From Dusk to Dawn

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Editor’s Message: This is a creative writing piece from eighth-grader Carson L. He was on the newspaper staff last year, but this year he is trying other electives and submitting his work to us as a guest writer. We are very fortunate to have such a talented and dedicated writer as Carson at our school. I’m sure you will agree after you read the following story that he wrote about his struggles to pass the necessary standardized tests for him to attend school in the U.S. It takes a highly-skilled writer to be able to turn a difficult life experience into a work of literary art!

From Dusk to Dawn by Carson L. –

Night crushes me like a colossal wave. It shrouds over me, covers the last thread of daylight, and extinguishes the last bit of warmth from the flame I call hope. The night comes slowly in my life; sometimes I won’t even notice it, then it will suddenly surge over me.

The dusk comes to me when the flame of hope ignites a new dream. The flame gives the dream power; the flame gives the dream elegance and merit. “I want to go study abroad in the U.S.,” I say to myself quietly. And that single seed bursts through the ground, and it blooms, and it blooms. I still remember its beauty clearly in my head; it seems so real, and so close to me. So, I let it spread everywhere in my house, the kitchen, the storage room, and even to my parents.

It was a good dusk, a good dusk before night. 

The night is rushing. The night is hastening. The night is skimming. The night is laughing. The night sneaks over to my side, grinning. The night first comes to me in the form of various vocabulary books. “If you want to apply to a school in the U.S., you have to pass the standardized test first!” my teacher roars at me with the sound of the night. TOEFL. SSAT. TOEFL. SSAT. TOEFL! SSAT! All this new vocabulary, all those peculiar words in the books go in one ear and immediately go out the other ear. They are so slippery, I want to grip them, but they just slip out of my mind without leaving any trace. 

So I study, both school work from my public school, and also vocabulary to pass those standardized tests. I remember clearly now that I had been crying every night. The pressure, the pain in my head, the exhaustion from lack of sleep, all make my mind scream. My mind wants to give up. The night laughs; its laughter is full of triumph. My fear, my wanting to quit, gives it enough power to cool the flame in my heart. The flame whines; it tries to give out hope and confidence, but it seems so tiny in front of the colossal shadow of the night. The wave then crashes into my dream, the poor dream. I dread the night; it is the headaches, the pressure, the exhaustion, and all those terrifying vocabulary words. 

I want to run away from it, as far as possible. However, the dream and the night are tied together, because there’s no dream in daylight! If I cannot endure the night, then I cannot enjoy the beauty of the dream. If I cannot overcome the tempest, how can I see the rainbow? 

So I choose to stay; I stay in the night. The flame is the only source that gives me warmth. Little sparks of hope occasionally pop up in me. Sometimes it is a happy day in school, sometimes it is an improvement on my standardized testing, and sometimes it is a restful night of sleep. 

I have changed, I begin to cherish every single one of the sparks, and hold them firmly in my palm. That keeps me going, with my heart warm. It feels like sitting next to a fire pit on a cold night, with my hands out, feeling every bit of the heat. The flame not only warms me and gives me hope, but it also lights my way. 

Finally, with the help of the flame, I pass the narrow gorge with great difficulty. But at last, I reach the plain of success, and I pass the standardized testing. 

The day I get my score, I am filled with joy. The flame feels hot, and the night suddenly doesn’t feel that harsh anymore. My heart is filled with confidence and pride. I want to yell, yell out loud in the night that I can overcome anything with my flame and my effort. I laugh; it is finally my turn to laugh. I laugh at the night, with laughter full of triumph. The night roars; it tries to break through the barrier of light, but my hope is too strong and my confidence makes me defeat every single hardship I encounter. Essays, interviews, more essays, and more school visits all try to overwhelm or crush me. But they stand no chance against my confident, positive soul. 

It was a good dawn, a good dawn before the day. 

The day comes to me in the form of offers from two different schools. The day comes and the night disappears in the distant horizon. The night is over; or shall I say, the hardship is over. As I am typing this memoir in the U.S;, I always think of this piece of memory, over, and over again. I am grateful that I did not give up during that night. And I am proud of my choice to stay in the night and struggle with it. 

Day and night and dawn and dusk are just a cycle; they are everywhere in our lives. Sometimes you won’t even notice, and they will crash into you, hard and real. Most people will choose to wake up and leave that nightmare alone. However, this is when those who are successful are different from those who are just “normal.” People who are successful will choose to stay and struggle with the nightmare until it is morning again. 

Night can come at me at any time, either in the form of applications for secondary school, or even difficulties with academics at school. My mind is always ready, because I know that my flame will always be there, and it will always burn brightly. And, more importantly, I know that the sun will rise upon me again very soon — soon after I overcome this night.