Palo Alto Weekly 16th Annual Short Story Contest
3rd Place - 9-11 year olds
by Kelly O'Reilly
Adriana Carranza waded in the warm water of the Atlantic Ocean.
The gentle waves lapped the smooth sand. She saw a crab crawl out
of its hideout. She picked up a perfect seashell and held it delicately
and examined it. She made sure she studied the light pink lines
and how the bottom of it was slightly blue. Then she dried it against
her shirt and slipped it into the suede pouch that always hung around
her neck. She observed the grainy sand of the beach. She wanted
to remember it all, because she would be moving to Chicago in a
week. They would be moving because her parents believed that Chicago
would be a wonderful experience for her and her older brother, Carlos.
She wished to stay here where she had lived for the eleven years
of her life. She had been born and raised here, and she had hoped
to always live on this island where everything was familiar to her
and where her friends and family were.
Adriana lived on an island off the coast of Mexico called Veracosa
Island. Veracosa Island was split up into three main sections. In
the middle, there was the downtown area, where there were many small
shops, a school, a town square, and a park. To the left facing Mexico,
there was the city. There, most of the Veracosa population had their
houses. And then there was the rural area. A tiny percentage of
the islands inhabitants had farms here. Adrianas family
owned a huge plot of land in the rural area.
As the sun sank below the horizon and into the sapphire colored
ocean, Adriana decided she better start heading back to her house.
And so off she ran in the cool, evening breeze. When she reached
her house, the smell of vegetable soup and cornbread drifted in
the air. That was her favorite meal. So she quickly washed her hands
and went to the kitchen.
"Hello dear. Papa isnt back from work yet but he should
be here soon. Dinner is on the table. You may sit but dont
begin to eat until Papa comes."
"Did you wash your hands yet?"
"I just washed them."
"Okay then sit down."
Adriana went to join Carlos at the dinner table. Carlos had dark
brown hair and dark brown eyes.
"Hey," he said, "where were you?"
"Down at the beach. Whats wrong with that?"
"Nothing, I guess."
There was nothing more to say, so there was a silence. Adriana heard
a knock at the door. Papa was home from work. He gave Adriana a
big hug, then they all sat down and began to eat their delicious
supper and have a energetic conversation.
In the morning, Adriana brushed her hair in front of her mirror.
The glass reflected an eleven-year-old girl with thick brown hair
reaching her waist, big, dark brown eyes, and dark skin, the color
of coffee and cream.
The rest of the week was spent on packing belongings. All of her
possessions were packed into the brown boxes. The boxes were everywhere.
Boxes lay in Adrianas room. Boxes were strewn about the living
room. There were even boxes in the bathroom. Adriana hated it. They
reminded her that soon she would leave her house and move to a place
that she hadnt even seen before. On the final day while her
family put the boxes in a huge moving truck, Adriana ran down to
the beach for the last time.
At the beach, she sat upon the soft sand and sobbed a waterfall
of tears. She cried and cried until she had no more tears left.
Then with her eyes red and watery, she reluctantly left the beach
and went to her family who were already waiting in the car. They
drove to an airport and left Veracosa Island for good. A single
tear trickled down her cheek as she waved good-bye to her family,
Six hours passed. Adriana peeked out the window of the airplane.
They were about to land. She looked down at Chicago, her new home.
Cars were crowded in the streets. Many people were crammed on the
sidewalks. She noticed that in Chicago, the roads were straight.
The houses were built on the sides of the roads in long lines. Back
at Veracosa, houses had been scattered everywhere. The roads curved
and twisted to connect all of them. At Veracosa Island, the roads
had been like a spiders web. One who had never been there
before could easily get lost. Of course that was only about the
city area and the downtown area. The rural area had only a few lanes,
like snakes, connecting them to downtown. Chicago was far more crowded
than Veracosa could ever be. The second she glanced at the bustling
streets and crowded sidewalks, she wished she was home. And they
hadnt even landed yet.
"Well, here we are!" said Papa as they opened the door
to their new apartment. Adriana could tell that Papa was trying
to be cheerful and make the best out of this tiny apartment.
Adriana scanned the living room. It had a red couch, a large, green
armchair and a small, black and white television set. "Wheres
my room?" she asked. "You and Carlos will share that room,"
Mama replied pointing towards a white door. She could hear Carlos
groan. Back at the island, Carlos had his own bedroom and his own
study. This was a large step down for him. Adriana opened the door
leading to a cramped room with tan walls, the color of the sand
at the Veracosa beach. The room contained two twin-sized beds with
dark green blankets. Between them was a wobbly nightstand. There
was a small closet for both of them to share and a chest of drawers
for them to put their belongings in.
