by Zaayn Beamon


i’m falling

but what can i do?

my body wants to let go of you

not feeling the spark, not feeling the love.

i’m feeling for myself, you’re not in love


you’re gone

but what can i do?

i’ll scream and shout,

i won’t be heard.

i’ll cry and beg,

but that’s being absurd.

i’ll reason and explain

but who’s really to blame?


i hate it

but what can i say?

your love just doesn’t feel the same?

that somewhere along the way,

I started feeling your pain?

wasn’t supporting you,

always a part of you.


i love you

but it hurts.

it’ll stay that way and it burns.

yet time apart will heal the marks

and raise you back from the dead.

Zaayn Beamon is a freshman in high school and likes to write poetry. She also likes writing in general and lives with her family of 6 in Philadelphia, PA. She plays 5 instruments and counting.                

Philadelphia’s Change of Season

Philadelphia’s Change of Season

by Ava Egan


I cannot help but to stop and feel the cool breeze passing us by .

Through Philadelphia in the North, South, East, and West.

How happy are you that the weather is the best?


October, how hard you always try to be born.

I will never forget the unstable summers,

Going here, there, and everywhere.


But instead, fall is here.

As the clock falls back and the night grows longer,

enjoying pumpkins, hayrides, and apple picking, in the near future we will be tricking.


What other night is such a joy being out

In the dark dressed in different things like a cowboy.

Chanting, “Trick or Treat” so we will get something good to eat.


The night is over,

I’m so glad I have so much leftover.

Hiding candy in my drawer, all this long walkin’ has made my feet sore


I look outside and there’s a full moon,

Just think, Christmas will be here soon!

I was born in Philadelphia, PA, and was raised in East Falls. I have made so many friends in my neighborhood which I love. I play basketball, soccer, and lacrosse  for Chestnut Hill which is in Philadelphia. I love writing poetry. I live with my older brother and my parents.

Immigration Experience Poem

Immigration Experience Poem

Kaitlyn Covert


I came from Russia

Three years ago today

I had an interesting journey, along the way

We came on a plane, it was my first time

Never have I ever been so high in the sky.

The clouds looked like marshmallows, they gave me hope

For freedom and that I’d be able to cope

With all the new faces, the trip, and the discrimination to come.

We landed and went to our new home


One week later, I started school.

The kids and teachers were all so cruel.

They talked so fast and bullied me.

They told me I should move to a lower grade

But I kept pushing and trying my best

And now you can’t tell I’m different from the rest.

My name is Kaitlyn Covert. I am 13 years old and I am in 8th grade at the William Penn Charter School. My favorite subjects in school are English, social studies, and art. Outside of school, I participate in competitive all-star cheerleading. I also enjoy reading, writing, shopping, surfing, and hanging out with my friends. In the future, I hope to attend UCLA for college and I want to become a lawyer!

Rainy Soggy Philadelphia

Rainy Soggy Philadelphia

by Rea Lotlikar and Sonali Lotlikar



Off to Philadelphia for a night.

From Downingtown to Downtown on I—95.

Music blaring, GPS tracking, and eyes fixed outside.


We wait in anticipation to catch the first glimpse of the skyline.

Quintessential houses on Schuylkill River slowly float by.

The city of brotherly love emerges magnificent in the shrouded covered fog.

The skyscrapers spires reach high amidst the blanketed clouds.

Twinkling city lights comes in focus and stays in sight.

Almost heaven, ethereal and dream like.


We navigate and maneuver through the narrow sequestered streets.

Spectrum of colors: yellow, red, blue, and green,

reflect on the rain-soaked sidewalks and concrete.

Graffiti murals splashed against the walls,

For each speaks a mystery, a unique story.

Colorfully surreal, I wonder, is it art, vandalism, or just plain disobedience displayed for all?


Beneath the beaten umbrellas, pedestrians rush purposefully.

Homeless loitering and peddling for money.

We hover for a quick second in the warmth of the manhole’s rising steam.

The cacophony of sounds: somnambulant musicians, accelerating cabs, the distant sounds of sirens,

breathes life into this great old city.


We turn right onto Walnut Street, reminding of impressionist oil painting.

Lined with Michelin star restaurants, bakeries and coffee shops.

For its signature dish, the famous Philly cheese steaks, we make a stop.

Bustling with shoppers, trendy stores and boutiques stay open late.

Myriad long lines sprawl around the block, maybe waiting for a parade.


