Logan B., Kalei M., Mallory K., Meghan W., Kelsie M.
The main character apologies without using the words ‘apologize’, ‘regret’ or ‘sorry’.
Two truths about you that few may or may not know.
One lie about you.
Smarter Than A Fifth Grader
There’s only two people in this world that are as smart as me, Batman and the Joker. How can you even argue a statement like that? They are both extremely intellectual characters that will never stop fighting because they are both just as smart as the other. They definitely are the only people on the same level of intelligence as me, and today I’ll prove it. Today I am skipping my 50 States test and watching Batman vs. Joker: Unmasked. This is a huge deal to anyone that knows anything, which is me. You might ask yourself, how does this brave, Robin-like 5th grader just so easily skip school? My brains of course.
I have it all planned out. This morning I woke up super early; even before mom. I snuck into her bathroom and used her blow dryer to give myself a hot forehead, then I took last night’s left overs and threw them in the toilet, because, well you must be smart enough to figure that one out. I’m going to sit on the couch and watch the Batman countdown until she comes down stairs and says, “What’s wrong? You must be so sick. You’ll have to stay home today.” Yep, it’s all planned out.
As I sit through my third episode of Batman, mom finally comes down stairs.
“What have you done?” She asks concerned. That wasn’t what I was expecting.
“Mother, I am sick.”
“Cody, I’m not stupid. I saw my hair dryer in your bathroom and the empty left over box on top of the toilet. You’re not sick, you just made a mess. One that you’re going to clean up.” She says sternly as she turns the TV off.
All of the sudden, I can’t breathe. My plans have failed. My mother has out smarted me. She’s smarter than me, Joker, and even Batman himself.
“Don’t you have anything to say for yourself, young man?”
I try to apologize for my actions but I am unable to say anything. Nothing will come out.
“Oh what? Are you sick now?” She asks jokingly.
I can’t speak, there is one person in the world smarter than me, Batman, and the Joker. To make it worse, she’s been living with me this whole time, secretly competing against me to be the be smarter than me.
“M-mmo-other,” I manage to squeak out.
“I don’t want to hear it, Cody. Just go upstairs, clean up the bathroom, and get dressed.”
I struggle to get up, limping away with every step. I feel like I have just fought in a battle with Batman and the Joker. I am no where near as strong and coordinated as them. I reach the TV remote and record “Unmasked” to watch after school. It was worth a shot. Now I’ll go to school and get the best score on my 50 States test and still be the smartest kid in school.
To Tell a Lie
I wish I could stop, but it’s too late now. It’s been like this since I was a little girl. I can’t change myself now. I sit down on the sofa across from the therapist. My stupid foster family decided that this was “a good idea”. Mhmm, yeah right. These visits always end the same so let’s see how this one turns out. “So your name is Kelsey, is that right?” the elderly therapist asked. Hard to lie about that one so I fake a smile and say “Yes ma’am.” She gave a smile back and folded her hands together and calmly said “Tell me a little bit about yourself Kelsey.” I took a deep breath, what would I say this time? “Well, I was born here in Kentucky and I was raised in Indiana for the first four years of my life. I had cancer at 1 ½ years old and I beat it. That’s about it. Nothing really interesting.” I sighed, shrugging my tired shoulders. “So you’re a cancer survivor?” She said, grabbing for a huge jug of juice. “Yes ma’am. What, you don’t believe me? Did the Campbell’s tell you I tell nothing but lies?! They’re lying!” I angrily snapped, starting to rise from my seat. The elderly therapist put her arms up to grab my shoulders and force me back onto the sofa. “No, no dear! They said nothing like that!” She continued to grab for the juice and poured me a cup of apple juice and handed it to me. I took a sip and tried to hide my pursed lips and scrunched up nose. I hated apple juice, it was too sweet. The therapist tried to pour me some more but I shook my head no. “Your caretakers say you love apple juice. Was that a lie, Kelsey?” she said in her same calm voice. It almost seemed to mock me. I hated the way my name came out of her mouth, so softly and calmly. Like she was talking to a 7 year old instead of a 19 year old. I wanted so badly to leave and my heart sank when I saw the clock only say 2:00. It didn’t end until 5:00. My mind started to wander and everything that came out my mouth was more and more far from the truth. “Where did your parents go, Kelsey?” she asked. “They moved to Hawaii” I lied.
They’re in jail. Where I should be. Because I walked out of that office 4 hours early. As I shut the door behind me, I whispered “My condolences” to the lifeless figure on the floor. I walked out of the office into the sunlight. Someone will find her, I thought. Lying is how I have got out of everything. It’s how I’ll get out of this. It’s the only thing I know how to do. And nothing can change that now.
A Prisoner In My Priesthood
I could see the guilt in her eyes before she even reached the alter. She had not been faithful and yet here she was, about to devote herself to one person for the rest of her life. I was like her once, incapable of being loyal, undeserving of being loved. Entering the priesthood was my last choice. If I wanted to make things right this was the only way to do so, no matter how much I hated the smell of incense. Turning to face the groom, the bride had the same pale look of horror as I did when I shot the love of my life.
I had told myself that this relationship was going to be different because Macy was different. The way she saw the world, the way she told stories, and even her intense hatred of pickles made me love her all the more. But I guess it just wasn’t enough because along the way I slipped up. I must have slipped up or else she wouldn’t have cheated on me. I looked at everything. I took in all the details, but nothing was adding up. I was the one who usually did that sort of thing. I was the one who struggled to remain loyal in all of my relationships. All of them besides this one at least. The thought of anyone else being with Macy tore me up. I was not going to let them have her. They were going to pay for their actions. Macy was meant to be with me.
The hatred inside of me blinded me from thinking logically. For hours I waited in Macy’s apartment for her to show up with the person who was separating us. Finally, I heard Macy giggling as she approached the door. She was talking to him. Hearing his voice was the breaking point. Without even thinking I fired the gun at the first person who walked through the door. A loud thud sounded as the body fell to the floor. Shock washed over me as the realization of my mistake finally sunk in. Surrounded by the cold silence, I was overcome with guilt and terror when a voice shattered the quiet, “Macy, are you there? Is everything okay?” Laying on the floor next to Macy was her phone. The name “Isaac,” lit up the screen. I knew then and there I had to make it up to her. Which is exactly what I did after spending ten years in prison. They let me off early with good behavior. I really never meant for any of this to happen.
Looking up from the Bible I was holding, I was brought back to reality by the quiet laughter of the crowd as the groom stuttered to say his vows. The groom. He was the other reason I was here. On my cue I turned to him saying, “Isaac, do you take Maria to be your lawfully wedded wife?”
Double Edged Needle
The table was cold, the steel felt like concrete against my back. I had pictured this room countless times; the nurse, the grey walls, and the window. The air was stiff, the same as that night, the reminder poisoned my mind, taking me back to the beginning. It’s been 132 days since my death. They told me I only had 246 days left. Today was day 246.
You know the feeling that you get when the wind is knocked out of you? The almost instantaneous pain that throbs in your chest? That’s what the first shot felt like.
My body went numb. My eyes, dark. Is this what it felt like for her? It happened like this; The crimson puddled like raindrops, streaming steadily from the source. The white sheet spread across like snow. My hands had been dipped in the same rosy color that covered the ground. I felt the pain rack my entire body, like an explosion in my chest. The second shot. My ears deaf to the screams. My mind was still. The silence pierced like the knife in her side. When she died, I did too.
They all believed I could do it. I stuck a knife to her side. She was my twin, she didn’t deserve to die. Twelve people saw a monster, in my reflection I only saw her eyes. When they read the verdict my heart stopped, just like now, the third shot.
Guilt fills my body as I think of my actions from yesterday and what I have done to you. I wish I could take it all back, but sadly, I can’t. However, I can explain myself and hope you find it in your heart to forgive me. It all happened yesterday during lunch, when I was looking in the employee fridge and saw my favorite kind of sandwich, a sub. There wasn’t a name on it, so stupidly I thought maybe it was extra and up for grabs. As I bit into the bread, mayonnaise filled my mouth and I spit the bite out in disgust then proceeded to throw it away. Only to see you walk in moments later and open the fridge in search for what I had just thrown in the trash. I could see the sorrow on your face and in your voice as you explained that your lunch was missing. You shrugged it off, but I know that deep down you were yearning for the sandwich I had just selfishly tossed away, as if it were nothing. As you bravely put on a smile and walked towards the vending machines, I immediately ran to the garbage can and took out the sandwich. After going back to my desk, I put the dirty sub into a plastic bag and put it in my satchel. Usually, I am not a night owl, but I was up all night reconstructing the sandwich exactly as you had it. Even fought through my repulsive disgust for mayonnaise and smeared it on the bread in the same places you had. The sandwich this note is attached to is not the same as the one you had, but it’s the best I could do. I know nothing I do can take away the sadness and hunger you felt yesterday, and for that I am truly filled with remorse, but I hope this can cure your empty stomach today.
Thanks for the sub, man, but it was just a sandwich. Chill out.
Mallory K., Natasha N., Logan B., Sarah M., Kelsie M.
Julianne W., Meghan W., Shelby S., Brianna B., Maggie H.
Kara K., Abby A., Abby J., Star A.
