February Writing Challenge: Honorable Mentions — Karolyn, Madeleine Christensen, Natalie Kovach, and Isabella Sward

These entries from February'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 "February Writing Challenge."

Karolyn
23
Estonia

The Girl with the Red Scarf

Flushed cheeks are a result of blood vessels dilating because of a sudden raise in body temperature.

In my case, they were a result of me seeing you. In your case, a result of the sharp cold air that you had escaped from by stepping into my kitchen. The snowflakes on your hair and eyelashes hadn’t yet started to melt, and I wished so badly that I could kiss every single one of them away. That deep desire must have reflected in my eyes because you stared at me intently as if waiting for me to open my mouth and say what I was thinking.

I blinked a few times and smiled.

“How’s your throat? And your lymph nodes?” I asked, trying to lead my thoughts onto a safer course.

“The right one is slightly larger, as always. I’m fine,” she responded with a familiar smile.

It was our own little joke.

It was then that I noticed I could actually see that lovely neck of hers, meaning she was not wearing a scarf. I frowned at the thought, the slight grimace on my face getting her attention.

“You’re going to get sick.”

“Maybe.”

I stepped closer, and something in her eyes shifted for a moment. As if she was ready to pull away. Or lean in closer. A part of me wanted to find out which option she would choose, but instead I did what I had first planned. I unwrapped the scarf from around my neck and carefully tied it around hers.

“But now you will be cold!” she tried to protest, knowing even as she was saying those words that it was pointless.

“I’m fine.” I mimicked her earlier response. Taken away by instinct, I kissed her cheek and pulled away quite quickly with a small smile on my lips.

“It matches your cheeks anyway,” I lightly claimed while grabbing her cold fingers and pulling her back outside with me.

 

 

 

Madeleine Christensen
14
USA

The Girl with the Red Scarf

“I see you,” I whisper to her. She blinks and let’s out a breathe that looks like cigarette smoke. Her auburn hair matched her long eyelashes that complimented her cheekbones.

“I see you,” she replies in agreement, her voice soft and rustic. It was snowing, allowing us, just for a fleeting moment, to believe we were in a fairytale. I want to tell her I love you.

“You shine too brightly,” I say instead, my hand shoved in my pockets of my coat, mimicking hers. The faintest smile rests on her lips.

“You’re too tall,” she states, maybe playing along. Her eyes are the color of the clouded sky above. I love the clouds because of her.

“You’re too adventurous,” I declare just above a whisper, instead of Let’s see the world together.

“You’re too charismatic.” This time she replies with a small laugh, and I’m overcome with the urge to tell everyone about her smile. It was silent, maybe because I can’t think of anything she is too much of.

“You make me want to fly,” I say after a moment. She takes a step back with a mischievous smile. I subconsciously take a step forward.

“You play my strings just right,” she replies, adding another step between us before I gain it back. She starts to take rapid steps back as I hesitantly follow her. Her smile grows wider as she turns and runs, arms outstretched like the wings of an airplane.

Before I run after her, I watch her smile like this isn’t our last time seeing each other, like it isn’t our last time to tell each other the things we won’t be able to. I hope she knows that I’ll remember her always, even if I grow old and my memory slips, I’ll always remember her as the girl in the red scarf. I start to run after her, but it’s hard because of the 2-inch snow and thick boots, or is it because I’m afraid that I’m chasing her away instead? “I see you,” I whisper to her.

 

 

 

Natalie Kovach
18
USA

The Girl with the Red Scarf

 

she. she the girl with the red scarf.
the girl with the red scarf,
the one that left rain-scented clues & muddy footprints.
the girl that made pancakes in her boxers
& laughed when she spilled them all over your bed.
the girl that loved others substantially more than herself;
and you loved her substantially more than anything else.

her. her the girl with the red scarf.
the girl with the red scarf,
the one that kissed like a clumsy fool & never shared.
the girl that poured a bottle of wine into one glass
& danced with no shoes on.
the girl that stood out in a crowd like a flower amongst thorns.
and the only thing you saw in a crowd.

me. me the girl with the red scarf.
the girl with the red scarf,
the one that hid behind bright colours & deceptive smiles.
the girl that cared too much
& not quite enough.
the girl that drowned in teardrops and ocean the colour of her eyes.

and then it was you, you.
you the one who drowned himself in her red scarf
when it was the only thing that was left.

 

 

 

Isabella Sward
17
Australia

The Girl with the Red Scarf

She looked at the scarf with a sort of hatred that wasn’t truly hatred at all. It was made of the finest silk and was the colour of a pigeon blood ruby. To say it was stunning was an understatement. When she’d touched the scarf, it had felt like the down of a duckling– so soft and delicate. Just by looking at it, you could tell it was expensive and rare. It was a shame that she had grown afraid of what it represented.

It wasn’t that she was ashamed of her religion or where she came from; it was the opposite. She was proud of her heritage and what she believed in. It was, however, how people treated her because of it that she was ashamed of.

The girl had stopped wearing her hijab long ago, hating the way people stared and whispered about her and, on the occasion, screamed at her. So she had stopped wearing the khimār in public, although she felt naked and exposed without it. The kids at school had started treating her better since the decision, and though she was happy to finally be making friends, it pained her that it had to happen at such a cost.

So when the look of disappointment at the birthday present crossed her face, it was only half an act. Part of her adored the scarlet beauty that lay in her lap, the other part despised it. She looked up only to see her parents looking back at her with concern.

“You don’t like it, do you?” her mother asked with clear disappointment in her voice.

“No, I do. It’s just, I don’t wear the scarves anymore, remember?” the girl replied, looking sheepishly at her Mum.

“I remember. I just don’t see why you must change yourself to meet other people’s expectations. If the girls you spend time with now really were your friends, they would have respected you and your beliefs, not expect you to bend to theirs,” her mother replied with a fierce tone.

The girl looked down at her lap again, relishing the sight of the scarf.

“I just want to fit in. I don’t want to be ‘that lonely Muslim girl.’ I want to be the Muslim girl with friends,” the girl answered.

“But you do not have to change in order to have friends. Wear the scarf today, you’ll see. You may be surprised at how accepting people can be,” the girl’s father responded.

So the girl readied herself for school, shaking with thick anxiety and anticipation. Her brain was filling her mind with terrible scenarios of how her friends might react. It scared her more than anything.

She stood in front of her mirror wrapping the scarf masterfully around her head and neck. She had to admit, the scarf looked incredible on. The dark red complimented her caramel eyes and bronzed skin perfectly. She looked at her clock; if she didn’t leave now, she would be late for school. Grabbing her bag, the girl rushed downstairs and ran out the door, yelling goodbye to her parents.

The girl walked into school with five minutes to spare. As she walked through the corridors, she noticed only a few people stared at her, but most barely noticed her change.

The girl spotted her group of friends standing near her locker, talking and laughing. She felt the knot in her stomach tighten as she approached them.

One of her friends noticed her, and without hesitation ran up to her and gave her a hug. The rest of her friends followed, shouting a chorus of ‘Happy Birthday.’ The girl smiled, embracing her friends tightly before letting them go.

“Your scarf,” said one of her friends, “it’s stunning!”

Biting back surprise, the girl grinned at her friend, explaining it was a birthday present. As the bell rang for the start of class, the girl thought back to what her parents told her that very morning. Sometimes you must be brave and have trust that people will accept you for who you are and not who they want you to be.

 

 

 

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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