Ms. Murlow’s Strawberries

Written by Margaret Delaplane

“Sun’s out m’lady!” Hollered the paperboy as he tossed a rolled newspaper over the

white picket fence periphery of Ms. Murlows’ garden. It landed on the welcome mat at her feet

with a thud; she smiled, gave him a gracious nod, and then stooped to pick it up. He wished her a

good day and rode off on his bicycle to continue deliveries. Humming all the while, Ms. Murlow

gathered the necessary tools and began to tend her garden.

The garden was indeed a sight to see; strawberry bushes filled to the brim with scarlet red

berries and dainty, white flowers. The townspeople liked to stop by to marvel at how pristine and

lovely it was, nestled in the heart of town. Her only rule, “do not touch my berries,” was so

permanently ingrained in everyone’s minds that none disobeyed her. Instead, they picked up pies

or shortcakes for their families, and would on occasion, spark up a small chat with Ms. Murlow.

Housewives liked to inquire about recipes or the upkeep of such an involved patch of greenery,

and Ms. Murlow would laugh the queries off and say, “oh my dears, it’s the color. Have you ever

seen such brilliantly red berries? I attribute both the aesthetics of my garden and the taste of my

fine desserts to such.” This puzzled them significantly.

It’s unheard of really, for a massive collection of strawberry plants to be grown in such a

manner of perfection, but Ms. Murlow could be seen gardening for the majority of each day. She

clipped the branches which began to hang over the fence and twisted wire around stakes to

secure the roots to them. And she watered them, loving to see the drops gather about the leaves

and the tiniest of green seeds in the strawberries. Ms. Murlow often found herself imagining little

rivers and waterfalls flowing over her prized plants, keeping them ripe and hydrated. Because of

this, they were a deep, bold, red. Her neighbors often attempted to think of a name for such a

color.

“It is positively crimson,” said one.

“Don’t be silly they’re scarlet,” another chimed in.

“Ladies, they’re ruby. I’m sure of it.” Piped the last. And so, it was final. Ms. Murlows’

strawberries were a striking ruby red.

This remained undisputed for years and Ms. Murlow was soon known in town for her

wonderful gem-toned strawberries and desserts. However, this reality would be destined to

change. On one summer day, as she was tending to her strawberry bushes, trimming dead stems

and over-grown leaves that hung near the ground with sharp clippers, when a boy strolled down

the lane. He made a deliberate turn toward her and continued to move closer. The blinding

sunlight illuminated him, revealing his identity to her; it was Timothy. She propped up her

clippers against a rock, blades pointed toward the sky. He stopped on the sidewalk in front of her

house and swung his legs up to sit on the fence. He settled in, so perfectly perched atop the

fence-poles, and with a swift movement of the arm, plucked a berry from a bush and popped it

into his mouth. Ms. Murlow was in shock; never had someone so blatantly disrespected the

boundary of her fence and the gravity of her rule. He couldn’t have been aware of her watching

him from below the barrier of leaves, but when she stood, he was calm.

She looked at him, sensing a known unfamiliarity in the way he carried himself. This

boy, a staple of innocence in town, was not himself that day. Regathering her purpose, they made

eye contact as she desperately searched for any explanation. Regathering her purpose and anger,

she slapped him across the face. Ms. Murlow hadn’t any idea what the effects of this could be,

but what she hadn’t accounted for… was his startled reaction to her dramatic confrontation. He

fell. Head over heels into the garden, the clippers piercing through his chest as he plummeted

into the underbrush. At first, there was only screaming, and then, equally as horrifying, he fell

silent.

Ms. Murlow lowered herself to the grass, and before she could lay her eyes on the bloody

massacre of what were now her beloved strawberry bushes, she felt it. A river of blood flowing

from under the leaves, pooling where she sat on the lawn. Gasping, she stood up, drenched in the

scarlet juices of the little boy down to even her undergarments. It truly was a horrifying sight to

see: Ms. Murlow hovering above the mangled corpse slowly tipping into madness. And then she

noticed her strawberries. Glistening an even brighter red than before, and damp with droplets of

blood.

She went inside, not able to breathe, and sat silently watching the garden through her

window until nightfall. She awoke in the morning to an otherworldly sight; her strawberries…

were an even deeper red than before. And the body, it was gone, leaving only the strawberries.

