It’s the end of the course and I can honestly say that I enjoyed English 111. It was not that I didn’t think that I would, but that I thought I would get a boring teacher who wore tweed jackets and sounded like Ben Stein. I thought every assignment would be boring and forced upon the students, us dragging ourselves into class, dreading the minute our instructor would walk through the door. It wasn’t like that.
Our assignments were challenging more to our creativity than our logic. We had to figure out how to take what we would learn and infuse it with our different creative views and witty sarcastic natures. It was the first time I had ever been in a class where most of the people were sarcastic people, including Paul Gaspero, the instructor.
I can not choose an absolute favorite assignment, but the one that I put most of myself in, the one that had most of my personality was the "What You Believe" paper. It allowed me to think about what made me who I was, what values had been etched into my soul. It was something that could make me stand out with a voice I had only used in journals or when I was out with friends. It allowed me to be me.
My second favorite was the "Rhetorical Analysis" because, though I don’t plan on ever running into my classmates outside of school, the ones who reviewed my work got a look at who I was behind the make-up and smiling face. I realized that smiling was my cover for pain and just recently learned of other girls doing the same thing because they’re hiding just like I was. The assignment allowed me to open and honest about why I am the way that I am. It allowed me to talk about things that most believe would take years to get over, but not me. I grew from this paper, realizing what things I had forgiven people for and what still hurt me to some extent.
The assignments I hated were the "Diagnostic Essay" and the "Revised Diagnostic Essay" because when I write like my paper is a story, I don’t like maximum word counts. To me it hinders the creative flow, though there are sentences that can be cut, sometimes the paper can lose some of its emotional pull or sensory because it was above the word count. I write drafts of the same book, finding different ways to say things, but I don’t have a set word count. When writing a story, one just has to write and see where it takes them. Then they can start cutting out parts. With me, sometimes in these two essays, it was as if I were murdering my paper because I could not allow it to grow as much as I knew it needed to.
Also, I hated the Bruce Springsteen documentary. I know it was about his creative process, but we seemed to use him as an example more than anyone. Sometimes I wanted more examples, someone aside from our instructor’s personal views that we could take notes about.
This course is not a soul searching course nor is it about becoming a rock star. The work is real and the deadlines are serious. It does prepare one for the actual world because even if something is late, it has to be done. Like, even if someone says they’re sorry years after the incident, it still needs to be said. Even if someone doesn’t finish the analytical report, it still needs to be done. It is just common sense and a far way from high school English classes.
This class wasn’t for everyone which explained why some dropped it. It’s a class that doesn’t take mediocre work or slackers. If someone can’t handle real deadlines and real consequences, but just want to coast by through life, this isn’t the class for them. For someone who wants a challenge, who wants to be pushed, and to have fun in the process, this is a class I would recommend because the classes that can change one’s outlook creatively and logically are the ones that really matter. Otherwise, it’s just a class on someone’s schedule.
There was a high pitched ringing in my ears as I regained consciousness. There were rushes of feet on the gravel and the reflection of flashing lights on the rain soaked street. The strap of the seat belt pressed against my windpipe as I continued to hang upside down. My vision blurry, I couldn’t even focus on the man trying to pull me out of the car. His voice was a mumble in my ears though he was speaking normally by the look of his face. As he pulled me free from the restraint, I looked behind me at Magdalen, my best friend, who had shot through the car’s windshield, her upper body twisted, head turned to look at me with her eyes wide, lifeless and haunting.
I screamed myself awake in the passenger seat of my boyfriend’s car. The car swerved and came to a stop.
“Reina,” Rider said, undoing his seat belt and wrapping his arms around me, “it’s okay. I’m here.”
After minutes of sobbing into his leather jacket, we resumed our trip to the cemetery where Magdalen’s funeral had taken place five hours ago. I had been asked by her parents not to go to the funeral because some people saw it as my fault and they did not want any type of uproar. It had been hard to do, but I understood why.
“Reina,” Rider whispered, reaching over to take my hand in his, “we don’t have to do this tonight.”
I looked at him in his dark grey t-shirt with a black leather jacket that clung to his upper body. His brown hair was a total mess as if he woke up with the bed hair and just ran his fingers through it. His calm blue-grey eyes were focused on me, worry in his eyes as if he were scared I would fall apart. It was understandable for him to think I would. He had also thought I would be mad at him for having Magdalen and I drive all the way to the airport in Norfolk to drop him off that night, but I wasn’t and I wasn’t planning on breaking down either.
I squeezed his hand in reassurance. “I’ll be fine,” I said with a forced smile.
That seemed to calm his nerves and he opened his door and came over to my side and let me out of the ’67 black Impala. The cemetery was quiet as I stepped out of the car and made my way to the freshly padded down pile of dirt. Her grave stood alone from everyone else’s.
