Fire & Stones, Winter 2022

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Winter 2022

Issue 38

FIRE & S TONES Literary and Arts Magazine

St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School 1000 St. Stephens Rd Alexandria, VA 22304 (703) 751-2700 Issue 38

Printer: Master Print, Newington Virginia © 2022 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: All submissions must be emailed to Artists and writers can submit 1-3 pieces per issue. Literary entries accepted: short fiction, essays, poetry, plays, and excerpts. We do not have length limits; however, try to keep submissions under 1000 words. Include names on the files: firstinitial_lastname .doc .txt or .pdf permitted. Visual art accepted: photography, illustration, painting, collage, mixed media, cartoon, graphic design, and photographed sculpture. Please submit visual art as high-resolution, jpeg files.

Advertising & Distribution: We distribute our issues and solicit submissions at 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 Kate Elkins ( or Jill McElroy (

Early Bird Charlotte Hill ’23

To the reader, At some point or another, everyone looks for an escape. What kind of an escape we look for and what we are escaping from are some of the many things that make us all unique. Whether we are escaping problems with family, work, the pandemic, or something else, an escape gives us a breath of air, saving us from suffocation. One of the most private ways to escape is through the creation of art. In the following writing and artwork our authors express their feelings, opinions, and perspectives that transcend the limits of their individual lives and the boundaries of the world around us. Viewing art can be an escape as well. In this issue of Fire & Stones, we encourage you to be transported by the creativity of our students. Sit back and enjoy the escape! Sincerely,

Victoria Lopez Yellow August Moon ’24

Victoria Lopez, Senior Editor Maren Knutson, Mollie Kemp, Literary Editors Zoë Coval, Creative Director Kirsten Johnson, Lizzie Sherman, Communications Directors Staff Alex Galdamez Amber Dunton Anna Strauss Brennan Wise Charlotte Hill Claire McConnel Dia Britto Elisabeth Carroll Elizabeth Hanley Ella Joshi Elona Michael Finley Knutson Genevieve Cyrus Gigi Lisaius Jordan Resnick Kalli Dinos Lily Bertles Lily Hunsicker Micah Gura Morgan Tracy Nyrique’ Butler Reagan Reilly Sophie Atkisson Faculty Advisors Kate Elkins Jill McElroy

Table of Contents Literature Micah Gura ’25, Circumstances 9 Elona Michael ’24, My Path 11 Genevieve Cyrus ’22, Memento Aurum 14 Mimi Shea ’22, Finding Danu 16 Lauren Irish ’23, Clouds 20 Charles Bradburn ’22, Marching 22 William Mount ’25, u-u-u-unfinished 25 Micah Gura ’25, Felix Greenwood 29 Zoë Coval ’23, Blue Lotus 34 Sophie Stine ’25, The Skeletons in My Closet 36 Maren Knutson ’22, i want 38 Artwork Charlotte Hill ’23, Early Bird 2 August Moon ’24, Yellow 4 TG Peterson ’23, Apple Aftermath 7 Chris Hamam ’23, Morning Coffee 8 Owen Larson ’22, Prayers 10 Meghan McCue ’22, Undisturbed 13 Theo Weiman ’24, Visit Athens 15 Sophie Atkisson ’23, Sunny Courtyard 17 Meghan McCue ’22, Affirmations 18 Lily Adams ’24, Skyline 22 Codie Campbell ’23, Industrial Honeycomb 24 Theo Weiman ’24, Unmasked 26 Ellery Johnson’25, Brother 28 Alex Galdamez ’22, Greed 32 Zoë Coval ’23, Shattered Self Image 35 Zoe Wallach ’22, Clay Bodies 36 Colin Cross ’24, Matterhorn 39 Sydney Worsham ’24, Carol 40

Front Cover: Prague Drawing by Cooper Harding ’23 Back Cover: Chapel View Painting by Chris Hamam ’23

Apple Aftermath TG Peterson ’23

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Morning Coffee Chris Hamam ’23

