The Palisadian-Post has partnered with Paul Revere Charter Middle School to highlight a series of pieces from its 2020 Literary Anthology. The following piece, penned by Jules Walsh, originally appeared in the Autobiographical Narratives section of the anthology, released in spring, and has been reprinted here with permission.
It was a warm and humid summer evening in Sydney, Australia. My older brother, Dylan, my mom and dad and I were all getting ready for a climb. I was listening to upbeat music, its fast, happy tempo and lyrics getting me excited. I could hear my brother complaining through the music saying he wanted to go home. He wasn’t much of an explorer person. It was winter break, but in Sydney it was summer so we could feel the heat, with the sun shining directly over us.
With over 1,000 stairs, I stared up at the humongous structure we were about to climb. I had driven under the Sydney Harbour Bridge multiple times, yet as I was starting to climb up it, step by step, I felt the nerves creeping in. My ten-year-old self was terrified. It looked down at me like I was an ant to a human, or like I was dust to a broom. I saw my brother just in front of me dragging his feet and complaining some more. I looked up and saw a sky full of clouds. The fluffy white clouds invited me to join them up there. I had a feeling that it was not so sunny after all, like there was something wrong. I convinced myself it was just nerves. Nothing so innocent, so soft like pillows, could be harmful, so I continued to walk up the stairs. “Looks like a bridge over trouble, Walter,” I nervously said to the tour guide.
Up I went, each step giving me a surge of confidence. With a will to keep going, I wistfully stared at the sun, wishing I could touch it. The clouds started to turn a cotton candy color, a beautiful pink and light blue contrast, with hints of red and pink like a painting. I didn’t think about the destination, but about the journey. Below me were beautiful blue waves with deep dark secrets underneath. I could hear the cars passing underneath me on the other side of the bridge.
I continued to climb, and I realized we were near the top. As I looked up, instead of welcoming fluffy clouds and cotton candy skies, I saw gray clouds all around, and the wind was howling at me. The sun had disappeared and left cold, harsh weather. How had I not noticed? Rain sprung upon me, showering me in its cries, “When the rainbow shaves you clean, you’ll know.” I could feel the thunder, a rumbling, scary tremor. The wind was so strong like it was trying to knock me over. My brown hair blew in my face, flying all over like a bird in a storm. I held on to the rails with all my strength. My mom tried to mollify my nerves by putting her hands on my shoulders, but the cold wind howled as if it was saying, “Dead ants are my friends, they’re blowin’ in the wind.”
I looked below, and the waves looked unforgiving and cold. I could hear them splashing against the rocks, one by one. However, as quickly as it had come, the harsh weather left, and the sun was out once again. I looked up, ready to go home. I realized looks can be deceiving. Just because something looks fantastic doesn’t always mean it is. I must never judge a book by its cover, however incredible or badlooking it is.
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