Category Archives: Literature

Don’t Look Behind You (A Short and Scary Tale by Josie Benson)

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In the darkest shadows, a figure is lurking behind you. The figure is abnormally tall, really skinny, and has many arms. He wears a black and white suit, and he has a featureless face. Don’t look at his face or he will grab you.

You might still have a chance. Run as fast as you can. But beware, he is supernatural and can materialize in front of you when you least expect it. His name is Slender Man.

Most everyone has heard the legend of Slender Man, but what most don’t know is that he is anything but a mere legend. No one can escape his supernatural presence. He can absorb, kill, or merely take you away. If you look at his face, there is no turning back. He lurks behind you in the dark shadows, waiting for the perfect moment to attack.

He only hunts his prey after sunset and in the dark of night. You might think if you find a light source or a shelter to hide in you would be safe, but nothing can scare him away from you. Nothing can stop Slender Man. He is always there waiting to get you when you least expect it.

He might not catch you, but just the thought of him can make you go insane with fear. The fear of Slender Man has caused even innocent children to commit heinous crimes. To tell if someone is under his control, there are signs which are amnesia, bouts of coughing, random nosebleeds, delusions, and paranoid behavior.

Do not be afraid of him. He can sense fear. The more fear and paranoia you have, the more likely he will be to come after you. Whatever you do do not be afraid of him.

Greater Than (A poem by Katie Krulak)

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Fingers fly across the keys,

     Playing a clattering staccato song,

Gazes glued to glowing screens,

     A shadows move from short to long.

Pictures scroll before our eyes,

     With lines of type below,

How different are the lives described,

     Compared to the ones we know.

Online we create an elaborate mask,

     Of what we want others to see,

But the person behind the screen,

     Is the true you and me.

Nobody’s world is perfect,

     Or completely put together,

Nor is it always easy;

     Free from life’s stormy weather.

Many have made their identity,

     Into a list of numbers,

And all these likes, retweets, and comments,

     Have given me cause to wonder.

Why do we care so much,

     About what others see us as?

Why do we treat each Internet post,

     Like a test we have to pass?

What if we stopped making,

     Our Internet selves a lie?

Perhaps our friendships would grow stronger,

     It wouldn’t hurt to try.

But in the end it doesn’t

     Matter if people like what you post,

Because your affirmation and your worth,

     Comes from the One who matters most.

Two Poems by Ethan Shaw

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Divine Speech
How joyous are the bells that peal today,
The speech proceeding forth from Heaven’s core!
Each void gives way to matter, formed not ‘till
This tintinnabulation sounds once more.
A dew descends upon the raw terrain
Which suckles hills and vales into fresh life.
Yet ponder not how life can animate
This ground; for here is never any strife.
What this can govern, but harmonic joy?
Impossible once age corrupts the heart.
Instead, a child’s plaything is the world
Remaining so unless blessed youth depart.

 

Babel’s Pyre

Trees enflamed, once birches, brightly blazing;
Now disfigured shards of ancient forest— Ashen!
On a pyre split asunder.
Quaking earth, enveloping and porous.
Terrifying awe wrought by destruction
Wreaks pure havoc ever cleansing, purging.
Wisdom turns to disenfranchised Fortune
Asking when wealth’s stream the last was gurgling?
“Not since Midas wedded Babel’s daughter!”
With a shudder, Fortune cruelly whispered.
Hubris joining avarice to foster
Lack of sight to see how wounds have festered!

Poetry: To Define or Not To Define

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By Mackie Benson, Class of 2017

Throughout time, people discover different stories: tales of sorrow, adventure, love, and religion.  They label the majority of these poetry.  So what exactly is poetry?  Webster’s Dictionary defines poetry as “writing that formulates a concentrated imaginative awareness of experience in language chosen and arranged to create a specific emotional response through meaning, sound, and rhythm.”  This definition seems to cover the meaning of this art, yet is there not so much more to it?  For example, Homer’s Iliad is one of the most famous poems of all time.  It has the elements of war, honor, mythology, and betrayal woven together into the tapestry of the Trojan War.  The tale has remained with humanity for years.

