Wine Dark Sea
Harry Deacon Matthew O’Regan
Dearbhla Fewer Elena Garanzuay
Aylin Ustuner Hendrik Raidal
Hao Fan Wang Emilia Gonzalez Lluís Martínez Fortuño
3 Transition Year Collaboration 4 Caroline Kiersey 5, 22,30, 48
Jessica Alexandra Smith
8 Stratford Vandlik 10, 12
Seung Min Lee
Wine Dark Sea
19 Eli Hewson 20 Sophie McCormick
Ben McConkey Lorenzo Pollastri-McLysaght
24 Isabella Ambrosio
26 Sarah Webb
Maria Gonzalez Bescos Carla Florido Bordon Liam Bean Sebastiano Joyce Genevieve Collins Sadhbh O’Mahony
27 Hannah Martensson
31 33 34 35
Emily-Jane McDonnell Evie Rathbone Isabel Bosch Pierce Hanley Joey Carmody Esme Lawless, Harriet Cantwell
Kim Pastine Alicia McGrath
Hazel Houlden Isabel Hernandez-Kearns
Sarah Bulger Nathan Scarlett
Oliver Malfavon Lund
Grace McFadyen David Bell
49 Eoghan O Mahony Evanna Hoey, Leah Rossiter Evanna Hoey, Leah Rossiter RGT
28, 32 , 34, 36,50
A collection of poetry and prose by the students of St Andrew’s College
38 Ella Murphy 41 Vivienne Wood Mia Keaveney 42 Hannah Moran 43, 51 44
Isabel Hernandez Kearns
2nd Year Textiles
It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to the nineteenth edition of The Wine-Dark Sea. This year we have taken a more streamlined approach, which I hope you will enjoy. These pages abound with deep thinking and some no thinking, something for everyone as it were. The range of subject matter, voice, style and humour is eclectic and engaging. It has been wholly exasperating, but not without a little joy to edit what you find in these pages, I hope your experience of the magazine is more joyful than exasperating. The aim of this magazine has always been to provide a platform for our students to showcase their creative talents. Thus, whether it is through poetry, prose or art, each piece bears witness to the flourishing myriad talent that exists within our school. That the students have this springboard and are encouraged to avail of it, is thanks to the teachers and parents that inspire them to create and have confidence in their creations. What is also unique and wonderful about this magazine is the inclusion of all students and all ages from the Junior to the Senior school. The key to fostering talent is to catch it early. Therefore, I would like to thank all those who gave generously of their time this year. Thanks to Mrs. Kirby for her continued support of the arts in the college. Thanks to the English department for supporting their students in their desire (and need) to write. Thanks go to the Irish department for similar dedication. Thanks also to all the Junior School staff for providing wonderful encouragement to their students and ensuring that the entries from the Junior School are of the high standard to which we have become accustomed. Thanks go to the Art department for the wonderful images on display in this edition and which make the magazine visually exciting. The Wine-Dark Sea owes its design to the skill of Michelle Owen whose gifted vision and refined sense of style makes this a stunning and professional publication. Every year the artwork seems to get better and to complement the written word so perfectly. Significant congratulations to all whose work appears within these pages. We hope you will continue to express your talents in future editions of this magazine. On a personal note I would like to say farewell to the 6th year contributors (many of whom have given regularly to this magazine), keep writing, itâ€™s not a bad way to spend your time. Robert McDermott
Room for One More I’m late. Very late. It’s a meeting I can’t afford to miss. I’m rushing. Pity the sidewalk is teeming with lethargic commuters apparently all part of a not-so-secret plot to get in my way. I can’t understand people. I really can’t understand them at all. Even the Manhattan rush-hour traffic is somehow keeping pace with my weaving strides. A bicycle. I need to get myself a bicycle. I remember it’s too late to get a bicycle. Wedged between canary-yellow taxi cabs and imposing concrete towers, I feel sick. The ethnic melee carries me along in dips and swells but I’m fighting it, a boat against the current. I dart left to avoid a leering hot dog cart umbrella; the soft sizzle of the grill hisses and follows me down the block. I’m surprised I can still hear it, the New York symphony is deafening. A clamour of blaring Chevrolet horns and incessant chatter, it’s hardly melodic but it’s music to me. Eventually I arrive. 62nd & 3rd street. The building soars and sneers and smirks before me, conspiring with the clouds. It’s a far cry from the gleaming ivory towers of the Financial District; this concrete cliff scratches the sky rather than scrape it. And it’s grey. I don’t like grey. Polished leather shoes carry me clacking up the steps. I am well dressed. And I know it. Sweat seeps through every crevasse of my Italian suit, a damp discomfort replacing its earlier crispness. I am accosted, rather violently, by the revolving front door. It swishes unforgivingly by. I look on, as helpless as its rhythm is relentless. Whirling past with a vengeance, around and around, faster and faster, taunting me with its simplicity. I know it should be easy. But the easy things aren’t easy. Sometimes, it just feels like I’m flicking through the tattered, tear-stained pages of what I know is the best book in the world, but I can’t read the words. Yes, the revolving door was my Russian language edition ‘Catcher in the Rye’. So it is with considerable difficulty that I finally enter the Manhattan branch of Levity Health & Life Insurance. Every step forward I take in that revolving door, I get the unnerving feeling something is following me. I don’t like being followed. And I don’t like being chased. I stride inside. The lobby has about as much character as a solitary confinement cell. Artificial plants with less credibility than Lance Armstrong’s Tour de France wins offend the eye. The ease with which I recognise the IKEA furnishings is worrying. Redecorate. I need to redecorate. I remember it’s too late to redecorate. It’s 9am. The place is deserted but for a receptionist whose expression captures the foyer’s ambience beautifully; either she is sitting on something incredibly pointy or she is irked by my presence. I favour the latter although she does seem like someone who occasionally rests her posterior on a Number 2 pencil. Put simply, this is a lobby that doesn’t care, in a world that cares even less. I cross to the elevators. The receptionist begins clacking away at her keyboard, each deft tap assaulting my ears with ‘j’s and ‘4’s and ‘backspaces’. I’m watched all the way. “Room for one more?” I hurry to arrive just as the doors begin to close. “Sorry but I think we’re full.” The curt reply comes from a suit with a man in it. “Are you sure? I’m late. Very late. I’ve got a meeting that I can’t afford to miss.” “Don’t worry, of course there’s room!” replies a woman with a Starbucks cappuccino and a smile. I shuffle inside. I push the button for the 42nd floor. I prepare to spend the next couple of minutes staring ahead into distant space, pretending that neither I nor my three fellow passengers in fact exist at all. Elevator etiquette at its best. Doors creep to a close. My nose notes the reek of dust and human proximity. We whir and groan to life. I’m not going down. I’m going up. The grimy mirrors that line the walls of the lift stretch into darkness, then begin to close in. Reflections edge nearer. They crush great gulps of air from aching lungs, the silence is suffocating. It takes lilting tones of Sinatra elevator music to crack the quiet of the metal cage. I don’t like the noise. But I hate the quiet. The suit with the man in it alights at the 15th floor. He is tall. He is grey. He is above the recommended weight for an ‘Otis’ lift. A soft ping signals his briefcase-bound departure. I do not miss him. Floor 29 whisks the other man away. His cratered eyes never leave the iPhone 7 screen as he departs, a vice like grip cradling the 5.6” retina display. Its gleam and glare and glow light up his face, his eyes are empty. I lose the woman to the archives of the 41st. A gentle cloud of perfume follows her, gliding softly through the doors. But she pauses. She stops. She turns. She smiles. And it isn’t just a smile of social grace. It isn’t just a beam of courtesy or kindness. No, it’s a smile that, for some unknown reason that I just can’t quite place, genuinely makes me want to smile too. I really want to smile too. But the easy things aren’t easy. She leaves. She’s gone. And, as the doors close once more, so am I. Five more claustrophobic seconds elevate me to the 42nd floor, the top floor. A dimly lit warren of supply closets and creaking network servers, it’s certainly no penthouse. I set off down a decidedly suspect corridor full of broken bulbs, cobwebbed-walls and Trump-purporting-posters. Steps emerge from the gloom ahead; I take them in my stride. Within minutes, I emerge from the murky depths of Levity Health & Life Insurance and join the rooftop hum of air conditioning units. The February morning chill cuts icy incisions in my face. Each gust of wind stings and smarts. I stroll across the roof to survey the streets below. New York is pulsating, a matchbox Manhattan thrives beneath me. Toy cars carry toy people to toy shops and toy workers to toy offices. But this is no game. I can’t be toyed with anymore. A foot ventures towards the edge, a city swirls below. My pulse dips and swells. Every day is the same. Every day is a battle to understand people that I just don’t know how to know. I close tear-soaked eyes. I clench tear-drenched fists. Another foot ventures towards the edge. And then I remember the woman. I remember her Starbucks cappuccino. I remember her perfume. I remember her smile. I remember that today is to be the last day. And I concede that maybe, just maybe, there is room for one more.
