The Oak Tree of Azalea Lane

Grace McGowan ’26

There was an oak tree at the end of Azalea Lane. It had been there for as long as anyone could remember. Its branches were sturdy; the tree was strong and beautiful throughout winter and summer, storm and calm, night and day.

When it was warm, we would skip down the dirt road, hand in hand, while birds chirped and a breeze blew through our hair. We would have tea parties and picnics under the wide canopy of the oak tree. When it was cold, our boots would crunch in the snow as we trudged to the tree, our cheeks pink. We would wrap a scarf around its trunk and make snow angels a few feet away. We even ran to it in the pouring rain, coming back from it drenched.

The tree was where our best memories were made: huddling under a threadbare blanket, our backs against the trunk, staring up at the sky as it started to snow; hanging upside down from the branches, our hands clasped tightly together, hair hanging, the feeling of being slightly nauseous.

It was where our childhood was nurtured and protected in cradled arms. Laughter was plentiful among the branches, from small giggles to loud, suffocating laughs where you can’t breathe. There were lots of smiles, the kind that were like home.

There were tears too, the kind that only left emptiness in their wake. Like us, the oak tree held both the good and the bad.

We couldn’t stay there forever, but that’s not what mattered. What was important was that we were there, in the moment, laughing and crying and smiling, and most important of all, we were together.

We noticed the tree dying slowly, branches falling, leaves withering, and trunk graying. On the day the oak tree was finally cut down, we stood and watched, hand-in-hand. It fell. Our hands slipped from each other’s, and we went our separate ways.


Grace McGowan ’26

The candlelight reflected in her eyes as she pulled away, her breath still warm on his face. She smiled.  

She slipped out the door. He paused for a moment, then yanked the door open and raced down the hallway, his feet slamming against the floor carpeted in velvet. He narrowly dodged his younger sister, who had a book open and her eyes glued to the page as she walked. She looked up briefly and scoffed.  

“Sorry!” he called behind him.  

“Fool!” she shouted back.  

He paid her no attention, and kept barreling onwards.  

They thundered down the spiral staircase, the wood creaking alarmingly.  

Through the gallery and the dining hall and the library they ran, and then… he lost her.  

He stood in the doorway. He didn’t bother backing up; he decided he knew where she had gone.  

He walked to a painting hung on the wall, pulled it open, and entered the secret room.  

She brought her arms around his neck, resting her head against his, and then—

There was a knife straight through his heart.  

The candlelight reflected in her eyes as she pulled away, her breath still warm on his face. She smiled.  


Matthew Frosaker ’23

My dog sits on the couch staring out the window. Her eyes are pink and droop low with green goop on the sides. They look so human. 

 In the time my mom is out of the house, Bella enters a painful depression. Time stops, and she is left alone waiting for the door to open so she can live again. When that door opens, she experiences true love and joy; the pain was worth it. 

 If you graphed her happiness and sadness, then averaged it, the data would show no emotion: a simple stream of nothingness. This is the same for everyone; the heroin addict who spends half his life waiting, and the office worker who doesn’t feel much at all.  

The highs in our lives distract us from the truth: that there’s nothing and never will be. I often ask myself, do I want to be like my dog or an office worker. I could feel so strongly, then so terribly, in torturous swings, or I could feel nothing at all, and my life could blend into a lifeless grey.

When put like that it doesn’t really matter. 

A Lot of Meat

Ryan Ganz ’24

There is a piece of meat on the ground 

It speaks its last words 

It’s such a thing I’ve never heard, so profound 

Were its mutters, murmurs and such 

They touched my mind more than my heart 

I plucked the thoughts from my head, I put them in my hand 

And I watched as my hand contorted into the shape of a man 

The meat was bright, it shone like life 

And its death meant I got to live another night 

Its death meant I got to breathe 

Its death meant I got to see 

The brightness blossomed into such forms—

Forms of its likeness, and something more 

More systems, more balls with atmospheres 

More gardens where I am free to plant whatever man I like here 

Man as in “humans” encapsulated in summary 

Man as in, before men and women were a thing 

Before people paid attention to different fools 

Before they recorded their blues and views 

What was it like? A god like me could never know 

I am nothing but a force that shifts to and fro 

Lost and Found

Zoe Bocek ’24

A classic, white, low-backed lawn chair behind a classic, peeling-paint, white picket fence atop a well-trimmed, recently groomed, green grass lawn, is where he died with a handmade porcelain mug in his left hand. And when he died, he did not drop the cup right away; it stayed in his relaxed palm upon his thigh, still steaming. Still steaming.          

It was no longer steaming. Especially because it had begun to rain after a few hundred units of time. And though the rain wasn’t hard, it was fast and long-lasting, and every time a drop landed in the mug it slipped slightly off to the left of his thigh. The wet denim of his jeans provided good friction. It took quite a few raindrops until the not-steaming-mug tumbled into the muddied grass lawn off to the left of the low-backed lawn chair streaming with water. Hand empty.  

