Sunday, September 7, 2008

Fighting for Survival by Connor S.

It was a warm Friday afternoon. Alfred was cleaning up the Epstein’s store in Harlem. He was just getting ready to close it for the day when he heard the door open. A thin, young boy walked into the store.

The boy stood just inside the door and appeared very shy.

“Can I help you?” said Alfred in a friendly tone.
“I’m looking for Mr. Donatelli’s gym,” said the boy in a timid voice.

Alfred was a regular at Donatelli’s gym. It was where the local boxers went to train and work out. Alfred figured the boy must have been meeting his older brother at the gym. Then, as he looked at the boy more closely, he noticed the cuts and bruises on the boy’s face. Could this young, frail child be a boxer, he wondered.

“Donatelli’s? I go there,” said Alfred. Alfred had a hard time trying to picture this young boy in the ring. “Are you a boxer,” the boy asked Alfred. “Yes I am,” replied Alfred. “Me too, I’ve never been to Donatelli’s though,” said the boy. Alfred was not sure if the boy was joking or not.

“I will tell you what, if you can wait 5 minutes until I finish closing up here, I will show you where Donatelli’s is,” said Alfred. “That would be great,” said the boy with a slight smile. Alfred looked at the boy, smiled and extended his hand. “My name is Alfred, what’s yours?” I’m David, said the boy shaking Alfred’s strong hand.

Alfred and Dave walked together to Donatelli’s gym.

“Hello kids!” Donatelli said.
“Hey can we train for now? Are you open,” asked Alfred.
“Sure. But I have to go to a fight later tonight at the Madison Square Garden with one of my boxers.”

After an hour or so Alfred and Dave had to leave.

“Do you want to come back to my house?” asked Alfred.
“I’m not sure, my mother might be expecting me.”
“But it’s only 7 o’ clock!”
“My mother’s a little strict. But I guess I could go over for a while” said Dave.

Alfred entered the house with Dave following behind. Once Aunt Pearl was introduced to Dave, she mentioned that supper was almost ready and that Dave was welcome to sit down and join them. As soon as they were seated, Aunt Pearl served them spaghetti and meatballs. Dave could not believe his eyes. He had never seen such a feast! Dave ate ravenously and he had many servings. As Alfred’s eyes began to wander about the dinner table, he looked down. He noticed that Dave’s legs were also badly bruised. There was something suspicious about this boy, but Alfred hadn’t been friendly with him long enough to ask him too much about his personal life. After dinner, they sat down on his couch and ate dessert. Dave was in awe. He never wanted to leave this place, but he knew in the back of his mind that he would have to come home to face his mother once again.

At the same time, Dave did not want to overstay his welcome. He thanked Alfred and Aunt Pearl repeatedly and then headed home dreading another encounter with his mother. At least this time, he had a full stomach and the memory of a good day to help him deal with what was yet to come.

The Contender by Nick R

Alfred sat there on the bench in the damp locker room thinking to himself. Pondering about why it was so hard on him to win fights, why it made him so sick. The answer was probably inside him, yet he could not find it. Maybe it was the feeling of disabling another human being, feeling an opponents face on the opposite side of your glove. Although it was not clear, all he knew was, he wasn’t proud of fighting. Alfred, now stumbling to his feet, really began to realize that the mentality that a man needs to succeed in boxing needs to be violent and focused.



Walking out into the dampened streets of Harlem , a slight breeze ran across his skin. The air felt nice to a guy that had previously been stuffed up in a small locker room.



Starting to jog home, he remembered a conversation that he had a few days ago with his cousin Ender Wiggin.



“Listen Al,” Ender said, “Fighting isn’t the best thing for you, I can tell, you just don’t have it!”



“I do have it!” Alfred insisted; “I have more drive then any of the saps in here, I know I can be a contender! I know it!” Ender is the kind of kid who obviously has passion about what he does, and respects others passions as well. “Alright kid, if you say so, just don’t push it too far, ok man?” Ender seemed to be concerned. “Yeah couz, I’ll be careful. Only thing about this boxin’ thing is, training is really hard!” Alfred giggled as it came out of his mouth. Ender laughed a little too, and patted Alfred on the arm. “I got to be goin’ alright couz.”



“Yeah, sure Ender, I guess I will be seein’ you later huh?” Alfred said. “Yeah, take care.” Ender turned his back and walked up and around the corner store.



Just turning the corner on his jogging route, the sky over Harlem was turning a light shade of gray and drizzles of rain began to pitter-patter on the tops of cars. Alfred’s sweat pants were soaked from the shoe to the knee, but Alfred didn’t mind. The fact that it was raining, was almost a delight while he was running. The droplets from heaven cooled his skin and allowed him to run the distance home.



Alfred returned home and fell into his bed. “Alfred! Alfred! ALFRED!” The door swung open and there stood his mother, looking down upon Alfred without speech. “Hey mom, I’m going to bed, K.”



“Ok, night.” The door slowly closed shut, and Alfred closed his eyes. Inside Alfred’s head, thoughts rushed back and fourth, as tired as he was, sleep would not come. He sat upright in his bed, looking around his room, almost as if he was lost. Alfred knew that boxing wasn’t for him, but he had to see if it would be a possibility for him to be a contender. Now it didn’t matter, Alfred was determined, now matter how tired he was, he stood up from his comfort lacking bed, and went back to training.

Friend From Afar by Natalie M

Daisy was a young girl living in New York City. To put it lightly she was not the biggest fan of her life! She lived with her father and her father’s girlfriend. Daisy’s mother died while giving birth to her so they never got the chance to meat. Daisy caused a lot of problems and developed an eating disorder, so her father decided to send her to live in England with her Aunt. Her visit to England started great but then the war hit and everything changed she experienced life in a whole new way in terror and fear. She experienced many hard and difficult things and has changed from it now the next step in her life will to meet hopefully a new friend David Pelzer one of the people she most admires in her life. She admires his courage, his determination and will to survive, a quality that can be found in her. Daisy’s experiences have been tough and terrible but all it will take is a new friend and to see really how tough life can really be.


Dave Pelzer is not called Dave by his family. Instead his mother referred to him as “It”. He lived in Daly City, California just by the Golden Gate Bridge with his family just. “It” was abused by his mother for as long as he can remember. He lived in the basement on a small cot with only one blanket all year long. He is the third born out of five children. With an alcoholic mother and a father that just wasn’t home enough to care Dave experienced the hardest thing in life not being hurt by other people but by the one person who is supposed to love you the most. Dave now grown and accomplished author of his books depicting the story of his cruelty and abuse into his saving and his adulthood will meet someone he admires most in life Daisy now an woman in her 40’s survived a brutal war and lived to tell about it and at the same time managed to find love.


These two people admired each other for basically the same reason they had amazing courage and a will to live and still continued on with there lives without being a victim for the rest of there lives. Now Dave and Daisy will meet. Daisy lives in England with her now husband Edmond at the same old farm house where she first visited and deled with her harrowing tale of war and loss.

There was a soft knock on the door and Daisy hurried toward. She had been preparing for weeks for this exact moment and had pictured it in many different ways. She reached for the handle and pulled the heavy front door open.

“Hello Ms. Daisy”, came from Ted the milkman
A certain disappointment rushed over daisy as she noticed it wasn’t the man she had waited so long to meet, but only the milkman.

“Hello Ted I need an extra quart today, I’ve got a friend coming”.

As she watched the milk truck drive away she saw a small taxi coming over the hill. Her heart was pounding as she saw the car coming closer and closer.

Dave had been waiting for this moment for months. He had been so excited when Daisy contacted him. You can imagine how excited he was when he found out she wanted to meet him too. As the taxi crawled up the hill he saw the house he had pictured in many different ways .The house was so much better than he could ever imagine. It was an old farm house painted a beautiful light yellow, and her husbands garden on the side of the house the one daisy had talked so much about.

As he stepped out of the car Daisy flew out the door to help him with his things. As she approached the door she slowed down and saw a man she had been waiting to see for a very long time now.

“Hello I’m Dave”, was all he said.

“Hello I’m Daisy”, she responded “it’s so nice to finally meet you”.

As Daisy led Dave into the house he was shocked at how beautiful it was inside so big but so cozy at the same time. She introduced Dave to Edmond. Once Dave was done unpacking they went to sit in the garden.

“Wow this is even better than I ever imagined it” exclaimed Dave.

“Thank you it has been Edmonds everything ever since he came back home during the war and I moved here permanently”.

