Short Stories

Tis the Holiday Season

by Ashley Guo

    The story began on Christmas Eve, the most magical day of the year. Amanda had just moved from Brazil and was looking forward to her first Christmas in America. She was hoping nothing much would change about how she celebrated the holidays. Amanda’s first few weeks of school hadn’t gone as she expected. She hoped she would make lots of friends, and that everyone would wonder what food she ate and want to try a little, and that would be a natural at English, but it was the exact opposite of what she was expecting. No one wanted to be her friend and everyone was always saying mean stuff about her. Everyone looked grossed out when she took her lunch out and she was barely any good at English. She was hoping the holidays would cheer her up a little. 

One day as Amanda sat looking out at the glistening snow falling to the ground, she heard some of her new neighbors playing tag outside. She used to play tag a lot with her old friends back in Brazil. “If only my old friends were here, then we could play tag until the sun set, like we used to,” she thought to herself.

Then Amanda thought, “Maybe they will want to play tag with me and be my friend.” So she got up, put on her favorite lucky jacket and went outside. When she approached her neighbors they all ran away in different directions. As Amanda walked sadly down the sidewalk, she heard a dog barking and running down the block with its leash zigzagging behind it. Without a thought she grabbed the leash and stopped the dog. A few seconds later an orange haired boy appeared in front of her and said,

“Thank you so much for stopping my dog from getting into trouble! I’m Gregory, by the way, but you can call me Greg. I’m sorry if my friends have been treating you poorly, they’re just jealous that you lived in Brazil- all my friends dream of going to Brazil. I’m having a Christmas party at eight, and you’re welcome to come if you would like.”

“I would love to come!” Amanda said.

So began a beautiful friendship that would last as long as time.

Speedwriting Exercises from Elizabeth Eulberg’s Writing Workshop!

Port teens collaborated on these five pieces of fiction through a speed-writing activity led by Elizabeth Eulberg, author of popular teen novels “The Lonely Hearts Club,” “Prom and Prejudice,” “Better off Friends,” and most recently, “Past Perfect Life.” Starting off with a prompt, teen writers were asked to trade papers after writing the beginning of a story, then continued on with the story they had been handed. After four rotations, with different writers in charge of continuing the plot of a story they didn’t start, the stories were read aloud. Assuming each page of writing had 500 words on it, this 20 minute exercise produced an estimated 2500 words. It aimed to prove how much can be accomplished when writers make time to sit down with a sheet of loose-leaf and let their words run wild.

#1

The comic books have it all wrong. Comic books are not always right. The character I’m going to talk about is a girl named Rebecca.

Up until she dyed her hair, Rebecca was a girl who blended into the background, and people never noticed her. Now she’s walking tall with a brand new attitude to match her bright blue hairdo, giving her the confidence she needs to tell her story.

Back before her blue-hair days, Rebecca was eating some chicken nuggets on a park bench, minding her own buisness, when a boy named Timothy crashed into her! She felt her face dying of embarrassment, but remembered she had met this boy before, on a 7th grade field trip to a nearby ranch where they had learned how to be cowboys and cowgirls. Timothy and Rebecca became best friends because they shared a specific historical interest and because Timothy didn’t ignore Rebecca like other kids their age.

One day while they were hanging out, Timothy climbed a tree. The branch snapped and down he fell! No longer confined to the background, blue haired Rebecca didn’t hesitate to assist her friend. Being a cowgirl had taught her something about first aid and having experienced a multitude of embarrassing situations since Timothy first crashed into her at the park, she had vanquished her former self conscious attitude. She checked Timothy for lacerations and used her bandana and a nearby stick to stabilize his broken ankle. She was a hero, and nothing like those from comic books.

She was her own type of hero and she loved that she could be ordinary and unremarkable whenever heroics were not required. Despite the illustrative qualities of her hair, Rebecca would never agree to being in comic books. Comic books, in her opinion, were just all wrong.

#2

This wasn’t anything like I’d planned. I was supposed to go to my first dance class at a new ballet school, but it turned out my parents were going to be late coming home from work and they couldn’t take me. I didn’t have anyone to take me there and I didn’t know what to do. If I lived close by I could walk, but I live far from the dance studio and couldn’t even ask for a ride because I didn’t know anyone who went there. I was going to have to walk halfway there and my mom would pick me up and take me the rest of the way.

I began my journey to the dance place. I was a little self conscious about the outfit I’d picked. Initially I’d wanted to stand out in my favorite blue jumper and tall socks, but now I wish I’d worn something less noticeable. I compared myself to a chicken nugget covered in honey mustard. My shoes hurt too- my feet were killing me just by walking!

Then my mom arrived. At first I thought she was my old best friend Ellana, because she was wearing something just like Ellana would wear. That was just wishful thinking, because my greatest wish was to make a friend. This stupid dress won’t help me make one, I thought, getting into my mom’s car. My mom handed me some fast food so I wouldn’t be hungry in the middle of dance. She made a sharp left turn and I suddenly threw my ramen noodles into my chicken nuggets. A ghost outside the window screamed in French as we swerved into the parking lot. Then my mom tried to introduce me to her friend’s daughter in law, and I snorted like a cow to escape the situation.

