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AMARANTH 2019-2020

Zach Sackstein

A forward from Amaranth’s Editor in Chief - Maddie Corrigan

The Fascinating Thing About the End of the World

The fascinating thing about the end of the world is the sense of normalcy that permeates the fear. Despite the onset of danger, we claw and fight for the one minuscule thing that will make us feel at ease, so our lives are as predictable as they once were. It’s as if a meteor was rushing towards earth to make its final fiery statement, ridding the earth of all forms of life, and we simply viewed it as a shooting star, smiled and wished upon it.

The end of the world is not a novelty. Humans fear it, the media adores it. We are surrounded with tales of post-apocalyptic worlds, where relatable characters struggle to survive in a crumbling society. We flock to bookstores or movie theaters, seeking out these stories with only the smallest afterthought that it could be us in our adored character’s place. Writers dream up universes where our weaknesses are amplified and pushed beyond our control, ruining our beloved normalcy. As a young writer, the apocalypse is a shining jewel in our toolbox of ideas.

Yet as I sit at my desk, watching the monotonous black line on my blank document flash, begging for words to fill the page, I find my thoughts empty. Even after years of reading and viewing the same apocalyptic narratives told in a variety of ways, my inspiration is lacking. For, how can you write a story of the end of the world when you are living through it?

In reality, the COVID-19 pandemic is by no means the end of the world. For many, it simply marks the end of a chapter. The world we once lived in has been altered, and will likely never return to the same “normal”. It is an eerie feeling-- living through a horrible event that has been fantasized by many. Yet this slow crumble into a pandemic has led us to embrace a new normal. Putting a mask on in public and stepping far away while passing others has become a reflex. Signing into a Google Meet to attend class instead of pushing my way through the crowded commons to enter a classroom is simply a part of my routine. Prom and graduation have both become a fantasy, not a real event I would attend. While this new world has become normal for many, it is unrealistic to assume that things will always remain this way-- which is why I decided to write a forward for the 2020 edition of Amaranth. I want to mark this point in time for future students, club members, and Editors in Chief, so what happened this year may be remembered.

March 13th, 2020, was my last day of public school. The state of New York has been under a “Stay at Home” order for upwards of two months, and is expected to remain this way for more months to come. Facemasks are mandatory in public, and “social distancing”-- staying six feet apart from others-- is highly recommended. Most businesses are shut down and may not reopen. The country is under a state of emergency due to the rapid spread of COVID-19.

Despite the chaos ensuing around us, the Art and Literature Club has decided to move forward with an online version of our magazine. Through virtual meetings and communication with advisors, editors, and club members, we were able to complete our edition and publish it digitally, to celebrate the incredibly talented artists and writers who contributed.

The fascinating thing about the end of the world is the ability of communities to create our own normalcy. Despite the fear, anxiety, and sadness weighing upon most of us, we were able to find comfort in art and literature, for it is ever present in our lives. Creating art in times of crisis can bring feelings of ease, and mark the historic event that led to its creation. While my high school career has come to an unexpected and frankly heartbreaking end, I can smile knowing I was able to finish what I started with this publication. As a writer living through this pandemic, I only hope that the idea of the end of the world returns to being a literary construct, instead of reality.

Jessica Torres

The Suburban Dream

You know you have lived in the city for a long time when you come to Northport and the air seems different. I remember taking my first breath out here while taking a tour of my soon to be new house. I inhaled and immediately felt like I was choking on some Yankee Candle scent labeled pine forest, that you might give your mom on mother's day. This memory reminds of an article I read in my English class by Art Buchwald titled Fresh Air Kills. My English teacher described him as a man who was always in the newspaper, a household name. Being a city kid, that did not resonate with me. My only perception of newspapers was that a boy on a bicycle tossed them onto front porches for under minimum wage. It feels weird describing myself with the term city kid. Looking back on my childhood now, there was no need for that term to exist. Everyone I grew up with was a city kid and no one knew it because the thought of someone living in a house only came from TV and movies. The whole city kid vs suburban kid feels like two rival gangs fighting for pride like the Jets vs the Sharks or the Greasers and Socs. Going into my sophomore year at Northport felt like I was living the lives of the American classics. I was ready to walk into the commons with my fists up because the suburban kids wouldn’t appreciate a city kid coming in on their terf.