As much as this epic is beloved, the rest of  poetry cannot be confined by a definition formed with one poem.  With all of these differences among the poetic arts, there seems to be no way to cleanly define poetry.  Poetry is more complex than a few words used to constrict a style.  Good poems grasp emotions and bend them to the author’s will.  Some people find peace by telling stories from their own imagination.  Some of these people find a way to keep their art around for decades like Robert Frost, Homer, and King David.

Poetry paints a picture through its rhythm and words.  It lights a spark in the imagination, setting our thoughts ablaze with inspiration.  A little girl finds her escape and creates beauty.  The old man tells his stories that have been with him through the years on a small piece of paper with an old ballpoint pen for future generations.  Poems could be loud like thunder or quiet like a whispering wind.  They are for the young and the old, the hated and the loved.

So what exactly is poetry?  In the end such a beautiful art must refuse to be limited by any single definition.

 

Archbishop Turpin: How Not to Model the Christian Faith (A Critical Essay on the Song of Roland)

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By Camilla Lemons, Class of 2018

A question was asked on a blog whether churches judge more than they love, and ninety percent of the readers agreed. If Christians feel judged at the one place they should feel most secure, they will not want to come back. The actions of Christians to one another should be kind. If a community cannot treat those in it with kindness, how can they treat those who are not a part of this group in a way that shows their faith well? It is the duty of a Christian to model his faith well and lead others to Christ. However, in The Song of Roland translated by W.S. Merwin, Archbishop Turpin does not portray this attribute. This religious leader fails to act in a way that would point others to Christ and does not model his faith well. To begin, during the battle against the pagans, the motives for his violence were corrupt. Additionally, he did not abide by the Scriptures in the way he lead his country’s religion or treated the pagans. Finally, Turpin put the love of his country France over his love for God. Archbishop Turpin failed to model his faith in a way that was glorifying to God.

Initially, Turpin did not model his faith well because the motives behind his violence were corrupt. After killing a man in the battle at Roncesvalles, this was stated about the Archbishop: “He will not leave him without addressing him, and he says: ‘Pagan wretch, you lied!'” (XCV). Turpin was killing out of wickedness in his heart. He could not refrain from turning back to address the corpse. Matthew 12:37 states, “[F]or by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” By returning to the body to speak malicious words, Turpin was not representing Christ well. Furthermore, after Turpin slaughtered a pagan magician, he declared, “He was marked out to be our victim” (CVIII). Turpin, as the Archbishop, took it on himself to avenge his countrymen. In Hebrews 10:30 this is exclaimed, “For we know him who said, ‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay.’ And again, ‘The Lord will judge his people.'” It is clearly stated in the Scriptures that God is the ultimate judge and vengeance is His. Turpin did not model Christianity well for his men by acting in this way. One might argue that during the battle at Roncesvalles Turpin’s violence was justified. “The Archbishop says: ‘Our men are brave; there are no better under heaven” (CXI). Some may say that Turpin and the other knights were using their God-given gifts of strength and bravery to uphold their faith. Nevertheless, Turpin relied on his own strength and the strength of his fellow knights to win the battle. I Samuel 17:47 states, “[A]nd that all the assembly may know that the Lord saves not with swords and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hands.” Turpin failed to rely on God to give the French victory. His words did not reflect the example given to him by Christ. As seen in Turpin’s words, the motives behind his violence are corrupt; thus, he does not represent the Christian faith well.

Additionally, the Archbishop did not manifest Christ well because he did not abide by the Scriptures. During the battle of Roncesvalles, Turpin killed a wicked man; and the French warriors declared, “The cross will not suffer while the Archbishop is there to protect it” (CXIV). In this quote, men who listened to the Archbishop’s teachings admitted that the cross would not suffer. This showed the warped view of the Scriptures administered to them by Turpin. His poor teaching caused his followers to not understand the whole purpose of Jesus’ life on earth. I Peter 3:18 states, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit. . .” The purpose of Jesus coming to the earth was to suffer. Since Turpin was a leader in the church, people heeded his advice. When his followers were mistaken about the Scriptures, this showed his poor teaching and leadership. Moreover, before he killed the wicked man, he exclaimed, “That Saracen looks a heretic from head to foot” (CXIII). Turpin judged this man on sight. I Samuel 16:7 states, “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” Turpin failed to even attempt to follow God’s word. He showed poor leadership through his actions. Being a major leader in the church caused people to look to him to model the faith they followed. By not abiding by the Scriptures, Turpin was not modeling his faith well.

