Parker Bohl, 11th - Newbury Park, CA
The captain sat me down in the dining hall and gave me a speech. Crinkling in his hand was an ancient paper folded in fourths.
Between his crooked teeth these words slipped, from pursed lips and quivering breath he spat these earnest sentences.
“Look, look, look- but do not see. Write but never know, be taught, but do not learn. She will speak to ya but ya will not be interested. She will take her crown and offer it to ya, but ya will be unable to perceive its importance. When ya step yer foot off this boat, ya better’ve kept yar head. Nobody can give it back to ya if ya leave it here. The people ya will drift by and spend moments with will not care whether ya’ve maintained yar mind or not, they may even tell ya to stay away from her. Take this paper, go to the address, and do not leave until she offers ya the crown.
“I ‘member when I found out about this. In my life there was hints, and it took a miracle to put it all together. I got to write a letter to her. I knew she could not send me the crown through the mail, so I decided to ask if she could give me the most valuable thing she could send. She did, and Imma give it to you.
“This paper can only be seen once by one set of eyes. I’ve tried to feel the words with my hands, but that never yielded anything. The ink may have worn away, but I dearly hope it hasn’t. I don’t know what she wrote. I never will.”
He put the paper into my hand and closed my fingers around it. Confused, I said “I still have another year-” He shook his head. “No, no you don’t. Fer all ya know ya die tomorrow. Nobody knows it, y’know, when your time is. I can’t believe I’ve made it this long. Ya better not take tomorrow for granted. Read this now, and go there tonight.”
He stood up suddenly and I was by myself, reading this paper. I won’t write it here, as all you need to know is that it ended with an address, and what came before convinced me to go there.
It wasn’t the cleanest place nor the friendliest part of town, but I was off the sea. He was right, when I started talking to her the conversation seemed irredeemably boring. After only a few days of talking I began packing. I closed my door quietly and stood softly on the steps of the stairs. The front door was lighter than I remembered and I opened it with excessive force, slamming it into the wall. My fear that this would wake her up was unfounded, as she sat on the bench outside, waiting for me.
“Does not the crown intrigue you?” she breathed. This was the first time she had spoken about the crown. “I guess it does.” I replied sadly. She was not surprised. “You do not understand the reward, and you do not see the path. I am disappointed at your disinterest, but it is for myself to bear the loss of your opportunity. Not you… Are you truly leaving?”
The question was harder to answer now. I had no idea what this crown was or why I should want it, nor what I needed to do to get it. I did not know if I could ever know how long I would need to stay, so I forced myself to make up my mind. “Yes, I am leaving.”
“Truly?” She asked again. I hesitated- “Yes.” Of course, there was silence. She let me sink into the choice I had made with a sickening moment of regret. “Goodbye then.”
I walked down the street, my next stop just around the corner. I realized I would never see her again. Even if I never get the crown, there was one question I needed to ask. I ran back as fast as I could. She was still there. I stood silently for another moment then opened my mouth. “How do I get the crown?”
She stared. “You get it.” She could see in my eyes that I did not understand. “I mean, you need only to ask.”
I shuffled down the block again and turned the corner. I haven’t ever gone back and I never did ask for her name. To be honest, I don’t remember the address. I’ve written this so that you can avoid my mistake. You need only ask for wisdom to get it. You need only look to find her.
Students 6th-12th Grades