"His &Hers" 

Martha Flores

1st Place

I remember the first time I saw Him.

 

I was paying absolutely no attention to who was entering the building because of my new friends. I had to make sure I didn’t lose them this early in the semester. Making friends was never difficult for me, but my newfound anxiety told me it was. We were laughing at whatever freshman college girls laugh at. We were most likely making fun of other girls. Walking down the carpeted hall and towards the front exit I made sure to be leading the way, both establishing leadership and being kind enough to hold the door open, but I stopped to watch something. It was two boys, they walked almost in sync. Their bodies were glistening in sweat and they were talking to each other. Naturally, I was drawn to the darker skinned boy first; Mexicans and their race pride. His nearly black hair fluttered over his eyes which were smiling alongside his friends’. He was lean, his muscles stretching as he walked. His skin was dark like burnt hot chocolate, it made me despise my own latte colored skin. The most important part of anyone’s appearance is their smile, and his seemed like it could radiate for thousands of miles. His eyes squeezed together as he laughed at something his friend said. He looked at him with all the compassion in the world. Somehow, I had let all the other girls walk ahead of me and I watched as the boy opened, and held the door open for us. We flooded through the door and I was inches away from his face, but he was looking away. Why? My friends continued in their own world, and I in mine. I looked back at him to catch my last view as he let the door close and we exchanged a glance, then he turned to his friend, who was looking at me.

 

I remember the first time I saw Her.

 

Walking back from soccer practice that day was unbelievably pleasant. I felt this way because I was with my new friend, but I mean, he had to be my friend because he was my roommate. He was my height but larger in a muscular sense. His hair was much shorter than mine but just as dark. His skin complimented mine, he looked like a slightly tanned Spaniard who acted spontaneously but whose eyes always had a sense of wonder and direction. We walked closer to the building and I looked at him as he spoke to me about who knows what. His hair wasn’t fluttering like mine, it was short and thick, but it moved like strong tree branches in the wind, showing equal resistance and ease. His large, muscular arms stretched his sleeveless shirt, it was then that I decided that they weren’t too big, like a juiced-up athlete, but just the right size for his body and ego. My favorite thing about him was his chin. I watched it move up and down as he talked about soccer and girls, it was smooth up until his blemished cheeks. He must have said something funny because he began to smile and that was my second favorite thing about him. When my roommate smiled it was like his eyes and mouth were experiencing so much joy that it was impossible to keep it from showing. His contagious happiness, for whatever reason, touched me as always and I began to laugh. I heard other laughter coming from within the building. Knowing they would be looking at my roommate I held the door open before they could reach it and looked away. After they thanked me and continued off in their own world I caught a glance from the girl who exited last. She was looking at me? My roommate’s silence called my attention and I broke my gaze with the girl. He was looking at her.

"Oakwood"

Rowdy Beckmeyer

2nd Place

I woke up this morning in quite a strange place. Not strange as in somewhere

that seems odd, but as in somewhere I don't recall having a reason for being. This mysterious place that I don’t remember going to happens to be a small hotel room. "Where am I? Why am I here?" I thought to myself as I walked to the window to peer out. What I saw when I looked out was a beautiful sunny day over the downtown of some seemingly small town. There was what you'd expect: a town hall, police station, offices, a few stores, a diner. But something was missing. "What could it be..." I wondered, "That's it!" The town was completely quiet! There wasn't the sound of people walking, car engines running, or even birds chirping.

            I decided I needed to get to the bottom of this, so I walked down the quiet hallway, down a flight of stairs, and into the empty lobby of the hotel. I approached the front desk "Hello?" No answer. "Hey!" I called to the back as I rang the bell on the front desk. This went on for about five minutes before I decided to give up. "Maybe they're caught up with something important." I figured I'd go get some breakfast and try again later.

            I made my way down the sidewalk of this seemingly empty city to the diner on the corner. I made my way in and at least this time I was greeted by something other than silence. There was a jukebox in the corner playing, but the rest of the room was empty with chairs, tables, and barstools perfectly set up. "Hey! You've got a customer here!" I yelled to the kitchen leaning over the bar. "Hey! There's a hungry customer up here!" Still no answer, so I made my way behind the bar and walked over to the coffee maker. "I guess I'll just have to fix myself a cup." I thought- but wait. This is a freshly made pot of coffee, that someone had to make. I ran into the kitchen, "Hey! Who's here?! I know there's got to be someone here! There's a freshly made cup of coffee and-" I looked down now seeing the freshly prepared food.

