Summer of 2006

Summer of 2006
The New York State
Summer Young Writers Institute
he New York State Summer
Young Writers Institute
(NYSSYWI), sponsored jointly by
the New York State Writers Institute
at the University at Albany and the
Silver Bay YMCA of the Adirondacks,
is a week-long, intensive creative
writing workshop for students who
attend high schools in New York
State. Now in its 9th year, NYSSYWI
is held the first week in July at the
Silver Bay Association YMCA
Conference and Training Center in
Silver Bay, on Lake George.
Thirty students are chosen each
year from approximately 100 applications, and these young writers
work with three professional writers
to produce new poems, stories, and
imaginative essays during the week
they are at Silver Bay. Admission is
determined by evaluation of original
creative writing samples submitted
by the student applicants.
Apart from participating in three
classes each day, students usually
hear visiting writers who appear in
the Writer’s Voice Readings by the
Bay series, and they have also
attended the Writers Institute’s summer program at Skidmore College
in Saratoga Springs a number of
times to meet with nationallyprominent writers. For the last two
years, Darin Strauss, author of
Chang and Eng and The Real McCoy,
has traveled to Silver Bay to read
and to work with NYSSYWI writers.
Our goal is to bring talented high
school writers into a relaxing, inspirational environment with professional writers, offer them recognition and respect for what they have
already accomplished, and encourage them to develop new work and
to grow as writers. The combination
of instant bonding with peers and
getting to do what they enjoy doing
on the shores of a beautiful lake in
the heart of the Adirondack
Mountains – where, when they’re
not writing, they can swim, use
canoes and kayaks, hike, sail, and
play tennis – has produced lasting
friendships and wonderful new
writing for the last eight years.
What you hold in your hands, this
anthology, presents the best of what
our NYSSYWI students produced in
early July of 2006. Interspersed are
images from the summer session
and comments from the students on
their experience. In a short period of
time, with pieces to produce in three
different genres for three demanding teachers, these students created
work that are funny, moving, troubling, dramatic and, finally, remarkable in a number of ways. It was our
pleasure to watch as these poems
and stories emerged at Silver Bay,
and it’s your pleasure to discover
them here.
For additional information about
the New York State Summer Young
Writers Institute, please contact:
Kim Riper or Jennifer Mattison
Silver Bay YMCA
87 Silver Bay Road
Silver Bay, NY 12874-9708
(x 243 for Kim and x 206
for Jennifer)
Applications may be requested
from the Silver Bay YMCA of the
Adirondacks, or downloaded from
the Writers Institute website at
William Patrick
Young Writers |1
Summer 2006 Faculty
KATHLEEN AGUERO is the author of three volumes of poetry, Daughter Of
(Cedar Hill Books, 2004), The Real Weather (Hanging Loose Press, 1987) and
Thirsty Day (Alice James Books, 1977), and co-editor with Marie Harris of An Ear
to the Ground: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry (University of Georgia Press,
1989) and A Gift of Tongues: Critical Challenges in Contemporary American Poetry
(University of Georgia Press, 1987). She is the editor of Daily Fare: Essays from the
Multicultural Experience, (1993) also from the University of Georgia Press. She has
taught writing to students in grades K–12 in the Poets in the Schools Programs in
Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Presently she is an assistant professor at Pine
Manor College in Chestnut Hill, MA.
ROBERT MINER has written for the Village Voice, the New York Times, the
Washington Post, Esquire, Redbook, Glamour, Parents, Outside, Self, and People. His
first novel, Mothers Day, was about a single father—an outsider’s view of motherhood from the emotional inside—and critics called it “fearless and original.”
WILLIAM B. PATRICK, who founded and teaches at the New York State Summer
Young Writers Institute, is a writer whose works have been published or produced
in several genres: poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, screenwriting, and drama.
Saving Troy, his creative non-fiction chronicle of a year spent living and riding
with professional firefighters and paramedics, was published in December, 2005.
His memoir in poetry, We Didn’t Come Here for This, was published by BOA
Editions in 1999. Kirkus Reviews called the book a “marvelous memoir-in-poetry
and a wonderful hybrid, written in a voice that’s compassionate, fresh and
American, without ever proclaiming itself such.” An earlier collection of Mr.
Patrick’s poetry, These Upraised Hands, also published by BOA Editions in 1995, is
a book of narrative poems and dramatic monologues. Patrick’s novel, Roxa: Voices of the Culver Family, won the
1990 Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award for the best first work of fiction. He works each year with
middle and high school students in the Adirondacks for The Writer’s Voice at Silver Bay.
Young Writers |2
Corduroy Pants
By Hannah Bewsher
when it’s hot out. . . and because of
the waled cling of them, I was
thirsty, but to get wet and cool, not
to drink. Before my mind even tried
to catch up, I was walking towards
the lake. Along the way things just
fell off of me. My shoes were the
first to go, left hanging on a fence
post, dripping. It was the trail that
led down to the Greek Place; that
nostalgic wind tunnel that I can’t
stay away from for more than a few
hours. Then at the edge of the beach
my notebook was left pinned
between two liken-covered rocks.
I finally stood under the cool
dome of the memorial, my jeans
rolled up past my knees, trying to
make them as un-corduroy as possible. After only minutes by the water
I was in, unable to reason with the
five-year-old girl in me that would
rather be wet now, then suffer the
cold walk back. A speedboat
hummed by and I watched the wake
roll in, daring it to leap up on me
like an untrained dog’s, wet, sandy
paws. The off-white foam clung to
the fabric of my pants and the hem
of my T-shirt. I slapped the water as
it rolled in, smiling despite myself.
Nearly up to my waist and navigating the rounded, marble-like rocks
with catfish feet; my toes nosing
around for stable footing. And that’s
how I walked, waist deep and
unwilling to stumble onto the beach
until the very last minute, until I
wasn’t thirsty any more.
When I did come out, dripping,
grinning, the sand clung to my feet,
feeling oddly soft after the rocks and
current. I started to walk back the
way I’d come, gathering myself up
again. I kicked the rock off of my
notebook, and scooped it up, then
grabbed my now warm bottle of
water. With one finger, I hooked my
sandals off the post as I trotted by.
As I walked back I found myself cutting across the lawn, and came to
the cool stone barrier of the
labyrinth. I stopped in the damp
grass and looked down at the worn
earth and the bricks lain deep. I
dropped my things on the ground
and left them as I let myself be
shepherded inward.
It was strangely comforting.
Summer’s events just melted off of
me with each step. I wasn’t a teacher.
I wasn’t a leader. I wasn’t a writer, or
an artist. I was stripped down as I
walked, losing pieces of myself and I
felt light, new.
My foot pressed down in the soft
earth in the center of the circle. I
looked up at the moon. It was milky
and pregnant, fertile with wide,
smooth hips. A pine tree towered
over me, and as I started to walk
straight from the center towards the
wide trunk, the sound of wet corduroy brushed with each step. Then
I heard the rustle of dry feathers
behind me, and I turned. Two young
crows, hoppers, we used to call
them. Just old enough to fly a little,
but not with any strength of stamina, they simply hop around in the
tree, clapping wings and squatting
to beg food from patient parents.
They walked slowly, with a reptilian swagger and they watched me
with beaded eyes. Hardly five feet
from me, the two handsome birds
and I stood for a moment in the circle. The smaller of the two carefully
picked up a piece of woody mulch
and flicked it into the air, simply to
watch it fall I assumed. He did it several more times as I watched in quiet
humor. The other bird made eye
contact with me for a few rhythmic
seconds; enough time to see soul
behind those amber-rimmed eyes.
The mother swooped down, landing like a wave. She bounced a few
steps on the gravel before muttering
in harsh whispers to the two young
crows. Taking up my things I walked
away and as I started down the hill at
a quick clip, my damp pants started
again, that damned corduroy noise
and I heard flapping behind me. I
turned to find the two hoppers trotting after me, their mother striding
on long legs after them, like an elegant woman in a sleek, black dress.
At that point, I really could only
laugh, and they held interest much
longer than I’d expected them to,
following me a third of the way
down the hill before their mother
grew nervous and called them back
with a hollow, throaty chuckle. They
leapt and flapped back up the hill,
looking to all the world like any
other child on the beach. „
. . . the people who attend NYSSYWI are
some of the most creative, down-toearth, and wonderfully eccentric teens
that can be found in New York State. I
was awed by the talent of both the faculty and the participants, and Silver
Bay will always be remembered as one
of the best experiences of my life.
— Lily Ringler
Young Writers |3
When the Sky Opens Up, Will the Rough Waters Rise?
By Kate Bosek-Sills
The sky opened up that beach evening
As we ate imported fish and rice
Under the umbrellas
Advertising a brand of water
The place didn’t even carry.
The sky opened up, but not as a holy spectacle:
The light that people claim to see
When they’re alone.
I got that lightheaded feeling you get
When you stand up too fast
But instead of the feeling being in my head
My chest decided to claim the sensation.
The wind blew stronger and the water looked as if it had been replaced by a shaded green algae
We thought of going back in
But quickly let that idea sink to the bottom of the lake.
Before, only an hour,
The water met me ten feet down
From the wooden pier for the first time.
We worried about the undertow on the other side
And the rocks that protruded from the water’s
Fluctuating surface like the wrinkles
In tree bark.
My chest felt light then, too.
Adrenaline filled my body
As my feet teetered apprehensively on the edge
Filled with a nervous air
Like a child’s first time down the metal hill
Shrieking screams echoing in the open air
High-pitched laughter chiming as it halts to a stop.
I screamed.
I jumped into the water.
I laughed.
I jumped again.
Then the wind began to scrape
The top layer of chill from the water
And coat our bodies like a paint primer.
We made for commercial ground.
The sky opened up that night
We could still smell the algae and the sand
As the sun dripped into the horizon,
The moon found a detour around the downpour of sun.
The moon battled for attention with the opening sky,
But retreated in shame,
It’s beauty now a normalcy
As all eyes now focused on the hole in the sky.
I cannot even describe what it looked like,
But over the road, Lake Avenue,
Blacks, burned red, and scalded yellows mixed together
To form a break.
A hole.
An opening.
Young Writers |4
By Laura Colaneri
My best friend is
The full moon sailing across the sky, shining brightly
Sometimes obscured by clouds.
The stars, forming their patterns and pictures,
Two fish dancing.
The sun, shining brightly, smiling wildly,
Then taking its leave, giving her other side, the moon, a chance.
She is not the planets, forever orbiting,
She is that which watches over and controls the orbit.
Once more, she is the stars,
Winking, mysterious secrets never to be told,
She fills up the vast emptiness with light,
And then creates the dark, and resides within it
Many parts forever coexisting, opposite, in balance,
The moon and the sun fall in love with Earth’s shaggy green hair.
Young Writers |5
Third Sister
By Michele Colley
Katie is
Strange music
From another room
Pop music
Played sideways by angels
Nursery rhymes
Backward in Latin
An operetta
Completely in gibberish
Katie is
A creature
A bunny
On speed
A tick
With a grudge
A butterfly that bites
Young Writers |6
By John Francis Dieterle
ages. He was unaware of when she
began to appear everywhere he
spent his time, but he immediately
began examining every detail of her.
He had stared longingly at every
part of her that he could absorb,
cherish, and obsess over: her thin,
sloping shoulders; her slender, white
neck; her fiery hair; and anything
else that would fuel his ridiculous
masturbatory fantasies. This obsessive ogling had only sated him for so
long before he craved the warmth of
her body, the touch of her slender
fingers, and the feel of her smooth
skin in his hands.
He found out that she was a waitress at a coffeehouse near the used
bookstore he worked at. He had
never bought coffee there because it
was too expensive for him. He had
glanced into the window, longingly
staring at the food he could not
afford to buy when he saw her busing a table with a smile that warmed
him in the cold weather around
him. He paused for a while and
stared into the window. He left after
a few minutes of watching through
the window; it was cold outside.
One day after leaving his job he
passed by the coffee shop again and
saw her. Giving into temptation, he
ran into the shop. “Money be
damned!” he thought with an
inward grimace. He ordered a cheap
coffee from her and opened the
book that he was reading. He’d forgotten almost everything from the
time that she came back with the
coffee to the end of his stay at the
shop. All he remembered was the
sensation of extreme nervousness
and that she accepted an invitation
to take a walk in the park with him.
Words of triumph rang in his head
upon this acceptance; his mind was
so overpowered by this acceptance
that he almost couldn’t believe it. He
waited for her shift to finish so that
they could walk through the park
together; every minute was agonizing torture to him. The thought of
being able to view her beauty up
close only extended the feeling of
agony in every minute and second
he had to wait.
While walking through the park
he noticed a physical attribute that
he had missed: her mouth. Her full
lips opened into a cave of red whenever she spoke. He caught himself
staring into it when he saw her
yawning; it was everywhere, swallowing him whole. He expected that
when he touched those lips with his
own and he entered her mouth that
a sensation of undeniable, eternal
bliss would come over him and
make him feel complete. There was
nothing beyond her mouth to him.
After walking in the park for a
while she said that she was tired and
cally tried to feel what he had wanted to. He searched the girl’s face for
the feeling he had longed to feel. An
eternity passed and still nothing
happened. He gazed at her pure,
white skin, which once held all of
his dreams and fantasies. Nothing.
Her blazing, red hair that was seared
into his mind and once ignited his
dreams brushed against his arms as
it did in his fantasies. Nothing. He
felt her breasts pushing against his
chest, her thin waist in his hands,
her cool hands pressing against his
cheeks, her shapely legs knocking
against his. Nothing. All was as he
had dreamed it, except that there
was no feeling of completion. The
sensations of failure, of misplaced
hopes, and misery overwhelmed
I started coming here three years
ago and in that time so much of my
development as a writer and even as
a person has been due to one week
every summer on the Silver Bay
campus. I hope the ‘next generation’
enjoys this place as much as I have.
— Caitlin Sahm
wanted to sit down to rest her legs.
They sat down on a bench and she
turned to him, grasping his shoulders and gently pulling him to her.
He succumbed to her and greedily
ran his eyes over everything he had
wanted and now possessed. She was
now so close to him that he could
see all of her pearl white teeth as her
pink tongue formed words that fell
on his deaf ears. As he drew closer to
her he inhaled and treasured her
scent. He saw her eyelids pull over
her cloudy blue eyes, and he began to
close his eyes in anticipation. His lips
met with hers and he felt...nothing.
His eyes shot open and he franti-
him. Her every action had built up
his hopes and, in a moment,
quashed them.
After what seemed a lifetime of
hopelessly struggling through this
desolate landscape, they broke apart.
Her left hand slipped to his chest as
her right slid to his shoulder and
her lips curled in a faint smile as she
surveyed his face. She lifted his chin
up after he turned his face downward, ashamed. His eyes stared
straight through her. Her hands slid
down his body into her lap. A feeling of horror boiled up to the surface in him as the girl’s eyes welled
up with tears. „
Young Writers |7
by Jason Fishel
15 April 2005
Dearest Margaret,
I know you told me to wait until
you get back from Bermuda, but
Bobby just wouldn’t stop his nagging. You were right. With you gone
I’m starting to appreciate all you
have to do as a mother. Don’t rub it
in. For something to happen now,
while you’re gone, is exactly what I
don’t need, thank you very much. So
anyway, our boy now has a new pet
turtle, you know, the little striped
ones. I had one of those little guys
when I was a kid; they were so popular around the town, I just had to
have one. I got Bobby’s at that pet
store off Elm, you know the one. I
hope you aren’t mad; he’ll probably
want a dog next! Well, I’m sure he’ll
take good care of it anyway. You
know I’m not much with words, but
I may as well keep on e-mailing you.
Talk to you soon, Maggie, and tell
me how the trip’s going.
16 April 2005
I saw the strangest thing on the
news today, especially with Bobby
just getting his turtle and all. The
anchor said that the sale of turtles
was made illegal by the FDA since
the Seventies, only a little while after
we had our own turtles. Anyway, the
newsman said that these days, people have been selling turtles illegally!
The guy at the pet store said he had
the turtles around for educational
purposes, which I guess is probably
legal. I don’t know. I wonder if the
little guy is contraband! What a
hoot that is! But really, what you
told me is just plain wrong. I know
you get crazy about these sorts of
things, worried mother, sure, but
there’s nothing harmful about letting our boy have a pet. It’s very
clean, really, and it doesn’t take
much maintenance at all. Now that
you’ve heard this, don’t you go and
get all worked up about how you
Young Writers |8
think I could have broken a law. It’s
not worth it for either of us. Enjoy
your vacation, sit through your
medical conference, and don’t worry
about silly things like you sometimes find yourself doing. You’ll find
out you can trust me as soon as you
start giving me chances to prove
it again.
