In One Breath
She was wearing red. No, it was white. Yes, a white blouse with subtle lace detailing at the collar. She hid behind a newspaper with her glasses on the tip of her nose. We could tell she was reading the comic section because a gentle smirk rested on her face. Her name was Mrs. Morrison, and we treasured the fact that we could call her our first grade English teacher. Her assignment to us was to write an essay—a small one. “Simple,” she would say.
I almost killed her with mine.
Carefully note the off-putting connotation of “killed” here. I do not say this to appear pompous or pretentious in any way. Judging from my six-year-old perspective, I literally almost killed her.
All breaths escaped in the form of hyperventilation. Children crowded around to examine the fuss. A look of great fear shone in their faces, as if to say “do something.
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Did I? Of course not. I was a complete and utter milquetoast.
Jeffery punched me in the back, which must have kindled a layer of gusto, because finally, I spoke.
“What? What’s wrong?” I stuttered.
“No….there were….no….periods….so I had to….read the….entire paper….in one breath.” She placed her hands on her chest and heaved a couple more times. She looked up at me with a grin and I couldn’t help but smile back. Witty, I thought. The same day I almost killed my English teacher, I also saved her life. It was as simple as a period.
That was the day I knew I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to hold with me the power of words, punctuation, characters and prose. I was fascinated by the word “defenestrate” and how many ways I could use it in a sentence. I couldn’t help but rewrite the food descriptions in the Olive Garden menu. When writing my high school essays, I never used semi colons, simply because Kurt Vonnegut told me not to. I was under the authority of words and literature, communication and syntax.
It was writing that sent me to Haiti in the summer of 2011. And it was writing that kept me sane through all of the emotional baggage that came with the mission trip. If words can do that, what more can they do? I’d like to find out.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you would like to be remembered as soon as you are dead, either write the things worth reading or do the things worth writing.” In my life, I plan to do both. Flagler College will help me get there.
When I first visited Flagler College, I regretted not bringing my journal. The view was so spectacular that even the most dog-tired author with a severe case of writer’s block could find inspiration in such a setting. The students were discussing ardently on benches topics that ranged from politics to the true meaning behind Brett Dennen’s song “Sydney.” The entire campus was surreal. Even I, the hopeless aficionado of words, couldn’t find the words to describe it.
The programs at Flagler are stimulating and unsurpassed. With a major in Communications, I can perfect my craft in journalism and savor my heart for deadlines, editorials, bylines, copy and coffee. Internship opportunities as well as The Gargoyle will further help me succeed in my goals. With a Creative Writing minor, I won’t forget the reason why I started writing in the first place: Fiction. And along with this Fiction, Flagler College will allow me to also familiar myself with writing poetry, nonfiction, film and drama. The creativity behind these classes will infuse my desire for words. Words I will never be able to escape. Words that will both help me and haunt me. For writing is not only a blessing, but an affliction.
After I’m finished writing this essay, I will look over it seventy more times. I will hate everything I wrote and I will sit by my bookshelf as if I can somehow earn the author’s brilliance by osmosis. I will read the first page of The Great Gatsby over and over until it is permanent in my head. I will discover an unknown word and use it as an insult. I will lightly touch the letters that make up The Fountainhead. I will play myself in Scrabble and win. I will read and reread Caroline Young’s vegetarian proposal in The Gargoyle. I will look for errors in my local paper, keeping careful check of periods at the end of sentences.
I do all of this, not because I am insane, but because I am a writer.
And this is what we do.