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Writing Festival: Aria's Short Story


Writing Festival: Aria's Short Story

August 14, 2023

In a series of writing entries, we will be showcasing some of our students' work from the 2023 Writing Festival! During this Writing Festival, students from Grades 1-12 were asked to submit either a short story, essay, or poem. Throughout the summer, we will be showcasing some of the entries who won a Writing Festival Award for excellent writing!


**Aria's short story, "The Forgotten Letter", received the "Excellent with Distinction" award.




Grade 8 - Mrs. Crandall

March 17, 2023

Short Story

The Forgotten Letter


Evelynn noisily stomped up the old, creaky mahogany stairs and stormed into her small room. She slammed the door, the noise resonating through the house. She collapsed on her aged bed and threw the ragged covers over her head, crying. Light filtered through a single, cracked window, and alighted on her frizzy red hair. She dove deeper under the covers as her body contorted with another sob.


When she finally had enough strength, she crawled out of bed, her hair in a much worse state than before, her brilliant green eyes red-rimmed and glassy. Her lips were cracked and stinging from the salt of her tears, and her simple, olive-green dress was wrinkled and looked significantly older. She fell into an old chair in front of a large carved desk positioned in front of the one window. The ancient chair creaked and wobbled dangerously, but she didn't give that any notice. The small girl shuddered and another tear streaked down her rosy, freckled cheeks. She leaned against the peeling, light-green-painted wall beside her and took a deep breath in.


Evelynn threw open a small drawer, and she was assaulted with the smell of mothballs. What was inside of the drawer only she knew. If she told any other member of her family, they would take that priceless possession away. She reached for the small polaroid picture and beheld it in the golden light. More hot tears blurred the edges of her vision and she fought to hold them back as she beheld the last picture of her father she had.


He looked so brave, so happy. Nothing like what he had when he'd left three months ago for the civil war. Mother had ran after him, screaming, and Evelynn had hidden in her room as her siblings cried in anger downstairs, pounding on the walls. After that, mother had been different. She had never talked about father, and Evelynn knewthat if she dared to bring him up, she would surely receive a beating from one of her older siblings. She did not know why talk of father was such a touchy subject, as she had not been downstairs when he and mother had fought. He had been such a good person, Evelynn simply couldn't believe he had done anything wrong.


But none of that mattered now. He had been her supporter, her number one fan, even when she messed up. None of that mattered.


He was gone. Dead. She had to accept that.



"Evelynn! Get out of bed! Mother called you five minutes ago! We will be late for school and it will be your fault!"


Evelynn sighed and rolled out of bed, still swaddled in her moth-eaten, musty-smelling blankets. The eldest of her five sisters, Carrie, had been yelling at her for many minutes and Evelynn had been counting how many times Carrie had taken a break from working her jaw. She had counted exactly five seconds of silence.


Before her loud sister could begin to rant again, Evelynn slipped out of her blanket cocoon and yelled back. "I am getting up!"


"You should have ten minutes ago/"


"I know, you crazy old hen! You 're not my mother! Now go away!" Evelyn shot back as she searched through hersmall, oak dresser for some presentable clothes. She heard Carrie snort and stomp away.


Evelynn found a pretty dress graced with fancy white lace and slipped it over her head. She beheld herself in a small, fissured mirror. The baby blue color went very well with her wild red hair and freckled face. Back when her family was still happy, her mother had said she had her father's freckles and eyes, and then her father would add how Evelynn had inherited her mother's fiery spirit, embodied in her hair. Her mother would give him a playful elbow, and her father would grin with shock-white teeth. Evelynn hadn't inherited those. Instead she had yellowed, crooked teeth, and her family openly teased her about it. Not playfully anymore like back when she was younger.


She straightened a fold in one of the puffy sleeves and slipped into her small, shiny black shoes that she diligently kept clean. They had been a parting gift from her father. Evelynn had found them in the trash with a note to her attached. She smuggled them back inside and kept them away from everyone else. No one noticed them after all. No one paid attention to her any more. Not like she cared.


Her mother was scrubbing dishes off like it was her only purpose, and Evelynn's other sisters were already out of the door. Her mother didn't so much as say hello. She instead turned and fixed Evelynn with a sharp glare, her arms tightly crossed in front of her chest.


"Evelynn, I heard your little spat with Carrie upstairs. What was the meaning of that?"


Evelynn rolled her eyes to herself and grabbed textbooks, shoving them in her cloth knapsack. "She was being my nanny. I don't need a nanny!"


Mother's sharp features and fiery hair made her sternness seem all the more intimidating. "If you continue to be late to school, I will get you a nanny. You are thirteen. You need to grow up and forget all of these stupid childlike feelings."


Mother's words hit her like a slap in the face. Evelynn had always been the sensitive one of the family, but her mother's words felt especially hurtful as Evelynn picked up on the command under her words.


Forget about your father.


Evelynn stormed out the door. "I never wanted a mother like you!" 


"What did you say, young lady?"


Evelynn spun around and glowered at her mother. "You heard me! You will never replace father!"


The girl slammed the door. If she had looked through one of the window, she would have seen her mother half heartedly scrubbing at a plate, tears streaming down her face.


Evelynn collapsed on her bed, as she did every night. More months had passed. More terrible, dreary months. She stared at the crumbling ceiling and let out a long, tired breath. Her homework was splayed out on her old mahogany desk, untouched. She finally worked up the energy to sit down at the desk and bring out a quill and ink from on of the drawers. She examined her English assignment, quietly reading the excerpt her teacher had given the students to read.

It was then that a folded letter caught her eye. It was jammed in one of the drawers, and Evelynn's heart thumped in her chest when she noticed that was where she had stored her father's picture. She yanked the letter out and searched for the picture. To her relief, it was still there. She turned her attention to the folded paper in her palm.


It was easy to open, and the paper inside was old and rigid. She peeled it open, and tears tugged at her vision. The letter was completely filled of pictures of her father. Bulging. On the paper itself was written a small inscription in faded black ink.


Dear Evelynn,


I am to leave for the war tomorrow. If I do not come back, I do not want you to forget me, but I do not want to you to despair. We will meet again. I love you, my little Gingersnap.


No one had called her 'Gingersnap' in a year. Tears streaked down her face as she looked through the pictures. She remembered these moments. As she sat there, engulfed in warm memories, someone entered her room.


It was mother. Evelynn prepared for her to scream, or tear apart the letter, but she stood there, silent. Finally, Evelynn spoke up.


"Mother? Are you all right?"


"No." She whispered. "I have forgotten him." 




"Yes." She replied, choking up. "I forgot him. That was his one wish for me. On the night he left, I was so angry he had chosen to fight over his family that I forgot him. And our fight, those months ago-" she paused as she sobbed. "It reminded me, and I realized he didn't choose his country over us. He chose to fight/or us. I do not know why I was so blind. He truly did not want to leave, but he wanted us to be safe."


Evelynn was mute. She didn't know what to say. She nervously fiddled with her frizzy hair as her mother came closer.


"I am so sorry," mother breathed in Evelynn's ear, "forgive me."


Evelynn didn't have to think. She strangled her mother in a hug as they both wept. "I do.

I do forgive you, mother. I love you!" She cried.


"I love you too, my Gingersnap. Let us remember your father forevermore."