Mariah The Art & Literary Magazine of The Morristown-Beard School
Editors: Caitlin Brown (Print) Sandra Becker Julia McBride Kaitlyn Tatulli (Digital)
Art & Literary Staff: Ben Leigh Jillian Griffith Ashley Young Katie Sidlowski
Junior Alphonse Ashleigh DeSimone Samantha Pamnani Will Taggart
Faculty Advisors Mike Kelly & Allison Postma
Table of Contents Art Paintings, Illustrations, & Ceramics
Photography Kyle Larsson James Fort Alicia Vnencak Jacob Beeber Trip Ewig Maxime Menne Maxime Menne Howard Goldberg Catherine Wachtell Scott Chanzit Duke Plofker
Digital Digital Digital Digital Digital Polaroid Transfer Digital Digital Digital Digital Silver Print
Ashleigh DeSimone “A Peek Into Oblivion” Cover Ashley Young Pen & Ink 6 Jillian Griffith Oil 11 Emily Nickson Pen & Ink 13 Ashley Young Watercolor 19 Jillian Griffth Oil 20 Gina Finelli Ceramic 21 Benjamin Leigh Pen & Marker 27 Emily Nickson Watercolor 28 Benjamin Leigh Pen 33 Ashley Young Scratchboard 40 Gina Finelli Ceramic 44 Katherine Chester Scratchboard 50-51 Carina Steficek Pen & Ink 58-59
7, 15, 48 8, 14 16, 52, 56 24, 30 32 29 35, 41 42 42, 62 47, 53 61
Kathryn Sidlowski Connor Cairoli Kaitlyn Tatulli Alicia Vnencak Kaitlyn Tatulli Allison Aiello
Alicia Vnencak “Lies” 7 Gina Finelli Haiku 8 Kathryn Sidlowski “The Wind” 8 Lindsay Reeth “Power & Pain” 9 Samantha Pamnani “Ode to Coffee” 10 Samantha Pamnani “Wildflower” 14 Rachel Leung “Red Rose” 15 Alicia Vnencak Haiku 20 Kirsten Stainer Haiku 20 Kathryn Sidlowski Haiku 20 Allison Aiello “Dancing” 28 Caitlin Brown “White Beds” 28 Caitlin Brown “Birthday” 29 Kathryn Sidlowski “What’s Between Us” 32 Kirsten Stainer “Amends” 33 Graham Dyer “Le Bruit” 34 Samantha Pamnani “A Performance...” 35 J.D. Parker “Video Games” 36-37 Max Cuomo “Ode to the Beard” 40 Caitlin Brown “First Love” 41 Thomas Vurno “Brotherman” 60-61 Mitch Green “A Little Poem” 62
“Toenails” “The Rat” “The Lying Man” “The Missing” “Dance” & “Mirror” “Bare in Blue”
6 22-26 44 45-49 52-53 54-57
Prose (Non-Fiction) Jacob Lindberg Caroline Szuch Bryair Alston Mikhaela Schultz Jessica Wright
“Countertenor” 12-13 “Skipping Class” 16-19 “Unnoticed Changes” 30-31 “Unwelcome Intruder” 38-39 “Why I’d Rather...” 42-43
he pile builds slowly. At first, it’s only shavings. Then, one half-moon sliver. You have to pinch it between thumb and pointer, tug, and it falls to the tiled floor. You didn’t clip enough with your shiny, metal clippers and it stuck to the tough skin of your big toe, snagging itself on the rug before you realized and released it. The pile grows. You chop off bits of your other nails, pulling them free when they refuse to leave the nail bed, and nudge them into the pile next to the bathtub with your feet. You pull too hard on a nail that wasn’t ready and it digs itself deeper and rips a run through your toe like stockings splitting unevenly, revealing the peeled-grape flesh of your feet.
Blood trickles through the canyons of your toes, running down the crevices like a stream forming itself against the boundaries of your skin. It traces the patterns of your foot in red paint, a map of your life designed by your foot. The red stream flows down and around and back onto the floor where it pools to a spring, beside the tiny mountain of moons. If a traveller were to follow the course of that red stream he could camp between the canyons beside the river, watching the slivers of moon pile on top of each other, one by one. He’d follow the stream because the color is so unlike anything he’s ever seen before, because the path it twists is so intriguing, like it’s trying to tell a story with the way it winds. He’d follow the stream because its red water is warm enough to bathe in and he enjoys bathing while watching the slivers of moon pile up.
Lies a lie twisted spiraling growing with each word you must be careful what you say as you are treading dangerously on that tight rope at any time the wrong words could send you falling from your perch, leaving you shattered. -Alicia Vnencak
Six billion people
All searching for their best match Our eyes meet at last
can wield a knife; to cut us victims up, but then, can put us togetherembraced. -Kathryn Sidlowski
Power & Pain A new leader, worse than the others Silence. Loud steps to the throne, tyranny begins Giving orders without thought of good or bad
Working all day, suffering at night Lying in a warm bed, can he sleep with his conscience?
Bodies crowded onto one mattress, eyes open, dreaming Selfish and careless
Selfless and caring Neglectful to his country
Working to keep the children fed Silver in the dining room glistens and shines reflecting the perfectly decorated interior
Messy hands, no forks or knives Children given the finest of educations
One book to read, six eyes scrambling to share a page Blind to the real life outside the palace walls
The anger rumbles underneath the streets of poverty No limits, just demands
Following along, a life of limits Raise taxes, war and death
Stand up, stand together and fight! -Lindsay Reeth
Ode to Coffee W ake me up, my morning savior.
