120 km/hr

photo credits: http://www.did-you-know.info/did-you-know-that-you-can-track-live-train-running-status-online-using-this-website/

My pa has told me, more times then I can remember, to never go near the train tracks that run through the field on the other side of our fence. But Sarah was teasing me again after school today, and I wanted to get away from her. The house was hot and stuffy and smelt of vinegar from mom’s pickling, and besides, I had spotted him sitting on the level-crossing gate on my walk home and I was curious as to what he was doing. I could hear Mama saying in my head that curiosity hasn’t killed no cat, but sure will kill you, but I ignored her echo and climbed the fence in five seconds flat, something I’ve been practicing. As I picked my way through the field, getting scratches on my legs from the sharp blades of weeds along the way, I watched the man for any sign of movement.

When I got close enough, I started whistling so as not to startle him. I know all too well what it’s like to be startled, thanks to two older brothers. I approached him from the side, and when I figured I had gotten close enough to talk at loud voices but not close enough for him to do anything crazy, I yelled,

“Hey mister! Watcha doing?” He turned his head to look at me slowly, then returned his gaze to the multitude of fields spread out before us on the other side of the tracks.

“You know, mister, my pa says the trains that blast by on these tracks go 120 km/hr. That’s awful fast! You might wanna be careful, sittin’ up there on that gate.” For some reason, I appear to have struck a nerve. He turns around to glare at me so fast I think he’ll get a kink in his neck, and yells,

“What if I don’t want to be careful? Who the hell do you think you are to be able to tell me what I can and can’t do? You’re just a little boy!” Surprised by his harsh words, I take a step back, stumbling on a rock behind me. “Aw, Jesus, are you okay? I’m sorry I yelled at you, I’m just not in the mood to talk, kid.” Well lucky for him, I am in the mood to talk, and as my mama says, nothing can stop my tongue from waggin’ once it gets started.

“I’m fine, mister. Is something wrong? I know when I am angry I throw baseballs at the side of the house, and it helps me plenty. Do you want me to go get some baseballs? We could throw them at the side of the house together?” I turn hopefully back to the house.

“Naw, kid, but thanks for the offer. It’s just … I’ve got a lot on my mind. You wouldn’t understand.”

“Maybe not, but my mama always says the best solution to a problem is to talk it out, and I’m real good at listening.” The man seems to contemplate this, then gives a shrug.

“Why the hell not. I guess it all started when I decided to go to a party yesterday. I didn’t realize my old man was tinkering in the garage when I started the car and backed up right over his foot, breaking the bone in five different places. Now my parents think I’m crazy because apparently my old man was yelling the whole time I was backing up but I never heard him, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to drive again, and now my fiancee wants to talk to me, probably to end the wedding after finding out her husband to be is an idiot.” The situation actually seems kinda funny to me, and I try to keep a straight face as I ask,

“Is your old man gonna be okay?”

“Ya, I guess.”

“And he knows it was an accident?”

“Well, hell yes, I sure hope so!”

“Did you apologize to him?”

This question seems to stump the man, and he shrugs at the ground, muttering, “Not exactly, but he knows I didn’t mean him no harm, and I don’t think I really wanna face him again.”

I sigh, as the solution is so obvious to me. “Mama always says, life is all about the problems. And you? You gotta be all about the solutions. The solution here is you apologize to your old man, he forgives you, eventually, and life goes back to normal, except for the occasional mention about your poor driving skills.”

The man sits up a little straighter and asks quietly, almost to himself, “Are you sure it’s that simple?”

I can hear my mom calling in the distance, and I know if I don’t show up on the doorstep soon there will be no supper for me, so as I start walking backwards I say, “Of course it will! Stop worrying so much!” I turn around and break into a run, but not before hearing the man mutter behind me,

“And to think, I was gonna jump in front of the next train!”

To Be Or Not To Be

Persona writing from the perspective of Gertrude in Hamlet

 It would be so easy just to jump. To climb up on that balcony railing and let myself fall effortlessly through the air into the welcoming arms of death. All my troubles would be gone. The allure of death, and of mind-numbing peace peace, is strong. Yet I can not bring myself to do it. The queen in me is warning that it would be the biggest mistake yet. And after all the stupid, cheap decisions I have already made, that is really saying something.

photo credits: http://www.antiquemapsandprints.com/danube.htm

photo credits: http://www.antiquemapsandprints.com/danube.htm

I pace the floor, impatient with myself once again. Hamlet and Claudius have both left me after another discouraging conversation in which we tried to convince Hamlet to cheer up. He continues to be moody and morose, even though everyone else has chosen to act like they have moved on, myself included. It seemed easier to pretend nothing had ever happened than face reality. Well, I am tired of avoiding the truth. And truth be told, I hate myself, and that balcony railing is looking better every second.

The room is watching me silently. There is too much space, too much loneliness. The world continues to go on around me as I count the days in my prison. Most of all I miss my son. We used to walk together, in the gardens, every morning. We would discuss everything from politics to fashion to his latest love. I thought we would resume the routine after Hamlet’s funeral, but now I count myself lucky if I catch so much as a glimpse of my son.

I cry out desperately, “O Hamlet! Thou has cleft my heart in twain.(III.iv.156.)” The room does not respond, but my sob echoes in the high-vaulted ceiling. I should have expected as much. Nothing good ever comes of hoping someone will respond. I now know hope is the enemy, and will be my undoing if I am not careful.

I walk once more to the balcony, avoiding looking in the mirror as I pass by. I can not bear to look myself in the face. Nobody else can either. My subjects used to adore me, and come in droves whenever there was a royal ceremony, but at the wedding ceremony the only ones who came booed me when I walked up the aisle and had to be removed by guards. I lean over the railing and peer down at the floor, three stories below me. I watch the hustle and bustle of the castle activities wistfully. I used to practically live down there, giving orders to the servants, welcoming guests. Now Claudius orders me to stay in my room as I tend to upset the servants with my mere presence.

photo credits: http://pixgood.com/expensive-gold-engagement-ring.html

photo credits: http://pixgood.com/expensive-gold-engagement-ring.html

I turn away from the balcony slowly, and stare at the wedding band on my finger. I can’t believe Claudius suggested I use the same wedding band for our marriage as the one King Hamlet used. That ring was a symbol of our love, as Hamlet had travelled many a land to find a ring beautiful enough to capture the essence of our love. Now it burns my finger to wear it, and I only put it on when I am in Claudius’ presence. I should have known Claudius was a horrible man from the moment he insisted I use the same ring. Yet I was swept up in grief so strong, I did not realize what I was allowing Claudius to do until it was too late. Those short days of courtship are a complete blur, with the exception of Hamlet’s funeral. But it is too late now. Too many mistakes have been made, and my fate has been decided for me, by a conniving, evil man.

Fury rises up in my stomach as I picture Claudius’ scheming face. One day, he will be sorry for what he has done to me and my son! I rip the beautiful ring off my finger, and throw it over the balcony before I can have second thoughts. King Hamlet is gone. There is nothing I can do about that. But I can get my son back. Claudius will want Hamlet to hate me as much as possible, to be driven away from this kingdom by his disgust of me. But I will find a way to get close to him. I will listen to him, and try to make him understand where I am coming from. I will not lose him.

I stalk away from the balcony and head towards the door. Now is not the time to end my life. Later perhaps, but for now I have a purpose. Hamlet will not have died in vain, for his son will continue his legacy. I will make it happen or die trying.

photo credits: http://www.mbfantasyworld.co.uk/hamlet.html

photo credits: http://www.mbfantasyworld.co.uk/hamlet.html


A bright diamond of light catches in my eye, reflecting off the glassy river like a mirror that never stops moving, always stopping someone else with its brightness, power, and force. A perfect breeze flirts with my hair and the sun kisses my cheeks. I have to admit it is nice to get out of the office, even if it’s just for a half-hour lunch break. Speaking of lunch, I am feeling a little peckish… Should I stop at the café for a scone? My brain immediately begins calculating, but I don’t have room in my 2000 calories a day budget. When I get home, I will try out a new fat-free scone recipe, as it’s not like I’ve got many other things to do.

