Essays & Shorts

The Question | The Beauty Around Us | Faith |
The Sharp Turn | The Chicken Coup

The Beauty Around Us

The dimness of morning crept up between the blood red brick building covered with the stains of past tenants. Its etched walls showed evidence of past auto accidents and other scars caused by those who brought its lovely walls to existence. The worn skin gave off a mesmerizing beauty that derived many questions to my mind; what secrets did those majestic walls witness?

It was 6 AM downtown Medford. The glass on my windshield crystallized into a foggy diamond that desired a jeweler's touch. Through the glare of the sun I could barely make out distinct details of a "Sell it on EBay" sign that lay on the buildings exterior. From what I could see the store was only a partition of the true building. The other partitions consisted of a little coffee shop, which took on a theme mixed with an old log cabin and Hawaiian influence, and a little law office that seemed to be poorly designed by a secretary or perhaps a lawyer's wife. The zombie like figures walked off to their desired destinations unaware of what lay before them.

The cars begin drudgingly emerging into eyesight with a tired and mechanical tone to them. As they approach the traffic control device they follow them without capriciousness. It makes me wonder sometimes will I be like them when I am done with college. Will I be as oblivious to the beauty around me as others are? I suppose only time will tell.

-Aaron Read

The Chicken Coup

I always knew that it would be torn down some day, and yet I seemed to have a shred of regret for its loss. Don't get me wrong, I wanted the damn thing to go away, and yet I didn't want it to. I seemed to be attached to it. I spent so many days and nights working on it that had a couple issues letting all of that work go to waste, or should I say "go to crap..." All that I know is that life has a funny way of making things blow up in your face. It wastes your time and energy. What do you have to show for it? I'll tell you what I had to show for it: A problem. The problem was my parents "Chicken Coup".

It was on June 10, 2001 when I first lay my eyes upon its burnt charred walls. I thought it was a dump, but my parents thought it was the "Perfect Chicken Coup." It was the size of half of a low-income housing bedroom and was missing one wall from what appeared to be a fire accident. The sides that was adjacent to the missing side where stained black and brown with charcoal with missing planks along the walls here and there. The roof had many problems. It once had nice wood shingles that covered it, but now all it had was a few bowed black pieces of wood that covered some spots over the wreckage. If you were to look up through it you would se daylight emitting through the sooty cracks that encased the ceiling. They lay on a few scorched 2 by 4 beams. Some of which, were split in two, or worn down in sections of the beams making them skinny in several places. Despite all the issues with it there was still one good wall that seemed to be holding what was left of the barn together.

When I saw this I thought it couldn't get any worst than this. Oh boy was I wrong. I thought we would just tear it down and build a new one. It probably would have been best to do this, but my parents love to save money and make the best of what we got. So, naturally they made me fix it up. I tore out what was left of the shingles on the roof. I replaced almost all of the beams that could pose a problem to the new plastic greenhouse roof cover, and I also reinforced the 2 burnt walls. Then finally cutting out a door in the wall that faced my house, and making a new larger door over the once opening to the chicken coup. To complete the work I added a 30 by 12 feet chicken wire around the missing wall side of the barn, and voila!

Once I finished the work on the newly made chicken coup. The parents immediately went to the Grange Co-op and bought 12 chickens. Weary from the work that they had put me through, I declined setting up the food tray and the water tray. All in all I was pretty satisfied by the way the chicken coup came out. Believe it or not I was actually thinking of coming around to the idea of the chicken coup. This lasted for about three months. Then the serious issues started. If it wasn't the fact that I had to go feed and water the damn things everyday, it was the putrid smell of moldy feces emitting every time I stepped outside my house. As the days went by, I exclusively increased my absences from my house. I ignored them for awhile.

After that I would rarely go out to the chicken coup and began to resent it quite a lot. When I did I would have to clear the 4 inch layer of chicken wastes and mud along with some of their chicken feed out of their living space. I also noticed that their food was decreasing excessively. I was very suspicious of this and assumed that something was eating it for them. I guessed that it was rats, since not that many animals could get into the sealed tight chicken coup. When I looked around the chicken coup I saw several holes, large holes. Then the rat noises started. It was completely disgusting. All I could do was put rat poison out and stop letting the chickens out. Needless to say that didn't work.

