Pixels & Pages

Calling all creative teens! Send us your best poetry, stories, and artwork! Accepted entries will be featured on this page, with a chance to be published in Pixels & Pages, our annual Teen Magazine! Submit your work at any MCPL location, or online at www.mcpl.us/teenzone/publishing.
MAY 13, 2011
Crashing American Idol
Hi, my name is Jeffrey. I'm here to tell you what I
have done tonight. I'm just a normal l4-year old going
along with every day dreaming to be something big so my
friends and I decided to do something, I'll tell you rny
story.

It was a normal Monday morning. I live in the middle
class section of Hollywood's neighborhoods. My parents
own a restaurant in the downtown area, and they get lots of
business from tourists in the area so they're not home
much. Well as I was saying it was a normal Monday
morning, and I was at school talking to my three best
friends: Carl, Kevin, and Pablo. We thought of how cool it
would be to be on American ldol. We knew we couldn't be
on the show until we were older; and we had to be good
singers, which we weren't, so we devised a plan to get on
it. We would get past security during the show and act like
we were dancers. Then we would go on stage and do some
of our awesome moves like the sprinkler, Iawn mower, and
the Charlie Brown. It was fool-proof because we knew the
building by heart; my friend Carl's dad was a janitor for the
building, and we got to explore it after hours.

The night of the elimination episode Carl's dad took
us in his work van, which was a janitor's van, and snuck us
in through the back. Katy Perry, was going to be singing on
the show so we decided to go on stage then. When she went
on, she started singing and we ran onto the stage. We
looked like shadows in the background. Kevin didn't like
that so he went up by Katy Perry and started to dance with
her, She was shoeked, but she had to go along with it and
look natural. Then Pablo and Carl went up and started
dancing too. I didn't want to be left out so I went up too. It
was fun but also kind of embarrassing. After the song Katy
was singing, we all ran off stage quickly. We were stopped
by the bodyguards, and brought up to you here, sir, where
we now are. So now you know what happened.

The person we were talking to was Simon, who used
to be on the show, He said we were great, and that we
could dance for the show if we took weekly dance lessons
paid by the show. We now rnake enough money so that in
less than a year we can buy a nice car, so everything turned
out all right.
{{c}}

Add a comment  (0 comments) posted by Aaron W.

Categories: Short Story/Essay 2011

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MAY 10, 2011
Melt
Let me tell you about how I was born. The first thing I was ever aware of was heat. Intense, burning heat. It was all I had ever known, but I just wanted it to end. I wanted to cool down, though at the time I really had no conception of Cold. Still, cool down I did. And for one brief, glorious moment, a moment so short it’s a miracle I could possibly remember it, I was perfect. Then, I got too cold. Much too cold. Colder than you could ever imagine. I couldn’t move, I could barely even think.
       I’m not sure how long I stayed that way. I had nothing to mark the time. It felt like too long, though. But one day, it got warmer. I had almost forgotten what it felt like to be even the slightest bit warm. As I thawed, I became aware that I was on something, and that there were others there too. Others had come to be on this thing, and they were screaming! Suddenly, I understood why. It was hot. Very hot. Not nearly the inferno of my birth, but enough that the burning was back. And I screamed.
       Looking back, I suppose I felt like I was falling. But honestly, at the time I really didn’t care. I do remember the impact, though. We hit something. Hard. Then it got cold again. Only this time, the cold was pretty bearable. I decided to enjoy it, because who knew how long that would last. But after that, things only got better.
        I loved to run in those days. I would run and dance and sometimes feel like I was really flying. I’d never felt freer, but I was about to.
       Suddenly, I realized I had run too far. The ground was gone! I suppose you could call what I did “falling”, but it really didn’t feel that way. It was slow, and the way I spun and flipped, it was more like dancing, I decided. Then, the good feeling was back. The feeling I had only experienced twice before. The perfect temperature.
       It was then that I felt best. I was free and fluid. I felt like I could do anything or go anywhere I wanted. So, for a while, I did. It was a peaceful life, quiet and slow.
       One day, not too long ago, I was just relaxing, enjoying the sunshine, when a very peculiar feeling came over me. I realized that I was floating! With everything else that had happened to me so far, floating was one of the most pleasant, so I thought, what the heck. I’ve always been pretty “go with the flow”.
       There were many others gathering in the place where I was headed. We all danced and swirled and flew about together. It was bliss. Some seemed to know exactly what was going on, but I didn’t let them tell me. Why ruin the surprise? And what a surprise it was!
       It started to get cold again. By that time, I was just about sick of the cold. Every time something nice happened, it had to rear its ugly, frostbitten head! However, there wasn’t anything I could do about it. Just to let whatever happens happen.
       Now I am dancing, and I have just discovered that I am truly beautiful! People stop and to stare at me. Children run to the windows and squeal with delight at my pristine beauty and unparalleled grace! But it is lonely. I am still cold, and, as I stop to rest, I find I cannot continue my dance in this way. I somehow know that if I become warm, my beauty will disappear, but I am willing. My comrades, who have also just finished their own dances, cover me in a blanket. There I stay, for who knows how long. I still only wish to be warm and free.
       The next thing I am aware of is the sunlight. Then, the warmth. Oh, the warmth! I get the Feeling again. The one of amazing joy at feeling warm! My friends and blanket are gone, leaving just me. I run again.
       I run downhill and join many others who share my joy in the light and heat. We go together, a single flowing body, until we meet still others! The path they run along is well worn, smooth from the passage of millions over centuries. I join them, all of us jumping, laughing, and most of all, totally and utterly free!
       As I fly along in my new home, I decide that what I am is better than every tree and creature I see speeding past me. Better than any of the things you would call “living”. I am glad to be what I am.
       For I am a drop of water.

