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No Snakes, No Doors

4 May

Sadie Buchanan
9th Grade

I got bitten by my science teacher’s snake once. The pain was short, but the venom lasted. The fear bit into me like a cobra. In an attempt to get rid of the fear, I blocked my line of sight so I wouldn’t see it. But I was left to imagine what could possibly happen behind it, because I had no idea what the black hid.

I tried to convince my parents to buy me a snake once. I tried to convince my parents to put a door on my closet, but they said no, turned me down, just like when I asked them for a snake. After a talk with my father, I decided to take down the panel, only to reveal there was nothing behind it. I was safe.

Metamorphosis

4 Dec

by Cassidy Cole

[metamorphosis:]

a change of the form or nature of a thing or person into a completely different one, by natural or supernatural means

—–

I remember that moment: stomach heavy with weight from the Indian curry and fusty yogurt from Frankfurt, Germany. Four a.m., I was balancing hot, unsweetened coffee in my left hand, and my camera in the other. I slurred my sleepless words to Samantha, “We are actually here, actually breathing Germany air,” and oblivious of the world outside of where we were, we just laughed, and laughed, and laughed.

Little did we know about each other, Shannon who I never met before and Samantha who I barely knew. These girls were going to become my sisters.

Little did we know that what was called a “spiritual journey to the South of France”—with a group of people I only knew of and a woman of great presence and peace whom I love very much—was going to be so much more than that. So much more than what I signed up for with that absent mind. I journeyed to places I never would have imagined: in me, and around me. I was clueless of what to expect, all I knew was what to pack. That’s all I really needed to know. I was quenched with trust in these people and my thirst for finding me, finding that place.

Little did we know the world we just entered by plane, the world with French wine, berets, and warm baguettes, was going to ripple us into another set of oceans, swallow us whole, and cast us away back to where we came from—in the same skin, but different souls.

By plane, with a Jewish-German lady sitting on my left,

By plane, with Shannon drawing arrows swaying in and out, in and out, in and out of each other in her journal,

By plane, with Samantha laughing as a blond Melissa McCarthy wrecked yet another car in this one movie,

I don’t believe I ever left that dream state.

That state of walking off that plane, that state of feeling the wind melt into my pores, that state of seeing the insomniac moon in the French sky stationed over the Toulouse highway sign, pointing towards Arrêt Minute, Bus Touristique, Accueil, Hôtels, and La Cité. That state of falling into the arms of these people, that little did I know, those people with whom I had eaten a bowl of steamed broccoli and a quesadilla with nothing but American cheese at the hotel bar in Queens, NY a couple of nights before, those people who I hugged but didn’t know. Those people, little did I know, were going to be “those” people. “Those” people who hugged us and called us “their rising stars.”

Arms linked and heads hugging, we skipped on the ingrown asphalt with vibrant fruits and sweet scented soaps from the marketplace just outside Couzia. As we roamed between the people-less villages, and little did we know it was so different than the ones from The States until we came back to them. But then, all we did is laugh, and laugh, and laugh.

Arms linked and heads hugging, we were breathing the same air as the royalty we once were. Breathing in that air that traveled through all of our lungs as we just laughed, and laughed, and laughed.

Arms linked and heads hugging, in the château we stayed in, Samantha, Shannon and I hid in the corner of the hall where we scampered, hips and hands plastered to the walls, fingers trickling along the corners carved with intricate crown molding stretched like fondant, lanterns from the closet dangling on our wrists as if our past of rebellion, our past of being beheaded, came from the head rather than the heart. Our bare feet, sticky with mist from the moss, slipped down the spiraled stairs that felt medieval to me, but so familiar. Our lanterns now folded in between our fingers, we danced through the iron gates, playing peekaboo with the moonlight. We rolled around in the grass, lanterns resting with the snails, letting the soft, dewy light slip off the ridges of our noses as we just laughed, and laughed, and laughed.

Arms linked and heads hugging, I remember, we were swallowed by the salty Mediterranean sea, letting fish the color of the sky when the moon giggled, swim between our fingertips, dodging skipping rocks Samantha tickled across the waves and we just laughed, and laughed, and laughed.

Arms linked and heads hugging, we spun with our central suns and our soul friends intertwined in the stars, puppeteered by the moon who sang the melody we danced to as we just laughed, and laughed, and laughed.

Arms linked and heads hugging we saw the kingdom just past Bugarach and towards the bashful fog—we held broken shells in that labyrinth, wiped our palms on moss and welcomed the sun to seep through our eyelashes until it sunk into the clouds unnoticed. We danced through the châteaus, the ruins filled with too many years to count, the churches filled with our voices, our melodies, our hums pulsating through our veins, wrapping us in something so lovely. so magical. so gold. so green. so pink.

