By Alexis Orta
Little girl, little bird.
Falling from her cloud.
Stranded on their ground.
Little girl, little bird.
Holds a heart of gold.
Delicate feathers being sold.
Little girl, little bird.
Stuck in a world of men.
Drowning in all their sin.
Little girl, little bird.
Stopped waiting for her dawn.
She knew they'd never come.
Note: This piece is meant to signify the devastating destruction of the lives that make up today's human-trafficking industry.
I’d like it to be known that this is based on a real person that I know. She is a very kind
person who does not get the recognition she deserves. I know she’d hate her name to
known but I hope that you stumble upon this. She’s too humble and kind for that. But I
do hope it brings a smile to your face.
The definition of a ghostwriter is as such: a person whose job it is to write
material for someone else who is the named author. Ghostwriters are
unacknowledged, overlooked, forgotten, neglected. This girl was a ghostwriter. She
didn’t use pen and paper as her medium though. No. This girl used kindness. This
girl wrote the tale of kindness on others’ hearts.
Reserved. Quiet. Intelligent. Three key words could describe the ghostwriter.
Everyone knows her as this. A few only see this. But it shouldn’t be like that.
Everyone should know that this young woman is kind. A sweet girl. She wanders the
hall lonely but with a smile on her face. She stays in the back supporting others and
only taking spotlight when others are too frightened.
I remember when I first met her. We were sophomores and I had forgotten
money for lunch. I had sat down and a few minutes later this girl comes up to me
with a lunch tray and puts it in front of me.
“I didn’t want you to go hungry.” She told me quietly before walking away. I
remember the boys telling me she had a crush on me and I remember calling her an
ugly freak as she walked away. I had seen her before. I knew her name. I knew she
was brilliant. But I had never spoken to her and I hadn’t even told her thank you. She
had turned around when I had muttered my cruel words and she stared at me with a
smile she sat down. She had heard me. Or so I thought. I don’t know. I’ve never
asked. I’ll never know.
She drifted in the halls and jumped from desk to desk helping her classmates,
taking the blame for actions so the punishment would be less severe. After all, who
would scold this sweet girl? I tried to ignore her but I always found for her.
A book fell, this maiden swept in. A pencil was needed; a box was given.
Someone was pushed to the side; a warm hand steadied them. A boy shivered in
anger, fear, sadness, a kind girl came with concerned eyes. A teenager stuttered; she
echoed strongly. Money was short, she came with some to spare. A young man
forgot an assignment; she arrived with an extra copy and answers. An old man
stumbled; she walked him across the street. An old woman sat alone in a coffee
shop; she bought her a coffee and smiled. A dog cowered in a bush; she gave in a
bowl of food.
Whenever she went she graced the area in kindness and hospitality. She
smiled, she waved, she spoke. She was a ghostwriter. A piece of paper with kind
words was left on the ground. A treat for someone appeared on a table. A completed
assignment materialized. The ghostwriter vanished.
The maiden came and went in few steps. She was present one second, gone
the next. If you were not the recipient of her gift, someone near you was. If they
were not, they hadn’t found it yet.
But where are the ghostwriter’s gifts? She sits alone in the coffee shop. Her
books fall. She’s left without lunch. Why? Her money bought yours.
A ghostwriter goes without recognition. A ghostwriter is never the recipient.
When asked their purpose, they make a lie. They deny. It breaks your heart.
Maiden, ghostwriter, she speaks so strongly. Her accent is beautiful. But she
stutters. When you do kindness to her, she is confused. She is scared. You do her
kindness and she must repay you with a favor, with money. Kindness does not find
its way to her. Ghostwriter is noticed for a split second and she is no longer her
strong, motherly self.
No. Find her, speak to her, watch her fade. She’ll be there, then she’ll be gone.
I will never know her story. Is it heartbreaking? Is it troubling? Is it beautiful?
I will never know. You will never know. No one will ever know. But perhaps that is
the beautiful thing. Ghostwriter’s gifts are sudden and perfect. Her presence is
sudden and perfect. Her smile is always and perfect. Would her gifts be as beautiful
as they are if she was an open book? Would we want her to be an open book? Is
there ugly in her beautiful ways?
