to hide it anymore Never be afraid of doing something different Or dare to be something more These labels that they give you Just cause they don’t understand If you look past this moment You’ll see you’ve got friend Waving a flag for who you are And all you’re gonna do Here’s to you Here’s to anyone who’s ever felt invisible You’re not invisible Anslee Lamberth, Grade 8 Hixson Middle School, Stephanie D. Brewer

124


Love is Blind I spent years with you. I spent days laughing and crying. I spent my life thinking of you. I spent days in a dirty public school with kids who bullied you and teachers who couldn't handle you. I spent years standing in the hall with you coloring on a scrap of paper on the ground. I spent precious minutes and precious hours holding your hand. I couldn't stop everyone from hurting you, but you spent your life proving everything that they said wrong. For every person who thought you were annoying, I thought you were amazing. Evelyn Ludwick, Grade 8 Baylor School, Carlene West

For every person who thought you couldn't do anything, I thought you were the strongest person in the world. For every person who thought your illness made you ugly or crazy, I thought you were beautiful and kind. Love can't see differences in human beings. It can't see race or gender, and my love never saw your sickness. It never used it against you, and it never will. I love you. I love you so much, forever & always. No matter what.

125


Friends by Choice She walks, she talks, she stands, and sits All with a smile it never quits When I fall she’s got my back My sister, my comrade, my ally in combat We never chose to be sisters we chose to be friends That will stay true from beginning to end Forever, for always, for never we’re not Forget all the fights that we ever fought And remember this saying which we will rejoice Sisters by chance Friends by choice

Sarah Moore, Grade 8 Normal Park Museum Magnet, Katherine Blake

126


Fall in Ringgold The glaring sun rose high above the exquisite mountains. The warmth of the sun seemed to heat up the whole city of Ringgold, Georgia. I looked outside and was greeted by the glorious view of my small town. Although it was fall time, the air was still hot. Leaves of many colors fell to the ground as if they were skydiving. They swirled through the air going all different directions. Orange, red, and brown groups of color would go left and then sway right. The trees were starting to become bare. The air was full of a thick smoke from the lack of rain. It was very hot and dry. Ringgold was in desperate need of a shower. The flowers were starting to disappear. Their petals fell one by one to the ground harshly. Now, the grass was all that was left. Just green strands; nothing beautiful or eye catching. The sun now set; creating a glorious sky. It was full of pink and blue. It was comforting to see such a wonderful sight in such a small, plain city. Ringgold, Georgia...you have done it again. You have showcased a beautiful season. Although you are flawed, you have been lovely.

Pearson Smith, Grade 8 Heritage Middle School, Billie Carlock

127


The Darkness In the day it’s gone in the night it returns. No one can escape it, it’s everywhere. Like a flame it spreads as long as there is no light. Scott Steele, Grade 8 Hixson Middle School, Stephanie D. Brewer

128


Reverse Poem (Depression) I am a disappointment And I refuse to believe that I deserve to live I realize this may be a shock, but I deserve this It’s a lie that I’m worth it In 30 years, I will tell my children that I have my priorities straight because Suicide Is more important than Self-happiness I tell you this: Once upon a time I was happy But this will not be true in my era Sadness has overcome me Experts tell me That I won’t get better I do not conclude that I will be happy In the future, I will be evident that I was never happy I’m stronger than my depression It is foolish to presume that Katie Sullivan, Grade 8 Hixson Middle School, Stephanie D. Brewer

129


Paper World Paper clothes, Paper friends, Paper smiles. Paper heartbeats, Paper me. Paper thin. Yet, still, thick as a tree trunk, Paper trees. Stubborn as a wall. Paper walls. Fragile as a flower. A Paper flower One that doesn’t grow, Doesn't change, Doesn't wither and die away. But fragile all the same. Analeasa Wiggins, Grade 8 Chattanooga Christian School, Mrs. Christy Piersant

130


[ 8th Grade Prose ]

131


Judgment and the Inevitable Impact It Makes Judgement is something everyone partakes in every day. You might not notice it but that little voice in your head critiquing someone's outfit; that is an example of judgement. We can’t keep every small judgmental thought from popping into our head. However, there are some types of judgment we can and should put to an end. Judging someone on their race, appearance, stature, sexual orientation, weight, religion, and other insignificant characteristics is the type of judgment that needs to be stopped. Judgment of someone's race and color by police is a prime example of judgement we seen every day. News headlines over the year have been capitalized by the rising of police brutality against people of color. Stories of people being yanked from their cars, harshly beaten, verbally abused, and sometimes even killed are not uncommon. Racism and racial profiling was the source of some extensive measures. According to “Huffington Post” in a 2015 study 6 out of 10 African American men state they have been unfairly and harshly treated by police. In 20092013 a study of the races of people shot by the Chicago police were; 0% Asian, 13% Latino, 8% Caucasian, and 79% Black. The undeniable issue arising of people of many races facing police brutality is a perfect example of judgment. Not one person of a race is like the rest and by judging people on the color of their skin we are facing very hash and devastating results. The religion of an individual is a right we have had the freedom to for a long time, but is still a reason people are judged in today’s society. Our very first amendment states, “Congress shall make no law about an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise…” It is an understanding that has been since the beginning of our government that people have the freedom of religion. So why is it today people are discriminated and criticized because of their choice. It is estimated there are 4,200 different religions with a variety of other groups within each one. In countries around the word people are beaten or even killed for their choice in religion. There has been religious discrimination as far back as the 1930’s. The holocaust is a perfect example of religious judgment, as differences in religions was one of the leading causes. 5-6 million Jews died through the duration of the holocaust. The question is as simple as, if the past and present of religious discrimination has been extremely harmful, then why is it still an issue today? Another example of judgment is a very real and serious issue; bullying. In schools, work places, and on the Internet people are judged on weight, height, sexual preference, appearance, color, and so many other things. Many teens and young adults are experiencing physical and emotional harassment, and as a member of today’s society it is something I see and have experienced firsthand. Depression, anxiety, self-harm, eating disorders, and suicide are just some of the scary words that are results of judgment in this form. According to the Suicide Awareness Voices for Education in 2016 suicide has become one of the most leading causes of death in youth. And ABC News statistics say more than 160,000 kids stay home every day because of the fear of bullying. Another example of a judgment driven tragedy is the Pulse club shooting in Orlando, 49 people died. These are all examples of how judgment on minuscule characteristics goes too far. An argument people make about judgment in all forms is that; the world will never be perfect, and you should grow thicker skin to prepare yourself for the inevitable. Having someone say hurtful things or give you a push teaches you to stand up for yourself. As it is true

132


that the world will never be perfect, teaching kids a lesson with harsh and plaguing words and actions is not the right way to go. Some also may argue that people being judged has no connection between the real-world problems, which are more important. However, I believe that in turn judgment is the exact cause. Terrorist attacks occur because they disagree with religions and ways of life. Shootings or mass killings usually occur with a motive, because a person didn’t agree with something. Which proves that judgment is in fact a big deal and impacts society. Even if you feel very strongly about a topic or situation, there is a point where you must stop and put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Judgment is never going to be something that is eliminated completely and that is a reality the world will have to come to terms with. However, the type of judgment that causes lives to be lost, families and friends to grieve, such unhappiness and despair, is something we can make an effort to stop. By simply realizing that there are people and ideas that you will not agree with, but it is not your place to try to change it. Just by being more accepting and kind even if you are struggling to do so, we can start to make a change. No matter how you see a person it is imperative to remember that they in fact are still a person, and deserve treated as everyone else, with as much love and acceptance as everyone else. Lydia Bolen, Grade 8 Normal Park Museum Magnet, Katherine Blake

133


The Girl in the Pool Do you believe in mermaids? I know I did not, well I did not until this past summer. However, I am getting ahead of myself. It all started the summer of eighth grade. It was a really hot summer day in the south and I was an only child to farmers that worked all year to provide for our family. I had been begging to go to the community pool for days now and they always said no. I thought that today would be just like the past few days, but to my surprise my mother actually allowed me to ride my bike and swim for a few hours. So, I ran inside to get my bathing suit and sunscreen in a reasonable time. I hopped on my old, pink bike and peddled all the way to the community pool. When I got to the pool, I hopped off my bike, threw off my cover-up, sprayed the sunscreen on my body, jerked my goggles on, and did a cannonball into the pool. After I surfaced, I relaxed in the refreshing, cool pool water and noticed a girl around my age in the corner of the pool with a body float covering her legs. She had dry brown hair and tan dark skin with a sweet smile. I was bored and she looked lonely, so I doggy-paddled my way over to her. She looked around and swam the opposite direction never taking her eyes off me. I just thought that she was shy or maybe was intimidated by my cannonball, I never thought that she would be hiding a huge secret. I continued swimming and relaxing for the rest of the day. When it became closing time the only two people still in the pool were me and the mysterious girl who still floated in the corner body against the wall with the body float covering her legs and her hair as dry as ever. The manager came out and asked us to leave, so I hopped out of the pool to dry off. Once I pulled my body up, I looked over at the girl to see if she was doing the same, but she was gone. I turned my head for one minute and she disappeared. I was curious, but couldn't investigate at the time. On the bike ride home, I pondered where she went and what she was hiding. When I started thinking about all the weird things she did it hit me, her legs! Right then, my bike hit a rock and flipped over and I landed in a mud puddle under a tree. It was very painful, but at least I had a reason for being five minutes past curfew. The next day I asked my parents if I could go back to the pool and they agreed to let me go. I got all the same items as I had gotten yesterday, but this time I took a disposable camera. When I reached the pool, she was there in the same corner. I curiously did a quick search of her and her expressions. She looked very sad and nervous. I took a quick photo and laid my bag and towel on a chair in the same section as she was floating. I put my legs in right beside her and calmly said hey. She did not respond, so I asked her what her name was. Still no response, so I explained that my name was Eveleigh Grace Rose and that I was 13. She looked at me and asked if I could keep a secret. I replied with a nod while I drew my fingers to my lips and acted as if I locked my lips closed. She told me to wait until we were the last two people in the pool. The hours seemed to go by like days and then the pool was finally occupied by two people, me and her. She fingered me over to her section and started to talk in a quiet voice. At first I did not believe anything she said, but then she pushed the float away from her body revealing a beautiful blue and green tail. I did not know how to respond, so I did not. We sat in silence for what seemed like forever. She finally answered by saying that her name was Raelyn Amber Flounder, a mermaid. I continued to visit her every day of the summer, and we became best friends. We took pictures together and even did each other’s hair. However, all good things must come to an

134


end. It soon became the first day of school and I became occupied with sports and school to visit her. I never saw her after that, and whenever I have time to visit the pool she is never there. I had never mentioned her secret to anybody most likely because they would not believe me. It has been seven months since I saw her and there has not been a day that past where I do not think about her and all the memories we made. She was my only friend, and I lost her. I plan on visiting the pool next summer. Maybe she will be there, but until then I will always have a story of my best friend, the mermaid. Emma Bradford, Grade 8 Heritage Middle School, Billie Carlock

135


Grandpa’s Little Secret When I was 9 years old my grandpa died. It was harder for me than it was for my sister because she was 15, so she was in the stage of staying in her bedroom talking to boys on her cell phone all the time. But I was still playing with my friends in the backyard, or in the garage with Grandpa, letting him teach me about his old station wagon. It was half painted like wood, and half navy blue. He would always tell me about his adventures as a child as he attempted to fix it. My great grandparents used to travel a lot so Grandpa got to see a lot of really cool places as a kid. Some even in other countries! He said his second favorite place was Hungary, because he liked the windows of the buildings. When I asked him where his favorite place was, he would always say it was at home. I never understood him until now. How could someone rather be sitting around at home than out exploring places like Hungary? It was only very recent that I began to understand. It wasn’t necessarily where home was, but the people that were in it. Grandpa would always mention that he had a little secret, but he would never tell me what it was. He said he would tell me when I was ready. And when I asked when that would be, he said it would be when I already knew it. What? How would I know when I knew it? Was Grandpa going crazy? Was I going crazy? Maybe… He wouldn’t even tell me what the secret had to do with. He just said it was the most important knowledge a person could ever know. So, my goal after he died was to wait. For me to sit at home and wait for this secret to strike me. It never did. Now I work in a scruffy law firm in Manhattan. It’s not a big deal though because I just get the important people coffee and wipe up messes. Every day when I get home from work I sit down for about 10 minutes and see if the secret will suddenly hit. And every once and awhile I go visit Grandpa’s grave. It isn’t technically a grave though, because he never got buried. We own the small site of course, but we are waiting for my Grandmother to get out of the hospital before burying him. She had a stroke right before he died, so we just never got around to it. This unfortunately left the vase his ashes are in to sit in my living room. His voice often replays itself over and over in my head. “You will know you know when you know it.” But how? Will there be one of those telepathic signs between us? Perhaps I’ll have a near death moment and it will suddenly show itself. Perhaps. Brennan Brownlee, Grade 8 Normal Park Museum Magnet, Katherine Blake

136


Goodbye Saying goodbye is hard, especially when it's to your best friend you are saying goodbye to. It is just so horrible when you realize you will never see them again. It just feels bad. There are no other words to describe it, except bad. I mean I could try, I could just say horrible, terrible, unforgettable, lost, but when you put all those horrible emotions together, it just comes to bad. Everything just comes back to her, the way I used to pet her and she would snuggle up with me in my bed. If you couldn't tell I am talking about my dog, my best friend. I know they say that diamonds are a girl's best friend but for me, it's my dog. When we got her I knew I was in love, forever. Even when she is gone, that still stays true, I am still in love with her, always and forever. I will always remember the times I got home from a horrible day of school and my dog just flipped my day around. Even if I felt like the whole world hated me, I always knew my dog had my back. If i was feeling down, I would just take her on a long walk and I swear she would smile the whole time. Seeing her happy just made my heart happy. This can make you see how hard it was when I had to see her in pain. One day my mom and I had just gotten home and she came running to us. Normally this makes me so happy, except this time, I could tell she wasn't happy. I could see the pain in her sweet little eyes. Seeing that broke my heart. When we got to the hospital, i couldn't stand to think of losing her, I mean just imagine losing your best friend, that's exactly how I felt. Again, it just felt bad, just bad. It was one of the worst moments of my life when I saw her sweet little eyes lose life. I was holding her hand when it happened and I just felt her body go numb. The worst feeling you could imagine. I just sat there for a minute not even knowing what to do. It just felt bad. Megan Cline, Grade 8 Hixson Middle School, Stephanie D. Brewer

137


The Template I leapt off the elevator, Ása right beside me. We leaned against the wall and caught our breath; we had been running from guards all day. I wanted nothing more than to go home and sleep, but I knew there was a very important reason we were doing all of this. The day before, I had jumped off a bus, the darkness of the starless sky engulfing the tall buildings of the city. I stepped into the shadows on the side of the road. To my right, there was a tall monument dedicated to the people who had died in the plague ten years ago. I looked away, knowing that somewhere, among the hundreds of thousands of names, the names of my family members were embedded into the cold, hard stone. To my left, there was something even more horrific. I peered through the barbed-wire fence, squinting in the darkness, and was just barely able to make out the figures of clones outside of a large complex. Some were sleeping on the ground, and some were eating scraps of food. It was late, so they were allowed to sleep and eat, but early in the morning, at around four, they would be carted off in buses and forced to do the work of the people who had died. After the plague wiped out huge amounts of the population, jobs were not filled and the remaining people started to die from things like a lack of food. The government had found a way to clone people, and they started using the clones to fill the jobs. Many people didn’t see the clones as human though, leading them to be treated like slaves. Although the clones quickly occupied all the jobs that were needed, the government didn’t halt the production of the clones. A noise coming from behind the fence startled me, and I turned to see what it was. A clone was clutching it, and staring directly into my eyes. The terrifying thing was that it was like looking in a mirror, because he looked exactly like me. I ran the rest of the way to my house. I have regretted my choice to be the template for the clones since the very day I decided to. The government had convinced me that it would save humanity and that it was a very brave thing to do. That night, I had realized something: I needed to stop it. I knew in order to do this, we needed to get to The Tyrant. It wouldn’t be easy, but my friend Ása and I had managed to do it. Ása looked at me, and we both stood up and navigated the winding halls until we were lead into a much longer one, with a huge door at the end. This had to be it. My heart beat faster with each step. It seemed like a thousand years had passed by the time my hand closed around the cold door handle. I pushed against it, and to my surprise, it swung open easily; it wasn’t locked. Inside, I expected there to be a person sitting at a long desk surrounded by guards, but there were just computers. Huge computers and supercomputers and monitors on every wall. Wires coiled and circled around the room. No one was inside. “Is this the right room?” asked Ása. “I think it is,” I replied. I walked over to one of the computers and started it up. It took a while, but a bright screen finally popped up. The screen read A.I.G.L.U.S.A. I knew that was the more official name for The Tyrant. Underneath the name, it said: Artificial Intelligence Government Leader of the United States of America.

