77 Cents

By: Mansi Garneni

A dollar can buy a lot. It can buy a candy bar. A slice of pizza. A bad song on iTunes that you only like because “they played it at Coachella! You had to be there.”

It can pay the fare for the elevator ride to success, whizzing past those scrambling up the corporate ladder. And everyone knows you can’t climb a ladder if you’re wrapped in a bodycon dress.

It can buy your way into penthouse suites. Into the safety and security of a 401K once the corporate ladder has been climbed and conquered.

It can demand your way to “authoritative,” instead of “bossy.” To “career-oriented,” instead of “selfish.”

A dollar can buy a lot. And they expect me to sit here, with my hands folded demurely in my lap, in a dress with too much lace to be considered practical clothing, content with my 77 cents.

 

 

Mansi is a 16-year-old from California.



Embrace the Fear!

By: Jolie Dunlap

The van shook me back and forth, rattling my bones to the core. I took a deep breath and stared out the window. I felt as if I was as brave as a lion, but as dumb as a dodo. Looking at the beautiful scenery took my mind away from the fear gathering inside of me. It had been three days since my family and I arrived in New Zealand. We had been touring Queenstown, looking at their stores and trying their food; today, we would do the most stupid—and most awesome—thing in our lives. The van hit another bump and I looked up to see an open field with sheep grazing in it. Two small buildings stood out in the vast, rolling field. My sister, sitting next to me, leaned forward and smiled.

“Are you ready?” she asked. I nodded. Half of me was ready but the other half wasn’t.

The van pulled to a stop and the driver stood up. “Okay everyone, we are here,” she said as she slid the door open. Three other people got out in front of us, and then my family got out. I stepped out of the van and looked to my left. There was a waiting room, and to my right was the sign-in room. My family started to walk towards the sign-in building. I trailed behind, and looked at the field. That's when I had noticed dots falling from the sky. They got bigger and bigger as they came into my view.

“Jolie!” my mom said from the door to the building. I pulled myself away from the dots that fell out of the sky and ran over to my mother. As I walked into the building there was a front desk to my right, and merchandise to my left. All the way in the back was an open room with a sitting area in the middle. T.Vs were lined on the walls with pictures of different people flashed on the screens. I wandered over to them and looked at the people.

“I think these are the jumpers,” my sister said as she walked over to me.

“Yeah, did you see the guy that jumped 30,000 times?” I asked. She nodded. I could tell she was excited; her eyes shined and a smile wouldn’t leave her face. My mom came over and sat down on one of the chairs. I walked over to her and she smiled at me.

“I have so much adrenaline coursing through me, I feel like I’m going to die!” she said excitedly. I sat down next to her and held out my hand to show her, palm down. It shook violently.

My dad came over and sat down next to my mom and took her hand in his. He started to talk to her, but I wasn’t listening. Instead, I looked out the window and watched a small Cessna 182 Skylane plane turn into the field and pull up right outside where all the jumpers were folding the parachutes and drinking coffee. The lady at the front desk walked over to us with a paper in her hands.

“Richard?” she asked. My dad stood up and walked over to the lady. They started to talk and I watched as the lady nodded her head and pointed outside the double doors. My dad thanked her and walked back over to us.

“We’re up.”

The lady took us through the double doors and into the hanger. A blast of cold air blew into my face as we walked into the room. She led us over to the left to an open area where some lockers stood by a wall. We put our stuff in them and the lady handed us gray jumpsuits. I slipped it on and zipped it all the way to the middle of my neck. The lady walked up to me with a young man beside her. He was Brazilian, and my height, with a beard. “This is Will, he is going to be your jumper.”

I smiled at him, and he smiled back. “Alright, let's get you set up,” he said and gave me some gloves, goggles, and a white cap.

After we were all suited up we started to head to the plane. There were long metal benches that were bolted to the floor of the plane. Will slid in first, then I did; so did my family, one by one, till we were all squeezed in. Will started to pull, strap, tug, and hook my suit to his. I watched as all the other jumpers did the same thing to each member of my family. That’s when I felt the engines turn on and the plane move. I stared out the window and watched the lavish green fields swiftly go by us, as if I fast-forwarded a National Geographic documentary. The plane lifted from the ground and started its climb. We soon flew over Wakatipu lake, the beautiful ink blue water standing out from the snow-capped mountains that surrounded the lake.

