by Random, 8th
The family was sitting at the dinner table quietly, Beverly was nervous to confront her father of his unjust rules. You see, Beverly’s father had a set of rules, he had the basics like do your chores, go to sleep at 10:00, eat all your food, etc. But her father also had a set of rules that were quite unusual, for instance, no going outside at all, don’t converse with strangers whatsoever, and no watching television or looking out of windows. Sadly because of these rules Beverly had never set a foot outside because her father said there were dangerous animals, the only friend Beverly had was her father because he was the only other person in the house, and she had never had a clue what the outside world was like because her windows were painted black, and she had no TV because her dad said knowing about the outside world would lead her to insanity. All of these rules were set because Beverly had lost her mother at a very young age, Beverly was the only family her father had left. He did not want to lose her, not unless she lost him first. Beverly knew how selfish this was and for that very reason, she was preparing to confront her father as he quietly ate his soup. As her father was about to take a spoonful of his soup Beverly slammed her hand on the table surface. Her hand stung a bit from the sudden interaction but she ignored it. As expected Beverly's father looked up at his daughter with shock.
“What is the meaning of this?” He asked with concern in his voice.
“I am tired of your nonsense!” Beverly answered
“Your rules! They are stupid and because of them I have never met another human in my life!” Beverly’s voice cracked and she had tears threatening to spill over her eyes.
Beverly’s father could see the rage in her face and the hurt in her voice. Although he felt bad for his daughter it did not matter to him, he thought it was best for her.
“I do not care about how you feel about my rules, I have rules for a reason.” He said calmly to his daughter. Beverly could not believe what she was hearing, all this time she thought she was her father’s friend but now she could see that she was his prisoner. Beverly ran to her room without saying another word to her father, she didn’t even want to look at him. He did not run after her, he didn’t care he just continued to eat his dinner.
In her room Beverly laid on the bed crying into her mattress’s sheets, staining them with her tears. She dragged her body off her bed and positioned herself to sit in front of her mirror, what she saw scared her. She saw a girl with short curly hair and red puffy eyes. Beverly knew what she was feeling, she was feeling sad, angry, and frustrated and yet her face did not replicate that. Her face showed no expression at all, she knew that that was dangerous. She knew that she could not continue to live the way she was living, she had to leave. So that was what she did. Beverly grabbed two backpacks from her closet and shoved as many clothes as she could in both bags. As she did this she kept a close watch on the door and listened to the noises around her, she didn’t want her dad to walk in and stop her from leaving. When she was done packing, she put the backpacks under her bed and waited until midnight to leave. Beverly slid into bed and turned her body away from the door. She watched as the minutes on her alarm clock changed until finally, she read twelve from the bright green numbers. Beverly quietly slipped out of her bed and grabbed the bags she had hid from under her bed.
Beverly had no windows in her room so she had to sneak into the living room. She tried her best to quietly tiptoe into the living room, but the old floorboards of her house creaked beneath her feet causing her to cringe. When she finally made her way to the window she carefully slid her hands on the windows handle. She had to use most of her strength to open the window that had never let her see the light of day not once in her life. As the window slowly opened, old black paint that had surfaced at the bottom of the window sill had fallen to Beverly’s feet. The more Beverly opened the window, the more fresh air had found its way to Beverly’s lungs. When the window was finally opened a quarter of the way Beverly tossed her backpack outside. But as she did this she heard a noise come from her father’s room, not long after, that the light of his room turned on.
Beverly tried her best to open the window a little more for her to go through as she panicked. Once the window was open enough for her to slide through she began to crawl through the window. She grabbed on to the other side of the window to help her, she could hear her father yawn from his room as he opened the door. Beverly had fallen onto the cold and moist dirt with scattered leaves as her father entered the hallway. When he felt the cold air on his arms he immediately looked to the direction in which it was coming from. His eyes widened to the size of tennis balls when he saw his daughter outside in the world he had been “protecting” her from. Beverly quickly grabbed her backpack and ran the opposite direction of the house as she saw her dad rush to the door. She ran and tried her best to process what she was doing, she tried to process the fact that she had run away from the home she had not been outside in years.
She tried to process the fact that she was outside, that she was running on dirt as twigs snapped beneath her feet. Beverly was so consumed by the many thoughts racing through her head that she didn’t notice she was running in the direction of a hill. She tripped on a root that had grown above ground and tumbled down the steep surface. When she came to a stop, she noticed the many cuts and forming bruises throughout her body. She even managed to rip her jeans above both her knee caps, there was blood that stained the surrounding area. Beverly looked up to see where she was, she saw a road in the middle of many, MANY trees. The road was straight and empty, it continued as far as Beverly’s eyes could see and beyond. She debated whether she should go left or right but she was overwhelmed with all the different emotions filling her body. She decided to sit down and let her sadness and anger consume her. Beverly cried for hours she was afraid, she knew she couldn’t go back home but she had not one clue what the outside world was like nor did she know where to go.
When Beverly found that she had no more tears left to pour from her eyes she got up from the tree she had been sitting on and once again looked out onto the road. Her gut told her to go right, but she went left instead. She must have been walking for hours because her eyes became heavy and her legs grew an ache. She was about to go to sleep by a nearby tree when suddenly she saw two bright lights. Beverly had read about things like these in the books she kept at home, she recognized it as a car. She moved to the side of the road as the car came to a stop in front of her. The window of the vehicle was rolled down and Beverly saw there was a woman in the driver's seat. The woman had a warm smile and kind eyes.
“Hi sweetie, what are you doing in the middle of the road all on your own?” She asked with the smile still on her face.
“I um - I,” Beverly stumbled over her words as she thought of what she was going to say. She knew she couldn’t tell a stranger the truth.
“It’s ok, do you need a ride into the city?” When the woman said these words Beverly figured that she could find someplace to stay in the city. It couldn’t be that hard, could it? She simply nodded at the as an answer.
“Well then hop in,” the woman said as she nudged at the passenger seat. Beverly walked around the car and opened the door to the passenger seat, she climbed into the chair and closed the door. The woman started to drive down the road as Beverly bounced in her seat, after all, she had never been in a car before.
“I’m Silvia by the way,” the woman said to Beverly.
“Nice to meet you Silvia, I’m Beverly,” she said.
“That’s a nice name.”
“Thank you,” Beverly said with a small voice, this was the most conversation she had ever had with anyone. She slowly drifted into sleep using the seatbelt to support her head. The two girls rode off into the city, but neither knew that the other had hopes to start their new life there. Neither knew that they were just two misfits who had been wronged by the people they loved, two people who would grow to care for each other and create an unbreakable bond.
by I'm Good, 8th
I have dimples
But I always forget to smile
I can read music
But can’t play it
I know a lot of words
But can’t put them in the right order
I love the stories in video games
But can’t get through them without giving up
I have full lips
But no one wants to kiss me
I wear lots of black
But eyeliner makes me uncomfortable
I can speak loudly
But I don’t know what people want me to say
I dream of stories
But can never make them come to life
I want friends
But people are bored by me
I have curls
But no patience to brush them
I get good grades
But give up sanity for them
I love history
But can never remember the dates things happened
I have a family
But I can’t always connect to them
I am half a person
A setup without the punchline
I know I’m lucky to have what I do
But why couldn’t I have
two halves of a soul?
by Teen, 11th
The usually bright walls of Montgomery High School seemed more sad than usual. In Grace's eyes, the pictures hanging up were barely hanging on, like she was. Her red and puffy eyes were slightly hidden by her long straight hair, hanging in front of her face. Everything just seemed to be going wrong. The bell rang, followed quickly by the emergence of hundreds of lively kids running into the hallways. Yet no one noticed Grace. This was not an uncommon occurrence. A tall guy looks down at her, yet passes quickly, seeming to forget the timeless romance he once shared with her. It was all of two hours ago that he ended it, leaving Grace all alone. That relationship had cost her all of her close friends, and now she no longer had the guy she loved. Not even her teachers could care at all about her. Despite her grades dropping from A's to C's and D's, her motivation was not questioned. They just didn't care enough to talk to her about it. The hallway seemed to close in on Grace as she moved to her classroom, each step suffocating her until she was unable to move, talk, yell for help, or breathe. She thought, "If I died right here, no one would care. The school would just be worried that there could be a bloodstain on the floor." The stream of tears refused to stop flooding from her eyes as she saw the classroom door. She stopped for a second, wiping her wet cheeks. Entering the room, she could hear the whispers. As she approached her desk, the one located in the back right corner by the window, she couldn't help but sob. She looked him right in the eyes, Max, who had hurt her more than anyone else in the world. His desk was right next to hers because he had wanted to sit with her, "forever" he told her. While her eyes were locked in his, the pain from her cut in the bathroom overcame Grace. She fell. He screamed. The blood stained the floor.