17 April 2005
No time to write, sending you one
just so you don’t worry. Bobby’s
puking all over, so more later. I
promise. Everything is fine, the
chaos’ll pass quickly. Just forget
about it and put your mind on the
simple pleasures of the Caribbean.
17 April 2005
Sorry about the one earlier today. I
was. . . well, I was stressed. Bobby
came down with something. Now
don’t get worrying about this. I was
reading that last e-mail you sent me,
and you got downright rude. If anything, anything at all, made me
think I needed you here, I would tell
you. I can handle it. It looks like a
stomach flu, and it’ll pass quickly I
bet. He’s been throwing up real bad,
and he’s running a fever now. I
think. I can’t find the goddamn
thermometer. I’ve got him in bed
now, he says he’s feeling better.
Missing you. Really.
18 April 2005
Bobby’s in the hospital. Now hold
on. For Christ’s sake, don’t come
home on account of this. You have
work to do, I’m sure. His doctor, Dr.
Fox, tells me the symptoms look a
lot like salmonella (he’s having diarrhea now, too). She’s not an expert,
but she’s seen it before, in an eightyyear-old woman and a couple of
kids like Bobby. Besides, she tested
his poop, and I guess the right bacteria were in it. She says it could be
from a reptile or like uncooked eggs
or something. I didn’t tell her about
the turtles. I could probably get in
trouble for that. This thing with
Bobby’ll pass. What we definitely
don’t want is a lawsuit on our hands.
Do they do lawsuits for turtles? I bet
they do. You see the dilemma, I’m
sure. Don’t worry too much about
what could happen to me.
19 April 2005
God damn it, Margaret, I know
you’re worried! I told you he’ll
probably be fine. What else do you
want? For now, we have bigger concerns, I’m sure you realize. Both of
us. We need to lose that fucking turtle. I’ve obviously learned why the
turtles shouldn’t be sold illegally. I’m
so glad you took the time to point
that out to me, but I bet the cops
won’t want to hear that. I’m leaving
Bobby alone in the hospital now,
and I’m ditching that turtle. Wish
me luck, babe. Wish me luck. You’ll
see. I’ll get things back to normal all
by myself.
Author’s Note: Frank’s general incompetence would arise again and again
in his marriage to Margaret, and
eventually would lead to their
divorce. In his grief, he would turn
himself in for his illegal turtle trade.
He could get anywhere from twentyfive years to life in prison; the case is
working its way up to the Supreme
Court. Bobby would recover from his
bout with salmonella, and would
soon travel to the armpit of Ohio to
live with his mother and her new
boyfriend. It is there that he would
meet Lee Jolley, and the two would, in
the not so distant future, form one of
the most successful cage fighting tag
teams in the history of the Ultimate
Fighting Championships. „
By Vivian Foung
She’s back in the rain again. Crazy
girl. She’s all wet—god, her jeans
have even changed color. They’re
like one of those shading boxes,
where you make each box increasingly darker. I guess she stepped into a
few rain puddles, which, by the looks
of it, are quickly becoming pools.
I wonder why she’s always out
here, dancing in the rain? Well I say
dancing but it’s not really dancing—
it’s more of a jump outside-put up
your arms-spin around till you fall
to the ground dizzy type of dancing.
So mostly she’s just spinning in the
rain. Like a sprinkler.
But honestly. What appeal does
being a sprinkler have for her? You’re
being covered in water, which can’t
be pleasant. Which is, in fact, what is
happening to her right now. Her
shirt and jeans are wet—the shirt
looks like it’s sticking to her, it’s that
soaked, and her jeans are peppered
with raindrops (and of course, there
is the radical change of color from
light blue to black as you look down
her jeans). I mean, she is wet. The
most typical adjectives following that
word are cold and miserable.
But I’m watching her now, and it
looks like she’s almost happy. Maybe
she is happy. Could that possibly be?
Could she really be happy even with
a soaked T-shirt and jeans that are
splattered with rain? Well if she is
happy, she isn’t alone. The weather
is happy too. It sounds a bit weird,
but it is. The rain is a sun shower, so
the sky is light and the sun is shining. I’m half expecting to see a rainbow jump out of the sky. If the
weather can be happy, then maybe
she could be too.
However, doesn’t she know that
she could catch pneumonia and die?
Does she want to die? How horrible
would that be?! When you’re born,
what you do is live, not attempt to
die. By dancing in the rain. That
sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? Girl
dies by rain. It would be an interesting headline though.
I guess she really doesn’t care
though. It’s almost like she doesn’t
care that she could die. She doesn’t
care that she’s soaked. That dancing
in the rain has no distinguishable
appeal. So what on earth is
she thinking?
Well, I suppose that you COULD
say that she is living in the moment.
Aren’t all the therapists encouraging
us to do that? Live in the moment.
Don’t think about what happens
next. Don’t consider the consequences. I mean, it’s risky, but it’s
true. And it looks like she believes it.
Oh, the rain is stopping now—yep,
it’s definitely slowing down. And now
it’s gone. Aww. The girl looks so sad.
Oh wait, no—those aren’t tears,
they’re just the leftover drops from
the rain. Yep, she’s smiling now. A lot.
That’s a really wide smile actually.
Who knew a mouth could stretch
that far? But anyway. So I guess then,
that it is safe to say that she is happy.
She was happy when she was dancing
in the rain, soaking wet, feeling the
raindrops hitting her face. And she is
happy even when the rain has
stopped falling. „
Young Writers |9
Memorable Experience
by Audrey L. Henkels
senior Chris Leon, wailing his arms
to emphasize the fact that he was
open. Tall, burly, blonde, smart, a
tremendous athlete, a legend of his
own sort, it was surprising that he
was not covered by at least five of
his opponents. As the white disc
sailed high overhead, chucked by
Rajiv, an intense, short, Indian kid,
with all his might, three of the
members of the other team began
sprinting towards Chris to rectify
this error.
Chris ran backwards, looking up
at the frisbee flying above while
simultaneously glancing around
Young Writers |10
him at the uneven ground, the grass
slope, the nearby trees, the bright
sun, and then the quickly approaching Stephen and Marissa. Jumping
up at the key moment, swatting
away Stephen’s arms with his left
hand, and extending his right fingers high toward the sky, he made
the picture perfect catch. He and his
teammates started to cheer as they
had just made their sixth touchdown of the game, putting them
ahead of us by one point.
Sighing, I turned away to jog over
toward my team’s side of the field,
my light blue T-shirt already soaked
with sweat from our earlier six-mile
run. Stephen threw the frisbee, his
powerful biceps flexing as he flung
and released the plastic object, starting off the next round of this
fevered game of Ultimate Frisbee. As
I ran forward, instinctively following
the trail of the disc like a newborn
bird follows her mother, my
thoughts began to drift.
Tonight was the first high school
dance of the year, and as a mere
freshman, I was looking forward to
finally graduating from the awkward
stage of cooties and sitting on the
bleachers and passing notes through
your friends to ask someone to
dance. I had heard that at the high
school dances, everyone dances during the slow songs, and it wasn’t a
big deal. Middle school boys were
just silly, I thought, as I absentmindedly bent down to tie the laces
of my Asics running shoes. A few
seconds later, I popped back up,
now contemplating possible outfit
combinations for tonight. Maybe I
could wear that three-quarters silver
top I have, I thought, with my darker jeans, or maybe —
Wham! A white blurry object
flashed before my eyes and my head
exploded in pain. “Ow!” I screamed,
inhaling sharply.
As I stared ahead in shock, I saw
Chris’s face about a foot from mine,
his mouth slowly dropping open
from an expression of grim determination to a round “O” of apologetic
surprise. Seeing his right arm, still
extended but unconsciously lowering to his side as if disconnected
from his body, I realized that it was
the hard rounded edge of the frisbee
that had just smashed into my face. I
guess Chris had failed to register me
as an obstacle in his path of destruction as he had wound up to sling the
disc to some far away destination
behind me.
I staggered backwards from the
force of the impact as blood began
to spurt out of my nose. I desperately jammed my fingers below my
nostrils to try and stem the flow as a
pounding began that resounded
throughout my skull, taking over my
entire mind. All of a sudden, I realized Chris was saying something—an
apology, I think—and then so was
my friend Marissa, who had suddenly appeared in front of me, but I
couldn’t hear either of them, my
senses were so dulled by the pain.
I fell to me knees, then to my
back, the grass soft and fragrant and
cool in the shade. I noticed my peers
paused a moment to stare at me but
quickly loose interest like two-yearolds being distracted by a swinging
mobile as they took off sprinting,
following the frisbee. The plastic
disc glinted in the sun as it glided
away from my suddenly quiet sanctuary under the tall trees. The far
away voices were now only dim
shouts in the distance as I was overwhelmed by the comfortable patch
of grass in the dark, now almost
black, shade.
I awoke a few minutes later to see
Jessie, my cross-country coach, knelt
by my side, peering into my face to
see if I was all right. “Audrey,” she
said softly, prodding my arm in a
not-so-gentle manner, “it’s time to
run back.”
“What?” I said groggily, not comprehending.
“Practice is over, it’s nearly 5
o’clock,” she said. “We have to head
back to the school now.” As I slowly
sat up I realized that my teammates
had stopped playing Frisbee and were
dispersed throughout the field, gathering up their T-shirts, socks, and
sneakers which they had removed
during the course of the game.
“Jessie,” I began weakly, gingerly
touching my nose and wincing subsequently due to the intense pain it
caused me, “I can’t run back! I can
barely even sit up.”
“The rest of the team is running
back now,” she argued sternly. “I
expect you to join us, even with a
bloody nose.”
As I slowly began the surprisingly
difficult process of standing up,
Lady Luck intervened on my behalf,
saving me from the task of running
a mile-and-a-half back to the school
with my head exploding in pain.
“Audrey?” said a voice who I
quickly identified as belonging to
the mother of one of my best
friends, who works at the nearby
hospital as an Ear, Nose, and Throat
doctor. “Oh my gosh, what happened?” she gushed in surprise as I
turned and she saw my face spattered with blood.
“I, the frisbee, it—” I stuttered,
unable to make coherent sentences.
“Oh, your nose!” squealed Dr.
Fisher as she began studying my face
simply to rest.”
Dr. Fisher finally seemed to
acknowledge that I existed. “Audrey,”
she began dramatically and I felt my
breath catch in my throat, “it
appears to me that you have broken
your nose.”
Now this was the moment when
my response differed from that of
most people. As Dr. Fisher rattled on
about how I should schedule an
appointment with her as soon as
possible, I suddenly came to the
realization that I was strangely
proud of the fact that I had a war
wound from Ultimate Frisbee. I
finally had an injury that required a
These classes have been far better than
any other classes I’ve had. They let you
learn to tap into your creativity at will
and come up with amazing pieces of
work. The strongest aspects were relating to us at the equal level and giving us
advice, but letting up choose whether or
not to take it. This was an amazing experience. The camp was beautiful and inspirational and it was great that we got the
chance to meet other kids with the same
interests as ourselves who love writing.
— Laura Colaneri
with the thoroughness of a medically trained professional.
She lightly touched the sides, the
center, and—ouch!—the bridge of
my nose with her experienced fingers. Among her under-the-breath
mutterings, I caught the phrase,
“it’s broken.”
Ignoring me, she turned to my
coach. “This girl is in no condition
to run right now,” she said emphatically. “The best thing for her to do is
visit to the hospital. Although I was
briefly upset that I would be missing
the first high school dance, I realized
that there would be more dances to
come. And years later, when I was
eighty years old and sitting in a
rocking chair, I could fondly re-tell
the story of the day I broke my nose
during a game of Ultimate Frisbee. I
smiled; I could already tell it was
going to be a story I was not going
to get tired of recounting. „
Young Writers |11
By Liz Hennessy
Xylia asked suddenly.
“Oh, no,” Thomas said. “What
have they gotten themselves into
this time?’
The two of them had been preparing camp for the night, and Steven
and Bren were out getting firewood.
They had been gone for quite a
while; the sun had already settled far
beneath the canopy, casting ribbons
of pink and purple across the slate
sky. Besides their small clearing next
to the river, which contained hues
resulting from the mix of the pinkish sky and the green foliage, the
forest was a deep blue-green as if it
were deep within the sea.
Thomas and Xylia ran into the
woods where they had last seen
Steven and Bren enter.
“Just so you know,” Thomas said
Young Writers |12
to Xylia as they entered the forest, “it
would be a bad idea to shout their
names. Most likely, it won’t be them
that answer.”
“Thanks,” said Xylia, “but I
knew that.”
Once within the misty darkness of
the forest, Thomas suddenly produced a small orb, which emanated
soft blue light. Xylia came to the
conclusion that Thomas was a
mage—a human who has the ability
to manipulate the matter around
himself in any way possible by using
up the respective amount of energy.
Xylia, being an elf, had abilities similar to this human magic, but she
believed the Elven magic was more
Suddenly, Xylia heard a noise
coming from her right. She stopped
walking and listened closely. She
heard the sound again; a low rumble
that created vibrations in her bones,
and realized it was the snarl of
a beast.
“Thomas,” she whispered, signaling for him to come over. The two
of them sneaked slowly towards the
snarling. Pushing aside some leaves,
Xylia saw a full-grown gryphon. The
gryphon’s massive wings fluttered
with every other step of its great
paws. Its beak glistened in the rising
moonlight that filtered in through
the trees, and its eyes stared menacingly in the darkness. It was walking
in a circle around two small figures:
Steven and Bren. About three feet to
the left was what appeared to be the
gryphon’s nest.
“Those imbeciles,” Thomas said
quietly. “Leave it to my brother and
Bren to stumble across the nest of a
gryphon. You might want to step
back.” Xylia did so, though unwillingly. She had the feeling that
Thomas was patronizing her.
Reaching into his cloak, Thomas
pulled out a foot-long white stick:
his wand. Aiming his wand at the
gryphon, he sent a burst of flames
soaring past the gryphon’s head.
While the great beast was distracted,
Steven and Bren were able to escape
out of the nesting site, but they didn’t have long. A second later, the
gryphon had turned back around
and started after them. She spread
her wings and leapt a few feet into
the air, just below the canopy. Steven
and Bren broke out into a frantic
sprint. Thomas and Xylia jumped
out of the way as the gryphon flew
towards them, chasing their friends.
“Thomas, do something,” Xylia
said. However, looking over at him,
she realized his wand had snapped.
He no longer had the power to fight
a full-grown gryphon.
When Xylia turned back, she saw
that the gryphon had caught up to
Steven and Bren. She reached with
her talons and scooped Bren right
off of the ground, who in turn started screaming at Steven for help. As
the giant beast flew higher and higher, above the trees of the forest,
Steven prepared to shoot the creature down.
“Do not hurt the gryphon,” Xylia
said sternly. Steven looked at her in
surprise and anxiousness. “Help
your brother. I will take care of this
situation.” Steven did not know
how to respond, and so did as he
was told.
“An lamb a bheir, ‘s i a gheibh,”
Xylia whispered. That hand that
gives is the hand that gets. The
gryphon, only a second before, had
let go of Bren, sending him hurdling
towards the ground. At Xylia’s
request, after her initial greeting in
the form of an ancient proverb, the
branches of the trees moved in order
to catch him, and then to protect
him from the gryphon.
“What’s happening?” Bren yelled
from above.
“I am helping you,” Xylia replied
calmly. “Now let me concentrate”
The branches of the trees guided
Bren safely to the ground, twisting
and turning as if they were only thin
and flexible vines, while keeping the
ing Xylia just standing there,
unflinching, slowed down.
Cautiously, the creature walked
towards her. About two feet from
Xylia, it stopped and stared at her.
“Be at ease,” Xylia said calmly. “No
harm was meant. You and your eggs
are perfectly fine, and were never
The classes were very helpful. After
the first two days I was picking out
tons of things to fix in my writing… .
I wanted to get inspiration and to
strengthen my writing. I’ve achieved
both in a single week. … The atmosphere was very inspiring. I can
notice so many improvements in my
writing, and I’ve met some incredible
writers and friends. I hope I can be
lucky enough to experience it again!
— Elizabeth Hennessy
gryphon at bay. Once Bren was safely on the ground, Xylia had the
branches arranged so that a small
clearing was formed containing only
Xylia and the gryphon. Thorn bushes seemed to shuffle around, some
going so far as to completely separate themselves from the earth.
