Katie Ching is an 8th grader at Sammamish River Valley Online School. This is her first appearance in the Youth Review.
The lifeless mannequins all donned tutus made of smooth silk and embroidered with intricate designs. The striking liveliness of the designs made them look trapped in their tiny glass display cases, as if simply removing the glass case would be enough to make them burst into dance. They were exactly the sort of things you’d expect to find in the National Museum of Ballet, but Anne wasn’t here to steal those.
In the darkness, she could barely make out the silhouettes of the display cases, but she had the layout of the whole museum engraved in her mind. The high-pitched shriek of the alarms went unnoticed by Anne, the only sound she was focused on was the beeping of the keypad as she entered the code for the display case. The alarm stopped but the guards would still be rushing in soon, she could hear the pounding of feet against marble floors. Or maybe that was just her heart.
She could see her starstruck reflection in the glass of the display cases and hear her breath come out in shallow puffs as she stepped back, making room for one of the walls of the case to reach the ground, creating a ramp. Now she finally had what she came for. A plain tulle tutu, there was nothing remarkable about it, yet she still looked at it like it was a sacred treasure. Slowly, her trembling hands reached forward as her fingertips brushed the skirt.
The doors slammed open as the guards burst into the room and Anne snapped out of her trance. Not because she was about to be caught, but because she ripped the skirt. And suddenly, glass shards from the cases were flying everywhere, catching the dim light of the moon and skidding across the floor. The mannequins, headless, armless, and lifeless began thrashing around, as if they were trying to fight the guards. Anne felt like air was being sucked out of her lungs and she collapsed to the floor.
Next to her limp body was a small gold plaque.
“It is rumored that the spirit of the deceased ballerina is trapped in the fabric of the tutu.”
Salina Miao is an 8th grader at Redmond Middle School. This is her first story with the Youth Review.
Bam, bam, bam! That was the sound of a rock hitting a door consecutively. Jennie was desperate to find out where her best friend and colleague had disappeared to.
It all started when Jennie and Jenna were driving up the steep and windy road to the start of a hike. They parked their car in the dusty parking lot and Jennie went to pay for parking, while Jenna got their backpacks out of the trunk. Once Jennie finished at the parking meter, she placed the ticket on the dashboard and checked their car of all valuables. Good thing she did because Jenna had forgotten her phone in the car. A naughty burglar could have easily stolen it.
They then walked to the map and discussed their route for this weekend.
“Should we hike to the Rocky Road or to the Plain Plateau,” Jenna asked.
“The Rocky Road,” replied Jennie, trailing the road on the map with her finger.
“It’ll be bumpier and “The Plain Plateau” really does sound plain. Do we have all the essentials packed up? You know, eight liters of water, four servings of food for each of us, a rain jacket, a GPS tracker for each of us, a warm coat, a first-aid kit, and most importantly, if something goes wrong, a tent to spend the night in along with a sleeping bag.”
“All clear! Let the fun begin! Oh wait, before we begin, I need to use the restroom quickly, be right back.”
Jenna heads to the portable bathroom. After spending five minutes in there, Jennie felt the situation had started to get concerning and went to check on Jenna.
“Jenna, is everything alright? It’s been quite little bit.”
There was no response, except for the eerie sound of a stall door.
“Jenna, if you can hear me say something,” Jennie said, urgently.
There was still no response.
“Wooow…” The wide-eyed, innocent small children of Lemon’s Facility For the Troubled And The Young gasped, their glossy pupils glued onto the frail, yet powerful woman that was their teacher.
“Tell us another story! About you, Mrs. Adeline!”
She sat on a worn-out little wood stool in front of the class, speaking in a hushed, dramatic voice during the telling of the story.
The story of her past..
“Alright, alright, settle down....”
She smiled, her head remained motionless, but anyone could feel her gaze laid upon them.
What a strange woman.
