HER

Atwood Inspired Piece

By Cecilia Nakao

A bedroom. White tall walls, white ceiling, the smell of a clean home, a clean soul. Mine or hers? Thick glass windows, a grand door and more walls. The smell of an opulent life. I feel dizzy and sick. I am falling. Walls in the room, walls in the house, walls between us. Pictures in a frame, no, paintings in a frame, on the wall, old and forgotten. I am falling like Alice in this feigned grandeur. I have lost myself. Or am I more myself than I have ever been? Is she dead? Has she been forgotten by everyone, including me?

The flowers in my garden give me hope. They are alive and unchanged amidst all the chaos.  They say we have freedom, but free are the flowers, which grow without interference, who share space and breathe the same air. They say we have freedom to be, to want, to have. She tells me this is a lie. The flowers seem to be free without wanting or having. I don’t understand. I believe them, I try to, at least. Should I not? They take care of me. They give me what I need. Or do they? Maybe her voice is of a mare, an evil womanly spirit, in the nightmares we meet. Maybe she is not real. Maybe she never was. 

I look around for an answer, hoping for a sign, hoping to remember her. The pictures. I gently, but hurriedly, open the drawer. Nothing. I hold my breath. I open all the drawers. I am silently screaming. A string is just about to rip apart inside me. I found them. On the last of the twenty one drawers I open. I go through the pictures. They are old, but they are not hers. I don’t recognize that smile, the other faces in the pictures. I don’t recognize any of it. I don’t want my pictures, I want hers. I am spirling. Everything is moving around me, and I am in the dark, in silence. I feel warm petals falling from a white rose and running through my face. I can’t stop. I’m out of breath. I wake up. 

My body hurts. I must have fallen out of bed, or maybe I was never in it in the first place. I see pills. Pills spilled from an open bottle. So round and tiny, harmless, like the muzzle of a gun. Are they my sleeping pills? They say I shouldn’t take pills, though they still give them to me. The bottle says you should take one pill at a time. Wait. They are not sleeping pills. They’re focus pills. They say they are the best thing to help you be successful. She tells me that is a lie. Why was I asleep then? I don’t remember and I can’t tell. The bottle is tinted black and has no labels, like the one you would imagine Rafael got from the apothecary. No, not Rafael, Roberto. I can’t remember. There is your gold. Money is a worse poison, he said. I could get punished for having memories of this. We are not allowed to read that sort of thing anymore. I don’t remember how many I took. Maybe I never took any, the bottle simply fell and opened. My head hurts. I sit at the edge of the bed and look for the gadget. Eleven thirty AM. I should go downstairs. 

Just as I opened the door, I hear screaming. I hear the voice of a woman. My mother. Screaming at the cook. Or, is she whispering? Is there a difference? She is mad, I can tell. That isn’t allowed. The woman does it anyways, sometimes. I feel sick already. Why is it that this makes my stomach churn? One foot after the other, one foot after the other, what feels like burning four hundred fifty one steps, 451 steps that are burning. My hands are tied, so are my legs, so is my mind. I don’t have a way out. The woman is still harrowingly speaking. She knows she shouldn’t. She is angry, she is furious. She shouldn’t be. It isn’t allowed. I know she is not a bad person, but in the heavier prohibition of good, the only thing she has found to cope with is being bad. They say it is an adaptation. Oh hi Daisy, the woman says. Daisy. That is not my real name. At least not at night, when I close my eyes. It is not her name. I start eating. 

I feel the taste of money. 

I remember trying to ask them, my parents. They looked down, changed the subject. But, she knows. Maybe I remember my old life, the life of those that live outside the walls, the life of those who know the ugly pain of a growling stomach. Maybe I still remember the feeling of fresh air, of being alive, of being free. Maybe I was taken away, without a goodbye. But, maybe that’s all a lie, part of a twisted dream. It’s all a blur. 

I hear her mother’s voice. I love you, she says. I remember what that is. It’s one of the few things. We are not allowed to think about it, nor talk about it, though. Relationships are not allowed anymore and neither are parents supposed to demonstrate any sort of affection. 

I lie on the bed. I see her father. Maybe he’s my father? No, my father is rich. Her father is dead. Perhaps not, but it is easier that way. There is no expectation then, nothing to hang on to. Nothing to breathe for, except what they want. Except for what they expect. He is reading a book. It is red. That is all I remember. I swear. This one has been put into flames, as well as all the other ones he used to read. 

Here, I am told I have power. Power to do whatever I want. Power to change the world. What world? Our world? My world? The world of those who, like us, like them, live inside cages, within infinite iron bars. Bulletproof glass. And bulletproof souls. A clean soul though, or so they say. Clean and pure, focused. The soul destined to success. Isolated souls. But, successful. Rich. 

I go up the four hundred fifty one steps again. I enter my room. No pills. Was it all my imagination? I sit down in the corner. I can’t breathe again. This time I open the bottle, I’m not sure which. I open it and put some in my palm and throw them into my mouth. I want to sleep again, as only in my dreams I can remember her. Only in my dreams can I remember the feeling of the soft touch of another hand. Only in my dreams can I remember the sound of laughter, the sound of tears, the sound of truth. My eyes are starting to shut, uncontrollably, like a child who doesn’t stop crying. I black out. 

I see her. 

When A Birthday Becomes A Goal (Later, A Milestone)

By Gabrielle Pedrosa

This year, an eye-opening experience happened to me.

