At the beginning of the year, the students learned the importance of word choice and figurative language in developing the tone and mood of a piece of writing by reading and analyzing an excerpt from “The Waters of Babylon.” As we worked through the lesson, the students drafted and rewrote a paragraph about a time they felt a sense of foreboding. On the MP 1 test, they had to write the final draft of that paragraph for the essay. Because some of the students did such a remarkable job, I decided to share some of them here.
- The moment we drifted around the curve, I knew something terrifying was going to happen. I got uneasy about it and a little uncomfortable. I prayed to myself hoping the feeling I had was a bunch of nonsense. My seat belt locked up and the force of the airbag was like a bat hitting a baseball. I was slammed to the back of my seat and I couldn’t move. I could feel the crushing of the car. It made me cringe. A mailbox flew high in the air, hit the windshield and landed on the hood of the car. The car started smoking and it was almost like the road had grabbed us and threw us into the huge, heavy, wooden fence on the other side of the road. Choking and coughing through the smoke, I was in shock. The fence was pinned up against the tire and my side of the car. The emotions that were going through me were unbearable. I closed my eyes tightly, hoping I could get out of the car, I said to God, “Thank you for keeping me alive.” I got out the car, the minutes felt like years before someone got there to help us. My mom and family arrived and I felt a sense of relief. The feeling of the stretcher against my back moments later, made me sick. I could feel the rush of the ambulance weaving in and out cars, making turns, and going fast. I never thought I would feel the sense of not knowing if everything was going to be okay or not, was going to occur so soon in my life. When I got to the hospital and admitted into my room, my mom was right there beside me. I knew right then, when my mom held me, that everything was going to be okay. (Megan H.)
- Bang! The sound of the gun firing took my breath away. I felt as if my stomach was on fire, and I was shaking all over. The monstrous sound had me on the ground, praying that the bullet that had landed on the tree beside me hadn’t been intended to come any closer. My heart was pounding, as if it was trying to hurl itself out of my chest. The only light that I saw on was a porch light on a home that looked as if it was miles away and there was no way for me to get there. All I saw was darkness everywhere, if the person who shot that gun was anywhere near me, I wouldn’t be able to see them if they started to load it again. I felt small and fragile in this giant tree infested woods. I was panicking, and someone somewhere out there was watching me, and I sensed that they were laughing too. (Lindsay C.)
- I listened apprehensively to the people ahead of me taking the scale test, and watched my turn stalk closer with nerves and dread dancing a tango in my mind. My heart was fluttering like a trapped bird somewhere near my throat, matching my panic, and I seemed to have left my stomach somewhere else. Wherever it was, I was willing to bet it was feeling queasy. My hands shook and my palms sweated as I wished franticly that I could be somewhere else too, like my faithless insides that had skipped out on me. I had hoped that I wouldn’t get to my turn today, but it didn’t look like that was about to work. I was a deer in headlights, blindingly bright reality staring me in the face, and all I could do was wait to be hit. Slammed, squashed flat by my inability to play a single note. Every second spent waiting seemed interminable, endless time to consider every possible mistake I felt sure I was about to make. I felt entirely helpless, unable to do anything, trapped in my chair. (Lauren M.)
- I was anxious, worried, I was bringing home my first “F”. My parents would probably kill me, they would not care the rest of the class failed, only that I did not study. I dreaded having to give my parents that paper, so I stalled every way I could think of; I checked the mail, but all we received was an advertisement for Bright Room Tutoring, and I walked extremely slowly to put off my swiftly approaching moment of doom. I apprehensively opened the door, and warily walked inside. On my way to the room my mom was in I started to to sweat, and by the time the ordeal was over I had lost over ten pounds of fluids. My mom was in the computer room reading the e-mail my teacher sent her about me failing the test. She got up, and slowly walked over to me, her footsteps sounded like those of the seven horsemen of the apocalypse. She glared at me, and I slowly drew the paper out of my bag. Worriedly I handed it to her, and stood there as she looked at the paper for five minutes. By the time she finally looked up I was standing in a puddle of sweat. She opened her mouth and said to me… (Nick M.)
- My name. I can’t believe she just called my name. It’s only my second year on the tennis team and she already wants me to play a single’s match! All the blood in my body just rushed to my ears at the sound of her calling my name. Thump. Thump. I can feel my racing heart, my numb legs, my clammy palms. I’m going to screw up. I always find some clumsy way to screw up. What if my hands get so sweaty, I lose my racquet? What if I shake so much that I topple over, or what am I going to do if my heart pounds right out of my chest? The pressure of it all is now multiplied. I can feel the stares like lasers piercing through my back. Why does the sky weigh a million pounds? I don’t think I’ll even be able to stand up, but my legs have a mind of their own. Apparently my arms do too. Shake. Shake. “Nice to meet you. My name is Brett.” (Brett A.)
- Spin, spin spin goes the ball in the opponent’s hand. I had butterflies in my stomach as soon as she looked at me from across the court. I knew she was getting ready to serve the ball right to me, but I wasn’t even prepared it! My heart was beating so loudly that it sounded like an elephant running across wood. Here comes the ball over the net, fast and hard. “Move your feet”, my brain tells me, but they’re glued to the floor. Two seconds later they move, but I don’t move quick enough. I thought I was going to vomit from all the nerves and the butterflies. I can’t believe I just made that mistake! I just think next play, focus on the ball, and don’t be nervous! The girl prepares for her serve again. This time when the ball comes over the net, my teammate gets it but she makes a bad pass and the other team gets a point. Next serve, toss-set-smack, comes the ball right to me. I dig it up, make a good pass, and enable us to get a kill! I felt on top of the world as I conquered another terrifying experience during game. (Victoria A.)