Other bushes and shrubs did the
same, forming secondary barriers on
either side of the thorn bushes.
Branches folded and crisscrossed to
create an overall dome-effect where
Xylia and the gryphon were standing.
Still in a furious rage, the gryphon
began to lunge at Xylia. Behind her,
Xylia could hear Steven, Bren, and
Thomas start to run to her, but Xylia
made sure that there was no way
into the clearing. In her defense
against the gryphon, Xylia simply
put up her hand. The gryphon, see-
intended to be in danger.” The
gryphon had slowly started walking
towards Xylia again. She looked
directly into Xylia’s eyes, as if testing
if Xylia were trustworthy. After a
moment, Xylia slowly raised her
hand once more and gently touched
the gryphon’s beak. The creature did
not flinch or shy away, but stood
there for a moment. Then, nodding
her head, she walked back to her
nesting site without so much as a
growl towards Steven and Bren.
Xylia relinquished her control of
the trees, and the forest resumed its
previous shape. Thomas, Steven, and
Bren instantly ran to her to see if she
was all right.
“Thank you,” Bren said after a
moment. Thomas and Steven nodded, and the group headed back to
their camp. „
Young Writers |13
Pottery Wheel
By Rebecca Hodder
It’s about balance,
you must get it
or you will be off-kilter the entire time.
If you get off center,
you’ll be lucky to have some crummy
cRoOKed little pot that looks like a second grade kid made it.
Most of the time, though,
you have to wipe down the wheel
the abused clay into reclaim,
start over again.
You try, with your bare hands
to force mud into the shape of your imagination.
It looks so easy to see someone else do it,
but the strength you need to make it work
astounds you absolutely
One slip, one careless moment of inattention,
and it all
and you think there’s nothing for it.
You’d better just scrap it all now
until someone shows you that it is possible
to make it all right.
Not exactly what you had meant to make, perhaps,
But something.
A mug becomes a flowerpot,
but at least it’s yours,
made by your hands,
your dreams.
Only once you learned to let go
Did you see what you could
Young Writers |14
Untitled Life
by Drew Keneally
alarm clock flashed as it sat on the
nightstand, and rang loudly, the
man in the adjacent bed hit it with
the palm of his hand, but rendered
an unsuccessful attempt. Twice more
and the alarm ceased, only to
reawaken him five minutes later.
The latter function was the only flaw
that he found in the use of the
snooze button. The man didn’t even
think of taking a shower, a task he
knew would numb his skin and
leave him in a desperate struggle for
the remainder of the day in order to
regain warmth. The small house he
lived in rarely provided warm water
during the winter, and last night was
unfathomably cold.
When he returned from brushing
his teeth he saw his wife heading
into the kitchen. He felt sorry for
waking her up at this ungodly hour.
He pulled a turtleneck over his head
with no need to stretch the collar as
the shirt was well worn; he then
stepped into a pair of jeans of a similar condition.
“I’m gonna take the dog out
honey!” He grumbled while slipping
on a pair of sneakers and struggled
with clipping the leash to the collar
of his old mutt.
Outside his steps crunched the
hardened snow underneath, and he
nearly slipped on a formation of ice
on the walkway. He frowned as he
thought of the arduous labor it
would take to scrape that off, and of
the ear-piercing sound of the metal
shovel against slate—a sound that
he knew all too well. Wrapping the
leash around his wrist he brought
his hands into a circle around his
mouth and blew into them, his
breath condensing in the thin, cold
air. The streetlights sprayed a dull
yellow light upon the ground every
few houses creating an eerie atmosphere on the deserted street, as well
as a long, disproportionate shadow
of a man holding his dog, the former standing on his toes to see how
big the shadow could get. His
puerile fun was abruptly halted by a
howling gust of wind finding its way
into every crevice of clothing, making the man feel as though he was
immersed in a suit made of snow.
“Come on boy! Hurry up! I’m
freezin’ my cheeks off out here.” The
man’s plea was answered with a
blank, unresponsive stare, and then
the dog turned and went on sniffing
the rock-hard ground.
In order to combat the intense
cold, he pulled a cigarette out of his
pocket, and stuck it between his lips
fusely and his father before him. It
was the only McCormack family
tradition that Gary knew about.
“Hey Gar?!” Gary’s wife shrieked
so loud he thought it would wake
the entire neighborhood, as if his
hadn’t already completed the task.
“Yeah hun?”
“What’s all the ruckus about?!”
The volume of her voice hadn’t lowered and he wanted to stick a sock
in her mouth.
“Nothin’ hun, just stepped in some
crap’s all.”
Three years ago my grandma clipped
an article out to the Times Journal saying, ‘This sounds right up Becca’s alley.
I’ve come back ever since. … These
three summers have changed my life,
given me a place to belong, and have
convinced me that it really is possible
to achieve my goals in writing.
— Rebecca Hodder
while he searched his remaining
pocket for a matchbook. This was a
ritual that he had followed every
morning since he told his wife that
he had quit. The wind threatened
and quickly extinguished the flames
of three matches. The fourth and
last one was dimming as he furiously tried to keep it alive just long
enough to transfer its warmth to the
cigarette still hanging from his lips.
“Ahh! Ratfuck!” Reacting to the
fourth and final failed attempt the
man expressed his anger by shouting a term that would seem strange
in comparison to the majority of the
population, most of whom simply
say a commonly used curse word
that easily arrives in their mind after
an unfortunate happening. His
father had sputtered the term pro-
“Well breakfast’s ready, come
inside before you catch pneumonia.
Oh, and take off your shoes before
you come in, I don’t want you trailing crap all over the house.” Her
shriek had lessened to more of a
yell, but that was enough to make a
few lights turn on. The noise had
been accentuated by the proximity
of the houses on the block; neighbors could hear fights, crying, and
sometimes even the sinful sounds of
bedroom escapades. If her shrill
voice had only woken up some, the
squirrel that darted out in front of
his dog finished the job.
“Ah Jup!” Gary whined as he knew
that he wouldn’t be able to hush his
dog as it defended its territory. “It’s
five-thirty in the freakin’ morning,
quit your barking and get inside!”
Young Writers |15
This plea, in fashion with his earlier
one left the dog unfazed, and did
not in the least bit hinder the
dog’s excitement.
The squirrel, most likely tricked
out of hibernation by a streak of
warm weather a couple of weeks
prior to his current run-in with
Jupiter, froze in the light emanating
from a window. He waited in a
standoff with the mutt seeing who
would make the first move.
Impatient, he scurried into a nearby
bush. Gary felt a hard jerk followed
almost instantly by a face full of
cold, wet, muddy slush, a sensation
that soon engulfed his entire body.
Without shouting any more obscenities, as he was already aware of the
awake condition of the rest of the
neighborhood, Gary mumbled to
himself as he trudged into his
house, stopping on the way to
acknowledge his neighbor, (who had
been shaking his head in the illumi-
Young Writers |16
nated window of his bedroom), with
a less than friendly hand gesture. He
stripped down quickly and braved
the menacing shower that awaited
him. After reemerging from the
frosty water, he proceeded to pull
on a double layer of long sleeve
shirts and added a pair of long
johns under another well-worn pair
of jeans.
The cracked, inhospitable leather
of the car seat was hard this morning and cold to the touch, proving
to be most uncomfortable as the
McCormack’s ‘87 Chevy creaked out
of the driveway and Gary began the
long drive to Park City. The latter
location, a Utah ski town that
housed the store that employed him,
was made famous by the renowned
Sundance Film festival, thus turning
the once humble ski village into a
thriving resort that is now synonymous with wealth, and the faces of
celebrities come directly to mind.
The establishment which Gary
managed—not the most prosperous
one in town, yet not the least—provided a stable job for Gary. His position handed him little authority, not
that he desired any and was about as
far as he would be able to go up the
corporate ladder and earn more
money, a fact to which he had
resigned himself. The money he
made did not allow him to lead a
prodigious life, and the frugal proprietor paid him even less during
the off-season. This money, along
with the money his wife made in
her baby-sitting ventures allowed
them to live a rather moderate
lifestyle; however, this life fell far
below the expectations that Gary
had ascertained when he had moved
to Park City nearly seven years ago.
He could view the mountain
around which the Park City Resort
had been built; it taunted him day
in and day out. Wanting to get the
capacious snowy hill out of his mind
he set to work on opening up the
store. He sighed and turned the sign
on the door so that a fading orange
print that said, “Closed” faced him.
When he came out here, he had
thought that the renowned mountain would be one that he would frequent; that was once his store took
off, of course. Now the massive peak
stood as a symbol of his failures, and
the adulteration of his love for skiing by his regretful inability to create
a thriving business. Now, as he was
forced to work as many hours as he
could in order to make ends meet,
the fruits of the powdery slope could
only be enjoyed on rare occasions.
He restocked the walls with some
newly arrived skis, placing the price
tag on each pair. Shaking his head,
Gary wondered what he could do
with the eleven hundred dollars
somebody would pay for the pair in
his hands. Would he purchase a glorious new water heater perhaps?
Maybe he and his wife could have
the financial stability to start a family? It was wishful thinking.
Now Gary tried on sunglasses,
looking into the mirror on a rotating pedestal that housed his sunglasses. He had to bend his knees in
order to look up to the mirror,
which pointed down. His face was
unshaven for several days, a custom
he rarely enjoyed doing, and thus
rarely took the time to do so. His
cheekbones and chin showed definition in a stern triangular shape giving the impression of a stolid sage,
not a child in a man’s body.
The sunglasses looked stupid, he
thought, they left a ring of white
around them due to the goggle tan
that darkened his face from the
cheeks down; however, the tan was
not as dark as he would have wanted. He felt a feeling of sophomoric
embarrassment as he had difficulty
navigating the glasses back into their
holster. When he looked up he saw
two kids staring back at him. They
wore guilty expressions on their
faces. Gary didn’t mind, the two
belts that the kids had stolen would
only be a blip on the inventory list.
The owner was already wealthy
beyond Gary’s wildest dreams and
also seemed to like him, almost
more than a friend, as she subtly
flirted with him during their last
meeting. The twenty-dollar loss
wouldn’t make the faintest difference in her obscenely large fortune.
It was a few minutes after the boys
left that Steve, the younger brother
of the two that worked in the store,
came in about an hour before Gary
had expected him.
“Oh, hey Mr. McCormack.” He was
not as energetic as he usually was
and there was a dull tone to go with
his unshaven face, greasy hair, and
sunglasses trying to cover his sleepy
bloodshot eyes.
“I told you not to call me that, I’m
Gary; besides I’m not that much
older than you. Where’s your brother
this morning? Still on the slopes?” He
didn’t like being an authority figure
as he had despised them most of his
life. The title made him become
something that he wasn’t, along with
making him feel old. But the politeness of the boys restrained them
from calling him by his first name
regardless of the months that they
had worked for him and the innumerable times that he has had to
reminded them what he wanted to be
called. The question regarding Steve’s
brother seemed to have cheered him
up out of his dreary attitude.
“Oh boy, you gotta hear this story
Mr. Uh, Gary. So we went to a party
last night, I have no idea how we got
there because we were already a little
buzzed, and it seemed like it was a
nice fancy party, but when we got in
there it was just a bunch of drunken
high school and college kids. There
was this huge round bar in the basement with every bottle of liquor
imaginable. Some asshole came up
to Eric and started giving him a
bunch of crap about being thereyou know to see who could.. .” Gary
cut him off, only briefly impeding
the young man’s unbridled enthusi-
asm regarding his recanting of the
previous night’s events.
“Yeah, yeah I know what it is, like I
said I’m not that old.” He felt old
just having to say that.
“So anyway, Eric and him are
doing shot after shot when the guy
just boots every where, I mean on
the kids next to him, on the bar,
puke was just everywhere. While all
this is going on Eric just starts tilting
back and forth, I mean I had to hold
him up so he wouldn’t fall down.
Right after I got him to the car he’s
just mumbling randomly, then he
starts shouting ‘stop, you gotta stop
man.’ So I stop the car and he opens
the door and just boots, couldn’t
even wait to get out of the car. I’m
going to save you from the details
but this morning I go to take a piss
and his arms are wrapped around
the toilet bowl, and he was sleeping
upright with his head on the toilet
seat. Funniest thing you’ll ever see, I
wish you’d been there.” Steve had
relaxed into his usual jovial attitude,
seeming to forget about the consequence to his head from the
exploitations from last night.
“Yeah, I wish I was, we have to give
him hell about it tomorrow—that is
if he’s not still in love with the crapper!” They laughed as they pictured
Eric’s misfortunes; however Gary
cringed as he thought of the times
that such unfavorable events had
happened to him.
Gary held Steve and Eric in a high
regard. They showed complete apathy toward concern about the
future, they worked a day and spent
the money at night. He looked at
Steve stretching out completely on
the bench designated for customers
to sit on while being fitted for boots.
He hadn’t bothered to take his hat
off, or his sunglasses, and one of his
legs dangled off of the side. His flat,
husky chest moved up and down
and he rubbed the hairy half beard
that grew from his face. The young
man was a mess, his boss thought,
and Gary wanted to be a mess. „
Young Writers |17
Second Redemption
By Jared Kenyon
the wind, incessantly pounding the
thatched roofs of the houses that lay
below. It came on a howling wind, a
long, low moaning groan, like the
outcries of a suffering land. The
downpour transformed the simple
dirt streets into muddy riverbeds,
the wheel ruts were the rivers. The
weather made the poor little town
seem even more dreary and rundown than usual.
Just on the edge of this depressing
little town was a small stone building, a prison. There was one guard
on duty, sleeping as usual, and
armed only with a nightstick and a
thin rapier. Next to him a small
stone staircase descended down just
underground, where there was a
heavy locked wooded door, with a
slot in the center for passing food
through. On the other side the slop
they fed as food lay untouched on
Young Writers |18
the floor, starting to smell as it had
been there for a few days now and
nobody was willing to come in and
clean it up. In the corner a figure sat
crouched, tracing symbols in the
dirt with his finger. His symbols
were created in a circular pattern;
the last characters he wrote stopped
just where his first symbols began.
He took a pinch of dust from the
center of the circle and stood up,
walking over to the door. He had a
slight limp and it looked like a
painful effort. There was a small
keyhole on his side of the door too,
apparently just in case a guard got
shut in he could let himself out. The
man bent over and put the pinch of
dust in his palm, leveling out his
hand just in front of the keyhole. He
blew on the dust, making it spiral
and float into the keyhole. He stood
up and a click was heard and the
door swung open. His face glowed
in the candle light coming from up
the stairs, illuminating his aged,
scarred face and the cataracts in his
misty eyes. He was blind but could
see more than most people.
The city burned and flames licked
the sky, a stark contrast against the
black night. The rain continued,
making the flames sputter and flicker, though doing nothing to stop the
blazes. Wood cracked and split,
sending up showers of sparks and
smoke. The screams of the people in
the village could be heard across the
town as their lives went up in smoke
and fire.
A man dressed in a black cloak
walked through the village, oblivious to what was going on around
him. A child ran up behind him, a
small boy looking for his parents.
The man in the black cloak stopped
and turned around slowly, looking
down at the boy. His eyes seemed to
glow red as cataracts reflected the
firelight. The little boy stood there,
unsure of what to think of this
strange looking man. The cloaked
figure raised a hand and the boy was
gone, all that remained was a
pathetically small charred corpse, a
perfect fit with the destruction of
the rest of the town. Turning back
around he continued his slow walk
through the town, his eyes unseeing,
burning with the same light of the
fires all around him. His black cloak
swirled around his body, as dark as
the night sky now shrouded in
smoke. He approached the edge of
the town and looked up. There was
a hill not far off, and the top of the
nearby forest could be seen just over
the crest. Nothing appeared. The
cloaked figure was silhouetted
against the burning flames. Then a
shadow appeared over the hill, just
cresting it and standing still at the
top. The eyes of the cloaked figure
flickered with a brief moment of
recognition, a mix of fear and anger.
The strange figure on the hill lifted
his hand and there was a brief flash
of light. „
The Ballet
By Carly L’Ecuyer
ocean. Instead of getting frantic
warnings to stay near the shore and
always keep by Mommy, I spent my
summers being tossed into the
waves by my stepfather at the beautiful beach my family had been visiting for fifty years. North Carolina
was more than just a vacation: it was
a home away from home, a place
that reeked of sunscreen and burnt
food, where I had grown, lost, and
become blonder by the day.
When I was seven and my cousin
Laura was ten, we spent most of
those sticky-hot months joyously
spinning in the ocean’s salty waves.