The impatient traffic doesn’t halt.

It evokes an angry holler or remark from pedestrians to slow down.

The rain soon loosens its strength and begins to drizzle and fade.

As the tranquility of night slowly descends.

Surreptitiously the commotion and the clatter silence.


Perched pigeons whired their feathers and settle in the crevices of old buildings.

The cast from a late performormance bid farewell under the illuminated drizzle of street lamps.

A final wink from William Penn atop City Hall heights,

Thank you Philly for the unexpected rainfall.

Rea Lotlikar and Sonali Lotlikar are 14 year old identical twins from Downingtown, PA. We love to dance: Tap, Hip hop. We have been dancing since we were two. We play tennis and we are on the school team. We love to paint and do all sort of arts and crafts. We like science, math and computer programming and recently started our own YouTube channel. This is our first attempt at poetry and a recent visit to Philadelphia inspired us to write this poem.



Guide for Girls Who Walk Alone at Night

Guide for Girls

Who Walk Alone at Night

By Julie Griswold


One: 3,465 steps from home.

Shuffle slowly,

shoulders racked

with nervous confidence.

Don’t look behind you

Don’t smile at strangers.

Who paused under the gaslights,

tinted ochre by sallow rays.


Two: 2,970 steps.

Remember, you must be invisible

another uncertain ghost in this closet,

as dark as the shadows

you knew as a child.

Wriggle and squirm and adjust your dress,

an unwanted beacon.


Three: 2,475 steps.

Smile, damn it!

Smile for the man who slithers

Just a little too close,

A man,who just won’t  go away.


Smile, and maybe, hopefully, oh please,

He’ll disappear like the rest of this city,

consumed by the overbearing crowd.


Four: 1,980 steps.

Strut faster,

clutch your shoulder bag

that echoes

your veins twisting

and the air igniting.

Do not, no, never return

to your apartment

even though,

Sarah left the lights on

and the television screaming.


Five: 1,485 steps.

Instead, stay, dip away,

and duck into a small store

that closes

“In twenty minutes, miss.”

Glance at postcards, t-shirts, keychains.

Pretend to care.


Six: 990 steps.

Catch your breath and

use the $3.99 sunglasses mirror

to check if he’s gone.

Exit swiftly to a chorus of

“Come again!

Have a nice night!”


Seven: 495 steps.

Exhale. Breathe.

Smile. Blink three times.


Eight: Zero steps.

Flutter home.

Julie Griswold lives in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania and is a junior at the Tatnall School. She enjoys writing poetry, established her school’s Poetry Club, and co-founded a poetry reading group at Maris Grove Retirement Community. In addition, Julie co-leads her school’s literary magazine and serves on her local library’s Teen Advisory Board. In her free time, Julie enjoys singing, performance poetry, musical theater, tennis, and art.              

Seven Billion Cities

Seven Billion Cities

By Alyssa Loughery                                                   

The day begins with the infinite canvas of red and orange, the everlasting molasses in the sky. The color of mangoes hang above seven billion heads as the sun rises for the day.

Nuzar Buqri has seen her own sunrise, found in blaring alarms and black coffee. She reads the newspaper at the counter of Buqri General, waiting for the world to wake up and come in her store.

Nuzar’s seen people of all shapes, colors, sizes, everything. Not many have seen her, though. The dark woman’s head can be found buried in a newspaper or glued to a TV screen, with the news always turned on. She seldom can be caught with a magazine in her hands, but only if it featured an interview with a famous journalist. Customers come and go throughout the day but the only thing Nuzar notices is the turn of the page and, of course, the beep of the register.

She looks up and the dark skies left over from last night are gone, the heavens now lit up in a bright azure. The clock next to the register says 8 am and in fourteen minutes her sister will stomp down the hardwood steps leading from their apartment to the store.

“Good morning, Beela,” Nuzar says calmly, taking a sip of her hot coffee.

Abeela replies with a mumble or a groan or maybe a croak, but, to Nuzar, they all mean ‘good morning to you too.’

The sisters are right on schedule.  Nuzar grabs her purse and leaves the store with Abeela. On the way out, a note tucked into the glass door peeks out of its hiding place and Nuzar takes it.

It reads “GO BACK TO IRAN” and other obscenities scribbled on a piece of notebook paper. Another uneducated bigot who thought every Muslim came from Iran. She shoves it into her brown leather bag, hopeful that Abeela it.

