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STAFFORD HIGH SCHOOL

2009 LITERARY MAGAZINE


A

MONG the thousands of thoughts that run through

our heads everyday, there are only a few that stick with us longer than a few seconds. For those that do, only a fraction of them are shared with others. Art and writing are two ways that many of us use to communicate and share our thoughts or little inspirations with the world and those around us. CHRISTINA SULLIVAN

STUDENT EDITORS Nina Gonzalez Jenny Pan

FACULTY ADVISOR Jim Andrews, Publisher Linda Keefer, Art Sue Gill, Technical

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YOUNG HOPE By Lexie Morello

Troubling times are upon the world. People losing jobs left and right. Genocide, starvation, war. The horrors never seem to end. Some people try to ignore it. They turn up their noses, Walk down the street with their coffee, With their cell phones attached to their ears. They hear their friends loud and clear But not the cries for help. They spend money on their brand new car But not money for clean drinking water. People are crying out for help all over the world. But then there are the people who care People who dedicate themselves All of their time, love, and money All of their resources for the good of mankind. Those are the people to be celebrated. Not emaciated starlets and coked-out rockers. Change we need. But it needs to come now. Not fifty years down the line. Wars need to end. Violence, gunshots ringing constantly, Cries of the wounded, All need to be silenced.

CHRISTINA SULLIVAN

One person can’t change the world. The whole world needs to want to change. Change should be coming, If we all try to make it happen.

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POETRY

TABLE OF CONTENTS

3 - YOUNG HOPE – LEXIE MORELLO 6 - WATCHING THE WORLD - K MCVICKER 7 - WILL OF THE LIGHT - ALANNAH PAULE 9 - LACHRYMOSE - STEPHANIE REAMES 10 - THE STEEL CITY - PATRICK CLARK 12 - BOURBON RIVER BLUES - JOHN KOVALCHIK 15 - THE WAITING - PATRICK CLARK 20 - TICKING AWAY - JESSICA STEWART 22 - OTHER WORLD - JOHN KOVALCHICK 27 - IN THE SKY - ALANNAH PAULE 31 - AARON ADKINS

14 17 20 22 26 29 -

PROSE

THE TICKET - KURT VINNEDGE NEW CITY, NEW LIFE - NINA GONZALEZ TICKING AWAY - JESSICA STEWART OTHER WORLD - JOHN KOVALCHICK SITTING IN ON LIFE - KURT VINNEDGE K. NEEDHAM - THE ROSE

ART & PHOTOGRAPHY 1 - CHRISTINA SULLIVAN 2 - CHRISTINA SULLIVAN 3 - CHRISTINA SULLIVAN 5 - ANONYMOUS 6 - CALEB RAWSON 7 - CHRISTINA SULLIVAN 8 - JENNY PAN 11 - CHRISTINA SULLIVAN 13 - KYLE FALKENSTERN 13 - NINA GONZALEZ 14 - NINA GONZALEZ 15 - CHRISTINA SULLIVAN 16 - CHRISTINA SULLIVAN 18 - CHRISTINA SULLIVAN 19 - CHRISTINA SULLIVAN 4


TABLE OF CONTENTS

20 - NINA GONZALEZ 21 - ANONYMOUS 22 - NINA GONZALEZ 25 - ANONYMOUS 26 - JENNY PAN 27 - ANONYMOUS 28 - DEVON DYE 31 - CHRISTINA SULLIVAN 33 - FRANCISCO GONZALEZ 34 - CHRISTINA SULLIVAN

ANONYMOUS

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WATCHING THE WORLD

By K McVicker

He sits and watches the world go by. Smoking his cigarette, Sipping his tea. He sits and watches the world go by With his sparkling eyes, His knowing grin. He sits and watches the world go by, As the world stops And watches him.

PHHTO CAPTION CALEB RAWSON

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WILL OF THE LIGHT By Alannah Paule

Along the weary ocean shore, The waves, though tired, crash and roar They boom and bounce and sometimes break, And through the night, remain awake And on that shore, a silhouette, That dances as a marionette She seems alone in the bittersweet night, But the moon gazes down, with its radiant light She is never alone, so long as its here, To blanket her body and kidnap her fear The moon, unaware that she waits for the light To dance, with such ease, in the midsummer’s night She turns and she twists, and she never will fail With the moon by her side, and the light that is pale But fret as she may, it can never remain, For the heat of the sun must not be contained The refined silhouette will be back the next night, And dance in the comfort of the pale moonlight But as the night fades, so will her dance, But remaining forever, the hypnotic romance.

CHRISTINA SULLIVAN

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JENNY PAN

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LACHRYMOSE By Stephanie Reames

F

ollow me into the depths of this melancholic abode‌ Breathe in the mold that germinates in these corners. Open this closet door, and gaze upon the spiders dwelling on their webs. Stride along this muggy carpet. Can you feel its decay? The repulsive aroma is compelling enough to taste. Listen to the creaks concealed between these walls. Visualize how wonderful this place could be, if it weren’t for the vermin that possess it. I am one amongst them. This home is mine. Do you feel repulsed?