My burning cup of brewed earth. My cream-bathed, sugar-dazzled, auburn sea. My flavorsome energizer, which lures my eyelids toward the ceiling each dawn. My surprise-filled grainy blend. Will you be infused with hazelnut, honey, lemon, or just your pure, mocha-self this morning? My greatest addiction, you sit with me at the counter, tall dark and handsome. You tease my senses, tempt my lips. Your steaming, aromatic arms unravel, and draw my lips closer to you. You saturate my parched lips, replenish my fervor. My tastebuds only lover, I cannot leave before I lap up every last bit of you. Drown me in your strong, caffeinated, serene body. The sad truth is that as I become more alive, you diminish. But I savor every last drop of you until you are all gone. We will meet again tomorrow morning in my quiet kitchen, where you will invigorate me once again, for the long day ahead. -Samantha Pamnani
am a countertenor. For those who don’t know what that means, a countertenor is an adult male singer that sings in a “female” register. To achieve such a feat, most countertenors use a vocal technique called falsetto, where instead of phonating, or producing sound by using the whole vocal chord, as in speech, they vibrate the top half of the chords to produce a higher sound. Countertenors are a relatively new trend that began in the 1960’s with Alfred Deller, the first countertenor to perform and record as a soloist. Countertenors have two main purposes: singing the alto part in an all-male choir and singing castrato or countertenor roles in opera. For me, however, deciding to be a countertenor was a significant act of rebellion. When I started singing during the 5th grade, both my mom and me thought I was going to be a musical theatre leading man. For all my middle school years I lived up to both of our expectations; I was the lead in the school musical and made region chorus. However, all through this time period I was always able to sing the “female” parts quite comfortably. Despite being placed in the bass section, I would often find myself singing along with the women. One day, my middle school choir director, David Huneryager, heard me singing along with the women and jokingly said “Maybe you’re a countertenor.” That night I went home and googled countertenors and instantly became enamored by the technique and musicianship they displayed. That was the inception of my rebellion. Later on, during the tail end of ninth grade, I asked my voice teacher, Adrienne, if I could learn a countertenor aria just for fun. I thought my first attempt sounded great and I have stuck with it ever since. Nevertheless, being a countertenor does have its social stigmas. First off, I am singing what is traditionally a woman’s part. This comes with choir directors referring to me and the rest of the female altos as “ladies.” This is also accompanied by questions such as “How do you not hurt your voice?” and “What happens when your voice changes?” My answers usually involve something along the lines of, ‘countertenor is a technique and not the cause of a hormonal imbalance and my voice has changed.’ I defy what is acceptable in what I perceive to be a society with very conservative ideas of gender roles. Additionally, I am focused on opera over American musical theatre, which contradicts the expectations my mom had of me. At first I was very concerned about the social stigma associated with being a countertenor. People usually associate men singing high to either Frankie Vallie or Kurt from the tv show “Glee.” Both of these people are not representations of Countertenors. Frankie Vallie uses a type of falsetto that only vibrates small amounts of the vocal chord, while countertenors use reinforced falsetto, which vibrates almost all of the vocal chord. More importantly, the hardest comparison to live with was Kurt. The actor who plays Kurt does not have a fully changed voice, but I do. Singing in that register does not automatically equate to homosexuality. I posed these concerns to one of my
teachers, Jeffery Gall. Professor Gall is the head of the voice department at Montclair State University and was the the first countertenor to premiere at the Metropolitan Opera. I think he summed it up in the best possible way: â&#x20AC;&#x153;When I perform, I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t care what the audience thinks of me. My job is to convey the music to the audience to the best of my ability. If I accomplished that each night I know I did my job.â&#x20AC;? His advice really hit home and helped me overcome the social stigma to do what I love. I think the reason for my rebellion is that being a countertenor is a way for me to be unique. I like that countertenor is very technical; it takes high levels of practice of a very particular and fine technique. Countertenor is also extremely esoteric. It feels nice to be good at something most people do not understand. However, my decision does sometimes gives off first impressions that leave something to be desired. The typical reaction is shock followed by awe or disbelief. Rebellions come with their consequences and I have accepted mine. Living with this social stigma has become part of my life.
was a Wildflower surrounded by Weeds for so long that she believed herself to be one too until one day he came along uprooted her brought her home replanted her in his garden. Youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d never believe how she bloomed.
Red Rose Sitting still, just sitting there,
Waiting for someone to care. I stared at it in longing lust, A piece of beauty that I could almost touch. It spoke of beauty, spoke of pain, I loved the flower all the same. Sweet and tender intoxication, An utter symbol of dreaded temptation. The color of passion, the color of hate, I tell myself it has to be fate! Ours paths have crossed, This flower is mine! I see the thorns, I see them fine, My red-torn hand begins to cry. There is no regret, I do not feel pain. For a thousand years more would I remain, Lost in love, lost at war, Until a new flower blooms, for me to adore.
Do You Have What it Takes...
To Skip Class?
e have all experienced at least one, if not all of the following scenarios: (1) It’s a Monday morning, and you have had an extremely tiring weekend. You are starting to regret staying out so late on Saturday night. (2) It’s a sunny spring afternoon, and you are feeling lazy. You are debating whether or not to return to class with the rest of your friends or ditch and catch up on some sleep. You are a senior, already accepted to the college of your choice. (3) You have had the worst day of your life, and it’s only Wednesday; you still have half of the week left until you are free for the weekend. You sit pondering your options when you realize that you need to save yourself. Regardless of the scenario you find yourself faced with, all of these situations lead to one thing: skipping class. You see skipping class is an art in and of itself. There are multiple strategies and factors that need to be accounted for before any rash decisions
are made. I am sure that Van Gogh did not rush into making an important painting without coming up with a plan. You have to treat skipping class the same exact way, and if you do, you will be very successful. Factoring, manipulating, strategizing—I am here to teach you the ins and outs of skipping class. My years of experience will help you learn the important variables that need to be considered and the different approaches available. Preliminary Precautions: Before we get into the nitty gritty details, we need to take a step back and make sure that we are “foolproof.” You might think that because you have a solid plan in place for the physical “skipping” aspect that you will be fine, but you are far from right. There are two crucial preliminary precautions that you need to double-check: your track record and or reliability and the teacher of the class you are attempting to skip. Consider the importance of each of the following: You: YOU have the ability to make or break this plan. The behavior you have exhibited in class thus far has all been recorded in your teacher’s brain. Things like tardiness, participation, are you a problem solver or do you create them, and your organization are part of your track record. For those of you who are “angels” or “teacher’s pets,” you can disregard this section; it does not apply to you. Rebels, listen up. We are mischievous, we come to class late on a regular basis, miss a few assignments and say we didn’t know; we stick out. So, when it’s a Friday afternoon and your chair is empty in class, without giving a word’s notice, they will hunt for you, and give you that Saturday detention, trust me. The Teacher: This is the one preliminary precaution that you have no control over, the teacher. There are several different types of teachers, the chill one, the uptight serious one (literally the worst, do NOT try to skip), the clueless one, etcetera. Basically what I am trying to convey to you is that the cooler the teacher, the easier for you to skip. The difference between these types of teachers is the length they will go to get you into trouble. The chill teacher will know what you are doing, but be too lazy to punish you for it, whereas the uptight teacher will make you pay. The clueless teacher, well that’s just too easy, they do not even know you are there half of the time, so why would they notice when you are not?
Once you have thought heavily about the preliminary precautions and calculated your chances of survival you can continue creating your plan. Personally, this is the best part, coming up with your escape route. There are three classic options: “Planting the Seed,” “Senioritis,” and “The X and Y.” Each of the routes is useful in their own way, some more than others. Personally, I prefer the “Planting the Seed,” as it is foolproof. Before jumping the gun, remember to consider all of the options, like I said in the beginning. Planting the Seed: Planting the seed is almost always a guaranteed “out.” When you plant a seed, you need to water it, nurture it, and allow it some time to grow until it matures into a little plant. This is how you should treat your excuse. Plant the excuse in your teacher’s mind three days before you will be “excused” from class. You have two seeds to pick from: the upcoming appointment or the oncoming cold. Whichever seed you pick, plant it, and plant it well. Once you have done this, all you need to do is nurture your seed or in other words continually remind your teacher about the appointment or progress your cold symptoms. This is how you legitimize the excuse. It does not occur to a teacher that a student might be planning days in advance, so when you are not there they will think back to your seed and say “Oh, she must be at so and so” or “She was extremely sick the past few days.” Senioritis: In order to pull this escape route off, you have to be good, and I mean really good. For any beginners, this is simple, yet extremely risky, and you were warned. The Senioritis is the most blatant version of skipping class. You won’t need days of planning, certainly no seeds. All you do: skip. Truthfully, the only factor that can save you from your doom in this situation is your teacher, and once they figure out what you’ve tried to do, you’re done. The X and Y: The classic high schooler’s excuse as to why they were not in class. Have you every told your teacher “I was with Mr./Mrs. (fill in name) talking about (fill in something important)” but you were really in the student center messing around with your friends? Yes, you all have, and if you said no, you’re lying. Well anyways, this is The X and Y, telling your teacher that you were at “X” when you were really at “Y.” When filling in your blanks you need to: 1) Make sure that the faculty member you were “with” is safe (meaning, your teacher will not go and double check with them) and 2) Mention something important enough that it would be acceptable to miss class for.