I kneeled over grave and placed my hand on the settling soil. It was cool to the touch, yet there was something there. I looked back at Rider who was looking down at the ground and then his eyes shooting off beyond where I stood and into the distance. He was trying hard to give me the time he believed was my right to have. He was so careful around me these days as if anything could make me break down in tears. The thought made me smile and more alive than I had been feeling for the past five days. Then I felt a tug. Not a physical tug, but an emotional tug coming from the grave. I went back to concentrating on that feeling that something was different. I had been to cemeteries before, but I felt some type of pull that was deeper than skin. I screamed and Rider ran to me, trying to pull me away from the grave, but I stayed there on my knees as a migraine built, as blood started dripping from my nose. I screamed as the feeling of overwhelming power took over my body and shot into the Earth.
I fell back into Rider’s hands, completely exhausted when I heard it: the scratching of nails against wood. I looked up into Rider’s eyes and saw the fear in his face. We started digging with our hands as fast as we could, clawing away at the dirt. I heard screaming, panic stricken. I dug faster until I reach the top of the mahogany coffin.“Maggie,” I screamed back at her, “Rider and I are here. Just hold on.”Rider ran to his car, coming back seconds later with a metal crow bar. He pried the coffin open and inside lay Magdalen. There she lay, hair drenched with sweat, eyes frantic and scared. We pulled her out, her falling on top of me crying. Magdalen was back from the dead and I was confused beyond belief.The next morning we drove over to the only person Rider could think would answer questions about what had happened. Phoebe was a witch and she had understood.
“To be honest,” she said, “the likelihood of you dieing for even five minutes and no one knowing about it is very likely. Crossing over for even five minutes can be like five hundred years. You came back and now you can connect with the dead. Some people have even been able to revive the dead, but you have to be careful. This is the type of power that if the wrong person found out, bad things could happen.”
“Like bring back Hitler bad?” Rider asked.
“I guess,” I said, “I’ll just have to take it one day at a time.”
What else could I do, right?
The rain tapped against the passenger window as I stared up into the darkened sky. It had been two days since my best friend Magdalen and I had driven headfirst into a concrete wall due to hydroplaning. She was dead on site and I had survived with only a couple of scratches. It had been a regular day starting with work and then lunch. I never expected that day would be the last lunch I would ever share with her. I still remember the smell of the coffee I had ordered and how she laughed when she said, “Caffeine and you is never a good idea.”
I never once took my eyes away from the passing trees as we reached the cemetery. My boyfriend Rider and I decided that it was only right that I at least went to her grave after the funeral. I had been asked by her parents not to go to the funeral because some people saw it as my fault and they did not want any type of uproar. It had been hard to do, but I understood why. Their family was a very vengeful one.
The cemetery was quiet as I stepped out of the car and made my way to the freshly padded down pile of dirt. I could not cry. I wanted to, but I had been drained of all types of emotion. Her grave stood alone from everyone else’s that night. Maybe it was because I knew her and I did not know the others. Actually, it was probably because she had been the only person buried that day.
I kneeled over grave and placed my hand on the settling soil. It was cool to the touch, yet there was something there. I looked back at Rider who was looking down at the ground and then his eyes shooting off beyond where I stood and into the distance. He was trying hard to give me the time he believed was my right to have. I wanted to say something to him, but standing there in his leather jacket, blue jeans, and black boots with that saddened, lost look, I could not bring myself to tell him I was fine.
Then I felt a tug. Not a physical tug, but an emotional tug coming from the grave. I went back to concentrating on that feeling that something was different. I had been to cemeteries before, but I felt some type of pull that was deeper than skin. The wind started blowing along the skin of my bare hands as my head started pounding with the worst migraine I had ever felt. Rider ran to me, trying to pull me away from the grave, but I stayed there on my knees as my migraine built, as blood started dripping from my nose. I screamed as the feeling of overwhelming power took over my body and shot into the Earth.
I fell back into Rider’s hands, completely exhausted when I heard it: the scratching of nails against wood. I looked up into Rider’s green eyes and saw the fear in his face that I knew he also saw on mine. We started digging with our hands as fast as we could, clawing away at the dirt. I heard screaming, panic stricken. I dug faster until I reach the top of the mahogany coffin. I screamed back at her, telling her it was me and that it was all going to be fine. Rider finally uncovered as much as he could and opened the lid.
There she lay, hair drenched with sweat, eyes frantic and scared. We pulled her out, her falling on top of me crying. I had no way to explain what had happened and, truly, a part of me did not car. Magadlen was back and it was the happiest and the most confused I had ever been.
The next morning, having fallen asleep in the back of Rider’s car, we drove over to the only person Rider could think would answer questions about what had happened. Phoebe was not Wiccan but a witch and she had understood. She told us that because of my near death experience I had probably died for a short amount of time and no one had told me, and that it had effected me supernaturally. It was confusing but it was the only thing that could have happened and made sense.
I brought my best friend back to life. A week later a car hit a little girl’s dog and after I touched it, he was fine. Phoebe said that I need to be able to control my power because it was meant for good but there’s no telling what would happen if the wrong person found out of if one day I brought a whole cemetery back to life. I told her the only thing that I could think of at the time: I guess I’ll just take it one day at a time.