Day 57 of 365 Days of Writing Prompts: Write about a character winning an award.
Erin: “You should have been at the awards show today,” I told Lark as I came in with Lincoln. “Tell your daddy what happened,” I squatted down and ruffled his curls.
“I won a trophy,” he beamed up at his father.
“Yeah sport,” he grabbed the plastic from his hand and studied the engraving.
“Best snacks,” he read out loud and I could see him fighting back a laugh. “Congrats bud,” he wrapped him up tight in his arms. “Go find a nice place for it in your room,” he suggested and patted him on the back.
As Lincoln ran off giggling Lark smiled up at me. “Yeah everyone got an award,” I confirmed.
“This one seems more like a win for you,” he hugged me and kissed my forehead. “Congratulations on your major award sweetheart!”
Shannon: My boyfriend and I were competing against each other in a dessert competition, and the crowds were voting on their favorites now. We could have worked together, but we couldn’t agree on what dish we wanted to serve and ended up entering separately. We didn’t mind, because we both agreed to be civil no matter who won. We also made a pact to complain together, if neither of won anything.
We got up to the stage to hear the results and neither of are names were called for second, third, or fourth place. My hopes started to dim, believing both of us must have odd taste buds, because our skill levels couldn’t be that different from each other. Then suddenly my name was called, and they were handing me a trophy and a t-shirt. I felt spark of joy running through my whole body and the crowd applauded, a little in shock, but then I looked over to Dan and the spark was scared away. I didn’t want to beat him by so much. This wasn’t as I pictured it would be.
After we got off the stage he put out his arms to give me a hug. “Go ahead, say I told you so,” he pouted.
“No, the crowd was just in my favor today,” I shook my head.
“So now you get to make the desserts for the town ceremony,” he questioned a little disappointed. I knew how much he wanted people to love his food, and the ceremony was the perfect place to show off his talents.
“Well I can’t do it alone, and I don’t trust anyone else to help, so if you’d be interested maybe it could be a team effort,” I asked.
“If you missed cooking with me, you just had to tell me,” he joked, trying to act like he was the one doing me a favor.
“Yes, I missed cooking with you,” I rolled my eyes.
“Ok then, if you insist,” he cheered.
What is your character the champion of?
When I woke up in bed the next morning my fingers were numbly gripping my pillow like it was a dangerous animal. My heart was pounding behind my eyes, causing me to feel nauseous and dizzy. All around were horrific memories of the past few days; a couple vines winding their way up the wall, the still air, a picture of Anise and I playing in the snow. Gently, I felt at my stomache, taking an unsteady breath and breathing it out, as I determined I was alive.
There was a faint knock at the door and I nearly jumped out of my skin, rolling to be hidden behind the bedframe. Clutching a pair of scissors so hard they cut into my trembling fingers I whispered, “Yes?” Shallow breaths were all I could muster as I sat, biting my lip, against my end table.
After a moment the door creaked open and I quietly muttered a protective enchantment as light footfalls deliberately stepped around the bed. Her auburn hair was tied back, scraggly waving freely from her head like worms, and her features were dark and creased. Kneeling gradually, Anise gently plucked the utensil from my bloodied hands and let the sharp metal clatter on the floor behind her. With slow movements, and steady eye contact, she bandaged my fingers with clinical precision.
Tucking the gauze into the pocket of her hoodie she held my hands steady and cooed, “You’re alright, Lil. I promise you’re fine here. He’s not-” I must’ve looked more horrified as she cut herself off and began petting the inside of my arm comfortingly. “You’re safe here.” We sat there for an eternity as my heartrate slowed to a more manageable speed.
I could feel Anise taking my pulse studiously when she began to pull away. As soon as she sat back on her heels to stand I clutched her wrist involuntarily, pleading with my eyes for her to stay. But she released my fingers softly and stood back, a dark shadow being cast across me, before heading for the door without another word. She made it to the open door before turning to meet my eyes as I peered over the bedspread at her.
Calmly she spoke, “Lil, you will be fine. We’ll fix this.” But I couldn’t believe her; I was going to be terrified of my own shadow until the day I died, which couldn’t come soon enough. Closing the door with a soft click my little sister was gone, leaving her guardian alone with her fear-addled thoughts. I was meant to be protecting her from the dangers of our world, not cowering away in my room hoping no one would notice me.
