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From the Teens of Washington County, MD
Updated: 1 hour 31 min ago

Rin’s Bookshelf: Self Q’s, My Best A’s

Wed, 01/24/2018 - 18:30

By: M.K. Powell, Staff Writer

This segment is a part of the Rin’s Bookshelf in which book-ish questions I come up with are answered by me in a format similar to interviewing a mirror. Makes me sound cool, right?

Image via Pixabay.

Q: Who decides classic books?

A: I’ve asked this question so much. Why is a book about a bunch of British school boys running around an island killing each other (i. e. the Lord of the Flies, which is not a bad book, but still) more popular than anything by Edna Ferber? I, personally, would like to think that classic books are decided by a council of authors who have crossed over to the other side (i. e. they are dead). I believe the majority of the meetings would be a tribunal of smokers lead by Virginia Woolf and James Joyce. They would stare into cigarette smoke and take turns spouting musings. They would all carry on like this until Mark Twain would burst in late, announce he had just read the worst book ever, and leave. Inevitably they would vote that book for classic, as Twain is not always honest. Just kidding; I can acknowledge that as a little impractical. I know it’s actually decided by aliens.


Q: How hard can you fall for a character in a novel?

A: So. Hard. J. Gatsby, I am still not over you.


Q: Can you fall for a character without falling in love with a character?

A:  To clarify, I was not (and am not) romantically in love with Gatsby. I got to know him as a  magnificent dreamer, an Icarus who flew too close to the sun. He would have been my friend, but I would not try for more than a friend. But, all I said withstanding, dude can be nuts,  and part of loving someone can be acknowledging flaws, so yeah.


Q: Does reading so many books come into conflict with spending time with people?

A: Um… Sorry fams, one more page.


Q: Is it childish to laugh your way through romance novels? Especially love scenes?

A: Probably, but, “sinewy thighs”? Who thinks that! And, furthermore, what steamboat captain runs over a lady with a horse and thinks, “Imma take her back to my boat with no professional medical attention. S’all good.” And what steamboat captain is riding a horse so fast at night? Where does a steamboat captain find a horse in the middle of the night?! Furthermore, what steamboat captain has time to maintain those abs featured on the cover? I would also like to add that I got all that just from reading a synopsis… I give credits to people who read these straight faced, but I’m sorry, I just can’t.

The Last 20: Part I

Wed, 01/17/2018 - 18:27

By: Adrian Lucas, Staff Writer

There was a little boy riding his bike across a bumpy road in Kansas. He had blonde curly hair with three small freckles on each cheek. As the sun was beating on his face he smelt the familiar smell of his mom’s home baked cookies. She yelled for him to come inside. As he was getting ready to bike back to his house when the road beneath him began to tremble. The road began to split into a dark void.


The boy yelled when falling into the dark pit, but as he fell the pit became a dark shade of red, the shade of blood. A dark claw rose from the ground and grabbed on to the road, but before the parents could see what that monster looked like something slowly rose in front of the monster.

It was her son, but he was mutated. He was now 40 feet tall had dark green scales. The mother stared at her son in complete horror as tears rolled down her face. As she was slowly growing scales and claws she never looked away from her son who was a monster.


That is where the story begins I was simply watching the news as they were reporting about a 40 foot monster terrorizing Kansas. As I ran into the kitchen to tell my parents about the news but, something was different. They had grown scales and sharp teeth. Out of terror, I ran. My used-to-be-parents were chasing me down the street where I lived.

I looked back to see what had become of my parents. They had black scales and sharp teeth, but there kind hazel eyes stayed the same as tears were falling off of there face. I ran, I ran down the street the I had grown up on were all my memories were made. I looked at my old friends house and in the windows I saw my friend and her family turning into monsters.

I ran even faster and I realized that I could run to my school hopefully none of the monsters had reached the school. As I opened the door to the school I looked behind me and saw my parents were still chasing me. I sprinted down the hallway. Then I saw my classroom, ran in, and locked the door. I looked around and I saw my classmates. I was, so excited.