If any of those two parts fail, you fail. Now that I’ve laid down the basics, given you the preliminary precautions, and explained each of the escape routes, it’s your turn. Before I leave you to get skipping, let’s review: • All scenarios lead to one thing: skipping. • Create a plan before jumping the gun • Remember the preliminary precautions (track record and the teacher) • Planting the Seed, The Senioritis, and The X and Y. There is nothing more that I can give to you, good luck, and remember practice makes perfect, do not get discouraged should you get caught the first time. I cannot explain to you the amount of time I have spent in Saturday detention in my beginning stages, but I am foolproof now, and you will be too.
After Valentineâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Day is My gift to myself
Swimming yellow eye
With a crooked glassy glare Become my omelette
Stress on stress on stress Papers due on the daily Get me to college
here’s no denying the warehouse looks different. New shadows cast from the swinging lights overhead extend toward me on the floor like vines. The dreadful silence is accompanied by a brutal cold, yet still, I’m sweating profusely; the droplets falling from my hair seem to freeze on my neck, making me twitch and shudder. Still, I can’t wipe them off, for my hands and feet are bound to a bolted down steel chair in the middle of the room. I’m shivering uncontrollably, but none of this bothers me. What does is the terrible mistake I know I’ve made. Suddenly, the garage doorway opens from the other side of the floor. A slow screeching marks the entrance of two shadowy figures, dripping wet from the beginnings of a brewing storm. Tom and Buddy walk in alone, taking their time to hang up their coats and hats before pulling the door down behind them. Only then do they begin to walk towards me, approaching in the same stone-faced manner we used to approach our interrogated in the old days. Tom walks up to me first with his head down; it almost looks like he’s been crying. Ice blue eyes flash up at me for an instant, and then look away, disgusted with the creature they see inhabiting my body. Wrinkles I’ve never seen before cobweb across his already pale face. Slowly, he turns his back to me, pulls out a pack of cigarettes and fades into the shadows, allowing Buddy to take his place in front of the chair. Buddy asks me softer than I thought he would, his breath tinted with alcohol and despair, “Why’d you do it Mack?” Meanwhile Tom’s turned back around, looking straight through me and waiting patiently for the answer; they think they have all day to do this. Only one of us is supposed to know where this hideout is. Before I respond, I remember what the FBI agent told me: that these are ruthless killers beside me, that I’m not one of them... but I’m not quite sure how I feel now; the money and promises suddenly aren’t as reassuring. Beneath Tom’s watered eyes, he sees my grief and mourns the loss of a friend. What pushed me to turn against these guys? We grew up together, stuck together. Tom and his twin brother Sammy found me on the street when I was only twelve. They were both sixteen. We quickly found our stories were similar: each of us had lost our parents to the police. Mine were “accidentally” gunned down trying to help an aging ex-mobster settle in to the apartment below ours on the east end, while the twin’s were jailed for a crime they didn’t commit so the cops could use their conveniently located home for poker nights off-hours. Realizing I was just like them, they brought me to their home, a dilapidated old colonial they were living out of on the south side.
We spoke about our pasts, our hopes for the future. Eventually we came to the conclusion that we’d have to learn to play by the ruler’s game. At first, we trudged up to the commons at night, using our size and wits to rob unsuspecting “high-society” folk, ourselves protectively cloaked in the shadows of the park’s great oaks. We justified these robberies with Tom’s understanding that the cops dine with the rich in return for protection, and then punish the poor during the day, knowing their victims have no law to protect them. Routine preaching like this solidified Tom as our very own kid Robin Hood of Boston, and soon, more and more homeless, penniless children began to join our club of thieves. Yet as our original trio grew to astonishing numbers, the need for collecting greater means of income became an increasing problem. Buddy, then a fairly new member, had loudly suggested that we start breaking into restaurants and local businesses around town. “Never!” Tom shouted. He rarely raised his voice to any of us, but had felt the need then. “Why would we hurt our own people, Buddy, southies stick together! Haven’t I always told you guys that?” We all knew this was true, Tom advocated that daily. But quickly spotting Buddy sitting in rejection with his mouth wide open, unable to summon an answer (all twohundred and fifty pounds of him), Tom reassured everyone. “But I do think you’ve got the right idea champ, we’ve got to go bigger if we want to keep the Crusaders up and running!” Our first bank robbery was a day to remember, five of us were posted outside on a street corner in the financial district, while me, Tom, Sammy and Buddy were sent in under Tom’s instruction to do the dirty work. It was sunny outside that day; no one was expecting the appearance of three masked teens wielding fake guns constructed from scrap metal, resourcefully picked out of a garbage barge docked in the port the previous night (by my suggestion I might add). Tom told us the plan was foolproof: get in and get out before the cops show up. Of course, the proposal didn’t go as smoothly as predicted by our confident general. As soon as we entered, a female clerk at the desk let out a terrifying scream, alerting the whole building of our presence. With all eyes on us, even with our black masks on, we were as terrified as the women, instantly freezing in our tracks. Thank god Tom was there. While we stood at the doorway glued to the floor, he strode up to the front desk, casually asking the teller to hand over “all the money you can fit in this bag, please.” Shocked, she rushed to the back, persuaded by Tom’s outstretched gun, and possibly, by his fine manners.
Once she had filled his sack to the brim, he turned away and walked his very own red carpet, relishing the moment: a sea of wealthy civilians had parted on their stomachs on either side of the blue tiled floor before him. “You guys ready?” He had asked us. We turned to him and happily grinned behind the cover of our masks. He sure was a character... As the years went on, robberies like this were commonplace. We’d maybe hit two banks around the city a month, always sure to stupefy the cop’s with our blank trails. By the time I was sixteen, we had hideouts all over the city in abandoned warehouses, apartments and sewers, rendering ourselves into true masters of escape. With
Tom leading us into battle, why would we ever be afraid of getting caught? He was a tactical genius, laying out intricate plans before each robbery as if a professional had taught him the tricks of the trade. This all changed in the winter of ’29 though. Our merry band of brothers had grown gluttonous, lazy. The city beyond our end lived to serve us. The cops hadn’t caught one of us yet and it seemed as if they never would. Before they ever reached the scene of our crimes, we vanished instantly beneath a veil of gunshots fired aimlessly into the sky and by use of our speedy black Chevys. Me, Sammy and Tom even began
to rob banks alone as a trio, just as we had when we first started thieving as kids. The same bank might be robbed twice in a week if we felt like it, so we couldn’t have been more surprised as we walked into a bank on Newbury Street one day, masked, with our Tommy-guns crossed over our chests, to find three cops staring at us from across the marble floor. My memory of the shooting is clear. People began screaming, the three cops pulled out their colt pistols simultaneously: they had been expecting us. Before we could react, Sammy, who had led us in, was hit three times in the chest. The bullets ripped through him, hurling him into us and breaking the glass door and windows behind us. “Lets go!” I had screamed to Tom, who was stunned, motionless on one knee, cradling his brother’s head in his arms. He wouldn’t look up at me, couldn’t. We never suspected this could happen. The cops began reloading their guns; the faint echo of police sirens began to sound on my right. It was time to go. I tugged at Tom’s shoulder and he brushed me away, collapsing onto his brother in a flurry of gasps. “Guys, quick, over here!” It was Buddy, yelling at us from across the unpaved road, stuffed in a car with about four other of our armed brothers. I suddenly gripped Tom, hoisted him off Sammy’s body and tossed him across my shoulders. Our men had reached the bank by this point, surrounding us in a tight circle while shepherding us safely to the car by providing cover fire, which continued into our car chase with the cops, lasting only as long as Buddy took to blow out the cop’s car’s tires with his legendary shooting. We had escaped, but after this, Tom was never the same. He stopped his routinely organized gatherings, started planning covert missions to find the men wom had killed his closest friend. Buddy, he and I would sit beneath a dim, hanging yellow light in the attic of the colonial, planning for hours. I didn’t like it, nobody did, but was Tom wrong for wanting revenge? I couldn’t initially argue with a man who, like me, had lost his whole family to the police, yet I tried to convince him that he had a family in us, his adopted brothers. Still, he wouldn’t listen, and Buddy would never question Tom’s authority, whether he agreed with him or not. Soon, we started bringing in captured cops who our spies thought matched the description of the shooters provided by Tom. They were dragged into the warehouse by new goony recruits, strapped down and mercilessly interrogated by Tom and Buddy. I was there too, but kept my distance from the two monsters as they beat innocent men repeatedly for a crime they didn’t commit. My stomach turned when Tom asked me to join in on the fun. “Avenge my brother,” he would say. I would let them handle it.
