Emily Royal takes first place in literary competition in Augusta
Her short story, “I’ll Be Waiting for Him,” was written as an assignment for her AP (Advanced Placement) Language Class and was inspired by a landscape painted by Louis Joseph Bahin titled “Natchez Under the Hill.”
The work of art is part of the permanent collection at the museum.
Royal and the other division winners were honored at an awards ceremony at the museum, during which she read her story to those present and was presented a certificate and a cash prize.
A few excerpts from Royal’s short story, told from the viewpoint of a murdered teenaged girl, are as follows:
“I woke up in my bed. I wrenched off the covers, running my hands over my legs, patting my torso, and at last, brushing my throat with my fingertips. I was alive, I was whole.
“The nightmare was over, and I was safe and warm in my own bed. I heard my mother in the kitchen. I hurried out of my room, eager to try to find solace in my mother.
“She stood in the kitchen; sobs racked her body as she slowly set the phone back into its cradle. ‘Mom?’ She didn’t turn around. ‘Mama!’ I said louder. I was beginning to get frightened. I stepped forward, placing my hand on my mother’s back. It glided through her smoothly, leaving a wispy cloud in its wake.
“I gasped, looking at my hand, it appeared to be normal, but there was nothing normal about my hand floating through my mother’s body. My mom whirled around. She was facing me, but she wasn’t looking at me...
“I was slow to accept my own death...”
Royal goes on to write about watching as the search team recovered her body.
“I didn’t recognize the girl until I say the tiny cross necklace around her neck. It was my cross necklace, the one my mother had given me. As I looked at my body, a wave of anger washed over me, and only one word formed in my mind. Revenge.”
Royal said she was shocked when she was notified that her entry captured first-place honors in the high school prose division. “I didn’t think most people would get it.
“Also, I am grateful to Mrs. Wilkes (Sheila Wilkes, Royal’s language teacher). I wouldn’t have entered the competition if she hadn’t mentioned it in class.
“She is a great teacher, who has helped me grow as a writer. I’ve learned a lot from her. She is very patient with her students.”
Royal, whose favorite book is “The Iliad” by Homer, said, “I like to write because you can create anything you want – there are no limitations.”
In her comments on Royal, Wilkes stated, “I was on Cloud Nine when I learned that Emily had won first place in the prose division of the Combining Voices Literary Competition.
“At the time, Emily was in my AP Language Class, and we were already immersed in some pretty rigorous writing assignments in an effort to prepare the students for the AP Language exam. I decided as somewhat of an afterthought to give the Combining Voices creative writing assignment to the students, so they didn’t have much time to perfect their entries.
“The fact that Emily won first place for the entire high school division speaks volumes about her writing abilities because schools from quite a few surrounding counties submitted entries.
“One of Emily’s greatest strengths is that she is a master at allowing her voice to come through in her writing,” Wilkes continued.
“As an English teacher, I know firsthand how difficult it is to teach students about allowing their voices to show through in their writing. Voice is something that I never had to teach Emily; she is just a natural at it.
“She is a model student, and on more than one occasion, I have used her writing as an example to show other students how to achieve their writing goals,” the teacher remarked.
The talented writer is the daughter of Stephanie and Joey Royal of Lincolnton.
The goal of the Combining Voices Literary Competition is to encourage participants to respond visually and verbally to selected paintings from the Morris Museum’s permanent art collection.