Ben, her five-year-old brother, usually came along. The scene was as
pretty as a postcard that day: a small
blonde boy playing in the sand with
his father, Peak, while two sun-burnt
girls in bright bathing suits shrieked
as water crept up their waists. The
day was steaming; I could almost see
the heat waves crawling over my
skin. The peaceful scene was interrupted, however, as an impromptu
calling distracted one of the main
“I’m going back to the cottage just - for - a - minute,” Peak called
out. I scooped up a handful of sand
from the bottom and watched it
slide through my fingers. “Watch
Ben, ok, girls? Laura?”
“Yes, Daddy!” Laura piped immediately, waving her arms. “Yes, we’re
watching him!”
“Just for a minute,” he repeated,
and dashed towards the direction of
the cottages.
Laura quickly turned back to me.
“OK,” she said, “now we’re going to
lie in the sun and start singing and
then a pirate ship will come along,
“No-o,” I protested, trying to float
on my back. “Not again. That’s what
we played yesterday.”
“I’m older, so I get to pick,” she
shot back, her soaking white-blonde
hair sticking to her face. She scowled
at me, arranging her features into
such a horrid, twisted display that I
backed down. Anyone who could
plunge himself into the water.
look that mean could definitely—
With a swirl of salty spray I had
well, I’d just let her win this one.
been sucked under once more. I
The two mermaids, first Annabella floated, blinking, jostled by the
and Sierra, then Augustine and
water, listening to the breath of the
Leanna, drifted with the waves as
ocean, rolling where the waves
Ben blissfully rushed ants on the
pleased to push me. It never
shore. The water kept getting colder
occurred to me to be scared, to
as we kicked with our ankles
panic, to fight against the powerful
crossed, being tossed by the waves.
source that caressed me.
Squinting up at the sun, which
Peak was next to me. He fought
looked miraculously like Grandma’s
against the waves, his sinewy arms
lemon drops, I suddenly wondered
cutting the water, his pink, bald
aloud what dinner
would be.
“I don’t know.
It was like school but cool.
Maybe barbequed
chicken!” Laura
— Sabrina Lopez
said hopefully,
dropping her
Augustine voice. “I’ll ask Daddy.”
head flashing in the sun, his face
She stopped dead. Staring behind
screwed up against the spray. He liftus, she seemed to slip in the water; I
ed me into his arms and I clung to
whirled around and felt my heart
him, but the water was over his
sink to the black bottom below. We
head, too. He threw me towards the
had, without knowing it, drifted
shore, panting, slipping towards the
much farther away from the beach
bottom, but the waves pulled me
than we had ever been allowed. The
back. Even as he swam towards his
shore was barely the size of my finsobbing, choking daughter, I was
ger, and Ben was only a pale dot
drifting towards the same circle of
against the sand dunes.
water he had saved me from.
Suddenly, Laura’s panicked, frozen
And over and over and over again
expression changed to horror with
he went, throwing each of us in turn
the speed of a gunshot and a pierconly to have us drift back again,
ing voice exploded from her tiny
both of us occasionally plunging
body. “DADDY!” she screamed,
under the surface … I caught flashes
though Peak was nowhere in sight.
of frantically pedaling white legs,
but it was overall much calmer and
I watched, horrified, as Ben leapt
cooler out of the air … the shifting
to his feet and zoomed toward the
shades of blues and greens, the seatiny black square that was the parkweed gently being tossed with me in
ing lot, beyond which was our
a tornado of bubbles … and, powerhouse. Laura’s screams echoed
less, I allowed the sea to carry me as
around my head, clouding the purr
it would, never believing that it
of the ocean. The undertow sudden- would deceive me and never push
ly yanked at my legs and I was
me gently towards the surface again.
pulled under, slipping out of chaos
And suddenly I was climbing,
into a quieter world of browns and
exhausted, onto the shore, falling
onto the sand, my quivering arms
I burst into air again. Peak was on
and legs covered with swirls of the
the beach, his barking voice minfine particles of the earth, my heartgling with Laura’s horrified peals of
beat slogging in my ears, breathing
terror. As though in slow motion, I
in the air and the sea and the sand
saw Peak jab a finger towards Ben,
and the whispers.„
clearly shouting, “Stay here!” and
Young Writers |19
Profile of Samantha
By Sabrina Lopez
Stalker Status
July 1, 2006
I have followed her from Albany all
the way to a place called Silver Bay.
Strange name but it is a strange
place. Now this girl I don’t know,
when I first saw her walking on the
street in Albany I knew I had to follow her and get to know her. But I
would never be able to actually talk
to her. I’ll wait until I have enough
information about her to get her to
be mine. Yes, well she is mine already
and she loves me but she doesn’t
know that yet. I have been watching
her for a while. With her small petite
and happy little ways I mean who
wouldn’t. She is like a doll. The dolls
my dad never let me play with when
I was little. The ones he would beat
me for. She even has blond hair just
like mommy. I miss mommy. She
used to make me feel special. But
daddy drove her away.... Stop! No
more thinking. I must watch.
July 2, 2006
I talked to her today! She makes
me feel special just like mommy. She
dropped her bag and I picked it up
and she said “Thanks.” Then I hid in
the bushes to watch her. She went
swimming and all her friends called
Young Writers |20
her Samantha and some were calling
her just Sam. Sam, wow what a pretty name. I found her nametag too.
She is with the young writer’s group.
I think that’s why she went to that
building on the hill. See Memorial.
Do they have classes? I asked the
receptionist at the inn and they told
me they are staying at Paine Hall
and they do have classes at See
Memorial. I followed her to Paine
Hall when she came back down
from See Memorial but I couldn’t
get too close. There were too many
people. But I know how to get over
there. I went there today when
everyone left to go back to See
Memorial and found it empty. I
copied the calendar on the board in
the front hall. I walked around the
whole house and found an easy way
to get to the roof on the second
floor. Maybe I will watch her at
night in her room. I can watch her
sleep and imagine myself sleeping
by her. Maybe I’ll even go in.
Sometimes I feel like she already
knows that I’m watching her and
she likes it. Yeah, and she loves me.
July 2, 2006 (nighttime)
I watched her while she ate dinner
today. I stole someone’s nametag to
get in and sat at the table right
For me, Silver Bay was like
being a spoon in a spoon
drawer. The only bummer
was that it was SO SHORT.
— Jason Fishel
behind her. She eats slowly and neat
not like the other sloppy girls. She
told this girl that when she got her
acceptance letter into the Silver Bay
program she hoped it would get her
answers. What does that mean? Well
I’m going to figure it out so I can
help her. Yes I can help her. OK.
Then I followed them back to Paine
Hall and found out she has a room
on the first floor. I watched her
through the window. The curtain
was open a little bit so now I know
where she keeps her clothes and
everything. She has a nice sense of
style. She dresses real pretty. Not like
the other girls.
July 3, 2006
When she went to breakfast I went
in her room. I lay in her bed. She
smells really good. Then I watched
her in class. This girl interviewed
her on why she was here and what
she does. I learned a lot. It’s so easy
to listen in on people here. They are
so trusting, so stupid no one pays
attention to behind under the window when they open it or crouching
in the trees. They are so stupid but
it’s easier for me to learn about
sweet Samantha. Well I learned that
she is so cool. She is fifteen and is
pro fiction and is not a big poet. She
likes writing short stories better
especially science fiction. Writing for
Samantha is a way for her to
explore. To explore her ideas of what
if ’s and could be’s about what the
world would be like if this happened
one way or if it happened another
way. She puts this exploration into
her writing so her stories turn out to
be open-ended science fiction stories. She puts her ideas, her neverending curiosity of what the future
could be like into her characters.
And oh she really feels and connects
with her characters. They are a part
of her as she is a part of them. I
would say she is the fire that lights
all of her tiny character candles. She
is so special. She brings the characters out of her mind onto paper and
brings them to life. She’s really
smart. When she gets an idea she
just goes with it. She simply goes
with the flow and starts to write. She
lets her eruption of questions and
theories burst from her and fall onto
the paper. She loses control. She is a
natural. She’ll make a perfect wife.
Maybe she can play with me the way
mommy did. Mommy made me
feel good.
July 4, 2006
The girl that interviewed
Samantha wrote a paper on her and
she said that my Sammy came to
Silver Bay Young Writer’s Institute in
search of an answer of some sort. I
know this because I saw the girl
throw out her paper in the garbage
and when everyone left I went back
in there to get it. It said she is in
search of an answer to give her stories meaning and most important of
all meaningful endings. She is trying
and desires to give a message to her
readers through her writing but she
doesn’t know exactly what message
and how to go about doing this. See
my Sammy is smart. But she wrote
Sammy has a flaw to her openended questions that are embedded
into her stories. But she doesn’t have
a flaw. She’s perfect. She just can’t
finish her stories, that’s all. She cannot find any kind of closure. To her,
her writing is just a bunch of meaningless stories. Stories with no message in them, stories with no point
in being read. The girl says she is a
lost writer. She is the greatest writer
and if she is lost I will help her find
out where she wants or needs to be.
And I will tell her, her writing
means a lot to me and that’s important. One day I’ll talk to her. Well
the girl also says the one reason she
keeps writing is to figure out what
she needs to say in her writing to
her readers. She needs to find out
exactly what she wants to tell the
world through her writing. I know
she’ll figure it out because my
Sammy is smart,really smart.
July 5, 2006
July 6, 2006 (nighttime)
I went through the teachers’ folders and found her story she sent in
to get in Silver Bay and I also found
out she is in group B. But group B is
more special than group A. It’s just
that no one knows it, so she’s not
second rate or anything. Her story is
really cool and the best. And it’s the
only story she thinks she finished. It
was a science fiction story about
earth in the future. It was about how
us humans got so overpopulated
that there wasn’t enough oxygen
because there weren’t enough trees.
So there wasn’t enough oxygen to
sustain us on the earth anymore. So
instead of the people waiting to die
out they decided to kill all the animals because they too were breathing air. They decided to keep two of
each like a Noah’s ark thing and kill
the rest but they weren’t going to tell
everyone I think. Well the curiosity
of the main character caused her to
stumble upon this information
because she never saw a dog before
and she followed one and found
out. The main character was a
young girl who now had to weigh
what had to be done in her mind.
Should the animal killing be carried
on or should a certain amount of
humans be killed? But it overwhelmed her and with her age there
was nothing she could do. But see
she finished one story so she can
finish another and she’s smarter
than I am but I’m smart too.
She read some of her work just
now. It’s way, way better than what
anyone else read aloud. I think I’m
going to sneak into her room tonight
and talk to her when no one is
around. It’s time. I think she’s ready.
July 6, 2006
I watched her swim again and she
looks really nice in her bathing suit.
She works really hard. She was
working really hard today. I watched
her talk to her friends and eat and
hang out and get dressed. I think
she knows I was in her window and
she wanted to tease me. But we
aren’t going to do anything until
we’re married. I watched her all day.
I wish I were hanging out with her.
Her friends don’t deserve her. She’s
too good for them. I deserve her, ME.
July 7, 2006
I hate her! I hate her! Wait, I’m
lying. I still love her but why did she
do that? I thought she loved me. I
went into her room last night, I lay
down next to her and started petting her pretty blond hair and when
she woke up, I said “Hey my little
Sammy.” Then she jumped out of
the bed and screamed asking me
what I was doing here and when I
told her, “I love you. Don’t you
remember me? We talked before. We
know each other.” She just started
screaming “I DON’T KNOW YOU!
grabbed her and held her and tried
making her quiet because if she
woke up everyone else they would
take her away from me like before. I
told her “Shhh, Sammy, it’s me, you
love me, I love you, we’re going to
be together forever. Remember?”
She kept on screaming and screaming and everyone came in and they
started hitting me like daddy and
she didn’t help me. She didn’t help
me. She just stood there and didn’t
help me at all. Then the cops came
and they took me away. Now I’m in
a van, all alone, without my Sammy.
Maybe she just didn’t remember.
Yeah, she must have just been too
sleepy and forgot and I scared her. I
knew I shouldn’t have woken her
up. It’s my fault but I’ll come back
to her. I’ll find her again. I won’t
keep my Sammy waiting. But I
know she loves me. She really does.
She does. „
Young Writers |21
Halley’s Comet
By Emma Loy-Santelli
parents. They were friendly...she
thought. They had taken care of her,
at least. After that she didn’t have
very many details. But they were
gone. She thought they had died,
but she wasn’t quite sure about that
either. Whatever had happened, she
had ended up on the streets, and
had been there for a while now.
Who knew how long? She had managed to stay alive, fortunately, sheltering wherever she could in the
winter, and stealing whatever she
could to survive.
At the moment it was food. She
knew where she could get it, too.
The supermarket was always promising. No one noticed her in the
crowd of people usually there. She
strode in through the front doors,
trying to appear confident, as if she
had a perfectly lawful reason to be
there. People glanced at her, but didn’t ask questions. She grabbed some
apples and stuffed them into her
large pockets. She left with a large
crowd. She never stole a lot of food.
Getting away with a little bit to eat
was better than getting caught. She
walked down the street, pulling out
an apple only when she was a few
blocks away from the supermarket.
She bit into it, savoring the taste
of survival, sweet in her mouth.
Food had saved her when nothing
else could.
As she ate her apple, she happened
to glance to the side. A particular
shop caught her eye and she paused.
The window was covered with a star
chart, and the writing above the
door that proclaimed the name of
the shop was in the process of being
painted, as if the painters had gone
off to lunch half-finished with their
job. She couldn’t read what it said.
She shoved her apple back into her
pocket and pushed the door open. It
seemed to have been newly oiled,
and didn’t make a sound as it swung
inward. Halley closed it behind her,
and looked around.
Young Writers |22
The shop was full of anything having to do with astronomy. Telescopes
were lined up against the wall, with
star charts spread out on tables. At
least ten shelves of astronomy books
stood against one of the walls. The
place was very clean, despite its
untidy appearance. The hardwood
floor shone, as if it had just been
washed. She walked carefully
through the store, worried that she
would end up knocking something
over and getting caught.There didn’t
seem to be anyone there, but she
had learned to be cautious anyway.
She slid past the bookshelves, and
found that there was another room
beyond the first. She made her way
towards it. It was just as cluttered as
the first room. She considered going
back, and leaving the shop, but as
she turned something in the second
room caught her eye. She crept closer to it. It was a glass globe, which
seemed to be a map of the solar system. Miniature versions of the planets moved inside, orbiting a small
version of the sun. She looked closer, and saw that small comets and
asteroids were swirling around
inside as well. She carefully put her
hand on it, and yelped as it slid right
through the glass, as if it was water.
She moved her hand around experimentally. Only one thing in the
globe seemed to be affected by this.
One of the comets moved slightly.
She moved her hand again and it
moved again. She started experimenting some more. She found
Earth and touched it, finding it to
be solid.
Somewhere out around Mars, a
comet suddenly sped up, moving
faster than seemed scientifically possible, heading towards Earth.
Halley looked quickly around the
shop. It was still deserted. She started to worry about her hand, still
stuck in the globe. She yanked at it,
but it didn’t move. She saw the
comet rapidly approaching Earth.
How did they all seem to float like
that, as if it really was space? She
yanked at her hand again, but it was
a futile effort. It was thoroughly
stuck. Why? She tried not to panic.
If she was caught, there wasn’t really
anywhere for her to run. The shop
was too cluttered to make a quick
escape. Her hand was starting to fall
asleep. She hoped the globe wasn’t
cutting off the circulation to it. She
wiggled it around a little bit. The
comet spun in a circle, then continued along its path.
Astronomers and sky-watchers
all over the world had begun to
notice a new celestial body in the
sky. It seemed to be growing larger
very rapidly.
Halley watched the miniature
comet in the globe absently. It had
almost reached Earth. She looked
around again.
The door was so quiet she didn’t
hear it open, but she heard footsteps
in the other room. She froze.
A large object entered Earth’s
atmosphere. Everyone had noticed it
too late. It was moving far too fast
for anything to be done. The human
race could just look on in horror.
The footsteps were closing in.
Halley considered smashing the
globe with her other fist, but was
worried that that would get caught
inside. She looked around for a
weapon, but everything was out of
reach. Except. . . She reached into
her pocket and grabbed one of her
apples. She stared at it, regretting the
loss of food, and flung it at the
globe. It shattered. The planets disintegrated.
She leapt backward.
In an event that scientists would
be debating for centuries to come,
the comet disappeared. It just vanished, like a dream.