Tom quickly became aware that my hatred for the enforcers of the law only stemmed so far. Eventually, I grew disgusted with men I worked with. Never before had I felt so alone, surrounded by killers striving to please a man becoming as increasingly corrupt as the organization we had struggled tirelessly our whole lives to disrupt. Black and white posters with a terrifying sketching of Tom began appearing on streets all over the city, drawn to the ramblings of what his mutilated victims remember him as: pure evil. I have to say, the tall, dark figure wielding brass knuckles and a twisted smile in the posters didn’t look too far off from the man I saw lurking throughout our shady underworld on a daily basis. So when an FBI agent approached me the other day on a side street telling me they were planning a raid on one of our bases, and that any useful information given on the whereabouts of Tom Murphy would secure me from future imprisonment, I didn’t exactly keep my mouth shut. I walked away from the conversation content with a wad full of money in my back pocket. Though now, strapped to my chair and looking at Tom, as he begins to tear up once more while waiting for a loyal response to Buddy’s question that he knows isn’t coming, I feel obligated to protect my only remaining family from the imminent strike I’ve organized upon this very warehouse with the agent. I’ve already dismantled the Crusaders, the cops have arrested all our other members, closed down our other safehouses, why not just save Buddy and Tom? Tell them why I did it, that I was told they were nothing but murderers, planning to take me out eventually for my weaknesses. BOOM! The locked, reinforced door suddenly blasts open from the other side of the room. As we turn around to see several cops piling out from their car, now flattened beneath the weight of the door, I yell to Tom and Buddy, “Run!” Buddy’s already turned around, reaching to pick up his gun when rounds fired from every cop in the doorway hit him. He descends to the floor like a falling redwood, seemingly floating in the air for minutes before hitting the cement with a great thud. Meanwhile, Tom’s eyes never leave mine; he never even makes a move to grab the gun at his holster as one shot travels through his chest moments after Buddy’s fall. He crumples at my feet, eyes still open, confused and hurt. The lead cop strides across the room, brushes Tom away with his shoe like a bug and pats me on the shoulder whispering, “You did the right thing kid.” His black eyes, propped above a fake smile and a thick grey mustache, convince me otherwise. I’m just a common snitch, succumbing to the tyrant’s game in exchange for the only family I’d ever known. -Connor Cairoli
In the rain for Hours, and, hours, and hours. The water pours down on me and... I smile
Hold struggling souls With eyes fixed on stark walls Craving any explanation Keep hope -Caitlin Brown
Of immaturity and carelessness Eighteen years Of rules and advice Today a new life begins Enjoyable and interesting Filled with difficult decisions Without a right answer A free response question Surrounded by warm wishes Without a security blanket Given the pieces of the puzzle But no picture on the front of the box Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m scared to jump So I dive in Headfirst
s the sun and temperature outside began to drop, my anxiety increased awaiting the danger of the approaching Norâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;easter. Earlier in the day my family prepared for the worst by getting together all the necessary items needed to get through the storm. It was around eight when a tremendous gust of wind resembling a small earthquake shook my house. The tail end of the gust seized my power line like a lightning strike leaving my family bathed in a sea of darkness. My younger sister, who had not experienced a power-outage before, had a tough time understanding the concept. She kept trying to do things that required power. Countless times she tried warming food up in the microwave and, after wondering why it didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t start, realized it needed electricity. The hardest part of having no electricity for my sister meant that she was disconnected from the world around her.
As the saying goes, “to each their own.” Everyone in my family felt the repercussions of having no electricity. It affected everyone in ways that prohibited them from engaging in their usual activities. Even my two dogs could not continue their normal routine because of the new sleeping arrangements. The first night was one of the most unforgettable nights in my life. I remember my sister repeatedly asking me, “How many fingers do I have up?” through the pitch black room. It was the first time in years since we had slept in the same room and instantly I missed my own space where I could be free from her annoyance. I yearned for the light where I could lose myself in books and be unaware of the time when I finally came back. Without any power, my secluded paradise was far beyond my grasp. It was my mother yelling “Don’t forget you can’t open any of the refrigerators or freezers!” that pulled me out of my trance. In attempts to conserve the battery life of my phone, I cut it off and decided to embrace the rare moment where my entire family was home and unoccupied. “UNO tournament, living room table, five minutes, and bring your flashlight!”, I roared loud enough to reach everyone’s ears. It was my sister’s quickwitted response that caught me off guard. “How exactly are we supposed to know when five minutes is?” Thankful for the lack of light to mask my facial expression, I stared at the space where I pictured my sister to be spread out lounging on the soft cloth couch across the room from me. When did she become so sarcastic? And why hadn’t I noticed? This observance of the change in my sister’s personality was among the many unnoticed traits that surprised my family members. I was not the only one who came across this thought. Several times the words “Since when do you like that?” or “I had no clue you liked that type of stuff” could be heard as we learned the new interests of our family. The many different topics and conversation shifts probed by the nor’easter that kept us shut in allowed us to catch up and learn about the details of each others’ lives that we wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to do with power. A week later when our power was restored, I found it to be unnatural back in my secluded paradise. I shut off all the lights on the floor of my room and yelled to my sister across the hall, “How many fingers do I have up?” -Bryair Alston
Whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Between Us Broken because
of truthful lies that glisten in the sun, reflecting off the windows. Hidden carefully between us like the coffee stained newspaper in the front seat of your car. I glance at it and it flickers and I go back to ignorance.
