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I Missed School Because of a Sparrow

The Spring semester of my sophomore year was a pretty rough semester. Not only was I taking four art classes, (6 hours a week, each, although they only count for 3 hours a week,) but it was also my first year as a Learning Community Resident Assistant and I had other classes and commitments, as well. A lot of things went wrong that semester and made me miss school.

One of those things was a sparrow.

I can’t remember exactly what I had been working on, but I remember I had just come into the Tower Hall from the art building. I was either working on traditional photography or linoleum printmaking…both were really time-consuming and required a lot of work outside of class. Anyways, I entered Tower and walked behind the Front Desk where the RAs work and often spend a lot of time. I generally stop by to visit with the working RA before heading up to my room. RA Ariel immediately jumped up from her studying and exclaimed, “Noelle! Your residents brought something for you!” she exclaimed.

I had had a really long, hard, tiring day and I couldn’t wait to get to sleep. In fact, I had had a really long, hard, tiring semester. A little pick-me-up from some residents would be a wonderful little surprise! “Really? My residents brought me something?” I asked.

Ariel told her friend who was on the opposite side of the desk to get what the residents dropped off. She interrupted her studying and dashed to one of the tables that was in the center of the lobby. I saw her pick up a styrofoam container used for storing food you get “to-go” and began thinking, “Food? My residents brought me food? That’s sweet of them…I often miss meals because of how busy I am, so it’s nice that they thought of me.” My heart was filling with warmth until suddenly, it was crushed.

As the girl brought the container up, I became confused. It didn’t look like there was food in it…What was that? As the container was placed on the desk, I found that it was stuffed with a small blue towel. The girl pulled back the towel to reveal a small, injured sparrow. I gasped as my eyes took in the horrid sight of the bird. His head looked crushed as blood stained the feathers around his eyes and mouth. His body was limp as the bird lay in the container, wings withdrawn and legs drawn in. The bird’s entire body shuddered with each breath, appearing as if the bird was struggling just to breath. My heart dropped and my tears began to swell.

“Your residents found this bird lying in the road and came in here looking for you,” Ariel explained as her friend picked up the bird wrapped in the blue towel.

“Me? Why me?” I asked as the girl handed the bird to me.

“Well, they know how much you love animals. They figured you’d know what to do…”

“I-I don’t really know what to do…I don’t…I’m not a vet…Can we take him to a vet?” I began to hold the small bird in my hands. I held him close to my face to look him over, though it pained me to do so.

“I don’t know,” Ariel sighed. “We didn’t know what to do, either. The residents brought down this towel and we put him in this thing. It’s all we had…It’s been about an hour maybe…”

I continued to watch the small bird, holding him as carefully as I could. I felt that maybe he shouldn’t have been picked up in the first place. I watched his quick, short breaths. Huff, huff. Huff, huff. Huff, huff…His breaths seemed to be echoing his heartbeats. I didn’t know what to do. What could I do for this bird? What could I do?!

Suddenly, the huffs stopped. The sparrow did not draw another breath.

All three of us held our own breaths as we waited…

That sparrow died in my hands that night. I held that sparrow as he drew his final, dying breath. He was only in my life for about five minutes, but that tiny little bird has left a stain on my heart. I still feel deeply for that bird and it pains me to write this.

“Is he-?” asked Ariel’s friend.

“I don’t know!” Ariel cried out.

I stood silent, glancing from girl to girl, praying that the bird would begin breathing again.

He never did.

“Oh, I’m so sorry, Noelle!” cried Ariel. “Oh, I’m so sorry!” I looked at her with tears welling in my eyes. “Oh, please. Please, don’t cry!”

As soon as she finished her sentence, the tears in my eyes broke their barrier and began streaming down my face. I began crying for that bird. I cried for his pain and for his sad ending. Not really knowing what to do, I cautiously placed the bird back in the container, moving slowly and methodically. I pulled the towel over the bird, just up to his neck as if I was tucking him into bed. I wanted him to be comfortable. My mind became overwhelmed with thoughts. Why did the bird die? Why couldn’t I do anything? Why did he have to suffer? I was so frustrated.

Ariel continued to plead for me to stop crying as she relentlessly apologized. She looked as if she was about to cry, herself.

After minutes of shock, I finally broke myself from that moment. I finally moved from that spot. I finally tore my mind from that subject. I finally left the bird.

I resumed my return to my room, unlocked the door, and fell on my bed. I cried for that bird. I cried and cried and cried for him. I stayed up several hours crying in sadness and bewilderment. I cried in frustration and regret. I cried.

