Tributaries: Spring 2020
Table of Contents
"Untitled" by Riis Winston
"The Tainted" by Aly Eaves (Best Work of Fiction Award)
"The Action of Alchemy: Part One" by Ashley Fann
"Dementia" by Rachel Cherry
"Most People" by Rachel Morones
"A Girl on the Mayflower" by Christian Neal
"Writing in the Middle of Language" by Kasandra Contreras
I am from Struggle...
rooted deep in my genes,
I am from candy yams and collard greens
I am not my trauma, my experiences are not my personality
I am not the sum of my parts, they are me.
I am from Strength
I am a daisy
and "silver lining" is my sun
try to drown me with whitewash and catcalls,
but I will not wilt, no...
I am from Growth
I am spoiled by chance and grateful by choice.
Because I get to live the life I want to lead, and my mom can live vicariously through me,
I live in progress…
and it's generational
my parents are the grass that pushed through the concrete that is poverty
So that I may thrive
I will do better than them and so will mine
I am from the relentless, the
Unbreakable, am I
By Aly Eaves
Winner - Best Work of Fiction Award
She walks along the streets without a soul in sight. The hot summer air reflects on her appearance. Her hair sticks to her forehead as her sweat acts as the glue. Stopping by abandoned home, she stares. It was once the most beautiful house in the neighborhood, but it got left behind much like the girl, herself. The shattered windows invite in the elements, weeds consume the porch, and graffiti engulfs the outer walls. That doesn’t stop her from entering. With a bag around her shoulder, she goes straight to the kitchen. Surely, she would find food there. Starting in the pantry, she scavenges for canned foods. When she comes across a chewy bar, she doesn’t hesitate to tear off the wrapper and devour the tasty goodness. Expiration dates are a thing of the past. It had already been two months since the world went to crap. She continues on with her search. The silence is deathly, but she takes comfort in it. Glancing out the broken window to make sure it’s still daylight, she sees a rock with googly eyes sitting on the windowsill. A corner of her mouth tilts up in remembrance of the rock her younger brother decorated years ago.
Suddenly screams flood her ears as she wipes away a tear and focuses her attention outside, where a boy appears to be running for his life. She recognizes him as the running back from her used-to-be high school football team. She snorts at the thought, finding it a little ironic until his eyes meet hers.
“Shit!” She takes off towards the front door to shut it, lock it, or block it but instead is met with the running back, himself.
“Help!” He pants. “Y-you gotta help…” He bends over trying to catch his breath.
“I ain’t gotta do anything!” His eyes scream panic at the girl’s disinterest.
“PLEASE, I…I can’t—” His tone is pleading as she glances through the cracked door to find the enemies approaching. She groans in frustration.
“Fine!” She sprints through the vacated house exiting through the back door with him hot on her trail. Glancing back to see if they were being followed, she curses under her breath. “Damn him!” She thought. “He’s like a piece of crap that attracts flies.” She crouches down toward the ground shoving large pieces of cardboard aside revealing an opening to a sewer drain filled with rainwater from the night before. The rapid flowing water greets their ears.
“Are you crazy? We could die!” He stumbles and almost plummets to the ground.
“By all means then, stay up here!” She jumps while he grunts. The water absorbs her like a dissolvable pill.
12 hours earlier:
She wakes up to plip-plip-plop. The sound of light summer rain hitting the roof top fill her ears. While rubbing her eyes, she feels the sudden pressure of a canine’s paw on her knee as if trying to warn her of what’s to come. The rain roars louder as the dog drops to the floor whining and rubbing its ears against the carpet. A piercing sound goes off, but it’s so high pitched that only the dog can hear it. The canine’s reaction captures the girl’s attention. Racing to the door, she locks it and slightly but carefully pulls back the blinds to be met with black beasts roaming outside in search of prey. The beasts walk on all fours, almost bear like except they have no fur. Their bodies are all black, for even their eyes are black holes ready to suck in whatever soul dares to come near. Purple daggers take place of their teeth. Meanwhile, everything warm and fuzzy goes cold at the sight of them. It’s going to be a long night. She slowly exhales as a chill climbs up her spine. It wasn’t always like this. Stepping over to a mirror nearby, she tucks her hair behind her ear revealing a red wine stain spot. Was it a birthmark? No, for this spot appeared months ago. Was it natural? No, nothing about this was natural. Did it physically hurt? No, but it was the source of all her pain.
Fifty-one days ago, splotches started appearing on people’s bodies. It did not matter the age, the gender, or the race, for the spots didn’t discriminate. Suddenly the patches became the next epidemic. For the splotches had been there for days, and there were no side effects, just an ugly red mark for everyone to see. Doctors were astounded, for people across the country were showing up with these spots for no particular reason. Then on the seventh day, people began dying. At the drop of a hat, the tainted bodies would simply stop. They’d stop moving; they’d stop thinking. They’d stop breathing; they’d stop living.