She is unacknowledged, overlooked, forgotten, neglected. She fades away
quickly. It is sad. It is beautiful. Watch the maiden walk. Watch the maiden smile. For
the maiden will disappear into the air like a ghost.
By Writer of the Shadows
I heard a few whispers that Abraham Lincoln himself was going to meet the generals in his new army in a few days. Nobody knew where because they never pay attention. Stereotypical southern belles. God, I hate them. Social gatherings are everything to them. And to my mother who is forcing me to attend this horrid event. She thinks that I will start to like these events and then maybe be interested in marriage. I’m 16 and unmarried. Oh, how awful!
They all ignore me. I sit in a corner contemplating the ways to kill myself. Which, would be much more enjoyable than this. I honestly want to live a long life but anything would be better than this.
And maybe I won’t have to kill myself. A messenger walks in with a paper. He is young and I’m assuming that they find him handsome because the moment that he walked in they giggled. I mean really, why did they giggle? I didn’t think anything was funny. He smiles at them and walks to me. What the hell is he doing?
“You are Sarah Wescott I presume?”
“I have a message for you from Anne Marie Wescott.” He hands the letter to me and walks out. What does my mother want? The letter reads that she is going to make me a nurse if this secession becomes an act of war. Why do I have to help a cause that I don’t support? I use this opportunity to say that my mother is sick and I have to leave immediately to take care of her. I leave as politely as I can. I have to push my skirt through the gates at the front. I hate these things they are so impractical. I stomp back to my house and say that the gathering or whatever ended early. I pick up the newspaper and read that the Union has put up a new Fort. I put two and two together and arrive at four. Abraham Lincoln is most likely meeting with his generals at the new fort. I believe the ladies said that he was meeting someone in a few days, which translates to three days. The new fort is in Pennsylvania, which is only a two days ride from here in Virginia. I go out to the side of the house and come in a moment later. I grab a random paper off of the table and walk over to my mother.
“Mother, I just received a letter from one of my friends from elementary school, asking if I would like to come to her remote cabin for a week. I think that I would like to go.”
“Darling is this true?” I waved around the paper.
“It is. Can I go?”
“Most certainly. Oh this is exciting!”
“I would have to leave today though.”
“I will have you packed within the hour.”
“Thank you mother” but she is already gone. I grab some money from the safe and wait for my stuff to be packed.
I grab my bag and say my goodbyes. I walk out to the stables and lead my horse out of her stall. I grab my emergency pack, which contains riding skirts, a pistol that I stole from my dad’s collection years ago, and spare food. I jump on my horse and start riding as lady-like as I can. When I leave the town I change into my riding skirts and continue.
I stop at a few inns on my way but I finally reach the fort on the day of the meeting. I climb the fence and then walk to the actual building. I avoid the guards and knock on the front door. After a few moments I open the door myself and hide my gun in the folds of my skirt.
The moment I walk in five pistols are pointed at me.
“Relax. If I were here to kill you I would have done it already. Your security is not very good.” I pulled my own pistol out and held it in a position that suggested I was safe. “Believe me. You all would have been dead in less than a minute.” I notice that Abraham Lincoln is the only one not pointing a gun at me. I smile at him.
“What do you want?” I look towards the general who spoke and read his nametag. General Alexander Asboth. An older fellow with a beard who I don’t think could last in a war. I look towards Abraham Lincoln.
“I come from Winchester Virginia and I have a proposition.” At the mention of “Virginia” the generals cock their pistols. “Oh put your guns down before you shoot yourselves.” One of the younger generals tried to hide a laugh and they all slowly lowered their weapons.
“What is your proposition?”
“Well, when this war starts and it will, I will be forced to work as a nurse.” Someone starts to interrupt and I turn off the safety on my pistol. “I think helping a cause that I don’t believe in is pointless and I would rather not do it.” The younger general cuts in.
“You came all this way to tell us that you don’t want to work as a nurse?”
“No. I came here to tell you that the Confederacy does not have any spies in the union and vice versa. I think that we can change that.” Abraham Lincoln again.
“That’s a brilliant idea. I will send some of my men to the South and have them enlist in the army.”
“That would never work. The Confederate government would see right through it.”
“So what exactly are you proposing?”
“I would be the spy.” The generals laughed. “Think about it. All men think of women as ignorant.” The generals stopped laughing. “And in the South they are but I can guarantee you that I am not a normal girl. Besides, I’m from the South and everyone knows who I am. They wouldn’t suspect a thing.”
