by Emily Richey, Age 15, US
Artwork by Lucy Zhang
This was one of the top two short stories submitted for the Richmond 2014 Junior Authors Writers Conference fiction contest. The challenge was to write a short story of no more than 500 words that takes place during the lunch break at a fictional junior authors writers conference. The winners had their stories read out during the lunch break at the conference and they each won an LTC Insider Plus+ Membership.
When my cousin Jack and Adrian, my undercover FBI agent boyfriend, dropped me off at the Sandman this morning, they gave me the usual Overprotective Guy speech. Jack handed me a very illegal-looking Taser, and Adrian took his boyfriend status to a whole other level. I’m not allowed to even look at the guys here.
It’s nice that they care so much about me, but seriously. This is overkill.
“You’re not allowed to be here,” I hiss at Jack. He’s wearing a white shirt emblazoned with the Olive Garden symbol and pushing a cart of food boxes.
“Pardon?” he says, eyebrows arched innocently. “I’m from the caterer’s…did I get the wrong conference room?”
The girl next to me peers over at us. “Nikki, I thought you said you’re from New Jersey. How do you know the caterer?”
I laugh nervously. “I don’t.”
Jack hands me a silverware package. Oh darn, it’s plastic. I tear open the package anyway, and as soon as Jack reaches over to set out the salad bowls, I stab him.
He jumps back, surprised, and grins as he rubs the spot on his arm where there are now four red dashes. I grab him by the end of his black tie and yank him down to my level. “What are you doing? I told you not to ruin this for me.”
“Don’t blame me,” he whispers harshly. “I wanted to tour the city, but no. We had to come and protect you.”
“Protect me from what?”
“Who the heck even knows?” He leaves, and I bury my face in my napkin. It had been going so well. For a few brief hours, I’d been normal.
I scan the room for Adrian’s pumpkin-coloured hair and green eyes. A few of the guys here have his laid-back walk and easy grin, but none of them are him.
“Your pasta, ma’am.”
My eyes close. Why? Why do these things always happen to me? I look up. He’s wearing a frizzy grey wig, padding, and a bushy moustache. If his eyes weren’t so twinkly and smiling, I might not have ever known it was him.
“Please don’t stab me,” he mutters.
“Give me one reason why I shouldn’t.”
“You love me for trying to protect you?”
“Why—is the chicken raw? Are you saving me from food poisoning?”
“This place is full of weird writers,” he says. “You never know what could happen.”
“Thanks. Now I’m frail and weird. Adrian. You better not have done anything.”
“Like rig the contest. If I win, you’re going to be in huge trouble.”
He winces. “Uh…I’ll be right back.”
I watch as he and Jack talk quietly in the corner. They slowly sneak out of the room when no one else is looking, but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they’ll be back in a few minutes, dressed in different disguises and just as protective as ever.
Emily Richey is currently a home-schooled, high-schooler from San Antonio, Texas. Though she is an introverted child, she is on the Student Leadership team at her amazing church. Em aspires to write more books than James Patterson one day, but for now she merely reads her future works to her cats and posts on Wattpad. You can visit her online at Icedmocha34.wordpress.com.