Thursday, December 22, 2016

In a Deep and Dark December

The snow may not be falling yet, but winter break is almost here, and the darkest day of the year is already behind us!  We are proud to bring you both poetry and an essay this month.  The poetry is inspired by parallel structure, using repetition to artfully arrive at an insight.  The essay is about tracing an obsession to its roots, its beginning. And can you name the classic song that inspired our title for this month?

We hope this month's post brings you some inspiring reading during your time off from school!


It could've been prevented.
If only . . .

If only you weren't stubborn.
If only you listened.
If only you went to the doctor.
If only you weren't sick.
If only you didn't always deny the fact that you weren't feeling well.
If only you made the call.
If only you went to the hospital weeks before.

If only it wasn't too late.
If only it was a dream.
If only it didn't happen to you.

If only I could have prevented it.
If only I had forced you to see someone.
If only I could build a time machine.
If only I asked you if you were okay more often.
If only I could've been around more.
If only I dragged you to the doctor.
If only I could go back.
If only I said goodbye in time.

But it's too late . . .
You're gone.

You and your sister have the same face.
It hurts every time I see her, cause I also see you.
I miss you.
She misses you. She's not the same since you left.
She sees the light in life, but it's harder when you're not there to guide her.
She's different, she's changed.

I've changed.
I'm not the same.

It's been what, four years?
Four years without you.
Four years ago cancer took you away.
You fought beautifully.
But it wasn't enough to keep you here.
It wasn't enough to save the kindest soul that God has ever created.

If only you were here...
If only cancer didn't exist.
If only I could go on with life.
If only there wasn't a gaping hole in my heart where you should be.

If only--

by Grace A., Grade 9 

artwork by Sophie M., Grade 8

Growing Pains

I was a little over one year old the first time I spoke,
And even then, even at so small, my parents knew I would be a talker,
A rambler, a storyteller.

I was seven years old the first time I dragged out the miniature keyboard I found buried in the bonus room upstairs and began to record notes until I found an arrangement I appreciated, to my parent's confusion and wonder.

And even then, before I reached the fifth grade, my parents knew I would be learner,
A thinker, a mind so malleable it was practically clay.

I was ten years old the first time I was painfully aware of the emptiness of my lunch table,
The first time I realized I pushed a little more than I pulled, that the silence was as comforting as it was empty.
And that was the first time I realized I liked being alone, but even more, I hated being lonely.  

I was twelve years old the first time it came clear to me that I was sad a little more than I was happy,
The first time it was clear that my tears flowed too freely, that I craved even a word from a stranger.
And that was the first time I knew I needed someone, anyone, if I wanted to escape the dark that plagued me. 

I was fourteen years old when found myself giggling for no reason, with people that had no reason to like me but did.
That was the first time that I realized my heart no longer crept into my throat with jealousy every time I looked upon people that were so painfully and obviously happy, that I knew I had the potential to finally be a full piece of a person. 

And that was the first time I knew I deserved to be happy.

