Dying Shades of Blue and Green

by The Cowl Editor


Portfolio


hospital hallway
Photo courtesy of pexels.com

by AJ Worsley ’22

I’ve been here for about six…ish days now. It’s dreary and anxiety inducing. My mother always told me that hospitals should be considered a safe place because if anything were to go wrong with your health, who’s going to address it faster than doctors in a hospital? Better to have a heart attack in a hospital bed than your actual bed. But it wasn’t. I’ve been here for sixish days and I barely see any nurses stop by. They swing by my room less and less; they’re no longer concerned about me—at least, that’s how it seems. Surely they’re busy tending to other patients who are in more dire need of their attention. I am just lonely. 

As bizarre as it sounds, I can’t even remember why I am here. Anytime I ask someone in scrubs why I have to stay here, they express a look of concern, type something really fast into their chart, and proceed to say, “We’re just monitoring a few things, you should be out of here in no time.” Then, another day passes. 

Eventually one of the nurses communicates to me that I came in for an extreme fever of 102.2 and no matter what they have done to try and lower the fever, nothing has worked. No amount of liquid hydration, ibuprofen, or cooling cloths lowered the fever. Ironically, it seems the more efforts we make to lower the fever, the more it actually rises. I came in with a 102.2 and fiveish days later I was up to a 103.8. I know why they are keeping me here now. The fever is gradually but steadily rising. As it turns out, they are monitoring my pulse and blood pressure to find out why it is rising. The memory loss is a direct result of the high fever. However, my body reminds me why I’m here just after the nurse does. The hot flash comes and won’t go away. This causes a coughing fit. I can’t sit comfortably in bed. The sheets touching my skin make me even more warm. One of the nurses comes in to check my temperature.

“Open your mouth.” I open it.

A minute passes by. The thermometer reads 105.7.

It’s rising faster. The nurse exits the room. 

I assume the nurse is going to get something or someone to help me, but I am once again left alone with my thoughts. Time passes and the sun goes down, but there is still plenty of heat in my body. I watch outside the door of my room. People in scrubs and pure white lab coats down to the midpoint of their thighs walk by my room. One after another, not a single person peers into my room.

“H-hey!” I yell out, muffled by the sound of their footsteps.

“Hello!” Louder than the last time, but they continue walking.

“HEY!” I scream. Nothing. Staring at the alert device on my bed, I press the nurse call button to urge them into my room. I smile, assuming that this has to work, but to no avail, I remain unheard.

Why are they ignoring me? I feel like I’m dying and they’re just walking right by me! Maybe I already am dead and they’re walking by me because they can’t save me… 

Sweat tickles my upper lip and I lick it away. I close my eyes and try to calm down. Pleading is effortless and it is wasting the little energy I have left. 

I get up and walk slowly out of my room and towards the nurse’s station, where they will meet with me face to face, unable to ignore me. Without hesitation I start screaming, pushing a nearby cart down the hall, which I eventually hear bang into the wall as I wipe the counter of the nurses’ office clear of any paperwork.

“SIR!” a nurse yells at me.

“Oh, why hello! You mean to tell me you see me? DO YOU HEAR ME?”

“Yes, we hear—”

“I AM DYING AND NONE OF YOU CARE,” I plead. “YOU ONLY NOTICE ME NOW BECAUSE I’M BEING DESTRUCTIVE.”

A needle enters the area near my neck. A sedative. 

A voice calls out “Earth, time of death—” 

No, I’m not dead, I’m alive, how else would I be hearing you? No, no, no, no, I’m not dead! You can’t call time of death for a man who is conscious and coherent! I’m alive! And if I’m not, it’s your fault! You all ignored me every time I tried to ask for help! You killed me! There’s blood on your hands!

