Poetry Essay Short Story Book Review
Love and Pain


He asked her why as she turned to leave
Why she couldn’t hang around, couldn’t stay
She said things had changed between them
His tears blurred the tail-lights as she drove away

Thinking of the reasons for this departure
She left him standing there alone
He had no idea how much she hurt
How the pain had turned her heart to stone

He still didn’t understand this situation
So he went inside, just sat and cried
He turned on the radio to calm his nerves
But it was their song that was playing and he tried

To push out everything that was about her
To drown out what he was thinking
The smell of her hair that stung in his nose
Her face was in his thoughts, and now his heart was sinking

She cried the whole way there
Her face now looked much older than her age
She didn’t wanna leave him, she had no choice
This decision she had made filled her heart with rage

This place, it looked so harsh she thought
For it’s purpose, so unfeeling
Then she figured it’s the way it has to be
To take this gift they’re stealing

As she waited in that room all by herself
Her stomach felt heavy with so much guilt
She sobbed until her eyes were red
She looked out the window, watched the flowers wilt

After all was said and done
Her heart was broken, body sore
She wanted nothing to do with anyone now
The weight of that day her memories bore

He sat with just his thoughts inside
And she with just her tears
The loneliness seemed too much to take
Worse than all imaginary fears

As they both looked out their bedroom windows
And stared into the cloudy sky
Then asked themselves the very same question
“Why did this love have to die?”

10th grader
Columbus, Ohio
About the author of Love and Pain. I am 15, coming up on 16, and I am a sophomore. I love to write, and have been to a writer's conference recently.  I play football and throw the shotput. I like hanging out with friends and playing all sports.

Death Be Known
          Be Sought
          Be Sold
 The Endless Bargain Known To The Old
 The Timeless Love
 The Endless Hate
 Truly An End To Your Fate
 That Which Lives In Turn Dies
 Without A Soul To Hear Your Cries
 And Aging Man Stroling The Street
 The Timeless Drummer Keeping His Beat
 The Bass Goes Boom
 A Man Falls To Doom
 And The Drummer Never Misses A Beat
 The Day We're Born We Start To Die
 So Never Let Life Pass You By"

10th grader
Bethel, Connecticut
About The Author:
~JRC~ To live is a test, But without failure there is no achievement.
If Only...

If only…

                                        There we sat,
                                              The two of us.
Both staring into nowhere.
Like two strangers at a bus stop,
Deafened by the silence.

                                         All were quiet,
                                              All were still.
Neither of us spoke.
The soft waves and the whispers of the leaves,
Were the only sign of life.

Neither of us made a move,
Not daring to say the words.
                                            Both hesitating,
          And waiting,
For it to be said.

If only I had had the guts,
If only you had known.
Known and understood my feelings,
Without having to say.

If only I could return to that day,
If only one of us had spoken.
The day that we last met,
All would’ve been changed.

If only I had taken your hand,
If only I spoke my heart.
Words that have laid buried for so long,
Waiting to be released.

If only I had asked the question,
If only I got an answer.
I won’t be regretting as I am today,
Wondering what would’ve happened.

If only things weren’t so quiet that day,
If only I looked into your eyes.
I may have worked up the courage,
To find the truth inside.

Now here I sit,
Alone in the dark.
Wishing I had made a move,
Wishing you were here…

If only…

8th grader
Vancouver, British Colombia, Canada
Hold My Hand

Hold my hand,
Because the night is long,
and each of it's beats
drives the golden blade closer.
Hold my hand,
Because the tears that I've feared
have become my only comfort-
along with the words I cannot say.
Hold my hand,
Because everywhere I turn
i'm getting burned.
Even the snow cannot calm me.

8th grader
Henderson, Nevada
About the author of Hold My Hand: I wrote this poem during a time when I felt really scared and alone. I was reaching out for someone to help me and to be there for me. Writing this helped me a lot. Some advice to other poets out there: if someone reads your work and doesn't like it, don't let that discourage you. If they didn't like it, who cares? Keep writing and keep trying to get your work out there. You never know... your writing could change someone's life.
Time's Mechanics

Tick Tock, Tick Tock
Watching Time run out.
Hours, Seconds,
Hours, Minutes,
What's left when we finish?
Watching Time through a sieve
Then escape to take our leave.
One truth, let's face it,
OUr goal for time is to waste it.
Tick Tock, Tick Tock,
Watching Time run out.

9th grader
Gilbert, AZ

I stand alone in life
A lonely soul to be added to the bursting population
I look to my side
And people stream by
Without a glance
They pass
And I blink
They are gone
Gone from my touch
And gone from my sight
Madness burns me
In a creamy white cloud
Of solitude.
Side to side
Up and down
Where to go?
Silence tucks me away
And I peek out of my shell.
More mortal beings
Walk, run, all in stride with each other
Good bye.
They frighten me now,
Now to hide
Side to side
Up and down
Where to go?
A fire burns by me
My anger
I wish to be like you!
To not be afraid
Not to fear
Or be feared of
Bravery and courage
Patience, a virtue?
No, I say to my cloudy surroundings
No, I say to the pasty whiteness
Of what I don’t know
Can that hurt me?
They scream.
My loneliness again, screaming commands
Leave me alone!
Leave me alone!
Ah, the mortals,
Do they know such terror?
I knelt and place my face in my cupped hands
Only you they say
Only you.
I stand alone in life
And now you know.

7th grader
Wilton, CT
If Only We Can Change

Can you relate
To a stubborn girl
That will not change
Her value?
Can you agree
With a lazy man
That will not take
His place?
Name brands,
All the best
Are all that come to mind
But what a world
Without a care
If I dare
To venture?
A change in value
Change in place
If only we
Can change...

8th grader
Normal, Illinois
About the author of If Only We Can Change 
Into music and sports. Really bored with life and tired with materialistic little preppy girls walking around like the world revolves around them.

No distraction, only destruction
In this drowning pool of smoke and pain
The water grows deeper, blacker
the night is dark, but the room is darker
As the flames engulf the light
My head is down, as they call my name
Pierces of noise, crying voices
Guilt is my one and only prey
They never loved me anyway
I won't come out till I hear your voice
Yet you're not there, as they walk around
 You're always supposed to be by my side
It was the pledge you made, never to shatter
You made me sit here in the closet
Ready to crash and burn...

as the rose melts into ashes
Attacks the wooden door
Washes over me
Is no longer alive

...So now I sit here in the closet
Ready to depart

7th grader
Madison, Wisconsin
Les Hunter
By Sir Ravenwolf

It was upon the black midnight sorrow.
Sadness rode with a burdened ease.
And awareness leaves with the morrow
For this day we are at no bodies peace.
The sole hunter mounts his cold angry steed
He rides with blue sadness into the dawn
For his bounty is headed on with speed
Mexico is his only way to pawn.
All of the goodies which no one cares for.
This is why he is on the run from them.
They meet in the shadows of thor.
A bang a boom blood’s all over them.
As the day had come to an end in mud
These men all lay in pools of icy blood.

11th grader
Pipe Creek, Texas
About the author:  Not much just a little too intellectual - writes mostly when he feels to
My Canvas

Run your eyes, your fingers, your emotion over my canvas.
The delicate frame is so sharp, so hard.
Its color matches so perfectly.
Its shape is so smooth, so calm,
Yet there is something so frightful about it.
It might be the color,
Blending so quietly with the wall;
Perhaps blending too well.
Or it might be the edges, so sharp and precise;
Too rigid and withdrawn.
It seems so cold and confining,
Yet realize that was its design.
Notice the matting behind the frame,
How smooth the transition of color flows.
It takes up so much space, an immense chasm.
So often it goes unnoticed;
Most will glance beyond it, most do not care.
Or most will never take the time to consider it.
But I see it, for it is the only thing connecting the outside and in.
And I know how deep it goes; I know why it hides.
Then there is the picture, you see.
Its colors are so brilliant.
See the flash of yellow,
See the swirl of orange.
See the sparks of green
And the blots of blue, silver, and ice white .
Each splashed so fervently and passionately,
So bright you can taste the crisp globs of sticky paint.
And see the black.
Black appears often, so often,
Swiped here and there, fuming an aura of despair.
Every stroke is placed so carefully,
The lines so straight and swift,
The curves so smooth and flowing,
The colors so fresh and alive, vibrant with life.
Except the black.
Those blurs, see them there and there,
How very mysterious they are, how intriguing.
They yearn for me to clear them up,
To take the paint and wisp it around till shapes appear.
And see that space, along there,
There where the canvas appears so dead and bleak,
No paint, no color, just white, white canvas.
I understand its purpose, and you must too.
That was once filled as the rest,
Filled with red I think, a deep, wild, passionate red.
What happened do you ask?
The heart was ripped out,
Ripped out leaving nothing but emptiness,
Leaving nothing but a blank white staring nothing.
This picture is indeed fascinating, as are all pictures.
This is my picture.
This is my emotion.
This is my passion.
This is my soul.
The one I see over there is yours.
And I can't help but laugh, you see.
I can see your paint, and your colors,
And I can see that void; you have one too.
I can see the depths of your artwork, I can see it all,
From the corners of your frame to the depths of your perfumed, fetid colors.
You never saw mine before now, and never ever would you have seen it.
Not unless I showed you, not until now.
And you will not see it again, ever.
I am still painting.
My canvas needs filling; my void, my heart, needs filling;
And you disturbed my art.
So back away, I invite you no more.
I need to work, to concentrate.
I need to clear the blurs, smooth my colors,
Settle my emotions and fears and imbedded pain.
I need to fill my void, to repaint the color which once invigorated my life.
You seem to mock me, to laugh at my efforts.
Oh, I will repaint my void in color, in vibrant colors.
Repaint it with every feeling and emotion I can muster.
And I will do it without you.