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THE STEEL CITY By Patrick Clark

Paving I saw a broadsheet on the street Gritty paper and night-sky ink Made almost as a paving stone Hundreds of boots and shoes Making their way overtop As if it was a part of the walk Laid down, with the rest, years ago The Strip To be in the place Where storefronts and flats pile atop one-another Where streets are of blackest pavement And chimneys of the blackest soot Pole Sicilian Irish Oriental And for one to wander these alleys and thoroughfares One is not the foreigner or stranger to the city For we all are People By and By Though the sleet falls through cold air And the wind blows like God’s own Breath They still press onward in the cold As the soldier on far fronts beyond the winter day The hat seller and barbeque griller The old rosary woman and the florist as well And all of the brick and mortar Stone and glass and smokestacks and girders Hold them lovingly And all belong

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CHRISTINA SULLIVAN

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BOURBON RIVER BLUES By John Kovalchik Sweet bike rides and high fives The river reflecting our past lives Old bodies that we dredge Have got us picking along the river’s edge. The music that we play Is plucked harder than we say Matched by the river’s wails Sounds as smooth as the liquor she inhales. Econo-graphic north Dwarfs her dreams and spills them forth Filth flowing from her gut Clouding the cold blood from her cuts. Alternatives to grief Makes the life spans short and brief Girls moving much too fast With liquid Freuds to fuel her past Lost home and broken heart CEO’s stole her grocery cart Her Malts will mask the pain but Won’t stop her abuse from a functioning brain Hydroplaning one bike No way out and wouldn’t take any other spike When nothin’s all you got It isn’t much like hydroplaning down a shot.

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KYLE FALKENSTERN/ NINA GONZALEZ

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THE TICKET

NINA GONZALEZ

By Kurt Vinnedge

Light is like a river of gold, sticky like molasses, and quick like a cheetah. Light in train rides goes in and out, as buildings and foliage blot out the sun. Sun that makes your eyes shut tight, against the glare on the windows. A dirty, golden sun that beats down on the whole world. The train clacked along, bumping and swaying with the track. Crowded, the seats are full, hands hold onto rails as people stand. The ticket collector walks down the aisle, checking tickets, punching holes in them with a cheap looking puncher. “Let me see your ticket.” “Hang on a second.” said the man, brown hair down to his eyes and baggy clothes, skinny arms and legs, scruffy beard. “C’mon, I don’t have all day.” “Just give me a second. It’s not like this is a life or death matter.” “Just show me the ticket already.” “Sorry, but I seemed to have misplaced it.” “Then next stop you gotta get off the train.” “Hey man, I only have to go three stops up. Do me a favor.” “It’s the rules. You have to get off.” “But it’s only three stops! It’s not like I didn’t pay, I do have a ticket, but I

dropped it.” “Rules are rules. If I let you get away with this, then everyone else is just going to not pay anymore.” “Look, if I give you some money, can you let me off easy this time? Here’s a ten.” “I don’t take bribes. Are you kidding me? You think that ten dollars is going to make me forget that you don’t have a ticket?” “C’mon, please, just let me ride the train.” “No, next stop, you have to get off.” The train’s speaker rang out through the car. “Leeland Station, next stop.” “Once we get to Leland, you’re outta here.” “Man, this is bull. I have a ticket, I just lost it.” “Okay, its time to get out.” The conductor pushed the man stumbling onto the platform out of the train. Staring ruefully at the train, the man stood on the platform. Pulling away, the conductor smirked. Watching from far away, it looked like an orange and black cloud. From the platform, It was the world. Later that week, cleanup crews were still picking up pieces of the train and the bodies. It was the worst train accident in the history of the country.

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THE WAITING By Patrick Clark

The man was all quiet, who came today into the station square And, even though I hadn’t met him before, I watched him intently there Walking from the ticket room. Him sitting in that chair His head hung down to his chin, with hands clasped in prayer And then I, unknown to him at all Realized that he was waiting Not for a train, or passenger, or porter to call But this was different, this would be a change. And his knuckles tightened with him whispering Talking to God far above Repeating, repeating, over and over His hope that he might have his love And it must have been the one who was to come off that train To be with him in the good and bad Through drought and hurricane. The diesel engine droned on, about a minute away He gasped, and in a moment saw. The brass clock in the station strike its hour And then with all its fiery power The engine shot into the station like a shell from a gun And the passenger cars behind rattling one by one They came to a sudden stop and the train took a breath. The doors opened, and in file came the conductors in their caps, And the passengers disembarked onto the platform there With the man’s eyes in a wanting stare. Then from the car ahead, came the object of his waiting And he went to her She to him And when it was all said and done They were one.

