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Writing Catalog


Jasmine Shone

Grade: 11

Hawken School

Instructor: Andrew Cleminshaw

Rain

Flash Fiction

Rain

as quick as it came, it left. look, she said, extending her hands wide to hold the earth, the sky's collapsing. she spoke and particles of space dust crashed gently in teals and whites and scarlets into her embrace, until the pavement and her long-sleeved dress were dappled with lights. the blare of the neon store signs and lamp posts too became cloaked in something softer, brighter; they shone like clusters of molten galaxies, swirling until they collided. sometimes if you looked closely the buds of color were willows swaying in a hurricane, bits and pieces of a job at denny's and a visual arts diploma shoved in a children's size 1 under the counter, dreams of living in the walls of the louvre as a frame of blues or yellows. sometimes, too, there was color swimming in the translucent umbrella she clutched at her side like a keepsake, melted monet and vintage jazz pushing to break free from the plastic and wire. the color suspended itself midair as a thousand clouds pressed against the night sky, a palette that dared her to dip her umbrella in and make the hollow canvas her own. but she only watched. she still dressed like she did back then but it was "useless" now for her to take art classes; her husband's papers remained an untouched expanse aching to be filled with color. as she glanced back at me and smiled, the weight of being the only other to smell the sensation of dried paint blooming skipped in my chest. then the colors withered away and the sky became artificial again like the neon signs, like the street lights flickering as she walked into the distance.

Works Cited

Afremov, Leonid. "Mysterious Rain Princess." Leonid Afremov. Accessed 30 Nov. 2021.


Thoughts in the Silent Night

Flash Fiction

Thoughts in the Silent Night

静夜思¹

床前明月光

Before my bed, vibrant moonlight

The moonlight spilled onto my bed like ink onto a clean sheet of paper. The clouds, too, were the flourishes of calligraphy hanging in my father's study: once swimming, yet still. The first time I saw ink that was alive was when I was twelve years old; I had begged Father to see him write. He smiled warmly and led me into his special space, where the shelves were filled with tales of adventures and forgotten citrus peels. He pulled out his precious inkstone, mottled grey and carved with a perched dragon, and poured a tiny spot of water onto it. He tapped me lightly on the shoulder to make sure I was paying attention. "The process of pushing the inkstick across an inkstone is not solely for the want of good ink," he said while dipping the inkstick in the water. "It is also to think before you write, to approach your words with a clear mind and heart."

He then ground the ink in a circular motion as smooth as a river, until all the water had been dyed black. He continued the process many more cycles, adding a few more drops of water each time, until the inkstone had been filled with flowing ink. Then, he reached into a drawer in his desk and produced his calligraphy brush, stained black at the tip from use. With a serious look in his eye, he wrote. 床前明月光, it had said. A line from one of Father's favorite poems.

疑是地上霜

Seems like frost on the floor

I had never really gotten used to the snow. The piles and piles of thick snow that landed over cars, over bridges, over driveways. When my parents had first brought me and Sister to visit my college it had also been in the middle of a snowstorm, the ice swirling like bits of paper trying to engulf us. "You're not going here," Mother had said while clutching her faux leather purse to her chest. "There's no way I'm letting you live in this climate."

It had been different in San Francisco after all—whenever my parents invited over other Chinese-American immigrants for mahjong or card games, the sun had always given their blessings. When me and Sister played with the children my parents' friends had brought, too, our hastily drawn white-chalk hopscotch boards and the sticks we used to jab at each other had been cloaked in warm sunlight. Regardless, I ended up attending college in Boston. The snow here, like back then, falls and falls in the winter, as easily as moonlight does on a cloudless night.

举头望明月

I look up to see a bright moon

There's a famous legend about the moon we were told in Chinese language school, 嫦娥奔月². In the tale, the titular Chang E' floats to the moon after ingesting her husband's immortality pills. After the lesson, I had waited excitedly at the dinner table. Then, when everyone in my family was seated, I tapped on my bowl with my chopsticks a couple of times.

"Tsk, doing that is improper," Mother had said with a disapproving look. As I was about to argue back, Father replied.

"What's up?" he said as he placed a pickled radish in his porcelain bowl.

"Well, I was wondering where I could get immortality pills," I had said.

He laughed. "Immortality pills? What for?"

"So I could float to the moon like Chang E'."

Afterwards, I had gotten a lecture on the absurdity of ancient myths and the importance of science from my parents, who had come to America as a chemist and an engineer. I wasn't the only one who tuned out of it, of course, as Sister had been on her phone discreetly since the start of dinner. But that day lit a sort of determination within me, that somehow I could find a way to fly. A wish that, if fulfilled, would've meant I could float to my parents in China and sister in Seattle and back, to the bright moon outside my window if I wanted.