Add a comment  (0 comments) posted by Sarah C.

Categories: Short Story/Essay 2011

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MAY 10, 2011
Thanks be to Gravity

We feel as if we are bound to the earth,
but truly, we cling to it for dear life.

"Oh, for the freedom of flight!"
the world laments.

But we should be glad
that our feet are firmly on the ground.

Because what if the world
decided to let us fall up?

Then where would we be?

Add a comment  (2 comments) posted by Sarah C.

Categories: Poetry 2011

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MAY 10, 2011
October Night

The dying sun glints off leaves of fire.
The colors of death; summer's funeral pyre.

Why does such beauty preceed time of such cold?
The grey and the dank; what's new becomes old.

The wind howls loudly through skeleton trees,
pulling up with it tiny whirlwinds of leaves.

The round hunter's moon hangs low in the sky.
It's time for all green things to come out and die.

The stars shine so brightly in the crisp autumn night.
In the black velvet of sky, tiny pinpoints of light!

The crinkle of leaves as they skim 'cross the ground.
All rest of the year lost, tonight I am found!

Add a comment  (1 comment) posted by Sarah C.

Categories: Poetry 2011

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MAY 10, 2011
Do Poems Always Rhyme?
Why do poems tend to rhyme?
If they don't, is that a crime?

Can just anyone be a poet?
If they are one, do they know it?

Keeping rhythm, keeping a beat.
Doing just that is quite a feat.

But thinking up all these words that rhyme?
That seems like it would take some time.

So every poem has rhythm and rhyme?
I don't think so.

Add a comment  (0 comments) posted by Sarah C.

Categories: Poetry 2011

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MAY 10, 2011
Beyond the Mundane

I swim beneath the waves,
I fly above the storm.

In my own secluded bubble,
all is still, and all is warm.

But though I stay away,
I don't pretend the dark's not there.

And though I stay up by myself,
it doesn't mean I do not care.

For I still hear the thunder,
and still the wind I feel.

But if I am buffeted by this gale,
I fear I will not heal.

Add a comment  (0 comments) posted by Sarah C.

Categories: Poetry 2011

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MAY 10, 2011
We Stand Tall
We stand tall,
though you see us with our heads bowed.
We stay out here,
in the wind and the rain and the biting cold.
We stay.
While you huddle in your shelter,
crawl towards the fire,
and think yourselves brave.

Add a comment  (0 comments) posted by Sarah C.