“What was that?” The question her sister asks fills her with dread.


“Are you sure? Was it from our boss?”

“We don’t have a boss, Abeela. We run our own business.”

“Then who’s that guy who we give money to every month? With the key to our house?” The little girl quickly went off topic, and Nuzar was glad she didn’t have to find an excuse as to what the letter was.

“No, that’s our landlord. He’s a man who owns our house and we pay him rent for it.”

“Oh. Okay.”

That’s another thing she admired of Abeela, how she absorbs new information so easily. Nuzar may be a smart woman, but she didn’t start that way. A youth of ignorance leads to her somewhat educated self today. But Abeela has always been very bright, with a seemingly photographic memory. Once, she calculated a customer’s total in her head.

However, this is also another of Nuzar’s myriad of anxieties. What if she lets something slip? What if she doesn’t notice notes placed in the front door? She couldn’t do that to Abeela. She wouldn’t let her sister’s identity be reduced to a piece of loose-leaf. Those misguided words will stay in her bright mind forever. Even if she doesn’t have a photographic memory.

They make it to the metro stop, and Beela has finally woken up. Her slouch has retired itself until the next morning and she’s alert, waiting confidently for the train.

“How do they work?”

“What?” Her question broke Nuzar’s contemplative silence, but she didn’t mind. Her questions were always fun to answer.

“The train. How does it go? Who makes it move?”

The older sister laughed to herself, imagining the subway being pulled by a couple of minimum wage workers.

“What’s so funny?”

“Nothing, nothing. The train was made in the industrial revolution, but it looked very different than our modern trains. They weren’t underground or inside a station, they were outside so that way the coal fumes could be easily ventilated. They’re pulled along on tracks.”

“Why are they trapped down here?” Her imagination amused her, thinking of stations as a sort of prison where they keep trains contained on the tracks.

The aforementioned train interrupted their conversation, and Nuzar gave her little sister a kiss goodbye.

“Pay attention in school today. Have fun!” She knew she didn’t have to tell her to pay attention, but it was part of their morning routine. The small girl boarded the metal car, too occupied in her thoughts to notice what her sister had said. This was a key part of their routine as well. 

Nuzar waited for its daily departure and began to walk home. She got the usual stares but remained unfazed. Her hijab has been a constant barrier in her life since she was 13, therefore onlookers have been a part of her public persona for the past eight  years. She remembers that day like any other,  Aunt Qirat teaching her how to pin her hijab. She recalls Beela begged for her own headscarf. She was only three, and the picture of her was lying on Nuzar’s  dresser. It was one of their aunt’s t-shirts, but Beela looked adorable.  It was a fun day,one that Nuzar remembers fondly.

The reminiscence was interrupted by an interjected slur, another microaggression that comes with living in America.

In the New York crowds, it’s hard to determine who said what in the street, the perfect platform for the anonymous cowards hiding behind the singularity.

It is easily forgotten, and Nuzar goes about her day. Returning to the store, she sits back in her swivel chair behind the counter and turns on the small box TV.

BBC News is switched on as usual, but the headline for today makes Nuzar wish it wasn’t.


It was easy to miss – hidden away in the bottom bar where only titles fly across. Newscasters didn’t think the story was important enough for a speaker, or to even interrupt their current tell-all with a mother begging young girls to stop wearing leggings.

Sambrial. A city of Pakistan that is easily overlooked. It has no landmarks, and no notable history. The Western world doesn’t know of its grey skies and busy markets. Nuzar has seen every dirt path, old park, creaky store, and kind-eyed person that her city had given her.

But where were they now?

Her beating heart didn’t cease as she began to run through every person in that city. Mama, Baba, Teeta, Jeddi, Cousin Aasim and his son Baqar, Auntie Rumeha and Uncle Khazi. The shop owners, shoe shiners, taxi drivers, pedestrians, everyone. Everyone. Gone.

The phone rang.

Nuzar picked it up and said nothing, only listening to the red plastic receiver tied to the cord.

“Hello?! Is this Nuzar Buqri?” said the man with the thick accent. He sounded afraid.

“Yes, Baba. I just heard the news. Please, what happened?”

“Our house is down to rubble. We can’t find baby Tariq. His mother has been searching for days.” Nuzar had known the small boy in pictures, he had the same dark shade as her, and Abeela says they look just like each other. He’s only two years younger than her sister.

