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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9 Reasons Crocs Are The Only Shoes You Need

Crocs have holes so your swag can breathe.
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Do you have fond childhood objects that make you nostalgic just thinking about your favorite Barbie or sequenced purse? Well for me, its my navy Crocs. Those shoes put me through elementary school. I eventually wore them out so much that I had to say goodbye. I tried Airwalks and sandals, but nothing compared. Then on my senior trip in New York City, a four story Crocs store gleamed at me from across the street and I bought another pair of Navy Blue Crocs. The rest is history. I wear them every morning to the lake for practice and then throughout the day to help air out my soaking feet. I love my Crocs so much, that I was in shock when it became apparent to me that people don't feel the same. Here are nine reasons why you should just throw out all of your other shoes and settle on Crocs.

1. They are waterproof.

These bad boys can take on the wettest of water. Nobody is sure what they are made of, though. The debate is still out there on foam vs. rubber. You can wear these bad boys any place water may or may not be: to the lake for practice or to the club where all the thirsty boys are. But honestly who cares because they're buoyant and water proof. Raise the roof.


2. Your most reliable support system

There is a reason nurses and swimming instructors alike swear by Crocs. Comfort. Croc's clogs will make you feel like your are walking on a cloud of Laffy Taffy. They are wide enough that your toes are not squished, and the rubbery material forms perfectly around your foot. Added bonus: The holes let in a nice breeze while riding around on your Razor Scooter.

3. Insane durability

Have you ever been so angry you could throw a Croc 'cause same? Have you ever had a Croc bitten while wrestling a great white shark? Me too. Have you ever had your entire foot rolled like a fruit roll up but had your Crocs still intact? Also me. All I know is that Seal Team 6 may or may not have worn these shoes to find and kill Osama Bin Laden. Just sayin'.


4. Bling, bling, bling

Jibbitz, am I right?! These are basically they're own money in the industry of comfortable footwear. From Spongebob to Christmas to your favorite fossil, Jibbitz has it all. There's nothing more swag-tastic than pimped out crocs. Lady. Killer.

5. So many options

From the classic clog to fashionable sneakers, Crocs offer so many options that are just too good to pass up on. They have fur lined boots, wedges, sandals, loafers, Maryjane's, glow in the dark, Minion themed, and best of all, CAMO! Where did your feet go?!

6. Affordable

Crocs: $30

Feeling like a boss: Priceless

7. Two words: Adventure Straps

Because you know that when you move the strap from casual mode chillin' in the front to behind the heal, it's like using a shell on Mario Cart.

8. Crocs cares

Okay, but for real, Crocs is a great company because they have donated over 3 million pairs of crocs to people in need around the world. Move over Toms, the Croc is in the house.

9. Stylish AF

The boys will be coming for you like Steve Irwin.

Who cares what the haters say, right? Wear with pride, and go forth in style.

Cover Image Credit: Chicago Tribune

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4 Lifesavers for People with Anxiety Disorders

Sharing your story makes a difference even if it is a small one.

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As someone who suffers from Anxiety disorders, I tend to get really flustered and frustrated at not just big projects but also smaller ones. Though I have only been officially diagnosed for about 2.5 years, I have learned a lot of tips and tricks that have allowed me to live a little bit more carefree than I thought was possible.

DISCLAIMER: If you believe you may have some sort of anxiety disorder or mental illness, consult a doctor and therapist in order to get the correct help and medications, these tips will not solve all the problems that come with Anxiety, but they will help lift the burden off of your shoulders a little more than just your typical medicine and organizational hacks.

Since my anxiety went unnoticed for so long, I made a lot of choices for myself to help combat the stress I was feeling, even though now that I know the cause of my troubles, I still make sure that I have a planner with me at all times, since writing is therapeutic and so is having everything organized. Having a planner on me that I can use to keep track of school and everyday life allows me to enjoy the smaller things without getting stressed about the bigger ones. Since everything is in one place, you don't have to worry about misplacing or forgetting assignments or even events you have planned.

While essential oils can't cure everything, having certain scents near you when you get an anxiety attack or start to feel stressed is extremely helpful. Most common oils used for anxiety include eucalyptus and lavender scents, which calm the nerves and allow you to relax and think logically about whatever is going on. I use eucalyptus spray on my pillow every night before I go to bed to ensure a good nights rest for the next day.

I understand that not everyone has a good family situation or friend situation, but having a good support system behind you is always helpful to any mental illness or issue in general. If you do not have family or friends that you know you can trust to help you out, there are always people you can reach out to on your campus. Whether it may be a guidance counselor or your favorite teacher, there is always someone to talk to.

Lastly, remember it is always okay to take time for yourself, you do not always have to be around others, it is so so helpful to take a day or two and just take a bubble bath and read a book, watch some movies with some popcorn. It will not hurt you I promise. Of course, do not neglect assignments for a bubble bath, but if a huge project is due and you are halfway done and it is stressing you out, take a break, not everything has to be done in one sitting.

Remember, not all of these lifesavers work for everyone, but sharing what works for you can in some way end up helping someone else, even if you don't know it yet. Sharing your story makes a difference even if it is a small one.

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