She ran out into the garden and dug around the bushes trying to find timothy, but with no luck,

she sighed. Looking up at the juicy red berries that hung just out of reach of where she sat on the

ground, she couldn’t help but smile, they were even more perfect than before. Ms. Murlow

ignored all signs of danger or foul play: the missing body, the sudden color change, and utter

insanity of what had happened. She thought only of the housewives in town whose jealousies

would only grow, and the little children who would come to marvel at them or to ask for a bite.

Now in a normal sense, it would be cruel to use the term insanity of someone with a

seemingly sane personality, but in such a circumstance it is necessary to evaluate the characters’

actions. And in this particular moment, every feeling of anxiety and psychosis filled Ms.

Murlow’s mind, altering whatever normalcies she had left. So, while studying the berries,

hanging from the bushes, so seemingly suspended in thin air. She snagged one off of the lowest

handing branch… the one most indistinguishably reddened, and took a bite.

Each flavor hit her with more power than the one before; first, she tasted the familiar

sweet strawberry essence of. And then, all the saltiness and metallic undertones of blood made

themselves known. It was unremarkably akin to the taste of a busted lip, or when a loose tooth

finally falls out, but nonetheless, she loved it. In every way, she loved it. The way the outer layer

held a bitterness and the innards were ‘sweet as sugar’ gave all the notions of a dessert of the

utmost sophistication.

The next morning, all the townspeople found strawberry pastries at their doorsteps, and

shared them with families during every meal of the day. They noticed a subtle bitterness of their

treats but thought nothing of it, as they were delicious in taste and beautiful in appearance. Many

of them debated whether the new color of the berries was more of a burgundy or a rose, and

when asked, Ms. Murlow only smiled and said, “they’re more of a blood-red don’t you think?”

and everyone agreed.

The Venom Within

Written by Jake Hays

It’s been 3 days since I’ve left my bed for anything other than the bare necessities of life- plus the occasional gluttonous indulgence, cycled with unintentional periods of starvation, stemming from my inability to rise from my bed: my throne. There is nothing more comfortable than my throne: its warm embrace to my cold body, the softness of my sheets against the callousness of my skin, and the sweet caress of my pillow against my pained head. It’s my haven, a heaven in a world of hell, although it’s a double-edged sword, just like everything else in this world.

My doctor says I’m clinically depressed, which I believe to be a perfectly rational reaction to the evil in the world. It’s hard to be a human being. In my throne I don’t have to worry about the minutiae of life or anything else besides what I’ll eat next, at least on the good days. On my good days I take my Xanax before my comorbid anxiety can consume me; on my bad days, I spiral into a panic— convincing myself I’m not real and that I’m about to die… usually from a heart attack but sometimes more exotic ways such as being struck by a stray bolt of electricity (which honestly doesn’t seem all that bad). The heaviness in my heart is the first symptom, a feeling of a 50lb weight being laid on my chest. Then my heart starts to race as a cold sweat begins to engulf my body. It creates a positive feedback cycle, where anxiety begets more anxiety: until my Xanax can kick in. It’s a cycle of suffering. I have no motivation beyond the basic drive to eat and drink; which even that, I sometimes fail to fulfill. Everyday I wonder when I’ll reach my final straw, when the stress and suffering will become too much. 

I have no one. My one love died too young, a victim of cancer’s long, painful kiss of death. My parents were also blessed to have graced the presence of the proverbial grim reaper. All the friends I’d had are either dead or I left with nothing said. I’m alone, secluded to the confines of my throne. They think that pills can fix profound suffering; I’ve tried MAOI’s, SSRI’s, SNRI’s, TCA’s, Atypical Antipsychotics, every Anxiolytic ever created, and even Beta Blockers and seizure meds— none of which have worked. Even the best of meds, at best, can make me rise from my throne for an hour at a time. 

At some point in life you come to a realization, none of it matters. We’re inconsequential to anyone except ourselves; we’re minute compared to the vastness of the world. I have nothing but suffering here, so I’ve decided it’s time that I shed my last tear.

With every ounce of energy I have left in my body I rise from my throne for the last time. I grab the snake that I’ve kept in my closet all these years, hoping it would get better, but I’m just as hopeless and lost. The world has given me nothing but pain and regrets. I hope soon I’ll be reunited with my lover, although I think I’ll more likely simply cease to exist. I wrap the snake around a hook in the ceiling; willingly, I oblige to its venomous bite, although the snake didn’t doll the final blow, rather it was the venom within that was the root of this great sin. It was always just the venom within.