Circumstances At 6 am Sharon Fall woke up, Took a shower, and put on makeup. With a dress colored wheat, She set off on her feet And walked to a nearby Starbucks. Frank Linsky awakened early In his apartment so very lonely, Put on a silk suit and tie, Then left for a cafe to buy A double cinnamon mocha cappuccino tea. And as he wearily arrived, Frank rubbed his tired eyes, Saw a woman Less gorgeous than none In front of him in line. She glanced at the man behind her In an instant love struck, what a wonder! They stared at each other, But now it was her turn: “Double cinnamon mocha cappuccino tea” was her order. And as she walked away with her drink, Giving the sharp dressed man a wink, He reached for the napkins She became unbalanced And spilled hot tea all over Frank. They went their separate ways and life went on. Oh well, what a shame. —Micah Gura ’25

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Prayers Owen Larson ’22

My Path Standing at the edge of the boat, I look below and see the Hudson River tide brushing against the ferry. The sun flashes in my direction, and I feel the slight breeze reflecting off the water. Suddenly, the loud noise of the speaker erupts in my ears, “And to our left, ladies and gentlemen, is our Lady Liberty. In a joint effort to celebrate the friendship between France and The United States during the American Revolution, the French gifted this statue to us. But this is not the only significance of this statue, in fact when European immigrants first came to Ellis Island this was the first image they saw of America. Lady Liberty holding out a torch. To them, she was a symbol of hope and new beginnings.” I remember my first time learning about Ellis Island in Lower School. I was so fascinated I even went home and asked my immigrant parents what it was like when they first arrived. They both laughed and explained to me that they weren’t one hundred years old and immigration had revolutionized greatly since then. Both of my parents had to flee their country, Ethiopia, at a young age when a repressive regime took over. While my mother first went to France and my father to Michigan where his brothers were, they both eventually found themselves in Washington, D.C. My father, although living in this country for about twenty years and attending university here, did not become an American citizen until 2012. And my mother was able to win a green card lottery and came to this country speaking barely any English while living in a small apartment with her brother in Arlington. My family takes much pride in being American as well as Ethiopian. Our house is a gateway into a melting pot, as one would say. On top of our piano stands a black and white picture of my great grandma and grandpa from 1897, near the time when the Ethiopians beat the Italians in the Battle of Adwa. My great grandpa sits on his red chair while my great grandmother stands by his side. Next to it are pictures of my family and me standing in front of the Hollywood sign from 2018. Our arms fold around each other while the California sun beams down on our skin. If you turn to your left, you will see 2-ft miniature clay statues of women from the Gambella tribe, a region located in southwest of Ethiopia. They wear green skirts and orange tops highlighting their smooth dark skin. Issue 38 | 11

Maybe if you listen closely, you will hear the sound of my mother playing Teddy Afro and cooking shiro and tibs in the kitchen, while my dad grills hot dogs on our porch during a hot 4th of July evening. In our basement we have hundreds of photos of my parents and grandparents when they were younger. On my dad’s old Dell laptop there are probably thousands. I dedicate some days to just scrolling through old video tapes observing my parents’ younger selves. And all of this happens while the American and Ethiopian flag sit together in a vase on our kitchen counter to be seen by anyone who walks by our townhouse window. Even though this lifestyle seems like the perfect mix, growing up as a firstgeneration kid I still always felt like I wasn’t embracing my Ethiopian roots enough because of how westernized our family has become. Whenever I’m eating my ChickFil-A in my living room and doing my homework, sometimes I can feel my great grandmother side-eying me, wishing I could be brave like her and be a part of the minority of women who fought in the war at the time for her country. Or at least be in Ethiopia, carrying on the legacy of my grandpa Ketema Yifru, who was one of the main founders of the African Union, while also representing his country, Ethiopia. I look back at Lady Liberty in the distance. And this time she is facing me. Her eyes meet mine, and she lowers her torch to my level so that it is pointed right at my direction. As I stand there in front of her, on a hot summer day in August, I start to realize why immigrants saw her as a sign of hope. Lady Liberty holds out her torch for you and promises new beginnings and belonging into the unknown world. I am a product of immigration. I am descended from ancestors of bravery and pride of their nation. I am also the first person in my family to be born in the United States. When Lady Liberty holds out her torch to me, she reminds me that I am the new beginning, promise, and sign of hope. I am the start of historical differences that will impact the next generations. By living in my “melting pot,” I am one of the millions of first-generation kids in the U.S., actively showing how amazing it is to be able to be the first to be a part of two beautiful cultures. So although I might not be an Ethiopian citizen like the people who came before me, I am a first-generation American citizen, able to experience the fascinating job of lighting the way for a new change to come, while also sticking my roots to the ground. By the time I look up again Lady Liberty is gone; she now has all of her attention on the next ferry. I look forward and can somehow hear the faint noises of the city ahead. I know that the boat will dock soon and my trip will be over, so I stand by the edge and look at the Hudson River tide brushing against our ferry while the sun flashes in my direction, and I feel the slight breeze reflecting off the water. Below, the ferry creates a new path following me as I make my way toward land. This is my path. —Elona Michael ’24 Fire & Stones | 12