by Jessica I., Grade 9 

artwork by Grace S., Grade 8

The Roots of My Obsession: My Baseball Glove

11:43 PM. The bright screen of the desktop illuminates my face, for it is the only light in the house. The clicking of the mouse fills the room, and it is the only noise: Attempt number twenty-one of creating the perfect glove. Red . . . no. Navy blue . . . closer, but still no. Then it all comes together like two pieces of a puzzle. I furiously put in the options: the lace length, my name font, and the webbing type. I have done it, the perfect glove, and the glove of my dreams. It’s a Wilson A2000 size eleven-and-a-half. The baby blue and grey melt together like a glaze on a cinnamon bun.       
A baseball glove is the most important thing for a baseball player. It catches the ball to make outs, and if you don’t have outs then your team won’t get to bat to score runs. And if you don’t score any runs then you can’t possibly win the game. So you see, the key to winning all comes back to a good glove. As early as I can remember I was always having  a catch in the backyard with my dad. Baseball was -- and still is -- a religion that I eat, breath, and sleep.
It is the longest three weeks of my life waiting for my beauty to arrive, like a wife waiting for her husband to return home from the war. Every day after school I go online and track my package like I was tracking an enemy ship. Long days pass until after school on one seemingly ordinary day. “Ding-dong”. I become Usain Bolt and the doorbell is my starting gun. I sprint as fast as I can down the stairs, each thump meaning getting closer to my destiny. As I approach the door I see a man wearing a brown UPS uniform with a glove-sized package. “Hi, I have a package for a Mrs. Mary B.” My hope then dwindles. I take the package and close the door.
I slam the box down on the table as I suspect it is for my mother. I plop on the couch and think, “Wait . . . I used her credit card to buy the glove!” I stand up and I am Usain Bolt once again, darting for the package. I extend my commute to the scissors. I grasp them with my hand shaking and pause. I take a deep breath and slice the box down the middle and see something like never before. I delicately open the bag with my forefingers, and a rush of leather scent flies into my nostrils. I become a surgeon and take the glove out of the box without touching the sides. I put the glove on my trembling hand. My hand greets the newest member of my family with nurturing and love.
If I am at practice or in a game, every time that glove wraps my hand in laces and leather, it feels like the very first time. I get that rush and emotion that bubbles inside me like hot water.  I use that as fuel to play better. This glove makes me the baseball player I am today.

by David B., Grade 9

And now for the recipes of the month, discovered, as always, by our editor Emily. Enjoy!

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Hot Chocolate

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

November's End

The leaves may have fallen, but the poetry has not!  Enjoy two poems and two works of art to finish off the last days of fall.  Afterwards, bake yourself a pie with our monthly recipe link.

We Cry the Tears

We cry the tears that shield the certainty

Drowning in their own bouquet of sorrow,

To hide our terror-stricken lips and eyes,

The answer to our helpless cries

And heart with so little love.

When does this cover-up end,

Lives forming and falling down this twisted path?

Yes, we can see the looming future,

But still we cry the tears.

Blinking and prying back these clear water scars,

To hide the regret that stains the skin,

We whimper but the water is too deep,

Our self is quickly changing, drowning

But somehow a new day comes and so do we.

We cry the tears.

By Sarah R., Grade 8

artwork by Sophia M., Grade 8

Eyes see but are blind.

Ears hear but don’t listen.
We sit in the present, there but not living.
We talk but without purpose.
We smile, but it’s fake.
We laugh but without emotion.
We eat but don’t taste.
We say thank you and please but don’t realize what it means.
We breathe the air trees give us but continue to extinguish woods,
For development, for homes, for a Wawa gas station.                                                                   
We marvel at animals but continue to chase them towards extinction.
We warn future generations about the warming world but close our eyes to our contribution to the greenhouse effect.
We say sorry but without remorse.
We urge people to think world peace but continue to declare war in our small lives.
We say "don’t bully," but we say wounding words with intent to feel good about ourselves,
Whether to friends, foe, or family.
We say be thankful for what you have, but we take everything for granted.
We humans are peculiar, from how we continue to learn so much, experiment with and defy the basic laws of nature.
We explore things only known to the creator, looking into space and genetically modifying curiosity to expand with our consequence.
We are scientists, doctors, teachers, engineers, and musicians.
But we are also betrayers, ignorant, stubborn, thankless, and thoughtless.
We need to heed our own advice, learn from our mistakes, trust each other the way we would like to be treated, laugh truly, smile genuinely, see the world as it is, listen to others with your heart, be truthfully sorry, and live the life that is meant for you, not the fake one some choose to live.

by Samantha P., Grade 8

artwork by Nick S., Grade 8

Our monthly recipe is for Apple Crumble Pie.  Enjoy!

Monday, October 31, 2016

What We're Cooking Up This Year

Welcome back, all you Holicong Colonials, to the 2016-17 Literary Magazine.  We know that you are curious adventures, and this year we are venturing off into new territory, and extending our "culinary" flare. For example, there will be a themed recipe posted every month. So come and explore the vast entertainment and edification of sevenatenine! We are glad you discovered us!

