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One Small Step

9th grade is actually a very exciting year. You grow up a lot. You learn so much (mostly not during actual lessons) and you have to make very important choices.

For me, 9th grade will always be remembered as the year I took my first step.

I had been very excited the day before. I picked out my outfit carefully and took a long shower to think. I went to sleep early so I wouldn’t look tired. In the morning I put on my Time Turner with a knob missing and the ring I got from my grandma, both for good luck. It’s nice to believe in that kind of thing, even if you know deep down it’s probably not true. It makes you feel better, more confident.

I didn’t even bother trying to be there on time to catch the school bus. Instead, I took my time and then walked to the public bus stop. When I arrived at school lessons had already started and the hallways were empty. My class had work period, which is basically working for our school so they don’t have to hire a gaziliion people to do stuff (Animals to tend to: cows, horses, one camel, lots of peacocks, some goats, rabbits, caged birds, etc. Other possible jobs: cleaning the school, helping in the office, working in the fields etc.) Our school is enormous and is considered “half private” (whatever that means). It’s a very special school though and apparently it’s very hard to get in (I think they say that just to advertise though, because for me it was just a 10 minute interview).

Anyway, my friend was one of the lucky ones and got to work in the office, and she was just delivering some letters around the school when I got there. I wasn’t planning on working today, I just couldn’t. Instead I helped her out and when she was done we just waited in the empty classroom until students started to fill the room. Eventually I noticed it was time to go and we began to make our way towards the cafeteria.

The school cafeteria is huge. When the tables are pulled back, there is enough room for the whole school to crowd into it. I picked up a little card with my name on it before entering and also got a nice little bookmark (which I later lost).

I went to a bench up front and sat next to a boy I kind of knew from around. Eventually a girl from my class, Ella, joined me there. We were the only two from our class meant to sit up front.

I was probably the most excited and anxious person in that cafeteria. And that’s saying a lot, because some 7th graders were freaking out.

Now, for me this gathering was much more important than for some of the people there. Ella, for example, was maybe an eighth as anxious as I was. I think I was holding my breath the whole time.

The whole thing happened exruciatingly slowly.¬†Some people came onto the stage and talked about how wonderful it is to encourage writing among students and other things I really didn’t care about hearing at the moment. They talked and read poems and there were about three “but before we begin”s.

However, after a while they finally had to begin, and I was still holding my breath.

My short story won third place. There were four categories and roughly calculating that means I was third best out of about 28, and between sixth and and third best out of 58. Rereading it, the story was really good but very badly edited. I could have won second place, if not first. But still, walking up onto the stage I felt a sense of euphoria. I took the certificate and prize money and went to stand next to the woman who was now reading a description of my story.

The surprising thing was that what she said about my story was so different from what I had planned it to be about. Apparently I had written a story about a return to heaven, hinting to the biblical story of Adam and Eve. Truth was, I meant to write about the environmental destruction we are throwing ourselves into, and how nature will be missed in the future even by those who haven’t ever seen it.

My reaction: Kaaaaaaaaaaay.

Still, it was exciting enough. I went back to my seat and hardly dared to hope for my poem to win as well (which it didn’t). Ella’s didn’t win either. However, a girl who I didn’t know who was sitting behind us won first place for both her story and poem. I was very happy for her (and a bit jealous).

The whole day I was congratulated by different people, some of whom I barely knew. I got to attend a conference with a poet who talked about the stages of the Muse in creaters lives (Instead of math! Double bonus!).

I was starting to get used to people congratulating me and asking how much money I got, but I was caught off guard once. I was asked how long it took me to write the story and when I replied with, “A few hours… Plus editing.” the boy who had asked nodded and said, “That’s ok, I guess. It was worth it.”
Something about the way he said it made me realize something, and I don’t know why it did but it surprised me very much.
“Wait, you know I enjoyed writing it, right?”
He actually looked surprised. “Oh, well, that’s a bonus.”

So far I hadn’t really thought of the money I had won. I was too happy about actually winning, for the first (and hopefully not the last) time in my life. And this was the first competition I had ever entered my writing in. I felt one step higher up that tall mountain I was trying to climb. But I just couldn’t believe someone could think I had done it for money!

I don’t think it would have been possible to win any place if you did it for money. It just wouldn’t have any soul. And there are better ways to get money, anyway. I was truly dissapointed at that moment.

However, my mind soon moved on to better things. The Muse had hit me hard that day and I had some ideas to get to. I promised myself that next year I will win at least second place. Another small step up the mountain.

I know where I’m headed – and watch me get there.

Next time I will post the beggining of my next story (planned to be a novel – though when will I have time, I’m not sure).

May the Muse be with you, and the idiots stay far away.