Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Holiday Short Story Contest; THE WINNERS, GRADES 7-12 First Place Christmas, Sunny-Side Up

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Holiday Short Story Contest; THE WINNERS, GRADES 7-12 First Place Christmas, Sunny-Side Up

Article excerpt

Byline: Anna Shaw

Before opening my eyes that morning, I can almost believe that I am lying in my warm bed, and that I am in Massachusetts. That the steady 72 degrees pumping through the vents of this unfamiliar house is actually the heat turned up to ferociously combat against the winter and that when I go outside I will be greeted by a snowy world where the trees will only be mere skeletons of their alter-egos with no living thing, besides the occasional cardinal, disturbing the all-white serenity.

But I can't.

In reality I am lying in my too-warm bed in this stubbornly hot state of Florida. The 72 degrees is not created by heat, but by air conditioning. The area around me is as far from a winter wonderland as you can imagine. Green interchanges white. Lizards and other repulsive creatures replace cardinals.

I guess I shouldn't blame my parents for dragging me into this mess ... maybe the recession. After all, I'm not sure they wanted to move here either. I yawn and flip over onto my stomach. The pillows stink of the moving van. A voice punctures my sleepy state. "Ellie! Breakfast!" Pushing myself up, I grab a T-shirt and shorts from the chilly tile floor. Bacon and eggs await me in the small kitchen. As I finish off the last mouthful, my 14-year-old sister, Julie, slips into the kitchen.

Julie is basically my arch-nemesis. She could try out for modeling or an international soccer team or an Ivy League school, and make all three. She pulls up a chair and glances at the comics. Dad skitters in, grabs a granola bar and disappears out the door. Mom grips onto her coffee mug and yawns. I breathe deeply and push out of my chair - it's all too depressing watching everybody act as if nothing has changed.

"I'm going to, you know, explore the neighborhood. Mmhmm."

Outside is not hot, per se, but the humidity quenches out all thought. It's hard to believe it's December. All the houses on the block are identical to ours, depressing pinkish stucco and green, overgrown yards.

A cheerful looking girl is lying on her front lawn staring up at the sky. When my bike tires grind past her, she props up on her elbows and grins.

"Hi!"

Shocked by her unashamed optimism, I can do nothing but grin back. "Hi, I'm Ellie."

She jogs to me, blonde curls bouncing on her shoulders. "I'm Natty, did you just move here?"

"Yeah." My face falls. "This place pretty much stinks." Oops. Why did I say that? Luckily she just laughs and plops down on the driveway.

"What's so bad about it?"

I drop my bike in the grass and sit down next to it. "No snow. No cold. No Christmas, basically."

"Oh come on. Give me a specific example."

"Well, right now I'd probably be having a snowball fight."

"What's another state of ice?"

"Huh?"

She lifts up a green hose. "Water. …

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