Editors’ Page We often find ourselves stealing glimpses at the sky. However, we often fail to truly see how connected our lives are, how our fate is so finely written in the stars. Chez Nous binds together the stories and artwork of these young women. Our voices, each beautifully unique, combine to create a constellation of stories. It is our hope that in exploring these pages, you may find yourself interwoven in the universe we have created. Know that in reading our words, you continue to illuminate what has already been started. Open yourself to inspiration. Give yourself time to look up at the stars. Listen to the stories that have been written, and know that you are connected. Tara Kosowski and CeCe Hess Chez Nous Co-editors 2014
Artwork by Tara Kosowski ‘14
Table of Contents Noodle Love
Breath Without Forgiveness/There Is No Victory Without Failure
Moments of Pale Blue
Wrapped in the White Rolling Hills
Breaking the Seal
Thirteen Ways of Looking At Nothing
The Literary Women... Chez Nous Staff Editors: CeCe Hess Tara Kosowski Seniors: Tara Doherty Eva Leo Victoria Javes
This Ocean Breathes Salty
Tea and Toast
We Used to Be So Close
A Mutual Understanding
Just Another John Hughes Moment
Somewhere Beyond the City Line
Watch Out for Lions
Juniors: Meg DiStefano Jamie Falcone Isabel Figueroa Julia Gagliardi Kendal Heitman Alexia Kline Sophomores: Olivia Arriviello Kayla Cecchine Leila Haddad Freshmen: Amanda Tolvaisa Cover Artwork by Tara Kosowski â€˜14 Back Cover Stories by Chez Nous Staff
“Welcome to Noodle Love, may I take your order?” “Chicken Lo Mein, the biggest box you have,” she barked into her phone as she furiously perused Netflix, trying to find The Notebook. Simultaneously, she scoured Internet forums for tips on dealing with breakups. “Someone Like You” by Adele was playing softly from her speakers. “30 minute delivery?!” She exclaimed, “I can’t wait that long. I’m in the middle of a trauma!” Holding the phone in one hand, she considered lighting some scented candles but decided against it. Chicken Lo Mein and Lavender? Not a relaxing combo. “Listen pal, I need my noodles. Did you know that noodles help 30% of people get over their breakups faster? Yes it is true! I just read it online.” She walked around her apartment, gathering all the blankets and pillows and putting them on the couch. Then she turned the AC down as low as it could go. Who cares if it was the middle of July? If wrapping herself in blankets and pillows is good for her soul, it’ll be done. “Okay, I get that you’re swamped tonight, but please, I’ll pay double. Triple. Just bring me my noodles ASAP. Capisce?” Finally, she sat down and cocooned herself in her little nest, still clutching the phone in one hand. A wave of satisfaction rolled over her. The tissue box sat on the coffee table, unused. She wondered idly if the pet store could deliver a kitten to her apartment. This one blog swore that kittens made breakups better. “You’ll do it? That’s amazing. Seriously, thank you so much. Yep, you can just walk up the stairs, I live right above you.” By CeCe Hess ’14 Artwork by Eva Leo ’14 2
Breath Without Forgiveness My heart was beating, pumping blood into fleshlike drums the music undulates and my life is drowned in red. The taste of the rain when in drought breeds life, yet dark skies send out soldiers to collect the souls of the night. With every breath life expands, forming a whole of depended darknessmy soul trapped inside a body that will live without forgiveness. By Dominique Barnes ‘15
There is no victory without failure. Through trials and tribulations we find That the true success cannot come without loss. Throughout losses we can better mankind. Rising after defeat shows endurance. Now, no one will ever say that you can’t, The price of victory is struggle, But finally, it’s your name they will chant.