“Are you nervous?” Will asked. I shook my head. I was surprised with myself because my heartbeat was steady and calm. “I’ve jumped almost 11,000 times and I’m nervous,” Will said thoughtfully. “Isn’t that ironic?”

I nodded. My eyes were glued to the window. We were passing over the Remarkables. It had snowed the other day so they were now white. The jumpers said that this was, by far, the most beautiful day to do it. They were right. It was breathtaking. Between the vibrant blue lake and snow-white mountains, we couldn’t have picked a better day.

“14,000 feet!” The pilot called back to us.

Will brought down an oxygen mask that hanged from the roof of the plane. He stretched it over my head so that the mask covered my nose and mouth. “Just breathe normally,” he said. The other jumpers did the same thing to my family. “We're right now dying,” he said with a laugh, “but we’re going to get higher.” He was right, at 14,000 feet the body starts to die. It didn’t comfort me, but it did keep my mind off of what was going the be happening in a few minutes.

“15,000 feet!” the pilot shouted.

My dad was first. The jumper slid the door open. The plane filled with a blast of ice cold wind. The jumper started to shout things at my dad. I couldn’t hear and my heart pounded in my ears. I watched my dad lean his head back onto the jumper’s shoulder. The light next to them was red--3!--my dad grabbed his straps covering his chest--2!--the jumper got into position--1!--the light turned green--they jumped out! I heard the voices of my family cheering him on along with my own voice.

My mom was next. The same pattern. The jumper got into position, my mom grabbed her straps, the light turned green. They jumped. My sister was next--moved into position--grabbed her straps--light turned green--they jumped. My turn.

Will slid us forward to the edge of the plane. My feet dangled off into the space between us and the earth lost somewhere far below us.

Will started to yell. “Put your head on my shoulder!” I did. “Glue your feet to the bottom of the plane!” My feet banged against the bottom of the plane. “Grab your straps.” My hands squeezed the straps. “Okay, here we go!” My heart started to pound like a drum. “Three!”

I shook like a leaf in the wind.

“Two!”

The fear to jump started flowing through my veins.

“ONE!”

I’m really doing this!

We jumped. My stomach tightened and turned. My voice rung in the noise of 125 mph. I felt a light tap on my shoulder and I extended my arms to catch the wind. The butterflies in my stomach disappeared, my fear turned into pure happiness. The thrill of staring down at snow-capped mountains, ink blue water, and the green land below me raced through my body. I felt as if I was on cloud 9. The flight of feeling free. The ice cold wind burned my face but I didn’t care; I was on top of the world and no one could ever change that. I looked down and saw white dots scattered on the ground. They were sheep. Surrounding them were roads, farms, and small buildings. Cars raced below me looking like ants that were scurrying around an anthill, with green hills surrounding them and white blankets covering the mountains.

I looked down at the ground and watched as it started to come closer, but a sudden jerk slowed us to peace and quiet. The sound of wind and the frozen air all came to silence. I was still pumped on adrenaline, but I was at ease. I looked down at the ground still far below me. I looked up and smiled to myself. Though fear stared me down, I stared right back at it, and I conquered my fear to achieve my goal.

“Lift your legs,” Will said as we came into the landing zone. I obeyed his command and lifted my legs. He turned the parachute to the left and started to drift towards the ground. I felt my legs skid on the moist grass and come to a stop. “You just survived 15,000 feet, how do you feel?” Will asked me.

“Awesome!” I said. My other family members had already landed and were walking to the buildings. We got changed, went into the building, and got t-shirts for souvenirs.

“All right, we can go now,” the driver who brought us said. We all walked to the van and got in. The engine started and we turned onto the road and drove back. I leaned my head back and stared out the window with a smile on my face. I did it, and this memory would never leave my heart. The memory of seeing new heights, overcoming a fear, and realizing the achievements that came from it.

