YWP: Following in Footsteps and Other Dangerous Pursuits

Age 16, Bradford, Vt.
Monday, February 26, 2018

Young Writers Project is an independent nonprofit based in Burlington that engages middle and high school students from anywhere in the world to write, to express themselves with confidence and clarity and to connect with authentic audiences. YWP published local writing every week in newspapers; through YWP’s website, youngwritersproject.org, and monthly digital magazine, The Voice; before live audiences; and with other media partners, including vtdigger.org and vpr.net. YWP is supported by this newspaper and foundations, businesses and individuals who recognize the power and value of writing.

This week’s prompt: Footprints. You see mysterious footprints leading from the woods behind your house and down the street. You follow them. What happens?


The footsteps seem to lead nowhere. They begin in the woods. Broken sticks, crushed leaves, bushes trampled. After a while, I realize I have no clue where I am, and all I can hear are my damp jeans rubbing together. I look around, more clueless than ever. I decide to continue following the footsteps since I have no other ideas on where to go. After a while, I hear the sound of cars. I soon find myself on a street that I know well. In fact, it is my street. I expect to lose the footsteps on the sidewalk, but instead, they are next to the sidewalk in the short grass. I can see that faint outline of bare feet.

I am now confused; it is fall and someone is running around the woods barefoot. It seems strange, and I begin to worry that something is wrong. As I follow them, I notice more sets of tracks – there are many of the same looking footsteps all over the grass. I follow them about a mile down the road where they seem to stop. I look to the right and see they go down a bank. I follow them down without trouble until I come to a stream. When I look for the footsteps, they are nowhere to be seen. I assume crossing the river is the way I must go. My pants are wet up to the knees. But at the other side, sure enough, I find the footsteps again.

I follow them a little farther, but when I look up I find myself at my driveway. That's when I realize the footsteps lead up my driveway. I continue following until I find myself in the woods behind my house. Broken sticks, crushed leaves, bushes trampled. I am soon lost again and continue following the footsteps. I hear a car pass and follow the footsteps down to a road. This is my road! I follow the footsteps beside the sidewalk.

As I pass a house, a lady comes outside and gently grabs my arm. She asks if I'm okay. I respond with a nod, confused why she would think otherwise. “This is the 30th time you've walked past my house today, and you aren't wearing shoes,” she tells me. I pull my arm away and continue to follow the never-ending footprints.

Read the complete story at: youngwritersproject.org/node/20980.

Prompt: General writing.

Nothing to say

The morning was crisp and cold. Fall had just begun. Laura was bundled tightly in her sweater. Her ears were numb and cold, but the rest of her was cozy. She carried a suitcase, pressed tightly against her chest. She could hear her own heartbeat echoing through the metal clasps. The bus stop was still a couple of blocks away, but the blue line shuttle was leaving in only a couple of minutes, so she decided to cut through an alleyway to get where she was going a bit faster. At the end of the alley, silhouetted against the clear blue sky, she saw a shape she thought she recognized. A tall, slim man, underdressed for the weather in a light synthetic jacket but standing straight, not appearing cold. His hair was buzzed short, cropped even closer to his scalp than Laura’s was. He was facing away from her, but even from the back she noticed a familiar bobbling to his stride.

Her old friend! As little kids they had been inseparable, but it had been a long time since they had been close, and a couple of years ago she’d lost track of him altogether. But now, here he was, standing in front of her, just a few meters away. He hadn’t noticed her yet, but all Laura would have to do would be to hold up a hand and call his name and he would see her, and they could talk again at last.

Laura never would have thought that she would lose touch with him in the first place. As children they were joined at the hip, inseparable. They splashed in puddles and held hands and played new games and invented machines that they would never build. There had been whispered jokes of marriage. But Laura had never wanted to marry him – never wanted to marry anyone, never wanted to be anything more than friends. Even as a little kid, she had known that someday she would marry a faceless man and the sleepovers with her male friends would have to stop because he would be jealous. She didn’t want that, at the time, but she figured that someday she would grow up and mature and be okay with the idea. Now she was almost 30 and hadn’t warmed to the concept at all.

Even at five or six she’d understood: everyone likes a tomboy, until she turns 12 or 13 and doesn’t outgrow it properly. There was an expiration date on her style, her friendships, the way she played and talked, the shoes she wore. But she hadn’t expired, she’d merely grown and bloomed and shown. Here was her former friend, standing just in front of her. He hadn’t changed, but there had never been any pressure for him to change. The only thing that had changed was that he had stopped talking to her. The dreams they’d had since they were tiny, about friendships that would last forever and never leave, had now faded.

She approached him in the narrowness of the alleyway, so close that she could hear him breathing, and kept her eyes straight ahead as she passed. They had nothing to say to each other.

Read the complete story at: youngwritersproject.org/node/20821.