Shutting my eyes I saw the horrors I’d been put through flashing across the imagined room and my eyes fluttered over amid tears. I panted and clutched the lined sweater I had on, catching at the wrap meant to protect my stomache wounds. There was something under there, writhing just under the skin, that I desperately needed to get out. Disturbed in the mind, I clawed at the fabric frantically with my nails.
Blood began to pool in my lap as I tore at the open wounds, crying out in pain, as I attempted to remove the creatures embedded in my torso. Sobbing breathlessly I couldn’t see anything moving with my flesh exposed and stopped, leaning my forehead against the cool bedframe. I could feel myself slipping like I’d done in that old house, but I couldn’t figure out why; I felt fine.
I woke up in bed with Anise sitting with her knees pulling in to her chest, knitting a long scarf, in my bay window. Lying across me was a quilted comforter shot through with finely embroidered sigils of anxiety relief and security. Carefully stroking the colourful fabric I ran my numb fingers over the black and white thread, feeling the power emanating from the enchantments. When I thought about Hugo and Serena I could recall in unbearably gory detail what they’d put me through, but I no longer felt an overwhelming urge to hide away forever; my heart beat along at a steady pace.
From across the room Anise’ eyes rested on my features as I began to move around, shifting the blanket around to get out of bed. But before I could stand up she was holding me down with gentle, but firm hands. She whispered, “Lil, you have to stay in bed.” Letting go of my arms, she stood back to let me decide and it only took me a moment to realize it was the comforter keeping my fear at bay. “I’m sorry. It was the only thing that calmed your heart,” her tone was steady, but she couldn’t keep all the worry out of her voice. When did my little sister become me?
But I knew she meant what she said; I mumbled the symbols aloud and formed them in my head to reference in my grimoires later. For the moment, though, I turned to Anise with her blood-spotted amethyst hoody and frizzy hair. Smiling dryly I sighed, “Thanks, Anise. I don’t how-” halfway through my thought I lost it and searched around for the words desperately. Waiting patiently at my bedside, she picked at the zipper on her hoody absently.
When I found my words I nearly cried, “I don’t know what to do.” A simple, horrible truth I said out loud and echoed for eternity in my mind. This time tears fell easily and splashed across the soft fabrics on my bed, causing me to convulse and break down like I had never done before. Anise leaned across to hold me, staying strong for me as I should never have asked her to.
We were there for a long time without moving or speaking, just letting the horrors we’d been through go in an emotional upheaval. Sometime Anise started to sob as well, her thin body shaking like a leaf. Neither of us had come to terms with these last few weeks and it all came out at once.
When I pulled away her nose was dripping and dots were spotted around her eyes, with the effort of shuddering, and I expected my features mirrored hers. Again I smiled and breathed out heartily, “I still don’t know what to do but I won’t let anything happen to you.” I looked in her red-rimmed eyes, searching them for anything other than sorrow but found nothing else.
Downstairs the doorbell rang clear through the house, a sound that would have me in a puddle in the corner without this blanket, and Anise blew her nose noisily. Sauntering across the room she handed me her makeup mirror as she left the room. I held the glass up to my face curiously but saw our front porch instead of my ruddy nose, clucking at my sister’s ingenuity. As I watched a tall young man moved from side to side nervously, checking over his shoulder every few seconds.
When Anise opened the door, looking fresh out of bed, the man bowed awkwardly and pulled out a crisp letter. Handing it to her without making eye contact he turned and I could see his eyes were glassy; he couldn’t have seen out of them. His pace down the steps was brisk as Anise watched him go, looking up into the mirror’s counterpart when he was gone.
The door slammed and I sat up against my pillows, listening to every stair squeak as she made her way up them. Having obviously stared at the envelope the entire walk up, she nearly ran into the door frame was she walked into the room. Without glancing at me, Anise slit the letter’s seal, a traditional candle wax imprint visible between her fingers, and slipped the letter out. Unfolding it she sat on the arm of my chair and read it with her brows furrowed.