The Sunken Cathedral

Beneath rolling waves forgotten house rests, 

Where bells once did ring now lies in silence,

These once strong stones now in blue they are dressed,

Stained glass depicting thoust who is highest ,

These crumbling walls worn by the maritime,

That which was once grand is now quite humble,

Bright greens and reds dimmed by the hand of time,

Towering spires now turned into rubble,

Once warmly received by those near to her,

Now toss her to the depths of solitude,

Gifts of shame and sorrow they do confer,

The dark wolf once overcome now renewed,

Words of woe and sorrow they do speak true,

For thou now rests beneath The Blue Danube.

Signing Day

by Aiden Mihill

Wednesday was National Signing Day, where students from across the country sign letters of intent to play for their colleges. Lassiter honored their fall and winter sports, and cheered as 7 Trojans signed to colleges.

Swim and Dive led off, and had 3 Lady Trojans sign to universities. Allison Brown committed to Georgia Tech, Francie Carson signed to UGA, and Bridget O’Shaughnessy committed to Army West Point. The 2-time defending state champion Trojans continue their swim and dive season throughout the winter.

Next, 3 time letterman Ellie Kean took the stage to commit to North Georgia. The back-to-back champion softball team finished their season with a victory over River Ridge.

David Panone, representing Lassiter wrestling, signed onto Belmont Abbey, a D-2 school in North Carolina. Panone went 143-10 as a Trojan, and was named a Fargo All American. Wrestling continues their season throughout the winter, closing in early February.

Volleyball was the last sport to come to the stage, sending 2 seniors to universities. Katie Bochniak signed on to attend Troy, a university in Alabama (fittingly named the Trojans). Katie had over 2000 assists and appeared in multiple State championship games for the Trojans. Kate Kudlak, who was a key piece to the Trojans’ deep postseason runs, committed to Colorado School of Mines, a D-2 school. Volleyball ended their season with a loss to Sequoyah in the state semifinals.

Allatoona vs Lassiter Game Recap

By Aiden Mihill

ACWORTH – Allatoona used a strong running game and stellar defense to destroy Lassiter, 49-17, on a rainy Homecoming night. The Trojans, without starter Bryson Harrison due to a throwing arm injury, turned to freshman Levi Mundt for this game, who played well in his Lassiter debut, going 4-14 for 128 yards and a touchdown to Danny Curran on an 82-yard score. Lassiter’s two junior running backs, Sam Gadsden and Jaheem Murray, combined for 98 yards on 24 carries. Allatoona used a dominating performance on the ground, getting 5 total rushing touchdowns from 3 different players, including multiple of 55 yards or more. The Bucs also blocked a punt just 5 minutes into the game and returned it for a score, and forced a fumble deep in Lassiter territory to go along with multiple fourth down stops. Lassiter next faces Kell at the Frank with a spot in the state playoffs on the line. Allatoona, already in the playoffs, hosts Pope next Friday for the 2nd seed in region standings.

Softball State Championship Recap

By Aiden Mihill

COLUMBUS, GA – Lassiter defeated River Ridge, 7-4, to become State champions for the second year in a row. Gracyn Tucker had a 3-run home run and Ellie Kean launched a 2-run shot for the Trojans, as they capped off a run beating Winder-Barrow, Glynn Academy, Creekview, Cambridge and River Ridge to take the 6A title. The Knights led 2-0 after 4 innings, but a 5-run 5th gave the Trojans a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Lillian Holhouser added an RBI as well, to cap off the Trojans’ 34-2 season. Congratulations to Trojan Softball!

Word Salad

By Alex Lalic

With a heavy thump I set down my load. That overwhelming noise of a hundred conversations fills my ears as I journey to the salad bar. I amble up, a smile on my face.

It’s lunchtime; it’s time for my daily salad.

I tell the kindly lady behind the glass, ham, croutons, and lettuce please. No, nothing else, thank you. She obliges, a smile on her face as she hands me a black plastic tray with a clear plastic container on it, filled with a wonderful bounty. Somedays, I am bold, and even ask for a double up on the croutons. As always, the kindly woman obliges me, and I am rewarded for my courage with many more of the golden-brown nuggets of garlic crunchy goodness.

