Metamorphosis - Ying Qiao Wang '18

When YingQiao woke up one morning from unsettling dreams, he found himself changed in his bed into a monstrous earthworm. He found that it’s hard for him to stretch his body as usual and he was closely lying on the mattress. “What’s wrong with me?” He asked in his mind. “Why can I stretch myself?” “Why am I standing on the mattress?” He felt so weird to everything just happened.

    The time was already 8:00AM as he was still wondering what happened. He hears that sound from the main school building, and it feels so annoying and noisy. “Why do I feel so annoyed when I hear this sound? I can not be like this.” But he could not continue to think anymore. He needs to go to class. He crept down from the bed, and tries to carry his backpack, but he found that he was too small and not even reach the 1/10 height of this backpack. “Oh no….. Are you serious… There’s no way I can carry this giant object…. But I still needs to try because the world literature class is going to start…” So he crept up to the top, and tries to drag that backpack in order to let it move, but he failed and he fell down from the backpack. “Ohhhh… So hurt!” He thought, “ I must carry this to the class!” So tries again, with same consequence--- He fell down. This time, he actually hurt himself, but there’s no symptom showing that he’s hurt. He gave up this thought and go to the classes with a hurt body. He climbed off the room through the window. He found himself in a bigger and moist world. It rained last night. Everything in this world, plants, nature, becomes aattraction that he never felt before. “Wow, It’s so beautiful! I hope I can stay in here instead of going to the classes.” He thought, but then he changed his thought “ What’s wrong with me? Why those normal trees, dirts, becomes so attractive to me? Why do I want to burrow into the ground? It’s just the same normal environment that I will see everyday.” But his body is honest. He actually burrowed into the ground before he realized he shouldn’t do this. He climbed out from the ground, and continuing on his way to class.

           When he reached the school building, the stairs in front of him become a big problem for him. He needs to creep up each steps, not like he used to which is just step up quickly. Now he becomes so slow that he can not even wait. “Come on…. Just move up.. I need to go to class before 8:30am or I will get a tardy unexcused….” But his body won’t listen to him. He is still creeping. He accepted this, and calm down, just wait for himself to creep up. Finally he reached the classroom and he crept up to the table where he sits. A classmate screamed : “See! There’s an earthworm on the table! Aaaaaahhhhh….” Ms. Waterman then noticed me, and she seems scared by me as well. But she deal it with a complete different way, she pulled off a tissue, then he seems realized what she is going, and tries to say: “stop Ms. Waterman, I’m one of your student...” But she seems not understand and covered that tissue over his body………..    

The Fallen Angel - Biaoyang Chen '17

We can no longer work back!” Eileen Chang wrote in her famous book, Love In a Fallen City. This is used to describe a relationship between two lovers who haven’t met each other for ten years, just like the relation between Gatsby and Daisy in the novel The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald. The fate remains the same, but their position has changed forever. Five years’ separation creates a chasm in their relationship. While Gatsby was working to get his illegal money, Daisy married a wealthy man, Tom Buchanan. Daisy has, frankly speaking, become a member of the rotten crowd. Although her love and tenderness toward Gatsby is real, she had become one of those careless people, and she would never risk her upper-class social status or money for Gatsby’s love.

    Daisy instantly fell in love with Gatsby when she first meets him. However, her love was based on the wealth and nobility that Gatsby pretended to possess. Gatsby was only a poor soldier. To get Daisy’s heart, he went to the war for fame and exploit. When she realized that Gatsby won’t be back soon, “She wanted her life shaped now, immediately— and the decision must be made by some force—of love, of money, of unquestionable practicality—that was close at  hand” (Fitzgerald 161). After Gatsby’s departure, Daisy seems to lose patience. She needed something more realistic than Gatsby’s love, and she is tired of endlessly waiting. She starts dating more and more people, and Tom Buchanan was one of them. Daisy was definitely not a innocent girl who wonders about fairy tale dream, but a aristocratic lady with a desire of money and fame. The force of money,  a string of pearls valued at three hundred and fifty thousand dollars, and Tom’s “love” crushes her. Eventually, she married Tom Buchanan, the man of wealth and nobility. When Gatsby returned, he realizes that, “Her voice is full of money.” (Fitzgerald 128). However, she never expected the return of Gatsby.

Five years past in an instant, and when Gatsby meets Daisy again, she is no longer the innocent girl that he kissed five years ago. Gatsby devotes all his money and tries to impress Daisy. However, the past has changed her forever, and Gatsby is no longer the only one she loved: “‘Oh, you want too much!’ Daisy cried to Gatsby. ‘I love you now – isn't that enough? I can't help what's past.’ She began to sob helplessly. ‘I did love him once – but I loved you too.’” (Fitzgerald 142). Daisy has become different, and Gatsby can’t erase the past. When Gatsby wants a proof of Daisy’s love, Daisy refused. She thinks that Gatsby want to much, and she has no hope in having a new life with Gatsby. Daisy, in this moment, feels just like Tom Buchanan, and Gatsby is just her version of “Myrtle”. Just like the way Tom loves Myrtle, Daisy loves Gatsby, but she will never risk her present life to run away with him. She is no longer the naive girl from five years ago.

Daisy loses control after seeing arguments between two men that she has loved. She just wants to drive away. She drives so fast, and she runs over Myrtle Wilson, Tom’s mistress, with Gatsby’s car. After the accident, she never tells the truth that she is the one who is driving. She just leaves the town with Tom, and she leaves Gatsby forever. It seems to Nick that “they were careless people, Tom and Daisy- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.” (Fitzgerald 191). Instead of admitting to her crime, Daisy hides the truth. She goes to tom and they plot against Gatsby. These careless people just leave the mess to Gatsby and then disappear. Responsibility is never their cup of tea. Daisy left Gatsby waiting lonely for her call, but poor Gatsby would never realize the truth that Daisy is gone forever.

Time is the worst poison, and it changes people. Daisy, who used to be an innocent pure angel, is corrupted by the power of money. On the other hand, Gatsby, who worships her so much only receive her cold-blooded response after a five year separation. Daisy has become a part of the rotten crowd and is no different from Tom Buchanan. Money and wealth are her shield, and Cupid’s arrow can no longer move her. The lovely angel has fallen in time.

Kiss of Hope - Sophie List '19

The sun kisses my thighs and

the wind braids my hair.

Our eyes and our lips glisten from

the kiss of hope that still lingers.

A young boy giggles to himself as he leans upon a grave.

And then I am

harshly thrown back into the reality.

Where the grass is no longer green

but it decays from the secrets that it keeps.

And where we stare forward blankly

because our minds no longer work correctly

And where

the sun can't kiss and the wind can't braid.

Post Game Power - Ben English '16

This picture was taken after I started my first varsity football game at quarterback.  I am posing with Marquise Scott.  He is a postgraduate running back and one of the leaders of the football team.  He inspires me to work hard and to be a leader on and off the field.  We took this picture after our overtime win against Tilton on September 19, 2015.  The game was one that I hope I will remember for the rest of my life.

We went back and forth with Tilton the whole game. As a team, we overcame adversity and worked hard the whole time. As the quarterback, I had to mature quickly, and become a leader. I led the team in the huddle and on the sideline. I worked to keep the team motivated and focused on the game.  On the field, our team had a lot of success. The line blocked well, I threw the ball with accuracy, and the running backs hit their holes with force. It was late in the fourth quarter and we were up 6 points. Coach called a pass play and I threw an interception.  I had shake it off and move on. I turned my focus on supporting the defense.  Tilton scored a touchdown to tie the game with two minutes left. Our defense came up clutch and stopped their extra point try to sustain a tie game. We got the ball back and drove down the field. We tried to kick a game winning field goal with 5 seconds left, but we did not set up correctly, and got hit with a costly penalty.  

