Anonymous

     A lot of people have heard the story of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf,” but only a few know the true story. On a cold night in December, a young boy was sent to watch for wolves eating thelivestock. This quite upset me, as I wouldn’t have enough food for the winter without one of their fine sheep. I decided that I would walk right up to the boy and ask him for one sheep for the winter. However, as soon as I walked up, he began screaming “Wolf! Wolf!” I saw the villagers run up with their pitchforks and torches, so I ran back into the forest.

     A few days later, I decided to try again, so I walked right up to the boy and said“Now, I do not have enou-”

     “Wolf! Wolf! Eating the sheep!”

     I again saw the villagers running up the hill with their pitchforks and torches, so I ran back into the forest again, without any food to keep for the winter.

     A few days later, again, I was already running low on food that I had for storage. I snuck right up to the boy and asked: “Young man I need a sheep so that I may live through the winter.

     ”The boy turned to look at me and yelled, “Wolf! Wolf! Help me!”

     I looked down the hill to check if the villagers were coming up with their pitchforks and torches, and I saw them coming up the hill again, but slowly. I knew that if they saw me, they would not take as long the next time.

     I came up with another plan as I jumped back into the woods. I would sneak up and ask him one last time if I could have a sheep, and if he yelled for the villagers once again, I would eat him whole and take all of the sheep for myself. So I walked right up to the boy and asked,“Sir, may I have a word with you? I have been very hungry this winter, and I would very much appreciate one sheep to take home with me to allow me to survive this winter.

     ”The boy looked over at me once again, and hollered, “Wolf! Help me!”

     I opened my mouth up wide, pounced on the young boy, and swallowed him up whole. I turned around to look down the hill, and I saw no villagers running up the hill. I was surprised, but took my luck and all of the sheep and led them to my little house in the woods.


“Mother Knows Best”

Addie Churby, Grade 10

     My name is Gothel. I live in a tower in the kingdom of Corona. Under the rule of the king and queen, people lived a happy life. I was a wee bit of a social outcast, a loner if you will. I had always wanted a child. To be blessed with one, I grew a magical flower. Made out of pure magic and the drops of the sun, I was blessed with the sundrop flower. This flower can bless me with the youth I need to have a child. 

     I prayed day and night for the flower to finally allow me to have a child. That day never came to me. Those despicable guards found my flower. I had just run out of the magic that made me young, so I went to pray. I watched behind a tree as the guards clipped the flower. The magic was draining from it. Somehow, they ended up preserving it. The head guard yelled some commands. I watched as they rode off into the dark, midnight woods. 

     I couldn’t let my only hope of having a child be taken from me. So, I hurried after them on my horse. I made sure to stay behind so that they wouldn’t hear my horse’s footsteps. I could no longer reach them after they crossed the bridge. I was too far behind them to cross the drawbridge. I sat there for a moment, pondering what else I could do. Just as I was about to give up, it hit me.

     I could wait until the arrival of their child. She would be mine, not theirs. They do not deserve a child after taking one from someone else. I turned around and rode home to my tower in the forest. If they want to take my magic, then so be it. 

     Two weeks later, they gave birth to a beautiful baby, my baby. I was there when they presented her to the village folk. She was gorgeous, just like her mother. Her true mother that is. That same night, I climbed up the vines to the sleeping quarters of the king and queen. And there she was, my baby girl. Slowly, I opened the balcony doors and walked over to her. 

     If this truly was my baby, then the magic would still be through her veins. I noticed she was unnaturally blonde-haired. I took out my scissors and snipped off some of her hair. The blonde faded and turned brown, just like the king and queen’s hair. I knew this was my baby. 

     I caused my poor girl to cry when I cut her hair, so the queen and king awoke. Just before they saw me, though, I was already off the balcony. I ran as fast as my decaying body could. Finally, I reached my horse. I put my baby safely on my lap and motioned for my horse to go. In the blink of an eye, my baby was returned to me. 

     Over the next few years, my baby Rapunzel was growing healthy and beautiful. She loved to paint, write, read, and brush her lovely hair. She was a very smart girl. However, she always loved the lanterns the king and queen would set off the day of her birth. They hoped she would come home. Guess what? She wouldn’t be. Her home is with me. She would remain here forever. Why? Well, mother always knows best. 


“Hello, My Name Is Anxiety”

Olivia Morris, Grade 12

Anxiety, cloaked in black, hiding their face from view, casts their menacing shadow on me. Closer than I realize, they breathe their despair-laden breath down my neck as I gasp for air. They delight in my reddened face and clammy hands. Anxiety, ever-present, replaces excitement with fear. I want to run, but I am trapped in their emotional quicksand; as every movement sinks me deeper. With arms that outnumber Durga and hands that grip like vices, they have me. Our frequent encounters have bred familiarity. Could we possibly be friends? Minimally understand each other? I turn to face my adversary and move closer so they can hear my trembling voice.  Where did they go? They tricked me into believing in them! I become aware that my mind fuels their existence. How have I spawned such a perilous companion? I notice they have dropped the key to my peace during our last tussle. I have reclaimed ownership of my thoughts. Farewell, Anxiety! Rest in Peace!


