The 2003 Edith Olson short story contest for seventh- and eighth-graders sponsored by the Willapa Writers Circle was held recently.

Edith Olson was a Peninsula native from the Oysterville area. She and her husband had many adventures, spending years in Alaska, where Edith played a key role in setting up a library system.

Before moving north and after returning to her beloved Peninsula, she wrote for this newspaper. Late in her life, she wrote two popular series - on shipwrecks and Pacific County settlements.

This contest honors her love of learning, writing and the English language.

Winners are as follows:

$50 First Place Winner "ALONE" by Matthew Kaino Down the old mosey gravel road lined neatly with cottonwood trees, is a spectacular house with the most fabulous green grass anyone has ever laid eyes on. The house is shingled with the finest cedar. The great front steps are lined with a silver shine. The garden in the back of the house is filled with golden flowers that glitter in the sun, and statues that emerge from the ground like ancient warriors.

It was a glorious day of children's laughter in the garden. The sun was in the middle of the ocean blue sky. There was a little breeze that made the temperature just right. The mother was in the garden planting more vibrant flowers in the fertilized, moist soil. The children were playing hide and seek around the statues. The father was at work doing his very best.

The mother's name is Jane, the father is Rob, and the children are Jason, Jake, and Julie. They are all kind to each other, help each other out, and are always there for one another. They were a perfect family.

The next day was very dark, and gloomy. Rob went to work, Jason and Jake went to school, and Julie and Jane were home watching TV. All of a sudden, a howl of tremendous wind flew over the house. The TV went blank and the lights were flashing rapidly. Jane sprang from her chair to grab Julie but she wasn't there. Jane grabbed her cell phone and searched for Julie. She found her in the coat closet with a picture of their family. She had also put some spoons in her pocket from the kitchen. Jane raced down stairs to the basement with Julie in her arms. They hid nervously under the stairs.

The massive wind tore up the grass and demolished the unique statues. The golden flowers were never to glisten again, they were scattered in the destructible winds; the cottonwood trees blew away without a trace. The gravel on the road was picked up by the storm's muscular arms and were scattered all over the front lawn. All that Jane and Julie could hear were bangs and crashes.

After the horrible storm was over, Jane opened her eyes and found they were both trapped under the stairs by a gigantic wall of dirt. Jane pulled out her cell phone and called Rob. Jane's cell phone only rang once and then the battery went dead. While Jane was calling, Julie was busy chomping on her half eaten bag of cookies. Then Julie crawled over to Jane and pointed at the spoons in her pocket. Julie, only two years old, uttered the word "spoons." Jane repeated her saying, "yes spoons."

At that split second, Jane thought of what Julie meant by spoons. Julie crawled to the wall of dirt and used the spoon like a shovel and started digging. She made a little hill of dirt to play with. Jane took a spoon and dug like never before. She got very tired but never gave up because she thought about how horrible it would be to never see her two little boys or loving husband ever again. Every stride was harder and deeper into the dirt until she reached the light or as she found out it was the dark of night.

Jane finally made it; she could see the cool, moon lit sky. Jane grabbed Julie and went up the spooky, narrow tunnel Jane had made. When they reached the top it was monstrous. All that was left of the golden flowers and statues were pedals and a cracked muddy stone head. The front steps lost their silver shine, and the grass was converted to a slimy mud hole. The beautiful cedar shingles were torn and shredded into pieces. Even the cottonwood trees were gone. Jane thought there was nothing left, but then she remembered, she still had a husband and two little boys out there, somewhere, she hoped.

$25 Second Place WinnerUntitled by Stephanie Ryan Elizabeth was gone. She had been gone for a long time. If you asked me, she was dying inside long before she was dead. Dead long before dying. I think we should've seen the warning signs. She was gone before we even realized.

It was raining hard that night. It was a storm I'd remember forever. The lightning shown in Elizabeth's eyes as she got up and changed. I pretended to be asleep. For a while anyway.

"Where are you going, Beth?'' I asked Elizabeth in my quiet 8- year-old voice. "No where, go back to bed" she told me.

She hid what she did from mom and dad. Not from me. I knew, you can't keep many secrets from the 8 year old you share your room with.

"Where are going" I persisted. "Out" she said to me harshly and kindly at the same time. It rained harder. The thunder got louder. I couldn't stand it. "Beth, I'm scared," I told her. " It's just thunder," she said. "I know,'' I mumbled. She stayed with me until I finally fell asleep and then she was gone.

I slept and it rained and thundered for many long hours. A tree limb snapped, falling to the ground with a THUD. I woke up and looked at the clock - 3:04. I looked to Elizabeth's bed, but it was empty. I remembered at that moment, the moment that tree limb snapped, the storm ceased to be, it died over.

The next morning we got a call from the police. Elizabeth had committed suicide. The police called it an OD. She was dead. I cried for days, until I found her journal. I knew I shouldn't have read it but I did.

I read it and knew she was far happier wherever she was. She'd been into drugs for a few years. She hung out with older men and with, who she called, the women of the evening, sometimes partaking in what they did. She got into drugs because she had bi-polar, a depression no one wanted to help her with.

As she got into the depression her friends left her. They didn't want her to drag them down. Our parents pushed what was going on to the back of their heads. As long as she didn't screw up our good name it was fine.

My sister was gone. Died in the storm. I don't think she died of an overdose. She died of being alone. I wish she would have known she'd always have me. The storm was there in my place. There to take her to a better place. At 3:04 she died. The wind and rain took away her soul and washed away her troubles. The thunder pounded as if there were drums in her honor taking her away from pain, from sorrow, from everything.

$15 Third Place Winner"The Storm" by Hannah Whitlow The swirls, the twists, and turns. The dark fallen storm they call her life, withers away as it turns and pulls through the gloom filled streets; clamored up for all to see but not to hear. The anger builds up inside rising to the top, like boiling water over flowing; Until it hits the stove, gone, into the air back down deep inside her soul. Packed hard against the rest of her emotions. Never to be seen or heard of again. So afraid to show emotion, afraid to let her feelings show.

As she sits back in her cold dark corner, the storm builds higher; it grows stronger more power full. Scared she runs. Far away from any one or any thing that's ever tried to get close to her, but most of all; the Storm. She runs into a dark place where she doesn't know where she is. Now for some reason she feels more at home more at ease. In this place she sees but one small flower. All alone. A flower so different, with gray petals, and maroon leaves. She kneels next to it, and then lays down surrounding it. And the flower weeps a sad song. Not just any sad song; one with meaning, one so power full it could take any person or creature, happy or sad and turn them into a soppy mush of sobs and tears. Sad enough to turn sky's dark on bright days.

The girl speaks, whispers to the flower, "why do you sing of such sad things. What makes you so sad?" The flower stops singing and says, " it is not me who sings the song! But it is you who sings through me. To those you cannot reach. Not me. I'm just a puppet in this, life, this ... STORM." The girl runs again as fast as she can, runs far away ... so, so far away. She runs to a rooftop in the bad dark part of town. And she sits there. Not sure of what will happen next. So she stands up and raises her arms in the air like she can fly away. Now I'm going to stop the story, the writing of the girl. The invitation to our life is closed. So, step out of our world. I now hope you know but should not expect you to understand.

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