WRITING THE PAST A collection of poems based on stories of FAMILY HISTORY by SIXTH GRADE STUDENTS at GREENS FARMS ACADEMY
TABLE OF CONTENTS
! INTRODUCTION ABOUT THIS BOOK “MANY YEARS AGO” “THE FIRST GAME” “THE NAVY” “SLEEP IS IMPORTANT” “ALMOST LATE” “FIRST PERFORMANCE” “CHRISTMAS MIRACLE” “GRAMPS” “JOHN KIRSCH” “BLIND DATE” “HARSH LIFE” “VICTORY?” “REMEMBER?” “CHICKEN HUNTER” “GOODBYE” “THE SAILBOAT RACE” “THE BEAV” “DESTA” “RUN” “FOUND HIM” “WINTER BREAK” “THE ACCIDENT” “NOT GOING TO BE THERE” “RED JEANS” “SMALL ONE” “TWIN TOWERS” “JEFF” “CHAIRMAN MAO” “I AM A HUNTER” “SEA CAPTAIN” “THE RIDE” “SLEDDING, WINTER 1939” “LIGHT” “I COULD KILL THAT DOG” “WILD IN THE ARCTIC” “CROW” “MY DAD’S GRANDFATHER” “SHIPWRECK” “POCAHONTAS” “A NEW BEGINNING” “HOME” “SHRINKING HEAD” “SISTER” “8:46 A.M.” “GRAND CANYON” “1944” “THE BIG GAME”
2 3 5 5 6 6 7 7 8 8 9 10 10 11 12 13 14 14 15 15 16 16 16 17 18 18 19 19 20 20 21 21 22 22 22 23 24 24 25 25 25 26 27 27 28 28 29 29 30
“OVERDUE” “NEW TOY” “RUN” “THE LOBSTERMEN” “MOHONK” “CAN I HAVE SOME WATER?” “JENNIFER’S FRIENDS” “ONE MORE” “FLYING” “ROPE” “MAPLE SYRUP” “JORGE”
30 31 31 32 32 33 34 34 34 35 35 36
! The assignment was simple: each sixth grader had to sit down with a relative— father, mother, grandparent, brother, sister, uncle, aunt—and ask to hear a story about an event that happened in his or her family’s past. This event could have happened a week ago, six months ago, 60 years ago, or hundreds of years ago—the time period wasn’t important. What was important were the conversations; the transfer of stories through generations; the tiny emotional details of setting and character. Finally, each sixth grader had to take this story and turn it into a poem. The assignment was simple. The results speak for themselves.
—Ben Gott Sixth Grade English Teacher Greens Farms Academy http://www.gfacademy.org
ABOUT THIS BOOK Contributors Abby C. Abigail T. Alex C. Alex W. Anthony C. Arman O. Bailey M. Bella L. Carolina C. Caroline T. Carter M. Celeste M. Charlie C. Chuck L. Clara E. Conrad W. Darcy W. Declan G. Drew D. Dylan M. Eva H.
Evan C. Georgia F. Gracyn S. Griffin S. Hannah K. Hannah T. Henry B. Henry C. Henry H. Ililta P. Jack M. Jack S. Jacob S. Jared E. Jeb R. John-Christian F. Kate F. Lauren J. Macy L. Maddy A. Madison R.
Maia C. Mia K. Milo B. Nicholas A. Nina R. Owen P. Pia M. Quinn S. Rose M. Ross M. Sean M. Simmy S. Sophia P. Sophia V. Sophie L. Steffen R. Susannah J. Tyler B. Wilson H.
Editor & Designer Mr. Ben Gott email@example.com
! Published under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND. Attribution — You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work). Noncommercial — You may not use this work for commercial purposes. No Derivative Works — You may not alter, transform, or build upon this work.
