Passion

There was a time in my life when I talked about books as though they were sustenance, as though they were essential to my survival. I devoured stories and inhaled pages. I vividly remember checking out four, five, six books at time and somehow finishing them all before the two weeks were up. Though that experience is shared with many people, a majority of adults fail to make time for reading.

I often wonder where that passion goes.

To most people, reading is thought of as a chore, or something for the forgotten bottom end of a to-do list. Reading is a fizzling New Year’s Resolution. Reading is a Barnes & Noble credit card but dusty shelves. When people talk about getting back into reading, it is as though they are starting a new project at work, as though they are radically changing their schedules.

New units of time have to be carved out of a schedule, clearly labeled “READ” in blocky black lettering. Books fill shopping bags, along with all the obviously necessary accessories to reading – fancy bookmarks and clip on lights and slogan-laden tote bags – because now, you are a Reader.

There is something lost in this frenzy. In this sort of Oprah’s Book Club, unbroken-spine kind of reading, books are a status symbol.

I find myself in this rut occasionally. Rearranging and rearranging the same shelves with an obsessiveness, buying War and Peace and Les Miserables because they’re the sort of books a pretentious academic like myself should have.

I miss that feeling that all library-bound children have. That feeling that there were an infinite amount of words in the world, and if I only read fast enough, flipped enough pages, then I would be able to drink them all in.

So many people have a desire to read; to become that excited kid again. We want to be the one who’s not only Heard of That, but Read It. We want to know authors and quotes and have worn paperbacks to pass on to friends and family. We want to feel that love and intensity that stories used to inspire.

I truly believe that feeling is still inside every adult today. Maybe it’s buried under stress and deadlines and distraction, but it’s there.

All we have to do is find the right book.

-Zoe K.

Writing Prompts

One of my resolutions this year was to start writing more stories, so I’ve decided to use the blog to help me do that in a fun way. I’ll pick two or three prompts and write a short story instead of a book or movie review. If you like the story I’ve started, feel free to comment your thoughts or any of your own prompt suggestions. I also hope to get blog readers more involved with the site, so we’ll see how this experiment goes. Hope you enjoy!

Prompt: Write for 5 minutes with your eyes closed. Start with “I remember”.

     I remember the sound of the wind as we soared through the air. I felt light as a feather, flying next to you. So calm. So free. I let out a scream to release the breath from my lungs. It was so relaxing. More so than I’d ever felt before. I could no longer see you as you zoomed ahead through the clouds, but I heard the pulse of your heartbeat in my head. Steady and full. We were connected. Two beings made into one. You were mine and I was yours. There was no other way to move than with you.

     The tree branches brushed by my ears as I flew by. Then, I froze. There was an unusual sound. A buzzing in my ear. It persisted, getting louder and louder, until it was all I could hear. The noise battled against the wind, fighting for my attention. I called ahead, but there was no answer. You were gone. Suddenly, I couldn’t hold myself up any longer and I fell. Thrashing through the trees, I called out to you. I wanted you to save me, but you weren’t there to catch my fall. With a crash I landed, crushing my wings beneath me. The last sound I heard was of your breath, racing with mine, until it slowed to a stop.

I really like this prompt because it allows the reader to let out their thoughts without stopping, and it’s just a flow of continuous writing that comes from absolutely no planning. You simply write, freehanded. I’m not sure why bird-like creatures came to mind, but I was very interested to know that this story was the first that I thought of.

Prompt: The eye color of humans changes with an individual’s current emotions. One person is born without this trait and is mistrusted by many people.

    My eyes have always been blue. The color of sadness, most seem to think. But I liked to believe I have a shred of hope in them, even though I’ve only noticed one day when they happened to pulse a bright gold. Other than that, it’s always been a blue tinted world for me.

     I bet I would be the biggest freak in school if it wasn’t for him. No one knew his name. Everyone just called him “Gray”. His eyes never changed from the black and white light that was colorless, emotionless. As the outcast of the school, people often joked why they weren’t just blue and miserable or even black. But nonetheless, his gray eyes made him somewhat of a haunting figure in our sea of pinks and yellows and reds. Even the teachers whispered behind his back, afraid they’d have the very pleasure of him in their class. To be around the ghost was to associate yourself with the unfeeling, uncaring portion of society.

      At least I had feelings. At least I could walk around all day knowing that I had a soul. Sure, everyday was sulky, but at least there was color. I wondered what it was like to see with no shades of anything, no pigment, no idea of what the world really looked like. Everyone said he’d been born a freak, but no one really knew for sure. One thing I did know, not to get in the way of the boy who felt nothing.

