Here’s a window into GCAA student Adrian Wiley’s world, written in Writing Workshop. For his personal narrative essay, Adrian focused largely on creative writing techniques like imagery and tension:
I could remember that whole experience like it was yesterday. I was getting ready for my uncle Eric and my Aunt Karen to come and pick me up and bring me to New Orleans, Louisiana. They were going to let me stay with them for the first two weeks in July. I could distinctly remember my Grandmother Virginia telling me not to go to New Orleans, due to my aunt and uncle most likely having mental problems. Also she told me what may or may not happen to me if I go over there. As she started rambling about me not go over there, she started to sound like a broken record. I told my grandmother that I was going to New Orleans because I was waiting on that trip for the longest. And I also thought about it all summer. Even my mother said the exact same thing as my grandmother and when she started to talk I basically muted her. As the sun began to set and my grandparents told me to go ahead and rest myself for my trip, I would not listen. I could not make myself go to sleep that day because I was gleaming with joy. I couldn’t even make myself eat do to the fact that I was so excited. The only thing I could think about was the spicy food I was about to eat, the jazz music I was going to listen to when I got there…
The day after, my aunt and uncle came early Saturday morning — around maybe 11:00 or 12:00 on the dot. At first I was very very excited. I first saw my long lost aunt and uncle when they first walked through the garage door. My first instinct was to show the both of them love by hugging them in my arms at once. They asked me how old was and I said twelve years. They also asked, am I ready to go on the trip to New Orleans. I said yeah, and my mother gave me a excruciating hug. I nearly had my ribs crushed by my mother’s terrible grip. I said, “Momma I gotta go to New Orleans.” My family said their goodbyes and wished me luck on my trip and we set off and left. On the road my family and I sang road songs like “You’ll Be Comin’ Around That Mountain” and my cousin E.J. had me rolling because he is some sort of a comedian. So my stomach was hurt for days. I couldn’t breath for nothing. But after all the fun and games, I couldn’t help but look out my window. And I saw immense marshes of New Orleans.
My Aunt Karen and Uncle Eric did not live near the touristy areas like the French Quarter; they lived in the suburbs. But when we got up we drove into the heart of the city. I saw a whole bunch of voodoo shops on every corner. This was an early period in my life where I thought voodoo was bad, so I was a bit curious. I triumphantly asked my Uncle Eric, who is a pastor, “Can we go into one of these voodoo shops?” My uncle snapped on me, saying, “Oh no boy, that’s the devil’s magic.” So we kept driving around the city. We drove to a restaurant called Fisherman’s Cove. The first thing I smelled in the restaurant were Cajun spices. I got some fish and some jambalaya and an iced tea to wash it all down. When I bit into my fish, I began to cough up violently due to the spices. My uncle and my cousin E.J were laughing, and I remember my uncle saying, “That’s that Cajun food for you boy.” I tried to laugh with them but the Cajun food prevented me from doing so. I toughened up. When we were finished with our delicious Cajun meal, we proceeded to head home. As we walked into the house, I began to feel very nauseous and then I threw up. I was bedridden. Two days later I felt better due to my aunt being a nurse, but I was beginning to feel very homesick.
Gradually, I began to understand what my grandmother meant by the three of them being crazy. I started to find out. I could recall one day Uncle Eric bought some White Castle burger sliders. But I just wanted something else to eat, so I went into the fridge. My cousin E.J came out of nowhere and slammed the fridge. I’m like well, okay, let me go into the cabinet, He slammed that also. So I hit him square in the eye with the left hand of God. He looked at me and I looked at him. Then a fast right palm went straight across my face and I flew back five feet like an action movie. And you know, when you taste ground, one thing for sure — it does not taste pleasant at all. I was literally asleep for about ten minutes. You know when your parents say “I will slap you into another house?” I literally thought I was in another house when I woke up from my concussion. My vision was a bit blurry; I had double vision. So I simply got up and went to sleep on the couch and left. The next morning, however, I stumbled around. My head was killing me because I landed head first on the cold and unforgiving kitchen floor. So I walked into the living room and I layed on my uncle’s recliner. E.J. came and gripped my arm and lifted me over his head and slammed me on my back to where I could not breathe correctly. And while the life was knocked out of me, E.J. said he was going to a pool party and left.
