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2011 Summer Short Story Contest Winner

1st Place Winner
Sara Cho
10th Grade
York School in Monterey
Monterey, California

My name is Sara Cho. I am currently in 10th grade at York School in Monterey, California. My favorite subjects are English, mathematics, Latin, history, and art. When I’m not studying or playing sports, I enjoy playing my cello or piano to relax. I have performed in many piano concerts, recitals, and auditions. I also enjoy writing books and short stories during my free time. It gives me a chance to express my creativity. I am the first place winner of USAA’s summer short story contest.



An old man stood at the edge of the sidewalk with his coat tightly wrapped around him. Even though the sky was filled with dense clouds, the man wore dark sunglasses that covered his eyes. He held a long white cane in one hand and a leather bound book in the other. Slowly, he approached the library building, guiding himself with his cane. As he passed through the large oak doors, the smell of old, withering paper overwhelmed him. He stood at the entrance for a minute, breathing in the marvelous scent, and then continued into the building.


The old man, known as Mr. Bronson, carefully swung his white cane in front of him and used his withered hands to feel the smooth wooden shelves. His cane suddenly touched a soft arm, and a young boy sitting in front of him looked up from a picture book he had been looking at.


“Excuse me, sir,” the boy said politely as he moved out of the way.


Mr. Bronson stood for a moment, hesitating on what to do. Instead of walking away, he decided to sit next to the boy.


“What’s your name, son?” Mr. Bronson asked, gazing expressionlessly at a shelf of books.


The boy stared at the blind man. “Matt.”


“Matt,” Mr. Bronson tasted the name on his lips. He handed Matt the old leather bound book that was in his hands. “Boy, can you read this to me?”


Matt sheepishly took the book from the blind man’s hand, but said, “I can’t read.”


Mr. Bronson seemed confused. “Why not?”


“I’ve never learned, sir.” Matt lowered his head.




“This is a book…and I can’t read,” Matt said, placing the book on the old man’s lap.


“Do you think I can?” Mr. Bronson replied with a sly smile. He pushed the book back towards Matt. “This book is illustrated, is it not?”


Matt sighed and took the book from the old man. He opened the book and found it to be filled with colorful pictures of countless adventures. “Yes, it is.”


“Then make up the story, boy! Tell me what you see!” the old man said calmly.


Matt seemed surprised for a moment. He slowly fingered through the pages until he found one of an astronaut, standing on a strange planet. Under the picture were words the boy couldn’t understand.


“There’s a man…an astronaut…standing on the moon,” Matt began.


“What colors are there?” the old man asked as if he were experiencing something magical.


“There’s black…,” Matt said, “black…as in emptiness…nothingness.”


Mr. Bronson nodded his head to show he understood.


This continued for hours – Matt describing vivid images to the blind man and the blind man seeing pictures he had never experienced before in his head. In the end, it all didn’t matter. The boy couldn’t read, and the man couldn’t see. But that was that. They both sat in the library, experiencing what they were supposed to experience while they were there. A new world. Imagination.