Palo Alto Weekly 16th Annual Short Story Contest
2nd Place - 9-11 year olds

The Grasshopper

by Rachel Skokowsk

Hi! My name is Woody. I’m a grasshopper. Well, my story is about the day I got caught by two little girls. One day I was hopping around the Addison field playing tag with my friends, when two little girls with long gold hair came running through the field. As I hopped past them, one of them said, "Hey Rachel, look at that grasshopper. What if we could catch it? Boy, Mrs. Peck would be happy."

"Yeah, she sure would," said the other girl.

"Let’s try and catch it," Rachel said.

"Uh, oh," I thought. I ran (or rather hopped) away as fast as I could to warn my brothers and sisters. I warned all of them except for my youngest sister Emma. As I hopped off toward her, one of the girls ran in front of me and cut me off. I was very scared. Then I remembered what my mommy had told me to do if I was being chased. "You must find a sandy spot, and crouch down and don’t move." So I quickly hopped to a sandy spot and tried to camouflage. The girls ran over and started looking for me. As soon as both of them were standing with their backs to me, I seized the moment and took a giant leap in the opposite direction. One of the girls turned around and saw me! THE CHASE WAS ON! I didn’t dare stop because the girls were too close behind me. Phew, I didn’t know children were that fast. We had gone around the field twice now and I was beginning to get tired, so, it appeared, were the children.

Finally the girls sat down panting. "Gosh, catching grasshoppers is hard," said one of them. "Rachel, I have a great idea!" said one of the girls. She whispered something in her friend's ear. Then she ran off to a building on the edge of the field. I waited and waited for her to come back, but she didn’t. So even though I knew it was a bad idea, I began dozing. I was so sleepy, I didn’t even notice that one of them was creeping up on me! Then suddenly everything went dark with a soft thud!

I woke up with a start. When I looked around all I saw was white? Everywhere I looked from ceiling to walls, it was white. The only part that wasn’t white was the floor and that was made of grass. Then I heard the sound of running feet. And someone yelled, "I’m going to get a container and piece of paper. Rachel, don’t touch the grasshopper until I get back." Soon the person came back. Suddenly the floor moved, something white was moving slowly toward me. I was so frightened that I almost fainted. I backed away from the moving white thing. But It didn’t stop. It didn’t stop. It moved forwards suddenly. And suddenly I was swept on to It. Then in a movement quicker than a flash of lightning, the white walls and ceiling shot up. But before I could even get ready to jump I was roughly shoved into a large almost see through container.

It was a little while before I got my senses back, because when they pushed me into the container I had hit my head on the corner of it. I stood dazedly up but was immediately thrown back as the container lurched and was lifted up from the ground. It was hard to tell what was going on outside, because the sides of the container were glazed over. The container was carried for awhile. Then I was bowled to the other side of the container as it was set down with a bump. I heard muffled voices talking and suddenly the lid came off. And I was transferred quickly into a tall glass jar.

I looked through the glass in wonderment. I was in a large room filled with strange objects. As I dazedly looked around the room one of the girls who caught me was breathlessly relating what had happened to a grown person, a teacher I think. While she was doing this the other girl was talking to a little boy whose name I think was Kiffi or Christopher. They walked toward me and the girl showed Kiffi me and told him how they caught me. The teacher and the girl walked over too. The teacher’s name was Mrs. Peck. She said something to one of the girls and that girl ran outside and came back a minute later with some grass in hand. They stuffed the grass in my jar and trickled in some water too. She also put in some twigs. After a while the teacher and the girls and the little boy left. I was left alone in the dark. I was a little scared. It was pitch black except for at the window you could see the stars. By now I was getting rather hungry. I nibbled at the grass the girls had put in my jar. Normally I don’t like grass and this grass was no exception, in fact it was dry and tough. After that meager and terrible meal I started looking around the jar for a place to sleep. I remembered the girls putting in some water so I felt around for a dry place to lie down in. When I finally found one I lay down and started getting comfortable. I couldn’t fall asleep. So I thought about all that had happened in this long and exciting day. Pretty soon I fell asleep.