After talking it over, the coaches decided to throw the ball for the win.  I took the snap, looked right and saw Ryan Boucher open and running down the sideline near the end zone. I wound up, and let the ball go. As time ran out, the ball soared in the air.  Ryan caught it!  I bolted towards Ryan with my arms up to celebrate our win.  I could not believe that the play worked.  I thought about what it would be like telling this story the following week.  

Then the referee broke my heart. He said that Ryan was brought down just before the goal line, and the game was going to overtime. It was a challenge to reset my mind.  I did my best to stay upbeat and keep the team going for overtime. We started overtime on offense. On the second play, Marquise ran the ball into the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown. Now it was time for our defense to step up. At this point, I was extremely pumped up. I was yelling from the sideline, and rooting for our defense. We stopped them on fourth down and won the game!

My body was filled with joy as I stormed the field with the rest of my team to celebrate. It was one of the best feelings I have ever had.  Every time I look at that picture, it reminds me of the fight we had in us, and how amazing it felt after a thrilling overtime win.

The Hermit Crab - Eliza Quinones '19

The hard sand scraping upon my naked back,

Burns like a complete blue flame.

Happiness crashes onto the shore,

Only feet away.

 

But I must not seek this life,

Until I have found a home.

 

I have tried many times before,

To find with whom I belong.

Some tell me to take my happiness,

To live a good life in the waves.

But what good would it be,

Without something to share with?

 

The voyage may be long,

Painful, even killing,

But once I find the one I love,

I can step into the water.

Fall - Peyton Spurr '19

the wind blows

rustling leaves

cooling skin

blowing hair

 

cars drive past

struggling to get up the hill

accelerating down the hill

exposing fumes into the air around us

 

looking ahead of me I see trees

and trees

and houses

so far in the distance I can put my finger up

close one eye

and in comparison the house is smaller

 

I see trees changing color

people skittering about to class

butterflies and birds

clouds dissipating into thin air

 

bugs swarm my head as I bat them away

bees curiously land and fly away

ants prancing about

 

the sun warms my skin

the air so crisp, cools my back

fall

Peace at Borobudur - Nate Bennett '16

The alarm rang at 5:30. My father and I climbed out of our small small beds. We took just a minute to change and then we were out of the door that almost seemed to be constructed out of balsa wood. The sky was dark and the morning air thick. Our guide met us outside of our room and provided us each a flash light. In the distance you could hear the chilling yet unmistakable chants of buddhist monks. The night closed around us as we made our way through a series of paths. With gravel under our feet and our surroundings almost completely indistinguishable our guide said we had reached Borobudur. Using the small amount of light provided by our flashlights we started to climb up ancient stone steps. Every surface the light shone on were intricate carvings that depicted moments in the Buddha's life. The steps were steep and in great numbers. At each landing the option of taking a left or right and walking around the temple presented itself. The stone carvings wrapped around every aspect of the structure.

    Once we were at the top we sat on the edge of a massive stone sculpture of a bell. The sun lay below a distant mountain. Its silhouette was visible due to the pink and orange glow starting to protrude from behind. As the sun rose the steep peak of the mountain became more visible. More of the temples features were revealed. Stone bells that concealed sculptures of the buda lined each level of the temple. I leaned against the largest bell that was perched at the top of the temple. From there I was above the surrounding jungle. A thick fog lay below with the trees. The sun’s orange light began to peek out from behind the mountain. The impeccable beauty of the landscape became more clear. When the sun fully revealed itself from behind the steep mountain, chills rolled over my skin. The land’s awe inspiring beauty hit me. The man made structure integrated perfectly with the wild jungle. With the seemingly constant chants in the background I felt a profound peace.

Nature's Beauty - Jose Pablo Bello '19

When the grass is dry
leaves fall and the wind blows.

When it goes dry and cold.
It feels as if you were bald

Laying in the soft grass, a man
maybe as close to its beginning state
as to get a taste of nature's bait.
Taking the taste of natures beauty
Can lead you to forget about your duty
Make you live this life in which you
Barely survive, forget and regret,
that cold sweat you get when you
Remember the the warmth of the ember,

The taste of loneliness my chase
am man to insanity and forget about humanity.

 

Vaults and Lockets - Iulia Lupul '17

Eighteen...Seventeen...Sixteen...Her mind wanders. She goes back to that same old room. She’s all grown up, but that’s still where her mind brings her when her conscience turns off, when all the walls start falling down. Everything is so colorful in there and still intact, no matter what. She stares through time into that room. That musty room. The clowns on the walls, the toys on the shelves. She’s sitting on the floor playing with legos and little toy cars. She doesn’t care. She doesn’t know nor understand yet. She’s happy. She chose the colors for the rooms herself. She wanted it yellow and green and red and blue. She wanted it pretty. That little girl, sitting on the floor is what she has to protect. At any cost. That little baby that doesn’t know what people do to each other, and hopefully never will. She won’t know about the closets. About the skeletons hiding in them. She’ll never know that some are tiny and harmless, and people carry them in nothing more than lockets, and that some are big and scary. She’ll never know that some shrink over time and dissolve into thin air, and others devour radioactive feelings and start growing extra heads and limbs and claws and their bones rattle so loudly that they overwhelm everything else hiding inside, and the closets turn into vaults. She’ll never know that she can be so sad that she can’t breathe, or that sometimes frustration can bring her to the edge and over. She’ll never know anything. I won’t let her.

Fifteen...Fourteen...Thirteen...She’s seven now. She’s just started first grade. She’s smart and she’s friendly and she’s in love. She doesn’t know it yet, because no one ever explained it to her. No one ever told her how it just happens, how it hits out of nowhere and it’s completely unpredictable. She didn’t know that that’s what it was. The only thing she knew is she found a friend, one that was just so perfect and so much like her, and so out of this world. She was in love and it was amazing.

But it didn’t last long.

Sitting on the floor of her room she was crying. She was so confused and so mad. She would never tell anyone about this. Ever. No one could now. She was afraid. She knew no one understood. But she loved her so much and it was so painful to realize that she could never tell her, or anyone else for that matter. She cried. No one was home, so she just cried. That’s when she knew, for sure, that she was different. She was young. She couldn’t put a word on it, but she knew it, so she never said it aloud. She would keep being strong and powering through everything, until it got too much, until the dam broke and all alone, at night, the tears would come streaming out. But no one ever noticed, so she was fine.

Twelve...Eleven...Ten…She's back in the room. She's sixteen now. She walks in, lays on the floor and looks around. The walls got thicker since she was here last time. And the door, it got bigger too, and it's made of shiny lead now. She doesn't cry. She never cries anymore. She's not happy, but she never cries. She's strong now. She holds it in and, with time, it stops burning her eyes, and the knot in her throat goes away. She's confused. So much has happened in her life, and all she ever wants to go back to is her room, before it became an epicenter of destruction. Before she couldn't make herself walk inside of that house no matter what for. Before she only got to see her brother a couple of times a year. Before she barricaded herself from the world. Before she had to think about feelings and about life.

She's in highschool now, and all everyone is thinking about is the future. Go to University, get a job, get married, have kids and that's it. That's what the plan is. But not for her. That's not what she wants. She doesn't care. She wants to be free, and not be bound to plans and timetables. She wants to see the world, and fall in love, and most of all, she wants to understand herself. She wants to know, because she never did, because people always told her everything. She wants to escape.
But she can't.


She can't disappoint, she never could. That's why she always acted tough, never showed weakness, not in public anyways. She has to decide. She has to make one choice, a single choice that is going to change so much. Does she stand up and say something, or does she live a life she never wanted?

Nine..Eight..Seven..Same walls, same bed. She’s laying down reading, in the middle of the carpet. It’s still March, but she can’t wait for May to come around. She’s going to be 10. She’s so excited that she keeps rereading the same page over and over. She’s planning the party, and her outfit, and the guest list. So happy. She hasn’t cried in a while. She has tried to not think about it, or at least ignore it when it pops into her mind. Her friend was still there. But it wasn’t the same. She made herself push her away. Not far. But just enough so she doesn’t blow up too when the pressure builds up too much. She keeps thinking about the gifts she’s going to get and the food they are all going to eat and the games they are going to play.