A cat on a leash
Start with the sentence “And I thought you were…”
“And I thought you were going to stay with me through anything Jason. When we got married you said your vows and the most important to you was working everything out whether the problem was tiny or huge. Deciding which pumpkin to buy so that we could carve it for our first Halloween to buying our first house. We were supposed to love each other forever. I never said that I didn’t want kids I just said that I didn’t think I was ready to have them yet. We’ve only been married for a year, we both have new jobs and are still making payments on all the new furniture we bought for the house. Our marriage is still bubble wrapped it’s so new, I just want more time to get settled into our new life before we bring another person. Maybe for now we could get a dog, or a cat! A cat and we could take it for walks on a leach. Lets just wait, and get a cat until we’re ready for kids. I know you want kids right now, but right now I am just not ready. I am sorry. Please do not leave me. We will get through this I promise. One day I will be ready for more than just a cat on a leach.” As soon as i get my last word out he closes the door behind him. A few seconds pass, then he re opens the door. He looked at me with that perfect smile of his and said, “ are you coming to get this damn cat or not?” Thats when I realized exactly why I married him. I grabbed my coat and ran out the door into the car. Giggle and happy, just like I was on our wedding day.
From Cat To Mole Rat
“And I thought you were going to shave Ronaldo’s paws before today.” I was scolded by my mother who walked up to me with our other Siamese cat, Maximilian, on his bejeweled leash.
“This is no time to act a fool, Ryan. You know good and well that the Prestigious Feline Association has strict guidelines on the length of fur around their paws. I can’t have a repeat of last year happening again! It’s almost judgement time! Get those scissors out and trim about a quarter inch off each side. And when I return you better be finished.”
She walked away, Maximilian in tow. Hastily I grabbed the scissors which where still in the case and opened them before facing the feline. Ronaldo was ruthless, he is the reason I have scratches covering my arms and a couple lasting scars on my face. What he hated most: grooming. I approached slowly, making sure his leash was attached to the pole.
Things started off okay, until I got too close to his face while inspecting my work. That’s when the claws came out. God, this cat was ferocious, by the time I was done with his front leg I had three bleeding scratches. Man up Ryan! Think! I wasn’t going to sit here and take this. Looking around the venue, I noticed a box filled with bubble wrap that once held the glass trophy for today’s show. “Borrowing” the bubble I devised a genius plan. All I needed now was the helmet. It was November so what better décor than to have plastic pumpkins surrounding such a classy show. Cats, corn stalks, and pumpkins, oh how beautiful! Not. Who needs pumpkins at a Siamese Cat Show? Cutting the pumpkin with the scissors I made two eye holes before making an even larger hole for my nose. Completing the look I wrapped myself in bubble wrap, looking like a burrito.
Gingerly I approached the beast, scissors on guard like I was prepared for battle: which I was. I stealthy trimmed the other legs, protected by my shield as Ronaldo swatted and popped a couple bubbles. As I completed my grooming, I stepped back and removed my helmet to examine my work. Boy, was I in for a surprise. Apparently, I didn’t make the eye holes large enough and my perception of how much a quarter inch was, was off. The cat looked like a naked mole rat from the bottom down. On the plus side, we didn’t have a repeat of last year like my mother feared, instead we did worse.
The Witching Hour
“And I thought you were too busy doing your chores,” Amber said as she examined my witch costume.
“Nope,” I exclaimed, “I was able to trick my dad into thinking that I left to get more cleaning supplies. Honestly, who asks their kid to clean out the attic on Halloween?”
Markus eyed my costume skeptically as he asked “He didn’t ask why you were leaving the house with both you and your cat in costume?”
“Nope! I told him that the store was offering a discount to anyone that came in with their costume on!” I smiled at my own cleverness. Amber laughed at my antics before picking up my pet, Roxy, who was not enjoying her pumpkin costume.
Amber asked “How did you manage to put your cat on a leash?” I pulled down the sleeves on my costume to reveal a few scratches that were caused by that demon cat. I should have dressed her as a little devil instead.
“It wasn’t easy, but after a bit of catnip I was able to slip it on. I also snuck a present for you guys out of the attic!” Amber and Markus both looked confused, until I pulled bubble wrap out from the pillowcase I brought to collect candy in. Amber gasped and hugged me tightly in her embrace.
“Thank you Kathy!” I hugged her back and looked up to see Markus’s reaction, only to find his usual neutral expression.
“Thank you Kathy,” He said in his normal monotone voice. It fit well with his grim reaper costume. Amber pulled away from the hug and snatched the bubble wrap fro my grasp.
She shouted “Mine,” before proceeding to pop every bubble on the plastic wrap. Her bouncy and loud personality also went well with her clown costume. She probably dressed like that to freak out Markus since he hates clowns. I smiled before linking my arms with theirs.
“Let’s make this night the best Halloween ever!” I proclaimed before marching down the sidewalk with my friends, and cat, in tow.
“And I thought you were going to visit your mom today?” I questioned. Jeremy visited his mother at St. Jude’s HealthCare Center every Wednesday and Sunday. Melinda was always extremely nice to me, she had never been the type of mother-in-law you would come to despise. We moved her into the nursing home five years ago when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Melinda didn’t remember her son Jeremy, her grandchild Ethan, or me. Although, she did remember her deceased husband Mark. I never knew Mark because he passed away when Jeremy was only seventeen years old. Jeremy and I met when we were nineteen. Jeremy always told me stories about how Melinda and Mark would send each other small, random trinkets by mail because they went to different colleges and that’s how they decided to express their love. It was a miracle that she remembered Mark, but it was only because she believed Jeremy to be him. Every time we visited her she called him Mark. I know it broke Jeremy’s heart for her not to know it was him, but I think he was also happy that she still had some piece of her life left.
One day I had just come home from work and I went out to get the mail. There was a tiny box in there that was from Melinda. When I opened the box a card sat on top and read, “To my lovely Mark. Another token of my love!”. Inside the box, wrapped in bubble wrap, was aceramic pumpkin. That was the day we realized she thought Jeremy was Mark. Another day she sent a stuffed animal cat on a leash, which Ethan loved. He walked it every morning, while we went to get the paper. Each time she sent a trinket, it was addressed to Mark. I eventually had to start hiding them from Jeremy, it got to be too hard for him to bear. It was enough for him to be thought of as his mom’s husband by his own mom, but to receive love notes as well, it was just too much for him.
Melinda is gone now and every Wednesday and Sunday Ethan and I go visit his father at St. Jude’s HealthCare Center bearing gifts because unfortunately for my husband, he has the Alzheimer gene.
And I thought you were the one. All of the times I saw you working at the Pet Shop and you would smile at me and asked if I needed any help. I thought you were the one when I saw you packaging up things in boxes wrapping them with bubble wrap and you would laugh as one of the bubbles popped. I thought you were the one when I watched you pick up Pringles and a Reds Apple Ale at the gas station because those are my favorite chips and my favorite beer. I thought you were the one when I saw you watching Stranger Things through your window because that’s my favorite show. I thought you were the one when you were running outside with your kids and laughing as you all were trying to catch lightning bugs through the night. I thought you were the one when I saw you trying to walk your cat on a leash in the snow because that’s the kind of odd thing I would do. I thought you were the one when you went to Hewbers to pick out a pumpkin for Halloween because I use to go there as a child. I thought you were the one when I saw you driving and singing your favorite song out loud like you were performing a concert. I thought you were the one but you have another man in your life. But I will always wait for you and watch you until you become the one.
Is She Dead?
“And I thought you were a nice person. But I guess not!” cried Angela. “Angie, it’s nothing. And I’m sure Ms. Essie is fine.” Elle defended. “Doubt it!” Michael said sarcastically. The three teens stood in front of a ransacked house on the end of the street. “And on Halloween, it’s like an actual horror movie!” Angela sniffed. “I’m sure it’s just a haunted house or something. It’s probably just a set up.” Elle said, leading the other two away from the house. The front door had been left ajar and the lights had all been turned off. “Do you really think Ms. Essie would have a haunted house? She’s like a hundred. I think an actual crime happened here!” Michael screamed. “Keep it down, Michael! We’re gonna walk away and act like none of this happened!” Elle said, still trying to usher the other two off the front porch. “What if she needs our help? What if she’s dead?” Angela gasped. “Oh for the love of God, Angie, she’s not dead! If we walked in right now, she’d probably still be sitting in there knitting for her cats! But just in case she isn’t, we should just leave!” Elle snapped, shoving at Michael and Angela, who were still fixated on the porch. “You were the one who told us it would be more fun trick or treating at midnight! Now look what we’ve found!” Michael snapped back. “Okay, okay! It’s all my fault! Can we get off this porch for someone sees us?” Elle nervously said. “I didn’t even see her walk her cats tonight on those leashes. She always walks them. Can’t we just go in and make sure she’s okay? Every light in the house is off and Essie never goes anywhere.” Angela pleaded with the tense looking Elle. “Fine, you two can do whatever you want! I’m going home!” Elle stomped off the porch in frustration and walked down the driveway. She called back at them in sarcasm “Well, are you little babies gonna go in?” “We’re working on it!” Michael sassed back. Elle mumbles to herself in anger as she walks down the street. As she about to turn around and make fun of them again, she notices that they are no longer on the porch. “Guys?” She called. She slowly walked back to the house. “Okay really funny guys! Real mature.” She went up to the front porch and peered through the open door into the hallway of Ms Essie’s house. “Ang, Michael! You guys in here?!” She nervously called. “Elle! Come here! Hurry!” Angela wailed. Elle found Angela and Michael in the living room huddled around a body wrapped in bubble wrap. “She’s dead!” Cried Angela. Essie suddenly sprung up and cackled “Stay out, you brats!” The teens screamed and ran out the house. Elle tripped over a pumpkin on the front porch as the teens ran away, never to return again.
