AlvernoINK Spring / Fall 2017 - Page 120

any offers of temptation. For my stomach couldn’t handle such strong flavors. This little bit of information would soon seal my doom.

A friend whom I thought I could trust, was tricked into giving me something sinister. There wrapped in a warm, toasty pretzel wrap was a succulent sausage link. He thought I would enjoy it. Cherish the foul taste in my mouth. The bullies awaited my response, overfilled with brutal laughter. There it starts with one wrong bite. The sausage sends my taste buds into a frenzy of disgust as I felt bile rise in the back of my throat. Running towards my only savior, laughter drowns in my ears, as I heave my insides out into the dirty black trash can.

“I can’t believe she actually ate it!” someone shouted.

The laughter didn’t cease even after I got back to my chair.

“Andie, I’m so sorry! I thought you’d like it!” my friend pleaded.

His pleas meant nothing to me. My stomach still burned as my tongue tasted nothing but despair. Not daring to look around, I clenched my fists. Never have I wanted to hurt someone so badly as I wanted to those who laughed at my expense.

That small bit of fun sent me to the hospital.

As I laid there waiting for the doctor, I felt the world drift away. Only one question presented its self in my mind.

“God…can I come home now?”

Pieces of You

Alyssa Justus

He was on his way home when he died. A car accident. Nothing too remarkable, but fatal nonetheless. They told me that he didn’t feel a thing. A painless death. The semi sped through a red light, colliding perfectly with our little Honda; he barely had time to think. At least that’s what the paramedics told me.

That phone call was the worst phone call anyone could imagine. “I’m terribly sorry Mrs. Scott…” the voice on the other end of the line didn’t seem sorry though. He probably has to make these kinds of calls every day. I sat there and listened to a person that I had never met, tell me that I would never see my husband again. But did they really know exactly what he was leaving behind? He was leaving behind a pregnant wife, due any day now, who would now have to give birth to a baby girl who would now never know her father. She would never know how much her daddy loved her. Because damn did he love her.

I placed my hand on my tremendous belly as I thought of how my now deceased husband used to tickle my tummy with his beard, trying to kiss our baby girl. I remember how much she moved around, as if saying I love you too, daddy. A small smile breaks from my tired face. How sad it is to think that my daughter will never know that kind of love from the man who would give his life for her.

“You’re going to be such a good mommy, Isabelle,” he would frequently say, trying to wash my worry away. My heart felt heavy.

It was unfathomable that I was alone now. The inconceivable sorrow that I felt was the greatest weight that I was sure my heart couldn’t bear anymore. When I tried to set aside my grief, fear took over. Fear that I would not be a good parent to my daughter. Fear that she would never know the eternal love and devotion of her father. I undeniably feared for the unpredictable future. Panic attacks were frequent, sleep was uncommon, and nightmares of darkness and death shook me awake.

Days, weeks, possibly months went by. Who knows how many…the days all seem to melt together. As the sharp pains in my stomach grow greater and greater with each passing moment, I know that I must face reality once again. Sadly, there is no one to call, no family of mine or Ryan’s that would even dare talk to us again. Finding out that your pregnant before you’re even married isn’t exactly the ideal daughter that strict Catholic parents want. But apparently disowning your daughter for “sinning” is the Christian way. It’s not like my Ryan’s family was ever there for him anyway.

“You can do this!” a young nurse says to me cheerfully.

But can I? I feel so selfish, as I’m too busy wallowing in my own sadness to think about my baby. Not even the sharp pains in my lower body bring me back to reality. I feel like a robot. I feel nothing, yet I feel every emotion at once. I’m in a daze as the doctors and nurses pull back my legs so that I can start pushing. I feel so numb.

I am slapped out of it when I feel the energy in the room shift. An eerie silence washes over the room. There should be crying, right? I’m pretty sure my baby should be crying at this moment…maybe I should be crying too…

It’s so quiet that I’m sure you could hear a pin drop. I could feel the blood pulsing through my veins almost come to a stop. Why wasn’t she crying? All I could hear were doctors whispering to each other, trying not to raise alarm. A nurse came over and grabbed my frozen hand and told me the umbilical cord was wrapped around my baby’s neck and that doctors were working on her. I stayed silent. Please, Ryan, watch over our baby…she’s all I have left…

Finally, after what felt like years of silence, I heard the cry that felt like it shook the room. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief and congratulated me and told me she was perfect. Yet, I still hadn’t even seen my daughter. I watched as the young nurse who greeted me when I came in wrapped the baby in a blanket and strolled over to me.

“Would you like to see your daughter, Isabelle?” She smiled warmly at me.

I nodded as she placed my tiny baby into my arms. When I looked down at her, what I saw sent chills down my spine.

When I looked at her I saw Ryan.

Patience

Anna Murack

Covered in blaze orange, gun slung over my shoulder, I was ready. Gazing out at what little I could see of the crisp, early dawn was eerie and peaceful and silent all enveloped in one. The only noise was my uncle’s truck, purring to let us know it was alive. Vivid images of the buck my uncle shot two years prior raced through my mind and a spark of energy shot down my spine.

