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Literary and Arts Magazine

St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes Upper School 1000 St. Stephen’s Rd Alexandria, VA 22304 (703) 751-2700 www.sssas.org Issue # 37


Printer: Master Print, Newington Virginia © 2021 by Fire and Stones. Authors and artists hold rights to their individual works. Fire & Stones literary and art magazine is published bi-annually in the winter and spring and is distributed free of charge. Submissions:

permitted. Visual art accepted: photography, illustration, painting, collage, mixed media, cartoon, graphic design, and photographed sculpture. Please submit visual This format ensures that the staff members’ votes cannot be swayed by the votes of other staff members. Advertising & Distribution: our Coffeehouses. Like our magazine, Coffeehouse is a bi-annual event with one in the fall and one in the winter. Coffeehouse is a Fire & Stones-run event where the students gather to share poetry, dramatic readings, and music with their peers. Permissions: No part of this publication may be reproduced without permission. All images are copyrighted. The arts and literature can only be reproduced with permission of the artists and authors. For additional information or how to obtain copies please email faculty advisors


Overpass Photograph by Nora Fortune ‘21


To you, the Reader, Often, we look at art and skim through writing, appreciating it only for its aesthe works in this issue of Fire & Stones are not simply beautiful at surface-level. Rather, they make statements - social, political, and societal - and confront us with sometimes hard truths. Life is more than living. Life is seeking and understanding and changing. As with all meaning behind what you see and what you read. So go ahead, turn the pages, seek, understand, change. But, by all means, still marvel. Good luck to you, old friend.

Us.

Perspective Painting by Steph Adrien ‘21


Editor Amy Gastright ’21 Communications Director Anna Giardina ’21 Creative Director Literary Editors Adrienne Lai ’21 Louisa Treadway ’21 Coffeehouse Coordinator Ana Bach ’21 Staff Sophie Atkisson ’23 Eva Balistreri ’21 Lily Bertles ’22 Zoë Coval ’23 Genevieve Cyrus ’22 Amber Dunton ’23 Angelina Egbe ’24 Alex Galdamez ’22

Mollie Kemp ’23 Maren Knutson ’22 Victoria Lopez ’22 Ellie Minor ’23 Monty Montgomery ’21 Grace Mykityshyn ’22 Reagan Reilly ’24 Lizzie Sherman ’22 Faculty Advisors Kate Elkins


Table of Contents Literature Louisa Treadway ’21, To Write or Not to Write Amy Gastright ’21, Ever the Faithful Teacher, I Barrett Lathrop ’21, Sleepy from Afar Beauty in the Madness Olivia Clarke ’24, Voices Adrienne Lai ’21, Of the Same Mind Amy Gastright ’21, A Room in a Meadow with Four Walls and No Roof Maren Knutson ’22, Fight, Flight, Freeze Meraki Grace Mykityshyn ’22, Contained Matthew Smith ’24, Home Mollie Kemp ’23, The Blac k Market of Shadows Maren Knutson ’22, Eva Balistreri ’21, Big Man Knows Best Realizations Monty Montgomery ’21, Suburbia Lauren Irish ’23, What Was So Easily Broken And Still It Beats Christopher Yu ’21, Bicycle Eva Balistreri ’21, The Lifetimes It May Take Ana Bach ’21,

Sunny Window Fire & Stones | 6

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Artwork Nora Fortune ’21, Overpass Steph Adrien ’21, Perspective Sunny Window Stumpy Anna Giardina ’21, Hand Sculpture Sophie Atkinson ’23, Claim Your Reward Man in China Shop Monty Montgomery ’21, Assault on the Subway Monty Montgomery ’21, Pulled Away Codie Campbell ’23, Spanish Moss Crying Isn’t a Sign of Weakness Steph Adrien ’21, Glitch Carlin Trevisan ’21, She Walks on Me Delia Dresser ’22, Rocking Chair Gatsby Olsen ’21, Release Eyes Opened Zach Gunn ’21, The Innocent Carlin Trevisan ’21, Sitting Pretty Catherine Seale ’21, Someone’s Doll Caitlin Bucceri ’21, Byproducts Electrical Storm Sound of Silence Zoe Coval ’23, Big Sister, Little Sister Your Future Is Calling