“The Stone House”

Anonymous

     My family and I had begun the journey on the Pike in April 1822. It was hard to find somewhere to stay or find somewhere to eat day-to-day. We had to go long stretches without stopping for a break. I was traveling along with my mother, father, and sister, Elizabeth. Elizabeth kept me busy most of the time, as it was my job to make sure she was safe and not doing anything to get herself in trouble. For the most part, though, she was good as she sat quietly and played with her dolls. One day, I overheard my father talking to another traveler. They were talking about a place called the Fayette Springs Hotel, and I heard the other traveler say it was not too far up the road. Later that day, we came upon a large house with a swing on the front porch. The sound of music filled the air as there were fiddlers playing beautiful songs to entertain the guests. My father had decided to stay there for the night, so we tied the horse up and headed inside. When we walked in, I was surprised to see how many people were there. There were people eating in the restaurant part, and throughout the rest of the house, everyone was dancing. Just as we began walking to an available room, a little boy came up behind me and tugged on my dress. “What’s your name?” he asked. I noticed he was holding a baby toy, even though he seemed to be around nine years old. “Annie,” I replied, “and this is my sister Elizabeth.” Elizabeth turned and smiled at the little boy. To our surprise, the boy just tilted his head and ran away. Elizabeth giggled and then turned and continued walking behind my parents. We got to our room and noticed that above the door it said “Monroe,” the name of our president. The view from our window was gorgeous and really highlighted the beauty of the mountain.  

     The next morning, we woke up and decided to eat breakfast. We walked down the stairs, and I noticed the little boy again. Curiously, I walked up to him and asked him his name. He smiled and replied, “James.” Elizabeth then whispered in my ear, “where are his parents?” This made me think and realize he was all alone last night, and as we were talking to him, he was standing alone towards the back of the room. Just as I had turned to ask him, he was gone. We carried on throughout our morning and then realized we were going to stay another night, as my father was not ready to continue our travels so soon. My sister and I played in the yard and explored the woods. When it was time for dinner, my sister and I got cleaned up and headed towards the dining area. My parents were sitting with another couple at a table. We sat down and began to eat. Throughout our meal, the man of the other couple we were sitting with kept telling us stories of his travels. My parents seemed very uninterested, but they did not want to be mean. Elizabeth then looked at me and said, “Annie, do you want to go explore?” So we excused ourselves from the table and walked upstairs. We noticed that the door to our room was open, so we went and closed it but saw that it was propped open with a coat rack. We walked in, and to our surprise, the little boy, James, we had met earlier was sitting on one of the beds. “What are you doing in here?” Elizabeth asked. “This is where I am supposed to stay; my dad told me to come here,” James replied. Elizabeth and I looked at each other curiously, and just as we went to ask another question, our parents walked in. “What’s going on?” they asked. Elizabeth said, “The little boy was in here when we walked in, and Annie and I were wondering why he was here.” “Who is James?” my mother asked. “The boy on the bed,” I answered. My father looked at me curiously and asked if we were playing games. Elizabeth and I then looked at the bed, and James was gone. While we were standing there in shock, my parents began talking about the couple they had talked to over dinner. My father said, “The gentleman was very educated on his presidents. He was talking all about President James Monroe and his family. He had actually stayed in this room, that’s why it is named after him. Did you know that he had a son who had died as a child? I forget what his name was. James, I’m assuming.” My sister and I looked at each other in shock and demanded we leave right then. 


“Anxiety”

Anonymous

     You take a stroll on a warm yet gloomy night, looking to escape him. Freedom from him is achieved when no thoughts are pulsating through the brain. Now, unfortunately, even a thought as minimal as this has called his name. He briskly walks from the alleyway with an absence of any light. The man is completely covered in his darkened cloak, which leaks into his jittery shadow. He stares at you but turns away the moment you give him even the slightest of glances. 

     The right arm of said man is tucked away into his pocket, as if he is gripping something at all times, while the left swings vigorously with every stride. This man will not walk past you; whenever he is allowed to catch up, he stays near. Do not run nor panic, as this is how he picks up on you. He inflicts no pain because that is your role. The beady eyes observing every breath, pressuring every movement in which you make, causing fear to something as peaceful as your nighttime stroll. Is this enough for you to cause pain; has anxiety done enough yet?

     His methods of what may be considered “attacks” are personalized. No two victims are the same, although some may have similar threats awaiting. When I personally race, study, or simply look to make my way out of a simple problem or frustration, I become his doll. He is the puppetmaster to my every move from then, breathing down my neck before the starting gunshot or whispering a million thoughts into my mind when I must focus. If anxiety makes the decision to stalk you, he will truly never leave. That, of course, is until he causes you or maybe even I to do “enough.”


“The Ghost Story of Two Men Who Didn’t Die”

Anonymous

     “Mr. Carnegie wants the library here?” exclaimed William, one of the many people who were working on building the Carnegie Library in Connellsville. 

     “Precisely,” replied Frank. Frank Bray was the on-site manager of the process. 

     “Does he know that this is a graveyard? What are we supposed to do about the bodies?” questioned another builder. 

     “Mr. Carnegie wants what Mr. Carnegie wants. You shall immediately remove these bodies and then we can get building. Andrew wants this done as quickly as possible,” answered Frank.  

     The next day, William and another worker, Harry, were assigned to dispose of the bodies. Once they arrived, the men decided that the easiest way to get the job done was teamwork. They both started digging up the grave of a woman named Elizabeth Alexander. After only thirty minutes, they reached the casket. Together, they lifted it onto the grass. Curiosity got the best of the men. 

     Harry asked, “Should we open it? Just to see?” 

     William couldn’t lie. He was curious too. Slowly, Harry opened it. Both were stunned to see the skeleton of Elizabeth lying there. Along with the remains, there was a gold necklace, a small pair of shoes and two wooden crosses. The men became sick. Quickly, the tomb was shut, sloppily thrown back into the ground and covered. 

     “We have to tell Frank that we can’t do this,” William said barely above a whisper.

     Angrily, Harry spoke, “We absolutely cannot do that. We won’t be paid. I have a family that I need to care for.”

