The cover of the old piano spatters a cloud of dust into the old theater air as it creaks on its hinges and settles loudly atop the black and white antique. A shuffle of papers, the screech of the stool across the aged wooden floor, as the young man sits down and prepares to create the canvas for the girl to paint upon with her voice. He lifts a single finger, places it on a low note. The deep vibrato echoes through the empty space of the abandoned hall, bounces and reflects in the dark void like a ripple of water. The man keeps pressing the key, making a steady beat as the skeleton of their lullaby. Slowly, slowly, slowly, his fingers hit different notes, jumping about the piano like rabbits in a field. And slowly, the song begins. Weaving throughout the room resembling a river of melodies, sweet, soft patters of harmonies move together as one.
step after the step I can only think about moving forward the oppressive weight of a wooden canoe pushing down on my back threatening to make me fall a constant reminder of my goal and my purpose I must reach the end, so I can release this burden squinting ahead the trees blur into a green veil sweat pours of my neck dripping into my eyes mosquitoes crawl on my flesh too tired to swat them I let them have their meal an annoyance that no longer bothers me step after step my foot sinks into muddy soil and comes out with a squelch dripping with moist muck. rocks, obstacles in my path I will not fall the pain of the boat balanced on my shoulders is constantly there I just want release dwelling on the pain makes it worse I must think about other things Scattered thoughts zoom through my brain I search for images to grab on to
i sat there in the garden the air was sweet and gentle wrapping itself around me with its warmth each inhale took me away into some type of paradise each exhale brought me back to earth .
i could feel the dry dirt on the soles of my feet a thin layer scattered over the brick beneath me
the sunshine kissed the top of my head my face, each freckle on the curves of my cheek bones her rays danced over my shoulders caressing each petal of the sunflowers behind me
next she blessed the little garden beds to my right her song was soft, and beautiful she sang a tune for the tomato’s and one for the peas each little plant felt the sunshine on its open surfaces so warm and complete
i gazed ahead of me there, a broken gate sat, half hinged swaying slightly with the breeze
There are some concerts where the music becomes the background; you can hear it but you’re not listening to it. The bassoonist is playing some insane solo but you’re only thinking about the project that’s due the next day or how you might have bombed the test that you took earlier in the day. While the bassoonist is passing the melody to the French horn player, you’re thinking about how to tackle the project - where to start, what topic to choose, how long it will take, how to split it up into smaller and more manageable tasks. And by the time you have everything for the project figured out, the entire piece is over and everyone is standing up to give a standing ovation.
You're not charming. Your laugh is throaty and fades into silence if you laugh too hard. Your hair sticks up in crazy cowlicks and refuses to stay down. Your words are sloppy and you always backtrack to explain.
And that's okay. Because my fondest memories are you and I, side by side, us laughing so hard we fall silent and shake. I remember the light and your hair, forming a golden halo and your goofy grin.
You said something and I think the way I looked at you made you scared. It didn't offend me, but you became red in the face, head shaking back and forth as you blubbered over how sorry you were. I laughed because I was thinking of how "you" it was.
You're not charming. And that's where your charms are.
My father stores photos online. He has them in folders, labelled neatly by the year and the month, and sometimes a title. More often than not, it's just "Misc" plain, but fitting.
The memories are miscellaneous, scattered like pine needles from sawed off trees, decorated in shiny bulbs. They're fleeting, darting off into the horizon line like our dogs with a dropped leash.
There is a folder with my name on it, 2008-02 Lonna. I'm in Tae Kwon Do, testing for my green belt. My hair is the same bob it is now, although it has passed through several phases. She has the same smile, tight lipped and shiny eyed.
Something about the coloring screams nostalgia. It might be the whiter whites, or the glossy overexposures, because sometimes I'm convinced life has passed me by in a flash and the pale brights emphasize that. The warm tones
I remember six years ago sitting at the dinner table staring wide eyed at my parents who were telling me that today, 20 kids my age had been shot and killed. At school. And I remember walking into school the next day, glancing at the classroom door every so often in half hearted anticipation of a man bursting in with a gun. I was in second grade.
I remember three years ago kneeling on the carpet in my classroom fear pumping through my veins as my teacher told our class what to do if a shooter broke in. I remember her words, telling us that if we were in the bathroom during an alarm, to stand on the toilet so they couldn’t see our feet. And I remember avoiding the bathroom and nearly wetting my pants every day because I was absolutely terrified of getting stuck in there alone. I was in fourth grade.
