Ohio’s Original Interscholastic Creative Writing Program for Middle Schools
Here are some examples of the excellent student writing produced at Power of the Pen tournaments:
When I am Ten
by Rebecca Muntean, Grade 8, Boardman Center Middle School
Prompt: 10. Create a story based on this number
When I am ten, boys will no longer be crawling with cooties and infect you with germs when they tag you on the playground. I will be far too sophisticated to be seen playing tag.
My wardrobe will consist of the latest adult fashions. High heels and business jackets will be a necessity for my daily routines. My hair will be curled, clipped, and hair-sprayed at all times for complete beauty. The boys will drop their jaws when they see my makeup-touched face. I plan on swiftly applying the same eye shadow, mascara, eyeliner and blush that my mother so elegantly wears to work and dinner parties. Of course that is what all ten year olds wear.
Tomorrow, when I am ten, I will grow forty feet in the air to the size of my mom. No longer will I have to drag a chair over or ask a grown-up to get the cereal down from the cabinet.
I will be able to go to restaurants and order the finest foods from the grown-ups’ menu. My ten-year-old adult stomach will be far too large for the servings they permit mere children to eat. I also plan to wear an evening gown whenever I go out to dine. My neck will be frosted with expensive jewels and diamonds that no nine year-old deserves to wear. I will laugh only at the pleasantries that my adult friends make, not the silly movements of children.
When I am ten, I will be so superior to my fourth grade classmates that I must be placed in a sixth grade class with the other adults. There, I will abandon finger painting and strive to learn the fine art of cut-and-paste pictures.
When I am ten, I will be smart, rich, and responsible enough to purchase my own home. This is where I can have dozens, no hundreds of parties and get-togethers. I guess my nine year-old friends can come, but only if they promise to be mature when we swim in the lime Jell-O pool I’ll order. When swimming, I will no longer wear water muscles and plug my nose when going into the depths of the pool. I will sunbathe in my Speedo bikini as I become more beautiful by the second.
Then, after a long day of parties, I will tuck myself into my king-size bed which is only suitable for a ten year-old goddess such as myself.
Yes, things will be different when I turn ten. I only hope my mom and dad will be ok when I tell them I am moving out.
by Calley Nelson, Grade 7, Granville Middle School
Prompt: Left________________. Fill in the blank for the central idea of your story.
Grandpa sped down the cracked road in our old, rusty van. Grandma always scolded him, saying, “One day when you are failing to drive this blasted van on the speed limit, the dang thing will begin falling to pieces.”
I liked to rest my head on the sun-warmed glass of the backseat window and imagine pieces of the van marking our trail as we traveled across the country.
“Stop,” Grandma snapped, “I need to empty.” This was Grandma’s way of telling us she had to use the restroom when there wasn’t one around.
Grandpa parked the car where Grandma pointed, and we piled out of the car alongside the dusty road.
There was nothing but sand and cacti as far as I could see. The place almost looked like it wasn’t wanted, like no one thought it was a good place to live in or admire. It was simply left nowhere. Why would anyone want to live in nowhere? I thought it was full of nothing but beauty, the sun high, not a cloud in its path, the hot dirt beneath my feet. It was perfect.
“Grandpa,” I asked after Grandma emptied behind a cactus, “Why isn’t anyone here?”
“Because,” he began, adjusting his glasses to see me clearly. “Because we are nowhere.”
“Can we stay here in nowhere?”
Grandpa looked at me like I lost my hair. “Sweetie, there is nothing here, there is nowhere to stay.”
“We have our van, could we stay here in nowhere tonight?”
That night, Grandpa and I sat together with our toes in the dirt, looking up at the stars left in nowhere.
by Greta Kremer, Grade 7, McKinney Middle School
I felt the sun’s warm arms wrap about me. They soaked into the worn wooden benches, stroked the wide, paved sidewalk, and kissed my cheeks. We sat on one of the benches, Grandpa and I, quietly tossing crumbs to the birds on the sidewalk in front of us. Benches just like ours lined the sidewalk, offering a creaking but welcoming place to sit.I studied Grandpa, who was watching the little brown sparrows peck at the crumbs and flutter about, hopping and twittering into each other. Grandpa reached into the chicken feed bag we had brought along and tossed a few more breadcrumbs to them. His hands shook. He was thin and frail, his skin draped loosely over his bones. His glasses were so thick I couldn’t see his eyes clearly. His hair was wispy white and couldn’t quite cover all of his head. Even though it was warm he wore a flannel shirt and heavy pants.
He slowly turned to me, a vacant expression painted across his face.
“Where are we?”
I swallowed and glanced about. Spongy, healthy grass sprung from the ground, green and dewy. Neat trimmed trees and more benches were scattered throughout. The pathway, clean and swept, trailed through, winding its way aimlessly. Near the center was a playground, brilliantly colored in reds, yellows and blues with children shrieking, laughing and climbing.
“This is Oakwood Park, Grandpa.”
His face was still blank.
“You used to walk with Grandma here. And when I was born, you used to take me to the playground over there.”
I pointed, but he stared at the birds.
“That’s your house.”
I pointed to a neat row of houses a ways off, but he didn’t look up. Instead he turned to me.