By Jennifer Sporysz ‘15
Photography by Emily Arriviello ‘14
There is No Victory Without Failure
Stage Fright I often hold this part of me As I search for busy work Or try to form words Whenever I feel awkward, Scared, unsure, amiss I always grab my wrists They’ve been a drawing board And a place for my favorite songs to live It's something to do, Somewhere to look But often I feel that there’s not enough space To write more than a line or two “He’s a very uneasy stage presence, And never quite knows what to do with his hands”* I guess I’m the same way An uneasy stage presence In the show of my life Maybe it’s stage fright What should I do with my hands? I'll hold my wrists, And then I can hold it together.
*the quote is from the film Submarine By Charlotte Rice ‘14 Artwork by Tara Kosowski ‘14
Gluten-Freed A loud beeping breaks them out of their pensive states. Kate sighs as she sits up and takes the brownies out of the oven. Sam rolls his eyes and says, “I bet you used gluten too.” Without missing a beat, Kate slams the brownie dish down and whips her head back. She looks at Sam straight in the eyes and squawks, “You have a feather in your hair.” He selfconsciously removes the feather and stalks off only to return with an open bag of flour. “Have it your way,” Sam screams as he tosses the flour into the air. It remains suspended for a long second, and Kate watches the raining powder in awe. She shrieks, and a hot brownie soars through the flour cloud and hits him in the face. He gasps, inhaling the flour, and coughs vigorously while Kate flies at him with a fistful of gluten poison, ready to attack. Sam manages to wipe the brownie off of his face and rubs it in her blonde hair. “You lunatic!” She screeches as she throws her hands down, the smack of half-baked brownie hitting the floor. He can hardly see as the flour seeps into his eyes, but he successfully grabs Kate’s arms before she can fire again. They fall on their backs panting as flour settles on every surface in the kitchen, even the half-opened bag of birdseed in the corner. It clings to the sticky chocolate mush that’s smeared on their faces. “Why did you have to free them?” Kate finally asks. “No bird belongs in a zoo,” Sam breathes. By Tara Doherty ‘14 Artwork by Emily Arriviello ‘14 5
Reparation Pictures “It’s too bright on my face,” she says. “It’s evidence,” I counter. Seventeen minutes she whined about the flash in her eyes. “But the red in your sclera is important.” Makeup wasn’t permitted, But she insisted on it. “Please. A little.” I let her. She deserves it. Earrings and pearls too, she needed that. “My chin, my double chin,” palming her chin, Covering her mouth. How about her busted iris, Inflamed cheeks, Nothing to do with blush. “My nose looks bigger.” He battered her ribs, punctured her lung. “He deserves that.” “And then some,” she’d say. “Just my head. Shoulders and neck.” And the pearls and earrings and gaudy red lips, Only intensifying the ruddiness. “My hair. I want my hair in there.” Fresh perm, just for the cops. Feminine; make me feminine. Give it back. “The lace curtain behind looks nice, yeah?” “Yeah. It’s good.” By Emily Arriviello ‘14 Artwork by Tara Kosowski ‘14 6
Moments of Pale Blue Her innocence falls from the sky, soft snowflakes, floating easily to the ground. Students slump lazily in their hard plastic seats listening to the dull murmur of the teacher’s droning. A cold day in spring; the snow still sticks to the unsalted cement lining the pathway between the buildings. Students rise at the sound of a ringing bell, covering themselves with wool hats and scarves to protect themselves from the feeling of her innocence. But, not you. Your skin uncovered, rising in bumps to the bite of a frigid breeze. She walks alone and lifts her head to the sky, imagining the snowflakes falling upwards. A hand pulls back the shredded mistakes and threads them to become whole again. Inhale, she leans her head back; her gaze looking at the seemingly infinite pallor. Full clouds tinged with gray create a divine blanket protecting her from the glare of the yellow sun. But, a piece of light blue does not hide from her. Breaking through the clouds, a tear in her holy spread, it does not care to comfort her with illusions. It speaks no such dreams of reversible pasts. Blue patch in white sky. She cannot escape you. She never does see just how you take her innocence. It slips away in moments of breathing. Calm sighs in your peace. Exhalations of surrender. Choked breaths of brokenness. She does not look at your black hair wearing her goodness proudly and unapologetically. But, she feels a solitary snowflake land on your cheek. She feels it lose its form to your warmth, no longer an individual beauty. An ordinary pool of water, just the way you wanted her. You must have felt her. Cold and hidden, could you then admit that she exists? You must have felt her before you wiped her away, carelessly, almost as an afterthought. By Tara Doherty ‘14 Artwork by Eva Leo ‘14 7
