Alison Lam, Edward R. Murrow High School
Third Place: Prose
They were no prince and princess, and they definitely didn't live the fairy tale life. They were both sixteen. She was the daughter of a man who was the owner of one of the biggest companies in New York City and he worked at a grocery store that just happened to be a block or two down. The building of the company was located in the heart of Manhattan. Her father was always away on business trips around the world, but everyone who was around the place knew something bad was going on behind the doors of the big building. She rarely showed herself, but whenever she did, you could see the slight bruises here and there. One could already guess the owner was an abusive father.
Whenever she had the money, she would go to the grocery store to buy something, anything, to eat. Whenever he saw her at the grocery store, she had a smile plastered on her face just looking at the things she could buy. He knew who she was, he knew she could buy whatever she wanted, and he couldn't understand why she would always show up at the grocery store with so much happiness that it seemed to just radiate off her. Then he started seeing the black and blues, and that's when he realized her life probably wasn't any better than his.
It was the holiday season, wintertime was approaching and the weather was chilly. She was at the store again, and in an effort to start a conversation, he offered her a free cup of hot chocolate. She hesitated at first, but once the conversation started rolling, she realized they had a lot in common. The more they talked, the more secrets were coming out. She found herself visiting the grocery store more often just to vent, to talk. He found himself telling her about his parents' car crash that left him orphaned. Even though they hadn't been friends for long, they considered each other best friends because of the things they talked about. There was just this trust between them – her telling him the secrets and him keeping her secrets safe.
Eventually she told him about her father and the physical abuse he'd been putting her through. She told him that there wasn't as much abuse now compared to when she was younger because he was always away. At first, he tried to get help but she would refuse. He decided to respect her for the time being, and in the end, she gave in and went to a professional. She felt empowered because, for once, she was choosing what was right for her and that was telling people what has been going on for the longest time. When her father came back from his business trip, the police were at his office. He ended up spending some time in jail for the years of abuse, and her aunt became her legal guardian. Her aunt also took him in as her own, and he would call her "aunt", too.
They were practically big brother and little sister. He helped her through the tough times, and he showed her that there was this thing called equality in the world. It's just that you had to find it. They would buy each other food to make sure neither went hungry. They would go ice skating at the Pond at Bryant Park to see the Christmas tree that was on display. They'd walk around 5th avenue to look at the holiday decorations and window shop. On their lazy days, they'd sit at home and watch old movies in the living room with their aunt while drinking some hot chocolate. He still worked at the grocery store and the boss even hired her part-time. During their breaks, they would take random food from the store as their lunch. The boss didn't mind. In this tough city they found a best friend in each other, their own silver lining.