“Farha was in a restaurant when it collapsed, doctors are saying she’s lucky to be alive. There is only so much they can do here, Habibi. They couldn’t save her legs.” The nickname that usually makes Nuzar smile is easily forgotten when she hears the news of her best friend from childhood. They used to hide from soldiers together.

Her father lists the many losses that the war had given them. Each name made Nuzar gag. They were all once so happy.

She sat in her black chair, frozen. The tall woman didn’t know what to do. So she asked.

“Is there anything I can do?”

“I want you and Abeela to come home.”

“Are you serious?!”

“I want my daughters to meet their family before there is no family to meet. Pictures and status updates on Facebook aren’t enough. Please. At least stay for the memorial service.”

Nuzar thought about Farha and Tariq, and her heart ached for her home. She knew the consequences. She knew what would happen if Abeela saw Pakistan in its current state.

“Alright. I’ll let Beela know when she gets out of school. We’ll call you later.”

“Okay. Goodbye.” She missed her home.

The afternoon rolled around and Abeela had chimed herself into the store. The bell rang. The older sister didn’t seem happy to see that Abbela was home from school.

“I need to tell you something,” said Nuzar in a worrying tone.

“Okay.” replies,Abeela

“Do you remember the name of the country I told you we were from?”

“Yes, it’s Pakistan, right?”

There was that bright mind of hers. She doesn’t forget anything, does she?

“Yes, that’s right. We’re going to visit.”

The 11-year old’s smile went from ear to ear. She had wanted to meet her family, say hello to her culture, and be welcomed back to her city for so long. Nuzar could only wonder what it felt like to love a city that gave her such bad memories. Now her sister can make her own.

“Really? For real? Are you serious? I can’t wait! Oh my gosh, I have to tell cousin Farha! And Sadaf! Oh, do you think they know yet? I wanna surprise them!”


“What?” She knew something was wrong by the unusual sternness in her voice.

“It’s not – happy. We aren’t going for a family reunion. Do you know about the war? The one that makes me upset and stay up at night?”

“Yes, between Pakistan and India. It’s why we can’t go visit.”

“That’s right. We’re going because there’s been an attack. India has bombed our city. They bombed Sambrial, and a lot of people we know got hurt. Mama and Baba want us to meet our family before the next attack is even worse. I’m sorry Abeela, I didn’t want this life for you. I didn’t want you to grow up like I did, hiding away from big scary soldiers, hearing gunshots while you try to sleep at night. You’re only a little girl. You don’t deserve this. If it’s not you growing up with a warzone in your backyard, it’s people filled with hate and spitting it out at you. I’d give anything to make you happy. Even if it meant only me having to go through all of this pain.”

Nuzar hid behind her headscarf, hiding her tears so her sister wouldn’t see her cry.

Abeela hugged her big sister, even though she could only reach her mid-stomach. Nuzar didn’t notice, she felt her warmth all over.

“That’s why we’re sisters. We face the world together. Even if it means we have to go through bad things. We do it together.”

Nuzar was so, so proud of her little Beela. How did she get so lucky?

“I know that people are hateful. Girls at my school say that you’d be much prettier without that cloth on your head, but I tell them you’re already pretty. They don’t believe me. All the boys tell me that I should color my skin with white-out to make it lighter, but I don’t listen. My teachers blame me for what they say because they tell me I’m provoking the other kids. I know you tried to stop discrimination from reaching me, but it already has. And that’s okay.

It’s okay because I know that they don’t matter. The girls in my class are just jealous that they all look the same. They’re afraid of people who stand out in crowds. Boys tell me to whiten my skin only because someone who isn’t as pale as they are is terrifying. People are afraid of different. So why should I fear them? I am proud of my culture. I’m proud of you. No one can take that away from me.”

Nuzar had lived in fear for so long, afraid that Abeela might find the real world one day.

She had been so busy looking out for her little sister, hiding notes, distracting her from bad news and horrible people to see the brave and confident little girl that Nuzar never was.

“I’m so proud of you.”

“Me too.” It was the first time Abeela said it back.

Their last night in New York was spent in the living room, the two sisters made pillow forts and told stories of fictional princesses and train conductors. They didn’t stay up late. There were planes to be caught in the morning.

Alyssa Loughery is a senior at FTCHS, and likes to write poetry as well as short stories. She also likes to learn new things, like ASL, and lives with her dog, brother, and aunt in Philadelphia, PA. Her friends call her the “astrology expert.” 



