Congratulations to our Short Story Contest Winners! Here is the winner of the Grades 7-9 category.
The Shakespeareans, by Liberty Steng, 9th grade
It’s raining outside. The kind of rain that makes steam drift out of the New York City manholes and dampens your clothes and your hair. I rush across the street toward the towering glass building and push my way through the revolving doors. Warm at last, but still damp, I collapse my umbrella and carry it under my arm. A crowd of people stands before a line of elevators, so I push my way to the front. The doors on elevator C slides open and I step inside along with six or seven other rain-soaked patrons. As the door closes, I feel the floor start to rise below my feet, slowly, steadily, the usual awkward silence filling the space between us.
“You’re probably wondering why I brought you all here,” one man says, breaking the silence. He hits the emergency break button suddenly, and the elevator jerks to a halt.
I nod my head silently. After all, he had called all of us out into this rainstorm on our day off.
“Mr. Connely, do you know?” The same man asks, looking at an elderly man who was leaning on a cane.
“No sir,” he answers. “Do you Miss Dawngust?” I shake my head immediately after hearing my name being called. “No sir.” He said nothing.
He was silent for a minute more and then he pressed the third button on the wall opposite myself. Then the eighth, then the first. The combination of them opened a secret
door beside me. I pressed the yellow button inside as I had often done. The elevator groaned, then lurched to the right. We then began to move sideways, heading towards our meeting room, which was underground.
“I called you here today,” the man began. “Because we have a problem in the room.” He announced, creating murmurs among us. I remained nonvocal.. The elevator stopped and the doors creaked open.
Everything was silent for a mere second; then something flew past the door, nearly touching the Director's nose. He remained still and watched as the books fluttered past us in an array of chaos.
“Not again.” Someone whispered behind me.
“Yes again, my dear Shakespeareans.”
He had used our name that we called ourselves. We were the Shakespeareans: the people who wrote the magical books. We called ourselves Shakespeareans, because we were authors under that name. Authors of magical books that were authored by “Shakespeare”. Except recently the books were getting out of hand.
I stepped out of the elevator and ducked as a flying book overhead nearly grazed the top of my head with its fluttering pages. I then walked to my desk that was on the far side of the room and straightened my pen and papers. The people in the elevator followed my example as the books roared and made strange noises above us.
“Now, collect your own books and pin your work down. And don’t forget to calm them!” The Director shouted.
I nodded and stepped up onto my chair. I stood tall and began to reach my arms up, trying to grab the ranting books that were out of control. I caught one and recognized it as one of my own. The leather binding was scratched at the top and I began to rub it.
“Did Romeo and Juliet scratch you again?” I asked it as its shaking pages began to calm.
Now you might be asking, reader: how do you calm the books down? It is simple: when the books hear the soothing voice of their author, it begins to feel impervious. When all of the author’s novels are collected together, the books feel at home with each other. Then, it settles down and begins to act like a normal, proper book.
My book trembled in my hands but it soon fell fast asleep as I stroked its binding.
“That’s a good tale,” I told it, gently lowering it into my basket, where all my books were kept. It then went still and fell asleep.
I smiled and stepped back onto the chair, catching a second book that flew overhead. But it wasn’t mine.
“John, I’ve found your Bridge!” A tall, thin man with a red mustache came clambering over chairs and loud noises to retrieve his second written novel. The book roared and growled at me, trying to get away and snap its pages around my fingers.
“Thank you, Ariella.” he thanked me, taking the book. He then pointed at the book. “Very bad book, I was looking everywhere for you.” He then nodded at me and left, soothing the book down.
I smiled at the pair and caught another book of my own which I knew was mine because of the navy-blue, leather cover. I stroked its front and it trilled a friendly noise,
knowing it was in my safe arms. I rested the second book in the basket and then stood up on the chair. I then began to talk loudly to my books, trying to call them to me.
Five books that were fluttering by, turned themselves in my direction and chittered happily. They soared into my arms and I caught them, stepping down off the chair. I soothed them by talking to them in a friendly tone, telling them that they would receive a brother soon, for I was authoring another novel. They grew silent, and became happy and content.
I was just missing one more finished book, the other seven were in my basket and sleeping soundly.
“Ariella! I’ve found one!” I turned my head around, hearing my name, as my blonde hair followed me. I ran towards Phillip who was waving my last book in his hands.
“Thank you, Phillip!” I said, grabbing the screaming, 400-page book in my hands. “You naughty thing!” I said, walking back over to my desk to put the now-calming book away. “Now stay here,” I told it, laying it beside the books in my basket which had a blanket underneath, making it comfortable for them. It purred a noise and seemed to snuggle closer to his fellow novels.
I smiled and suddenly noticed it had grown quiet, except for the silent scolding of authors, telling their books to never fly away again. All the books were retrieved from the air and were now in the hands of their creators. The air was clear of pages, the ground was slightly covered in rustled papers, and the Director still stood in the elevator doorway, nodding at our work.
“Very good.” He announced, nodding his head in approval. “Now, since all of you are already here, you shall work today and have tomorrow off.”
We all nodded and sat down at our desks.
I smiled at the papers in front of me. It was 221 pages and growing. I picked up my pen, stroked the sleeping books in the basket beside me twice, and began to write.
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