A Stoneleigh-Burnham School Literary and Art Magazine
Table Of Contents Cover............................................................ Self-Portrait, Dasom Yoon, charcoal i.......................................................................Untitled, Portia Ra, colored pencil Page 1...........................................................Salmon, Bryna Cofrin-Shaw, a poem Page 2.....................................................A Hidden Person, Rebecca Gao, a poem Page 3.....................................................Open, Mia Anthony, creative nonfiction Page 5..............................................................Door, Kethrellan Peterson, a poem Page 6................................................................Burden, Rebecca Gao, a villanelle Page 7............................................................Bottles, Connie Chen, digital photo Page 8..........................................................Drought, Bryna Cofrin-Shaw, fiction Page 11......................................Age of Innocence, Emily Hewlings, digital photo Page 12...............................................................Deadly, Emily Hewlings, a poem Page 14..........................................................Gossip Girl, Jessica Im, color pencil Page 15..............................My Friend Stevie, Claire Callahan, creative nonfiction Page 16...............................................................Lumina, Quincy Farrow, a poem Page 17......................................Things Change Size, Bryna Cofrin-Shaw, a poem Page 18.....................................................................Murano, May Dong, a poem Page 19.........................................................Jane Lee, Goodie Tang, digital photo Page 20...................................................................Untitled, HyeJin Park, collage Page 21.......................Undertow, ZoĂŤ Mancuso-Dunkelberg, creative nonfiction Page 25......................................................The Dream of Eggs, Sara Hsieh, pastel Page 26.................................................Sarsaparilla Days, Quincy Farrow, a poem Page 27..................................................................... Mask, Rebecca Gao, a poem Page 29..............Spirit of an African Dancer, Jordyn Pigott, paper clay and acrylic Page 29....................................Untitled, Sophia Orellana, paper clay and acrylic Page 30.............................................My List, Dylan Tomalin, creative nonfiction Page 34......................................................................The Room, Kim Balk, pastel Page 35......................................................Distance, Kethrellan Peterson, a poem Page 36......................................................... August Hours, Erin Moore, a poem Page 37.................................................Thank You For Telling, Kina Shen, pastel Page 38.....................................The Office, Lisa Cheng, ink, wash and watercolor Page 39.......................The Number One Rule, Kristina Athey, creative nonfiction Page 45.............................Donâ€™t look beneath the soul of my heart to understand me, but the soles of my shoes, Nora Sullivan, collage Page 46...................The Excellent Magician, Yinzi (Jet) Wang, creative nonfiction Page 49.............................Stoneleigh-Burnham School Literary Society Members Page 49.................................................................................. Acknowledgements
â€œThe pen is the tongue of the mind.â€? Miguel de Cervantes
Salmon Bryna Cofrin-Shaw On our kitchen wall a finger-painted figure of something blue-cold that might be a head with too many arms or maybe a trapezoid with wings and two pea-pod eyes, hangs framed in blue, blue that looks black like a body in an open casket. My sister admits now that it was not her creationWhen I was four she says someone else smeared the lines that my mother now mistakes for precocity and didn’t write their name at the bottom and so my sister raised her hand and claimed the painting as her own. Half a decade later I helped raise a school of salmon in a glass house big enough for two hundred, each with a name fit for a green-cold fish And released them in the grey cold river that our legs would later hug and scratch burnt blue I’ll remember how your shoulder blades thrashed through numb breath, like fins and how your pink-cold hands were not hands. Someday, when we’ve lived long enough to call these days Those Days I’ll stick you in a metaphor with the salmon that I watched and named and steeped beside like my sister, I can steal and I’ll raise my hand and claim you.
A Hidden Person Rebecca Gao This is a photo of me, at three years old, sleeping. There is nothing else, but me, in the picture, and the rest is black, the color of night. My arms drape over his neck, and my whole body is leaning on his back, so clear and so bright in the photoflash, like a bird in her stable nest enjoying her own world, no worries about outside storm, thunder, and lightning. His body, however, melts and blends into the darkness, the color of night. No one can see him. This is a photo of me, only me. No one can see his wide shoulders and strong arms supporting me on his back. No one can see it is him who carries me back home in the darkness. No one can see this hidden person. This is a photo of me, at three years old, sleeping on my fatherâ€™s back.
Open Mia Anthony When it is raining, open the windows and solely listen. I think the rain is often not fully appreciated. People like the heat of summer or the snowy blizzards of winter; they associate rain with gloominess and depression or disoriented and displaced slimy slugs and worms. While people squeal or grumble about the falling water, I relish the comfortingly distinct smell and sound of the rain that brings me tranquility and serenity. When the sun elopes, leaving the sky black and blue and the trees to sway and groan as the wind swirls around them, I eagerly wait. I wait for the trees to sway their branches; I wait for the clouds to hide the sun, concealing its rays like a kindergartener being pulled away from a large swirled lollipop; but most of all, I wait for the resonating sound of the rain. When it rains, the clouds should release a torrential downpour, not feeble droplets or temperamental drizzles. Last weekend, the weather forecast predicted a rainstorm. I did not expect much, as the previous rain forecasts had turned out to be mere showers. During the evening, the sky became darker, the cool air still and heavy as if the clouds were encumbered by their own mass. While waiting hopefully for the rain, I crawled into bed, opened my computer, and slowly plodded through English homework, frustratingly poking and stabbing my essay with words. I did not have to wait long; within the next ten minutes, gales of wind shook the trees and the clouds released a torrential downpour. I eagerly went outside to the porch and watched as the rain pounded against the asphalt. I shivered when the rain sprayed my skin, but still lingered as I enjoyed the smell and sound of the cascading rain that thundered through my bones as it soaked the earth. When I returned to my room, I opened all of the windows and slowly walked to my bed, savoring the resonating sound of the rain as it poured out of the stomachs of the clouds like water surging out of a fire hose. I curled on my side on the bed and let the sound of the rain inundate the voices of my family members until I was the only one left. The cross-ventilation of air quickly caused my room to become ten degrees colder, but I did not care. The open windows allowed the sound of the rain to come inside and brought me a rare moment of serenity. As the cold seeped into my bones, I sat up, wrapped myself with the warmth of the sea of blankets and pillows on my bed, and, leaning against Kartik the large lion stuffed animal, looked out the window above the head of my bed. Eventually, I lost track of time while I rested my chin against the windowsill and watched as the cascading 3
rain drenched everything. Mesmorized by the sound of rain through the open window, I closed my eyes and relished the tranquil moment free of the English essay that had been stabbing me back and the constant prattling of my brother. I remained by the window until the rain slowed to a sluggish pitter-patter. I lingered, dreading the moment I would have to face my essay again. As the rain disappeared, so did the comforting tranquility. I sat up, inched my way to my computer, and stared at the open Word document. For those thirty minutes, I lay immersed in tranquility, unencumbered by anxiety, sleep-deprivation, or frustration. Now the rain was gone and I was sitting in front of my computer with only the cold wind and the hope for another rainstorm to keep me company. When it is raining, open the windows and close your eyes. The intensity of the rain does not matter as long as you can hear it. I love the sound of rushing water; the deafening sound tranquilly isolates me until it disappears. When listening to the rain, I do not have to try. I do not have to work or analyze; I can listen and let myself relax into the sound of rain. All I have to do is open a window.