Categories: Poetry 2011

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MAY 10, 2011
If a Tree Could Speak...
If a tree could speak
Oh, what stories it would tell!
But it stays silent

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Categories: Poetry 2011

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MAY 10, 2011
Paper (Rough Edges)

Like paper, I am
Breakable. Markable.
Torn by your hands
Shakeable. Stoppable.
Rough edges, I have
Cuttable. Mendable.
Thrown by your hands
Unlovable. Expendable.
Scattered, I live
Losable. Vulnerable.
The scars that you give
Unmerciful. Findable.
Branded, I find
Replaceable. Usable.
You’re losing my mind
Which is inexcusable.

Like paper, you are
Tearable. Hurtable.
Your dreams become far
Terrible. Unskirtable.
With anger, I see
Laughable. Perishable.
You’re no more than me
Undependable. Un-nameable.
I make you let go
Unholdable. Unbeatable.
You loosen your hold
Finally, I’m freeable.

Ripped down the side
Do you see that?
Unable to hide
Can you tell that?
Just like the rest
Do you hate that?
You’re a cowering mess
Hear that?
Like paper, we are
Breakable. Markable.
Covered in scars
Shakable. Stoppable.
Look into my eyes
You’re savable. Mendable.
It’s yourself you despise
But I am dependable.
Like paper, we are
Trimable. Creatable.
Marks in our hearts
Erasable. Cleansable.
Turn over yourself
Joyful. Be grateful.
With a little of help
We can all be faithful.

Add a comment  (1 comment) posted by Haley Y.

Categories: Poetry 2011

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MAY 10, 2011
Loved then lost
U used to kiss me softly
U Said forever by my side
Felt so right
Now I wonder why  are u with her tonight
I can’t help but notice how your love for me has died
And deep inside
I hear the breaking of my heart
What did I do wrong?
Why did this fall apart
Bet you felt nothing for me all along
Bet u knew there was nothing Rite from the start
Tossed me aside like a little toy
A boy is a boy
But u aint so ordinary
Why u doin this to me
U monster
U love me
Then leave me
Then fite to let me go
U played with my emotions
But how was I supposed to know
That u were so selfish
Only carin bout yourself
Why don’t u care about others
Well Go cry to your mommy
Tell her all the lies
Burry yourself deep in her cold dead eyes
Oh yeah shes alive
Just another lie
Dead to u
Well ur dead to me
Flee boy flee
For I do somthin I regret
Like break you neck
Go to hell
You don’t even have to yell
Im not listenin
Only the wet teardrops on my face  are glistenin

Add a comment  (0 comments) posted by Justice P.

