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Creative Nonfiction

“Best of DC”

 Welcome everyone to the 2020 Best Of DC Award Show. I’m your host Pete ButEdgeEdge. Now that I have free time, I thought this would be a great opportunity to make a few bucks! Tonight’s presenters will be part of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and other wannabes. It's been quite a while since they have had any power in DC.  Am I right?

Get your hands out from under the sink, no Lysol for you tonight, we are serving only the best. Big thanks to McDonald's for the grand buffet full of heart healthy food fit for a president. For those of you watching from the comfort of your own home, we are going to take a five minute commercial break for you to run out and get some McDonald's for your to enjoy with us.  

Welcome back! Sorry for the delay, we had to get EMS in here because Rush needed to be shocked back to life, but who didn’t see that coming? Okay now that all that fun is over, let's get into it!

Our first presenter tonight will be Mr. Bernie Sanders, not necessarily because he is our best speaker, but because his days are numbered. Mr Sanders, why don’t you come join me up on stage?

“Hello Pete, it’s so nice to see you off the trail. Go ahead and take your seat, I think I’ve got it from here. Our first category, my specialty, is health care. And the winner for Most Uninsured Americans is… Donald J. Trump! Thank you President Trump for ensuring that each and every one of us has an equal chance of dying bankrupt.” 

 No, thank you, Bernie for pointing that out. Go ahead and take your seat. Well, thank goodness my husband has a job, or that would be me. On to our next presenter, Michelle Obama!

“Keeping with the health care theme, the award for Washington's Biggest Consumer of Saturated Fats, goes to… Mr Trump! So much for endorsing having broccoli and carrots in everyone's meals.”

For as much as it’s worth, I still follow what you have taught us, Michelle. Let's keep this party rolling. Up next is Nancy Pelosi! Let us give her the warmest welcome so that she doesn’t rip up my script and leave me speechless. 

“Come on Pete.  You know I would never do that to someone who is like a grandson to me. The award for Most Amount of Unsigned Bills on Their Desk goes to… Mitch MConnell. Unfortunately Mitch can’t be here with us tonight.  He is home, at the Smithsonian Zoo, social distancing with his other reptile friends. Our next presenter is Senator Elizabeth Warren and her dog, Bailey!”

“Sit Bailey. As you all know I admire the face paintings of the Native Americans, so this next award has a special place in my heart. The award for Most Creative Presidential Special Effects goes to… the cast and crew of Donald Trump's wardrobe team!”

I don’t know how we can top those last few awards, but let's get serious and bring up Michael Bloomberg to present our last award.

“It’s an honor to be here on TV and not have to pay for the air time. This last award is the most unprecedented, and not as quite easy to achieve as you would think. So with no further ado, the award for The Person Who has Lost the Biggest Amount of Their Father’s Money goes to… Donald J. Trump! Honestly did no one teach him that the house always wins?”

What a HUGE win for Mr. Trump tonight. He did say he would be number one, and that proved true tonight. Again thank you all for joining us. Most of us will see you in another four years. 


Maximus Nassar, Grade 12

As I gaze off in front of my house, I see a surrounding set of bushes and trees in front of me, accompanied by Hopwood on the left and a cemetery on my right. It sounds cliché, but all I hear are birds chirping accompanied by the slightly intense wind blowing, resulting in a surprisingly cold temperature that has me shivering. Despite this, the sun is out and shining bright, so despite the temperature, one could easily mistake today for a summer day, blue sky and all. Hints of fall are shown most obviously by the various orange leaves falling next to my house. with the trees gradually becoming less and less dense. My sense of smell is currently overtaken by a fire my neighbors lit, as they usually tend to do every other week.



Irises grow in many different colors, so why did Van Gogh choose blue? There’s no way he’d be able to predict a tragic love story so many years ago. Do you think maybe Van Gogh was going through a heartbreak when he created that painting? I do. I think that Van Gogh painted the irises because they were his ex lover’s favorite, but I feel that he painted them blue because he’s sad.  Maybe they broke up, maybe she moved on, maybe it’s too late to fix things. 

