Posted in 2018-2019, Non-Fiction, November 2018

Type of Love

By Gabriella Snyder

She offered the type of love that looked like tired eyes at 4:00 in the morning. I gave her my time, my sleep. Her mornings began when my afternoons started. When rolling out of bed late for school, she woke up to brewed coffee and eggs on the stove. The type of love that rimmed my eyes with dark circles, her eyes bright with energy. Lights in my room remained on when facetiming her, making sure to comeback my desperation for shut eye. Her lights were always off, preparing to drift to sleep. At times I wondered if I should allow my lights to turn off and for my eyes to flutter close. Maybe I should have allowed my muscles to loosen the tight knots of deep care, just as she did. I let my sleep deprived thoughts silence when remembering her. The type of love where I convinced myself that she cared for me, even loved me.

She offered the type of love that sounded like whimpers for attention. I never questioned why I put all of my focus on her. I told myself that she was my soulmate. The type of love where my eyes were fixed on making her wishes my command. I made sure every beg for attention that quivered from her lips were met with my comforting hands. The type of love that made sure her blue thoughts transformed into ones of yellow hope. Her praise was quiet, nearly a whisper. She made sure there was no other sound that could be heard past her whine of seeking security and admiration. I could never match her whimpers of attention. She was the center of my world. The type of love that adjusted my hearing to the pitch of her cries.

She offered the type of love that tasted like honey in my throat. The type of love that was sweet and thick. She didn’t know what love was. She thought it only consisted of the sugary kind of taste. The type of love that only existed in romantic movies, with boxes of chocolates and bouquets of flower. The taste of love that would blanket across your tastebuds but only last a second. She has flooded my taste of love with honey.

She offered the type of love that felt like pins and needles tracing my body, cutting into my hope for us. I loved her past the pain she caused. I told her I would never leave her, never let the pins and needles poke too deep in my skin. I held onto the past experiences I had with her: This is when our love was like flowers blooming in my chest, was like love growing in my belly, vines lacing my throat. Her words of poison unrooted my flowers, leaving stems and thorns behind.

It’s quiet now. The type of love that I’ve been wishing for.   

Posted in 2018-2019, Non-Fiction, November 2018

On My Mother’s Sister

By Patrick McCarthy

I don’t see you as much of an aunt anymore. Sure, you have the same dark, thick hair as the rest of your siblings. You have the same sharp nose. The same creases on your face, running from your nose to the corners of your mouth. The same rigid jawline. The way you cackle, exposing your Long Island roots, matches the rest of the family. Yet my tongue struggles to place the word Aunt before your name. You seem like an old acquaintance.

Dad says that you’re manipulative. He has seen the way you corrode your siblings, has witnessed my mother fall under your hypnosis. Mom stays away from you. She says that you can tug at grandma’s loose strings until she rips open and gushes out cash. She describes how you used to stumble back home at 2 A.M reeking of vodka. She told me about when she called the cops on you. Told me about your first time in rehab, and your second, and your third. Told me how you would spit on her, and kick, and punch, and scream at her. She says that you stole her Beatles records when you were younger. “Probably pawned ‘em for drug money.”

A few years ago — around November — Mom sat me down at the kitchen table. She fumbled with her fingers as her throat began to twist. She said that you probably weren’t going to make it to Christmas.

An immediate silence rushed down the walls and filled up the room. My hands were the first in the room to respond. I trembled as I smeared snot into my sleeve. Tears seeped from my eyes like bubbling tar. I didn’t say anything; the air in my lungs was too thin to create words. Mom brought my chin to her shoulder. She held me in her hospitable embrace as I began to regain my composure. She didn’t tell me about familial dysautonomia, or about how your nerve cells were withering.

I didn’t visit you in the hospital. Mom didn’t want me to see how sick you were. She didn’t want me to hear the rattling of your emaciated ribcage. She didn’t want me to know how much of you had dwindled away.

So I wrote you a letter. I slowly pressed my pencil to the wide-ruled paper. I spent minutes on each word, making sure every curve and angle was drawn perfectly. I told you that I loved you and that you were going to get better.  I don’t know if your achy fingers ever lifted the paper. I don’t know if your tired eyes ever crept through the sentences. I wonder if the letter helped you during recovery. If it helped you sneak past Christmas. Did my blind optimism ever nourish your starving muscles? Did my “I love you”s ever brighten the crimson of your blood?

The last time we spoke was at your daughter’s graduation. We hugged the moment we saw each other. Your shoulder blades pierced through your shirt and scraped my arms. Cigarette smoke plumed from your lips. Your voice crumbled into gravel. “You’ve gotten so tall,” you said with a sharp grin. Your coffee brown eyes were growing misty.

