Posted in 2015-2016, Travel

The Jewel of Hagerstown

By Kalynn Klein 

City Park, located in the center of Hagerstown, is considered the jewel of the run-down city. Not only does it contain a breath-taking pond in the center (where all the ducks and swans in the whole city seem to gather), but the water runs all the way around the park. The area is fancied for its beauty, in every single aspect.

Screen Shot 2015-10-30 at 10.24.55 AM

City Park in Autumn, with the water the flowing all around, creating a peaceful effect.         

No matter the crowd, it’s never loud. Something about the trees, something about the water, something about the openness, something protects City Park from ever being disturbed. It is used daily for many reasons: as a place to read, and for others, a place to write. Along the walking path, which laces the whole park, you can find a bench every hundred feet or so. You never have to feel obligated to move.
One of the most notable aspects of City Park is the giant stair-set that will take you out of the park directly to parking lot. This set of stair was wonderfully constructed to embellish the entire park. It almost acts as the park’s centerpiece. The stairs stop half way up, and break off into a deck with an overlook of the whole park. There are picnic tables, and a bench that sits around the entire outside of it. No matter the time of day, you are sure to stop off here for a breather.

Screen Shot 2015-10-30 at 10.24.47 AMThe stairs at city park, which may seem like a huge feat, but could you really resist this view?

Furthermore, City Park is loved by children for its huge sets of playground equipment. No matter the time of the day- 6a.m or dusk, it is never empty. Eager children run all around, enjoying all the park for all it has to offer. They kick their feet back and forth on swings that actually don’t have an ear-piercing squeak. They collect static from slides that are not covered in graffiti.  

City Park is known for its waters, how they seem to slow down the typically fast moving city of Hagerstown. For its quiet, as there seems to be a sound protective layer as soon as you walk in, and more importantly, for its beauty, which doesn’t need to be described.
Kalynn Klein is a Junior at Barbara Ingram School for the Arts

Posted in Culture, October 2015


By Alanna Anderson and Amelia Lowry

Fall is in the air and in our lattes, and there’s no denying that distinct autumn scent that blows in the wind.  The people at Yankee Candle know this best, and will collect thousands of dollars this season alone with scents like, “November Rain”, and “Autumn in the Park”.

Something smells fishy here, and it isn’t just a candle.

For those of us who have had or are evil siblings, we know the old catch-a-smell-in-the-jar trick, and we can’t be fooled twice. There is no way that they could capture the autumn air in a jar and mix it into wax, right? These sneaky labels must be taking familiar scents associated with fall and claiming them to be something they aren’t — and it happens right under our noses. That is, of course, unless Bath & Body Works and Yankee Candle are actually powered by super-human, malicious siblings who have mastered the art of trapping the smelly air inside a container, but our sources beg to differ.

There are many scents that our noses automatically categorize under a common fall-theme. Pumpkins, for instance, are almost always seen as a fun October activity — whole days are devoted to going to the pumpkin patch and picking out the best pumpkin in all of the land. After we snatch them from their comfortable homes in the dirt, we make them into pumpkin pies, roast their pumpkin seeds, slice and butcher them into Jack-o-Lanterns, and even squash up their innards for use in a pumpkin-spice latte. Cinnamon and apples have frequented their visits in seasonal scents as well. Finally, there’s nothing that screams fall more than a nice, smoky bonfire — but this can be achieved with a fairly small amount of effort considering the candle itself is on fire.

And, as it is, many of these familiar scents have been adopted by brands and given abstract names, when they really all smell the same. Bath & Body Works in particular has a penchant for apple-smelling perfumes and lotions, and the overuse of apples goes unnoticed once it is in its incognito form. While we understand that names such as “Crisp Morning Air”, “Bright Autumn Day” and “Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin” all give the illusion of smelling independently, each must consist of apple– straight to the core.

