HUNTINGTON – Since 1984, the West Virginia Young Writers Contest has celebrated student writing in the state as a result of the commitment to write in all subjects and to publish, display, and celebrate student writing.
That year, Huntington Middle School’s Claire Johnson won second place in seventh and eighth grades for her play “Zombies,” which is listed below.
Teachers and administrators in each county encourage students to submit letters for assessment first at school and then at the county level.
Entries can be submitted on any topic and in any genre of prose: fiction, non-fiction, short stories, memoirs or essays.
Executives at Marshall University’s Central West Virginia Writing Project then judge entries based on ideas, organization, voice, choice of words, sentence flow, and conventions. The state winners were announced to the public on Friday, Young Writers Day, which took place practically in Microsoft teams.
First-placed county winners receive certificates and participate in workshops with published writers / moderators on West Virginia Young Writers Day. State winners in each of the six competition categories will receive checks for $ 100 for first place, $ 50 for second place, and $ 25 for third place.
“Zombies” by Claire Johnson
Alone a young girl rested and slept soundly. Not far from her bed was a broken clock, the screen broken and the plug unplugged. The girl lay for long hours and slept soundly, without the screaming of the little clock. In her little house everything was quiet, still without the voices and steps of her parents who had gone to work long before. The girl didn’t like it when her parents left; she felt alone.
Have a chat, your parents would say. But she knew what kind of entertainment her parents meant. The kind that started with a screen and ended in despair, detachment and a throbbing headache. She would much rather explore, read, and create. Boredom was a more watchful parent than those who fathered her – boredom at least taught her lessons and sparked her creativity. Why can’t you be like the other kids? her parents would ask. They are all very happy with their devices. But the little girl didn’t want to be like the other children. She didn’t want to be a zombie.
She stumbled down the stairs and rubbed the sleep from her eyes. Her house was perfect: every finish was pristine, not a single thing out of place, as if no one lived in the house at all – which she sometimes took to be true. She took her coat off the hanger and stepped outside into the crisp autumn air. She enjoyed the outdoors, much to her parents’ displeasure. They will chase Mud through the house, they would scold. I know you like to go outside, but why not just watch some nature documentary instead? The little girl did not understand her parents, nor did they understand them.
She looked at the trees that lined her meadow. She enjoyed the park, but it always hurt to see it. Every person who sits on the benches is fascinated by the virtual life into which they have plunged desperately. She would watch from a distance and notice small details. She was very good at it and noticed details. Her parents called it a nuisance, annoyed that she paid more attention to other people than to her screen. Your device teaches you things that are far more important than observation.
The little girl disagreed.
She walked along the stream and watched the ducks chase each other in circles, longing for the ignorant bliss that she was sure they felt. She walked down the street and entered a small cafe. The little girl always enjoyed the little café and drank her tea from mini tea cups. While she waited in line, she watched the people in front of her. The one in front appeared to have headphones on and moved its head in a bass beat that was so easy to hear for someone who listened closely. No one but the little girl seemed to be listening closely, too intrigued by her ex’s new girlfriend, or at least the girl who was sitting at a nearby table. She scrolled and scrolled, and her eyes narrowed every time her ex showed up in her feed. The little girl looked away. She knew when she was invading someone’s privacy.
Finally, when it was her turn, she went to the cash register. She just pointed at the menu, her finger barely reaching across the counter for the cashier to see. He nodded and turned his gaze back to the computer screen in front of him.
After a few moments, a young looking boy in an apron presented her mini teacup and the little girl took a seat in the back. She liked the back of the little cafe – it gave her a clear view of everyone in it. When she was done, she skipped the door she came in and gave a rare smile to a woman on her way. The woman was too busy with her screen to notice.
The little girl was walking the inner streets of the city, her least favorite place. The sidewalks were full of people, but somehow it was the place where she felt most lonely. Everyone was walking back and forth, their heads buried in their screens. The little girl was often tossed around by a distracted pedestrian who was too focused on his own virtual life to notice a lonely child. That was what bothered her the most, the reason why she was most tempted to pick up her screen and pretend to enjoy the desperation and headache it brought with it: the feeling of belonging, the feeling of acceptance in a society that would otherwise never accept it. These thoughts are way too great for someone your age, their parents would complain. The little girl agreed.
She wandered the city alone, tears marking the agony she felt – alone, calm, suffocated by the walking zombies that surrounded her. Slaves to their own devices.