By Allison Lentz

It was a day I will never forget. The gentle hum of the spaceship was white noise in my ears as I silently slept. Slowly, my mind and body began to awaken. My eyelids fluttered open to the tiny, modern cabin where I was staying. I pushed the soft blanket off of my body and sleepily swung my legs over the side of my bed. My toes touched the cold tile floor, chilling my bones as I stretched. I walked into the small bathroom and turned on the shower, sighing as the hot stream of water hit my skin. I allowed my eyes to close and visualized my new life. I had no idea what to expect, but that was the exciting (and terrifying) part of it all.

I dried off with a fluffy towel and looked at myself in the mirror, taking in my long blond hair and ocean blue eyes. I could hear my deep breaths, and I felt butterflies in my stomach as I focused on the rising and falling of my chest. I quickly pulled my hair over my shoulder, putting it into a messy braid. I was too nervous to do anything fancy that day, despite the importance of the day’s events. Returning to my room, I slipped into the one outfit that wasn’t packed up. I wore a casual white shirt, knotted at the bottom, jean capris, and gray slides. I examined myself in the mirror once again. I pondered skeptically for a moment, before digging into my suitcase and pulling out a black jean jacket. That was much better. Much more… me.

“All passengers, please finish packing up and report to the main wing,” The loudspeaker blared, making me jump. I did a final check, thoroughly looking over the room. I wistfully sighed, saying a silent goodbye to the place that had been my home for the past two months. I pressed the silver button to open the door, resting my hand on its smooth steel surface. I turned, feeling some sadness about leaving this tiny chamber. It wasn’t much, but it’s been comforting to have it. Taking a long deep breath, I stepped out into the pristine white hallway and the silver door slid shut behind me. I was leaving this part of my life behind, and I wasn’t sure if I was ready.

A few hours later, I gathered with the crowd of passengers in the main hall. Frustrated, I tried to move through the group towards the window, but the people were like a strong stone wall.

“Excuse me,” I huffed, “I can’t see.” A tall, dark haired young man turned to look at me. He smiled warmly, stepping aside and gesturing for me to come in front of him. Taken aback, I smiled shyly, squeezing quickly through the gap. My cheeks flushed warm and pink. However, upon seeing the view, I quickly forgot about the handsome stranger as my eyes met our new home – #2896, otherwise known as Opportunity.

I was taken aback by the most beautiful, breathtaking sights I had ever seen. Shimmering lavender oceans stretched over the surface, surrounded by emerald land masses. Light pink cotton candy clouds danced in front of us, filling the atmosphere with a romantically stunning touch. The pastel color scheme of Opportunity was absolutely magical. I felt like I was stepping into a fairy tale. It was unlike anything I’d ever seen before.

“Attention passengers, we are preparing to land. Please find a seat for your own safety. Thank you everyone for joining us on this incredible journey.” As the ship slowly lowered towards the planet’s surface, I flashed back to the two months that I’d spent on this ship; enjoying meals in the beautiful dining hall, surrounded by views of vast outer space outside the windows. Days spent swimming, playing tennis, and watching movies in the theater on board had filled my time. It had been lonely, to be honest. None of my family had come with me, and I wasn’t the type to make friends quickly. But Opportunity has its name for a reason.

The heavy plod of the ship’s landing jolted me out of my thoughts. The passengers quickly erupted into a cheer. A bright smile stretched across my face as excitement took over. I grabbed my suitcase and shot up from my seat, joining the sea of people briskly walking towards the exit. I was grinning like a crazy person, but so was everyone else. As the doors opened and the light flooded in, the crowd started pouring off the ship. Someone pushed past me on their way out, and I clumsily stumbled forward, catching myself on my suitcase. I lifted my chin and was met by none other than Opportunity itself.

The gorgeous dark green grass shimmered under the light of the planet’s sun. A white marble fountain greeted us, the beautiful lavender water of Opportunity splashing gracefully into the pool at its base. The first city on the planet stretched as far as my eyes could see, its buildings made of beautiful metals native to the planet. They shone with vibrant colors, greeting us with emotions of joy and astonishment. The view brought delight to everyone who laid eyes on it. In the distance, navy blue mountains topped with crystalline snow protruded from the land, stretching up towards the rosy clouds filling the periwinkle sky.

