Press enter after choosing selection
Grade
10

“I didn’t like the movie that much.” Amy said, brushing the hair out of her eyes.

“What? Why not?!” Adam turned around and stopped walking, which then caused Amy to stop walking. The people around them hastily made way for their sudden stop.

Amy shrugged, “’Dunno, it just-it didn’t make me feel anything.”

She continued walking, thinking Adam would let it go.

“Didn’t make you feel anything?!” Adam jogged to catch up with her. “How about when the mother died? How ‘bout then?” Adam once again stopped walking.

“Nothing. She wasn’t believable at all, Adam.”

 He looked at her incredulously. “I don’t know why I expected anything from you; you never feel anything, do you?” And then under his breath, “Especially for me.”

Now Amy stopped. Her eyes widened, her mouth dropped open, and she crossed her arms.

“I don’t think this about the movie anymore.”

“Your damn right it isn’t.”

They stood there in the freezing cold in front of a closed down bakery.

“I didn’t like the movie Adam, at all, and I don’t like you.” Amy whispered.

She uncrossed her arms, took the ring off her finger, and held it out for Adam to take.

 

State
VA
Zip Code
22201
Grade
6

In the Dark

It was a mistake. It was all a mishap. An error that cost a life. That cost a soul.

You were never good enough. Always second best. Always hiding in the shadows.

Only now it is apparent that staring at the dark is all you’ll ever do now. You’re stuck in hiding now and forever.

You always had potential. You always had some heart. But never enough.

When they teased you, you would shrink into the inky dark, always avoiding the light. Now, it is too late to feel the warmth of the sun, vital and sublime.

Red. Crimson red, that’s all you’ll ever remember, that flash of red. Your own blood on your own hands. Watching it wend its way through the corrugated grooves on your fingers, through the searing scars on your palms. But by then, it is too late to turn back.

Forever may you live in black. Forever may you live in misery. Forever may you be lost without sight. Forever may you dwell on your own blood in the dark.

State
WA
Zip Code
98075
Grade
9

An open envelope drops onto the table. Another one. A third, then one more. 

My hands are shaking, stained with ink. Papercuts line my fingertips. I don’t want another letter. 

Several more fall onto the table. The boy next to me works with a vacant stare, stamping addresses indifferently. I wish I was that mindless. 

I reach for the next envelope, folding back the flap. I pause. 

What if I didn’t close this one?

A shadow appears on my right, sensing my hesitation. Inching closer, it seeps like ink over the floor, the table, my clothes. Until I can feel it’s darkness on the back of my neck. 

I will myself to move, but I can’t even breathe, frozen. 

“Aw honey, cat got your tongue?”

The voice purrs above my ear, sour breath so close I gag.

“Get back to work. NOW!” 

The words shatter my defiance, sending ice slithering down my back. My hand jerks to my mouth. I run my tongue over the envelope so fast I cut it. My mouth fills with metal, but I reach for another. 

“Much better, kitten.”

The shadow slinks away, hovering just out of sight.

I reach for another envelope. 
 

State
CA
Zip Code
94070
Grade
6

I stare at the boxes full of childhood junk. I open the nearest box to find countless drawings I had made in kindergarten. I pick up the top one, a crayon drawing of what was probably supposed to be an elephant. It’s wrinkled, smelling like an eternity of peanut butter sandwiches. I start to throw it in the trash, but instead I carefully place it on a nearby stool.

Picking up the next thing, I realize that it is drawn in angry red scribbles, depicting an apple. It’s teared, and stained. I turn it over, reading a much neater label, proclaiming it as an ‘emotion picture’. This one, I do throw in the trash, crumpling it into a ball.

Retrieving a watercolor painting of a lopsided mouse with a jagged purple tail comes next. I quickly place this one on the stool, remembering how my teacher had shown it to the rest of the class.

I reach in again, pulling out another drawing. I can’t see it. Everything’s gone blurry, and I notice I’m crying. I compile my artwork, reaching to smooth out the creases, but I stop.

The creases are a part of it, as important as anything else.

 

State
MI
Zip Code
48104
Grade
10

A wave of cold air blew over me as soon as the train doors opened. I shouldn’t have sat this close to the exit, but at least no one else was sitting next to me. I was looking out onto the platform, it was empty. Just like this train. The few people on it were quiet shadows, not relevant. But I knew that this silence would not last for long.

Soon enough, I saw the first of the pack, the commuters were coming. It was quite entertaining to see them so oblivious at first, only to then realize that their train was about to leave. Some started running, but the doors were closing; they wouldn’t make it. The doors slammed shut. I heard footsteps; had someone made it after all?

As the train left the station, faces and figures in the window blended together, they were still standing there, but I was already gone, never to be seen again. I felt a tap on my shoulder, breaking me out of my reverie.

A tall figure stood over me, was it someone important? Was this the turning point in my life?

