Poetry, Short Stories & Personal Essays

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Published Date:02-07-2017
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Seeking to encourage Wynea and recognize excellence College in creative writing among Student students at the College Writing and in area High Schools. Awards 2 2 0 0 1 1 2 3 Award Winning Poetry, Short Stories & Personal Essays 13th Annual 13th AnnualAward Winning Poetry, Short Stories & Personal Essays 2012 - 2013 “Seeking to encourage and recognize excellence in creative writing among students at Wayne College and area High Schools.” www.wayne.uakron.edu/learning-center/writing-center.dot Selection Committee Dr. John P. Kristofco Emeritus Professor of English Dr. Susanna K. Horn Coordinator of Developmental Programs2012-13 Wayne College Writing Awards HigH SCHool Student Writing Awards 2012-2013 High School – Poetry Human Silhouette (1st Place) by SArAH MCCArtney ......................................................... 1 Wayne County Schools Career Center, Teacher: Ms. Mowrey Life (2nd Place) by AlexiS t . KirK .......................................................................................... 2 Highland High School, Teacher: Mr. Brooks I’ll Love You ‘Till the Trees are Soft with Snow (3rd Place) by AbigAil l yAll ................... 5 Jackson High School, Teacher: Mr. Gillette High School – Short Story One Thousand Cranes (1st Place) by AutuMn Koenig ........................................................ 6 Medina High School, Teacher: Mrs. Offenberger Solace (2nd Place) by MAry Anne Snyder ......................................................................... 10 Orrville High School, PSEOP What We’ve Done (3rd Place) by MorgAn elSWiCK .......................................................... 12 Buckeye High School, Teacher: Mrs. Kuty High School – Personal essay The Christmas Without Santa Claus (1st Place) by AbigAil l yAll .................................. 15 Jackson High School, Mr. Gillette In the Shadows (2nd Place) by CArolyn beA tty ............................................................... 17 Dalton High School, Teacher: Mrs. Augspurger First Impressions (3rd Place) by rACHel detWeiler ........................................................ 19 Dalton High School, Teacher: Mrs. Augspurger College Student Writing Awards 2012-2013 Wayne College – Poetry First Lust (1st Place) by Cody Steiger WAld ..................................................................... 22 Raging (2nd Place) by trev A eiHinger ................................................................................ 23 Wayne College – Short Story The Spider, the Fly, and the Cartels (1st Place) by Cody Steiger WAld ..........................24 Crystal (2nd Place) by trev A eiHinger ................................................................................ 28Award Winning HigH ScHool Poetry, Short Stories & Personal Essays 2012 - 2013First Place Poetry - High School Division Human Silhouette Sit for your portrait, my dear one...my loved one Sit and enjoy, motion of motionless movement Just breathing – just sigh Sit for your portrait and tense Muscles relaxing Fade and erase and focus on me as i see you Perching on a stool, borrowed from a canvas studio Windows and white Walls and wood Floors galore Perched, yet not caged oh my loved one Waiting for completion so you can fly away Sip this tea that i offer freely let it warm you from inside out through blood ways and byways, synapses, and causeways i brush your lip to the canvas Sensual...slowly rubbed raw Soft murmured words Confused, ignored Stop moving-stay still, stand tall brushing your hair with a paint brush t angle ochre with vines entwine longing with hatred enemy’s retorted, drunk wine Faded grey t -shirt Worn boots, placid smile Sit for your portrait my dark one, my deep one Sit. drink. dream. remember. My dear one, my loved one, my longed for, long ago forgotten one Sigh movement fog breathe settled My good one, my bad one, myself, and then someone Scraped canvas length die Sarah McCartney Senior Wayne County Schools Career Center 1.Second Place Poetry - High School Division Life once when she was little on a piece of pink heart shaped paper She wrote a story She titled it “lady bugs” because they were her favorite And that’s what it was all about Her parents read it and hugged her And said “that’s our girl” And her teachers smiled And said she had promise And that was the year uncle george showed her James bond And let her be bond when they played pretend And that was the year Her little sister first spoke And said her