Her mom walks in. She’s crying. She sits down next to her and tells her they have to talk. She’s confused, she’s never seen her that upset. Her mom pauses for a while. She takes a deep breath and in a very shaky voice says: “Honey, um… You know how sometimes things break, they crack and you just can’t fix them.” She paused again. “Well sometimes that happens to relationships too.” She never heard what she said afterwards. She already knew. She burst out crying. She didn’t know why, but she just did. It seemed to be the appropriate reaction. She hugged her mom and just sat there, in the middle of her room’s floor. Her mom kept saying things, but none of them registered. Finally, her mom kissed her goodnight and told her it would be better if she just went to bed and stopped crying. She did. She went to bed and never talked about it again.

Six..Five..Four..She’s thirteen. They moved. Her mom and she have a nice apartment now. They both like it. But she never got to decorate her room. She was stuck in her old one, going back to it whenever she wanted to. It seemed so real when she imagined it. The colours were the same, and the smell was just as she remembered it, and the light made the same designs on her carpet as it used to. Nothing was changed there, but the door - it was bigger and heavier. She has to stop dreaming so much. She’s a big girl now, or at least that’s what they all tell her. She’s smart and she’s funny and she’s tough. And they all tell her she’s pretty because boys notice her. She has so many friends and she’s still friends with her. Everyone starts talking about funny and confusing things. Feelings. Emotions. Whatever. Everyone is falling in love, and she is, too . A lot of them are faking it, and she is, too. Or at least she thinks she is. It’s so confusing. How can she be in love with two people at the same time? So she just tells everyone that she likes him, but no one will ever know about her. Because that’s wrong, or at least that’s what they tell her.

                                                      
But he's nice and she likes him just as much as she likes her, so it's just as real, and even better because she doesn't have to hide it. She's good. She's not happy and not sad. She's floating somewhere in between, and somehow that gray area seems so much better, so much more reliable. She's tough, more so than she has been before. It's harder for people to hurt her now, so she cares less about their opinions. She's one of the cool kids. But they still somehow manage to get to her.


ThreeTwoOne. Only three weeks until she turns eighteen. She hasn't been home in almost a year, but it doesn't phase her. She’s learned to make homes out of people, not places, to sneak into people's lockets or vaults and decorate their insides. She thinks she’s so much better now that she’s away, but she still lies to herself on a daily basis. She never expected any grand life lessons out of this year, and she never got the them for that matter. She realized however, how life goes in circles, how she never thought she would revert to her seven year old self, sitting on the floor of her colorful old room, falling in love with someone she knew she should not, but she did anyways. She looks through the windows of her perfect little vault into the haze and mess that is the outside world, and hopes she never has to leave.


I'm coming to get you! But you're not. And no one else is either. It’s not a game of hide and go seek anymore. I'm still in the room, with the clowns on the walls and the sun dancing on the pfloor, and she’s still happy and clueless, and I’ve been hiding here for a long time now. The door is too heavy to open for anyone, so I know, for sure, that she's safe.

Bald Face - Mikaila Cloutier '17

As I stood tall for the first time since I began, I felt a surge of power come from inside me. The sky was not clear and the air blew cold. I looked around and quickly realized that not only had I made it to the top with little struggle, I was also very hungry. Me being me, I expected a five-star meal with cool drinks on the side. However, my expectations were crushed with a peanut butter and fluff sandwich, an apple, a small granola bar, and water that I received at the beginning of the hike. Although this wasn’t much to what I was thinking, I still plowed it down my throat in a matter of three minutes.

***

“Mikaila, it’s time to wake up,” Mom said quietly.

“I know Mom,” I said angrily under my breath as I threw the covers off my shoulders.

This was the day that my aunt planned a hike with me. Too early in the morning. She told me that it would be in New Hampshire with a few of her friends. I only wanted to do this to get some hardcore exercise; I get quite lazy during the spring and summer and needed it.  

I looked up to the ceiling in my room. My not-impressed face was plastered on. My air conditioner was still going and I could already tell it was going to be a humid day. Why did I tell her I would go? I wasn’t quite sure the answer of that; maybe because I’m too nice to say no, maybe my mind knew I needed to get out of Harpswell.

I got up from my bed and looked around my messy room. I picked out a pair of rainbow lace underwear, black sports bra, black under armour short, and a Cook’s Lobster House t-shirt. My hair was messily thrown up into a bun. I gathered the necessary items: my phone (of course), a blanket, my camera, and a positive attitude (saving for later, though).

My aunt was in the kitchen ready to go as I stepped out of my room. At that time, I regretted my decision. I love my aunt, but she’s just too much sometimes.

“HI MIKAILA!! ARE YOU READY??” she loudly speaks excitedy, “I hope you’re ready for a long hard, hike!”

I stare at her and proceed to the door, out the garage, down the walkway, and into her car. Expressionless, I slide into her low Civic and wrap up in my blanket. I knew this was not going to be a quick ride so I fall asleep.

***

Panting, sweating, feeling tired as ever, I waddle up the steep trail. As I expected, my thighs chafe and my back is sweating brutally. My aunt won't let me be the caboose so I follow her three surprising old friends and my aunt follows me. I always feel like nothing is more hard than hiking a mountain after being inactive for a while. My struggles show by tripping over rocks and complaining every five seconds.

“How are you feeling Mikaila?” one of my aunt’s friends ask me.

“Oh, just dandy,” I reply out of breath. “How much longer to the top?”

“We’ll get there eventually,” she teases. At this point I am not tolerating teasing so I glare out towards the heavily dense forest and stomp up the trail.

***

At last, the top of the mountain is visible. A bald face on a forested body. Three hours later, after all the hardships, I am almost at the top. I am strong. I am powerful. I am enduring. My pace picks up because I know that I can reach my goal. I scale small boulders that feel like vertical cliffs to me. Climbing with my legs bent and hands on the ground like a gorilla, I don't think about the aches racing through my body. I don't think of how exhausted and thirsty I am or how I have to do this all again except going down. I think of my achievements.

I get to the top and I am the most powerful woman I have ever been. Then I realize that I'm hungry.

I Cannot Hate You - Krissy Waite '17

The warm breeze licked at our hair and the salty water lapped at our feet, stinging our blisters resulting from the long day of exploring theme parks and riding roller coasters. I watched the stars illuminate and flicker above me as we walked along the shore line for hours until you found a quiet spot away from spring breakers. You sat down in the water, unafraid of anything lurking beneath. You began to pull me down with you.

“What about the sand?”

“The sand? It’s just sand. Come on, the water’s warm.”

The sand was actually cozy, even inviting, as it still had the day’s heat trapped inside of it. It almost burned me to sit, but the waves of the ocean cooled my skin as I relaxed. The tide was making its way in and the salty water pushed past our thighs and encircled our hips, but you were unconcerned. You searched through your phone and Pink Floyd filled the empty air. We both leaned back to stare at the stars and talk about nothing and everything at the same time.

The meaning of life, outer space, fate, religion, the unknown.

By the time we covered all daunting subjects known to man it was two A.M and you asked if I believed in horoscopes. I thought about it, and answered. “I think it’s nice to think that our fates are connected to something much bigger than us. It’s humbling, and I mean how can we stare at such an incredible universe and not think there’s more to it?”

“So what you’re really saying is when I screw up I can just blame it on fate?” You splashed water my way as you joked. 

I rolled over in the sand and my body shook with laughter. “Yes, essentially.”

            We got up and began heading back, sand covering our backsides, not a care in the world that there was sand in our bikinis. 

