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Liam Kelley Misunderstood Neighbors It was a warm summer day, as I drove along in my dad’s Ford. I was on the way to the beach. I rolled down the window, and turned up the radio to my favorite song “She loves you” by the Beatles. My birthday was 2 months ago in April. At age 18 I considered myself mature for my age. I am always up to date with politics and I love economics in school. But now it’s summer… no school, no teachers and most importantly, no math class. Just relaxing at the beach. It is times like this that I love living in Kayo Largo Florida.

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I arrived at the beach five minutes later, grabbed my towel and walked on to the beach looking for my friends. This was nearly impossible because there must have been a thousand people on the beach! “Another great thing about Florida” ,I mumbled, “the beaches are always packed”. Suddenly somebody grabbed me, I jumped! “Hey” said a familiar voice. I didn’t even need to turn around, knowing it was Jane. Jane and I had been friends as long as I could remember. She attended the same high school as me. Jane was always known for her long blonde hair, brown eyes, tan skin and a chipper mood. “How did you find me?” I asked. “There must be a billion people here!” “Anyone could find a person with your blue eyes.” teased Jane. She was right. From the day I was born I had bright blue eyes, which clashed with my black hair. Jane led me over to where our friends were staked out. As we approached, my friend Tom saw me. “James! It’s about time you got here! Come on we’re about to go swimming.” “O-k” I agreed, “let’s go swimming.”

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After swimming we laid down to work on our tans. It was something we liked to do because it gave us time talk. We talked for a while about how Bobby Thomson said he saw a 12 foot shark. Then Mike, the oldest of us at the age of 19, started one of his infamous stories. We all listened to it because it was about Cuban refugees. Jane, for some reason, never joined in when this topic was brought up. Tom, however, loved it.


He talked about it all the time. He told us about what he had heard: “the Cubans are here to spread communism” or “Cuban agents are always trying to get info from the U.S.” I don’t believe everything Tom says but much of it seemed possible. I was about to ask Jane what she thought, when she announced she was getting a sun burn and was going home. I decide I was getting red too so I packed up and headed off with her.

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We walked along the docks without conversation. It felt weird not talking to Jane. We had always shared our thoughts even in our early teenage years in middle school. Then I broke silence with a question that had been in the back of my mind since the beginning of summer.“ Why don’t you ever join in on the talks about Cubans?”, I asked. She turned to me with an expression I couldn’t read, an expression I hadn’t seen before. She took a deep breath and said “I don’t think the Cuban refugees are bad or trying to do harm…. I think they’re trying to escape from harm”. I studied Jane, trying understanding the words that had just left her lips. “I don’t get it”, I said. “They’re the enemy, they are communists, and they are monsters!” Jane glared at me. “I think we’re the monsters for criticizing them without even hearing their side of the story! Think about it,” she said and walked away. I stood there alone and watched her walk off. “How could she say that?” I thought. “They helped the Russians threaten us.” I’m walked down towards a pier, angry with myself for not thinking strait and angry about Jane's words. Suddenly a sailor appeared in front of me. He had a brown hair and a beard; he must have been in his thirties. “Hey there young lad, could you give a hand for a sec?” I needed something to take my mind off what Jane had said. I nodded and the sailor lead me down the stairs to the end of the dock. What I saw stopped me in my tracks. A group of 10 or 11 Cubans were sitting at the end of the dock. The sailor waved me over to them. “What’s wrong?”, I asked. The sailor pointed to an elderly man lying on the dock. “He got sick on the trip over.”, said the sailor. “I need help carrying him off the dock.” I was about to set down my towel when I saw two children shivering next to the elderly man. I hesitated for a moment then gave them it. They took it graciously. I smiled a little. Then the sailor, myself and three other Cuban men lifted the elder and carried him to the end of the dock. We gently set him on a bench. He looked me in the eyes and mumbled


something I could not hear. “What did he say?”, I asked the sailor. “You’re a good man” he replied. As one of the Cuban men walked by I asked, “How did you get here?” He pointed to a small rowboat that was meant to carry less than half the amount of Cubans on the dock. I stared at him try to see if he was joking. “Wait”, I said. “Do you mean to tell me that you travelled 90 miles on the rough, open sea with a row boat that could barely fit all of you?” The man nodded and spoke with pride, “It was a long journey but it was worth it for freedom for my family.” Then he picked up his grocery bags full of clothes and disappeared down the dock. I left without my towel. As I walked back towards the car my mind was racing. I thought about what freedom meant, how I often took things for granted and how my ancestors had travelled to America. But as I got into my Dad’s car and pulled out on the highway, I could only hear Jane’s words asking, “who are the monsters?”

AUTHOR’S NOTE

The Cuban Missile Crisis part of the cold war in 1964. It occurred when Fidel Castro, a Cuban rebel, came to power in the Cuban revolution. He had help from the Soviet Union otherwise known as “Russia”. In return for The Soviet Union’s help Castro had to make Cuba a communist country. The USA did not approve of this, especially since Cuba was 90 miles from the U.S. shores. The Soviet Union was allowed to use Cuba as a launch point for nuclear missiles. The missiles could be used to fire on the USA. The USA found out about the launch sites using u-spy planes. Realizing the threat, the USA threatened to fire on Russia’s capital, Moscow. Neither country knew who would make the first move. But they did know who ever did would be starting a nuclear war. The stalemate lasted 14 days until the Soviet Union backed down and withdrew from Cuba. During this time, Cuba was in disarray and many people were leaving. These people were called Cuban Refugees. Many risked their lives and left family behind to escape to Florida on homemade rafts. To prevent people from leaving, the Cuban dictator passed laws that people couldn’t depart from Cuba. It is still in effect today.

final hf  

historical fiction

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