We know you've all been waiting patiently for us to announce the winning stories for our latest 9-12 year old contest and here they are! It was so much fun to see what everyone did with Mariesa's marvelous story prompts; and as usual, we had a hard time picking the winners. The stories we chose were funny, inventive, original, touching and suprising. We hope that you like them as much as we do. Love, Ellen and Anne
P.S. Be sure to check out blog next week - we're going to post the Honorable Mentions.
P.P.S. If you have a winning story and haven't heard from us, please try to contact us again. We had problems with emails bouncing back.
By Samantha W., age 12
They all say imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality. Good books are full of imagination, and libraries are full of books, so that’s why I spend most of my time in the Linbourne Public Library.
The stack of books waiting to be read was growing smaller. I picked up yet another book and began to read. My surroundings were drowned out – the only world I could register was the one contained in the pages. Suddenly, the silence was shattered by an impatient reeeeow, unusually loud and alarmingly close.
I let out a muffled yell, sprang from my chair and searched frantically for my wand. After a good twenty seconds, I finally realized I wasn't Harry Potter and wasn't being tracked down by Lord Voldemort.
This comforted me a bit.
There was another loud meow, and I turned around and was face to face with an incredibly chubby grey cat sitting on my stack of books. He had tiny ears, a bushy tail, and a bored expression on his pudgy face. I recognized him at once.
“Oh no,” I moaned. “Ravioli again?”
Ravioli is a stray cat that continuously breaks into the library and seems to delight in getting me into trouble. He would simply stay at my side until Vivian Quiver found me out.
Vivian Quiver is a sixteen-year-old who volunteers at the library, shelving books and enforcing law with a manicured iron fist. She had swooping blond hair, a figure that would be comfortable on the cover of Vogue magazine, and flashy clothing that looked very out-of-place in a dusty public library. She had the potential of being pretty had she not worn so much makeup.
And here she came.
I hurriedly stuffed Ravioli behind my armchair, snatched a book from my stack, and casually tried to read it upside-down. Vivian, who was wearing a skirt that was several inches too high and a shirt that was several inches too low, wheeled a squeaky cart of books past my chair. She gave me a tight, lipsticked frown, as if reading a book upside-down was something punishable, and unloaded her books onto a shelf a few feet away.
“Hi, Vivian,” I said weakly.
“Miss Quiver,” she snapped.
Quiver she did not.
Reeeow. Ravioli sauntered carelessly from behind my chair. I continued reading the book upside-down. Go away, I begged Ravioli telepathically. Please. You’re going to get me kicked out for good.
Vivian raised her eyebrows as the cat jumped on my lap and started to knead my legs with his tiny, razor-sharp claws, meowing loudly.
“Is this your cat?” asked Vivian quietly. If looks could kill, I would be on life support with tubes sticking out of my arms.
“What cat?” I said, trying and failing to look confused.
“The one on your lap.”
“Oh. Yeah. No, he isn't mine. He just – ah – jumped into my lap a couple minutes ago. I have no idea where he came from.”
There was a long pause. Vivian’s glare would have made a basilisk shudder.
“Cute, huh?” I asked, several eternities later.
Vivian didn't need to answer. She straightened her volunteer badge pompously and said, “Your behavior will not be tolerated, Venza Bentley. This is the sixth time I've seen you in the library with that – that – thing.”
“It’s called a cat,” I muttered.
“Rule number forty-three clearly states the only animals allowed in this establishment are registered service dogs. Your cat, quite obviously, is not one of them. Come along. We need to talk to the head librarian about this.”
“What?” I said, jumping up from my chair and throwing Ravioli unceremoniously to the floor. “You can’t do this to me! He isn’t my cat! I swear! He just follows me around and gets me in trouble!”
I could tell she had plans for what she would do with me if I didn't follow her orders, so I trailed behind her miserably, like a peasant walking to an executioner. Ravioli bounced along behind me, pushed-in face full of malicious pleasure.
Vivian marched me past the dusty rows of bookshelves, occasionally snapping orders to other browsers.
“You! Keep it down! This is a library, not a playground!”
“How many times do I have to tell you, no gum in the library! Spit that out at once!” “Put that back and find a children’s book!”
At last, we stopped in front of the official-looking desk of the head librarian, who was a rigid-looking elderly woman wearing a hideous knit scarf. She loved rules as much as my little sister loves complaining.
