Winter Writing Contest Winner


April 11, 2019

3rd Place:

This Week We feature the 3rd Place Winner

The Culver City Observer believes that a fundamental part of life is learning how to write. Last week we featured the first-place winner. This week we feature the 2nd place winner Andrew Oda. We will be featuring the writing of other winners in the upcoming weeks. The ASB sponsored this year's contest. The first-place winner received a $50 Amazon gift card and the 2nd and 3rd place winners received $25 Amazon gift cards.

Students were encouraged to write a piece of fiction or poetry that shows a unique perspective of the world, including what it means to interact with others with different viewpoints. We are grateful to Kathleen Rowley a NBPTS Certified English Teacher at Culver City High School.

We hope you enjoy these unique stories from our middle school students.

When The Sun Shines

by Eliana Goldstein

My family is exceptionally peculiar. Even to this day, I don't think I've ever quite understood our methods of communication, the way we exceed in dismissing one another, our bone-dry conversations -- like the dull, eye-gouging conversations you have with a stranger you just met in line at a supermarket-- the way Papa was the only one who liked intense, cutting eye contact while Mama and I tend to avert our eyes, and how we have jokes followed by no laughter and crying followed by no apologies.

For starters, Papa was a vibrant yet poignant man. He always reminded me of a monkey-- and not the cute, adorable ones that play in the trees all day-- the kind of monkey that roams the floor of the forest, claiming dominance over his turf. Again, I am not comparing Papa to an affectionate and approachable species such as the Spider Monkey or the Capuchin. On the contrary, Papa best fit the description of a ferocious Gorilla, barbaric Chimpanzee, or a savage Baboon. I could never tell if my comparison was due to the uncanny similarity of the Gorilla's battle-cry and the lively manner of speaking Papa used to dominate conversations, or the gloomy and mournful howling of a Baboon and the woeful tendencies of Papa.

I remember a chilling, rainy day when I was no more than five; I don't remember much about this day because I was five, but I do know that there was rain-- I mean a lot of rain-- like the really intense rain that soaks through your jacket and seeps through your socks. The kind of rain that forces you to spend the entirety of the day cold and numb from the merciless drops descending from the sky. The kind of rain that barricades you within in its freezing borders, denying you an ounce of sunshine. Well, I had carelessly been stepping in mud all day which angered Papa when I decided to stain our carpet with this filth as I entered the house. Papa began howling like a ferocious Gorilla and suddenly I found myself comparing him to the rain: the way it would mercilessly pound against my skin, the way it forced me into a hunt for shelter or at least some escape from its heavy stings, or the way its malicious drops made me feel like I'd wake up with bruises running up and down my cold, limp arm. Next thing I knew, Papa was sobbing the mournful cries of a baboon and he became burning hot-- not warm like the feeling that's given off by a marvelous and cozy fire-- hot like the heat of energy released when chemicals are being broken down. Yes, I think that's a fair way to describe it: Papa began melting from a solid to a liquid due to the heat given off from him breaking down because of the regret and shame that began filling his black heart. I looked up at Mama with such desperation as Papa laid on the muddy carpet cradling me in his shaky arms. Mama distracted and silent, stared out of the window with a look that I can best describe as stoic. Mama then announced that she was going for a drive, alone.

Mama is not an emotional woman or an affectionate mother, she is who you spend time with when you dread being alone but despise the idea of talking; she is a stone-like pet that listens to your venting, or silence, or argument with a reply of nothing more than her presence. She isn't the kind of mom you can talk crushes with, or go shopping with, or hear any of the parent drama from, mostly because she refuses to speak with any parents or at least any of the exciting ones. And I find it bizarre how alike she is to a butterfly: the way she gracefully flutters away from reality and the way she is still and hushed, making it hard to recognize her presence. Fun fact: I learned from an animal report I did on butterflies in the first grade that they can have many predators like snakes, or rats, or even some species of monkeys. I wonder what kind of monkey Papa was?