She exhales through her mouth fogging up the mirror. It was summer, yet her breath could be seen clear as day. Walking quietly down the hallway to retrieve a blanket, she turned her gaze to the floor to avoid the blood splatter on the walls. Just like her, her mom and younger brother contracted the spot and simply stopped. Meanwhile her dad couldn’t face the reality, so instead he thought he would join them in death. He used a forty-five caliber and shot himself in the head. If only he had waited a little longer. For the mother and brother came back. Truth be told, it was like a switch had been turned on. Everyone who stopped suddenly started again, except they weren’t themselves. The tainted began to move. They began to breathe once again. But they did not live. They did not speak. Their faces held no emotion just a blank stare. They were incapable. It’s as if they were mindless drones, sent to do someone else’s dirty work. Who is the someone? She didn’t know. What does this someone want? From what she could tell, it wanted the untouched. It wasn’t long after the dead came back that they went after the people who did not have a red stained spot on their bodies. The mindless would simply take them away. Where? She didn’t know. She had other questions running through her mind, such as why hadn’t she died? Why hadn’t she stopped like all the others who shared the mark?
The night came to an end like a prisoner’s sentencing. She trudged into the kitchen to grab her bag and place it over her shoulder. She glanced at the empty cabinets and sighed, for it was time to go out and retrieve supplies once again.
The water slows its wrath as she and he roll down a narrow path leading to a larger opening. He coughs up water while crawling towards the side for higher ground. They are still in the sewer, but further away from where they originated.
“I can’t believe we just did that!” She rolls her eyes as she squeezes the water out of her shirt.
“Did you see that? That was like something out of a movie…” He trails on, but she ignores him. Walking over to a ladder, she begins climbing. This route had become a familiar pathway of hers. Sun light glistens through as she turns the knob on the miniature door. The coast is clear for now. Meanwhile, she notices that the sun is pulling towards the west, which means nightfall will be here soon. She cracks her neck trying to de-stress before heading back home.
“You know coach says it’s really bad to crack your knuckles.” She glares at the boy as he struggles to climb out.
“I didn’t crack my knuckles.” He finally reaches ground and takes a stand beside her.
“Well, popping your neck and cracking your knuckles is basically the same thing.” She manages to hold her tongue and leave without another glance. Her poor manners don’t stop him from following her, though.
“You live around here, right? I think I’ve seen you get off the bus before. What’s your name again? Tori? Rori? Lori? Something like that, right? I’m terrible with names. I don’t really know why. I just can’t seem to remember when it comes to certain people. Like Miss Barten. She hated when students mispronounced her name. I accidentally called her Miss Barton, and she gave me detention! Like I’m sorry I confused one letter but cut me some slack…” She rubs her temples as she begins to feel a headache approaching, but thankfully her house is in sight. Meanwhile, he continues on with his meaningless rant.
“…I think stress plays a lot into people’s emotions. And I get that! The way I handle stress, well…. The way I use to handle stress before,” he chuckles. “You know, all this. I ate regularly, got a good night sleep, and exercised. Exercise is—” The door slams in his face before he can enter.
“Um…” He tilts his head in question before knocking. Meanwhile, the girl is on the other side debating if she should leave him out there. If she did, she basically saved him for no reason.
“I’d really like to not be left out…in the open…especially at night when the monsters come out.” He argues as she lightly bangs her head against the door. She opens the door to find him still standing there smiling like a little kid at Christmas.
“Fine. But for my sake, shut up.” She speaks up. Nodding in gratitude, he walks in only to be greeted by the dog.
“Nice place.” She pauses raising a brow. Clearly, he didn’t understand her earlier statement.
“Whatever.” She pets the dog then leads it into the kitchen, where she opens one of the canned foods from her bag for the mutt. The running back follows her while taking in his surroundings. He opens his mouth to speak, but the words fall short. He bows his head remembering her request for quiet. Leaning against the counter, she finds herself amused by the sight. He looks like a kindergartener trying to keep busy in order to forget he has to pee.
“Spit it out already.” His eyes meet hers as a serious tension descends over the room.
“Do you understand any of this?” She shakes her head at his question.
“Are you marked?” This time he shakes his head at her question.
“If I was, I would most likely be one of them by now.” He runs a hand through his hair in frustration. “I can barely tell the difference anymore.”
“The difference is they don’t feel. They don’t have expressions. They’re just puppets with blank stares and nothingness.” That’s the best way she knew how to describe it.
“They’re zombies.” She rolls her eyes at his claim.
“Aren’t zombies supposed to eat people?” He opens his mouth to rebuttal but stops when he realizes he has no argument. Suddenly a thud catches their attention. The thud becomes louder and louder as it repeats like a broken record. His breathing quickens.
“Relax.” She walks to another room with the scaredy-cat behind her. When she opens the door, they come to see an older woman and a much younger boy tied up to wooden chairs. The little boy is casually banging his chair against the wall. His face as blank as a white board much as the woman’s.
“They’re family.” She looks at the frightened running back. “What was I supposed to do?” She walks over to adjust the chair further away from the wall. Tears threaten to spill, but she takes a deep breath while looking up at the ceiling.
“Okay…Let’s go.” She motions with her hands moving towards the door.
“Wait.” All sense of color leaves his face as he stares at the older woman strapped to the chair. “I-I thought you said they don’t show emotion?” The girl turns to her mother only to be met with a sickening grin that churns the daughter’s stomach.
