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Hog Creek Review
Allen County High Schools 2010

Creative Nonfiction
Allen East star Apollo Career Center star Bath star Bluffton star Delphos Jefferson star Delphos St. John’s star Elida star Lima Central Catholic
Lima Senior star Perry star Shawnee star Spencerville star Temple Christian
Freshman/Sophomore Division
Pablo
Raquel Dominguez, Lima Central Catholic
Sponsoring Teacher: Tricia May

      It was December 30th, 2003.  I was in the fourth grade, and I remember being at home with the rest of my siblings.  My grandparents stayed with us as we waited anxiously for my parents’ arrival.  I imagined them walking through the garage door of our modest New Jersey home.  Closing my eyes, I tried to picture what it would be like, looking at my new baby brother for the first time.  The clock ticked, and I grew more and more excited for their arrival with each passing minute.  My siblings and I even made a colorful banner that we hung in the kitchen to greet them when they arrived.  “Welcome home, Pablo,” it read in a delicate font.
      So we waited…and waited.  But they didn’t come home.  Not at first.  That night, when my Dad came home alone from the hospital, he told me that Pablo needed to have an operation.  He tried to look calm, but I could see the worry behind his eyes.  When I asked him why Pablo needed the operation, my dad responded that he couldn’t go to the bathroom—he would later tell me the more technical term, an intestinal block.  Before he headed back to the hospital to stay with my mom and brother, I handed him my digital camera I had just gotten for Christmas.  “Can you take pictures of him, Dad, so I can see what he looks like?” I asked tentatively.
      “Sure,” he replied.  I gave him a big hug and said goodbye as he got into the large red minivan and left for the hospital.
      It wasn’t until three weeks later that I finally laid eyes on Pablo—in person—for the first time.  After what seemed like an endless wait, my little brother had finally come home.  I looked lovingly at the pieces of light brown hair he had, his smooth porcelain skin, and his chest rising up and down gently as he slept.  That’s when I noticed something—there was something about Pablo that appeared different from the rest of my siblings.  “Why are his eyes like that?” I blurted out.  “Mom, why does he have Chinese eyes?”
      “They aren’t Chinese eyes,” my mother responded.  I could feel like I was missing something important, but I couldn’t make out what it was.
      Approximately one month later, I learned what I had been missing.  “Raquel, can we talk to you for a minute?” my mother asked.
      “Sure,” I replied, not thinking anything of it as she and my dad sat me down in the dining room, away from everybody else.
      “Raquel,” my mother began, “Do you know why Pablo looks the way he does, the way his eyes are kind of slanted?”  I could feel the conversation getting serious.  I studied my mother’s face, her blue eyes penetrating as if she could see right through me.  I debated for a moment about whether or not I truly wanted to hear what my mother was about to say.
      “No,” I finally responded, waiting for her to explain.  My mother sighed and gazed at me for a moment before continuing.
      “It’s because he has Down syndrome,” she said.  “Pablo is a little different from other kids his age.  He takes a little longer to learn things, like talking and walking.  That’s just how he was born.”
      “But he can still do those things, right?” I asked, suddenly worried.
      “Yes,” my mothered answered.  “But his condition will never go away.”  I looked down at my knees for a few seconds as I tried to understand what she said.  I wasn’t making much progress. “Don’t worry,” she added, easing my fears, “People with Down Syndrome are some of the most loving and caring people you will ever meet.  Down syndrome isn’t a bad thing—it just happens sometimes.  We knew that Pablo had Down syndrome before he was even born.”  For a brief moment, a wave of resentment went through me.  They had known about Pablo’s condition for months and didn’t think to tell me until now?  I tried to suppress my feelings of anger and insignificance, simply nodding as my mother hugged me in reassurance.  I opened my mouth to say something, but nothing came out.
      The words my mother spoke to me that day changed my life from that point on.  I had no idea what to expect, but I did know that things would never be the same.  In that moment, I realized I had a lot of growing up to do.  I was now the oldest of six children, one of which needed constant attention from both of my parents.
      As the years passed, I grew close to Pablo, at times, not even noticing that he was different.  I babysat him, fed him, tucked him in—he was easily the most beautiful and loving member of the family.  I loved to make him laugh in order to get a look at his cute grin that stretched from ear to ear.  I was amazed at the rate at which he grew and I loved sitting in on his speech and occupational therapy sessions, watching him learn more with each passing day.
      Things weren’t always easy with Pablo, though.  I became annoyed when he wouldn’t listen to me or understand.  Pablo would break things, coming into my spotless room and leaving it a complete mess.  He made going anywhere a hassle, and my parents constantly taking him to various therapists and doctors left little time and attention for me.  At times, he would act strangely around my friends, making me uncomfortable.  Because he was on various medications, Pablo’s hair would fall out in pieces, leaving him partially bald at times.  Needless to say, things weren’t easy with Pablo around.
      Even though living with Pablo was a struggle, I cannot say I’ve ever hated him.  I can honestly say that Pablo makes me a better person—he helps me to appreciate life and the many opportunities I have.  The minute I come through the door of my house, I can always guarantee that I will hear Pablo yelling my name, his little feet scurrying to give me a wet, sloppy kiss and hug.  Those are the moments in which any resentments I may have had towards Pablo just melt away.
      Pablo is six now, and is the best little brother any girl could ask for. The way I see it, there really isn’t much difference between Pablo and the average six-year-old.  He’s always swimming in the summer, riding horses, and watching his favorite movies over and over.  He loves to sing and dance, and is always making us laugh with his carefree, good-humored personality.
      “Hey Pablo, do you love me?”  I ask, smiling at him.
      “Yes,” he responds, beaming up at me as he leans in to give me a great, big kiss on the cheek.

Just a Memory
Alex Sciranka, Shawnee
Sponsoring Teacher: Stacey Rivera

      The train was whistling that loud, obnoxious noise which she knew meant goodbye. This could be the last time she saw him, and the last chance to know him.
      It was the early-nineteen forties and Mary was young, just out of high school as the war was slowly taking its toll across the world. Mary worked in a local store in Lima and donated much of her time to help with the war effort. She lived a simple life, did simple things and was just like many of the girls her age. Until one day, as she was just about to leave her shift at the store, a man walked in asking for help to find an item. Mary was glad to help the man and soon found herself falling in love with a complete stranger. After Mary rung up the man’s purchase, he tipped his hat and said, "Thank you very much ma’am, I hope to see you soon."
      "You’re very welcome sir," said Mary, as she could feel her face becoming red.
      That night, as she was completing her regular nightly routine, she couldn’t help but notice that the man’s image seemed to stick with her with every thought. As she closed her eyes and said her prayers for that night, she wished that she could see the man again, but not expecting anything, she quickly fell asleep to dream of the man once more.
      The next day came and nine o’clock seemed not to come quickly enough. Mary couldn’t wait to get to work in hopes of seeing the man again. She found herself constantly staring at the clock, three long hours had only brought about twelve costumers, none of which were the man. As she sat at the cash register, she sulked at the fact that the man she could have loved, had no name for her to call. The mystery man would soon turn into just a memory, a disappointing recollection. To pass the time Mary decided to count the money in the cash register, just out of curiosity. As she reached nearly seven dollars, she heard the sound of a soft bell ring from behind her. She quickly shoved the money back into the cash register and upon turning around, she discovered him again.
      "Hello sir, may I help you with anything?" Mary asked politely.
      "No thank you, I’m just looking around," replied the anonymously familiar man.
      "Well if you need anything just let me know," Mary added. The man just nodded, picked up a loaf of bread, and walked to the front counter. "Will this be all for you today?" Mary asked quietly.
      "Yes. Wait, don’t I know you from somewhere? Your name is Elizabeth, right?" questioned the man, completely unaware of their brief discussion the day before.
      "No, actually I’m not. My name is Mary. You talked to me yesterday when you were here," Mary said perplexedly as her heart sank in her chest. She couldn’t believe that the man had already forgotten her.
      "Oh that’s right, now I remember," said the man. "My name is Hugh Downs, by the way."
      "Well it’s very nice to meet you Mr. Downs," said Mary.
      "Oh you can call me Hugh, Mr. Downs is my father," contested Hugh. Mary was absolutely ecstatic. If her heart could walk it would run a mile. The man finally had a name, Hugh. She imagined his name to be George or William or Thomas, Hugh was the last name that came to Mary's mind, but it seemed to suit him well. "Maybe you wouldn’t mind accompanying me tonight to say, dinner and a show?" asked Hugh in high hopes that she would say yes.
      "Well, I’ll be working until five, so how does six thirty sound?" Mary asked, practically about to jump out of her chair.
      "Six thirty it is," said Hugh smoothly. He left the store, bread in hand, and as soon as Mary could see he was out of sight, she gave a loud scream of contentment and immediately began thinking of what to wear, what to say, how to act.
      Seven months had passed and both Mary and Hugh had fallen in love. They began learning more and more about each other; their hopes, their dreams, their pasts. Everything was as perfect as Mary had imagined it, until the day came when Mary discovered that Hugh, who had been studying journalism and even appeared on the local news, was offered a job in New York City. Hugh knew he couldn’t pass up this great opportunity and knew that he and Mary could live a great life together in New York, but Mary wasn’t so sure. Mary was sure that she was absolutely in love with Hugh and didn’t want to lose him, but she also knew that she had family and friends in Lima and didn’t want to be apart from them either. Mary had two weeks to decide before Hugh would get on the train and leave for a new life. It was the hardest decision she had ever been faced with. The days went by as slowly as a turtle through the sand. Mary was torn between two loves and only had a few more days until the stranger who became her beloved, would become just a stranger.
      It was now the night before Hugh was scheduled to leave. The couple took a stroll through the park, talking about what was to come. The sound of their footsteps on the pavement, was like the seconds ticking away until it was time to make the hardest decision Mary had ever encountered. At the end of the night, Hugh asked Mary one last time, "So, what are you going to do?"
      Mary had thought long and hard and said, "Hugh, these past few months have been the best times of my life. I’ve fallen in love and learned what love truly is, but I’m afraid I just can’t leave Lima. New York sounds beautiful and being with you there would be even more amazing, but I just can’t leave my life behind, I’m so sorry." Mary’s eyes filled with tears once more, she knew it was over. The stranger she had fallen in love with would soon turn into a memory. Mary stood on the train platform the next morning. The air was cold and crisp as she waved one last goodbye, blew one farewell kiss, and cried the first of many tears without the man she loved.
     
      A few years had passed and Mary and Hugh slowly lost touch. The letters between them seemed to be in abundance within the first month of Hugh’s absence, but then slowly trickled off, like the small droplets of water unhurriedly falling from the roof of her heart after a loud and rampant storm. Mary had regretted not going to New York with Hugh, but within just a few years, she met a man, John Sciranka, and fell in love once more. They married, had five children and lived a happy life together.
      Mary was my grandmother and this story has always fascinated me. I would have collected a more accurate account of my grandmother’s experience but sadly cancer had stricken her before I was ever given the opportunity to meet her. From the stories I’ve been told about the remembrances of my father’s mother, I have discovered that Grandma Mary was a beautiful and kind women, inside and out, with a very remarkable past.

Junior/Senior Division
"Sweetly Broken"
Amanda Kuhlman, Shawnee
Sponsoring Teacher: Mark Decker