Undisturbed Meghan McCue ’22 Issue 38 | 13

Memento Aurum i remember the golden beaches outside our windows, far from our lives where we spent our days away from home. leaving our worries shortly behind and living purely in the moment, with the sun slipping through shining waves. running in the sand, nowhere to go; just walking until we changed our minds. a full moon glistened over our heads, with a hue spun of gold and silver. you won’t see how golden the times are until it’s all finally over. —Genevieve Cyrus ’22

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Visit Athens Theo Weiman ’24

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Finding Danu Yesterday, I felt the wings of a bee Brush my fingers as it fluttered Around in blissful curiosity, Until she finally sat and took From the juicy center of a honeysuckle rose. Today, I watched a praying mantis Fall into oblivion, Only after bowing her head In the arms of a four-leaf clover And sobbing. Tomorrow, I will listen as a raven Perches herself on the highest branch Of the tallest tree, To make herself known more By singing to her subjects and finally flying Down to meet them. For eternity, I have and will witness The beauty of a falling art, The picture of perfection, Cracking against a beaten mirror. I will watch, I will feel, I will be. —Mimi Shea ’22

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Sunny Courtyard Sophie Atkisson ’23

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Affirmations Meghan McCue ’22

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Clouds You said you were going to open the door, and that was not part of the plan. Or at least it was not a part of the puerile idea of a plan I had mentally developed on my way over. I almost felt like informing you of such, but I persuaded my enervated mind that it would be nice to see you one last time. How foolish to think that the emotion I would leave with would be a happy one. It should have been obvious, the oozing desolation departure brings. Blank ivory clouds veneered the sky providing a predictable surface to stare at for the entirety of the car ride. I was lost in my own whimsical fancies, fidgeting with the coarse corner of the plastic bag that encased two exotic candies; a gift because you said you liked coconut and mango. Both were brightly colored, severely contrasting with the situation. Your name was gently written in blue Sharpie with two dashes on either side. Perhaps the font was large for flair, or perhaps it was large to cover up the top half of the nearly empty sandwich bag out of shame. I had tried to mentally pirouette around my shame of bringing only two sweets to honor your egress with. The car slowed, and I left my meaningless reveries behind, reality scornfully greeted with a gust of humid August air. I could smell wet tension in the air, the promise of rain was already visible in the sky, but there was another promise too, one unspoken but deeply coerced. I told myself I would not shed a tear because crying in the rain is a cliche. I rang the doorbell. You opened the door halfway and squeezed past in such a humorous and childlike way that I smiled and tried to bring some of that humor into my voice. You were so warmly and nostalgically recognizable as we had known of each others’ existence for years but had spoken only recently. A regret that I wished to be mutual. Thus, in a way, you were still a stranger. I did not know what to say. “Here,” I handed the plastic bag to you, averting eye contact and instead noticing the color of your shirt. It must have been some shade similar to our elementary school uniforms because the wave of nostalgia that ebbed and flowed so quietly in the background suddenly became overpowering. Regret swam forward as well and began to circle my thoughts as a shark does before the kill. It was only waiting for me to be alone so it could paddle to the surface and make itself truly known. But for now, I saw the fin.

