Poetry Essay/Prose Short Story
I want to tell you I still need you,
but I'll only be let down,
by how weak my willpower is when there's no one left around.
I want to tell you I miss you,
only to hear a disappointing reply,
it's amazing how I fall apart when you look me in the eye.
I want to tell you I hate you,
to make myself believe what I say,
It would be so much easier going without thinking of you for a day.
I want to tell you that I will love again,
and you were just a first run,
but what if that was the last chance, what if my chance to love is done?
IF I told you I still need you,
you wouldn't budge a bit,
IF I told you I miss you,
you'd say we'll always be friends but that's it.
IF I told you I hated you,
you'd make me want to cry,
IF I told you that I will love again,
I'd be burdened with a lie.
The only thing I can say and know that it will always stand true,
is that no matter where you are I will still love you.
12th grade
N. Bangor, NY
About the author of "IF"... 16/f/NY, one of the easiest poems to write because it was all true.  Every word came from personal experience.
A novel for all time

"In some distant arcade, a clock tower calls out six times and then stops. The young man clumps at his desk. He has come to the office at dawn, after another upheaval. His hair is uncombed and his trousers are too big. In his hands, he holds twenty crumpled pages, his new theory of time, which he will mail today to the German journal of physics."
That man was Albert Einstein-one of the greatest minds of the 20th century. We now know, though, that he had many more theories of time-over thirty in all. Alan Lightman's Einstein's Dreams, the source of the preceding quote, documents and fictionalizes these theories, creating thirty easily understood stories that each describes a different theory of time.
One theory describes time as a visible dimension, one that we can see and speed or slow as we choose. In this world, if one is dissatisfied with this point in their life, they can speed time up, traveling to a more pleasant place in their life. Or suppose a moment occurs that one simply cannot leave; in this world, a person could slow time, staying in that moment for lifetimes. Perhaps you could never move to the next event in your life, staying in one moment for eternity. Of course, this theory of time does not exist in our universe, but that is not the point. These theories are simply possibilities-possibilities for a universe different than our own.
Einstein's Dreams is a thought provoking novel and provides a great introduction into the world of theoretical physics. Also, it corrects the common misjudgment that time is an absolute, citing example after example of situations where time has a different nature altogether. This novel will captivate you and will open your mind to an entire new world most never knew existed.
12th grade
Greeley, CO, USA
About the author of A novel for all time.

I am an avid reader and like to mix both classics with contemporary literature. I am working to improve my writing and be published. All types of music, writing, reading, and working at a theater occupy my free time.
Deep Inside

  Deep Inside are the words I feel
   The Words too secret to reveal
    All bottled up deep inside
   Are  all the things I try to hide.
Concealed and masked from the world
the private information  never unfurled
Beneath the stars and Midnight Sea
a tunnel of thoughts flowing  through the leaves
Trapped in a whirlwind of thought and speech
Hushed to the point of innocent grief.
A silent whiff of inter-planet breath
Brushing under all ideas unkept .
Released to the point of no return
never to come back, never to learn
The thoughts drift away easy it seems
until another night of utopian dreams.
And when it feels as if you have no thought
your power is drained, your mind distraught
look to the stars and you will find
all good answers come in time.
9th grade
Toledo, OH
Keanna is a 9th grade student at Toledo School for the Arts in Toledo, Ohio and she is thinking about pursuing a career in acting or journalism. At school, Keanna likes, tap dance, chorus, and martial arts in which she currently has a red belt in. At home, Keannna likes to read, write, chill, surf the web, and listen to music. Bar-B-Q ribs from "Po' Mo's" in Toledo and Chocolate are her fave foods. Her fave author is Francine Pascal. She also hopes to someday publish a few fictional novels for teens.

The Stage of a Woman's Soul in Kate Chopin's The Awakening

For centuries the refined literary battle between the sexes has resounded in the output of quilled warriors. Sometimes, the communiqués have been quite straightforward and naive; sometimes a subtle understatement was enough to show another point of view. Through The Awakening, Kate Chopin gives voice to the smaller but, dare I say, the stronger-headed, feminine side of this silent dispute. The novel became a classic the classical way, forgotten and rediscovered.  Its theme of a woman discovering herself is forever prevalent in the lives of women and affects the lives of men. Chopin deftly portrays her characters in a triptych-like fashion to present a bold vision of a woman's soul and slightly steps ahead of her times in her way of thinking, thus she can be considered an avant garde of further literary movements.

The description on the back cover of the Penguin edition ("A daring novel of a woman's sexual and spiritual rebirth"), especially after the dynamic progress of the past century, gives a delicate foretaste of a strongly exaggerated feminist tract. Indeed, the novel was received diversely by critics in Chopin's times for its ostentatious portrayal of woman's sensuality, but today, after reading a few books by certain writers and under the pressure of mass media and popular culture, one takes the book as rather tactful and subtle.  The one sentence summary seems insufficient to capture the novel's true meaning.  What the book really does is describe women in general, outside the screens of society.

Though the end of the romantic era brought on many changes in society and politics in America, and women were certainly part of that agenda, the book doesn't deal with either society or politics in an explicit way. Rather, since it focuses on the portrayal of a woman's soul, society is just a backdrop or screen on a stage wall, which can be bare or can be decorated, for example, with the essence of Creole life.  In front, the real action takes place. The main characters are Adele Ratignolle and Mademoisell Reisz, so different from each other
yet tied together by the third and most important, Edna Pontellier. It is Edna that is facing us, as Adele and Mademoiselle Reisz, staring intently at her, stand partly turned to us.  They form a narrative triptych, and through this scenic eavesdropping, we glimpse their thoughts and emotions, with Edna's emotions flowing down freely to engulf us in her problems.

Why should we consider society a background? one may ask. Some people seem to tie the main meaning of the book to a feminist defiance of the strict, absurd rules of Edna's surroundings.  The novel starts off with a detailed account of her community: "Mrs. Pontellier, though she had married a Creole, was not thoroughly at home in the society of Creoles; never before had she been thrown so intimately among them." And the further description of the community takes up a few chapters. The amount of words dedicated to describing the Creoles in the beginning chapters is misleading, and one can think that the main idea of the book is a description of it. But later on as the soul comes forth the society does drop back in meaning, hardly contaminating readers' minds.  Besides, if it weren't the Creole society (that Chopin knew so well and could easily and accurately describe) Edna would have married into any society just to defy her family. As Chopin describes in the conversation betwee!
n Adele and Edna, leading to Edna's brief retrospective of her life: "Add to this the violent opposition of her father and her sister Margaret to marriage with a Catholic, and we need seek no further for the motives which led her to accept Monsieur Pontellier for her husband."  Society's reaction to Edna is partly voiced by the doctor when he tells Leonce, "Woman, my dear friend, is a very peculiar and delicate organism - a sensitive and highly organized woman, such as I know Mrs. Pontellier to be, is especially peculiar." - but this understates Edna's capacity for changing her internal world. Each fragment of the book shows that society itself doesn't consider itself something secondary and tries to interfere with Edna's internal life, not appreciating what is going on within her, that is much more than any one of them could expect.

By throwing away the visual confinement of an imagined stage, a seemingly abstract but possible thing to do, one ends up with a vision of only a woman's internal world (a most curious picture) in a vast, timeless emptiness. In describing Edna it would become a little like the music that Mademoiselle Reisz plays for her:
....The shadow deepened in the room. The music grew strange and fantastic - turbulent, insistent, plaintive and soft with entreaty. The shadows grew deeper. The music filled the room. It floated out upon the night, over the housetops, the crescent of the river, losing itself in the silence of the upper air.
She is potentially much more than anybody around her could imagine because she is just at the beginning of change. And as Chopin observes,
the beginning of things, of a world especially, is necessarily vague, tangled, chaotic, and exceedingly disturbing. How few of us ever emerge from such beginning! How many souls perish in its tumult!
 As Edna wakes from her symbolic slumber and begins to discover herself, even the doctor is lead to observe that she is like "some beautiful, sleek animal waking up in the sun," her previous state of mind being in need of change as she begins her search for who she is and what she wants from herself. She stretches her wings lazily, yet already anticipates how she can use them.  And so we see the Icarian flight of Mrs. Pontellier into the vast universe of being. But we never found out if Icarus didn't whisper, falling into the sea: "It was worth it."

Edna flies into a world of passion, emotions and dismay. After the symbolic sixth chapter, every chapter dives deeper and deeper into the vast sky that opens up in front of the reader. Her breaking the rules of society is only the breaking the rules of the ground from which she wants to rise. But maybe her wings aren't yet strong enough, which Mademoiselle Reisz didn't foresee, or maybe she is tied down by her maternal love to Raoul and Etienne, which Adele encourages, and so her jump ends in the tragedy that closes the book.

 And here her co-stars in the abstract play of a woman's soul come out and call to her.  Adele calls from the palace of maternity and happy family life she built on the ground using her husband's love and society's approving hand. Mademoiselle Reisz calls out from the sky where she moves freely, yet her wings have become strong and sinewy in order to sustain the artist in this celestial position, not the beautiful and delicate wings of Edna. Yet they don't realize that they have the support of society and family, or artistry and defiance that
Edna doesn't.  Warm hearted and full of sensuous motherly affection for everyone, Adele is a woman naturally at home in her society.  She tries to infect Edna with this maternal instinct, which Edna yearns for herself.  Whereas Mademoiselle Reisz is fully absorbed in her music and defying the society she deems not worthy of listening to her, finding in Edna not only an avid listener but also a successor of her artistic life. Edna, torn between the two, seems to know that neither life suits her fully, and she finally finds a way of connecting the two in her last bath:
The foamy wavelets curled up to her white feet, and coiled like serpents around her ankles. She walked out. The water was chill, but she walked on. The water was deep, but she lifted her white body and reached out with a long, sweeping stroke. The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace.

The three heroines are very different from each other, each represents a different path which leads in a different direction. But the material their worlds are made out of is in fact the same, and all women's souls are similar though brilliantly different. To Kate Chopin, each heroine was a part of her; she had the wings to write, but she was also very happy in her earlier family life. This novel becomes another subtle argument describing women from the feminine side. This struggle to describe a human's soul is not a battle for winning or losing, and I think many authors close their books and wonder what they are really fighting for and if they attained it. And they probably come to the conclusion that it is not a fight to be won but a gentle argument for the sake of understanding one another and oneself. 
Torun, Poland
Skid Marks of Death

This is the spine-chilling tale of the unusual and brutal murder of Frederick Doogenheimer. Frederick Doogenheimer lived in the slums of Williamstown (which basically describes the whole town). He had just finished a course on taking care of animals at the local Tafe. This gave him the idea to get a pet of his own and test his new knowledge so he went down to the local pet store and had a good look around. Eventually Frederick found the perfect pet for himself a Hawaiian Shrieking Monkey. Frederick called over the shop assistant and said, "I'd like to buy that monkey", the assistant replied "that'll be $200 mate". The thing about this though is that Frederick was about as sharp as a billiard ball and had left almost all his money at home. A quick look through his pockets also revealed that all he had was 10 cents, an old button and a moldy looking bit of pocket fluff when he told this to the shop assistant he said "no worries you see I happen to have this Arabian voodoo lizard out the back for only 10 cents and if you throw in that button and piece of moldy pocket fluff for my button and moldy pocket fluff collection I'll even give you a terrarium to keep him in". Like I mentioned before Frederick wasn't the brightest bloke around and to him this sounded like a good deal even though to someone with half a brain it would be obvious that this guy was a bit suspicious but Frederick decided he liked the idea and took his new lizard home.
Something that Frederick had learnt in his Tafe course was that lizards needed warm surfaces to lie on Frederick then remembered that his friend Weiner von Crumpet worked at the local nuclear power plant and that maybe he could get a rod of plutonium for his lizard to lie on. Most people would have thought this would have killed the lizard but as we know Frederick wasn't smart and you can find cockroaches that were more intelligent than Weiner so they went and "borrowed" a rod of plutonium from the plant and took it home for the lizard. At first the lizard was wary of the glowing green rod but got used to it and even liked it. One day soon after Fredrick noticed the lizard was running in circles so he decided to visit the vet. The vet stood around and whispered to his nurse made weird noises and then said to Frederick "I'm afraid your lizard has M.L.D. also known as mad lizard disease and there is nothing I can do to help him, you'll just have to put up with him it's probably!
 the reason why you got him so cheap" upon hearing this news Frederick decided he was still going to keep his lizard and returned home.
Over the next couple of months Frederick started noticing subtle differences such as the lizards head was growing larger, the lizard gave him dirty looks and he had used some materials to construct a small curtained room blocking Fredrick's view of what was in the back corner of the terrarium. Frederick wondered what was behind these curtains for a while but then decided he had better not invade the lizard's privacy and left it alone. Then one day Frederick decided he couldn't hold out any longer and had to look at what was behind the curtains. What he saw should have shocked him but because his lizard was an Arabian voodoo lizard he thought it must have been perfectly normal for it to have voodoo dolls of himself lying around with pointy sticks in them. He then realized the lizard was watching him, he turned and stared at the lizard eye to eye for several tense hours before the lizard pounced with super lizard strength and landed right on Frederick's face. The lizard then started biting Frederick's ears just like Mike Tyson would have done. Frederick started screaming like a schoolgirl and with an extremely lucky shot he knocked the lizard of his face and ran into his bedroom. As he entered his bedroom the phone rang he answered it and heard a deep voice that said "do you know where I am". Frederick did not know what to say. He hung up and then ran to the curtain and looked to see if he could spot the lizard through the window but he was ambushed by the lizard who had been hiding against the lime green curtains. This time the lizard had a weapon. Frederick did not know what it was but it sure did pong he then felt the lizard stuffing something down his throat and he could now see what the weapon was, a skid marked old pair of g-strings. He felt himself gagging and then heard a voice that said "Fool you should have never put that plutonium in my terrarium a psycho lizard and a radioactive rod of plutonium do not mix well it has turned me into a viscous, smart, strong and incredibly handsome lizard and now you must die". As everything turned black the last thing that Frederick heard was "Ha Ha nobody ever suspects the lizard". Frederick was found 2 days later and taken away. There was no murder weapon so the police assumed that seeing Frederick was so dumb he had simply forgotten to breathe. His possessions were split up between his friends including the Arabian voodoo lizard and from that day forth every one of the lizard's owners mysteriously died of suffocation.
11th grade
Williamstown, South Australia, Australia
Butterfly Beneath

I truly am a butterfly
A butterfly beneath
Judge me with your eyes shut tight
Love me with an open mind
This butterfly flaps its fairy wings
From petal of pain to petal of hope
Against the breeze the world bestows
Upon those who dare to be different
I truly am that butterfly
That butterfly beneath
As delicate as the morning dew
On blades that sliced relief
My wings fold back, afraid of flight
No wind to uplift the soul
Blindly flitting among the stars
Wishing upon them every night
I truly am a butterfly
A butterfly beneath
I am hidden in deep sorrow
Touched by graceful faith
I'll become the butterfly
No longer sheltered beneath
I will be a beauty queen
A youth showered in kisses of love
By him and many millions
Destined to be free
I will become that butterfly
Set free from beneath
And finally I will love myself
The butterfly beneath
11th grade
Rockton, Il
It's truly who I am. Only now do I realize that we are all beautiful. Some of us it shines through. Others, it's sneaks a peek. And some, it's beneath. But only is all this, to the judging eyes of others.

Such an act. How many times have I paced through these halls?
Down these stairs?
Nervous as if I were on stage.
My body stiff.
My eyes blank.
How many times have I walked, sit, and played.
Such an act.
My life, like a rerun show.
Nothing changes.
Upon waking late and staying up late.
Looking older.
Acting older.
I have to you know?
I think you do.
Seeing me when I'm alone.
Your the audience.
You make me stiff.
Make me nervous.
Your the audience and part of the act.
Come watch me play.
8th grade
Eagle River, Alaska, USA
I'm a beginner writer. I've gotten a lot of positive feed back from many of my writing teachers. So I thought I would try and see how this works out.
"When I Was Strong"

I think i must be grieving,
For something i left alone,
In mourning over empty spaces,
That burn between my bones.

I'm lost inside the absences,
Of my self-reliant heart,
I'm waiting for the light to shine,
From too deep inside the dark.

And I always thought the weaker ones,
Were those who talked to that dark,
But now i see that being weak,
Means keeping us apart.