At least these fragrances have distinguishable contents. In some cases, candles have many more layers than what appears on the surface. Names like “Flannel” can be misleading– believe it or not, flannel candles don’t smell like cotton, and they don’t smell like elderly men from the smoky streets of Hagerstown.  It does, however, smell like the boys’ changing room in gym class. Not that we’ve been in there often…

What does a mountamlodgein lodge smell like to you? We were thinking it might smell like pines, maybe even bonfire-esque. Even the scent of fresh bed sheets washed with woodsy detergent would have been acceptable. In reality, “Mountain Lodge” by Yankee Candle also smells like an adolescent locker room and much more like the Hollister store than we feel is appropriate. It seems more logical that one would bring an axe on a trip to a cabin in the woods opposed to a can of Axe (how would you go about chopping wood with that?) but hey, you never know. “Sweater Weather” by Bath & Body Works doesn’t smell like Goodwill, and it doesn’t smell like The Neighbourhood, but it does smell a lot like a tree and that raises its own questions.

Some seasonal scents are less abstract, but they’re just as shameful as their artsy-fartsy co
unterparts solely because of the goofy commercialism behind them. A solid example of this so-called goofy commercialism would be the Mandle, or man candle– invented especially for people who think that candles have genders. These Mandles are the epitome of masculinity– there are no ‘manlier’ candles than bacon-scented candles and plywood-scented candles, after all. In other words, we see you toxic masculinity, we see you. As if this wasn’t disappointing enough, the Mandle called “On Tap” smells exactly like horse pee– just like beer.  

This could easily turn into a game: the objective would be to get a
fun, effervescent candle that would smell nice and make your home more seasonal, but first you have to pass the societal pressures and accept the fact that smelling good doesn’t belong to either gender binary.

Overall, you shouldn’t let a fragrance company get in the way of your autumn. Go outside, smell the November Rain and the Crisp Morning Air. Don’t believe everything you smell in a candle store. Better yet, buy what you want, whether you especially enjoy the scent of apples or if smelling plywood does it for you. Happy sniffing!

Alanna Anderson and Amelia Lowry are both Sophomores at Barbara Ingram School for the Arts

Posted in 2015-2016, News

On Body Cameras (In Your Downtown Area)

By Ray Newby

Maryland has legalized body cameras for police officers.

As a Hagerstown resident, of course I was shocked. When things happen elsewhere — Ferguson, New York City, anywhere you are not on a regular basis — they feel less real, more like the news is a movie. More like characters and settings than real people and places.

Body cameras, for those who are unaware, can range from pen-shaped lenses to cell phone-sized harnesses, generally worn on the torso (though there are some very interesting sunglasses that incorporate cameras).

The closest incident we’d had was in Baltimore. A boy named Freddie Gray, caught on video by passerby, had his spinal cord fractured in transport to the police station. He was arrested for possession of an “illegal switchblade” — what turned out to be completely legal and not have been used against anyone. The police were not wearing body cameras, but the citizens wore their hearts on their sleeves.

Most of us didn’t know how to feel; some called them “thugs” as the riots grew more violent, others stayed silent. Throughout Hagerstown we had both of these people — one girl, furious her band trip had been cancelled, snapped at anyone who talked to her. She didn’t see Freddie Gray’s broken back, only the broken city.

The decision of the Maryland Assembly on the bill entitled “Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance – Law Enforcement and Public Transportation – One-Party Consent for Interception of Oral Communications,” is that for police (and public transportation officials, but more so police), you only need one party consent as an officer to record video or audio of another person. And, at the discretion of each police department, they could soon be mandatory.

“Policy is policy, practice is something else,” said one attorney, representing an officer who was present as Freddie Gray was arrested. He is currently suspended with pay as the investigation goes underway.

Before this decision, there was the “Wiretap Act,” a federal law still in effect. It prohibits both the secret recording of another person or persons, and the reading or listening in on personal conversations (for example, emails or telephone conversations). An exception is to government officials and police officers — think of cameras listening in on investigations. When put into effect, there was no specific text about body cameras. Only general ideas.

Now, six cameras have been purchased for the Hagerstown Police Department — one for each active section on the streets. Including the police officers we work with on a day to day basis; even for crossing the street, something I do downtown every day.

Maryland was, before the decision, one of twelve states in the U.S. who had even stricter wiretapping laws. Two way mirrors were all in; devices are the issue. In these twelve (now eleven) states, two party consent was mandatory to record anyone, even in instances of law.

