Young Readers League 2016 Writing Contest

Category 2 (Age 12-14)

2nd place

By the Light of the Fire

by Teresa Fundter
14 years old (Grade 9)
La Canada High School

The air was laced with smoke and ash, sirens wailing. The towering tent belonging to the circus now lay on the ground in ashes, the only thing remaining: the scarred metal skeleton. Firefighters in their bright yellow outfits asked the ring leader what had possibly caused the fire. The ring leader, Nicholas, stood there in shock, saying, “I don’t know, I don’t know.” until he snapped.

“I. Don’t. Know.”

Nicholas watched his circus fall apart, his dreams with it.

It was warm, too warm on a winter night. The ashes mimicked snow drifting back towards the ground to alight on the lashes of the little boy standing amidst the remains of the tent. Nicholas strode towards the little boy before anyone else could see him.

“Hey there, little man.” Nicholas said. “I’m Nicholas, the ring leader. And you are…?”

“Cameron.” the gaunt little boy said firmly. “My name is Cameron. I’m sorry for burning down your tent.”

“Okay, Cameron. How did you burn the tent?” he asked.

The orphaned boy scuffed his shoes in the dirt. “I have this… this thing. I guess you could call it a power. I can summon fire. Look, watch.” He opened his palm and scrunched his face hard, as if his intense gaze was going to light a fire itself. To Nicholas’ surprise, a small fire bloomed in the boy’s hand.

“Put it out, now. Some people might be afraid of that.” The flame winked out. “But I think I can help you. You see, there are special people like you at my circus. We can help you learn how to control your power and give you somewhere to stay. What do you think?”

Cameron, with nothing to lose and no one to tum to, replied. “Yes.”

“Welcome to the circus, Cameron.”

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: