In an attempt to add to this website a short sampler of my writing, I have posted below my Scholastic Art and Writing submission from 2012. I hope you enjoy, and let me know what you think:
When Gregs was twelve years old, three older boys approached him on
the playground. Was that Jorge? No, Julian. He couldnʼt remember their names
exactly, but he had seen them before. They were the cool boys, the boys you
wouldnʼt mind being seen with. Did they really want to talk to him? Their shadows
preceded their arrival—growing darker and more intimidating with every step.
Gregs twitched his brown mop of hair nervously. His shoulders tightened to hold
his short frame as tall as he could; the shadow that fell behind him seemed puny
compared to those that were approaching. He stared out at the world with all the
dignity and height he could muster, wondering if they would notice that silly
pimple on the end of his nose. Something like pride ﬁlled his inner being, but it
didnʼt stay long; it was accompanied by fear. Was it Gregsʼ imagination, or were
the shadows slowing considerably? The boys werenʼt far away, but their
movements were slowed by the accelerating swiftness of Gregsʼ own thoughts
pounding around in his head. Should he run away? That seemed silly; he stood
tall once again. Should he turn around? They might hurt him or they might help
him. They might laugh or they might scoff. He stood tall, wondering if it were
possible, they wanted to talk: to him! The world behind those three big boys
slowly vanished into an unimportant mist.
When Gregs was seventeen, a haze enshrouded him. There she was, smiling
into his eyes. A leaf had fallen into her hair, he gently ﬂipped it away and watched
it ﬂutter down into the short space between their feet. She smiled and moved her
hand to her head abruptly, bashfully re-pinning a stray hair behind her ear.
“Thanks for helping me out back there, I really appreciate you standing up for
me like that.” Her voice was just as beautiful as he had imagined it would be. He
slowly turned around, left to right, wishing some perfect word would be
teleprompted from the low hanging willow tree behind her.
“Oh, it was my pleasure...I mean not that they were bothering you, I donʼt like to
see that. But, um...I am glad you, I mean... I. I am glad I could help out.” He
looked up from his feet, red and searching for response.
“I know what you mean.” She was smiling comfortably now; he loved her
comfortable smile. How long had he waited to introduce himself? She was ﬁnally
standing there. How could he think of anything else? There was nothing else so
real. Did he know this feeling? Had he ever felt it before—the feeling of being
with exactly who you are meant to be with? No, this was unchartered territory, a
cloud of joy in its purest form—unmixed with pride or self or fear.
“Iʼm Gregory but people call me Gregs” he blurted, holding out his hand. He
would never forget the pulse of energy that shot through him as she accepted his
handshake and replied,
“My name is Ellie.”
When Gregs was twelve, three big boys started talking to him.
“Awesome” “special stuff,” all words he heard and yet did not listen to.
He listened to their breath between whispers of promises; he heard betrayal
amongst the sounds of beginning friendships. Standing a little straighter, he
looked them in the eyes for the ﬁrst time—desperately attempting to imagine
kindness where he saw only empty brown eyes. He reopened his ears to what he
wished to hear, and having fortiﬁed them with sufﬁcient screens against reason—
he heard it:
“We think your pretty cool stuff, yeah - and we have an idea of how you can
make us real happy. You in?”
This must be great, they told him so.
When Gregs was nineteen, he knew what happiness was. Happiness was
standing in front of her on their ﬁrst date, on their wedding day, on any day—as
long as he was with her.
“This means weʼll be together forever; you ready for that?” Ellie whispered to
him under the droning tone of the preacherʼs nuptial sermon.
He grinned, not listening to her words but to her heart:
“Youʼre beautiful!” - it was all he could see.
“But I wonʼt always be. And weʼll always be together. Always! You ready for
that?” She was concerned and it shone through her deep green eyes that would
never fade, not even with age.
“Yes baby, Iʼm ready.” Ellie smiled and he knew: she was the kind of beautiful
that doesnʼt fade with shrinking shoulders and thinning hair. Those little laughter
lines would turn into wrinkles, and he would still love her. He thought of them
together, side by side in rocking chairs, grey and wrinkly and holding hands. He
would always love her. Sheʼd see; heʼd make sure of it.
When Gregs was twelve, he knew he was making a decision that might mean
ridicule or acceptance. He may not have had the words to say it, but he knew.
“Itʼs great man.”
“Have we got some good stuff for you.”
“Think you could help us out... bro?”
They said they had something truly wonderful. Gregs knew what was right, but
another feeling was creeping into his conciousness: what did he want? Maybe
this was best; it certainly seemed pretty good while those three big boys were
half smiling, half smirking down on him. And if it wasnʼt the best, did it matter? He
was only twelve—he could make mistakes.
When Gregs was twenty, he stared down at his beautiful ﬁrstborn and
wondered if the warmth he felt was the feeling of heroes. As an unbelievably tiny
hand closed around his ﬁnger, he felt another ﬂood of love shoot through him.
