1st place, Concordia Lutheran School
2017 Fiction Contest Winner (7th/8th Grade Division)
I sat alone in my cramped room, time slowly ticking away as I wait for hope that will never be found. I hear the occasional cough from the room next to mine, for Anna, my sister, became sick four weeks ago, and it has only gotten worse and worse. My mother can’t afford medicine, much less a doctor. Poverty was something foreign to me. Wealthy nests had overwhelmed my life. My dad, Edward Hailden, made his fortune in construction. One night, he met another woman who he ran off with, divorcing my mother and leaving us with nothing. Who knew that one action could save the life of my sister and change me forever? My name is Jeremy Hailden, and the action of one girl saved my life.
School, the only way to pass the time. When not in class, I am being bullied by Aaron and his cronies, Smash and Crash. “Hey, Peasant!” I hear a call after me as I exit B-Wing. I pick up the pace, hoping that they were guessing of my presence. “Yeah, you know I see you, Peasant!” I slowly turn around.
“Look, I have nothing, what do you want from me?” I hope he’ll let me go, but I knowAaron, and he won’t let me go anywhere.
“I want you to tell your mom that-?!” The hall monitor interrupts Aaron, leaving me to wonder what he wanted me to stay.
Before the monitor gives Aaron a talk, I dash out of the building only to barrel into somebody new to me, knocking her books out of her hands and onto the ground. “I’m so sorry. You okay?” I ask her as I bend down to pick the books up.
“Yes, I’m fine. I guess it is my fault since I was in your way. Where are you going?” she inquires.
“Nowhere,” After I finish picking up the books, I sprint off and hear her shout.
“By the way, my name’s Paige. Hope to see you around!”
The next day I sit down alone at my table and hear a familiar voice exclaim: “I remember you!” I turn around to be face to face with Paige.
“Hey Paige,” I reply.
“What’s your name?” she asks. “You never told me.”
“Call me Jeremy. Jeremy Hailden.” I mutter my last name. I have always hated my father for what he did to us, trading 3 lives for 1.
“Why so grim?” She asks me, snapping me out of my train of thought.
“I’m not mad.” I lie, not wanting to know what I have been through.
“Your face says differently. You have had your eyebrows scrunched up and a frown for a while,” she informs me. I glance at the clock, and Paige was right. “Every time I’ve seen you, you have had a frown on your face. So what’s wrong?” Realizing that it might be best to tell her, I burst into tears and tell my story, from the moment my mother married my father. I tell her of my hardships. I tell her of my pain. I tell her of my sister, who lays immobile in her bed, day to day, only being enveloped by sickness and pain. I finish telling her my whole life story and come to the reality of the stillness of the cafeteria, and everyone listens to what I have to say. My face goes red and I run home, too embarrassed to stay at school.
That night I lay on my bed, wondering about Paige. Why would she sit with me instead of her friends? Does she have friends? Why did this happen? What is going to happen tomorrow? Questions surge and bubble in my head until exhaustion overwhelms me and I fall into a deep and restless sleep.
I arrive at school the next day and hear a familiar voice saying “Donate to charity! Help the needy!” Paige has a booth set up in a corner set up in the corner of the hallway with the slogan “The Poor Need More!” A little jar with a $20 bill sits on the table. I rush by, unnoticed as possible. Fortunately, Paige doesn’t notice me, but those who do watch me with pity. For the rest of the day I try to be as invisible as I possibly can, which works until lunch.
“Hey, Jeremy!” I hear Paige whisper into my ear, which makes me jump. “Can I sit here?” she asks.
“Sure,” I mumble, “Go right ahead.”
“Here.” She drops a brown paper bag onto the table. “I brought this for you.” I open the bag and find something that I had not seen in a long time.
“It’s a… sandwich.” I move the sandwich aside and look even farther into the bag. “An apple, too!” I was getting excited now. “Chips! Cookies!” Tears begin to seep into my eyes. “Thank you,” I tell her.