“LETTER FROM WAR” It was a forgotten letter, I assumed. A letter at the bottom of a pile of many, sitting there, unread, unimportant. It was a letter like any other. It became special when I got a reply. The red, white, and blue border; the orange “Airmail” mark in the corner; the approved signature at the bottom; and then the name: General Stilwell. My hands shook as I tore it open. My smile widened as I read it. I imagined the tall, important general who had written to me two long years later. I always wondered if he knew how much it meant to me; if he knew how happy it made me, that simple act of writing back; of spelling out my name on the envelope; of reading my letter, my simple little letter, and writing one back. I looked down at the letter one more time: the letter from the four-star general from my town, Yonkers, “The city of gracious living.” He had written me back. I hoped that, when he signed “Sincerely, General Stilwell,” he meant it. —Abby C.
“MANY YEARS AGO” The young girl walks with her grandfather along the old, rusty railroad tracks. They kick small rocks ahead of them. The rocks land near an abandoned scrapyard. “Look,” Grandfather says, “that tiny tree will make that yard look beautiful.” The young girl giggles and walks on. Now, she is a college graduate and her grandfather an old man. The two walk again along the old, rusty railroad tracks, finally arriving at the scrapyard. “Look,” Grandfather says, “that tree has made that yard look beautiful.” The girl, older now, laughs and walks on, but Grandfather stops: “I planted that tree myself,” he tells her, “many years ago.” —Drew D.
“THE FIRST GAME” “You’re up, Frankie!” Coach yells. I grab the bat as I reach home plate. I raise it as the pitcher powers up. The ball bolts toward me. The hit is perfect— crystal clear. The crowd watches the ball sail across the field. As I run the bases, I can hear them cheering me on. —Sophia P.
“THE NAVY” I step onto the Lake Champlain: the best aircraft carrier of all time. I am an officer, top of the line. We set sail, patrolling the unknown waters. Battle stations! But it wasn’t a sub— it was a whale. False alarm. —Charlie C.
“SLEEP IS IMPORTANT” I close my eyes to shut out the rest of the world. I don’t know how long I was asleep. All I remember was waking up in the center of the deep, blue, crystal frightening lake. I didn’t know what was happening. When I lifted my head, I looked around to see a faint outline of houses around the lake. I was in the middle. I grabbed the paddle, as heavy as a car. I was dizzy and weak, adrift on this treacherous sea. I will never fall asleep in a boat again. —Maia C.
“ALMOST LATE” Going to the airport. Flat tire. Fix it like a Nascar pit crew. Keep going. Almost miss the flight. Drive to the boatyard. Almost miss the boat. Made it. Engine malfunction. Oh, no. Stuck at sea for a night. Drift to land. Return safely. —Carter M.
“FIRST PERFORMANCE” The pastor asks for a Christmas song. I step forward to sing. Two hundred people watch me, a little six-year-old girl. I am filled with complete and utter fear. My legs shake and threaten to buckle. My teeth chatter. Just as tears arrive, I spot my dad, his eyes filled with pride and a big smile stretched from ear to ear. I begin to sing. Years later, I sit at the piano, knowing each note and lyric, looking out at the crowd of seven hundred. My legs and hands begin to shake. For a moment, I glimpse that child and remember the confidence that my father had in me. I begin to play. —Steffen R.
“CHRISTMAS MIRACLE” My thoughts giggle with anticipation. I twist and churn my body around my blanket, forcing my eyes to shut. Tomorrow will light up my day. It will sparkle like a twinkling North Star. Finally I sleep, my mind still. Morning rises and I shoot up. The sun has not even cast its glow yet. I race with excitement down the stairs. I can’t believe my eyes. A Christmas tree dripping with ornaments. Beautiful silk stockings stuffed with candy. Hand-wrapped presents warm the tree. Warm, soft cookies fill the table. Mistletoe floats in the air. My heart beats faster than a drum. My green eyes puddle with joy. Butterflies shoot from my stomach. Speechless, I open the first present. The crisp tear of the crunchy wrapping paper fills my ears. The cookies and milk had vanished. —Rose M.
“GRAMPS” He took to the zoo to see the animals. He took us on vacation. He took us out for ice cream, doing everything he could do to spoil us. I miss those times with him. He may be gone, but those great memories still live with me today. —Jeb R.
