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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Cousin(s) (05/22/08)

TITLE: Cuzin Princess
By Shirley McClay


Jean gripped the monster carefully, one hand under his butt to make sure he didn’t fall. Her hands didn’t reach all the way around his thick middle. Toads and frogs always made her afraid she might pop them if she wasn’t careful. He was mottled different shades of brown and covered with wart-like lumps. They considered each other carefully… eye to bulgy eye.

Nonchalantly, yet very gently, she kissed him… and squinted at her reflection in his shiny eyeball.

“See. He didn’t change.” She shrugged her slender shoulders at her older cousin.

“Well, that doesn’t mean you aren’t a princess… just means he ain’t the right toad!” Tommy winked at her. “We’ll try again next time I find one.”

Jessie snorted her disgust and flipped her long brown ponytail over her shoulder. “Didja get warts?”

Carl’s eyes widened and he studied Jean’s face with intense interest, searching for cool toad warts.

“Dummy… you don’t get warts from toads.” Tommy glared at his little sister.

Jessie stuck out her tongue. “A toad turning into a prince is dumb.”

The others ignored her. They trekked up to the garden and released the un-princed toad under a watermelon leaf.

Their next stop was the hayloft.

The four of them sat in the hay-hole, dangling their legs over the shoat pen. “I dare you to jump.”

“You first.” Jean wasn’t crazy about Tommy’s idea.

Tommy looked down the hole again. “Let’s throw a bale down first.”

“That’s wasting hay and too hard when you land. What about these broken bales?” Jean didn’t mind kissing toads, but jumping that far made her tummy tickle.

Tommy forked down loose hay… then more... and still more.

“Ok... that’s good.” Jean was able to sit on the edge of the hole, dangle her legs, and just reach the top of the haystack… if she stretched her toes. “Now, who goes first?”

They looked at each other, deliberating.

“Carl, you’re the littlest. You should go first.” Jean gave her four-year-old brother the bossy-sister look.

“Why me?”

“Cause if you can do it, then we know it’s safe for the rest of us!”

Carl looked at Jean skeptically, but couldn’t refute her logic.

He perched on the edge... but wavered. Jean helped him through his hesitation with a strong nudge. Carl landed on the top of the pile and slid down the side, scattering hay, dust, and terrified shoats in his wake.

Since he wasn’t injured, the cousins decided it was safe and spent the next hour jumping on the hay. The shoats squealed and raced in circles every time someone dropped from their ceiling. Eventually the pile was only a couple feet deep and several feet wide and the shoats huddled in the corner, exhausted and traumatized.

The cousins stared at the pile, knowing their fun would reap consequences. To Jean, the best course of action was a new adventure. “Grandpa brought a dead snake.”

Jean was the kind of girl to chase her cousins with critters… so the two younger cousins chose to remain in the hayloft.

Tommy pulled a piece of hay out of Jean’s blond flyaway hair and grinned. “Poisonous?”


They found it in the back of Grandpa’s truck. Tommy held it up. “Taller than even me!”

“I have an idea.” Jean’s eyes sparkled blue like her daddy’s.

An hour later they hid in the bushes while Tommy’s mom unloaded groceries at his home next door. They watched… hearts pounding… as she stepped onto the porch. A scream froze their hearts and set the dog to barking. Between the scream, the crash of groceries, and the frantic dog inside the house, Tom and Jean decided not to make their presence known. They crawled out to peek around the door at the result of their scheme.

Eggs oozed on the cement, a container of cottage cheese was cracked and bleeding white onto a brown shoe, a loaf of bread hung across the back of a porch chair. The pickle jar had smashed into a million pieces and the juice splashed all over Tommy’s mom. She stood statue-like, staring at the snake.

The dead snake was coiled beautifully between the porch door and the house door. Its head rested the coils, the beady eyes seemed to glint with humor even as egg yoke pooled around him.

The cousins crept away.

No one ever suspected the little princess. In fact, her prankster daddy got blamed for the snake episode and no one was ever the wiser. Till now.

Authors note: A Shoat is a newly weaned piglet. And.. ahem... based on a true story... (cough, cough)

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Member Comments
Member Date
Chely Roach05/29/08
I thought this was so cute...I loved the logic of sending the youngest first, LOL! Fantastic dialogue between the kids. Awesome ending. Great job!
Beth LaBuff 05/29/08
Great beginning descriptions of this toad/frog especially "toads and frogs always made her afraid she might pop them if she wasn't careful" and then your "considered each other carefully…eye to bulgy eye." :) Then after your opening paragraph description I had to cringe a bit when she kissed him. :) I loved this, "a container of cottage cheese was cracked and bleeding white". I didn't know anyone still referred to them as "shoats" anymore. GREAT story; excellently written!
LauraLee Shaw06/01/08
VERY creative and darling story, all the way from the title to the ending note. Well done!
Joanne Sher 06/01/08
OH so clever, with wonderful descriptions. I absolutely LOVED this piece - and that note made me laugh, Ms. Princess ;)
Amy Michelle Wiley 06/01/08
Ooo, my sisters and I loved playing with frogs, snakes, and jumping out of Grandma and Grandpa's loft into a pile of hay. Great story--brought back a lot of fun memories.
Cheri Hardaway 06/01/08
Well, done! We all had a Cuzin Princess, didn't we? Brought back many memories from my own childhood... Blessings, Cheri
Laury Hubrich 06/01/08
Ah, loved this story! Excellent writing! So very funny! So, can you tell me? Did your toad ever turn into a prince?
Sharlyn Guthrie06/01/08
This is such a cute story, and very believable. I could especially relate to the part about making Carl jump out of the hayloft first, since I was the youngest cousin, and had similar experiences. Nice job!
Lyn Churchyard06/02/08
From start to finish this story had me grinning like a fool. Dialogue, descriptions and feel all top class. Aren't you lucky you're too big to spank now Missy :-)
Jan Ackerson 06/02/08
One of the best hooks ever! This is a charming and delightful story.
Joshua Janoski06/02/08
I was always afraid of popping toads too when I used to pick them up. LOL. A very fun story that comes straight from the princess herself. Haha. :)
Sara Harricharan 06/02/08
ROFL! Simply delightful! I loved this cute and funny adventures of these cousins! The beginning had me laughing all the way to the end. Great job! ^_^
Verna Cole Mitchell 06/02/08
Absolutley delightful, very believable story. Great job.
Debbie Wistrom06/03/08
Well done and so much fun. Glad I got to read this dose of childhood memories.
Caitlynn Lowe06/04/08
Nice! A very cute story. I could picture all the events in my head as they happened.
Betsy Markman06/06/08
Ah...so now we know. Confession is good for the soul, right?
A fun story and very real characters. Well done.