CHRISTINA SULLIVAN

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CHRISTINA SULLIVAN

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NEW CITY, NEW LIFE By Nina Gonzalez

C

ircling around at the mention of her name, Mel sprinted over and pressed her ear against the large oak door and listened intently to hear what was being said on the other side. The faint voices were overcome by the tapping of the rain above their heads. The voices soon became fainter as the voices moved on into another room. Mel sighed and plopped herself into the soft leather chair in the corner. She had done most of her best thinking there for the past two weeks. She had not gotten a direct answer to why she was there, but soon began to like her surroundings. The lavish penthouse had all she needed. Each article of furniture was meticulously placed and matched perfectly with everything within 10 feet of it. The master bedroom was exactly 23 giant paces by 45 giant paces. The luxuries of the room collided with the extravagant food brought in every day. There were various pieces of art that she was sure cost a fortune. Then the door opened. “Why, what are you doing?” said a man dressed in a suite. He looked rather sophisticated. The handsome smile, the dashing eyes, the nicely pressed black coat jacket. Mel shrugged, unable to come up with a response to almost falling over on him when the door opened. “Well I don’t, know but would you like some tea?” This time Mel summand up enough courage to squeak out and response. “Yes, please.” “That’s it. Do you fancy peppermint?” She nodded. She gazed at him. Taking in how well he matched the room it was almost as though he belonged there, but there was something peculiar about him. He fit in too perfectly. As though he was a match for

some part of her life. “I don’t mean to be rude or anything, but why are you here?” Mel humbly asked. He looked up and looked her in the eyes. “Well, first of all this is my place. I can see that you have been here for quite some time. I should be asking you why you are here.” “Um, I don’t really know.” “Well that is a splendid answer.” He chirped, “I heard that your name was Melanie or Mel. I don’t know. Someone brought you here to keep you safe from someone. I don’t really care to know the details, but this person is a very, very good friend of mine and anything he usually asks for from me, I give him.” The kettle began to boil and just before its whistle he turned off the heat and poured it into two oddly-shaped black and white cups. He continued, “It’s morning and we should go out. I need to go shopping. Would you like to accompany me?” They were headed down the sidewalks of Manhattan. People bustling everywhere. “Where are we?” Mel asked. “A city with over 8 million people living in it. You can find this city on any map of the world and any international weather report. Its name is mentioned in every newspaper around the world. It’s the fabulous New York City! Since we are surrounded by all these wonderful stores, let’s get you something to wear.” “Really…?” Mel asked. “Of course!” he replied. People coming by in the opposite direction couldn’t help but look up at the man, Mel noticed it. Almost every fifth person would look up and notice him. The stores were a dream. Riding up the escalators from the white marble floors to an array of color made Mel giggle inside. It was great to be

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out, but even more great to try on mountains of clothes. The man helped her pick out things and would patiently wait for her to try them on and pick what she wanted. “That looks more like a piece of art. It could hang in my apartment and blend right in,” he humorously commented about a dress she tried on. She laughed and went on to trying on the other pieces in her dressing room. When the day ended they took a taxi back. “So I do need to ask you, but what is your name?” Mel asked. “Why, its George.” He responded. “That’s a nice name. Mel is what most people call me, but what you mentioned earlier is correct. It’s short for Melanie.” “That is also a rather nice name.” They returned and ordered Chinese food. As they ate and laughed about the day, Mel wanted to find out more about why she was here. She figured it would be best to ask during the lighthearted tone of the day. “I hope you don’t mind me asking but you mentioned that a friend of yours sent me here. Why?” “Hmmm. Well, you were, how do I put it, a mail-order bride, Meaning you fit certain criteria and someone wanted to marry you. Someone in Italy.” “You’re not joking, are you?” She smiled as she questioned his response. He wiped his chin with a napkin.

“Nope.” “And you are here to help me?” “Yes, but you will be leaving soon. I am leaving tomorrow morning. I have business conferences to attend to in Dallas. So we have arranged for you to attend a boarding school here in the city. I am seldom here but I will leave you my number if you need anything. I will drop you off tomorrow morning.” “Wow, a boarding school. Why was I, if it is appropriate to put it, ‘saved’ from this?” “By chance. I knew your parents long ago. I was very good friends with them, before you were born. They died when you were only one. I wouldn’t be anywhere without your father. I owe him everything. So when one of my friends heard about what was going to happen to you, he made arrangements to bring you here. I apologize that you were here so long with no idea about what was going on.” “My parents? You knew them? Why didn’t you tell me this sooner?” “Well I wanted you to have a good time first, because I didn’t know how you would feel after I told you.” “Oh.” George got up and put his plate into the large industrial stainless steel sink. “It’s getting late, and you’ll need to be rested for your first day of school. Shall I even call it your new life?”

CHRISTINA SULLIVAN

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CHRISTINA SULLIVAN

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TICKING AWAY

I

’m everything and nothing at the same time. I’m an endless stream - the beginning and the end. I’m the life and the death of all. I know the past, present, and future, I know all that is to come from my second of life. I see all, although I have no eyes. I’m a tick on the clock of eternity. My life is bread and disposed as my brother’s life goes on through eternity. I see the living I see the dead; I see the pain that many dread. I see the lies of the youth; I see the lies of the insecure; I see the world ties that affect us all. I’m one second in time. I’m an essence of little mind. People question me with illiterate literature, but I won’t give up my secrets. So you can lie without insecurity. I won’t let you see the secrets of humanity but I’ll let you live as you are; the apes of time with an unavoidable downfall. I’ll watch you think of me as you look at the clock. I’ll watch as you think about me as a flux that you wish you can change, but you’ll never go back. But you’ll always react. I see it in some of your eyes that you wish me to die, that I would cease to exist, that time would end and life would fail, while others bend down to their knees and pray to my existence. I am everything: I am all, I am nothing, and I know all. I am the dark in space. I am gravity. I am the orbit. I keep you in the moment. I am all existence I am

