The winners of The Enterprise Creative Writing Contest are below.
There are three winners in each of the categories represented, except for the fourth through seventh grade, with two students tied for second place. Thank you to all of our participating students.
Pre-K – 3
Santa and the Naughty Boy
Meadows of Dan Elementary School
One day, an elf sneaked into someone’s house with Santa. The elf sat on a shelf in the living room, admiring the beautiful Christmas tree full of colored lights blinking brightly. Santa was delivering presents to all the good boys and girls. On this Christmas Eve, the elf that sat on the shelf said, “I think this boy has been naughty.” Santa replied, “Ho! Ho! Ho! I think you are wrong! He has not been naughty.” The elf looked at Santa with a puzzled look. Santa pulled out his long list from his toy bag and kept looking for that boy’s name. He finally saw his name. The elf was right! The boy is on the naughty list. Santa thought for a few minutes. He decided to give him a present anyway because his name was on the very bottom of the list. Santa felt the boy tried to be a good boy. Santa and the elf had big hearts; full of love and giving. When the boy woke up and saw that Santa left him a present, he was so grateful. He learned a lesson from this. He became the best-behaved boy ever and set an example to all the other boys and girls.
I Love Christmas
By Hunter Reynolds,
Blue Ridge Elementary School
I love Christmas because I get to spend time with my family and friends. My most favorite thing is that my whole school is out for Christmas! My mom, my dad, my sister, and I will sing with my karaoke machine. I love Christmas!
A Deer Eating Apples
By Arianna Whitt,
Meadows of Dan Elementary School
There was a deer in my backyard eating apples. When I looked outside, it just kept standing there. I went outside to try to pet it, but it ran away. Then he came back. It was Rudolph because he had a red nose. He ate all the apples because none were on the ground.
By Bailey Walker,
One night changed the world, the night now known as the “Night Bright as Day.” The whole earth fell in one night, and that is about all we know. We are still down here in this “town” that our ancestors made, thinking that something like that night might happen again. We have food and water, but we also have boulder brutes that attack us whenever they can, and one of them killed a friend of mine. You might not know what a boulder brute is, so let me tell you. They are big and ugly as . . . um never mind. They look like big boulders until they attack, then they shoot out their arms and legs that look like rocks stuck together with big gaps here and there. Now I’ll tell you a little about me. I like cats, dogs, and motorbikes, and I have started training to go out and explore the world above! I have been wanting to go ever since I was a little kid, but now I’m 13 so I can start training! No one has been to the surface in 100 years, and I’m kind of nervous about going. I have no clue what to expect. That’s what training is for I guess, so wish me luck!
Since the Night Bright as Day
Year-253 Month-10 Day-22
As Jack finished writing in his journal there was a knock at the door, and without waiting, his friend and fellow trainee Bill Bowmen stepped into the room.
“Hey Jack,” said Bill, “what are you up to?”
“Oh nothing much,” Jack replied, “what’s up with you?”
“Oh nothing,” said Bill slyly, “just being on time for our first day of training. I heard that, just today, ten out of the thirty kids will be eliminated and sent home!”
“No kidding?” Jack said a little nervously.
“Yup,” Bill replied. “The four Deciders are coming to watch and choose the ten that will be sent home.”
The Deciders were four elected rulers who made decisions for the Underlands. It was a big deal that they were coming to the trainees’ first day of real training. Jack started to feel sweat forming and running down his armpits.
The two friends entered the training zone near a large dome towards the middle of the underlands with the apple, peach, walnut, pecan, and pineapple trees. Jack and Bill signed in at the desk outside the main door to the training zone. As they entered, they heard a buzz of conversation and quickly joined in.
“I wonder what kind of test the Deciders have planned for us?” Bill asked.
“It doesn’t matter what they throw at us, we can handle anything! You and I trained on the simulator and got high enough scores to get here just like everyone else!”
“Yeah,” replied Bill, “we got this.”
Just then the speakers stopped the low hum of music that was playing, and the lights dimmed. A figure emerged, clad in a dark robe with a black mask that hid his or her face, as well as any features that would define them.
“Greetings trainees from across the Underlands!” The Decider boomed through the speakers. “You are all here because you passed our simulated trials with high scores that trump the average teenager, and that is why you are here! You all possess skills that are far greater than that of any of the other entrants in the trials.” Everyone cheered, and it took several minutes to calm everyone down. When at last everyone was quiet the Decider continued. “I will now assign teams to go into the training simulator.”
Small cards with numbers were handed out to everyone. Jack’s card had the number three, and Bill’s card had the number one. Someone else cried, “I’m five, man! I’m five.” Jack waved to Bill and walked to a large door marked with a glowing three.
Jack entered the training simulator with five others, and as the last one closed the door a voice came over the speakers. The voice said, “Alright, now that you are all in your group, introductions are in order, so please tell the others in your group what your names are. Then, when you are ready, press the button on the wall to the left of the door.”
The group looked at each other, and one by one, told their names to everyone else. Bob Right, Jill Washer, Jack Thatcher, Will Workmen, Walker Hope, and Lopez Stoll.
“Well,” said Walker, “shall we push the magic button and start the simulator?” Jill scoffed distastefully, and Bob sighed. Then Lopez walked up and pushed the button. Instantly the room transformed around them into a large armory and a voice called, “Welcome trainees to the armory. Here you will pick out your gear and weapons for your training sessions! So please look around, and pick the weapons and gear that best suit you and your team!”
Lopez walked right up to a huge high tech warhammer and picked it up. “Oh yeah!” cried Lopez, “this is sweet!” He swung the hammer experimentally. “Yeah,” he said more softly, “I really like this.”
