The Time I Almost Drowned in a Pool

By Jessica Huong

Have you ever been on the verge of death? I can honestly say I have. It’s a very scary experience, and the memory will probably stay vivid in your mind for your whole life – it might even affect how you live your life.

When I first experienced this, I was very young – around four to five years old? Maybe even younger, in fact. I was on a trip with my family and several relatives. These details are pretty blurry, so I can’t recall where we went. But, what is clear is that there was a swimming pool.

After a while of having fun with my family around the area, we all decided to go swimming. I was excited, but I really had never seen a swimming pool before in my life! We got everything ready and headed to the pool in our building. It was super crowded, but it looked amazing to me. There was so much water, and it was so blue, ever more so than the ocean! I couldn’t believe my eyes.

When we arrived, I saw a bunch of my older cousins immediately splash right into the pool as cannonballs. I thought it was really cool, and looked like so much fun! So, of course, I jumped in right after them, hoping to join in.

But that was the deep end. I couldn’t swim.

Usually, when you see somebody about to drown, they’re flailing their arms around the water’s surface and screaming, right? But I wasn’t really sure what was going on, so I just sunk down into the water quietly, like a stone. Nobody noticed.

This is the really vivid part: I began to realize that I was drowning when I was already sinking, my face a few feet deep into the water – this was a long distance from the surface for little four-year-old me. I finally began to freak out and move my hands and legs around in hopes that somebody would notice, but I was too far under the water!

It seemed like an eternity that I was in that pool, sinking, unable to breathe, and feeling scared. In my head, the image is still as clear as a spring day. Remembering it actually makes me kinda anxious!

Luckily, one of my aunts was in the water and saw me in there when she was swimming. She hurriedly went down to get me, and the was the end of the eternity for me.

This is where it gets blurry again – what did I do when she pulled me out of the water? Did I cry? A lady who I didn’t know called my mom over, and according to her I was scared and shaking a lot. Of course, I can’t remember this part – this is based on what my mom told me.

So, how has this experience impacted my life? To be completely honest, I’m not too sure. When I went to summer camp in around 2012, I remember hating the water with a passion. That same year, I took some swimming lessons and got the basics down, and I didn’t hate it anymore. I do dislike swimming and being in the water, but I’m not afraid of it, so it’s just a simple preference.

Take this little story for example. Summer of 2015 – my family went on a trip to Cuba. We went to a beach, and in the ocean, my mom and I stepped into a very deep pit while nobody was around. My mom had almost drowned, but I used my basic swimming skill to swim us to the shallow waters. That, also, has become a really clear memory to me – what if I never took swim lessons? Who would be there to save us?

With all that said, I don’t hate swimming, and I’m not afraid of the water. I can swim fairly well now, I just prefer not to – and that’s fine! So, I can gladly say that I don’t think my near-death experience has greatly affected me. To be honest, I’m actually glad it happened, so that I have something to write about for this article.

If I were to fall into the deep end of the pool ever again, there’s no doubt that I would be able to calmly swim back up and towards the edge. I don’t let my near-death experience change how I live my life, and I never will!

Imposter Syndrome

By Tatiana Bogdanov

There’s something strangely dehumanizing about staring at a beige locker, ass aching as you sit on a cold, waxed tile floor.

Your bag sits beside you, dirty from all the bus floors and classroom floors, heavy from the textbooks.

All you can do is sit and stare.

What’s the point of it all?

At the same time, it’s like you’re all too cold and all too hot, the sleeves of your sweater don’t reach far enough to cover your hands.

A science textbook lays strewn on the floor, a clutter of information that’ll make its way to your brain only for you to forget, and relearn it all when you need it the second time.

People mill around.

People talk, they laugh, they work and work all around you and seem to be unbothered by thoughts and feelings.

Other people sit on the floor beside you, and they’re intensely focused on their phones. They’re alone, but they’re not alone.

Mouth agape, you don’t notice;

you don’t feel exactly free, you’re bound by deadlines and friends and perhaps boyfriends or girlfriends;

obligations to talk and fill up empty space, and feel the anxiety bubble up when they don’t do the same.

Are you too taxing on other people?

Underneath your feet, the ground is ungrounding.

You wear fashionable shoes, yet they feel unnatural.

Something plays over the announcements,

but the din of the crowd lulls you into a sense of somewhat security, so you ignore it.

There’s at least one notification on your phone where somebody left you on read.

You yourself have left at least five notifications on read.

The anxiety still stirs somewhere within you, “what did I do wrong? Do you not want this relationship anymore? Is this it?”

Thoughts play on a film reel in your brain, the same pictures you’ve seen thousands of times in a variety of different places.