Wrapped in the White Rolling Hills
I’m hiding under the mountains, Under the white rolling hills. This is where life is simple, and my skin is warm. Concerns cannot find me under the mountains. Instead of standing tall where they could be proud, I slipped and fell under the summit, The hills caught me so softly with their plush layers, And said nothing of disappointment. Water surrounds the mountains, It is cold and piercing and harsh. Although the reflection of the peaks look lovely, The surface merely provides a pleasing illusion. There is a different time zone here, The moon is always watching. The sun is as foreign as the moon is familiar, Here in the white mountain range. When I awake in the mountains, Wrapped tightly in their embrace, The whole valley smells of dreams, And I am safe from the bitter air. The foothills are made of down and fleece, Of cotton and pillows too. There are no jagged edges or cliffs, Only smooth rise and fall. Leave me be to hide in my mountains, You’re not supposed to bother me here. Please let me sleep serenely now, Wrapped in the white rolling hills. By Anna Brairton ‘14 Artwork by Emily Arriviello ‘14 8
Breaking the Seal and Becoming Free Breaking the seal, Scanning the lines, Smiling like a thief Who’d just committed a crime— Each word offers me a hand, Asking to take me away— Away to a faraway land— Like children begging to play. They plead with hopeful faces, Enticing me with every letter— “Follow us to distant places,” they say—their world sounds better. Taking their fingers in my own, I grasp tightly to the dream. I will no longer be alone, Here, you’ll be with me. I laugh at my revelation and smile at the sky. The line no longer exists; it is just you and I.
By Hannah Kerns ‘15 Artwork by Eva Leo ‘14
VIII. A king built himself From nothing. He sits on his throne Of nothing In false satisfaction. He cherishes his nothing Until nothing and Everything Matters. IX. They lowered her slowly Deep into the cold, sodden soil. Her new home awaits her Where she would spend the rest of eternity Dreaming About nothing. X. Teach me how to hold A camera, Skins against skin, pull Back the lens Pull the trigger, take the Pictures, Thereâ€™s nothing left to see.
XII. My lips canâ€™t form the goodbye That I properly want to express. I am trying to avoid a broken Heart. I do not want to loose a Friend, but a relationship has Been lost for years. The Doorknob no longer feels Familiar beneath my fingertips. I stand before a vacant Apartment, and I see nothing.
XIII. Is that a smile I see? Are you laughing because I run towards you Full speed? The gap only widens, Leaving me behind, With the image of you gliding across the room. I reach my arms out to your silhouette. Your figure bursts into nothing.
XIV. Nothing was the answer to the question everyone forgot to ask. Now there is nothing left and nothing left to do. 10
VII. Nothing is a worm in cold soil Shoveled carelessly onto hot cement Only to recoil and die in the sun.
VI. I hate this. My biggest fear is being this. But doing this brings me comfort.
V. I copy everything. I create nothing.
IV. There’s this book. This kid feels everything so much He goes insane. When we think of insanity, We think of people who feel nothing. Who is better off?
Thirteen Ways of Looking at Nothing Advanced Creative Writing I. I lift up Pandora’s box, And I find sweet disappointment. I wanted flames of screaming anguish, But in it I saw nothing. II. I asked you what you thought of Nothing. And you said that there was something sincere about her. The way she carries herself, So ordinary and divine. III. Does nothing really exist? Or is it just a word used by the ignorant Whose eyes are too blind to notice That there’s something special there.