       Each person has his or her own individual beliefs; whether they are about which guy is cuter, which outfit is the most slimming, or which pair of shoes is worth buying. I believe in so much more. I believe in friendship. I have a profound faith in the closeness of family and the intimate bond between sisters. I believe in Jesus Christ. Last year Jamie, my little sister and my closest friend, did not believe in God. Today is a different story.
      Screaming. Laughter. Singing. The eighth graders stepped off the bus, their arms crossed in defiance and their eyes wide, darting around uncertainly in skepticism and disbelief. The high schoolers stood before them, their loud cheers and noisy chants surrounded the middle schoolers in a torrent of joy. A warm morning breeze spirited through the crowd like the Holy Ghost through those who believe, and the kids, my little sister Jamie among them, hurried through the tunnel of high-school believers into the parish hall.
      Lima Lifeteen is a Catholic youth group that welcomes all teens with open arms. Every spring, leading up to the Sacrament of Confirmation, this faith-filled group puts on a retreat for graduating eighth-graders in an effort to get the teenagers to understand the true meaning of the sacrament. Confirmation is a ceremony signifying a person’s formal acceptance into the Catholic Church. It symbolizes the meaningful renewal of a person’s baptismal vows—the relationship with the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ, and God.
      Lifeteen is full of ordinary kids who all share in their love of fun, obsession with entertainment, and passion for the word of Christ. As the youths before them had happily done for the previous twelve years, these happy go-lucky teenagers enthusiastically proclaim their love for God to the world. The Lifeteeners cheerfully persuade others to come and share in their faith through such simple ways as pancake breakfasts and putting on retreats.
      Music blared in the background, a wave of sound crashed into the massive sea of wary middle-schoolers. From “Crank Dat” to the “Casper Slide” to the “Cupid Shuffle,” the hottest songs blasted over the complex sound-system. Standing in the doorway, girls laughed nervously. Boys talked loudly. I added to the noise with my own whooping yells and continuous hoots of laughter. Jamie stood talking to her friends, not knowing what to expect next. Just going with the flow. I soon lost sight of my sister.
      The Lifeteeners enthusiastically shared their faith and the day full of fun. From doing the “Evolution of Dance” and making up stupid commercials, to eating pizza and talking louder than a person should, the Lifeteeners slowly made the eighth-graders leave their comfort zone behind them. In the parish hall kids were dancing. On the playground, people told stories and just got to know each other. Everywhere teenagers mingled and were having a blast. Only after lunch did the mood change.
      As a unit, the Lifeteeners performed a heart-wrenching skit. With each passing second, more and more teens revealed to the watching eighth-graders the closeness of their bond to Christ and the strength of their faith. Confusion and contemplation shone brightly out of the eyes of many of the eighth-graders. I looked through the massive sea of kids for Jamie’s face, but my little sister was lost to my searching eyes.
      Jesus is stupid. Jamie did not, she could not, believe. My sister is strong-willed. She is independent. She did not believe in God and she did not care. Even if he existed, she felt that she did not need him. Her face hardened and she sat staring at the teenagers standing together at the front of the room. She was confused. Christianity is a lie. How can so many people be so strong in their faith? How can they all stand there together and believe in something that does not exist?