This story is very personal. It’s one of those ones you talk about vaguely, almost citing a quote you have memorized, and despite it being emotional, deep, and a barring representation of the last few years of my life, people brush it off, lost in the false sense of comfort that can easily be transmitted by a soothing smile of mine and a fake-genuine eye squint. This year, an eye-opening experience happened to me, and I finally feel as if this cycle of my life has come to an end — at least for now — and, with this, came the need to share if only for other people’s entertainment but hoping for a more meaningful impact.

My mom loves throwing parties. She is an artist with an incredible eye for aesthetics and zero fear for trying new things. Naturally, birthdays were the perfect excuse for her to throw the biggest, most beautiful and exciting parties her guests had ever seen. Everyone loved her for this, waiting patiently for the next event she would host. 

This being, on my birthdays, it was obvious that a party would occur. I recall being happy that everyone was having a good time and making lots of new friends, but feeling miserable deep down. Seeing as I would always change into a more comfortable outfit after roaming around for a couple of hours in a dress, it became a habit of mine to take about half an hour longer than I should to complete this task so I could cry and let it all out before regaining enough confidence to go back outside. “Stop being dramatic! You should be grateful” is all I would ever hear. When I was about eight, my therapist came to name this feeling of mine as “social phobia”, and my family was content enough with this explanation for the following years.

Thousands of people would come to my parties — not for me, of course, but for the fun, and I always thought that was how birthday parties were supposed to be. I was raised to believe that my birthday was a day to celebrate the people around me: to offer them nice dinners, give them good entertainment and take away their worries because they were good enough to accept me into their lives, it was never about me. I never questioned this, because I felt good making it about other people. I never quite felt deserving of being in the spotlight anyway. 

When I reached age 12 though, this became a big conflict. I had just switched schools for the first time ever and, as it turned out, I didn’t really enjoy the company of my friends from the last school anymore, which left me with about two friends I trusted and a small class of people who sympathized with me, but didn’t really know me at all.

I needed people to respect and look up to me. I had set that standard early in my childhood for myself, and intended to continue achieving it. But only inviting people I didn’t know for my birthday felt like admitting I had no one else to call, which in my mind would mean, to my new classmates, that no one liked me in my old school. This added up with the notion that I had no one to celebrate because no one in this new class wanted me in their lives (or so I thought) and made me come to the conclusion that I was not worthy of celebrating my birthday anymore. So I stopped.

This took a big toll on my self-esteem and, seeing other people being highly praised on social media for their birthdays when I never was (granted, I never took pictures with people), I felt small and humiliated. As if I was a figure so unworthy of praise that it would be humiliating for the people around me to declare publicly that they were associated with me. Of course there were other aspects that contributed to me having this mentality — me entering puberty being a key factor here — but not feeling like the day I was born in was a good day made me start considering what life would be like without me.

After spending my next two birthdays crying, I became tired and decided to skip my birthday one year. I told no one about it, in hopes that they would forget, and they (mostly) did, even the ones close to me. This made me incredibly sad because, even if I thought this is what I wanted, at the time, I now see that I was looking for the validation of my biggest fear — that no one really cared about me. Deep down, I think I just wanted someone to be grateful for my existence. Looking back, I’m sure several people were, but my self-doubt consumed me whole, making me see the glass completely empty, when in reality, if I just added a tad bit of food coloring, I’d be able to see the water that was there the whole time.

At some point, it became clear to me that I wasn’t crying on my birthday because I was anti-social, but because my self-esteem was completely shattered. At this point, though, it was too late. Feelings of hopelessness and the pressure of trying to be enough to meet my own standards weighed me down too much, making it hard for me to fix it alone. I felt completely isolated. After I turned 15, especially so in my 16th year of life, my birthdays became a goal in my parents’ eyes. They’ve never said this explicitly to me, but we have had enough conversations about this for me to confidently assume that they were scared I wouldn’t make it. Or that I would, and I would feel even worse and spiral into a bad route. So they were especially cautious when I turned 16. I genuinely thought that year would be my last. I was in my fourth school in three years and everything was working out well, yet I felt like no matter the circumstance, it wasn’t about the world — the problem was me, and that didn’t have a fix. Right?

Well, sure, I still think that way sometimes but, according to a professional, this is factually wrong. We can always improve and be better versions of ourselves, but we can’t, in fact, do this when we have an imbalance in our bodies. So I took medication to fix this because, yes, the problem was in me, just was not me, which meant it did have a solution — and an easy one at that. After an intense year of therapy and taking medication correctly, I finally celebrated my 17 years of age this month, and it felt good.

I allowed myself to open up to people and invite a couple of friends to go celebrate with me on a trip. And they complied. Every step of the way, I did my best for them to feel their best, and in return they showed their care and respect towards me. I had my low moments, but they were there for me, sometimes alongside me, and we pulled each other out of it with jokes, smiles, and words of affection. My birthday this year wasn’t about them, nor was it about me. It was about us, celebrating life as a whole, together and feeding from our connection as human beings who are here to help each other grow. I guess this birthday was not only a goal I helped my parents meet, showing them that there’s nothing to worry about anymore, but a milestone for me, too.

Magical Mystery Tour

By Catarina Dantas

“Dad,” I said, “how much longer ‘till we get to the next cable car station?”

“I don’t know,” he answered, “I don’t see any station nearby, we’ll just have to keep going.”