The very terrain of Opportunity brought so many emotions, but I felt them all form into one – hope. A single tear of joy traced its way down my cheek, resting next to my nose like a tiny diamond. I felt a presence next to me, and I turned to look. The handsome stranger from minutes earlier held a tissue out to me, smiling warmly. I smiled back, accepting the tissue. As I dabbed the tear from my cheek, I noticed a phone number scrawled on the tissue. I looked up, but the man was gone. I stood alone at the base of the ship. What was I waiting for? I knew that the change scared me, but it was the whole reason I’d come this far. I’d come for a new life, for… opportunities. I would start by getting to my new home and calling this man. I felt the confidence to take initiative and do things that I never would’ve been brave enough to do on Earth. I can find love. I can chase my dreams. I can live the life that I’d been so lucky to be able to pursue. I took a step forward, and I walked towards the city – leaving my old life behind, and entering a life of opportunities.

Allison Lentz is 16 years old and from Ephrata, PA. She loves anything creative, especially writing, art, and music. She loves to read and write super descriptive fiction and fantasy that lets her paint a picture in someone’s mind. She also loves to ride and spend time with her horse, Oslo, swim, bake, and, of course, draw or write.

The Dangers of Letting Your Skeleton Out

The Dangers of Letting Your Skeleton Out

by Ayah Pearson

Imagine your skeleton broken and alone in a dark alleyway littered with candy wrappers. Your skeleton wants to get back to you but it can’t. Imagine how terrified your skeleton would be; you can’t even go save it. You know it’s past your skeletons curfew and you’re wondering what’s taking it so long. Soon you start to get worried and come to realize what happened. Don’t let this happen to you and your skeleton. Here are all the things that can happen to your skeleton in October.

Your skeleton should stay inside your body, especially on Halloween. Because it may be easily lost, it may become damaged if you haven’t had enough calcium. And finally, because you will be a brainless meatsack without it.

Your skeleton may be easily lost.

There are many skeletons around during the holiday. There are also costumes, decorations, and possibly other real skeletons! Your skeleton can blend in and be lost forever. Also your lil skelebuddy may be stolen! I don’t know who would do such a terrible thing but it can happen. So be careful. Someone may mistake it for their own because skeletons are very similar unless they’re missing a piece or have been chipped.

Your skeleton may become damaged if it goes out on Halloween. If you don’t have enough calcium, your skeleton may become brittle and end up chipping on its nice spooky day out, which is bad for you and your skeleton for many reasons. For example, a chipped or broken skeleton won’t be very comfy once it goes back in. It might pinch or scrape your insides, which can lead to organ leakage, gross. If your skeleton breaks, it might not be able to make its way back to you. And that sucks because you’re not exactly in the best shape to go find it yourself. Luckily there are skeleton finding services available during the month of October. You will be a useless meatsack l without it. When your skeleton leaves it’s most likely going to take your brain with it. It would be very time consuming and a big pain for your skeleton to take out your brain before leaving, so they don’t bother. You, now a brainless meatsack, would probably just slug out on the floor until your skeleton returns. Your heart and other organs somehow still work without your brain, how odd.

Just hope no one sees you in this state because once your skeleton leaves, everything that is in your intestines will drain, which is disgusting. Then, you’ll have to clean it up when your skeleton gets back covered in candy and other Halloween related things.

So, in conclusion, lots of bad things can happen to you and your skeleton during the month of October, especially on Halloween. Keep your skeleton safe inside your fleshy fleshy self and make sure to get lots of calcium.

My name is Ayah Pearson, I am homeschooled and in the ninth grade. I like to write horror because I’m a big scaredy cat. That along with my vivid imagination gives me the fuel to write scary stories and thrillers. When I’m not writing I like to draw, read, design characters, and ride horses. I live in Philadelphia with my mom, brother, and my stuffed animals.

Doomed for All Time? A self-help essay

Doomed for All Time? A self-help essay

by M. Pearson

Sisyphus was known by the Gods as the most cunning of humans. He used his silver tongue to trick Hades and cheat death twice. On Sisyphus’ third attempt, Zeus stepped in, deciding to give Sisyphus a punishment worse than death. He doomed Sisyphus, forcing him to push a boulder up a hill. and when Sisyphus reached the top of this hill, the boulder would always roll back down. The Sisyphean task is a punishment not of pain, but of futility, of weakness, and of melancholy. The Myth of Sisyphus is a myth often seen as a tale of tragedy and sadness. However, it is believed by some that Sisyphus was never broken by his task, and that he lives a fulfilling life as he taunts the Gods and pushes the boulder up his hill.  You are living the Myth of Sisyphus, boulders aren’t that heavy and an eternity of punishment is inevitable so have fun with it.