Are uneasy No simple Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m sorry Can reconstruct the burnt bridges Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s life -Kirsten Stainer
Le Bruit (Noise)
’m standing on the platform. A train approaches and hurts my ears. I board the train. People are too loud. I arrive at my stop- there’s more unnecessary noise. It’s as if it never stops. I walk to my house. On my way, I hear cars, phone conversations, crying babies, rapAll of it is too loud. I arrive at my house. I start my computer and turn on some music. My music. It’s Chopin, my favorite. Finally, I can think. -Graham Dyer
A Performance At Dinner We’re sitting at the table clothed in white and you’re overflowing with stories, drips of emotion hanging on every word. Light from candles dancing on your fingertips, your personal puppets, with which you act out each word that escapes from your mouth. As your palms tense and relax, you distract me from the story. Veins tangled about your bones, flowing like rivers. God, I swear I’ve never seen hands quite like yours. Rugged, but soft as silk. Ornate, but beautifully bare. When they rested, I almost applauded. Please don’t hesitate from letting them reach over, grasp my lonely hands, replace speech.
ours, like grains of sand Uncontrollably escape between our fingers As we watch those dancing pixels shift across the wall, Who seem to have no end of amusing tricks to occupy us with For as soon as a mission ends, a quest begins, and after that a new battle In the shadow of the pattern that we see The list of new virtual adventures stretches on for infinity. Though these controllers feel as if they are mere extensions of the body Though our minds think as easily in words as they do in game controls Is it right for us to control these characters in such a manner To make an assassin swoop with blade in hand Or to make a virtual musician strum notes in our rock band To make a plumber constantly hop onto the head of fire breathing turtle Or to make a cute electric mouse go thunderbolt a Squirtle? Sadly these characters are trapped in a perpetual cycle until the end. Caged in the many cells that contain them The discs, the screens, the controllers, the computers: their programming. A series of ones and zeros that after a vast amount of combinations Seem to weave the beings we control into their existence. If these characters have been programmed to do what they do, Is there a chance that weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re programmed too? Programming, weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve learned, gives everything their natural skills And at the same time limits them to guidelines and rules. This is the blessing and curse of all things that be or will be. Birds are programmed to fly and scavenge for seeds Yet lack proper data to farm for their needs; Sharks are programmed to be fierce kings of the deep But lack necessary coding to stay still while they sleep. Then there are us, whose code is much longer With scripts large enough for two plays instead of one. However, holes still exist in our genetic blueprint Making these barriers seem cruel and unjust. But boundaries could also be good-These margins restrain us from delving too far from our place Stopping us from pulling away the mask of the universe to see its true face.
If we continue to look at how we’re programmed and why, We may find answers that would be better left undiscovered. Some forbidden knowledge buried underneath an endless sea of code Like what programmed us, and whether it can control What we do, like when we control Minecraft’s Steve to go dig a hole Or are we simply following our code like some villager NPC Not being driven but gently pushed by a force we can’t see. There are many similarities between our virtual counterparts and us. An unknown player programmed us both with gifts we use to thrive And boundaries to keep us in our natural place. Each person, like each game, is slightly different from the rest, But at heart they are still just ones and zeros being shaped Like clay to whatever the programmer has in mind. Though virtual, their existence is meaningful to mankind. Videogames allow for people to escape, And allow their own realities to temporarily fade away Into the virtual world of the game they’re playing. Here they can be anyone, do anything that they wish or desire-To be a millionaire, a fighter, or a hero that bends fire. They can pick to be good or evil and whether to save the distressed damsel Mary. We enjoy playing regardless because we value their binary.
An Unwelcome Intruder T
he familiar smell of a warm sea breeze hits my freckle-painted sunburnt nose as I leap down from my dad’s poor excuse for a pickup truck. Bob Marley’s melodious voice drifts out from my dad’s old cassette player. It has always been a ritual for us to play his albums on the way down to the shore. His songs of hope, life, love, and serenity set the mood for our Sunday outing. The last words I hear are, “singing don’t worry, about a thing,” before I slam the dilapidated car door of the decrepit old pick-up truck in anticipation to get the day started. This silences the musical genius for the time being. The driver side door slams shut soon after mine. The car beeps as my dad comes over to me and presses the faded lock button on the car keys. I look up at him with an expression of pure innocence and wonder. An eager smile is plastered across my young face as I shift my stare to the ever-changing tides just beyond
the boardwalk. A joyful shriek escapes from my mouth as I run ahead of my father. The hot asphalt meets my feet. Discomfort follows and a strange sensation spreads throughout them causing me to realize that my purple and green little mermaid flip flops still lie on the floor on the passenger side of the pickup. Too excited to turn back I continue to sprint across the parking lot in a mad dash to reach the boardwalk. I soon reach the metal railings of the boardwalk that separates everyday suburbia from the beach. I grasp the metal that is slightly cooler than the air and hoist myself over the railing. A rush of adrenaline floods my system as I am airborne for a moment before touching down upon my 7-year-old version of paradise. The beach has always been my escape from reality. A place I can go to clear my head and reflect on my life. Even from the tender age of seven I found peace in every aspect it had to offer. In a way the beach is always changing, but never changing. I clung to this idea that the beach would always be there for me. It was and still is my sense of security. Sitting here in my living room two weeks after Hurricane Sandy I am in utter disbelief. My high-definition blue ray television shows images of complete devastation. The hurricane struck hard, wiping out everything in its path. Like an unwelcome visitor it intruded upon my beloved beach. Houses lay in ruins, or were swept away all together by the power of the angry sea and the wrath of the wind. Floating docks were shattered and the debris floated down the canals and lagoons. Decades of family history and memories were lost because of water damage. The hurricane claimed the lives of many people who were too stubborn to evacuate. After seeing the devastation and damage done to the neighborhoods, they showed images of the beach itself. At first I did not even recognize it as the place I had been going to since as long as I could remember. My paradise had become a wasteland. As I sit here trying to take in everything that has happened in the past two weeks I take out my fully charged iPad and put on Bob Marley. His melodious voice drifts from the tiny speakers, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Every little thing is gonna be alright.â&#x20AC;? His song of hope picks up my dismal mood. For now the beach remains a wasteland, but I have confidence that with time my paradise will prosper once again. Now it is time to give back to the beach that has always been there for me; it is time to help restore the shore. -Mikhaela Schultz
Ode to the Beard O
h beard, oh wonderful scarf of hair, oh beautiful neck warmer, chin itcher and girl tickler, king of all types of hair You never cease to amaze me You keep me amused in class, playing with you definitely beats learning biology, You keep me warm in the cold, conveniently removing the need to wear any scarf Running the risk of a detention doesn’t compare to the joy of having you You may be on me just for playoffs, but you’ll always be in my heart People tell me to shave, I tell them to stop being jealous The day I shave you is the day I lose a friend, A companion, A lover, My soul mate, My beard. -Maximilian Cuomo
First Love Music radiated down through my spine
As my eyes met yours from across the floor. The closer that your body came to mine, My heart strings rhythmically pulsed more and more. Swaying as one from side to side with each Change in key, raised me from reality. My mother desperately tried to teach Me to love; with you it came naturally. When your heart would flutter, mine followed suit. You never had to say “I love you too”; I could tell you loved me just by the cute Way you tickled my ear. Those first days, you And I could not part for a short minute. Today, when your heart fluttered, mine didn’t.
Why I’d Rather Be A Dog...