Nerves feel quite frayed, to be quite honest.

Who has time for all of these feelings? All these emotions that make life just that much more complicated; what if you could just detach?

Without anything to distract you, without anything to numb the pain of apprehension, it’s all maybe a little too much.

Never enough to tell a person, to seek out a helping hand, a friendly face, a hug. Oh no, that would never happen.

But it’s always just a little too much too handle.

Perhaps it’s the dissociation from what’s a paranoid idea, a good thought, and a nightmare-fueled jolt in bed.

Maybe it’s the way you forget the meetings, the events, the things you have to do, in favour of not having to think about them right then.  

Possibly, it’s the way you can sleep for twelve hours and wake up exhausted;

or maybe it’s the countless nights you can barely sleep at all.

And if you’re being really honest, you’ve stopped caring about taking care of yourself. You load your backpack with the world,

and carry it on your shoulders even though that’s a one-way ticket to back problems.

You have chips and ice cream for dinner,

not particularly caring about the calorie count or the sodium or the sugar.

You stray away from food for days,

stomach too full with something indescribable.

You were once good.

You were once a force.

The golden kid, with the bright future, the passionate voice, the eyes full of hope and dreams.

You were someone.

You loved the little things.

The excited tingle in your fingertips when you saw your ferns on your desk.

The smile of someone that wasn’t too bad themselves.

The deep seated satisfaction of doing well on that really hard project.

The shiver when that good chord hits.

Now.
Now you’re a shell.

Now you’re unrecognizable to yourself.

The drive has driven away.

What is this?

Who are you?

Who are you really?

A fraud?

An imposter?

You say you’re good at things, but are you?

Oh, you’ve lost your touch.

Where is the golden kid hiding?

Follow The Fall Line or Be the Orange

By Sophie Gold

The shortest distance between two points according to the geometry we experience is a straight line.  Galileo made a career proving this.  That statement is not always true, but I am taking poetic license and we will assume it is.  If you drop a ball from the top of an incline, aka a slope, it will naturally roll straight down assuming no obstacles or hazards along the way.  I call the ball’s path its fall line.  I like skiing and have come to appreciate the fall line concept through skiing.  But the fall line idea is something that I believe applies off mountain as well.

My first introduction to the fall line arose when I was 5 years old.  I was a Powder Panda in my ski first lessons.  My instructor rolled an orange downhill and told us to follow it to the bottom of the hill.  That orange always somehow found its way to the bottom safely. “Be the orange”, my instructor told us and I aspire to be that orange. Years of “following the orange” have taught me how to find and follow the natural fall line of the mountain without thinking about it.  And that has made all the difference to my skiing.

The orange always takes the most natural and easiest path down the hill, and by following and trusting it, rather than fighting it, we can too. The central idea is that skiing into and with the fall line, instead of against it, makes for an easier, more controlled and more enjoyable ride.  You cannot change the fall line, any more than you can change the wind, but you can change how you react to it. When the inevitable trees, moguls or other hazards arise, they are manageable and simply things to avoid rather than calamities.  A mogul is not a problem, it just is.  How I react to the mogul is an evolving story as some of them still trip me up and scare me.  From my perch on the chairlift, I have watched the most graceful skiers dance their way down difficult runs.  They don’t fight against the fall line; they make turns to control their speed and for safety but they are not fighting anything or trying to avoid the moguls.  On the easiest groomers and the steepest bump runs, the simple truth is that it is easier to ski with rather than against the fall line.  If you are a skier, think about that particular run your family does to get off the mountain.  Some of you ace it, while the others struggle and dread it.

I’d like to suggest that the fall line concept is also true in most things, particularly those that seem to matter most to us.  Going with the flow – i.e. accepting – the moguls and obstacles that inevitably arise and that you cannot change makes all the difference.  If you accept the mogul as a mogul, not a good or bad mogul but just a mogul, you will have a more enjoyable run.  Your reaction to the mogul is what matters because you can change your reaction to it but cannot change or wish away the mogul.  So, be the ball and embrace the mogul; don’t wish the mogul be otherwise or that you are on a different trail or at the bottom of the hill already.

When I struggle or am out of sorts, often it is because I am fighting the fall line and not being the orange.  I watch this play out all the time, and truth be told I can see it in others better than I can see it in myself.

A lot of people go through life wanting to change things beyond their control and wishing that circumstances were different. My dad wants to have big hair (he is bald) and dunk on LeBron (he can’t).  Problems and obstacles will arise, but they are only problems and obstacles if you label them so and give them that power.  Moguls are part of skiing.  Skiing would be boring without them.  But moguls don’t change the fall line and I can’t either.

