Winter Writing Contest Winner
April 18, 2019
This Week We feature the first 2 Honorable Mentions in the contest
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.
by Sequoya Henry
My head tilts up at an angle I don't recognize
Can't shut my eyes,
Painted glossy and wide
And all I want is to go back to sleep.
Strings allow him to pull me in
Attached to my hands, feet, and top of my head
Not sure who is in charge but their jerks leave me with a headache.
I get up to walk,
Not so much walking as floating
Because he is keeping my heels from feeling the ground
And all I want is to feel grounded.
But I can't say anything through my painted mouth, permanently in an upturned smile
Can't turn to see the Being pulling my strings
Can't grab a pair of scissors to cut my soul loose
Or a jar of paint to give my eyelids rest
Soon it gets normal, even easy
to not feel my cheeks when I smile
Not feel my feet when I float,
And I learned to love the hands that move mine
So, I don't notice when my strings fray then break one by one
Until I get up to walk and my body strikes the floor
by Eric Delgado
Aapo ran his hand through the warm and prickly sand of the beach. The waves of the ocean glistened and boomed their roaring song. Aapo was a young adolescent, he was tal0l and his face was similar to his father's, trimmed and made of stone. This was an exuberant time for him, for he was soon to be the newfound king of Tulum. Power was the obsidian of social prestige; precious, moldable, and incredibly rare. He thought about how he would be the greatest king Tulum has ever feasted eyes upon. He stood up slowly and walked along the shore and the base of the cliff, and that's when Aapo first set eyes on the inevitable destiny of Yucatan. There lied a ship on the shore. Out crawled peculiar men who evidently were terrified, for their skin was leached of its color, resembling the shade of the insides of a pitaya. Aapo was a foolish and improvident child back then, so he rescued the mysterious men and brought them to his father. That afternoon, Aapo lit the torch of destiny with the flame of incompetence.
Aapo's father sat on his throne, with a glare that could shatter the sturdiest of pottery. Taavi, the current king of Tulum, wasn't as thrilled as his son when Aapo presented the white men to him. "What have you brought me boy," he interrogated as he rolled a chiseled bead from his necklace between his thumb and index finger.
"Father," he began, "pardon the intrusion, but I have found these pale men upon our shores, and I have brought them to you so that you may decide what to do with them." The men then started to chatter excitedly as they gazed upon Taavi's throne room. The walls, ceiling, and floor were constructed entirely of stone. The floor had roots and weeds escaping through the cracks, like how peasants rush through temple doors, hoping for salvation. The only light in the room came from the torches hung on the walls and the warm dark orange sunlight that emitted from the entrance. Taavi raised a black and thick brow.
"What are they saying?" Taavi asked.
"I do not know," replied Aapo, "they seem to come from a foreign land. They came here in what appears to be a great canoe and they speak a tongue similar to that of a crazed bird". Taavi then called his interpreter Zan into the room. Zan then shuffled into the room next to Taavi's throne. He was an old man, and one of the wisest elders of the city. His posture was somewhat hunched like the depressed maize plants that don't survive the winter.
"How can I be of service, my king?" he asked.
"Can you understand what these ghouls are saying?" Taavi pointed to the men standing behind Aapo. Aapo elbowed the man behind him and made a talking motion with his mouth. It was like trying to communicate with a wall: seamlessly pointless. The man comprehended the message and began to speak. Zan listened, he squinted his aged eyes and made scowling expression, adding to the already clean cut wrinkles in his face.
"Oh, I do believe I understand what he's saying," the frail man claimed, "he's saying that he and his companions are explorers from a distant land. He says that they come to make an offer". Taavi frowned immediately and glanced at the men, then looked back at Zan.
"What kind of offer" he growled slowly. Taavi had immediately grown suspicious of the men the instant they entered his compound. He could almost hear Kinih Ahous, the sun god himself, ordering him to kill these men, for the sun shined the color of destruction, red, upon them. Zan also felt the sapling of suspicion start to sprout.
"They say that we have been", Zan paused, "blessed. They say that they will bring great fortune and happiness to our land if we join their kingdom and let them 'educate' us". Taavi chuckled sarcastically. Aapo interrupted him before he could speak his mind.
"What an incredibly generous offer!", exclaimed Aapo excitedly, "we can't turn this down father! We'd be no smarter than the deer we hunt if we say no! Wouldn't you agree?".
"Hush boy!", shouted Taavi, "we agree on one thing, you are as foolish as the deer, perhaps even dumber, however even a fool could see trickery like this!".
"Did I stutter?!". Everyone in the room was silent for what seemed to be an eternity. Then Taavi laid back in his throne and rubbed his face with a scaly palm. "Zan, take these men to the high priest and see what he has to say about them, we will decide their fate at a later time". Zan complied and left with the men immediately. Taavi and Aapo were left in the silence of Yum Cimil, the god of death. The king then stood up and proceeded to walk towards the entrance of the room. Each step he took seemed to shake the Earth more than the last. Taavi stopped next to his son, but he didn't meet his gaze. "Come Aapo", he remarked. The two walked through the door and sat at the top of the cracked and uneven stairs. They sat for a prolonged period of time, and they watched Tulum.
"Father", Aapo's words were assertive, "these men, don't you think that-well shouldn't we at least hear out the rest of the conditions of their proposal?". He then looked at Taavi for a brief moment, then quickly turned his head back towards Tulum.
"Do not question me boy" snapped the man. The king grunted and his face began to relax. "We cannot be certain that these wanderers can be trusted".
"But we can! Don't you see?" shouted Aapo, "I know this, because there has already been a pale man like the ones, we saw in another city years ago and he ent up being a great ally!".
"But these men aren't like him, foolish child!", boomed Taavi, "think about our own city, our own people, some are kind and generous, others are evil and decide to steal and kill. These men are no different. If we turn our back, they will stab us with the sharpest blade of all: betrayal". Aapo looked down at his feet and clenched his hands together. The sun by now has gone to sleep coated the field of Tulum in the seeds of darkness, with the exception of the torches scattered across the ground. "Aapo," Taavi explained, "Tulum is happy the way it is. The men attend their fields with their sons and the women keep the huts in check. The gods have protected us from misfortune for as long as anyone could remember. The wellbeing of our people is more important than trying to befriend outsiders, understood?"
"Good." Just then, Zan had returned from turning over the group to the high priest. Taavi didn't turn to look at him and Aapo looked back up and let out a heavy sigh. "I'm listening." said Taavi. Zan cleared his throat and began.
"The high priest said that these men are, ahem, 'unique', and he can't confirm with the gods whether or not these men are speaking the truth." Zan seemed uncertain of the holy man's word, for he too had the same mindset as his king. However, that was all Aapo needed to hear.
"See father!" he exclaimed, "even the high priest can't confirm your suspicions!".
"Shout again and I will make sure you don't leave here unscathed." Taavi barked.
"Come on father, with no word confirming a negative future and our level of awareness, we'd know the instant the white man tries to fool us,...
"What could possibly go wrong?"