Front Cover: Let Them Back Cover: Eat Cake

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To Write or Not to Write —Louisa Treadway ’21’ To write, or not to write—that is the question. The questions and apps of Common and Coalition, Or to procrastinate until the due date And delay Fear’s reality. Denied, dreams gone— No more—and with that I defer both fears Of rejection and the ever looming fear Of now growing up. ‘Tis a concept I thought my life, oblivion—yes, that’s my fear, That I would not have lived a life well lived, Before I lose my mind or go to meet The Almighty. But one cannot Truly live if they are ruled by their fears. And one can’t truly live sans taking risks, A leap of faith, to raise up one’s sails and Let Fate’s winds guide me onward, to new ventures, And discover one’s calling, and when I Take a closer look and truly think ‘bout it Isn’t that exactly what school’s The liminal space ‘tween youth and adult, And lasting friendships are forged, where the winds Blow away the fog, clearing our path, And after four or more years we have some Clue of where we’d like the winds to take us? I do not know where my ship is headed, But no one can go anywhere standing still Cuz our ships aren’t meant to dwell in the past, So I must raise my sails and head to new shores, For new journeys await me in the winds, And I must write my way there.

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Stumpy

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Ever the Faithful Teacher, I —Amy Gastright ’21 Shining and green from all sides A sharpened blade hidden under a bright yellow hood. The thing was scarcely two feet tall and it wobbled as it climbed On pudgy knees and ankles Into my yellow foam seat. My job was simple: when it turned the steering wheel, turn. It cut serpentine columns in the summer grass, Spewing the disembodied heads of buttercups Like confetti All over the lawn. It only crashed into a few trees Only ran over a few hoses Only shredded a few newspapers And when we parked, it tumbled down onto the mismatched tufts of grass And rolled with the dogs in the loose weeds.

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It took a few years’ practice But as the summers passed, I taught it how to drive, how to steer It grew—like a weed—and I aged. Perhaps picked up by birds or carried away by the wind. It learned to make clean lines and even cuts To shift gears and blade height To keep the chute face out so the grass blew away and My blades wouldn’t clog on the excess. sets of tires But over seventeen summers It learned. Some jobs feel like wasted time Repeated over and over and over and for what but to do it again in a week. But not this one. Ever the faithful teacher, I Allowed myself to get stuck in a mud-ridden ditch Let it press the accelerator and switch into high gear Let it yank on the choke Let it get off me and kick my tires Let it scream and sit down on the hill to cry. Some jobs feel like wasted time, But because of me, it let go of all its inhibitions Got a rope and a truck and a ten-year-old And it didn’t care about getting mud splatters in its face and mouth as it shoved And found a way out of the mud. Some jobs feel like wasted time But when I was free it wiped the mud from its eyes, Finished the job And came back, on schedule, for next week’s cut.

Hand Sculpture Sculpture by Anna Giardina ‘21 Issue 37 | 11


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Claim Your Reward Digital Painting by Sophie Atkisson ‘23


Sleepy from Afar —Barrett Lathrop ’21 As the court is shaking like an earthquake, I can see the clock strike double zeros. An unhinged mob of students storm at me. My dumb smile screams joy, pride, and success. But, I have done nothing spectacular. I’m a pointless number on this great team. I’m a scrub, someone laughed at, looked down on. That’s my job, I love it like no other. But, this is the happiest day of my life.