So, when you find yourself staring down a steep and bumpy trail, breathe and look for the fall line.  As often as not, the fall line is not obvious until you make those first few turns.  But it is there and will reveal itself if you let it.  For sure, those first few turns can be scary.  You may be a yard-sale about to happen, but we’ve all had them, will have them again and survived to tell the story.  But following the path of the orange is the way.  When scared, say go and have faith that the fall line is always right and frankly doesn’t care that you are scared.  Enjoy where it takes you because it’s likely taking you there whether you like it or not.  You may, probably will, find yourself on some hills and trails that you think you cannot handle or just don’t want to be on.  But if you treat life’s minor annoyances and challenges as nothing more than moguls you too can be the orange and make it safely down the slope.


 

Wouldn’t it be great to be an asparagus fern?

By Tatiana Bogdanov

Wouldn’t it be great to be an asparagus fern?

To sit on someone’s windowsill and grow and taste the sun and be watered as soon as your soil is dry?

You don’t have to think, you just do.

You won’t spend time with writer’s block, sitting at a computer

Mashing meaningless words into a google doc to find the order you like them in

Flipping through songs so fast you barely hear the melody, looking for the one that’ll inspire you

You won’t spin around in a chair, fiddling with a pen and then folding up a star shaped sticky note

Looking at the random shopping bag on your bed, or the unflipped calendar on your door

You won’t fiddle around with the wire of your headphones and wonder why you’re not outside

You won’t have ten tabs open on your laptop, one for each different thought you had

You won’t spend time reading the poem so far that you have out loud, hoping that you get to read it to people, in an awkward turn of events

You won’t restart ten times because you want to write a different thing, each one more and more cliche

Making you question why anyone tells you, “you write good”

You won’t run your hands through your greasy hair, mostly because you don’t have hair or hands,

Because you’re getting a headache from the staleish air inside

You won’t bounce, or try to bounce, the hockey ball that you have,

The one that you didn’t shoot up the garage roof

You won’t have to have writer’s block, causing all of this

Writer’s block when you’re feeling happy no less, which makes writing hard

Cause you can’t do teen angst

But then again, you’d be called an asparagus fern, though you don’t grow asparagus,

Which is lame,

And your most prized possession would be “pot”

And not the kind that makes you high

And all you’d do is sit, and watch the time go by,

As your owner gets their thoughts out,

No matter how much they wish they were more impactful and meaningful and deep and world-changing,

Maybe about crime? Or sex? Or love?

Or bringing light to an issue that they take close to heart?

But, nah.

They have to go with the thoughts that are positive,

That feel as positive as they do right now,

That feel like sun warming skin.

Because the assignment is due Monday, and they have diddly-squat

Maybe it’d be nice to be an asparagus fern.

With it’s feathery leaves.

Calm.

You’d get to be a graceful, delicate little plant.

Poised.

It’s a good deal.

But then again, you wouldn’t get to cry or laugh or shout or scream or tear your hair out or sing your heart out

You wouldn’t get to be so frustrated you have tears in your eyes and so anxious they spill over, you wouldn’t get to be so loved, no matter how wacko your owner is with you, the asparagus fern

You wouldn’t get to travel the world, or stay right at home, or kiss anyone, or touch anyone (even though they might touch you, which will give them dermatitis), or feel the burn of a good run

You wouldn’t get to do anything really, but taste the sun, and take in water.

So maybe we should just aspire to be like the asparagus fern, for now.

Being Part of a Family That Speaks a Language I Don’t Understand

By Jessica Huong

My grandmother’s house is bustling with noise on holidays. The whole family comes to celebrate together. Everywhere I go, I’d hear a relative speaking to another in a cheerful manner. They smile and laugh wholeheartedly.

I wish I could laugh along too, but I can barely understand a sentence.

I was born in Canada to Chinese parents who had both lived in Vietnam for most of their lives. They can speak Cantonese fluently; but to each other, they’d use full-on Vietnamese (their first language), so I can’t understand a single word.

Actually, that’s a bit of an exaggeration – I can understand some words, like khóa cửa (keys) and nước mắm (fish sauce), but I’d be lucky if I can string a single sentence together.

When my parents talk to each other, it’s like hearing a familiar – yet technically foreign to me – language on a daily basis. I’ve grown accustomed to being confused, especially when family members argue. I’m always left wondering, “What did they just argue about? Why is everyone yelling?”

Sometimes, I even notice relatives stealing short glances at me while continuing their conversations. I can’t help but think they’re talking about me – is it my outfit? My hair? My inability to understand Vietnamese?