“How do we know that you are not spying for the Confederacy?”
“Oh please. They are monsters that own slaves. And all the women do is go to social gatherings and do everything to please the men in their lives and they never do anything independent! And they spend their whole lives looking for marriage so they can have a man to save them. Well I am sick and tired of being forced to do things that I hate and everything that I just mentioned is on that list. You can do a background check and all you will find is a 16 year old girl who is, heavens forbid, not married, who also hates these damn skirts and is the odd duck that no one likes.” The younger general, who looks around 20, looked at me with a respect that wasn’t there when I first started talking. I still haven’t seen his nametag though. Too bad, he is the first boy I could consider handsome. He’s also the only man in the room that is clean-shaven.
“We will do some reconnaissance and send you a letter regarding our decision.”
“Send the letter as if you were Rosemarie Van Halten. I’m supposed to be staying with her now at her “remote cabin”. She is my cover story because my parents don’t know about this.”
“Will do.” The younger general steps forward.
“You have a gun but can you even shoot?” I raise my pistol in one hand, aim at his cap, and shoot a bullet straight through his cap. The bullet embeds itself in the wall behind him. His nametag reads General Ashton Benning.
“Does that answer your question?”
I stayed in Pennsylvania for the night and rode home the next two days. I got home and a week later the letter arrived from Rosemarie like promised. It said that they would accept my services and that they were sorry about my grandmother. What happened to my grandmother? I walk into the kitchen to find my mother who is still overjoyed at the fact that I have a “friend”.
“Mother? I haven’t heard from grandmother in a while, is she well?’’
“My dear, I’m sorry to tell you about this but grandmother passed away the day that you left.”
“And you didn’t send word?”
“I wanted to tell you in person.” I’ve been home for a week. I stormed off then remembered and stopped with my back to her.
“I’ve decided that I will be a nurse.” I continued storming off.
The war has lasted two years now and I am still alive. The confederate generals have promoted me to secretary. Yay me. I have honestly no idea why. They must think me beautiful or something. It gives me the opportunity to listen in on their conversations with them not thinking anything of it. I know that something big is going to happen in Pennsylvania but with this they are being incredibly secretive. I said that I had male cousins who adore me in Pennsylvania and that I could go there for two weeks and try to convince them to join the Confederacy. They were all for the idea. I don’t have any male cousins.
I ride all day and all night eager to see Ashton and tell him the news. We have kept in contact and seen each other a couple of times in the border-states. This time I am going all the way to Pennsylvania again. I have time to think about exactly what I’ve been trying to keep off of my mind.
I reach the fort and am let in the front by the guards. They all know my face by now. I walk in and greet Ashton with a hug and smile at the others.
“Hello! How have you all been?” There are murmurs from the others but Ashton answers me.
“I’ve been well. And you?”
“I’ve been better actually because I bring bad news.” President Lincoln asks what the news is. “Well something’s going to go down here in Pennsylvania and I don’t know what. Ever since they appointed me to secretary they believe that I don’t hear what they are saying. With this, they have been especially secretive.”
“Is there a way that you can get the information?”
“Not quick enough, no. And I do not want to go there.”
“What would you have to do?”
“Well… Um… General Lee asked me to marry him.” I don’t think that I could have said that more awkwardly.
“He what!” Ashton seems really upset about this.
“I said no. He is 56! I’m 18! Do you really think that I would marry him?”
“Well no… but.” General Asboth interrupts him.
“If you do not have any more information, you may leave.”
“I am actually staying here for another week. I said that I have cousins here that would possibly enlist in the Confederacy and it would take two weeks to convince them.” And with that Ashton led me out.
We walked through the gardens at the town square, just talking about everything that had happened since we last talked. He made a major strategic move towards the south and my mother no longer hates me.
“She’s so happy because she thinks that I’ve changed.”
“Well, I’m glad you haven’t” I look at him. That was unusually sweet, not that I don’t mind.
“Thank you. You’re the first one who feels that way.”
Well I shouldn’t be.” He stops walking and turns to me. “You are such a beautiful person and I don’t understand why people don’t see that.” Did he just call me beautiful?
“That’s just how things are. People don’t like people who are different.”
