August Writing Challenge: Honorable Mentions — Jalyssa Nieves and Ashley Ward

These entries from August's challenge were selected as Honorable Mentions. Those who completed  this challenge are now encouraged to share their stories in the comments section of the "August Writing Challenge."
Jalyssa Nieves

The Lonely Hill

The silence enveloped me, just as it always did. I had almost gotten used to it, and I was so close to being happy. But then someone around me would tell a joke. I’d read their lips but never in enough time to understand what they were saying, forcing me to look around the room and gently smile while everyone held their stomachs from the laughter. I so badly wanted to experience a laughter that brought tears to my eyes and pain to my belly. But I’d started to give up hope that that would ever happen again.

Blaming other people didn’t help me feel better because I knew it wasn’t their fault that I was deaf. Sure, they could have learned to sign, but it was not my place to ask them to do so. They shouldn’t have to feel obligated to include me in things, even though it hurt that they clearly didn’t want me around.

I just had to learn to cope with this new life that I’d been given. The life where I lay on the grass with the sun shining in my face. The life where the birds soared high up in the sky, making absolutely no sounds. The life where I was experiencing the nature of the hilltop all alone, when I used to come up here so many times before with the friends that can’t even remember my name.

Lonely hill, lonely me. We seemed to have been destined for each other. Maybe its grass longed to be touched by my nimble fingers. Or maybe its butterflies wanted an arm to lay upon, which just so happened to be mine. Better yet, maybe its large, lone oak tree craved to be ventured by this thirteen-year-old girl with no one to love her.

But it didn’t matter what the hill craved, because I knew better than to judge. I would make sure to give it whatever it wanted so long as it never left my side. The hill had become my last friend, and I couldn’t bear to lose anyone else. The lonely hill, the abandoned butterflies, the isolated oak tree, and the friendless little girl. We made such a beautifully lonesome group, didn’t we?



Ashley Ward

A Touch of Hope

Cam’s head lays tucked in the curve of my neck. Her hair is soft against my skin, and I hear her voice tremble as she speaks. We’re out here, laying in the freshly sprinklered grass. She lays on my jacket to keep her velvet dress from the dewy grass. I, on the other hand, can already feel the water soaking through my shirt. “Hey, Aidan,” she says, looking at me intensely. Her eyes stare deep. But suddenly, her expression changes. “I’m stealing your shoes!” She effortlessly pulls them off my feet, laughing. “Here, you can have mine,” she says, tossing me her dress shoes. She rubs the blisters on the backs of her heels, and I grin reluctantly. “Fine,” I say, hanging the shoes over my toes. She laughs at me, and I smile, putting my head closer to her once again.

This might seem like a romantic gesture to some, but laying next to my best friend on the grass, Romance is the last thing I want.


I think romantic love is the most shallow kind.

Maybe that’s biased of me to say, but I have my reasons to think so.

Romantic love isn’t just someone loving you for your soul. It’s loving your appearance too. And once your smooth skin goes away or your twinkling eyes go away, the attraction or “spark” is gone.  No longer is it “romantic.” And once the romance dies, the relationship breaks off, and both people are left feeling empty, looking to fill that void again.

But true, deep, friendship — oh, you love someone for their soul. Not their face.

Cam and I lay out on the grass. She looks at the stars, telling stories. I look at her — and I mean really, really look at her — past her deep blue eyes and fair skin, and I know she still has sorrow left in her. We’ve both been broken-hearted.

Suddenly her mood changes, her happy story ends, and her smile was merely temporary. She tucks her head close to my neck so I feel her warmth.

“I hope we aren’t using each other to fill in for the people we lost,” she whispers, staring at the stars.

I whisper back, “I’m not replacing anyone, you know that. You are your own person.”

Cam looks at me, straight in the eye. “I’ve never done anything like this since… you know… him…” and her lip trembles. “The thing is, I just hope I’m not using you to replace someone.” She buries her head deeper into my neck in attempts to hide her face. But, I feel her breathing go heavy as she suddenly begins to cry.


A Romantic relationship is the most cruel. It starts off as superficial attraction, looking at someone’s pretty face, and then it gets deep — if you’re lucky, that is. It tricks you with kisses and touches and lust. It’s a dagger cutting deep in your chest, and when you pull it out at the end, your heart collapses in on itself, bleeding. Humans were meant to bond, to connect — not break apart. Her hot tears spill onto my shirt, and I hold her to my chest. I don’t love her in a romantic way, and she doesn’t think of me like that either. To me, she’s my sister, and I, her brother. And a brother won’t love you just for your “pretty face.” A brother loves you for your soul straight away. From the start, I found joy in her spirit, and our bond is something I want to last forever. Together I hope we grow and stay forever. Eventually, her breath slows, and her eyes open, no more tears. We look up at the stars above, my arm still around her. I know it will all end up ok. Maybe it’s not passion, maybe it’s not kisses and roses, maybe it’s not a romance, but I have hope in this friendship. Sparkles fade, laughter changes, but a pure heart stays the same.

And that’s the kind of true love I believe in.


Germ Magazine guest author
… is a contributing guest author for Germ, which means the following criteria (and then some) have been met: possessor of a fresh, original voice; creator of fresh, original content; genius storyteller; superlative speller; fantastic dancer; expert joke teller; handy with a toolbox; brilliant at parties; loves us as much as we love them.



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