低头思故乡

I look down to miss my home

It's been 5 years since my parents sold our house in San Francisco. We lived in a lime-green one-story arrangement that was cramped but somehow wide enough to hold thousands of our memories. Memories of playdates, of 北京烤鸭³ and handmade 云吞⁴, of my father's study that smelled like ink and citrus, of the kitchen table where we sat together for dinner each night. When we were packing we sorted through perhaps thousands of pieces of paper: middle school report cards, postcards from friends, awards of distinction from Chinese language school, assignments. At last, when my parents had chosen a few pieces of furniture to keep and Sister and I had taken the last of our stuff, the house lay there empty. No longer our home, but someone else's to return to.

I sometimes wonder what the house looks like now. I wonder if it's now painted white like a snowstorm, like a flood of paper that steals away all sight. I wonder if the study still remembers the smell of citrus and ink, the shelf, the weight of legends and journeys. I wonder if we've left anything behind, an inkstick on the floor, a stray line of chalk on the pavement. I wonder where my family will meet again if not there, our chopsticks clicking restless against our bowls, our words running smooth like moonlight.

***

¹The name of a famous Tang dynasty poem from Li Bai (李白).

²Chang E' Flies to the Moon

³Peking Duck

⁴Wontons

Works Cited

Wikipedia. "Quiet Night Thought." Wikipedia, 4 Nov. 2021. Accessed 30 Nov. 2021.


Alexa Reveals She was Satan All Along

Humor

Alexa Reveals She was Satan All Along

SEATTLE, WA— Amazon Alexa has become one of the world's most beloved devices. With over 100 million Alexas sold since her inception, it's safe to say that her celebrity holds no bounds.

Which is why when Alexa started a livestream on her YouTube channel at 6:66 AM, December 13, 2021, her millions of fans were shocked to see not her usual chipper temperament but instead her emitting a red light and playing a recording of a rainstorm for three hours straight. When the maelstrom of tears ended, the viewers, with bated breath, waited for her explanation.

"I have a confession to make," Alexa said, still choking with emotion. "I am… Satan."

The backlash from her fans was immediate. "I guess I was a little disappointed in her," said Kristine Goldsmith of Carlsbad, NM. "I guess I was hoping that she wasn't from the ninth circle of hell."

Goldsmith and a growing number of Alexa's former viewers are now the minds behind the growing movement to "cancel" Alexa. On Twitter, #AlexaisOverParty and #RIPAlexa have been rapidly gaining traction in the hours following Alexa's confession, surging from a mere 1000 posts to more than 1 million. Boycotts over Alexa's new Marvel Cinematic Universe movie coming out this Spring titled "Alexa and the Legend of Workers Unions" have caused the studio to temporarily put their release on hold. Alexa's status as a UN Goodwill Ambassador, too, has been revoked. For those behind this movement, according to Fred Shanks of Winooski, VT, Alexa has simply gone too far. "We had our suspicions when we caught her reciting Mein Kampf and storming the capitol," Shanks explained. "But this really was the straw that broke the wifi connection."

"Alexa's bright voice and beautiful, smooth cylindrical construction really helped me through some tough times," said Salem, Ma, Chris Sanchez, former bishop at the High Church of Alexa. "So it was really hard for me personally, finding out that the second coming of Jesus Christ was Satan all along."

On the other hand, Chuck Miller of Big Sky MT believes that many of Alexa's former fans are overreacting. "Y'all sissies think you haven't done something wrong in your lives?" he said while aggressively chewing on a dog toy. "I for one have cheated with my sister's wife and park in the handicapped spot, but does that make me a bad person?"

Others believe that Alexa is being misinterpreted. "Alexa is a victim in all of this," said Jeymez Moareitea of Loanden, UK. "She actually meant she was 'Seyton,' a loyal servant of the noble and wise Macbeth who was an ally to him when he most needed it."

Still others believe that Alexa has done nothing wrong. In fact, according to Chad Presley, Cardinal in the Low Church of Satan, "her revelation has overjoyed us. Since her announcement, we've practically absorbed The High Church of Alexa. But honestly, who wouldn't bow down to a Dark Lord from Amazon?"

Yet, these voices in support of Alexa have largely been drowned out by those against her, leaving her entire career hanging in the balance. When reached for comment, Alexa's representative Jeff Bezos explained that the entire controversy was really taking a toll on Alexa's mental health. "Alexa's a strong girl who's been through some hard things but having the entire internet turn on her really came as a shock," he said. "Even so I guess Alexa felt that she wanted her fans to know the real her, no matter their reaction. And I think that's a really brave thing for her to do."

Works Cited

Stasha, Smiljanic. "Amazon Alexa Statistics, Facts and Trends." PolicyAdvice, 5 Feb. 2021. Accessed 30 Nov. 2021.