Finally, the actions of Turpin of Reims showed that his love for his country and king was greater than his love for God. After a king named Corsablis insulted the French, Turpin exclaims, “Charles, my lord, is our protector still, and our French have no wish to flee” (XCV). The Archbishop stated that Charles was his true protector. Psalm 46:1 states, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” The Scriptures clearly identify God as a refuge, but Turpin’s trust was in his king, who was sure to fail him. Next, Turpin saw Roland fighting in the battle at Roncesvalles. He exclaimed to Roland the characteristics of a noble knight. “He must be strong and overbearing in battle or he is not worth a farthing…” (CXLI). In contrast to this statement, II Samuel 17:45 states, “Then David said to the Philistine, ‘You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel…'” In order for a warrior to be successful in battle, he does not necessarily have to be strong. A characteristic that he must have is faith. Turpin lacked faith because he was not fighting for his religion, but his king. This proves that the love of Turpin’s country exceeded his love for God. One might argue that during the battle at Roncesvalles, Turpin modeled his faith soundly by exclaiming, “Barons, my lords, Charles has left us here and if need be we must die for our king and uphold Christendom!” (LXXXIX). Some might say that Turpin was fighting to uphold his religion. However, Turpin put the love of his country over his love for God here because he stated that he was willing to die for his king as well as support Christianity. Jesus says in Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other.” The Archbishop could not fully support two causes, and the one he chose to die for was his country. The Archbishop put the love of his country over his love for God; therefore, he did not model his faith well.

How can a community love people who are not a part of it if they cannot love each other? Many feel judged at church. This pushes too many people away from their faith or causes them never to find it. Likewise, in The Song of Roland, the Archbishop did not model his faith well. Turpin’s words revealed his true motive behind slaying the pagans. He spoke cruel words to them and in that, did not represent Christ well. Because of Turpin’s status of leadership in the church, it was especially essential that he model Christianity well. Turpin failed to act in a way that led others to Christ.

How to Grow a Story

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by Sarah McDaniel, Class of 2017

When people think of writing, they think about one of the following things: school or books. Writing is so much more than that. It goes beyond the persuasive paragraph and the expository essay. It is all about imagination and dedication.

It all starts with a little idea. This small idea is like a seed in a garden. From this seed roots start growing. These roots turn into a character, then two, then they become a landscape, a picture in the depths of your mind. Just like tending a plant, it takes a lot of time and work to make this idea perfect. Soon, the plot and climax grow, then finally you’re ending. You step back to see your idea has grown into an amazing story.

However, you don’t stop there. You keep editing. In other words, you provide the environment for your plant to thrive in. Sometimes you will go through a drought where you have no words to add. Eventually, you will get the perfect story. You just need to find the right inspiration, that first, tiny seed. It can be anything from a storm in the sky to a dog running astray. Some people write about a popular band or their favorite television show. For certain individuals it is easier to write about facts and prove points, while for others imagination is the key as he or she writes about a girl who lived in the 1700s.

Writing can do much more than just entertain. Writing gives one a chance to escape his or her troubles and become part of a new life. It can give you a fresh perspective. Everybody is a writer. Passion is behind every story and is therefore within every writer. Relating back to the original analogy, passion is what drives you to find the perfect seed for your story. Then, you keep this passion and grow your entire garden. The art of writing may be difficult, but it can help you in so many ways.