This isn’t even the worst part. Some of them seem to occasionally forget that I can only speak English and some Cantonese. Take my grandma, for instance. She’s so sweet, but sometimes she’ll just come up to me and ask me things in Vietnamese! She can’t speak English well, and I’m too embarrassed to tell her that I can’t understand her. Those conversations always go something like this:

Grandmother: “Trường như thế nào, Jessica?” (Translation: “How is school, Jessica?”)

Me: Hahaha, yeah. Thanks, grandma. *Wipes sweat*

(Disclaimer: I used the ever-so-reliable Google Translate for my grandma’s Vietnamese line in this. It might make no sense whatsoever to a fluent speaker, but let’s roll with it.)

It’s not too bad, however. My aunts and uncles tend to remember that I can’t understand Vietnamese. In that case, they speak to me in English. This is great, because then I can surprise them with my Cantonese skills (which is broken, but generally better than they expected). Also, luckily, most of my cousins speak English all the time, despite understanding Vietnamese fluently.

Not to mention; when my parents speak to me, they speak in Cantonese or English, so understanding what they say to me isn’t a problem at all.

All in all, having almost everyone in my family speaks a language I barely understand most of the time is definitely interesting. I think that it makes my family unique, and despite what I’ve said in this article, I wouldn’t change it for the world.

By the way, to any family members reading this: don’t change. Keep speaking what language you’d like to.

But, if you’re talking about me, please don’t make it so obvious!


Jessica is a grade 12 student at FHCI and is a Technology Editor for The Golden Falcon newspaper.

Creative Writing: Eight Ball

By Linda Cako

Jared and I always spend our weekend summer nights playing pool at the local bar. Sometimes our friends Lenny and Mo would come and play with us, but not every night. They had wives and kids so they had other priorities. Those poor, dumb bastards.

Me and Jared have this long-standing wager where the loser has to drink a shot of gin. Neither of us like it so it makes good incentive to win. The bartender, Al, was a good friend of Jared’s dad and always lets us play until late at night, so long as we lock up after.

Sometimes Jared would bring cigarettes and we’d chain smoke them and practice making smoke rings. Sometimes we’d try to pick up girls, too. That never really worked though, so we stick with the cigarettes.

Tonight Lenny and Mo couldn’t make it and it was my turn to buy drinks.

“What’s for tonight?” Al said.

“Make it a rum and coke for me, and um, your finest imported malt liquor for the Mrs.” I said. Al winked. When I pulled out my wallet, he put out his hand and shook his head.

“Not tonight. Business is good.” he said. “How long are you two staying?” He said.

“Same old. No place to go here.” I said.

“Alright,” he said, “don’t you boys stay out too late though. Thinking ’bout you boys’ mothers if anything.” He said

“Yessir,” I said.

When I brought our drinks to the table, Jared had already broken.

“C’mon man. Without me?” I said. He ignored me.

“I’m stripes,” he said. Then he chugged his beer.

The rest of the night went by playing pool and smoking. Then Al left and after a bit we did too. We decided to spend the rest of the night walking around. The roads were quiet and everyone was sleeping at home so me and Jared decided to go to the water tower at the other end of town.

Once we got there we picked up stones and threw them at the tower. The thing was pretty roughed up anyways with all the dents and graffiti.

Jared said, “You ever think about getting married?”

“Why the hell would I?” I said.

“I don’t know. ‘Cause you got to move on. Start a family. Get your shit together. Get our shit together man. I can’t stand the fact I can’t keep a girl for more than one night. I mean, doesn’t it bother you?” he said.

“I don’t know man. I like us here right now. I like Al and Lenny and Mo, but you see them. They look miserable even if they say they’re happy. You want that? You want some girl making all your decisions for you and screwing you like that?” I said, “That’s not the kind of life for me.”

“Doesn’t sound too bad,” he said.

“Then get yourself a girl already! Jesus. How hard should it even be?” I said.

He said nothing so we continued throwing rocks in silence.

The next day Jared didn’t come to the bar, so Al got to lock up this time. There’s no reason for me to stay so late by myself.  The day after, Jared ditched me again. Said he’s with some girl and that she’s one of the good ones.

“Maybe you’ll be my best man,” he said. I just nodded.

I went back to the bar the next week but there was still no sign of Jared. So I pulled out my cigarettes and ordered a rum and coke and played pool.

Creative Writing: Edge of Humanity

By Raine Love Perez

I raised my right arm, forearm facing up as the smartphone microchip implanted in my wrist projected a hologram out in front of me. One click on the hologram and I was teleported on Floor 13, Section J. My brother appeared by my side moments after and we started to walk.

“Ah, what beautiful morning today,” he said.

“I guess,” I said.

