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2nd Prize Winner - Group I - The Friendship

March, 2015
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The Friendship
Douglas was nine years old and liked to play basketball. He used to live in Memphis but now he moved to New York City because his mom wanted to live in an interesting area. Douglas had blue eyes and sleek and messy black hair. He had tanned skin and was very calm but could also be energetic. He had a good sense of humor and was good at communication. Douglas’ parents had divorced when he was six, and after he became a more quiet person. He still visited his father every week or so, and they did fun things like bowling or watching sports, but Douglas and his divorced dad didn’t really talk about his mom. Douglas was in his new room unpacking his things. Suddenly he remembered the goodbyes he’d said to his friends before he left. He was sure that in his heart he would always think of them. Douglas went outside and stared at the city. The city was so bright and tall it was almost impossible to take in. New York City really was a sight that no picture could capture.Douglas looked up and saw an airplane flying past. It was so high it looked like a bird soaring on top of the depths of earth. Douglas thought about his best friend Nick and what he was doing. Douglas continued to stare until his mom called him for dinner.
The next day, Douglas woke up and went to his new school. It was tiny compared to his first school, with classrooms edged together. Douglas went to his class for fourth graders and sat down at an empty seat. The teacher introduced herself and said her name was Mrs. Katie. Douglas saw a boy wearing a green t-shirt and introduced himself. “Hi, I’m Douglas but just call me Doug if you want to.” He said. The boy said, “My name’s Michael and I’m new here. Are you?” Douglas answered, “Yep.” “Cool.” Michael said. They had class and went to recess. Douglas asked Michael if he wanted to hang out together. Michael had agreed and together they went to the basketball fields.
Michael was ten years old was also pretty tall. He had blond hair, green eyes and a watch on his hand. His skin looked like it had never been tanned and was just pure white. He told Douglas that he was usually calm and didn’t like him or his friends getting into fights. Douglas had said, “Good, you’ll be able to stop me if I get into one.” He seemed like he would be a pretty good friend to Douglas. Douglas and Michael were having a one on one match when a big guy came over and spoke in a deep voice. “Get out of here runts.” Michael did as he was told and backed away but Douglas stood his ground. “You’re not the boss of us. Go and find your own hoop.” He said in a calm voice. The big guy said, “Look, I’m going to count to three, and when I reach three, I expect you to be gone. Otherwise, things are going to get ugly.” Douglas said, “I’m warning you, this isn’t over.” “Come on dude.” Michael said and the look on his face told Douglas that he had almost fainted.
After a bit of planning and a lot of nodding, Michael and Douglas headed towards the court. Michael had said he didn’t want to come because he didn’t like arguments, but he would follow Douglas because he didn’t want Douglas to get beaten up by the bully. The bully was playing with his friends. When the bully saw Douglas and Michael, he looked at them with disgust. He was probably a fifth grader with black eyes and brown hair. He was tall and had a shirt saying House of Skulls. He towered over them like mini Godzilla except the fact that he was human, not a monster. He walked over and said, “Well, whom do we have here? I told you, if you come back, things are going to get ugly. Now shoo.” And he continued playing with the other guy, who looked just like him, except taller. He looked at them and muttered, “Little kids. God, they’re annoying.” Douglas felt anger swarm around him like a pack of angry bees. He hated it when older kids said that they were annoying. Even if the kids were only a year older, they would act like they were superior and he was a tiny groveling peasant. He had held in his anger his whole life. Now he couldn’t hold it in anymore. He attacked.
Douglas could remember everything about the fight, and he could hear Michael talking as he headed toward the class. He had remembered that he jumped on the bully, and was about to kick him when Michael dragged him off the back of the bully and calmed him. When he was calm he said, “Thanks for saving me. I was getting overboard.” Michael responded, “It’s okay dude. That’s what friends are for.”
As the school year went on, Douglas and Michael became good friends, but Michael had a great fear. Public speaking.  Their teacher, Mrs. Katie, had asked them to do a play on the human body. There were groups of four and from each group had a person chosen by the teacher to talk to the whole school about a topic while the rest of the students in the group acted it out.  Michael was chosen to talk to the class and he hated it. Every day before class started he would grumble and groan. When class started he would just try his best to practice, but it was no use. Michael always said a word wrong or he would mumble a part. Douglas tried to practice with him by making him say other things to their partners, but it still didn’t help. Then suddenly Douglas got an idea. What if Michael and him practiced public speaking after school at his house? He told Michael the idea and Michael liked the sound of it but asked if he could do it with him after school in the class. Douglas agreed and continued rehearsing with the group.
After school, Douglas and Michael prepared the classroom for practice. They made the chairs face the center of the room where Michael would be standing and made a sign for Michael saying ‘Believe in yourself’. Douglas gave Michael the script and they went to work. Basically, Douglas would sit in one of the chairs when Michael talked, listening for errors. Then they would do the same thing over and over until Michael could get it right. In the end, Michael got it right and the two of them walked to their homes together.
The next day at the performance, Douglas stood backstage with his group and peeked outside the curtains. The stadium was packed with people. Douglas was sure that if they got something wrong, they would never hear the end of it. When Douglas and his group were about to go onstage, he flashed Michael a smile and watched as his nervous frown turned into a happy grin. Douglas mouthed the words ‘remember yesterday’. Michael smiled and followed him onstage.
Douglas was still thinking about the performance the next day. Michael had talked in a perfectly normal voice as if talking about basketball stats. And during the whole talk he didn’t mumble or say a word wrong. When the show was over, everyone was patting Michael on the back and saying how good he was onstage. Then Douglas realized that he was even happier for Michael than for himself, because that’s what true friendship was. Douglas smiled and walked to school, daydreaming about what could happen.
By Daniel Sun
Shanghai American School


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