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.

Li and Cui - Shangyuan Cui '16

Walking on the most crowded commercial street in my city, scanning over the face of people walking on the street, I feel nothing has changed since 3 years ago. Listening to the song that my old friend recommended to me in my headphones, I suddenly recognize the most familiar stranger in the flooding crowd by a glimpse.   

“Hey! Is that you, Li?” I look at him with a little bit of surprise.

“Indeed, that is me, Cui.” He smiled back with a calm face, as if it feels he knows we are going to meet at this place.

“I never thought we would meet here again.” I look at the ground and walk a few steps towards him while I’m speaking with a sentimental smile.

“Yeah, no one knows. What a surprise.” He doesn’t look at me neither, but instead he is staring at the coffee shop. “Do you want to go have a coffee at our old meeting place?” I nod my head, and we walk into the coffee shop where we usually met. The moment we step into the coffee shop, it feels like I’m back to 3 years ago.

His name was Li who was one of my best friends. We met on the first day of our high school years when I was a freshman, and he was a sophomore. With only a few sentences, we quickly became friends with each other at this rural place. Because our school’s location was isolated, we didn’t have much to do but hang out with each other all the time. Everyday in the morning he would come to my room and told me to hurry up so we could go to breakfast. During the freezing winter, when we walked to the dining hall, I always said, “ OMG, you see how cold it is outside. I will never go to breakfast again.” However, on the very next day, he would come to my room, and we would have the same conversation again.

    That was when our friendship grew, and we became closer. I still remember the time when I truly believed he was my best friend and brother. During a Saturday night in my freshman year, Li’s roommate asked me if I could switch roommates with him just for that night because it was my roommate’s birthday so he wanted to celebrate with him. I agreed because I could also hang out with Li that night. We played video games and danced to music in his room. It was one of the most enjoyable weekends I had in my life. After we were both tired and it was almost 2 A.M. so we decided to go to bed. As we turned off the light and laid on the beds, he showed me his talent of talking all night.

    “What is your dream, buddy?” He spoke with vigor and seemed like he was not yet tired from gaming and dancing.

    “I want to become a doctor or some kind of rich person so I will be able to donate a lot of money to poor people in the villages. A lot of them don’t have money and access to education and other things.” I told him.

    “That would be so nice if you could make it happen. I want to become a fashion designer and establish my own brand. I love designing clothes and fashion. I will name my brand TH, the abbreviation of my first name. And by the time I establish my brand and you donate your money to those poor people, I will also give them the clothes of my brand,” he said with determination.

    “Oh yes, we will definitely fulfill our dreams.” Even though it was too dark to see his face, I knew the kind of expression that was on his face right at that moment. He opened his eyes widely and locked his face with that confident smile. For me, I gave the biggest and happiest smile that I had as if we were already successful and had achieved our dreams.

    Time flew, and it was the graduation day for Li. Everyone tried to use a smile to cover up the sadness inside of them. For me and Li, it was like a normal day. We didn’t say much but joked around with each other because we thought we knew that we would still be best friends. On that day, before he left, he told me, “There is no need to say much between us. Take care, and stay in touch.” I looked at him and gave him a sentimental smile. Maybe, at that time, I already knew our friendship wouldn’t last that long. We still chatted and joked with each other on the phone but, during the chat, we started to have times when we both didn’t know what we should talk about. As time passed by, we began to chat less and less. In his social media, he posted people I didn’t know and places I had never been to. For me, it was the same thing. I felt the bond between us became invisible. No one actually said anything, but we knew things were over.

    At the coffee shop, we sit down and offer greetings to each other, asking if things are alright. Most of the conversation remains in silence. Whenever there is silence in the conversation, I bring myself back into my memories, and I believe he is doing the same thing too. Finally, he says he has to go to meet some friends, so we go out. Before he leaves, we don’t say much but from our eyes I can see the time when we were studying in high school and the time when we were walking on this commercial street. We both believe that it was a wonderful time when we were best friends, and had someone who had one’s back. However, we know there is no way to repeat the past.

    “Take care and let’s stay in touch.” I say.

    “Sure.” he speaks with a sentimental smile.

Snowfall - Mitch Spurr '16

     As the end of the day draws closer the clouds begin to blanket the turning sky and the sun hides behind the trees. The trees give the warning signs of a storm, bending and cracking as if to suggest to seek shelter. The air is bitter cold, as I am walking to my car the first snowflakes begin to fall. The snow sticks and covers the ground leaving the imprints of my past behind with each new step. When I arrive at my house the snow is really falling. I exit my car and begin a walk down my road in the darkness. Nothing but the lone, glowing streetlight illuminates my path.
    The eye of the storm has arrived and the snow falls viciously from the sky under the cover of intense darkness. It is strangely quiet, walking down my road the sound of the outside world seems to stand still. I no longer hear the trees or my footsteps. The only sound comes from the thoughts in my head racing like cars on a track. The occasional thunder of a plow truck blocks my thoughts, but only for a brief moment, then back to silence. My breath forms fading clouds in front of my face during each exhale. 
    On my journey home my recent footprints have already been erased by the newly fallen snow. The darkness has reached a peak, the street light just as dark, allowing the moon to light my path home. The thoughts in my head have ceased and there is no sound. The silent storm follows me to the porch of my house where the first sound of a creaking floor board breaks the silence, and I return to reality.

