The winners of the first annual Tracy Hurley Memorial Writing Contest were announced at our Dec. 1 meeting. Part of the prize package is publication on our blog. Below are the high school winners. The middle school winners will be published throughout the rest of the week, so be sure to check back!
Do You Believe In Angels?
by Carl Thomas, Jr., 15
Citronelle High School
“Good Morning Class!”, said Ms. Williams as she adjusted herself in her maroon rolling chair. “Good Morning Ms. Williams” said the class unenthusiastically. Her “Roll Tide” cup full of hot Folgers released an aroma across the classroom. No one ever likes the first class of the day. This would especially be the case today on the count of the project we would have to do. The assignment was on the hard-hitting topic, Religion. “So how many people can tell me what religion is?”, she asked. Not one person raised their hand. “No one?”. As I looked to my right, I noticed Mark, wide-receiver on the football team raise his hand slowly. “Umm, Jesus?”. “Not exactly.” replied Ms. Williams. “Anybody else?”. Then another hand went up. It was a girl named Lisa that sat two rows behind me. “It’s who you believe in.”, she said confidently. “That’s better!”, said Ms. Williams. “Write this down: Religion is a belief system based on moral values that intends to give meaning to life. So with that being said, I’m pairing you guys up. Your objective is to go to your partner’s house and explore their culture, and religious beliefs.” Everyone turned quickly to their friend and gave a look of sympathy as if saying, “I’m sorry if we don’t get paired.” She paired students left and right, until finally she got to me. “Ok, you are paired with Jacob.” ” Who is Jacob?”, I said under my breath. I turned around to the back where I noticed a kid with a black hoodie on. I never noticed him before. “Move to your partner, and let’s begin!”, said Ms. Williams. “Hi, nice to meet you!”, I said with a friendly smile. He didn’t reply. He waved his hand with a half smirk and stuck the string of the hoodie into his mouth. I began to try and joke with him to break the ice. “Ms. Williams, huh. Can you say crazy!” I made a gesture as if I was drinking to add the effect to my joke. He continued to suck on the jacket string and gave a slight nod. “We have to meet up at each others house. We can meet up at mine first. Here’s my address.” I gave him address and he folded and slid it into a secret pocket in his jacket. Suddenly, the bell rang and it was time for 2nd Period.
“Hey!” said my friend, Kirk. “Hello!”, I replied. “So who did you get paired up with?”, he asked eagerly. “I got paired up with Jacob.” He let out an audible gasp. “What’s wrong?”, I asked in concern. “That’s bad news!” he said. “What do you mean?” “I mean that kid has a bad reputation. He hangs out with freaks, he wears all black, I mean he’s just not good news!”, Kirk said in all seriousness. He took a napkin and wiped the Sloppy Joe from his mouth, then took a long sip of his iridescent Strawberry milk. “Don’t make judgements already. I don’t know him yet, but I’m pretty sure he’s an okay guy.”, as defended Jacob. “Yeah, whatever. Be careful okay man?” “Sure.”, I replied. “I’ll catch up with you later.” “Ok”, I said quickly, walking out the lunchroom doors.
Later on that day, I began to reflect on what Kirk said. He couldn’t be as bad as he described him. Maybe he was exaggerating. “Knock, knock”. “Somebody is at the door!” I yelled out to Mom. “Exactly, go get it” she replied boldly. “Ugh, fine.”, I said. I looked throw the peephole and saw a black bicycle. I then unlocked the door and opened it. “Oh, hey Jacob! You ready to do this?”, I said. He nodded. “Follow Me.” We walked to the Family Room and he sat in the first chair he saw. He picked up his pencil and tablet and gestured that he was ready. “Well, I’m a middle-class boy from a Christian family.” I said proudly. He began writing and I saw something come from him that almost looked like a snicker. His teeth were visible for a second. I ignored it. I rambled on until he gestured to me that he had more than enough. “Awesome! We made good progress!”, I said with a big, fake smile. “Your place tomorrow, right?”. He nodded and slipped me a sheet of crumpled paper. “See you tomorrow!”. He hopped onto his bike and rapidly left my driveway. “Who was that?” said Mom. “Just some kid I have to do a project with.”, I told her with a shrug. “He was smelly!” said my little brother. “Be nice!” said Mom with a angry snarl.
