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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: The United Kingdom (01/22/09)

TITLE: Practically a Baby
By Kellie Henningsen


Annie smoothed the blonde hair back from her doll’s face as the wind from her mother’s open window blew around her. Brushing the hair out of her eyes, Annie looked out once again and yet another landmark that she was supposed to care about. Apparently her mother didn’t realize that five year old girls really don’t find sightseeing all that interesting. She much preferred to play with her little doll, Amanda Sue. Amanda Sue had been a gift for her first birthday, and Annie couldn’t remember a day without her. She took great pride in caring for her little doll and being like a mommy to her.

“Look! Annie! Isn’t it amazing! The London Bridge is straight ahead! We’re actually going to drive over the London Bridge!” her mother, Mary, said excitedly.

Annie’s head shot up at this remark. Nothing had peeked her interest to this point, but now every nerve in her body was on edge. Surely she had heard her mother wrong.

“The London Bridge?” asked Annie cautiously. “We’re really going over the London Bridge?”

“Yes, honey! I’m so glad you are finally getting into this. Isn’t it wonderful?” gushed her mother.

Annie suddenly became very silent as she gazed into the face of Amanda Sue and whispered something only the two of them could hear. Her face took on a soft look as she cradled the doll in her arms and began to quietly hum. Her eyes slowly welled up and a tear or two spilled over and trickled down her cheek splashing onto Amanda Sue’s face.

Mary chattered away excitedly all the while not realizing her daughter was no longer interested in what she had to say. Peering into the backseat to see why Annie was so quiet, Mary was shocked to see her daughter’s pale face, wet cheeks, and quivering chin.

“Annie! Whatever is the matter?” questioned Mary. “Are you all right? Do you feel ok?”

Annie couldn’t hold back her emotions any longer. The tears gushed out as she clutched Amanda Sue to her chest. She began to rock back and forth as if she were sitting in a rocking chair while Mary looked on in confusion.

“Ted…pull over up ahead….in that parking spot before the bridge. Yes, I need to find out what is going on with Annie,” instructed Mary.

Once the car was safely pulled out of the traffic, Mary was able to give her full attention to her daughter. “Please, Annie, you have to tell me what’s wrong.”

“The London Bridge,” began Annie. “Is it really…I mean will it…could it...” stammered the little girl. “Is it going to fall down?” she finally blurted out with no further restraint.

Mary sat back stunned. Whatever would make her daughter think the London Bridge would fall down. As these thoughts passed through her head, the familiar nursery rhyme sprang into her mind. Of course, “London Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down” would make any believing child fear crossing the bridge.

In a calm and patient voice, Mary began to explain the origin of the poem. “This bridge is not going to fall down, honey! This is a new bridge really. It was built in 1972 which makes it only as old as Mommy and that’s not very old at all in bridge years!”

“Why do they sing about it falling down then, Mommy?” asked Annie as she began to relax a bit.

“The London Bridge has a very long history which basically means a bridge has been in this spot since way, way back in time! However, there have been many bridges here. After a bridge has been around a few hundred years, it begins to show signs that it needs to be replaced and that is what happened. This is bridge number four, I believe, and like I said, this one is practically a baby it’s so new! So don’t worry honey, it’s not going to fall down at all!”

Annie leaned back in her seat and breathed a sigh of relief. As her dad began to ease out into traffic, Annie looked down at Amanda Sue, wiped off the tears that had fallen onto her, and gave her a reassuring smile. Leaning forward in the seat, she put Amanda Sue up to the window so that they could both take in the view from the very strong, very resilient, and very young London Bridge.

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This article has been read 586 times
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Sara Harricharan 01/29/09
Awww! What a sweet story! The title hinted at something completely different, but this was a charming read. I loved these darling characters, especially the doll, Amanda Sue. ^_^
Verna Mull 01/30/09
This was really neat. I don't hate the challenge for"United Kingdom" as much as I did before! Not knowing anything about it, this was a lovely story.
Karlene Jacobsen02/01/09
I was thinking something different when I read the title, but the surprise was good.

I can imagine a little child thinking those things and being afraid to go on that bridge.

Nice job.
Eliza Evans 02/04/09
Creative idea for the topic.

I tend to lean towards 'simplicity is best" so I think the last line would read and feel better like this...
_ Leaning forward in the seat, she put Amanda Sue up to the window so they could both see._

Just a thought. :)

Keep writing! :)
Verna Cole Mitchell 02/04/09
I enjoyed your story--could see and understand what was happening with your little girl and liked the patience of her mother.
Dee Yoder 02/04/09
Kids have such literal meanings for things! You never know how they will interpret song words. Sweet story.
Sheri Gordon02/04/09
This is very well written. As soon as Annie showed concern, I knew what was coming--but it was fun to see it unfold. Your dialogue is very good. I don't think you'll be in Beginners for long.
Diana Dart 02/04/09
Fantastic - the title was perfect! Great blend of interesting tidbits with real, squishy characters that I cared about. Wonderful, awesome job.