The 2018 Stardust (Taylor Laber)
The 2018 Stardust

Taylor Laber

2018 Stardust Literary Magazine Picks

October 31, 2018

The TAHS Stardust literary magazine has been collecting Tyrone High School’s best writing for over thirty years.

English teacher Stephen Everhart started the magazine early in his teaching career to give students a place to show off their creative writing talent.

“[I enjoy] showcasing the best fiction, poetry, humor, and essays from each graduating class,” said Everhart, “Of the four genres, I enjoy the humor the most.  Some of our writers deserve a National Blue Ribbon of Satire for making people laugh.”

Some of the best picks from this year’s edition of Stardust Magazine are Maddie Moser’s Days Gone By (fiction), Ebonee Rice-Nguyen’s Breaking News (poetry), and Brady Brower’s Light ‘er Up (essays).

“Everyone did amazing,” said sophomore Mekenna Bauer. “It was very hard to choose, but Days Gone By had such great detail and was very well written.”

Days Gone By is a short story about a 17-year-old, long-haired and blond female’s escape attempt after being kidnapped and locked in a basement cellar.

Just keep imagination alive. It may be more vital to the survival of the human race than NASA, a border wall, renewable energy, and cell phone technology combined,”

— Stephen Everhart

In the poetry category, sophomore Taylor Laber loved  Breaking News by Ebonee Rice.

The poem’s narrator is tired of hearing and listening to headlines, going on about bituaries and listing entire families, with ongoing reports of death in just about everything, including but not limited to school shootings and more.

“It really hits home to how often these sorts of things happen just about every day,” Laber said. “I hate constantly hearing about tragedies so often.”

Senior Brady Brower’s Light ‘er Up, Baby was one of the best essays of the year.

This wasn’t the first time Brower has won awards for his writing.

“[Last year] he was awarded $6000 for his Voice of Democracy essay, placing second in the state, and then he banked another $4000 for winning states with the same essay in last year’s American Legion Essay contest,” said Everhart.

Looking back on over thirty years of student work, there are some works that still stand out to Everhart.

“There are a few stories that choke me up every time I read them,” said Everhart, “like Kylie Hand’s true-life account of how she delivered and then buried her still-born baby. Then there are those that just plain creep me out, like Olivia Bietz’s story of a work-obsessed, spiritually hollow father who watches an NBA game on the sofa with the corpses of his daughter and her boyfriend, whose name he cannot remember.”

Other “best of” picks vary greatly in style and tone.

There are a few stories that choke me up every time I read them”

— Steven Everhart

“Some just crack me up—like Logan Peale’s anything-but-childlike satirical fable about a frog caught in a pond beneath the Keystone-XL Pipeline. Those two should take readers to two emotional extremes.  As for poetry, it’s hard to beat Matt McMillen’s “A Reasonable Gift” for sheer simplicity and power. It speaks to everyone who has ever had a heart broken and had to cobble together the pieces,” said Everhart.

Everhart is already looking forward to the 2019 edition of Stardust.

“This year’s junior class strength seems to be their poetic prowess,” said Everhart, “I can’t wait to hear them bust some rhymes.”


Days Gone By

Days Gone By

“Day three,” I scribbled in the leather-bound journal I had found in an old drawer beside the wooden gateway that locked me into my prison. “I have been here for three days,” It kills me to write those words but I had to document everything on the assumption that I’ll someday get found. Maybe it hasn’t been three days, I thought. Maybe it had been more, maybe even less. In a dark basement it’s actually very problematic to tell if it’s daylight or night. I thought about what happened every hour. I went over it in my head a billion times.

I was walking home from school. I had stayed late to finish a science project. Mom and dad were working so they couldn’t come get me. If they knew this was going to happen they would’ve taken off the instant they knew. I’m seventeen and I’m petite with pretty long blonde hair (maybe he had a thing for blondes). Extremely easy to pick up and hurl into the back seat of a beat up nineteen seventy Ford two door. He threw me in the back and put the seat back into place. I couldn’t escape in time without his clutching me by my foot and
wrenching my boot off violently in the process.

The back seat: a crowbar, a hammer, duct tape, and a box of garbage bags. I got sick, looking at the items he held just in his car alone made me vomit.

“You’re going to clean that yourself girl!” he screeched as he saw all the matter I spewed from my mouth.