Jill found a large gun, picked it up, and smiled, being the only girl in the group she was determined to make a good impression on her team. Bob armed himself with thermal, electro, and gas grenades, as well as a fully automatic rifle. He grinned at his weapons. Walker found a very sharp, strong, and high tech sword and high tech daggers. Will took a fully automatic rifle, some thermal grenades, and a high tech dagger. That left Jack. He knew what he was good at, so he armed himself with a high tech dagger, a semi-automatic pistol, thermal grenades, and dual grappling hook gun. When everyone was ready, they made their way to get their suits. The suits were full body and air tight. When the trainees put them on they found that there were more aspects of the suit they had not yet found out about, and so they were talked through how to use them by the voice over the speakers. There was a flip out chainsaw and a flip up camera on the right glove and a scanner on the left glove.
When everyone had suited up they pushed another button in the back of the armory and the scenery changed around them again. This time the scenery changed to a field of dead grass with an old, rusted, and broken tank flipped on its side.
“What was that?” Will asked.
“What was what,” Bob said, “I don’t—” He got no further. A sharp hiss cut through the air as a very large snake head rose up from a hole in the tank. Seeing them it leapt into the air hissing as it did so, and spread wide three sets of wings that flapped. The snake began twisting and coiling and hissing and . . . moving closer. Walker was the first to recover, and yelling at the others to move, dashed forward to face the on-coming beast.
“That’s a winged viper!” Bob yelled in terror. He ran the opposite way that Walker had run and disappeared.
“Bob has been eliminated,” a robotic voice said calmly. Meanwhile, Walker fought bravely but was giving ground to the viper. Jill snapped out of her daze next, raising her gun and taking a shot at the viper, hitting it in its belly and causing the viper to let out a furious cry. Jack snapped out of his stupor along with the others and attacked the viper. Lopez took a swing at the winged viper with his massive war hammer that it easily dogged. He growled in frustration.
Jack took advantage of the snake’s momentary distraction through a thermal grenade that exploded right beside the snake and sent it slamming into the ground. Walker stepped forward to deliver a killing blow with his blade, but the snake reacted too fast for Walker, and the snake, biting him, rose steadily into the air as Walker administered one of the two poison cures that had appeared in his pockets. Will stepped up and started throwing thermal grenades. He had wasted three, the snake avoiding them with remarkable ease, when he gave that up and started shooting at the snake along with Jill. But Jack knew that they would never bring the viper down that way.
He knew a way to beat this kind of enemy, and so he pulled out his dual grappling hook guns. He aimed at the winged viper as it dogged a furious barrage from Jill and Will. He pulled the trigger and the sharp forked clamp shot forth like a bullet with a loud bang! The clamp sunk deep into the vipers under belly with a sickening thud. Jack clicked a button on the grappling hook, and the chain started to reel in. A second shot from his other grappling hook hit the snake just below the head and served to pull the viper down faster. When it was in reach, Walker sliced the viper’s head off. As he did this the snake disintegrated into code. “Congratulations!” boomed the robotic voice, “you five have completed the challenge!”
After that the “field” they were standing in and the “weapons” that they were holding disappeared into code, and they were back in the room with the button and the glowing three on the door. After exiting the simulator, they found Bob sitting on a bench. Upon seeing them he stood up and smiled sadly. “Sorry guys” he said dejectedly. “I was just so terrified, and I really screwed up. I know I won’t make it, but I hope you’ll forgive me.” As he said this, tears sprung to his eyes, and he tried to hide them.
Walker walked up to Bob and patted him on the shoulder. “Come on, old chap,” he said, “don’t cry. I forgive you. I know how scary it is when you’re just thrown into something like that.”
“Really?” Bob sniffled slightly.
“Yes, really.” Walker replied. “Now come with me, and I’ll help you pack your stuff.”
“Thank you,” Bob said, regaining control. And with that they walked off.
Later that day Jack met up with Bill in their dorms, and both were glad that the other wasn’t packing.
“How’s it going?” Bill asked.
“Oh, fine,” replied Jack.
“So how was the winged wiper? Did you pee your pants again?”
“Not that tough and no way,” Jack replied evenly. The two grinned at each other and at the easy sense of humor they shared. While they were talking Walker escorted Bob back to his room that he shared with a guy named Husten. Husten had also been eliminated and was glad to know at least he wasn’t alone. Walker, true to his word, helped them pack up and move out, and soon the two friends were waving goodbye to Walker as they boarded a single track train. After meal time in the cafeteria, the trainees headed to their respective dorms and got some sleep because they all knew that the next day would be harder.
The trainees rose at the crack of dawn to loud trumpets over the speakers in their rooms. “Trainees!” a Decider boomed, with a hint of a southern accent. Whichever Decider was talking, it was not the one that had talked to them yesterday. “Wake up, get some breakfast, and head to simulator number one!”
Jack sat up groggy, and Bill just groaned and rolled over. “Well no use putting it off,” Jack said wearily and got out of bed. Bill followed suit soon after, and they got dressed in their respective bathrooms.
When they entered the cafeteria they found that the breakfast that they were to have was made up of the rations that would be given to them if and when they went to the world above. Bill groaned again and said, “I was really hoping to get some pancakes.”
“How about some dried beef, canned fruit, and stale bread instead?” Jack chuckled. Then the two friends walked up to the cafeteria counter and got their food. They sat down at a table with some other guys and talked amongst themselves.
