Tag Archives: creative

The Longest Night

Jaxson Thornton
Photo by Prune Savelli, Staff Photographer

I was groggy driving home. The street lamps lashed by in epileptic fashion as I pushed 75 on the bone dry roads that led me home each night.

“9:58 PM” read the clock of my now off-white Volkswagen Bug. My shirt and forehead equally drenched in drying sweat and grime, my arms covered in dirt.

“Why does practice have to end so damn late?” I thought as my eyes wearily drifted along the road. I roared up my driveway once I reached home. I pulled into my parking spot and hit the e-brake, momentarily sending me skidding across the gravel and sliding to a stop before launching out of my car and running inside through the garage.

“10:43 PM” read the clock as I threw off my shoes and slid socks only into the kitchen. The sweet smell of dinner was met by the looming threat of homework on the note left atop the counter by my mother.

Went to bed. Dinner is chicken fried rice. Please put dishes away. DON’T. FORGET. HOMEWORK.

Love you, xoxo. -Mom.

“Homework,” I thought. “What do I have tonight?” By this point I was speaking aloud to myself. “Oh, right. Three page essay I haven’t started, due… tomorrow! Fan-tas-tic. Annnnnd…” I mumbled as I shifted through the folders of my jumbled bag. “Ah, yes. Naturally. AP World History project over a book I haven’t read due on… Friday! Perfect.” I groaned sarcastically whilst I grabbed an emerald green bowl out of the far right drawer for my chicken fried rice.

“12:21 AM” read the top right corner of my Macbook as I shut the laptop on itself. The dwindling tones of instrumentalized music faded into the backdrop as the computer began to go into sleep mode.

“Finished.” I sighed as the stapler clamped upon the three pages designated for an English presentation to be given nine hours later. I walked across my room and collapsed onto the bed. My head fell upon the pillow with a thump, and I rolled over achingly onto my back and pulled the covers over my waist.

I feel gross, I thought, hair still sticking to my forehead. In the mental commotion of the evening, I had forgotten to take a shower.

“12:29 AM” read the clock as I drifted out of consciousness…

My eyes struggled to open when I heard the frightening crash of books to the floor in my room. My body could hardly move when I felt the covers being thrown off of me. Two clammered arms reached down and yanked me from my bed by the shoulders. I fought, but the two men were stronger than me. I clung to what I could as I was dragged down the horrid chamber. Lights flashed at me from every direction with intermissions of blissful darkness.

“Please God, let this be a dream,” I prayed. I wasn’t entirely aware of what was happening, but I knew I needed for it to end.

Suddenly, I spat up water and coughed. The lightless room’s deafening blackness screamed at me as water ran over my entire body in a terrific stream of panic. My fears were cemented, as they had translated from the depths of the dreamscape into reality.

“Where am I!? What is happening to me?!” I thought in hysteria whilst coughing up water. All of the sudden, a light sparked on, roaring a bright beam of fluorescent terror at me. My eyes hurt, and I quickly coddled them with my damp palms.

“JAXSON!” yelled a voice. A familiar voice. That of my sister. “Why are you in the shower right now!?” she called from the other side of our joint twin bathroom.

“2:39 AM” read the clock as I laid my freshly washed and recently daunted head onto the pillow once more. I closed my wavering eyes, and drifted out of reality again.