 

“Your ticket please, Miss,” he said.

 

State
MI
Zip Code
48103
Grade
11

Mr. Summerson didn’t usually celebrate Halloween. He never even gave out candy. But this year his boss invited him to a party, and he decided it would be impolite not to come.

After a few beers, he was in such a good mood that he even helped out with carving pumpkins and let his friends talk him into seeing the fortune-teller. Inside the dim-lit tent, a small woman dressed in a funny costume sat before a crystal ball. She looked him in the eyes and said, “You will die tonight.” Mr. Summerson tittered and rejoined his friends. But after a while, he realized he wasn’t enjoying the party as much anymore, so he left early.

Just as he got home, the doorbell rang. Who could it be?, he wondered, as he didn’t usually have guests at this hour.

At his door stood death. Black cloak, no face and a sharpened scythe, ready to reap his soul.

She was right after all, were the last of his thoughts.

The doctors say he died of a heart attack, though they are unsure what caused it. Pity that he chose this moment though, he gave the poor trick-or-treater quite a scare.

 

State
MI
Zip Code
48103
Grade
7

It was cold and rainy, my ride was almost here. It was November 19, 2018 and I was going to a party, which has not been good in the past, from police investigations, to people getting arrested and years in prison. But I didn’t care, I was young.

 

It was November 19th, and we just arrived. I was pretty nervous, and I felt like everyone was staring at me, but no, I was just paranoid. About an hour later I was sitting on the couch watching football with some of my friends when a gunshot comes from the other room. I quickly threw Michael on the ground and then got under a table. You couldn’t get much time to focus and process what’s going on when everyone’s screaming, and there's a dead person in the other room.

 

When I was running I felt a sharp pain in my ankle, and I just froze there an looked behind me, there he was... Matthew?

State
OH
Zip Code
45409
Grade
9

 “I don’t know… Are you sure Sarah? Mom’ll be mad if she finds out…”

“I’m sure. Mom has so much money she won’t notice that it is missing! Don’t you want that sticker book, Taylor? She won’t care.”

………………………………

“Daddy! You’re home!”

“Whoa! Slow down kiddo!”

“Come on, Daddy! It’s important!”

“N-” Taylor’s dad sees the look his wife is giving him. “Fine. What do you want to show me, pumpkin?”

“I have enough money!”

“Did ‘Sarah’ give you this money?”

“Sarah found it! And gave it to me because I’m her bestest ever friend,” she says excitedly, pulling out her mom’s money jar.

“Taylor, that looks like your mom’s jar. Did you take it?”

“No, it was Sarah, I promise!”

“Taylor. I think that it is time you start being responsible.” Noticing her confused expression, he starts over. “That means you need to tell me you did it. I know Sarah didn’t because… Sarah isn’t real. She is imaginary. Go give this back to Mom.” He leaves the room.

The room is quiet, and then a small voice asks, “Did you know?”

Sarah replies, “Yes,” and then quickly, “But we can still be friends, right?”

There is no answer.

State
ID
Zip Code
83646
Grade
10

It’s 6:06 pm, and I want to go home. The cold has soaked through my jacket and gloves. I can no longer feel my hands and it feels like I’m carrying rocks on the ends of my fingers. The sun is dipping under the fence behind me.

As I wait for an opportunity to snowboard down the hill, a woman begins to grin feverishly. She excitedly scoots over to a male sitting down, only one of her feet strapped onto the board. She almost falls backward but catches herself, grabbing his arm in an attempt to get his attention. “¡Mira! ¡Mira!” Look, look. When he cannot see from where he’s standing, she awkwardly drags him a couple feet over. He stays in his skateboard, giving a few thrusting kicks to help the process.

A few seconds go by, and then his face turns on into something else. His eyes crinkle, he smiles wide, and a slight laugh comes out of his mouth. The reflected light from the sun turns his eyes a burning color, like an orange popsicle. He directs his words at the woman, but doesn’t move his gaze. “Hermoso,” he says. Beautiful.

State
MI
Zip Code
48103
Grade
7

Dust, falling through the cracks in the floorboards underneath my feet. The corners of the ceiling covered in cobwebs that even the spiders have abandoned. The door creaks slowly, tired of having been used so many times. But I know that the house still has a heart. A heart that is weak, but hasn’t yet lost it’s pulse.

I hear the squeal of floorboards behind me, and my own heart starts to race. Ba-bum, ba-bum, ba-bum. I hear them coming closer and closer, and then—suddenly—they stop. They’re gone, just as fast as they came. I bend over, panting from all the running. It wasn’t real, I think to myself, It’s just paranoia from being in this house for too long, breathing in this rotton air for too long. But I can’t afford to get distracted from what I must do.

Find the center of this maze of a house, bring back the hope that it once had, and, finally, get out. Get out of this house before it sucks me into its misery, just like it has done to so many others before me.

State
MI
Zip Code
48103