“I like people who are different. In fact, I think I’m in love with you, Sarah Wescott.”
“You. You what?” Did he just.
He turns and screams, “I’m in love with Sarah Wescott!”
“Shhh. Be quiet.” I can’t stop smiling.
“Why should I? Everyone should know.”
I lost it. I kissed him. Now I am convinced that magic exists. We melt into the kiss, into each other. That’s when I remember that we are in public. I regretfully pull away.
“Why would you do that?”
“Do what? Kiss you or pull away?” I grin.
“Well I wanted to kiss you and I needed to shut you up. Then I realized that we are in public.” He looks around as if he forgot that we were still in the town square gardens.
“Oh. I am sorry for that.”
“I was the one that kissed you. If anything it was my fault.” We start walking again as if nothing had happened. “Does this mean anything? I mean, are we together now?”
“I suppose so. If you want to be.” The last sentence was so fast I almost missed it.
“Of course. Why wouldn’t I. You are wonderful.”
“I am. I’m glad you finally noticed.”
“Oh I noticed. I just wanted to see if you knew how amazing I was.” We laugh and continue our walk.
Two years later the war ends and the Union wins. Ash and I are still together and the day the treaty was signed, he proposed. Of course I said yes. And now I am sitting at home trying to tell my family everything.
“…and he proposed. I said yes.” They all looked so shocked. My mother speaks up first.
“Did Mr. Lincoln pressure you into this?”
“No. It was all my idea.” They’re silent again.
“I can’t take this. You, are no longer part of this family!” Now my father.
“You have until the end of the day to move your stuff out.” My parents walk out. My brothers give me a look as if to say, “I’m sorry”. And the worst thing is, I’m not even that hurt. I guess I knew it was coming. I solemnly walk up to my room. I pack all of my belongings and put them on a trailer. I jump on my horse and ride long and hard without stopping until I reach Pennsylvania.
I jump off my horse. When Ash sees me, he runs up and hugs me. I guess he saw it in my face. In the morning we received an invitation from President Lincoln to watch a play at Ford’s Theatre. We go that night and sit in a separate box. Halfway during the play, someone rustles our curtains but Ash doesn’t notice so I don’t say anything. Then I hear a gun shot and see a man swing towards the stage from President Lincoln’s box. I jump out of the box area and roll when I hit the floor. I bring out my gun as I run after him. I reach him in the alley outside the theatre.
We stand there, both with our guns pointed.
“Put your gun down.” I say as calmly as I can.
“You put yours down first.”
“Not a chance. You wouldn’t shoot a lady, would you?” He hesitates for a moment then pulls the trigger. In the split second I pull mine as well. My bullet lands in his skull. His bullet lands in the wall behind me. Ash runs out to find Booth on the ground and me with the gun in my hands. I had never killed someone before. He tells me that the president was the only one killed and that we would need to hide the news of Booth’s death until they could figure out a good story where the South wouldn’t rise up again. I start to fall, unable to catch myself but he catches me. He hugs me tight and kisses my head. He carried me to the carriage and once we got home I spent the rest of the night in his arms while he read story after story trying to get my mind off of what had just happened.
In the years that came, no one remembered my name. Of course, no woman could have killed John Wilkes Booth.
It is a normal day, just like any other. Suddenly something changes. It is midday and the sun changes to the moon although the brightness doesn’t change.
Obviously, people around the world are giving their attention to this phenomenon. Then, in an instant everything goes dark. All the power throughout the world has disappeared. The ground began to shake beneath the feet of the ever so confused public. “Earthquake!” people yell, but others who know what an earthquake is like, disagree. It felt different to them. Out of the skies emerged giant black holes that seem to be destroying everything. Yet the humans and animals are not being consumed by the mass darkness.
As soon as there is nothing but nature and humans left in the world, people started to change. Some sprout hair over their bodies others become covered in scales. Each individual seems to be turning into an animal. Not just any animals, but animals that fit their characteristics. I see a man who runs a big corporation, turn into a snake. I watch a family man with four daughters, turn into a fatherly lion. Then it happens, I come back to myself and I slowly feel my body and mind changing. I look down to the ground to see my reflection in a mere puddle. I do not know what I see. I do not recognize what I’ve become.