Door Kethrellan Peterson ancient door at the end of a lonesome hallway abandoned never opened dust streaked door mysterious door knob unturned hiding secrets hidden behind a wooden door sad door lamenting it has seen death and birth and remorse and guilt hatred all hidden from a lonesome door
Burden Rebecca Gao I carry the burden On the muddy road. I have no fear. I work, work, and work like an old wagon. The two wheels are my weapon To survive, rolling and rolling on the muddy road with no tears. I carry the burden. Iâ€™ve got no ribbon, For my work does not deserve cheer. I work, work, and work like an old wagon. You are so heavy; I am almost broken, But, I still wish one day I could jump like a deer. Oh, I carry the burden. You wish you could go to the ocean, Where you say itâ€™s the only place you can see the earth as a sphere. So, I work, work, and work like an old wagon. Oh, child, I wish you could use a crayon To draw a picture of me, only me. My dear! I carry the burden. I work, work, and work like an old wagon.
Drought Bryna Cofrin-Shaw In times like these, he’s glad he works inside. There was a time when he envied those other men; farmers, not the ones that sprayed pesticides and caused traffic with their tractors, but the migrant workers and men that fit his archaic notions of what it meant to hold the earth. He sees the brown knots of what used to be grass on front lawns and highway medians and is embarrassed for a moment by how little he knows about the land around him. There is a drought; this is common knowledge. It is broadcasted on the news and in the paper. He knows that because he lives in an odd numbered house, he can only use his garden hose Saturdays and Tuesdays between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. He also knows that his yard will go un-watered regardless of a drought. He woke up feeling sick this morning and took the day off from work. The pain in his stomach is gone now, but it’s not worth the drive to the office. The cubicle, the trips to the Xerox machine, even the courteous but somehow cold co-workers, are not so terrible. On his computer screen is a picture of Niagara Falls and the water fountain is a step away; it is easy to forget the drought. He thinks that today is a good day to go to the lake. It is a few miles from his house, but he hasn’t been in years. He has felt something hovering around his mind all week; maybe an appointment he forgot to write on the calendar or a bill overdue, and yet he knows it is nothing so mundane. It sticks to him like a fallen hair on his arm, invisible and bothersome, and he thinks that going to the lake might help him remember. When he gets there, he is surprised by the noise. So much screaming, so many high pitched squawks and water being thrown and slapped. A young woman pushes sunscreen across her son’s cheeks and he remembers that his son’s eighteenth birthday was three days ago. The revelation is disappointing somehow. He had been hoping for the lake to tell him, for its rocky sand and green expanse to reach inside him and whisper all of the things he had forgotten. He calculates that it has been sixteen years and eight months since his wife left, and their nineteenth wedding anniversary passed months ago. He takes a fold-up chair down to the water and sets it down far from the screaming children and pinwheel umbrellas. The entire town has flocked to the water; there is no school, no sprinklers, just dry heat that burns the pavement and sucks the green out of grass. The drought started weeks ago, but it is only now bad enough 8
for him to notice. When they talk about it on the news, a picture of a faucet comes up on the television, and beside it a photo of a cornfield where dry, white stalks huddle together and peel away at each others’ brittle bodies. He had been laid off for two months before his wife or son ever knew. For the first few days he had liked the solitude. His wife taught kindergarten and was gone all day, and he thought that in time a job would be found and all the bills paid. In the daytime, when he should have been finding work, he took his car down roads he had never heard of and watched television shows he hadn’t seen in years. He could have cleaned or repaired the roof or looked for a job, but he didn’t. He started drinking in the afternoon and then in the morning until one day when she came home early with their sick son draped over her arms. She saw him stuck to the couch like a soldier asleep in a trench and pulled her son closer to her chest. The lake is muddy and drying up from the drought, but children and noise fill it nonetheless. The shoreline has collapsed on itself from lack of water, stretching the beach further into the hollow lake. What’s left behind is muddy sand and matted reeds that grow dry without the water to blanket them. Far off at the other end of the beach, four boys sit in a wooden boat. It is dark brown and cracking, and the bottom is wedged deep into the mud. The boat must have been sunken for years, he thinks, and it is only in these few dry months that anyone has known it was there. In the fourteen years since she has been gone, he has turned into someone he thinks his wife might have liked. He leaves for work early and comes home to cook his own dinner. Dishes are never left in the sink and phone calls are always returned. Despite how long she has been gone, he feels he knows her better now. He understands how good she was at having a son; at the time he had not known it was something one could be good or bad at. On the night she left she had told him where she would be taking their son and that he would not be seeing her again, and she knew him well enough to know that he would not come looking. He turns his eyes away from the lake and the little boat and up to the white blue sky. He likes to hold his eyes right at the point where the top of tree canopies meets the air, and make his eyes go unfocused so that the point disappears and everything becomes tree and sky at once. Before their son was born, she used to tell him all of the things she feared. The mountains, when they turned red in October and pulled her eyes off the road and onto their peaks, making her drive into curbs and forget where she was going. The clouds, when 9