Categories: Poetry 2011

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MAY 10, 2011
The Third Story By The Narrators
Narrator 1: Notice anything?
Narrator 2: Uh, besides that giant grin on your face that’s blinding me? Not really.
Narrator 1: Think top of the page.
Narrator 2: Haven’t the foggiest what you’re talking about.
Narrator 3: Ooh! I can’t stand it anymore! The “of” has become “by” in the title! Score for Narrator 1!”
Narrator 1: Who in the world are you?
Narrator 2: Yeah, and why are you sitting on the comfy stool? I didn’t get to sit on the comfy stool when I first got here. That’s not fair! That stool even has a pink cushion!
Narrator 3: Okay, okay, just breathe. You guys have no idea how honored I am to be here. I’m Narrator 3 and your biggest fan!
Narrator 2: Sorry, place for biggest fan already taken: that’s me.
Narrator 1: Does the boss know you’re here, Three? And, not to burst your bubble, but we don’t need another narrator. Wait, what’s that boss?....Three stays .... Otherwise you’ll…(gulp)…no, no, we understand perfectly.
Narrator 2: Understand perfectly? I don’t think anyone understood anything. At all.
Narrator 1: Um, the boss thought having three narrators for the third story sounded, um, right. And if we don’t keep Three, we lose our jobs. Oh man! I don’t even feel glad about the “by” in the title anymore! It seems so dull.
Narrator 3: Two did tell you that.
Narrator 2: Uh, before someone strangles someone else, it’s time to begin our story!
Narrator 1: Right! Ladies and Gentlemen, please accept our humble retelling of “Rapunzel”, the main character being-
Narrator 2: Jack Spoonhead!
Narrator 1: Ugh.
Narrator 3: I love it when Two does that.
Narrator 1: Seriously though, how is Jack going to play a princess with super long-?
Narrator 2: Just leave it to me. Now, no interruptions please. Hundreds of years ago, this world was a dark place, ruled by an evil king called Barthalous!
Narrator 3: (Gasp!) This is scary!
Narrator 2: Although he was someone who loved evil, Barthalous also loved all beautiful. So when his royal gardener’s wife gave birth to a baby boy with no hair, whom she called Jack Rapunzel Spoonhead, King Barthalous locked the child in his tallest tower in the wild forest for the ugliness of his head-
Narrator 1: And his name.
Narrator 2: Hey!
Narrator 3: Ooh, that was a good one, Narrator One! My turn! The baby was given a nanny of course, because babies need someone to take care of them! And the nanny brought Jack Rapunzel toys and-
Narrator 2: Right, moving on.
Narrator 1: Fifteen years passed in which the king would visit Jack once a year to see if his looks had improved. Jack’s eyes were the deepest blue and his face was the handsomest. Plus he worked out, so he was in top condition. But he still had no hair. In Jack’s fifteenth year, King Barthalous was getting impatient of waiting. Oh yeah the nanny’s gone too. Anyway, Barthalous gave this warning to our hero.
Narrator 2: “Tomorrow night, if your hair has not grown at least an inch…OFF WITH YOUR HEAD!”
Narrator 3: No! The monster!
Narrator 1: Jack held his head in his hands after the king left. Then it struck him. How exactly did the king come and go? He leaned out the window, and there was the tallest ladder he had ever seen winding its way to the ground.
Narrator 2: What? And he’s never noticed it before? All those years he could’ve looked out the window and seen the ladder?
Narrator 3: Well, his nanny locked the window all those years obviously. He could’ve fallen out!
Narrator 2: Uh, right.
Narrator 1: Jack filled his pillow case with supplies, made himself a hat to cover his head, and waited till cover of darkness.
Narrator 2: Quietly, with a machete in his pocket, Jack began descending the ladder. He was half-way down, about twenty feet left, when a girl’s voice from below called, “Jack Rapunzel, Jack Rapunzel, let down your long hair!”
Narrator 1: What?
Narrator 3: I’m confused.
Narrator 2: That surprised Jack so much that he slid down the ladder the rest of the way only to land on someone. “Ouch!” the voice yelled.
Narrator 1: Jack covered the girl’s mouth with his hand. “Quiet,” he hissed, and slowly released his hand. Jack pulled back and stood. He was better able to see who he’d landed on. It was a girl about his age, with an angry face. Her eyes were a muddy brown, and her chin was pointy, but her hair was thick and red, and hung down her back to her waist in two beautiful French braids.
Narrator 2: You describe people too much. How can he see her anyway if it’s night time? Let’s get some action! “I’ll be loud if I want to!” the girl snapped at him. Jack shrugged; he didn’t have much of a temper, and turned to leave. To his surprise, as he walked on through the woods, the girl followed.
Narrator 1: “You’re Jack Rapunzel Spoonhead aren’t you? Well, I think I should warn you that you’re about to walk into a very dangerous sandpit if you go that way.” Jack stopped and turned to her. “Why’d you tell me to let down my long hair?” he asked, and he pulled off his cap. The girl looked down and her cheeks burned.
