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Sitting on Treasure

By Ethan N.

     “You won’t be able to go to Great America if you don’t turn in your textbooks. They are due on Wednesday, or just two days,” announced my teacher in a solemn voice. 

     I drummed my fingers on the desk impatiently because the last two teachers already warned us of this just today. Of course I would not forget my textbooks in a black hole. I already turned in two of them; I only had one left. I knew where that red, Algebra I textbook was. It rested on the seat of the antique, coffee-colored, chair inside my family’s study room. Still, I paid careful attention to whatever he spoke because he could possibly say something important.

     “You know, it’d be a bummer if you got denied access to this trip with all your friends just because you forgot a few stacks of paper,” he continued with a light chuckle.

     Nobody laughed. A chirping cricket could be heard if it were nighttime.

     “Not even a grunt...for confirmation,” he commented. “I get this dead class and they don’t even reply” he jokingly stated with the humorous expression of a cut-rate comedian.

     The class finally replied with a titter and a few short snorts, giving our teacher the satisfaction he waited for. 

     After school ended, I biked home as usual. Whilst biking, I thought about my Algebra I textbook in an unsure wonder. Then, a puzzling question popped in my head.

     “Was my textbook on the chair in the study, or on a shelf in my bedroom?” I asked myself in deep contemplation.

     I suddenly realized that I could have mistaken the textbook’s location. 

     “I’ll figure it out once I get home,” I thought, reassuring my growing worries with this idea.

     Nearing my house’s front door, I plopped my bike on the cobblestone floor and quickly rushed into the courtyard. While peeking through my house’s large windows, I searched for the ghost of the textbook with rapid eye movements and noticed the vacancy of the chair. The chair was not in its original spot of the study!  I rushingly unzipped my backpack and tumbled for the key to the entrance.              Getting a hold of it, I shoved the key into its rightful spot and with a twist and jerk, opened the door. I looked around my surroundings and found no textbook or the chair that it supposedly rested on. I stomped throughout the house with my footsteps echoing the rhythm of its impatient owner’s mood throughout the thin-walled hallways.

     “That is pretty loud. Can you stop walking that way?” yelled my father across the other end of the house.

     “Oh. Yeah I can. My bad,” I apologized hastily. “Do you know where the brown chair is that’s normally in the study?” I questioned, yelling back to him so he could hear me across the house.

     “That chair?” he asked. “I’m sitting on it.” he answered.

     In deep confusion, I hurried to sound of the voice. After I turned the corner of a hallway, the spectacle of the chair loomed into view with my father of course, sitting on it like a royal criminal.

     “You had it the whole time!” I exclaimed in contrasting frustration and relief. I could not believe that I wasted so much worry over nothing, but rejoiced because the hunt was over.

     “Yeah! You were looking for it?” he asked with a sly smile. 

     “Yes! Yes I was looking for it!” I said back.

     “Oh. I moved it,” he plainly stated.

     Giving a light chuckle, I shuffled to the chair and inspected it thoroughly. The chair had its grand armrests, squishy cushions, and wooden legs, but it lacked one important feature: the textbook. I asked my father if he knew where the textbook was. He shook his head, indicating a “no.” A heavy concern struck me through the heart.

     “Are you sure you don’t know?” I asked once again for desperate confirmation.

     He said he had no clue. 

     I grinded my teeth and questioned, “Did you see it while moving the chair?”

     “No, I didn’t,” he replied candidly.

     While sighing, I assured myself that I had one more day to locate and return the textbook. However, I was already imagining grim scenarios where I was forced stay at school while everyone else partied and celebrated the end of middle school in Great America. Those imaginations would become reality if I did not find that textbook.

     The next day, I went to school and checked my locker to find no textbook. This eliminated the possibility that it was not at home. After school ended, I returned home in search for the missing textbook. I asked my family to keep a lookout for it. Instead of casually keeping one eye open, the full force of my family assisted me in the search for this elusive textbook. We displaced furniture, turned over couch cushions, flung open closets, pulled out cabinets, flipped over stacks of paper, and even unearthed construction material from our decorated front yard. We tackled every single room inside the house including the minivan. 

