Poetry Essay/Prose/book reviews Short Story

Adolescence ignites a multitude of problems for any and every child that goes through their own individual growing process.  Many of these problems are often ignored, though, by the people closest to them, even their friends and family.  And so many of these problems are unknown.  Loneliness festers into a problem if it is injected into one's childhood or adolescence, even though it is not always intentional.  A desire to be loved and wanted can lead to obsession and violence.  Teenagers, all teenagers, deal with so many negative societal problems today.  It is vitally important to have a point of expression, whether it be family, friends, or artistry.  I can say this because I have lived through a personal experience that has given me a new reason to live, even though I lost my dearest friend in the world in the process.  He was my bud, my pal, my confidant, my confessional, and my friend, most of all.  It is one of the hardest things to find a true friend, one who you can tell anything and everything, trust unconditionally, and lay your life down for.  This is my dedication, my dedication to a friend.

A clear, humid sky in mid-July allowed for the radiance of the summer sun to beam with complete lack of mercy for whomever its extensions fell upon.  This was the time I began to enjoy the feeling of not being tied down by school and parents and responsibility.  I remember the times well.  1999 was an epiphany in my personal monologue.  The first day of July always had some significant underlying meaning that set my mind at ease when I knew it had come. 
There was something about today, though.  This day, in particular, had stuck in my mind, unlike many days that I can remember.  I sat on my front porch as my neighbor across our pothole-laden street washed his rusting '76 Ford Mustang.  That was Mr. Crenshaw.  He was a simple guy, but I hated him with a passion and always will for what he had done.  There was something there, something that could have been symbolized by the washing of that car, and that thin coat of pewter paint.  He had been a pilot in the U.S. Air Force before meeting the beautiful Mrs. Crenshaw I knew and loved.  The Mrs. Crenshaw that baked cookies, listened to Neil Diamond, and was content with life in the middle of nowhere.  I had lived in Iowa all of my life.  When I went to places in other parts of the country, I was surprised at how different life was, even in the suburbs I had visited.  I was accustomed to that laid back, friendly, "everybody knows everybody" kind of atmosphere that Jefferson, Iowa had supplanted in my mind.  I knew them so well because my best friend was their dear son, Johnny.  He had moved here with his family almost four years ago, when he was twelve, and I had just turned thirteen.  I did not know then that the day I met little Johnny that it would be the pivotal point in my life it was.
My name is R. J. Thompson.  I'm an average kid, with average dreams.  When I was young, I wanted to be a policeman, then a fireman, then a doctor, then a circus trainer, and then I just realized I'd know eventually so I lost interest.  I am seventeen, but I act much younger.  I love to play practical jokes, build things with leaves I rake in my backyard, and I make little distorted faces in my dinnertime mashed potatoes.  Chances are I'll always be a little kid at heart.  I have a pretty loving family, with most of them scattered all over.  My mother and father got married a couple years before I was born, and split up before I got to a year old.  I always just accepted that this was the way it was and was always going to be.  I never had the urge to ask why, or what, or how anything went wrong.  I had no reason to.  I live with my father in my house; it's my own certified bachelor pad.  He really doesn't care about the petty things that most parents go crazy over.  I respect him more than anyone.  He is a recovering alcoholic; he told me that he began drinking after he got the divorce.  I believe that I can tell him anything, even though I really don't tell him much.  To tell the truth, I really do not know that much about my mother, though.  I have only met her a few times.  I've been told that she had traveled all around the country, fell in love, and got married to somebody in Nevada.  Like I said before, I just don't ask much about those kind of things.  Other than that, I do pretty good in school, I have a good group of friends, and I do some sports.  I'm athletic; I am over six feet tall, I work out, and I run every morning.  Nevertheless, when I met Johnny Crenshaw for the first time, and this tiny, beady-eyed, timid boy stepped out of the moving van across the street, I knew there something there that could not be explained. 

It was the first day of the real summer, the day after school got out for the term.  I was sitting on my front porch, eyeing the faded paint and the notches in the oak.  There were so many memories that this porch harbored in its age.  With a weathered football in hand, I first saw it.  It was a light blue moving van, obviously not from around here.  From a distance, I could see a man in a company hat and suit.  I figured he was the moving man.  Soon after, the large van screeched to a sudden halt in front of the house across the street.  The tinted gray house had been on sale for almost a year then.  The "FOR SALE" sign had accumulated a significant amount of dirt, mud, and salt stains from the months before.
I had almost hoped that the house would stay empty forever.  I remembered the neighbors that had inhabited the house before.  Before the house had been put up for sale, an old couple had lived there.  I never even knew who they were.  I just knew that the old lady hated just about everything, and the man hated her.  It was more than obvious that they never got along well. They both died within a week of each other, and the house was just a remnant of what had been there before. 
Anyway, the van pulled up to the curb almost as stealthily as a carrier pigeon.  Then, out stepped the moving man, a gray-haired and middle-aged man, a younger woman who had to be his wife, and this short black-haired kid.  They all saw me eyeing the decals on the bed of the van.  It read "HARRY'S MOVING COMPANY" on the scratched and dirtied sticker.  Immediately, the man and woman went to the front door and trounced inside.  It had apparently been a long trip for the both of them.  The boy, however, had remained outside, and he sat on the curb with his head between his legs.  He looked up, and I caught a glimpse of him for the first time.  He was a pale little boy with unmistakably wide eyes.  His large, expressive eyes startled me at first.  I could feel the weight of his stare all the way across the street.  A furrowed brow made him look much older than his body accented.  Other than that, he was everything that you stereotyped a pre-teenager to be.  He was fairly short, not very muscular, the personification of timidity, and fearful of all things new.  It was only a few seconds, but it seemed to last for a year and beyond.  He stood up suddenly, then turned, and walked almost troubledly into the house.  These people were now instilled in my memory as my neighbors across the street.  I sat there on my porch for minutes after, just thinking and contemplating about the possibilities that a new set of people hold.  Differences can be easily mistaken as similarities.

It was not until the following day that I finally met the boy; however, I had visions about him the night before, only I did not know it was him then. 
That night, I had dreamt that someone had come up to my front door and knocked with a gentility that only a boy of small stature could.  I then answered the knock in a drunk awakening from the deepness of sleep.  I casually opened the wooden door to a stoic body that held no emotion, and was in no position to receive any.  In a sudden surge, the figure that appeared to be a boy thrust out his hand.  He held a letter that was burnt at the bottom edge.  The perforated edge of the paper suggested that someone had tried to destroy what was written.  I stood in the doorway, stupefied and paralyzed.  I remember taking the letter, seeming to be more afraid of it rather than the anonymous figure.  Looking down, I realized that I could not see what was written on the paper.  At first, all I saw was a name at the bottom.  It said Johnny.  The handwriting suggested that the author was a little older.  The detail and the precision of the name frightened me even more.  And then, I noticed a small spot in the top right corner of the paper.  I focused on the spot and analyzed it.  When I realized it was blood, I dropped the paper onto the softened floor.  I bent to retrieve it, and found the figure was gone.  I looked back down on the floor, and touched it slightly with my fingertips.  It was carpet, only I knew that my front door opened into the hardwood of out living room.  I turned and fell into a black oblivion.
I then awoke in a feverish sweat.
Like I said, I woke up the next the morning as I always do.  I rolled out of bed and got my toothbrush ready for the morning ritual that I had groomed all by myself:  get up, brush my teeth, get out my clothes, shower, dry off, turn on the TV in my room, get dressed, and lay back for a minute.  I sat down at the breakfast table in the presence of my father.  He greeted me as always, and I replied with my mechanical "Mornin' dad. See ya later," response.  I ran outside with a bagel in my mouth, ready to hop on my bike.  Me and my friends always played a game of ball every summer Saturday ever since we were real young at the park a couple blocks down.  It had become my Saturday tradition.  Some of the old folks would actually come down and watch us sometimes.  I was the athlete of the group.  I loved to pretend I was John Elway on a last-minute fourth quarter comeback to win it all for my team.  Dreams can spur the most incredible, yet most improbable realities in a person.
I bolted out of my house in a mad dash for my ageless bicycle.  At that time, that bike was almost as old as I was.  I had taken care of it well, though, and it looked nearly brand new, except for being a little out of date.  I didn't care though; I loved that bike.  Thirteen-year-olds don't prioritize, they merely do whatever they seem fit and satisfy their own situations.  Today was different, though.  Much different.  It felt somber, yet happy at the same time.  And at that moment, I looked up and saw the little boy across the street.  Time stopped and looked with me.
There he was.  A lonely monolith decorating the ground and the sky all at once.  I straightened up my back, and had begun to walk towards the lonely figure before me.  He stood firmly where he was, although flinching and appearing to be nervous by my presence.  I said hello with a hint of dread myself.  The boy said nothing.
"My name's R. J. Thompson."  Still no reply.  He looked down at the road and his beat up sneakers.  "Where you from?"  Nothing.  He didn't even look up.  Then it came to me.
"Is your name Johnny?" I asked.
His head raised up slowly.  It was evident that he did not understand how I knew.
"Yeah.....my name's Johnny Crenshaw," he said in such a hollow, timid voice that I almost did not hear him.  "How did you know my name?"
"Lucky guess, I suppose," I replied with a fearful laugh under my breath.  Johnny stood there bewildered, probably both of me knowing his name and of my obvious dread.  I had just noticed that I was shaking very noticeably.  What did this mean?  Thirteen-year-olds cannot comprehend things of great magnitude.
"So....."  I was searching for something to say.  "Where are you from?"
"I-I-I'm from New York City," he said, stuttering.  He seemed to nervous beyond control.  I didn't know what to say.
"Are you okay?  You look like you're sick."  He was turning extremely pale.  Before he had a chance to answer I made my break for life again.  "Well I gotta go.  See you later."
I walked, almost ran, to my bike, still in the driveway.  I started up and gave him one last glance.  I'm still not sure to this day, but I think that was the makings of a partial smile on his face.  The seed for friendship had been planted.

