Million-Dollar Smile

February 24th, 2013

Tyler Roth

English 302A: Journal 5


My eyes widened and my right hand lost all feeling. I didn’t hear the receiver hit the floor but I’m sure it made a sound. Somehow I got myself to sit down on the couch in the living room and simply stared at the white wall across the room for about 25 minutes. White wasn’t what I saw however, all I could see was my best friend Will’s face. That million-dollar smile that always helped swoon the ladies and the confidence he carried with him went hand in hand. How could it be possible that he was now lying, almost broken, in a hospital bed just waiting to die? The doctor’s told me that he had lost a lot of blood, in addition to severe brain trauma, and didn’t have much longer to live.

As soon as I was able to gather my bearings, I rushed to the car and drove to Falls Church Hospital. It began raining shortly after I started driving making it all seem too surreal. I’d known this kid my entire life; we had been through everything together. Memories began flooding my brain. Memories of us building sand castles at the beach when we were young, going to our first parties when we were in high school, and taking our girlfriends to the movies together when we were in college. His smile kept reappearing in my head and I did my best to shake it off and focus on the road before I ended up in a predicament similar to his. The scariest part was that I didn’t feel sad. No tears welled up under my eyes, no screams full of pain and longing for the friend I once was able to do anything with; just emptiness. I knew that I was in shock, however, and the real emotions would overwhelm me once I saw him.

I arrived at the hospital and rushed inside where the receptionist told me that his room was number 212. I ran up the steps and, before I knew it, was at his door. What are you even going to say to him? Does he know that he is about to die? How could this have possibly happened? Were only a few of the thoughts screeching through my head. I took a deep breath and entered. He was lying in a bed semi-conscious staring up at the ceiling. He looked and saw that it was me who had entered and immediately that smile lit his face up as if there had been no accident at all. That is when I lost it. The floodgates opened up out of nowhere and I began to cry profusely. “Hey! What’s the matter champ? Its not like we’re in a hospital or anything.” His jokes always led me to, in turn, try my million-dollar smile (which usually ended up being a ten dollar smile) but this time all I was able to muster was a gagging noise while I tried to stop crying. “Sit down bud, lets have a little chat,” he said in the calmest voice I think anyone could make after being in a serious car accident.

I sat next to him and the next couple of minutes were silent as I didn’t know what to say and he attempted to catch his breath so he could speak. “Listen, no matter what happens I want you to do something for me” he said. “Live your life the way you know I would have wanted. Be the best you can be man. That’s all I ask, okay?” ironically it was me this time that needed a couple of minutes to catch my breath and speak. “Okay,” was all I could rally. “Anything for you Will.” That was the last time I saw that smile that now means so much to me. Moments later he began struggling to breathe. The heart rate monitor began beeping erratically and nurses rushed in. “You’re gonna be okay! You’re gonna be okay Will!” was all I could choke out through the sobs as the nurses forced me to wait outside. They left the door open and when I heard the heart rate monitor steady into a monotonous singular tone I knew it was over.

Aunt Catherine

February 18th, 2013

Tyler Roth

English 302A


prompt 3e

“This is Virginia Highway patrolman Bill Jenkins. There has been an accident.” The immediate cold that swept over me after pressing the answering machine button was the furthest thing from comforting. I knew that alcohol would one day be the death of my father, and remembering him say, “fuck this, I’m going to the bar. I’ll deal with you when I get home” two hours earlier led me to come to one conclusion. A police officer arrived at the door about an hour later to take whoever was home to the scene of the accident so that they could identify the body. The officer seemed more upset about this than I was, but that’s only because the officer didn’t know what kind of person my father was. After all, I’m only fourteen and if asked I couldn’t guess anywhere near the number of times my father had beat me for various reasons. Until my mother died, everything was serene. But that fatefully plane crash en route to Chicago, Illinois three years ago turned my father into a completely different person. Alcohol consumed him and once he agreed to its terms, there was no turning back.

As the patrol car pulled up on the accident scene, flares ablaze surrounding a car that looked as if it smashed into a telephone pole going no less than 90 miles an hour, I could smell the burnt rubber of the tires and even from afar could see the flames that engulfed the car. Shortly after I stepped out of the patrol car, rain started coming down lightly from the grey cloudy sky. I thought this seemed fitting, for my father had become nothing more than a colorless man, full of pain and anguish.

“The body is right this way Mr. Banner,” another officer said softly to me. I followed the man to a charred and blackened mass of flesh. Somehow, my fathers body was still in one piece and his face was damaged the least. “Yeah, that’s him,” I said coldly. As I looked into my father’s eyes, they seemed just as lifeless as they had for the last three years. Whatever kind of man my father was died along with my mother well before this car accident.

“We’ve already arranged for you to stay with your aunt Catherine,”  the officer told me. “Aunt who?” I questioned. I had met Aunt Janet and Aunt Beth on my mother’s side a couple of times but did not know of any aunt Catherine. “You’ve never met your fathers sister?” the officer said rather confused. Before I could answer, a car rolled up and a woman looking to be in her early sixties stepped out. I recognized the cold expression on her face as one similar to that of my father for the last three years.

