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Liam Grue photograph

THE OPUS | 1


The Opus Team Staff Sponsors Ms. Sandra Hughes Mrs. Carol van Rijn Lead Staff Christen Chan, Editor-in-Chief Wesley Chow, Artistic Director Christopher Dee, Artistic Director Brian Lau, Layout Director Edward Tseng, Layout Director Edward Ngai, Literary Director Selections Team Max Bedford Benjamin Huang Kevin Isherwood Benedict Leung Evan Liu Greg Locsin Ravneet Rai Amerigo Rocha Keven Wang Andrew Warren Layout Team Kachau Leung Promotional Team Alex King Benjamin Lewis Charles Riley Cover Design Victor Hung 2 | THE OPUS


Introduction In its traditional sense, Encore may be an impassioned cry for more, a lively shout of satisfaction, a vocal testament to a job well done, but for The Opus, it’s an inquisitive, adventurous spirit, an undying curiosity to reexamine and re-appreciate the world. It encapsulates a resolve to live life in new and exciting ways, to see things once overlooked, and to realize that every single moment provides a unique and enriching opportunity for rediscovery. Encore is a journey. It will take you through familiar scenes and places. It will have you feel emotions felt before. It will show you colours you see each and every day. But, it’s a novel experience, one in which new ideas and stories enter the mix. Here, the same red of an autumn maple-leaf, the same green of verdant grass, and the same blue of a cloudless sky meet and create unexplored possibilities. Here, we take what we know and re-experience it in refreshing style, again and again. Yet, Encore is also a mystery. It’s about finding interest in the ordinary and uncovering familiarity in the exhilarating. It’s about thinking outside of not only a two-dimensional square, but of a three-dimensional cube too. It’s about not knowing, but wanting to find out more… Encore is an undeniable labour of love. A concerted effort made by so many – all for the celebration of creativity. Special thanks to the St. George’s Auxiliary and Mr. Alex Tsakumis for their continued support of this publication, to Ms. Sandra Hughes and Mrs. Carol van Rijn for their guidance and leadership, the teachers of the Art and English Departments for their submission-recommendations, and the entire Opus team for their incredible work and enthusiasm. Thank you in particular to Edward Ngai, Brian Lau, Christopher Dee, and Wesley Chow for seeing Encore through to the end. And of course, thank you to the student body, as The Opus’ collective contributor and readership. This book truly belongs to you; it showcases your tremendous breadth of talent, and is produced for your enjoyment. My sincerest gratitude to all of you, and with any luck, Encore will have you flipping through these pages time and time again, longing for more. – Christen Chan

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Milan Koerner-Safrata digital painting

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Optimist Usman Taj

The optimist who looks down, The bright student who thinks dimly, Why do things always end so grimly? First we are born, Then we die, And forever look up at a dark brown sky. Tell your family, Not to cry For you, for one day they too will die, And with you, they too Will stare through the dark brown sky, Only to ďŹ nd a blue one behind.

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Run

Milo Carbol He blundered on through the trees. He was running. He was running from them. He knew what they would do if they found him. He had heard the rumours. Yet this was the way he had come, so now he ran. His legs flew on in a blur, his feet thumping hard and fast against the ground. He did not dare to think what would happen should he fall. He dashed madly on, struggling to keep his balance as he ran past bush, rock and root. The forest seemed to be placing obstacles in his path, trying to slow him down. But he could not slow down. They were coming for him. He continued his wild and frenetic dash past the gargoylelike trees surrounding him, reminding him of how mad it was to take this route. The branches’ clawed hands groped towards him, threateningly driving him on to greater speed. He ran. He knew they were hunting. Trees flew by in a blur on either side. He ignored the flashes of brown, green and grey all mixed together. It was unimportant. All he had to do was run. The scenery was pointless. There would be other times to admire views and take in beauty. But not now. Now he had to run, or they would find him. With a surge of hope so strong it could have knocked him off his feet, he saw the edge of the forest. He could escape. He could make it. He ran on, not stopping. He was so close. There was nothing to stop him. The hope rose in his chest. Then it crashed down with him as his foot caught a stone and he fell. The breath was knocked from his lungs but he quickly began to struggle to his feet. But he stopped as his eyes caught the outline of a pair of boots in front of him, between him and freedom. They had found him.

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THE OPUS | 7

watercolor

Akaraseth Puranasamriddhi


Ben Roy & Josiah Tsang ceramics

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The Fiddler Liam Anderson

Sitting on a bar stool, a pipe pressed between his lips, Breathing in with his nose and out from between his teeth, Encompassing his lover with his guilty pleasures. His mahogany eyes twinkled with every strike of a match, And his cheeks and pointed nose are bloodshot From the fog outside and the ale within. Uncombed, chestnut hair is young looking As it recedes into the corners of his forehead, Almost parallel to the deep wrinkles of loss And love burned into his brow. Like a blossoming flower growing between thorns, Age lines surrounding his pursed, faint lips and ‘Round the outside corners of his eyes give harsh contrast To a youthful soul and a cheeky whit in his eye; A frank reality of aging before one’s old. Caressing the strings, disheartened, Yet strong fingers examine his life up until then; A story no one knows. Thick knuckles, callused fingertips and yellow nails, A result of pipe smoke and sidewalk grunge. Music emanates from him, Telling the story no one knows.

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How to Recover from a Blown Date Harrison Xu

Have you ever heard of the term “nightmare date?” Have you ever been set up on a blind date by one of your friends, only to have it go miserably wrong? This handbook details the best ways to handle and escape from this daunting situation that hopefully no poor soul will ever have to encounter. With many years of pondering numerous methods of recovering from a worst-case scenario rendezvous with the opposite sex, this handbook will equip you with the integral tools you’ll need to think fast on your feet when the time comes. So you’ve followed all the rules of the previous handbook “How to Impress Your Date, Edition Five: For Men,” but things have started to fall apart. You have awkward conversations about pointless things such as the weather and she only replies with responses that consist of one or maybe, if you’re lucky, two words. Eye contact between you two hasn’t lasted for over three seconds and she’s even caught you gawking at her voluptuous breasts. Once she’s pulled out the dreaded cell phone from her pocket, you know that it’s time to start applying the procedures from this handbook. The main goal is to turn the whole atmosphere of the date around as quickly as possible before she leaves. The last handbook instructed you to bring your date to any decent restaurant besides McDonalds, Chuck-E-Cheeses or Hooters, so odds are, you’re probably eating somewhere nice. After she’s pulled out her cell phone, there are many different directions that you can go in. The first thing you can do is start a conversation relating to the cell phone. The two favourites from the previous edition were, “Hey, nice phone you’ve got there. I owned the same model last year before I sold it and donated the money to charity” and “Did you know those can give you cancer?” The 10 | THE OPUS


first one shows your date two things: you’re rich and you also care about the underprivileged. The second one is a conversation starter because this is something debatable. You should also study this topic beforehand, so you can show her the extensive knowledge you possess. The main concept behind this is to say something comical or controversial to get talking again. Another possible thing you can do is compliment her at the most unexpected time. When she reaches down into her pocket for the phone, you should flatter her by talking about something that no one else has. This will make her smile because what you say will be unexpected and kindhearted. A new compliment that has been tested multiple times has been added to this year’s installment of the manual. The bold statement, “I just realized that you have the most perfectly-shaped forehead that I have ever seen,” will surely get her thoughts running. She’ll thank you for the compliment and throughout the night, you should sneak a couple more in there. By the end of the night, she’ll feel like she’s the most beautiful woman in the world and she might even give you a kiss. If none of the above two choices seem to be working, there a last-ditch option that you can still apply. If nothing has gone right even after using one of the methods described above, there is still one last thing you can do. You can stare at her and smile until she acknowledges you. Then you can start laughing really loudly and when she asks what you’re doing you can pull out your phone and respond, “The joke’s on you! I was recording our whole conversation to gain more information to put in my new book ‘How to Recover from a Blown Date’. Everything I did before was a part of my experiment”. You have to recite every single word as it is written to get the full effect. This procedure will do two things. It will allow you to start the date all over again on a new note and it will increase the sales of my book. If she laughs, you can start a conversation about the “experiment” that you are conducting, but if she becomes even more annoyed, you always have your final option: RUN.

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A School in the East Harmillan Oberoi

A fourteen hour plane ight Touching down in a new world, New paths to be traveled on Shining, tropical, exotic, Long train rides Open vast gates of knowledge, A new education awaits me In the valley of owers, New experiences to be gained New friends to be made, Playing cricket in the rain Beds full of bugs, Cantankerous languages to be learned New cultures to be discovered, New curries to be tried New sports to be played, Friendships gained in Hindi The alchemy of languages, Take my leave with a new enlightenment From the land of the Buddha, With scores of mosquito bites The wanderer returns to the West. 12 | THE OPUS


Christopher Dee photograph

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Nico Siy acrylic

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Chapter 16 – Specific Disorders & Treatments Benjamin Mintzberg

I miss my youth, not in general, but for one specific reason. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not, like, a life-long member of Peter Pan and Co.; I’m not some psycho with a dangerously-fashionable crew cut whose only desire is to catch children when they run off fields of rye, or some pawn terrified to move for fear of the conflicts that will inevitably happen between the starting position and when the Queen slices my ankles and I get to see my dog again (she’ll have unfortunately died before I will). I just miss that aspect of youth that exempts a child from paying full fare at movie theatres. “One general for the 1:50 showing of Revolutionary Road, please.” As a side note, I’d just like to say that I’m not frugal. In fact, if I lived in the fifties, and my wife were a credit card, I would have abused her like it’s no one’s business. The person behind the counter is a woman, so now I feel a little guilty, but I’m really polite and smiley to make up for it, especially since I highly respect women. I was basically raised by eight of them: my mom and three sisters, Carrie, Miranda, Samantha, and Charlotte. My sisters would always watch Sex and the City on Friday nights and I would too, since Friday nights and Saturday mornings were the only times we were really allowed to watch TV. I’m only partially being truthful; I like the show. I don’t usually go to see movies alone; in fact, I never have until this afternoon. It’s weird because for years I’ve been as independent as an adolescent sea turtle – according to Crush in Finding Nemo, they leave their parents at a very young age, and don’t return until adulthood. I took my first bus ride on the 410 to Richmond Centre when I was about eleven, and at thirteen, I practically had ultimate access to my Dad’s credit card and rewards accounts to book flights for him. THE OPUS | 15


