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Portraits: The Sixth Sense by Louise Dequilla, © 2008

“But Halloween is just a sorry excuse for a holiday that was mass produced and made popular by lonely old guys trying to fit in by making other people dress up like clowns,” Bella protested while sitting on the old tire swing, while her mother was contently arranging and rearranging the Halloween decorations outside of their front patio.  With a tilt of her head towards her creation, Mrs. Stone responded to Bella’s rant with, “Do these pumpkins look even to you?”, as if she didn’t even hear a word of her daughter’s earnest and brutal opinions.  Bella replied to her mother with a blank look on her face, hopped down to the front yard, and without even turning back to actually examine the symmetrical alignment of festive décor, she said over her shoulder, “Yeah mom, they’re so even, it’s scary,” with a hint of sarcasm in her voice.  Mrs. Stone detected the cynical remark like a hungry lion spotting its prey, and said, “You know, Bella, I don’t understand why this isn’t your favorite holiday.  I mean, I always see you drawing those silly little pictures of monsters and whatnot in your notebook…”  Bella turned sharply to face her mother and quickly defended herself by saying, “I am an ARTIST, mom.  And those ‘pictures’ are called portraits.”  But her mother was already too busy attaching the skeleton that strangely resembled an anorexic snowman to the front door to respond.  So with that, Bella picked up her backpack and her “artistic” notebook, and began the six minute walk to her high school.

It was three days before Halloween and the stench of adolescents gossiping about the upcoming Halloween parties was enough to make anybody queasy, especially Bella, who was only really interested in the mysterious tale of the missing Howard sister.  Julie had been reported as missing for three days now, and her twin sister, April, was worried sick.  Now you may have inferred that April would be worried about her sister’s sudden disappearance, but instead, she is panic-stricken that their big Halloween bash will have to be postponed, since her sister is not there to finish writing up the invitations.  Alas, the Howard twins are the originating aroma of gossip, since they supposedly know everyone there is to know, defaulting them to capture the unwanted title of “most popular, superficial, self-centered brats.”  (The sisters were identical in almost everything, including their attitudes, so the only way to tell them apart was that Julie had blonde streaks in her hair.)  But for some reason, more than half of the school population was eating out of the palms of their hands, with every one of them yearning for a spot in their elite posse.  However, as of this moment, April is left alone in the limelight.


Bella stopped by her locker with her notebook in her hand, and she silently reflected upon what her mother had said about her “silly pictures”, when out of the blue, the clickity-clackity of stilettos was heard approaching her locker.  Behind the open door was April, with a stack of blank cards in one hand and an assortment of felt markers in the other.  With a demanding tone of voice she said, “Hey Stone, you know how to write, don’t you?  Do me a favor and finish these invitations for me and I might consider inviting you to the BIGGEST party of the year.”  Bella slammed her door shut, leaned against the wall of lockers and simply smirked at April, but her eyes acted like windows to her mind, as you could almost see a devious plot forming behind that smirk.  “Tell you what,” Bella began after a long silence.  “I’ll finish those tickets to boredom, but I’m not gonna do it to get one for myself.  I want to hear the inside story about what happened to your sister.”  April hesitated for a moment, showing the first sign of weakness since she found out that her Prada purse was a knock-off.  But she seemed desperate, so with an exasperated sigh replied, “Ugh, fine.  Meet me in the library tonight and I’ll tell you whatever you wanna know.  But you have to start these invitations, like, now, mkay?”  Without waiting for a reaction, April shoved the cards and markers into Bella’s hands and strutted away.

“Creeeeak.”  The doors to the old library made it seem ancient and abandoned when Bella anxiously entered, eager to learn the secrets behind the mystery of Julie Howard.  Taking a seat behind a dusty computer, Bella couldn’t help but have a sense that something was out of order.  Placing her notebook beside the yellowing keyboard, the lights in the library abruptly began to flicker.  Bella was now feeling a little uncomfortable, and was actually happy to hear the echo of clicking and clacking in the building, assuming that it was April.  But when the sound came close enough for Bella to believe that April had arrived, the clicking and clacking only continued, with the sound growing fainter, then louder, then fainter once more.  Bella was now feeling very nervous and was about to pick up her notebook to leave, when her computer screen unexpectedly turned on.  Bella couldn’t help but jump, and when she did, she saw that the screen was showing a criminal record of a felon who went by the name of “Artiste.”  Bella’s curiosity got the best of her as she slowly sat back down to read about this interesting individual.  Skimming through, she learned that Artiste was recently wanted for kidnapping and murder, but she had previously escaped from a mental institution, after claiming that she could predict the death of certain people she knew.  But the peculiar thing about her predictions was that she would sketch the face of the person who would die, in a notebook that she always carried around with her.  After reading this part of the record, Bella glanced over to her own notebook.  She then quickly dismissed any thoughts about similarities between this convict and herself.  Continuing her reading, Bella also learned that Artiste was wanted for kidnapping a girl just a few days prior to today.  The police then found the girl’s body and Artiste’s notebook, with the portrait of this girl being the last one drawn.  Bella came to the end of the article and almost fainted when she saw the date that it was posted: today, October 28th.  Suddenly, the lights began to flicker rapidly, the computer screen went black, and the clicking and clacking noise returned.  The windows of the library flew open, and a strong, swirling gust of wind bombarded the building.   The wind happened to catch Bella’s notebook, which fell open to the last page onto the ground with a thud.  Bella peered over her chair to see her notebook, which was open to a page containing a portrait of a girl who resembled… April?  But it wasn’t April.  Because this girl had blonde streaks.

