Fiction 59: Teens

Winning works from the adolescent entrants

First Place

Marmalade Sue
Marmalade—named this for her parents’ enjoyment versus practicality—watched as the setting sun transformed the lake before her to liquid silk. As darkness enveloped her, she eyed the hastily stuffed backpack to her right. There was no flashlight inside that bubblegum-pink material. Tonight would be one without light; without pillow. Where girls who run away face consequences.

By Emma Hoppough
Age 13, Chico

Emma Hoppough is in seventh grade at Chico Junior High. She loves to write, explaining that she came up with the first line for each entry and then the rest just came to her.

Second Place

Hide and Seek
Hide and seek. I’m really good at this game. Really, really good. I usually play with my friends, but playing with the babysitter is just as fun.

“Jimmy! Jimmy! Where are you?”

I can hear her. I can see them. Mommy and Daddy? Blue and red flashing lights. Blue uniforms?

Wait. When did we start playing cops and robbers?

By Natalie Calcutta
Age 17, Chico

Natalie Calcutta is a senior at Pleasant Valley High School who wrote this story for a creative-writing assignment. This is her first contest entry, but because she likes writing, it may not be her last.

Third Place

Grandma’s Nuts
Ben dreaded going to his grandma’s, but she always had tasty candies within arm’s reach; he especially loved her unsalted peanuts. While visiting with her, bored and hungry, Ben ate all but two peanuts in the bowl.

“I’m sorry I ate all of your peanuts, Grandma.”

“Oh, it’s alright. I only like to lick the chocolate off of them!”

By Courtney Hovey
Age 17, Chico

Courtney Hovey is a classmate of Natalie’s in the college-prep writing course taught by Julie Rix. She, too, had never entered a writing competition until Fiction 59.

Honorable mention

“I only wish it were true,” the young girl said with a long sigh, hugging her knees as the waterfall thundered behind them. The sandy-haired boy grinned mischievously.

“Who said it wasn’t?” he whispered, reaching for the waterfall, and pulled it back like a curtain. The girl gasped in amazement as the doorway to the impossible was opened.

By Hannah Hull
Age 13, Chico

Sisters and Hobos
I gazed into her befuddled, schizophrenic eyes. Why did she have so many questions?

Today’s question: Her sister had labeled her hobo. Next day, she met a hobo. He called her sister. What’s up with that?

“Haven’t you ever heard of sarcasm?” I told the perplexed girl. She touched the mirror … “Haven’t you ever heard of your own reflection?”

By Elaine Taylor
Age 16, Paradise

Why I Hate Dentists
I’ve always been scared of dentists. On my twelfth birthday, my half-formed fears became a reality. That day, what made me afraid wasn’t the sharp metal instruments or the hissing machines, but the dentist’s hungry expression as he leaned over me. I screamed as he carefully removed his pale blue mask before sinking his fangs into my neck.

By Helen O’Brien
Age 14, Chico

From a Distance
They stood thirty feet apart, flirting across the great lawn. We watched, wry humor twisting our lips. “Close the gap, close the gap,” we chanted softly. He took a step away. We groaned as one. As they parted, both turned about for a final glance. They smiled nervously. We laughed, accidental voyeurs to the world of teenage romantic drama.

By Hugh Hammond
Age 17, Chico

Kismet Happens
I laughed when you leapt off the top of the monkey bars and broke your arm. Cackling as sadistically as a six-year-old can cackle, I held no sympathy for your sad crocodile tears. Ten years later, shouldering a broken heart instead of arm, I really, really want to punch you. Karma is indeed a bitch, isn’t it?

By Darlene Gilbert
Age 17, Chico

My wet hair hangs heavily around my face, overwhelming in its cloud of vanilla. I stab my pencil hard against the paper.

“Fifty-nine words. It’s not a novel; not even a short story,” I murmur hopelessly, as my imagination flies free as a bird. In my mind, two figures waltz gracefully, someone pulls a trigger, and children laugh.

By Kestrel L. Carroll
Age 13, Chico

Best Friends
She moved next door when we were ten. Her long legs, blonde hair, and freckles were like nothing I’d seen before. I didn’t mind her tomboy manner. It only engrossed me more. It crushed me to hear she didn’t have similar feelings. I couldn’t move on. Years later, she knocked on my door and kissed me. “I love you.”

By Camille Miller
Age 17, Chico

I stood there, in the 7-11, staring in awe at the blue wonder that was the Slurpee machine. A curved trickle hung off of the nozzle, taunting me with its syrupy sugary goodness; I couldn’t help but be drawn to it. It was then that I woke up. Out for three weeks. “Diabetic coma,” they said. So worth it.

By Austin Johnson
Age 17, Chico

Sleep Talking
As I lay on my bed talking on the phone late at night, I called out her name. “Mai?” Still, no one responded. I repeatedly called out her name with a curious tone, afraid. I opened up my eyes and saw the phone next to my head. I quickly realized I had fallen asleep on her. No! Not again!

By James Thao
Age 17, Chico

Craggy calendar coastlines remind him of Ireland. Then again, so does drinking. The calendar kiosk vanishes. He is in a bar, dizzy among the raucous laughter, slipping, falling, cursing the Irish, their homeland—this is their fault.

“Are you going to buy that?”

He reels backwards, disconcerted. “That was … horrible …”

“Yes or no?” She’s impatient with him.


By Jennifer Jackson
Age 17, Paradise

Rain Fall
Rain dripping down my eyelashes. Mud stuck to my boots. I stand there in the middle of the street, wondering when I’ll hear thunder or see lightning. Rain starts roaring louder, then it comes: a spark of electricity from the sky. It strikes the ground in front of me. Standing there in the rain, cars drive by; I dance.

By Shelby Stallings
Age 17, Chico

Olive’s Famous Lemon Cake
The act of squeezing frosting onto her famous lemon cake was, in Olive’s opinion, a form of the highest art. Not just the squeezing, but the shaping into swirls, flowers, and lace-like trim. Olive peeked behind counters at customers taking first bites, anticipating happiness, until her rounded features fell. Her cakes were famous … but only for tasting vile.

By Emma Hoppough