“Can you carry me, I mean, in your back?” I begged. 

“You are too old for that,” was his crude and merciless answer. 

I couldn’t take anymore walking. My lungs were heavining, I started losing my wind and my breath was failing. Muscles I hardly used were put to work, causing my legs to burn like never before. Each step felt like pure torture. 

That moment I sincerely wished I could be a little girl again, so that my father would lift me up like a feather and put me on top of his neck as if in a saddle. I really miss that kind of thing. Why am I too old for that? Growing up is sometimes so inconvenient… 

I still remember the last time my father carried me in this horseback style. My parents had just divorced and it was my first weekend off with my father. I was seven years old and we went to Ipanema beach on that Saturday afternoon. The car keys got wet and the unlock system wouldn’t work anymore. We had to walk all the way back to my grandparents’ house, in Copacabana, to get the spare keys. When I got tired of walking, my father carried me on the back of his neck the rest of the way. The night was falling and we had a lot of fun. Just chatting and singing and enjoying the moment. I felt so glee and joyful, it made me forget all about my parents divorce and the other complications surrounding me.

I can’t say exactly when, but suddenly I got too old for that. Now I was 12 years old and had the Alps before me. I was vacationing in France, where my father lived. I hadn’t seen my father for six months, so I was really excited to be close with him again. We went to Chamonix for a few days of summer in the mountains. My fondest memories of that trip are of the day we decided to go hiking.

At the beginning of that tour everything seemed perfect. The landscape, the beauty of nature, the birds melodies. Suddenly, however, I felt immensely tired and started losing my breath. My father wouldn’t carry me anymore and I had to use my own legs to survive in that mountain wasteland, where no rescue team or helicopters were available. I just wanted to turn back time and become little girl once more.

In vain, Sgt. Pitiless tried to cheer me up. 

“Hey, I think saw a groundhog,” he said, he knew how much I loved groundhogs. 

“Not now dad,” I grumbled. I can hardly speak, how could I possibly care about that?  

“Come on,” he argued, “stop complaining. It’s not gonna help you.”

“We have been hiking for one hour and a half now. I’m tired. I can’t breathe. It’s a lousy way to treat your daughter.” I barely had enough power to complete that sentence. All my strengths had vanished. 

“Just keep going Cat,” he fired back. “Enjoy the road.”

“You are mean and heartless!” I shouted as if it was my last breath of life.

“I know. Keep moving.”

He was right. The rest of the way I tried to get back to the good mood I had at the beginning of the day. My father handed me a chocolate bar and a bottle of water and it somehow lifted up my spirit. We tried to spot groundhogs and chatted about random things. Growing up no longer seemed so bad. Soon enough I was appreciating the view once again. Why was I complaining after all? It was probably one of the most wonderful places I had ever been to. And I loved being with my father. So I started enjoying myself. 

Suddenly, I heard a mechanical noise. When I looked up I saw the cable car. At that moment, I felt a bit sad the journey was about to end. Fortunately, the next cable car would arrive only an hour later. As we had some extra time up there, we decided to explore the surroundings. Soon we found a kind of platform where we could lie in the grass for a while. I contemplated the sky above us, that wonderful cloudless vast blue. Stunning! Then I sat up and gazed at the mountains. In front of us was a cliff, with a perfect row of trees right in the edge. I just sat there, in awe of nature. At this moment I realized how growing up was inevitable and how ,despite this, we are able to hold on to these key moments.

It was then that my father grabbed a stone and went into one of his philosophic moods. 

“Do you know where that pebble was formed?” he asked me.

I shook my head. “No idea.”

“It was formed inside a star,” he answered. “Actually, inside a third generation star, our Sun.”

“What do you mean?” I questioned.

He then started talking about the Big Bang and how the Solar system came to be. He went on and on, lecturing me on the million and one circumstances necessary for life to appear on Earth. I don’t remember his actual words and arguments, but it was quite a jump into hyperspace. The cable car finally arrived, forcing our spaceship to land. 

That was a great day. I had no idea then of its importance to me. After I came back to Brazil and the school year started, I caught myself several times remembering our tour in the Alps and making some surprising analogies with my life as a teenager. Chances are I got some French philosophical virus in the mountains.

Hiking in the Alps was definitely tough, but it helped me comprehend something about growing up. You can have a nice start and all, but eventually problems will appear. Sometimes we are out of shape and the challenges ahead of us require more maturity than we think we have. The road often seems too steep and virtually impossible to climb. We think we will never reach the top and we even realize our parents are no longer able to carry us on their backs. All of a sudden, we need to move with our own legs. In spite of the obstacles in our way, we may find some extra strength, eventually. 

And there is always a chocolate bar, a drink of cool water or a good friend along the way to encourage us. The journey may sometimes be rather steep, but it is also full of stunning views. 

A final word I must save for that little rock from the stars. Life is indeed a great gift and our beautiful planet, a true blessing. While we grow up, even at the hardest moments, we must always bear in mind how lucky we are to take a magical mystery tour in the mountains.

Check out the EAB writes winning pieces!

As most of you may know, the winners for the school’s writing contest have recently been announced:

Poetry winner: Victor Foresti.

Fiction winner: India Eddy.

Nonfiction winner: Madison Holman.

Check out the winning pieces!

Poetry winner: “Untitled collection” by Victor Foresti 

Statistics:

Fluorescent Lamp,

That breaks upon

Scarred skin

To bend us straight.

