Winner, 1st Place: Elinor, Age 12

Congratulations to Elinor, age 12, who is the first place winner of the 2018 Wike Baby "I Love the Outdoors" Children's Writing Contest!  Her fictional story is based on her favorite special outdoor place, which is real. 

 

 

Elinor answered a few questions about her piece and what makes her a great writer.  Read her interview before sinking your teeth into her story!

 

Wike Baby: What real place inspired this story?

Elinor: The real place that inspired my story was actually my backyard. There was a piece of property covered in trees behind my house. They were cut down, and a house was built in it's place, but unfortunately, unlike the story's happy ending, even the largest tree was cut.

 

WB: How did you get inspiration for your characters Alica, Mom, and Jake?

Elinor: To tell you the truth, I don't know what inspired the Mom character and Jake. Alicia was inspired by me, but to an extent. In real life, I regretted not using that place while it was still there, so I made my character by making her angry about it instead of sad.

 

WB: What do you love about writing?

Elinor: What I love about writing is using it as an outlet to express what's going on in your imagination, and I think it's just fun!

 

WB: What are your favorite books to read?

Elinor: My favorite books to read are historical fiction, specifically surround WWII or early 1800s.

 

WB: What advice do you have for younger writers?

Elinor: My advice for younger writers is to read. I've come to learn that the more you read, the better writer you are.

 

 

 

Backyard

 

Mom keeps talking, but I tune her out and stare out our kitchen window, fantasizing about what could have been. She puts her hand gently on my hand and squeezed it lightly.

“Honey, I’m sorry,” She began.  “We just could-”
“-Couldn’t afford it, I know,” I interrupt.

“I have a lot of summer reading to do, so I should go… do that.”

 

I sniffle and start to walk upstairs to my room.  I collapse on my bed, on the same deflated comforter I’ve had my whole life. I reach underneath my pillow to reveal a composition not-so- secretly labeled, “Science Notebook: Alicia Bridgers”.  I grabbed an abused pencil off a cup on my nightstand and begin to write:

Mom keeps talking, but I tune her out and stare out our kitchen window, fantasizing about what could have been. She puts her hand gently on my hand and squeezed it lightly.

“Honey, I’m sorry,” She began.  “We just could-”
“-Couldn’t afford it, I know,” I interrupt.

“I have a lot of summer reading to do, so I should go… do that.”

 

I sniffle and start to walk upstairs to my room.  I collapse on my bed, on the same deflated comforter I’ve had my whole life. I reach underneath my pillow to reveal a composition not-so- secretly labeled, “Science Notebook: Alicia Bridgers”.  I grabbed an abused pencil off a cup on my nightstand and begin to write:
 

Dear Diary,

Mom heard from Derek. His crew is starting on Friday. In just a few days, at least 8 beautiful, historical oak and maple trees will be guillotined at the hands of “architects” so they can build ANOTHER tacky, disproportionate mcmansion. I loved that place more than anything. I have so many memories there. Their leaves would shade me in the summer, and I would lay on the soft grass and sit up and look up at the fluorescent green leaves. With all my friends at camps, I would climb the trees to entertain myself. IN the winter, I remember that once, I made my brother stand underneath the largest tree after a snowstorm. The snowing had stopped, and it had left a foot deep blanket of sparkly reasons for mischief. Jake and I had made the first imperfection in the snow with our footprints as we marched over to the trees. He stood there, expecting who-knows-what. I clambered up the tree and shook the branch right above his head vigorously, and watched as snow fell madly down on his head. He yelped, and I laughed, almost falling out of the tree. It led to us wrestling and ended with me running around triumphantly, with his head in the snow. I  was happy. I was happy watching the leaves fall, and grow again. I was happy.

was

I will figure something out.