Out of the few encounters I have had with Mama, there is only one that has never left me. It was late August, and we were driving to our local Goodwill to pick out some new outfits for me before I entered the second grade. All of the car windows were rolled down, allowing the cool, frosty air to encompass us whole. Mama liked rolling down the windows because she enjoyed the feeling of the cold, cutting wind hitting against her skin. This puzzled me: I couldn't fathom the reason behind her denying warmth the opportunity to surround us since, she had goosebumps running all along her arms. Not only was Mama shivering and obviously cold, but she was also smiling. "Mama, why are you smiling?"

"Because driving makes me happy."

"But why does it make you happy?"

"I don't know, I guess...I ... I like getting away, but I don't know. Now, enough with the questions, you need to think about what clothes you're looking for."

"Yes Mama, sorry."

Mama has never driven the same way since the funeral. She never smiles, and when goosebumps run along her arms, she rolls up the windows and turns on the heat. And maybe that's because she finally escaped whatever it was she was driving away from.

Mama and Papa had an odd relationship, and not like the kind of odd that's seen as quirky and refreshing, but odd like when you get a puzzle of eight hundred and fifty pieces but not one pair seems to fit together. I remember when I was eight years old, Mama and Papa got in a really bad argument-- I mean a brutal and cruel argument-- and by an argument I mean, Papa bellowed his Gorilla battle-cry, claiming dominance over his turf as Mama silently cowered like a terrified butterfly. I've always wondered what Mama was thinking about: harsh, stabbing rain-- although, it would've had to of been much more intense than any of the rain I've ever experienced-- or the way the icy-cold wind pounds so harshly against her skin as she drives. Within a couple hours of relentless abuse and screaming from Papa, he laid wailing and whimpering on our worn carpet, cradling Mama's bloodied face in his shaky arms. Then, with an expression that seems the most telling of all of Mama's expressions, she turned to me with a pleading look. I, however, ignored her plead and buried my head into the stained blanket, covering our hideous couch that laid beneath it. I suddenly felt very tired under the protective shield of the blanket, my eyelids began fluttering from life to rest, and I began floating away from the shrill cries of my father and the deafening silence from Mama. The next morning was a beautiful day, I mean absolutely magnificent. Beautiful like when you see the ocean for the first time: the freeness that the water fully embodies, or the way birds and dolphins jump through the water with such exuberance as if they had just been released from all the dangers of life. I peered out the window resting above our stained couch, the joyous sun shining in my eyes, and saw Papa playing in a tree. The game of which he was playing was very unclear; nevertheless, I was able to see a strained rope raising him from the ground. I ran to Papa, excited by the sight of him playing, and demanded him to come down in an instant and hoist me atop a branch so that I could play with him. When he dismissed me with stillness, I began tugging at his legs unsure of how else to get his attention. At that moment, I burst into tears; in truth, I didn't know why I had become so anxious or why I screamed for Mama to come. All I know is that Mama rushed through the kitchen and into the backyard where Papa hung, and immediately fell to the ground. And for the first time in my life, Papa was silent and still, and Mama was weeping and shrieking, howling and roaring, sobbing and mourning, as I laid on the burning, dry grass cradling her in my shaky arms. I still wonder how the sky could have been so beautiful that day. There wasn't a single cloud in sight; it was as if overnight the harsh gusts of wind blew every sullen and miserable cloud so far across the sky that it would take years for them to hover above my head once more. Above me was nothing but blue-- not the dark and gloomy blue related to sadness or cold and freezing temperatures-- the kind of blue that is light and airy like teal, or turquoise, or the color of the freeing water that fills the massive ocean. I felt as if I had flown into a foreign land where happiness was the only spoken language, and where shelter is provided to those who yearn for an escape from the rare down-pour of rain. It was like the wide sky had thrown me into its borderless land, too far away for worries and distress to ever reach me.

How could the sky of been so beautiful and full of infinite wonder?

To access prior stories on our website please enter Winter Writing Contest in the search engine.


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