A Stellar Flare of Young Adult Writing and Visual Art
BY KATELYNN KARNER
The bell still rang at 11:25.
Lying there in front of the east wing, Ansley could see her old freshmen year locker from the distance and, for a second, she could almost recall the exact way the door twang open with an annoying creak. There, always waiting for her fourth period calculus class to emerge, was a beautiful boy with his books in his arms and the expectations to receive a kiss from what used to be his thriving girlfriend.
In a matter of five minutes she could feel the bursts of heat flash through her body, like the time she was six years old and her father took her to the beach and forgot to apply sunscreen, only this time it was like the burning came from the inside-out and there never was going to be a lotion that cured this kind of hatred and lonesomeness. She wanted to scream as if she had nothing to live for, but the idea that he was still roaming about was frightening. After all, some distant part of her wanted to fight this with all the adrenaline that flowed through her bullet-ridden body. She looked through the panels of the school ceiling, hypnotized by the off-white color that provided a sense of hope that the paramedics would burst through the school doors and save her.
The thought of Ansley’s mother crossed her mind, but she couldn’t quite remember the stern voice used at the sight of ugly things, because everyone in town knew Ansley’s mother just couldn’t have ugly things; they had the nicest house on the block with the white picket-fenced family. To the neighborhood, there was never a problem from their household: never a kid gone wrong nor a marriage failed. But still she knew that all the blood was something she’d tsk-tsk at, like the time her mother scolded her own sister for crying so hard on their floor that the color of her hazel eyes drained into the carpet. It was as if her body was that stubborn mess she always had to scrape up and dust off.
The heat pulsed through her lower abdomen and spread to her legs, igniting her desire to just get up and run towards the open, dark hallway ahead of her. The bodies of her fellow classmates were all dispersed amongst the math department and ran through her head, painting her memories the color of blood. She couldn’t remember the times she spent decorating this same hallway with yellow ribbon to support the troops, or how she took a picture of it and sent it to her father’s unused phone as a means to ignore his death. Ansley could not push away the idea that her father had endured this same kind of agony.
He left for the war when Ansley was fourteen years old, only being able to see her every now and then. It was after his second visit, after Christmas, that he was deployed for the final time; the family received the fateful visit from the representative around that February. At the time, everything seemed to be a dream, from the funeral services to her first day of high school. But now, as the aching numbness and the cold began to surround Ansley’s body from bottom-up, it became an even farther image in her consciousness. The flag she carried everywhere became a forgotten item amongst her racing thoughts, staying safe in her locker just twenty feet away. I just hope they’ll give it to Jonah, she thought.
The coldness crept over Ansley’s skin as she took a piercing breath, aware that the blackness was finally starting to overcome. She was no longer able to produce tears, no longer able to recall the way the shooter’s hand felt soft in hers just the week before as she helped calm him down in the library. The tormenting boys ran away as his anxiety stole the rhythm of his breath, and she gave him her number while unknowingly giving him a friend to rely on in his lonely hours of the night when he couldn’t remember his worth. She wanted him to know that everyone in the world will view his flaws differently, but he was still pure and lovely in her eyes. That’s just how her father always taught her to see people. When Ansley was six years old, the two towers in New York collapsed into one another, creating a mixture of innocence and hate that no one had ever once imagined. He unplugged the televisions for a week afterwards, only pointing at the black screen to say, “Give everyone you meet all the kindness in your heart.”
The suffocating darkness had finally succumbed to her just as a dark figure approached through the dimly lit hallway. She heard a series of tear-soaked apologies to say he had never meant to hurt her, and that he had never deserved the love she had to offer. Ansley felt all her dreams intertwining with his, all the hopes to leave high school and become a beloved person who repainted the sad skies with blue shades and ambitious purples. The faraway sound of police sirens and pleading, injured students rang through the school around them. She felt his limp body find solace in her lap in the same second her heart had flinched at the loud, piercing gunshot next to her, finally stopping all sense of movement and life around her.
Katelynn Karner started writing at a young age as a means to explain the way she views the world, using ideas she’s created with her own morals and ethics. She finds it interesting to look back at old poems or pieces and notice how much change in viewpoints there are. She is attending Depaul University with a focus on sociology and political science.