     “Do you have another idea? I can’t do this,” William said as his voice cracked. 

     “I got it. We tell Frank that we cleared the bones. That way Carnegie still gets his library and we don’t have to experience this again,” Harry exclaimed. 

     The frightened workers still had a lot to do, though. They went through and messed up the dirt in front of every tombstone. That way, it looked as though they had done their job. 

     Mr. Bray and Mr. Carnegie had come to look at the area three days after the men were done digging. Andrew was so impressed by their speed that he offered them five times the money that they were supposed to receive. Frank was also quite fascinated by their hard work. He offered to spare them any more trouble and allowed them to spend time at home. Both men graciously accepted the offer not to work. 

     After two years of work, the library was finally finished. It was built out of large, tan colored stones. The roof was colored brown with a tint of red and the doors appeared to be made out of mahogany. As the men made their way in, they felt a cold gust of air blow right through them. Both thought nothing of it as they stepped on the newly tiled floor. 

     “How’s it look, boys?” asked Mr. Carnegie standing next to Mr. Bray. 

     “It looks fantastic,” answered Harry in awe. 

     “It looks great but I thought we weren’t opening it to the public yet,” William stated while looking in the direction of what appeared to be a woman in her twenties with a young child who couldn’t have been over the age of five. 

     Andrew and Frank both did a double take and turned to look at the other. 

     “Hey. Get out of here. This library isn’t open yet,” yelled Frank. 

     Just as fast as they appeared, the woman and her child vanished into thin air. Freaked out by the sudden disappearance, Carnegie and Bray bolted through the wooden doors into the fresh, cool, spring air. 

     William grabbed Harry by the wrist and pulled him into the closest room, shutting the door behind them. 

     “Do you think that was Elizabeth?” William asked frantically. 

     “Maybe, but we only dug up one grave. There were two people,” replied Harry. 

     “The shoes. There were small shoes. Plus, there were two crosses,” William remembered.

     “Did we accidentally set loose two ghosts in Andrew Carnegie’s library?” 

     “Nonsense,” declared Harry.

     Eventually, both men left town. Harry supposedly had family issues and traveled all the way to California. Meanwhile, William went to Tennessee to explore the world. Neither man was heard from again. All that’s left of them is their story that Elizabeth Alexander tells to strangers.


“The Paintress”

Anonymous

     I was never a painter; I never thought I was going to be until I saw my canvas, an empty sheet lying in front of me, barren. I knew I was then the paintress

     I was little when the obsession first started. I was about six years old, wearing my mother’s lipstick to be silly. It would be smeared everywhere from my nose to my teeth, sometimes. The bright crimson color stood out on my pale skin and made me feel beautiful even though it looked bad smeared. I was happy in it though, and that was what made it so different from how I felt now. 

     Now I am fifteen. I wear mascara, blush, highlighter, bronzer, eyeshadow, and lip gloss. Sometimes I cover my blemishes with powder and foundation, but I still never feel as pretty as I did when I wore the crimson lipstick. As much as I paint the products onto my face, the empty canvas, I realize, was I ever that good of a paintress? Because I am never happy with the ending results. Maybe it's just because my nose doesn't look right. Or because I hate my freckles. Or maybe because my eyes are asymmetrical. But as many times as I paint over that sculpture,  her true beauty will never vanish. Or so they say. The paintress can paint over anything, but the mistakes will still stand out, the blemishes will still show sometimes, your nose might not be how you like it, but it's how you are, and it's how you should be proud to be. Perfect is boring and bland; if everyone looked the same, there would be nothing new.

     I am still the paintress, but now I know that I am the one that makes the beauty, not the brush.


“The Hunted”

Jackson Wade, Grade 9

     The hot rays of the sun beat heavily on the arid, desert wastes. The blistering winds scar and slash at the back of a lone man and his trusted horse. They ride slowly through the desert; both are tired. The man has been running for a long time. The sun continues to strike at the man’s eyes, blocked ineffectually by his hat. In the distance, the tired man sees an oasis. He contemplates whether this oasis is but a mirage; his thirst quickly outweighs his doubts. The man collapses off his horse; the horse grateful for no longer having to bear his weight as he rushes for the water. The man takes off his hat in order to lap up as much of the desert’s hidden treasure as he can.

     As the man’s thirst slowly begins to subside, he begins to think. He thinks back to when he began to run. The man remembers his childhood. His mother had died of consumption when he was very young. The man was greatly affected by this, as was his father. During her funeral, the man recalls, a hunter in black visited his estate when she died. The man went to his father with this news, but his father responded to his son’s concern with a swift and heavy hand. Back at the oasis, the man gazes at his scarred arms, a permanent reminder of that barbarian’s cruel forms of punishment. The man thinks back to his past once more. He wished to be as far away from his barbarian father and the memory of his mother as he could be. He ran from home and found work in the north. He was content for the time. However, this would not last, for he would soon begin his run again.

     The man remains at the bank of the oasis, lying on his back. Staring at the sky, he sees two great vultures circling above. The man knows what the great, carrion bird’s presence meant.The hunter, the man’s pursuer whom he had been running from for so long, was fast approaching. Not wanting to think of this unsettling notion, the man goes back to thinking of days long past. He remembers in his youth a large war, an unfortunate conflict that pitted brother against brother. He remembers the unsettling sounds, the vile smell, and the uncanny presence of his pursuer, that hunter. The bangs of the rifles, the flashes of the canons, and the smell of dried blood were too much for the man to take. He began to run once more, away from the hunter.

