Below are winning stories by authors from whom we have permission to make public their work. If a story is not posted here, the writer/family asked that it not be shared online.
The prompt for 2019 asked writers to include in their story a chef and a jump rope.
12 Years Old and Younger Category
1st Place - Just a Jump Rope By: Elijah T. Sevensma
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” — Sir Winston Churchill
Half dangling in a sewer grate, was a worn red and white jump rope. It seemed to call out to him. Little did Austin know that
rescuing this jump rope, on a simple sidewalk, in a simple neighborhood, in a simple suburb would give him a decision that would
change his life.
Austin was an ordinary person, with an ordinary job as a chef and his life was about to change. It all happened the day he picked
it up,the worn jump rope. Nothing else was around. No one but Anny Meg, his very sweet neighbor, planting her garden, and a cardboard
box that somehow wasn’t blowing away in the wind. Austin knew it couldn’t belong to her, for she was 12 days away from her 64th
birthday. It hurt his brain to imagine her doing jump rope.
He continued to walk down the street looking for the owner of the jump rope. When Austin passed by the cardboard box, he heard
snoring. He looked in the cardboard box to find a woman curled up sleeping with a young boy in her lap. Austin woke them up asking
them;”I’m sorry, didn’t mean to wake you, but is this your jump rope?” No response came, but the young man looked up a little. Now
Austin could see his face. It was half wrinkled, and was a very deep red. It certainly wasn’t like other faces.
“Is this yours?” asked Austin as he held up the jump rope to the boy. The young boy looked up with a Cheshire grin, saying, “Thank
you. This my only toy. I thought I lost it for good.”
Austin could see that the boy and his mother were very poor. His clothes were ragged and torn, not to mention about 5 sizes too
big. It looked like he had a skirt on. It seemed as if they were living in the cardboard box. Austin started pacing as he thought
about the boy and his mother for a few moments. He asked himself, “How could I leave them in such a place? Should I just walk away? But
if I take them in, how would I pay for myself and them? How could I ever take another day off of work?! Yes, no, yes, no, ugh...
After what seemed to him like an hour, he stops and turns to them asking, “Would you like to come stay in my house? I don’t have
much room, but you can stay with me.” The answer was one of the biggest hugs he ever got in his life from the boy.
Austin thought about the decision that he made.”I’m just a chef!” he told himself.”I have provided for other people all my life,
but not in a way like this. How will I pay?!”
“That was a good thing you did. You made the right choice,” said Anny Meg in that sweet little voice of hers, scaring Austin half
“Goodness me!” said Austin.”Didn’t quite see you there! Now what were you saying?”
“I was just saying that you are a good man to do that.”
Just then the young boy got out and so did his mother. She was short, skinny to the bone, had short hair, and a shirt that went down
to her knees. When she spoke she had a very high voice, so high, that there must’ve been a squeaking mouse in her throat or something.
“Thank you kind sir for letting us stay with you!” she said.
“Yes, come this way, ma’am,” he said.
When they got to Austin’s house, he fed them quickly with some tacos, then made room for them on the couch to sleep, for it was
Next day, Austin took Robert, the young boy, and Demetra, his mother, to the hospital to get a check-up and vaccines.
When they got home, Robert joined into a game of hopscotch and met many of the neighborhood children. After that, the kids did some
jump roping. While Robert was off with the kids, Austin drove Demetra to the recycling plant to get a job, where she received 3 times more
than any job she used to have.
That evening Austin, being the chef that he was, cooked them a brilliant stew of beans, vegetables, and broth. Robert was overjoyed,
for he had never had anything so fresh or delicious. As Robert went to bed, Demetra and Austin sat outside on cheap patio chairs enjoying
the breeze. They talked to one another. They enjoyed the silence. Austin began to feel his loneliness going away. He felt joy and
curiosity about what will come next.
As the days passed, and months flew by like weeks, the time finally came when Robert and Demetra were to leave. Austin thought
and thought about them leaving, but in the end, he asked them to stay. Austin had bonded with them, and he didn’t want to go back to
living alone again. He was glad they stayed, for they had many very happy memories. And the best part is that they would have them
together. He understood now that life comes with many gifts and to thrive you must give.
2nd Place - Asclepius by Nancy Carol McQuaid
”Ok meet and greet over. Now can we get this thing started?” Zeus said.
“Oh, yes!” Asclepius said and he whizzed back to a booth with a microphone in it. “Hello Folks!”
Asclepius's voice said through the microphone. “And welcome to the-”
“WE KNOW THE RULES ALREADY!!!! JUST GET THIS THING STARTED!!!!” Ares
“Ok then! Let's get this show on the road!” Asclepius said. “Also, godly powers are banned.” Asclepius snapped his fingers and everyone's
godly powers were sealed away.
“What!? That’s not fair!” Ares cried.
“Is too fair! Now START!!!”
When everyone finally finished, Asclepius totaled up the scores: “Ok I have totaled up the scores and the winner is... drum roll
A wimpy drum roll came in reply.
“The winner of the magical weight loss ambrosia is......ZEUS! Congratulations Zeus!”