"The Action of Alchemy: Part One"
By Ashley Fann
The Gradation. A gradual process of purification. But this term can also be used to describe life. The life of Emerson is no exception. Named after a literary great, Emerson was destined from the beginning. For what? What purpose would he serve? He did not yet know, but the universe knew. The universe always knows.
Born into this world, we are a blank slate. For those of us with tainted roots, people feign smiles but those that know what our blood holds cannot resist forming judgements.
“I never had the chance to be a blank slate.” Emerson wrote on an already crowded page of his beloved leather notebook. This book encompassed things he would never voice, pains and secrets. Next to these scribbled words laid a sketch of the alchemical symbol for Earth, an inverted triangle with a horizontal line passing through the middle, next to a number, “747”. The notion of Earth was meant to ground someone. Metaphorically speaking, the Earth would hold us, protect us, once we came into this world. Like gravity, the Earth would keep us contained. The Earth correlates to birth, to our personal and peaceful blank slates. But Emerson was not lucky enough to have pure roots. The roots of his being were tainted in utero. The youngest of three children, the baby of the family, he was loved. But a question loomed.
“How does it make you feel?” Emerson’s voice was low, his head hanging as he confided in his elder brothers. He seemed to be processing aloud as he spoke, “How does it make you feel? I mean you met him, you remember him, right?” Even seventeen years after their father walked out, Emerson was still tormented with wonder.
The question evoked a nod from Lucien and left Sidney sitting sullen. “I do,” a sigh left as Lucien took a sip of whiskey before explaining, “I remember that he was an as-”
Before Lucien could get the curse past his lips, Sidney interjected.
“Angry. It makes me angry. He never gave you a chance. He never knew you. He was never lucky enough to be proud of you and you know what? That’s what he gets for turning his back on us. That’s what he gets for abandoning Mum at such a pivotal, vulnerable time,” Sidney always became emotionally raw when the subject of their estranged father arised. Partially he was still hurt, he was still that four year old without a father, the same one who couldn’t understand why he chose to leave. Another part of him was protective of his family, they were all he had, other than his music. Lucien put a hand on Sidney’s shoulder, he understood the emotions on a personal level, because he felt the same.
“If I’m being honest here, a part of me is grateful that he left us. He never had the pleasure of knowing either of you or your success. And without his screw up, I would’ve never stepped up.” Silence cascaded over the small, unconventional family. After a comfortable moment of silent thought, Sidney spoke up once more, “It’ll be a slap in his face,” he was dreaming aloud, not knowing this verbal prophecy would one day be reality.
“When we’re up on that stage, headlining, our names huge like Nirvana or something.”
“I believe in us.” Emerson reassured.
“As do I.” Lucien echoed.
The damage had been done. Traumatic events, like what these young men had experienced in their adolescence, often provoke prolonged reactions due to the effect they can have on an individual. This small family had fought with questioning why what happened to them happened but they were beginning to heal. The blank slates these three young men once had been were damaged by someone who brought them into this world. The man who had always been but who had never been around left scars deep enough they could be felt to the bone. Such deep damage can cause the collapse of a person but other cases can create astounding results of rebirth. It was that night, at that round table fit for three, that ablation began. This new chapter would be brief but it would produce the foundation for the rest of their lives. Following the conversation about their father, the inception of their collective dream sparked.
Like a house during a storm, the walls of their mentality had been used to shield years of insecurities. Smoke from cigarettes and incense swirled around the hunched figures at the wooden table as they began to work. A collective dream; to have a purpose. Together they had been raised by music, those rockstars seeming like a closer father figure than what they had. As they watched, they began to notice something. There was one similarity that connected all of those rockstars and it wasn’t the drugs or the girls. It was a connection. Rather it was a mutual set of connections: audience to the music, music to the creator, creator to the crowd, and so on. It is this creator who left a piece of themselves in the work they produced. Even artists who create simply to make money, leave a part of their personal history in their production. But these young men idolized those rockstars, like Nikki Sixx and Marilyn Manson, who create with purpose. Nikki took the pain of addiction and the decay it caused and created art with the trauma. Manson wanted to make a statement, as he continues to do. Rockstars like that desire. They get off on the loud rock’n’roll, the chaos, the crashing drums and the gritty riffs with a real fucking mesage.
The subsequent months were spent in the company of alcohol, psychedelics, hallucinogens, and other ominous substances as these individuals destructed themselves to find the raw base hidden within. They chipped away at their sanity with each dose but each dose allowed them to step further into the world they were creating together. But the line was thin, the line between recreation and what could be a fatal addiction. The raw base that was revealed from the burning highs would act as the spine for what was to come. For years they had spoke of the what ifs; ‘what if we could make it?’, ‘what if we wrote an album?’, ‘maybe just one and then we go back to the real world?’.
Lucien started working as soon as he was old enough. He was a hard worker and he had earned a steady job throughout the years but he was itching to leave the nine to five life. His heart wasn’t in it. He was sick of the uptight businessmen who only talked about sports and the girl of the week they were cheating on their wife with. He was good at what he did but it didn’t take long for it to drive him away. Lucien picked up his first guitar at age ten when their mother bought each of them one instrument for Christmas. Then at age nineteen, he picked up his first drink. The two mixed in his mind as he started to create. At first it was simply random collections of notes but then it started to become something. It all started to make sense. This was when he went to Sidney.