The time is either twelve thirty-two or twelve forty-seven. No, it’s twelve thirty-two. I usually can’t read clocks so well. I end up looking at them and trying to describe where everything is, for example: “Uhhh, two minutes past the half way mark... the small hand is between twelve and one, so it’s twelve... thirty... two.” That means I have about an hour and a bit until the ‘Coming Soon’s start, which is usually my favorite part of the entire movie-going process. I also love standing in line outside a classy theatre that caters to the intellectual, yoga-doing populace, listening to the discussions about the film that people are just leaving. I think it’s pretty cute. Today I’m going to that big one downtown, the Scotiabank Theatre, which is a big deal for a kid from the south side of the Arthur Laing. I figure I might as well go to Starbucks to kill some time. One block up there’s this fantastic intersection with about four or five Starbucks’, all within twenty-five meters of each other. My favorite activity to do downtown is to pit the pros and cons of each against each other to decide which one to hit up; today, the one underneath Red Robin. They have to buzz you into the washrooms there otherwise sketchy people who come in trembling, muttering things in Parseltongue, and yelling things in English, walk out after a while looking considerably more relaxed. I order my drink in much the same way as would an electrician explaining the workings of circuit board, and sit down at the table reserved for handicapped people. I’m pretty wild that way. We were meant to read chapter sixteen for psychology over the winter holidays, so I open my textbook with the snobby, bored look of a brat removing the top piece of bread on a sub-standard sandwich to survey the contents. Chapter 16 – Specific Disorders and Treatments. How fitting. From my seat at the handicapped table I can see one schizophrenic through the window. The same man may also be wondering how he could coax the barista into buzzing him into the washroom. Huh. Chapter 16 is surprisingly relevant. Atta boy, Professor Kalat, author of Introduction to Psychology. I scan the page for the key terms printed in bold yellow, trying my best to ignore any sentences with explanation points; evidently, the author thinks himself both clever and hilarious when he manages to make a psychology joke in an attempt to connect with the first-year university students who are forced to purchase his textbook. The jokes are 16 | THE OPUS


almost as unfortunate as the fact that Hitler’s father didn’t pull out. “Depression is a condition characterized by a loss of interest and pleasure and a lack of productive activity.” I’ll tell you what’s depressing: this Starbucks location. I have to pee like no other but I have a feeling that Schizophrenic Man #1 is some sort of math genius and will figure out how to break into the washroom while I’m in there. I look at my watch; I look at my cell phone. The time is 1:11. I’ll finish this bit about depression and then head back to the theatre for my first ever solo cinematic adventure. I take the book off the table, excited to see a movie by myself, and excited to see Kate and Leo

Sam Harris pencil

reunite (1998, when the Titanic sunk, was a while ago). The blue handicapped logo on the table, like a scarlet letter, is revealed. At first I think it to be a symbol of the shame and embarrassment of having a problem, but maybe those people are in denial until they are ignorant to their condition without a scarlet letter. Take depression, for instance. I imagine that it can be a real bitch. There are all these people poking and prodding at it, since it’s something, after all, but to THE OPUS | 17


the person who has it, it’s just, like, a feeling like being dark and twisty in nature, or whatever. From now on, I’m going to the one across the street where all the hipsters hang and discuss Jack Carawack; this Starbucks depresses the hell out of me. I walk back to the theatre and read a film review that is posted on a wall. Apparently Revolutionary Road is depressing. Lovely. If I knew it had roughly the same themes, plot, and director as American Beauty, I honestly would have read a magazine where the world is perfect and airbrushed, instead of The Mind, and Life Itself, is a Dark Jungle Somewhere Deep in the Congo, eight edition. I choose a seat precisely in the middle of the theatre: middle of the middle row. For some reason I’m proud I managed to snatch the seat before the two other people in the theatre did. These sorts of things give me quite the thrill. The movie starts without a mention of the title or names of the sexy actors in it, virtually straight to the meeting between them. It’s kind of sad how an actress in training ends up playing house and a longshoreman toils all day at an office job he feels is stupid and insignificant. It’s like they’re jumping off a wall to conform, and though everyone says they’re such a perfect couple for doing so, they’re both so broken by the leap. So they buy a nice house – a big, nice house – and buy into the American dream. Later, April acts in this crappy play that none of her suburban playmates like, maybe because the play represents her escape from a life she can’t stand, like being another character is the best way she can live out her dreams, despite the house on Revolutionary Road, or whatever. I dunno. On the drive home, a bitter display of displaced anger on the part of Frank Wheeler goes down; his fist goes BAM BAM BAM on the car, not April. I remember once my family was in Calgary to decorate my Dad’s stores for Christmas, and my sister was in the middle of what later became known as her “Grade 8 Phase,” just being a difficult teenager and pursuing various angsty monkeyshines, bless her heart, the little champ. Though I’d classify Frank as abusive and my Dad as merely an unfriendly disciplinarian when I was a child, something about the look on Leonardo DiCaprio’s face reminds me of that morning. The best scenes are the ones with John, who comes in occasionally to cause some drama and mess with the Wheelers’ 18 | THE OPUS


minds. He’s nuts, literally; I love it. I bet even a psychologist would agree. He seems to have this pretty immense effect on the Wheelers, in particular. Some people might say that they are just sensitive but my mum would for sure say that they have a low resistance due to malnourishment. She said that to me when I got really sick once, like it was my fault or something. After John leaves the Wheelers’ house at the climax of the film, Frank and April have this massive argument about her pregnancy, and the fact that she wanted to abort it, but he forced her to keep it. Basically, she knows what’s best for her, yet he’s punishing her for it, like always on her back about it. John’s like a sickness to them. He does some pretty messed up things to their lives. When I bought my ticket, like, three or four hours ago I said I missed my youth because of the admission price at movie theatres. Now I feel like something pretty lousy and traumatic happened to me at some point in my growing up, and I’ve been in denial about its magnitude until now. I suppose it’s important to recognize and treat it, but it shouldn’t be worn like a scarlet letter, because that stays on one’s chest for life. Nothing lasts unless people make it so. John left the house; Frank and April just have to heal. This depression of mine will pass, but I still intend to be dark and twisty. It’s my quirk.

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Alex King graphite

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Isaac Penn photograph

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Edison Jyang ceramics

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The Hidden Side Milo Carbol

It is day at the movie theatre. The staccato of bursting popcorn crackles in the air, while its delicious, buttery scent wafts around, tickling the nose with an oily sensation. People chatter amiably in the warm light of the lobby as they drink in the mouth-watering aroma. Laughter spills through open doors into the street and floats up amid the fluorescent signs of the outside. Contentment is almost tangible. But slowly the cheery customers depart; the comforting lights begin to dim. And the theatre comes alive. In the darkness, the walls begin creaky, whispered conversations, their ghostly murmurs floating chillingly through the air. Dim lights cause unearthly shadows to dance weirdly on the towering, lifeless walls, while air that was once still, inexplicably stirs. It drifts silently along the ground, sinuously encircling your feet and wrapping you in its cold embrace. It brushes your skin gently, caressing your face in a way that seems almost loving. Almost. This haunting wind follows you through the ancient building, stalking you, continuing to entangle you in its wraithlike tendrils, while the dense carpet catches your shoes, causing dull thuds to sound from behind you as ethereal echoes awake. The cleaning lights high above slowly begin to brighten, but even they offer nothing save a dim, eerie illumination of the floor just ahead. There is no sound but the haunted dialogue of the walls and the faint, spectral whispers of the phantasmal breeze. Such is night at the theatre.

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Benjamin Lewis soft brick

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Misinterpreted Beauty Anonymous

Her beauty lies in her simplicity. The girl I dreamt about when I was young appeared to me one day and hasn’t left my dreams since. Dark, messy hair, hazel eyes and soft freckled skin compliment her curves. Perfection, except, the beautiful girl I see one day might not be there the next. One month ago I wanted nothing to do with her. She inflicted pain like a deranged nurse with rusty needles. A dark, empty machine swallowed me and constricted my insides. She was a shadow of her former self; her features were dark, sharp and ugly, her body was shapeless. The speed in which she moved was alarming, to say the least. She left me on my knees, grasping for the hope that wasn’t there. She was a woman; I was the aimless child. Two weeks ago, she was short, frail, a fraction of the women she used to be, she had regressed. I saw a side of her I’d never seen before; the vulnerability was pouring out of her very pores, with a force matched only by the tears that flowed down her cheeks. In her weakness she was beautiful, but who was I to know if it was real? With each sob that escaped her throat, I became more and more indecisive, if that was even possible. I remained strong, though. She deserved what she got; the tears that tore at her cheeks like daggers, and the interminable, haunting darkness of sleepless nights. Now she is the most beautiful woman in the world. She shines, she shimmers, she struts, she stutters because she has no more words. Her past wrongdoings, our past problems have given her an immense strength. Friend, lover, counselor, pillow; she is versatile. Her body melds with mine with a seeming illegality that leaves me dumbstruck. Everything we’ve been through has led to right now. I am blind to everything but her. This girl is here to stay. I hope. THE OPUS | 25


Patience Paul Young

Patience - [pey-shuh ns] – noun: tolerance of delay; withstanding provocation, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, or aggravation. They tell me patience is a virtue That all good things take time, and that few Precious lives ever make it to those gates. So tell me now, how can I wait and wait When my head rends itself in two; All the while thinking, and waiting and waiting for you. And when, passing by, two, alone in the park Stealing furtive glances, hands fluttering in the dark. And in their eyes the gaze, the glitter, the spark, I find. Look at time’s hands, look at how they bind You away. Is this fair? Is this truly just? That even the iron heart, in the rain, begins to rust. How do I say I miss you; how do I say I need you When you’ve been here for me all along, through and through. You were lost somewhere between my eyes and my lies And now I come to you humbled, will you take me? Even after my goodbyes? Will you take me as I am? Cracked, shattered, and broken. These may only be words, but they are my words, and had I spoken Only sooner, had I seen and not looked, perhaps I could have saved Myself much torment and pain. Saved myself, from the stones with which I paved My heart. Will you take me? Even when you know me. Will you forgive me for my past, and hold me as what you now see. Will you still want me when you learn the confines of my mind? When you know me better than I know myself, when you find 26 | THE OPUS


My darkest thought, will you fear me, will you run. And when I’m all alone, will you stop the bullet, throw the gun? You, and you alone, is all of that I ask. May greed itself consume me, but to bask In your beauty, in your splendor, Would no longer keep me a stranger At the foot of your garden, and I knock At your gate, will you let me in, and undo the lock? Will you show me our knot? Made one from two. I don’t know how else to say this, but I miss you

Christopher Dee scratchboard

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Neilson Koerner-Safrata graphite

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Untitled Anonymous

A fight not worth fighting. A war not worth winning. Sweat, blood, tears. For what. Maybe its time to stop. Maybe its time to lay down our weapons. Maybe its time to realize that two wrongs don’t make a right. Maybe its time to start working for something that actually matters. Maybe its time to start anew

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Run

Milo Carbol He blundered on through the trees. He was running. He was running from them. He knew what they would do if they found him. He had heard the rumours. Yet this was the way he had come, so now he ran. His legs flew on in a blur, his feet thumping hard and fast against the ground. He did not dare to think what would happen should he fall. He dashed madly on, struggling to keep his balance as he ran past bush, rock and root. The forest seemed to be placing obstacles in his path, trying to slow him down. But he could not slow down. They were coming for him. He continued his wild and frenetic dash past the gargoylelike trees surrounding him, reminding him of how mad it was to take this route. The branches’ clawed hands groped towards him, threateningly driving him on to greater speed. He ran. He knew they were hunting. Trees flew by in a blur on either side. He ignored the flashes of brown, green and grey all mixed together. It was unimportant. All he had to do was run. The scenery was pointless. There would be other times to admire views and take in beauty. But not now. Now he had to run, or they would find him. With a surge of hope so strong it could have knocked him off his feet, he saw the edge of the forest. He could escape. He could make it. He ran on, not stopping. He was so close. There was nothing to stop him. The hope rose in his chest. Then it crashed down with him as his foot caught a stone and he fell. The breath was knocked from his lungs but he quickly began to struggle to his feet. But he stopped as his eyes caught the outline of a pair of boots in front of him, between him and freedom. They had found him.