name And her mother and father kissed a lot And a boy in her class kissed her lips With tongue And she had to ask her big sister About the tongue And before work Her father tucked her in bed at night And he was always there to do it. once when she was young on a piece of paper from the scrap drawer She wrote a story She titled it “Swimming” because that was her favorite And that’s what it was all about Her parents read it and nodded And went to care for her crying little sister And her teachers smiled and Life continued on pg. 3 And said to focus more 2.And that was the year uncle george died And she learned bad things Could happen to her And that was the year Her little sister had surgery With tubes in the ears and lots of tears And her neighbor’s daughter told her What happens after parents kiss And the boy in her class laughed When she cried for her scraped knee And her father didn’t tuck her in bed at night because now she was a big girl And he groaned when she cried for him to do it. once when she was adolescent on a piece of paper torn from her notebook She wrote a story She titled it “Him” because he was her favorite And that’s what it was all about And her parents didn’t read it because she didn’t want them to know but he convinced her to let him see it And was honored she wrote a poem about him And her teachers smiled uneasily because they knew something was wrong but she denied it all And that was the year Her uncle’s wife didn’t talk t o the family And that was the year Her little sister learned about What happens after her mother and father kiss And the boy in her class had too much cologne And she coughed when they got close but she got close with him anyway because that’s what he wanted Life continued on pg. 4 And late at night after they fought 3.She tucked herself in bed Her ankle throbbing heavily as she hoped it Wouldn’t bleed. that’s why when she was a little older in a tea stained journal She wrote a story She titled it “Crap” because that’s what it was And that’s what she was as well And she was the only one to read it because she was all alone She gave herself a nod of approval And a cut across her ankle And threw it under her bed because her motivation wouldn’t take her across the room to the trash can. Alexis t . Kirk Senior Highland High School 4.Third Place Poetry - High School Division I’ll Love You ‘Till the Trees Are Soft With Snow A Villanelle i’ll love you ‘till the trees are soft with snow When we have no more life left here to spend And then i’ll take my weary heart and go the moments with you pass so sweet and slow A kind of time on which i can depend i’ll love you ‘till the trees are soft with snow the time will come when i must leave you, though A coming day i greatly apprehend When i will take my weary heart and go no passing words can capture thus my woe not even these rhymed syllables i’ve penned i’ll love you ‘till the trees are soft with snow but winter brings the cold, harsh winds that blow the fairytale, so happy, has to end So then i’ll take my weary heart and go Someday i’ll forget all i used to know My clever heart at last will start to mend i’ll love you ‘till the trees are soft with snow And then i’ll take my weary heart and go Abigail l yall Junior Jackson High School 5.First Place Short Story - High School Division One Thousand Cranes 2030-Mel jeans and listened to classical when the other My fingers play with the edges of a worn kids didn’t steal his headphones. paper crane. There’s never a day that goes by To this day I don’t understand him, maybe without it reminding me of life and passion. My because he was everything I was not. Maybe music students make jokes about why I always because he made me feel emotions I didn’t think have it with me, and laugh about my zeal, but I had. they could never understand. September 27, 2012-Mel Not much got through to me, back then. Today, Joseph has with him a bag full of Momma made me tough, with sinew skin and colorful paper cranes. We are the first two on. a soul of steel. The strength is what got me He’s been bullied a lot lately, and it’s not often through the school bus rides. The boys would we get any time alone on the bus. touch me as I walked down the aisle, there’d “Hey Joseph,” I smile as honestly as I can, be the occasional brawl and the drug lords sold to show him I don’t mean to be a jerk. addiction. I just never cared. “Hi Mel,” he says, and slides into his usual My life was cold, and my only real sparks seat. It takes me aback for a second; I never of emotion came from the boy who sat a seat thought he knew my name. diagonally in front of me on the