In January, we ran our annual short story contest for our students. Below, you'll find the winning pieces from the 4th-6th and 10th-12th grade categories. Congratulations to Atticus Belgrave in 6th grade from Peterborough, ON, Canada and Jackson Whorton in 10th grade from Alabaster, AL.
How Perseverance, Patience, and a Chicken Paid Off
Nothing exciting ever happened in my small town. It was a boring town, with a boring school and boring people. Until one day, a new shop opened up on Main Street.
I would not have noticed the shop at first, for it looked like all the other shops. It was the grand opening sign in the window that caught my eye. It is probably another boring china shop, I thought. But curiosity got the better of me and I stopped to look inside. As I opened the door, I gasped at the sight that met my eyes. The shop was filled with countless racks of special suits. There was a water suit, which allowed you to breathe under water, a spider suit, which allowed you to crawl on walls, and many others. This was nothing like a china shop! It was unique, and so much better. The only problem was that the suits cost money and I had none. I needed money fast. Then maybe, just maybe, I could buy a suit.
The next day, I hunted for a job. To my frustration, no shop would hire me because I was only ten years old. Crestfallen, I ambled home. Along the way, I saw a sign tacked onto a post. It read:
LOST: Rhode Island Red Chicken, Bernice
From: Troy Farm
Reward: $500 in Cash
What? A cash reward? This was my chance! I had to find that chicken! I ran back into town, and started my hunt for Bernice. I investigated every alley, examined every store, and even scoured the country side, but found no trace of the chicken. It was getting dark, so I started on the long march home.
Nearing home, I heard a strange noise. I ran towards the commotion, and found a fat Rhode Island Red fighting ferociously with our prized chicken Aristotle. The Rhode Island Red was none other than Bernice! I caged him, and patiently waited till morning to bring him to the Troy farm.
The next morning I jumped out of bed, grabbed Bernice, and rushed to the Troy farm. I knocked on the door, but got no answer. I went around to the back and knocked. Still no answer! I checked the fields and barns, but still found no one. Disappointed, I plopped down on the steps. Finally, as the sun began to sink, I saw the Troy family coming up the lane. I quickly exchanged Bernice for the money, and bounded into town, only to find the shop closed. No, it can’t be! But it was. How could I wait one more day? Exasperated and tired, I slowly strode home.
Finally, tomorrow morning came. I ran to the suit shop and saw it: brand new, it had just arrived. It had wings, and was bright green. I purchased the suit, and tried it on. Perfect fit! I stepped outside, and leaped! I flew high, and saw Bernice, Aristotle, and the whole town. How my patience had paid off! I had a flight suit, and a new job: looking for lost animals and people. I thanked God, and flew about the rest of the day.
Grades 4-6 Winner
“...and then when I was six, we moved to Colombia to do mission work,” says the patient.
“And how did that make you feel?” I ask.
“I….I don’t remember,” says the old man, “I was six.”
“Try to relax your mind a bit and recreate the scene.”
“OK.” The patient closes his eyes.
“What do you see?”
“I see...a dirt floor. My mother’s in the kitchen cooking something that smells like onions and spices.”
“Mmmmhmmm,” I say, scribbling on my notepad.
“And I’m playing with this little plastic figurine. It’s some sort of Colombian superhero…”
“Yes, yes..” I scribble some more.
“But its face is melted because I left it next to the tea kettle once.”
I freeze. I look up at the man lying on the couch in my office. I know now why he seems so familiar to me. It’s me. From the future. Take a moment to remember what it was like to be a young child. Happy, free, naïve, playful. Now try to imagine being a kid, but with all sources of comfort taken away. That is what it was like for Jeremy when he moved to a foreign land at the tender age of 6. Jeremy loved superheroes ever since he first saw Batman on the local cartoon channel on his TV back in the States. However, in Colombia, there aren’t any superheroes on TV, nor are there comic book shops. There’s just cheap plastic knock-offs of American heroes at the store and corny low-budget movies on TV. Jeremy had many friends back in America too, but he never saw them anymore. He didn’t have many friends in Colombia, since he never could learn how to speak the language. When his parents first told him they were moving to Colombia, he thought it was going to be a great adventure, like Indiana Jones.
However, Jeremy’s parents were always doing medical work, leaving Jeremy to sit idly at the house, bored and isolated from everything else around him. That is, until Christmas. Christmas was different in Colombia: there were no bright colorful lights or fragile mementos from the past wrapped extravagantly around a delicious-smelling tree, with brightly wrapped presents sitting underneath. No, there wasn’t even a tree. There was only a sad cardboard box on the dirty floor in the corner. That’s ok; Jeremy wasn’t complaining. He was never a fan of most of the decadence that sweeps his home country like a roaring tsunami anyway; Christmas was never about any of the plastic reindeer or socks with elaborate patterns and drawings filled to the brim with random trinkets and candy that would either be eaten all at once without savoring or wasted. Christmas was about love, peace, hope, not who has the most stuff. He was pleased with what he got; a superhero whose name translated to Mansuper, an obvious rip off of Superman, but with an M instead of an S on his chest and a Colombian flag in the background. At first, it was just Jeremy and himself; now it was Jeremy and Mansuper, who was affectionately rechristened Manny. The two became the best of friends, with Manny and Jeremy teaming up to fight evil across the country, from alien invaders to monsters the size of the Empire State Building back home. In a world in which he felt all alone, Jeremy had found a friend, and someone who could make everything right again. One day at home, Jeremy left Manny on the stove. Jeremy’s mom was cooking dinner and put the tea kettle on, not noticing her son’s beloved companion and super powered protector lying right next to it in her work. Jeremy had been searching for Manny all day; where could he possibly have gone?
“Have you seen Manny?” the child asked his mother.
“No, honey, but you need to clean your room and make your bed before dinner,” replied Mrs. LaGuetta.
“I’m sure he’ll turn up there.”
Jeremy stepped into the living room, inquiring his father.
“No, son, now do what your mom tells you or else you won’t have your favorite meal tonight,” his father said.
Jeremy begrudgingly went to his room and did what he was told, but still no sign of Manny. That’s when he heard his mother shouting. Jeremy ran into the kitchen to find Manny, his face now a disfigured, liquefied mess, an image forever seared into his brain. That was the moment Jeremy changed.
Twenty years later, Jeremy was now a psychiatrist in NYC. After a rough-and- tumble childhood and adolescence in Colombia, Jeremy was getting back on his feet with a steady job in his homeland. Why psychiatrist? He found he had an uncanny ability to understand and empathize with unstable people. Maybe he was unstable. Usually, the “normal” patients, if you could call them that, were depressed or divorcees, with the occasional lunatic sometimes showing up for good measure. Now he found himself talking to, well, himself. It was like looking at a distant relative with an uncanny resemblance to you; familiar, yet fundamentally different.
“Who are you?” Jeremy asked.
“I think you know the answer to that question,” old Jeremy replied.
Clearly he was not too mentally unstable. He seemed nervous and impatient.
“Why are you here?”
Maybe Jeremy was finally going insane. However, this somehow felt quite real.
“What about Manny?”
“You lost your faith because of Manny. Why did we? It’s going to destroy us in the future. I can’t tell you how, or when, or why, but my memory is so bad, and you have to listen…”
But he suddenly vanished. Just completely disappeared. What had just happened? He began to think. Why had he put so much faith in a plastic figure? Why had that changed him so much? Why do humans put all their faith in the tangible?
Jeremy left the office that day changed. Like an ordinary human becoming a superhero, Jeremy had been reborn.
Grades 10-12 Winner