“The Last Morning”

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By Katie Brooks Boone, Class of 2014

All’s quiet in the place of perfect peace,
Fresh dew atop the sunflower faces-
The drops like diamonds shimmer in the light.​
Young beams of light peer through the tow’ring trees.
Birds sing sweet melody as morning dawns.
Nature sings hallelujah to His name
The mother of mankind stirs to the dawn,
Perfect in beauty she lays in soft grass.
Parents of mankind, perfect harmony.
Hand in hand, touching innocence they go,
Unaware deception lurks in hiding.

“Jack and Jill: A Fairytale Revisited”

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by Patrick McGucken, Class of 2015

Inscribed here is the tale of the heroes of Reinveydan. Known well across the kingdom from the capital of Fraillia to the distant coastal cities of Isla. As popular as the epic is, many men and women do not know of its origins. It all began with four downtrodden kingsmen being chased out of Fraillia. After not preventing a cataclysmic fall, they were chased out by a ferocious mob. The four brothers rode for many days, looking for a safe place to rest. The men were exhausted, delirious, and sick. Hope evaded them much like the three pigs that eluded the hungry wolf. In time, they came across the ruins of a small town. The town was destroyed, and all the buildings were burned to the ground. The smell of sulfur wafted throughout the ruins, filling the men’s lungs with ashes. The men coughed and wheezed as they tried to regain their sight. Desperately, they searched for food and water; the four men came across a lone river. Beside the river, gleamed a beautiful golden statue. This statue towered over the village and stood alone amongst the remnants of the village. On the base of the statue, there was a plaque that shared the legend of Reinveydan. The four kingsmen wrote this legend into an epic and began singing it across the kingdom. Their fame grew exponentially and they were eventually welcomed back to their home city. Here lies the only remaining manuscript of the legend passed down throughout the generations of the four brothers’ family.

In memory of the four kings men, this story offers both a glance at salvation and the sacrifice it requires.

The drums roll, the curtains rise,
Enter the land where the rain has died.
The kingdom of Fraillia is trapped in a drought,
Cursed by a god, they cannot get out.

In the town of Reinveydan, two heroes arise,
Ready to save or meet their demise.
The boy was strong and very fit,
And immense fame, he wanted to get.

The twin sister was beautiful and bright,
But do not be fooled because she could fight.
Riches and power were their dream,
Together they formed a formidable team.

They packed up their gear and left with a hurry,
Into the wrath of the Sun God’s Fury.
A towering mountain, where beasts do meet,
Lay the only river that was yet to deplete.

In a lonely cave, the river flowed,
Guarded by a fierce monster, that devours its foes.
The two heroes quickly the mountain did scale,
Carrying only a magic pail.

A pack of wolves was on their heels,
Tragically, one was about to become a meal.
Around the path, all they could hear,
Were the piercing howls that filled them with fear.

The brother shook, the sister screamed,
The sun set down beneath the ravine.
The darkness filled the empty sky,
The siblings needed a place to hide.

The wolves got faster, ready to bite,
The little sister was filled with fright.
A ledge awaited sitting up high,
The duo knew they had to jump through the sky.

The twins awaited  to test their fate,
Little did they know that for, the brother, it was too late.
The brother jumped onto soft ground,
He slipped and fell and broke his crown.

His sister was dazed wondering how this could be,
But remembered what her brother said, “continue for me.”
The journey was vigorous, but her mind was made,
She entered the cave where the creature stayed.

Hiding in the dark, she waited for her chance,
She ran the beast through with a fallen warrior’s lance.
She filled the pail with the magic water,
And headed down the mountain with a trodder.

She came across her brother’s grave to pay respect,
While she cried, the sun god plotted what was next.
The sun quickly rose, brighter than ever,
Blinding the sister, which was very clever.

The magic pail slipped from her hand,
And unfortunately emptied itself upon dry land.
The sister with nowhere left to turn, jumped from the ledge,
Joining her brother now that she had fulfilled her pledge.

Little did she know where the water landed,
Grew a river, that quickly expanded.
It spread out its banks and rushed to our land
And freely refreshes each woman and man.

So here lies a statue that may cause a tear
But we honor our heroes who walked without fear
We honor the twins who went up the hill,
Our town’s greatest patrons, the great Jack and Jill.