“THE SHELVES OF HISTORY” Two souls meant to be together, joined amongst the shelves of history. A brief connection of expanded hearts to dream of light and wonder, only to be stunned by unfair forces resulting in an abrupt detour. Another soul enlists to guard the shelves of history. After the stillness of time, a shining light cuts through the darkness, once again delivering the warrior to open arms. —Georgia F.
“JOHN KIRSCH” John Kirsch, fifty-one years old, died at his home on Vine Street. John Kirsch, caught under a pile of slate at the Jackson Hill mine. A senior from Clinton High School, he loved to play the violin. They said he was working in the mine alone pulling down slate. Instead of falling to the side, it came down on top of him. —Bella L.
“BLIND DATE” I’m blind until the moment I meet her. I cannot see anything until I see him. I don’t know what will happen. The world is dark, just like my mascara. As I step into my silver Chevy, the nerves kick in. I can’t read the menu; the words are a blur. I find her seated at a table. She looks at me, her smile brighter than my multicolored rugby shirt. When my eyes meet his, I feel a spark. I hope he feels one, too. There is no more darkness. We see a bright future. —Caroline T.
“HARSH LIFE” “Go do some work, you stupid brat!” She wished that she had anyone else’s life. but her own. Why? Why? Her brothers didn’t know how to help her. —Simmy S.
“VICTORY?” “So, how’s Jenny?” “Jenny’s—…” BANG! BANG! GET DOWN! IN THE TREES! I think about my mom, recently passed, and my home. BANG! BANG! My life could end any second. Fewer gunshots sound. I think of my friends; my company We became brothers out here. Thinking. Thinking. Shooting. One by one, corpses fall from majestic palm trees. I hear Captain Price scream, “They’re retreating!” I’m safe for now. Victory? —Henry B.
“REMEMBER?” It happens once or twice or three times a day: our phone rings and rings, but we never dare to answer. You probably think we’re rude, snotty, or selfish, not answering our phone or our door. You are all so kind. I wish I could thank you. But opening that door or answering that phone are things I can’t do. I don’t have the words to explain. We are new around here, and it’s really very hard to fit in with you who are so different from us. I’m sorry. I really, truly am. I would love to stay and chat, and I would if I could, but it’s just not that easy. We can’t talk all that fast. We don’t speak English. We just moved here. Remember? —by Madison R.
“CHICKEN HUNTER” I peer around the corner and see the bright, colorful chickens having fun. But now is not the time for fun. It is the time for warfare. I stare them down. They stare at me. Suddenly, I leap into the wide-open space, sprinting with my mouth open, ready to kill. They run into the coop. I follow. They are pinned against the chicken wire. Yes! “Milo, help!” she yells. She is sprinting toward me through the opening into the pen. I stare them down. They stare at me. I am quiet. They are not. She lunges. I am caught. The hunt is over. —Milo B.
“GOODBYE” Why are you hugging me so long? Goodbye. Why are your arms lingering around my shoulders? Goodbye. Why are your eyes so filled with sorrow? Goodbye. Why do you look so sad? Goodbye. Why do you act like our road ends here? Goodbye. I know we will meet again, right? Goodbye. I will miss you. Goodbye. —Dylan M.
“THE SAILBOAT RACE” I race out of the start, up the upwind, across the reach, down the downwind, and back up the upwind to the finish line. I repeat until the day is over. I don’t expect to reach the top ten. I just race. Awards time is now. I walk over to the ceremony as the other racers run past me. I lean against a pole and zone out. “…And in first place, Scott Reichhelm!” I jump, everything suddenly in focus. I walk forward to collect my trophy, smile for the pictures, and walk back to the pole, my mind still a bit fuzzy about what has just happened. —Nina R.
“THE BEAV” The wind rushes against my face. The boat is fast and water splashes the sides. We are too lazy to fish, so we tie our net to the boat. Dead silence. All of a sudden, the boat jolts. “What was that?” I yell. I see a big, squirming creature. It’s not a fish— No. It’s a giant beaver! We pull up the net. The beaver is gone and so are all the fish. All that is left is a big hole. —Evan C.
