The Contest

Short Story: The Contest

Part one of a two part story

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"Here you go! Have a nice day." Maria smiled as she handed a customer the double chocolate milkshake that he ordered, then turned to the next customer.

"Oh...you. How may I help you?" She gritted her teeth as she spoke to the next customer, whom Maria recognized from her school. This girl, Thea, was basically Maria's nemesis.

"Yeah...I don't want to order anything, I just wanted to stop by and tell you I just submitted my entry for the photo contest. Y'know, the one you said you were going to win? I hope it's not going to be like the debate you were going to win! Or the rose growing contest...My garden was much bigger and fuller than yours." Her voice was completely nonchalant, but her hazel eyes glared right through Maria. She finished her sentence with a little laugh and a quick toss of her straight blond hair.

"I didn't say I was going to "win", I said I was entering. It was the same with the debate." Maria was hoping to get a license as a lawyer once she got older, so she started taking debate classes early, for practice. It was the one thing she loved to do, and Thea for some reason felt an urge to break into everything Maria tried to do. glanced at the line quickly forming behind Thea. "And if you're not going to buy anything, I'm going to have to ask you to leave."

"Sure." Instead of leaving, she glanced at the menu stuck on the wall behind Maria. "How about one scoop of...victory?" With a cackle sounding suspiciously evil, she tossed her hair again and walked out. Maria stood for a moment in confusion.

"That wasn't even clever." The next customer, an older man, said as he watched Thea go.

"No it wasn't." Maria said, brushing Thea's visit off with a little laugh. "Have you chosen what you'd like to order? Please don't say victory."

-----------------------------


Maria fed a strawberry top to one of her two sugar gliders. She was playing with them on her bedroom floor, letting them run of some energy. Her mind kept flicking back to her run-in with Thea earlier. She had to admit, Thea was good, but this contest was something that Maria really wanted to win. She scooped up her pets.

"All done with playtime." She dropped them gently into their cages and adopted a baby voice she used when speaking to her pets."You don't think she'll win, do you Big Eyes?"

The only response she got was a little 'Chrrrp!' as the small one, Big Eyes, curled up and fell asleep. She went to the computer and opened the contest home page. She had hundreds of thousands of pictures that she could have entered, but none of them seemed right. If she was going to win this contest, she had to pick something with "Wow!" In it. The deadline was tomorrow. Maria had to go out and find something quickly.

The first prize was $600, and they'd get to showcase one collection at the Riverton Art Museum. But more importantly, the winner got to beat out Thea, and take her down a peg. Being rich and popular does not make you any more of a person. Ethics. That's what Thea needed. Taunting people bigger than her would get her in trouble one day. Maria clicked a few links and brought herself to where the contest theme was. "Reflections in Your World". Maria pursed her lips and shook her head. She felt that none of the pictures she currently had fit that description. She grabbed a little green notepad she left laying on her desk and flipped it to an empty page.

"Ideas...ideas...Oh--I could get a picture of someone staring into a puddle!...Probably not, that's not good enough." She scribbled a few other ideas down, then picked up her camera. The screen was cracked and the lens was scratched, but it was her only camera. It was almost constantly in her hand, and she took pictures of almost everything. Right now, all she had was a basic point-and-shoot. But if she won the contest, she'd have enough (combined with her savings) to buy a new Nikon Rebel T5I, the camera she'd longed for for years.

She picked up the phone and called her best friend, Aiden. Aiden was almost always Maria's choice model for pictures. She had beautiful straight red hair, and green eyes that come out beautifully in photographs. They had also been best friends since second grade, where they met after being assigned to tend to the class pet, a hamster. They worked together to clean the floor of his cage, refill his food and drink, and add more shredded paper. When they finished, they realized that the hamster was gone, and the two girls spent that afternoon searching for it. When they found him, they decided they were best friends, and have been ever since.

"Aiden, hi? Yeah, you want to come with me to beat Thea—Heh, I mean--take some pictures?"

"Mom said I can go out until seven, so sure!" Aiden's voice was light and she sounded happy.

"Okay. Yeah, well, I was thinking waterfalls first! Yep. Okay, see you then!"

The first stop on their 'expedition' was a waterfall near her house. Standing about thirty feet tall, Maria had always felt small next to it. Yet it fascinated her. A small pool She had been there so often she knew every inch of it. There was a cool rock 'staircase' the led up to about the middle, where there was an entrance that opened up to a cool cave. At the waterfall, she hoped to get a picture of the water rushing down, the reflection being a reflection of Aiden through the waterfall. Maria met her at the bottom and explained the plan.

End Pt. 1

Cover Image Credit:

https://www.pexels.com/photo/adult-backpacker-blur-camera-610294/

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Being body-positive has been really hard for me to do throughout 2019, despite there being an overwhelming surge in body-positivity around me, whether through my friends and family or YouTube. I look in the mirror and what I see is someone I want to make a jean size or two smaller like in the past. That being said, I've slowly been coming around to accepting the body I have now, instead of bashing it constantly. A key way I've come to accept the body I'm in now is through buying myself something new every month, like a new T-shirt or a pair of jeans or sneakers that help me see myself in a positive light. When I'm in a new outfit, I feel invincible. I don't think about how pudgy my stomach is, or about the hair I have growing in random places, like my neck or on my nose (yes, not just in, but ON too).

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