Now that it has changed, body cameras could become mandatory in the state of Maryland, and will definitely be used — the prediction released by the General Assembly says $7.5 million will go into supplying officers by the end of 2016.

People will turn this into a privacy complaint, and there is no doubt there have and will be instances where that is a logical argument. Personally, I don’t think we don’t need the drama of accusations right now, in Hagerstown or anywhere. Especially in schools where police are a common face and wearing body cameras is a big controversy. As a student in Hagerstown specifically, I don’t have an issue with body cameras personally, and neither do my classmates as far as I can tell.

“I feel like it will be more useful than harmful. They’ll have to call in less witnesses, which is good, and with hard proof police brutality disputes won’t be disputes,” said one student at Barbara Ingram School For The Arts, my high school.

This seemed to be general opinion. “It makes me feel more safe, knowing that there is a video record of what really happens if something goes wrong.”

Yet some did disagree. “I don’t feel comfortable being filmed all the time,” said one. “It seems a bit excessive.”

Still, there are more instances in which body cameras have proved police misconduct than there are privacy complaints. Arrest rates have gone down. Complaints of brutality have gone down.
And now in Hagerstown — my home, my school — we will hopefully be safer.

Police Car

Rachael Newby is a Sophomore at Barbara Ingram School for the Arts

Posted in Culture

HalloWhat? What Does This Holiday Even Hallow-Mean?

By Amelia Lowry

The frigid wind has begun to pick up again. Sweaters aredownload worn by everyone this time of year, for style and for warmth. The air is thin. Everything smells like a pumpkin-spice latte. From the corner of the street, one can see pumpkin-spiced something or other being advertised in the windows of multiple shops. The sound of dead leaves crunching and people bragging of how many pumpkin-spice lattes/chais/milkshakes/cookies/etc. they have had fills our ears. Gloved thumbs skate up and down phone screens, revealing artistic and expressive photos of — you guessed it — pumpkin-spice lattes.

People call this Halloween.

For a lot of us, Halloween used to mean dressing up as our favorite superhero or Disney character and being escorted by parents up and down the streets of our hometown, watching hungrily as candy was dumped into our candy carrying devices. It was the one day a year where we were actually told to accept candy from strangers, a thrilling contrast to the other 364 days out of the year that we were told otherwise. Parents take hours out of their peanut butter and jam-packed schedules to set up the spookiest front lawn for Halloween night, all the while spending large chunks of their salaries to buy things like fake coffins and gravestones and little motion-censored rubber heads that scream when little kids walk by. Some of my most terrifying memories have taken place on October 31st, but the blows were always softened by bulging pillowcases full of candy.

People donning devil horns and red pleather walk the streets this night, alongside Frankenstein’s monster and his dead wife. There are Jasmines, Aladdins, Annas, Elsas, the occasional Pocahontas or Mulan. Vampires, witches, ghouls, and trolls are just a few of the creatures that make frequent appearances — and as scary as this is, the fright-level drops every year. Just a fraction. Halloween has transformed from genuinely fearing for one’s life to sipping on a pumpkin-spice latte while dressed like a Disney princess.

Thousands upon thousands of years ago, in Ireland and Scotland and Wales, there were no Starbucks coffee houses. The townspeople passed the time by working on their farms and milking sheep, or whatever it was that townsfolk would do. So, for the people living thousands of years ago, harvest-time was a pretty big deal and the 31st of October was just another day of celebration, another day of harvest. Unfortunately, there will always be that one guy who wants to screw everything up and in ancient Ireland and Scotland and Wales, that one guy was actually large groups of superstitious people who believed that the faeries would come out and the souls of the dead would return on October 31st, looking for bodies to possess. You know, that one guy.

This idea that the spirits of the dead would return was not as kooky as it may sound. November second, two days after Halloween, was regarded by the Roman Catholic Church as All Souls’ Day, where it was custom to honor the lives of those who had passed onto the next life. Some church folks would go from door to door and mutter prayers for those who had died. But as far as the groups of one guys were concerned, souls were not something to celebrate, but to fear.