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Man in China Shop Photograph Owen Larson Man in ChinabyShop Photograph by Owen Lar-


“Beauty” in the Madness (What is NYC?) —Carter Hansen ’22 Manhattan will greet you with its distinctive charm. The city that never sleeps, Opportunity on top of opportunity, the land of dreams – No. I recently ventured to the coveted metropolis, and as many do, I expected these headlines to ring true. Yet, this was merely a cover-up of real city life. I came to realize NYC is not only a toxic environment that pays the lower class no attention, it is an empire of those hungry to reach the summit, with no regard toward the less fortunate. The homeless depend on the cold streets and subway systems for comfort, emotion poured into percussion made from broken buckets and pans for the smallest amount of money in return, street vendors willing to grab you by the arm in order to share their voice, praying to be heard, illicit activity. Barren trees decorated with trash bags, vandalized art, as if what was underneath wasn’t good enough, competing sources of smoke, leaving you unable to discern their source, surrounding blank stares that make you worry they are scrutinizing you, or are they just mentally chained down and unable to scrutinize anything. People think it can miraculously solve all problems or get rid of all worries, when in reality, the contradiction punches you in the face. Don’t worry, though, it’s okay. Citizens of New York City will remain in this grim state, woken up by the shrill siren of everyday life, having to repeat living in the shadows, begging to get out. There is beauty in the madness, depends how you see it, though. Depends if you are there by choice, or stuck in the scheme. So, what is NYC? It’s not what you think. Issue 37 | 15


Assault on the Subway Painting by Monty Montgomery ‘21 Fire & Stones | 16


Voices —Olivia Clark ’24 Voices Some loud, some soft, some silent Some angry, some kind, some unsure Sharing passions, new ideas, feelings, random thoughts Asking questions, searching for answers, exploring Through conversations, presentations, art, songs, dance More than words Our voices create change. Voices Shyness, afraid of rejection, hard to speak up Sweaty palms, shaky knees, talking really fast You might be afraid to share how you feel So, sing a song, paint a picture, write a play, make an anonymous post Your voice helps others understand, connect, feel Embrace accents and languages, cultural differences Find your voice say something All voices matter.

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Pulled Away Painting by Monty Montgomery ‘21

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Of the Same Mind —Adrienne Lai ’21 I can’t see you, but I feel you. I feel the ache of your heartbeat, the twinkle behind your eyes, the catch in your throat, and the smirk in your smile. I taste the shapes your mouth forms, stretching, twisting, tumbling over itself to be the perfect passage for your voice. I hear your laughter second hand, like it was passed along through headphones twice, reaching me long after it fades from your ears. I sense your tears, slowly collecting, drop after drop, forming a mass of sadness and fear. Don’t worry - I won’t let them out until you are ready. I wouldn’t embarrass you. You’re my favorite. challenges, a bubbling fountain of electric sparks when in danger, and the intoxicating beverage of your own magic when doubt invades your thoughts. I’m the beam that helps you along your tightrope when gale-force winds try to push you off. I’m the bee that attacks you, forces you to react, dodge, adapt, that moves you until you are no longer afraid of being stung. I’m obsessed with you. I make the pattern of your words, sharp consonants and open vowels strung together with the rasp of a lax jaw, the same as mine. Our limbs move in tandem, responding to each other through the tug of thread. My thoughts are your thoughts, and your thoughts are mine, seamlessly shared so you don’t know the difference. I know everything about you: the winding paths of your veins, the branches of every left foot falls asleep or there’s an itch wedged in your elbow or an ant crawling up you bounce around to stay awake, lean on the distant horizon of the future, and are scared to forget any keepsake, person, or memory that has engulfed your life at one but your jealousy burns strong, and is only put out by the kindness at your core. You linger on hidden moments - the one hello that made the world seem brighter or the glimmer in someone’s eye. Other people fascinate you, and you long to be a part of their journey. You try to know others, to get them. And you hope that someone understands you, too. But you don’t have to worry about that, because I know you as well as you know yourself. And you must know me, I mean how could you not? I’ve been here this whole time, pestering you, consoling you, moving you, advising you, remembering for you, thinking for you. That’s all me. Me, not you. I’m the one who tells you when to take a breath, who sets the rhythm of your breathing, fast enough that your lungs are full, bulging with the weight of air, but slow enough that it doesn’t grab your attention. I’m the one who lets you look at the right time, the perfect instant when you just catch someone’s gaze. I’m the noise in your head, screaming at you to get a grip or see yourself as I see you. Sometimes you can, but most of the time you can’t, so I guess I