Although I had planned to go to bed early and wake up on time for my 8:00am class, my plans were detoured. I was up all night with that bird in my thoughts. I did not go to class the next morning. I couldn’t bring myself to do it as my mind was entangled with emotions. I just couldn’t do it.

Later, when I finally returned to class days later, I ended up bring the bird with me in my heart. We were starting a screenprinting project and I created a design honoring the sparrow that died in my hands. I drew the sparrow flying off the edge of the image, representing his fleeting life and his departure through death.

Though that spirit may have been just a bird, I loved him, and he will be missed.

I’m sorry sparrow. I’m really sorry.

Snow

Born and raised in Texas, I didn’t actually see snow until I was 11 years old when my family moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota. I remember my middle school was having a contest to guess the first day it was going to snow, and I raised my hand saying, “Well…I’ve never seen snow, so how am I supposed to guess?” They told me to just give it my best try, so I wrote some random day down. I don’t remember the day I wrote down, but I do remember that it was right.

I remember the first time I saw snow…It was a dark night and it was either a Friday or Saturday. It wasn’t a school night. My family and I had gathered around outside after hearing on the news that there was a possibility of snow. After a while, the first flakes starting falling. They were so tiny and fragile. I was amazed at how quickly they would melt in my hand and how from a distance the snowflakes looked like tiny white cottonballs, but up close they looked like complicated crystals. They were amazing.

I quickly called a close family friend and as soon as she picked up the phone I exclaimed, “It’s snowing!” She had told me to say that and she’d know exactly who it was. I was so excited to see snow.

That Monday when I went to school, I was eager to see what I’d win for getting the right day, but for some reason I didn’t win. The school said something about how it didn’t snow in that area, or it wasn’t enough to count, or something weird like that. I was irked, but whatever. At least I know I guessed the day right. Not like it matters anyways…

Now, nine years later, I live in Texas again and I haven’t seen snow in five years. There are times that I miss it’s magical, mysterious beauty, but then there’s other times when I think of the negative sides of snow. After living in Minnesota for a year, my family moved to North Dakota for four years where I got to spend a lot of time with the snow.

In North Dakota, it’s common for temperatures to go below zero and snow begins falling in October and doesn’t stop until April or May. It’s not a pleasant, peaceful snowfall, though, it’s a harsh, icy experience. In North Dakota, the land is barren and flat, so wind is extremely strong and unstoppable. This can make the temperatures even more frigid than they already are. Each winter night in North Dakota, the temperatures drop so low that it freezes everything from the day previous so that all the snow is turned to ice. This can be great for sledding, but it’s awful for actually living and getting around in.

In a North Dakota winter, people need to wake up extra early in the mornings to clear their driveways, especially before the temperatures freeze the snow on the driveway into a sheet of ice. When my dad would shovel the snow into a pile next to our house, I always got excited about building snow tunnels and burrowing a snow cave, but I was always disappointed when not long afterwards it’d be a giant chunk of unpenetrable ice. Also, whenever the snow plows would come down the streets, they’d push all the snow from the streets into a little pile at the foot of everyone’s driveway. Of course this would also quickly turn to ice so every home on the street would have a frozen, icy speedbump at the base of their driveway until summer.

Another problem with snow is that it’s only pure, white, and beautiful for a limited time. Once people begin walking in it or cars start driving in it, it just starts getting muddy and sloppy. There was always a muddy sloshy mess in all of the streets and on all of the sidewalks in the winters in North Dakota. Parking lots would have a few spaces dedicated to building a giant muddy snow pile that would accumulate throughout the winter. No matter how beautiful and magical a snowy night might be, it’d always be ruined in the morning…

I can still remember the most snowy magical sight I saw, and it was one random night in North Dakota around two or three in the morning. I was downstairs in my bedroom when my dad called for me from the dining room upstairs. I ran up to find him staring out the window. “Look, look!” he said as he opened the curtain for me. Outside was a gigantic white hare, about the size of a large dog. The hare was hopping down our street, teetering from yard to yard. He came across our yard, right in front of the window we were looking out of and continued through our driveway before following down the street. He didn’t stay long, but I treasured each second I saw him. The next morning, the snow had covered up any sight of tracks and the hare was nowhere to be found. Every now and then I would hear a neighbor say they saw the hare, but I never saw him, myself, ever again.

Snow has a special place in my heart. Every Christmas Eve when I was a child in Texas, I would pray for snow so that I could have that “White Christmas,” but it never did snow…But after living a few years in the stuff, I’m glad to be done with it. I wouldn’t mind if it snowed a little here and there, but I don’t want to shovel or pick at the ice or trudge through the slush any more. It’s also nice to be able to walk to a bus stop without the danger of frostbite setting in. In any case, I love snow, but I can love it from afar.