Maybe that’s what it was. „
By Wenkai Ma
unpack as they set up camp. Dinner
was prepared and we had toasted to
our success. Merry mugs chimed, as
if to congratulate us for our triumph. I played and replayed the
same scene of our landing over and
over again in my head. It was so fortunate, so perfect.
Jeremy was playing ball with his
older sister, Nancy, in the backyard.
It was a small cramped space, but
Jeremy’s family lived in a suburban
area and there was nowhere else
to play.
Nancy threw the ball to Jeremy. It
went high over his head, and landed
behind the tool shed. A few pieces of
rusty sheet metal rested on the side
wall of the tool shed. Jeremy
squeezed in between the fence and
the tool shed to retrieve the ball,
now soiled by the mud that had
accumulated there.
Eager to continue his game with
Nancy, he rushed to squeeze through
the space that separated the tool
shed from the fence. This time however, he felt a sharp pain in his right
arm. He looked down and saw the
red cut on his white skin. The corner
of the piece of the sheet metal was
now stained crimson. Blood trickled
downward and stained the hem of
his vest.
We had waited on this piece of
sheet metal for ten days now. It was
moist here and we tried to enjoy the
weather, but we couldn’t because we
were hidden deep within the sheet
metal. If we came to the surface, the
oxygen would kill us. But after
today, it wouldn’t matter anymore,
because we would finally be moving
to a human body. I watched it as it
flashed past me. I alerted my squad.
“Get up! We might just get the
chance for an invasion today.”
We waited...waited...waited. But it
was gone. General Howard had told
us how humans were. They moved
quickly. Always strike when contact
is made.
Then we saw it coming back again.
We were to strike when contact is
made. But it was a dangerous operation. Even if we had successfully
landed, a chance of entering the
bloodstream itself was minimal.
To our surprise, we watched as the
human crashed into the sheet metal.
Blood gushed out of the depression
in the skin made by the metal. We
jumped into the bloodstream one by
one and it carried us into the body.
Jeremy was sitting on the ground;
Nancy sat next to him. “Nancy,
please don’t tell mommy I went back
behind the tool shed,” begged
Jeremy. “If she knows, she won’t let
us play in the backyard anymore.”
“I don’t know,” replied Nancy. “It’s
a pretty big cut. Here. Let me help
you put a Band-Aid over it.”
Phase I of our operation was complete. It was now time for Phase II.
We would dissolve toxin into the
bloodstream. The toxic blood would
disperse throughout the entire body,
causing it to become rigid and unresponsive to the nervous system.
Then we would take control of every
single cell, organ, bone, and muscle
of this body.
Jeremy was in gym class. His muscles felt stiff, especially his jaw. At
lunch he found it hard to eat
because it was just too tiring to
chew. The cut on his arm was itching, but it was painful to scratch it.
Jeremy tried to do his homework,
but he was too troubled by the cut
on his arm. The scratch was becom-
Young Writers |23
ing increasingly painful, and occasionally, he could feel his limbs
twitch; first his right leg, then his
left arm, right leg again, right arm.
He peeled the Band-Aid off his
arm. The gauze was soaked in blood
and pus. He threw the soggy bandage into his wastebasket and went
into the bathroom to see his cut in
the mirror.
He stood on the footstool beside
the sink. He raised his arm to see
the wound. It was red in the center,
with pus oozing out the sides. The
skin around the cut was purple.
persed well. Reconnaissance shows
that many muscles are starting to
stiffen including the jaw muscles
that control the main entrance to
the body. Soon, this body will be
ours. Soon.
Jeremy was in a small white room.
Plastic bags filled with liquid hung
over him. He was tired. He was laying down and his eyes were closed.
He could hear tires humming
underneath him and a siren blaring
outside. He inhaled the sterile air,
and fell asleep.
When he woke up, he was in
another room;
this one was
blue. He smelled
I had a lot of fun encountering
the familiar frapeople who are actually like
grance of his
mom’s perfume.
me. It was a deeply emotional
He turned and
saw her sitting
on the chair next
— anonymous
to him, fast
asleep. He shook
“Jeremy! Dinner!” He heard Nancy her and she woke up.
shout from downstairs. Jeremy didJust then, the doctor walked into
n’t feel like eating, not after seeing
the room.
that nasty injury on his arm.
“I’m glad that you’re awake,
“Jeremy!” Nancy shouted again.
Jeremy,” she said. “You’ll be fine, you
Jeremy felt sick. He tried to walk out just had some tetanus. We’ve given
of the bathroom and not look at the you a booster, some antibiotics, and
wound, but his legs became two
muscle relaxants. You’re going to
planks of wood, his knees unable to
have to stay in the hospital for a few
bend. He grabbed onto the towel
days, to make sure the bacteria are
hanger for support. His stomach
gone. Otherwise, you’re going to be
churned. He forced his stiff jaw to
just fine.”
open just as vomit erupted and
Jeremy’s mother waited until the
spilled on the floor.
doctor walked out of the room, and
He felt the ground shake a little. It
then she faced Jeremy. “Why didn’t
was his mother, coming up the stairs. you tell me about your cut when
“Jeremy, are you all right?” asked
you got it?” she asked.
his mother. “Why don’t you come
“I told Nancy about it,” Jeremy
down to dinner?” She walked into
replied. “She got me a Band-Aid.”
the open bathroom door and saw
“Well then, why didn’t Nancy tell
Jeremy standing there, vomit all over me about it? Did you tell her not to
the floor. The towel hanger he was
tell me?”
holding onto had snapped, and he
Jeremy looked down at his sheets.
was doubled over, clutching a broHe knew his mother was right. He
ken piece of plastic in his hand.
didn’t know that a simple cut could
All is well. Phase III shall come
be so serious. Tears welled in his eyes.
soon enough. We poured quite a
“Mommy I’m sorry,” he bawled. “I
large amount of toxin in the bloodpromise I will always tell you if I get
stream, and it all dissolved and dishurt. Mommy please, I’m sorry.”
Young Writers |24
Jeremy’s mother just smiled.
How could everything have gone
so wrong? Yesterday, we were on the
verge of commencing Phase III.
Now everything we have done is all
gone. The toxin in the blood has
somehow disappeared, and the
human’s muscles are moving voluntarily again.
“No,” I thought. “It can’t end now,
it just can’t. We have already gotten
so far.” I called to two of my soldiers.
“Bring the rest of the toxin to me.
We’re going to capture this body
once and for all.”
The vat of toxin was lugged out
and placed beside the river of blood.
With one shove, the toxin was
pushed into the river, vat and all.
This was it. The war had already
ended for us. It was either capture
the body...or death.
Jeremy felt great. He got up out of
the hospital bed and walked around
slowly. He felt freedom flow into his
limbs. He swung his arms in wide
arcs around and around, up and
down, side by side. Then a sharp
pain reminded him about the cut on
his arm. It was neatly bandaged;
clean gauze stuck there with surgical
tape. He sat down and turned on the
I am the last survivor in this body.
Everyone else has been killed in an
antibiotic attack. It’s over. The battle’s
over. The war’s over. We have lost.
I didn’t know how I was going to
report to General Howard that the
invasion was unsuccessful. It would
ruin his reputation…and mine. I
was not going back. There was only
one other choice.
I felt around on my belt and
found the sheath that held my combat knife. I pulled it out. I stroked
and caressed the cool metal one last
time. I gripped the rubber handle
tightly, and then plunged it into
myself. My cell wall tore and I felt
my cytoplasm pour out onto the
ground. I lay down and looked at
the dark ceiling. As I started to dissolve, I felt like I was floating. „
The Evidence
By Jenny Marion
Because I plow through so many mysteries
I have given up keeping the evidence straight
And it all sort of functions however I need it
To support this or that theory
Perhaps even the Big Explanation
The evidence I have gathered is portable and diverse
Flower buds that burst open when you tap their husks
The clouded moral codes of breakfast conversation
That silver filament below your painted-china eye
That I wrap around my pinky and hold up to the heavens
When the clouds are dark
The mysteries are, of course, unsolvable
No true detective would brag having found the right answer
When the camera is off
You’ll find them sitting on the floors of their offices
Building citadels out of teeth
Empty “Property of such-and-such Police Department” bags
Haphazardly strewn across the carpet.
Young Writers |25
By Emily Nichols
The first time I bit off the head of a dandelion,
I plugged my ears
With fingers sticky with sandbox splendor
So I wouldn’t hear it scream.
I didn’t even chew, only swallowed.
I swallowed the whole thing
And felt it giggle its way down my esophagus
While I spit bittersweet yellow from the
Crack between my teeth.
Bitter dribbled down my chin
And made cave paintings on my white shirt.
The bleach was shouting profanities,
But there was already a Mississippi rainbow;
The bitter was just the stinkle of frown
That dripped under their spurning scrutiny of those dirt-roading sunburns.
The rat-a-tat-tatting of their sing-song Chevy whine
Made hotdog and lemonade marionettes
Out of my dirt-encrusted toenails,
Ragged and singed with Speedy sauce and mustard.
Dancing on Wal-Mart bags to the inaudible din of
Red-rust harmonicas and itching heels.
Young Writers |26
The First Time a Cinderblock Fell on My Foot and
I Smashed My Head into a Brick Wall Because it Hurt So Much
By Jimmy O’Higgins
I was helping my friend move out of his house
He has so much weird stuff there.
Like this big heavy cinderblock.
He’s my friend and all, but I’m only helping him
Because his mom is paying me $30.
I pick up the cinderblock
(Why the fuck does he have a cinderblock?)
And I walk down the stairs
Out of the apartment, and onto
Atlantic Avenue with the cinderblock
Cinderblocks don’t look heavy
But cinderblocks are heavy.
It’s really cold. I’m freezing.
I drop the cinderblock on my foot.
I am wearing flip flops
(Why the fuck am I wearing flip flops?)
So my feet are cold.
After the cinderblock falls
On my foot, my foot is cold
And it is bleeding.
I scream really loud
And start running around
But I trip on the cinderblock
And smash my head into a brick wall
Which is part of a funeral parlor.
I black out before the paramedics come.
My friend still has the cinderblock in his new house.
Every time I see it, I say, “I hate you!”
But it’s a cinderblock
So it can’t talk back to me.
Young Writers |25
By Lily Ringler
overnight one, and by the time we
landed at Heathrow Airport at six
o’clock London time, I was exhausted. Even though the flight attendants
had dimmed the lights in the middle
of the ride, it was impossible to get
any real sleep in those awful upright
plane chairs. I’d had no legroom and
my neck ached from the few times I
nodded off with my chin tucked into
the hollow of my chest. And of
course it didn’t help that I was in the
middle seat. Bob was snoring louder
than usual on my left and Lily kept
climbing over me from the window
But let me inform you, using my
daughter’s vernacular, that it sucks.
A lot. Not only do you have no
motivation to work, no job benefits,
and no excuse to go outside, but
your family also expects you to cook
dinner for them after you’re done.
So all I wanted was a vacation—
preferably an exotic vacation—
where I didn’t have to cook or clean
or work or drive around like a mad
woman collecting groceries. And I
wanted to relax. But so far this trip
had been anything but relaxing.
I desperately wanted to run out the
door and get my first whiff of foreign
Coming to Silver Bay the past two years
has been amazing. I don’t think I will ever
forget the two weeks I spent here.
— Vivian Foung
seat because she was afraid she would
get blood clots in her legs if she sat
still for too long. I myself had to get
up to use the tiny plane bathroom
ten times during the flight—I’m really starting to believe people when
they tell me my bladder is shrinking.
And of course I couldn’t help but
watch the “Cheers” reruns on the
fuzzy plane monitors—how could
anyone sleep through the best television show ever produced?
So, suffice it to say that I was not
the most cheerful of creatures when
we stumbled off the plane into the
bright sunlight, when it was really
only supposed to be midnight at
home. This trip so far was not going
according to my plan. All I’d wanted
in the months we’d been planning
the trip was an escape from home
and daily chores. My daily routine
was boring as hell. Not many people
realize what it’s like to work at home.
Young Writers |28
air since my trip to Spain in ninth
grade. But of course there were the
usual duties: baggage claim, customs,
car rentals, and the obligatory trip to
the bathroom for a quick freshen-up.
Bob, eyebrows furrowed, was in his
intense let-me-iron-out-the-details
state. Lily was more antsy than usual,
sitting on a bench and wheeling her
big black suitcase back and forth and
back and forth and back and forth,
her CD player vibrating her
eardrums. I had to visit the bathroom a good four times—maybe I
really should try some of that bladder control medication—before Bob
finally walked over with a slight grin
on his face and our very own set of
car keys in his hand.
“We’re all set,” he declared in a
highly unrealistic faux-British accent.
“You lead the way.”
This was the moment I’d been
waiting for since we’d booked the
trip in December. This was what I’d
reminded myself of as I’d endured
the plane ride and the snoring and
the constant jostling and stale airport
air. Months of planning and saving
had come down to just one thing:
this moment.
I all but salivated as we started
toward the double doors. Our family
adventure, my new experience was
about to begin. Finally, the Britain I’d
dreamed about: the legendary land of
castles, Jane Austin and King Arthur.
I felt like I was in a movie, in slow
motion, slowly headed toward my
fate. I could feel the camera zoom in
on me as the reception desks and
payphones and fluorescent lights
receded and all I could see ahead
were the double doors that were my
goal. I didn’t wait for Bob or Lily as
the doors opened for me. I was only
aware of my surroundings and
myself as I took my first step into
this new land.
It was bliss, it was euphoria, it was
incomparable, and it smelled wonderfully exhaust?
I surveyed the frantic buses and the
swerving cabs—all careening
through the streets on the left side of
the road, of course. It seemed like I
knew this scene, like I had seen the
same slabs of concrete before and felt
the same oppressive muggy air. And
then it hit me. It looked like an airport. A goddamn American airport.
The same sights, sounds, and smells.
This was not how it was supposed
to be. Nothing in Britain was supposed to look like anything in
America, and certainly nothing in
this exotic place was supposed to
smell like car exhaust. What the hell?
And then our rental car came. Two
feet wide and two feet deep! Lovely,
just lovely. And mother of God, was
that snow I felt on my arm? Snow?
Snow in England in January?
What frigging gives? God must
be punishing me for not dealing
with my bladder control problem
sooner. „
By Caitlin Sahm
grandmother’s living room, the
basement door wide open and
screaming out darkness behind her.
She’s running smooth fingers over
old boards, once rough, now sanded
down by feet tracing the same
routes shuffling, weathering, day
after day and year after year, sure as
a force of nature. Her fingers follow
the warped wood-grain and my eyes
follow her fingers. I know them so
much better than my own that I am
more aware of the blood dripping
off their tips than that drying in the
rivulets of my own appendages,
becoming part of my fingerprints.
“Some houses,” my grandmother
told me once, “are not residences.
They are more than us. We are just
travelers passing through, a chapter
in the long, long story of their lives.
Hear the old wood sigh?” I did and I
do. I am thankful for the reminder
of this moment’s cosmic insignificance, only a moment, a single scene
soon over, the page soon turned.
She goes on tracing wood-grain
and I cross to the shelves on the far
side of the living room. I lift up a
statuette of a pious woman’s hands
together so no one can read the
secrets in the lines of her palms,
blowing the dust off with a dandelion-wish puff of breath, more for
theatrics than anything else. The
Virgin Mary, I turn her over—no, it
says she’s Saint Clare. Clear and
bright. Light. She had visions. I’m
not sure if she was a virgin, is that a
requirement for sainthood? If I had
stayed at Mission Academy like my
grandmother wanted I would know.
She’s expecting me to speak, I
know this rather distantly. We have
done this great and terrible thing
and it should feel over, the book
should close, we should ride off into
the sunset to our ever-after, happy
or no. They never tell you about the
aftermath in all the epilogues and
news broadcasts aside from a few
brief sketches: she had two daughters, divorced her husband, and
moved to L.A. He had a drinking
problem, never quite recovered but
oh well we’re done with them now.
Not our concern. I place the statuette back on the shelf and halfturn, keeping a focal point so as not
to get dizzy the way they teach in
ballet. I open my mouth but my
throat has become a monstrosity of
barbed wire that would shred any
sound attempting to escape. I close
my mouth again and swallow
around the edges of it all.
We have to leave. I brush her bare
shoulder with my finger-tips trying
to convey it all with that one ges-
all down Allen Street.
“She had a statuette of St.Clare on
her bookshelf.” The gears or whatever it is that lives in cars chug a bit in
place of her answer. “She’s the
patron saint of television.”
