by E.M.Miles, 7th
You fell in love with those days. Those long, endless summer days when the air was hot and heavy and smelled like honey and flowers and fat bees bumbled everywhere and the creeks giggled and the rivers laughed and the lakes sat as still as time and as smooth as glass, not a ripple in sight. Those days that were full of swimming in the cool rivers and icy glasses of lemonade and reading comic books and old romance novels that were scattered on the porch and swinging in the creaky wooden swing in the late afternoon while you waited for dinner, which always came with much gaiety and laughter outside on the picnic table.
And who could forget those summer evenings where you caught fireflies in jars (but always let them go), and ran around doing cart wheels on the grass while the adults watched and spoke about things as quietly as they could because they didn't want you to hear, but it didn't matter because you weren't listening because who cared about grown-up problems when it was summer and you felt like you owned the world. And you loved that feeling of sinking down on to your soft bed after a long, full day, with the sweet and precious pleasure of knowing that you didn’t have to wake up to a blaring alarm clock at 6 tomorrow, that you could sleep as late as you wanted. You loved that feeling just as much as you loved falling asleep wondering if the sun really did go down at night, because it was there when you woke up and there when you went to sleep.
Yes, summer was your season, without a doubt. You always seemed to glow the brightest in summer. Your brown hair was suddenly streaked with blonde. Your skin darkened, and you loved to press your bare arm to your pale, flat belly and exclaim, “look how tan I am!” New freckles bloomed across your cheeks like the flowers in the meadow. (Your freckles were never orange, by the way. They were always a soft, sweet brown, only a shade lighter than your eyes.) In fact, your whole demeanor was flower-like. It was as if, during all the other seasons, you were waiting, arranging your petals, getting ready. Then, in the summer, you uncurled, you spread your petals in a burst of new colors and light and beauty.
In other words, you bloomed. And everyone thought you were so pretty, so full of light and happiness.
Everyone loved you.
Everyone but me.
by Wren Ruby, 6th
I was sitting, heaving my teal helmet over my head. My heart shattered out of my chest, and my body felt light, as if I had no bones in me. The sticky air clung to my skin like hot lemonade with the scent of redwood trees wavering.
I couldn’t. The freefall stared back at me, daring me to jump.
I opened my mouth to ask for it. But I couldn’t.
When voices broke out, pulling me out from my unconsciousness, I had to. I heard carabiners open and anxiety ringing in my ears.
When a long rope hung from my waist, I knew I couldn’t back out. Then I pulled myself forward with momentum, and felt my body flying through thin air. I was defenseless against the wind. My blood dropped to my ankles. I began to feel lightheaded, as my legs and arms went numb, like big, heavy, cement mittens. I felt my vision become foggy just as the zipline slowed to a sight of trees and a wood platform. A man stared at me. “First zipline?” he chuckled, pulling off my rope. My hands shook as I wrapped my shaking fingers around the steps of the ladder, and I climbed down.
The voice of a girl rang out, and I felt her skinny arms wrap around me. “Are you okay?”
by B.Bolt, 10th
A noble warrior, stricken with grief, goes to meet his lady love in the gardens after nightfall. He has just learned she has been having an affair in the days leading up to their wedding, and he seeks to confront her.
Lady: What is thy reason for pursuing me mere? My heart is glad yet my mind warns me of thy demeanor. Have you some grievance I can assuade?
Warrior: Yea, a grievance plagues my thoughts of late. Tell me, dear heart, if a friend more dear to me than mine own cousin were to betray me, cast mine heart and mine pride into the dust, how wouldst thou have me repay them?
Lady: Why, my love, a great distress hath taken thy heart indeed to turn such a gentle soul as you to anger. From whence did this news fly, and wherefore didst thou come to me?
Warrior: The deed was betrayed by its own secrecy, unguarded from prying eyes and listening ears. Tell me, my love, my betrothed, tell me what mine response shall be!
Lady: If thou hath been wronged so as to abandon thy nature in favor of fury, shouldst thou not turn it toward the very man who wronged you? Challenge him, and learn of his motives. Yea, under the shadow of your mighty sword shall the truth be revealed.
Warrior: Yet I am trapped! Scorned would I be to draw my sword on such a maiden as you! Reveal to me the man who shared your bed last eve! Who shall I challenge if not you, the very soul who hath wronged me thus! Nay, I shall not draw my sword. Yet, why for this deed should I not kill you where you sit? Our marriage is advised by all, yet how can I profess my love for thou before them whilst thou did not see fit to save the same for me? Grief I feel, not anger. For the the love I have impressed unto you in word and deed was not false. Yet now I learn that thoust was a lie! Thy do not deny it, nay your lips remain sealed. Shall I take your silence, for penance, for remorse, or dost thy refrain from speaking for fear of exposing thy own guilt? Thus thy rip my heart from my very chest and crush the life from it with thy cold fist. With my grief confirmed I may as well die, for worth there is in living no more without thy love. Thou hath used me as a puppet is used by the jester, and my happiness is ripped away by slender strings. Thus I curse you, temptress, as I go to my death! Curse you, curse you and a thousand times curse you! Let it be known that my blood drips from your hands!
by Hazel Grace, 6th
You know that feeling when your stomach drops when you’re going down a roller coaster? That’s how I felt when I didn’t see my mom after I sat up....