     The man ran further than before, far into the west, where he met a woman. They met under the moonlight, and they wished to dance with each other forever, a romantic, yet foolish and impossible, wish. They loved each other very much and would thus marry and have a child. They would raise their child with a warm and nurturing love, unlike the man’s barbarian father. However, this was not to last, for the man’s pursuer would return. While the man was away, an outlaw would, unknowingly guided by the man’s pursuer, find the man’s house. When the man returned to his house, which was once full of love, he found it to be only filled with that horrible pungent stench from his past. The man would run again, but this time he had one destination in mind.

     The hot rays of the sun would finally subside but would be replaced by the raw and frigid winds of the moon. The chill the man felt from this signaled to him that his pursuer was becoming closer still. In an ineffectual attempt to ignore the signs, he drifted into sleep. The man rustled and turned in his sleep, dreaming of foul memories from a lifetime ago. The details became foggy in his dream, but he could remember a revolver in his hands, the outlaw on the ground, that sickening smell, and the hunter looking upon him with a smirk of pride. The man looked at the uncanny face of his pursuer, did what he had done for his whole life, and ran.Eventually, he would find a horse, a noble spirit, and his only companion. They would run as far as they could, for it was all the man ever knew. He had always run from one thing, his pursuer;his hunter. Yet, now as he lay on his side, he realized how all of his running had led him nowhere at all.

     After the moon’s chill had passed, its brother, the sun and his burning rays, returned. The man woke up to that horrible smell that he had become all too accustomed to. He looked at his horse lying on its side; it would not get up again. He knew he would join the horse soon, but not before he said one last goodbye. Then, a tall, gaunt figure swathed in black rode in on a tall pale horse. 

     The hunter stared at the man and asked “You have been running for a long time, haven’t you?” 

     “Long enough to recognize you.” replied the man. 

     “Then you know why I am here.” declared the hunter. 

     “I do,” stated the man. 

     “Then, have you anything more to say?” the hunter inquired. 

     The man simply stated “I have been avoiding you for long enough; it will do me no good to repeat that which has not worked before.” 

     “Good,” said the hunter with a smile.

     Swathed in the hunter’s cloak, the man smiled, for as he walked away from all that was behind him he realized he was finally done running.


“Awesome”

Allyssa Kaefer, Grade 9

     I was never really paid attention to in school. I sat in the back corner of the classroom, if it was an option, and only ever spoke if I was spoken to. Only on rare occasions would I be the one to speak, such as when I was partnered up with another student for a project or I saw a classmate being bullied and felt compelled to defend them. I was almost always in my own little bubble, and I liked it that way, never bothered and at peace. 

     It was 6:20 a.m on a gloomy Thursday when a booming sound of buzzing filled my fatigued ears and woke me from my deep sleep. I remember the morning vividly, performing my normal morning routine, having no idea what was coming in such a small amount of time. I lifted myself onto my elbows, still in a drowsy state as I slammed my index finger onto the stop button. I sat up fully, relieved that the irritating noise had been silenced and rubbed my somnolent eyes. I realized quickly that I had left my window open when the cold, mid-October air hit my bare arms. Shooting up from my soft bed sheets, I speed walked towards the window on the other side of my bedroom and closed it quite noisily. Fortunately, the frigid air had woken me up from my dazed state and sent me into full consciousness. 

     I twisted the worn-out, golden colored doorknob and let the cold air hit my face as I fully opened the entrance to my bedroom. I sauntered over to the family bathroom across the hallway to freshen myself up before my long, exhausting school day. Looking at myself in the lavatory mirror was a shock. Strands of my cedar brown hair stuck to my face and puffed bags were formed under my mahogany eyes. The spaghetti straps of my loose tank top hung off the sides of my shoulders and my plaid shorts hung just below the waistband of my underwear. I situated my clothing, pulling up my pants and placing my tank top straps correctly on my shoulders. I was nowhere near ready for school yet, physically nor emotionally.

     School was something I dreaded, especially the morning periods. I hated worrying if my morning breath still stunk, if you could still see the tiredness in my eyes, or if I left a toothpaste ring around my podgy lips. I didn’t like the fact that I couldn’t tell whether Alea Mitchell was laughing at me or some other poor girl. Nothing about being locked in a building for seven and a half hours with kids who got enjoyment out of others' misery was appealing to me. 

     Still thinking of the dejected day ahead of me, I walked out of the bathroom after making myself look presentable. I had pigtail braided my waist length hair, brushed my teeth, and wiped the sleep sweat from my face. I dressed myself in quite a laid back manner, wearing loose, knee length carpenter shorts and a baggy, forest green t-shirt. I slung my striped backpack off my shoulder as I made my way down the creaky stairs of my aged home. 

     I winced as my socks barley shielded me from the frigid, hardwood floors that rested at the bottom of the staircase. I flicked on the light switch, revealing a dingy living room that I spent most of my time in when I wasn’t locked away in my bedroom. 

     My older brother, Jamie, sat on our beige sofa with a blanket thrown over his lap and a bowl of cereal in his hands. While Jamie was only older by two years, he treated me as if he had infinitely more knowledge than me on everything. He had also been getting special treatment lately since he’s a senior and was going off to college soon; that didn’t exactly help with his irritating treatment of me. 

     “Bro, turn that back off. It hurts my eyes.” Jamie voiced as he dramatically shielded his face from the light. I gave him a monotone expression as I ignored his pleas and continued my trudge to the kitchen. My father sat alone at the kitchen table, sipping on his cup of coffee. Normally my mother would be there to join him, but she had an opening shift at the library that day. 