The next day at school, Kirk approached me. ” How was your day with the Grim Reaper?” “Ha ha ha” I laughed fakely. “He’s just a little soft spoken, that’s all. I’m pretty sure he’ll talk tomorrow.” “Good Luck with that!” said Kirk, satirically. After school, I pulled out the crumpled sheet of paper and looked at the address. “Hey mom, drop me off here for one hour, then comeback and pick me up.” “Ok.” she replied. “Here we are. Are you sure this is it?”, Mom said with doubt. I paused my mp3 and glared at a homeless shelter. “I’m not sure. Does he live here?” I opened up the door of the car, and walked out. I walked in and saw Jacob sitting in a chair, watching television. “Hey, I hope you remembered about the project.” He nodded and I sat down across from him. “Tell me about yourself”, I started off. He said nothing. “Don’t say too much at one now!”, I joked. After a humble 10 minutes, I couldn’t do it anymore. “Ok, I’ve waited long enough. I refuse to fail this project because of you! Tell me something!” I pleaded. Then his lips parted. “I don’t believe in God.”, he said in a raspy voice. My heart sank. “What do you mean you don’t believe in God?” Its God!” I said in awe. “I just don’t. When I was 4, I was taken away by the law. My parents weren’t fit for the task. I bounced from adoption agency, to adoption agency, and was constantly turned down. Where was God then? I don’t believe in God, Angels, or any of that nonsense!” I looked at him for a few seconds. “Aren’t you living? Don’t you have food? Don’t you have shelter?” I replied looking him in his eyes. “He did it for you!” I exclaimed. “Whatever!”, I said. I began to storm out then I thought, “I need something for my research.” “Well who do you believe in?” I asked confused. “No one.” he said simply. “Ok. That’s all I need. However, one day, you’ll see his mercy!”. As I stormed out I threw him my Bible I got as a gift a few years ago.
The next few days at school, I noticed Jacob hadn’t been arriving to school. “How is the project going?” asked Kirk. “Not that well. He doesn’t believe in God! Can you believe that?”, I asked. “Yeah that’s something, but you just can’t dictate what other people believe in you know.” said Kirk. That is a good point, but I didn’t want to admit. “I feel like he’s in denial. He’s blaming God for everything, and that’s is what angers me. Anyway, how is yours going?”, I asked. “Pretty darn good, now that you asked! Tawny is very interesting.”, he replied grinning like a mischevious child with a box of matches. “The project isn’t on if you can get her number or not, you know”, I teased. “Good one!”, he agreed. When I got home, I began to wonder again. He has had a rough life. I wonder why he’s so timid. I just don’t understand. This weekend, I’m going to that shelter to give him a piece of my mind!
“Excuse me ma’am, where is Jacob?”, I asked the woman in charge of the shelter. “You didn’t hear Sweet Pea?” she replied. “He had plenty of pain in his side so they had to rush an ambulance here for him.” “Is he ok?”, I asked with much concern. “I don’t know. You can go check on him. He’s at Meadow Lane on Brooks Street. “Thank You!” I replied and rushed out.
When I made it to the hospital, I got information on the floor and room. When I walked in the first thing I noticed was Jacob sleep in a hospital gown. I guess me walking in disturbed him. “Hey.”, he said grimly. “Hi”, I replied. “How do you feel?”. “I’m in pain. They said it was tumor. I never had surgery before. I’m scared.”, he confessed to me. “It’s ok.”, I said. I tried to comfort him until the sun went down. I had to leave because mom was looking to pick me up around this time. “You’ll be okay.” As I turned the doorknob, I heard something strange. It sounded almost like praying. I turned to see Jacob with his eyes closing praying. My mouth trembled. I couldn’t believe it. I walked out with disbelief. My whole ride home I had a smile from ear to ear, although, I was still concerned for Jacob.
