Prose, Grades 7 – 9: Second Place

Sun Hat — Rachel Leo

       The sun hat nearly falls off her head, she’s running so fast. You carry the picnic basket in one hand, the umbrella in the other. She runs excitedly towards the sea, holding the beach towel.

       “Don’t get that wet!” you call after her.

       “I won’t!” she calls back over her shoulder.

       You lower your head so that no one can see you smile. It’s a warm day in mid-July, so naturally your summer-loving girlfriend called you at 4 am to ask you to take her to the beach.

       “Please please please please please please please,” she whined. You agreed. Today is also the perfect day for beachgoers, too. The sun is shining, but not too brightly, and the wind blows just so you’re cool but not cold. The puppy-like girl in front of you kicks at the water happily, enjoying the feeling of the sand and sea under her feet. You take the towel from her so that you can set it down on the ground. She spins around to look at you, and you can’t help but laugh. Her eyes sparkle with a sort of childlike wonder that is unmatched by even the most childish. She grins and takes your hand. Together you run into the water.

       Then you shiver. You flex your toes, stretch, then sit bolt upright in bed. You search desperately for a hand, no, her hand, but come up with nothing. It’s pitch-black out. Your heat is broken, and you don’t have enough blankets. Your stomach growls, but your fridge is almost empty. Then you realize: every single thing on that beach was imaginary. You can no longer feel the breeze nor hear her laugh. You look across the room, desperate for something that could prove that the dream wasn’t pointless. Then you see it. A sun hat. You smile an almost invisible smile. Find her, you think. Find her and take her to the beach.