At exactly 7:00 all of the trainees were in the simulator and the button was pushed. The trainees were teleported into the same armory as before, and all of them selected the weapons that they were accustomed to using. When everyone had put on their suits and collected their weapons, they were split into four groups of five when they were suddenly teleported into the arena that had been chosen for the simulation. Jack, Walker, and Will found themselves in the same group along with two others, Mehoy and Jullie. They found themselves on a long road that stretched into the fake horizon.
The voice of a Decider came over their radio. “Trainees,” the Decider said calmly, “your goal is simple. Just survive, and kill as many monsters as you can. You have eight hours until a helicopter will come down in the simulation to pick up survivors. Good luck!” And with that the Decider was gone, and monsters started appearing everywhere!
Will and Walker charged a huge boulder brute while Jack, Mehoy, and Jullie fought another winged viper. Walker swung his sword while Jack aimed his dual grappling hooks. Will clicked the homing button on his dagger while Mehoy threw an explosive heat-seeking throwing star. As their battle raged, another one was also getting under way as the group with Bill and Jill fearlessly fought a pine beast, a huge monster of a thing that had four long, thick legs reaching ten feet that ended in a point, with a large body and a T-Rex like head. Two trainees (Ventur and Wurt) had already fallen to this formidable foe, but still Bill, Jill, and Tot, the other trainee in their group, fought the pine beast. While these two battles were raging, another group, which included Lopez, was being massacred by three winged vipers. “I need help over here!” Wick yelled as he wildly swung a small gatling gun trying to shoot a winged viper.
“So do I!” Gabe hollered as another winged viper spun around menacingly just out of reach of his electrified mace. BAM!
“Got one” Lopez yelled and went over to Gabe with his viper just as the other one eliminated Wick.
Jack and Mehoy finished off the snake, and after overcoming her initial shock, Jullie proved to be a very good shot with her electric crossbow that shot bomb arrows. The bolder brute never stood a chance. Now with the immediate danger taken care of the group could survey the surrounding area.
“Look over there, it’s a town!” Jullie shouted.
“Yes indeed it is,” agreed Walker. “Shall we check it out, or do you wish to stay here and fighteth more monsters?” Walker asked Will who was adjusting a dial on his flip out saw.
“I say we go,” was his answer. When they got there they saw what was the battlefield of group four with one dead winged viper, two wounded winged vipers and five eliminated trainees. They saw the already eliminated trainees and beasts by the glowing markers that floated above where they fell. One was Lopez. “Well, let’s deal with the flying garbage and figure out what to do next,” Will said, and he stepped forward to intercept the nearest winged viper.
While the trainees were in the simulator, Bob, who returned home but had kept in touch with Walker, found out some strange news that he felt he needed to share. But Bob never got to share anything with Walker or anyone else, because he didn’t hear the stepping of feet or the drawing of a blade.
The battle with the pine beast continued for what seemed like hours but could have just been seconds. Jill fired her gun over and over again, Bill threw grenades of all kinds and shot the thing with his dueling pistols, and Tot continued to shoot his triple barreled flamethrower at the pine beast, but it never died. Eventually they were forced to run. The beast chased them throughout the small burnt forest that they had found themselves in, and Jill was falling behind. Having the biggest weapon out of the group made her stamina deplete all the faster, and eventually she fell utterly exhausted to her knees. Before Bill or Tot could do anything the beast eliminated her.
“No!” Bill yelled as he ran. The duo burst from the trees and stopped dead in their tracks as they saw a sleeping winged viper. But stopping was a mistake, for the pine beast was on them almost as soon as they stopped, and Tot was eliminated right there. Bill dogged the beast only to be eliminated by the winged viper’s fangs.
After finishing off the winged vipers, team one stood alone with no clue where anyone else was. Will joined the others who left the simulation. Jack, Jullie, Walker, and Mehoy stood in a house waiting for any sign that the simulation was almost over.
Eight hours passed in the house, and there was still no sign of anyone else. When the helicopter landed, team one boarded, and left alone.
Once outside, team one and Will were greeted with boisterous applause by every trainee who was eliminated. After the applause died away the trainees said goodbye to everyone waiting to leave, while those who were staying rejoiced and hugged each other.
Back in Jack and Bill’s dorm room the two friends were catching up on what had happened to them in the simulator. Jack described fighting the boulder brute and winged viper while Bill described holding off, and then running from, the pine beast. “You made it pretty far from that beast in the simulator.” Jack remarked.
“You did a nice job taking care of those monsters too, you know.” Bill replied.
The next day the trainees knew it would be the hardest challenge yet because tomorrow they would become cadets, and their training would be complete.
The morning started like the previous with the Decider waking them up for a bland breakfast, but then they got an announcement over the intercom. “Trainees report to the platform in the auditorium to become a cadet!” The ten trainees filed on to the stage to receive their cadet badges.
Walker Hope, Melek Guyfown, Jack Thatcher, Jullie Millton, Will Workmen, Kalub Hoptown, Tomas Waymaker, Jewel Mitskewer, Bill Bowmen, and Mehoy Jackson. These are the names of the ten cadets. Now they face their most daunting task. Going to the world above.
Second Place – TIE
A Tale of Birds and Snow
By Hannah Phillips,
Meadows of Dan Elementary School
Paige stared upward towards the seemingly never ending winter sky, she was trying to spot any form of life other than her and her brother.
“Don’t you find it weird how we’re the only things that move for miles around?” she asked absentmindedly.
“No, this forest has been empty for years,” her older brother, Paul, said.
“Come on!” Paige said as she scooped up some snow and threw it at her brother.