they didn’t cover the sky and left gaping holes in the minutes after dusk where green and red and purple could sneak through. She was terrified of these things, she said. She was terrified of how they distracted her, how much she wanted to touch the red mountains and breathe in the green sky, and of how little time she had to be alive and to see all that was around her. He had fallen in love with her irrationality; at that age he never wanted to touch the tops of mountains or breathe the green sky but he liked to think he could protect her from this, as if his very presence kept her together. When their son came, she told him she wasn’t afraid anymore. The boy was more important than the mountains or the sky, and for once there was something more vital in her life than her own mortality. For the two years that he knew his son, he kept waiting to be a father. He didn’t like how the boy called their cat Dada and only stopped crying when handed to his mother. He loved his son because he knew he should, but didn’t know how to be a father who loved his son the way his wife did, which was more than she loved the mountains or the green sky or her own life. He should leave the beach soon and return home, but the sun has made his limbs slow and lethargic and he can’t imagine getting into his hot car. Slowly he walks to the line in the sand where the water used to be, and then further on to where the water starts. He is wearing long shorts and a watch that he knows is not waterproof, but he keeps walking into the water and the mud on the bottom forms suction around his feet but it doesn’t slow him down. When he is waist deep he sees his reflection in the water, stretched out and dancing in the ripples. He saw a boy once in a supermarket years ago who looked about his son’s age, and though he had no idea what his son would have looked like, he saw the boy’s green eyes and told himself for years afterward that he had seen his own child. He takes a breath and lets his knees unlock so that his whole body falls into the water. The cold lake and algae cling to him and he reaches through the water, opening his hands and searching for someone else’s. As he sinks he sees his son’s face again and in it the green sky, the house he finally knows how to clean and its white walls and its emptiness that hangs like algae on his wrists. He forgets, for a time, how dry the last few weeks and months have been, and all he feels is the water, which he has missed more than he ever thought he could.
Deadly Emily Hewlings I was nine when it took hold of you, your brain, your memories. It was only the first stage and I did not know about it at that time. You were already forgetting some things, but that was what old people do, right? Forget things, I mean. I did not think much of it. I did not know that this thing as it wrapped its deadly fingers around your mind, would cause me everybody yourself some pain years later. I was twelve when you started to repeat stories over and over again: your parents’ marriage, your thirteen brothers and sisters, the town in which you grew up. I thought that this was what old people did. Repeat stories, I mean. Normal, right? By the time I was a teenager, I finally understood this deadly thing that was taking over your mind. “How is school?” You would ask me, over and over again. “How are you?” “How old are you?” “Are you being a good girl?” On the verge of adulthood, I’m watching you vanish before my eyes. 12
Your body, sunken in the wheelchair no energy left. Your eyes, a flickering light. Your hands, Small, soft, wrinkled no longer reaching out to hold mine. You donâ€™t recognize your own grandchildren anymore. Not your son, your children. Everybody is someone new to you. For seven years, the deadly thing slowly, selectively, consumed your thoughts, your memories, your existence from the last eighty-three years. You are a blackboard with chalk written on it. Minutes, seconds later, the chalk is wiped off until the blackboard is blank again.
My Friend Stevie Claire Callahan It was a warm night in the middle of July. With the windows open and the sticky, humid air of Massachusetts in July blowing in my face, I listened to the voice of a man, blaring through the speakers of the Dodge truck. “She says baby ev’rything is alright, uptight, out of sight. Baby, ev’rything is alright, uptight, clean out of sight.” I hummed along to the familiar words. The tune was familiar to me, like a comfy blanket. I looked over to my dad, who was singing the words, his head bopping to the upbeat tune of the song. As the song ended I turned to my dad and asked, “Daddy, who sings this song?” My dad hesitated for a moment and said with a smile, “My best friend, Stevie, Stevie Wonder” This I believe, my dad is best friends with Stevie Wonder. I was only five years old when my dad told me that he was “Stevie’s friend.” I believed him for a long time. I was eight years old when I asked my dad, “Are you really best friends with Stevie Wonder?” He looked at me, and smiled, then he began to laugh, and replied, “No, no I am not best friends with Stevie Wonder.” I do not actually still believe that my dad knows the world-famous singer Stevie Wonder, but what I do believe is that children have a special innocence that is like nothing else in the universe. My dad was not trying to fool me into believing that he was friends with Stevie; he probably never thought I would believe him. But I did. Children are curious. They are never through exploring, or asking questions. I was the ‘poster-child’ for curious children. My first words were “Whatsat?”. I was always asking my parents questions about the world and the things around me. And this curiosity has stayed with me even until now. From this childhood story of Stevie Wonder, I believe in my dad. I have always trusted him to give me answers for questions about history, math, English and just about life itself. My dad has always been my source of information for all things. He is my human encyclopedia, dictionary, grammar book, calculator and atlas. I believe that my dad is best friends with Stevie Wonder. Whenever I hear a song by Stevie Wonder, I see an image of my dad sitting in his truck with a pencil behind his ear, a perfectly placed mustache under his red nose, his balding head with sparsely placed brown curly hair, bopping up and down to the beat of some upbeat sixties song. 15
Lumina Quincy Farrow Comfort her Tell her to try again. We are all losers We all fail in the end. Death will catch us all Depends how long we run. Life is thrust upon us Just like the rising sun. Love is dark and broken Like a bird without a song Full of awkward situations In places we donâ€™t belong Death will catch us all Depends how long we run Love is thrust upon us We are the rising sun.
Things Change Size Bryna Cofrin-Shaw The world is getting smaller, my mother says the globe is not really shrinking, but she sees power in the almost-metaphors. The world was bigger when I was your age is what I’ll tell my kids when they aren’t looking too closely at our sidewalk spotting cracks; hollow cavities that split like spider veins to chew them into the bell of a concrete drum. Or the cornfields and tobacco land that hold one another by the waist sending folded messages by way of tractor and dust; no, the world has never been bigger. I don’t know where to find this love but I can tell you what it would say over breakfast or a phone call: Its over-used, burdening, single syllable exclaim has very little to do with anything. This isn’t real-estate. This is a t-shirt pulled from the hamper and wrapped across a pillow mocking the envelope of my mother’s elbow. This is a night spent in our gambrel roof garage to find the post-it from 1999 that was never meant to be torn from the wall. The world is getting smaller! she says I will say I know they will say too. I swell each time you grow. We’re running out of room.