 

A million shards of

Mercury-silver

flicker, dance n

red mist glows

 

Fountain.

Cracked lip,

Ruined temple.

Curb-stomp that sinks a brow.

 

Pink triangle,

Gestapo punch,

SS kick

The cross swings the final blow.

 

Blood on the streets.

“god and country”

Another dead fag,

Statistics.

 

Axle

The billboards of the Times Square

Have an enamoring glow to them: The

neon the crowd the shopping bags The

movement

This is the Centre of the world

Standing on the centre

I felt a great awe

What happens here is news

What is decided here is fate

 

Here there is no time

For the delays of the periphery Capital is

flung from building to building, Carried

on the briefcases of

The men in suits (who asked if I spoke Spanish).

 

This is the Axle from which the world spins,

But standing on the centre the movement

Is more dizzying?

Standing in the centre

I hear the hollers, the sirens

The destitute cries of beggars

The subway musicians:

The city wails with the sound

Of the turning gears of an empire.

 

My hometown is not as noisy.

 

The concrete is silent, and static,

But the axle’s spin does bleed through.

 

The men in suits

come to the embassy.

 

I’ve seen a Marine or two.

 

Not that they are needed:

An empire is a participative thing.

       It sends mixed blessings our way,

The concrete is silent, and static,

And our parents envision themselves

In miami; wish for amazon shipping.

 

Yes an empire is a curious thing:

When I was a child i wrote stories about

Johns and Roberts. They ate bacon,

(Which I had never seen).

 

And it’s with its language

That I articulate my criticisms

 

 

An empire is a curious thing:

I share an accent

With the men in suits.

 

 

The white boy looks at rivers.

Inspired by The Negro Speaks of Rivers, by Langston Hughes.

 

I think of the sorrow song

sung ashore the volga:

 

Men in rags hauling

Barges on leather shoulders

And oaken trunks.

 

I’ve heard the dark blues

Of the old Mississippi.

My pillows bear its saline scent.

 

The Euphrates, the Neva, the river Nile:

Lifelines that have been drenched in blood,

For as long as it’s flown in human veins.

 

They bear witness to those

whose bodies were carried downstream,

And to those bodies that sought, with cupped hands

For refreshment.

 

Rivers so far from home,

Flow into me like the unrelenting mud

In the São Francisco

 

I’ve yet to know rivers:

To chart them from source to estuary

I’m left to stray the shores,

peruse the beached relics

 

From the balcony I behold the streams,

I see the uniformed shrouds who bring concrete to silence the water.

 

Thunder! I can hear trumpets and grave voices

The riptide charges through their sterile barricades like cavalry!

The river flows on: a determined witness, a bold emissary.

 

No dam or dich can dare tide

The cries of Hughes and Robeson.

Their voices thunder with the rapids

 


Fiction winner: “Broken Anchors” by India Eddy

“Are you just gonna’ pretend this isn’t real?” Those were the first words she said to me after it happened. Weeks after it happened. Three, to be exact. “That’s what you do, Felix. You ignore the facts! You lock yourself in your sad library of a room and you pretend that life isn’t happening around you! You close yourself off, Felix. You put yourself in another world entirely so that you- goddammit, FELIX! I’ve said your name three times now! Three times and you won’t even spare me a glance! You can’t stop looking at-” and she chokes. Her breath catches in her throat.

“Felix, I know we aren’t your favourites but at least we’re still here; dad and I. We’re real.” And it fell silent again. I could feel her eyes boring into my skull. I didn’t need to look at her, I knew exactly the face she was wearing; eyes watery and red, her teeth digging into her bottom lip to keep herself from breaking into tears at that very moment, her cheeks would be tear-stained and her gaze would be desperate.

“Felix, talk to me.” She says, an order, yet you can sense sympathy in her voice. “I know I’ve never been your favourite; even when it was just the two of us, your mind was never off your friends. Never off her.” I can hear her swallowing. I can hear everything. “But you don’t have them anymore! News flash, Felix-” she spits my name like it’s sour on her tongue “-you lost them all! You changed after mum died. We all expected it, but we thought you’d turn back around in a few months. Thought you’d open your mouth again. They waited for you, you know! Poor Alex came by every day for a year! Ayear, Felix! And every day you let him down! And now you’ve lost her, too! The last one you had left after you went completely fucking mental! I’m all you’ve got left now, Felix! You’ve gotta come back to me!” She stops. She swallows. She sniffles, wiping her eyes. “Please.”

I didn’t answer her. All I could manage was to lick my bottom lip and keep staring forward. I could hear her readjust herself, uncomfortable in her own skin. I at least knew that feeling. Without even sparing a glance, I could see every detail on her face; the slight scowl on her lips, the reflecting tears on her dark freckles, the red rims around her eyes. “Alright, Felix. Just keep staring at the grave, expecting her to come back like we’re all part of one of your stupid movies! Dad and I will be waiting for when you get your head out of your ass.”

She stayed for a moment, breathing heavily before she turned away and left me, not quite alone, in a grey mist; not literally, but the words she spat hung heavy in the air and made it hard to breathe, a fog in of itself, slithering down my throat and into my lungs.