138


“Ása, what does this mean?” She stopped, examining the room and let out a small gasp. “This is why the room was empty!” she said, talking to herself. “What does it mean?” I asked “Apollo, our government is being run by a computer!” I leaned back against the wall, watching Ása’s hands fly across the keyboard. She was hacking into the system from the computers and shutting down the clone-producing facilities. Hours passed as she worked and worked, not saying a word. “Ha!” she finally yelled, “I’ve done it!” A quiet buzz that I had never noticed seemed to stop, and then it was replaced by the much louder sound of a siren. Within minutes, guards swarmed the room, guns pointed at our heads. “Stop!” I yelled. “You’ve been tricked. How many of you have actually met the A.I.G.L.U.S.A?” The room was silent. Then someone yelled, “What’s this clone talking about?” “Yeah, how did he even get in here?” yelled another. I pulled down the part of my jumpsuit that was covering the bottom of my neck, revealing that there was no number like all the real clones had. “He’s the template!” someone yelled, and before they could speak, I continued. “The reason you have never met the A.I.G.L.U.S.A is because it’s not an actual person. Every decision the government had made since the plague has been made by a computer; Artificial Intelligence installed after our last leader died in the plague.” “How do you know this?” one of the guards asked. “There are files in this room that explain everything. We can all admit that we disagreed with the treatment of the clones. We did what we were told to keep our jobs. But now we have a choice. We don’t have to follow the decisions of a computer anymore. We can bring the world back to what it was before the plague. Five years later, I got onto a bus. As I sat down, a person that looked exactly the same as me turned and smiled a warm, happy grin. I smiled the same one back at him. Ada Cruikshank, Grade 8 Normal Park Museum Magnet, Katherine Blake

139


Tariq Tariq was from a small village in western Afghanistan. While he was still a boy the Taliban took over his village. Times were hard as the Taliban stripped Tariq’s village of all its resources to fuel their war machine. While most of the Taliban left to continue their fight, a small group of Taliban stayed to keep the villagers in check. It was near suicide to try and make the Taliban leave as they were ruthless, even cutting off a man’s head to intimidate the villagers. Tariq seeing this at such a young age was terrified. He also became angry and eventually he grew to hate them. As Tariq entered his teenage years he became more rebellious. This trait could be deadly if he became upset, especially if he mouthed off to one of the Taliban still in the village. Tariq’s parents warned him of the dangers they could be put in if didn’t watch his tongue. Tariq didn't care as he felt invincible and one day he got into an argument with a young man who, undenounced to him, was a Taliban soldier. Eventually the argument led to a fight when the man threatened Tariq’s family. Tariq won the fight but the young man wasn’t going to let Tariq beat him without consequence. The next morning Tariq woke to the grip of firm hands and screams from his parents. “Please don’t take our son” begged his father, “We will discipline him if you give him another chance, I beg you” pleaded his mother. The Taliban did not want to hear their cries for mercy. “Your son has assaulted a man who is part of our ranks, he must be punished for his crime” claimed the leader of the group. Still Tariq’s parents pleaded for their son’s life. Finally fed up with Tariq’s parents, the leader drew his pistol and shot them. Tariq fueled with rage broke free from the two Taliban who held him. He grabbed a handgun from one of the Taliban and shot all three of them. The leader of the group, wounded, begged for him life “Please! Have mercy!” Tariq looked at the man with a cold stare. “What mercy did you just show to my parents! What mercy did you show to the man whose head you chopped off! What mercy have you ever shown to our village!” With that sentence Tariq pulled the trigger. Tariq took a moment to look at the man he just shot. He was in his mid-thirties, brown hair, medium built. Tariq grabbed a rifle from one of his deceased guards. He knew there more Taliban he would have to kill before his village could be free once again. The remaining Taliban swarmed Tariq’s home, weapons at the ready. Tariq was no fool and knew that going out the front was suicide. So, he snuck out a door that was on the opposite side of the house. He positioned himself on their right side and opened fire. Clack clack clack clack his gun spit fire as the Taliban in utter confusion began to fall. Soon realizing what was happening the Taliban shot back. Tariq kept his cool know that if he were to be killed the Taliban would wreak havoc upon his village. When his rifle ran out of ammunition, he used the handgun he acquired from one of the Taliban. As he closed the distance more and more Taliban fell. Blinded by rage Tariq fired his weapon like a madman cutting down anyone who attacked him. When the dust that was kicked up from the fight had settled, only one man was left standing. It was Tariq, as the villagers emerged from their homes curious to figure out what just happened saw what Tariq had done. After a brief silence, the villagers rejoiced as they were now free from the Taliban’s oppression. Tariq would become a local hero and word of his accomplishment spread. Soon more and more villages refused to accept the Taliban’s rule and one by one villagers were taking back their lands and driving the Taliban out of western Afghanistan. Colin Griffin, Grade 8 Hixson Middle School, Mrs. Carrie Bishop

140


Bear

“Let’s move out!” exclaimed Bethany. Beth and I were going to climb Machapuchare in Nepal. National Geographic hired us to photograph the ancient ruins and temples at the summit. I stepped out of the warm cabin and into the snow. We were at the foot of the mountain and the wind was already biting cold. We began our journey to the top. As the hours passed by, my arms and legs grew weaker and weaker. My face turned to a light rosy red tint. Beth and I had climbed mountains before, but this one was the toughest. The mountain was 22,943 feet high! As night began to fall, we stumbled upon a cave and Beth decides we should camp for the night in the cave. We build a fire with a simple fire starter kit. The tinder stayed dry in our bags and it was only seconds before a blaze was set afire. The warmth enveloped around me and filled the dark barren cave. The cave wasn’t huge, so it was quite easy to heat the whole space. Beth and I set up our sleeping bags on either side of the fire and prepared to make some supper. I set up a tarp at the opening of the cave to trap heat and prevent any unwanted elements from the nature from coming in. As I was doing that, Beth prepared a simple soup. We finished our meal and crawled into our sleeping bags. I took a sigh and fell asleep. The flame died down to a small crackle throughout the night. The next morning, I awoke to a grunt. I opened my eyes to see a big black snout. I quietly whispered,” Beth. Beth. Beth.” The bear's eyes stayed fixed in mine. She woke up and stood up quickly once she saw the brown bear. Her quick movement startled the bear and took his attention off me. The bear slowly began to crawl towards Beth and at the last moment he stopped and began to rummage through our bags looking for food. Beth mouthed,” what do we do?” I shrugged and began a slow walk towards the bear. When I was in arm's reach, I gently stroked its back. The bear flinched then resumed to his rummaging. I continue to pet him as Beth started to pack up everything. The bear begins to playfully nudge me like a dog would. This allowed Beth to finish packing the bags he was rummaging through. When we were ready to leave, we slowly left the cave and the bear. As we trudge up the mountain I hear crunches of snow from behind us but I turn to see nothing. Finally, I turn to catch a glimpse of the bear from the cave. I pulled my container of fruit out from my backpack and dropped some black berries on the snow to attract him out. We continue to climb as the bear follows. I told Beth,” I want to name him Bosco” She shrugged and we continued. We reach the summit and the view was breathtaking. “This is amazing. Let’s take a break and get a sip of some hot chocolate,’’ I suggest. We sit against a rock on a piece of wood and just admire the view. The sunset was a mesmerizing assortment of colors from the height of the mountain. We decide to camp since night was falling. The stars were a vast pool of white lights in the sky. You couldn't see stars like these in the city with bright lamp posts. I grew tired quickly and fell asleep under the bright stars. The final day up the mountain took an unexpected turn. We reach the top and find the ancient ruins of ZenYatta, an ancient Buddhist. Beth and I split to take pictures of buildings. art, artifacts, and the scenery. Bosco follows me around as I explore. I was wrapping up my pictures when I hear a bloodcurdling scream. I hear loud roaring and I run towards the commotion. I see Beth being cornered by three large bears. Beth stabilizes herself against a rocky wall. We meet eyes and I see that she was trembling. I picked stones near me and began to throw them at the bears. The bears turned their attention to me and began to crawl towards me. The biggest

141


began a charge. I couldn't do anything in that moment. Bosco leapt in front of me and slams into the largest bear. I take off into a sprint towards Beth. I grab her arm and yell,” We need to get out of here!” Beth is still trembling and yells,” Lead the way!” We make a run for it into the ruins and down some halls. Our footsteps echoed down the halls and corridors. We see the way we entered and run towards the light. We were out of breath and panting like dogs. I called for a helicopter from the local mountain climbing security patrol to save us. Within 10 minutes, the chopper arrived and we were safely transported back to the foot of the mountain. We checked ourselves for any injuries but it seemed that we were both fine. I slept in our cabin for the rest of the day because I was exhausted. I lay there wondering how crazy my last few days have been and how Bosco is doing. Lei Hanna, Grade 8 East Hamilton Middle High, Robbin Faulk

142


Lost in the Capitol Getting lost usually doesn’t conclude with great outcomes. This time, though, it did. I had been rolling Skye all the way through the Capitol in her wheelchair, and so far everything was going smoothly. We had always found our way back to the group after using the elevator… except for one time. In fact, getting lost in the situation we did was so cliché that I never thought it would happen. There we were, looking at the star located on the ground where Washington was planned to be buried. As we began to leave, our guide-Danny-told Skye, Mrs. Huston and me to take the same elevator we had just left. We turned around to do so, except there was one little problem. “Um… Where is the elevator again?” I asked. Why was the Capitol so confusing? “I believe it was this way,” Mrs. Huston suggested, pointing her finger to the guessed location. I pushed Skye over to that area, but when we got there, there was no elevator. “I’m so confused,” Skye said in her signature confused voice. The three of us walked to many different sections of that floor, yet we still couldn’t find the elevator. That was when we decided to ask for help. We saw a man with gray, thin hair and a wide smile who appeared to work at the Capitol passing by. “Excuse me, sir,” Mrs. Huston began, “Do you know how we could get to the cafeteria?” “Why, of course!” the man said. “Follow me.” We squeezed ourselves into the very small ‘Staff Only’ elevator. Once we arrived to the correct floor, the man asked us, “Do you all have some spare time?” “Sure!” Mrs. Huston replied. The man began to lead us down a slightly narrow hallway until we reached a room with huge wooden doors side by side. The man opened the door to reveal a beautiful modern-style meeting room. “I am a part of the House of Representatives,” the man stated. “This is where we meet when we have important decisions to make.” I couldn’t stop gawking at the beauty of the room. It was so nice! “Oh how interesting! Does that mean you work with Paul Ryan?” Mrs. Huston asked. “Yes! We’re quite good friends, actually,” the man replied. He pointed toward the wall to our right. “You see that painting? That’s how this room looked when it was first built. As you can see, we’ve had a few renovations.” The painting looked nothing like the room now. We all chuckled a bit. I see, this man had jokes. “This is cool!” Skye exclaimed. “Quite interesting,” I added. “Well I’m sure you all must get going,” the man said. “Thank you for letting me show you around!” “No, thank you!” Mrs. Huston said with sincerity. “Thank you!” Skye and I said in unison. Wow, what an experience. The man pointed us towards the direction we needed to go as the three of us said quick ‘goodbyes’. I pushed Skye down the hall to where we were supposed to go. When we arrived, everyone seemed relieved to see us. Boy, did we have a story to tell them. Who knew getting lost could be so fun? Starr Hinton, Grade 8 Chattanooga School for the Liberal Arts, Mrs. Jane Varnell

143


A baby kitten was walking down the road to get to her favorite spot to play. The sky was the bluest of blues and the tree were in full bloom. Her small farm house could be seen in the distance. The kitten walked on into the forest. She wandered until she finally found it. It was the large tree that lay out over a lake in a clearing in the forest. The kitten loved this spot because it was filled with all kinds of strange bugs to chase and holes to explore. The kitten discovered it two weeks earlier when she was out exploring the forest. The kitten knew her mother did not want her to adventure off the farm, but she had already explored everything on the farm. As soon as the kitten arrived she started sniffing for new smells and fun things to play with. Soon the kitten came across a new large hole with a foul smell coming from it. “Well, hello little kitty,” came a strange scratchy voice from in the hole. The kitten jumped at the sound of the new voice. “Hi, I am a kitten fwom the fawm down the woad. I’m just looking awound because it’s weally, weally boring on the fawm.” the kitten rambled. “Now, is that right? You are a long way from your home little kitty. Why don’t you stay with me until the sun goes down then I’ll walk you home. Is that okay?’’ The strange voice said. “That would be gweat! Thank you, Mrs.… What is your name?” The kitten asked. A giant gray and black animal emerged from the hole. “I am raccoon.” The raccoon watched the kitten play all day until the sun started to set. “Little kitty, come now it’s time to go home. Follow me, I know a shortcut.” the raccoon said. “Okay! That sounds like fun. I could use this shortcut every day! I could...” the kitten started. “Ya, sure, whatever you say,” retorted the raccoon. The two of them walked on in silence, the kitten taking in every detail as they walked. They finally reached a cave and stopped. “If we go down this cave it will take us right to your farm,” said the raccoon. “Really!?!” Exclaimed the kitten. “Is it a magic cave?” “N… Yes, of course it is. If you go in it will magically teleport you to your home, but it will only work if you go to the back of the cave, close your eyes, count to ten and say teleport.” This seemed a bit fishy to the kitten. “Are you lying to me? Cause if you are then I won't be able to trust you. That means I can’t follow you into this cave.” “Of course I’m not lying. Why would I lie to a sweet kitten like you?” the raccoon replied. “Umm… okay, if you say so.” the kitten said as they walked into the cave. The two of them walked to the end of the cave and the raccoon stopped. “Go on, close your eyes and count to ten.” the raccoon said. “Okay, one… two… thwee…” The raccoon walked out of the cave alone licking his fingers. “Four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten…” Macie Huey, Grade 8 Hixson Middle School, Mrs. Carrie Bishop

144


“This Is the Story of EBONY”

I ran faster and faster quickly running out of breath. He did this, he is the one who will pay, he is the one who killed my mother, because he is Aiden the one who ruined everything. We had known each other since the 2nd grade he was so kind but, he lost his whole family, well what was left of it last year. Aiden has been different since then. When he lost the only people he thought cared for him everything just changed. He hasn’t been the same since. “My name is Aiden.” He said to the girl trembling in fear from what just happened. She had gotten beat up by some bullies and was lying in the nurse's office with her savior. “Hi Aiden I’m,” a soft gulp could be heard “Ebony.” That’s my name that little girl was me 10 years ago. I continued to run down the hall, the stairs, and then into an empty classroom when I heard his footsteps getting louder then stop the door was flung open to show his shadow towering high above me slowly he walked in. He looked around the classroom until he spotted me. “So we meet again Ebony.” He says darkly. I ran again as fast as I could. The only thing that followed was the echo of his evil laugh. “I got your mom Ebony, now I’ll get you, and you’ll see what it’s like to not have anyone there for me.” I ran and ran but I could still hear his evil laugh. Piercing my ears, memorizing in my brain. I kept running, but I couldn’t escape the sound. How was I going to escape him? Where will I go now? I finally reached the police but Aiden was already there I had the video footage of him killing my mom chasing me around and I wasn’t going to let him get away with this. I had to avenge my mother. I have to get this evidence to the police but how I thought to myself. Carefully examining the building looking for a way to get in unacknowledged by Aiden. I carefully scoped the building and spotted an open window about 3 stories up. “Okay you got this Ebony,” I thought to myself. “There should be away up there.” I thought. “What if I called the cops and told them? No that wouldn’t work Aiden is already here, they probably wouldn’t believe me anyway. “How will I get the evidence inside?” I repeated over and over in my head I made a face at the thought of me and him being friends. A sour taste formed in my mouth I looked over at the door he was gone! I felt a cold breath creep its way down my neck he was behind me how did he find me how? I continued running looking for someone anyone. “HELP!” I shouted but no one answered. “You will end with a horrid fate Ebony,” he shouted towards me as I ran from him screaming out the words. “Someone HELP me please!” I reached a dark alley. “Nobody can help you now Ebony,” as he creeped towards me. “Oh Ebony you should have known better now it’s your turn to die,” he said. “A slow and painful death for all you’ve caused me,” creeping towards me very slowly. All I could do was cautiously look around for a way to escape. “Stay away from me you psychopath,” I screamed at him. All I got in response was a dark and evil chuckle. A car could be heard as lights faded away behind him Aiden looked at the man in his early 20’s or 30’s walk up to the door behind me. “...” all that was heard was silence the man was crazy walking into this kind of ‘fight’ that we had. “Wait he could help me,” I thought to myself. Slowly I walked towards the man. “Excuse me,” I softly said startling the man he stumbled backwards dropping his keys and pulling out a pocket knife. “Can you help me with something?” I whispered to him. “Yes, I can. What do you need?” He questioned. “You see that large man with the knife in his hand and the blood on him,” I asked him. “No lady you're crazy there is no man standing there. See?” He shined a bright light over there. “WHAT??? He was just there!” I shouted. “come on, I will take

145


you home it’s dangerous out at night,” he kindly offered. “O-ok I guess.” We arrived at “A MENTAL INSTITUTE” I shouted at. The man he forced me to go in and said to the receptionist “this woman is crazy” “NO I’M NOT!” I shout waking some patients. “The lady ran some tests.” It was a lady dressed in white and red. “You will stay here with us until you are better,” she said putting me to sleep. I woke up in a padded white cell and a strait jacket I started pacing around the cell… “you can’t escape me EBONY.” Makinley Lane, Grade 8 Hixson Middle School, Mrs. Carrie Bishop

146


Reality? “Yeah. 395 Martin Rd. Look. I know, but I promise I will get it setup, but you better make sure I get my money.” He then ended the call. “Who you talkin’ to?” asked Steve. “No one. Just a friend.” Then, it all happened like it would in a nightmare. Steve was shot and bleeding out on the sidewalk. Walter didn’t know what to do. Standing before him was his best friend lying on the ground for about a minute in absolute agony from the gunshot wound. Walter immediately contacted the police, and the ambulance arrived. The police asked what Walter had just witnessed. Walter answered “I saw a man in a van…” “What van?” asked the cop. “It was a white Chrysler.” “Okay, do you know of anyone who Steve may have had problems with?” Now that the police officer mentioned it, Walter did recall Steve conversing with him about the debts he had to pay to a very wealthy entrepreneur named Thomas Edwards who had gotten away in court with just about any crime that could ever be recorded. Thomas looked like a nice guy, but everyone who truly knew him knew that he was a murderer, liar, and overall, a deceiving person. Steve had told Walter that he owed about $473,000 to Thomas, and that he was going to be in trouble if he didn’t pay Thomas by Saturday Morning at 10:00 A.M. It was Sunday at about 12:30. He replied, “Yes, Thomas Edwards I recall.” “And who is this Thomas Edwards?” “He’s a successful, rich entrepreneur. Lives in Ridgeline Valley. He’s gotten a lot of his money from dirty deals.” “Okay, you go home and get some rest. We’ll make sure that your friend here gets medical attention and that we try to find Mr. Edwards, okay? “Okay.” “You have a good day sir.” “You, too, officer.” Steve eventually made it out of the hospital the next day with only minor injuries - mainly bruises and a few broken bones. But they both knew that Thomas was not going to give up until one of two things happens. He gets his money, or Steve dies, and both realized that nothing would be able to stop him until he got his way. They both also knew that Thomas was obviously a smart man. How else could he have gotten all his wealth – dumb luck? Because of this, they realized that Thomas was not going to sit at home and eat chips and drink some soda while this debacle unfolded. He would be either constantly on-the-go, or he would be hiding somewhere plotting his next attempt to murder Steve Withers. Steve was checked into a hotel about 5 miles away from the first incident, and both Steve and Walter knew it wouldn’t last very long before Thomas found him.

