This Story Is Anything But A Fairytale
A WITS Digital Anthology
This Story Is Anything But A Fairytale
Cover Photo: Sofia Zagorodny, Madison High School Title Page Photo: Amy Navarrette, Madison High School Table of Contents Photo: Jared Lohnes, Madison High School
Contents Writers in the Schools
Basketball — Moses Hurlie
The Ocean — Melissa M. Ferguson
Untitled — Britney Learned
A Catastrophe — Emily Peabody
My Home: (503) — Alvaro Gutierrez
The Seattle Slasher — Nate Carlson
I Love To Sing — Shani Plunkett-De la Cruz
Out — Zola Walton
My Closet — Margaret Ylvisaker
The Weak — Ken Cha
In the House with the Picket Fence — Fiona Toland
Sudden Death — Elizabeth Jimenez-Lopez
Lemons and Cinnamon — Kian Dye
A Response to Sue Coe’s Painting, “Greed” — Marshall Frye
The Shed Light — Baibi Hollister
WRITERS IN THE SCHOOLS 2010-11 WRITERS-IN-RESIDENCE Angela Allen, Turiya Autry, Lorraine Bahr, Carmen Bernier-Grand, Chris Cottrell, Hali Felt, Nicole Georges, Cindy Williams Gutiérrez, Hunt Holman, John Isaacson, Karen Karbo, Jennifer Lauck, Elizabeth Lopeman, Amy Minato, Renee Mitchell, Laura Moulton, Alexis Nelson, Mark Pomeroy, Ismet Prcic, Donna Prinzmetal, Joanna Rose, Matthew B. Zrebski VISITING AUTHORS Amanda Gersh, Michele Glazer, Tracy Kidder, Wes Moore, Joanna Rose, Art Spiegelman, Natasha Trethewey, Renee Watson PARTICIPATING TEACHERS Kelly Allen, Amy Ambrosio, Kathy Anderson, Matthew Boyer, Richard Brown, Annelise Bulow, Gretchen Craig-Turner, Michael Cullerton, Anne Dierker, Jennifer Doncan, Bianca Espinosa, Kelly Gomes, Ben Grosscup, Rebecca Gundle, Cindy Irby, Glen Jacobs, Tom Kane, Paige Knight, Steve Lambert, Eric Levine, Manuel Mateo, Eve McAlister, Pat McCormick, Darryl Miles, Kate Moore, Julie O’Neill, Pam Quale, Nora Robertson, Al Rowell, Alicia Smith, Sarah Steiner, Amy Taramasso, Henise Telles-Ferreira, Trisha Todd, Dana Vinger, Kristin Wallace, Janice Wallenstein, Ellen Whatmore, Amy Wright, Elisa Wong, Tracey Wyatt, Jamie Zartler WITS LIASIONS Matthew Boyer, Linda Campillo, Michael Cullerton, Paige Knight, Eric Levine, Dave Mylet, Sarah Steiner, Dana Vinger,Virginia Warfield, Tracey Wyatt PARTICIPATING PRINCIPALS Sue Brent, Petra Callin, Peyton Chapman, Kelli Clark, Paul Cook, David Hamilton, Toni Hunter, Shay James, Fred Locke, A.J. Morrison, Steve Olczak, Frank Scotto, Charlene Williams DISTRICT LIAISON Marcia Arganbright DIGITAL CHAPBOOK STAFF Acacia Blackwell Maya McOmie Mel Wells
Dear Reader, Writers are called upon to imagine their territory, explore their obsessions, and articulate their vision of what it means to be alive in a specific time and place. Alongside the print anthology, No One Carries An Umbrella Here, these digital chapbooks provide a playful frame for a diverse collection of poems, plays, comics, fiction, and nonfiction written by high school students in Portland. In 2010-11, WITS placed 23 local professional writers to teach 49 semester-long residencies in Portlandâ€™s public high schools, serving over 1,100 students. WITS served an additional 1,500 students through mentoring, author visits, and books, as well as tickets and transportation to literary events. During a fifteen-week WITS residency, writers model the writing life, teaching students to focus first on exploring and playing with language. Our writers then teach strategies to sustain and develop a piece of writing. They share their expertise regarding the art, craft, and discipline of revision. During the final portion of the residency, students have opportunities to share their writing through public readings at neighborhood bookstores and cafĂŠs and through publication in our print anthology and digital chapbooks. After fifteen years of service to Portland Public Schools, WITS continues to grow and change to meet the needs of students and teachers. Last year more than 1,200 high school students attended a literary event at Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. We also piloted a college essay-writing workshop in partnership with Franklin High School, training mentors to work with students on the essays students need for college and scholarship applications. We are lucky to live in a city where people are excited about reading and writing. At Literary Arts, our mission is to support writers, engage readers, and to inspire the next generation with great literature. Each year we raise over $180,000 to provide the Writers in the Schools program to students attending every Portland public high school, and weâ€™d love your help. To order a print anthology or make a donation, visit us at www.literary-arts.org. Mary Rechner Writers in the Schools Program Director
Moses Hurlie, Franklin High School
The court is hot, and so am I. I cross over and shoot a 3 in my defender's eye. You can hear the ball go in; nothing but net. When I'm in the zone, my shots drop in, so you best place a bet. I've dedicated a lot to this game, I must admit. Basketball is like my heart. I couldn't live without it.
