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2012 High School Writers Competition Honorable Mention Entries

The Write On The River High School Writers Competition is generously sponsored by 2011 Keynote Speaker and New York Times Bestselling author Chelsea Cain.  We would like to congratulate the following Honorable Mentions selected by our Judges’ Panel.

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The Night

by Kassandra Leighton, senior at Cashmere High School

   I wait. The fading sun warms the Earth’s atmosphere with a pink glow, but not for long. Descent—in sync with my tears.

The moon is awake. Scampering night creatures cover the base of the earth, while blind hunters take to the sky. Crickets sing melodies of the dark, telling me that night has come. Through the bushes, they reassure me that I’m not alone, but alone is exactly how I feel tonight.

A soft sigh escapes my lips, followed by the quiet whisper, “I miss him.”

“Who?” An owl perches itself on a thick branch in a tree above me, silhouetted by the silver light of the moon. Nature’s derisive curiosity tempts me to say his name; my emotional instability dares me. Instead, I stare at the dark stain occupying the skin on the back of my hand where his name is written in purple ink.

Fireflies scatter in the field below me. One rises up above the railing on the porch, and rests itself on my hand. It illuminates the stain, presenting to me that name that so deeply depresses me. His name alone laces my heart with kerosene, and he held the match setting it ablaze to the very highest temperatures. He held me so close with such tenderness, and when I was at my weakest he pushed me down; he walked all over me and stole my sunshine. I’m nothing but a shadow. It’s a feeling incomprehensible, and an incident seemingly nonexistent. But then it happens. And then, just like that, he threw the match and charred the remains of my hope.

The flames feed off of not only my hatred for his absolved status to all that he has put me through, but also of my love for him. A love so foolish and strong, that I can’t seem to rid myself of it. A love so hot, it seems the ever-growing flames will never seize.

A hot tear rolls down my cheek, followed to a stream of faster falling ones that I can’t control. Behind them, they leave a trail of black sorrow. Why? . . The question that haunts me more each day. I lay my head down on the railing, unwilling to stare into the night face-to-face with my self-pity.

The wind picks up suddenly. I look up to the stars and let it blow my hair back and out of my face; it dries away my tears. The crickets sing loud, and the fireflies rise around me. They illuminate the air that surrounds me, bringing in the beauty and deluding the loneliness. The light they obtain gives me a sense of hope. Maybe I can make it through this. Through the clear sky the stars twinkle, and the moon is bright and bold. The night is telling me it’s okay, and I believe it.

“I don’t need this. Forget him. . .” I whisper to the fireflies, and the crickets, and the wind, and the moon, and the stars, and the owl.

“Who?”

“Exactly.”

 

It Was You Who Found Me

by Morgan Olsen, senior at West Side High School

   A lock of black hair fell onto his cheek and with a soft brush it was back in its original place. Again, strands fell and through them he noticed the sea. In the distance it shimmered, sparkling like liquid sapphire. Above, crimson shrouded the sky surrounding the moon, a pale cradle hanging from the vault of heaven. The scene beautiful no matter where he saw it, even in a small town where the only way to get to the beach was to skid down a rocky incline so steep and treacherous that even the locals avoided it with a passion. Then again they also avoided him. The town itself was rundown and bordered on extinction, less than thirty people lived in it; mostly women, children, and the old. Days ago, he’d been sent to check on the status of the insurgents that were reportedly in the area but he’d yet to find any. Not even one. With his mission failed and weeks to go until he was allowed home, he’d resorted to patrolling the surrounding areas. Scanning for signs of rebel forces, it seemed he always gravitated to the shoreline. He was passing by the same beach for the twelfth time, and this time, compelled, he stopped and watched the choppy waves slap against the rocks.