“I’m sorry,” I whisper to nobody; maybe to the sister that had left me, or maybe to the one who had left everyone. “Is that what I do? Pretend things aren’t real. Am I doing that right now?” I’m sitting down now, cross-legged on fresh dirt. “I don’t know.” My breath formed frost on my lips. “One- uh…

one last piece of advice for me? Just… just one more.” I rolled a speck of dirt between my fingers, willing tears to come, willing to react like a human for once in my life. “What should I do?”

There’s no response. Of course there’s not. No matter how many times I watch The Walking Dead, it won’t ever be real… that’s not necessarily a bad thing, of course.

Without another word, I push myself back to my feet and leave my sister alone forever. A name and a quote carved into graphite watch my back until I disappear behind a willow tree; “Amelia Monroe. We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

And now I’m back in a room with drawn curtains and no lights. A book sits open on my lap, but I pay no attention to the print. Instead, my eyes are focused on the white four-panel door, which failed as soundproofing from the voices downstairs. Two voices I know better than my own.

“I’m sick of always trying to fix him!” This one’s Katy – the sister from the cemetery. “I don’t need to be fixed,” I whisper to myself in response.

“He’s in pain!”

“We’re all in pain, dad! Some of us just know how to deal with it like actual human beings!” “He is a human being!”

“Really? Because-” Katy starts.

And I finish with her: “I’m not so sure.”

And as they keep yelling beneath me, I plug earphones into my ears and slide open my window. It’s a twelve-foot drop, but I have done it enough times to know how to land without injury.

I knew where I wanted to end up when I started running, but I didn’t know how I wanted to get there.

“Truth or dare!” Her voice cuts into my skull and sends a shiver through my chest and into my heart. “Come on, Fee! We need to pass the time somehow!” Our mum had just gone out to get us dinner. It was the last time we saw her alive.

“Fine, but nothing too crazy,” I said with a smile. “Dare.” “I dare you… to lick the floor!”

“Lia! Come on!”

“Do it!” She was my older sister, and I cared about her more than anything, and I was having fun. So I did. “Oh, yes! Okay, my turn! Truth.”

“Lame! Okay, if you had to kill me, Katy, mum, or dad, who would you do?” “Dare.”

“Nu-uh! You can’t just change your answer like that! Me, Kate, mum, or dad?”

“Uh… mum. Your turn.” This answer had me shocked. I was certain she was going to pick Katy… or dad. None of them had ever gotten along that well, but she left me no time to ponder. “Come on, truth or dare?”

“Truth.”

“Alright… Katy’s your twin, but you always hang out with me, why?” “I like you better. Your go.”

And that’s how the night went on until we heard a phone ring. And we heard our dad’s voice say ‘hello.’ And we heard our dad’s voice say ‘yes, this is he.” And we heard our dad’s voice say ‘oh God’ over and over and over again.

He came out to us with tear-stained cheeks and sat on the white sofa next to where we were huddled together on the floor.

“There’s been an accident.” Amelia’s immediate reaction was to cover my ears, but she couldn’t prevent these four words from slithering through my ears and into my brain. Travelling down my spine and tracing my ribs, diving into my heart and ripping it apart so each scrap left was smaller than a fingernail.

He tried to explain what had happened to us delicately, but it was useless. I clung onto Amelia like my life depended on it, and she just pressed me tighter to her chest with every word that came out of his mouth. But I didn’t cry. And I think that’s what made it worse.

Our worlds had just been ripped apart, but we had each other. We would always have each other.

Or so I thought.

I’m at my destination now. I’m standing up on the asphalt ledge of a bridge that has gone untravelled for years. Now it’s just me and the eternal drop to oblivion; not the worst company, if I’m honest.

I was a boat with two anchors, one of which was broken two and a half years ago, while the other was cut exactly three weeks ago. I was now adrift at sea in my mind. And I was sick of my feet being on the ground while my mind was drowning in a bloody ocean.

So I stepped over the chipped red railing and stood on my heels on the edge of death.

But was I being selfish? I wasn’t the only one who lost a mother and a sister. I wasn’t the only one in pain.

“We’re all in pain, dad! Some of us just know how to deal with it like actual human beings!”

Would this make her pain worse or would it relieve it? I know I’m her last sibling left.

But I know that the way she talked about me earlier made my tongue sour. She doesn’t need me around.

Nobody does.

I could feel my fingers loosening on the rail.

The wind howled in my ear, flattening me to the rusty railing of a gloomy bridge before it changed direction.

I could feel myself letting go.

I just hoped everybody else would, too.

 


Nonfiction winner: “The Angel’s Grasp” by Madison Holman

The third-person omniscient. When the narrator knows the thoughts and feelings of the character in the story. And that’s what a lot of people feel I think. About what happened. Yet what if the narrator and the character are one, yet she knows more than the character herself? To think that, would be an oxymoron in itself, a self-contradiction, but for what rhetorical point?

But that’s how it is.

The move was from California, to might-as-well-have-been “uncharted territory” for the family. The “other coast”. Say it with a certain distaste, like smelling the wafting steam of unknown contents from a tupperware container, and you understand that the West coast was held in superiority to that of the East Coast.

And so was it anyone’s fault that no one assumed that a pit stop in good old Bountiful, Utah to bid our farewells to my parents families, which by this time, we hoped, weren’t as heartbroken at the prodigal son, would be where our ship would derail and disappear into sorts of a bermuda triangle.