   “How are you all not turned into monsters” My best friend Jake looked shocked.

    “How are not a monster.” I was overwhelmed with happiness to see all of my friends alive and not monsters. I looked around I saw there human faces, but then I snapped back into reality.

   “Guys we have a problem. We may have water but what are we going to get food.” One person who was in my class named Walter thought otherwise.

“This is all fake I could walk out right now and the monsters would not harm me because the monsters are only monsters.” He said that as he was slowly walking towards the door.

    “Walter stop!” Almost everyone said it in unison. He opened the door. Then closed behind him. Then he was scooped up by a giant bird.

“Okay so, now there are nineteen of us. Me, Jake, William, Taylor, Anne, Jackson, Jay, Rose, Joan, Thomas, Beth, Miles, Amanda, Georgia, Ari, Gray, Carter, Parker, and Josh.

    “Okay now we only have 19 kids alive” I say annoyed.

“Now let’s focus on are food problem.” Everyone in the room got a worried look on their face.

“What if we set are base up in the cafeteria, I mean the nurses office is in the cafeteria, so if anyone gets hurt we will have the supplies we need to survive.” I was super excited knowing we might survive

“That’s a great idea Thomas, but we need to create weapons to get down to the cafeteria.”

“Oh that’s right.” Everyone started to look around the room to find something that could create a possible weapon. I was able to find a meter stick, duct tape, and scissors. I taped the scissors to the meter stick. As I was looking around I was surprised. Five people had created shields out of chairs. Five people made spears out of broken metal baskets. Six people used table legs and chair legs for sticks to hit the monsters. Three people made spears like me.  

“Okay so let’s create a plan. How about we take the shields in the front. Then the spears will go through where the shields don’t protect. The people with the poles will go in the back to stop any monsters that will try and get us from the back.” Everyone was worried. Then Amanda spoke up.

    “Maybe this is not a good idea. I mean let’s just stay here until things die down.”

The Miles yelled, “This is the only chance we have, so you can just stay here too die or take a risk and LIVE!”

“Well I value my life, so I am staying.” Amanda replied.

“Okay now we have 18 people in are group.” I said sadder than I was before.

“ Well we better go.” As we all get in position to go out I look back at Amanda hoping she comes to her senses.

Image via Flickr.

  “When should we go Alex”

   “We go in 3”



    “GO!” We all started to sprint down the hallway plowing down monsters as we went by. I started to feel hope, we were only a couple steps away when.

“HELP!” I saw Miles on the floor pinned down by a monster. Nobody else was moving so, I sprinted out of the formation and went over and stabbed the monster. Miles ran back to the formation, but right before I was running back I felt a searing pain. Before the monster died it had clawed out my left eye. Warm blood trickled down my face as I heard screams of terrors and

“RETREAT!” Jake yelled.

“NO!” I yelled  “We are to close to give up now”

“What about your eye,” Thomas said looking more concerned than ever.

“Once we claim the cafeteria we can enter the nurses office and heal it but, we have to keep going.” It seemed my speech riled them up as soon as I got back into the formation we all ran as fast as we could to the cafeteria and as soon as we opened and locked the door behind us we were terrified. Every student, teacher, and cafeteria worker was here but, they were all zombies.

To be continued…


It Gets Better: Part II

Wed, 01/10/2018 - 17:48

By Isabella Hendershot, Staff Writer

I don’t turn around. I’m not able to even move. I’m paralyzed with fear, petrified. I fear that I will be taken once again and that I will never see my beloved mate ever again. Jared wraps his arms around me in a vice like grip, hard as stone. He covers my mouth with one of his large hands so that I am unable to call for my beloved.

Jared whispers in my ear, “You will not escape me this time my little Rosebud. Not this time.” I shut my eyes tightly and let out a muffled whimper from fear. I never thought that he would find me again.

Our backs are turned towards the entrance to the kitchen. I just hope that one of the guys will wake up and notice I’m gone from my place beside Phoenix.

