Friday, March 8, 2013

Winner! Winner! Italian Dinner!

The library on base, along with Embry Riddle, recently sponsored a short story writing contest for middle school and high school students.  Riley got the information and began working on a draft for the contest.  After some revisions, she had a finished project to enter, even before the deadline.

Earlier this week we went to the library for the announcements of the winners, and we were so proud when Riley won 2nd place in the middle school age group.  

Riley's favorite parts of this picture...there's a dog in the background.  She also got to pick a writing journal.  She loves this journal.
Before the announcement, she leaned over and asked if we could go out to dinner if she won, so afterwards we enjoyed a celebratory dinner at one of our favorite local places, New Risto (we just call it Mario's).  

Now she sports her prize while she's working on school, blocking out all the noise of her "exasperating" siblings.  :)  (whom she loves like crazy anyway--isn't that what siblings are about?)

What follows is her story, based on a picture from a book of illustrations by Chris Van Allsburg.  Here's a link to the picture that she used as her inspiration from the book The Mysteries of Harris Burdick.  She's also holding the book open to the page with the illustration in the following picture.

Under The Rug
By Riley Gatlin

Two weeks passed and it happened again.  A bump appeared under the living room rug.  
The first time it happened, I had screamed, “Mom, Dad! Come quick!”   Dad rushed out of the shower, with his face half covered in shaving cream and a towel hurriedly thrown around him to see what was wrong.  He too was astonished by the strange thing in our house.  We lifted up the rug and shook it but saw nothing.  When we set the rug back down, It was still there. Overnight, the bump had mysteriously disappeared.  We were relieved to see It go, but we were still baffled.  
Then, two weeks later, It was back.  We tried to get rid of It by stomping on It, stacking dictionaries and encyclopedias on It, and Dad even threw a chair at It.  But nothing would even dent It, let lone remove It.  Eventually, we had to leave It alone because we were going to be late for school.
When I got home, I noticed It was gone.  I was more perplexed than ever, but I smiled in relief as I headed to the den to watch some TV, hoping It would never return.  Imagine my surprise when I almost tripped over a large bulge in the den. 
Dumping buckets of water on It only soaked the rug, and we fell over trying to stand on It.  Scamper, the dog, cowered in the corner for three days after we shut him in the den to try and scare It away.  Nothing worked!
Finally, we gave in.  Since we couldn’t move, shrink, or eliminate It, we decided 
It might as well stay. 
It was surprisingly well behaved.  Unlike Scamper, It never barked, and It never required a pooper-scooper.  We held a family meeting to decide what to call It and what gender to use when referring to It.  Since It didn’t look like anything except a bump, we named it Bumper, and because my brother was the only boy, we decided to make Bumper a he.  Slowly, we became accustomed to his presence and he became a part of the family instead of a stranger.  I liked him.  And even though I couldn’t chase him around the yard like I could with Scamper, it was fun to curl up next to him and read a good book. 
Then one day, “Bumper” just disappeared.  I screamed again, this time with tears in my eyes.  “Mom, Dad! Come quick!” 
Mom rushed in with half her hair up in curlers, and a robe thrown around her shoulders.  I showed her the spot where Bumper used to live.  “Maybe he just moved, like last time.” I said, trying to reassure myself.  We looked everywhere.  Under all the rugs and beds, and in all the closets and cupboards, but he was nowhere to be found!
Later that same day, we heard a scream coming from the neighbor’s house.  I grinned to myself.  I think I found Bumper!

My last thought--don't you like how she managed to work a dog into her story?  And turned the mysterious bump into a pet?  She's so eager to get a dog...

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