Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Write Across Ontario: Negatives By June by Rhianyth Warwick

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Write Across Ontario: Negatives By June by Rhianyth Warwick

Every Tuesday in January, the Open Book Magazine will feature one of the four winning stories in Open Book: Ontario and IFOA Ontario's Write Across Ontario contest. Ontario elementary and high school students were asked to compose a story of 500 words or less in response to a "story-starter," which was written by a well-known author.

Rhianyth Warwick, a grade 8 student in King Edward Junior/Senior Public School in Toronto, was awarded first place in the grades 7-8 category for her story, “Negatives By June.” The story starter was provided by Richard Scrimger (Ink Me, Orca Books). Congratulations, Rhianyth!

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"Negatives By June”

By Rhianyth Warwick

If the worst feeling in the world is the one where you are going to be sick, the second worst feeling is waving back at someone who is not waving at you. The snooty girl from my French class had the biggest smile on her face — she was so happy to see me, I thought — that I was sure I had totally misjudged her. I was ready to forgive all her airs and attitudes. I smiled warmly back, took off my winter gloves, and prepared to give her a huge handshake, when she shook her head at me and gestured over my shoulder at Reynard, who stood behind me with his face wreathed in smiles. I’ve never liked Reynard. Should I pretend to be looking over her shoulder at someone else, or step on Reynard’s foot? The choices presented themselves the only possible solutions: if not (a) then (b).

Sadly, I didn't have time to thoroughly analyze the situation and select a course of action before she shoved me out of the way with a disgusted “Move, nerd girl,” skipped past, and flashed her perfect teeth yet again in Reynard’s direction.

I ran my tongue self-consciously over my braces as they trotted off, their voices whipped away by the chilly winter wind. How was it fair that the nasty, airheaded, obnoxious new girl was already more popular than me? One friend, and that’s already more than I had: my total currently stood at e^(-iπ) + 1, which for those of you idiotic popular kids who don’t know basic math, is zero. Zilch. Not a single person considered boring, freckled, skinny, redheaded Natalie Weston a friend, and I really had no idea why.

Maybe it’s that people don’t understand my jokes, I thought as I trudged through the snow, my boots making a crunching sound as they crack the top layer. But why wouldn't they? I mean, maybe that one about Schröedinger’s cat walking into a bar was a little complicated. But all the others were fine... right?

Or maybe it’s the grades. My boot sank deep into a snowdrift and I winced as the cold snow got in and soaks my sock. Let’s make it a hypothesis: if grades are consistently over 91 percent,  then popularity will be decreased at a rate of 1.67 percent each school day. At 195 days in a school year, I’d be well into the negatives by June. Or maybe there’s an ‘absolute zero’ of popularity — a point at which popularity cannot decrease any further.

I reached the school gate and turned onto Bathurst, my teeth chattering as I broke into a jog in a half-hearted effort to keep warm. My backpack bounced, the straps digging into my shoulders even through my ugly brown parka. Hey, there’s an idea. Maybe it’s the clothes. My mom always assured me that I was beautiful no matter what I wore, but everyone knows that the credibility of the compliment is closely linked to your relation to the speaker. Maybe the "Atoms make us all matter" t-shirt was a little too geeky. And the fact that it was electric yellow probably didn't help either.

And then I smiled, remembering another shirt I own.

Geeks are the people you mock in high school and work under for the rest of your life.

Who cared what the popular people thought, anyways? It’s a nerd’s world, and someday, they’d figure it out. I could wait.

Till then, I’d just work on solving world hunger while they fixed their makeup.

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Rhianyth Warwick lives in Toronto with two cats and a gecko. She is on the Interclub competitive team at Just Bounce Trampoline Club and loves science. When she isn't reading, writing or listening to music, you can find her watching Doctor Who in her pajamas or irritating (and entertaining) her friends and family in one way or another.

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