While I recovered from my injury, I watched a television program about George Cohan, the Yankee Doodle Dandy stage actor on Broadway, which I enjoyed. My Aunt Karen and Uncle Eric had come back from work and the three of us were having a great time until E.J nearly knocked the door down and said, “Michael tried to rape me.” Michael was the guy who was in charge of the pool party that E.J went to. E.J. body slammed me on the ground. I’m like, “Oh lord, E.J is delirious.” Uncle Eric was fuming with anger but as I looked at him from head to toe I noticed using my amateur detective skills at the time that he was not bleeding nor anything that would’ve been evidence of a rape transpiring so I was skeptical from the jump. Auntie Karen and Uncle Eric rushed outside and began to argue outside with Michael’s parents. E.J did not go outside, but I heard him say “Oh shit,” like “Michael will get it now.” I knew then that I was correct with my skepticism: he had not been raped. E.J. ran outside, I guess to see the commotion going on. I thought to myself, “E.J., you sick man for lying on that boy’s family. You ruined that boy’s life, possibly his future.”
Later on that day the police came to the house and asked E.J. a series of questions (I guess about the alleged rape.) They proceeded to leave the premises. The police never came back to the house ever again, so I knew he definitely lied. No going down to the police station to get evidence, no nothing. During the night E.J. and I had to share the same bed. So we were fighting over the covers for warmth, and E.J. kicked me square in my ribs which made me fall off the bed. To keep from crying I bit into my wrists. I slept on the ground, brutalized and beaten. The next morning I’d had enough — I walked to E.J. and said “Why do you hate me so much??” He said, “You really want to know??” I said “Yeah.” He said, “Okay, remember when we were younger and you used to blame everything on me?” I said, “That’s what you’re mad about?” And then he lunged at me like a wild beast. And we flew through the living room door and we fought like tigers.
I was beating E.J. up, hitting him with lefts and rights. But then E.J. grabbed me and threw me up against the wall and me being dazed, I couldn’t do anything, and he hit me on my bruised ribs twice. I head-butted in retaliation, breaking his nose and making him fall across the table. I didn’t see this coming — he grabbed a charger wire and with swift strikes across the face I began to yelp in pain and he began to wrap the cord around my neck, squeezing the cord with great force. I thought I was going to die. Then by the grace of God, I put my thumbs under the wire and fell backwards, loosening his grip. I got on top of E.J. and beat him into submission. I fell on my back afterwards and E.J. started laughing and I laughed also. He helped me up and we went into the bathroom to clean each other up with alcohol. My Uncle Eric and my Aunt Karen came to the house to discover their home in such of a disarray that E.J and I began to hear the their voices. I concluded that they would have thought a murder had just happened. I could hear them scramble to different areas of the house. Looking for me and E.J before they discovered us in the bathroom nursing our battle wounds. Upon seeing the sight of E.J and I looking like we had committed a double axe murder nearly fainted at the sight of the two of us in the almost near death condition. But my Aunt kept her composure and simply went into the kitchen and grabbed a first aid kit.
She put two cotton swabs against E.J’s nose since it was broken, and from out of nowhere my Aunt snapped E.J’s nose back into place. But as she got to me, she found out that I had the most facial damage so she had to wash my welts with neosporin and then to wash my face with alcohol to disinfect my wounds. The feeling I experienced felt like Satan himself had kissed me on my face. But Aunt Karen began to ask E.J. what had happened between the both of us to be bloody in a situation like this. I said we got into a argument and we began to fight it out like animals in a zoo. And my aunt said, “Well hell, I heard of getting into a fight but judging from the mess you all left behind I’m surprised you all did not kill each other.” I answered in a gravely voice, “That’s what we tried to do to each other, sadly.” My aunt said, “You all need to hug it out — you all fought it out. It’s over now; it’s time to love each other. You all are cousins. This is some B.S. and when I’m done patching you all up, ya’ll better make up because if you all do not, I will grab that paddle on the wall and I will with a quickness whip both of your all asses now. Do you both understand me?” E.J and I were both frozen with fear. But with tears in both of our eyes we embraced each other in our arms and we cried it out. After we cried, we were cool — because we were family — we were blood.