The Grey Tower by the shore Dublin stood a different city that cloudy June day of 2085. Wind turbines littered the city of environmentally-sustainable apartments block and expansive parks filled with happy, equal families taking their daily strolls to their health and free all-level education centres. Dublin was in a world anyone would see as perfect. The Irish channel from Dublin to Holyhead had been drained and turned into a scenic land of organic farms and formerly endangered species. On this new Irish “peninsula” of sustainability, beauty and freedom stood a reasonably building surrounded by families socializing and tending to their own food growing. Two young boys among them, Abdul and Oisín chatted with each other as they harvested kale.”Oisín, are you excited for the puzzles tomorrow” he asked cheerfully. “No, the teacher said I needed more help with calculating” he answered, almost ashamed at his answer. “Don’t worry, I share my credits with you,” he reassured, hoping the crops in his hands would go to good use. Their conversation continued until the whistle was blown and everyone lined for their rewards for their work. The credits system worked by giving residents credits for the weight of food they harvest and the number of puzzles they did during lesson time, the reward being the amount of food (of an individual’s preference) given in proportion to their credits, like in a cashless canteen but more ordered. That night Oisín received fewer credits so he got fewer rewards before sleep. The following day Abdul went to the puzzle room, a room filled with touchscreens and “learners” of differing age. A few minutes after the puzzle time, an office worker in a room adjacent received the results and his computer gave him a graph, not of student’s performance. Reading the graph he celebrated before calling his supervisor with excitement. “Sir, this is Li Wang of the Irish province calculation scheme, the results across the Dublin district show the decoy will hit the station 1.2 hours before the weapon, recommend redirecting manoeuvres” he announced into his holographic phone, plotting something unlike expectation. The next morning everyone in the tower woke up to a sunny cloudless day and were brought to their lessons, soon all were constantly revising interactive e-workbooks personalised to their weaknesses and practising their arithmetic until they each approached the teacher and gave them today’s portfolio of answers and progress until their work was processed into questions for the later class and graded as they farmed in the fields. Once they were called they either continued lessons or did puzzles. The answers to the puzzles were sent to Li and processed into complex computer simulations before he eagerly sent them to a group of intelligence officials hell-bent on their strategic interests. At the end of the day they are fed and they sleep. The next day the residents woke to yet another perfect sunny cloudless day, all strolling to their lessons, working until ready before they give their teacher their work. The learners are sent to farm their crop and the next class does the calculations to grade the class before. When the residents are called in they do puzzles or revise before they are rewarded with preferred foods and sent to sleep. That night a laboratory on Mars is destroyed by a disguised falling satellite. The blame is framed on an international protest organization fighting for human rights and members are hunted and executed. The calculation for its trajectory was done by the residents of a familiar tower. Many weeks later an intern in the towers teacher’s office is talking curiously to Li Wang, his employer. “Why,” he asks obliviously “Do we need are we collecting answers in their workbook rather than their progress, and how sir, do you discern those who must learn to those who are free like us” he eloquently continued. Li took a deep breath, placed his hand on the intern’s shoulder and looked him in the eye with intent, almost with confusion. “Because for a nation to be free, some must work for that nation. A nation is free when it is secure, secure of those who hate, who challenge, those who try to take from it. Do you think it is choice they live here than out there.” he yelled in nationalistic rage, pointing in the air.” No, what are you talking about?” replied the intern, shaking Li’s hand off and backing over to a wall. Li stomped over to the intern and shouted: “Go process their answers and, think about what I said to you”. “Please, why them!?” the intern cried, tears streaming from his eyes. “You do it or you are one of them!’ he yelled, veins pulsing on his sweat-drenched neck. The intern broke eye contact and walked away, not even turning his head to see Li. He sat at his desk and started to interpret the classes’ data on his hologram before wiping the sweat from his face, burying his face in his arms and crying. The sun set peacefully that day, a lone cloud emerging from the horizon. From the well-reaped fields, the tower stood out from the stars and hills like one of both and none of neither. The next day the residents woke.
The Winter Garden The deserted garden was eerily quiet. The only sound was the howling wind bristling through the rotting branches of the old, leafless trees. There was a thick, glistening white blanket of snow covering the once bright and colourful plants. They were now overgrown and long, thick thorns and weeds had emerged around the garden, nobody had tended to it in decades. There was an old stone wall surrounding the garden. Dead, spindly vines grew up the ancient wall, concealing the worn bricks. A decrepit cobblestone path with moss creeping its way through the cracks was layered with frost and sleet. It lead to a once beautiful marble fountain in the centre of the garden. The fabulous design and pristine shine had been lost over the years. The water inside the fountain that used to be clean and fresh was now filled with grime and was frozen over. The bare trees were now laden down with icicles like glassy stalactites. The forgotten garden silently wondered to itself would it ever be seen again? Dearbhla Fewer
Admiring my rotting hands is all I’d been left to do to pass the time in this place. The slick, slimy walls of solitude haunted me day in and day out. My room was so ill lit that I honestly couldn’t have told you what time of day it was anymore. “What did you do to get yourself into a place like this, boy?” A vaguely familiar man asked. He was sitting in another cell across from mine. I promised myself that I would never tell another soul what I had done. I promised myself this and it’s the only dignity I had left. “I don’t remember.” I said. “Son, it’s pretty hard to get stuck in a place like this and forget how!” The scruffiness of his beard taunted me with déjà vu. “This long in solitude can really affect someone.” I said. It had gone silent, so I continued to analyse my pale hands. “I think I’ve gone insane.” I said. “Well of course you have, boy! I just want to bloody know how the hell you got in this mess!” “I’m sorry,” I said. “I’m so, so sorry.” “Look, things happen,” he said. That comforted me in a way that I’ve never felt before. My head twisted and churned with dreadful emotions. What I had done wasn’t something one could just forget, and my thoughts are permanently scarred. I could never forget it. “I killed a woman.” I said. “I killed her.” “Oh, son, why would you do such a thing?” “I killed her.” I said. “Why, boy, why?” he repeated. My head flowed with thoughts and I couldn’t stop it. I couldn’t stop it. “I killed her with my bare hands. My kids won’t have a mom and it’s all my fault. It’s all my fault.” “Jack, calm down,” he said. “Will you shut up already!” I screamed. I screamed until my lungs gave out. I screamed until my jaw was sore. I screamed until my throat was raw. “What have I done?” I said. “What have I done.” Not enough physical pain would get the images out of my mangled mind. It was my fault. It was all my fault. My hands shivered. My head throbbed. My eyes leaked. “Hey! You! Shut up already,” an officer demanded. “Take your lunch, would you?” Nobody has looked me in the eyes for years. Today wasn’t any different. “Quit talking to yourself while you’re at it.” He snapped. I jerked backwards staring at my hands. Elena Garanzuay 10
The Sea I watched the waves ripple across the horizon. Purple, white and aquamarine waves sloshed on the golden sand and onto my feet. Thunder rumbled in the distance. Suddenly, it started to lash rain. I didn’t care. I didn’t care about anything that day. It wasn’t fair. Nothing was fair. Melanie’s voice echoed over and over in my head. ‘’ Life isn’t fair. Get over it. You should have controlled your nerves.’’ I should have gotten the part. Melanie’s performance was pitiful. She had no life, no reality in her show. She said her lines blankly, as if reading them straight off the page. She was only chosen as Juliet because ... because... I had no idea why. She probably had some rich relative who knew the judges. I started to shiver. I got to my feet, deciding to go back home before I froze to death. As I walked along the path to my house, I thought of my mum at home. She would make everything alright. I smiled. It didn’t matter. Melanie could get every part in the entire play for all I cared. I grinned, then raced the leaves back home. Aylin Ustuner
Strange Day in July He threw with all his might, but the third stone came skipping back… Charlie and Eve were brother and sister, they loved the sea and every day after school, they went to the beach and played around. It was June and school had ended, Charlie was seven and Eve was five. They came walking from the final day of school and they went straight for the beach, and mess around, like always. They usually played tag or hide and seek, but in school, Charlie read a book where the character would threw rocks in the sea and they bounced on the water. Charlie wanted to know if he could do that, he took the nearest flat rock and threw it into the sea, and it bounced! “Wow, Eve check this out!” shouted Charlie in a very surprised tone and at the end of the day, Eve and Charlie were addicted to throwing the rocks. Now since school was over Eve’s and Charlie’s daily routine was wake up, eat breakfast, and spend all day trying to beat their previous score of how many times the stone had bounced. Currently Charlie’s record was four, and Eve’s was three. They loved doing this they even invited their friends over just to throw rocks! They did this for months until they had to move. Their Father got a new job in another city, and they had to move in just a few days. They threw a party and invited all their friends and family who lived here. It was the day before they were moving, all their furniture had already been packed and was being driven to their new house, they said goodbye one last time and went to bed. They woke up at six in the morning and they went straight to the car to drive to their new house. The house was tiny, very tiny. The house had three rooms, a kitchen and two bedrooms, one for Mother and Father and the other for Eve and Charlie. Since it was still the summer Eve and Charlie never were inside and always were outside, throwing rocks like usual, but the third of Charlie’s stones it always bounced with and curve and came back. Charlie just thought that it was nothing. Charlie lived there for years and years, and only moved when he had to go to college. Charlie moved to England for college. He got good grades, and was generally smart. He didn’t enjoy college, but he knew it had to be done if he was to get a job. During the summer he went to back to his old house, his parents had passed away a few years back. Charlie walked to the beach, he had his special rock in his hand, and he threw it. This time he thought if his parents were trying to speak to them. A few years later Eve had also passed away, she had been ill for years so for Charlie it wasn’t much of a surprise. With no family, job or friends and he thought that he should join his parents and sister, but Charlie always wanted to sail the seas and he thought that that would be a good to go. With the little money Charlie had, he got a boat and started his adventure as a complete beginner. He didn’t expect to last long, but he just wanted to experience the thrill of sailing. There was no way to avoid the inevitable end, Charlie got malaria and went to sleep, never to wake up again, but now he was with his family. 12
13 Hendrik Raidal
The Choice I felt the cool surface of the window pane against my temple as I collapsed into the seat. Casting a glimpse outside, I noticed two blackbirds examining a patch of green off the runway in search of a worm, blissfully unaware of the chaos that surrounded them. The window rattled as brief gusts of wind strained against it, droplets streaming down my reflection. The plane’s speakers boasted a ballad of sorts, the lyrics indistinct in the distant sound of engines and suitcases trailing on the concrete. The vent above my head forced cold air in my direction, distracting me from my thoughts. Rummaging through the clutter in my bag, I pulled out an apple and a bottle of water and the leaflet I had taken from home. I glanced at the red fruit, bright and shiny, blemished on one side. Perhaps given another day in the sun, it would have grown larger and sweeter. My appetite escaped me, and I turned my attention to the leaflet. Slievemore Women’s Clinic London it read in large print, with an illustration of a gleaming woman and child. I thought it rather ironic considering the reason behind my visit. I tilted my head upwards and glanced at the bodies bustling down the aisle in single file, and speculated as to who would be sitting in seats B and C in an attempt to distract myself. This distraction was interrupted, as a couple in their mid-twenties began to reduce their pace near the aisle, the girl furrowing her brow and pursing her lips at the seat numbers. Her stride exuded confidence, with shoulders drawn back and her chin lifted tightly at an angle that even if a smile were upon her face, which seemed unlikely, would still feel withdrawn. Her mousy brown hair was pulled back, without a stray hair in sight. Held loosely under her arm was a copy of a tabloid magazine which read “Brad and Angelina: what you’re DYING to know!” Behind her was a boy who apologised to each passenger as he clumsily made his way to his seat. He held himself as though his intention was to take up less space. His outfit consisted of fitted chinos and a shirt with no button left undone. Locks of dark hair rested on the black plastic frame of his glasses, sheltering his eyes. The girl stopped at my row, and she began to move inwards, without a gesture of acknowledgement that I existed, or any attempt to remove her scarf and jacket. The boy followed, and extended a smile that exposed two dimples hollowing his otherwise rounded face, and sat in his seat. I continued to study the leaflet, but was suddenly interrupted by the girl’s loud voice. “Babe, pass me my red – nail –lacquer-”, she exclaimed, her eyes scanning and reacting to images of cosmetic advertisement and pausing leisurely mid-sentence to continue the passionless chewing. Her partner reached his hands under his seat and shuffled loudly before she had finished her sentence, almost instinctively. I pitied him. Although they sat together, they couldn’t have been further apart. I observed quietly in my seat and contemplated the reasons for which they might be travelling. To visit family? A shopping trip? A casual visit? No matter the occasion, I wondered if they’d care about my reason. I envied their freedom. The girl opened the lacquer without averting her eyes from the pages of her magazine, her long fingers extending. The smell of lacquer quickly diffused in my direction, a scent so sharp and artificial that I felt nausea creeping up from my abdomen to my chest. With the plane’s wings already beginning to level after take-off, I emerged hastily and made my way to the lavatory. The nausea and turbulence grew simultaneously, my mind became barely capable of formulating a thought. I scanned the plane in search of a moment of relief, but was met with vacant eyes. I longed for a breeze of pure air as the cabin filled with oppressive air. A sense of unease seeped through every inch of my body, accompanied by a bout of sweat dripping down my sides.
