Discarded --creative nonfiction by Miah Walker
I stare blankly at my seventh-grade English teacher as he summarizes one of the most devastating events in history—the Holocaust. Each word escaping his mouth increases my frustration as I watch him scan lines off Wikipedia. However, his spewing of facts intrigues the rest of my classmates and I quickly begin to realize that this information is entirely new to many of them.
“For the next week, you will work on creating a project that emphasizes this topic in whatever way you would like,” he tells the class, one hand resting above his belted hip. Muffled chatter spreads throughout the room. My mind is already made up, I know what I’m going to do.
Later that night I forage through my crowded basement, digging up journal entries and autobiographies collecting dust over the years. My finger scans the black text, my eyes following along in both shock and horror. The further I read, the more the words pierce me with sorrow. I shift my gaze away from the page.
I stay awake stitching photos and passages to tea-stained paper dried in front of a metal fan. My eyes feel heavy as I work away under the warm stillness of my desk lamp.
The following morning my name is called. My turn. I shuffle to the front of the room clutching my scrapbook tightly by my heart. The remnants of glue stick to the tips of my fingers. I share my stories, longing to have had my great grandfather share them himself. I pick up upon other students’ reactions. Disbelief, curiosity, some of their mouths are slightly opened. Silence fills the classroom. At that moment a simple whisper would deafen. I play with the uncut string hanging from the binding of my book. One of my classmates splits the silence with a question.
I frown when he asks if I made this all up.
I felt alone.
Nobody else in the class had made the project about their own family.
Nobody else had Jewish mothers and aunts and uncles or Jewish grandparents and great grandparents.
My teacher lost my scrapbook, the pictures, and written snippets along with it. He docked my grade and told me it was my fault.
Miah Walker is a graduating senior who spends her days creating art, listening to music, and reading. She currently lives in a small town in Massachusetts, but is ecstatic to head out on her own for college.