I wonder where you are now. Is my contact still on your phone? Are you still on Long Island? Are you still letting pills release fog into your skull? What tattered house are you inhabiting? Whose fingers are interlaced with yours? Who is falling in love with the deep milky white of your scars? Who are you screaming at with your shattered glass voice? What drink is rushing down your throat, stinging your esophagus and landing in your empty stomach? Do you know about your new niece? Do you know that she looks just like you? That she has your coffee brown eyes? That I feel sick when I stare into them.

Posted in 2017-2018, Non-Fiction

He Planted Roses

By Derek Frazier

Rest In Peace, Robert Frazier Sr.

My grandfather was a great man. He could’ve lit up a room with his laughter and smile. He grew roses, these beautiful scarlet blossoms that ringed the perimeter of his house. He also drank his coffee decaf, and played golf like a professional. Granddad also had a history with heart problems. Nine years ago he had a triple bypass surgery, out of fear that something would happen to him.

I got the text from my father during my Creative Writing class. “Mom and I are at the hospital. Nana took Granddad in an hour ago.”

“Do you want to come up so you can say goodbye?” my mother asked when she called.

An hour later I carpooled with my sisters to Bedford to be with him in his final moments. I held my breath in the elevator to his hospital room. My father told me what happened as we hugged. Granddad had a massive heart attack. He dropped to his bathroom floor and was rushed to the emergency room after my grandmother, Nana, heard him fall and called for paramedics. When we got there my parents and grandmother were already there. Their eyes were bloodshot and their faces were slick with tears. Granddad was wrapped in a blanket, poked in three different places with needles and tubes, and a oxygen mask was strapped to his face.

Each gasp of breath, every shudder of his body, felt like his last.

There were ladybugs in his room. Totally at home, their red carapaces contrasting with the white walls.

“You can talk to him,” my mother said as she pulled me close. “He can hear you.”

I didn’t know what to say. A part of me thought it was silly, he had trouble hearing even with hearing aids. What would you say to a man who came to every birthday party? And sent Christmas cards with checks tucked inside?

What would you say? To a man with milky eyes, and diagnosed by the doctor as brain dead?

“Hey Granddad,” I choked out, “Thank you.” I had to say it several times because I couldn’t hear it over the sound of my own sobs. “I promise,” I said, “I will be a man you’ll be proud of.”

I am a helper, it’s how I was raised. Being told, “There’s nothing you can do except sit and keep him company,” was the hardest thing I’ve ever heard. I held his hand, and I could feel the lead of his bones as his body twitched and spasmed.

And I prayed dozens of prayers that I didn’t remember learning. They spilled from my mouth like pennies.

“Be strong,” I kept telling myself. “Be strong for Nana.”

My father told me once that he was surprised I didn’t want to become a doctor. The reason is because losing people isn’t in my nature.

There’s so much I wish I could have shown my grandfather that now I’ll never get the chance to: my wedding, high school graduation, my first dinosaur discovery, his great granddaughter.

Granddad said he always wanted wanted to donate his body to science. Maybe the Buddhists are right: that matter and life are reborn for new growth or the next life. Even now, planning to tattoo one of his roses on my arm, I keep thinking about all the lives that he will save. It could be anyone; a teenager in Colorado, a transplant patient in New York, a little boy who needs blood. His very cells could cure cancer one day.

So with that thought at least, I am content. And I look forward to seeing him and his beloved roses in his next life.

 

Posted in 2017-2018, Non-Fiction

If You Had Stayed

By Heaven Angleberger

I don’t have any memory of you. You are the one person who has been shut completely out of my life. You left because you couldn’t take care of me. You didn’t have the money or the time or the energy to handle being a mother. Dad says that keeping me away from you is better for my sake. That I am better off without you because where I am now, I can be provided with all the things needed to succeed in life. As I have grown older, I have developed an understanding of what really happened. I think a lot about the life you are living.

I have always wondered many things about you. What you look like. If you are short or tall. Whether you have blonde or brunette hair. Why you didn’t stay. I wonder about who you are and what kind of life you are leading without me. Do you think about me? Do you think about the way you betrayed my trust when you left me behind, how you put all the responsibility on Dad’s shoulders?

I always thought that it was my fault that you left. That I had done something that made you think your daughter wasn’t good enough. That I had not been the daughter you dreamed of every night. Would you have stayed if I looked differently or had been more like you in some extraordinary way?  

