Short Story Contest Winner: “The List” by Jordan Buhler

Making a list. That’s what I was doing one late night. I had my Disneyland magazine, scrolling through the lists of roller coasters to choose ones that I wanted to ride. After the whole scare about this mysterious coronavirus on the news, this list-making was very comforting. The whole family was going in just a few short days, and I could hardly wait. That night was full of sweet dreams.

The next morning, I woke up excited for an awesome day, not expecting this day to be one of the worst days of my life. The sun was shining through my shades, and I jumped out of bed ready for the day (or so I thought). I only had to drive to my college campus for one class, and the rest of the day was completely free. After class, I got wrapped up with my best friend about this coronavirus. She was telling me how the president of our university was talking in chapel about possibilities about the school closing for this virus. We spent the rest of the conversation shrugging off the worst-case scenarios. Why would our college close for a sickness?

Back at home, my mom was getting scared about our Disney trip not being cancelled with all this talk about the virus. I knew exactly what would help my mom. My list. I ran to grab my list to share with my mom the fun rides we were going to do on our trip. I tried to find the opportune time to share my list as she kept reading articles about this virus. I had this intense urge to share with my mom this list. This list of hope and excitement. This list that held all my dreams. Before I was about to share the rides with her, I heard one word from my mom’s lips. It wasn’t a good one. My mom was just staring at her phone, and I knew. I just knew. Instead, my mom was the one who shared with me the information of Disneyland closing for the next couple months.

My soul, heart, and everything in me shattered into pieces. I slowly placed my Disneyland magazine next to me on the couch instead of on my lap as before. I folded my list—yes, my precious list—and put it on top of the magazine. I listened to my mom telling all my family members about what happened as I sat there quietly, trying to process everything that happened. This trip that we’ve been planning for a year has been cancelled five days beforehand.

I left my magazine on a table in the main room. I didn’t want to take it into my room where it would taunt me. I held my list in my hand for a couple more seconds before tossing it into the tall trash can in the kitchen. I didn’t look back. I couldn’t. All my hopes and dreams were tied into that little list that didn’t exist anymore. The bad news kept on piling on throughout the day. The day ended with me sitting on the cold, hard bathroom floor throwing away wet tissues and causing my red eyes to burn.

That list. It teases me from the trash can—Why did you get your hopes up just to have them crash down hard? Sometimes I wonder why I have to be such a positive and optimistic person. It just makes the disappointments that much harder. However, I know that through having hope, I enjoyed Disney while it lasted. By looking through that magazine, I was able to experience the anticipation of going to Disneyland. By choosing rides, I imagined the thrills of the roller coasters and the excitement of going on these rides with family. Even though I never went there, through my imagination and dreams, I partially experienced what those rides were like. And I will keep on dreaming. Because dreams are what give me hope, and hope is always worth the disappointment.

 

Photo made available by Glenn Carstens-Peters

“The Rock” Written and Read by Heather Chamberlain, Performed by Julianna Mattson

“The Rock”

“Stages of Grief” Written by Dalton Palmer, Performed by Emma Browning, Grace Brown, Shannon McCon

“Stages of Grief”

Isolation

All to your lonesome.

All beating hearts must be afar.

Everything feels glum.

All this pain has left a deep scar.

Left to soak in your self-pity.

The hurt must be so deep.

Sometimes you feel that life feels so shitty.

The feelings are piling up to your feet.

All that is left is to sing sad songs.

Alcohol will help if you just drink some

Though you won’t long.

As your time has come…

 

Anger

Eyes filled with fire.

Fists all balled up.

This whole thing must have been a setup.

Your soul is not yours; it belongs to the buyer.

 

No more peace; anger is your desire.

What’s left of your will couldn’t fill a cup

All you can see is the fire.

Everything seems so messed up.

 

You must watch the crumble of your empire

Defenseless like a little pup.

Sitting confused, you don’t know what’s up.

You sit there in ire

Soon your soul will retire.

 

Bargaining

Know of your friends.

Know of your enemies.

For one day your friends will be your enemies.

The enemies will become your friend.

There is no changing this.

Do not blame them for being this way.

For it is just the human nature.

 

Pay attention to those demons.

Pay attention to those angels.

For one day they will be one in the same.

The internal struggles will change.