***

It was weird, learning to live in the moment. But with you, it was so easy. Before that day I had been terrified of putting my life in a giant murder machine’s seats but with you I was excited to try knew things because “You might never get this chance again”.  Before meeting youI had always been worried about something, scared about another. There was just something about the way you carried yourself, shoulders out and chin up, that radiated confidence. It radiated out of you and into others, and your smile was addicting. I watched even the cockiest of men quiver as you walked by and you would smile at them, almost innocently, knowing the power you had over them. Yet you never flaunted yourself. Many were envious of you. You were carefree, a free spirit, independent even, and didn’t seem to feel the same pressures of school and society that the rest of us did.

But I knew you, I knew your secrets and insecurities because you trusted me with them, as I trusted you with mine. Your biggest fear was never getting out of this small town and being stuck without any future. I knew that you secretly hated chocolate sprinkles on ice cream but ate them anyway because your little brother liked them, and he always stole a bite or two. I knew that you hated when people wrote mean things on bathroom stalls, and would scratch out themean words when you could.

We rarely called ourselves best friends, we said we were sisters.

***

            I’m so nervous.

            My stomach is filled with rocks, my mouth with broken glass, and my feet with knives. I am so nervous. My first hockey game, and my eyes are blurred and the noise from the stands bounces around like ping pong balls in my head. I step out on the ice for my first shift and feel the crisp ice crunch beneath me. Stalling, I saunter my way to center ice.

            God, why am I so nervous?

            Nothing feels right. My shoulders are tense, and the skates I had been lacing up all season felt like they were on the wrong feet. I stare hard at my opponent, waiting for the puck to drop, and then I see it. Right behind the net, a huge sign with “GO BEST FRIEND, DAS MY BEST FRIEND” in bold lettering.

            Suddenly, my skates are on the right feet again.

***

            You knew nothing about hockey, and had never even attended one. But you still yelled at the ref for bad calls, all to make me laugh. At one particularly bad game I remember you asking the ref a multitude of questions, included ‘Does your wife know you’re screwing us?’ and ‘Check your phone, I’m pretty sure you missed a few calls.’ You weren’t doing it to be mean, but solelyto make me laugh, to ease my nerves. You cheered me on, even when I fell on my butt and slid all over the ice. You hated the cold but you still came to support me, even though I hadn’t asked you to.  After the game I asked how you thought I did, and you said “You skated gracefully… like snowflakes falling from the sky.” I laughed and asked you how long it took to practice saying that line with a straight face. You smiled that brilliant smile, and asked if I wanted to go back to your place to celebrate the survival of my first hockey game.

So we did.

***

It’s two A.M.

            It’s two A.M. and we sit in the back of his truck laughing and singing and dancing and swaying and moving our bodies in every way the beat allowed us. They are your friends, but now they’re mine also. I’m not nervous and I’m not scared.  Alone, maybe I would be. But I am not alone, I am with you. I’m at peace with the world and everything wrong with it and everything scary about it because right here, right now, I am where I need to be and anywhere else would be the wrong place at the wrong time and I am just so perfectly at peace with it all.

More friends pull up and the music gets turned up louder. We are on our feet now, you and me, dancing around the fire with its flames reaching, almost grasping for us. Our tan legs glowed with its scarlet hue. Your laugh echos in my ear as I feel the cool smoothness of the stones we dance on under me. Suddenly, you stop dancing and grab my arm, your eyes wide and your mouth angled slightly upwards. You giggle and run towards the newly discovered pond ahead of us, motioning for me to follow. We strip down to almost nothing and jump.

I hear the muffled laughs and screams of our friends above me and I see you point to the surface. I swim up and the cool summer breeze sticks to my face. Squinting through the water droplets in my eyes, I see the silhouettes of our friends running towards us, clothes flying, in the distance.

“They probably think they’re going to get lucky.” You are still smiling as we tread the water beneath us, watching our friends-now turned savages- rip through the water en route to us. You shake your head, chuckling. “Let’s get out of here.”

***

Every year, my mother tells me to dump every piece of clothing out on my floor and put it all back neatly. However, there some rules: If you don’t like it and have no idea why you own it, put it in the give-away pile. If you have outgrown it, it goes in the pile. If you haven’t worn it within the last several months, bring it to the pile. And finally, if it is not yours and you can’t identify the owner (and it doesn’t fit you), put it in the pile. Sometimes it would seem like this mountain of a pile toward over my sister and I, and we are usually left to wonder how we came to acquire so many clothes.

The week before our sophomore year began, I began to dread this chore. My closet and room was riddled with your things, and touching them stung my hands so deeply they bled. In a heat of anger, I managed to rid my room your filth. Pictures were torn off the walls and clothes thrown into the hall as I felt my cheeks hot and sticky with confused anger. I thought I had cleansed you from my life, but later that year I was rummaging through my closet in hopes of finding my field hockey stick when I came across a baseball cap that didn’t belong to me. It had been wedged in the top right corner, between some old jeans and t-shirts that really should have been thrown out years ago. I immediately recognized it as yours, because I remember ransacking your house looking for the damn thing. We were late for our plans but you would not step foot out of the house without it. We ended up staying in that night and watching a Brad Pitt marathon instead.

I couldn’t bring myself to throw it out. So there it still sits.

I often wondered if my things physically hurt you to touch, too, or if you just stuffed them in a garbage bag and threw them out. Or maybe you shoved them under your bed like you did all objects you deemed unworthy. For reasons I don’t know and probably will never understand, you shoved me under your bed that summer as well.

***

I stared down at the opened text message. My mind was blank and I could not move my thumbs or feel my toes. My heart sunk as if an anchor had attached itself to it and was receding to the deepest depths of the ocean.  It was the first message, or really any form of communication, from you in weeks.

Me: What’s going on with us. Did I do something or… ?!?

You: I’m not talking about this right now. I’m with people.

I guess what you really meant was you were never going to talk about it at all, whether you were with people or not.

***

I will never understand how you can spend three years building a friendship with someone and then one day decide that you no longer care. How do you remove their memories from your past? You always said that best friend breakups are worse than boyfriend breakups, because boys are expected to come and go, but friends are supposed to be there through everything, the little fights and the big ones. I suppose that advice didn’t apply to you.

I now understand why they are so much worse, because now my memories of you won’t fade away. I know all these little quirks and secrets about you that I don’t know what to do with. They clutter my mind and randomly appear whenever I see chocolate sprinkles, look at the stars, or watch a movie that stars Brad Pitt. They are sketched into my head and I cannot scratch them out like you can scratch out bathroom graffiti. I want to hate you for ditching me, for leaving me all alone, but every memory of you except for the last is associated with euphoria. I cannot hate you because I cannot hate roller coasters & sandy bikinis, stars & skinny dipping, and skating & snowflakes because they are the things that built me, that make me happy and at peace. Even if they remind me of you. 

Past - Xinyao "Lily" Xu '17

With the increasingly violent vibration of the engine and a strong force pushing under the cabin, the plane with the label “UA” on the front swiftly took off. It took me away from all my family and friends, it took me away from the land where I belong, and headed towards the unfamiliar destination that was fifteen hours away. Bustling street lights in the cities faded out of view. Clouds that surrounded the plane gradually thickened. The sky above came closer. The world turned quiet and empty. Smiles melted into tears. Excitement crumbled into heartache.

    I thought I always knew how it would be to leave the beloved. You said goodbye, you hugged them tightly, you said things will never change, you said I’ll miss you, you said I love you. You looked into their eyes that were filled with reluctance and woe, thinking it’s time for me to move on. And finally… you left. You strode forward without looking back, believing that your beloved would always be your beloved and they would always be there no matter what. You said to yourself, I am ready. The past is the past and my future is waiting.

    Unfortunately, the past is not just the past.

 

***

Checking my luggage at the airport filled with noise and crowds, I sensed the unease that emanated from my parents. Dad, who always stands by me and goes on and on about the importance of safety and keeping myself alert, stood silently behind the crowded line and watched me from far away, as if too reluctant to move his steps. Mom, who always emphasizes the importance of being responsible for my personal items, demanded to carry all my bags for me, grasped them tightly and tried to push me away when I tried to take my bags back. “Let me help you.” The phrase she yelled out was completely against her principle of raising a child and was never said to her daughter for seventeen years until then. “You need to take care of yourself as how I take care of you,” Mom dragged my bags along and followed my footsteps, “It’s not as easy as you think to…” “I know and I will take care of myself! Don’t you worry mom. I’m not a baby anymore.” As I interrupted, mom’s face blushed immediately, and she began to follow me more tightly without more words being said.