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A Room in a Meadow with Four Walls and No Roof —Amy Gastright ’ 21 Two children, Crossed the Bridge to Terabithia Into a meadow unknown by men. The Lost Boys’ footprints marred the clover carpet, And the saplings were bent, But the children were full of wonder and whimsy They loved that tragic wood In all its honeysuckled majesty, Until, as all childish loves must end, The Bridge was blocked by age and caution tape. So now the children come, The sugar long wiped from their lips, Their hands tucked close to shield from rain. They come to conquer, To try to trap the Lovely in a bottle, And they wonder why they can’t see it any longer.

Spanish Moss Photograph by Codie Campbell ‘22 Fire & Stones | 20


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Fight, Flight, Freeze —Maren Knutson ’22 Fight shoot them an eye-rolling emoji and then watch it dissolve into screenshotting each understand your point of view when they can only see from theirs. Friendships crack and fade, and you write sad songs about people leaving you because this was everything and now it’s nothing. But you brought it up because this has made you angry for too long and you can’t take it anymore. Years of friendship dripping down the drain already but you just pulled the stopper out and woosh, it’s gone. This one you can’t regret because when something good turns sour you need to protect your heart and get out, who cares if pictures out of frames and replace them? You can’t care because that’s over and gone and done. And you were the one who ended it. Flight Because of course you have to write a song about your feelings on a subject that you’ve talked about to basically no one. And then sing it to a group of people that you kinda know, including most people who have had large emotional impacts on your life. And then, because this is what’s happening, you forget half of the verses and have to pull up your notes app. Seriously? Time to run, run away, up the stairwell, down the hall, get out of here because no one knows why you’re crying, and that hurts more than the panic attack you’re having. You spill your guts to the next person you see because you need someone to know the secret you’re trying to hide. You want to get away from all your your tears and walk back, pretend everything is A-ok and sit quietly for the rest of the around in excitement because this is it, this is how you leave. You don’t make a choice until you say it out loud, and no one expects that, not even you. Because you don’t leave, you stay, and is everything better or worse? Freeze Can’t move, can’t think, can’t breathe, you’re so stupid why on earth would you tell someone you like them over text, that is the dumbest possible move to make in the history of ever. You’d barely even realized that you liked them before you sent a text message telling them just that. You alternate between staring at your lock screen and putting your phone facedown because the anticipation is killing you, and holy crap are you gonna get the dumbest person on Earth because you threw away a great friendship for the dream of something more, something you’ve never had so how do you even know you want it? And you don’t talk to them for a week and then tell them you didn’t mean it, because you want to salvage what has been so thoroughly broken. But the aftershocks linger, and you still don’t know if what you felt was real or just the longing for a person you’d never had before. Things are worse than anger because it’s indifference, no more casual texts or hi’s in the hallways, just nods of acknowledgment. You think about it more than you should because you don’t miss the prospect of romance, but you miss the friend, and they barely spare you a cursory look nowadays.


Crying Isn’t a Sign of Weakness Issue 37 | 23


Meraki —Candyce Jones ‘21 My head hurts. I don’t feel like writing. But thoughts and ideas push violently against the walls of my mind. They thrash around my brain, screaming to be let out. I wish I could ignore them. Yet here I am writing. Against my will, I write. Obsessively, almost, I try to escape the angry crowd of sentences that beg to be given form. A voice. I close my eyes, hoping the voices will stop. They don’t.