     I gave my father a dull smile as I sat my bookbag down at the chair across from him. I scoured the fridge for something to satisfy my hunger, when my eyes landed on a tupperware container filled to the brim with last night's dinner, Chinese takeout. My face beamed with anticipation as I slid some of the cold chow mein onto a paper plate, and then took a seat across from my dad. I scrolled through my phone as I devoured the food in front of me, catching up with my only friend over text. 

     “Bree” I looked up from my phone as my father said my name. “The bus comes in about five minutes, so be ready. You too Jamie!” Shouting the last sentence, my father got up and took his now empty mug to the already dish filled sink. I checked the time on my phone to verify his statement, and he was correct; it was 6:55 a.m exactly. I shoveled the last few noodles into my mouth and then got up to throw my plate into the trash. I grabbed my backpack, tucking my phone into the pocket of my jean shorts, and made my way to the front door. I sat on the welcome mat next to my brother as we both tied our shoes in a rush. Standing up, I situated my backpack correctly on my shoulder, and waited for my brother to finish binding his shoes. To cure my boredom, I got back on my phone and continued texting my childhood best friend, Florence, also known as Flo. 

     Flo and I had been best friends ever since she threw that barbie doll at my head during kindergarten recess. The beginning of our friendship was pretty rough, but our bond only grew stronger as we aged. “You gonna wait for me at the entrance today?” I typed into my phone. “Don’t I always :)” responded Florence. Her response made me quietly chuckle, but I was quickly brought out of my happiness when I felt a cold hand touch my arm. I looked over to what the arm was attached to and met Jamie’s face. I rolled my eyes, realizing what he was getting my attention for. I looked out of the window of the front door and my suspicions were confirmed; the school bus had arrived. I drug my feet as I stepped out of my warm house and into the cold wilderness. My shoulders slouched as I stepped onto the loud bus and took my seat in the far back. Jamie sat in the front with his friends and Flo was driven by her mother every morning, leaving me with no one to sit with. I stuck my AirPods into my ears and put on my music, ignoring everyone around me. 

     It was 7:16 a.m when I arrived at school, and my smile was bright as I stepped off the bus and my eyes met Flo’s green ones. Her blonde curtain bangs were held back by a lush pink headband that perfectly matched her cherry blossom dress. Flo was always the best when it came to fashion, the exact opposite of me. 

     I locked arms with my friend, as we walked into the school building. We used the four minutes we had until the bell for homeroom rang to its full extent, catching up on all that happened with each other’s lives since yesterday; it wasn’t much. I sighed with annoyance as I heard the bell ring, signaling to me that it was time to depart from Florence and start my day. 

     Taking my seat in the cold classroom, I put my earbuds back into my ears and only took them out to reluctantly stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. I listened to music as I observed everyone around me. My paranoia was getting to me as I began to wonder if people were laughing at a joke I had failed to hear, or me. Luckily, I didn’t have to worry much longer as I heard the faint sound of buzzing in the background of my music; the bell had rung. My nerves had calmed a little, as I had first period with Flo, but they spiked back up again once I remembered that Alea Mitchell was in the class too. 

     Alea Mitchell was one of the many girls who gave me a hard time at school, all because she took offense to the fact that I was quiet. Just recently, she had started picking on Florence as well. Florence was one of the most normal people at that school. She dressed just like everyone else, acted like everyone else, and looked like everyone else. Everything about her was ordinary, yet she was still relentlessly bothered by others because I was her best friend. 

     My mind was distracted by the thoughts of Alea when I walked into the classroom and my sight landed on Flo. She sat next to the seat in the back corner, leaving it open for me. I blissfully sat in the seat that my best friend had left unoccupied for me and hung my bookbag on the chair. The classroom was filled with chatter that Florence and I participated in when I felt that familiar urge to use the restroom. Excusing myself, it only took about three minutes for me to use the lavatory and make it back to class. 

     Although, when I walked into the room, I was filled with a sudden rage. There Alea was, resting her hands on Flo’s desk, taunting her. One of Alea’s friends pointed at me as I stared at them, but the girl's response was only a shrug. The indifference in her answer made me even more angry. 

     My stare got more intense, and my anxiety about the situation only worsened when Alea wouldn’t let up. Holding my harsh gaze, I felt a rush of energy leave my body. A gust of the liveliness that once inhabited my person flew towards the girl taunting my friend and knocked her straight into a wall. My death stare turned to a shocked expression as the class turned around and looked at the now injured bully who was lying on the floor, rubbing her head. My thoughts rushed, realizing what just happened. Only one word could leave my mouth as I learned of this new telekinetic ability that I had: “Awesome.”


“Perfection Meets Satisfaction”

Anonymous

     As I listen to Perfection speak, his thoughts inflate my mind like a balloon that at any point in time can explode into the depreciation of my own morals. I am sitting at the dining room table, illuminated by the diamond chandelier hanging a few feet above my head; Perfection tells me that if I do not have a concise study setup, my brain can not properly function and process the information into my long-term memory. Annoyed by the constant nagging as I am trying to study for my AP Statistics exam, I roll my eyes at Perfection. Perfection is a tyrannical man, with no kindness to him whatsoever. In his perfectly pressed Gucci blazer, his matching pants with corresponding Gucci symbols, his hair with no strand out of place, and his demeanor setting unrealistic expectations for me, he continues to scold me. “You fool. It is embarrassing that you missed a practice problem that you should know how to do. The test is TOMORROW!” A knot ties tight in my stomach, pulling all of my organs into a compressed ball. “What if I make that same, stupid mistake on the test? My 100% grade will drop, and I will have surrendered my coherent, three numbered percentage,” I mumble under my breath to Perfection. His wrinkled, exhausted face curls up into a subtle smirk. He ages every day due to the exhaustion of always trying to be flawless. “Darling, that is the mindset I have been training you to put into perspective all these years. With those ideas in mind, you will have no choice but to get them all right. It is merely life or death.” It feels like he takes a drill into my brain for the next three minutes, pounding into my skull methods to never have any room for error. His warnings never to end up like his cousin, Failure, sit on the root of my cerebral cortex. “You know you must do all of those homework problems again if you want to get a 100%,” sighs Perfection. With those manipulating words, I am up until insanely late hours, reviewing the textbook until I can recite it by heart. I can finally slip away to go to bed when I notice that Perfection fell asleep on the couch, with a meticulously fluffed silk pillow behind his head, a faux fur blanket draped evenly over his legs, and his hands folded in a neat pile on his lap.The immense amount of solace that I feel when I know that I can go to sleep with no worries, only because Mr. Perfect went to sleep, is indescribable. 