Ever since I had been exposed to the cliche of wanting to go to the city and become a star on Broadway, I felt robbed of that experience. I never had my Lea Michele moment, where she sees Times Square for the first time and gets to think about the small town where she first started. I always wondered what it feels like to be one of the hundreds of tourists that stop in the middle of all the signs and lights and take it in. Here at Northport, I get to live that experience. I get to stop and take it in. I am living the teenage life of the suburbs that I had always seen on Disney Channel. Riding a bike without having a fear of being hit by a car, walking in the forest and not hearing the bustling of cars. I am able to do everything I always wanted right here in the Suburbs. The thought of living in a house seemed like only a dream and sometimes a nightmare.

Even after living in this house and attending this school, it doesn't feel real. It’s like I have been living in a vacation home. Trees, fresh air, the bay are all very new to me. Trees cast unmistakable long dark shadows and now it’s the buildings that go unnoticed when I am walking around the upper east side.

Jonah Gold

Ethan Koenig

Goodbye

I hated to say goodbye. I’d been dreading it for months. The thought of it shattered my heart into a million little jagged pieces. How was I going to find the strength to utter the word “goodbye” to someone I loved so dearly? The prior 364 days had been some of the roughest yet best days of my life. But the day I feared, loathed and hated was sadly upon me. It was time to say goodbye to my lease horse, “Beautiful Day,” otherwise known as Baron. Baron was a fluffy dark haired horse with a caramel colored nose. His eyes were dark brown and when you looked into them, he held your gaze. I’d never met a horse with such sweet eyes staring back at me. Eyes with such a pure old soul behind them. I swear they shined. He was talented, athletic, and a prince in the ring. However, it was outside the ring that our bond really developed. This was the horse that gave me kisses for cookies, wrapped his head around me when I was cold as if he were hugging me and helped me through the hardest few months of my life while dealing with a serious concussion. This horse was special. He knew how to help me. He loved what he did and did it everyday, no matter what. But before I knew it, a year had passed and it was November 3rd, 2017. The day I had dreaded for a year. It was my last day with Baron.

My mom drove me to the barn to ride him one last time. The weight of our sadness felt unbearable. We were both silent.

“I can’t believe this is the end.” I said softly to my mom.

“I know, but think of all the good memories you had together.” she replied, trying to make me feel better. Yet, I still felt horrible. It was time to have my final moments with my trusted, loyal partner.

Riding him wasn’t what mattered most; it was the bond that was so important and special to me. He’d been my best friend and practically a therapist to me. How can you say goodbye to your horse, your therapist, and especially your best friend all in one moment? It killed me inside to do so.

I took my time tacking him up. I took in his smell. I rested my head on his neck. I felt his breath on my face. I stared at him and I wondered if he knew how much I loved him. Did I make him feel secure, happy and safe they way he made me feel? Did he realize how grateful I was to him for helping me through depression and sadness? Did he know that he was the reason I got out of bed? For several months, I suffered from intense headaches. I spent my days in my dark silent room. I couldn’t go to school, I was on anti-seizure medications and my world felt lonely, except when I was with Baron. In many ways, he saved my life.

We rode one last time together. As always, Baron seemed to be in tune to what I needed. He was relaxed, and I was able to relax and be in the moment. It was beautiful, just like Baron. We returned to his stall and I groomed him. Before I knew it my mom came over.

“The trailer is here.” She said as she walked over to give Baron a kiss. “I’ll give you a moment to say goodbye.” Mom was crying.

Tears rolled down my face. I hugged him and he looked back at me as if he were telling me, “It is going to be okay. You are going to be okay.“ I kissed him and thanked him. I loaded him onto the trailer. His head was sticking out and we looked at each other. We were saying goodbye. No words needed to be spoken. The trailer pulled out and just like that he was gone. My best friend was gone and all I could do was cry. I could barely breathe. I walked back to the barn and saw his empty stall and I felt an intense pain in my heart. I looked at my mom in agony and she understood. We hugged. We drove home. And like the drive to the barn, we drove home in silence.

I loved this horse so much. I still miss Baron, and I am sad that our time together was finite. But now, I feel grateful and very lucky to have had this majestic magical creature in my life. I now own my own horse. Otto is unique and wonderful, but he is no Baron, and I’m okay with that. Baron was that once in a lifetime horse that many riders don’t ever find.