I pause. And the torture begins again. I tell myself that I don’t know what to write. I have nothing to say, no stories to tell. And yet I know it is a lie. thought. If I let a word escape I am punished. I feel guilty. Sometimes I drown myself in words. I write myself into a deep abyss with no end. I say that I hate it. The letters are naught but poison in my soul.

I lie and tell myself that it’s hatred. But in truth, it is love. Desperate, toxic, stubborn, and painful. But it is love.

Carved the nib of my bone and inscribed upon paper the contents of my heart, At long last I touch peace, I feel the calming emptiness and silence washes over me. For once the voices are silent. Fire & Stones | 24


I take refuge in those dark ephemeral moments. And I raise a glass to each of my most dutiful captors: The Blank Page The Pen My Mind.

Glitch Mixed Media by Steph Adrien ‘21 Issue 37 | 25


She Walks On Me Painting by Carlin Trevisan ‘21

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Contained —Grace Mykityshyn ’22 no wall can trap me in the way those brisk voices echo for every time I hear them they are the sound of what I’m doing wrong. the criticism pushes me into oblivion I am only free when I’m alone. I grasp onto what always felt out of reach a place that still feels light as if that breath could be my last. exhale into the cloth covering my mouth I can still look into those lazy eyes though I can’t see all of the people who aren’t smiling back. we may all be in the same space again but we’re not any closer than before.

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Rocking Chair Rocking Chair Painting by Delia Dresser Painting by Delia Dresser ‘22 ‘22

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Home —Matthew Smith ’24 Day 1: Become accustomed to the environment, The night is on our backs, Day 7: The unknown is behind us, The camp is our own and the camp is our new home, Acceptance is upon us. Day 28: Our old family, Pets, Neighborhood, School, All replaced by the camp. Day 56: The days are becoming mixed, Yesterday is today and tomorrow is today, The activities are becoming dull, It comes down to a cycle, Eat, Play, Fire, Sleep. Day ???: Everything is so dull, The amazement is gone, All that is left are questions, constant questions, nothing but questions, all questions, only questions.

To go home? Issue 37 | 29


Release Digital Art by Gatsby Olsen ‘21

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The Black Market of Shadows —Mollie Kemp ‘23 At least once you must’ve been proposed the “impossible trade,” one

I could” or the tall woman offers up a few inches. You get the jist, a general rushing tide of Reality. But let’s dive deeper and maybe you could lend me your big feet so I could propel beneath the forbidden waves, no matter the price, however steep. Pushing against the weight of the tide with my newly gained biceps, Reality soon realized it was no match for the strength of the supernatural. And so the Black Market of physiques began, an economy so unique even the Sun became perplexed. The Sun looked down on humanity with eyes that had weathered countless wars and the changing of continents and suddenly it doubted whether the world was round after all. Sun around the Earth since the beginning of humankind simply stopped. Eventually, without the Sun’s guidance, rays of Light were slowly leached from the one-dimensional Earth. First, the Shadows mirror ever changing and exchanged bodies. Finally, one day or night - no one was quite sure which - they looked down and their Shadows had vanished. Most likely, the Shadows became nymphs in what was left of the tide of Reality. the nymphs soon vanished altogether as the Moon accompanied the Sun in its Moon to motivate the tides, Reality was pulled to a Hope and Motivation dashed away to the Stars and dragged along the visible spectrum with them. Now what was once humanity began to see only black and white. Inevitably, Darkness enveloped the Earth and humanity was left alone with their thoughts. They called and echoed for Reality, but the waters had long since gone cold. Unable to locate their shoes without the Sun, the trading humans walked along the glass ridden ground until they reached the end of the Light and bracing themselves if they ever found

Sun, their

again.