The day was not going as planned. All I’d wanted to do was arrive at the Dance studio looking great and feeling confident but the mix-up with my parents work schedules had complicated my arrival. Eating dinner in the car had been a complete disaster as well. Even worse, I had no friends to share my experiences with! I realized I needed to get positive. What with all these crazy ghosts and random daughters in law of my mom’s friends in the parking lot, I would surely have no trouble making acquaintances with somebody at the studio. I brushed the ramen noodles off my jumper and exited the vehicle, determined to make the most of it. The French speaking ghost nodded in approval.

#3

The comic books have it all wrong. Being a superhero wasn’t so hard, or so thought Audrie Mcdonald. With her super-long and super-strong noodle arms and her best friend Marie by her side, Audrie knew she could attain comic book greatness as soon as Marvel caught wind of her adventures. One of her favorite adventures was the time she accidentally threw her noddle arms at the magical cow they were milking and screamed “IMMA COWGIRL!” causing Marie to accidentally be eaten by a black hole, requiring rescue. There would surely be a spinoff movie about that. The only thing that bugged Audrie about being a comic book superhero was her cruddy last name. It reminded her of Chicken Mc-Nuggets.

Because being a superhero came so easily to her, random, inexplicable things happened to Audrie day in and day out. Her best friend Marie was the daughter of dairy farmers, and the setting of their comic books were typically bovine related. Audrie also had horse transformation abilities, which were surprisingly useful in times of crisis. The escapades made no sense, but all problems were usually solved before dinnertime.

Unfortunately, the comic book agencies were slow in returning Audrie’s calls, and she gave up on the industry altogether. Comic books were stupid. They were all wrong. It didn’t matter how cool Audrie was, until people started calling her Elastic-Girl, the franchise started on Marie’s parents dairy farm would never take off. Unwilling to forsake her last name in the name of comics, Audrie focused on redeveloping what had originally been a background character.

The magical cow from the black hole rescue comic would make a fabulous superhero. She had a cape and aerodynamic qualities. When shaken her udders produced chocolate milk. It was all up to what she and Audrie believed.

#4

This wasn’t anything like I’d planned. I truly don’t remember how I ended up in this situation. The sound of the tires screeching, the motion of the steering wheel turning hard to the right. Then I was sitting in my dad’s car in a ditch trying to turn the radio knob to a louder volume. I hate this song, “I’m gonna take my horse to the old town road…” UGH. This song makes me sad.

It reminds me of that time I became a cowboy. When was I a cow boy? That accident must have really frazzled me. How did I get to a McDonald’s drive through? I rolled down the window.

“Gimme chicken nuggets!” I screeched. “No!” The lady said. I took my arms and strangled her with them. The manager had to be notified and then the authorities. I tried to make my case but nobody was interested in hearing me out.

“Look.” I explained, “It’s been a rough day. There was a car accident with my dad and a ditch and an annoying song- now I’m here and I don’t know how I got here but I’m hungry!” The woman I’d (unsuccessfully) strangled was having none of it.

“I’ve been assaulted!” She said. “I demand actions be taken against this lunatic!” I protested that action had already been taken, and supposed things had gone far enough. I reminded everyone that I had yet to be supplied chicken nuggets.

Then something truly odd happened. I was suddenly and miraculously transported into outer space. It was an incredible experience, one that I could scarcely believe.

First I was in my dad’s car, which had rolled into a ditch. Then I was in a McDonald’s strangling a woman who failed to provide me with Chicken Nuggets. Then I was in outer space, ogling at the mysteriousness of it all but wishing I could return to earth, and finally get that radio to work properly. It was eventually explained to me that I’d experienced some trauma to the head while in the accident, and I suppose I shall recover soon. Man space is beautiful.

#5

This wasn’t anything like I’d planned. The kids were supposed to listen to me, I was their fearless leader in the two hours of game time we were forced to work together. When I was on my old peewee soccer team, my teammates and I were a real squad- win or loose, we always got ice cream together after games. With this group of kids it was a different story, the players just refused to cooperate with me and with one another.

I didn’t feel like trying with them anymore, and went off to the other side of the field where the parents sat. I wanted to get away from all their cattiness and exclusiveness, so I chose to do drills by myself. My teammates might have been better at soccer, but they were not better at basic friendship skills, and I couldn’t take their attitudes anymore.

Then I came to an ultimatum. I was going to walk onto that field at game time and show them what I could do. My mom always said I could do anything I put my mind to, so I got my head into the game, for her sake more than my team’s. I walked onto the field and adjusted my socks and pulled my ponytail tight. I smiled with faux confidence at my opponents. They looked at me, expressionless and passionless, just like the rest of my team. I’m just as good as they, are, I said to myself, channeling confidence. Now is my time to prove I have what it takes to be great at soccer.

When my opponents saw how fire I was at soccer they started throwing chicken nuggets at me, which I epically dodged. My noodle arms swished in the wind. I threw my foot onto a cow shaped platform that magically appeared out of the turf. I ran, I kicked I scored! My teammates lifted their compassionless eyes upon my greatness as I received the diamond encrusted MVP trophy over my head, a totem of greatness that paled in comparison to the Mc-Nuggets my mom treated me to after the game.

***

Submitted October 23rd, 2019

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