I once again hear the raspy voice of Jared. “Now are you going to come back with me quietly and be a good little Rosebud? You know I always have another way of making you come willingly, and I know you don’t want that now do you?” a small and muffled cry leaves my lips as I remember what he would give me again if I didn’t leave with him.

I try to beg for him to let me go, but my cries for help only come out as a mumbled and muffled response. I try to get out of his tight grip, but his hold on me is so tight that I can’t even move an inch and it’s starting to get hard to breathe. I start to panic when I can’t move.

I can hear the deep and cynical chuckle, from the man that has tortured me and broken me, from my feeble and useless attempts to escape his grasp.

I hear someone clear their throat behind us in the entrance to the kitchen. With a tight grip still around my body Jared turns us to face whoever has found us. When we are turned around all of the guys are standing in the doorway to the kitchen. I close my eyes and let out a sigh of relief as I see the guys all standing there. I’m filled with relief to know that I will not be taken again.

Image via Flickr.

As I’m looking at the boys I notice how they are all shaking and that their eyes have changed to their wolf’s. It was a sign that they were furious to see that this evil man has his arms around me, hurting me. I try again to get out of Jared’s tight grip, now that the boys are here, but he tightens his grip again and it’s painfully tight now. It immediately makes me stop and let out a small and muffled cry of pain. I hear all of the boys growl, but the one that stands out is the loudest of them all. I know exactly who it belongs to. My beloved, Phoenix.

I hear his loud growl and I can feel his Alpha power seeping into it. It makes me feel a little bit safer knowing that he is here, that he’s here to protect me. He pushes his way through the boys and stands in the front. His eyes are glowing a beautiful yellow gold hue.

Jared tightens his grip around me as he catches sight of Phoenix. It feels as if he is starting to slowly crush my ribs, it gets harder to breathe. My beloved can see the pain in my eyes as they begin to tear up. His eyes are now focused on Jared’s tightening grip, I don’t think it will be much longer until my bones start to crack and break.

Phoenix begins to lurch forward at Jared. Before my lovely mate can reach either or us, Jared gives one final squeeze to my rib cage and starts to run as soon as he drops me to the floor.

I let out a cry of pain as I feel my bones being crushed underneath his arms. I let out another as my body hits the hard, solid marble floors. Everyone runs towards me, but they are, unfortunately, not fast enough to catch me before my body hits the floor.

I fall to the cold and hard floor with a sickening thud. Seconds later the guys are above me with anger in their eyes, but I see the concern they have for me. Phoenix is right above me, his concern for me at the moment evident in his eyes.

“You’re ok, your gonna be ok. I promise I’ll make it all better.” he speaks to me in a rushed but calm voice. I can tell he doesn’t want me to panic. His words do calm me down but only slightly. The waves of pain hit me as I try to take a deep breath, but instead of a deep breath I start to cough and it causes me more pain.

A look of panic crosses his face as he can see my pain. He looks up to the boys and he speaks to them through the pack link. After a minute passes he looks back down to me and tells me to hold onto his hand tightly. The guys lift me up slowly and carefully. They start to take me to the hospital wing in the pack house. Every little movement causes me pain. The entire trip to the pack doctor I am holding onto my beloved’s hand in a crushing grip.

Once we reach the hospital room I’m laid down on a table and the doctor comes over to me. He cuts off the night shirt I was wearing and he runs his hands over my rapidly bruising skin. Phoenix growls as he sees the doctor touching me and how, even though his touch is light, I still suck in a breath out of pain and from the cold feeling of his hands. It puts a small smile on my face seeing how possessive he is over me, it made me feel safe and it calmed me slightly.

The doctor continues to press his fingers against my injured ribs and my painfully bruised skin. After another minute of the painful examination he has to do on me, he pulls back and tells us all what he thinks has happened. “I’m usually pretty good with determining the difference between what bones are only cracked and what’s broken but I’m not 100% sure. I can tell you that all of your ribs are in fact seriously injured. I need to take x-rays to be positive of what’s broken and to make sure none of your broken bones have punctured any organs. Though I can tell you right now we will need to reset your broken bones and I possibly might have to do surgery on you and it will not be a nice feeling.”