Narrator 2: “I was making fun of you. Everyone picks on me, so I thought to pick on someone who couldn’t punch back. I was wrong. You’re pretty good at tackling people.”
Narrator 3: “Will you marry me?” Jack asked.
Narrator 1: What?!?
Narrator 2: You big dummy! Erase! Erase! Ignore that last sentence everyone! Please! It isn’t true! Three is lying!
Narrator 1: I’ve had enough. I love my job, but this is too much. Two, hit the button!
Narrator 2: You mean the big red one that will release our nuclear missiles, or the one that calls the pizza place?
Narrator 1: No, that green one that says, “Eject person in comfy stool”.
Narrator 2: Oh, that one. Sure thing! Bye, Three, it’s been nice knowing you.
Narrator 3: I’m your biggest faaaaaaa…
Narrator 1: Ah, I feel better. Wait, we have nuclear missiles? How come we aren’t surrounded by FBI or something?
Narrator 2: Beats me. “I’ll make a deal with you,” Jack continued. “You help me overthrow the evil King and I’ll make sure no one picks on you while I’m around.” Slowly, the girl smiled, and it changed her whole face.
Narrator 1: “You have yourself a deal. To start with, you should know my name is Jean, and I live in the only village in this forest, so I know my way around. If you want to get to Barthalous, we can’t touch the ground. We’ll have to climb the trees because there are too many dangers on the ground.”
Narrator 2: And swinging from tree to tree worked too because the branches were so close together. So through the dark trees the duo swung. At one point, the branches were so close that Jack had to use his machete to cut their way through. And then the palace walls loomed before them.
Narrator 1: “Do you have a plan?” Jean asked.
Narrator 2: “My plan,” Jack began, starring down at the castle. “Is to take my machete and slay the king and his evil penguins! No one will stop me!”
Narrator 1: Eeek! Are you crazy? That’s way too violent! Slay them all? With his machete that has done only good up to this point?
Narrator 2: Sorry. I was caught up in the moment.
Narrator 1: Change it quick. What will the boss say? He’s going to skin us alive!
Narrator 2: So what? We’re already dead since we got rid of Three.
Narrator 1: You’re right! Now I don’t have to be the sensible one. Mwahaha!
Narrator 2: Uh, why don’t you order a pizza while I talk? “Of course I have a plan,” Jack actually said. “Which part do you want to be: the distraction or the plan executor?” Jean leapt to the ground with ease. “The distraction obviously. I’m guessing you’re going to need directions to the king’s chamber?”
Narrator 1: “You bet,” Jack answered, following Jean to the ground. “Alright,” Jean continued. “Walk through the gate, through the courtyard and then the kitchens. Then take a right and go up two flights of stairs. Take two lefts, then go up three flights of stairs, take a right and then-“
Narrator 2: “And then you’ll be at his chambers.”
Narrator 1: Hey, I was still narrating!
Narrator 2: Yeah, but Jack Rapunzel is going to be out of breath before he gets to the king. Without another word Jean raced off toward the gates. Thankfully, the drawbridge was down, and she ran through the opening yelling, “Hey everyone! Free barbeque in the gardens!” Jack watched the guard’s disappear from their posts before venturing into the courtyard. He started to cross the courtyard.
Narrator 1: Boring! Jack quickly grabbed the nearest super-long pole nearby, and pole vaulted into the kings window!
Narrator 2: Armature work. Evil Barthalous, in his bathrobe, stood starring at Jack as Jack drew his trusty machete. Jack swept off his hat. “Ugh! Get out of my sight!” the king screamed. When Jack didn’t move, Barthalous-
Narrator 1: Called out, “Penguins, come here and rid me of this horrendous sight!” Jack tensed for the attack, but the castle only shook and he heard bird screeches. “What?” Barthalous demanded towards to the open door. “You can’t get here because there’s a stampede of guards heading to the gardens for barbeque? Imbeciles!” Jack smiled and pointed his machete at the king.
Narrator 2: “Your reign of evil terror is over,” Jack stated. Hey look! Pizza’s here! Wait, you actually pressed the button and ordered a pizza?
Narrator 1: (shrug) You suggested it. Oh man! Now the pizza will get cold!
Narrator 2: Let me handle this. So Jack locked Barthalous and his evil penguins in the dungeon, and Jean found a lotion that grew Jack’s hair out nice and long. They ruled the kingdom and everyone prospered. Everyone was also happy: especially since the Packer’s won the Super Bowl! How’s that? Is that pizza any good?
Narrator 1: That was perfect my friend and so is the pizza. Uh-oh. The boss is calling you.
Narrator 2: Want some pizza boss?...No?...FBI outside…Warrant for arrest for illegal housing of nuclear weapons…(gulp)…No, we understand boss.
Narrator 1: Understand what? I was too busy chewing to hear anything. Tell me!
Narrator 2: Let’s just say it would be wise to end this story while we’re ahead.
 