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Sam Harris pencil

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Conscript Phillip Pennell

November 3rd, 2011. That’s when it happened. Wasn’t surprised, to be honest. Ever since the Spratly Islands incidents, the more enlightened among us knew what was coming. The UN was useless, always was. Words from leaders weren’t enough this time. Talks, handshakes and smiles were swept aside by the grim realization that the Third World War was just a faux pas away. And when that faux-pas was made, and the honey-laced words turned sour, they were replaced with battleships and jet fighters… And we dug ourselves in, fully aware that most of humanity would never climb back out. It was said once, by a wise man, that whilst he knew not what the Third World War would be fought with, he knew the Fourth would be fought with sticks and stones. Well, to put it mildly, that’s bullshit. We’ve been fighting for three years now and they haven’t fired a single nuke. Why? It’s beyond me, but I’m assuming the weapons companies wouldn’t like it if their main customers got vaporized in a cloud of radioactive dust. So, instead, it’s the GIs. My generation, out there in the festering hell hole that was the front line. Cities stood like memoirs, eerily silent, save the constant, rhythmic pounding of gunfire. Roads once ruled by minivans driving children to school, now cracked and scarred by the great number of treads that had savaged the asphalt. And there they are, fighting and dying like circus animals so some suit can sell more bullets to the government. Who am I? Well, for starters, I’m lucky. Lucky I’m smart and lucky I got into college. Country needs people like me. So I didn’t get conscripted. Wish my stupid friends could say the same. Plucked like ragdolls from their lives, thrust into the welcoming arms of death. You’re conscripted and you have two years, then you can come back. I’ve yet to see a single veteran of this war. 32 | THE OPUS


Studying in school paid off. All those kids who just sat, resentful of authority and knowledge, not giving a shit about how they did, they took the worst of it. I bet those who still can are regretting it now. Regretting they aren’t in college, regretting they didn’t pay attention in English class. Used to get dirty looks from them after I handed in another project, every time I turned down a joint and every time I scoffed at their miserable existence, when they found out I had been accepted as an undergrad at Yale. Every day it was the same bullcrap. That was until the recruitment office came around. Asked the principal to take all the kids going on to post-secondary and to move them into another room. Those that stayed put… I never saw them again. Probably in a ditch now, drained of blood, life and dignity. Yale was good, I suppose. Despite the pictures on TV, one could have spent the first half of that war on campus and not known we were fighting for our existence. Groves of green and the songs of birds covered the land like make up in a pathetic attempt to conceal what was the harsh reality. Other than that, silence reigned as busy students went about their studies. And there I was, a mindless clone amongst them. Business was my plan. I knew about the suits behind the guns. And I wanted to be one. The money involved was ludicrous, and every one wants to whisper venom into the President’s ear at some time or another. And I was good at it, too. Almost made it. If only I hadn’t taken that summer off… Jeanine was the girl of my dreams. We were alike in a lot of different ways. Both from rich families, smart, logical and ambitious. And like me, she didn’t give a shit about the poor sobs who were dying to keep her country in existence. When we started to date I couldn’t really think of anything else. Stopped paying so much attention in class. I guess her ass was more important than my job at the weapons manufacturer. And the government noticed. They needed polished, perfect grads, not dropouts like I was bound to be. And so they sent me a nice letter, telling me I was to report to the campus recruitment office. My freedom died that day. After they put me in a uniform, pressed a rifle into my hands THE OPUS | 33


and bunked me in a musky barracks hall that smelled of tears, they beat the knowledge out of my brain and replaced it with the ability to slaughter. To kill sons, daughters, wives and children, mercilessly and all for the benefit of the country, as if patriotic chants gave me the right to bereave another of life. And slowly, six months later, from the broken corpse of my student body emerged a timid, nervous soldier. Those six months didn’t go too well for us. They got to our shores, they bombed our cities and killed our men. They sank our ships, wrecked our lives and came charging across the ocean like murderous bloodhounds, having caught the scent of victory and being unable to let it go. And then, America the Brave, America the Beautiful, for the first time, was under the direct threat of annihilation. And all that stood between them and the end of the western world was a bunch of mind-fucked veterans and some desperate, last

Graham Lee photograph

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minute recruits. All that stood between the horde of death and my Jeanine, my mother, father and country, was me. I hope to God they die with dignity… Here I was, some wide-eyed cherry amongst a group of survivors. If the people they once were still hid in those shells of human bodies, witness to deaths of countries, order, friends and comrades, their own sanity and humanity, were still hiding in some dark corner of their tired brains, they hid well. They were the lucky ones, I guess. They’d made it back on the last ships, just as our positions were overrun and their friends were torn to shreds by merciless gunfire. How they got back, I don’t know. But I was glad to have some backbone to support my ineptitude. They hated me. That’s for sure. They didn’t see a friend, a comrade and a warrior. They saw a coward who had cowered behind his student status. My squad gave me the looks I got in high school, except this time they betrayed to me pain, fear, and apathy towards it all. And for the first time in my life, it was me who was scared. As we took our first cautious steps into the hulking skeleton of New York, I could still hear enemy bombers as they flew away, fleeing past the horizon, as if ashamed of what they’d done, eager to escape the hell we were jumping into. Three days. That’s what it took them. Ten thousand of our guys marched into that city, and I don’t think any will ever come out. The charred hulls of tanks lay scattered in the streets, amongst the bloody corpses of the foe and the lifeless bodies of friends. It wasn’t like a game, not then. Five. That’s how many I’ve killed, and that’s what’s going to remain with me for what will probably be a short life. My face is covered in ash, blood, sweat and laced with tears. A dark, damp red circle has spread from my left shoulder, an enemy bullet lodged deep within the tissue of my body. And here I am, haven’t seen a friendly squad in two hours. But I’ve seen enemy squads, you can be sure of that. Those bastards are everywhere, in buildings and on the streets. They crawl like locusts, infecting the Big Apple like a malevolent worm. And every time you kill one, three more take THE OPUS | 35


his place. I’m almost out of ammo, I’m out of food and I haven’t had a drink in two days, since I got separated from my squad. My eyes don’t shine anymore and my lips are cracked and scarred, my voice is now but a hoarse whisper of pain and regret. I guess this is it. How I managed to survive that night I don’t know. A squad of the bastards found me last night, and as they burst into my hiding spot, the fifth floor of an office building down somewhere on Main Street, I killed them. I watched the bullets enter their bodies, expressions of determination twist into pain, rage and death. And as they collapsed upon the ground, pooling in their dusty blood, I fell to my knees and almost lost consciousness. I looked into the dead, milky eyes of a young enemy, no older than myself. And as the tears fell onto his visage, they swept downward, carrying with them an insignificant amount of the dirt and pain he too bore. Or had, until I delivered him. Amidst the croaking sobs, I began to laugh. Amidst the pain, the hunger and the exhaustion, my hoarse cackle echoed throughout the silent street. I didn’t bother hiding it anymore. I was almost too weak to hold myself up. As I gazed across the street through a bloodied and shattered glass pane window, I saw the cold, hardened eyes of an enemy sniper in the building across the street. And they saw mine. I could see the end of his rifle as he aimed it at my head. And through it all I didn’t stop laughing. I got up on one knee, raised my left hand, and I fingered him. That’s when he pulled the trigger. And all I remember is how nice I thought it would be if I could fall asleep in Jeanine’s arms.

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Kevin Isherwood acrylic

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Jackie Yang ceramics

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Seraphim Amerigo Rocha

Hidden heart’s glory, Hidden heart’s demise, Should you dare to show them truth You shall be the first to die. And though in daylight we cannot fly, Behind bright shadow betrayals lie, Sons, not daughters, on us spy Yet six wings hang in gilded sky. Ten pyramids, inverted now, Seraph choirs wonder how Entombed beneath the holy ground One thousand kings had lost their crowns. So raise your heads, ye murderers, high! Your bellicose glories are naught but lies; So on the day that you take your lives, Eternal shame shall yet be mine.

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Milan Koerner-Safrata photograph

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Nightfall

Jordan Ho & Andrew Lowe The skies continue to loom above the earth, seemingly foreshadowing the perils soon to spread across the desolate terrain. Though it was daytime, light had yet to grace the land, failing to penetrate the dense and unending cloud formations. The trees are barren and the soil is parched; even the most resilient creatures struggle to survive. Our planet is dying. Not one pleasant sound has filled the air even after the war’s end. Gunfire and screams are our lullabies at night and the thud of our boots are our melody during the day. Merely one fortnight has passed since Silvio and I had escaped the ruins of our city, only to begin a perpetual struggle between life and death. ***** I wake to the creaking of decaying spruce wood; our makeshift shelter needs repairs. Silvio is already up, stoking the fire to heat our tea. Grabbing the kettle, I prepare some tea with the tree bark that we collected the night before. “And you said instructing first-years on natural herbs and medicines was a useless profession,” I teased. “Hey, remember who built our shelter, Mr. Aboriginal,” Silvio retorted with a smile. Life was simple then. He was a builder, and I, a professor, living our lives as colleagues and friends. We reminisce about the past, as the future looks rather grim. Our world of order and structure has never seemed so far away. The kettle whistles quietly, returning ourselves to the reality of our dire situation. “Hey, tea time’s over. C’mon Zach, drink up and we’ll head off to re-supply and re-equip.” I walk over to our cache and open the rusted lid. I peer in and examine our assortment of worn out tools and weapons. We made some progress, but hardly enough to fully equip ourselves. Medical equipment was also hard to come by; with THE OPUS | 41


one medical kit and a single vial of morphine at our disposal, a few shallow wounds could very well be fatal. “Well, if we don’t want to die, I suppose we should start looking.” I grab my trench spikes and toss Silvio his machete. The remains of the army were plentiful, spread across the terrain, and there was still more treasure yet to be uncovered. Throwing on the vests we unearthed just yesterday, we set off on another excursion through the desolate land we once called home. ***** Bandits. They’re all too prevalent in this post-apocalyptic nightmare. Unluckily for us, we just spotted a small group up ahead. It seems as if we’re the only lights left in a world of shadows. “We can take them,” whispered Silvio. “Their backs are turned; they’ll never know what hit them.” I can’t help but notice a gleam of excitement in his eyes. It seems as if his motives have changed from self-preservation to bloodlust, even sport. However, this time I must agree; the group is too close to be ignored. I nod, and we quietly move up, using what little cover we can find. Silently, we dispatch two of the three, piercing the third before a scream even reaches his lips. My stomach turns; I still feel uneasy after taking a life. “Hey, look over here,” Silvio called with a grin. “Looks like these bandits found the jackpot for us!” A package of C-4 and several explosives lay at our feet. Carefully picking the articles up, we decide to return to camp when Silvio suddenly stops in his tracks. “I’ll catch up with you later,” Silvio said. “I thought I saw something over there.” I thought I saw that all-too-familiar gleam return, but we split up nonetheless. I returned to our camp, placing the newly found explosives in our cache. An hour passes, and Silvio does not return. Thunderclouds start rolling in, and I begin to worry. I return to where we parted ways, only to hear screams piercing the air nearby. Fearing for my friend’s life, I rush towards the noise, only to find Silvio 42 | THE OPUS


surrounded by bandits, raiding a small settlement with bodies littering the ground. ***** “Silvio!” I shout madly into the air. How could he do this? The bodies of innocents, children, fellow survivors, fighting for life, for hope, were strewn across the earth; my friend had killed them all. “They were harmless and weaponless; why bring the hand of death further upon this land?” Silvio steps away from the group and smiles. “I believe it’s called…initiation.” I can only stare and listen as he approaches, unable to process what is happening. “You see Zach, as friendships go, our bond was especially strong. Surviving together has been harsh, but we held on to each other, striving to continue following our morals, our ideals in this new world. You definitely had passion, a true light shining brightly.” Standing face to face, the knife easily penetrates my chest, letting blood flow freely from the wound. “But there’s no room for people like you in this world,” Silvio remarks, as he shoves me to the ground and walks away. Lying on the ground, I could hear the laughter of the group disappear slowly as my vision fades to black. ***** I wake suddenly to a downpour of rain, the water seeping through to my skin. Sitting up slowly, I cringe as a jolt of pain crosses my chest. It is already late afternoon, I had survived, and my best friend had left me to die. Getting up, I limp back towards our… or rather my camp. Leaving my wound untreated would allow infection to set in, a problem I can not afford. As I walk, I slowly wrap my mind around what has happened. “My best friend just tried to kill me.” My progress is painstakingly slow, but finally, I make my way THE OPUS | 43


