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     Besides having a beer-drenched collar and a boring corporate job, David’s life was exciting because of his daily evenings on the mulberry-hued bench in Vandaleen Park. That one bench would change as seasons flew by. It was a pigeon sanctuary in the spring, a snow bunk in the winter, and a sunburn spilled drink haven in the summer. But that bench would only be in its pristine color in the fall as children would start school, their only happiness would be that game of hopscotch with their friends laughing, crying and quarreling. 
     Some mothers stopped bringing their children when they saw a 40-year-old man sitting there, whose childhood was spent polishing shoes and getting thrashed for the smallest of errors. They did not know about his life, but one day all the man’s blatant complaints that he’d receive would all vanish. 
        As he sat on the bench, an old man with a tweed jacket and an authoritative aura approached him. 
       “I’m with my granddaughter today. Will you not mind if you take care of my sweet Stella for just a few minutes?” he said and left without letting him utter a single word in agreement.
      Stella was a golden-retriever with fur that had an angelic glow. She did not seem naughty, but just like her owner she was in charge of everything around her path. David brought her to the ice cream shop, but she ran to a shop that sold leather shoes. David thought that the dog wanted a chew toy, and yanked the leash to prevent her from taking the shoe, but she wouldn’t budge. Surprisingly, after purchasing the pair of shoes, Stella remained calm and her disposition stayed like that until she met Carla. 
      Carla was David’s long-term high school girlfriend, until they broke up five months after as she wanted to focus on “self-development,” but just next to Carla, was Johnny Trueman, a senior valedictorian. Stella bit Carla’s high-heels, and snatched her bag, and ran. Carla tried to chase her, but then after a while, she decided that it was pointless. But Stella never stopped running. She ran till she stopped at a ginormous dacite building that had the signature two twin lion corners. For a second, David took a deep breath and released Stella’s leash. It was Dr. Keeper’s office. Dr. Keeper was David’s owner; he did not refer to him as a parent, as his parents had died when as he used to say - “I was way too young to remember.” He would make David do one of the most foolish of tasks like polishing his shoes five times in a row, as his idea of adoption was free child-labor.
     “Wait up Stella, wait,” David yelped. 
     Stella pounced on the platform and stormed into the door when she saw Dr. Keeper sitting on a kitchen barstool talking loudly on the phone. Stella leaped onto the Island, making Dr. Keeper drop the phone and frantically get up from his seat. David quietly approached the living room and dropped the bag containing the new leather shoes, as he revisited his disastrous childhood. 
      Dr. Keeper looked at David, and gave an open-mouthed expression of disbelief and emphatically said, “Son, you better get out of here before I call the police.”
     Stella took the shoes and chewed them up in front of Dr. Keeper’s face, walking towards the kitchen cabinet. In there, was a shining black pistol, and it was gleaming under the kitchen lights. David turned back to Dr. Keeper’s beady eyes, and it didn’t feel like him. A random dog had come to him and changed his life, so he did what he felt right.
      The pistol gave a nice loud bark, but it may have been one painful bite for Dr. Keeper because he was now lying on the floor, causing discomfort to the kitchen tiles. Stella looked up at David, and gave a slobbery lick in the face for a sign of approval, sliding the shoebox to David.
      “Okay Stella,” David smiled, and petted her golden fur as he put on the black leather shoes. For a second, David felt dizzy and then he closed his eyes and opened them again. He was in the comfort of a twin-sized bed with a dinosaur-print blanket. 
     And then a stunning blonde lady came inside, saying “Morning David,” as a man with circle glasses stood next to her and said, “Stella, give the boy a break.”
      David was now 4 feet 2 inches and was getting ready to go to his kindergarten class. He did not know where he was, but everything around him shined a little brighter now. Stella had bitten a large wishbone because his dreams had come true.



Harini Senthilkumar – 7th grade

Harini is an excellent writer and a deep thinker. Though a 7th grader, she uses complex thinking processes and sophisticated concepts in her stories. A notch or two higher than her grade level, she has a lot of ideas swimming in the ocean of her mind.