July 25, 2018

 

I put my “science notebook” back in it’s usual spot, and leaned against the wall my bed was adjacent to.  I

shudder to think that I played in a spot where a bathroom, or something would be built later on. I look out the window in my room. In my personal opinion, I had the best view of the trees. My bedroom window looked out at the largest tree, my favorite. It was an oak tree with scraggly branches sticking out of the trunk in odd places. There were a set of branches that twisted in the weirdest directions. From one angle, it looked like glasses, from another, a snowman with a hat. It wasn’t far from my house, and I did have to cut through someone’s yard, but it was only Gladys Benson’s house. She was an old woman who brought over pie at least once a week. She showed me that place. It was technically public back then, but no one went there. It was secluded, surrounded by bushes. About a month ago, someone bought it.

 

Those trees allowed my imagination to go wild, and the place I would bring all my friends. The other place we would go was outside of a Rite-Aid. There was an apartment complex on the other side of the building, and there were shady stairs we would lounge on. The Rite-Aid! That’s it! I ran downstairs into the kitchen to find my mother sorting the spices for the third time that day.

 

“Where’s Jake?” I asked, out of breath.

 

My mom didn’t even look up. This happened a lot. Since before the trees. My mother had become, well, distant. Sometimes she was full of conversation and then there were other times where it was like someone flicked a switch and she only gave slow nods or shrugs. Or complete ignorance. I “humphed” in response and stormed to the living room where I saw Jake sprawled on the couch sipping a juice box. He was fiddling with the remote.
 

“What are you doing?” I asked, hoping for a little more response than with my mom.

 

“I can’t find Spongebob.” He said, still toying with the remote.
 

“What?!” I said, frustrated because half the time, I had no idea what he was talking about. When he started banging the remote on the table, I snatched the remote out of him hand and held it too high for him to reach.

“Hey!” Jake whined noisily.

“Come on,” I said, “We’re going’ out.”

“Where?”

“Rite-Aid”

“Why?”
“We’re gonna play “Policeman,”

 I took his hand and marched him out. While he took his time putting on his dinosaur-themed sneakers, I stuck my head in the kitchen and called out to my mom, “We’re going out. Be back soon.”

“Mmkay..” she slurred. I knew what that meant.  

 

It didn’t take long to walk there, especially since I meant business and walked briskly through town without even seeing if Gladys wanted a newspaper and a pop. We walked in and went straight to the toy section. I stopped when I came across a policeman toy. It was a kit, that came with a navy blue cap, a fake plastic gun, a whistle, and handcuffs. Perfect. I scooped one off the shelves and dumped it in Jake's arms.

 

He looked confused.  “Why’d you need this? We have blue hats and that’s really all we need,” He asked. A fair question, I would think.

“Would you go to the frozen isle to pick something for dinner, please?” I asked sternly, purposefully ignoring his question.

 

When we got home, we played glorified tag where Jake wore his new blue cap blew his whistle like his life depended on it, and chased me around the yard. I sneaked off the the tree lot, with yellow BobCat machines parked in a vacant patch of grass. I walked to the largest tree, which was my favorite. I ran my fingered over the bumpy bark and watched my fingers dance over the tree. I had never carved anything into any of the trees. I thought it was violating them.

 

***

 

A friend came over one day a long time ago. She wasn’t really my friend. I had only met her hours beforehand. She was new in town, and I felt sorry for her. I invited her over and took her into my private sanctuary, and she obviously didn’t have the same respect that I did for the area. After about an hour of giggling and playing hide-and-seek, we were settled down and walking around. I was picking flowers on a nearby bush. I heard a clanging and turned around. It was keys. She began carving as I cried out, “No!”

 

She dropped her keys and cuffed her hands over her ears dramatically. She giggled, “What’s the big deal? It’s to remember me by!”

 

I marched over to her and stood between her and the tree in a protective stance, “Why would I want to remember a ditz like you anyways?”

 

She stood there blinking with her mouth agape, like a creepy puppet and finally stormed off, forgetting her keys. I watched her go without so much as a speck of remorse. I picked up her keys and whispered, “She won’t be missed,” And I hurled her keys behind her.

 

***

 

When Jake and I went in, my mom was in a better mood. She complained that we brought home dinner, and she had made something, but now that we’re here we wouldn’t want our Salisbury steak TV dinners to go to waste, yada yada yada…

 

I checked the fridge later, though. She hadn’t made anything.

