by Elizabeth McGinn on April 22, 2021


person falling
photo courtesy of

by Ellie Forster ’24

I haven’t had a scrape in a bit
Haven’t fallen to the pavement and torn my knee
Or slid my elbow across the driveway

I haven’t had a scrape in some time
Felt the burn of the sun on a cut
Or the sting of it being cleaned

I haven’t had to rip off a bandaid recently
The countdown to the tear
The breath when it’s done

I haven’t had to rip off a bandaid in a while
No, these days they come off in time
With much less drama, much less pain

I haven’t felt that much lately
Not in that most real of ways
The scrape of a leg
The ripping off of a bandaid
I haven’t had to deal with any of that for years



by Elizabeth McGinn on March 18, 2021


by Ellie Forster ’24

Lucy had a talking problem. She was small, but not small enough to not be a bother. So, she did just that. She bothered everyone she met. She pulled on shirts, she asked too many questions, she demanded attention. Lucy was seen and heard. She just wasn’t listened to. And that was what she had begun to crave—for someone, anyone, to listen to her. Her older sisters thought she was a pain, her parents thought she was a problem. So, they sent her to the old woman down the street.

Mrs. Hall was a widow, and she smelled like mold. Each of Lucy’s siblings had had her as a babysitter at one time or another, and each had come back quiet. Now it was her turn. She walked down the road, a bag with some coloring books slung over her little shoulder. She counted the trees on her way there, and how many ones had leaves that had begun to change colors already. She picked up her favorites from the street. When she got to the door, she knocked but as she did, she dropped the leaves and twigs she had collected; they spilled out of her arms onto the top step. Mrs. Hall opened the door.

“Young lady!”

Lucy straightened up, shoving leaves into her bag and pushing hair out of her face. She smiled and stuck out her hand, which was smudged with marker and dirt. The old woman shook her head at it and ushered the girl inside. She turned briskly once Lucy was inside and closed the door behind her. It was cold and neat inside her house, but a warm light streamed in from a picture window in the parlor. Lucy gazed lovingly at the window seat. It had deep red cushions, and books stacked in the shelves beneath it. Her bag fell from her shoulder and she bounded over to it. She laid out on the cushions, bathing in the light. She mused to the woman gawking at her about the warmth and the beauty, asking when her house was built, when it was sold to her and her late husband, and then how did her husband die? And was he a handsome man? What was it that he first did that made her know she loved him? Or did she never love him? Was there someone else? And—

“Young lady! I daresay you may be the rudest of all your siblings, and that Clara was an ordeal! Take your shoes off immediately and go wash your hands. And that incessant chittering and chattering will stop now. Off with you.”

Lucy did as she was told. She was never a disobedient child, just a talkative one. As she left the bathroom, toweling her hands, she asked the woman about that word she had used, “incessant,” and what it meant.

“For someone so curious I’m surprised you don’t know.”

Lucy was quiet.

“Alright, it means constant, nonstop.”

Lucy thanked her and sprung to the kitchen, leaving the towel on the ground in the hallway. She began to ask more questions, about the food and what each appliance and utensil was for.

“That’s for dicing…well, it’s for cutting vegetables very small…I suppose it wouldn’t have to be used on vegetables…no, you couldn’t use it on candies…well, they’d get it all sticky…that’s a juicer…yes, it is used for vegetables, too…”

The girl then asked her again about her husband. This time she answered.

“Robert was kind. I suppose that is what drew me to him at first…romantic? I dunno if he was romantic necessarily. In the traditional sense. Well yes…”

They sat on the floor of the kitchen talking for the duration of Lucy’s visit. When the clock struck six, Lucy jumped up, saying she would be late for dinner. She hugged Mrs. Hall and collected her things. She was halfway out the door, then she asked if she could come again. The old woman nodded, and as she watched the little girl run away, down the street, she picked the towel up off the floor and folded it in her hand.

She made her way to the picture window and sat on it, picking up a leaf from the cushion, and closed her eyes as the sun fell from the sky. She sat and listened to the silence.


For Better, For Worse

by Elizabeth McGinn on February 11, 2021


heart in an envelope
photo courtesy of

by Ellie Forster ’24

Margaret never liked when people made a fuss about her anniversary. Harold had been gone for almost a year now, and they hadn’t been a festive pair when he was alive. To act like that day was any different now just seemed silly. All she wanted was for Tim and June to come over, to have lunch like they always did, and be alone. It was just a Wednesday. That was all. Old friends would call, and she’d let the phone ring. Didn’t need reminders of a day fifty years ago, a day that no one else even understood. Only the ones who stood up on that altar could understand. Them, and them alone. 

June and Tim rang the bell at 1:15, same as they always did. They let themselves in, and Tim went to the bathroom. June stood in the kitchen, the light surrounding her, touching her figure so gently it was like it was afraid of her. She wore a blue button-down tucked into an old pair of jeans. Her hair curled softly, and she had a yellow bandana holding it back. She turned to see Margaret standing there, a dish towel in her hand. The old friends smiled at each other, and when Margaret walked over, June took her hand and squeezed it.  