NINA GONZALEZ By Jessica Stewart

second’s end. I live a never-ending life in a moment of time. I’ve seen murder. I’ve seen crime. I’ve seen angels and criminals. I’ve seen king and thieves who have little belief. I know what’s in your mind. I know what’s to come, even though I’m just a moment in time. I see you scatter around like ants in the grass; I see your mindless obedience to the phantom authorities. I see some wish for milk and only get the foul. I see some wish for copper and get gold. I see the young wish to be old. I see the old wish to be young-all this in a single moment of time. I’m the tick of a clock, the beat of a heart. I see the love and hate and those with disgrace. You have no control. You’re ruled by my flow. You may think some may break free, but I’ll never let you know the true reality. You’re mindless and dumb and intelligent and numb. You move through the world looking for God. You move through the world, worshiping a son of something you do not know. Worship me, for I’m the only one here that you know. I won’t let you know if there’s heaven or hell. I will not let my secrets spill. You can sit for ever and wait but I will not open my gates, at least for my unknowledgeable sons who wish to move as predictable as the moon.

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I see you discriminate against what you’ve been given, I see you walk around without forgiveness. I see the burdened and the gifted few. I know those who seek the truth, but only fall short to a shallow grave with nothing in hand and nothing to give. I see who’s made it with the look in their eyes. I see those who are still socially tied. I know nirvana, I know those strangled in thought. I know your minds working with little ease. I see you all at once and you’re not too different to me. You’re ants in a line - humanity on an assembly line. Only a few are disguised with human eyes. I see your breeding as you make a tree. I see severed roots and fallen bark. I see the branches that do get strong. I know who you are. I really do. I know what you are. I know that many of you do not forgive or forget, but yet follow with your heart those who preach about the only things that you can’t accept. I know faith and its downfall, and I will always see everything. I truly understand you but few of you truly understand me. I have no real questions for you that don’t have the answer for. I am truly envious of you though, because although your lives are petty and your existence can sometimes be putrid, at least you have something, for all I am and all I have is time. I have no true existence. I have no mind or soul and I am jealous of you for having it all and having to not know the secrets of the world. My never ceasing, ultimate knowledge is worth nothing when I have nothing, for I am nothing and yet I am everything to you. You have your virtues and life and little disguis-

es you put on through the days, but I only have one face. I only know truth I’m not equipped to feel. While I know it all, I experience nothing. While I see everything in my eyes, I feel nothing. While you swarm in my essence, I have no skin to feel the tingling. I am ultimately empty until the end of time till the end of myself, and like a misanthropic man who’s surrounded by people, I also wish for the end of days. I feel as though I am desolate soul in a vast emptiness, a body embalmed and evacuated of any surrealism at all. While humanity lives in me, I have no feeling for you. I only see you move through your days. I wish not for apathy from you, but for you not to take me for granted in the times you do, and to not look too far into depths of legitimacy of human emotions. For when you seek too much Truth, just like the curious cat, you will die a little inside, much like many have. Always remember that when you seek for truth you will find truth, but never seek the knowledge of something that will ultimately extinguish your flames of desire, for you will be left in an everlasting pause of life and stripped of your emotion with no uncertainty, thrill of life, or will to survive. Existence is my only life. I have no other reason for being, but I am humanity’s only support. I’m scentless to your world and blind in your eyes. I can’t be perfectly perceived, as your little minds can’t handle me. I know your fathers and mothers, and the things they’ve instilled. I saw your birth and girth and I know your voice. I’m your friend and enemy and subdue easily to blame. I live alone with only a garden to show. I am Time.

ANONYMOUS

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OTHER WORLD

T

he sound of the bell to end 2nd period faithfully rang once again at 10:15 as it does every morning. Signaling the end of another session of immense note taking and attempts to look interested during the 5th lecture on Francisco Pizaro’s conquest of the Incan empire, the bell’s three notes came over the intercom like a godsend. I quickly gathered my spiral bound note books, hopped out of my seat, and began to embark on my daily ritual of navigating through the densely populated crowds of my fellow obnoxious classmates. After a seven and a half minute journey of penguin shuffling across a hallway about 200 hundred meters long, which would’ve taken a mere 60 seconds provided the walkways were clear, I finally arrived at W205. Third period is Mr. Andrews Creative Writing class. Filled with stuffed animals and crooked motivational posters along with various pictures covering the plastered homemade walls of the room, it has quite the adequate atmosphere for creativity. Scattered about it is an affluence of broken machinery, including tape decks, popcorn makers, stereos, computers, and a microwave with a busted plastic cover which

NINA GONZALEZ By John Koval-

looked as if a baseball was thrown into it with intense speed, shattering it. It looked as if it had been broken for many years, but, along with the rest of the hodge-podge of junk that cluttered the space, the microwave was kept despite its imperfections. Peering from my desk at the peculiar black rectangle, I could only see its door with its imprinted snowflake of cracks and the timer that never falters in simply reading zero in its green fluorescent light. After an unusually rough class period, I hurriedly attempted to arrange my belongings and catch up with the rest of the class that surely prepared for their sprint to the door. Realizing that my efforts to catch up with the pack were in vain, I calmed myself and slowly began to re-organize my notebooks correctly. I was the last person to leave the room, a rare event in the life and times of George Harper. Even Mr. Andrews was heading toward the exit. “George?” He said in his slightly nasally, yet eccentrically loud voice. “George,” he repeated. “Are you planning on attending 4th period today?” I took another one of my binders and shoved it into my bag with a heavy sigh. “Heading out in one second sir.”

