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Reynolds Middle Writer Wins Thomas Wolfe Competition
Reynolds Middle Writer Wins Thomas Wolfe Competition
Posted on 11/05/2020
Lillie Roberts of A.C. Reynolds Middle wins the Thomas Wolfe Memorial student writing competition.BCS Communications

A.C. Reynolds Middle eighth-grader Lillie Roberts is the winner of the 2020 Thomas Wolfe Memorial “Telling Our Tales” Student Competition. Her short story “Time Frame” employs a unique narrative approach to illustrate the relentless nature of time, following a family through several key life moments.

“What really inspired me to write this short story is how life goes on, time never stops consuming us, every memory, every laugh, every cry, until we are no more,” said Roberts of her writing. “We just have to sit back with a bowl of popcorn and watch our lives unfold and try not to worry about the inevitable.”

English teacher Ms. Amy McCollum was thrilled to learn of Roberts’ award and expects that her writing will have an ongoing impact.

“The first time I read a short story Lillie wrote for a class assignment, I knew she was a talented writer,” McCollum said. “Lillie is a stand out in her writing ability, and I know this will be the first of many writing awards she will receive. She has a command of writing that you might see in a seasoned adult writer, who has spent years learning the craft and art of spinning a tale that can evoke as much feeling into a story that Lillie's ‘Time Frame’ short story has in it.”

The Thomas Wolfe Memorial writing competition was available to young authors in three age groups, including grades 4-5, 6-8, and 9-12. The competition encouraged writers to use their own lives and experiences to write creative fiction, and was inspired by Part IV of Thomas Wolfe’s novella "The Lost Boy."

“It is a big honor to win this contest and it gives me hope that maybe I can be the next Stephen King or JK Rowling,” Roberts added.

"Time Frame" by Lillie Roberts 

Time is a precious thing, it can be as fast as a clear water stream or be as slow as a glacier carving its way through the choppy waters of the sea. I was put on this earth so I could remind you of happy times long past. I hold your most precious memories, printed on waxy paper, protectively between my glass and gilded medal swirls until the time when you decided to slide it from it’s refuge and look down on it with a warm smile, the memory replaying in the depths of your eyes. I stand watch as you live your lives.

A couple moves into the brownstone apartment that is my domain. They sneak kisses between commercials, they learn the importance of each other. Soon they introduce me to a blue eyed baby who soon grows into a blond haired toddler, running around with her hair in pigtails laughing gleefully as her father chases her pretending to be a dragon. The mother watches fondly from the kitchen at the two beings she loves most in the world. I send the girl to school every morning and keep her school pictures safe from the dog with a tail like a whip.

The girl grows older with every passing day until her hair is dyed a bright blue, she fills her walls with posters of boys and bands. Her parents scold her for sneaking out and she scolds them for their parenting. I share their sorrow as the old brown dog gives one last wag and the girl moves away to college. I promise the girl silently to take care of her parents. The woman shrieks over every grey hair and the man comforts her by calling her beautiful and hugging her tightly. The smiles turn to wrinkles and the working hands to blisters. I watch the brown hair turn grey and the blue eyes clouded. The backs stoop with the weight of the world and the voices become softer. Raindrops splatter their windows as the old couple dance slowly to an old song from their past.

I watch the red and blue lights and hear the soft cries of the man who was holding his wife's hand as the medics carried her through the door on a stretcher. I feel his worry as he starts a routine of taking his old tweed coat from the hook and making his way to the hospital to watch over his wife. To ensure he’s always there for her he recruits me to stand by her bedside holding a picture taken long ago of a brown haired woman and man with a squirming toddler between their arms. I see the spikes and lows of her heart beat until they finally go straight. The man rushing through the door, cheeks slick and glistening with tears.

I’m taken home and put back on the shelf now covered in powdery dust. The man paces often in front of me looking at the family picture. The once lively face now still. The girl comes more often now. She cooks and cleans while the man sits with me in his lap smiling through the tears. This became routine until one day the man didn’t get up. The girl came in as usual and made her way to his bedroom only to sob. Again the flashing lights and wailing came through the partially cracked window and again the stretcher was brought in and out.

