Palo Alto Weekly 16th Annual Short Story Contest
2nd Place - 12-14 year olds
by Avy Lamm
The speeding bullet flew through the air headed directly for Yazmines
heart. The witnesses saw this act as if in slow motion. They turned
their heads away, waiting for the scream. But it never came. Yazmine
was the village outcast, for superstitious and religious reasons.
In the small village in the South Pacific, exactly 15 years ago
amidst festive, colorful celebrations, a baby was born. But this
was a baby the likes of which had never been seen before in this
quiet little village. Yazmine was milk-white like a windswept bone,
with flowing flames of rusty orange hair. Her almond-shaped, vivid
sapphire eyes contrasted wildly with lemon pink lips. She was stunningly
beautiful, which made the villagers wary. Her mother, Loama, loved
her, even though she was odd, because she was her daughter. The
father was unknown which wasnt unusual in the small village.
Her mother cared for her, and with every day that passed it became
apparent that her looks werent the only unusual thing about
her. She often, too often, wandered alone into the forest and disappeared
for hours at a time, during which the villagers heard screeches
and yowls. Some said they were being punished, and others said that
the noises were made by her and that she was possessed, but no one
really knew. One villager even claimed that he had tracked what
he surmised to be a Sumatran tiger, a large kill and of great value
to the villagers, but that he had tracked it to the edge of the
woods, but found only Yazmine, looking startled.But there were good
things about her that were often over-looked; she was increasingly
quick and smart. Her delicate fingers darted quickly and the tightest
knot was undone. The years passed and Yazmine grew. With every year,
the villagers loathed and feared her more. Her skills increased
Under her watchful eyes and strong, nimble fingers, a beautiful
rug was woven in a few hours. There were no rats dashing in and
out of bags of grain, so fewer illnesses occurred. The crops flourished,
except for tobacco which whithered and died. In its place grew abundant
foliage with delicate
white flowers, green, waxy leaves and a strong fragrance that smelled
of life and new rain. Children and animals alike were drawn to her
as if by magic, and like the beautiful rugs, Yazmine quickly wove
intricate stories which they adored, because, like most children
their naïve ways helped them see what the blinded adults could
not. A good heart. Yet still the other villagers shunned her.
When Yazmine turned fourteen, her mother became deathly ill.
Despite what Yazmine did, she became worse, and it was evident that
she would not live to see spring. Yazmine was with her mother the
night she realized Loama was going to die. She had been weak a fortnight,
her breathing shallow and uneven. Yazmine at her side, she requested
her relatives and friends to leave, she wanted "a private word"
with her daughter. Everyone gone, Loama gazed into Yazmines
"I want you to know that you are not my own." Loama muttered
"My own daughter died in childbirth. Grief-stricken, I ran
towards the jungle, hoping to kill myself to ease the pain. But
as I approached the forest edge, I saw you, abandoned. You were
small enough to pass as newborn. I took you under my care. Only
one girl knew of the truth, but I convinced her never to tell. Im
sorry I couldnt tell you." Loama averted her eyes, obviously
in both kinds of pain.
"I know," whispered Yazmine,
"Ive always somehow known."
Silent, happy tears rolled done both womens cheeks, and Loama
grew silent. She was dead.
Three months later, Yazmine stood at the edge of the jungle, staring
defiantly at the double-barreled gun pointed at her chest. She gazed
sadly around, at the villagers whom she had grown up with, yet had
always somehow hated her. Yazmine looked around pityingly, held
her chin up, braced herself, then said,
"I could never have hated you, even if I wanted to. Realizing
your mistake will be punishment enough." She smiled a sweet,
sad smile, and looked once more at the double-barreled gun. The
villagers sniggered uncomfortably and muttered vicious names, but
managed to look gleefully relieved. The chief loaded and cocked
his gun, aiming. They watched hopefully and sighed long sighs of
relieved stress. He fired, but just before the bullet hit, there
was a flash of bright light and they were momentarily blinded, but
they didnt worry, the chief never missed his target
where was the scream?
They uncovered their eyes cautiously, looking for her body, but
it was not found. The only thing there, was a large, rusty wildcat,
sapphire eyes wide and staring, dead. A communal cry rent the air,
and the people wept over her still body. For all who wept that day,
their eyes turned a dazzling blue, as a mark of their regained innocence.
To this day, if you travel to the small village in the South Pacific,
you will see a large cement statue, from one side woman, from the
other wildcat. Jasmine bloom about her base, and her pedestal is
adorned with offerings of fruit, dead rats and rabbits, and a gold
"Realizing your mistake will be punishment enough."
The story has many elements of wisdom that we look for in a
folktale. This tale has a moral message that invites serious thought.
It is full of jewel-like details and metaphors that flow quite naturally.