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Student Work Sample

Student Work Sample

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Published by Alex Baranosky

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Published by: Alex Baranosky on Apr 23, 2012
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Howard 1
Annie HowardMrs. AbbottCreative Writing, 3
PeriodMarch 2012“I, the miserable and the abandoned, am an abortion, to be spurned at, and kicked, and trampled on.” Jesus.If that doesn’t make all of humanity want to hang themselves from rafters, I don’t know what will. You know you’re bored out of your mind when you’re watching the 1994 film
. And the ’94 version isn’t even decent.De Niro as as Frankenstein’s monster? I mean,
come on
. Let’s save him for high action thriller movies and BenStiller comedies. But I digress. You could say I was pretty bored the night I was watching that feel-good movie of the century.The mob was chasing around the creature and whatnot, yelling and waving pitchforks and torches. Why didthey all have pitchforks? Was everyone in this flick a farmer? And why the hell were people always mobbing back then? At least no farmer mobs stormed the streets anymore. Civilization had become slightly more developed sincethe days of lady-snatching De Niro monsters.When the end credits began to roll, I hit the off switch. I wasn’t particularly enthused about going to schoolthe next day, but I never was. I checked my clock. 2:23 AM. I would be getting to sleep earlier than usual. Closingmy eyes, I lay my head down on the pillow. The next second, my eyes snapped open. Morning. Oh joy. I stumbledout of bed and put on the first pair of jeans I could on the floor. I left the disaster area that was my bedroom andwalked across the hall to the bathroom. Upon arrival, however, I noticed that one key component that is typically es-sential to the bathroom was missing. The toilet had disappeared. Confused, I wandered into the kitchen, where my parents were making breakfast together.Fun fact about my parents: they are what most people would call “hippies”. Their real names are Paul andMartha Zoo, but they prefer the names Sage and Pear Blossom. I prefer their birth names. I guess they really wishthat they had both been born into flower power families, but alas, their families were both ultraconservative. I sup- pose their desire for more eco-friendly names drove them to name me Riverside. When I tell people my name, theythink it’s some kind of sick joke. I sometimes wonder if it is, but then I look at Paul and Martha, and I know it can’t be. They do all kinds of weird hippie shit that I try my best to stay out of, like hosting sharing circles with their friends. We have no furniture in our living room, and they’re constantly planting new and questionable plants in our yard. Our house is constantly filled with a hazy fog that’s a result of their hookah pipes. They’ve offered me puffs ontheir pipes, but I’ve always refused. I guess the fact that they support smoking illegal substances has caused it to loseits glamor. They also refuse to cook anything but vegan meals, and that morning was no exception to the rule.“Paul, Martha,” I said. “What’s the deal with the toilet?”“Good morning, Riverside,” my father replied. “You want some baked algae and prunes?”The mere thought of such a meal was enough to make my stomach churn. “I’m good,” I said. “The toilet?”“Oh, Pear Blossom and I both agree that the toilet just didn’t fit in with our lifestyle. But don’t fret. By thetime you return home from school, we’ll have a much better toilet to use.”Screw that, I thought. I picked up my bag, mumbled a quick goodbye, and headed off to the bus stop. Thetown of Carlson is a rural one with a small population. You’d think that as a result the high school kids are hicks;nope, we have our fair share of durggies, douches, and ditzes. As you might have guessed, having the name River-side Zoo did not do me much good in high school. I had some friends, but I was given a bunch of crap because of Paul and Martha. Once, a kid somehow managed to break into my locker and fill it with flowers and juniper berries.(It’s sad that I knew that they were juniper berries immediately after looking at them.) I guess this was supposed to phase me, but it honestly didn’t. So much experience in the art of handling dumbasses making fun of me taught mehow to stop caring.
Howard 2
School passed by slowly and painfully, but eventually I was on my way home. As soon as I got home Iheaded for my safe haven of a room, but stopped when I saw something strange out of the corner of my eye. In the bathroom was a new toilet, but this was no ordinary commode. It looked old and used, and it had a handle thatlooked like it could be cranked. I stared in befuddlement at the contraption sitting before me.“Well hello, honey,” My mom said as she brushed her long frizzy hair out of her face. “How was school?”“Martha… What is this thing?” I asked in confusion.“Oh, it’s a compost toilet! You crank it rather than flush it, and your waste is transferred into the ground tofertilize it. Now our hydrangeas will grow faster!”I gazed at her in horror and disgust. Every time we walked out in the yard, we’d literally be walking in…no; I was not going to have this. I passed my mom and walked into my room.As I closed the door, she called out, “Riverside, your father and I are about to continue working on our in-terpretive song about the Man’s oppressive ways on our Native American flutes. Feel free to join us!”Poor Martha. She didn’t know I had burned the flute she had given me the night after I received it. I was pretty miffed about the compost toilet. It was a gnarly concept, and too nasty for me to take part in. I stayed in myroom all evening and watched TV. But as the night went on, my stomach began to ache. I know I had sworn to avoidthe new toilet at all costs, but I had had a burrito for lunch, and when you gotta go, you gotta go. I was angry at my-self for giving in, mostly because I was against all that my parents stood for, but I used the toilet anyway. Feelingdefeated, I went to sleep.I woke up the next morning to the sound of bongo drums. This was a weekly ritual that my parents per-formed on Saturday mornings. They came into my room and played a traditional African sun song in hopes that Iwould have a positive day. It took all of my willpower not to throw my pillows at them most days, but I typically gotup when they came for me. I didn’t wait for them to finish before passing them and going out onto the front porch toget the newspaper. Martha and Paul don’t read the newspaper because they “don’t want the news about the Man’soppressive forces to ruin their chi”. I stepped out onto the porch and stopped in my tracks. My yard had transformedovernight into the Garden of Eden. Plants and trees that I had never seen before filled my yard. The trees bore fruitsand the flowers were fully bloomed. What I recognized as pot leaves grew plentifully in front of our window. My parents would be thrilled about that.I went back inside, and shut the door. What the hell? How did something like this happen? I mentioned it tomy parents, and they insisted that the dance of fertility (I do