I returned back to my house after the game about three hours later.  A couple touchdowns had taken my mind off of what had happened before I had left.  The sun had just begun to regress over the lowered horizon.  It seemed a little early for the sun to begin setting at four in the afternoon.  Right then, little Johnny opened the door to his new home, and to the rest of the world.  He seemed much more relaxed than before.  Perhaps a few kind words was all he needed.
He stepped down his walk in my direction with a small smile on his face.  There was a definite color in his complexion now.  His step seemed lighter and more at ease.  As he approached, he began to make conversation.  "Hi R. J.  How's it going?"  He was unbelievably more self-assured now.  Something had happened in the hours I had been gone.
"I'm okay, I guess," I said, stunned by this other boy that was so very different than the one that I had met before.  He was casual and lively.
"You wanna come inside my house and see some of my stuff?"
"Uh....sure."  It was all so sudden and so abrupt that it all really never hit me as the strange thing that it seems to me now.
"Cool.  Come on."  He led the way toward the house that I knew so little about, yet I knew so much.  The cobblestone pathway had become embedded into the earth by years of being walked, trampled, and stamped upon.  The screen door was the only thing of the house I was really familiar with.  I had seen it opened so many times, closed so many times, slammed so many times.  I entered the house cautiously.  It smelled of home cooked food and fresh flowers.  The smell was invigorating.  I noticed Mr. Crenshaw for the first time sitting in an old brown leather recliner.  We walked right past the front room where he was sitting in tranquility; however, Johnny just walked right past without introducing me to him.  It probably should not have bothered me as much as it did, but I nearly halted dead in step and asked why.  I stopped myself in the process, though.  His father actually did not even notice me; he did not even look up.  That bothered me even more.  Johnny ran up the carpe!
ted steps with me following in pursuit.  At the top of the stairwell was a closed door.  There was a sign on a sheet of plain paper on the doorway.  On the paper was a message.  It appeared to be made in haste of a tender moment.  The note said "Do Not DISTURB."  I just shook it off.  I did not feel it had any implications toward anything much different than what I had already experienced in the minute that I had been in the house.  We entered the room, and he ducked behind the door as I walked in.  As soon as I was inside, he shut the door as quickly as he could.  This startled me, and I almost tripped over what looked like a T-shirt in the middle of the floor. 
"Why'd you do that?!" I exclaimed. 
"Sorry 'bout that.  Uh.....just having some fun."
"Oh."  I felt intimidated by this little kid.  Felt out of place.  Felt like I was in the middle of some type of crossfire.  I glanced quickly around the room.  There was a bed, a small television on a bookstand, a stereo on the floor, a waste basket, a couple of clothes dressers, a mirror, and about seven or eight boxes.  Aside from that, the room was completely empty.  A small window, not even large enough for someone Johnny's size to squeeze through, rested on the north wall.  The closet was open.  It was a compact, little closet with no inhabitants resting on its fragile rod.  This image will forever be forged in my memory, an image of emptiness and solemnity within a ten by twelve foot space.

It all was as if the next couple hours were some unattainable and unimaginable dream.  I got to know the real Johnny Crenshaw, even though I didn't know any Johnny Crenshaw until really about six hours before.  He told me some of his deepest fears, secrets, and fallacies.  It was as if he had absolutely no one to talk to about these problems except the boy across the street that he had just met a short time ago.  As it turns out, he was one of the most insightful people I have ever met, even to this day. 

  After he lurched away from the recently slammed door,  he sat down on the cold hardwood floor.  He said that I could sit on the bed.  I bent over slowly and rested on the spring-coiled mattress that creaked with a penetrating screech that sent a jolt down my spine.  Then, he began to gently open the top of one of the old cardboard boxes on the floor.  Inside, there was something wrapped in what looked like plastic wrap.  Johnny retrieved this from the container and had begun the process of unraveling the wrapping that covered whatever was held inside.  Eventually, he had uncovered the object and presented it to me, almost exactly the way that the person in my dream had handed me the petrifying piece of paper.  It was a book, with a dark red hardcover and golden inscription.  Glancing quickly at the golden lettering, I read the words aloud in my head:  TO JOHN A. CRENSHAW-FOR NOW AND FOR ALWAYS -- FROM YOUR LOVING GRANDPARENTS.  He quickly discarded of the wrapping in the n!
earby waste basket, and he began to explain about the book which I held in my hands.  It turned out to be a journal that he had kept for many years before he had moved here.  He said it was all right to read the first page.  I do not exactly remember the entire text, but I remember its meaning more than words can say.
I read it very quickly at first, not knowing what it meant.  After I had skimmed through the writing the first time, I looked back up at him, and him sitting back against the aging bed he had.  I glanced back down at the writing and read it again, this time more carefully.  It told of times being afraid of being alone, terribly alone.  I learned that his parents, especially his father, had neglected him from an early age, and he had not acknowledged the presence of even his own son.  It said that he had cried himself to sleep every night.  Then the page broke.  I once again looked up.  Johnny was staring at me, and at my reaction.  I did not understand what could possibly be running through his mind.  It was difficult for me to understand, as a mere thirteen-year-old, what life was for him. 
He began to explain what he wanted me to know about him.  For what seemed like weeks on end, I listened intently.  I had become his outlet to his painful and troubling world.  A world of emotional trauma and revelation had been dumped in my lap.  Johnny told me stories of his father abusing him with words and in violence.  He told me that he had witnessed his father beat his mother relentlessly on multiple occasions.  He also told me that his father was a terrible alcoholic, and many times he would come home and go on one of his drunken rampages. He said that he did not have many friends where he had grown up.  He constantly broke eye contact with me and had obvious trouble carrying on a conversation.  I almost had to coerce him into continuing what he had already begun telling me.  I also learned that he frequently ran away to his grandparents' house on 42nd and 6th.  Growing up in Brooklyn, he apparently was used to the vastness of a city like New York.  That house was his refuge, his refuge from all that he could not understand and did not want to comprehend.  He had been sent to a psychologist for an anxiety disorder.  His interactions with people in his old neighborhood had been callously limited.  At the end of his tragic story came a soft flow of tears.  I felt more helpless than I could have ever imagined.  I did not understand, and I do not think I would have even been capable of it at that point in my life.  There was a roll of paper towels on the floor; I tore off a couple of sheets and handed them to Johnny.  At that point I knew it was my time to go. 
"....Yeah," he finally wrenched.  He sniffed disgustedly at his blatant showing of weakness.
"I have to go.  Are you gonna be okay?  For tonight?"
"I'll be good," he replied lifelessly.  "I just don't like havin' other people see me like this.  That's all."
"Well, I'll see ya tomorrow," I managed to free from my psyche.  I meant what I said.
I left the room carefully and walked sullenly down the stairs that I had so soon forgotten.  His father was no longer there when I reached the bottom of the stairwell.  The paper rested peacefully on that brown leather recliner.  I left the house in such a mechanical way that it almost seemed reluctant.  I was thirteen years old.  Forgive me for being a child.  I had made a new friend that day.

Over the rest of the summer, I had gotten to know Johnny Crenshaw better than just about anyone I have ever known.  He turned thirteen like me a few weeks after we had met for the first time.  I invited him to come to the weekly football games that my friends from school and I had at the local park.  He fit in with the group unimaginably well, although it was probably due to the fact that I had introduced Johnny to the rest of them.  I was the unannounced leader of the group, and there were few guys that would speak out against my judgment.  He was accepted with nearly open arms from the moment that he was exhibited for all the world to see. 

For the next three years, Johnny and me became best friends.  He was in most of my classes in junior high, and we were always the guys who sat in the back of class and would laugh at each other's dumb jokes just to annoy our least favorite teacher.  He had a considerable growth spurt, and he grew nearly the same size as me by the time we were old enough to try out for the freshman football team.  I was the starting quarterback, with Johnny as my wide receiver.  In fact, most of my friends who I had played with during those early years were on the team with us.  I got to know Mrs. Crenshaw in a familiar way as well.  She had become a mother figure in my eyes.  Occasionally,  I would notice that she would have a noticeable cut or bruise, and sometimes I even noticed a black eye.  She would shrug it off, saying that she fell or that she had an accident in the backyard.  I knew better though.  Johnny always simply confirmed what I already knew to be true.  I told him that it wa!
s not right for his father to be able to do this to his own family.  Johnny just told me that it was none of my business, though.  Looking back, I wish I had done something, anything.  I left well enough alone at the time, though. 
Johnny always got better grades than I did.  To this day, I still don't know how he did it, but he always managed to keep an A in every class.  Over time, he showed me some stories that he had written since he had come to Iowa years ago.  I was impressed with how well he could write.  Him and I had English class together ever since eighth grade, and he was always extremely well-tuned in there.  In every sense, Johnny was a standout academically.  Our football team also went to the state championship game when we played in ninth grade.  We lost, but I had the time of my life anyway.  I threw two touchdowns to Johnny in that game.  It was something I will truly never forget. 
At around that time, I began to remember when I first met Johnny.  That skinny little kid that I got to know so well in such a short period of time.  I remembered that first night more than anything.  I never speak of it with Johnny, but I remember it all too well.  I remembered the faint tears.  I remembered the part about his fear and his pain.  I remembered that he had cried himself to sleep as a mere child.  I remembered the part about his father's alcoholism.  I remembered the talk of his father verbally and physically abusing him.  And most importantly, I remembered the part about the anxiety disorder.  I did not know what it was about, so I just plain asked Johnny.  He said that all of the things that he had explained to me before had caused him some severe internal damage at a very early age.  He had apparently worked long and hard to correct the problem. 
His anxiety problem made it difficult for him, at a very early age, to be around people in any facet that most people take for granted.  If he would even be around someone else, he would break into a panic.  He said he believed it was because of his family, ultimately his father.  "That was then, this is now" was the response I received whenever I spoke of it.  His father had caused the problem, and then once he had noticed the problem, had even criticized Johnny to a traumatic point. I rarely asked, but I worried about him.  It was evident that he did not like to talk about it.  He looked normal, but at times I could sense the behavior patterns of a timid twelve-year-old boy.  And to think, all of his problems, as he told me himself, had stemmed from his own family. 
Then came eleventh grade, and our junior year. 

It was June of my junior year.  Me and Johnny had been getting geared up for the great summer we had to expect.  We both had our drivers licenses and we both had our little girlfriends on the side.  It was all set for the next three months:  eat, sleep, and party.  Johnny and I had gotten jobs at a local restaurant, though, so that probably should of gone on the list too.  We were supposed to start on the first day of summer break.  It was the fourth of June at that time, and that's when I first noticed what would eventually become more than evident. 

The fourth of June was on a Wednesday.  I hated Wednesdays.  The first thing I remember from that day was that Johnny did not show up to school.  I just figured he was sick or something.  I was busy after school, so I didn't think about calling to see how he was doing.  Then, the next day, he wasn't at school again.  Right after school, I went to Johnny's house to see what was going on.  I pushed the doorbell.  They had just put in one of those with the lighted button.  The door suddenly opened, and Mr. Crenshaw stood at the doorway.  He was obviously displeased about something.  I stepped back a little. 
"What do you want?!"  He was angry for some reason.  He stood there and vehemently asked again.  "What do you want?!"
"Is...uh...Johnny here?"
"Go back home!!"  He slammed the door in my stunned face.  I knew the man to have a terrible temper, but I would have never expected that.  I looked up at Johnny's window from just outside the house.  I could see a dim light from inside there.  I turned away and walked back to my house.  It stood there, solitary.