Here’s what you did in Olympus. You thought about doing something. No. You, a peasant, practically vermin, trash in the gutters of this golden city, you  dare to even think about doing anything but crying about how pathetic you are and wading in your own filth? You thought about creating something and changing yourself. By even thinking about being something more than you are you angered the Gods. and they gave you a boulder, a hill, and an eternity.

You are in fact doomed to this hill for eternity. or what of eternity your mortal eyes will live to see. Being stuck on this hill for all of time means that you are more than likely qualified to do, literally only thing you can do, on this hill. The Gods would be fools if they didn’t make sure that you were just barely strong enough to roll this rock to the unstable peak. You can at least push the boulder.

What is your boulder? What eternal plight have you been continually putting off until next week? What book have you been wanting to write or what workout have you been saying you don’t have the time or energy for? What boulder have you avoided pushing? and what mountain are you going to push it to the top of?

If you are plagued by the Sisyphean task, then you are a story, a myth, or a legend. Live like a legend. Tell your tale of boulders and mountains, the tale of that marathon you ran, that book you wrote, or that time you read this really good essay (yes this one, please feed my ego on the way out). Live like you are still on Olympus. Treat yourself as if you were one of the Gods as you push an insignificant pebble up an anthill.

If the Gods punish you, take it as a challenge, see it as a workout, or a meditation of zen. Enjoy your task, simply because the Gods don’t want you to.  Spiting Gods seems like a petty thing to do, but you must understand that human mythology often represents the Gods as extremely petty beings

Just past the top of the hill, if you peer through the clouds, you can see Olympus, not the mountain but the city, the city of Gods. You went there once but it wasn’t as great as you had thought it would be. All the gold looked a bit tacky. The scenery at the bottom of the mountain was much nicer. You speak with Satyrs and other friendly creatures as they walk to the top of the hill with you. Even on this hill, you are not alone. Even on your hill with your task, there are things to see and people to talk to. You don’t need the scenery of Olympus. This quaint hill is all you could ever want.

The hill is a peaceful place to live: just you, the grass, the birds, the occasional Satyr, and the boulder. You can rest on this beautiful hill and just before the sun rises, as the dew catches the light of dawn,  you lift yourself and prepare for another trek up the hill. If there is an eternity of work, then there is an eternity of rest. But of course, there must be a place to rest.

If you cannot live in Olympus, you must simply make your own. On this hill you can build a great community, a city fit not for the Gods, but for you. Your own little paradise built out of a simple garden; there an olive tree, maybe some ramps, and small roads to make watching the boulder roll down the hill a little more interesting. To build your own Olympus is a challenge to the Gods and to be satisfied with it is a victory.

As you grow each day, so will your task. You will never reach the top of your mountain but the boulder is a dream you can’t give up on. and that hill is a beautiful place to live. You are Sisyphus. Live life as a challenge to the Gods.

Mosadi Pearson is a tenth grader who likes to draw, write short stories and essays, create cardboard props, and play fighting games. Mosadi likes to use scientific concepts, mythology psychological phenomenons, and old songs.



by Rebecca Uhlman

Conor is gone from me, and no matter how many times I’ve tried, I can’t get into his head.

After catching a glimpse of him in a pub two weeks ago, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I returned in hopes that he might as well. I was dragged along by the desire for him to know my pain.

I perched on a bar stool in that dim, dusty pub, a glass in my hand. The amber liquid inside ran down my throat the way I imagine electricity runs through a wire — fiery and raw and strong. I shivered and took another sip to calm my nerves. It must have been the excitement that set me on edge. The promise of confrontation.

I picked at a loose string on the seam of my pants, pulling until the black fabric gathered and the thread went taut. With one quick jerk of my hand, it tore away. Obnoxious scarlet tile greeted its wavering descent.

Conor was nowhere in sight, so I fidgeted anxiously. My eyes darted around the pub, taking in smudged windows and chipping paint. I scanned the newspaper clippings that hung on the far wall. New Pub Opens on Barrack Street, boasted one faded headline. Garda Síochána Releases Info on Recent Killings, read a central clipping, held up by three gleaming tacks. My grip tightened on an empty glass. Those words swimming and slurring in my vision, I braced one hand on the bar and refocused my thoughts.