147


Steve started considering options for how they are either going to simply defend themselves from Thomas or how they are going to attack Thomas and his crew themselves. He discussed to Walter the next day about his ideas. Of course, Walter completely opposed the ideas. He added, “Are you kidding me? It’s bad enough that we have Thomas and his crew on our backs, but now you want to go out on a suicide mission with me to try and kill them? You and I will both get killed. No way.” Steve then said, “We can’t hide forever, and there is no way that I am going to get money from someone to pay him off. He is going to find us one way or another, and the best chance we have to live is to attack them when they are least expecting it and make sure that they never bother us again. Now are you, or are you not with me?” Walter realized that Steve had a point. If they didn’t do anything now, well, they didn’t even want to think about what would happen. Walter and Steve had a decision to make, and it was certainly not easy. Walter finally realized, “Okay, Steve, we… we… we’ll go after ’em.” That night Steve and Walter went to their local store and fortunately found some weapons for their potentially deadly assault on Thomas and his men. Walter contacted a friend he knew from way back who had some classified information and some options that most people wouldn’t consider legal. He finally got some information where Thomas and his men were, and they headed after them. When, they got to the hiding place, there wasn’t much to see. A few buildings here and there but nothing fancy. Before Walter finished critiquing the art and design of the building, he realized that his partner was gone. “He he he!” laughed Walter. His phone rang, and it was Thomas. He said, “We got him, Walter. You know where to find me. I got your money. 50k I believe.” “Yes sir. That’s correct. I will meet you there.” Walter realized that he just pulled off the best trick in his life. He had always been working for Thomas, and this was by far his biggest and best job. Walter was paid by Thomas to help him in eliminating Steve. He contacted Thomas before the first incident. Walter had received more information about Steve’s possessions, so Thomas could get more money by the time Steve was out of the hospital. He joined Thomas in the room that was hidden from what felt like the rest of the outside world. Steve was bound to a chair and bloody from Thomas’s actions. “He’s all yours,” said Walter. And in the blink of an eye, it was all over. The bullet that ended Steve’s life was the bullet that just started Walter’s. He knew that Thomas could trust him and that morals stood in the way of no decision Walter ever made. It was at this moment when Walter woke up. Robert Alan Lyle, Grade 8 Heritage Middle School, Billie Carlock

148


It was approaching near twelve o'clock, midnight. James was on his way home from his friend’s house, when he heard some rustling in some bushes nearby. “Who’s there?” James yelled out. The rustling momentarily stopped. That’s when James heard heavy, raspy, breathing. Again, James yelled out, “who’s there?” James waited for what felt like years. He looked over his right shoulder and he saw it. A huge ten-foot-tall grey figure with teeth like daggers, and eyes so red, you'd swear you could see death if you looked right at them. James tried to stay calm as the figure slowly walked towards him with its teeth showing. “W-what do you want f-from m-me?” James stuttered. This question only seemed to make the creature’s smile even bigger. Then the creature’s eyes grew. The creature was looking right through him, piercing his soul, making James’s throat burn, like molten lava was getting poured down it. James screamed, hoping that someone would hear him. But no one did. Now, James felt like his heart was boiling to the point to where he thought it was going to explode. James asked the creature, “why are you doing this to me?” The creature’s smile got even bigger and so did its eyes. Then James heard the creature in his mind saying “it’s time for a sacrifice.” James looked at the creature and it tilted its head at James and it’s smile continued to grow. The creature’s eyes got bigger yet again. James’s stomach was churning, roasting, burning, hurting, his entire body was screaming in pain. Then, without warning the creature lunged forward at James. Too weak to move James was forced to stand there. Complete darkness surrounded James as he passed out, slowly slipping away. He thought of his brother with whom he had never gotten along with. He remembered the last thing he said to his brother before he left for his friends’ house. “I hate you Phillip, I just wish you would get out of my life.” 17-year-old James was about to die, with nobody near him, and darkness surrounding him. James then thought of his mother, 47, with no husband because he died in a horrible car crash, a head-on collision with a semi-truck. “How is she going to react when she finds out that I’m dead?” James asked himself as the darkness was finishing him off. He then thought of his two-and-a-half-year-old sister who was still exploring the world. Then he remembered something his friend told him, “beware of the creature of darkness, for if it catches you, then your only way out is with a light brighter the moon.” James quickly reached in his pocket for his cell phone, but then remembered that he left it at his house to charge. James accepted his fate because he knew there was no way to escape the darkness. He said to himself, “I’m ready.” The darkness completely engulfed him sending him into a swirling downward spiral of fear, pain, loss, and regret. James then saw something, a light. He thought, “someone is trying to save me.” But James was wrong. The light was actually the light he had heard cartoon characters tell other cartoon characters not to go towards when he was younger. It took him about ten seconds to figure out that the light was just his life ending right before his eyes. He then thought to himself. “So this is how it ends, with me falling down an endless pit of misery.” James’s life was about to end and as it was ending he thought of all of things he had never done, all the plans he had made that would remain undone, and he cried. He cried about the fact that the people he loved would never see him again. But as he was crying he noticed that the darkness had gone away. “I’m dead.” James thought to himself, and the thought only made him regret his bad decisions even more. As James looked around in this seemingly unusual area, he noticed something walking towards him. It was the figure that had killed him. James asked the figure, “well you got what you wanted, I’m dead, because of you.” The figure smiled that horrible smile that James saw before

149


he was engulfed in darkness. The figure hissed through gritted teeth. “Death, death is what they asked of me and you made me fail at that, now it’s time for me to finish you off.” James asked the creature “who told you, who are you talking about?” The creature once again hissed. “Death, death is what they asked of me and you made me fail.” Then just as fast as the creature had gotten there, it was gone. James looked around as though looking for a clue as to where the creature went. Then the process that took James reversed. Light, darkness, burning churning stomach, then the burning throat, all before he was spit out of the pain only to wake up in a hospital room with “get well soon” surrounding him. James called out for his mom. But instead of his mom, a nurse walked into the room. “Oh my God,” the nurse said. James asked the nurse, “what?!” The nurse said, “oh sorry, you were in a coma for eight days. We marked you as dead.” the nurse called James’s mom, and she was over at the hospital in about fifteen minutes. She walked into the room and immediately she broke down into tears. “Mom, I’m okay,” James said. His mom ran over to his bed and gave him the biggest hug he had ever had. “Come on, James let’s go home,” she said. Pretty soon, they were back home, and James looked out of the window, and the first thing he saw was a tall grey figure looking at him with its teeth bared and its red eyes looking at him through a squint. James threw the curtains shut, and took a huge breath of relief. “I’m home,” he thought to himself. Josiah Morgan, Grade 8 Hixson Middle School, Mrs. Carrie Bishop

150


If Xander was ever scared, he didn’t show it. These, of course, were the words Baby wrote on his memorial page. It was required by the Apple Valley School of Fine Arts (AVFA) for the friends of dead students to write a few words (paragraphs) about them. They were also encouraged to make an art piece (Yeah, sure). Of course, they didn’t use the word dead. They called it passing on. Pushing up daisies. Bought the big one. Killed himself. The school definitely didn’t use that last one. Baby and her friends didn’t say it much, either. It was like ripping open a wound that hadn’t even healed yet. Every time she talked about it, Callie cried, which was not her intention. So, Baby kept her mouth shut. Xander shot himself. The most dramatic way possible. If she wasn’t so busy being emotionally scarred, she’d laugh at the absurdity of it all. (1) Best friend kills himself; (2) Another best friend is admitted to Apple Valley Psychiatric Hospital (AVP); (3) Another friend eggs her house. Now she was standing in front of her student body to deliver a speech. A speech about her dead friend. Nice. She stared at her classmates, considering her options. She could cuss out the whole school then run. That may result in expulsion, which was a small price to pay for freedom. She could just start crying. Then she’d be sent to AVP, which meant she would see Callie, which would be better than the whole school calling her “The dead kid’s friend”. Nobody at AVFA was very creative. How ironic, for an art school. Baby was a fan of irony in all forms. She’d riddled her life with it. She’d written the definition in all her notebooks, art pieces, half-written poems. She savored metaphors like the butterscotch candy her grandma used to give her. She bit her thumb. She listened to the chatter of the students in the seats. She tried to pick out Jackson’s voice. It had been nearly a week since he and his girlfriend Bonnie threw eggs at her window. She had to climb a ladder to clean the yolk off. (Dad wouldn’t help.) “Miss Dunham?” Baby started at Mrs. Garrison’s voice. Her English teacher smiled at her. She had a blotch of red lipstick on her teeth, which were already tinted yellow. Baby momentarily considered telling her, but decided against it. “Yeah. Just...nerves.” Baby cleared her throat. (Nerves = An immense hatred of her fellow students) “Oh, don’t worry. We’re here to comfort you, and remember your loss.” Baby’s lip twitched. That was the fakest concern she’d ever heard in all her 17 years. “May God be with you, Diana.” “It’s Baby, and I’m an atheist.” Mrs. Garrison gritted her teeth. “Yes. Of course, Baby.” Baby walks out onto the stage. The crowd grows quiet. “Xander Roberts was my best friend.” She said calmly. “And you all killed him.” Emily Morrison, Grade 8 Hixson Middle School, Mrs. Carrie Bishop

151


The Future’s Shatter Beep, beep, beep, 6:15AM. The time that everyone’s alarm clocks go off. That’s what happens here in Aliy Poderoso, one of the eight cities ruled by our government named Poderoso. We aren’t allowed to use dates or even talk about the past, and always follow every law that our government makes. 6:16AM. The morning announcement will happen in 3, 2, 1. “Rise and shine,” I hear a young man’s low comforting voice on the clock’s radio, “It’s a wonderful day outside, sunny with a few clouds happening elsewhere. Get up, do your job that you enjoy, and remember, look up to the future… NEVER to the past, enjoy!” The radio stopped. It’s time to start my day in P.T.T. Inc. I got up and put on my upper shirt and pants. People say that they used these in the 1700s, but I don’t know who he or it is (no one knows). So I continued starting my day, walking through my apartment, themed in a mandated 1980s style. He must be a creative fellow if they made a law out of his style. I grabbed my ID card, the name Neal Hafley and a picture of me was on it. My other information’s on a line that only scanners can read. I walked outside, seeing the beauty of this city with its cactus shaped skyscrapers and aircraft cruise liners slowly going over the city’s great wall. P.T.T. Inc. is the company that controls the Pneumatic Tube Transport, transporting copies of websites like news, info, story, and puzzles. I’m one of the guys that checks if new search sites are following the laws. If not, I blank it and have a “do not copy” tag on its carrier. I rode the suspended trolley and arrived at the building hoping no sites would be outlawed today. I walked in and registered the time that I arrived. “Lovely day, isn’t it?” the officer started. “Lovely day it is” I answered. “The government is concerned that yesterday five out of fifteen sites that you approved were not complying with the laws,” the officer pointed out. “Oh dear, what am I charged with?” I frightfully spoke. “Count your prayers lad, the coffee shop was out of order yesterday also, so people weren’t ready for the day. The government just wants you to redo those site’s reviews, but they will lower your pay for this day” the officer ordered me. “Hey, they can do anything they want with those laws changing every day.” I joked. “Yes they can” the officer responded. I left the waiting room and was off to my desk. I took the pneumatic elevator to floor ten. “So, what did I get wrong?” I whispered to myself. I opened my pneumatic computer. The computer beeped and a site holder zoomed through the tube and a paper slide out of the holder and onto the screen. I started to read “a fifty-two-day project, how did I miss that?” I smirked as I edited the words to “a very long project” with black ink in the computer. The paper was put back in and the holder zoomed off. Next was a site that people were using for cheats in school tests. “You were sneaky, but I caught you red handed” I thought. Then I blanked the site and tagged “DENY” on it so the site could not be opened. The next was a bit odd “as Big Ben crumbles, falling into the river, the great war was ending the world…” Something was clicking in my brain, but I don’t know what. “As soldiers and tanks roamed the fields, fire was falling from the sky, ending all who were below.” A

152


memory was being unlocked. “There’s too many”, I hear a general’s voice, “fall back! Fall Back!” “I won’t, I can’t” I shivered. I didn’t. I was caught by the enemy. “Erase! Erase this site!” I tried but a memory had me speechless. The enemy’s flag! I recognize that flag, but I don’t know what it is. “Hey!” calls a guard “are you all right? You look like you’ve ‘remembered’ something bad. THEY don’t allow sad faces on a working man.” “Ok” I said. Later I went on the trolley. “I know that rubble” I thought. “I know that river… Where is it?” But then, as the trolley turned on the Westminster railing bridge I saw the same sight. I stopped the trolley, ran to the center of the remains, and tried to remember what happen. It was a grey, cloudy day. I had one order, to defend the tower and never let the enemy have victory. I saw the clouds changing colors, a warship flew down. Every shot that came from that thing destroyed a whole city block. Planes flew in as I saw Big Ben falling to her knees, then drowning in the Thames River, and Britain’s flag landing on the ground. “What are you doing?” A guard was behind me, “You’re not supposed to be here.” I panic, “I don’t know.” “Why are you HERE?” he demanded. I nervously stated “I just saw something.” His voice got louder “Saw what?” He then realized, “You remember, don’t you?” “No, no I-I… I gave up.” He spoke, “This is the fourth time you’ve done this. We thought we fixed you last time, but I guess not.” I was speechless. Somewhere, a radio called the time, “Time to sleep, tuck into your sheets…” He terrifyingly said “There’s a saying, ending an enemy is usually the easiest, but wiping your mined isn’t easy. Do you know?” The song on the radio continued “…and throw your fears over the great wall tonight!” The guard smiled at the song, then knocked me out cold. When I woke up I had a gas mask on. I was on the other side of the great wall. The land was filled with poisonous air and wet dirt and I walked toward a new future. Liam Mullins, Grade 8 Center for Creative Arts, Jeanie McKenna

153


Truth Wins There was a warrior named Cedric Bryant, he was a tough giant. Cedric had defeated the guardians of the world, Cedric had a lot of ego about this achievement. He was the mightiest of them all, until he met a young challenger named Bhashu, he was an elvish warrior. Cedric shouted with ego, “You cannot defeat me! I am the most powerful being in the world.” Cedric summoned a mystical - enchanted mace and tried to strike Bhashu with it. It missed and Bhashu took this opportunity and got on his flying bird and flew up to Cedric. Cedric with his tiny eyes, could not see the tiny warrior. Bhashu takes an advantage of this and Bhashu strikes Cedric with two swords. Bhashu strikes Cedric at a vulnerable area, his heart which was located on Cedric’s chest. Cedric falls on one knee after being struck but he gets back up, and hits Bhashu’s bird, Venex. Bhashu and Venex fall to the ground, Venex falls unconscious; Bhashu gets up, limping. Cedric utters, “It is impossible to beat me! I beat the three guardians: Curtis, Guardian of Time and Space; Kali, Guardian of Destruction and Damage; Burt, Guardian of Energy and Soul.” Cedric grabs hold of Bhashu and throws him back on the ground, and the giant stomps at him. Bhashu lies in his own blood, slowly dying in the footsteps of Cedric but suddenly!... Bhashu starts to glow, His body is surrounded by sparkles and fires, Cedric wonders what is happening? Bhashu gets back up, with no wounds! Bhashu’s eyes are glowing in three colors: White, Purple, and Green, the three colors of the guardians… Bhashu readies his glowing fists, and strikes at Cedric. Cedric is pushed back but doesn’t fall. Cedric summons his enchanted mace, He wavers his mace in the area, he starts chanting words… Suddenly! An army of goblins appeared! Bhashu also summoned troops by waving his sword… An army full of Elves appeared. Bhashu was now hovering in the area, eyeing Cedric in the eye, Cedric blows his mace at Bhashu but misses. Bhashu tries to hit Cedric but it failed, both entities are equally-leveled, each trying to strike each other with their holy enchanted weapons... All of a sudden, Cedric stabs Bhashu when Bhashu turns around due to a diversion, Bhashu falls after being stabbed by Cedric’s Titan Sword…... Bhashu lies among the two warring armies, in plasma. Cedric grabs Bhashu’s body and throws him at an obelisk, and turns around to walk away from the field... However, a grand-deep voice yell at Cedric, “STOP, you coward! If you really are the strongest person then fight me right now, right here!” Cedric in rage turns around, to see who insulted him. Bhashu’s body dissolves into another entity body, who was talking to Cedric. Cedric is awed after he finds out who it is, it was the Tempus, The God of All Entities. Tempus shouts, “You defeated my mortal form, why don’t you try beating me now?” Tempus grabs Cedric and punches Cedric in the face, he rapidly continues to punch Cedric. Cedric grabs his Titan sword, and tries to strike Tempus but misses. Tempus arm-locks Cedric and dis-assembles his motion due to Tempus’s aura or force field. Tempus whispers to Cedric in his ear while pinning him down, “This is for all creatures and entities, and everything you killed including my mortal form!” Cedric and Tempus’s auras mix together and a violent eruption happens…. After twenty minutes, the eruption is over… Tempus is gone, and Cedric’s gargantuan body lies on the floor in pieces. In the end, “The truth always wins and evil is destroyed.” This story also shows that “Ego kills and interrupts intuition.” But the war over ego and evil isn’t over yet, it has only started…… Jeet Patel, Grade 8 Hixson Middle School, Stephanie D. Brewer

