Story Contest Winner Amy Jimenez/Ganador del concurso de cuento Amy Jimenez

WINNER FOR MIDDLE SCHOOL CATEGORY

Amy Jimenez                                                                                               

Collins Middle School  

GRADE: 7th

 

How I Became a Wall Ornament

 

Ah! HALLOWEEN! Such a joyous time for sweet tooths and horror fanatics. Glowing jack-o-lanterns, plastic spiders, and the costumes! There’s just something about feeling a scary chill in the air that makes it SO THRILLING! I remember my first Halloween quite well. I shall never forget it. Although I have no doubt it was a whole lot different from any of your own Halloween experiences. After all, Halloween is a whole lot different from the point of view of a piece of candy.     

For candy, being distributed during Halloween is just like any other distribution. We are bought, then we are eaten. End of story. I’m not going to go into candy sciences or start rambling about how it’s even possible that sweets can have can have consciences because that would spoil the fun. And I HATE spoiled fun. So with that all out of the way, why don’t I tell you about my first Halloween, A.K.A “the events that led me to becoming a wall ornament.”

I was (and still am) a small red and white peppermint bundled in a clear plastic wrap. I was (and STILL am) rather good looking for a little peppermint. But my beauty didn’t matter one bit because I looked exactly the same as all of my brothers and sisters. And that made me angry. All of my siblings gossiped eagerly amongst themselves about who would be eaten and who would be thrown out with the garbage. Many of them not-so-discreetly gestured towards me when talking of the potential unfortunate ones. They were like echoes in my head. And I desperately tried to block all of them out. We’d all been brought into a cute little candy store with lime green walls and white and pink checkered floors. They hadn’t bothered to decorate for Halloween. The store looked too much like unicorn wonderland, so they probably gave up trying to make it look scary. They had all us peppermints in a huge basket on the cashier counter by all of the various candy displays. And when I say huge basket I mean you could probably fit a full-sized pig in there. We spent days upon days just sitting there waiting for someone to purchase us until one afternoon, a mean-looking Burly Man burst in. Everything he was wearing was leather except his pants. He stood firmly in the middle of the store, surveying the candy displays surrounding him. While he did this, the light streaming in from the window reflected off of his completely bald head. I found this hilarious. And judging by the snort I heard behind me, so did the cashier. But the man paid no mind, seemingly more interested in examining the licorice stand. I turned my attention to the whispering around me. The other peppermints did not like this guy. They hissed insults at his choice of clothing. I was almost glad that the Burly Man couldn’t hear them. But then their sneering turned into panicked yelling as the Burly Man’s shadow loomed over them. He dipped his large hand into the basket and grabbed a fist full of screeching peppermints. I too was one of the screeching peppermints. Not that I was scared or anything. I was just-Cough-surprised. The Burly Man was a surprising guy. After he stuffed us in a paper bag and paid for us, he took us to his house. Burly Man looks to be like the type to live in a beat up trailer with dried mud on it, but I think you’d be surprised to know that he likes in a nice-looking house in a nice-looking neighborhood although his yard did need cleaning. There were a bunch of brown crumbled leaves that had fallen from nearby trees scattered all over his lawn. They all looked out of place close to the snow-white house that didn’t seem to have a speck on it. After one day of sitting on Burly Man’s kitchen counter inside a paper bag full of unhappy peppermints, I learned that he was a huge fan of classical music. All of the other peppermints noticed this too. Burly Man played his music VERY loudly. He also cursed VERY loudly. I learned this when he started hanging up fake bats and spiders that looked a little too realistic. He dropped several of them many times, which caused him to curse. The bats and spiders made me feel uneasy. Not because they looked alive, but because they could only mean one thing. Halloween was close.