Written by Jaxson Thornton

Entertainment and Opinion Editor

A Tree and a House

Photo by Daniela Watkins, Photo Editor

It was called Varden Street.  But at five years old, it probably sounded more like “barden stree”.  It belonged to my mother’s grandfather, Tampa, and had been passed down through generations.  I think even the smell remained.  A fresh yet cozy warmth lingered in the woodwork.  I don’t remember much about that house, but I do remember the fairy peephole in the olive green front door, chipped from the hot California valley air.  I remember the faded plastic playhouse outback, the red brick wall with the neighbors on the other side,  and the old beach chairs my dad would set out in the garage on Saturday mornings to watch my brother and I put hose water down the crack in the concrete where the tiny black ants lived.  It was the house I grew up in, where I came home from the hospital to in the 1982 yellow punch buggy and the room my mom painted washed out blue and yellow for me.  Right outside the bay window stood the treehouse: the one my dad built, not like any other treehouse, for it was higher than any other. It was so high I remember my heart racing as I looked down from the 2×4 ladder, as my tiny hands took the pulley up from the swollen Eucalyptus roots below.  It was my favorite thing to brag about and if I could have taken this giant masterpiece to the first day of kindergarten I wouldn’t have thought twice about it.  However, the best part about the treehouse was the promise to my brother and I of a roof, a real one. This installment would make it complete to become an actual house- a clubhouse – the ultimate pirate’s lair – a “real-paint-and-walls” type of tree house.  The kind of treehouse that was impermeable to rain, the elements, and any enemy attack. By the promised date of my seventh birthday, I was sure it would be nothing less than the pride of Sherman Oaks.  

The amount of time that surpassed between this promise and the family date at California Pizza Kitchen seemed all too soon. “Table for four please”; ah, yes, the model family, one boy, one girl, two loving parents who promised the world and giant treehouse roofs to their children. Little did I know how much things would change between five and seventeen.  But that night as I ate my kid sized barbeque chicken pizza, the adult- sized world slapped me in the face: the house had to be sold. The reasons we had to move seemed drastically unimportant in comparison to the thought that the treehouse roof would never be complete.

A while passed, and we received news from Varden street. The nice family who had bought our house could no longer pay the mortgage, so it was sold to the developer. Both the 86 year old tree and the roofless treehouse were torn down along with the house. A white mansion was built – a full three stories. My seventh birthday came and went.

Years later, three more children came into our family, the twins, who became my best friends, and little Caleb, the sweet tooth. They had never seen a treehouse, but I did my best to explain. We found a warped piece of plywood and carried it into the strip of woods at the back of our land. We asked for a hammer and a helping hand, but life was different, things got hard, and helping hands became fewer and further between. My parents designed the new house themselves, without expecting three more, so naturally, when Best Friends and little Sweet tooth arrived, things were tight. We were no longer were a “table for four” family, but a “table for seven – oh, you don’t have room – that’s ok we’ll wait” family. Still, we carried that rotting piece of plywood into the cedar trees and did our best to fit it between the evergreen branches.  But the facility that housed my childhood imagination and built for my simple innocent daydreams could not be mirrored by the misshapen wood lodged in the branch before me.

People often ask why I love childish things like glitter, dinosaur chicken nuggets, and Disney princesses. I like to blame it on the fact that the roof of the treehouse, and of my childhood, were never fully completed. A ceiling was never made to hold in my imagination. Frankly, when the adult world outside the treehouse and fairytales are compared: I will always pick the latter.

Written by Hannah Matthews

Contributing Writer

Invasion of the Ants

Featured image
Photo by Daniela Watkins, Photo Editor

I imagine most predators hunt out of necessity. I assume that a pride of lions does not seek out a dangerous elephant simply to bring it down in the way that a group of high schoolers play Ultimate Frisbee after school, but that they do so in order to continue living. If this is true, then why do ants take such vindictive pleasure in hunting me down and destroying the delicate weave of my sanity? Their cruel and malevolent pursuit of my person began, I’m sure well before this, as they were surely plotting long before they took action: my freshman year.

I step out of the car and dash to the rain protected side of my Brazilian Jiu Jitsu studio. Despite the wet weather I am a bright young pupil, full of life and energy, eyes brimming with the hunger for knowledge. I step into the building, wipe my feet on the doormat and say hello to Julie’s mom, the secretary. I then receive the news that will throw my small mind into hyper awareness for the better part of a tortuous year. “Sweetie you have ants all over your face.” I am in disarray, wiping my face and running to the girls restroom where I find, she is correct. Even though the ants are drenched in rainwater and plastered to my skin, useless, a cold stake of fear drives itself into my young fluttering heart. I spend the class distracted, flying on autopilot as I stare into the mirrors, searching, and jumping at every fiber of my body that the invisible feet of ants could roam.

