Rebecca Wei, Division 2, 7th grade

As a toddler, gazing towards chattering adults, I would imagine being a super hero, saving the day with cameras flashing and cheering crowds all around, my face covered by a flashy mask. But as I grew older, those daydreams became fantasies, and those fantasies became a shining, glistening star in a dark midnight blue, so far out of a straining arm’s reach. Now, I know superheroes are not real. None of those imaginary adventures apply to my extremely mundane life. Large endeavors relating to worldwide problems, such as world hunger, poverty, abused animals, and many more… Those are the twinkling stars taunting from a distance, mocking those who try to catch it. Yet, there are lanterns hanging along walls, through doors, fluttering by oblivious people, waiting to be lit, to stare back at those shimmering stars and defend those who dare to make a difference.

The light of a golden yellow lantern meanders through a room, illuminating a bright smile beaming in the suffocating darkness. Dull eyes sparked with elation. All one needs to keep throughout a day is a positive attitude. Genuine laughs and radiant smiles animate those around the positive thinker. Moods lift, mouths grin wider, dark thoughts fade to the recesses of a suffering mind. To help those trapped within a murky forest of torment, all that’s needed is a lantern to guide their way out of the obscurity, into the sunlight, with rustling leaves and brilliantly hued meadow.

An irate red lantern drifts up towards the clouds, away from the out-stretched hand, fading to bobbing dot flitting to the unknown. In a world full of hurt and anguish, all that’s needed is to simply let go of the hate in one’s heart. Only one path is open to those whose animosity is locked away in a cage, drifting aimlessly around a winding trail, shadows encircling them, pending the break of the lock. The unleashing of the hatred-restraining gate finally arrives, lifting the fog. A lucid view unfolds. The obstructive branches dissipate into different directions. All that’s left is a lantern, set amidst the drifting wind, propelling skyward.

A pulsing orange lantern twists and bobs just out of reach of curious fingertips. Support someone who needs an outstretched hand to pull him out of the water. Comfort him, make him feel at ease. Let the anxious person feel a strong force, lifting his weary body out of a raging sea. Dry him off in front of a crackling fire. A lonely figure, left to float in the dark, stormy sea until a light from an afar rowboat illuminated the darkness. A warm palm offers a lending hand lifting the lone figure out of his miseries. Together, they spot a dot in the horizon, steadily growing larger. They smile, because they found their escape.

A lavender lantern rustles on a peg, scrutinizing an empty street, devoid of life, except for a lost sniffling child. Relationships based solely on selfish purposes never last. They are not around when you’re bawling on the cold, hard surface of reality. They are gone when you’re shivering alone on a dimly lit park bench. They watch as an outsider, not a friend. A toddler happily skips her way across the sidewalk with an ice cream and balloon clutched tightly in both hands. She trips and falls. The balloon drifts away and the ice cream tumbles to the ground. All that’s left is a lantern, weaving its way in front of the wailing child to pick her up. Friends aren’t true friends if they leave you sobbing, lost, desperate, and alone. True friends sling you on their back to a happier place, telling tales of fairies until a smile returns.

A cobalt lantern strays closer to a disheveled student with eyes raw and puffy, hair mussed and tangled, and cheeks flushed red. His eyes, chock-full with sadness and self-doubt, observes as his body shakes in the musty alleyways of school. Pills spill from fingertips, blood drips from a cut wrist, a frail frame falls to the unforgiving tiles. To lend a kind word or two to someone being harassed or tormented could mean a sanctuary to them. You could lift them away from a barren wasteland dictated by another’s hurtful words. A spark rekindles in their eyes and their spirit releases from the tight grip of imprisonment. Courage surges when they know someone will be there to shield them from the torrent of hate-filled words, to encase them in a haven provided by another human, regardless of whether they are a stranger or not. A boy lays defeated, neglected, and shivering on the frigid stone surface, as the walls of the buildings closes in. Shivering but still, sniveling but at ease, because he has given up. Until a lantern, a guiding light calmly lilts towards him, to warm him and tell promises of a better tomorrow. To push the walls back, to warm the ground beneath his feet, until the confines are his palace to govern.

An emerald green lantern paves a way through the showers of rain, through the musty, dark forests, across frothing seas, to the horizon, forever reaching forward. To be true to others, I have to be true to myself. Yelling out what I believe is right, being quiet if my mind tells me to, standing up if everyone’s sitting down, breaking off because that’s what I believe should happen, having the courage to do what others are not doing, is being brave, courageous, and unique. In simple words, be myself. If I forge a path, made solely of decisions and actions, then it forms a bridge for others to cross, to join me on my quest of virtue and fulfillment. I will live with no regrets, as I will do what I believe to be right at the time. A lantern sails across dense plains, through fogs of smoke, across rolling hills, witnessing lanterns being discovered, and lighting and the true beauty when problems are solved.
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