Irises are my favorite flower; I've always found them the most beautiful. It’s surprising the amount of times I've received flowers but never irises. I guess when you receive flowers as an “I’m sorry,” they’re not for you anyway, so it doesn’t matter what kind of flowers they are. Almost anytime I've gotten flowers it’s because the other person felt badly about something. Rarely was it for something actually going on or just because. Now I don’t want to sound ungrateful.  I loved the flowers every time I got them, but I started to love them less as the apologies got worse.

My ex used to buy me flowers. He would typically only buy them for me when he was being a bad boyfriend though. Usually when a girl receives flowers from her boyfriend she’s in awe because of how sweet, but I always knew that those flowers were an “I’m sorry I’m a bad boyfriend, I hope these flowers make you forget that.” He only got flowers after we had a really bad fight. He got me wild flowers the time he cheated, a bouquet of beautiful red roses after he told me he hated me, he got me these really pretty flowers after he pushed me into a wall, and I broke up with him afterwards. Just like when he said “I’m sorry, it won’t happen again,” and it kept happening, the flowers kept dying, and for some reason I kept going back to him. I don’t know why I stayed though, his apologies eventually withered to nothing, and the flowers weren’t even my favorites. 

I would say that maybe he just really liked to get me flowers, I do suppose it’s a little off to just give someone flowers for no reason, right? See, it’s not his fault that he did all those bad things.  He just wanted to get me flowers. All the fights, tears, screaming is now all I see when I spot a beautiful bouquet of flowers, except for irises. I suppose maybe irises are still my favorite because I've never received them as an apology.


“One Thing I Could Change About Our World”

Sydney Smiley, Grade 12

If I were to change anything about today’s world, I would modify the way that people act  towards others. As time has gone on, people have grown even more hateful and despicable with others. Today, many people are still fighting to be treated with the same respect that others have always been treated with. People of color are still struggling to tighten their grasp on basic rights and equality that they should have always had since the day that all mankind was created. The same ideal goes for every human on Earth no matter what race, gender, or differences that they may have. I have personally experienced many issues with bullying and being mistreated due to an eye condition that I struggle with. I have always made it very clear that my intent is to always treat people (no matter whether I know them or not) with a compassionate attitude. I believe it is very important to be kind to everyone because you may never know what complications they may have that particular day. There is so much tension in our world because of the grievances that we all may be facing. We should be working together as a whole to solve and conquer these issues. However, we are allowing them to hold us down and dictate the way that we conduct ourselves. I am not wishing for a perfect world because there is no such thing. I am hoping for a world where people choose to allow kind hearts to guide them and their morals. The world we live in has become very vicious and cruel; if we could be kind to one another and not allow our own insecurities to change the way we view others, our world would be so much more beautiful.


Meadow Gaydos, Grade 10

One of the more meaningful pictures that I chose to explain my life better was an iconic picture of Elvis Presley. The picture itself may not be what is meaningful, but the story it has to tell is. Although Elvis was before my time, and I never got the blessing to have been able to experience the 50's, having pictures really does keep a memory from the past even if we didn’t get to experience it for ourselves. Pictures give us a glimpse into a different time in history. Not only famous people but pictures also hold a story behind them as well. When I see a picture, album cover, cd, or anything with Elvis on it, memories come flowing to my head and bring me back to those special times when Elvis played parts in my life when he was not there. 

When I was a little girl, all I remember was my grandparents having this record player that only ever played Elvis Presley when I would go to visit. My grandparents would sing the songs to me while we danced around the house, and that still, to this day, continues to be one of the best memories I have. Even my parents play Elvis, and I know every song, so we all sing and have a good time on family game nights.  I will forever be thankful for Elvis bringing my family together. When I get older and start a family, I want to also play Elvis and teach them how music used to be and not let them listen to rap music that discredits empowerment, love, and has pretty violent topics. I always strongly believed that music is the key to one’s soul. 

Even when my pap was in a coma after having a massive heart attack, the doctors told us the chances were not so good of his waking back up, but as we sat there for months, we finally had the idea to play some music. We brought in a radio with Elvis Golden Records playing.  Not even a week later, he started to move his hands and feet to the music.  So when I see a picture of Elvis Presley, it not only brings me happiness, but it brings memories that my family bonded over and gives me faith that everything will be okay. 