“So how was you flight you haven’t hardly said a word at all”.

“It was great thank you I am just so shocked to be here and to be meeting you, you are one of my favorite people”.

Daisy began to blush, when she heard Edmond calling saying dinner was ready. As they sat down for dinner daisy asked,” I have read you books so many times but I was wondering if you would tell me the story of you life from you yourself”. She thought of so many different ways of saying it before, she didn’t want to insult him or bring any bad feelings up that they didn’t have to.

Dave simply said,” Sure”.

“My life started out pretty normal with me being the third born out of five, my mother staying home with us and my father worked all the time as a firefighter. But about around the time I turned five things started to change. As the more my father was away at work the worse my mothers drinking became”, he said very swiftly like he had said it a million times before, which he probably had.

“She used to make me lay in bathtub full ice cold water for hours on end.”

“She always used to make me clean the bathroom and she would put ammonia in a bucket with bleach and make me inhale it for hours on end.

“The worst I would say was when she stabbed me she was drunk and holding a knife and she fell forward and stabbed me right in the stomach”.

Dave lifted up his shirt to show Daisy, she winced when she saw the long thin line going across his stomach.

“Thankfully some teachers at school had me rescued and I was put in foster care and have grown up and have a son of my own.

“Now tell me about your story”, replied Dave

“Well I was living in New York City with my father and his god-awful girlfriend and my dad thought it would be best for me to move to England with my Aunt Penn And my four cousins”, She started

“Well I loved it here when I first got here; I even met the love of my life Edmond”.

“Then the war started no one really knew what was going on at first and everyone had there theory’s as to what exactly was happening.”

“When the soldiers took over the house we were separated”.

“It was me and my youngest cousin, we were relocated with another family, and finally worked our way back to the house.”

“We were finally reunited together but I was forced back to the U.S., when I finally made it back to England I stayed for good”, she finished.

Dave thought wow who would think during all that you still had the will to survive and the courage to go on with you life. This is one of the greatest people I have ever met. Dave didn’t know but at the exact same moment Daisy was thinking the exact same thing.

Ender’s New Recruit By Kyle W

The sloping hallway of the battle ship was absolutely still. Not a sound could be heard anywhere, save for Ender’s continuous footsteps as he made his way towards the bunk of the new Dragon Army of which he was the new commander. There hadn’t been any such army for several years, and if what Colonel Anderson had said was true, then there would be no army like it. Ender had been told that many of his new recruits were highly skilled veterans, a trait that could very well win them their battles. There were also supposed to be many Launchies in his group, kids new to the space station.



Ender arrived at the bunk door and opened it, revealing an elongated room of bunk beds where twenty or so kids were doing various things. Some were sitting on their beds talking, while others were on their desks, silently working or playing. Still others, mostly the smallest ones, seemed to be simply sitting on their beds in deep thought. It was immediately clear to Ender that his army was mostly Launchies, with only a few veterans. The moment he entered the room, all heads turned his way and all eyes fell upon him. Some of the children appeared frightened.



“Are you the commander of our army?” said a particularly tiny boy towards the front. His body was heavily scarred.



“Yes, I am,” Ender answered, and then, addressing the entire room, said, “My name is Ender, your commander. For those who do not know, the lights go out at twenty-two hundred hours every night, and come on at six hundred hours, so, for your sake, get your sleep at night. Each morning, a paper will be slid under the door that says if we have a battle that day, with which army, and when.” He paused for a moment. The veterans seemed to be the only ones who knew how the battle notices worked, while most of the Launchies were looking at each other as if Ender were speaking a foreign language. He finished, saying, “As you were.”



The scarred boy who had perked up when he entered the room intrigued Ender, so he sat down beside him as a quiet hum of chatter filled the room.

“Hello.”



The boy hadn’t noticed he wasn’t alone, and when Ender spoke, he jumped violently. Ender didn’t flinch.



“Why is your body so scarred?” he asked, wondering if the boy would mind discussing it.



For a moment, it seemed as if the boy wouldn’t answer, but after staring at his shoe, and letting his eyes dart to Ender’s and away again once or twice, he inhaled slowly and said, “My mom.”



“Your mom?” Ender repeated.



The boy nodded. Ender slowly reached for his arm to try and examine the old wounds, but the boy pulled away gently.



“What’s your name?”



“David,” David answered quickly, still not looking at Ender.



“What happened with your mother that gave you these scars?”



It seemed like David was about to cry, but he contorted his face slightly, apparently forcing back the tears. After a moment, he looked in the complete opposite direction of Ender, as if there was someone to his right, and said, “She used to make me so happy. We were the perfect family. I don’t really know what happened… she started drinking more… she was looking less pretty every day… some days she wouldn’t bother putting on her make-up. And eventually, she started telling me to do more and more chores, until I was doing all of them, all day long. She wouldn’t allow me to play with my brothers… and she would yell at me a lot. Her punishments were getting worse… She would hit me more often… and then harder… and then she would do other things… She always told me I was such a bad boy… She hated me.”



Ender just stared at him. He couldn’t imagine his own mother, so kind and gentle, hurting him. Although, something had occurred to him: David said his mother hated him, and that she didn’t let him play with his brothers…



“Were you the youngest child?” Ender asked quietly. David nodded.

Just as he had thought: David had been a “Third,” when the law only allowed two children per family. Perhaps the government had authorized it, but if it was how it sounded, David’s parents had never wanted a Third, the same way Ender’s parents never had.



“Sounds like you were alone most days,” Ender stated solemnly. “Like… like an outcast?



David squinted as tears began to escape his eyes, and he nodded again.



“I know what it’s like,” Ender said, almost whispering, feeling strangely vulnerable. “It seems like everyone is so different from you, so normal.”



David remained silent, so Ender asked, “When was your monitor removed?”



The little boy pointed to a very recent scar on his neck, sniffling, and he made an odd noise that sounded like, “Week ago.”



“Did your mother stop after that?” For the third time, David shook his head, and his sobs became audible. A few Launchies in the neighboring bunks turned their heads to see who was creating the fuss.



“She became worse,” he said, his voice broken, trying to wipe away the gushing tears from his cheeks. “She figured they had decided they didn’t want me. I had become a complete waste of space to her. It wasn’t until five days later, when that colonel came, that she stopped. That was last time I ever saw her.”



He calmed down. The thought that he was free of his mother seemed to make him feel better. Ender was staring at him again, unbelieving. As alone as he was, Ender had someone who loved him back home, but he pushed thoughts of Valentine away. David had nobody. Well, had nobody. He did now. For the first time since he had come aboard the ship, Ender had someone who he could completely relate to, and David did as well.

Dave’s Mentor from the Closet by Nicole C

It was a quiet peaceful day in the suburbs of California, except for the Pelzer house. Poor young Dave was getting the toxic treatment his mother gave him every so often. He just got set free of the nasty smelling bathroom. Dave knew he would survive this life, he knew that his body would pull through, but sometimes he doubted if he would make the night. He hadn’t eaten in what felt like forever. In school he was learning about the Holocaust and concentration camps for the Polish, Gypsy, homosexual, and Jewish. Sometimes he thought that his home was his mother’s concentration camp for him. Dave ran down the stairs tripping over his own weak feet, to get to the one place he felt relatively safe, the basement.
“Dave! Dave! Come to the Closet!” mumbled a voice.

“Who is that? Who’s there?” Dave shouted. Dave proceeded to the closet, and surprised himself b not being afraid. When he opened the closet door he saw a small detailed figure, belonging to an old, brittle, man. By the glow to his body, Dave knew this man couldn’t have been alive and thought of it as a hallucination.

“Who are you, or what are you?” Asked Dave abruptly.

“My Name is Joseph, and no I am no longer a living man. You will find out why I am here momentarily.

“I don’t believe this. I don’t believe you. There is no way that a ghost has appeared in my closet. I’m just imagining you.” Dave skeptically.

“You have to believe me,” started Joseph. “I’m your last hope. Without me your life will be filled with more terror and horror then known to man.

“Okay, so say you were really a ghost…what would you want to do with me? I’m just a kid, just a normal kid.”

“Well Dave, we both unfortunately know that you are not a normal child. I know you don’t need the reminder but you do get harshly abused by your mother. I know what it feels like to be abused and tormented for no reason. Sure, I was polish and homosexual but it never seemed logical to torture me over reasons beyond my control.”

“I don’t even know why my mother beats me. She just tells me I’m a bad kid, and I don’t deserve food.“ Dave admitted.