“And I thought you were the sun,” Avariella admitted to Nemo. “No one else saw you like I did. You were overlooked by everyone like the smallest pumpkin in a pumpkin patch, but I saw you. I couldn’t stop thinking about you. You consumed my every thought without me even realizing it. When I fell in love with you, I had no idea it was love. I didn’t think I was capable of comprehending what love was. It just happened. Before you, I had a bubble wrapped heart. I did everything I could to keep from having feelings for anyone because I was afraid of getting hurt, but that all changed. Whenever I thought of the moments we had together, my stomach clenched with this overwhelming excitement. Whenever I would think of you too much, I would become so anxious that my breath was taken away from me. Every single time I thought of you, or whenever anyone mentioned you, my heart rate would speed up. All I had to hear was your name, and my mood was ten times better. My most favorite times were when we talked. Spending all hours of the night speaking to you about who knows what… I’’ll never forget those conversations. That was when we bonded the most. You were so easy to talk to, and you made me laugh so effortlessly. You could make a joke, but you could also have a serious conversation if you wanted to. You were nosy, but it was cute. I think what pulled me towards you the most was the way you always had me chasing after you. We’d have this long, sentimental conversation one day, and the next day you wouldn’t text me back. You would act like you liked me one second, and then you’d ignore me the next. It confused me so much, yet it kept me on my toes. The one thing I was truly afraid of was annoying you to the point that you wouldn’t want to talk to me anymore. Sometimes I felt as if you were like a cat on a leash, and I was at the end of that leash trying to tug you back towards me. You were the one guy I liked that didn’t seem to show me enough attention. There were other guys who showed interest in me, but I didn’t care about them because they weren’t you. Nemo, it was you. It has always been you.”
Pumpkin, the Pup
“And I thought you were a cat!” Annie, my owner yells at me as she walks past the left over pieces of my torn up bedding. I am not typically described as a cat to my friends, we consider ourselves alpha coyotes. Ever since I was a little kitten, I have felt my calling as a wolf-dog. Being a cat never tickled my pickle. Annie doesn’t understand me. Even when I bark at her to let me outside, or stare at her when she’s eating dinner, hoping for some leftovers, she doesn’t understand.
Annie huffs as she starts to clean up the mess I made. I decide it’s a good time to evacuate the premises. I walk out of the apartment and jump from the balcony to the ground beneath me, landing on my feet, the most cat-like thing I will ever be able to do. I stroll past old takeout boxes, bubble wrap from packages, and garbage bags in the alley. I spot my fellow canine friends on the corner getting ready for their afternoon walk from Derrick, the dog walker.
“Hey, Pupkin.” He greets me as he puts on my leash. Derrick is a great companion because, unlike Annie, he respects my decision as being a canine. To show my regards for the free walk, I run up to my friends without holding the pack back.
“Hey Roscoe!” I greet my German Shepard friend.
“Hey, Pupkin.” He replies.
“Why is your fur matted, Pupkin?” Candy, a Pomeranian, asks me.
“I tore up my bedding and Annie is really mad.” Derrick stops and ties our leashes to a pole for a hot dog pit stop.
“Your owner is mad at you and you aren’t at home taking the punishment?” Roscoe asks sternly.
“ She doesn’t care about me anyways.”
“Pupkin, Annie loves you, she’s just mad that you’re acting this way. Help her understand what you want.” Candy says.
Annie really is an amazing owner. She buys me tuna that gets my cat feels all tingly. She scratches my head late at night when she’s watching the Netflix show of the month. And when she comes home from lunch she gives me her extra grilled chicken. You can’t beat that.
“You guys are right, I’m going home.” I tell them.
“Good luck, pup.” Roscoe tells me as he takes off my leash with his teeth.
I make it home just in time, as Annie walks through the door with grocery bags. I run up to her and rub my head against her legs.
“Hey, Pumpkin. Get into anything while I was out?” She bends down to my level,
“I got you something,” She smiled as she put a big bone in front of me. My very own dog bone! I bark in response to express my gratitude. Rubbing my head, she responds, “Good boy, Pumpkin.”
“And I thought you were finished packing already!” My sister exclaimed. “We are leaving to go to Florida tomorrow and you still have stuff in your attic! You haven’t even opened the box of bubble wrap I gave you last week!” She climbs the ladder into my attic and nearly falls over from the sight of everything in there. I don’t blame her, I can’t recall the last time that I ever cleaned out my attic.
“What do you see up there?” I call out. “Anything we can sell?” For about a month, my sister and I have been saving up money so that we could both move to Florida to be closer to our family. We did save up enough already, it’s just that having some extra cash wouldn’t hurt anyone.
“Unless you want to try to sell a rotting pumpkin, then yeah, we can totally sell something.” She replies sarcastically as she begins to toss things down to me to pack away. From the looks of the things that I’m getting though, it might be better to just put them in the trash pile which has grown in size since we started to clear my house out. “Why on earth do you have a framed picture of a cat on a leash up here? Who do you know that puts their cat on a leash? And why would you take a picture?” She questions.
“You just have to learn how to live a little, take a leap out of your comfort zone and put a cat on leash sometimes.” I answer with ease. She steps down the latter with a heavy box in her arms and gives me a weird look that seems to say, “How am I even related to you?” She hands me the box and I take it out to her car, readying myself for whatever comes next.
The next day, the two of us shove the last box into her car and slam the trunk door down. I take a final look at my house, where I lived for a good five years of my life. Lots of strange stories have been made and told inside those rooms, but I suppose it’s time to start a new chapter in my life.
“Are you ready to go?” My sister asks me. I simply nod, ready to see what happens next.
Almost Insane Agatha
“And I thought you were stalking me!” I exclaimed with a sigh of relief.
“Oh heavens no! I was merely following you from a distance,” giggled my crazy neighbor Agatha. All week I had noticed her popping up at the same places as me, following me into stores, and keeping an extremely uncomfortable gaze on me from her porch. It all started when I was walking out of an antique shop carrying the newest piece for my glass menagerie. As I turned the corner, Agatha bumped into me knocking me and my precious glass pumpkin to the ground.
“Oh my, someone sure is eager to finish their walk,” Agatha remarked as she dragged her cat on a leash across the sidewalk. My newest prized possession had been destroyed and the only thing she was worried about was a cat on a leash!
Agatha was the neighbor that we all tried to avoid. A real crazy cat lady type person. Everyday she would groom, dress, and walk her cat, Romeo Maccabee III. Talk about a sight for sore eyes. The duo appeared everyday with matching sweaters. Romeo even wore booties on his feet because Agatha was worried about his “sensitive paws.” Meanwhile, the only thing I was worried about was keeping Agatha away from me.
At first I tried being nice. I would smile and wave whenever I saw her. I would engage in small talk. I did all of the polite things I could think of hoping she would leave me alone, but it wasn’t working. She was everywhere. When I went to the grocery store. BOOM, Agatha. When I went to get my mail. BOOM, Agatha. Everywhere I turned there was Agatha. It was maddening. The next time I saw her she was following me around Target. I quickly hastened my pace and weaved in and out of the aisles. I was determined to lose her. With Agatha out of my sight I headed to the bathroom to take care of some business. Sitting in the bathroom stall I finally felt at peace, that is until I noticed Agatha’s cat-decorated Sketchers in the stall next to me.
“Agatha, are you kidding me!” I exclaimed as I quickly hurried out of the stall. “This is outrageous. You can’t follow someone into the bathroom!” Agatha slowly opened the bathroom stall and walked out with a bashful look on her face.
“I’m sorry, I really am. It’s just that I felt so bad for breaking your glass pumpkin that I bought you a new one. I just wanted to give it to you at a good time and make sure you didn’t buy another one,” she said as she pulled out a box and handed it to me. Inside the box was a new glass pumpkin carefully encased in bubble wrap. I guess Agatha wasn’t that bad of a neighbor after all.
“And I thought you were dead,” I thought, watching the old woman emerge from her house. The blackened house emitted a gloom like no other. The shingles were hardened by the weather and had been decomposing for years. Leaves collected in the gutter, while poisonous ivies thrived upon the walls. The door creaked open as she peaked her head outside. The wind caught her grey hair as it blew over and around her face, hindering me from looking at her face. Come to think of it, I don’t recall that anyone has ever seen her face.
She hadn’t been outside of her house in weeks. I wondered what went on behind those closed doors. All I saw was loneliness. Here she was again, walking Nixon. I was unsure of his real name, but that was what we called him. The black cat was plastered to her side at all times. She cared more for Nixon than anything on Earth—including herself. She placed Nixon down, handling the leash.
“Ms. Grunfield!” I pushed open the gate, running across her lawn. She ignored me. I shook her shoulder. She whirled around, looking stunned. “I apologize I didn’t mean to scare you” I assured. No answer. Then I realized, she was deaf and mute. I took pity on her.
She nodded opening the crimson door. Into the mysterious house I walked. I could hear the door shutting…and locking? She was holding Nixon again. She reached for the glass cloche, which sat upon a table, revealing magnificent looking pastries. She grabbed the appealing sweet, placing it within my hand.
“What’s this?” I asked. She grabbed a notepad and pen.
“It’s an apple streusel muffin” she wrote.
“It sounds lovely” I told her. I broke a piece off, tasting the sweetness of the apple. Then I tasted the familiar, sweet-savory spice. Looking towards where I had bitten, I could see the orange flesh. Pumpkin. I could feel myself becoming hot. I grabbed my throat. I couldn’t breathe. My lips began to swell. I fell onto the floor, slowly crawling away. I had no more strength to move forward. I could see Nixon out of the corner of my eye. He stood still, almost too still. He never flinched nor breathed. His eyes remained open. My eyes looked toward the old woman. Her head was perched on top of her hand. She rested it there while she watched me. I exhaled my last breath, looking into those cold blue eyes.
