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Kaelynn Stolz: Fiore


Wallburg is a microscopic town commonly unheard of in the far south of Arkansas. The holy lights from the 11 churches cast a gloomy shadow over the singular library. With chipped paint and reeking of knowledge, the library is avoided. Every home in Wallburg is equipped with a bright green lawn and a shiny white-picket fence. Friday night football games were the only permitted public event to take place besides church, although certain teams hesitated to travel to them for unknown reasons. The creaking, ancient movie theatre played G-rated movies that could already be found on DVD. When twilight light shined through, Wallburg gained a radiant, post-apocalyptic glow.

Fiore’s electric green eyes and blonde hair were the only thing that reflected her mother’s appearance.

Purple bags under her eyes only grow as she continues to read. Her mother raised her to scold the site of a friendly woman in a headdress, avoid eye contact with a kind man with skin just 3 shades darker than hers. Her practiced display of glee radiates as truth to all those around her. The feeling of dewy grass between her toes as she flees to the library in the dark of night burns pure joy into her soul. As the piercing red sun soaked into the early sky, Fiore seeks back into her room, enlightened by the knowledge she learns every night.

Mary, Fiore’s mother, is the mayor of Wallburg, head pastor and lead chair of the Teens Against Profanity committee. Her razor-sharp heels clank down the wooden floorboards of the church as she paces back and forth. The Devil himself sits up a little taller when he hears the sound of her voice. When speaking to her crowd every Sunday she lets a single tear escape every time. If God was to hear the words she preaches every week, he would send a plague of disapproval upon their secret southern haven.          

Feet crunching on the hard gravel, Fiore ran to the mailbox and opened it with great hesitation. She reached through the seemingly dusty and elderly arrangement of news ads and letters and grabbed the purple envelope. Uneasy, she tore it open to find the words she’d been visualizing and dreaming about for years written across the letter, “Congratulations”. A joyous scream erupted from her that seemed to fizzle across the entire town. She knew in a matter of months she would escape Wallburg, a town of religious entanglement for somewhere beautifully chaotic and full of people with various backgrounds. Fiore hurried back inside to put on her worshipped NYU shirt under her hoodie, knowing that her life of tolerance was just beginning.

With arms weighed down by heavy containers seeming to burn her skin, Fiore and her mother walked down the main cobblestone street of the discelate town.

“Wallburg community college does have an impressive religious studies department” her mother said. “And it would be great to have you around for all the church’s events next year…”

Fiore tried her best to breathe in calmly and accept the fact that their Italian mountain of food was a form of bribery.

She was both angry and scared, angry that her mom would try to change her mind and scared that she would.

As they rounded the seemingly chilly corner, the man notorious for being different passed them in silence. As always, her mother scowled and motioned for her daughter to turn away from his view. At this moment Fiore hesitated; she knew then that she must leave her roots for a tolerant place, where her mother’s actions would be seen as the worst sin.

The sun seemed to shine enlightenment into the eyes of Fiore as she stepped onto her future home. The campus seemed more royal to her than the biggest church in Wallburg. Signs of all sizes, shapes, and colors protesting a plethora of social issues were carried by people of many colors. As she looked around, Fiore felt like she was in a completely different realm. People of all races were gather amongst each other, in peace and in joy, thrilling but also terrifying her. Everything she’d heard as a child seemed to finally clash with her current observations.

With pride in growth and fear of the new in her heart, Fiore ventured to her safe haven, a place of absolute truth. Her journey was short-lived however, for when she saw the shadows of beautiful books she also saw a shadow of a body below a nearby tower. She began to hear a word that was often said by her mother’s’ friends when they had church meetings in private. It was a terrible word, a word equivalent to J.K. Rowling’s mudblood. Fiore ran toward the shadow to discover a woman completely unlike her, sharing similar qualities to the strange man her mother feared in Wallburg. This woman, FIore began to notice, was surrounded by men whom were screaming every word banned by the gods of purity directly in her face. Camouflaged by her skin tone, Fiore made her way into the crowd and helped the broken woman to her feet. She led her to a calmer street and sat her on a bench.

“May God bless you” the mysterious woman said.

She then got up and walked around the corner, never again to be seen by Fiore. It was in this moment that Fiore realised that she had touched someone of a different skin tone, and had not been burned to ashes, per her mother’s words.

As Fiore pulled up to her house, the small town looked darker than usual. The glow of the many church lights seemed to extinguish any light leaking from the abandoned library on the foggy morning.

“Fiore my dear, my pretty perfect daughter” her mother cried as she ran outside.

“I hope your trip has opened your eyes to how blessed we are to live a comfortable life here. We don’t have to deal with many outsiders here, except for a few unwanted community members” sneering at the notorious man that was previously outside the diner.

“Mom, enough is enough. I will not turn my head away from his view any more. I have seen another part of the world, I have seen tolerance and so many beautiful people from so many different colors, I’m going to NYU.”

The evil in her mother’s eyes seemed to simmer for a moment and she spoke:

“Your father felt the same way as you, but you’ll change your mind eventually, and I will be patient because I know you will come back to your rightful home”.

The two went inside the ivy-covered home, and Fiore’s mother helped her organize her college information in with her religious handouts.

Concealed in her previous identity, Fiore was able to complete her school years in Wallburg with copious friends, a stellar gpa, and a new outlook on how one’s life should be lived. The day she left Wallburg, it was a bright and sunny day; it seemed like there was the slightest hint of light radiating from the blackest corner of the lone library. Fiore breathed out deeply as she crossed the town line, feeling as if she was finally able to realize all the hatred toward others that she was taught. As her bright red pickup pulled up to the friendly site of NYU, Fiore knew she was finally home, ready to start her life of acceptance.  

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