Short Story



Untitled Poem

Were I but by your side
I would throw myself against thee;
And speak not within the limits of words
But allow my lips to greet thee all the same.
How strange it is!
Thy chapped and roughened fingers
Might be comparable
To the gardener's hand
That grows the sweetheart roses ?
For how could such weathered palms
Seem so soft upon my cheek?
It seems a year since last
I saw my reflection in thine eyes ?
A mirror which doth flatter ?
And yet your truth doth tell.
The soul does not know time!
It seems eternity since we have last spoken ?
Or has it been only few moments? ?
Since I have greeted thee ?
Or until I shall greet thee ?
My love.

11th grader
Haworth NJ, USA
I wrote this one when I was working at a Shakespeare camp, and I was thoroughly saturated with the language of the Bard...thanks   to anyone who read it!
Afraid to Love

She is wearing my shirt,
But not in a good way.
She is saying she’s cold,
Without whispering a word.
She is here with me,
But so far away.
She won’t even look at me.
She can’t stand to touch me.
Does she love me still?
Who can tell....
We don’t talk,
We just say words.
Everything is gone,
Now she’s slipping away.
She thinks about someone else,
While I think about her.
She’s afraid to say anything,
Afraid to leave.
Most of all,
She’s afraid to love.

Burlington, KY
My name is Max. Im 17 years old.
Break Me

Break you
How can I tell you,
The hand that makes you
Will break you
Will break me down.
How can I show you
The thoughts that cage you
Will break you
Will break me down
How can I tell you
The dreams that haunt you
Will taunt you
Will break me down.
How can I show you
The voices that lie to you
Will die in you
Will break me down
How can I tell you
The cuts that free you
Will be you
Will break me down
How can I show you
The pills that delude you
Will subdue you
Will break me down.
How can I tell you
The people who leave you
Will deceive you
Will break me down.

11th grader
i'm just here to write and get by.
You Never Know Who's Watching

“Humans are such easy prey.” said Ethan to himself as his feeding teeth slid back into their
hiding place. The dim lights of New York City glowed faintly around him. His victim’s
blood had warmed him and the dawn wasn’t far away.  It was almost time to return to his
apartment and sleep. Sleep the day away. His mind drifted and he found himself listening
to the thoughts of the others around him. “I hate this city,” and “Men are so hateful,” were
some that Ethan heard. He laughed quietly to himself, loving his ability to read minds, and
his ability to talk telepathically. He quickened his pace, eager to get home. He was a block
away from his refuge, when a dark figure slid in front of him. It was a stray slayer holding
a wooden stake, just inches above his chest.
The slayer spoke. “You are dead vampire. You are dead like the person who’s life
you just sucked away.”
“No, I am not,” Ethan said to his opponent. His voice did not waver. The sound of
fear wasn’t present. The slayer was surprised at how calm Ethan sounded, considering
there was a death tool hovering above the most precious area of his body. “I wouldn’t
recommend doing that if I were you. You never know who’s watching.” 
Another figure stepped out of the shadows. Ethan heard what the slayer was
thinking. He could feel the tenseness in him, and could hear the anxiety in his voice. Ethan
wasn’t nervous at all. All he said to the shadow was, “It’s about time.”
The slayer heard a feminine voice. “You know me. I like to make an entrance,” It
said. Ethan smiled at her remark, then turned back to the slayer.
“I warned you,” was all he said, and pulled out something from his back pocket. A
small handgun. “Now get out of my face right now, or I will have no choice other than to
put one of these bullets right through your chest. What a coincidence. Right where you
planned to put that stake through me.”
“You are lucky, slayer. The last one that tried this with Ethan disappeared off the
face of the Earth. Actually, he got shot. But, he must be feeling gracious tonight, so run
weakling! Run like there’s no tomorrow. Run before he changes his mind.” The slayer,
looking petrified, took her advice. He ran. He ran like there was no tomorrow.
Once the slayer was out of sight, Ethan turned to the female who distracted the
slayer. “You should’ve shot him Ethan. He was intent on killing you, you should’ve shown
no mercy and killed him.”
He smirked and shook his head. “So it’s true Elisabeth. Brothers and sisters are
never alike. I’m not like you at all am I?”
“My dear younger brother, we have much in common. But it is obvious, that I am
a much more experience vampire than you. So I forgive you.” She turned on her heels and
started walking away. Ethan caught up with her and they walked home. Arm in arm, like
they were little kids again. Always prepared for the unexpected, because you never know
who’s watching.
10th grader
Nanaimo, Canada
About the author of You Never Know Who's Watching. I like writing poetry and stories, and I am currently writing a novel on vampires. My goal is to try and get it published, or at least get a rejection letter, proving that I can complete something.
A New Friend