Sidney wasn’t a writer like Emerson but he was a skilled lyricist. The two found their respective styles of writing at a young age and began to collaborate by finding ways to translate the words on Emerson’s pages into song. As the pages began to fill, they were piecing their future together with each song. They took the emotions that had been eating away at their being for years and set them to tones reminiscent of the bands they grew up on.
They were bringing back the sound that had faded away beneath the radio tracks.
By Rachel Cherry
Chewing, mashing, sludging her food mixed with powdered snuff, another chunk escapes her browned teeth, slowly sliding down that irritated wart she constantly picks at. Slop, slop, her jaw opens and closes without much use of her decayed teeth, like a fish opening and closing its face. Useless. A full trip around her mouth without being swallowed, and the sad little white pill still sits on her tongue, refusing to go down with the rest of that half-chewed mush. A gulp of milk may help it down. Or it might make a greater mess of things, spilling out the side of her lip. She asks to go see her grandmother. Tomorrow, I tell her. Again, she asks when her grandmother arrives. Tomorrow. Always tomorrow. With her finger rubbing her inflamed wart that now boasts an ugly white head under a crusty flake, she blankly looks out the window to the white lawn, the snow still falling. “Is’t rainin’ hon’?” No. Just some snow. “I love that sunshine gotta have that rain though, gotta have it, nothin’ wouldn’t grow without it, when’s my daughter gonna be here ta get me, I gots ta go home, its been nice visitin’ all of yalls but it’s time for me ta get on back ta Dalton ta see my grandmother.” Tomorrow. She comes to get you tomorrow. Tap, tap, tap like a drum her finger pats that wart. Amazing how that blemish attached to her face refuses to come off! She harasses the poor thing like it did her wrong, and yet she finds contentment in its presence, fondly rubbing and stroking it. That wart keeps her company in her demented state. She needs it more than she needs to see her 140 year old grandmother.
By Rachel Morones
Most people wonder what they would do in this type of situation. A mom is to busy on her phone at the crosswalk and her three-year-old son walks into the intersection. He didn’t notice she had stopped. She didn’t care to tell him. Traffic was moving quickly. Most people wonder what they would do. I don’t have to I’ve seen it. There are plenty of Good People around. They gasp in horror, and some close their eyes. There are Responsible Drivers around who try in vain to slow the metal monsters careening towards the boy and bring them to a halt... they can’t. There are a few Smart People around, memorizing the way the mother looks to aid in the inevitable police report and maybe writing a few opinion pieces in the local newspapers about lax parenting. There are a few Cowards as well who turn the other way or walk in the opposite direction down the street, to upset to heal with the trauma the event will bring. There are one or two brave people, who yell and call out to the boy from the safety of the sidewalk. He would look at them, if it weren’t for a red Dodge Ram speeding towards him. There’s only one of me. The Moron. The Stupid Person. The Recently Deceased. “The Hero.” I don’t remember starting to run into the cross walk, but there I was pushing him out of the way. Getting killed.
A GIRL ON THE MAYFLOWER
By Christian Neal
INT. MAYFLOWER BELOW DECK
TRINITY (14) is a young Puritan girl who is immigrating with her family to the New World. She is excited about the new adventure and is hopeful that God has a plan for her family.
DAVID (8) is the oldest of TRINITY’s brothers, who mainly is an annoyance to TRINITY.
THEOPHILUS (3) is a kind and gentle boy, who likes to just have fun on the boat and be around his friends. TRINITY especially likes THEOPHILUS and fights for him when he is picked on.
MR. HOPKINS is TRINITY’s father, who is also a deacon the
Puritan congregation, and he also helps man the ship with the other men.
MRS. HOPKINS, TRINITY’s mother, is pregnant with her fourth child, which adds extra stress to the family and puts a greater burden of responsibility on TRINITY.
TRINITY has the latest smartphone and is posting a daily vlog (video blog) about their travels. She is dressed plainly, and she is sitting in a corner; all that can be seen is the wooden planks of the ship behind her. She takes video from her frontfacing (selfie) camera and the back camera on her phone.
(Titled Camera 1 and Camera 2, respectively.)
SCENE BEGINS, CAMERA 1
Hi guys! So, as you guys know,
I’ve been talking for MONTHS about my family considering and praying about traveling to the New World to be free from persecution and stuff. Well, it’s finally here!
Look at this!
(She adjusts her camera up to show the wooden side of the
ship behind her)
I’m in a freaking boat! Yep! It’s
Day 1 of the voyage. AHHH! It’s finally here and I can’t wait. It’s actually kind of cramped in here; I dunno if you can see--its a little dark in here.
Cuts to Camera 2. In the shadows, crowds of people are sitting and talking rather softly. Kids are playing, and a couple people are stepping over others in order to sit with their family groups.
TRINITY (CONT’D) Yeah, it’s a bit much, to be honest. I was kinda hoping for my own room so I could do my vlog better, but it’s whatever. Oh, there’s Theo right there, playing with Symon and the other boys. (beat)
Cuts to Camera 1. TRINITY is looking up towards the people in the boat, and she fingers loose strands of hair behind her ear.
