Trevor Paul - English

It's really not so bad.

I know that when I finally get there, when I reach that point, it will be horrible. I mean, I have heard at least. From others. They told me the worst is when you can't spit anymore. You want to, it's an unnaturally desperate need, an urge you can't fulfill because there's simply nothing to expel. For some reason the inability to shed even a drop of spittle makes you think about it, focus on it, it gets into your brain and burrows deep until that's all you can think of. 

We were alright for a while. Once, so I hear, the water used to flow off of the very rocks around us. It's unimaginable now, but I've seen photos from the old days. Some of the eldest people, those still left, remember actually washing in water! The waste, simply unthinkable! To wash your clothes, dishes, even yourself with precious droplets? No man, woman, or child in our enclave would ever dare to dream of such a thing.

But so it was, once.

I think we must have believed ourselves immortal, or something akin to it. How else could we, humanity, have had the audacity to ignore the signs all around us? The animals and plants turning on us, becoming more dangerous or inedible or simply disappearing. The winds, ever faster. The heat, climbing higher. The cold, biting deeper. We must have believed in our supremacy so completely...

Once we had gods, then there was one God, and later we understood that there was none. Or, at least, if there was, he or she was not going to fix our mistakes. Some here still believe that their is a deity watching us wilt and wither with compassion. I find it difficult to fathom. Even as I feel myself fading, emaciated, to something less than alive but not yet dead, I cannot muster up the anger at my situation others have had. Nor, sadly, can I find the last desperate faith others seem to uncover when the reapers is sitting beside him. 

It's really not so bad.

You see, we all like to believe in ourselves and our immutable fortitude until it no longer holds us upright. I had no use for God before, so I did not pray. Now, parched and waning, I do not see him around me nor do I feel his presence. I find no reason to reach out. And yet, those proud and condescending atheists that would mock me if I did? They too are as alone. It just so happens that an empty yawning maw of oblivion is no more comforting than a fictional heaven. So what if you were 'smart enough' not to believe in it? Dying still hurts just as much. 

Sand swirls around the door. In the proper, tidy part of my mind I feel compelled to sweep it clear in case guests come by. There are none, I don't believe. Even if there are still some others left, I don't think they would come by. And if they did, I'd like to hope they forgive the insult of a dusty porch. Such thoughts are still amusing, even now. It's a welcome distraction, as I find thinking helps me ignore the cramps and dryness that seem ever present. The progressive dullness of those sensations is almost pleasing. 

I do remember among the other stories our elders told us, that water used to be dispensed in all manner of simple machines.  That one could stumble, half-asleep, in the dark to a spigot and merely stick a vessel beneath it and receive a drink. If a belief in religion is laughable than such a device seems doubly so. The unbelievability compounded by the idea that we were simply tearing into the earth, siphoning the oceans, and hurling whatever we liked into the sky, all as we concocted refined ways to absorb each finite substance. I find our sense of self-importance and omnipotence baffling me again. The world had been here eons before us and, even in this depleted state to which we have rendered it, will be here eons after. What mental defect makes any creature believe their existence is not predicated on the presence of all else around them?

Still, it's really not so bad.

I think of that magical mechanical fountain, leaking water in an impossible stream. I stick my face beneath it, gulp, and feel my strength return. It is a pleasant fantasy. Indeed, I am struck by how pleasant the whole feeling of my feeble existence is now.  They told me it was so excruciating, but in the moment I feel adrift. 

I stroke her hair. She's still stiff, head against my chest. She's been that way for hours, maybe longer. I told myself I didn't have the strength to move both of us apart, but I could have. This was better. It feels like we're going to be sleeping soon. 

It's really no so.

Riley Hemmings '16

         The cold winter wind howls against the walls of our cabin. Outside are a frenzy of tumultuous snowflakes, screaming and scraping against all of our windows. Icicles form quickly out here in the frozen forest and nights never fail to go below zero - the prefect conditions for hysterical snowstorms and piercing icicles. All afternoon and into the night we sit and watch from the protection of our cabin as the wind pulls the snow sideways across our windows. The sounds of the storm outside as as a starving animal would sounds, hunting for food and struggling to survive. It eats up our cabin and swallows us whole. We are in the stomach of the storm and it doesn't seem to want to spit us out.
        The next morning when we awaken, the storm has slithered onto the next cabin in the woods. All that was left of it were mountainous snow drifts and glittering icicles lining our windows. The icicles shimmered and sparkled in the early morning rays of sun and the tips were starting to melt away, drip after drip falling to the snow covered ground below. They almost seemed angry, the left behind icicles, not able to be carried away with the storm and now that is forever moving. 

Joe Dunn '16

The sun slowly crept down behind the mountains in the distance. A hushed calm swept over the forest. Silence, a silence one would think of as unnatural in the world; no birds were singing, no crickets played their tunes, and no wind swept through the trees. It was as if in that moment, with the light of the sun waning, the world had frozen. The path ahead, twisted off into some unknowing future, with promise of new things to see and places to find. It was in that moment, in that silent moment, that the world began to seem so vast. I took one step at a time down the path. Turning the corner to what I could not see, seemed the obvious choice. In that moment however I chose to step off the path which others had tread. Sitting on a bench in the grass I watched the sun set and basked in the silence. It was this silence that pushed me to think about my future. I saw beyond the corner now, and the future I had just avoided led only to more twists and turns. I would return to it, undoubtedly, but taking my time to sit in a moment, one which was unique, was far more important than rushing into the future and wasting the time I had. Among the silence, the birds were watching from their high perches, the crickets sat still in the grass, and the trees stood like sentinels along the trail. It was in this silence, this hushed calm, that I was at ease, not looking ahead to the future, or recollecting the past, just enjoying now.