Hectic! Teachers yelling, kids rushing, it’s the first day of school once again at Seattle West High School for the lonesome Kyle Martin. Only two more time-consuming years and I will be outta this dump, Kyle told himself. So many new and terrifying questions were flowing through the junior’s mind… will it be as dreadful as last year? Will I make at least one single friend? None of those questions were haunting the sixteen-year-old redhead’s mind the previous year when he was a sophomore. He was confident that his year would be successful. He moved from Spring Hills, California that August before that new school year with his best friend, Carl and his mom. Their moms wanted to start a touring business in Seattle, so they moved. Kyle and Carl were eager to make a new start; they thought that maybe the kids at their new high school would treat them like ordinary human beings instead of just “smart people”. They were always the smartest in their class because Carl’s Fathe!
r, who was a well turned-out and wealthy man, always wanted his only son to follow in his footprints. Kyle very much looked up to Carl’s father because Kyle never had a dad. He went to Carl’s dad’s house with him almost every time he went to visit him since his parents got divorced when he was eight.  Then one tragic day in January, it was really cold and it was raining so the road turned to ice. There was a car accident and Carl’s mom died. Everyone was devastated but more than ever Carl was because it was basically all he had ever had since he can really remember well, except for Kyle and Kyle’s mom. Carl hasn’t seen his dad since the August before. He was still back in Spring Hills. Carl had no choice though to go and move back to live with him, his awful wife and three kids. That made Kyle really depressed because Kyle’s mom was always working to make ends meet and he had no one to be with all spring and summer long except his delightful golden retriever dog, Sandy.
“Hey Kyle!” yelled Mr. Bell, down the front hallway of school. “Hello Mr. Bell” “How was your summer?” “Umm…ok I guess. You?” I went to a education for new students course.” “ Oh cool.” “Did you learn a lot?” asked Kyle just trying to make conversation. “Yeah, actually I did, so how would you like to help me out in Freshman Algebra 2 this year during your 2nd study hall?”  “Yeah that would be fun, Mr. Bell. “See ya then”, answered Mr. Bell. “Bye”. What do I have better to do then that? Kyle thought to himself. I mean I have no friends to be with, no clubs to go to…oh well. There was no way he could try out for any sports. What coach would want a small scrawny pale boy?
When he got to first period it was just like every first day of the first year, safety procedures to go over, attendance, seating places, books, explaining the years events, getting to be acquainted with your classmates, just the same old same old. When it was finally lunch, Kyle got shy. He forgot he would have to choose a seat with someone. Last year, he had Carl and Mr. Bell to sit with. It wasn’t that bad with Mr. Bell after Carl left. He always had someone to talk to. Well, Kyle thought to himself, I guess I will just sit by myself until someone comes along to sit with me. At the end of the lunch period Kyle was still sitting there all by himself. He didn’t really mind it, in fact he was used to being alone. He wanted a little time by himself. At the end of the day Kyle went to his locker and got all his books and went home with out talking to anyone all day except for elderly Mr. Bell. Poor Kyle felt lonely once again.
To his surprise when he was walking home he saw a moving truck. “Wow”, Kyle said,” I wonder who’s moving in?” “Hmm, I wonder if its Carl’s old house.” “I guess I will just have to wait and see.”  He walked into the first building. “Good Afternoon Kyle.” Hi Mrs. Danbury” “Here’s your new key, the janitor just fixed it so it will be different than Carl’s old key.” “ Thanks, do you know what complex the new people are moving into?” questioned Kyle “Why yes, actually I think it may be Carl’s previous residence. ” answered Mrs. Danbury. “Oh really!?” Kyle replied in excitement. He hurried away across the lawn to his rather large brick house with white doors and windows. He stepped in with one foot and tossed his school stuff on the carpeted entryway. I’ll pick that stuff up later he thought. Then he quickly walked up to his new neighbors to welcome them. It looked to him from afar that they were quite a little family with no men at all. “Hello, Welcome to the area. I’m Kyle Mart!
in and I live in the house next to you.” “Why hello Kyle, I’m Mrs. Robson.” “That’s my daughter Cathy over there and my granddaughters Julie and Sarah.” “My other grandchildren are being dropped off soon after sunset.” “You look about the same age as my Julie, who is 16 and Sarah is 13.” “Oh, I’m 16” said Kyle interested.” “ Will Julie be going to Seattle West?” “Yes she will be attending that school next week.” “We figured we would let her settle in and be able to start a new week.” “Oh ok, well I guess I will see you later, if u would please send Julie and Sarah over to meet me when they are done getting settled in and I will tell my mother to stop by to meet you.” “Okay Thanks Kyle for your help, farewell.” said Mrs. Robson happily. She seems pleasant Kyle thought to himself.
When Kyle got home he thought that Miss Julie Robson was perfect. Even though he hasn’t said a single word to her, he felt instant attraction. He kept letting his dog out just to a steal a look at her. He wondered if she noticed him checking her out. He wished that they would become friends more than anything.
 Ding Dong! “Oh my God that must be her.” Kyle said as he jumped off the couch from where he had been watching television. Quick stop by the restroom to check his complexion. All right, I’m ready. He takes a big breath then he quickly opens the door and introduces himself. “Hey I’m Kyle, come in.” “Thanks, I I’m Julie and this is Sarah one of my little sisters.” “Hi” says Sarah timidly. “What brings you to Seattle?” asked Kyle. “Oh, umm…” Julie pauses for a moment then answers in a sorrowful voice, “ My parents died last week in a train accident along with my little brother Jack, so my siblings and I had to move in with my grandmother and aunt here in Washington.” Oh… I’m so extremely sorry.” Kyle whispers, “ I feel what you are going through.” “Thanks for your support”, said Julie thoughtfully. “The only good thing about there passing away is I got to move away. I hated Oklahoma.” “Wow, you are from far away, this must be a huge change for you.” He said interested  “Yes, I !
guess it is but I am already adjusting.” “ I adore my grandma and aunt and I know I will have a good fresh life with them. There are some other ups as well as moving.” “The food is better than my brothers cooking and I live in a much larger house so I hope there will be room for all of us.” “In my own house we only had two bathrooms and 3 bedrooms for 11 children.” “Wow, your lucky you have brothers and sisters!” said Kyle. I have never had anyone besides my mom and Carl, my best friend who used to live in your house.” “Oh, Do you miss him a lot?” questioned Julie. “Yeah I do.” “Well, I got to get going, grandma said my sisters and brothers would be arriving soon.” Okay well I guess I will see ya around.” “Yes, I guess you will.” “Ciao.”