By - Elizabeth Trodden

Aidan Sewell

Can’t Concentrate

Other than his soft breathing, and the impatient tapping of his pen against the desk, the office is completely silent. Jack raises his eyes from the empty notebook page. His pupils dart to look at his phone, then up at the open laptop. The email site is open on a separate tab next to his homework assignment. But there isn’t a single sound; not a single message.

The young man lets his pen drop to the desk and gazes out the window, letting out a heavy anxious sigh. A squirrel, nibbling on a dirty acorn, looks up at him and quickly dashes away. The young man frowns. “How am I supposed to think like this?” he grumbles and grinds his teeth out of frustrations. He leans his face against the desk and crosses his hands over his head. “WHY!?”

That day had started off like any other typical day, maybe better. Jack woke up that morning feeling more motivated than ever. In his head, he believed it was going to be a great day. Jack smiled at all the other college students he passed in the hallways and enthusiastically handed out high-fives to all his good friends. He almost got a 100 on a class test, and was feeling extremely proud of himself. He even got a few errands done around his dorm, and gave his car to be worked on by the students in the mechanics and engine class. He had complete confidence that today would be a great day.

At the end of all his classes for the day, he went back to his dorm room to work on homework. A picture of his family tree hung on his wall. Jack had always thought his picture looked weird. Well, not weird, but it didn’t look like how he saw himself in the mirror. His face was much rounder in the photo, and his hair has grown to be somewhat longer now. It was taken back in early high-school after all. Now Jack is in his senior year of college.

Jack’s gaze shifts to the picture of his younger sister, Madeline, whose picture is attached right next to his own. She looks so much like mom, Jack noticed. Both of them have the same tiny nose, with the same jet black hair.

The father’s side of the McGuire family tree had always been eerie. Every single generation had one major accident; a car accident. Some people have called it a curse. Some people say it’s just coincidence. Jack has never been too superstitious in his life. He didn’t believe in the supernatural. Even from a young age, he didn’t believe in Santa or the tooth fairy. His relatives, who have all lost someone in death every generation, called him insane for ignoring the proof.

He had already sat down and taken out his books when a sudden ringing came from his phone. “Mom” was written in big white letters at the top of the screen. He reached over a stack of books to pick up the phone.

“Mom?”

“Jackson! Where are you?” The voice from the phone demanded, sounding very concerned. “Your sister just had an accident.” Her voice quivered as she spoke. Very loud sniffling can be heard from the other side of the line.

“WHAT?” Jack’s eyes widened from the shock of hearing the news. A terrible feeling filled his stomach. “When did this happen? How did this happen!?” He starts pacing around his room, his mind full of dread.

“Maddy was on her way back from school, and-” she cries before getting cut off by the loud sirens that are blaring behind her. “-and a truck driver drove a red light and crashed right into her.” Between the sirens and all the people yelling around her, Jack hears her mother fall on her knees, sobbing. Jack doesn’t know what to say. He is absolutely speechless.

“Ma’am,” a deep voice speaks to Jack’s mother on her side of the line. “Are you Misato McGuire, mother of Madeline McGuire?”

“Yes. Will my daughter be okay?” She begged to know.

“The chances of survival are very low, but we’re doing everything we can. She has a few broken bones and has severe internal bleeding. We need you to come to the hospital with us immediately!”

At that, the phone abruptly hangs up.

This cannot be happening! This cannot be happening! This cannot be happening! This cannot be happening! This cannot be happening! This cannot be happening! This cannot be happening! This cannot be happening! This cannot be happening! This cannot be happening! This cannot be happening! This cannot be happening! This cannot be happening! This cannot be happening! This cannot be happening! This cannot be happening! This cannot be happening!

Jack hurled his phone across the room onto his bed. Clutching his hair in his fists, he continues to pace around the room anxiously before sitting on the cold uncarpeted floor with his hands over his head.

The curse is real. Of course! The truth finally sinks in his heart. Maddy is going to die.

Some time passes and Jack decides to call his mother to know what is happening.

C’mon, please pick up

Jack’s hopes go up when he hears his mother’s cheerful “hello!” through the phone, only to fall into despair when he realizes it is her voice mail recording.

“Mom! I need to know if Maddy is okay!”

