Congratulations to sophomore Zoey Gast who won the Marshall County Young Writers essay contest for grades 9 & 10. You will find Zoey’s award winning story below.
“Are you ready yet?!” John yells from the living room. “Give me five minutes!” says Annie. It was Valentine’s Day, and John had made 8:00 reservations at Mélisse. The fanciest restaurant in town. Annie walks out wearing the dress John had picked out for her, although he still got butterflies while seeing her come down the hallway.
He felt himself get very warm, and hoped he wasn’t noticeably sweating. John was going to propose tonight. It was planned that after dinner, he would drive to the park they had their first play date at as kids, and propose there.
John and Annie have known each other since they were just little toddlers. Once they got to high school, Annie’s family moved a couple towns down, so Annie didn’t go to high school with John. It wasn’t until adulthood that they were reunited.
“Wow.” was all he could seem to get to escape his mouth after seeing her. Annie says with a smirk, “Pretty lucky guy, huh?” He awkwardly nodded his head. No way could he speak again with the way she looked. He held out his arm, she took hold on the inside of his elbow, and they went off to dinner.
They had a great time at dinner, laughing, reminiscing, and simply enjoying themselves, and the champagne of course. The further on that dinner went, the more and more nervous John felt. He tried his best not to show it, all the while the ring felt like one of those “oversized load” trucks that have the flashing lights, in his pocket. Annie had no clue what would happen that night.
Annie and John both had a wonderful meal, along with many glasses of champagne, and dessert. John wasn’t drunk, but anyone could’ve told you he was too buzzed to drive. Yet, being young and stupid, he drove anyways, and Annie let him. You’d think John would’ve been smarter.
The excitement of getting closer to the park made him drive faster without realizing. The park was in the middle of town, but John drove on the back road that they would walk as kids. A narrow, winding road, without much light, and woods on both sides. Driving on this road was part of the plan to make it more romantic, although this amount of alcohol wasn’t in the plan. He silently rehearsed what he was going to say to Annie in his head as they drove.
John was suddenly disappointed in himself. He couldn’t imagine being too drunk to even remember one of the best nights of his life. He shook the idea out of his head. I’m not that drunk. I’m fine. He thought. Perfectly fine. He drove faster, minutes away from the park. Minutes away, from his whole life changing.
The Next Morning
John woke up feeling funny. He couldn’t remember much from last night, but he knew he proposed because he remembered them both crying. He rolled over, and noticed Annie’s finger wasn’t occupied by the ring. It must’ve not fit, or maybe with my nerves I put it on the wrong finger. While reassuring himself, Annie rolled over and smiled. She saw John’s perplexed look and questioned it.
“What’s wrong?” she asked. “Nothing, I just feel strange. It’s probably just a hangover. Do you remember anything from last night?” Annie laughed. “No, but I know it was a big night. I remember that much. Let’s get some coffee, maybe we’ll remember more.”
“Did you hear sirens last night?” John asked. “I had a dream of nothing but sirens. I didn’t know if maybe we saw a wreck on the way home, or maybe there was one nearby that we heard.” “Now that you mention it, yeah, I did.” Annie said. “Okay, glad I’m not going crazy.” John said with relief.
With that, they began their morning ritual. Nothing much to it, just the average person’s morning. Get up, get coffee, cook and eat breakfast, read the newspaper. The type of morning you see couples have on television.
Both of them ran for the coffee maker. After John got his, he began making Annie’s favorite meal, breakfast casserole. Annie began to take a sip of her coffee, but it spilled down the front of her. John gave her a strange look. “Too hot,” she said. “That’s how it’s usually drank,” John said with a silly smile.
John chopped the peppers, cracked the eggs, browned the meat, prepared the many other ingredients, and put it all in the oven. They sat down across from each other and began reading the morning paper. John read the sports section, and Annie looked at the comics.
After reading the comics, Annie decided to turn on the news. She watched it for a while, mostly weather and big national stories. Then it moved on to the local news. A boy with Down syndrome playing in the band, a house fire, and then a car accident. John had gone to the kitchen to check the casserole, so Annie yelled to him.
“John! Looks like there was an accident nearby! You aren’t crazy after all!” yells Annie. “Turn it up!” John replies. Annie grabbed the remote and turned up the volume so John could hear it from the kitchen.
He could hear the news woman speaking. “Yesterday, February 14, around 10:30 pm, two people were in a car accident on Hank Street. One killed, one discharged early this morning after being checked in the hospital. We can’t give the name of who is deceased yet, but here are the victims. If you have any information on how this accident may have happened, please call 1- 800”- before she could finish the number, John heard a spine chilling scream from Annie. He sprinted into the living room, and there were the faces of the people in the accident. John, and Annie. They stared at each other, both with a question pounding in their heads. Which one of them was dead?