The Fallen Angel

artwork by Angie B., Grade 9
A fallen angel
Thrown from the sky     
Wings torn from his back
Unable to fly

A broken angel
Now bound to the earth
Neglected, unloved...
Doubting his worth

A tormented angel
Once strong-willed and fierce
Now cowers in shadows
Holding back tears

By Julia B, Grade 8

Wisdom from Wawa

            The droplets of rain, dappled across the car windshield, blur the headlight hues into resplendent orbs.  Faintly at first, the distant roar of thunder could be heard.  A moment later, the thunder rolls angrily, closer than before. This is no ordinary storm, though.  The thunder, it seems, is emanating from my stomach.  “Um, Mom,” I sputter, “can we, uh, stop at Wawa?”
            “Sure hon,” she replies curtly, almost oblivious to the storm within me, ripping my conscience apart.  I breathe a sigh of thunder and a spark of lightning flashes momentarily in my eyes. 
            Excursions to the Wawa have become a ritual.  Wawa, to me, is a sacred place – it’s heavenly gates guarded by somewhat enthusiastic employees, its aisles stocked with Tastycakes and :Lay's chips.  Within its walls, I have tread many a time.  Among all the Italian hoagies and chocolate milkshakes, there hide life lessons, and I think in my many hours perusing the store, I’ve stumbled upon a few of these.
            Once, years ago, I stood below the iconic lemon-yellow sign that reads W-A-W-A.  I threw open the doors with the vigor of a four-year-old thrashing open birthday gifts.  The scent of a million sandwiches enveloped me.  Quickly, I grasped one of the touchscreen kiosks that had revolutionized the art of sandwich ordering.  I contemplated each one of the many options.  With all the many hoagies staring back at me from the luminescent LED screen, I felt that to select one would be to condemn countless others.  In a moment of decisiveness, I tapped frantically, knowing the routine well. My pointer finger bolted from the “little bit of mayo button” to the “extra cheese option”.  In a moment, it was done.  A little slip of paper was ejected from the machine.  It read in its bold black print: “Shorti Italian Hoagie.” I shivered with anxiety, yearning for the sandwich, dreaming of its tender meat and its creamy mayo, enclosed neatly within a toasted roll of white bread. 
In those moments, waiting, I was taught patience by Wawa, a patience so strong that I could stand silently when every muscle in my body urged me forward.  I learned from Wawa, that in waiting, the pleasure derived from that first bite of succulent hoagie is increased ten-fold.  Now, whenever I wait for the molten sauciness of a meatball marinara or the classic spiciness of a sloppy joe, I stand there with a knowing grin spread wide across my face, content with the knowledge that what lies ahead is worth the wait.
Later, in the car, I cautiously unsheathed the Italian Hoagie.  I took a moment, just to indulge in the beauty of such a wondrous creation. The waxy paper that the sandwich was once wrapped in capered in a gentle gust of wind.  The scent of fresh-cut salami, wafted throughout the car.  This was a moment of companionship — just a man and his sandwich.  My glossy brown eyes suddenly lost their luster.  My smile suddenly morphed into a frown.  I utter a single solemn word: “No.”   There was a massive glob of creamy white mayo sitting innocently among the meat. I shuddered.  After all the waiting, the anticipation, the love I had developed for my sandwich, it was broken, shattered.  The damage had been done, the action irrevocable.  Wawa had lied.  The little bit of mayo button was only a ploy to get unsuspecting 14-year-old to spend an extra three cents.  My sandwich had been sabotaged.  This was not a little bit of mayo. 
That day I had spent four dollars and eighty-two cents on an Italian Hoagie.  What I didn’t realize was that it had been a bargain. In the process, I uncovered an invaluable gem of wisdom: In life, you can’t always get what you want.  This holds true even for Wawa hoagies – in fact, especially for Wawa hoagies.

