Gryffin

United States

Published Work

Shot

My face is filled with disbelief. My hands tremble, and before I can stop myself, the phone tumbles out of my hand. It lies, face-up, fixed on a single block of text.

Mob Breaches Capitol.

But before I can grasp the situation, before the enormity of the situation descends upon me, the phone vibrates, and another notification pops up. Police guarding the Capitol; Lawmakers Evacuate, it reads.

I don’t pick it up. Or maybe I do. But I can’t remember. It happens so fast, dozens of beeps and pages springing up on the tiny device, pushing me closer to the brink of despair as I sat, pretty and poised, in my nice suburban home.

This can’t be happening, I thought in that peculiar way people do when something overwhelms them so completely. This can’t be happening. This can’t be happening... 

It felt unreal, something that you saw in a satire or an SNL skit. But the truth was facing...

Creative Nonfiction Competition 2020

Pool Party

“Try it!” my sister called out from inside the pool.

“Are you sure?” I asked, tilting slightly on the edge of the highest step.

There was no response. 

I decided to try repeating myself. “Are you sure?” 

Still no response.

I took a deep breath and yelled out as loudly as I dared - though it was really not that much different from my normal speaking voice. I didn’t want the neighbors thinking anything weird, especially after we had been stuck at home for so long.

A whoosh came from below me. With a crack, my sister’s head broke the shimmering film of water, spraying droplets everywhere. Long, black strands floated beside her, surrounding her with a halo.

“Sorry!” she said breathlessly. “What were you saying?”

I pointed at the water rolling below me with a twisted expression. “Are you sure it’s...fine?”

She laughed. “Stop being so scared. Why wouldn’t it be?”

I took a deep breath. Truth be told,...

Remembering RBG

An Open Letter to Ginsburg

Dear Justice Ginsburg, 

You do not know me, but I know you. I know how your Jewish father battled discrimination to immigrate to America from Russia. I know how your spirited mother rebelled against the traditional roles of women to educate you. I know how you missed your high-school graduation when your mother died unexpectedly. 

But I also know how you refused to give up. Every obstacle in your path was just another challenge to overcome. People thought women were supposed to find a husband, but you went to college and graduated top of your class. Employers didn’t want to have women working for them, but you worked hard and your talent landed you a job in the firm. And when the highest court in our country, the Supreme Court of the United States, said “women has always been dependent upon man,” what did you do? 

You disagreed, Ruth. Compassionate and honest and clever, you used every bit of your courage...

Lost in Translation

Natsukashii

I’m scared.

I don’t know what to do. It feels like the walls are collapsing over me but I have nowhere to go, no one to trust, nothing to find comfort in. I feel tortured and useless at the same time, but most of all, I feel hopeless.

Hopeless. A year ago, I wouldn’t have dared to say that word out loud. I was always the over-achiever, always the person that made their voice heard amidst a heavy blanket of silence.

But then again, I wasn’t fearless.  Even as a child, I was scared of the flickering shadows on the walls and the weird creaking the stairs made late at night. I was still young and innocent enough to be frightened by such small things. In fact, I would trade anything to go back to that life, one without regrets or debilitating grief. One without having to fear for my health or how my twisted mind will find another way...

Lost in Translation

Natsukashii

I’m scared.

I don’t know what to do. It feels like the walls are collapsing over me but I have nowhere to go, no one to trust, nothing to find comfort in. I feel tortured and useless at the same time, but most of all, I feel hopeless.

Hopeless. A year ago, I wouldn’t have dared to say that word out loud. I was always the over-achiever, always the person that made their voice heard amidst a heavy blanket of silence.

But then again, I wasn’t fearless.  Even as a child, I was scared of the flickering shadows on the walls and the weird creaking the stairs made late at night. I was still young and innocent enough to be frightened by such small things. In fact, I would trade anything to go back to that life, one without regrets or debilitating grief. One without having to fear for my health or how my my twisted mind will find another...

Speechwriting Competition 2020

Dear Justice

As much as we love Perry Mason and his scathing cross-examinations, the law is nothing like what we see on T.V. In fact, it's probably closer to calculus: dense, dry, and difficult, it's hard to see why anyone would want to be a lawyer. But somehow, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg - a law superhero in her own right - has also become a pop culture icon. Was it perhaps due to her eternal love for scrunchies, impeccable fashion sense, or killer workout plan? Maybe - but I admired her for the fiery dissents and tireless advocacy that have earned her the nickname The Notorious R.B.G. And its that admiration for her selflessness, bravery, and leadership that plunged me into grief after I learned about her death on September 18, 2020.

Was it only a month ago? It feels like eons have passed since her death. I know I'm not the only one devastated by her loss; she represented something...

Speechwriting Competition 2020

Dear Justice

Even though the study of law evokes horror and boredom in millions of college students every year, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has somehow become a pop culture icon. Was it because of her eternal love for scrunchies, impeccable fashion sense, and killer workout plan? Maybe - but I admired her for the fiery dissents and tireless advocacy that have earned her the nickname The Notorious R.B.G. And that admiration for her selflessness, bravery, and leadership morphed into grief after I learned she died on September 18, 2020.