 

I didn’t sleep that night. I spent that time pacing and staring at my alarm clock. When the clock struck three, I didn’t frown, whinge, or cry. Even though it was Friday.  The Friday.  I crept into Jake’s room and nudged him ever-so-lightly. He didn’t wake up.

“Jake…” I whispered softly, “Jake, wake up.”

Still nothing. “Jake!” I practically shouted.

He woke with a jolt, “What? Huh? Who?” He was so confused.

“Hurry up!”

“Where are we going?”

“Playing ‘Policeman’”

“Now?”

“Now.”

 

I took Jake’s hand and led him out of the house. It was warm, and I could hear lots of bugs.

“Come here,” I whispered to Jake. He was still groggy and picking at his eye.

“Whaaat?” He whined in a tired voice.

“I need you to do me a favor,” I responded, looking him dead in the eye, even though he probably couldn’t see me.  I walked over to the machine. I put one end of the handcuff on a thin bar. I locked it, and put the other side around my wrist. I locked that side too. I spun around as much as I could with my limited control, and placed the key in Jake’s hand.

“You need to hide this. Don’t give it to anybody,” I told him.

“What are you doing?” Jake asked, suddenly more alert.

“If I’m here, they can’t cut these down.”

“You’re crazy!”

“So what? If it means saving this spot, so be it.”

 

I watched him disappear into the night, and I hoped he wouldn’t let me down.

It was hard to sleep. When I sat, my arm was elevated and wasn’t very comfortable.

I saw the sun rise. I saw the birds flying around. I saw the bunnies that eat our garden emerge. I saw the newspapers being delivered. Finally, I saw a truck pull into the side of the lot. I scooted behind the machine as far as my arm would let me, to stay out of sight. The driver was whistling a jaunty tune and was swinging a ring of keys around his finger. I already hated him.

I heard his footsteps grow closer.

“What the…?” He said. He poked my arm, “Hey, kid!”

“What?” I asked innocently. “Am I not supposed to be here?”

“Alright very funny,” He growled. “You’d better move, before you get into trouble. This is private property.”

“How?” I asked. “I don’t have the keys.”

 

He looked so mad, and I wondered if I had made a mistake.

“I’m calling the police!” He yelled. He stormed off to his truck. What if the police call my mom? Oh, man! I really didn’t think this through. I stood there, my ankles killing me at this point, with a menacing hole in my stomach. I could barely see my driveway from my spot, but there was no way to miss the red-and-blue flashing lights. How did they know where I lived?

 

My mom stormed out, pulling Jake by the ear and leading a uniformed officer down to the lot.

 

“What ARE you doing, ALICIA?!” My mother yelled. I felt my ears go hot.

 

“I wanted to save the trees,” I replied in a quiet voice, not able to meet her eyes.

 

The officer cut in, “You’re trespassing. You weren’t supposed to come on this lot after it was bought. We’ll let you off with a warning for now, but if you’re seen here again, you’re going to be fined. Understand?”

I nodded, unable to stop my bottom lip quivering. Jake fished inside his pocket and pulled out the key. He handed it to the officer who nodded in return. The officer unlocked the handcuffs.

I ran inside, leaving my mother to talk to the officer.
 

I refused to watch them cut down the trees.

 

***

 

Four Years Later

 

Dear Diary,

Ever since the Murrays moved in, I’ve had mixed feelings. I’ve  been nothing but grateful that they kept up the largest oak tree, even if the house looks tacky next to it. They only kept it up because the crew refused. It was healthy and beautiful. Marie is great, too. She was mad too that they had to cut down trees to build that house, but if not she wouldn’t be my best friend. We spend all our time in the shade of that large oak tree. Even though I miss all the trees, we’re making our own memories we the tree that remains.

September 13th 2022

 

 


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#1 

Spend time together with your family and friends exploring and adventuring.

 

#2

Practice appreciating nature and your part in it.

 

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Stay active and healthy.

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Recenter yourself with peace and calmness.

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