“Yes and this is why I’m here. I see your way of life as a modern concentration camp,” Joseph started. Dave thought about telling him that he thought of that earlier, but decided to let him finish.
“You see, in the camp I was taken to, I decided that I had a purpose. I had to help everybody that lived like me. I was very old and brittle and still strong enough to tell the stories of my life.”

“Can you tell me a story? Please?” Dave begged. He wanted to hear a story so badly.

“Alright alright. The story of Becca and the Briar Rose. So Becca was a young girl looking for the castle of her grandmother who she called Gemma. It turns out that her Gemma was the princess, who died. I kissed her to life and may I say that she was the only girl I had ever kissed. It turns out I was the prince that the story told about.” Joe explained.

“Wow, what a small world.” Dave exclaimed.

“Yes but I must go soon so listen carefully.” Joseph sternly directed, “you will get out of this situation with you mother. It won’t last forever. Please, take this experience and use it wisely in the future. You can work on doing what kids like you need when you’re older. You can help them out, and get them out.”

“Okay…okay, I will” Dave agreed.

“I must go, but take what I told you and use it.”

When Dave grew up, he worked as a social worker, helping kids. He also joined a California child abuse prevention group.

Gemma's Life by Hannah R

BOOM! Rebecca was shocked to wake up and find herself in a bunkroom with other children on the planet Eros. She had the second bed next to the door. She looked up and turned around to see if there was anyone she could see that looked nice enough to help her. She did not see anyone that looked friendly. As she put her, beautiful, long red hair up in a ponytail, she pondered about what to do and where she was, one of the smallest boys in the room, also the boy in the first bed next to the door, came over to her as if right on queue to answer her questions.

“You look a little lost. Don’t worry. I was petrified when I came here too. My name’s Ender.”, the boy said.
“Ho, Ender. I’m Rebecca. Where am I? How did I get here?”
“Well, right now, you are on the planet Eros. We are in a training school preparing for battle against the buggers. You were chosen off the earth to come help serve in our army.”

Just then, a note was slipped under the door. Ender went to pick it up and read it. He brought it over to where Rebecca was still standing. She asked him what it was. He told her that it meant they had a battle.

“A battle?! What kind of battle?” said Rebecca.
“A battle against the Rat Army lead by Dink Meeker at 0900. Two hours away.”
“We actually have to fight another army!? Like in a war?”
“We are on Eros to prepare for actual battles. This battle is just against kids like us. We have never lost a battle but that’s what comes from all of our hard work. You’ve got a lot of training ahead of you to have the same skill as everyone else in this army.”
Rebecca was in awe. She could not actually believe what was going on. She thought it was a dream or something so she tried pinching herself to wake up. But to no avail, she was still at the battlefield. She went with the rest of the army to breakfast and then training before the battle began. Then they all had to put on giant white suits that looked like an astronaut. There was a gun in the belt of it. Rebecca was curious what it did, so she took it out and shot a laser! She pressed another button and it immediately froze her legs. She could not move. Ender came over and thawed her.

“I see you’re trying out your equipment. How do you like it so far?”
“I’m not! Last thing I remember before arriving in a bed on Eros this morning is that I was in Poland! I was searching for a castle. The castle. My grandmothers’ castle. She was a princess.”

Ender just decided to walk away. He thought that Rebecca was going crazy after just one day at the battle school. At some points, he had thought the same about himself. Rebecca chased after Ender. “Ender! I want to go back…back to Poland to find the castle of Ksiezniczka. I promised her I would. I have to keep my promise. I didn't even choose to come here! I want to go home!"

During the battle, Ender felt sympathy for Rebecca and told her just to wait outside for four minutes, like Bonzo had done to him. She did and then Ender told her to go straight for the enemy gate, so of course she listened and was praised after for this achievement on her first day at battle school. They went to lunch and while eating, Rebecca saw someone she thought looked familiar. She walked over and sat down at his table.

"Josef?," she said.
"Do I know you?," replied the boy.
"Josef Potocki! Do you remember me? Rebecca Berlin. You knew my Gemma,
Ksiezniczka."
"Ksiezniczka? That sounds familiar. Maybe I do know you?"

Just then, Ender came over to Becca and wanted to speak to her alone. "You are right. This is Josef Potocki. When we brought him to Eros, we erased his memories so that he would not be traumatized from another war. We would like it if you would not speak to him about anything you know about his past or your
grandmothers’."

After lunch, the Dragon army went back to their room. They were all having their own talks. Just then, a whole stack of notes is passed under the door; one for every child in the room. Ender passed them out and said that it meant they were all being promoted to Battle. In the final battle, many people were killed but as Josef looked around at
all the corpses, he saw one that seemed to be still moving.

"Rebecca!!!," he cried. He ran over to the pile of dead bodies and started to dig through until he found the beautiful, slim, girl with red hair and pale skin. He picked her up as a groom would do to his bride on their wedding day and carried her over to a
safe spot. He tried to revive the last breaths of her, but could not.
"Ender! Come, quick!," Josef called out in Ender's direction.
"What's the matter Josef?" He then looked down at the ground next to Josef and ran over quickly.

"Our best female warrior. What a shame to lose her."
"What do you mean!? She's not lost. You can help her. You can do anything. Help.," Josef said in a very serious tone.

Ender got down on his knees and tried to revive Becca. He finally tried breathing into her mouth. Suddenly, she gasped for air and could start to breath on her own. When she looked up and saw Ender standing above her, she smiled. "Thank you," were the only words she said. Their eyes met and Ender believed for that the first time in his life, he loved someone besides his sister, Valentine. "Just like Ksiezniczka.," whispered Potocki, who had started to remember things from his past. He helped Becca off of the ground and they walked away together. Since they had won the battle, the planet of Eros had become theirs.

Ender was chosen to be mayor of this new community and upon making his inaugural speech, he also proposed to Rebecca Berlin. They became married a year later. Upon settling on this new planet, Becca requested that Ender make a new law.

A rose bush was planted outside of every family's front door in honor of the sleeping Princess.

Two Adventures in Poland by Abby F

Junice shuddered. It was overcast, and chilly. She was quickly learning that this part of Poland was like that often. In the event that the sun did peak out from behind the steely gray cloud wall, it was quickly ushered back behind. She wasn’t even sure why she was here now, it definitely wasn’t a place she normally would have found herself in. a few weeks ago she hadn’t even thought much about going out of Harlem, let alone going across the sea. This was Damian’s doing.

“Come on, Junice. Think of it as an adventure. You and I, on an adventure!” He seemed so excited, there was no way she could have denied him this trip. She was still reeling that Damian was even still with her. After all of the events that had just passed, she was convinced he would decide she wasn’t worth the hassle. Her mother was still in prison, and she was utterly alone, left to fend for herself and her little sister by herself. Damian was valiant though, and persevered through the tough times.

She curled her hand further around her mug. She was in a small bar-like establishment, but it certainly wasn’t like any pub back home. The people here were few and far between, and hostile to boot. They all walked around like they had a huge backpack glued to their shoulders, and no matter what, they couldn’t shake it. Did they even want to? Junice asked herself, smirking into her cup. The steam rose from it in wispy tendrils, rushing by her nose with a warm heat. It even seemed in a hurry to escape this downcast place. Would I even want to? She cast a glance at the dreary faces claiming spots on barstools and booths. Maybe this wasn’t so unlike Harlem. A lot of people there seemed to be frozen where they were; their futures stapled to them before they could even begin to dream of something better. She knew she felt that way. Under any other circumstances, Junice would be at home now, in her cramped apartment, helping Ms. Rosie take care of Melissa (granted a judge had decided Ms. Rosie was competent enough to do so). Probably cooking what she could find lying around. Maybe she’d be at the jail, talking to her mother? Not here, in Poland, drinking a questionable substance in a sketchy little bar.

Without even realizing, Junice shivered. The atmosphere changed as the entrance door swung open, blasting the room with a chilling breeze. Customers drew back apprehensively, sneering and muttering innuendos in Polish. She turned, hoping to see Damian’s bright, lovely face approaching her. She wanted to see him more than anything right now. However, realization hit her with a muted pang. It wasn’t Damian, not even close. It was some woman, probably from the states, she assessed. She had dark hair and dark eyes. She wore a large wool sweater, and was hugging herself, obviously not impervious to the cold. Despite the circumstances, she had a far away smile on her face. She was visibly preoccupied. She floated over to the barstool next to her. She slid onto it, and waved over the bartender. They exchanged some words, and she ordered something in broken Polish. The bartender sighed, appearing to be inconvenienced in some way. Isn’t this your job? She thought bitterly, sipping on her now luke warm drink. She was surprised at herself for being so cynical. She frowned, bewildered at how she suddenly got so hostile.