One of those nights I had a seizure. I was four. I was choking, compulsing, kicking, and throwing up, all the while I was unresponsive. The doctors estimated I was caught in the Tonic-Clonic seizure for more than 12 minutes. The emergency medic team were called and they came trooping into the house, drugging me in attempts to wake me up. By this time the whole neighborhood was awake – the house falling apart in hysterics. All the while I was unresponsive. I was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance and then emergency life flighted to a primary children’s hospital in a helicopter. All the while I was unresponsive. I was determined to be showing symptoms of spinal meningitis – an extremely contagious infection of the fluid and membranes around the brain and spinal cord, that causes brain damage in a matter of hours and is fatal within 24 hours. It was then that the ER medics donned their hazmat suits and stretched their gloves over their hands, and carted me to quarantine. All the while I was still unresponsive. Only when they unsheathed the syringe to extract a sample of spinal fluid did I wake up.

The pleading prayers turned into praises. I was definitely well enough to know that the looming aliens with wickedly gleaming weapons couldn’t be a dream, and that the strach, stiff sheets of a silent hospital ward weren’t

the same sheets I went to bed wrapped up in at Nana and Papa’s house, and with my blood cutting screaming before what looked to be my murderers couldn’t have but told just about every patient of my regaining of consciousness.

The funny part is, however ironic in a definitely not funny story, that that was it. If you try to pry and coax the end out, you’ll only find that we’ve already arrived there.

I stayed at the hospital for days afterwards. I was to never be the same Madison Anne – with definite brain damage and debilitating learning disabilities. I would have a slow recovery, regardless of the final diagnosis – but that never came.

Undiagnosed. The cause of the seizure. The cause of my recovery. The cause of no retaliation.

I think it’s the jealousy at the innocence. That’s what it is. With a situation that the mind could have only have used to exploit a plethora of memories, he took few. I have but three memories from the days at the hospital. Drawing on a doll sized hospital gown so the provided cloth doll that I was given would match me. Crying when my mom explained I couldn’t get up to go pee and that instead I would do that through a tube. Being pulled by my aunt Heather in a red wagon past a fish tank. All are two seconds stints of flashbacks that I can draw back on.

But I don’t really know anything else. It would be a lie to tell you that I know all of the floof before, between, and after those three memories. I was there. Nothing happened while everything happened.

And so when I say that I am but a third person omniscient narrator to my own character it is because I myself will never know.  Once upon a time, maybe I did know. Maybe I could feel my brain still rebelling, the essence of nothingness, and the imploding pain that raced through my entire existence. Yet even now, as I know the most I’ve ever known, I know the least amount I ever knew.

That is what I will never get. Like a toddler that doesn’t get the candy bar that gleams on a shelf that always seems out of reach. They turn into a disastrous tornado of flailing limpness and extravagant vocals. Until the deadly whispered threats and clamping hands of parents throw them back into the cart. I too, was drawn to something. The possibility, perhaps, of another reality that contained the Madison Anne i was destined to wake up as that day.

Maybe her blue eyes and blonde curls beckoned to me that day. But, unbenounced to me, something pulled me away. It held me back. And so I became conscious, never having been able to reach the girl that could have been.

How EAB Students & Staff Celebrated Carnival 2019

By Emma Holm-Olsen

From Rio de Janeiro to Buenos Aires, the students and staff of the American School of Brasilia jetted off to exotic places all over the region to celebrate one of the most beloved and entertaining holidays, as well as to participate in some of the world’s largest parties. Carnival, a Western Christian and Greek Orthodox holiday that occurs before Lent, the period of repentance and cleansing after two or three days of ‘sinning’, has always been considered a religious holiday. Of course it still is, but in the last few decades has strayed away from it’s religious connotations in efforts for companies and destination vacation spots to make money and of course for people to just let loose and have fun for a few days. That being said, people generally go a bit crazy during those few days with partying until the early hours of the morning with lots of eating and drinking, and all around merry-making. Although the religions that celebrate Carnival and Lent frown upon any kind of partying or pleasure taking from Ash Wednesday on, many people tend to ignore that “guideline”.

Anyway, back to how people actually spent the week-long vacation! As for me, the extent of my celebration was a bit of glitter and a venture downtown to take part in a “bloquinho” devoted to bringing back classic Carnival Bossa Nova music. (News flash- this was my parents’ idea but I went with the flow, as you do with parents).

High school Junior Sarah Wiggins travelled to Argentina for the week

Other students and teachers had much more interesting breaks. High school Junior Sarah Wiggins travelled to Argentina for the week and had a spectacular time. “Over Carnival I traveled to the deservedly famous, Buenos Aires, in which I was able to dip my toes in the culture and qualities of the beautiful city. The trip consisted of many steps in exploring the city and even more bites of the diverse and amazing foods that could be found on every street”, Sarah said in an interview earlier this week. “We then went to Mendoza, a much smaller city, which was a lot less bustling than Buenos Aires with its serene atmosphere and wonderful landscapes… there were vineyards full of sweet grapes for the harvest season that stretched as far as the eye could see.” I would say that’s a pretty nice way to spend a week off! Other students stayed within Brazil, but still found ways to get the most out of their carnival break. One of my fellow classmates, who preferred to remain anonymous, went to Rio for a few days, where she visited Cristo Redentor, the Escadaria Selaron (the famous mosaic steps near Lapa), as well as took part in the festivities of the Sambadrome parades over the weekend. The Sambadrome parades in Rio de Janeiro is the largest Carnival celebration worldwide, with the festivals dating back as early as 1723. Obviously it’s still going strong with more than two million people on the streets every year. Students weren’t the only ones who took advantage of the holiday, though. High School English teacher, David Sweetman drove 16 (!) hours to Paraty for the week where he spent the days on a schooner sailing around the islands; at the gorgeous coastal municipality of Ubatuba; going to see a form of puppet theatre known as Ban Raku, as well as visiting the famous Basilica and National Shrine to Nossa Senhora Aparecida. High School Biology teacher Erin Kahle stayed in Brasilia, with her family, the first few days of break to avoid the raucous Carnaval crowds. Around the area though, they visited the Itiquira waterfall where her husband, English teacher Andrew Jones, hiked to the top with some friends. They also went to Trancoso, Bahia where they got some well deserved rest at the beautiful beaches while spending time with some other EAB teachers and families. 