     Like a nasty cough that lingers for months upon end, Perfection is my shadow in all aspects of my life. He has taught me that life can only be taken seriously, and that every decision I make has a huge impact on my future. I listen to him. While his cunning, unscrupulous words pile into my heart so that I know nothing other than perfect grades, that mindset did get me those perfect grades. Was the journey getting there even worth it? Does that even matter? He has made me set up these outrageously high calibers for myself, so that missing one is like my entire future is going to fall into smithereens, with Perfection being the instigator of that idea. 

     Perfection is in the passenger seat as I drive to dance; the AC is set to exactly 71 degrees, and it aims at his chest so his hair does not get messed up. Yes, he is that person. “You know, my girl, that this is the last rehearsal before competition. If you mess up tonight, that’s what will happen on stage.” I nod my head at him, knowing that I have no room for mistakes.  It is almost like he casts a wizardly spell on me, without all the “hocus pocus” gibberish with it. After he corrects me multiple times for either not stopping long enough at a stop sign or cutting a turn too wide, we pull into the bumpy road with potholes that leads to my dance studio. The air after a slight rain shower is sticky outside as I get out of the car, and I suddenly feel the urgent need to take a shower. Perfection also trained me to know just the right conditions for myself, and if I do not feel at my best, I panic.  With the sun shining after the shower, a rainbow looms in the distance, and I feel calm for just a minute when all of the sudden, Perfection stomps on that emotion like it is a centipede in his bedroom. “Go warm up because if you do not hit that triple turn tonight, you most certainly are not hitting it on stage,” he protests as we walk in the building. Before I warm up, I run to the bathroom to get the sticky feeling off my hands. Opening the door, I am greeted by a beautiful young lady sitting on the chair to the right of me. She has long, luscious hair with flowers woven through it. Her purple silk dress flows gracefully as she twirls around to greet me. “Your performance tonight is not a reflection of all the work that you put into this dance year. Your level of success can only be measured by you, and the idea of perfection can never be reached: only strived for.” Exasperated by her encouraging words, that I am obviously not used to hearing from you-know-who, I am enamored by her statement that makes me feel like a human being and not a machine. “Wow,” I mutter. “Who are you?” She laughs, and I am suddenly in a serene, peaceful mindset. “Satisfaction.”  


“Insecurity”

Anonymous

     Insecurity is the exact replica of me, what I want to look like, “the perfect me,” but points out all my imperfections that I'll always have that keep me from looking like her. Insecurity starts in the morning when I get out of bed; she follows me to the bathroom. She looks at me with disgust because her “out of bed look” never quite looks like mine-no bed head, or crazy looking PJ combo. She comes back in a “know it all” tone when I pull the drawer for cosmetics. She makes sure to let me know that I definitely need to use concealer today because the acne looks pretty rough; she lets me know that I need to put on mascara because without it I look dead; and she lastly reminds me that if I don’t do any of this that people will think I look weird or gross, and that’s an immediate turn off. No buns or ponytails, she remarks. “Pretty girls style their hair,” she says. Curl, straighten, wavy, crimped, anything but up, she reminds me as I pull out my hot irons. She comes with me in my bedroom to seek out the outfit options for the week. She makes sure to remind me that “crop tops aren't made for girls like you,” and that “those jeans don’t actually hug the right areas.” She ends up letting me choose the best option, a sweatshirt and sweatpants combo so no one can actually see the weight I put on since freshman year. 

     Insecurity loves to come out at school. She pops out on the top of my shoulder and compares every other girl to me as I walk through the halls. “Pull your shirt down, your stomach is not one that people would want to actually look at,” she screams as I enter through the metal detectors in the morning. No girl could ever compare to my lame outfit, that doesn’t quite look like everyone else. “Maybe if you looked like her, more guys would talk to you” she whispers in my ears as the bell rings. Insecurity thrives in the after school portion of my day. She tells me that homework is important, but I haven't been to the gym in a while, and it's starting to show. She says to achieve that perfect model body, the gym is necessary, and I’m not meeting the criteria. She comes to play when I open my fridge to see what I want to eat for lunch. I reach my hand for the frozen pizza, but she whispers, “Have you seen the calories in that thing? That’s too much for your kind of lifestyle. What happened to the Kendall Jenner diet?” I put the pizza back, and grab the spring mix and the vegetables to make myself a salad that won’t make me gain the couple pounds that are definite when it comes to eating the pizza. 

     Insecurity takes her last shot at night when I’m scrolling through my phone before bed. She appears like a wasp, buzzing around me and waiting for the right time to sting me. I check my social media, and she lets me know that those girls on Instagram do in fact get more likes than me because I am, in fact, not as good-looking as they are-the tan, the body, the outfit, the destination. “Where’s yours?” she says. Insecurity is a stubborn, abhorrent, persona I keep with me in my back pocket all throughout my days, but sometimes, and only sometimes, she will go to sleep when I shut her off with confidence that is hard to see.