By: Writer of the Shadows
I believe that sometimes, good things happen for no reason and bad things happen for no reason. You just have to see the good in every situation. When I fell off the swing in kindergarten, it hurt a lot, but I also made a new friend, Britney, because of it. She has been my friend all this time. This year we graduate high school together. I remember her beautiful blonde hair tickling my face every time I fell down. She was always there when I needed her. So, yes, sometimes, bad things bring good things.
Volleyball practice was brutal. At least a thousand push-ups, twenty laps, and we worked on digging today. I pull on jeans over my spandex and follow Brit to the game. Her boyfriend is one of the starters and so she goes to every game. Which means I go to every game. Honestly, I’m not a football fan.
We win. Again. We have a winning streak of 37 games in a row. Not that that really matters to me but it sure matters to some people. I follow her to the locker room. This is the first time I’ve been in here but she practically dragged me. She runs to her boyfriend and starts to make out with him.
“Of course.” I roll my eyes and walk back out. I grab my phone and text her saying that I will see her tomorrow at the meeting. I know that she will get it after.
I wake up later than usual but that’s ok cuz I am excused for the day. It’s this weird volleyball thing. I don’t even know what it is; I just have to be there at 8:00.
I meet Brit outside the gym and we walk in together. We’ve already changed into our practice clothes. We walk in to see everyone already there including the football team. Brit runs up and hugs her boyfriend without a second thought about why he is here. I walk up to coach.
“Um, coach? Why are they here?”
“I’ll explain that in a minute.”
I walk back to my team and ask if they knew anything. They didn’t think anything of it. I guess I’m the only one who thinks that this is weird. But as usual they all think for themselves. We work as a team but they don’t think of anyone outside of the team. I hear Coaches whistle and turn around. As does everyone else.
“Ok everyone listen up. Your football coach and I have decided that these two teams have no respect for the other. Starting today, you will all be learning the other sport. You are excused for two weeks. You will have practice everyday from 8:00 to 3:00.” All I can think right now is how much I don’t like football. I mean so many people get hurt, I think it’s pointless. She calls one of the football players and tells him that he will be coaching us football. I’m still lost in my thoughts when she says,
“Jess,” I jerk my head up in time to hear the rest.
“You will be coaching the football players to play volleyball. Now everyone go to where you need to be.” Ok. Wait, what? I rush over to my coach.
“Um what are you thinking? I can’t coach them to play volleyball, they’re football players. They scare me.”
“To be honest, the scare me a little bit too, but I know that you can do it. Turn around and start coaching, they’re waiting.” I turn around to see the football players waiting for me to tell them what to do. I turn back and Coach is gone. I take a deep breath and turn to face all of them.
“Thousand push ups now.” Brit’s boyfriend, Chris, is the first to speak up.
“A thousand push ups?”
“Yeah your all football players I’m sure you can handle it.” They reluctantly go into plank position. I walk to my stuff on the bleachers, away from the football players, to think. Someone starts to speak up but before they can really start I say,
“You’re not done with a thousand yet.” I turn around and see that most of them are doing push ups like 3rd graders. This is gonna be a long 2 weeks.
We spent the first day going over the rules, the second day going over the basics, and the third day going over the basics. I understand that everyone has their sport but I didn’t ever think that the basics were this hard. A week passed by and I started to get along with and actually like some of the guys. I met Brit outside of the gym on Friday. She was wearing her shoulder pads and looked kinda ridiculous.
“Oh you like it? I’m calling it linebacker chic.”
“Oh how original.”
“Wait. I know that look. You like someone.” I gotta admit I have been thinking about this one guy a lot.
“What? I don’t know if you’d call it that.”
“Oooo who is it? No, let me guess. It’s not my Chris is it?”
“What? No. Hmmm. Black, shaggy hair… Blue eyes…”
“How did you know?”
“I know a lot of the football players, besides he’s just your type.”
“Do I even have a type?”
“Everyone has a type.” I get in my car and drive her home and continue the drive back to my house. When I pull in the driveway, I sit and stare at myself in the rearview mirror. Do I really like him? I get out of my car. Yeah, I guess I do.
On Monday I bring a copy of one of our games for the guys to watch. They all set up on the bleachers and I pull the projector screen down. The video starts playing. Towards the end of the game we see Brit set me up and I hit it. I hit it straight to a girls face and broke her nose. Blood was gushing everywhere. I totally forgot about this.
