Shadowy Fiend

By: Eric Siegel ’16

There I stood, motionless, face to face with the shadowy fiend within my subconscious. Its radiant bloodshot eyes burn a hole within the inner fragments of my soul with every passing day. It is no surprise that I have grown frail with brittle bones from my decomposing brain. It is the foggy nightmare that will not go away and the foulest part is that all it wants is oozing red blood. This demon breathes inside me, it is something I cannot get rid of because it is me and all it wants is to be freed.

I am unable to recollect how long it has lingered inside my innermost depths; however, I have concluded that it has most likely been there since birth. The mere thought that I didn’t realize it was inside me sooner still shocks me to this day. I sometimes still wonder if I had discovered it sooner when it was still weak and confused could I have stopped it. Is it possible that I could have stopped all of this from ever happening? I still reminisce the time when I first came across it; it actually had the audacity to demand my friendship and I foolishly accepted it.

The recollection is in reality nothing more than a dream; it is the only time the demon is able to influence and haunt. It is able to construct the dreams into whatsoever it desires because when I pass out I go into its world. Such as the day that it acknowledged my existence. Maybe it was just afraid or maybe it was just waiting, whatever the circumstances for why it waited, I will never forget the first time those eyes met mine. No matter what physique it chooses, there are always those golden yellow cat eyes that always seem to stay bloodshot.

However, for this specific encounter it had picked something serene and heavenly; for it must have recognized that to not set off alarms within it would have to deceitfully appear as nonthreatening as possible. It did it spotlessly. I never suspected a thing, for what did I have to distress over within my very own dreams after having closed my eyes like any time before. Naïve was I to not fathom that a heavenly figure with those eyes could ever do any mischief. It had golden wings that had been attached to a human back and its skin appeared to burn in the night that surrounded it. At the time I was dumbfounded by the magnificence of such a creature.

Its excellence continued as it dazzled with its numerous tricks within the gloomy night sky with glittering stars that it had chosen for this encounter. Then just like that, without any signaling, it propelled itself to the ground and landed with a blast of wind that nearly pushed me off my feet. There it stood, wings tucked to its side, a mere couple inches away from my face, that I could only guess showed aguish. Indeed, I will confess that I was terrified; however, it did a great job because I could not see a hint of evil.

Time seemed to freeze like the lake does outside my house every winter. Who knows for sure how long we stood there without stirring the airborne smut still plummeting ever so slowly in between our intense stares. The only thing that appeared to be capable of shattering me from this trance was the realization that this creatures breath was now coming from its mouth ever more rapidly; I could observe it ever so vividly in this icy dream because it shown like a haze. It was undertaking what individuals have notoriously known how to accomplish for an extensive time. It was speaking to me and it was time to heed to what this creature had to say.

I permitted my ears to concentrate on the prompt undertaking of its rosy moist lips and was dumbfounded to discover that it wasn’t speaking at all, but rather, talking to me through its thoughts. I focused my thoughts to hear what it was saying and that is where I committed my first major mistake. It had tested and examined my stature up until this point that it had questioned for my hand in friendship. I was hesitant as I stretched out for its hand and allowed are hands to take hold of each other into a death grip of a handshake. This insignificant symbol of a friendship would be my collapse because this was the beginning of an exploding star; it was putting its blueprints into action. At that instant I sensed a tingling perception travel up my limb and spread to the shadiest depths of my body. Everything departed into a spiral of darkness and I lost all consciousness of this world.

Reminisce

By: Olabisi Alabi ’16

She steps out of the station

Squinting her eyes, rough lines on her forehead, eyebrows touching.

The sun fixated her fascination

On the top half of her face, clutching,

Her legs were going back and forth.

The cement is steady.

Her heart is quickly beating ,

Waiting for him. For the first time

Her eyes spot a man she recognizes.

She wants to tell him of her crime,

But all she does is stare and gaze.

She melts into his arms as he envelops her.

She is now safe in the comfort of her pillow.

In reality, it is him she truly prefers;

No other person.