Melissa M. Ferguson, Jefferson High School
The ocean. A mixture of blue, green, and a hint of yellow from the bright sun reflecting its rays on the ocean's glass. The ocean. A place where I can go and clear my head. Quiet, peaceful...demanding. A place where I can set my heart and mind free from troubles and hardships. The ocean. Ripples of mixed feelings and cravings, water that flows with great pride and grace. The ocean. Emotions that overtake my body, Waves that take over the sand. Thoughts washed up in my mind, Shells washed up on the shore. The ocean, A place where I can clear my head, A place where I can find myself.
Britney Learned, Roosevelt High School
The fact that she was different than other people was undeniable. When she walked through the halls, her chubby, small body, although sturdy, looked seconds away from plummeting off of a highwire with nothing holding her back. She was anything but delicate. An oversized bag weighed down the right side of her body, as the sound of her dirty brown moccasin boots fringed against each other, producing a light, relaxing swish, swish, swish. Her face: serious eyebrows pushed together. Her voice: loud, very aggressive. The emotion and the vulnerability hid behind a mask of jokes and sarcasm. She dressed like Portland. Spring: floral print shorts, tank top, covered by a men's oversized flannel. Tights, scarf. She's a product of the 90s. She has never fit in. Understanding her was impossible, until she let you. Her own worst enemy was the person she was forced to stare back at in the mirror every morning through an uncombed ratâ€™s nest of hair. But she liked it that way. Always a happy girl. From the moment of conception, she resembled, acted like, and was an exact replica of her Sagittarius parents, always searching for higher meaning. The psychosis was anything but preventable. That internal struggle was the exact reason why the impulsive Scorpio girl's parents were no longer together. She fought with the two contradicting sides of her personality every moment. Constantly thinking everything through to the point of exhaustion, the Scorpio girl herself was a contradiction. One, two, three, four, she counted as she walked across the tiles down the halls of her small urban school. Making sure not to step on the crack and break her mother's back. Skipping, jumping, spinning to the beat of her own drum. Stopping to smile at people going a thousand miles an hour passing her, she didn't miss a thing, not one little thing. Amidst the mess she felt as though she was caught up in the storm of the roadrunner. Whenever stopping, people smiled back sheepishly, nervous of her inappropriate spurts and the spew of loud curse words that poured out of 10
her mouth unconsciously at times. They saw a weird girl. She was a weird girl. But what they saw was all a formulated plan. She didn't want to be anything but odd. “Who wants to be normal?” she'd spit out if someone were to mock her. The way they looked at her, judged her didn't mean anything. She knew she was going to make it big. Passion might as well been have been her middle name. Swish, swish; her proportionately large feet dragged her up the stairs onto the stage, the only place where she felt she belonged. Her mother recalls that, in a way, her dramatic ways all began at age two; throwing her hand to her freckled forehead. “It's so rough to be a little girl.” It started very early, and although it took her awhile to find the theatre, as soon as she did, there was no stopping her. All she had ever wanted was to get the hell out of the town that her family belonged to for more generations than she could grasp. Theatre was her ticket out, an excuse to get out of the rainy city. She believed the world was far too big to tie herself down to one geographic location. Dreaming of seeing the world. The whole place. She was an explorer. There was only one problem; distraction. This girl believed in love, felt absolutely everything, and she would do anything for the people she cared about. The tips of her fingers, the bottoms of her toes, and her eyebrows were all filled with emotion, empathy, and caring. All she wanted was to be happy, and to do that, she had to make others happy. Walking through her day, one brief interaction was enough to make her want to cry. Or fall in love, just for a minute. She was ridiculously susceptible to the energy flowing around her, filling her veins. The emotions that surrounded her every day, and the things that people brush off or ignore, were carried on her shoulders all day long; all week sometimes. The bullying started at an early age. Growing up in the conservative suburbs was a challenge. Depression ate most of her childhood. Learning how to be alone from an early age probably did her a lot of good. She spent school day after school day waiting for something magnificent to happen, ignoring the name calling, harassment, and avoiding the pain that her peers tried to force on her. Needless to say, nothing magnificent happened, but her imagination lead her on journeys that established the person she was going to be. This story is anything but a fairytale. Time ticked on and 11
