Congratulations to Luke Hollenbaugh, the First Place winner of the Community Writing Center Fiction Contest in the Adult category!
Luke Hollenbaugh is a 2022 graduate of Michigan State University with dual-degrees in English and in Interdisciplinary Studies in Social Science Education with a minor in History. In the fall, he will begin his teaching internship as he continues to pursue his goal of becoming an educator. A lover of books, some of his favorites include The Lord of the Rings, The Princess Bride, and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.
Enjoy Luke's story below:
A Blue-Red World
I see my world in blue and red. I’m not colorblind, or have bad eyes, or anything like that. Everywhere I go, I wear my 3D glasses. My classmates used to ask me about them and people whisper about me behind their back. They don’t understand why any 12 year old would wear glasses, especially 3D ones, voluntarily. A lot of people call me “quirky,” or “a bit off,” or “weird.” I’ve heard much meaner names as well. My teachers used to discourage them, bullies used to try to take them, and my parents tried to do away with them. Now though, everyone is used to them being around. They don’t really pay attention to them anymore. They don’t really pay attention to me either.
My name is Oliver, but my friends and family call me Ollie. I’m an only child, but my parents are really busy at work. They have had to work more lately because of “politics” and other things. They’re both lawyers. I think they’re really good at their jobs. They work a lot and aren’t home as much as they used to be. No one really calls me Ollie anymore.
I spend a lot of time by myself, but that just gives me a lot more time to watch movies. That’s how I started wearing my 3D glasses. I’ve always loved movies. When I was younger, my parents and I would have movie nights almost every night. They work a lot later and are always super tired, so we haven’t had one in a while now. We keep planning on having one soon though! We have like every streaming subscription, so I have lots of options to choose from. We used to have to rent movies, but this makes it so much easier. I do miss our trips to rent movies from the Family Video.
Like I said, my world is made up of blues and reds. Blue is left and red is right. I associate these colors with pretty much everything in my life. Yesterday was a blue day. My
teacher yelled at me for not having my progress report signed. I saw her in blue as she singled me out in front of the class. I left school feeling blue yesterday. I walked home, taking lefts until I was through my front door and safely in my room. Taking lefts is a longer walk home, but that’s the way I have to go on blue days. On blue days, I brush my teeth with my left hand, I eat with my left hand, and I sleep on the left side of my bed.
After my blue days, I try to make my day better by watching some of my favorite movies. I’ll watch one of the new Spider-Man movies, or Star Wars, or the Lord of the Rings. Those are some great movies. Full of adventure and heroes. The heroes in those movies are really good at getting through blue days. Then my parents will come home. We’ll eat dinner. They’ll ask me about my day. Then they’ll go to sleep or work some more and I’ll watch movies until it’s time for bed. This is how most of my days and nights go. Sometimes though, if the movies are especially good or dinner is fun, my day will get a little more red and I’ll go to sleep on the right side of my bed.
Today started out as a blue day for me. My parents were running late for work and got pretty upset with me because I was taking too long to get around. Sometimes my blues and reds and my lefts and rights make me take longer to do things. I took lefts walking to school and got to school late because of that. This happens quite a bit and my teacher doesn’t understand why I am always late to class. I’ve tried to explain the lefts, but they don’t make sense to her. I showed up late, but I made it in time to listen to the end of an introduction for a new student in our class. His name is Aiden and his family just moved to town. The first half of today at school was a blue one. Math is in the morning and I don’t like math much. Math is always blue.
The shades of the day changed at lunch though. I was sitting in my usual spot at my usual table. Other kids used to sit with me, but they got confused by the lefts and the blues, too. I was poking around at my food when someone tapped on my right shoulder.
“Hi, my name's Aiden! Your name is Oliver, right? Is it alright if I sit with you?” I looked over my shoulder to see Aiden in red. He was wearing an Empire Strikes Back shirt and had a friendly smile on his face. I was surprised and shifted my posture to answer him. “Of course! Yes, my name is Oliver, but my friends call me Ollie. Do you like Star Wars much?”
“Does a wookie have fur? I love Star Wars! I’ve only seen every movie like a million times. Did my shirt give it away?”
I laughed, switched my fork between my hands, and took my first bite of lunch before answering him.
“I love Star Wars, too. Which trilogy is your favorite?”
“I’m the prequels all the way. How can you not love Revenge of the Sith, young Yoda, and the awesome lightsaber fights?!” he answered.
“Those are my thoughts exactly! You’ve gotta love the Clone Wars too then, right?” This sparked a full nerding-out over Star Wars that lasted the entire lunch period. As we talked about our favorite characters, the theories we liked the most, and about which series we are the most excited for, the entire room was enveloped in red. As lunch was winding down, our conversation did as well.
“You really know your Star Wars,” Aiden said. “Hey, I know I’m new here, but you seem really cool. Maybe we can hangout after school sometime and watch some Star Wars together. Or, better yet, have a movie marathon!”
I agreed and we walked back to class together. The rest of the day was pretty alright and not quite so blue. I took the right way home and got home early from school. I watched some of my favorite episodes of the Clone Wars because they were on my mind after Aiden and I’s conversation. My parents and I talked and laughed throughout dinner and I told them about Aiden. They said it was okay for me to invite him over to watch movies after school sometime this week.
I’m excited for the rest of the week. Maybe Aiden will be someone new to share movie nights with. As I laid on the right side of the bed with the red moonlight shining through my window, I thought back onto what Aiden told me at the end of the day.
“See you tomorrow, Ollie!”
He didn’t make fun of my glasses or question why I wear them. With tears in my eyes, the reds and blues blurred together as I began hoping and dreaming that Aiden might be someone who understands me.