We stood in front of her desk for several moments as she tapped away at an ancient typewriter. I don’t know why she uses it rather than buy a laptop like a normal human being, but it’s just a fact of life, like death and burnt marshmallows.
Finally, Vivian cleared her throat. “Mrs. Abernathy?”
“Miss Borealis here,” said Vivian, pointing an accusatory finger at me, “keeps on bringing her hideous, obese fleabag into the library. I've told her again and again that rule number forty-three clearly states –”
Vivian never got to tell Mrs. Abernathy what rule forty-three clearly stated, because the latter leaped from her chair with a very un-old-ladyish roar of rage.
“HOW DARE YOU CALL MY CAT A HIDEOUS, OBESE FLEABAG?” she screamed, so loudly most of the people browsing turned to stare. It grew unnaturally quiet, even for a library.
“Mrs. Abernathy,” she squeaked. “I – I’m so sorry, I d-didn't know he was your cat – I th-thought –”
“YOU THOUGHT WRONG!” Mrs. Abernathy shrieked. “THIS IS IT, VIVIAN QUIVER! YOU’RE FIRED!”
Here Mrs. Abernathy sprang up and tore off Vivian’s shiny ‘Volunteer’ badge off her chest, taking a good deal of her already revealing shirt with it. Vivian staggered away on her too-tall heels, breathing hard and visibly figuring out what had just happened.
Mrs. Abernathy scooped up her cat and murmured, “My poor, sweet baby… don’t listen to that nasty girl, you’re just big-boned…Mommy loves her precious kitty-cat…yes she does…”
Ravioli looked at me smugly from over his master’s shoulder.
I quietly slipped away and into my beanbag and resumed reading. A few minutes later, something heavy and warm hopped into my lap.
by Grace W., age 12
As I sat on the porch of my house, I stared down at my feet. My feet, clad with too-large, garbage can shoes that I found in the locker room at school. They were disgusting and ridiculous, but they were the only things that kept my toes from turning black from frostbite and falling off.
I had taped them up on the sides to keep the seam from coming undone. I sighed. I was used to being the welfare kid, it was normal for me. I was used to having to shout to the half-deaf lunch room lady that I was on welfare lunch, while all of the other kids who had a father to provide for their family snickered and whispered insults about my family to their friends. It happened quite often.
I was so caught up in my self-pitying thoughts that I didn’t notice my friend Michael creep up behind me. He sat down next to me and said, “What’s up homey?”
He noticed me staring at my feet and scowled. “Dawg, you ain’t still trippin’ ’bout your shoes? Man how many times do I got to tell you, ain’t nobody give a damn about what you put on your feet!” He scoffed and ran his finger along the taped up seems. “Man, you really saved these, dawg.”
“Well, behold the wonders of tape!” I said sarcastically.
Michael stood up. “C’mon brother, we’re going to the shoe shop. Imma buy you some real kicks.”
He motioned for me to stand up. I sighed and did. I knew perfectly well that Mike had more money than me, but it still irritated me when he tried to buy me stuff. Usually I would turn him down, but shoes were the one thing that he always envied about the rich kids, and he just wanted to feel comfortable for once.
We made our way to the shoe shop in town and opened the door. It was only a step-higher class-wise than my neighborhood, and there was still a possibility of getting jumped, but it was much easier to relax here. I began to look through the different shapes and sizes and types of sneakers. I was a 10, and I knew that I loved Nikes, but I wasn’t about to make Michael spend that much money on me. So I picked out a pair of black unknown brand shoes that looked like they fit.
I handed them to Michael and he sighed and took them to the counter. After they were rung up he handed them to me and waited for me to unlace my old ones. I put the new ones on and as we walked out I tossed the dirty duct taped shoes into a trash can.
As I was walking along with Mike, feeling like a new man with my fancy new kicks on, I accidentally stepped on something. I bent down to pick up the yellow pencil with a pink eraser that had just come in contact with my foot. It was about an inch long and had been used to its point of death.
For some reason, holding the small pencil in my hand made me feel like I had some kind of intangible power. I fumbled it in my hand and the lead smeared all over it. Then I pocketed it.
