"A complete ban on alcohol obviously leads to a more peaceful
society - look at Iran."
The Truth magazine
THE SCHOOL OF LIFE!
by Kai Holst
Neisha sighed. Already on the bus on the way to school, life had
given its first sign of the day of being against her. Just like
she knew it would do. Just like it always did.
The bus trip took a mere seven minutes. Those seven minutes felt
like hours for her because of Shannon. She couldn't believe that
she once had been in love with him. He continually pestered her
life by pinching her or calling her names. Perhaps she should
have given a positive reply when he had asked her for a date two
months ago? His father was, after all, the owner of a chain of
grocery stores, so Shannon could afford to be nasty with her. And
he had been so, ever since.
Neisha sighed again, just in time to feel the piercing pain from
the back of her head as Shannon pulled her hair. A lonely tear
rolled down her beautiful, yet thin cheek. One day, she thought
while fighting her desire to hit him. One day he'd regret being
so unkind to her. One day...
Next to her heart she held the letter to Jeremy. She had spent
all yesterday writing it. With graceful letters she had written
his name and address on the envelope, and sealed it with a kiss.
Even the stamps were beautiful, with pictures of birds and
hearts. She knew he would write her a reply the day he got it, as
he always did. He had done so more than a dozen times since he
moved to the southern part of Tennessee three months ago. Before
that time, he and Neisha had been going steady for half a year,
and they both intended their relationship to last longer. Unless
death did them apart.
Neisha was inexperienced and lonely. All her life she had closed
herself into a world on her own. Seemingly, nobody but Jeremy had
ever cared about her, cared for her. Jeremy himself was a very
special boy. He had been the most popular boy at school, and all
the girls in Neisha's class had been talking about him. One could
never tell by the look on his face nor his appearance that he
didn't have a single friend. He knew how to hide it. Neisha
thought back on the day he had asked her out for the first time.
August the 19th, a warm, beautiful day. The sun had shone from a
cloudless sky, and he took her walking in the park. Neisha looked
at the shining ring on her finger. Jeremy gave it to her that
A clap on her shoulder made her wake up from her daydreaming. A
kind face looked at her, smiling. "Well? Are you coming or not?"
Page looked at her, and pointed towards the exit. The bus had
arrived at the school. Page looked at her for a few seconds,
turned, and disappeared out of the bus.
Neisha sighed again, grabbed her bag, rose from the seat and
walked with deliberately slow steps out of the bus. If the ride
to school was bad, school itself was at least ten times worse,
with all the potential traps she could fall into, all the gangs
she could dump into, and all the trouble that was inevitably
going to hit her, no matter how much she tried to protect herself
against them. Immediately after leaving the bus, she had to fight
to regain balance as she slipped on the wet asphalt. Rain was not
uncommon late in May, at least not in Greeneville, Tennessee. She
could almost hear the resounding laughter of all the kids the
thought would be around her. Nobody laughed. Nobody were even
near her. "Heck!", she thought. "I'm late. Again..." Neisha began
First period: History! Neisha never thought of History as a bad
subject; She liked Mr. Soundham, the teacher. She even took the
chance to answer some of the teacher's questions. Answering
questions usually meant speaking out loud in class, and when she
did that, she as good as always made a fool out of herself. Her
heart began to beat quicker when she heard the sound of her own
voice, but it calmed down again when she saw Mr. Soundham nod
assuring at her and ask another question, this time victimizing
Thomas. Neisha took a deep breath and smiled confidently to
herself. The rest of the period was the ordinary, dull exercise
in trying to look busy taking notes of what Mr. Soundham said,
while actually being a hundred miles away. Neisha sighed again,
and continued scribbling unreadable notes on the paper. Only one
word was legible on the two pages of scribbling - It was written
at least a dozen times. Jeremy. Neisha still had the letter next
to her heart. It provided the only warmth in her entire
She was running to the Auditorium Maximum for her English class.
It would commence in two minutes, with or without her. Neisha
knew that it wouldn't look good on her Graduation Papers if she
deliberately avoided attending another English class. There was,
of course, also the possibility that she could have her hall pass
withdrawn. That would definitely not look good.
Neisha shrugged and moved quicker through the corridors of the
Jeff Hamilton Senior High School. Just down this corridor, around
that corner, and then it's the first door on the left. Great! She
rounded the last corner in a moderate speed, knowing that she had
just over a minute or so left until the class would start.
Around the corner, she bumped into the person she would least
like to bump into that day. Mark Farnham, youth rebel
extraordinaire and leader of the Shades, one of the many hall
gangs that existed on the school. He had been in her parallel
class for seven years, but she had never really known him. They
had no contact with each other. The collision made him lose a
couple of books on the floor. Neisha gasped, then quickly bent
down and picked them up and delivered them back to him while
uttering a few low words in apology, noticing that he was alone.