I fill my lungs with crisp air and enjoy the delicious mixture of fall scents in the air. Decaying leaves scatter and join the breeze with a decidedly autumn fragrance, the mellowing summer sun drying those that cover the grass like a blanket protecting it from the oncoming winter. Two mothers with strollers roll by, chattering about diapers and play pens. My mind immediately flies to Rachel, who I hope is playing happily at her grandmother’s house. At three, she is an extremely picky eater and I suspect she will turn up her nose at the cheerios I left her.

As I walk, I let my mind wander, and to my surprise and chagrin my thoughts turn once again to my sister. She has been in my head a lot lately, and I guess it is because I feel such pity for her – all she does is stay at home and care for her child. It worries me that she is so dependent on her husband. She needs him to make money to buy food and clothing, when the bills are due she needs him to keep track of mortgage payments, and when they go on vacation she needs him to book the hotels. What would happen if he were to leave her? She has very little job experience and would have to provide for her child too. I cannot imagine ever living with such dependency on another human being.

A young couple passes, this one exchanging shy looks as they hold hands and laugh at each other’s jokes. They make me worry once again for my sister; she must also be so lonely. I hope she isn’t driven to doing anything drastic! I shake my head at myself – I am just making problems bigger than they really are. All the same, I must make sure to get out with her more often. I peer down the path, wondering if she enjoys river walks such as these. The pathway stretches out before me, wide and straight, ending in the distance at a park where children are screaming happily as they chase each other with their never-ending energy.

While the river is always beautiful, I find myself suddenly having difficulty focusing on nature’s beauty. For some reason I have been restless these past few weeks, verging on the precarious edge of unhappy. Everything seems to annoy me – the people passing by, the annoying loud chatter, and their echoing voices as I pass by a busy warehouse. The men sitting outside the warehouse, eating lunch quickly and separately from each other, catch my attention. I stare at one man in particular, curious about his sorrowful face, and when he looks up and our eyes meet, I suddenly feel as if I am staring into my own soul, as if two worlds that mirror each other perfectly were put on a path towards one another. I look away immediately, and shake my head at such strange thoughts. My annoyance starts to bubble up at the whole world in general, but I keep walking all the same.


I look up at the crystal-blue sky and watch a bird soaring among the treetops. It could be a hawk, or perhaps even an eagle. Fascinated, I watch its hidden beauty, the grace with which it moves and its effortlessness in gliding upon the breeze. For some strange reason, I am so happy to see that bird and wish my daughter could see it and wave her chubby fist, yelling “Mommy! Mommy! There’s a birdy!” Her eyes would shine with excitement and her her jaw would slowly drop in her innocent amazement of the small wonders of the world. Her effect on me is so great that even though she isn’t with me I feel glad I have seen the bird.

The bird diving into a tree, looking for supper, continues to grab my attention, and in my distraction I stumble upon a rock. Pain begins throbbing in my toe, but it doesn’t stop there, pulsating through my whole body. Anger begins to course through my veins as I clench my fists and take deep breaths, trying to calm down. What is the matter with me? Even as I ask myself, I know it is more than a sore toe. It hits me with the force of a freight train –  I am unhappy. With my job, my life, my dreams. I want to be able to share my experiences with someone special to me, but I am missing that person in my life. I have so much I need to do. I need to be more welcoming of others, and I need to learn to listen. I need to share precious moments. I need to learn to love. I need to be a mother, a wife, a daughter, and a sister…

“Hey sis, are you okay? You look a little dazed… that rock must have been really hard!” Lily smiles uncertainly at her joke and helps Rose up, “ So how are you? I know I’ve been talking a lot, but it’s not often I get out without Rachel at my side, and I’m enjoying not having a three year old nagging me for once.”

Rose hesitates, and then begins to talk, letting her troubles spill out instead of allowing them to distance her the way she usually does.  The two sisters continue their walk, but this time they are walking with each other, not beside each other.


photo credits: www.pinterest.com


6 Word Stories

They put him to his death.


I’m sorry, I just had to.


Once were friends, now are enemies.



Leaves falling, school starting, futures forming.



By Heather, Vanessa, and Anusha