“Where are we?”
The sadness sank into my heart and weighted it down. My Grandpa was lost and couldn’t be found. He was broken and couldn’t be repaired.
Don’t Mess with the Tooth Fairy
by Angie Peng, Grade 8, Hudson Middle School
Prompt: Unfinished business. Take care of some in your narrative.
Oh, great. I’m going to lose my job. That’s just wonderful. I’ve devoted my life to this career, and now I’m going to lose it all. What’s terrible is that this whole fiasco was caused by a tooth.
That’s right, a tooth. Being the real Tooth Fairy isn’t as easy as everyone thinks.
Sure, you may think you know who the Tooth Fairy is, and you might even think you know what she looks like. But all you foolish humans are seeing is the poster girl for our little tooth collecting organization. You have seen the prettiest bimbo with wings and a perfect complexion who probably hasn’t ever collected a front incisor blanketed with the grime of plaque. All she has to do is pose for children’s book illustrations all day. I bet she doesn’t get fired if she fails to collect a putrid piece of someone’s mouth otherwise known as a tooth.
But I will. Get fired, that is.
The CEF (Chief Executive Fairy) has never really liked me, anyway. He only hired me because there was a shortage of male Tooth Fairies (all the other male tooth fairies are really bad with directions). Now he’s going to fire me because one determined seven-year-old brat has decided to hold his left back molar hostage until he can catch a Tooth Fairy.
He wants to bring his catch in for Show and Tell.
If I fail to retrieve the tooth (aka, the package), then it is bye-bye to the tooth-condo in Florida, and hello to the Tooth Motel. I can’t let that happen, I have to save my job! After all, I have some unfinished business with this kid. Ben. His name is Ben. He’s a pudgy body of energy, spoiled to the bone. One golden spike of his evenly raked hair usually managed to stick up in defiance. The other night when my Tooth-tracking GPS System flashed a blinding red light, I quickly flew to the second-story bedroom of a flamboyant brick mansion only to discover a note in place of a tooth.
Dear Miss Tooth Fairy,
I have the tooth. I will give it to you for free. I just want you to come in for Show and Tell with me.
Benjamin Tyler Buchanan III
Miss Tooth Fairy? Why am I always referred to as Miss? Just because I have wings and tights doesn’t make me any less masculine. And I can’t go to Show and Tell with this kid. Then everyone would know about the Tooth Fairy Hoax – how could one Tooth Fairy collect all those teeth? So, now I’ll just have to take care of my unfinished business and steal the tooth.
The night is cloaked with an abyss of darkness as I am guided by the pinholes in the sky that allow heaven to shine through. I flutter through the kid’s slightly open window and begin to dart around the room in search of the tooth. If I were a seven-year old kid determined to catch the Tooth Fairy, where would I hide a tooth? I ponder for a while, then I know.
The candy jar. It glows brightly from the bottom of the glassy container. Salvation! I snatch the tooth with a fervent urgency and fly away into the hazy August night. I smile as I think of how I just took care of my unfinished business.
Never mess with a Tooth Fairy.
The Quiet Girl
by Isabella Marie Z. Rodgers, Grade 8, Granville Middle School
Prompt: Finding out. Use this as the central theme of your story.
She’s a Quiet Girl. She slips silently through the crowded hallways of your school, a shadow in the brightness of your everyday life. You wouldn’t notice her in a crowd, this Quiet Girl, who, once upon a time, had a name to you, and a story. It doesn’t matter.
To be fair, nobody else knows her either, nobody cares that she, too, has a story. You don’t remember that her mother died, nor do you care to find out. You don’t see her enter the restroom, nor care. The Quiet Girl closes the heavy wooden door carefully, knocking once, twice, thrice. You don’t know that she has done this since the funeral, repeatedly, obsessively. Maybe the Quiet Girl thinks if she knocks hard enough, often enough, the demons that torment her in her sleep will be chased away. You don’t care.
However, this is not the only thing the Quiet Girl does obsessively. The Quiet Girl turns on the tap; another sound you’ll never hear. She carefully washes her arms, thin fingertips trailing lightly across the pale, deliberate scars at the crease of her elbow, all the way down to the newer scabs at her wrist. The Quiet Girl does this every day at the same time, not that it is important to you. The Quiet Girl pumps the paper towel dispenser, once, twice, thrice, and silently wipes away any remaining droplets from the alabaster crease of her elbow, the gritty brown paper a sharp contrast to her pale skin and red cuts. The Quiet Girl stares vacantly into the mirror, the sunken, clouded eyes of a lost girl waiting to be found staring back. Nobody knows what color her eyes were, maybe if you paid attention, you would know. It is not important.
The Quiet Girl’s lips part as she breathes a single sentence to the empty bathroom. “Please, someone, find me.” Her plea echoes quietly as she waits for a miraculous response, though you were far from listening. Resigned, she exits the bathroom, knocking once, twice, thrice on the bathroom door before disappearing into a crowd of people, all blind to her. You don’t notice. In fact, you don’t think about the Quiet Girl again until the next day when her body is found hanging from her bedroom ceiling, still lost and forever silent.
It hardly matters. You didn’t know her, anyways.
Power of the Pen