This salad was my constant companion, my rock to rest upon in the violent ocean that was freshman year. Day after day, that salad, the dehydrated lettuce, the artificial tasting but still delicious ham, the salty garlic crunchy croutons, they do not betray me. They taste the same, but that is ok, they are always a delight to my tastebuds. It’s a ray of hope on dark days where there seems that there won’t be any respite, and a merry companion during better times. Friends may change, grades may slip, and spirits may grow low, but the salad never changes, it will always be good.

It was good.

Was.

As always in a malevolent universe, the good things must come to an end eventually.

Two years pass by. I have not entered the lunchroom in many days. Covid, bad scheduling, all conspire against my reunion. As shall I learn, the powers that be wish to suck every little bit of joy out of my life.

It is junior year; I enter the lunchroom and seek the succor of that wondrous salad. I walk in looking for the salad bar. I see it. Excitedly, I rush over to once again experience that comfort, that comfort I cherished so much. My eyes hit upon the clear plastic salad packs.

 I pause.

There is no more custom salad. There is no ham, no croutons, only prepackaged containers full of sad chunky yogurt, mushy apples, and knockoff crackers.

I am struck with grief.

No more salad : (

Coraline from a psychological perspective

By Juliana Malfitano

With Halloween fast approaching people can agree that although the animated film
Coraline was not intended to be strictly a “Halloween movie”, per se, it certainly is ominous enough to fall in that category. For brief context, Coraline is a movie where a girl, Coraline, moves into a new house with a secret door, and at night that door opens to a dream world, that is her life, her parents, her house, but way better. That is until her “other mother” tries to sew buttons in her eyes in order to trap her in this parallel universe. The plot is fast moving and just spooky enough. However, this kids’ movie can be seen as much more than the typical hero’s journey. Coraline may contain a cautionary tale to neglectful parents. To elaborate, Coraline’s parents often ignore her at all costs; therefore, at this new house she explores, meeting all the neighbors and trying to make friends. She leaves her home as a form of escapism from her parents. This leads movie watchers to believe that maybe this “parallel universe” she visits at night is not as fantastical as it seems. 

This other realm could truly be something put together in Coraline’s head, in order to imagine a perfect world where her parents love her the way she hopes for, or it could be just a work of fiction. This makes sense, because of the absurdity of the universe, with many child-like themes. These visions also only occur when she is completely alone, giving her time to be with her own thoughts. Often when children feel unloved, they create an idealized depiction of what their life could be. In Coraline’s case this dimension was too good to be true; this is characteristic of a child in this situation, because although they can fantasize, the life they wish for is likely not within reach. Of course, this may not be the case, but looking at this children’s film from this point of view can give a deeper appreciation of the director’s purpose. Additionally, because of the intended audience, the kids watching may see themselves in Coraline.

Lassiter supports Breast Cancer Awareness 

By: Caroline Alligood

October is nationally known as Breast Cancer awareness month and the Lassiter community successfully came together to support the cause. 

Lassiter’s DECA club sold pink out gear outside of the lunchroom all week leading up to the football pink out game. Boas, confetti cannons, t-shirts, beaded necklaces, and much more merchandise were sold. All of the proceeds from the merchandise were donated to the Turning Point Breast Cancer Rehabilitation Organization. With all of the sales made, the DECA club raised a total of $2,800 for the organization. A raffle for pink out gear was also held where students could pay $1 for a ticket and a chance to win a pink pair of converse. 

Students showed up and showed out in their pink for Friday night lights to support breast cancer awareness and cheered on the football team for a big win, 38-35, against Sprayberry.

In other sports news, the Lassiter volleyball team also had a pink out theme for their last regular season game against Kennesaw Mountain on October 6th.

While most teenagers aren’t affected by breast cancer, the support shown by the Lassiter student body for the cause was outstanding.

The Cafeteria

By: Sidney DeBrock

The cafeteria brings joy and light to the lives of many Lassiter High school students. It’s a place to take a load off and enjoy healthy meals. One of the best parts of lunch is waiting in line! While in the long line waiting for your lunch, you can think about the loads of unfinished homework due next period, or you could even ponder the meaning of life. The wait is worth it for the delicious reduced fat Doritos, and you can’t even taste the difference from the real thing! The top-notch food is overly nutritious, and it perfectly pairs the taste of cardboard with burnt plastic. Scrumptious! The FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) would definitely endorse the soda options, the half-frozen mixed-berry mush, and the nachos covered in “real” cheese.