"Wait a minute!" His voice was colder than ice. He regarded her
with calculating eyes that were barely visible behind a couple of
very dark shades. "Who do you think you are coming here knocking
me over?" He grabbed hold of her left hand.
"Uh-uh! Trouble," Neisha thought.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to..." Her voice sounded hollow.
"Apologizing, huh?" Mark interrupted her. "There are a couple of
things I'd like you to know. First of all, NOBODY bumps into me
without a bloody good reason. Second, no girls bump into me for
ANY reason! Third, apologizing usually doesn't help!" His eyes
pierced her defence, and made Neisha feel as if she was
"Listen, I'm really sorry I hit you. I didn't mean to. Please
let me go so I can reach my class." A desperate tone fell over
her voice. She looked down the corridor. Nobody were in sight.
"Wait a minute!" Mark looked at her, as if suddenly recognizing
her. After a short while, he said, "Aren't you Neish, Jeremy's
old girl?" He gently let her hand go.
Neisha faced him for the first time during the conversation, and
looked questioning at him. How did he know Jeremy? Jeremy had
loathed these guys. A few nano-seconds passed while she judged
for and against lying to him. She decided it was not worth it.
"Yes, I am. I still am."
"When did you change your hairdo? I didn't recognize you! Well,
well," he smiled, but Neisha couldn't say whether it was a smile
of friendship or of evil. When had he ever noticed her previous
hairdo, then? "That gives us a lot of things to talk about." He
looked at his watch. "We'd better get to class in time. Meet me
in the canteen in the big break. Table fifty." Mark still smiled.
"Uh? I mean, eh... Of course!" Neisha gave him a frightened look
as he turned away and moved down the corridor. Now she really
felt uncomfortable. She sighed, and walked quickly into the
Auditorium for her English class. Too late, as always.
Neisha suffered herself through three long and very boring hours
of phonology-studies in Aud. Max. The thought of Mark haunted her
mind all the time. What could possibly be the connection between
Jeremy and him? She couldn't recall having ever seen them
together. Perhaps Mark would tell her in the big break? Or
perhaps not. Perhaps she could just add a few lines to her letter
to Jeremy, asking him? No, she had already sealed it. What then?
"Miss Morrison, would you please pay attention?" Professor Jones
looked sharply at her. Neisha flushed, and looked guilty around
herself. All the other students had already left the Auditorium.
"Class dismissed," the professor repeated.
Neisha once again found herself running through the corridors of
the school. She often did nowadays. Before Jeremy had moved, she
would always be walking with him. Now, she could only rely on
herself. So, where was that room again? And what was the subject?
She looked through her bag and found a schedule. Ah, Literature
studies in room 315. Nice. Just around the corner.
Neisha carefully remembered to round the corner calmly this
time, avoiding to bump into anybody. It worked perfectly. Nobody
was in sight, so she swiftly went into the room and grabbed a
chair in the rear of the room.
Neisha sighed. Somehow, she couldn't make herself concentrate on
analyzing "Wuthering Heights" by Emily Bronté. Neish? Nobody but
her father and Jeremy had ever called her that. Mark? Somehow,
she found herself fascinated by him. But attracted? No. Not
really! She felt that it was going to be 45 long minutes until
recess. Meanwhile, all she could do was wait. Neish?
At last; The big break! Neisha walked steadily down the main
corridor. In her hand, she held the letter she had spent all
yesterday afternoon writing. The letter which, though long and
filled to the brim with questions, would not give her an answer
about Jeremy and Mark. Now she was standing in front of the mail
box. Doubt occupied her mind as she was holding the letter up to
it. A sudden desire to wait mailing it until after she had spoken
with Mark filled her. Shoving all doubt from her mind, she put
the letter in the box, and turned away, decicively. She had an
appointment in the canteen!
The corridors were mostly empty. Neisha could only see a couple
of the gangs sitting around, making life hard on the occasional
She had just passed a bunch of dubious-looking young guys when
she heard Shannon behind her. She didn't have to eavesdrop to
hear that he was in trouble.
"Hey, pal," a bad-looking guy in a black leather-jacked said as
she turned around. "Where're our five bucks?" She could see that
Shannon was scared. Still, he remained in control.
"Why should I give you five bucks?" he asked.
"They're for the Let-Shannon-Live-Through-Recess-fond," one of
the other leather-clad gangsters said. Shannon almost collapsed
as he heard the brutal answer. Not surprised, Neisha saw that he
quickly found a five-dollar bill and gave it to the gang. She
noticed how weary he looked as he turned away from them and
walked in the other direction. Suddenly, she pitied him.