      Our youth leader spoke to the once obnoxiously loud, but now strangely quiet crowd. She told her individual faith-story followed by several Lifeteen members. The tone of the day had done a 180-degree flip—from flippant to completely serious in a matter of minutes. The kids stared on, not knowing exactly what to think.
      Music began to play and the Lifeteeners acted out another skit. A boy pulled a girl away from Jesus. One after another, several tempters lured her farther and farther away from God. A nervous feeling filled the air and one could almost feel the anticipation rolling off the teens in waves of constrained energy. After each encounter, the tempters stood directly between the girl and Jesus, separating her from her one true chance at happiness and true life. The devil approached her and taught her how to cut herself in an attempt to relieve the pain.  The intensity of the music heightened and she debated killing herself. The eighth-graders’ eyes were glued to the scene. There was no sound but the music, no sight but her tortured face.
      She threw the knife down. The room seemed to pulsate with energy with each additional second as she literally fought the forces in her life. The tempters pushed and shoved the girl to the floor as she tried to reach through the crowd of her tempters towards Jesus. The devil threw her down on the floor for the final time. All of the tension mounted to this single moment, a moment where the entire world seemed to hold its breath. God filled the room that day as the teen representing Jesus jumped between the girl and her personal devils. The eighth-graders stared at the scene, their eyes filled with a deeper level of understanding and with tears.
      The Lifeteeners urged the stunned crowd to stand from their seats and form a circle. A slow song, a prayer, began to play. To the cross I look. To the cross I cling. The words of Jeremy Riddle’s “Sweetly Broken” sounded in my mind, passing through my lips, and ringing in my heart. Of its suffering I do drink. Of its work I do sing. I looked through the crowd, noting the tears that longed to spill from the eyes of several of the kids, new believers in Christ. On it my Savior, both bruised and crushed, showed that God is love, and God is just.
      Then I saw her. Jamie’s eyes met mine. In that one fraction of a second, we had a connection stronger than any I had ever dreamed I would experience.
      One look and then my arms were wrapped around her, and my eyes were facing heaven. At the cross You, beckon me, draw me gently, to my knees and… My heart swelled with a joy so truly awesome that I felt as if my soul was lifted by the sound of angels singing in my mind. Jamie means the world to me. My greatest and utmost darkest fear was that she would never find God. That fear has no place now. I am lost for words, so lost in love, I'm sweetly broken, Holy surrender!
      My sister does not cry. I can count the times I have seen her tears on one hand. Jamie felt God. She felt the power of His calling for her and understood the reality of His existence. The truth finally hit her. God is real.
      The tears came pouring down.
      I will never forget the first time I saw the belief in her eyes, her unmistakable faith visibly gushing out of her soul, a rapid stream cascading over a colossal waterfall. I will never forget the time when my little sister sobbed on my shoulder. On that warm spring day, God was brought into my sister’s life. Jamie, like two hundred other kids, had boarded a bus to go to a Confirmation retreat, not knowing what she was really getting herself into. She had no idea that her life, that my life, would be eternally changed.
      Belief is extraordinary. I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. It is more powerful than any other feeling. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day He rose again. Everyone believes in something. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead. Anyone can come to believe in God. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. My little sister believes.

