Young Readers League 2016 Writing Contest

Category 2 (Age 12-14)

3rd place


by Asher Follett
14 years old (Grade 9)
La Canada High School


    Everyone knows that the Infinite Circus is the best in the world. Performer hopefuls travel thousands of miles and sit through hours of grueling auditions only to be turned away. It’s a dream to be in a room with the Ringmaster himself, to have his full attention as you pour your very heart and soul into the most important performance of your life.

    A performance I’m about to give.

    I cross the stage in pitch blackness and calm my breathing as I face an audience I cannot see.

    A blinding spotlight switches on without warning, focusing on me.

    “State your name and ability,” an unknown voice orders.

    “My name is Athena Sapir,” I say.

    A pause.

    “And your ability?”

    Even though I rehearsed my response, my voice shakes as I reply, “You’ll see that I can’t even put it into words.”

    “Proceed, then.”

    I swallow and close my eyes, extending my arms. For a moment, nothing happens, but then slowly, magically, tendrils of light inch from my palms, shifting colors as they coil towards the ceiling. They lengthen and brighten until sweat beads on my brow and the taste of iron coats my tongue, but when I open my eyes, it’s worth it, for my strands of light bathe the room with beauty, illuminating the awestruck faces of the audience with a power brighter than the sun itself. I cup my hands, forcing the light into one enormous, pulsating ball, and raise them above my head. The strands erupt into an explosion of multicolored stars that shower wonder down onto the open-mouthed people below.

    Panting, I lower my hands, waiting breathlessly for their verdict. A single man in the center of the crowd – the Ringmaster – rises, and though he doesn’t speak, I see the answer in his face.


Contest info:

Tell us something about a new character joining a magical circus. What is their special ability? How did they come to join the circus?

Special thanks to our judges:  Allison Hill (Vromans), Nick Smith (Pasadena Library), Shauna Redmond (Pasadena Library), Tiffany Duenas (Pasadena Library), Jean Penn (Pasadena Library)

Sponsored by the Friends of the Pasadena Public Library

To view more stories from the contest, view the list: