Patrick was walking with one of his friends. Lampposts dotted the street, and a slight fog hazed the city skyline. As the pair of friends walked, their plastic raincoats swished and squeaked slightly. They were discussing something. Something important.

“What do you value the most in life?” Patrick asked.

After a moment of silence, Patrick continued.

“There’s a popular notion that happiness is ultimately the thing that life should be lived for; that a pleasurable feeling is the most valuable thing, but I refuse to believe that I need to live my life constantly chasing a feeling.”

“Hmm, I never thought about that before Patrick.”

His friend answered, tiptoeing along the sidewalk curb with his arms outstretched like he was a trapeze artist.

“Life, in general, is so great and complex I guess. Existence itself is almost too hard to comprehend, so I don’t think that simply putting a cap on it and saying that the most valuable thing in life is —fill in the blank— is a wise thing to do. You’re just wasting time.”

There was another silence.

“Well, I think Truth is the most valuable thing. Honesty is the best policy.” Patrick said, forming his words carefully.

His friend nodded.

“I respect your opinion.”

“I respect yours, too.”

Patrick responded.

His friend bumped him playfully on the shoulder.

“This conversation is getting really deep.”

“I agree.” a pause. “Race you to that lamppost.”

Patrick broke into a run down the street. His friend laughed and followed in hot pursuit.

Catharsis

by Rose Egerton

Beauty.

The Oxford Dictionary of English provides a few definitions of beauty, the first of which is “a combination of qualities, such as shape, color, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight.”

Second, it is a “combination of qualities that pleases the intellect.”

Third, it is a “Beautiful or pleasing thing or person, in particular.”

So what exactly is beauty?

I believe that beauty is a quality that leads to appreciation and ponderous thinking.

Pleasure and satisfaction of the aesthetic senses is a secondary effect of beauty.

However, there are many different types of beauty.

Beauty can be found in almost everything.

Crying.

A newborn baby’s wail.

Rain.

Cobblestones.

Theatrical drama.

In Ancient Greece, Aristotle studied and analyzed plays written by famous tragedians.

He came up with formulas and many observations based on these tragedies.

One of these was a phenomenon he entitled “catharsis.”

“Catharsis” comes from a Greek word meaning “purification.”

This effect refers to the emotional renewal the audience experiences when watching a play.

However, catharsis does not only refer to plays, but it applies to movies and books…Catharsis can be found in any telling of a story.

What is it about stories?

They can inspire audiences, make them feel terrible, make them cry.

Cause them pain. Emotionally.

This emotional disturbance causes an emotional drainage.

This drainage leaves the audience feeling cleansed.

Like the feeling you have after a good cry.

Just sort of okay with the world.

There is beauty in catharsis.

Applause roared from the classroom.

“Very nice presentation, Rose.”

Mrs. Vendredi said as Rose gathered her papers and made her way towards her seat. As the applause died down, she could tell that though her class was an enthusiastic audience, the clapping was empty praise. They still didn’t get what beauty was. This made Rose sad, as she terribly wanted for people to understand. The next student walked up to the board to present their project on ancient Greek plays. For the rest of the day, Rose enjoyed hanging out with her friends and was very deep in thought as she slowly trudged home in the rain. Again. She kicked the mud away with her black, rubber boots. Her short, brown, wet hair sopped against her forehead, sticking all over her face. She gripped her backpack tight and stared at the ground in thought. “I bet I’d look really hot if I was in a movie right now.” The back of her mind murmured. She stopped and listened to the rain falling. The cold seeped through her jacket and backpack. She didn’t want to think too hard about the water soaking into her backpack and probably ruining her books. She just stood, closed her eyes, and listened. With everything.

Later, after she had finished all of her homework and was lying in bed, she was deep in thought again. She was trying to determine what the common characteristic of all of her favorite movies was. She came up with the observation that all of the movies she thought were really good had a sort of humbleness about them. They all made her feel really small and pensive. Like, they each emphasized stories and the search for identity which are both extremely universal things. They each were a kind of movie that didn’t bring attention to themselves, but to the story of the world and the story of each individual. They kind of blended into the background and left her feeling…. well, cathartic, sort of. They left her appreciating story-telling, individual identity and left her with more questions and thoughts than when she had entered the cinema. They each were beautiful. Definitely.

Rose turned over in bed and turned off her lamp. She felt the softness of her pillow against her cheek and could picture her hair sprawled out over it. She smiled a little. “I bet I’d look really hot in a movie right now.”

Story Fragment #4

“You’re kidding me. You sing?”

“Umm…”

She whipped her phone away from my view and quickly paused the video that had been playing.