“Tommy’s dad never did like me,” one might have said. “I bet he’d like to inhabit my body and devour my soul.”

Whether their thought process was logical or not, they would brandish torches and loud voices instead of prayer. They saw it as their duty to fend off the wayward spirits and souls of the dead — to protect the living — and they’d fill the streets with blundering noise in an attempt to scare off the supernatural.images

Over time, many people stopped being so superstitious and thanks to grocery stores and preservatives and worldwide shipping, harvest was mostly forgotten about and now we can have apples and corn all year long. Consequently, the one guy has had to evolve into a much different species to annoy people in 2015, but that’s a different story for a different time.

As more time went on, pumpkin-spice lattes were created, and so were Starbucks, and now there is no autumn without them. There’s nothing spookier than spending ten dollars on a coffee, right?

This year, as you parade around town in your ‘80s-themed costumes (yikes!) or your skeletal face makeup, just keep in the back of your mind the real purpose — to scare away spirits to make sure they don’t steal the bodies of your family members. Maybe All Hallow’s Eve is your favorite holiday, maybe you really do believe in faeries and that black cats will bring you bad luck. As you celebrate Halloween, remember all the people who have lived and died, think of their mega-great-grandchildren and how the times are changing. No matter whether you’ll be on your knees begging for candy or warding off ghosts, at least you’ll be able to dress up like your favorite-whatever while you do it.

Lastly, as watered-down as this holiday gets, your life is probably better than having to milk chickens every day and being made to change the horse straw. And if you have nothing else to be excited for besides an extra ten dollars, you can go get yourself a pumpkin-spice latte.

Amelia Lowry is a Sophomore at Barbara Ingram School for the Arts

Posted in 2015-2016, Humor

An Open Letter to Kids on Halloween

By Kaitlin Gertz

Hey, it’s nice to meet you. I’m the teenager you just interrupted. I mean, you did just intrude on my evening with your incessant doorbell ringing and slightly cult-y chants of “Trick or treat!” but I don’t mind. In fact, that’s my ideal night: handing out Butterfingers to a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle who can’t be bothered to put his mask on and an Elsa belting Let It Go. The groans and complaints about how it’s “not the candy I wanted” really give me that warm fuzzy feeling for your generation. Honestly, I cannot think of a more fun time than having to hear third graders on sugar highs screaming outside my door.

Seriously? My front porch lights weren’t on! Why the hell are you ringing my doorbell? Do the machine guns attached to the sprinklers not deter you? What about the Ouija board with claw marks hung over my door? Can’t you see that I’m not enabling your pathetic groveling? I have actual work to do. Being in high school is tough. And you know what makes it tougher? People who haven’t even heard of the SATs banging on my door asking for handouts. I have two things to tell you. One, I’m broke. I can’t even buy myself candy. I don’t know how your Darth Vader costume is going to convince me  to pay for your sweet tooth (although it does have a really cool cape). Two, don’t give me a disappointed look when you realize my bowl is empty. It’s called the real world, welcome to it.

That doesn’t mean the Halloween spirit is over! I’d love to take it back (to two thousand years ago) and start the sacrifices. In fact, the old Celtic All Hallows’ Eve is supposed to be about celebrating the dead. If you run across my yard and litter your candy wrappers, I might just have to get a jump-start. There are sidewalks for a reason; the government does not just waste our tax dollars like that. I might just start lobbing candy at the end of my driveway from my porch so you children can’t possibly mess anything up. You want your candy? Fetch.

I was in your Disney princess shoes once. I know how exhilarating it all is. But teenagers are trapped in a horrible Halloween situation. The days of dressing up and roaming around in the hopes someone will toss some candy in a plastic Jack-o-Lantern held tightly in your grasp are over. We’re too old for them. At the same time, we’re too young to go to “real” Halloween parties; i.e. ones not chaperoned by parents. It’s a miserable time, filled with test grades and college plans and stress instead of mouths of rainbow-colored candy and fake blood and glow-in-the-dark masks. Do you know how much I’d give to be one of you again? I love Halloween. Like That’s So Seventies! Show (before your time) once said, “It’s like we’re too old to trick-or-treat and too young to die.”