This Ocean Breathes Salty He inhales and exhales the salty air that surrounds him as it scratches the inside of his nose and scrapes upon his raw and bitten lips. The godforsaken smell of saltwater seeps its way into his skin, constricts around his bones, tears through his blood, and reaches every part of his weary body but his heart. It is the smell of his father, grandfather, and all the fathers before them. He cannot stand the damn smell of it. He continues breathing harshly as he gazes into the murky clouds from the boat’s bow and listens to the lullaby that plays from the mouths of the soaring gulls and the sloshing sound of waves as they crash against wooden planks. Night after night, the same faint ethereal hymn that arises from the mist has drawn him out onto the deck long before dawn. He cannot understand what she is singing, but he knows it is the sound of a beautiful promise, an escape, and the desire for it plagues his mind like an unrelenting tide battering a wave-weary shore. As he plunges down, down, further down, he hears the sound of a woman’s cruel laughter. He remembers his grandfather, touching his shoulder with his wrinkly and calloused hands, telling him tales of the sea and her unforgiving tricks. This ocean, she never had a place for him at all. He thinks about how he always knew this as his lungs become heavy with that godforsaken saltwater. By Faith Wilcox ‘14 Artwork By Alexia Kline ‘15 12
The Scientist He sits at his desk, studies, analyzes the world around him instead of the world inside him, finds details in even the slightest generalizations. His hypotheses are extensions of himself. He questions everything, and these questions only further illuminate his brilliance. He is able to reduce every organism to its simplest form, yet the irony of his condition escapes his logic. Though he is filled with such elaborate knowledge of the universe and its elements, he is lacking in one very vital piece of information. The man who knows everything, knows nothing about himself. By Nicolette Paci â€˜14 Artwork by Emily Arriviello â€˜14 This poem received honorable mention in the 2014 Charlotte Miller Simon Poetry Contest.
Tea and Toast We aren’t coffee people, my family. We aren’t two-cups-a-morning, buzzing-with-caffeine members of society. We are English Breakfast, butter-on-bread people. To me, tea is the time when the sky is not quite clear of its bluish grey mess of clouds, and my car sits in the driveway, cold and idle. Tea is the time when I don’t need to pack or find my school shoes or locate my missing car keys. The house is silent, void of barking Labradors or yelling twelve-year-olds. Tea is the time for ritual, for patience. It starts with loading the toaster with two slices of the raisin bread my grandpa picks up every week for me. After I fill the kettle with water, it’s a waiting game. Waiting for tea is like waiting for sleep, feeling your muscles relax and the peaceful silence of the house blanket you. I remember curling up on my couch after school nearly every day sophomore year. After a few weeks, mom would have a cup of hot tea ready for me when I got off the bus. I’d bundle under my comforters and watch the honey mix with tea. It’s not that those days were particularly horrible. It’s just that at a time when I was uncomfortable in my own skin, tea made everything feel more familiar. It made me feel like rainy Sundays spent curled up with my Mom or the smell of spices in the kitchen when Dad was cooking. It was my panacea, my daily dose of home. I’d have hectic days, too, where I’d be running to and from art classes or out with my friends. These were the times when I wouldn’t sleep in my own bed for days, instead staying up late on a friend’s couch, watching reruns of Criminal Minds. We would take midnight trips to the CVS around her house and binge on candy and chips. When we had no money, we would try to bake with whatever was in her house, almost always ending up blackening whatever we had put in the oven. These were the fast days, the blur of weeks and months that somehow seem so far away now. No matter how busy the days became, though, I would always take the time to make myself a cup of tea when I got home. I believe in tea and toast because it is simple. It is rainy afternoons with my parents and the warmth under my blankets. I was raised in a family that valued Sunday dinners and weekly rounds of Monopoly. I have room to grow and places to visit, but I think I’ll always be a tea person. By Tara Kosowski ‘14 Artwork by Tara Kosowski ‘14
