Blinding Hands

by Audrey Weibell I. The hands that now grip so painfully had once seemed soft. They blocked the things you’d rather not see like horse blinders keeping your focus on what matters.  You trusted the hands. They pointed to your shortcomings, problems your useless eyes  wouldn’t see. The hands  helped you succeed. Sight. Seeing. Protection. Warning. Enlightenment. Guiding. But then one day the hands turned from sweet to firm. Direct. Controlling. Harsh. Colors, shapes and  movement waned. I am trapped. Trapped! TRAPPED! Stuck with nowhere to go. No way to find any peace of mind. Blinded by the looming hands. You don’t know what or why. Don’t have the strength to pry them open from your eyes. No sight. Can’t see. No protection. No Warning. No enlightenment. No Guidance. Their toxic stench  burns the oxygen in your head leaving fearful thoughts to fester. “We’re not going anywhere,” they say. “You invited us. Remember?” Stumbling. Falling. Tripping. Crying.  Dying. Stuck. Stuck! STUCK! MAKE IT STOP. Please make it stop. “You know we can’t do that,” they say. Scattered thoughts. Short attention span. Chaos. Am I insane? Are the hands still there or am I blind. Blind! BLIND! The hands that now grip so painfully had once seemed soft. Their deception, comforting. The cage that traps you, secure. How long will you feel your way around the dark? Lash. Tear. The scars don’t fade no matter how badly you want them to. […]

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The Depths

by Faith Novak Bianca Louis sinks her toes into the fine white O’ahu sand. The ocean breeze fills her lungs. Behind her, food trucks bustle by as the heavy aromas of acai bowls and fish tacos mask the salty sea. It’s a perfect morning for surfing. Bianca and her family recently moved to the Hawaiin Islands from the coast of North Carolina, where her parents worked as anesthesiologists specializing in trauma cases. They retired early from that life and now spend their days as surf instructors. Bianca and her older sister, J.M., short for Jennifer Marie, are their first students.  Bianca loves Hawaii. Constant relaxation. Luaus. And of course, surfing. The sport is in her blood. She likes competing with her sister. A month ago, Bianca bet J.M. that she could land a trick first: the perfect alley-oop. Bianca did. The prize? J.M.’s glistening shark tooth necklace, which now adorns Bianca’s neck wherever she brings her surfboard. It has become her good luck charm when conquering the ocean. It looks like she’s the first surfer on the water. “Dawn patrol.” A coil of waves crash down on the shoreline. She’s tired of the same old tricks. Floaters, foam climbs, alley-oops. Kid tricks. Today she’s going to land what J.M. has only dreamed of landing: the roundhouse cutback. A hazel palm tree shades her board. It smells of key lime wax. The velcro strap, Bianca notices, is worn-down and sandy. She’ll […]

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Featured Artist: Jenna Hauser

I had known Jenna Hauser—or had known of her, I should say—since 2013, when she was a seventh grader at Sudlersville Middle School. She wasn’t on my roster, unfortunately, but her reputation as an artist put her on my radar. Walking the hallway galleries, you knew immediately which pieces were Jenna’s. Everyone did. Portraits, still-lifes, abstractions. They spoke louder to me than the seemingly shy artist ever could. I felt robbed. As a teacher, you pray every fall that such a talent will land a seat in your class. Emphasizing this injustice was the fact that Jenna and I happened to live on the same street, and every once in a blue moon I’d see her walking the block, face hidden by a shoulder-length curtain of hair, lost in reverie. We’d wave to each other and go about our day. Six years passed before I beheld her artwork again. It was December of 2019. Jenna had moved onto the high school, her family had uprooted, and I was busy now at Centreville Middle School, brainstorming ideas to improve Dead Awake. Scrolling idly through my Facebook feed—past the ubiquitous family pics, political sentiments, rumors of a deadly disease ravaging a city in China, yada-yada—I halted on a gallery of art pieces posted by my friend and fellow teacher, Ms. Stephanie Zeiler. Two of her QACHS seniors, she wrote, had been selected for the 2020 National Art Honor Society Juried Exhibition: Cara […]

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The Edge of Perfection

by Julia Reburn My eyes close softly as my hands fold in my lap, and I pray. Lord Poseidon, Protector of the Sea, Father of Storms, Shaker of the Earth, Guide me as I face the day. Give me strength to protect those close And to do good by Your Name. Be with me as I walk the world. My green eyes flutter open, adjusting to the bright sun. I pick a small gardenia from its place in the flowerbed and twirl it through my fingers. Around me, servants bustle around bushes and flower beds, trimming hedges, scrubbing the many statues and shrines to Athena, and picking vegetables from the expanse of the garden. My name, Penelope Aurelia Dukas, is engraved in the marble chaise on which I’m now resting. Bright flowers sway in the breeze throughout this gathering area, my small sanctuary, which is tucked away in the western corner of my home. Water flows endlessly over the carving of Poseidon, who lounges in a simple throne wielding his glistening trident. My mother carved this statue when I was a baby to treasure my heritage. She was born in Corinth, a small town southeast of Athens, and used to joke that her family didn’t raise her, the sea did. I keep a tally in the garden: one month, two weeks, three days. That’s how long she’s been gone. I wonder whether Mother was actually joking about the sea raising […]

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