They sit on a rock, staring into the sky,

Lost in each other’s thoughts, searching for the pieces

So they won’t have to say goodbye.

Time is running away from them.

Exhausted from the race,

They hold on to each other for support.

His soft lips brush against hers,

A cold shiver rushes down her spine.

She continues to hold on as their souls intertwine.

He tastes just like jolly ranchers,

Bursting with different flavors.

She’s falling deep.

Reality becomes an imposter and

They are forced to stop, wanting more.

Editor’s Note — May 2012

      As Editor-in-Chief of The Collegian for this academic year, I feel compelled to extend my gratitude to those of you who have taken the time to submit to our school’s literary magazine this year. I know that sometimes it can be difficult to expose your words, but I want you to know that it was your creative work that was the foundation of The Collegian.

      But I must thank my staff for their submissions, genuine hard work, and love of writing that brought all of the material together. I really enjoyed working with you.

      And to The Board of Publications: Prof. Dubrow, Prof. Olsen, and Melissa McIntire, thank you for giving me the opportunity to recreate and re-establish The Collegian, for your support and guidance throughout the year, and for your encouragement.

      To Kate Bursick and Shane Brill, who were essential in the operation of The Collegian. Thank you for always helping me out, especially during the crazy times.

      I would like to welcome Abby Schwartz as our Editor-in-Chief for next year!

      And finally to my fellow seniors, I wish you all the best.

                                                                                                Olivia Hamilton Mott
                                                                                                Editor-in-Chief 2011-2012

From the Ring on the Heath Part II

By: Stephanie Brown ’12

****

     Aggie was gently bouncing Tom on her knee as the stew broiled over the hearth. Tom cooed happily and waved his tiny hands, grabbing a loose strand of her hair.

     “Careful, careful,” Aggie said, smiling.

     She tickled his stomach, and Tom kicked his legs, giving a joyful squeal.

     “Who am I?” she asked.

     “Ma!” Tom gurgled, clapping his hand and grinning his toothless smile.

     The door opened at that point. Aggie looked up to see Giles, but her smile faded instantly. His brows were creased, his mouth in a thin line.

     “Da!” Tom laughed and made more nonsense sounds.

     “Giles, what is it? Is Duncan bickering again? I told you to just ignore—”

     “Where did you find it?” Giles snapped, his finger jabbing towards the baby giggling in her lap.

     “He’s not an ‘it.’ Besides, I told you, I found him on the doorstep.”

     “You’re lying. You’ve been lying from the start.” Giles paced along the room, running a bulky hand through his hair. “No one ever came by in the night, did they?”

     Aggie straightened her back. “Of course they did, how else would I have—”

     “Stop.”

     Something in his tone made Aggie’s stomach freeze. She stood, shifting Tom so that he clung to her shoulder. Giles eyed the baby for a few seconds.

     “I’ll ask you one last time. Where did you get it?” He turned his gaze on his wife.

     “Why won’t you listen to me?” Aggie snapped. Tom began to tug on her hair.

     Giles let out a bitter laugh. “God in Heaven, you did it. I can’t believe you. Was there not enough sense in your head to keep you from going to the ring on the heath?”

     Anger colored her cheeks as she said, “You should learn to count your blessings.”

     “Blessings?!” He exploded, the sudden shout startling Tom until he wailed. “You brought a changeling into our home! Did you want a babe that badly?”

     “Yes!” Aggie clutched the baby closer and stroked his tufts of hair. “I don’t regret what I did! Who cares what everyone else thinks? He’ll grow, he’s just slow, that’s all.”

     “Listen to yourself, woman. You’re in denial. What more evidence do you need that the thing is cursed? We should do as everyone says and leave it back in the ring.”

     Aggie gripped Tom tighter. He began to cry. “No! How dare you say that about our son!”

     “He is not our son! We never had a son!”

     The silence that followed hung heavy in the air, seemingly pressing down on them. Giles stood firm, chest heaving, face flushed with anger, while Aggie remained wide-eyed and pale.