December 28, 2014
“Alright, everyone get in the truck!” My grandpa told us to get loaded in the vehicle, as he was strapping in the two 4 wheelers. We began our short drive to the mountain.
“Did you remember the hot cocoa?” I asked.
“Yes,” my mom told me.
“And all the snacks?”
“Yes,” she said again.
When we got to the trailhead, we started to unload all our gear. While my grandpa prepared the 4 wheelers, my mom, Heather, my sister, Lydia, and I took out the helmets, food and everything else we needed for fun afternoon ride in the beautiful forest. Helmets on, we settled ourselves on the 4 wheelers. I rode on the back of the seat of my mom’s 4 wheeler, and Lydia went with my grandpa. I was nervous, and excited, but mostly nervous.
We started riding up the mountain. I could smell a rich, woodsy scent and see the colorful trees. Before long, we were out of the dense woods, moving up a steep curvy hill on a gravelly road, with a huge drop on the side. I tried not to look down. Once up the mountain, we were in the trees again. My knees were shaking and my teeth were chattering.
“Can we stop for snack now?” I asked.
“Yeah,” Lydia agreed.
“We can stop after we get down this trail,” my grandpa assured us.
“Okay,” I said.
The trail was long and bumpy. There were a lot of rocks and roots and it was steep down hill. Each bump was a little worse than the last. When we finally reached the bottom and came to a flat part, we stopped and got off the vehicles. My knees were still shaking. We opened the snack container and poured hot chocolate into little travel mugs.
“Ahhh.” A long sigh of relief escaped my mouth as I slowly sipped the hot chocolate. The sweetness soothed my nerves and helped me enjoy the outdoors. We laughed and took in the lush forested surroundings. After we finished our snack, we got back on the trail. I felt a little more relaxed, but still wrapped my arms around my mom as tightly as I could.
Later that day…
“We have a decision to make,” my grandpa declared.
“We can either go to see the bridges that go over the creek, which means we’ll have to go a little farther, or we can turn back now.”
I was cold, but I was intrigued. “What do you want to do, Lydia?” I usually deferred to my older sister when I was ambivalent.
“I’m good either way,” said Lydia.
“Me too,” I agreed.
“Why not? Let’s keep going,” my mom joyfully exclaimed.
“Alright then, let’s get going, we are running out of daylight,” my grandpa warned.
After a while we came to a big, steep, and muddy hill. I could feel my heart start beating faster. I could see that my grandpa and Lydia were struggling to get up the hill. Then it was our turn. I could feel the 4 wheeler slipping, the tires losing traction. We were halfway up the hill and....
“Get off, Elliot!” my mom screamed. I could barely hear her but I could hear the urgency in her voice. “We are going over!”
As I rolled off the 4 wheeler, I could see the world spinning around me. Everything happened in a blur. The swirl of trees, gray sky, and then, THUMP! I hit the muddy ground.
You know that feeling when your stomach drops when you’re going down a roller coaster? That’s how I felt when I didn’t see my mom after I sat up....
I looked around and all I saw was the 4 wheeler and the forest. I felt the tears roll down my cheeks as I heard big footsteps coming down the hill. I looked up at my grandpa as he trudged down the mountain. Then I saw her. My mom was trapped under the 4 wheeler. He walked up the hill again. I heard him speaking to Lydia.
“What happened?” Lydia asked.
“Well, your sister fell off and your mom broke her leg.” My grandpa replied calmly.
Lydia and my grandpa hiked down, I was still sitting there in the mud, tears streaming down my face. I stood up and walked down after them.
I felt even more wetness on my face. It had started to rain. Drizzling at first and then the clouds began to steadily release bigger wet drops of rain. It was getting colder, and the rain began falling faster. My grandpa couldn’t lift the 700 pound machine off my mom by himself, so he had to ride the 4 wheeler off of my mom. My mom was screaming like she was dying, crushed by not only the weight of the machine, but the movement of it being ridden off of her. Lydia and I went off to the side of the trail while my grandpa tried helping her onto the 4 wheeler. My mom was howling in pain, telling my grandpa to take us to safety and leave her behind. He of course would never leave my mom. There was only one thing to do.
All four of us piled on to the larger of the two 4 wheelers; me in the front on top of the gas tank, my grandpa behind me, my mom behind him, and my sister Lydia barely sitting on the edge of the seat behind my mom. We slowly rode over bumps, and rocky terrain for about half an hour, my mom moaning and crying over every single jostle. Broken bones rubbing against each other was more tortuous than the break. Finally, we were able to get a cell signal, as before, there was no service to even call for help. My grandpa called 9-1-1 and my grandma, and gave the location we would be arriving at to meet the ambulance. Nearly 30 minutes later, we arrived at the trailhead, and the ambulance was waiting for us.
The paramedics helped my mom into the ambulance and my grandpa went with her. My grandma was there to pick us up and took us back to her house. Later, we went to the hospital to see my mom. The doctor said that she had broken her leg, in two places above her ankle. The tibia and fibula were broken clean through, but fortunately, not through the skin. My mom had to stay in the hospital for a week before she could come back to California, so my dad flew to Oregon to come pick us up.
When my mom came home, we had to change a lot of things so she could get better. She was on crutches for two months and couldn’t drive or go to work. My dad made a lot of dinners and took us to school every day. It was hard to see my mom unable to get up and play with us, but eventually she got better, and now she is healed, and it’s almost like the accident never happened. That is, except for the titanium metal rod and pins that will always be inside of her leg.
Recently, my mom went back to the spot on trail where the accident took place and and reflected on what happened more than 4 years ago. My grandpa has created more than 50 trails that connect in the mountains, and there are names for every trail. Most have handmade signs designating the trailhead. He named the trail where we fell on that beautiful and terrible day.
The sign reads Heather’s Bones.
by T.S.Green, 7th
The yellow bowl, once filled with raspberries, sits on the counter empty. The delicious, pink berries were from our neighbor Tony.
“Why don’t you come with me to return the bowl,” my dad says.
“Sure,” I grab the bowl. We walk down our steps, through the walkway bursting with weeds, up some steps again, and onto Tony’s porch.
My dad rings the bell and Tony opens the door and then the screen. I thank him for the berries while handing him the bowl. Without hesitation, Tony invites us in. He tells us he’s making pizza, and sure enough, the house smells of tomato sauce. Tony is Italian and he’s lived in the house next door since my dad was a kid. His garden is filled with fruit trees and vegetables, and he makes the best pasta and pizza I’ve ever had. When we walk into his kitchen, tomatoes from his garden are boiling into sauce on the stove; a tupperware is sitting on the counter with the pizza dough he made; alongside some figs, onions, tomatoes, and mushrooms.
Another neighbor Tony invited in, Bob, is standing in the kitchen. As we converse, we watch Tony puts together the delectable delicacy. Instead of an apron, he wears a towel over his shoulder to wipe his hands on. He separates the soft white dough into two portions and rolls them out. His humble way of working doesn’t include tossing the dough in the air. Tony slices the figs, onions, and mushrooms. The figs are from the tree in his backyard. He spoons the tomato sauce onto the dough, and carefully grates the cheese on top. The grated cheese falls down like a blanket of snow on top of the pizza.
“Look at these! I can tell you the story of how I got them,” says Tony holding up a dark red tomato.
As Tony slices the tomatoes he explains where he got them. The tomatoes were from a woman who lives on a street about 5 blocks away. She grew the tomatoes. The kind woman gave a few tomatoes to Bill - the neighbor standing with us - who then gave a few to Tony. And now, Tony is sharing the tomatoes with us. I’m astounded that almost everything on the pizza was grown locally, right in my neighborhood.
“Wow,” I think to myself.
“Isn’t that cool!” my dad says.
Tony places the tomatoes and the rest of the ingredients on top of the pizza, and slides the pizza onto a pizza stone - which conducts heat from the oven to help the pizza cook faster. Into the oven the pizza goes. Daddy looks at the pizza stone.
“What is that?”
“Well, it’s a pizza stone,” replies Tony.
“It heats up in the oven so the pizza will cook faster.”
We talk and talk. Soon enough, the pizza is done. The gooey cheese bubbling and the sweet aroma filling the air, Tony pulls the pizza out of the oven. I watch him using the pizza cutter to divide the pizza. Each layer of topping pops up a bit as the wheel cuts through it.
We each receive a slice of pizza. Bill, Tony, Daddy, and me; all standing together. As I take a bite of the perfectly crisp crust and a sweet bit of fig, it reminds me of where the pizza came from… our neighborhood. I’m reminded of all the times that Tony has shared not only delicious food, but his kindness with us, and I’m reminded of how in my neighborhood, we all help each other out. We are always a family, from the people who have been here forever, to the new families moving in, and even the ones that left. Everyone is warmly welcomed, and will never be forgotten. The pizza reminds me of the community I live in.
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Oakland Youth 6th-12th