My mom got tired of making her chickens stay in the odorous mess, and let them out to graze away from the filth. This was a very bad idea because her fatal error was always forgetting to close the chicken coup. Thus when night came, animals got into the chicken coup and ate 3 chickens. The thing was a freaking animal beacon. For the next month things got worse. The chickens were being attacked more and more and we found out that they're attackers were coyotes. More and more were dieing until we only had 3 chickens left. Finally we realized that the chicken coup was getting out of hand. We gave the chickens to a friend that already had chickens and tore down the "Perfect Chicken Coup". When it was all down in pieces we burned it.

Although I put a lot of effort into making the chicken coup work and tried really hard, it didn't matter. Tearing down the chicken coup and burning it was the best thing that could have happened. It got rid of the stench, relinquished me of the feeding and watering duties, and opened up the yard to something new. Doing this made my backyard not as "Trailer Trash". It made it easier to plant gardens and other things like that. All in all I am glad that the "Perfect Chicken Coup" is gone. Even though I wasted a lot of time and effort; that is life. Sometimes things don't come out perfectly and we have to both embrace them and hold to it, or let it go and move on.

-Aaron Read


It was a chilly evening in London, England; the type of cold that goes straight to the bone and stays there for hours even after you have been in a warm room for an extended period of time. It had only been a few hours since we found out the news. "Aaron, we are so sorry to tell you this, but your grandfather passed away yesterday," expressed my aunt solemnly.

I walked on, stewing over the events that had transpired. Flashes of memories passed through my mind of my grandfather blaming his bad beads on "the fickle finger" when I was beating him in scrabble. And all the years that he spent waking up at 5:00 A.M. to feed my grandmother's birds made me start to think that upon birth, life starts a countdown to our inevitable demise. I began asking questions to myself about "why humanity is?" It wasn't until much later that I found out the answer to that question. The answer is faith.

Without some sort of faith in our lives, we cannot have complete self fulfillment or meaning. It drives us to do better, and to reach our full life's potential.

-Aaron Read

The Question?

So here I sit, empty with possibilities. A stop sign lay before me, steadfast in nature and holding true to the justice of the law. A van passes probably a mother taking her son to a soccer match on a Friday afternoon. A shade of love covers my view of the scorching of the sun's immense heat. Just another Friday, I tell myself. Yet here I sit; with the law giving me my orders, and the world going its own way. Could this be all there is?

I stare out my dusty muck covered windshield like a television set; taking in stories of grandeur and derivations of others creative mind. As I stare I see an old man walking with anxious stepping. He seems as though it could hurt his very soul to withstand the power of the fire from above. Yet even with this pain that addresses a physical malady a feeling of serenity gusts over me giving me restoration. His years seem to wane.

-Aaron Read

The Sharp Turn

Throughout my life I have experienced many dangerous things most kids never should. I have broken my back, been in near death experiences, and even almost drowned as a baby. Yet, only one stands out above all the others: my first car accident. Before my car accident I was arrogant, impulsive and down-right careless. It wasn't until after this accident that my outlook on life would take a sharp turn to optimistic, and I would start thinking about how precious life is and how easily it can be taken away.

It all started on a mildly cold September day. The sky had deep shades of gray and looked as though it was holding an ocean in its dark depths. My family and I had just finished church nearly one hour prior when we decided to go out to breakfast. Because I had invited my friend to stay over the night before, he had to go to church with us and of course, breakfast. After breakfast I decided it was time to take him home.

My driver's license was new; I only had it for a couple of weeks, and was still a little edgy when it came to driving. The road to my friend's house was very remote and extremely secluded. The winding path towards his house was meandering and hard to follow. I struggled to remember the directions he half-heartedly muttered all the while thinking it was a lot more complicated than he made it appear. I resigned myself to using landmarks as my ultimate guide. Eventually, I reached his house and dropped him off.