At night, Adriana couldnt fall asleep. The cars outside were
honking, tires were screeching, and police sirens were wailing.
She tossed and turned. By morning, she had rolled her sheets into
a huge, tangled knot.
It was the first day of school. Adriana plaited her long hair in
two thick braids and slipped on a pale blue shirt and a denim skirt.
She filled her book bag with a notebook, a pencil case, and a folder
and went off to Liberty Elementary School. Her new school was one
big brick building. There was no schoolyard. No Playground. No swings.
No slide. Only the cold, hostile building looking down at her with
a stern frown.
Class was boring. Her teachers had no enthusiasm or passion for
the subject they were teaching. The children were rowdy and boisterous
since they were cramped inside all the time. She was unable to concentrate
on her work. At lunch they went to a concrete area outside to eat.
Adriana ate her sandwich alone. She wanted to go back to the island.
She hated Chicago. At recess they were all crowded into the gym.
Her classmates teased her about the pouch around her neck. They
teased her about how long her hair was and yanked on her braids.
Her eyes filled with tears, but she forced herself not to cry.
At home, she ran to her room and cried.
"Adriana, come help me cut the mango for dinner!" Mama
" No! I dont want to!" she choked with tears.
"ADRIANA, COME HELP ME CUT THE MANGO!"
Adriana sulkily wiped her eyes, and then joined her mother in the
kitchen. At least they had her favorite fruit in Chicago also. She
grabbed a mango and began to cut. She grit her teeth and furrowed
her eyebrows as she cut, pretending it was one of her classmates
"Adriana, whats wrong?" asked her mother.
"Honey, I know something is the matter."
"I SAID NOTHING!"
"All right then. It just makes me so sad to see you like this.
I wish you would tell me."
Adriana laid her head on her mothers shoulder.
"Everyone at school hates me!" She sobbed.
"Oh honey, its all right. Youre a wonderful girl.
Youll make a friend. Just you wait and see."
The next day, Adriana tried to be as kind as possible to all her
classmates. Still, they teased her. A week passed, and Adriana was
desperate for a friend. She decided she should stop eating alone.
That way, she could meet more people who might end up being her
friends. But what if they teased her or just ignored her? She made
up her mind to sit by herself. After all, if they wanted to be her
friend, they could come over to her.
No one came to sit by her, as she expected. The day was a miserable
The next day, as she sat by herself, a thought trickled into her
mind. Maybe others were as shy as she was. She would have to risk
being teased and try her hardest to make a friend. She looked at
the lunch tables. She realized that when she had been feeling sorry
for herself, she hadnt noticed that there was another girl
who sat alone.
The girl had reddish brown hair and green eyes. Adriana noticed
that the girl was seated in a blue wheelchair. Seeing her in a wheelchair
made Adriana remember four years ago. When she was seven she had
broken her leg. She had had to use a wheelchair for a while. She
remembered how no one had wanted to be with her except her one friend,
Rose. Without Rose she would have been miserable. Now as she watched
the other girl eating lunch by herself, she felt sorry for her.
Gathering up her courage and confidence, Adriana picked up her lunch
tray and went over to her.
"This seat taken? she asked, although she knew the answer.
She sat down by the girl.
hi!" she said nervously, hoping to start a conversation.
"Hi." The girl replied, looking down at her lunch tray.
my names Adriana. Whats yours?"
The girl nervously glanced at Adriana.
"Bridget. Youre new here. Arent you?"
"Yeah. I moved here from Veracosa. Veracosa is an island off
the coast of Mexico."
Bridget was excited to hear Adrianas stories about Veracosa
Island. So Adriana spoke of how beautiful the beach was with the
suns light reflected on the water. She spoke of the beautiful
horses. She told Bridget how the roads curved and twisted. She told
her of the seashells with light pink lines and their bottoms slightly
blue. By the end of the day, she and Bridget were fast friends.
Bridget made them both friendship bracelets, and every day after
school the two friends played together and talked. After two months,
Adriana was convinced that they would be friends forever. As a sign
of their friendship, Adriana gave Bridget the seashell. She gave
her the seashell with light pink lines. The seashell that was slightly
blue underneath. The seashell from Veracosa Island.
An honest and ambitious dealing with serious issues that are
handled sensitively. It addresses some larger world issues through
one individual. The details and descriptions of the island made
us want to go to this beautiful place.