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The Crossings

Learning From Experience

by Stephanie Hickner

I always loved snow days as a child. The quietness of snow falling, the crisp coldness that chilled your nostrils, sitting inside by my overly warm wood burner, drinking hot chocolate, it was just enough to please my soul. I didn’t even care whether I was in school or not, looking out the window and seeing a white soft filter over everything that used to be brown and dead was something I had been waiting for since the end of summer.

Most snow days started with my brother’s typical celebration of no school. This one was no different. We immediately went to the closet so that we could get dressed for the frozen, icy tundra outside our door. I reached in and grabbed my snow suit, which was noticeably shorter than my brother’s, making it easier to spot. They were dark blue overalls stuffed with polyester and covered in nylon that would make a “shweep” noise every time my legs passed one another. It had multiple rips in it from where I got caught on various sticks and barbed wire, and the stuffing was slowly spilling out. It was slightly big because it was a hand-me-down from my oldest brother, down to my second brother, and finally to me. The polyester had broken down, and it wasn’t nearly as fluffy as it once was. I was always jealous of my brothers because they had upgraded to Carhartt snowsuits, and I was stuck with Walmart brand.

Once we were all completely ready, we went out and stomped through the backyard with our heavy-duty sleds dragging behind us, destroying the perfect scene that the snow had created. We trekked deep in to the woods filled with ice, grey trees, and animals we couldn’t see but only hear. There was a big, famous hill we were going to, and we knew the way almost too well.

Walking in that snow suit is one of the things I remember best about snow days. My mom would make me put on two pairs of pants, three pairs of socks, two shirts, gloves, a hat, and a scarf. I looked like a scene straight out of A Christmas Story. And if you can’t imagine the physical exertion it took to walk deep into the woods in two feet of snow, I envy you. I weighed about 15 pounds more than I usually did, and I would continually make my brothers stop and wait for me to catch my breath. For some reason, my mom didn’t care how many clothes they had under their snow suits.

Once we arrived at the hill, we would take a minute to stop and observe our surroundings. Nothing but nature was in sight. Right after the hill was an open plain that was usually filled with waist-high weeds, but now only a few plants poked out of the snow. If we looked closely past the plain, we saw a creek that was slowly freezing. On this particular day, it was slow-moving slush. We’d been sledding at this hill for years, and seeing it brought me comfort. Anytime I saw the hill in the summer, it just wasn’t the same. There is something about snow that makes me appreciate everything so much more.

After our brief pause, it was go time. My brothers were older than I so I got the sled that was the worst quality. I plopped my well-cushioned body down on the sled and scooted down the hill until a slick path was formed. Then we would spend hours out there, going up and down, up and down, with barely a pause in between. But, as you can imagine, climbing up that hill would tire out the most energetic child after a while. I finally took a break, and I just sat in the snow at the top of the hill and watched my brothers goof-off and wrestle at the bottom. But then, I noticed to my left, a metal rod sticking out of the ground. I tried to pull on it as hard as I could to see what the other end looked like, and I couldn’t get it out of the ground no matter how hard I tried. Then I remembered everything I had learned about cold metal in the winter. Well, the little scientist that I was, I wanted to test the age-old hypothesis. Once again, it was like a scene out of A Christmas Story.

As I sat there, contemplating my stupidity, tongue stuck flat on to this giant metal pole, I thought of my mom. She had always told me that, if I were to ever do it, I should think about rolling the saliva down my tongue to heat up the metal, and it would soon be released. That may have worked had I not stuck as much of my tongue on the metal as I possibly could. I heard my brothers coming up the hill, their voices getting louder and louder. I had to think fast. I knew that if they found out, I would never live this moment down. I closed my eyes tight, thought about roses and ponies, and quickly ripped my tongue off the metal pole like a Band-Aid. My mouth immediately filled with metallic-tasting liquid that seeped down my chin. I said nothing to my brothers and walked home as fast as I could. Once I made it to my backyard, I saw my dad in his scrubs leaving for work. I was even too embarrassed to tell him, so I made sure to spit all the blood out of my mouth before telling him I loved him. I stained the perfectly white snow with a trail of bright red all the way back from that hill. My mom was the only one I could tell, and she helped me as best she could. I never told my brothers the truth about that day, I just said that I cut my leg on a branch, which was believable enough considering all the rips in my snow suit. I couldn’t eat painlessly for a week.

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A Poem About A Girl – Spoken Word

“A Poem About A Girl” performed by Spencer French at the Wham Bam Poetry Slam at Notre Dame.

