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First Place

Updated: Jan 24, 2022

Artwork by Rita Chen, staff artist

By Emely Ou Feng

Dismal and shadowy clouds closed all the gaps from brightness, making sure that no light could be leaked into the ground. Thrusting breezes brushed passersby’s cheeks and rushed them to go home. Brownville has been turbulent these years, and the mood of people since there was always incident to anticipate from this diminutive neighborhood. Maxie strode on the street with a grayish school hoodie inner and a white down jacket to against chilliness. She felt the Winter had already arrived, and she had never been so craved of warm cocoa and a fuzzy cape.

Maxie was holding a black backpack strap in one hand, and the other strap slipping slightly off her shoulders. She adores carrying it in such a way, her maturity as a high schooler was illustrated unlike the lower class; middle schooler who shoulders both straps and lurch forward to balance the weight of meaty textbooks that teach little. It continues to be her thing and straightaway an involuntary action. The fundamental black school bag was brought in this asymmetrical posture. Presently, she was going to meet one person, a person with whom she has an appointment with.

Brownsville High school is an archaic and moderately majestic building. From the perspective of public school, this is a fairly exquisite one. Overall, it's a musty orange color tone, the iron bars have faded to blue. Crowds bustling and squeeze in like ants to a nest, dutifully wanting to please their queen.

“Hey, Maxie.” Classmates in the hallway casually greeted Maxie and the atmosphere was unprecedentedly good, as they didn’t find her delightful when she said hi to them before. “Hey,” Maxie responded with a slight smile and a bob of the head. Maxie walked into the math class with them.

“Sit down, you are late.” Mr. Sanchez turned his head toward Maxie them, his elbows leaned on the lectern, and jabbed his finger on it to show his displeasure and authority all at once. Maxie sat on the remaining spot in the front and adjustly hunched her back on the table. As she stared out of the window, her world was surrounded by dusky clouds and the acknowledgment of nothingness, her thoughts began to clear out as long as the lecture began.

“Stop daydreaming!” Mr. Sanchez shouted, which pulled Maxie back to the embarrassing reality. “Sorry, Mr. Sanchez.”

“Not to me, to yourself. You wasted your own time.” Mr. Sanchez said in a mocking manner. Classmates who were sitting in the back cast inquiring glimpses of her, Maxie felt a pot of water try to boil but the heating failed during the process. She thought she had a righting to act peculiarly.

“Yes, I'm sorry.”

Education was systematically carried out, teachers’ salaries made them fatigued year after year, while the loose framework compels students to go on a substandard or negative path of no return. Their relationship has always been business-like and comparing school to a small society. Maxie knew the truth from a young age, she wasn't about to cry for help in school, however, getting called out was awkward under any circumstances.

“I hope so.” Mr. Sanchez returned to his lesson.

Hours flew by, the bells rang pleasure to the ears, Maxie was free to walk out. She raced to the backdoor, the scenes of teachers talking to teachers, students talking to teachers, and students talking to students were all behind her, they were in second place. She was in the first place, for the first time.


Contributor's Note: Emely Ou Feng is a high school student who is pursuing her passion for writing, particularly horror and suspense genres. Meanwhile, she is practicing journalism on her own. She enjoys reading, soccer, and R&B music.

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