    Security check. Non-travelers keep out. I turned around, facing mom and dad, who stared at me quietly without being disturbed by the noise and the crowd that passed over them. All the sounds and people around us suddenly disappeared. The clock stopped clicking. It was only the three of us. Two who were being eroded by age on one side and one gleaming youth on the other. Every single movement they made was put on a slower mode as time paused and every single one of their motions magnified as they stood so close to me: dad’s fists started to clench, his eyebrow scowled, and his lips tightened; mom wrapped her coat more closely, and forced her wrinkled face into a smile that was comprised of nothing but a sense of awkwardness and a greater sense of sadness. However, there seemed to be such long distance between me and them as if there existed a gap I could never make up. I didn’t know what that was and neither did I think about it. I said goodbye. I hugged them tightly. I said things will never change. I am still your daughter and never going away. I said I’ll miss you. I said I love you. I looked into their eyes that were filled with reluctance and woe. Tears soaked mom’s face. I said to myself,  I’m over it already and mom and dad will get over it soon too. The past is the past. I’m leaving for the U.S., where my dream will start. My new life is waiting for me. I am ready.

    Striding forward full of hope and excitement, I went through the security check, thinking this is the beginning of my new life. I unconsciously looked back: those two fragile figures and familiar faces in the crowds were gone. Surprised out of no reason, an influx of emptiness and loneliness swallowed me and made me unable to breathe. I understood the gap between me and them all of a sudden. Tears streamed down my face. I was wrong. Things changed. I wasn’t ready.

 

***

    I couldn’t be happier on that day. Everyone showed up in school like princesses and princes. We rushed down to the playground with the vitality and energy of fourteen-year-olds, celebrating the middle-school graduation ceremony with joy and delight. We listened to the last speech by the head of school. We finished the last dance with the classmates we had spent twelve hours a day, three years in total with. We took out Gatorade, the drinks that only belonged to us, and cheered for the end of an era and the beginning of another era by the song of “Auld Lang Sang.” We said goodbye. We hugged each other tightly. We said things will never change and friendship lasts forever. We said we’ll miss each other. We said we’re buddies and we love each other. We looked into each other’s eyes that were filled with happiness, accompanied with reluctance and woe. We thought This is it. It’s time for me to move on. We scattered and left without looking back. We said to ourselves, I am ready. I’m going to leave for high school. The past is the past and my future is waiting.

    The next Monday, I took my backpack and went to school. Of course there was no school. I graduated. Wow. This is it, I realized. I lay down on the playground and looked up at the blue sky with white, marshmallow-like clouds. It was the same blue sky and the same marshmallow-like clouds. But those who used to lie on the grass and look at the sky and clouds with me were no longer there. Sorrow flooded my heart and tears blurred my vision. I was wrong. Things changed. I wasn’t ready.

 

***

    It was a sunny afternoon. Bright green leaves illuminated by the sunshine danced swiftly and gracefully in the wind. Hummingbirds flew around the kindergarten, singing the most delightful melody that mesmerized the most buoyant and lively six-years-olds and decorated their childhood. As the sun started to go down, I went into the sand pit, put the sand toys in order, and waited for Julia as usual. Recognizing the familiar footsteps, I turned around immediately and shouted out her name. She laughed as she ran closer and closer, always showing her smile with two of her front teeth missing. As she reached the sand pit, she jumped on me and we fell down. This was how we greeted each other.

    “Julia,” I said, “Mom told me that we are moving to another place.” Hearing what I said, she turned to me with a strange look on her rosy face, as if she didn’t understand. “Moving...to another place?” Julia put her hands on her head, as if questioning what she just heard. “Yeah. I think we are leaving here tomorrow morning” I nodded, as if I really understood. Agitated by my serious response, she lost her smile that always hung on her face. She looked at the sand silently without moving. I threw a confused look at her, who never stopped talking. At dusk, I said goodbye to Julia. I hugged her tightly.  I said things will never change and I promise I’ll see you again. I said I’ll miss you. I said you’re my best friend and I love you so much. I looked into her eyes that were filled with reluctance and woe, thinking I will make new friends and she will make new friends too. Believing she’s always there for me and I’ll always be there for her. I said to myself, I am ready to go. The past is the past. I will meet so many friends just as Julia and my future is waiting.

    Finally I moved to a new place that was two hours’ flight away from Julia. I was excited to meet new friends and see all the things I had never seen before. The sun was equally beautiful and the sand pit in the kindergarten was equally big. Nothing’s changed. In the afternoon, as the sun started to go down, I went into the sand pit and put the sand toys in order. I waited and waited, but no one came. “Where did Julia go?” I asked myself. Realizing that she was not coming as I thought when the sun reached the horizon and the sky got darker, I burst into tears and shouted out Julia’s name. Why are you not here? I was wrong. Everything’s changed. I wasn’t ready.

 

***

    The plane ascended higher and higher, flying over the limit of the sky that I could have ever imagined. The clouds turned crimson quietly in the disappearing sunshine. I looked out of the window, wiped my tears away, and started to enjoy the silence brought about by being alone. I never realized the pain of leaving my parents, nor did I realize that the eyes filled with reluctance and woe would resurface in front of me from time to time. Every time I walk around the campus that is fifteen hours’ flight away from home, I always consciously look up to the big blue sky, knowing that someone I love who live so far away share the same big blue sky with me. The fragile figures and the eyes filled with reluctance and woe would never go away. They were the past, but they were not just the past. They led me to the future that I had always wanted. They made me understand how amazing it was to feel independent and strong in an exotic land. They let me realize when I look up to the sky, that they were always there and I was never alone.

 

***

    Going to high school, I feared to talk to everyone that surrounded me. The new classroom and new faces terrified me. However, the song of  “Auld Lang Sang” echoed in my mind without going away. I looked up to the blue sky with white, marshmallow-like clouds, and smiled. Seeing the eyes that were filled with reluctance and woe, I knew that my Gatorade buddies were never away. They were the past, but they were not just the past. They rendered me courage and whispered in my ear, we are here for you. They let me realize the importance of taking a deep breath. It’s no big deal, they whispered. They taught me to look ahead towards my future without being afraid.

 

***

    I cried every day after we moved to the new place, the new place without Julia. I never stopped waiting for her on every sunny afternoon in the sand pit, with sand toys being placed in order. I would hear the familiar footsteps again and she would jump on me, saying how much she missed me. I looked up to the sky with hummingbirds flying around, hearing Julia calling my name. Her smile with two of her front teeth missing was always there. Her eyes that were filled with reluctance and woe watched me quietly, saying I love you and there will be other people that will love you as I do. She was the past, but she was not just the past. She told me to appreciate the preciousness of a good friend. She encouraged me to love as if I had never been hurt. She made me realize that whatever happens in the future, the truly beloved ones would never go away.

 

***

    Probably things will always change as time goes by.  Probably tears will still stream down my face after I realize that my life will be different when the loved ones no longer accompany me with the path I am walking on. Probably I was wrong and I will never be ready no matter what happens. But I know that my old memories will never leave and will keep helping me decide which way I should go in the future. I will love the loved ones and they will love me.

Fortunately, the past is not just the past.

Friends - Haohan Tang '17

Sitting at the corner table, there is just constant silence between us and unstoppable texting. Holding a phone in your hand becomes a common thing in our meeting. People always say that everything changed but friends never change. Same friends, at same place, but we all know that things change. We can still sit together and have an nice and friendly talk. Chatting about our simple and invariable and changeless life and praise each other like strangers who meet each other for first time. I want to talk about my life in America; I want to tell you that how much I miss you guys. However, you guys will never ask, so this dream will never come true . I feel lost.

