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Voted Best Piece of Literature in Creative Writing Honors Period 4

Tulips

- Tyler Cahill

 

    It kills me that I don’t remember. That no faculty in my mind can muster up the shot, with utmost precision, of my sisters and I darting through the grass field, winding through the ocean of tulip beds, bowing undergrowth, and noble, lofty oak trees. Of course it’s there, the memory. Just not as explicit as I wish it still was. The details, naturally, wore away over the years. But it’s there. 

    “Are we going to the tulip park?”

    “Yes, we are. Now I’m going to need you, Eva, and Megan to get up and get dressed so we’re not late for Church. Make sure you’re in short sleeves, it’s warm out,” Mom said.

    Scampering out of the room into the hallway, my thoughts danced around the tulips. I entertained the image of the budding meadow on a cool, spring Sunday in April, my cheeks swathed in sunlight, soft hues of an earthy, herbal aroma, a pasture that stretched for acres. If wearing a nice shirt and behaving during Mass was the only price I had to pay, I’d shell it out four times over, as long as it meant a subsequent outing at the park. 

    The special port of call for that afternoon was Sherwood Gardens, a private site in Northern Baltimore that annually housed tens of thousands of plantings, most notably bulb tulips. For me, it wasn’t merely a recreational spot, but a fluorescent wonderland a 10-year-old kid could get lost in. Mom said if you went too early, nothing would have bloomed yet, and if you went too late, they'd all be dead. The trip never came soon enough.

    I wedged myself into a pair of ivory khaki pants, a plaid blue button-down, and my new slip-on shoes I’d gotten for Easter. Once downstairs, I flipped to “Full House” over a bowl of cereal and glass of juice. The program was short-lived, however; Mom had decided in the dwindling moments before our departure that my green shirt would be better than the blue, and I wasn’t to step out of the house until that was the one I had on.

   “Why do you bother to tell me to pick out my clothes if you know you’re just going to choose different ones anyway?” 

   “Because I’m your mother. Just throw it on; it’ll take you two seconds, and you’ll look so handsome in it for the pictures.”

    I traded outfits, locked up the house, and tore across the yard to the Honda. My face clung to the window as we rumbled over patched neighborhood streets, navigating through the quiet corner stores or deserted local middle schools. Dad called it the “scenic route”; the expressway could get us to Church in ten to fifteen minutes at most, but he insisted on long, unpopulated strips of rubble and side roads whenever he was at the wheel. 

   The service dragged on for what could only be ages. I thumbed through the hymnal while the girls invented a game of fooling around with the kneeler or one another or both, until my parents forced them to separate for causing a scene. My heart surged with anticipation as the priest ran through the closing rites. At “Go in peace,” I would’ve bolted for the exits if Dad hadn’t occupied the aisle seat. Upon the organ’s final chimes, I raced to the arched, ebony doors.

   Reaching the row of houses that bordered the garden, I was overcome with nostalgia, like reconnecting with a childhood best friend or discovering an old video that you couldn’t help but watch over and over; it made you feel giddy inside. We found a spot on one of the avenues that bounded the park. I think Mom asked me to grab something from the trunk, but I don’t remember. By that point I was already in a dead sprint from the car to the field, Eva and Megan on my heels. We passed willow trees and sycamores. We passed blossoming crimson and yellow lilies, golden daffodils, lavender hyacinths, and various hybrids of every color imaginable.

   We got to the tulips. They were Mom’s favorites, so we waited by them for a bit until Mom and Dad caught up. They were orange at first, a citrus orange that emanated a tantalizing, fiery glow in the daylight. As you moved, they rolled into deep reds, rose pinks, satin velvets. We snapped a few photos that my sisters and I objected to–I’m sure Mom still has them lying around the house somewhere, in one of her scrapbooks. We climbed the trees, the low-bearing ones that were easy to scale but felt adventurous enough, the kind you could nestle into at the top. On occasion, I’d just perch myself there, scanning over the garden.

   Mom says just about when my sisters and I became teenagers, we didn’t want to go to the tulip park anymore. We were too grown-up. No more anxiously sitting through church services that droned on, desperately yearning for what was to come; I sat patiently through the ceremony now, like my parents. No more last-minute attire swaps; no more backroad escapades. I had clothes to pick out for myself now, driving to do on my own. No more racing through the garden, without any stresses or fears, without any cares in the world to tend to.