“The Harbor Master”

Madison Davis, Grade 9

     Violet Forbes moves into the town the day after a teenage girl gets murdered. Little does Violet know that murder is going to change everything in her life.

     “I’ll see you guys later,” the young brunette said as she waved goodbye to her friends.The young girl, known as Emma, walked towards her house. As she passed an alleyway, she could have sworn she saw someone standing there watching her, but when she looked back, there was nothing. “Strange…,” she mumbled under her breath. She decided to just shrug it off and continued to walk. As she neared the harbor, she heard a loud crash. She turned around quickly,but it was only a raccoon that had knocked over a trash can. Surely, she was only paranoid, but there was the feeling that she was being watched that bugged her. Just to be safe, she started to walk faster. Soon enough she heard footsteps behind her. She turned around, and there was a figure following her, the same figure she had seen in the alleyway. The hair on the back of her neck stood up, and her heart started to pound as fast as a race car. She started to run towards her house. It was still about a ten-minute walk away. She knew she wasn’t going to make it to her house, so she ran to the closest store praying someone was still there. The footsteps behind her suddenly stopped. She took a quick look, and no one was there. She stopped to catch her breath.When she turned around once again, a hand covered her mouth. She tried to break free, but it was no use. The person, who she assumed to be a man by the size of his hand, was stronger than her. Within seconds the unknown man slit her throat.
     “Is that all, Miss?” the cashier asked Violet. She simply answered, “yes.” Violet Forbes, a seventeen-year-old girl with black hair and dark green eyes, had just moved into the small town of Bar Harbor, Maine with her mother. Her father died years back, and ever since then her mother had been struggling with the bills. About two weeks ago, Violet and her mother, Amelia, had received a letter in the mail. Violet’s grandfather had suddenly passed away and left his property in Amelia’s name. Violet’s mother thought it’d be best if they moved into Violet’s grandfather’s house. After all, the cost of living was cheaper, and her mother had grown up in the small town.

     “Did you get the milk?” Violet’s mother asked as Violet nodded and handed the milk to her mother. Before either of them could say anything else, there was a knock on the door. “I’ll get it,” Violet said as she walked over to the front door and opened it. There was no one there,only a box of chocolates. Violet looked around making sure there was no one and then grabbed the box of chocolates. After she shut the door, she walked over to the counter and set the box of chocolates on it. Violet’s mother smiled, “Who’s that from?” 

     Violet shrugged “Not sure. When I opened the door, no one was there, only those…” She looked at the box of chocolates. “Kind of creepy if you ask me.” Her mother only shrugged in response. Violet sighed, “I’m going to go explore the town a bit.” 

     “Don’t be too late,” Violet’s mother said as she nodded.

     The young, teenage girl decided to check out one of the souvenir shops. When she entered the shop, an older lady greeted her, “Welcome to The Acadia Shop. I haven’t seen you around before, which means you must be Violet Forbes, the girl who just moved into Bill’s house, right?” 

     Violet smiled, “Yes.” 

     “How do you like the town so far?” the elderly lady asked. 

     Violet shrugged, “I don’t know yet. I only just got here late last night.” 

     The old lady smiled, “Well, if you need anything, you can always just come here and ask to see Irene.” 

     Violet nodded, “Thank you, Irene.” 

     Irene nodded, and Violet walked away. As Violet explored the store, she had this eerie feeling of being watched. However, as she turned, afraid of what she might see, she discovered her own mind only playing mere tricks on her. That’s when a girl around her age approached her. “Violet, right?” the young blonde said. 

     Violet scoffed, “So someone new moves into town, and everyone knows their business?”

     “Pretty much. Everyone in this town is very close. We all grew up here… well most of us anyway,” the unknown girl shrugged. Violet rolled her eyes as the girl spoke once more, “My name’s Ruby.” 

     Violet stared at her. “Well, Ruby, not to be mean, but I’m kind of busy, did you need something?” 

     Ruby smiled, “If you aren’t busy tonight, you should come hang out with my friends and I at my house.” 

     “Maybe,” Violet simply said before walking away.

     Before heading home, Violet walked down to the harbor to check out the boats. As she was looking at one of the older boats, a man who seemed to be in his forties approached her,“Can I help you with something, young lady?” The older man resembled her, and she felt something was off about him. Violet was very uneasy. 

     “No, thank you…,” she looked at his name tag, “…Levi. I’m just checking out the boats.”

     Levi smiled, “So, you’re the new girl everyone is talking about, hm?” 

     “Violet.”, the young girl said to Levi. 

     “Nice to meet you, Violet,” the older man said, shaking Violet’s hand. 

     “So, you’re the town’s harbormaster?” Violet said as she looked at his name tag again.

     “Yes,” Levi simply responded. 

     The two of them sat in silence for about a minute until Violet spoke once more, “I should be going.”

     “All right. See you around,” Levi said as Violet walked away.

     On Violet’s walk home, she couldn’t shake the feeling of being followed, but every time she turned around, no one was there. Ever since she arrived in this small town, she couldn’t shake the feeling of her every move being observed. She believed it was only her paranoia and nothing more, but if she only knew what was to come.

     When she arrived home, she went to her room and got dressed. As she was brushing her hair and listening to music, she heard a loud bang come from downstairs, but she thought she was home alone. She quickly lowered the volume of her music. “Mom, is that you?” Violet yelled, but there was no answer. Suddenly, Violet was washed over with the feeling of fear. She sensed something was wrong. She heard footsteps coming up the stairs. Quickly, she grabbed her lamp. It was dead silent when there was a sudden knock on Violet’s door. Violet didn’t move a muscle, only listened closely. Violet was afraid to open the door and be face to face with whoever was inside her house. 