bus. He was in “I like your cranes,” I say, “they’re beautiful.” the same grade as me, but we never shared And then, for the first time I can remember, the same classes. I was advanced in math and he smiles. science, and from the way he often wrote poetry, “Thanks,” he says sheepishly. “I’m trying to he was probably advanced in language arts- a make a thousand, there’s a legend that says subject I failed to succeed in due to my dry and great fortune will come upon whoever makes a uninsightful writing style. thousand, or whoever they are given to.” His name was Joseph Wolfe, and he made “Is there a special reason you’re doing it?” no sense to me. He never did anything remotely I ask. His face turns to a mix of excitement and offensive, he seldom even talked, but yet misery. everyone tormented him. They broke his things, “They’re for my mom,” he says. “But, well, mocked him, tripped him in the aisle, and did I…if you want…” things to him that unsettled even me. He starts to stammer and his cheeks turn Joseph was an innocent creature; he was pink. slim and awkward with a long pale neck and “Yeah?” I say, trying to urge him on. soft green eyes. He never fought back with his “I want you to have one,” he says, and gives harassers and he did the most peculiar things. me the most genuine smile I think I’ve ever His faithful grey cat followed him half way to the One Thousand cont’d on pg. 7 bus in the mornings; he stumbled over his own 6.seen. His whole face glows and he offers me a to Joseph who looks as crushed as his cranes. delicate pink crane. His eyes are shiny and he tugs at the edges of I think I might blush. It’s a strange feeling, his sweatshirt relentlessly. and very foreign. My heart actually flutters a bit. Juan, our large Mexican bus driver notorious It stops me, sends me spinning. for hangover Mondays, yells at us. He scares “I mean, you don’t have to,” he says, “I just a lot of kids, but he’s never bothered me much. thought… never mind, I know it’s silly…” I’m more concerned by the way the kids abuse “No” I spurt out, remembering why I started an innocent boy. It makes me angry that Joseph blushing in the first place. “It’s awesome, I love doesn’t stand up for himself. He should be it.” stronger. I take the little bird from him and tuck it safely September 27, 2012- Joseph into my violin case. In my fluster, I forget to thank The back of my throat hurts with held back him, and the kids start to pile in. I shoot him a sort tears. As soon as I step off the bus, I feel lost. of awkward good-bye smile and turn toward the I can’t go in to my house. I can’t face my ailing window. mother; I can’t face myself. I know where my I forget about the confusing feelings by mom keeps all of her pills, she has so many. It taking out my homework. I lose myself in would be painless… numbers. The noise of the bus disappears. It’s No. I can’t do that to her. I have cranes algebra and me. There’s something relaxing to make. My cranes are my pride. They are about the way numbers fit together like gears. the reason to keep going. Now a good 35 are “Cranes? Loser, I feel bad for your mom. broken and muddied, like trash. You’re a damn disgrace.” I decide to go to a Penelope’s house. She’s my I don’t why, but that one voice snaps me out elderly best friend and she lives near the bus of my focus. stop. Sometimes, I walk to her house instead Joseph sits in his corner, and pulls on the of going straight inside my home. She always sleeves of his sweatshirt. He stares intently out has a cup of hot chocolate for me, and a new the misty window with the bag of cranes sitting painting for me to marvel at. neatly in his lap. The kid who sits in front of him The journey to her place is meditative. leans over the back of his seat and rips the bag We live in an old, shabby part of town. Being from him. white, I feel almost out of place here. Most of With a smirk, he spills the bag’s contents our neighbors are black, Mexican or some sort into the aisle. About 30 intricate little cranes of mix, but I like the diversity. decorate the floor. The kids kick them around- As I walk I note every bird that crosses my smashing their folded bodies and turning their path. A flock flies lazily over head. Flocks interest beautiful colors brown and gray with mud. Every me particularly. I imagine their relationships, last bird is stepped on or torn. Their paper wings their stories and their view of the world. I wish are bent to fit the grooves of the aisle. I could fly away with them. I watch the spectacle with an open mouth. I cannot move and I cannot speak. I turn my eyes One Thousand cont’d on pg. 