I took this photo of a bunch of random stuff of mine last year year for my photography class:
It kind of fits. Kind of.
It actually is a picture of mine that goes well with the story at the bottom of this post. And so, without further ado, the actual post:
I’m on cloud nine today. After all this time, I’ve finally done it: 3rd place at my local library’s writing contest.
*dances while throwing confetti and eating sprinke-covered cupcakes*
This has been a goal of mine ever since I’d heard about it a few years ago. Imagined Ink Teen Writing Contest, 1000 words, about anything. And this was going to be my last chance too, since the contest is only open to teens I’m not going to be in high school anymore next year (although I will still be a teen, I suppose… weird.)
But now I finally done it and just in time, too. I was beginning to think that maybe I wasn’t the writer I thought I was, but I guess I am her… If that made no sense, I’m sorry. I’m still dizzy from the smiling and the happy-cloud around my head.
I’m very proud of my third-place finish. The other entries were really, really good, and deserved what they got. I’m perfectly happy.
I might be repeating the word “happy” too much. Apologies!
I wasn’t able to make the event the library put together to present awards, sadly. Author Kenneth Oppel was there, and I would’ve loved to have gone but my schedule was being particularly malicious that day. I was this close to meeting an awesome published author. Sad face: :(
I did end up getting some pretty cool stuff though, including a signed copy of Half Brother by Kenneth Oppel, which I am entirely thrilled to have. I love signed books! They’re living proof that books were written by real people.
And Cheez-Its! I was really hungry when I got this stuff and so the Cheez-Its were a life saver.
I’ve entered this contest once before (which I might have mentioned in this post). And let me be honest, I might have been doubting myself as a writer a little. But this was exactly the motivator I needed. I can write!
If there’s anything that you end up taking away from this post, let it be this: if you feel like you were meant to be a writer but your words aren’t as writer-like as you thought they would be and you don’t feel like you’re a writer at all, don’t give up. Please don’t. Writing, whether it’s in the back of a notebook or at the top of a bookshelf, is a gift. Don’t give that gift up.
And I’m writing that little piece of advice for myself too, because I’m almost 100% sure that in the near future, I will be that person who doesn’t feel she can be a writer at all.
Thank you for listening. You can read my entry, as well as the first and second place entries here (which I highly recommend because they’re beyond amazing). They’ll probably be up there until next year’s contest. I’ve also posted my entry down below.
Note: Yes, my first name really is Jacqueline. Jackie=Jacqueline. Just so nobody’s confused or anything…
• • •
Plain Sugar Drops
The candy drops at Bellissa’s Confectionary are now $3.00. Last Tuesday they were only $2.75.
I hand over three bills in exchange for the package. A white, crisp paper bag tied off with a black ribbon that has been cut with more precision than necessary.
The man at the counter does not even have to ask me what I want. In fact, I don’t think we’ve spoken in years.
(That streak was broken today. Mr.—I can’t even remember his name—stated that the price of drops has gone up to three dollars. I just nodded.)
Every Tuesday afternoon around this time I walk into Bellissa’s and buy exactly one bag of candy drops.
I do not marvel at the pink-and-orange-striped walls. I do not stop to ponder anything else in the store, though it is somewhat tempting.
I do not watch the blown-sugar Ferris wheel as it spins in the front window. I do not deposit any coins in the glass cotton candy machine. I do not gaze longingly at the bouquet of cupcakes in the display case.
Every Tuesday, I walk in and head straight for the blossom-colored counter. I hand Mr. Man-Behind-The-Counter exactly $2.75 (now $3.00). He gives me the bag of drops, along with my receipt.
NAME: LAINIE FALLOWAY
PLAIN DROPS…………………… $3.00
THANK YOU, PLEASE COME AGAIN
Now, the man behind the counter and I both know that I am not Lainie Falloway, but he does not dare point it out.
I look like Lainie. I walk like Lainie. I dress like Lainie. I even smell like Lainie. And for all intents and purposes, I am Lainie Falloway.
As long as neither of us says anything about how I am not Lainie, for all anyone knows, Lainie Falloway is here inside the sugar-blown world of Bellissa’s Confectionary, just like she is every Tuesday.
I walk away with my package of colored drops.
This is the part where I begin to walk towards 73rd Street. By the time I’ve reached 68th I will have opened the bag of drops.
The pristine black ribbon will remain pristine, being tucked into my coat pocket.
I will look through the bag of similarly shaped discs, through the assortment of artificial sugar-shine colors, until I find a red one.
I always eat a red one first.
By 70th, I will become bored with sucking on the drop and will begin chewing it, crushing it between my teeth like ice.
I hate these drops. The candies themselves come in five colors (there is no blue) but only one flavor, which is plain sugar. They are boring. They do not taste like fruit. Or chocolate. Or cinnamon.
They taste like nothing.
They are pretty, reflecting light like gemstones held up in the sunlight. But underneath their beautiful exterior is an utterly boring, pointless existence, devoid of flavor and interest.
But I eat the drops. Always.
By the time I reach 73rd Street I will have crunched up about eight or nine drops, depending on my mood.
On 73rd street sits Coldwater Cemetery, a large, stone-laden landscape wrapped around with iron fencing, much like a cake piped with icing along the edges. This is where I am every Tuesday, right after I visit Bellissa’s, easily trading a sea of sugar for a sea of stones.
I enter the cemetery methodically. Sixteen graves back, four to the right. Don’t trip over the shovel.
This headstone is my sister’s. Very plain, I think. It should’ve been one of those statue graves, one with an angel standing watch over the plot. But no, it is a simple stone, smoothed and rounded over much like a candy disc.
“I bought the drops.”
I toss a few onto the grave spot, hitting the stone with a couple of dull clicks. It’s the only answer I ever receive. I narrowly miss the date of birth with my candy.
The death date may not be mine, but the birth date is. We were twins, born four minutes and thirty-two seconds apart. It’s very creepy, seeing my own birthday etched into a gravestone, but I have to remember that it’s not really mine. Not just mine, anyways.
The infamous Falloway Twins used to always go into Bellissa’s and buy candy. Sara Falloway would always get something different or unusual—sour lemon drops, cinnamon spikes, fruit chews, anything.
Lainie would always walk right up to the front counter and would purchase a package of plain, colored sugar drops, and proceed to eat them in rainbow-order.
The candy store was ours. We watched the Ferris wheel spin for hours, constructed entirely of sugar. We bought cotton candy from the glass machine in the corner. Tried to guess the flavors of the cupcakes in the case.
We always shared our spoils, although we didn’t enjoy each other’s candy as much as our own. Nonetheless, we were two sisters of spun sugar, of Ferris wheels and frosting and candy.
And every Tuesday, we’d walk all the way home, throwing candy at each other and laughing and looking utterly inseparable.
Inseparable. We were inseparable, weren’t we? I toss another piece of candy at the grave. I can’t live without my sister. She was me, and I was she, and how was I supposed to live without myself?
So every Tuesday I come back to this spot with my bag full of plain sugar candies and I pretend that my sister is still here, still alive, still eating candies and occasionally throwing them at me.
“They raised the price, can you believe it?”
More drops fall onto the silent grave.
One last thing to do before I leave. I pull the perfect black ribbon out of my pocket and place it on the ground.
“Miss you, Lainie. See you next Tuesday.”
I leave her then, pelting the words with drops one last time before I go:
In Loving Memory
LAINIE M. FALLOWAY
BELOVED DAUGHTER AND SISTER
June 18th, 1997-November 7th, 2010