The stories and poems collected here were composed by a group of incredibly talented and creative young authors who call themselves “Butterscotch, the Mighty Ocean Attackers.” During the course of our week-long Badgerdog Creative Writing Camp at Our Lady’s Maronite Catholic Church, this phrase kept popping up over and over again—like a refrain in a catchy song that you just can’t get out of your head—and the more I ponder it, this strange and unexpected title actually fits this group perfectly. The writing these middle-school students have produced is a lot like butterscotch: smooth and rich and extravagant and deliciously exciting. But it is also—like a mighty group of ocean attackers—fierce, determined, wild, dangerous. You’d better watch out and take cover, because you are about to come in contact with Butterscotch, the Mighty Ocean Attackers. Their stories and poems will assault you with the power of ocean-deep emotion, suspense, beauty, and humor. They will knock you over and leave you completely transformed.
Allison Grace Myers
Badgerdog Teaching Artist
I saw her sitting under a tree, chewing at the end of her pencil. Her eyes were full of concentration. She looked broken and angry, as though her own mind had failed her. I approached the girl, and her everlasting beauty overtook me. I tapped her on the shoulder, snapping her back to reality. She looked up at me with thought and praise in her eyes. I took her hand and helped her up to her feet. Her skin was smooth, pale, and perfect. I whispered to her in a soft voice, “Follow me. Great ideas lie ahead.” She smiled and we ran off to the forested line at the end of the sky. I showed her my place, my hideaway. The cherry blossoms fell gently to the forest floor. We just sat and talked for hours. Every once in a while, her eyes brightened more than usual. She would whip out her notebook and write something down. The sun began to fall behind the horizon, and as she headed back to her place by the tree, she hollered to me, “Next time, I’ll show you where my ideas grow.”
I never got to meet you
But mom tells me about you
I wish I could see your smile in person
Instead of in black-and-white pictures
The antlers of an eight-point deer you shot
Still hangs in our kitchen
Mom tells stories of how
You would bang them together to attract deer—
The sound they would make—clack, clack
And you didn’t let any of the deer go to waste once you got one
I wish I could have met you.
We play the harmony of a piece and stay in the shadows of the melodious violins. Of the orchestra, we are the least important, but we’re there. Our voices are deeper than that of our shrill cousins, but our notes mirror those of the cellos. Our voices are clear and velvety. Our parts in pieces are significantly easier or less ear-catching. and we all know it. We joke about our “easy” parts, but it’s only funny if the one making the joke is one of us. We’re overlooked, deemed “a cheap copy of a violin.” That may be true, but it doesn’t make it any less insulting. We still play beautiful music.
The Little Corsican Boy
I’ve missed you, my friend
You’ve changed so much
Since we met that fateful winter
Snow gently falling on our noses
It was the first time you saw snow
And you hated it
You were the little genius with the foreign accent
And they all hated you for it
We would all look twice
When we saw what you became
I watched you rise
Higher than the tallest steeple of Notre Dame
But how would I know what goes on
In your head?
You’ll never be what they molded you into
Not to me
Now I stand beside your grand tomb
Here I cry
Cry that they had smothered you in grandeur
And I remember the little Corsican boy
And I vow to introduce him
To the rest of the world.
The Fox in the Woods
We moved silently down to the small creek. We could see our campfire up the hill, but only barely. The only light we had was the moon. The five of us stared at it, silent, listening to the water flowing and the bullfrogs croaking solemnly every so often. Everything we could see was tinted blue like sunglasses by the moon in the night. Then we saw the fox. It trotted within five feet of us. I have to say, it was smaller than I would have expected. As it finally scurried off into to the woods, we hiked back up to the campfire to find everyone else waiting. They missed out; they hadn’t seen the fox like that.
We all have one goal. We all want victory. We all have one thing in common: volleyball.
We will always fight like there’s no tomorrow because we know we want it most. We will always support each other and make everyone feel welcome, so we can connect like the pieces of a puzzle.
When we fight back, we can almost smell the victory of our hard work. To us, that is the best kind of victory.
We know what we have to do: pass, set, hit.
We know how to win—we simply smile.
If our team breaks apart, winning is futile—sports is a mental game. We know we have to shake off our doubts and begin anew.
Even if we lose, we won’t give up. Giving up is for those who don’t want to taste victory.
But after we win, we know we’ve achieved our goal. We can taste the victory. After all, we are a team.
Hero: A Novel
– an excerpt
She lay on her back on the metal framed bed, necklace clutched in her hand, the bed creaking as she breathed. She let go of the necklace. Free from her clutches, it slid onto her amber-colored hair, which seemed just as eager to escape the bed as the necklace. The alarm clock beeped. I guess it’s time to get up, she thought.
She sat up in bed, pulled on jeans and a purple hoodie, stared in the mirror for a minute, and then Kat Ruben left the apartment. She headed down to the coffee shop on 22nd Street and said hello to the waiter.
“Hiya, Kat! What can I get you?”
“My usual. To go. Thanks, Gary.”
She glanced at the TV on the wall: WINGED GIRL SAVES BOY FROM KIDNAPPERS.
Kat pulled up her hood. That was a side of her she would rather not think about. Fortunately, for her, there was Gary. He had her breakfast ready—a big blueberry muffin.
“Her ya go, honey!”
“Thanks.” She gave him a five dollar bill.
Kat took her muffin to the park, where she ate half of it, but then gave up and fed it to the squirrels.
Fall was her favorite time of year. Cold, but not enough to snow. Perfect for New York and hoodies.
Bored, she looked over at the man sitting next to her. He was holding a newspaper. It had a picture of her on it. She had huge bug-like wings. She was lifting a car. Her mother had entrusted her with her wings. She told Kat to use them well. Kat would rather not. A superhero? An alien? How absurd!
Suddenly, she heard a voice from behind. “Hey, stop that!” Kat turned around. In the alleyway, there was a girl, no more than twelve, leaping up to catch a tattered book, but she was failing.
“Whatcha gonna do about it?” the boy asked.
“Hey!” Kat stood two feet above the boy. “Stop it!”
“Oh yeah? Why?”
Then, Kat made a decision. Was this worth it? She looked into the girl’s eyes. She saw pain, hidden by confidence, and stubbornness. She saw herself.
Kat snapped her wings open. They glistened, huge and powerful. She flapped them quickly enough to get about four feet off the ground.
“I said LEAVE. Now.”
“You said it, miss.”
Kat turned to look at the girl, but she was gone. The alleyway was empty, except for one page torn out of a book. “This diary is for the eyes of Quinn only.”
Quinn. She’d have to get to know her.