Finally, I could say I’ve been skydiving.

 

Jolie is a 14-year-old from Arizona.

 



Can You Draw Like This?

By: Anika Tullos

Can You Draw Like This?

Humbling skyscrapers, heart-stopping monuments, glistening fountains, and the sights and sounds of hundreds of people in every direction was an image more often than not conjured within the prison of my imagination. Considering I was native to a modest, rural town in the forested region of Southeast Massachusetts, a building hosting more than four floors was considered much more impressive than it actually was. The inherent behavior of my hometown made it evident that humans were at the mercy of nature. Buildings did not grow higher than trees. Roads were not without cracks from erosion and the emerald grasses that picked them apart, albeit gradually. A rainfall meant that basements would be flooding and our great many lakes and ponds would block streets and engulf backyards in their overflow. A rare hurricane, or even an all-too-common thunderstorm or blizzard, would almost certainly knock down telephone poles and send trees flying into cars and homes without restraint. As if she were the Grim Reaper haunting our streets, Mother Nature would end a life just by pointing her windy finger. Some days, it seemed the world decided that my daily life seemed constantly in need of a nature-borne obstacle, and the weather acted accordingly.
Perhaps these surroundings are what lead humanity’s greatest triumphs to baffle me. It is thoroughly amazing that our species can launch something that reaches farther into outer space than we ever dreamed possible a few generations ago. It is incomprehensible to me that we have been able to spread to every corner of the globe and thrive there. It is nothing short of wonderful to stand face-to-face with an office building that reaches a hundred stories into the sky where it condenses into a point at the edge of my field of vision. I have spent years of my life constantly stupefied by the world’s most impressive accomplishments on the fronts of both nature and humanity. It never fails to inspire me and plant a smile on my face.
For the longest time, I have been fixated on New York City. While it was possible that I simply craved this feeling of amazement, I also was fully aware that the overcast Massachusetts nights were lonely and silent aside from the occasional hum of crickets and hoot of owls. I wanted to fall asleep to the sounds of horns honking and the incomprehensible chatter of human speech. The problem with too much silence is that there remains a tendency for thoughts to wander and find ways to amaze their designer, often to the point of dragging consciousness into the small hours of the morning.
My wishes finally became reality when my mother and I boarded a six-hour bus ride destined for the Big Apple early on a foggy August morning. The farther south we traveled, the more magnificent my surroundings grew. My amazement would be nothing compared to the skyline of New York City herself, standing proudly in the sunlight. This was not the first time I had visited. In fact, I had walked the streets of this particular city twice before with family and friends. Nevertheless, I was excited and ready to return for more.
My mother and I spent the day walking the entire expanse of Manhattan. Not only was I in awe of my surroundings, but I was also very impressed that it was possible for my feet to ache as much as they did at the end of the day. When I plopped onto my likely-uncomfortable hotel bed, it suddenly became the most wonderful place on Earth. Once in a blue moon, I sleep like a baby, with no strange and perplexing thoughts. My first night in Manhattan was one of those great exceptions.
What happened the next day was what changed my perspective on humanity’s dominion over nature forever. My feet still sore from the previous day, my mother and I traveled by subway to Central Park in hopes of visiting both the Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This being my third visit to both of these museums, I already knew of my preference for the former. However, some very fond memories were made in the latter. My excitement to return to both of them was running high.
There are two indications that imply an incredible experience - either time stops or time loses its meaning. In the Metropolitan, the hours passed as though they were being warped by my own brain, as if it were so focused on its surroundings that it simply lost the ability to understand the fourth dimension. After all, the art in this museum only needs the first three.
My favorite part of the Met is the area hosting the artwork created millennia ago by the Ancient Egyptians. I have always been fascinated not only by the style but by the theology behind their artistic decisions. Gazing at the jackal-headed statues and the depictions of animals as deities and leaders brings one closer to what it means to be human. The Ancient Egyptians saw nature as the ruling force of their entire realm, and while they live in a time long gone, they stand out in a city where many of these forces once deemed godly are subservient. I suppose the artwork is relatable, in a way.
Once we stepped out of the elegant yet primitive Egyptian gallery, we made our way into the high-reaching, dome-topped contrast that was the Greek and Roman statue room. Where Egypt failed to capture perspective and proportion, these works were as lifelike as the people staring up at them. One lonely, older man was sitting on a stool in the center of the room with an easel, intently focused on his drawing. Wearing a pink button-down shirt and a beige beret with matching khakis, he resembled one’s idea of a stereotypical artist. Curious, my mother and I walked behind him to see what it was that he was sketching. What was on the canvas was breathtaking. His hand steady and moving with ease, a hyper-realistic sketch of the statue just in front of him was taking form. I instantly knew I would never be able to draw like that. While we had just spent three hours so far wandering halls boasting the greatest artwork humanity could offer, it was at this moment that I truly felt inadequate.
The artist stopped his work and turned around, an inviting smile forming on his face. “Do you draw?” he asked.
I glanced back at my mother and shrugged. “Yeah. Sometimes.”
“Do you like to draw?”
I hesitated for a moment, unsure of where he was going with this conversation. Sure, I like to draw. I love writing even more. Even though I hide it, I enjoy singing too, so long as I am alone. “Yes,” I said, “I like to draw.”
“Do you want to draw like this?”
“One day, certainly.”
The artist smiled a bit wider. “Can you draw like this?”
I giggled to myself. Of course not. “No way,” I replied, slightly embarrassed.
He nodded and shifted himself to face me head on. “Do you draw?” I raised a brow. Hadn’t he just asked the same question before? Was I going crazy? He took my hand and placed his pen in my palm, wrapping my fingers around it. “Do you draw?”
“Yes,” I said, quietly. “I draw.”
He nodded, moving my hand and holding it to his canvas. “You can draw like this.” I remained silent. “There are two kinds of people in this world - people who want to draw and people who draw. There are people who want to write and people who write. There are people who want to be artists and there are artists. So long as you take a pen in your hand and create something, you have the world in your hands. People judge their skills on how good they are now, and that is what stops ninety percent of the world’s greatest creators from ever coming to be. That is why talent means nothing without perseverance.”
“So,” he began after a pause, gently smiling. “Can you draw like this?”
I stared at the picture on the easel. How could I ever draw like this? Then, it dawned on me. There are three more kinds of people in this world. There are people who allow nature to control them. There are people who are foolish enough to believe they are above such forces. And there are people who harness the power of the natural world. They wield it by setting it free in the form of art.