Getting from one end to another in the canteen during the main
recess proved to be harder than expected. The aisles between the
tables were stuffed with bags and books, clothes and kids. Neisha
struggled her way towards table fifty. She caught a glimpse of
Mark sitting there with all his friends. The gang members. They
were eating the usual junk food. Suddenly Mark looked straight
into her eyes, and smiled. He said something to one of the kids
sitting on her side of the table, who immediately rose and moved
towards her. Surprised, Neisha saw how the young boy kicked every
obstacle out of her way. Nobody dared to complain; Obviously they
loved life higher.
When approaching the table, Neisha overheard the ending of a
conversation between Mark and the rest of the bunch.
"...so you know what to do?" Mark sounded authorative.
"Yeah, man. Relax a little, won't ya?" A skinhead youngster rose
and walked to a nearby table.
"Okay, guys. Get lost!" Mark waved the gang away from the table
when he noticed Neisha standing shyly on the other side of it. He
smiled welcoming at her while they waited for the rest of the
Shades to move away. Neisha noticed that the skinhead had cleared
them another table. Mark rose from his chair, and invited her to
sit down. "Well, I never...?" Neisha thought. "And I thought they
said chivalry was dead?" She deliberately chose the chair
opposite Mark and sat down. She could feel eyes looking at her
"I'm glad you could make it," Mark said. He took off his shades
and looked friendly at her. For the first time she saw the color
of his eyes. They were a warm green, and they shone at her like
small diamonds. Neisha was mute. The eyes made him look so... So
handsome. Not at all like she had expected him to be.
"I'm glad you asked me," she finally managed to say, realizing
with horror that she meant it.
"Your new hairdo really looks nice," he said, regarding her.
"Thank you, " she replied shortly.
"Tell me," he said, and drank some hot coffee. "How's Jeremy
doing down South? And why don't you eat?" A frank and curious
look on his face calmed her down. She relaxed, and picked up the
lunch bag from her bag.
"Well," she said as she took the first bite, "He is doing just
fine. At least that's what he tells me in the letters." For a few
moments they were both quiet, concentrating on the food. After a
while he spoke again.
"What do you know about riddles?"
"Not much." Neisha chewed on the question a while. She used to
love riddles when she was a child. Now she was seventeen, and a
bit too old for them. There was one she remembered at once...
In the window she sat weeping,
and with each tear her life went seeping.
Mark thought about it for a moment, and then replied, "A burning
candle. That was a beautiful rhyme." Their eyes met. She could
feel them talking to her. Inviting and seductive. "How about this
one, then?" he said.
I'm often held, yet rarely touched;
I'm always wet, yet never rust;
I'm sometimes wagged and sometimes bit;
To use me well, you must have wit.
"What is this, a competition or something?" Neisha felt confused
by these rhymes.
"Sort of," Mark replied, "Why are you asking; Interested in the
"Tongue," she said. "The answer is tongue." Now it is my turn,
she thought, wryly.
There's someone that I'm always near,
Yet in the dark I will disappear.
To this one only will I be loyal,
Though in his wake I'm doomed to toil.
He feels me not, but we always touch,
If I were lost, he would not lose much.
And now I come to my surprise,
For you are he - but who am I?
"Now, that's a tough one," Mark said after a while. He seemed to
be thinking hard to figure out the answer. He chewed slowly on
the last piece of his sandwich. "...but we always touch," he said
thoughtfully. "Now what on earth could that be?" He looked out of
the windows, and noticed that the sky was clear blue. The showers
that had been earlier the same day were over. Sunshine swept
across the crowded room, but he barely noticed the mass of
people. They ignored him, so he ignored them. Shadows danced all
over the floor, confusing, teasing...
"Shadow," he suddenly said. "Of course it's my shadow." Neisha
smiled at herself. He had had to struggle hard to figure out that
one. He smiled back, totally absorbed by the sight of her tongue
playing around her lips. She finished eating.
"Now, here is the final riddle from me," he continued. "Well, it
is not really a riddle. It will betray me." He smiled.
Neisha looked at him. "Well, get on with it." For a reason she
could not define, she felt a bit uneasy about this last riddle.
Mark looked at her, sighed, and closed his eyes. "Courage," he
thought. "Give me courage!" He sent a silent plea to the deity in
which he didn't believe. He opened his eyes again, and looked
deep into Neisha's azure-blue eyes. He cleared his throath,
swallowed, and began.
They are what I have lived for, they might be my death.
If I can't gather courage, they'll be held beneath my breath.
To me these words are precious, I guard them with my life.
They will maybe cause me sorrow, or bless me with a wife.
So what will be your answer; you surely know it's true.
When I utter these valuable words; I truly do love you!
Silence. It was all Neisha could produce. A shocked silence. Of
all possible words, these were the ones she had least expected
from Mark. She gasped for breath. Quickly, Mick lowered his gaze
and stared on a random spot on the table. He looked as if he was
ashamed. Neisha slowly regained her breath and stared at Mark. He
lowered his face to avoid her look. A sudden feeling of pity came
over her when she saw the look on his face. It could not be
misinterpreted. It was raw pain.