...Than The President
As a child reading Walt Disney’s fairytales, I always imagined myself someday
becoming a queen or princess like in his stories. As royalty, they always got attention, people always wanted to be around them, they lived in a large palace, and they held all the country’s power. But as a child growing up in the United States, knowing there were no queens or princesses, I looked to the president. Similar to a queen’s palace, the president lives in the White House, a mansion filled with elaborate decor, a bowling alley, a movie theater, and 134 rooms on its four floors. The president travels the world, is liked by most, meets new people, is almost guaranteed anything he wants,
and rules the most powerful country in the world. The job sounds intriguing; however, I would rather be a dog than the president. Although the president lives in a mansion, travels the world and makes decisions, being the president is the worst job. The president is always working; he has no vacations, no sick days, and no weekends. Making the job more difficult, the president works daily with the nation’s most controversial issues. Also, the president isn’t only criticized for his leadership skills, but he is scrutinized by the public who comments on everything from his untied shoe lace during a meeting with the Russian ambassador to the details of his domestic policy. Plus, after a minor slip up, he has to worry about it becoming tomorrow’s headline in the New York Times. Unlike the most powerful leader in the world who deals with irritating people daily, a dog can live free of any responsibilities. A dog lives with an owner who enjoys having it around and is responsible for feeding it, cleaning it, and playing with it. A dog doesn’t even have to think about what it wants to eat; every time it returns to its bowl, a meal is awaiting it. Also, a dog has the option of interacting with people or walking away without an explanation. Being able to walk away mid conversation without reason would be helpful during a presidency; however, this action would land you that unwanted headline. Because of that, as a president, you’ll always pretend to be engaged in what people have to say. As a dog your possibilities are endless. If a dog decided to roll in the dirt, it could; however, if as the president you wanted to roll around on the White House lawn, the public image you know you’re supposed to be demonstrating would stop your urge, and if that didn’t, then your secret service members would. Even after winning a reelection or passing a new bill, despite your extreme levels of excitement, rolling around on the White House lawn would be extremely unacceptable and make people question your sanity. As the president, you would need to hide your inner feelings to appeal to the public and maintain the presidential image. Every time the president is in public he is expected to look a certain way: professional. This means the president must always have his clothes perfectly ironed, his shoes shined, and his hair precisely trimmed. However, dogs are able to wake up after a long night’s rest and have absolutely no one tell them their breath smells or their hair looks slightly messy. Because of the public’s constant judgement and the expectation of upholding the presidential reputation, the life of the president is extremely boring and phony. Considering the life of a dog is much more genuine and carefree, I would much rather be a dog than the president. -Jessica Wright
The Lying Man M
y mom stuffed me into a black garbage bag, a dull painted costume. The bag hung over the cool, smooth seat. Many people gathered in this tight room that felt like a gas chamber. I wasn’t alone in my gloomy outfit. The others had differently sized black fashion drooped over their bodies, except for the man lying down. I envied him.
My mom kept placing her hand on my arm, signaling me to stop twitching. I looked up and saw no stillness around the room, everyone shook--except for the man lying down.
I couldn’t help moving; I was uncomfortable in this death dress. The people around me seemed to reflect my painful mood, but they all wept, except for the man, lying down. Everyone was signaled to stand in the pen to observe the man lying down. Well. I thought this was suitable. We could observe the man to learn how to be perfectly still, how to dress, how to act; for, he was on display, lying down in a small bed. But, he had his eyes closed. And his hands crossed on his chest. Oh, he’s lucky, I thought. He looks peaceful, at rest. People found this upsetting, him being at peace, my mom included. When we walked back to our cold-stoned stalls, we had to be apologetic to three people, who also dressed in dark clothes. But they took the gloominess to a whole other level. On their worn, pale expressions deep lines were sliced into their faces. I wondered why I was apologizing to them. I had done nothing wrong. I was only 6 and this was my first funeral. -Kaitlyn Tatulli
The Missing “Did he call?” Gus shook his head. Melanie crossed to the window, pulled the curtain aside, and peeked outside. “He’s late,” said Melanie. “You always jump to the worst conclusions. I’m sure everything’s fine,” said Gus, taking a sip from his beer. After twenty years of marriage, he knew there was nothing he could do to calm her nerves. “Yeah, well I’m not so sure.” “Why don’t you sit down? Waiting by the phone isn’t going to make it ring,” said Gus. Melanie sighed. “Let me make you some tea,” said Gus. He touched her folded arms as he crossed to the kitchen, but Melanie shied away from his hand. “I remember he said he’d call once he got there. It’s been almost an hour, he must be there by now,” said Melanie. “You know that clock is 10 minutes fast.” “I told you to fix that over a month ago, Gus,” Melanie said, checking her watch. “Besides, it’s only four minutes fast. Oh, why hasn’t he called yet?” “I used to believe the worst, just like you, but it’s too stressful, Mel,” said Gus. The ring of the phone put an end to the silence growing between them. Melanie stared at the phone, but couldn’t bring herself to answer it. In her mind, the voice on the other end was heavy with the burden of bad news. “You never mentioned anything about this before, Alec,” Gus said. Melanie let out a sigh of relief. She knew that tone of voice. It was the one reserved for misbehaving sons. The conversation was short, and Gus didn’t do a lot of the talking. The moment Gus hung up the phone, Melanie began the interrogation. “Why didn’t he call sooner?” asked Melanie. “He said they began working on the project as soon as he got to Jordan’s house.” “And what didn’t he mention before?” “Well they haven’t finished the project yet, and it’s due tomorrow, so Alec’s going to stay over Jordan’s tonight and go straight to school from there tomorrow morning.” Melanie rolled her eyes. “Are you serious, Gus? You let him do that? It’s a school night for goodness sake!” Melanie began pacing. “He was supposed to be home after dinner. Why does
he always leave everything to the last minute? I doubt he’s even doing a project.” Her voice trailed off. She continued to pace the room, shaking her head. The tea Gus placed on the coffee table remained unnoticed. Melanie woke up sweating that night, just like she always did when one of her boys wasn’t under her roof. She glanced at the clock. 5:37. Might as well get up now, she thought. Only a little more than an hour before she had to drag the boys out of bed. She slipped out of her bedroom, leaving Gus blissfully unaware of the chaos that was her morning routine. In the living room, she turned on the TV and let the channel 4 news reporter awaken her completely. Her inability to focus on the overly peppy woman’s voice led her to pick up the stained blue photo album resting on the coffee table. She thumbed through the familiar pictures, stopping when she read the caption Alec’s first day of kindergarten. Just seeing his face relaxed the muscles that had been made of steel since the night before. * * * It was hardly 6 o’clock when little hands tugged at the covers. “Mommy! Mommy! I wanna go to school! Get up mommy!” Alec’s voice squeaked through the darkness. Melanie turned on her side, and was greeted by glowing blue eyes. “Ten more minutes, buddy.” She made room for him under the covers, and patted the space next to her. Alec crawled in and nestled himself next to her. She smoothed his hair as she spoke. “You seem pretty excited, little man. You’ve even got your sneakers on and everything!” Melanie said, acknowledging the brush of firm rubber against her legs. She wrapped him in her arms, not yet ready to let him go off on his own. “What time does the bus come, mommy?” She tried to mirror the excitement in his voice, “7:15, but we don’t want to miss it, do we?” Alec shook his head fiercely. “So we’ll get to the bus stop a little early.” “Okay, so let’s go!” Alec sprang out of bed, and tried with all his might to pull his mother from her bed. “Come on, mommy!” “Alright, alright,” Melanie groaned. “We’ve got a lot to do this morning!” Her feet weren’t on the floor for five seconds when Alec took off down the hallway. Melanie remained on the bed, rubbing her eyes for a moment before she took off after him. By the time she got downstairs, Alec was already standing by the front door, backpack in hand. His shirt was on backwards and his shoes didn’t match. “ Just where do you think you’re going mister?” Melanie scooped him up in her arms, sur-
prised by how big he had become. She carried him to the kitchen and placed him in a chair. She gave him breakfast, pampering him with Lucky Charms, his favorite cereal. She fixed his clothes, brushed his hair, and tied his now matching shoes. As she walked him to the bus stop, her hands instinctively tightened around his shoulders. When they arrived, she knelt down so her face was level with his. “You ready?” she asked. “Yeah!” Alec shouted without hesitation. His eyes darted up and down the street for a glimpse of yellow. Melanie stood behind him as he entertained himself with rocks and sticks until he saw the bus approaching. “Mommy, it’s coming!” he yelled back to her. “I know. You sure you’re ready Alec?” Melanie asked again, holding his face in her hands. “Yup,” he replied, squirming out of her grasp. The bus hissed to a stop, and he ran towards the open doors. “I love you!” Melanie called after him. “Love you too mommy!” Alec said, without turning around. Melanie watched as the bus pulled away, then cried the entire walk home.