TRINITY (CONT’D) Like I said, it’s whatever. We were SUPPOSED to get that other boat, but Daddy said it had problems or something, so we all had to squish on this one. I’ve never seen my father so happy before, though. I mean, really, he is ecstatic. Not like the hyped-up kind of thing he does when he preaches or talks about the Bible. I mean he’s actually really happy. He says we’ll be able to actually pray and worship without fearing for our lives. I saw him, just a little bit ago, on his knees with tears in his eyes, smiling to heaven, with his hands folded up...
I dunno... just the way everything lined up, with us being able to get a boat and have so many in our group get to come... I just feel like it really is an answer to prayer, like God is actually listening.
(smiles to herself, looking up)
It’s just...It’s... really so cool. I just can’t wait. I love the ocean. I can’t wait to show you guys more of the sea and everything. It’s nighttime now, otherwise I’d show you right now.
Probably tomorrow then.
EXT. MAYFLOWER TOP DECK
Sun is shining midday. TRINITY is on deck looking over the side of the boat in wonder and awe. Several workers are calmly moving around behind her, making sure the boat is staying on course. Several families are mingling around, and kids can be seen playing.
Hey guys! It’s me again, on the
Mayflower. And guess what?
(excitedly) Look, look, look...
Flips to Camera 2, showing the vast ocean in a sunlit day.
TRINITY pans to the other side of the boat as well, past the people to show only vast amounts of ocean. No coast can be seen from any side of the boat.
TRINITY (CONT’D) Isn’t that amazing?? Oh my word I love it up here. I mean, wow.
Flips to Camera 1, wind blowing in TRINITY’s hair and she shakes her head to allow her hair to flow behind her. She looks out at the water as she talks.
TRINITY (CONT’D) I just think it’s amazing, God’s creation. Daddy talks all the time about all creation declaring God’s glory, and, I mean, that’s pretty fantastic, if you ask me. I just love it.
The sky is just brilliant blue, with all the clouds up there. (looks back at camera) Oh, and I just WISH I could show you the stars! Oh the stars at night are just wonderful out here on the ocean... I’ve just never seen so many. There’s a HUGE band of them in the middle of the sky, like a river of light... Abby and I were looking at them last night, and she saw a brilliant stallion in the sky, like he’s riding free in the plains. I couldn’t see no horse myself; it just looks like tons and tons of candles lit up far off to me. But, I mean... WOW! Just wow.
Well, I gotta check up on Theo and David to make sure they’re staying out of trouble.
INT. MAYFLOWER BELOW DECK
TRINITY looks flushed, cheeks red, eyes puffy, and hair a little tattered. Her voice sounds a bit deeper. It is nighttime, and all the families are resting now in their quarters. The children are already in bed.
Hey guys. (Coughs once) How’s it going? Sorry it’s been awhile since I made a video. (Raspy) As you can probably tell from my voice, I’ve been sick. That’s why
I haven’t posted in a bit...
The last line she says is more hoarse, and she starts coughing hard, projecting them into her sleeve.
Ugh. I actually feel quite a bit better today than yesterday, if you can believe it. Momma let me have her extra piece of bread. She wasn’t really hungry for it anyway. Daddy keeps trying to get her to eat up well, with the baby coming and all. (break)
Oh my gosh, my parents are total dorks, by the way. So they’re trying to decide what to name the baby, and... oh my word you’ll never believe it. If it’s a girl, they’re naming her Mayflower, which, I mean, I guess is cool. I dunno. But if it’s a boy, they’re gonna name him...wait for it... (pauses for effect) ...Oceanus. Yes. You heard me right. Oceanus Hopkins. Isn’t that the dumbest thing you’ve ever heard?
I just hope it’s a girl.
TRINITY (CONT’D) I mean, I’ve only got brothers anyway, but I don’t want to be calling a cute little baby boy “Oshi” like little Theo keeps saying. It’s cute though. (Pause)
He doesn’t even know its a boy yet. But he really wants another brother. Pffh. He’s already got David; he’ll be fine. But me? I have no sisters. None! I’ve got
Abby, but she’s all the way on the other side of the ship, so I only get to see her when we eat or mop the deck together. It’s--(coughs hard)
---ehhh. It’s, uh, hard to live on a ship, as I’m finding out. There’s so much work that’s gotta be done. I thought we could just kinda have a vacation and get to do whatever we wanted, but yeah, not happening. And both the boys caught whatever’s going around, so having to take care of them while I’m sick, ugh it’s not been good.
Oh my word. (Rolls eyes) Speaking of the boys, (begins to speak softer) there’s this man on board who is just... rrgh! I just want to push him off the ship sometimes. My little brothers were sick and coughing, and they can’t help it, I mean, c’mon, they’re sick. And that man just kept cursing and telling Momma to shut up my brothers, and that he was gonna throw them overboard if they don’t stop coughing so much. (growing exasperated) He’s been mean to everyone who’s gotten sick. I just... Isn’t that just wretched? What kind of man would curse a little boy? I just...
She clenches her teeth and huffs big, cheeks flushed more than they already have been. She suddenly becomes a bit wide-eyed as
THEOPHILUS walks up and tries talking to her. She is worried that her brother might have seen her angry. Her face then shows concern for her brother.
Theo, what’s wrong?
(inaudible) I threw up.