I looked up scrutinizing the solar panels all over the ceiling.  I wanted natural sunlight. Like in the stories.

Silence fell, and was quickly shattered when Darius said, “The Union’s planning our next clearing mission two days from now. Forty-eight hours and you’ll get to go outside again.”

The Union. A group of AIs who make the big decisions. The members appoint new members, and the Head chooses the heir. Simple and straightforward.

A clearing mission is when all combatants leave this city-sized skyscraper we call Florae, and clear off all the Grymers in sight. The primary reason why I became a combatant is so that I could go to the Outside. Killing off the demonic creatures that took over our world would be the secondary reason.

Soon arriving at our house, Darius placed his hand on the scanpad to make the front door disappear, allowing us entry to our humble abode. It solidified again after we were in.

While Darius headed down the hallway, I sat down at the kitchen counter where my sketchbook was and started drawing. My hand subconsciously dragged the pencil along the paper, trying to replicate the image in my head.

I drew grass to replace the marble floors I knew so well, hills to replace the modernized buildings, a river to replace the roads, a sky to replace the ceiling; clouds, the sunset, and…

A large weeping willow tree, set right atop one of the hills. Oh, how I wished to see one of those in person…

“Oh, and Nova?” Darius called. “Remember when I broke the washroom door?”

I raised an eyebrow in confusion, never recalling him ever breaking a door.

“No? Okay. Anyways, the lock is broken,” he stated, casually, as if it was a normal day-to-day thing. I eyed him as he sauntered into the kitchen I was in.

Mental note: The lock on the washroom door is broken.

Related mental note: Darius breaks things.

“Okay…”

This was my life.

My life in Florae.

And I wanted out.

Creative Writing: Scorn

By Justin Shapiro

I – HIS WRATH
For years he walked the ides of the free, turned
to ashes by the men of yield, slayed
by killers without names, the spawns of Tempter.
Riddled theirs minds of disease and plague, dawn marked a day of their nightmare.
Leave now, he said, Anne our children we will meet, sacred
lands become dirt with fields of their blood.
The children lay dead in the streets of the village,
masked men watched over with arms.
They will toss carcass from windows, he said,
Zu Shenatir would lie proud.
Fourteen children, a fortnight of death, from the depths he rose again.
The Wolf of Bedburg feasts on flesh, staining the stones below the tavern.
Peter darling, where is our son? What has happened to our son?
The night grew old, he whispered so faint.
The boy has brains, only a fool would ignore.
The man followed a voice of a soulless being,
then centuries ahead they would go.
A woman hanged from the branches, swayed
in the wind far above, past the dirt roads in the centre of Rome.
Six hundred stiff, and Tofana to blame, what a woman to come of this crime.
Throw stones at her feet, they watched as she bled, suffered much worse
than poison she passed.
It was no colder than a sword, deep in her sheath,
death was unkind but certain in time.
Killed those hated, and the error was clear, hanged in the streets
in the centre of Rome. The man had seen the age, he
searched for the bridge, his greed was beyond this realm.
II – HIS GREED
Morning sparked like the gold on his dresser, filled
with riches not shared or earned.
Undeserved, now marked with a cross, the night was a crimson sky.
Crassus would have burned in the village for rent,
with a light turned the tides of war.
Parthia brought him riches, and his greed would arrive, he was struck with a feeling of haste.
Soon came his death and the end of all wealth, seized
from Valhalla, tasted the sweetness of bliss.
Buried far below, in the fourth circle of Hell.
Inferno once protected by his screech, foul cries,
Virgil, he spoke so wisely of his pain.
His words can be heard by mortals in hades.

Papé Satàn, papé Satàn aleppe.
He sang the words from the void, a cloud, the youth of the abyss rung loud.
Arose Sixtus IV, faceless to lords.
A lie, a toxin, the vermin of men.
Taxed brothels, a fraud of an untrue paradise, hiraeth cried from the souls.
Sent to the Centre he was condemned for the ultimate,
the worst of all sins defined.
Roads of stone and marble, stacked
in rows beyond the walls of castles, sieged
by armies of deformed. Bodies blackened, skin spotted and foul,
spread from town, they feasted with pests of waste.
Farewell, they said, burning the dead, darkness leaked from the orifice.
The only hell lives on Earth, where smoke burns of skin.
Children born with marks,
Red stars of flame, born
With only sorrow, and pain would follow their words.
The man had seen the age, he
searched for the bridge, his memoir was beyond this realm.
III – HIS MEMOIR
A cold night was alone, a ring in the sky, burned
holes of pain and their terror, marked
with flames in cosmos where the hounds would cry, blinded
the towns of horrors to come. Came for men with blades, sent
for the woman soon after, the town was watched by the gods. A bolt struck
his chest, the ground blackened with ash, his eyes shed light through the clouds.
Dare to defy my supremacy,
Dare to mock my creation, dominated
this world as I have, I have laid eyes on aversion much worse.
My bolt will cleanse the hatred, deep within your heart,
it will melt away your flesh and bone beside the cross of gore. All sin within, all blood and ache,
you are blessed with more than mercy.
The Titans, they clashed in the skies, the wars raged on above.
Never show them mercy, until this faithful day,
where the immortal disobeyed his nature.
Seas turned to blood, and oceans to bones, Virgil
will lead the soldiers of shade.
The man had seen the age, he
searched for the bridge, his love was beyond this realm.