Grayish blue with a slight tint of green they foamed and swirled. A massive wave peaked in the horizon. Barreling closer, he cringed as it came and went, leaving a large boulder soaking with a coat of water. By chance, his eyes suddenly caught a glimmer of white protruding awkwardly between a giant rock and the boulder he’d been watching. His first thought was that a bird had gotten, as they tended to perch on the rocks when the sun was out. He shook his head, it didn’t look much like a bird. Looking closer he followed the contours of its shape until he noticed threads of reddish gold wildly floating around. A pale white hand came into view, large splashes of dirty red concealed the arm above it.

And suddenly his heart hurt.

As if someone placed a clamp around his chest, he couldn’t breathe. Short, heavy gasps peppered the air as he found himself sliding down the incline. He barely felt the slicing of the rocks as they cut through his skin, all he knew was that for some reason his body wanted him to go down to the person in the rocks. Whoever it was, they were already dead, so getting the body didn’t make much of a difference. No ships passed anywhere near the village. The person, or more accurately the body had come a long way. He shook his head again, questioning his sanity. Why he was risking his own welfare to get a corpse, he simply did not understand. Mentally urging himself to go back up, he lost the fight with his body and continued on.

Slipping, he landed peculiarly with one hand on a slime covered stone and the other in a hole of water. Pulling back, he swore vehemently and stared at his bloodied hand. Still not free from whatever was making him move, he lurched forward. This time he did so with grace and found himself face-to-face with a young woman.

A head of hair, almost all golden, with tints of a russet red, and lips bluer than the sky stared back at him. Her eyes were closed. A large gash had gone through one eyebrow and down her cheek. He couldn’t help but notice that even marred by the touch of death, she was beautiful. A stirring in his heart, a deep and unbridled sadness closed around him, suffocating him. And again he felt as though it had been squeezed with the Devil’s grip. It perplexed him. He could understand the heartache if he knew her, but she was a stranger, a foreigner even. Half annoyed at himself for allowing his body to control him and half annoyed at the woman, his hand covered his face. His fingers hiding his eyes and his palms his sighs. Through the cracks he looked once more at the girl. He was getting ready to leave when he saw it. Her chest just slightly rising and falling. Shocked, he continued to watch, wondering if it was an illusion. It wasn’t. He could feel the life in her body, weak but still there.

She was alive- something inside him felt overjoyed and saddened at the same moment. He knew she would die soon, her life ebbing away as he watched. If she awoke, her injuries would overcome and the shock and pain would take her last remaining strength. Glancing back up at his horse and then to the girl again, he knew what he would do.

 

Bea: A Cinderella Twist

by Carissa Climer, senior at Wenatchee High School

    The rain poured outside, drowning out all thought. She stared out the window, tracing a raindrop with her stormy grey eyes.

   “Be free raindrop.” She whispered, pulling her legs up and laying her chin on her knees.

   “Beatrix? You need to start your chores.”

   Bea sighed and got up, smoothing out her permanently wrinkled dress. She slipped on her dirty apron and grabbed the bucket of water by the door. She carried the heavy bucket down the hallway, careful not to spill water on the ornate carpet.

   “You’re late, Cinders.” Gabby sneered as Bea entered the room.

   “Sorry ma’am.” Bea poured half the bucket of water into the basin on the counter.

   “You better hope I don’t tell Mother.” Bea knew it was an idle threat, as did Gabby. Gabby wondered when Bea would blab about her meeting with the stable boy. “Don’t forget my laundry. And the curtains and bedclothes need to be cleaned today. Oh, and I expect lunch to be hot and ready when I am done riding.”

   “Yes ma’am. Shall I assist you in dressing?”

   “No. That will be all.” With a flick of the wrist, Gabby dismissed Bea, turning towards her wardrobe and tossing dress after dress aside. “Clean these up later.” Gabby said over her shoulder.

   “Yes ma’am.” Bea curtseyed and walked out the door, placing the basket of dirty clothes on the trolley against the wall. She pushed the trolley with one hand, holding the water bucket with her free hand.