154


Experience Life is painful after what you have done. Sometimes, after a few years, you end up regretting things you thought were cool at first. Many people have messed up once or twice in their life, even me. There are many choices in my past that I regret. What seemed cool at the time ended up causing pain for my family, and I lost friends I loved. I was 7. My brother and I were in the streets thinking we were OG’s (top dogs), being something that we weren't supposed to be a part of and getting hurt. My mom didn’t even know we were acting stupid in the streets and getting in trouble. We stole my dad's gun without him knowing, but we put it back because we almost shot ourselves. We were getting older, getting stuff we thought was cool, but man, me and my brother started crying. Then we told our momma. She kicked us out of the house. We bounced to where my cousin was living. I was 13. On the morning of December 17, 2014, I kept getting in trouble and people were calling my name. I was in my math class knowing I was going to get caught for having weed. The next thing I knew I was being called to the office to talk to the principal. My backpack was on the table. It was horrible when I saw my mother cry-- I didn’t know what to say or do. I was devastated. Later, I was on the Southside of Chattanooga trying to decide on my next step. I had to change schools for a while because I got in so much trouble. A couple of months passed with me not talking to anyone at the school where I went, trying only to stay focused on the education I was being taught. If there is something you know you're not supposed to do, don’t do it. You don’t want to know what the results could feel like. I was 14. On April 27, 2016, I made another mistake at a track meet at Baylor. I never thought this was going to happen again. Around 4:30 in the afternoon I was done with my events. I was going through my backpack and I smelled something that wasn’t right. I tried to throw it away but I wasn’t successful. Now I was going through the same pain as last year--again. This wasn’t right. I had already lost a couple of friends. I didn’t know what to do again and people were looking at me as if I was a stranger. But there was a song that helped me through this: King Lil G’s “Hopeless Boy.” The line that helped me the most was “Yo, would you like to know why I was so troublesome? That eviction notice on my door made me hustle drugs. I see my mother crying.” Other kinds of people had problems like in my situation or get in trouble with the same situation once or twice. If you’re reading this and you have done something wrong, please speak up before you mess up. If you mess up, you are going to have a type of feeling you would not like. The memory and pain is going to be with you for the rest of your life. I know people who have been through hard times in their personal life and with their education and do not to mess up anymore. I am still 14. After being on the Southside of Chattanooga the principal at Normal Park said I could come back. After going to Washington School, I changed a little in my state in life, and started living with my parents again. Then after talking to big boss Mr. Freeman he gave me another chance in 2016. I changed again and started acting more mature and wise with everything. I had another chance and I am not going to waste it. My brother and I are still idiots after all the trouble we caused. I am trying to help other people with or without problems have a better path than me. The other result is when people forgive you. I also believe some people should have another chance if they did wrong, even if it wasn’t really their fault. Luis Castillo Perez, Grade 8 Normal Park Museum Magnet, Katherine Blake

155


An Unexpected Journey It was a quiet, June evening. My dad and I were out fishing out in Florida. The water was very calm, almost too calm. I had never gone fishing before, and I my dad to teach my how to fish. Since the weather forecast predicted clear skies, we got some fishing equipment and some fishing supplies and rode out in his boat. When we first started, I didn’t catch anything for at least ten minutes. After a while, I felt a tug on the line. I ignored it for a second, thinking that it was just a wave. Then I felt it again. “Dad!” I exclaimed, “I think I caught something!” “Reel it in then.” he told me. I started it reel it in. The fish was almost too strong. I kept trying and trying. I almost lost my grip. Finally, after a few more seconds of struggling, the fish flew out of the water, and landed on the boat. As it was flopping around, my dad said, “Dang, that fish is huge!” Then I noticed something happening. The sky got dark, and many harsh waves appeared in the water. Land started to disappear and the sky lit up with lightning and a downpour started. Then a voice boomed, “Foolish mortal! You will pay for your insolence!” The fish disintegrated and I realized that the voice had come from the fish. “Umm, dad?” I asked, “Are we are going to die?” “I’m sorry to say this, but … yes, I think that we are going to die.” He replied. A massive wave appeared out of nowhere. It slammed into the boat with a loud “SPLASH!” Next thing I remember was me underwater and watching my dad struggle to get back to the surface. I started to suffocate, and I noticed something rising from the depths of the ocean. It was a giant landmass, and it was rising fast. Just as it was about to hit me, I blacked out. I woke up on a beach on an unknown island. The beach was covered with palm trees with coconuts. My dad was nowhere to be seen. I tried to catch my bearings, and I noticed many wrecked ships, some were ancient, some were more modern. I looked around, and still found no trace of my dad. “Dad! Dad! Where are you?” I yelled. I was answered by nothing but silence. I started to get worried. I didn’t know what to do. I looked around for a while and I decided to look in the wrecked ships. I first looked at the ancient ships. They were falling apart, and I found no sign of my dad. I next looked in a more modern, larger ship. I had never seen anything like it. I was massive, bigger than any ship that I’ve ever seen. It had a huge hole carved out of the hull. Wires were hanging from the ceiling. The floor was covered with metal and bones. Some lights flickered on and off inside, and I saw some sparks coming from the wires. Moss and vines covered most of the ship. Either they have a long-lasting reactor, or they had massive solar panels installed, I thought. I decided to explore the wreckage. I thought that maybe I would find something useful. There was a flare lying on the ground, so I lit it and used it as a light source. I looked around and I saw many bones, which creeped me out a little. I made it to what looked like a storage room. It was a big room, and since the lights weren’t on, it seemed a little bit eerie. I walked away and tripped on something. I fell over and tumbled down a flight of stairs. When I finally stopped

156


falling, I picked up my flare and looked around. This was the reactor room. The reactor core seemed inactive. I saw a rusty lever and pulled it. All of a sudden all the lights came on and warning sirens started going off. An automated voice on a loudspeaker said, “Warning, Warning. Reactor core meltdown imminent. Please evacuate immediately.” I ran up the stairs and almost tripped on a few skeletons. I kept running, even after I made it out of the ship. I stopped after running for a few minutes and I just couldn’t run anymore. Then I heard a loud “KABOOM!” The reactor exploded and the whole world shook. I fell over and stared at the direction of the explosion. All I could see was the giant ball of fire, almost like the Sun. After the light died out, I could see a massive mushroom cloud left behind by the blast. I was too focused on the explosion that I didn’t notice where I was. I was out in the open, no trees or nothing. The only thing there was a giant stone obelisk. The majority of it was written in an unknown language that I couldn’t understand, but under it, there was a translation. It read, “To the mortal who read this, you have passed the test. Many men give up and wait to die or be rescued. But you have tried to survive, whether it be by building a permanent shelter, exploring ancient ruins, or even exploring wrecked sea transportation. Your reward is to be returned to the mortal realm. Have a great life, mortal.” Right as I read the last word, I saw a flash, and I realized that I was standing on my dad’s boat, with a fish in my hand. I put the fish down and sat down. I noticed that I had something in my pocket. I put my hand in and pulled out a used flare. “Do you want to keep fishing, or go home?” my dad asked. “Yeah, I think that I’ve had enough for the day.” I replied. Carter Simms, Grade 8 Hixson Middle School, Stephanie D. Brewer

157


Blood on the Snow

Jake …

A whisper....

Jake get up!!

Jake jerked up in the small cot he bravely called a bed, the world around him seemed to be a swirling mist; a hot steam that burned his flesh…. Fire! The world returned to Jake as he woke from his deep sleep, his first in days. Quickly he gathered what was going on, the threats from the day before possibly?! Someone grabbed his arm, he forced his eyes to pierce the fog from hell, Serona, his wife still in her nightgown, everything around them collapsing in a blaze of Steaming lights of orange and yellow, ash danced thru the air, blocking out the cold night with a shade of thick grey, a snow that choked out the world. “What’s going on Serona?!” “The Nazis came earlier than we thought they would!” Jake jumped out of the wool cot as it went up in flames, the doorway had collapsed, creating new ash from hell, his mind went blank for a short moment as he tried to stand, tried to breath… darkness… Darker…?... Jake!? A faint sound… Dammit Jake * cough* Get up! Jake regained his feet, he had fallen, how long- Crack! Serona jumped at him from the smoke. Just as a ton of wood and fire collapsed around them. “Where, Which way?!” Without a response, she pulled him toward a new wave of flame, she moved fast crouching as Jake crawled alongside her, both of them covered in the snow from hell. The flame stung his flesh, and the smoke ached his lungs, his body ached from work at the factory, his ability to think rationally seemed to continually fade. Serona whispered a prayer, so did he, they slammed threw a weekend wall. They had broken thru the flame of hell, they fell to the snow, and the world rebuilt itself around him. As he observed the area around them, Jake welcomed the cruel fall air, however, the grey city danced with the same hellish light that the building did, the Nazis had come…. A gunshot sounded, and Serona fell as fast as the crackling echo lasted. “Serona!” Another gunshot. Serona lay lifeless on the ground, covered in the black snow; screams. Far away from him he heard the low devilish growl of heavy machinery and the crackling of gunfire. Jake stood up, his legs trembling, his head had begun to pound after Serona had led him into the wall: it had been their only escape route, but had there been a different way? Had they found another exit, would Serona be lying dead in front of him? Who had shot her? Why was he still standing here? Was he in danger too? Run… run... Why? His mind yelled, he began to walk across the road, people running, gunshots continued down the street and machines moaned, but yet he walked? A man ran into him, his face half angry and fearful, covered in soot, a factory worker? Jake yanked the man's shoulder, “Hey, what the hell's going on?” “The Nazis!” The man spoke in a quick, light raspy voice. “They come to kill us all, want my advice? Get out of the city or die by gunshot, do not let them capture you!”

158


The man broke free of Jake's grasp disappearing into the roaring ocean of people. Should he run too? Or check on his family? No, going farther into the city would mean certain death, he had to escape. But was his family still alive possibly? Cursing himself, Jake turned against the crowd of people, and began what could be a death march to search for his family. Jake walked with a purpose; his only reason to still be here at this point, he could leave the city; survival‌ or die fighting against the force slaughtering men and women. Men already resisting, they had stashed guns and swords, the city had been prepared, but the Nazis had struck out of nowhere, forcing the city to its knees, just now it was beginning to resist. He quickly picked up a firearm from a fallen man who had burnt to death, a pillar lay on top of him. His skin charred, bone scotched white, but the gun was cold to the touch. Funny, just 4 days ago he had turned 23, this was a great end to the week, wasn't it? He was awakened from thought by the crackling laughter of Nazi gunfire, he quickly turned, and aimed his gun in the direction of the gunfire, a Nazi, early 20s at least, firing on a defenseless woman, clinging to her baby. Jake had never killed a man, had never wanted to, he was taught to never aim a firearm at someone, in a split-second decision, was one that would either change or haunt him forever, he fired, and a horrible echo stretched across the street, he missed, and shot the woman. The woman fell and the world slowed, and Jake's head spun, he leaned on the side of a building, the cool cobblestone holding him up, the young Nazi in shock turned at him, his eyes colder than the ice on the road, but hotter than the fire had been just minutes ago, Minutes ago? It had felt like hours of suffering, how could someone like him stand against an army with nothing at his side than a couple rebels, and weren't the Americans supposed to be watching for this? Where the hell were they? The Nazi aimed his pistol in a panic, and his shot missed, the bullet struck no more than 4 inches from his face, sending ice and rock scattering, stinging his face, his face had started to become numb in the cold air, but he felt blood on his cheek. And by the will of what seemed to be God himself, the Nazis gun had been jammed. Amen Jake thought to himself, he aimed, and fired. Austin Taylor, Grade 8 Hixson Middle School, Stephanie D. Brewer

159


The Mirror

I shot up from my warm, comfortable bed as if a gun had just fired in my ear. Of course, there was no gun, I reassured myself, but one can be quite startled when woken up from a dream. There was no way someone could be knocking on my window, as I was several stories up, but somehow, they had to be. That was the only place where the noise could be coming from. I heard it again and shivered, then wrapped my blanket tighter around me. It was eerie with the rain and the darkness in my room, as if a nightmare had crept in my room and stayed there for the night. I got out of bed and peered out of the window, but there was nothing but fog, which was from the rainstorm the night before. I heard the knocking again and turned around, realizing it wasn't coming from my window, but from my dresser right next to my bed. I was now thoroughly confused. There couldn't be anything there because nothing was inside my dresser. I made the only decision one could possibly make in this kind of situation. I looked over at my mirror and ran a brush through my medium length blond hair. I heard it again- a loud knocking, but louder than before. It was hard to ignore. Now suspicious, I slowly set my hairbrush down on my dresser and gazed at the mirror, not at my reflection, but the warped surface, as if a fist had reached in on the inside and started knocking. I ran my fingers over the mirror's frame, then poked the slight warp in the surface. Expecting nothing to happen, I yelped in surprise when my hand slid right through the mirror. As if I had touched a flame, I yanked my hand away. It came out wet, with a thick silvery liquid dripping from my fingertips. I wiped my hands off on my pajama pants and stared long and hard at the mirror. Then I made a rash decision. I stuck both my arms and head inside the mirror, and at once everything went dark. I saw nothing, but I felt a hand clamp onto my arm. I tried to scream, but it was as if I was inside a pit of tar. My lungs, burning for oxygen, felt like they were about to cave in. My body was frozen on the spot, and I couldn't see or hear. I was trapped. The hand from the mirror suddenly shoved me backwards onto my bedroom floor. At once I could breathe and move again and my vision was restored. I saw stars from my bright lamp in my bedroom. Once I had fully regained my senses, I looked up and saw her. She was taller than I by an inch, with beautiful thick hair, the color of mine and the same length, but prettier. She was skinny and tan. My blotchy pale legs and face burns, not tans. She stood straight and had that aura of confidence that I envied. Flawless, she looked like idol. "Who are you?" I whispered. She bent over and looked at me as I finally stood up. I wasn't going to be intimidated by the girl from the mirror. "Me?" she asked, sounding exactly like me, but calmer, and kinder. I nodded for her to continue and looked down at my feet, then back at her. "I am your reflection, the person you wish you could be. Some call me your Doubter, others call me your Confidence Taker, but most people just call me Gorgeous." Ellie Tomisek, Grade 8 Baylor School, Mr. Loftin

160


My Future Life Saturday Morning 10:00 AM, my eyes start to blink as the sun has just awoken. I started to think what life was about knowing that I’m living in the country of New York. I stumbled across some Lego bricks on the floor as I realized that one day I can build my own nation. This made my mind pop out, not like it already is. I run to my mom saying when will we leave this place as she told me that it won’t be very long. My head functioned like an old relic machine as I can’t describe the feeling of how happy I am, because of the torture that happens every night in New York. Only the part where I live though, so let me explain. I live 1 street from a dark alley where crimes happen, pretty rough right? Worse. What really happens in the alleys are far more than crimes. Scenes you will never forget, it’s like an atmosphere that is being corrupt in as instance where people have trepidations. Friday Afternoon 4:00 PM, The day is going by very fast as I am still wanting to leave this place. It’s like every day I go to my mom and ask her when are we leaving? This is the time I’m going to have a one on one real conversation with my mom but my anxiety is like a malediction. I go up to my mom and she seems very happy, I was wondering if I should ask “what’s up?” But I’d rather wait until she tells me personally. But right when I was thinking of it, she snaps and tells me and oh boy it was the words of my existence. She said exactly this, “We have enough money to afford a house in Tennessee.” And trust me that anxiety that I had earlier dematerialized. Sunday Night 9:00 PM, We are packing up and this is just the beginning of our move to a place that is much better than this apartment this old tatterdemalion apartment. Oh, I can’t wait to move but, something appeared to me. The Legos, the memories and the friendships. But my heart won’t stop me from leaving this place. I take everything and shove it in the suitcase, run to the door and hop in the taxi. My mom stood remembering our apartment one more time before we leave. Tears dropped, and she dropped down to her knees. I didn’t understand why she was crying or somewhat dropping tears. She walks slowly into the taxi; Like she was a turtle. The taxi begins to drive as we are going to a new home where we will have a much better life. Monday Morning 10:00 AM, we are in an airplane soaring to Tennessee. As my face is bright but I know this might be the end of my past. We arrive at our stop and trust me this is the new future of my life. And this will be my new future, but it doesn’t seem exactly right. I get that this new future is great and the past was a living monstrosity. But I think that everyone deserves a new future as mine was just born. Binh Tran, Grade 8 Hixson Middle School, Stephanie D. Brewer

161


I woke up in what seemed to be a hospital bed. I looked around the room still dazed from just waking up. Who are these people? I thought. “She is awake,” a girl with long brown hair stood up and said. More people rushed into the room asking questions. What’s happening? I thought. I heard one of the other people in the room say the girl with the long brown hairs name was Angie. Angie, I thought to myself that name seemed so familiar. I fell back to sleep. This time when I woke up I was in my room. I tried to stand up and stumbled to the ground. “How long was I asleep? I thought standing back up using the edge of the bed to maintain my balance. I walked downstairs holding onto the railing. When I walked into the kitchen my mother was making a cup of coffee “Morning did you sleep good last night?” Mother said. “I don't even remember falling asleep, mom. What happened?” “Well your dad was taking you to your basketball game and was hit. You flew out of the car and it took a very long time for the first responders to find you; when they did find you, you were unconscious and rushed to the emergency room. You stayed unconscious for two days and woke up yesterday so they said you were ok today and ready to come home.” “But what about dad” I asked teary eyed “Your dad is ok he is in the hospital. We are going to see him later.” When we got to the hospital, my dad was asleep in a hospital bed. I walked over to the bed he was very badly damaged by the accident but the doctor said he would be ok in a couple more days. I stayed with him until the doctors said it was time for us to leave. We got home around ten so my mom made dinner. Dinner stayed quiet. Beep Beep Beep. I turned over and hit my alarm clock. It’s seven, I thought, ugh school. I got up and put on a cream-colored t shirt and skinny jeans went downstairs grabbed my backpack said bye and ran out the door. As I am walking to the bus stop there is a cat in the road. Out of nowhere a car starts to speed by and I pull my hands out of my pockets and shot them out at the car, violet fumes went at the car. The car slung back I looked around shocked about what had just happened. Did I just stop that car? What was that purple stuff? I thought and looked down at my hands. I can't tell anyone this, I said and took off to the bus. School was fast I spent my day thinking about what had happened that morning. When I got off the bus, I rushed home and ran to my room. I turned on my computer and looked up things I thought related to what happened this morning but I could not find anything. I turned the computer off and shot out my hand nothing happened. Maybe it only works in emergencies, I thought. I went downstairs to the kitchen mom was cleaning up. “Hey hon, how was your day?” “It was ok,” I nodded “We are going to see your dad tomorrow,” she said smiled. “Yay! maybe he can even come home!” “I hope so,” she said with her eyes filled with hope.