After a moment of silent deliberation she peered at me over the pale paper, a deep breath escaping her lips. “Hugo’s back.” Silently she crossed the room, removed a tome from my bookshelf and handed me the letter as she took up permanent residence in my chair. It took me a few minutes to glance down at the page, expecting it to be a hand-written letter gloating but, instead, an official city hall proclamation gleamed up at me.
Dear Misses Lily and Anise Heart,
Your presence is required at an official ceremony to award Hugo Moray with the ‘Finally Broke That Bitch, Lily’s, Spirit’ trophy at city hall at noon today. This is not a request but a mandatory requirement to continue breathing. No, it doesn’t matter if you’re so terrified of everything you want to die, Lily, because we will kill your sister and let you watch.
The signature was signed in fresh blood that had smudged onto the folded part of the letter like a gruesome finger painting. Without a word I threw off the covers and immediately regretted it when my heart raced and my chest heaved with terrified panting. Anise was in front of me, tucking the covers back over my chest, before my mind could imagine anything but seeing blood in a tub. Taking the page and folding it up, she placed it carefully back into the envelope and set it on the side table, just out of my reach.
As I waited for my heart to slow again, I considered how I was going to make it to city hall without having a heart attack, in my current state. Obviously Anise was already on that, having taken out a text and slipped through to the emotional spells section. I cleared my throat as she got back to her reading. “Anise, could I please see the third book from the left on the fifth self?” I requested, the edge of my lip rising slightly.
She plucked the tome in question down and threw it onto the bed, avoiding my eye. Whatever she was thinking, she knew I wouldn’t let that monster get her again; we had to figure out a way for me to attend the ceremony. Together we read silently for an hour before either of us spoke, neither wanting to break the other’s concentration, but expecting nothing could fix the problem.
“Aha!” I shouted when I found a hearty anxiety-repelling sigil that could be worn on a chain. “I’ve got one,” I called as Anise, who was already on her feet, book placed gently on the chair cushion. “I think we have everything but I don’t know that I can do it from the bed.” Standing over me, eyes shining with unshed tears, Anise nodded curtly.
In a whirlwind to get the ingredients together I was expertly carving a complicated symbol on a piece of sharp scrap metal while Anise ran about the house gathering obscure plants and coloured candles. Twenty minutes later all the materials required for the charm were piled on the floor with the exception of a crow’s feather. Anise ran out to get it as I began the complicated and long-winded ritual. It was an odd mix of deity and spell magicks, but the old stuff was always more convoluted than it had to be.
With the feather grasped firmly in her hands, Anise ran back into the room a few moments later. “Don’t ask. You seriously don’t want to know.” There was a flat seriousness in her eyes that made me wish I didn’t have my suspicions. Passing the book to her I ran through the first part as she mirrored me perfectly.
Half an hour later I was holding a fragment of metal inscribed with a circular rune meant to ward off anxiety and fear. A hole had been hammered through to be worn on a shoestring Anise had scavenged and the whole thing looked like a grade school project. “Alright, let’s test it out.” Carefully I slipped the cord around my neck, letting the sharp pendant lie against my shirt, and swung around to touch the floor with my toes. As the blanket fell off, some of the terror returned, but not enough to prevent me from standing.
Shuffling across to the bookshelf I smiled in spite of myself and did a little twirl, the chains of panic gone from my wrists. “It worked. Let’s go. We’ve got half an hour,” checking the clock I rushed to my closet to put on a clean, not bloodstained, shirt and raced Anise down the stairs.
We arrived at city hall, the entire town clustered around the stage with glass eyes, just as the bell tolled midday. Standing at the podium was Serena, spinning some kind of spell on the group when she saw us walking up. Behind her, Hugo’s sleeves were drenched in dried blood up to his elbows, and he smiling gleefully when he saw us. He tapped her on the shoulder and stretched up to whisper in her ear without taking his eyes off me.
When we were a few steps behind the crowd Serena shouted a word and the pack parted like the red sea. Whether she was his henchman or it was the other way around, they made a perfect pair; a power-hungry psycho who would do anything to get what he wants and a woman who doesn’t even notice other people as worth anything more than the dirt underneath her heels.