Waiting outside the door to the lavatory was a woman, holding a child that was only a few months old. She held the child in her arms, rocking it gently with a smile from ear to ear on her face. The woman’s face bore no distinguishing features, only lines and webbing exposed at the corners of each eye. On the flesh of her cheek rested a scatter of freckles, which make her look youthful. Her black hair crashed over her shoulders, blending seamlessly into a black tunic that was bold against her pale skin. She was immaculately dressed in a silken skirt that flowed effortlessly in sync with each movement. I felt a wave of embarrassment for not looking as elegant. My eyes couldn’t help but fix upon the child she held so closely. I gazed at the child and witnessed each limp and curious movement that it made, and viewed its fascination with its mother’s hair. Taken aback by its wonder, the woman must have felt my stare over her shoulder and turned around. “Would you like to hold him?” she said, in a voice soft yet absolute. I didn’t know how to respond, but the situation I was presented with seemed to demand an adequate response. I gestured with my chin, but it may have been too subtle for recognition. She lay the child gently in my arms, with such care that her fingertips lingered supporting him for seconds after. I stood still in admiration, a shiver running its course through my limbs. I had never once been so close to a child his age, his skin unblemished and eyes glistening with wonder. “Oh wow! He’s not usually on his best behaviour with strangers!” she remarked as she stood over the child. I smiled and after a moment gently placed the child back into her arms, her eyes widening as he came closer and closer. I complimented the child’s eyes, and the woman quickly grew impassioned to talk about her child’s features. I entertained this for a moment or two, and then decided to return to my seat. Although I was only met with the arch of a brow and the idle odour of lacquer, I felt more at ease. The tension I had felt so intensely was now shadowed by the chatter of passengers. I moved into the aisle to my seat, and fastened my seatbelt. My lungs filled with a deep breath, and I resumed my scanning of the leaflet. I glanced once more at the apple before me, only now in an entirely different light. I stretched my back gently, drew in a deep breath and began to calm the thumping of my heart. A ray of sunshine shone through the window, casting vivid warmth over the fruit and my outstretched fingers. I followed the ray along the floor and fixed my eyes on the bedding of clouds only metres away, with the image of mother and child ingrained in my mind. I was going to be okay.
The Party I never should have let Adelaide talk me into going to that party. Maybe I wouldn’t be sitting here and writing this now, at the police station as they cover me in blankets and wipe the mud off my face. I’m going to be questioned any minute now. So I might as well get this down. Adelaide picked me up at 7 and I drove her car up to her friend’s house. The party was ok, and as I left I was a tiny bit drunk so instead of driving Adelaide’s car home as we had originally planned, she got a lift with another friend and I called an Uber. The driver rolled up smoothly and silently up into the driveway and stopped just outside the front door. I walked down the porch steps and as my feet crunched on the gravel I swayed slightly. I hurried with uneven steps to the passenger side of the car. I got in and told the driver where to go. Thinking back on it that was probably the first warning sign. In the state I was in the words would have slurred incomprehensively, but he drove off without any question or hesitation. I took a good look as we drove and even in my hazed state my heart lurched with unease. He was several years older than me and was wearing sunglasses and a hart that obscured his face. His clothes, as far as I could tell, were black. I looked out of the window and tried to ignore the pounding in my head and the sinking in my heart. I glanced up at the rear-view mirror and saw his eyes glinting through his sunglasses. Staring at me. Directly at me. I tried for a smile to ease the tension and looked quickly back out of the window. Three consecutive times I glanced up to the rear-view mirror and saw his cold eyes staring back at me. I was beginning to sober up and as I stared determinedly out of the window, I saw our car blitz past my exit. I screwed up my courage and said; “Sir, we just missed my exit.” He didn’t say anything. I heard a small click and his eyes lifted off the road to meet mine. I glared steadily at him and he laughed an unpleasant laugh and continued to drive, with seemingly no definite destination in mind. I tried to discretely roll down my window but the button achieved nothing. The window icon displayed a little lock. So that’s what the earlier click had been about. Beginning to feel desperate, I pulled on the door handle. That too, was locked. “Let me out” I said. “Let me out, let me out LET ME OUT!”, until I was screaming at him. He pulled over at the side of the road and turned the car off, pulling the key out of the ignition. I became suddenly silent, fear exploding through my heart and coursing through my veins. He turned around morosely and grotesquely and pulled off his hat and sunglasses. His head was bald and way to pale, veins standing out against his skin like inked tattoos. His eyes were beady and narrow, way to narrow, like snake eyes. His pupils were slits and his teeth were alarmingly white and sharp. He, without breaking eye-contact with me, reached fluidly into his glove compartment and pulled out an oblong object, a hammer and stepped out of the car. I flung myself forwards in an attempt to keep the door open but he slammed it quickly and the hard plastic smashed into my wrist. I was slamming my fists into the reinforced glass when I heard something smash. Immediately, the car filled with noxious vapour, gas. The man smiled at me through the glass window and walked away slowly, car-keys jangling tantalizingly against his leg. My vision was beginning to fade as the gas filled in through my lungs and made me choke. I slammed weakly against the glass as my vision swum and my head drooped. My hands slipped into my pocket and my numb fingers scrabbled against my house-keys. In one last desperate attempt I drove my house-keys into the window. I was fading fast and all my hearing was gone. I rammed the keys into the glass a few more times and I felt it crack .With my remaining strength I drove my fist through the window, oblivious to the pain as glass shards embedded themselves into my knuckles. I crawled onto the window and thudded to the floor, glass prickling my body. Fresh air engulfed me and I curled into a little ball, gasping and retching. Gradually my hearing and vision returned. I have no idea how long I lay there, curled up on the motorway. Eventually I pushed myself up with help from the car, hands scrabbling against the broken window the drag myself up. I took a few deep breaths and tried to assess the situation. I was half dead from gas inhalation, my shoes and clothes had been ripped and torn and I had several cuts covering my body. I took a deep breath and started to limp my way down the motorway. It was going to be a long walk home… Alexandra Minch
Yourself You are a book that you are writing You are the art that you are painting You are the conversations you engage in You are a place that you want to go every day You are the person who you spend time with the most You are yourself Hao Fan Wang
Mon Amour Je t’ai toujours aimé, parce que tu es la meilleure chose qui m’est arrivée, tu es mon amour, et mon âme jumelle. Je veux toujours te voir, un câlin je veux te faire, parce que tu es mon amour, et mon autre moitié. Lluís Martínez Fortuño
Nature in a Night Forest Scary, fierce wolves howling at the moon, Eerie, creepy branches staring down at you, A bear eating delicious honey that smells like sweet, Creamy hot chocolate, Fish jumping up and down in a crystal-clear stream, Owls looking for mice or insects for their dinner, Foxes sneaking around on a dark, spooky night, Rabbits eating juicy and crunchy carrots, Hedgehogs rolling up in round, prickly balls. Emilia Gonzalez
The Downward Spiral (Mortal Coil) Do you ever just wake up with a smile on your face? Not a I just had the best dream smile, nor a today is going to be the best day ever smile, but a smile celebrating the stillness of your body. The wasps that usually buzz around your head are gone for a precious few seconds. Your soul is at peace, and so is the world around you. In that moment, everything is as it should be. I have only had a few of these in my lifetime and one of those was today, this morning. It seems so long ago… that feeling. As I now lay dying on my kitchen floor, that calm returns and the world goes quiet. As I opened my eyes, blinking off the cloak of sleep, I smiled. Everything was so still. Lying there for a few moments, I basked in the silence. Looking to my side, a ray of sunlight illuminated my wife’s face; she always looked so beautiful when she slept. Not a noise permeated the peace; nothing existed in the world outside, only the love of my life, a beam of sunlight pushing through the thick curtains and me, observing it all. I slid out of the bed, not wanting to disturb her reverie, and made my way to the kitchen. As I entered the kitchen, I smirked as our old dog; Cody opened his eye to welcome me, before falling back asleep in the morning sun. Like a king observing his realm from the parapets of his castle, I looked out of the window at our garden of rolling fields. For miles and miles all I could see was a sea of green, punctuated by sailboats of trees rising above the still ocean. In the distance rose a star, burning away the mantle of night. Birds sang like trumpets heralding the return of the legendary crusader, the revered saviour of the kingdom, welcomed home from the dark battles of the night. The symphony of tiny voices pierced the morning haze that hung over the dewy fields. I decide to take a shower while the whole house is quiet. Afterwards, looking at myself in the mirror through bloodshot eyes, I barely recognise the old man that gazes despondently back. My body full of deep furrows, sagging under their own weight, my face droops under the many years it had seen. Everything looks stretched, worn, wrinkled… Where has the robust body of my youth gone? I have to turn away, as tears of water roll down my face, joining the puddle at my feet. Looking outside I notice the morning I had known is gone, replaced by a thick roof of grey clouds. I get dressed and make my way to the kitchen. I need a glass of water. My head aches from the dense storm clouds that press from above. My neck cranes downward from the invisible pressure. Leaning against the fridge to catch my breath, my eyes wander across the many bills that are stuck to it. ‘Final Notice’, ‘Mortgage Due’. Their red words standing out like blood against the white paper. Deep below the layers of sheets are photos of me and Katie on holidays, with our grandkids, happy… The memories become strangled underneath those bills, making them fade from existence, covered over by our problems. There aren’t even enough magnets on the fridge anymore, the sheets are piling up at its base, like scree worn away from a once proud mountain. Glancing outside I see that it has started to rain. Drops of silver relentlessly hitting against the windows, like millions of tiny stones being thrown by laughing children, threatening to break through the glass. It looks like a grey wasteland out there, like something out of an apocalyptic wilderness. Jagged trees, with pointy limbs and gnarled roots have taken on the complexion of ash. As if with the rain comes thick soot, floating down from the oppressive skies above. If there is a heaven somewhere up there, you can’t get there. There’s no way to penetrate that endless wall. It pushes and pushes down, getting closer and closer, suffocating me until I can’t breathe anymore. I am woken from my trance by the dog barking, his jagged yelps pierce my ears. High-pitched screams fill the air, stirring my already curdled annoyance to the point of crystallised vehemence. Neither of us expected the roar of pure anger that I release. The rage building in me is partially vented through my dry mouth, the naked outburst of pure fury disgusts me as it leaves my wheezing lungs. I steady myself on the counter, gripping it so tightly that my wrinkled knuckles turn white. My chest is rising up and down with anger, my head is aching with the pressure squeezing and squeezing and squeezing my skull, making me want to break something, or someone. I look around, finding a lonely, half-empty wine glass on the counter. I hurl it with all my strength at those reminders stuck to the bloody fridge. It flies from my arms and explodes into hundreds of tiny shards, drenching the bills in blotches of red wine. The initial shock of what I have just done is replaced by an insatiable craving to cause more damage. Laughing, I rip, grab and tear the bills off their proud frames, they have sat there so long that they become part of my conscience, haunting me when I try to sleep. The sheets float high into the sky, floating down peacefully, a downpour of paper surrounds me. I scream with ecstatic delight as I hurl them above me, like a child throwing the aged autumn leaves above his head. Blood flows through my fingers as I squeeze the glass daggers hidden within the torn sheets. The pain releases, frees me with every jagged rip in my flesh, purifies me. I feel nothing except release, I am charged with electricity, all of the compression slowly building up within me over all these is flowing like a tsunami of energy out of me, the power gives me life. I clasp the broken glass tighter and tighter, ripping apart the sinewy flesh of my hands, penetrating my worn, lifeless claws. Giggling. As the diamond blades lodge themselves in muscle, bone and ligament alike, life flows into me through the gaping tears in my body. Laughing. Blood rolls down my outstretched arms high above my head, reaching for heaven. I am alive. No longer am I dying slowly, watching myself grow older in the mirror. I am living.
