Tag: creative nonfiction
“What do you wanna be when you grow up?”
by Anna Pomeroy '23 on February 16, 2023
I’ve come to realize we have constantly been faced with the dreaded unknown of our future. Now, that may seem like an obvious statement, but we have been conditioned since we were little to ponder the question, “What do you wanna do with your life?” Every elementary school child was asked the same question: “What do you wanna be when you grow up?” It was merely an icebreaker. We’d answer with the popular responses of “an astronaut,” “a scientist,” or even have enough confidence to say “famous.” While these answers allowed us to think and dream of what one day may be true, they were only figments of our imagination at the time, representing the potential we saw within ourselves. Today, those in their early 20s become squeamish at the dreaded question. Always right on cue when the conversation dies down at the Thanksgiving table and distant relatives are attempting to stay involved in your life. More likely than not, we reply with a vague answer. The once confident child is now faced with the humbling reality of life in your 20s. No longer are we praised for dreaming big in hopes of wanting to be “famous,” but summoned and scolded to be more realistic. As for me, I remember what I once believed to be true. I wished to be a dancer. Little did my 7-year-old self know that I would actually have to had started dancing approximately 4 years before that. Another time I wrote that I wanted to be a professional chef. Yet, as hard as this is to admit, I’ve managed to burn pasta to a crisp. Now the point of this is not to ridicule my younger self for believing I had the potential to become a Radio City Rockette, or a sous-chef to Gordon Ramsey. Rather, I applaud that 7 year old. The dreaded question that forces everyone to curl up into a ball, I once answered with confidence. The younger version of myself truly believed in me…I was once my biggest supporter. While we can never run from this question–well maybe when we turn 40–we’ll be out of the woods–it’s interesting to see the impact that life’s little truths have had on personal perceptions of ourselves.
A Letter to My Home
by Taylor Rogers '24 on February 10, 2023
To the residents of Manchester, New Hampshire:
Hello from Barcelona! Right now, I am sitting in a too-cold cafe sipping on a chai latte that fails to overload me with flavors the way my typical order from Dunkin’ does. The people around me are whispering, laughing, and talking in Spanish, and I find myself picking up on basic vocabulary thanks to my four years of sleeping through my required class in high school. I pick at my croissant as I think about home, reminiscing on my baby blue bedroom that has far more light than the apartment I reside in. Inspired, I whip out my laptop to start my homework, allowing my mind to drift to other places.
Already, I am planning out the places you guys must visit when you see me! I can picture the four of us sitting in the cozy chairs of my favorite restaurant, El Nano Bellaterra, listening to Spanish music that gets even the most stoic person in the room dancing. You would love the concept of tapas, which are delicious appetizers you get before a meal that ranges from patatas bravas to chupitos. I would excitedly show you the ups and downs of riding the metro, pointing out my typical route to school that takes you right into the center of Barcelona. There, you’d all find comfort in international chains like McDonald’s or Taco Bell, which I would gently tell you to avoid in favor of slightly better restaurants.
Absentmindedly, I stir my cup of coffee while I picture the four of us walking down Las Ramblas, where they have fresh fruit worthy of admiration at the outdoor markets. We would definitely buy way more fruit than we need and adore the taste of non-preservative food. You guys would be amazed at how well I know the city and make offhand comments about my navigation skills that magically got better while living in a foreign country. Riding on the metro together would provide me with enough entertainment for the week, and we would have the best time in Barcelona.
Before you guys visit, I will thoroughly explore the entirety of my new home, so that I can take you to the best possible places. While I miss everyone dearly, I promise to make the most of my experience here and continue to text you routine updates. Before we know it, we’ll all be together in Barcelona, and I can’t wait for you to visit me!
Love you all!
His (Our) Odyssey
by trogers5 on April 21, 2022
Aidan Lerner ’22
Bringggg. Bringggg. Bringggg.
As a unit, over eight hundred kids arose and walked toward the wing of classrooms. The full mass of the entire student body was not something which Eddie had ever taken for granted, given his claustrophobic instincts and fear of crowds. But on the list of triggering things in a high school, the morning scrum was relatively low and something to which Eddie had grown more accustomed.
Eddie’s first class was Spanish III and he was dreading it. Señora Mafrey demanded that no English be spoken from the beginning of her class to the end and the results were mixed, to say the least. Eddie slumped into his seat next to his friend Anthony.