The bartender slammed the woman’s drink onto the counter, jostling Junice out of her thoughts. After taking a sip and grimacing lightly, she turned to her.

“Hi, I’m Becca. What’s your name?”

“I, uhhh, I’m Junice,” She answered warily. “Why do you ask?”

“Well, you seemed like someone who knew English,” she glanced over her shoulder, then back to Junice, tipping her chin towards the others. “Unlike most of the other people here, I assume.”

“I see. So how are you getting around if you don’t know Polish?” It was quite an endeavor to try, Junice thought. Damian had thought of everything. He somehow managed to find a translator, cheap.

“Oh, well you see, I’m here on a quest of sorts.” She seemed to look past Junice for a moment, and then refocused. “This used to be the site of a concentration camp, did you know that?” Juniced nodded. “Oh, well take my word for it. My grandmother escaped from here back in the 1940’s. She died recently, and we became curious about our family’s past. Sadly, nobody else in my family was that curious,” She took another sip. “So I’m here on my own. My boss helped me coordinate a trip, translator and all, and all I have to do in exchange is write an article about my findings when I return to the states.” Junice was suddenly intrigued.

“Have you found out what happened yet?”

“Yes, it took me a while, and I had to follow a very complicated trail, but I did. My grandmother left me a mystery of sorts to solve.” Reading her confused expression, Becca continued. “She used to tell my sisters and I a fairytale, the same one every time. It was Briar Rose, you know, like Sleeping Beauty?” Junice nodded, even though she wasn’t completely sure. She didn’t really think much about her life before now, she had more important things to do besides reminisce. “Well, before she died, my grandmother told me that she was Briar Rose. She wanted me to find her ‘castle.’ Everyone was skeptical. They all said she was too old, and that she was just rambling. But I promised her.” She said this fervently. “So despite my family’s’ better wishes, I came here to uncover the past. So here I am, with new knowledge and a promise fulfilled.” She grinned. “What are you doing here?”

“I’m with my sister and my boyfriend. We’re, uh, on an adventure, I guess.” Becca nodded. “Here of all places? Not much of an adventure if you ask me.”

“I didn’t think so either. I don’t think it’s much of an adventure, either.”

“Oh really?” Becca’s interest seemed piqued.

“Yeah. I think he wants us to be away from DSS and his mom, to be completely honest. Why do you care?” She wasn’t used to having random strangers caring about her like this.

“Oh, sorry to pry, but I’m a reporter. It’s what I do.” She blushed a little.

“Okay, then I want to pry.” Junice smiled, wanting to change the subject before she was asked to explain further. “Do you have a boyfriend?” Becca looked down. “I really don’t know. I think – no, I – um. I don’t know. There is someone, but I really couldn’t tell you.” Junice nodded. “I get it.”

Just then, the door opened again. This time it was Damian. He ushered Melissa in quickly and quietly into the bar. The translator followed behind, speaking thickly accented English ardently.

“You can’t be in here, not with that one!” He scolded, pointing to Melissa. “It’ll only be a second,” Damian assured him. “Junice, we have to go, sorry love.” Junice looked back to Becca. “I guess this is when I go. Good luck with your, uh, love interest? And your article.” Becca nodded, and looked at Damian and Melissa. “Good luck to you too. It seems as though you’re in capable hands.” With that, Junice got up, leaving Becca and her mug at the booth.

Cousins Reunited by Eric P

Alfred came out of his apartment and went in the park across the street. He did
his jog around the park like he did when he was training to be a boxer. He
filled his lungs with the cool fresh air. He passed the two cops sitting in the
bushes like he does everyday. Alfred noticed a kid that was sitting under a
tree. Alfred had never seen the young boy in the park before. Alfred asked the
boy what is name was. The boy responded, “My name is Dave Pelzer”. Alfred was
astonished.” You’re my cousin,” Alfred said.

“What are you doing in Harlem?" Alfred asked.

"My family moved here last summer," Dave said.

Alfred's mom had told him that he had a cousin named Dave
Pelzer but Alfred had never seen him.” What is going on in your life?" David asked.

"I have become a boxer," Alfred said.

Alfred has been working out at Donatelli's gym. Nothing fun or exciting was happening in David's life. David's life has been horrible. His mom gives him beatings daily for him being a "bad boy”.” What are
those bruises from?" Alfred asked.

“I fell of my bike," David said.

Alfred
knew that David was being abused by his mom though.
David ended up telling Alfred the truth about his bruises. David also told Alfred
about the horrible games that his mom would play with him. Alfred felt really bad
for David. Alfred hated to hear about the gas chamber game that David received
almost daily.

.” Does your mom feed you?" Alfred asked.

” No, my mom usually never feeds me," David said.

” If my mom does give me the luxury of food, it is scraps that my dogs would not even eat.

” Are you hungry now?" Alfred asked.

"Yaw," David said.

Alfred spotted a hot dog vender across the street. Alfred and
David got a couple hot dogs each. They headed back to the park to talk some
more, and to eat their delicious hot dogs.

David and Alfred sat under a big green tree that was swaying back and fourth
from the wind. It was a beautiful day outside. There was not a cloud in the sky.
The park seemed even bigger since there were not as many people anymore.

"What is your life like?" David asked.

” It is pretty good," Alfred said.

” The bad part is that I would sometimes get beat up by this bully named Major.

After that fight he started training to be a boxer. Alfred told David how he had to start to eat
healthy and wake up early and go jogging in the morning. Alfred told him how
he wanted to quit sometimes because of the hard workouts he had to do.

"I like boxing so much that the grueling workouts were worth it,” Alfred said.

"Did you ever go on vacation?" Alfred asked.

” My family and I use to go to the Russian River.” We would go there to camp, swim in the lake, and have fun,” as a family," David said.

” My mom was actually nice to me then too," David said.

David told Alfred how the Russian River was his favorite place in the world.
He said his mom and dad would take them to the water slides and the lake to
have fun. David said that at night they would make a fire and his mom would
put her arms around him and tell him how much she loved him. Alfred felt so
bad for David. Alfred goes to his apartment and asks his mom if it would be
alright if they could help David to find a foster home for him. Alfred and his
mom said that they will try to help David as much as they can.
Alfred and David walk back to Alfred's place to eat dinner. Both of them walk
across the street when the sun is setting below the horizon. Alfred keeps on
talking about how David will beagle to live a better life now.

Our Trip to Germany by Emily A

As she looked out the window all she could see where the clouds. The plane ride was much longer than she expected. Right when she was about to close her eyes, the pilot came over the loud speaker, “Sorry for the interruption, we will arrive in Germany in approximately 20 minutes.” Rebecca turned to the blonde haired woman next to her.
“Is this your first time visiting Germany?”
“Actually, it’s my second time; I went here when I was younger and loved it, I have wanted to go back ever since and here I am now.” “Oh and by the way, my name is Daisy.”
“Yes I saw it on your name tag around your neck, my name is Rebecca; this is actually my first time coming here. My grandmother past away recently and she was originally from here. She used to tell me all these interesting stories about Germany; I have always wanted to come.”
“It is quite the place, said Daisy, there’s always something to do.”
“Oh yes I have heard that a lot,” replied Rebecca.
“Where were you born?” asked Daisy.
“I live in Holyoke Massachusetts with my parents, where are you from?” asked Rebecca.
“Well actually I lived in New York with my father and step-mother, but they recently sent me to live in England with my aunt and four cousins. I was just getting back, when my father surprised me with this trip.” Right when Rebecca was about to speak the pilot came onto the loud speaker.
“Good Afternoon passengers aboard # 23145, we are arriving in Germany, please remain in your seats until further assistance.”
“Well I guess this is it, hopefully ill run into you when were here, it would be lots of fun to see you again.” said Rebecca.
“Most definitely, it was nice meeting you.” responded Daisy.
When the pilot finally gave the instructions to exit the plane, Rebecca wasted no time. She got her luggage and headed outside for a taxi. First she decided to head to her hotel, check in, and then head into downtown Germany. As for Daisy, she’s already saw all the beautiful sights and wanted to catch up on some much need sleep. She went outside to her rental car awaiting her, and drove to her hotel.
It was around 9am the next morning when Rebecca finally rolled out of bed. After a late night of sight seeing she was exhausted. She took a shower, got dressed, and then again headed to downtown to get breakfast. As for Daisy who slept practically all night got up bright n early to head into town. After hearing plenty of recommendations on “Rose’s CafĂ©” being the best place for breakfast Rebecca headed to the counter of the restaurant to order a bagel and coffee. Right when she was about to pay she felt a tap on her shoulder.
“Who would have thought we would have met the next morning?” said Daisy
“Hey Daisy!” replied Rebecca. I just woke up and everyone at the hotel had been telling me to check out this place.
“Well they are right, it’s my favorite place!” said Daisy.
Rebecca finished ordering her breakfast and sat next to Daisy at the table for two.
“What did you end up doing last night?”
“Actually I came back to town and had dinner, then just went sightseeing as some would say.” said Rebecca.
They finished there coffee and bagels and headed outside. It wasn’t the nicest day; it was very overcast and looked as if it was going to rain.
“I feel so sorry” said Daisy. I would love to walk around with you and show you everything there is to see but I have an appointment with a gentleman, I thinking of moving out here.
“Oh don’t worry about it” yawned Rebecca. I was going to head back and take a nap myself. I am still pretty beat from the plane ride and last night.
“Well if I don’t see you before you leave you have a wonderful rest of your trip.” said Daisy.
“Thanks you too!” replied Rebecca.
Rebecca headed back to her hotel, while Daisy headed to the appointment she had at 12. Daisy and Rebecca never saw each other again before they left. A week later when Rebecca arrived in Holyoke she was so excited to tell her parents and two sisters everything that happened. As for Daisy she ended up coming home one last time before moving to Germany