Jack slouched in his seat, holding his head up with one arm that is leaning against his knee. He takes several deep breaths, trying to calm himself down, but the anxious voices in his head wouldn’t stop.

This is terrible. There is nothing that can possibly go right from here. Even if she lives, the hospital bills will be too much for mom to pay. She already struggles to earn enough for just the three of us ever since dad died in that accident. But the curse. I can already imagine mom’s devastated face. She lost almost everyone already. Now it’d only be me and her. This is not okay! I need to see Maddy one last time!

Jack picks up the keys to his car and rushes over to the engine repair class’s garage where his car was stored. He quickly backs out of the driveway and rushes over to the main road. His only priority: getting to Maddy as soon as possible. At that moment, she was more important to him than anything else in the world. He didn’t notice the student chasing after him, waving his arms frantically and yelling, “Wait! Stop! We didn’t finish!”

Sirens blare off in the distance. A vast crowd has encircled the wreckage in the middle of the street, everyone chattering to the other bystanders. Dozens of police officers tie police tape to block observers from trespassing. Police cars line up one after the other, and right behind them are several ambulances full of medical personnel, ready to jump out and take care of the victims.

“Check his vital signs!” One paramedic commands to the other as they hoist Jack’s blood ridden body up onto the stretcher. “He’s losing a lot of blood!”

“Sir, his pulse is extremely weak! I can barely feel it. He doesn’t have much time left!”

“We don’t have any time at all. We’ve lost him,” The chief paramedic sighs. He didn’t get there in time. He lifts his walkie-talkie out of his tool belt and speaks into it. “Dr. Madison, sir, we have a DOA.”

In Jack’s pocket, his phone suddenly shines from a notification.

Mom: The doctors said the surgeries were successful. Madeline will live! Hop in the car and come to the hospital. I know you’d want to be there when she wakes up.

Livia Stachura

Joseph Miles

Human Nature

You exist in a field of flowers Sunlight always shines down on you Bees float on as I stand for hours Breathing in the morning dew

They are there in a wild, grey cyclone Unwavering, violent, and pulsing with lust He steals me away in a coarse, dark maelstrom Branches bent to the will of the forceful gusts

They bolster me upward from this poppy meadow until I am choked with their weather-whipped fingers My spirit is wrenched from the gentle, blush, spring glow Your calm swept away, but the bare ground still lingers

May my head be so trapped 'neath my bluster-fell boughs that I cannot enjoy the vast, thundering clouds from your downy-soft lea in the wood where you lay? Or do strong limbs hold me from blowing away?

I let the wind take me on nights when the green turns too gentle and good for the young, restless me I am lifted so keenly, and keenly I fly Sharp words sever roots, I am thrown to the sky

My trunk not yet so tall to go on my own, I am ripped from your warm soil, where my first leaves had grown A harsh, sleeted wind falls a weak, broken tree The bark uncorrupted, the battered core bleeds

Its sap gushes forth with the life from within and is given, not tenderly, to fat, hungry winds Humid already from past seedlings' nectar A gluttonous gale settles mist o'er the stars

And in those fogged hours when my soul is in haze and all I can want is the storm to consume me, You stay in your field of the sweet, cloudless days Before the lost nights, when the rains let us be

Ask of a tree wherefore let the winds reach her In your clearing, protected by wise, mature woods But a bee cannot honey, nor a warm, safe glade shelter A blossomed tree open to old tempests' swords

Ask of the winds wherefore take a young sapling When the great earth is blooming with more seasoned plants? They tell you the small ones have no way of grappling 'Gainst currents that pull them with cold, vice-like hands.

Grace Freas

Grace Reuschle

El Paso Walmart Massacre Memorial Poem- 1/19/20 ‘Healing’

Here in the desert, among the sands

A beacon of hope, so tall it stands.

We mustn’t forget all those who died,

We must stand with those who cried

For hate itself is so pervasive,

When some say others are invasive

In this world we’re all one race,

yet some still fail to see the face of the people

An early August day, no different than any other,

Who knew we would lose so many brothers?

An early end they did not deserve,

We must continue to learn and serve-

The people who lost, the people who could,

let’s help them out and do what we should

Let’s end this war that others have started

And remember all those who have departed

Healing is the way, there is no other,

And still people ask, ‘Why even bother?’