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Rohashi’s Story: The Tale of a Dead Man

Read more at Rohashi’s Webpage

Aboard a Ship

Aboard a Ship

You are slightly persuaded from side to side as the gentle waves rock the humble pirate ship that you stand upon. A distinct scent of salt lingers in the air from the ocean below and the sunbeams down from the cloudless sky. As the waves wash upon the rough sand of the beaches, they create tranquil sounds that accompany the crashing of the water against the rocks of the cove. Seagulls cry overhead, adding to the ocean’s symphony. Sails peacefully flap above you as a gentle breeze brushes against your face, whispering pirate songs in your ear that send a slight shiver down your spine. Although the tropical setting is relaxing, you feel a slight sense of fear with each new breath.

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The Fear for a Friend: A True Story

I can vividly remember one moment of my life when fear seemed to be breathing down the back of my neck, as it lingers in my memories. The fear for a friend, is one of the worst kinds of fears…

With the sun still shining brightly in the evening sky, I, a seven-year-old second grader at the time, decided to ride my bike around the neighborhood on Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. Following the stonewall that surrounded my neighborhood, I found myself riding up to the inconsiderable park which I called “The Pony Park” due to the single bouncy horse that rested beside the only slide. I usually met with my friends here, but didn’t expect to this evening.

How was I to know that this would be the most fearful night of my life?

After throwing my bike to the side, I climbed atop the roof that covered the humble slide and surveyed my surroundings. Soon, I discovered my daring friend, Andy Hampton, riding his back between the two hills near the back of our neighborhood where the wall did not entirely enclose it. Nestled in the bottom of the “U” that the hills appeared to create rested a road the led to Medina Air Force Base, obscured by the tall, leafy bushes that grew atop the hill, nearest the houses.

My friend, Andy, was searching for thrills as he forced his bike down one hill, up the other, and back down again along with another person that I didn’t know. In a few moments, I jumped to the ground with a thud, quickly grasped my handlebars pulling my bike up, and met up with him.
“Hey, Andy!” I called out.

My friend pedaled down from the opposite hill and came up the hill that I was standing upon. “Oh hey, Noelle!”

“What are you doing?” I asked him.

“Just riding my bike,” he replied before zooming off once more. It sure looked like fun, and I was thinking of joining him.

At the time, Andy was one of my best friends, and we pulled off some wild stunts. Andy has rapped, shirtless, on top of the roof covering the picnic area of “The Lion Park,” actually drawing a crowd, with me sitting beside him, has rode his bike along with me off of a stone cliff trying not to hit my neighbor’s house right next to it, and was always trying to accomplish difficult skateboarding tricks without skinning his face off. He had even dared me to do a stunt once that trashed my bike, but that was nowhere as horrible as this time. Andy was a daredevil at heart and loved to feel his heart pump wildly as he ventured for thrills.

Tonight, he was going to find one.

I stood atop the hill, a witness to the upcoming event. Andy Hampton remounted his bike beside me and pushed off with his foot, his bike aimed downwards. As his bike gradually gained momentum, he smiled and laughed down the hill with his short, blonde hair blowing frantically in the wind. He pedaled as fast as his legs would allow and was traveling faster than any other time before. Maybe if he knew this would be the last time he would feel the rush down the hill, he wouldn’t have done it…

Suddenly, all thoughts escaped from my mind as a car emerged from the bushes, just as Andy was about to cross the road and ride up the opposite hill. I noticed Andy slam on his brakes trying to avoid a collision, but found that his speed was too great. There was a blur as he crashed into the front of the car with a sickening, metal-screeching sound. I watched breathlessly as the collision happened so quickly. It had all happened so fast that I was unsure of what to do. I opened my mouth to scream, but surprisingly no sound came. A hard, dry knot had formed within my throat making it very difficult to breath, and my body seemed to freeze from fright.

As I came back to my senses, I dropped my bike to the ground and stumbled down the side of the hill to the scene of the crash. I panicked, my entire body shaking rapidly, my heart thumping vigorously inside me, and my breaths coming sudden and tight. My thoughts were racing through my head, confusing me and leaving me in a daze.

Andy was sprawled across the road beside the car with his bike lying over him, crushing him beneath it. Somehow, his legs were twisted in the tires in a very painful-looking position. Tangled around his legs were the metal spokes that normally helped the tire keep its shape. I gagged in disgust as I found that some of the spokes were actually piercing through my friend’s right leg, spilling blood and staining the shiny, metallic silver. Crimson stained his clothes and his bike, continuing to flow from his wounds. I couldn’t imagine how the doctor’s were going to repair his mangled legs.