There is no changing this.

Do not blame yourself for being this way.

For it is just the brains nature.

 

Watch your surroundings.

Watch your environment.

For one day your enemy will be there to harm them.

The way they see you is the same way you see them.

There is no changing this.

Do not blame them for thinking this way,

For you think the same way.

 

Talk to your friends.

Talk to those that are close to you,

For one day your demons will try to consume your humanity.

The angels will not be able to stop them

There will be no stopping them.

Do not give up hope,

For you have your friends and close ones to fall back on.

 

“Here’s One to You” Written and Read by Luna, Performed by Sabrina Lewis

“Here’s One to You”

What constitutes a friend?

Is it somebody who cares for you to no end?

Or is it one who’s loyalty shows no bend?

 

I believe a freind is one who loves you.

A friend is one who reminds you to chew

When you’re choking, concerned but giving a laugh.

A friends who compliments everything even your calf.

 

A friend is one who truly does care.

A friend like you is someone truly rare.

 

One in a million and a special speck…

Not judging whether a poem does rhyme or not.

A friends like you is special to me.

Your personality is quirky and that’s a good thing…

 

I began this poem like our friendship began…

Neat, precise and thought out every word,

But as I progressed the words began

To shift and fall and become less precise…

 

But that’s how our friendship was…

It was random and sporadic based upon whim,

A friendship that I don’t have to hide myself

We were spectacular and unique,

 

But that’s not where our story ends…

 

What truly makes a friend?

Is it someone who can heal or mend?

Is it someone who can write or paint?

Or is it someone who can speak so quaint?

 

No, a friend is one who wouldn’t leave, and that’s you!

Or at least it was you, before the storm that rattled us to the core…

Gassed our bridge leaving it to burn, engulfed in flames demanding more!

But now I write, meticulous again, remembering the time I’d lay on the floor…

Weeping the loss of a friend that I cared for so deeply, one I loved,

but feelings of regret and anger I have shoved,

deep down inside; they are forgotten in a heart that is so sore.

 

I’m over feeling sorrow, despair, anger. I’m done being colored blue!

I’m okay alone, and I see that now, so old friend, “Here’s one to you…”

“Broke” Written and Read by Cristin Conley and Performed by Elleana Ortiz

“Broke”

There’s no more money,

There’s no safety deposite box.

Paychecks are slowing;

Grass keeps growing.

Guess I’ll cut some locks

to buy cough drops.

 

You tell me to push through,

“Don’t let the depression overcome you,”

to “have patience, keep breathing,”

yet as your cup overflows,

you refuse to consider giving.

 

I can’t pay the debts;

I can’t make the money;

So I’m not a person–

just a little bunny.

 

Stoke the fire;

Salt the meat;

Skin the rabbit;

Time to eat.

“Lend Her My Eyes” Written and Read by Miles Morrison and Performed by Calista Cano

“Lend Her My Eyes”

I remember that day,

remember the exact day,

when walking home from school she proposed that we take the back way.

 

And I didn’t even ask the reason for going that way.

I just followed as she guided me.

We’re further down the path way…

 

We stop at a creek

with no one around

She looked in my eyes, and she slowly broke down.

I asked her what’s wrong.

She said with a tone

of pain in her voice, “I don’t want to go home.”

 

At home there’s no love;

At home it is rough;

At home they just tell me I’m not good enough.

 

At home there’s no hope;

At home there’s no help;

At home they compare me to somebody somebody else.

 

At home I’m just what I wish I couldn’t see.

At home it’s like happy is what I’ll never be.

She’s the greatest piece of art

that I’ve ever seen.

If I could…I would…

 

Lend her my eyes so she could see what I see.

“washcloth” by Heather Chamberlain

With a wet washcloth you wash your face.

Then the pure white cloth is forever stained,

and you foolishly believe your face is clean.

 

In the mirror you primp, and you preen,

but just because salt revives the skin

doesn’t make it blemish free.

 

Every night when you remove the base,

you stare hard and cold at the path you’ve traced;

squeezing the washcloth, in your hand restrained.

 

And every morning you conceal your sin.

And it works,

‘cause it does hide the darkness within.

 

And every night,

once again,

with a wet washcloth you wash your face.

 

Photograph made available by Brian Patrick Tagalong via Unsplash.

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