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Student Spotlight | 9 Minutes

In the Classroom: Short Story Contest Winning Entries

In the Classroom: Short Story Contest Winning Entries

Below are the winning entries of our annual Short Story Contest in grades 4-6 and 10-12. Congratulations Gracia Bare and Ella Davis.

Daytime Darkness

By Gracia Bare, Grade 6

“Beep! Beep! Beep!” went the alarm. I groaned and covered my face with a pillow. I did not want to get up for school today. Today was the Science Fair and I was not looking forward to presenting my project. I pulled the pillow off of my face expecting the sun to stream in from my window, but instead outside was pitch black! That was weird, I thought. I ran to the window. It looked like the middle of the night except for the time on the clock said 7:00 a.m. The sun didn’t rise today…

Alarmed, I stumbled to the door. I fumbled for the doorknob, and barreled downstairs.

“Mom!” I called.

“Bridget?!” Mom said.

“What’s going on?”

“I don’t…” Mom began, but before she could finish, a knock sounded at the door. “Come in,” Mom called out.

The door flew open, and someone called out, “Bridget!” It was Adalyn, my best friend. She was also my partner for the science fair.

“Bridget!” Adalyn repeated. “I’m pretty sure I know what’s going on!”

“Really?!” That was shocking. “What do you mean?”

“You know the volcano we made?” Adalyn asked. “When I woke up, I heard sounds that made me think of a volcano exploding. I also smelled ashes, and it felt like it was hard to breathe.”

“But how does a model volcano have anything to do with this?” Adalyn was crazy…or was she?

“I don’t quite know yet,” said Adalyn.

“Let’s go see if we can find out,” I suggested.

“That’s why I came! Oh, and by the way, here’s a flashlight to help us.”

A beacon of light flashed into the darkness. Covering my eyes, I waited until they adjusted to the light.

“I honestly hope you girls know what you’re doing,” Mom said.

“Me too,” I replied.

As we proceeded up the stairs to my bedroom, I inquired of Adalyn how one small-scale replica of a volcano could inflict this much damage upon the world.

“Like I said, I don’t quite understand it yet,” replied Adalyn. “I just know it can’t be a coincidence.”

Groaning I continued up the stairs. We really had no clue what we were doing.

In my bedroom, we pulled the volcano from under my bed. “Here goes nothing.” We stared at it.

“Okay,” Adalyn said slowly. “Now what?”

“It doesn’t appear that there’s anything wrong with it,” I said. “Perhaps we should see what occurs when we do the genuine experiment.”

“We could attempt to,” Adalyn agreed, though she looked anxious.

Taking Adalyn’s flashlight, I went downstairs to gather the ingredients.

When I came back, we began cautiously pouring them into the volcano. It rapidly began to gush over.

“Seems like it…” My voice died away. Suddenly, the volcano was shaking aggressively.

“What’s going on!” exclaimed Adalyn.

The volcano shuddered and trembled, and I scrunched my eyes shut. Was this how I was going to die? Without notice, someone jostled my shoulder. Was this heaven? My eyes popped open, but I wasn’t on the floor with Adalyn. Instead, my comfy bed was beneath me, and Mom was shaking me awake.

“Let’s go Bridget!” she exclaimed. “Adalyn’s waiting downstairs!”

Dumbfounded, I gaped at her. Could all of that have really just been a dream? Peeking under my bed, I saw that the volcano was just how I had left it the night before. I hurriedly got dressed and sprinted downstairs with the volcano.

“Ready, Bridget?” Adalyn asked.

All I could do was smile and nod. That had been the most preposterous dream I had ever had.



Airport Antiques

By Ella Davis, Grade 12

“Carousel D!” my friend yelled to me. We had just arrived at the airport and were about to pick up our bags from the baggage claim. The bags were already moving along the conveyor belt when we walked up to Carousel D. I spotted my black rolling bag immediately and pulled it off the carousel. It was a lot heavier than I remembered.

“Hurry!” yelled my friend, “Let’s get in line for customs before it gets too long.”

I wheeled my luggage over. It was moving pretty fast for once. We were next in line when all of a sudden–

“Excuse me, Miss. Please come with me.” An officer stated firmly in my ear.

“Wha–? Me?” I was startled. Where did he come from?

“Miss, please don’t make a scene. I just need to check your luggage.”

Bewildered, I followed the officer to an empty room. He shut the door behind me.

“Open your bag please.”

I lugged my black suitcase onto the table and unzipped it.

“What the–?” I started. I couldn’t believe what was inside.

“Miss, did you know you were carrying these when you boarded the plane?” the officer asked. His French accent made my ears ring.

“N-no,” I said, “These don’t belong to me. There must be some mistake.” I awkwardly stuck my hands into the pockets of my white jacket.

The officer pulled on a pair of blue disposable gloves and held up a book. The front cover read The Social Contract. He set it down and took another book out of my suitcase: Beowulf. Nestled among my folded socks and shirts were Saint Augustine’s City of God and Democracy in America.

“Did you have any connecting flights, miss?” he asked.