Over the next week, Johnny did not show up to school at all.  I tried calling the house several times within then.  Every time, there was either no answer or his father telling me to leave him alone.  I attempted to visit many times also, and I was greeted with the same response as before.  What was going on?  Here it was, the fourteenth of June.  There were only ten days of school left.  I did not show up to my football game on that Saturday.  I sat on my bed and stared out of my bedroom window at Johnny's window across the street.  Every once in a while, the dim light inside the room would flicker on and off.  I sat there and gazed helplessly.  Where was my friend?  Why was he in there?  I knew he was in there for some reason. 
That night, I had a dream.  A surging, painful dream.  I dreamt that I was in the middle of the street between Johnny's house and mine.  I was just standing out there for some godforsaken reason.  Anyway, an unknown figure walked out of Johnny's house and approached me very stealthily.  I could not make out the face, even when it was "face" to face with me.  I remember that it resembled somebody familiar, but I could not make it out.  Then, the figure thrust out a piece of paper with some writing on it.  I reached and retrieved the paper hesitantly.  I examined the text.  It was a letter of some sort.  I could only make out the first part:

Dear R. J.,
I have been told many times that time mends all wounds.  Perhaps if I had been given a different set of circumstances it would be different.  I must say I am proud of my accomplishments-academically, athletically, and especially personally.  You have been my best friend through the good and bad times.

That was all I could read; the rest was blurred.  The bottom of the paper appeared to be slightly burnt, perhaps hinting that there had been an attempt to destroy it.  I noticed a name printed at the bottom of the letter.
My eyes widened as I read Johnny at the end of the letter.  The letter was from Johnny.  I looked even more carefully and noticed something else at the top right corner of the paper.  I squinted and half gasped.  It was a drop of blood.  I dropped the letter onto the street, only it didn't seem right.  I touched the street and it was soft, like carpeting.  When I finally looked up again, the anonymous figure was gone.
I awoke covered in sweat and the feeling of warm tears on my cheeks.

The next day, Sunday, the fifteenth of June, I did not go to church with my dad like I usually did.   I told him I was sick and he said to rest.  I did just that.  I laid in bed and stared at the pure white ceiling.  After a few minutes, I remembered the dream.  I remembered every intricate detail.  Furthermore, something was even more unsettling.  The dream had felt familiar.  And that was when I truly remembered everything for the first time.  I remembered how I had nearly exactly the same dream almost four years ago, with the stranger at my front door.  I went to go call Johnny. 
I ran downstairs to get the cordless phone off of its hook.  I hit the buttons in a trance-like motion.  The phone rang one time....two times....three....four....and then I heard Johnny's voice. 
"Hello," he said in a hushed whisper.  It was 8:30 in the morning.  He sounded extremely awake, though. 
"Johnny!  You're there!  You don't know how bad I've been freakin' out 'bout you, man.  How come you ain't been at school?  How come you haven't been out lately?  How come your dad's acting like such an asshole?!  How come..."  I was ranting and raving uncontrollably; however, I got cut off by Johnny's voice before I had finished.
"I'm in trouble R. J. ......."  He paused for what seemed like an eternity.  "I confronted my dad about his drinking and everything that he's been doin' lately.  He blew up, man.  He got up and started smashing things and beat the hell out of me.  I just tried to protect myself.  My mom was there and she got some too.  He threatened to kill me if I said another thing about it.  Whenever he's been home, I have made sure to stay in my room.  He told me not to go to school or I'd be sorry for some reason.  My anxiety problem's gotten much worse.  I don't know what to do..."  He ended abruptly.
"Are you serious?!"  My voice trailed.  I was paralyzed with fear.
"Whatever you do don't come over and try and help me," he said.
"What?!  Why not?!  This is serious, man!  I'm gonna kill him dammit!"  I could hardly control myself.
"R. J., DON'T!!  I'm dead serious, don't do anything!"  He yelled in a whisper.  I realized I was truly yelling and got control of myself.
"What do I do?"
"Don't do anything, R. J.  Nothing."
I slammed the phone on the hook.  I was disgusted and angered beyond belief.  At his father for being who he was.  And at Johnny.  Why?  Why didn't he want help?
I went back up to my room and slammed the door in sheer anger.  I stared out of the window towards Johnny's window; I couldn't stop because of my worry, because of my anger.  I stayed in bed for the rest of the day.

I had another dream that night.  I was at the door of Johnny's house.  I felt mortified beyond belief, yet I still stood there, entranced.  Once again, a strange figure appeared in front of me.  The front door of Johnny's house had been opened, apparently by the figure inside.  The figure was the same as the other times-small in stature and petrified even though I could not see the face.  This "person" was shaking noticeably.  Once again, the figure thrust out its fragile hand.  There was a piece of paper in the palm.  Once again, the paper looked as if it had been burnt slightly at the bottom.  I took the paper as if it had never happened before.  Subconsciously, I believe that I knew what was to come, yet I was still surprised in the end.  I glanced carefully at the paper, and again it was a letter.  I noticed, though, that I could now read more of the letter than before.  It read:

Dear R. J.,
I have been told many times that time mends all wounds.  Perhaps if I had been given a different set of circumstances it would be different.  I must say I am proud of my accomplishments-academically, athletically, and especially personally.  You have been my best friend through the good and bad times.  I still remember the day we met for the first time.  I remember being greeted by this kid that had no idea who I was.  You took a chance on getting to know me, and I appreciate it more than you will ever know.  The night that I shared my problems with you was a pivotal point in my life. 

The rest was a continual blur of space.  I noticed the name printed at the bottom--Johnny.  This was Johnny's letter again.  I began to think about the name.  I had never thought about Johnny having anything to do with the figure that had stood before me those few times.  I looked up and found the figure still standing in its docile position at the front door.  I again looked at the face, and studied it.  It looked a little like Johnny.  Glancing back down at the letter, I noticed the drop of blood in the corner of the paper again and mishandled it again.  As I retrieved the paper, I once again touched the ground.  I was standing on Johnny's front porch, that stone porch I took for granted.  I touched the step; again it was soft, like indoor carpeting.  Head back up, no one there, pitch black.
Waking up from this was not as detrimental as I would have imagined.  I cried out of fear.  I did not know what was going on.  I looked at my alarm clock:  4:45 A.M.  The day was June 16. 

On this day, I had been up since I had woken up from my dream.  I had made coffee for myself for some reason; I never drank coffee.  My nerves had been shattered.  When it came time to get ready to go to school, I almost decided to fake sick.  I figured I might as well go.  I seemed to be going slower than usual, like I was in some kind of slow motion replay.  Gathering up my backpack, I trounced out of my front door to wait for the bus.
When I got to school, I did not see Johnny right away.  I got to my locker and there he was.
"R. J....."  He seemed very happy-go-lucky just then.
"Johnny?!  You okay?!  I mean...with whatever happened?"
"Yeah...."  He hesitated.  "My dad just needed some time to cool off.  Everything's cool now."  He had more on his mind than he was telling me.  Then the bell rang for first period.
We didn't speak in English class.  There was some tension there for some reason.  Even if there was not any, I would not have known what to say. 
We left for our street on the school late bus.  We just passed the time with some empty conversation.  Something was bothering me, something I could not put my finger on.  We went into our separate houses, and that was it for the night. 
I did my homework for a little bit and watched TV for the rest of the night.  I was ready to go to bed earlier than I was used to.  I felt there was this huge weight resting on my shoulders and it would never be relieved.  When I crawled into bed, I was too tired to prepare myself for tomorrow.
I had a dream, my dream.  I found myself in front of Johnny Crenshaw's bedroom with the door closed.  I noticed the sign on the door, the one that I had first seen nearly four years before.  "Do Not DISTURB."  The door opened suddenly.  Johnny stood there, expressionless.  I could now recognize his stoic face and figure, except he was younger.  He was the Johnny Crenshaw of four years ago.  The pale little boy that said nothing.  His hand thrust out suddenly.  The note was there.  The paper was burnt at the bottom edge.  It was all so clear.  I could read the entire letter that was written on that eternal paper.  It now read:

Dear R. J.,
I have been told many times that time mends all wounds.  Perhaps if I had been given a different set of circumstances it would be different.  I must say I am proud of my accomplishments-academically, athletically, and especially personally.  You have been my best friend through the good and bad times.  I still remember the day we met for the first time.  I remember being greeted by this kid who had no idea who I was.  You took a chance on getting to know me, and I appreciate it more than you will ever know.  The night that I shared my problems with you was a pivotal point in my life.  I had planned to hang myself in that little closet in my room earlier that same day.  You saved me from that.  My problems have mounted, though.  Every person has their breaking point, and I am no longer able to carry the burdens that I hold.  Times change.  People change.  I have no other alternative.  I no longer want my spot in the world.  I can no longer handle the pressure and the anxiety.  I am past help.  Always remember, R. J., you are my best friend.  Nothing will ever change that.  You know it as well as I do.  I have nothing more to give.

I opened my mouth in attempt to say something to him, but nothing came out.  I looked again at the paper, and I saw it.  The drop of blood in the right hand corner.  I dropped the paper on the floor.  I realized that it had landed on the gray carpet lining the hallway outside of Johnny's bedroom.  I looked up and Johnny was gone.  That was when I knew.

I woke up and ran, ran with my life. Ran to where the call had come from.  Ran with my instincts guiding me into oblivion.  I glided down the stairs of my house in a frenzy.  As I went, I realized I was only wearing a T-shirt and my favorite boxers.  I didn't care.  Bolting out of my front door, my eyes were opened to a pitch black with some optimum luminescence that I could not explain.  Running across the street, a car nearly hit me in the dead of night.  I finally reached the front door of the Crenshaw house, and that stone porch.  I pounded and banged and bludgeoned the door relentlessly with my wily fists.  After what seemed like forever and more, Mrs. Crenshaw opened the door tiredly.  She muttered something, but I did not hear her.  I was already half inside and nearly knocked her over.  In a mad dash, I made my way up the heavenly stairwell towards the door of Johnny's room.  That, oh so, familiar room.  I found the door closed, shutting out my concern.  And there w!
as a letter, the object of my unspeakable dread.
I picked up the paper off of the floor hastily, yet carefully.  For a moment, I stopped and touched the carpet lining the upstairs hall.  That soft, gray carpet.  I thought back to before.  I noticed the burnt bottom edge, just as I had imagined.  Then I looked at the top right hand corner.  I found the spot-the coarse, darkened spot that mortified my being.  Blood.  I needed one final vindication.  I began to read the opening to myself.  I felt like I was reading to the world.