                                                                                                                                                Soon enough I would learn that “close” was actually about twelve hours. After the Sun’s setting, all of the trick-or-treaters set out on the prowl for candy. Burly Man grabbed our paper bag and sat on the steps of his porch. All the children were running around the street with their buckets and bags ready to be filled with anything sweet. Burly Man offered two or three peppermints to whoever came by. Most of the children gave disappointed whines when the saw what Burly Man was offering (Rude!). But Burly Man didn’t pay any mind. Burly Man usually never paid any mind (except when he dropped things). He certainly didn’t pay any mind to his choice in clothing. Burly Man hadn’t bothered with putting on a costume. He just wore his usual attire. But I guess everyone assumed that he was dressed as a “Biker Dude.” Even with his intimidating looks and poor candy, the trick-or-treaters accepted his offerings and politely thanked him. Every time someone came by, he would pluck some of my siblings from the bag and hand them over. And every time he reached into the bag he would miss me. Every. Single. Time. Before I knew it there were almost no trick-or-treaters going around and I was the only one left in the bag. Burly Man gave a tired sigh. Then he stood up and went inside his house, leaving me in the paper bag on the porch. It was bound to happen to someone, I just wished it hadn’t been me. All of the house had turned off their lights and any wacky contraptions they had set up. At least I assumed they had. I couldn’t see anything besides the porch’s roof from the bottom of the bag. I could hear perfectly well though. Everything was silent except for some talking off in the distance. I strained to hear what words were being said, but the sound of approaching footsteps caught my attention. The footsteps increased in volume until they stopped near my paper bag. Then a pale hand reached into the bag and fished me out. Honey-colored eyes studied me in the dim light. It was a boy partially wrapped in toilet paper. Maybe it was a last minute Halloween costume? I didn’t know. He didn’t have anything to place me in, so he held me in his hand as he walked over to the sidewalk. He stopped at the edge and looked over to the other side of the street. He seemed anxious for some reason. I looked over to where the boy’s eyes were set and I saw exactly why. Across the street there was a tall, scrawny teenager pushing a little girl around. Although when I first saw the girl, I didn’t see her, but I did see the large Halloween costume she was wearing. She was wearing a round and green costume that caused her to not be able to place her arms at her sides correctly. There were also two sparkly pink antenna on her head that swayed backwards and forwards as the bully continued to shove her around. As for the bully, he wasn’t wearing a costume but he did have an orange bag slung over his shoulder that probably contained Halloween candy. I realized that the faded-out talking I’d heard earlier had been coming from the nasty teen. The bully was circling around the child, saying things that I’d rather not repeat. He was ABSOLUTELY spoiling her fun. I saw the girl try to ignore him and walk away, but the bully kept blocking her path. The boy holding me clenched me in his fist, clearly angered with the situation. I thought he would walk up to the teen and tell him that what he was doing was wrong, like a civilized person. But what the boy did next, I did not expect. He swung his arm back, and all in a flash, he threw me at the bully. I hit the bully smack in the middle of the forehead. The collision was extremely painful for both me and the bully. The bully fell back onto someone’s lawn. He hit his head on a metal bucket someone left laying on the grass. While the bully held his head between his hands in pain, I laid in the grass nearby trying to wrap my head around how it could be possible for someone to have that much acne. The bully stood up on his shaking legs, and shouted abuse at the toilet-paper-wrapped boy who threw me. Then he ran away into the dark street huffing angrily. I guess he knew better than to pick a fight with someone who had such a good arm. The victim who had watched the whole ordeal stared in amazement at toilet paper boy, who was now walking across the street as if nothing had happened. (Thankfully) he picked me up from the ground while the other child shyly walked over to us. The boy turned towards her with a blank stare. “t-thank you” she stuttered. Her eyes studied the boy uncertainly, as if trying to look for a reason as to why he would help her. Toilet paper boy said nothing, his face showed no emotion. Getting no reply, the girl continued on. “My name is Anri” she said. “What’s yours?” Again, the boy said nothing. Instead, he took the girl’s hand and gently placed me in her palm. She looked at me, then at him, confusion clearly show on her face. The boy nodded at her, then he turned away, walking in the same direction the bully had gone. The girl just stood there on the sidewalk, frozen. I thought she was going to eat me. But she only looked at me with an expression I couldn’t read. And then she walked home in silence, cradling me in her hands like I was the most precious thing in the world.

When she finally arrived, she wrapped a pink string around my middle and hung me on a nail that had been stuck in one of the yellow walls of the living room. And I have been there ever since. Anri’s parent’s never questioned my presence. I don’t think they even knew I was there. Of course, her parents usually weren’t home. Anri used the time alone to do various shenanigans. Every day after school she would arrive with a new interest. When she was younger it was just hopping from a different toy to another. But as the years passed her interests varied from sewing, to chemistry, and a lot of other random things that she eventually got bored with. And I just sat there on the wall, watching her change her mind every other week. Her parents noticed this as well, and they didn’t think there was one single thing that Anri liked that she had kept doing. But as it turns out, I know her a lot better than her own parents do. And I know that there is one interest Anri has that always lingered. Every year on Halloween, Anri goes trick-or-treating wearing the same costume she was wearing the day she brought me home. Of course she made some modifications to the costume, since she was growing. At first, I shrugged this off as just her liking the dumb thing. But after seeing her come back in disappointment every year, I figured it was something else. She was trying to find the boy. It surprised me how intent she was with her search. She said (to herself) that she’d even talked to the bully and he hadn’t know a single thing. And it continued. Every year, Anri would always leave eagerly to trick-or-treat in the cold autumn air. Every year, I would patiently await her return, hoping that she would come back with what she was searching for. And every year, she would step into the living room in disappointment–her bag full of candy, but still no information on the boy.                                                                                                      

This year, I thought it would be no different. I was wrong. I heard the front door open and close. I expected to see a pouting Anri step in with a bar of chocolate wedged between her lips. But I was greeted with a sight that I thought I would never see. Anri walked in, hand in hand with a boy who had honey-colored eyes. I felt joy spread all over me when I realized who it was. Anri had found who she was looking for. They both sat on the couch, talking rapidly about something that had happened when they saw each other. I caught something about some dude in leather getting hit by a car, but that was all I got. Then their conversation took several turns until finally coming to rest on the night they first met. The boy explained his actions while sheepishly scratching the back of his head. Turns out that he had been too nervous to talk to Anri, so he kept his mouth shut. Anri nodded, understanding his explanation. Then she pointed toward me, unfolding that she had kept me after all those years. The boy laughed, saying that he didn’t believe it. Anri laughed along with him, insisting it was true. I laughed with them, though they couldn’t hear it. They became best friends. And Anri stopped her hobby hopping when the boy started telling her about baseball. Now she was always watching baseball on the TV. I found this interest to be the dumbest one yet. But she looks so happy when she watches it, so I try not to mind.                                                                                                                  

As I look back on everything, I don’t think I would’ve ever imagined myself becoming a wall ornament at the house of a baseball-obsessed girl. But I did. Although I would’ve liked to have been eaten. Just so I could go to candy heaven and tell my siblings that I hadn’t been thrown out like they assumed I would be. But being a wall ornament is okay too. I like being a wall ornament, but I especially like how I became one.    

 

 

 Illustration by Stan Jaskiel

Illustration by Stan Jaskiel


 

 

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