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You gave me what I will perceive to be a melancholic smile, “Thanks.” I had a million things to say, but everything snagged on my tongue. I couldn’t say anything. “Hug,” I managed to mutter, and opened my arms that were stiff at my sides before. I refused to move so you came and we embraced. I pulled away first and focused intently on the brick wall that reminded me of an old school building behind you. The overly familiar scent of coriander and patchouli wafted gracefully out of your house reminding me of the days where we watched our sisters play. “Good luck in college, man,” I said, keeping my voice as neutral and fragile as I could make it, for I was scared to say anything that would sting or linger in either of our minds. Odd as I had almost never cared for what I said to you before. You turned to leave, and I felt the apoplectic beating of my heart rise. I wanted to thank you for your cherished friendship, but I could not speak another word. Instead, I glanced up at you one last time, and it was a mistake. Our eyes met, and it was a long pause with forced smiles and shared sorrow. I left, and you closed the door. Regret emerged and I began to reflect. The car ride home was quiet. I waited for the rain to stop, and then I cried. —Lauren Irish ’23

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Marching The cloud broke across the blue sky, Little pieces drifting from horizon to horizon. The sun shined deeply into the leaves, filtered and fragmented rays of light. While the grass pushed up against The roots, intertwined with rocks and soil. And the simple ant trekked across the bark. She wandered, following smells known only to her. Her small body weaving between the greenery, making its way to the hole deep below.

Skyline Lily Adams ’24 Fire & Stones | 22

The ant knows nothing of the world above. Her day nothing more than marching, marching to food, marching back home. Endless steps in pursuit of a full life. In pursuit of selfless generosity. Of course an ant is just an ant. It cannot deviate from its path, its predetermined days flitting by unnoticed. An ant cannot feel its mortality, nor the pain, so easily caused by life. The ant is small. The ant is weak. And yet, it continues its steps. Marching, marching, marching. —Charles Bradburn ’22

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Industrial Honeycomb Codie Campbell ’23

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u-u-u-unfinished. S-s-s-stuttering is something that most people d-d-don’t understand. “Just speak,” “Slow down,” “No rush.’’ T-t-t-t-these are some of the worst things to say to somebody with a speech impediment. I’ve had to fight many battles in my life, but s-s-s-s-stuttering is probably the one that I h-h-h-hate the most. Imagine being too s-s-s-s-scared to even ask to go to the b-b-b-b-bathroom, your bladder feeling like an o-o-o-o-overfilled water-balloon about to p-p-p-pop, yet still not going to the b-b-b-bathroom. That was me last year. I barely spoke a w-w-w-word to people outside of my immediate group of f-f-f-friends. Every word that c-c-c-c-came out of my mouth was like a p-p-p-p-piece of steel trying to be blended. “C-c-c-c-c-can I use the b-b-bathroom?”. Wow, you did it. C-c-ccongratulations. Now everybody is staring at you. As the teacher waves you off, you see a t-t-thousand pairs of eyes glaring at you, like those m-m-monsters that you see in your darkest nightmares. T-t-t-t-this was my subconsciousness last year. I was just starting t-t-ttherapy for my impediment and I despised myself. I thought of my s-s-s-stutter as somebody that nobody likes, including yourself. But that somebody will never leave you alone, no matter what you do. I-i-i-i-it lurks in the corner of every conversation, like a m-m-m-monster in your closet waiting until you turn your lights off, eager to destroy you. As my therapy went on, however, I began to think of this annoying friend as part of m-m-m-me. It would always be with me. The best thing that I could do is accept it into my life. Slowly, the stuttering began to become less and l-l-l-less frequent. In fact, just last week, I memorized a script and read it out loud to my French class. I didn’t stutter once. I asked a friend of mine if he even knew that I had a s-s-stutter in the beginning of this school year. “What? I didn’t even notice it. Sure you kinda spoke fast but I didn’t know you stuttered.” All of that bottled up fear had felt like the scourge of my existence. Yet, m-most people didn’t even know that I had it. I was, quite literally, flabbergasted. So, just live your life without fear of judgment. People are always more worried about themselves than you. Don’t worry, it only took me 14 years to figure this out. —William Mount ’25