on; she longed to be noticed for being anything but being the small, weird girl. Being unusual wasn't exactly easy. It was then, as a child, that her craving for attention began. The extremes she went to find someone who wouldn't leave her abandoned or puzzled escalated through girlhood. She was boy crazy, and calling her boy crazy would have been an understatement, according to the adults that thought they had this little wavy-headed girl figured out. Kindergarten, first grade, second grade, third. New year, new victim. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Regardless of the heartbreak they cast on this big wilted heart. Holding on to the idea that someday, hopefully, someone would turn this into the fairytale she felt she so very much deserved, pushed the naive girl through the most friendless days. Just wanting to talk, late nights, long walks, summer days. She was caught up in the things she considered beautiful in the movies. She and her mother spent time sitting on the couch, eating ice cream, bonding. It was impossible for her to push herself along an overcast northwest day. Deep breaths in defined the unfamiliar girl. She connected herself to every person that let her clasp on to them. Male or female, but mostly male. The way she joined herself to people was dangerous. And oftentimes, it left her hurt and confused.
Emily Peabody, Portland Night High School
Blindly the people take What belongs not to them. The race forgets consciousness. One hundred thousand Million years have passed. A quiet moon rests next To the hot blistering dot That once provided so graciously. A catastrophe; Death numbers are more than birth, Life drags out slowly, evaporating To nothing but dry never-ending planes. Each day now goes so quickly That time seems to not exist, But then time turns to deadly force, Now challenging our eight billion Year old rock, not solid and flourishing, Dry and doomed.
My Home: (503)
Alvaro Gutierrez, Lincoln High School
Calmness sits on the palm of Portland. It's rubbed off by the semi-peacefulness of the people. But Portland has a dark side, too. Parts of it are filled with violence. Death walks Upon almost every corner of the city. Part of the town Is filled with people looking for shelter and food. Overtaken by hunger, they are forced to do extreme things to feed themselves. Death searches for these kinds of people and takes advantage. Portland is usually sad when billions of teardrops cover the city, letting the people know that it's a day to stay indoors. Homeless people without shelter suffer from the coldness, Teardrops of Portland. Though it may sound like a horrible place, we cannot ever forget the beauty it holds within. The city lights inspire the people living in it. There's still hope, no matter how dark and cold the world is. There's always a light that will never go out. The light is those who aren't afraid to stand against all odds and overcome the obstacles along the way.
The Seattle Slasher
Nate Carlson, Franklin High School
"Mommy? Where's my toothbrush?" I called down the stairs. "Umm, I think it's in the drawer in the bathroom!" she yelled back. I walked in to the bathroom to get my toothbrush. This was my very first sleepover and I wanted to make sure everything went perfectly. For my eighth birthday, I made my parents promise I could spent the night at my best friend Max's house. I heard my parents talking in hushed voices downstairs. "I don't think we should let him go." That was my mom, worrying as always. "Honey, it's fine." "But you heard the news; he was seen right here in town!" My mom's voice was rising in anxiety. "What if he goes after them?" I knew what they were talking about, even if they thought I didn't. The man known popularly as "The Seattle Slasher" had escaped from prison after killing over fifteen people and was being chased by police. My parents had tried to hide it from me, thinking I would be scared, but when I heard the newsman talk about how the man had been seen here in Portland, about four miles from our house. I wasn't scared. "Okay, I guess I'm just panicking aren't I?" my mom relented. She called up the stairs to me. "Sam! Time to gâ€”" She was interrupted by a crash. "What was that?!" she whispered to my dad, and then started screaming. "Get in the corner," a low voice growled. I repressed my natural instinct to call down the stairs to my parents. Max and I had spent a fair amount of time spying, and I was more than confident in my abilities. I eased my way down the stairs, and as soon as I peeked around the corner the man's head whipped towards me. The man was old, much older than you'd think considering he was breaking into a house. He had thinning grey hair and green eyes framed by slightly crooked glasses. His hooked nose, and the fact that his eyes seemed to look