Reflections on an unfair world. I spent my first five years on this earth living in a small country that burrows itself into the side of West Africa, called The Gambia. Perhaps the most prevalent message this experience imprinted on me was that the world is a place of inequality. The most potent image of inequality I have comes from the day my dad took me to the market place in Bakau. It was a small village which we visited every Sunday to go to church. We would often go down to the beach during the services as the Arabic preachings were far too much for my five-year-old mind. One of our Sunday morning escapades took us deep into the dilapidated shanty-town of the village. I’ve always wondered if my dad intended for this experience to strike me the way it did. I remember the musty streets hooded in corrugated iron from the morning gloam. People fixed me with their eyes and others approached my dad with, no doubt, lucrative offers of anything from watches to fish. There were crippled old men sitting on mats outside their tin sheds and women cleaving the fins off a flaccid hammerhead shark. I clutched my dad’s hand petrified of this cramped dark poverty. That’s what this was, and probably still is; poverty, although the disillusioned residents seemed surprisingly unperturbed by their disposition. They’d learnt to be happy in their life. They knew no other. Every time I witness the whining tribulations of a fellow entitled private school student, or perhaps myself, this memory surfaces. I wish they could see the reality of life for the rest of the world. I wish the people of The Gambia could witness the life of south-side Dubliners. That’s the issue; inequality is everywhere, but we are too encapsulated by our own environment to see it. Ben McConkey
The Hired Blade I could see the house, be it faintly obscured by the towering fog, to others this would seem to be nothing more than a place to rest your head, but the knowledge I have is like a lens in my eye, it may as well have been plated with gold, and there was enough wealth holed up in there to make it happen. I’ve watched this building for a few days, the same thing always happens, the needy go in, and poor go out, leaving their pennies behind them, eventually those blood-soaked coins had been switched and sold into those of gold and ruby, it still didn’t get rid of the blood. My target was the owner, but more so his stash, lining the walls of his private rooms. The target’s name is Philip Wallace, age 28, unmarried, born in Scotland, weekly routine; Mondays at midday he buys food and supplies from the town’s centre, with each day he stayed here he has covered his face more and more, while shopping he has been vengefully attacked in public twice, both times he ran into the same small door in the alleyway beside his business, both times he escaped. On Wednesdays he purchases paintings and diamonds, at irregular times of day, every other day he stays in and cleans and maintains his wretched flytrap. By now the hostel had outgrown its reputation and he was planning to move to a new location, I expect this is not the first time, considering the remorseless skill with which he executes his pattern. He was walking into his painting room, I leapt from my building to his, I unrolled the sheet in my coat, and placed it over the chimney, his room slowly filled with smoke, he noticed this and opened his balcony window behind him, just as I planned. After the job was done, I crept to another motel and drifted off to sleep, it didn’t cost much, since the one at which I’d been in residence of put a foul taste in the mouth of folk for all businesses of the kind and this one was just about giving up. And as for my target, I could have ended him quickly with one of my throwing knives, but my employer said they would pay more if it looked like an accident, so I strangled Wallace, and then dropped the chandelier on his corpse. While I was there I decided to loot his rooms, my employer would pay well, but not phenomenally, using my knife, I expertly cut around the edges of each painting and slipped them into a bag, I took the beautifully carved golden frames as well, putting them into a different bag, one for the jeweller, one for the merchant. I also removed candlesticks, diamonds and the like, I had time, no-one was coming, no-one had seen anything, and if they did I’m sure it put a smile on their face. Lorenzo Pollastri-McLysaght 22
Unconditional The low humming in Tanya’s room was interrupted by a rustle. Anthony’s sleep-ridden eyes snapped open. Normally when he woke up, Tanya was there to greet him with his breakfast. He hauled his plump body out of bed and skulked over to where she lay sleeping peacefully, grasping her pillow with a calm look on her gaunt face. Without a moment’s hesitation, Anthony picked up the glass on her bedside table and dumped the contents over her. A blood-curdling shriek erupted from her as she flailed and sat up straight, her bulbous grey eyes writhing. “W-What was that for?” she stuttered. “I’m hungry,” he said, “Make me some breakfast.” He then slammed the glass against the wall to consolidate his point, making Tanya lurch into the sheets. But when Anthony let out a roar at the sight of blood dripping from his glass-studded hand, she leapt out of bed to patch up his wounds. Still trembling, she stumbled into the bathroom, and rummaged around in the cabinet to find something to mend his hand with. Maybe that nursing degree she gave up for Anthony was not a complete waste of time. As Anthony hurled verbal abuse at her from the adjoining room, her thoughts drifted back to her warm bed – if Anthony wasn’t a part of her life she would end up spending the entire day there. She bandaged up Anthony’s hand after shakily removing the glass with her eyebrow tweezers before treading carefully downstairs and opening the bare fridge. It had been nearly three days since she had been shopping. There was no way he would let her out of the house to get food with his obsessive need to be around her at all times. Even when she had a shower, he demanded to be in the same room as her. Where did he think she was going to go anyway? The doorbell rang just as Anthony took his seat at the head of the table. Tanya breathed a sigh of relief and tied up her wispy brown hair, still sodden with water. A smiling man with a delivery for Anthony stood. She gingerly took the package and thanked him. After signing the papers, they began chatting, even as her frail body buckled under the weight of the heavy package. She barely noticed it. Any chance to talk to someone other than Anthony was a blessing. Human contact was limited for her. On the rare occasions when he let her out, it was impossible for her even to see her friends. He always managed to remain her priority out of the house, constantly interrupting and demeaning her. The worst part was that few of her friends picked up on the way he was behaving. In fact, they often praised him for his actions. “Are you OK?” he asked, “You look a bit shaken.” She nodded and forced a smile onto her pale lips as colour flushed to her face. Anthony made it very easy to forget that some men were kind. Just as he was about to leave, a voice blurted out from inside. “I don’t think she deserves a good day,” Anthony scoffed, pushing her aside, “Look what she did to me just this morning!” Tanya’s smile dwindled. He held his hand out to the delivery man, blood already seeping the bandages. The man shot her a look of disgust and walked away. “You know I didn’t do that to you, Anthony,” she murmured, slamming the door. Anthony sighed, rolled his eyes, snatched the package from her gnarled hands and kicked her in the shins for good measure. As he sauntered away, Tanya slumped against the door and sank into the carpet. She unfurled her frayed tracksuit bottoms to look at her leg, which was transfiguring into a patchwork of bruises. Anthony’s fresh mark was already flaring up beside that reminder of the time he nearly hospitalised her when he found her nursing kit. Tanya caught her haggard reflection in the mirror. No wonder Anthony was the only one who tolerated being around her. She slumped back into the kitchen where her omelette was frying. Anthony had returned to his seat, already bored with the contents of his package. For whatever reason, he was silent and Tanya was reminded of the time when he first arrived and all he wanted from her was company. Now he wanted to control every last detail of her life from what she listened to on the radio to how long she spent in the bathroom. She knew she didn’t deserve this kind of treatment – and yet she was still grateful for him. She handed him his bowl of cereal and opened the newspaper, trying to evade having to talk to him. “I didn’t want cereal,” he grunted, casting a judgemental look, “Give me yours.” Tanya sighed. She often allowed herself to cave in and swap food with him, telling herself it was because she cared for him, but today she had finally reached her wit’s end. “No.” She had built up a resistance to his shouting over the past year and a half and tuned out as she usually did. However, the state of oblivion came to an abrupt halt as she felt ceramic hitting her head. Maybe it was the sensation of hot blood dripping into her eyes, but Tanya has finally had it. As she picked Cheerios out of her hair, she got to her feet. “You know what, you brat?” she said coldly, “This behaviour is the reason your father left us last year. And I am sick of you taking it out on me!” She plucked Anthony out of his highchair and dumped him into the buggy. “Where are we going?” he howled, sobbing frantically, kicking his legs. “Out.”
Le poème de la Saint-Valentin Un jour, le destin t’a mis sur mon chemin. Chaque minute, je tombe plus amoureux de toi. Tu es la première chose à laquelle je pense quand quelqu’un me dit de faire un vœu. Je veux juste t’embrasser, Remplis ton âme de mon amour, Je veux que tu n’aies rien. Je promets que si tu pleures, avec toi je pleurerai Et si tu manques d’air, je te le donnerai. Je veux juste être avec toi Notre histoire sera éternelle Si être avec toi est un crime, je ferais mille ans de prison Je t’aime d’ici à la lune Mon lapin.
Maria Gonzalez Bescos
Le poème d’amour pour la Saint-Valentin Je crois en l’amour depuis que je t’ai rencontré. Je n’avais aucun espoir et tu es arrivé. Je promets de ne pas te laisser partir. Ils m’ont dit d’aller chercher et j’y suis allé pour toi. T’aimer comme je t’aime est compliqué Cupidon a frappé mon cœur fort, Tu es toujours dans mon esprit C’est toi qui fais mon sourire Et qui colore mes matins. Si le monde était à moi, je te le donnerais, Pour toi, il y a tellement de choses que je ferais. Tu es ma moitié, Et ma raison de vivre. Je ne sais pas ce que je ferais sans toi
Carla Florido Bordon
The One to Rely on
Of all the words I have to pick, From millions and millions none stick.
