1st Place

“What do you Fight For?”

by  Madison Comick, age 15


Alina clutched the paper between her hands. It had the typed question from her supervisor, Iris, but no answer. She’d been staring at the question for a week now- “What do you fight for? What are we fighting for?”- and now it was due today. But Alina didn’t have an answer.

She stepped onto the train, put in her fare, and sat down. She opened the paper and stared at the question as though it would cause the answer to just pop up in her head, as if  all of a sudden she’d look up and say, “I’ve got it!”

A girl stepped onto the train and paid her fare, then sat down across from Alina. She pushed her hair away from her face, shrugging off her sweater, revealing a black t-shirt that said in white lettering, “I FIGHT FOR KATE SPADE.”

Alina looked down and stared at the floor, grabbing the ends of her sweater. She’d heard what had happened to Kate Spade the other day. She’d been thinking about it all week, imagining her mom shaking her head and saying, “Everything gone for her… Tragedy.”

She looked back at the girl, who was bobbing her head to some music. I fight for Kate Spade.

Iris had asked last week what the point of the group was. “What are we fighting for?” She’d demanded earnestly. “What are we doing here?”

Alina didn’t know what she fought for. She wasn’t necessarily a fighter. She liked other people to make the plan, the protest, the war, and she’d go along. But even then, she’d find a way to get out of it.

It was pathetic, if you thought about it. Alina didn’t fight for anything. Not for herself. Not for Elliot, when he decided to leave. Not for Parker, when she fell in love with him- she let him go, she let him go to Laurel, with her pretty eyes and smiles. Not for her parents.

She didn’t fight for herself.

She let herself go and fall away. Parker didn’t let her go. Maya didn’t let her go. They fought for Alina, when it wasn’t their fight. It was Alina’s.


Kate Spade didn’t fight for herself either.

Do you want to be like Kate Spade? You build up your life, your family. You fight for that, you don’t give up on that. But you give up on yourself. You let yourself go.

How can you fight alongside an activist group in regards to the community’s when you can’t even fight for yourself?

Iris told them to brainstorm and pick one thing they fight for. “We can incorporate this into our mission,” she said. “We’re activists. We not only fight for other people, for strangers, for our community, but we also fight for each other.”

Alina joined the group three years ago, when she wanted to protest and spread awareness. The first thing Iris told her was, “Activism is everywhere youth is. It’s even in your heart.”

She held onto those words. It meant you didn’t have to join a group to fight. It meant you didn’t have to always create strategic plans and gather people around to fight. She guessed in some cases it meant that, if you were protesting against racial discrimination, for example. But if you protested against your own death, against your own giving up, all you needed was yourself.

What good is the knowledge if you don’t even use it?

Alina stepped up to get off the train. She met the girl’s eyes, and the girl smiled at Alina. She stepped off the train and began walking towards the headquarters, where the board meeting was held. She walked in and took her seat next to Iris, who had already asked the question, “What do you fight for?”

What do you fight for? How can you fight for the right of others to be themselves, the right to live, the right to be like everyone else, when you can’t even fight for your own right to live and be yourself?

One of the reasons why Alina had joined the group was because she wanted to fit in. She wanted to be like other kids who fought, and she wanted to be part of it. There was something powerful about kids protesting, she thought. They were underrated people, and they were different from the adults who protested. Maybe it was the art that went into it all. Maybe it was all the emotion that went into it, that showed how determined they were to fight, how willing they were to get what they wanted. For them, the protest was just the beginning. The beginning of everything.

But look at Alina now, afraid and ready to break.

“What are you fighting for, Alina?”

Alina looked up. “What?”

Iris swallowed a small laugh- Alina was always distracted. “What do you fight for?”

It came out before she could even think, and once she started she couldn’t stop. “Myself. I mean, I fight for my own right to live and be myself. Be happy. I fight for everyone around us.” Alina looked down, a little red because the attention was on her now. “We should use our age and status to our advantage. We’re youth. When we want something, we make sure we get it, because we’re persistent.” Iris was nodding, encouraging her. “So let’s start a march. A protest against giving up on yourself, giving up on what you want and need-”

“Because so many people are doing that now,” Iris finished quietly.

Alina nodded. “It’s good to fight for the society as a whole. But let’s fight for society as individuals. Fight for an individual’s purpose. Don’t die, don’t give up on yourself-” She shook her head. “You get the point. We fight for each other.”

We fight for each other.

Alina then closed her eyes, opening them after a moment to look at the people around her, smiling.

We fight for each other


We’re very pleased to announce the results of our special Teen Zine Writing Contest! The theme was TEEN ADVOCACY. We received some amazing submissions, and we have here our top three winners. Thank you very much to everyone who participated!

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