Andy’s face was red with pain and fear as tears poured from his clenched eyes. He screamed in agony and tried to push the heavy bike off of him, but was unable to. The horrible feeling of guilt continued to overcome me and I wanted to do something to help. I frantically looked over him and grabbed the bike, planning to pull it off of him. The moment I clenched the tires within my hands, the lady who had emerged from her car and was now calling 911 on her cell phone screamed at me to leave it be. “There’s nothing you can do until the ambulance arrives,” she said to me.

Moments later, sirens were blaring in the distance. It made me think that hope was out there but not quite in reach until the sirens gradually grew louder, reminding me that everything could be fine and that hope could be found. Soon, the normally empty street was filled with two ambulances, two fire trucks, and three police cars. Paramedics and firefighters quickly fled from their vehicles and swarmed over my friend like bees on a flower. A policeman approached me and escorted me to the top of the hill where my bike still rested. I watched helplessly as firefighters began to saw Andy’s bike into pieces and paramedics were busy trying to save his legs. I felt a few tears trickle down the side of my face as I quietly tried to cope with my racing thoughts.

The policeman was still beside me and began to ask me questions about the accident. I answered them, almost in a daze, unable to avert my eyes from the bottom of the hill. Andy’s horrid screams were still piercing through my mind, reminding me that I was there, he was hurt, and I was unable to do anything. “Were you the only one here when it happened?” the cop asked me, shaking me from my thoughts.

Suddenly I remembered Andy’s other friend was there and scanned the chaos for him. “No,” I began, “there was somebody else that I didn’t know-There he is!” I had found the other kid running through the neighborhood on the other side of the wall. He was running away from it all…

“Where are your parents?” he asked a few minutes afterwards.

“They’re probably back at home, over there,” I answered, pointing down the street towards my house.

“Can you get them?”

In an instant I had scooped up my bike and was pedaling down the street as fast as I could, gasping for air and nervously thinking over what I was going to tell my parents. After reaching my house, I threw my bike on my lawn and burst through the front door, finding my parents on the couch in the living room. I told them the news through gasps and tears, and my dad ran back to the scene with me, my mom staying home with my younger, four-year old brother.

After meeting up with the cop from earlier, I found that the other policemen were now busy trying to keep the neighbors on top of the hill. Once again, I was flooded with questions as my dad surveyed the chaos around me.

Hours later, paramedics were placing Andy onto a stretcher and wheeled him into the back of an ambulance. Firefighters were finished with their work and left also, leaving behind the shredded metal that used to be Andy’s bike. After the crowd began to leave and the excitement was ending, some of the policeman brought out some white chalk and traced around where the car was and where Andy had landed after the collision.

Why were they doing that? Was Andy going to live? Could I have done something to save him? My mind panicked as the terrifying questions and thoughts swirled in my worries. I felt nervous bits of sweat trickle down my forehead as I continued to shake in fear.

It was three hours later when the policeman asked the final question and asked my father and me to come to the police station later. My dad and I were the last ones to leave the scene, with guilt still drilled inside me. I was sure that there was something that I could have done…I took one final look down the hill glancing at the scrap of metal at the side of the road along with the gray mat that Andy had been placed on. The car was still on the street and the chalk traces still lied there, burning the question of “Death” in my mind, along with the blood, staining the tar.

My night wasn’t over until long after I had returned from the questioning at the police station, yet I couldn’t shake the thoughts from my mind. Andy was going to live, right?

After the terrible crash, the base continued the stonewall that surrounded our neighborhood with a chain metal fence and mowed down the leafy vegetation that had covered the road in a veil. To my relief, my friend, Andy Hampton, returned to school the following Monday with a bad limp and his right ankle in a small cast. He explained that he had the most boring weekend in the hospital without any thrills and that he had only come out with a sprained ankle and scarred legs. I laughed to myself when Andy told the story at school leaving out the parts where he cried and screamed and of course throwing in that he liked the pain. He told everybody that he would definitely do it again without changing a thing, and he was only disappointed that his bike was trashed and that he was grounded for months. What a guy!


The Horse from the Woods – Grains of Life

Reminicing over his life as he stared Death in the face, Sacariss let the excruciating pain sweep over his scaled body, releasing the immense amount of pride that had swelled within him. He quietly accepted his fate, knowing that he was coming to his end. He knew that he must rely his trust upon Nadia and the others. He knew that he was no longer going to be there to lead them. He had used all of his strength, but he was unable to defeat Antracius. Sacariss was still the younger brother. He was not as strong as Antracius, just as no one else was. This was the end…this was his end. Antracius had won…

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