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Summer 2020 Contest Winners

We are excited to announce and showcase the winning pieces from out Summer 2020 Writing Contest! Enjoy!


By Luce Cada, 1st place winner

    Do you remember the time when you could go outside and hug your friends? Maybe you weren’t a hugger, maybe you’d pretend, maybe you’d laugh about a time when you said hello to your teachers and mess up in front of them, when you could run around with uncovered smiles on your lips and you’d wish that you could have more time instead of going home every night and texting ‘till the clock chimed in the morning?
    Well, look, the world kept turning and the flowers kept blooming, but we humans were pulled out of time and everything paused with no signs of replaying. You got what you wished but not the way you wanted, and you sat with your face glued to a screen, daunted by the invisible serial killer as it ate away at us.
    And you’d pray to whoever listened that it would end, that the Universe would send a sign, a cure, to bring the world out of its buffered state.
    But you learned to live with it, right?
    As each night passed, you slipped into a routine of meets or Zooms in breakout rooms of awkward silences. The seasons changed and May and June came and suddenly you saw a sliver of hope but it dissipated because the killer is still alive.
    Yet, as hidden smiles and late-night calls that brought messed up sleep schedules became normal, you realized that maybe these locked up doors had, after all, brought the world just a tad bit closer.
    Even if your mates were a little off the walls and you had little to no socialization with your real-life friends, those movements online brought you out of isolation as the world fell apart but grew in determination.
    This time, it’s impossible not to make a difference with all this time on your hands.
    And it’s funny how around this time, you’d be rushing into Targets and Staples and buying journals and markers to put on your tables and running into friends at the mall with grins on your faces.
    You always wish for that time.
    That time, when memories of friends won’t be six feet apart, when words will be taken to heart, when hugs are welcomed at every start of a conversation, that’s what might take months or years.
    But this time, you - we - can improve.
    With time, we’ll grow and love and learn to never take things for granted like we might have before.
    We’re all here, in this time, together.
    A generation with scars on our hearts that we all share identically, scars that last an eternity.
    Our time is now, and we don’t need to wait.
    Love, don’t hate.
    Time doesn’t wait for us.


By: Ada praun-Petrovic, 3rd Place Winner

    The shelter-in-place order caused by the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted our lives and made many of us miss things that we took for granted before the quarantine. I find myself feeling lethargic without the hustle-and-bustle of pre-quarantine life; I used to work all day from 7:00 in the morning till 2:00 A.M. the next day. I blithely ignored my parents’ nags to go outside, rationalizing that the time I spent walking between my classes was enough exercise and Vitamin D for me. Now that commute and extracurricular activities are no longer a part of my schedule, I don’t know what to do with all my free time. In my silent moments, I longingly contemplate the playful chatter as I walked between my classes, the happy trips to Starbucks after school, and
simply the presence of my friends less than six feet away from me. Now, quarantined at home, the only thing I’m surrounded by is loneliness.
    My schedule is zoom, homework, sleep, zoom, homework, TV, sleep, repeat. I am always bored, tired of a never-ending cycle with not one event to look forward to. I am lonely, isolated from all my friends. Disgruntled, irritated with my family for every little thing they say. Annoyed, piqued by the clink of cutlery at the dinner table, the scraping of chairs on the floor, the horrible drone of voices grating, the constant ticking of the clock on the wall, the buzz of the fly by my head, the vexing sounds and jarring colors and itchy clothes and everything. I’m done. With everything, and nothing. With waking up and doing nothing and sleeping. And waking up and doing nothing and sleeping. With the oppressive feeling of utter uselessness that I carry like
a weight on my back.
    Sometimes, I turn my camera off in zoom class. For a minute, with no one watching, I allow my eyes to well. I hear Senora Moss ask me a question, so I blink aggressively, turn my camera on, and say “El pretérito de yo forma de dormir es dormé.”
    Sometimes, when the 3:00 bell rings, I leave my desk and I lie on my floor. I stare at my ceiling, and I think about how much I miss eating Ben & Jerry's while watching horror movies on Netflix with my DECA partner at midnight at the states conference. I miss chasing my friend across the Nichol’s atrium, who stole my phone and took ridiculous selfies on it. I miss eating lunch with everyone I love as they poked fun at me for grabbing my fifth cookie.

    Suddenly, my phone buzzes, and I tap through stories on Instagram. My friends are campaigning for Student Council. Some kids started a nonprofit. Others made masks. I’m on my floor.
    My mom calls me down for dinner, but I don’t want to eat because yesterday the bathroom scale read 5 pounds higher than one week ago. Instead, I say, “I’m going for a walk.” As I trudge out the door I grab a jacket, not because it’s cold in late May, but because my fleece feels like my best friend’s hug. I angrily walk along the winding sidewalks till they lead me to the trail by the creek near my house. I breathe a sigh of relieved gratitude as I step onto the dirt path, so close to the busy road, but so far from the oppressively stale air of my room.
    I set off down the trail, each step just a little lighter than the last. As I pass families strolling together, little kids gleefully holding their parents’ hands, I envy the love and peace they share. It’s such a contrast from the dissonant clashing of frayed nerves in my family. Frankly, though, I suppose it’s not all their fault. Quarantine is hard on all of us, and sometimes we take it out on each other; but when it comes down to it, we’re always there for one another.
    Noticing the dimming light in the sky, I sigh and turn around. My phone buzzes with two simultaneous texts. My little brother says, “come, we’re watching a sci fi. i know u love those.” My friend texts to a group chat: “yall we should meet up :D i miss u and love you all”
    A small smile forces its way onto my exhausted face. I was never alone.

Windows to the soul

By: Riya Arora, 4th place winner

As hugs turn into virtual high-fives
And pajamas become our cocoons,
As sanitizer turns into a balm for our weary nerves
And TP becomes our most prized possession,

We lumber out of hibernation every morning
With nowhere to go but the couch.
The only thing we’re creating these days
Is a six feet force field around us.

As we fight to flatten the curve,
This insidious little bug flattened our lives.
Zoom-ing through our days is ok,
But i-contact is not eye contact.

As I walk around I see a sea of masks
Like extras in a dystopian movie,
Their eyes constantly scanning for threats, avoiding mine
I can’t read them, can’t tell what they’re thinking.

“Windows to the soul,” they said.
Not anymore.
I’m not afraid but sad,
As our humanity falls victim to social distancing.

The Authors

Luce cada                Ada Praun-petrovic    Riya arora                

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