How long am i supposed to be,
This picture of reality,
When no one really understands,
That just isn't me they see.

The storms that rage inside my heart,
Can be healed with just one touch,
But vessels sail away,
When the seas ask them for too much.

This black hole sits in waiting,
For the chance to bring me down,
When will they learn that this is me,
To keep pretending just can't be allowed.

It drives me away to the bitter outside,
Then pulls me back home until,
There's nowhere else for me to go,
And I'm left here standing still.

This monster of darkness,
This girl of the light, (this girl is my angel)
Fight a new battle everyday,
Until i give into the night.

I cannot wake now,
From this dream induced reality,
And i cannot find myself,
I'm not where i used to be.

So i keep trying to retrace the lines,
To figure out where i went wrong,
'Cause i need to be one step behind,
I loved it when i was strong.
10th grade
Saudi Arabia
I'm getting better nowadays.
Glass Moves

Legend has it that there is a ruby flower that gives you the power to fly.  They say that you have to hold it up to your nose, breathe deeply, spread your arms, run like the wind, and think fly fly fly, and suddenly, your feet go off the ground and grass sprawls below you and the stars glimmer down at you.  It is said that a ring of these ruby flowers thrive around the Windersholm swamp on the west side of town, and you can only find them on a full moon night.  They can only be found by those that are pure of heart - those with marred spirits will cause the ruby flowers to wither at their touch.

Unfortunately, this is only a legend of the town crafted by generations of children yearning for something to believe in, something to keep them away from the harsh realities that so often plague parents in the factory town of Windersholm.  Windersholm has a spell woven into its foundations, a spell that depresses its residents into becoming a grinding part of the machinery of its factories.  The children of Windersholm are not born with thoughts of cogs and widgets.  Their heads are full of dreams, and lemonade stands, and chocolate trees and merry-go-rounds.  The machines of Windersholm have a tendency to feed on these dreams and spit out parts to autos and aero planes.  The dreams of children slowly seep away to feed these machines as the children grow.  When the dreams are gone, the children have become parents, unknowingly trapped in slave labor to the factory.  But while the children are young, legends grow and twist like the roots of the magnificent cypresses that flour!
ish in the Windersholm swamp.  One day, a bold boy named William Hughes came to the swamp, climbed a cypress and dared to believe in a legend.  There is another spell in Windersholm, and that spell is that if a legend is taken to heart, it becomes true.  William Hughes heard about a legend, took one look at it, and stuffed it into his heart.   

"Did you know," said William Hughes to Jessica Hyde, "that glass is actually a liquid at room temperature?"
"I don't care," said Jessica.
"But," continued William, as he followed her to class, "think about this.  We all look through windows right?  Windows let us see.  And people think that glass doesn't move, that we always have to see through the same old glass.  But they're wrong! Glass moves, the window's moving, and the way people see things can change too!"
"William, I'm sick of your metaphors, I'm sick of your games with words, I'm sick of your dreams, and most of all, I'm sick of you. So why don't you go talk to somebody who cares?"
"I think I'm going to do something," William said with an intake of breath.  "I don't know what exactly.  But I've been thinking about windows, and I've been thinking about thinking, and I've been thinking about you.  I think I need your help to do what I want to do."
"Think about this.  I don't like you.  You scare me.  Stay away from me.  Don't talk to me.  Ever again."  Jessica ran off from William to school, leaving him alone on the path.

William liked watching storms.  At the slightest scent of rain, William would run to the field where the carnivals and the fairs came.  He would lay down on the grass and let the falling water soak his clothes and permeate into his bones.  He relished the sight of lightning dancing across the dark sky.  He would place his hand on his heart and feel the echoes of the thunder rumble deep within him.  He loved the suddenness of it, the rapid shift from a sweet summer lilac sky to a ravaging dark storm.  While the lightning was strong and swift, it moved with a grace that soothed his soul.  William cherished contrast.  When he heard the thunder echo in himself, he thought the lightning was in Jessica's eyes.  William was in love with Jessica's eyes.  While her words were bitter and accusing, her eyes flickered whispers of please, please forgive me!  Because of this, William held on, despite her caustic abuse, and so, William watched sudden summer storms to bring him closer to her!

While William searched for ambiguity, Jessica searched for a certainty, a steady rock to grasp in the whirling sea of her life.  Both her parents worked in the factory and left Jessica at home to prepare their dinner and care for their three-year old daughter Bethany.  Jessica loved Bethany but she had other obligations as well.  School work for one.  She also carried the burdens of being lonely.  She had very few friends, and those who were, used her for her intelligence.  One day, she had been in school and her teacher had reproached her for forgetting her project.  The moment of the teacher's scolding was badly timed, for the night before, Jessica had been beaten by her father.  Her father was lost - years of work had drained him and made him unstable.  Her mother did nothing to stop him and she was as weak-willed and feeble as her father's spirit.  Jessica had screamed at the teacher and ran out of the classroom leaving faces stunned and aghast. 
She had run out of the room into the pouring rain.  Even the weather is against me, she had thought, fighting back tears.  Jessica ran onto the field outside of the school and let the rain wash over her.  Suddenly, she saw a form in the grass, smiling staring up at the sky, mouth open, letting the drops flood his mouth. 
"What are you doing here!"  Jessica shouted at him, as if his presence ruined her dramatic vision of dashing on the field with tears running down her cheeks.
"Something must be wrong," said the boy in the grass, "because never would you let me see the day where you stand out in the middle of pouring rain and stinging wind in order to talk to me."
The boy in the grass looked up at Jessica.  He smiled.
"What are you smiling at!"
"I can see the lightening in your eyes."
"So what!  Just stop staring at me like that," she said between her deep breaths from crying.
"Doesn't that strike you as beautiful?  That lightening so dark and fierce can be in something so bright and warm." 
Jessica's face loosened and something of a smile scurried across her face, but she hurried it along and it disappeared. "You can't go around saying things like that!  Just . . . talk normal!"
"Jessica, I think we should go to my house right now and get you something to eat."
William got up from the grass and held out his hand. 
"Come on," he said softly, looking deep into her.
Jessica shuddered as she remembered waking up that morning and seeing her life tearing at its seams.  She needed something to hold her together.  Jessica, her hair wind-tossed, her body bruised, her heart thundering, her spirit ready to give, reached out in the thick foam to grasp the rock that stood out, a temporary respite from her troubled world.

They sat at his dining table quietly.  Jessica sat across from William and she peered down into her lap.  William's arms were crossed and he was reading a book.  The silence was welcome.  For Jessica, the silence was a change from her constantly churning life, and for William, the silence was a delightful disparity to the storm that raged outside.
Something's missing, thought Jessica.  I mean, sure houses are quiet, but I've never heard anything this silent.  Does he live alone?  How come there aren't any clocks ticking?  No refrigerator humming?  What's wrong with this house?
While Jessica was looking around the room, William focused on the words that he was reading but none of them registered.  Should I get her food?  I mean, I did offer her food, but that was just an invitation.  I - I don't even know what to say to her.  I'll just let her stay quiet.  She doesn't seem to mind it, he thought.
Why doesn't he give me any food?  I'm starving, thought Jessica.
But then again, it's been awhile since lunch.  Maybe I'll just give her some cookies.
"Um, do you . . ." began Jessica.
"Yes!" sprang up William, running to the cupboard.  "Here!" he dashed back and put a box of chocolate chip cookies on the table.
"Thanks . . ." said Jessica.  What happened to his boldness?  He's always so forward.
"Of course," said William.  Why isn't she making fun of me?  She's always so mean to me.
Jessica brought the cookies to her lips and chewed gingerly.
"Would you like some?" asked Jessica. 
"Well, they are my cookies," said William.  "I'll take some if I want some."
Silence began rising up from the floor, where it had been dozing off, but Jessica decided to push it back down.
"What book are you reading?" asked Jessica.
"Oh!" said William, his face suddenly brightening.  "Someone gave me this book a long time ago.  It's about this town!  But . . ." he paused, "I don't think you'd want to read it."
"Well, why not?  I like to read," proclaimed Jessica indignantly.  Silence stalked off into a shadowy corner of the room.
"It was written by my grandfather, who built this house.  He died a few years ago.  He raised me."
"So who raises you now?"
"I'm all raised up."
"You live alone?"
William nodded.
"Well don't you get awful lonely?"
"I don't mind.  I go to school in the morning.  I work in the General Store.  I have my books at night.  That's all I need."
"William, I'm sorry.  About all the times . . ."
"Don't worry about it.  And call me Will."
"Okay, I will," she laughed.  This time, she let her smile shine from her face.
"You have a nice laugh," he said.
"I don't laugh very often."
"I'm sorry, you should.  Here.  I want you to take this book and read it tonight."  Jessica had been sitting far back in the chair, slumped into herself, as far away from William as she could possibly sit.  But when William offered her the book, she reached forward across the table.  Yet the table was very wide.
"Come on Jessica, you've got to stretch a little.  Just a little.  There you go."
Jessica laughed again and took the book.  
"Okay.  I need to go now.  I have to make dinner for my parents.  Who makes dinner for you?" she asked.
William was silent.
"Would you like to have dinner with us?  It's the least I can do."
Jessica rose from the table and opened the door.  The rain was softening.  "Just come on," she said, extending her hand.
William smiled as he stood up and then he followed her out of the silent house.  