As Cole, the pack doctor and our friend, tells all of us what  needs to be done I hold onto Phoenix’s hand in a tight grip once again. It makes me sick to my stomach to think of the kind of pain I will be in.

The x-rays were taken and Cole looked to see what damage was done to my bones. When he comes back into the room he tells us he has found that five of my ribs have been broken and four are fractured. The good news was that I would not need surgery but the bad news was Cole needed to reset the bones before they started healing in a damaging position.

Cole told everyone to leave, including Phoenix. With a small kiss on my forehead and one to each of my hands he, reluctantly, left the room. He warned me before he started that it would be very painful and it would help to grab onto the table. I gripped the sides of the table so tightly that I thought my nails would be the next thing to crack and break.

The first bone he reset was excruciatingly painful. I let out a scream and cry of pain with each pop and crack of my bones that was made as Cole reset my bones. Once it was finished Phoenix burst into the room with the boys following as they try and hold him back. I turn my head over to look as Phoenix rushes over to me and gives me kisses all over my face that was covered in a cold sweat and tears of pain.

Cole comes back over with cooling cream and medical wrap. He pulls me up into a sitting position carefully, stopping when I make a sound out of pain, and then he gently rubs the cold gel over my bruised skin then proceeding to wrap my ribs with the medical wrap. “Now come back every night before you guys go to bed and I will look to see how everything is and I will put on a new wrap each visit.” He tells us and then Phoenix picks me up bridal style and we all head back up to the living room.

Once we are back up to the living room the boys start to make a little bed out of all the pillows and blankets that we have brought out for the movie night so I would be more comfortable. Phoenix lays me down carefully so that I wouldn’t be in anymore pain tonight and then he lays down right next to me. Everyone is wide awake now so everyone else goes to the kitchen and gets more junk food and drinks so we could resume our movie night. When they all get back they spread out on the blanket covered floor and we put on more movies. After watching a few more movies I eventually fall back to sleep in my loving mate’s arms.

To be continued…

Rin’s Guide to Holiday Breaks

Wed, 01/03/2018 - 19:52

By M.K. Powell, Staff Writer

I will be honest; I have never gone to school before this August. I’ve been homeschooled all my life thus far. Grades? I had no grades, I received comments and whether or not I got the question right. Due dates? No one was enforcing those except me.

In August, however, I enrolled in college on the ESSENCE (Early Support for Students ENtering College Education and yes, I did look it up) program for high schoolers at the local community college. Let me tell you something: it has been some of the most fun months of my life, but I am literally considering blasting “Don’t You Forget About Me” in the classroom on Wednesday the 13th, jumping up and yelling, “See ya next year!” which I actually will, which is why I won’t be doing that, but you get the point. I’m excited to have the time off. So what will I be doing? (Note: as a homeschooler, I am not laying around all day being lazy. I am actually getting school work done, it’s just the due dates are more lax, and with the addition of two college classes to my current curriculum, I did not have much spare time. And my last point is a pretty good illustration of my regular schedule.)

  1. Chocolate Cake.

I have a stack of recipe books I have been neglecting since I enrolled. Plus, the 13th is Taylor Swift’s birthday, and I’m not one to let T. Swizzle down. I plan to bake it in the afternoon, post a picture of it on her Facebook, then casually sneak pieces of it down stairs throughout the afternoon. If someone asks what happened to it, I will gladly tell them my brother is letting himself go.

Image via Flickr.

  1. TCM

TCM. There has not been a day that has gone by that I do not think of the only TV station I can watch for three hours straight without mentally plotting out and enacting my own death. For those who are not familiar with Turner Classic Movies (TCM), it’s a vintage movie channel I have eyed longingly whenever looking for something to watch with my family. My love of vintage movies is a lone desire as not very many share it with me, and that in addition to my disinterest in my family watching me eating cake on the couch, I plan on staying in my room and utilizing the TCM website.