Hero in Disguise
Kayla Wrasman, Delphos St. John’s
Sponsoring Teacher: Michelle Kemper

       The first picture that dances through my mind when I think of a hero is Hercules. I know it’s childish but the idea of a studly young man who embodies all the characteristics of morality and goodness as well as swoops in to save a damsel in distress is always quite intriguing.
      In my life Hercules is not exactly a love sick super athlete who fights demented monsters for fun though. My Hercules never wanted fame or fortune. My Hercules was a husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. He was a role model, a spiritual guide, and a fun-loving, compassionate man that everyone admired. He had beautiful, snowy-white hair, until it all fell out. He had a smile that lit up his eyes, even on black Saturdays (the weekend after when the effects of chemo set in). He always had words of encouragement and love, even after he couldn’t voice them anymore. My hero was, and still is, my grandpa, Alfred Wrasman. My childhood is sprinkled with fond little memories of him. From the snap dragons he would make talk to us so we would giggle to the early morning walks at the lake he so loved I can’t remember a time with him that was not pleasant. It just seemed like love and patience seeped out of his every pore and permeated everything around him. He would always tell us that we would have to eat a few more Easter eggs before we did something if we were too young for an activity we wanted to do with the older cousins.  
      The very worst day of my life was when my family decided to let grandpa go to heaven and take him off the ventilator. That day nearly two and a half years ago pretty much changed my view of the world. My Hercules lost his battle to cancer and there was nothing I could do about it. I remember my whole family (over twenty people) crammed into a tiny ICU room holding each other and sobbing the lyrics to Amazing Grace with tears streaming down our faces practically threatening to flood the whole hospital as Grandpa breathed his last breaths. Even as he lay there unresponsive and swollen almost beyond recognition he taught us a lesson in faith and brought us closer together spiritually. I couldn’t help but think about how many lives he had impacted positively and how much happiness he had left in his path. To love as much as he did and permanently affect so many really takes super hero powers.
      To this very day Grandpa teaches me how to be a hero. When I stop to admire a snapdragon or when I hear someone absentmindedly whistle Amazing Grace it reminds me I have a white-haired Hercules keeping an eye on me from somewhere in the clouds. My biggest goal in life is to be even a fraction of the person he was. Because of him I strive to be a better person everyday, to love with my entire being. So if anyone asks, when I grow up I want to be Hercules.