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The Mountain of papers haphazardly The wind was hot and had the exact after taste spread across my desk showed the contrary. of an over- cooked hot dog. Before me stood a “Well, close the door on your way out,” landscape that was dirty, misshapen, and oddly and with a jangle of his keys he locked the door colored. It was like nothing I had ever seen beand went on his way. fore. I lifted my foot with a slip and fell on the The hope of the getting to any class on squishy yellow floor beneath me. As I struggled time completely vanished. With that sinking in, to get up, the viscosity of ground made it imI decided that I would sulk in my chair, relax possible to make any progress. As even the hold and take my time. My eyes were fixed on the from my body weight was beginning to slip, I circular green lighting of the microwave. Why was sliding down the hill overlooking this new would he still have something like this, I world I had found. Since the view was so magthought? I was drawn to it. Maybe I could exnificent, the ledge that I was viewing it from amine it, possibly making it a little more enjoy- was equally as magnificent. I was falling down able to look at. Possibly the time could be flash- that mountain as fast as the Jamaican bobsleding on that one inch screen, making it at least a ding team. semi-usable appliance once again. For a moment I could manage to pick my I bent over and punched the springhead up so I could dodge the speeding trees loaded door open. It swung, out nearly hitting that resembled corn dogs. Soon enough into my my nose. With it came the gust of a horrid smell descent a chunk of sticky material flew into my that had probably been marinating face, and the next thing I felt was a hard knock within the confined on the head. Since the view was so magnificent space for years. The I awoke with a throbthe ledge that I was viewing it reek of cheeses and bing pain in on the back from was equally as magnificent. a mixture of fried meats of my skull. With eyes swooped into my nosstill shut I reached for trils. Taken aback, I took a deep breath from the knot, it tingled to the touch. Again outside the range of the stinky wind. Lowering as my vision returned I saw another atmosmy head, I decided to venture in for another phere I was unfamiliar with. My feet were hanglook into the unknown regions of the box. Slow- ing off the edge of a soft and very maneuverable ly my neck krinked forward, my line of vision bed in a boiling hot and dimly lit room. suddenly filled with incredibly dark, tough sub“Ah! Good! You’ve awakened,” said a stances that were scattered on every corner of lofty voice from the other corner of the room. the rectangle. But the biggest conglomeration of I quickly turned my head in shock, to see this black material was on the plate dish. Obvi- a giant pizza person standing by my bedside ously the murky gunk was with reading glasses and Mark Twain’s the past munchies for classes of yesteryear, Huckleberry Finn. but knowing that hardly stopped me from “I was beginning to worry about you,” he gagging a bit. said, setting his book down and placing his Suddenly there was a loud pop and a glasses on top of them. couple of jerks were made by the dish in at the The creature wasn’t just a pizza. His bottom of the microwave. The rotation was cheese was droopy and all of the various vegetapicking up speed, and I was hypnotized by the bles strewn across him were sagging. Hair was swirling baked black food on the glass. I found sticking out of various bare spots on his moldy myself being pulled inward, never averting my skin. As he got up from his chair I could see gaze from the spinning disc. A chunk of the him struggle. He awkwardly made his way to dark stuff that was once food flew into my eyes; the door and took hold of the handle to steady I pulled my head out of the box with jarring himself. speed and a knock on the head by the top of the “It’s not every day that I have a prophecy microwave. unfold right in my own hut.” When I finally lowered my arms from My attention was fixated on the giant rubbing the dirt out of my face, the horizon Pizza’s words now, rather than the ache in my changed to a new world of melted yellow moun- brain. Surprisingly I wasn’t paralyzed by fear at tains and molten rivers flowing at rapid speeds. the sight of this monster of sorts and 23


