Fiction 59: high school winners

Big kids with the write stuff

Emma Hoppough

Emma Hoppough

Photo By jason cassidy

The Writing Exchange:
It’s become a regular thing for the students from Table Mountain School—the year-round school for incarcerated youth at Butte County Juvenile Hall—to enter their poems and stories in our Poetry 99 and Fiction 59 contests. And this year, three of their stories made the Fiction 59 issue—two from “Alex” and one by Nate (for purposes of protecting their identities, first names only or pseudonyms were used in print). In addition to the school’s multi-subject instruction, the students are also able to take part in a program called The Writing Exchange, in which they exchange poetry and prose with Sacramento and Fresno juvenile halls. Visit and check out their work.

First Place

La Vie En Rose

Louis jives in hazy reds and comfort-creaks. He’s the sound of knotted floorboards beneath bookshelves I used to scan, and the gravelly laugh that rebounded in Grandpa’s downsized apartment.

I stole a trinket from his dresser … one miniature Eiffel Tower. Now France seems so distant.

Silence strikes in a cobalt thunderclap; it leaves me heavy with this lullaby.

Emma Hoppough, 17

Emma Hoppough has good luck with odd numbers. She has taken first place in Fiction 59 in 2009, 2011, and now 2013, at the ages of 13, 15 and 17, while in the seventh, ninth and 11th grades! “I have a good every-other-year thing going,” she said. The Chico High junior has worked on the high school’s literary magazine since the ninth grade, and says that these days she spends as much time painting as writing.

Second Place


The monopoly pieces lay in the game cupboard, discussing their worldly views. “Personally,” said the iron, “I could not go on living if I did not believe in an underlying moral structure.”

“Morality is subjective,” countered the thimble.

“Not in an irrational scheme of perception,” corrected the racecar.

Little Jimmy pulled out the board and they resumed their silence.

“Alex,” 17
Table Mountain School

“Alex” is one of the writers from Table Mountain School at Butte County Juvenile Hall (hence, the omission of a picture), and according to his mother the avid writer, reader and blogger has been encouraged by instructor Scott Bailey and is “very, very excited” about having his stories chosen.

Savannah Kilbourne

Photo By jason cassidy

Third Place

Future Delinquent

Bloody knees and scabbed elbows, she walked the downtown streets, her pink backpack hanging open. In the midst of childhood and freedom she wandered through the park and tree-lined Esplanade. Later her mother would yell, scold and, holding her, vow to never let go again, but for now the shining sky was blue and the schoolroom far away.

Savannah Kilbourne, 15

In the shoes of the students of Table Mountain School.

PHOTO courtesy of table mountain school

Even though Chico High sophomore Savannah Kilbourne isn’t currently taking a class in her craft, creative writing is her favorite subject (for the time being, history is filling in as her current fave). A big fan of reading fantasy and humor books, anime, music and sketching, the Chico native’s focus in writing is mainly fictional stories. This is her first time entering Fiction 59.

Honorable mentions


A lone rider on his horse. The wind at his back; the future at his front. Colt pistols at his sides; determination in his mind. Roaming the plains, wanting to see the elephant. Danger looks around every crack and every corner. He is a hero. He is a God. Bullets can’t touch him. He’s too quick on the draw.

Nate, 17
Table Mountain School


She threw down the pencil, muttering, “heck with homework.” She gazed outside into the twilight … and the sky changed. Chimney smoke became dragon fire. The dragons were fighting the night, and for a time it seemed as if daylight would resume …

Alas, even chimney dragons cannot add hours to the day. She sighed, picking up the pencil once more.

Elizabeth J. Allen, 16

Beyond Life’s Dimensions

On his third birthday, Sparky the dog was hit by a car. He barely returned to the living that day, but what the doctors didn’t know was that Sparky could now see beyond life’s dimensions, and observe the expansion of atoms and waveforms in milliseconds. He has no way to tell his owners, so he barks and chews bones.

“Alex,” 17
Table Mountain School