Olympics '18 Contest Winners
Jack Jefferson '22
Hayley Emmons '19
We see the ground, webbed over with dying grass left over from when the seasons turned over their responsibilities. The thinnest crust of frost creeps over the dirt and dead foliage as, yet again, Autumn and Winter fight for control of the forest. Rocks are embedded in the dirt so deeply that one might wonder which came first. A thick carpet of moss crawls over and under everything, ever present and likely to consume anything that stays settled for too long.
As our view widens, we see what has succumbed to this fate. A skeleton rests on the ground, one arm thrown across the chest as if it had simply lain down to take a nap before it died. Bones as brittle as twigs have disappeared under the moss, and as our gaze moves up to the aged skull, we can hardly see the ivory under the growth. The teeth are bared in an unnatural grin, moonlight falling through the gaps and chips in the bone and illuminating the shadowed cavity that once held a brain. The rib cage holds nothing more than the faint memory of a pulse and the plants that have found shelter there, skulking as if trying to survive off the echoes of a heartbeat and the impression of a breath.
A leaf gives up the fight of clutching onto the branch it was born and died on and falls, drifting towards the ground with a macabre sort of grace. Rot seems to be spreading even as it descends, leaving the musk of mold, thin and unavoidable, in the chilled air. It lands on the forehead of the skull in a morbid parody of a headdress.
Our gaze is forced upwards and away, moving up the cracked and gnarled trunks of trees older than the world, up past the dying leaves that decay where they cling to the branches, up past the scraps of bird nests that are long abandoned, up and up and up until we see the moon.
The moon is full and has almost reached its zenith, arcing high in the sky and making the barren and dead land below glow white. The pockmarks and scars on its face are clearly visible, leaving the bright surface riddled with shadows. No clouds dare cover the light, and so no wind is present to blow them away. The air is so tense it almost tears itself apart, a fraying rope pulled to its breaking point as the held breath of the world is not yet exhaled as it waits.
The clearing is completely silent and devoid of life and movement other than the wayward leaf, and not a single insect or rodent rustles in the underbrush. The air thins, another second passes, and the trees seem to reach even further up towards the moon as it finally settles into its highest point of the sky.
Suddenly, the world is torn in two.
A gust of wind is exhaled and sweeps through the clearing, rattling into all the trees and throwing the leaves high into the air. The cold white light dances on the forest floor as it ricochets around the particles in the air. The trees that have stood for so long seem as if they too will crack and fall, creaking in the heavy storm as branches are snapped off and hurled into the frenzy.
In the perfect eye of the storm, we see movement and are forced through the chaotic swirling, closer and closer until we are in the small bubble of air that is completely still and the bones that have almost become a part of the landscape start to rise, one by one. The tiny phalanges of the toes connect to the thin bones of the feet and ankle, building up and up until the vertebrae click-clack into place atop each other.
The skeleton’s arms are thrown out, back arched in the image of tension and want as it stands in the center of the whirlwind, protected from the hurled leaves and sticks by some invisible force field. The skull lifts from the ground, shaking off the remains of the rotted leaf, and settles back onto its rightful place.
All at once, everything is silenced.
The branches and other pieces of the forest surround the upright skeleton in a perfect circle. The frost has receded, as has the decay, and it seems like the final dregs of life in Autumn have won out – at least for this night. Time seems to be reversing in this clearing, cold thawing and leaves reforming in the periphery of our vision as life begins to seep back in around the edges.
Amidst the quiet and calm, it is impossible for us not to notice the way moss and grass has started to creep up the skeleton’s legs, vines forming tendons under chlorophyll-filled skin as atrophy is reversed and the bones are given a body of foliage. The fingers are flexed experimentally, and dozens of tiny flowers bloom in the eye sockets.
Eyelids adorned with fern lashes blink open and closed a few times, as if testing their functionality. The jaw of the skull shifts back and forth, remembering the motions that it so frequently practiced when alive, before opening its mouth, baring its teeth, and shouting into the cold air.
When Julia died, some would have said it was before her time. She was outlived by both her parents and her grandparents, her siblings and her cousins, her aunts and her uncles, the entirety of her large family left to mourn her untimely passing.
She died on the second full moon of February, disease finally stopping her heart as silver light shone through the window and onto her eyes as they were closed for the last time. She was buried in the tiny copse of trees just outside the even tinier village she lived in, and most assumed that that would be that...
Laney Van Tassell '18
Ada Benson '18
Where Did the Time Go?
Grace Bostock '21
What ever happened to defending Unicorns?
And sprinkling glitter and oatmeal on your lawn for the reindeers
Whatever happened to learning about leprechauns
And singing songs about the moon
Am I the only one who longs for field day and butterfly nets?
When did we become content with emptiness
I can see it in my nieces eyes; pixie dust and fairy tales
But at our age we don't have time for bedtime stories and naps
The only books we read are assigned and the only smiles we make are for photos
I wish for many things in this world but above all things I wish to go back
To bask in the unfiltered sunlight of pure joy
To taste our favorite foods for the first time
Why is Childhood is so easily forgotten
Yet the things we wish to erase from our memory are forever
Every bad grade and failed test is written into my history
Yet no one will remember the giggles I gave other people
Doodles don’t get you into college
And you can’t get a job majoring in laughter
Pure are the children's hearts, for they know not of trickery
Damned is this malicious world, for it destroys all in the end
In Their Own Voice
Ry Bleckel '20
The Girl Who Read
Hayley Emmons '19
I stood with a story clutched in my grasp, cardboard outside and paper insides held between hands that were chubby and slightly sweaty, as children’s hands tend to be. The hardcover book didn’t have a protective sleeve, leaving the scratchy green fabric it was bound with to press a criss-cross pattern into my palms. The novel was surprisingly unassuming for one that I’d heard so frequently praised and admired, but I would be lying if I said that simply holding it didn’t send a thrill of excitement shooting through me.
Gripped in my hands as I stood in front of the slightly dusty bookshelves was a well worn copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. It’s a book that I’d heard about multiple times, but I hadn’t thought myself up to the challenge of reading it before that day. After all, I was just a measly second grader. My own sister, the smart young girl who had dazzled the teachers before I got to Holualoa Elementary, hadn’t even read it until she was in third grade.
I stood close to the bookshelves that were crowded with books of a hundred different colors, rocking back and forth on my sneakered feet while I deliberated. Just the week before, I had put the tome back on the shelves after judging myself not yet up to the challenge. This time though, I wondered while brushing my hand across the top cover with a reverent touch, feeling the ridged texture under my fingers like I was reading braille.
Around me, the other kids of Mrs. Cummings’ second grade class swirled around the small room, laughing and pushing into each other while ignoring the treasure trove that lined the walls. It was the week’s mandatory trip to the cramped school library, and most of the other students had found their books and checked them out with Ms. Umeno, the librarian. The smell of aging paper mingled with the scent of grass and dirt that had been tracked in on our shoes, and weak afternoon light filtered through the open door to illuminate the rough brown carpet.
Usually I was one of the first to grab a book, sign it out to my name, and curl up in the corner with my legs crossed beneath me while waiting for the others to make up their minds. That week though, I was frozen in the moment and surrounded by sensations as I shifted forwards and backwards, deliberating about if I wanted to get the book in my hands or just put it back for another week. I was smart, and would definitely get attention and praise if I read it at the tender young age that I was. If I couldn’t get through it though, if it was too difficult for me…