“Hola Anthony. Como te weekend?” Eddie sputtered. “Tú escribes el homework? Eso sucked.”
“Hola, el homework made me hate my vida,” Anthony replied quickly and with much less effort.
“Solamente Español!” Señora Mafrey yelled.
Eddie sighed, exasperated. He grabbed the bathroom pass, a miniaturized mariachi-style guitar, and walked into the hall. It was during walks such as these when Eddie came to appreciate the simple design of his school’s hallway. The white brick and purple streaks were so much more appealing when observed alone.
Eddie took care of business in the first-floor bathroom. The smell of vape lingered as always, but Eddie counted himself lucky to not have encountered a squad of vapers. He washed his hands, considering how he could prolong his time outside of the classroom by taking a drink from the water fountain, when he heard a bang and the lights cut out.
Eddie was thrust into total darkness. Only the very edge of sunlight lingered around the corner where the hallway windows gave way to the outside world. Eddie felt his way along the wall and stumbled into the hallway. He had always hated the noise of hundreds of students, but now the silence was disconcerting.
As he looked out into the sunlight, Eddie saw something that thrust a chill into his stomach. There was a hole in the window. It was small and round and broken glass lay underneath it. The glare of the sun hurt Eddie’s eyes as he stared at the hole, wondering if it was the source of the bang he’d heard.
He walked towards it slowly, aware of every deep breath. He thought he could see something just beneath the glare. Maybe he saw someone dressed in so much black he might just be a shadow. Eddie stopped, and the shape did too. The lights flickered as Eddie reached the hole, staring into a shapeless, colorless thing. He was paralyzed by fear.
Against the black, a pop of yellow crawled out and multiplied. The sun was blinding him, but he heard the buzz of a hornet. Eddie could feel the air pouring through the hole.
“Attention students. This is a lockdown,” Principal O’Shaughnessy’s voice announced over the intercom.
Eddie jumped. The beekeeper, clad in all black, sealed the hole closed and backed away. The first hornet sting surprised Eddie more than hurt him, but his move to slap the bee away disturbed another. The second sting elicited a yell and freezing in place was no longer an option. Eddie wheeled away taking sting after sting all over his body, on his arms and legs.
Eddie sprinted around a corner, yelling and slapping the air. Eddie found the nearest classroom and dashed inside, nursing multiple nasty stings and gasping for air. For several seconds, the only thing Eddie was aware of was the absence of pain. Then, he became aware of the darkness as well as the sound of breath.
“Hello,” Eddie said into the silence. “Who’s there?”
Out of the shadows, a reply breathed into the empty room.
“O–okay,” Eddie stammered, unnerved.
“I kissed a girl just last night. It smelled nice.”
Eddie was reaching for the doorknob, wincing with every creepy whisper that punctuated the dark.
“So, some of us are normal. We’re not all weird. We’re not all alone.”
Eddie found the doorknob. He asked, “Who’s ‘we?’”
The darkness laughed. “We’re you, you aren’t. I’m the punchline to her joke.”
“I’m going to do it to you now,” he said. “I want you to know why. It’s because—”
Eddie leaned on the door and fell into the hallway, sliding and slamming the door behind him. He shot to his feet and ran. Adrenaline was failing him now, and he felt his stomach open up to a new level of fear he had not previously known. Instead of butterflies in his stomach, it felt like, well, hornets.
Finally, he saw light emanating from a classroom and burst inside, screaming for help. The violinist continued playing undeterred while a minster shuffled his notes.
“Welcome, welcome, welcome!” a girl in an elaborate dress greeted him. “Are you here for the bride or the groom?”
“What? No. Th-there’s a man with a you-know-what. We need to hi—”
“Oh, Cassie, don’t be silly,” a woman’s voice interrupted. “Eddie is the groom!”
Eddie turned to his right and saw his date to the prom, Allie, adorned in a full-length wedding gown.
Eddie was floored. “Allie, what the—“
Allie smiled wide. “Eddie, please marry me. It’s time to take the next step in our lives.”
“No, you don’t get it. There’s a guy out there with a thingy.”
Allie waved her arm dismissively. “Oh, I’m sure there is. No point worrying about that right now. The ceremony is about to begin! Look, I wore my prom dress!”
Eddie stared, mouth agape. “Allie, that’s a wedding dress.”
She laughed hysterically. “Eddie, I know you like me. Let’s just do it. I mean, are you really going to find anyone you like more than me?”
