Polished Personal Essay

What do these texts suggest to you about the impact significant events have on an individual’s ability to determine their own destiny?

Washing the Past Away

The rain felt like uproarious applause to him, as if some great event had occurred around him, though he was unaware of it. The world was a dull grey, verging onto a darkness that only a storm could bring. Some ran for shelter into the nearest coffee shop, while others simply cowered under their umbrellas, hoping that if they didn’t raise their eyes or expose their head, then maybe they could hide from the darkness. Because the rain had a way of influencing people; they reflected the glum natural world before them. But to him, he was fine with this darkness and the cold embrace of water clinging to his skin. After all, for three years of his life it felt like a constant storm, first being uprooted, then tossed from place to place. Across the way some man meandered out of a pub with a bottle in his hand. He held it up to the rain as if to collect the tears being wept and drink from them, but when he discovered that his efforts were futile, he smashed the bottle and left.


His father sat on the couch with a can of beer in his hand, watching the flickering screen of sports highlights and, as he liked to call them, “real men” playing football. How much he wished that his son could be more like this. During this time, three years ago, the boy’s father did nothing much besides come home from his job and waste away from a can of liquid confidence, or perhaps, belligerence. After school, the young son of this man would sneak in through the back door and simply go straight to his room, as to futilely avoid the unavoidable confrontation sure to happen later that night. Sometimes he’d peak out the door and watch as his father would snort and chuckle as the crude humour of the television show made his fat stomach move. His mother came out of the kitchen telling her husband she had made dinner, to which the lazy man’s reply was, “About time.” They all sat at the table and ate.


The boy had gotten good at lying about his grades to his father. Today was the day he got his report card, and by no means was his father to see it. Normally he would leave it at school, but today he had forgotten to remove it from his back. Hiding it was no use, as it would surely be found sooner or later. With a half full plate, the child dropped his fork and pushed the food away.


“I’m not hungry,” he almost whispered.


“No, you’re not,” was the only reply to break the silence.


But how could he eat when he was already full? In his room, he had eaten his report card so that his father couldn’t see it. Still, he took another bite. His mother did the same. Bite after bite, the chewing being the only ambient noise, the mother suddenly inquired about the rent.


“Dear, when will you have rent for this month? We’re running out of….”

“Are you questioning my ability to work?” he interrupted.  She shook her head but her silent response only stirred his anger.


“Am I not good enough for you Marie, is that it? Is that what you’re saying?” he said with a rising tone. The drink had taken control. His face contorted into a macabre, red scowl. He stood up and smacked the woman across her face, though only her head slightly turned. Her hair fell over her eyes and no movement was seen from her mouth. There was a silence, as if the slap had left an echo they were all listening for. She stood up and grabbed her son by the wrist and took him to his room. She picked up all of his clothes and shoved them into his backpack. She did the same to her clothes, but put them into a single suitcase, all the while the man stood at the table, starng at his hand as if he had just been amputated. He suddenly turned around to meet the gaze his family at the door. With a simple goodbye and the boy’s dumbstruck countenance, the pair left the house despite the father’s pleas for forgiveness. He stood in the doorway, the silhouette of a man who had lost it all.


A nearby taxi driving through the nearby puddle woke the boy from his thoughts, and only the rain remained. The drunk man from the pub had left long ago, and the street corner he was on had begun to slightly flood over. He had waited here, like he had been told to from the text his father had sent. Yes, three years later and he still feared the man. Was he still the prudent, abusive man he was, was he going to exact his revenge on him, was he….? Across the street, he recognized his face. Staring back at him, a life of abuse, in between them was a three year long road of emotion pent up. The man smiled. Through the rain he could make out that, indeed, he had the same face, but his figure had grown slimmer. On his jacket, a shiny button that pierced like a beacon through the grey, rainy world, labelled “AA.” Perhaps, thought the boy, perhaps he was wrong. Perhaps, the small white man in the sign flashed and the man started crossing the street towards him. Every step the man took was a wet slap, bringing back a familiar echo that only served to raise the boy’s heart rate. He was frozen. The cold rain had finally frozen him, but only when the man embraced him, did the boy warm up.


“I’m sorry,” he whispered, first, then repeated it in a sob, “I’m sorry.”


Years of pent up emotion. Years of a vendetta. They melted away into the storm gutter along with his tears, and the rain, and the dark world he had known.


“I forgive you.”