“Stop! You’re going to ruin my jacket!” he said. Their dad had recently given Paul his old high school jacket from 1989. It has the high school’s name, Havensville High School, printed in bold bubble letters around a basketball. It used to be a rich blue, but after years of wear the color had faded.
“Fine,” Paige said as she dropped the snowball she was molding in her hands.
She stared behind them at the endless white snow painting that colored the ground. It was untouched except for her and her brother’s footprints. She took the small charm out of her pocket and stared at it for a while. The charm was a pretty little thing, a small purple-ish crystal hung from a string with beads threaded through it.
Paige and Paul had been instructed to hang the charm in one of the bare birch trees around them. Their family had been making the charms for years and hanging them in these trees. The charms do absolutely nothing, but it’s tradition, and everyone in their family honored tradition. She put the charm back in her pocket.
“Hey!” Paige called over to her brother “I think I found a good one, would you help me?” she asked as she motioned to one of the trees.
“Coming,” Paul responded as he walked over. Paige was already trying to scurry up the trunk to reach the first branch. Paul helped her up the tree and she grabbed a branch, pulling herself onto it. She climbed higher and higher into the tree, looking for a branch to tie the charm on. When Paige reached the top, she felt the chilly calm breeze ruffle her hair. She carefully took the small charm out of her pocket. Her hands reached in front of her, tying the charm on a small twig.
Paige looked below her at the forest and at the tall white trunks reaching up to her. She never had a real fear of heights. In fact, heights excited and intrigued her. There was a flash of darkness to the left of her. Her head turned to see a flock of pitch black birds flying downward. She thought this was weird, because she would’ve seen the birds before, but she hadn’t.
Her head turned downward to see where the birds were flying to. They were flying very oddly, spiraling downward towards something. No, someone. Paige’s heart quickened as she saw what looked to be a person being chased down by birds. The scene made no sense to her, a person being chased down by birds? It sounded like something out of a fairytale. She hurriedly climbed down the tree, jumping the rest of the way when she neared the bottom.
“I see someone!” Paige yelled to Paul who whipped his head around to her. “Someone’s over there!” she yelled as she pointed to the person she saw. She started to run, not even looking back to see if her brother was following her. Her eyes trained on the dark smudge of the person as the birds rained down from the sky. As the person was overwhelmed with the onslaught of feathered creatures, they fell to the snow-covered ground. Soon all that was visible were the birds. Paige didn’t think for a second what would happen to her. If the birds attacked a full-grown person, driving them to the ground, what would they do when she showed up? She didn’t know and she didn’t care. She just kept on putting one foot in front of the other.
When Paige neared the crowd of birds, she looked down at the snow that was stained crimson. She ran faster as the birds kept circling the person, leaving only a blur of dark feathers.
A shiver went down my spine as my grandma finished the story. “Please, grandma, please!” I say, “Do I really have to go to bed?” I ask.
“Yes sweetie, now good night,” my grandma said as she stood up. I knew I was getting too old for fairytales, but I absolutely loved it whenever my grandma sat down before I went to bed and told me stories. Besides, the stories she told me weren’t little kid tales. I hear that the original fairy tales were very dark. Like how in Little Red Riding Hood, the lumberjack had ripped open the belly of the wolf to rescue Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother. My grandma’s stories are like that.
I turned off the lamp and covered my head with my blanket. I could hear my grandma’s footsteps softly echo as she left my room, closing the door behind her. My grandma was an avid explorer at heart. She always loves to take photos and make up stories of the places she’s visited. I love to listen to them.
My grandma had just come back from one of her many trips to a local mountain. Each time she returned from that same mountain, she returned with a story. My head swirls with the possibilities of what might happen next in the tale. Crows attacking someone? I think about how ridiculous it sounds, but it is the kind of story I enjoy. I slowly fall into the oblivion of a dreamless sleep.
I awake to the sound of breakfast being made and sunlight shining right on my face. I sleepily cover my eyes with my hands, blocking out the sun.
“Time to wake up, sweetie,” my mother says as she fully opens the curtains to my windows. She leaves without saying a word.
I get out of bed and get myself dressed. A sweet smell of pancakes wafted through the air as I walked toward the staircase. I step into the bathroom, washing my face and hands before I go to breakfast. The stairs produce a dull thud as I descend. I step into the sunlit kitchen. My sister is seated at the table looking at her phone. My mom is making pancakes on the stove nearby. I walk to my chair, sitting down.
“Where’s grandma?” I asked my mom. My eyes gaze around the kitchen, looking one last time to try to spot my grandma.
“She had to leave, June bug,” my mother said, turning to me.
“Why?” I say, flabbergasted. Grandma had just gotten back from the mountains. I dramatically fell against the table. I stare up at my sister, she looks back.
“Have you ever heard of birds attacking people?” I asked Amber, my sister.
“Birds. Attacking people?”
“Well of course you haven’t! You never listen to fairy tales!” I slam my hands against the table, pushing myself upward.
Amber was holding something in her left hand. I look down at it. It’s a little charm with a purple crystal at the end. The rest is stringed with beads. My eyes widened as I realized where I’ve heard about it before. I snatched it.
“Hey!” says Amber as she almost drops the phone she’s holding in her right hand.
I look at Amber intensely.
“Where did you get this?” I ask.
“Grandma, she gave it to me before she left,”
I gasp, then I go to a long rant of grandma’s story. Amber looks at me with mild curiosity the entire time.
“Actually, I know a place that matches that forest,” she states when I’m done. “Really?” I say with excitement. I can hear our mother call that the pancakes are ready behind us.
My sister puts her phone away then leans toward me.