     “I’m giving you a choice,” Giles said heavily. “Return…him to the ring, or leave here with him. If you do, you are no longer my wife.”

     Aggie was still, the only motion coming from the baby squirming in her arms. At long last, she slowly, nervously opened her mouth.

     “I…I’ll need to pack my things.”

     The look in Giles’ eyes nearly crushed her. But she held on, for Tom.

     “Aggie…please…it’s not human.”

     “I love him. He needs me.”

     Giles blinked his eyes a few times, and then turned towards the door. “You’ve made your choice. But you forget, Aggie, that I love you, too. It seems your want of a child means more to you than I ever could. Enjoy the life you’ve chosen.”

     He was gone, and the door’s closing held finality in its loud thud. Aggie winced, trembled, and looked down at her son, trying hard not to cry. “It’s just you and me now, Tommy. Come on, Mama needs to get some stuff together.”

     It was dark by the time she left the house, her bag of clothes and small possessions stuffed in the cradle that she pushed down the dirt road. Tom was wrapped up and tied snug to her chest, where he pressed against her for warmth. It was hard work, but she managed to cross the bridge to where the old abandoned mill cottage stood. The original mill had long since fallen into disrepair, causing another to be built, but the cottage still remained. It was in need of a new roof and shutters, but Aggie would make do. She was determined to, for her child.

****
      

     Aggie fixed everything up by herself. No one ever stopped by, not even Giles, though she sometimes thought that she caught sight of him lingering near the bridge, never crossing. After a few months he stopped coming. Aggie, too, never crossed the bridge, except for Sunday service, the only time she ever left Tom napping at the cottage. People avoided sitting beside her, oftentimes staring pointedly in the opposite direction.

     Five years later, Aggie went to church and saw Giles. He was with a woman, a pretty woman with one hand on a rosary and the other holding his own. Her belly was just beginning to fill with child. A bitter taste filled her mouth, but she focused her gaze on the altar. After that day, she only stopped by in the evenings to light a candle and pray.

****
      

     The years crept by. One by one, Aggie watched as everyone she knew died. Her hair grew grey, her skin weathered and wrinkled, and her back became bent from sitting beside the cradle for so long. Still, her baby remained the same.

     The younger generations avoided her. Some looked upon her with pity, others with scorn. They whispered behind her back, perhaps thinking that her hearing had deteriorated with her old age. No one came by her house anymore, save for a few curious children hoping to catch sight of the changeling child.

     Aggie was scared. She was going to die, but her baby would remain behind. She had heard the whispers; she knew what would happen when that day came. The fear gnawed at her heart, and she prayed and seethed and sobbed for a solution. In time, she realized that there was no other option.

     Aggie trembled, the veins in her withered hands bulging. Her limbs ached with arthritis as she lifted the baby from his cradle and wrapped him in her best shawl. She donned her cloak, picked up her walking stick, and carried the child outside.

****
      

     The wind gusted against her face. Tom began to cry and pressed his face to her breast. Aggie bounced him in her arm as she slowly followed the road out of town, up to where it curved past that all too familiar heath. Her cane sunk slightly into the damp earth as she stepped off the path. Every now and then she pause to catch her breath and wait for her knees to cease their shaking. Tom’s cries grew louder, his little hands clutching at her blouse. The wind caught his cry and carried it through the hills, a high-pitched trill of fear.

     Finally, they reached Aggie’s destination. The circle of stones was dark and empty. Aggie moved forward, only to have her cane catch in a rut. She stumbled, both cane and babe tumbling from her arms as she landed on her knees with a pained grunt. A low moan crawled from her throat as she reached for the baby. The hair tangled in her face as she lifted her gaze to the faerie ring.

     “Take him back! Please!”

     No one answered. No light, aside from the crescent moon appeared on the heath. Aggie dragged Tom closer and hugged him to her chest.

     “I’m dying! I don’t have much time! There’ll be no one to care for him! The town will not care for a changeling child!”

     Only the wind howled in response.