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—Maren Knutson ‘22 “everything hurts more” you say you miss the smiling child happy and unknowing of how unkind the world can be we see it all today the wars, the hunger, the depression life is unfair we feel it in our souls do we know too much? “ignorance is bliss” i think now because instead of playing with legos or watching cartoons we worry about our rights and whether or not we’ll see tomorrow “just keep swimming” homework tests papers and projects work harder, do better focus! therapy for the anxiety sleep for the sadness take your pills, darling “no one understands me” being a teenager is different just make sure you can get to work on time study for the sat, act college applications are due soon! so maybe i’m not a smiling child anymore maybe i struggle and cry the world made me like this and you sit back and watch as the children try and fail and must try and try again

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Eyes Opened Issue 37 | 33


The Innocent Collage by Zach Gunn ‘21

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Big Man Knows Best —Eva Balistreri ’21 I have come to accept that if it doesn’t affect the big man it will never matter. For our words mean nothing in his opposition, and the fear of hurt masculinity haunts us in every word. For our emotions mean nothing at the expense of his reputation. But I do hope to see the day when someone may care just enough to make room for us in the story. But even then I know that we will still be doomed to handle the hurt in private, because it was us that got burned, and we’re not his problem anymore.

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Realizations —TJ Moss ’21 I had to realize at some point I was impregnated with my own unworthiness. I had to realize If you’re looking for that one person to change your life, look in the mirror. I had to realize the reason why you over-romanticize him is because the reality of him was never good enough. I had to realize maybe it’s me or are we toxic? I had to realize the saddest people smile the brightest. The most damaged people are the wisest. I had to realize a lot of people don’t love themselves, it’s the fact that they love that someone else is loving them. I had to realize that just being me isn’t enough for myself. I had to realize it’s better to breathe from a machine than to breathe the same air as you. I had to realize at some point realizing isn’t gonna change the world. But then again, I realized.

Sitting Pretty Painting by Carlin Trevisan ‘21

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Someone’s Doll Painting by Catherine Seale ‘21

Suburbia —Monty Montgomery ’21 Is it just my imagination? The street seems to go on forever, I’m lost in a maze with no end, An endless expanse of identical houses lining the street. The matching white siding and white picket fences, Each house adorned with a two-car garage, I look around for people, desperate for a familiar face. After what feels like forever, I spot a few families playing in their yards. They all appear identical, with the same features and mannerisms. I ask where I am, they tell me “home.” Alarm bells go off. The puzzle clicks together and the realization hits: The white houses that glistened a minute ago are blinding, The picket fences jut out in dangerous daggers. I look around and realize there is nowhere to run. There is no escaping conformity.

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What Was So Easily Broken —Lauren Irish ‘23

cushioned so comfortably, that one may have almost expected it to be there, and there was a line of gold dust bushes, which we adamantly named “tick bushes,” may not have been the only reason why many stayed away from the back of the playground over some bushes and mulch. Thus, we had the area to ourselves, and luckily the other grades had not found the egg before we had. It was particularly small, about the length from the tip of the pinky to the second joint line, and was perfectly oval, almost cartoonishly so. Although its color is not something I can remember as clearly, despite Turkish blue, so suffocatingly rich on the eyes that it can be compared to eating

Byproducts Digital Art by Caitlin Bucceri ‘21

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inoffensive shade of sand, freckled with some sort of carob brown. Either way, the have found such a delicate form of life, something that could become greater. And with this admiration of life, came a feeling of duty. The duty to protect.

each website dictated the same seemingly cold truth and advice. Dishearteningly, we learned that when an egg is abandoned, it is for a reason, and that there is not much a ten-year-old can do except alert an adult, which only resulted in the same answer: “just let it be.” But how could we let it be? The blazing sense of duty only fanned itself greater and we chose to take matters into our own hands.