Found Friends by Chris M

Alfred is a 14 year old boy that lives in Harlem. He goes to a gym every day to work out with boxing. He has to get up early every day and run. Alfred is a colored person; he is about 5 feet 7 inches. He had a friend named James but he was being stupid one night and trying to rob a store. So he got caught and went to jail.
One day when Alfred was walking down the street he saw a kid probably around the same age as himself playing basketball by himself. He thought to himself, “should I go over there to play with him and give him company?”
Alfred goes over to him and says,” Hey what’s your name?”
Ender, the kid says. “Want to shoot some hoops,” Ender replies?
“Sure, where are you from I haven’t seen you here before,” Alfred says?
“Yeah I am not from around here but you don’t need to know that though,” Ender said.


“Ok whatever, do you want to come over for dinner were having Mac and Cheese,” Alfred says?
“Sure that’s fine with me,” Ender replies.
As they got to Alfred’s house Alfred asked if Ender could sleep over and it was a yes. So all night they were talking about sports and who they liked the most. Mainly (the sports) was just basketball because that is the sport they both loved the most.
Then the conversation came up as Ender why you are in Harlem?
He said that he needed a little vacation.
“From what,” Alfred replied?
“See at school I have to be taught how to become a warrior and kill all of the buggars which are kind of like aliens. They lived on a different planet. That was basically my life. It was great and I was great at killing to. One of the top in my class. I was getting trained for the 3rd battle which by the way we won. So basically I came up here because I needed a break until I have to fight them again because I set the buggars loose again,” Ender said.
“O so you are good at fighting I see,” Alfred replied?
“Yeah I am,” Ender said.
“So listen to this I have a kid who has been bullying me and I need some help, so do you think that you can help me beat him up,” Alfred asked?
“um sure I guess,” Ender said.
The next morning Alfred and Ender walked down the street to find Major the kid who bullies. They both saw him standing at the corner of the sidewalk on North Main St. They walked up to him and he was making fun of Alfred because he is so much smaller than Major. Major is 6 feet 3 inches and 250 pounds. He is strong and mean. So Ender speaks to him and says,”hey shut up you overgrown loser. Major throws a punch and they all start a brawl and 2 on 1 fight.
It was a nice close fight all had black eyes but turns out major came out short and lost.
Ender and Alfred both walked home proud and strong.
Alfred says,” finally he’s off my back; I am the king of this town now!”

When Two Friends Meet by Ben G

It was a quiet peaceful day. The sun was shining and Becca was walking around in the nice little town in Poland. While she was walking she encounted a friend that she has not seen in years. She walked up to him and said a friendly hello. His name was Ender. They went to school together and she sat next to him to talk.

“So how have you been doing ender?” Becca asked.

“I have been better but I am ok now that I have seen you.” Ender said right back at her.

“Same here” she said. “I am here to find out more about my
Grandmother that just died.”

“Oh I am so sorry for your loss” Ender said with a tear running
down his face.

“Its ok she was really old and now she is in a better place.” She said with no sad expression on her face at all.

“Well I am here for a vacation. I have been working with a
simulator battling evil space aliens. It gets really tiring waking up at 3 in the morning to battle some wacky aliens that want to enslave the earth.” He said in a not so happy tone. But Becca just could not help it. She started to laugh really hard. That got him really mad. So he got up and started to walk away. Once he got only 10 feet away Becca got up and chased after him.

“Wait, Ender, I am really sorry for what I said.”
Ender just stared at her for what seemed like hours, but was only a minute. Then he forgave her and they got back to their conversation. They started talking about each other. First it was Beccas turn to describe her.

“You know what happened to me when we were kids but when we went our separate ways after school, that’s when all the exciting stuff happened. After my Gemma died I promised to find out who she is, whatever it takes. So I looked through all her stuff and found a clue that led me here. But I am still looking for more clues.” She said.

“Wow that must be hard to look for something but you don’t know what it is. I don’t think that I could do that. Now being serious, I really do work for the government taking down alien ships. It is a hard job. I don’t really get to see any of my family and I have to sleep in a certain place just in case I have to do a battle. It took me so long to work up this vacation time.” He said.

“Oh yeah I bet it did with a job like that.” Becca said with a chuckle.

“I really wanted to come here to Poland to try out their food. I hear they have the best food around.”

“Oh yeah they do.” They both laughed. “Well I have got to go because I have to catch my flight back to the US.”

“Ok bye it was very nice to see you.” Becca said.

Home Sweet Home by Abbey K

David had just got to the foster home where he found his Aunt Pearl, from Harlem, New York, waiting for him at the doors. She was his father's sister but talked mostly every day and stayed in touch. She knew what was going on between David and his mother and hoped she could help.

David was all bruised and had cuts all over his body, his clothes were all ripped and torn from head to toe and as he walked you could see his big toe coming out of the top of his shoe.

"David," said the police officer, "you will be living with your Aunt for the time being, unless she chooses to adopt you. David, your mother will not bother you any more, we cannot allow that, we know how bad she hurt you, and you can't live like that anymore. Perl.."

A second after the police officer called Aunt Perl over, he was already in her arms. David loved Aunt Perl and couldn't wait to live with her, the twins and Alfred. But thought it would be different living in a colored surrounding. I could get used to this, though.

The drive to Harlem took forever. He was excited and yet afraid for his new life. How would Alfred feel? He hadn't seen the kid in forever. How would school go? David thought all this the whole ride there, when finally they pulled up to the house with three kids sitting on the stoop. David hoped out of the car.

"My man David," said Alfred walking over with a huge welcoming smile, "I was pretty excited when I found out you were coming to live with us. I need another man in the house. How you been, you don't look so well."

"Yeah, life at home was pretty bad, I'm happy to be here." Said David

"Say, Aunt Perl, can you make me and David some of your famous chicken, I bet he'd love some of that right now, we otta get a little meat in the kids body." said Alfred running up the stoop stairs with David's bags.

David followed Alfred up the steps into Alfred's room. Alfred was about 4 years older then David. He was tall, skinny, and looked like her had some savvier bruises on his body. Alfred sat on the bed and watched David as he unpacked his things.
"Hey Alfred, what happened to your eye?" questioned David.

"Well I was a fighter, but not like street fight, I was a boxer. I fought for a man named Mr. Donatello, REAL tough guy. Made me run every morning at like 5:30, then go back to the gym and work out. If I were you I would never become a boxer, real tough work, but personally I enjoyed it. And this black eye, yeah, got that in my last match. I was 2 for 2, but then I got a real beating at this last match. Mr. Donatello made me quit boxing because he thought I wasn't good enough."

“That’s pretty harsh,” said David “If I knew how to box, I wouldn’t let my mom treat me the way she did!”

“I hear ya, little man, I hear ya. Don’t let it get to you though; she’s long gone and hopefully never coming back. Hopefully Aunt Perl will adopt you and you’ll live with me and I’ll train you to become a fighter, I’ll take you to the gym and everything,” said Alfred.