The two couples had been best friends for 60 years, since middle school. They were each other’s best men and maids of honor. They bought houses on the same street, and the houses were one another’s. So much of the furniture in Margaret’s house had been picked out by Tim, they had just given him his own room to decorate. That parlor was the best room in the house, everyone agreed. Neither couple had ever had children, and nothing else could’ve possibly severed the bond they shared. They were inseparable. 

June and Margaret sat in the parlor when Tim came in. He sank into a chair and smiled. 

“I miss him.” 

The women smiled and each took one of Tim’s hands.  

“So do I,” said Margaret quietly. 

Tim’s eyes shone, and his chest rose. “He’d be so embarrassed of me right now. He’d hate this.” 

“Well, he’d definitely have some remark, I’m sure we can all agree about that,” June said with a laugh. Margaret looked at her, and her face flushed still, the same it had when they were kids. That laugh shattered her chest into a million pieces and offered her heart up, praying it would be taken. 

Tim wiped his face and smiled. “That he would.” Then the old man took an envelope out of his jacket pocket and slid it across the table.  

The women looked at it and saw the letter M written in elegant script.  

Margaret looked up at Tim. “No.” 

“It’s from him.” 

Her heart sank. “For me?” 


She sighed. She lightly took the letter and a knife from the table. She took out the small piece of paper and saw seven words in a familiar, soft handwriting. 


I can’t thank you enough. 


Margaret felt the tears come, and she felt her friends come to her side, Tim’s hand on her back as he, too, wept, and June pulling Margaret’s head to her chest, running her hands through her hair. 

Fifty years earlier, four people stood on an altar as Harold and Margaret held hands. They said the words the priest told them to, and they were pronounced man and wife. Behind her new husband, Margaret saw Tim smile, and Harold turned to him as the crowd cheered. The men met eyes and grinned. Harold grabbed Tim’s hand and turned to face his wife. A hand squeezed Margaret’s shoulder from behind her, and Margaret turned to see June standing there, the sun intimidated by her glow. She hugged her, and as June laughed, she felt her chest burst. As they left one another’s embrace, Margaret kept June’s hand in hers. Then the happy couple shared a kiss.  



by Elizabeth McGinn on February 4, 2021


photo courtesy of

by Ellie Forster ’24

Lying on the pavement
My leg tickles as my sister
Traces the shape of my fidgeting,
Six-year-old self.

She connects the line to its beginning,
And its end disappears.

The chalk brushes against the side of my knee
And I giggle in discomfort
I stand, take a breath
And attack my chalk silhouette.
Clothing myself with a rainbow

Red skirt
Orange and yellow striped shirt
A green necklace with a heart charm (for flair)
Violet sneakers on my feet
Blue eyes
Pink lips
And brown hair

My back, preheated by the pavement of our driveway,
Is cooked by the sun
As I trace my sister.
The moment I finish she leaps up,
And dons a purple chalk dress and blue chalk glasses, to go
With her yellow chalk hair
While I plant a chalk flower.

Before we’re done our other sister ambushes us,
Spraying wildly with the hose
We chase after her in soaked cotton,
And as our mud- and color-covered feet
Leave the heat of the pavement,
We’re washed away.



by The Cowl Editor on November 12, 2020


person writing
Photo courtesy of

by Ellie Forster ’24

I’m going to write something


A story, of just the right length,

With just the right balance of righteousness,

And questionable morals.

A song with the duality of a woman,

Sung to the heartbeat in her chest

A novel that eats at you like a hunger,

Stripping you bare as you stare into its mirror

An essay exposing some great truth,

Shared with a fervor

Or at the very least,

The poem of a hopeful no one

Who longs to reach people

With the words

Too stuck in her head

To escape



Wedding Lace

by The Cowl Editor on October 1, 2020


woman in a wedding dress, face covered by flowers
photos courtesy of and; graphic design by Sarah McLaughlin ’23

by Ellie Forster ’24

Every day she woke up at seven to leave at seven thirty to get to school at eight. She always walked, no matter what. Since about halfway through the fourth grade, she walked alone. That was, until her mother shoved a six-year-old’s hand in hers, said something about new neighbors, new school, and said to walk with her. So, now she walked slightly less alone. The little girl babbled on about breakfast, about her sneakers, about her mom, about her old house, about her new house, and everything else there was to babble about. Eventually she acknowledged there was something in her presence, something with conscious thought. 

“Do you wanna know a secret?”

She paused, thinking about it. Saying yes would mean more talking, saying no would surely mean the same. With no way to win, she gave in. 


“My name isn’t Buttercup.” 


“But that’s what you have to call me.” 


“Because I saw a movie, and the princess’s name was Buttercup, and she was in love and it was awesome, and now that’s my name, but except it isn’t really.” 