note from writer: "All of my writing is fiction, yet sometimes based on people’s experiences in my high school. Thanks for checking in, and I am feeling great at school."
by J.R. 8th
A soft ding rang as the elevator doors slid open, revealing a huddled group of five well-dressed young men. An older man wearing a navy suit jacket and a light-brown tie walked in and pressed the button for the fourth floor, then leaned into the corner adjacent to the crowd. His hair was a sharp, dark-brown hue, and he had a briefly grown mustache running along his upper lip like a caterpillar. The walls were made of glistening steel, reflecting the man and the group perfectly. One of the young men, a blonde with a cigarette dangling from his lips, turned to the newcomer and said, “Hey, sir - do you have a light? My friends here seem to have forgotten theirs.” He nudged one of the men with his elbow.
The older man dug into his jacket pocket and pulled out an old book of matches. “Sure, have at it.”
Looking pretty healthy for a smoker, he thought.
The blonde quickly snatched it and lit his cigarette. The reflection of the match’s flame filled the elevator with an orange-brown hue, only to die out when it was extinguished.
“Thank you, sir.”
He handed the matches back, but the older man said to keep it, and that it was no problem. But it was, for he was quickly sickened by the scent of the expanding smoke.
“I didn’t catch your name,” the blonde said.
“Oh, okay - nice to meet you, Hank.”
Hank leaned back into the wall, and the group began mumbling among themselves again.
For a moment the mumblings of the group ceased, and the elevator was silent. Only the soft taps of their shuffling feet and the puffing exhales of the blond young man could be heard.
As if to break this silence, the blonde turned to the older one and said, “Say, are you here for the interview? With Mr. Donner?” The whole group stared at the older man now, eyes bright with interest. Hank began fiddling with his fingers in his jacket pocket.
“Yes, I am. Do you know him?” He leaned to the side as he scratched at an itch on his back.
The blonde took another sucking puff of his cigarette. “Oh yes, we all do. We’re his... associates.”
“Anything I should know about him? You know, just for safe measure?”
The blonde turned to the group with a smirk, then back at the man.
“He’s an old bastard, that’s for sure - in his seventies, I think. He’s ruthless, so be careful.”
Another of the young men laughed and said, “Yeah, he’s a stickler.”
“He’s got bad bones, osteoporosis or something. Still kicking though,” the blonde mentioned.
The elevator dinged again and came to a stop, and the group moved towards the door.
“This is our floor - good luck with the interview,” the blonde said. Smoke still crawled through his lips as he walked out, floating upwards like a dead man’s spirit.
“Thanks, have a good one.” Hank said. They left, and he stood alone with the whir of the elevator.
He emerged on the next floor, into bustling sounds of an office - clicking typewriters, soft conversations, and the almost rhythmic thump of footsteps. Briefly he thought he heard a humming, maybe even a chanting from below, but he disregarded it. His feet squeaked against the tile floor as he walked out of the elevator and started through the hallway, toward the opening with a notice that stated “OFFICES OF PARACELSUS.” As he turned through it, a matrix of cubicles stretching to the edge of the building was revealed, and the bustling sounds he’d heard grew. Many people - hundreds, maybe - sat hunched over computers, typing wildly as others wound through the rows grasping papers and coffee mugs. At the end of the room a wall with a door and a thin window stood. He walked reluctantly towards this wall through the row of space that divided the cubicles.
The entire room seemed to emit a piney scent.
Like a car’s air freshener, he thought.
He searched for the source of the smell as he traversed the aisle and saw that each desk had a little green pine tree pinned to its side, almost uniformly positioned.
Nearly tripping on a box, he walked up to the desk where a small woman with bright red glasses sat typing. A bronze nameplate was perched on her desk stating SECRETARY.
“Excuse me, ma’am,” Hank said. “I’m here to see Mr. Donner. Is he in?”
The woman kept typing, but peered up at him. “Are you here for the interview?” she asked.
“Yes, with Mr. Donner - I’m Hank Wareheim” The woman stopped typing now, and looked up at him with an open smile. “Have a seat Mr. Wareheim.” She watched as Hank went to sit at the small leather bench placed next to the door, then seemed to continue typing. Unbeknownst to Hank, she stared at him as he waited - peering through her glasses, tapping gibberish onto a blank document.
He sat restlessly, fiddling with his bag and checking his watch. He thought he’d been on time - if anything, a bit early. But it had to have been at least 10 minutes, and there was still no sign of Mr. Donner.