to the shelter. Collapsing on the bed of leaves, the pain in my chest springs anew, and emotions once more flood my mind. We grew up together, lived together, and survived together as best friends, as brothers. Yet just hours earlier, he gave up our friendship, our bond, for a life of pleasure, a life of greed, and a life of depravity. Emotions surging, I finally let the dam break. Anger and hatred course through my very being as I release a scream into the cool evening air. Injecting myself with morphine, I grab the weapons cache and run outside, with one thought in mind. “He has killed my past. I’ll end his future.” ***** The tavern is aglow with light and filled with bandits, Silvio in the midst of it all. Apart from the obvious disrepair, it seems almost like life before the disaster. Spoils of previous raids litter the floor, and debauchery and chaos can be found as far as the eye can see. As Silvio reaches for another mug of beer, a single gunshot rings through the air. Silence sweeps through the merry band, save one small metal canister rolling across the floor. The explosion is deafening; limbs and blood fly through the air as Zach crashes through the door. Bullets fire and knives pierce his flesh, but nothing slows his path. Ripping through bodies, crushing skulls and breaking bones with trench spikes in hand, he finally reaches Silvio as machetes lodge themselves in his back. Though coughing up blood, Zach grins and stands strong as he throws his former friend to the ground. Fear could be felt in the air; this man, this demon, would not die. “I thought you were dead,” said Silvio, with terror in his eyes. “Zach, I thought you were dead!” Kneeling down, Zach whispers softly in his ear. “Zach is dead. You’ll join him momentarily.” Lariciam la rehebut L. Sulum in Itarbis trecris. C. Catur. Ignatui detoredo, merevili tam res intrum apere, multortus ocaveni rmihiciemum demusce siliur, nostertus autella maiorum es patiame ratius acena, vividit vidi ium te constius, publici tantern ihicae mo ad nocupicaur us rendem ac tusatis. Nam condees! Impliam untemusque es pora, 44 | THE OPUS


Edison Jyang ceramics

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Kevin Isherwood acrylic

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Poetry Paul Young

If language were the garden In which we sow our seeds of literature, And common everyday words Be the soil, water, and the sun Then poetry is those which Rise from the ground; A ower, a weed, Beautiful, perfect, Infectious

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A New Style of Education Alex Lin

The audience applauded passionately after the loud announcement preceding the entrance of the delegation representing Earth. The annual Universal Educators’ Forum was the largest and the most meticulously organized conference to date. This year was no different with representation from more than four thousand planets and approximately ten thousand leading educators in the universe. The delegation of Earth played an important role in the conference, as it was a tradition for them to provide an in-depth analysis of a featured school in the universe. The delegation of Earth stepped up to the podium, preparing to reveal the secrets of one of the most renowned schools in the universe while everyone listened attentively. Ted Kensington High School was situated on the planet Apollo, which was conveniently located within close proximity of Earth. The planet of Apollo was originally established as a planet devoted to the construction of many schools, but more recently the planet had attracted various researchers. Ted Kensington High School was appropriately named after the founder of the planet Apollo. This institution was one of the most prestigious schools in the universe and its enriching academic and athletic programs were incredibly illustrious. It was more than three months ago when the chairman of the Universal Educators’ Forum, Dr. Timothy O’Donnell, declared that the delegation of Earth would conduct a comprehensive study on Ted Kensington High School and present a critique of the school at the upcoming conference. Each aspect of the school would be carefully scrutinized, whether it was the learning environment or the variety of extracurricular activities. Later that day, six American professors were announced as the representatives from Earth conducting the research. 48 | THE OPUS


The six professors met on the scheduled departure date, eager to expand their knowledge about different styles of education. After boarding a technologically-advanced spacecraft, the six professors were swiftly launched into their journey to the planet of Apollo. During the four-hour long journey, the professors gathered their diverse ideas and decided on the rubric to evaluate Ted Kensington High School. The professors anticipated an excellent trip with eye-opening experiences as this school was universally recognized as the top producer of diligent and industrious students, who would attend elite universities upon graduation. After a lengthy discussion, the six professors decided unanimously that they should observe the classrooms and then interview students and teachers. As the spaceshuttle slowly pulled into the docking station at the planet of Apollo, the professors exchanged final comments and pulled out pens and thick notepads to begin their evaluation. The principal of Ted Kensington High was already waiting at the station for the professors. He shook their hands and warmly welcomed them to Apollo. The six professors beamed and were impressed by the principal’s enthusiasm, and the group boarded a luxurious automobile, which would take them to the school. Ted Kensington was full of laughter as the group entered; the professors observed that each student seemed joyous. The professors decided while on the spacecraft that they would split up to observe different classes to improve efficiency. Teachers at Ted Kensington High also were quite enthusiastic about the subjects they taught and the students looked interested while learning the course material. However, one particular professor, Dr. Elizabeth Smithson, had this inkling that this school was too immaculate. During classes, Dr. Smithson concentrated extremely hard and noticed that only front half of the class paid attention to the instructor’s lecture. The other students were either chattering amongst themselves or playing games on electronic contraptions. She glanced at the students in the back and then eyed the teacher. No response. Another professor, Dr. Anthony Johnson, also noticed a similar pattern. He sat through both mathematics and biology classes with the students concentrating hard, diligently taking notes and THE OPUS | 49


conscientiously working on assignments. When he moved to the next class, art, he became aware of the significant amount of additional talking. At one point, the students became so rambunctious that music playing on a satellite radio could not be heard. However, the teacher only instructed students to be quieter and did not make any further comments. The other professors were also discovering a similar pattern. Dr. Smithson was particularly agitated by students shouting and laughing when a fellow student was completing an oral presentation. She decided to approach the teacher to point out the disrespect in his classroom. The instructor understood Dr. Smithson’s concerns, but decided against following her suggestions. Students in Ted Kensington High could not tolerate strict teachers. If they should encounter a strict teacher, they would further cause disturbances during class. After a few walks down the hallways, the perception of Ted Kensington High as an immaculate institution had completely evaporated. The professors surprisingly found a large number of cases of bullying in the school. What was more disappointing and aggravating was that the school treated the popular students with a different attitude. The method in which administrators talked with students could be used to determine either his athletic abilities or his parents’ background. After a particular student blatantly humiliated a newcomer, Dr. Smithson became concerned and promptly reported this case to the administration. Dr. Smithson pressed for severe punishments, but the school replied that he was the star basketball player and the school did not wish to sacrifice their winning record. The professors now realized their time at Ted Kensington High was becoming increasingly depressing. The professors completed the preliminary observation of classes. Now they would begin interviewing students and teachers to determine the quality of the learning environment at Ted Kensington High. Dr. Johnson approached the most experienced teacher in the school, Mr. Christopher Rudd, and heard some very disturbing stories. Mr. Rudd narrated a true story about a group of students who cheated on the final examinations; the five students were immediately interrogated by 50 | THE OPUS


the school principal. Upon the completion of an extensive investigation, only three of the five students were suspended and given a mark of zero on that exam. Mr. Rudd’s voice filled with vehement rage as he told Dr. Johnson about the outcomes of the other two cheating students. Nothing happened to the other two students; one was an athlete and the other one was the son of the governor of Apollo. Shocked, Dr. Johnson left Mr. Rudd’s office and shared the dreadful story with his coworkers. Suddenly, the principal of Ted Kensington High appeared and in an enthusiastic voice invited the professors to tour the school. The six professors were invited to examine the state-of-the-art facilities, but one by one the professors declined the principal’s offer as all of them had the same objective in their minds: to get off this corrupted planet as soon as possible. Fortunately, the professors caught the last spacecraft of the day to return to Earth. After arriving back home, the six professors continued to collaborate regularly, preparing to shock the universe with the dark secrets of this illustrious school. The date of the annual Universal Educators’ Forum quickly approached, and after a brief meeting before entering the conference room, the delegation of Earth stepped to the podium. They would be revealing a blunt exposé of a prestigious school and demonstrate to the universe the darkness of society on the planet of Apollo. With her associates, Dr. Smithson approached the microphone and began presenting the research-results with the whole universe listening attentively.

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Alan Osiovich photograph

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Happiness of Marionette Evan Liu

I cannot grant you a solution to your thirst… …Because the solution that you desire does not exist. I cannot grant you a solution to your thirst… …Because you are not willing to admit that you are thirsty. I cannot grant you a solution to your thirst… …Because I am the one who left you alone in this barren desert. …Have you noticed this simple truth yet? You, like the frog in the well, are fortunate… …Because you only have to behold the world inside the well. You, like the frog in the well, are fortunate… …Because you cannot climb out of the well. You, like the frog in the well, are fortunate… …Because nothing outside the well matters to you. …Nor do you have to be concerned of the world outside the well.

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Angel

Max Bedford Out of the sky came the shining angel Bringing him into the silent dark of the sky Forever would he be in peace

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Liam Grue photograph

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David Yu

photograph

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Perception Milo Carbol

I sit and watch the daylight flow From sunset into night, And as I sit I wonder here Who else has seen this sight? What man in ages now long past Looked on this mighty scene, And wondered much the same as me, About the men we’ve been. Whatever worth we think we have, How can it merit this? Such magic in a thing so small, All things we’ve done dismissed: No word nor deed nor thoughtful gift, No nothing of our own, Gives us the right to view the sight That has to us been shown. So as I sit in beauty’s land I quietly reflect, And realize the gift this is, An honour to respect.

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Lullaby Ali Jamal

A tiring day’s work, Exhausted, raging with anger, My face is burning As red hot as the colours of a brilliant sunset. Sweat pouring down my puffed cheeks, Salt, as bitter and cruel as an insult from a best friend stings my tongue. Off the crowded, noisy and condensed bus Into my unbelievingly tiny house My legs tremble, my back is sore. My body parts give in; I sink myself into my bed. My head burns, like a needle has pierced right through it I am tired, but I can’t sleep, Anger is overpowering my exhaustion. I force myself up, Into the kitchen and to my water jug, Throw it down my throat in one quick gulp Back to my bedroom, My eyes freeze, as I stare out the window..... That’s when I see it. Shadows of trees in the dark blue ahead Bring out the pure white snow And the trees are like angels dancing in the moonlight. A shimmer of light breaks through the marvellous blue colours of the sky It illuminates the soft white snow, gleaming like a fabulous crystal

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This midnight scene so serene, so quiet so peaceful I give in to it It softens my senses, drifting me into eternal heavenly... sleep

Milan Koerner-Safrata pen & ink

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Five Things the Same But Different Devan Dass To Smell To Hear To See To Touch To Taste The trees grow long And the yawns grow longer The winds sweep the vacant beaches Looking for anything with a soul, Only to ďŹ nd passion The beaches spread wide with every foot print, Each one leaving a part of itself behind But not too much as if it was to leave an everlasting touch. Only enough that it would be remembered, Until, once again there is a new cycle and new footprints will surely be revealed. Again the waterfalls are screaming, SufďŹ cient enough to arouse us Almost as if it were to give someone a sense of hope, A sense that has not been with us for almost seven days, Though it shall return to us sooner rather than later. For now the yelping of the lakes shall do us no harm. Nevertheless, taking a part of the lakes shall do us in! Though only few hours remain until we shall be safe, How much longer can they put up with us? Will we be no more within our few hours?

