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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Bookends (01/30/14)

TITLE: Annabelle’s Books
By Robin Ocasio


Annabelle looked in the mirror and surveyed her appearance. She saw bright blue eyes, short brown hair and a smile as big as the sky. That’s what mum and dad always said. “I look good.” She wore her Sunday best, even though it wasn’t Sunday. Stretching forward, she picked up the bottle of pretty smells. It took both hands and quite a few minutes for her stubbly little fingers to manipulate the sprayer thing, but she finally succeeded in squirting some onto her neck. She wondered if maybe she should do it again, but finally decided no, since mum always says, “less is more”. She wasn’t sure what that meant exactly.

Sitting on the edge of the bed, she stuffed her feet into her “special” shoes, and then latched the clasps on her braces. First one leg and then the other, the process was difficult, and it made her tired, but she was determined to do a good job all on her own. The hard plastic was padded, but they still hurt her. She looked forward to taking them off, but for now she would wear them. They would help her stand and walk across the stage.

Annabelle longed for the day when she would no longer need braces, but knew that was unlikely. The people who dressed in white coats said that. Each time Annabelle visited them, they would poke and prod her, look at black and white pictures, and say, “stand tall, bend over, walk across the room, now come back” Afterwards they would look at her, but speak to Mum and Dad. Using big words, saying things like - base line normal, developmentally disabled and degenerative bone disease. Mom and Dad looked sad, but tried to put on a happy face anyway. So she did too. That’s why her smile was always so big. Big as the sky.

People talked over her head, like she wasn’t in the room. That is, the ones who did not stare or look away. Then, Mrs. Ma -gill-i-cu-tty - her name is difficult to say - came to tea. She had sat on the princess chairs, and looked right at Annabelle. The two talked and talked. Annabelle had such a good time, Mum invited more people to tea.

Then Hoity-toity, Alma Perkins came. Mum said not to call her that, but dad did. Alma was looking at Annabelle, when she said something that made Mum real mad. Sometimes, when everything was quiet, she would close her eyes, scrunch her face and concentrate with all her might, but no matter how much she tried, Annabelle didn’t know why children should be put away in a home or why Alma was pointing at her. “I am home. I’m not a child. I am 39 years old. That’s how many candles I blew out last. I counted them, twice. I got 39 new books, and a new set of bookends to help them stand up tall. I love books. The pictures are my favorite part. Words are nice too.”

Mum answered something about Alma’s gigantic nose, which caused Alma to choke on her tea. She spit her teeth out. “How is that possible?” They landed in her teacup. Seeing the mess, Annabelle used her napkin to clean it, but accidentally bumped the cup, sending everything to the floor. Mum then called Dad to move the couch so Alma could find her teeth. Alma left, slamming the door really hard. It had hurt Annabelle’s ears and made her jump.

Dad started calling Mum his little firecracker. Annabelle knew it was because Mum started campaigning to educate folks about diversity and equality. Tonight they would be guest speakers at a Diversity Banquette.

The words had sounded strange, so Annabelle asked, “What’s diversity? What’s equality?” That had made Dad and Mum talk and talk. “But not in baby talk. She didn’t like baby talk.” Annabelle thought she understood. She smiled. She knew just what she would say. With that happy thought, she thumped down the stairs, practicing her speech all the way.

“Diversity and equal rights are just like my new books and bookends. Life and death, diversity and equal rights are the bookends. We are the books. We are all normal. We are all different. We all belong. We are the same. We need the bookends in order to stand tall. God made both the books and the bookends. Without God the bookends are empty. Without God the books will fall.”

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This article has been read 146 times
Member Comments
Member Date
C D Swanson 02/06/14
Fantastic story with a superbly profound message. It was well written and well told. It had so many layers to think about.

It had somber moments, and funny moments (Alma losing her teeth in her tea and then on the floor made me smile) and it had a universal appeal and message that was defined in the last paragraph that said it all.

Nicely done.

God bless~
Toni Hammer02/06/14
A very sweet story well told.
Larry Whittington02/08/14
Very thoughtful writing.

There seemed to be a close understanding of the condition of the main character.

The two visiting characters showed the wide range of reactions to the condition displayed by the main character.

Good lesson for each of us. Do we want to be the kind that lose our teeth?
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 02/13/14
Congratulations on ranking 8th in level one! The highest rankings can be found on the message boards.