162


The next day after school we headed to the hospital. We listened to rock station on the way. The radio people were mostly talking though not much music. When we got to the hospital, my dad was awake this time. I ran up to him and gave him a big hug watching out for his tubes and scratches. “Hey girl! what have you been up to lately?” “Nothing much,” I said wishing I could tell him about yesterday morning. “Oh well I'm glad you're ok. I'm sorry about what happened. I wish I could go back in time and…” I stopped him in his sentence, “Dad don't be sorry! You could not have stopped that. It was not your fault” The doctor came in, “it is time to leave you and your mother can come back tomorrow if you want to” she said and rushed us out. In the car, my mom complained about how they would not let my dad come home and how the doctor rushed us out so fast. I didn't blame her I was a bit mad too. When we got home, I tried those “powers” again, but still nothing happened. The next day I got up got ready grabbed my backpack and ran out the door. On my way to the bus I turned around feeling like someone was following me. That was absurd, I thought and turned back and kept walking. I heard someone behind me again and I turned fast enough to see long brown hair flash behind a bush. I ran up to the bush. “Who are you and why are you following me” I demanded. “I know what you did the other day.” “You did not answer my questions.” “I don't think I need to answer your questions. You know my name.” “Angie.” “Yes.” “Well then why are you following me?” “It's a long story. Come with me.” She led the way and I followed her. We came up to an old abandoned and we went in through to the back of the house into the basement there were other girls and boys around my age and they were doing all kinds of weird magical things with their hands. “Wow how are they doing that?” I asked. “Just like you did the other morning except a little more practice. Do you want me to show you what I can do?” she said grinning. “Yes!” I said excitedly. Angie then threw her hand out towards the wall and green ivy stuff started growing on the wall. “Wow that was amazing! How do I make my powers better?” “I'm not sure. You would have to talk to our leader.” “Who is the leader?” I nodded in curiously. “Well I think you already know him.” Everyone in the room turned and looked at me. “The leader is your dad.” “What? no way he would have told me!”

163


“Well not exactly. You just got your powers after the crash and your dad has been in the hospital so long that he has not had time to talk to you about it.” “Oh do any of you know how to drive?” “I do! where do you need to go?” a guy in the back said. “To the hospital,” I responded. On the way to the hospital the guy told me his name it was James. When we got to the hospital, he came in with me. When we got to my dad's room, he was laying down but he was awake. “Dad are you ok?” “Yes, aren't you supposed to be in school and James, why are you here?” James then said, “she has found her powers.” My dad then lifted and said, “oh she's ready and did something I never expected.” He healed himself and called the doctors in and told them he was feeling better and ready to go. The doctors then took the cords off him and let him go. We then walked out to the car and dad drove us to the old abandoned house. We walked into the house and went to a little room in the back. My dad pulled a book off the shelf with the title Jenny's Violet Magic. “Hey, that's my name dad!” I said grinning. My father turned and handed me the book and said, “let the magic begin!” Andrea Turpin, Grade 8 Hixson Middle School, Mrs. Carrie Bishop

164


[ 9th Grade Poetry ]

165


Trees Trees dance in the wind Back and forth and side to side Wind is done, trees stop

Josh Burgess, Grade 9 Hilger Higher Learning, Shelley George

166


Bittersweet He brought her there when she was nine years old. She kicked sand into the shivering air like fairy dust, And laughed like a little girl who had not just lost her mother Because the sea made her Forget. White, ebony sun and broken poetry asking for something. Asking for her to go and exhale relief As the salt stung her eyes and teased away the hardness of memory. She let go in a pool of reflected, swimming sky. Her daddy had something shining on his face. To her, his tears tasted the same as the sea did, Both made of a bittersweet world, A hungry world that took things from you and never gave them back. She gathered up water stained the color of light in her palms And watched it slip through the cracks in her fingers and disappear. The ocean pulsed and throbbed and groaned as she tasted it. She sucked in and opened her eyes and ate up the sky, Drained it down because she wanted it. She was full of memory. The waves were wrinkles in a face that she had known And the wind was the touch of someone singing, and playing with her hair. And she knew then that she could find anything if she went looking for it, Because her mother was the sea and the sea had been inside her mother. The earth opened her like a scream or a song. And the little girl remembered. Eliza Moore, Grade 9 Chattanooga High School Center for Creative Arts, Mrs. Howard

167


Cats at Play One quiet and peaceful night, Two cats were at play. They tumbled around and chased each other As if it was day. The crazy cats created chaos As they ran around the house. They leaped across furniture Like Olympic gymnasts. When it was morning, The tired cats slept till noon. Only to do it all over again That night.

Caitlin Osgood, Grade 9 Hilger Higher Learning, Shelley George

168


Fish

Here I am swimming in my little fish bowl. Oh, the adventures I dream for my little fish soul. The mountains, the sky, the forest and the sea‌ Wait, they all sound a bit scary. I do believe my bowl is just the place for me. Madelyn Grace Rogers, Grade 9 Hilger Higher Learning, Shelley George

169


Chocolate he tastes... like chocolate. of the candy box. be gentle, milk, like standing he might stain your hands on tippy toes if you aren't careful. reaching for sweetness in cabinets and top shelves. but he disappears quickly like stolen ingredients leaving feelings trapped in between from cookies your molars on cold evenings. and you'll miss him. even when seven months have passed, bitter, in the way boy now in the corner that if you allowed him of her candy box, to melt you'll still try to forget him. on your tongue bottles of vodka, you would still taste him packages of Oreos, the morning after. handfuls of Hershey's kisses. and it would burn a bit, he manages to sneak his way into your the aftertaste of a mistake comfort foods, always does. no matter how much you pretend he doesn't. he is strong laughter, cocoa beans because you see, palms rough with sugar. boy in the corner chocolate... tastes like him. Maggie Wilkinson, Grade 9 Chattanooga High School Center for Creative Arts, Sandra Howard

170


[ 9th Grade Prose ]

171


Incomplete “Finally, after all those years,” The brunette relaxed as she clutched on to her backpack, trying to keep it from falling out of the large tree she had scaled. She opened the top of the faded dark green carry on, and pulled out a large metal sphere. She let out a sigh of relief seeing that it was undamaged. Her eye scanned the object, landing on a knob like structure on the bottom. She began to fiddle with the knob, trying to find a use of it. Click. As her finger glided over the dial, the object seemed to activate. The spherical shape burst in half, and released a projection. The girl seemed startled at the sight, as if she hadn’t expected it. The projection seemed to form a screen, and after a few seconds of static, an image appeared. It showed you. The brunette studied your features. Her amber eye met yours. You seemed to be reading something. "I-it's you..." The girl muttered under her breath. Her voice seemed to be shaking, as if she was afraid. "Hey!" Her arms waved over the screen, as she tried to get your attention. You, however, did not hear, and kept your eyes locked on the page. Her left gloved hand knocked the object a bit. The screen seemed to fade a bit, and the girl became noticeably worried. "No! You're my only chance! You have to-" Her cry of distress came to a halt as the screen disappeared. Her expression dropped, and tear fell down her face as she watched her only chance of salvation melt away in front of her. The object retracted back to its original form, leaving no trace of activation. She released a cry, filled with a plethora of emotions. Anger, sadness, regret, it was as if she didn't know what to feel. Her emotions fought a gruesome battle, and it seemed that anger was winning. "Why did you forget about me!" She bellowed. Her right fist met the tree, striking it with the anger she kept held up oh so many years. She continued to strike, ignoring her blood coated knuckles. She then lifted her left hand, and removed the glove caked in mud, revealing her hand. It was just bone. The skin was missing all the way up to her wrist, where it began to layer up into skin. The mutilated hand only had the tendons to keep the bones together. She lifted the hand, a tear falling from her face, and took a swing. Her hand met the tree, and a loud crack rang out. Splinters shot out of the bark, and her hand penetrated the tree, leaving a scar the size of her fist. She lowered her hand, and let out a soft sob. "Why me," she cried, "WHY!" Tears fell like a waterfall, falling from the tree, crashing on the leafs below. She wiped her eyes, moving her hair out of the way to reveal her left eye. The ice blue eye contrasted the amber eye greatly, although both were clouded from years of pain and suffering. She picked up the orb and put it back into her bag reluctantly. She threw the backpack over her shoulder, tears still falling from her eyes, and leapt out of the tree. Her feet hit the ground, and she was off, bolting once again through the trees. She knew this forest like the back of her hand. She picked up speed, using the energy of her anger as a boost of energy. Suddenly a loud crack rang through the air. She paused, and then began to run faster. She had to escape whatever that noise was. She could not be seen, or it would be the end of her. Her breathing quickened, and her chest seemed to collapse with pressure. She had never felt like this before. She pushed herself to run faster, trying to escape the danger. She broke through the trees, landing on her hands and knees. She stood up and looked back from where she came, only to see a void. Her tear stained eyes widened with shock. The forest that she had known for ages was gone, and replaced with an abyss of black. She knew what this meant, and she knew that she would never get the same forest back again. Her body was frozen in emotions. The silence of the void sent chills throughout her body, slowly

172


eating away at her mind. Her eyes broke away from the void, and she fell to the ground. She began to shake, her eyes faded in fear. Soon it would all be gone. The story would come to an end. The void slowly ate away at the world around her. She looked at her hand, and she knew that she was never fated to be completed. The spherical object rolled out of her bag, and landed in front of her face. It shook for a second, and then broke open. The screen appeared once more, but this time, you seemed to be bothered by something. She doesn't know why you are shaken, but she doesn't really care. You had forgotten about her. You left her incomplete. Now her story is coming to an end, and you can't- no you won't do anything about it. The void had surrounded her now, the object and her were all that was left. Slowly the object was devoured. She had no idea how much time had passed. It could have been seconds, hours, days, even years. Soon enough the void reached her. She didn't care though. She knew it was all she was meant to be. Little by little, she began to disappear. It didn't hurt, no, rather it felt as if she was being consumed by a cold, numbing slime. Just before she was completely engulfed, she choked out her final words... "You did this to me, Reader." SaraBeth Bivins, Grade 9 Silverdale Baptist Academy, Kyndall Squires

173


Void They theorized momentarily a white light will present itself to you, then you'll be free; but all that greeted me was darkness, emptiness. A place of nothing, that lasts forever. A place that brings you anger and pain. Hours my thoughts stayed steady, is this how death greets everyone or is this my personal penance? A place of emptiness, where sight extends barely beyond my fingertips, as if I am light source searching through the darkness. I've found no end, beginning, edge, wall, or door, just everlasting darkness. I've searched for others, for a way out, for days it felt I hastened. The conception of time is lost here. Minutes, days, and even years are irrelevant, because this is forever. Nowhere to go, no one to see, nothing to do, I lay down to breath. The weight of my breaths is increasing slowly a substantial strain on my chest increases. This not because of exhaustion from my search, but the gravity is different here. It's heavier. Lying on my back taking a breath I feel it resisting, pulling me down. My breathing is labored. I gasp. Pressure is building on my chest. What will happen to my heart in this gravity; my mind races for an answer? I turn on my side laying my head on my arm and then it hits me; I'm already dead, what more could happen? Maybe I could be at rest? Doubtful, that's what I thought when I left the world, when my demise came. Unfortunately, no, I came here, a place worst then the idea of death. It's interesting, people theorized about what happens when you perish, but I don't think this has ever been a conception. An idea that, after death, is the most pain you will feel and will it last, physically and mentally. At this point, what could happen, it's painful to breath let alone move and that isn't the worst part. It's the feeling of emptiness inside me, the feeling of being alone forever, and worst of all the feeling of being forgotten. The painful idea that no one cares I'm gone, not my husband, mother, father, or friends. The thought that they grieved for a week, month or maybe a little longer if they knew me well, then packed up my stuff, threw it away, and moved on, because that's what we do. We grieve, box everything and keeping walking, because that's human, it's being healthy. I think of people and memories and it’s just a sharp agony everywhere, but focused in my head and stomach. The memory of my husband, how much he pushed me to do what he wanted. How it was his life not mine. I think of my mother and my stomach drops, such anger for that women. She always tried to make a copy of herself on me with: academics, athletics, career, even relationships. The women never let me choose for myself. And my father, he was the worst. I never lived up to his expectations. He always let me know he wanted a son, and I was never enough. No, this isn't me, that isn't them, I loved my family just as they did me. This is a place of death, anger, and pain. It takes your joy, happiness, and even love. Making you lost and empty. I haven't been here long, and whom have I become? Someone that can't even move, whom hates her life and those that loved her. If this place is forever, what will happen to me in what feels like one year, ten, or hundred years from now? Will I be me or just a body in a void? Anne Marie Hamfeldt, Grade 9 Hilger Higher Learning, Shelley George

174


Silenced

It was a dark and stormy night. A girl with jet black hair and green eyes was staring out her window. She watched as the lightening danced across the sky. She listened to the rain beating against the window pane. She was still looking out the window; however, she did not know why she couldn’t look away. She got up and walked outside into the storm. She closed her eyes and felt as if she was in a monsoon. She opened her eyes and saw something out of the ordinary in her backyard. It appeared to be glowing brightly in the distant night. She ran off her porch only to be greeted with darkness. Whatever it was had stopped glowing and didn’t appear be coming back anytime soon. She ran over to where she had seen it. Nothing, as if it had gotten up and disappeared. She searched the area around it. Once again, she found nothing. She was becoming increasingly worried about what it was. Her curiosity was becoming a monster ready to consume her at any second. She began to hear voices in her head. She covered her ears desperately trying to get the voices to stop; although, no matter how hard she tried they would not leave her alone. She didn’t know what was happening or why it was happening. She tried to wrap her head around it, but the voices were so loud she couldn’t even hear herself think. Suddenly, a tranquilizer pierced the skin on her right shoulder. She became lightheaded almost instantly. Then, she saw nothing but blackness. She woke up in a cold, dusty, dank, abandoned building. It was dark except the one light in the middle of the room where she was tied to a pole. She was growing scared. A metal door pounded open. It was so loud that it echoed through the entire warehouse. Men’s voices were creeping closer and closer to where she was tied up. She became very still and quiet, so quite even her breathing was silent. She had been able to get free of rope before but she was so scared that she didn’t even think about trying. The men stood in the outer reaches of the light. She was able to see their body’s but not their faces. She heard a malevolent laugh. There was nothing she could do to get free. She wanted to see at least one of their malicious faces. Almost as if they read her thoughts, all the men stepped into the light. She saw one was equipped with a double barrel 12-gauge shotgun. He aimed it at her and pulled the trigger. BANG! She was shot. She woke up in her bed. Her heart was racing. She was shaking. It was just a dream. Kattie McKinney, Grade 9 Rhea County High School, Brandi Groce

175


Eternity The curtain of thorns and vines spread open before Rafael in a single, gliding motion. A strong scent drifted from the gaping cavern entrance, somehow of mixed rotting flesh and flowers. It was both sweet and foul at once, not quite separate but as one. He swallowed down the bile that rose morbidly in his throat, his skin prickling with unease. The moment he entered the tunnel, he knew he was no longer upon the ground of London. He could not identify with exact accuracy what had changed in that instant, but he simply knew. The aroma he’d caught before now floated thicker with each step he took further down the tunnel, and he dreaded what would become of it the moment he reached the light farther ahead. Rafael moved on toward the exit reluctantly. In contrast with the eerie darkness of the cave, the light that assaulted his vision the moment he found himself outside came almost painfully, as though small, insignificant needles stabbed his eyes. Slowly, he steadied himself, removing the arm he’d unconsciously thrown up to shield his face. Rafael stared blankly at golden leaves. They formed a dazzling canopy overhead, branches twisting and splaying in various angles. Morning sun - or what Rafael assumed to be the morning sun, judging by its sharp, yellow hue - filtrated past holes where the absence of vegetation was evident, like light spilling through a shredded gown. A path stretched before him, composed of beautiful sharp stones. They glowed almost like fireflies, and Rafael could not help but admire them. It was not only the stones that glowed, though; everything seemed to have a gleaming aura to it, from every insect - creatures he'd never seen anything alike - to every bush, every feather spiraling downwards from something beyond the coverage of the trees, and the air itself. Tales. Rafael had heard many of them, speaking of this land - a perennial land, condemned by the ancient gods to be forever frozen in time. What mortals called a paradise? But what those who were not mortal - the Eternals - knew as a prison. A home and a prison. Yet some Eternals were free - unbound, raised away when divine punishment had ruled. Rafael had been one of the free Eternals. He’d met others like him. Two of them, throughout the thousand years he’d lived. Nothing compared to the mortals he befriended - loved. But mortals were only granted a brief taste of the ecstasy of life. Each love that had perished left Rafael hollow within. Philip Main De Gloire - he no longer felt. He was an eternal. He'd grown wise, but also numb. He’d seen humans evolve - see much more than one should. And he had suffered, lost the women he loved, men he loved, and even children he loved. Watching Philip’s despair and loss of felicity had been one of the reasons Rafael had come to the Perennial Islands. Longing had been gnawing at Rafael, too. He yearned reencounter with Jonathan, an Eternal who’d had a life similar to Rafael’s. They’d become friends, brothers. A blessing to one another. An Eternal alike, a soul who mirrored anguish and felicity. Johnathan had been he who had wandered with Rafael, step by step, through land through sea, through deserts through storms. There had been no other like Johnathan for Rafael. And it had been because of Jonathan that Rafael had come.