right into you made him look like a hawk or vulture. However the thing that transfixed me the most about him was the small, shiny, black gun held loosely in his right hand. I was more curious than afraid, but my voice still shook as I addressed the strange man, "A-are you the Seattle Slasher?" My parents were huddled in the corner, their hands and feet tied together. They stared at me with horror as the man started shaking his head. "That's what they call me..." He rose from the crouched position he had been in while he'd been tying up my parents. He brushed his wispy bangs away from his eyes. He smiled at me, but he looked sad. "You know what's funny little buddy? I didn't kill those people." "Really?" I was less scared than curious now. "Then why is everybody saying you did?" I just didn't understand how that could happen. "I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Those poor people know what really happened though. At least there's that. And you, young man, can call me Teddy." My brain was going crazy. Was he going to hurt me? Or my parents? I didn't think so. He seemed too tired, and even at eight I could tell the difference between right and wrong and this man didn't seem like a bad person. "Here," he said as he walked over to my parents. "You want me to untie them? I will as long as they promise not to try anything." He untied them and then looked at me thoughtfully. "I'm not going to hurt anybody, I just need somewhere to hide for a while. Now how about you and me play some go-fish?" As Teddy and I sat on the carpet playing go-fish, sirens suddenly shattered the peace and quiet of our sleepy little neighborhood. A voice magnified by a bullhorn blared outside our house. â€œ"THEODORE MCCUTCHEON! WE HAVE YOU SURROUNDED! COME OUT WITH YOUR HANDS UP!" Teddy looked at me with sad eyes. "I'm so tired of running like this. I won't take advantage of you folks' hospitality any longer." He slowly stood up, stretching like a cat and walked to the door. He put his hands in the air, opened the door and slipped into the darkness. 16
I looked out the window and saw Teddy standing in a circle of light. There were bright flashes of light from the street and I saw Teddy stagger back and then fall. He hit the ground and stayed there. I ran to the door, yanked it open and ran towards the body of my new friend. There was shouting in the distance, loud cracks, and then darkness.
I Love To Sing
Shani Plunkett-De la Cruz, Roosevelt High School
Zola Walton, Cleveland High School
Despite the way the light comes through the front windows, The energy in my house isn't pure and sweet. No. The air is full of tiny furious lightning, Little crimson static shocks. Sometimes I can barely stand it So I walk Out and away Down Henry Hill, Down Down Down. Past little girls Drawing with chalk, Drawing with toxic dust, Down Down Down Into pink lungs the size of your fist. Keep walking The trees keep reaching Trembling Until tendrils intertwine Form a canopy over my head. The light filters Down Down Down, Stains my cheeks green And deadens my eyes. I look as sick as I am. 19
Margaret Ylvisaker, Franklin High School
My closet has hangers, it has shoe compartments, it has hooks, but they all have nothing on them. Every piece of clothing I own is on the floor, unfolded, in a big pile. Instead of neatly lining up on shelves, my shoes lie in my room, outside my bedroom door, on the stairs, scattered throughout my house. A few things hang on my hooks; my winter coats, a tennis racket. I don't know why it's in my clothes closet, but it is, and my old gymnastics team warm-up jacket. It deserves to be hung up and kept nice. When my dad re-did my closet, I used the hangers and hooks and shoe compartment. Now I am yelled at every day to pick up my shoes. 20
Ken Cha, Roosevelt High School Sad, Angry, Gloomy, Loud, Tears No Country, Just Language, Evicted Force, Tears, Flesh, Brothers, Word Hate, Bombs, Not Human, Refugees Immigrate, Evicted, Okay, Hug, Amazed
In the House with the Picket Fence Fiona Toland, Cleveland High School
Her name is Miss Betsy Petal. Her mother wore long, pale dresses. She was born by the neatly arranged china. Her best friends are the little girls next door. On her feet are soft silk slippers. Her breakfast is rose tea and cake. She listens to the music of her own piano. Her secret desire is to float away.