 

Pre-K Church

by The Cowl Editor


Portfolio


mural ceiling of a church
Photo courtesy of pexels.com

by Kate Ward ’23

Over the past two years I have been engaged in a long-winded legal battle. A decision was finally made and I have lost my church building as a result. Now it’s up to me to find a new place for my congregation to meet, and even worse: It’s Saturday and I haven’t thought of anything. My phone rings—it’s one of my regulars, and I don’t have the heart to tell them I have no idea where we’re meeting. I ignore it and jump on my laptop, and head to the hub of all activity: Facebook. I troll the various groups where no one is offering up a space to worship. I close my laptop with a sigh, scoot back in my chair, and rub my face before getting up and walking to my living room where my cat, Cornelious, is watching one of my favorite films, Field of Dreams. I look at him, into his tired-looking orange eyes. “Corn, what would happen if my congregation and I chopped down a cornfield in order to worship?” 

He replies with an unenthusiastic meow, so I continue, now pacing my living room. As the idea strikes me, I hurry back to my laptop and reopen Zuckerberg’s lair. I pull up a textbox and begin to type, my fingers flying furiously as the idea swells in my brain. After five long minutes I rock back and reread it: 

Greetings! 

I regret to inform you all that we have lost our church building and now I have had to get creative for our meeting place. As we know, we can worship anywhere, but I know a lot of you loved our church building, as did I. I am here to propose an idea. We have been talking about trying to attract new, younger members and I think I have solved that problem along with the problem of finding a new place to worship. It hit me: A Baseball League of Worship. A Field of Scripture if you will. Tomorrow we’ll be meeting at the field at the center of town. Bring sneakers and a glove if you have it. Can’t wait to see you there! 

I smile and hit send, closing my laptop once more. I join Corn on the couch and scratch him behind the ears before impatiently pulling out my phone, refreshing Facebook repeatedly until the night grows dark and I get my first reply, a smile with hearty eyes. I sigh, content with my work for the day. As I got ready for bed, I packed my baseball bag and hit the hay, mind whirring.  

I dressed the following morning in my usual clothes, substituting my loafers for sneakers. Driving off to the baseball field, I noted as I parked that there were many more minivans than usual. I quickly realized that there was a little league game going on, and I got out of my car, holding my text to my chest as my confused congregation moseyed alongside me like puppies following their mother. I realized I was going to have to be a lot more creative in choosing a new meeting place other than the baseball field. Maybe I could use the small outdoor part of the neighboring pre-K school? I walked to the pre-K and knocked before being let in by a kind older woman who joyously granted us 20 tiny chairs and an equally tiny table. We huddled around the small table, eating Goldfish as our knees hit the table. Before I started, I couldn’t help but laugh at my traveling band of friends.  

 

A Woman Named Camilla

by The Cowl Editor


Portfolio


two mugs filled with coffee
Photo courtesy of pexels.com

by Taylor Maguire ’24

I moved to Boston during a very epochal phase of my life. The studio I came upon by chance and moved into last November was nestled in between coffee shops and boutiques that sold jewelry more expensive than my rent; it was a complete hidden gem. It had the occasional mouse and squeaky pipes but it kept me warm during harsh New England storms. The building housed a group of eclective characters, but the biggest anomaly of the building was the woman who lived on the third floor. Maybe it was the many layers of snow keeping me locked in that New Year’s Eve that made my interest in her grow, but curiosity did end up killing the cat. I found myself standing in front of her door. What was known about the woman was that she was a fortune teller, or at least all the tenants believed so. My bald landlord Larry murmured a word of caution after he helped carry in my bookcase saying,  

“Avoid the witch upstairs.”  

When I knocked on her door that day, it flung open quickly as if she was expecting me. Her hair was feather gray and coiled around her waist. She had big turquoise earrings that mirrored your own reflection, and wore a deep violet turtleneck with lace along the sleeves. She gave me a quick glance before speaking.  

“It’s always a pleasure to meet new tenants. Please come in,” she said. 

Her apartment was flooded in winter sunlight that poured in through her stained glass window. She had a big table in the middle of the room and two big, emerald green sofa chairs surrounding it.

“Would you like some tea?” she had offered.  