The woman briskly walked up to us two standing by the body and said “It’s ok child, you’re safe with me now.” She said this gently but for some reason it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and the last thing I wanted to do at that moment was go with her. The woman’s green eyes were razor sharp and she led me to the car door. As I got in, I looked back at the officer who, like the other one, held a very sad look on his face. I couldn’t fathom why, but for some reason I got the feeling that this woman was not who she said she was and meant me harm. Before I could comprehend what was happening, the car door slammed shut.

First Stop, Cairo

February 11th, 2013

Tyler Roth

English 302A

Journal 3: Burroway, try this: pg. 12


She got out of the car. The tightly pulled back pony tail and black blazer looked natural on her. Her strut was steady and even while her steps were long and powerful. She crossed the street without a thought about checking for cars first because her mind was on other things. As she approached the stairs she looked up at the gargoyle perched above her. It was menacing, as if to ward away those who meant harm to its home but today, the gargoyle would not be able to protect this building. No one would be able to protect it.

As she walked through the double doors of the bank, she ran through her plan as she had done countless times before in the previous month. Guards stood at the entrance and she casually smiled and gave one a wink as she moved past them towards the teller windows. That was her strength. She could switch personas as if it was second nature. Once second she was the innocent schoolgirl just looking for a good time and the next she had a knife at your throat and would not hesitate to end your life. The guards followed her tight black leather pants as she approached the teller line. While waiting her turn, she went over the plan one last time and made a last second adjustment after determining that the guard’s were armed.

When it was her turn, the teller she was hoping for politely greeted her, asking what she could do for the woman this afternoon. The woman put her million-dollar smile back on and without a moments notice opened her jacket to reveal an explosive device strapped to her body and said in the coldest tone the teller had ever heard “make a sound and I will end your life.” The teller froze in fear. Looking into the woman’s eyes once was all she needed to know that this statement was the truth. The teller thought about all the action movies she’d seen where a person would heroically save the day by stopping the lunatic trying to rob a bank but not surprisingly, other customers and employees were either too busy or too preoccupied to notice what was happening at the end of the row. The teller nodded frantically and the woman said, “I want you to tell your manager that a personal matter has come up and you need to leave immediately. If you tell him anything else, I will kill everyone. If you do anything other than what I just commanded, I will kill everyone nod if you understand. The teller nodded, did what she was told, and led the woman out into the streets which were almost as busy as the bank itself.

Once outside the woman led the teller to a car and once both were inside she said “I’m sorry it had to be this way but your assistance is required and I couldn’t risk taking no for an answer. The specifics of what we are about to do are not important at this time. However I will tell you that you are the key to stopping the biggest crisis every experienced on this earth. We are going to the airport. Our first stop is Cairo, Egypt.” The bluntness of what this woman was telling her sent the teller into shock and she had no idea the journey she was about to embark on.

Brilliant Blue

February 4th, 2013

Tyler Roth

English 302A

Journal 2: Burroway, Warm-Up, page 87


The wrinkles covering her face attempted to hide it but one could see that the passion was alive in her eyes. They sparkled a brilliant blue and gleamed even more when she focused on her daughter. One couldn’t tell by the muddy leaf covered hut they lived in or the naked skin on their feet but when she looked upon her daughter, she was the luckiest woman alive. Her husbands smile emanated from her daughter when she received a treat and although it brought her great joy, the lump in her heart at his lose almost overwhelmed her emotions. The woman could still picture crystal clear in her mind the day he was beheaded for protecting them from rebel soldiers and it haunted her dreams all the more. However, as her daughter played with stray dogs and laughed with other children, it was almost as if he was still alive and well.

As she strained to teach her daughter the reading and writing skills of her people, the woman longed for the day she would tighten the straps of her daughters backpack and place her lunch neatly inside as her daughter impatiently jumped up and down waiting for her friends to arrive so they could walk to school together. When her husbands lifeless body didn’t vividly flood her mind, she dreamt of the life she so desperately wanted for her daughter. She pictured a suit fitting perfectly on her daughter’s narrow shoulders and a briefcase occupying her right hand. She imagined an office with a computer and a shelf of seemingly endless books. The dream was just out of reach and although it could not become a reality at present, she so anxiously hoped it would one day.

Her daughter would constantly voice her dreams of moving to America and riding her pony, named Cruz (Spanish for tails), to work as the sun shone radiantly on her path. As her daughter expressed her dream, the woman would recognize a brilliant blue sparkle in her eyes and could not help but laugh, and with a wide smile of only a dozen dull yellow teeth, tell her that this dream would one day come to fruition. Yet she knew that it would take a miracle from the hands of God alone to make this a reality. Still, the daughter would carry on about ludicrous visions such as riding dolphins in her free time and buying gallons of ice cream to quench her craving of sweets and the woman would continuously agree and tell the daughter “one day, my love.”

As the woman worked the fields with her compadres, full of vegetation to be eaten by those more fortunate than herself, they would discuss their children’s future and time after time the woman would declare the plans she had for her daughter to be successful. Her vision was so vivid and so full of fervor that the other women couldn’t help but agree and, gazing off into the beaming sun, reverie of its fulfillment. Likewise, the woman would smile almost toothlessly and as she gazed at the sun, her heart would break a little more each day because, although she’d admit it to no one, not even herself, the vision was only alive and would only ever be alive inside her head. Ever so slightly, her brilliant blues eyes would become dull and almost inert.