Palo Alto Weekly 28th Annual Short Story Contest
First Place Tween


By Sela Dingpontsawa

About Sela Dingpontsawa

I am 10 years old and I attend Addison Elementary School in Palo Alto and I am in fifth grade. I love to read different genres of books. It never occurred to me that I would want to write about someone dying. It started with my inspiration for "Angel" from when my grandpa passed away. I wanted to express my feelings with writing in another voice, to show how both parts in the family feel. That is why I wrote in the style of journal entries. I want people to see how different both sides (parents and kids) feel about what's happening in their family. I wanted to show how both sides fit the story. I knew it would be difficult to write about someone's death, but I managed to pull it off in the end.


From the judges...

In this beautiful story about a difficult subject - death and dying - we see how much the journal format can add when used well. The young writer skillfully creates a believable character with a believable voice. Extremely well-done. Bravo!

2:35 p.m.
I tried to. Tried to listen to Daddy. Mother made me. I cried. I felt my soft, smooth head. Soft, smooth, head. Warm tears formed in my eyes. Fell down my smooth cheeks. Mother pressed her worn out hands on my tired face. She kissed my bald head. Kissed it. Wet. Felt something wet. Tears crawled down my bald head. Ran down my tired face. Formed a crooked line that outlined my lips. Lips.

4:44 p.m.
Make a wish. I know you can't tell. Do not tell wishes. Write? Can you write wishes? The lady who gave me this book said I could write anything. Mom had smiled down at me. She doesn't smile anymore.
I wish that I didn't have cancer.
None of this would have happened. Mom would have never lost her job. I would have friends. I would be normal. I would be happy. Daddy would love me. Mommy would smile. I would go to college. I would have a life. I would... No. Too many wishes. I buried my face in my pale, slim fingers, and cried.

I was walking. Down a musty road covered with dust. Flies flew everywhere. "Zip, Zoom!" I was free! Sort of. I will never be free. I will never "Zip, Zoom!" Like a fly. Never see the light of heavens. Never see the eyes of freedom welcome me and I will never feel the trails of gratitude wash over my pale, pale face. My spirit will never rest in peace. Until I am free. My flame is bright. But, the light is slowly fading.

2:30 a.m.
I was bored. I took out a flower book I made when we all went camping I flipped pages till I got to the end. The end. Taped to the back cover of the book was a picture of us. I was sitting in Dad's lap and Mom was next to us. I had a crown of daises in my hair. My Hair!! I was pretty with my wavy brunette hair. We were all smiling.

2:44 a.m.
I forced myself to look at the picture. I ripped out the picture of us and jammed it into the back of my closet. Back. Safe. Locked.
2:45 p.m.
I had ruined everything!
-Do I have to write my name?

1:30 p.m.
The doctor came today. His name is Sam. When he walks in I would say,
And he would say,
"Sam I am."
This is a ritual. Sam noted on my "problems" and checked on the medicine. He said that I was looking alright and that I would be fine, but, by looking at his furred brow, I know things aren't going well. By clarifying that, Dr. Sam took my parents out of the room. I heard them whispering. Then Sam came in, took his things and left.
"Sam won't be coming anymore," Dad says.

2:45 p.m.
I feel so feverish. My forehead feels like I've got a huge sunburn and my skin in peeling off. Dad brought me a cup of hot water.
I need a friend

4:56 p.m.
Mommy's friend's daughter came over today. She is my age, 11, and she was wearing jeans, a tie-dye rainbow peace shirt and she had rainbow beads in her black hair and was wearing a straw hat with a ribbon.
"Hi," I said my voice prim and neat.
"Sup," She answered. Then she glanced at my peace sign hanging over my bed.
"Hey," She said "I really like that sign of yours."
"Thank you. By the way, my name is Rose," I informed her.
"Hey, that's pretty. My name is... Red."
"Really? I have never met someone named Red." I said.
"I know," Red answered, twirling her finger around a lock of her hair.
"I change my name every day."
Then Red and I discussed animal cruelty and peace.
I think I found a friend.
3:00 a.m.
My head is killing me. I feel like I just plunged in to mom's hot chai mug. I invited Red over today to get my mind off my sickness. She didn't seem bothered that I requested her to come over at 3:00 in the morning. Turns out today Red's name is Allie Jo. We talked about peace to the world and we also watched "Parental Guidance" one of my all time favorite movies ever. The thing is, when I'm with Allie Jo, I finally feel like a real person.
5:45 p.m.
I felt so sick that I didn't even invite Ali. I retched five times today. I don't even feel like looking out the window. I feel dead.

2:45 a.m.
Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to me,
Happy Birthday dear Ro-o-o-se, Happy Birthday to me.

8:00 a.m.
I got a digital camera and my own photo album.
Thank you Dad, Mom. I ate most of Ali's candies. I left five pieces for tonight.

6:00 p.m.
I am feeling horrible. I invited Ali, (Bess) over.
Mom and Dad are here too.
Mom is stroking my forehead and Bess was telling me that she thinks I am amazing. Dad was sitting on a chair with his head in his hands.
Bess gave everyone a piece of her candy. I told them that I wanted for us to eat the candy at the same time. My forehead cloudy, I started unwrapping the candy.
"I love you Mom," I said.
"I love you Bess," I said.
"I love you Dad," I said.
Mom started sobbing saying she loved me so much.
Bess took my hand and squeezed it.
Dad came over and kissed my forehead.
"Can you take a picture?" Mom asked through her sobs.
"Gladly," Bess answered.
We posed and Bess flashed a picture. She dashed to the printing store and returned with it in her hand. She filed it in the first space in my photo album.
"We love you, Rose," Dad said.
"I love you all," I said.
The connection burned through my body. The fiery burst of air that I breathed washed over everyone in the room. I cannot lose my parents, my friend.
I held it in. That power had never shown it's face to me. I saw silver linings intertwine with all the things that I love.
"On the count of three we all eat our candies," I choked.
"1...2...3..." We all popped the candy in our mouths. The sweet taste comforted me. It erased all the pain I thought I would have. I quickly jotted down how it would feel. It was the feeling that guided me to heaven, silky trails of gold and gratitude wash over my pale face. The power bursted. Then, my flame died out. My angel slowly guided me, her pale face matching my feelings. I was distraught, happy, sad. But most of all, I was free.

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