managed to squeeze out an “Excuse me?” “Oh, golly lad,” he said with disgust ,“You need to be educated.” Wobbling over to the book shelf with the same penguin shuffle that I had been experiencing earlier that morning, he took a dusty rectangle from the shelf. He plopped the book onto the foot of the bed, and with that he left the room urgently as if he had something to attend to. I brushed the dust from the torn cover. The title was “The Coming of the Time Keeper.” Perhaps this could have been this old junk food’s bible. I’ve never had much interest in any sort of theology, not even my own. I rose out of straw bed and placed the book neatly back into its vacant spot to collect more dust. It took me a while to regain my strength but finally I had recuperated from my episode at the top of that mountain, and was thinking about how I should venture off to explore this small hut. The room I had been sleeping in didn’t interest me much. It looked much like my own, except for the incredible heat and the dark atmosphere. A cranking noise came from the door. I looked back at the door that the gigantic pizza had walked through, as the bronze knob began to wobble. “Come now, child!” The pizza rapidly swung the door open. It had brushed my face, taking me aback and as a result I lost my footing. Starring up at the confused pizza from the floor I felt the throbbing in my head return once again. “Oh, there you are boy!” He picked me up and yanked me outside of the room that I had become quite familiar with. Now in what seemed to be a kitchen, he was pushing me faster and faster toward the door. I looked up at the small window above it that seemed to be the only provider of light in the entire household. As I got closer to it, the dimensions of the view outside the window came into sight. The landscape outside had looked just the same as on top of the mountain despite a few less trees. We were outside now, the pizza’s hand still on my back pushing me against my will. If it weren’t for the few blows I had taken earlier, I would have tried to fight him

off, but I was in no condition to do fight any kind of battle. I merely submitted to his will. Although the landscape in front of the house was as barren as that of the mountains, once we turned the corner there was a whole town of huts with pizza citizens crowding its sidewalks due to a parade down its streets. The festivities were in full bloom and it appeared like a reflection of a green town Christmas parade in Indiana or some such place. “What is all this?” I said, still without any anger or opposition. The whole situation was very friendly in my thoughts. If it had happened in school or by the hand of another classmate, the nature of the experience would have been entirely different. “Why my lad, it’s for you!” the pizza replied in a much more gleeful tone. The distasteful old manner with which he had spoken before had vanished. Now a mob of much more youthful pizzas came like a freight train toward us, sweeping me up on their shoulders. From the heights of the pizzas’ shoulders I could see almost as many beautiful horizons as from the mountain. Even though I was an unwilling participant in this parade, I did enjoy the views, but I did see a particularly interesting black region of this new earth. It was rigid and hardened. Dark clouds of smoke seemed to radiate from the jagged edges of the hillsides. The entire area was superbly ominous. However, in my dazed state it only stirred my curiosity a tad, so I didn’t dwell on it. No one seemed to notice it, as the parade continued and I was dropped off at the end of the street. After I was let off, the young mob left me as if the encounter had never happened. There I was, staring back at the old saggy pizza that I had spent the night with. “How’d you enjoy that boy?” He asked with an enthusiastic tone. “It was nice, but could you please tell me a little bit about what’s going on?” “Why it’s just a little celebration, a going- off party if you will.” “For what exactly?” I inquired. He put his arm around me much more gently than the time when he rushed me out of his hut. We took another corner around the last house on the street and he

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pointed to those hardened mountains I was drawn to before. “Why would anyone want to go over there?” “Oh well, its all part of the prophecy, my boy. Didn’t you read?” Without waiting for a reply he began to recite the story line by line, as if he practiced it every morning during breakfast. “Y’see we need that time keeper to get rid of the noxious gasses and mind numbing heat that the overlord rains onto our city.” “And who is the dead man who’s going to fight him off?” I asked him almost with a snicker. Slowly he pulled his hand off of my shoulder and without a word he pushed his pointy finger to my chest. I would be named their king, celebrated with a wonderful reception upon my return from the darkness and the vicious battle with its overlord. The old pizza taught me much about himself, my new home and the books he wasted his life on. We became the best of friends until the day he died. I spent many a year there in the bed where we first slept. I kept it up after he

left, continuing to read the shelves of literature he had accumulated over the years. One cold morning I decided to venture up the mountain where I had first entered this land. I took a deep breath of the light and now dreadfully cold air. Hours were spent on top of that mountain reflecting and relaxing. Yet my contemplation was cut short by a three abrupt and short beeps. I looked around and saw the misshapen posters and broken machinery from the classrooms of my youth. The same three beeps rang again and I turned around to see the microwave reading the correct time in its neon lighting. “George!” Startled and somewhat taken aback by the disrespect of a person referring to me by my first name, I turned around to see Mr. Andrews. “What are you doing son?” he said with a confused look in his eyes that I could only see because of his tendency to wear his glasses incredibly low. “Oh, I’m sorry sir,” I said, “I was just trying to get to 4th.”

ANONYMOUS

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SITTING IN ON LIFE

JENNY PAN

By Kurt Vinnedge

I

f you saw the world from my point of view, you’d be shattered. Civilization as you know it would be seen as a catastrophe, a hate monger and a selfish race. I especially hate the fat ones. The rattle is constant, the day is always dark except for the artificial light, and never do I ever quit my job. Tirelessly I will sit here, supported by four metal beams, supported by the shaking floor. And I support a person, my torn, ragged, smelly, sticky, and faded self. Cushion. It’s a nice sounding word, but its not nice to be one. Even more so when you’re a cushion on a subway train. Every day, miles and miles of track go by, hundreds of people suffocate and crush me, and my only reward is once a week being sprayed with a corrosive substance that burns the dust and dirt off me. I am beaten, abused, mistreated, and left to fend for myself. The only favor is when a human sits on one of my comrades instead of me. But when rush hour comes, I find myself covered and squashed for three hours straight. As people stand up, letting their weight off me, I start to rise slowly, filling my holes back up with air. But person after person comes and sits, stands up, only to be followed by someone else. My life is a series of going back and forth between two points. A and B, A and B, A and

