The girl was always on time for school. Her parents were often unwilling to take her, leaving her with no choice but to walk by herself or take the bus, but she always took pride in making it on time. Today the girl was going to be late for class, but only because she felt the need to stop and look at the pieces of pink Play-Doh that marked a trail along the elementary school’s otherwise sterile white floor. Children shuffled about, waddling to their designated classrooms, but the girl fixed her gaze on the boy walking away from her, dropping more pieces of Play-Doh and extending the trail towards the building’s exit. She had seen him once or twice before in the hallway, but they did not share a class. All she knew about the boy was that he was absent more often than he was actually in school. “Hey Hansel,” she called out to him. “What are you doing?”
the boy stopped and turned to look at her. he said making claims.
“Claims?” The girl took a step towards the boy. She looked down at the pink on the floor and asked him how, exactly, he was claiming the hallway with Play-Doh.
i’m not claiming possession he said. i’m claiming memories. it takes me back to my childhood. his hands shook when he spoke and he almost dropped the can of play-doh onto the floor. i need to remember the good times when i move forward and leave the bad ones behind.
There was not a single student in the school that could have been older than twelve, so the girl had no clue what the boy meant when he said that his “childhood” was a thing of the past. She looked back at the section of the line of Play-Doh that began far behind her, noticing that the rest of the students had already disappeared into their assigned classrooms without paying it any attention at all. The floor was no longer pristine; scuffmarks from the other children’s sneakers streaked the hall, expanding opposite of the line of clay and away from the exit, marking paths of their own towards the classrooms. She cocked her head and then turned back towards the boy, aware that classes would be starting any moment now, but she was still unwilling to bring herself to leave her position by the trail.
he said you have no clue how hard it was to get where i am now. the things i have seen here. i am leaving the bad behind and claiming what little good there is so i can make my own life moving forward. you should do the same.
“What are you talking about?”
the boy reached into his can and fingered out a small piece of play-doh and stuck it on her forehead. claimed. he dropped the can on the floor and it landed perfectly on its base. he turned back around away from the girl to head towards the exit and when he pushed on the door the sunlight filled the hallway and bathed the boy in a way that cast his huge shadow over the pink splotches on the white floor. the floor was much less plain than it was before.
“What do you mean claimed?”
you can follow me if you want.
She looked down at her feet and at the can in front of her before peeling the piece of Play-Doh off of her forehead, careful not to tear it but unsure of why it would even matter if she did. She examined it, studying the wrinkles and imperfections in the clay. It still held together though, just as the pieces that lead her towards the door did. With patience, the girl thought, the pieces could be molded together and shaped into something new. She finally looked up again, but when she did the boy and his shadow were already gone and the door to the outside world was beginning to close. The bell rang, signaling the start of class. The girl wondered what her parents might think of this.
if her parents even noticed. the girl saw her own shadow as she put her piece of play-doh into her pocket. she walked towards the door willing to see where the boy’s path lead. like the boy’s shadow hers too completely covered the pink trail. the shadow lingered even after she took her first step outside but when the door finally closed behind her the shadow disappeared.
My short story "making claims" was published in the 2016 edition of Rhode Island College's Shoreline magazine.
My article "Films Across the 401" was published on Motif Magazine's website.
Films Across the 401
Used with permission from Motif Magazine: http://motifri.com/films-across-the-401/
From October 21 through 23, the 401 Film Fest ran its second event at The Arctic Playhouse in West Warwick. Organized and hosted by Adam Theroux, a local filmmaker and camera operator for The Rhode Show, the 401 Film Fest showcased a variety of short films, documentaries, music videos and even a feature film to over 300 audience members in six showcases over the course of three days. More than 50% of the films that were screened were made by Rhode Islanders. The featured filmmakers ranged from middle schoolers to local and international professionals.
Beyond his love of film, Adam Theroux is also a Big Brother, and his support for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ocean State formed the backbone of the 401 Film Fest. While admittance to the festival was completely free, $1 raffle tickets were sold at the event with all proceeds going to Big Brothers Big Sisters. The Arctic Playhouse was also given to Theroux for free, allowing all of the revenue that would have gone to the venue to go straight to Big Brothers Big Sisters. Last year’s 401 Film Fest raised over $1,000 for the charity. “I wished to match that this year and we friggin’ doubled it!” Theroux said about the $2,000 that the festival allowed him to donate this year.
Adam sees the causes that the festival supports as being twofold. The first, of course, is Big Brothers Big Sisters. The other cause that benefits from the festival is the independent filmmakers who have their work screened. Friends and family members pack the venue in anticipation of seeing what their loved ones have created, but many people also attend just to check out the local independent filmmaking scene. One woman in particular showed up on Friday evening after hearing about the event online despite not knowing a single filmmaker. She was there solely to support the Rhode Island artists, and, “She had so much fun she came all of Saturday and all of Sunday,” Adam said.
Our local filmmakers greatly appreciate the connections that they were able to form at the festival and the opportunity that it provided them to show their films to the community. “I hadn’t realized the local community of filmmakers was so large, so diverse or so interconnected,” stated filmmaker Charlie Hatton. “Most people I spoke with were working on multiple projects, often in various combinations with other creators represented in the fest.” Charlie and partner Jenn Dlugos submitted an episode of their web series “Magicland” to the festival. Since “Magicland” usually releases online “We don’t usually have the opportunity to watch it with an audience,” Jenn said. “401 gave us the opportunity to do that.” Jenn also collaborated with filmmaker Andrea Henry on the comedy short Weekend Getaway. Of the selection of films, Andrea stated that “They ranged from good-natured comedy to thought-provoking social commentary. It felt like a truly independent film fest.”
“I’ve known Adam for years now,” stated Holly Mello, writer and director of The Person You Could Have Become, “and it’s amazing to see him create this festival from scratch. I’ve had films of my own screen both years and it’s great to be a part of the local community of independent filmmakers.” Tim Labonte, who worked on “Magicland” as well as the music videos Cast My Vote and Only One You, stated, “This was my second year at 401 Film Fest as a filmmaker and attendee, and it’s because of Adam’s passion for film and the community. It’s amazing how he uses both to help what he believes in, and he’s just an incredible human being. I’m looking forward to next year already.”
Next year is already a work in progress, as Adam tirelessly works on planning for the upcoming third installment of the 401 Film Fest in 2017, with submissions opening up on January 1 and running straight through July 31.
Copyright © Thomas Palleschi. All rights reserved.