To William's excitement, Jessica's house was noisy and brighter than his.  Her sister Bethany screamed intolerably and suddenly shushed as her eyes caught sight of a new toy.  Her house was warmly carpeted and heat crawled along the walls.  The warm hum of the microwave calmed him, and a rich smell of soup and fresh bread wafted to his face. 
"Where are your parents?"  William asked.
"They'll be here soon.  Can I ask you one favor?  Please try not to disturb my father.  He's had a long day at work.  He needs his rest and he can't stand too much noise.  The factory is very loud and he needs some place where he can find peace."
"Yes, but when I mentioned your parents, you began trembling.  What's the matter?"
"Oh nothing, it's just that they can be . . . unkind after a long day of work, I mean, that's understandable.  Who wants to work all day and come home to an upset house?"
"How unkind are they?"
Jessica began whimpering.  William rose from the table and came up behind Jessica and put his arms around her. 
"Don't touch me!" screamed Jessica, whirling around.
"Sorry . . ." said William.  "I'm just trying to help."
Jessica turned her back to him and said quietly, "just go back to the table and wait."  Jessica left the room and William stared down at his plate.

The doorbell rang.  Jessica went over and opened the door.  Her parents walked in, her father tall, dark unkempt hair, beard, strong build; her mother, heavy, angular yet with a certain grace.  William could see where Jessica's fierce but soft looks came from. 
"We have a guest?" said her father's rich, deep voice.
"Hello, I'm William," he said, standing up.  Her father's presence commanded respect.  William offered a hand to him.  Her father looked at his hand and shook it as if it did not belong to William but as if it were a separate object that one must touch to exchange greetings. 
"You will be joining us for dinner?" asked her mother, her voice monotone.
William looked at Jessica and she said nothing.  Jessica looked very small to William.  William spoke up, "Yes, Jessica invited me.  Is it okay?"
Her parents looked at Jessica and then at William.  Both the father and the mother almost made their moves and gestures unanimously and precisely.  "You can join us," said the father.  "Sit."
William sat.

William seemed uncertain with what to do with himself as he ate with Jessica's family.  As they all sat down, it hit him that he was eating with complete strangers.  He barely knew Jessica let alone her parents.  Something uncomfortable began to prick up the hairs on his arm.  While the silence at his house had been soothing, the silence here was devious, moving from person to person, tying each of their tongues, and leaving a feeling of deep discomfort after it passed. 
The dinner grew more and more disconcerting as moment and moment passed where a word could be spoken, yet was not.  Words dangled from William's mouth, and he had an intention to say them, but when he saw Jessica rapidly shoving food in her mouth, he did the same, and he swallowed the food along with his words. 
Towards the end of dinner, William's glass suddenly shattered, as he had been squeezing the glass tighter and tighter throughout the meal.  The pieces skittered across the floor and William looked up at Jessica's parents.  They had hardly noticed.  No one made a move to clean the shards of glass.  It was as if her parents were completely oblivious to any action, and they were hardly concerned with picking up the pieces.  He understood why Jessica had been trembling before.  Living alone, he thought, was louder that this.  Despite the hum of the microwave, the warmth in the house, and the yellow lights, the house suddenly felt cold.  He couldn't leave Jessica alone here.  He looked down at the glass on the floor.  He saw a piece shimmer, almost as if it were moving on its own.  Did it just glide an inch?  William stared again.  The glass was still.  Yet when he looked out of the corner of his eye, the glass did appear to be moving.  That's all we have to do, he thought.  He stared at Jessica and flicked his eyes towards the door.
William didn't think there were any words necessary to be excused from dinner.  He left the room quietly and waited outside of her house in the dark.  The night washed over him.

"William," he said weakly. 
They sat at the dinner table, eating their routine seven o clock Sunday dinner of boiled ham, potatoes, gravy, carrots, warm cornbread and water.
"I think . . ."
"What Papa?"
"I think . . . I need to go to bed.  Can you help me?"
William rose from his side of the table and walked to where Papa was sitting.  William wrapped his hands around Papa's warm, skinny frame. 
"That's it William," he heaved as William helped him out of his chair.
William had his hands around Papa's shoulders and neck, as he slowly walked him to his room.  Papa talked as they walked.
"You're very lucky William, you know that?"
"I know I am, Papa, cause I have you."
"I want you to think of something.  At night, when I'm asleep, do you feel happy?"
"Of course!  I read, and I write, and I think and I figure out what the day means."
"So it is not me that makes you happy, it's the things you do," said Papa.
"Well I'm happy because I know when I get up, you'll be there too, so I can tell you what I've figured out."
"I'm going to give you a goal," said Papa.  "I've decided, that in order to help you out," he paused, breathing deeply, "I'm going to go to sleep for a very long time.  That way, you'll have more time to read, write, and think and figure things out on your own.  And when you're done," Papa continued, "come see me and tell me about your life.  But I have to give you something as soon as we get to my room."
William continued to walk Papa and soon enough they were in Papa's bedroom.  William helped Papa sit down on his bed, and Papa lay back on the sheets.
"Wait Papa, if you are going to sleep for a long time, you're going to need something warmer than that."  William left the room and then came back with a heavy, warm blanket.
"Here," said William.
"And here's what I have for you."
Papa handed William a book.
"I've written this in ink.  Because ink doesn't last forever, I want you to memorize it, and make it part of your life.  Oh and do not read the last page until you know you are ready.  When you are ready to come see me, read the last page."
William pulled the blanket over Papa.
"I've seen a lot of things, William.  A lot of things trouble me.  But when I see you smiling, you laughing, I know that you can change things.  Remember, whatever you see in this world that you don't like, that you think is unjust, that you think is wrong, you can change it.  You can change people, William."
"What if you need water in the middle of the night?" asked William.
"I won't."
"Well, Papa, just in case, I'm going to put a glass of water besides your bed.  Drink it when you need it."
"William," whispered Papa.  "I love you."
"Why are you whispering?"
"I'm tired, William.  It's time to go to bed.  Give me a kiss."
William bent down and kissed his grandfather's wrinkled face, and William smiled at the thought that a man so wrinkled, could be so strong.  That a man so old, could bring William such youthful life.

William yelled at the men who came into his house and took his grandfather away.  He told them that he was just sleeping but the men did not listen.  William sobbed into his hands and did not know how he could keep up with the rate the world turned. 
"William!  Wake up!"
William felt himself being shaken and he opened his eyes.  Jessica's face loomed over him.
"Jessica," he said.  "Where are we?"
"You're sleeping outside my house!  It's two in the morning.  Look up!"
William looked when Jessica pointed, and he saw a bright silver moon smiling.
"It's a full moon," she whispered.  "Come on!"
William sprang to his feet and held onto Jessica's hand.
"Let's run!"  Jessica pulled William along, grass licking at their feet, night air kissing their young faces, branches pricking their legs, the dark night caressing and tickling their spirits.
As they were running, William asked her breathlessly, "do you believe the book?"
"We have to William.  I'm sorry I was wrong.  Everyone here is wrong.  What do we lose in believing in it?  Nothing!  We have everything to gain, William."
Soon, they were both in Windersholm swamp.  An orchestra of crickets rose up from the woods behind them and fireflies blinked on and off like applause.  Jessica bent down into the dirt and searched frantically.
"They're up there!" shouted William. 
Above William and Jessica was a tall tree filled with blossoming ruby flowers.  He ran over to the trunk of the tree and shimmied up the bark.  He crawled out on the first branch and took two flowers.  Below him, William saw the reflection of himself in the swamp and was delighted at the sight of the luminescent flower in the dark water.  The lake rippled like the broken glass had on the floor.  William felt himself swell and he knew he was ready.  He leapt down from the tree and handed Jessica a flower.
"Now we run?" she asked.
"Yes, and when we are running very fast, we think to ourselves, fly fly fly and then it happens!"
"Are you ready?"
"Yes," William said trembling.
"Hold my hand," said Jessica.  He reached out and took hold of her warm, dry hand.
"Now!" whispered William.
Together, William and Jessica began running, out onto the field where William had spent countless hours watching thunderstorms, where his grandfather had taught him to fly a kite, where he had reached out to Jessica.  Their soft feet padded against the earth as they ran, and now and then, they laughed, and their laughter sprinted out in front of them, clearing the path for them, so that they could embrace the night.

When dawn came, William groggily opened his eyes and found Jessica sleeping besides him.  His heart was content but something gnawed at him.  Why was he here?  Yes, then he remembered.  Had he flown?  Did the flower work? 
He shook Jessica.  "Jessica, wake up," he whispered.
Jessica opened her soft eyes.
"Hello," she yawned gloriously.
"Jessica, did it work?"
"Did what work?
"Did we fly Jessica?  Please remember."
"I . . . I can't.  I don't remember."
"We have to go back and try again."
"William," said Jessica, "relax.  Look at how beautiful this morning is.  Just give me a hug and be content."
William reached out and hugged Jessica warmly.  Soon, sleep began to overcome him and he yielded to its spell.

He sat in the rocking chair out on his porch one August evening.  The sky was dark and rain threatened, but still he sat.  His gaze was fixated to the sky and never did he blink even when the lightning came.
"Jessica," he yelled softly.  "Come out here."
The old man rocked and rocked and the sky rumbled.
"Oh Jessica," he sighed.  He got up from the chair and slowly limped into his house.  He walked up the stairs, one painful step at a time, and finally made it to his room.  He stretched out on his bed.  He drew him warm blanket over his body.  He reached down under his bed.  There, a dusty book lay. 
He opened the book to the first page, dog-eared, wrinkled, and stained.  The ink was barely there.  He could faintly make out the word "legend."  He flipped through page after page, reading from his memory, tasting his youth so beautifully written out on the blank pages.  Finally he got to the last pristine page.  For the first time, his fingers turned the page.  The ink was dark and rich.  Slowly, he began reading.
Hello William, it said.  I told you I'd be back.  Did you really think that I'd be gone forever?  I had a wonderful sleep.  I dreamed about the time when my legs were still strong enough so that I could dance.  Oh, how I danced!  Remember that time when I put on that Beatles tape, and we danced like crazy?  I hope you are still dancing William. Sorry, you don't need to be lectured anymore, you are all grown up.  I'm sorry I haven't talked to you in a while, but I told you, I needed to give you time to figure things out for yourself.  What did you figure out?  Did you ever learn to play the guitar?  Have you felt hot sand whispering through your fingers?  Did you ever laugh the whole night away?  Did you touch a child's life?  Did you meet someone that you could name a star after?  Did you meet someone that taught you how to fly? You came back to see me because you learned something.  And I'm here, ready to listen.  Tell me what you figured out.
William told him and his heart swelled and a smile brought tears to his eyes.  Papa, he said, thank you for teaching me about magic.  That's what makes glass move.  That's what makes the world turn.  I won't forget it.  He stretched contentedly and his heart told him that he was finally ready to go to sleep.
Ashland, MA, USA
"Late Nights"

A dark and warm ocean
murmurs of another world
and beckons you to join it there
by letting sleep unfurl

A flashing sea of glitter
giggles eagerly and seals
its fading heart with your own
in a burst of golden fireworks

A stringent stretch of sea
beats against your skin
and rips you away with cruel intentions
from a blanket's consoling embrace
12th grade
Cincinnati, OH
Monifa is a high school senior living in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Fresh Pain

Hearing the smooth beat of the bass drum in my ear, I realized it was in sync with my steady heartbeat. I always listened to music as I ran each morning. But, for some odd reason, this morning was a little different than usual. My mind wasn't crammed with facts, dates, body parts or math equations. It seemed like I was totally drained of all my knowledge.
Where I was going had no impact of me. Running was all I did, not caring what was going on around me. I had my own problems that I didn't want to deal with, let alone anyone else's. But I knew I would have to deal with them sooner or later.
I would prefer later.
Not noticing how far I had ran, I stopped to get a drink at a water fountain. I thought to myself, they have water fountains on street corners now? That's when I realized I wasn't on a street corner. I had somehow ended up at the local college.
Bemused, I looked around for any sign of life, but there was none. I looked at my watch, 6:15 a.m. Of course no one would be up. I guess I had started out earlier than I thought. Realizing I looked a little odd just standing at the drinking fountain, I took a long drink and turned around for home. But for some bizarre reason, I couldn't remember where I lived. Everything around me looked exactly the same. So, I just turned around and started to run towards the college library.
Suddenly, everything went white.
I mean, I could see the blazing red of the stop light then the grassy green of the 'go' signal but that was it. Turning onto an unknown street, everything came back into my sight. Another thing I hadn't realized while I was running was that my hearing too had been blocked out. Again, I heard cars whooshing by, dogs barking at the trespasser jogging by, and the birds chirping their merry song of the day.
Straight ahead, I saw a tall, ivory house with many windows. That house looks familiar, I thought. Then it came to me: it was my house. I quietly sneaked into the house, hoping I wouldn't wake my parents. I would be so lucky if they weren't already up. I guess today just wasn't my day because when I stepped onto the sheep skin rug in our front passageway, my mother started to yell at me.
"Where have you been? I told you not to go jogging unless you tell me when you are leaving! Look at you, you're all sweaty and you only have fifteen minutes before you have to leave for school!" she screamed in a shrill voice. I glanced up at the wall clock, 7:15 a.m. Where had all my time gone! Last time I checked the time, it was 6:15! It couldn't have taken me an hour to jog back home! Standing there in amazement at how quickly my time had gone by and how slowly I must have jogged, my mother was hollering at me once again. "What is wrong with you Nicole? Go get ready, NOW!"
I ran to my room and gently shut my door. I quickly threw on my washed out denim jeans and my bright red muscle tank. There was no time to put on make-up so I ran to the bathroom to wash my face and brush my teeth.
Practically running back to my room, I was trying desperately not to wake my father too. If I did, I knew there would be consequences. He came home late last night from the bar and probably had a hangover. I didn't want to deal with that before school. Because of him, I had become "best friends" with the school counselor. He drank, then came home and abused my mom, and then my mom came after me to take out all of her rage.
Trying to put that out of my mind, I searched through my room for my black Converse. After looking for them for what seemed to be an endless time (actually it was about 2 minutes), I finally found them. I grabbed my backpack, shoes in hand and went out the door to my car. Quickly, I fumbled through my backpack looking for the keys to my yellow Volkswagen Bug. I felt the square shape of my key chain that says "I'm busy, you're ugly. Have a nice day!" I knew it sounded a little mean, but I liked it.
I pulled my keys out and lodged them into their hole. Hastily, I opened the door and thrust my bright orange backpack into the passenger's seat. Getting in the car, shoes still in hand, I hurriedly turned on the engine and began to back out of our precipitous driveway.
 I arrived to school just as the buzz-like bell rang. I could see parades of kids roughly pushing each other so they wouldn't be tardy to class for the one-hundredth time. I sprinted to my Chemistry class and was, to my amazement, on time. Trying to put my shoes on furtively with one hand, I pulled my binder out of my backpack with the other. The monotonous teacher began droning on about molecular structure and I began doodling tiny people all over my binder. The class went by surprisingly quick.
 Second period was my session with the school counselor, Miss Hannagan. Miss Hannagan was a tall, slender, pale, young woman. I would guess she was about twenty-four years old. She had bleached blonde hair to her shoulders and it looked sort of tacky on her, with her being so pale and all. 
Sitting down on the uncomfortable couch, she gave me a jovial hello and asked about my morning so far. Not wanting to tell her, I mumbled that it was fine and hoped she will change the subject. But, all she did was sit there patiently waiting for me to tell her what actually did happen that morning. Not wanting to surrender so quickly, I pulled my foot up to my chin so I could untie and retie my shoe. I did this for about five minutes straight. Untie, retie, untie, and retie.over and over again. I could feel Miss Hannagan's eyes burning a hole in my neck.
I looked up at her and noticed for the first time that her eyes were of the brightest blue. They were brighter than the sky on a clear day. She smiled at me and I accidentally smiled back. By accident I mean; I didn't want to show this woman that I really did have feelings, whether they are happy, sad, angry, anxious, or frustrated.
I checked my watch and it was time to go. I guess she noticed it was time to go too because we both stood up in unison and she opened her dark oak wood door for me. After she closed the door behind me, I slowly walked out of the administration building out into the overly crowded hall into a swarm of high school students hurrying to chat with friends, go to their locker or just go to class.
After that, the day went by pretty fast. Most teenagers would be happy about this but not me. Everyone else got to go home to their e-mail or the next episode of Jerry Springer, but not me. I went home to an extremely depressed mother and a drunken father. I walked out to my car trying to think of something that I could do to stall from going home. I finally came up with an idea: I could go to the mall. I did have some extra cash from babysitting last Saturday.
Trying to forget my problems at home, I went into the record store. I ended buying the new Sum41 c.d. and a Blink182 poster. Finally, I decided to go home.
That decision was a mistake.
 As soon as I shut the door behind me, my mom grabbed my arm and threw me against the wall. A bruise around her eye was just now forming. It was obvious my dad had been home during his lunch break. Not even asking for an explanation of where I had been, my mother grabbed me by my hair and threw me to the ground.
She kicked my in the stomach several times while yelling "You are no good! Next time you go somewhere tell me, or else I swear to God I will kill you!"
Grabbing my stomach, not only for protection from my mother's black Stiletto heels but also for a little comfort, I turned over and she began kicking my back, arms, and the back of my head.
"Get up!" she screamed in a high-pitch voice. I slowly peeled my self from the ground and stood up in front of her. Looking at the ground so she wouldn't see my tears, I noticed a fine line of scarlet blood that I was sure was mine.
"Clean this mess up before your father gets home!" she yelled as she stormed out the door, not telling me where she was heading. I backed up against the wall and slid to the ground. Just what I needed, fresh pain. I knew that she would be home before my father so she can spare herself a beating. I guess it was too late for me.
I walked into the kitchen and grabbed a sponge and the carpet cleaner. I scrubbed the sheep skin rug until my hand was burning with pain.
Slowly, I got up and walked into my room. Looking into my full-length mirror, I could see the drying blood on my arm and under my nose. I looked at my arm for bruises and could see blue spots appearing. Deciding I should probably clean myself up, I went into the bathroom and washed my face. I stared into the mirror wishing I wasn't alive. That night, my father came home in a good mood, which made my mother happy too.
I got up early the next morning but I didn't go running. I wasn't in the mood for it; I was so sore from the beating I had bore the day before. I just took a shower and got ready for school. I left a little earlier than usual so I could avoid my mother.
My first period class went by fast. Second period was next. I thought to myself, why did second have to come after first!? I sat down in the lumpy chair and looked at Miss Hannagan. But, for the first time, she wasn't staring into my eyes; she was staring at the large bruise on my left arm.
"Excuse me a moment, Nicole", she said in a calm voice. She returned fifteen minutes later and asked me how my day had been yesterday.
"So-so", I replied. And that was all that was said that period. 
Third period, I got an urgent message that called me to the office. When I got there, two men greeted me with big smiles.
"Hello Nicole. We are from Child Protective Services and we would like to talk to you about your parents and those bruises on your arm. Please, sit down".
9th grade
Bakersfield, Ca USA
Hey everyone! The subject this story is based on is a major problem in our world today. If you are or know any one who is being abused by their parents, get help, soon. Thank you.
Hiding From The Truth

Chapter One

"Okay, let me get this straight," I said, trying to process everything Haven had just told me," Brandi told you that she is angry at the world and that her life sucks?" "Yep, that is exactly what she told told me. She also told me something else though. She said that it seems to her like she has no friends. Worse yet, when she was through telling me all this, my mind went completely blank. I didn't say anything to her. I mean, our best friend basically just told me that she was thinking about suicide and I didn't say anything to comfort her! Some friend I must be." Haven was going completely nuts and I didn't blame her.
"Wow," I thought," now everything is going together. I now know why Brandi has not been acting like herself for the past month. If only I would have realized this earlier. Brandi has not been talking, laughing, or smiling to anyone for the past month and we didn't even think that there was a problem."
Snapping back into the real world I realized that Haven was still going on about how she should have said something to Brandi.
"Haven, it's okay," I said trying to calm her down," Brandi seems fine today, just look at her. She was actually talking to us at lunch and now she is over there talking to all our friends. Maybe we don't have to worry anymore. Let's just wait and see how she holds out, okay?"
"Okay, it sounds like a deal," Haven sighed.
I wasn't so sure if that was such a good idea though. But I was afraid to tell anyone about it because what if Brandi is really fine? Then I would feel stupid for getting Brandi into the mess of having people think that she had mental problems. I just wanted to make myself and Haven think that she would be just fine. So, as we sat outside after lunch watching Brandi talking to our friends a few feet away from us I told myself," She is going to be fine. Just wait and see."

Chapter Two

"I had the worst day the other day," Mandy was saying just as Brandi walked into the room.
"Yeah, well everyday sucks for me. My life is crap," Brandi said as she kept on walking down the stairs, leaving all of us stunned.
Haven, Brandi, and I had spent the night at Mandy's house and we were getting ready to go sledding outside. As we were getting ready Haven, Mandy, and I were talking about the days when nothing seems to go right. We were in the middle of our conversation when Brandi had walked out of the bathroom and made us realize that she wasn't better.
"I guess she isn't better," Haven whispered quietly. I could only nod my head in agreement as the three of us sat there thinking about Brandi and what she had said.
"I have to tell someone about Brandi. Even if she is just faking it for the attention," I thought. I knew that I would never bring myself to do it though. That is just the way that I am. I was to afraid that if I told someone, and Brandi found out that I was the one who told, that she would get angry at me. If only it wasn't so hard for me to tell an adult that I might know someone who is thinking about suicide.
Soon enough though, we all started talking about other subjects and finally went sledding. Nobody mentioned Brandi's problem but that was all that I could seem to think of at the time. I was really starting to worry about her.
"Okay," I thought. Trying to sort out my mind," first Brandi wanted everyone little bit of attention that she could possibly get by complaining about a hurt ankle. Then she wouldn't talk to anyone, not even me. She didn't talk for almost a whole month. All that, plus what she had told Haven, was almost a sure sign that she was thinking about suicide. I know that we can't tell anyone about this though. Only Haven and I know what Brandi might possibly be thinking. If only we could stop telling ourselves that nothing will happen to her. It's almost as if we think that she will get better if we ignore the problem. But I know that it doesn't work that way."

Chapter Three

"Take that off your wrist right now!" I hissed at Brandi. We were sitting in a school assembly listening to someone talk about a war that they had been held prisoner in. Brandi was sitting next to me and was showing me a rubber band that she had so tight around her wrist that her hand was turning blue and purple. She was really starting to get on my nerves the past few days with the rubber band on her wrist and cutting her wrists and ankles. Whenever I would tell her to stop something she would just ignore me and say some other lame comment.
"No, it is kind of cool," was her answer and the only answer I have been getting out of her lately. I wanted to yell at her right there but knew that I would be the one who would end of getting yelled at by the teachers. So, I decided it would have to wait until after the assembly to get all my stress out of me.
A few minutes later the assembly was over. I rushed to catch up with Brandi and realized that the rubber band was still on her wrist. She was taking this all to far. As I caught up with her I made her stop so she would listen to me.
"Brandi, you have really been acting strange these past few days and it is really starting to bother me. Now, take that thing off your wrist right now!" I said furiously, but it didn't seem to affect Brandi, it seemed like she didn't even hear me.
"I am so tired," she said, basically blowing off my comments that I had just made to her.
"Look at me right now Brandi. I want to make sure that you hear me clear. I told you last week, when you said that you have only been getting three hours of sleep each night, that you had better be getting more sleep at night. If you don't start sleeping more and I find out, I am going to tell your parents. Also, you have to take that rubber band off of your wrist before it causes any damage. Oh, and one last thing. If I find that you cut yourself up anymore, I am going to do something about it." I had taken way to much crap from Brandi that week and it was all starting to spill out of me. What made it so difficult was that all the girls that do stuff like Brandi has been doing usually end up killing themselves. I didn't want to think that way though. I wanted to believe that Brandi wasn't acting like that.
"Whatever you say," she said as she just walked right past me and into the choir room. I just stood in the hallway and tried to fight back the tears that I could feel welling up in my eyes. I was so afraid and confused that I just wanted to let it all out but, I knew that I had to be strong. I was hurting so much inside to see my best friend acting the way she was.
"Why does this have to happen to me?" I cried out inside of me.

Chapter Four

Walking through the school hallway at the end of the day isn't always easy, it can get you real stressed. I still had not cooled down from yelling at Brandi earlier during the assembly either, so it probably wasn't a good idea to be walking with her to my lock. It only took her one question to get me all upset at her again.
"Do you have a sharp pencil that I can use?" Brandi asked me casually as if it was not a big thing.
"No, I am not going to give you a sharp pencil just so you can cut yourself with it," I was trying not to yell that loud but it was hard. Brandi didn't say anything after that. She stopped at our friend, Jennifer's locker, while I kept on walking towards mine.
When I got back to Jennifer and Brandi, I found Brandi looking through Jennifer's pencil bag with one pencil already in her hand.
"Jennifer," I practically yelled as I grabbed the bag and pencil from Brandi," don't let her have anything sharp. She only wants to cut herself."
"Fine, I'll just get a pencil from someone else then." Brandi said as she turned and walked away getting lost in the crowd.
"What was all that about?" Jennifer asked me as she turned around to face me.
"Well, Brandi has been cutting her wrists and ankles lately. She says that she doesn't cut her ankles but I know that she does. She does admit to cutting her wrists though but doesn't really seem to care when I tell her that she shouldn't do that." I said. Then I added softly," Watching her hurt herself hurts me."
I guess that Jennifer realized how much I was hurting because she put her arms around me and held me like she really cared.
"It will be okay. If anyone is strong enough to deal with a situation like this, it is you. You always know what the right thing to do is." Jennifer said calmly.
"I know, but for once in my life I don't have the strength to do what I know is right," I answered quietly with tears in my eyes. I felt so weak. I would never have thought that it would be so hard to tell someone that you think a friend may be thinking about suicide, but it is, and I couldn't do it.

Chapter Five( 2 months later during summer vacation)

"Brandi is the worst one of all," Haven said. Haven and Mandy were telling me about the attitudes of everyone on their soccer team as we sat at a table by the neighborhood pool.
"You remember when she was cutting her wrists and showing us, right? Well, when our coach asked her what the cuts were from she just told him that they were nothing and walked away. She never would go through a whole practice without complaining about something either. Oh, she also told me the other day that we never include her in anything and if we do, she thinks that she is always a last resort. She has been fine for the past month but now she is starting to act all weird again. I mean, I know that she thinks that her life is shitty and all, but she should at least be able to recognize that we are her friends." Haven said.
"Gosh, I thought that she was getting better too. I haven't really seen her do anything dramatic like cutting herself for a while. I haven't really talked to her though either, so I guess that would probably be why I haven't heard her say anything about her crappy life." I was just beginning to feel okay about Brandi but now that bad feeling was back in the pit of my stomach. I wasn't sure if I could go through all this again either.
"Well," Haven started," I am not sure what to do about the girl. I think that we should just keep ignoring the fact that she has negative thoughts in her head. We did it before so why not keep doing it? I know that she is the type of girl that would never put her life at risk. Now, how about we put this conversation on hold and go swimming. I am burning up just sitting here talking."
Even I knew that what Haven suggested wasn't the right answer to our problem, but both of us were afraid to face the horrible truth. We just didn't want ourselves to think about what Brandi could be thinking. Still, when I got home later that night all I could think about was Brandi. I wanted to tell someone, but what made it hard was that sometime Brandi was fine and other times I really worried about her. So right when I would be getting up the courage to tell someone, she would seem fine and then I would think that I was just being over worried.

Chapter Six
  I know how much of a pain I must have been for the past three months. You will probably be relived when I tell you that I am going to stop all of this. Never again will you have to hear me complaining or have to yell at me to stop doing something. By the time you read this I will be home alone while my parents are at the pool. I anyone cares about where I will be, I will be in the garage free of all the pain I have been in for the past few months. You could not possibly understand how much I hate myself right now. Please do me one favor though. Please, Please, never let yourself turn to what I did, you are better than that. You have a great life ahead of you, unlike I did. You have been a great friend and nobody else will ever be quite like you.
  ~Lots of Love~
  "No, no, no. This cannot be happening to me right now," I thought, my head spinning as I reread those awful words on my computer screen over and over again. Only yesterday I had been talking to Haven about how Brandi was going to be fine. We should have done something.
  "Mom," I screamed," I am going over to Brandi's house."
  I ran out of my house and grabbed my bike as fast as I could hoping that it wasn't to late, but I had a horrible feeling that it was. Peddling over to Brandi's house only took about five minutes. The whole time I could only think," This cannot be happening. Brandi, you are better than this. You can't do this to yourself."
  I saw Brandi's house coming up and noticed that her parents were still at the pool. Pulling into the driveway I jumped of my bike and ran to the side garage door that was always unlocked. Taking a deep breath I opened the door.
  "Brandi!," I shrieked when I saw her limp body laying on the ground. Both cars in the garage were running so I ran to open the garage door before passing out. Then I rushed over to where Brandi's body was crumpled on the ground. Frantically I searched for a pulse, but I couldn't find one.
  "Brandi, you had a better life than this. You can't do this to me!" I sobbed as I tried to do CPR, but I knew that she was already gone. I sat crying with Brandi's body laying on my lap.
  After sitting in the garage for about twenty minutes I finally got up to make a few phone calls. I slowly walked into Brandi's house and picked up their phone. First I dialed Haven's number.
  "Hello, Hunt residence, this is Haven speaking," I loved the way that Haven answered the phone. She was the only person in her family who answered that way and it always made me smile, but it couldn't make me smile today.
  "Haven, this is Larissa," I choked back the tears, " you need to come over to Brandi's house right now. She finally went through with it."
  "Oh my," I could tell that she was already crying, " I'll be right over."
  The next call was going to be a lot more difficult. I slowly dialed the pool's phone number. I asked for either Mr. or Mrs. Kentwood and waited to tell them the horrible news about their daughter.
"Hello," I recognized Brandi's mom answer the call.
"Ummm....Mrs. Kentwood, this is Larissa. I am afraid that I have some bad news for you," I couldn't stop the tears from coming this time," I just found Brandi in the garage with the cars running. She...she is dead. I'm so sorry. I'm sorry. I should have been more like a friend and told someone before it was too late. I am sorry. I really am."
I heard Mrs. Kentwood scream and them Mr. Kentwood asking what the problem was. When he finally got the answer I could only hear him repeating the words," No, no,no,no."
Finally Mrs. Kentwood got back on the phone and said," We will be right home."
I hung up the phone but then picked it back. I had to make one final call. I dialed the numbers 9-1-1. When the dispatcher answered my call I took a deep breath and said," My friend just committed suicide," my voice was shaking uncontrollably," I found her in the garage with two cars running." I only wished that it would have all been a bad dream, but it wasn't. My nightmare had just come true.

Chapter Seven

"Brandi and I have been friends since third grade. We were best friends on the same soccer team until I switched teams. We were reunited soon after in junior high and we were then inseparable. I never would have guessed then that we would go through as much pain as we did in the past three month. Only three months ago did I realize that Brandi was hurting herself physically and mentally. It hurt me so much to listen to her talk and to watch her. When she spoke, I could hear the pain in her voice. I would cry silently as I listened to her be in so much agony. I only wish now that I would have told someone then what I knew. I didn't tell anyone though and that is what killed her. I should have gotten up the courage to tell an adult that I knew someone who might possibly be thinking about suicide. But, I didn't. I will forever regret that I didn't tell anyone because I could have had one more best friend by my side right now. I tried to make myself believe that she would get bet!
ter because that is what I wanted. When I thought she was getting better, she was only getting worse.  If I could go back to last week I would tell someone that Brandi was possibly thinking of suicide. Finding Brandi in the garage was the worst moment of my life. I will never, ever forget what I felt when I opened that garage door.
The only thing that I can do now is to spread the word. If you have a friend that you suspect to be thinking of suicide, please tell someone. Don't be afraid like I was. You can save a life. Don't be like me and kill your best friend because of something you didn't do. Brandi, if you are listening, please forgive me. I will miss you so much and never will I forget you. I love you so much." Getting towards the end of my speech tears were flowing down my cheeks. Brandi's parents had asked me to make a speech during the funeral service and I had agreed with no regrets.
I stepped down from the podium in front of the funeral service and sat down next to Haven and Mrs. Kentwood. Haven handed me a tissue to wipe away my tears and Mrs. Kentwood took my hand into hers. She squeezed my hand and when I looked into her glistening eyes I saw Brandi in them. I started crying even harder and put my head on Mrs. Kentwood's shoulder. The only thing I could do now was let myself cry, letting go of all the pain inside of me. Brandi was gone, and she wasn't coming back. It was time for me to stop hiding from reality and face the truth.
9th grader
Toledo, Ohio USA
This story is based on a true story that actually happened to me. I wrote this story hoping that it would help me cope and face the truth about what happened to my best friend. I enjoy writing and hope to start another story soon

Plug Me In

Plug me in.
Into the warm summer night.
Into dull consciousness
and a numb sensation
of being suspended in midair
until you open your eyes.
Plug me into a period of life
void of all responsibility,
where a child's hands glow
of a firefly gem.

Into a world soft as warm cotton.
Can you feel it against your face?
Plug me into an ocean
of velvet, with silvery slits,
where the slippery carpet
pricking my bare feet
cannot distract me from that sea.

Plug me into the hot forest.
Into a wet dream.
Into the beat of a heart
beneath thick layers of sweating flesh.
Lay me in the wild, in the dark.
Lay with me.
Plug me into your warm summer night.

12th grader
Cincinnati, OH, USA
About the author of Plug Me In - I'm Jenn, 16, and live in Ohio in a constant state of boredom and/or apathy. I love poetry as an outlet of my entire self, and favor it most among my other hobbies of drawing and story writing.
The End

The wind howls outside the window,
Rattling her life.
She sinks deeper into the everlasting drifts formed in her mind.
She looks around and sees,
Life has become dull,
No longer the keen razor edge she used to walk.
Life is like a burden dropped onto her stooped shoulders,
A burden she is cursed to carry for all eternity. 
With a heavy heart she stands to leave.
Standing on the cliffs,
Bombarded with the wind and rain she wavers,
The wind is strong,
But she is stronger.
Suddenly the cliff is empty and she is falling,
Every second like a year.
She hits the water soundlessly,
No ripples show upon the surface. 
Darkness stays, all is gone,
None wake,
The dawn will not come without the sun.

7th grader
Pleasanton, CA
About the author of The End. My name is Anastassia, i live in Cali, an internet junkie, err... that's pretty much it.
If you want to know anything else, well that's just too bad, isn't it?

You my friend, yes you, I find you despicable. You are guilty of one of the most horrific crimes that anybody could ever commit. You are a disgrace to the name of humanity. You disgust me and repulse me because there is no need for you to do what you do, there is no cause for you do to what you do, but you still do it. I bet your wondering what I am talking about aren't you? You obviously have no idea, do you? You consider yourself innocent and you consider me some psychopath who is ranting and raving because she has nothing better to do. You think I'm being unreasonable, don't you? Let me tell you though, it is you who is the unreasonable one. Unreasonable cannot describe what you are considering what you have done. You and only you are the unreasonable one. You still don't know what you have done, do you? In fact, now you have decided that you are going to find out my name and address and book me an urgent appointment with a nearby psychiatrist. It's hopeless! You won't gues!
s your offence; you are too clueless. I'll give you a big hint.

Think hard. Can you remember that time when you were walking down the street and you saw that group of rough, untidy, tall, muscular, youths? You saw them with their large gold chains, piercings in every place, tattoos and their shifty looking eyes. They were walking in their large mob and with hands in their pockets, you were both walking in opposite direction on the same street. You saw them and your heart began to pound, you started to recite psalm 19 from the bible, you started to sweat furiously. To you they looked so "dodgy", what if they mugged you or savagely attacked you? Your fear got the better of you and you crossed to the other side of the road after giving them a filthy look. If only you had known.

You see those "dodgy" boys, were actually on their way to their church youth group. They often got together in this youth group to think of ways in which they could raise money for children's charities. You thought they didn't notice when you crossed over the road and gave them a filthy look. You thought they wouldn't care, but they did care. They knew it was probably because of the way they looked that you reacted that way to them. They felt so hurt because of it too. They didn't like being treated the way you treated them that day. You acted as if they were not even human beings, when really they were probably the nicest bunch of guys that anyone could ever hope to meet. But it is too late now, you had already made up your mind that they were up to no good. You already judged them. You already hurt them.

Which brings me on to your crime. Guessed what it is? I am guilty of it, everyone else is guilty of it, but most importantly you are guilty of it. You my dear friend are PREJUDICED.
Please stop today.
10th grader
About the author of A Universally Committed Crime. I really like writing essays and other stuff too. I channel all the things that are going on in my head into my writing. In this essay prejudice is a subject i feel strongly about so i just poured out what i thought onto paper. Thanxs for reading!
"Who am I?"

I am me-
And I am completely original.
Yet at the same time,
I am my mother.
I am my father.
I am my teacher.
I am my bestfriend.
I am my other friend,
And my other friend,
And my other friend.
I am Shakespeare.
I am Picasso.
I am Holden Caulfield.
I am Oprah Winfrey.
I am also your thought.
I am your eyes.
I am your smile.
I am you.
But at the same time,
I am me.
And I am completely original.

11th grader
Athens, Greece

My name is Lina . I am an army brat, so I've practically lived the world. I'm sixteen years-old, and I was born in El Paso, TX. I am a Greek-American now living in Greece. My motto in life is "mind over matter", truth is, it helps me through everything: school, family problems, sports. It's my key for continuance.

The count is full
the bases loaded
bottom of the 9th.
The team is losing 7-3
You need this hit for your team to win
The Crowd is cheering
their spirits high.
You swing...a hit!
You watch it soar.
It sails over the fence
You jump with excitement
The crowd lets a roar.
You have won it
It is all over.
You are the champion
9th grader
Clay, AL , USA

He sits.
Not in anticipation.
But with a sense of completion
He sits.

I wait.
I wait in hopeful expectation.
I wait for him
To stand.

But I wait in vain.

For he does not know I wait,
Or at least not on him.
Fear forbids me tell him,
He may not stand,
Even if he knows that
I wait.

And so I prefer to wait,
Wait in hopeful expectation,
Than for him to know that I wait
And yet never stand.
10th grader

Here is a story I think you'll enjoy
It's about a pretty girl and a shy little boy.
Finally together they made quite a pair,
Although it took them some time to get there,
Two years to be exact.
So I'll tell you the story and that'll be that.

Part 1
The girl lived her life, and the boy lived his own.
Through them both, intelligence shown.
One day the girl looked at the boy not the same
And soon her friend gave the feeling a name.

Her friend said "Hey girl, that look in your eye
You get it whenever you look at that guy.
I know on him you have a crush."
And boy that girl she ever did blush.

She denied and denied.
And to him she did lie.
He asked did she like him and she said "No way"
Then she turned her back to walk away.
But when she changed her mind and turned around
The boy was nowhere to be found.

Next came two more years of moping around
A lasting relationship neither one had found.

A school year that was barely new.
One where friends came two-by-two.

A mutual friend thought they'd make quite a pair.
Although she didn't know the history that was already there.

One night on the net they got together,
Not knowing then it would last forever.

Now they live together in a house with a mote.
To each other their hearts they do devote.

And sadly now I tell you my friend
The story I started has come to and end.
They filled their lives with love and laughter,
And together they've live happily ever after.
10th grader
New Madison, OH
My name is Jeni and I wrote this about my boyfriend and me. It's all true just with a few twist. Although some of it is a hopeful look at the future.

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