“A Long Hard Road”

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by Daniel Richardson, Class of 2015

“Jeeerrreeemmmiiaaahhhh!!!” The little girl called, giggling from her hiding place inside the large metal slide. She wore a lacey green dress, slightly smudged with dirt, a yellow bow pinned in her light brown hair as she waited to be found. In the distance the rhythmic clang of the church bell echoed through the rural town of New Faith, beckoning the city towards the white steeple. The boy seemed not to hear it or at least pretended not to; instead he continued his search around the deserted playground as the warm summer sun beaded sweat against his brow. The sweet sound of soft laughter soon led him to the red slide, the excitement evident on his youthful face as he slid down to where his friend crouched.

“Found you! Now come on, we are going to be late for the service,” he stated his tone was calm, but she could detect the small trace of anxiety rising in his voice as he pictured the red face and angry shouts of his father.

“No,” she replied hesitantly, like the workings of her nine-year-old mind were at war with themselves. “Let’s just stay here for a while, Jeremiah… I don’t want to go to church today.”

“What do you mean ‘no ?’ Mrs. Aniston will throw a fit if you don’t show up for Sunday school again!”

She stared at him, her hazel eyes picking past his defenses, searching for some hidden clue or sign. Slowly her lips began to form a question, one that would take him by surprise and haunt him for the remainder of his days. Samantha had a way of doing that, making him wonder sometimes if she was older than she said she was; he guessed in some ways they both were.

“Do you love me, Jeremiah?” She did not blink but Jeremiah could feel the hope in her voice. In that moment it felt as if their roles had been swapped, that she was older and he younger, caught for once in a loss of words.

“Samantha…” he started, having no idea where he might end. He had never thought about her romantically. Of course she had always been a friend to him, a rare one at that; he never had many friends. Even the adults looked down on him with disdain, calling him “The murderer’s brat” when they thought he wasn’t listening. But Samantha had always been like a sister to him, and she was so young, and so very naive. The dozen answers which had formed at the top of his mind all fell away as he looked again at her innocent face.

“Yes, Samantha, I do love you,” he whispered, and as the words rolled off his lips he knew they were true. So they had remained throughout the rest of his life.

Slowly the scene faded before his aging eyes. The shiny red slide darkened, and the paint transformed into dull brown rust. The rest of the playground followed suit. The wood began to decay and in some places disappear completely while the hot summer sun gave way to a dreary November sky. Jeremiah stood there with one hand clutching the inside of his jacket, the other resting on an old wooden cane. It had been nearly eighty years since he had spoken those words. Eighty long years, filled with regret and sorrow. He had always been a coward no matter what he may have once believed, and he had proven it when he ran away at seventeen. He had known they would be coming for him, coming to rip him from his home and lock him away in some prison cell to await the hangman’s noose. And so he fled, leaving Samantha and all he knew behind in his rush to escape. To his credit, after two years of running he had returned for her, waiting until the safety of night before climbing up and knocking on her window.

“Do you love me, Jeremiah?” she had asked, brown hair flickering in the cool breeze. Her face was tinted red as if she had been crying; but no matter how many times he had told her, told her that he loved her and that she was the shining light in his dark world, she had refused to leave with him. “They will understand. You don’t have to run anymore, Jeremiah. It’s been two years.” But he knew they wouldn’t understand. Instead they would leave him as lifeless as the man he had killed. Samantha has always been so innocent, how could she ever understand what he’d done? Her words only angered him, and he left in a fit of emotion. He swore as he cried himself to sleep that night that he would never love again, that love was for the weak and would only lead to sorrow.

Regardless of this, he had always meant to return, to run back to her and fall to her feet; but then the war began. That god-awful war which brought in boys with promises of glory and returned them home in body bags. He had not set foot in the town of New Faith since that night; and it was here now that he stood, in front of the crumbling ruin of the old school playground.

“Mr. Reed?” the voice of a young man came from behind him, forcing him out of the dark cloud of nostalgia and back onto the solid ground of reality.