Wisdom is not always gleaned from the likely places. Today, I stand, practically a sage, and I have Wawa, my favorite convenience store, to thank for this wisdom.  Thanks, Wawa.

by Liam M., Grade 9

artwork by Angie B., Grade 9


His eyes were so cold,

and so were his tears.

His smile was stolen,

and so was his laugh.

His personality taken,

and so was his heart.

His family broken,

beat up and wounded,

just like him.

By Delaney K., Grade 8

Recipe of the Month: Pumpkin Spice Roll, selected by Emily W., Grade 9

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Allusion and a Fond Farewell

Miss Levin's ninth-graders concluded the year with The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and here is a poem one student wrote inspired by this book.


Exhaustion whispers me to sleep as the third day comes to a close
My dreams are dull and full of darkness since fear takes a hold of me

I hear the sleight sound of the symphony bird songs fading

But I don’t know why, but I would find out because the Orchestra was about to start

I’m so intend of dreaming that I don’t feel the faint sting on my skin
The feeling grows stronger making me wake up to a terrible nightmare

A fiery inferno is about to in gulp me in one swoop but my instinct react

I fall from my tree I was perched on like a young predator would do
When I land all I can feel is the burning ashes, dig their way into me

It’s devouring my flesh, causing pain runs its way through me

I try to awake from this nightmare but I can’t, this is the Hunger Games, this is real
I run from the hands of the death, trying to fight the pain and anxiety

But anxiety takes control of me and makes me fall down for death to take me

I can’t but think it’s my fault for this terrible death, this terrible event to happen
But then my hatred turns to the capital, their fault for me to die this way

I can’t give up this easily, I need to fight, for Prim, for myself, for revolt

I take a grasp on the anxiety and hide it for later
I grab my bow and my backpack, dashing through the woods like back home

I look to my side seeing a figure, it’s Gale! He’s here! We’re hunting together
“You can do this Katniss! You’re better than they are!” I hear him whisper

Then I see Gale fade into the flames, He’s given me courage to win
I shake my head trying to make the memories leave but then I see Cinna

He is hugs me, telling me in his soft tone that send chills down my back
“You can win! They love you! Keep the audience hooked”

Then the hug consumes me and the memory of him does as well
Cinna gives me faith of winning the games

As the fire plays it tricks on me while I’m running away from the inferno
It has showed me Gale and Cinna, who’s next?

I close my eyes and open them again, Its Prim
Of course it is, why it wouldn’t be, I fall under the flames spell again

I remember I told her I would win for her, and that’s what I plan to do

Well, we all made it to the end of the academic year.
And we'd like to thank you, our readers, for your loyal support.  After all, without you, we would not exist!  Now it's time to celebrate the year and all the ups and downs it has brought our way.
Think of taking the stand and appreciating the good things in life, stopping to smell the roses and never letting the thorns drag you back, as you read this powerful poem, created by Mr. Hepler and Mrs. Vogelsinger's students during a fusion poem activity.  They blended language from poems they found during National Poetry Month to create this fond farewell! And one last thank you to all of our editors for making this year's magazine great!

Artwork by Ethan V., Grade 9

The Art of Not Giving Up

As the script of life progresses,
Hold fast to your dreams.
Live simply and wisely,
Stay faithful, kind, and true,
And don't lament the things 
You will never have,
Control of,
Or do.

Perched on mountaintops,
You gaze down upon the awaiting world below,
Crystal waves crash,
Grandfather trees grow,
And golden grains of sand sparkle,
With infinite possibility and potential.

Step confidently forward, and the road shall rise to meet you.
Even when life is ravaged
By flaming hate,
A single asphalt flower
Shall rise from the ashes. Your love will not die.
Even when you feel like a bird with broken wings,
Don't let your spark go out.

Keep on trying.
Keep on fighting.
Don't forget to LIVE.
Be hopeful, but not oblivious to the future.
Stand your ground,
And take this world by storm.

by David H. (and his group), Grade 9

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Silence Poem

As the end of the school year approaches, please enjoy the final eighth grade post. In the following poem, Brearly S. presents deep thoughts into the topic of silence.