After Julie and Sarah left Kyle went and sat down by the television. He couldn’t get Julie out of his head.
“Kyle, I’m home!” yelled his mother as she walked into the big house. “Hey mom!” “Guess what!” “What?” “We have new neighbors and they are really nice!” “They have a girl my age who is really cool.” “Oh really, that’s nice Kyle.” “I told Mrs. Robson you would come over and introduce yourself.” “Oh ok, Thanks.” “ I will go over in a little bit.” “So honey, what did you have for dinner tonight?” “Sorry I’m late.” “ I got held up.” “Oh that’s ok, mom.” “I had some leftover chicken.” “Oh ok, well I’m going to go take a shower then I’m going to the new neighbors.” “Do your homework. ” she said with a strict voice. “Yeah, I will mom.” “C ya.”
While Kyle was doing his homework he couldn’t get his mind off of Julie.” “Her lengthy light blonde hair, deep blue eyes, kind smile.” “Her attitude wasn’t bad either.” “She was basically everything Kyle looked for in a girl and in a friend.”
The next two days went by quickly. School got better and Kyle even started to enjoy lunch. It was a free time when he could think about life. Mostly all about Julie. When he got home from school Julie was outside.  “Hey Julie!” “Hey what’s up?” “Nothing, I was just going to go see the new movie that came out today, want to come?” “Umm sure yeah, I’ll be ready in ten minutes.” “Ok I’ll meet you at your house.” said Kyle happily.  Oh boy was Kyle excited, he took a quick shower, gelled his hair and even put on a little of his and Carl’s old cologne that they bought for his dad but never gave it to him. Before he left he realized how little time he had been paying to Sandy. He petted him for a couple minutes and talked to him how he used to. He new that Sandy appreciated it.  Kyle drove into the next driveway in his black Jeep. He just got in washed the night before so it was sparkly and shiny. He quickly got out and practically ran for the doorbell.
Julie answered the door. She looked great in her light blue tank top that matched her eyes perfectly. “Hey Julie are you ready to go?” “Yup!” she replied cheerfully.  In the car and at the movies they just had a great time.” “They talked about life, friends, music and movies.” It was such a coincidence that they both had their favorite band, which was New Found Glory because it is so unknown. The also both treasured the series of books, Harry Potter. The movie of Harry Potter was also their favorite movie. They made plans to see the second one together. When Kyle got home that Friday night he felt great and reassured that him and Julie were going to become close! He hadn’t felt that happy in a long time.
The weekend went by leisurely. He didn’t see Julie that much. Only once. They talked for about forty-five minutes about school. She had all sorts of questions for him. They made plans to drive to school together on Monday morning. Sunday night Julie called Kyle because she got her schedule and wanted to see if they had any of the same classes together. They had Math, History and Lunch. Yes! Kyle was jumping for joy! Julie said she would sit with Kyle at lunch.
Ok, its Monday morning! Kyle’s really excited to see Julie and talk to her. They haven’t even known each other for a week and it seems to him that they are already really good friends. He wondered if Julie felt the same way. He also had scary thoughts running through his mind like the first day of school. Will Julie be popular? Will Julie make fun of Kyle just to be like everyone else? Kyle didn’t think that she would but he wasn’t sure. It sure didn’t sound like her to him. When Julie got in the car she admitted that she had some butterflies in her stomach. He reassured her that everything was going to be ok. The car ride was mostly silent on the way to school, which was kind of awkward. Kyle didn’t want to think anything was coming in between them so he blamed it on it being 7:00 in the morning. When they got to school Kyle directed Julie to the office then began his day. During history Kyle was Julie’s partner. Then in Math, Julie sat next to Kyle and they got in trouble!
 for talking too much. Kyle rejoiced! He had never been told to stop talking before like all the average kids. Lunch was the absolute high light of the day. They totally connected with so many things. It made Kyle really like Julie and Kyle didn’t know it but Julie really liked Kyle too. At the end of the day Julie stayed after for cheer tryouts and Kyle drove home. Julie was on his mind 100 percent of the way. He wondered if Julie was thinking about him too.
At Julie’s tryout she began talking with some girls named Ashley and Kara. Supposedly they were really popular so Julie felt really special. She was enjoying it a lot. It made her feel wanted on the first day. They invited her to sleepover on Friday at Ashley’s. She gratefully accepted the invention. On the bus ride home she was so excited! She wondered what would happen. She had never been to a popular girls sleepover before, just ones with her cousins and best friend from Oklahoma, Alyssa. In the movies they did the same things she and Alyssa did. Painted nails, did makeup, styled each other’s hair, talked about boys, and watched movies, played games, talked on the phone with boys that they liked. All Julie knew is that she was really thrilled. When she got home the first thing she did was call Kyle and tell him the great news.
Kyle was thinking well about this. How could Ashley and Kara all of a sudden just pick and choose girls to be there friends?  Usually it was a long process. Kyle was concerned but didn’t want to say anything to Julie. He was to scared that he might hurt her feelings and he would absolutely never want to do that.
The next day at school during their classes together he saw how really excited Julie was.  She was telling him how much fun she was going to have and how she had always wanted to be apart of the crowd. Kyle felt jealous in a way he couldn’t figure out. He knew that Julie was still his best friend but he felt like they were growing apart.
The week went by fast. Julie made the cheerleading squad, she was really proud of herself. Kyle was really proud of her too. On Friday at lunch, she was going over the sleepover plans. “I’m supposed to be there at 5 o’clock on the dot.” She said happily. She was eating really fast so you could tell how wound up she was. At the end of the day he wished her luck. She hugged him. YAY!! Kyle got so joyful! He was smiling from ear to ear and blushing a deep scarlet.
Its Saturday afternoon and its raining. Kyle is miserable. His mom is working and his dog is sick. It is really time for Julie to come home. He decided to go online and write an email to Carl.
To: coolcarl12
From: flyinkyle81