He got up and walked to the secretary, leaning in to match her height.
“Excuse me, ma’am? When will Mr. Donner be arriving? I’m a bit tight on time,” he said.
“Oh, he’s already here - over there, in his office.” She pointed to the window in the office’s wall. Inside a short old man stooped over his desk, holding a wrinkled paper and an empty glass.
“Well, is he ready for the interview?” Hank demanded, a bit flustered now.
“Whenever you are. Just go right on in, Mr. Wareheim.” Hank paused, looked at the window with an open mouth, then back to the secretary.
“Well what’ve I been waiting for? Was he ready all this time?” He waved his arms around in the air as he talked, but quickly placed them to his side with embarrassment.
“Just go on in, Mr. Wareheim. He’s waiting for you.” The woman repeated. She looked back down to her keyboard, clicked a few things, then began genuinely typing.
Hank let out a disgruntled growl, then walked to the office door and knocked. He waited for a second, then opened it. The short old man he’d seen through the window stood looming over his desk, sipping from a glass. The room smelled of pungent alcohol, with a slight hint of the air freshener from outside - his desk had a little tree pinned to its side, too. “Ah, you must be Mr. Wareheim,” the man said excitedly.
“You can call me Hank,” Hank said.
“It’s very nice to meet you then, Hank.” The man replied.
He gave Hank a firm hug, and a slap on the back. The bristles of hair on the man’s chin scratched against Hank’s cheek.
“Oh yes, It’s good to meet you, too, Mr. Donner. I’m here for the job you’re offering, the chemist?” Mr. Donner shuffled back to his desk and said, “Of course. You seem like prime material, you know.” He sat down with a thump and grabbed another glass from his desk.
“Sit down, Hank.” He carelessly pointed to the leather seat that sat across from him, spilling some of his drink. “Oh Jesus, look what I’ve done.” He rustled into his pockets and pulled out a red handkerchief, then wiped at the puddle of liquid. A brownish-red splotch was left in the wood of his desk, spreading corrosively. “Sorry about that, Hank. Anyways - what makes you think you’d like this role? It can be hard at times, even painful.”
“Well, I’ve always admired what you and Paracelsus do here. Pharmaceutics has always been a goal of mine - it saves lives, gives people what they need to go on. You’re really out to help people, and that’s something I’d like to be a part of,” Hank said.
Mr. Donner took another sip of his drink, and looked at Hank for a moment. “That’s very inspiring, Hank, and I like your attitude - but the recipients of our products demand a certain quality, and I need to ensure that standard is met with your role. Remind me of your academic background?”
“I spent three years at UC Davis earning my doctorate degree, then another four years at UCSF to get my Pharm.D.”
“Oh, very good, Hank.” Mr. Donner laid back in his chair, fiddling with his empty glass. “What was that like?”
“I really enjoy being at San Francisco. The things I’ve learned to do here are amazing, and the lessons are very interesting - and I love the city. I think I’ve really thrived.”
“That’s good to hear. I love it too - been here all my life.” Mr. Donner reached for a bottle from underneath his desk, clinking it down and opening it. “Say, can I get you anything to drink? I’ve got a lot to choose from.” He began pouring him a glass.
Mr. Donner pulled a small vial of red powder from his coat pocket and popped open its cap, then poured the substance into the glass. It very slowly diluted into the drink, changing its hue from a light-orange to a dark red.
“What’s that stuff?” Hank asked. Mr. Donner screwed the cap back on and placed it in his pocket.
“It’s one of our newest products, Hank. One of the things you’ll be helping to create. Would you like some?” He held out the glass to Hank, and the corners of his mouth curled up into a smile. “It’s really quite good for you. It makes you ever so young, and keeps you that way for as long as you like.” A swirl of inky red twisted around in the drink, cloudy and unappealing.
“I’d really rather not, Mr. Donner, I shouldn’t drink this early - I’ve got some things to deal with after this. But how does that work, if you don’t mind me asking?” Mr. Donner paused for a moment.
“I think you’d really enjoy it. After all, how can you be a part of this if you can’t even try the things we produce?” He shook the glass a little bit, swirling the drink around.
“Well, I don’t even know what it is. How does it do that, make you young?” Hank pressed.