“DESTA” Desta: the name means happiness. She was born two months early. Things could go wrong. Surgery on an infant who’s not even a month old? But if it will save her life— surgery on an infant who’s not even a month old. Things could go wrong. Two months early, she was born. The name means happiness: Desta. —Ililta P.
“RUN” I run. I feel the wind on my face. The sound of the breeze whizzes past my ears. But now, a new sound whizzes past my ears: bullets. I run. My feet pound against the asphalt. I try to run faster, but a bullet hits my leg and I fall. —Darcy W.
“FOUND HIM” “Found him!” he exclaimed as he raced across the deadly waters of World War II. The boat started to speed up and then came to a fast stop. He dropped the missile in the water and, sure enough, the submarine and everyone in it was hit. —Pia M.
“WINTER BREAK” Winter Break: Marblehead, Massachusetts to Key Biscayne, Florida. Driving on the highway; towing a Telluride J24 with a keel. It’s a light show in the mirror: right wheel gone, pure metal on pavement, sideways on the road.
“THE ACCIDENT” The leaves around us are just changing color as we walk up the hill toward Cedar Heights. I look at my watch: 8:30. I can see the gas station, the potent smell of gasoline wafting toward my nose. I can hear the roar of High Ridge Road as we approach the sidewalk. The policeman in the street raises his hand in a sign: STOP. I race out in front of everyone else, thinking it is safe, when a red car comes speeding down the street. I hear an earsplitting SCREEEEECH as the tire hits my leg. My hands smack the window. I can hear only silence. I hear Julie bawling behind me as I roll up my long pants and see that my leg is at an angle. But I feel no pain— no need to cry. —Tyler B.
“NOT GOING TO BE THERE” What does he mean he’s not going to be there? He has to be there. It’s only a week away. Everyone is counting on him and he’s not signed up for the next school year? I know his name should be on the list. What’s this? A screeching of tires and then… THUD. I rush to the window and he’s lying on the road, a motionless pile. That’s why he’s not going to be there. But how did he know? —Celeste M.
“RED JEANS” In 1979, my classmates looked at me like I had blue hair. Other students pointed and stared. My friends whispered. Everyone gasped at my red jeans. I felt like I was in a dark tunnel. My mother had spent a fortune on those red jeans and now everyone pointed and stared. —Mia K.
“SMALL ONE” Four years old: I called her “Small One.” My brother and I raced to our grandmother’s front door. BOOM! The stroller, tilted on top of her, had flipped onto the pavement. I was scared Would she survive? In the darkness, I saw my mother hovering over her. My sister wailed in pain. We got into the car and took her to the hospital. Her voice squeaked: “Can I see my grandma?” —Nicholas A.
“TWIN TOWERS” The phone rings. “Hello,” I answer. “Your dad is fine,” a voice reassures me. The phone clicks. Why wouldn’t he be? I turn on the t.v. BOOM. A plane crashing most definitely into the Towers. —Jake S.
“JEFF” “Look at Jeff! He’s going to catch the winning ball!” The ball headed right for Jeff’s mitt. I could see the focus in his eyes. It was gym class, and the clouds were shifting, making the sun shine and then not as though God was switching a light on and off. Joseph was the pitcher and Jeff was second baseman when Thomas hit the ball. It flew up toward the sparkling rays of the sun. No one knew where the ball was going to land— or if it would ever land. It was headed right for Jeff. He looked ready to catch it. All the girls around him laughed. Then… SPLASH! went the mud, and Jeff’s body, with another splash, landed on the ground, the ball resting beside his face. —Sophie L.
“CHAIRMAN MAO” Oh, how I’ve waited for this day! The blue sky, a perfect day for this event. Yes, I am going to see the leader: our Chairman Mao. How happy I will be to see the one who united our country. —Chuck L.
