Waiting patiently, or not so patiently, in the endless rows of what seemed to be stationary cars, she knew this ride home would be agonizing. Her eyes grew wide and her mouth uttered a curse word after she realized she had once again forgotten something all the way at work, an hour in the opposite direction. Her watch read 3:38 pm, she calculated in her head how much more time it would be until she reached her daughter’s school. She let out a sigh as she took in that she would be late to pick her daughter up, again. She let her head fall onto the steering wheel, not remembering that there was the place that activated her horn. Right away she snapped up and looked around her at all the eyes coming from surrounding cars. The traffic started to move a tiny bit. It relieved her knowing she would be around those people who saw her make a complete fool of herself. Still slowly inching forward, she came upon a large billboard. Unlike every other huge poster stuck on the side of the highway this one grabbed her attention. It had one big word in all capital letters, PEACE. As she approached it, she saw a question underneath it, where is it? “Well, it’s certainly not here.” she thought nastily.
After another 45 minutes of sitting and sitting some more, she had finally come upon her daughter’s elementary school. She was disappointed with herself, “How can I keep dong this to her?” Her 7 year old daughter walks up to the car with a content smile on her face. The door opens. “Honey, I’m so, so – “ “Mom, it’s okay, I still love you”.
The car ride home was nearly silent, until her daughter muttered a familiar question that she had heard earlier that day. “Mom?” “Yes, Sophia.” “What is peace?” Her mom glanced at her daughter, confused as to why she was asking her this question. “Why, sweetheart?” “Well today this boy in my class was talking about how he wished there was some peace in his house and I wanted to see if I could bring him some peace because he was real upset.” Astonished, she looked at her daughter and thought back to the billboard she saw today. She thought about the peace in her life, where it was. She was looking right at it, right now. It was her daughter.
It has been going on since anyone could remember, even grandparents had once patrolled their territory, tied bikes to fence poles, and sometimes even daringly let air out of bike tires.
But today, the children awake knowing things are changing. They check out their windows: the Westies look for shells placed on their windowsills, and the Nor’easters look for a small blue rock on their porches. They squirm at breakfast, answering only in monosyllables, until hearing an anxiously awaited fake bird-call. They jump on their bicycles and hastily pedal after their friends to the long abandoned playground.
At the park’s west end, the leader of the Westies, Carl, holds up his hand, halting the rest of the children on their bicycles. “Now remember, the playground is ours. No matter what they offer us!”
From the east end, the leader of the Nor’easters, Dana, holds up her hand, stopping the row of children behind her. “Don’t worry; the playground will be ours only. I won’t take anything for it!”
Both the Nor’easters and Westies slip onto the playground as the sun rises to its fullest height startling one another. An awkward silence falls.
“So—“ Carl and Dana both begin at the same time, then stop, then saying again in unison, “Okay, what should we--”
Dana takes control “Ok, so if we’re going to agree to thes ‘peace treaty--“
“Armistice,” Carl interrupts.
Rolling her eyes, Dana continues, “ Whatever. But we want the candy store, and the skatepark.” Some Nor’easters nod their heads forcefully and cross their arms.
Not to be outdone, Carl counters. “We get the toy store. And the library.” Several of the Westies back him with nods and jutted-out chins.
“The playground is ours,“ both begin to say. They glare, the unexpected peace of the moment shattered.
Dana breaks the tense silence. “We get the playground. We already have the park. Why don’t we give you the craft store, if you want it that bad?”
“No, it’s not yours, it’s always been neutral ground. And we don’t even want the craft store. Why don’t we give you the community center for the playground? That’s more than a fair trade,” states Carl angrily.
“Yeah, says you,” scoffs Dana.
“Can we share?” suggests a Westie, to mutters from the rest of the children.
“What would be the point of that? We’d be fighting all the time over who gets to use what,” retorts a Nor’easter. The children nod.
Some of the Westies notice they and Nor’easters have the same bicycles.
“Guys, this is ridiculous. We agreed to make a treaty, not another problem. What if we try to share the park for week, then continue this later if it doesn’t work? Carl suggests heatedly.
Considering, Dana silently spits in her palm and holds out her hand.
Carl hesitates, spits, and shakes.
2013 Fourth Prize Written Winner
So, Yeah, Peace
Adriane Martinez, 17 yrs
What are you doing after school today?
Nothing, want to hang out?
Sure I got the new “Call of Duty.”
Alright see ya there.
Hello, how are you doing?
Well my family and I survived the bombings.
One hit just on the other side of our neighbor’s house.
Only the daughter is left
I don’t get it why don’t we just bomb them?
They’ve got nukes pointed at us, let’s strike first!
They don’t like us, why should I like them.
They’re all horrible
Dad, Mom, when will we have food?
-A Blank Stare-
Drink some water it will fill your stomach so you can sleep.
Well they’re here; the government hasn’t done their job
A wall is that so much to ask for.
Why can’t they just come in legally?
They don’t deserve to be here.
Mom why did we cross through the river?
We don’t have the money to cross any other way son.
Lo siento hijo
A teenager, who doesn’t understand what he has
A family, in a region that is never silent
An ignorant, who doesn’t understand
A hungry child, whose parents can’t feed them
Someone, who has forgotten the dream
The family, in search of the dream.
What About Peace?
The abstract concept.
The unspoken dream.
The abused right.
The hungry hope.
The lost idea
But still, here