* * * Sniffling, she flipped to the end of the album, making sure there was room for the additions that were to be made in two months. She touched the empty pages, and imagined them filled with colorful pictures and smiling faces. A senior prom, a graduation, and an 18th birthday would soon be immortalized on those pages. Melanie shut the album and placed it back on the table before she got too sentimental. She picked up the cup full of cold tea that Gus had left the night before, carried it to the kitchen, dumped it out, and made herself a fresh cup. She drank it quickly, and then went back upstairs to begin the morning routine. It was 7:18 when the door slammed shut and the boys ran down the street, late as usual. Despite her best efforts, Melanie could never get her sons out the door early, or even on time for that matter. She was in the kitchen cleaning up breakfast. Gus had finally migrated from the bed to the couch, and was now flipping through the channels in the next room over. “A little help would be nice,” Melanie said. Gus glanced over his shoulder. “Looks like you’ve got it under control to me.” With that, they sunk into their usual routines. Melanie washed and folded clothes and made beds, while Gus became a permanent fixture on the couch. Melanie was lost in the hum of the vacuum when Gus appeared in front of her, face white and eyes wide. “What, did we run out of Oreos?” Melanie asked,
turning off the vacuum. Gus was silent for a moment. “You need to see the news.” It was 9:56 when Melanie stopped moving for the first time all day. She sat frozen in front of the TV, staring blankly as the headlines flashed by reading, “Shots fired at Oak Ridge High School” and “Police surround building, students and gunman still inside.” They had been reporting the same thing for almost an hour. Melanie’s mouth hung open, but no words came out. She scrambled for her keys. “Where are you going?” Gus asked. “I have to go! I have to get Alec!” “The police have the place surrounded, nobody’s getting anywhere near that school right now, Mel.” Gus eased the keys out of her grip and placed them back on the counter. “He’s in there, my baby’s in there,” she said as she sunk onto the couch, cradling his hand in her hands. It was 12:17 when the headlines changed. “Three dead, seven injured” they read. Melanie scrambled for the remote and switched the TV off. The house was silent as tears began to pour down her face. What if they were talking about her Alec? When her legs finally allowed her to walk, she climbed the stairs to his room and collapsed on his bed. She picked up one of his sweatshirts and put it on. It smelled like him. She closed her eyes and imagined it was him there, hugging her for the first time in months. There was a firm knock on the door, and Melanie’s heartbeat was almost as fast as her feet running down the stairs. Gasping for breath, she pulled open the door and was greeted by her son, looking at her with his best attempt at puppy dog eyes. “Please don’t be mad, I didn’t mean to skip school to-” Alec started, but was cut off by his mother’s arms being flung around him neck. She didn’t say anything, but he could tell something wasn’t right by the warm drips on his shoulder. “Why are you wearing my sweatshirt?” he asked as they walked into the house. Melanie remained silent as she turned on the TV. Alec sunk onto the couch and shook his head. When he finally lifted his head, Melanie noticed his face was damp. She sat down next to him and rubbed his back as he buried his face into her shoulder. She finally exhaled all the worry, anger, and fear that had been growing inside her since the night before. Her little boy had come home from school. -Alicia Vnencak
irls stripping. Costumes flying. Feathers and rhinestones of skin-tight costumes fall to the floor. The smell of hairspray circles the room. Thousands of pores are filled with makeup. Red lipstick stains their lips. Moans from the bright mouths of stressed girls fill the air. Mirrors are crowded with unfamiliar faces. Salty tears and sweat trickle down the fake faces of dancers. The girls dressing room is a place where the fake makeup-filled masks are taken off. One can see the true pain, stress, and fatigue of these girls in the dressing room. But all the girls apply makeup to cover up these unacceptable emotions. They run to the stage, where the judges are just as covered in makeup as the girls. The girls step into the character of their song and try to behave like someone foreign to them.
very morning I go to visit my best friend. She’s my twin, and I love to spend time with her. Sadly, she is trapped in this room and is never allowed to leave. She’s a great listener. I try to get her to talk, I see her lips move, but no words ever form. She always looks at me with serious eyes, eyes like my own. There is a glass barrier between us so I cannot actually touch her. However, when I reach to press my hand on the glass, so does she. One day I decided that I would break the barrier that separates us. I took a rock and smashed the glass. My mother screamed. I was not listening. Where was my friend? I looked at the glass pieces and saw bits of her on the floor. “Oh no!” I thought. I killed my best friend. -Kaitlyn Tatulli
Bare in Blue
aughter. Giggling. Laughter. Roaring. Laughter. All this was directed at the person standing pant-less in the cafeteria. Oh. Ok. That person was me. I couldn’t tell what people thought was funniest. The fact that I had been wearing superman underwear, that they thought I shared underwear with my brother, or that I was pant-less. * * * I was standing in line in the supermarket waiting to be rung up by this little old lady with white grayish hair, when Findley, who had been gone for about two years and 6 months, stepped in line. “Annie? Is that you?” Findley said in an awkward deep voice, which I was unaccustomed too. “Findley!” I turned around, arms open wide. No one called me Annie anymore, that’s how you knew Findley and I went way back. When I entered high school I introduced myself as Anne. I wanted to seem more mature, but now I miss that childish sense when people say Annie. It makes me think of when my mom used to tuck me in bed every night and give me a kiss on the right side of my head just above my ear since I would always sleep on my left side. Now I have to battle the fears of night monsters all on my own. “Excuse me dear, are you ready to check out?” the little old lady asked. “O yes, I’m sorry.” I handed her the four dollars and twenty-three cents I had left from the tips I made at the ice cream store. The new frozen yogurt place just a block away had taken a lot of business from us, branding that it was healthier. There is just as much sugar that will turn to fat as there is fat in ice cream, and I don’t know why people would choose that over homemade Moo’s Palace ice cream. I had been a loyal customer at Moo’s since I was five years old, sometimes even buying two a day. Then I hit my teenage years and realized that ice cream isn’t healthy for me, so I decided to work for them. “So what have you been up to all this time that you have been gone?” I said while waiting at the edge of the register for him to check out. “Well right after we left here we moved to Nashville. After a year of living in Nashville my dad wasn’t able to get a record deal, so we packed up our things and headed to Austin.” Findley chuckled sarcastically shaking his light brown straggly hair back and forth. “Austin was great, I was even able to pick up the harmonica and play a few nights with some of the kids at UT, but life was too good for it to last long. About