“I think we should go there…” she says as she grabs the charm out of my hand “…and tie this on one of the branches,” she motions her head toward the charm. “The forest is on the other side of Jerry’s farm, real close. We could go there and come back in less than thirty minutes. Tall, white, leafless birch trees for miles around, just like in the story,” she says with a smile.
“That alright?” Amber calls over to our mom, who has been listening in.
“Sure! Just be sure to get your chores done!” she calls back.
“Come on!” Amber says excitedly jumping up from her seat.
“Eat your breakfast first!” our mother says.
My sister had turned sixteen a few months ago, so she drove. I stared out the window at the dirt road as the car moved along.
“Here,” my sister says under her breath as she parks in the grass. I step out of the car and look up at the trees. Leafless, bare, birch trees. Exactly like in the story.
“Come on!” I say excitedly, dancing on the balls of my feet.
“Coming, coming,” she says. I skip excitedly into the woods. My boots crunch on the fresh snow as I enter the forest. A soft breeze ruffles my hair as I continue. I look behind me to see Amber as she follows me.
We walked for a while. I think of why grandma might’ve left and when she would be coming back. Mainly, I also think of what will happen in the story she was telling me. Would this connect to other stories? Or will it be an entirely new adventure? I also think of what the characters, Paige and Paul, might look like. I love to sketch the characters from stories without pictures. This way, I can decide what they look like.
“When do you think we should tie the charm on one of the branches?” Amber says from behind me. I look around.
“How ‘bout right now?” I say.
“Sure,” she says. She helps me up one of the nearby trees.
I look up as I climb, charm in hand. Then I make the mistake of looking down. My heart drops as I gaze downward.
“Hey,” I call down to Amber, “I think I’m going to tie it right here then come down,” my voice rattles as I call. I don’t hear a response, but I don’t think much of it. I quickly tie the charm on one of the branches then climb down.
When I reach the bottom, my head is spinning. I lean against the tree, trying to gather my wits. I look around, expecting to see Amber, but I don’t. My heart begins to beat as I frantically look around. I dash to the other side of the tree. My sister is nowhere to be seen.
Midnight-black birds fly past me. I turn. Two people standing over someone, birds surrounding us. I look at the hoodie one of them wears. The words Havensville High School are embroidered around a basketball. It’s Paige and Paul.
Dreaming for a Christmas Vacation
By Raina Newsome,
Woolwine Elementary School
I want to go to somewhere warm and sunny this winter. I closed my eyes and imagined myself in Florida laying on the warm sandy beach. I smelled the salty air all around me. Then, I woke up in my room and it was Christmas Eve.
I went downstairs to get breakfast and I felt miserable. My mom came downstairs too; she was happy and excited for Christmas. I asked her if I could go on vacation and she said, “No. but you can help me make Christmas dinner.” I mumbled, “I guess so.” I made Christmas dinner with mom all day long! I dreamed that night of me being on vacation. I woke up on a Florida beach just like the one I had imagined.
I was so relieved! First, I went to the ice cream shop. It was yummy. I got mint chocolate chip. Next, I went to find seashells. I found a pretty one that looked like a spiral. Then, I went to lay in the warm sand. The warm sand felt good on my back. The water came and touched my toes. It felt like I was in a dream world. I was so happy and excited for the next I was going to do. I thought, should I go swimming in the ocean or should I go beach shopping next?
Then, something strange happened. I fell asleep. I dreamed of a person telling me to go back home. Suddenly, I woke up. But when I stood up, I looked around and all the people at the beach were gone. There was a tiny gold light next to the sea grass. I walked slowly toward the light. When I got there, I walked through it.
I woke up in my bed. I ran down the stairs to tell my mom what just happened. She did not believe me. I walked over to the Christmas tree and saw a gift that says, “Christmas Magic.” I tell my mom what the gift tags says and she walks over to see it. The words “From Santa,” appear on the tag. “Where did Christmas magic go?” I say, “It was just there.” Then, I open the gift and I see two golden tickets that remind me of the light I walked through yesterday. The tickets read “Free Trip to a Florida Beach!” I was so happy that my dream was going to come true and now Christmas is my favorite holiday.
By Paisley Shuff,
Woolwine Elementary School
Imagine moving away from the only home you’ve ever known, and around Christmas time, nonetheless! At least here, I can feel the cool of the snow. In fact, I can feel the marshmallowy snow seeping through my knitted gloves, and I can smell the salt on all the nearby roads. There are Christmas trees everywhere, and even the park I’m in now has a brightly lit tree, each ornament placed meticulously on it. How fun it would be to decorate for a living! However, I plan on being the greatest poet since Homer. I jump at almost any chance to share my poems.
My little sister haphazardly stacks a mound of snow, and upon closer inspection, I realize she’s wearing one of my pairs of jeans. “Gina!” I grumble, “You’re up to seventy-five dollars now!” Every time she steals something of mine, I add five dollars of debt to my mental bank for her.
She’s stolen fifteen things in the last six days. Also, I’m positive she’ll never actually pay me, but it makes me feel a bit better to know I’m doing something about her petty theft. Gina ignores me and continues on with her monstrous mound.
“Noel,” my mom calls from across the wintery park. I glide to her, careful to avoid slippery ice patches.
“Yes?” When I reach her, I feel colder than a snowman, but I love the chills. Back in Mississippi, it rarely ever snowed, and the frost gives me incomparable exhilaration.
“Would you like to read an original poem at your school’s Christmas P.T.O.? Mrs. Alora just asked me, since she heard how much you love poems.” Mom’s face shows pure joy, probably because this is a great opportunity, but I hesitate.