“Alright class, time to present!” said Ms. Williams. One by one, each student presented with their partner. It was my turn to go now. “Where is your parter?”, she questioned. “He’s umm,-” “Right here!”, said Jacob loudly. In walked Jacob with a bright colored shirt on and his hair styled neatly and combed. I couldn’t recognize who it was at first. “Great. You may now present.” “There was a time I didn’t believe in anything.”, started Jacob. “I blamed God for my problems and I had no faith. When I laid in the hospital, I read a Bible a good friend handed me. The night before my surgery, I even prayed. I have no more pain, no more sorrow, and I’m someone’s son now. I looked at Jacob with tears welling in my eyes. “Do You Believe In Angels?” I asked Jacob. “Yeah. Yeah I do.”, he said happily.
by Victoria Taylor, 16
Murphy High School
The letter, the one she had put off for two weeks was over due and couldn’t be pt off any longer. How she wished it was a letter about love and happiness, about how she wanted to spend the rest of her life with him. However, it was a letter of sad and miserable words of how she sold her soul to the devil. This letter would tell a story of love, sadness, and happy endings. Where to begin she did not know so the night started off with a blank piece of paper and a troubled soul.
The memories fled back all at once into her already confused head. As they walked through the mall one summer day just wasting time he stopped her in a store. He said, “wait here” and vanished immediately leaving her stranded in the perfume section of the store. Within minutes he was back empty handed; she was confused and he saw it in her face and he just smiled that charming, sly smile and said it was a surprise. As they left the store he took a small box out of his pocket and gave it to her; she opened it and her eyes widened as if it was a treasure chest filled with gold. It was a silver bracelet, simple but elegant, she secretly loved it but acted as though she was mad at him for spending the money. Although he never told her how much it cost she was smart and just looked it up later that night.
The memory soon left her thoughts as she looked around the room at all the things laying about and hanging on her walls. She noticed an envelope wedged in between two books on her bookshelf; she pulled it out, opened it up, and pulled out the letter that was given to her two years ago. She remembered the night he cut it out of his little book with his knife and put it into her hand with gentle care. He hugged her tightly and whispered into her ear to not read it until he had left. As he drove off down the road she rushed into her house, all the way to her room and shut the door carefully making sure to not wake anyone. Her eager eyes scanned the page with speed as she gently turned the page worried that the thin piece of paper might disintegrate before she could finish the entire letter. She read over it twice, absorbing ever word as it engraved itself into her head. She read the last words and the the closing “love always”; she smiled at herself looking back at the letter now.
Even then, two years ago, she knew it would come to this no matter how deeply in love they became. she paced her room for several hours trying to make sense of how things had turned into what they are now. There was one thing she had to do before time was up, she looked at the clock, 7:12, there was still time. She drove to the mall and walked to the same store she had been in two years ago and told the lady at the jewelry counter to engrave two words onto a little, simple silver bracelet she wore. It was completed in two hours when she went to pick it up, she stared at it with a feeling in which she did not know how to describe. She then drove out to his house that night and let herself in, she was greeted by their dog with kisses all over her face.
The finished letter was placed on his pillow, she knew it contained all the information he needed to know in five simple words. She then went home and packed her belongings and went to the airport where she handed the lady a ticket she had received two weeks earlier in the mail. She boarded the plane and fell asleep with her hand covering the newly engraved bracelet, her last and only memory of him. She dreamt of how things would have turned out differently if she would’ve just stayed at his house with their dog. She woke as the plane was landing, got her bag that she had brought with her, and got off the plane. As she go off the plane and into the airport she looked up into the eyes of the man she was soon to be married to and smiled. With joy filling her heart…