I am not part of you guys anymore even though we were so close that we can share everything. I feel embarrassed and helpless every time you guys talk about things that I don’t understand. I pretend like I am interested about it, but how can I know about your study, your school lives and your college application if you never talk about it with me. I did ask, and you guys did answer to me, but always short and perfunctory like “ This is just some math problem. Don’t worry about it.” or like “ you don’t understand.” You never know how much a sentence can hurt. I want to understand you, and I am always trying to. At the same time, I want to be understood. However, the question you guys ask is always like “ Are shoes cheaper in America ?” or “ Is study easier than China?”. Maybe in your mind, I am just a boy who escaped from the Chinese education and is having fun in the America. Seems like I am not one of you anymore.

* * *

A sunny day is always the best day to play basketball. Sitting in the classroom and waiting for the school bell is the most painful and endless for us teenagers. We have been looking forward the bell rings, and then run to the basketball court to spend our exhaustless energy. Basketball bounces on the ground like our heartbeat. Shooting a buzzer beater, chasing each other for a basketball, sitting in the dining hall to watch the NBA final, fighting with other classes, those simple and stupid trifles make up my life and my all happiness. I smile like a fool on the basketball court and with all you guys. I will smile because of winning a game; I will smile because of an ice cream; I will smile because of a bad joke; I will smile because one of you fell down. Truly friend is who will pull you up when you fall down but always after laughing at you. I looked up the sky, there is a image of us.

* * *

Friendship can be strong but also can be weak. I believed that my friendships are the strongest relationship in the world. We have each other's backs; We will stand next to each other when we need each other; we will stand on one side no matter it’s right or not; we will be each other’s backup forever. My friendships might look so tough that no one believe we are the best friends. However, instead of caring about each other every second we prefer to yell at each other for most time and appear when any one of us need help. We would meet each other at three o’clock in the morning because one of us want. We would fight with other people because he yells at one of us on basketball court. We would escape from the fight together, but we will never leave one of us alone. Friendship means company to me. Friendship is the most important thing for me beside family. How can I not talk about friendship when it is all I get.

* * *

    Watching through the window, familiar roads pass me. On the way to the airport, dribs and drabs of my past life and memories are attacking my mind. Future is like a mystery mist for me. I don’t want to leave here; here is the place that I was born and I grow up. I have family, friends here. I don’t want to leave them; I don’t want to go America; I don’t want to leave. Those ideas keep resounding in my head. I didn’t have any emotions about leaving until the moment that I left home. On the car, every buildings that passed by car have my memories and my past. With the sound of the vibration, I wake up from the self-talking. “ I am in front of the crocodile museum”, my friend texts me. Next second, I see him standing in front of the crocodile museum which is on the way to airport. He wears a red hat and our basketball uniform of middle school. He waves his hand at me like three years ago when we met each other at first time. That pure smile and that red hat will never change just like our friendship. The sun just rises; thinnish fog still pervades in the six o’clock morning. When the car passes the crocodile museum, I turn around my head. The tears gush to my eyes. He is my friend, always.

* * *

    Sitting at the corner table, I watch my friends playing their phones. “ Phone seems like more important and interesting than our conversations. If, I mean if my friends will leave phone, will our friendship turns back to before?”, at the same time self-talking ends in my mind, they put down their phones and say “ Alright, Tell me something about America. How is basketball there? Are those people stronger than us?” One question after another one come to me. That’s not the end. They stand up and pull me up from the chair, “ You want to play basketball ? Want to be smashed by me like before ?”. A smile rises on my face, “ You mean like I smashed you before?”. With the basketball gets into the rim, the sound of net, it seems like back in time. Jumping in the air, everything seems like completely same as three years ago. Hearing the ring of the school bell, we run out of the classroom and rush to the basketball court.

Loss - Todd Williams '17

What is loss? What does it mean and when does it really matter. Your losses are what shape you as a person and can be something you carry with you for the rest of your life. To some, a big game is lost when at the final buzzer the opposing team is celebrating because they had scored more points than you in the allotted time. To some, a loved one or close friend passing is considered losing them. To some, loss is losing a friend due to fighting or a number of many other reasons. So what is loss? And when do you know that you have lost? Is it the buzzer at the end of a championship. Is it the straight line and long beep of a heart monitor. Is it the emptiness that used to be filled with companionship.

I was lying in bed with my sister who was two at the time, crying. I was only eight, and one week before my parents had divorced; on my eighth birthday. I was now at my grandparents house, my father’s side, because my parents thought that my sister and I deserved a break from the constant fighting and the storming out and the cursing and so on and so forth. I held my sister tight and reassured her that everything would be okay and that the fighting would be all over soon, but she was sleeping. I guess I needed to think that I was helping or comforting her so that I had an excuse to ball my eyes out. Funny how even at eight I act like it was “not manly” to show my emotions. Anyway you look at it, I was crying and I needed something. The door creaked; I turned my head to see who it was, and sure enough it was my goofy grandfather. He stumbled into the room, “what's the matter capin’?” “I don't want to talk about it,” I mumbled as I was still choking back tears. He replied, “Well, me neither, but it's better to let out whatever bothers you then to let it build up until you freak out on Nena. Poor woman already makes the house crazy, I don't need you adding to that.” I tried my best not to laugh, then I chuckled. I rolled over and looked into his eyes, tears running down my face. He wiped the tears with his hand, reached in his pocket and gave me a chocolate mint. He then held my hand and said, “You're not alone, and you never will be as long as I am around.” I hugged him, the tightest hug that I have given in my entire life, and began to tell him everything.

I am twenty one now. It's hard to imagine the impact that someone makes on your life, especially when they are not there. Your morales change to theirs. Your view morph to fit his or hers. It has been four years since his passing. But it has been much longer than I had anticipated. Time seemed irrelevant for a while, it all kind of blended. I was at school, I was home, I was in a field, and now in a bar. Not always in that order but you can get the picture. It's rough, I know what loss is, that's the worst part. Most people fear the unknown, but when the unknown becomes known, sometimes you wish that your only fear was what you thought that you knew. But I am a man now, I have to get over it, and I will get over it. But I will never forget, I will never truly lose him because I am a part of him as he is a part of me. I carry him with me everywhere I go. To the church, to the supermarket, to Buffalo Wild Wings, to the field. The field is the worst part, there are thousands of names, but you want the one that you knew to be a hundred feet tall so that it stands out and grabs the attention of other passers by. You want them to know how great of a man he was and how much of an impact that he had on you and others close to him. But I am grown up, or so I think at least. I am moving forwarding my life, and he would want me to do the same.

I was sixteen at the beginning of summer going into my senior year. And I knew all along that I would be much older going into next year. Although it was only one year in number, it must have been twenty in heart. I would visit him in the hospital, in the bed, on the floor. I was there, I saw my grandfather dying. I saw everything, from vomit to crying to coughing to death. I was there. I knew that he was gone. I knew for a while that he was gone. That is what hurt the most. That is what frustrated me the most. I had known that this was going to happen, and I knew that I could do nothing to stop it, nothing to prolong his legacy, his life. Just like that, flip of a switch, his body was gone. All that lived were his blood and his stories. I will never forget. I was there. I knew. It was three o'clock in the morning. I was awake, the only one there. I rushed to the nurse only for her to come in and put her head down. I was there. The night before might have been the most that I had ever cried. My dad had exchanged some words with his, and began to cry. He then walked to me, telling me that it was time to go. I told my dad that I would stay the night here and that I would be fine, so he nodded his head and set off for the hotel that was about two minutes away. I strutted over to the bed and pulled up a chair, he was crying. I told him that I loved him and that nothing would ever change that. I told him that I will live my life for him and that he would never be gone to me. He would never be forgotten. He inhaled violently two times to clear his nose and throat, he took my hand as he had years ago. He picked his head up as I leaned in.