I barely know any of the people at my new school! What if they don’t like the poem, and I’m known as the weird poem girl from now on? Or what if I mess up and everyone laughs? In spite of my tentativeness to accept, I respond to my encouraging mom, “Sure.”
Mom texts something, presumably to Mrs. Alora, who made the offer, and then gives me a huge thumbs up.
As I trek back to the other side of the park, Gina spots my worried face, so I explain to her what I’m doing at the P.T.O.
“You’ll do fine,” she tells me. “Just write from experience. And make it fun, too, to catch everyone’s attention.” She smiles, pleased with herself. “Thanks, Gina.” I say with genuine surprise. “That’s actually really good advice.”
“You’re welcome. And don’t get your lips stuck in your braces!”
“Haha,” I reply sarcastically.
When the day finally arrives, I feel like my heart might burst out of my chest with how hard it’s pounding, like I stuck a thunderstorm in my ribcage. The stares from the audience and the stress of being the first performance definitely don’t help. Regardless, I take a deep breath, lift my chin, and recite my poem.
We moved to a new state In the Christmas season.
Come on people,
This should be treason!
A few laughs erupt from the audience, and I feel as if this might turn out okay.
At least it’s pretty
And actually snowing.
And the softest breeze
Is gracefully blowing.
I hear murmurs of agreement from the audience.
How will I adjust
To my brand new school?
And just days before the break,
What will I do?
My Christmas wish is that
The school will be kind,
And although I’m new,
They won’t mind.
I wish that I’ll
Make friends before the break
And see them in church
On Christmas Day.
I wish that when
The lights go down,
The Christmas spirit
Is still around.
Despite the short length of my poem and slight tremble in my voice, I feel proud of what I’ve done. Apparently, the audience likes it too because they reward me with a loud, whole hearted applause.
I glance at my sister and smirk, as if to say, “Ha! My lips didn’t get stuck in my braces!”
Realization washes over me like a tsunami. You know what? Maybe my Christmas wish has been staring me in the face the whole time. What I’ve wanted the most is a great Christmas and a greater friend. My sister is my best friend, and there certainly is no closer friendship. With this new revelation, how couldn’t I have an extraordinary Christmas?
My expression changes to a smile, a real, ear to ear grin. My Christmas wish came true.
Lessons in Celebration
By Maria Turner
The intimidatingly large house on the street corner was noisy with maids and chefs arranging rooms and meals for Christmas. Packages were dropped on the floor, and pots were loudly moved about the kitchen until a frustrated voice echoed throughout the house, “Can anyone do a job quietly?”
The house immediately silenced. Heads bowed down in self-preservation as the father of the family stomped out of his office, into the living room. “Laura, I’m going to town to pick up your order. Should I get anything else while I’m out?”
The woman squinted her eyes in focus, “That order should have the rest of the gifts for both our sides of the family. Just bring those home and the maids can wrap them.”
Upstairs, the family’s only child, Elizabeth, was getting ready for the Christmas party her schoolmate had invited her to. As she walked down the stairs, her mother, not looking up from her book, stopped her daughter in her tracks: “And where are you going?”
Elizabeth’s heart dropped. “To the Larson family’s Christmas party, mother.”
“Ah, yes. I remember now.” Without getting up, her mother dismissed her.
The Larsons’ home was, as Elizabeth’s father might describe, smothered in lights and decorations. There were reindeer statues on the roof, with Santa leaning over the chimney. Warm colored lights were hung on every surface. Gumdrop lights lit her way to the door. After ringing the doorbell, decorated as a gingerbread man, Elizabeth’s schoolmate Catherine greeted her. With her surprised eyes, Elizabeth exclaimed, “Your parents must have spent all day yesterday decorating for this! Everything is so elaborate.”
Catherine laughed at the girl’s remark, “Eliza, you must be joking. We decorate for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving.”
As Catherine invited her friend inside, Elizabeth found the entirety of the Larsons’ house to be enthusiastically decorated. There were collections of wreaths, candy canes, angels, and nutcrackers in every nook and cranny of the house. Each Christmas tree in the house was decorated rather spontaneously with handmade, sentimental ornaments. While some probably found the house overbearingly festive, Elizabeth was enraptured with their level of celebration. At the Larson house, everything was different.
Elizabeth played along with Catherine’s nonchalant attitude, pretending to be unsurprised by the Larsons’ sense of festivities that was never apparent in her home. Every Christmas, her parents hosted a party for the extended family. They planned strategically where to put each wreath, ornament, flower arrangement, and string of lights. The chefs cooked the entire meal, cutting the turkey and serving the food. Elizabeth usually spent Christmas dinner focused on the masterfully adorned but plain table decorations to avoid the passive aggressive comments spewed between her family members.
At this fateful Christmas Eve dinner, Catherine’s mother cooked the turkey and her father cut it for everyone. Elizabeth braced herself for the backhanded comments on the decor during dinner, but every compliment was genuine. This family exuded their love for each other without pretense or underhandedness. Elizabeth never knew Christmas was meant to be a holiday of comfort and gratitude until she witnessed the Larson family gathered around the living room after dinner. While the children eagerly unwrapped their presents that were piled around the Christmas tree, the rest of the family shared entertaining anecdotes at the fireplace. None of Elizabeth’s family Christmases had ever been as warmhearted and intimate as the Larsons’ celebration.
When she arrived home to the sight of the white, cold lights lining her house, the maids decorating the Christmas trees with plain ornaments, and the chefs preparing the food for the next day, there was an overwhelming sense of emptiness that no child should feel on Christmas Eve.
She approached her parents in the sitting room, “Mother, have the maids wrapped those gifts you bought yet?”