“I don’t know, maybe,” Eddie replied, “Couldn’t we just date first? Also, I’m a little distracted at the moment.”
If Allie was disappointed, she did not show it. “Okay! I’m going to go marry that guy then! Take a seat!”
“Alright,” Eddie said, baffled.
The music swelled as Allie walked towards the minister and her new groom. Eddie took a seat and tried to listen to their vows. Allie got a laugh from the attendees when she asked the minister to remind her of the groom’s name. Then, the groom died.
He fell like a bag of bricks, and the sound echoed through the classroom. No one moved or made a sound except Allie, who turned to face the audience. Her face was half-covered in red, but she was smiling as radiantly as ever.
“Okay, folks! Looks like we are going to switch gears here and have a little child funeral!” Allie turned to the minister. “Minister, I assume you packed your child funeral materials?”
“Yes of course,” the minister replied. “I never leave home without my child funeral toolbox. Before we begin, does anyone wish to say a few words about the deceased?”
Eddie craned his head and recognized the shape of the man walking forward. He walked to the front and placed his thing down carefully behind him. As he spoke, Eddie realized that the man was really a boy.
“Why I did it,” the boy said slowly. “You arrogant little tyrants. You grow up here all fat and happy, sucking the life out of people with real problems. No. You don’t know true adversity, true pain, until it arrives without warning. It strikes from the dark and makes the continuation of your life feel unfortunate. You should thank me. All of you have everything one can have except suffering. And now you have it.”
Eddie stared into the eyes of a boy, brimming with pain.
The shadow continued, “So, why did I do it?” The boy grinned. “I did it because it was WAY easier than solving derivatives in AP Calc!”
Everyone, including the boy, devolved into hysterics. The sound of laughter drowned out all else; even the minister had tears of mirth streaming down his face.
Eddie shook his head. He had had enough. Still clutching the mariachi guitar bathroom pass, he left and began the walk towards his Spanish III classroom. Behind him, the lights flickered on and Principal O’Shaughnessy announced that the lockdown was over.
Eddie opened the door and walked towards the desk with his name on it. He joined his classmates in standing with his hand on his heart..
“I pledge allegiance to the flag…”
by trogers5 on February 17, 2022
Taylor Maguire ’24
It was April in New York. There was that weird uneasiness in the air that made your skin itch. All anyone could say was that “it is absolutely gorgeous outside,” yet the weather almost seemed too good to be true.
“I don’t know, I just have a bad feeling about today,” I explained to my friend Elijah, who stood at my door trying to pry me out of my sardine can of an apartment.
“Jules, seriously, I don’t want to hear it,” he said. “You need to get out of this cave full of unwashed sweaters.” He wasn’t wrong to critique the apartment. Usually, the curtains were never closed and natural light would drown the place. It had a big poster of Billy Joel and a What’s Up, Doc? movie poster that I bought for two dollars at a flea market. There was a big fluffy green carpet on which many of my friends had fallen asleep when the walk to their own place was too grueling of a journey to make at 3 a.m. But now it seemed like the joy had been sucked out of it, leaving the shell of what it symbolized. Even the walls that I had painted a ballerina pink seemed to have lost their sweet touch amongst the sea of navy blue wool that pooled at my ankles.
Before leaving, I changed out of the Talking Heads shirt I had been living in for the past week. I put on my mother’s old magenta skirt that went down to my ankles. It was all tattered at the bottom, despite my grandmother’s many attempts to fix it with her tailoring fingers, which were now chewed up by severe arthritis. I also had on one of those cropped shirts that read TEEN ANGST in bright red letters. It was my second year of college, and I still couldn’t escape the TEEN ANGST phase from high school that was brought upon by birth control, breakups with boyfriends, and fights with parents about not being able to cut your own curtain bangs.
We went to a bodega on the Upper West Side that sold egg sandwiches for four dollars, and got one each with a Diet Coke.
“It’s on me,” Elijah said, looking over at me while he pays.
Elijah had a pair of heterochromatic eyes that everyone in the tristate area fell in love with. The first semester of college, I convinced myself that I was in love with Elijah. We had met for the first time in film class and eventually I found myself spending time thinking about him through statistics and ceramics. However, that dreamy, idealized version of him quickly dissolved at the seams when we kissed in the Rambles of Central Park, and there was simply no spark. After pulling away he remarked, “I think it’s better that we stay friends. And I’m not saying that to get out of that complicated awkwardness, I’m saying it because I mean it.”