An hour later the class is dismissed and I grab my bag from the back corner only to drop it in fright as I see it has been overrun with disgusting insects. The ants have infiltrated my bag. I return home on edge but by the end of the week have fallen back into my usual routine. After all ants happen sometimes, right?

Now let me preface this by saying that I keep my room free of food, as well as all of my bags. I do not keep food in places food does not belong and therefore the idea that these ants were drawn to me because of some sweet treats left in my possession is preposterous. My grandmother suggested that I was just so sweet of a person that ants couldn’t help but come to me, but I dismissed that knowing full well that I was not sweet, but an insufferable jackass.
Now every summer there was a colony of ants that would form a line, climb the railing on the front porch, go up over the arch and somewhere up the side of the house. This happened to be directly over the window to my room. A little over a week after the first ant incident, this colony decided to alter its course through the window and into my room. Years of the same path and suddenly they move into my room? This was no accident, this was a planned attack. Perhaps attack might be a bit of a stretch as they didn’t do much of anything. They just wandered around my room in my things, but I knew what they were really doing. The colony was watching, scoping me out, and waiting for the perfect moment to descend upon my unconscious body. I didn’t sleep much. Images of ant ridden corpses and skulls with eyeless sockets shimmered around my bed at night.

At this point my only escape was school, but of course it was not to last. Second period English with Cordell shattered my peace. As soon as the words “I have an ant problem in my room right now” left her lips I curled tight in my chair, white as a sheet and emitted a low pitched whining noise. Even though they were on the other side of the room, behind her desk, I could feel them crawling over my skin and under my clothes. Instead of doing school work that day I googled if you could get a restraining order on ants out of desperation. Turns out, you can’t. They had entered my last sanction and from then on out, followed me everywhere. The halls, the cafeteria, the chicken coop, the car, my bed. It didn’t end. It unravelled me. I had no idea what was happening and it was terrifying. Then as suddenly as it had started, the ants retreated. What happened to them and where did they go? Did they get what they wanted? I didn’t know, I was just relieved that that were gone. Maybe during their raids they heard my desperate promise: as long as they let me go I would never stomp another ant bed in my life. But that insinuates something even more sinister than organized battle plans. Ants are capable of comprehending human speech.

By Gretchen Lemmond

Contributing Writer

Father and Son

Picture by Daniela Watkins, Photo Editor

Dead trees still listening,
A bird singing alone,
Wind is quiet,
Visible breath,

My dad and I were watching every movement in our sights as the cold bit us through our three layers of clothing in the blind. Each minute was hesitant to pass by, testing my thinning patience. My dad enjoyed the peace and took in the frozen, barren landscape. I held my rifle firmly while waiting for the enemy to pass by so I could ease my twitching finger.

A minute gone,
Another left.
Trigger ever teasing,
Begging for attention.

“Where the hell are they? I want to shoot at least something.” My mind was questioning why my prey chose to take a day off. In the meantime my father and I began whispering inappropriate/dry jokes and small talk; those moments shot through me like a high caliber round. It was a true bonding experience that caused the sun to race across the sky. With minutes left of sunlight, we left the small, camouflaged box and headed back to the barn. Navy blue covered everything, and I grew anxious of this new eerie appearance. My dad and I were trying to see the path ahead of us while our bodies were aching from the cold. Something in the air seemed restless, even in the stillness…

Both sides staring into each other’s eyes;
Everything is still;

There they stood in front of us on the path, them damn hogs. I slowly walked backwards, never taking my eyes off the herd of ten savages. Once I was at a safe distance, I tried to ready my bringer­of­death as quick as Clint Eastwood. It was too late. The cowards ran into the adjacent property right when I inhaled. They survived that night, only because apparently I can’t pull off a Clint Eastwood film. My heart wilted for not earning the classic father­and­son tale to tell. Even in the disappointment my dad was smiling, which is a sight for any kind of eyes. In the end of it all, the two of us made an alternative father­son story about losing against a crafty enemy because we focused on each other, not on our triggers or desired trophies.

Written by Nathan Dahill

Contributing Writer