B, and back again. Never have I been diverted from one long path, straight one way, straight the next. Never a change in scenery, only in my tormenters. People stick things in me absentmindedly, throw their heavy weight onto me. Throw things at me. Smother me with a jacket. Rest their feet on me like I am some sort of sick, worthless servant. I have been thrown up on. I have been farted on at least eight million times. People have even had sex on me. And no matter how hard I plead with the metal bars underneath me, they never once skimp on their duties. Force below me pushing up, force above me pushing down. Stuck between an ass and a hard place. I fail to understand my meaning. I fail to see what I accomplish. The only purpose I serve is to provide comfort to others. My life is a sham, cleaned by a shammy every Tuesday. No one knows the pain I have been put through. No one knows how long I have grudgingly done my duty, my service to the people that I despise with every fiber of my being. I sit and am sat on. Never a break, never an end. No matter how hard I try, I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. And as I tell you this, a three hundred pound man who smells like onions and garbage stands up, and spills ketchup on me.

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ANONYMOUS

IN THE SKY By AlannahPaule

A lthough it is unclear to me why nothing goes as planned, B ecause of little birds that sing, I seem to understand. C orrect me if I’m wrong with this, but birds are truly free. D oting not on what is wrong, but what fills them with glee. E ven if the world crashed down and trees were out of sight, F or all the birds in my hometown, there still would be delight. G iving to the world their songs may seem a bit unique, H earing absence of them though, the world would just be meek. I f birds can live in harmony, and sing in spite of stress, J ust think of what we all could do, and if I may profess, K now the different tunes of life, and if you ever fail, L ook to the birds in the summer sky, and listen to their tale.

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DEVON DYE

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THE ROSE By K. Needham

I

can feel the heat on my petals, the first strong heat. So I stretch myself out to grasp the heat before it goes away again. Oh, the bliss of a sweet heat after a shower. I think I’ll try to dry myself and warm my fragile stem. Against my stony earth, I can sleep away my tumultuous life and dream, while my stone is warmed by the sun. Here I lie with my family of thorny relatives. I being the youngest have not earned my thorns. One day, one day soon. I am of a family line of lovers’ roses. One day, when my thorns come in, I too will be given to a lover. From a man in love to a woman who wants all she deserves and nothing more. I taste my sweet life line. And I drink deeply. And it is good. I can feel myself grow as though it is all I have to do. And it is all I have to do. A man came by the garden, and he felt my petals. “Like her breath on my neck.” He walked away, but promised he’d be back. I wasted my time sunbathing and drinking from the sweetness in the earth. I begin to feel the beginnings of thorns along my hardening stem. “One day my little bud, you will be the most loved of them all. One day, you will be held in the greatest esteem of every woman.” He whispered this to me as he showered me with drink. He did this every day. He informed me of how I would be treasured above near all else. Few could touch the emotion that would be brought by me and my kin. I spend my days drinking and listening to the man, bathing in the warmth of the sun. I wished he man would come more often. He nurtured me as none other could. He spent his days talking to me, telling me of the woman he loved. He never called her by her name. Just “My Dear.” He told me of how one day he would give me to this woman. But not yet. This woman that he so loved was not his to love. He had no right to love her, or so he told me. He talked of love so often that I believed that anyone could love

anyone for any reason, or no reason at all. That is the way the man made it seem. He told me that in the hearts of the world, I represented the love of a man to a woman. I felt honored but unable to fulfill the job he would like to task me with. He came back today. I had just begun to feel my thorns grow at their crawling pace along my fragile stem. He said that today would be my day. I knew that it would be soon. I dreaded it. “But it's an honor, my bud. You should feel proud to do my bidding. With you alone she will know how I feel about you. With you alone she will know. She must. My dear.” At this statement, he walked away from me again. He came back, shortly thereafter with a knife. He took this knife to my stem. My weak body. He took his knife and sawed it through my tender life. He ended my life for his love. And he wished me happiness the whole time of my demise. He held me gently in his hands, cradling my stem. His thumb caressed my satin petals. He stroked me with his callused and beaten hands. He whispered to me. He told me how I would shine, how I would make his life whole again with this simple gesture. He put me in a simple vase of synthetic caring. It seems that he uses me as much as he does is because he can't show how much he truly does care for her. She doesn't know. That's why I am here. He is using me as his life line to a final chance for love with this girl. He took me outside, back to my longlost home of fresh air, not tainted by the cigarette smoke embedded in his furniture. I breathed deeply, longing for the air that I couldn't feel inside to wrap around me. It had the sweet crispness of a twilight summer evening. But soon I was out of my sweet air and back into the smoke-filled hindrances to my life. The entire time I was inside of anything, I could feel my life draining away from me, not just seeping out, but flowing 29