Was it only a month ago? It feels like eons have passed since her death. I know I'm not the only one devastated by her loss: she represented something different to all of us. For some, she was a feminist, a trailblazing pioneer who, despite being one of nine women in a Harvard class of hundreds, went on to become the first Jewish woman on America's highest court - 72 years after...

Speechwriting Competition 2020

Dear Justice

Despite her eternal love for scrunchies, impeccable fashion sense, and killer workout plan, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg seemed to be an unlikely candidate to become a pop culture icon. But her fiery dissents and tireless advocacy have earned her the affection moniker the 'Notorious R.B.G'. And it is precisely for her selflessness, leadership, bravery, and sheer perseverance that her unexpected death has sent a deeply divided nation spiraling into mourning.

She all represented something different to us. For some, she was a feminist: a trailblazing pioneer who, despite being only one of nine women in a class of hundreds at Harward Law and getting rejected by multiple firms, went on to become the first Jewish woman on America's highest court - a stark departure from a Supreme Court ruling decades earlier that claimed women had been and would continue to be, dependent upon men. To others, she was a supportive wife and mother that raised a family all the while...

Speechwriting Competition 2020

Dear Justice

Despite her eternal love for scrunchies, impeccable fashion sense, and killer workout plan, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg seemed to be an unlikely candidate to become a pop culture icon. But her fiery dissents and tireless advocacy have earned her the affection moniker the 'Notorious R.B.G'. And it is precisely for her selflessness, leadership, bravery, and sheer perseverance that her unexpected death has sent a deeply divided nation spiraling into mourning.

She all represented something different to us. For some, she was a feminist: a trailblazing pioneer who, despite being only one of nine women in a class of hundreds at Harward Law and getting rejected by multiple law firms, went on to become the first Jewish woman on America's highest judicial court - a stark departure from a Supreme Court ruling decades earlier that claimed women were always dependent upon men. To others, she was a supportive wife and mother that cared for her husband while he battled cancer and...

Historical Fiction Competition 2020

Letters from War

“Mrs. Shima? A visitor's here for you.”

My head turned away from the window towards the doorway. A young, blond woman in bell-bottoms and a crop top was standing next to a small girl wearing a tie-dye shirt. 

"Can I let her in?" Janet asked, but before I could reply, the girl had already strode in. The young woman gave me a look and shrugged. "Have fun!" she called out as she left the room.

The girl stood still, but her eyes latched upon mine with surprising intensity. Flustered, I dropped my gaze, but the girl simply walked a few steps until we were at eye level.

"Is your name Eloise Shima?" she asked suddenly in a business-like tone.

I looked at her strangely. "Yes" 

"When were you born?" 

I frowned. "You know, it's not polite to ask a woman their -" The child had pulled out a leather notebook and was writing on the pad. "What are you doing?"
...

Historical Fiction Competition 2020

Letters from War

“Mrs. Shima? A visitor's here for you.”

My head turned away from the window, where throngs of people were picketing below me. A young, blond woman in bell-bottoms and a crop top stood in the doorway next to a small girl in a collared dress. She was as pale as a porcelain doll.

"Can I let her in?" Janet, the young woman, asked, but before I could reply, the girl tiptoed in. I frowned at Janet, but she only shrugged and hurried out of the room, muttering something about the reception desk.

The girl stood still, but her eyes roved across the brick walls, latching upon mine with surprising intensity. Flustered, I dropped my gaze, but the girl, who was barely taller as my wheelchair, only had to walk a few steps until we were at eye level.

"Is your name Eloise Shima?" the girl asked suddenly in a business-like tone, pulling out a notebook and wooden pencil. A mood ring slipped...

Historical Fiction Competition 2020

Letters from War

“Mrs. Shima? A visitor's here for you.”

My head turns from the muddled reflection towards a young woman standing in the doorway. With her striped blouse and flawless blond ponytail, she reminds me of the cheerleaders back in college. 

“Can I let her in?” Janet asks, her eyes wide.

I nod hesitantly, just as surprised as Janet is, and a few moments later, a small girl tiptoes in. She is so pale she looks like a porcelain doll and walks as if she would shatter from one misstep. Janet shoots me a look and leaves, muttering something about managing the reception desk.

The girl's almond eyes survey the room and land upon me. I avoid her gaze, my joints complaining loudly as I shift in my wheelchair, but the girl ignores the lack of eye contact. She pushes a chair towards me and pulls herself into it, seating herself like a princess

“Where are your parents?” I blurt out, wondering...

Sacrifice

I watch the minutes trickle by 
as if they were diamonds pricking the floor.

