“Outside the Box”
The painting shown in the photographs, titled “Outside the Box”, was created and donated by GHS parent, Melissa Anderson in the spring of 2009. In keeping with the academic focus of GHS, students were asked to submit either an original poem or piece of prose inspired by the “Outside the Box” painting as part of a writing contest. This assignment was open to all GHS students. The winner(s) were determined by the President of the Greenville County Teachers of English (GCTE) and the Secondary Language Arts Consultant of the school district. Their work is shown below:
I hear in color.
I’m a Technicolor Dorothy.
Never been to
I’d rather stay here,
where every sound,
creates its very own
Symphony of Sight.
I hear in color.
But it’s ok, because the world is a sonata,
and I have yet to hear something monochromatic.
John flushed. He wished someone had told him to wait for the command to be seated after returning from recess. The others had known somehow, and had stood around him in the juror’s box like silent sentinels until the judge put them at ease and returned the court to session. The sound of the judge’s voice aroused John from his reverie, and he leapt to his feet. Then, quickly realizing his error, he sat down again with a look of embarrassed bewilderment.
He returned his attentions to his fountain pen. He had unscrewed the top and begun the process of disemboweling it when his abrupt rise had strewn its inner workings about the floor at his feet. Now, he reached down to gather the minute mechanisms recalling their designation and function as he slid them into the barrel in sequence.
Nib, feed, section, pressure bar, button, sac, binding cap. . .
The man on the stand was an elderly gentleman who had testified about the defendant’s mental state at the time of the incident. Apparently, he had a doctorate. Apparently, he was board certified. He had half a head of white hair and velvety-looking skin from which all the elastic was gone. John imagined he smelled of pipe tobacco. Cross examination began and the prosecutor was deftly forming pointed questions with which to berate the old man. John eyed the other jury members as he screwed on the binding cap. He perceived in a few an expression of sympathy and forgave the good doctor for his bumbling, heavy-handed responses.
Query: Is it true that you were compensated by the defense for appearing here today?
Response: I am paid for my impartiality.
John placed the reassembled pen in his lap and watched as the defendant was sworn in. The quiet madman climbed the stand with a simple clumsiness that some might have found endearing and John glanced at his fellows to determine it they were of this persuasion. The man had watery gray eyes, a childish half-smile, and a soulful sidelong glance which he intermittently threw in John’s general direction. For a man who had bashed someone’s head in, in the presence of twenty people, he seemed remarkably innocent.
Query: Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
He seized the pen again as the closing arguments commenced dismembering it, separating the tiny pieces from each other and placing them carefully in his lap. “Nib, feed, section. . .” He picked them up one by one, pressing the most tedious into his finger pads and holding them a few inches from his nose while examining the other jurors. The attorneys paced back and forth urging him to acquit and condemn. The expressions of the others were indeterminate. “. . . pressure bar.” He dropped it. The rest of the pen crashed to the floor with a barely perceptible jingle as he surged forward laying hold of the side of the juror’s box. He twisted his hands around the rounded top of the wooden barrier with visible agitation.
Query: What did one wall say to the other?
Response: I’ll meet you at the corner.
John recalled an exercise his guidance counselor once performed with his fifth grade class. She posed questions to the students as they stood in the center of the classroom and with a command to “Get off the fence!” divided them. It built character. The students would rush left or right, and John would be left standing in the no-man’s-land between. When pressed, he would turn away abashed and quickly move toward the majority.
Query: Where do you stand on this issue John?
Response: On the Fence ma’am.
The other jury members had passed out of the juror’s box and were proceeding out of the courtroom. John, suddenly conscious of his deviation, started, and hurried along after the group. Breaking pace to push the courtroom door outward on its brass hinges, he glimpsed the chain linking the cuffs at the bailiff’s waist and edged out the door nervously. It shut behind him with a sickening sucking sound like pulling a hatchet from sodden wood.