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2 thoughts on “Polished Personal Essay

  1. Dear Lucas,
    Before I went to read this piece, I felt that I had a solid grasp on how to write creatively for personal responses. Sure, it wasn’t really anything I was banking on (as I felt much more comfortable writing an analytical piece), but it was something I had confidence in. AND THEN I READ THIS POLISHED PERSONAL RESPONSE. Comparatively, every aspect of your writing seems to be written with an intent behind it whereas, in my writing, I nonchalantly try to stylize my own writing depending on how I feel about it. You were highly successful in relating details together in a way that is both clever and also realistic, as exemplified when you write, “But how could he eat when he was already full? In his room, he had eaten his report card so that his father couldn’t see it.”. It’s something that seems like a reality that one may face which allows for emotional connection, yet from the way it is told, it seems like a distant reality, especially given the circumstances. While I feel that I can connect with the narrator, I read the piece as if I was a spectator who was viewing the past of the narrator – this style was perfect for this type of response. Thank you for providing me with an exemplar for creative writing before our writing diploma, because it truly made me realize the importance of the intention behind stylistic choices.

    I’m unable to completely understand as to how you can write a creative piece with such depth while also making your answer to the prompt apparent enough that I only need to read your piece once to comprehend it. I really enjoyed how you began in the present with the presence of the rain and used it to develop the atmosphere of the piece; particularly, your sentences that utilized colour imagery (“The world was a dull grey, verging onto a darkness that only a storm could bring.”) developed an expectation of the overarching theme. I originally thought that the main character would have experienced a significant event that would alter his ability to determine his own destiny – I was all the more surprised when the father was the one who changed. I feel that you played up the effect of the father on the life of his child very well: I could feel the apprehension of the narrator as he stood in the rain, waiting for his father. Going into a flashback after the smashing of the bottle (at the end of the first paragraph) was brilliant because it made total sense. An occurrence such as the smashing of a bottle would certainly make someone remember a memory involving alcohol.

    From the way I’m interpreting this piece, it seems to me that the significant events in the life of the father (his wife leaving with his child) made him realize that he had to change his destiny; without this significant event, the father may have remained an alcoholic. This makes me believe that we only have an ability to determine our destiny when we see a need to change our destiny – individuals can never really change unless they desire to change. This was what I saw in the father after the son describes the noticeable change in the father’s appearance. The largest disappointment I experienced in this piece was my disappointment when I realized that you ended it after the son says “I forgive you”; while I admit that it’s a really strong way to end your piece given the foreboding atmosphere that dominated the beginning of your piece, I REALLY wanted to see how an individual as talented as you are would describe the son’s emotion after he forgave his father.

    In terms of improvement, I feel that your piece is at a level where I cannot possibly imagine how you would improve it. Therefore, my only source of improvement would be to vocalize the son’s changing perspective of his father after his father hits his mother. Specifically, if your highly insightful mind can think of a way to show this changing perspective with the fact that the son ate his report card in order to hide it from his father; the report card played a significant role informing me about the role of the father in the son’s life so it could be effective in conveying the father’s shifting role after his son leaves with his wife.

    You’re a very versatile writer, Lucas. You’re able to write at a high level personally, creatively, analytically…you even have a distinct voice for each type of response. It’s something I try to understand, but I’m never successful in doing so. My hope is that I’ll have the privilege of viewing your writing even after AP English ends, if only so that I may continue studying this aspect of it.


  2. Dearest Lucas,

    Wow, I am in awe at your ability to write such a wonderful story! As someone that struggles with essay writing, I feel as though I have learned a great deal from reading your work. For instance, I felt the pacing was excellent, and it never dragged and was always moving forward. I tend to get caught up in my own words I forget to make a point at all, but you are excellent in sounding intelligent while consistently moving forward. The fear of disappointing a father figure in your life is completely relatable and it was natural in the way it was executed in your essay. Moreover, you answered the prompt very clearly through the character of the father. When you write “Years of pent up emotion. Years of a vendetta. They melted away into the storm gutter along with his tears, and the rain, and the dark world he had known. ” It is the quintessence of the weight a change of life can have on not only an individuals own destiny, but the relationship and destiny the very individual has with others. This is what I believe makes your essay an excellent, as it displays excellent forward thinking with regards to answering the prompt.

    I would like to build off of Rehman’s suggestion and say that I would enjoy seeing that finally really come together at the end. Connecting all the years of conflict between the two resolve would make for the perfect ending. For instance, showing that the son truly has trust in his father and he believes that he has changed. Perhaps telling him what he got on that report card and confessing how he felt all those years.

    Lucas, I believe you are an incredible writer, and I can’t help but pay the utmost attention to you in class. You have an excellent ability to articulate your fantastic ideas that I so desperately want! Regardless, anytime you speak I am always grateful to be blessed with your knowledge. Gonna miss you next year!! ;-;

    Much love,


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