  1. Go to Sleep at a Reasonable Time.

I need to start Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet for my online literature class with John Green. Plus there’s math, since there’s always math.

Even when school is back in session, these are great ways to spend the cold winter evenings!

Teen Library Council’s Favorite Things from 2017

Wed, 12/27/2017 - 17:33

Teen Library Council Favorite Things from 2017

A compilation of our favorite things that were released this year

(plus some general all-time favs)!


Favorite Books

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

Leviathan Series by Scott Westerfeld

Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham

It’s Not Like It’s Secret by Misa Sugiura

The Stone Heart: the Nameless City by Faith-Erin Hicks and Jordie Bellaire

Favorite Movies

Wonder Woman


SPIDERMAN: Homecoming

Beauty and the Beast

Baby Driver

Lady Bird

Call Me by Your Name

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Everything, Everything


Favorite Games

Stick Fight: The Game

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp

Breath of the Wild

Stardew Valley


Favorite TV Shows

Stranger Things 2

Twin Peaks (revival)

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

The Handmaid’s Tale

Steven Universe

Gravity Falls

Doctor Who Series 10


The Real O’Neil’s

Whose Line Is It Anyway?

Yuri on Ice 


Favorite Albums

saintmotelevision – Saint Motel

Love yourself:Her-Bts

American Teen – Khalid

Natasha, Pierre, & The Great Comet of 1812

Disconnect – Clean Bandit & Marina and the Diamonds

Reputation – Taylor Swift.


Favorite Trends & Pop Culture Happenings

Love Never Dies – First US National Tour

Fidget Spinners

First Female Dr. Who!


Kardashian  Pregnancies 



Favorite Memes

Distracted Boyfriend

The (Gay) Babadook

Stock Memes

Any meme known to man

Spencer’s Name is Sebastian (it’s a good meme) – Rin gives an LOL


Random General All-Time Favorites

Harry Potter

Sugar Pine 7

Em – Emily Wise

“Fabulous has arrived!”


Kiss Him Not Me

Mondo Mango

The ship of Haru and Makoto

The 1975

Laurie Halse Anderson

Hey Simsie podcast

This American Life podcast

Rin’s Bookshelf: You know Mark Twain has more than one novel, right?

Wed, 12/20/2017 - 17:31

By M. K. (Rin) Powell, Staff Writer 

On the top shelf of my bookshelf, in the over-spilling classics section, sits my “Collected Works of Mark Twain” which was, I would say, a steal for how big it is. This book is about five inches thick and includes Twain’s best three novels and short stories. This collection of Twain’s best starts with the oh-so-controversial The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Image via Pixabay.

So first, the controversy. Huckleberry Finn, in more recent times, has come under fire for its racism. Now, am I a twenty-first-century Mark Twain fangirl? It would make more sense than a casual enthusiast buying the book, wouldn’t it? So yes, I am, indeed, a fangirl. Yet, I can acknowledge that Huck Finn isn’t “very hip with the times” (especially with all n-bombs) but I will make an argument for you to not call my friend Mark a racist, and here’s why: presentism. Presentism is using modern, 21st century values on something that occurred in the past. With that said, I ask you to look at Huck Finn without using your modern perspectives. This novel came out nineteen-years after the end of the American Civil War. That was when the KKK wasn’t so bad. Now think about how Jim is portrayed. Although he is awfully stereotyped, he is also portrayed as kind, selfless and caring. The common factors of black people portrayed at this time were cowardice and idiocracy. So is the portrayal of Jim fair? For the time, yes.

Now, all that said, it’s kinda weird that this is still the Mark Twain book that is listed as a classic and assigned reading. Presentism should be used when you’re looking at Huck Finn and how it reflects race preconceptions at the time. I really don’t think it should be analyzed for literary content and therefore be assigned reading for a literature class.