Arms linked and heads hugging, back on the buses, with the constant song, trickling through my headphones. I listened to it, playing on repeat…

cherish this cause when it doesn’t last you’ll wish you had
i will cherish this 

somehow we found each other
Somehow we found hope

I lived those moments till they bled dry with those people I found hope in, the people who lived this daydream, this story with me, with us—

cherish this cause when it doesn’t last you’ll wish you had
i will cherish this 

somehow we found each other
somehow we found hope

Then the goodbyes came—and bam—the slam. Ouch.

This is when the real ache starts. That moment off the plane at Kennedy Airport, go through customs. Did you bring back any food—Um, no—Yes—Snatch your bag—say goodbye—grab a taxi—tip the driver.

I remember collapsing onto the patch of grass in Queens, the same grass I left a while ago, and was back to now, surrounded by so. much. asphalt. I dialed my mom, yearning for her embrace to tell me it will be okay, to tell me not to be afraid, but most of all, to hear the one thing that sat in the middle for me, the middle of magic and reality. Twirling my fingers in the dead grass I yearned to just cry to her. I told her snippets of all the things in that story I just lived, wiping the tears that clotted on the ridge between my cheekbone and my ear, I told her I was terrified, I told her I was scared of the slam that just hit me, I told her I wanted to change schools, I hated my friends and their fakeness. I could see their fakeness now; I told her I knew what “real” looked like now. I told her I couldn’t be hurt anymore by what I could control. I told her I didn’t belong here. I told her I loved her.

I know I scared her. I know I scared the people I loved with “my slam.” I sounded like I was broken, but really I was just being rebuilt into something better then what I left as. I was being rebuilt right then and there, but being rebuilt so fast is what I was not prepared for, but it was better that way, better then denying it and letting someone else tell me I had changed. I was better this way. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

France…it was amazing and life changing. But it deserves more. It deserves to be fed more than it says it wants to eat and it should be hugged tighter than it hugs you. Just like Kai said about the little girls and boys in the Hawaiian culture, they are to be carried on their mothers and fathers’ shoulders to keep them closest to where they came from, the heavens. This story should be carried on my pale shoulders like the Hawaiian children, closest to where it came from, and above ground because that’s when it becomes a story, when it touches the ground, when it touches reality and it is no longer brimming with magic that I can feel. The magic I can feel tickle my fingertips as if tears are rolling down my knuckled fingers.

This story, my story, our story, it deserves more than to be a story. It braids my stomach in knots when someone asks me how it was and I tell them it was amazing and they say they knew it would be. Conversation over. It was beyond amazing believe me, but I want to sit them down, hold their fingers, and tell them it was something more, but for one, I don’t say that, and I don’t know how to say it in a frequency we all could hear. So all that transforms to that simple word. Amazing.

My face felt dry and my eyes small and the corners of eyelashes felt brittle from my tears. I walked through that fog to our hotel room, and all I could see was the flickering porch lights through barred windows and a couple of billboards, one about a sale at Wal-Mart. I opened the door and Samantha asked if I was okay. Then and there, I fell into her arms and closed my eyes and cried. “Your okay,” she told me, “your okay, your okay.”

I was okay. I knew I was. But that didn’t mean I wasn’t scared, didn’t mean I wasn’t terrified.

I was okay. I had to be. I did live those moments till they bled dry with those people that gave me hope and lived this daydream, this story with me, with us. Those people I hugged and now knew. Those people, my sisters, Samantha and Shannon, who before them, I never knew what “real” was, and never knew I could love two people you thought you barely knew so, so much.

And now I hold those moments, those moments where the three of us pushed all our beds together in the room of Ducs De Joyeuse and talked about our dreams and all that lay in between. I hold those moments where our arms were linked and our heads were hugging now when our arms are still linked. When our heads are still hugging.

Now I just go, 1, 2, 3, 4, oops, 2, 3, 4, 1, oops, 3,4. Just like she said. But how could we forget the times when all we had to worry about was the light from that moon become too bright to sleep? How could we forget the way it felt to run around that vineyard like little girls with wine in a glass held in my clammy hands and a smile magnified by the rim? How could we forget the way that lake underneath that mountain underneath that cluster of clouds carried our souls straight up to the sun? How could we forget the way it felt to dance through the halls of a castle like little girls and through that staircase just to see the way the fog swallowed that moon? How could we forget that feeling of belonging in a place you never have been before? How could we forget the times we hugged and felt our blood move from one heart to the next, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth? How could we forget that laugh, that one where you just laugh and laugh and laugh?