Mr. Donner laughed, then perched his hand on his knee, still holding the glass. “I don’t know a thing or two about it myself, you’ll have to ask the boys down in the third floor - if you get the chance, that is. They’re the ones I’ve bugged about getting the stuff for myself. I just know it’s very sacred, very effective. Fixes up your bones, smooths your skin. It’s very important to my clients, and to me.” He swallowed the glass of liquid down in a single gulp, then grabbed the bottle and another vial. “I’m getting to be quite an old man. I’ll be eighty-eight by next month. It's been so long since I’ve had that thrill of youth - something I miss very much. But this stuff - and the other products we have - just gives me a chill, a spirit unlike any other. It’s beautiful.” The old man began looking off into the picture hung behind Hank’s head - a painting of an orchard, with an old Ford truck driving by. He seemed entranced by it, almost within it. But as Hank shuffled around in his chair, he quickly turned back to him.
“Are you sure you don’t want any for yourself? It comes straight from our best men.”
Hank’s knee began to restlessly bounce against the floor, and he turned to look through the window. “Well, if you truly insist. You make it sound so great, how could I not?” he said with a smile. He leaned in to Mr. Donner, and carefully held the glass.
“That’s it, good choice,” Mr. Donner muttered. His drink was poured, and Hank chugged it down, slapping the glass back onto the desk. He almost immediately began to cough, and he brought the back of his hand to his mouth.
“Oh, that tastes horrible. Why is it so salty?” he choked.
Mr. Donner chortled as he placed the vial back into his pocket. “It’s bad, isn’t it? You get used to it - maybe yours will be better. My people would be delighted to get a better flavor.”
“I’ll do the best I can,” Hank said. He ran his tongue along his teeth in an attempt to rid them of the taste.
Mr. Donner placed the bottle to the side, and pulled himself up straight in his chair.
“Well then, Hank - tell me a bit more about yourself. How have you been physically?”
“Physically?” Hank asked in confusion.
“Yes. Physically - you know, fitness-wise. Do you exercise regularly?”
“I suppose I’ve done well - I’ve passed all of my highschool fitness tests, and try to get exercise pretty frequently.”
“Good, very good. Any diseases?”
“Um, none that I know of right now. I hope I don’t have any.”
“Do you have a family history of diseases?”
Hank looked at Mr. Donner with discomfort. “With all due respect, how is that important?” Hank said.
Mr. Donner leaned toward him a bit. “I don’t want you to contaminate the product, Hank. It may seem strange right now, but you’ll understand soon enough. A lot depends on this.”
“That doesn’t make any sense,” Hank said.
“Just answer the question, Hank. If you want this, you’ll answer it.”
Hank began to smell something putrid, but only very briefly - the scent of the air fresheners seemed to overpower it. “I honestly don't know that well - I have an uncle who’s diabetic, but other than that we’re pretty much disease-free.”
“Very, very good, Hank. So far, I think you’d be a prime addition to our company. I do have one more question for you before we make a decision, though,” Mr. Donner said. In the background, the humming noise that Hank had heard in the hall grew, and a thumping sound came in regular intervals from below.
“Really, only one more? It’s barely been five minutes,” Hank replied.
“Oh yes, we’ve got to make these interviews quick so we can get you all set. We only need this basic info, then you’re off to making more of our product.”
Mr. Donner pulled open a drawer in his desk, and took out a small slip of paper. He held it up and began reading it aloud: “Are you willing to do whatever you can to get this role, and, if you do, are you willing to shed your blood in the name of Paracelsus?” He set the paper down, and meticulously placed his glasses back where they originally were. “Sorry, the boys said I have to read it exactly as it is, just as a formality.”
“Well, that’s a bit dramatic - but yes, I’ll do whatever I can for this, and in the name of this company, if it helps me get this job.” Mr. Donner began to smile again, and swiftly picked himself up out of his chair.
“Well, I suppose that’s that - welcome to Paracelsus, Mr. Wareheim. I’ll call up the boys from downstairs and we’ll get you set for the job.”
Someone knocked at the door, and the voice of the young blonde was heard to say, “He ready, Mr. Donner?”
“Look, they’re already here for you, Hank!” Mr. Donner exclaimed.
Hank hoisted himself out his chair, flustered. He demanded, “But Mr. Donner, the job? Right now? I can’t do that now, Mr. Donner, I told you I had things to finish up today. I’m really not ready at all right now!”
Mr. Donner grabbed for the doorknob, his glass and a new vial in hand, the corners of his mouth curling up into an enormous smile.
“For this job, I don’t think you can ever be.”
Oakland Youth 6th-12th