Mark Twain is one of those great American novelists, so why is he being remembered for Huck? Whoever’s in charge of classic books and assigned reading knows he has more than one novel, right? I’m curious as to why we don’t hear anything about A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (see Classic Book of the Month: January). I mean, come on! It has some serious allusion to the end of chivalric warfare with cavalry charges being gunned down by modern machines. This book grants women the right to vote forty years before they were in real life, plus some there’s “slavery is very bad, you know” stuff. What I really don’t understand is why it’s passed over for Huck Finn, even now. Huck Finn is an amazing novel (after all, it’s Mark Twain), it’s a bittersweet coming-of-age story, but does it still have relevance with all the n- bombs, racially fueled meanness to Jim and then actually passing it off as a black man talking like Jim does? Nobody talks like Jim does! I repeat: nobody! Mark Twain has about 28 books to choose from, and what I find baffling is that this is the one he’s remembered for. In an upcoming segment I will go further into detail as to why I don’t like assigned reading or classic book lists, but for now, I will end on this: Mark Twain is a great American novelist to be remembered, so it’s almost an injustice for him to just be remembered for this.

Why I Read and Write

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 18:24

By Isabella Hendershot, Staff Writer

So a lot of people wonder why I read so much or how I can read for hours at a time, why I would rather stay inside reading or writing rather than going out and getting out of the house. Well, the answer to why I read so much is because I simply love to read. When I’m reading a story I can imagine I’m the main character and that I’m living this life where I’m either falling hopelessly in love or being hunted down, just something exciting. I can imagine I’m someone else and I’m living some amazing unrealistic life, that I can escape to.

Image via Flickr.

The answer is books are my escape. Always have been and they always will be. I know that when I’m reading i don’t have to worry about my real life problems. I know that my books are my safe haven and that if someone’s not there for me or if I need to escape reality all I need to do is pick up my book or my electric and go to Wattpad and read.


That’s all I have to do. That’s all I’m gonna wanna do is read, just sit and read and be able to pretend I’m someone else in some other place somewhere far away and sometimes somewhere that’s not real.


Then sometimes there’s the question why I write or why I think so hard about what I’m gonna write.


The answer that those questions are simply because when I write it’s just me in my own little perfect place. Somewhere I can imagine everything is okay and I have nothing to worry about. I can write about myself but as someone else. I’m me but I can be different or I’m me and I’m who I want to be.

Image via Pixabay.

When I’m writing I can have control of how things turn out and how thing’s are and who people are. I can pick and choose if something good happens or if something bad happens, if something happened in my life that’s bad or good i can choose how it goes in my writing.


I think hard about what I’m gonna write about before I start writing because I have so many unspoken and unwritten thoughts and ideas. So because of that I have to choose carefully and not just that it’s because I wanna make sure i choose the right thing I wanna be able to say. I wanna make sure I choose the right unspoken thought that I want someone to know about because most of the time I only get one chance, I can’t go back and do it all over again.


But I also write because it’s a way for someone to know my pain or happiness. It’s a way to tell someone about what I’m going through or what someone else is going through without actually tell someone because when i write I’m someone else in my story but I’m me.


So “why do I read and write?” It’s because they are my escapes and my safe havens when I feel like I have no one else there. They are a way to escape reality and an way to pretend I’m someone else or I’m in someone else’s shoes through something the person went through whether they are fictional or not.


Reading and writing are my escape and someway to express myself in a new way.
I have many story ideas that I would love to tell but I think I’m gonna need some help with them. So tell me if you wanna help me and be my writing partner because that would be amazing.


Give me tips or tell me if you wanna make a cover for me because I’m gonna need help in writing all my story ideas and I think you, my lovely readers, can help me do just that!


Rin’s Bookshelf

Fri, 12/08/2017 - 16:34

By M. K. (Rin) Powell

What is Rin’s bookshelf, you may have asked before clicking on this? Well, I’ll tell you!

