Each year, Bolles Middle School Bartram Campus Teacher-Librarian Jaime Sanborn stages a creative writing contest. Students may submit their works on the theme of thankfulness and the winner receives a hardback book of their choice. The 2019 winner is eighth-grader Alex Cesaretti '24. His piece is titled, “Maple Tree,” and it is printed in its entirety below. Congratulations, Alex!
By Alex Cesaretti
The vibrant hues of the changing leaves hovered over the two children on the forest path. It seemed as if it would be a bleak Fall break for Jack and Charlotte; they had begun to have the fleeting illusion that school would be an enjoyable occupation for their days. They spent the majority of their time wandering along the winding paths just beyond their house. Their parents had informed them that they would be leaving and that their Grandparents would be taking care of them for the remainder of the break. To kids like Jack and Charlotte, this meant they would have an unimaginable amount of freedom. Their parents were scheduled to leave the following day, so the two were trying to pass the time fantasizing of all the things they would be able to do for the next week.
“Char!” Jack exclaimed, “We could finally go into town and use all of our chore money for once,”
“Yeah, I guess you could, but it doesn’t work if you don’t actually do chores, Jack,” Charlotte responded.
“Aww, come on, you could spare some for me, Char?” Jack implored.
“Ugh, Jack, what about all of those times when you would say. Well, it doesn’t really matter since we’ll never get to go into town,” Charlotte replied.
“Really, Char, you know I was just kidding, right?” Jack pleaded.
“Sure, Jack, but it’s getting dark, let’s head home,” Charlotte concluded. They both sat up from their silhouette in the leaves and jogged home as the sky was increasingly dimming, and the moon was awakening.
It was a sunny and bright morning while the birds were commencing their daily quarrels that we know as songs. And the waft of a sweet waffle scent floated around the house until it stopped on Jack’s door. Jack awoke with a start. To him, today was a reckoning that he would have the ability to do whatever we wished for a week. He jumped out of bed and went to prepare himself for the day. As he was brushing his teeth, the sweet aroma of the junction in the kitchen swept into his room and bathroom. He dashed out of his room and nearly fell down the steps.
“Grandpa!” Jack said.
“Good morning, my boy,” Grandpa replied, “You must have grown a foot since the last time I saw you.”
“Hah, not yet Grandpa” Jack beamed, he eyed the feast that Grandpa had prepared, a vast layout from waffles to bacon.
“Char!” Grandpa called, “Come on down!”
“Is Grandma coming?” Jack asked.
“Sorry, bud, not this time, she’s a very busy woman, you know,” Grandpa answered.
Jack, already absorbed in eating, did not think much of this. This was the usual answer whenever he asked. Charlotte tumbled down the stairs and raced into the kitchen, nearly sliding, “Morning Grandpa! We’re about to head into town, is that alright?” Charlotte explained.
“As long as you don’t get in any trouble and stay safe, it's fine with me,” Grandpa said.
The two stepped out on the front lawn and broke the untouched dew that rested upon the grass and headed off into the direction of town.
“Not even a thank you,” Grandpa thought, gazing at his favorite maple tree.
After a ten-or-so minute jog to town, Jack spotted the local shopkeeper. “Hey, Mister Burlington, good morning! Jack chirped.
“Well you seem chipper this morning Jack, how are your parents?” Mr. Burlington responded.
“They’re doing well; it’s just Char and me today. Well, it was nice seeing you, we’re going to go for a walk now. Bye!” Jack replied in a hurry.
Jack and Charlotte began to wander around the worn cobblestone streets of the old town; the cracks between the stones were riddled with puddles and were deceivingly deep. The two halted at the marketplace, and they opened the front doors to an entire world of snacks and treats. They ran down the aisles in awe of all they had access to. Jack couldn’t help thinking that, if he took something, they wouldn’t really notice or care because of such a bountiful stock. They chose what they pleased, bought their items, and headed back home.
As they arrived at the house, they noticed that Grandpa’s favorite maple tree had begun to wilt. “Well, that’s been there since as long as I can remember; maybe it’s just time,” Jack speculated. They entered the house and unloaded their groceries for the Thanksgiving feast. As this happened, Grandpa awoke from his nap.
“I see you’re back already; did you get all of the ingredients for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow?” Grandpa questioned.
“Of course, Grandpa,” Jack responded.
“Now you both better head off to bed, your Grandma will be arriving tomorrow, and you’ll have to be up bright and early to begin cooking,” Grandpa said.
After stocking the shelves in the pantry, Jack and Charlotte began to make their way to bed.
The morning of Thanksgiving Day was filled by the soothing sound of rain and the gloomy outlook of what seemed to be an endless cloud. Jack awoke slowly and groggily. He crept out of bed to no pleasing aroma nor a sun-filled room. “Huh, that’s weird; Grandpa should have begun his cooking by now,” Jack wondered. He made his way downstairs to find Grandpa napping very placidly on the same armchair he had been on the night before.
Jack went up to Grandpa and gave him a shake; there was no response. He shook him again and was answered by no movement whatsoever. “Grandpa?” Jack questioned; he shook him one last time… nothing. His body seemed very wan and cold, and this was when Jack came to a horrifying realization. “No. No, this can’t be happening” Jack pleaded, he ran outside in a cold sweat to greet the humid air, and he noticed Grandpa’s favorite maple tree. It was down to its last few leaves. At this moment, Charlotte came downstairs asking groggily, “What’s all the racket?” Jack just gave her a disheartened look. She glanced at Grandpa and back at him and began to weep.
The sun had come up a few hours later, and Grandpa’s favorite maple tree had become completely bare and stripped of all of its leaves. Jack and Charlotte were expecting Grandma’s company within the next hour or so. As Jack was lying down in his bed being tormented by the thought that he was never able to say thank you one last time, he had a revelation. Thanksgiving had never really been about the feast or meal; it’s about spending time with those who have a special place in our hearts and being grateful for all they’ve have done.
Jack ran downstairs and grabbed Charlotte off the couch, “Come on, we’ve got to go to the store,” Jack said. They ran down the path and through the streets until they reached the marketplace. They headed inside, and Jack found his way to the plant aisle. He spotted what he was looking for, quickly bought it, and headed back home with Charlotte. When they finally approached the house, Charlotte asked, winded, “What did you get?” Without an answer, Jack found a clearing beside the now-wilted maple tree and planted a small maple tree sprout. “Thank you,” Jack breathed.