At one point he opened his eyes and realized he could move. Wiggled his fingers, reached up to press the glasses further up his nose, but too late realized that he had no glasses on. Confusion. Because when he lifted up his hand, his hand did not rise, and he did not feel his finger contact the spot between his eyes upon his nose where his glasses usually rested. He couldn’t feel his glasses. 

He couldn’t feel the flimsy white lawn chair, 

He couldn’t feel the cold soft raindrops, 

He couldn’t feel the cold at all, 

He couldn’t feel the clothes on his body or the breath in his lungs or the tongue in his mouth,

It seemed he had lost his sense of touch entirely, 

Which didn’t stop him from feeling a whirlwind of panic and horror, especially as his eyes caught his pale pale pale skin and his ever-paler outline. His eyes caught the porcelain mug which, though it had fallen, rested on its side in the pillowy landing of the grass. The contents within had spread out into the dirt and mud so that it was unclear if there was ever anything in the mug in the first place.  

He stood up from the chair.  

And tried not to notice that the grass didn’t stamp down beneath his feet.  

So instead he looked back to his corpse that sat peacefully in the classic low-backed white lawn chair… pale… gray… sunken…. His glasses were streaking with raindrops so much that he couldn’t have seen anything if he were still in there.  

If vomit could rise in his throat, it would. 

A dead man sat on a lovely lawn, grass dewy and shivering after a recent downpour, with a peaceful look upon his face, hair dripping the old raindrops. The porcelain mug was now in the grass, sunken into the ground slightly with a few strands of grass curling over it, accepting it into the earth. Unfortunately, the dead man had sturdy rubber soles to his leather shoes and so was barred from the earth’s outreaching grasp.  

Even if someone were there to look closer, they would not see the man’s ghost sitting with his corpse, in the same chair as his corpse, in the same position as his corpse. They wouldn’t see the ghost’s eyes lingering on a spot in the distance, nor would they notice the eerie stillness of his outline.  

They would just see the pale blue sky that emerged behind those passing rainclouds, and smile at the fact that raindrops still dripped off the trees. Otherwise, it might not have rained at all.  

The ghost lingers, as ghosts are known to do. 

Ghosts like to see what happens to their bodies. 

Usually, when ghosts wake up, their bodies are already buried deep in the ground or contained in an urn.  

But sometimes they aren’t. 

Sometimes the body is in a hospital bed, braindead, but not bodydead. Those are the weirdest situations. Seeing your living body and knowing the folks sitting around you with some hope left for your soul still being in there are misled, misguided. For some people, that’s painful, but some people don’t have any folks waiting for them there in the first place.  

Sometimes the body is in a lake, or a river—unfortunate circumstances as they are—but ghosts don’t usually stick around to watch their bodies bloat and be eaten by fish. 

Sometimes the body is off the edge of a cliff, or buried under snow and ice, where you know you won’t be found.  

But it’s most rare to find a body in a residential part of town decomposing behind a white picket fence with no living person to find them. Even rich people with no friends would have some agent coming by to see why they haven’t been monitoring their stocks. You know you can’t be complacent for even a moment if you want to keep your graphs in the green. Green lines. Green grass. Nicely mowed lawn.  

After an especially biting storm, wind had cocked the corpse’s head to one side, which threw the whole careful balance of the corpse off-kilter. After that storm, the weight of his head started pulling his body to the right (the corpse’s left), and while cautiously slow, the man began to slump down further and further to the right, his upper arm wedged between the weight of his head and torso and the bending plastic of the now off-white lawn chair. The ghost could swear he could feel an ache in that arm, at that specific location. Must have been the placebo effect. Because even in the rancorous cold that was clear from the frost-tipped grass, the ghost couldn’t feel a thing. 

Rain and wind came, and went, just as sun and clouds did, but the man did not go. His body still sat, or slumped, upon the dirt-speckled lawn chair. Then, it had not rained in a while and the grass was not quite as crisp and green as it had been on the fateful day so long ago. The ghost tried not to look at the sagging skin of his corpse, or any of the other things.  

So instead, the ghost looked anywhere else, cloud-watching, birdwatching, bug-watching, and listened to anything else, cars passing, twigs snapping, nuts cracking in the mouth of a small squirrel. Once he heard before he saw—a loud crash and then a muffled thump, and he turned just in time to watch a bird fall after it had flown straight into the window of the house he used to live in. Hopefully it had just been stunned. One corpse is already one too many, and two ghosts would be far too many. In this mixed moment of relief and brief sadness, the ghost saw another little ghost rise out of the bushes where the bird had fallen. It must have died, after all. On the edge of deciding whether to say something or do something, the man was startled as the little ghost chirped and flew off into the distance. 

He stilled for a moment. 

And he left his post by his corpse to look into the bushes. 

The corpse of the little bird, the chickadee, lay in the dirt. 

He looked down at it, then up at his own, then off in the direction the bird had flown.  

And he walked away.