His words helped touched David. He’s never had this feeling for along time. But yet, he wasn’t sure what the feeling was. Was it happiness? Was it joy?

A few months passed and David hadn’t found a true adopter yet, until one day as Alfred was out working and the twins were at school, Aunt Perl sat David down to talk. She set out a nice piece of ham, scrambled eggs, a side of toast and a glass of orange juice. She sat down with papers and smiled at him.

“David, do you know what these papers are?” she asked.

“No Mam`.” He said

“Well David these are your adoption papers, I called the Foster home and I’m willing to adopt you. You’ve been getting along great with the family, and Alfred needs a man around the house. So I have considered signing your papers and adopting you. David, I think you found your new home!” David just sat there smiling, he was shocked. Did Aunt Perl really mean it; did he really find a new home? He back out of his seat and ran to Aunt Perl and wrapped his arms around her.

“Do you really mean it, is this really my new home?” asked David.

“You bet, sweetheart,” said Aunt Perl.

All of a sudden, Alfred walked through the door. He saw David crying with happiness and Aunt Perl with the papers.

“What’s going on?” asked Alfred as David ran running to him with a hug.

“Guess whose moving in Alfred, I’m staying. Aunt Perl adopted me!” David shouted with an enormous smile and tears running down his eyes.

“Well looks like were gunna start training tomorrow there David!” smirked Alfred.

One Saved the World, the Other is Probably Stoned: A Conversation Between Ender Wiggin and James by Peter L

Ender had been waiting for too long. Waaay too long. James was supposed to be there almost seven hours ago, and yet he had still not arrived. Ender suspected that he was probably still in Harlem, or trying to figure out how to open up Ender’s door without it biting his hand off (Ender had been told that James had a problem with narcotics)

“Hey, man!! Open up!” James shouted through the door.

Ender walked to the door. “James, why are you so late? I called Alfred about 12 hours ago and he said you would be here!”

Whoever had told Ender about James’ problems, sadly, was correct. James simply replied that he was out doing other things. He had lost sight of what was important in life and had fallen down the slippery slope towards drug addiction. Ender, on the other hand, since destroying the bugger colony, had joined a volunteer group linking teens from different areas to interact and socialize with each other. James had been forced to join this group by the Harlem County Police. After a few minutes of Ender prodding James with questions and James staring into the corners of the room, the two decided to proceed into Ender’s home to have a conversation.
Ender’s sister, Valentine, had offered to keep them some company, but James (being under the influence of…something) suspected that she was wearing a wire, for an unknown reason. So the two had a seat and began to talk. Ender told some very interesting stories about Battle School, of which anyone who paid attention to would find fascinating and want to hear more about. Sadly, James did not.
Ender didn’t like to talk about himself much, but since James was from another area and didn’t really want to share about his life, so Ender would rather come off as cocky rather than sit there for the volunteer groups’ predetermined time limit of 3-and-a-half hours. He had set a timer about an hour ago, and yet this seemed to have been a weeks’ worth of Ender talking and James (sort of) listening.

“So, Bonzo had clearly taken a disliking to me, and one day he approached me in the showers…” Ender continued with his stories.

“Man, this is a freaky place…what am I doing here... has this kid been talking the whole time?” James’ thoughts began to panic.

Even though he wasn’t really focused in any way, James’ thoughts compelled his mouth to ask Ender about some of the other things in his life; his name (who names their kid Ender?), about his siblings, his parents. Ender began to talk about Peter, for he had not been in the house at the current time. Ender hated Peter, found him to be a monstrosity. The hatred was so great in Andrew (Ender) that he found all the things wrong with the planet to have one primary source for their being: Peter.

“So, uh, Enderd, your bro doesn’t sound like a very good guy.” Said James after a few moments.

“First of all,” replied Ender, “my name is not Enderd. It’s Andrew, even though most people I talk to call me Ender; except for my sister. Thirdly,” Ender cringed after using the word Third in a sentence, “my brother is a horrible human being, and even worse of a person; and I have to see him every day I live in this house.”

“Woah; I’d hate being a brother to someone like that. Sorry.” James came to a realization that he may have problems, but at least he can work on them instead of having to share an address with them.

DING! Enders’ timer went off. The seemingly everlasting conversation was over, and it seemed like both guys had bettered from it. Ender discovered that even though he must be related to his worst enemy, he could ignore it; he could talk to others and learn about them instead of having to talk about himself. This, it turned out, didn’t happen with James; but Ender could find people that weren’t most likely high during the conversation. On the other hand, James decided to try and cope with his addictions, and to become an intelligent, caring person like Ender was.
Ender showed James to the door and the two parted ways; both headed towards better lives.

Friends by Nina W

In Holyoke, Ma lived a woman named Rebecca. She worked for a small newspaper company. She was very good about visiting her grandmother or Gema who lived in a nursing center for the elderly. Her parents were not so good on the other hand and neither were her sisters who live in California and Houston. Today, although Rebecca wasn’t on her own it felt like it. Her sisters weren’t coming because they wanted to but because they knew it was polite. As they walked into room 310 they passed Mrs. Hartshorn who was tying knots in her long white hair, Mrs.Benton who was crying and calling out for her mother. As always her grandmother was a sleep.
Rebecca called her name softly,”Gemma.”
“Is that you Rebecca?” Gemma said. “I was the princess in the castle in the sleeping woods. I was the princess when the great mist fell over us forcing us all a sleep. The prince kissed me only me awake. Promise you will find the castle it is all I have to give you. Promise.”
“I promise Gemma.”
Across the country lived a boy named David at the age of about fourteen. He was living in a foster home although if you told him it would take him a second to process it. He was so close to them because he was loved and treated like he actually was someone unlike his real parents. Anyway the family he was living with got a call from his foster mother’s close friend whose mother had died. They were invited to the funeral but told they shouldn’t feel obliged because of airfare but the family decided to go anyways. So they packed up their stuff and flew to Holyoke, Ma.
As they walked into the church the families saw each other and greeted one another with hugs. Everyone noticed a small boy dressed in a long sleeve shirt after all it was the middle of july.
“Now who is this little fellow?” asked Rebecca.
“Yes, who?” replied her sisters and her parents.
“This is David we have adopted him.” said David’s foster mother.
“Rebecca go show him the house.” Her mother said.
As they walked out of the church Rebecca asked him if he would mind telling her how he came into foster care. He said no and that he came to foster care because he was beaten by his mother. Rebecca said she felt so sorry and of course he responded it’s okay its over now. Rebecca said if it helps my grandmother was in a concentration camp and she was the only woman to come out alive.
“That’s so sad.” David said.
“It is not really any sadder than your story.” Rebecca said. “Come on I will bring you back to your mother.”
“Oh hi david! Are you ready to leave yet?” his mother asked.
“NO!” shouted David. “I want to stay here and play with my new friend.”
“What friend?”
“Rebecca”
“Rebeccas your friend? Well we have to go now. She can visit us whenever she wants. Come on David we are leaving.” Called his mother.

Returning home by Marissa K

Daisy was still getting used to life back home in New York when her cousin, Becca, called. She had heard about what had gone on with Daisy in England, and wanted to make sure she was okay. They agreed that Daisy would go down to Massachusetts so they could catch up on what had been going on with them both.

Daisy and Becca were very close and got together as often as possible. Daisy knew about how Becca had gone to Poland to figure out who their grandmother had been. Their grandmother, Gemma, had insisted that she had been living in a castle in Poland and Becca had promised her that she would find the castle and find out who she was. Daisy was so excited to hear all about the trip.

They met up two weeks later at Becca’s house in Massachusetts. When Daisy rang the doorbell, her Aunt Eve answered.

“Oh, Elizabeth, how are you? Your father told us all about your awful trip. I hope the war there didn’t shake you up too much,” said Aunt Eve.

Daisy sighed loudly. “Aunt Eve, you know that no one calls me Elizabeth. I was never an Elizabeth. My name is Daisy.”

“Yes of course, Daisy,” Aunt Eve said. “I just always thought you would grow to love the name Elizabeth.”

No one ever called Daisy by her real name, Elizabeth, except for Aunt Eve. Daisy loved Aunt Eve to death, but it annoyed her just as much when she called her Elizabeth.

“Becca is in her room. She has been waiting to talk to you for quite some time now. She is very excited.” Aunt Eve guided Daisy through the hall to Becca’s room.