I know that hunting is a way of life, but semi-automatic weapons are made with the intentions to hunt humans. They spray bullets without a second thought, and kill. That killing machine, hulking and deadly, is worthless in a game of sport, but makes all the difference in a battlefield. In a school of screaming children, fearing for their lives in the corners of locked rooms.
How many more of us must scream bloody murder to save our lives? How many more of us must scream because our lives depend on it? How many more of us will be buried six feet under until something happens?
We are murdered in pristine white school hallways. We worry about making it out alive when we are kids who should be worrying about our next test. We worry about telling our family we love them because what if it's the last time. We worry about the nearest escape route
This commentary was aired on Vermont Public Radio.
Historically young people haven’t had the best reputation: Teens have often been characterized as too busy texting and tweeting to be aware of or to engage in current events.
However, despite this stereotype, youth have been organizing, most recently around gun reform.
Students in Parkland and around the country, including our own Vermont, are showing that young people are aware and ready to act.
We’ve met with legislators, given testimonies, spoken at press conferences, and organized national walkouts.
In addition, on March 24, we’ll be marching nationwide in Washington, D.C., as well as in Rutland and Montpelier. And youth involvement won’t end here nor is it limited to high school students. Youth of all ages from eight to 18 are interested in making the change they want to see.
I haven't spoken Chinese in three months. I left the restaurant so using it hasn't been an immediate need.
I try to say hello and ask if they have eaten whenever I go in but my tongue is too thick and too slow to properly enunciate. I've forgotten the intricate rise and fall in tones and the phonetics. I couldn't write it if I tried. Pinyin is over accented in my head and characters aren't making sense.
"The cooks miss you." my boss says. She misses me the most, I think. Or maybe she misses my work ethic, eager to please and too quiet to defend myself.
I think the cooks miss my face. I couldn't say much to them other than broken orders, hello, I love you, and common greetings. The only fun thing I knew was a single insult, and it was idiot.
I don't think they miss me. I think they miss the idea of me.
Puebla is chocolate dipped, syrupy as I spoon it out of the close knit towns surrounding Mexico City. I just want to gulp it down, suck the marrow from the cattle that get leaner every year.
It smells good, being home. Or being in a place that was once home. I can’t help but hold my breath, abducting it in my lungs as if the wind here is a different flavor then the wind there.
I thought the thing I missed most was the heat, the sizzle your bare feet make against the packed dirt of the evening road. But I was wrong because I am intoxicated by the way my grandma clasps my hands to her heart, like I never left.
Puebla tastes salty, as I lick it from my top lip, brushing it from the corners of my eyes, letting it fall, absorb into my skin.
I know I can’t come back until the next thunderstorm season. The lightning hides my guilt on the tarmac,
when i walk into the library my body is tense, my fingers sore from scrambling over my keyboard i find a table, much too central for my liking and settle in already feeling irritation take its seat beside me reminding me of deadlines and long essays waiting to be written
i do not notice the elderly woman bending over the shelf of children's books behind my chair her hair is stringy and white knotted in two buns on each side of her head she is missing several teeth and the ones she has intact tell me of her age
but i do not notice these details until she pulls back the other chair at my table i smile quickly, not taking my fingers from the keyboard somehow, i glance down and see the books she has in her bony hands
"tasha tudor: around the year" "tasha tudor: pumpkin moonshine" and many more
i hate the crackle of the intercom and the way a painfully familiar hush washes over a room full of people. rooms havent failed to go silent since the incident. our breaths all hitch in some horrifying unison as we remember and shake.
the day after i nearly cried when announcements came over speakers, a familiar voice trying to reassure as i struggled to suppress. it was a class meeting to discuss the situation.
there was frustration and anger, class meetings spilling over, and when it was our turn to speak, we kept going and going.
"if city hall wasnt safe yesterday when will it ever be safe? students were turned away because they dont ride the bus or they don't have a car. what will you do in a real emergency?"
Church street is lit up tonight, it's only a few blocks to where dad said he parked the car... I tell myself. I wave goodbye to my friends still eating ice cream inside; the sugar haze of happiness has begun to wear off.
Is that the rustle of my backpack on my shoulders, or is someone behind me? It's just my backpack. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Everyone knows girls shouldn't walk alone at night.
I pass strange men in coats, my eyes downcast. Every time I pass another girl: How far away will she have to be to not hear me scream? Stupid, stupid, stupid. I should have asked a friend to walk me.
I take my phone out, pretend to text someone. Look, I could call 911 in a second. It's dead. Stupid, stupid, stupid. I should have borrowed a charger.