Louise Dequilla                                                                                                      Dequilla 1
Mrs. Lofquist
AP Language and Composition
September 27, 2010 ©

Coming of Age in Mississippi: Memorable Quotes


“Mrs. Claiborne was white but she and Mr. Claiborne treated me like I was their own daughter… Miss Ola had done the same. She… helped me with my homework when my own mother was unable to do it.  Then I began to think about Miss Pearl and Raymond’s people and how they hated Mama… that she was a couple of shades darker than the other members of their family.  Yet they were Negroes and we were also Negroes.  I just didn’t see Negroes hating each other so much.” (ch. 4 pg. 59)

I found this quote very striking because it goes against the usual expectations regarding the relationship between blacks and whites.  While we assume that all whites look down upon blacks during this time period, therefore resulting in the blacks sticking together and forming associations with other blacks, this quote is ironic in the fact that the relationship that Moody experiences is actually reversed.  Rather than feeling a sense of camaraderie with people of her own color, let alone people who are almost her relatives, there are emotions of hate surrounding her.  On the other hand, rather than being treated unfairly, as if she was dirt, by the whites, Moody paradoxically has a better and healthier relationship with them, because they treat her on a more equal level, than do the people of her own color.

“She had a certain way of doing everything in her house from sweeping to setting a table.  I guess all the maids she had before catered to these little wishes of hers.  But I had no intention of doing so, and I had my own little ways of resisting her rule.” (ch. 9 pg. 122)

The significance of this quote is that the reader really starts to get a taste of Moody’s strong-minded and tenacious personality and attitudes pertaining to the way she believes she should be treated, and the way she believes others should be treated, as well.  She is most definitely not the type of person to lie down and allow people to walk all over, as we can see from this quote.  Moody is willing to risk punishment and people getting a negative impression of her, as long as she knows what she’s doing is what she thinks to be correct, according to her personal thoughts.  Rather than sitting back and cruising through life letting other people boss her around, she regularly finds herself feeling compelled to listen to her heart and her mind, and in turn, her actions are based on how she sees fit to react to her surroundings, even if she comes off as being petulant.

Dequilla 2

“But when I learned that it had just been integrated and that all the teachers were white, I talked myself out of going.  I was afraid that those white students would murder me in class.  I didn’t want the white students to act like they were smarter than me just because they had gotten off to a better start.” (ch. 20 pg. 260)

Moody, while throughout the entirety of her education, beginning from when she attended Mount Pleasant, up until high school at Willis and Johnson, she had always been very secure with regards to academics.  She strived to work and study hard, and in turn, she was always top of her class, gaining a straight A average.  But even though she was entering her junior year of college with the background of her many achievements in school, Moody was terrified and insecure to attend a school with white teachers.  She tricked herself into believing that having white teachers would be a completely bad idea, and she would not be able to receive the proper education she desired.  Also, being in a classroom with white students, knowing from her experiences from her childhood that the children of white adults would be the spitting image of their racist parents, she had psyched herself out and automatically judged that it would not be safe for her wellbeing to go to school with white students, especially if they had a reason to fall back on to say that they are better than her, and therefore deserve the right to look down on her.

“The more I remembered the killings, beatings, and intimidations, the more I worried what might possibly happen to me or my family if I joined the NAACP.  But I knew I was going to join, anyway.  I had wanted to for a long time.” (ch. 20 pg. 269)

The significance of this quote is that we begin to see the future involvement Moody will have pertaining to the road of racial justice and equality.  By joining the NAACP chapter at Tougaloo, we can foreshadow just how implicated she will be, in hopes to somehow take revenge on the whites who had been doing so much wrong to the many innocent blacks, not just the ones she personally knew of in her hometown of Centreville, but also in many states of the South.  During the majority of part two when Moody begins to tell about how she was learning of the multiple wrongdoings committed by whites against blacks in Centreville, a newfound bitterness and anger toward whites emerged, along with a disappoint with blacks, because they just stood there and took whatever punishment the whites felt suited the situation, even if they were innocent.  From then on, Moody’s goal of wanting to fight back and stand up for the rights of colored people was born, and she wanted nothing more than to begin by being a part of the NAACP.  However, after hearing the lurid stories about people she knew who were involved in the NAACP and what had become of them, she still couldn’t help feeling a little anxiety and fear for her own life and the lives of her family members, no matter how strongly she felt about the cause.

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