No one was happy though. Zeus always won. So it was no shocker. Asclepius stepped out of the booth. “Zeus congratulations! You won the con-”
“Wait a minute!” Athena said. “You tallied it up wrong! I kept track of the score and Zeus did not win. These are the real scores.” Athena said. She held up a piece of paper. Everybody stared in amazement. Zeus did not win. Artemis won. Everybody cheered and lifted the shocked
Artemis into the air. She looked so happy. Ares screamed in anger. Zeus stared in amazement.
I lost. He thought as everybody else cheered for Artemis.
When she came back down, she said “Can we have our powers back now?”
“Yes.” Asclepius replied. He snapped his fingers. The powers returned to the gods.
“Here is your trophy Artemis, for first place, and your ambrosia.”
“That was weird how I miscounted. I never miscount.” Asclepius thought out loud.
Artemis was about to eat her ambrosia when a familiar voice said: “It’s not strange at all, Asclepius.”
“Hades! What are you doing here? Shouldn't you be in the Underworld or something?” Zeus said. Hades didn’t reply. Instead he snickered and snapped his fingers. An infuriated Demeter appeared next to them and started screaming and yelling. Hades burst out laughing.
“How could you do this?” Apollo yelled over Demeter’s rage fit.
“I thrive on chaos.” Hades said.
“Hades, I will KILL you!” screamed Ares. Hades panicked and ran. Ares chased him.
Demeter then glared at the gods and said: “So you hate my cooking?”
“No no no! We love your cooking! You’re a great chef!” Zeus assured.
“Then WHY are you eating someone else's cooking?” It took a LONG time to explain.
After thirty minutes, Artemis inquired “Great, now I can eat my ambrosia..Wait! This is jello!”
Poseidon looked at his friend in disbelief. “Asclepius, what is the meaning of this?”
“Let me explain.” Asclepius then told the gods that the jump roping made them lose weight, not the ambrosia.
”Oh, that's smart.” Athena said.
The gods thanked Asclepius and flew home. So, the moral of the story is that hard work pays off.
3rd Place - Jump and Change by Parker Winters
“Hello I’m Josh, I am in seventh grade and I’m currently on spring break. My dad’s a famous
chef and my mom’s an archaeologist. “This is the last day of spring break.”
"Josh dinner time!” my dad yelled. I went downstairs. “Have some escargot" he said.
“Isn’t it French?” I asked.
“Yes” he answered.
“Isn’t it snails?” I asked again.
“Eat it!” he said.
It actually tasted pretty good. I stayed up until ten then went to bed.
When I went to school Rufus Ruffcut, the eighth grade jerk, was in the school courtyard. Some girls were jumping rope. And a group of sixth graders were daring each other to eat worms. My best friend, Tom the Geek, was already studying for the finals. I started walking towards Tom. But then I saw
something out the corner of my eye. Rufus was holding pair of scissors. We went to the same elementary school so I know exactly what he’s going to do. I have a photographic memory which is shocking to most people because I always get low C’s. I switched course and started walking toward
Rufus. Tom ran toward me, he also knew what Rufus was thinking and knew what I was going to do. Rufus went up to the group of girls jump roping and snipped the rope in half. I was relieved and stopped walking when he only cut the jump rope. Tom ran into me. I fell face first into the mud that splattered
Rufus. He turned around and picked up the cut rope. I don’t know what he was planning to do but I ran to the school faster than I’ve ever ran before. Tom was out of breath when he caught up to me. “Did he chase me?” I asked. “No but that just means he’s planning revenge.” Tom answered. I took a sharp
breath, I knew he was right.
After school Rufus was waiting at the doors with the cut rope for me to come out. I tried to dart away but he grabbed my book bag. “A little mud won’t harm me,” he said. “But this rope will.” He then stuffed the rope in my book bag then let me go. The next day I forgot about the rope in my book bag
and pulled it out. A teacher was standing nearby; he saw the rope and asked me why I had it. I explained but he gave me O.S.S. [Out of school suspension] for a week. When I got home I got grounded for a month.
When I came back to school everyone hated Rufus even more. Rufus was standing nearby, he was mad at me for telling the teacher even though he didn’t get in trouble. He cut my book bag in half. A teacher saw and expelled him after I told the teacher all the things he’s ever done. I had students to
back up my opinion so it wouldn’t matter, and my dad also backed me up. Rufus got expelled and I would never see him again. Or so I thought.
Four years later I went to visit my dad at the local restaurant since he started teaching people how to cook. I was shocked when the first student I met there was Rufus... Rufus was standing there making some caviar [Fish eggs] in a white apron and weird looking chef hat. We talked a while and he
was actually really nice. He learned how to cook. From then after, I came at least once a week. When I see Rufus we often talk about our favorite food. Cooking only remained a hobby because later I joined the police force and stopped coming to the restaurant. I don’t see Rufus or my dad anymore but I am amazed that the biggest jerk I knew became the nicest guy in the city! Dad then created a Famous Food; became rich, almost burnt down the restaurant [More than once] and retired. Rufus then moved to France and opened his own restaurant. I became police chief, saved some people, saved my dad’s restaurant from burning down [more than once] and then quit my job and started teaching at the Police Academy. I later saw Tom again he was running at the park. I found out that he joined the military then later started teaching social studies in the local high school [Worse subject ever!] and kept the science lab from exploding [More than once]. After that I met the teacher who suspended me and expelled David. I found out he was now teaching as a substitute and worked with Tom. He also said that he was the one that kept the science lab from exploding [More... Than... Once!]. Well now I’m retired and Rufus still sends me some sweet deserts. Tom and my old teacher keep nagging me about my old grades and
dad just keeps burning food.