"Anxiety Always Wins”

Anxiety loves to hover over my shoulder, constantly criticizing me.  Anxiety appears when I wake up and disappears as I fall asleep. She fills my head with negative thoughts, telling me, “You can’t do it. What are you thinking? What’s wrong with you?” Anxiety loves to push me to my lowest, making my mind the sword she cuts with.

 Anxiety controls me. She tells me what to wear when I wake up in the morning. “Today’s outfit is a green dress and sandals since your friends always dress nice, and you don’t,” or “Sweatpants and a hoodie since it’s test day and you were up all night studying with hardly any sleep.”  Anxiety’s favorite places to be are in school and at public events. She comes when she pleases with no invitation at all. 

When anxiety appears, I remind myself to breathe and take deep breaths. But anxiety tells me “Bite your nails, tap your foot, play with your pencil.” Anxiety is constantly with me. Even when I try so hard to push her away, she is always telling me, “Give up, quit trying, you will never be good enough.” She celebrates as tears roll down my face, and I feel nothing but emptiness. Anxiety is there for each test I take, every word I speak out in front of an audience, every public appearance or event, so basically in almost every single thing I do Anxiety always wins.


“The Deep Blue”

I was at  the beach with my mom. I looked up in the sky; it was blue. I saw some white clouds turning gray. I thought it might rain. I took a drink of water that was my last bit. I went to go swim into the water. I saw some fish in the water. Then I saw a shark.  I got a little scared. It ate a fish, and it died. I thought of being at a funeral. I was a little sad too. I swam out of the water.

I told my mom what happened in the water. She said “It’s ok.” I was like “Let's leave.” So then we drove back home.


I believe in standing up for what you believe even if it means standing alone. Everyone goes through a period of feeling lonely. Everyone goes through a time where they have strong beliefs about something that others may totally dislike.  I don't try to be different or to be someone I'm not. Take a stand for yourself or for others. I strongly support this quote because everyone thinks that they have to fit in. I was taught how to stand up for myself and things that I believe in. Not everyone will think or believe in the same things you do, and that is ok, but you shouldn't change the way you think or feel based on someone else's beliefs. If someone is being bullied for dressing a certain way or looking a certain way, I feel that is not right. Everyone has their own style or interests and shouldn't be punished for liking those things. Everyone is different in this world; that's what makes life beautiful. I hate seeing people being picked on just because they don’t think or dress like someone. One of my personal experiences with this is my sister.  She just started finding who she was by being unique, dressing a certain way and dying her hair. No one else dressed like her but she didn't care. There were some people that would say “Why does she dress like that? Why did she dye her hair that color?” She doesn't care because that's who she is. I respect her for it. She stands out and is herself no matter what is said. In my eyes she is an inspiration. I feel more people need to be like her.  I wish I could be more like her. Another reason I believe in this quote is because it helps you be more independent. If you don’t stand up for yourself or your beliefs, then how can you expect others to? The person who you should always be able to count on to stand up for you, no matter what, is you. What this means is that the more you stand up for your beliefs, the less you will rely on others to validate them. You’ll reinforce your independence and ability to stand on your own two feet without anyone else to support you. My personal experience with this is that my dad wants me to think and be like him. When I confront him and go against what he wants, we fight and don't talk for months. I am my own person, and I wish he would realize that. I have my own beliefs and thoughts. I wish it would not lead to confrontation every time I feel differently than he does. I will not change who I am just because he thinks I should be like him. I want to be a better person than him. He's not a bad person. I just wish he would open his eyes and see things in a different perspective. But I guess that's his right to his own beliefs. There are a lot of people in this world and different beliefs, and that's ok. If you stand up for what you believe in, I'll have so much respect for you even if they're not the same as mine.


“If you have enough faith you can move mountains.” 

This quote personally has always had a big impact on my life because I've had an experience with it. My baby cousin Sophia was born with a half of a heart and only had a twenty percent chance of survival. We were all praying every night and praying, but one day when she was going through her first open heart surgery, she passed away on the table and stopped breathing. I didn't believe it, and I couldn't. So I asked God “Please don't let this happen to this baby. She is too small.” 

That day the doctor was able to bring Sophia back to life; however, I don't think it was the doctor. I think God led the doctor’s hands because we all had faith and never gave up, so we moved the difficult mountain, and Sophia was okay. Sophia is now six years old and is doing great. 


