Young Writers: Well Off the Beaten Track, and Fan Letters, Too
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Each week, Young Writers Project receives several hundred submissions from students in Vermont and New Hampshire in response to writing prompts and we select the best for publication here and in 20 other newspapers and on VPR.net. This week, we publish responses to the prompts, Photo 3; and Fan: Write a fan letter to someone. Read more at youngwritersproject.org.
Prompt: Photo 3, a running track.
Last Saturday had been the big game, the championship, and, being a senior, the last game of my football career.
My whole life, football had been my passion. From throwing the ball around with my parents in the backyard, to competing under the lights on the big field, I could never get enough.
I loved the competitive, team aspect of the game. How each and every player had a role that needed to be executed to perfection in order for the team to succeed.
Last Saturday we had done this and our team had emerged victorious. While I was ecstatic about this big victory, I couldn’t help but think about the future, and what it held for me.
Soon the year would be coming to a close and I would have to decide on colleges and which course of education to pursue. Although I had been considered a great player by my teammates and in my town, I was not good enough to play for a major college team.
So although I hated to admit it, the reality is that this major aspect of my life would be coming to an end.
All I could do now was sit on the side of the field, on which so many of my memories lay, and think back to my career and to Saturday night. All I could do now was ask myself if I had any regrets… No way.
When? When will it happen? I have waited, and waited and waited. Four years of high school, over and done with. What now; what next? Can anyone say; can anyone know?
I thought I was the best, the best linebacker in the state. I was wrong. My whole plan for the next few years revolved around that scholarship. I blew it, one stupid mistake. Why didn’t I catch that ball?! Was it all the pressure, anxiety?
Perhaps I wouldn’t have made it in the big leagues. One play! That’s all it took, and I blew my future. My bright, gleaming, happy, rich future. I would have been off to some college, having the best training. I would have slipped into the majors with ease. I would have been living my lifelong dream, football. That’s all over now. It’s gone, everything. My parents disappointed, my coaches frustrated, and myself angered.
My life seems ruined. The countless hours of training, lifting, memorizing plays. Some kids excel at school work such as math and science or even English. Don’t get me wrong, I try my absolute hardest.
But I have always been told to strive for what you want, to believe in yourself. Did I go wrong, believing I could play football, the one thing I can excel at, for the rest of my life?
I want to go back in time, take away that foolish fumble. But what now can I do? I will regret that for the rest of my life. It’s sad that one person can take away someone’s dream. Dreams are what my life has been based around. I’m lost, forgotten, deserted. People say that your future is wide open; why does mine feel cut off? Will I ever succeed in anything again? Football is turning into a nightmare instead of a dream.
He sat down in the chill of winter, letting the cold slowly nip away at his emotion. The frosty air crisped his blood and rattled his bones, as a shiver rolled through his spine with each repressive thought.
He stared off in a haze at the track. That track once held the footprints of a champion, a leader, a friend. The sweat would slowly drip from their foreheads, rolling to the ground in beads of moisture, sweat, and hard work. The tar would absorb every drop, like each one was a piece of a puzzle never finished. Now in the icy snow, all those drops are gone and frozen in time, just like his friend. They used to come down to this place in spring, summer and fall, and pass around a football like they were star players.
One of them was. Now none of them ever will be. The boy still comes down here to sit every day, and imagine the two of them having fun and laughing like they did before. He even brings the football with him. It’s the closest he’ll ever get to the hands of the lost.
Some days, he wishes he could just throw the ball with as much force as possible, and get rid of it like his memory. It would be so much easier to go on with nothing of remembrance, than something pulling up the past. He thinks that maybe next year, he’ll run on the track once more. It’ll take baby steps. But for now, he sits on the bleachers in satisfaction of reality.
Prompt: Fan Letter
I sighed with relief and sat back in my chair. I was done with my homework! But just to make sure, I flipped open the pages of my homework planner. I finished that, that, and that, but wait, what were those tiny letters written at the bottom of the page? I leaned closer, squinting to make them out. English, write an essay on the ancient Mayans. Oh no! How was I supposed to do that in so little time? My heart sank. I listlessly ruffled through my English section of my binder, looking for the notes I had taken on the Mayans earlier that day. I couldn’t find them. I stared in disbelief at the empty section of my binder. Where were they?
My eyes scanned the room, searching for them. They were nowhere to be found. But what I did see was a mailbox. It was lovingly painted a glossy red, and I’d made it myself. But it wasn’t just an ordinary mailbox. It could transport a letter back in time, and also receive one, from no matter how long ago. At least that’s what I hoped it would do.
I quickly scribbled down the information I needed to know. What was the climate like, what’s one of your favorite pastimes, what do you eat, what types of jobs do you have, and countless other questions. I crossed my fingers and stuck the letter in the box, flipping some switches.
Three thousand years into the past, a young Mayan girl was sitting on a stool in her kitchen when a mysterious letter fell to the ground. She read the letter, puzzled. Who in the world wouldn’t know these simple facts? Then she saw the date on the top of the letter, and gasped. October 18, 2012. How could that be?
This was amazing! There was still a civilization 3,000 years into the future. She quickly scribbled down the information the other girl had asked for. For her, this note wasn’t just a cool note that came from the future; it was the last puzzle piece in a puzzle that the Mayans had been working on.
When I looked into the mailbox only a second after I had dropped in my note, I saw a letter. It told me all the information that I had left at school! I could write my report! The only thing that I was puzzled about was the last line. “The date which you wrote at the top of the letter was very helpful to me.” Why would that be helpful? Then my eyes landed on the newspaper strewn on the floor of my room. The caption read, Will the World End In 2012 Like the Mayans Predict?
I smiled. I was only 12 and I’d already changed the course of history.
About the Project
Young Writers Project is an independent nonprofit that engages students to write, helps them improve and connects them with audiences through the Newspaper Series (and youngwritersproject.org) and the Schools Project (ywpschools.net). Support: YWP is supported by this newspaper and foundations, businesses and individuals who recognize the power and value of writing. If you would like to contribute, please go to youngwritersproject.org/support, or mail your donation to YWP, 12 North St., Suite 8, Burlington, VT 05401.
Object. An inanimate object comes alive and tells you how it really feels. Alternate: Excuse. Create the wildest excuse you can think of for why you didn’t do something.why you were so late.
why you can’t go. It must stretch the imagination, yet still remain credible. Due Dec. 7