IV – HIS LOVE
Her eyes spoke with pain, her lips cried of grief.
She was fair, and spoke songs of love.
Her breath shapes the tides, her face, a spell to
all men who lay eyes. Throwing swords for a glimpse at her locks of polished gold,
men fought wars for a place at her side.
I cry to you my love, he said,
your beauty is far beyond the tales,
far beyond the songs and paintings, farther
than the heavens above. Past Olympus,
the walls of your birth, my eyes see past your unparalleled beauty.
The nine muses are not worthy of the eyes bestowed,
upon your face, your body, an immortal façade.
You mock my descendants, the immortal divinity? She spoke so true.
No mockery in my word, only admiration for your cause,
he answered, only passion in his heart.
Come to me my son, and a son you are,
nothing more or less, one must live with desire.
Your love for me, another feather on my wings,
another man to aid in flight.
I will walk through the gates of hell for you, he said,
past the Hydra, its heads eternal like my love.
Your greatness, a place at your side, a greater blessing than life itself.
You speak with kind words, yet your actions deceive.
Travel to the depths, where dusk burns through dawn.
Speak to the man with the head of flames,
his eyes, obscure, bloodshot with agony.
My son, only hatred you will find,
your belongings worth no more than the dirt you walk.
Your swords, but a spike in his foot, leave them here with a watchful eye.
I am far from a servant, he cried, yet my love will endure.
I will confront the spirit,
for I am nothing but a shell, born
with an everlasting flame.
I am no less than this evil you speak.
The man had seen the age, he
searched for the bridge, his trial was beyond this realm.

V – HIS TRIAL
Merriment over screams of terror,
flesh melts from their skin, blackened and grey.
Condemned for the defiance, rooted deep within their bones, temptations
ignored by none.
Ghostly lights swarm the skies of dead marked stars, red
figures of hate gloom beneath scorched earth.
The cries of innocence, insane sense of sanity, those
who accept their fate, bleed in warmth.
A ship of flames floats beyond seas of ash,
into rivers of infection and waste.
He stepped towards the gate of blood and stone.
You come so soon, whispered ever so faint.
Does pain stimulate your essence, my friend?
For I am the essence of pain, for that there is wealth, I am certain of it and all.
Open the gates for a man of courage, let me gaze upon his face.
Only a man, no sword or dagger, do you mock an immortal being?
Mockery is not a craft I partake; I am here for a message of truth, he said.
The figure sat in a throne of limbs.
A divine one spoke of your presence, she told
stories of your pain, your power and will.
My will and power?
Defined in a class so black and white, do
you mistake me for a mortal man?
The figure stepped from his throne.
There is hatred in your mind,
you must enter what is left of mine.
Your pain, but a fraction, the ice above water.
The truth is what you seek, so be it.
Kneel before me, only then, it be told.
I will not kneel, not now, not ever for a spirit of hate, he said.
Never for a spirit of suffrage, a troubled
soul of immortality, beset by its existence.
He stepped away, towards the gate.
I have seen the truth, what it is that you fear.
A soul filled with pain, freed by death,
yet you are immortal and sealed for all.
Trapped in your nightmare, an eternity of pain, cursed with the absence of death.
Eyes red with fury,
the spirit, struck with anger, it vanished into the flames.
The man had seen the age, he
searched for the bridge, his fate was beyond this realm.

VI – HIS FATE
Pain of no truth,
hate with no cause.
The answer was clear,
his glass once shattered.
A dagger to the heart, the blow of death,
a dark entity, with the unfortunate gift.
Death, in that he is blessed.
His hatred, immortal, body a vessel of age.
Only death cures the broken, destroyed,
what burns inside, every breath that enters,
every word that exists, regret any and all of his days.
He has met the divine, seen the night far below,
those who are cursed in their diamond skin, the immortal.
All living dead.
It is the dead who live,
barbed arrows stick from their heart, unable to bleed.
It is his wrath that acts,
greed who speaks,
love that guides.
It remains in death, and in that he was certain,
then brushed his heart with a silver blade.