Trudging through the woods in boots that looked like they belonged to a member of the band KISS, my dad and I made it to the stand with mucky water up to our shins from the heavy rains. Scrambling up the ladder, I almost forgot about that one creaky board, catching myself just in time. On the platform now and in a standing position, I took a gander at my surroundings. That same old cracked tree was there with old boards still clinging to it to remind us it was once a stand. To remind us just how long our family has hunted in these woods.

Nothing is more breathtaking than watching the sun rise through the trees and nothing is more thrilling than hearing the sound of twigs breaking and leaves crunching. Even if it only is a squirrel. This is our father, daughter time every year. Sitting in silence, with the occasional crack of a whispered joke to keep us awake. Being up here is where I feel closest to my dad.

Three hours later my hands and feet felt like big blocks of ice attached to my body and the gurgling noise my stomach was making wouldn’t shut up. I was becoming antsy.

A twig snapped to my left. I froze. I pulled my gun into position. I was barely moving a muscle. My heart pounded in my ears and jolts of adrenaline were rocking my body. Through my scope, I finally caught sight of her directly in front of me. She was standing broad side about 30 yards out. Struggling to control my tremors, I took two deep breaths. On the last exhale, I squeezed. Ears ringing, I watched her dart towards my stand, stopping about 15 yards away. In a matter of 3 seconds, I took my last and lethal shot. She dropped with a thud and all I could do was let out a strangled shriek of joy. Dad gave me a huge smile and the biggest bear hug known to man. I knew he couldn’t have been prouder. The blood rushed through my veins and my heart was beating out of my chest. I was no longer cold, but I was shaking like there was an earthquake. I texted my mom to tell her I got one and no sooner did I hit send, she called me. She voiced the excitement I felt. Hearing her yell to everyone at the house that I got my first deer made a wave of excitement wash over me all over again. I was giddy. After about five minutes we climbed down the stand and made our way towards my deer.

Ten minutes later we heard the snapping of branches and splashing sound of feet in water. One by one, my 2 uncles and their friend appeared, barreling through the trees to where we stood. They took turns pulling me into tight embraces. Uncle Tony said “Congratulations dude.” and handed me a beer. A beer never tasted so good! When all was said and done with the deer strapped to the four-wheeler, I drove it back to the house to a bunch of excited ladies. Being the only female in a group of hunters, I was thrilled. Five years of patience had finally paid off. Family is a beautiful thing and so are fresh backstraps on the grill.

A Yellow Rose in Your Dead Hand

S. Larkin

A Chicago kid raced a light and smashed into my teacher’s ‘67 Mustang. That’s how she died. With Eduardo at the wheel. Dead too. That’s when I let the dream die.

I toast her life with a vodka and coke -- ‘cause that’s what we drank when I was 18 and she was my high school Honors Spanish teacher.

Some days I’d just take a cab to class, arriving around two. My mother didn’t care when I went to school. She had her own world.

When I was a junior I told my counselor that I would refuse to be in that teacher’s class. (She’d shamed my best girlfriend when she didn’t know the right answers one day.) I found out later that Senorita told that same counselor that she didn’t want to have me in the class either. “She’s trouble.”

Yep.

So there we were, last period, steely eyed; waiting for the other to show her hand. Then I think we fell in love or something.

She told me I was a star that was about to burst. That I could do anything I wanted. (That sounded pretty good to me at 17.) Then after a few vodkas & cokes after school and long rides in that Mustang we’d park by the lake and talk for hours. My whole life was ahead of me. I never felt better.

She told me she had a boyfriend, Eduardo. They would never marry because he was a Catholic, ‘had a wife and kids. The wife “understood” but would never divorce him.

It was after one of those rides, as we sat staring out over blue waters, that she shared the dream. ‘Told me maybe I could be in it. It was the biggest thought I’d ever heard.

Her guy Eduardo was Mexico born (how they met I have no idea). But the vision they found in their love was a thought they shared. A “Rio d’ Entender” along the US / Mexico border (a river of understanding). Sweet idea. Travel stops along the border with exhibits and videos of dance and food and music. A celebration.

It was the 60s. Hope was alive. I was so in.

Then the plans rolled out and the dream began to grow. The three of us went to Mexico City, with Eduardo as our guide. There was Flamenco dancing and mariachi bands in the moonlight hours. Hot pink flowers at the street markets by day that poured out of mandarin orange paper mache vases. One day they bought me a souvenir bracelet with the charm of a burro. I never could roll those r’s, and it made Senorita laugh.) We climbed the pyramids and strolled the museums.

Senorita was killed the night she returned from Mexico.

That day we finished reading Don Quixote on a blanket at the beach. Vodkas and cokes. That night the three of us were to go dancing in Chicago – to celebrate the dream to come. I heard it on the radio. The couple killed instantly. Names revealed later. I had decided not to go.

●When I placed that yellow rose in your dead hand, I was careful not to let the thorns hurt your skin.