I threw up. (Looks down sad)
Aww... you did? Aw buddy...
She sets phone down, camera facing toward TRINITY and
THEOPHILUS. THEOPHILUS has his head down, and he nods at
TRINITY (CONT’D) I’m sorry. Eww, yah, you got it all down your shirt, man. Okay, well, let’s get you cleaned up. I bet Momma has a rag that we can use.
TRINITY and THEOPHILUS walk away from camera into the crowd to talk to MOMMA. The phone sits facing the families as they chat, take care of their sick family members, and move about. DAVID sneaks into the scene, looking back to watch if TRINITY had noticed him, and he snatches the phone. He starts making faces into the camera and making silly noises. Then he starts pretending like he is his sister.
(pretends to flip hair behind his ear like TRINITY) Hi guys. You guys are so fabulous and I’m so amazing. Look at me. (He poses for the camera) I’m super interesting and have everything to say about my life and oh my gosh the Mayflower this and the Mayflower that.
(Stops acting his sister) It’s so BORING here! There’s nothing to do but sit around and do nothing. What does she have to talk about all day, anyway?
(from a distance)
David takes the phone and hides it under a pile of clothes.
David, what are you doing with my phone??
What are you talking about?
What did you do with it?
With what? What are you---
David! My phone! Where did you put it?
I didn’t do anything with your phone.
Yes you did! I saw you just now making faces at it.
No I wasn’t.
Yes you were, I just saw you.
Where’d you put it?
Honest, I wasn’t!
Off camera, DAVID nonchalantly looks down at the pile of clothes where the phone is peeking out. TRINITY pushes DAVID to the side and goes for the phone.
Ow!! Momma, Trinity pushed me!
(from a distance)
You two need to stop yelling.
You’re gonna wake up the other kids.
TRINITY grabs phone abruptly and stops recording.
INT. MAYFLOWER BELOW DECK
It’s a little darker than usual in the lower deck of the ship. Rain and thunder can be heard overhead. She’s looking a little more disheveled now, and quite a bit more scared, tired, weary, and sickly. Her same clothes are a little more ragged and her hair a bit more unkempt than before. She moves back and forth more, as the boat is tossing from the storm.
Oh my gosh... Oh my gosh... oh my gosh... (stutters) That... thatthat man, the man who was so mean to Theo... He... he... (blinks hard)
I saw his body last night lying there, unmoving. Unresponsive. He got so sick. But he was so strong; he was always so tough.
(pauses, fear in her eyes) They just threw him overboard late last night. I know they did. I didn’t see it, though. But I heard a big splash. I just couldn’t sleep, not after seeing his face, his body lying there. Everyone’s been whispering about it. Momma says we shouldn’t speak of such things. But ohhh...
(tears well up in her eyes)
I dunno. Oh, it’s my fault... Oh
God! I’m sorry! I’m so sorry. You know I cursed that man in my heart. I just hated him; I hated the way he was mean to David, and to Theo, and... (sobs)
I just don’t wanna die. I don’t wanna die, God. Please forgive me. Oh God, I beg you, please forgive me for my sin.
I’m sorry for being so cruel to that man, in my heart, no matter how mean he was. You still loved him. I know I didn’t love him, but
TRINITY’s eyes come wide as the boat tips. An enormous CRACK sounds, and TRINITY screams.
INT. STAIRWELL TO DECK
Camera 2 is shaky as TRINITY as the boat rocks back and forth.
Breathing hard, TRINITY creeps up the steps toward the top deck. Bustling and shouting can be heard overhead; a group of the men scramble above to keep the vessel afloat. Camera 2 peers through crack in the door, watching the frenzy, and the camera pans up to show the main mast cracked and twisted dangerously. Rain is falling sideways, and captains are yelling all kinds of orders to the men above. Someone approaches,
TRINITY gasps, and the scene suddenly goes black.
CUT TO BLACK.
INT. MAYFLOWER BELOW DECK
It is a little less dark in the boat now, and TRINITY is still sickly, but in a better mood this morning. The warm glow gives more color to her cheeks, though it is noticeable she has lost some weight. She has found a decently quiet spot, where there is not much action going on around her.
Hey guys, it’s me again. Sorry for that big scare a bit ago. We’re okay, praise God. So a major beam in the boat is badly damaged. I heard Daddy and some of the other men talking about what they’re going to do. Some people kept insisting that we should turn around and head back home. But how could we do that? After all we’ve been through? My dad stood up to them. He and some of the others, they reminded those guys of all the sacrifices we’ve made so far. “And what do we have to go back to?” My dad said. And someone else said, “Didn’t God say we would face trouble in order to follow Christ?” Or something like that.
And, the thing is, I mean, I just think about how God brought us through this far already. Surely He has a plan in all this. “It’s
God’s will we go” Daddy said, and
I think so too. God led us this far; surely He won’t drop us off now, will He? (pause)
I dunno. We’ve been traveling for so long, surely we’ll be there soon. I keep looking out at the open ocean and thinking...maybe today will be the day. Today will be the day we find land. (pause)
And when we get there, I’m gonna find a little spot under a tree where I can call my own.