A Poem Called Dawn

by Nicholas J. Weimer

As twilight begins retreating to the west,
I stand solemnly in the pasture;
like a towering oak.
The air, frigid from the late autumn frost
Penetrates my fingers;
like sunlight through an open window.
The starry heavens become paler and paler.
The east becomes deeper in scarlet;
The blood of a rose.
There I stand.
The moon,
The sun of the night,
so luminous.
So persistent is she, refusing to flee.
Her obstinate act is in vain.
For she begins to quickly fade,
And finally,
She becomes nothing;
Exiled into the fading night.
Then the sun, in his raiment of gold, arises.
His radiant rays strike my face.
The maple grove refracts his glory,
Lighting the russet, the gold, the scarlet afire.
The frost quietly sinks into the shadows.

An Endless Bus Ride – Tyler Callahan

Yellow rubber-coating ‘round
The support pole
Rattles as we leave the town.
En masse we stroll
East to where the planes touch down.
Not a soul
Would break the silence then.

In whispers two old women spoke
Of things they missed,
Sharing in an inside-joke
About who kissed
Martha out where they would smoke.
The brakes hissed:
Marking another stop.

I first noticed the graffiti marks
On the walls
Of the tunnel passing by the parks.
The driver calls,
With muffled voice, the main landmarks
And protocols
For our endless journey.

Eastward to London we kept,
Winding through
The Thornhill lot, vacant except
For one sky-blue
Nissan Sentra there which slept
Without a clue
Where it’s owner went.

The heaviness of morning fell
On the hills
Which rolled past where the people dwell.
Solemn chills
Began to fill the bus’ shell.
The people still
Cared not to waste their breath.

Photo by Jessica Schrock

The Church of True Israel: A Scene from the Midwestern Life – Alex Busse

The air outside is hot and humid.  The sun is a blinding white blot, reminiscent of a blot one may see by standing too quickly.  The boy lives in a town in northeast Indiana outside of Fort Wayne.  His house is on a short street with a cul-de-sac.  This street, like all other streets in the housing addition, is lined with identical looking two story houses.  He knows the names of each person that lived on his road, and he thinks its odd that two preachers live along the same street—heavenly-minded folk dwelling near his father.  Each house is on a flat plot of land about an acre large.  All the yards are well kept, and the boy knows them.  Continue reading “The Church of True Israel: A Scene from the Midwestern Life – Alex Busse”

L is for Lost – Amanda Spencer

Take the green line to Clark and Lake, then transfer to the orange line and ride that to Quincy, and then walk the rest of the way from there? Or was it transfer at Adam’s  and Wabash and ride the brown to Quincy?

I stand in front of the gate, tapping my heels in excitement for my first big city job interview. I realize that I should have written down the directions my aunt Mary gave me, or at least asked her more questions about how to get there. Continue reading “L is for Lost – Amanda Spencer”

Dying Embers – Megan Spencer

Sitting on the cold metal chairs with all the other basketball players on the team, I scanned the bleachers looking for my father. All the people standing in the bleachers looked the same, since the game was away. They wore orange t-shirts with black lettering and occasionally I saw people wearing red and black representing fans from my school. I didn’t see my father the first time, to make sure, I scanned the bleachers again, this time just focusing on the males. Continue reading “Dying Embers – Megan Spencer”

Sing, and be Heard – Haleigh Smith

SHANTAY: A Frustrated and angry teenage girl

AHASBAI: Middle-aged, warm counselor

SCENE 1

(The stage is entirely black except for a spotlight over a chair and couch stage right, set up like a psychiatrist’s office. The chair is occupied by DOCTOR AHASBAI. The couch remains empty. Footsteps are heard as SHANTAY enters, and stops to knock at the office door. )

AHASBAI: (Rising) Come in, come in. (Motions to shake SHANTAY’S hand. She refuses and flops on the couch abruptly) Please . . . have a seat.

SHANTAY: (To herself) He thinks he’s funny. Continue reading “Sing, and be Heard – Haleigh Smith”

The Sweetness of Revenge – Megan Spencer

His death would be a sweet release.
Just like teenagers deserve to be sent to college.
The satisfaction of seeing the pain cross my siblings face as they step on a Lego.
Watching someone flail as they fall on slick ice.
My ears screaming for mercy as Bethel students clap off beat during chapel.
Feeling your feet burn off as you walk across the hot sand at the beach.
Continue reading “The Sweetness of Revenge – Megan Spencer”

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