The daughter came everyday after that bringing with her her husband and moved out the furniture that the browned haired couple once sat on. The mugs they drank their morning coffee out of. The clothes they wore, and the shoes they walked on. One day only bare carpet remains, with the job done the daughter stopped coming by. The walls steadily became duller, the ceiling turned a ugly yellow color and started dripping raindrops like tears. The windows turned brown with smog and rats took up residence in the now empty cupboards. One day the doors' rusty hinges swung open and a chocolate skinned couple swept around the room. The woman had a round belly and a laugh like the tinkle of a bell, the man firm but friendly.

The couple brought in paint buckets and covered the age marks that marred the walls. They reinstalled carpet worn down by years of shoes. Soon furniture sat like statues and the windows let in warm sunshine. Again I sat by in the shadows as the couple lived their lives. Producing two babies. Bringing in a fluffy grey cat that pounced on the beams of sunlight as if they were live mice. One day while dusting the brown eyed woman stumbled upon me. She picked me up gently and looked at me with curiosity written over her soft brown face. She stared into the eyes of the blue eyed couple now dancing and laughing in the soft golden clouds. A smile played on her lips, she turned in search of her husband with me still grasped in her soft hand.

They cleaned me and removed the rust now creeping up my frame, again I could see the house in full clarity. The city outside soon grew up around my little brownstone. Shiny grey buildings rose to the sky and if you squinted just enough you could make out little silhouettes of people rushing from place to place within. I watched the rain turn to snow and back again. The sunlight drifting from one side of the room to the other.

One day the family left the apartment for a day of fun. Unbeknownst to them the oven knob was turned to the top notch. Heat filtered through the room becoming unbearably hot. A crackling noise filled the air and smoke floated lazily along the ceiling. The cat sat watching the kitchen door, a strange orange light filling its green eyes. A lick of flame soon creeped its way into the room, the cat fled to the bedroom. The flame devoured the couch and the carpet then turned to the bedroom, again the cat fled this time to the bathroom. Flames crept up the walls like crude vines. The cat pawed the front door desperately. Soon the ceiling turned orange with blooms of flame. A shout and scream echoed from the hallway, the door flung open and the cat fleed right when the ceiling finally succumbed to the greedy flame and collapsed to the ground a bundle of kindle charred to an ugly grey-black. Again sirens came but this time instead of white medic uniforms these men wore heavy yellow suits and masks of thick plastic. They sprayed the room with a foamy white substance. The flames fought angrily but soon sizzled out in defeat with one last hiss of defiance.

The firefighters swept the burnt shell of the once beautiful brownstone, collecting all that remained of the residents worldly possessions. I was swept up in a large, gloved hand and carried outside to the front green. The blue eyed girl was standing there a hand to her mouth in shock and tears racing down her cheeks. The firefighter looked down at me and back at the girl. I was handed over and the girl clutched me to her chest with a faint sob. Then I was slipped into a pocket book. Through a tear in the fabric I saw what was left of my domain. Black beams littered the ground and charred bricks still clung desperately to their former shape. The house that held so many beautiful lives was gone and destroyed, only seen in memories.

Time is a brutal thing, it never stops, it just rolls forward killing anything in its path. No ones safe from it. You just have to learn to accept your fate and look back on your past with a smile because in the end that's all that matters.

Buncombe County Schools is in the process of reviewing its website to ensure compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Buncombe County Schools does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its education programs or activities and is required by Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 and federal regulations to not discriminate in such a manner. This requirement extends to admission and employment. Inquiries about the application of Title IX and its implementing federal regulations may be referred to the Title IX Coordinator and/or the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. The Title IX Coordinator's contact information is: Shanon Martin,, 828-255-5918, 175 Bingham Road, Asheville, NC 28806.

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