“Sorry about this guys. I didn’t know that this was on this video.”
“You broke a girls nose?” asks Tommy.
“Yeah, we do so many push ups that it’s pretty easy to break a girls nose. Especially when you do it right.” I turn off the projector and start into another lesson.
Friday came and the football players were now half volleyball players. I was impressed at their improvement. I decided to give them half the day to do whatever. They decided on karaoke in the locker rooms. I watched and they weren’t very good. At the end Tommy called me out.
“We still haven’t heard you sing yet.” And Chris chimes in,
“Yeah. Brit tells me that you have an amazing voice.” It takes a lot more begging but I finally cave. I’ve only ever sang in front of Brit. I choose The Only Exception by Paramore and the entire time I was thinking of Tommy. What’s gotten into me? I walk-run back into the gym afterwards. I sit at the top of the bleachers. Tommy comes and sits by me.
“You have an amazing voice.”
“So do you.”
“I already know I’m terrible. No need to sugar coat it.” I laugh and he smiles. Damn his smile is just….
“Is it weird? If I was thinking…of you while I sang?” I look at my shoes as if they are the most interesting things in the world right now.
“No.” He kisses me on the cheek. “Not at all.” He walks down to the gym floor and I stare. I know that I shouldn’t but I can’t help it. The rest of them funnel into the gym and then I see Brit at the doors. I rush down the stairs and almost into her.
“Hey what are you doing here? Never mind I sang that one song by Paramore in front of them and I don’t even know why I caved but I did and I was thinking about Tommy the whole time and then I ran out of there and he followed me and I told him that I was thinking about him and asked if that was weird and he kissed me on the cheek and said that it wasn’t and omg I don’t even know what to think right now.”
“Whoa slow down there. Oh my god! I can’t believe this. This is a big step for you.”
“I know I’m like…. I can’t even…”
“I know, I know it all comes with the territory.”
“Remember when we used to dance the rain. It’s raining right now.” She grabs my hand and rags me out the door. Immediately, we are soaked. I start to laugh and she spins around. I spread my arms and spin too. The ground is covered in a layer of water already. The guys come out to see what we are doing. I get a running start and then slide 15 feet. Tommy slides towards me too, spraying me, as he gets closer. I cringe away from the spray automatically. He stops right in front of me, pulls me close, and kisses me. He pulls away but I kiss him again and he doesn’t resist. I wrap my arms around his neck. Finally we both pull away. I bite my lip and take a few steps back, eager to tell Brit what just happened. I turn and run smack into Brit.
“Oh my god, Oh my god. Did you just see that? I can’t believe this actually happened. Oh my god. This isn’t real. Yes. I’m dreaming. Wait, no I’m not. Sigh. Oh my god this actually happened.”
“Yeah, I saw. You kissed him back! I’m so proud.” I look back at Tommy and he looks at me while Chris is taking to him. I wave and he waves back. I smile to myself. You know, sometimes really good things come from bad things.
BY WRITER OF THE SHADOWS
THE BEST WAY TO THINK
AND MAYBE I BELIEVE
THAT THE BEST WAY TO THINK
IS NOT TO THINK AT ALL
WHEN YOU CLEAR YOU MIND
KEPT TRACK OF TIME
CAUSE IDEAS WILL COME TO YOU IMMEDIATELY
WHEN THE TIME IS OPPORTUNE
TO LET YOUR THOUGHTS BLOOM
PLEASE STAY AWAY
FROM PEOPLE THAT SAY
“DON’T DAYDREAM, IT ISN’T HEALTHY”
A GREAT GUY
LOST IN A DREAM
MADE PEOPLE THINK
ABOUT HIS THEORY
SO THE BEST WAY TO THINK
AND MAYBE I BELIEVE
THAT THE BEST WAY TO THINK
IS NOT TO THINK AT ALL
The Buzz is partnering with The Denver Post to promote awareness of teen suicide issues within communities across Colorado. "With teen suicides on the rise in the state, The Denver Post wants to hear from Coloradans about how teens, parents and others are affected by this growing mental health crisis.
The Denver Post is reporting on this topic to shed light on a mental health problem affecting many Coloradans." - The Denver Post, 11 September 2019