Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Holiday Short Story Contest; Our Present to You: Season's Readings

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Holiday Short Story Contest; Our Present to You: Season's Readings

Article excerpt

Byline: MEGAN FITZGIBBON, Grade 6, Mandarin Middle School

More than 400 people, some from as far away as Idaho and upstate New York, entered this year's contest. But two local writers, a sixth-grader from Mandarin and a retired librarian from the Northside stood out from the crowd.


Grandpa always told the best stories. Julio loved to snuggle on his lap and listen to the tales about how Grandpa fought in World War II, played left field for the Detroit Tigers, traveled all the way around the world, and met lots of famous people.

But today, he'd promised a special story, one about a time he met a VERY famous person from way, way, way up north.

The warm fire crackled in the fireplace. Grandpa motioned for Julio to come up onto his lap. He crawled up carefully, and stroked Grandpa's long, wiry beard, determining its look. For you see, Julio was blind, so he used his sense of feel and Grandpa's strong use of adjectives to "see" something.

"Tell me about the time you flew around half the world again, Grandpa!" Julio suggested.

"Not today," Grandpa responded.


"No, I have a new story," Grandpa paused as if waiting for Julio to protest, but his face showed no sign of discontentment.

"It was two weeks before Christmas," he began. "I was 7 years old, same age as you!" He gave his grandson a little squeeze around his shoulders before continuing.

"I was playing outside in the snow like every little boy does. You know, building snowmen, throwing snowballs. I was having a blast! I was right about to launch a mega-sized snowball into my parents' room when I saw my best friend walking through his doggy door."

"Doggy door? What was he doing?"

"Hehe! Buddy was his name. He was a golden retriever. I dashed over to him and together we played for hour upon hour until we were extremely tired, and I found myself in the kitchen sipping on hot cocoa. Mama, your great-grandmama, walked in and sat across from me.

" 'Heard there's a small blizzard headed our way. How 'bout you go find a fire log and a few blankets?' Mama told me.

"I went off to do my duty.

"I made a small heap of blankets and was fixin' to go back out side when I remembered."

"Remembered what?"

"Buddy. When I stepped outside to look, Mama pulled me back.

" 'What do you think your doing? If it's that dog you're looking for, well, he'll be back in the morn, I'm certain of it.' She convinced me.

"But I wasn't convinced but a pinch. All night, as winds raced around the corner of the house, bending trees to kiss the ground, and snow fell not in flakes but in heaps, I thought about Buddy, and how I would feel if he never returned. When, alas, morning came around and he still did not reappear, I was truly convinced that I had lost him forever. …

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