After Rin, er, I, myself, Rin, became tired of her, (I mean my!) thankless job as Classic Book of the Month writer, I (Rin) decided to do something different. I have a love of  books, and although the very charming commercial with the not-so-original TV person telling you to read a book is fun and all, I don’t think you need eye candy telling you to read to make it fun. Although I want to encourage people to read, I don’t think you need anyone besides your teacher to tell you to read, especially for fun, because no one likes being told what to do. I instead want to encourage you to read, to create your own thoughts on books and maybe think of this as someone else’s opinions on it, adding to your own. Rin’s Bookshelf does not have a theme or genre, but it is always about books. It’s as varied, unexpected and gosh-darn-independent as my own bookshelf, which has everything from Edgar Allen Poe to C. S. Lewis to Katharine Hepburn’s biography by William Mann. This segment is book reviews and my occasionally anarchist, anti-establishment, and independent opinions on literature.

Image via Pixabay.

Starships: Part I

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 17:53

By Emily Wise, Staff Writer

She looked out the windows of the ship, sitting in one of the common rooms. Most would be awed by its beauty, the stars out her window, but she no longer was. She had been on the ship so long it no longer put her in a trance. The swirling, multicolored clouds of spacedust, containing stars and planets, no longer mused her. She longed to be back where she belonged.

“Chate! Hey! You in there?” Zach said, waving his pale hand in front of her face.

Image via Pixabay. 

She glanced at him, brown-green eyes reflecting the stars. He smiled, holding up a bag, perfect white teeth shown. “I found some decent food in this place!” he exclaimed.

He opened up the bag, revealing fruit. Actual fruit. Chate gasped upon seeing grapes in the bag. They hadn’t had those in ages! Since the trees in the agriculture bay (actually just an old landing bay that went unused so long people started reusing it for more food) had started dying, fruit was only used for needs, not just to eat. She looked at him, first in wonder, then accusatory.

“Where did you get these?” she said, gesturing towards the fruit. He smiled innocently.

“Now, let’s think theoretically here. I might’ve taken them from the kitchen on the third floor, but I might’ve gotten them myself…” he slowly stopped talking as he saw the ‘I’m totally judging you’ look on her face. He shrugged, calming down, and offered her the pick of the bag. Chate rolled her eyes and sighed, and grabbed the grapes. He sat down in a chair beside her, and they ate the fruit.

The ship rocked back and forth. Zach screamed like a little girl, and Chate wildly grabbed the arm of her chair. When the ship came to a level position, and the gravity settled, Chate laughed. Zach made a humiliated face.

“What the heck was that?!” Zach practically yelled.

“We must’ve gotten too close to the starfield. We are gonna be fine,” Chate replied.

“I don’t know, I’m going to put on my suit. I’ll be back.” and he left. Chate glared after him. He was going to put on a space suit because he was scared. Rolling her eyes, she looked back at the window. Wow. The ship was going closer than usual to the star. She stood up and looked closer. They were getting too close.

She backed away from the window, running to her room. She ripped open the door. She was going to take Zach’s advice. She grabbed the close-to-skintight spacesuit off the hanger and quickly put it on. Holding the helmet, she walked out back into the hall.

Okay, Chate. Think. Step one: find Zach. Step two: go to pods. Two per pod. She would get Zach into a pod with her and the autopilot would take them to the closest colony or another ship… The ship rocked again, and Chate stumbled into the wall. Okay, she was freaking out. She was running down the hall, she was finding her friend. She was going to live.

Image via Flickr.

She burst through doors, running through halls, going on autopilot. She was oblivious to the warning sirens, and the silence between red-light screams of the artificial noises. The panicked cries of people made her run deeper into the ship. She finally saw him. They ran to each other, hugging in the almost empty halls. The window beside them radiated heat. Both friends put their helmets on, running side by side to safety. The sirens screamed, the people panicked, the pods launched. All they cared was that the other was safe.

They stepped into the pod. The hydrolic door sealed behind them. Liftoff.

To be continued…

Should I Come Out?: The Big Question

Sun, 11/12/2017 - 18:49

By Jiala Devine, Staff Reporter

As an openly queer person, the question I constantly hear is something along the lines of: Should I come out? When should I come out? How should I come out? How did you come out?