Murano May Dong
A dusty shop, dark and yet filled with light, dancing, shimmering in all the colors of the rainbow, haunting yet entrancing a gap between the worlds.
Undertow Zoë Mancuso-Dunkelberg I carry sand and salt. I carry thousands of seashells. Sometimes I can almost still taste the mocha lava cake that we ate that day, sitting in the cool air-conditioning of the Purple Feather, our escape from the unbearable heat. Our summers were unlike any others, unlike anything else in the world. The memories come in fragments now. The things that I considered to be the least important were really the most important. There was that one day when my mother and I sat on Coastguard Beach, waiting for the sun to go down. Waiting for you to get off the phone so you could tell us the news. I remember my mother worriedly watching you, while I stared out across that open sea. I still carry with me the sound of the crashing waves and the greedy seagulls. I remember burying my feet in the sand, impatient, and yet not really wanting to know. I remember you walking back to us, your golden curls blowing in the wind behind you. My mother stood up uncertainly. “It’s benign,” you said quietly, the small words getting lost in the wind; and then you were crying and my mother was putting her arms around you. I just sat there, weak, uncertain of how to respond to this news, even this good news. I carry the feeling of seawater in my hair and sunscreen on my skin. I carry the sound of your laughter as we hung upside-down off the peer at Fisherman’s Wharf while people walked by and stared. I carry the memory of the time when we were little and you found a rock on the beach that was shaped like a perfect heart. I remember being so jealous, and spending the rest of the afternoon searching for one just like it. When I returned to you, my hands full of shapeless pebbles, you picked one out of the pathetic collection. You convinced me that it looked just like yours until I was certain you were right. One night, years later, we sat outside the Karu Kafe waiting for my parents to finish eating dinner. The streets of Provincetown seemed to be filled with music that evening. We sat there and you told me a story that made me laugh until the tears rolled down my face. “So then my dad told her she had to go to her room, and she threw a fit. My sister...” “My sister my mother, my mother my sister. What’s that line from?” We looked up to see who had interrupted. A drag queen stood there, lighting a cigarette. He was wearing a shirt decorated with metal studs and some of the shortest shorts I have ever seen. His blond hair flowed down past his shoulders. You and I shared a quick glance. It seemed as though he had just appeared out of thin air. “Chinatown,” he continued, as if he were talking to himself. Then he turned to us. “Seen it?” “No,” I replied. You shook your head. He took a long drag on his cigarette. 21
“Are you girls sisters?” You began to respond “No”, but I elbowed you. “Yes,” I said pleasantly, “we’re sisters.” He seemed to consider this for a moment. “So tell me something,” he said through a cloud of smoke, “how come one of you got the really fabulous hair and the other one just got boring hair?” He laughed, a smoky laugh that turned into a cough. You immediately rushed to my defense, but I laughed with him. “Things happen,” I said. “I like your hair though.” He ran a hand through his silvery blond waves. “It’s old, like me.” I turned to you, waiting for you to say something. “You don’t have boring hair,” you reassured me. I turned back to the drag queen, but he had gone. I carry the sound of violins and the smell of cigarette smoke. I carry the image of you, with your orange dress and your fabulous hair, laughing all the way down Commercial Street. We rode our bikes all the way down the dusty trail that led to the beach called Head of the Meadow. We ran through the deserted parking, across the white sand, still warm from the afternoon sun that was slowly disappearing. We ran straight toward that glistening water, that beautiful blue. And as the waves crashed over my head, immersing me in icy cold, I felt the sense of release that I wait for every year. It is the feeling that I carry with me on my worst days and through my darkest winters. I wait for the sun and the sand and the salt to complete me. We lay on our backs, watching the day fade from one color to the next. Our breathing was perfectly synchronized. As the adrenaline wore off, I shivered and you sat up. “There it is,” you remarked softly. I sat up too. “There what is?” The long grass rustled in the light breeze, the birds called to each other. My skin had goose bumps and my hair was dripping. “Look,” you said, “it’s all the same shade of blue. You can’t see where the ocean ends and the sky begins.” I looked. The sky was a million colors, a watercolor painting of violet, crimson, and gold. Everything was glowing. But somewhere out in the horizon, all the colors vanished and only a dusky blue remained. A perfect Indigo. It was as though the sky was swallowing up the sea, swallowing up the whole world. And we were part of it, part of everything. I carry the tangy, salty taste of the ocean that swept both of us under and pulled us in. I carry the feeling of warm, rough sand and slippery seaweed. 22
Sometimes, when the tide was out, I used to go for walks at midnight. I used to see how far out into the ocean I could walk before I became afraid and turned back. I remember climbing carefully out of the bed, so you wouldn’t wake up, and slipping out of the cabin, making sure not to let the screen door slam behind me. I remember how cloudy the night was as I crept down the boardwalk toward the sea. The entire world seemed to be consumed in black, except for the glowing lights of Provincetown across the bay. I walked, barefoot, across the smooth ocean floor for what felt like miles, until I had no concept of where the beach was or how to get home. I remember the fog, so thick that I could almost feel it. I remember my heart beating as I squinted in the dark, searching for my footprints in vain. But after minutes, or maybe hours, the fear left me and I was overcome by the feeling of being alone. Small and insignificant I stood there in the middle of the sea, separate from the rest of the world, immersed completely in my solitude. When I returned to the cabin, it was growing light. The sky was turning a rosy pink color. I tiptoed back inside and slipped back into bed, lying perfectly still as the adrenaline began to fade. You woke up only minutes later. You have always been an early riser. “Morning,” you mumbled sleepily, barely opening one of your eyes. “How’d you sleep?” I thought about telling you. I thought about explaining everything I had felt out there, maybe suggesting that we go together sometime. I wanted you to see the lights through the fog, feel how cool the sand was. “Fine,” I said quietly. Nothing else. I carry secrets and solitude. I carry watercolor paintings and rainy days and sailboats. I carry you. It is January now. We call each other once in a while, and we get together when we can find the time in our busy lives. You call me one night, late. “When are we going to hang out again?” you demand. “I haven’t seen you in almost a month.” “I know,” I say, feeling like I am sinking, like I am being pulled down by the strongest undertow. “Why don’t you have time for me?” you ask. It’s not fair. You don’t have time for me either, but I don’t say this. “Yeah I do,” I say, trying to reassure you, “we’re both really busy right now.” There is a pause on the other end of the phone, and I wonder if you have hung up. “It’s not supposed to be like this,” you tell me. I know. I hear a muffled sound, and I know you are crying. I feel a lump rise in 23
my throat. “We’re different now,” you say, “this wasn’t supposed to happen.” I take a breath. “I don’t want to grow apart from you.” My voice quavers when I say it. “I know.” “You’re still my best friend.” “I know.” Silence. I carry the sound of waves crashing against rocks, and of smoky laughter. I carry the fear of losing you, and of growing up. It’s a childish fear, I know, but it is always present. A while ago, I used to have the same recurring dream that we stood together, knee-deep in icy water. I dreamt that the undertow snatched one of us up, dragging us far out to sea, while the other one stood safely on shore. I dreamt of the Provincetown lights growing dimmer, one by one. Sometimes I still have these dreams, these vivid nightmares. In the moments between sleeping and waking, I feel like I am back there. When I am tired and alone, feeling like I am being worn away, my mind takes me back to those days with you. I can feel the sun on my skin, I can taste salt in my mouth, and in my ears I can hear the sound of the ocean.
