Memories This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

July 20, 2012
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Memories are an important part of every person. They can change a person in many ways, either to the best, or to the worst. Memories shape the person, using big, rough hands to squeeze, roll, mold into the right figure, and connect bits and pieces of a person. Without memories, we would forever remain as babies, unable to speak and perform simple actions, such as walking.

Without my memories, I know that I would not be who I am today. One of my memories has given me something special. It has given me a passion, a hobby, something that I love.

My love for writing still burns brightly in my heart. Though sometimes it may flicker, and the flame may die down. Sometimes, all that remains of the fire will be a few smoldering coals. But I always add more fuel, to bring my fire, along with my passion for writing back to its former glory.

I still remember the heat of those ten minutes. I remember standing frozen at my desk, eyes staring straight at the television, the palms of my hands sweating. First came the photography, music and art categories. Though they were not the categories that I entered, each name called made my heart pound even harder and louder. Impatience gnawed at me, snapping its hungry jaws at my heart, causing me to fidget and bite my lip.

Finally, my category was announced. “First place winners, for the intermediate literature category, grades four through six,” called the boy on the right, a sixth grader that I had never seen before. I listened intently, hoping to hear my name, but all my efforts were in vain.

My class back then in fourth grade, was very rowdy. I could not hear a single word that the news anchors said. My cold and sweaty hands clenched into fists, the blood boiling in my veins. Could they not be quiet for just a moment? At last, the teacher came to my rescue. She glared at all the students, and silenced them with a loud, rasping, “Shhh!”

Now, I could hear what the anchors were saying. By then, I had missed the entire first place announcement. “Second place winners, intermediate literature category, grades four through six,” said the girl on the left, blond curls bouncing cheerfully. She smiling widely, but I could not bring myself to relax.

I wiped my freezing hands on the sides of my jeans, then rubbed them together, a miserable attempt at warming the pale icicles that were my fingers. The two announcers called out the names one by one, and each name seemed to take infinitely long to spread through the room before finally reaching my ears. The cauldron of hope in my heart bubbled ferociously, and for a humorous moment, I hoped that no one would hear it and mistake it for my stomach. The concoction of hope, anxiety, excitement, and many other emotions reached the boiling point just as I heard it. My name.

“Shana Ku- Kush…Kash?” The voice of the girl on the left wavered uncertainly, unsure if she had pronounced the name correctly. Her eyebrows knitted together in a frown, and her cheeks colored slightly at the mistake she knew she had made. She laughed a little and said a quiet “sorry” in a weak attempt to cover over her error. I hardly even minded that my name was mispronounced. It was there, and to me, that was all that mattered. My name was on that list of the people categorized as “second place.”

The students in the class, who, surprisingly, had stayed quiet those two minutes, began to clap. My friends broke out into wide smiles and immediately walked over to congratulate me. Even the kids that wore envious expressions on their face said a kind “Good job.” I had not won first place, but I was delighted anyway. For my first time entering in any kind of competition, a second place was more than good enough.

The short story I wrote for the competition arrived back into my hands a week later. I gazed at the bright red rectangle, which covered the first paragraph of my story and screamed “Second Place” in bold, golden letters. It was smooth and felt a lot like silk. That day I went home feeling prouder than ever, clutching the red ribbon to my chest so tightly that I bent it in half several times. That ribbon, though insignificant to many, holds a special place in my heart, and fills my mind with memories of those fateful ten minutes every time I look at it. It is my most prized possession.

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