Hey Carl, what’s up? How is Spring Hills? Do you like your new private school? School her is gay just like always. Guess what I have some cool news!  A couple weeks ago a family moved into your old house. There was a girl my age. Her name is Julie. Oh my god she is everything smart, pretty, kind, respectful, athletic and the great part is that we are such good friends. But don’t worry she will never take the place of you. I miss you a lot. Call me when you get this I have so many things to tell you. Can’t wait to hear from you dude…    Peace out~

Shortly after that Julie called with news about her sleepover. She said it wasn’t as she planned. The girls totally ignored her most of the time. They asked her all sorts of weird questions, like about her family. They didn’t even seem to care at all about her deiced parents. All they did the whole time was talk about how “gay” some people were and there clothes. They made fun of everyone for the stupidest reasons. Like if they were poor, ugly, fat, dorky, acne faced, pale, fashion stupid, too smart, too dumb, too skinny, and too muscular. It made her really fed up she said. But what Julie didn’t share with Kyle was the part about him. When the girls asked Julie about Kyle she made up a whole bunch of crap that wasn’t true because she thought it was her time to fit in. She said he was really poor and his grandparents pay for everything that he has. Which was an entire lie because matter of fact Kyle is very well off and his grandparents are dead.
When Kyle got to school Monday morning the word got out everywhere that he was underprivileged. People he didn’t even know went up to him and said they were sorry and some snickered at him. He asked Mr. Bell what was going on and he understood that there was a rumor going around that Julie started. He said the rumor was that he was very poor and couldn’t pay for anything of his clothes, food or bills. His grandparents and the government paid for it all. Kyle got really mad. Not mad, Furious! He felt like he did the first day of school depressed and useless. He was so embarrassed and heartbroken that precious sweet innocent Julie would ever say something that rude and wrong about an individual that was believed to be her best friend? He was so depressed that he cried himself to sleep and didn’t wake up until that morning. He decided that he needed some fresh air because his room was really stuffy so he stepped outside. There was a letter from Julie.