Forget-Me-Not - Olivia Berger '16

     I reached into my satin basket and carefully dropped the blue petals on the church floor, making sure they were equally spaced in the isle. My friends and family whispered about my cuteness but I couldn’t let them distract me. The petals fell through my fingers in a happy waterfall, dancing on their way down. I had ten more feet until the altar and was determined to make the way perfect for my mother. I turned around and everyone stood. I saw my mother slowly progressing towards me. Her hair was artfully curled, and her dainty fingers grasped a bouquet of forget-me-nots that matched her striking blue eyes. Her angelic dress fluttered like there was a mysterious wind that graced only her. I heard a light murmur of laughter and looked around, only to see my brother destroying my magnificent pathway of petals. He was picking them up and looking up at me with an eager, helpful expression. My mother giggled and whispered something in his ear. His innocent blue eyes grew wide and he quickly dropped his handful on the floor. My masterpiece was officially ruined. I stood there glaring at Hanz, ready to throw down at any further indication of mischief.
     She reached the altar and passed her bouquet to her maid of honor, who had tears forming in her awaiting eyes. She leaned in for a hug and my mother smiled, embracing her best friend. She let go and began walking towards her fiance. She smiled lovingly at me; the light crowned her like a goddess. I turned to the crowd. Everyone's eyes were glistening, and their smiles seemed permanently imprinted on their face. I saw my grandparents holding hands, gleaming at their daughter. My brother was distracted with the bibles in the pews while Thomas’s mother urged him to pay attention. I spun back towards my mom; Thomas reached for her hands, cooly winked at me, then grinned at my mother. “Dear Heavenly father, we have gathered here today to celebrate the marriage of  Thomas Wels and Kelly Hayes and give recognition to the worth and beauty of love.”

The Old Woman - Kevin Bao '17

    I try not to think of her, but on this day each year.I am always reminded of her. She was paddling on my shoulder while I was looking down, concentrating on my games. Brown face with a forehead full of wrinkles. Her smile created more wrinkles.Her mole on her left cheek seemed so exaggerated because she was so close to me. She seemed to be talking to me or asking questions, but I could only see her lips moving.
    I kept dreaming of this scene of me going over to visit my great-grandmother many times, but I had only spoken to her a few times. I could not understand where my respect was and morality for the elders at that time, I think I was just scared of her appearance. She had brown skin, wrinkles on her forehead. Her smile was always hanging upon her face And that gigantic mole. 
    Today, I am here, again. Sitting beside her and talking softly to her. We are alone. I wish I did this when she was alive. When I could actually hear her saying tenderly “You made me proud, Yang Yang. Keep up the good work” Every time she would ask me if I am hungry or not, but I would not respond. That’s my response to a “scary” old person. 
    The night was always a yesterday to me. I visited her again at the end of  August when I was eleven-years old. When I walked into the apartment, I greeted everyone in the house including my great-grandmother then I walked straight into the small room in the corner of the apartment and waited for dinner. As I was playing games as expected, she came in as expected, too. She still had that same appearance: brown skin, wrinkled forehead, with a smile on her face, and the black mole that scared me. Her voice was gentle, so gentle that made me feel annoying. I was that anti-human that time. She asked “ Are you hungry? Do you want to eat something first? I have some candies for you.” “No, thanks.” “How was school? Are you ready for this year?” “Great, and yes.” “Do you want to talk……” “I am playing right now, do not talk to me.” 
    That was me, a kid who had no respect for the elders. I had no regret for my action at that time, but now I have. I just wished time could rewind. 
    She left the room, and closed the door with her smile still hanging  upon her face. While I was eating dinner, I did not say a single word. I just ate as fast as I could and went back to that room, waiting to go home. After a month, I heard that my great-grandmother was severely sick from my mother, but my life kept moving on. I did not visit her once while she was sick, either in the hospital or at home. One day at noon, I heard from my mother about the death of my great grandmother. I wasn’t aware of what death was. 
    I did not go to the funeral, and I did not understand what death was. That night, my mom taught me to reminisce the time that I had been with her. To think of what was her like when she was alive, and I started seeing her smiling face again. Then I started crying.It was loud and awkward as I looked back, but I could not think any of that at the time. My mother held me in her arms.After I stopped, she brought me to bed. 
    I wake up and my pillow is soaked wet. My eyes are so red like they have been pressed against something the whole night. Today is the day.The sun is bright, the wind is gently blowing ,and the leaves that fell from the tree are blown away to the far side of the sky. It was a weekend in September, the first weekend of a new school year. I sit in front of her tomb again, and whisper “Great-grandma, how are you? I am here now. Anything you want to talk about? Are you hungry? I just started school this week…...” 
    Sometimes, I wish time could rewind, so I would not be carrying her with me. Although, then I would not be who I am right now. Sometimes, I hope I would know more about respect and loving the elders because they are related to give me life. But, all I can do now is to meet her in my dreams each time I think of her. She would still be the same: brown skin, amiable temper, smiling face, and her endearing mole. She would say “ Are you hungry? I have candies for you.” “I love you, great-grandmother, and I miss you.”