Elizabeth Jimenez-Lopez, Roosevelt High School Walking in the park Alicia stared, out in space. She moved her fingers to the beat of the music she was listening to. Then she saw Adam. "How are you doing?" Alicia asked him, touching her earrings and then her necklace. "I'm hanging in there," he replied. "How are the kids? How are they doing in school?" Alicia asked trying to take away the awkwardness in the atmoshpere. "They are good; a little trouble in school, but we are going to try to take some counseling next week. It's what the school recommends. I never did like the whole psychology subject at all. But that is not why I came. I came to ask for a favor," Adam said with a look of desperation Alicia saw the sadness in her friend's face. She started wondering what she should do in order to help. Him asking her was a bonus. This meant she wouldn't have to ask herself what to do. Alicia and Adam had lost a great friend. She had not known that it was going to affect her as much as it did. She had realized that she had never lost anyone so close to her before. So she had gone through a phase where she did not know how to deal with all the emotions she had inside. She also felt as though she had not only lost a friend;Trinity was like a sister, too. Alicia did not understand that even though her friend Trinity had a loving boyfriend, who had a job, and kids who cared for her, she didn't tell her boss what was going on with her. "What is the favor?"â€?she snapped after not responding for a minute or two. "I know this sounds weird, but can you ask your friend from the morgue if there was anything weird on Trinity before we buried her?" She looked at him, as though she didn't even understand what he said. "Sorry, repeat that again? Why do you want to know this information?"â€? 23
"Well, I just, I don't want it to look...because it was too hurtful, and I didn't want her to look like anything had ever happened to her." He looked very worried. Alicia didn't buy it. She didn't really believe him, since he did walk out on Trinity at one period of her life. When she really needed him, he wasn't there. But she knew that he had gone through so much already. That made her agree to call him the next day. Before calling Adam, Alicia went to visit Trinity's grave, and started thinking how all of this had been so sudden, that Trinity hadn't even known she was sick. Alicia started thinking back to when it actually did start.Trinity wasn’t ever really sick. Alicia didn't want to think about her sad feelings, so she just went to the morgue like she promised. "Hey Ana, how's it going?" Alicia said as she entered. "Pretty good, surprised to see you here, though," Ana responded. "Well, I was wondering if you could do me a favor?"” "That depends what the favor is. Things here are pretty strict." "I just need to know if Trinity had any rash, or anything weird on her before she was prepared...for you know..."…” "Now that you mention it the M.E. did tell me to be careful because she had some kind of reaction after her death, but I never did think anything of it."” "Really, hmm, I think that's all the information I need."” Alicia left, but she could not stop wondering why Trinity would have a reaction after she died. Maybe her suspicions were right? Maybe something did happen to Trinity, as in poison. She had a pretty good idea who would do it. She would call her brother to check the nurse who was assigned to take care of Trinity when she was home and Adam wasn't. Alicia called Adam and told him. She asked him if the nurse who took care of Trinity had ever had a grudge or an attitude towards Trinity. He told her that when he was around she would act fine, but Trinity would tell him that she wasn't comfortable with the nurse, that there was something weird about her. This got Alicia thinking that she had to find out more about this strange nurse. A month passed and Alicia still had not found out who this mystery nurse was. She didn't want to lose hope, but she had to admit she started getting discouraged. Then, 24
out of nowhere, she received a strange letter at her front door. This letter contained the information she had been looking for. The nurse's name was Carrie Wheeler and she lived at 1259 SW Water St. NY, New York. Alicia knew what she had to do next. Alicia booked a plane to New York. She took a cab straight to Carrie Wheeler's doorstep. It took Alicia a minute or two to actually knock at the door. Her thoughts were running around. How was she going to confront the person who had given so much hurt to everyone who cared for and loved Trinity? Then she thought, "Here I go..." Knock, Knock. "Yes, may I help you?" said the very familiar face. "Hi, I'm Alicia Hernandez. I was Trinity Koli's friend." Alicia waited for the reaction of the person who might have killed her friend. "Oh, I'm sorry about that. But what brings you here?" Carrie said with a fake caring sound. "Well, if you let me come in, I will explain," Alicia said, leading herself into Carrie's house. Alicia was brief and quick to explain that she had suspicions about Carrie being responsible for Trinity's death.Carrie did not say a word for about five minutes. Alicia took this as a sign to text the police. "How could you think that of me? And accuse me of such a horrid crime?" Carrie started yelling, but at the same time in a sarcastic tone. Before Alicia could respond Carrie spoke. "Maybe because I am that capable." "Well, really, how could you? How could you take her life? She was a mom! She never deserved this!" "Well, very simply because I was hired to kill her. She meant nothing to me. I am impressed that you figured out part of what happenned. And let me guess you have already called for me to run." Carrie said all of this in such calm voice. That was driving Alicia crazy because there still was somebody out there who was responsible for Trinity's death.