Sarsaparilla Days Quincy Farrow She is tedious and exasperated the way she holds her head. She tells me I’m slowly killing her and tucks me into bed. She makes me so upset the way she patronizes me. Says life is just a game and she’s the referee. Outside the snow is falling like the dandruff of the sky. I sit and watch the blizzard as the minutes tick tock by. Outside the kids are sledding and making igloos in the snow. But I’m here locked inside, playing with desolation grief and woe. I close my eyes very tight and wish myself away, Wish I was alone where I could never feel this way I feel a long cold gush of air and then I think I’M FREE! To my dismay I’m sitting here as caged as I can be.
Masks Rebecca Gao You are masks, changing faces as quickly as the sudden thunder, too fast for me to cover my ears. Your eyes, as clean as a pool of spring water, and your lips, as tender as the petals of roses with drops of dew in the morning, are so soft like the unreachable clouds in the sky when you pat on my head to stop my tears. Soon, your eyes, as dangerous as the black hole, and your furrows, like streams on your forehead when you bend your eye brows, are so solid when you cross your arms in front of your chest criticizing me for yelling at my grandmother. Suddenly, your eyes, your eye brows, your nose, and your mouth are so flat, as a sheet of paper, when you read documents, sticking your eyes and your heart to them and responding to me with only one syllable.
You have a lot of masks, but you never hide yourself behind them. Cry is to cry, scream is to scream, laugh is to laugh, and yell is to yell; nothing needs to be hidden unless you are a dead body in the coffin, you told me. 27
That’s your nature, you told me, when I kicked your foot under the table for your straightforward response without going through your brain. You told me, don’t be one of the billions of mask-men in the world, don’t hide myself to the world even when the world is hiding itself to me. I see you carry a lot of masks with you, but none of them are artificial. They have been sharing the same skin with you for years and years. You are the masks, and they are you, all about you.
My List Dylan Tomalin From the moment the class of 2009 walked through the gym wearing their white dresses and out the other door carrying their crisp white diplomas, the focus has been on the class of 2010, our futures, and all that is to come. In the same way that they left and we took over, I know that there is another group waiting patiently to fill in our shoes when our time is up. There have been many times throughout the past few months that I have wished for a laminated list I could carry in my pocket, citing each college that I was considering applying to, in order of their importance to me, since this has been the main question asked by my teachers, family members, neighbors, and even people I am just meeting. Colleges: Wheaton Clarke Skidmore UNH Roger Williams American Mount Holyoke UVM Vassar Smith It is always asked in a nonchalant way, but in reality they are asking the biggest question imaginable: What am I going to do with the rest of my life. My reflex to this question is to glance at my mom, often standing beside me, who is much more eager to discuss this topic than I am. Like a shy child, I often find myself listening to her answer, even though I know it is me, and my future, they are asking about. It is the constant topic of conversation, and more often than not the person I am talking to has many opinions to share. “Where do we go from here?” is the question of the hour, and I have no answer, but everyone else seems to. Each person feels as if they know exactly what I should do, where I should go to school, and what I should become. The advice has been endless: what to be involved in, what town to live in, how to pay for it all. Advice: “Saratoga is an incredible town, so is Burlington; go to Skidmore or UVM.” “Single sex education is the best there is.” “Definitely take a year off before you go, best decision I ever made.” 30
“Go right away; I took one year off and it turned into 10.” “I think you would be a great social worker.” “Social Work is one of the hardest fields, many people don’t last very long.” “Go to a Community College; you’ll save a lot of money.” “Choose the school that you think is the best fit, worry about the cost and all of that later.” Each suggestion is stated so simply, as if it is clearly just a fact I was unaware of. It feels like everyone else has the answers, read straight from the Life Handbook that I was never given. Even more than I wish I had a permanent list for each person who questions me, I wish that I had an answer to: “Where are you going to go next year?”, “What do you want to study?” and, “What’s next?” Each day I see my friends, both seniors and underclassmen, and watch the way they all handle this time in their lives so differently. Whether they have 3 years left or 3 months, there is no way around the fact that high school is incredibly short, and the time flies once it all begins. Our actions range so greatly from eager for freedom, adventure and exploration, while others are career oriented, with a well established plan to accomplish their goals. And a few like me: aware of how much I am enjoying the present and completely unsure of what, where, and when. I feel sorry for those who realize their love of Stoneleigh and their present once it is too late. I have a hard time understanding those who are so ready to leave it all behind, but I am envious of their ability to trust in the future. I always assumed that one day, I too would feel the desire to be set free, get as far away as possible from everything I have always known, become my own person, and exercise my ability to take my life in any direction I choose. Senior year is always depicted that way in every “coming of age” movie I have ever seen, but for me it’s been the opposite. The Senior I always imagined myself as would be tired of the strict rules that Stoneleigh abides by and the lack of freedom, eager to graduate, and anxious to chose my college and begin the next chapter of my life. As myself as a Senior became a reality, instead of feeling my own case of Senioritis setting in, I felt myself begin to grasp tighter and tighter to each day I had left. I now come to the weekend activities I once found foolish, such as our Halloween Pumpkin Carving Contest. “I can carve my own pumpkin at home,” I used to think, but now I remind myself that yes, while I can do all of this at home, this is my last chance to do it here. In the past I never would have spent as much time on campus as I do now. I often complained of how often I was required to be at Stoneleigh, the formal dinners, away games, and mandatory bonding. I was always in such a hurry to rush home. Rush home for what, I am not sure. This place is as much my home as my house is, and the people here have become as much my family as my mom and dad. What comes next is the something I have asked myself countless times over the past few months, and each time it brings an overwhelming sense of fear. 31