A short half cough half laugh,
“Bitch was a hypocrite all along.” I
remember: Wringing her hands,
loose skin twisting almost all the
way around bird-boned fingers.
“Lauren, Lauren, it’s the television
that gives you these...this...affliction,
that spreads the sinful urge through
you like a virus. Just repent, just
turn back to God. Once you’re away
I feel like a more experienced writer
after a week at Young Writers. Silver
Bay is probably the best summer
camp I have been to so far.
— Wenkai Ma
ture: grief, triumph, freedom, uncertainty, time-to-go, and gosh-it’s
freezing-you’re-wearing-that? She
stumbles awkwardly to her feet and
I keep one eye on her as we slip out
the back door and scuffle around a
clump of hedges all puffing breaths
and shaking hands.
“Shit,” I whisper, “Shit, I locked the
keys in the car.” I make a face but
she doesn’t laugh, just works some
magic (I wish literally) on the front
door of the Toyota and we’re in and
we’re off. She’s driving and I’m
shotgun and I keep expecting someone to slam a book closed on me.
We’re done, we’re done, sum us up
and give the facts to the readers and
let us rest. We do two wheeled turns
I’s her influence, it’s this
toxic society, oh I pray for you,
you’ve such a struggle ahead.”
Blood pours between teeth, smile
literally exploding in fragments of
bone and nerves and so much blood
down in the dark sinking in to the
earthen floor to the roots that have
begun to encroach upon the cellar. I
press my lips to hers needing tactile
reassurance that there wasn’t some
mistake, God isn’t punishing me for
what I’ve done, the choice I made,
taking both away, but she’s whole
and pulling away from me, has to
keep her eyes on the road. I’d rather
we go out now, crash and burn, but
we don’t. We just keep on driving. „
Young Writers |29
W’s Secret Love of Scooby-Doo
by Daniel Savage
blue curtain at the air-conditioned
Army War College in Carlisle, PA,
on May 25, 2004. His palms were
sweaty and his suit clung too close
to his fattening middle-aged body.
He calculated that there must be at
least five thousand people standing
in the crowd, waiting for him to
make another speech about Iraq. It
seemed to George that all he did
now was eulogize the war effort. He
was always defending his decision to
invade Iraq, always talking about
how hard his corrupt officials were
working, and always trying, fruit-
Young Writers |30
lessly, to make a terrorist connection
between Saddam Hussein and
Osama Bin Laden. He was tired of
making hackneyed speeches that all
sounded the same, not being with
his wife, and having to talk to airhead reporters who only wanted to
crucify him before the election. No
one cared about the words that he
would speak today, but he had to
produce speeches at several military
bases to prove to his political enemies that he cared about the troops.
The perfunctory speech that he was
making today was about the new
committee set up to attempt to pla-
cate the insurgents in the Middle
Eastern country. Even though he
didn’t want to make this speech, he
knew that he’d have to make it,
because that’s what you do when
you’re the President.
He would rather lie in bed and
watch his favorite cartoon, “ScoobyDoo.” He loved the meandering path
that every “Scooby-Doo” mystery
followed. Each episode promised
Fred proclaiming, “Let’s split up,
gang,” Scooby and Shaggy dashing
away from a supposed monster,
Velma finding clues to prove who’s
behind the mask of the monster,
and a villain muttering those legendary words that George knew by
heart, after being unmasked: “And I
would’ve gotten away with it if it
weren’t for you meddling kids and
your dog.” His favorite character was
Shaggy, who reminded George of
himself in his groovy party days.
“Scooby-Doo” was more than a cartoon show for George, it was a time
machine into his much happier past.
He missed his cocaine filled days
that filled him with bliss. Now all he
ever did was absolve himself of
responsibility, while being persecuted by people on Capitol Hill, and
badgered by unhappy Democrats.
George also loved the consistency
of “Scooby-Doo.” It was so simple.
Each episode adhered to a strict formula. All the supporting characters,
all the settings, all the treasures were
merely variables interjected into the
equation of “Scooby-Doo.” “ScoobyDoo” was an anchor in the whirlpool
of a life that was the President’s.
The crowd cheered and he haughtily entered the stage. He pretended
like they loved him more than they
did. He latched on to the podium
and entered into a trance. He started
to talk and let the words flow out of
him without regarding them. He
had practiced this speech for hours
on his tour bus, and yet he made a
mistake within the first minute, but
that didn’t bother him. He was daydreaming about more important
things. He thought about how beautiful his wife, Laura, was even in her
elder years (certainly more gorgeous
than Hilary Clinton was). He wondered what his daughters were
doing. They partied like George had
in his youth but his paternal instinct
convinced him that more Secret
Service men should be enlisted to
monitor them.
George looked at the crowd and
all he could see were blank faces. All
of them looked at him with stony
expressions. He was a zealot; he had
to pretend like things were going
well, but the crowd knew better. The
cool dry air flowed through the
vents. George liked the fresh air of
the outside in contrast to processed
air, but it was logical that the people
with manufactured emotions
breathed in manufactured air.
George finished his empty speech,
and the audience complemented
him with deaf claps. He retreated
backstage followed by his stolid
Secret Service cronies. But at least he
would have his daily “Scooby-Doo.”
He entered the presidential tour
bus ready to get to one of the ten
twenty-inch TV screens that were
located on the bus. It was 3:52 p.m.;
“Scooby-Doo” was going to start at
4 o’clock on the WB 34. Bush
turned on the TV and waited but
when the clock changed the show
that appeared was the dry “Frasier.”
George was bewildered, it was the
correct time, day, and station and
still no “Scooby-Doo.” George panicked and called the Vice President
for guidance.
“Dick, it’s George,” the President
said in a nervous voice, “We’ve got
an emergency on our hands.”
“What is it George?” the Vice
President asked anxiously. “Have the
terrorists attacked us again?”
“No, “Scooby-Doo” isn’t on the
television,” George whimpered.
“Mr. President, I’ve already been
briefed on the situation. “ScoobyDoo” has been taken off the air,”
Dick said annoyed.
“Because the network heads must
have realized what a stupid show
“Scooby-Doo” is.”
“Those bastards, let’s nuke them,”
George said excitedly.
“No Mister President I don’t think
we should do that,” Dick said calmly,
“With all of the money that your
family has you could buy the rights
to “Scooby-Doo.” In fact, Mister
President, you could hire everyone
from that show to have your own
private “Scooby-Doo” TV shows.
Heck, they could even write you and
your family into the script.”
“You mean it Dick?”
“Yes,” Dick said snidely, “And if
you ever give me another call like
that…I’ll have you assassinated. You
may be the President, but I’m the
one who’s really in control.”
Dick hung up the phone and
George was left to listen to the dull
tone of a telephone not being used.
He was alone now no friends, no
family and no “Scooby-Doo.” But at
least there was hope that someday
he could bring “Scooby-Doo” back.
Until then he would have to live a
listless life.
George flipped through the channels of the television until something
caught his eye. He was entranced by
this new TV show that he was watching. Never had George been able to
comprehend so much action, drama,
and cool special effects on a 30minute television show. From that
day forward the “Mighty Morphing
Power Rangers” became a major part
of George’s life. „
Young Writers |31
A Beck Tangent
By Hana Segerstrom
before. But when I think back, one
of the worst times was the day
before April vacation this past year. I
had never expected it. Even now I
can see her broken brown eyes cry,
and I immediately wish they would
stop and she would smile again.
Perhaps I’ve related this to you as
more dramatic than the scene actually was. But if I was to pinpoint one
moment that changed my relationship with a student of mine, this
would be it. I am a high school
orchestra teacher. She usually refers
to me as Beck.
This specific day before a vacation
was exceptionally warm and springlike, which was unusual, for the
entire previous week it had been
continuously raining. A sour sweet
wind was blowing with a pollen
flare through the windows in the
sweltering band room that day,
causing my shirt to become plastered to my sweating flesh. Of
course, being a teacher, one can only
make so many changes to the
wardrobe ensemble, and my nostrils
were flaring from my allergies from
the heat, and from a particularly
rowdy period earlier in the day. Why
should anyone else be happy? I was
miserable. My purple collared shirt
was stuck to my stomach. That was
not flattering in the least, and sweat
stains were blatant—a problem conductors have battled for hundreds of
years and, to my dismay, I have
never been one of those who has
solved it. I think they can sense
when I am angry. The older ones
know me too well, they can tell my
mood by my ties. Today’s was an
angry tie, a mauve sort of color with
a generic pattern, no designs, no
bright colors.
I perched myself upon the stool
reserved for the lazy or the elderly.
Conductors use it when they can’t
stand up any longer. The room filled
with a slow trickle of kids jumping
out of their pants at the thought of
vacation as the damn bell announcing the period blared. I glanced
Young Writers |32
down at my pants. They were too
short. I can never find pants that fit.
All of my pants just ride up when I
sit down. Then I find I’m self-conscious, as the notion of whether my
socks match finds its way into my
mind. Shaking it off, I switched my
gaze to the mob of teenagers flooding the room, shouting, fighting
their way to lockers, blocking, pushing, laughing, yelling, and banging.
Much as I hated to do this, I found
myself completely angered that they
could be so carefree the day before
vacation. We had a rehearsal, one of
the few rehearsals until the spring
concert and no one seemed to care
about that except me.
Then this all too happy kid, Hana
Segerstrom, clad in some ridiculous
outfit that did not involve dressy
shirts, burst into the room, an ear to
ear grin overwhelming her face and
a cluster of abnormally large wilting
dandelions clenched in her fist. I figured I’d let her calm herself before
rehearsal actually started. I watched
her cavort about the room, happy as
a clown, even in the pollen-rich air.
It made me bristle like an aggravated cat. She was flushed and looked
like the wind had just blown her in
the door, excitedly relating some
stupid story to whoever she came
across, gesturing with her hands.
Usually I would shake off mild
annoyances like this animated
raconteur, Hana, now flinging her
violin case in an alarmingly wide
radius. When she finally took her
seat I was thoroughly annoyed. After
one of my frightening speeches of
intimidation involving the rapidly
approaching spring concert, the
noise level and the lack of people at
their seats when the bell was ringing
I leapt off the podium to accentuate
the fear I was instilling. I know how
to work these kids. I overheard one
of them once say that I thrive on
intimidation and tangents.
Sometimes they time them.
Now, I am a pretty fun guy. I view
teaching orchestra as my tool for
teaching something far greater than
key signatures and seating auditions.
I teach life. I like to intimidate freshmen by asking them what they think
I teach. They are always wrong.
Everything is a lesson in orchestra.
One lesson I have spent my entire
career trying to get across to them is
to refrain from talking while tuning.
If there is one thing that I absolutely
cannot stand, it is that. It is this one
thing that Hana has never seemed to
want to learn. She never seemed to
think I would kick her out of class.
She whispered something to Karen
after lowering her violin, a bizarre
instrument painted with flowers. I
don’t know what she had to say or
how long she had been whispering
but I felt some strange vein in my
neck burst and that made me mad.
It was as if things were in slow
motion the way my temper flared—
a small flicker of flame burst into a
campfire which turned to a bonfire
that gave me that strange teacher
sense of authority which justified
the superiority behind my course of
action. Mustering an image of
Leonard Bernstein behind my eyes, I
flared my nostrils and abruptly
whirled my hands about in a C
shape formation to cut off the
strings. Sound stopped. I felt good.
“Pack your instrument, you’re done
for the day.” My voice was frigid. It
tasted sour, something foreign against
my tongue that was never used when
addressing her. As I expected, she
wasn’t even paying attention. She’d
stopped only because Karen next to
her had stopped.
She was actually now obliviously
rummaging through her backpack,
which always seemed too full for its
capacity. I assumed it was her lunch
as she had some ritual way of eating
lunch at the beginning of rehearsal
every day. And it was always a ham
and cheese sandwich. The orchestra
was silent as everyone waited for her
to realize that it was for her that the
tuning had stopped. She yanked out
the usual sandwich. Suddenly her
head snapped upward at attention. I
looked at her expressionless. The
goofy smile vanished the minute she
met my glare. I repeated myself.
“Pack your instrument, you’re done
for the day.”
“What?” She was not accustomed
to being the one I corner. The whole
orchestra was silent. I wondered if
they were shocked that it was her
being singled out before them all.
The first stand, it wasn’t common,
they’re always well behaved. But
Hana was too unpredictable and
spent most rehearsals taping pictures of the music theory teacher,
Jason Dashew on her folder rather
than paying attention.
“You heard me, pack your instrument, you’re done for the day.” She
sat, frozen like a stone. “What is my
number one pet peeve in orchestra?” My voice was foreign even to
myself, and she was looking at me as
though I had just ripped her throat
out. The look vanished and in an
effort to preserve some dignity, she
shrugged and casually responded,
“Talking while tuning.” She sounded
as though she was trying to pitch
her voice correctly in an effort to
appear nonchalant.
“Yes. And you continue to refuse
to listen to me. You insist on doing
this at every rehearsal, you refuse to
listen, you’re not setting an example
for your section so you’re done for
the day.” It was an instrument of
humiliation. I usually let them come
back midway through the period,
but this one had never before been
whipped into shape. I’m not sure if
anyone was shocked or not. The
sound of a paper rustling on a stand
blown by the sticky wind was the
only audible sound in the room as
she sat there packing, color filling
her cheeks like a thermometer
thrown in a volcano. I resumed
rehearsal, ignoring her. Everything
proceeded normally except that she
seemed to not have any idea what
was happening. Having finished
packing, she sat for a minute and
whispered something to Karen who
ignored her. Awkwardly she rose and
fumbled about for her case that she
picked up and began to trudge to
her locker. “Where are you going.” It
was all too perfect. I called all attention to the scene by the door. She
turned around to face the mass of
eyes boring holes into her forehead.
She looked as if her insides were
shriveling up.
“You said to leave.” She looked
very small.
“I never told you to leave. Where
are you going? I don’t remember
telling you to leave.” Unskillful. I was
inwardly kicking myself.
“I thought you said to go.” Her
voice was shriveled now as well. I
really know how to work these kids;
she’ll be all right in the end. The
spring in her persona was withering
away like dried flower petals in the
wind, or raisins in the sun as she
slowly began to take another walk of
shame back to her seat. I had to do
something about it. I puffed out
my chest, “You know what,” I began,
“I don’t care. Get out. Just go to
lunch.” A flash of horror passed over
her eyes. It was gone as soon as it
came and she whirled on her heel
and clomped off toward the door.
“See me after the period,” I barked
after her. All we heard was angry
clomping of flip-flop sandals down
the hall. It was at this time that I
thought her name should be Natasha.
Natasha backwards is “ah satan.” I
turned back to the orchestra. They
were all looking bored again.
She was late in returning after the
period. I waited for ten minutes
perched on a desk with my hands
clasped, white knuckled atop my
knees, replaying the scene in my
head wondering if I had actually
told her to leave. Finally there was a
slow clomping and the door creaked
Young Writers |33
open. Her pony-tailed head popped
in the crevice until she saw me on
the desk. “Hello Hana.”
“Hello Mr. Beck.” It was a civil,
blunt tone.
“Have a seat.” I gestured to the
chair cleverly placed below my desk.
It was a short chair compared to the
desk. Perfect. She stomped over to
the chair and flopped down sideways, refusing to look at me, a
damper on the effectiveness of the
speech I had planned. To make matters even worse, she was angrily eating two particularly large chocolate
chip cookies she had somehow
come across when she left.
“Did I really tell you to leave
today? I don’t remember ever saying
you should leave.”
“You said get out.” She had
smeared chocolate on her shirt.
“Did I say get out? I don’t remember. Well I didn’t mean for you to
leave. I was going to have you play
after five minutes or so, but you didn’t give me the chance.” I was hoping
she would be cooperative during this
speech but at this point she shoved
the entire cookie in her mouth and
with difficulty, chewed the mass,
looking like an angry, hairless chipmunk. “I wasn’t going to have you sit
out the whole time. You know why I
did that, don’t you?”
It was mainly a rhetorical question. She chewed the wad of cookie.
Nothing came except for the squeak
of her toes curling up with frustration against her sandals. “I know it
takes two to have a conversation, so
Karen must have been involved too,
but you were the one that I caught.”
I tried.
She swallowed. “Karen wasn’t talking.” It was the most I had gotten
out of her. Annoyance itched behind
my ears. I scratched my balding
head. Hana once referred to it as a
Night on Bald Mountain.