For the first time In what felt like forever, My blank eyes were wide and staring At a vast abyss of sky, And I was immobile to move or speak Wondering how I had let the days go by,
This devil of writer’s block sets its sight, On ensuring these blank sheet remains white. Trying to take time on trivial techniques, Etching the same fingerprint, yet each unique, Setting a standard as sinister as sibilance, Imagining a kick or other such violence.
The information whirlwind In which I was surrounded, The people I aimed to please Sent ripples through the silence, And what was calm and tranquil Became a piercing cry of sirens,
Or, as the sun rises hoping to bring new ideas to mind Using similes and metaphors to ill fate combined. As I stare at the block waiting for it to crumble as one Personification or quotes? Wisely and slow/They stumblest that run.
In the hysteria, The frantic stampede, I discarded all that I needed most To keep a steady bearing, I reached out to ghosts of fingertips For none could be so daring,
After what seems an age of thoughts wrung and explored Comes the realisation that the pen is not mightier than the sword. Liam Bean Tall and Proud Tree O tall, proud tree you are so wise. You have known life for thousands of years. In the winter, you are left bare and colourless but in the spring and summer your beauty is noticed because you are lush, rich and thriving with life as you tower over people with your monumental height. Your branches are plentiful and splendid while you sway gracefully in the summer breeze, flourishing and glistening in the sunlight. In autumn, you are a captivating, magical array of colours. A beaming golden brown, a dark brown and a passionate crimson. You make a striking velvet carpet of gleaming colour as your leaves descend elegantly from your branches. You beautiful tree, you sustain life. Symbol of the living Earth. Sebastiano Joyce
But flesh and bone Are stronger still, As the cliff edge crumbled I discovered Where my own two feet stood, Though doubtful I’d overcome each strife, In the end, I would. Sadhbh O’Mahony
As I Walked Through the Park As I walked through the park, I heard the calmness of the water. Then the small ripples of ducks, as they swam by. The wind blew the water softly from side to side, as the children fed the ducks, their leftover bread. I watched small ringlets appear and widen as time passed. The children left to go home, the ducks swam back to their nests and I too left. Leaving the water in peace. Genevieve Collins
The Punishment She was in bed, barely asleep yet hardly awake, very much aware that it was here. it was her one fear, her one nightmare, it was very much here and it was very much aware that she was home alone. She knew, deep down, very much what it was, yet very little why it was and what it wanted. She closed her eyes and breathed, in. Out. Open. She stared across the room at the door, she stared at the window, she stared at the mirror. She stared at her hands, every square inch of them. The hands she had used to do terrible, every unseen thing she had gotten away with, every sneer from across the hallway. It all had a price. She shouldn’t have driven her to it, Maude, that weird girl. She shouldn’t have texted Maude about how ugly she was, how she should kill herself. It was just so easy, she was popular, she had a huge group of friends and Maude, well, Maude had nobody. Maude was a swotty little teacher’s pet. She never thought Maude would actually do it. Something creaked. She snapped out of thought. It was here to take her, she didn’t want to go and she knew all too well that it wouldn’t take her gently.. it was a mistake, she hadn’t done anything, it was all a joke, a laugh. Something fell. A mistake, it wasn’t meant to hurt anyone. Something broke. God, this wasn’t her fault. Something ran its nails along the wall. Maude’s better off gone, she thought, nobody liked her anyway. Something spoke, “it’s your fault” rattled the raspy voice, “it’s all your fault”. It wasn’t her fault, she thought, Maude’s family probably didn’t care that she was gone, hers wouldn’t. Nobody cared about her, why would anyone care about Maude? “you need to know how that feels.” Said the voice from beside her. She didn’t look up; instead she spoke, “how what feels?” “How Maude felt that day, alone. Unwanted. As if there was no other option. No other way out” “what do you mea..” Just then a sharp pain rang through her head, blood dripped down into her eyes, clouding her vision in red. Her ears still ringing from the tremendous rip, she screamed, “What the heck did you do?!” as blood flowed into her mouth making her gag and splutter. She yelled again at the thing that her vision could not meet. No reply came, but just as she was going to scream again or cry, she remembered. The newspaper article. It was reported that Maude was found dead in her bedroom, sitting on her bed, hair, fingernails, teeth and various patches of skin had been torn out leaving blood all over the remaining tissue, littered with burst arteries and veins. Maude mustn’t have been able to take it anymore, able to take her anymore. Oh lord, what had she done to Maude to make her feel this way. The article stated that Maude had torn out, one by one, her fingernails and teeth. She also supposedly ripped her own hair out. That beautiful hair, she would never admit it but she had envied that chestnut hair for ages. It always caught the perfect angle of light making her glow like an angel. Its delicate curls in just the right place. “OWWWW!!!” the cry rippled through the room hovering in places and lingering until it finally faded quietly into the air. She did not know how it had torn her nail straight off her thumb without her seeing it, and although the nail sat on her bedspread and her thumb was throbbing with the agonising pain, she held her palm up to her face. Why, she thought, did I do this? Maude hadn’t done this to herself at all, she had. “Who are you?” she whispered into the dimly lit room. The raspy voice replied, “I am the punisher, giver of what is much deserved.” She pondered these words as the rest was done, she did not cry, she did not wince, she embraced this sweet escape from the world. The world she had done wrong. Emily-Jane McDonnell
Grandad Two weeks passed and it happened again. Most people said that he was mad, that he had been for over eight years that he’d started seeing things ever since my grandmother died. For months and months, I refused to believe it- stubborn about seeing the truth that told me my grandad was insane- until I saw it myself. I didn’t mean to. I really didn’t want to. I still wish I hadn’t. I only meant to get a glass of water. I really was thirsty. I trotted down the stairs, completely unaware that my grandad had walked the same path only a couple of seconds ago. I was half asleep walking into the kitchen, grabbing a glass from the old wooden cupboard, filling it up with cold, clear water. It only took me a couple of minutes, I shouldn’t have followed the voice into the living room, I shouldn’t have listened to his voice get louder and louder until he shouted ‘got you now!’ I shouldn’t have heard him smash the chair against the ground. I shouldn’t have sneaked back up to bed. I shouldn’t have pretended it never happened. I shouldn’t have told myself that it was only a dream. I should have stopped him. When I woke up my parents told me to sleep in, stay in my room. I knew why. They were cleaning up all the damage from last night, sweeping away all the broken bits of wood, trying to think of an excuse as to why we only had one chair left. After I had finally been permitted to go downstairs I had my breakfast and assessed the damage in the sitting room. Last night we had had three chairs, this morning there was only one. That bit didn’t surprise me, two months ago we had owned eight chairs but slowly that amount has decreased. We were missing a lamp and the carpet had adopted some odd marks, but aside from that, the real damage was all inside my grandfather’s head. He kept telling the same old tale, that he had found an unrecognisable shape underneath the rug that spoke to him and taunted him, and that he had just been protecting us. I wanted him to stop talking, stop making up tales, I wanted my parents to trust him, to believe that he wasn’t really crazy, even though I myself was starting to doubt his normality. I wondered if they were mad at grandad, or if they had got to the point where they just accepted that he wasn’t sane anymore. I, myself couldn’t quite wrap my head around it. I had so many questions that I knew nobody could answer, and they drove me almost as crazy as granddad. I was spending more and more time at school, or at friends’ houses. I didn’t want to go home. I really didn’t want to see my grandfather. I tried to pretend that the whole ordeal had never occurred, like I always did, however this time it felt different. I couldn’t just erase the memory or the questions from my head. I wantedneeded- to know what was going on. I had decided. I was going to ask grandad to tell me the truth, tell me what had really happened, just walk in and talk to him. Listen to him. I wish I had the chance. Almost the minute I had made my mind up, I got a call from my mother. I was going to ignore it, continue to talk half-heartedly with my friends, but I picked the phone up. “Grandad, he has had a stroke, come quick!” I hopped off the edge of the bed and rushed a garbled goodbye to my friends. By the time I had got back to the house, my parents had already left for the hospital, I assume. I got another call from my mother, but this time I decided not to answer. I had to get rid of the questions in my head, the only way I knew how. To find the answers. I unlocked the door, with the key that I found underneath the doormat. It was only seven thirty, but already dark. The lights in my house were all off, aside from the lamp on the kitchen table that stood beside the halfeaten dinner plates. I figured that my parents had left in a rush, too concerned to remember to finish their dinner, or put the cap onto the bottle of water. I was also anxious about my grandfather’s health, but rather selfishly, I was more worried about not answering the questions in my mind, before my parents got home. I snooped around the house, but found nothing substantial enough to help. Forty-eight minutes later, I got another call on the landline from my dad. He told me, rather tearfully that my grandfather was dead. Gone. Never to laugh, or smile, or tell stupid made-up stories about the thing under the rug, ever again. Never to talk to me, or my mum and dad ever again. And I hadn’t even got to say goodbye. My questions vanished, and instead of my head being full of desperate ambitions to find answers, there was now big, tsunami waves of sadness, drowning all other thoughts. I was so selfish, not even paying attention to my grandfather in his dying hours. I hated myself, so very much at that moment. I sat there, in my living room gazing at the fireplace and Christmas tree in front of me. That’s when I saw it. The lump in the carpet. The lump that moved towards me. I stared at it, the hairs on my arm standing up, and I froze. That’s when it disappeared. It all happened so quickly that I may have even been imagining it. It drove me insane, just like it used to drive grandad insane. It was always there, the real question, “Was I crazy too?” it was a question that hung in my mind for years and years, until I figured out the answer. Am I crazy? Am I insane? Yes I am, I can now say proudly. But who isn’t? 32
The Best Summer Day The hot July sun was beaming on my olive skin as my siblings and I ran home, leaving a trail of sand from our day at the beach. Our grins were as wide as the coastline and our bodies were dripping from the clear Mediterranean Sea. Since the blazing Catalan sun had been bleeding through our small beach town all morning, we were splashing in the turquoise waves and jumping from the tall cliffs, just as my father, grandmother and great-grandmother had done years before. Every spot we explored, they had scouted previously. As we reached our small townhouse, the smell of rich garlic, onion, and olive oil wafted under our noses and gave us that burst of energy we needed to run faster. “Yaya Maria!” we squealed gleefully as we realized our great-grandmother was cooking her famous paella on her signature round pan. Her face was patterned with gentle wrinkles as she put down her wooden spoon and gave us each a hug. Yaya always gave the best hugs and I could feel her love surround me as she firmly squeezed me into her cushiony body. When Yaya cooked in the kitchen, it was always a show. Each ingredient she added was a part of her soul and conjured up memories that she too had experienced while making this dish her entire life; whether it be with her parents or with my grandmother, the paella was who she was. The pink shrimp was like the rosiness of her cheeks, the Spanish rice like the thickness of her hugs, the chicken like the tenderness of her love, the pepper like the spice she carried in her personality, and finally, the round tomatoes like the shape of her delicate face. Each ingredient was incorporated effortlessly and without any exact measurements. “Yaya Maria, how do you know how much to add?” I would ask. “It all comes from the corazon,” she would say, as a comforting grin stretched across her face. The kitchen was full of rich paella aroma and I could feel my stomach rumble from a long day of adventure. The dish bonded our family like no other since we were all enamoured by the traditional meal, and whenever it was made, we would sit together chatting for hours. I smiled at my great-grandmother, my hero, as she cracked jokes at the head of the table, still wearing her paella-stained apron. I could not have asked for a more special summer day. Isabel Bosch
Road appears and slips away in the headlights. Stars burn into life as the city falls behind. The radio hums a grainy old song on an empty signal. Outside the air is cool and still. Watch closely you might see some deer around here. It’s the same trip as always, but I wouldn’t have any other way. Same destination, same people but that’s because it’s perfect. The car, crammed with bags and family turns onto dirt roads. Crackling stones echo against the wall of trees. These old friends, each one different, all the same, pointing the way north. Pointing to the red cabin by the lake, Pointing to the weathered wood lapping in the water. Pointing to home.