Faster, smarter, harder, better
every second not spent working wasted.
They call the churning mess productivity, but my mind cries out,
quietly suffering so I could be one step closer
to the Holy Grail of achievement 

I am not special.
I am ordinary, no -extra attached.
I was just lucky enough to afford a dozen extracurriculars and the finest tutors.
My parents expect no less - 
they came here with $20 in their pocket
and built their way up from nothing.
Happiness to them means success,
and they only know one way to achieve it.

Every time someone compliments me,
I feel the empty hollow in my chest
where a heart should be beating.
Could they see through my facade?
That I have no talent,
intelligence,
or quirk,
I just work until I feel like collapsing,
every movement forced, every moment spent in criticism,
pushing me deeper...

Historical Fiction Competition 2020

Letters from War

“Mrs. Shima? A visitor's here for you.”

My head turned away from the raindrop-streaked reflection in the cracked window. A young woman in a striped dress with a shiny pin labeled 'Janet' stood in the doorway. Her ponytail was flawless. She reminded me of the cheerleaders back in college. 

“Can I let her in?” Janet asked. She seemed just as surprised as I was.

I gave her a silent, almost imperceptible nod. The woman beckoned to someone outside, and I heard some feet shuffling closer to the door. At first, it seemed like no one was there, but then I lowered my eyes and noticed the young child standing beside her. She took a few ginger steps into the room as if she was a porcelain doll that would shatter from one misstep. Janet muttered something about "managing the reception desk" and left, her blond hair nearly getting caught as the door closed behind her.

The girl's almond eyes surveyed...

Sacrifice

I watch the minutes trickle by 
as if they were diamonds pricking the floor

Faster, smarter, harder, better
every second not spent working, wasted
They call the churning mess productivity, but my mind cries out,
quietly suffering so I could be one step closer to the Holy Grail of achievement 

I am not special
I am ordinary, no -extra attached
I was just lucky enough to afford a dozen extracurriculars and the finest tutors
My parents expect no less
They came here with $20 in their pocket
And built their way up from nothing
Happiness to them means success
and they only know one way to achieve it

Every time someone compliments me,
I feel the empty hollow in my chest
where a heart should be beating.
Could they see through my facade?
That I have no talent
intelligence
or quirk
I just work until I feel like collapsing,
every movement forced, every moment spent in criticism,
pushing me deeper into...

Sacrifice

I watch the minutes trickle by 
as if they were diamonds pricking the floor

Faster, smarter, harder, better
every second not spent working is wasted
They call the churning mess productivity, but my mind cries out,
quietly suffering so I could be one step closer to the Holy Grail

I am not special
I am ordinary, no -extra attached
I was just lucky enough to afford a dozen extracurriculars and the finest tutors
My parents expect no less
They came here with $20 in their pocket
And built their way up from nothing
Happiness to them means success
and they only know one way to achieve it

Every time someone compliments me,
I feel the empty hollow in my chest
where a heart should be beating.
Could they see through my facade?
That I have no talent
intelligence
or quirk
I just work until I feel like collapsing,
every movement forced, every moment spent in criticism,
pushing me deeper into a...

The Room

There is a door that had been locked for decades.

Until now.
 
The metal key weighs cold against my skin. An air of mystery perfumes the darkroom, and I am inexplicably drawn to it.

A bulb flickers, and a glowing sheet spreads across the wall. I am surprised - not by the light, but the woman standing in front of me. She is all too familiar. I recognize the pain in her eyes like it’s mine, yet I don’t remember who she is.
 
The woman points towards the key. She moves as if to ask for it, but stops herself. Instead, she simply asks: “Do you want to stay?”

I think for a moment. My body yearns to be in this room, as if something is connecting the two, but my heart tells me otherwise. I shake my head reluctantly, and the woman looks sad. For a moment, she seems like she wants to protest, but she closes her...

Flash Fiction Competition 2020

One More

I play a game to survive. I hate it.

one point for opening my eyes. one for crawling out of bed. one for ignoring the Demon poisoning my thoughts - or as they called it: depression.

my high score's 164. 

I play because I don’t have a choice. the doctors told me I needed treatment to survive, then disappeared after I couldn’t pay the bills. just like Daddy did when he learned his girlfriend was pregnant.

Mama says I've changed, but that's the religion in her talking. I caught her smiling yesterday - the first time since Sissy’s funeral.

Letter Writing Competition 2020

Battle Cry of the Underserved

5-25-20 

Dear Revolution,

Let me tell you a story.

They say talking is easier than writing, but my mouth is glued shut after months of complete silence.

So let me write you a story.

There was once a young girl who loved drawing. She was a talented artist, yet her self-portraits always seemed odd. It went farther than the spindly arms and lumpy body - the figure, with its paper-white skin, blue eyes, and blonde hair, simply did not look like her.

But she didn’t care.

White was better.

From a young age, her parents had preached that success would lead to happiness. And when everyone successful seemingly belonged to a particular race, then it was logical to assume that being that race was the ultimate goal. Maybe if she was white, Emily would finally play with her instead of calling her ugly.

As the years went on, the girl's self-portraits became a way of life. Even at night,...