Dear Kyle,
Hey, I’m really sorry about what happened. I wasn’t thinking at all when I said all of that stuff. It just sort of came out. I can’t really explain it. Everyone else was talking about someone and I thought I had to have a good story to fit in, which was definitely wrong. I should have just told the truth, which is that you are a sweet charming 16 year old boy that has nothing appalling about him. I’m really really sorry and I hope you accept my request for forgiveness. Ashley and Kara discarded me as their friend. They said that they didn’t want to be friends with a liar so I guess I lost both ways. I really want to be your friend again & forever and I’m really upset that I broke our perfect closeness. You are my best friend. I know that I don’t give the impression of a terrific best friend right now because I messed up gigantically and I really want to make it up to you in any way that I can. So if you have any ideas I would be willing to do anything. Get back to me a.s.a.p!
! You know the number. I hope to hear from you soon. I understand if I don’t because I would be very mad if my supposedly best friend made up a nasty rumor like that too. I miss you and I’m sooooo sorry once again. And I think I love you. Bye!
                                   Forever and always,
                                            Julie J

The letter defiantly put a grin on Kyle’s face. He was really happy to hear from Julie. When he thought about it he actually really missed her a lot.
Kyle went in his room and thought about the letter for a little bit. He decided that he was going to forgive Julie and become friends again. He and Carl were never really in a big fight before so he related to the movies on this one. He always hated how people dragged out the problems and were in a fight for a long time. He always thought in those situations why can’t u just shake and make up? So he decided to call Julie.
Kyle: Hey Julie this is Kyle.
Julie: Hi, how are you?
Kyle: I’m ok now, you?
Julie: I’ve been worried all day I thought you would never call. So what do you think about the letter? What do you have to say?
Kyle: I say that I forgive you and I really cherished the letter. I can tell you wrote it from your heart, thanks. It makes me happy to know that you feel that way about me. I just wanted you to know that I also feel that way about you.
Julie: Really?! Yay! I thought u absolutely hated me…
Kyle: I did but then I realized how you felt always wanting to fit in. and I had to forgive you sometime. It might as well just be now.
Julie: Well, I’m really happy. I have to go because dinners ready. I will talk to you tomorrow, bye
Kyle: Okay, bye.
After Kyle hung up the phone with Julie, for the first time, he felt sincerely happy about himself. He realized that maybe Carl’s moving was for the better. Even though he would never forget Carl, maybe he needed someone knew to be friends with or maybe even more than friends. J Kyle fell asleep happy that night for once in a really long time, and he was pretty sure it was going to be that way for a long time.

8th grader
Palatine, IL
About the author of A New Friend. She is super cool!! :)
Cruel Intentions

You went and left me abandoned
So now the wounds are expanded
You have never been near
So now I fail to hear.
Maybe it wasn't your fault,
You could've been stranded.

My heart and soul are no longer needed
My powers have gone and are now depleted
He doesn't want me any more
Nor did he ever, that I know for sure.
My life was better ended
The sun still would've shone forever more.

Never in my life did I ever doubt you
I believed so much my life wouldn't always be without you
Till that day comes you know you can find me here
When it does arrive I will jangle and cheer.
I know I'll see you
Again my dear.

I waited and waited by the door
Sitting right next to it, crouching on the floor
Listening out for that precious knock
Hoping that if I fail to hear, you will pick the lock.
Waiting for so long now I begin to roar.

You never came now I feel deceived
You should've been proud about the thing you had received
You never came
Did you even think of my name?
There you got your own way, now are you relieved?