Dad and I have the same smile. There is something lopsided about it that can warm an entire room. I wonder if you have the same lopsided, warm grin. We don’t listen to the same music– he listens to heavy metal while I listen to pop, sometimes country. Do we have this connection? I wonder sometimes what little things that I didn’t inherit from Dad, I inherited from you.

If you could only see me now. You would see an intelligent fourteen-year-old who is the goalie for her soccer team. I dive and jump to block kicks and make my team the best in the district. I am a straight A student that has always been at the top of my classes. I stay focused on my work and set an example for my fellow classmates. I write days on end and get carried away into the world of my words. I set the goal of getting into Barbara Ingram, the ninth-rated school in Maryland. After working my butt off for a month, I received notice that I had been accepted in. I am daring for the time I cut off fifteen inches of my hair to show my inner self. I wonder if I am anything like you.

But I am more like my new mom than anyone else.

She is daring for going back to college to pursue her dream of becoming an engineer. She completed her many pages of homework each night while caring for four children. She is intelligent and has completed each year of college passing with an A or higher. She is everything that I have dreamt a mother could be. We go back-to-school shopping at Kohl’s, making sure that I start the year with the latest brands. She browses the store for hours searching for the exact style of jeans that I want, never stopping to complain about how long it is taking. When I am sick, we go to Chipotle to catch up on the gossip. I always order the burrito with rice, which instantly makes me feel better.  She makes sure my homework is completed and ready to turn in the next day. If it isn’t, we sit down together to make sure I have a full comprehension of the assignment. Sometimes she will sit down with me, on my bed, to talk about the important lessons of life. She doesn’t care that I am not “her own.”  She loves me as much as any mother would love her child.  That’s more than you ever did.

I guess I will never understand the reason why you left. But I am okay with that. Now that you are gone, I finally know what it looks and feels like to be a part of a family. My new mother takes your place as if you had never been there at all.

 

Posted in 2017-2018, Non-Fiction

Something Like Larry

By Emilea Huff

In the morning, I see him. His hands are on the wheel, his voice greeting me as I step into the shuttle. He wishes me a good morning with a smile so endearing I feel like I’ve known him in a past life. There are wrinkles around his mouth, not from stress, but from smiling his whole life— just enough to leave a mark for every passerby to notice. I don’t know anything about this figure with the red baseball cap and the stubble that frames his aged face. I imagine his name is something like Larry, or Wayne, or George.

He could have a daughter— ten years old with pigtails and pressed-daffodil freckles. He could have a wife who spends her time drinking white wine and pasting photos of aunts and uncles and cousins into scrapbooks. Maybe his favorite food is lasagna, with the tiny leaves of oregano sprinkled on top. I have not known him long, but I imagine his younger brother has a wife and child, too. Some happy family that I’ve constructed in my head, all before I’ve even taken my seat.

Maybe he has a ranch-style house with blue shutters, like my own house used to be. The Larry in my head has a pug— not for him, but for his daughter who loves them so very much. He has a laugh that sounds like an engine starting, I imagine, something that makes his wife’s heart thump. He drives a bus because he loves the thrill of being on the open road, but now his brother makes fun of him because he’s going the same route every day. It may be the same route, he says, but at least I don’t work in a cubicle. Now his brother is laughing harder.

I wish I could say know him. I don’t know if he has a child or a wife or a younger brother that works in a cubicle. He is all a mystery to me, even his name. Whoever he is— whether he is Larry or not, I hope the life he lives is something he deserves. Nevertheless, I am determined to make him laugh. Just to see if he really does sound like an engine.

 

Posted in 2017-2018, Non-Fiction

Reflections V.1

By Derek Frazier 

Growing up and recognizing that my high school experience is over because I am a senior, creates a looking-in-the-mirror kind of mindset in me. It makes me pause, and look back on the wisdom I have developed over the last four years, and what affected me the most. For me, it was learning the difference between a defeat and a failure.

I have a very disciplined work ethic, and that has bled into my personality as I have matured. If I am given a challenge, I will move heaven and Earth to accomplish that goal. I don’t feel satisfied until I have given it my one hundred percent, even if it costs me mealtime or sleep.

As I’ve grown, however, my self-doubt has almost manifested into a voice, one that I associate with Satan himself. When I did something that I knew I could do, such as brave my fear of heights on a zip line, or make a medical decision at work when a little kid is injured, the voice whispers “you can’t do this,” or “why are you even trying?”

I will not say I’m embarrassed that sometimes I gave into the voice, but I am ashamed of the effects. As someone who still strives to work hard, I melted down when I performed a job poorly. My anxieties would go into overdrive, and start to hammer a massive amount of stress into me. I would start to hyperventilate, pace back and forth, and talk faster than I already do. The voice would start to repeat, “failure, failure, failure.”

Even now, my brain is prone to overthinking. So when the voice got louder I started wondering, “What else can’t I do, what else have I failed to do?” When often I hadn’t failed or done anything wrong. Unfortunately, I am still plagued with the symptoms of overthinking, just not to the same degree.

Meditations on who I am as a person helped me quiet that voice, as did yoga and spending time reflecting in nature. There is something very intimate and enlightening about dissecting the things that make you who you are. It’s like standing naked in front of a mirror and recounting the stories of how you got all your scars. I’m not saying go into the park and everything will get sorted out, I’m saying it helps to close your eyes and teach yourself acceptance.

To me, failure isn’t a bad thing anymore, its an opportunity to improve, to accept that you didn’t do it right. It’s not an ugly “F” written in sharpie, it’s the universe’s way of giving you permission to try again. It’s okay to cry and admit that whatever it is you’re facing in life might just be a little too much for you. Just don’t give up on yourself.

That is defeat, that is letting something beat you. The red pill versus the blue. It’s the mental decision to give up and let that voice feed off you.

When I was younger I studied martial arts, and I had a very serious Sensei. He would always tell us that we weren’t trying hard enough when we were putting our everything into the forms and repetition of movement. Looking back, I see the point he was trying to convey about a lack of mental discipline. Karate was more than repeating a kick or a punch, you needed to look past him and prove that you could do it.

But it hurt nonetheless. And after deciding enough was enough, I gave up on karate, convinced that all dojos and martial arts were like that. And now I regret that decision very much. I have trained in other styles of martial arts, and self-defense since, but I regret not proving myself to my Sensei. I wholeheartedly believe that decision is where my voice of self-doubt started. If I had stayed and practiced Karate under a different tutor perhaps things would have been different. That was my first defeat.

I still have anxieties about whether or not I can do something, crippling as they were prior to my self-reflections but not as often as before. I learned to close my eyes, take a breath and clear my mind so I could enjoy a few moments in peace. If I had given into the self-doubting voice. I would never have been a writer. I would never have gained the self assurity that I will become a paleontologist, or dissipated my fears of being a terrible father one day.

This isn’t a statement of triumph, or a claim that I’m better than anyone, this is a reflection on the greatest chapter in the reflection of my life to date, and a hope that it inspires others to do the same.

 

Posted in 2017-2018, Non-Fiction

A Eulogy for Nonfiction

By Heaven Angleberger, Autumn Thrift, and Alison Clingan

Thank you, everyone- classmates and genres alike- for being here today to honor this very unexpected demise. Although we were not exactly what you would call the friendly type, Nonfiction was a very important part of not only our’s but other’s lives as well. Especially yours, Creative Nonfiction. We know that your beloved fraternal twin meant a lot to you.

The first time we met Nonfiction was in our first grade class. Mr. Genre made us take hold of its hand. Although it was abnormally sweaty and disgusting, we held on tight. Throughout the years we learned to become one with Nonfiction. We learned to see Nonfiction for its true self; a know-it-all and not as a bother that always got in the way

We remember Nonfiction was always so strict, proper, and factual. We consistently found it horribly boring, yet they enticed me with their aspirations to entertain and inform, even if they could really only do one of the two. As president of their shelf, they upheld somewhat of a nerdy reputation.

We don’t exactly have much to tell you about Nonfiction other than the fact that it was extremely useful to us. It taught us the ways of DIY and astronomy over the years and we are incredibly thankful for that. Not only did Nonfiction teach us multiple things, but it inspired us to become the type of person that we are today.

We always had this dull fascination with Nonfiction. It was always dragging on about things that we seemed to think didn’t matter. It constantly was spouting fact after fact. Nonfiction and his followers on the shelf went by a motto that we feel the need to share with everyone; “Speak the truth and nothing but the truth.” They wouldn’t even tell a little white lie. So if you looked bad in those pants, you could count on them to tell you.

Even though Nonfiction wasn’t our favorite genre, all the other genres looked up to Nonfiction as a mentor. How they could stand it, we have no idea. Although Nonfiction, also known as “motormouth” was a pain at times we all were reassured by Nonfiction’s presence.

Nonfiction, we wish you the best in the afterlife. Rest in Peace, wherever you may be. Thank you to all who came, I’m sure Nonfiction is there looking down on us, thanking us for today and wishing us well on our next history test.