“Yes, I can.”

 

 

Anika Tullos is a 16-year-old from Massachusetts.



Woods

By: Stephanie Nevers

Woods

Life was fun and easy growing up. There were three of us: my older brother, Konrad, my twin sister, Cassie, and me. We grew up in an old farmhouse that was on the other side of town, away from Main Street. As kids, we fought more than normal, but I got picked on the most as the middle child. There was always a tendency for Konrad and Cassie to go do something fun without me because of their similar interest in gaming. I tended to be independent and do things on my own. I enjoyed drawing and watching television, but I also just liked to imagine things. I think a lot, and my imagination helps me put my mind towards something that I can enjoy.

Cassie and I have shared a room for our whole lives. You would have thought that the everyday interaction from being home together would be the same at school, but it wasn’t. I never saw her most school days. Being the tomboy that I was, I usually hung out with the boys playing basketball while she played with the girls who liked gymnastics. The weird part about it is that’s all I really remember about her when we were young. We never really talked to each other until later in eighth grade. There’s not much to remember about my brother either. With him being four years older than I was, we always went different ways. I looked up to him in many aspects though, and always stole his large sweatshirts and shorts.

The times that I spent alone were made up on the days Konrad and Cassie invited me to join them in the woods. Stretched by two acres of land, our backyard had a small hidden marsh that was filled with peepers that would scream on hot summer nights. Traveling farther back over the humps of tall grass that grew between the wetland, you met the woods. The woods was our secret, kept away from the outside calamity in the world and in our lives.