Unmasked Theo Weiman ’24 Issue 38 | 27

Brother Ellery Johnson ’25 Fire & Stones | 28

Felix Greenwood Felix Greenwood looked out over his grounds with solemnity as the autumn breeze swept against his face. To the right of him, Joey quietly ate lemon cake on the mansion’s balcony. Felix glanced over just as his brother spilled champagne on his tie. Filthy animal. He would soon have to go like the others. “Did you see our stock prices went up this morning?” Joey broke the silence. “Yes, yes, I heard.” “Well, isn’t that great?” “I suppose.” Yes, Joey would soon have to be dealt with. Too annoying. “Why are you so gloomy these days? We have more money than Fort Knox and we’ve escaped the feds for the time being. What more could you possibly want?” He waited for a reply. Felix gave none. “Now here we are on this beautiful day, we’re still young, our-” “Still, Joey?” muttered Felix. “Still? I’m 29, you’re 27. Soon I’ll be 3o and then middle-aged and before you know it, I’ll be growing white hair. And then I’ll die. I’ll die, Joey! So we have plenty of money, so what if we can only spend it for so long? So, I- we haven’t aroused too many suspicions, but that won’t last forever! Who cares about having everything you want if it’ll all vanish and there’s nothing to do about it?” He stalked away deep in his thoughts. Inside the mansion, Felix watched outside as the wind picked up and it started to rain. Cold, miserable, rain that never died. It was growing more frigid as winter began to cast its long shadow. Then, spring, then summer, then fall. Repeat. For infinity. No worries. The seasons had endless confidence in the future. “There’s got to be a way… some way…” Felix spoke to himself, almost feverish. “Maybe there is.” And he set off to work. For the next six months, Felix busily researched ways to obtain eternal youth, from monks in India to a professor in California to hermits living in the French alps. With each visit he became more and more enraged. One day Felix visited someone who claimed they had engineered a special drug that would satisfy his wishes. He arrived at a large blue house in a small town in the countryside. Not a mansion by any means, but still a generous allotment of property. Felix got out of his limousine, walked up to the door, and was let in by one of the two guards posted at the entrance. Inside the building, Felix was brought by servants to a blond man sitting at a table. “Do you have what I want?” The man chuckled. “Yes, yes, don’t be so hasty. Wait. Aren’t you Felix Greenwood, the famous businessman?” “That’s me. Now show me the item.” “In a moment. Mr. Greenwood, aren’t you rather known in the underground world for building your corporation through illegal means? There are even rumors you’ve killed off family members to gain more company power…” Issue 38 | 29

“Enough! Give me my item or I will leave here right now without paying a cent,” roared Felix. “Very well,” said the man, his demeanor having become colder. “You’ll go to hell someday, but money is money for now.” He brought out a box about the size of his palm and handed it to Felix, who carefully opened it. Inside was a small white pill. “If this is anything other than what I desire, there will be consequences,” warned Felix as he dropped a load of cash onto the table and walked out with his men. Back at the mansion, Felix inspected the pill. It seemed harmless enough. He considered testing it on someone more expendable, like Joey. But there was only one, and what if he wasted eternal life on some idiot? The only person who deserved it was himself. If the pill killed him, well… he was going to die anyway. After staring and thinking for a long while, Felix made a decision and popped the fountain of youth in his mouth. That was the last thing he remembered before blacking out. Felix woke up at the same place. He opened his eyes and looked around the room, just as he had left it. Downstairs he could hear Joey yelling at the butler and he could definitely smell something roasting. So he had survived after all! He felt a little different than before in a way he couldn’t describe. Did the pill do what it was supposed to do? He could only wait and see. In the meantime, he continued to seek more ways to achieve immortality so that he didn’t waste time waiting for something that might not work. Between running the company and his renewed pursuit, Felix was still busy night and day. Twelve months later, Felix looked at himself in the mirror and compared his face and physique to pictures of himself from a year ago, as he had done every day since the visit. He cursed. Was that a grey hair he was seeing? No, just a trick of the light. Relax, it’s only been a year, he thought to himself. Five years later Felix compared himself again. He still looked exactly the same! His idiot younger brother Joey now looked a little older than him. Maybe this stupid pill did actually do its job… After ten years Felix reached a happy conclusion. The blond man’s pill did work after all! “Brother, I didn’t know you used makeup.” Felix spun around from the mirror to find Joey standing in the doorway, with a hint of suspicion on his face. Felix had never told his brother about his search for immortality, saying that all his increased traveling was just good business. The security guards that came with Felix to the blue house had naturally been killed, so Felix’s secret was safe. “How do you, a 39-old-man, look like you’re around 30 while your younger brother looks older? Is it plastic surgery, maybe? Or something else…” “I think you just look very old for your age,” retorted Felix, quickly walking away. Should he finally get Joey out of the way like he had with Cara and Al and Ian? No, he’d die anyway. They’d all die anyway. Fire & Stones | 30

