First Place, Fiction: “Cleanse Your Nation,” by Lucas Tucker
Grade 10, Head-Royce School, Moraga, California, U.S.
Cleanse Your Nation
Alright, I admit it. You are right. You were always right. I was the one behind the scenes, controlling the government without anyone knowing. I started a business and unfairly floated to the top of the social ladder, along with all of the others like me. How did you know I want it so much? I make so much of it as your deli waiter, your local kombucha business owner, your pharmacist… but I am also more. I am the one you see in the news, stealing from the poor. I’m the kosher meat producer. I am the one profiting off both political parties. I am the president of the United States, but you never see me. I am the curly haired mother in her sixties, gossiping in your local delicatessen. What a klutz. I am your challah maker in the bakery on the corner who always says “oy vey” when they spill an ingredient. I am the one with the big nose, waiting to make a deal. How did you figure it out? I am the one that sleeps atop bags filled with green paper, dreaming about the exploitation of your economy. I live silently among you. I am simply biding my time before I can interfere with your business and uproot all that hard work that you have been putting in day after day. I must be the source of your failure.
You never saw me but you knew I was there. You were always right about achieving power, the dream of my people, that I am proud to say that I have fulfilled. It was not hard to steal all of your data, to take away all your wages so that you could barely afford to feed your family. The goal is just not that complicated; I simply want to dominate America’s hierarchy and steal from all others. I transfer currency from your bank account to mine because I am the CEO of that bank. Before you turn on the faucet, remember that I make a profit because I own the utility company. Before you eat, remember that you are helping me pay for a new mansion in Israel, because I own the company that cultivated that food. A mansion in Jerusalem? Why not. Before you sleep, remember that I inherited the business that makes your mattress. Let’s double the price, the goyim will never know.
You cannot get me out of your life or your country, for I will always be everywhere. Just when you think you have finally succeeded in your marriage, your business, or with your nation as a whole, remember that am snickering in the back room, because I have already devised a master plan to strip from you all that you hold dear.
So there, now you know my little secret. I do not care what you do about it anymore. Split up my whole family. Take my pets and my grandparents. Smash my childhood wooden guitar. Bomb my house after you remove all value from it. Stacks of green paper hidden in the walls. Command your army to put my people away forever, so that we may not add to the already irreversible damage done to you. Take it, take me. Vanquish my people from your country like you would maggots from an organic fruit. Make sure that I never succeed again.
It’s over. Can I leave now?
My name is Lucas Tucker, and I am a 16 year old Californian with an interest in written and spoken language. I believe that writing, like playing guitar or painting a picture, is a way to communicate emotions and ideas to others through various senses.
When I found the 2019 Young Writers Contest through some online research, I felt it would be a great opportunity to expose people to the vast amount of antisemitism in modern day America. By writing this piece, I was able to express deeper emotions that I cannot express to friends and my community.
As part of my 10th grade English class, I learned about the plight of Japanese-Americans during their World War II Internment. Reading about the prejudice that this population faced inspired me to empathize with my own Jewish community, and get very deep into the day to day struggles that American Jews face. I ran into many challenges throughout this writing process, and focusing on the hate and prejudice really forced me to expand my writing skills.
While I am still figuring out my career path, I hope to continue connecting people of different backgrounds and cultures through writing, computer science, and shared human experiences.
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