He stepped forward and waved to us enthusiastically as we shuffled through the throng of friends and neighbours. “So nice of you to join us, Miss Lily. And you brought your little sister, how wonderful is that, Serena?” Skipping back to the podium, he clapped his hands as Serena looked around thoughtfully.
After a moment of contemplation she shouted a line of Relenzan I couldn’t follow and everyone seemed to shake off the spell at once. Quiet grumbling and shouting rang through the air as folks realized they couldn’t leave, which turned to mild panic before she began her speech with a thundering, “Silence! For your queen!” Drama wasn’t just Hugo’s territory. As the crowd became hushed she began, “We are here to bestow the great honor of the ‘Finally Broke That Bitch, Lily’s, Spirit’ trophy on Hugo Moray who was able to create a catatonic state in Miss Lily Heart just yesterday.”
Around us people were beginning to stare, recognizing me from around town, and the hush was lifting. Serena couldn’t stand that so she boomed, “So here is Hugo. And here is the trophy.” Stepping forward, Hugo bowed to the people with his stupid emerald tie, and shook hands with his partner before taking the prize and waving it around madly. “Come up here, Lily. Now.” She spoke with finality; I didn’t need to be told the consequences.
As I mounted the stairs to the stage I wobbled, blood beginning to show through my dark shirt. Swearing under my breath I held my stomache protectively as I stood as proudly as I could before the town. Hugo wrapped his arm around my neck roughly, noticing the slight bulge under my shirt from the metal pendant that was now cutting through the wrap. Untying the cord I watched in horror as it clattered to the stage but the fear and agony didn’t return.
Created to Write:
“And the recipient of the Science Improvement and Innovation Scholarship goes to…”
The group waits on the edges of their seats, holding hands in the middle of the left side of the crowd.
“Nikki May Dalton,” the head science teacher finishes.
The crowd claps. Nikki hugs Jacey, who is to her immediate right. She then walks up to the stage. She shakes hands with each of the science teachers present, as well as the principal. She is given a certificate, and a small beaker shaped award.
She walks back to her seat, grinning.
“How much came with that scholarship?” Finn asks, staring at the award.
“A few thousand,” Nikki says, humbly.
Jacey holds the certificate up, “This says it’s $6,000, Nikki.”
“What?” Nikki looks at it again. She grins even wider.
Josh shushes them half heartedly, so he can hear the rest of the scholarships.
The group walks out, Nikki holding her scholarship, and Josh looking over a couple smaller scholarships he won for essays.
They pass by a group of seniors.
“I can’t believe she got that scholarship,” one of the guys says.
“I can’t either. I worked on my project all week.”
Nikki stops just after the hall, listening in. “Nikki, let’s just go,” Jacey says, seeing her friend stop. But Nikki doesn’t hear her.
“She probably got the scholarship so the school can so blacks are included,” one of the guys snorts, “Who ever thought of a black girl getting a scholarship like that?”
The group continues to heckle, unbeknownst to them that Nikki heard everything. She starts walking to the parking lot, but then she breaks into a run once she’s outside.
“Nikki!” Her friends yell. Jacey runs ahead of all of them, reaching Nikki when she’s at the car.
Nikki doesn’t have the keys, so she stands there, holding the award and certificate, the latter crumbled in her hand.
Jacey gently turns her around, seeing Nikki’s crying. Jacey offers a hug and Nikki accepts it.
“They don’t understand,” Nikki says, trying to keep it together, “I had to work three times as hard as everyone else to get noticed, and more to receive this award. I deserve it, and…”
“Their jerks of the worst kind,” Jacey says, “and I know I can’t relate to you, but I am not leaving you alone in this.”
“Want us to kick their butts for you?” Nikki looks at the guys. They seriously looked like they were going to walk back in and send the bullies to the hospital.
Nikki shakes her head, “No. Violence won’t solve anything.” Josh unlocks the door and Nikki puts her award on the seat, “But we have to do something.”
“The principal should still be here,” Finn says.
Nikki nods, then starts back to the school, “He needs to know about this.”
“Go Nikki!” Finn cheers, “take a stand!”
“And we’ll support you,” Josh says. Nikki looks back at them and nods.