A Distant Memory
by Zachary Purcell
1st place fiction
She was the most beautiful thing that I had ever seen. Her bright, golden blond hair was illuminated by the evening sun and blew gently in the cool fall breeze. She had on a dark pink jacket with fur around the cuffs on her wrists, dark blue jeans that looked well worn, and white vans that had marker and paint all over them. She was leaning against the back of a cement bench that had been recently installed and looked at total peace with her eyes closed. I stopped in my tracks mesmerized by her image and simply watched her for what felt like an eternity of bliss. I came back to my senses when her eyes fluttered open and met mine. Her eyes sparkled like the last bit of sunlight piercing the depths of deep waters. She smiled at me wistfully as her dark blue eyes met mine. She tilted her head slightly to the side and motioned for me to sit down next to her on the bench. Before I knew it, my body was moving on its own, and I stood in front of the bench.
“Won’t you sit next to me?” she said with a voice as gentle as silk. The words brought me back to reality with a start.
“Are you sure?” I responded
“Of course, silly,” she said playfully and with a slight smile.
I sat down on the cool cement bench next to her close enough to feel her body heat radiate off. Once I had touched the cold stone, she leaned her head against my shoulder. I felt a jolt go up my spine once her long blond hair touched my shoulder unexpectedly.
“you don’t remember me, do you?” she said with sadness in her voice.
“I’m sorry, but I don’t,” I responded remorsefully
“It’s ok, I’ve changed a lot after all, but please let this moment last just a little bit longer because even if you have forgotten me, you have never left my mind.”
Those words left me breathless as we sat there with the cool fall breeze flowing over us. I closed my eyes to get my breath back and managed to succeed after a few minutes. As we sat there, I could feel her head go up and down to the rhythm of her breathing and it put me in a relaxed state of mind. I felt myself drift off to sleep as I pondered on who this beautiful person next to me was and why I couldn’t remember her. When I next opened my eyes, we were leaned up against each other and the last rays of sunlight were disappearing under the horizon. She rubbed her eyes and looked up at me with a sad smile on her face.
“Thank you, thank you very much for this,” She said in a melancholic voice. “It looks like I must go now,” she said looking at her watch. I didn’t know why at the time, but those seven words caused a deep pain in my heart that left me completely breathless. The seven simple words hit me like a train and left me feeling a physical pain that caused me to put my head into my hands as she got up. Through my fingers I saw that she had not yet taken a step in those paint stained vans. I struggled to catch my breath as I looked up and saw her silhouette against the last fading rays of sunlight. Then like an angel bestowing its blessing upon me, a single name popped into my head and suddenly all my pain was gone. I quickly got up and embraced her so hard that I could feel her pulse and breath up and down my body.
“Love really is fickle when it calls, but even so if there is one thing that I know for sure, it is that you are my forever fall,” I whispered in her ear. Upon hearing the words that we had exchanged when she had first exited my life on a fateful day many years ago, she immediately became relaxed and breathed out heavily. She turned her head to meet mine and with a smile the size of Texas and with tears running down her rosy cheeks said, “You remember.”
“I don’t know how I could’ve forgotten the girl who opened my eyes to the beauty of life and became the beauty in my life.” I took a deep breath and said to her “welcome home.”
“Choose me?...Next time.”
by Nicole Ceniceros
1st place nonfiction
It feels like an eternity since you and I said goodbye, but that’s how I would describe it. If the thought ever crossed your mind, you would say it's been about a month and a half, and by the snap of your fingers, you would be on with the rest of your day. I’m writing this because many say your thoughts need to be written down to get some type of closure; a piece of me is writing this for it is moments like these that need to be shared with individuals who are going through the same overbearing emotions as I.
As the days began abruptly with the same warm glow from the sun city, I awake and ponder which mask should I wear today? Should I be the girl who plasters a smile and fools everyone into thinking she has the perfect life or be the girl that you fell for—honest in all its nature. The funny part is that I know which one I should choose if I ever want to see you again, but I fall into the trap again and continue being the girl that everyone can like—except you. I spend sleepless nights wondering if I lost completely myself when you decided to walk through those doors, further away from me. As hard as I try to fault you for every mistake made in our “relationship,” I know better to realize that it is I who is to blame for us always ending in disputes and slamming doors shut. I’m obviously not a love guru—if you couldn't tell already—but what I can say is your first heartbreak is unexplainable. There aren't enough words in a dictionary to pinpoint what emotions you should feel, and the sad truth is no one ever really knows how long it’ll take for you to be fully over it. I’m sorry if you thought this would have the answers to those questions, but I don’t think anyone will ever know those answers, and I know for certain that I will always search for them. Even if advice helps, nothing really cures heartbreak; it takes time.
If someone were to ask me what you meant to me this past December, I would say, you were the reason I would spend hours turning my room upside down looking for the perfect outfit to impress you with. You were the reason I was bubbly and positive; You were the best thing to ever happen to me in this period of my life, and I know deep down in your heart you felt the same. So honestly it shouldn’t shock you when I say I don’t know what happened. I don’t know why you chose her—your life, virtue, and screwed up commitment issues—instead of me, but I presume there are hardly ever answers for situations like these. It took you five years for you to express and prove to me that you cared about me—your sweet, witty, sassy girl—and in a matter of five seconds, you took three (maybe four) long strides out the door with no glance back. Let it be known that you truly made me the happiest girl alive. That happiness will not be felt for a while because you genuinely broke my heart , and I keep trying to gain my pride and worth again, yet it’s as if someone keeps pulling it further from me. I want so desperately to be the girl before this happened; she was bold, daring, and carelessly thought about other opinions of her.
Even if I find myself thinking less of you daily, I choose to notion that I’m still not over you. And I will continue to ask myself how and why? I have a confession...I still look you up on Instagram to see what’s happening in your life. I know it's pathetic even more so that I hope you’ll call or text me, but who am I kidding? It's been almost two months. You still own my heart, and I’m learning to live with this progression, yet loving you is inescapable.
He was my high school sweetheart for all four years and one semester of college, and as much as it pains me to come to this conclusion—that chapter of my life is closed. I don’t regret falling for him; he was exactly what I wanted, a true gentleman that made me laugh, who held me when I needed to be comforted, and put up with my banter when I was feeling stubborn. Truth be told, your first is your first for a number of reasons. Your first relationship will teach you many things, it will show you what kind of environment you are seeking, how to open up, and how you can mature. However, I did lose the only person who ever understood what was happening in my life, my rock. On week three, I began to rationalize that I was not only solemn but infuriated with you. Why did you abandon me just like my father had done on my graduation night. You knew how hard it was for me to finally trust you—a guy who held my heart—knowing that my father had done terrible things to me and left me for his second family. The worst part is for you, I will always forgive you, and I forgave you then but you don’t know that.
I guess my conclusion is that relationships are never supposed to be forever, however, they do get better; You do get better. My only take away from this, whatever this is, is that you find the strength to carry on and pursue your aspirations in life. It’s okay to reminisce on the shared memories, the laughs, or even the stupid couple pictures saved on your cloud. Don’t forget that you will learn to love again, but before you love someone else, you need to know that you will recover and learn to love yourself again.