The Russian and Azerbaijan flags mean a lot to me. They are important to me because I was adopted from Russia when I was eleven months old. My parents flew thirteen hours to see me, and then two weeks later came back and adopted me. I was adopted on November 10th, 2004 in Moscow. I was brought home to the United States on November 21st, 2004, which is a very important date to me because that is the first time my whole family and my family’s friends met me,

Since I am from Russia, the flag obviously represents me, but the Azerbaijan flag also does. My mom was Russian with blonde hair and blue eyes, and my dad was Azerbaijan with dark hair & brown eyes. That means I would look like my dad. I always wonder what they actually do look like, but I wouldn’t care if I never met them because it is pretty much impossible. I know I have a sister that is two years older than me.

When I look at the flags, it makes me happy to know I'm special and different from my family and friends. I am proud to say I was adopted, but I am also proud to say I live in America. I wouldn’t want things any other way. I am always open to talk about my adoption because it is so cool that I came all the way from Russia. Everyone is shocked when I tell them because I look like my mom and dad.


This world nowadays is filled with hate, insecurities, and negative thoughts. From a very young age, I could see this. I always heard people making smart remarks about other people’s skin color, hair, features, etc. Hearing these things come from people close to me (including family members), really took a toll on the way I viewed myself. I value my family, and I will love them no matter what, but when I think about the things they have said, I can still feel the hurt I felt when I was a younger child. One of my relatives once said, “Why isn’t her hair as shiny as the other girls’ hair at her school?” I didn’t think much about it, but then I started to wonder about it myself. I would constantly ask my mom to straighten my hair and make it shiny. My hair was completely damaged by the time I got to sixth grade. “You should marry a white man when you get older!” was another thing that was often said to me by relatives. I no longer looked at myself as beautiful just the way I was. I wondered why I didn’t have white skin and smooth, silky hair like everyone else around me. I didn’t think I could be pretty with tan skin and dark curly hair. I only grew up with the white side of my family, so it was all I ever knew.

Looking back now, I know I can be just as beautiful and just as good of a person as any other. I don’t have resentment now that I’ve worked through it and found love for myself, but I think about all the other kids who are probably going through this now. I started off by thinking, “This probably isn’t even a common thing. There are so many beautiful and confident people of color out there,” until I started asking around. I have friends who told me they used to cry to their parents saying they wished they didn’t have brown skin and wished they had “regular” hair. There are friends of mine who grew up in black households, but their friends would ask them why they looked the way they did. Of course these little kids meant no harm whatsoever, but to the child being asked something like that, it severely damaged them. We all agreed that sometimes we still catch ourselves thinking, “I wish my hair was straight and silky.”

If you haven’t caught on by now, my point is that we shouldn’t be asking kids why they look different. Every person of color that I’ve talked to about this wishes they could’ve had someone telling them how beautiful they were just the way they are. No matter what skin color a child has, they are beautiful and should never want to change that. There’s already so much hate in this world, we don’t need anymore of it. I hope that when everyone is older and has kids of their own, they show them that it’s okay to look different, and it’s okay for other people to be different. This goes for so many things as well, not just skin color. I’ve already seen so many differences in today’s world when it comes to situations like this, and I hope it keeps getting better and better. If we were all the same, this world would be so boring. Always appreciate the uniqueness that comes from other people. 

"We Live in a Society" (19-20)

Are you struggling to stand out in society? Do you find yourself dissatisfied with your boring life? If you are looking to adopt a new personality trait that sets you apart from your friends, you may want to consider a mental illness. We have formulated a series of pills that will serve as a cure-all for your underwhelming personality. For a limited time only, we are offering a pill that provides a mental illness of your choice. Our new mental illnesses are a safe way to enhance your personality and instantly become more trendy. 

Did you think that depression is only for those diagnosed by a professional? Think again. With our pill, you can enjoy all the perks of depression without all the hassles of therapy, medication, and self-destruction. After seeing your profound, black and white posts on Instagram, your friends will envy you for your sophisticated feelings. By advertising your new quirks, other sufferers are sure to feel right at home. Try out our pill today, and your beautifully tragic quirks will surely attract attention. 