Without warning, a strange feeling began to creep through my veins. I felt Conor’s presence. His strong hands seemed to hover over my shoulders, waiting to touch me, scorching the surrounding air. He was eerily close. Tangible.

In a blur of rapid movement, I spun in my stool so that I could face his ghost, that silent shouting thing, and pull it from me thread by thread as if I were unhinging my own shadow — but that shivering apparition spun with me, staying behind. I clawed at my jacket. My skin seemed to be stretched too tightly over my shoulders, cramping muscles and fracturing bones — all while Conor scraped furiously at the edges of my mind.

The room wavered; his figure appeared in the doorway. Outlined by hazy streetlights, that brush of orange hair seemed to glow. Every muscle in my body tensed. Those glaring eyes, that clear, pale skin, it all reminded me of the past. Suddenly I was staring and staring and I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the profile of his young face. He glanced around; does he see me?

I needed to speak to him. My feet took me across the tile and blindly towards his figure, eyes cast down. If I didn’t look him in the eye, maybe I wouldn’t have to remember the searing passion he ignited in my chest all those years ago. My gaze slithered up his neck, hovering over the lips I used to kiss, dancing over ruddy freckled cheeks — eyes lingering anywhere but on his own. I watched him cross his arms and stiffen.

“Conor,” I whispered. “I need to talk to you.”

“I can’t. I…I’m done with this.” His familiar voice awoke a longing in me that I had forgotten about.

I clutched at his sleeve, my gaze flitting about his face but never making eye contact. “I love you. Nothing from my past could have rendered me incapable of loving you. Doesn’t that mean anything?”

“Look,” he started, voice weary. “You’re…you’re unstable, and you need help.”

I laughed. He really dared to assume things about me? Was it so impossible to believe that the only thing blurring my emotions was wasted love? I could feel frustration bubbling up in my body, red-hot and steaming from every one of my pores — he wouldn’t listen.

I was trapped, helpless to do anything to make him come back.

“Mark,” he began, “ever since that case, you’ve been unpredictable, aggressive. You need to resign from the Garda. Let yourself heal. You saw things that day that no man should ever have to see.”

His words dredged up memories in me — flashing sirens, muffled shouting, pools of scarlet. The visions were as red as the tile beneath my feet. I felt the cold weight of my gun in hand — I heard the click of the striker, my finger pressing firm on the trigger, the final deafening crack — I tasted bright copper and salt — I saw the limp sneer on the face of the man whose body thumped onto grass. The gross images of his victims throbbed in my brain. Mutilated, skinned, raw red bodies with eyes carved from their bleeding sockets, with dead dripping mouths pinned into animalistic grins, with tortured bodies flayed like the half-eaten corpses of unlucky prey —


There was one, still alive. The body was intact in the barest sense of the word — drooling and spitting, slumped on the ground in a shapeless mess of wet crimson. Its swollen eyelids twitched at me, its lips formed a voiceless plea for help — God, someone finish it, just take away its suffering — when it’s dead, I won’t have to see the raw red fear in those bloodshot eyes —

“Mark, listen to me. You need to get help.”

Conor’s warm hand on my arm reminded me of his presence.

As I watched a tear slip down his cheek, I found that I was no longer angry. All the rage that I had bottled up in my chest seemed to liquefy in that moment, loosening until it became a blue, blue shade of sorrow.

“Don’t cry over me,” I said, but his silent tears only fell faster.

The sadness then gave way to a growing sense of control. He was still mine, after all, so I could fix this. I had caused his pain. Perhaps it was only right for me to take it away in the end.

He didn’t say anything as I pulled him close. My hand strayed to my belt, fingers closing on the cold grip of my gun. It was firm and sure in my hands as I brought it quietly to his chest.

“I’m sorry I made you cry,” I whispered, and pulled the trigger.

The click of the striker. The press of my finger. The final deafening crack.

I felt a little numb as he coughed in my arms. Too weak for any expression to form, his jaw went slack and his eyelids fluttered. I watched the blood as it pooled on the floor. It was red. Scarlet, and I was swimming in it, watching him drop to the ground and dissolve away.

The scrambling of feet, shattering of glasses, and shouts from the pub behind me blurred together. All that mattered was Conor’s face. It was relaxed; those beautiful eyes no longer bled tears.

“Goodbye, darling,” I murmured. “You won’t be in pain again.”

Rebecca Uhlman is a junior in high school. She enjoys creative writing, reading, and photography. She would love to be a novelist one day.