Mostly, I fear leaving Stoneleigh, my safe bubble of comfort that I have grown to love and depend on. To me it is comfort and I’ll miss it all: the people, the sounds, and the smells. What I’ll Miss About SBS: Mr. Larson’s pink socks The smell of the Dining Hall coming through the dorm room heaters Mr. Deason’s unmistakable voice Tripping over Quincy’s neon backpack at the bottom of the DHC staircase The sound of different languages The faculty babies running through the Red Room Spearth Day, Mountain Day, Vespers, and 100 Nights As much as I hate to admit it, I even know that I’ll miss the things I currently dread: The smell of horse The brown goo Maintenance uses to melt the snow in the winter Pre-Calculus class Formal Dinners “Make Your Own Sandwich” Day for lunch As hard as it is to imagine my own life without Stoneleigh, I also struggle with the idea of its continued existence without the class of 2010. I fear the continuation of Stoneleigh without me; the new teachers and students who will come and never know that I once stood where they are. I fear leaving the people that have grown to depend on me. It makes me feel as if it is my fault, and I am abandoning them. The class of 2010 will leave, and the school will continue to function just as it has always done, leaving me with so many questions. How can something that I need so much, not need me? Will people here remember us? What will we be remembered for? I wish I could know the impact we have made without really having to leave. I want to know if we have made a difference, not in the sense that a new room or building will be dedicated to the class of 2010, but that just maybe a few of us have made an impact on the way the school is run, or the life of someone here we care about. As my 18th birthday approaches, I think of how much I wish to turn around and start over, begin it all again. I have few regrets and no desire to really change the past, but I would be happy to repeat it. It is familiar and I would know what to expect. The future is unknown, and that to me is a dark tunnel that I have never been very good at entering. Someday I hope to have a list, not necessarily laminated or even truly tangible 32
like the one I currently wish for, but a mental one. One that tells not the future, but the past and all that I have accomplished and overcome. I believe that the real question is “Where do you come from?” and “What people, places, and experiences are you bringing with you?” not as much “What happens next?” The only way to answer, “Where do we go from here?” is to do it, and if it didn’t mean leaving the past behind, I would be much more willing to find out. Where Do I Go From Here?: ______________________ ______________________ ______________________ ______________________ ______________________ ______________________ ______________________ ______________________ ______________________
Distance Kethrellan Peterson fabricated wisps of sunshine bouncing off tree trunks glowing life they are alive hues of green fill a forest with colorful sounds silent sounds orange dirt stains the tree roots nourishing a heavy morning fog lifts bright light streams no longer fragments but beams strong sturdy beams beams of sunshine a wooden beam in my house an orange beam borrowed life from a forest
August Hours Erin Moore My belly-laughing babe in the sweetened sun. Bowing in the breeze trees stay stiff and calm. Pretty pale fingers speak in a silent tongue. While hard oak presses the palm. A rough tongue curses the wide open field. Swiftly shoving past the hallow grasses. Cold hearts healed. And grouping natural dancers in great colored masses.
The Number One Rule Kristina Athey The silence surrounded me like a blanket, a suffocating, exhilarating blanket. The hoof beats softly brushed by ears like a metronome, almost too far away to hear. The lights were bright and enticed my eyes to look up, but my eyes wouldn’t leave the wall directly opposite the in-gate. The first moment of something so final, something you’ve worked so hard for. Moments like this stick to your mind. I carried my hopes and dreams as I entered that ring. I was filled with a mix of confidence and adrenaline that intoxicated my blood like a drug. I carried the weight of my team and their expectations. I had the experiences of two years to call upon. I had the instruction of my coaches. I had the rules to keep me strong, and above all, the rules were everything. Rule # 5: Sam is always right, unless Mina is right Sweat was inching its way down my body. The droplets seemed to be laughing at me as they went about gathering their friends and decided to make my life that much more difficult to withstand by soaking my shirt. I inwardly groaned and used my red Nike sweatband that I always carry with me to wipe at my face. Suddenly the leather seemed to stick in all the wrong places and at that point I thought I could have started to cry. “Ok, walk and give him a long reign,” Mina spoke up above the roaring traffic the best she could. Sometimes her voice got lost in the rumbles and screeches of the highway. By now I had been waiting for those words so long I could have heard it if she had whispered. In an immediate response I let the reigns slip through my gloved hands as my body relaxed into the breeze. The wind was slight and brought little relief but I would take anything I could get. I concentrated on anything but the heat. The sound of the sand under my horse’s hooves. The gentle thump of the loose stirrup against my boot. The way my breath entered and left my body. “So there’s a horse show this weekend.” Mina’s voice interrupted my careful train of thought. The tone in her voice was one I knew only so well. “Really?” I would play her game. “You going to be in it?” she knew what was coming next, but she was relentless and pushed the issue anyway. It was too hot to stand still so I circled around her. My horse’s hard breathing kept time as I searched for an answer. I always carried a multitude of 39