The old woman taxidermized me. She would drag me around the house wherever she went. She enclosed me in bubble wrap so I wouldn’t break. I would sit at the table with her while she would eat. She would entertain me, pretending to water her dead plants. She would brush my hair when she became bored. And when the night came, she would fixate my arm around Nixon, keeping his cold, hard body company. Company. Ms. Grunfield didn’t need company. She had Nixon and me.
No Leash For Me
“And I thought you were going to like the pillow idea,” Miss. Waylon said to her orange haired cat, Pumpkin. For almost a week she has been trying to walk her cat, but every time she takes him outside he starts to flip around and hurt himself. To avoid injuries, she keeps putting different costumes and items on Pumpkin, but none have worked. Most recently she attached small pillows to him, but when they went outside, he still continued to jump and flop around. It was time for his afternoon walk and when she went to grab the leash, he made a dash for the back room, but she caught him before he got away.
“Not so fast little man. You’re going to love today’s protection idea,” she said cheerfully as she pulls it out from behind her back. “It’s a bubble wrap costume! I made it myself, it has little holes to put your little paws and cute face through!”
She struggled to put it on his twisting body, but she finally got it on him and headed for the door. Before they even reached outside, he began squirm about in attempt to get out of his collar and the bubble wrap.
“Come on Pumpkin, just give it a chance,” she pled as she picked him up and walked out the door. “See, it’s not so bad.”
Once she set him down, he froze for a slight moment while he frantically looked straight ahead. He seemed calm until a small lizard made it’s way across the cat’s path, causing him to flip around like a fish out of water. He managed to scramble his way out of his collar and made a dash for the door, going as fast as the wrap would allow him. His face collided with the closed glass door, causing Miss. Waylon to cry out in worry.
“Pumpkin!” She shrieked as she ran over to pick up her cat before walking inside. “No worries, momma’s got you.”
Once she took off the collar and the bubble wrap, he ran to back room, the farthest place away from the door. When she walked back to get him, she found him watching squirrels through the window.
“You’re always staring out that window, but whenever I try to take you out there, you freak out. It’s like right when I put on your leash…” she stopped talking as a thought popped into her head. She picked up Pumpkin and without any protection gear or a leash, she opened the back door. Pumpkin was hesitant at first, but then began to run around and chase small creatures.
“Run Pumpkin,” she said watching him, “Run.”
And I thought you were never going to show up, but you proved me wrong. Let’s hurry before I miss the flight. It’s finally time to see the world, I’m ready, New York City here I come. The flight wasn’t so bad for it being my first time flying, I thought I was going to have to wrap myself in bubble wrap to keep myself from being so scared of crashing or brushed up when turbulence would hit. For some reason coffee in the sky is much better then on the ground, More of the coffee landed on my writing book then it did in my mouth. I wander what it is like to be a flight attendant, getting to travel while being paid sounds exciting. As I looked out my window I could see New York City miles ahead.
I couldn’t wait to step foot in to the city that never sleeps. As I waited impatiently for my bag in the airport I couldn’t stop thinking of every bit of fun I am going to have. I grabbed my bag got into my first taxi and headed to my hotel. I found myself in Central Park, It was bigger than I had imaged. I never knew it was so big I always thought you could stand at one end and see all the way to the other end, but nope. The craziest thing happened to me in Central Park, I saw a girl walking a cat on a leash. Who does that, I guess the people in this city do. I walked for miles as I saw things I never though I could see in this life time.
The Statue of Liberty is humongous, I never knew it was so big. I always assumed it was big enough for people to go to the top but I never knew it was that massive. As I dreaded the day I would have to leave the moment I arrived, I took every bit of sight in that I could. From the crazy New Yorkers running around without a care in the world to the people that would hand you their mixtape on the side of the street, once you grabbed it they would pull you in and say oh that will be 6 bucks, then why the heck are you acting like you are handing them out for free. To add on to random people passing out things there was always a bunch of people handing out flyers for the New York City pumpkin patch Festival, that was about the only thing that I was handed and I actually attended. It was quite a thrill, sadly my time with this big city will come to an end in the morning, but not to worry I will see it soon again.
The Life of Andy
“’And I thought you were crazy.’ Those were some of the first words Andy ever said to me. I mean, I was wearing a top hat and carrying a pumpkin around just a few days before Christmas. But it was a dare that my friends gave me. I was supposed to go into Dallies Market and see if I could get someone to take the pumpkin. Random, I know. Anyways, I was walking around the market when all of a sudden I spot this beautiful girl and all I thought was ‘you have to go up to her and ask her.’ First impressions are everything, right? So I went up to her and she actually accepted the pumpkin and walked around the store with it in her hands. I waited a little until I went up to her again, explained the dare, and slyly asked for her number. That was when I heard her voice and her words telling me she thought I was crazy. Everything about her blew me away.
That was almost three years ago. Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago and I decided I was going to take her away from her little white room and go on an adventure. At that point, time was precious to us both. I was somehow able to sneak her out. How, you may ask? Well according to Andy, it was my magnificent ninja skills and I guess she was right. Let me tell you, she looked beautiful that day. She had on a new shirt from her favorite band “Cat on a Leash.” Who names their band that? She loved them though so I didn’t say anything. They did sing our song so I guess I could let it pass. She also had on these worn out jeans and converse. Her scarf matched her shoes.
We went to the pier and spent the day riding the small coasters and playing the arcade games there. That night, I took her to the beach and we had dinner. Right before we left, I went to my car and grabbed a box that was wrapped in bubble wrap. Can you guess what was in that box? Yes, it was a ring. I wanted to promise her my love before she went. Although we didn’t get married, I believe that this ring was enough for her. I wanted her to know that I was there for her before she was diagnosed with cancer, all during it, and even after she passed away. And now that she has, I cannot thank God enough for the time I was able to spend with her. Andy was such a beautiful soul and even though she is gone, she still shows herself through the little things in my life and our love for each other is still here. Thank you all for being apart of her life in some way and coming to her funeral. I know she’s up there smiling down at us.”
“And I thought you were Muffins,” the boy said to the pumpkin. The pumpkin smiled at him and the cat meowed, trying to get the leash from around its neck.
“Oh it’s okay, Clouds. I’ll try to get it off soon,” he said to the cat. The cat meowed contentedly and curled up on the floor. Under it’s body, the bubble wrap popped and the boy and his pumpkin smiled at the sound. They’d come to love the sound of bubble wrap being popped.
“I wish I had some candy, Muffins. They only give me some every now and then,” he said. Muffins didn’t reply, but only smiled. Clouds purred at the sound of his voice.
The boy absentmindedly reached down to get more bubble wrap and pop it. He giggled and kept popping. Eventually, he grabbed a small roll of it and began wrapping it around Muffins, who smiled more at the new wrap.
“You look lovely, Muffins,” he said. Muffins modeled her new dress, spinning around.
“As for you, Clouds, I’ll get that leash off for you. I know you hate it,” the boy said. He grabbed Clouds and began to try to remove the leash, but to no avail. Clouds pouted and ran off with her own leash. She curled back up into her previous place, popping more bubble wrap under her.
“I’m sorry, Clouds. I thought today would be the day I could get it,” he said. He frowned and played with more bubble wrap to try to distract himself.
He closed his eyes and put his head on a small wad of bubble wrap. “I wonder when they’ll bring my happy pills back. I don’t feel happy,” he said. His fingers tapped over the bubble wrap. The bubble pops no longer gave him the twinge of happiness it had a few minutes ago. He just stared at it, watching the plastic crunch under his fingers.
Outside the door, the nurses stood. One was just coming in to train, and she had a lot of questions about the patients since her trainer would be leaving in a week.
“So, as I was saying, every four hours you’ll have to give him his medicine. He’ll be really excited about you being there and he’ll ask you to stay. The pumpkin is named Muffins and the cat is Clouds,” the trainer said. She smiled at the boy, who couldn’t see either of them. He loved the inanimate objects.
“Do I go in this time or will you? Or do we go together?” The new nurse asked.
“I’ll have you watch me this time. I don’t know how he’ll respond to others,” she said. She opened the door and went in, and the new nurse watched as the boy sprang up and his face lit up with excitement. He took the pills happily and hugged the nurse, offering her to join him and his two friends.
“And I thought you were getting better, mom.” Mary sighed, hopelessly.
“I have no idea what you mean.”
“You’re walking our cat on a leash!” Mary exclaimed.
“He likes it, don’t you Boris?” The mother cooed.
Boris emitted a low growl from the back of his throat as he lay flat on the ground, refusing to move. The mother kneeled down on the concrete, stroking Boris. A smile danced on her lips as the old cat began to hiss and scratch at her face.
“Mom, stop it!” Mary screamed, horrified at the droplets of blood sprouting from the cuts on her mother’s fair skin.
The mother stood up suddenly, a piercing, dangerous look glimmering in her eyes.
“You will never speak to me in that tone!” She yelled, stepping closer to Mary.
“Oh no, not again. Mom, you have to find yourself. This is not who you are!”
The mother kicked an unsuspecting Boris, sending him flying through the air. Boris landed roughly on the cold, unforgiving pavement. The cat sent an annoyed scowl towards the mother and began to stalk away.
