by Norah Krumholz
Third Place – Level A (3rd – 4th grade)
Annie sighed. The day at school had been a long one. Her teacher, Miss Adams, was very strict, and thus, she never failed to teach a lesson. Now Annie was walking home from school. Well, running, to escape the rain that was soon to come. She was five miles from home when she encountered a longhaired, Indian girl. Her dress fell to her knees, and it looked as though it was made of leather. Beads hung brightly from her dress. Her two long braids fell to her waist and she wore beaded leather moccasins.
Annie couldn’t resist the temptation to meet this girl, but the girl turned to run.
“Come back here!” Annie cried, but the girl kept running.
Annie chased the girl, but this girl ran like the wind. Soon Annie had to stop and catch her breath. She sat on a rock, defeated. The only sound in the forest was her heart beating. Then, out of nowhere, the girl appeared. Getting a closer look at her, Annie realized that the girl was not much older than herself. The girl began to move toward her.
“Hello?” said Annie, quivering, as the girl began to rub her fingers through Annie’s unbraided hair. Annie tried again. “Do you speak English?”
“Yes,” the Indian girl responded. “What is your name?”
“I’m Annie. What’s your name, and where do you live?”
The girl frowned. “My name is Singing River, and I live in these woods.”
Annie frowned back. “But where’s your family?”
“They do not live here. I left home to explore. I’m actually Cherokee.”
That night, Annie went to bed early. But a sound in the night woke her. Annie raced outside, not stopping to put her dress on. There she found Singing River.
“Singing River, what are you doing here?”
“Do you have a place for me to stay? It’s very cold in the woods at night, and I was just hoping I could stay with you.”
“There’s one place I could put you, but you’d have to stay hidden. Promise?”
Singing River promised.
Annie took her to the barn loft. “You can sleep here.”
The plan went well. In fact, Singing River stayed in the barn for months. After breakfast and dinner, Annie snuck table scraps for Singing River and at lunch, she’d go hunting for nuts and berries.
One day, Annie’s parents went into town. It was a bright spring day, so Singing River and Annie decided to spend the day by the creek. Singing River pointed out the different birds and showed Annie how to make a whistle out of a stick.
“I’ve been thinking maybe I should tell my parents about you living in the hayloft. What do you think I should do?”
Singing River paused. “I think you should do whatever you feel is right. It’s not right for you to keep me there if you feel guilty about keeping it a secret.”
“I just don’t know,” Annie said, tossing her head back in frustration. “You’ve been such a good friend, and I just can’t bear to think what might happen if my parents found out. They’re wonderful people, but they might not be happy to know that I’ve been hiding you in the hayloft without telling them.”
Singing River smiled. “You’ve been a good friend to me by letting me stay here. Now it’s my turn to be a good friend by taking this burden away from you. And after all, I would like to meet your parents anyway.”
Annie was relieved to know that her parents could finally meet Singing River. About ten minutes after their talk, the wagon pulled up to the house. The two girls began to slowly walk up the hill, but Annie broke into a run when she saw her parents pile out of their old battered wagon. Singing River stopped in her tracks.
“Mama, Papa!” cried Annie.
The three of them embraced. Annie felt a lump in her throat. She had to tell them.
“Mama, Papa,” Annie began. “There’s someone I want you to meet. This is Singing River.”
Singing River walked shyly over to them.
“Hello,” she said. “A few months ago, I met Annie. It was winter then and I was cold living outside. So I asked Annie for help and she let me stay in the hayloft of your barn. She gave me food and friendship, and for that, I must thank her.”
“That was very kind of you, Annie,” said her mother. “We’re proud of you for helping someone in need.”
Annie realized, that telling her parents was the right choice.
Norah dreams of being an author someday. Her favorite hobbies include reading, singing and playing with her chickens.