(pauses, deep in thought)
It’ll be a big one, one with a HUGE trunk, and I’m gonna find that perfect spot underneath where I can lean back into one of the crevices. I’d get all the bugs and twigs out of the way, of course, and then be able to sit there in the quiet. It’ll be my new spot to do this vlog (motions hand toward camera 1), just like that spot I had back home, before we moved. That little place I used to sit close by to the church we used to go to. Anyway, and I’ll sit there, underneath that big tree in the New World, and pray to God, and be safe...
And to think, there my Momma and me and my little brothers won’t have to fear for our lives. And Daddy can help lead the church with the other men, without having to go to prison or get hurt for following Jesus. (pause)
Oh, I just can’t wait to be on
SOLID ground again!
Not be rocking and rocking and rocking all the time, feel the grass underneath my toes...
(sighs and smiles)
MR. HOPKINS approaches and sits down next to TRINITY on the ground. He teases TRINITY and, in a sweet way, tries to embarrass her on camera. TRINITY acts like it bothers her, but deep down, she actually likes it.
MR. HOPKINS Hey, angel.
Daddy! Don’t say that, I’m on camera.
MR. HOPKINS I heard you talking about me, angel.
MR. HOPKINS Were you eavesdropping on our conversation earlier?
What? What conversation? (pauses)
I’ve been watching the boys, like, all day, Daddy.
No really! There’s no way I had any time at all to listen some dumb conversation about whether or not we should actually go to the
TRINITY realizes the blunder she made. MR. HOPKINS smiles wide in her direction.
TRINITY (CONT’D) I might have heard... a little bit of it.
Well, I’m proud of you.
TRINITY starts to apologize for listening in, but then realizes what her father said.
I’m sorry I... what?
Your faith to dream, to see what will be, not what is now.
TRINITY takes a moment and thinks about what her father said.
TRINITY pauses for a moment, then leans her head on her dad’s shoulder.
I just wanna go home, Daddy.
MR. HOPKINS I know, angel, I know. We’re getting there. We’ll be there before you know it.
MR. HOPKINS kisses TRINITY on the top of her head.
TRINITY giggles and the scene suddenly goes black.
CUT TO BLACK.
INT. MAYFLOWER BELOW DECK
With the black screen, we hear the sound of TRINITY vomiting. Scene cuts to panning through the crowd.
FADE IN TO CAMERA 2.
Vomiting can be heard far away, and the passengers are groaning from sickness and another storm at sea. The boat creaks, and with every move, the families are afraid for their lives, that the boat will collapse at any moment. TRINITY walks slowly through the crowd, people looking up with sadness, fear, or some with disgust.
She approaches her corner, an empty spot with a crumpled blanket where she had been sitting just moments before.
CUTS TO CAMERA 1.
We see TRINITY’s dead expression, and she is more sickly and weak than ever before. She has lost all hope.
We’re never gonna get there. Why did we ever come on the stupid boat in the first place? I’m tired of this dry, crusty bread, what little we are allowed to have each day. Oh I just wanna go home. Why did we ever leave? (pause)
(slowly) I miss Molly, and Elizabeth, and Aunt Hilda.
(smiles) I even miss stinkin’
(pause, frustrated sigh) Momma’s just been so ill. She hardly walks around anymore. I’ve been having to care for the boys all by myself, with Daddy working up on the ship. (pause)
I’m just afraid. What if the boat breaks entirely? What if we’re stuck out here forever? Oh I hate this place!
(tears stream down her face) I’m sick of having to live on this boat, wondering if we’ll live through the night! I can hardly sleep, with the children crying and hungry every night.
(looks up to heaven) Oh why, God? Why? Why did you bring us all this way just to abandon us? Don’t you care? Don’t you see us? Why aren’t you listening? We’ve prayed for so long to find land, and nothing. NOTHING, God! Ugh, it’s hopeless.
It’s just hopeless.
Suddenly, TRINITY looks up as MR. HOPKINS approaches.
Trinity, I need you. Now.
TRINITY begins to stand up, still with Camera 1 facing her. She looks concerned and she follows MR. HOPKINS immediately.
Daddy, what is it?
TRINITY and MR. HOPKINS walk quickly, and groans begin to be heard from MRS. HOPKINS from labor pains. She is starting to have her baby, and other women are around her, consoling her.
TRINITY’s phone gets dropped to the floor. Camera 1 faces up, showing the wood paneling encasing the passengers in. Other women shuffle by, and several men and boys walk past the other direction away from the scene. Women console MRS. HOPKINS, as she continues to scream.
Camera 1. TRINITY is sweaty and disheveled, her face glistening. But she is smiling, smiling, smiling!
It’s a boy! Oh, it’s a boy! I can’t believe it. We thought for sure Momma wasn’t gonna be due for a while yet. But he is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. His little hands, his cheeks... (happy tears)
Even if he has a dumb name like
(laughs and sighs; pause)
Oceanus. I can’t believe it.
Momma’s okay. Everything’s gonna be okay. And Oceanus won’t have to be afraid for his life. We’ll make it, we’ll make it after all. For
Oshi’s sake, we’ll make it.
INT. MAYFLOWER BELOW DECK
Camera 2. The people are all rushing below deck trying to make it up to the top deck area. There’s yelling, but it’s not clear what is happening. TRINITY looks back and forth with the camera, watching in front of her all the people moving about. Oceanus is crying, and MRS. HOPKINS consoles the baby in her arms.