If depression does not suit your tastes, there are many more options. If your life seems uneventful, you may want to try OCD. Our revolutionary product enables you to take control of your happiness and stay on trend while doing so. Finally, you will be able to keep your belongings neat and orderly without sacrificing your mental health. We strongly encourage sharing on social media when you are feeling more OCD than usual. If someone catches you washing your hands for the fifth time in a row, we guarantee that they’ll be blown away by your mystifying behavior. Possible side effects may include constant anxiety and intrusive thoughts. 

We also offer pills for various eating disorders. These are perfect if you want to appear strong-willed and stylish. Not to mention, you’ll have a body to die for. After just a few weeks of skipping breakfast and lunch (and dinner), you can fit in with the legions of beautiful people swamping your Tumblr feed. With our pill, worrying about what to eat will be a thing of the past; instead, you can occupy yourself by explaining your new anorexic diet to friends. If you’re worried about possible health risks, rest assured. Our pills make it possible for you to enjoy the benefits of an eating disorder without compromising your health. 

It’s no lie that there is a stigma surrounding mental health, but the solution is simple: validating these mental illnesses and making them commonplace will make it easier for sufferers to seek help and get treated. By bringing out the beauty and appeal of these disorders, we are ensuring that real sufferers feel better about their experiences. Our revolutionary pills are guaranteed to help you fit in and stand out at the same time, all while eliminating the stigma around mental health. Above all, be sure to advertise your new traits on all your favorite social media outlets; after all, misery loves company.

(It should be noted that this piece is a satirical writing.  If anyone suffers from any of the disorders above, please contact your guidance counselor, so that you can get connected with the resources you need.)

"Double Tap"

Abigail Chambers, Grade 12 (19-20)

It’s the first thing we check when we wake up and the last thing we look at before the lights turn off. Whether it's face ID or a fingerprint scan, the final destination of Instagram is never failed to be reached. It's almost a sense of temptation that runs through your mind. But why? Who can see your nerves through the screen? Nobody. That's who.
What seems to be a never ending scroll of your thumb is the same thing we stress over editing and whitening our teeth. You scroll so fast and continuously that you don't even notice you’re failing to pay attention to the actual post. Was that a video? A boomerang maybe? So then, why the stress?  Why is this one of a hundred apps on the screen so important to its billions of users?
Why is it that we plan our schedule around when the lighting will be best. Just then... Snap. A perfect picture with the perfect, “golden hour” caption. You sit with your legs crossed, staring at the sleeping screen. The hope of a quick flash back on with a million notifications waiting for you to smile at. Minutes pass, the hope disappears, and the fear looms over you, wanting you to think the “perfect picture” was not good enough.
Now you question yourself. Silly, one thinks. But no, not so silly. She got fifteen whole more likes than I did. How can that be a silly matter?
Now from another perspective. The one on the other side of the equation. You are the x, and I am the y. It is my choice; the choice that what you see is determining your fate. Or just your popularity. Or maybe just your overrated status that will mean absolutely nothing when you are forty-three years old, a mother of two, working a 9 to 5 job, scraping up enough money to satisfy the screen staring at you at the Walmart checkout.
So yes. My choice was to keep scrolling. I did not double tap, not because your teeth aren't white enough, and not because the lighting was poor, but because a lesson should be learned that life has a value greater than than this, than this stupid, yet overbearing, fear of not getting enough likes.
I challenge you to put the meaningless four ounce piece of metal down, down and never pick it up again. Talk to me with words, not just words, but sentences. Full, run on sentences with lots of grammatical errors. Talk to me about puppies or watermelon seeds or your brother's ex wife.  Look me right in my hazy blue eyes with meaning. This is not real. Words are real. That is not meaningful. Words are meaningful.
Your eyes open at 6:30 Monday morning - 6:38 if you subconsciously hit snooze - and the first thing you see is a screen that you adjust the brightness on because it is too early for this.  Exactly. It is too early for this nonsense. Here's a better idea that generated in my brain in just the 
same time it took you to hit snooze that morning. Now Tuesday, a new day, a day for change. Your eyes open, and instead of wasting three and a half minutes scrolling your finger down the screen looking at unimportant, yet humorous posts of dogs fetching a bone, go throw that bone to your fluffy golden toned four-legged ball of fur yourself.
Be the change. Do not double tap.