Daisy walked into Becca’s room to find her cousin on the phone. But when she saw Daisy she nearly screamed.

“Stan? I’ve got to call you back. My cousin, Daisy, the one I told you about is here! Okay, bye. HI DAISY!” Becca leaped up and gave Daisy the biggest hug she had ever gotten in her life. “How was England? Well, other than the war, tell me about your cousins!”

“Well, Piper is nine and just about the sweetest girl you will ever meet. She even remembered my name as Daisy after I only told her once! Edmond is fourteen and can almost read your mind. You can think something as quietly as possible but he will still hear it,” Daisy paused, wondering if she should tell Becca about what really went on between her and Edmond, but decided against it. She wasn’t sure how Becca would react to Daisy loving her own cousin. “Isaac and Edmond are twins, but Isaac has green eyes. You can leave him for an hour, then turn a corner and he would be there. It’s like he can sense where you are! Osbert is the oldest, and he acts much older than he actually is. He so wanted to be a spy during the war – he and his friends would play it forever! Aunt Penn actually had to leave and didn’t come back until after I left. I still don’t know if Edmond made it back. I had to leave before he came back.”

“Wow, I never thought it would be that bad. And you haven’t even told me about during the war yet!” From the look in Becca’s eyes, Daisy could tell she was interested. And being a journalist, Becca was remembering every bit of the story.

“Piper and I got separated from everyone else and we went to live with a family. But we had to leave and eventually, we were living in the woods! But we finally found our way back to the house, which was trashed from the army people living in it. I haven’t talked to them since I left, and all I know is that Piper is okay. Isaac and Edmond are still missing in my mind, and I’m so worried about both of them. Osbert actually went to work with the army, so I don’t know if he is alive either. But anyways, enough about my time in England. How was your trip to Poland?” Daisy finished her story and was anxious to hear about Becca’s trip.

“I had to get an interpreter first off. Her name was Magda and we stayed at her house. Later on I met Josef who knew Gemma and told us the story of how they met and how they survived. Apparently there was a man that had traveled with Josef during World War II and he was our grandfather. I still don’t know her real name, except that she was called Ksiezniczka, which means Princess in Polish. That’s because the camp that she went to for the war was an old castle, and that’s why she insisted that she was a princess. And she was kissed awake because she had been poisoned by gas and Josef had done CPR.”

“Oh wow, sounds like you did some serious investigating, Becca! Is that story going to be in your newspaper?” Daisy was hooked on the story, and wished she could’ve gone. Then she remembered Edmond and took it back.

“No. Since it’s a family story, we can’t so we don’t upset any distant relatives who were close with Gemma,” Becca looked disappointed. Daisy could tell she would have had fun writing up that article. “Anyways, how’s Davina? That must have been another perk about going to England.”

“Yeah, it was pretty nice not having her always nagging me and pretending to be upset because of me,” Daisy thought about her time in England and how she had had more freedom there than she had ever had in New York. “Who was that you were talking to on the phone earlier? Anyone special?”

“Actually, that was Stan. He’s kind of like my boss. Well, now he’s kind of like...my boyfriend,” Becca started to blush. “It’s new since I’ve come back.”

“Ahh I’m so happy for you Becca!”Daisy really and truly was happy for her cousins new boyfriend, happy that she had ever gone to England to meet Edmond especially, and just happy to be home.

A friend at last by Lindsay C

It was a rainy day with patches of fog in the autumn air. Dave Pelzer, a twelve year old boy, was walking to school being able to hear the grumbling of his stomach from not being allowed to eat in days. It soon became harder to walk; he got weaker and weaker from each step he took. He wished that he could have someone to talk to about all the horrible things occurring in his life. After what seemed like forever, Dave arrived at his new school in Poland. As he passed through the hallways, he received looks of disgust. He assumed this was because of the filthy white shirt his mother sent him to school with everyday. Dave had hoped that his new school would be better than the previous because other students always made fun of him.

It was lunch time and Dave had just finished history class. He decided he would stay there and rest until lunch was over because there was no use in going to the cafeteria when he had no lunch and no money to buy anything. Dave felt a gentle tap on his shoulder. He turned around and found a beautiful young woman.

“Hello, my name is Rebecca Berlin, I’m your history teachers daughter.” she greeted him politely.

“Hi, my name is Dave Pelzer, I just moved here.” Dave responded.

“Would you mind if I ate in here?” Rebecca asked.

“No, its okay, I’d love the company.” Dave answered.

It was a short conversation, but it made Dave feel slightly happy because someone had actually talked to him without being mean and saying nasty things to him. Rebecca had been kind enough to give him half of her sandwich. When the bell rang, Rebecca said she would meet him outside of the front blue doors at the end of the school day. Dave was so excited!
The rest of the day seemed to go by so slowly. All through his classes Dave noticed a lot of things about his new school. All the white walls had a tint of yellow on them. In the corners there were huge spider webs. Dave was surprised when he looked out the windows in his math class.. There were all sorts of colorful flowers and plants inside a greenhouse. There were beautiful colors and he could smell the dampness of the air from the rain that had came down that morning. It was a bit shocking that the school looked so much nicer on the outside than on the inside.
Finally, it was time to leave school. Dave nearly ran down through the hallways and shoved the front blue doors open. Rebecca was waiting on the wooden bench near the freshly cut grass. Rebecca and Dave headed out of the school grounds to take a walk.

“How long have you lived here?” Dave questioned Rebecca.

“Well it’s actually a really long story.” She responded.

“I have plenty of time.” Dave giggled.
Rebecca began by saying, “When I was younger my grandmother always read to me the tale of Sleeping Beauty. Before my grandmother died she told me that this tale wasn’t any fantasy, she claims she herself was Briar Rose. I had made a promise to her that I would look more into this tale that was no longer a fantasy. This is when I decided to go on a quest to Poland to try and unravel this mystery.”

Rebecca went home when they passed her street. It was a very wealthy neighborhood and she had a beautiful tan house with a very big yard. Dave walked home and was happy to realize that Rebecca and he only lived two blocks away from each other. He had such a great afternoon that he forgot about what awaited him at home, his abusive mother. As soon as he walked in the old squeaking white door, he was instantly in danger. His mother asked him where he had been for the past hour. As his punishment, his mother filled the bath with freezing cold water and stuck Dave’s head into it. His head soon became so numb; he couldn’t feel any part of his body. Finally, after what seemed like forever, his mother moved her hand and sent him straight down to the garage. The garage was Dave’s room. There was a cot with a thin sheet that never kept him warm enough. Oh, how he wished he could escape.

The next morning came fairly quickly. Dave and Rebecca walked to school together. As they were walking into school, Rebecca experienced how rude and obnoxious the other students were to Dave. The day before, she had noticed he was wearing that same old dirty white shirt and wondered why, so she asked him why he had worn the same things two days in a row. She immediately regretted asking and felt a pain of guilt strike through her body when Dave started to get tears in his eyes.

“Meet me outside of the first cafeteria, I’ll explain there.” Dave responded.

The two new friends parted as Rebecca went to her mother’s classroom and Dave went to math class at the other end of the building and up the flight of stairs.

All morning, Rebecca had been so anxious to listen to what Dave had to say. The bell finally rang for lunch and she raced to the cafeteria. Her and Dave went in together and sat at one of the round lunch table near the windows. She noticed Dave didn’t have a lunch, for the second day in a row, now she became very curious what was going on.

Dave began, “My mother abuses me, emotionally and physically. She is always telling me how bad of a child I am and how I don’t even deserve to be living in this world. If I make one mistake, she does something brutal to me such as taking my hand and burning it on the stove or shoving my head into freezing cold water, trying to drown me. The reason I never have lunch is because my mother starves me. I am also socially isolated.”

Rebecca and Dave walked back from school together after a really emotional day. Rebecca finished what she had been talking about the day before.

“So I went to Poland and stayed with my cousin. She and I were on a mission to figure out about Briar Rose. After a while of searching and asking around, my cousin found an old man that was able to give us all the information we needed. He took us back to World War II; this is where I learned the truth and horrifying story of my grandmother’s life. She ended up being Briar Rose.”
Dave had been so amazed at what a great person Rebecca was. She was thoughtful and caring enough to hold a deathbed promise. After their conversations, they both decided they would always keep and touch no matter what happened because they could talk about anything with each other.