10th grader
Mont Belvieu, Texas
About The Author:
I am 16 and I love to write poetry. This is basically describing a
painting of a person and when you get to the end you realize that the person is talking to another person who hurt them and they say they can go on without them.
Strawberry Summers

It was a day of fun
Summer breezes and summer sun
Strawberries and lemonade
Recollection of that day will never fade.

They were laughing down by the river bank
They were so in love they couldn't think.
She said, "Do you love me? Tell me true."
He said, "Yes, I love you. I truly do."

So they had their day of fun
With summer breezes and summer sun
They had their strawberries and lemonade
And created a memory that would never fade.

And each year they come together
To this place no matter the weather
They sit here in the shade
And relive the memory that they made.

They have their day of fun
With or without summer breezes and summer sun
They have their strawberries and lemonade
And revive the memory so it never will fade.

And even though they're old and gray
They come here every year on this day
No where else do strawberries and lemonade taste so good
No where else do they taste as they should.

They relive each day of fun
Hopefully with summer breezes and summer sun
Always with strawberries and lemonade
And one memory that will never fade.

Every year they do their best
To pass every trial and test
So that they may come back here
For strawberry summers every year.

Just for one more day of fun
Summer breezes and summer sun
Strawberries and lemonade
And all the memories that they've made.

9th grader
Newellton, Louisiana
About the author of Strawberry Summers. Hilary is a 14 year old from Louisiana. She enjoys writing and has written many poems. This is her first submission to teenlit.
Entangled Relation

Flame ridden eyes engulfed misspelled intentions,

We were on fire,
                 [So on fire..]

Crimson reflections drained
Swish swirling through trembling fingertips,
Lucid pupils fixate-dilate
fearful tremors shroud another confident grin,
I try
     I tried,

Freefallen and broken we strayed,
I get lonely
You crouched inside my breath
coiling between my gasps,
and you stayed: clasped hands sacrificed another empty night
another empty effot,

Stay within me, my obsession,
Because cruel enchantment will brush our tongues
I'll be bitter,
You'll be bitter,
but our LlOuVsEt shall be sweet.

8th grader
Topeka, Kansas

Gathered around
self-pity fire,
blowing glass boasts
filling the ego gourds
All contemptuous and rough with fate
singing rotted harmonies
wording themselves
into demigods or more
Each a poseur, each a threat
jealous of the primogeniture
wasting in their lower levels
pleading to be king
living to be the highwaymen.

11th grader
Bowling Green, Ohio
About the author of "Highwaymen": Can't... think of... witty comment... must... make other web surfing poets... think I'm hilarious... can't do it... don't have enough dilithium crystal..
Ode to the Weary Demigods

They called us the iron gates.

Angie went home with the 5th Street massacre. Impaled onto nothingness she said, "Illusion, dillusion, spoil the withered bones. I am not dying, but growing.

Josef the jaundice Jew sat alone in the dark corner on the wooden chair he called his friend. Still alive and still afraid from the war of the races tothe day we call 'morrow. He looked like a child devouring awarenss.

Reid was the rhapsodizing reunionist who told us all to have faith. Sucking on cigarettes and toiling over the Torah, he said the ill would be well and the narcissists redeemed.

And then there was Solomon, the thinker. Sarcastic satirist, he spiked his hair and wore argyle sweaters and a cynical grin. For, he knew the fate of the world. He angered Reid and discouraged the Jew, but still, they all stuck together. Angie loved him before she flew away and became the dust that built upon Josef.

They called them the iron gates.

Tucked away in the narrow shambles, they strengthened their minds and addictions. They controlled the alignment of the stars at night and caused the downfall of dogmas.

They called them the iron gates.

Upon the walls of the hollow room hung multitudes of clocks and statues of

Plato and Confuscious.Dark and dreary, misty and weary, they wallowed within their discontent.

And they called them the iron gates.

But despite all their power, their avant guarde, their knowledge, their plan, their silent destruction of man, they could sometimes grow miserable.

For, "growing miserable"--this was their epitaph, this was their revolution.

9th grader
About the author of Ode to the Weary Demigods:
The Queen

She lived in her castle
She was beautiful
She was the Queen

Everyone thought that she was happy
But her sorrow was unseen

She lived all alone in her castle
She always felt sad and blue
She stayed in her castle all day long with nothing much to do

She had trouble sleeping
She cried at night in bed

She hated living and wanted nothing more than to be dead

One day she just got tired
She jumped out of her window and plunged straight into the ground
The next morning, her tired body was found

Everyone was puzzled
"What has happened to our Queen?"
They had never known that the Queen was suffering
For her depression had been unseen

10th grader
Houston, Texas
My name is Victoria and I am the author of "The Queen".  I am 17 year-old and I love to write poetry.   In this poem, the queen was in pain, but no one knew of it.   Everybody knew that she was a queen, but no one realized how sad she truly was.  When the queen committed suicide, everyone was confused for they hadn't known that she was miserable.   I wrote this poem because people never take the time to see how a person is really doing.  They assume that just because your a "Queen", everything is okay.
A cold Winter Night

The midnight air is blowing so fast and yet so calm.
The owl's wings flapping so loud and strong.
The smell of the darkness is like dew on the trees.
I's there more to this winter night then i can see?
The water in the ocean colder then ice.
The boats in the water are like ghosts in the sea.
The stars are like diamonds in the beautiful night sky.
The moon above us shines so beautifuly high.
Perfectly placed in the midnight sky.
I look in the distance and all I see is snow on the trees on the mountains and the ground so low.
I wonder why i deserve such A beautiful sight. I will never forget this cold winter night

9th grader
Lewisville ,Texas
Chrysanthemum Tea

                                  chrysanthenum tea
Before you is set the bitter brew
Served on platters of denial and disilliusion
Hateful lies in honor of the anonymous ancients
Through wire you carry the dead in fields of fire
Sister of Nanking you are not so easily forgotten
Images bound, finally found, let the whole world know,
stagnant ponds, by the red dawn ,the earth becomes rotten
gratuitous red wind ravages the gentle flower to the marrow
you stand alone with back to the perilous past
somewhere within lies a shattered porcelain pagoda
as grievous human leaves, crushed, fermented, with telltale tears
Stoically, you sip the infinitesimal and siphoned retribution;
your Chrysanthemum tea

11th grader
Los Angeles, California
About the author of Chrysanthemum Tea
 Remember Nanking!
Betty Rose

I know an old woman name Betty Rose
Sadness follows her wherever she goes

She's told me stories that still give me chills
Of ghosts, goblins and dark evil thrills

Her smile's faint, a whisper of silence
She swears she has angels that give her guidance

I've seen her dance with nothing but shadows
Screaming that our souls are condemned to the gallows

She lives at the bottom a long, dark hill
Where time is forever standing still

Not a flower grows, not a river flows
Exept for the ones in her head

I've seen her caring for a garden that has long been dead

She swears that she follows her heart, and it's taken her far
From the depths of the ocean to the tip of a star

She twirls in the moonlight, silent and deep
And weep for the soul she could not keep

I see her often in the night
Crying for God to bring her light

She wanders alone, never feeling the stones That are hurled upon her life
For she knows she will soon be with God In a land free of strife

I often lie awake at night
Frightened of a fate I can not fight

For when I look in the mirror I see her eyes
Watching me from her new disguise

9th grader

Long, loaded smile
disconnected eyes
Keep your eyes on your hips
and your hands on the prize
Wait once to walk
wind your way through the crowd
With your mouth slammed open
Party-crashers not allowed

Eat up, eat up because
It's dinner time
Fill up, fill up because
You can't have mine

Cover up your legs
Show off your chest
When you're hung in the gallows
only hang with the best
Cruise the snack bar for a little while
lick lips, leave tips
lead, load your smile

Eat up, eat up because
It's time to shine
Fill up, fill up because
You can't have mine

The first meal you have had in weeks
You avert your eyes,
still someone speaks
Don't have a penny but you fit right in
Wait once to walk
then you waltz your way on in

Eat up, eat up because
It's party time
Eat up, eat up because
you pilfered mine
Eat up, eat up because
it's what you do
Fill up, fill up and then
just walk right through
Oh, yeah just walk out.

11th grader
Bowling Green, Ohio
About the author of "Mooch": I wrote these lyrics to the tune of "Lump" by The Presidents of the United States of America. Eventually, we changed the tune, but to get the idea for how this song is supposed to go, sing it to the tune of "Lump." I swear, it sounds much cooler to music. The Presidents of the USA rule!
Demon's Breath

The mist that blinds the line of judgment
      That pulls you in and never lets go.
How can such a habit culminate into a killing demon?

Start off with one,
      you'll end up having one billion.
The grip of addiction never lets go.

I have seen what this demon can do
Its amazing strength and power.
Slowly killing you,
      decomposing you.

Many have tried to escape the demon,
      but they are bound under ball and chain.
Few have succeeded
Now prancing in their meadows of freedom.

But my best advice is,
      to no hold hands with the demon at all.
Fight the temptations,
      whatever they may be.
For the demon's grasp is strong
And something you may not survive.

8th grader
Vancouver. British Columbia, Canada
About the author of Demon's Breath:
Poetry is my favorite type of writing. I also write shosrt stories, but free verse rocks!

i found myself here
and i found myself here
no point in moving
just cause i've been moved
i can't carry this
it's weight i can't bear
so i stay here
where uncertainty thrives
and reality
flashes its ugly face at me
time after time
a constant reminder
of everything wrong
of everything right
just what i need
to keep me hanging

Eureka, California
About The Author:
My name is Eleanor. I'm 18 years old. I live in California. I just started writing poems a few months ago.

Pull me up and up
Higher and higher still
Farther than ever before
Farther still 'til it hurts to live
No need to breathe
No need to see
Only feel
Feel so high
Like I could fly
Don’t stop now
Just a little higher
Push me up and up
Higher and higher still
'Til we reach the highest point
Must have left my mind back there
No need to think
No need to care
Only feel
Feel so high
Like I could die
Push me again
One last time
Fell over the top
Crashing down and down
Faster and faster still
Faster than ever before
Don’t want to think
Don’t want to breathe
Only hold onto the feeling

9th grader
Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada
Where Will I Go 

The darkness is overpowering
And it keeps inviting me in
Promising that i'll be better there
I'm hoping it won't win
But if i don't surrender
Then where will i go
The loneliness leaves me hollow
More hollow than you know
There's a gaping void inside me
That needs to be filled quick
All the happy people round me
Seem to make me sick
To anyone who's listening
Try to help me if you will
Or all my pain and emptiness
Will lay forever still

9th grader
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
By K. W. Jeter

A young executive at a big company is murdered. A copyright cop called McNihil is sent to catch the murderer: a computerized simulation, who stole the executive's consciousness and is running amok in the underworld of a post-apocalypic Los Angeles. But McNihil isn't your everyday, garden-variety cop: he has had special cybernetic implants placed into his eyes, so that everything he sees is straight out of a 1940's noir flick (hence the title).

What follows is one of the most bizarre, phantasmogaric adventures of the millenial fin-de-siecle. Jeter's prose is gorgeous and lush, surprisingly literate, considering that

this novel is near-future sci-fi (a genre known for its cheesiness). It's a crisp, tangy blend of Vonnegutian sardonicism, Gibsonesque cyber-cool, Nietzschean rebelliousness and Kafkaesque weird that will leave you reeling for days. It's a perfectly lovely dichotomy of punkiness (i. e. moving tattoos, walking dead, the *interesting* punishment for copyright infringement) and intellectuality (the guns are named after Wagnerian operas: Tannhauser,  Gotterdammarung, Parsifal) that's perfect for us literate teens.

If you're going to a bookshop or library in the next couple of days, do yourself a big favor and take "Noir" for a spin!

484 pages paperback. Published by Bantam Spectra, 1998. $6.99USD. 

7th grader
New York, New York
About The Author:
Mara is your typical, average teenage girl. She likes music (Vangelis, Steve Roach, Amoeba), boys (Rutger Hauer!) makeup (Lancome, Estee Lauder, Shiseido) and consumes copious amounts of candy without regard to her dentition. Like many teenage women, she is an immense fan of summer vacation, a critic of the Citywide Test, a feminist and anti-teenybopper. In her (copious)spare time, she thinks of ways to exact revenge on bullies and how to extort good grades from teachers WITHOUT working her butt off. She is currently attempting to get stuff published in Asimov's Sci-Fi Magazine, because she knows that she can write better than Asimov himself and she does.
Every Kid Can Learn!

At a Seminar byLearning Disabilities Association of Alabamaand the Alabama High School Graduation Exam
January 27, 2000

Speaker:  Cheryl Sparks, 1999 Alabama Teacher of the Year

 The conference was at the Governor's House Hotel in Montgomery. The rooms were very fancy and big. They had lots of good food, so I liked it. Every hour or so we would have a break. There weren't very many kids there.

 I was sitting down in the big conference room when Ms. Sparks said, "Take your watch off and put it on the other hand." Ms. Sparks did not tell us why she wanted us to do this. I didn't do it.

 Next, Ms. Sparks gave everybody in the room a test. Nobody studied and nobody knew the answers to anything. She asked a whole bunch of questions, hard questions. Everybody thought it was hard. There were 15 multiple-choice questions on the test. One question was, "What profession uses a hawk?" Another question was, "What is blue swift?" I knew two answers. My mom got four right. Ms. Sparks' point was that that's the way a student feels when they have no way of knowing the material; they have no "prior knowledge," they've never seen it before. So they must be taught.

One of the questions was "What is the best fertilizer for peanut farming?" 

I did not know the answer because I am not a peanut farmer!

 When Ms. Sparks started teaching, kids were either regular education or mentally retarded. She had to change the way she taught when the new laws came out. She had to learn all the different learning styles. There were so many of them that I can't remember them all. She said "hands-on" learning is the best for anyone. "Hands-on" is called kinesthetic learning. 

 My favorite story was about a girl who had bad learning disabilities. The girl had a lot of trouble reading and Ms. Sparks had to help her learn to read better. Ms. Sparks is a Physical Science teacher. She was teaching her class about balancing equations. She figured out that if she cut out different colored construction paper into different shapes, it helped the students understand. The girl who had a learning disability got the hardest equation first! Then the LD girl was teaching her partner, a straight A student, how to do the equations.

 Ms. Sparks said the point was "All children can learn!!!!!!"

 There is this new book Ms. Sparks showed us about how to teach different students. It had different lesson plans in it. She said some of the LD lesson plans were under "curriculum" at the website <www.calhoun.k12.al.us >

 At the end of the seminar, Ms. Sparks told us that the reason for changing hands with the watch was to determine if you like or dislike change. If you switched hands and left it there until the end of the seminar, you liked change. If you left it there for a minute, you sort of like change. If you did not like it at all, you did not like change.

 The best think I learned is that no matter who you are, you can still learn.

 Guess who I got to meet? Mabrey Whetstone, Alabama Director of Special Education! He said that he went to Elmore County High School and that it is a good school.

 The rest of the conference for Friday was canceled because it was supposed to snow Friday. It was good enough that I want to go back.

7th grader
Eclectic, Alabama
About the author of "Every Kid Can Learn!"
I am a 14 year old LD student. This is the story of part of the Statewide LD Conference my mom took me to. I never knew there were so many people who care about kids who are LD!

I walk into Calculus class, my first class of the day, tired and stressed.  I had been up late the night before, studying for our first big Calculus test of the year. 

Within minutes of sitting down, the tests are passed out and I begin. Less than ten minutes later, our teacher announces he has an errand to run, and tells us to keep working until he returns. As soon as he walks out the door, though, I know exactly what is going to happen. 

I continue concentrating on the question before me, but suddenly the room is not so quiet anymore. With a sigh I lift my head, and look around the room.

Now that the teacher is gone, many of the students begin sharing answers and discussing the problems together. Although this is far from the first time I have had to experience this, once again I am filled with a feeling of disbelief. I try to continue working, but my mind is now clogged with confusion and disappointment. After all, this is an AP Calculus class, and we are seniors in high school. Shouldn’t we be trustworthy enough to be left alone in a classroom without the teacher having to worry about us cheating?

Cheating. The word brings to mind many different connotations, from deception to corruption to dishonesty. I have always been against cheating and work hard to earn my grades honestly; seeing it happen all around me is very difficult to accept. I never really understood how difficult it can be to resist cheating, until I began

to witness my peers doing it on a daily basis. For many, cheating has become just a part of everyday life, and they don’t even think twice about doing it. I can’t even explain how disappointing it feels to put all my effort into a homework assignment or studying for a test, and then see someone else cheat their way to a better grade. To me, the grades you receive should represent not only your intelligence, but also how much effort and hard work you have applied to honestly earn your grades.

A few months ago, when our class ranks were disclosed, I was very excited to be named 4th in my class. I honestly feel that the amount of work and commitment I have made to my studies throughout high school has earned me this place, and I am proud to have come this far. However, I wonder about those who have cheated to get where they are. Many of them are ranked close to me, and unfortunately, even at the top of the class.

I have contemplated many times whether it is right to let all these acts go unreported and to let these students continue to think that cheating is the best solution.

Of course the temptation to cheat will always be there, but as a result many of these students will never be able to experience how good it feels to earn a good grade. Cheating may seem like the easiest solution now, but in the future it will make things much more difficult. These students who become accustomed to cheating on a regular basis will find it progresses far beyond just their schoolwork. They will continue on to deceive others in all aspects of their lives, from personal to business relationships. I just hope that someday they will be able to realize that cheating and misleading others can not be kept up forever. Eventually, everyone must realize for themselves that the only true way to succeed is to work honestly, and to honestly earn what you receive. All I can do is pray and hope to myself that someday, somehow, people will be fair and honest. It's a simple wish, but sadly one that is probably far beyond my grasp.

As for my first Calculus test, I ended up getting a 97 on it. As I sat in class that day, I listened to the students around me, who had cheated, bragging about their grades to each other. I have now realized that no matter how angry I get, or how much I complain about it, some of these students will continue to cheat, as long as they can get away with it. It can only be to my advantage to move ahead of these people and work honestly. Although my 97 may not be perfection, I can walk out of the room feeling good about myself, and being proud that I worked to the best of my ability. I feel being confident in what I believe is right will help me to grow more as a human being, and hopefully it can help me to advance one step further on the long, complicated path of life.

12th grader
Massena, NY
About the author of Cheating: Jennifer is a 17 year old senior in high school, who is planning on attending one of 5 colleges she has applied to, to major in biology. She is ultimately interested in pursuing a career as a veterinarian. Along with playing Varsity soccer and track, she is involved in many activities including French Club and National Honor Society. She also enjoys listening to music, especially Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Creed, and loves to spend time with friends and relax at home with her dog, a golden retreiver named Buddy
Eternal Freeze

Jan. 4, 2000

This is really horrible. It’s freezing cold, and I’m all alone. I heard last week, before all this happened, that there was a possibility that Earth was moving away from the sun. I didn’t take it very seriously at all; I was too preoccupied with algebraic equations and where I would be going this weekend. It didn’t occur to me that it would actually happen; it all seemed like some kind of fantastical movie or something. Now it is all too real. 

My parents passed almost immediately after the freeze, as did two of my sisters, both over thirty years old. There seems to be some kind of gas or something in the atmosphere, something deadly to older people, for I have seen no older adults anywhere. I am left to care for Matthias, my nephew, for his mother, Donna, is ill and his father dead. It does not seem as if he will live much longer, as young and weak as he is, only eight months old and without proper care.

I fear for the rest of my family, some of whom I am certain are dead. I have not been able to contact anyone, for the power is out and the phone lines frozen and fallen under the weight of the ice. It is very desolate here, and I fear that soon I must venture out to find somewhere else to stay. My house is not insulated, therefore very cold, and I have no wood for the heater. I fear that Matthias would not be capable of making the journey, however.

I could try the vehicles, but I know not the first thing about them, and I’m sure that any liquid inside of them is frozen, anyway. The thermometer on the porch reads -95 degrees Fahrenheit. I didn’t know it could get that cold in Tennessee. My only consolation is my Bible, the few books left around the house, and the hope that maybe someone will come soon. If not, I fear, I myself, though young and healthy, might die. If not from starvation, then from loneliness. It is terribly lonely.

I am thankful that my parents did store up for the supposed Y2K bug. I have enough supplies to last me for the moment, if I eat little every day so I can provide Matthias and Donna, when she occasionally awakens, nutrition. The Y2K seems so foolish now. Who cares if the computers go haywire? I doubt that there are any left, anyway.

This journal is a bit comforting, though I never thought I would catch myself writing to a book. I can see why, now, though. It takes away a little loneliness, even though it cannot write back. I shall go for now, it is time to care for Matthias and Donna. If I am still alive, I shall write again later. 

That was my first, and last, journal entry after the freeze. I got extremely lonely, and it helped to ease the pain. I guess whoever finds that single piece of paper years from now, if the world still exists, will assume that I died immediately after. That is not the case. I just didn’t want to write anymore. It is now January seventh. Two more days, and I will be fourteen. The only reason that this really matters at all is because it brings me one year closer to the fatal age of thirty. After I wrote the entry, I went to check on my nephew and sister and found them silent, asleep and never to awaken. It truly saddens me, for Matthias was barely beginning his life, and he was a truly animated and loving child. I loved them both very much. Since the ground is too hard to bury them in, and the snow too deep for it anyway, I simply dug a hole on the frozen snow, as deep as I could, and laid mother and child inside. Had it not been so cold, I would have sat down right there and cried. Instead, I went inside and curled up on the couch. It offered little warmth. I am now truly alone.

Today, I worry for my boyfriend, Daeveon. It seems dumb to worry about something like that, but what we had was a true love. I believe he will find me soon, if he has not joined my parents and sisters. That is not a thought I want to consider. I finally realize that sitting around and worrying will do me no good. I look around the house, and see an abundance of firewood that I was too dejected to notice before. I mean, what use have I for the eight dining room chairs? Or even the table, for that matter? Quickly, I put on my heaviest outer garments and go outside to the woodshed to retrieve an ax. This will be the last day I will freeze.

After I have retrieved the ax and made my way back inside the house, I peel off the garments and set to work. Within the next two hours, I have a rather large pile of firewood. I am out eight dining room chairs, the dining room table, and pretty much everything else that’s wooden except for the doors and walls. I get one of my mother’s lighters, no need to waste the matches yet, and start on the heater. Within forty-five minutes, I am nice and cozy.

For the next two days, I busy myself in various ways. I find all of the quilts, covers, and blankets that I can, fold them up, and put them in the corner of the living room. My house has become rather bare, as I have used most of the furniture for firewood. I did, however, save the couch, to sleep on, and because it folds out into a bed; when Daeveon comes, he’ll have a place to sleep. I stack every magazine and stray piece of paper, save computer paper that I use for sketching, under the counter where the bookcase used to be, before I added it, also to my pile of firewood. I saved the books, for my entertainment.

However, if and when it comes down to it, I will not hesitate to throw these things in the heater. The only thing I refuse to do so with is my Bible. I have all of the canned food stacked against a wall in the dining room. Anything that needs to be kept cold, I simply put in the attic and shut the door.

It’s like a freezer up there when it’s cold outside. After I have everything organized to my liking, I curl up on the couch under a quilt and begin to reread one of the many books. As I open it, a picture falls out. It’s an old Polaroid of me, Mama, Daddy, my sisters, their husbands and children. It was taken last Christmas, in 1998, when everything was perfect. I start to cry, remembering the old times, when we all would gather around the big dining room table, laughing and playfully insulting each other. Jesus, I thought, I don’t know why this has happened, but I hope you have a very good reason for it. 

The next day, when I wake up, I immediately start on my breakfast. While I am eating, I remember, Today’s my Birthday! The surge of excitement that I have always felt with birthdays is not there, though. There will be no birthday presents today, I won’t even be able to enjoy my birthday at church like I had hoped. Oh, well. I finish my breakfast and put the dishes in the sink, then take the five gallon bucket I have been using for water off of the heater and go fill it with snow from the back yard. I place it back on top of the heater for the snow to melt.

As I begin to fill up the heater, I hear a thud outside the front door.

I pick up a chair leg and cautiously make my way to the door. It would be a wonderful thing, I thought sarcastically, to be murdered on my birthday. I slowly open the front door, to see nothing but the front yard buried in snow. Then I notice the footprints across the yard, headed toward the door, looking as if the person that had made them was on the verge of collapsing. I hear a moan. Only then do I look down to see a crumpled heap at my feet. “Daeveon!” I cry, then jump at the sound of my own voice. It was hoarse from neglect. He moaned again as I dragged him into the dining room, and lay him next to the heater. I took off his wet clothes, and wrapped him in a few quilts. It scared me to think that he might have hypothermia.

I stroke his face, and am shocked at how cold it is. I feel a draft, and go to shut the front door. I see that his backpack is laying on the mat. I bring it in, and set it against the wall across from the heater. I look at Daeveon. His black hair has grown since the last time I saw him. It lays just over his ears, and halfway down his forehead. His long-lashed eyes are closed in sleep; his lips tinged blue.

I start to worry, and go to him in order to make sure he’s still breathing. He is.

I hear a scratch at the back door. Again picking up a chair leg, I head to the back door. I open it, and sitting there, looking up at me with sorrowful eyes, shivering and whimpering, is my dog, Itchy. I am overjoyed to see her. I had not even thought of her, with the events that were happening. I open the screen door, and she hesitate, for she isn’t a house dog and she knows it. I pick her up, bring her inside, and lay her down beside Daeveon, who’s color is coming back.  I go get a pillow from the pile of blankets and put it under Daeveon’s head. All of a sudden, I grin, and consider this turn of events for the better. When Daeveon wakes up, I’ll finally have someone to talk to. Someone I love dearly, at that. It is a comfort. I wrap a blanket around Itchy, which isn’t a problem because she is about the size of a fox terrier, though she’s only a mutt. I then get my own blanket, and curl up across from Daeveon, so I’m not as close to the heater. I begin my vigil, waiting for Daeveon to awaken. 

Next thing I know, I’m waking up to see Daeveon looking at me with a grin on his face. “You’re up!” I exclaim, again jumping at my own voice, which is still hoarse. He smiles. “I’m not quite up,” he says, “just awake.” 

“Smart alec.” 

 “That’s me!” We laugh together, and for once, since the freeze, I am actually happy. I go over to him. 

“How are you feeling, Sweetie?” I inquire. 

“Pretty good, actually,” he says, “just a little weak.” His face falls, as if he’s just remembered something tragic. 

“Aunt Deana and Grandma are-” 

“I know sweetie,” I cut him off, “so are Mama and Daddy. And my sisters and Matthias.” I feel myself start to cry again. I look up and notice that his eyes are a little wet, also. He sits up, careful not to lean against the heater. 

“Come here, Sweetheart,” he says to me. I scoot over close to him, and he hugs me. “It’ll be okay sweetie, I promise,” he assures me, his voice shaky. I give up. I start to sob, burying my face in his shoulder. I barely notice his chest rising and falling with anguish, also.

We sit there for about ten minutes, letting out our frustration and sorrow.

Then I notice it start to get a little cool. "Be right back," I say as I stand up. I fill the heater all the way up to the top. "Is there anything I can do?" he asks me "Probably," I reply with a grin, "but there's nothing your going to do!  At least not until I'm completely sure you're well." He sighs and gives up, knowing how useless it is to argue.

"Let me get you some clothes," I say as I head toward what used to be my parents room. My father's clothes would be way too big for him, but at least it's clothes. I found a tee shirt and the smallest pair of sweatpants I could find, and bring them back to him. I respectively busy myself with something unimportant in the other direction as he sheds the quilts and goes to the other room to change.

When he appears, I grin at how baggy the sweatpants are. "Oh, I need to show you something," he says as he grabs his bag and begins to dig around inside it. "Merry Christmas," he says, smiling, as he hands me a wrapped box about 9x12, "and happy birthday." He hands me a smaller box.  I open up the larger box, and remove a shirt with our picture airbrushed on the front. I grin at him. I open the smaller on, and remove his class ring. "It's about dadgum time!" I exclaim, laughing. I have been bugging him for over a month for that ring! I give him a hug, and a quick kiss. "Thank you so much, sweetie. I love you." 

He grins. "So where's mine?" 

"All right, smarty!" I apologize to him, "Well, sweetie, your Christmas present kind of doesn't exist anymore." He gives me a puzzled look. "I was going to give you Pup." I had planned on giving him Itchy's only puppy, whom we never did name and got accustomed to calling her just plain "Pup." 

"Oh," he says, "Well, I got something better than any present. I got you." He grins at me. 

A couple of weeks later, Daeveon and I are still living in peace, helping each other get the daily chores done. When I head to fill up the heater, I realize that our wood supply is getting rather low. I had also noticed, earlier today, that our food is running out, too.

I fill up the heater and proceed to plop down on the couch beside him.

"Hey, Sweetie," he says, not bothering to look up from his book. "Dave, we need to talk," I say. He puts down his book and looks up at me, showing concern.

"We're running out of food," I sigh, "and wood.” 

"So what do you think we should do?" he asks me. I have been dreading the day I would have to say this.

"We're going to have to leave," I say. 

"Where would we go, Lo?" He inquires.

 "I don't know," I reply, "but we'll have to go somewhere, and soon." 

Later tonight, as I lie in the bed snuggled beside Daeveon, I have this strange feeling come over me. I can almost hear some one faintly calling, "Lois, Lois." It's unusual to hear that name, because most people just call me "Lo."

"Dave," I whisper, nudging him, "Daeveon, did you hear that?"

"Mmmmm-mmm," is his reply.

 "Daeveon!" I whisper sharply. He snorts. I roll my eyes and get out of bed, convinced that he isn't going to stick a toe out from under the covers until morning.

I hear it again, "Lois. Lois." Ever so softly. It seems to be coming from the area of the front door. I walk softly to the door, but there isn't anything over there.

I open the front door, and a freezing draft blows across my legs, making me shiver. I begin to shut the door, but feel compelled by some weird force to walk outside. I shut the door behind me as I walk out on the front porch.  Only an idiot, I think, would walk outside in below freezing weather in nothing but a night gown. I don't even have slippers on.

Just when I have decided that Daeveon slipped something in my water, and start to go inside, I notice that it isn't cold anymore. I also notice that I'm not on my front porch. "Lois," I hear, still softly, but not quite a whisper anymore. I turn around to face what resembles a high-ranking business man's office.  There's a desk straight across from me, about 20 feet away, with a cozy looking couch in front of it. There is a cylindrical six-foot fish tank full of brightly multi-colored fish in the corner. A high backed cushioned chair sits with its back turned to me.

"H-hello?" I say in a shaky voice. Okay, this is definitely weird. The chair spins around, and I see in it a grandfatherly looking older man. His hair is white, speckled gray, and he has small, wire-rimmed glasses with square frames. He smiles at me warmly, and suddenly I feel comfortable, even familiar with him. "Ah, Lois," he says kindly.

 "Yes, sir?" I ask politely. 

"Hmmm, good manners. That's a good quality in what I'm looking for," he says quietly. 

 "Excuse me?" I ask.

 "Please, Lois, sit down," he offers. I take a seat on the couch in front of the desk. I literally sink about six inches. 

"Sir, may I ask why I am here?" I inquire. 

"Oh, we'll get to that Lois, soon enough," comes his answer. He smiles at me. "I'm afraid that I must confess," he says, "that, after years of perfection, I have finally made a mistake." I lose all sense of sophistication that I ever had.  


"I guess I should start from the beginning, then, Lois." 

"It would help a bit, yes."

 "All right."

He begins, "For years, my ship has roamed freely in space, with no boundaries. I have used it to gather scientific knowledge about the universe, traveling from planet to planet, making note of the different species, any possible intelligence, the cultures, and so on. Well, for some reason, when I began to investigate your planet (for I am not a Homo sapien, as I appear, but I fear my true form might frighten you a bit), the ship threw it off of its orbit. I believe that it may have something to do with the fact that Earth is the only planet in its solar system with any life at all, for I have never seen any other solar systems with this case. This is the reason that it has gotten so cold in the past few weeks. I believe, though, that I may have sent your planet back onto its regular orbit, by reversing the technique that accidentally threw it off."

"Well, this is good news," I state, "but what does it have to do with me as an individual?" "Well, Lois, as far as my observations can tell, you and your mate are now the only living members of your species." I fall back against the couch.

The only living members? The only people left on the planet? Then, all my friends, even the ones that I had hoped had lived- "I am terribly sorry," he says, with genuine sympathy, "I see that your species is quite intelligent, and also quite social. I am afraid I can not extend my apologies enough, for I know the pain of losing a loved one. I do not blame you if you are extremely angry with me." But strangely enough, I'm not mad at him. I mean, it's not his fault he did it. He had no way of knowing that his ship would cause Earth to go off its orbit. But, Rachelle, Penny, Nikki, Lorena, Stanley, Demmy, Angel, all- all- dead? How could such a thing be?

The man continues, "That is why I have brought you up here. Since you and your mate are the only members of your species left, then it is up to you to repopulate your planet- otherwise, the species Homo Spain will be a thing of the past. I am afraid, however, that most of the organisms of your planet have been destroyed by the sudden refrigeration of the planet. I have studied the preceding ecosystem, however, and have gathered what I believe would be suitable substitutes."  He leads me into a room filled with strange animals and plants in cages and terrariums, most of them, from what I can tell, only had slight differences from the ones on Earth. For instance, the dolphin with a third eye on its melon, or the nine inch tall tiger. It resembles a little stuffed one I used to have. By now I am slightly adjusted to the fact that Daeveon and I will be the second Adam and Eve.

"O-okay," I manage, "s-so when will all of this be e-established?"

Where is this stuttering coming from all of a sudden? "As soon as possible," he says, "if you will wait a moment, I shall be right back." I nod, and he leaves. I proceed to look at the strange animals. I see a hoofed mammal that could be a horse, except its hair is about three foot long. Also, a dog that might be an Irish setter, except that it has green and brown spots on a gray coat. A leopard that had webbed feet and gills. A rabbit with a tail resembling a squirrel's. I'm telling you, weird things.

A few minutes later, I hear footsteps. Only, it sounds like two pairs of feet. I turn to see the man walking in with a very stunned and sick looking Daeveon following him. "L-Lo-" Daeveon starts. "I know, sweetie. I know," I say soothingly as I give him a comforting hug. "Okay," the man, whom I have already labeled Grampa, says, "here's what I'm going to do. I will accelerate the Earth's rotation, just fast enough so that all of the snow and ice has melted and dried enough so that you will have a decent place to go back to." Boy, when this guy messes up, he knows how to mop it all right back up.

Daeveon and I follow him out of the little menagerie into yet another room, this one resembling the deck on the old TV show, SeaQuest, DSV. We watch the screen, which shows a view of the frozen Earth, almost completely white.  We watch as, somehow, the earth's rotation quickens, until it looks like it's in fast forward. The white melts off until the planet is a slushy brown color, and then the color of dust. A few minutes later, it has a few traces of green on it. 

"Okay, so how many years ahead are we now?" I ask. "About two thousand," Grampa replies. "What!?!?!?!" Daeveon and I exclaim at once. Grampa looks surprised, and then an expression of knowing comes over his face. "Ah," he says, "I apologize. That would be about twenty or twenty five Earth years." Daeveon and I breathe a sigh of relief.

I am almost sad when he tells us it's time to go back. "Will we ever see you again?" I ask him. "Well, we'll see," he says, "I think I am beginning to favor the two of you. You, Lois, are a very smart and very mature female for only fourteen Earth years of age. Our offspring's' equivalent to that age are still making foolish and childlike decisions, and pitching a fit when they don't get what they want." I don't tell him that the majority of people that were my age did act like that. He continues, "Who knows, maybe I'll come back and see how my friends the humans are doing. But, definitely in a different ship!" He smiles at us, and then transports us back to the Earth.

"Wow, Grandma, that was a cool story!" Little five year old William exclaims, and almost bounces off of my lap. "I thought it was pretty well told myself," Daeveon says, and smiles at me. "So did the weird alien man ever come back and visit the couple?" Seven year old Samantha asks me. "Well," I say, "He was always considered a part of their family." I smile at the friendly old man sitting across from us. He smiles back at me, his eyes twinkling behind wire rimmed, square shaped glasses. He shakes his head and laughs, his white hair, speckled gray, swaying with the motion. "So, Grampa Al, did you like the story?"

William asks. "Well, I certainly did," he replies. "No one tells a better story than your grandma." I grin, and am thankful that Grampa gave Daeveon and me the gift of 5 lifetimes, so that we could see how the world turned out. He offered us immortality, but I don't think I could stand this world that long! However, I do believe I wouldn't mind being fourteen again, in the most adventurous year of my life...........

Note from Lois...

Yes, I know you’re wondering how Daeveon and I had grandchildren that didn’t have horrible mutilations and all this. Well, when Grampa said that we were the only couple left on Earth, he was quite wrong. There were a few other families, scattered across the world. He brought us all to the same land mass, and now we have our own little community. It’s now up to us, a

small village of about 30 people, to repopulate our world. Maybe, a thousand years from now, this will be a sacred script, as are many other documents created thousands of years ago.

8th grader
Morris Chapel, Tennessee
About The Author:
I enjoy reading, writing short stories, and going to church. God is a major part of my life. I do my best to live by him, and love doing so. May he bless you in all you do. Laura
The Outcast

As he sat in one of the chairs at a vacant table in the school cafeteria, eleven-year-old Billy Darwin spread the contents of the brown paper bag he had been carrying on the six-seat, round table and looked hungrily at his tuna-fish sandwich. He had not eaten breakfast on that rushed Monday morning, and now he was ready to eat just about anything. Billy was a four foot-six inch tall sixth grader at Fairview Middle School in Florence, Indiana. His sparkling, green eyes and freckled face complemented his red hair quite well. Billy had one older brother, John, who was a junior at the University of Indiana and the star pitcher for the Hoosiers, the university’s baseball team. Unlike his brother John, Billy was not much of an athlete; he could not throw a baseball more than fifty feet.

Billy had just taken the first bite of his sandwich when he was suddenly interrupted by four boys who crowded around behind him as he sat in his chair. Peter Harris and his three companions, Danny Thompson, Matt Garrish, and Josh Ingles walked over to his table. They constantly picked on Billy because he was too afraid of them to do anything about it.

“Well, look who we have here, boys; if it isn't Billy Darwin, himself," Peter taunted sarcastically. Peter Harris, like his three friends, was thirteen years old, in the eighth grade, and on the school's varsity football team. He was five foot-four inches tall and quite handsome with blond hair, attractive blue eyes, and a slight muscular build. Peter had only moved into the area three years previously from his hometown of Porterville, Indiana, but was already one of the most popular guys in the entire school. However, few people knew about his life at home.

"Hey, check out this healthy lunch: a tuna-fish sandwich, an apple, and a pint of milk!" Peter mocked. Much to the amusement of his friends, Peter then picked up Billy's carton of milk and poured its contents all over his tuna-fish sandwich.

“C-come on guys, l-leave me alone,” Billy stammered.

Peter smirked contentedly, “Oh, we’re not bothering you, are we fellas?”

Laughter was his only answer. The laughter of the four boys, however, caught the attention of the monitoring teacher, who approached the table.

“Billy, are these boys bothering you?” she asked.

“Oh, no Ma’am. We’re not bothering Billy here. We just wanted to make sure he was enjoying his lunch,” Matt stated in their defense.

“Billy, why is there milk all over your sandwich?” the teacher asked.

“I accidentally spilled my milk, Mrs. Parker,” Billy said, trying to cover up the nervousness in his voice.

Mrs. Parker directed her attention to the other four boys and instructed sternly, “You boys need to get back to your own table.”

“Yes Ma’am,” the four boys said in unison and casually walked away.

“You shouldn’t let those boys pick on you like that, Billy. You don’t deserve to be treated that way,” Mrs. Parker reprimanded.

Billy answered, “Yes, Ma’am.”

“Now if those boys ever start to tease you like that again, all you have to do is tell me, okay?” Mrs. Parker offered.

“Okay,” Billy answered softly.

“Now finish your lunch and I’ll see you later.” Mrs. Parker patted Billy on the back and walked away.

Billy wasn’t even paying attention in math class. He was too busy feeling sorry for himself. “I bet John never had anybody pick on him when he was in sixth grade,” Billy thought as he stared out the classroom window at the busy street with its passing cars and fast-paced pedestrians. “I wish I was more like John. Why do John and I have to be so different?”

Billy’s thoughts were suddenly interrupted when the teacher asked Billy to give the answer to the problem they were reviewing in the text book.

“I don’t know,” Billy answered, hoping the teacher would then ask someone else.

“Do you even know what problem we are reviewing, Billy?” the teacher asked.

“No Ma’am,” Billy answered hesitantly.

“When Billy finally got home, he closed the door, and slumped down onto the bed. He thought of all the bad things Peter had done to him the past three years since the Harris family had moved into the school district. He wished he was popular like many of the other kids at school. Why did he have to be an outcast?

After a few minutes, the door opened and Billy's mother entered the room.

Slowly and softly, she walked over and sat on the corner of Billy's bed.  Mrs. Darwin was a robust woman of about medium height in her late thirties.  Her slightly graying brown hair and the small wrinkles under her hazel eyes revealed the years of gaining wisdom and experience. Her warm gaze could soothe the most callous heart. Mrs. Darwin was someone Billy could always rely on.

The elder Darwin quietly asked, “Billy, are you feeling okay? You didn’t say hello or anything when you came home.”

“No, I’m not feeling okay. Mom, why did you and Dad have to have me, anyway? I wish I was never born,” Billy said, trying to hold back the tears. “I hate my life. I hate it! I’m so stupid and dumb. Why couldn’t I be smart and popular like John? He was never picked on or pushed around.

Why do John and I have to be so different?"

Mrs. Darwin embraced her son and held him tightly. (Billy was now sitting up and crying bitterly.) “Now you just stop that kind of talk right now.

You are not stupid, and you are not dumb. Do you think a stupid and dumb person would make A’s and B’s on his report card? You are a very intelligent person, and I would not trade you for anyone else in the world.”

She was now crying herself. “With your brother in college and your father dead, you are the only one who can keep me from feeling sorry for myself.”

Billy’s father had been a police officer for the city of Florence and was shot and killed two years earlier in a drug bust. He had died doing what he loved to do. Billy had always wanted to be a police officer just like his father when he grew up.

“I’m sorry, Mom. I didn't mean to hurt your feelings, and I know I'm not stupid. I’m sorry,” Billy sobbed.

They both just sat there and cried some more until Billy’s mother got up to go fix dinner. She paused at the door before announcing, “Oh, I forgot to tell you that a man that I went to high school with is in town on a business trip. We met at the supermarket today, and I invited him to join us for dinner tonight.”

Billy's mother, who was an assistant manager of a nearby supermarket, had immediately recognized her friend when she observed him asking an employee where to find a certain product. The man had not seemed disappointed, however, when the assistant manager, herself, informed him that the store did not carry that particular product.

“Aww, Mom, I don't want to have any visitors over today. The last time you had a man over, he kept referring to me as 'such a cute little child' and treated me like a toddler!” Billy complained. "I think I'll just stay in my room."

“Now, Billy,” Mrs. Darwin countered, "It would be impolite if you didn't eat with us. Besides, I think you're really going to like Tim."

"Okay, Mom. I guess so," Billy surrendered.

Around six o'clock, Tim Williamson pulled into the driveway in his BMW.

After parking and turning off the ignition, Mr. Williamson stepped out of his vehicle and strolled up to the front door. Tim stood six feet-one inch tall in his late thirties with short black hair capping a slender frame.

The sight glasses he wore gave him the appearance of sophistication. At first glance, a person could tell that this man afforded many of the comforts of life.

Mrs. Darwin, who had been peeking out through the window with the curtains drawn, quickly composed herself and, with as much of a casual gait as she could muster, went to answer the door. Before opening the door, though, she called to Billy, who was in his room, "Billy, Mr. Williamson is here."

Billy was still buttoning up his dress shirt when his mother announced their guest's arrival. By the time he walked into the living room, his mother and her friend were seated and in the middle of pleasant conversation. Billy took a seat on the couch next to his mother. Mr. Williamson sat in the easy chair across from them.

"Do you remember the time that Randy brought his pet frog to the freshman picnic and let it loose?" Mr. Williamson asked Billy's mother.

Mrs. Darwin broke out into uncontrollable laugher then, but still managed to reply between gasps for air, "Oh, yes! That frog hopped right into Mary's picnic basket. When she reached her hand in there to get another sandwich and pulled up that frog...." She was laughing so hard now that she couldn't finish her sentence.

Smiling, Mr. Williamson summed up her thoughts by commenting, "The look on her face was of sheer horror."

As the laughter quieted down, a solemn silence pervaded. Both Mrs. Darwin and Mr. Williamson were on the same thought track, but it was Billy's mother who made mention of it first.

"It was at that picnic that you and I met, Tim," Mrs. Darwin recalled.

Tim mused, "Yes, I remember, Susan. You were wearing that beautiful flower dress of yours, and I remember thinking how pretty you were." 

Mrs. Darwin blushed for a moment, and then proclaimed, "Oh, how rude of me!  Tim, this is my son, Billy. Billy, this is Tim Williamson."

"Hi, Billy," Tim greeted cheerily.

"Hello," Billy responded somewhat timidly.

Mrs. Darwin explained, "Tim and I dated for a time in high school, Billy." About three and a half years," Mr. Williamson added.

"Oh," Billy replied thoughtfully.

There was a short moment of silence before Billy's mother declared, "Well, dinner is on the table, so let's go eat it before it gets too cold."

The three enjoyed a delicious meal and an enjoyable evening together before Tim Williamson departed.

After their guest had left, Mrs. Darwin asked, "So, Billy, what did you think of Tim?"

"I thought he was very nice and friendly," Billy answered.

"See, I knew you'd like him when you had a chance to meet him," asserted the elder Darwin.

Billy, finding the opportunity to ask the question that had been on his mind, asked, "Mom, why did you and Mr. Williamson stop seeing each other?"

"Well, when we graduated from high school, we just both went our separate ways. I met your father soon afterwards," Mrs. Darwin answered.  Billy went to bed that night with a lot on his mind.

The next morning, Billy felt better. On the bus, he paid no attention to the crude remarks being cast at him by the three boys sitting in the two seats behind him. At lunch, the boys sat at the table next to his. Again, he tried to ignore the rude comments being said to him. In trying to ignore them, he was allowing anger to fill his body. By the time he was on the bus going home, he could not contain his anger any longer. When Peter started with his usual snide remarks, Billy jumped up, turned around, and tackled him. Peter was so surprised by Billy’s sudden reaction that he had no time to try to stop Billy from giving him several blows to the face. By the time his friends were able to drag Billy off him, blood was gushing from Peter’s nose.

“Hold him, guys,” Peter commanded his friends.

There was nothing Billy could do to stop Peter from repeatedly hitting him in the stomach. The bus driver came and broke it up, but not in time to save Billy from a considerable amount of pain.

The bus driver took all four boys back to school where the principal was waiting. Their mothers were called and informed that the boys were suspended for three days.

When Billy got into his mother’s car, he was harshly scolded. “Billy, I am very disappointed in you. I thought you knew better than to get into fights. Fighting is not the way to solve a problem. Fighting only makes the problem worse by getting you into a considerable amount of trouble. You could have been seriously hurt. You were lucky that the bus driver broke up the fight, or you could have been in a lot more pain than you’re in now.”

“I didn’t plan to get so upset. I tried to ignore them, but I just got angrier and angrier inside. The next thing I knew, I was on top of Peter, hitting him in the face. I even surprised myself,” Billy said sadly.

“Well, you had the right idea, but you went about it in the wrong way. You should have asked them nicely to leave you alone, and if they did not want to cooperate, then you could have found some way to stay away from them,” Mrs. Darwin suggested.

“How could I have stayed away from them? They sit in the seat behind me,” Billy said.

Mrs. Darwin answered, “Well, you could have asked the bus driver to move you to a different seat. Perhaps one near him so he could stop the boys from picking on you if they tried.”

“I never thought about that. That is a very good idea, and I will ask the bus driver to move me Monday, when I go back to school,” Billy promised. “I will also make sure to find Mrs. Parker when Peter and his friends try to pick on me during lunch. That way, maybe they will finally leave me alone,” Billy decided.

That evening, at the Harris's home, Mr. Harris, a man of medium height with a muscular build in his early forties, was looking for his son. As usual, Peter was in his room hiding from his father, because if his dad found him, he would mercilessly beat Peter. This was a common event, as Mr. Harris would often come home drunk or under the influence of drugs and abuse either Peter or his mother. On this particular occasion, Mrs. Harris was not at home, as she often did her grocery shopping on Tuesday evenings.  Consequently, Peter was left to face his father alone.

"Peter, where are you, boy?" Mr. Harris beckoned, his speech slurred. He took another swallow from the bottle he was carrying. "Come out! When I find you, I'm gonna beat your head in. I heard you was in a fight today; I'll teach you to fight. Where are you? Answer me!" he shouted.

Peter's father muttered a string of oaths and stumbled toward Peter's bedroom. Finding the door locked, he took a step back and hurled the bottle at it, which shattered upon impact with the door. Mr. Harris then began to pummel the door with his fists and yell obscenities.

"Go away, Dad," Peter squawked, shaking with fear. "Go away!"

"Open the door!" his father roared.

Peter shouted, "No, go away. Leave me alone!"

Mr. Harris, in his fury, rammed the door and broke it down. Peter shrieked and tried to escape his father, but Mr. Harris caught him by the arm and began to savagely beat his son. The neighbors heard the screams coming from the Harris house, just as they had many times before, but chose to ignore them as usual.

Monday, Billy was moved to the seat behind the driver. He was not bothered on the bus by the boys who were looking at him with hatred in their eyes.

At lunch, Peter sat in the seat across from him. Billy noticed his black eyes and bruised arms, but did not say anything.

“After school, meet me in the vacant lot two blocks down across the street.

I want to settle this once and for all. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll be there. If you tell a teacher or anyone else about this, I swear, I’ll kill you,” Peter threatened. He then got up and left.

Frightened, Billy did not know what to do. He knew he should tell Mrs. Parker about what had just happened, but he was too afraid of the possible consequences if he did. He decided that the only thing he could do was meet Peter in the vacant lot across the street after school.

Peter met his friends in the hall and told them about what he had just said to Billy. Chuckling, Peter remarked, "You should have seen the look on his face when I threatened him. He was scared stiff!"

The four boys laughed together for a moment, but as the laughing died down, Josh became uneasy. "You were just bluffing about killing him, right. I mean, you wouldn't really do something stupid, would you?" he asked.

There was a moment of silence as Peter's friends waited anxiously for Peter to reply. Slowly, a smile began to form on his face as Peter calmly stated, "Josh, you worry too much."

The subject was dropped abruptly when the four boys paused in front of the men's restroom. "Hey, guys, come in here a minute; I've got something to show you," Peter whispered.

When they went into the bathroom, Peter extracted two little plastic bags from his pocket. The transparent bags were about two inches by two inches in size. They contained a fine white powder.

"Wow, straight cocaine! Where did you get this stuff?" Matt asked bewildered.

Peter replied, "I found these in my old man's dresser. He'll still have a hangover from last night and won't even miss them."

While the other three boys were snorting cocaine, Josh turned to walk out the door. "You guys are stupid," he muttered.

