Anish Aradhey

United States

Published Work

Creative Nonfiction Competition 2020

New Kid Shoes

    Eyes glued to the tile floor, shoulders squeezed tightly together, chest compressed into an unnoticeable speck. Unfortunately, I am anything but overlookable; my bright yellow shirt is a stranger in a sea of blue uniforms. It is my first day of school in a new country, and calling me nervous would be an understatement. Schools of students swim past, sprinkling the air with an unfamiliar language. Eyes flit like cautious flies, looking my way, then quickly switching focus, but I feel their heavy stares. Brushing them off, I focus on walking forward. Right. Left. Right. Left… 
    I have always lived in the same place, so I was never the “new kid” in school until the summer before ninth grade on an exchange program in Costa Rica. In a time when many students, including myself, have been attending school online, I have thought back to this experience frequently. My memories of the exchange program not only remind me of...

Historical Fiction Competition 2020

The Red Dress

    The scarlet fabric spills over Nina's knees as her needle dips in and out of the velvet furiously. I watch silently, hugging my legs closer to my chest.
    The curtains once cast rosy light through the kitchen window. Now, torn down, traced, and trimmed, they lie across her lap. Mama didn’t mind. After all, we’re leaving our small house tonight. 
    Nina breaks off the thread with her teeth, tucking the newly-formed crimson dress into her suitcase. Her shoes tap the wooden floor as she walks past me.
    “It’s time to leave, Sonja.” 
    I shiver. No one can blame her for being so serious. After Papa was arrested, she practically became an adult overnight. 

    Now, Nina spends long hours writing letters to lawyers and to faraway places like Boston. The flamboyant fifteen-year-old who dreamed of acting is just a summer memory. Those days seem so long ago as I watch the snow fall outside.
    “Hurry up,” Nina whispers. I pause to...

Flash Fiction Competition 2020

Keys

His fingers curl wretchedly like dead spider legs, stiff with dried blood. He presses the piano keys, wincing through stinging tears. Gritting his teeth, he forces his fingertips to sing. The sonata aches, sounding grayer than it had the night before. It reminds him too much of the night, of him and Ajay sitting at the piano, of the others walking in, of his fingers crushed against concrete. 

He pants as the final notes suffocate the room. The piano bench scrapes the concrete floor. He walks away, swallowing a metallic taste and ignoring the crimson fingerprints staining the keys.
 

Letter Writing Competition 2020

The Younger Generation

July 21, 2020

Dear The Younger Generation,

    I would like to be alive to witness the day when, during another monotonous Tuesday history class, your school teacher pores through a textbook and flips to the section on the COVID-19 pandemic of 2019-2020. Perhaps he or she will run his or her finger along the paragraphs, chuckling at some and then growing somber as they continue. And perhaps you will also stare at the words on the page, glancing at pictures of face masks and hospital beds until the school bell rings. You’ll pick up your backpack and run down the hallways and out of the building.
    You’ll come back home, and your parents will ask you what you learned about in school. You’ll tell them, of course, and you’ll see something flicker across their faces before you all go back to eating your dinner. It’ll be just another day.

    Maybe you’ll grow up remembering our world’s current crisis clearly, or...

Food Writing Competition 2020

Dough

    My fingertips sink into the flour and coat themselves with the sticky, shaggy mess. In the mixing bowl, I wrangle together bits of rebellious dough, shaping them into one mass. Though it may seem unlikely that this concoction of flour and water will become anything great, with patience and care, I hope to guide the ingredients into taking the form of a beautiful indian pav bread. 

    Bread is an ancient and universal food. From sourdough to pita to damper, it seems nearly every culture has a version of this staple baked good. And from ancient artifacts to biblical stories, we know that bread has been part of human life for centuries.

    The dough starts to cooperate, and its rough edges begin to smoothen. I scrape the steel of the bowl with my finger nails, syncopating the movements of my palms with the metal ring it produces. A strange sort of kitchen song fills the room. My hands press...

Playwriting Competition 2020

Grandma Ruby

Scene 1

(A dim evening. The present. The Kratz’s living room. JONATHAN KRATZ, 20s, sits at the table, leaning onto his elbows. He puts his phone to his ear. He has been crying.)