How could he have been part of making something so perfect? He expected it
would always be this way: their baby would always be tiny, she would always
belong to him, he would always be there to hold her little hand. There could be
nothing more fulﬁlling than just being there for that tiny baby girl.
“Darling” Ellie looked up and smiled weakly. He squeezed her hand with his
empty one and then continued to hold on ﬁrmly.
“We started a family, can you believe it?” Ellieʼs voice had regained a bit of
strength; she had wanted this for a long time. He had too, he just hadnʼt known
how truly wonderful it would be.
“Sheʼs beautiful...just like her mother” Ellie giggled, but he turned serious:
“Iʼm going to get that second job.”
“Honey? But you didnʼt want...”
“No my angel - you rest. I do want. I want what is best for our family”
There was something special about that word—family. If the nurse hadnʼt been
buzzing around the room making tests of everything, he may have repeated it to
himself aloud one or two or seventeen more times: family. He could make
sacriﬁces for these people who meant more than the world to him. No, it wasnʼt
even a sacriﬁce.
When Gregs was twelve, big boys looked scary. The initial honor he had felt
upon being approached was shrinking under their enormous shadows. Gregs
blinked. Was it his imagination or was one of them foaming a little at the corner of
his mouth? They seemed to be growing taller as every silent second slogged by.
What was he supposed to say? He knew what they wanted him to say -
something restricted him. He could hear his motherʼs voice ringing in the
distance, all those warnings she had thrust on him throughout the years. Had she
been preparing him for this moment? Perhaps she would expect him to run away,
but he couldnʼt do that. His mother didnʼt understand what it meant to be a man—
twelve years old. His mother didnʼt understand that he could not run away.
What would his father have said? Gregs shrugged away these thoughts as
quickly as they formed. His father didnʼt care and Gregs didnʼt want to think about
that. His mother didnʼt understand, his father was an unknown antagonist in the
annals of his prehistory, and now all that he could see were three big boys—they
were all that mattered. It may have been his imagination, but as they edged
forward, their shadows seemed to form a dark wall closing in.
When Gregs was twenty-eight, he went to his sonʼs ﬁrst soccer game.
“You need to stop crying. I saw you do your best out there, and I was proud of
“But we didnʼt win!” This was heartbreak as deep as a six year old can feel.
“That doesnʼt matter. You tried your best tonight. You keep trying your best and
you will get better. You have lots and lots and lots more games. What matters is
that every time you try your best it makes you a bigger winner.”
He said other things; somehow wisdom seemed to ﬂow freely that evening.
Encouraged by his sonʼs big eyes and respectful silence, he continued to speak.
His son was listening; his son believed every word he said. What a responsibility
and privilege it is to be a father.
“You canʼt always believe what the other boys tell you.”
“Just take it man.” They must know what they are talking about, after all these
are the big kids, these are the older kids, these are the cool kids. Yes, these are
the cool kids.
The dimness of the hospital room perturbed him. Somewhere he could hear a
“Only family is allowed - Oh, it is the room at the end of the hall and on the
right, the one with the white rose on the door.” Lights and beeps and hospital
monotony faded behind three beautiful faces.
“I love you,” he told his wife. He meant it too, but did she believe him?
Through everything he had dealt with, she had been by his side. He wished he
could assure her. He wished he could be there holding hands at the end when
their faces were covered in wrinkles and their hair was grey. But his hair was
brown and his skin was smooth, and the end had already come.
“I love you,” he told his daughter. How could she be so tall? Had it really been
fourteen years since he had held her tiny hand for the ﬁrst time and proclaimed
himself her protector. He had meant to be there for her—through everything. He
had meant to give up everything for his family, but there was one thing he could
not sacriﬁce: an addiction that was not even him. Now he could give nothing, he
could only smile in despair.
“I love you,” he told his son. Gregsʼ son didnʼt cry; he would stand strong for his
mother and sister. He was twelve, and he was a man—who had taught him?
Who would be there for him when the pressure came?
“We won the game on Saturday Dad.” Gregs showed his pride by a exerting a
halfway smile, he no longer had he strength for words. “It means we are going to
the state ﬁnals...”
Gregs stared wildly into the faces of his beloved family, trying desperately to
communicate all the years worth of words he would never get a chance to speak.
“Iʼm sorry” was all he could utter.
When he was twelve he wanted to be a cool. When he was thirty-four that
didnʼt matter anymore. He just wanted to grow old with his precious wife, be there
rooting at his sonʼs big game, and walk his daughter down the aisle on her
But it was too late - because when he was twelve he took the big kids alcohol,
and when he was thirty-four he died of liver failure.
His wife is a widow.
His son played without his support.
His daughter had no one to hold her hand down the aisle.
As the four boys strode conﬁdently off the playground together, their shaddows
blended into one behind them. “Finally,” Gregs thought, “I am with the cool kids,
and I am cool”.
(Any thoughts, comments, suggestions?)