As you can see from these students and many more, EAB is a very diverse school, thus making sense that our students travel to far-off places to spend their week off. I hope everyone had a great break, no matter where they went (or didn’t go!), and that we are all well-rested (well actually, I’m not so sure about well-rested with all of that partying we did!) and ready to return to the seemingly endless days and very small amounts of sleep, of school- obviously (*sarcasm definitely intended*) our most favorite way to spend our precious days;)  

 

Things to Look Forward to in 2019

By Luiza Boiteux and Huat Hee Chiang

The moment of glory has finally arrived: 2018 is coming to an end.

Perhaps you’re wondering why this is a moment of glory if you’re like me and the fact that we’re already in December has caused you to drown in existential dread and made you think about how quickly time passes and that we’re all marching toward an unavoidable sad and lonely death.  *clears throat*  But enough of that. I’ll give you some reasons to be excited about 2019. Just think: soon enough all of the tiring school work will be over and a brand new year is going to come for you to make things right (and maybe work out your fear of existence).  

Films

Movies are probably the first thing that comes to mind when we talk about what’s to come in 2019. The first movie coming out is Pokemon Detective Pikachu, which portrays a world where people collect Pokémon for battle. Some beloved childhood favorites will also be making come-backs to the big screen all the while sending older generations immense nostalgia. We are of course talking about the new Disney live-action re-makes, such as Dumbo and Lion King. Toy Story 4 also comes out on June 20, 2019. And for the superhero fanatics, Captain Marvel will be released as well. This movie tells the story of Carol Danvers, who becomes one of the universe’s most powerful heroes, when Earth was caught in the middle of a galactic war between two alien races.

Speaking of superheroes, don’t forget about the sequel to Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, which comes out on April 2019! Its teaser trailer was released in recent weeks, and it’s already expected to top its prequel’s box office of 2.05 billion USD!

Games

Now for the people that spend their entire days neglecting assignments to finish that one level of a game, here is some good – or bad – news for you. The most beloved action role-playing game, Kingdom of Hearts III, will be released. Days Gone, an action adventure game, will also be coming out next year on April 26.

An eagerly anticipated game, Cyberpunk 2077, can also be expected to be released in 2019, though its release date is officially still to be decided. Set fifty-seven years later in dystopian Night City, California, it is a role playing game which explores the cyberpunk sub-genre (hence the name, duh). It is developed by CD Projekt, which is important because they are the same developers of the Witcher 3, the winners of the 2015 Game of the Year Award.

Music

In 2019 lots of great artists will be dropping new albums to please our ears. Firstly, there is Maggie Rogers with the album Heard It in a Past Life, with pop songs mixed with folk imagery. After that Dodie releases her new album Human, with hits such as “If I’m Being Honest” and “Burned Out”. Backstreet Boys will be coming back with their new album DNA and Dream Theater, a progressive metal band, will also be releasing the album Distance Over Time.

 

See you in the new year!

 

 

 

Image Source: Garcia, Kelsey. “For Everyone Who Thought Disney’s Lion King Remake Was Going to Be Live-Action . . .” POPSUGAR Tech, 27 Nov. 2018, http://www.popsugar.com/entertainment/Disney-Lion-King-Remake-Animated-45521891.

STUDENT REVIEW: 2018 Senior Haunted House

By Fatima Kane 

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The Senior Haunted House was undoubtedly one of the highlights of EAB’s Halloween party on Saturday. Modeled after a haunted psychiatric hospital, this haunted house had a line a mile long – and for good reason. Much of the high school hallways and classes were converted into the building of a spooky mental institution: hallways transformed into dark, cobwebbed passages for visitors, frightening classroom scenes, a doctor’s room for the truly “bad” patients, and another one just for the haunted dolls. The awesome decor made you feel as if you were truly in a haunted mental institution.

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Credit should also be given to the frighteningly good actors (or “patients”) of the Haunted House who made the mental ward seem so real. Costumes were done up to the max with deathly-looking makeup, fake blood and fake eye contacts all contributing to scaring the living daylights out of the visitors. The acting was also amazing; the seniors became completely immersed in their roles and definitely succeeded in the task of scaring the visitors with their screams, rants, and psychotic tantrums.

All in all, this year’s Haunted House was a huge success and we can’t wait for next year’s!

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Managing the PSAT Stress

By Caroline Morvan

Every October in classrooms of schools around the world, high school juniors and sophomores gather to take the PSAT.