So go ahead and have your Halloween fun. Just remember, I’m not the only grumpy teenager who doesn’t need to be bothered by your (completely unnecessary) shrieking. I know you’re having a good time. Try to take a break from being monsters every once and a while and remember some manners. Because if not? Well, that Ouija board wasn’t just for show. Trick or treat, motherfuckers.


A Very Stressed Teenager

Kaitlin Gertz is a Sophomore at Barbara Ingram School for the Arts

Posted in 2015-2016, Arts

What Not to Do on a Hayride


By Maddie Sokoloski

As the bitter cold of the October air nipped at my bare legs protruding from my scratchy skirt, I walked from the last house offering trick-or-treat candy.  Quickly, I scurried, alongside my three siblings and three of our friends to my mom’s car.  The seven of us jumped into it, hoping for some refuge from the chill. We shut the doors with a snap, leaving the cold breeze to tap at the doors and leave its frosty breath on the windows.

“Let’s go to trunk-or-treat,” my mom said as she drove us from the house.  We cheered with excitement.  

In my hometown, we have an event on Halloween called trunk-or-treat.  After we go trick-or-treating, we go to the parking lot of a building in town.  There, we always find a dozen or so cars with trunks wide open, handing out goodies to the kids. Year after year we discover the same people; stingy folk who always give us nuts or apples instead of candy, people with full blown haunted houses in the trunks of their cars, even some firemen with their truck who hand out chocolate and fire safety coloring pages.

After making our way through the rows of vehicles, the trick-or-treat‘s and thank you‘s ringing from our chorus of mouths, we went inside to warm ourselves up and bring our numb fingers back to life.  My mother got herself a cup of coffee, causing us to turn up our noses with disgust.  We searched through the buffet of drinks and desserts set up on the table (as if we needed more sugar.) After tearing through an impossible amount of sugar cookies and orange soda, we went outside to wait for the return of the hayride.

When it arrived, a cluster of people climbed down from the trailer so the next group of people could get on.  Within that group was the seven of us, some kids we recognized from school, and an assortment of bored parents accompanying kids who were too little to ride by themselves. Once everyone was in the trailer and sitting patiently on hay bales that tickled my legs, we set off.  A few kids waved at their parents, some people cheered, and the adults still looked incredibly bored.  

Until that day, I had never been on a hayride.  So I didn’t have prior experience to know that hayrides are incredibly boring. Usually, people go on hayrides to go sightseeing, look at parts of a town they never bothered to explore.  We, on the other hand, grew up in our tiny town and everyone had already seen it. It was too dark out to see anyway, so we decided to have some fun.

That’s when the screaming started.  

My siblings, our friends, and I started yelling our hearts out singing songs from various TV shows and infomercials. We sang the theme song from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, even though we only knew one line of the song. We repeated those same four words over and over again, much to the annoyance of all the unfortunate parents.  

‘Shut up!” screamed a boy who went to school with my sister.  She stuck her tongue out at him and sang louder.  He stuck his fingers in his ears and tried to yell louder than us, beginning his endless loop of “lalalalalala.”

Ten minutes later we got off of the hayride, everyone practically ran away from us, shooting dirty looks as they did.  The seven of us hopped off peacefully and walked over to find my mom.  We told her about the hayride, each of us interrupting the others.  When we got to the end of the story my mom looked appalled with our behavior.  Gathering up our candy, we left pretty soon after that.

We were never allowed on that hayride again.

Maddie Sokoloski is a Sophomore at Barbara Ingram School for the Arts

Posted in 2015-2016, Culture

Halloween Costume or Creative Lingerie?

By Alanna Anderson

If you’ve decided to go trick or treating this year you may’ve been bombarded with questions on how you’ll go about it. Will you go with a younger sibling to have a more plausible excuse? Will you go with a group of friends to have company? Or will you take the journey alone? There’s also the tedious decision of buying or making a costume.

If you’re like a lot of other people then you either don’t know how to sew, don’t want to take the time to learn how to sew, or don’t have time to sew–this leaves the Halloween Store.

