Imagination at work

Winners in the teen category

Photo by Meredith J. Graham

First Place

Faithfully, Jack’s Beachcomber
When you opened your mouth, seaweed-tainted air would slap your tongue. That beach was a pungent one. Occasionally we’d see an old woman, raking her fingers through chilled sand. With salt that bit ferociously, her withered fingers looked raw.

And one Sunday, remember, we found an eroded ring you chucked somewhere.

I saw the woman leave after that.

by Emma Hoppough, 15

Emma is quite the accomplished writer. She took first place in the teen category in 2009 when she was just 13, and here she is again—this time appearing alongside her mother, winner in the adults category. Now a freshman at Chico High, Emma has two more stories here that appear as honorable mentions.

Second Place

Photo by Meredith J. Graham

I have a secret. I’m not the only one, just look around, see what secrets have done. Shall I tell my secret to someone? I don’t know, it would not be fair to the secret, it would have no identity then. It’s a good secret, if people knew it, someone would weep. Decided. The secret is mine to keep.

Gracie McLaughlin, 13

Gracie loves to write. The seventh-grader at Chico Junior High penned her submissions (another is an honorable mention) as part of an extra-credit assignment for English, and proved she truly has writing chops.

Third Place

Photo by Meredith J. Graham

There sat the boy, yes that one. The one with dark hair and a smile that makes you faint. The one you stare at during class. The one who never said anything in return. The one who only remembers you when he needs an answer. The one who’s not worthy of your attention. That’s the boy that you like?

Brigitte Noel Braud, 14

Brigitte, who turned 14 the day she found out she was a finalist in this contest, is a novice writer who is home-schooled through CORE Butte Charter School.

Honorable Mention
The Box of Banishment was stuffy. Cotton and wool held the structure to full capacity as scuffed paws rustled past for the girl: Her pink wallpaper disappeared. Her nail polish chipped black. Her hands smeared wet mascara droplets. But at night, she’d take her old friends and squeeze them. Someday, the Banished knew, they’d be proudly displayed once more.

Emma Hoppough

She was only a girl, really, though she called herself “little demon.” At the time she was blind to how entangled she had become, so alone. A wild beast carried her off then, away from her mind, and she didn’t come back. With gentle paws he tore away her skin, and she sank into the mud. She was free.

by Socorro Wiley, 17

Sea Turtles
Walking along the shoreline, we dissected and stitched up our quarrels with nature. Nothing can save us. We are the hopeless generation, she bluntly concluded. Looking up at the foreboding gray sky, all the scavengers up there, clouds grumbling. My passive reply: With valid reason, as I felt the dull drops begin falling overhead. Even the clouds are weeping.

by Olivia Lawler

Hands Held High
Explosions occurred outside the boy’s house. He looked outside and saw people praying. “Why are they praying?” He puzzled. “They can’t stop it.” He turned to his play model, which was full of praying toy figures. He stared at them as he dropped another firecracker. He watched the people outside with their hands held high praying for God’s sympathy.

by Gabriel Regan, 17

Each hair had left, so the momentum pushed him out too. He was over sidewalk; he was falling all over. His feet brushed ground, as dust rushed up—to sink. Fits of solitude dragged him dry. He was tangled in his pressing feet; he was being hurried out. And out went his soles, as his quietude, as his hair.

by Celia Eckert, 16

Who I Am
My name is Henry McIntyre. I’m often from Glasgow, Scotland. My favorite color is green and I wear a kilt with no underwear. On Tuesday nights, I stand on my porch and flash my female neighbors as they walk by. I do many manly tasks. I often go and chop down trees, seeing how far I can toss them.

by Henry McIntyre

There are miles upon miles of them. People in single file, looking straight ahead. Lost. Pulling levers and pushing buttons without knowing why. Looking forward until they fall off the edge. This will all fall apart. It has to fall apart. Only then, in the dark, we’ll see the stars and know. We are one, and we are alone.

by Socorro Wiley

Dog Days
We’d sit on my porch during summer, sipping iced tea and listening to sprinklers. Humidity would stick to our throats as we discussed dreams: I’d be a travelling psychic, and you, a juggler. We planned grand adventures. Now dampness sinks between the creases in our skin, and we sit: a podiatrist and accountant. But tea never tasted so refreshing.

by Emma Hoppough

Back in Time
Wind whistled through my layered cut as I swung higher. Just before I broke through the clouds towards heaven’s gate, I abandoned my chains. For a brief moment, I was flying. I was free. Then, I landed with a “thud,” backside cushioned by damp woodchips. A pretty stranger stood by the sandbox, chuckling behind her hand. Just like kindergarten.

by Gabrielle Luu, 16