by Ken Kemp, Communications Director for FLITE TO FREEDOM
When Alexandra answered the telephone this week, she sounded unsure. Mine was a mature man’s voice on the other end - unknown to her. But this guy sounded as though they were long time friends; at first it was all a bit unsettling. Her guard was understandably up.
I explained that I represented FLITE TO FREEDOM and that she had been identified as a FLITE ARTIST and that we wanted to feature her work on our website. At that, Alexandra recalled a prior conversation - a warning that she might hear from me. She relaxed. “Oh, yes! I remember now,” she exclaimed.
“You are considered a FLITE ARTIST because your work so clearly fits our mission. We believe that art heals; that the creative process strengthens identity and fortifies confidence,” I said.
“That is all so true,” Alexandra responded.
And then she added without reservation, “Writing saved my life.”
“Wow, Alexandra,” I replied. “That’s powerful.”
She poured out her story. She’s a senior in high school now, full of energy and focus. She’s preparing for college life; eagerly and enthusiastically. But it wasn’t always so. In the early years, she was bullied. I didn’t pepper her with questions. She filled in the detail all on her own.
Alex loves to read. She does her homework. She is devoted to studying and learning. She became a target at the school and in her neighborhood because of her zeal to answer questions in class; to probe; to share her insights. Teachers, of course, favored her. But her peers? They sought to silence her. They could be malicious; merciless. Catty girls and cruel boys would demean her with spiteful name-calling and vicious pranks.
It drove young Alex into isolation. She withdrew; overcome by sadness, too young to understand the power of dark depression and the injury of self-loathing. She got lost in her books, identifying more closely to fictional characters than classmates or friends. And then she started to write. Stories. Journal entries.
“Writing saved my life,” she repeated.
As of today, I’ve read three of her short stories. They are beautiful. Engaging. Filled with imagery; vivid, detailed description and heart. I’ve been a dad and a grandfather to teenagers. I know what it’s like to wonder what in the world is going inside the head of these youngsters who despise questions like “how was your day?” Or “what happened while you were there?” Or “did you make any friends?” The silence, the one word answers, the dismissive “I don’t know” and “I don’t remember” can be disheartening, distancing and discouraging.
Read Alexandra. Like me, you’ll find, on the contrary, a powerful insight into a growing, active mind. She has the tools of language at her disposal to deliver insight and to make you think. There is an intelligence and power and momentum in her narrative that will draw you in. She dispels the notion that the teenage mind is somehow in neutral; indifferent or disengaged. Alexandra sees it all.
The driving force of her work is that inescapable adolescent urge to shed the confines of the restrictive cocoon forced by rigid schedules, academic demands and parental expectations - to peel it all back, and be free.
Thank you for your beautiful work, Alexandra. It’s a flight to freedom.
READ ALEXANDRA ADAMS' short story, Her River of Escape HERE