Your life is better , not ended
But your issues seriously need to be mended
My father you were wrong
But now I'm going strong.
I'm sorry if you're offended
Believe me, this is not what I intended.

10th grader
About the author of Cruel Intentions.  My name is Natasha and I am 15 years old.  I am a fanatic about all sports especially rugby and basketball.  I've never been into writing but lately this has been my new hobby.  Cruel intentions is basically about the troubles and feelings I have had throughout my life with my father or should I say without my father.
Sweet Heart

Sweet Heart
he is a sweetheart
he would never try to break my heart
he has the most beautiful smile
it reaches a thousand miles
his cute face
his little Puerto Rican race
his sly grin
his funny/cute chin
I smile, he laughs
he's so pure, just like glass
8th grade
Yonkers, New York
About the author of Ashley. I have been wanting to publish my writing ever since my english teacher inspired me. Now this is a place where I can express myself
Untitled Short Story

Jez walked the dark streets. It was a warm night, the moon's glow lighting her way. She had been many places, but she'd never been to one quite so...desolate. Expecting a tumbleweed to cross her path at any moment, she kept her eyes on the lookout. Her hair hung limp in her face. It was chin-length, and dark. She'd always considered it a burden, but others always seemed to envy it. Many people, she found, had envied her beauty. No one seemed to care about who she was, but everyone seemed to care what she looked like. A puddle of water stood before her, and she maneuvered her black boots around it. <Not now,> she thought to herself. <I'm safe here.>
She finally came to a town. It was small, but there were endless forests around it, and it looked inviting. She needed a place to rest. Then, she spotted a park with a little path leading to a fountain. Settling her backpack more comfortably on her shoulders, Jez made her way to the sound of the running water. She splashed it on her face. It was cool and refreshing, but her nerves were getting to her, and she realized just how bad things had gotten. Weeping, utter loneliness consumed her.
"Miss? Are you alright?" A voice asked. A gentle hand took hold of her own and pulled her to her feet. She dared not look at the man. "Are you hurt?" Still she didn't answer, her eyes on his shiny black shoes. She built up enough courage to meet his eyes, and she couldn't help but gasp. They were the most beautiful eyes she'd ever seen. It wasn't the color, for they were just a plain brown, but the understanding and caring in them. She wanted to spill out all her pain to those sympathetic eyes.
"I'm alone. I'm afraid..." wiping away the tears, she gathered herself back together. "I-I'm afraid that I don't know where I am." She managed. "Could you help me?"
A smile almost appeared. "Of course. You're in Maple Ridge, Maine. Isn't it lovely here?" "Yes. It is."
 "Forgive me for invading your privacy, but do you need somewhere to stay?"
"I'm sorry, but I don't think...I don't KNOW you..."
He smiled this time, almost grinned. "Believe me, you have nothing to worry about. Allow me to introduce myself. I'm Daniel Forrester." He stuck out a hand. It was smooth, and Jez imagined it as the hand of a man who'd never done any hard labor. She shook it politely.
"My name's..." she stopped. She expected her name would raise his eyebrows. Her mother had named her after one of the most notorious women in history, a Bible figure, and most people gave her a strange look whenever she told them her name. "I'm Jezebel Malone." But she was wrong. He made no kind of reaction, except to say that it was pretty.
"It's nice to meet you, Jezebel. The church is right over there," he pointed, "if you'd like to come with me." Surprise made her stop in her tracks. Church? Of course, he was a priest! She felt like slapping herself for not seeing it. He was dressed in all black, dark hair short and neat.
Tentatively, Jez followed him into his large, beautiful church. The walls were sparkling white. Polished wood pews lined either side of a long, maroon carpet leading up to the pulpit. A glossy, black baby-grand piano sat next to the cherry-wood stairs leading up the side of the...she didn't know what to call it. It was probably the stage the choir stood on. The most striking feature in the church was a stained glass window of Christ leading three tiny lambs to pasture. She gazed at the window. It was so beautiful.
 "Your church is gorgeous, Father."
"Please, Jezebel, call me Daniel. Everyone else does." He showed her to a small, cozy room. It was cheery, with a pale yellow bed-spread and curtains. "Here you go. You can rest here tonight. The bathroom's right through this door. Are you hungry?"
"Yes sir, uh Daniel." She was bewildered by his hospitality, but remembered that was part of his job. Then again, he seemed like a very understanding person. And she tried not to look in his eyes, for fear she might collapse and tell him too much. He left the room and came back a few minutes later with a tray of food.
"Here you go. Get some sleep. Tomorrow, maybe we can talk?" His eyes caught hers. She nodded. "Good. See you tomorrow."