We used to be so close, us, the quirky, happy two. The best of friends, we were, just you and me, me and you. First, the days were wonderful; we would talk and talk and talk. We were constant, never changing, and I miss the streets we used to walk. Then you started to ignore me. I wondered, wondered “why?” Then you told me that you were sad, and I tried so hard not to cry. “Distance makes the heart grow fonder,” though you never moved away. Just moved your words, thoughts, and feelings, and it turned my life, gray. Things got better after that, at least I thought they had. But happiness is fleeting, and soon things did get bad. You stopped talking to me again, just a whisper, here and there. I tried to get the old days back, back to then, when things were fair. You didn’t tell me what I did, just that I’d done something wrong. It made me shiver just to think “Will she forgive me? Is she strong?” I want to know what happened. I desperately need to know why, just why it all feels fake, and why we haven’t seemed to try. But we never tried to fix it, just lay in our beds and cried. All the while wondering how, just how, our friendship died. By Meg DiStefano ‘15 Artwork by Tara Kosowki ‘14
A Mutual Understanding Alice presses her ear against my stomach, something she often does when she’s sad. I’m the only one who can listen to her problems without uttering a word. In return, she listens to my heartbeat and closes her eyes. She smells unlike her usual scent; I detect a stronger, musky fragrance. Just as I suspected, she brings up Ron. I listen until her breathing slows and her heartbeat becomes its normal rhythm again. Once she is finally relaxed, the satisfaction kicks in. She holds me closer and rubs my stomach, a silent way of showing me her gratitude. She knows I’m always here for her and takes full advantage. She knows how loyal I am, yet I still resent that I cannot be more helpful. Alice gets up to retrieve the box of tissues. She pats her eyes dry, though my fur absorbed the majority of her tears. She sits back down and rubs my back, my favorite spot. I lick her cheek, which makes her smile. She whispers in my ear, “Aw Coops, you’re the only guy I’ll ever need.” I wag my tail as quickly as possible. I wish I could convey how much I truly understand her. But for now, I jump off the couch and look up at her. I know exactly what will make the both of us feel better: a nice long walk. She laughs. I guess she understands me too.
By Victoria Javes ‘14 Artwork by Alexia Kline ‘15
Just Another John Hughes Moment She sits at her computer screen and blinks. Trying to work for hours now, but nothing seems to sync. She picks up a pen, hoping to control her thoughts with ink. But her head is empty, she cannot think. Instead she stares at her walls, contemplating the splashes of pink. Instead she stares at her walls, and contemplates his wink. Turning to her journal she begins to recount the story of the wink. A twitch of the eye, barely more than a blink. But it was enough to make her cheeks go pink. Now she writes how she stared in the mirror above the bathroom sink. It was so embarrassing, is the only thing she can think When she recalls scrubbing her face, trying to free the stain of ink. It happened when her pen exploded, covering her in ink. And as she ran down the hall, he slid her a wink Tall and fair and handsome. She could not believe he would think Of a short and clumsy, quiet girl who goes days without a double take or blink. But he said to her, “you’ve got a shmutz there, Catherine. You should wash it in the sink.” And he was the reason she washed with soap colored pink. The soap is still underneath my fingernails, she writes, I can’t get rid of the pink. And I think I still have a stain somewhere, what if I’m still covered in ink? She feels compelled to wash again, she even moves towards her sink. Oh Journal, I can’t stop thinking about his stupid wink. Did he mean it? Was it planned? Or was it just a malfunctioned blink? I just wish I knew how boys like him think! This isn’t Sixteen Candles, she remembers to think. She’s reminds herself she’s not in The Breakfast Club or Pretty in Pink. Still, she looks at the posters on her wall, willing John Bender to blink And say, “Catherine, c’mon, I love you even though you inked.” And then he’d throw her his trademark wink. Her laptop dings. Finally, her playlist is synced. Music on, she makes her way to the sink But is interrupted by a sound that causes her to think That maybe her brother is coming in to mock her about the wink, Only to see him standing there, his cheeks a little pink. He’s still blushing when he says to her “I liked seeing you today, even with all that ink.” Catherine can only stand there and blink. But then she remembers the sink and the way she turned pink. She can’t help but think that maybe it wasn’t just ink That caused him to wink. She blinks. By CeCe Hess ‘14 Artwork by Alexis Dillihay ‘14 17
Silence The sounds of my brothers filled our homeCrashing and banging, rumbling and groans. Never were they silenced or scolded, never were they told to choose their words carefully. Yet I was taught to bite my tongue. To stop my thoughts from flowing out before they even had begun.