     “Violet, are you in there?” an extremely familiar voice said from the other side of Violet’s door. Violet’s grip loosened on the lamp when she realized it was only Ruby. She set down the lamp and opened her bedroom door.

     “How did you get in?” Violet asked as Ruby walked into her room. 

     Ruby shrugged, “I was coming to see if you were coming to my house tonight when I noticed your front door was slightly open. Then, I heard you yell, and I came inside where I saw someone fleeing out the back door. Sadly, I didn’t see who they were.” 

     Violet sighed, “It’s terrifying to know that someone was in my house, and I didn’t even know. I’m not sure what would have happened if you didn’t scare them off.” 

     “Well, maybe it’d be safer if you came to my house… at least till your mom gets home,” Ruby said as Violet nodded. 

     “First we should secure the house,” Violet said as they both went downstairs. After about ten minutes of checking and securing the house, they found nothing but a broken vase. 

     “Let’s go before that creep shows up again,” Ruby said to Violet as they left the house.

     When they arrived at Ruby’s house, Axel, Ruby’s rottweiler, cautiously approached Violet. As the large dog walked away, it seemed agitated. Ruby and Violet walked over to the couch and took a seat. A couple minutes later Ruby’s mother walked into the living room,“Ruby, who is this?” Ruby smiled at her mother.

     “Her name’s Violet. She’s the girl who just moved here with her mom. Someone broke into her house, so I thought it’d be best if she stayed here until her mom got home.” 

     Ruby’s mother sighed, “That’s strange… first Emma’s murder last week and now a break in at Violet’s house… that’s very unusual.” 

     “We can’t talk about it…remember the discussion of murder is off-limits,” Ruby sighed.

     Her mother nodded. “Why don’t you two go in your room and hang out, Ruby?” 

     “Okay,” Ruby said as she got up. The two teenage girls went to Ruby’s room with Axel following after them. He seemed to follow Violet around as if he were protecting her.

     The two teenagers sat on Ruby’s bed when suddenly the lights went out, and they heard a loud scream coming from downstairs. The rottweiler lifted his head and started to growl at the bedroom door. The two girls got off the bed. They decided not to go and check the noise out; instead they called 911. The noise of the creaking boards echoed through the hallway as if someone was walking up the steps. The noise of the footsteps grew louder as the person got closer. Then, suddenly the footsteps stopped. Axel grew more alert as he sensed someone at the door. Within seconds the door flew open and revealed a man that Violet had seen before. Violet stood shocked as she saw the man holding a bloody octopus hook. Violet recognized the man from an earlier encounter at the harbor. She stared the man directly in the eyes, “Levi… you’ve been the one behind all of this? Emma’s murder? The box of chocolates? But… why?” 

     Levi shrugged. “Emma was getting too close… she knew too much...” Ruby didn’t say anything, only observed the two of them. Violet looked confused as she continued to question Levi. 

     “Got too close to what?” Levi smirked. “Oh, Violet, my sweet girl, do you really think your grandfather’s death was an accident?” 

     Violet’s heart sank. “You… you killed… and how did she even know my grandfather?..” 

     Levi took a step forward. “Yes, I killed him, but only so you and your mom would move into the town. I wanted to see what a wonderful young lady my precious daughter had turned into and to have a life with you. Also, your grandfather had taken Emma in when her parents got into a boating accident. After his death, she wouldn’t just leave it alone even though I warned her.” 

     Violet ignored the part about Emma. She was too taken aback that Levi was her father. “You’re my… father?” Violet said, completely shocked.

     Before anyone could say anything the noise of the police sirens engulfed the house. Levi looked at Violet. “See you soon,” Levi said before taking off. Violet stood there, shocked. She knew she had to ask her mom a whole lot of questions, though she was scared of the possible answers. The most important thing was that the two girls were safe… for now.


“Emotions of the Lonely”

Anonymous

     What shirt do I wear? Does my hair look ok? Am I doing well in school? I ask these questions everyday, and I have anxiety to thank for that. I can’t go twenty-four hours without thinking of something being off to me. I wonder if my shirt fits right. Anxiety is the bug in my ear. They will make it so hard to want to go anywhere. What's worse is that when they come, they bring depression. It feels like a one versus two battle, and I’m always the loser. They come in a pair, only stopping for a minute before inviting themselves right back to the table.

     It is almost as if I look in the mirror, and I see myself with no face; two people are there with me: Anxiety draped in an array of colors confusing my mind and Depression cloaked in a black, oozing, dark aura. Anxiety calls, loud, worrying, mind-boggling, questions, and depression answers. Depression never stands but sits perched above my head, always speaking low and dark. Anxiety walks hand in hand with me, not letting me go, speaking as if we are friends. I will be in school, walking by myself, noticing the friend groups around me. That's when anxiety asks “Why isn’t that us?” with snark behind their tone. Then, without missing a beat, depression answers in the most evil, sadistic manner that leaves you wanting just to fade to black just like him.      

With these two always with you, you feel like you're drowning, like you are in a bathtub, and they are pushing you under. Depression’s force with Anxiety’s grip is like an alligator's jaw; it never lets go. Until you find… Love. Love is an overwhelming feeling of happiness, humor and joy wrapped in one. They stand tall and radiate light. They speak softly with gentle words, never leaving you feeling low. Love walks right along with anxiety and depression and keeps them in check, like an older brother to their little siblings. Love doesn’t come from anyone else except yourself. It starts with you.

Art