“Were you watching me over my shoulder?”

“Uh..”

I shifted uncomfortably in my shoes.

“Maybe…”

I knew she hated people watching over her shoulder. She sighed then lowered the phone back onto the table, her charm bracelet twinkling as she moved her wrist along the marble tabletop.

“I do sing, but I don’t like to tell people about it.”

“Why not?”

I asked curiously, pulling up a chair. She stood up.

“Becuase it makes me and other people uncomfortable.”

She gathered her green, fuzzy sweatshirt and her purse and began to walk away, her short hair bobbing up and down with the movement.

“Woah, wait.”

I took her wrist, stopping the jingling noise of her bracelet. She stopped and looked back at me in the eye.

“Wait, why does singing make you uncomfortable?”

“Just…because…”

She mumbled and dropped her gaze. I lifted her chin up so her eyes met mine again.

“Hey, hey, it’s fine. There’s no possible song that you could ever sing that would scare off your boyfriend.”

I took her hands in mine, and felt the cool metal of her bracelet charms against my palm.

She looked at me firmly.

“I don’t like to sing because I think I’m good at it.”

“What?”

I laugh.

“What kind of an excuse is that??”

“It’s not because I think I’m good at it, but it’s because I know I’m not.”

I squeezed her hands reassuringly.

“I’m sure you’re an amazing singer.”

I added encouragingly. I looked into her eyes for a sign of life.

“But if you don’t want to sing right now, that’s okay too. Whatever makes you happy.”

I lowered her hands and kissed them. She smiled a little then did that slight, head-jerking thing that girls do when they want to get their hair out of their face.

“Okay, I’ll sing for you. But that’s only because you’re my boyfriend.”

I smiled.

She took a deep breath and began.

I’d like to say that it was the most beautiful thing that I’ve ever heard. I’d like to say that her voice made me fall head over heels in love with her, but the truth was that she had a good voice. Simply good. Not terrible or great but just good.

As she finished, I stood there, not really knowing what to do. I studied her face to see what she felt; I could tell that she was studying mine. After a long silence, she looked down at the ground.

“See, I told you it made people uncomfortable. My voice is just… so ordinary that you can’t criticize or compliment it. It’s kind of just like a slice of plain bread.”

I lifted her chin a second time.

“That was beautiful.”

She took a step back.

“Don’t lie to me.”

“I’m not lying, that’s the truth.”

“But it didn’t sound good.”

I stared at her straight in the eye.

“Your voice doesn’t have to sound ‘good’ to be beautiful, Rachel.”

There was a moment of silence.

She looked at me. I looked at her.

“It’s perfect, just the way it is.”

She looked down at the ground and smiled again.

“Okay, but you still looked over my shoulder, and you know I hate it when people do that.”

We both laughed.

Dumb Chicken

Screen Shot 2017-02-21 at 08.25.06.png

I can do this.

Just slip that rope underneath, and then pull tight- nope, not quite what I wanted. Suddenly the wooden pole thing starts to get loose, and I try to quickly catch it before it rolls into the sea. I’m not even completely sure what it’s for, but last time it got loose… It did not go well.

“I am Moana.”

Common, you can do this. Just try one more time.

“Of Mato-“

BANG!

My head jerks up to the trapdoor.

“-nui”

BANG!

Anxiously, I let go of the rope that I was trying to tie into a knot and cautiously open the trapdoor.

“Aah!”

I exclaim as a coconut pops out. Wait, a coconut? Slowly I lift it. I see a flash of feathery red. I slam the coconut back down again. I can’t believe it. How did he get in here?

“Hei Hei?!”

I lift the coconut off completely. Sure enough, the flimsy rooster looks around, his big bug eyes wobbling in every direction. I can’t believe it. Suddenly, he starts screaming. Not knowing what to do, I slam the coconut back on his head. After a moment, I take it off again, but he keeps screaming. I slam it back down again.

Okay, you can do this, it’s just a dumb old rooster.

I ease the coconut half off of Hei Hei again. He clucks curiously.

“Hey, it’s alright.”

I coo.

“The ocean is a friend of mine.”

I stick my hand into the water to show him that it’s alright. The water feels so good on my palm that I am not paying attention, and suddenly I notice that HeiHei is nowhere in sight.

“Hei Hei??”

I ask, alarmed. Suddenly a pair of chicken feet stick up from the water about a few feet away from the boat. “Hei Hei!” I yell, diving in after him. Once I have him in my arms, I try to make my way back to my canoe, but the wind fills the sails, and it starts floating away. UGH! Dumb chicken, always getting me into trouble….