The drive back was excruciatingly tedious and long. My irritation rose as the scene grew monotonous. I couldn't find my landmarks, and when I thought something looked familiar it turned out to be my eyes taking sides with the road in the fight to get home. After about an hour of driving, I realized that I was lost! With my temper soaring I profusely hit my steering wheel swearing under my breath as my foot began to get heavier on the accelerator. As I started to approach a speed of 60 to 65 miles per hour (way too fast for this windy road) I saw to my horror ahead of me a sharp, narrow turn. My heart sank; I knew this was going to be trouble. At that moment all time seemed to cease and my anger immediately switched to fear as my heart began racing faster and faster. I immediately struck the breaks to slow my blood-of-a-bitch fueled engine, but to no avail. Ahead of me was that bloody curve! In a split second, I opted to go for the ditch instead of the curve-only to find there was no ditch! To my horror I had launched like the "Dukes of Hazard" over a 50 ft. embankment. Time seemed to stop. "Oh, SH##########T" I screamed. Death seemed to be easing closer to my mind. The first hit on the ground was so loud and the crunching of metal was unforgettable. I felt a punch on my chest as the seat belt grasped my trembling body. In the next second, I was sent soaring through the air twisting and flipping in a whirlwind of confusion. "Oh God, save me" I cried! Lunging towards the earth at jet speed, something caught the corner of my eye. I was inches from the oak that would ironically save me from a sudden and painful death. As my eyes came into focus, I realized I was upside down. A great amount of adrenaline rushed through my veins, I was still alive!

Hovering over the shattered muddy glass that surrounded my former car roof, I unbuckled my seatbelt; and my body collapsed onto its twisted frame. I reached for the door to free my scare-stricken self and it wouldn't release. Freakishly, I maneuvered my body towards the immotile door and slammed my feet to its side with what little strength I had left. Surprisingly enough, it flew open quite easily. I knew then that something not seen was giving me a "super human" strength. I crawled out and gazed among the wreckage. "How could this have happened to me?" I cried. Immediately the anger amassed up in me again. I screamed with fury; grabbed a twisted chunk of mangled metal and threw it at what was left of my deformed little car. "Could this get any worse" I yelled. Contemplating my next genius move; I looked back just in time to witness the sudden explosion of my car! It was on fire! What's worse; the trees were on fire! (I couldn't believe this was happening). "These things happen in the movies not in real life" I thought. Weird things floated through my head like; "my homework is burning up" and "my wallet is in there!" Shaken with fear and fueled by hatred, I climbed the 50 foot embankment with no ease. Once I reached the top I looked to the road with teary eyes; the chill of the rain on my tattered, bloody body. I began to feel the throbbing pain in my left hand; I collapsed to my knees in defeat.

There was so much pain; my heart, my hand, my body and I began to weep out loud. I could feel myself melting away as I laid there on the side of that remote, country road. My anger is what drove me to this point. I came to the breaking edge; the severity of the entire situation weighed heavily upon my shoulders. I had been a jerk, an arrogant teenage brat. If I didn't change something in my life, I would never get to experience my first true love, living on my own, or the trials and triumphs of adulthood!

My only chances of survival were if someone drove by and wasn't too afraid to pick up my bloodied body. The chances of that were slim, it was just too far out, and I knew I'd perish before someone would come. I prayed and looked to the HEAVENS, "Help me LORD!"

All of a sudden, a woman drove by. I saw the horror on her face. "Stop, stop" I cried, but she did not even hesitate. "Oh, God please make her stop" I cried. Suddenly, she slammed on her brakes and backed up her car. At that moment I knew I was not going to die, I would get another chance at life. My heart was filled with relief, thankfulness. All of a sudden, the pains in my body and hand were severe almost unbearable! She had calmness about her I will never forget, it made me feel as if everything was going to be OK. As it turned out I broke my hand, had multiple bruises across my chest and head. Least of all, I received a bad case of poison oak in the process from climbing up that cliff. OUCH! I am amazed to this day that I did not suffer worse injuries.

I was given a second chance at life and this time I would not waste it on anger. It was the cause of so many problems in my life, the accident just being the largest. I now know that God really does exist. I should have died that day but he was with me. God has something GREAT for me to do here in this life and I cannot wait to find out what it is. I now treat my life as a gift rather than something owed to me and I do treat it carefully now. Needless to say I strongly believe that life is precious and should be cared for with great diligence.

-Aaron Read