Contest 2.0 Recap


10> You have a reserved parking space with your name on it — at traffic court.

9> You spend an inordinate amount of time scraping hair and bone out of your front grille.

8> You get more unwanted tickets than friends and family of the Detroit Tigers.

7> After less than 10 minutes in your car, Saddam and his sons change their minds and now “feel like walking to Jordan.”

Here’s all the entries, a sort of recap. Enjoy!:

Red robes lined the small stage, with bursts of yellow sashes for anyone who had done something special. A spotlight was on us, seemingly positioned just so it shined in our eyes.

“… and to our graduating class, congratulations! Welcome to the next leg of the journey that is life. As you very well know …” Mrs. Ionkoo, our vice principal, rambled on and on. Some people called her Oinkoo, because of her unfortunate name, shape, and nose. Really, she was asking for it, she looked like a pig. The resemblance was uncanny.

After her speech-slash-lecture-slash-torture was over, there would be more from other people. None would matter; they were really very irrelevant, just like this whole Eighth Grade Promotion Ceremony. The real reason everyone was tearing up (or all-out bawling in some cases, like Snotty Molly next to me), was because when this was over, we would be – wait for it …

High schoolers. And with that comes parties, peer pressure, and power (and “responsibility”).

Oh. Oinkoo sat down. Cue polite applause. Ike Bayletti, our valedictorian, stood up to announce another speaker. Next up: Superintendent-something. Moth? Goth? I didn’t catch the name. It doesn’t really matter, his speech is boring and predictable, just like Oinkoo’s. Oh well; he still gets some polite applause.

Wash. Dry. Repeat.

Speaker. Applause. Repeat.

Repeat, repeat, repeat. Stupid repetition – it seems to go on for hours. I wish it would just be over so I can go home and eat some purple raspberry ice cream – my favorite. Of course, there would be an after party somewhere, but there was no way I was going. I probably wasn’t invited anyway.

Another speech over, more polite applause. This schedule was like a malfunctioning robot – Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Can. Not. Stop.

Repeat … repeat … repeat.

After another hour, it was finally time for diplomas, and Mr. Latdon, our principal, took the stage. In a voice that can only be compared to the wheezing of an old computer, he started to call out the names. Even though my last name starts with a ‘D’, it took a solid half hour to get to me.

“Leslie Derem.” Mr. Latdon said into the microphone. Is it possible for someone’s voice to be so monotone? I thought while I walked. Step left, step right. Step left, step right. Step left, step right. Even down to the very last moment, all this school has ever been is repetition. A half-hearted congratulations later, I was a high schooler. Cool?

When Mr. Latdon finally dismissed us, I stuck around. Why not avoid traffic? It’s easier to walk if there’s no traffic.

I strolled around the school grounds, with no purpose besides wasting time. Before long, it was time to get back and start walking before it got really dark, and I started to jog back around the school to the main road.

Just before the street was within sight, a balloon caught my eye. It was tangled in an overgrown bush that the school means to trim but really never does, blaming funding. It was a very good quality balloon, against all odds; mylar was typical at events like these, yet here is a real helium balloon, which has been drawn on and signed by family.

Quite a few years ago, before the incident, I had a get-together with a few cousins. I don’t remember why, as I was very young, but I do recall going to the fair. There were games galore, dessert delights, and ‘radical’ rides. Of course, there were balloons everywhere. Our parents had underestimated our spending capabilities, and we had already run out of money, so we made up our own sport: Balloon Wishing. The first person to see a balloon would get to make a wish, then throw it up into the sky. If it was kept afloat for longer than fourteen-seconds, the wish would come true. I had fallen into the habit over the years of playing whenever I found a balloon like this one, one that was good quality.

The world suddenly seemed silent. Soundless, as if I were in the vacuum of space.

I picked up the balloon, not hearing the bush rustle as I tried to untangle it. After a few moments, it was free.

I lifted up the balloon so it was level with my face,


and read it. Most of it was just simple things, like, “Congrats, Jenny” or, “So proud, Grandpa”. Nestled among the fake, forced signatures was a true gem. It was a famous saying, it summed up my entire life up to this very moment. The world is a very confusing place, how could it not be, but this helped put everything in perspective.

How could I rob someone else from knowledge and wisdom, maybe even hope? I tied it back into the bush. Pay it forward, I thought. Walking away, I finally found myself breaking free from the guilt still present from the incident.


and tried to see it’s story. I’m a firm believer in that everything has a story and a purpose. The names were accompanied by cryptic messages.

Rad, dude! That person got a paper cut! lol, Johnny

Do you know where I can find canned unicorn meat? Best summer evr!!!! Luv, Mary

What if cat really spelled DOG??? Haha,ur da best! <3, Penny

Most of the balloon was covered in these. They seemed to be inside jokes, but who knew? All of them were in colorful marker, with no distinguishable pattern. There was one, though, that was clearly different. It was written in plain black, for one, and unlike the rest, was neatly written in cursive.

Stay strong, Leslie. I love you. Never forget. -Grandma Heather

I almost collapsed right then and there. Johnny, Mary, Penny … those were my cousins. From those holiday get-togethers and the funeral. And Grandma Heather – could she be  my Grandma Heather?


and tried to decide what to wish for. I wanted so much, I needed so much …

… but Balloon Wishing wasn’t the way to do it. I tied the balloon back onto the bush.

Let someone else have a wish.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

So? Make sure to leave a comment, vote, and don’t forget to subscribe!

Sincerely, Lemons


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: