My own fascinating granddaughter has been published in this book on page 83. Here is her poem and some other great excerpts:
by Victoria Hutchinson
Victoria Hutchinson is fifteen years old and enjoys writing, drawing, and reading. Her hobby is doll-making. She lives in Cumming, Georgia with her parents. Her brother is a Marine in California. PS Her grandmother, Kathy Stemke, is a children's book author.
by Lucia Kemeng Chen
Simon Darnell was six years old when he met his first Scotsman and fought his first fight. Kennan Maclachlan was of the same age when he met his first Englishman and fought… well, suffice to say, it was far from his first fight.
It started during the Border Festival, one of the few peaceful days in an age of war and unrest. The Scottish and English would stomach the sight of each other for three entire weeks while enjoying grand feasts and competitions. But the animosity never faded.
So when the wiry English boy toppled the makeshift fortress of twigs and stones Kennan had spent the past hour constructing, the latter decided to retaliate.
Naturally, Kennan, having the greater strength and experience, swiftly overpowered the small and skinny Simon. But Simon was as stubborn as he was proud, and it wasn’t long before Kennan was down in the dirt, spewing out lumps of mud.
That was when the fight truly began. Punches and kicks were heavily meted out as the two boys brawled. A solid punch to Simon’s jaw finally brought him crumpling to the ground. Simon squeezed his eyes shut, waiting for the next blow. A moment passed. Then two.
When he finally deemed it safe to crack open an eyelid, Simon was astonished to see an outstretched hand. His opponent had a smile on his face and a trace of laughter in his greenish-gold eyes.
“Come on, take my hand,” the Scot said. When Simon didn’t budge, he added, “Yer not afraid are yeh, English?”
“’Course not!” Simon cried out indignantly. “You should be the one that’s afraid, cos I can make your left eye just as purple as your right!”
The Scot laughed. “Yer not bad for an English.” He pulled Simon to his feet. “I’m Kennan, future laird of the Maclachlan clan,” he announced pompously.
Simon shook his outstretched hand. “And I’m Simon, future… uh… future soldier,” he concluded. “I’m going to fight in King John’s army.”
“Ha! Papa says he can take down King John with one hand tied behind his back!”
“I bet I can take you down with both hands tied behind my back!”
“Want to try?” Kennan threatened, the fire returning to his eyes. Simon was already lunging for his throat. Within seconds, the boys were again rolling on the ground.
“Peace! Peace!” Kennan finally called out.
“Too scared, Scot?” Simon taunted.
“No, it’s just that Mother’s making mincemeat pie, and I want to get to the cottage before Alec eats it all.” Kennan was halfway down the hill before he turned back. “D’yeh want to come for supper?”
“No way! I – ” Simon began before his stomach let out a loud growl. He looked up at a smirking Kennan. “Well, I s’pose I can bear with you a little while longer if I’m getting mincemeat pie.”
And so a friendship began.
Papa says we kinnah be friends no more. He says I kinnah talk to you ‘less you start speaking Gaelic and wearing plaid. Seeing as yer English, I dinnah think that’s happening very soon.
Should our armies ever clash, know one thing: I will not raise my sword against you.
Sir Simon Darnell of King John’s Army
“We’ve caught another one, Laird Kennan.”
“Aye, Cormag,” Kennan Maclachlan said as he accepted the warrior’s sword and strode down the hill. “Those Englishmen have been coming in droves lately. Blasted nuisances.”
“Gavyn wanted to do the beheadin’, but I thought you might want to, being laird an’ all,” Cormag remarked.
Kennan groaned. In truth, he hated beheading – English or otherwise. But what Cormag said was true; he was laird, and the clan always came first.
Cormag led him to where Gavyn waited with the bound soldier. Kennan tightened his hold on the sword and inhaled sharply, dreading the duty before him.
That was when the Englishman turned to face him.
Kennan dropped the sword, his lips inadvertently tugging upward. “Simon.”
“Thank God, Kennan! Thought I was going to be beheaded back there.” Simon’s relief was starkly evident.
“Keep yer mouth shut, English. Yer pollutin’ the Highland air,” Gavyn growled.
“An’ don’t yeh be speakin’ to the laird like that,” Cormag spat.
Kennan frowned. “Gavyn, Cormag –”
“For heaven’s sakes Laird, if yer not going to behead him soon, I’d be happy to do the duty,” Gavyn interjected.
“That won’t be necessary,” Kennan said, staring at the sword on the ground. The clan. The clan always came first. Hands shaking, he bent to retrieve the sword. Then, eyes trained on the ground, he strode toward Simon.
But before he swung, Kennan made the mistake of looking into his old friend’s eyes, and the mix of sadness and resignation he saw there made him pause mid-swing.
“The clan comes first, Kennan,” Simon whispered.
“Aye, it does,” Kennan murmured. He slashed his sword through the ropes binding Simon’s wrists and ankles. “And I’m going to do the Maclachlan clan a great service today by sparing them from the sight of blood.”
“What in God’s name are yeh doin’?” Cormag bellowed. “He’s an Englishman!”
“Yer commitin’ an act of betrayal!” Gavyn’s voice was vehement.
“No, I’m committing an act of friendship,” Kennan announced in a steely tone that silenced his men.
“Take my hand,” he said to Simon. “Unless yer afraid?”
Simon chuckled as he accepted Kennan’s proffered hand. “You should be the one that’s afraid, cos I can make your left eye just as purple as your right.”
“Want to try?”
“I think I’ll settle for some mincemeat pie. I have yet to find someone who makes it better than your mama.”
“Laird?” Cormag ventured, an uneasy expression on his face.
“Aye, Cormag. Tell Cook to set an extra place at the table. We have a special guest tonight.”
Cormag and Gavyn were left gaping in disbelief as the two friends – one Scottish, one English – strolled down the hill.
Lucia Chen is a sophomore in high school. When she’s not writing, she enjoys holing up at the library with a good book or running with her high school’s cross country team. In addition to short stories, Lucia has dabbled in poetry and is currently at work on her first novel. She lives in Michigan with her mom, dad, and little brother.
Write On! For Literacy was founded by Dallas Woodburn in 2001 to encourage young people to discover confidence, joy, self-expression and connection to others through reading and writing.
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