What’s going on, Momma?
I don’t know, honey, I don’t know.
Come ‘ere, Theo.
TRINITY grunts as she lifts up THEOPHILUS in her arms and carries him up the steps.
LAND HO!! LAND HO!!
The crowd all speaks in awe about this as they are rushing up to see for themselves. TRINITY pushes her way through crowds until finally she is standing at the edge of the ship, and lo and behold, the shore can barely be seen. Crowds of people are cheering and celebrating, and many have tears in their eyes. The young men shout joyfully and are jumping up in the air, hugging each other. Families are holding each other and shedding tears. The captain and other crew members are smiling confidently. Many are praising God and giving Him thanks for the miracle. THEOPHILUS spots his dad in the crowd and calls to him.
Theo! My boy!
Tears are in MR. HOPKINS eyes. Camera 2 shows MR. HOPKINS reaching to THEOPHILUS and holding him in his arms. TRINITY is crying now as she points the camera in their direction.
Daddy, did we make it? Did we make it to the new world? [Mispronounces “world” as
Yes, Theo. Yes. We made it.
We made it.
Where the bad guys can’t get us no more?
(laughs with tears) Yes, son, they won’t be able to get us again. We’re free to worship God as He desires. (tears well up)
Oh, thank you God. Thank you God.
EXT. OFF THE SIDE OF THE BOAT
Camera 1. TRINITY finally gets off the boat and rushes to the ocean. We watch in her eyes the anticipation of stepping foot on the earth for the first time in two months. She is trembling and shaking with excitement and weeping.
Thank you, God! Oh thank you!
TRINITY sobs heavily as she lands on her hands and knees in the sand, still trembling. She can hardly keep her balance on steady land.
TRINITY (CONT’D) Oh, it’s beautiful, God. It’s so
Flips to Camera 2. She continues to sob as she pans the camera around the shore and shows the land as far as the eye can see. She pans the camera toward the ocean and pans the camera up to see the entire Mayflower majestically towering above, anchored near the shoreline. After a good bit, and she is able to compose herself, she flips back to Camera 1, and we see
TRINITY’s face streaked with tears.
We made it. (Laughs through tears)
Oh, we made it. God still has a plan for us yet. I can’t wait to see what He has for us next!
TRINITY laughs again. She flips back the camera to the ship standing tall. The scene then CUTS TO BLACK.
"Writing in the Middle of Languages"
By Kasandra Contreras
Being a writer and reader in the middle of different languages showed me the beauty of culture, language, and poetry. Spanish is my first language, and since I was a child, everything I learned lens of Spanish. I never thought the way I communicated was going to change from Spanish to English. But when I decided to improve my education and move to a country with a higher level of education, I realized that my ideas of writing and thinking were about to change. At first, it was one of the hardest decisions I ever made, and it took some time to figure out what exactly I was going to do. When I realized the difference in cultures, I felt far away from home. The difference in the English language taught me that I had to start from the bottom, learning all things that I have already learned before, but with different perspective and language.
At the age of fifteen, when I finally move from Mexico to the US, I knew that everything was about to change, and it did. Everything was different, except my poetry. Writing poetry has always been a big part of me, a skill I have possessed since a young age. It has made my life easier, just knowing that a word expresses much of myself. When I first got here, I could not express how I felt, but I always wrote about those feelings or whatever came to mind. Poetry also helped me make a connection with my high school teachers—they liked what I wrote. My teachers helped me developed my writing skills, and that help not only made my poetry deeper but also affected the rest of my high school career. I entered several contests, and I made friends with similar experiences. These friends told me that I should not give up on something that I am good at. No matter the difference of language I use, I still have the same feelings.
The difference of cultures put my self into new experiences. I had to learn the important things that makes the American culture unique. I learned about the Fourth of July and how important it was for our community. Meeting with friends and family to watch the fireworks together, having a good time, is really interesting, but the meaning of it is much more. Our Thanksgiving dinner, something that I never seen before, impacted me. I love Thanksgiving. I love seeing my family around the table, thankful for being together, and many more events that make this culture interesting.
When arriving to this country, I knew I was going to face new challenges. One of those challenges was learn a new language. It was not easy and is still not easy, but despite the difficulty, I am achieving and moving forward. I had to start from the bottom. I had to learned once again how to read and write. Learning took time, but I met wonderful people who mean a lot to me. These people supported me in my path and helped me with the tragedies on it. They learned by my side; they were in the same place that I was; they started from the bottom as I did. Handling this language better, makes me feel proud. It makes me feel that I can go for bigger challenges. I am bilingual now, and that makes me special. Being bilingual added to my life and to my literacy.
Moving between countries has been a great experience. I learned a lot, and I am grateful for the inspiration I got from the people who helped me. They reflect who and what I am today. I am an inspirational bilingual writer. Such powerful poetry, such an interesting culture, such beautiful language, makes me one more student with an open mind and knowledge of literature based on my writing and life. Coming blindfolded to an unknown place did not stop me from being who I am; it helped me to realize that we can still work on ourselves to show the world what we are capable of doing. Neither the distance, nor a wall, nor the language will stop me from sharing the meaning of my words.