“Mom, stop it, please!” Mary gasped, picking up the discarded leash from the ground.
“Stop what, honey?” The mother asked.
Mary’s mind boggled at the sudden shift in her mother’s mood, but decided not to waste her breath trying to question it. She looked back at her mother, noticing her tender fingers touch the dried blood coating her cheeks.
“Oh, that silly cat!” Her mother laughed. “I’m going to put bubble wrap on so the wounds will heal quicker. Do be a dear and go fetch Boris for me, we don’t want him to get hurt, right?”
“But mom-” Mary started, but realized her mother had already left.
She quickly located Boris hiding underneath a small shrub in the backyard. Opening the back door to their house, she picked up the bag of cat food and proceeded back outside. Enticing Boris with the shaking of the cat food, Mary quickly shut the old cat back inside. Mary gave an annoyed sigh and walked down the hall to talk to her mother.
“Mom! Where are you?” Mary called out to the silent home.
Suddenly, she heard the sound of a blade coming into contact with a cutting board. Confused, Mary walked into the kitchen to see her mother hovering over the counter.
“Mom? What are you doing?” Mary asked.
“I’m making a sandwich.”
“Ok, but why is there a pumpkin?”
“You know I like sliced pumpkin, Mary.”
“Mom, I need to talk to you about something.”
“Can it wait, honey?”
“No, it can’t. This has gone on for too long, mom, you need help. I’ve tried my best to care for you, but your condition has gotten worse and I can’t be here all the time.”
“And I thought you were wanting to get adopted” my foster care advisor Joey asked.
“I don’t even care anymore” I added annoyed.
“Sam you’re running out of options you’re already 15” he said frantically.
”Fine they can adopt me I’m sure their better than the stupid smith’s that are watching us now” I said in a mocking tone.
“Grab you’re stuff and pack it up were leaving soon” he said angrily. He handed me two garbage bags to put our stuff in. I grabbed the six pairs of clothing I had, and packed my brother Timmy’s stuff. Which consisted of ten items of clothing and of course his stupid roll of bubble wrap. Our foster parents never gave us any toys so the only thing Timmy kept to play with was his bubble wrap. Timmy was sleeping in our bedroom we shared so I woke him up and told him we finally got adopted. Of course because Timmy is six he got all excited and started jumping up and down. “Yes! Finally I get a mommy and daddy!” He screamed, I handed him his trash-bag.
“You have my bubbles right!” Timmy asked.
“Yes of course” I said annoyed. Joey shoved us out of the foster house and into the car.
Me and Timmy both fell asleep for about an hour when Joey woke us up and told us we we’re almost there. When I looked outside I saw the most beautiful green hills each house having six acres in between them. The houses looked brand new and shined brightly in the sunlight. Timmy and I exchanged excited glances we’ve never had a Yard before. While driving through the neighborhood Timmy spotted a cat on a leash. “Joey cats wear leashes too?” Timmy asked.
“Only crazy rich people walk cats on leashes” Joey categorizes. We pulled into the driveway of the biggest house I’ve ever seen and got out of the car. “Sam and Timmy welcome to you’re new home” Joey said with a smile. As We walked up the driveway Timmy saw a pumpkin. He’s obsessed with pumpkins because his favorite color is orange. But he’s never even touched one let alone seen one carved. A woman with long blond hair with a bright smile and large muscular man with brunette hair came to greet us. “Welcome were so excited to meet you! The woman said.
“Sam, Timmy meet the Green’s.” Joey said.
“What do you guys have there?” Mrs. Green asked pointing to the garbage bags.
“It’s our stuff.” I addressed “why are you’re things in garbage bags?” Mrs. Green asked.
“It’s all the system can afford for moving transportation” Joey said disappointedly.
“Well we will have to buy suitcases for the both of you when we go on our family vacations” She said excitingly. It was that moment on that porch I now call home that I realized what it means to have a family.
And I thought you were sane. I must admit, the way you conned me into believing your facade of falsehood was a clever feat indeed. You presented yourself in such an effortless manner that I played right into your twisted hands, not once second guessing your motives. I had even considered you a friend.
Now, as I stare out into the sterile and desolate hallway of the psychiatric ward of the hospital, I can’t help but feel trapped by your insolence. It was your mimicked charm and charisma that enticed me, that took my guard down and turned it into something heedless. It also was your pretend smile and your fabricated movements that landed me in this prison cell furnished with nothing but a table and chair so carefully wrapped in bubble wrap. The best part is, nobody knows it was you.
You took my face, my name, even my mannerisms, but I still have the one aspect you lack – my mind. It is the one place that you could not fully access, and yet you still managed to fool them. It’s incredible, the way you tap your foot in the same way I do, and the way you tuck your hair behind your ear so diligently. What may be even more concerning is the way you fooled me. I wanted so desperately to believe that I was imagining your slow accumulation of who I was, but you became my mirror image. You became me.
Now I’m surrounded by nurses with concern and pity as their only accompaniment.
Therapists show me ink blots in attempt to pick at my mind, but I continually disappoint them when I tell them that all I see is a cat on a leash. This is what you’ve done to me; you’ve forced me to question my own sanity at the cost of my freedom. I’m under lock and key, while everyone else roams freely in the world beyond these walls. They enjoy supper with their families and can breathe in the fresh air of the place I once called home, but because of you I spiraled into what I now see as beautiful chaos.
It’s not the kind of insanity where you witness a carved pumpkin speaking to you, it’s the kind of insanity where you don’t even recognize yourself in your own skin. Mirrors become your worst enemy because you are terrified of what you might see, yourself or the one impersonating you. The elements of your being become obliterated by the confusion, but no longer. This place with its empty walls has served as a platform for self-realization and reevaluation of all you have taken from me. I have gradually found myself again and have noted my sense of originality that I initially lacked. I have rediscovered my light thanks to you. So, thank you. Thank you for pushing me to be me, and for helping me to find this space of such beautiful chaos.
“And I thought you were coming with me!” I shouted at my boyfriend Jeremy. “Ever since I started this idea about going four-hundred miles away to college, you always said you’d be with me every step of the way. News-flash! A big and very important step is for to get in my car and come with me!” I can tell by the way he is looking at me that he isn’t going to change his mind about coming with me.
“Look, sweetie, this is where our story ends. And you can’t say I haven’t been with you every step of the way because I wouldn’t be standing here if I didn’t support you. I’m just cut out for the college life, I didn’t even apply to that school. I knew I wouldn’t get in, so why waste my time trying.” He looked like he was Ahmed to admit this to me, but I wasn’t letting him off the hook so easily.
“So the past two and half years, you knew you weren’t going to college and you would just let me leave you here? I distinctly remember when we had my family’s annual pumpkin carving contest you told me what you wanted to major in and how you planned to make that a career. I think becoming a sportscaster would be perfect for you.” Jeremy once told me he wanted to work for ESPN and I wanted to be a veterinarian, so I could work anywhere he was located.
“Look, babe, I had a dream last night about your vet shop. I could see all of those cats on leashes just waiting to get back there and see you. I knew then what I had to do, I had to let you go and become the best vet you can be. Here I got you this as a going away present.” He handed me a box, inside was something wrapped with lots and lots of bubble wrap. Jeremy knows how much I love to pop the bubbles. I couldn’t believe what he had gotten me, it was a picture of me and him in our very first date.
“Jeremy, this is the sweetest and most thoughtful gift I have ever gotten. You are the best boyfriend ever!” I started to tear up, Jeremy noticed and kissed me.
“I wanted you to have this picture of us, so everyone knows what a killer, hot boyfriend you have back home.” He laughed and opened my car door. I got in, started the car, and gave Jeremy our last kiss until Thanksgiving. As I drive off, I realized I couldn’t wait for Thanksgiving!
“And I though you were normal!” The dog exclaimed, his expression showcasing both anger and disbelief, though it was difficult to tell which there was more of. His paws were balled into little fists that rested at his sides.
“I’m a human-sized cat, you moron. I’m the exact opposite of normal.” Sprinkles, or Gregory, replied, rolling his amber coloured eyes and letting out a low scoff. “And I don’t want you telling anyone about this. It needs to stay a secret. Got it?”
The Doberman Pinscher let out a huff, reluctantly agreeing in a less-than-enthusiastic manner.
“Fine. I’ll keep it a secret. But I got one condition.”
“And what is that, mutt?”
The dog growled, lips curling into a snarl, revealing sharp, white teeth.
“Make that two conditions. One, don’t you ever call me mutt. And two, you gotta keep my secret. Deal?”
Sprinkles distractedly fiddled with his red leash, lightly scratching at it with one single claw before looking up at Dinky, as if he hadn’t heard a word.
“What was that?” He asked innocently, trying to resist the urge to smirk at the infuriated dog in front of him.
“You heard me.” Dinky growled.
Sprinkles only nodded and walked away, trying to get his leash to look like a tie so he could go to work without worrying about it. His work day was uneventful, full of carefully filing paperwork and taking calls. So he was more than glad to get home, instantly heading to his bed and grabbing his pumpkin-shaped cat toy to scratch it. As Sprinkles played with it, he absentmindedly thought about the Doberman Pinscher named Dinky who threatened to reveal that he was a cat. There was no way he could let that happen. He’d lose his job and his house and everything he’d worked so hard to keep.
With a little huff, he pushed himself out of bed and made his way to the kitchen, accidentally stepping on a sheet of bubblewrap that had spilled from a package he had received days prior. Instantly, the idea of food was long forgotten, all in favour of popping the sheet of bubblewrap with his paws.
Eventually, he did regain focus and finished the day’s plans, which consisted of eating and sleeping. And when he woke up the next day and went to work, he found that Dinky the Doberman Pinscher hadn’t kept his promise, and for that, he feared the worst.
Upon arriving at his workplace, Sprinkles found that there wasn’t a soul who cared that he was a cat. In fact, most all of the staff thought it was pretty cool.
Seems that Sprinkles didn’t have a reason to worry after all.
Bailey Be., Maria B., Emily S., Bailey Ba., Kore S.
The image above
The line “So you want to live in a tree — right?” (Anywhere in the text)
A malicious lie
“So you want to live in a tree—right? Because that’s where we will end up if you don’t get your act together.”
“Hun, please don’t yell at me. My head hurts.”
“Your head hurts? My head hurts from working all day and coming home to see that my husband has no job and does nothing! Not even picked up the house,” Val yelled, infuriated.
“I’ve been going to the doctor, dear. Its not good news.”
The crease in Val’s forehead softened as she took a seat on the couch next to her husband.
“Whats wrong?” She asked, hoping it wouldn’t be too serious.
“Its terminal, Val. They say I have months…” he trailed off, glancing at her solemn face. Suddenly, she burst into tears, “What? What is it? I can’t lose you…W-we haven’t even started our lives yet! We need to go to the hospital.”
“It’s…er…cancer…in this area.” Carlos said, pointing to his stomach and then dragging his plump finger to his back while Val made a confused face, “And there’s no use going to a hospital. They’ve sent me home so I can live out my months with you.”
“What? I’d rather you get better in the hospital! Don’t you have medicine?” Val leapt up grabbing her purse, “What about chemo-therapy? Isn’t that whats it called? What are we going to do?”
“They gave me my medicine! Now quit fussin’, it’s making my head hurt.”
“I’m sorry this is just so sudden. Have you told your parents? You’ve kept this from me. I-I want to have children someday. What am I going to do?” Val broke into another round of vicious sobs. Carlos grabbed his wife and hugged her, whispering, “I know.”
Val jumped up and straightened herself out, “I’m being so selfish! Imagine what you’re going through. I’ll tell you what, I’ll make your favorite meal. The vegan lasagna with a side of salad and the mashed potatoes you really like. Then, we can straighten this out, together.”
Furiously wiping her tears, Val ran hastily into kitchen. Carlos waited until Val was busying herself in the kitchen and, then, smirked. Rolling over, he grabbed the remote laying on the cheesy coasters Val had bought with pictures of a young girl with bubble-gum on her face. “I waist money?” Carlos thought, “You waist money buying stupid stuff like that.”
She took a bite of her lasagna, her mouth curling in disgust.
“Is there meat in this?” She exclaimed glaring directly across the table at me, spitting her lasagna back on her plate.
“I don’t know. You ordered it.” I said with a sigh. The waiter was glancing back and forth at us as she refilled our waters.
“You disgust me, you know I’m a vegan.” She turned to our waiter. “He’s an imbecile, you’ll have to excuse him. Bring me the vegan lasagna ASAP.”
The waiter nodded her head and hurried away, thankful to get way from the table. I stirred my noodles absentmindedly, not hungry enough to eat. If you couldn’t tell, I hated my wife. And frankly, she hated me too. We were both Catholics and divorce wasn’t exactly an option, so we had been ‘trying to work it out’. Needless to say, it wasn’t going well. I peered into the kitchen to see the waiter talking to the chef, pointing at out table. The chef looked out and made eye contact with me, letting out a mischievous smile. He handed our waiter a plate and sent her on our way to us. As our waiter set the table in front of me she slid me a note. It read, Use it wisely. I looked up, confused, but she was already gone. My wife took a bite of her lasagna and I waited for her to find another reason to complain.
“So…work. How was it?” She asked.
“Oh you know, the usual. Six of my coworkers died.” I said sarcastically.
“Really?!” She exclaimed, leaning forward, enthralled.
“No? I’m obviously joking. You’re crazy.”
“You’re right. I am.” She stated. I looked around hesitantly. I saw a random picture of a girl with a popped gum bubble on her face. I pointed to it on the wall.
“This is me when I was 6.” I said.
“Wow!” She exclaimed, “You were really cute!” What was going on? She’s believing every lie I say. It’s not like they were malicious or anything, but still.
“So you want to live in a tree — right?” I asked, praying she would say yes.
“Of course! I’ve been thinking about moving into that big one in the woods behind our house.”
“And you want to live there forever and never move back into our house — right?”
“Yup that’s right!” She smiled. Now I smiled. Looks like I won’t have to deal with my wife anymore.
Does Your Mind Ever Turn Off?
I looked down at Ben who was lying next to me in the grass with his eyes closed. I was admiring his meditative state, however my thoughts raced. “Twenty-two”, I sighed
He opened one eye and scrunched his face, making sure that I knew that he was irritated that I pulled him out of his trance. “What”?
His response didn’t give me any indication that he cared about what I was going to say, but it didn’t matter because I was going to tell him anyway. “In the past ten minutes that we’ve been lying here, I’ve counted twenty-two people who have been on their phones ignoring this beautiful day”! Ben smiled and sarcastically asked, “Does your brain ever turn off, Livy”?
“Not really”. I answered without hesitation. He closed his eyes and went back into his trance with an ease that I will never be able to understand while my mind wondered with an ease I was more familiar with.
There was rarely a pattern to my stream of thought. My schedule for the week, assigning a gender to each letter of the alphabet, my mom’s vegan lasagna recipe. However, there was a definite pattern in what thoughts I most often expressed.
“Ben”? I asked. He simply grunted to indicate that he heard me, eyes still closed. “Society.” I stated. His eyes slowly opened and I took that as an invitation to continue. “It changes people”! He then turned his head to look at me and blinked slowly. That meant continue. “Imagine this in your head. A little girl in a cute dress with curly hair, not a care in the world, the picture of innocence. Then she changes”. Ben patted the grass next to him, telling me to lie there, so I did.
I looked straight in his eyes. His face softened and he grabbed my hand. “I remember when I was eleven”, I continued in a quieter tone, “My family and I were driving home from somewhere, I am not exactly sure where. The highway was lined with bill boards that read God is Real! orLargest Toaster in America or So You Want to Live in a Tree, Right?” He Laughed and told me to keep going.
“Well I remember one bill board for a tanning salon that displayed an image of a woman”. I paused and my eyes changed their focus from his eyes to a space behind him. “She was half naked. I thought about my own body and knew I could never look like that. Beautiful. Why do girls have to feel that way”? My eyes met his again and their glow left me satisfied even without a spoken answer to my question. That glow would forever remain unchanged.
My mind wondered again without pattern. What color matches my personality, who was the eighteenth president, twenty- three, twenty four, twenty five. “Livy”? Ben began. “I love you”. I smiled and moved my head over to his shoulder and whispered in his ear. “Twenty- five people now”.
“So you want to live in a tree….Right?” said Jeffery
“yes, I’m a vegan so I like living in nature.” Said Karen
“how does that have to do anything with being a vegan?”
“it just does, leave it alone jeffery”
Right now Karen is coming over to eat dinner at my house tonight. She is this overpowering vegan, so I plan to make her this deluxe vegan lasagna. I met Karen at a vegan convention, it’s weird I know. What’s a vegan convention you ask? It just like your normal comic con but its all vegans sharing homemade recipes and other vegan stuff. I was showing off one of my homemade dinners and we starting talking and the rest was history.
The house was filled with the aroma of the lasagna. I never had an emotions toward anyone, but Karen was different. She made me feel special and loved. I knew I could never be with her because if she knew my secret she would leave me in the dust. I have thought over and over again if tonight is the night I am going to tell her the truth about how I feel and about my secret. Karen got here shortly after dinner was ready.
“Jeff, why do you have a random picture of a little girl on your mantle?”
“It’s one of my victims…. I’m just kidding it’s my sister when she was little.”
We sat down and ate everything.. She fell in love with the lasagna so much she wanted the recipe, but my secret revolved around it. If she knew what was in it, she would die.
“I can’t give you the recipe,” I said.
“Why? Is it like some secret family recipe?”
“No, but you don’t want to know what’s in it…” Jeffery glanced down nervously
“ Just tell me. It can’t be that bad.”
“Okay… you remember that picture of my ‘sister’ on the mantle?”
“It wasn’t her; it was really one of my victims. The ingredient that makes the lasagna so good is a little girl named Becky.”
“Gertrude is happy here!” Amanda yells at her parents. Amanda’s parents released the news today that Gertrude couldn’t stay with them anymore. She runs upstairs and throws herself on Gertrude’s bed while she sheds a few tears.
“So you want to live in a tree — right?” Amanda asks Gertrude.
“That’s what Mommy and Daddy said. They said that three-toed sloths like you belong in trees, not bedrooms,” says Amanda, “Well we’ll just have to build you a homemade tree right here.”
The following day Amanda comes home from after school care, and can’t find Gertrude. She’s not in her bed downstairs or her room. Amanda gets called to dinner before she can finish her search.
“Why aren’t you touching your food, sweetie?” Amanda’s mom ask.
“Gertrude isn’t in her bed in the living room or my room. Did you already get rid of her?! She was my best friend!” Amanda shouts.
“That’s Gertrude you’re eating there. We used her for dinner,” Amanda’s older brother tells her.
“Brett! Why would you say such a thing? Amanda, sweetie, that’s not the truth. This lasagna is vegan. That means there are no animal products,” her mom explains, “Daddy took Gertrude to the vet after work today to get her shots. She’s fine. Promise.”