But the funny thing is, no one was telling me we needed to forget those things. Maybe I was afraid of losing it, maybe I am afraid of losing it, forgetting it.

But I won’t. It’s impossible to forget something that has laced you heart, your skin, your soul, and your visions in something so magical, so healing, so everything we all ever needed.

I won’t forget the times when all we had to worry about was the light from that moon become too bright to sleep… because it changed me.

I won’t forget the way it felt to run around that vineyard like little girls with wine in a glass held in my clammy hands and a smile magnified by the rim…because it changed me.

I won’t forget the way that lake underneath that mountain underneath that cluster of clouds carried our souls straight up to the sun…because it changed me.

I won’t forget the way it felt to dance through the halls of a castle like little girls and through that staircase just to see the way the fog swallowed that moon…because it changed me.

I won’t forget that feeling of belonging in a place I’ve never before…because it changed me.

I won’t forget the times we hugged and felt our blood move from one heart to the next, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth…because it changed me.

I won’t forget that laugh, that one where you just laugh and laugh and laugh… because it changed me.

cherish this cause when it doesn’t last you’ll wish you had
i will cherish this 

somehow we found each other
Somehow we found hope

I found me. This is my story. This is my story of how I found me. And it holds no less magic. If anything it holds more.

I lived those moments until they bled dry with those people I found hope in, the people who lived this daydream with me, this story with me… with us… and with arms linked and heads hugging,

we just laughed,

and laughed,

and laughed.

cherish this cause when it doesn’t last you’ll wish you had
i will cherish this 

somehow we found each other
Somehow we found hope

Pantoum for the Shootings in My State

17 Dec

by Leah Johnson, Teen Council Member 2013-2014

The third time is statistically significant

We have seen this here three times now

How hard is it to count to three?

Fifteen plus twelve plus one is twenty-eight.

 

We have seen this here three times now

It is far more than three people who have died.

Fifteen plus twelve plus one is twenty-eight

Multiply infinity by twenty-eight and divide by zero.

 

It is far more than three people who have died.

Their hands will not open or close again.

Multiply infinity by twenty-eight and divide by zero

I do not want to count up bodies any more.

 

Their hands will not open or close again

Three times hands closed on triggers and ended lives

I do not want to count up bodies any more

So many, many people have died since the world began.

 

Three times hands closed on triggers and ended lives

The third time is statistically significant.

So many, many people have died since the world began.

How hard is it to count to three?

Another On-Air Essay!

3 Jan

Have you ever listened to Korean music? Neither had Teague Harrison until a few years ago, and not only is she hooked now, it’s changed the way she feels about her own country. Listen to her story on the 91.5 website or check out the Denver Youth Radio Project blog.

Denver Youth Radio Project

21 Dec

Learning from the KUNC on-air experts.

Listen to Morning Edition on 91.5 FM tomorrow at 6:35 or 8:35am to hear a personal (and quite controversial) essay by Carlos Medina, a freshman at Manual High School who participated in one of our Lighthouse outreach programs. Stay tuned as more of our students’ insights make it onto the airwaves in the next few weeks, and check on the Denver Youth Radio Project blog after you hear each piece to hear them all over again!

Infinite Journeys Workshop Wrap-Up: A Not So Simple Equation

20 Dec

17 young writers+17 blank journals+6 tubes of glitter+300 magazines=3,045 creative journaling ideas. (With a remainder of gold sparklies all over the living room floor).

Jekolia, one of our high school journey-ers, hard at work...

...on this.

We stuffed ourselves full of cookies and peanut brittle while stuffing artistic journals full of snippets, photos, and poems over the last two weekends at the Ferril House. Here’s one masterpiece from 5th grader, Maddie Solomon.

Who Created Us? by Maddie Solomon

I often wonder

about many, many things:

about dinosaurs who roamed the earth

or all of Saturn’s rings.

~

But most of all I wonder

about who created us.

Was it really a piece of cake

Or was it a big fuss?

~

And also, what was the year,

the year we came alive?

Oh how I wish someone was there

to tell us how we survive.

~

With so many religions

to believe and to choose,

we might never know

or have any clues.

~

For now we wait

for an answer to appear.

After all, patience is the key to life.

Not everything is always clear.

Get Your Workshop On!

11 Aug

Have you seen the new line-up for our fall weekend courses?

We’re starting with Magical Realism on Saturdays September 18 and 25 from 12:30-3:00pm. If you’ve been wanting to write about how that big freckle on your forearm turns you into an aardvark when you push it, now’s your chance.

See the full schedule and sign up right here for our next course: Making the Ordinary Extraordinary!