out. Like a torrent of lifelessness. I hated this sheath he had shrouded me in. Cellophane. Crinkly and hardening. And so fake. I felt contained in a way that wasn't natural to me. He was excited as we moved down the black and deadened lawn spanning in front of us. We went so fast, I could not take in all the twists and turns, but I knew they were there from the sloshing of the water droplets caught in our plastic prison. He took the turns faster than he should have. In his excitement he was trying to get to her house as fast as he could. What should have been a very long trip turned out to be a short one, by far. We skidded to a stop in front of a house, barren of any garden, unlike at home where the lawn was a garden. He jumped up the three steps with me held tightly in his grip. I was shaken and jostled out of my cellophane keep. I was left on the ground as his grip was too tight to realize that I had slipped. His focus was on seeing her fair face again. Not on the plans he had for her. For his sanity. She opened the door with her eyes redder than my petals. Her green eyes smiled when she saw him, but her face was saddened by the events of the day. He smiled when he saw her eyes. He couldn't help it. I knew this, as he had told me that it was hard to not smile when she was near him. “Petie, what are you doing here?” She was puzzled at his plastic covered hand, and his impromptu call. He held his empty hand up to her, expecting to see me standing tall for him. When he saw his empty hand he spun around quick as a whip and stumbled off of the stoop, tripping over my insignificant stem. He landed flat out on his back in her gravel drive, the horrid plastic escaping when his hands flew up. “Oh!” she cried quietly, trying to stifle a laugh, but not quite managing when a slight sound of amusement escaped her cherry lips. She ran down the steps, graceful as a dancer, half floating down to him. She helped him stand up. “Rach, I wanted to give you, “ He paused, reached around her, and picked me up off the steps. “I wanted to give you this.”

He handed me to her. I looked at her full in the face. She was pretty, her lips full and very kissable, while his were usually a thin line of thought. Her hair was light, golden and long, where his was short and tousled and dark. Her eyes had a sad smile behind them. Her eyes made me realize why he couldn't stop smiling around her. It made me smile too, if I could. But her face wasn't smiling. She looked hurt and embarrassed. He had a hopeful smile on his face, waiting and anxious all at once. “Peter, I told you; it's too soon. I can't. You know that.” Her tears, yet to show, rang through every word. Pain, wishfulness, and sorrow. She hated that she did this to him. “Rach, I thought you said that you needed time, and then we'd be able? I thought that you loved me?” His voice was more than clogged. It sounded like he couldn't breathe, like he was going to choke if she didn't save him. If she didn't take his tears away, he wouldn't be able to live without her. He stepped away from her, his hand still extended holding me out to her. He backed towards his car. He couldn't believe what she had said. It couldn't be possible. His hand finally fell, and he stepped into the car. He still had me clenched in his fist as he backed out of the gravel parking area. He sped up as fast as he could, gripping the circular thing until I could feel myself cry, it hurt so much. I felt it seeping into his grip. He felt it. He looked at me through his tear- filled stare. Then his head snapped forward, crashing into me and his own hand. The rest of the car was approaching quickly behind him. It crumpled in on itself. His head slapped back into the seat and flipped back towards me. His hand still held me immobile. I watched the whole scene from my front row seat. Finally his hand snapped towards his body, letting me fall. As I fell I could see the front of the red car against a tree. I fell between his feet. Resting there, I could see a liquid darker than my petals dripping from his temple. His lips formed these words as I was covered in the mass. “Not your fault my dear.”

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PHOTOSENSITIVE By Aaron Adkins

Don’t flash No sound Without remorse Homely and divided One hundred reasons to Not as numerous against Hold their breath Hold your own Watching a theatric You’re the actor Spectators unamused You’re amusing No one’s laughing Smile in the dark Fingers on lips of cold love No river to be sold Still frame Only remembrance for guilt No guilt Unrevolted No remembrance Suspected of none No problem CHRISTINA SULLIVAN

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colophon

*

is in its third year of publication and is published during the summer. The magazine was produced on IBM-compatible computers using Microsoft Publisher and Adobe Photoshop CS2 and was published in Stafford High School using 20pound paper on an OKI Executive Series 1220N printer. The fonts used for titles of each piece are Gill Sans MT and family fonts. The body font for each story is Georgia.

purpose

is the literary arts magazine for Stafford Senior High School in Falmouth, Virginia. The purpose of the magazine is to showcase students' thoughts and expressions through both writing and art. As with any publication, the views expressed are not necessarily the views of Stafford High School, the editorial staff, advisor, or Stafford County Public Schools. All students at Stafford High School who not enrolled in a Creative Writing class are invited to submit their work for consideration in the magazine.

submissions

Submissions should be sent to either to shsmagazine@gmail.com or dropped by room W205. All work completed in Stafford High School's fourth period Creative Writing Class is submitted and considered for the magazine. Mirage embraces every opportunity to post the work of any student's submission regardless of format or length.

rights All writing and art submission are considered by an editorial staff which chose submissions based on quality, appropriateness, relevance and overall impact. The editorial staff reserves the right to edit material for both clarity and correctness. Original artists retain copyright of their submitted work.

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FRANCISCO GONZALEZ

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STAFFORD HIGH SCHOOL

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