Staten’s students’ literary works

Tarkio 8th grade students were each given a key and then had to write a piece of fiction about what that key would open. The focus for this writing was writing fiction, descriptive language, and character and setting development. There were several excellent examples. Here are Mr. Staten’s three Teacher’s Choice pieces, written by Mercedes Parshall, Autumn Murry, and Madison Driskell.
Cole’s Casket
By Mercedes Parshall
Boom! The airbags went off as the car rolled off the road and into the ditch. It kept rolling and rolling. My brother, Cole, was in the driver’s seat and I was in the passenger seat, both of us shocked. Then I realized that Cole didn’t have his seatbelt on, which didn’t shock me; he never wore his seatbelt. This was something I always yelled at him about.
My brother, the straight A student, the football and basketball star, the kid that would’ve turned eighteen on the next day, and the guy that everyone knew in the small town of DeQuincy, Louisiana, died that day. My name is Emma. It’s been three years since Cole died, and I’m now seventeen. I’m like my brother in many ways, but obviously not as smart. I’ve been trying to figure out what he meant when he said, “Cole Y1 green,” right before he took his last breath at the hospital.
Ever since that very moment, I’ve tried everything I possibly could to try and figure out what Cole meant. I always think about the very moment he said the words and replay it in my head over and over again. But, there is one thing I haven’t done, that no one has done since the day he died. No one has gone into his room. The door was shut the day he died, and it has remained that way, but I had to figure out what he meant.
During the middle of the night, about 1:30 a.m., I got up out of bed and grabbed my phone. I turned the flashlight on my phone on and walked to his bedroom door, which was across the hall from mine. I hesitated as I put my hand on the doorknob. I twisted it, and the door creaked as it opened. The room was exactly how he left it, clothes all over the floor, bed unmade; it was a mess. I looked around the room and saw something. Something that instantly made me start to cry. On his desk was a picture that mom had taken of us when we were little. I sat down in the chair and could barely see the picture through the tears in my eyes, but something caught my eye.
Peaking out of the picture frame was a piece of green metal that shined from the light of my flashlight. I opened the frame and grabbed the green piece of metal that was a key. I examined the key and read the front of it “COLE Y1” and the color was green. Right after I read those words, a vision popped into my head. It was a vision from about three years ago. It was the funeral. In my vision the casket that Cole was in had the words “Cole Y1”.
When I walked out of the room, I knew exactly what I had to do. But it just didn’t make any sense. How would Cole know those words would be on his casket before he died? But, finding out how he did it was not my first priority. I had to get his casket.
I went to the cemetery that I had been to about 100 times. His casket was above ground in a mausoleum since we lived in Louisiana. His was decorated with colorful flowers, pictures, and a small football and basketball. I was shaking as I lifted up my hand with the key and stuck it in the keyhole. I twisted it and heard the sound of the lock unlatch.
Then, I walked up to Cole’s casket that I hadn’t seen for three years. I unlocked it with the same green metal key and prepared myself for what I was going to see. But, when I opened the casket, what I prepared for was not what I saw. Cole was gone. There was nothing in the casket.
The Gate
By Autumn Murry
It’s a Monday at the White’s Plantation. I wake up at the crack of dawn and start doing my chores. My name is Daisy; I am 16 years old. I have dark gorgeous skin. My hair is a beautiful black and almost to the ground. I live here with my Ma, Pa, and my brother. Today is selling day just like every other Monday. Selling days are the worst there is always that chance that one of us could be sold to another plantation, but I guess any other plantation would be better than this one. My mom says that I have to be careful of my mouth because I tend to get sassy. I hate it when John White (our plantation owner) tells me what to do, and if I don’t do it when he tells me to I get whipped by a black braided whip. I have so many scars on my back from it, but I still don’t learn my lesson.
I am walking to the chicken coop where I pick up the gross hard chicken eggs. When I am done I walk up to the big white house where all the slaves wish they could live. Then I make all John’s family breakfast. First, I will make the eggs so they are fluffy soft and perfectly cooked in the middle. Then, I will make the toast. I put butter on both sides of the bread and put them in the skillet and watch them sizzle. When his family comes down the stairs I notice one person, John’s son, Timothy. He is 17 and his skin is much lighter than mine, but he has blonde hair and elegant blue eyes. They always sparkle when he looks into the sun. I look at him and smile; he smiles back.
“These eggs aren’t done all the way,” John says.
“Sorry sir,” I say and cook them more.
“I think they are perfect Daisy and the bread is perfectly baked all flaky and crispy,” Timothy comments.
I can feel my blood shooting up to my cheeks and making them the flirty red. He looks at me and smiles. I stare at his stunning blue icy eyes. After they are done eating I stay and start washing the dishes. I can hear someone walking towards me; I start to get butterflies because it’s Timothy.
“I am sorry about my dad. He can be a little mean sometimes,” he says in a soft quiet voice.
“It’s okay,” I say.
He starts to help me do the dishes. Our hands touch and he doesn’t let go. He looks at me with his sparkling eyes and smiles.
“Let’s run away,” he says gently.
I look at him confused at first, but then it hits me we would be together. I would be with Timothy.
“Okay,” I say.
When it’s almost time to go line up for selling day, Timothy and I run up the stairs to his dad’s office. We look in all of his dad’s messy cabinets, but we can’t seem to find the key to the gate. Finally there it is; I see it.
“It’s up there,” I say.
Timothy looks up and jumps high for the key. We start running down the stairs and out the door to the gate. When we get to the gate we struggle to get the door unlocked. When we get it unlocked we start running for our lives. I look back with my pink cheeks and my heart drops.
“Run Daisy,” he shouts.
I turn back around I can feel the warm tears falling down my face. I thought I would be with him forever, but now I’m alone, in the wild, with nothing.
Hillman Opened What?
By Madison Driskell
BANG! BANG! That was the sound of something knocking on the door. On a bright and early morning with a little bit of fog in the air; men gather in the city hall office to drink their morning coffee, and talk about what day of the week they were going to ride across the prairie. It was in the year of 1453, and they had all met in the same place every morning of the week. Hillman, Dusty, and Greg were all buddies and always stuck together, no matter what happened to them. They never once left another out of anything they did.
Hillman was sitting at the desk, Greg was sitting in the chair by the door, and Dusty was sitting on the right side of the room in the chair by the computer. Eventually, they all agreed on picking a day of the week to go ride the prairie together. There was a key on the desk where Hillman was sitting, none of them knew what it went to. He picked it up, looked at it, then sat it back down. They kept on talking about other things that needed to be done around the town, when they heard someone knocking. It was a loud knocking sound! Then it went silent. BANG! BANG! There was that noise again. Hillman screamed like there was a little girl in there or something. Hillman, Dusty, and Greg got up from their chairs and wandered around the office looking for the noise they were hearing.
Hillman and Dusty shouted, “Where did those banging noises come from?”
All three of them walked over to this one door that was in the office that had never ever been used. There was a sign on it that said “ONLY USE FOR SAFETY PURPOSES”. They ignored it and just kept looking around the office. But Greg thought it was a little bit strange because you could hear the noise louder and louder over by the door.
Dusty stopped. “Hey, I have an idea,” he said.
Dusty went over and got the key off of the desk, put it in the lock, and unlocked the door. Next, they all walked through the door. Unfortunately, there was another door that had to be unlocked. So they used the same key to try and unlock that door, and it worked.
Greg said, “Really! There is another door.”
Finally, they used the same key to unlock that door and inside they figured out what was making the loud banging noise. It was…..