On Wednesday night, after spectacular readings by all six finalists, the Guild announced this year’s winners in the 2013 Prose Awards: J.H. Palmer won in the non-fiction category, and Cyn Vargas won in the fiction category. Benjamin Capps and Gina P. Vozenilek were runner-ups in non-fiction, and Joe Arzac and Rebecca Keller were runner-ups in fiction.
(Pictured left to right: Rebecca Keller, Benjamin Capps, J.H. Palmer, Cyn Vargas, Gina P. Vozenilek, Joe Arzac.)
Over the next two weeks, we will post highlights from the event and excerpts from the winning stories. Today we share part of Cyn Vargas’ collection of narrative snapshots called “That Girl.” Here’s what Cristina Henríquez, our fiction judge, said about Cyn’s winning submission:
"This deceptively simple story vividly evoked the dynamics of a friendship between two girls. I admired how full and rich the story felt and how much time the author was able to cover in only a few pages. There was an energy pulsing beneath the writing, too, that stuck with me long after I finished reading."
The story is written in seven scenarios. Because the work is currently being considered for publication, we can only print an excerpt here. Enjoy this glimpse of “That Girl,” by Cyn Vargas.
That Girl with her Mom
It wasn’t hard for the wind to carry her yells into my house: “You’re too fat. A size six is two sizes too big. Look at me. I lost forty- five pounds eating fruit for five months. Your breasts are too big. Don’t wear tight shirts or boys will think you’re a whore. I already see lines around your mouth. Don’t laugh so wide and don’t laugh all wild. Laugh like me. You know? Pretty. Be pretty and life will be easier. Only hang out with the pretty girls. Ditch the one next door. It doesn’t look good you hanging with her. If ugly girls don’t like you that’s a good sign. And those curls. The ones with the frizz at the ends like they want to attack passerby’s, the ones like your father. At least he had to shave his head to go over there. I’ll buy you a straightener. Your curls don’t know which way they want to go. I’ve seen better hair on a clown. Fix it or what will the other girls think?”
That Girl in Class
I had to tell you: “I’m sorry. I didn’t know whether I should say anything, but I heard your ma yelling at you yesterday. Again. I think she forgets that her kitchen window faces ours and my ma never closes the window because she doesn’t believe in artificial air. Anyway, I know we aren’t close anymore like in grammar school, but I want you to know that the way she talks to you is wrong. I remember her always being a little mean. I heard about your dad being over there. My uncle is deployed too. Your dad will be back soon, you’ll see. Anyway, I wanted you to know that you shouldn’t listen to your ma. You’ve always been the pretty one and you’re not fat and if you just stopped hanging out with those phony kids I think you would be happier. Yes, Mrs. Hutchinson. I was just talking to her about homework. I better get back to my seat. If you want to come over later, you know you can. I miss us hanging out.”
Cyn Vargas holds an MFA in Creative Writing-Fiction from Columbia College Chicago. She received two top citations from Glimmer Train in their Short Story Award for New Writers contests. Her work has appeared in Word Riot, Curbside Splendor, and elsewhere. According to Cyn, writing is her way of legally exposing herself in public.
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