Griffin wrote the first 2 of these 3 pieces last week Teen Writers’ Bootcamp here at the Loft. She wrote the 3rd for school. When she’s not reading and writing, she enjoys swimming and acting, too.
A Personal Peace
The boy sitting alone in the pews looked distinctly out of place. His blue Mohawk and many piercings contrasted sharply with the drab, stately attire of the priest frowning down upon him. He was here to be cleansed, that he knew. His wild, free lifestyle had led his straight-backed parents to imprison him here. It would do no good. The proud antiquity of the vast church awakened no inner feelings of awe. The church was unsettling in it sleepiness, so unlike the dance floor. The pulse of music and the thud of feet were his religion, far more real than these faded golden promises of absolution. His heaven was now. No one understood.
The Tree House
The tree was lonely. The Mojave Desert was vast and people were scarce. The tree lived on people. On their stories. On the tiny bare feet of their children when they climbed him. On the wooden houses that they made in his branches. On the soft sounds of the teenagers who first found love among his roots. On the rhythm of those who grew up and repeated the cycle. But this tree was lonely. There were no people.
He thought and he thought and one day he hatched a plan. He then began to grow, but not into branches with leaves. He grew into walls with windows. He grew into a roof. And then he waited, waited for the people to come. But it was not a family who came, it was a photographer. And then more photographers and then newspapers. Apparently what the tree had done was extraordinary, but all he wanted was a family. Eventually the papers grew bored with the tree house and one by one they moved away until no one was left.
Years passed and the tree grew sadder and sadder. Then one day he heard a noise, a laughing noise. Children! They had come at last, a boy and a girl hand found the strange tree house, and unlike the adults, they did not want to photograph it. They wanted to play. And even though he knew that someday the children would grow old and move far away, the tree was happy.
Of Death and Dreams
His eyes reflected the pain that seeing me like this caused him. I was standing there, in the middle of the room, tears pouring down my face. I couldn’t look at him. I couldn’t face the truth. I turned away. My mother led me out of the hospital room, through the sterile hallways, and into the lobby. We sat down on small blue chairs while I attempted to compose myself. I looked at the mute TV, watching coiffed reporters laugh and talk as if the world weren’t crumbling away. I averted my eyes from their sickening smiles and focused instead on the steady stream of people walking past. I wondered what brought them all here. Were their loved ones approaching death as surely as my grandfather? Was this the worst day of their lives? I sincerely hoped not.
Very soon it was time to return home. As I kissed my grandfather good-bye, I looked deep into his eyes. He had told me not to be sad after three days, that he was only a person after all. But that wasn’t true. He was so much more. He was afternoons at the racetrack and mornings with too many snow clothes. He was nights watching dog shows and days of arguing. He was the stubborn rock that held the world together. How could I let that fall away without a tear?
Once at home, I walked quietly into my room. Perched on my shelf was a journal. I had never opened it. The plain black writing on the tan cover had always seemed too simple and yet too special to be written in. I took it off the shelf. Sprawling onto my parents’ bed, I began to write. I wasn’t writing about anything in particular. The topics ranged from cats to grammar. For about fifteen minutes, I poured my heart onto lined paper. When I had finished, I was surprised to find that there was a weight lifted from my shoulders. I fetched my CD player from my bedroom and inserted Mariel of Redwall by Brian Jacques. I let myself be swept away on a tide of adventure, of strength, of heroes and of love. I was free.
In the morning, I went to school as usual. We were to say our final good-byes that night. It felt strange to be at school. Perhaps the oddest thing was that it was not hard to act normally. Maybe it was because he had never been to my school that his memories could not haunt me there. Sometime around nine o’clock, the teacher’s phone rang. She told me that my father was in the office. My friends wished my grandfather well as I walked out of the room. I suppose that it was kind of them, but I knew. I had known from the second the phone rang that he had already died. I could tell that his presence had left this world. I fetched my things automatically, and my feet led me down the familiar halls and over to my father. As we walked out into the blinding sun, I knew. I knew that the first thing my dad would say would be the time that he had died. I waited.
“It was at about 8:30. Mom hadn’t gotten there yet,” It was so like my grandfather to slip off before we could say good-bye. He had known that it would be easier this way.
Everything went smoothly at the hospital. The nurses came and went. I did not cry. I had accepted the truth the day before. When the complex proceedings had ended, we headed out into an ironically glorious May morning.
That night I had the most realistic dream of my life. I was watching my grandfather. He was sitting in his favorite chair, not looking at me; his eyes were fixed on where the TV would have been. A small smile curved his lips, and an undeniable aura of peace emanated from him. It was immediately clear that he was happy, and with that I realized that I was strong enough to live and to love again.