176


So, lost in thought he’d been, that Rafael, even in this majestic, foreign landscape that was unlike all the countries and continents he’d already sailed to, had not realized he now stood before something. He’d felt on his skin the absence of sunlight, and only now discovered its source; a looming shadow enveloped him, cast by the towers hovering farther ahead. It was hard to miss, but he had. The towers rose skyward, and light graced them. They stood like black pillars against the sun, a magnificent contrast of black and yellow and gold. Goosebumps rose along Rafael’s arms, but not because of the constructions’ grandiosity. Before him stood Jonathan. In a strange attire, but it was him. The same scarlet locks that stood so well with Rafael’s dark strands, the same emerald eyes in which Rafael saw his own hazel ones. “The bond which intertwines the souls of those who have not been born in blood, but in soul.” The voice came like a lullaby, a melody of the past, yet unaged. Eternal. Rafael looked up, and a jolt shot through him. A woman descended a small set of stairs toward him, and Rafael needed not ask to know. She was the Matriarch, she who had been born from the gods, trusted with watching and teaching and creating. She who had been cursed for saving her children, her race. She was mother to all Eternals. “Rafael De Vris.” she bowed her head slightly, an action Rafael took a moment to return. “At last you are reunited with in whom you see yourself. Not born as brothers, but brought together as brothers. And I, as the mother of all, welcome you to this island.” “I…” “Your journey among the Mortals has been a long one, I hear.” She moved with such grace that Rafael could not help but be transfixed. It was as though she weighed nothing, as though she drifted, not walked. She looked at him with maternal eyes, and he felt small, like a child again, something he had not been for a millennial. “Worry not. This is your home. No longer will your heart be shattered by death - death will no longer haunt you, no longer weigh upon your shoulders.” Then she smiled, a smile that spoke of time and wisdom, death and life. “Come, brothers of soul. It is time to meet your people.” Her words held promises, promises Rafael could not help but want. He glanced at Jonathan, whose lips curled into a grin. “Let us go, Brother,” he said. And Rafael did. Enzo De Queiroz, Grade 9 East Hamilton High School, Whitney Luckhart

177


The Hunt

"Are you ready?" says Jackson Williams. He was about ready to leave his house early one Saturday morning, and stopped to check if his son was ready. "I'm all set, Dad," replied his son, Chase. He was nine years old, and excited for his first deer hunt. "Alright, let's go!" responds his father. "Where are we going to hunt?" "I'm taking you to a farm about an hour away, so catch up on some sleep on the way over there. "Alright, I'll try to calm my nerves and sleep a little!" Throughout the trip, his father repeatedly checked to see if Chase was asleep. Chase tried to sleep, but was too anxious to relax. After all, it was his first time hunting. He had no idea what to expect, but had shot his gun enough to feel confident if he had a chance. Chase finally calmed himself down enough to sleep a little bit before he had to go hunt. Fortunately, it was still dark outside so Chase was able to sleep. He got to dream for a little while about the deer he hoped to see on this hunt. "Rise and shine," whispered his father. It was time for Chase to go out to the deer stand. His father had spent months building a tree house of sorts for Chase to hunt from. He had spent the last few weeks putting some finishing touches on it, and was finally able to get it set up in time for opening day. "Are we at the farm yet?" asked Chase. He was beyond excited to be able to go hunting with his father for the first time. He knew that it would be great if he got to kill a deer, but was still excited to be able to go on this hunt. "Yes, are you excited?" responded his father. While he was also hopeful that Chase would be able to kill a deer, he was just glad that his son was interested in something that he too was passionate about. "I'm really excited!" exclaimed Chase, almost too loudly. He knew that he needed to be quiet or the deer in the area might hear the noise, but he was too excited at the moment to worry about that. "Alright, I'll carry your gun, but make sure you stay by my side while we're walking through the woods. It's important not to get lost, because I'll have a hard time finding you in the dark." His dad sounded extremely serious about this, and Chase knew that it was important to not get lost. "Okay, I'll stay by your side. How far do we have to walk to the tree house?" "It should only take us about 15 minutes, but we don't need to rush and make too much noise. It'd be better to be late if we could go quiet than go loudly but quick. So follow me, and be silent until we get to the stand," whispered his father. Chase and his father began walking through the woods toward the stand. It was about 6:45 a.m., and Chase felt very tired. Even though he was tired, he knew that he wouldn't fall asleep in the tree house because of his excitement. The walk felt like it took hours, but they finally reached the stand at the edge of a field. It was everything that Chase had dreamed about and more. He was eager to finally go wait in the stand for deer. Above all else, he was getting to spend his first day hunting with his dad. While he didn't know it, the lessons he would learn

178


from hunting would be life-changing. "You go up first, and I'll hand the gun to you, then I will climb up there," his father whispered to Chase. The voice surprised Chase, as he had already been acclimated to the silence. Chase began climbing the ladder into the stand, and was handed the gun before his father followed him up. "And now, we wait," declared his father. Chase surveyed the land intently in the hopes of spotting a deer. After about an hour of hunting, he spotted something along the tree line about 150 yards away. "There it is!" whispered his father. His dad knew that the deer wouldn't get any closer than it was already. "I think you need to shoot at it as soon as a shot is available, because I've seen the deer in this area; a lot of them come into this field, but they won't come out into the open. They just eat the grass along the tree line." Chase felt somewhat discouraged by this, but knew it wouldn't be a big deal if he missed or couldn't take a shot. After all, it was only a doe. Then all of the sudden, he had an open shot. Chase was breathing heavily and was more nervous than he had ever been. He squeezed the trigger slowly, and fired at the deer. BANG! The gun went off, and Chase saw the deer run back into the woods. After about 10 minutes, Chase and his father went to see if the deer had left a blood trail. When they arrived at its last location, they saw no blood. They continue looking in the area, but there was no sign of a wounded deer. Chase was disappointed, even though he knew that he would have better chances. "Don't get down on yourself, Chase. That was one of the hardest shots I've seen, and you'll have better opportunities," said his father. They left the woods that day happy that they had experienced Chase's first hunt together. Ben Sparkman, Grade 9 Silverdale Baptist Academy, Kyndall Squires

179


Our Perfect Night

Every year around Christmas, we have a winter ball, held by the king and queen, in their biggest, fanciest ballroom. Of course, most girls my age would be looking for a guy to dance with, but not me. This year, I was stuck watching my cousin Zack, and his friend Gabe. The only good thing that could come from tonight was that I was spending it with one of my best friends, Randi. In the sparkling, shining ballroom, there were so many people, I started to get nervous. I knew that no one would make me dance; quite frankly, no one wanted to see me dance. If I did have to dance I’d fall on my face. “Ok this ball is too boring, so let's go find the food,” I said to my group. “YESSS!” Zach and Gabe yelled, but then they quickly realized that they shouldn’t do that. Randi and I chuckled as we made our way to the huge table of food. Mushroom tarts, exotic quiches, and some strange, brown meat loaded the table. “You’d think for a fancy ball, they'd have some nicer food,” said Randi. We all rolled our eyes and walked over to the corner. None of us were exactly thrilled to be there. We didn’t have people to dance with, and the food was a bust. We walked up the stairs, and I excused myself to the bathroom, telling Randi to watch the boys. Much to my dismay, when I came out, the boys were nowhere to be seen, and Randi was talking to some random guy. Trying to hold in my cries of alarm, I walked over to Randi and the stranger and said, “So sorry to interrupt, but I need to talk to Randi really quick.” The man nodded at me, and we walked away. As quietly as I could yell without making a scene, I said, “What were you thinking? The boys are gone and I’m supposed to be watching them!” “Sorry… But did you see who I was talking to? Do you know who that is?” she asked. “No… I don’t. Who is he?” I asked. She looked at me with disappointment and said, “That’s only Allen, the most sought after gentleman in all the land!” I sighed. “Randi. We need to find the boys, like right now!” She glanced back at Allen and huffed. After looking for what seemed like forever, we finally found the boys over by the drink table, talking to some girls who were clearly swayed by my cousin’s smooth charm. I rolled my eyes and grabbed them both by their ties and pulled them away. “What were you thinking, sneaking off like that?” I said. “We were just trying to have a bit of fun, that’s all!” said Zack. “Well next time you have fun, do it where I can see you!” “Can you believe them, sneaking off like that?” I said, turning to Randi. “Randi? Randi!” Just great- she was gone. I got up to see if I could find her. As I walked, I looked behind me to keep an eye on Zack and Gabe, but unfortunately, as soon as I turned my head, I smashed into someone. I fell to the ground, catching myself with my right hand. “Oh my goodness, I’m so sorry! My head was turned the other way and I didn't see you!” the kind looking man said. I was silenced by the stabbing pain in my wrist. “Ma’am? Ma’am I’m so sorry!” he said again. “N-no it’s ok, it was m-my fault,” I finally stammered. “Ma’am, are you ok? Do you need help?” he asked.

180


“N-no I’m alright,” I answered, trying unsuccessfully to stand up. I fell to the ground, but he caught me, and lifted me to my feet. I stood face to face with the most handsome man I’d ever seen in my life. He smiled at me and said, “I’m Jack, and you are?” With a nervous chuckle, I said, “Clumsy. I’m clumsy. But then, you already knew that. Actually, my name is Paige.” “Well, Paige, it certainly was an honor running into you, but I must go. You see I’m supposed to be watching my little sister, Abby,” he said. “Right, yes, of course. I’m supposed to be watching my cousin, Zack, but my friend Randi ran off to find some guy - an Allen, I do believe?” I said. “Allen? As in Allen, the most sought after man, Allen?” Jack said. “I guess that’s the one. Do you know where he might be?” I asked with hope. “Hmm. Your friend is probably over by the drinks, because everyone knows the way to a man's stomach is through his liver” he said with a laugh. “Oh joy” I said and moaned. “Don’t worry, I’ll walk over there with you” he said. Sure enough, when we got over to the drinks, there she was with Allen. I held my temper in check as I marched over to her and grabbed her arm. “What is wrong with you?” I whisper-yelled. “Look, he's really great and I think he likes me!” she squealed. “Who is the guy you walked over here with?” she asked, noticing Jack. I looked down at my wrist and said,” We bumped into each other.” She put the biggest smile on her face possible and said, “See? If I hadn't gone after Allen, you wouldn't have run into Jack!” I blushed and rolled my eyes, thinking maybe tonight wasn't so terrible after all. “Would you ladies care to dance?” Allen said. We looked at each other and said in unison, “Yes!” We all walked over to where Zack and Gabe were and saw that they were dancing with girls. I winked at Zack and gave him two thumbs up. He rolled his eyes and continued to dance, a quirky smile on his face. Jack grabbed my hands, and smiled at me, and slowly we began to dance away into the night…… our perfect night. Heidi Thompson, Grade 9 Hilger Higher Learning, Shelley George

181


The Track

The cool breeze blew across the track. I glanced at the tough competition surrounding me. This was my first race, and I was not expected by myself or anyone else to win. I waited anxiously for the gun to fire. Two words were yelled. Ready! Set! The loud bang of the gun ordered me to take off. Halfway through the race I was around the middle of the pack. In the final stretch, I was able to pull ahead of one more contestant. I was discouraged by the loss, but coaches were coaches were proud and excited for my future. I found out that I was against amazing racers. I did great for who I was competing with at my young age. My coach told me that I could be great if I continued to practice. I took those words into high consideration and worked to my limits. Next year I was able to win many races. I also achieved a top five award in our district competition. All of these events taught me a valuable lesson that I will use for the rest of my life. You must do everything that you engage yourself in to your fullest ability. With all of these achievements, I believed I would be great in the coming year. It would have been if I had not endured the most terrible event in my entire life. I had fractured my shin during an afterschool practice. The doctor confirmed that I would be unable to compete this year. I was devastated with the outcome. How could this possibly happen to me. I was still able to finish out the year as a manager and student coach. Recently, I have healed from my injury. I’m ready for my long-awaited return to the track. Garrett Walker, Grade 9 Rhea County High School, Mrs. Groce

182


[ 10th Grade Poetry ]

183


Darkness There is something so comforting about darkness Maybe because it hugs every curve of your body Or how it forgives mountains that daylight does not You can hide from pretty much anything But that can't be forever Because you're not defined by your depression or anxiety or your past you're irreplaceable one of a kind And in the darkness you can't see any of that So light it up Makayla Hair, Grade 10 Silverdale Baptist Academy, Mrs. Johnson

184


Another School Poem Once upon a moment There was very little time To complete my assignment And still make it rhyme To come up with words That sound really cool So that I will make Good grades in school Backspace delete spacebar command Typing each line as fast as I can Using each letter from A to Z Hoping to throw in One two and three For now I must pause To eat my dinner When I returned This poem will be centered Top to bottom Left to right Merry Christmas to all And to all good night

Madison Killian, Grade 10 Silverdale Baptist Academy, Mrs. Johnson

185


Sister I was in love With Abigail, As I was in love With all of my friends: A simplistic way That didn’t alienate Or exclude, That year I fancied myself In love with everyone; It was just that It was more With Abi. As far as I knew She was the greatest, And I would've picked Her over a piece of Chocolate cake any Day of the week. She had a button nose, Upturned as if she was A great aristocrat Looking down on her subjects, To everyone, But me. And I felt equal To her, Like she thought I was as great as I thought her. Like she might Have been in love With me too. Calla Merritt, Grade 10 Chattanooga High School Center for Creative Arts, Sandra Howard

186


My Favorite Time of the Year

My favorite time of the year is when Christmas comes My whole family is always together The children are filled with excitement They hope that Santa brings them the toy they want We bake Christmas cookies and decorate the tree The cold weather comes and we drink hot chocolate Christmas music is always playing Everyone is always joyful Bailey Tumlin, Grade 10 Silverdale Baptist Academy, Mrs. Johnson

187


[ 10th Grade Prose ]

188


Free

“I’m already there!” he taunted his friend and gave himself a final push to get him going down the slide, beating him to the end. He gave no hesitation to laugh at his friend in his childish vanity. He remembers wearing shorts during the summer and burning himself on the hot slide. He went crying to his mother and was comforted by her embrace. But in no time, he was back on his feet, laughing and rushing back to play. There was a time when he came here alone, a couple years later, after his mother passed away. He sat on the swings and let the rain fall upon his tear-stained eyes. He gently rocked back and forth, remembering the times with here with his mother. He remembers a time when he came with a lovely angel grasping his hand. They sat together on the swings, laughing and talking about their childhood memories. That was when he fell onto one knee and placed a ring on her finger. With a shaky breath, he wipes his tears away and lets himself recall his final memory here. It was forty-two years ago, when he was a vibrant business man with brown hair and dark green eyes. He took his daughter there to let her see where he had grown up. She squealed with joy and leaped upon the playground, her cries of laughter still fresh in his mind. After the fire, however, he refused to return, fearful of the memories it held. His childhood, his mother, his wife, his baby girl—their voices still echoed throughout this playground, and he shied away from any reminder of his lost joy. But now, as he sits in the wheelchair, gazing upon the area that held his most precious memories, a small bit of joy sparks in his cold heart. He opens his eyes and watches as the wind blows over the playground again, this time, snapping the swing’s chain and letting the slide slip from its perch. The playground, much like his life, slowly crumbles down to dust. Yet, as he observes the decaying area, a small light ignites from the fallen swing. The swing is carefully lifted from the ground and linked back up with the broken chain, the rust falling off and being replaced by a shiny new metal. His mouth falls open and he can’t keep his eyes away. He watches in awe as the slide is lifted back up and cleaned, a shiny red emerging from the previous brown. A small smile quirks the side of his lips and he stands carefully, finding himself full of energy and life. The playground continues to repair itself, the shining light never going out. He watches and slowly makes his way towards the new area, filled with hope and excitement. A tiny voice is the only thing that adverts his attention from the renewed playground. “Daddy?” He freezes. That voice, it sounds so familiar, so refreshing. He turns ever so slightly, afraid if he moves too much he’ll wake up from the dream he hopes is real. There stands his daughter, a small, shy smile on her face. When she sees his face, a joyful laugh erupts from her and she dashes into his arms. Tears pour from his eyes as he wraps his arms around his baby girl. He wipes his face and glances through her blonde hair. The tears return as he sees his mother and wife, smiling and walking towards him. Joy fills his heart as he takes them all into his embrace. His daughter laughs and lifts her head from his shoulder. “Let’s go play, Daddy!!” she chirps. He smiles, feeling young and new. The Playground of Freedom

189


The dark, chilly air washes over the small playground. The slide, weakened by the years of fun, cracks and threatens to collapse. The yellow police tape lines the edge of the playground, and it rattles in the breeze. And the swings, once furiously swung back and forth by the children, now only sway slightly in the wind, the rusted chain straining to hold the plastic swing above the wood chipped ground. An old man is there, his hands avoiding the cold by nestling in his pockets. He sits in the wheelchair in the fading light, gazing at the old playground. It was his favorite place to go when he was a child, when his snowy hair was blonde and fresh, when his wrinkled face only wrinkled with a smile. He closes his eyes slightly and let himself fly back to that time. A smile crosses his face as he remembers he and his best friend at six years old racing each other up the ramp to get to the slide first. “I’m almost there!!” The child’s voice echoes in his memory. He remembers grinning at that and taking one last leap, landing at the top of the slide. “I’ll race you to the slide!!” he responds, a wide grin on his face. His daughter squeals and leaps from his arms to run as fast as her little legs can take her to the slide. He laughs as he watches her go, the joy exploding from him and spilling out all around him. He turns and gives his mother a quick hug and squeezes his wife’s hand, before they all take off running towards the playground, young, new, and full of joy. And even now, with the rain falling upon the dark, decaying playground, it seems a happier place, a blessing rather than a reminder of a cursed life. The old man sits in his wheelchair, his chin resting on his chest, his eyes closed, and a smile on his face—silent, still, but free. Free from pain, depression, hurt, fear. Free forever. Kimberly Morris, Grade 10 Hilger Higher Learning, Shelley George

190


Twelve

I awake in a white, four-walled room. The only décor is a mirror, perched on the wall directly in front of me. I catch my reflection and turn away. I look terrible. Scratches and burns, bruises and blood. Last night was a blur, but I remember strange people coming into my house. They stole me away from my family and threw me into a plane. I felt it take off right before I was injected with something strong enough to knock me out. I run my hands through my hair in distress. My straw thin hair feels unusually peculiar against my normally soft skin. I lower my hands down into view and I practically jump out of my skin at the sight. They’re red and mangled, like they have been burned, and when I rub them together I wince at the sandpaper sound it produces. I force myself to look down at them again, this time I notice that written on my forearm is the number twelve. Twelve? Newfound curiosity mixes with a permanent, gut wrenching fear, causing a storm of emotions. I cry out in desperation and run foreword to the mirror. I’m about to bash into it when my feet sweep out from under me, sending me to a forceful meet and greet with the floor. I turn around and for the first time notice the chains bound around my ankles. My heart rate picks up and I struggle to regain my composure. I stand up and reach out a hand, just inches from being able to touch the mirror. To pound it, break it, to demand answers. Why am I here? “Number Twelve.” A voice booms inside my cage. My heart jumps in fear, I spin circles; frantically trying to find it’s point of origin. “You have been brought here under the new protection act signed by the President. You are a special person that has been gifted. You and eleven others are being held here until further examination can be done.” My head spins. Gifted? I knew this day would come. I knew that I had something different about me. My parents kept me from the outside world, especially doctor’s offices. My boyfriend was my only source of information about these so called gifted people, since he is one himself. Oh no. That means he’s here too! “Where’s Adam?” I yell out to the mysterious voice. “He’s safe, just like you are.” “I’m safe? You consider me safe? Have you seen my hands! What have you people done to me?” I struggle against the chains, my feet spasm in a desperate attempt to go free. “You will see each other soon.” “Why did you take me? How do you know I’m different?” I know that answer myself. Once, just two months ago when my suspicion was at an all-time high, I was confronting my mother about it. It happened while she was cooking dinner. One thing led to another and I stumbled over and balanced myself on the counter, or so I thought. The shock on my mother’s face made me second-guess my choice of landing platforms. My hand was directly on a scolding burner. I felt no pain, like I was just resting it on a plan old surface. I knew at that moment that all my suspicions were confirmed. I never attempted to explore my powers since then, regardless of Adam’s numerous nudges for me to do so. Silence on their end must mean they know I answered my own question. However, I was so careful. I didn’t tell anyone besides Adam about it. And I don’t even go to school. “How did you find out?” I decide to ask.

