Thanks to everyone who entered my “Awkward” writing challenge! I got so many great entries, it was almost impossible to showcase only three. Weirdly, it was really a pleasure to read through all your depictions of this incredibly awful feeling. Additionally, I was inspired by the fact that many of you embraced awkwardness as a positive thing.
Check out some of my favorites below. Thank you again to everyone who entered, we will post another challenge soon. I can't wait see what you all come up with next!
- By Ainsley Shay
Pick me. Pick me. Pick me.
My hand can't get any higher, and I’m sure my crossed fingers are wrapped so tight they’ll have to be surgically separated.
"Miss Bailey, you seem quite eager. Why don't you be our first presenter?" says Mr. Sputnick.
Instant terror descends and settles comfortably in my belly. Just get it over with. Two minutes, that’s it, then instant relief. Two minutes. Taking a deep breath, I gather my notecards, my courage, and head to the front of the class. I’m not going to throw up. I’m not going to throw up. Just picture them all naked, isn’t that what everyone always says? Oh, God, Tim Riley, so don’t want to imagine him naked. Ugh!
After the last word is said, I let out the air that's been trapped in my lungs for what seems like eternity. The taste of relief is sweet until I look up and see twenty mouths gaped open.
What? Why are they looking at me like that?
"Ah, um…thank you, Miss Bailey. That was…educational, but the topic was propagation as in spreading beliefs into a new region, not propagation as in the act of reproduction.”
Being first sucks.
What I really liked about this one was the pacing. Despite its brevity, it was a real story with a beginning, middle, and an end. . .with a great punch line. What's also great about this story is that it portrays awkwardness in two different ways. I love that the narrator's initial nervousness about giving the presentation misleads the reader, so that the ultimate reveal--which shows the truly awkward moment at play here—is a surprise. Great job!
I stare down at my naked, shivering body and groan.
Mental note: Get towel before shower.
I tiptoe from the bathroom, down the empty hallway. Stacey’s room is a
few feet away. But just as I take two steps, I hear a voice coming up
the stairs behind me.
I make a quick decision and burst through closest door. I press my ear
against the cool wood and listen as the voice fades away. Just as I am
about to continue my journey, I hear a shuffling noise.
I turn slowly to see the sleepy eyes of my biggest crush and Stacey’s
twin brother, Connor, laying in bed. His eyes widen and he graciously
I scan the room quickly to find something to hide behind until I see
his open closet. I trip over my fumbling feet and fall face down—or
ass up, onto the carpet.
“Are you alright?” Connor says, with a hint of a smile in his voice.
My face flushes. “Yes,” I say meekly. “Just give me a sec please.”
“You can have as many secs as you need,” he says. “Er, I mean. Well
you know what I mean.”
Hilarious, Kate! Again, this is a very short story that still conveys a great and distinct sense of different characters. Even though we only get two lines out of his mouth, we can tell that Connor is a basically good guy, with a good sense of humor (so basically perfect!). It's funny, relate-able (I ALWAYS forget a towel when I shower some place new!), and really. . .well, awkward!
⁃by Sallie D. Mazzur
My eyes refuse to open. I am standing in the middle of the courtyard on campus, wearing my favorite white summer dress, delicate sheer lace detail lining the trim. My fingers grip the sides of the tray in front of me, knuckles straining against the plastic, practically numb from holding on so tightly. I feel it dripping slowly through my hair, down the front of my dress, sliding further down to pool around my feet, becoming drenched in it. I’ve become a live wire encased in liquid, fearing an explosion, trying to refrain from letting it escape, scratching at the insides of my chest, clawing its way out into the open. My composure slipping, I feel tears begin to add to the already cool water flowing down my body, showcasing my embarrassment. I feel their eyes on me, painful goose bumps forming on my skin as if their gaze was causing an allergic reaction. A chill runs through my body as I hear gasps surrounding me. I drop the tray and wrap my arms around myself, laughter and cat calls ringing in my ears, slicing through my self-control and shredding any dignity I could muster up. I cursed myself for not wearing a bra that day.
I love that this one emphasizes awkwardness as a feeling, not just a set of circumstances. Sallie describes each moment, each physical aspect, in excruciating detail, with some inventive language and vivid metaphor. It's also great that she defuses the tension somewhat at the end of the paragraph by adding a humorous detail. It makes it even more relate-able, and all the more traumatizing!