Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Yellow (11/12/09)
TITLE: Charlie, Don't Quit
By Diana Smith
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His mom would call for Charlie and all of his brothers and sisters.
“Come now little cubs. We must hunt for our breakfast.”
All of the cheetah cubs would follow her out into the tall grass. Charlie liked the way the grass tickled his nose. It was fun to creep quietly, listening and watching for their prey.
But Charlie did not like what came next.
“Shhh, little cubs.” His mom would stretch out very low to the ground. All of the cubs would do the same, each little nose touching the paws of the cub in front.
Mom would stay still until just the right moment. The cubs worked hard not to move, even though the grass tickled and bugs flew closely past.
Then Charlie’s mom would break loose. Her long legs carried her like the wind. A yellow and black bullet followed by a tight pack of little bodies streaking across the plains.
Even if he started at the front of the pack, Charlie always finished last. He was sure that he was the slowest cheetah in the whole world.
By the time he caught up, his entire family was happily eating. Some of his brothers and sisters would tease him.
“You’re no cheetah Charlie. I think you must be a big, spotted hare with a long tail.”
”No, he’s not. Even hares run faster than he does.”
Charlie’s mother would scold them but they would still giggle and taunt quietly. Loud or quiet, it still hurt.
At home Charlie found a puddle and stared at his reflection. He looked like a cheetah; his yellow fur had round, black spots. He had a sleek body that was growing longer and taller every day. On his head were short, spiky ears and his paws and claws seemed to work well.
Why could he not run like the other cheetahs? And what good was a slow cheetah?
One day, before his mom called the cubs out to hunt, she brought Charlie alone into the grass.
“Charlie, is there something bothering you?”
He looked at his mom, the black streaks on her face shining like tears.
“Why am I different than the others?” he asked. “Why am I slow?”
Charlie’s mom looked thoughtful. “All of my cubs are a little different Charlie. But you are a cheetah, just like the others. Your fur is yellow, your spots are black.”
Charlie’s head fell down and his shoulders slumped. “But I am always last.”
“God made you who you are, little one. And He made you a cheetah.” Her voice was quiet with a soft purr rising as she spoke. “Try as hard and run as fast as you can, for that is what a cheetah does. But do not concentrate on those who are ahead of you, do not let them discourage you. It is not important how fast you catch the prey or how fast you eat your breakfast, but that you keep hunting.”
“Will I always be last?”
“I don’t know Charlie. But you must never stop running.”
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