Lemons and Cinnamon Kian Dye, Cleveland High School
It was my first day. I was wearing skinny black Levis and a blue hoodie. I had the scent of a freshman. The older students didnâ€™t even know I existed. I walked up to the desk with our names and classes. There was a middle-aged woman wearing a blue Patagonia sweater and loose-fitting blue jeans. She smelled faintly of lemons and cinnamon. I figured this year wouldn't be so bad after all.
A Response to Sue Coe’s Painting, “Greed” Marshall Frye, Lincoln High School
The eye of the snake illuminates the night, Directly onto the back of the panther so bright, As he stalks his prey with a bird over head, The man eats his meal of meat and bread. The look-out smokes, illuminating his face, Looking straight ahead with an awkward glare, Another man stares from atop the cliff face, Looking straight at the panther with a sideways stare. Blood streaks down from up in the air, The city's light shows nothing but hate, The bird cuts the air like the Greek myths' fates, A naked man shivers and strokes his hair. Trash riddled along the street, A silhouetted man aims down his rifle's sight, A capped man huddles praying for some heat, The eye of the snake illuminates the night.
The Shed Light
Baibi Hollister, Franklin High School I was ten when I got the news. It was June 15, 1944, when I couldn't find my mother anywhere. I needed to ask her a question, but I needed to find her first. I had searched our small one story house; the living room, bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom; she wasn't anywhere in the house. I decided to go outside and see if she was out, maybe gazing at the stars or just sitting. I slid the back door open and walked out. The cool breeze wiggled its way through my hair as the sun was setting. I felt the cool green grass slide through my toes as I crossed the backyard. My skin starting chilling, but the setting sun still gave some warmth, which kept me from running back inside and fetching a light jacket. Mom wasn't outside and that's when I noticed that the shed light was on. The shed had basically been my father's workbench where he'd made his wood crafts. The light was bright and warming. The light in the shed was warmish yellow with mixes of light orange. The light illuminated the grass around the outside of the shed, making the grass seem to glow. I slowly walked to the open door of the shed and peeked inside. The shed was like my father had left it, messy, with wood all over the place. His tools were all lined up on the wall next to his workbench heâ€™d made to fit in the shed. Then there were the regular gardening tools that weâ€™d hardly ever used. They were all pushed aside in the back corner where they were forgotten. I gazed around and spotted my father's favorite hammer gone from its hanger where it usually hung from the wall. A small, cheap nail box was out, with nails spilling from it. There were lots of nails scattered around the shed, but these nails were in a neat pile. That's when I heard it; the pounding of a hammer banging down on a nail. My mom was whacking at the nail as hard as she could. There was a large chunk of wood on the workbench with at least twenty or more nails stuck in. Some nails were missing the head, some were bent, and some were twisted. 28
My mom put in another nail and whacked at it. I could still hear her sobs even as she slammed the hammer down on the head of the nail. I looked down to see a yellow telegram on the corner of the workbench. I knew that a yellow telegram was never good. With shaking hands, I picked the yellow telegram up and unfolded it. Before I was able to read a word, my mom took it from my hands. I gazed into her eyes. They were dimmed with sadness and tears were swelling up and dribbling down her cheeks. Her eyes had never seemed so dead before. It was like all of her life had been sucked away from her. “What did the telegram say?” I quietly asked, not quite sure I wanted to know. She sniffed and looked at me. “Your father had gone missing. A couple of days later they found him facedown on the ground. They turned him over and saw that he was dead. He'd taken a bullet to the heart.” I put my hand over my mouth and tears trickled down. My mom whacked the head of the nail and then dropped the hammer on the chunk of wood. It clattered on the nails and then came to a halt. Mom slid down and pulled me close. I sobbed into her blouse. I felt her shoulders shaking and my head bobbed up and down. I closed my eyes and the tears squeezed through my eyelids. My mom sniffed and sighed. “Honey, it's past your bedtime, you should go.” “I don't want to,” I sniffed. Mom became fiercer. “You shouldn't have come in the shed, I'd have told you tomorrow.” “I needed to ask you a question about homework,”I protested. Mom sighed and struggled up. She closed her eyes and swallowed. “Mom, you don't always have to be so brave.” “Oh, but I do honey, I can't break down in front of my child.” Mom sort of smiled, which felt good. “Alright, I'll go to bed, but you have to tell me the story in the morning.”I eyed her to make sure she knew I was serious. She nodded and I walked back to the house and got ready for bed. As soon as I clicked out my lamp, I lay on my pillow and wept. The last thing I saw before I fell to sleep was the glowing shed light. 29
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