Fifth grade was a rough time for me already. I had just moved from good ole Claiborne County, Tennessee (hick-town essentially, where there were approximately 7 people of another color besides white) to the very urban (to me) Knoxville. I had trouble making friends in this new environment, but thanks to my favorite teacher things got much less difficult.

Ms. Raymond taught all of my classes, so I was with her all day. This was honestly freakin’ awesome, because we normally had a few class changes but thankfully I never had to switch. Unbeknownst to me at the time, she was a dang MARINE veteran. Uh, which is pretty bada** if you ask me. I never would have guessed though, as I only knew her to be a great teacher.

She was a crucial part of my school life, because she actually got me into reading for fun. I will never forget there was this one book in her class I really liked. It was the kid with glasses from Step by Step and he wrote a book that basically revealed behind the scenes stuff about acting. I just thought it was so cool.

One day, Ms. Raymond tells us there’s an awesome new contest coming up. Whoever writes the best short novel/story wins this big prize (I can’t remember what the prize was, but even being recognized as a superior kid-writer was enough for me). I was so ecstatic. When I got home, I started brainstorming ideas right away.

For some reason, I decided to do a rip-off story of the movies Freaky Friday and 13 Going on 30. I even named it, “14 Going On 35” (Hey, I never said I was that creative, okay??) as my little novel title. We were all given this specific type of paper to write our story on, so we had to be very careful not to lose it. I worked SO hard on this story, making really awful illustrations on some of the pages and trying to make it really suspenseful and dramatic. The pictures were hideous, as I was never a great artist either.

The day came to turn in the novel. I got up to get ready for school and I rushed to find all of the pages of my story. But as I shuffled them all together, I noticed one page was missing. I started crying, because I wanted to win so bad. I had worked so hard on this story, and now nobody would even finish it because it was incomplete. I looked EVERYWHERE. Then my mom yelled upstairs that it was time to go, so I wiped my tears off and tried to hide it before she knew anything was wrong and carried my sulking self out to the car.

We got to school, I turned the stupid story in anyway, and forgot about it.

A couple days later when I was cleaning my room, I looked under the futon I had in my room. There it was, page three of 14 Going On 35.

I cried for an hour straight.

A couple weeks went by and the morning announcements came on to announce the winner of the contest. It was freakin’ Turner Msarsa, and his story about raining chocolate chips. I sat there glaring at him in jealousy thinking, Wow, why didn’t I think of that?

Stupid raining chocolate chips. What an unrealistic story. (rolls eyes)