I remember the day perfectly. There was cool air and warm rays of sun that shadowed through the trees. We had just finished lunch, expecting we would be gone for a while. Dressed tightly from head to toe like warriors going into battle, we diligently ran across the yard to the tree line that, beyond, identified as our backyard. After scrambling through the tall grass, we met the marsh. Konrad went first over the grass patches, Cassie following closely. I watched carefully from behind, making sure I wouldn’t take a wrong step and fall in the muddy, low water like many times before. They did it so easily, like they were engaged in a video game pretending they were the main characters running over obstacles.

Once we had reached dry land, we navigated ourselves through the trees to our main hideout, marked with our handmade stick-bridge that ran over a fast-moving stream that split the woods in two. We strung cloth between trees for cover. Inside the covering we kept our tools that helped us in any situation that we came across. These included different sized axes and knives that my brother had saved up for over the years. We would use them to take down trees and cut wood for fires.

Today we were under surveillance from outside intruders that were disrupting our hideout spot when we were gone. We knew they were Native Americans that wanted their land back. We sat there for hours, pretending it was days, until suddenly we heard footsteps running quickly in the distance, coming closer towards us. We scrambled around trying to make a game plan fast. The noises were getting closer and closer, followed by a howl that echoed throughout the woods. It was the Native Americans.

We spared no time to stay and fight because from the sound of it, there were many of them. My brother took the lead motioning Cassie and I back towards home. We ran. Fast. Adrenaline rushed through my body as I took each quick step, doing as best I could until we met the marsh once again. I looked ahead to find my siblings, only seeing that they had already disappeared, and I was left alone. In the commotion of the moment, I began to cry and thought that I was done for. I had to pull myself together. Using all my strength, I didn’t miss a step and finally reached the backyard.

I stepped back, back onto the recently mowed lawn, the old yellow farmhouse, back to civilization, the noise of footsteps and screaming behind me now silent.

And I had realized it was all my imagination.

 

 

Stephanie Nevers is a 17-year-old from Connecticut.



You, with the Lion's Roar

By: Rachna Shah

 

I may never have been skydiving or crowd surfing, but I have seen both horrific and beautiful things in my day. Vivid images that will haunt me and scar my retinas for eternity...

...because where I come from, grocery shopping is a dangerous sport.

If you ever wish to witness unadulterated insanity, you should go to a local grocery store and linger around the fresh fruits and vegetables. It is a frenzy where the winner takes all (technically inaccurate, but trivialities will have to wait).

When an employee comes by with fresh boxes of okra, you do not want to be left out. The poor soul barely has enough time to unload the goods before the angry hordes descend upon the okra like a plague of locusts. Look out for those insane beady-eyed mothers and grandmothers glaring at the employee, craning their necks over the carts to see what fresh groceries have yet to be unloaded in all of their yummy goodness.

It happens in stages. First, the initial sighting. The unsuspecting employee naively heads over to the display area. As he begins to unload the new produce, he notices a slow but steady increase in his audience. Their well-trained Vulcan senses are activated, and they look so hungry that they might just end up devouring the employee if he does not move out of the way fast enough. Because, you see, behind the worker waits pounds and pounds of fresh okra, straight from wherever okra comes from. The shining beacon of crisp okra gleams in its newness. The worker unloads the goods as quickly as humanly possible and flees the scene, often entrapped by the okra-hunters.

Then begins the madness. Having gotten rid of the worker, the plague descends. If you are fortunate enough to have found a good picking spot, you find yourself engulfed in a mad sea of frenzied activity. It is too late for second thoughts and doubts saying, "Is this really how I wanted to spend my Saturday?" No, you pick for dear life. Pick or you die. Pick or you will get shoved into the corner, along with that stray, bruised okra.

You begin to envy those with years of okra picking experience, those who casually fling back okra that is not perfect in every way and accumulate all of the good okra in their bags. You become despondent, wondering if you will even be able to pick a pound before the throes have disassembled the entire store. But then your agility miraculously improves. Suddenly, your own bags become heavy, full with the fruits of your labor. You no longer feel the pricks piercing your fingertips. You pick okra with both hands, and with all of the other hands reaching around you, you feel like the lord of the okra.