It’s a building full of easily broken props, dramatic masks, and other things that you may never pick up again. It’s also full of costumes that are quirky, disturbing, and slightly childish. Not just those but also the female costumes; the female costumes that get shorter and flashier by the year. Despite the constant pressure for girls to not show skin, but also not be a prude, Halloween seems to be one of the biggest days where girls are supposed to show more than their male counterparts. After a quick journey through Google Images I can say one thing for sure: I’m a bit offended.

For starters, the male and female bacon costume. A choice for those who believe that bacon flavored toothpaste isn’t enough to meet their daily requirement of bacon exposure. Or bacon flavored floss, bacon patterned sandals, or bacon sunglasses and phone cases. The guy is in a full black outfit, everything covered except for his hands, feet, and face. The bacon part of it comes into play with a long strip of bacon like cloth covering the front of his body. And I can’t forget to include his smile, he sure seems to be enjoying looking like bacon. The girl is wearing a dress version of bacon. It’s a single strap dress that looks like bacon where one side ends on a pointed angle at her knee, and the other ends above mid-thigh. She pairs this off with light beige heels and a Miss America smile.

Screen Shot 2015-10-30 at 11.17.59 AM

The next costumes that I compared were the male and female mouse costumes. The costume for people who are a mouse, duh. The man is completely covered in a grey onesie, except for the white oval-shaped patch on his stomach, and the mouse face and ears on the hood. He is posed with his hands bent at the wrist and his face partially covered by the hood. The female has on a tight, strapless dress that is all grey except for the white patch that extends from the start of the dress under her cleavage, to the beginning of her waist. If you look closely you can see a slight hood on her head where the mouse ears are. The dress ends above mid-thigh and she poses with her hands on her hips and her legs apart on her all black wedge heels.

The last, and most…intriguing, costume was the Ernie costume. In case you need a reminder, he is the orange monster on Sesame Street who annoys Bert and sings about his rubber ducky. The man dons a complete costume. His pants are blue, and connected to it is a striped yellow, red, and white shirt. Resting on his face is a big Ernie mask, and in one hand he holds a rubber duckie. The woman is wearing blue booty shorts and a long sleeved shirt that is striped yellow, blue, white, and red, but only covers 2/3 of her breasts because the front ends in a bikini fashion. Blue suspenders connect the shorts and shirt together and on her head is a small hat in the shape of the upper half of Ernie’s face.

This article wouldn’t be complete without a  mention of the other costumes that also stole my attention (along with fabric from women’s clothing). These honorable costume mentions go to the great white shark, Oscar from Sesame Street, Bert from Sesame Street, a half blue/black and half gold/white dress, Nemo, Scooby-Doo, and corn.    

The first and foremost thought in my mind: is fall not cold where they live? I can’t imagine walking outside in something that revealing with how cold it gets in Hagerstown. Second, why walk around in heels that high if you have to go from door to door all night? And third, and most importantly, why do the girls have to show more skin?

Overall, it is a person’s choice of how much skin they want to show (in the correct setting), but to mass produce only revealing costumes seems to remove that choice. How are girls supposed to gain confidence in an appearance fueled culture if they go from Tinkerbell to ‘sexy’ Ernie straight away with no lapse for confidence in between? As a society how are we supposed to empower girls to have self-worth when they’re constantly being told what is appropriate and what isn’t — only to be told that on a holiday meant for fun they have to dress a certain way. That’s almost like someone telling a pre-schooler that they have to learn the alphabet to succeed — then handing them the letters out of order.

In a society where the sexualization of females is becoming more and more apparent, how are we doing our part to overcome it? How will we ensure that girls aren’t attacked just for replicating the things they see all around them? In this society, where is the balance between a woman’s self-confidence and self-worth and what society expects of her? How much more self-esteem has to be destroyed before the balance is finally found?