8 7. I allow myself a smile as I pass a humming in tune, but it lacks something. It lacks the fire bird fluttering about a feeder. It reminds me of that is supposed to drive music. Mel, and my smile grows. She called my cranes The crescendos are missing a sense of beautiful. She has one and she protects it. I pride; the pianos miss their playful whisper. I feel something warm inside of me, a little bit of can almost see her playing, with her posture happiness and something else unknown. It is perfect and her bow keeping perfect time. Her small but powerful. movements are emotionless, her eyes focus on I’ve always envied Mel. She is strong and the music with a cold stare and her face is set demands respect, but she is still delicate and in stone. It is a beautiful and frightening image. innocent. She never stands up for me, but she I know it shouldn’t bother me because she rarely taunts me. Though, it’s always been her plays wonderfully, but what is music without big owl eyes and rich dark skin that awe me the passion? Why does she play if she does not most. feel? Is it just numbers to her? Penelope’s house is a cozy little place, It makes me want to show her all life can be. nestled between towering oaks. Sure mine is pretty grim- but it is warm. I wish She greets me with a hug and a lovely smile. she could see through my eyes the way every Her old fingers flutter in the air as she scurries bird is as unique as a person, and how every to boil water for my hot chocolate, which I never emotion is precious, even if it is painful. even asked for. December 3, 2012- Mel I tell her about today, and she listens loyally. It’s a bitter Monday. I still think about when When I’m done venting and I chug down the last Joseph had returned the CD. He said he of my beverage she shows me a small portrait listened to it, and told me it was great. But his of wild horses. It is absolutely breathtaking- as eyes told me otherwise. are all the artworks displayed around her house. It didn’t matter, but a silly, newborn part of She’s a retired art teacher, and a splendid me will not stop with nonsense about Joseph artist. She could be rich, but she doesn’t believe and my non-existent feelings for him. that art should have a price. She paints me I hate it. I don’t want to like any one like that, pictures of exotic birds for holidays and makes it scares me. In the cold of last night I had done art to hang in hospitals- but she never sells it. something that would end the little smiles we Later that night I get a call, her heart had shared in quiet moments and kill the butterflies stopped. Through my tears, I make a special that had nested inside me and burst out like crane in her honor. diseased parasites. , September 28 2012- Joseph I feel for the note in my pocket, and sigh. Mel had dropped her CD. I will return it to It doesn’t have my name, but it has his. After it her, but I have to listen to it first. I’ve always are six words written in icy haste. I don’t know wanted to hear her play. why I wrote them, I didn’t mean the words, but I It’s Bach’s famous cello suite, played by wanted to go back to my world of mathematical Mel on the violin. Technically, it’s almost perfect, precision and solitude. she doesn’t miss a beat and the notes are all One Thousand cont’d on pg. 9 8. I throw it toward his seat and shrivel up in my sweatshirt, regret starts to creep into the hollows of my bones. Until the moment he walks on, I can’t stop thinking, “what if?” December 3, 2012- Joseph A small piece of folded paper lies in the aisle. Out of curiosity, I pick it up to read. Joseph- You are worthless. Go kill yourself. That’s all it says. Those few words leave me breathless. I collapse in to my seat. Mel notices me, but her face is unreadable. I have been told things like the note before, but no one had ever written it down. No one has ever felt so strongly about it that they put it on paper. I let it drop from my hands and feel a monster growing inside of me. It rages and devours- but it is suffering. It simply seeks an end. “Joseph?” I turn to face Mel, who does not look herself. “Don’t worry about it,” she says. “Whoever wrote it, didn’t mean it.” I can’t even respond. There is no comfort in her words, so I turn my back to her and the rest of the world. Everything comes crashing down. I decide that sleep is best when you don’t have to wake and face the storm. I reached 1,000 cranes last night. They will be so much more beautiful when I am gone. Autumn Koenig Sophomore Medina High School 9.Second Place Short Story - High School Division Solace The service lasted merely an hour. Each