Second Prize

Jane Anne started her contest story in her new journal on that Christmas day. She worked on it every day until the story contest was announced at school, two weeks after the New Year. She entered it, and submitted her very first journal story. She didn't win that year, but she did come in third. She was very proud, because she was the only ten year old that got anywhere near winning it. She got an honourable mention, which was what the third prize was. The first and second place were won by a twelve and a thirteen year old.

When she won third place, her English literature teacher presented her with a loose leaf notebook full of lined paper, just for her stories. There was no official prize other than the honourable mention, but her teacher knew that extra paper was hard to come by for Jane Anne, so she had bought the 'third prize' herself.

When Jane Anne got home that day, she ran down the hall to her room and opened her story journal to the back. She added a new entry to her Gratitude List:

Mrs. Amelia Crenshaw - English teacher - for giving me a third prize notebook that she must have bought herself, because it wasn't on the list of prizes on the entry form.

The following year when Jane Anne was in grade six, she won second prize.It was a twenty dollar gift certificate to the local department store. She was ecstatic! Right after school, she missed the school bus on purpose so that she could tell her mom about it after work. Jane Anne couldn't wait until she got home. Her mom was still working for another hour, so she browsed around the store that had given the prize. It was only a couple of blocks from the restaurant where her mom worked.

Most kids  would have been disappointed that they hadn't won first prize, but not Jane Anne. Second prize was plenty good enough for her. It was an actual official contest prize, and she had won it with her very own story! She was beginning to believe that she might have a little wee bit of talent.

When her mom walked out of the employee's entrance at the back, Jane Anne was standing there in the alley with the certificate held out at arm's length. Susan stepped forward and took the certificate to see what it was. There was a big red stamp across it that said second prize. She gave an excited squeal, and hugged Jane Anne tight. Twenty dollars was a lot of money to a woman who worked extremely hard for little more than minimum wage, and her little girl had won it!

They walked to the store together, and when they reached the front entrance, Jane Anne put a hand on her mom's arm to stop her for a minute before they went in.

"Mom, I want you to pick out something you want. Not something you need, you already provide everything that we really need. I want you to get something extra that you want that we haven't been able to afford."

"It's your money Janie, you worked for weeks on that story. You earned it. You should spend it on books or paper, or pens or something."  Susan said quietly, as she choked back threatening tears.

She was so proud of her daughter sometimes, that it actually hurt. Jane Anne hugged her, then pulled her by the hand to the entry doors.

"I'll get a bit of that stuff, but you get first pick!"

As a way of accepting Jane Anne's offer, Susan headed straight for the Health and Beauty department. She picked out a large bottle of a name brand shampoo and conditioner. Then she got a small hair cutting kit with instructions on how to do several attractive styles of haircuts. They went to the stationary department to get some loose leaf paper for the binder her teacher had given her. She bought a package of pens and pencils.

Just before they went to pay, they passed the toy department, where there was a display of medium sized teddy bears on sale for only three dollars! Jane Anne chose a cuddly panda bear, for no other reason than because she had never had a teddy bear or a doll. Her mom thoroughly approved of the choice. The two of them laughed and chatted as they made their selections.

After supper that evening they washed their hair with the new shampoo, then studied the instructions for the hair cutting kit together. They took turns giving each other a nice new shiny hairdo. Susan's hair had been shoulder length, but choppy after an earlier attempt of Jane Anne's to cut her mom's hair. With the instruction booklet, she was able to give her mom an attractive layered short haircut. Susan gave Jane Anne a  long sleek straight hairstyle with bangs. 

It was one of the best days of her childhood, and she would go back to that day time and again in her memory, because it made her so happy.

The End

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