After her meal, Jezebel fell into a sound sleep. She was overwhelmed by all that had happened to her. She'd never felt so welcome anywhere, but Father Forrester treated her with a kindness that she'd never seen before. She'd never been religious, but she knew a lot about the Catholic faith. So when she awoke the next morning in her soft bed, she wasn't surprised to hear glorious singing. She went into the bathroom and showered, changing into some freshly washed and ironed clothes that were laid out for her. Timidly stepping through the doors into the hallway, she followed the magnificent voice of the priest whom she'd met the night before. He spoke with passion and conviction, so unlike the soft and soothing tones he had used with her.
"How are my friends this morning? I should hope you are all in good faith. Mrs. Tenneman, who you all know has been a resident of this community for seventy-four years, passed away yesterday. The memorial is being held tomorrow, Monday, and I wish all of you could make it." His tone faded from passion to sadness, all his emotions apparent. "Let's take a moment of silence this morning to remember our good friend." The congregation quieted itself, heads bowed in prayer. Jezebel did the same, even though she had never met the woman. She'd been to numerous religious gatherings, many Catholic, but none of them had involved personal events. Several people stood and shared stories about the old woman, some as simple as how good her cooking had been. But Jez hardly heard them, her focus entirely on the man clad in black at the front of the church.
After the ceremony was finished, Daniel retreated to a small parlor. He sat in a comfy chair and waited for her. She appeared at the doorway, and he motioned for her to sit across from him. Doing so, Jezebel decided to speak up.
"I heard your...speech...about Mrs. Tenneman. You care about everyone here, don't you?" He nodded at her question. "You're not like other priests..."
"How many do you know?" He teased her.
"Well, you're the first I've actually met. But, all of the others were cold, indifferent. I never really thanked you last night."
"You were tired. Tell me, did you sleep well?"
"Good. If you'd like, you can stay here as long as you want. But, I need someone to do some...um 'housework' for me. I'm afraid I'm not very good at it, and this old church could use a woman's touch. All I could offer you is a small salary, and a place to stay..." Her eyes brightened.
"I would love to help you, Fath- uh Daniel." She found it hard to call him Daniel. He seemed so aloof, mischief and wonder hiding behind his gaze.
"Thank you, Jezebel."
She studied him everyday. She followed his every move from the time he went into the kitchen in the morning, to the time he got ready for bed. He wasn't much of a priest, really. At mealtimes, he silently moved his lips for a few seconds, but never made her pray with him. She never saw him actually open a Bible, or any other holy scripture for that matter. He was an odd fellow in general. Every time she looked into his unfathomable eyes, she got a strange feeling. It reminded her of a poem that she once read. It was called, 'Splendor in the Grass.' He found goodness and peace in everything: the sky, the grass, the birds that perched on the branches of the trees right outside the church. And she could see it all in his eyes. Every morning, Daniel would get up, shower and dress, and meet her in the kitchen. He'd make himself a pot of tea, filling his cup with the hot liquid and two spoonfuls of honey. Daniel would then sit at the table and enjoy the tea, smelling it and savori!
ng its warmth. Jez watched him, wondering what made him see things the way he did. He didn't seem that close to God. Actually, he never even talked about God with her. They always spoke like close friends, something she treasured. After his tea, Daniel would take his shoes and socks off, and go outside to get the mail. He took his time, often stopping to wiggle his toes in the grass or the dirt. She would find herself longing to join him, but never did. He was so innocent, everything about him, and she was not.
 He assigned her small tasks: cleaning the windows, vaccuming, dusting, cooking, and so on. Once in a while, he would send her to the store. It was a small town, so the store was just up the road. The first day she entered the little shop, a friendly grey-haired man greeted her from behind the counter.
"Hello young lady, may I help you? Oh, I've seen you at church. You're helping out Daniel? That's a fine, good man. Wouldn't you agree?" Jezebel just nodded, smiling.
A curvy red-head next to them whispered to another woman, "Yeah. What a waste. He's one fine looking man, too." Blushing, Jez pretended not to hear them. She got everything on his list, and went out into the sunlight after saying goodbye to the man behind the counter. She did consider Daniel good looking. He was neat, lean and trim, always in black. But his entrancing eyes filled her thoughts. He wanted to get to know more about her, but she didn't give in. He hardly asked her about herself, though, just made simple conversation, laughing and joking like anyone else. They didn't discuss his relationship to his God. He didn't insist she call him Father, and didn't patronize her or call her 'my child' or anything like that. And he wouldn't make her listen to his sermons on Sundays. But she went anyway, just to hear the way he changed when he donned his preaching voice.
He sat her in a chair across from him one day, "You've been here for three months. I consider you a good friend. Something is bothering you, and I want you to tell me what it is."
