Macaulay Seminar 1
Different Representations of a Story
Sorry, the fonts and formatting got messed up so the story probably won’t be clear.
When Push Comes to Shove
September 18, 2001
Today they told us that he was dead. Today, a police officer came to the house and told my mother and I that my father would never come home again. Today we lost hope.
“He was a hero,” the police officer said. “He could’ve saved himself but he chose to save others instead. He saved five lives.” I wish he hadn’t. I wish he had just saved himself. Does that make me a bad person? If I would rather five people have died so that one person could survive, what does that say about me?
September 20, 2001
Today was the day of my father’s funeral. I held my mother as she cried and cried for hours, but I couldn’t do it. I haven’t cried once since they told us that he was dead. Mom hasn’t stopped crying, but I haven’t cried once. Brayden says that its ok, that I’ll cry when I’m ready, it just doesn’t feel real yet. She’s wrong. It feels real. It feels so real that sometimes I think that I’m going to explode from the pain.
I’ve never done this before. Never had a journal, never written about my feelings and shit like a girl. But then again, I haven’t had a brother in Afghanistan before last month either, haven’t had anything that I NEEDED to talk about but couldn’t because the person that I would’ve talked to is halfway across the world. I begged him not to go, begged him not to leave me alone with our never-home parents, in our too-big house. He’s the only one that’s ever understood. My friends think it’s so cool that I can do whatever I want, that I never have supervision, that my brother is a soldier. But in reality, I’m just alone. All of the damn time.
Gabe has been in the army for one year now and every day I get more worried. Things are pretty bad there, but then again, they were always bad. I’ve thrown myself into football and girls as a distraction, but it’s not enough.
Sometimes Gabe sends letters and I wait for those, but they don’t come so often. A few months ago, he sent me a picture of himself and I barely recognized him with his long hair buzzed, wearing in his uniform instead of jeans and a t-shirt. I carry that picture with me everywhere. I guess it helps me feel like he’s still here with me. Like I’ll know him when he gets back the way I did when he left. But the scariest part of it all is that I don’t think I will.
It’s almost Spring. I love it hear in spring. The surface of the bronze is still cool to the touch, but no longer too cold to touch. I love looking down at my father’s name and knowing that even though he’s not here anymore, he’ll be remembered forever.
The 9/11 Memorial has become my favorite place to escape because I know that this is closest to my father that I will ever get. I come here and run my fingers over his name, tracing it over and over again. I look down into the abyss, and every time, I feel the loss of the thousands of lives that died here that day. I come here often, sometimes alone, sometimes with Brayden. She’s been amazing these past years, sticking by me through everything. I couldn’t wish for a better best friend. I wish I could say the same about mom. She—
“Watch it!” I yelled as someone ran into me from behind. I turned around to see a boy with blue eyes and wavy brown hair looking down at me. He was wearing a Lafayette high school letterman jacket.
“I’m really sorry,” he said. “I’ll watch out next time.”
“Hey Luke, we gotta go!” His friends yelled to him.
He gave me apologetic smile and ran to catch up with his friends.
Just as he left, Brayden walked up to me. “You ready to go?” She asked.
“Sure, just let me get my stuff.”
As I was collecting my jacket I noticed a folded piece of paper next to my diary.
“Come on, April. We’re going to be late for dinner.”
“Coming,” I said, as I picked up the paper and stuffed it into my diary.
Later that night, I sat down in my room and opened the paper. A picture fell out. It looked worn, as if it was looked at often. In it was a smiling, blue-eyed young man probably around 19 or 20 years old. He was wearing the US army uniform, a gun strapped across his chest, holding his helmet under his arm. His brown hair was shorn close to his scalp and in the background you could just make out the front of a tank amidst the desert. Curious now, I looked down at the paper.
Hey Little Bro,
Sorry for not writing sooner, it’s crazy over here. You wouldn’t believe some of the things that I see here every day. It’s been pretty tough, but the guys here are great and we’ve been dealing with it all together.