Yet we push on, away from the past,

We must make changes, and make them fast

Aidan Foley

Tyjanae Orr

Control Freak

Clean, straight lines made with a precise hand

Crisp covers that betray no wrinkles

Folded clothes like resting birds

Fragile as a bubble

One rough wind

One misplaced trinket

One crack in the facade

Her kingdom shatters

She ignites, a bottled up

Volcano of emotions magma

Pouring on whatever disturbed

It, conflicted she does it, torn

In dismay like the jumbled highlighters bright as fruit

Dirt on the now crumpled bedspread

The missing article of clothing, lost on its flight

Her pale, spider-like hands spring into action

Crawl through the room, the web

Carefully rearranging each puzzle piece

With it comes the calm and serenity and peace

And the name, the label, the curse

Control Freak

Hope Jorgensen

Juliette Liberatoscioli

Strong

Bump Bump. Bump Bump. Bump Bump. Inhale-Exhale, Inhale-Exhale. Just keep running. If I kept running I couldn’t breathe, I couldn't think , I couldn't cry. So I just kept running.

It had already been dark for hours. The night was bleak, black and starless. The air was filled with what felt like ice shards. But my thin sweatshirt and my sneakers, that weren't even meant for running, would have to do. My phone had already been down to five percent;the cold was draining its fleeting battery fast. Every sprint would push the storm clouds farther from my head. But every time I stopped to take a breath, it was a tsunami of memories and sadness flooding back in. That's why I kept going and kept running.

Every new thought was a new stimulus to make me feel weak. Small. Scared. Sad. Stressed. Stupid. With each break I told myself that I wasn't good enough.

“You’re too weak.” “You’re too slow.” “You’re all alone.” “What’s wrong with me?”

My mind was my own prison, leaving me unable to escape what had left me feeling hopeless originally. I knew what had happened would change me and reshape who I was and who I would become. But at that time, I wasn't ready to accept the fact that things had changed. I thought I was breakable.

I would run the same hill. The steep crackled street, with woods on one side and a view of a field on the other. I pushed myself up and down the hill over and over with the wind scented of dirt and frost rushing into my nose and through my hair. The taste of salt staining on my lips from the few and small beads of sweat that would just survive the cold. When I was sure that I would break under the next step, I just pushed down on to my tired feet and kept going.

I heard a sound in the distance of a train whistle hissing through the air. Then I saw the lights moving. As soon as the body of the train came into view, I took off up the hill. I kept up the speed and bolted as fast as what I thought my frail body and legs could carry me. I made it to the top of the hill before the train was out of my view. I stood there and admired the swiftness of it --pure strength within its metal core.

As the train left, I realized I took a deep breath. It was a breath without weight. Without thinking about things that kept me down, I breathed easy. I realized that I had outrun my thoughts. And for the first time, I realized I was strong, not weak.

“I am strong.” “I can do this.” “I can get through this. ”

Strong in body as well as in mind, I knew I could do anything and be independent. I understood that I didn't need to run because I could get through the mental pain, head first. So I stopped running, I took my breath and I dove head first into my tsunami without fear of drowning.

You know how people call each other their rocks? As if that rock was the one thing keeping a person standing? The one strong stone that kept a person from crumbling to ash? Yeah, well I had that person. Imagine only having one person to talk to when all the bad shit happens in life. Imagine relying on that person for ten years and taking her in as family. Imagine caring for someone more than you care for yourself. Imagine knowing one hundred percent if given the choice to give up your life for theirs, you would without question. Just imagine...just think about it. Now imagine, in one second without question, the part of you that shaped you for 10 years, deciding she didn't want to speak or see you anymore, without warning or reason.

Elementary, middle and half of high school with only one constant. Her. My best friend, the girl my dad joked, but kind of meant, that she was his fourth kid. I gave up so much for her as well. I always tried to make her feel safe as she did for me. Teachers and other kids always teased that we were “twins”, “shared a brain”, or “tied at the ankles.” But there never will be enough words or descriptions I can give to explain how much I love her. She was my favorite person on the planet. More than my mom, brothers, dad, or even my dog. We always had our lives planned out and all of the steps throughout the way it was supposed to be us against the world. Never could I have imagined with the mere vibration of an impersonal text that she didn’t want me to be in her life anymore.