Dear R. J.,
I have been told many times that times mends all wounds. .....

I stopped for a brief second, and then sped to the closing.  All I noticed was Johnny.  I dropped the note in disbelief, in what I had just absorbed.  I knew.  I knew all too well.
"NNOOO!!"  It was all that escaped from my soul.
All I heard was a piercing gunshot, which was followed by the faint thud of a body hitting a hardwood floor.  I never even had time to reach for the doorknob.

That night, I lost a piece of myself along with my best friend.  Johnny was found minutes later by his mother, with my crying on the floor of the hall beside the room.  It was determined that Johnny had died of a single gunshot wound to the head.  He had apparently stolen a handgun and some cartridges from a local sporting goods store.  I have never found out why he did what he did.  Personally, I always blamed his father, for what he had done and what he had left undone.  From all of this, though, I have gathered a new sense of life.  I realize that I must cherish the positive influences that grace my life, like Johnny.  I have always kept the letter that Johnny wrote in a safe place in my room as a reminder of what I've been through.  This way I will always have a piece of Johnny to remember him by, besides the memories.  My deepest regret is that I never got to tell him how much I respected and cared for him as a friend.  I have lost a part of myself, but I have gained even more in the process.

Every day in the U.S., 10 teenagers commit suicide.  Ten lives lost that can never be regained.  Potential of a new generation cast aside in a select group of children.  Feeling helpless is humane.  Being troubled by one's worries is humane.  However, thinking that there is no chance for help and there is no way to feel better is ignorant.  A true friend is always there when you need them, throughout the thick and thin.  Time does mend all wounds, it just depends on the length of time.
11th grader
Vestal, NY, USA
About the Author: My name is Ryan and I am a junior at my high school in Vestal, NY. I play football and basketball, am an EMT in training, do many extracurricular activities in and out of my school, and hold a good job. I had a large amount of motivation to write this story because of the effects of mental illness and suicide in my own life. By spreading mental health awareness and trying to convey the idea of empathy towards other people, maybe we can slowly diminish the suicidal and homicidal feelings that teens harbor.

This report was written to inform you about the danger of anthrax and its relationship to our lives. Although I am not positive that this subject is of your interest I will endeavor to unravel the facts, fiction, and misconceptions that circulate. First off I would like to delineate my topic. Anthrax is a form of bacteria that utilizes spores to find its host. Anthrax also is transmissible from animals to humans in hair, dust, and dander. When the bacteria "finds" or comes across its host it becomes a virus and can multiply from within.
This is where it gets a little scary. I will address the symptoms, and effects that the virus (hence it is in the presence of a host) has on its host. The incubation period or time that elapses during multiplication and invasion of the body; this is usually the period of time between initial infection and initial symptoms that the individual would experience had he or she been infected. The incubation period for anthrax is generally one to five days.
After the incubation the symptoms will occur, but there are three ways of contracting anthrax bacillus; one is by coming in contact with the bacteria through a wound or abrasion this is called Cutaneous anthrax. The fore mentioned would result in swelling of various anatomical components, and is not very deadly. The second mode of contraction is pulmonary anthrax this is due to anthrax being inhaled via infected animal hair, dust, and etc. The symptoms are flu like and often the flu is mistaken for anthrax, and some pustules may form. The third form is Fulminant anthrax, which is characterized by rapid onset of symptoms and ultimately the death of the individual (hence the name fulminant which literally means a violent onset).
Now that I have discussed the symptoms I will discuss the viruses "mechanics" or how it works. When the virus is contracted and symptoms occur what is happening is that the exotoxins or a poisonous material formed by the bacillus attack the cells that line small blood vessels this results in hemorrhaging. The bacteria is not bad itself it just needs a home and when it has one it pollutes it and eventually destroys it. Just think of the entire time that humans have been on this planet going by in fast-forward like a few weeks, and we humans are the viruses; the earth is our host. We live on our "host" and create waste and pollution (exotoxins) until we kill our own home. So now you see that you can learn an important lesson from a lower organism. Are we just viral cells invading a host? Will our own life lead to the demise of our civilization? Will we to carry on to a new host? Ask yourself these questions next time you think about an infamous virus like anthrax bacillus.
I have one thing to discuss before I leave you, and that is the reassurance of a vaccine. The great Louis Pasteur developed an effective vaccination for anthrax and the fatal rhabdovirus hydrophobia (rabies), and tetanus (lock jaw).
So don't worry about the threat of biological war because there is a vaccine and a treatment for those who are ill. On another reassuring note the anthrax bacteria that is bred in a laboratory is extremely weak making it even easier to vaccinate and treat. So if you have gained anything from this I hope that it was some reassurance of your safety and well being as a citizen of this beloved country, and another view on our lives as human beings

10th grader
Colorado Springs, Co
My name is Jared  and, I live in Colorado Springs, Colorado. I am an devout writer and hope to see a novel that I am writing published. I appreciate this web page and hope to continue my submissions.
Untitled poem 1

It was the things we shared
The emotions you revealed
Promises we exchanged

Time's aged us both
And yes, you drifted away
Never to be truly seen by me again

But I can still here the words you told me
I can still feel the way I felt
Safe, warm, trusted, loved

I can't be the same around someone else
You were different
Or so I thought

No matter how badly you may have treated me
I still keep the past clutched tightly in my open heart
It's bleeding but the memories cannot escape
They are the sacred thoughts I will remember forever
8th grader
Poolesville, MD, USA
Hey everyone! I have always loved writing and I'm really getting into poetry. This is a piece I posted on www.shine.com in the poetry cafe under the inspiration link!
Death, milk and passing traffic...

The Dying Gentleman awoke from his dreamy slumber to an early morning chill.  He did not eat breakfast.  He did not make himself a cup of tea.  The pain his sickness had brought his stomach came and went in waves.  Up and down.  He sat at the old wooden table in his kitchen and fell into a mellow daze.  The weak spring sun barely touched his pale skin.

The Dying Gentleman knew he was dying.  Death hovered in the air around him like exhaust fumes in a traffic jam.  The Dying Gentleman had not told his wife anything of his ongoing sickness, or of his impending death.  He did not want to cause a fuss.  His wife emerged from the bedroom, ruffled and dozy from sleep.  Hello, she said.  The Dying Gentleman jerked to attention.  Good morning, he said.  I'm going now.  The Dying Gentleman eased from his chair, opened the front door and stepped out into the still, cold spring air.

Due to an unfavorable economic climate, the Dying Gentleman found himself in early retirement the previous winter.  With no job and little to do, he started taking long morning walks.  Each day he'd shuffle past the same joggers who nodded to him as they panted by.  The same workmen on the new, gray, concrete development sitting on their borrowed milk crates enjoying one of their many extended cigarette breaks would stare curiously.  The Dying Gentleman would wander from the quiet suburban streets in which he'd spent all his life, to the relative buzz of the local shopping center, where old men grunted at children, children nagged their parents, and parents cautiously eyed the drunks and junkies loitering in the shadowy laneways.  The Dying Gentleman would walk past all this life to the cafe where he'd sit quietly in the window and contemplate death.

The first time the Dying Gentleman went to the cafe, the Man, who appeared to be in charge, seemed disappointed when he only asked for a glass of milk.  It soothes my stomach, the Dying Gentleman would try to justify his meager purchase.  But in time, the Dying Gentleman noticed the Man's manner change.  He seemed drawn to the Dying Gentleman's struggle.  The Man even made conversation.  How is the stomach today? he would ask.  The pain intensified and all the Dying Gentleman could manage was to shake his head somberly.  The Man would stare at the Dying Gentleman from behind his coffee machine.  Strange.  The Dying Gentleman would sit stiff and wooden, hoping to avoid the Man's attention.  The Man continued to stare.

The Dying Gentleman sat by himself in the window of the cafe and watched the passing traffic.  Two junkies, the likes of whom regularly frequented the cafe, rose from their seats in the back of the cafe and moved to the door with an exaggerated casualness.  As they stepped out the door and walked past the window, the Dying Gentleman noticed one of them flash a handful of teaspoons to the other.  A grin spread across both their faces as they wandered off to find death in a dark, cold laneway.  Traffic passed.

On his way to the cafe the Dying Gentleman was bumped from behind.  He stumbled forwards.  A junkie ran off down the street.  Another man collided with the Dying Gentleman throwing him to the pavement.  Concrete.  Cold wet concrete.  A thin, dark man stood staring at the Dying Gentleman as if he were of great inconvenience.  He had a drooping moustache and a cleaver by his side.  Death was on his lips.  I'll take care of that later, he huffed as he turned on his heel and walked off, leaving the Dying Gentleman to pick himself up.

On stepping out the front door of his house, the Dying Gentleman was brushed by a cool gust of wind.  The fog which had followed him previously seemed to be lifted.  The Dying Gentleman felt satisfied.  Complete.  Content.  But tired.  His stomach contracted and burned and twisted and he set off for the cafe.

The Dying Gentleman arrived at the cafe and his stomached churned and burned like the sea during a cyclone.  The Dying Gentleman took his regular position in the window and ordered bacon and eggs and sausages and a short black coffee.  Feeling better? the Man asked.  Yes, the Dying Gentleman said.  His stomach wrenched.  The Dying Gentleman filled the throbbing hole that was his stomach, then sat back to watch the traffic pass.

The Dying Gentleman's stomach pains didn't come in waves anymore, the they were steady and fluent as the traffic.  He got up from his seat by the window and went to the pay phone by the door.  As soon as he dialed the number hesitation set in.  He almost hung up the phone.  He didn't.  His wife picked up.  Hello? she said.  The Dying Gentleman froze.  He couldn't speak.  Hello? his wife sounded worried.  The Dying Gentleman did not know if the incessant pain in his stomach was the cause of his inability to speak or if it was something else.  He listened to his wife's breath and her confused hellos, then spoke softly.  I don't know how to explain this... his voice trailed away.  He took a deep breath, said goodbye, and returned the piece to it's cradle.  The Dying Gentleman's final breath escaped from his lungs with a hiss like air slowly seeping from a partially opened beer can.  The Man came from behind the coffee machine and caught the Dying Gentleman just before he hit t!
he floor.  The Gentleman died in a strangers arms.
Melbourne, Australia
About the author of Death, milk and passing traffic...

I live in Australia and I'm 19 years old.  I wrote this about a year and a half ago...  I'm reading Catch 22 at the moment.  um...  I've never submitted writing to anyone except my school English and Literature teachers.  This will be interesting...  Go easy on me guys...
The Pool

"Oh son of a." I yelled in pain shooting up from the water.
"Get out of the water your bleeding!" yelled my sister from behind me.
My sister, Sara, was eighteen years old. It was a dark and foggy that night when we had decided to go for a walk. It was about 10:30 pm when we left the house, my mom warning us not to do anything stupid. I guess I had tuned out then.
"Hurry up! Get out!" she yelled again, this time her voice kind of shook up.
I moaned and groaned. I open and shut my eyes over and over trying to get my head straight.  I then gradually made my way out of the pool.
"Come in here," she said guiding me towards the changing rooms, "let me see what you've done to yourself."
"Oh my god," she yelled looking at my face, " you messed yourself up pretty bad, you need a hospital!"
With that, she took my hand and we jogged home.
"What did u do anyways?"
"I hit the stupid bottom," I replied out of breath and hurting.
When we got home, my mom was in shock. Change your clothes and get in the car were her orders, and I did just that. As we zoomed to the hospital all I could think was what do I look like? I still hadn't had a chance to look in a mirror.
When we got to the hospital, my mom started filling out the paper work and I ran to the bathroom. My first reaction was a smile. It was one of the I'm "so stupid smile". Then I thought that WAHOO this is pretty bad a*s, but then when I snapped back into my senses I had realized that I was hurt. Hurt badly!
I had a scrape on my forehead, near my left temple, and a scrape right next to my left eye. I could have gone blind! There was only around half a centimeter of skin between the scrape and my eye. Then came the bad part. I took of the once brown paper towel, which was soaked in blood from my head. I saw that the slit was pretty wide, deep and worst of all gave me a big old bald spot right in the middle of my head. I also had a deep little gash in my shoulder.  
"Hurry up, it's your turn lets go!" yelled my mom barging into the bathroom.
I ran out and walked over to the emergency room. By the look in the doctor's eyes I could tell it wasn't going to be pretty.
"Got hurt pretty hard eh?" said the doctor.
I could tell by his accent he was from around here.
"Yup," I replied in a soft low voice.
I saw him take out some cotton like thing and dipped it in rubbing alcohol. He started off by cleaning my head. When he was cleaning up my face he remarked, "I think your gong to need stitches young man."
Afterwards, he called in a nurse. She brought him all the utensils needed for the stitching process on a little tray. The doc, not wasting anytime, got right into the stitching. It kind of hurt, but after the first six times I kind of got used to it. About twenty minutes later, I was sent to the x-ray room.
There I was x-rayed five times. The doctors believed I had hurt my neck because it was hurting whenever I moved it. The x-rays proved there was nothing wrong. It was just my neck was a little sore because of the impact. The doctor gave me a soft collar and sent me home.
Later that night, as I lay there, I thought to myself. How stupid can one get? I jump in a pool and I come out with an almost broken neck, nine stitches on my head, and three stitches on my shoulder. 
About two days after this incident, the weirdest thing happened to me. I put on some show that was talking about kids and even grown men jumping into pools, hitting their heads and necks, and dieing.
After watching that show I realized I was one lucky little boy, and I feel that I have turned into a more responsible kid now. I now think twice about my actions and look at life threw a whole new vision. I also learned not to jump into pools with rough bottoms, only dive into pools with tiles on the bottom, and more than three feet of water! 
8th grader
Palatine,Illinois,United States of America
hey guys,

my name is osman. I'm 13 and go to Walter r. sundling (palatine,il) we wrote a whole bunch of papers lately and i found this one to be my best and thought i should publish it. i hope you guys enjoy it as much as i did writing it.

Dedicated to all those who suffer the pain

 Wandering. Denial. Hate. False Love. All these come
 with the life an alcoholic lives. Always pondering what
 lie to tell next. Living in a world where nothing is real.
 Ever so trying to destroy the pain and hate with the
 bitter taste of ignorance. Burying mistakes and hate.
 Trying to cover them with false love, and false
 happiness. Ripping the life which was worked so hard
 for, apart. All the while promising yourself you
 wouldn't become the man you hated so intensely. But
 why? For what? All this just to hide the pain and pure
 stupidity you have brought upon yourself. Yet you
 continually blame others for your insanity and
 sickness, when in all reality you may only blame
 yourself. Unable to see the pain that you have caused
 others, unable to hear their cries. Blindness comes
 with denial, and denial has just left you alone in the
 dark. Unable to see nor hear the destruction you are
 causing. So lost in your own mind there is only one
 Drown out the Ignorance.
10th grader
York, Main
Student at York high.  I have feelings deep inside which fight for freedom.  Surrounded by hate these feelings are Pushed downward.  Down and down they go, until...poetry happens.

So imperfect but yet beautiful,
So annoying but yet sweet,
So life-like but yet so dead,
So emotional but yet a heart of steel.

You're the spirit,
You're so blemished,
But I can't say I hate you for it.

Sleep silent within this egg of blue and awake to find the loud music of silence,
So blemished but yet so pure and good,
So blemished but it doesn't show.

So where do we go from our dreamland, Sweet Candy?

We can fly through the infinite humming space and visit the stars.

You're a person,
Not a perfect.
11th grader
Essential characteristics of a Happy Childhood

and emphasize
chaos of any form;
run, don't walk;
wish for snow days
even if the time is paid for
in June;
and make sure to
roll down hills
climb trees
and fall off bikes
to become
stained, scraped, and soaked;
and at times
it is vital that
you see or know
of something that is not quite real;
always eat a bug
once every year,
and be certain to
fear and despise
"cool" parents
and fancy clothing.
Always remember
to forget.
7th grader
Brunswick, ME USA
Essential characteristics of a Happy Childhood

Hi, this is Alex.  I'm 13 years old and a 7th grader in Maine.  Along with writing poetry and short essays I enjoy modern dance and ballet. 
: *Little Black Box*

I'm sitting in my little black box
no light shines in

My pupils are dilated,
like black pools of terror

Searching for the light,

My ears pick up no sound, and that is what frightens me -
It is too silent

I cannot even hear the beating of my own heart
And I wonder if I am dead

The deep black silence wraps around me
suffocates me, like a noose around my neck

I can no longer tell if my eyes are open or closed; If I am seeing the back on my eyelids, or the side of my little black box.

It all looks the same.
9th grader
Everett, Washington
Hey, my name is Ashley and I really like writing poems and short stories. Right now I am also working on a not-so-short-story about vampires that is taking forever. Hope you like my poem!
Dream of Waking