every recess, there was a tempest of stress that would erupt in my stomach, and it? Thrown it? Stolen it? It was such a small thing, the egg, but to us, it was everything. If only I had foreseen who was going to break it and known that it was never going to hatch anyway, maybe then some stress would have relieved itself, and my focus could have returned to my school work and fun games at recess. Alas, I allowed myself to succumb to meaningless anxiety over such a fragile thing. It was dusk when it happened. The sky was lemonade on iced tea, gentle yellow seeping into the orange where the sun continued its descent lazily. The annual Fall Festival was coming to a close, and as parents began to seek out their alone, enjoying the sounds of the wind and distant chatter where only moments ago Sia’s Titanium had been blaring through the empty space. Reaching the crimson maple, I was relieved by the sight of the egg glimmering in the last rays of the decaying sun. I reached for it, hoping to warm it a bit in the chilling weather as we had routinely done, naive to the idea that the warmth does indeed go away when the source disappears. It was my clumsiness that shattered the egg. I let go, and it fell almost blandly with a small crunch against the root of the tree. Frozen, I looked to my hands, desperately hoping to unlock some mystical time warping magic that I had read about and bring the egg back. Obviously, nothing happened, and the egg lay on the root perfectly severed in half, an ironically happy golden yolk hanging askew of the left shell. Then I ran.

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And Still It Beats —Candyce Jones ‘21 I wondered when I’d die And Time stood still All at once I could no longer feel the thundering of my heart Such overwhelming emptiness that even The wind dare not risk its breath Yet A chorus of desperate pleas I heard within me They urged me live I hated them But still My heart beat on The insistent And Refused to die A weary soul seemed near its end But from my heart there was a stirring Muscles awakening Limbs stretching

I heard the call of new voices Rich as honey and ripe with strength I found myself drawn to them And though I still oft-heard Death’s fearsome cry Still beats this daring heart of mine

Electrical Storm Fire & Stones | 40


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Bicycle —Christopher Yu ‘21 It meets head-on, Sunlight embracing, Pavement scraping, People spinning, Round and round, The bicycle that glides past them, Its wheels Skate Through the streets, Laughing, Playing, It makes its entrance discreetly, Fearlessly easing through stop signs, Daring to pass on the right, Darting and dipping, Invading the road, To the metal behemoths surrounding, But the temporary lifeline, And soul of its owner, There are no windows, Or seatbelts adorning the thin frame, Yet still the only thing Separating me from the cruel pavement we glide above, As the cars and sounds of the city, Are left behind, I can feel myself begin to transform The legs of a centaur lie beneath me, My feet nothing more than another Cog in the system, The winds of the gods beckon me forward, Until we reach the feet of our mortal enemy: The Titan, The mountain of a man, Stands hundreds of feet tall, It stares us down, Unforgiving, Uncaring,

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Keep Pedaling, Forward, Keep, Pedaling, Forward, The gears Shrink, The wheels Turn, The beast, Slain, And we Keep, Pedaling, Forward, Until suddenly, Feet hit the ground stiff, As if exiting a hot air balloon, The bike is stowed away, By a chain-link fence, Alone, Than a promise of return giving it strength, A promise that will never be broken, Because the two-wheeler, Is more than a set of gears, It is freedom, Independence, Sound of Silence

Light — Chris Milton ‘20

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The Lifetimes It May Take —Eva Balistreri ‘21

and even on my team I hold a position of power I cut my hair and grew it back and dyed it blonde just to dye it back I pierced my own ears and got a tattoo in a place no one can see - not even you I saw the world from the top of a mountain and with my best friend I jumped into the fountain and know she is someone who is with me to the end I spent a night on the roof of the church three streets over with a girl from whom I never got closure I even drove to New York and got back in time to see the sun rise But I still wasn’t worth it, not in my own eyes I must not allow myself to believe that this is enough And simply give up when things get rough I have made it this far and will not stop now Yes, I’ve pulled myself through all the ups and downs So I must go on and I say this now Because there is so much more of which I could be proud I want to grow up and watch my hands wrinkle And on her wedding day see my best friends’ eyes twinkle I want to say that I have voted And know that to justice I will always be devoted I want to hold a child in my arms And do whatever possible to protect them from harm I want to look in the mirror and believe I am enough And perhaps even defy my younger self’s bluffs I want to see the scars of my tears heal Yet look back on those nights and remember it’s okay to feel But most of all, more than anything ever, I want to leave this life knowing I will be remembered.