Voted Best Photo-Submission for 2021 Literary Magazine

The Wires

- Cole Hospelhorn

Image 3-25-21 at 1.15 PM.jpg

Voted Best Piece of Literature in Creative Writing Honors Period 8

there had been a time

- Caden Heiser-Cerrato

 

the woman had already gotten up.

she sat silently in the kitchen

with a coffee and the morning paper.

 

what happened today, the man asked. 

nothing, nothing at all, the woman replied.

the man made some oatmeal. he chewed it

 

in the empty kitchen. do you always have to be

so loud?  the woman asked. he ignored her 

and walked into the bathroom. a small, hand-held 

 

mirror was out and he could see all his wrinkles. 

the television was on, and a woman 

was faintly saying, well to feel better you should try—

 

and she was fading, and the man was fading as he 

turned her off. there were no places to go, and so 

the man walked to the beach. it was quiet, and waves

 

were throwing themselves at the shore. nobody 

was around and the man sat down. he picked 

up some grains of sand, and then let them fall 

 

through the gaps between his fingers. he wondered 

about the grains—if his son had placed his little feet 

in them when he was a boy, or if they had laid here

 

unperturbed for years. there had been a time 

in which the man loved the beach, but it was no longer so. 

what a cruel joke it all is, muttered the man to himself. 

 

it had been ten years since his son passed. he couldn’t 

get around it anymore, and he couldn’t go to work to escape.

there was just the little, dimming house and its memories.

 

the woman didn’t care about the man. they only stayed together 

because of the boy and he was gone now. 

what is the use, the man asked whispering, if there is no purpose 

 

anymore? still in his pajamas, he walked into the shallow water.

standing there for a moment, water washed around him, 

pushed forward and pushed back, and he was unmoved. 

 

the woman walked outside and asked the man what he was doing. 

killing myself, the man replied. the woman didn’t say anything 

and went back inside. the man pressed deeper into the ocean.

 

water rose to his knees, then his chest, then his neck. with one more step,

he submerged his head. he stayed there, floating in the dark.

his vision started to fade, and he was losing himself 

 

in the ocean. there was nothing, nothing at all, and so the man 

emerged from the water, coughing and sputtering, but still alive. 

and that was something.

Winner of Cover Photo Contest
Sign of the Times
 - Mateen Kane
48D7DDCB-FF2A-4E0B-864E-AE362766EED4 - M
2nd Place of Flash Fiction Contest 2021 

The Big White Spider

- William Brandenburg

   In Anytown, there is a small girl in a classroom. She and the other children are sitting down on colorful mats and listening to their teacher talk. 

   “Now children,” says the teacher, “There’s two parts of Anytown, there’s the part where we live where we can live our lives how we want and do what makes us happy without fear. But, there’s another part of Anytown, where a Big White Spider makes a red web and traps the people inside. The Big White Spider crafts bright red silk, and the people who live there are stuck inside.”

   The girl wants to say: “My mommy and daddy and the red-tie man say that those spiders don’t exist, and the people there trapped themselves.” But she thinks hard, and nobody who looks like the people under the spiderweb goes to her school, plays on the playground, or lives near her. 

   The teacher continues, “Now, the Big White Spider will send blue and red flashing lights after people inside the spiderweb, but if anyone escapes, the spider sends many more after them.” 

   The girl wants to say: “But the blue and red flashing lights are nice to me and my mommy and daddy and the red-tie man.” But she thinks hard, and the people who live under the spiderweb are not treated nice by the red and blue flashing lights. 

   When she gets home, she tells her mommy and daddy and brother about the Big White Spider. “Nonsense,” her brother says, “there’s no such thing as a Big White Spider who traps people in red silk. The people in that part of Anytown trapped themselves.” 

   The family goes and tries to find the Big White Spider. “There it is,” says the girl, “see big brother, can’t you see it?”

   “You’re making things up.” Says the brother. The spiderweb tightens when he says that.

   “You should listen to your brother, sweetie,” says the mother. The spiderweb tightens again.

   “Honey, someone’s putting crazy thoughts into your head.” The spiderweb tightens again. 

The daughter says nothing. She doesn’t know how to respond. All she knows is that the Big White Spider is there and has been there for a long time. The words from her family and the red-tie man on TV keep her quiet. The spiderweb tightens again.