Never was I to raise my voice. I came to feel that silence was key. Well no more.
No longer will I stay silent while others rip their lungs apart. No longer will I tame my fiery tongue so others won’t be uncomfortable with the heat.
By Katie Honebrink ‘15 Artwork by Eva Leo ‘14 18
Somewhere Beyond the City Line Away from the city I walk and walk, Past the city line drawn in chalk. The children play amongst the crisp autumn breeze while the wind dances through the trees. Away from the chaos of the crowd, I continue to walk alone with my thoughts. Past the white picket fences and newly groomed lawns, To a place where I belong. Away from the hustle and bustle of the town, I reach a meadow, which is golden brown. As the sun begins to set, and the wind begins to blow, Little dots in the sky begin to glow. I put down my blanket and take a seat, Surrounded by nature at my feet. I sit alone, nobody around, Only then I hear a sound. Not a sound found in the city, Not a sound heard in a town, But the song of the stars dancing around. This sweet song is not sung by a bird, And cannot be replicated by an instrument. It is the song of the stars with their melody so simple, so sweet, The message of hope and love shown only, To those who seek the simple life of the meek. By Sarah Shavo â€˜16 Artwork by Emily Arriviello â€˜14
Watch Out For Lions Kate’s eyes were busy tracing each wrinkled fold of the elephant’s skin. She pressed her face up to the bars of the exhibit, feeling the metal against her skin. Kate’s little, chubby hand instinctively reached out next to her, searching for her mother’s touch. Her fingers brushed up against rough, calloused skin. She looked up, startled, to find that the hand did not belong to her mommy at all but to a tall woman. Her hair was pulled back, slick and shiny, and she was already holding the hand of a little boy next to her. The mommy looked at Kate for a second and moved away, eaten up by the crowd. Kate’s eyes flickered through the sea of people, searching, searching for her mommy. Kate held onto the iron bar in front of her. She had often wished there was no bar to separate her and the animals. She would giggle to herself, imagining what it’d be like to play with the elephants. Now, though, she was thankful for the bars. Something in her little stomach dropped down, down, down. Ker-plop. Kate realized she had lost her mommy and it was all her fault. She had just wanted to see the elephants. Kate took a step back, letting go of the cold metal bar. Her body hit a soft wall and she felt coarse fabric beneath her fingers. She turned, pirouetted, and looked up into a round face. The man looked down at her and smiled, showing big, yellowed teeth. He leaned down, hands on his knees, coming to eye level with Kate. Kate was sure that if he opened his mouth to speak, it’d come out as a feral roar, just like the lions at the other side of the zoo. Kate didn’t want to get eaten up. She didn’t want to disappear. So she turned her heels and ran. She ran the way she had seen a mouse scurry from a cobra in the reptile house. She ran until the movement of her feet became like a song too-often repeated, something she knew by heart but couldn’t fully explain how. She ran until her footsteps were lost in the hum of the crowd, until she could no long see the bars.
By Tara Kosowski ‘14 Artwork by Alexia Kline ‘15 20
Our love is a dead language.
There is no life without coffee.
I do not see your injury.
Teenage years, when rules donâ€™t exist.