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My 1999 Creative Writing Contest Entry

As I have mentioned previously, I used to do a lot more creative writing in middle school and high school. My emotionally immature parents didn't really support this endeavor, but my teachers encouraged me to pursue penning my typically humorous and entertaining stories.


This is the last truly creative text I wrote for a VERY long time. I was chosen to participate in the Central League Writing Contest on April 23, 1999 as a representative for my high school class.



We had a timed period during which we had to pen an entirely original story by hand (no computers for this!) that included the following terms:


  • red

  • rose

  • tombstones

  • keychain

  • stapler

  • map

  • cat

  • bearded

  • man


While my story is a bit maudlin and dark (don't know why I decided to focus on a funeral...probably because of the "tombstones" prompt), I am still very proud of it.


I remember reading my entry aloud to my mom when I got home and breaking down because I felt for Emily and her grief so terribly. My mom ignored my tears, and I subsequently stopped writing after that except for news articles and school assignments.


Anyway, here's the story. Enjoy!



The Red Rose


Emily walked solemnly over to grieve for her departed father. She had loved him dearly and his death had shaken her into realizing that death can come at any point. She trembled as she walked through the cemetery, viewing from time to time the moss-covered tombstones in her path.


"He lived a courageous life," she said to herself, "and he persisted until the end."


Her world fell apart as she grew closer and closer to her father's plot. She saw the rest of the mourners, but none were so clear as her dear grandfather Sam.


She said to herself, "at least he made it, but for how long will he be able to bear this terrible pain?"


As the minister began the service, Emily was moved to tears. Her grandfather sat down beside her and consoled her. Sam and Emily bravely stepped up to the casket and looked inside. There, the corpse looked peaceful, but to Emily, in grave pain [Ed. note: Pun not intended here, but it is funny to me now!].

Sam placed a single red rose in the coffin. Emily remembered that long ago, her father would garden with his mother. He would tell his mother repeatedly that he thought red roses were covered in blood.


His mother would reply, "No, son. Red roses are for bravery and love and are a symbol of life. Your father would surprise me every year on our anniversary by bringing home a dozen red roses. They are my favorite flowers, and perhaps someday they will be yours as well."


When grandmother died, Father placed a single red rose in her casket and whispered, "These are my favorite too."


When Sam placed the red rose in her father's casket, these memories rushed into her head as quickly as raging rapids.


Emily soon remembered everything her father had told her. Words of wisdom, hope and love filled her head and she felt as though she needed to sit down.


She sat on an old wooden chair, closed her eyes and recalled one of her most vivid memories of her past.


On her tenth birthday, Emily had received many special gifts. None were so special as the rose keychain her father had given her. It was a little pressed red rose, encased in plastic. Emily hugged her father and exclaimed, "I will treasure this for the rest of my life!"


Father brought out another surprise too. It was a treasure map, a tradition of her family on birthdays. The most impressive gift was at the end of the hunt and it was Emily's favorite game.


She pranced through the backyard, searching every nook and cranny for the next clue.


At the end, she discovered a box with holes punched into it. Emily opened her box, and with wide eyes of happiness, she saw a little cat!


The box is something like this one in Egghead


The cat had velvety fur, green eyes and black stripes running down its middle. Emily took one look at the cat and gave it the name Zebra.


Emily ran to her father and hugged him. It was a very exciting day, but father had to sit down and rest for a while. Father was getting weaker by the day.


He had to use a stapler to staple her next birthday card since fatigue had overcome him and he couldn't lick the envelope.


The next years went by too quickly for Emily. She saw her once handsome and strong Father change to a weak and gaunt-faced bearded old man.


When Father was in the hospital, he asked Emily if she remembered her cat and the keychain he gave her. He told her that the cat and keychain both meant life and he gave her all that he could.


Emily whispered, "The cat died and the keychain broke, but when you told me the story behind the rose, I understood what they meant to you and I will treasure red roses forever."


Emily had a tear softly sliding down one cheek as she hugged her father for the last time.


These painful memories swarmed in Emily's mind. She opened her eyes to see a garden not far from the cemetery.


Emily raced over and dropped to her knees to view the roses of red in full bloom. She chose the most vibrant, and began to yank on the stem, ignoring the searing pain from the thorns.


Emily ran back to her fathers [sic] plot, and, when she was close to the casket, picked off every thorn on the rose.


She placed the radiant rose on her father's corpse and whispered, "These are my favorite too."



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