Clutching my chest, I could feel the tightening. second that slipped away was another memory, I cursed the memories for causing me so much another word spoken. I felt broken and numb all pain. As the stabbing inside my chest worsened, I the way down to my toes. The deadness of the found myself wishing that I had never met my true situation reached inside my heart cutting off all love Catherine. I tried to imagine my life without circulation. I could not cry, wrinkle my brow, or her. Somehow, it helped to relieve the pain. muster the strength to even frown. Everything For a moment, I closed my eyes only to was gone. become twenty years old again, walking the “Matthew. If you need anything else please long stretch of beach, never looking back to the let us know. She was a wonderful lady, ” said the beautiful girl with ebony hair and porcelain skin; pastor. the one who originally caught my eye. As the sun I did not even look at him; I simply sauntered bounced off the crystals of sand, a highlighted out the door like the ghost I was. Trying to escape, path presented itself before me. Anticipation built, I found myself driving nowhere and everywhere as my speed increased trying to grasp ahold of for the next three empty hours. Subconsciously, the unattainable. I chased the path intently trying I had driven to our special place. I was taking off to keep up, always managing to stay a couple of my matte-finished dress shoes and feeling the steps behind the light source. Freedom was my sparkling crystals of sand beneath my feet; each calling. grain of sand shining like diamonds in the beaming Each step I took was another one closer to sunlight. The beach was busy with volleyball living a different life. Through my strides I could games, bocce ball, vendors, and families, but somehow forget what happened in the past. I I knew of a spot where solitude diffused the was free to live days filled with work, business commotion. gatherings, and the occasional friend, and family Far past the chaos beyond the souvenir shops, holidays. It would be safe and predictable. There and where there was not an ice cream or a bistro would no longer be a debate between sun kissed stand within miles, I finally sat down, removing my buttercup or golden dandelion but a choice suit jacket and tie. “Fifty-six.” I thought, “and still as of predictable beige. Take out would become beautiful as the day I met her.” breakfast, lunch and dinner, and would add only Catherine hardly aged, with only a stray grey to the aroma of each room. As these thoughts hair every now and again. Her sapphire eyes, grew in number I could feel myself getting closer porcelain skin, and ebony hair, only grew in beauty to the crystals of sand which were all aglow. I was to me. It was here where I met her. As both of us now just one shy step away from my imaginary aged, we managed to outrun time, never letting it pain-free life. The queen sized bed would belong fade our growing appreciation and love for each all to me, with no uneven ratio of one third to two. other. Solace cont’d on pg. 11 10.“She was too young to die” Money wouldn’t be as much of a burden and the “She was too young to die.” I repeated more responsibility of providing would lessen. A simple softly. life without anguish was what eased my troubled The water from my eyes flowed from gentle heart. I was so close, but just before my foot tears to uneasy rapids. The sobs and teardrops could touch the tip of the light covered sand, my that rippled the water around me added nothing daydream was shattered by a wave crashing upon to the vastness of the ocean. Life would move on my pant leg. whether I was disheartened or euphoric. It was The breakers had caught me long before I had selfish for me to want to live without Catherine, ever reached the light and before I could shuffle sure it was easier. But what is life without a debate backwards towards dry sand, I glanced up and between yellows that look exactly the same? What from a comfortable distance I saw the couple. He is life when all you do is eat out and never have a was a young man tall, slender, accompanied by home cooked meal? What is life with obligations his girlfriend who was shining almost as brightly and business endeavors if there is no one to share as my Catherine. He was down on one knee, these accomplishments with? The pain lessened looking deeply into her eyes with a shaky hand from within my chest. Looking out across the clutching a black velvet box. Unconsciously, I felt water’s surface, I saw each sparkling reflection my entire body lunge forward trying to save him of sunlight as someone