Charlie Demars’ “The Embarrassment Burrowed In” won second place in the prose category of the 2020 WNMU Undergraduate Creative Writing Contest hosted by the Humanities Department.
The Utah native moved to New Mexico after years of traveling, following his high school graduation. “I ended up in silver because I had a sister I’d never met,” he said.
He worked at a local school for some time and then the dove into his own studies after the pandemic began. Charlie spent a semester exploring various classes but is now enrolled in the electrical technology program. “I didn’t grow up with any practical skills. Electrical seemed like a neat thing I had no idea about. It’s probably one of the more rewarding experiences I’ve been involved in,” he said.
Before deciding to pursue applied technology, creative writing and English were his favorite classes. He submitted prose to the contest to earn extra credit. “The story is about my own childhood. Growing up, I feel like where I’m from, it was more free. You could just run around when you’re little and get in weird situations, I guess,” he said.
Charlie said he enjoys writing. “It’s something I’ve always done for fun,” he said. “My mom really likes writing too. My dad’s a creative person in a different way.”
But his first priority is to start earning a living. “At some point I’d like to go back to school. I just wanted to get something concrete under me. I need to get another 2,000 hours in to get my journeyman’s license,” he said.
His professors have supported him in both his academics and his personal life. “It’s just a weird time. I asked Heather Frankland about counseling and stuff because I feel like everybody’s struggling,” he said. “She was quick to be on that.”
While his first semester taking traditional academic courses was completed online, Charlie said technical school is in person. “I feel like I’m getting something that feels more like a natural education. Being back in class has been really neat,” he said.
Here’s an excerpt from Charlie’s winning piece:
We sit together on a log just looking forward at a tree. The embarrassment has burrowed its way into my belly. It’s perched on my intestines, and like a cat it uses its claws to grip and prod. There’s a sense of confusion waddling in my head. I see an owl perched on one of the branches. There’s something wrong with its body; like it’s suffered from some mutation. I realize it’s just a bigger bird grasped in its talons, and I watch it swoop above us.
I realize we’re all looking up. “Cool,” I whisper to myself, and both Tyler and Ester nod. Eventually we all stand up to walk. We continue heading toward the theater. This time no one says anything.
When we get there we see a large group of kids circled. Cody and the older kid are talking to each other. Cody’s face looks pale. His fingers are pinched together. It looks like his hands are forming almonds.