Nuair a théim i mo chodladh, An bhrionglóid faoi bhláthanna, Ina luí sa ghrian An cnoc glas geal agus an t-aer gorm cosúil leis an bhfarraige Na néalta chomh bán le sneachta Leoithne san aer a luascann na crainn Féachaim timpeall le haoibh ar m’aghaidh mar táim sásta Ansin, dúisím ar maidin le haoibh ar m’aghaidh.
Esme Lawless agus Harriet Cantwell
Tír Fhliuch In Éirinn, bíonn sé ag cur báistí Ar an tsráid, níl aon pháistí Fliuch,fuar, gaofar. Féachaim amach an fhuinneog Tá sé ceomhar agus dorcha. Sa Spáinn, bíonn sé grianmhar Páistí ag súgradh sa teas láidir Te, tirim, meirbh Níl aon scamaill sa spéir Ach nuair a théimid abhaile, Tá áthas orainn Mar is aoibheann linn ár mbaile Ár dtír fhuar agus fhliuch.
How to Write a Speech
Write a speech they said? My mum spends her whole time giving them and I spend most of my time trying to avoid them! But it did get me thinking. What makes a good speech? What topic should I pick to keep you at the edge of your seats? To have you hanging on every word I say? What ingredients do I need to create the recipe of the perfect speech? Well, of course I need to have a good topic. Maybe I could do the rising issue of obesity in Ireland? Or I could do the effect Rom-Coms have on the youth today? Or even the housing crisis, world peace, endangered animals…! There are so many issues to be discussed and I can guarantee you that I have an opinion on most of them. The list goes on and on. The topic is an ingredient that should be chosen wisely. I don’t want it to be too vast a subject that my speech ends up going onto the tenth page! However I don’t want it to be a subject that I’m struggling to write a paragraph. I need to settle on something that is commonly interesting to everybody. Obviously timing is important. Many Toastmasters have this down to a fine art. In fact there are speech time calculators on the internet. A little planning goes a long way. As Mark Twain said: “It usually takes me more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.” A good speech needs to be short and snappy but also long enough to be able to get the point across to the audience. No one wants to listen to a long drawn out lecture, I had better make sure that the paragraphs are short and clear and they aren’t being babbled. Short punchy statements that’s the way to go. “A good speech is like a comet: dazzling, eye-opening and over before you know it.” Humour is very important in a speech. When adding humour into my speech I need to make sure that it’s funny to you too! I must remember to smile and laugh but that’s your cue, as the audience to laugh with me! It’s important to be careful to use humour to do with my speech. The humour needs to tie in with my topic; I can’t just use it randomly to make my audience laugh. Humour can be a dangerous thing, it can be the making if the speech or its downfall. What’s funny to one person can be wasted on another person. The funniest things are often everyday life events and in the end as Oscar Wild said: “a quotation is a serviceable substitute for wit” if I get stuck. Structure is crucial in a speech because it is important to keep all the information organised which makes it easier for the audience to understand. It starts with the main idea, the speech body and a compelling conclusion. Winston Churchill said: “If you have an important speech to make, don’t try to be subtle or clever. Hit the point once, then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time – a tremendous whack.” Be well informed in case the audience decide to ask any questions. Of course there are people who make their living from writing speeches. Many of history’s great speeches were not necessarily written by history’s great speakers. For example, John F. Kennedy, Obama and Martin Luther King all had speech writers. Martin Luther Kings “I have a dream” speech was written by himself, however his adviser Wyatt Walker often helped and told him to leave out the “I have a dream” part - although that wasn’t great advice! I wonder who is writing president Trump’s speeches but whoever it is the speeches are going to be: “BIG, like really BIG!”
I was never into that Alien, Star Trek, robot takeover, science fiction kind of rubbish. People always told me I was revolted by the world, I think I’m just more opinionated than others. I just wish everyone would get off my case every once in a while, especially my Mom. You’re probably thinking I’m one of those lonely kids who longs for their parent’s love, cause they treat them like crap, for no reason at all. Don’t get me wrong, I put up with a lot of that, but not from my parents. It’s just that my mom worries about me, which is understandable, I sometimes worry about me too. It’s hard for her. When she was in high school she was little miss perfect, everybody loved her, captain of the cheerleading squad, head of the student council, she ultimately owned the school and everyone thought she’d do great things. Unfortunately, she had me, and her dreams never really got around to happening, so she’s stuck in this picture perfect town, with a not so picture perfect son. I think her concerns really started when I was 10, in Thompson’s Toy Emporium, just down the road. The thing about Newtown is everything is only down the road. My stepdad went to get me a present for winning in the little league, which is surprising cause I’m not really the sporty type. To be honest, I don’t think I’m any kind of type. While any typical ten year old boy would’ve asked for a race car or a bb gun, I asked for the rusty typewriter. It was hung up on the back of the store, beside the vintage Coca Cola bottles. My stepdad exchanged his copy of Rumours for it. Since then rattle and clatter of the letters hitting the sheets of paper, have become the soundtrack to our household. It hasn’t helped that since then I have been expelled once, suspended six times and given God knows how many detentions. This isn’t because I’ve gone rogue and smoked behind the bleachers or started fight with someone, those are things I’d never be capable to do. What has earned me all this trouble is my writing. When I turned 12, I made a blog to share my writing, mostly just so could see it all in one place. It all began with Mr Schmidt, my eighth grade biology teacher, who was always giving out to me for sketching on the corners of my notebook in class. God he was such a pain. This led me to write about a similar character called Mr Schmitz, safe to say it was not very flattering. It became a habit, a hobby for whenever I got frustrated with someone or something. The more I wrote about people, the faster people found out and the more I got in trouble. At first, things started to crash down pretty quickly once everyone found out, people who I’d written about were really not happy. Especially my lab partner, Chad Colby, typical grade A jerk. I spoke the truth in saying “we all sprang from the apes, but unfortunately he didn’t spring far enough”. For obvious reasons the board wasn’t happy and contacted my Mom, who then took away my typewriter and had me home-schooled. The days became tiresome and lacked content. I spent most of my time staring at a TV, a wall or book. There wasn’t much to do since Mom took the typewriter and made me shut down my blog. Writing became a criminal act in the house and every night I scribbled in the notebook under my bed, rebellious to the core eh? Every day the Newtown Times was delivered to the house. The articles were a mess; they obviously did not take my carefully worded letters into account. Although, I enjoyed the crosswords, they were always a good way to pass the time. One day, I glanced over the crossword page and saw an ad written in bold italics, journalist wanted: full time, contact in New York office. Its vagueness somehow intrigued me, if it was any other time in my life I probably wouldn’t have looked at it twice. I think it’s just because I didn’t really have anything left to lose and anyone related to my story would somehow be better off if I wasn’t here. I started to think maybe Mom could aspire to the things she was expected to do all that time ago and that she mightn’t get looks from neighbours whenever she’s walking with me through the market. I’m not going to say this is because of her, it really was a selfish act on my part, she’s simply collateral. The next night I packed my favourite items into a leather suitcase and went downstairs and into the car. I quietly placed the keys in the ignition and looked at that house one last time. It was time to leave the picture perfect town
And lastly, I must keep in mind my catchment audience. I mean the possibility that the genetic sequencing of apes is going to appeal to a room full of pensioners in a nursing home is highly unlikely! I think a great recipe for a speech needs the following ingredients: a tasty topic, a big dollop of humour and of course a dash of originality and the flavouring of a good audience! Thank you! Rebecca Stevenson
The City I have a magic door. I can walk out through it and be in a parallel world. One day I can walk out and see the river and the white bridge and the olive trees on Grafton Street. And I think to myself: ‘This city is good and it belongs to me.’ Then another day I can walk out and see a woman on my doorstep crawling through her own vomit at 7 am on a Tuesday. She has wonder in her eyes. Or I can see a man whose face is a deep shade of purple that I’ve only seen on wild flowers before. He’s sort of like those flowers because of how close he is to the ground. His grey coat is the same colour as the pavement. And I think to myself: ‘This city is bad and it belongs to no one.’ My favorite thing to do is watch the tour groups walk together in a little cluster, following a colourful umbrella. I can see the excitement on their faces to learn what kind of city this is and I want to tell them about how beautiful the traffic lights look from the top floor of a bus on a rainy day. Or I could tell them about St. Stephen’s Green in May when you can’t see much green because of all the people lounging the grass. But they stop on the opposite side of the pavement from a man who is unconscious with a needle next to him. The tour guide says that there is a crisis here. There is a problem that belongs to the city. Sometimes when I walk out my door, I ask myself if it even matters who this city belongs to. Then my magic door leads me to a girl who might have been my sister. She has a pink hoodie and a wide smile and her teeth say that we don’t belong to the same world in this city. We smile warmly to each other from across the pavement and we listen to a busker play. When a few flakes of snow start to fall, I tell her to stay safe and she tells me the same. ‘Stay safe in the cold weather. Look out for yourself.’ This city belongs to both of us. Me and her. It’s our city. We are neighbors after all.
