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Jefita, we miss you
First Place $50
Junior Ayala, 18

Dear Jefita,

Although your time was much too short, sometimes I sit and cry about times we spent together and times you were mad at me. I know that it’s too late to tell you all these things but hopefully you can hear me as I write this letter ’cause I know that you’re always with me. I never realized how much I loved you until you left me but now it’s too late ’cause you’re gone and you’re never coming back.

Sometimes I ride in my car at night and look at the sky and cry. Man I miss you so much; one day we’ll be together again.

I never got to tell you that you were the greatest mother on earth. Nobody could ever take your place. I never told you I loved you as much as 1 should have and I’m sorry. I know this isn’t going to help bring you back but it will help me remember you. I guess I was too stupid to know what kind of mother I had.

We never talked. From time to time you would talk to me but I never listened. Man was I stupid. When I had problems I would never come to you, I just solved them on my own. So many times I needed your help but I had too much pride to let you help me. Now look at me. I have to hide my pride to get through the day.

I still can’t believe you’re gone. I know you’re in a better place but it isn’t here with us. Everybody misses you—the kids Erica, Rox, Tracy and my Jefito. Especially him. He can’t even get through the day without thinking of you. He’s sick you know, sometimes he talks stupid like he’s going to die soon or something like that. Jefa, I’m asking you to help him get through this life right now.

I’m sorry for all the things I made you go through. I know I made you worry every time I went out. You would never get any sleep because at 3 o’clock in the morning you get a phone call from jail telling you to go pick me up. Jefa, I’m so sorry. I never realized all the damage I was doing to you and now there’s no way to repay you. But my plan is to show you that I understand. I’m graduating in June, Jefa. Hopefully you’ll be there to see me cross that stage with my diploma. I love you and miss you so much. I hope you never leave my heart.

How is it right when it all feels wrong

Second Place $30
Anonymous, Lynwood HS

Dear Mom and Dad,

Our relationship hasn’t always been the best. Neither has yours. There is nothing I could say to you that will unravel all of the pain that has taken place over the last 17 years. Everything on this page is the result of a lot of soul-searching. Mom, what happened to you, to us? We used to be best friends. We could’ve gotten through anything together. Then you went to that church and everything changed. I must love you because I still show my face there every Sunday. You clean their rooms for not a penny. You give counsel early every morning to those in need. You work in the nursery and bake cookies for those children. When have you ever baked a cookie for me; gave up a moment of your time to give me advice?

You can run to the church, but where were you when I played our second grade production of "Rainbow Brite," or every show after that up to now? You can push religion into my head as much as you want, but as far as I’m concerned I hate the concept of religion more than I ever did. When I asked you for help with my history essay you merely said "Ask God and he will provide you with help." I thought God put you here for that very purpose—to provide me with mental and physical nourishment in his absence.

At my seventh birthday party you sat in the den and scoured the newspaper for a used car. Telling Dad to go to hell made a nice touch when he called to wish me a happy birthday. I’m sorry if the happy atmosphere of the festivities was bothering you. In case you’ve forgotten, I haven’t had a party since.

For everything we’ve stumbled through, I want to thank you. You and countless others have served as an example that religion doesn’t make one crazy. To qualify, one must be crazy before applying.

To you Dad, I know you’re late for everything, but I would like to congratulate you on your all time record of 14 years. Together you and Mom have taught me what to look for in a spouse. You have taught me to live as far away from relatives as I can, and most importantly, to grant my children the simple freedoms of privacy, self-transportation at the proper age, and undying support.

You must have done something right because I’m not pregnant or on drugs. I hold two national titles and a 3.6 GPA. I have gained light through your errors. That could possibly be the one thing every parent dreams of.

Is our family a factory?

Third Place $20
Anonymous, 18, Bravo Medical Magnet HS

Dear Mother and Father,

A few weeks ago, I came across an absolutely radiant coin on the school’s linoleum floor. My backpack, heavy from math homework and English papers, was weighing me down as I bent down to snatch that coin. To my astonishment, it was Super-glued on the floor!

That’s how I often see you two, as individuals whom I can never comprehend; I don’t think I will ever be able to firmly grasp your beliefs, your traditions, your odd, straight-laced views of society. I also don’t understand your actions, the actions you claim will help make me a "better person." How could you force me to slave away at a piano, then throw away all my music books when I didn’t feel like practicing for three hours? How could you actually assign me after school and weekend homework starting in the second grade? What dominating force could possibly push you into slapping me with your harsh words when I just wanted to stop studying and play with all the other neighborhood children instead? While the rest of the world saw an attractive white picket fence surrounding our middle-class, suburban home, I saw barbed wire indelibly stained with tears.

I’m now 18, but your methods of "perfecting" me during my childhood years have already taken their toll. I was playing with my two-year-old cousin one day when I noticed the sloppy way she was holding her green crayon. I firmly wrenched it away from her and wouldn’t allow her to color until she held that crayon perfectly at a 45 degree angle, like you taught me. On what must have been my 7th or 8th attempt, I suddenly froze. I began remembering how, during junior high, you made me write the numbers over and over and over again, just because you didn’t think I wrote them in the correct form.

I know I have a horrible attitude towards both of you, but what did you expect? Do you honestly expect me to kiss and praise you for stripping away one of the most valuable and irreplaceable things—my childhood? I know you don’t understand how I’ve felt the past 18 years of my life, and I don’t ask that you sympathize with me. I just wish you wouldn’t slight my problems with the flick of your wrist, dismissing me like a servant. No, I can’t stand that attitude any further. It’s simply unbearable.

I am not a drug addict. I am not in a gang. I don’t have a racist mind; I embrace diversity. I am also a terrific student with goals and ambitions for my future. But I can see why you can’t appreciate these things about me. You can’t get past the fact that I’m not perfect.
Perhaps now you see why I sometimes refer to both of you as "Mother & Father, Inc.," the company that produces only flawless children. It’s the company which allows absolutely NO DEFECTS in their products. After all, who on earth would want a child that’s less than perfect?

I will love you both forever, whatever the situation may be. I’ll never forget our restaurant dinners, our occasional shopping sprees, or our hilarious car trips. All memories, whether they be precious or horrendous, are trapped in my Pandora’s Box of mixed feelings. To this day, I still do not know if I should or should not open my Box and release all my bottled up harsh attitudes at the risk of sacrificing priceless memories."