This prompt just seemed like an interesting topic. I didn’t have a plan for this story either, so I chose to interpret it this way.

-Sabrina C., 11th Grade

Adventures in Ilvermorny (Creative writing: Short story)

In the spirit of learning more about the  magical world in the U.S. with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, I decided it would be fun to write a little short story on some kids that attend llvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (US version of Hogwarts). Enjoy!


      Jane had been dressed, packed, and ready to leave since 4:30 this morning. And while waiting for her mother to get ready to take her to the airport, she had brushed her teeth six times and continuously rearranged her chestnut bangs until she gave up in a huff and left them down. Jane was going to Ilvermorny for the first time, something she had been dreaming of the entirety of her eleven years. It was also the first time she would be without her mother, the first time she would leave Florida, and her first time going on an airplane. There was a lot to be nervous about.

     When Jane and her mother finally got to the airport, her mother knelt down and looked into her daughter’s matching honey colored eyes. Her eyes became glossy as she whispered, “Jane, don’t worry about a thing Ilvermorny is going to be the best times of your life, and I can’t wait to hear which House you get into. Don’t think you have to be a Pukwudgie like me, because all of the houses are wonderful. Don’t forget to write darling, I’ll see you soon!”. Jane felt herself get teary eyed as well and was only able to nod and hug her mother one last time before she turned towards the terminals.

      Her ticket, unlike other tickets, had a shimmering red and blue Ilvermorny stamp which was invisible to No Maj’s. As her mother instructed, Jane promptly pressed the stamped ticket onto the oddly shimmering wall at the end of all of the terminals. Before Jane had time to worry that it wouldn’t work, the shimmering wall glowed more intensely and like a magnet, pulled her onto the other side. With a slight yelp, Jane was on the Ilvermorny terminal going from the Miami to Massachusetts.  

      Witches and wizards from ages 11 to 17 sat, ran, and laughed in the terminal, waiting for boarding. Jane chose a seat in the corner and watched all of the kids, trying to see if she could tell what house they were in. She guessed that the small framed, black haired, 15 year old looking boy listening to music was a Horned Serpent. Jane looked over at a tall girl chatting loudly, wearing a basketball tee, and speculated that she must be a Wampus, when suddenly the girl caught her eye and said, “What? Have you never seen a witch before?”.

      Startled, Jane just looked at her blankly. A boy who had similar red hair to the girl, looked over to Jane and said reassuringly, “Don’t mind my sister, she’s just being a jerk because she’s nervous”. The sister immediately interjected with, “I’m am not! I just….hope my roommates aren’t lame…”. The boy rolled his eyes at his sister and holds his hand out to Jane, stating, “I’m Cyrus, and this is my sister Eyla”. Jane hesitates before shaking the boy’s hand and firmly replying with, “Jane”.


To be continued! (P.S.) Many of these Ilvermorny descriptions will be false as there is little information about how Ilvermorny operates and really looks like. Thanks for reading!

-Ava K.

The Story of Samhain

It’s finally October, and most of us can already feel the chilly autumn air, taste the pumpkin spice, and are eagerly preparing for – you guessed it! – Halloween. Whether you dress up in a costume, go trick or treating, or tell a ghost story this October, you should know that there was somebody 2,000 years ago who not only practiced these traditions, but created Halloween itself.

2,000 years ago, a group of people called the Celtics, who resided in parts of modern day Ireland, the United Kingdom, and Northern France, celebrated a pagan festival called Samhain (pronounced sow-in) that celebrated the blurring of boundaries between the worlds of the living and of the dead. On the night of October 31, they dressed in animal skins and gathered around bonfires to ward of wandering spirits that may have come through this rift between worlds. Families would leave sweets on their porches and dinner on their tables for any passed relatives that they believed would come home for the night. Samhain is thought to be the earliest noted origin of our modern Halloween.

By 43 AD, Rome had conquered most of the Celtic’s territory. As often occurs during the conquest of land, ideas and traditions were added onto the Celtic culture. Now, Samhain included two Roman holidays: Feralia, which celebrated the passing of spirits into the afterlife, and also a day in honor of Pomona, which is thought to have included bobbing for apples, as is tradition today in America. Later on, Pope Gregory the III dedicated November 1 to all saints and martyrs, otherwise known as All Hallows Day, and in the year 1000 AD, November 2 was declared All Souls Day, a day honoring the dead. It is common belief that this action was meant to change the pagan traditions of Halloween, the eve of All Hallows Day, into a holiday that was accepted by the church.