Olly I could picture it now – Olly, wrapped up in a thin blanket of rags, shivering in the cold and crisp winter air. He was hunched over on the ground, sitting on a piece of cardboard. He was on a busy street, filled with people – the banality of everyday life, as well as evil. Olly’s hands were frail and thin, almost as if they were not there at all. They were crisscrossed with blue veins, standing out starkly against the pale blankness of his wrinkled and patchy skin, almost hanging off the wrists. In his fingers, which looked too weak and feeble to be able to exert any force over even the lightest of objects, there was a cup. A cardboard cup, as if from a coffee shop. It was very battered and dilapidated now, almost falling to pieces as he held it. Olly was thrusting the cup out blindly in front of him, meekly bleating ‘please, please, any you have’ at passers-by periodically. But instead of hoping for a few spare coins to be thrown into the worn cup, Olly looked for sympathy in any form he could get it. Usually by telling stories where he was always mistreated or had emerged hard-done-by from a situation. But the gist was always the same – ‘I need you to feel sorry for me, to never want to be me, to always have to be kind to me because I get such a hard time from every other aspect in my life’. Each word of pity adding a patch to the wafer-thin blanket. But Olly could never get enough to protect himself from the biting cold, so he always thirsted for more. It was a live beast – a hunger, a fire, consuming him, burning him from within. And each time someone did dare to sympathise with him, they would be drawn into a web, forced to give pity again and again until their well had run dry and Olly moved on to the next victim, each time sucking himself further into the maelstrom. I watched, and saw it all.
Mac’s box of contradictions. The homeless proprietor lives in a two-storey cylindrical brick pyramid. His box of contradictions floats in rooted certainty on a grey foundation in the lungs of his native city. Here the air is choked with smoke breaks. He regularly flies from place to place, collecting contradictions. Mac hasn’t owned a passport since two days before he was born. When he wakes, he bathes in a purple porcelain toilet and turns the welcoming ‘open’ sign to read ‘close’, shutting the world’s least popular museum from the crowds that await outside, unseen by the suited masses of carbon who soullessly hustle towards the next paycheck. In his cynical optimism he can look out at them in wonder and envision a world without pain and with all troubles at his door. He decides that yesterday he will take stock and begins to stroll through his collection, empty rooms full of contradictions. In the corner beneath drying damp sits a guitar that drains all sound from its surroundings, mounted next to it a soothsayer’s dreamcatcher that once spat out prophecy stolen from the minds of blind petitioners to its master. The proprietor switches on the light and plunges the room into darkness; he stands on the roof and uses a night-vision blindfold to illuminate his surroundings. Only with an eyeless humidity in the room does he deem it safe to move freely. Even still, he deems it imperative that he adds a final layer of contradiction to his physical person. The shirt he doesn’t wear is rich and smooth and quite edible, instead he shrouds his upper chest in shadow, basking in the frozen warmth. Of course, the man is not a savage; he has long since changed out of the jeans he wears to bed and into the day’s pyjamas. He dislikes the way they chafe. He comes to two doors at the end of the room, now unfettered by external watchmen. Above each door is a final contradiction. Each welcoming guardian lies in beckoning him enter. Janusian keepers. One is a laminated poster; the layers of clear plastic sheath no paper. The other is a sterile cot; wooden bars hold back the emptiness. He chooses the cot door and enters a dichotomous room. Here it is cosy and warm, the heating is on but the atmosphere stagnates and is cold. There is a chest of drawers with Mac’s passport atop it, which screams unofficially of its grievance, muffled by dust. The proprietor’s wife sits in a mother’s rocking chair, though he had desired a cohesive sanity here at least she must have some barrier and so is this rooms sole contradiction, eternally bound to the chair for this purpose. Astride the passport is the unplugged reading lamp and a book of old folk tales for children. She touches neither preferring a bible. The room never changes, it is artificial purgatory created by a lonely search party. A place of near perfect sense surrounded by an armour of impossibility. He speaks softly, attends to what little needs remain. She was sick again this morning. The room is painted half blue and half pink. The bricked window floods in natural light to poison the unnatural stillness. He climbs out. Walking next door he enters a leased office now become his sense made home. The next hour is spent slowly pursuing three S’s. Refreshed and acceptable he goes about his day, loath to be away from his vacant love. First the publisher, they pursue the old dream, a tour, television appearances, promotion. He refuses and slides over his latest work. This does not satisfy, but they are content. Next the label, old news, new contract. Four more projects? Fine. It keeps them going and him suffocated by innovated arraignments of contradiction. Now onto the doctors, both. One desires to observe the cause of silence. Nostalgic belaboured congratulations; the man is tired of these deliveries. The proprietor sighs his tears in hopes that this time will give way to happiness and healing. It is not likely. The proprietor returns to his off-site office, vests again in shadow and slippers and raises himself back into his world’s lowest point. He nods the news to his wife and she lights her eyes toward heaven and away from her Limbo vigil. She must now leave the chair and trade one book for another, the page is well marked. As he leaves that room and progresses toward the door to allow the doctors perform their act he is consoled by the contenting nature of the act. Each step forward is a step back, but she will feel all the safer for it. Take in your contradictions, see what you have wrought. Only a fool seeks to please others at any cost, but he did what she asked without question such was the weakness of his love. His obsession with attaining any small happiness that would reveal her only inspired their mutual pain. He sees all the collected illogicality of his broken home, poetically justifying the torn soul of Atlas who bears them. On his journey toward the door he passes the perforated spoon and the psychedelic spectacles that made her sight clear. Cloudy music oppresses the air. No step toward the door brings him closer to it, instead he is looped up and around the house autonomously against his will. A clock screams the passing seconds. Outside physicians in pairs crash an avalanche of knocks against the door. He hears them and slows his pace with a rising tempo of footfall. In the kitchen, bereft of utensils, a freezing falafel finishes cooking. The proprietor stares through a refractive glass door at the distorted medic. The author stands illiterate, incapable of his perceived purpose and knowing the damnation they have laboured to his door. He closes it outward to permit their entrance. Wilkommen doctor. She hates these visits. Their strides are too clean, orderly. Silent protests emanate from the limbo of her seat, but only he needs must endure them. They do not shake the ears of the doctors. They are instead assaulted by the many disturbing impossibilities. Perhaps even more so by, the few precious objects which adhere to some tenets of order. Nothing could seem more out of place. A deal was long since struck, the last remaining matrimonial bond. She would endure medical consultations and he would be party to assisting the achievement of her envisioned future. Twenty minutes of tests and true confirmation brings predictive tears. But ever astute this particular practitioner of mental medicine affects an inquiry to the altered literary focus of his patient. Never before to him had she presented an interest in Irish folklore. This line of investigation leads to an odd revelation of selective consumption. She solely peruses the story of the changeling. Of stolen children replaced with
a pale imitation. She was attached to the story like a sailor to stars, he could not pry it away long enough to see the changelings story resolved. Yet another home visit had served no purpose, the doctor was no closer to understanding. Only more puzzled by the house, its shelter and the chaos it contained. His colleague displayed no happiness when delivering the confirmation, deliveries it seemed, rarely went well for that house. Each of the four would present a gradual inflection of happiness to the rising moon. A woman choked by the fog of her vigil would alight the created waiting world, purchase blue and pink paint for whichever half of the binary she bore. A family doctor would return to his local lands and thank many gods that no part of them was barren. A proprietor would curse the future but embrace the present hope. Last a recently qualified shrink would dream a resolution in his nightly paralysis, talking it through with the hag that sat and crushed his phantom ribs. The prayer would endure and never again be disturbed by the contradictions. The hope would eventually pass, and the box of contradictions, renamed for the oncoming Iníon, prove that no amount of impossibilities could fool the faeries. Another changeling would make temporal replacement, even shorter than the last. And the dreaming doctor would gradually recall his unconscious understanding. He would return to the pyramid in hopes of consolation, find the wide swung door calling its glasnost by its presented sign. It is antiquated and pristinely maintained. He hears a toilet and is reassured of the humanity of his awaited quarry. He moves through the house passing a toppled bin containing a mock-up of a future son’s passport, a dreamcatcher that serves its proper purpose, a shirt covered in a print pattern reminiscent of Swiss cheese. He passes through the fully stocked kitchen and drinks in the ambient silence of the absence of music. Truly the world’s least popular museum now the place is devoid of oddities. The hung phone box is replaced by a wall mounted landline; the scar of treated damp is illuminated by the flick of a functioning switch. This room is now bare, and the cot has been removed from its place beside one of the two doors in front of him. Above the other a poster depicting Simon and Garfunkel has been slid between two slick plastic sheets. Black cloth is wrapped about the door handle, obscuring the brass from his sight. He enters the first door to find the lonely proprietor all in his jeans, t-shirt and grief. He sits in a rocking chair between a splintered cot and window that stares out to the brick backing of neighbouring buildings. The room is painted cold grey, unheated. In his lap lie a twice-used blanket and unworn miniscule shoes. The proprietor turned to consider the intruding psychiatrist, knowing of his realisation and benevolent intent. “I wanted to keep the unspoken deal, what have my promises wrought? What was the point in loyalty?” Hours could call forth no further response. The proprietor had tricked the faeries and guided in something much more destructive. He had lost much more than a son. Neither Mac nor Iníon would call dedicative purpose upon the collection. Now only commemoration was the purpose of the empty house and its proprietor. Cal Keenan
Silence leaves me With thoughts allowed to wander Then suddenly, like a key Clicking in a lock, They turn dark And start a spark.
A tiny glass bead simmers as it slides down her face, Caressing her cheek. She stands alone, a simple glass wall separates her. Around people stare. Their glassy eyes look right through her. Just as transparent as one another. They watch, silently judging from a distance. Each one plastic. As fake as the next. They strive to be unique, But fall and become the same. She’s taunted because she’s different. Everything they wanted to be, But failed. She pleads, Wanting nothing but to be plain. A carbon copy of everyone else. She never succeeds. Both were taught the same. To be unique, is not something special. To be unique, is isolating. To be unique, is rough. To be unique, is judged. But, To be unique, is normal.