Amanda sucks up her tears, and as soon as she’s done with dinner she sits in the living room waiting for Daddy and Gertrude to come home. The second they walk in the door Amanda takes Gertrude upstairs to her bed. Amanda then takes the duct tape from Brett’s room, finds green construction paper and scraps of fabric in the basement, and old card board boxes from her mom’s work. With these supplies, scissors, and a little creativity Amanda gets to work.
“Mommy! Daddy! Come see what I did!” Amanda yells to her sleeping parents the following morning. They follow her down the hall to her room to find Gertrude hanging from what looks like a makeshift tree.
“You said Gertrude wanted to live in a tree, so I built her one right here in my room,” Amanda explains. Her parents just stand there wide-eyed for a minute while she stands there smacking her gum. She blows a bubble with her gum, but then it pops on her face. Amanda begins to giggle and can’t stop.
“Lord help us. She’s only eight,” Amanda’s dad says.
So I Didn’t Kill Her?
“She won’t talk” I hear them say out in the hall. “It’s no use, I think we need to send her to another care facility.” I hear them say again. I lay on my side on the hard hospital bed. The tears run down to my lips. It was a typical Thursday night at my brothers house, he fed me vegan lasagna, my favorite. He ranted about his life, and I starred at my sister Maura’s picture that he keeps on the table. She looked so cute in her school clothes, always chewing gum and acting silly. That’s when I got in the “trance” the doctor said. I started yelling “I killed her” nonstop, running around, sobbing. Then I stopped responding and I guess I blacked out because I don’t remember the rest. So now i’m in another hospital, that probably won’t help me.
I hear a knock at the door and it pushes open. “It’s me, Dr. Persons.” She says as she brings in her portable chair with all her documents. “Evie, I’m not so thrilled to see you back here.” She pauses and sits down. “But, we will get you the help you need, if that means more therapy, medication, or long term care..etc. But, in order to help you, we need you to corporate with us.” She says. I wipe my face and sit up, wrapping all the blankets around me. “What triggered you last night? We sit there in silence for a few minutes, starring at each other. She shuffles through my file, points at something and squints at me. “You want to live in a tree..right?” She says.
My stomach tightens at those words. “You know that’s the last words I said to her!” I snap. “If you want me to get better you can’t keep reminding me of that!” I yell.
“So that’s a trigger” she scribbles something down. “We need to figure out why that upsets you so much and why you keep coming back here.” She clears her throat. “Your brother told me that you were screaming that you killed her?”
“Yeah” I say.
“How?” She asks.
“I just remember driving fast and running off the road. I was distracted, I had a lot on my mind and I didn’t even check to see if she had her seat belt on..” I say crying.
“Evie, i’m not talking about the accident you were in.” She says.
“What?” I say sounding very confused.
“Maura had cancer sweetie.” She says softly. I look at her with a confused look. “You were with her when she died, but you didn’t kill her.”
“Why do I keep thinking I did? Because I don’t remember her having cancer.” I reply.
“You were in the car accident, you had some brain trauma and memory loss. It is normal for your brain to block out certain memories. Your memory was playing a malicious lie on you Evie. But it is very important that you know that Maura died of cancer 2 years ago.” she explains.
“So do you want to live in a tree – right?” Joseph asked. “Maybe one day, if I ever make it to the jungle in Hawaii.” Sarah replied as she was walking into the woods with him. They walked for a while. A shadow fell over them, they looked after they realized that the warm sun was no longer on our backs. “What is- oh, it’s a treehouse.” Sarah pointed out once they found a rope ladder leading up to a hole in the floorboards. They climbed up and did not see anything so they decided that they would eat their lunch that they had packed originally for their picnic. They pulled out a vegan lasagna that Sarah’s grandmother had made. As soon as they took a bite, they spit it out, gagging. “That is not vegan. That lasagna has cat meat in it.” Sarah spluttered out. Joseph responded “Sarah, that’s the third time this month that your grandmother has done this. She is a malicious liar, we need to stop taking food from her.” Joseph picked up the container and threw it out the window. There was something that floated around on the floor when Joseph got up and it caught Sarah’s eye. She scooted over to where it was and looked at it. It was a picture of a girl against a corner wall with her hands up in the air midway, with bubblegum stuff all over her mouth, cheeks and nose due to the bubblegum popping. Joseph was still spitting out the food when he turned to see Sarah looking intently at the photograph. He went behind her and rested his chin on her shoulder, looking at the photo. “Want to hear a fun fact?” Sarah asked. Joseph nodded into her shoulder. “This used to be my treehouse and this photo is a picture of my mother.” Sarah spoke quietly. He hugged her, and they got their stuff together. They climbed down the rope ladder and hoisted their backpacks up onto their back, they began to walk towards civilization. Sarah paused for a moment, looked back at the path they had just come off of, she had a small smile on her face. She turned away for the last time and caught up with her fiancee.
The Curse of the Baby Girl
A man, named David, and his wife, named Barb, were expecting a baby. David and Barb prayed every day that God would bless them with a baby boy.
“All I want in life is a baby boy. We’ve been dreaming of all the things a baby would entail. I can’t wait to teach him how to play sports and buy him tuxedos and shower him with love.” Barb unintentionally said out loud as she daydreamed. There were signs too, that strengthened the couple’s belief that they were pregnant with a boy.
David explained, “The way she is carrying the child along with other signs, makes me very hopeful the gender of our first child will be male.”
Finally Barb went into labor. To their surprise, it was a girl. They were both devastated. Barb and David needed to figure out how to punish the girl. They did not want a girl and did not know how to parent one. The next day Barb began telling her husband of a plan she had cultivated to get revenge on their daughter, Tammy.
“Okay, so I was thinking..” she began.
David had zoned in and out during this conversation and eventually interrupted her saying, “so you want to live in a tree, right?”
“Well, yeah. I guess that is what I’m saying. Especially if it’ll prevent Tammy from seeing all the good Earth has to offer.” Barb responded, ready as ever for revenge. Shortly after both agreeing living in the tree community would be the best form of punishment and suffering for Tammy, the family moved into their first treehouse, in Shaded Oaks neighborhood.
David laid down the rules, “Tammy, you can not leave the tree and go onto the earth because you will get hurt by what is down there. It is a dangerous world down there and nothing but negative, harsh reality will come from being on the ground. You can go visit other families living in the trees around us but only by using the connecting tree branches.”
Once again Barb reiterated, “Do not touch foot on the ground. The Earth brings you nothing but pain.”
They ate well for the most part. Tammy’s favorite dish was vegan lasagna which was no more than tree leaves, roots, and nuts put out in the sun to bake.
Throughout her life she noticed her parents treated her differently than all the other parents. They did not seem to share the same love toward her as the other parents shared for their children.
One day Tammy was climbing across a branch to get to another tree and fell down to the Earth. She saw people a few yards away, and filled with fear and curiosity she walked toward them. There were kids her age down there. They were very welcoming. The other children gave her bubblegum to chew, and lots of other yummy scrumptious foods. They showed her all the wonderful things that they had in their lives.
Then it hit her. It was all \cf1 a malicious lie. Everything her parents told her, all the so called danger and evilness found down below was a lie.
“Honey, come look at these pictures. Do you remember this day? Your family was taking your Christmas photo and you popped a bubble on your face” He said while handing me a picture of me when I was very young.
“I do remember that. The gum wouldn’t come off so I wasn’t in the Christmas card that year.” I pick up a stack a photos from the box and flip through them. I find some from when we were in our twenties at a party.
“Look Benny, this was that party we want to where everyone was a vegetarian but us.”
“That was the worst two hours of my life. Vegan lasagna, who thinks that’s a good idea? Then they made us do some meditating crap.”
“Well it would’ve been longer but you had to say, So you want to live in a tree – right? They kicked us out because you were making fun of them!”
“They deserved it they were insane” he replied while laughing.
I flipped through the stack when I stop on one from Benny’s trip to the naval academy with his dad. He loved the army and would’ve done anything to go, but I stopped him from his only dream in life.
Putting the picture down I look up at Benny and say, “There’s something I need to tell you.”
“What is it?”
“I have been holding this in for over forty years and I think it’s time you know. When you were about to leave for the Naval Academy and I got sick I was faking it. I didn’t want you leave me. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I had let you go and you died. I couldn’t imagine living the rest of my life without you there. I acted really sick all those months because I knew you would stay with me if you thought there was something wrong with me, and I was right. I am so ashamed of myself and I’m so deeply sorry for keeping you from living out your dream.” I finish my apology and look up to see him wide eyed and shocked. I knew he wouldn’t take this well, but I needed to tell him.
“I don’t know what to say. Why haven’t you told me this earlier?” He asked looking at me with hurt in his eyes.
“I have wanted to tell you all this time, but I didn’t want you to hate me and leave me. It wasn’t a malicious lie I just didn’t want you to get hurt.” He stares at me for a few minutes processing all that I have revealed to him.
“I guess I can’t really be that upset with you. After Ronny died his wife never was the same and I’d hate to think you would go through the same thing she did if I didn’t back from war. You mean the world to me and it wasn’t right what you did, but I am glad that I was able to spend my entire life with you then behind a gun in a foreign country.”
“Max!” Macy screamed.
“Look at what you did! Oh my gosh its in my hair!”
I had gum all over me. It was on my cloths and all over my face.
Macy’s mom came running in the room.
“What? What happened!”she asked frantically.
“I was about to blow the biggest bubble ever and Max popped it in my face! Look he got it in my hair and its all over my uniform.”