Halloween was brought to the United States as most traditions were: immigration. Before the 19th century, Halloween wasn’t a nationally celebrated holiday. However, hordes of Irish immigrants fleeing the shortage of food in Ireland, known as the potato famine, found refuge in America and spread knowledge of the traditions of Samhain. People went door-to-door asking for food or money, and teenage girls thought that they could predict their future husbands using apple peelings and mirrors. By the end of the century, the meaning of Halloween changed from superstitious beliefs to neighborhood parties and trick-or-treating in response to action taken by people to turn Halloween into a family friendly holiday. The trick-or-treating tradition likely began based off of a tradition where people were given food on All Souls Day in return for prayers for deceased family members. It was also influenced by an increase in vandalism during Halloween night, which adults hoped to avoid by offering children small candies, hoping to satisfy them enough to pass over their homes.

Halloween hasn’t always been known as Halloween. Once, it was known as Samhain, a holiday that was celebrated by the Celtics as a time when realms blurred and spirits could visit their homes once again. Ironically, many of the same traditions are used today as they were so long ago by the Celtics. Next time you go trick-or-treating or wear a Halloween costume, remember that you are living out a tradition that has stood the test of time for thousands of years!

Sources: http://www.history.com/topics/halloween/history-of-halloween

Poem: Lie of the War

Inspired by All Quiet on the Western Front by E.M. Remarque

The story of many through the eyes of one.

First World War, through the sight of man

Testament of Paul Bäumer, a German soldier

His fight for life, run from death,

Until his final one last breath.

 

World War I, the Allied against the Central.

Assassination of one to bloodshed of many

Young men deceived by “Glory” of war,

Join into the pointless flood,

Of the unforgiving sea of blood

 

Convinced by his schoolmaster,

Paul falls in line to enter the war for his country.

To only find, the truth of the lie

Of a war that could never be weighed

He is one who has been betrayed

 

In a war without a climax, he will fight

Eyes of the tale, sight on the field

The clock ticks on for Paul Bäumer’s time

With Stanislaus “Kat” Katczinsky, the best friend,

Till he has meet his end.

Many will die, few will endure

From enemies to classmates, all will fall.

To those who survive,

Irreversible damage is done.

That will last long after the war is won.

 

Kemmerich, infection of his leg.

Müller, a shot in the stomach.

Detering, death by desertion.

Leer, a shrapnel to the hip.

One by one, their lives are more are gone in a blip.

 

Bit by bit Paul’s sanity fades away.

As each of his friends turn from life to the grave.

Blood smashed against the walls

Voices of every scream

The only thing that fills his dreams.

 

Paul lives on to see his friends die.

With death, comes surviving guilt.

“Home” is a torturous place

Without a person to understand.

Paul is alone with none to hold his hand.

 

The final blow is Kat’s death,

Paul’s best friend and brother

The one who taught him to survive, but

A bullet to the shin, then a shrapnel to the head

Leaves Kat out completely bled.

 

On the day, that was all quiet on the western front

With a face of calm and the happiness of end,

Paul Bäumer dies in October of 1918.

 

No one to support, No one for support.

Left alone with no will and no dream

A shadow without hope. Barely, able to cope.

The life of the “Lost Generation”

That Paul escapes.

 

Lies of the war creates the “Lost Generation”.

Young men tricked by “Glory”,

They survive without hope and a will.

All that they see is the death and the destruction

That will never fade as they live.

 

-Sarah J., 11th grade

A Different Ending To Veronica Roth’s Novel, Allegiant

*Warning! This post contains spoilers. If you have not read the end of Allegiant, you might not want to read on*

So, I was really disappointed when I read the end of Allegiant. I’m sure a lot of people were. I was almost in tears, and I threw the book across the room. (Never harm a book like that.) I don’t blame Veronica Roth for the ending, because I do think the Divergant series is well written. Instead of hating Roth forever, I decided to write a different ending. I’m not going to change every single chapter. Whatever page numbers I skip, it means that I’m keeping that part of the book the same. With all of what has happened to Tris, I don’t think she deserves to die. (Personally, I wished Peter would have died instead. He’s a total brat.) Anyway, this story isn’t about Peter. This is Tris’s story, with the ending she deserves.

I start on page 455, where Tris is taking the backpack away from Caleb.

Tris pg. 455-458, 467-476

Caleb bent down to whisper in my ear. “Tris, I’m going to have to go, or this will all be for nothing.”

“What, no! I can come a little bit farther with you,” I whispered back.

“Tris. Please don’t make this harder than it is. Distract them.” With that, Caleb turned on his heel and sprinted down the hall.

I can’t be breaking down and crying now. Instead, I point my gun at one of the guards and I pull the trigger. He goes down, clutching his shoulder in pain, but only one goes down to help him. The rest approach me, with their guns taken off safety mode.