excuses filed away in my brain for just this purpose. They were like get-out-of-jail free tokens; some were just more valuable than others. Fortunately for me this particular situation required only the truth. “I have to have my friend over for a sleepover Friday because her parents are going out of town.” The words tasted sweet as melted chocolate on my tongue. There was nothing she could say or do about my plans this weekend. “Bring her with you.” Mina was quick in her response. We had been playing this game for about a year now and with time she seemed to accumulate more responses than I had excuses. “She doesn’t like horses, afraid of them actually.” Lie. Now came the hard part. I gathered up every shred of resistance left in my body that hadn’t been chipped away in the heat. Her next move would determine the outcome of this scrimmage. “Alright, well,” she paused. Somehow it aided the sun in its intensity. “Next time then, but you’d be great at it.” Rule # 4: It doesn’t go on Facebook I didn’t believe it was possible. We were carrying enough luggage for six girls and two coaches to spend three nights and two days in a hotel, at a horse show. It had taken us a trailer to get it here in the first place. The task we were about to embark on would be like watching two boys in grade school competing to see who could fit more grapes in their mouth. Substitute the mouth for the Tahoe and the grapes for suitcases and teenagers. This could only end one of two ways, but what option did we have? “Back row get in,” Sam commented as she started sorting suitcases by size and shape. I watched in muffled horror as the various stacks of bags grew larger at an alarming rate. I was one of the unlucky three that was forced into the back seat of the Tahoe because most of the team either got car sick or was claustrophobic. So in a chorus of various mumbles and groans, Tess, Sarah, and I buckled ourselves into the seats and prepared to be bombarded with luggage. The hard, square, suitcases went under our feet, not that there was much room down there anyway. Layer after layer of duffle bag, backpack, and smaller suitcase was stuffed until only our eyes were visible above the stack. Purple, blue, black, and green blocks pushed into my chest like oversized bricks. The pressure restricted all movement and made it feel like you were trying breath with someone sitting on your chest. Despite our uncomfortable situation nobody 40
could help from laughing. Suppressed giggles turned into near hysterics as the last handbags were tossed on the top of the pile. “I have to get a picture of this,” Sam was proud of her work. “Oh use my camera too!” Tess used what little range of arm movement she had to scrounge through her pink bag. She always carried her camera, we all did. The images on that memory card would last forever. Every last smile, jump, and awkward sleeping position that lay nestled among the hardware would bring everything flooding back, even years later. Now this picture would add to the list. As Sam reached our her hand to take the camera from Tess she spoke, “ok, but you guys know the rule, those doesn’t get posted on Facebook if it has Mina or I in it.” Rule #3: You have to go to school on Monday Four days. Right now four seemed like such a big number. I meekly wobbled up my front steps. Their faded blue color seemed too real, like I had woken up from a dream. The ground felt too hard, like my body hadn’t supported its own weight in too long. Every slight creak caused by my body weight bearing down on their surface was foreign to my ears. My body just couldn’t seem to register that it was over. Nationals had come and gone. Exhaustion had taken over. My mother’s grinning expression beamed from the kitchen door just six feet in front of me. I smiled, for her sake. I think she was expecting me to come running up to her with the silver plate, the big blue ribbon, but my hands were empty. The only thing I carried on me at that time was my relief and sense of accomplishment. In my mind, this was more than enough. I had done my job. I had proven to the judges, to my team, to myself, that I was worthy of this award. Now all the tension and pressure was long drained from my system. I could rest now. She hugged me and I sunk my weight into her arms in a meek attempt to transfer some of my weariness into her body. I was forced to break free from my mom when my dad came through with my suitcase and needed us to move so he could put it in the kitchen. I used that moment to my advantage and made my way into the house. The air was cool and familiar inside. My lungs welcomed the oddly refreshing air as I made my way into the living room. The table was cluttered with a bit of everything, the T.V. was showing whatever my sister was watching, and the door 41
to the hallway was closed to keep the cool air downstairs. Everything looked the same, nothing felt different to me. Nothing had changed because of my new accomplishment. This fact was comforting in some way and I smiled to myself as I flopped onto the worn blue couch. Turning onto my side I grasped out for the blue and yellow blanket that lay at my feet. Sleep was now at the forefront of my mind. I turned once again to face the back of the couch. It was the only way I’d ever been able to sleep on any couch. I snuggled as much as I could into the crevice formed by the corner of the couch. My last thought before I fell asleep was that it was a good thing tomorrow was Tuesday. Rule #2: Don’t throw up on the instructor I was having one of the rarest kind moments at a horse show. I was eating. Not just cheese-its or goldfish. It was an actual sandwich. The chicken caesar salad sandwich tasted like the best thing I had ever eaten; this was often the effect when it was one in the afternoon and you hadn’t eaten anything yet. I was positioned in one of the six chairs in one of the two boxes we had reserved. My feet were resting on one of the painted green metal bars that ran around the perimeter and my eyes scanned the ring. None of my teammates were riding at that moment, but Callan was riding in just a little bit. She had gone to hunt down Sophie, who wouldn’t let anyone else do anyone’s hair. A little while later an audible thump came from my right. I looked over and saw Callan had sat down in the chair next to me. Her face was unusually calm. She even looked like she might be excited for her ride. Her unusually perky demeanor was so out of character I felt the need to question her. “You feel good about today?” I took a bit of sandwich as soon as I finished the question. She looked at me smiled, and nodded before answering, “yah, actually.” “How many classes until you go?” “Two.” She spoke to the floor as she searched though her bag for something. I knew what she was looking for. “It’s on the chair over there,” I said as I pointed to the other box we had rented. Her pink iPod was resting in the middle of one of the light blue folding chairs. “Going to listen to your song?” Most of us had a song. It was something to get us ready to ride. I preferred something upbeat and bouncy. It got my blood pumping and made me feel good. 42