Creative Writing: Original Carver Story

By Avery Beutel

Ben was already up when Pascal came down to make the coffee. “Been up long?” She
said. “Not too long,” he said. “There is some fresh coffee in the coffee maker,” He said. “Do you think you will be able to fix the gate latch today?” She said. “I already told you I have to go to town today and I’m not sure when I will be back,” He said. Ben grabbed his mug and stomped out of room. “Where are you going, I only asked you a question,” She said. “You know that I am waiting for the supervisor to call about an extra shift,” He said. “I need to pay for the roof repair,” He said. There had been a bad storm earlier in the month and the big maple tree had fallen on the roof. Ben patched it as best he could but winter was around the corner and he was worried it wouldn’t hold. Things had been quiet at the Ben’s work but things always picked up around the holiday season and Ben hoped to pick up some extra shifts especially in light of recent news. They were both hoping for this but Ben was really starting to feel the pressure of having another mouth to feed. The stress was keeping him up at night.”I’m leaving,” He said “Don’t forget your lunch!” She said “It’s a ham and cheese sandwich… do you need to get gas?”
She said. “No, I’m good, I already fed Ace but don’t forget to walk him,” He said. Ben got in his car and sped down the dusty road. He rolled down the windows and cranked up the radio, letting his mind drift away. Ben pulled into the parking lot of his work and grabbed his bag from the back seat. “Good morning Skip, have you seen the boss today?” Ben said “Yeah he’s been on the phone all morning, I think he’s in his office now,” Skip said. “Thanks buddy,” Ben said. “Yeah good luck,” Skip said. Ben walked slowly down the corridor and knocked hesitantly on Mr. Martin’s door. “Come in,” he said. “Is this a good time Mr. Martin?” Ben said. “Good as any,” He said “I was wondering if you had thought about giving me extra shifts?” Ben said “Wish I could, just got off the phone with our suppliers, shipments backed up, won’t be here for a couple more weeks,” He said “It’s just that you know me and Pascal have a baby on the way and I could really use the extra cash,” He said “Look son I really wish I could but you know with the economy the business money is tight,” Mr. Martin said “Okay, thanks anyway,” He said as he
turned and walked out of Mr. Martins office. “Everything all right?” Skip said “Yeah I’m all good,” Ben said “I gotta go, I’ll see ya later buddy,” Ben said. Ben tossed his sandwich in the trash on his way out to his car. He had lost his appetite. Ben sat in his car, staring at the dash. He wasn’t ready to go back to Pascal. Too many questions, not the right answers. Without even thinking he turned the key in the ignition and stomped on gas until he ended up in the parking lot of Mcgintys. “Hey Ben! Haven’t seen you around here in a while, how you been?” Said Andy. “Yeah, you know, lots to do at home, It’s nice to see you,” Ben said. “What can I get for ya?” Andy said. “I have a beer,” Ben said. “Heard about the layoffs at your work,” Said Andy. “Yeah, it’s pretty rough,” said Ben. “How’s Pascal doing? Haven’t seen her in a while. Used to see her all the time back in high school,” Andy said. “Yeah, she’s, she’s good,” Ben said. “She was
always the cutest one, captain of the cheerleaders and all that,” Andy said. Ben gulped the rest of his beer and ordered another. “You see any of the other old high school gang?” Ben said. “Yeah you know I see Janet every now and then and Ricky likes to come have a drink sometimes,” Andy said. “I heard Scott moved to Arizona and is raking it in … Lucky guy,” Ben said. “I always though it was going to be you to strike it rich,” Andy said. Ben finished his third drink and put his money on the table. “See you around Ben,” Andy said. “Yeah,” said Ben as he walked out the door. Ben stumbled to his car and rolled down the window for a bit of air. He thought to himself Pascal would be mad. He was gone longer than he said and it was starting to get dark. He wouldn’t be able to fix the latch. Ben drove out of the parking lot and started his journey home, trying to concentrate on the road although he was a bit drunk and more than a bit
tired. All he could think about was the roof, the baby, and disappointing Pascal. He took a deep breath, he would soon be home. “Ace! Wait! Come back!! Ace!!” He could hear something in the distance, sounded like Pascal. He heard barking in the distance. “Come back!!” She said “Ace!!! Come Back!!” She said. Before he understood what was happening, he felt a thud, as his car began to swerve off the road. “NO!” she said “ACE!” she said as she collapsed to the ground.

The Giant: A Short Story

By Tatiana Bogdanov

     There’s a giant, who lives in the mountains. He sleeps in the valleys between them at night, and sits and watches the small town below in the day.