Short for “preliminary SAT,” the PSAT helps students, parents, and guidance counselors get a sense of the kind of work students need to do to prepare for the SAT or ACT, and can also help with initial expectations for a student’s college prospects. Particularly strong scores can lead to recognition by the National Merit Scholarship program, which in turn can lead to more money or other positive interest for colleges.

Therefore, it’s not surprising that this test usually generates a sense of anxiety among students who are going to take it. This October 24th, the day of the test, was no different: EAB sophomores and juniors who were about to enter the testing room were a bit anxious. “Considering the fact that I’m American I was kinda nervous scholarship-wise,” said sophomore student Isabelle Bautista.

At the end of the day, the PSAT is not something students should be stressing out about. This practice test can even help reduce the juniors’ and sophomores’ stress, since it gives a sense of what it’s going to be like in the final run. “When I got too nervous I reminded myself not to be too stressed about it, for it’s not the official SAT but a practice one and it would give me a good sense for what the real [one] would be like,” said Isabelle.

In terms of what we have discussed about success this past week, it seems that the 2018 PSAT was successful, for students walked out of the test a lot more confident about taking the SATs in their senior year. Junior Valentina Foresti said that although she did not study for the test she felt it was quite easy, especially the math section.

And in the words of the sophomore Fatima Kane:

Students shouldn’t worry too much about it because they will have plenty of time to improve their SAT score before colleges see. 

 

Image Source: 

Vives, Ruben. “Taking the SAT Is Hard Enough. Then Students Learned the Test’s Answers May Have Been Leaked Online.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 27 Aug. 2018, http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-sat-exam-leaked-20180827-story.html.

Behind the Scenes of “the Miracle Worker”

The Room’s a Wreck, But Her Napkin is Folded: The Incredible Amount of Patience That Went into Producing the “Miracle Worker”

By Madison Holman and Emma Holm-Olsen

Let’s face it. You probably struggle to even walk up the stairs without tripping over your own feet in the dark. But if you thought that was hard, try adding a blindfold that would completely handicap your eyes. And might as well add a pair of ear plugs in there too, while we’re at it. Now I know you’re probably thinking – I thought we were talking about the play, not role-playing being blind and deaf. Welcome to the world of method acting – a world where if it’s written you’re blind, you bet your eyes will be of no use. Or welcome to the world of the four girls that are casted as Helen Keller, a blind and deaf girl in the late 1800s of America that learned how to speak, in EAB’s production of “Miracle Worker.”

When asked what the hardest thing about the play has been so far, director Kate Riley answered: “I wanted to give as many people as possible the opportunity to play a giant leading role, so I double-cast, but then I cast 4 Helens. So we’re going to have four productions, with one Helen [Keller] for each cast … We need about 480 hours of rehearsing that we have to fit into somewhere around 120-130 hours of rehearsal.”

Sure enough she was right; this play has been incredibly time-consuming and tiring. Eleventh grader Thomas Brassanini playing Captain Keller, Helen’s father, told us that memorizing lines was especially difficult.

It was hard because Keller’s lines are pretty wordy, very long, and very specific, so to actually get it word for word was very tough.

But aside from the difficult lines written in “old-timey” language that many of the cast members have been struggling with, we also all had to learn accents for the show- southern accents for most of us- while the girls playing Annie Sullivan had to pull out an Irish accent.

So then there was learning the accents, which range from a mild Greek, to an Irish to an Alabamian southern accent. Ninth grader Abe Barlow, playing James Keller, Helen’s brother, said:

You can start by trying to learn the accent, but what’s hard is getting into the rhythm to be able to switch back and forth between your normal voice and the accent you’re trying to portray.

But even though this is a pretty difficult production to put on, co-director and former EAB student Jader Neto says he is incredibly proud of the work that has been put into this show: “Well, I’m proud because this is my first time directing anything, and I’m proud to see all of my friends who have been acting mates in the past getting this play, [which is] not an easy play by any account … The play’s coming through really nicely, and it’s really good to see all the effort everyone is putting in is coming together into this, like, piece of art, that will definitely touch people.”

The cast couldn’t agree more. We’ve all had so much fun working on this show, and we hope that the audience gets as rich an experience out of seeing it as we got working on it. The story of Helen Keller is unbelievably important, especially nowadays when people have started to forget her life’s accomplishments. I think the two of us speak for everyone when we say we feel incredibly grateful to be a part of the retelling of this amazing story.

 

Come see the “Miracle Worker” on Thursday November 8 at 7:30 pm, Friday November 9 at 4 pm and 7:30 pm, and Saturday November 10 at 3pm. We hope to see you all there and we can’t wait to share with you all of our hard work!

Why I Chose to Perform

By Alma Sato 

This is my first time participating in the Talent Show and I’m pretty excited about it! One of the reasons I’m participating in the Talent Show is to create a nice memory with my father, who loves music and likes to perform in front of an audience. Since I will be graduating soon and leaving the house, I thought this would be a great opportunity where I could sing with my father on a stage. The Talent Show has also allowed me to spend time together with my father while we were practicing our song. I really enjoyed this time with him, since both of us are usually busy and don’t have much time to be together.

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Aside from performing with my father, I will be playing violin by myself. I wanted to do this because I have never performed the violin alone before. The song is usually played together with the piano but I really wanted to try out a solo performance. I worked really hard to put emotion into the piece while also applying different tones. I hope the audience enjoys the melody and rhythm of the song!

Even though I’m nervous about playing in front of so many people, I want to show other people what I’m passionate about and provide an entertaining moment for them.