191


“Once we found Adam, we also found a loose end. Most of these gifted people are loners. Adam had a serious girlfriend. Wanting no evidence of our arrival or his abduction, we had to find you and make sure you weren’t going to investigate his disappearance. Coincidentally, your mother was on our list of targets as well. So it was a two for one. But she was so upset at the thought of us taking you we decided to run a few tests. Lo and behold, you inherited your father’s eyes and your mother’s ability to control the element of fire.” Fire? Explains the burner and the hands. A hissing sound echoes through the room and the mirror opens like a door, to reveal Adam and a tall, slender woman. Presumably the voice I was talking to. “Adam!” I call out. He looks at me with fear in his eyes, and he cries my name out in pain as the woman snaps her fingers. He falls to the floor grabbing at the invisible assailant who seems to be targeting his throat. “Lily!” I hear him gasp. “Stop! Stop! Why are you doing this?” “Motivation. You’re the last person able to control fire we have left alive. Either you show us your power, or I show you mine.” She narrows her already tiny eyes and snaps her fingers again. Adam lets out a scream of pain. I feel something start to surge through me as I stare at her stone-cold face. I feel a fury coming. If I’m the last fire controller alive, that means my mother… is gone. I scream out, not in fear or pain. Rather, in an uncontrollable righteous anger. My hands light up like fireworks. Solid flames engulf my fingers and palms, up to my wrist. I’m disillusioned to any pain there might be, if there is any at all. I lunge foreword and grab the woman’s throat. I stare into her eyes, glowing with red from my flames. She grins, “Good job, number twelve.” Carly Benton Trussel, Grade 10 Hilger Higher Learning, Shelley George

192


[ 11th Grade Poetry ]

193


The Little Worker Have you seen the worker, The little busy bee? Have you watched the worker, As carefully as me? Have you tasted her honey, That comes from her golden well? Have you heard her voice, That casts and enchanting spell? Now this little bee is good, Her duty she’ll never shirk. What we can learn from her, It’s always good to work.

Alana Clark, Grade 11 Hilger Higher Learning, Shelley George

194


Little Girl Little girl, little girl, get up little girl, Don’t let their harsh words, Their ugly thoughts and actions, Don’t let their snickers and stares, Define you, little girl Little girl, little girl, lift yourself up little girl, Put your shoulders back, Hold your head high, And brush off their remarks, Define yourself, little girl Little girl, little girl, grow wise little girl, Learn from their mistakes, Do not give power to their teasing, But teach others to be kind, Help define the ones who need you, little girl

Little woman, little woman, you changed the world little woman, It may have been just one person, But you changed their world, They held their shoulders back, head high, and followed you, Help define others you did, little woman. Zoe Grosskreutz, Grade 11 Hilger Higher Learning, Shelley George

195


Child of the Moon She is very much Like the moon In the way that Some parts of her Are hidden from sight But the parts that She does show Are brighter than Anything else you see In the night sky Emily Holloway, Grade 11 Silverdale Baptist Academy, Taryn Humphries

196


On My Broken Window Sill On my broken window sill, a little bluebird sits He sings and tells of the lands He’s seen with his onyx eyes As he tells me tales of joy Of lands outside these walls I glimpse at the hell I’ve created Crawling and clawing up the walls The little bluebird says farewell As the thorny vines reach for his wings I nod and wave him off Strings of false joy pulling the curtains open Revealing my two-sided smile Steel clouds fill the sky Rubies begin to fall They seep deep into the rotting wood That makes up my broken window sill The thorns squirm and writhe under my window The price of leaping to freedom They laugh and grimace They know my weakness It feeds them I turn and face the mirror A sadistic smile on my twin’s face She lays out her wares in bottles And forces them down my throat.

Abigail Jennings, Grade 11 Hilger Higher Learning, Shelley George

197


’Tis the Last Snow of Winter ’Tis the last snow of winter Fallen from the sky; The earth and all her bareness Underneath the blanket lie; No flower of the summer, No warmth or heat is nigh, To melt the sparkling crystals, Or lighten up the sky. It will soon leave thee, thou cold earth! To reproduce new life; The dormant buds are sleeping, Hidden from the wintry strife. Thus kindly will the snow be lifted From atop winter’s bed, And life again will flourish; The wildlife will spread. Abigail Martin, Grade 11 Hilger Higher Learning, Shelley George

198


After Whitman The first snowflake falls Little noses press close to windows Watching with joy in their eyes As Intricate flakes fill the air Foggy breath, cold fingers, pink noses The Earth becomes white The world around me is no longer what it once was Where am I I take in the moment I feel snow fall on my skin What does the snow mean It represents time Here only for a moment We must enjoy it while it last Only the snow and me Teaching me about goodbye; teaching me about loss The time we have is limited When will it melt I savor the snow I watch it fall For I know it will not last Olivia Stovall, Grade 11 Signal Mountain Middle High School, Mrs. Pettit-Shaheen

199


[ 11th Grade Prose ]

200


Meryl Streep Biography Meryl Streep- a.k.a. the Iron Lady, Miss Julie, Miranda Priestly, Constance, Joanna Kramer, etc.-is a big time celebrity with big time talent. However, she didn't always know about the gift that would one day become her life. Once realized, her ability to transform into someone else would unlock important relationships, wild opportunities, and a fearlessness that Streep keeps with her to this day. Meryl Streep was born on June 22, 1949 in Summit, New Jersey. Her name wasn't always Meryl; she was born "Mary"(a family name), which her parents eventually morphed into "Meryl". In elementary school, she was bossy and opinionated, much like a tomboy. She soon discovered, after constant bullying from the neighborhood kids, that boys didn't like girls with opinions. Meryl learned to keep those to herself. When she was twelve, Meryl was in her school's talent show. She sang "O Holy Night", and the crowd was astonished by her voice. She soon enrolled in voice lessons, continuing with them for four years. She then deciding she would never be an opera singer and quit. When Meryl got to high school, she played a part. Not in a show (not yet, anyway), but in her everyday life. She wanted to fit in and get noticed by boys, so she carefully mimicked the girls around her, copying their giggles, the flipping of the hair, etc. She became an expert of disguise. Soon she was the most popular girl in school; she was captain of the cheerleading squad and was the lead in the school play, along with eventually becoming homecoming queen her senior year. She was the "it girl", and it only cost her personality. After high school, Meryl went to Vassar College, an all-girls school. Without the gamechanging presence of boys, Meryl was free to form her own opinions, no longer taking the backseat in conversations. Meryl once said about her new college friends, "And with their help, outside of any competition for boys, my brain woke up. I got up and I got outside myself and I found myself again. I didn't have to pretend. I could be goofy, vehement, aggressive, and slovenly and open and funny and tough, and my friends let me. I didn't wash my hair for three weeks once. They accepted me, like the Velveteen Rabbit. I became real instead of an imaginary stuffed bunny." During this time, Meryl discovered the drama department at Vassar. For her audition for the department she read a monologue from A Streetcar Named Desire, and it was during this monologue that Clint Atkinson stood up and said "You're good! You're good!" He then had her read for "Miss Julie" in Miss Julie. She got the part; a very emotional role, and it was during this show that Meryl discovered that she was actually really good. After being cast in every production, contemplating if this was a good career path and being involved in cheap theatre post-Vassar, Meryl decided to get serious and apply to Yale to study acting. Getting in on a scholarship, Meryl started her first year at Yale. It was extremely difficult and a little maddening; Wendy Wasserstein called it the "Yale School of Trauma". The program was run by Robert Burstein. Burstein had been a student in his earlier years, but dropped out after a year, deciding it was an unprofessional program. While Burstein fell in love with Meryl's talent, other teachers had a problem with it, saying that she really wasn't that good (Although the other teachers and students seemed to disagree). These two particular teachers were Thomas Haas, who would later direct The Idiots Karamazov and abuse his power, and Allan Miller, who mistreated Meryl because she turned down his offer of a date. When Burstein came back to check out how things were going, he saw how Meryl was being treated and put a new

201


man in charge: Bobby Lewis. Later on, in Meryl's junior year, Burstein cast her in almost all of Yale's productions with the Yale Rep Company, which created a wall of jealousy between her and her classmates (But that's another story). Her roles at Yale include "Helena" in A Midsummer Night's Dream, "Lillian" in Happy End, and again as "Constance" in The Idiots Karamazov. When Meryl graduated, Burstein wasn't ready to let her go, begging her to stay with the company. She politely declined the offer, explaining that "she had to see what was out there." It was tough to find jobs for an actor in 1975, and most actors did have trouble, but Meryl had already turned heads, and was recommended by Bobby Lewis to Rosemarie Tichler, a casting director at the Public Theater. When Tichler saw Meryl transform for the first time, she was in awe. A few months later, she wanted to cast Meryl in Trelawney of the "Wells". Although she was an hour late due to traffic, Meryl still managed to impress the production's director, Joe Papp, and get the part. Later on, with the same company, Meryl would play "Baby Doll" in 27 Wagons Full of Cotton and "Patricia" in A Memory of Two Mondays. After those two shows, Meryl was cast as "Isabella" in Measure for Measure, with John Cazale playing the lead male, "Angelo". The two fell in love, and soon enough Meryl was moving in with him in his studio apartment. One year later, John was diagnosed with lung cancer, and was told he wouldn't live that long. Before his death, Meryl, Cazale, and Robert De Niro shot The Deer Hunter, but John never got to see the finished product. Devastated by his death in 1978, Meryl kept herself busy with work. She was cast as Joanna Kramer in the film Kramer vs. Kramer. Meryl had shown the casting directors that she was the one for the part when she walked into the audition and told them they had written Joanna all wrong. She wasn't even supposed to be auditioning for Joanna that day. Meryl did find love again, and very soon after John's death. She met him in the summer, and married him in the fall. They ended up having four children and are still together today. Meryl Streep is a humble yet confident actress who has impacted audiences all over the world, as well as the people in her personal life. Talented and fearless, she is able to transform into anyone or anything. She is the perfect example of what it looks like to work hard for your dreams, and to always be appreciative and humble when you achieve them. Emma Karnes, Grade 11 Hilger Higher Learning, Shelley George

202


Memoir in Setting Here is the house at the bottom of the cul de sac on Grayson Road. The two story, blue and white house is surrounded by trees. When we first bought the house, I was at the young age of four. It is difficult to remember those days but I do vividly remember one day. I remember when my family and I went to tour the house. I remember wanting to have the biggest bedroom in the house for myself. Being so young I did not understand some things about houses. For example, the biggest bedroom is usually the master bedroom which is really only for the parents, not the children. After we bought the house I ended up getting an “L” shaped room which was painted a dark green. The room was connected to a Jack and Jill bathroom which was also connected to my sister’s room next door. At first I disliked my room. It is funny looking back at this memory because at the time I was only four years old. After painting the room a salmon color and adding my belongings, the once dull room felt more like my own. Over the years many things in the house changed. The walls in my room had changed to a light green and new furniture was added. Then the kitchen was painted a fresh yellow and the counters got replaced with a Corian countertop. We also got new wood floors for the first floor, stairs, bathrooms, and hallway on the second floor. The rest of the rooms had a smooth carpet installed. Little did we know that we would need to take out the carpeting in our mud room and replace it for tile. This was because in December of 2009, my sister and I finally persuaded my parents to buy us a dog. It was a good idea to install tile in that room for two reason. The first was because it was going to be the room his cage would be in and the second is that he was only a puppy and was not trained yet. I remember the first night we got our dog it began to snow. My sister and I sat on the snow covered front deck while my dad attempted to train the dog to go to that bathroom outside rather than inside. During the different seasons the house would smell differently. Usually during the spring time the house would smell like the outdoors. This was due to the amount of flowers in the house that my mom got from outside. Then in the summer the house would smell like freshly baked cakes. In the summer my mother, sister, and I would bake cakes. In the fall and winter, it would always smell like a lit candle. In the fall there would be an autumn sent and in the winter it would smell like “Christmas” or like a Christmas tree. The library was one of my favorite rooms in the house. It was not a big room, but it was special. The small room had four windows, all which looked out into the woods. The room had a musty smell to it due to the fireplace. The scent would add a sense hominess to the house. The walls were made of a stained wood with intricate detailing. The main wall had the brick fireplace which was decorated with my sister’s and my artwork. The rest of the walls had shelves filled with books, VHS movies, and knickknacks. The wall in the back of the room had a bench, a perfect place to read a book especially with the sun that shined through the trees through the window around four o’clock. Every now and then when I go into the room I can remember the stories we would share around the fire and hear our laughter that would fill the house. That is the house, at the bottom of the cul de sac, that I grew up in. Amber Michel, Grade 11 Signal Mountain High School, Mrs. Pettit Shaheen

203


Escape Only when it is gone do you miss salty ocean air or the sound of the waves tumbling over each other. Even the shrill screeching of the gulls to break the endless stillness would ease the empty feeling June had as she sat on the beach. Looking up from her spot in the sand, she saw miles and miles of grey horizon and still, black water. The beach, known for its lively nature, was quiet. She took a deep breath and held it for a few seconds, then sighed. For the past few days, the quiet was relaxing. She wrapped herself in it morning and night to clear her mind, but now it unnerved her. Scooping up a handful of sand, she let it sift through her fingers. Was it even real? Or, better yet- was anything around her real? June took a few more breaths and made her way to the water. It didn’t feel like anything at all when she stuck her bare feet in. Everything was so weird. Almost real, but not quiet. It had been maybe four days since she’d seen her little team of rebels, and June knew they wouldn’t be very forgiving of her abandoning them. Maybe they had found food. Or escaped. Hopefully the first one. She brushed the sand off her clothes and trekked back to where she vaguely remembered setting up camp. “Camp” may have been too strong a word for the cardboard pallets that were scattered around the neon sign of the diner. There were maybe three or four of them, but only one person was there. He sat perfectly still, so much so that June almost thought he wasn’t real either, until he turned to look at her. “Hey, June,” he said, his voice tense and his usually bright smile more forced than anything. “Finally decided to wake up?” “It’s taking a while to come to terms with everything. I guess you could say I’m in shock.” “You guess?” His smile widened a bit. She took a seat next to him. “I know. What’s with the setup, Nox? Weren’t there only there only three of us?” “There were, but, well, you remember.” No, not really. Everything that happened seemed like a blur. A big, florescent blur. June shrugged. Nox’s eyes unfocused, his eyebrows furrowing as he looked at the sky behind her. “I don’t really remember much either. I just know that there was someone else, and now they’re gone.” Something told her that he was hurting about whoever this was, or at least felt like he should be. She could relate. Her mind felt like someone had burned out parts of her memories. She couldn’t even remember when she’d eaten last, much less full chapters of her life. “Well, what about the other beds?” He blinked a few times and gave her a much more heartfelt grin. “I forgot about that. While you were gone, another girl showed up. There was this big blue portal that appeared in the diner and she sort of hobbled out, wrapped in blankets and barefoot. She had bad frostbite. Her skin was black and falling off…. Not pretty. She looked like she was almost gone.” “How is she now?” “Well, she lost a few fingers and toes, and almost lost her nose the tips of her ears too, but I warmed her up the best I could and let her try and sleep it off.” She looked next to him

204


and saw a slightly soggier palate, covered in ragged blankets. Little puddles trailed into the surrounding forest. “Oh, and don’t worry about her. She went off to search for food. There’s something weird in the air here. She healed very quickly. Not even a scar” June felt like she should be more impressed by this, but everything Nox said washed over her. “Anything else I should know?” “Well, now that you mention it… Since you’ve been at the beach the whole time, I’m guessing you haven’t seen the other ‘inhabitants’ here, have you?” “There are others here? Why haven’t I heard them?” There was an odd gleam in Nox’s eye. “Come on,” he said, standing up. “I’ll show you.” June followed him into the diner, expecting a few patrons mulling about in the dully lit area. Instead, she was greeted by a packed house. People of all shapes and sizes were crammed into the red vinyl booths, and waitresses were scattered around, all with tight ponytails and rosy cheeks. She walked up to one, ready to beg for food, when Nox tapped her shoulder. “I wouldn’t waste my time with them.” June frowned. “Why not?” He reached over and tapped the waitress on the head. Her sweet expression didn’t change as a faint thunk resounded through the tiny restaurant. “Plastic. The lot of them. Uncanny, isn’t it?” “So, no food then?” She refused to look at them. It made her mind hurt. Uncanny indeed. “Not any that we’ve found. That’s why I let Jeni go try to find some. I figured you’d rather come back and see a familiar face. And, speaking of the devil…” Nox looked over her shoulder, out the window. A very thin girl with short ginger hair waved sadly at him and walked into the diner. “Any luck?” The girl shook her head. “No, just trees as far as the eye can see. I’m not very hungry though which is odd since I haven’t eaten in days.” June suddenly became conscious of the fact that she couldn’t even remember when she’d last eaten. She didn’t feel hungry either. Maybe it was this place, full of plastic people and healing air. Each realization made her like this place less and less because it became less of an adventure and more of a prison with no escape. Unless… “Hey, Nox,” she said, ignoring Jeni and the multitude of plastic people frozen in unheard conversations, “What about that portal?” Kaylee Erin Rodgers, Grade 11 Hilger Higher Learning, Shelley George

