Sarina Howard crossed her fingers on both hands, as she hit the send button. I hope I win, I hope I win, she silently chanted in her head. Just then she caught a glimpse of her hair in the now dark computer screen. She reached up and tugged at the offending strands. Her hair was just like her, too short to put up in a ponytail and too long to just leave. Sarina was way too short for her age and most of the time this didn't bother her that was until someone, usually an adult treated her like a baby instead of the 11 year-old she was. That was one of the reasons winning this essay contest was so important to her. This was the first year she was old enough to enter. Wouldn't it just burn Valerie's britches if I won and she didn't. She's been calling me baby all year at school, we'll just see who is the baby now. Sarina turned of the computer and walked into her room. Now all she had to do was wait, hope and pray she won.
Ten days later the leaders of the colony began reading all the essays for this years contest and at first fast then, slower and slower tossing out the ones that didn't fit what they envisioned for the contest. Some were just silly, others an obvious rewrite of the encyclopedia. This year the leaders were particularly picky. There must be something special about this years winners. After all it wasn't everyday that a colony celebrated it's 150th anniversary. The leaders of Snow knew that somewhere in this pile of essays was "the one" now they just had to find it.
"Sarina, Sarina hey, I've been calling you for at least two minutes. Where is your mind today?" Yelled Gina, Sarina's best friend as she ran to catch up with Sarina.
"Gina, did you enter the essay contest for the snow day?"
"Ah Sarina, you know the older kids always win that after all They have a lot more experience writing than we do." Gina glanced at Sarina. "Oh no, you didn't, you did didn't you. Sarina, some day your going to go too far and one of the older kids is going to get you."
"I know but I just had to try, maybe they won't find out."
"You better hope not. Now what did you get on you math test?"
Sarina was glad Gina didn't push although she would have loved to have another opinion on her essay. It wouldn't do her any good though because it was already sent.
The days wore on and Sarina tried to put the contest out of her mind. As the Christmas Holiday season grew nearer and nearer she began to feel both let down and excited. This was the magical time of the year. The Christmas holiday's and the naming and landing here on Snow fell together and made every child's heart beat a little faster.
Decorations that were traditional but didn't always make sense were appearing all over. Huge white balls stacked up and made to look like people. Lacy silver and glittery "snowflakes" . Odd shaped tree's with balls star's, red and white hooks and many other ornaments could be bought at nearly every store in town. Everyone knew they were fake, no tree on the planet looked like that. The orniments at least made sense. Everyone knew the Christmas story, but what did the funny shaped trees and snow have to do with that? Sarina wondered, actually Sarina wondered alot and worried.
The "snowflakes" really worried Sarina. They looked so big, and she just couldn't imagine them falling lightly on anyone with out squishing them. But all the history books said snowflakes fell. If she won this contest she would know for herself.
"Sarina, come in here." Called her mother from the living area. "You have an official notice here and it won't let me open it. The computer says it needs your password. Now young lady I will be standing right here. So there better be no funny business, understand?"
Sarina stared. "Mom, I think I won"
"Won, what do you mean?"
"I entered the Founders Day essay contest. I don't think they even let the losers know anything so I must have won."
"The only way to know for sure is to open the notice."
Hands shaking so bad that she messed up the password twice Sarina did just that.
Sarina Howard you are hear by notified that your essay won first prize in the Founder's Day Essay Contest. You and your family are to report to Equinox City for your prize. At this time you will be outfitted for the Dome and your winning entry will be read. It will be broadcast for the entire colony to hear and then published in the archives. Sincerely, Bradley Jameson, Matthew Chavez, Jaunita Choe, and Ingred McFarland.
The Founder's Day dawned bright and hot like most days on Snow did. There looked to be rain in the afternoon also to be expected at this time of year. Snow a tropical planet with seasons that consisted of dry and rainy. The planet had been named from orbit because of the time of year the landing was happening. Most of the new settlers were from the Northern Hemisphere on Earth and December meant snow for them. They had bought only one Temperate Dome, that was all they could afford and they hoped to only use it until the planet could be adapted to. Now 150 years later it was used to make the only snow the planet would ever see. Fifty families were being allowed in to experience the first snow. Sarina's family would now be one of them.
"Mom, why do we have to wear these funny clothes?"
"Sarina you know as much as I do after all you wrote all about snow to get us here."
Suddenly over the loudspeaker came "Miss Sarina Howard please step forward."
Sarina smiled at her Mother and Father, Waved at Gina standing in the audience and walked up to read all about snow. A substance she had never seen and was just a little afraid and in awe of. A substance her world was named after. This was the best Christmas ever.
Sarina cleared her throat and began reading.
Snow by Sarina Howard
To me snow means my home and family on this planet we live on but to my ancestors it meant something entirely different. Have you ever opened the refrigerator unit in your house? The first puff of air coming out sparkles with small drops of white. Then the heat makes them dissappear. This is the nearest I have ever come to the cold snow they knew. I have heard about snowmen, snowball fights and just snowflakes. I find myself wondering what they would think of the snow I know. Hot, loud and teaming with life. I hope that they would be proud of what snow has come to mean here and not mourn too much on what it used to mean to them. I wish there was some way of asking them and hearing first hand what the cold snow was like but all I can do is imagine and dream. Dream of a white cold substance I have never felt or seen in real life.
Sarina smiled at this last sentence for now she would have even more to dream about she was going to experience real snow now.
Critique: There are a lot of technical errors—spelling, grammar, structure of the story. The girls sound older than 11. Needs more character development, more action. The plot has a few issues, for example, it doesn’t really make sense that other kids would get her for entering the essay contest. And you’d think they’d have used the dome for snow sooner than 150 years after they landed.
What I liked best: Christmas on a planet named Snow, where there is never any snow. I like that idea.
Publication ready: No. It needs more work.