"Hey! Where do you think you're going?" Peter demanded.

Josh looked Peter in the face and stated, "Man, I don't want to have anything to do with your junk. This time you've gone too far! I was okay with teasing Billy and making fun of him, but I can see it in your face, you really want to kill him. Now you plan on getting high on cocaine and messing yourself up. Well, you can just leave me out." Josh started to leave, but then paused, turned around, and added, "Oh, and by the way, don't expect me to believe you got those bruises from falling off your bike again." He then stormed out, leaving the other boys to stare after him in surprise.

"We don't need him, anyway," Peter scowled and took a sniff of cocaine.

A few minutes later, Peter and Matt strolled out of the bathroom headed toward their next class. Danny had remained in the bathroom complaining of nauseousness. He had not told his friends, though, about the blood streaming from his nose. The janitor would find him an hour later sprawled on the floor of one of the stalls in a mixed pool of blood and vomit. He had died due to an accidental overdose of cocaine. However, none of the students would hear of the incident until the following day.

For the rest of the afternoon, Billy could think of nothing else except what might happen after school. When the final bell rang, Billy’s heart was racing. He walked over to the vacant lot, and, to his surprise, there were about thirty students there, including Peter and Matt. Matt had told one of his friends, and news of the fight spread like wildfire.

“Are you ready to suffer?” Peter asked, but got no answer in return. Both boys dropped their bookbags and started toward one another.

“I don’t want to fight you, Peter,” Billy admitted.

“Shut up and fight, punk,” was Peter’s only reply.

Peter then swung at Billy, but Billy was able to duck in time. Billy was able to dodge a few more punches before he caught one on the chin. After staggering backward momentarily, he stood erect once again and awaited more blows.

Peter said angrily, “Come on wimp, fight. Fight me, you coward!”

When Billy did nothing, Peter pulled out a knife and charged Billy. A chorus of gasps erupted from the crowd, but they were too stunned to do anything. Billy sidestepped and dodged the charging Peter. Peter then lost his balance and stumbled into the street. Unfortunately, he stumbled right into the pathway of an oncoming school bus. Billy, acting quickly, ran and pushed Peter out of the way, but did not have enough time to save himself. The bus, traveling approximately forty-five miles per hour, slammed on its brakes, but it was too late. Billy was hit by the school bus and dragged twenty feet across the asphalt. The crowd ran over to where the lifeless body of Billy Darwin was. The completely amazed Peter only sat on the side of the road staring blankly at the bus. Finally, realization set in, and an ashamed Peter sat weeping bitterly.

Billy was sent to the Merker County General Hospital in a coma. He had sustained a fractured skull as well as multiple broken bones, including a severed spinal cord. The news of Billy’s incident was spread by the media, and a total of 536 get well cards were received. Many people came to visit Billy, including Peter Harris and his father.

While sitting in the waiting room, Peter and his father had the opportunity to talk things over, something they had not done in a long time.

Mr. Harris began, "Peter, I know I haven't exactly been a fatherly figure to you. I guess I was too anxious to escape my own problems through alcohol and drugs to help you through your problems. In reality, I suppose I only made our problems all the worse."

"Dad . . . ," Peter started, but Mr. Harris would not stop until he had said what he needed to say.

"I owe you many apologies, Peter," he interrupted. "There are so many things that I have done wrong. One of them is not showing you how much I care about you. I'm just sorry it took almost losing you for me to realize how much I really do care, son. How can I ever make up for all my wrongs as a father?"

As tears began to roll down Peter's cheeks, he answered simply, "You can start by just saying that you love me."

"Oh Peter, I do love you, and I promise that from now on I'm going to be the loving parent you need me to be," Mr. Harris resolved.

"I love you too, Dad," Peter replied.

Mr. Harris embraced his son, and they wept together. Peter's father promised to get help for his alcohol and drug addictions, and Peter vowed to never do drugs again. They were a family once more. There were changes to be made, but things would be different from now on.

Susan Darwin and Tim Williamson were also in the waiting room. Tim was there to comfort Billy’s mother through this time of adversity.

“Susan, I’ve been thinking,” Tim stated softly. “I never should have let you go after we graduated. I should have kept in touch or something. All these years, I’ve regretted my decision to not pursue you. Now look at me, I’m a thirty nine year old man who never married. The truth, Susan, is that I still love you. I’ve loved you since high school, but this time, I don’t want to let you go. I want to start seeing you again.”

There was a momentary pause before Susan replied, “I had wanted you to come after me, Tim. I was heart-broken when I did not hear from you again. I married and had children, but I’ve always missed you. Although we both have changed a lot over the years, I think we can still work things out between us. I know Billy would want that.”

Tim Williamson and Susan Darwin would later marry. However, Billy would never get to enjoy having another dad, and the Harris family would not be able to thank the person responsible for bringing their home back together again.

Billy Darwin died four days later, having never recovered from his coma.

There were more than three hundred people at his funeral. Billy had more friends at his death than he had ever had in his entire lifetime. A plaque in the name of Billy Darwin was placed in the trophy case of Fairview Middle School.

It read:

This plaque is presented in memory of Billy Darwin. Through his actions, he saved the life of a fellow student and set an example for all to follow. He gave his own life that another might live. He felt no hatred. He only felt love for those who hated him. If there were only more like Billy Darwin, this nation would be on the way to being what it used to be, a great nation.
Let us all follow the example set for us by the late Billy Darwin.

William J. Porter
Governor of Indiana

9th grader
Villa Rica, Georgia
About the author of "The Outcast". This story is directed at the violence occuring each and every day in our local schools. ONLY we can effectively bring an end to it by living out the "Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you". In other words, practice loving, not loathing; helping, not hurting; encouraging, not discouraging; and building up rather than tearing down those we come in contact with every day.
And The Rain Falls...

He stood there, a dark and lonely figure in an already soaking-wet long overcoat. As more rain heaved from the gloomy gray sky he raised his handsome face to the beam of the non-existent sunlight rays. But the only greeting he received was the depressing view of an empty, wet street. He pulled his hat to a lower angle and adjusted his tie.

"As if this could get any worse" he mumbled under his breath. Minutes passed and there was still no visible sign of life anywhere. He checked his watch and shot a glance at the bus schedule posted on the yellow pole located 4 feet to his left. "Public Transportation," He muttered angrily after some time "If this is the cost to preventing pollution, I can live with the idea of globalwarming"

He paced back and forth for some time. As on cue, just as the unpleasant thoughts and memories began creeping back into his mind the bus arrived like a dusty unkempt savior.  

He stepped onboard and wrinkled his nose at the musty smell inside. He paid his fare to the driver and chose a seat in the back near a window. After Sitting down and looking out the dirty stained window for a minute he begun to observe his surroundings. The bus was almost empty excluding himself and about 7 other passengers. He wasn’t surprised. The long, tiring voyage in a dusty old bus to a remote place like Smithy Falls didn’t appeal to many.

Once again he asked himself the same question he pondered over while making the decision to whether to make the trip at all.

"What are you doing?" he thought.  "Just what on earth do you think your doing Chris?" He asked himself. "I'm going to Smithy Falls" He answered himself. "I'm going back home"

"It is not your home anymore!" the voice in his head cried out to him "You don’t belong there anymore!"

Chris shook his head as if to clear his head. "Shut up just shut up!" He thought forcefully. "I want to go back home, I am going back home and you can't stop me."

" You’re a coward" the voice mocked. "You're a miserable coward!" it accused.

"It's because of her…isn't it?"

Chris shook his head violently. "I don’t want to listen! Shut up!"

"Oh but you must listen, you know that Chris" His mind taunted.

"No!" Chris yelled. Realizing too late that he spoke out loud from the stares of his fellow passengers. He closed his eyes.  "Please, don’t" he pleaded. "Don't let me remember" he begged his mind.

Despite his efforts to block out the painful memories, they came. One by one like one of those old 18mm movies. Pictures in his head. He was driving; she sat beside him in the car all smiles and laughter. They were going on their first vacation together. Catherine. His only love, she was his life.

The pain came into his head again. The throbbing headache that kept him
awake for so many nights since the accident.  The accident, that he remembered more clearly. The bakery truck, turning so swiftly and unexpectedly. He tried to stop. He couldn’t. 

He remembered the rest in a blur, The screams and the sound of crushing metal. Then the ambulance wails. Then there was the Doctor telling him. Telling him the truth about her. About Catherine. "She'll never walk again, neither will she talk or communicate in any way. She's a vegetable sir. I'm sorry. We did all we could.

He winced at the memory. The rest was still unclear to him. He didn’t
remember it all yet. He didn’t want to either. That’s why he was running
back home, like a coward.

"Coward, Coward,Coward." The voice in his head taunted.

He ignored it.

Chris looked out the stained window and sighed as he saw the approaching
green fields of the farms. "I'm almost there," he thought.


"I'm almost home…"

8th grader
Ontario, Canada

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