   “Cinders! Dirty clothes. Get them now.” Portia greeted Bea.

   “Good morning to you too ma’am.”

   “You don’t deserve a good morning you little rat. You shouldn’t spy on people.”

   Bea turned her back and smiled as she filled the basin with the last of the water. She knew that Portia was referring to having been caught with the stable boy as well.

   “Your secret is safe with me.” Bea curtseyed as she stripped the bed and picked up the dirty clothes, putting them in the basket.

   “Hmph.” Portia turned her back on Bea, crossing her arms. “Have my lunch ready at noon. I expect it to be hot this time.”

   “Yes ma’am.” Bea backed out of the room and placed the second basket on the trolley, trying to contain her laughter. She dropped the laundry off with the washing boy and ran to the kitchen, barely making it in before breaking into hysterics.

   “What’s wrong Bea?” Sofie, the head servant, and a mother figure to Bea, asked her, looking concerned.

   “Both sisters…seeing…the stable boy.” Bea managed to get out between giggles. Sofie was silent for a few seconds but she soon joined in on the fun.

   “If you started to see him too, all three sisters would be seeing him.” Sofie giggled, her forehead on the counter and her cheeks bright red.

   “Those two are not my sisters.” Bea’s voice was harsh, all amusement gone.

   “I’m sorry. I only meant-”

   “You meant what you said.” Bea stormed out, leaving the older woman standing alone at the counter.

   “Papa? Why did you and mama have to leave me?”

   “We never left you. And your mom is closer than you think Bea. Bea, Bea, Bea…”

   “Bea! Wake up!!”

   “What?” Bea sat up suddenly, looking into Sofie’s eyes and noticing for the first time that they were the same color as her own.

   “You feel asleep and the twins are back. Get their food upstairs!” Sofie shoved two trays in Bea’s face, pushing her out the door as quickly and quietly as possible.

   Bea got the food up to Gabby and Portia just in time, closing Portia’s bedroom door as the two girls came up the stairs, their hair messed up and cheeks pink from the cold air. Bea curtseyed, silently walking past the two sisters.

   “Oh, Bea? I need you to help me pick my dress after lunch for the ball the prince is throwing.” Gabby stopped and turned around.

   “Ball?”

   “Did you not hear me?” Gabby asked, hands on her hips.

   “Sorry ma’am. I assume you would appreciate help too?” Bea looked past Gabby at Portia. Portia walked into her bedroom, but Bea knew that she wanted some help. Bea curtseyed again before heading down to the kitchen to have her own food.

   Later that night, Bea sat near the fire, her arms wrapped around her legs. She had helped both Gabby and Portia choose outfits and had even been promised that she could go, if she could finish all of her chores and find something to wear. She knew that the chores wouldn’t be a problem; finding a dress would hinder her.

   “How are the princesses?” Sofie asked, slowly sitting down next to Bea with multiple grunts.

   “Snooty as ever. But I was told I can go to the ball, if I can finish my chores and find something to wear. I just need something to wear.” Bea sighed, scooting closer to Sofie and resting her head on her shoulder.

   “I think I might have something for you. Follow me.” Sofie stood up, pulling Bea into her small bedroom and opening the armoire, showing a creamy yellow dress that looked to be Bea’s size. Bea took a step forward and ran a hand down the dress, a sigh escaping her.

   “I couldn’t accept this.” She took a step back.

   “I know your father would have wanted you to have it.” Sofie told her, tears making her eyes lighter than usual.

   “How would you know?” Bea asked, turning around and staring at Sofie.

   “I knew him very well, and we talked about it before he passed away.” Sofie looked down at her dirty shoes.

   “How well did you know him?” Bea asked slowly.

   “Very.” Sofie looked up, her face streaked with tears. Bea took a step towards Sofie and Sofie opened her arms, pulling Bea into a hug.

   “Did you know my mom too?”

   “You have no idea.” Sofie whispered, kissing the top of Bea’s head.

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