Next morning when I woke up I yawned and stretched then looked around sleepily and dazedly wondered where in the world was I? Then I remembered that the girls had caught me and brought me into the strange "classroom" and that I had spent the night there. My second thought was one that had been lurking in the back of my mind yesterday and troubling my dreams it was how to escape. Well, I thought, the jar is made of glass so I can’t get through it and the top of the jar is too high to reach by jumping, and even if I did reach it there is a strawberry basket taped over the top and even if I got out of that the doors and windows are too heavy too open and there are no cracks to creep through.

Well, I thought, first things first. So I started jumping. Usually I am a very good jumper the best in my family in fact, but I was tired from all that running yesterday and secondly I wasn’t used to jumping straight up. I was better at jumping forward. And thirdly the jar was tall and the glass slippy. When I finally stopped jumping I lay on the grass exhausted. Well, I thought, so far so bad.

The room was lighter now because the sun was up. Some birds were singing in the trees outside the window and making an infernal noise. Now was a good time to take a good look around the place, when there were no teachers or children staring through the glass at you and jabbering away.
In the room there were a lot of strange looking objects. There were a lot of queer shaped stumps and logs lying about. There was a rectangle shaped white thing on one wall of the building, and boxes of things with words and pictures, "dooks" I think.

As I was studying a poster on the wall my stomach gave a loud rumble. Uh, oh, I thought, now what I will do? The grass tasted horrible last night and it’s sure to be even more stale today.

As I pondered this question I heard the roar of a car engine outside. Though I could not see it, my senses told me that the car had parked outside the school behind the classroom I was being held prisoner in. I heard footsteps and a gate slammed then the teacher came in view walking in front of the classroom on an asphalt path.

As I watched her nearing the door a sudden idea sprang in to my head if I got out of my jar when the teacher opened the door I could leap through her legs and escape! But it didn’t work. The teacher closed the door before I even finished thinking. Until now, I hadn’t noticed how tall this teacher really was. She towered above me while I cowered underneath a twig that had been put in my jar. As she walked across the room with a steady and heavy tread I thought I felt vibrations every time she put down her feet. Her face was so high up at first it made me dizzy to look at it, but when I finally summoned enough courage the expression on it was not what I expected it to be. I had thought she would have a grim and serious face judging by the way she walked but I was wrong she had a kind and merry face.

I was extremely relieved. After she had put the bag she was carrying down on another stump she came over to the stump I was on. She bent down so her face was level with the jar. From close up I saw she wasn’t so huge after all. I guess I was being a bit silly when I first saw her. She looked me in the eye which I guess since I’m tiny compared to her was pretty hard to do but she did it. "My, my," she said. "I can’t believe those girls have caught one of those tricky fast things," she said shaking her head.
Hmph, I didn’t like being called tricky, but I suppose she didn’t know. She looked at her watch then muttered something under her breath and wrote something on the rectangle shaped white thing. Then she sat down at the stump to the right. As there wasn’t much else to do I dozed for awhile, I didn’t quite fall asleep but just as I was about to, a loud noise, a bell I think, woke me up.

Mrs. Peck was at the door saying hello to a chattering and jostling crowd of children. As they streamed in I noticed the two girls who had caught me. They were with two other girls whose names were Emma and Sabrina. They walked over to the "science table" and started staring and talking excitedly. The news spread and soon there was quite a crowd. Finally they started dispersing back to the stumps and logs they call desks.

I won’t tell you very much about my day in the classroom. I mostly slept and nibbled on the grass. I had a tummy ache because of that.

In the afternoon something interesting finally happened. My jar was lifted off the thing I was on and carried to a rug in the corner. All the pupils sat in a circle, I think it was some kind of ceremony called "show and tell."

Well anyway they passed me around and talked. As I was being passed from a girl to a boy the girl dropped the jar. I seized the moment and started wriggling out of the strawberry basket on top of the jar. I was almost out when one of them saw me and pushed me back in.

All the students went back to their seats except for the two girls they talked quietly for a minute with the teacher then picked me up, carried me out of doors and let me go! I set off with a leap and a bound to my own house.

THE END


Judge's Comments:

The author really follows through with the point of view of the grasshopper. It also portrays what kids would really do. The story is so thoughtfully written that it will change how the readers view things. The aprreciation of nature and the natural world is very evident.