“Yup.” We all carried something that put us in the mood. Not everyone used music, some just had to eat so they weren’t hungry. Despite the method we preferred, each activity did the same job. It was something that made us feel ready and prepared to take on anything that stood in-between us and the blue ribbon. Callan bounced back to her seat next to me and carefully maneuvered her left headphone under her hairnet. I went back to eating my wrap. We sat like that, in silence, for a couple of minutes. Just enjoying each other’s company and watching the horses. “You know, I really feel like I can do this,” Callan broke the silence. I looked at her, slightly alarmed, “Don’t get too comfortable, you might fall off.” Callan’s eyes went huge, like a deer in headlights. I immediately realized my mistake. “Like you did at Folly Farm.” She gave a worried whine, the same one she gives every time she’s freaking out about something. “It’s true!” I tried to comfort her, “I’m just trying to help.” She gave me a that’s-not-helpful look and tried to distract herself by watching the current round. The horse took a bad distance to the two foot six inch vertical. The clean white pole bounced loudly to the dirt below, the horse tripped, and the rider tipped dangerously forward, but recovered to continue the round. “I think I’m going to be sick,” she mumbled and swiftly got up and headed straight to the door. Rule # 1: Don’t pee in the saddle “Ready to win?” Sam asked with a big smile on her face. She and Mina were fussing over me and Sam didn’t even look up to talk to me. I personally didn’t care if I could see my refection in my boots, or if my number was perfectly centered on my back. Even so, it was important, so I let Mina shine my boots with the boot rag and Sam pull the sleeve of my blue show shirt over the cuffs of my gloves. “Oh I almost forgot,” Sam stopped fixing my clothes and went into the show bag. She came out with a small sheet of shiny paper. At first glance I honestly didn’t know what it was. When she went to remove something from the paper I realized what it was, a sheet of stickers. 43
She let one balance on the tip of her finger and motioned for me to lean down. I did, though for a moment I feared I would end up in the dirt. Sam reached up and stuck the sticker to the underside of the brim of my helmet. “For good luck,” she patted my shoulder. I strained to look up to see what it was. A My Little Pony sticker was now stuck to my helmet. It was pink with a rainbow mane and in some strange way it made me feel good. Maybe it was because no other team would ever think of going in the ring with a sticker under the brim of their helmet. Reasoning didn’t matter to me at that moment. “I think I’ll keep it.” “Are you sure she can take that in the ring?” Mina was worried that the judge might catch a glimpse of it. At a level as high as the national finals you don’t want to give the judge even a fraction of a reason to dock you points. “Sure she can,” Sam argued from the other side of the little white pony I was to ride, “and she’ll do great.” “Alright,” Mina sounded unsure and so busied herself with rubbing an invisible mud spot off my right boot. “I think it’s good Mina,” I said when the ingate opened to let the previous class out. “Ok, time to rock and roll,” Sam patted the hindquarters of my pony as we rather roughly shoved our way to be first in line. Right before she stopped walking with me, right before everything started, she called back to me, “what’s the number one rule?” I smiled and responded, “don’t pee in the saddle.” “That’s my girl,” and with that, the ingate closed behind me.
The Excellent Magician Yinzi (Jet) Wang
My name is Yinzi Wang and I am an excellent magician. Magic made
me a positive person and helped me overcome my disease.
I don’t have a healthy right leg but I proudly own two flexible hands.
My thumbs can bend and touch my forearm, and my index finger and the fourth finger are able to go up and down easily without moving my middle finger. From birth, two bones in my right leg did not connect well and when I reached thirteen I could not even stand. After my surgery, a solid and hard cast covered my whole body except my torso and toes and it blocked my chest so that I could only move my upper body about thirty degrees. I cried when the doctor told me I had to stay in the hospital for more than one year before my cast was taken off and tears passed my cheeks and saturated the white pillow. Every night when I closed my eyes, all kinds of iron tools of surgery came to my dreams and when I opened my eyes I felt the dark would swallow my little body.
One day my father brought a deck of cards to the hospital. Shuffling
them, he asked me to pick one card without telling him the pattern. I chose a king and put it in his hands. Closing his hands, my father moved them back and forth several times. When he finally opened his hands, the card was not a king but a six of diamonds! Surprised, I checked the card carefully but found the card was nothing special. “See, things can change,” said my father.
Since my father’s little trick, I became addicted to the charming and
mysterious ways of magic. My father told me he had magical cards that could make anyone a magician. Not satisfied with his magic, I wanted to make my own magic with regular playing cards. Several days later I came up with an idea and I soon became a famous magician in the hospital with my own masterpiece. The patients and the doctors enjoyed my magic show. I forgot I was a patient with a weak leg when I showed off my magic. With practice and my flexible 46
hands, the magic was perfect and no one found out how I did the tricks. Every time I saw their surprised and happy faces, I would say, “See, things can change.” Several weeks later, I closed the stage curtain and ended my show when my hands were almost numb because of the five daily injections I had to take. One day, I watched a magic show on TV and saw the magician perform a trick by talking with the audience that he called “number telepathy”. Yes, even though I did not have two flexible hands, I still could be an excellent magician.
I tried to make my own “telepathy” and my stage curtain opened again.
With my pretty good math skills, I came up with a “number telepathy” trick that was more complicated than what I saw on TV. Lying on the bed, I used my voice to share my magic with the other patients and I became a popular and honorable “telepathy” magician. My audiences even made a “show time” for me, which they wrote down on a paper and hung on the wall: “‘9:30 –10:00 am, for the elderly’, ‘2:00—2:30 pm, for the adults’, ‘3:00—3:30, for the kids (bring calculators)’, and ‘5:00—5:30 pm, for the doctors”.
My life in the hospital was a magic performance. The magic gave me
power and made me believe I could change life for the better. One and a half years later, I walked out of the hospital and said, “See, things can change!”
Literary Society Members: Bryna Cofrin-Shaw Emily Hewlings ZoĂŤ Mancuso-Dunkelberg Quincy Farrow Portia Ra Maraina Weyl Literary Society Faculty Advisor: Shawn Durrett
Acknowledgments: The Literary Society gratefully acknowledges the help and support of the following: Carly Nartowicz Holly Mott The English Department Sally Mixsell Linda Mahoney The Visual Arts Department Tiger Press
574 Bernardston Rd. Greenfield, MA 01301 WWW.SBSCHOOL.ORG
The 2010 edition of Stoneleigh-Burnham School's literary magazine.