want to go into detail with that one) brought the ex-cessive amounts of flora. Like everything else my parents said, I took this explanation to be BS. Then it hit me: thecompost toilet. Did it really work that well? Paul and Martha said they hadn’t used it yet, that I “took the toilet on itsmaiden voyage”. So did that mean that my poop possessed extra powerful nutrients? What was this sort of sorcery?It seemed crazy, but my poop had just caused our yard to flourish.The next two weeks were very odd. Our yard continued to grow and we gained a boat load of attention for it. Tools at school mocked me for it. Gardening soccer moms envied us. More than once did I see stoners run intomy yard to collect various plants. My parents paid no mind to any of this. They just sat in the greenery all day, mymother weaving headbands out of flowers, my father strumming on his sitar. Farmers started passing by our yard,trying to figure out what we were feeding our plants.One thing I’ve learned from
is that when people want something, they ambush the place or  person form which they want it. Apparently, the farmers of Carlson were rallying. They wanted to solve the mysteryof our growing garden. I was reading in my room when I saw them out of the corner or my eye. They were allmarching toward our house with pitchforks. Now, I’m not one to give a damn about clichés, but I had to marvel attheir attention to classic mob fashion. For a second I thought I had been transported into a Mary Shelley-inspireddream, but it was all too real. My parents came into my room and asked if the large crowd consisted of my friendswho wanted to come over.
Howard 3
“Paul, Martha,” I began, “This may come as a shock to you, but my poop possesses so many nutrients thatour yard has become somewhat of a jungle, and I think people are going to demand to know the secret.”My parents looked confused. “Whoa,” Paul said. “Are they going to use force?”“Well,” I said, “They
equipped with pitchforks. You be the judge.”“Riverside, don’t talk to them,” Martha advised. “Violence isn’t the answer. We’ll stay inside and singsongs about the situation and wait for them to come to their senses.As much as I dreaded the thought of singing with my parents, I stayed inside as the farmers drew nearer.They stood in my yard expectantly, and I watched from the window. One farmer lit a match and threw it into one of our rose bushes. Instantly the garden was set ablaze, everything burning in the chaos.“They’re burning our jasmine!” my mother cried!“Our weed!” Paul yelled.I glanced at their upset faces, and realized what I had to do. “Damn it,” I muttered, and I walked to the frontdoor and opened it. I was met by a roaring crowd of “Farmer Browns” and “Farmer Daves” demanding to knowwhat we had done to grow such a magnificent garden. Jesus Christ. I thought humans had become more civilizedthan this. Was I going to tell these people the truth? Was I going to tell them that I had super poop? I would becomemore of an outcast. I would be avoided by all. Suddenly I was reminded of one of Frankenstein’s monster’s lines. “I,the miserable and the abandoned, am an abortion, to be spurned at, and kicked, and trampled on.” Oh my God. Thismob was at my house because of my abnormality. I was a freak of nature. I was just like Frankenstein’s monster. Iwas just like De Niro.I can handle a lot of things—hippie parents, mockery at school, magical poop—but I can’t handle thethought of being like Robert De Niro or any character he plays. That’s where I draw the line. I knew at that pointthat something had to be done. I cleared my throat.“Farmers of Carlson,” I bellowed. “You want to know why our yard has grown so well so quickly? Thetruth may shock you, and I’m guessing you won’t want to treat your crops I have been. I, Riverside Zoo, have poopthat fertilizes crops so well that they grow overnight.”A stunned silence hung in the air.“So… Um… Yeah,” I said. “That’s it.”Then a farmer spoke. “Would you be willing to sell your poop to us?” Other farmers nodded and reiteratedthe question. It was my turn to be silent. Seriously? They wanted my poop…How was one supposed to respond tosuch a bizarre request? I stammered and didn’t give a direct answer. Selling your poop is like turning off the radiowhile “Bohemian Rhapsody” is playing—it’s just not done. But I needed cash. My parents would supply me with allthe pot I could dream of, but they had never given me much money, and I needed to start saving for college.“Alright,” I finally replied. “I, Riverside Zoo, offer my poop for your planting.” The farmers broke out incheers. Together they helped but out the fire that was still burning in my yard, and began to go back from whensthey came. It was strange seeing a savage mob turn into a group of friendly farmers over the course of nine shortminutes. Once, they had all gone, I went back inside and locked myself in my room. I was fairly certain that I wasclinically insane. A dropped down onto my bed and conked out.Over the next few months, my new “business” really took off. My poop profits helped me pay for collegetuition. The town of Carlson became hugely successful, and many farmers from surrounding areas flocked to thetown to learn why the farmers there were so successful. Some people have condemned me and the town for our ab-normal ways, but I don’t care at all about them. I’m writing a book called
 The Compost Toilet and Me: aMemoir
. Maybe someday they’ll make a movie about me. I expect it would be a terrific, award-winning film, aslong as Robert De Niro has nothing to do with it. Maybe angry mobs aren’t terrible, primitive things, but groups of 

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