Scholastic Writing Award Winner: Price of Life Price of Life Scholastic Silver Key in Writing By VSA Student, Grade 10 When I was young, a phrase was passed from mouth to ear. “Time is money.” Three simple words that could would mean so much to an innocent, immature child. Everything costs time. Going to school, hanging out with friends, taking a test in school. Time is something to be invested and carefully spent. And once it’s gone, it’s not coming back. Like a screenshot in a movie, time sat still. I was laying in bed, listening to music. It was guitar music and usually helped me fall asleep. But today, something wasn’t right. My pillow was knobby, and it felt like I was combing through an unruly thicket of blankets and duvets. The sounds coming from my speaker were not delightful and soothing, but discordant and abrasive, like a mob of angry cries. Each time I looked at my clock, the numbers seemed to lie. It felt like only 30 minutes had passed, but no. It’s 4 AM. I have to wake up in two hours for my first day of high school. Something about waiting for so long had made time irrelevant. I was restless and time had no meaning. Just 8 hours ago, I was finishing my summer homework, stressing about finding my way through the halls. Now I was going to live through it. Picking myself up, I splashed my face with water and slammed the door, ready to reembark on my journey to my school where I would see my friends brandish their new trendy outfits and talk about what was happening in the world. Sophomore year: my first year of high school where I would experience life without being hidden behind a screen. But it was also terrifying. I wanted to stay home and pretend like I wasn’t a teenager getting ready for college in a few years. Just a few years ago, my world was running through the fields and playing tag with friends, but now my crayons and novels have been replaced by #2 pencils and college textbooks. When I was nine, I spilled a bucket of paint on the driveway. It was pink and would leave a mark on the black concrete for many years. It was a mark of my childhood and no one would bother to touch it. It was that same pink that would cover my bedroom for the next seven years. There was also a clock. It was a small, purple clock that looked over my entire room. Every morning I would look up and watch time slowly melt with each rotation of the hands. Each year my room would change. Whether it was the outfits or the drapings, nothing ever stayed. However, the only thing that would stay was the pink on the walls. When I was eleven, my parents decided it was time for a renovation. I threw out most of my belongings that had been with me for years and replaced them with stylish, more modern decorations like the elegant white lamp on my desk. I spent countless hours staring at that harsh, white light the bulb emitted while my eyes scanned and absorbed millions of words each day. Eventually, the hours blurred into years as the words melded into an alloy of essays and documents. Time was a concept that I paid no mind to. Until high school started. High school came as a shock to me, like a slap to the face after a deep sleep. Just 5 years ago, I was a fourth-grader. And now, I had to worry about things like GPA, honors courses, and teacher relationships. It was a race against time, and deadlines were approaching faster than I could imagine. By then I paid no mind to my surroundings. The only thing I could focus on was getting my emails sent out and my essays submitted before the cursed 11:59 PM deadline. Like water slipping through my fingers, I couldn’t hold onto the comfort of time. The ticks of my purple clock sounded like harsh announcements staring at the familiar but haunting white ceiling. My childhood years are behind me along with my tiny dresses and old backpacks. I want to grab onto them and thank them for being with me for so long, but their preciousness fades as I move on. These inanimate, dusty objects. Withered and broken, yet never completely gone. And I’m selfish for believing that they could stay. It hurts to let them go, but it pains me, even more, when they stay. The vessels of my cherished memories. I have school tomorrow. My backpack is filled with textbooks and graph paper. My pillow is fluffy, and my music is gentle. It’s 4 AM. Maybe I won’t go broke.