 - Thick pools of rich sanguine sprung from his previously unmarred skin, the tattered remains of once unbroken flesh having been ripped away. His breaths were shallow and labored, the corners of his eyes scrunching with each sharp inhalation as he struggled not to flinch. Cracked and sprained, his ribs jutted out painfully, his chest rising and falling slowly, carefully, as though treasuring each savory taste of paling twilight. Blood seeped into his line of vision, obscuring his view of the figure knelt helplessly beside him.
She reached down to stroke his hair, her own unsullied fingers now sticky with sultry, viscous scarlet. Saline mingled with the bitter scent of defeat, and she abandoned all thought of restraining her tears, gently cradling his limp frame. He attempted in vain to open his eyes, but the lacerations adorning his brow forced them shut, bold streaks of crimson etching permanent paths along his strong, shapely features. Guided by instinct, he reached for her hand, and she wrapped her quivering digits around his own. There was no strength left in his bones, as if his muscle tissue had completely dissipated, and he lie on the rough asphalt like a meek child.
Finding him surprisingly heavy in his incapacitated state, she shifted clumsily, supporting his twisted, bruised neck as best she could. He whimpered lightly, suppressing a scream of dolor - he realized his inevitable fate as it darkened his mind. She leaned over him, vaguely aware of the presence of other human bodies gathering around to watch the scene unfold, shock and sadness permeating their minds. Nothing could compare to the infinite melancholy that grappled her barely beating heart, however, and she released a small, horrified gasp of her own. The pitiful sound met his ears and he tried, for her sake, to be strong. A wave of shudders that undulated through his entire body finally gave him the resolve to pry open his glassy eyes, aware and accepting of his forthcoming demise. Their gazes met, for the last time, and half-lidded orbs of glazed, glossy amber upturned with the faintest hint of a smile. The fire in their depths was squelched, a mere flicker lighting their !
distant, deathless pits.
Her heart was nearly ripped from her chest as she witnessed possibly the most beautiful sight she could ever imagine - his soft grin aimed directly at her, and her alone. She was the only image that provided him a sliver of solace in his passing. Panic seized her thoughts as she felt his grasp loosen, and his eyes grow heavier. His breathing patterns became more sporadic, blood-tinged saliva leaking from the corners of his mouth as he began to cough. Frantic, she slid an arm around his back, helping him to sit up, but the action proved useless in the face of obvious distress. With a sickening crunch of his ribs, he released another gasping cough, flecks of blood staining her arms, her face. She didn't care. He convulsed, his innocent face contorting in anguish. He wanted to live, now more than ever, and his time was cut short. His only comfort was the feel of her hands pressed against his throbbing temples, desperately tracing his features to brand every minuscule detail int!
o her mind. Together, they heard the sirens, the cries of the people around them offering help and assurance. No one pulled them apart; no one forced them away from each other.
He opened his eyes one last time, using every ounce of liquid strength he could muster, widening them to capture as much as he could with his limited time. Her eyes, he saw, were red-rimmed and tear-ridden, her hair falling in confused knots around her harrowed complexion. He knew that, for her to be so distraught, he had to be of great importance to her. Reaching up tentatively with a shaky, inflexible hand, he brought her face towards his, brushing their lips together in what would be their first, last, and only kiss. She nearly pulled away at the coppery taste of his blood, but savored the warm feeling of their mutual tears mingling. He tried to press them closer together, but the pain was overwhelming his senses. With a low growl of satisfaction, he slumped back down to the cold, unfeeling ground, mirthful eyes rolling back into his head as his body finally gave out. His blood was still slathered on her face, her clothes, and her hair. She pulled away, forcing herself to!
 check for a pulse. Upon finding no such sign of life, her pupils narrowed to dangerous slits, and she unleashed a high-pitched, animalistic cry. Warm, dry hands gently guided her towards the curb, and she could feel the empathetic gazes of the onlookers. She wanted them all to die, to go back to their daily lives and forget she existed, forget they had seen the events before them unfold. She didn't watch them take his body away. She didn't want to think of the look on his mother's face when a sympathetic police officer told her that her son had been killed. She didn't want to answer anyone's questions, or suffer through anyone's condolences.
Wiping fruitlessly at her clouded eyes, still holding fresh tears, she inched away from the scene, her world-weary feet scuffing against the concrete carelessly. No one tried to stop her.
Shooting bolt upright in bed, she gasped for sweet air, her lungs aching miserably. Her fingers clutched the dampened linens, maliciously prying them from her quaking legs. Instinctively, she felt her quavering lips, her blazing cheeks, her royal mane. As her eyes danced into focus, the soothing blue illumination of her digital alarm clock tranquilized her frayed nerves. She had been caught in a heinous, dreadful nightmare, in which her worst fears had breathed life into darkening subconscious. Merely a figment of her imagination --and yet it had all seemed so frightening realistic.
She threw her legs over the side of the bed and steadied her unprepared frame against the wall. Sluggishly, she managed to feel her way towards the bathroom and fumble with the light switch. For a moment of contemplation, she beheld the forlorn visage in the mirror, pervasive melancholy seeping through her momentarily alien features. She appeared hollow and achromatic, her eyes swollen with pained agitation. Reaching out tentatively to awaken the faucet and revitalizing her ghastly features with a splash of cool water, she regained her natural confidence and self-sufficiency.
"But why did I dream about him?" She inquired aloud, rubbing her face vigorously with a nearby hand towel. She quickly discarded the cloth back onto the linoleum, peeved by the dank aroma of mildew against her sensitive nostrils. Perching her lithe body on the counter with avian agility and grace, she continued to interrogate the girl on the other side of the mirror. "I've never even spoken to him. Sure, I see him all the time, but."
The young man of whom she privately spoke had been the object of her blatant affections for quite a time. Of course, being the headstrong adolescent that she was, she could not swallow her pride and introduce herself to him. Instead, she watched him from afar, wistfully pondering the possibilities of a relationship, or even so much as a friendship with him. He presented himself with poise and grace, a boyish shyness locking away his voice and holding his eyes downcast. Oftentimes she would perch upon the stairs and giggle softly as he passed her by, routinely sparing her a glance with guarded eyes.
Feasibly, her dream was a premonition, an internal ultimatum - neither of them was growing any younger. Within months, they would very well be across the country from one another, and still she would ponder the 'what-ifs' of what had never been. Rubbing her shoulders in an act of reassurance, she flicked off the light and smiled softly to herself. Perhaps the nightmarish scare had filled her with enough affrightment to finally spring to action.
Climbing back into bed and drawing her limbs into the fetal position she sighed, gathering the hair from the nape of her neck and fanning it across the pillow. She lied still for countless minutes, watching the drapes as they joined the wind in a seductive jactitation. Time rolled by unnoticed as she prepared to drift back into slumber, releasing another drawn-out breath. A loud clamor jilted her from her entranced state.
She groaned loudly this time, taking both of her downy pillows and creating a fortress for her pounding head. The merciless ring of the phone persisted, further adding to her irritation. It was only eleven thirty-four. Many of her friends and friendly acquaintances were still prowling the evening streets, looking for excitement and a few cheap thrills that went hand-in-hand with the night life.  One of them was probably attempting to call her now, looking to coax her out of bed and into the chilly outdoors. Upon suffering through the umpteenth ring, she abandoned all resolve and gracelessly dove for the receiver.
"What?" she barked huskily, pausing to clear her throat. In the background, she made out the telltale sounds of deliriously febrile people, accompanied by high-pitched sirens. Heavy, hysterical breathing met her unwilling ear, and she held the phone at a slight distance.
"Oh my God." The voice belonged to her best friend, Madison, whose normally airy tone was weighted with anguish. A loud holler cut across her inane mumbling. "Oh my God, you will not even believe what I just witnessed."
She sat up in bed yet again, balling up a fist and rubbing her eyes, daring to peer at the clock. Eleven forty-two. "What is it Mads? Is something the matter?" Another siren, this one closer. "Where are you?" She became increasingly concerned.
"Mill Avenue." The answer came curtly, the last syllable bitten off sharply and leaking with venom. Madison inhaled tightly. "There was a huge wreck at the intersection of Mill and Sixth."
"Oh?" She calmed down slightly, her shoulders sagging. "Are you alright? You weren't in it, were you?"
"No." Another unnatural answer. Madison paused, collecting her words. When she spoke again, her tone was careful to conceal any impending truth. "A pedestrian was hit."
"That's awful," She croaked in return, feeling a second's worth of remorse for the unfortunate peddler before selfishly welcoming sleep. A sense of sudden urgency filled the atmosphere as more shouts were heard from the receiver, the sirens having since died down. Madison sighed loudly, gathering her composure.
"Michelle." She spoke firmly.
"What?" Came the exasperated reply. Michelle heard nothing in response, and waited patiently, barely holding her eyes open. A few seconds later, Madison lowered her voice to a barely discernible whisper.
"Nathan's dead."     

10th grader
Phoenix, AZ USA
About the author of "Dream of Waking" - I am an average sixteen-year-old sophomore girl from Arizona who aspires to become an established young author upon encouragement from several teachers. I've dedicated my life to promoting anti-racism/sexism/fascism and I firmly believe in unity among all people. In my spare time, I enjoy painting, writing, and supporting the local music scene.

I have to do this. I'm tired, but then we all are. Things never seem to stop around here. The radios play, life flows and trails, I cry. I would free myself if I knew how to. Days like today when hearts move, but mine doesn't. These are the worst. I would end it if I could. My eyes hurt, I don't know why. My vision's going in my left eye, I'm not sure why. It's just thrown away. There are no more lies, very little truths; what I hear is what I know. A week ago right now, I was alone with my heart and I still couldn't find it. Exposed to the purity and the heavens, yet I was missing myself. It begins again. Strange how red leaves and only blue remains.
Blue. Is that all there is? Eyes, heart, spirit. No one can quite understand it. All is right if I try. When I let go, I don't really. I fool myself. Echoes of light, insightful comments hide behind smiles. The drama has spoken and towers over the radio. I lost the time, again. I remembered my faith, it helped for a while, until my spirit cracked.
Look into it. Push and go further, beat, destroy, rewrite, she runs, I walk, dreary night, bright moon, it is eternity that I feel. Drive further and forget until it happens again. Sour. Take life as it comes. So I shut my eyes hoping they will stop. They do for a while, then they remember. Anxiety. There is too much; it is always too much. This is never about anything I could know. Take it. It really doesn't stop. I've been doing this for decades. Feels like centuries. Snow covers, I live, then it ends without laughter.
It just stops. I want to stop. I can't let her go. This is where comprehension fails. I told her weeks ago, but it doesn't change, except my eyes do. Weaker, dirtier, never. Free entirety. Can it even happen, at one time I would have said yes, but now? I'm tired of writing in the dark. She can tear my heart out and it wouldn't change anything. She's murdered any thinking.
It's like poison. Sounds dramatic, but this is my life. In society nothing matters unless it's life or death, be productive and resourceful. I'm a fighter without a shield. The wind stops. Quiet. And then back. I wanted you. Then your heart stopped, you destroyed my thoughts. Intensity is poison.
Run. Keep running. If you stop I will find you. So you won't. No more nevers and that's the end of that. I feel like I should say something but it won't make you right. Run with me. You like it alone. Desire without guilt. Remorse without emotion. I'm walking with you, try stopping me. It's a perfect sky. Dark, detrimental, a laugh, a giggle. Movie after movie. Sky on sky like blue on blue. More like black.
I don't want to write about that anymore. Purity ended to abruptly. It won't come back today. Do  you want to come in for a while, I'll drive you home. It's dry now. Clawed and solid. The truth translated. You can't make me regret it, nothing in the world can. There are reasons that I would never understand. Why has it taken so long? You've taken my memory.
Stop now. We'll regret it. You'll never forget about this, I'll never remember. I am today what I was that day. Still the same, somehow different. Too fast. Don't stop. Lost in time, moments of freedom. This is what freedom is, this is desire. Undisclosed responsibility, we never could find a ball. It's funny how this works out. Predict this. See it. Smell it.
Is this enough for you? Do I keep going like in June or July. All and everything. Suddenly the laughter stops. It just isn't funny. It continues unspoken and awkward. Do I forget? I have a strange light in my peripheral when I look away. I will find you. You're very upside-down. You can't fix me. I have to do this otherwise I will forget and let go of you. They will come again. All I want is you. I wouldn't. Too far away.
Thin fingers. Dry hands. Mint. Blue. Dead eyes. Denim legs. Animals. Crickets. This is how it ends. Stolen from my mind on paper. If it stopped I would know. If you stopped I would feel it. Broken bones. Delicate. Free my mind. Free my heart, no one can tell how it works. Comedy. Suddenly. Today versus tomorrow. Caress.
I should have, but I didn't. Press further. Show her. My ego lies. I said it because I meant it, not because it was convenient. Does it become clearer if I follow you? Tired eyes, hands of an angel. We are always tired. The lies I keep telling myself. Four worlds collide as if this was all it consisted of. I had a dream about you last night, desireless and non-sentimental. Heroes of the future unite tonight. To find no valued end, no reason to continue, no desire to see me through. Disguised as humanity, she terrifies and disrupts definition. This is how it ends. Two broken hearts. One more. A frightened woman. And a misogynist.
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Black Bird

He watches me
With his blazing black eyes
A stalker with a silent wish
I am the pray
And he is the predator
His gleaming, almost smiling mouth
Mesmerizes me
I cannot escape
His talons dig deeper
Clawing at my very essence
His wings beat with triumphant fury
His magical presence draws me in
I cannot run
I am lost
He is only a bird
Or is he?
10th grader
New Prague, MN
My name is Jessie. I'm 15 and live in rural Minnesota.  I enjoy snowboarding, music, poetry, friends, horror movies, among other things. 
The Lost Child

After my father left, the relationship between my mother and I fell apart. We both changed beyond recognition. Within a month the relationship was broken, bent and unfixable. We tried of course, snippets of conversations here and there, the weather, the world, the family. It became too fake for me, too plastic, and I softly withdrew into a world of loneliness and solitary depression. Drink, drugs, and friends briefly touched my life, small reminders of the things I used to have. They, too, however, slowly faded into nothingness, just like everything else. Once again, I slipped back into my world of teenage blackness, a haven, where no one and nothing could touch me and I was safe. But after a while, even that became unstable, as my mother pressed a flood of physiatrists, doctors, and councilors upon me. They just pushed me further away from her. By then she would have realized what I was going to do, like my father and his father before him. The shrinks were a last, desperate attempt at bringing back the child she once knew, the child which was dead, lost.  I saw through it, and 3 days after my 18th birthday I left, never to return again.
9th grader
Tamworth, NSW, Australia
November's justification is sometimes like a summer's morning.

standing inside a cool night,
the wind catches dried leaves upon shoulders
and reminds the skin of sweet.
sunshine and its curves are much shadowed under
the intoxication of black paint, darkening
the glorifications of a new day. love
embraces constancy with small twigs underfoot
and i dance with the slenderness of understanding
why fall holds a heart.
10th grader
hmm ive published many.here.on.this.site. and never do seem to leave something about myself.  ive changed.am changing.forever will be changing.  if the wonders are there, visit my diary at opendiary.com under ...irena
much love to all...and a smile ; )
It Still Won't Be the Same

The room seen has an aged look about it. Everything in it looks as if it has been the same for centuries. It is undisturbed, as if it was frozen in time.
A middle-aged woman slowly walks into the room, taking in every detail of it. She walks over to the window and draws the curtain. At that moment the rooms fills with light. Everything suddenly glows with life again. The woman goes over to the corner where an antique desk sits. In front of the desk is an old leather chair. She sits in it letting it grow around her. She than opens a drawer in the desk and takes out a pen and a weathered leather journal that seems to be falling apart. She begins to write, slowly at first, but soon the pages are filling up rapidly. As she writes decades of memories flow through her and onto the paper.


