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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Gossip/Rumors (either or both) (10/28/10)

TITLE: Snow-White Leather Gloves
By Amanda Brogan


The school grounds of Liberty Christian Academy sparkled in the dazzling afternoon sunlight. Blinding light danced off the surface of the snow-laden yard and exploded into the faces of a boisterous band of middle-schoolers who hastily attacked the frozen playground equipment.

Kaley Jefferson stood at the door for a few seconds, sucked in a joyous breath of December air and proceeded to make a dash for the monkey bars. The winter air burned her nostrils and numbed her toes through her cozy fur boots, but she loved it anyway.

Kaley reached the equipment and grabbed for one of the metal bars, but a pink-mittened hand beat her to it. Hannah Harper with her magenta hat and matching coat flashed a triumphant smirk before beginning to swing herself across the bars.

Fire sizzled in Kaley’s stomach and lit a flame on her cheeks, but she quieted it. “Careful.” She called after Hannah. “It may be slippery.”

Hannah stopped midway across the bars and turned her head. “So what? I’m princess of the ice! Plus, I’m an expert climber.”

“Just a warning.” And you certainly are cold. She added in her thoughts.

Kaley nearly giggled when Hannah stumbled at the opposite landing, almost slipping off. But she wouldn’t laugh. That would be mean, and Jesus wouldn’t want her to make fun of anyone.

Even if that anyone was as snobby and conceited as Hannah Harper.

Hannah quickly straightened herself before the other kids could see her blunder and jumped off to another section of the playground.

Gripping the cold bars with her own mittened hand, Kaley swung across and made it easily to the other side. She was about to head for the swing set when she noticed a girl in a snow-white coat sitting alone on one of the Noah’s Ark springy animals. The girl stared down dejectedly at the mane of the plastic lion on which she sat sidesaddle –- not moving an inch.

That’s Galen Cregger.” Hannah’s voice chirped from beside Kaley. “I think that she has warts.”

Kaley turned a reprimanding gaze to Hannah. “Why would you say that, Hannah? Have you ever even talked to Galen?”

Hannah lifted her nose a few inches higher. “No, but I don’t need to, ‘cause I use my brain. She’s worn those leather gloves ever since she started attending this school in the fall, and she never takes them off. Why would anyone need to wear gloves all the time when it’s not even cold out, unless they’re hiding something ... like warts?”

“But you can’t just say that, Hannah. You’re only assuming that’s true. Besides, so what if she does have warts?”

“Well, I know I don’t go near people with warts, ‘cause warts are contagious.”

“Only if you touch them. And who says that just because she likes to wear gloves, she has warts?”

The fuzzy ball on Hannah’s pink hat bobbed as she spoke. “I also heard that she has pet frogs, and frogs give you warts. So that’s two things that mean my theory must be true.”

Hannah’s trademark sneer proclaimed that she had won, but Kaley wouldn’t give her the victory. She began to crunch through the snow towards the spring riders.

“Where are you going?”

“To see Galen.” Kaley turned momentarily. “And it’s toads that give you warts, Hannah.”

Galen didn’t look up as Kaley took a seat on the plastic lioness next to her.

“Hi!” Kaley beamed. “I’m Kaley. Want to play?”

Galen’s brown eyes peeked from under her hood, but she shook her head.

“Oh. How come you’re over here all by yourself?”

The snow-colored coat crinkled as she shrugged.

“I like your gloves.” Kaley pointed to the white leather.

Galen looked at her hands, then slowly lifted her face up to flash Kaley a tiny smile.

Butterflies in Kaley’s stomach fluttered around and warmed her all the way to her toes. “Where did you get them?”

Galen tenderly stroked one of her gloves. “My mother gave them to me. She ... spends a lot of time in the hospital.” The dark-haired girl glanced up hesitatingly. “She h-has cancer.”

The butterflies became wasps that stung Kaley’s heart. She reached out and gently touched Galen’s gloved hand. The girl looked into Kaley’s eyes, tears threatening to form in her own.

“I’m sorry.” Kaley said.

The bell rang and the girls walked in together, side by side. As they were walking to the next class, Galen took off her gloves.

Her hands were wart free.

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Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 11/04/10
This is a great story. I love reading stories for this age group and you did a great job!
Theresa Santy 11/08/10
I enjoyed this. I loved the way you set the scene. I felt the chill of the air, and I sensed a Disney snow princess vibe.

You selection of words, like how the girl 'crunched through the snow' instead of simply walking toward the other girl--pulled me into the scene.

Very sweet story.
Caitlyn Meissner11/08/10
I really enjoyed this story. I could see the girls outside playing, and I like how you used Kaley's stomach to describe her emotions (fire, butterflies, wasps) instead of just telling us about them. Great job!
Cheryl Harrison11/08/10
Kept my attention all the way through. I knew there would be a good explanation for the gloves, but I did not see the "mother in the hospital" coming. Touching. Keep writing.
Sarah Elisabeth 11/08/10
Very well done! You did a great job of capturing the voices of these girls. Transported me back some years!

Congrats on a well written piece :-)
T. F. Chezum11/08/10
Touching and well written story. I like that the gloves were tied to something sentimental. Very well done.
Lollie Hofer11/09/10
This was a beautifully written story. The first paragraph in itself was a thing of beauty. Good characterizations, strong dialogue and an likeable mc makes this an endearing story. Should do well this week.
Rachel Phelps11/09/10
Wonderfully done. I had a couple "eye-stumbles" on some of the dialogue, but overall this was excellent. Your characters are great.
Brenda Rice 11/10/10
I enjoyed reading this very much. The kindness shown by one child to the other was touching. Well written.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 11/10/10
I saw your brick and decided to read your story once again. I'm so glad I did. I think I enjoyed it even more the second time around.

The way you masterfully molded your words into the perfect picture made me sigh with contentment.

You should submit this to Pockets (a Christian children's mag for 8-12 yo, an The Upper Room Co.) It would be perfect for that magazine or several others, but it's so good and the message is concise without being preachy.

Bullying is prevalent in schools today and stories like this geared to that age group could really make a difference in the world!
Kate Oliver Webb 11/10/10
I can't add much to the comments above, except to say I agree that it's a warm, wonderful and touching piece, and I'm glad I got to read it.
Patricia Turner11/10/10
You did a wonderful job of painting this beautiful scene with a great message wrapped up in it too.

I think I would have ended this without the last line. That she took off her gloves would, by itself, make for a stronger ending.
Caitlyn Meissner11/11/10
*jumps and cheers* Yay! Congratulations my Highly Commended friend! :D
Carol Penhorwood 11/11/10
So well written. Your vivid descriptions drew me into the story. I could actually see the scene in my mind's eye. And I agree, this should definitely be published, especially in light of what is happening in our schools today.
Henry Clemmons11/11/10
Congrats. This was outstanding. Great voice. Keep it real. Love your writing!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 11/11/10
Congratulations!! I knew this would do well!
Benjamin Graber11/12/10
Wow, Amanda, what a moving story! Congratulations on getting highly commended!