Her parents looked at each other bewildered. The mother shook her head, “No, not quite. Why do you ask?”
“Well,” Elizabeth began, almost embarrassed to ask, “I was hoping we could wrap them together.”
As they gathered all the wrapping paper, tape, and scissors, Elizabeth and her parents tried to master the skill of gift-wrapping, something none of them had ever attempted before. After they got all the presents wrapped, Elizabeth suggested they pull out the old colored lights from the attic. That night, their home was transformed into an oasis of festivity.
Elizabeth and her parents, for the first time, eagerly awaited Christmas. Her mother and father were both raised to expect insults at the dinner table, decorate their house flawlessly, and never truly celebrate the holiday wholeheartedly. This Christmas, Elizabeth hoped, would be a turning point. Maybe they could begin cutting the turkey, decorating their Christmas tree in whatever manner they pleased, and being joyful for the holiday, whether that earned them another remark at the dinner table or not.
This Christmas, the usually intimidating house on the street corner would be filled with the beautiful nosiness of laughter and brightened by the joy the family found in unapologetic celebration.
By Jason Burks
Through fire and brimstone runs a messenger. His mission is to deliver an order to an artillery regiment set up about four kilometers away. His footprints in the mud as he pushes forwards. As the rain pours on the ground and bullets fly past, the paper he holds says. “Fire on the coordinates sector four, five, six, three, four, one” he came from a trapped armored division in the Italian mountains. They were under Austro-Hungarian threat as they pushed into the Italian front. His name is Angelo van Bianchi, and this is his story.
In the year 1917 on November 29th in the cold rainy weather my run began. My division was pinned in the Dinaric Alps, and we were under threat of capture. With limited supplies they sent me to make the run to the 31st Italian artillery regiment for help. I began my run at the strike of dusk in the dark. I moved through no man’s land with my Mannlicher suddenly hearing a group of Austrians moving to me. I lay in the grass and sat watching the group walk pass. Next to a crate, I saw some bullet casings knowing they can be distant in a silent area. I grabbed them and kept moving into the beast’s lair trench to trench I ran seeing a way through.
Then I dropped to the ground as an enemy was about five feet away from me. Pulling my field shovel as I crawl closer, I stand behind him. I swing the shovel one strike into the neck, blood all over my hands and coat. I shake my head telling myself “keep moving, ignore death” as I start to think of the dead man. Running through the trenches avoiding spotlights, patrols and traps it started to dawn on me “I could be shot and I’m the only chance for survival for the men trapped.” Turning to my left, I see a village and I crawl to the edge of the hill I’m on. I slowly realize that the village is captured by the enemy. Moving to an ammo storage in the village I take my lighter and ignite a box of gunpowder and I run diving into a ditch. Boom an explosion distracted the village full of Austrians and I took the chance to run through the confused defenders.
Finally, I make it to the artillery regiment handing the commander the message. Minutes later, six huge guns fire the rain of death on the coordinates outlined on the note. The commander walks up to me handing me a message to rush back. I replied, “Thank you,” turning to run back. Through the village and into the trenches evading bullet after bullet I run until I see three men shooting at a trench in the distance.
I raise my rifle aiming at the head of one of them, with a pull of the trigger his head is gone. The others turn but I’m ready to kill the second one and pull my Bodeo model and blast him dead. The final one I charge with a bayonet tearing through his flesh. I keep moving knowing if I don’t, I will kill 255 soldiers and myself; the burning of my legs and arms push me forwards.
Seeing them my commander, I handed him the message and if God himself had told him we moved into full retreat pushing out of the trap undercover from the rain of shells from the 31st. With four kills under my name, I remember if it wasn’t from my run, we would be dead taking my last round loading it into my rifle. I remember that one night like the back of my hand. My division called me the runner.
The Miracle of Christmas
By Virginia Nations
“It’s December 1st, Scarlett!” Thomas yells across the room to his still sleeping sister. “Only 24 days until Christmas!” Scarlett leaps out of bed and starts frantically searching their bedroom, Thomas watches in confusion. “What are you looking for?” he asks, while she rummages through her drawers. “This!” She pulls out a toy magazine from the bottom of her shirt drawer. “I know exactly what I want for Christmas!” She flips to a page where, circled in red crayon, was a big Barbie Dreamhouse. She points to the dollhouse. “This is what I want, and today I can finally show it to Mom and Dad!” Thomas’ eyes light up. He points to a set of building blocks just above the dollhouse in the magazine. “That’s what I want. Show them that too!” The children run excitedly down the stairs, magazine in hand. While racing down the steps, Thomas and Scarlett could hear their parents talking in the kitchen.
“It’s December 1st George,” Mary says in a sullen tone. “Only 24 days until Christmas.” George sighed as he took his weary eyes off of the pile of bills on the counter, and looked up at Mary. “How are we going to pull this off? We barely have enough money for groceries, much less for presents for the kids!” He sank his head back down to the pile of bills in front of him. Mary pats him on the back, “We will figure something out. I wouldn’t want to upset the kids by not getting them anything for Christmas.” George nods, and Mary continues to stir the pot of stew on the stove. Thomas and Scarlett take a second to process what they just heard. “Did she just say something about no presents?” whispered Thomas. “I don’t know,” began Scarlett, “I couldn’t hear very well.” Thomas suddenly gasps, “What if they’re not getting us presents because we have been bad?” Scarlett looks back at Thomas, who looks like he’s just seen a ghost. “Then I guess we will have to be on our best behavior!” she says as they come to the bottom of the steps.
