Short story The Contest

Short Story: The Contest

Final part.


She got a picture of the building, then began the long walk back to the fence. She'd already used up two minutes; she knew she had barely any time left. She felt that at any second, she'd be caught. And then. Everything happened at once. She heard a siren. A construction worker had appeared behind her. Where did he come from? He began marching her to the front gate. She went along willingly, not wanting to get in any more trouble. She was confused. Worried. Scared. What would happen? What was happening? Was Aiden right? The lone construction worker took her to the gate, where bright blue lights flashed in her eyes, momentarily blinding her.

A police car.

An hour later, Maria sat silently in a cell. She felt nothing. Just...numb. This one incident could change the way her future went. Forget the contest. Everything it meant paled in comparison to her problems in the future. She shook her head and curled up on the metal cot. Everything was still a blur, and she couldn't quite come to terms with what happened. Her eyelids shut slowly, exhaustion overcoming her fear and worry.

Maria's eyes flicked open at the sound of a lock clicking. She stared into the faces of her parents. The disapproving look stabbed at her heart and stomach. She'd never gotten that look before. They kept asking her questions.

"What made you do it? Why didn't you just turn away?" She didn't answer any of them. She still felt numb and exhausted. They were walking out the front door, and that's when the tears came. Everything became real. Maria shoved her face in her hands and could only manage one sentence. "I'm sorry."


The next day, Maria woke up considerably calmer. She understood what she had done had consequences. She was eating breakfast at the table in her kitchen when her mother first spoke. She came over and sat directly across from Maria.

"Maria. What were you even doing there?" Her mother's face showed concern and disappointment.

"I was getting a picture. For the contest. But I missed the deadline. I wouldn't even want to enter now. I'd feel terrible entering a photograph that was obtained illegally." Maria's face was completely serious, and she looked sorrowful, yet wiser than she was the previous day.

"I'm glad you feel this way and realize how wrong you were. Now, do you want some good news?"

Maria nodded solemnly.

"Well, the owner of the site has decided to drop charges. There is no fee, and you don't have to actually go to jail. However, there is now a black mark on your record. You've been arrested. That's not good. Maria, what have you learned? Will you ever do this again?"

She shook her head violently. "No. No way. I'm going to control my impulsiveness and be calmer."

Her mother nodded and gave her a hug. "I'm glad you're okay. Oh, you realize you're not going anywhere for, like, forever, right? And you understand that if I ever catch you doing something like this you'll be disowned?"

"You will NOT have to worry about that, Mom. I'm never taking a risk like that again."

A few days later, Maria sat in her bedroom. She went to her computer and pulled up the contest page, where the winner had just been posted. Maria sighed a heavy sigh when the almost smirking face of Thea's icon appeared under the prize categories.

"Guys, this is going to haunt me for years." She spoke over her shoulder to her pet sugar gliders.

An email alert came through, and another sigh escaped Maria as she saw the subject line and who sent it.

Thea K. <>

Subject: Winners can't be torn from their thrones, nor losers from their stools


Hey Maria!

Did you see the contest page today? Ha. No surprise there. I think we all knew "deep" inside that you would lose, and I would win. I looked through, and you didn't even rank top thirty! Yeah, your pictures are definitely the best around.

-Thea K (The winner)

Maria turned away from her computer and pulled one of her sugar gliders out of his cage.

"Next year." She sighed for the third time in the past ten minutes. "I'll beat her next year. And this time, I'll do it the RIGHT way."

Cover Image Credit:

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9 Reasons Crocs Are The Only Shoes You Need

Crocs have holes so your swag can breathe.

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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From One Nerd To Another

My contemplation of the complexities between different forms of art.


Aside from reading Guy Harrison's guide to eliminating scientific ignorance called, "At Least Know This: Essential Science to Enhance Your Life" and, "The Breakthrough: Immunotherapy and the Race to Cure Cancer" by Charles Graeber, an informative and emotional historical account explaining the potential use of our own immune systems to cure cancer, I read articles and worked on my own writing in order to keep learning while enjoying my winter break back in December. I also took a trip to the Guggenheim Museum.

I wish I was artistic. Generally, I walk through museums in awe of what artists can do. The colors and dainty details simultaneously inspire me and remind me of what little talent I posses holding a paintbrush. Walking through the Guggenheim was no exception. Most of the pieces are done by Hilma af Klint, a 20th-century Swedish artist expressing her beliefs and curiosity about the universe through her abstract painting. I was mostly at the exhibit to appease my mom (a K - 8th-grade art teacher), but as we continued to look at each piece and read their descriptions, I slowly began to appreciate them and their underlying meanings.

I like writing that integrates symbols, double meanings, and metaphors into its message because I think that the best works of art are the ones that have to be sought after. If the writer simply tells you exactly what they were thinking and how their words should be interpreted, there's no room for imagination. An unpopular opinion in high school was that reading "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne was fun. Well, I thought it was. At the beginning of the book, there's a scene where Hawthorne describes a wild rosebush that sits just outside of the community prison. As you read, you are free to decide whether it's an image of morality, the last taste of freedom and natural beauty for criminals walking toward their doom, or a symbol of the relationship between the Puritans with their prison-like expectations and Hester, the main character, who blossoms into herself throughout the novel. Whichever one you think it is doesn't matter, the point is that the rosebush can symbolize whatever you want it to. It's the same with paintings - they can be interpreted however you want them to be.

As we walked through the building, its spiral design leading us further and further upwards, we were able to catch glimpses of af Klint's life through the strokes of her brush. My favorite of her collections was one titled, "Evolution." As a science nerd myself, the idea that the story of our existence was being incorporated into art intrigued me. One piece represented the eras of geological time through her use of spirals and snails colored abstractly. She clued you into the story she was telling by using different colors and tones to represent different periods. It felt like reading "The Scarlet Letter" and my biology textbook at the same time. Maybe that sounds like the worst thing ever, but to me it was heaven. Art isn't just art and science isn't just science. Aspects of different studies coexist and join together to form something amazing that will speak to even the most untalented patron walking through the museum halls.

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