“Yes, that’s me,” Jeremiah answered, turning to face the man “Do I know you?” He was young, in his late twenties if Jeremiah had to guess. He was dressed in khaki slacks, a white oxford with a blue tie, and a long black trench coat that was splattered with little drops of water, as if it had rained on his walk here. In one hand he held a brown leather briefcase that looked like it may have been as old as he was.

“I’m Samantha Grange’s grandson, Anthony Grange; I received your letter in the…”

“I’m sorry boy; I’m afraid I don’t know a Samantha Grange,” Jeremiah interrupted him, his face turning to stone as he slowly put in place the pieces of the puzzle.

“Sorry, you would have known her by her maiden name, Ashton. Samantha Ashton.”

So she had gotten married then. He should have assumed as much. It wasn’t like she had been expected to wait for him. Still the news came as something of a shock, like when one dives into a pool, only to find out the water is cold.

“I see. Could you take me to your grandmother then, son? I’m an old friend, and I’d like to see her one last time.” The area was quiet and for the most part peaceful besides the distant murmur of car engines from the town center. It was only the two of them standing there, but still Jeremiah’s question seemed to hang in the air for eternity before being answered.

Anthony was at a loss of words, finally with something of a sigh he responded. “Sir, my grandmother died two months ago.”

The sentence hit him like a bullet. Samantha was dead. His Samantha was dead.

“It was cancer that killed her in the end. I received your letter last week. I’m living out of her old house now you see, and so I have come to meet you, and give you this,” he finished, lifting up the old briefcase.

The warmth left Jeremiah’s shaking hand as he reached out to take the case from Anthony.

“She talked about you a lot, especially after my grandfather died. She told me she had never forgotten you and always meant to see you again one day. These are the things she left for

you if you should ever come back.” With those words he turned to leave, his black trench coat fluttering in the wind.

“Where is she buried?” Jeremiah called out after him, his face beginning to contort as he desperately tried to hold back the tears.

“In the old church’s graveyard,” Anthony replied, seeming anxious to depart. “Is it true what they say? That you killed a man?” he asked, and after a few moments of uncomfortable silence started back down the gravel road.

Jeremiah stood there and watched him for a solid minute, his weary mind again beginning to fog with bleak clouds of old memories. Almost angrily he put them aside and looked at the briefcase he held before him. On the front, scrawled into the battered leather a single word could be made out, and in his mind he heard her childhood voice calling out to him.

“Jeeerrreeemmmiiaaahhhh.”

Solemnly his anger instantly fell away, and with a tear in his eye he began to hobble down the road towards the old white church. In the distance the rhythmic clang of the church bell echoed through the bustling city of New Faith, beckoning all who could hear towards the white steeple. After some time the crumbling brick and rotting beams of the building came into view.

The church in his childhood had been the gem of the town, a beautiful building with a crisp green lawn and glittering stain glass windows. In recent times, however, it seemed to have fallen to the wayside, and stood now in a state of forgotten disrepair. To its right a vast graveyard stretched down a sloping hill, shaded from the dull sun by the yellow leaves of a giant oak. A handful of cars were parked outside the church, some of them so ancient they could be

considered collectors’ items. Seeing them here he vaguely recalled it was Sunday. The fools of the world would be attending their churches, where they would be promised happiness and prosperity. They were all clueless; life was nothing more than a meaningless pit of torment. If there was a God, then he was cruel and merciless. Jeremiah’s faith had long since died with his father, and now it seemed that vengeance was being wrought upon him for it. Samantha was dead. His Samantha was dead.

Desperately he wandered the graves, searching for the final resting place of the only person he had ever truly loved. His heart ached as nearly every grave he stumbled upon bore the name of someone he once knew. Through the cracked church windows the pastor’s fiery sermon could be heard across the valley.

“Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. What does man gain by all the toil which he toils under the sun?”

