Congratulations to Lyndsey Canini, who won overall in the Youth Poetry category, and third place in the Youth Fiction category.

Springtime Souls, written by Lyndsey Canini, inspired by Arrival of Spring

How do you describe an essence?

Perhaps you try to define its aura,

Using paints whose colours pale in comparison, falling desperately short in vibrancy

Or try to mimic the sound of one’s music that extends beyond the limits of our language

It seems our souls extend beyond the lucid borders of our planet,

Growing and stretching and daring to cross the threshold of scientific boundaries

For our intertwining embodiments of a spring sunrise follow no definition

We answer to none but the sound of our radiating fervour

Our springtime souls crash violently in the whispers of the dewy morning glow

Beams of sunlight fracture and bounce wildly off the fresh gleam that coats our eyes

Our form as fresh as a doe on its new-found legs

Our bodies but a physical manifestation of the season

Nothing but swirling leaves and raindrops and gentle, hopeful smiles tethering us to the Earth

Together, we are more than just people

Together, our light blinds more easily than the sun

We are tied with a thousand knots that are impossible to undo

Our borders are indistinguishable

Mirroring the imperceivable end to the sand when the water rushes up to greet it

Our springtime colours dare to rival the stunning signals of fall, of leaves so vibrant that the Earth pauses its rotation to marvel

We emit colours so new they have yet to be assigned names that can adequately express their allure

A slow dance collision of stars on their journey to becoming a black hole

Our connection alters the course of the history of our universe

We are spinning, gliding, soaring millions of feet into the air

Until our springtime souls are but a twinkle in the newly-warmed morning sky

My Mothers Storybook, written by Lyndsey Canini, inspired by Familiar Space

Each and every one of us has encountered a fairytale at some point in our lives. So many of our childhoods are sprinkled with dazzling tales of beanstalks that shoot miles into the sky, of witches and evil stepsisters and bears that have a preference in regards to the temperature of their morning meal. There is one story, though, that you will not find sheltered between the tattered covers of a well-loved child’s library book.

    My mother gave me this story many years ago. She’d tucked the covers of my bright pink comforter up to my shoulders and had settled herself on the end of my bed, cradling a matching throw pillow with her arms. Now, I was already well-versed in my mother’s personal make-believe creations. It wasn’t unlike her to put down the book before she’d reached the last page and close her eyes, letting her imagination carry on the story to its own limitless accord. Pumpkin carriages would morph into rocketships and hungry wolves turned into steadfast companions. I always loved her stories more than the originals. It was as if I got to carry a piece of her world inside me, a rare ticket to the wild landscape of her mind.

    Outside of her stories, it was next to impossible to get my mother to open up. Her life before I came into the picture was told in nearly empty photo albums, showcasing a poorly-comprised existence. Her parents died before I was born, perishing in a horrendous car crash in their hometown near the shores of Maine that took both of their lives along with my chance at an insight to my mother with them. I have no idea if she has any siblings or relatives. Everytime I would try to bring it up, she would clam up and seamlessly change the subject.

    Sometimes, I will catch her staring out the window, her eyes wide and seemingly speaking wordlessly to the universe. If I stare hard enough from my hiding place, it’s as if I can see a glow around her, like she has traded in her human form for something beyond our world. Occasionally, her mouth will move, but she’ll remain soundless. I have never been able to figure out who she’s trying to talk to. It seems that she’s communicating on a frequency above all mortal understanding.

    It never lasts very long, though, as any sudden noise pulls her out of her reverie and re-fastenes the ties that hold her down to the Earth like the rest of us. No matter how hard I’ve tried to mimic her, my body stays begrudgingly, pain-stakingly human.

    One night, when I was 12, an age typically considered to be far too old for such outlandish stories, my mom padded silently into my room when I was reading a novel before bedtime. I’d long since traded her fables for chapter books, deciding mysteries were far more enticing than legends. Wordlessly, she’d situated herself on the end of my bed. Something about the look in her eyes told me I needed to listen.

    “I have one more story I wanted to tell you,” she’d said, her voice daring to become a whisper.

    I’d put my book down and pushed myself up onto my elbows, something about her tone drawing me in. And so she began:

    “Way back, many, many, years ago, there were two sisters. Twin sisters, to be precise.” Her voice grew in volume, and I sat up completely, propping myself up on my pillows without turning around, as if breaking eye contact would make her reconsider and walk away.

    “These two sisters lived in a small town off the coast of Maine. They grew up in a small, pearly white one-story house that rested snug on a tall cliffside, shadowed by a once-grand lighthouse whose paint had started chipping off from the constant sprays of saltwater. They were as thick as thieves, closer than you could ever imagine siblings to be. Identical twins they were, two sets of curly blonde heads constantly running and jumping and intertwining around the rocks and through the small sea-side town.

“One was never spotted without the other. They shared a desk at school, held hands as they trampled through the market and expelled the same vibrant glow. Their energies seemed to free-flow out of them, mixing into the air around them and seeping into the bodies of other residents. No one could ever pinpoint it, but it seemed as if they were from another universe. Something about the twins surpassed the borders of our understanding and graced us with insight to a brighter, fearless world. Needless to say, they were marvelled at.

“Until one day. No one ever saw it coming. No one could say exactly when the change happened until it was too late. Perhaps everyone was too blinded by their radiance. Maybe no one wanted to believe that this physical manifestation of goodness and hopefulness could ever sour. Nevertheless, as it seems all happy stories go, all good things must eventually come to an end. Their light started to dim. Once bright enough to replace the need for their imposing lighthouse, they had begun to fizzle out, sending out nothing but pathetic sparks barely perceivable in the night sky.

“If you hadn’t known them before, you would have never known that they were twins. One girl still clung to her buttery blonde hair and tanned, sun-adorned skin. The other, however, seemed to shrink away from the light. Her hair had darkened and her face had paled. It was as if she had crawled back inside herself, taking away her vibrancy and tucking it away in a dark corner.

“No one admired them anymore when they passed through the market. No more hand-holding or gleeful exploring. Insteading of jumping and climbing, they sat on the rocks in silence, staring out at the rough, crashing sea for hours on end. No one dared to ask questions. Perhaps the truth was too intimidating.

“Then, one day, the pair lost it’s other half, a duo morphed into a solo overnight. Whatever happened to the darkened twin was never revealed. Sure, stories flew rapidly between neighbours, over fruit stands and book club meetings, but an explanation could never be decided. Only one person knew what had really happened, and no amount of red-hot poking and prodding would bring her to reveal the truth.

“Though she kept her golden locks and browned skin, the remaining twin never stepped back into her self-produced spotlight. Together, they were magic. Alone, she seemed to fall flat. No one ever heard her speak again. They’d catch glimpses of her bloodshot, tired eyes and the slight sag of her shoulders whenever she’d venture into town.

“Until, one day, she too was gone. This time, though, having moved on from the enthralling duet that once-was, not a sound was made at her absence. It was as if the entire village had been gifted a dream. And, as we all know, our dreams have a habit of disappearing when we wake.”

    My mother blinked, tears glistening in her weathered eyes. With a gentle, nearly imperceivable smile gracing her lips, my mother stroked my hair, a blonde gift she’d passed on to me, and left my room, closing the door gently behind her. For what felt like hours, I simply laid there under the rosy light of my bedside lamp. For the first time in my life, my mother’s story hadn’t left me hungry, craving for more of her magic-dusted words.

For once, I finally felt like I had figured out some of the pieces of the puzzle that made up my mother.

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