else’s diamond. Lovingly, from the fleeting joy that had abruptly ended in I brought Catherine’s ring to my lips, kissed it, bitterness for me, but before I could save him it releasing it like a skipping stone across the water. was too late. As defeat festered within me, reading Knowing our diamond would be safe here; as I his lips, I watched as he asked “Cassandra, Will walked away I felt the salty ocean breeze kiss you marry me?” Watching her expression, I saw me back. her face change from worry to surprise. Finally, joy overcame the anxious couple, and that was when I saw myself and my love again. I reached into my pocket pulling out her diamond. The simplicity of the silver band complimented her radiant beauty and the two sapphires alongside the diamond represented the deep blues of the ocean which reflected always in her eyes. I could feel the pain in my chest again, tightening, squeezing, and stabbing. My vision blurred and a mixture of nostalgia and sickness overcame me. My pant legs were soaked up to my thigh and as the waves unfolded into cascading Mary Anne Snyder stairs, step by step I greeted the blues, greens, Senior Orrville High School and teals until I was waste deep into the sea. Wayne College PSEOP Thrashing the water in complete anger I cursed and sputtered. 11.Third Place Short Story - High School Division What We’ve Done I still remember her. I still remember. to talk to her openly, not until she was accepted into one of the Groups. She seemed like a chess High school is a time of pain and glory, of kid, or maybe Academic Challenge. Something smart elites and expelled burnouts, of brown smart sounding. Personally speaking, I was in nosers and lazy group members. It can be the Animal Care Club, but I thought she might easy, or it can be terribly hard, but mostly be allergic to pets and such. it’s just there. Like a constant buzzing in the She was always sniffling when she went back of your mind, never fully recognized or into the Biology lab where they kept all the dismissed. It is impossible for adults to fully re- live animals. “Hi,” I said, one day after class. member what they experienced in high school. The hallways were almost empty, the final bell It’s hard enough for teenagers to remember already rung. She looked at me strangely, like what happened the year before last. This fact, I was a foreign species to her. Who knows, and this fact alone, makes my story so sad, So maybe I was. I hadn’t seen her talk to anyone desperate and miserable. Because it will not yet, except some teachers, and they really be remembered. The stories before it were not didn’t count. “Hello,” she replied. Her voice remembered and neither will the ones in the was mousy, much like her look. I had been future. They will all melt into history, crushed in expecting it. “How’s school going?” I asked, between the pages of a dusty yearbook, thrown trying to wheedle out information. I wanted to in with the trash. It’s all the same. We’re all the tell my friends what I had learned. She wasn’t same. I remember this new girl. She was a bit sought after, I knew, but news was always fun smarter than most of us, which put her on the in a town as small as mine. “Fine,” she replied, lower end of the social spectrum, and she wore closing her locker. She spun the lock a few glasses that were a few sizes too big for her times, even though it wasn’t necessary. “You head. Her clothes were always several decades don’t have to do that,” I said. She shrugged. behind fashion standards and she continually “Force of habit.” Did she go to a school in the hurried through the hallways, her books glued to middle of the ghetto? I laughed politely, not her chest, eyes on the ground. Even with her low sure how to respond. She smiled awkwardly status, she wasn’t socially ignorant. She knew and walked past me, towards the doors. I spun that if you made eye contact with the wrong sort, around, surprised by her abruptness. “See ya you were liable to end up on the ground, books later, then” I shouted. She threw a little wave spread wide across the school, kicked farther over her shoulder but didn’t respond. We really by cruel seniors. She might even cry if pushed never talked again after that. too hard. That would doom her for life. I had the By the end of the semester, she was still chance to meet her once, in the hallway. Our What We’ve Done cont’d on pg. 13 lockers were just a few spaces apart. I knew not 12.alone and doing badly. The elite had taken underwear. Everyone knew he was a pervert. an interest in her lost-lamb-looking-for-a-flock The joke was on him. But not this time. The girl