205


Nature and the Soul “Philosophically considered, the universe is composed of nature and the soul. Strictly speaking, therefore, all that is separate from us, all which philosophy distinguishes as not me that is, both nature and art, all other men and my own body, must be ranked under the name, nature.� Nature, in all of its glorious beauty, surrounds the soul- it is everything. From the fruit that grows on brilliant green trees to the particles that synthesize to make paper and fabric and metal and cities, all of it is nature. Nature is beautifully crafted in a perfect design. Everything works inter-connectedly in harmony. The glorious composition displays unity and balance and emphasis and color and texture. This composition is built from the core of the earth, to the mantle, to the crust, to the surface, to the sky, to the beyond. Such a perfect design was carefully crafted so that every living thing has its provisions to survive in a complex web of predator and prey. It is the circle of life. The circle expands to all bodies of living things, which, in humans, are the habitats of the soul. So what is the soul? The soul is not nature so much as it is the sole inhabitant of nature, the only thing that is separate from it. Nature lives but only to the extent that is a fraction of the life in a single soul. The soul is what brings nature to life, and then nature whispers life back into the soul through a simple exchange. Without the soul, nature would simply compose of corpses and beautiful landscapes with no one to admire them. Even if there still existed bodies but no soul, would they really still be alive? The soul and nature exist in harmony interconnectedly, bringing life, beauty, and insight to one another eternally. Mary Elizabeth Wakim, Grade 11 Signal Mountain Middle High School, Mrs. Pettit-Shaheen

206


[ 12th Grade Poetry ]

207


Opening Day The ducks come in Soaring from above Come in on their final approach They flick and fling To slow their descent Before their feet hit the water The bank begins to move As the hunter jump from the blind And lake sounds like war zone On opening day. ‘

Jake Henson, Grade 12 Silverdale Baptist Academy, Taryn Humphries

208


Strong We have faced many challenges, We have seen what terror looks like, We have fallen victim to tragedy. But, we have always mended back together. ‘Nooga strong, a phrase that the world has heard, Trended on twitter, and interviewed on the news, Saluted the fallen blues. Everyone else can see, the strength of the Chattanooga community. Yes we have poverty, yes we have seen grief But no, we don’t know what separation means. Different races, different religion, all of which make us up, We are Chattanooga strong. Sarah Mullinix, Grade 12 Silverdale Baptist Academy, Taryn Humphries

209


It's Quiet out Here It's quiet out here, I'm all alone. The sun is nowhere near, Nothing can be known. The ground is cold, Darkness has fallen. Everything is gone, Everything is forgotten. It's quiet out here, I'm all alone. Hayden Smith, Grade 12 Silverdale Baptist Academy, Taryn Humphries

210


Where I’m from I'm from Dalton, Georgia The carpet capital of the world I'm from a small town Everyone knows each other I'm from the foothills of the Appalachians I'm from the South Sweet tea and casseroles I'm from the Bible Belt Sunday school, church, and singing in the choir I'm from hot, humid days Elisabeth Staten, Grade 12 Silverdale Baptist Academy, Taryn Humphries

211


The Last Quatrain of Childhood No longer a child; not yet of age. I reminisce of past phases; it's time to disengage. I take off my cap. And I am off stage. As this chapter ends I turn the next page. Author Imitated: Gwendolyn Brooks “The Last Quatrain of Emmett Till� Nicole Terfloth, Grade 12 Signal Mountain Middle/High School, Mrs. Tharp

212


[ 12th Grade Prose ]

213


Why I live at the Ace Hardware Now, I know that they tell me that I’m “prone to getting frustrated” because of my “low blood pressure” but if you were woken up in the dead middle of the night by bee bee guns being shot at the ceiling fan in your room, you would be hypertensive too. And a drink would not solve a thing. Little Betty Sue told me she heard the gunfire at her great uncle’s barn. She says they was told to take what they could to the bomb shelter. She says they thought the Lord was coming back and they were gonna be the last ones found. There ain’t never this much noise in Battle Creek. Let me just say that I was ready to split in the blink of an eye, I knew what was mine and I knew I was goin’ to take it with me. Since my whole family was eating out of Rose Mary’s dirty hands I knew they would never have me back. I wasn’t about to stay in this house any longer, as long as I had my dignity I was leaving. I knew I could go to Ace Hardware and stay for a long time. There is a great big room in the back for the manger that is kept empty. Since I am the manager, I decided to allow myself to stay in the room. I marched out of my bed room, making as much noise as I wanted to. I wanted them to know they had finally done what they wanted, I was leaving. Before they could even process what was happening, I waltzed into the Dillard room where they were battling it out in pool and I grabbed the coffee maker and they got real tired real fast. I wasted no time grabbing the knit blanket I worked on for months right off the rack above Mama Jo’s head. She screamed “Ugh!” I raced back through the room and dodged past Rose Mary to find my diamond ring in her make up desk near the One Direction poster. “So this is how the dice rolls,” says Aunt Mary. She was just standing there jabbing the granola. “Well, Girl, I would be happy to give you my charity air mattress if you agree to let me alone and get out.” Aunt Mary was in Germany. “Thanks for the air mattress and ‘letting you alone’ is not exactly was I think of when I think of BB guns shooting off in my room in the dead of night in a growing teenagers room.” I tell her. “For your information I have a place to go, seeing as I am the manager of Acer Hardware.” I reason, “Ace Hardware always has my back.” Now they were on the edge of their seats listening to me. Next, I went outside and began upheaving monkey grass for the front sidewalk at the Ace Hardware. “Now wait a minute!” Mama says unhinging the window from its seal, “Those is my monkey grass. All that on the side of the house is mine. You ain’t never grown nothing in your whole life.” “You might be right, but I can take the succulents.” I tell her, “You know these are my succulents and that you never take care of them. Plus I know where to get myself flowers from all over the world, from all over, and it won’t cost me nothing.” Mama leans in, “Where you gonna get that?” “Oh no, you done lost your chance. You just worry about your vines and I’ll worry about my Rafflesia Arnoldii.” And with that I slammed my feet down with the force of a twister and grabbed the rest of my things. I lugged them all to my Ford Flex and I took off.

214


Now I will tell you that I haven’t seen so much as a hair of my family in almost eleven days. Rose Mary may be telling stories of woe and misfortune about Mr. Marshall and seeing that I haven’t heard them I still reserve the right to make up my own mind. I don’t let no one do that for me. Besides I love it here. It’s all I need, you know. Since I got the place to myself I can put everything where it’s supposed to be. It all fits in here just real nice, I can see my TV and my blanket rack from my bed. The best part is that it’s all mine. It’s all quiet. I will admit that there has not been much business lately. I got the biggest family in Battle Creek, so they do the most business at family places and the least business at ex family places. Seeing as I am still the town sweetheart, there are still people that trickle in throughout the day, and then some people I know are doing to the Hammer’s down the road now. Some people would do anything to be on the good side of my family, they’d stop taking care of their lawns for them. But I am not going anywhere. I am happy here, happier than a bee in a honey field. I’ll have you know that if Rose Mary was to come with a basket of food and try to reconcile with me over the events that happened with Mr. Marshall. Well I would stick my earphones in my ears, cover them with duct tape and march to my room where I would stay until she left my Ace Hardware. Rachel Bible, Grade 12 Signal Mountain Middle High School, Tara Tharp

215


Why I Live in the Treehouse I was getting along just fine in life until my new foster sister, Annabelle, came to live with my momma, my brother, and I. She was real sad when she first arrived, but soon she was winning the hearts of everyone--except me, of course. She would cry all night until Momma would finally give up and come sing to her until she fell asleep--even though this was when Momma was supposed to be singing to me! She has always sung me to sleep. Annabelle is about a year younger than me and because of that, she always gets special treatment. I didn’t dislike Annabelle until the day she broke my Momma’s favorite picture frame. She was supposed to be cleaning her room (another thing that she took from me, that room had been mine since I was a baby!) but she was jumping around all crazy instead. I walked in and told her to stop with that craziness. She bolted out the door and raced down the hallway. When she did, she ran so fast that the hallway rug slipped on the hardwood floors and she crashed to the ground, attempting to balance herself on the wall covered in our family photos. When she fell, two picture frames tumbled down with her and shattered. Momma immediately came upstairs to investigate and said, “What are you heathens doing now?” She used the same tone of voice she used with me the time that I rode my bike too far down the road and didn’t get back until dark. She had been real mad then. Annabelle looked up at her, all innocent, and said, “I didn’t mean to, Momma! Sister was chasing me and yelling at me and I was just trying to get away from her!” Her big doe eyes welled up with tears and when I saw the look on Momma’s face, I knew I was in deep trouble. “Momma, I did no such thing! I went into her room to tell her to stop making such a racket and she bolted out of there like a wet hen!” Momma look down at Annabelle and all of her doe-eyed innocence and I could tell it didn’t matter what I said. “Sister, you need to apologize to Annabelle! She could’ve been hurt!” I couldn’t believe my ears. My own mother, choosing another little girl’s story over my own! This wasn’t the end of Annabelle’s reign of terror over my family. She went to my Poppie next, and he just thought she was the cutest thing that he had ever laid eyes on. He even let her sit on his lap and watch cartoons with him! He never let me do that as he said there were more important things to watch on TV. She was quite the manipulator, I’m telling you. Next she took away my school. We were so close in age that we were in the same grade, and all of my friends thought that she was so pretty and so cool. The teachers and principals always gave her special treatment and brought her in for private conferences to make sure she was “doing okay.” They never did that for me! One day, she stole my homework without telling me and copied it! My teacher knew, of course, and when she asked us about it Annabelle told her that I was the one that had copied her homework! And poor old Mrs. Greenbriar believed her! That was the last straw--that’s why I’m up here now, actually. I got sick and tired of always being told that she was better and more important than me. So, one day I just packed up and moved all of my important things up here to this tree house. It’s alright though, I have everything I could possibly need: my toothbrush, my books, my music, my momma’s chocolate chip cookies, two coloring books, etc. I don’t need that house or my family who chose a complete stranger over me! I’m perfectly fine up here on my own. Caitlyn Johnson, Grade 12 Signal Mountain High School, Tara Tharp

216


Everything She always had mud on her boots And leaves in her hair And dirt up under her fingernails. But she did not mind because the mud on her boots was where she had been And what she had done, And the leaves in her hair were flowers from lying in fields In between a dream and a thought, Verbie and Hugh Prevost Award And the dirt up under her fingernails Winner for Outstanding Poetry Was just how far into the story she had managed to dig herself. Her freckles were all the discoveries she had made, And all the places that she went, Gathering mud on her boots. Her deep eyes were the reflection of the stars on the ocean That she dreamt of in the field Where she lay Gathering flowers in her hair. Her pink lips relayed her story, And how far into it she had managed to dig herself, Gathering dirt under her fingernails. She was the wind that rustled up the leaves, The rain that gave life to the flowers, The birds that broke the early morning silence, The fire that warmed cold hands. She was everything, An intertwined connectedness With the nature that surrounded and engulfed her. Maggie Thal, Grade 11 Signal Mountain High School, Mrs. Pettit-Shaheen

217


Today is the Day Today is the day It's the day we have all been waiting for The sights, the smells, the sounds The warmth of the spotlight presses up against your skin So bright that it could blind your eyes Today is the day The anticipation builds up in everyone As they pace back and forth backstage Preparing to set foot on stage Going over lines until you cannot speak like yourself anymore Today is the day Walk out and it begins Soon you don't want it to end Today is now tomorrow When we do it all over again Tomorrow is the day When we all go our separate ways But it's okay Because we will be on our way to the next play Zoe Leslie, Grade 11 Silverdale Baptist Academy, Taryn Humphries

Verbie and Hugh Prevost Award (2nd Place) for Outstanding Poetry

218


The Weight of a Crown He flicked a spark from the tips of his spider-like fingers. “Alec!” Nora called into the salon. Alec rolled his eyes, lifted himself effortlessly from the velvet chaise and made his way to the dining room. Propped against the entryway, he drawled, “Yes?” Nora rushed from the sink to the table to start the place settings for the expected guests, “You know very well you should be dressed already. The king will be quite displeased.” Verbie and Hugh Prevost Award He turned and thought, “Screw the king,” as he retreated Winner for Outstanding Prose to his rooms. ~ “God forbid you pay attention to anything that doesn't directly benefit you, Alec Regís! You self-conceited child. How are you to one day be king when you can't even keep from falling asleep in a dignitary’s dinner?” His mother, Ricarda, followed Alec through the gardens shouting. “How is it my fault the Empress of Russia is as thrilling company as a wet mop?” Alex countered while plucking a single white rose from its bush and pulling apart the petals. Queen Ricarda huffed in indignation and spun around to re-enter the castle. He clenched his jaw and closed his eyes, as if he were in pain. The rose bush erupted in flames. With a flick of his hand, the flame was extinguished and he turned to make his leave. ~ “The king is dead! The king is dead!” Alec could hear the rider shouting throughout the town, telling the subjects of their beloved king’s death. His father’s death represented a sort of death of his own; the death of his individuality and independence. From now until his own demise, he will have a responsibility to his country that would surpass even that of his family or himself. A man’s mistake could ruin his life. A king’s could ruin the world. When Nora, head of the castle staff, gave him the news Alec showed no emotion. Neither sadness nor outrage graced his face. Nora thought he mightn't have heard of her because it appeared so. Now Alec stood at the oriel window and stared blankly at what was now his land. Alec felt the crown’s weight as he gripped the gold adornment in his hands. He wondered how heavy it would feel on his head. It was an odd train of thought considering the recent events but he couldn't think of anything else. Would it hurt his neck or maybe bruise his skull? “Only time will tell.” He thought. ~ Years later, Alec had grown into a cold but wise man. Beloved wasn't the word to describe him; the people had respect and an appreciation for him, no doubt about that, but he was cold. He didn't kiss babies or wave at the crowds. He had never even remarried after the passing of his first wife.

219


Halona of Tyrol was a compassionate queen. When she was alive, King Alec seemed to be filled with warmth in her presence. It was as if she was water and he was dying of thirst. Halona was his only confidante; the only one who knew of his powers. She was the one who told him to share them and use them for good. But Alec knew better. His mother had warned him since he was a young boy, when he discovered his powers, that they were to be hidden and suppressed. Power corrupts and she knew that. She feared that between his royal duty and his supernatural abilities, only the evil in her son would grow. When Halona died of Consumption, the king returned to his old ways. He became reserved and unforgiving. His sons were regarded as mere charges of his, to be taken care of and properly groomed for their future position. Alec was reaching the end of his days, or at least his reign. He knew that his eldest son was of appropriate age but worried he couldn't handle what was required of a king. His son, Aure, was of a different kind than Alec. He was warm and unabashedly in awe of the world around him. Aure’s naivety and credulity was of great concern to his father. One day, the king summoned Prince Aure to his study. In the air, you could sense the austere nature of their meeting. “You know I love you, Aure?” As the prince studied his father’s face, aged with the stress of deciding the fate of men he’ll never meet or know, he realized he could only remember him saying those words a handful of time. Sure, of course, knew his father loved him; he had only said it so few times, the lighthaired boy knew he was being serious. “Of course, Father.” Aure told his father. “So you will know that my intentions are pure. I merely need to know that you understand the strength needed when I pass.” Alec told him. “Don't speak of it as if it were tomorrow, Father. I can't bear the thought of you-” “Acquaint yourself with the idea, Aure. No, it will not be tomorrow but it may be the day after that.” The King spoke quietly and without a quiver in his voice. “I merely ask that you listen and take to heart what I am to tell you.” “Of course,” Aure conceded. “You can't take this lightly, my son. I want a life for you, one of freedoms you'll never experience as king.” Alec knew the ignorance his son was undoubtedly giving him in his own mind but continued on. “You will also experience things no one but a king will. However, people will use these shiny things to placate you. You mustn't let them distract you from doing God’s will. You are to advocate for the greater good and never stray.” Aure was speechless at the passion his father spoke with. The king finished with one last piece of advice for his eldest, “No one else will feel the weight of the crown, my boy. Nobody but a king can. It's infinitely heavier than you can imagine.” Emma Blainey, Grade 10 Silverdale Baptist Academy, Ms. Sarah Johnson

220


The Gap Verbie and Hugh Prevost Award (2nd Place) for Outstanding Prose I am restless within my skin. I am tired of shaking, so I stop. I stop on the side of reality, so that I can empty out my head. This noon time is savory. I step off the paved path into a wondrous and wild sense of peace. I can move freely in nature. I am a seed in the wind. I hear the low rumble of drums coming from the sky, and the world shakes me alongside herself. Although the wood is gloomy and sodden and bespattered and obscure, the aspects almost seem more pleasant to me. The song of a blackbird drops onto my ears at the side of a sprinkling rain that gently picks up the pace. Minuscule gems that fall from the pale indigo make echoing rings in the small pools. The jewels sparkle on their way down to the soil within the rays of sunshine that peek out from behind the clouds and the treetops. They reach safety, and the Earth is thankful for the gems which nourish her. Although I have now wandered far from all society, I cannot say I feel alone. What is solitude? What is it that makes one feel close to another? Is proximity what makes us feel togetherness? I have come to realize that closeness will never make me feel close. I have come to realize that within nature I will always feel close. The verdant world brings me comfort and loves me unconditionally. She is omniscient in her presence and will never let me be found solitary, for she is always here. Molly Sims, Grade 11 Signal Mountain Middle/High School, Amanda Pettit-Shaheen

221

Young Southern Student Writers - Winners 2017  

Middle and High School Winners

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you