"I love you, Daniel."
"I love you, too." He said back.
"No, not like that. I am in love with you. I know you can never feel the same way about me, but I thought you should know..."
He sat still and quite for a while, pondering, before replying. "It's okay. It's not your fault. People fall in love all the time. It's supposed to be natural, I guess. But I'm not natural. I'm abnormal, actually. I mean, think about it. What kind of nut pledges to a God who is argued to even exist in the first place?" She laughed. "I have a life, too. My life isn't entirely this church. It isn't all about God. But, I've found that you can live a fuller, richer life if you live without sin. Do you understand what I mean?"
"Yes. I've seen it in your eyes. You look at things as if for the first time, every time. It's like you don't think that bad things are even there. You look at me like I'm a good person”
"But you are a good person, Jezebel."
 "How would you know? You don't know anything about me. No one does."
 "I know enough. I know that you're good to other people. You're respectful, and thankful for what you've been given. And you're loving and trusting. Just because you don't believe in the same things as I do, doesn't mean that I should condemn you. You know that. You're a friend, not someone I'm going judge."
 "Thank you. I showed up here very suddenly, and you took me in and gave me hope when there was none. You are the most wonderful man, no the most wonderful person, that I've ever met."
 "Hey, what can I say. I was born to do this."
 "Yeah," she admitted regretfully, "I guess you were."
It was several weeks later that she noticed a change in the atmosphere of the town. They had warmed to her immediately, but now they were trying to help her, as well. It was a heart-warming experience, to have people giving you gentle shoves and steering you in the right direction. She didn't feel lost. She wasn't running anymore. She wasn't trying to escape her past. There was a time when Jezebel was alone and lost. She thought that getting away would make the pain go away, but it just worsened. There had always been something missing in her life, but when she ended up in Maple Ridge, she found the pain had disappeared.
Daniel dressed and readied for bed at exactly nine o'clock each night. He was an extremely routine person, just one of the many things she admired about him. He always wore cotton pajamas, and she loved that. And at nine-thirty, he would be asleep. But one night, he broke his routine and went into the chapel. He sat at the lovely baby grand piano, his graceful hands barely touching the keys.
 "Would you like me to play for you?" He asked her. He was in his PJs, and they looked funny on him seated before such an instrument. She nodded with enthusiasm. She'd never heard him play. He started with a few notes, then the tempo increased, and he played dark, heavy chords. And to her delight, he sang for her. He had an angelic voice, so full of character and gentle masculinity, she could hardly believe her ears.
"I tried to get over you, I tried to find something new, But all I could ever do, Was fill my time with thoughts of you. I tried to go somewhere old, To search for my pot of gold, But all I could ever hold, Inside my mind were thoughts of you."
His fingers played rapidly, the tune was both lively and beautiful.
"I hear your music and it's driving me wild, Familiar rhythms in a different style, I hear your music and it's driving me wild again. Oh, don't wanna' let you take me down. Don't wanna' get hurt a second time around. Don't wanna' walk that lonely road again, no."
 She smiled and clapped. He was incredible. “
Jezebel, thank you for listening. I wanted to show you something that I like to do that doesn't involve the Lord." He joked with her. She marveled at his innocence. The song he had just sung was about loss and heartache, something he had never really known. And, she had to let go of him. He wasn't a man who was going to love her any more than he would love the grey-haired man behind the counter at the market, or that red-headed woman, or old Mrs. Tenneman who'd passed away. He was completely and utterly innocent of any kind of real love for her. But she accepted it because she truly did love him. She loved him for all his quirkiness, all his idiosyncrasies, his beautiful and understanding eyes. But most of all, she loved him because he could show her how to live with the world and he could help her forget her pain.

10th grader
Rose County, MI, USA
I really love this story, only because it helps me see that no matter how much we love someone and they don't love us back, there's still hope because they can help you in other ways.
I am...

I am normal in my own way
I am fun but boring
I am unknown but right here, right now

I am with friends but yet I still don't speak
I am rejoicing but mourning
I am talking even though I haven't much to say

I am absurd but realistic
I am standing still but reacting
I am singing and dancing under all of my outer embarrassment

I am unbreakable but sensitive
I am creative but lost in my creation
I am adventurous but need a roadmap

I am intelligent but know nothing of importance
I am insightful but without vision
I am left handed but right minded

I am human

9th grader
Kingston, New York
About the author of I am...
i am 14, i love art, and i play soccer.

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