“You probably don’t know that movie.” 


“It’s really old. Older than you even.” 

“I bet.”

Another pause, as Buttercup tried to think of something to say. It wasn’t long before she did.

“Why do you walk to school?” 


“Why don’t you take the bus?” 

“I dunno, driving makes me sick, so I like to walk, I guess. My dad walked with me when I was little.” 

“Oh.” She kicked a rock in the road. “Was he quiet like you?” 

She thought about that for a while. She guessed it was true; she and her dad never really had conversations on their walks. But he wasn’t quiet either. He loved to talk, and she loved to listen to him. He never talked about himself, or her mom, or anything as unimportant as that. He would just tell her these weird stories. She always paid attention as closely as she could, and then she’d repeat them to herself throughout the day. That’s what she’d do on these walks to school normally. She’d stare at the ground and hear her dad’s voice in her head, trying to remember the words he used as best she could. 

“No, he would talk.” 

“What would he say?” 

“He would just tell me things. Stories.” 

“Like movies?” 

“Kind of, yeah.” 

“Can you tell me one?” 

She paused, thinking and moving. She looked down blankly at Buttercup, who was wide-eyed and smiling. She cleared her throat. 

“Yeah, okay.” 


“Yeah, okay. Right. So, there’s a man, and his name was, um, well, his name doesn’t matter, he’s the only guy in the story. Yeah, so there’s this guy, and he’s going to marry this woman, this girl, who can’t love him back. She just won’t let herself, basically, and—” 

Buttercup tapped her, “Was the man handsome?” 

“Yeah, I guess so.” 

“Was he nice?” 

“Yeah, I guess.” 

“So, why didn’t she love him?” 

“She just didn’t, listen to the story, okay?” 

“This is stupid.” 

“Do you wanna hear the story or not?” 

Buttercup nodded begrudgingly. 

“Okay, so she didn’t love him, because she couldn’t love anyone since her sister died. Her sister had been, like, this perfect, beautiful, girl, that everyone loved. And, oh yeah, the man had loved the sister before, and then once the sister was dead, he decided to marry her instead.

Anyway, the woman always felt, like, less than her sister, and she hated her because of it. But she also loved her sister. It was complicated, I guess. They were best friends, but she, like, hated her, in a jealous way. But then when she died, after they buried her behind the chapel, the man proposed to her instead. She felt awful, ’cause she knew her sister had actually loved him. It was this horrible joke, ‘cause now she finally didn’t hate her sister anymore, but she was still second to her. The guy only wanted her ‘cause he couldn’t have her sister. But she agreed to marry him.” 

Buttercup interrupted, “Why?” 

“I’m going to get to that.”

Buttercup looked down, embarrassed. She almost felt bad. “Hey, sorry,” she said, and the little girl looked up at her. “I can stop now if you want. I know you prefer the prince, princess, true love thing.” 

“No, it’s okay.” 

“Okay,” she paused, trying to remember where she left off. “So, the wedding. The guy had this dress made, this beautiful big gown, with real white flowers called ‘Queen Anne’s Lace’ sewn into the fabric ‘til the dress was coated in the stuff. Since they were using real flowers, they had to get them the night before the wedding so they would be fresh. They had made two dresses, so she could see what it would look like with the flowers before the actual day. So, in her closet she had a dress with dying flowers that reeked.” 

She got excited because she used to repeat this next one line to herself all the time. She loved the way her dad had said it. “It’s that smell dead flowers have, like sour wine, like some sickly sweet promise has been broken.” She looked at Buttercup after that line, expecting her to be in awe. She just looked back at her, waiting. 

She kept going. “Anyway, on the night before her wedding, once she had the dress, she made everyone promise that she could get ready by herself, and that she could do it in the chapel. So, when they came in, there she was standing at the end of the aisle, in her beautiful, pure white dress. Except it smelled awful in there, and everyone was freaking out, ’cause this place was decked out completely in flowers, so it should’ve smelled awesome. Once everyone was inside, the door slammed shut behind them, and there was the woman, in the dress with the dying flowers. She was covered in dirt and stuck a shovel through the door handles, trapping them. Everyone was shocked, but mostly ’cause, if she was there, who was at the end of the aisle? So, the guy ran down and lifted the veil, and it was the sister. She was all rotted, the other half of that awful smell. Everyone freaked out. A bunch of people fainted, the guy was crying, it was chaos. And then the woman just walked herself down the aisle, took out a knife, cut off her dead sister’s finger, and put the guy’s ring on it. Then she walked out, and no one ever saw her again. That’s the end.” 

Buttercup’s mouth hung open, and her little hand had gone limp. They had arrived at school and were standing still outside of the kindergarten classroom.

“Well. Bye, then. I’ll come pick you up at the end—” 

Buttercup suddenly unfroze and hugged her. “Thanks! Can you tell me it again on the walk home?”


She stood there again in six hours, until a little girl bounded out and grabbed her hand. She began, “So, there was this guy…”