     Aggie shivered. “You must help! If not for your sake, then for his! He’s of your kind! Let him grow in your land if not in mine! Save our child!”

     She remained still for some time, waiting as the chill air froze her, made her joints ache with pain. Yet, no one came. Aggie bowed her head over her crying child, letting her fresh tears mingle with his. There would be no answer, no help from the Fair Folk or anyone else for that matter. She would die and be buried alone, while her Tom remained in his cradle. He would wait for someone to feed and coddle him, to kiss his face and soothe his cries. He would wait as the townsfolk boarded up the windows and doors of her small cottage, too afraid to take any other action. Her baby would cry, as hunger tore at his stomach. But his wails would be ignored, or passed off as the howl of the wind by the nervous townsfolk.

     Aggie could already picture it. He would scream and wail; his face soaked in a permanent sheen of tears. But there would be nothing except the dark solitude of empty rooms forcing itself upon him, forcing itself down his throat as it smothered him, smothered him until his cries ceased and his cold, still, fragile body was buried in the darkness.

     It would suffocate him, suffocate her child.

     Suffocate her child.

     The weeping mother’s movements were slow as she kissed her Tom and laid him on the wild grass. Her hands stroked his little tufts of hair, trailed down his face and delicately, hesitantly, wrapped gnarled fingers around his soft throat. Then she squeezed.

     Aggie kept her eyes closed, too afraid to look. She heard his cries shift to small guttural gurgles, and felt his feet kick and his hands wave frantically against her arms, those tiny fingers clutching onto her sleeve for a brief moment. Aggie felt his body buck and flail futilely against her hands, her breath shaky as she sobbed between clenched teeth. She tightened her grip, wanting it to just end, wanting everything to just stop.

     She almost missed the crack that cut through the air. Her eyes flew open and she gazed down at her still, silent baby, his neck now lying at an unnatural angle. Tearfully, Aggie lifted the baby into her arms, clutching to her breast as she swayed to and fro in the wind and the grass. She didn’t know how long she stayed like that before she noticed something strange. Her baby felt… odd. Not as soft as he should have been.

     Aggie drew him away to get a better look, and her eyes grew wide. Tom’s skin was darkening, growing stiff and rough. The fat of his arms withered and shrank, seemingly retracting into his body. He appeared to shrivel before her eyes, and all the familiar contours she had memorized melted away. The arms became impossibly thin and dropped onto the grass. But they were not arms anymore. They were twigs woven with straw. Aggie looked back at the body to find that it was a lump of wood she held in her arms, woven in a layer of straw, with two pebbles where the eyes used to be.

     Only then did Aggie realize the full meaning behind the woman’s words.

“A baby, of any kind, just as you requested. Nothing more.”

Orange

By: Olivia Mott ’12, Editor-in-Chief

Sand towers fold down, overlapping – a river to the sea. She welcomes the kidnapped crabs, opens fluid arms, which are blond and black and mocha and peach. Their legs skitter down the handmade creek and press warm tummies against cold, blue water.

White

By: Olivia Mott ’12, Editor-in-Chief

The cutout, heavy and serrated, balances in the crack of light – hazy and brown. Which is nearly blended with the darkness. Sitting in the closet, bare feet tucked under bathing suit – wet, wet, dripping on the wooden planks of the floor. Waiting. Which is like fruit – sharp and long. Which is a heartbeat slipping, skipping, gone. At night it happens. But here, it is the same. Which is pretending. Which is saying it didn’t happen. Like Justine imagining William’s small form stretched on the riverbank. Which is corruption. Which is nature.

Cleaning Day

By: Olivia Mott ’12, Editor-in-Chief

The clothing line out front of her house,
where the sun bleeds
into her blouses,

presses thin fingers down,
holding the page open
where I wrote
in her diary

about the day we spent
meeting at the coffee shop
not remembering the difference
between the impressionists and the
romantics, because every time

I think of all those little dots,
I see freckles and fall in
love,

and there are my
collared shirts swinging in the
breeze and bleeding reds and
yellows and thick sparks of sunlight.