routine. They recruited her. But us on the out- was suspended. She didn’t even complain. I side knew the real story. She was fresh meat. saw her mother crying in the front office. She A fresh slave, unsure of herself and ready to be was shaking, head in her hands. “What hap- commanded. But there was a price. I silently pened to my sweet little girl?” I heard her shriek prayed that she wouldn’t have to pay it. I saw as I turned into the restroom. High school hap- her in the hallways often. She changed how she pened. It happens to everyone. I wanted to tell dressed. No more out-of-style business suits or her the real story. How it wasn’t her daughter’s grandma sweaters with little animals sewed in fault, it was mine. It was the elite’s. It was all the corners. Now, she was “normal.” One of us, of ours. But I couldn’t, you see. Because then I by command of the top ten. If you even looked at would be saying it out loud. And acknowledging their puppy wrong, it was a one way street down the existence of such an evil is so hard to swal- the Road of No Return. They didn’t like rebellion. low, to process. I couldn’t force that on myself. They could squash you in an instant with all of I couldn’t force that on them. their teacher recommendations and witty charm. The girl came back next week. Her suspen- It was a dangerous game. One that could cost sion only lasted four days. Before first period you your social career. You could be ruined in ended, I saw an elitist corner her in the back of less than a day and wouldn’t be forgiven. Ever. the room. I looked towards the teacher but he It’s possible you could get a clean slate in col- was talking to another student. Looking back lege. Unless, of course, your town is so small it and forth between them, I didn’t know what to only has one local college that everyone goes to do. So I did nothing. At lunch, I saw the new girl and no one is new. No one transfers in. It’s only pushed from The Table. She skidded backward you. And them. The new girl did everything they on her butt until she came to a stop in front of told her to do. Sneak into the boys’ restroom. the trash can. A football player the size of a tree Check. Take specifically assigned pictures in came up from behind and dumped his tray on the girls’ locker room. Check. her. Spray paint the principal’s desk. Check. “Oh no I missed the can. Oh well, close Break into the cafeteria and replace all the enough,” he said. His friends at The Table milks with glue. Check. She did everything and guffawed and he walked over the girl to them, didn’t speak a word against them. I knew not leaving his mess behind. I watched her stand to approach her again. Someone could see us up and wipe the food off. Watched her fight back talking and report it back to the top. I would be tears as she scooped potatoes out of her hair. a target, then. I didn’t want that. So instead, I She didn’t run from the cafeteria. She walked, watched her suffer in silence, the strain becom- cruel laughter following her every step. The ing harder and harder to bear. next morning, she found “bitch” inscribed into One day, she was caught sneaking into the her locker. Her dog-eared copy of The Great gym teacher’s office with a hamper full of girls’ Gatsby was torn to shreds. I watched her scoop What We’ve Done cont’d on pg. 14 13.up the tattered scraps and throw them away. No “Never understood.” one talked to her during class. Harsh whispers “A beautiful person.” followed her down the hallway. Everyone went to her funeral, even the ones Boys laughed at her openly, harassing who had caused the event in the first place. her with comments too vulgar to repeat. Girls No one told her parents what really happened. were worse. They shoved her in the hallways, Her mother stood at the edge of the hole in the crowded around her and tugged her hair ground, and stared at it, crying silently, painful sharply, giving no reprieve. It went on for weeks tears as her only daughter was lowered into and weeks. Brutal punishment for a failed job the dark abyss. I couldn’t stand to watch her that wasn’t even her idea. I watched in horror pain. The grief ran for days into weeks and as she grew thinner and haggard. Dark circles then into months. Two months, to be exact. enveloped her eyes and her clothes hung off her Then, everything kind of started again. Social in odd angles. The harassment was still as bad calendars were calculated and scheduled. as ever. They weren’t tired of it. They fed off it. Classes resumed normality. Students laughed They wanted her pain and misery. They wanted and teachers gathered in little social