"N-no." She stammered. "I cannot..." Words failed her. It had
come to unexpected. She closed her eyes as well. "I have Jeremy."
The sentence hung in the air for a little while.
"I know." Mark looked at her. He regretted the fact that he had
even thought of inviting her to his table. He somehow knew that
he could never have her, even though he had been secretly in love
with her for years now. He decided to give it a shot.
"But Jeremy is far away." The sympathetic tone in Mark's voice
made Neisha look at him. For a short while they just sat there,
looking indecicively at each other. Neisha studied him carefully.
Surprisingly, she noticed that she was, in fact, attracted to him
- a feeling she had never felt before, except with Jeremy. And
both the boys were handsome. Mark perhaps even more so, when he
didn't wear those ridiculous shades. Neisha felt confused.
Mark closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and concentrated fully
on Neisha. He let his mind flow, and transferred his thoughts and
mind to her. Suddenly she felt his thoughts. Overwhelming and
passionate feelings flooded over her. She knew. She understood.
"For that long?" She asked, honestly disbelieving him. "You have
been in love with me for that long?" She could not remember him
looking at her since the sixth grade school ball.
"Yeah," Mark replied in a bitter voice. He still looked ashamed,
as if he had done something wrong. "But I don't mean to rush
you," he added quickly. "I know you and Jeremy have a very good
relationship, and I don't want to ruin it." He was as honest as
he had never been before. "But please don't turn me down at once.
At least think about it." Neisha could tell that he was almost
The school bell rang. The main recess was already over. Soon,
they would have to leave to get in time to their classes. Neisha
looked hesitating on Mark.
"I need time to think about it," she finally said. "Now I have
to go." Under the table, Mark quickly moved his hands frantically
around. In less than a second, they found Neisha's. He took hold
of her hands, and held them gentle. He looked passionately into
her eyes. "Neish..." he began.
Suddenly somebody pulled her hair. She whirled around and looked
into the grinning face of Shannon. Behind her, Mark rose. Shannon
suddenly became aware of where Neisha had been sitting, and who
she had been talking to. The smile was as wiped off his face. He
backed slowly down the aisle when Mark and the rest of the Shades
quietly moved towards him. Neisha rose and grabbed her bag. The
Shades moved past her.
"Mark!" She took hold of his right arm. He turned towards her.
"If you would like me to even consider liking you, leave Shannon
alone. He doesn't deserve your hatred." Neisha cast one last look
on the pathetic creature who was still backing down the aisle,
before she turned away and ran into the nearest corridor. She
couldn't tell what Mark did behind her.
Mark stopped. He looked in surprise at Neisha's back. It seemed
as if she had meant what she said, but he couldn't recall her
being so authorative! He ordered the Shades to turn around and
get in time to their respective classes. Shannon barely
understood anything, but even he ran to his classroom.
The rest of the day, Neisha concentrated about paying attention
to her teachers. French, Geography and Psychology were the
subjects of her three last periods. All three were subjects she
hated, but her head was so filled with worries that she didn't
really care. All she needed was to forget all about Mark, Jeremy,
riddles and love. The teachers were positively surprised of this
sudden interest she had taken of their subjects, and literary
bombarded her with questions, not a single one of which she could
not answer. She enjoyed it herself, as well.
She was sitting on the school bus on her way home. The yellow
piece of junk metal almost shook her brains out of place, but she
didn't care. She had gained quite a little self-confidence this
day, but the hard school of life had also given her homework. She
had to call Jeremy later on, and she already knew precicely what
she'd tell him.
Suddenly she felt somebody knocking softly on her shoulder. It
was Shannon. He looked embarrassed.
"Eh, Neisha...", he began. She looked friendly on him.
"I..." He looked away. "I just wanted to say I'm sorry about all
the times I have been bugging you." He looked as if he meant it.
"I guess I never had any reason to do it," he continued, looking
guiltily down on the floor. "And I'd like to say thank you for
saving me from a hard time at school today." He looked up again,
and noticed that Neisha was smiling at him.
"You're forgiven," she said. "Say, why don't you come over to my
place later on today, and we'll talk about it?" She caught him by
"Uh, yeah, sure. Why not? At five?" He cheered up.
"Yeah, five will be fine." She smiled at him, a sweet smile.
She left the bus a few minutes later, and walked the few hundred
yards up the street, and entered her mother's house. With her
back against the door, she took a couple of deep breaths, and
started walking towards the phone. On her way, she stopped in
front of the mirror. She regarded her own slim body with new
eyes. If so many boys liked it, it couldn't possibly be that bad.
She continued walking towards the phone. She had two boys to let
down, and a date to prepare...
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.