Charlotte McManus, an incoming senior at Homewood-Flossmoor High School, has won regional and national awards in a 2020 Scholastic Writing Award competition.
Her 500-word short fiction piece won a Gold Key Chicago regional honor from Writopia Lab and the story won a Gold Medal in the National American Voices Medal Awards. Both the regional and national congratulatory celebrations were held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Charlotte enjoys writing and had composed the piece she titled “Mercury,” but not for a class assignment. She wrote the work after reading an interview Jim Hutton did about his partner Freddie Mercury, lead singer for the band Queen.
Mercury died of complications from AIDS in November 1991. He and Hutton had been partners for six years before his death. He reflected on Mercury’s 40th birthday party and Charlotte wonders what Hutton could have given to this man who had, or could buy, everything.
What Charlotte gleaned from the interview was how tender the pair was, but on a level others didn’t know. They only knew the flashy showman Mercury had become. Hutton knew the other Freddie. He recalled how days before his death, Mercury wanted to go downstairs in his house to see his paintings, and Hutton turned on the spotlights to highlight each picture.
Charlotte saw it as a metaphor for the spotlights that had shown on Mercury during his career. Afterward, Hutton carried Mercury back to his bed and the dark of his room, the quiet side of his life.
Charlotte said her teacher, Rachael Kucharski, reviewed the piece and was her faculty sponsor for the contest. Kucharski was her English teacher this year, and will be her teacher next year for the H-F journalism class.
At H-F, the senior is a member of the percussion section of the H-F Vikings Band and has been an actor, musician and crew member for H-F’s theater program.
Charlotte will likely stick with writing in college, but as a minor. She is thinking about majoring in sociology or environmental issues and hopes writing will give her the ability to share insights on these hot topics.