“Oh no, that’s all right—” I had begun but she was already pouring us each a cup. The mug she handed me was tall and had yellow chrysanthemums painted all around it.  

“Remind me of your name,” she had said.  

“Maeve,” I replied.  

“I am Camilla. When did you move in again?” she had asked.  

“Two months ago,” I replied.  

“I’ve been here around 40 years now,” she said, leaning back in her chair as she spoke. “And in that time, I have seen a collection of faces that weave their way in and out of this building, similar to when one watches a deck of cards get shuffled. Much like the Kings and Queens of the deck, there are some faces that jump out of the bunch with more intensity, but others slip by briefly and with no remembrance.” She held my gaze for a while and only turned away as a giant cat suddenly jumped onto the table.  

“That’s just Romeo. He’s an old soul, but eats pastries like nobody’s business,” she chuckled as he made himself comfortable beside a record player. Romeo’s fur was gray like the fog that lingers around the Golden Gate Bridge, and he had a peculiar dent in his right ear.  

“Have you always lived on the third floor?” I asked.  

 She rubbed the rim of her tea cup with her arthritic fingers.  

“Not quite. A while ago when I was in love, I lived on the ground floor in apartment A, beside the boiler room. I married a man when I was 17—the entire world looks so shiny and new at 17. In high school, he would dog-ear pages of poetry he thought I would like, and push my hair behind my ears when I would paint. I truly thought he was my person. But, eventually when we moved to Newbury Street, the world became progressively rotten. Our relationship no longer revolved around poetry books and the little acts of kindness. The love morphed into the stacks of bills that would sit on our coffee stand or whether or not I had cleaned the bathroom that day. And the resentment just continued to spiral. So I moved upstairs.”  

“Why would you stay in the building? Why wouldn’t you leave?” I asked.  

“Love is a funny thing. Every morning I make toast, feed Romeo a pastry from the bakery down the street, and I open the door expecting to see a poetry book with dog-tagged pages just waiting for me on my welcome mat. There’s always the hope of things working out that seem to tether you to a fantasy. But it’s just a fantasy. You can keep the mug. It’s riddled with bad memories for me. But maybe it’ll answer whatever you came to my door looking for,” she said.  

I left shortly after that.  

When I went back downstairs, I looked over the cup with more intensity. Inscribed on the handle was a vow of love with Camilla’s name, and the name Larry in script beside it.  

 

 

The Last Day on Earth

by The Cowl Editor


Portfolio


by Connor Zimmerman ’20

A shooting ray of sunshine runs across the pitch-black void surrounding it. The cold and lifeless void tries to smother the ray, but it continues to travel faster than anyone can comprehend. It races towards our atmosphere, hurling itself through the sky. It sees a lowly, decrepit house and finds its target. Flying towards the window, determined to penetrate past all barriers, it crashes through the window and strikes an elderly man in his face.

The elderly man wakes up in a fright. He looks over at his nightstand and sees that his alarm clock says 6:00 a.m. He slowly begins to hear the smooth jazz playing from it, as the door swings open. A sprightly man hurries in and turns the lights on. The elderly man shields his eyes, but the other one continues on with his routine. He places breakfast on the man’s nightstand, turns the alarm clock off, pulls the curtains open from the windows, and helps the elderly man sit up.

“James, today is the day.”

The sprightly man turns toward him and asks, “Master, what are you talking about? It is too soon.”

“When you have lived a life of over two hundred years, there is no such thing as ‘too soon.’ The universe sent me a message this morning as a favor for all that I have done. One day to enjoy all that I cherish.”

James nods his head and leaves the room. The elderly man eats his breakfast and slowly starts his routine. He gets out of bed, brushes his teeth, showers, and eventually gets dressed. Once he is finished, he walks into his library containing hundreds of shelves of books spiraling all around the room. They have been alive as long as or even longer than he has. He drags his finger across the spine of every book on a shelf near him. Eyes closed, he knows what he is looking for just by connecting with its inner energy. He finds the one he is looking for and picks it up off the shelf. He walks over to his chair and reads the pages and illustrations once again. Smiling, he tucks the book underneath his arm and begins to walk out of the house.

He walks down the street with no destination in mind. His senses pick up on the environment around him. The smell of the fresh-cut grass created after a long morning’s work. The screams of children playing with water guns to cool off on this hot day. The view of a young couple touring houses in the neighborhood hoping to find the one that they can call home. He senses it all and continues to walk down the street, albeit with a smile.

The elderly man continues to walk until he reaches the city. The smells, sounds, and sights all hit him at once. The smell of fresh fruit from the farmer’s market. The rhythmic sounds of an acoustic guitar street performer. The view of the skyscrapers standing proud over the people walking beneath. He notices all these wonders, yet he continues to walk. He finally reaches a park and finds a bench near a fountain under the shade of a tree whose leaves are losing their color. As he sits down, he hears the water cascading down from the top of the fountain. Drop by drop going into the pool beneath. Causing ripples to glide across the water, obscuring the coins beneath. He smiles and he waits.

***

A young girl walks through the park sensing all the wonders around her, and she cannot help but smile. The chirps of squirrels climbing the trees around her. The slow change of leaves from their once vibrant green to rustic orange. The laughter of friends having a picnic on the grass. Walking, she hears the distinct trickle of water that can only come from a fountain. She turns her head and begins to walk towards it. As she walks, she notices something shiny on the ground. She looks down and sees that it is a penny. Smiling, she picks it up and goes up to the fountain. She closes her eyes and whispers a wish. Tossing the coin into the water, she sheds a tear hoping that her wish will come true.

“You know if you say the wish it does not come true.” 

Startled, the girl turns around and sees an old man.

“Where did you come from?”

“I have been here for quite a while, waiting for someone to notice me.”

“What do you mean, notice you? This park is always packed on the weekends.”

“It takes a very special person to notice me.” He then extends his hand holding a book towards her. She looks at him, and he nods his head. She takes the book from him and instantly she can sense everything. She can see the water evaporating from the fountain on the hot day. She can feel the sweat forming underneath her own skin. She can hear the beat of the man’s heart in front of her. She drops the book and her senses go numb.

She fumbles for her words, but manages to rapidly ask, “What was that? What happened? What did you do to me?”

“I did nothing, child. You have a great power inside of you. You are connected to the universe like I am. It sent me here to tell you this and start you on your path. That book is only the beginning of a great journey…if you have the courage to take the first step.”

“What do you mean power? I am just a kid. My parents won’t even let me stay up past 10:00 p.m.”

“What did you wish for child?”

“I thought you said…”

“What did you wish for?”

“I wished that I could save my mom from dying…she has cancer.” 

“The power that you have is meant to be used to preserve life. To fight for it against that which will harm it.” The elderly man stands up and mutters something under his breath. Suddenly the rustic orange leaves of the tree above him slowly change into their once vibrant green color. The young girl steps back in astonishment, but she feels something wet dripping above her. She turns around and falls backwards as she looks at the water suspended above in the shape of a hand waving at her. “You see child, when you are connected to the universe, it allows you a power that few can challenge. It is your destiny to fight for it like I have.”

She looks towards the old man and stutters, “But how will I know what is right?”

“With time and error. But listen to the universe and you will never stray far from the path.”

The elderly man begins to walk away from the girl. She shouts, “Wait! Please don’t go, I have so many more questions.” The elderly man begins to fade away and the young girl finds herself shouting at nothing but the air. She looks at her side and finds the book by her feet. She picks it up and looks through the pages and illustrations. She tucks the book underneath her arm and begins to head back home. She senses it all and continues to walk with a smile.

***

The elderly man returns to his small decrepit house. As he opens the door, he finds James walking in a nervous pace. James races to hug him and says, “Where have you been? There is not much time left.”

The elderly man smiles and says, “The universe gives us all the time that we need. It allowed me to find its new champion and to enjoy my last day on this planet by sensing all its wonders one last time.”

Hands holding a book
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