Alanna Anderson is a Sophomore at Barbara Ingram School for the Arts

Posted in 2015-2016, Arts

Autumn’s Travels


By Kellie-Ann Morris

Autumn has clocked in
taking shift,
filling in for summer has no more heat strokes to give
and winter winds haven’t gathered enough strength.
The season is a teenager
with frequent mood swings.
From misty eyed mornings
to bright smiles in the afternoon,
the unpredictable weather
leads to dress code confusion.
Despite the temperamental forecast,  
it’s hard not to admire
what fall has done.
Long goes the green,
as the fairies are busy painting leaves.
Shades of brown, orange, and red are periodically speckled onto nature’s canvas.
The wind is a tour guide,
pulling the leaves from their branches,
teaching them how to take flight.
Fallen leaves can be found
braided into hair,  
raked to make a bed,
and crumbled under careless feet.
Follow the leaf trails
into the forest,
see what paths you can forge
alongside the woodland creatures,
before winter’s touch destroys it.

Kellie-Ann Morris is a Freshman at Barbara Ingram School for the Arts

Posted in 2015-2016, Arts

The Dangers of Haunted Houses and Screaming Paintings

By Josh Snyder

She remained, lurking in shadows cast by spirits and haunts alike, things that rattled chains at night and moaned in despair with no physical mouth to do so. With her she brought light, shining into the dark of each shadow and killing off the threat of the ghosts, lighting her way as she sunk further into the black of abandoned houses out in the middle of the woods. She brought both her wide eyes and quiet, warm gasps that showed in the cold air of the night. The darkness was hers in those moments and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

This instance was only a continuation of that. She would never expect anything more than whispers over her shoulder or a shape dart across the moonlight bleeding in from the distressed windows of the other houses she’d ventured into alone, besides the creeps she sought out that dwelled inside. No, she’d never expect more. She would only hope and hope for something to fall over, for her calls into the dusty halls of the place to be answered with movement that wasn’t accompanied by a pulse. All she wanted was for a vase to fall, for a door to slam, for something to touch her shoulder and make her shriek and dash in panic.

She’d read of this place so many times the writing of the articles might as well been stamped under her eyelids. It was a stereotypical story, a man gone mad with a knife and a family that would soon bleed prettily for him in the night, a wife with child, two sons and a daughter. Although she tried her damnedest, she could never find a picture of the young dead girl to go along with her tragic story, all that she could put with it was a bloody white dress that was shredded by a slashing blade. Just thinking about it made her shiver where she stood, on the doorstep of the decaying home. She gripped the doorknob and immediately it fell at her feet with a loud knock of metal on wood, making her jump back and cringe at herself.

The door creaked when she shoved it open, having to force it without the knob, and cringing again upon hearing it echo throughout the structure. Her eyes danced along the moonbeams that exposed what would otherwise be hidden by the consuming black of the house. From her back pocket she pulled out a flashlight, stepping into the house and appreciating the eeriness of it before flipping the switch of her light and following the brightness that cut through pitch black to a bloodstained floor. Instantly her lips turned up into a small smile at the sight of it, and her eyes darted up to look around the room, looking at all she’d been wanting to explore for months now. The walls were cracked and covered in a layer of dust and dirt, as was the rest of the place. A thin film covered the stairwell that abruptly ended about 3/4 up, the rest having fallen in.

Her steps were followed by the sound of the floorboards struggling to support her weight, barely managing to do so, squeaking along as she looked from wall to wall. Crooked and cracked picture frames were strewn across the walls, depicting landscapes and happy faces. It broke her heart to think of them bloody, dead, decaying in unmarked graves. Stepping in front of a particularly big picture, her eyes scanning it up and down, her heart rate sped up.

It was the girl.

The little girl, the man’s daughter, the one he had slaughtered, was right in front of her. Or rather a picture of her was. She took the time to observe and learn her features, admiring the soft curls of her long ginger hair and the boredom forever instilled into her golden, hazel eyes. She felt sympathy for how she thought the painting might not have brought out the true beauty of the girl, despite how nicely it had been made. A light blue blossom rested on her left ear, and it did little justice to the warm colors of the painting besides the cool contrast of the sky blue. She forced herself to drag her eyes over the painting again and again, memorizing and admiring until the colors seemed to blur together.