     “Did you check under the sink?” asked my mother.

     “Yes. I did. I checked it.” I quickly answered. “The sink!” I thought to myself.

     I became so desperate as to search underneath a kitchen sink for a school textbook! Now, I was just arbitrarily poking around to give myself hope in the dire situation. I could feel the steady fatigue of hopelessness growing upon my family. They were tired of searching everything and finding nothing. Eventually, they resigned their efforts, and I was left alone to search for a textbook cursed by Satan or more likely Houdini. I had no more company or support to help me accomplish an impossible task. I reached for motivation and hope, but clasped a gaping void. Emptiness was all that I had left. Seeing no point in continuing, I followed my family's decision, ready to accept my undeniable fate. I jumped off into a heap of soft pillows which cushioned my fall, but as I was sinking in, I hit something hard. It was the Algebra I textbook.

     This dramatic episode took place in the span of only two days, but it has taught me a lesson I will remember for the rest of my life. When you are faced with a problem, you will reach out for help. But when help fails, you will plunge down into your darkest moments. Your hope might seem extinguished and you will feel like you have hit rock-bottom. However, luck will find a way to surprise you, whether it be by dragging you from the depths of below to the sky or bruising your tailbone from landing on a textbook.

 

I Guess Plastic is Also Nice...

By Daniel B.

    I was in second grade, digging a hole after school as I usually did during any free time at school. I would be building a snail home, a roly-poly home, or just digging, but this time I was inspired. I was inspired to look for gems. I was not looking for any large gems like a reasonable child, more of a grain of gold. I got to work.
    A few days ago, at my house, I was looking at the pictures of a book about fossils. At one point the book they showed a picture of kids finding fossils in plain sight, and I thought to myself, “Wow if these kids can find these rare treasures in plain sight, then I can too.” And the idea stuck with me.
    I first started the quest to find the jewel by scanning the turf for any significant unique colors from the bistre and musty soil. When that failed, I got close up to the soil and started to examine the soil with extreme precision and looked at every little dirt clump and scanned it for the gems. After I gave up with that strategy, I started to scrape away the lumpy topsoil to reveal any more secrets in the ground but still, nothing. Then with frustration, I dug deep into the hard earth with my hands and started shoveling out as much dirt as possible. When little hope was left, I glanced at the dirt pile and saw something red.
    In the small fluffy pile of dirt, there was a grain of red lying in the middle of it. The red was dull from being in the earth for a while, but it had potential to have such vivid colors and to be so shiny and the shape was so smooth and perfect. Like an ordinary child, I had the urge to brag but all of my friends already left school. Just then, I realized who was better to brag to about science than our science teacher? I picked up the gem and held it with as tightly as possible and ran to the science portable thinking about the great compliments she would give me.
    When I came to portable, I slowed down to look like I was not in a rush and walked in slowly to see Ms. Hornbostel cleaning the classroom.
    “Um, excuse me, Ms. Hornbostel,” I asked shyly.
    “Yes?” She responded.
    “Uh, I found this interesting gem and I thought you would be interested in it.”
    “Really? Can you show it to me?”
    “Sure… ” And I walked to her thinking that she would be so amazed.
    “Hmm,” Ms. Hornbostel examined the stone for a while. “I don’t think it's a gem.”
    “Really?”
    “Yes. It is probably some random grain of plastic.”
    “Oh,” I let the words sink in “Well, bye Ms. Hornbostel,” When I left the portable, I threw away the “gem” and started biking home. As I was biking back home I scolded myself for being so gullible.

 

Sand and Sewer Water

By Neha J.

    Shorts and a short-sleeved shirt was the dress code for this special occasion. Paired with lounging in the sand, a Coke or Sprite in hand, we couldn’t have been more relaxed. Especially the week before what could be the biggest test in our martial arts lives.

    Jose, a tall, glasses-wearing, black haired man who served as our favorite instructor, looked over the edge of the grassy sand dune we were situated on. “Who wants to see the tide pools?” he asked.