"Ugh, dumb sun. Starting another horrible day of." Cutting herself off. "Wait! There's no school today. Yesterday was the last day. It's summer!"
Courtney quickly got dressed and hurried down stairs for breakfast. She was going to enjoy every possible moment of this day. Nothing, absolutely nothing was going to ruin this beautiful, first day of summer vacation.
After pouring herself a big bowl of cereal, she made herself comfortable at the table with spoon in one hand and the comics in the other. After reading through her favorite funnies she quickly started making a list in her head of what she was going to do.
"Let's see here, first, call Allison."
Of course she would call Allison. She always called Allison when she had time to do something. In fact she couldn't remember a day since she knew Allison that they didn't talk to each other. Well she probably could, but why go into details. Some people may say she is a little dependent on one person, but she didn't care. She and Allison had been best friends since they were seven years old. Now they were fourteen, so it would be about seven years they had known each other. Anyway, enough about the past. Today she would call her, and that was that.
After deciding what to do, Courtney got up, rinsed out her bowl, wiped off the table and reached for the phone. Just as she reached for the phone, it rang.
"Hello? Baker residence."
"Hi Courtney, it's Allison. I need to talk to you about something. I am. "
Courtney interrupts Allison, thinking she knows exactly what she is going to say.
"Yeah, I know! I'm excited about summer vacation too. Oh, the things we will be able to do! Anyway, hi, I was just about to call you."
"No, that wasn't what I was going to say. Actually, Courtney, I am dreading summer vacation. It is going to be terrible. We won't get to see as much of each other as you think. You see."
Courtney interrupts again. This time confused.
"Won't be able to see that much of each other? What are you talking about? We have all summer.."
Allison interrupts, agitated that she can't get a word in with out being questioned.
"Courtney, listen to me! I'm moving!" Allison pauses to let Courtney react.
"What?! I mean, why, uh, when did you find out? Where? No, this is a joke, right?... Right?"  Courtney, very worried now, is silent, waiting for Allison to answer. Finally she does, but not the answer Courtney was hoping for.
"Yes, I'm moving. We just got the call late last night. It was from my dad's boss. My dad is being transferred to Virginia. There was no way around it. My dad talked for hours to get out of moving. It didn't work. We are moving in about a month. We still have a month, but after that I am going to be in Virginia and you are still going to be here in Ohio."
Allison starts crying a little while Courtney lets the thought soak in.
Allison moving? It just couldn't happen, but it was, right now. She had always had Allison here, and she thought she always would. Never once had she thought this would happen. Maybe she just put the thought in the back of her mind. It didn't matter though, where that thought was before, because now it was right in the front of the line. This was horrible. What was she going to do? Courtney thought as tears started to fall on her cheeks.
Well enough about her. What about poor Allison?  She will be all alone in Virginia. Having to be the new girl. At least she still knew people. Poor Allison was going to have to start from scratch again. What would happen to their friendship?
While Courtney was lost in thought Allison was thinking the same things, and crying even more each minute. They both were in a loss for words. Finally Allison decided that she couldn't talk any more right then.
"Courtney, I have to go now. My mom needs help in the kitchen, okay?"
Allison said slowly, trying to stifle her cries.
"Okay, Allison, talk to you later. Bye"
"Bye Courtney,"  said Allison, wishing that was the only good-bye she had to say.
After that, both girls ran up to their rooms, forgetting anything else they had to do that day. All they wanted to do was to cry and lose themselves in thought.


"Courtney! Time for lunch dear!" A loud voice calls up the stairs.
Courtney gets up, rubs her eyes, and lets out a big yawn.
"Oh I must have slept in late. NO! Wait, I woke up. I called Allison. She's moving!" thought Courtney in panic.
"I'm not hungry mom!"  She had to figure out something. She wanted to talk to Allison, but she figured that Allison would need some time to herself.
Courtney then got up and went to her dresser where she kept all her pictures, that she had drawn, and some photographs. She picked one up that really meant a lot to her. It was a photo, taken about four years ago of her and Allison on a beautiful spring day, they were both wearing matching outfits and were sitting in their tree house that they had built. The tree house had long since been knocked down, but the picture still brought a smile to her face.
"It just won't be the same without Allison," Courtney said quietly to herself.


"Mom, I don't understand. Why do we have to move? Isn't there some way around it ? We have a beautiful house here and great friends and." Allison asks in a melancholy voice. She in on the verge of tears for the fourth time that morning.
"Honey, I know you are going to miss living here. I also know you are going to especially miss Courtney. We will all miss the Bakers. They are great friends and they still will be. We will visit them and they can visit us, any time they like. Your dad tried his best to get out of moving. You know that. He has a good job and the only way he can keep it though, is to move where his boss tells him. I am really sorry." Allison's mom says this in a caring way as she walks over to comfort her daughter.
"Yeah, I know mom. It is just going to be so hard to adjust," Allison says in a depressed voice while she stares at the ground.


Later that day, while Courtney is making herself a snack, the phone rings. When Courtney picks up the phone she can tell immediately who it is. As soon as Allison gathers her thoughts on the other end, she starts to speak.
"Courtney, I just have to say that these past years have been great and I am sure that we will have many more times to come. My mom said that you can visit and we will come back from time to time. It won't be so bad..."
Taking some time to think out what she is going to say Courtney waits a little before she speaks.
" I guess you are right Allison. It won't be that bad. It's not like we will never see each other again. Hey, maybe we should look at this as a new opportunity to freshen up on our writing skills. We will definitely be writing a lot of letters," Courtney says almost laughing near the end.
" That's just like you, Courtney, always being able to laugh during anything. The whole human race could be on the verge of extinction and we would find you, sitting there, laughing. Anyway, enough about moving! I want to know how excited you are about camp this summer. It is only a week away, you know!"
The two girls go on talking for a while until each of them has to go for dinner. They both walk away from the phones feeling much better for the time being.


The next week Courtney and Allison go to camp and have a fantastic time of hiking, horseback riding, fishing and doing many other great activities. Both girls hardly even think about the move at all. By the end of the week though, they start to come back to the reality that they will be separated shortly.
"Camp was great!  Wasn't it, Courtney?" Allison asks Courtney the day after camp ended.
"Yeah! Remember Susan and her bugs? 'Gross! There is a fly in the tent! Take it out!' " Courtney says in a high pitched voice, imitating one of her fellow campers.
"Yeah, that was funny. I wonder if she will still be like that next year? I hope not and if she is, I hope I am not in her group," Allison replies still giggling from what Courtney said.
"Hmmm, next year. I almost forgot about next year. It is going to be really hard Allison. I don't mean to sound so self-absorbed. It will be hard on both of us, but still."
"It's ok. You have a right to be sad too. It is going to be so difficult to adjust to this, but I know that in the end it will be fine. Maybe Virginia won't be so bad. The climate may be a little warmer," Allison replies, trying to sound happy, but failing miserably.
"Well, I have to go now. I will see you later. If you want me to, I will come help you pack," Courtney says as she begins to put the phone down.
"Okay. Thanks for the offer. Bye."
Both girls hang up and leave the room where they were sitting. Both need some more time to think about the upcoming change in their lives.


Allison decides to go up to her room and pack her collection of dog figurines. As she starts to pack, she tries to remember where she got each one. It is a hard task since she has over 300. As she works, she begins to remember things that she hadn't thought about for a long time.
About half way through the collection she picks up a dusty figurine of a brown and white spaniel. It is laying down with its head in its paws. She can easily recall where she got this one. It was for her 11th birthday. She had seen this statue in a store window. At the time Courtney had been there. It had been a fairly expensive piece and Allison's mom thought it was better to buy clothes than just a "worthless statue that Allison would end up breaking". Courtney had known that Allison really wanted it, so she saved up all her allowance for six weeks, just so that she could buy the figurine for Allison's birthday.
As Allison puts this one away, she is extra careful so she won't  chip it. After she finishes packing the whole collection it is already nine at night and she is really tired so she decides to get ready for bed.


"Dad, why couldn't you have been transferred with Allison's dad? Than we could still live next to them," Courtney asks in a hopeful tone.
"You know I can't control that and even if I could go, I wouldn't want to. We have a lot of relatives here. We need to stay close to them. I am sorry, but it is not the end of the world. You have other friends and it isn't like you will never see Allison again. We will visit as much as possible."
"I know, I have already heard that before. I just don't think that is true. We will be meaning to go, but never will. I know how it is. I am going to miss Allison so much," Courtney says as she walks away in a depressed mood.