JONATHAN
Hi, Nurse Laura. [beat] Yes, this is Jonothan Kratz calling for Ruby Kratz, my… 
(His voice breaks:) 
My mother. K-R-A-T-Z… Thanks.
(The phone is connected:)
It’s me, ma. I’m fine, how are… never mind. Ma, I wanted to say that I love you… No, ma, don’t say that… No, it’s not goodbye, it’s just — 
(He pauses. In tears:)
We got a call… from the doctor. No — we’ll see you tomorrow, ma, right? Tomorrow… 

(Enter YOUNG SEULGI KRATZ, 6, innocent and skipping.)

YOUNG SEULGI
Papa? Why’re you crying? 
(She notices the phone:)
Is it Gramma? Is it Gramma? 
(Pouting:)
Lemme talk!

JONATHAN
(To the phone:)
It’s Seulgi. [beat] Sure, ma…

(JONATHAN hands over the phone.)

YOUNG SEULGI
(To the phone, in...

My December Competition 2019

Powdered Sugar Snow

    December in the Shenandoah mountains is marked by gray forests: once lush and vibrant but now brown and bare, revealing the bound of a white-tailed deer and the scamper of a camouflaged hare. Through the window, I watch the silhouettes of walnut trees sway in the cold wind. This is a landscape and town stripped of green - a skeleton of our lives. This is December. 
    My toes are numb against the hardwood floor. All is quiet, for the rest of the world is fast asleep underneath layers of the star-studded sky. The lonesome moon pierces through the small windows, casting a pearlescent glow on the dark hallway. No clouds mask the luminous stars. As I stare up through the glass, I wish for snow to dust the fields and cover the roofs like powdered sugar - for the world to be covered in a floury blanket. I lay down, close my eyes, and fall into a dreamless sleep.

    I...

Novel Writing Competition 2019

A Color-coded Crush

Nothing is more annoying than having a crush. 

Just last week, I was the normal Macy Adams. I was the Macy who pursued nothing but my future, the Macy who cared more about test scores than anything else. I was, well, perfect. Smart. Organized. I was the kid who, in third grade, made a list of each step that would lead me to my dream job: a neurosurgeon. I was the kid who managed mountains of notes and homework and tolerated no, and I mean absolutely no, distractions. My school binder is, in essence, a state-of-the-art, chronologically organized, prioritized, and (not to mention) color-coded masterpiece, including all of my goals for the rest of my education. And I intend to follow it to the most miniscule detail. Or at least, I did. The truth is, I forgot to account for one thing in my seemingly-comprehensive plans: the possibility of a crush.

Let's go back to last Tuesday morning. I was...

Album Review Competition 2019

Review: Seeing the World Through Owl City's 'Ocean Eyes'

    I slip on my worn headphones and dive into a watery abyss, feeling the rhythmic waves wash over me as I float into the vast musical ocean. This is the world of Owl City’s album Ocean Eyes (Deluxe Version). The notes pull me away from the sun rays permeating the surface, and I swim deeper, floating and dancing, wandering and searching, leaving lacy bubble trails in the water. As I progress into the salty cosmos, each tune is a sparkling pearl in a secluded oyster’s belly. So much in the world of music seems only half-done, only half-important, so I marvel at albums in which every track is memorable. Honest emotion and vibrant storytelling fill every drop of Ocean Eyes; altogether, this album is an authentic collection of upbeat escapes, reminiscent nostalgia, romance and heartbreak, insecurity, loneliness, and hopeful, whimsical narratives that immerse listeners in the tales within each tune. 

    Ocean Eyeswas born out of emotional self-expression...

Human Connections Essay Competition 2019

Broken Petal Perfume

       I watch my grandmother’s hands, soft and wrinkled but firm from years of work, as they weave threads around the needles with impressive ease. I focus, trying to copy the movements, but all I make is a knotted mess. I sigh, frustrated, as my grandmother chuckles. She stares at me with kind eyes through wire-frame glasses, takes my needles, and starts untangling the spider web of threads. I attempt to explain my predicament, but my Marathi is cracked and immature from years of not speaking it.
    “I speak English, too,” she says, smiling. I lean against the crimson couch and stare at the sunlight swimming through the saffron curtains into her living room. It is the summer after third grade - the first time that I visited my parents’ home country of India. 
    During the journey, I learned a lot about human and family bonds. Connections between people are complex kaleidoscopes, constantly forming and breaking, stretching and squeezing - constantly...