“You realize you’re not setting an
example for your section, don’t
you?” I said haughtily. “You’re in the
first stand and you are going to be
concert master next year. If I let you
Young Writers |34
talk, then they will all think it’s all
right. You don’t even pay attention!”
It was then that her face began to
contort into a dried apricot. I wasn’t
really sure what was going on within
her. She looked as though she was
fighting some sort of inward battle.
“You know that you haven’t stopped
talking during every other rehearsal
even after I tell you, right?”
“Well, has this made you not do it
Nod. Nod. Her face was scrunching up and twitching at this point,
eyes beginning to blink.
“What? What’s wrong, you seem
like there is a lot going through your
head right now, what is going
through your head? What do you
have to say about it?” I was trying to
fill silence, looking at her sitting
below me crumpled into the far corner of the chair, clutching another of
the school’s chocolate chip cookies
until it crumbled in her lap. Now
there was melting chocolate on her
pants. She was eating at my conscience. Blinking, blinking. Tears
streamed down her cheeks and
dripped off her. She began furiously
wiping at her eyes. Her frustration
seemed to give way to still more
enormous tears, the kind that you
cry when you cry for something so
stupid that you are frustrated with
your own crying.
“It was. . .embarrassing,” her voice
choked. Something like this would
not normally have bothered anyone
I had thought, but when she finally
turned to face me, she was a clear
picture of a broken spirit. She wiped
the back of her arm across her eyes,
the soft brown there now reserved
and defeated.
“Embarrassing. Well, I’m sorry, I
didn’t mean to embarrass you. You
know I don’t think any less of you,
right? I just want to forget about
this and let us move forward. We
won’t mention it again.” We sat in
silence for what seemed like hours.
She didn’t even bother eating the
cookie. “Are you mad at me?” She
didn’t answer. “It’s all right, you can
be mad at me.” The bell rang. She
nodded and shook her head at the
same time as though unable to
speak. “Do you need a pass?”
The look she gave the wall by the
lockers was ferocious. Obviously I
had to write the pass. “Where are
you going next?”
“Well, come to my room. I’ve got a
book of passes.” I tried for normalcy.
“So now the real question is, what
were you talking about?” I let out a
forced chuckle as she muttered something about project adventure. It
seemed as though I was thinking that
the longer it took me to fill out the
pass (I was using my best handwriting) that the better relations would be
between us. She was looking so unlike
herself it was frightening.
“Do you need a few minutes?”
“What class was this again?”
“Are you sure you don’t want to
stay here a few minutes? You don’t
want tissues?”
“Would you like some water?”
“Would you like more cookies?”
That scared me. “You just want to
go straight?”
I ripped off the pass slowly and
handed it to her. She took it.
She flounced out of the room,
fresh tears rolling down her cheeks.
Though the scene was necessary, it
really took a toll on my sense of
authoritative right. Her red,
scrunched face was so full of humiliation and pain that I knew things
would not be the same between us
for a very long time. I took the
lacrosse ball I stole from the gym
and sat in my lesson room flinging
it outside the door until I hit the
music supervisor. „
Bleeding Kansas
By Ryan Skrabalak
the cabin as the plane approached
Kansas City. The flight from
Pittsburgh to Kansas City on the
large but curiously cramped Boeing
737 aircraft had been nothing short
of the epitome of tedium. The captain ordered the flight attendants for
landing procedures: check the tray
tables, hassle the passengers for their
lack of listening skills with regards
to the “seatback in the upright position,” shit like that. One exceptionally ugly stewardess would not leave
me alone until my back was perpendicular to the floor and my seat
made its typical swiff-click when
finally in the default position. After
the garbage bags and assorted last
minute items were passed through
the aisle, we all heard this announcement of light rain in Kansas City. No
big deal, I guessed. I’d been on plenty of airplane trips before, and the
initial fear of soaring in a metal tube
35,000 feet in the stratosphere had
basically dissipated. The kid next to
me was wearing a Phil Lesh tour
shirt, and was kind of grooving
along to his iPod. It kind of made
me nervous. I mean I was still wary
of the “cease all electrical activity”
warning that had dinged overhead
about five minutes ago. I was sure he
would come to his senses; he looked
like a reasonable kid.
Wow, the view from my window
was simply astounding. The air was
an electric purple, and the city lights
sprawled out below me like a giant
mass of glowing phytoplankton.
Each yellow light shone beautifully,
jeweled in the night, and at this
height the skyscrapers stared back at
me with a thousand brilliant golden
eyes. I sat back and buckled my seatbelt—it had still remained
unclasped—and sat back, gazing at
the man-made nebulae below me.
The descent began differently:
there was a greater angle of decline
in comparison to my previous air
landings. If I remember correctly,
the angle was much steeper than
usual. It didn’t bother me much, but
it was one of those things that kept
popping up in the back of my brain
at the worst possible times, like back
problems or the fear of an overdose
when you’re really high. The Ear
Popping Phase of an airplane landing commenced after a sharp nudge
downward, and I asked the kid next
to me for a stick of gum to ease the
pain. He had his iPod off by now,
and was more than happy (I pre-
Young Writers |35
sume) to give me a piece. Instant
relief in the form of chewy wintergreen organic.
The plane was cruising smoothly
again after that slight spook at the
start of the decline. The engines
were whining (normally, I guess)
and the acrid disinfectant and barf
gaseous cabin concoction seemed
insignificant as I prepared for landing. Suddenly, the airplane dropped.
ed when I glanced out towards the
city; the sky, which had been a majestic, kind purple, had turned into a
cancerous, malignant dark purple, a
Crown Royal hue that really fucking
freaked me out. The clouds were
thick like tire smoke; an evil ebony
instead of an inviting gray or even
graceful polar cumulonimbus. The
eerie pulsating green light on the tip
of the plane’s wing made the entire
I love this place because when we’re
here we’re all writers, allowing us to be
ourselves . . . crazy and creative,
— Ben Taylor
The tail end of the craft slammed
down as we hit a pocket of dead air.
The plane, which had been quite literally listing in a pocket of nothingness for a few seconds, hit the normal atmospheric composition of
nitrogen, oxygen, argon, and trace
elements and thus hit a wall, a cushion of air to thump into. I almost
shat myself with anxiety; this was
the airplane nightmare that had left
me in a cold sweat on nights where
plane travel was a bright new world
to me. I looked around the cabin,
which was filled with apprehension
and concern. Mothers comforted
their children while simultaneously
looking to husbands for a warm,
comforting glance; a shelter for their
air travel fears. Although terrorism
had nothing to do with this incident, the deaths of thousands
through air travel had freaked
enough people into accepting
uneasiness as the primary emotion
while on a plane. I looked to my seat
comrade, who was disheveled yet
calm in his chair. Must have been
the iPod.
I braced myself for more, and
looked to the window for some kind
of comfort. My fears were extrapolatYoung Writers |36
scene too much to bear. I closed the
shade, but not in time to miss seeing
a brilliant spider crack of lightning
strike a spider webbed radio tower in
the distance. Fuck.
The landing gear droned down to
its default position for landing, creating a whistling sound that really
added to this haunted excursion. I
just wanted to get home, and now
I’m going to die literally yards from
my home in a god-forsaken aluminum sardine can with wings.
Wham. Almost as soon as the landing gear stretched out for use, the
plane tilted severely to the port side,
wings nearly forming right angles
with the ground below. A few overhead compartments popped open,
burping up their contents and scattering them about the cabin like
regurgitated food. Bags stowed
underneath seats slid across the
cabin and scraped loudly. The plane
hobbled for a brief moment on its
side, wavering and shaking like a
pre-volcanic explosion. The plane
finally leveled out, but not before a
few people in the cabin literally
began to bawl. I was crying as well.
It was too much to bear—visions of
my family began running through
my head like a vintage film reel. It
would have been different if they
were with me on the flight, but they
were probably in that fluorescent
terminal right now, waiting with
sweaty palms and kisses for me. The
thought of them waiting for me to
walk through that Fiberglas arch at
10:34 really pained me inside. I kept
envisioning them standing there,
waiting for me with empty hands
for my luggage, empty cheeks for
embraces, and empty arms for hugging. I asked the kid next to me, the
nice kid, if he could hold my hand
before I die; I needed that comfort,
that closure of bodily contact before
I die. Dying empty handed was a
long lasting dread of mine.
Unfortunately, the kid next to me
declined to hold my hand. This
made me cry even more, salt streams
flooding my mouth and making my
cheeks shiny with grief.
Fortunately, that was the last bit of
turbulence that we experienced until
touching the ground, which was
slick and glossy from the copious
amounts of rain that had fallen during the apparently serious storm
that hit Kansas City. The pilot came
on the PA as the tires connected
with the tarmac; he suavely spoke
“touchdown” as a collective breath
of relief was uttered throughout
the cabin.
I walked out onto the marble terminal, smiling the widest that I ever
have. A drift of cold, hard air passed
violently through the narrow hallway of the terminal, and at that
moment I saw my family. I looked
over to the boy who sat next to me
on the plane, and he glanced back
with an assuring head nod. I was
home safe.
Kansas City endured one of its
most severe and damaging tornadoes
that night, with rainfall reaching
around one and a half feet in some
towns in the metropolitan area. And I
was in a fucking airplane. „
Winter Sun
By Ari Sobelman
merciless foe, but today it was particularly sadistic. Her hoe raked over
the cold earth, scraping away at the
thin layer of ice that made her job so
difficult. It was early January—the
Year’s End Festival had finished
nearly a week ago. The second sun
had not yet risen: if it had, she
thought in annoyance, this wretched
frost would have melted already.
So, frozen, the young farmer continued her labor. Her hair was down
to shield her skin from the harsh
weather—but as time wore on, she
swept it over one shoulder in hot
frustration. With the sun beating
down on her, it did not take long for
the perspiration to start. First it was
just at the back of her neck, where
the skin that had become pale and
delicate over the past few months
began to burn. Irritated, she continued her hoeing in silence. The sweating increased profusely as the sun
rose higher and higher, and soon the
under clothes she wore, hidden
beneath bulky winter-wear, were
soaked most uncomfortably through.
As the inhabitants passed her by,
though, few saw her ire slowly rising. Instead, they saw the heavily
clothed, simple farmer girl, a plain
young woman who could never pass
for one of those soft, supple court
ladies. Her arms were muscled from
years of slaving away on this small,
failing farm. Her hands were rough,
coarse with the calluses that protected her from the shedding wood of
the hoe’s handle. If she had a figure
that could be coaxed out by a proper
bodice, it was hidden away beneath
long tunics and coats, covered by layers to protect against the biting chill—
layers she rather regretted by now.
She cursed her allergy-free body,
wishing her nose were clogged by
pollen. The manure that her cousins
had laid down stunk now, and she
nearly swallowed her tongue in the
effort not to gag. It was disgusting,
but this was her life, and had been
for the better part of seventeen
years. She knew nothing else, and
desired it only in the few places she
could go to be alone: the grove, a
small clearing hidden away from
prying eyes among the Heartland
Forest, and the Blacktop Cliffs, just
outside the village. There, she imagined herself as one of the pretty girls
who were brought to the country’s
capital to join the court, one of the
thin, lovely young women who
ended up in all sorts of intrigue, surrounded by mystery and, when they
were lucky, sorcery.
But here, at her family’s tiny farm,
Wyrelle continued down the line,
her face set in plain lines, as she
hacked away at the frost-covered
earth. Nearly grimacing, Wyre realized that they’d have to drop the
seeds quickly, before the earth froze
over again. Hopefully Airagon would
Young Writers |37
I started coming here three years
ago and in that time so much of my
development as a writer and even as
a person has been due to one week
every summer on the Silver Bay campus. I hope the ‘next generation’
enjoys this place as much as I have.
— Caitlin Sahm
rise during this next week. The dual
heat of the second sun would be
help, for once, instead of a hindrance. Sighing inwardly, she paused
in her work and ran a sleeve over
her sweaty brow. Cath, she didn’t
remember this work being so hard
in past years! Leaning against her
hoe, Wyrelle stared at the ground,
keeping her head down to stay away
from the few passers by. They either
saw straight through her, as many
of the other working men and
women did, or sneered, like the
high-class—or nearly high-class—
women usually did. Wyre wasn’t
interested in seeing it.
Swooping down out of the trees, a
brown blur sped toward the young
woman. She didn’t look up, didn’t
notice the muddy shadow as it shot
towards her. Just before it would
crash into her, wings sprouted from
the dark flash, and the little, lizardlike creature banked, circling the
girl’s stocky figure, before landing
on her shoulder. A muddy colored
tail snaked out, wrapping around
her sweaty neck and matted hair.
Smiling slightly, Wyrelle reached up
a callused hand to run across the
muddy dragon’s rough hide.
“Iluyan,” she said. “You didn’t bring
anything back.”
The brown little dragon squeezed
his tail around her throat, and
squeaked a response. Sighing, Wyre
patted the soft hide of her odd
friend’s back. “Oh well,” she said.
Young Writers |38
Where people had walked by without looking at her before, they now
paused, curiously looking at the duo
of farmer and lizard. Each on their
own was bland and unimpressive.
But together, they gave off a glimmer, a hidden hint at something
nobler, something nearly regal.
Anyone who saw this, though,
shook their head with a derisive
snort and moved on. Noble, here?
No one here was noble, and certainly not regal. Tiriac was a hick community—one of the bigger farming
towns, but nevertheless, it would
always be a backwater place.
Finishing the rows, Wyrelle swung
the hoe over her free shoulder, and
trudged through the melting snow
and dirt, careful not to ruin the day’s
hard work. She was sweltering in the
thick wool sweaters, and her hair
was sticking infuriatingly to her
sweaty neck. Entering the shack that
served as a communal family home
for her very large and very extended
family, Wyre plodded past the dinner tables, heading for the room she
shared. The tables were big enough
to seat the whole family if they sat
on top of each other, though they
usually ended up eating in shifts.
She set the hoe down against the
wall adjacent with the door, where
several other tools leaned. Chewing
on her lip, the girl opened the door
to the room she shared with six
other girls: her two older sisters, a
younger sister, and three cousins.
Seven girls shared three shaky bunk
beds and a straw stuffed pallet.
Grimacing inwardly, she headed
for the small corner she’d claimed as
her own storage place. Tugging off
her outer shirts as quickly as her
tired arms would allow, Wyrelle
stripped down to her sweaty undergarments. In a moment, she was
shivering and sweating again, this
time from the cold. Biting the inside
of her cheek, she pulled her clothes
on again. As much as she’d have preferred clean clothes, if she took them
she wouldn’t have enough to last the
week, and she’d be too tired to take
her things down to the river to wash
before its end.
Sighing, Wyre shrugged into the
damp and sticky clothes, leaving off
the extra clothes she wore to protect
herself from the outside chill.
Slipping past a pair of young
brunettes, alike enough to be twins,
Wyrelle shook her head to herself as
she entered the open area that served
as sitting room and dining hall. The
girls—she wasn’t even sure who they
were. Sisters, cousins—she couldn’t
keep track of them all anymore. Her
entire family was the same: dark hair,
dark eyes, and light, plain features.
They were a giant family of bland,
unimportant farmers and workers,
men and women. And every one of
them was nearly identical.
The chirp in her ear as she sat at
the empty table reminded her of
something important. Well, maybe
not every one. Smiling slightly, Wyre
lifted a hand to reach for the stunted
dragon that had buried itself
beneath her matted, sweaty hair. No,
she certainly had something to set
her apart. Iluyan had come to her
when he was hurt, when he could
have gone to the brawny men of the
family, or any of the other girls: but
he had chosen her as his healer, then
companion. And though sometimes
it proved a great annoyance, Wyrelle
wouldn’t trade him for anything.
“Except maybe for a bigger house,”
she mumbled with a wry smile. „
By Ben Taylor
Chapter 1
Everyday someone is born, someone is killed. Everyday something
happens. Everyday a story is formed.
However, this story is not about
the druggie shooting heroin in
Central Park or the pretzel vender
trying to make a few extra dollars to
support his family. This story is not
about the smog that blocks the
twinkle, twinkle of every little star
nor is it about the litter that covers
the street like a bad case of acne or
the closed storefronts covered with
bars, shop to shop until a long
prison corridor is formed.
No. This is the story about the
man sitting alone on his bed, in the
dark. To reach this man, one must
travel to Samaritan Apartments, to
the 17th floor and travel to apartment number 17H. Inside is Mark
Patrick. A man with a problem and a
semi automatic Colt .45 cradled in
his hands. One shot fired.
peeing in a cup to prove you’re
“Okay, okay. I’m all here. No need
to chew my dick off.”
“Still grinding over the case huh?”
“Yeah Ted. It’s my job.”
“Well, the Chief wants to see us
so shake a leg and get over to him
Standing up, Rick shook his legs to
quicken the circulation of blood
flowing through them. Then he
stretched while yawning and rolled
his shoulders a couple times. Finally,
feeling loosened up, he followed Ted,
who was tapping his foot impatiently in time with the music that Rick
could now hear coming from the
radio next to the dirty coffee pot.
“Wow, good thing the Chief gave
me five minutes to find you. C’mon,
we’ve got a minute to spare unless
you would care to stretch again for
another fuckin’ minute or two,” Ted
asked in a tone that Rick knew better than to be smart with.
“Shots fired! Repeat, shots fired,”
the voice crackled over the Chief ’s
“Good. You’re here,” the Chief said
as they entered. He was a middle-aged
man already with a full head of gray
hair. His sharp, blue eyes contrasted
greatly with his steel gray hair.
Though you couldn’t see them now,
when he smiled, he revealed a full set
of caffeine-stained teeth. His nose was
slightly squashed and crooked. It had
once been broken when during a robbery the butt of a shotgun had been
smashed into his face.
Now as Ted and Rick stood in the
Chief ’s office, the light from the bare
overhead bulb reflected off his many
medals with the ceiling fan whirring
gently and creating a light breeze.
Chapter 2
Rick Mazlano. New York’s finest.
Right now he is sitting behind his
desk, a cold cup of coffee in his left
hand and a chocolate donut in his
right. He does not hear the phone
ringing at the next desk or the low,
murmured voices immersed in conversation. He is aggressively focused
upon the report lying on his desk.
All he notices is the report. He sees
only the words and smells, only the
fresh ink typed upon the paper. The
report is a maze of words, causing
his thoughts to chase each other
around his mind like a dog chasing
his tail.
“Ricky! Still at it? Yo, Ricky stop
Jolted out of his induced trance,
Rick blinks and glances around, trying to learn his surroundings.
“Ricky I’m over here you crackhead! Geez. I know you’re not high
or anything but try to act normal. If
the Chief sees you like this you’ll be
Young Writers |39
It was another great week
and it should be longer.
Five days is way too short.
— Jimmy O’Higgins
“Well. I called you here to ask you
to handle a domestic disturbance,
but it seems cars 1, 3, and 8 need
back-up. Apparently five bastards are
holding up Union Bank on 58th
Street with fucking AK-47s and
Uzis. There are 19 confirmed
hostages including bank employees.
Negotiators and S.W.A.T. teams are
already on their way. Get the station
suited up. Leave cars 4, 10, and 2 at
the station. Everyone else will be
under your charge since you two are
the senior officers. Good luck, God’s
speed. Go shoot yourself some
“Car 12, on the scene,” Ted said
into the walkie-talkie. Over the next
few minutes, more squad cars
reported, their sirens giving final
yelps before being shut off. As the
“Caution” tape was lifted permitting
Rick to maneuver Car 12 into position among the vehicle barricade—a
row of cold, shiny metal seemingly
ready to charge the bank doors.
Captain Traulis from Car 1
approached Ted and Rick as they
stepped out from their car, keeping
their eyes upon the bank’s glass doors.
Their eyes searched for the slightest
trace of danger, the murderous reflection of light off steel.
“What’s the situation, Captain?”
Ted asked.
“At about 9 a.m. this morning, five
armed hostiles posing as painters
entered the bank. They have disabled the video feed and the doors
are chained from the inside. Along
the inside of the doors they have
assembled one-way glass plates,
allowing them to see out, but we
can’t see inside. We believe the
hostages are being held in the basement, but we aren’t positive. Also,
Young Writers |40
about 10 minutes ago, shots
were heard
inside. We still
don’t have a
line in yet so
we don’t
know what
the shooting
was about.”
“Doors! Doors!” A voice over the
radio yells. Rick quickly looks up
and draws his police standard issue
Berretta 9mm as he sees the doors
swing open and a solitary figure
shoved out.
“Hands behind head!”
“Down on your knees!”
“Keep a gun on those doors!”
These cries and many others fill
the air in a state of semi-chaos as
each person tries to keep everyone
else alive.
“Do not kill me! Please!” the man
that has come out begs. He is
dressed in regular office clothes and
is blindfolded. With each word he
speaks, his Russian accent can clearly
be heard. Once he has been half
dragged, half guided to safety he
hands Rick a cell phone before being
led off for questioning.
Opening it, Rick sees a single
phone number on the screen. “Find
a negotiator,” he says. When the
negotiator arrives, Rick quickly
checks him over. He is average
height, probably about six-foot. He
has light green eyes that seem to
blend with his shaggy, mouse-brown
hair and his pale skin. His skin covers his muscular frame like a polkadotted blanket. Rick has never seen
someone covered with so many
freckles. “Hello,” he says and Rick
hears his voice, a low voice that
rasps slightly on the ears. He is
wearing khaki pants with a T-shirt
advertising Tampa Bay, Florida. The
shirt seems to be the perfect match
for the man’s sandals. Noticing
Rick’s appraisal of his attire he says,
“Yeah. Sorry I don’t look so professional but I wasn’t even supposed to
be on today. I’ve been on some sick
leave and Joe Fisher was filling in for
me.” As if to emphasize this, he
pauses to give a few dry coughs.
“But for some reason, Joe never
showed up today. Probably just felt
like playing hooky or something. I’m
one of the most experienced negotiators on the force so I got called in
unexpectedly. Is that the phone I
was told about?”
Rick hands him the phone.
Without wasting any time the negotiator dials the number. Rick can
hear the rings echoing from the
speaker. “Hello this is . . .”
“I do not care who you are. Come
to the doors in one hour, unarmed,
The phone clicks off.
Snipers have their eyes seemingly
glued to their scopes. Policemen
stand behind their cars. Pistols,
rifles, and shotguns at the ready.
S.W.A.T. teams move along the
street, running parallel to the front
of the bank, with bulletproof shields
and assault rifles poised to strike.
The voices of crowd control can be
heard yelling at onlookers to get
back. Inside a S.W.A.T. truck, the
negotiator is going over his plan
while strapping on a bulletproof vest
over his shirt.
“Are you sure about this,” Ted
asks the negotiator, “Without a wire
we have no way of telling if you’re
in danger.”
“No,” the negotiator is adamant,
“They’ll definitely search me and
when we disobey them . . . Well
things get bloody. We have to play
their twisted game for now.”
The negotiator steps out of the
truck and makes for the door surrounded by a small army of
S.W.A.T. He reaches the door and
waits there for a minute before
being allowed to enter. The S.W.A.T.
team is forced to retreat.
Suddenly Rick realizes something.
Turning to Ted he asks, “Did he tell
you his name?”
“Yeah he did,” replies Ted, “He said
his name was Mark Patrick.” „
By August Toman-Yih
notebook lying on the table in front
of him. He lowered his pen to the
paper and began to write. After a
few minutes, he stopped scribbling
and began to erase furiously. A small
brown-haired girl who had been
watching him carefully walked over
and tapped him on the back, causing
him to jump
“Wha-what?” he said, looking
nervously at her.
“Weeeellll,” she said, deliberating,
“we sorta want to play cards.… but
we don’t have enough people, so…”
“We?” he asked, questioningly,
looking around.
“Those guys,” she said, pointing at
a group of people seated around a
table. They waved back. “Well?”
Jay looked over at them uncertainly and they waved again.
“C’mon,” said the girl impatiently.
“Just try it.”
“But I have to finish writing my
bo—-,” he said helplessly as she
grabbed his arm and dragged him
over to them. She stopped in front
of them and let go. He looked
around nervously.
“Yo,” said one of them, sticking out
a hand. Jay looked at it for a
moment, then grasped it and was
immediately pulled towards him.
He’s going to kill me, thought Jay,
remembering this had happened in
a book he had read. He struggled
desperately to free himself, then
slapped the guy holding him on the
back in an attempt to get him to let
go. He returned the slap and suddenly released his grip saying,
“What’s up, dog?”
Jay looked around for the dog,
then realizing the question was
probably directed at him, said “Um
… the …sky?”
The guy grinned appreciatively
and Jay realized he was wearing a
piece of thin, white cloth wrapped
around his head. “You’re a funny
one. So, you gonna play or not?” Jay
sat down nervously, watching the
last occupant of the table, who was
sitting with his feet resting on the
table, and nodded noncommittally
at Jay.
“We’re going to be playing Slap
Jack,” said the girl. She looked
doubtfully at Jay. “You do know how
to play.…right?” He shook his head
silently. She sighed, then looked
around at the other people. “Does
anyone want to tell him how to
play?” When no one volunteered, she
sighed and looked back at him.
“Well, basically, you deal out cards
and then slap the jack.”
“Slap the jack …why?”
The boy with his feet on the table
and had, up to this point, been
silent, leaned forward, a gleam in his
eyes. “Why slap the jack? Well,” he
said as though savoring every word,
“because it’s a jack…ass!” and fell
back, laughing madly.
“Randolph,” the girl began.
“It’s Randy,” he muttered, disgruntled.
“Randolph, here,” she said, ignoring him, every word dripping sarcasm, “is our in-house comedian,
gracing us with the finest in sophisticated humor.”
“Anyway,” she continued, “deal the
“Um,” said Jay, still indecisive.
She turned her gaze towards him.
“You’re playing, right?”
“Um … I …” He struggled to
remember what it was that was so
pressing. “I need …” But for some
reason it didn’t seem to matter now.
They were all looking intently at
him, “Well?”
He cleared his throat, then grinned
at them. “Never mind. I’ll play.” „
Young Writers |41
Memoir in the Third Person
By William Young
in the seventh grade, he was
assigned an English project that he
didn’t want to do. It was to write
poetry on a humongous poster
William first sketched out words,
and pictures with a pencil. He was
unsatisfied with most of his work.
Turning his pencil over and over
again, he erased what displeased
him. If I
were him,
any job
would be
The teachers allowed me
to express myself in my
Sleep is
own style and didn’t make
me write a specific way.
than school.
— Francis Dieterle
The truth is,
however, I
have never
gone to
board, and draw a picture based on
school, and don’t know what it’s
the poem. He did the project all
like. I guess it’s too complicated for
right, but the problem was: it was
dead night when he did. William set
As William started to sketch, he
an alarm, and woke up as silently as
heard a moaning floorboard scream.
he could. He didn’t think anyone
Startled, William feared that somewas awake from the alarm, but I am
one would send him back to bed. He
always awake. When he came down,
shut the lights, and hid in the darkhe turned on the lights and pulled
ness. He looked for a shadow against
out a poster board.
the white window blinds on the
I saw everything, but I didn’t say
opposite wall in the living room.
anything. I don’t have much of a
When he saw no one, he turned
voice with him. I just sat there and
back to his work, but sweating, and
watched. I don’t know if he saw me
tenser. He started to work faster, and
awake or not. He probably figured I
harder. The sweat curled in his
wouldn’t tell. I never did. It was
armpits, and on his skin. His brain
pitch black. The only sounds in the
chilled, and as I watched, with one
house were the rumbling of the
eye open, I felt myself slowly drifting
plumbing system, and the laundry
to sleep...
dryer. The time was what I rememBut soon, I was awake again!
ber most. As I lay awake, with one
Boom! There was a crashing sound
eye open, minutes were hours, and
sharper than the one before. Not the
hours were days. William came in
crashing of pots and pans, however.
with a curving energy. At first he
William whirled around and put his
was ready to work, but quickly sufsweaty fingers on the light switch.
fered fatigue. I did too; watching
Would someone come down?
him made me sleepy. I just thought
William tried not to upset the old
that I should watch over him in case floorboards. They are so grumpy.
something bad happened, or if he
They complain when you step on
needed help. Well actually, I probathem in the wrong spots. Now, most
bly would not have been much help
of them are made of these bad spots.
to him. He does things that I don’t
I never creaked one, but William,
know too much about. My life is in
especially with his intense fear,
an idle state at the moment.
creaked one or two while reaching
for the light switch. Who made a
Young Writers |42
bang? The backyard shone with light
from above! Who, (or what) could
be awake at this hour? The lights are
so bright, and revealing. Now, the
sound of running water, and then a
slam, and creaking, and then more
noise, and a scream. The lights went
away, and we, William and I, saw an
airplane crossing over our house to
the airport. Thankfully, it was not an
alien abduction as I thought at first.
William froze, but he didn’t get as
startled as I did. I am always scared.
William returned to his work
when the danger was gone.
Whatever danger it was. Only
William will know. It remains a mystery to me, but even still, I was
scared awake for the rest of the
night. William was just working, and
working away. He filled in his stencils, and darkened them with markers. He colored in his illustrations,
and he finally came out of this with
a masterpiece. Now, he rolled up his
creation, and prepared to go fetch
the sleep he so desperately needed.
There was, however, more moans of
the floorboard in the stairs. The
floorboards warned William that
someone was coming down the
stairs. William quickly shut the
lights, and crouched behind the
door. William finished his work, but
now he had to get past whoever was
coming down. At the right time,
when the basement door closed
behind whoever came down,
William went back upstairs where he
saw his mother, father, brother, and
sister lying asleep in their beds. He
whispered good night to them all
while they snoozed.
When William got to bed, he felt
relieved. He was calm, and not
scared anymore. But wait... who
went to the basement? And who am
I? I can only answer the last question. I am William’s Djurian hamster: Ghost. The first question is
shrouded in mystery of memory. At
least that’s how I remember it. „
New York State
Summer Young Writers Institute Participants
Summer 2006
Hannah Bewsher
Wenkai Ma
Katherine Bosek-Sills
Jenny Marion
Laura Colaneri
Emily Nichols
Michele Colley
Bobby O’Connor
Wappinger Falls
John Francis Dieterle
Jimmy O’Higgins
New York City
Jason Fishel
Lily Ringler
Ballston Lake
Vivian Foung
Caitlin Sahm
Audrey L. Henkels
Daniel Savage
Elizabeth Hennessy
Hana Segerstrom
Rebecca Lynn Hodder
Samantha Smith
Central Bridge
Drew Keneally
Ryan Skrabalak
Jared Kenyon
Ari Sobelman
Carly L’ Ecuyer
Ben Taylor
Hoosick Falls
Sabrina Lopez
August Toman-Yih
New York City
Emma Loy-Santelli
William Toung
Young Writers |43
In 2004 the New York State Writers Institute celebrated its
20th Anniversary. Created in 1984 by the state legislature to
draw attention to writing and the artistic imagination across
the state, the Institute has emerged as one of the premiere
sites in the country for presenting the literary arts. Over the
course of two decades the Institute has sponsored readings,
lectures, panel discussions, symposia, and film events which have featured appearances by over 800 artists—including six Nobel
Prize winners, and 90 Pulitzer Prize winners—and has screened more than 550 films, from rare early prints to sneak previews of
current releases. The Institute is a major contributor to the educational resources and cultural life at the University at Albany,
where it is located, as well as the surrounding community. It is also identified by the writing and publishing communities as a
place dedicated to promoting serious literature, where writers and their work are held in high esteem, where being an invited
guest is considered an honor, and where talking about books is celebrated as the best conversation in the world.
Further information about Writers Institute programs may be obtained from its website at:
The Writer’s Voice of the Silver Bay YMCA of the
Adirondacks is a member of the National Writer’s Voice
network of literary arts centers located at YMCA’s across the country. Established in 1991 through a major Lila Wallace Reader’s
Digest grant, the Writer’s Voice has created a permanent literary arts center in the Adirondack region of New York State. The
Writer’s Voice provides public programs that enrich all sectors of its community. The Readings by the Bay reading series, workshops with accomplished writers, and Writers-in-the-Schools arts in education programs are the main components of the
Writer’s Voice.
Silver Bay YMCA of the Adirondacks is a century-old YMCA conference and training center situated on a 700-acre campus on
the western shore of Lake George in the Adirondack Park in northern New York State.
Further information about the Silver Bay YMCA may be obtained from its website at:
Young Writers |44
Administrative Staff
New York State Writers Institute
William Kennedy
Executive Director
Donald Faulkner
Suzanne Lance
Assistant Director
Mark Koplik
Program Fellow
Judith Axenson
The Writer’s Voice of the Silver Bay
YMCA of the Adirondacks
Marty Fink
Executive Director, Silver Bay
Kim Riper
Conference & Sales Director
Jennifer Mattison
Conference Planner
Liza Frenette
Emily Elling
Julie Elling
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