I can’t tell you exactly where I am, but I wanted you to know that I’m as safe as I can be over here. I’ll write again as soon as I can. Don’t miss me too much,
Love ya kid,
Wow, I thought as I looked down at the picture more closely. Those blue eyes looked familiar. Luke! He must have dropped it when he bumped into me. I’ve got to get this back to him.
I lost it! How could I have lost it? I always keep it on me, safe in the pocket of my letterman jacket. The girl! I must have dropped it when I bumped into her. Shit. How am I going to get it back from her, I don’t even know her name.
Ok, breathe, I remind myself. I’ll get through tonight and maybe in the morning maybe everything will look a little bit better.
I’m going to skip school tomorrow and go to Lafayette to give back the picture. Mom won’t care. I’d be surprised if she even noticed. Brayden said she’ll cover for me. I’ve never skipped school before but I know that if it was a picture of my dad, I’d want it back right away.
It looks like he wont be to hard to find. He’s the star quarterback and one of the most popular kids in school according to Brayden, but I’m still nervous. I haven’t been comfortable around anyone besides Brayden in a while and just being around that many new people is sure to be scary.
In and out. That’s how I’m going to do it.
“You can do this. You can do this,” I quietly chant to myself as I stand outside the Lafayette cafeteria. Getting in was easy, now comes the hard part. I pushed open the doors and walked into the noisy din of the cafeteria.
I spotted him right away. He was sitting at the best table with a bunch of other football players and a cheerleader on his lap. I took a deep breath and began to approach the table.
I gently tapped Luke on the shoulder and the table fell silent as all eyes turned to me.
“I don’t know if you remember me, you bumped into me yesterday at the 911 memorial. I think I have something of yours.”
I don’t think I was ever so happy to see anyone in my life. I lifted Carly off of my lap.
“See you later guys,” I said to the table. I turned to the girl. “You mind if we go somewhere else?” She looked nervous.
“I guess not.”
I grabbed her hand and led her out of the cafeteria and up to the roof. I go up there sometimes to think and I knew that we would be alone.
She looked calmer now as she reached into her bag and took out my brothers most recent letter and the picture that I never go anywhere without. I gently took it from her and put it back in the pocket of my letterman jacket. I would be more careful from now on.
“Thank you. You have no idea how grateful I am.”
She nodded and began to leave, but I wasn’t ready to let her yet. Even before I noticed that the picture was gone, I had already been thinking about her. There was just something striking about her. Tall with bright green eyes and long wavy brown hair, face clean of makeup, she was beautiful in a refreshing way and I didn’t want her to leave yet.
“What’s your name?” I asked her almost desperately.
“It’s nice to meet you April, I’m Luke.”
The last few months have been amazing. Luke and I have been hanging out and we’re having a lot of fun together. For the first time in a long time, I feel like I can be myself around someone besides Brayden and I feel like he can finally be himself too. I think that Luke pretends to be something he’s not around his other friends. It feels like I know a completely different person than the one they do.
Today, April and I hung out around the city. We didn’t have anything planned but we didn’t have to. She’s not like the other girls. She sees past all of the bullshit and knows the Luke that no one else ever has. Everybody else thinks that I want to go pro and play football for the rest of my life, but there’s more to me than that. I don’t just want to be the jock. Gabe saw that and now April does too.
“Luke!” my mother called. “Come down here now!”
I glanced at the clock wondering what Mom was doing home. It was only five and she never gets home before eight.
I walked into the sitting room and saw my mother and father sitting together. This was not good. I sat down across from my parents and waited for them to tell me what was going on.
“Its your brother,” Mom said. ”His caravan drove over a roadside bomb and he’s been hurt, so they’re sending him home.”
No way! They’re sending him home! This is what I’ve wanted since he left. Wait—
“How bad is it? Is he okay? Will he make it?”
My mother looked like she was weighing her words very carefully.