“I AM A HUNTER” I scavenge through the untamed forest, hauling the minks and lynx upon my back, their soft fur and heavy bodies draped across my shoulders. I can’t wait to bring them to my family; to show my children the lifeless creatures then to sell them to the Swedes across town so they can make them into coats and scarves. I am still; motionless. My heart skips a beat. Is that a fox I hear? Or a bear? I sprint after it at a quiet, steady pace, tracking the sound of the massive creature. I gain on the animal, but I have to think fast: how am I going to kill it? With my bow and arrow? Or my dagger? —Wilson H.
“SEA CAPTAIN” The skies are red this morning. Waves crash. Rain pours. Lightning just misses the ship. The crew is soaking wet. There is no port for hundreds of miles. Will we make it? —Bailey M.
“THE RIDE” The street bustles with cars. To me, it is an empty road, the steepest road in all of Santa Barbara. Scratch that— the steepest road in all of California. At least, it seems that way to me. It is mine, all mine. I peer at my friends. We are breaking the rules, riding down the street without helmets and creating new legacies. I lick my lips as I descend down the empty road. My mother’s headlights are the last thing I see. —Clara E.
“SLEDDING, WINTER 1939” I hear the wind whistling in the trees. I feel the cold winter snow on my face. I build up my courage and launch myself. I watch the roadblocks on the hill fly by. Suddenly it’s over. I long to sled again. —Jared E.
“LIGHT” It shines through a crack in the door. It brings comfort and warmth and a feeling of hope. But that crack only provides a sliver of light— the rest of the room is dark and cold. —Alex C.
“I COULD KILL THAT DOG” The bumps below popped me up and down. The cold wind blew against my face. I felt a pull on my scarf and suddenly happy turned frightened. As the sled flew faster and faster, the pull on my scarf got harder and harder. My face began to turn blue as my breath stopped. I could no longer see the clouds in the sky. I heard Mother screaming, “Stop it, you rotten dog!” It was Nannook. I knew it. I felt myself hit the ground. Hard. As I rolled down the hill, I could not believe I was still alive. I could kill that dog. I swear: I could kill that dog. —Hannah T.
“WILD IN THE ARCTIC” The big adventure: days of travel into the cold wind. The cities grow smaller and smaller. We finally reach Churchill, where snow covers the earth. The winds are fast and strong, the vehicles twenty feet tall. The head of a polar bear peeks out of a cave. They all come at once, waiting for seals, waiting to eat. Finally, they spot one, satisfaction on their faces. They are full at last. —Susannah J.
“CROW” A majestic, curious bird. An uncontrolled creature, blessed by the hand of God. A hooded figure stands at watch. As I see it loop in the azure sky above, I wonder: Where must you be going? Where will you go now? Come back. Come back, Grandpa. —Maddy A.
“MY DAD’S GRANDFATHER” He left; I cried. The hug of forgiveness. He can stop this evil war. The kiss they shared when he left was like a kiss from the movies. I remembered the days of boredom, of sitting and staring; of hearing the person on the phone say, “I am so sorry, but Ms. Violet, your husband has died from a shot to the heart.” I went to the funeral and saw all his friends cry for him. His life saved ours. The folding of the flag; his picture in my heart. —Hannah K.
“SHIPWRECK” The fog drifts as the ships sink to the bottom. The people swim as the Andria Doria slips away and the Stockholm remains afloat. It was the greatest rescue of all time. The Coast Guard saved the survivors and inspired my grandfather to save lives himself. —Sean M.
“POCAHONTAS” Across the plains, I guide men to explore the western land. They travel behind me. I am their map. I return to my land— a marriage; no big thing. Famous forever.
“A NEW BEGINNING” The inequality. It is too much to bear. I have already escaped the fate. My family did not, killed because of my religion; my beliefs. They took all of them: my brothers, my sisters, my parents. They were all killed for the same reason: being different. Now I watch as the people who took everything from me are feasting above me, eating like pigs. How could such cruel men have such good fortune? But I can only watch through the spaces between the floorboards as the demons who took everything from me feast on glory. —Owen P.