Eventually the group of okra reapers disperses, leaving behind the remnant carcasses for those not as daring. The scavengers war with each other, while the spectators watch in disgust.

And you? You walk away with the spoils, the "best okra of all," grinning shamelessly. You are a glowing pool of inextinguishable light, the triumphant victor of all mankind...

...and then the new batch of Manila mangos comes in.

Ad infinitum.

 

Rachna is a 16-year-old from Barrington, Illinois.



Unconditional Joy

By: Lia Reid

     In second grade, my family and I took a trip to India. It was beautiful. The sun constantly shone, there were papaya trees all around us, and we could see little monkeys hopping from rooftop to rooftop. We arrived at a children’s home that had about seventy young girls living there. Most of them came from mothers who were temple prostitutes. This home saved them from having the same fate. I remember being surprised by how different their lives were from ours. They each had only a few pieces of clothing, they walked around barefoot, and they all had head lice. They slept in two rooms, with about thirty-five girls in each room. Even though they didn’t have luxurious lives, they were very welcoming, playful, and joyful.

     The young girls happily welcomed us into their lives. They were so excited to see that they had visitors. They wanted to sing with us, play with us, eat with us, and show us all the things that they liked to do. We learned how to make brooms out of palm branches and they showed us how to get a coconut down from a tree, crack it open, and drink the water straight from it. One of the women working at the children’s home gave me a henna tattoo with henna made out of Indian spices and beans. Another lady who worked there made me and my sister Indian dresses. It was really cool being able to spend time with them, because it was really eye-opening. I was able to experience the life that a lot of other people in the world live.

     The little Indian girls loved to play games. We played many Indian versions of games that we play here in America, such as down by the banks and ninja. Sometimes, we would walk over to a field and play cricket.
While we were spending all this time with them, I realized that these girls were some of the most joyful people I have ever met. They were constantly smiling and laughing. Whenever I was around them I was filled with joy too. It was so heartbreaking to have to leave them after the two weeks that we were there. I really hope some day I can go to another children’s home and get to spend time with young kids like them again.

     Even though the children did not have great clothes or a nice place to live, they were extremely happy with their lives. They did not desire for more than what they could have. They taught me that your joy is not dependent on your circumstances. I am always wanting more clothes and the newest iPhone, but I have come to realize that I do not need those things to be happy. That is not where my contentment should come from. I should just be pleased with what I have and live the life that was given to me. Compared to most people in the world, I am incredibly lucky to have the life that I do, and I should be grateful for that. 

 

Lia Reid is a 13 year old attending West Hills Christian School in Beaverton, Oregon.



What my Dog Taught ME

By: Savannah Morgan

They are the ones we tell our secrets to, the ones we cry to, that ones we would save in a disaster because they are more than just an animal. Many people buy them, but a few generous souls rescue them because no one else will. They are considered man’s best friend,  right hand man, and companion; the canine. Again and again, they prove to be the gift that keeps on giving because they will serve you with everything they possess until their very last, dying breath.

As a puppy, “Bacardi” was found chained  to a pole in the yard of a rickety old abandoned house. Her living quarters consisted of a circle of worn earth and two bowls that each held nothing but rainwater and fly carcuses.

This abandoned dog left for dead eventually ended up with my cousins, a whole new dog, with a whole new name- Skylar. She was taught basic obedience and learned to tolerate a crate. However, the days began to dwindle and the nights long for Skylar. My cousins unexpectedly became parents and Skylar was forgotten.

My cousins ended up filing for bankruptcy and moved back into their parents house. Skylar was locked away in my aunt’s garage in a makeshift crate that she could not stand up in. She was fed the cheapest dog food and was only allowed water when she was let out to use the bathroom twice daily. She wasn’t neglected entirely, but the care she received was the bare minimum. There’s no debating that she wasn’t given any real love a sweet dog like her deserved.

