From Our Staff | September 24, 2007

Throughout this week, we’ll be introducing you to past Editors’ Prize winners. “You Think I Care” by Deborah Way was the first-place story in our 1995 contest. Like many of our winning stories, it was a first publication.

“You Think I Care” is the story of Annie, a shrewd 15-year-old girl who has made the considered decision to sleep with her boyfriend, Eric. This isn’t a case of impetuous teen love: the two have tried and tried to consummate their relationship; on the afternoon during which the story takes place, Annie travels 4.7 miles to Eric’s unchaperoned house to try again. Her journey from her parents’ house to her lover’s is evocative of a fairy tale — a lone girl facing dangers on a wooded, solitary road. And, as in fairy tales, the cozy world of the young heroine is threatened by what emerges from the forest.

In reading “You Think I Care,” I was struck by Way’s artful depiction of her affluent, rural setting and by the way that Annie’s voice inflected the language of the piece. Though some elements of the story feel familiar, Annie’s appeal — the appeal not just of the smart teenager, but of an individuated, smart teenager — remained with me after I’d put the story away. And that’s one of the things we’re still looking for with the Editors’ Prize contest: stories (and essays and poems) that stay with us.

Stephanie Carpenter

[Download this story.]