A decade of love and friendship and one text on a lame Monday night to end it. Why? To be honest, I still don't know and I probably never will. What I do know is she said I hadn’t done anything wrong, but that didn't help. She left me confused and in pain, crying and what felt like dying, so I had to run.

By - Ryan Pupilla

Willem Lynn

Mamas Stillboy

i am a mother who lost her son.

he was a Stillbirth. three months too early and unready for the world. unready to meet his mom.

right after my cesarean was complete, i demanded to see my uncrying, unmoving son.

“It would be best for you not to see him, miss.”

And so i didnt. my baby will always be black and white in my memory

in the sonogram his hand was open. i could see his little palm. He was reaching out for me. for his mother. i will never see my child again. i will never hold him, tickle him, rock him to sleep… i will never see him laugh nor cry- oh! how all these mothers bitch about the many sleepless nights spent comforting they’re crying children- while my sleepless nights are spent comforting myself. here, i am the crying child. what i would give to not sleep, not shower, not take a step outside if it meant i could be with my baby. watching him grow.

i never gave my son a name.

my son.

i often wonder if he would have wanted to be named

Chloe Hakanson

Caroline Hines

Odin and the Dead Girl

It was a long, cold night in the middle of a long, cold winter. The stars shivered in the black sky outside. However, inside Valhalla there was, as always, warmth, and lamplight, and the laughter of dead heroes drinking to their heart’s content.

Odin sat with his family at the head table. His son Thor was in the middle of recounting a quest a friend and he had taken to fetch a mile-deep mead cauldron the friend’s father owned, when there came a knock on Valhalla’s great golden doors.

This was peculiar for two reasons. Warriors, for one thing, weren’t apt to knock, and especially not warriors freshly dead off the battlefield. The winter was the other issue. Mortals had been dying aplenty, but none could spare the resources for war in such weather. Valhalla hadn’t seen new entries in months. Odin had been itching for fresh faces; he would know if there was a war on, and there wasn’t.

So who could this be?

The doors, though they started with only a creak as if someone was struggling to push the heavy elm and gold alone, banged open once caught by the winds. Those winds swept the room, cold blades reaping the warmth, killing the lamplight and the laughter. They howled and threw snow at the gods and the dead, and onto Valhalla’s marble floors. They whirled the snow outside, too, whipping it into an endless, storming sea of white that framed the figure in the doorway.

It was a maiden, deathly thin and icy-colored, with pale eyes and cracking lips, dressed not in armor but in peasant clothes. The wind flogged her back as she stepped inside the hall, and it slammed the doors shut behind her.

Of course Odin, the Allfather, knew that this was no warrior, for she had not died of any battle wounds. So he bellowed over the wind, “Speak, girl! Why are you here, interrupting the meals of kings and gods, if you have not earned your place? Who do you think you are?”

The girl strode forward, stopping directly before the god-king’s table. Her glare unfaltering, her voice as sharp as the winds that had brought her there, she spoke.

“Must I say why I am here? Are you not the Allfather, who hung from the World Tree for nine days and sacrificed an eye to gain infinite wisdom? Did you not see the battle I lost to the cold, to the wind, to my sickness and my hunger?” She held out an arm to show frostbitten skin, blue and red and rotten black, cracking and stretching, around brittle bone. She continued, her voice rising, “Are you looking for battle wounds? Because this is what I have. Or would you like to see my ribs as well?

“You say that I have not earned my place, oh wise and mighty Odin, but who do you think you are? You—who has never felt famine, or plague, or cold so deep it freezes the marrow in your bones. You—a god. Who do you think you are to tell me the struggle I fought was no battle?”

The girl looked up to meet the Allfather’s single eye. Valhalla, at her words, had fallen silent. A thousand fallen warriors stared, but the maiden did not budge.

The hall remained like this for some time, every eye fixed on the god and the dead girl. Warmth, chased away by the wind, crept back into the room. The goat-fat lamps slowly flickered back to life.

At last Odin spoke, rubbing his chin in thought. “You are brave to come here and state your case… and a solid case it is.” His blue eye twinkled. “I can appreciate that. What is your name?”

“Brunhilde,” the girl replied.

Odin hummed, and smiled like he did when a scheme came to mind. “Well then, Brunhilde,” and he raised a hand graciously, “I welcome you to Valhalla.”

Brunhilde opened her mouth to thank him when pain struck through her back. Light engulfed her form. She dropped to her knees and screamed, clutching herself as feathery white wings tore out from between her shoulder blades. Dark blood watered the floor of Valhalla. Her rags changed to golden battle armor, and a sword glinted to life at her hip.

Eventually, shakily, she stood. She stared in shock at her new form, at the white-feathered wings and strong-muscled limbs she certainly had not died with. Hand on the hilt of her sword, she fixed Odin with a new glare. “What did you do to me?”

Odin laughed and the hall looked upon him with confusion. “First, let’s discuss what you did. It’s not something many people have done, Brunhilde! You changed my mind.” He stood and declared, “You will never again feel plague, or famine, or marrow-freezing cold. You are welcome here, to our food and warmth and mead. From now on, you will be known as a Valkyrie—a battle maiden. You will collect the souls of those dead you deem worthy and bring them here to Valhalla, to drink with me until Fenrir breaks his chains and Ragnarok arrives. And…” Here he paused, and grinned, as if an even brighter idea had struck him. “And, if you find yourself lonely in your work, you may recruit other women with spirit like yours to join you!” He watched her, delighted by his plan. “Tell me, Brunhilde, do you find that fair?”

Brunhilde hesitated. She glanced around at the dead warriors, and at the other gods, and, finally, back at the doors to Valhalla. The hall was silent in anticipation of her answer. Outside, the wind shrieked on.

Did she find that fair?

Odin was making an exception. He was offering a place in paradise, but only in exchange for service. If she didn’t find her new place fair, if she said she would not serve him and he sent her away, what other place did she have? A place in Hel? Could she head back into the cold? Could she leave, and walk down with her head hung low, to linger in the dark and damp with the wailing dead until Naglfar came to fetch her for the end times?

No.

No, she’d come all this way. She couldn’t do that.

This was a job. It wasn’t the paradise she’d imagined, it wasn't fair, but it was better than the alternative, and it was better than where she'd been before.

The Valkyrie’s hand lowered from her sword. She straightened and held her chin up high. She fixed Odin in her strongest gaze. She would make the best of this. She had earned her place. “I do.”

Odin’s eye gleamed. “Excellent.” He raised his beer mug. “Let’s toast to that!”

Claire Freas

Thomas Harding

I fell in love with a maenad.

And part (all) of me wanted to live in that madness because She was a

Very attractive option

Hard muscle on birch tree limbs

Hunched in on herself, wound tight in her nerves

Eyes bruised with wired, bloodshot wit

Wild face with sharp teeth and sharper hunger (I think all the yearning was starving her to death)

Briary hair

So (in the damp, dark swamp)

When She stood (in wet grass, on the dirty balls of bony feet)

And offered me her hand (with long, twiggy fingers)

And, smiling ferociously, asked (ordered? Pleaded?):

Come live here.

Come live here with me.

I had to take her hand (which was very warm)

And lace our fingers (mine were always trembling)

And say:

I can’t.

I want to but

I can’t.

There are things I have to do that I can’t do living in madness.

So not yet.

Please wait.

Well, (her smile never changes but)

Her voice got soft and sweet

And She whispered in my ear

(she smells like grapes, and the dirt after it rains):

Then I’ll come home with you.

You can’t live in madness,

but you could live with a little.

(It might even do you some good.)

(And how could I say no to that?)

She was right, by the way (she often is)

A little madness did for me

What a little sane-ness did for her

(At least she isn’t hungry.)

(At least I’m not trembling.)

Claire Freas

Bridget Buckmaster
Olivia DeFeo
Ronald Templeton
Dessa Kavrakis
Kiersten Pitfick
Robert Gonzalez
Olivia Jaworski
Shannon O'Boyle
Shannon O'Boyle
Grace Reuschle
Sofiya Saykovska

Acknowledgements:

A big thank you to….

The Administration, for continuously supporting our school’s program of extracurriculars and for making our little production possible.

Mrs. Bodacious Baldwin and Mr. Dynamic DeRosa, for keeping us on track for the production of the magazine and working so hard to tweak things when our world turned digital. Thank you for all you do for us!

Principal Danbusky and All of Our Assistant Principals, for the continued support of Amaranth and our planned events.

The frontline and essential workers, for their endless dedication and hard work during these dangerous times.

And last, but not least…

All of the artists and writers who submitted to the magazine this year!