Ugh! My brother is always in the way. The other day he got into my room and took all of my animals and threw them all over my room. Mom tries to tell me the same thing she does every time he does something like this.
“ He is still little and doesn’t know any better. Come on dinner is ready. We will get you cleaned up after dinner.”
When I walk into the kitchen I see the dish that even our dog won’t eat. Vegan lasagna. Its gross. Usually I don’t eat it. I just pretend to so that I don’t get in trouble. Max hasn’t learned that trick yet so he starts to whine and complain.
“No I don’t like it!” he whines.
“Max, please eat your dinner. Your mom worked hard to make it for you,” dad says.
This doesn’t work so Mom tries to change the subject before things get ugly. She asks how our day was at school and before I can even start to talk Max starts babbling on. Its not fair! He always gets to talk first.
He starts going on and on about about some animal that lives in a tree and how he wanted to be just like that animal and climb through the trees all day and then it hit me! What if I could convince him to live outside in a tree like this animal! Then I wouldn’t have to worry about him messing up my stuff or getting into to my room.
After dinner while Max was playing I went over to talk to him.
“Hey Max. So you want to live in a tree…right?”
“Well I guess. Sure. Then I could jump and climb all day!”
“Your right! And you could have like your own little house. You could take your own food out there and eat whatever you want! No more vegan lasagna!”
“That sounds amazing!”
“I know! Come on, I’ll help you move!”
“Good morning daddy.” I said every Sunday morning, interrupting his snores. He’d typically respond with a groan and a smile. Oblivious to the fact that he was out until 4 am the night before, I’d make him a pot of straight, black coffee. As a young child I never payed attention to where he’d disappear to on Saturday nights, leaving us behind with our mother to eat disgusting vegan lasagna instead of pizza. Although I longed for him to come home, I knew I could always count on the following Sunday morning.
Just before I’d close my eyes at night, he’d always make his way up to my room. I admired his enthusiasm while telling me Curious George stories. After rambling on how I’d love to live wild and free in the jungle like George, he’d often ask me, “So you want to live in a tree–right?” This question excited me and sparked my imagination, causing me to jump up and down on the bed. I’d do this until I was finally forced under the covers and to sleep. I credited him for my imagination and naïve outlook on life.
Watching him pack his bags and leave was when I realized where he was all those Saturday nights. I sat on the steps, watching him pass me by, my eyes begging for an explanation. His eyes never met mine, because I knew that he could not give me one. Shockingly enough, this was the first Saturday night I’d seen him; and it was around 4 am. I always knew things would come to an end between them, but I liked to ignore that it was true. The malicious lies he told my mother finally resurfaced and this man I constantly put on a pedestal, was taken down. Although it felt as if I lost him forever, I knew hadn’t. I retreated to my parents room and attempted to comfort my mother. I slept on his side of the bed that night, where the sheets smelt like him and black coffee. Beside his bed sat the picture of me on my first day of kindergarten, with the bubble gum popping on my face. It was his favorite photo of me yet, he left it behind. Oh, how oblivious I was. Oblivious to the fact that there was a world to this man that I didn’t even know existed.
“Oh come on Cam! Who doesn’t love free money? Especially if we can do whatever we want!” Cindy exclaimed to her good friend as they walked home. Cindy had found a scholarship and the requirements were simple that the both of them could do the scholarship and have a chance to win.
“Cam, what are you going to make your product commercial about?” she asked, wanting to know what crazy idea he had. Cindy admired Cam for his outstanding abilities to think larger than life.
“I’m not sure if I am going to do it Cindy. But if I do decide to do it, I think it would be about a house.” He said, leaving Cindy bewildered on how a house was going to help him win.
“I don’t get it.” “Let me finish then, C. The house it’s going to be a hallowed out tree and it’s going to be fully alive just like all the others. The only difference is that this tree is one someone can live in!” Cam’s hands were flinging around making motions of how the new innovated tree house would look.
Cam’s idea made Cindy feel as if hers wasn’t good enough. He had created a new way to live, a new way to have a tree house. Zoning out of the conversation Cindy thought of a way she could win the scholarship and still use Cam.
“What’s your idea, C?” Cindy looked at him, not wanting to tell him she didn’t have an idea and that she was just going to us his.
“I don’t know, maybe vegan lasagna bubblegum?” She answered him with a question.
“Vegan lasagna and bubblegum?” He grimaced at the thought of chewing gum that tasted like vegan lasagna. They both looked at each other and laughed at the ridiculous idea.
Later that day, the both of them started on Cam’s idea. Together they created a replica of the new tree house. They would do a voice over so they could talk about the product.
“C, you do the voice over you are a more confident speaker.” Cam told her. Nodding she took the script from the table and waited until he told her when to start. He nodded his head, letting her know to start.
“So you wanna live in a tree – right? But you cannot, until now! Instead of living in a house live in a hallowed out tree like the one shown.”
They bothed looked at each other with smiles of accomplishment. Watching the video one last time, they save it, and decide to go get some food.
“How do you wanna start your commercial?” Cam asked, shoving some fries into his mouth.
“I’m not sure but I know I want a picture of a little girl with gum all over her face. I think they’d be cute, you know?”
Cam nodded in agreement. They continued to eat in silence. Cindy kept thinking about the scholarship and how a simple lie was turing into a malicious lie.
“Cam, I was going to still your project to win.”
“Why?” “I wanted to win… I’m sorry.”
Cam got up and left.
I sat on the curb during recess watching my classmates play. I popped my bubblegum and kept to myself. I looked toward the school parking lot and saw a large man walking toward me. He didn’t have the visitor badge on, but he didn’t look like a stranger. He came closer to the point where he was sitting right next to me. “Hi, Cindy. Alone again today?”
“Like always” I said with a smile on my face. How did he know my name? Maybe he’s heard the teachers talking about me. He seemed friendly, he had a nice smile and a full beard. I decided I liked him.
“Do you know who I am?” I shook my head. “Didn’t think so. Do you ever remember your mom talking about a Johnny Able? A guy she grew up with down the street?”
“Oh yeah! They were best friends!”
“That’s me! I’ve been working at the school and noticed you. The teacher said you’re Olive Johnson’s daughter. You look just like her.”
“Well it’s so nice to meet you sir! Momma’s awful pretty. I’m glad I look like her.”
“You’re a very pretty girl. What do ya say I take you home to your momma today? I’ll save her the trip.”
“That sounds real nice, but I’m not supposed to go with anyone unless they know our family’s password. Do you know ours? It’s my momma’s favorite food.”
“Oh, that’s easy. She’s vegan. She loves that vegan lasagna, doesn’t she?”
“Yeah she does! I guess you can take me home!” They must be close….he even knows her favorite food after all these years! But wait….mom said she decided to be a vegan in college….I went back into school as recess ended. The final bell rang and I walked out to see Johnny leaning up against his car. I got in, and we drove towards home.
“Mr. Johnny, I don’t think you’re going the right way to my house….”
“I was going to make a stop by my house first. Is that okay?”
“I guess so. I don’t want my mom to worry. Could I call her?”
“No, honey. I already took care of that.”
We continued to drive for awhile and turned on a gravel road.
“You live here?”
“Yes. I like to be alone. Just like you. But now that you’re with me, we both won’t have to be alone anymore.”
“I can’t live here! I have to go home to my mom.”
“You’re not going anywhere.”
I felt a little scared, even though Johnny had been nice to me. “So, you want to live in a tree – right?” Johnny asked. I only told that to my journal at school and no one else. I did not know how Johnny knew that. I looked at him with fear and his smile suddenly looked creepy. I replied with, “Yes.” There was an ax on his front porch. I saw it and hit him with it. It was then I realized Johnny was not who he claimed to be. As he struggled on the ground, I ran home to my mother and never looked back.
I Hate Skating
For some people, ice skating is fun. They can move around on the ice, and the ones that take lessons can spin and what not. However, I do not like ice skating. I absolutely hate it. So why am I currently holding on to the wall at the ice rink? All because my cousin convinced me to come. She said that it would be fun to try ice skating again. Even though I was undoubtedly terrible at it. And not to mention terrified as well.
This all started a few days ago when my cousin kept begging me to go to the ice rink with her. When I told her I would not ever go onto the ice again, she kept asking me the following: So you want to live in a tree, right?. And that didn’t make any sense because not wanting to ice skate had nothing to do with living in a tree. Even though I kinda want to.
My stomach starts to make growling noises. I really wish that I was home right now. My mom made her super delicious vegan lasagna for dinner tonight. Too bad I won’t be there. I pull out my phone to check the time. On my lock screen is a picture of me when I was little with popped bubble gum all over my face. My favorite picture of myself of all time. Why I can’t I be that little girl right now so I don’t have to be here.
There was a time when I wasn’t afraid of ice skating. But that all changed when my cousin, the one I’m here with at the ice rink, told me a malicious lie. She told me that if I just let go of the wall she could teach me how to skate. So I trusted her. Let’s just say that I ended up on the cold ice with a cut in my leg. I should never have let my cousin into trying to get me to do a spin. Because I ended up with several stitches in my leg and uncomfortable crutches for weeks.
I watch my cousin skate around the ice rink really fast. Maybe if I try to sneak off of the ice when she’s not watching I could go and sit inside? No, that won’t work. My cousin is not stupid, and that’s exactly what she wants for me to try and do. And if I do go back inside, she will just drag me back onto this stupid ice. So I guess I’ll have to keep on holding on to this really cold wall. Man, I wish I had brought gloves.