The children enter the kitchen nonchalantly. “Hey Mom! What’s for dinner?” Thomas asks, taking a seat at the counter. “Chicken stew, now would you be a doll and set the table for me?” Thomas nods and starts gathering some silverware. He signals Scarlett to pop the question. “Speaking of dolls,” she says, “Can you get me one of these for Christmas?” She pulls out the magazine and hands it to her Mom. Thomas runs over and points at the building blocks, “I want this! I want this!” He jumps up and down. “Alright now, calm down, finish setting the table.” Mary begins pouring the stew into bowls. “But the presents Mama, the presents!” The kids shout. Mary sighs and looks over to George, who is now staring at the prices of the toys. “We’ll see,” she says, placing the stew on the table. “Let’s eat.”
Later that night, while the kids were asleep, Mary and George come up with a plan to save enough money to buy gifts for their kids. “I can pick up a few extra shifts at the restaurant,” Mary tells George. “I can try and work longer hours at work,” he responds. “We can do this honey. I know it’s going to be tough, but we can do it for the kids.” George smiles at Mary. They eventually nod off to sleep, ready to start their plan in the morning. When they wake up, they get the children ready for school and themselves for work. “Well, I’m off to the machinery,” says George, grabbing his hat and coat. “I’ll be working until after dinner tonight, so save me a plate!” Mary gives him a nod as he walks out the door, she leaves for work as well. When she gets home, she fixes dinner for the family. When they sit down, Thomas doesn’t say a word, staring at the empty chair across from him he starts to ask questions. “Where is Dad? Shouldn’t he be home by now?” “He’s working late today, he’ll be home soon.” She takes a bite of her food, hoping they don’t ask any more questions. After a few weeks of both parents working longer hours and extra shifts, they had already come up with some extra money. It was more than enough for both presents!
On Sunday morning, as they got ready for church, the kids pointed out how the house felt colder than normal. “It’s freezing in here!” Scarlett yells from the children’s bedroom. “Just finish getting ready and come down here!” George yells back, aware of the sudden temperature change in their home. They arrive at church and walk inside. The pastor greets them with a welcoming smile as they sit down in the pews ready to listen to his sermon. “Today I’m going to remind you of the true meaning of Christmas,” says the Pastor, opening his Bible. “Christmas isn’t about gifts!” He shouts, “It is about celebrating the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ!” He goes on to tell the story of Jesus’ birth. The children begin to whisper to one another while he is talking. “I would be fine without gifts this year, it’s not the true meaning of Christmas after all,” Scarlett says. Thomas gives her a nod and says in response, “I really do want those building blocks, but Jesus’ birth is what we should be worrying about! So, I could do without, but we don’t have to worry about that. Mom and Dad are getting us presents.”
They nod excitedly at each other. The Pastor finished his sermon, and they all went home. “George, why is it so cold in here?” Mary exclaims, shivering. “I don’t know, let me go check out our heating unit.” He walks outside in the cold to see what’s going on, Mary wraps up in a blanket while she waits. George slowly walks back inside with a worried look on his face. “What’s wrong honey?” Mary asks. “It’s broken. We are going to have to replace it soon unless we want to freeze to death in this cold weather.” Tears form in Mary’s eyes, “So, the money we have saved up for the presents…” she pauses. George slowly shakes his head yes. “It’s the only way we’ll have enough to replace the unit.” He picks up the telephone and calls someone to come do the replacement. “They said they can be here tomorrow afternoon.” Mary, still upset, says, “But we won’t have enough money for presents.” She fears what George’s response will be. “They’ll have to do without.” They both take a seat on the bed to marinate on their situation.
The children get ready for bed upstairs, excited for Christmas that is coming in a few days. Mary and George tuck them into bed then proceed to get some rest for themselves. The next day, the people come and replace the heating unit just before Mary leaves for work. “You’re all set ma’am!” says one of the workers. “We just need the money and we’ll be on our way.” Mary reluctantly hands them the money. Watching them take her savings for her kids felt like a punch to the gut. “Thank you,” she says with a lump in her throat, and then she leaves for work.
A couple days later, it’s Christmas Eve. Scarlett and Thomas are jumping around excitedly. “Alright kids, it’s time for bed,” Mary tells them. “Aw,” they say in unison “But we can’t sleep Mama, we are too excited!” says Scarlett, still jumping around the room. Mary playfully rolls her eyes and tries to catch the children. As they’re running away, George comes up and grabs them making monster noises. The kids squall and giggle until they finally get tired out, George carries them to their bedroom. “Good night, sleep tight,” he says, kissing them on the forehead. “Sleep well!” Mary says, doing the same as George. The parents head back downstairs. They can’t help but think of the disappointment to come from their children in the morning.
It is Christmas morning! Thomas and Scarlett run downstairs, bracing themselves for the happiness that they will experience when opening their presents. Mary and George are sitting on the couch. “Come sit over here,” George pats the couch. “We need to talk to y’all.” The kids sit next to their parents with confused looks on their little faces. “This might be upsetting to hear,” Mary begins. “But we couldn’t afford to get any presents this year,” as a tear runs down her cheek. “We’re sorry kids, with the heating unit messing up we just couldn’t make it happen.” The children look at each other, then back at their parents. “That’s alright, no big deal,” Scarlett says with a smile. “Yeah,” Thomas adds. “That’s not the real meaning of Christmas anyways!” Mary and George are very surprised. “You’re not upset?” They ask, “I mean, sure I wanted the building blocks, but celebrating Jesus’ birth is more important!” Thomas and Scarlett have satisfied, happy looks on their faces. The parents give them a big, long hug and decide to celebrate by reading the Christmas story out of the Bible.