Young Writers Project: About Darkness, and Thinking Inside the Box

Each week, Young Writers Project receives several hundred submissions from students in Vermont and New Hampshire in response to writing prompts and selects the best for publication here and in 21 other newspapers and on

This week, we publish responses to the prompts, Eternal Night: You wake up one morning and the sun doesn’t rise. It doesn’t rise the next day either. What do you do?.

And Package: The UPS truck arrives with a huge box addressed to you. What’s inside? Who’s it from? Read more at

Prompt: Eternal Night

What would you do

If you woke up one day

And found that in the sky above

The sun had been taken away

Would you cringe in fear

And quickly run and hide

Or would you not even blink

And look on the upside

There are some out there

Who look upon the dark with fear

Who the moment the lights go out

You find are nowhere near

They claim that in the dark

There are monsters great and small

Creeping, crawling, slithering

Just waiting to devour us all

Or would you be in the other group

Who come alive at night,

Who admire the moon and stars

And their peaceful gleaming light

Those who love the night

And don’t mind the dark one bit

Who wouldn’t miss the absent sun

If the universe would permit

Now think about yourself carefully

Would you be fine or quiver in fright

For you never know what might happen

If the world were plunged into an eternal night

Every day I wake up the same, the same boring way. Alarm goes off, lean over, hit snooze, lie there for five minutes more. Alarm goes off again I get up, open the shades. Turn on my light, open my closet, and the day begins.

Except for today. In the most unexpected way, today is different, much different. Not in the sense that I woke up late, or my closet is bare, but when I opened my shades, nothing was there. Not the sun peeking up over the mountains I look at from a distance, not even the moon or stars high in the sky. Just dark, all black…

To read the complete story, go to

February 10, 2013. 12:02 p.m.

I wake up, dizzy with reminisces of fading dreams, dreams of falling into darkness. Falling into a chasm, so deep that even light couldn’t travel out. I had kept falling, until it hadn’t made sense anymore. It almost felt like I had been floating. I didn’t expect the hard ground to shatter me anymore, but I was wrong. My eyes burst open, from the mental impact. It was just a dream, I tell myself, the darkness did not last. But it does. I’m still alone on my bed, surrounded by the blackness of the night.

I turn a light on, and peek at my watch. It’s only 12:02 p.m.. Wait, I sit up straight and look at the time again. 12:02 p.m.? p.m.? I repeat the numbers over and over in my head. That should be noon!

I rush to the curtains, pulling them apart. Blackness. Everywhere. I am stunned, but sensible enough not to just stand there. I climb back into bed, wrapping the blankets around me, hugging my knees. My parents are away on a business trip, leaving me alone in the house. It was winter break. I gently rock myself, trying to come up with a reasonable solution. The clock could be broken, or maybe I’m just too tired for what my brain perceives to make any sense. I glance at the clock every few minutes, as though it will make time speed up. But it seems to do just the opposite. For hours I remain curled up, not moving an inch, waiting for something, anything to happen. Finally I fall asleep again, realizing the worst feeling is loneliness, knowing that you only have yourself…

To read the complete story, go to

Prompt: Package

I was walking home from school one bright, sunny Tuesday afternoon in April. I’d had a perfectly normal day at school, and was expecting to have a perfectly normal afternoon as well (but I can assure you, my afternoon was not perfectly normal at all!). When I got home there was a HUGE box on my porch, and I mean HUGE! Seriously, that thing could fit a whole castle in it, and I’m not joking!

So I walked up to the porch and realized that this might actually be a castle because I had thought it was on the porch, but it was really 100 times bigger than the porch. It was covering the porch. I was very, very surprised to find that the package was addressed to me.

I followed the directions on the box (cut here; fold here). It was a castle! With all the cutting and folding I had cut and folded the cardboard into a castle with actual cardboard rooms and cardboard servants and cooks and maids. Even cardboard beds, quilts, blankets, and food! I pushed my cardboard castle (which was light because it was made out of cardboard!) behind a tree and covered it in leaves and sticks to blend in.

I spent the rest of the afternoon playing in my castle until Mom came home from work. I asked my mom if I could sleep outside that night and she said sure. She started walking to the attic to get a tent, but I stopped her and said “I don’t think I’ll be needing a tent tonight, Mom.” She looked puzzled but she didn’t question me. All she said was, “If you’re sure.” I ate dinner with Mom, kissed her goodnight, then ran outside, ran through the cardboard door, under the cardboard quilts, and into my cardboard bed, dreaming happy dreams about my cardboard castle.

To read the complete story, go to


The Farm Project, A YWP Writing Challenge: Win $50 with a matching $50 for a food or farm nonprofit of your choice. See the contest details and writing prompts at Due Friday, April 12.

Sponsored by The Vermont Community Foundation’s Food and Farm Initiative.

Next Prompt

Six Words. Create as many six-word stories as you can. Alternates: News Story. Write an opinion piece based on a current news story. Take a side and make a persuasive argument — in a maximum of three paragraphs; and General Writing. Due March 22.

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 and the Schools Project (