The Osceola News-Gazette is posting the works of the Osceola Library System’s Lit Mag 2019 winners. Young authors were invited to submit original works of up to 1,000 words to be judged by a panel of published authors. Subject matter in their poems and stories spoke out about gender, race, love, death and identity. We hope you enjoy these talented young writers.

1. Minerva Weissman

Minerva sat up in her bed. What was that sound? What had awakened her?

She glanced quickly at the watch sitting on her bedside table.

7:00 am.

Must have been the mailman.

The space beside her was empty. Peter must have already gone to the barn, working with the animals.

Minerva temporarily savored the exquisite feeling of warmth inside her four-poster . . . and then her mothering duties caught up with her.

“Mommy,” called a small voice from the room one door down from hers. “Mommee!” This time more urgent.

Minerva sacrificed her comfort and arose to greet her young son. “Good morning, Tommy.”

The young boy, standing up in his small bed, leaning against the safety rail, collapsed in his mother’s arms as soon as she lifted him off the bed.

“Eat?” he asked before snuggling into her strong embrace. He lifted one chubby arm and buried his hand in the soft hair around her neck.

Only a child could make me get up so early, she thought.

As they entered the farmhouse kitchen, Minerva opened the windows, letting in a few moths, and breathed in deeply the scent of the morning dew. Setting Little Tommy down in his highchair, she began cooking the fresh eggs and bacon from their own farm, enjoying the solitude.

Soon enough, she knew, her daughter Alexandria would come down for breakfast. Peter would return from the barn, either grim about the cow not giving enough milk, or jubilant over the number of eggs he had gathered. Now was the only time she’d get by herself today. And she didn’t mind Little Tommy sharing it.

The house began to stir as the sun climbed in the sky.

Simultaneously, Peter and Alexandria entered the kitchen from opposite sides. The few seconds that Minerva had to herself were over. The day had begun.

2. Peter Weissman

Peter Weissman was an outdoorsman. In college he had planned to become a naturalist. But then he had married Minerva Weissman, and his plans had changed. Now he was raising his family on a farm. At least, as he always told himself, he had the farm, and the animals. If he couldn’t have his dream, at least he had something close.

Leaving the barn, he took a moment to savor the late summer morning still glistening under a blanket of dew from the night before. The stand of regal oak trees beside the house stood tall, dwarfing everything around it. Here moss grew nurtured by their shade, and moths and butterflies danced together. He spotted a rabbit, hiding in the underbrush. All this Peter observed with great care, his eagle eye taking in everything. How he loved his morning ‘walk with nature,’ as he called it. He hadn’t missed this daily ritual in nearly a decade.

It was good for him, too, or so the doctor said. In truth, Peter didn’t really care about what the doctor said. He hadn’t been born yesterday. He knew that, eventually, he would die from the cancer. And he also knew that nature could heal him, little by little. And so, he lived life today as if it was his last day, with nature giving him strength.

Minerva didn’t know about the cancer. The news was only three days old, and he didn’t want her to worry. There would be time for worry when they knew more.

3. Alexandria Weissman

She had always been a quiet one, Alex. Always had her nose buried in a book. Lewis Carrol. J. M. Barrie. Mark Twain. These were her friends. They had given her pages full of lovely and interesting adventures. For real life was no adventure, or so she saw it.

In truth Alex’s life was interesting. She lived on a farm. Her older brother was in the army. But to a girl of twelve, these things were just typical. Everyone Alex knew lived on a farm, and almost everyone she knew had a relative fighting in the war. Her life was boring. Of that she was certain. Alex’s only “exciting bits,” she said, were her letters from Robby. Those, of all the things she had read, were the most exciting. Imagine, living in a faraway camp full of gruff soldiers! And fighting the Nazis . . . now that was exciting. Call her naïve or selfish, but Alex knew that her real reason for wanting to fight was that she’d be with her beloved older sibling.

Robby was a role model for Alex. Always a daredevil, he had climbed trees that made cats scared. Caught poisonous snakes. Played pranks on the town. And now he had joined the military.

Sighing, Alex set down her book, Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, and went to the kitchen in hope of finding another one of Robby’s letters waiting for her on the breakfast table.

4.    Tommy Weissman

Everyone was there in the kitchen.

More bacon was sizzling. Eggs were warm on plates. The sun was shining, yet no one seemed cheerful about it.

Tommy, not understanding why the mood had darkened in such a short time, threw a handful of eggs across the kitchen. It landed against the screen door with a plop and slid down.

But Mommy missed her cue to clean it up.

Tommy was confused. He hadn’t even been scolded! Now this was unusual.

He screeched like an owl. Nothing.

He tried putting his bowl on his head. Still nothing.

Finally, Tommy started sobbing.

Minerva, her glance unfocused, picked him up and held him, staring at something on the table. He held her, his messy arms staining her white blouse.

A door slammed. Tommy’s father had left for the barn.

Alex, sobbing quietly, retreated to her room.

Minerva set Tommy down, still wearing his breakfast, put her head in her hands, and cried.

MR. AND MRS. WEISSMAN:

WE REGRET TO INFORM YOU OF ROBERT (ROBBY)

WEISSMAN’S DISAPPEARANCE ON THE 5TH OF

AUGUST STOP.

MISSING IN ACTION STOP.

—THE U.S. MILITARY