“It all begins in 2020. The year I was born. Hard to believe it’s been only 30 years.” She sighed, looking at an inconspicuous plant in the corner of the room. Holding its gaze for a few moments before standing up abruptly, beginning to pace in front of the children.
“You see, when I was born, we thought our golden years were over. That technology in America had peaked.” She chuckled, although not without a hint of bitterness.
“When I was two, the Teleport, better known as the Port, was first invented. It teleported small objects to a place of your choosing. Then came the TellerPort, which could teleport anything, big or small. And then the Transport. It could take humans and animals. Finally, in 2031, the Time Traveler was invented. I don’t need to explain that to you, do I?” She laughed a little.
“Anyways, after that, tech took a different turn. They started working on robots, but I was still stuck with a fascination with the concept of time. I was creating time loops, paradoxes, breaking the laws of time that were put in place simply to protect everyone from the dangers of having this much power.”
“What a fool I was.” She sighed again.
“We should be expecting her soon… I’m sorry, children.”
A blinding light filled the room. The children covered their eyes, throwing themselves onto the rough hand-knitted carpet, trying to shield themselves. A few of them burst into tears, confused and shaken.
The light dimmed until it was back to normal. But it was not back to normal. There was a lady, dressed in a plaid pinafore dress. She looked to be in her early twenties, with a stern, slightly sad, expression on her face.
She looked to be a younger version of Adeline.
“I’m sorry, Addy.” Her voice was clearer, softer, higher.
“This is all because of your meddling. Your fault. Your fault.”
The older Adeline tilted her head downwards towards the ground. Nobody could know what she was feeling, if not for the small droplets of tears that fell from her pit of shame.
She took her younger self’s hands, and took one last look at her students that she considered to be her own children.
“I knew this day was to come… I dictated this rule myself, but a small part of me… didn’t want to leave. It’s for the best.”
“Because you see, I was the one who reset our technology. I am the culprit.”
And with that, she was whisked away forever.
The younger Adeline watched the scene play out, rolling her eyes.
“Well, looks like I’m going to have an interesting life. Better start living it.”
She shot a grin at the traumatized children, before disappearing herself.
The Spring Festival, more commonly known as Chinese New Year, is the most important holiday in Chinese tradition. The Spring Festival marks the beginning of a new year in the lunar calendar which ancient China used. Unlike the Gregorian calendar used by most of the world, the lunar calendar is based on the moon, so is often changing, adding and subtracting months as needed. This is why the date of the Spring Festival is inconsistent, though it is always in the range of the end of January and the beginning of February.
Though the Spring Festival celebrates the new year, many activities actually take place on the previous night. On the eve of the Spring Festival, almost every single family in China would gather, and eat a feast of union. Different families will have their different traditional foods, ours are dumplings and babao (8-treasure) rice.
The most important color of the Spring Festival is red. When the holiday approaches, people will wear red clothes, tape red paper cuttings to the windows, and hang couplets. People would hang the character “Fu” (good fortune) on the door. In the morning of the Spring Festival, kids will get lucky red envelopes under the pillow containing money as a ward against evil.
Another important tradition of the Spring Festival is fireworks. My first memory of fireworks is when I was really young, maybe 4 or 5, at my grandparents’ in Yunnan in southwest China. I used the kind in the shape of a stick, if you light the end, it would sizzle, and bright sparks would jump around it. This kind of fireworks is really fun, because you could wave it around in the air and draw shapes with it. Afterwards, the smoke it emits would stay in the same shape for quite a while against the dark night. The bigger fireworks are terribly loud, but once they explode, there is no other sight like it: colorful light exploding in circles. Even though I always cover my ears, my heart still thuds with every explosion.
There are arguments that the holiday shouldn’t be called “Chinese New Year” because China isn’t the only country to celebrate it. But in Chinese it is simply called “chun jie”, which translates to “spring festival”. It is the western world that named it Chinese New Year.
Regardless of what it is called, the Spring Festival is a time of joy, when families unite, and celebrations are thrown.
Sophie Wang is a seventh-grader at Pine Lake Middle School.