When Mike and I reached my porch I thanked him and he told me to forget it even happened. He walked off and away to his upper- class neighborhood while I opened the screen door of my house. My mother was no doubt at bingo, hoping to win money that she would never get her hands on and I was alone.
I pulled out my sketchbook. Sketching was my escape. I drew out the pencil from my pocket and positioned it in my hand. Then I began to run the tip across the paper, only subconsciously knowing what I was creating. When I returned to my senses, I glanced down at the pad and saw what I had just revealed through my artwork. I had drawn the dumpster shoes that I had just let go of, my crappy home, the tattoo that I always wanted, “Ain’t no such thing as halfway crooks” down my arm, from one of my favorite songs, Shook Ones Pt. 2 by Mobb Deep. I had drawn a picture of my sketch pad with fire coming out of it. And lastly I drew my best friend Rick’s gravestone. He was jumped when I was 15 and they beat him to death. “Rest In Peace Homey” I had written.
I stared at the collage that I had just created. This was my life, the things that mattered most to me. I wanted to show the world the depth of my soul, wanted to show them what I was made of.
Suddenly motivated beyond explanation, I grabbed the paint set that I had stolen from the nearby drugstore a while back. Then I exited my house and continued on until I reached the wall of an abandoned warehouse that was never occupied, but everyone went by it. I began to paint my doodle down. It was sloppy and crooked, but that made it even more special. It made it more like me.
When my work of art was completed I stepped back and admired my graffiti. It was beautiful, in a twisted way. Lastly, I signed it DW, for Dustin Williams. Then I put my hoodie up and walked away from the wall that was now mine. The wall that showed the entire world what it was like to be me.
By Paige S., age 12
It felt like I had been running for hours. My heart rattled in my chest. I just kept running despite of the pain. Branches tore at my arms and legs. Each foot step pulled me farther away. Tears were pouring down my face. They tasted salty on my lips. I crumpled at the foot off a large oak tree, trying to catch my breath but it seemed to just keep running away.
All around me were trees, each looking exactly like the last. Their tops crowed together making a roof that blocked out the sun. These woods were strangely quiet, not a single cricket around. All the folks avoid going in the woods. I was attracted to it. Its eerie presence made me feel like it was inviting me. Sometimes I actually I heard voices calling me to it. That was just in my head. At least, I think it is.
I ran my tongue over my lips. My heart stopped for a second. I tasted the tears. I tasted the sadness. I tasted the regret. My eyes closed for a moment as I let out a long shuddering sigh.
“What are you doing out in these woods, kid?”
I shrieked and turned to see a man standing looking skeptically at me.
I felt like I was looking at a character straight out of a movie. He wore a tattered jacket over an equally torn shirt. His pants were reinforced with duct tape and had patches everywhere so you could only guess what they were originally like. His shoes looked like someone tossed them in a blender and his hat might have been mistaken as a cushion once or twice. His face was covered with a fine layer of dirt. Last but not least he even had a genuine hobo bundle swung over his shoulder.
“You deaf? I said what are you doing out here?” His voice was rough and scratchy as if he had used it one too many times.
“I...Uhh...was just...” Suddenly tears sprung to my eyes. All the events of earlier ran through my mind. I bit my lip and covered my face with my hands. When I opened my eyes a couple minutes, he was still there, standing in the same position. His face was blank, expressionless.
“You done doing that?” he said.
I watched him as he tossed the bundle on the forest floor and collapsed, letting out a sigh of relief.
I looked away. I heard him pulled out something and bite into it. We sat there for a while, the only sound the crunching and chewing.
“Well, are you ever gonna tell me what’s the matter?” he said. His voice sliced through the silence like a dull knife.
I shook my head but then sighed once again. “Sometimes I wish I could just start over.”
I heard him murmur something. An apple core landed at my feet.
“You see this apple core?”
I gave a small nod still avoiding his gaze.
“Well, someday you are gonna have this apple core. You’re gonna be hungry and your stomachs gonna be growling and you’re gonna look at this apple core and wish you hadn’t ate. You can hope and pray, but no amount of that is gonna make that apple core be an apple again. So you can sit and waste your time or you can go out and find yourself another apple tree.”
He staggered up and slung the pack over his shoulder once again. “At one point on this journey you’re gonna wish you had gone down the left path. You just gotta learn to never look back.”
And with that, he turned and started off in the fogging maze of trees until he seemed to vanish in the mist.