“They’re not sure. But if he’s stable, they say he’ll be home by the end of the week and then you can see for yourself.” She stood up. “Now, if that’s all taken care of, I have to go back to work, I have a client waiting.”
I was sitting in my room when the doorbell rang.
“Coming!” I shouted as I ran to get the door.
I looked through the peephole to see a very distraught Luke looking back at me. I yanked the door open.
“What’s wrong?” I asked as he pulled me into a hug and hung on tight.
“Gabe’s hurt,” he sobbed into my shoulder. “They’re sending him home and we don’t know how bad it is yet.”
“Shhh. Don’t worry. It’ll all be okay.”
Gabe just got home and I’m sitting in the hospital waiting for them to let me see him. I’m excited to finally see him again, but I’m scared of what I’ll see. I have no idea what to expect, but I know that if its bad enough to send him home, it’s probably worse than I can handle.
“Hey,” April said as she sat down next to me.
“I’m not sure I can do this.”
“Of course you can. This is your brother, you love him and he’ll still be your brother and you’ll still love him no matter what has happened or what he looks like. I’ll come in with you if you really want me to, but I think that you should do this alone.”
“You’re right. I can do this,” I said more to convince myself than anything else.
April reached down and took my hand. She didn’t let go until they told me that I could go in.
“I’m right here if you need me.”
“Thanks,” I said as I went to see my brother for the first time in a year and a half.
I sat in the waiting room, and waited until Luke came out.
“How is he?” I asked when he finally came out.
“He’s okay.” He answered. “He has some really bad burns covering the right side of his body and one of his legs and some of his ribs are broken, but the doctors say he’ll be fine.”
“That’s good and how are you?”
“I think that I’ll be fine too.” He turned to me. “Thank you,” he said, “For everything.”
For the first time in three years, I can honestly say that everything is going great. Luke and I are together now, as a couple and his brother is almost fully recovered. You can’t even see the burns anymore. He’s really cool and Luke is so happy to have his brother back.
Mom finally went to therapy and I finally have my mother back. Brayden started dating one of Luke’s football friends and she and I are closer than ever. I still miss my dad, but every day it gets easier and easier. I think I kind of have my happily ever after. At least, for now.
Dear Professor Ugoretz,
For my project I wanted to show that a story can be recreated in many different ways, which is something we spoke about in class. In class however, we spoke about a story being recreated through dance, song, or movies. I decided to use a drawing and a collage, two things that we hadn’t spoken about in class to demonstrate this.
First, I had to come up with the story. I chose to write about the effects that photography and the 911 Memorial have on their viewers. Initially, I chose to write about the 911 Memorial because it was the work that made me feel the most. The event of 911 was so tragic affecting so many people and that felling is reflected in the memorial so much so that I felt that I couldn’t not write about it. Photography was also something that stuck with me so I wanted to incorporate the impact and importance of photography as well. In class you asked us to bring in a photo of someone we love and demonstrate how even though the photo is just a piece of paper, we wouldn’t want to rip it up because it is a representation of that person and what they mean to you. That was an idea that intrigued me and so I thought it would be interesting to see if I could recreate that importance in my short story. This, I felt, fell under the general theme of the significance and power that a work of art can have on its viewers.
I then had to make my collage. My youngest sister gave me the idea to make a collage. In the den of my house we have a huge collage of pictures of my extended family and when I asked my family for ideas on which to do my project she said, “Gins, you should do a collage of different paintings like the one mom made.” I thought that it was a good idea so I used it. I found pictures that reminded me of the story that I wrote. The main picture shows the romance of the story while the other pictures represent other aspects of the story. I then drew nearly the same images, except that with the collage, I had to choose the pictures of others, so I may not have found the exact images I wanted and with drawing, I was able to draw any picture within my capabilities (which were very limited). We didn’t discuss collages in class as an art form but I think that it should be considered one because although it is the pictures of other people are used, the different choices and arrangement of the pictures can create completely unique pieces of art.
Thank you for an amazing semester of new experiences.