Her eyes bored into the dead gaze painted onto the girl, capturing the swirl of paint until, with a loud and disruptive bang, the painting fell. The glass was jagged against her; it pierced her flesh and pulled at her body when she struggled under it, breathless but screaming and shaking against the portrait. Shockwaves of pain shot through her with each movement, but she didn’t stop thrashing because of it.

She stopped because the paint was bleeding onto her, she thought,

The painting was bleeding.

Just like me. You’re going to go just like ME! SCREAMING AND RIPPED APART!”

She didn’t think about the rarity of hearing something so clear and powerful from an entity that was not living, she only thought about how she was drowning in blood that she couldn’t distinguish from her own, that the glass was sinking deeper into her, that she wasn’t the only one screaming in the house.

But, for a little while longer, she was the only one with a pulse.

James Snyder is a Freshman at Barbara Ingram School for the Arts 

Posted in 2015-2016, Lifestyle

I’m Only Human

By Derek Frazier

With October being Annual Breast Cancer Awareness month, I wanted to credit this piece to my Grandmother, in honor of her bravery and courage while facing cancer.

“It’s ok to be angry,” my mother said. All my life I have tried to keep my emotions in check — I have a temper that I’m not proud of and it tends to be destructive when I loose control. I become agitated, and I yell, and I feel a strong desire to break things. I have had a pretty strong grip on my emotions but that control slipped through my fingers when my mother told me the news. My grandmother was battling breast cancer. “She didn’t want to tell you guys because she wanted you to focus on the last few weeks of your schoolwork,” my mother continued.

I’ve always been close with my grandmother. Closer now than ever before. This was because of her and my grandfather’s decision to move to Hagerstown with us almost a decade ago. Nana is the one who picks me up when school is over, and we have strong heart to heart conversations on the ride home. We talk about the weather, and politicians, and media when we aren’t trying to outplay each other in the “punch buggy” game. I couldn’t believe that my Nana was sick. I had grown so accustomed to her presence. Her laughter. Her wisdom. Her sarcasm. I couldn’t imagine a life without her.

My sister Evee was riding shotgun when Mom told us the news, I was in the back seat. It was easier for me to hide the tears that slowly  trickled down my face. Though trying to keep my breathing steady was difficult. Mom could hear the uneven rasps as I tried to breathe just as she could see my sister’s tears.

” I know you guys are sad,” my mother said, “it’s ok to be sad. It’s also ok to be worried for her and it’s ok to be angry.”

It’s ok to be angry?  I remember thinking. To me nothing about this was ok. I was angry at her cancer, and angry that we were having this conversation in a car. I wanted to scream. I have never felt so overwhelmed.

I had too many questions. How advanced was the cancer? When was she getting treatment? Will she be ok? Was the cancer terminal?

The worst part: I couldn’t do anything! Due to my height and personality my family nicknamed me “the Gentle Giant” and I was raised to always be positive, to help others. But it’s frustrating when this is something I can’t do anything about. I can’t combat it with cheesy one liners or humor. I can’t make the cancer cells go away with a hug or a warm smile. No matter how hard I try. The feeling of uselessness was unbearable. I don’t like being angry but that’s all that I seem to be right now.

I’m not mad at my Nana, with all that she’s been through, I don’t think I ever could be. I’m angry at cancer. I’m angry that it’s put her through hell. I’m angry that it decided now is the time to act up, when my family needs stability.

I’m so proud of my Grandmother. Nana has overcome so many challenges following her diagnosis. Hurdles and problems that I could never face and defeat in my wildest dreams. Her strength and resilience is the only reason I haven’t broken into pieces yet. Both her courage  and my mother saying it’s ok to feel anger. I’m allowed to be mad and enraged because sometimes that’s the only way we can comprehend and handle things like this. It’s what makes us human.

I made a vow when my mother told us about the cancer — I promised myself that I would be strong for my grandmother. I swore to stand by her with confidence and determination as she has healed and fought these past few months. I would never let her see my anger, only my smiles. I hope one day that she reads this piece. And I want her to know that I will stand by her even after her last dose of chemotherapy, she has been my role model and an endless source of inspiration.

Derek Frazier is a Sophomore at Barbara Ingram School for the Arts