The End

Add a comment  (0 comments) posted by Abigail H.

Categories: Short Story/Essay 2011

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MAY 10, 2011
Will You Listen To Your History?
Listen all; Listen well,
To this tale I have to tell,
It’s a tale, it’s a story,
Full of life, and death, and glory.

Years way before your birth,
A war was fought on this turf,
That is, over to the East,
It touched the greatest to the least,

It happened because an English King,
Just wouldn’t, wouldn’t give up the thing,
That’d bring an income of tons of gold,
T’was the New World, ruled by the Old.

You see, men of every age wouldn’t take,
The taxes and laws their own king would make,
“We had no say, right brother!”
Most would mutter to each other.

Some cried for reason,
Others said it t’was treason,
But there was a stronger cry of them all,
“War!” became a patriot’s well used call.

And of the men who wanted freedom,
Would rise a man to guide all of them,
The man refused, for fear of failing,
But he soon consented, and left safety trailing.

Many hearts did fall,
For his army was just so small,
Men and women would gaze in dismay,
“Can old muskets beat the red coats? Nay.”

Sure of a certain victory,
The English generals all took tea,
And while their troops marched with leisure,
Colonists soldiers left all their pleasure.

The burden of this revolution,
Was almost too much for Washington’s resolution,
He had limited supplies and allies,
But this man became a hero in the people’s eyes.

For he fought with the desperation,
That comes from a want of liberty’s declaration,
And beside him fought the drummer boys,
And brave girls who should not yet have left their toys.

The times were tight and winter hard,
But again and again the Brit’s plans were marred,
For our people’s want of independence,
Was growing from hurt, and stubbornness.

“You’ve taken our men!”
Many shouted then,
“Our boys won’t die in vain!”
On the red coats came this growing strain.

Too many lives were taken,
But America’s resolve was not shaken,
And in the end England left,
And our ancestors took a joyful breath.

“Oh say can you see?”
“We have won! Our country is free!”
And the great general took his place,
As our president, for he’d won the race.

So was birthed a great nation,
Through the sweat and blood of our great relations,
They stood strong and tried to do right,
For what will you stand strong and fight?

Have you listened all? Listened well?
To this tale I had to tell?
To this tale, to this story,
Full of life, and death and glory.

Add a comment  (0 comments) posted by Abigail H.

Categories: Poetry 2011

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MAY 10, 2011
Tramonto
Glancing past the broken clock hanging on the wall,
And the black piano, 82 beautiful keys,
Outside to the window and I feel kind of small,
As I watch the whole world sway to the breeze.

And there’s a melody out there lost in the sky,
Such a quiet, quiet roar,
Not a single moment to wonder why,
Just enough time to open the door.

Beauty in the form of perfect nature,
Washing and flowing over my being,
Acute senses stretched over the whole acre,
Not only hearing and smelling but seeing.

Such a delicate wind, small puffs of warm air,
And at the edge of the tree marked horizon,
Clouds and patterns of a sight so rare,
Indescribable colors surround the setting sun.

But the tree line will swallow the magic whole,
The time will come for one of God's starry nights,
Bright and warm presences will turn dusky cold,
The sky an inky blue, an absence of light.

So I freeze this moment, this sunset, Tramonto,
And lock it away in my expanse of mind,
There's a special place for this snapshot of meadow,
Tucked away safely, yet easy to find.

I open the door, tiptoe back inside,
And stare at the dull interior,
Allowing the day to give way to the night,
So the sun cannot grow any wearier.

 

Add a comment  (0 comments) posted by Haley Y.

Categories: Teen Publishing Project2011Poetry

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MAY 10, 2011
Nature: It Can Be Explosive
Nature: It Can Be Explosive

Add a comment  (0 comments) posted by Haley Y.

Categories: Teen Publishing Project2011Visual Art

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MAY 10, 2011
To Honor Them

I stood proudly beside my father, awe and exhilaration running through my veins. Who would not stand proudly beside the greatest king the land had ever seen? I had been chosen. Yes, me, the youngest son of his dead wife! Simple Jaka! Weakling Jaka! Youngest son Jaka! No longer would I have to cringe whenever my brothers passed me in the halls. I was now Shi Jaka Sha-Lemkair, King’s Son! I felt like beating my chest with my fist in my pride.