What is loss? And if there is loss and so much of it, how do we win? It's a touchy subject to some, especially me. But each person has their own experiences and situations which scales their loss different from yours. My greatest loss may have been a family member and that is the case for many. Some people lost a championship game or a girlfriend and that is their greatest loss. It doesn't matter, with all loss comes pain. Not always “it's all my fault” type of pain. But pain none the less. Pain pushes us to strive for greatness, to strive for something, or at least it should. I am glad that I could share this story, because at the end of the road, that is all we leave behind. So tell a good one, make a good one, never lose.

Absence - Joseph Piroli '17

 

As I lay in my bed I reach forward and grasp the bar; it is cold. My room is filled with objects: posters, flags, clothes, loneliness. The windows ajar to let the sounds of the world in. The beds are both neatly made, but at night only one is filled with the warmth of a body. Two dressers and two closets are filled with the clothing of a soul who's mourning of a friend never ceases.

 

“Romario you crazy bastard!”

“What do you want bumbaroli”

“Lock me out of the room one more time and I swear I'll knock your ass out”

“Shut up hoe-y, you won't do nothin. I’ll kill you! HeHee”

 

Getting locked out of my room was a recurring event.

 

As I reach out for my towel I dry off and meander across the bathroom; soap in hand. Slyly I slink to my room in just a towel. When I get to my door I reach for the handle and

*klick klick*

“are you for real right now?”

The door is locked. Filled with rage and a dumbfoundedness for the stupidity of my roommate who saw me leave in a towel to go shower I give the door a solid punch. Nursing my bruised hand I swallow my pride and ventured down the stairs of sturtevant knowing full well the onslaught of questions I would receive for being nearly nude.

 

It was a Friday night and dinner was already underway. Boys and girls had been waiting for the weekly Maine mall trip. In my quest for a key to unlock my room I caught a teacher who had thankfully a set of keys to do so. When I think about how embarrassing  it was to walk around shirtless just for a key, it makes me think about all the good times I had with my roommate. Now I know that getting locked out of a room in just a towel doesn't seem fun, but Romario and I had a special friendship. We played tricks on each other and laughed at people as well as each other. Our devious plans were never malicious and although we sometimes argued it was always settled through a game of WWE 2K 16.

 

As I lay in bed I pull the covers over my shoulders and drift away. When I wake up it's always the same. Silence. Never a need to creep across the room quietly. Never a thought about locking the door when I leave. No need to clean, apart from the occasional tour that passes through.

*knock knock*

“Anyone there?”

“Yeah, just me. Just Joey”

There's Always This Year - Jack Morton '17

With two outs and runners on second and third, the situation was clear. I would either get a hit to win the championship or get an out to end the season. I dig into the box for the sixth pitch of my at-bat, let out a deep breath, and look towards the pitcher. He immediately delivers his pitch, a high fastball that I hit straight back into the catcher’s mask. He doesn’t flinch or wince because he could not feel the pain. Instead, he picks up the ball and gets back in position like nothing happened. I glance over to our dugout and see my teammates jumping and shouting, but I can’t hear any of them.

    Dead silence. Just me, my bat, and the ball.

I step back into the box for the next chapter of our emotionless, impassioned battle. I may not be able to feel my legs, but I can feel the bat in my hands. The pitcher attacks me with a curveball this time. I fire my hands and rifle the ball down the right field line. It sails deep into the outfield, but it begins to tail. As I scurry towards first, I try to will the ball back into fair play, but it falls for a foul ball. My heart drops as I realize that we are destined for another chapter of the emotionless battle.

***

    I tap my cleats as I walk behind the umpire and glance to my coach at third base. He gives me a few quick claps before turning to talk to Matt, who is standing on third base. He then yells something to Keegan at first base.

    “Two outs!” The catcher howls before turning back to get in position. He pulls down his mask violently, shakes his head, and punches his glove as he gets in a crouch.

    I dig into the dirt with my right foot as I adjust my helmet. The pitcher paces around the mound before he climbs on top. He peers at me through the small space between his glove and and the bill of his cap. I spin the bat in my hands and stare right back. He winds up to deliver his pitch. As soon as the ball gets by me, it is flying out of the catcher’s hand, racing Keegan to second base. Time seems to slow down as Keegan slides into the bag. He pops up and signals ‘safe’ before the umpire had a chance.

I nod my head as I take a deep breath and step out of the box. The umpire mutters that there is one strike on me. I make eye contact with my coach and see the helpless feeling in his eyes. All he can do is clap and shout, “you know what to do.”

***

    I step out of the dugout and into the on-deck circle. As I swing my bat and scan the outfield, the glow of the scoreboard in center field catches my eye. We are down six to five in the bottom of the ninth inning. With two outs Keegan stands at the plate, eyes fixed on the pitcher. The pitcher glares back through the small space between his glove and the bill of his cap. The pitcher winds up and hurls the ball toward the plate. The stadium held its breath until the ball zipped into the catcher's mitt for ball one. Scattered cheers came from crowd behind our dugout. Many of them sat silent and motionless, waiting.

    Between pitches I keep swinging my bat. With each swing I can feel another part of my leg melt away to Jell-O. Keegan adjusts his gloves and helmet before he steps back into the box. The pitcher delivers a strike down the middle and Keegan rips it to right field for a hit. Matt, who was on first, rounds second base and slides safely into third. When I let out a sigh of relief, I realize the crowd had erupted in cheers behind me. All I can manage is a small head nod to a teammate in the dugout. I know the crowd is still shouting behind me, but all I hear are

my footsteps as I walk to the plate with the championship on the line.

***

    “Three balls, two strikes,” exclaims the umpire.

    I dig into the box and adjust my helmet. The catcher gives the pitcher some signs, and the pitcher nods. The pitcher takes a step and slings the ball to the catcher. My eyes light up as I recognize the fastball out of his hand. The ball glides towards home plate. I pull my hands back and prepare to win the championship for my team. I fire my hands to the ball and watch it come to my bat. As soon as I thought I had the ball lined up with my bat, the ball began to curve. It sunk down and away from me, so I adjusted my swing.

    It was too late.

    The ball kept sinking lower and lower. It flew past my bat and into the catcher’s mitt. It seemed surreal to watch the pitcher leap into the catcher’s arms and the entire team pile on top of them. I just stood there at the plate, processing that the season had come to an end. With the bat still in my hand, I began the slow walk back to the dugout. All I can hear are the screams and shouts from the other team. My team and the crowd sit completely still, stunned and heartbroken. My teammates come to pat me on the back one by one.

    “Don’t worry about it.”

    “It was a team loss”

“There’s always next year.”

    But I will never be able to forget this year. The year that slipped past my bat.

The Little Boy in the Moon - Emily Thompson '17

    Looking down, he could see the watery blue-green orb, he seemed tethered to it somehow.  Every day it was there, never moving except to spiral around its self.  If he really focused he could see the details of what Mother Nature had blessed this planet with, and what he so wished his own home could have.  Unfortunately all he was a boy who sat on the Moon and he had no ability to do anything but dream in the night and sleep in the day.

           One of the many things he loved about Mother Nature was the many plants and greenery she gave the Earth.  He felt that if could walk through one of her forests he could feel the life humming through the roots and leaves of all the plants.  Those big as giants and those tiny as ants were all just as fascinating as anything he had ever known.  He could feel the brush of a leaf against his arm or the rough bark beneath his fingers all with the power of his mind.  He could also imagine how these things could smell.  They smelled so pleasant and fresh that they filled his whole body and mind.  The smell was intoxicating and he did not even know how they truly smelled, only what he thought their scent might be.  Although the plants were on of his favorite things, they were not the only of Mother Nature’s creations that dominated his dreams.

           The Earth was home to many animals as well, so many kinds that it was impossible to count them all.  There were mammals, insects, sea animals and many more.  His favorite, at least this week, were the sea animals.  They were majestic and had such a free life, they were not contained as he was to the moon.  They had the ability to venture wherever they pleased among their watery home.