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Accomplishment, safety and relief only lengths away, How shall it feel to be nearly finished off, Only to quickly rejuvenate like a fish after a fight, Nearly there, but at the same time so far away, Now we shall know!

Milan Koerner-Safrata photograph

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I Swore I’d Never Do This Again Benjamin Huang

I swore I’d never do this again. I bound myself to an oath of silence. No more writing. No more words. Speak no evil. Hear no evil. But the subtle things keep pulling me back again, And I’m drawn back into the art. The art of expression, Expression of pain, of recovery, and of vows never to return. Never again. Was it so long ago? Just two years. The memories still taste bitter in my mouth as I spit the seeds of naivety and unchecked emotion out of my cavernous pit. I made a vow never to make the same mistake again. I made a vow to keep my cool. I can never go back home again. Acadia is gone. I know you’d be disappointed if I stayed. Everyone would. I have to leave. I’m not making the same mistake again. I’m not staying to hear you jeer. The road home is paved with star fuckers requiem. 62 | THE OPUS


The beauty of words is this - you can say what you think without thinking what you say. But I mean it, in a depreciating, degenerating, degrading sort of way. Give me the strength to pull through this final mile. If they don’t need me, I don’t need them. Leave behind the memories. I never fit in here; something always separated me from the rest. Every circle, every stupid circle. Every stupid circle. Going in circles around circles circling around the original circle of all circles. Get me out of here. Nobody knows me like I do. You’re beautiful, you are. I’m not letting my emotions keep me here. I made a vow never to make the same mistake again. Never. Never again.

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Graham Lee photograph

64 | THE OPUS


Life Matters Christopher Dee

When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life in such a way that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice. --Kabir September, 2008 The hall was dimly yet adequately lit. Mourners filed in and out as they paid their last respects to a truly great man. A multitude of people shed tears for him, yayas and dignitaries alike; but none more so than his wife, the love of his life, Millie. As the hubbub settled down, Millie walked to the podium and began her eulogy. “We are here to mourn the death of a man who lived a life of love and hard work. We are also here, however, to celebrate this man’s life. We are here to celebrate my husband, my love, Ramon “Monching” del Rosario… It was the 40s, and the world licked the wounds left by the severity and anxiety of the Great Depression. Monching was in high school, a popular jack-of-all-trades who was friends with everyone. His mother, Benita, ran a small business tending a sari-sari store just to make ends meet so that her five sons could go to school. And then he met her. As he walked home from school one day, he caught a glimpse across the street of a woman exuding beauty and grace. He thought to himself, siya ang magiging asawa ko. I will marry that woman. A year or so of courtship later, they marched down the aisle and took their wedding vows. Soon Monching and Millie were parents of a growing brood. They stood resilient through the good times and the bad, enduring the calamity of the Second World War and the harsh Japanese occupation that followed. Throughout all this, Monching remained a devoted father, always putting the welfare of his family above all else. THE OPUS | 65


“Yes, he was a great father. But sometimes he would come home from work very late. Pinky and the boys would be asleep, and only I would still be up waiting for him,” recounted Millie. “At times he was too tired to even stay awake to talk about his day at work, but he would never forget to kiss our kids goodnight as they slept peacefully in their beds.” RVR (Ramon “Monching” V del Rosario’s initials and nickname) was in the throes of economic success. It was the 50s, and the young nation was growing fast; and RVR was not one to watch from a distance. He took advantage of the many opportunities that came his way, and quickly became known as a prominent businessman. He founded Filoil, the first Filipino-owned oil company in the Philippines. Amidst this success, however, RVR never forgot to give back. He was an advocate of Prison Justice, an organization that aids prisoners unable to afford bail or legal help. Every so often he would visit a prison and talk with the poor inmates. When convinced that one of them was innocent, he would invest time, money and effort to provide legal assistance to the man. If found innocent and set free, he would then provide a job for the prisoner to help the man integrate back into society. “Undoubtedly, Monching was a principled man,” continued Millie. “Back in the 80s, when President Marcos was still in power… It was 1983 and RVR had been serving as the Philippine ambassador to Canada since 1978 under President Ferdinand Marcos. The 80s were a turbulent time for the Philippines. The once vibrant and charismatic leader, Marcos, had turned into a powerhungry dictator. He was beginning to follow in the footsteps, albeit not nearly as violently, of the likes of Suharto and Stalin, stamping out the opposition with an iron fist. Then, one drastic event changed the face of Philippine politics. As Senator Benigno Aquino, an outspoken enemy of Marcos, stepped out of the airplane to descend into the Manila International Airport, he was shot in the head by an unidentified assassin. This tumultuous event shook the Filipino public and the vast majority shunned the Marcos regime. The president called for a snap election and Corazon Aquino, Benigno Aquino’s widow, ran for the presidency. Although Marcos was declared the winner, it was obvious that the votes were 66 | THE OPUS


rigged. The Filipinos had had enough, and rallies broke out all over the city of Manila almost daily. At the head of this growing revolution was RVR’s own son, Ramon Junior. RVR quickly came to realize that he had to make a decision. To rebel against the dictator, however, was a dangerous act. Most Filipinos were aware of how Marcos was capable of seizing the ownership of businesses only to place them under the control of his cronies. Marcos was also known to have “salvaged” those who opposed him. In the Philippines, the word “salvage” means killing and disposing of political enemies. If RVR was to go against the dictator, he would risk losing everything he worked for his whole life, from his reputation to his business, and even his family. But RVR decided that enough was enough. He drafted his resignation letter and handed it to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, under whom he worked directly. He was the first senior envoy to dare relinquish his post under the Marcos regime because of political reasons. His actions angered his superiors who made threats against his family and businesses. RVR, however, remained resolute and insisted that his letter of resignation be accepted. It was acts of rebellion like this that ultimately brought about Marcos’s defeat. It is small acts like these in life that truly matter. “I am not asking to resign. I am telling you that I am resigning,” he told his superior sternly. By this one act of rebellion he stood to lose everything. But he was steadfast with his principles. He put his foot down, albeit on the shaky bridge of uncertainty. “Monching knew that what he was doing was right,” recalled Millie. “He stood by what he believed. A few weeks after, Marcos was ousted from power and had to flee the country. “Monching, you are with God now. We all feel the loss and can’t help but cry, me, your children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and all the people whose lives you have touched. All of us who have witnessed your compassion, strength, and love. But we all know, right now, you are rejoicing. Your smile stretches the breadth of our nation.”

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Wild

Stuart Smith Meadow child Spoken through To the wild Take me to Holdin’ out In heavy showers Skip about Through dripping flowers Forest fog Damp and cool To the bog Raindrops pool Sunbeam shows Through the shroud River flows Oh so proud Meadow child Let us dance In our wild Hope enhanced Lay your head In untamed flowers Rest like the dead In sunlight showers.

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Liam Grue photograph

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Nico Siy ceramics

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a.m.

Benjamin Mintzberg “Ma-aaax.” Max makes a throaty, humming sound. “Do you want another four minutes to sleep?” Max nods vigorously. Mum goes downstairs, and immediately calls Max again. Mum says, fairly gently: “Maaaaaax!” A beat. “MAX!!” Max venomously mumbles. “… so irritating… doesn’t even give me time to respond… most nonexistent four minutes of sleep of my life…” Mum is angry now. “MAAAAAAAAAAAAXX! Are you up?!” “Yes!” Mum doesn’t hear. “ARE YOU UP?” “I said I’m up! You don’t – you don’t even – can you give me one second to respond?!” “Well, you don’t have to yell at me!” Max goes downstairs. “Hi, Max!” The time is 6:50am. Max is too tired to respond. “Mmmm…” Mum doesn’t hear. “Hi Max!” “I said hi.” “You know, it’s rude not to answer someone when they are talking to you.” She pauses. “Max. You’ll take a drink? You’ll take a drink?!” “Yah.” “Where did you go last night?” Max mumbles: “I’ll tell you about it later.” THE OPUS | 71


“Did you come home late?” Max ignores her. “Max?” “I dunno.” “I don’t like you driving late at night.” “I wonder if you would find it funny or nauseating if you heard yourself talking.” Mum doesn’t hear, “Max, I don’t think you’re eating enough. You have to eat three balanced meals a day. I mean, come on! You need calories! You know, if I was your age, I would –“ “Be a cow? I’m going to get an eating disorder just to piss you off.” “Your lunch is in the fridge –“ “I KNOW. I put it there. Last night. When I made it. Out of rice cakes and water.” “You eat like a thimble!” Max mutters. “Oh my god, I’m going have to pop you in the face.” Mum examines Max’s lunch. “Chill out, crazy.” “I’m not crazy! You kids take me for granted, you know? Maybe I’ll stop making dinners and – and –“ “Go on strike? Excellent. I could finally enjoy my dream supper: tea. With lemon. For protein.” “I’d kill you.” “ I’d wither away before you could.” “You know, if you can’t start taking care of yourself, you could stop living here. I don’t want you sick all of the time. You’re always sick.” “Can you, like, turn that off? Please. I hate the CBC, and I hate the volume you turn it up to.” “Fine, but you’re very crabby today. Did you eat enough?” “No. Feed me more, Mum. I want more food. I need more food.” “Ahhhh, excuse me! There’s no need to get snappy with me! Urghhhhh, you’re so sensitive…” She mumbles, “Twit.” 72 | THE OPUS


A pause. “Max?!” “WHAT?” “Ahhhhh, excuse me?! MAX?” “Can you just stop talking? Please. It’s slightly obnoxious.” “Max?” “Remember the last eight times you said my name? Now how about that fist time, when I responded?” “The internet’s not working.” “What do you want me to do about it now?” “Oh.” “Oh? After like eleven years you’re all of the sudden surprised that I have to go to school?” “Are you sleeping enough?” “Yes.” “What time did you go to bed?” “I dunno.” “Late?” “Sure. Let’s go with that.” “I don’t like you driving when you’re so tired –“ “I’m not four! (pause) Mum, I have to go to school. Bye.” She doesn’t reply. Max says “bye” again. “Bye.” There is a pause. “Maaaaaax? When you get a chance, could you –“ “Fix the internet? No. Absolutely not.”

