“White Padded Room (Portfolio)” – Caden Green ’24

Six words:

White padded room. Mind abandoned me.

Twenty-five words:


Hanging from the ceiling, intricately woven into mesmerizing art, like a mobile above a newborn’s crib. I watched their tiny, pale, limbs dangle delicately.

One hundred fifty words:

“White Water”

Drifting into the woods on a cold autumn night, they stumbled drunkenly across the creaky boards of the dilapidated bridge. The lights of the house disappeared behind the evergreens. Only the moonlight lit their way as they ventured further across the bridge, above the violent, white water. They sat atop the middle beam gazing out into the abyss, her head resting on his shoulder, river screaming by. Each breath combined into a cloud of steam rising in the cold air. 

Only nature spoke as insects buzzed in the distance and the water rushed quickly by below, the jagged rocks sticking out like swords. She searched his eyes, but his outward gaze persisted. Suddenly, he turned to her, eyes dead, body rigid. He stood, staring intently at the surging water. She grabbed at him frantically, but the coursing river drowned out her screams as the swords pierced his frame.

Four hundred ninety-nine words:


After I finished up the dishes, I cut two pieces of leftover ice cream cake from Joey’s birthday. We sat in the living room, Joey on his beanbag, me on the couch. As I searched for a Paw Patrol episode that Joey hadn’t seen, my bowl slipped from my left hand and the ice cream spilled onto my lap. I queued an episode, then reluctantly got up to change. 

As I walked to the laundry room, I heard a knock on the front door. I tossed my now-sticky hoody onto the floor near the washing machine on my way to answer. Through the window, I saw a girl, no older than ten, wearing a backpack. Her face was red from tears. 

I opened the door. “Hi honey, are you okay?” I asked. Where are your parents?” 

She wiped away her tears. “I dunno. I got lost and I’m not supposed to talk to strangers but I can’t find my mom and it’s dark,” she said, sobbing. 

“That’s ok, honey, come inside. What’s your name? Do you know your mom’s phone number?” I tried to console her.

“Maggie,” she replied, still rubbing her face, “I think I know it.”

“That’s great Maggie, I’ll grab my phone and we’ll call Mom, okay?” I thought I knew everybody in town, but I hadn’t seen this girl before.

“Okay,” she replied, tears finally slowing down. “Can I go to the bathroom?”

“Of course, it’s right over there,” I pointed her to the bathroom across the hallway. As she closed the door, I quickly glanced at Joey. He was entranced by the TV. I looked at my ice cream-covered pants. Then I quickly ran upstairs and threw on some sweatpants. When I got back downstairs, the bathroom door was open, light turned off. I walked into the living room, assuming she had been drawn to the insufferable sound of talking puppies. My heart dropped as I entered.

Joey was laid back, unconscious. “JOEY” I screamed. “MAGGIE?” The girl was gone, like she had never been there in the first place. I ran over to check on him, but I couldn’t tell if he was breathing. I fumbled with my phone as I dialed 9-1-1 and explained that my son wouldn’t wake up. I grasped his head and felt something leak from his ear. I scanned the room for the lost girl, but her sudden visit felt like a dream; I couldn’t remember the details.

Police burst through the door, followed by EMTs. They pulled me from Joey, quickly surrounding him. The two officers grabbed me and asked what happened.

“I’m not sure,” I said flustered and in shock, “We were watching TV, and then there was a little girl, she had a backpack, she couldn’t stop crying, I tried to help, and then I saw Joey and she…” The police officers glanced at each other. Their demeanor changed from sympathetic to serious. “The girl with the backpack,” they said, “was her name Maggie?”