Kaia Zungri, Grade 12 (19-20)

Stress sits on my wall in her dress of black. She lingers far enough away that you can never see her, but she certainly can be felt. Her wings lay silently on her back, and she waits. Stress is attentive and patient, always striking when her arrival is least expected and I am most calm. 

Recently, she watched me stealthily as I was getting ready to go out with some friends. I was so happy and content, no worries in the world. Just as I was leaving my room, she fluttered her wings, the buzz drawing me back to my mirror for an outfit check. Three minutes earlier it was perfect, and now I was having doubts. What does it matter, it would only take a minute to throw on another shirt or new jeans. Well, Stress had other plans. I opened my closet and she darted in, flying relentlessly around my head. The buzz of her wings filled my ears, evoking tears. I tried to swat through her to quickly grab a new shirt but she dodged every swing like a ninja. 

    What was I going to do now?  My head was spinning, and tears were streaming down my face. I checked my phone, hoping that I wasn’t going to be late, and right at that very moment, Stress introduced me to Anxiety. I started to panic. I had twenty minutes left to make it, but it seemed nearly impossible. Anxiety cancelled my plans, swirling around me, mocking the fact that I was now staying home. I sat on my bed crying, nearly hyperventilating, and finally, the buzzing stopped. Stress led Anxiety out of the room, and perched herself back on the wall, leaving me hopeless in the dark. 

Abigail Filitsky, Grade 12 (19-20)

Anxiety loves to stand behind me, hovering over my shoulder. She attacks when I’m alone in my room. “What are you doing? What’s wrong with you?” she whispers in my ear. She’s like a gnat that won’t leave me alone. Anxiety fills my brain with negative thoughts until I can no longer concentrate. She loves to make it a competition. “Let’s see how long it takes for you to break this time,” she says. Anxiety loves to push my limits, torturing me with my own mind as the weapon.
Anxiety wears dark clothing with a messy bun and smudged mascara. She deliberately reminds me of my faults. “There’s no way you’re going to get all of that homework done,” says Anxiety. “Not to mention you look so fat in that dress. Try and look better for school tomorrow. But you won’t because you were up too late studying. You can’t do it all. You can’t. You can’t. You’ll never be good enough, so just quit already.”
Worry joins Anxiety for a celebration. They’ve won. They watch me hyperventilate as tears roll down my face. They submerge me in a never-ending hole of darkness and self-loathing. Anxiety has all the control. She enjoys having the authority as my thoughts race back and forth. As I lift up my head from my tear-stained hands, I notice that someone new has arrived. This new girl knocks Anxiety and Worry on the floor. She is so powerful it only takes one single punch. She hands me a tissue. With a soft smile she says, “Take a deep breath. I am here for you and I believe in you.” Confused yet uplifted, I take the tissue and ask her what her name is. “I am Perseverance," she says.  "You can do this.  Just live."
Perseverance,” she says. “You can do this. Just live.”

Elizabeth Purnell, Grade 12 (19-20)

Jealousy looks at me from across the room. We lock eyes for only a brief moment before I quickly look away. I hear her get up from her chair and slowly feel her make her way across the room to me. She takes a seat on the ground next to me as I pretend I don’t know she’s there.  Almost immediately she begins tapping on the table next to me. tap tap tap. I finally give in and snap my body around to face her.
“What do you want?” I ask her impatiently. My day is not going well and I really don’t need this from her right now.
“Oh, just an explanation.”
“Can’t help you there,” I say, completely fed up.
After that she stands so she’s towering over me. Her long braids are dangling beside my face, so that if she were any closer they’d be touching me.
“Please back up—“
I’m taken aback by her sudden outburst. I stare at her in disbelief as tears start forming in my eyes. What did happen, I ask myself. Jealousy wraps her arms around me, and for the first time in a long time I let her. I didn't get the solo I’ve been practicing months for. I lost it to the girl who practiced half as much as I did.
“You deserved it,” Jealousy whispers in my ear. I believe her. I believe it with all my heart. But I didn’t get it.
She pulls me back from the embrace and tries to catch my eyes.
“You’re smarter than she is. You practice ten times as much as she does. He’s biased. He only likes her more. That’s why he picked her. It’s her flute; if you could afford a better one, you would have gotten the solo.” She starts spilling off all of these facts from her mouth, but every one starts to blend together in a jumble of reasons as to why I wasn’t good enough.
I turn to walk away but she grabs me into another hug as I begin sobbing frantically. Tears rush out of my eyes for all of the months and months I practiced to get this, and I didn’t.  She hugs me a little bit tighter as I sob onto her shoulder. Sometimes I confuse Jealousy with
Comfort because they wear the same face with the word ‘Excuses’ written across their foreheads. Nevertheless we sit there in each other’s arms while I let Jealousy run her long, thin fingers through my hair.


