Our writing contests are geared toward creating fun, competitive opportunities for fans of YEW to expand their writing experiences. We want to take this time and applaud these talented, creative young writers! These folks have courageously stepped into the publishing world, yearning to share their voice. We hope that their writing inspires more readers and writers to create more incredible works. As Slyvia Plath said, "everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”
January - Creative Non-Fiction
'Lunch at Buba Luba's' & 'Parallel'
Lunch at Baba Luba’s
The chocolate course came first
Baba Luba in a house coat of her own creation
Always with a bowl of chocolates
each wrapped in intricate papers
Or shiny wrappers we could smooth our nails
The scaling bears
The little squirrel
Occasionally, a caramel cow
The leftovers scooped into a supermarket produce bag for home
The linoleum floored kitchen smelling of frying
Oil and butter
Blinces on a pan
Salads in yellowing containers
Deda Sasha stirring the fried potatoes I wouldn’t eat
You’re not hungry
I spoke Russian in bites of buttered brown bread
Slathered Armenian on with mayo salad
Forked Ukrainian with napoleon for my second dessert
More always coming home
In a parallel
where my grandparents
And Alexander Meyerovich,
Never boarded a train
Under peering eyes
from Donetsk to Czechoslovakia
On route to Vienna
And Lido di Ostia
Under pretense of going to Israel
But headed to the shores of JFK
No names ascribed in Ellis Island
In a parallel
where my mother grows up
with a front row seat to perestroika
With falling walls
And disappearing bread lines
And rising hemlines
the devochke in Lenin Square
Now like the girls at the Mall of America
In a parallel
where my mother stays
in the Ukraine
to become Ukraine
to become Donetsk
to become limbo
And a parallel of me
boards a train
under dropping bombs
from home to Lviv
under pretense of going to Warsaw
but headed to the shores of JFK
To live a different parallel of my life
October - Horror
I don’t trick-or-treat on Halloween. Not anymore.
I don’t dress up as a witch or a vampire or my favorite character from a TV show. I don’t celebrate.
My mother died on Halloween three years ago, when I was eleven. It was out of the blue and terrifying.
They say she had a heart attack. But I was eleven, and it was Halloween, and I honestly believed that she had been killed by a monster.
Even though I’m older now, and I know plenty well not to believe in monsters, I don’t enjoy visiting my mother’s grave on Halloween.
This year will be no different. I’ll walk to my mother’s grave, and if I’m lucky I might see a couple people. But the walk to River’s Cemetery is a desert when it comes to candy, so there are few trick-or-treaters to run into.
That’s fine with me.
I put on my shoes. Black tennis shoes and a black hoodie. I pull my hood over my head, crossing my fingers it won’t be too windy. It is, of course. With my luck, it’s best not to hope for anything.
I keep my head down while I walk. I don’t care to see the strangely pitying faces of strangers who think they know my story from one look at me.
At some point during the twenty-minute walk, I become aware of a small rock in my shoe. I bend down, frustrated. It’s small inconveniences that get the best of
us, all of us. I’ve learned that over the years.
“Do you need help?” asks a voice. I look up to see a girl watching me. She
smiles; her smile is slightly crooked.
“I’m fine,” I say. “Thanks.”
I stand up and smile reluctantly at the girl, then step around her. She turns, and I can feel her eyes on me, even when I break into a jog.
When I look behind me, she’s gone.
When I reach the cemetery, I’ve managed to work myself into a spiral of anxiety. Something about that girl makes me uneasy.
I swallow my fear and walk confidently down the rows of gravestones. The grass is slightly wet from the showers of the afternoon.
I make my way to my mother’s grave. I didn’t bring flowers this time, but I don’t know why I would. It feels wrong to place life on top of death. Reminding everyone that the flower is alive, and my mother isn’t.
We all die in the end.
A loud thump startles me and I jump, whirling around. “Hello?” I call
Nobody answers. Of course, they don’t; I’m being ridiculous.
I stare at my mother’s grave.
“Happy Halloween,” I mumble, for a lack of better words to say. I never have the right words.
“Happy Halloween,” someone says hoarsely.
I whirl around for the second time, but nobody’s there. “Who said that?” I ask the dark, my voice shaking.
“Nobody,” someone whispers. Something cold brushes my neck and I shudder, terror pumping through my veins with every beat of my heart.
“If this is a prank…” I start to say, but then I realize that every movie about
Halloween ends badly when someone says that.
“Shadows and thorns, the pretty parts are gone, all that’s left is darkness,”
someone sings. “We’ll scrape your bones, you’ll never make it home, we’ll bury you in the garden.”
I open my mouth to scream, but someone has their hand over my mouth. My eyes are wide in terror, and I can’t seem to get my body to work.
“You’re not safe without us, you’re not safe alive, you’ll never be safe, not until you die.”
I whimper, and the hand over my mouth lets go. I open my mouth again, but freeze when I see the figure in front of me.
“I’m home, my dear.”
My mother’s eyes are white like they rolled back into her head, and her
eyelashes are falling off like they’re fake. Her lips are decaying, her dress
covered in dirt and torn. Blood is in streaks across her rotting skin like paint,
and her head is hanging off her neck like she forgot how to hold it up.
I gape at the woman standing before me. The woman who was once my
“Aren’t you going to give me a hug?” she asks, walking slowly towards me.
I finally get my legs to work and make a run for it.
River street turns to dust under my feet, and I stumble. I’m running towards an
“You held my funeral there,” my mother says from behind me. Her voice is distorted, like her vocal cords are rotting too. “You abandoned me, then held a party to celebrate my death.”
I stare in sheer horror at the church before me. A clock is ticking soundlessly, blood dripping down around it, covering the walls.
“Do you remember, my sweet?” asks my mother. “Do you remember how you ate donuts at Mommy’s funeral?”
I can’t move again.
“That’s alright,” my mother growls. “We’ll try again.”
The ground shifts from under me once more, and I’m staring at my mother’s
coffin as she’s lifted into the grave.
“You buried me,
surrounded by strangers,” my mother howls. “You left me to
rot, to decay under cold, damp soil. You left me alone in a crowd of death.”
“I didn’t,” I whisper.
“You did,” my mother says in my ear. “You didn’t care.”
I whimper as she slides one cold hand over my throat.
“See how you like it when they all move on without you,” she says. “See how
you feel surrounded by awful strangers, cold and alone in the dark. Dig your way out of your grave, and when you finally understand, you will find me again and
we will haunt the streets together.”
Her hand tightens around my throat, and I choke.
“But you must first know what it is like… to die.”
August - Science Fiction
Robert G. Olthoff
She had escaped. But now wasn’t the time to rejoice, now was the time to run. Three years she had been trapped in that nightmare. Three years she was tortured, interrogated, abused, and isolated because unlike others, she refused to kneel. Three years she had been planning, replanning, and preparing for the day of her revenge. On the day of her escape, she had finished a communicator that could send a message to the entire world about what was going on behind closed doors. As she made it into the outside world, she tried making the communicator work, but there was too much interference. She had to get to the sea. She ran westwards towards the sun setting on the golden sand. As she was running, bullets flew by her head, grazing her cheek. Making her escape she accepted that she may not make it out alive, as the information she possessed would be disastrous to her captors. As she made it to the beach, she sent out her message through the machine, just before she felt several sharp stings strike her back. The next instant, she saw a man holding a large amount of balloons, very closely resembling her late father. He walked over to her and gave her the balloons, saying “Be Free.” She grabbed the balloons and began to rise into the sky. But as she rose higher, she saw the men who were chasing her surround a body on the ground, its back peppered with wounds and a broken device in its hand.