Lydia Grace Hart
“Why did we come here?”
Practically everyone asks that at least once in their life time. And for those who haven't, well, they are just those few fortunate souls who were blessed with the gift of extreme optimism. And cool parents. Yes, cool parents definitively help the matter. Because with cool parents, family bonding time is going to the movies, perhaps eating out. Never with cool parents do you find yourself on national television, dressed as a hillbilly straight down to the billy-bob teeth, barn dancing. It just doesn't happen.
The judge's comments: This made me smile. Excellent job!I liked the authentic voice of this character and the surprise twist at the end.
By Ellen Coatney, First Place
“Why did we come here?” Christie whined, clutching her arms around her ribcage in a bony corset and rocking back and forth against the gritty wall of the motel basement.
I didn’t reply. Every answer felt empty.
Across the room, a little kid banged a plastic pony against the floor, chipping away at the cheap paint on the horse’s hooves. The part of me that was still nine years old itched to join him. It beat standing here pretending to be a man when no such thing existed anymore. We weren’t men, or women, or children. We were all just people playing chicken with death.
The judge's comments: There is such great description in just a few short paragraphs. It's very visual and cinematic and leaves me wondering what in the world is going to happen next, what's happened to the world as we know it. It has a smart dystopian feel to it that I love.
By Bethany Baldwin, Second Place
“Why did we come here?” Rosie’s voice slices through the darkness, making me wince.
“Hush.” I turn to glare at her, but know that in all likelihood she can’t see my expression. “They might hear.” I gesture for her to follow me, and she hurries, tripping over an upraised root that reaches as if to trap an unknowing victim.
At last she’s beside me. I jerk her down, pressing a finger over my lips as we stare through the bushes.
“Matilda, what are we doing?”
I don’t answer. I can hear the footsteps, crunching through the dead leaves outside the tall abandoned office building. Is it him? The John Dillinger?
The judge's comments: I like the hook at the end when I realize they’re spying on someone. Very fun. I enjoyed this.
By Lindsey Bradford, Second Place
The nicotine whispers reassurances as effervescent as the smoke that rises from the glowing tip. Wasn’t your fault. You’ll be fine. Everything’s okay.
I drop the spent cigarette to the ground and crush it with my boot. Old habits, I suppose.
“Lucas Petton has committed crimes against the Crown. His punishment is execution by firing squad. God have mercy on your soul.”
I look at the row of helmeted soldiers. My sister is one of them. Can’t tell which. I’m pained that our reunion is here, bayonets between us. Why did we come here? How did it get to this?
I never wanted this, Anna.
By Allison Perdue, Third Place
“Why did we come here?” My voice trembles, more due to fear than the fact that it’s snowing both outside and through a hole in the roof. A dare to enter an old house. Why? A floorboard creaks as my foot moves. The room is covered in furniture with ripped and missing limbs. Books resting in a wooden bookshelf to my left have had their pages ripped out. But that is nothing compared to the blood stains on the table.
“We had a dare, June.” Ethan’s voice sounds as bitter as lemons taste and I wish I hadn’t come.
Nothing I do is good enough for him.
The judge's comments: There's a great sense of setting in the entry. The description is vivid but not too much. Plus, you can't help feeling a little scared for June, the mark of a character you care about as a reader.
By Britt M., Third Place
They said it'd be an adventure. They said it'd be exciting. They said it’d be for the best, and I would get used to it eventually. Like you’d ever get used to howler monkeys on the roof or iguanas on the porch.
They- my parents- like these kind of changes. The continental kind.
*Why did we come here? I don’t know. I bet they don’t know, either, but that’s a typical move for them.
My parents said you only live once. My friends say that, too, but when they do, I’m pretty sure they’re thinking more about skydiving and shopping sprees than moving to Costa Rica.
The judge's comments: Strong writing with a twist at the end that made me smile.