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Recursion Amerigo Rocha

You never seem to understand, That what you see is never real; Can you look past the veil, Lost to whims on my command? You are dreaming, I am stealing, From the shoreline of despairYou’ve been lying, I’m still crying, Holding on to something that was never there; Why don’t you try and listen now, To everything we’ve had to say; Only to close your eyes, And forsake dawn for day, You are dreaming, I am stealing, From the shoreline of despairAs you’re lying, I’ll be dying, Falling into what was never there; And we’re flying, God is sighing, At long last her dreams have been crushed; As the clock ticks, and the time flies, Even angels want to die. 74 | THE OPUS


Graham Lee photograph

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Milan Koerner-Safrata ceramics

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The Darker Side of Life Greg Moore

Falling down, I let you in, All you do is frown, No one can win If you believe me, You will soon see, Grass is dying, birds aren’t chirping, Nothing is thriving, Hell is rising This is all fear, Inside us are true beasts, Hurting us makes you hear, The roar that will unleash, The hell from underneath. Tame the beast within, And help us all to win, So we will not give in, To the beast that is our sin. This can’t be real, I know what reality is, This seems all too surreal, No matter what anyone says, This is the darker side of life. Everyone seems to disagree, But someone please explain to me, How life is not a guarantee. THE OPUS | 77


Alex King acrylic

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Dividing of the Things Benjamin Mintzberg

A flu patient turns into a flu patient making a fist as a needle skates into his artery; the patient has leukemia, not the flu. A pregnancy begins with the cordial meeting between a sperm and an egg, hardly a biological wonder, but ends with the miracle of a human being after hours of labour. Two people meet at work, and buy a dog. Eventually, after the dividing of the things the dog becomes sick, fatally so. Relationships are changed and two people are altered over his dying body. For each action, Newton says, there is a reaction blown tremendously out of proportion. How simply things begin. There is a guy and a girl, with hurt in common. Their conflict is excessively complicated. They share a dog, but arrive at the veterinarian’s office in two separate cars. After a brief pause, during which the drivers of each vehicle remember the broken, fractured, dislocated ex-couple’s last fight, the headlights flick off, one after the other. They recall how sad and messy the situation is. The woman strides around his boxy station-wagon, and emerges on the other side with their dog. The dog - he’s scruffy, feeble, and if he could be pale, he would be. The man looks about the same. The woman, worse. The man opens the door for the woman, wearing a masquerade of chivalry, though the memory of things he had said to her that day follows her through the door, shadowing his gesture. They step into the veterinarian’s cedar-planked office, not bothering to exchange “Hi, how are you”s with the vet; the bags under their eyes indicate that they really don’t care. The dog lies on the examination table between all three standees, acting as a net between the man and the woman, rather than something to bring them together. They can’t seem to rally along the dog they love, as each is too busy avoiding the eyes of the person they once loved. While the vet talks of surgeries, odds, conditions, cells, and CO2 counts, their sadness takes them away from the medical monologue. THE OPUS | 79


In their minds, the man and the woman pit the two clear options against each other. They take turns leaning forward as if pointing out to the other, irresolutely, that he is suffering, he won’t survive such a procedure, he could make it, he could get better, he could get worse. The couple is ridiculous; they are, in essence, managing to argue silently, a feat of the saddest sort for the man and the woman who had thought that they already reached sub-basement level during their fight that day. The eye lids of the dog begin to twitch like those of a caffeinecharged truck driver who should be in bed, not in seat. They begin to emit a gunk, though it would be hard to say if this goes unnoticed by the two if not for the product of the woman’s swollen eyes running like watery sap down her face. They resolve to do this one thing together. The dog is to be put down. What if he’ll make it? He won’t make it. It’s about the dog and his suffering, it really is, but it is also about their suffering. They suffer when they are together. A sick dog would invite the man and the woman everyday into the same room. They must put to sleep the last thing they can controllably share. In time their love will sleep as well. The vet returns with the paperwork. The woman stands rigidly, looking composed, though with the merest part of her placidly-posed lips she will certainly bawl like a baby. The man’s composure is perhaps even more dangerous and unstable; he is leaning with his back against the wall, week; his eyes are red, and he looks sadder and more resigned than a person preparing to jump off a building. The vet pretends to be preoccupied with the writing on the paper, but he just doesn’t know what to say; any word will trigger the woman, or worse, the man – it is so severely uncomfortable when men cry. Finally, the vet says: “I um, I need a signature.” He offers the pen to the air, having no real clue as to whom the dog actually belongs. They both walk towards the examination table at the middle of the room where the dog and the vet wait. Pasty hands hesitantly grasp either side of the clipboard. “I only need, um, one… signature.” There is no tug-of-war or wrestling over the honour of signing 80 | THE OPUS


away the dog’s life, but the consent forms jerkily dances, hovering in the air between the once-couple like a rickety plane swinging erratically in turbulence. Their jerky voices are like two people walking right towards each other in a crowded mall, awkwardly and indecisively shifting their weight to either side to avoid a collision. The woman sounds breathless and exhausted. “… Uh–“ “No, you. It’s… he’s yours–“ “It’s fine. You can –“ “Oh. OK.” The man’s voice is frightening. The quiet, hoarse sounds coming out of his tight mouth are devastating. He gives the clipboard a small tug, not out of pushiness, but because he must; someone has to just make the decision to walk left or right. He is trembling. She is trembling. The man does not read the document; death is not so complex, but his vision blurs as he is swept by a flush, like a little boy with a crush on his older sister’s friend. The same butterflies are in his stomach, but the circumstances have changed; they beat their wings for the signing away of three lives, not by childhood innocence. He pens a signature that does not match the back of his Visa, or any piece of legible writing, for that matter, but he is desperate to get his former life’s death sentence to the vet-God’s almighty hands. “I’ll give you a minute to say goodbye.” They wish the vet hadn’t left the room, the woman especially. Trying to keep her extreme discomfort in check, the woman stares at the walls of the office. They are like those in the room of a medicallyobsessed teenage girl, with posters of anatomy coating them, as if a canine liver were the newest teen heartthrob and unhealthy gums were badass on a popular television show. The posters, however, are in a room harbouring bigger problems than slightly obsessive med-school aspirations of a sixteen year-old; they scream life altering things: “… Slut... Can’t we just do this one thing together... We’re done. We’re so done… But what about the dog... I don’t know, put him down … So that’s it? We’re not even going to talk about this… No. We’re not.” The walls are reenacting the last time they were alone together: their fight that day. THE OPUS | 81


The woman’s unease is certainly not profound enough to show on her face, as she has lost all ability to display or restrict one emotion exclusively; her face is a melting pot of every type of feeling of hurt. Her quiet wails crash into the man, and he is sorry for the words he too heard himself speak from the feline heart-burn food advertisement. He is so tempted to take her hand across the examination table, but the limp body of their dog blocks the way. She meets the same barrier. They want to touch, but that would mean sacrificing their dog’s life for nothing; his death is meant to give them one final, necessary push apart. Still, the woman tickles the dog’s left flank and the man strokes the right. That is the closest they allow themselves to be to each other. The vet hesitantly reenters, looking slightly relieved that neither has broke. He explains the process, and what to expect. The man and the woman nod, examining the dog’s scruffy fur, and the vet begins, first with the IV into his paw. The dog becomes numb. “This is it.” The woman sobs, the man looks terrible, and a needle full of Euthanol provides the most “humane” thing to do to a suffering dog. Licking and wagging his tail in his last moment, the dog sees the irony. There is silence while the dog’s heart rate flatlines, interrupted by the placement of the vet’s stethoscope on the dog’s chest and the proclamation of death: “I’m so sorry.” The woman’s hysteria is shocked by death into silence, and laying her head with gentle force on her dog’s, tears stream through wiry fur, like a trickle of water through tall grass. They retreat back to the wall, watching the woman he loves. She looks up at him. Tears hang from his jawbone, latching on in spite of his opening mouth. “He was a good dog.” She sobs. “Yeah. Yeah, that’s the thing. He was.” They leave in separate cars, not yet ready to admit to themselves that their dog died in vain.

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Victor Hung mixed media

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Luca Wilmer photograph

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Fredrick Ali Jamal

Traveling to Goma then to Congo, returning to nothing Oh the cruel genocide, is the culprit For clearing our house Of my parents And many Generations Before.

Poorer than a penny We are, As if I, or any of my family could be more Poor My two and only two resources, my hands, taken Forced away, Cut off, Bloodshed, Pain beyond any pain.

Moments of strong, powerful beats. Heart beats. As strong as a beat of a drum, and as powerful as a raging lion. Adrenaline rush. A year of darkness, on a bed Chained to it, My freedoms snatched. Flashbacks of my sisters and I fetching water from our well, The dry, scorching hot sun, burning our backs and faces. Making each movement tiring, Lethargic, But it feels like it is a blessing, not a chore. THE OPUS | 85


I look at my stumps. I can no longer help. I am a burden.

Off to Gisenyi I go, Alone Searching for a key to free me from these cuffs So permanent, binding me. I cannot touch, nor feel I am isolated from the world.

Slowly, I become free from this binding The teachers at the Gisenyi orphanage teach me Wash myself, Wash my clothes, Feed myself. I can Big, bold and brilliant, a new sun has born, Return to my parents and not a burden? No, a goal or mission comes to mind. Haunts me, scares me, frightens me, as I scribe it I want to achieve it, complete it, but I know it is impossible I want to be the first ever artist that doesn’t have its two helpers Its hands To draw God’s vast and marvelous creations From the different hot and warm colours of a sunset To the tiny and very detailed pebbles that lie on the ground. Besides, I can hold a spoon, I can hold a pencil, A heart of many desires and a mind full with creative expressions, is all it takes

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Kevin Isherwood acrylic

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Alec Thompson electronic painting

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Four Deaths Isaac Penn

Four who are not here You do not whisper in my ear. You speak anonymously, as though I wasn’t here. I want to say You are the ones not here, But there were four. Count them, Thumb to wedding finger, Mammals I once did adore. They didn’t give me the timeline of their next adventure. After the credits roll, Maybe a blooper. Or false information... something... right? No Isaac, The crickets have began to chirp Goodnight. For some strange reason, the darkness didn’t bring sleep, And sleep didn’t bring dreams. The only image was white Bright... white... light. What did they see? Was it blurry and boozy? Was it cloudy cloudy cloudy? Was it Disney all cuddly and everything’s cool? THE OPUS | 89


The prescription is a doctor’s scrawl. Making it difficult for me to read let alone comprehend The end...their ends. Ray Charles was black blind and could sing Sally Jane tried to beat the bastards She never realized children with no father are often stronger Young David was old, Never had time to elude, The hospital coffee Never brewed. And Rachel, yes Rachel. Incapable of finding her Way from the pain, Left us all hanging. Don’t whisper to me… shout. That’s four in one year; Hip-hip-hooray a cheer, Boo-hoo a tear.

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Brandon Wang pastel

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Milan Koerner-Safrata multimedia

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Gypsy Lady Stuart Smith

Riding with strangers on the freeway Gypsy Lady singing her song And you might see her one day, someday But it won’t be for very long She’ll be skipping up the interstate And the dirt road by the barn She’ll be running from her simple fate Weaving dreams as though they were yarn If you love her try to hold her down But gypsy lady is like hold’n smoke One moment she could be in your town And the next be with a different folk So you could pack up your bags and chase her You’d never catch the end of her gown So I’m telling you my good sir Some spirits should never be held down

