Palo Alto Weekly 26th Annual Short Story Contest
Second Place Chil

About Emma Miller

Short Story Contest

I am a 6th grader at Woodside Elementary, and I am 11 years old. I love reading and have a large imagination. I thought of my story in 4th grade during a quick write. Over the years I have kept the notebook and added to my ideas. I find that fantasy inspired by real sights and thoughts is easier and more fun to write. I hope you like my story!
by Emma Miller

“Flip, flop, flip, flop,” the orange monkey tail went lullabying me awake. I felt the cool breezes rushing through my window.

“Ahh!” I screamed. What’s the flopping? Quickly I looked down. I had grown a tail!

“Laura,” my mom called down the hall over my sister’s screeching.

“Oh, no,” I said remembering school. The gloomy dark classroom, all black.

The teacher’s crooked teeth and evil grin. Her white hair and colorless eyes. The shriveled skin. I zoned back into my bright pink bedroom with my orange bed and bedcovers. My long wavy golden hair and blue eyes were sparkling in the lamplight. The grey carpet flew under my light caramel feet and blue monkey pajamas as I ran to pull on the ugly uniform of a black dress with muddy green socks and shoes. Wait, I have a tail. My mind went and went and as it did butterflies grew inside my stomach. What to use, what to use? Slowly, I used hair ties to hold up my tail.

“Done,” I sighed grabbing my books and heading down the hall.

In the kitchen my mom asked “What took you so long?”

“Ugh," I said, “I had important business. Just take me to school.”

“Laura,” my mom said getting that threatening tone in her voice.

“Sorry,” I said getting clearly annoyed.

“Alright, let’s go. Christine!” my mom called her voice rising at the end and starting with a big sigh. Christine is my noisy sister who just happens to love sleeping in and taking her precious time. On the car ride I debated. Should I tell mom? No! Authorities will take me away (Not that I’d miss my sister). But, maybe she could help. And then school was in sight. My mom dropped me off at school and I ran to get to class on time. The bell rang right as I neared the door. I grasped for the doorknob and pulled.

“Laura,” the teacher said, cackling as she moved to the front of the one room schoolhouse, striding through the small desks placed in uniform rows, her large one at the back. “Now, now,” she said snidely, her grin expanding. “Are we late for class?” she asked.

“Yes ma’am,” I said cringing and putting my head down.

“Now class, is she the first one late this year?” she said to all my frightened classmates.

“Yes ma’am,” they all replied.

“Oh so I should take pity, NOT!” She said, snot shooting out of her nose as she laughed. “Let’s see. Why don’t we look at the punishment wall?” She dragged me to the back of the class where her desk sat.

“Oh,” she said, “looks like you’ll be cleaning the snake’s cage.” “Yes ma’am,” I said terrified, “but isn’t it poisonous?”

To that she curtly replied, “You have a lot of work. And the answer to that question is, positively. The rest of you, recess time! Let’s go.” She herded them out of the classroom and locked me in. I ran to get the cleaning supplies and stared at the tank. Was the snake asleep? Was it a good time to reach in? I wondered.

“Beware of the witch!” a sizzling voice whispered.

“Who what what said that?” I said looking around.

“Me, Elliot Gercham. That lady, the witch, she slowly turns the whole class into animals that she sells all around the world. I’m a snake. She doesn’t know that I’ve warned you. She doesn’t think I can talk. Sssssss.” The snake whispered.

“I really am scared. Snap out of it!” I said whacking myself in the head. “Snakes don’t talk. Snakes don’t talk-“

“Then how am I? You have to listen to me. She is going to torture you all as helpless animals!” Elliot the snake said.

“Well, then what am I supposed to do? Kill her or drown her in the magic lake in the middle of the classroom?” I said sarcastically.

“Well, no. You whack her on the head with the flying broom in the closet and she’ll disintegrate.” He said matter of factly.

“Wha- OK so I take a magic broom and hit the teacher. What ev. Wait how do you know?”

“I googled it on my computer before I changed into this.”

“Google has that?”

“Yes. Oh, here she comes.”

“But, but, which broom?”

“The one that flies.”

“OK, don’t bite me. I need to clean the cage for the teacher. Here goes.” I cleaned it quickly. Snakes were really tidy.

“How’s work going Laura?” the teacher asked.

“Well, I’m almost done.” “Let me see.” She said. As she turned around I grabbed the broom from the closet, conveniently placed next to the door, and snuck up behind her. Should I do it? How much trouble would I be in if I hit my teacher and she didn’t disentigrate? Then, she turned around.

“What are you doing? Give me that!” She spat. Now or never. I brought the broom down and “POOF” she exploded in ashes!

My tail and probably other kids’ animal parts shrunk away. The only reminder left was my hair ties lying on the floor. .

Judges comment

"A Tale of a Tail" is clever and refreshingly honest.The descriptions are good and the dialogue moves the story along briskly. Well done.


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