Writing contest winner

July 23rd, 2009

Here is the winning entry in our Mark Overmeyer writing contest. It’s from Amanda Villagomez, a middle school teacher from Oregon. Mark picked her entry for it’s “clear sense of location” and for introducing an extra character that complicated the situation.

Don’t forget that our Poetry Friday contest is still going on. Write a poem about your teaching life and send it to zmcmullin@stenhouse.com.

Here is Amanda’s winning entry:

The metal screeched. I spun around and shot my hand out to catch it, but I was too late. The door crashed shut. Locked.

The bathroom was just two steps away, and I could barely wait. Ni modo. I didn’t have a choice. I flew up the two steps into the sunlight of the patio and peeked into the window to see Pablito still swaddled up in his blanket in the center of the bed. Approaching dangerously near him was Caro, my 3-year-old hermanita.

Maybe Javi was right. I should have stayed home, rather than spending my vacation in Mexico. I sighed as I slid the glass open,

“Caro, Caro, don’t you want to keep coloring?” I whispered, pressing my face up against the horizontal bars on the outside of the window frame.


My eyes darted across the room. There had to be some way back in.

I glimpsed the key hanging on the hook on the wall. Luckily, Caro was still at a semi-safe distance. I reached for the broom.

The bed creaked. I riveted my attention back to the window, almost dropping the broom. Caro sidled up beside Pablito. My heart thudded as I imagined having to explain if he fell on the hard tile floor.

I had to make my move quickly. The broom handle sloppily clanked through the window frame, captivating Caro’s attention.

“What are you doing, sis?”

“Just playing a little game called capture the key.”

“Can I play? Can I play?”

“Watch so you can see how it works,” I said, relieved to distract her.

I steadied the broom handle and carefully slipped it under the keys. I could feel the triumph building up. I almost had it, and Pablito was safe from Caro – for now.

The key ring was just barely on the end of the handle. I began to tilt the handle back ever so gently.

I stumbled backward as the end of the broom jammed into my bulging bladder. Startled, I saw Caro jumping up and down, keys in hand.

“Gané, gané. I captured the key.”

Ay ay ay. Think. Think. Think. Even with a throbbing headache, I just had to outsmart her.

“Oye. What do you want for a prize?”

“A mango. A mango.”

“You got it. Just hand over the keys and I will get you the best mango.”

She looked at me hesitantly and jangled the keys in her hand.

“With chile on top. I’ll sprinkle a little bit, just the way you like it.”

Jumping with glee, she passed the key through the window.

I thought my legs would collapse from relief. I sprinted back down the concrete and unlocked the tricky door in record time, ready to distract Caro with her prize while I went to the bathroom. Why hadn’t I thought of that from the start?

Mango juice was dripping down Caro’s hands and chin as Mami and Papi walked through the door, oblivious to the disaster waiting to happen just moments before.

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