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Dark Corners Milo Carbol

On the first day at his new job, Chris was determined to make a good impression. He walked briskly along the sidewalk, eyes scanning the road ahead for any sign of the movie theatre. At last he saw it, silhouetted against the fires of the setting sun. He stepped up his pace and very quickly found himself knocking on the large glass doors. The doors were opened by a middle-aged, friendly-looking man who greeted him at once. Chris shook his offered hand. “I apologize,” said the man, “but since we’ve just had renovations done, I’m very busy. I won’t be able to walk you through anything, but here’s a list of all your jobs. If you have any questions, feel free to ask, but I think all the information you need is on that paper.” Chris took the paper and scanned it briefly. “Alright, thanks.” The man went upstairs. Chris looked at the list and, following its orders, went into the concession. He flicked on the electrical breakers and checked the paper again. Get ice from the downstairs storage room. “That’s easy enough,” he muttered, and grabbed the two buckets labeled “ICE.” He exited the concession and went down the short flight of steps into the storage room. Opening the door, Chris was greeted by a rush of icy air. He shivered and flicked on the light. The bulb flickered on, then burned out. “Renovations?” chuckled Chris. He shrugged and stepped towards the large ice machine in the corner. He set the buckets down beside it, grabbing the ice scoop from a shelf. He was about to open the hatch on the machine when it gave a low, rumbling growl, almost like an animal protecting its home. Chris jumped. Then he shook himself and laughed. It’s just the ice shifting, he thought to himself, and opened the hatch. He filled up the buckets and headed back to the concession. The next half-hour passed by uneventfully as he followed 94 | THE OPUS


the list of jobs, making popcorn and getting the concession ready for customers. He gave the price sheet a quick glance over and waited for people to arrive. His boss popped his head around the corner. “I’m going to open the doors now, alright? Everything going well?” Chris nodded. “Yeah.” The first few customers approached the concession. Chris stumbled through calculating the prices, but got them in the end. “Sorry,” he said, “first shift.” The customer laughed and told him not to worry. The rest of the people buying popcorn went through in much the same way, until the final customer went into the main theatre room. Chris heard the movie start and leaned back against the wall with a sigh of achievement. He checked the list again. Clean washrooms. Supplies in cupboards. “Awesome,” Chris muttered sarcastically. He grabbed the supplies and headed into the washrooms. The bathroom was dead quiet; Chris’ sigh of annoyance at the number of stalls to clean was magnified startlingly off the walls. Some of the stall doors were open, others were closed. “Cleaning; anyone in here?” he called. No one answered. He stepped towards the first stall and pushed the door open. He jumped as the silence was broken by a loud creak. Stupid old doors, he thought. Then it occurred to him that the creak hadn’t actually come from his door. He stepped back, eyes darting around the silent washroom, nervously searching for the source of the noise. He shook himself to clear his head and opened the stall door again. Something creaked again from down the line of stalls. He leaned out and stared suspiciously down the washroom. He closed his door, and watched in shocked surprise as another door creaked open. He opened his door, and the other door creaked shut. “Hello?” he muttered. No answer. He strode purposefully towards the offending stall and pushed it open. A different stall door closed. Okay, that’s just weird, he thought to himself. He took a deep breath and set to work cleaning, ignoring the strange behavior of the doors. After the washrooms, the list told him to wipe down the popcorn grease from the concession counters. So he did, and he made sure it looked perfect. That should impress him. He checked his watch. The movie was almost out. He checked the list and saw that he’d have to THE OPUS | 95


sweep up all the garbage once the customers had left. The end credits started rolling and Chris opened the doors. People began to file out. Chris waited until they had all gone, then he reached for a broom. When his fingers were about six inches away from the handle, without warning, it fell over. Chris frowned, then shrugged. He picked up the broom and set to work sweeping up all the garbage. Just as he was throwing the last popcorn bag into the garbage, he heard his boss’s voice carry down out of the projection booth. “You all done? I’m switching off the lights.” “Yeah, I’m done,” Chris called back. The lights went black, the only source of illumination coming through the open doors. He noticed an empty cup on the ground and bent to pick it up. The cup moved. Chris watched it as it began to roll away under the seats along the inclined floor, vanishing into the gloom, devoured by the shadows. Chris waited by the exit of the theatre for his boss. He drummed his fingers on the box office desk, until he heard his boss call down, “You might as well head out. Don’t wait for me. I’ll be a couple minutes more.” “Alright, thanks.” Chris opened the door and went out into the night. The fluorescent lights above his head lit the sidewalk brightly. Just as he was passing the last one, it flickered, almost in farewell. Work at the theatre the next day began much the same. Following the list, Chris made popcorn, filled the ice buckets, and waited for people to arrive. Sure enough, customers began to appear, and Chris sold them popcorn and sent them into the theatre. Eventually all of them had passed in, and Chris turned to grab paper towel to clean some spilled pop. He frowned as behind him the pop machine clicked on without warning. He sighed with frustration at what he assumed to be a customer indiscreetly trying to grab some extra pop. He turned around. The machine was still running. But no one was there. Chris stared quizzically at it for a few seconds. Then, as strangely 96 | THE OPUS


as it had started, the machine stopped. Chris watched it warily, almost daring it to do something again. But nothing happened. It was as though the entire scene had been imagined, except for the thin layer of pop that remained, clinging to the drain. Chris returned to work, wiping down counters and sweeping up spilled popcorn, until he saw his boss’s head appear around the corner. “Can you take out the garbage?” he requested. “They’re getting full.” Chris nodded and his boss disappeared again. Chris grabbed the box of garbage bags and left the concession. He emptied the full garbage cans and replaced the bags, carrying the full bags down into the storage room to where the back door lay. Chris threw the bags over his shoulder and stepped out into the darkness. The night was dead silent, and cold as a tomb. A thick fog had slunk in, stifling all sound and blocking out the stars above. What little light there was that illuminated the back alley came from a dying streetlamp at the other end of the road. Its dim light wavered eerily through the fog, struggling to escape the devouring mist. Chris shuddered, both from cold and the ghostly scene into which he had to step. He could barely make out the black silhouette of the disposal bin through the spectral vapor that filled the alley. Chris took a deep breath and, suffocating his unease in a wave of determination, stepped out. He left the door open behind him, as it lacked a handle with which to open it from the outside. He fumbled with the keys and pushed his way into the fog, anxiously awaiting his return to the warm indoors and away from this dark, lifeless world. He reached the garbage bin and heaved the lid open. Tossing the bags in, he dropped the lid closed. Was it his imagination? Something had moved by the door of the theatre, just on the edge of his vision. He stared into the shadows, eyes straining to pierce the cloak of fog and darkness that swirled around him. Fear and suspicion stalked his imagination. Chris swallowed hard, trying to get a grip. It had to be his mind playing tricks on him. He locked the garbage can and turned to head back into the theatre. The door moved. Chris froze, staring at it in horror. THE OPUS | 97


It swung shut with a chilling creak. Something behind it had pushed itBut no monster lurked in the shadows; no nightmare dwelt in the darkness. There was nothing there. Chris tried to calm himself as his heartbeat quickened with a will of its own. It had to be the wind. But he could feel the dead stillness of the air. No wind stirred the fog or broke the graveyard silence. He finally forced himself to move, wincing at the almost deafening sounds of his feet on the concrete. The door was closed; he couldn’t budge it. With a noise that was half sigh of frustration and half deep breath of apprehension, he made his way around the block to the front of the theatre and re-entered through the front doors. The night drew swiftly to a close, the shadows on the walls of the theatre driving Chris’s imagination steadily further into fear. The customers exited the theatre, but even their cheery laughter did nothing to dampen the sense of foreboding that was prowling along behind him. He cleaned the theatre, eyes flicking over his shoulder every now and again, almost expecting to see something – something, he had no idea what that something was – stalking through the darkness towards him. Finally his boss’s voice brought him back to reality. “Alright, looks

Brandon Chow scratchboard

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like we’re all done. You can head out.” Chris breathed a sigh of relief that the strange night was at last at an end. He headed to the door. Yet, almost as if determined to have the last word, the theatre sent a stir of ghostly air trailing along behind. Chris frowned. No doors were open. The air was moving on its own, almost pushing him alongThe theatre was trying to get rid of him. Chris hurried into the night, anxious to get home. Then he scoffed at himself. The theatre was trying to get rid of him? That was ridiculous. How could… unless… He stopped walking, suddenly intrigued, nervous fear suddenly mixed with curiosity. He stepped in the door of his house and almost immediately threw open his laptop, ignoring the time. He searched ‘Ghost,’ and clicked the first link. Eyes scanning the page, he scrolled until something caught his gaze. Ghosts often tend to be content with ignoring and being ignored. If their environment is disturbed, however… Chris recalled his boss’s words to him as he’d first entered the theatre. “Since we’ve just had renovations done…” Was that what was causing these eerie occurrences at night? A ghost whose peace had been disturbed? His eyes returned to the website and continued reading. If their environment is disturbed, however, they may take action to chase the offenders out. Chris swallowed with trepidation. The door locking him out, the air pushing him out, the inexplicable operations of machinery… could it be that some supernatural force was suddenly making an effort to chase him out? Chris laughed. Of course that was ridiculous. And yet there was some small, nagging doubt in his mind that plagued him, almost daring him to believe that something truly strange was happening. His return to work the next day was not without a slight sense of apprehension, exaggerated by his mind in the darkness of evening. He did his best to ignore it, but it was always there, haunting the deep, dark recesses of his thoughts. Perhaps the theatre had given up its defense. Chris saw no signs THE OPUS | 99


of any supernatural activity, and he began to realize that it had all been his imagination acting under the influence of night. “Chris,” his boss’s voice called down, interrupting his thoughts, “can you grab me the clipboard in the projection booth please? It’s just on the desk in there.” Chris acknowledged the request and climbed the stairs to the booth. He reached for the first door and pushed the handle down strongly. The door was heavy and required a good deal of effort to open. The second one he saw was no less heavy, and, closing the first door behind him, reached for the handle. The door swung open. He hadn’t touched it. He stepped back in silent fear. No, it’s just your imagination. Come on! Man up! There’s no such thing as ghosts! He stepped in and closed the door behind him. The projector’s room was lit with a dim, red light that only illuminated the centre of the room; the corners were shrouded in shadow. Chris scanned the room for a clipboard, but it wasn’t in sight. He stepped further into the room and saw a clipboard suspended from the wall behind the spools of film. He reached for it and grabbed it from the wall. He was about to turn and leave when, over the noise of the projector, another sound reached his ears. Something was whispering in the darkest corner, farthest from the door. Nothing coherent, just a wordless, phantasmal murmur. Chris turned slowly towards it. Another whisper joined in, still no words distinguishable. Another followed, and another, until, just faintly enough it could be mistaken for his imagination, a haunting, ghostly chorus was chanting softly in the darkness. Chris broke. He dove for the door and ran out, clipboard clutched in shaking hands. Back in the light of the concession, Chris sighed. Once again, he had let his imagination run away with him. He resolved not to let it do so again. The night wore on, nothing strange occurring. Chris waited in the concession, leaning against the counter, waiting for the shift to end. Soon the customers left, Chris cleaned the theatre, and then waited by the door. His boss poked his head around the corner without warning. “Sorry, I forgot to run the bag of recycling out back. Can you take it 100 | THE OPUS


out to the outside storage room?” Chris nodded. “Sure.” He grabbed the bag and keys and headed out the back door. He held it open for a few seconds, staring at it, and then smiled as an idea occurred to him. He grabbed a large stone and propped it against the door. “That should keep it from slamming,” he muttered to himself, stepping back to admire his handiwork. He hefted the bag over his shoulder and walked over to the storage room door. He inserted the key and turned it, turned the handle and pushed on the door. It wouldn’t open. Chris tried again, harder this time. It wouldn’t budge. Chris sighed and turned the handle again, kicking the door as hard as he could. Nothing happened. Chris grunted in frustration and set the bag down. He reached for the handle again and tried once more. The door swung open soundlessly, effortlessly. Chris stared into the storage room suspiciously. It was black as pitch; the only light came from the sickly yellow streetlight half a block away. Only the entrance and the stack of old recycling bags to one side were illuminated. The rest of the room was coated in blackness. Chris stepped in and raised the bag above his head to add it to the stack. He tossed it on top and heard glass crunch. Oops. He steadied the bag to ensure it wouldn’t fall before letting it go completely. Glass crunched again. The hair on the back of Chris’s neck stood on end. The sound wasn’t coming from his bag. Or even the stack. It was coming from behind him. His mind sprang into overdrive, throwing every strange event that had happened over the last three days into one thought. He dove out the door, slammed it shut and locked it. He sprinted back into the back door of the theatre, in his panic not even noticing that the stone he had placed to hold open the door had mysteriously disappeared. He closed the door behind him and leaped up the stairs towards the exit to the theatre. THE OPUS | 101


His boss was waiting for him. “Awesome,” the man said. “I think we’re all set to go.” Chris nodded breathlessly. “If we’re all done, I think I need to quit. This job just doesn’t seem to be for me.” His boss shrugged. “If that’s how you feel, I suppose I won’t be able to change your mind. Strange, though, we’ve had so many people quit since the renovation.” I wonder why. “Well, if you’re really set on it, it’s been good working with you.” His boss offered his hand. Chris shook it, said goodbye, and nearly ran out the door. He didn’t turn until he was half a block away. But even from that distance, he could have sworn he saw a black, faded figure waving farewell from the shadows of the doors.