“Yes, I changed planes at Ronald Reagan International.” I felt slightly sick.

The officer placed the books back inside the suitcase and zipped it closed.

“I need to detain you for questioning. Arrangements will be made for your accommodation. Follow me, please.”

He swung the suitcase onto the floor and gestured towards the door. I pushed it open. My friend Kai was waiting for me on a metal bench. He stood up as I exited the back room with the officer behind me dragging my suitcase.

“Whoa, what happened?” asked Kai. “You just disappeared. Is everything okay?”

I nod-shrugged. The officer looked between me and Kai.

“Did you travel together?” he asked.

“Yeah, why?” Kai replied.

The officer’s lips tightened, and he gestured for Kai to follow us. We crossed the baggage claim and went through a hall marked ‘Security Only’ before we ended up behind the customs checkpoint. There, our officer met with two others and explained the situation in French. As he talked, their expressions grew stern. The few words I understood made my heart sink.

“Je pense que... Américain... illégal...”

Surely, we could not have done anything illegal yet. We flew into this airport forty minutes ago.

“What on earth, Carrie?” Kai muttered.

“Look, all I know is that there are ancient books in my suitcase, and we are being detained for an indefinite of time,” I said.

Kai cracked his knuckles and checked his watch anxiously. Our bus to Annecy was scheduled to leave in about four hours, a detail I forgot to mention to the officer.

As we watched, our officer flipped my suitcase onto a bench and opened it. A female guard pulled out a scanner and scanned the barcode on the cover of each book. They discussed among themselves, and our officer approached us.

“These books are original copies that were stolen from the British Library forty-eight hours ago. You are now possible suspects. You may either choose to await questioning here in Paris or be immediately escorted back to America.”

I almost cried with relief. They had no concrete evidence that we were criminals. All they wanted was for us to wait around until they found someone to blame.

“Well, of course we will stay and help with the investigation. I have never seen these books before, but if you want to question us either here or in Washington D.C. then go ahead.”

Wiping my sweaty palms on my jeans, I saw Kai crumple out of the corner of my eye. His shoulders drooped.

“Wait,” he said, “I’ll fly home.”

I did a double take.

“I’m sorry, sir.” Kai nervously popped his knuckles behind his back as he addressed the officer, “We’re college students who are here in France for a school trip. We know nothing about the robbery, but I would rather go back to America and see the lawyers there.” He turned to me, “Can we talk?”

Jerking on Kai’s sleeve, I pulled him out of earshot of the officers.

“Kai, look. Just let them question us. You already started on the wrong foot by trying to lie.” I glanced pointedly at his knuckles. “What school trip? I thought we were here to visit your aunt.”

He bent his head down and whispered, “Remember last semester when I wrote all your lab reports for you? The professor found out I did them instead of you because I cracked under pressure.”

“So, you can’t keep a secret. I know that. What’s your point?” I replied.

“I could tell the police that I actually do know something about those books.” Kai shrugged.

I could strangle him. I thought this was just going to be a well-earned vacation with my best friend to see the French Alps. No way was he going to stand interrogation by Interpol if it came to that.

As much as Kai frustrated me, he had gotten me an A+ in my Psychology class. I stepped toward the police officers and held up my hands.

“Look,” I said, “These books might be the most precious books in the world, and we wouldn’t know. I don’t even know what ‘Werewolf’ is about. How long will the questioning take, and will we be able to catch our ride in three hours?”

The officer looked me in the eye and growled, “This extremely expensive copy of Beowulf is now in our custody and will be returned to England, along with the other books. Both of you are now suspects and will be incarcerated either here or in America until we find the thief.”

“We’re going to jail?” cried Kai, “I thought you just said questioning. I can’t go to jail.”

Reading our agitation, the officer nodded at the two other policemen who produced handcuffs. As they advanced toward us, Kai threw himself on my suitcase and started running with it. What was I supposed to do? My dreams of eating croissants and jam were falling apart before my eyes. I sprinted after him.

“We’re evading la police de l’aéroport,” I gasped. “You can’t do that, Kai. You can’t even lie.”

The three French police officers jumped onto their golf cart with siren blaring. As we dodged policemen in the corridor behind customs, they shouted, “Arrêtez-vous!”

We did not stop. Kai and I ran with the suitcase until we reached a roadblock. More police had rolled their golf carts across the hall, making it impassable. Panting, we slowed to a stop as police surrounded us.

Kai dropped the suitcase handle onto the tiled floor with a sharp clack and raised his hands. Even with them held high, he couldn’t help popping each knuckle one by one. Apparently, the gesture meant something to the policemen. They all exclaimed and rushed toward him, pulling his arms into handcuffs, and ignoring me.

A few steps behind him, I snatched up the handle of my precious black suitcase. I extracted myself from the swarm of blue uniforms and flipped my white jacket inside out. Antique books secure, I calmly walked away.

At 4:53 p.m. a girl in a black jacket wheeling a black suitcase got on a bus going to Annecy, France to meet the antique dealer.