“Let me go!” I screamed. I hoped someone was around. Somewhere there had to be someone who had seen what he had done. It was still daylight. Only just starting to darken in the sky. Why no one is helping me? I thought. I fought him. I did everything in my power to try and climb over the seat and open the door. He grabbed the duct tape and wrapped it around anything he felt needed taped.

He was strong. Stronger than you’d expect from a forty something year old man. But here I am. In a cellar of some sort.
There’s a greasy, rusted old sink beside me. It looks like it hasn’t been used in over ten years. I stood up and peeked in it. I started getting dizzy, I fell to the floor and sobbed quietly. The inside of the sink was stained red. I hoped it wasn’t what I originally thought it to be. I prayed silently, hoping someone was looking for me. There was a thump from above me. I could hear him walking around. I sobbed harder. There was silence for a few second and then scattered footsteps and then stomps down what sounded like a flight of wooden stairs. When he had brought me here he knocked me out beforehand so I didn’t see the house or the way down to the grimy basement.

The floor creaked behind the door and I heard my one source of escape squeal open. He looked at me with a dull, blank eyes. This was the first time I’ve gotten a good look at him. He was short, about five-five. He had short brown, very greasy hair. He looked as though he hasn’t showered in decades. His clothes were tattered. He had sadness in his eyes but yet they were also projecting madness. A madness that uttered “you’re not safe here.”

“Come!” He barked. I stayed where I was trying not to whimper loud enough to anger him.

“Come!” He shouted even louder with more seriousness in his voice. I slowly crawled up the wall, using it as a source of aid for my malnourished body. Maybe it had been more than three days. I walked towards him slowly. As I got closer, BANG, he hit me over the head with what looked like the crowbar from the beat up Ford. How had I not noticed it in his hands when I looked at him?

“Next time, you answer and listen the first time I speak,” he snapped. I was bloody, I knew I was. I see the red but felt no pain. Then, everything went black.

I woke up what felt like years later. I was in a puddle of my own blood. I was shaking and my breath was shortened. It was hard to breathe for a moment. I tried to stand up, but it was no use. My head was bashed open, a two and a half inch scar had to have been left there, and not being fed for however long really took a toll on my health. I looked around my prison. My eyes adjusted to the darkness for a moment when I spotted something in the corner by the heavy wooden door. The crowbar, how could he have forgotten? I hauled myself up as best as I could and slithered over to the object. I was correct, it was a crowbar in all its glory. My only chance of survival. I sat in the dark and laid out in my head how I was going to get out. I had the crowbar, and even though I was at the brink of death I still had a little bit of strength. Then I heard it.

The wooden stairs, they whispered sounds of despair again as he threw himself down them in a fury; he had known his mistake. He had remembered what he had carelessly forgotten. The door sounded it’s apologizes to me as it squeaked, for it couldn’t stop the fact that it was locked from the outside. I was ready. I knew what I had to do. The door swung completely open and I struck.

As he laid there, bloody just as I had hours before. I limped around him. My legs didn’t hurt but keeping myself steady with a broken face was rocky. I took my time on the stairs, I was terrified that I would make one wrong step and that would have me shooting back down the stairs right into my hijacker. I feared that he was behind, right on my heels. I had to work fast but still check behind me every few seconds.

At last, I made it to the top. It opened into his kitchen. Not really a kitchen at all, it had a sink and a table. No fridge, no food. It was quiet with blankets around every window, every blanket dirtier and grimier than the last. Looking at them made me notice the smell. It was raunchy, it smelled of death. I scrambled to move myself to another room to find a way out. I walked through another area which looked like it was once a living room. Blood was still escaping my head and drizzling down my cheek. I didn’t know how much longer I had. The living room had a dingy, effloresce couch. It was covered in dust. It was broken on the right side and slanted to the right in such a way that if you tried to sit you would just shift to the busted side. Like a children’s slide.

“Keep going, keep going,” I whispered to myself. My whole body shook with fear. The fear of death.

“Keep going, you got to be almost there,” I didn’t know what else to do besides give myself a short pep talk.

I heard the wind. I gawked at the birds. I almost had a heart attack. It was right there– freedom was ten feet away but felt like miles. I drove myself to it and hope washed over me. I launched myself and as I opened the ancient, paint chipped door I–

I woke up. I was in the cellar curled up on a thin slab of fabric. With a leather bound book and blood announcing a good morning, or maybe a goodnight. I heard the sound of footsteps coming down the stairs.

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