     The mountains are invariably cold. It’s always grey; the light, or the lack of it, making everything even more hopeless. Wind always blows the snow in your face, as if you’ve insulted its mom. The few trees that grow in the valleys quiver all hours of the day. The few animals that dare to call the mountains their home never last long; all except the giant. The giant is used to the cold. He’s reckless. He’s old, jaded.

     But the giant hates the mountains, quite honestly. It’s awfully lonely. It snows in the summer. All he can do is sit outside and occasionally smoke. Sometimes the distant lights of the town keep him up at night. Sometimes, he can even hear the people’s laughter; it never fails to make him bitter. There’s beauty all over the town; here, it’s nowhere to be found. The mountains are menacing, even to those who tower over them. They will never be tamed. There’s no reason to climb a mountain, for a view of snow.

     There’s no music to fill the air; no smooth saxophone played, or folky guitar to make everything a little warmer. There was a piano key hit here, once, but it only echoed. There are no children to make everything a little more innocent. The Milky Way in the sky, in the inky black nights, isn’t beautiful; it only reminds of the vastness of the universe.  

     From a distance, the mountains look like an abyss. There’s not a flicker of light at night. Not a howl from a lone wolf. Not the smell of anything human, or alive; just the snow on the ground. The only colour is grey, or a deep, lonely blue, depending on the time of day. The only way you could find happiness here is if you lived with your head inside a dream. The rock has been abused by snow like small bullets. The pines are nearing the end of their life; the syrup inside them finally starting to give up and freeze. You can’t smell them.

     The silence hits him hard, some nights. Only the sound of the wind, and the pines brushing against each other. Sometimes he can hear the sounds of the cosmos; the ethereal noises, the remnants of the time everything exploded into existence. White noise, a whooshing that never stops. Noisy, but silent all the same. It’s the kind of silence that you whisper in because you don’t want to interrupt it. Sometimes, he stares up into the night sky and reads the stories the stars write, though at this point he’s read them all. From Orion’s belt to the story of the Water Bearer.

     Though he’s lived here for years, he can’t remember why he’s here. He can pinpoint the moment he arrived, the very first night he laid down in a valley and tried to get to sleep. The cold froze his tears and kept his feet frosty. He can recall walking into the mountains, wind covering his body in goosebumps, feeling the sobs building in his chest; mind storming with just how hopeless, helpless, hapless he felt. In that moment, walking between the rocks, he could only focus on how upset he felt. The twilight was unforgiving, to be fair, showing the lifelessness of the wasteland he walked into in its full glory. But for the life of him, he can’t think of why he’s here.

     Maybe it was because of everyone else. Maybe it was every person who had expectations so highly of him, that he couldn’t bear to live up to them. Every person who left him and never told him why. Every person he couldn’t make himself talk to, for the fear of being judged. Perhaps, it was how, no matter how friendly some were to him, how much they loved him and told him they loved him, he always felt like a misfit. He never belonged. Like between him and them, there was a canyon fifty miles deep and a hundred miles wide, and he could never ever cross it. The only person he could talk to, being himself. Unloved by even the most unloved; unwanted by even the loneliest. Left feeling like he had an unpayable debt that he owed.

   One could suggest that the fact that his father never loved him as one of the reasons, or at least never showed the love.

Another might say that he went to the mountains of his own accord. He sent himself into exile. He shoved everyone away, every smiling face that just wanted to help. He never could talk about his feelings all that good. He acted nasty and mean, to make them hate him. He felt, to his very core, that he deserved to be all alone. Never thought it, but felt it. He was so focused on the hate and sadness that was taking root in his mind, infiltrating every fold of his brain, that he couldn’t focus on anyone, or anything else. He was blinded by the way he was caving in.

     But whatever the reason he’s there, the giant is miserable. He hates the mountains every day. The cruel rock seems to taunt him, everytime he tries to sleep. The pine trees seem to be even more depressed than him. The stars are more alive than anything here. And yet; he doesn’t go back.

He doesn’t know what going back would hold for him.

Love?

Probably not.

So instead, he sits in the mountains.

     The wind displaces his hair. Snow dusts his shoulders and blankets the mountains. The cosmos live in the sky (he thinks of joining them often). The clouds of gas, vibrant greens and purples, talk about the birth of new stars. A heartbeat is out of place here. The lonesome pines’ needles become frayed with the gales that come through the valleys. The cold kills any animal that tries to visit. There’s nothing but the smell of snow in the air. The silence will never leave him; will always ring in his ears.

    No more tears from him. His eyes are dry, his heart is cold, his brain is filled with guilt, pain, hurt, shame.

He’s as stuck as the mountains.