Honorable Mention - Samantha M.
13 & Older Category
1st Place - How to Change a Ghost Hunter's Mind by Erika Whisnant
I stood in front of the little store and wondered why in the world the owners had called me of all people? Ok, that was a lie; I knew why the owners had called me, as I was the only ghost hunter in the business who disproved haunting instead of verifying them. This made me sought out
after by people wishing to sell. Still, the shop in front of me looked like it could use a ghost hunter less and a person with common sense more.
Once upon a time the building that stood there had been a bakery of some kind, until the chef disappeared in a raging inferno. Latter, an enterprising businessman rebuilt the building, then made it a shop dedicated to jump ropes. A few years, and a lot of money wasted, later, the
business owner had decided to sell the building. Possibly the stories of ghosts haunting the isles, but more likely the fact that a shop selling only jump ropes doesn't get much business.
However, that was beside the point. The point was that I was standing outside a little dilapidated shop that still had most of its stocks, freezing my butt off with the key in one hand, and wondering why I had never gotten an actual job. With a frustrated sigh, I strode forward and
shoved the key into the lock, although why anyone would try to rob a jump rope shop was beyond me. The key turned with a soft click and the door swung open with a sad sigh. For a second I stood in the open doorway, checking my equipment. Flashlight? Check. Thermometer?
Strapped to my belt. EVP recorder? Check. The EMP detector? Check. I was kitted up and ready to go.
Before things get too crazy, I should probably introduce myself. My name is Jeanne Winters. I’m a ghost hunter that specializes in debunking ghosts. Okay, now I’m officially introduced, lets get back to the story.
I finished checking my equipment, sucked in the winter air, and stepped inside the gloomy jump rope store. I let the door swing behind me after checking that I had put the key back in my pocket. I would hate to be locked in, because that would be unbearably embarrassing. For a second the gloom in front of me was impenetrable, the weight of the unused space hung heavy on my shoulder, and a chill ran up my spine. Then I flicked on my
flashlight and the moment was gone.
I moved the beam of my flashlight over the walls, the light dancing over objects. The walls were lined with racks of jump ropes, and the counter stood to one side, a big solid surface. In the windows stood stands with more jump ropes. There were three isles in the middle of the
building, and all of them had jump ropes on them. Perhaps the oddest thing was the giant cardboard jump rope that looked like a snake, had a smiley face on one of the handles, and was in the middle of the floor.
I gave one more scan of the walls, floor, ceiling, isles, and giant cardboard snake thing, then flicked my light off. I blinked a couple of times to accumulate to the dark, then walked over to the counter and set the recorder on it. I flicked it on and checked the temp. There was no temp difference between the inside of the store and the outside of the store. I spoke loudly, “Hello? Mister Ghost? If you’re real please do something. If you’re not, then forget it.”
I let the recorder run as I walked around the store, checking the temp in different places and asking random questions. The temp stayed stable. The recorder I couldn’t check until I got home with all my fancy heavy equipment that was good for cleaning up EVPs. The night passed on in stony silence, and it wasn’t until a few hours later that I tripped and nearly knocked over the jump rope snake. I looked down, flicked on my light, and trained it on what had tripped me. It was, of course, a jump rope. A red one with cupcakes on the handle. “Really?” I asked to the air, while bending down to pick the rope up. I must have knocked it off one of the shelves on one of my earlier passes.
I wandered around the shop till I found the place with all the other food themed jump ropes. I placed it on the shelf, and felt the slightest brush of air against my face. A draft? I hadn’t felt a draft earlier. I looked down at the temp gauge, and noticed the number. Two degrees below what it had been previously. I raised my eyebrows and looked up, ready to investigate the source of the draft. Only to see, standing in front of me, a chef, looking at me like I was the intruder. His mouth was moving.
I passed out from shock and the next thing I remember is waking up with a lump on my head, one of the shelves dangling oddly, and a bunch of jump ropes scattered on the floor. It took me the rest of the night to clean it up. Then I went home and slept, and when I woke up I was about to pass it off as a hallucination until I went back and listened to the EVP recorder. Somehow, I’d found something.
“Can you believe it? I go on and die and instead of fixing my bakery, they have the nerve to rebuild it into shop selling jump ropes! Jump ropes! Who in their right mind would make a shop dedicated to jump ropes? The nerve! I have-”
Well, this goes on for five minutes. Needless to say, my client was not happy, even when I suggested he sell to chef. Also, I now believe in ghosts, which is probably a good thing in my line of work.