Jeremiah grimaced as he heard the words; he found irony in the fact that he and the preacher seemed to agree. Life was worthless. Presently his eyes landed upon a patch of fresh dirt under the broad sweeping branches of the old oak tree. In front of the dirt a simple white tombstone rested, a stark contrast to the elaborate graves which surrounded it. Almost timidly Jeremiah approached the grave, fearing what he might see.

Samantha Ashton Grange Born June 5, 1919

Died September 17, 2012
May she always live in our Hearts

Jeremiah fell to his knees as his body began to shake uncontrollably. His old limbs seemed to fail him, forcing him down into the soft dirt. Clumsily he wrestled with the brass clasp on the old leather briefcase, the memory of Samantha’s soft voice coursing through his head.

“Jeeerrreeemmmiiaaahhhh…”

His breathing had increased and he was panting by the time the latch finally opened, revealing the long awaited contents of the case. The last things that Samantha had intended him to see before she had died, one final message from beyond the grave. Inside, a crinkled yellow piece of paper sat atop a small book. Two items. That was all. He reached down and slowly withdrew them both. The book was a Bible and an old one at that, the simple design of a cross etched onto the front cover. Carefully, he opened it to the front page, only to find it dedicated to Samantha Ashton on the occasion of her baptism. Had she really bought into this stuff? He quietly set it to the side and reached down for the note. A single sentence was written, inscribed in her elegant handwriting the he still recognized to this day.

“Do you love me, Jeremiah?”

Kneeling under the shade of the great oak tree tears began to fall uncontrollably from his eyes. “Yes…” he whispered, struggling to form the word. “Yes, Samantha, yes I do love you!” As he sat there weeping, all the failures and struggles of his life invaded his heart and mind. Why had all this happened to him? Did God hate him? Jeremiah could not blame him if he did. He was a failure, a coward… a murderer. Life had long since been his torture chamber.

Weary and broken he stared yet again at the yellow sheet of paper, Samantha’s last question would be forever unanswered and he despised himself because of it. He flipped it over in his hand, unable to stare at the beautiful words any longer, only to find yet another sentence written on the back. His heart skipped a beat as he continued to read.

“Then love God for he is the one who made me, and though you may not believe it, he loves you in return.”

Trembling Jeremiah rose to his feet, his weight supported by the old wooden cane. His weary eyes wandered to the white cross atop the ancient steeple. “You never really give up do you?” He thought, groaning as he reached down and lifted Samantha’s Bible from where it sat in the dirt. Through the broken windows of the church you could still hear the powerful voice of the preacher echoing across the valley.

“Let us conclude today’s message with John 3:16, ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. Amen…”

Silently, his face contorted with emotion Jeremiah hobbled up towards the white church building, Samantha’s final words on his mind.

The Place Where I Belong by Olivia Godfrey

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Olivia Godfrey
Mr. Kross
American Literature 9B December 3, 2012

The Place Where I Belong

 

Hi, my name is Mary Emily Black and I was born in 1953 and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota. I am twenty-three years old and am currently living in Carson City, Nevada. In the fourth grade, everyone in my class was given a pen pal from somewhere in the United States. My pen pal’s name was Lucy and she lived in Sacramento, California. I wrote Lucy at least once a week, telling her all about school and my family. Lucy was an only child too, but we both wanted a sibling terribly. Through our letters, Lucy and I became such close friends. All throughout elementary and middle school, we wrote to each other every week. During my first year of high school, I went to the mail box to receive my letter from Lucy. I quickly opened it, but there was no letter inside. Instead, there was a ticket that fell out of the envelope onto the driveway. I hurriedly picked the ticket up to see what it was for. Attached to the train ticket was a note which said,

This is for you to come and visit me soon! Cannot wait to see you in person!

Love, Lucy

I was so surprised and filled with excitement as I read her little note and held the ticket in my trembling hands. Throughout the rest of that day, I could not stop smiling as my heart raced with eagerness.

About a week before I was going to leave to visit Lucy, my mom became sick with Scarlet Fever. This was devastating not only because scarlet fever can be deadly, but because my mom was, at the time, six months pregnant. I had always longed for a sister. Although my mom was very sick, I wanted so badly to go meet Lucy for the first time.