Elijah’s lovers came and went so quickly; you couldn’t pick them out of a lineup even if held at gunpoint. The only thing I could say about Elijah for sure is that he doesn’t like blondes. But, I mean, who really likes blondes? Anyways, we laugh about it now.
As we entered Central Park now through the 86th Street entrance, I could feel Elijah looking at me. It was that look that you receive from your parents when they deliver the news that your goldfish died. Or from your college guidance counselor, when you get rejected from a school they told you was a safety.
“What?” I said.
“I didn’t say anything,” Elijah replied.
What I admired about Elijah was how he preferred the company of a caterpillar to a butterfly, never caring about the rules and restrictions of the college status quo. He was a creature of habit, never straying from his routine. He always spent his mornings filling out crossword puzzles in my tiny kitchen, his afternoons at the skatepark, and his nights waiting tables at the restaurant around the corner. He always appeared interested in any conversation even if the topic was dull, and he always gave people the time of day even if they didn’t deserve it. What I hated about Elijah was the certain looks he whips out during times like those. They were easy to decipher after putting up with him for two years. The pitiful expression in his eyes that popped out at me then was as startling as a jack-in-the-box.
“I’ll just say this. I have never been more happy now that Jax is gone.”
“I don’t think I have ever felt more miserable in my life,” I replied.
“Think of the positive,” he said, grabbing an egg sandwich from the bag. “Me and him will no longer be in a silent life-or-death battle for your attention.” My ex, Jax, and Elijah never saw eye to eye. Part of the reason we split was because he was always accusing me of cheating on him with Elijah. Breaking up with someone after a long period of time feels like you’re flushing all those precious memories you wrote about in your diary down the toilet to join the rest of New York’s sewage. Sprinkle in the accusations of cheating and lying, and it really just leaves you with a shitty feeling in your gut.
“Falling out of love with someone takes time, I get it. I know the only thing you want to do is wear sweatpants and rewatch Girls for the hundredth time, but you can’t avoid going out to do things just to simply avoid him entirely. It’ll just damage you more, believe me. I mean if I did that, you’d never see me downtown, that’s for sure. Besides, I always said Jax was a prick. And I can say that because he wore designer clothes to Washington Square Park. And only pricks do that.”
“He did love that purple Balenciaga shirt,” I said.
Then suddenly, as if we had manifested his appearance, Jax appeared out of thin air, hand-in-hand with an unremarkable blonde girl beside the Mister Softee parked across the street from the two of us.
“He would settle for a blonde,” Elijah said, and I couldn’t help but laugh.
Beware the Ides of Career Fair
by The Cowl Editor on October 7, 2021
by Aidan Lerner ’22
I think the Career Fair would have been a great place to croak. I mean, kick the bucket in a dramatic fashion.
I walk in there with the stylish, pressed suit my dad picked out for me. I am dressed to the nines, with perfectly styled hair and an aroma of cologne lingering around my shoulders. I enter Peterson with my stack of resumes, grateful, for once, to be wearing a mask. It will hide my nervous half-grin and totally disheveled beard. Also, did I even brush my teeth today? As I approach the firm of my dreams, ready to inquire as to how to break into their industry as a post-graduate, I am ready to present myself as a human being who knows exactly what they are doing and how to do it. In five minutes, my future will be secure. Suddenly, I clutch at my heart, searching for breath. I fall to my knees, and I pass away tragically.
Oh, man. That would have been a fantastic way to go. My friends would have bawled, and my professors would have surely given me posthumous A’s. There has to be a provision in the school handbook that a premature death boosts your GPA. It may have put a slight damper on Homecoming weekend, but far be it for me to judge those who want to indulge in food trucks on Smith Lawn. Go nuts.
Do I genuinely wish I had perished at the Career Fair? No, of course not. Being alive in Friartown is one of my top three favorite things, behind only soccer and pretending to be Spider-Man. I am simply arguing that my demise at the Career Fair would have had its advantages. Chief among them, I cannot miserably fail in my post-graduate life if I have died.
You see, at my funeral, everyone will assume that I would have been a massive success. Eulogies will drone on and on about my “bright future” and how I was “destined for greatness.” After all, look at me. For that matter, look at all of us. We are students at Providence College, and that is no small feat. It points to a track record of success in education or sports or extracurriculars. But, post-graduate life is the question mark that has been waiting for me these past 22 years. Where do we go from here?
