Winners in the Fiction 59 teens category.

Photo By Meredith J. Cooper

First Place

Jack Dies, So Does Dave
Jack is a risk taker. Dave is not. Jack wanted to climb a mountain. Dave was too chicken. Jack died there on that mountain. His last words were scrawled in the snow: “I should have lived more like Dave.” Dave lived until he was eighty-nine. He died cleaning his pool. He wished he had lived more like Jack.

By Nick Sylvester, age 16, Chico

Nick Sylvester is in John Klein’s junior English class at Chico High. He found Mr. Klein’s challenge of whittling a 1,000-word story down to just 59 difficult but fun. This isn’t Nick’s first claim to writing fame—as a freshman, he won a Rotary Club essay contest.

Second Place

Photo By Meredith J. Cooper

Sunny Days, Foggy Answers
A woman and her daughter sat under the sultry shade of a Weeping Willow, hiding from the hot Alabama sun.

“Mommy, what does it mean to love someone?” the small girl asked.

The mother tilted her head slightly, thinking about her soon-to-be ex-husband, and the yellow bruise on her neck. “I don’t know baby … I don’t know.”

By Amber McCready, age 16, Chico

Amber McCready also is a junior at Chico High in Mr. Klein’s class. She took second place in the CN&R’s inaugural Poetry 99 contest last fall and was up to a new challenge in Fiction 59. She aspires to be a writer.

Third Place

Photo By Meredith J. Cooper

A Muddied Perspective
I made a new friend yesterday. Mother called him “that black” and told me to forget him. So today we spent all afternoon in the garden, gleefully showering each other with fistfuls of dark mud. When my mother saw us, she came running over, looking stricken. “Who are y— Oh, hey baby. Who’s this handsome young friend of yours?”

By Hugh Hammond, age 16, Chico

Yet another Chico High junior in Mr. Klein’s class, Hugh Hammond actually wrote A Muddied Perspective last year. He spruced it up this year to enter the contest for the first time.

Honorable Mention

Underneath It All
She was a beautiful girl, with rosy lips and soft curls in her sun-streaked hair. With her green eyes and smile beaming with her casual confidence, she caught sight of the tall, handsome boy leaning against the oak tree. Her expression now changed to meek … timid. Underneath it all, she was just a silly kid with a crush.

By Kelly Murphy, age 14, Chico

As Good As Dead
I awakened suddenly when I heard a girl scream in terror. I quickly gazed around the room. A man was sitting beside me. I realized I hadn’t the slightest idea where I was. At least not until the man beside me picked up his gun and said, “You shouldn’t be here, kid. You know she’s as good as dead.”

By Toby Redding, age 16, Chico

The Accuser
“Oh, they’ll give ya a lickin’ ‘n’ keep on tickin’ … tic tic tick on down the track … There’re demons out on those rails. My pappy saw one once back in the construction. Then again it was a lot more’n seein’ or so it seems, came home that night and bled out all over me right there in th’ tub …”

By Devon DiMercurio, age 16, Chico

Secret Admirer
I usually admire from afar. Through crowds of bustling high school students racing to their fifth period class I watch. With a beautiful face as soft as cotton and eyes that would make stars jealous she speaks and my heart skips a beat. Little does she know she’ll receive a solitary rose in her locker this lonely Valentine’s Day.

By Vince Gomes, age 15, Willows

In a place unknown is a great fishing hole in which every Sunday Tom and Ping go fishing. This Sunday they were looking for the big one in the middle. The day went by without a bite until finally when Ping started to reel up, he felt a strong pull, then a snap in the line. Now Ping understood.

By Ryan Schimke, age 16, Hamilton City

A Divorced Generation
Her parents had announced the divorce last night, throwing Hannah into a reality she didn’t quite recognize.

She paced the hall, debating with her boyfriend David. “How many happily married adults do you know?”

His silence surrendered his answer.

“Kids are going to grow up thinking that people aren’t meant to love each other,” she observed with a sigh.

By Amber McCready

A Taste of Life
As graduation dawned, Pandora could taste freedom. She knew the imperative, every response necessary to stay on top. She’d lived twelve years in a box soon to be toppled over, and was excited to be free. But mostly she was terrified, because she quite immediately appreciated the ease of living in a dictatorship: There’d been no need to think.

By Hugh Hammond