This was around the time when I first laid my eyes on her stocky little self. I was babysitting my cousins’ kids at my aunt’s house when I was told to let Skylar and my aunt’s dog, Haley out. Skylar was the absolute cutest little thing I had ever seen. As soon as I got home I blabbered on about her curly tail, floppy ears, and soft golden hair to my mom. I soon learned that my cousins were in the process of trying to get rid of Skylar. They had finally realized that they could no longer give her the affection that she so desperately deserved.

We ending up picking her up the night after my grandfather had lost his battle to pancreatic cancer.  She was the remedy to my mother’s aching heart and the solution to the void that existed in my life. Life began to return to normal again with a dog, as it should. Every single day she managed to bring joy to our lives. She made us die laughing when she would roll around on the floor trying to scratch her back. She always managed to impress us with her many obedience skills and even had this habit of attacking the cicada bugs that were on our back deck. Skylar pawed and even picked the bugs up with her mouth making them “WAAA” in annoyance. She was always  full of surprises.

One of those surprises included liver cancer. I work at a local veterinary clinic.  When I brought her in for a routine check up, they  noticed she had a lump wedged in the bottom of her rib cage. Alarmed, Dr. Bob had my co-worker Krista take a blood sample and test it for white, red and platelet cell counts. The reports were not hopeful. My best friend ended up only having a percentage of sixteen red blood cells. Red blood cells are responsible for oxygen production and without adequate oxygen she could be subject to seizures and major irreversible brain damage. With her diagnosis of liver cancer and anemia, she was given a prognosis of just two weeks left to stay with us.

The night of  September 9th, 2015 she started to dry heave and became limp in a matter of seconds. I instantly knew what was happening so I urgently bundled all thirty pounds that was left of her in my arms and  had my mother drive us to the emergency center. Her red blood level was below fatal limits: eleven percent. We knew what had to be done. She died on September 9th, 2015 via veterinary euthanasia.

Her journey lasted 3 months, a lot longer than anyone had predicted. She had her blissful days and her treacherous days but through it all she hid her pain. All in all, that is what affected me the most. The strength that she illustrated was immense. Most human beings are too selfish to even attempt to muster through something like that. That is why dogs are the definition of  perfect companions. Dogs are made to be strong, made to be happy, and made to be carefree. I appreciate everything she did for my family and we will never, ever forget Skylar’s constant loyalty and lovable demeanor she emoted day in and day out.

 
Savannah Morgan is a senior at Cosby High School in Chesterfield County, Virginia.


The Market

By: Carlos Rodriguez

 

My father’s name is Carlos Guarinex Rodriguez Estevez. My mother’s name is Sonia Maria Rodriguez Martinez. My parents got divorced when I was four years old and my brother, Starlyn, and I lived with my father in Santiago Rodriguez, Dominican Republic. My Dad sold salami at the market on Saturday mornings.The night before the market, he would come home with the back of his red truck full of salami. It was my favorite day. I didn’t like salami that much, I was just really happy to see my father. 
 
Everyone says that I look just like my father. We both have dark brown eyes and the same big smile. We also have the same name. My Dad loves to laugh. He is always friendly and never shy. 
 
I started helping my Dad at the market when I was eight years old. The market was on a big street with blue tarps hung over it to try and keep the people cool. It would be cold in the morning, but by 12 o’clock the sun was so hot that people rolled up their sleeves, and sometimes men took off their shirts. 
 
Vendors would arrive at 5 or 6 in the morning to start setting up their stand. There were plantains, yucca, rice, beans, avocado, oranges, strawberries, blueberries, onion, eggplant, jeans, dresses, shoes and socks, meats, soda, juice, water, and beer. A friend of my father’s sold candies at the market, too. They were my favorite. They were soft and made with milk and coconut. They smelled sweet. My Dad would buy me five candies every Saturday when I worked with him.
 
Our table was always piled high with salamis – maybe 150 of them. There were many thieves in the market in Santiago Rodriguez and my job was to protect our salamis. I sat on a big bag of rice with my arms crossed because that made me look strong. No one ever stole a salami from my family with me protecting them.