My brothers had all failed! Something they never did and something I would never cease doing, they claimed. Ha! They had once boasted so. Now who stands in my father’s favor as he stands against our enemy, the Edomites? My brothers have been exiled in their disgrace. They, the eldest Shi Eltial the Quick, the second born Shi Ragnok the Powerful, and the third Shi Umjar the Clever, could not perform the one task given them! Their honor is mine! Where they have failed I will not. None of my exiled once-brothers could kill the Edomite king, but not one of them is last-born Shi Jaka the Silent!
 
My father’s anger was beyond words when my brothers returned in disgrace. The very grains of sand trembled at his wrath, and I would not think of living through such a thing again. That is why in this coming battle I shall slay our enemy’s ruler.  Because of their clumsiness, my brothers could not rid of us Edomite’s king soon enough, and now open war is at our doors.  I alone am left of my father’s, King Sha Lemkair Sha-Odo’s, sons to stand beside him. I will carry my weapons, my spear and sword, with the pride and honor of my people the Rephaites. At every hearth shall my tale be told among my people, my powerful people.  All shall hear how in the midst of the battle I alone could sneak past the enemy’s thousands of warriors and slay their king. Or I will die in the attempt. Rather the honor of death than the risk of disgrace and my father’s anger.
 
My people, the Rephaites, are a tall and strong people, standing over the Edomite men by two heads at least. Even our women stand taller than their men.
 
That is, most of my people are tall. I, Jaka, am only a head taller than our enemy and no taller than a woman. Ach! That matters no more for it is my dishonor that shall bring me glory and our people victory, for it will allow me to be unnoticed in the fighting. Never shall we be forced to leave our land. Our land! Do you hear my thoughts, Edomites?! You shall be driven back like beaten dogs!
 
My father moves now, to speak to his men. To me. His head is high and shoulders broad as he speaks words of courage and glory. My own heart aches for battle as he stirs us. The men are ready, too. Over 10,000 strong are the Rephaites! Over ten-thousand men ready to spill blood. Who shall stand against us? None!
 
“Jaka, my son.” He speaks to me only now. His black eyes seek mine alone and I tremble at this honor. “Today you stand beside me as a son should. Bring me and your people honor. Should you fail, do not come back. But should you succeed, forever shall you be honored in my household as firstborn son.” My father and king turns away to the ram’s horn bearer. It is this man that shall signal us in our rage to charge against the enemy.
 
But how can I think of such small things? My breathing is shallow like a river in drought. Never shall I forget my father’s words to me. They shall I always treasure.
 
The horn bearer sounds his deep note!
 
“Aiiiiiiiiiiii!” My battle cry is surpassed by my father’s alone and my legs pump till I outrun all but a few. My vision is blurred, but the sounds are clear and magnified. The Edomites are simple ants: they seem to shrink so in my mind. I will crush them. I drop to silence as the battle roars louder than I ever could.
 
Smashing and slashing takes place around me, but I crouch low and race through the enemies unchallenged. How different do I look from them? There is no difference in our bronze skin, our clothes, our dark hair, and our weapons. But there is much difference inside. I am a king’s son, and am going to stand victor over every one of these men! They shall lie slain before my father’s might by the sun’s setting!
 
But one Edomite stops his charge and sees me for what I am. I am not running the right way. His face sneers and he raises his sword. For one moment, my heart fails me and I feel fear. NO! I shall not perish this close. And my arm holding the spear rises as if of its own will. And it throws of its own will, and pierces far through the man’s simple rags deep into his chest. He drops to his knees and I do too.
 
What is it I have done? His eyes do not leave mine, and neither of us sees the warriors that race past us and fight my people that have now reached this far.  Never have I looked into the eyes of a dying man. It feels as his slow death must feel, I think. You seem to read his every thought. He is real! I have killed him! As I stand, leaving my spear for I am unable to move it willingly, I see clearly war. I see clearly the blood and the dying and the pain. Why must I cause this? Why must this happen? But, from my memories, comes the image of my father.
 