Peacefully, softly, tranquilly.
Water falling fast,
but soft

Blues, greens, teals show
as the sun shines
its bright rays
so quiet, so peaceful

The scene so quiet. The only thing heard
is the soft pitter-patter,
as water hits water.
So quiet as if
in its own bubble with all outside noises

Even the people who come
make little noise
almost as if they were afraid to disturb it,

As if the whole thing would shatter
with the smallest noise

by Brearly S., Grade 8

Artwork by Gillian S., Grade 8

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Pandora's Box

Enjoy this futuristic re-telling of the classic tale “Pandora’s Box”. Seventh grader, Juliana Z., uses her skillful writing to provide a witty twist to an ancient story.

Artwork by Zoe G., Grade 7

Pandora's Box
written by Juliana Z.

Happy birthday, dear Josi. 
The hazy image of her family appeared, singing, in her dream. Then, confusion.  
She saw things in her dream. A box. A note. Tears. The pace picked up. Panic. 
Happy birthday to you. 
Then she woke up. 
It was a bright Wednesday morning. She glanced at her calendar. November 11th. Her birthday. 
“Happy birthday, Josi!” her mother exclaimed, as Josi plodded down the stairs. She emerged into the kitchen and saw myriad things. A cake. Some presents. Her father standing at the stove. Her sister Grace sitting at the table. 
“I made your favorite, chocolate pancakes with rainbow sprinkles!” her father said, flipping a pancake enthusiastically. The sweet aroma of the chocolatey goodness filled the air.  
“Thanks,Dad," Josi said, as she plopped next to her sister at the table. Grace always seemed to manage to look beautiful, even in the mornings. Josi slightly cringed. She was often compared to Grace, mostly in weight, for she had the fastest metabolism Josi had ever seen. She thought of all the times people stared at Grace. All of the boys who came to their secluded house. All of the times Josi was forgotten.  
When she finished devouring the pancake, Josi grabbed her bag and hurried out the door. She hated how her family treated her like a baby, especially on her birthday. I’m turning 14, not 4. She thought as she walked down the driveway on the way to the Smart Bus stop. As she crossed in front of her house, something on her doorstep caught her eye. 
Josi was painfully curious ever since she was a small child. She glanced at the bus stop. She turned back to the box. It wouldn’t hurt to miss the bus once.  She thought. I’m sure mom will drive me. It is my birthday after all… 
She slowly walked toward the small, blue box. As she got closer, she noticed the smoky design seemed to float around on the lid. Pandora. She read on the box. Do not open until sunset. 
Josi” she turned around and saw Grace glaring at her from the hollow window. She quickly tucked the mysterious box in to her backpack and just managed to hop onto the bus. 
It felt like one of the longest bus rides in her life. She couldn’t stop thinking about the box. Just open it. A part of her thought. But it said not to till sunset. Thought another. She felt her curiosity eating away at her.  
Finally, after many attempts to temporarily forget about the box, Josi gave up. She glanced around at her empty bus. Her neighborhood was oddly small and separate from everyone else, so hardly anyone ever got on the bus. She started to reminisce about when her sister was on the Smart Bus with her, back before they separated the middle and high school. She remembered whenever anyone got on the bus (which was not often), they would plop next to Grace, completely ignoring the fact that there was another option to sit next to. Josi mentally shooed the thought away. Think positive. It’s your birthday.  
After spending what felt like hours on the bus, Josi arrived at school. It was a long, boring day with the occasional “happy birthday” as she passed through the hall. She could not get the thought of the box out of her head. 
Soon, it was her favorite period of the day. English.  
“So who could tell me about Pandora’s box?” her teacher said as she paced around the room. They have been learning about Greek myths for a while, but none have ever really caught Josi’s attention. Until now.  
“No one?” she continued. “Well, in the story of The Coming of Evil, it is explained that Pandora was given to Epimetheus to marry. As one of the wedding gifts, Pandora received a box with a note that read “DO NOT OPEN.” But, curiosity got the best of Pandora, and she decided open the box,” she paused, attempting to build suspense. And now open your books to page 245.” She finished, leaving them on a cliff-hanger. 
All throughout the day Josi could not stop thinking about the box and the Greek myth about Pandora. It was only for a second, in the middle of orchestra as her bow slid across the strings of her cello, that she temporarily forget about the box. 
Finally, it was the end of a long day, and Josi raced into her house. It was empty, as always. She was used to being alone since her parents were still at work by the time she arrived home, and Grace always stayed behind at school for softball. 
Josi threw her backpack onto the table and sprinted up to her bedroom, box in hand. This is it, Josi. She thought to herself. Time to open the box.  
As she felt the lid, she once again noticed the swirling pattern and the gold letters. But this time, there was another message written on the lid. It read Do not open until sunset, or there will be great consequences. Josi was furious, yet intrigued by how the message possibly could have gotten on the box. Enough stalling. She told herself. It’s your birthday, and you can’t let some stupid box tell you what to do. 
Josi carefully lifted the lid, and was surprised by what she found. It was a charm bracelet, and dangling from it was 5 detailed little charms, each one depicting an aspect of her life. I little cello swung as she picked it up. A slice of pizza, her favorite food, dangled as she examined the charms. A red book charm glistened as she read the note. The note.  
Happy birthday, Josi dear.  
Today’s a day that comes once a year.  
And for your gift on this happy day, a charm bracelet,  
and a price to pay.  
For each time you eat this and that,  
your body loses a pound of fat. 
She read the poem over and over again. What could it mean? It’s probably nothing. Just a hoax. Josi put on the bracelet and went along with her day. 
Dad and I are gonna be a little late from work. You can make yourself some birthday dinner. Anything you want, read Josi’s phone. She looked sadly at the screen. She was partly sad that her parents were not going to be able to have dinner with her on her birthday, but she was able to have anything she wanted, which contrasted with her parents’ usual strict rules.  
She grabbed a box of macaroni and cheese from the pantry and turned on the stove. Her bracelet glistened as she poured the macaroni into the boiling water. When it was done, she set up a nice place at the table and stared at the empty spots. Let’s see if this bracelet actually works.  
She took a bite of her macaroni and cheese. Nothing happened. Well that was anti-climactic, she thought. Suddenly, she felt a warm pressure in her stomach. She glanced down and saw that her stomach instantly got flatter. In her shock, she noticed that one charm had disappeared. It was the pizza charm, but Josi could not think of the one charm that was instantly gone. After finishing her meal, she decided to have a piece of cake. Once again, she took a bite of her birthday cake and felt the warm pressure in her stomach again. Like before, her stomach seemed flatter, but this time, her cheekbones grew and her face got thinner. This bracelet really does work! She thought, as she noticed another charm was gone. This one, even though it had slipped her memory, was important. The cello. 
The next day, Josi awoke, and headed down stairs for breakfast. She sat down at their table, noticed her flawless sister, and stared at the food. Even though she was starving, something told her to skip breakfast, so she did.  
“Good morning honey,” Her father said, tiredly. “You look a lot thinner, are you on a diet?”  
“Nope,” Josi replied quickly, trying to hide the fact that she has a magic charm bracelet that makes her lose fat every time she eats. 
She got on the bus, rode the lonely ride to school, and went about her normal day. Then came lunch. 
As she sat at the Smart Table, conversed, and ate with her friends, the same thing happened, only this time, her arms became a lot thinner. Also, this time she didn’t even noticed that her book charm disappeared. 
It was finally English class when Josi found that something was off. She stared at her book, which contained the story of Pandora’s Box in it, and was puzzled to see that there were no longer letters, but symbols. 
“Where did the words go?” Josi asked the boy sitting next to her. 
“What do you mean? They’re right there,” the boy replied, hastily. Josi stared at the symbols. She then realized that she could not think of what any of the letters in the alphabet looked like.  