Summer Reading Essay by Leona N

- A Child Called “It”
-Briar Rose

Rebecca sighed as she looked at the clock in the room. She didn’t get out of work until 12:00 and it was still 10:00. She would start her night shift at 8 pm, and go until midnight. It got hot in California, especially in midsummer. She checked her clipboard. Her next patient, Dave Pelzer, was a new one. She recognized the last name from somewhere. When he came in, his mother dropped him off and then went back to the waiting room to her two other sons. That’s when she realized where she knew the name from- they were neighbors.

“What’s your name?” she asked, even though she knew it.

“Dave,” he replied.

“Where do you live?”

“76 Kendall Boulevard,”

“Huh…so we’re next door neighbors,” Becca thought. But she had never seen this boy playing outside before, only his two brothers. But, Becca was new to the neighborhood, so she shrugged it off.

“You can call me Nurse Becca,” she said, “I’m going to check you over to make sure you’re healthy.”

“OK.”
The young woman noticed that the boy seemed too skinny. She had him step on to the scale. He was underweight. As she examined his arms and legs, she noticed fading and new bruises.

“Where are those bruises from?” Becca asked.

“I fell down the stairs,” he quickly said.

Rebecca finished the examination, and other than the bruises and low weight, he was healthy.

“Okay Dave, we’re all done, but just remember, you need to eat more, or you’ll get sick,” Becca told him.

“I’ll try,” he said grimly.

Dave and his family left the office. When she got home, Becca decided to keep an eye out for Dave, to see if he came outside. For the next few weeks, Becca never saw him outside, except for occasionally when he would mow the neighbor’s lawns, and every time she saw him, he was wearing the same clothes. What really alarmed her though, was when he came in with a dislocated arm. His mother had said he had fallen off the top bunk in his sleep. But when Rebecca asked him if he usually fell off the bed, he told her that this was the only time he had ever slept on the top bunk, and it was only because his mom told him to. Also the boy had many fresh and semi-recent bruise, which his mother said he got from falling off the bed, even though Becca could easily tell that some of the bruises were days, even weeks old. that’s when Becca figured it out. He was being abused.

Becca knew she couldn’t leave the boy like this. She contacted the school, who sent a social service worker over to his house, but their report came back okay. Weeks later, Becca realized she couldn’t accept no for an answer. She called up he school, and told them she was coming over. She had to talk to Dave. When she arrived, Dave was already in the office, fidgeting nervously in his seat.

“Dave, does your mommy hurt you?”

“Only when I’m a bad boy.”

“Are you bad a lot?”

“Well… Mommy says I am.”

“Do you think you are bad?”

“No…”

“Does your mom get angry a lot?”

“Yeah…”

After talking with him for a while him, she realized her prediction was correct; Dave was being abused by his mother. She talked with the school and they called social services to have him taken away.
Still, Rebecca didn’t feel right. Then she realized what she had to do. She got in her car and drove off. When she returned she had Dave. She had adopted him. ON the drive home, she said, “hey Dave, do you want to hear a story?”

“Sure.”

“This story is called Briar Rose. My grandma used to tell me this story. Once upon a time, in a far away land…”

The layover by Katie C

When she and Stan returned from Bradley back home to Hatfield, Becca’s parents told her that her sister Sylvia had called the night before, and insisted that she come out to L.A. to spend some time with her when she got back from Poland.

“And she specifically said, ‘tell her that I still think that going to some concentration camp is no way to spend a vacation, so I want her to enjoy a real vacation with me and Shana out here.’ I tried telling her that you were very persistent about this whole trip, but she just asked that you call her back when you got in,” her mother finished, looking somewhat tired from having to deal with Syl’s rants and demands. Becca sighed, and then muttered, “Well, I guess I had better call her back then, or I’ll never hear the end of it.”

The next morning, Becca woke up, made herself a pot of coffee, and began searching online for the next flight out of Bradley to LAX, because both Shana and Sylvia insisted that she come out as soon as possible to “unwind and relax for a change.” The next flight that Becca considered reasonably priced was leaving the next night at 6pm, so she booked it quickly, and then logged onto the Internet to search for any files on Aron Mandlestein, her newly-discovered grandfather. Then, after two hours of finding nothing, she shut down the computer and went upstairs to repack her duffel bag.

Soon she was on a plane again, bound first for Chicago before she would have to switch planes to one going to Los Angeles, and again, this plane was moving at about forty-five minutes behind schedule, which the pilot said was due to an approaching storm. She wasn’t overly excited about this sudden trip, having just been away for three weeks and having to absorb so much information in so little time. But she was also aware that the last time her sisters had truly gone out of their way to make her feel better was well, never, and she was curious to know how this would pan out for the three of them.

After finally landing at O’Hare with only about a half an hour to find the next gate, Becca hustled to buy a stale bagel and some coffee and scarf them down, only to find that once she arrived at the right gate, her flight had been delayed for another two hours at least….. No, make that three hours.

“Oh, just perfect!” she whined sarcastically, before collapsing in a nearby chair and dropping her carry-on bag next to her on the floor. “I guess I’d better call Syl and tell her that I’ll be running late,” she sighed while rummaging for her cell phone. She had just located it and was scrolling through to find the number when a man and a boy who appeared to be his son walked up to her.

“Excuse me, miss,” he stated politely, “would you be so kind as to keep an eye on this young man while I go reschedule our plane tickets?” The man seemed nice enough, and the boy looked easy to manage, so Becca replied, “Um, sure?” It came out as more of a question than a response, but then she thought, “It’s not like I have anything better to do. Syl can wait a few more minutes,” and then said, “Yeah, I can do that, I guess.”

“Great, thank you so much,” the man thanked her, and then said to the boy, “Now I want you to keep in mind what we talked about. I just want to see how you do,” and walked off to find the nearest ticket counter. Becca thought that this last exchange between these two was slightly odd, but decided not to think about it too much, as the boy was already sitting down next to her. A minute or two passed before either spoke, before Becca broke the silence with her first question.

“So, um, where are you guys headed?” she asked, but got nothing in response. She wondered if he hadn’t heard her, but then he slowly lifted his head and said, “Well, I guess originally I was going to New Jersey to stay with some…. relatives there, but then Officer Smith got a call from somebody telling him to take me to Boston, but our connection flight from here got cancelled, so here I am. I’m David, by the way.” At that moment, his head turned slightly more towards her, and Becca noticed a blossoming bruise growing near his jaw line. She immediately exclaimed, “Oh, is your bruise-” before he turned his head sharply away and muttered quickly, “That’s just nothing. I’ve had it for a while now. Nothing important,” and he was silent once again, as was Becca for another minute or so.

“I’m Becca, by the way,” she said slowly, but David had gone back to just staying silent. After a few more minutes, the man who was apparently Officer Smith returned, thanked Becca again, and sent David to find a bathroom. It took her a lot of courage to do so, but after a couple of seconds managed to stammer, “Sir… Officer? The, um, bruise? On his face?”

“Yes, I see you noticed,” he said coolly. Then he beckoned for her to lean closer, than whispered, “Did he happen to mention his… current situation?”

Becca, perplexed at how quickly that everything was happening, whispered back, “Um, no. At least I think no.”

The officer breathed out and nodded. “Good,” he said, “But now I suppose I must tell you since you must be bewildered at this whole thing. David is unfortunate in that he is the victim of severe child abuse. I’ve been assigned to escort him to foster parents else where than his home so that his mother doesn’t try to find him. I think that that’s all that is really safe to say. I asked David not to tell you himself and ignore any comments you made that might have been related to it. This was just a test for David, and by the look of how surprised you are I would say that he passed.” The officer thanked her again, the picked up their carry-ons and went off to find David, leaving an absolutely astounded Becca sitting at Gate 17 still trying to take in all that she had just learned.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Alison by Libby M.

She had only been about eight

Was followed by an unknown fate

We’d liked to play and have some fun

April first two thousand and one.

When it ended, I was in shock

My face turned white as chalk

Killed by her mother’s oldest son

April first two thousand and one.

I didn’t know if it was a joke

My sound was reduced to a choke

And her life had barely begun

April first two thousand and one.

Family Vacation by Nate J.

Traveling in the car

With my family inside

On the new parking lot paved with tar

Near the hotel, our car’s tire is blown on the side

We settle into the room

Find out my pants got a rip

Then we wake up to get some food

Going to the restaurant is already another trip

On the beach, hot and sunny

Boogie board on the water, still cold

I forget my money

And then we go into the town where the sovereigns are sold

Back in the car; my brothers making a lecture

AT LEAST I GOT A GOOD FAMILY PICTURE