Sure enough, Felix slowly watched with pleasure as everyone he knew grew old and died, including Joey. Decades, and then centuries passed with Felix remaining young and healthy, never running out of money. There were a couple of nuclear wars, the machines finally revolted, empires came and went. Felix watched as the world around him grew more advanced and everything changed - everything except him. The first couple hundred years were fun. But around when Felix was in the 470s, he became somewhat bored with his life. He had mastered every skill, raised numerous families, and done everything there was to do. Nothing brought him joy anymore. As time went on, Felix grew more restless. By the time he was 800, Felix had become reclusive and hid away in his old mansion, something from a forgotten time. The world explored space and technology, and in the process forgot about Felix, the once famous businessman. “Let me die already!” he screamed at the sky. No answer. Felix explored the world again, searching for someone who could give him answers. It was in a forest in what used to be called Antarctica that he finally found one. Noticing a bonfire in the distance, he staggered over to find a woman with dark black hair and a red shawl tending the flames. “What brings you here, stranger?” “I made a terrible mistake long ago,” said Felix, holding the box he had kept for so many centuries. Without thinking, rage overcame him and he angrily threw it into the fire. “If it hadn’t been for that-” Felix froze. There, inside the material of the burning box that had held the white pill of immortality were two tiny words: PURE CYANIDE. “It can’t be…” he whispered, remembering the blond man’s final words to him. “Ex-excuse me,” he stuttered, turning to the woman. “The year is now 2972, correct?” The woman chuckled. “Oh yeah, that’s what we tell people who get sent down here.” —Micah Gura ’25

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Greed Alex Galdamez ’22

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Blue Lotus I’ve never had the time to notice all of the blue lotus imprinted on my bathroom wall. I’m always too busy to see something itsy-bitsy. I don’t have the time to sit here and rhyme about a meaningless flower. It would be a waste of an hour, when I could be in the shower. I have assignments to do, and lots of food to chew. I need to do my chores, and rearrange my drawers. But instead I take the time to notice all of the blue lotus imprinted on my bathroom wall. —Zoë Coval ’23

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Shattered Self Image Zoë Coval ’23 Issue 38 | 35

The Skeletons in my Closet Everyone has skeletons in their closets, some we just don’t see. Each skeleton beckons you with their fateful plea. Look inside my closet and then you will be inside a land of agony, which I cannot flee. My closet doors are pure white with roses painted on. Looks like peace and innocence, graceful like a swan. Look closer, and it will bring the ugly dawn. Monsters lay within this place and are not newly spawned. Their demons are many; some are escaping. I wish they would leave, but they are just reshaping. They are covered by the light in my closet, waiting. Waiting for when I slip up, let go, or fall to begin displaying… my true colors.

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Closets aren’t perfect; they have cracks. And I am tired from fighting my demons with their constant attacks. If my walls start to break and I am on the brink of collapse, please, don’t judge me for putting up these acts. These monsters are hidden well, in the darkest nook. Pretty on the outside, nothing on the inside, you almost wouldn’t look. Not all evil is on the surface, so please don’t overlook, each closet has its skeleton, just in a darker crook. —Sophie Stine ’25

Clay Bodies Zoe Wallach ’22

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i want i want to watch every tv show and movie just to give recommendations i want to document my successes and share them with the world i want to cross every item off of all my bucket lists i want to hang out with my friends every day i want to hug my family as often as i can i want to become a master at my craft i want to achieve my fullest potential i want to read every story i can i want to listen to every song i want to meet new people i want to see new places i want to try new foods i want to try again i want to try but there just isn’t enough ti—Maren Knutson ’22

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Matterhorn Colin Cross ’24 Issue 38 | 39

Carol Sydney Worsham ’24

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S t . S t e p h e n’s a n d S t . A g n e s S c h o o l