This week, I’ve been a guest writer at Epiphany Catholic School which is located a fair hike from my house (as a city dweller who can walk to most things worth going to, I have to admit that I’m daunted and confused by interstate highways, and am utterly mystified why anyone would chose to drive on them every day. And yet. There they were. Millions of people in their cars. A stunning sight. Anyway.). And this residency has been marvelous.
It’s been a bit of a departure from the normal set-up. Instead of working with four groups over the course of a week, seeing the same kids every day, in this residency I worked with each class only once, and therefore visited every classroom in the school. And let me tell you – I’ve felt like the most popular woman alive – a freaking rock star. And it’s been nice, because I’ve been able to meet everyone, and write with them, and listen to them, and hear their stories.
A couple of kids have been kind enough to share their stories with me on this blog. They’ve written across genres, writing the kinds of stories that draw them in individually as readers. And it’s been fun!
Here’s the first story, titled “Those Hunted,” by Rachel S., a seventh grader.
Seth could feel the fear wrapping around him, clutching at his chest, gnawing at his soul. A car drove by, flooding the alleyway with a blinding light. The vehicle drove by, kicking up dust. The smell of must and rot filled Seth’s nose. He backed himself into the corner, feeling the darkness again surrounding him, a sure sign that the beast would be there soon. Seth dared not breathe into the night. His mother had named him after the mythical Egyptian god, Set, hoping it would grant him even the slightest of power. Seth knew this would not be.
Seth knew he had disturbed the beast. He closed his eyes, then blinked them open, seeing no difference. He had been afraid. It had been a simple mistake, just a fight he had gotten into. To anybody who looked, Seth was just a beggar, though for some reason terrified out of his mind. A street rat, a grimy boy with dark eyes that never stopped darting around. That was the truth. But there was more. He had been in school. In fact, that was where it all had started.
There was nothing, even though he waved his hand in front of his face. The darkness bounced through Seth’s head, like an echo that never truly ends. The same darkness that had happened when Seth had cracked into a sarcophagus, caused by a hard shove received by a boy that had labeled Seth as a “weakling”. He had thrown a punch at the boy, even though he himself had started it. Seth had heard the hard CRUNCH!!! and knew he had crushed the bones of a very ancient king, even considered a god to Egyptians. He had felt something zap through his mind, tracking him down and vowing never to let him go. Seth now had the guardian of a past pharaoh after him, a blood-thirsty sphinx the size of a bus. He had pictured its cold eyes snap open in his mind, the cold reptilian glare it had given him.
All because Seth didn’t look American, which he wasn’t, the kids had pushed him around. His father had left him, and his mother had recently been in an accident. Or so he thought. What she hadn’t told him was how it had happened, or why he was living alone running from apparently nonexistent creatures. Seth knew it existed, because it had been watching his every move for the past three years. Now there was nowhere else to hide, and it would never let him escape.
Although all born in America, his family had been labeled aliens and shipped to Egypt. They had never even been to Egypt. Seth knew it was no mistake. He had been caught between two battles at once. The most important, between his life and reality. Neither of which were winning. He wondered where his family was, and if they knew where he was. He had been in Egypt, and woken up in Miami, somehow. Seth felt hot breath down the back of his neck, and knew why. The sphinx had brought him here.
Seth stood up and turned around, glad that he could not see. Then a bright light danced across his face, a flashlight shined in his eyes. The sphinx was here. It stood there, staring at him. There was nothing human about it. It’s massive body was like a lion, including its face. A serpent’s tail lashed out behind it, green and scaly, about five feet long. The sphinx opened its mouth, displaying a set of sharp, crooked, angled teeth. The lion’s face morphed into the face of the body who had shoved. It screamed into the night, hot breath striking Seth in the face.
Seth woke up. He stared at a white ceiling. It was his own. Seth was in his room, feeling weightless. He thought to get up, but decided not to. The only thing worth fighting was the temptation to fight back.
Fantastic work Rachel! I love the visceral details and the way you put the reader right in the body of the main character.
And here’s another story from fourth grader Caitlin S. called “J.T Walker”
It seemed like any ordinary Monday afternoon. The teacher was reading from the book, “Shiloh”. Then, it happened. The bell rang three times. I knew what this meant. A real lockdown, not the ones we do every month. We hurried to the back of the room and the teacher closed both the doors and the window shades. We waited for two minutes, but the intercom made not one little buzz. “Let me in!”, called a sickening, raspy voice from the other side of the door.
We all screamed. Well, we couldn’t help it! What would you do if some crazed maniac came to your school shouting at your door?
Suddenly, I had a great idea. I asked my teacher if it was okay, and it was. So, I first got a desk and a chair and pushed them to the door. Next, I grabbed our class’ pet, a snapping turtle, and put him on the desk. Then, I grabbed a textbook and also put it on the desk. Finally, I got the keys from the teacher’s desk. With Henry the turtle in my hands, I slowly unlocked the door.
Once he came in, I put Henry in the back of his shirt. He was jerking so much you couldn’t see his face! But just at the right time, I whacked that jerk, J.T. Walker, on the head with the text book, and he got knocked out. My class jumped for joy! I was a hero!
I love stories by fourth graders! Their innate humor always combines with their innate need for heroism. Great story, Caitlin.
There’s more work coming in, so stay tuned!