            There must be someone here. It just doesn't make sense. There's food and coffee made, the diners been set up, and there's even a jukebox playing. I walked out of the kitchen more perplexed than before only having gained the strange feeling of being watched.

             I walked out of the diner, onto the sidewalk and glared around the middle of this strange town, trying to come up with answers- "BRINGGGG!!" My thought was interrupted by the sound of a pay phone that I quickly ran to and picked up. "Hello? Hello?" I was answered with silence. I put the phone back and quickly fumbled for a quarter to put in and at least try to speak with an operator. " Hello? Operator I-" " This is a recording. To-" I slammed the phone back onto the holder. There was a phone book on the shelf of the phone booth, and I began to look through it desperately trying to find someone to talk to. There were lists full of names but no numbers, no addresses, nothing. I threw the book on the ground of the booth and turned to leave. "Wait, I don’t remember shutting the door..." I tried to open it, but it wouldn’t budge. "This town has a great sense of humor," I sarcastically said while I tried to pry the door open. I managed to get it just open enough to fit through.

             I ran to the police station, now frantic, feeling not only like I'm being watched, but almost terrorized. When I ran into the police station I was met with a familiar but hated sight- emptiness. I walked behind the front desk and to the police radio. "Calling all cars, calling all cars, there's got to be someone out there." That's when I noticed something that shook me to the core- a cigar in the ashtray, still smoking. I picked it up looking around trying to think of where the user would be. I then heard the sound of trickling water. I followed it to the jail cells in the other room, and then to the cell in the back. I opened the cell door and walked to the sink, which had a razor and a brush, both covered in shaving cream. "This doesn't make any sense, the door of the phone booth closing, the half-smoked cigar, the evidence of someone shaving, and everything at the diner earlier-" "creeeeek!" I turned around to find the sound of a closing cell door had interrupted my thought. I managed to stop it right before it shut, and quickly made my way out of the cell room.

             I grabbed a key to the police cruiser outside and ran to it. I drove to the only road that looked like it left the city. Upon leaving I was farewelled by a sign which said, "Now leaving Oakwood." I was left without any answers of why I was there, why the whole city was empty, or better yet, any memory of who I was. I drove for a while until I saw a sign approaching that said, "Welcome to Oakwood." How can it be? I never turned around and the road was almost completely straight the whole time. I drove back into the same desolate little town I started in. I kept trying to drive out but each time I left the road looked a little different, but still took me back to Oakwood. I guess I'm stuck here, alone in Oakwood.

"My Old Best Friend"

Cailee Morgan

3rd Place

Going through old photos the other day and I found an old picture stuck together by

other pictures of you. In this photo, you are riding in the passenger seat throwing up the peace sign and showing off that beautiful smile everyone knows and loves. That smile that can light up a dark or sad room. You were my best friend and I loved everything about you. You just finished your last day of high school and I couldn’t be prouder of you. I was taking you to your favorite place to eat. I miss driving you everywhere and listening to you tell me everything and anything because you trusted me. I miss laughing with you every day and complaining that our abs hurt from laughing so much. You were my best friend; you were my everything and I still can’t believe we act like we had nothing. We did everything together and I came to you first about anything because I trusted you with my life and you trusted me with yours. You were the only person I ever felt comfortable crying in front of and you knew that. You knew every little detail about me and I remember you’d always tell me, “Cailee, I know you

like the back of my hand.” You definitely did and I could never argue with you about that. I remember you being there for every event in my life to my hamster passing away to being at my grandfather’s funeral. You always knew how to make me feel better and I loved that about you. I wish I could go back to this photo and do everything differently that day and not lie to you and lose your trust. But I lost your trust and I lost you and I’d do anything to have you back. But you always told me everything happens for a reason and I don’t think I’ll ever know the reason for losing my best friend. But believe it or not I still trust you and look up to you and I apologize for everything. But I know no apology will fix this amazing friendship we had but thank you for everything. In this photo, we were not only friends but we were best friends.