Big Sister, Little Sister Photograph by Zoe Coval ‘23

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—Ana Bach ‘21 I ponder while I smoke. The mixture of monochromatic greys creates an amorphous cloud of toxicants above me. A light tap of the end of the bud causes the ash to scatter in a million directions, settling into the atmosphere. Inhaling just enough to feel the slight kick of nicotine in the back of my throat before exhaling. Living in Naples, the air lacks thickness, and it is easy to breathe no matter what your smoking habits are. The ocean breeze balances out the harsh heat rays the sun omits, so it is enjoyable even in the hotter months when you feel like you might melt away. The architecture is traditional and classic, untouched by any large cooperation set on making cookie-cutter houses for the hoi polloi. Every plant and every building is one with the rest. It is a living form of art. One harder tap and I feel the bitter end of the bud searing into my skin. At this point, I have become immune to the pain. A little discomfort is worth it when I can escape for just a moment. To my surprise, I see him, my beautiful boy, looking his thin ringlets curl up on his sideburns. As he smiles, his face widens up enough to show his actual teeth. I can tell by the way his nose scrunches up if it is a true grimace. It makes me happy to see him smile, even though I sure as hell don’t. I was never depressed, but I just didn’t feel that it was necessary to constantly project out to the world what emotions I was feeling at every given moment. Now that I think about it, I should smile more. Every man I have ever a misogynistic undertone, I might actually take the criticism with a little more than I pose less of a threat to people? I thought men liked it when I snapped at them?

that in order to be approached in a normal manner I have to either resort to selfremains true is that I am far from any of those things. I am eccentric and bold. I

away in the kitchen for my husband. That is not me, and that is not what I want to project to the world, and certainly not to my son.

eardrums like most children. It’s smooth like he has his own personal sound that

argument, and neither one of us is quick to settle. I must have the last word. I need to establish myself because I am the dominant one in our relationship. I am Fire & Stones | 46


allow any room for doubt. I know that when I do, the humiliation is worse than to understand that he has yet to reach that age where he can accurately decipher right from wrong. The other day I caught him dumping a bowl of ice-cold water on his father while he was in the shower. The little punk thought he could get away with it when Roger was jammed in between the sliding glass doors of the shower. It worries me that moments like these will affect his mindset in the grand scheme of things. These little events will spiral and manifest into something darker. I fear that an innate sense of entitlement will cloud his judgment and one wrong decision will quickly lead to another. It starts when he is younger and he thinks he can get away with pranks - then pranks turn into cheating, cheating turns into stealing, stealing turns into assault, and so on. I cannot have my only child represent all that I loathe in this cruel world. The good still shines through. I can see it in his eyes. Moans and other strange noises come from the other side of the fence surrounding the house. It’s not even 5:00 pm and the alcoholic neighbor has surpassed her limit of liquor intake. At this point, it doesn’t surprise me anymore, but it would be nice if she didn’t cause such a scene. It’s embarrassing, and she dresses. She looks approachable because it would be easy to move in on someone when they are rendered unconscious. She doesn’t look like she has any form of family or stability in her life. I kind of sympathize with her situation, but at the same time how do you allow yourself to get to that place. It’s embarrassing and I worry how it affects the kids in the neighborhood, especially Robert. I don’t want him to feel the constant burn of the habitual effect toxic behavior can cause. It doesn’t just exhaust the body. The mind quickly follows, until all that’s left is the ashy remnants of what was once pure and untouched.

Issue 37 | 47


Your Future Is Calling


Profile for St. Stephen's and St. Agnes School

Fire & Stones, Spring 2021  

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