Aseeda

By: Agustin Nyapir

 

Aseeda looks white because of the flour it is made with, and it is as pale as the sky, the color of the first day of snow. It tastes like freshly baked bread. It feels soft enough to sleep in while you dream. 
 
I remember my first time trying to cook for my family. We used to live in Juba, a small city in Southern Sudan, and when I was eight years old, my parents left me home alone. My father was at work and my mother went out somewhere. I didn’t know where. My little brother and sister were at my cousin’s house. Her house was five miles away from where we lived. I didn’t want to go to my cousin’s house because she was always yelling, and I hated that. She didn’t ask me nicely to do things for her; instead, she would yell at me to do it, even though I wanted to help her. 
 
I stayed home for a while by myself and none of my family came back. I got hungry, but there was no food already made in  the house and no place to go to get something to eat. I checked the pantry where my mom kept the food ingredients. I found some flour and beans, and so, because I was very hungry, I decided to try cooking aseeda for everyone even though I didn’t 28 know how to do it. I thought my family would be proud of me for cooking for them, but instead I made the worst meal ever.
 
My mom always made the best foods for our family. When she cooked she added so much stuff that I couldn’t keep track  of it all. But when she was making aseeda, it looked easy. But it’s not. 
 
I got the flour and some water. I started a fire outside the house with wood that I put in our outdoor oven. I used a match,  we call it kibrit, to start the fire. Then, I boiled the water. The pot was so full that it started to boil over and spill. I didn’t  know what to do, and because I was so hungry and wanted to finish everything fast I just kept adding more flour. I got out  the lafraga, and I started mixing and mixing the flour and water with it, waiting for the dough to get harder and harder. I think it took me an hour and a half. It is supposed to be hard, but when I touched the dough it felt soft, so I added more and more flour. 
 
When I took it off the fire there was so much flour in the pot that I couldn’t even mix it anymore. I was trying as hard as I  could to mix it, but it stuck to the pan. I tried harder, but I didn’t want to touch the pan because it was hot, and I took off my shirt and used that to grab the pan. I kept mixing, and the stick I was mixing with broke off because the dough was so hard. Then I thought to myself: how does my mom do this? 
 
I decided to pour it on the plate as it was, and I added some salt. It looked inedible; it was all mixed with the flour, and hard. I just decided to eat it like that. That aseeda was the nastiest food I had ever eaten. But I was so hungry that I kept on eating it. There was so much dry flour in it that hadn’t been mixed into the dough that, with every bite I took, a small bubble of flour popped in my mouth. I only ate about a quarter of it before I decided I just couldn’t eat any more.
 
When my mom came home and found me with the horrible aseeda, I thought she was going to kill me for breaking her lafraga, but instead she started laughing. She said, “What are you trying to do, cook?” And she kept laughing as she made a fresh batch just for me to eat. Since that time, I haven’t wanted to try cooking again. 


Kayaking in the Shallows

By: Mayele Alognon

 

The water around my kayak was green and I could see little fish swimming around, minding their own business and paying no attention to my anxiety or me. I was alone in the middle of the lake. I could see land but it was a long way away.  
 
My hearing was not at its best: all the noises around me were ten times as loud as they were the minute before. I could almost hear the flapping of the wings of the birds above. I could hear a speedboat in the distance and fellow campers screaming from amusement. I imagined a large wave coming my way; my arms were exhausted. “Stay calm, stay calm!” I  whispered to myself. 
 
I closed my eyes. I needed to calm down. My tranquility was interrupted by the sound of another kayak crashing into mine, making me fall into the shallow water. I stood up quickly. It was my friend, Ellia. “Where’d ya go?” she asked.
 
“Uh, nowhere. I got lost!” I stared at her, wondering where the rest of the kayakers were and how they did not realize that we  weren’t with them.
 
“Yeah, I know. Now we’re lost...together.” We pulled our kayaks onto the shore with the setting sky behind us reflecting almost all the colors of the rainbow mixing into one big mess. We sat on the sand, eyeing the melting sky, waiting for the other kayakers to miss us. 

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