Sparks turn to fire And I try to repress it. My brain, I try to rewire But no matter all my efforts, I only wish to cry But my eyes remain dry. I breathe in and out, Hoping to forget. I want to shout And scream out loud, Be swallowed up into the ground. I worry and stress And spiral out of control But no one sees my distress Even though I know I’m breaking And sinking into madness, All because I’m anxious. Hazel Houlden
Exam Haiku(s) Pen poised, pray for me! Read the questions carefully My mind just goes blank. A Boy in a Heart Right atrium, I can feel you Oxygenate me, my love If I resist, I’m veinous blue, Send your spirit throughout my veins In the form of rich red flow Leave on my cheek a subtle stain, You’ve decorated? Walls a fresh scarlet Have you chosen to stay, my dear? In my heart, your home, incarnate. Isabel Hernandez-Kearns 42
Multiple choices. A, B, C - which one’s for me? I pick D instead. Algebra is next. If x equals y find z. Give me some help, please! Pens write as clocks tick, Across the hall someone cries. We’re in the same boat. Check and double-check. There’s nothing more I can do. I want my mum now! Nathan Scarlett 43
New Dimensions “Wait up!” Roxy yelled while running after her friends. Baily and Summer were so far ahead Roxy started to feel tense. She tried to run faster but gradually started to slow down. She began to stumble over the overgrown roots. The leaves hung on the tall trees making the entire forest dark yet still some light managed to slip through. Roxy thought this to be magical and could not help but admire it; however there was no time for such thoughts! She resumed her running leaving a trail of footprints behind her. Each step she took started to press deeper and deeper into the earth till one of her steps seeped through the ground. She gasped! As she tried to lift her foot up she only sunk deeper into the bog. “HELP” she shrieked “BAILY!” No one came. She started to breathe heavily as she stood there hopelessly. She prayed, begging for someone, something, to save her. As the fog came closer, creeping its way up her body, she extended her neck and took one last breath before the fog flooded over the top of her head concealing her from the world. Light beamed as she opened her eyes. She then quickly squinted and blinked a couple times again until her eyes adjusted. She sat up to see she was sitting on a plot of grass not far from a small town. She laid back down in exhaustion trying to remember what happened when suddenly she felt cold, wet saliva wiped against her cheek. She sat up rapidly only to realize it was only a dog. Roxy then let out a sigh of relief. She looked up at the dog, it was a German Shepherd. In the distance she spotted a town, so she decided to walk there to look for any clues on where she could be. As she walked she noticed the dog pass in front of her and start prancing as if leading the way. “I know where the town is you know.” Roxy said confidently The dog looked back at her and gave her a big grin then continued his prance towards the town. Roxy was bemused, had the dog really grinned? she wondered. They continued walking until the dog finally sat at the town’s entrance. “What you’re not going to walk anymore?” said Roxy. The dog turned his head very quickly and gave her the same evil grin as before. “Ok you really need to find a new smile because that one’s creepy!” Roxy exclaimed while entering the town. There were shops and houses scattered around and people going about their normal day. Suddenly a tall man jumped out a shop window with a brown sack in his hand which Roxy assumed to be full of loot. She backed away from the crime to ensure her safety and waited to see how the town would punish this thief. But she was taken aback when she saw how they reacted. They were cheering, applauding this man for his horrible actions. Roxy didn’t understand. Still confused by what she just witnessed she went inside a shop next to her to conceal herself from the sun. She was refreshed by the cold air-conditioning that welcomed her inside. She walked up to the counter top where the old man who ran the shop stood. She looked behind him to see a wanted poster pined on his wall but she couldn’t quite see the image of what was wanted. “What’s that?” She asked the man. The man took a step back to see what she was talking about. “The wanted poster?” the man grumbled. Roxy’s eyes widened when she saw the image. It was the dog! “Yes.” She replied nervously “That’s Shep.” The man said standing back in his original position. “Shep?” “Yes Shep... the dog.” The man responded, now irritated. “I still don’t follow. Why is he wanted?” “Oh that dog causes havoc around here ever since his owner died...” The man continued to talk but Roxy didn’t really listen, for she was more concerned about finding out how much the town was willing to pay for this dog. She leaned right and left trying to catch a glimpse of the poster. She jumped in one last attempt to see and managed to succeed. “5000 Euro!” She bellowed, interrupting the man. The man stopped talking, looked at Roxy and scowled. She ran out of the shop in fear and determination. She sprinted to where she had abandoned the dog to see him still plopped down on the ground. “Good boy Shep!” She exclaimed as she got closer. The dog’s face immediately lit up with joy as he sprung to his feet. Roxy stopped when she reached him and said “I need to get home!” Without much thought the dog turned around and started to run. She followed. Shep led her through the grass she had laid on and all the way to a sandy plain. Shep turned his head ever so often to insure Roxy was close. She was having a hard time keeping up but she trusted Shep and was not about to fall behind again. So, she kept running and running till Shep stopped in the middle of nowhere. “What?” she exclaimed He barked confidently. “I don’t know what you want me to do.” She said. Shep got up and nudged her leg. She took a step forward and her foot started to sink into the sand. “Quicksand!” She said, “Shep you genius.” She stood there calmly and waited, knowing this might be her last moments with this spectacular dog, till the sand came to her neck and she took her last breath. “Thank you.” She said. She woke up to Baily’s voice. “Come on we’re going to be late to school!” Roxy sat up from where she lay. She was in her bed. She looked around frantically examining the room and soon saw Shep laying at her bedside. She smiled and got up for another day of school, still thinking back on this amazing experience or... dream. To the world she was in. Where crimes were allowed, where bad is good. Sounds like fun. She looked down at Shep. “We shall go there again tomorrow!” She said. Alexi Bennett
Under the rug
For those of you who know
Two weeks passed and it happened again. Andrew trashed the house. Andrew, my uncle had a mental disorder, or at least that’s what I thought. He went crazy after his wife was murdered. Andrew was my only family, my parents died in a car accident when I was 3 years old and my grandparents died before I was born. My family didn’t have the best genetics, it was common for people in my family to bald early, because Andrew was half bald. Every day he would dress up with a white shirt, a red bow, black glasses, and slippers, sometimes he would even use his wife’s makeup to remember her. He would look like a magician except that he would wear jeans with a belt. Ever since Fiona Andrew’s wife died, Andrew became an alcoholic. It was dangerous for me to ask help for my homework or even talk to him in the weekend or after 10 pm. Every now and then, Andrew would trash the house and he would tell me that he saw a rodent under the rug. I never believed him because I thought he was crazy or drunk. One day I was alone, I heard a squeak. Instantly I remembered the day when Andrew trashed the house because he heard a squeak and furniture moving. I decided to explore the house. I searched everywhere. Nothing was in the attic, conservatory, living room, kitchen, bathroom and the other rooms. I began to think that I was going crazy. The squeak was so high pitch that I couldn’t find out where it came from. Andrew was not home, so I decided to sleep through the night ignoring the squeak. In the morning I woke up to furniture falling. I knew it was happening again. Andrew was probably trashing the house again. I couldn’t resist stopping him. When I entered the living room where Andrew was I couldn’t imagine what I saw. I saw a lump on the carpet. The living room was carpeted so it would be complicated to remove it. I think it was a rodent living in the floor of our house! We tried our best to remove it or even stop the chaos. Somehow, the rodent knew where we were going to hit, it could dodge the hits even though it was under a rug. I got the idea to cut the carpet with a big kitchen knife to open it. Then suddenly I realized that Andrew was not so crazy after all, or maybe I was being crazy with him. We cut the carpet successfully and the rodent didn’t want to leave it. Maybe it was just protecting something. Maybe it was a mother rat. We cut the carpet more just to get a better look at it. Once I finally saw it, I realized it could come up and attack me. I remembered learning about rats with diseases. I didn’t want to call the exterminator because that would be cruel. We were trying to catch the rat but every time we got close it would somehow escape. We were there for at least 2 hours until we finally cornered it we felt successful in cornering it. We were about to get it, but then it just disappeared. All our work was gone out the window. 3 months passed and no evidence of the rat coming back. No squeaking or moving furniture was heard. I was beginning to bond with Andrew and just get along with him more. I was not scared anymore and Andrew would get drunk less. I started to think that there wasn’t a rat even to begin with. Maybe it just was my imagination. Or maybe it was just a dream. At least it brought me closer to my uncle. At least now I considered him my father. Just because a rat was under a rug. Maybe it was just my imagination?
A hint of excitement blows through my bones, They tell us each one is unique Yet they never come alone-
New to the market, the wonder drug, that will fix even the worst problems. Possible side effects include:
The first one creates a ripple Though much lighter than a touch, But be careful of death Many more is too muchA wave of cold warmth Breathes in my veins, I must cover up To escape potential pain. One step I take Into the white, Is this a heaven? There’s so much lightWith my eyes half open I must see more, I want to feel it, inhale it With that, I close the doorIt embraces me within its flow For those of you who know, you know There’s not much better than falling snow.
Liking the music of Coldplay, Hallucinating, An uncontrollable need to drink milk, Loss of liver function, Both kidneys (and your right arm from the elbow down), Loss of all sense of humour (not noticeable in some people) Sudden dislike of the French, Superhuman strength, Fear of dishwashers, Blackouts, Levitation, Ability to sing in perfect harmony, Desire to teach the world to sign, Overwhelming urge to support Brexit, Immunity to rabies on Tuesdays (only), Ukulele addiction, A disgust of picnic tables, And gardens, And, Two (but not one or three) armadillos. Death. Take one dose every 4-6 hours. Side effects may vary.
Grace McFadyen Oliver Malfavon Lund
Just like it Was
Timpeall an tí agus an gháirdín, Ní raibh aon tásc nó tuairisc air, Chuardaigh mé ó bhun go barr, Sa teach chomh ciúin le reilig.
Looking out, with pure feelings As if God had created the perfect moment. A stillness in the chaos.
Sa seomra leapa nó seomra suí, Sa vardrús nó faoin deasc, Smaoinigh mé ar éirí as, Ach chuardaigh mé arís. Go tobann, chuala mé fuaim. “Arís! Arís!” a scread mo dheartháir ar bís, É i bhfolach ar chúl an dorais. Timpeall an tí agus an gháirdín, Ní raibh tásc nó tuairisc air… Eoghan O Mahony
Bodies moving and my gaze is fixed in a trance, This moment marked for ever in time. But only momentarily in my gaze, It was just as it was. With every touch and every sun that had ever kissed The lapping sea as it receded for the night. I hope I remember it just as it was. But these things are never just like they were, They evolve, change and separate. A distance grows, seas part, all is forgotten, Until the faintest trace of scent or the beat of a song, hits an impulse, striking and fast. Suddenly like I am there, just like it was - a tsunami, the memory.
Laethanta Saoire Saor ón scoil Is é an t-am chun ligean mo scíthe, tránna áille, spéartha gorma agus radharc tíre iontach Tús an lae ag siúl cois trá an ghrian ag scoilteadh na gcloch don lá! Sa tráthnóna súgradh le cairde, siúlóidí suimiúla sna coillte San oíche, ag siopadóireacht sna siopaí gleoite, áille in aice láimhe Críoch an lae ag ligean mo scíthe sa lóistín síochánta agus suaimhneach
The stillness in the chaos almost as if the sun Had just felt the waves for the first time and the air was still glistening With the unsaid and unknown. Some things are better left unsaid. That hint of a smile and anticipation, A glimpse into a purity that is too rare and too special for it lose itself. Only a faint break from the crashing waves, a stillness, And everything so empty and so full, Just like it should have been. RGT
Sin í mo shaoire, créid é nó ná créid tránna áille spéartha gorma agus radharc tíre iontach Evanna Hoey agus Leah Rossiter 48