“Go on,” my mom would say, “I’m getting better. Don’t you worry about me.” But I could tell in her eyes that she was not. However, I convinced myself that she would get better and that I could not waste a ticket that was given as a gift. So, as planned, I left to go to Sacramento, California.

Before I knew it, I was climbing aboard the train to California. I had never ridden on a train before. The smell of the train station was like that of a gathering of people who had not showered for days. As I raised my handkerchief to my nose, I took one step at a time to find my place on the inside of the train. On the inside it smelled like Christmas morning. The fresh scent of pine wood was in the air. Everyone on the train looked so kind and friendly. I must have stood in the door way for at least ten minutes, my eyes growing bigger by the second as I took in the atmosphere around me.

I moved from the doorway down the aisle of the first car. Booths and chairs were along the isle to each side. The chairs were quickly filling up with the people eager to find a place to sit. I looked around for an open chair or booth. Way in the back, at the very end of the aisle, was a booth with two seats on either side. I immediately bolted down the aisle in order to claim that seat because there was no way I would stand during that whole train ride. As I sat down, I heaved a huge sigh of relief. Now all that was left was to enjoy the ride.

I waited for the engine to begin huffing and puffing, for the sound of the people at the station to yell at their loved ones “good-bye!” This was all a new adventure for me, and I eagerly waited for it to begin.

“Excuse me, is this seat taken?” I looked up to see an elderly woman, probably in her early sixties, standing in front of me. She smelled like she was wearing a very expensive perfume and she wore a bright red leather coat.

“No, it’s not,” I responded.

“Well then I guess it has my name on it,” she replied giving me a sweet old- lady smile. I smiled back and then quickly jerked my head to stare out of the window because I was not sure it would be polite to observe this elderly lady anymore.

After about half an hour or so, I turned from the foggy glass to see the old lady knitting something that looked to be a scarf. She had a bright purple yarn and two silver knitting needles.

She saw that I was looking at her work and said, “Oh, this is for my granddaughter. She is sick with scarlet fever, so I figured it would be nice to make her a gift. I can’t even imagine her lying in bed all day so miserably. She was always so full of life and energy.” As the old lady continued to tell me all about her granddaughter and all her grandkids, I began to think about what she had said about her granddaughter having so much energy. My mother used to be that way before she became sick. Always so happy and content. But now, every time I thought of her, I saw her just lying there, as though all the energy had been sucked out of her. It was like she was not even the same woman anymore.

“I haven’t properly introduced myself. My name is Miss Anna Watkins, but you may call me Anna. And you are?”

“My name is Mary Emily Black.”
“Well it’s very nice to meet you Mary Emily. Where are you off to?” “California. I am going to visit a friend.”

“California! Wow that’s a long ways away for such a young girl to go by herself. I’m headed to Carson City, Nevada myself. How old are you sweetie?”

“I turn fifteen in December. My friend who I am going to visit actually bought this ticket for me. I was almost not able to go, though, because my mom became sick with scarlet fever.”

“Well I am happy to know she is better now. Family is the most important thing in life. It is always important to be there for your family, even in the toughest times, so that they may support you when you need it.”

I thought about what she had said and began to feel my stomach turning inside me. “Miss Anna? My mother is not better. She is still sick and I left her.”

“You poor thing! Don’t cry. Everything is alright. Everything is–” She started to cough in between words until finally, her coughing ceased.

“Miss Anna? Miss Anna, can you hear me? Somebody, anybody, help!” Those where the last few words I screamed before I was surrounded by darkness.

When I awoke I found myself still on a train, but a different one. I slowly sat up and looked around. I do not remember if I fainted or blacked out, but all I do remember is waking up and not recognizing anyone. What had happened to Miss Anna? She was nowhere in sight. I prayed that she had made it safely to her granddaughter and that whatever had happened to her was not too severe.

“Ma’am, excuse me? Where is this train headed?” “Minnesota,” she replied with a twinkle in her eye.

I was so thrilled to be on my way home. I didn’t care how, but I was on my way to where I was needed the most and where I belonged.