Throughout the next two weeks the girls try to spend as much time as possible together. They go on bike rides, go swimming and on quite a few picnics, each of them aware that the day they have been dreading is approaching fast.
The day before Allison is scheduled to move, Courtney and Allison decide to have a picnic in their favorite place, right under an old oak tree in the middle of the park. This is the place they met each other. They both were playing catch with themselves when Courtney accidentally lost her ball right by the tree. While Courtney was bending down to pick up her ball Allison was running backwards to catch her ball when she tripped right over the top of Courtney. They both got up laughing and decided to play catch together. That started their long friendship.
When they got to their picnic spot they spread out their blanket and began to unpack their food. As the two girls unpacked they chatted easily about things that they would have to do after Allison moved.
"We have to visit each other as soon as possible. Maybe I can come to your new house first for a change of pace," Courtney suggests eagerly
"Yeah, that would be fun and you could stay for about a week. Maybe next school year I can visit some time too. I can come to school with you like that one time Kristin brought her friend from Switzerland to school with her," Allison says filled with excitement about things to come.
"All right, then it is a deal. We will do all these things. Also we can't lose touch. We have to make sure we write as much as possible." Courtney tries to say this in a demanding voice, but ends up smirking near the end.
The two girls go on like this for the next hour and a half or so. They then play catch for a while and decide to pack up the picnic and go home. After Courtney takes one last look at Allison's house and takes some photos, she says good-bye to Allison and walks home, all the time, thinking of the day looming ahead.


The next morning Courtney wakes up bright and early to say goodbye to Allison one last time. As she stands in front of Allison's house, she remembers all the great times of their friendship and imagines the times to come. She is snapped out of this thought when Allison walks over to say goodbye.
"I really liked having you as a friend Courtney. We had some great times and there are still many more to come, I am sure. I will really miss you. Write as much as possible," Allison says as she give Courtney a hug goodbye. The whole time she is crying
"Same to you, Allison. It has been great and you are right. It isn't over till the fat lady sings, as they say. I don't see any fat lady singer right now, so you must be right. I will miss you too. I will promise to write as much as I can. Bye Allison." Courtney, also crying while she speaks, returns the hug.
Allison's car drives away slowly as Courtney waves.
"It has been great and I am sure it will be for a long time, but it still won't be the same" Courtney says to herself as she turns away from Allison's house for the last time.


Allison and Courtney wrote each other almost every week for a while and visited each other twice, but like most friendships maintained over mail, it slowly died away. They eventually lost contact with each other when they both went on to high school and had no time to write anymore. When college came along, they put the memory of each other in the back of their minds. The memory didn't completely disappear though. As they got older they began to wish they had maintained contact. They even tried to find each other, but to no avail since they both had moved so many times. They still think of each other often and know they will meet each other again someday.


The woman, now tired from writing, puts away the journal. She has filled pages and pages with her memories that seemed so distant before, but are now fresh in her mind. As she gets up you can catch a tear in her eye. As she is about to close the window curtain, the doorbell rings. Her thoughts disturbed, she walks quickly out of the room and to the front door. When she opens the door, there stands another lady. Both women look at each other for a moment, as if they are in a trance. Suddenly a wave of realization flows over them. Both women then give each other a strong hug. Both are crying, not tears of sorrow, but tears of joy. They both are about to go out the door together when the one who was writing runs into the room and pulls the journal from the desk. She than hands it to the other woman. They both walk out the door together, reading the journal of memories that both of them know all too well
11th grader
Naperville, Il USA
About the author of "It Still Won't Be The Same" I wrote this piece for a school assignment, but never really had it the way I wanted until recently when I revised it and worked out a better ending. I always have enjoyed writing, even though I only do it as a free time activity. I hope you enjoyed my story :) -Katy
Lucy's Star

" Oh, Lucy!" her mother cried when Lucy showed her a drawing she'd made in art that day." It's so beautiful! I can just see you as a famous artist!"
Lucy's smile got a little wider, and she sat up a little straighter.
" Yes, Mommy," she said with proud eyes. " I love to draw, but to paint I'll need some paintbrushes and paint."
" Oh," her mother said as she stuck her drawing on the refrigerator," I'll take care of that. Anything for my little angel!" After she kissed her on the nose, Lucy flounced up to her room.
" Sucker!" she exclaimed and took the white bow out of her hair. A set of play clothes was already sitting out on the bed.
" How good it feels to get out of this dress!" she thought as she threw off the blue and white checkered dress.
After she was changed, Lucy dashed across the street to see her neighbor Mrs. Price. As usual , Mrs. Price was sitting on her porch with a plaid blanket wrapped around her legs.
" Lucy!" she exclaimed as she saw her best friend approaching." How are you?"
" I'm just dandy!" Lucy said as she sat in her usual chair. " Is Siegfried feeling any better?"
Mrs. Price looked at her dejected daffodil that was sitting in a clay pot on the floor of the porch. The leaves were brown and made a crunching sound when they were touched. Its golden blossoms had already fallen off and were laying on the floor next to the stem.
Mrs. Price smiled and said," I think he's starting to perk up a bit."
" That's good," Lucy said. " Your porch just wouldn't be the same without good old Siegfried. He's been here for a long time."
" Well, I know how much you love him," Mrs. Price said. " How was school today?"
" All right," Lucy replied. " My art teacher said my drawing was good, and I failed a spelling test. Spelling is just so hard! I don't understand it at all."
" I used to have trouble with that too when I was your age," Mrs. Price remembered. " I got horrible grades."
" But you are so smart!" Lucy cried with disbelief. " You're the smartest person I know."
" Age makes you wiser," Mrs. Price remarked.
Meanwhile, Lucy's mother watched them through the window. To her, Mrs. Price was just a crazy old woman who was contaminating Lucy's innocent mind. All Lucy ever talked about was Mrs. Price and Siegfried. Lucy hardly even talked to her mother any more.
" I just want to raise my child," she said to herself bitterly. " How dare she take that job away from me." Then she went out on the porch and called Lucy in for dinner.
The next day Lucy's mother took her to the mall for most of the day. She bought Lucy ten new Barbie dolls and never thought twice. When they returned home, it was pitch dark, but Mrs. Price was still sitting on her porch, waiting for Lucy to come over. As soon as the car stopped, Lucy took off on a dead run for Mrs. Price's porch.
" Lucy," Mrs. Price said peacefully as her best friend returned," come sit with me."
" Ok," Lucy replied as she sat in her usual chair.
" Lucy, I'm very old, " Mrs. Prince said. " You see that one star out tonight?" When Lucy nodded, she continued," Some day I'm going to be sitting on that star. Whenever you feel lonely, you just look up at that star in the night sky and know that I'll be looking back at you."
" It's such a little star, Mrs. Price," said Lucy with worry. " Are you sure that you'll have enough room up there?"
" I'm sure," Mrs. Prince said as she stroked Lucy's blonde hair. " I've heard that stars are very comfortable to sit on."
" I know you can't live forever," Lucy said with tears in her eyes. " But can't you stay here with me for just a little longer?"
" It's not like I have a choice, Lucy, and death can be a very beautiful thing."
" How can death be beautiful?" Lucy asked disbelieving. " It takes people away."
" Yes, but death is like a peaceful nap after a long day's work. For every end, there is always a new beginning. Now come sit on my lap."
Lucy carefully climbed into the old woman's delicate lap. Mrs. Price wrapped her boney arms around her only friend.
A warm summer breeze tugged at Lucy's hair and disturbed the leaves on the contorted tree in front of the house. Mrs. Price's lawn resembled a gardener's worst night mare with weeds in the lawn and garden that reached toward the lone star in the sky and grass that was taller than Mrs. Price herself. Since she didn't have enough room to store everything in her house, Mrs. Price had left several old arm chairs and a couch in the back yard. Even though they were now moldy and mice had moved in, she couldn't bear to part with them. The paint on the house and porch was chipping on the rotted wood. The porch was covered with dead plants that Mrs. Price had never bothered to throw away. The distorted boards that made up the porch stuck out at all kinds of odd angles, but Mrs. Price and Lucy were sitting near the edge, which was the only secure area. Sometimes Lucy could hear the bugs moving in the scummy wood, but Mrs. Price always assured her that they were friendly and would not!
 harm her. When Lucy looked at her own house, she saw a neatly painted house with a puritanically trimmed lawn.    
Lucy's mother sat looking out the window from her house across the street. The little seven year old girl and the ancient, frail woman looked so peaceful and content that it brought tears to her eyes. " At least Lucy has a friend," she thought as she dried her eyes with a tissue. " If only I had one too."
The two on the porch never spoke again and didn't need to. Mrs. Price knew that even if she was only remembered by one person, it would be much better than not being remembered at all. Even though she was happy that her pain was finally going to end, Mrs. Price was still sad that she had to leave Lucy behind.
Lucy felt the warmth leave Mrs. Price's body, and tears filled her eyes. She put Siegfried on Mrs. Price's lap and gazed up at that little shining star that was bright and beautiful. Then she heard birds singing in the crooked, old tree. Lucy looked up and saw a bird's nest with two eggs in it.
" A new beginning," she said to herself quietly and felt Mrs. Price's cold hand. "She looks so peaceful. It's almost like Mrs. Price is sleeping."
Then she went across the street to tell her mother that their neighbor was dead.
After Mrs. Price was buried, Lucy was faced with a very large problem. She missed Mrs. Price every time that she looked at the old porch. Remembering what she had said about the stars, Lucy spent hours gazing at the night sky, but there were so many stars that she couldn't figure out which one Mrs. Price was sitting on.
Lucy's mother saw how forlorn her daughter was and tried to help. She sat and gazed at the sky with Lucy for hours and hours each night.
" Do you see it yet, Lucy?" her mother asked.
" No," Lucy said," I want to just give up."
" Do you think Mrs. Price would want you to give up?" her mother asked.
" No," said Lucy, and they kept looking at the sky.
As the leaves on the trees started changing, they had to wear coats, hats and mittens outside. Then winter stepped in and had her say. Snow and ice covered the houses, streets, and lawns. The bitter cold bit Lucy and her mother through their heaviest winter clothing. After a while, they just stopped going outside.
Every Christmas Lucy's relatives came to their house from all over the United States, and most of them only saw Lucy at Christmas time. On Christmas Eve the whole family ate a huge dinner. The dining room table was decked with sliced ham, buttery mashed potatoes, pumpkin bread, candied carrots, peeled shrimp with red cocktail sauce, green beans flavored with crunchy almonds, and cranberry relish. It'd taken Lucy's mother more than a week to make all the food and clean the house.
After everyone had finished eating and the dishes were washed, Lucy's Aunt Helen sat down at the piano and began tickling the ivories. Soon the whole family was gathered around the piano and singing Christmas carols.
But nobody was paying attention to where Lucy was, so she grabbed her jacket and slipped outside. The untainted sky above Lucy was pitch black, and then a tiny, white light appeared in the sky. For a moment Lucy didn't understand what it could be, but then it started getting brighter in the bleak sky.
" You're smiling down on me Mrs. Price," she said with a smile, but tears