Milan Koerner-Safrata pen & ink

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Edison Jyang ceramics

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Drip Drop Drip Drop Charles Wong

The dripping sound lasted for twenty minutes before I had the nerve to check the washroom. At first, I thought that the sound perhaps originated from the subsiding summer rains outside. However, as I listened more intently, I realized the sound was coming from within the house. Drip drop drip drop. Was the sound coming from a tap or a shower faucet? Drip drop drip drop. I couldn’t be sure, and I didn’t really want to leave the warm, comforting nest that was my bed. Something puzzled me about a dripping faucet, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. With a soft click, I turned on the black table lamp beside my bed. Exhausted, I rubbed my eyes, and swung my legs reluctantly over the side of my bed. I pondered what I should do. Should I tell my parents? I didn’t want to wake them up. Should I leave it be? I wouldn’t be able to sleep. The only solution was to investigate. With a drawn-out sigh, I shrugged off my thick, blue blankets. The cold hit me right away. My legs and arms didn’t want to move, and my brain suddenly went blank. “What the heck?” I thought to myself. There was definitely something wrong. I shuffled apprehensively towards the washroom. Could the dripping sound be coming from a deadly beast waiting in the shadows of the washroom? Could it be coming from a giant monster, its saliva making the noises? Drip drop drip drop. I told myself to be strong and be a man. I had to live up to my expectations as a fifteen year-old male. I walked out of my room, and before me, the closed washroom-door loomed. The dark door was throbbing, pulsing like a demonic heart. I thought I was drunk. Carefully, I reached out for the brass doorknob. It was cold to touch, as if it had just been dipped in a freezing lake. “That’s weird, why is it so cold in the middle of summer?” I wondered. I turned the doorknob slowly, trying not to create any noises. With a click, the door slowly creaked open. I peered inside the washroom. I could make out the faint 104 | THE OPUS


outlines of the faucet, toilet, closet and shower. Drip drop drip drop. The noises were definitely coming from inside. I was prepared for some terrible creature to jump at me. I was sweating and scared senseless. If I were to die, I hoped my family would understand. I hoped that I would receive a proper burial, and that I would be remembered as a brave individual. I flicked on the light. Nothing. There was nothing out of the ordinary. The mirror looked immaculate as usual, the toilet cover was down, and my toothbrush and hair accessories were in their right places. The closet door was closed. Somewhat relieved, I walked into the room. I checked the faucets. No dripping. Was I hallucinating? I tried to turn on the faucet. Nothing happened. It was then that I realized that our house’s water circulation had been cut off the day before. Drip drop drip drop. “Oh my god” I thought. A shiver crawled through my spine and my hairs stood on end. If the faucet wasn’t making the dripping noise, then what was? The washroom seemed about ten degrees colder than before. My feet slipped on something on the floor. I looked down. Crimson blood was dripping from the closet door. Drip drop drip drop. “I have to get out of here!” I thought desperately. I turned around to face the door when it suddenly slammed shut. The lights dimmed and went out. “Good night” a menacing voice whispered.

Victor Hung ceramics

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Narcissus and Echo Approached the Stage Isaac Penn

Narcissus and Echo approached the stage A fiddle at half mast supporting their majestic curtain And at this time of prayer, I pray down there Once again they approach their stage, fiddle hosted high Draining the light from every pore they feel among the yard And all those brave gents, in their red stained uniforms They approach their last days on this stage The time to say hello is now So please love, say goodbye Bye for the now Because hello is withering away Echoing in this silent room of controversy And Mr. Echo returns the call While Narcissus prays to a tree with no leaves Waiting to be restored Because my dear son has been hurt, hasn’t he

Alan Osiovich photograph

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Saviour Paul Young

Saviour [Seyv-yer] – noun: one who saves, rescues, or delivers another from harm. Why do I never learn Once more, once again Your respect, I have to earn Else here I will remain. Soft now, I’m running out of time, And I start to break all the old ties. There’s no reproof, no crime, Time for me to stop living behind lies. And when the truth is revealed I’ll feel all of the guilt Because the rose unconcealed Will soon begin to wilt. Let passion choke the flower Till she cries no more Let her strike the hour Till I fall, and hit the floor. The crumpled butterfly Mocks the man so mute. Words left unsaid. Lest to lie And become lost in its very pursuit. Save the broken belief With a heart of jaded design; Remember the beautiful thief Who stole mine. Surrender the night Let it smoulder in sorrow Hold on tight And wait for tomorrow.

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The Fading: A Storm of Feathers Remake Alec Thomson

It starts with a single flutter. Others follow to create an uproar of sound that fills the air. The wings of the pigeons flap in unison as they spiral up towards the blue sky. The ones that remain scattered on the ground slowly make way for us that walk by, dispersing to give a hastily-made pathway. Smiles wash onto our faces, encouraging them to forever flourish in an ever restricting world. The birds are oblivious to this though, because to them, it’s just another day; it’s another day to be completely free and to carry on blissfully. However, to us, they become a spectacle - something to marvel at and to cherish, because this is where they should always remain, under the looming shadow of Lord Nelson, standing proud on his pillar. It ends with spikes, driven into the edges of the surrounding buildings, leaving majestic birds unable to coup within their urban habitat. They’ve been driven out at what seems like gunpoint, tossed away like yesterday’s garbage. The smiles fade and the equilibrium of blankness becomes apparent throughout. There once was happiness here, but it has packed up and left like a wandering traveler who disappears in the dead of night. Even the smell has changed, although how, I don’t know. No one comes for the birds anymore; instead, they come for a mindnumbing fountain and a large stone pillar, upon which Lord Nelson has no flock to keep. What has become of Trafalgar Square?

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Caleb Bentley photograph

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Milan Koerner-Safrata multimedia

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Heart of Beauty Benjamin Mintzberg

The much-welcomed syringe is filled with epidural by a purposeful, bustling nurse. The needle hovers, hesitating until it slides through the body’s casing, like a diver into a pool. Behind the waterfall of skin, the humidity increases. Shades of red vary from the obnoxious colours of lipstick popular with housewives in the late fifties to the black outside the window on a red-eye flight. The depth of the fleshy jungle of plump organs becomes evident to the frantic fluid; in this jungle, this saturated, succulent jungle, the spruce trees are like clumps of fat; the fat, a product of nine months of intense waves of chocolate cravings, provides no finer obstacle to reach the tenant of the jungle’s core. It could not be any more impenetrable, for it has been steadily promoted by this very entity as a mean of self-protection these past nine months. Entry for the medicine, however, has miraculously been granted through the wall that only a scalpel may ordinarily pass. Past the glop, a circle of the forest’s most robust willow trees bars the way. Twenty-four of them, with shaved heads, leaning impossibly close to the ground; Twelve pairs of two. At exhalation, the roots flex, as an immense wind from the interior rams the universe’s most trusted wall. The trees bow, like the rigid petals of a birds-of-paradise, but spring back as though Spring itself has changed its mind, deciding to let winter have another go. Breath in. The epidural, in much the same way one defends one’s eardrums in anticipation of the harsh realities of cinema, braces itself, expecting the worst past the rigid guards, and receives the bombardment of much worse. Welcome to rush hour in the most hectic train station in existence; with the screeches and wails and whining of a colicky child, it’s like a Tokyo subway station filled with pushy New Yorkers, upon the occurrence of a devastating natural disaster. Despite the commotion, life’s central beat drives on, reverberating against the surface of each cell in the station. The THE OPUS | 111


blood vessels, like hyperactive children in an indoor playground, are positively swarming over each other, and the incompetence of the system’s construction workers is entirely evident; the underground’s veins and arteries fling themselves in all directions from the main lines, resulting in incessant collisions that will not cease until the heart’s dying beat, the subway’s final departure. The epidural, riding one of the well-oxygenated tubes southwest of the heart of the transportation system, pulses along with the scarlet subway. From the muggy train window, the source of bodily unrest is visible to the pain reliever. A spider’s web, more beautiful even than that which Charlotte spun, is suspended in a grove of villous trees from intricate spindly branches. The web is placenta-like, a quivering orb of vivacity, whose strands are densely-woven like steel wool cotton candy, keeping the spider dry from the tempestuous hurricanes that lash, for the time being, three minutes apart. Within the safe house of the reproductive system laid life’s distressed, madly thumping aorta. The beat inside drives on. Simultaneously, a mother feels the insistent impatience of her child. There is so much beauty in the world, and as the vibrations continue, it’s too much; the arteries bring cycles of tsunamis to the heart, and the overwhelming life of it all induces a sharp tautening of the muscles. But then, relaxation, and the tension is released as the blood pours through the body, like water down a storm drain.

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Guns and Games Stuart Smith

Get in line Hold your chest To slow your racing heart Say you’ll be fine You’ll pass the test And now the game will start They only pick They only choose Every single soul The strong, the sick And they all lose They will play the toll Smell the fear In their sweat As the spinner goes around Pray, my dear And may God let Your trembling be unfound Choose to play Take the fight You never had a choice In the day In the night Keep the fear out of your voice Face the gun Pay the cost No matter either way We all won We all lost When we chose to play

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Sometimes the Hardest Thing to Do Benjamin Huang

Sometimes the hardest thing to do Is let go. Weak, exhausted, barely breathing Holding on to a sliver As you sit by her bed, holding her hand In that eerie hospital Tears are rolling, heavy, like stones down your face And it hurts when you say goodbye And it scares you knowing it might be the last time you can. Rain is falling God is crying with you He is saying, “You’re not alone. There’s more to this.” But in the screaming silence, His voice is drowned out By sorrow, By anxiety. So you walk these streets by yourself Hiding your pain, Hiding your grief. Look to your left, I’m always here. If you need me. If you need a shoulder to cry on, Someone to tell you everything’s going to be okay. And until you can find God and cast your cares upon Him, I always will be. 114 | THE OPUS


Benjamin Lewis ceramics

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Hope

Max Bedford Like a single candle, burning strong into the night A rising sun, breaking the ominous dread of the dark blanket covering the sky Like a face in a crowd, standing out like a shining star in a sea of sadness A pattering of rain on the window in the sweltering heat of a drought Like a diamond in the rough, the glistening shimmer in a dismal landscape A sign of sanity in a world going insane Like beating the odds, the boy fading fast that made it through the night A wish that came true, a dream that’s reality Like the cease of gunďŹ re in the never ending war A shooting star, a sign of hope in a world where there is none

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David Yu

photograph

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The Opus Staff is Grateful for the Very Generous Support of A.G. (Alex) Tsakumis ‘84 39th President of the Georgians Member of the Georgian Board of Directors Father of George ‘19 The St. George’s Old Boy’s Association, commonly known as The Georgians, is the fraternal organization for all those who have attended St. George’s School. With over 5,000 members worldwide, the Georgians are the largest constituency of the St. George’s community. Georgians everywhere are the leaders in their industries and communities. They are grateful for the education and life experience that they received at St. George’s, and they are committed to giving back to the School that has so profoundly in���uenced their lives. Mr. Tsakumis, the Immediate Past President of the Georgian Board of the Directors, a past Director of the St. George’s School Society, and the father of George, Class of 2019, is a very active member of the School community. He is proud to be a strong supporter of many initiatives, including The Opus, which highlights the extraordinary talents, capabilities, and passions of St. George’s students. The Georgians look forward to welcoming all St. George’s students into the exclusive ranks of the Georgian fraternity. www.georgians.ca 120 | THE OPUS



The Opus 2010