Here is the thing…. there is no answer. I had to learn this the hard way but coming out, whether it be to friends or family or even yourself, depends entirely on what makes you comfortable. Here’s why, you need to come out for you. It sounds obvious, but I’ve seen close friends come out when they weren’t ready because people they are close to pressured them or because someone set up an arbitrary coming out time restraint. Fun fact: there’s no time limit! Don’t be afraid to think selfishly when coming out.

Image via Flickr.

If your entire friend group came out and you didn’t, that’s okay. That doesn’t make you weak or not brave enough to “just do it,” you just aren’t  ready. If you overcame some great obstacles and came out but your friend group didn’t, that doesn’t give you the right to guilt them about it or out them. You aren’t braver or stronger, you just felt more comfortable with the sacrifices you had to make, or didn’t have to make, at a different time than them.

We keep forgetting this generally, but you don’t  have  to come out to everyone (or anyone, for that matter). If the idea of coming out to everyone in your life feels impossible or generally uncomfortable for you…. then don’t. You do what’s best for you. Outing shouldn’t be some required right of passage. It’s simply a choice you have the ability to make if it best suites your individual needs.

How should I come out? This question can, at times, be harder to answer than the original “should I come out” question. The answer, however you want. Not everyone needs to throw a party or do a grand gesture. You could slip it casually into conversation or send out a mass email or sit down with your loved ones and openly say it. No way is the right way and no way is the wrong.

Image via Flickr.

We live in a time where everything feels like it needs to be a big well planned production. Is there anything wrong with a big production? Not at all, but it’s not necessary. It doesn’t even have to be on purpose. I came out to my relatively conservative mother by accident. So just do you, because at the end of the day, however you express your identity should be for yourself, not anyone else.

Of course, all of this is way easier said than done. Way easier. We all struggle in every aspect of our lives to figure out what makes us comfortable. It’s probably going to take some time and you may constantly change your answer, but that’s okay. And if coming out was super easy from the get go: good for you, dude! If it wasn’t: good for you, dude! Our differences and changing thoughts are what make us human. Simply put, come out however, whenever, and to whoever is best for you.

If you have any questions, comments, or a cool story, feel free to tweet @Washingteensays or use our submit page!

(P.S. I run the twitter so I’ll happily respond to your queer questions!)

Guess what…

Wed, 11/08/2017 - 17:45

Thank you for reading our work!

TLC’s Escape the Room Challenge 2017

Wed, 11/01/2017 - 20:10

Wondering why we’ve been a little quiet lately? We’ve just been busy! The Teen Library Council planned an Escape the Room Challenge from start to finish. First, we brainstormed ideas for potential themes. Our chosen date was close to Halloween, so we decided on a creepy motif: Clue/1940s noir.

Our members researched examples of escape rooms in libraries and the types of puzzles commonly used in professional escape rooms. Puzzles were chosen and props were constructed. After a few meetings, we had the beginnings of the first floor of a mansion a la Clue!

Then, it was time for the fun part! The teens were completely in character as characters of their own design with fun names and eccentric backstories. We put our room together and filmed an introduction video to explain to participants why, exactly, they’d been trapped in a mansion:

Halloween, 1944. There was a dinner party, but the host was murdered before dessert could be served. There were several suspicious characters in attendance, but whodunnit? Someone called the police and, in the confusion, many guests took their leave rather quickly. But some attendees were locked inside the first floor of the mansion! There’s 15 minutes until the police arrive! Figure out who murdered the host, why they murdered the host, and how they dunnit before the cops show up those locked inside are framed for the crime. 

We had several groups attempt to escape the Teen Library Council Escape the Room Challenge. About half of them solved the puzzles and made it out just as the timer was about to run out. The other half of groups were trapped and framed! 

Now, a TLC member is working on a short story inspired by this mystery! Stay tuned if you want to find out whodunnit…