After that, I pretty much gave up. Each Friday, I continued to write and erase, but I let go of my dreams of beating Susie Sloan, seeing my paper on the Spotlight Wall, and having my dream date with Mr. Adamson. Instead, I decided just to write for myself. Evidently the universe thought this was a great idea and decided to reward me for it. It was only when I stopped trying to beat Susie that I finally did it…
…One Friday in May our writing challenge involved bringing an inanimate object to life. I’d sort of spaced out for a while, watching Ricky Simmons try to look down Jennifer Freeman’s V-neck tee-shirt, because I couldn’t think of anything to write. I reached in my bag for another sheet of paper when my hand brushed against the remnants of my lunch, four remaining cherries in a plastic baggie. My mom had packed my favorite fruit in my lunch as a treat because of the big math test I’d had that day. The lunch bell had rung, though, before I’d gotten a chance to finish the cherries, so I’d hurriedly stuffed the baggie in my backpack and raced to class. Cherries, I thought, as I pulled the new sheet of paper out of my backpack. I’ll write a story about cherries. And so I did.
I began writing about a little girl (me) who loved cherries more than anything else in the world. She loved the different varieties and the deep red color of them. She loved the waxy smoothness of their skin, the juice that spilled into her mouth when she took a bite, and the numerous ways she’d discovered she could eat around the pit. She gobbled up these delicious, juicy bites of heaven anytime her mother brought them home. When there were no cherries in the house, she begged her mother to go buy more.
One night, she woke up and tiptoed down to the kitchen to eat some of the delicious cherries. She put a bunch of them in a bowl, sat on the couch in the darkness and ate them, savoring each bite of these particularly dark red juicy cherries.
At some point, she must have fallen asleep because when she opened her eyes, a voice said, “Are you done yet?” Startled, she practically jumped out of her seat and discovered a giant talking cherry was sitting on the couch next to her. This must be a dream, the little girl thought. She rubbed her eyes, but the cherry was still there. It had hands and feet and a mouth and everything. The cherry continued to talk to her and eventually convinced her to take a wild, adventurous ride with him.
She rode on his shoulders, holding tightly to his green stem. He took her to a field of cherry trees where she met a host of other wild cherries. She especially enjoyed meeting the baby cherries who were just getting their color. She had so much fun listening to all the stories. She lounged on the ground with some of the darker and wiser cherries and listened to the tales of their journeys.
The next thing the little girl knew, her mother was shaking her, “Wake up, sweetie.” She slowly opened her eyes, unsure of where she was. How did she get from the cherry trees back to her home? She must have said this aloud because her mother asked her what she was babbling about. “Oh nothing,” the little girl replied. Her mom picked up the empty bowl and told her to throw away all the pits strewn around her.
And then her mother added, “And how on earth did you manage to get leaves in your hair?” The little girl gasped as she raised her hand to her head and pulled out a few stray green leaves from her hair. Had it not been all a dream after all?
Later that day, the little girl’s mother offered her another bowl of cherries. The little girl paused, remembering what she’d learned and seen in her dream. “No thanks. I think I’ll eat the strawberries instead.” And she swore she saw one of the cherries in the bowl wink at her.
And it was this epic tale that finally dethroned Queen Susie. That next Monday I walked into class to find “Wild Cherries” stapled proudly to the Spotlight Wall, wearing its brilliant gold star. Students congratulated me as they huddled around to read my story. I was an instant celebrity, the first to beat Susie Sloan that year. I stood back, listening to them praise my story and looking up at my big, bright star.
And I hadn’t even needed stickers, I’d thought proudly.
The best part of my victory might have been the remarks I overheard during Open House, which happened to fall during the week “Wild Cherries” was on the Spotlight Wall. The parents whispered, “What a cute story that is” and “Samantha Cooper is so creative.” I secretly blushed as I watched them nod and point admiringly at my work.
Or maybe the best part was my dream date with Mr. Adamson. I wore my favorite Guess? denim skirt, the Kelly green Izod polo shirt that everyone said matched my eyes, and my best Bonnie Bell lip-gloss. It was the most magical lunch I’d ever had, and I knew that if I didn’t end up marrying Mr. Adamson, I’d wait for someone just as perfect.
Perhaps, though, the best part was simply that my Monday morning hope had been realized.
On that one Monday in sixth grade when I saw my story proudly displayed and received such glowing accolades and saw Mr. Adamson smile at me, my future was clear: I would be a writer, one with a cute husband just like Mr. Adamson.