    He craved the freedom the animals had.  He craved the life and beauty of the plants and forest.  He craved mother nature.  Earth’s inhabitants often said to “shoot for the moon” to achieve their dreams, but he knew they should really say “shoot for the moon, but cherish the Earth.”  Only he, the little boy in the moon, knew truly how lonely the moon could be.

Me Then, Me Now - Tyler Swanbeck '18

Me Then

There he goes, six year old, Tyler Swanbeck. He was the little boy in the green sports shorts that hang right down to the tops of his knees. He could run all day with his friends, across the fluffy light green grass with not a care in the world. He ran so fast that the soft wind blew into his face with force that made him feel like he was running through time because he was going “so fast”. It made him feel like Flash, the fastest man on earth; it made him feel unstoppable. Then, after hours upon hours of playing games in the yard, the boy began to slow down. He found he had to stop. He couldn’t go on. It was as if exhaustion was the boy’s worst enemy, his arch nemesis. Over the next few years of the boy’s childhood, he and his nemesis fought day after day. While the boy won the day, the enemy won the night. It was as if the balance of life was restored when the little boy’s foe conquered him in battle because he always felt recharged and fueled in the morning; ready to fight another day.

Me Now

There he goes, sixteen year old Tyler Swanbeck. He isn’t the little boy he used to be. He is now a sophomore in high school who is beginning to think about the next phase in his life, the process of college. He is a long ways off, but his life couldn’t be moving faster. He isn’t the unstoppable little boy in the top of the knee high green shorts, who runs on the light and fluffy green grass with his friends all the day long anymore. He has grown up just like everyone else. But his longtime foe, exhaustion, has become stronger and stronger over the years, with the help of his minions, school, family, and the dedication it takes to strive for his goals. He is beginning to wear Tyler down, but the nearly grown up little boy has also gotten stronger, and continues to fight back, now whether it be day or night. Along the way he has said goodbye to his childhood friends, but has made new ones. He has left his old childhood home where he felt safe from the outside world, but moved into a new one. His life has changed, but for the good. He now has a great opportunity to strive to accomplish his goals and dreams and become the man that he wants to be. The man that the little boy who ran with the soft wind in his face only dreamt about being, a super hero. Not a real super hero, but a hero to the ones that look up to him. He now has two little brothers and wants to set a good example for them. When his foe comes around, he will be ready; to fight another day. But he has found a counter weapon, rest.

Me Then. Me Now - Pedro Crespo Delgado '18

 

Me then. 

Oh god, he was innocent. He would believe anything anyone would tell him. Everything he heard he would believe it. He couldn’t lie, so he couldn’t understand why others would.He didn’t even know what a lie was. He was carefree; he had nothing to worry about but to have fun. He was as noisy as a thunder and as destructive as a tornado. He would turn everything upside down to be with his family. He used to be wild, because he didn’t value many of the things close to him. His mother would teach him that lesson with patience and time.His mom did really well on that. He was LIGHT, no problems on his mind, no muscle or fat. He was light as a leaf floating down from the branch of the tree.

 

Me Now.

The leaf touched the ground and became all dirty with mud and became heavy with rain. The leaf was not bright anymore. He was seasoned,experience, hardened.

That was his change. Now he’s locked in problems and concerns, and sometimes forgets how to have fun. Sometimes he thinks he made the wrong choices and the worst of all, he thinks he can’t mend them. But he is still hopeful that one day these problems will disappear because he finally took the right choice, hoping he will one day get on the right lane. Now he has goals, targets, and he’s aiming but unable to shoot because of fear. This is today; we’ll see about tomorrow.

Odette's Death by Yves - Maria Vitoria Marques '16

We were trying to be quiet as we walked along the river, so the Generalissimo’s soldiers wouldn’t spot us. Wilner leaded the way, trying to find a good place to cross, Odette followed him, visibly scared and rotating her head to all directions with every noise we heard. Amabelle, just like me, was struggling not only to walk, but also to keep the focus, and mostly, to survive. Of course we weren’t in the best of conditions. If only we could say perejil. If we had avoided the cathedral we could have already crossed, maybe without getting hurt. No! Not without getting hurt! From the inhumane, animal like work I’ve been doing in the fields for years to this witch hunt, crusade against my people, if there is one thing I know is that I got hurt. Had we avoided the cathedral Amabelle and I would have spared ourselves from some immediate pain, yes, there is no doubt on that. But there is nothing we can do to rescue ourselves from the sorrow and pain that accumulated over the years. To unsee the deaths, to forget the mistreatment, to unhear offenses, to undo it all. In coming to Alegria, we might have gained an extra piece of bread, but we lost all the rest and our lives became haunted by memories of a past that was poor and miserable, but at least it was free. 

We stopped when Wilner found a spot he considered to be a good combination of safety and darkness. Odette was the first to enter the water, followed by Amabelle, myself and Wilner. Before I realized, the water was reaching my shoulders and I soon looked for Amabelle, because she is much smaller than I am and I wanted to make sure she was fine - I wouldn’t let her drawn. Amabelle seemed to be lost in a maze and the despair in her eyes made me remember what that river meant to her. She kept on swimming as if it was banal, but if one looked closely enough it wasn’t hard to realize that Amabelle was swimming through her greatest fear and biggest nightmare. I saw when she let go of Odette’s hand but I was too busy helping Wilner to think much of it. Odette and Amabelle had reached the middle of the river when it happened. A soldier hiding in the bushes appeared suddenly and shot Wilner, who was about to enter the river. As his body fell close to mine I could see hundreds of soldiers coming, I could see our lives ending and our efforts to survive not only the passage but also a life as a Haitian in Dominican Republic dying. I closed my eyes and waited for death to come. Oddly enough, I realized it didn’t. Opening my eyes, I saw the soldier who had killed Wilner talking towards some other soldier completely off guard. They hadn’t seen us, because it was dark and we were quiet. Confused by the silence, I looked back only to find Amabelle pressing her hand against Odette’s mouth, to keep her quiet. Odette’s facial expression soon changed from sadness and pain to emptiness and vacuum - as if life was leaving her body and now all there was left was a floating corpse. Amabelle, however, kept her hand pressing firmly and didn’t let go even when it was evident Odette was silent enough. I wondered for a second about what she was doing. If it was the coast of survival, a life for another life; if she had indeed meant it; if she had, maybe she was tired, maybe she thought we were all going to die. But then I look at Odette, who was barely alive, I looked at her eyes and I realize that Amabelle couldn’t have killed her. No, I don’t think so. She died when Wilner died. I don’t really know much about love, but I know that it’s about two people and only one soul - if one dies, the other has no choice but die too, because love is either very nice or very bad. When they shot him, her soul must have left her body, so even if someone tried to kill her it would be useless, for she was already dead. I think that would happen to me if Amabelle died. But it wouldn’t happen to her if I was the one to die.

We finally got to the other side of the river, and we were to busy for a dramatic entrance but I wish we had taken an extra second to look closely, it was home after all. I helped Amabelle to bring Odette to the shore and I wanted to move away from the river, but Amabelle laid her body over Odette’s - in a weird hug - and refused to let her go. It could have been a couple of hours but it could also have been a day, I can’t remember how long we stayed there as Odette died, because one loses the idea of time after suffering that much, I believe. I still remember every detail as if it was yesterday. Despite Amabelle’s sadness and even guilty, eventually Odette completely died - body and soul. I won’t forget, however what she said last. I was fairly distant from her body but her whisper was quite powerful that I have no doubt of its veracity. She said pèsi. Because we don’t need perejil. Because we didn’t come by choice, because we are not bad people and we never meant no harm. Because we look after your children as our own and we plant the food you eat. Because we are the arms and legs that keep you strong, and in return you give us perejil. You haunt us and you kill our children, make us jump off cliffs and hang us from trees. And what have we done to you but feed you and help you and serve you as more than an employer but as a slave? If you want to give us perejil that much, fine. We will take pèsi.