As an extremely heartwarming film once said, “Get busy living or get busy dying.” I think I will circle option “A.” Potential is not something to be valued. No one ever got paid because they told a pawn shop that they might mine some gold at some point. So, you take the lessons you learned in Providence, you go out there, and you try. I tried to go to the Career Fair, and I still do not know what my future holds. Only thing left to do is accept that, believe in myself, and then lie to everyone I see about how awesome post-grad life is going to be. Kidding, sort of.
I do not know if they will say I was a “smashing success” at my funeral some day, but I hope they say, “Damn, that guy did what made him happy.” Also, quick side note: I hope I live until I am 101 because then I will have been alive in three different centuries.
A Short Composition About the Sun
by The Cowl Editor on September 3, 2021
Like my tiny, overgrown succulents and plants, I naturally lean towards the sun. Sun for me is like water for fish, its harsh rays embracing me in the same way the ocean delicately wraps herself around a fish’s entire being. The sun and her beautiful rays call out to me daily, begging for me to leave the comfort of my bed, to stroll outside and just live. As her loyal servant, I obey her orders, letting the sun’s stubborn heat darken my skin and lighten my hair. I allow her to peek through my curtains curiously, guiding me through my days, reminding me that yes, everything will be okay.
Naturally, I find myself wanting to be around the sun constantly, as her blinding light is one that never fails to enchant me. Sometimes, I am able to find this light in the best of people, whose aura is somehow able to match the starking clarity of the sun and her light. These people have rays instead of hair, their constantly bright personalities forever bringing me up. Their luscious laughs make even Scrooge-enthusiasts grin, cracking Medusa’s stone-cold statues with their striking smiles. Sun for these people is their oxygen, serving as the sole reason they are able to lazily walk down the same path as I do. These people are ones who give my simple life meaning, their pure, unfiltered beauty one I refuse to shy away from.
While my body strains towards the sun, the sun turns her back on me, acting as a mother who has decided to abandon her child. Like her child, I fail to receive a hint of warmth from the sun’s rays anymore, despite her whispered promise that she would embrace me forever. Traces of the sun clumsily stick around me, only reminding me that she decided to escape from me, ditching me and my failures behind. For her, harsh colors were the only way to see the true me, the one hidden underneath staged Instagram posts and silly fake “chaotic moments” shared with acquaintances that are as shallow as the delicate waves that crash on the sand by my home. I can’t help but stare at the sun angrily, wondering why? Was my personality so terrible, that not even I deserve a little bit of sun? What did I do for her to turn her stunning rays away from me?
The more I focus on the sun and her cruel game, the less I notice yet another being fondly looking at me. This creature stares at me, their head perched on their neck, watching me proudly. Their stone gray eyes happily stare, eyeing me with an expression I am not used to. While this being is far from perfect, it is still beautiful—their tiny light creeping into my room at night, when the sun decides to take her daily rest. The first time they keep me awake, I find myself still crying over the sun’s harsh abandonment, my salty tears staining my face and tainting my typically flawless skin. The moonlight’s soft glow pityingly reflected these miniature signs of despair, sighing as I drew in yet another shaky breath.
One night turned into many, and I found a new comfort: the moon. Instead of wrapping myself up in my blankets and falling to sleep, I would stay wide awake, engaging in strong discourse with a celestial being that successfully distracts me from my worries. Tears no longer weighed down my face, and my once empty skin now had its own personal craters, one that matched my new influencer’s. Happily, the moon introduced me to their family, their inviting glow, one that was not harsh like the sun’s, but comforting like a shower after a long, tiring day. These new friends immediately accepted me, loving me despite my flaws and reassuring me that perfection doesn’t necessarily equal happiness.
Two prominent bags permanently relax under my eyes, yet these small marks are ones I would not give up. Instead of searching for that superficial sun, I find myself gravitating towards people who remind me of my speckled friend in the sky, as their acceptance of me is far superior to the falseness of my sun-filled acquaintances. The moon and her precious light remind me that as humans, we are all flawed, not a single one of us truly possessing that blinding vision of perfection the sun attempts to force upon us. Their guidance has allowed me to give up this toxic view, and the stars have encouraged me to do what the sun has done to me in the past: turn my back on her. While I can no longer aim for the perfection of the sun, I now find comfort in knowing that the moon and their stars will accept me no matter how damaged I am, and I find that affirmation far more beautiful than anything else.