He is staring at me, and the displeasure on his proud faces cuts to my heart. I cannot fail him!
 
I am running almost before I can think. But now, I avoid the blood baths and roaring warriors, using my mind; what little of it that is not still reeling from what I have done and seen. I spot the Edomites’ banner, and know that the cowardice king stands by it. No one else challenges me, for now there are warriors going in both directions and I have slouched to their height.
 
My steps slow to a walk as I near their king. I have killed once. I do not think I have it in me to do it again, enemy or not. But I must try! My people depend on me! Drawing my sword, I approach unnoticed even now and I see the Edomite, their hiding king.
 
Suddenly he sees me too, that fearful king all dressed in battle plumage, and he cowers. He does not move, only stares at me fearfully as my sword rises. There is no one near enough to save him, and my sword plunges unhindered. Why he did not fight for his own blood I do not know, or ever will.
 
His death is no easier for me to bear as I fall to my knees once more, throwing aside my sword. I am champion, but at what cost? Did this Edomite deserve death? I am sure he has done great wrong. What children lay slain because of him? What women are without husbands?  And yet, am I any better? Taking my sword and standing, I look about me, at my people and my enemies. No, I am no better. For even though my wrongs may not seem as great as his, what are they but wrong? I see now how corrupt, how violent I, no, we the Rephaites are. We deserve no less.  Who am I to unleash judgment? I am no king! I do not even feel a prince. All of a sudden, I feel old and weary instead.
 
A Rephaite warrior to my left falters, a spear through his shoulder, and I help him lie more comfortably. His face is full of pain, but he will live. One less death, one more life.
 
Looking out across the windy plain, I see my father’s plan has worked. With the Edomite king dead, the enemy has fallen to confusion and is fleeing, those not lying still on the dirt. My heart is heavy, and the well of my father’s pleasure that I had so longed to drink from once has lost its golden sheen and crystal taste. It is simply a stone structure filled with muddy water. No longer do I yearn for that more than anything, but something other.
 
My life will no longer be for seeking revenge on those who had once mocked me. I pity those people now, for they cannot see their own evil. Instead, I will set right what the Rephaites have done. I may not be a king or a worthy prince, but I am someone to start the change.
 
“Oh, honorable lord! We feared you were slain!” I turn slowly to face Shamel, my father’s battle general. He is trembling and, before another word passes between us, falls to his face. “Show no displeasure on me, your humble messenger. Already your people are mourning your father, slain by a chance sword thrust. I hope that this does not displease you, great King Sha Jaka Va Lemkair.”
 
Now I know for what he trembles. Always before, the messengers of bad news have been slain for what they had dared to bring to the king. Shamel had been chosen by lot, and now lay at my feet. My father was dead. My father, the invincible and all powerful. My father the cruel, like all his fathers before him. That would not be my fate.
 
In my silence, Shamel had raised his eyes to meet mine. We held each other’s gazes a long time, and he stared up at me, half fearful and half puzzled. I felt pity for him, and bent down to him, and lifted him up by his arms.
 
“We must now mourn my father, and those who have perished in fighting for our land. Families are now torn by this battle, and they must not be forgotten either. To honor them, let us bring about a time where no man who does right need fear for his life, and no widow left with children need fear hunger. I am much in need of a wise counselor. You would honor me, Shamel Va Jamel, to stand in that place.”
 
Shamel looked as one just waking from a dream. I clapped him on the shoulder and led him to the men. What I now felt I had to do with the time that was given me on this earth would take many years. Maybe even more than I had, but to my mind sees the image of a desert flower my people cherish:
 
For many seasons it will battle thorns and weeds and thirst. Sometimes the beautiful blossom will be nearer its death than a man in battle, but it strives on. And in the end, its seeds will fall to the earth so no thorns can grow there. Further and further will these flowers spread, until  you have not a desert of death but one of life, one you could look on and know that this is how things should be. That is what I want the nations to think of the Rephaites. No longer are we to be feared, but respected.
 
As I stand before my men with Shamel at my side, it is I who is the first blossom, the first desert flower.  But soon my people shall follow me, in a path that will honor those who would wish it thus.

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Categories: Teen Publishing ProjectShort Story/Essay 2011

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