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Five Students Selected for 2019 Creative Writing Scholarship Competition

Updated: Feb 28


For the 2019 Creative Writing Scholarship Competition, Thea Foundation increased the available scholarships from two to five. We’re excited to announce the winners of this year’s competition. More than 80 students from across the state of Arkansas registered to compete. Our 2019 scholarship recipients are:

1st Place, $4,000 scholarship: Verity Miller

Short Story, "Eloise"

Conway High School

2nd Place, $3,500 scholarship: Harrison Roberts

Poem, "Those Things Fall Apart"

Little Rock Christian Academy

3rd Place, $3000 scholarship: Kylie Wilkins

Short Story, "Radiance"

Bentonville High School

4th Place, $2,500 scholarship: Savanna Watts

Poem, “Everybody Knew May”

Perryville High School

5th Place, $2,000 scholarship: Trevor Speight

"Proof"

Mena High School

Congratulations to our winners, and thank you to everyone who entered this year’s competition! Below is the first-place winning short story:

“Eloise”

Verity Miller

Conway High School

“These are Arkansas Black apples,” she said, pointing to the stack of crates in the corner of the basement. I looked at the piles of what looked like rotting walnuts, gingerly picked one up, and stared at her in disbelief. The day before I had broken down from stress, and was now suddenly two and a half hours away from home in the freezing cold with her next to me.

“Are you sure?”

She gave me a look, one that said quite a lot about my sass and how, at 9:06 in the morning, it was not appreciated. She had just given me a lecture on how she grows all her own food, how she can decipher nature like one might decipher a map.

“Is it because of the color?” she asked, ring-adorned hand clutching one of the hideous things tightly as we climbed the rusty stairs to the top of her grandma’s barn. I didn’t say anything when she flung open the door to the bales of hay stacked up nearly to the roof, both of us squirming up onto the bales to watch the cows on the pasture across from the farm.

I watched her breath fan out in the cold, the white vapor stark against her newly-dyed pink hair, the curls still drying from the shower. She bit into her apple and pretended to not notice me staring, pretended to not notice my unusual silence.

“It’s like,” I attempted to piece together, “that for weeks now it’s all been gray.”

She nodded, tilting her head in the way that she always did when she was considering something, and offered me a tight smile. Her cheeks were flushed pink in the breeze.

“Are they coming back?” she whispered, despite the quiet. I looked down at the sad excuse of a fruit in my palms, the black that blended with the furious shades of crimson and spots of green, and then back up to her eyes, that steady brown, the soft yellow of the hay beneath us, the bright blue of the bluejays that were fighting for ownership of the pear trees that lined the property.

“There used to be more fruit, you know, when my grandma was younger. But as she aged she couldn’t care for it all, even though she thought she could...now it’s all just overgrown and lost.”

She hummed at the emptiness of what must have once been a flourishing orchard, and then abruptly flung her core over the bales, and stood roughly.

“C’mon, I’ll show you more.”

I stuffed the apple into the pocket of my coat, and we left. She headed to the northern portion of the property with me stumbling after her, ducking underneath the hot wire and tramping through the tickly grass, avoiding cow patties.

She walked like how she did everything: loud, confident, and with an air of internal peace. Even with the sun barely able to keep up with the morning frost, she was still the brightest thing in the sudden expanse of horizon before us. It was her boisterous hair and laugh, and the endless hues of bare bark along the edge of the fence, the nakedness of the trees comforting in my own vulnerability.

This landscape, carved by hands just as strong as her own, sculpted by the thunder of horses, of foundations of homes that had been lived in and loved in for generations, so different from my own. I felt plain in comparison to all the hard work around me.

She bent down suddenly, and I was unable to flee as she reached up, gathered a handful of my coat, and pulled me down to her.

“Look,” her eyes burned into mine, “an ice flower.”

It was small and delicate, layers of nothing wrapped around a dying blade of grass, but she had no hesitation in pulling it apart from where it was clinging to, holding it up to the light.

There was an army of ginko leaves on the ground beneath us, and they were raining down with the wind; one of them caught in the curve of her neck. She fussed it away and quickly pushed the ice flower towards me.

“Quick, it’s melting! Eat it!”

So there was ice in my mouth. It was too far into November to properly eat anything this cold, but I could feel the ridges of the ice just before it melted, was able to crush it under my teeth. It was sharp and brilliant and I enjoyed the way it was gone just as soon as it was there.

“So?” she said, eyebrows high.

“That was stupidly cold. There was also probably dirt in that, or something.”

“It’s good for the immune system. Wanna see the creek?”

I nodded, and the next time I stumbled when we were walking, she took my hand to steady me.

The trees were stronger where they weren’t contained, and they reached out for my hair desperately, held onto my ankles. I fought and she helped to pull me through, laughed loudly when I saw the rushing water, the sun reflecting off the moss that consumed all the rocks in sight.

“You get used to this when it’s your home. This is all mine, in a way, I guess; sometimes I wonder if it’d be different if this wasn’t where I was raised.”

“It’s really nice,” I said. She beamed, and we sat on the tiny cliff face.

“Can you see more, now? Is this gray too?” she asked.

“No,” I told the ground, smiling despite myself. “There’s more, now.”

“Well,” she said, “what are you waiting for?”

I reached into my pocket for the apple, not willing to hesitate as I bit into it harshly, tangy and sweet and lovely and bright on my tongue. It immediately ruined any other apples for me, this gross-looking monster.

“I think I’m ready to see more,” I told her.


Note: The deadline to submit for Thea's 2020 Creative Writing Scholarship Competition is Monday, March 9. More information can be found on our scholarships page.

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