“HOME” I get off of the plane from Vietnam with the rest of the prisoners. We return home as heroes. Who’s that young man with my wife over there? It’s probably her escort. “Hi, Dad,” the young man says. Good lord— its my son! Six years away from home can really change the things you love. That six-year-old can turn into a thirteen-year old overnight. I feel the love thrive inside me. I feel the joy of being a father again. —Ross M.
“SHRINKING HEAD” The man with the hat wore it every day, so we thought up a prank: each week, his hat small would get smaller and smaller and smaller until the man would think his head was shrinking. —John-Christian F.
“SISTER” BOOM! Our sister ship has just been hit! People are injured. Some are even dead. My captain heads toward our sister. I look down at the water, red sinking into blue. I see bodies afloat on the surface. I feel goosebumps crawl up my back: That might soon be me. My body, floating, turning into water. —Lauren J.
“8:46 A.M.” I was in the dining room of my apartment when I heard the sound. It was most definitely an airplane— crashing. I ran out onto the deck in time for the second-biggest explosion I would ever see. It was coming from the North Tower. I turned and ran. Thoughts flew through the endless corners of my mind. Terrorists? As I stepped out onto the street, another massive explosion erupted, this one bigger than the last. I could feel the heat engulf me. I heard screaming. My camera was already on, firing pictures. —Griffin S.
“GRAND CANYON” The Grand Canyon looks like a hole that reaches down to the bottom of the earth; like a giant piece of cake with a hundred layers. I start toward the mule that will take me to the top. He feels like a smooth carpet. He is the only thing keeping me safe. I look down past my leg and see nothing but space. My stomach is tied in knots. I am scared for a while, but I begin to relax— the mule is so sure footed. As the sun moves through the sky, creating pockets of shadow and light, the canyon morphs into a kaleidoscope of colors— an ever-changing palette. —by Conrad W.
“1944” 1944: a year I will remember. I can hear the army trucks raging through the forest in the distance and the distant call of soldiers fighting. We pack our things and head out into the night. I am bound to die. The Germans and Russians will surely kill us. We make it to Germany, where people take care of us, but I see my brother for the last time there. The Nazis catch us and put us in a camp but we escape. —Declan G.
“THE BIG GAME” It’s time: the big game is here. We need to face our fears. The game may be fast, but trust me: we won’t come in last. Deerfield will be our history. Once we win, folks will wonder: “Why the mystery?” WHOOSH! The ball is released. BAM! It hits him square in the shoulder. He lumbers to first base. CRACK! goes the bat. The ball soars into the air. Now that’s the game, folks. The team wins and cheers. But it is just another victory that no one else can hear. —Quinn S.
“OVERDUE” Sixteen days overdue: I want to meet my child. Driving to the hospital takes forever. I must see my baby. He has been so close to me all along. I live to hold him. I sit in the delivery room, waiting, wanting to meet him. There is a hole in my heart that has not been filled. These nine months have gone by so fast, although I am well past ready. BOOM! I blink my eyes. “Mom, I got my letter! I am going to Dartmouth!”
“NEW TOY” I walk in to the sounds of screams that sound like mine. I see a newborn— red face, eyelashes like spider webs, eyes crunched in determination— wrapped in a pink blanket. She opens her brown eyes as she is placed on the hospital bed. I lie beside her next to my reward: a toy Astromech with blinking lights and a dozen features. “Who chose this?” I ask. “She did,” they say. —Jack M.
“RUN” People everywhere dance, talk, and sing to the music. I can hear the sound of the screen being pulled off the door. “Everybody, RUN!” I hear the screams. “Get out,” they say. “Get out!” Those on the roof have trouble climbing down, so they take to jumping off. It’s easier. The cops are on our trail. We run toward the next house or toward the woods— toward safety. —Alex W.
“THE LOBSTERMEN” Cold water splashed on my face, My boat slid across the water. My boots squeaked on the wet, slippery deck. I looked out on the coast of Maine and admired all the beautiful houses. “Steven, I think we caught one!” I said. “Whoa! Look how many!” he replied, shaking his head in awe. I peered at the huge black, barbed wire cage and gasped. There were one two three four five lobsters squished against each other. “Jackpot!” I laughed. -Eva H.
