by Salma Danuningrat, Age 11, Indonesia
Artwork by Lucy Zhang
The December fiction prompt was “lights.”
It was as if the traffic light hated Walker. After all, his name was Walker; wasn’t he supposed to keep walking? But the stupid traffic light had other plans. And to make matters worse, Rhonda Middleton was standing on the sidewalk beside him.
Walker’s friend David once told everyone that Rhonda Middleton was a ghost. And the rumour lasted for a whole two weeks at Evergreen Middle School.
But David did have a point. Rhonda was the quietest person at school, and people hardly saw her anywhere. Her wavy brown hair plastered her face, she’d bury her head in a book for the rest of class. Some kids said if you made eye contact with her, you would die at 20 years old. And there she was, right next to Walker, staring at the trees across the street.
Despite being scared out of his skin, Walker was feeling excited this afternoon. That day was the last day of the semester, which meant that it was officially winter break. Three weeks of video games, snowball fights, and hot chocolate. And to top that, the world around him was covered with snow: the sidewalks, bushes, and roofs of buildings. It’s what Walker loved about his quiet neighbourhood in winter.
“Those lights, they’re beautiful, aren’t they?” Rhonda said, and Walker jumped. “Two different colours, like blue and yellow, look wonderful on that tree.” Then she pointed towards Stone Lane. Walker started praying that Rhonda the Ghost wouldn’t make eye contact with him. Or vaporize him. Or worse, kill him on the spot.
“It’s––it’s like people, don’t you think?” Rhonda continued. “When two different types of people connect, they create something truly great and inspiring. They’re saying that no matter how different they are, they can still be one. They can fit.” And suddenly, it began to snow.
Walker’s eyes were transfixed on the trees. Both sides of Stone Lane were lined with small pine trees. All sorts of different colour lights were woven through the branches and, like Rhonda said, everything fit.
And as he was staring, he began to realize, that Rhonda was right. Two very different things could become one. Then, like a slap in the face, it hit him. Rhonda was referring to her own life.
Rhonda’s different than all the kids at school, but that doesn’t mean people shouldn’t be nice to her, Walker thought. Maybe if I talk to her, it’ll be better for both of us.
Walker had no idea what he was doing, and the David-influenced part of his mind was screaming for him to stop. But instead, he kept going. He felt dumb, but it felt right to do it. Walker looked straight at Rhonda and said, “Want to look at the trees on Maple Avenue?” She gazed at him, with a look of appreciation and hesitation, but finally nodded.
Rhonda and Walker turned the corner and headed towards the avenue–and they didn’t even have to wait for a traffic light.
Salma writes, “I am 11 years old and I live in Indonesia. I believe that a great writer isn’t the one who wins all the contests, but the one who always picks up the pencil once it’s fallen.”