     We all cheered. “We” consisted of eleven testers - seven girls, two of which were testing for their second degree, and four boys - as well as two siblings. I was only close to five of them - and let’s not even think of my sister and her testing partner, Prachi.

Helena was an eighth grader, Katie a seventh. They were thick as thieves. Lori had just recently moved from Newark, but she and I had gotten pretty close. Shiva was a fellow sixth grader (but she attended another middle school) and we were partners for the test. Luka, the troublemaker of the group, was close friends with Will, his testing parter, the mousey-haired brother of Katie. They were both in fifth. Finally there were Ryan and Jay, both of whom no one was really close to. Ryan was a fifth grader who was more serious than a rock. Jay was an irritating eighth grader, who would wind up quitting soon after the test.

     Jose beckoned us towards the sandy slope that led to the beach. “Come on, guys,” he said, already walking down. We rushed to follow, barely yelling a goodbye to our parents, who were manning the barbeque.

     Well, Shiva, Luka, Will and I did. The rest had the demeanor of calm, cool old people. But even they fell victim to the tall grass fronds poking at our legs.

     Once we were all down, Jose held up his phone, ever the beacon, and started off towards the rocky hills in the distance. The four of us “young ones” stared longingly at the sea besides us as we walked parallel to it.

     But our desire for action was soon quenched. Up ahead lay a creek of sorts, or a stream, flowing from farther inland out towards the sea. While there were a multitude of sand bridges built across it… who wouldn’t want to test their jumping ability. After all, it was only water.

     Being me, I picked a shallow yet wide location to jump. Jose, being Jose, walked over. Because at 6 feet tall, he could.

Unfair.

     After leaping over the stream, barely missing the edge, we continued off to the tide pools. They were amazing. The different colors, the climbing over rock formations - the best.

     BRINGGGGGGG!

     Jose held up his phone. “Food’s ready,” he said.

     And so we groaned, but complied, heading demurely down the hill and back to the food. Jumped over the creek again.

     Until it happened.

     Why is the water coming out of that pipe?” my sister asked, pointing to large tube sticking out of the sand under the highway. We all stalled, wondering, when the smell hit us.

It quite literally smelled like poop.

     “Mlergh,” we cried, cringing away.

     “I think this is sewer water,” my sister said, pinching her nose. We all nodded our heads in agreement, faces masks of disgust.

     We started to head back to our parents, when  Luka charged through the water towards us, chest down wet.

     We screamed.

     Rather, Will, Shiva and I screamed.

     “YOU. ARE. IN. SEWER. WATER!” I yelled at him. He grinned that evil grin, shrugged, and ran. At us.

     We dispersed faster than you could blink. Luka, for his small size, was quite the runner, and having not yet shed my layers of baby chub, well, I was in a little bit of a pickle.

     Luka picked up on me, causing me to shriek louder and run faster. Arms flailing, I sprinted with all my might, face red, chest heaving, unable to think. Yet somehow cackling with the intensity you’d expect a witch cooking children would have.

     Grainy sand got between my toes, causing me to jump as if ants were crawling up my legs. Ugh. How inconvenient. I ran to the ocean, wiggling my toes in the rising tide, when an idea struck me.

     “GET HIM OVER HERE,” I shouted, hands cupped ‘round my mouth.

     We played a “come and catch me” game, with the three of us running just close enough to gain his interest before running to safety, slowly drawing him back towards the icy ocean.

     Somehow, we herded him to our desired location, splashing him with water, not minding the ice-coldness ourselves. Shiva and I rolled up our pants, only going in up to the knee, while the boys practically immersed themselves.

     It was the best.

     So caught up were we, however, that we didn’t notice the ten plus voices calling us back.

     Finally, in a last ditch attempt, Lori yelled, “HOT DOGS!” from her nesting point with the rest of the gang. Of course, that would be the only thing that could interest us. She pointed to the one in her hand, then made the point of taking a huge bite. The four of us exchanged suspicious glances.

     The rumbling in our stomachs made up our minds.

     Finally making peace, we raced back up the sand dunes, laughing, ready to eat.

     Yum.