“MOHONK” Six feet down, my reflection dances and shimmers. The cool wind of September surrounds my shoulders as historic Mohonk stands majestically behind me. I bounce once, then twice, then jump. An explosive splash sends me into the frigid water. Six feet down, her reflection dances and shimmers. New Mohonk stands before her. One step off, and she’s in. She opens her eyes beneath the blue-green water. Paddling hard, I see the old rock hikes. Paddling hard, she sees the new dock. As we lie on the porch, shadows lying with us and the sun on our sides, my great-great grandmother and I enjoy the view together. —Gracyn S.
“CAN I HAVE SOME WATER?” My throat is dry. I haven’t had a drink in hours since it was Ramadan and I couldn’t eat until the sun went down. I can feel the sweat from playing tennis in the hot Malaysian sun. I will be leaving in a couple of weeks to go home. I am in the car. It is hot in there as well. The sun is about to go down. I am counting the hours— the minutes— the seconds. Finally, it’s time. I make sure that the pitchers of water are right next to me. Nobody else seems to be as thirsty as I am. Did they cheat? Have they been sneaking sips of water when no one is looking? After the first glass goes down, I can’t even taste it. I drink and drink. It’s not enough, I think to myself. But it will have to do. —Henry H.
“JENNIFER’S FRIENDS” The concert lights and the fog machine numb my senses. The bright lights shine in my face as I pick up my guitar. A strange feeling settles in the pit of my stomach: stage fright. No, I scold myself, this isn’t stage fright. The drums pound away as I strum the first few chords. Now I am fearless. Singing and playing: that's all I notice. And then the song is over. The crowd roars. My dream has finally come true. —Macy L.
“ONE MORE” I lay in the bed all those months thinking, How could you do this to me? I just had to have one more. —Anthony C.
“FLYING” We were drinking tea and smashing clay cups on the way to Madras from Delhi to visit our great grandpa. Flying is too expensive. —Arman O.
“ROPE” “Remember to tie the rope to the tree, just in case,” Mother instructed: that was practically the only rule for skating. The brush of snow tickled our noses and the sound of squealing children filled the air. We rushed to meet Ned and his little brother. When Jenny pointed out that we had left the rope at home, we sighed but continued on our journey. The boys wore their heavy hockey gear and skated a little too far. The piercing sound of the breaking ice made us stop. Ned and Michael were gone, held under the haunted waters. The rope wasn’t tied, as Mother had instructed. Peter lay flat on the ice. Jimmy and David joined him in a human chain. Peter’s blue hand gripped Ned’s hockey glove as a section of the ice cracked open. They let out frightened screams but did not let go. Peter scrambled back on the solid ice and pulled out Ned out, then Michael. Next time, we will remember to bring the rope. —Kate F.
“MAPLE SYRUP” We sit in the back of a big truck, bumping along a long dirt path as cold air blows against heavy snowsuits, red noses, and chilly toes. We tap each and every tree, filling buckets. Long hours of storing will be worth the wait! —Carolina C.
“JORGE” I sat there and waited while all the other alligators said, “Goodbye, carnival.” Soon, it was just me and a goldfish— until a little boy came along and took the goldfish. Now there was no one to take me home and cuddle me up. In the distance, I spotted a young girl. “Mommy! Mommy! I want this one!” She called me Jorge. The name wasn’t my favorite, but it was better than what the carnival operators used to call me: “The new purse” or “Shoes.” It was strange to leave Florida for Virginia. She fed me bacon. I lived in a fish bowl. I could scare any dog or cat or deer. When I got bigger, I imagined that she would cuddle me up and we would watch a movie together. Later, when I got too big for the bowl, I would move into the bathtub. But then, one night, while she was away at camp, a frying pan hit me on the head. I don’t remember much, except that I woke up in a pot of hot water. That night, we had “chicken soup.” The butler told her grandmother that “Jorge ran away.” But we all know the truth. —Jack S.