five days ago my dad got a call that my grandma was very sick. So here we are back in Charlestown, Virginia.” Findley was very monotone when he talked about the past, or was that just his new voice? For some reason his emotionless voice brought a sense of comfort. He walked towards me after getting his change. Noticing that I couldn’t stop staring, he reached towards me for another hug, his long lanky arms encompassing my entire body. “It’s so good to have you back,” I said into his chest. Things continued like they had always been between us. When he left, it was just out of sight out of mind. But now that he was back we picked up where we left off. “What are you doing tonight?” Findley said. “Nothing, you wanna hang out?” I said knowing that my mom would definitely not want me going out on school night. She had been questioning trust ever since high school, but I was able to get away with most things, so I don’t know why she would have anything to question. I bet if I told her I was hanging out with Findley though she wouldn’t mind a bit. She always talked about what a sweet kid he was. I think she only liked him because we had known him for so long. He was the one to question if she were to question any of my friends. He was always going out on weeknights, smoking pot with his boys, and causing a ruckus. Since his dad did almost the same thing, all he had to worry about was the police. For me, I am more afraid of my mom than anyone else. But yes, my mom always loved Findley no matter how lost he seemed. She always had this sense of comfort that I wouldn’t get in trouble, and if I did it would something silly that you could laugh about. “Yeah I haven’t eaten dinner. Let’s go get some pizza. I’ll drive,” Findley said. “Sounds good to me.” We hopped into his red, keyed up, and dented Honda that he had paid for with all the money he made in New Orleans. The pizza place was only two minutes away. We could have totally walked like I did with most of my friends. At dinner we were lost in conversation. His eyes were like my dog’s. Yet I could still not stop staring into them. There was something so captivating about him. Dinner flew by. There was still so much we hadn’t gotten to, and it felt like we would never get this same moment back. “Do you have to get back by a certain time?” Findley said as he watched the man scrape off the last bits of pizza from the oven. “No, not all!” Even though I knew my mother would not be very happy about that.
“Well my friend Ian told me there is this blues gig in the city and some big time guys are suppose to show up if you want to go,” Findley said. He checked his phone for the text message that he had gotten about two hours ago. “That’s actually where I was headed before I saw you.” Findley always knew about the hot spots because he was so good at music that he was always playing with the older kids. My heart was pounding as I checked to see three missed calls from my mom. I guess he could see the look on my face when he said, “I could drop you off if you need to be home too.” “No, no let’s go. I just have to use the bathroom real quick.” I didn’t have to go to the bathroom at all. I had to call my mom. I told her that I had seen Jane at the supermarket and that she needed help on her project so I was just going to sleep over there. Somehow, miraculously, that worked, and my mom didn’t question me in the slightest. Even though she didn’t know I was with Findley, she could still feel that sense of comfort that he gave off. We threw out our plates and said our farewell to the man at the register standing there with his arms on the counter and barely able to keep his eyes open. We hopped in the car and drove 45 minutes south to the city. It was amazing how on my way to the supermarket I was complaining about how school was really weighing me down,
and now I didn’t care about work and could stay up till three o’clock in the morning. I wasn’t really sure what to expect since I didn’t really know what his music friends were like. It was a small little bar café. I was like a kid in a candy store. I looked around wide eyed. The saxophone player on stage was just lighting up the night. The parent situation was taken care of, and here I was free to enjoy myself. As mature as I felt, the way Findley said my name, Annie, felt so right. We were at perfect equilibrium. Long story short, we danced the night away. And that was the night I fell in love with Findley. We tried to leave at five o’clock in the morning, but we both ended up falling asleep in his car. At six o’clock the phone rang; it was my mom making sure I was up for school being that I had supposedly slept over Jane’s house. Findley was groggyeyed. “Findley! Findley! We have to get back to school! If I don’t make first period they will call my mom and she will definitely know something happened!” I said. The life of being a teenager in high school set back in. I then called up Jane and told her we had to stop by because I needed to borrow some clothes. I didn’t really have time to explain why I was with Findley or what was going on, but that is when she gave me her brother’s superman underwear. So here I was, going to school wearing her brother’s superman underwear. They were a little uncomfortable, but it wasn’t the worst thing in the world. Well it wasn’t until lunch. At 12:01 I walked into the cafeteria, hungry and just happy to be out of class. I went straight over to the crisp apples because I could eat that while I scanned for other food. It always took me a while to decide what I was going to eat. At that moment, as soon as I picked up the apple I turned to the left and saw Findley walk through the door with a bouquet of flowers. My jaw dropped. What was he doing? Was he going to ask me out in front of everybody? That was so unlike him, but maybe this was the new Findley. His huge smile was contagious. We were about ten feet apart when all of the sudden the button on my pants popped and my pants fell down. He and everyone else in the cafeteria saw my superman underwear! Everything could have fallen apart then. I could have been the laughing stock even though I kind of already was. It was almost the worst moment in the world, but then Findley saved the day. He did the unthinkable. What no other guy would dare to do. He pulled down his pants and was wearing the same superman underwear! I hugged him like when I first saw him. This time I was trying to make my arms wrap around his entire body. Everyone stopped, shocked when this happened. And now we were the ones that were Laughing. Chuckling. Laughing. Giggling. Laughing.
y brother shot me in the face in a dream. He used a Chinese pistol With the cartridge in the front Sweat rolled from the barrel And fell on my forehead That’s what woke me up. Plop. He’s standing over me Feet an inch from my ears The couch sinks from his pressure Skin shines like wet porcelain His cheeks are little depressions Ease up there, brotherman It’s just us Mom and Dad are asleep. Ok? Remember, how we would take our skateboards down that hill Going so fast that the boards would shake And the only rational thought was to jump The black wash of pavement, our unwelcomed savior Remember buddy? Huh brotherman? Or the fires? The secret Molotov cocktails made in the garage Black hoodies and shoes, In front of school Remember how we would argue over who got to throw it Make up debts and ridiculous promises The bottle, watching the blazed dishrag turn in the air Slowly, as if in water The breaking of glass, like a flock of pigeons The fire spreads in all directions, Eating up the air and asphalt The school swooned against the heat And we would dance around it like Indian movie extras The fire’s hot breath would suffocate our skin Daring each other closer till the gas lapped our toes Why did you have to dive in? And when you weren’t home And everyone at school would tell stories about their siblings Indian burns and wet willies
I’d make things up. Rotary molars of a chainsaw Pouring sawdust on the bathroom floor TSA corralling you into a secret room The slap of rubber against skin, the yelp, Cereal and scotch. The fake memories are just as real as the real ones. Even when you weren’t, you were. I took little bits of you and enhanced them You’re my genetically engineered corn, Thriving in the pink soup of my mind You’re my big brother Expert on taboo, prince of impulse Rabid animal. It was you who pushed me First into the mud You, who broke Jason’s nose You, who took her out of class Her smile sliding against my stupid face Perfection in front of our eyes.
A Little Poem My vocabulary is good
As good as something good My spelling is impeckable And my rhyming is great -Mitchell Green