I brace myself to fight them fist to fist, but they just push me aside. I get knocked to the ground, and the last guard crushes my left hand.

I’m sorry, Caleb, I think, as I struggle to breathe.

I feel the small bomb go off. When I hit the ground, a searing pain goes up my spine. My eyes are starting to lose focus, but right before they close I can see Matthew and Cara towering over me, their expressions worried.

Tobias 489-492

I rounded the corner, and breathed a sigh of relief. Tris had an arm around Cara, her face wet with tears and blood, and her other hand clutching an ice pack to her side. Her facelit up when she saw me. I ran to her, and hugged her gently so Tris wouldn’t be in pain.

“Is Caleb with you?” Tris asked quietly. “I know that the city has been reset, but he’s got to be alive! I-“

I put a finger to her lips. But before I could speak, she moved my hand away.

“Don’t try to silence me!” He’s my brother, and I should have gone in his place,” Tris said, and then broke down crying.

“Tris?” Cara interrupted. “Caleb… well, he didn’t make it. I was supposed to bring you back, and Matthew was supposed to retrieve Caleb’s body if he didn’t make it.”

This made Tris cry even harder. I shot Cara a dirty look as I led Tris to sit down. I hugged her and let her cry into my shirt. Minutes, hours, or days could have passed, but it didn’t matter to me.

Days pass, as I try to cope with the grief. Sometimes I train, and sometimes I just sit there. Christina won’t hand around with me anymore. She told me, to my face, that she understands that I need a friend right now. Instead, she drifts away, not understanding how I can let my own brother die, almost in front of me. I don’t understand either.

Cara’s been trying to help Peter, which I don’t know why. He’s just going to turn into that brat again, so why bother?

Uriah is getting unplugged today. I walk silently, hand in hand with Tobias. Evelyn, Zeke, and Hana are there, but I don’t notice them. I can only focus on Uriah, my best friend. When the doctor starts flipping switches, I turn around. I don’t want to see another person I love die right before my eyes.

Tris 509

We have to be brave in this world. Sometimes being brave can mean being selfless. Even though one choice can destroy a brother, another choice can avenge him. Between Tobias and I, we’ll avenge Uriah and Caleb’s lives. They will never be forgotten.

Epilogue 2 ½ years later

I had to keep a record of what really happened. The people of Chicago deserve to know, if they didn’t know already.

I’m training George’s police force, while Tobias is being an assistant to a politician.

Tobias and I have a child, a beautiful baby boy. He’s about a year and a half years old, and is trying to chase his father on his short, chubby legs. I laugh as I write this, but also think of the memories. His name is Uriah Prior Eaton. His first name named after the first Uriah, and Prior for my brother. May they rest in peace. His last name is Eaton because Four thinks that his last name doesn’t remind him of Marcus anymore.

I’ve gotten over the fact that Caleb has passed away, but I haven’t forgotten him. Life damages everyone, but we can heal.

-Rebecca V. 8th grade

Creative Writing: Original Beginnings

For this month I decided to write the beginning of my own two short stories instead of writing a traditional book or movie review. I hope you enjoy!

Rain. It hadn’t stopped. Continuously, it poured from the sky, drenching the lawns and flooding the streets. I haven’t been outside for weeks because of it. No one could get anywhere. It just kept coming as if the crying sky wanted everyone else to be just as miserable.

I mean, it got its wish. I was officially miserable. With dimmed lights and a dreary view, I only had one thing to keep me happy during my days in isolation.

Sammy. My little brother didn’t understand the meaning of the oncoming rain. He almost liked it. I didn’t understand why. The constant pattering on the roof was enough to drive me crazy within the first few days. But the innocent child loved it, hoping to see a rainbow when it finally cleared. That’s innocence for you, waiting for the bright colors on a gray day. I didn’t have that luxury. I knew it would be a long while until we saw any light, if we did at all. It’d be a miracle to get outside of this dark house.

—————–

I had always been told not to walk alone at night, but I had never been told why. My imagination was left to run free with what would happen to me. What were the chances that a monster would take me? How did I even know something bad would happen? I had no idea why it was such a terrible thing; I just know it was. My mind was filled with the memories of my parents locking my door every night, trapping me in isolation once the sun went down. Now that I thought about it, I didn’t really remember what I did at night. I didn’t remember falling asleep or fighting to get out. I couldn’t even remember anything right after I was shoved into the room and all the light went away. It was as if my mind had shut down and wouldn’t let me access my thoughts or feelings. And when I woke up, the first thing I had always seen was my door. The whole situation wouldn’t have confused me so much if the wood hadn’t been cut through on the inside with claw marks.

-Sabrina C., 10th Grade