Hope Purnell, Grade 12 (19-20)

As I am lying down in my bed, Fear slams open my door, filling the room with the stench of beer. He stumbles next to where I lie, drags me to him and clutches me tightly. He makes breathing hard and thinking of anything, but him, impossible. The very thought of sleep, present just moments ago, is now nowhere to be seen as he inevitably keeps me up each visit.
Courage asks the next day, “Why do you allow him to stay? He’s not good for you.” She points to the fresh bruises on my arm from the sleepless night before. I cover Fear’s markings and avoid Courage’s piercing gaze because she does not understand: Fear is the best thing to ever happen to me. He makes sure I look both ways before crossing the streets, reminds me to triple check I locked the door, he encourages me to play it safe so I don’t feel Pain’s rejection. He reminds me to keep quiet because if I speak my mind people will hate me. He loves me. He consumes me. He’s all I’ve ever known.
Courage stands up suddenly and says, “Fear is on his way. Do you wish me to stay?” I can’t meet her eyes as I shake my head no. I hear her leave just as I feel a cold hand grip my wrist and yank me out of my chair. Fear holds me to him in an embrace before whispering in my ear, “You shouldn’t be wearing that shirt, imagine what everyone’s thinking.” I obediently nod my head and grab the sweatshirt Fear always brings with him. I take in a shaky breath as he says, “You know I only want to see you happy.” Fear loves me.  I could never wish him away.


“Curiosity killed the cat.” It’s one of the best-known phrases in the English language. When I’ve heard this, I’ve always thought that it meant asking questions will get you in trouble. Therefore, don’t ask questions. But, I’ve recently stopped myself from not asking questions, whether they get me in trouble or not. There are questions that need to be asked. There are questions that should be asked but aren’t, either because no one thinks of them or because of this phrase.


We were taught this phrase at a young age. Maybe, it gave the adults power. They didn’t want us asking questions or exploring the possibilities the world has to offer. They kept us in a safe little bubble. At a young age, it makes sense since we are new to the world and want to learn about it. But sometimes, that phrase sticks around with a person. When a questionable situation presents itself, that phrase tickles the edge of their subconscious and they stop themselves from asking, from exploring.


Questioning the authority of those above you is difficult if you are only one person. Rebelling against them only gets you in trouble. We are made to follow rules made by older generations, and we’re not supposed to question them because they are “more experienced” and, therefore, wiser.


We’ve all questioned the school’s dress code at least once, for different reasons I’m sure, but we’ve questioned nonetheless, to ourselves or otherwise. We’ve complained about it, said it was restricting and unfair. Our shirts or pants are cut “too short,” it’s “too revealing.” I’m sure you’ve heard “inappropriate” on more than one occasion. 


The only thing is: why is it inappropriate? We are legally required to be here. Teachers chose to work as teachers and apply here, knowing their dress code. Knowing that it is a legal obligation for us to attend means that we should be able to wear whatever we want, really. For other people, you can wear whatever you want when fulfilling legal obligations, like voting or paying taxes. I understand we’re not adults, but teenagers are people. We are people. And adults don’t treat us like that. They treat us like children because we let them. Rarely, do they ever respect us as we respect them. Some expect us to treat them as if they hold supreme power. That’s not respect. That’s superiority.


I’ll admit, there are adults who genuinely understand this. They remember what it was like to be a teenager and get it. They treat us better than others, who only see us as questioning, clueless monkeys who just want attention.


You should question everything. Maybe not so much that you become a conspiracy theorist, but enough so that you can better understand the world around you and how it works. And maybe, you’ll get an answer. You may know, but the full phrase is actually, “Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back.”

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