circles her to suffer. Finally, I couldn’t watch it anymore. and chattered about the smart-mouths in their My friends thought it was bound to end soon. I classes. It was “normal” again. However, I do thought differently. It shouldn’t have gone on for not have a rubber heart. I feel the guilt of what this long. Then, one afternoon, when the new we did. I will not watch it happen again. girl was absent, I went to the guidance office I still remember her. I still remember. and explained what had been going on. I said that I was worried and really wanted it to stop. “Why didn’t you tell me before it got this bad?” she asked me. I shrugged. I didn’t really know why I hadn’t told anyone, why anyone hadn’t told them. We were just kids. Telling us what to do if such an event were to happen doesn’t prepare us for when it actually does. The next day, we found out the new girl was dead. She had committed suicide the night before but her parents hadn’t known until they got home from work. The school turned to chaos. Tears, apologies, even a circle of grief around her locker. The guidance counselors interrogated the people who had been picking on her but they had such legitimate grief, she Morgan elswick couldn’t really blame them for anything. No one Senior stood up to point the finger. They said she was Buckeye High School a “poor, tortured soul.” 14.First Place Personal Essay - High School Division The Christmas Without Santa Claus As a child, I was fearless. From the time and unwieldy boots. The ominous sight of the I could walk, I clambered to the top of the black bag slung over his left shoulder struck playground jungle gym, while other girls my fear through my heart the book had implied age cowered below the monkey bars. On that the lumpy shapes within were toys for good Halloween night, my four-year-old self bravely little girls and boys, but one could never be donned a ragged black dress and witch’s hat, sure. The twinkle in his eye, inserted cheaply slung a pillowcase over her shoulder and with an early computer drawing program, marched out the door to wrestle candy from the made him look neither thoughtful nor happy neighborhood’s formidable ghosts and goblins. to me it appeared more as though he were I always knew there were no monsters hiding plotting something sinister. I didn’t know what under my bed or dragons lurking in dark corners a sugarplum was, but I didn’t want it taking over of my backyard. But for reasons that my parents my head, dancing or otherwise. I didn’t want the could never discover, there was one terror that ominous clicking of reindeer hooves to wake me this valiant toddler just couldn’t shake. Perhaps from my peaceful slumber, and I most certainly it was the paranoid summer weeks spent at the didn’t want a strange old man that I had never local Safety Village, or maybe the hideous news met flying anywhere near my place of residence. stories of kidnapping and rape that provided Snapping the book shut with a chipper “and the background noise to our family dinners, but to all a good night,” my father turned to me with somehow I had developed an insurmountable a joyful expression of Christmas wonder upon fear of Santa Claus. his face. But instead of having it returned with The first Christmas Eve that I was old a smile of toddler glee, he found me cowering enough to realize what was going on, my father beneath the bed sheets, tears welling up in my hoisted me up on his shoulders so that I could big, blue eyes. “Daddy?” I whispered. “Is that hang my stocking over the fireplace and set the man going to come in my room?” It was a sad star crookedly on the top of the tree. He tucked night for my parents as they spent most of it me in bed and whipped out a thin book with trying to convince me that the most magical blood-red binding: that horror of horrors, The belief of childhood was actually a fantasy, Night Before Christmas. As his low voice spoke trading the greatest Christmas tradition for the the words and his big hands turned the pages, I end to a toddler tantrum and a good night’s sunk further and further under the covers, until sleep. There would be no baking of cookies for the quilt was covering first my shoulders, then the terrifying giant or singing menacing refrains my neck, and finally my head. Contrary to the of “Here Comes Santa Claus” in our humble words of the poem, the illustrations in the book abode. did not depict St. Nick as a jolly fellow; he looked As I grew older, the horrors didn’t stop. uncouth and uncivilized, with his unshaven face Christmas cont’d on pg. 16 15.

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