Next period was music, but Josi could, for the life of her, not remember what instrument she played. She walked into the music room and awkwardly sat down. 
Josi, where is you cello?” the teacher yelled. 
“I play the cello?” Josi asked, confused. The class chuckled.  
“Yes, Josi. Where is it?” the teacher asked in an attempted to quiet the class. “Are you feeling ok? You look a little pale,” 
“I’m fine,” Josi replied as the class watched, hoping she would do something embarrassing. 
“Why don’t you go to the nurse?” said the teacher. 
“O-ok,” Josi replied, as she meekly walked out the door and down to the nurses office. 
“Well, you’re fine,” said the nurse, as she took a thermometer from Josi’s lips. 
“Ok” Josi said as she exited the office. “Thanks.” 
The bell rung right as she walked through the door way. Finally, it was the end of the day.  
Josi hopped on the deserted Smart Bus, looked around at the emptiness and sat down. As usual, she took out her snack. Her friendship charm swing back and forth as the bus shifted around on the road. The warmth was back, this time, on her thighs. She was in complete amazement, but felt odd, like part of her was missing. She chose to ignore it, since it only lasted a second. The bus stopped short, and Josi looked around at her small neighborhood. Something was different.  
“Hey, Josi!” said Josi’s neighbor and best friend, Rose.  
Hi?” said Josi staring at the girl like she had 5 heads. “Do I know you?” 
“Yeah… I’ve known you since kindergarten,” said Rose. “You ok? You look a little pale,” she asked, noticing the fact that her best friend forgot who she was.  
“I-I’m fine,” said Josi backing away, scared. Something was really wrong. Josi was terrified, for she was in a completely different neighborhood. Or she thought.  
This theory was disproven when she saw her house and her mother’s car parked in the driveway. Josi sprinted into the house, and ran upstairs to her room. She didn’t know why, but something was telling her to look under the bed. She peaked under, and saw a pink scrapbook sitting among the dust bunnies and soot. She reached under and slowly opened it. There, she saw, were picture of her and the girl she saw outside. The girls in the pictures seemed to be having the time of their lives together. How could that be me? Josi thought. I don’t even know that girl.  
Suddenly, she heard the creaking of her front door. Alarmed and speedily, Josi tucked the book back under her bed and slowly went down the stairs, uneager to see what awaited her when she got to the door. What if it’s another stranger? What if they want to hurt me? Josi slowly got to the door of the mudroom. She heard booms of feet banging on the ground. She opened the mudroom door ready to attack what was behind it.  
What a relief it must have been just to see her sister, Grace, standing there, confused as to why Josi was standing in a position ready to pounce.  
“Hey Josi,” Grace said, slightly creeped out by Josi’s abnormal behavior. 
Grace walked past the girl and went to the kitchen for her usual after school snack. As Josi watched, she realized that with all this scared adrenaline, she was hungry herself. Grace took out a bag of Oreos and started eating. Don’t do it. Something told Josi. Do not take a bite of those Oreos.  
But I’m starving, Josi replied in her mind. Just one can’t hurt, 
As Josi reached for the cookie, her final charm fell of and disappeared in mid-air. The family charm.  
She took a bite into the Oreo and once again, felt the warmth. This time it was all over her body. This time, it was a bright flash of light that Grace noticed, as she shrieked in fright. Then, Josi blacked out.  
She awoke in blackness. Blackness everywhere. She float, she felt light. A mirror then appeared before her eyes. She looked at herself. She then knew what was going on. In her reflection, she saw the epitome of beauty. Beauty beyond words. 
“Where am I?” Josi shouted at the blackness, sobbing. “This is not what I wanted,” 
“You’re beautiful, aren’t you?” said a voice coming from the mirror. “More beautiful than Grace?” 
“Well yes, but—“ Josi was cut off by the sound of her family singing. Her birthday. When this all started. 
“Then you got what you wanted,” said the voice, calmly with a hint of maliciousness. 
Happy birthday to you, 
Happy birthday to you, 
“No!” Josi screamed, sobbing uncontrollably. 
Happy birthday, dear Josi. 
 The pace picked up. Everything was moving quicker, quicker until -- 
Happy birthday to you. 
She woke up.