An Unexpected Kindness /7
Local students show off their literary stuff in the 2018 McEntyre Writing Competition
Introduction by Wayne Larsen
Illustrated by Jennifer Cook
In what has become an annual tradition in Westmount schools, the McEntyre Writing Competition always attracts a wide variety of thoughtful and creative entries, and the 2018 edition was no exception.
Endowed by the late Peter McEntyre, mayor of Westmount from 1969 to 1971, the competition encourages young writers to express themselves on a designated topic, each designed to get the creative juices flowing. It is coordinated each year by the Westmount Public Library.
In 2018, “An Unexpected Kindness” was the topic assigned to students in grades 1 through 11.
Westmount Magazine presents the full texts of the first-place entries in each grade category, as supplied by the Westmount Public Library. As well, this year these will be accompanied by Westmounter Jennifer Cook’s charming illustrations.
Here we present Grade 8.
EIGHTH GRADE | FIRST PRIZE | WESTMOUNT HIGH SCHOOL
There was once a man who loved to travel. He liked meeting new people, trying new things, and most importantly writing stories. His stories were inspired by the exotic experiences he experienced and the important lessons he learned. As the years went by, he no longer was able to keep up with his travels and decided to settle down in the nearby village.
When he got to the village he didn’t have a place to stay so he just sat on a bench in the town square. As people came and went the sun came down and the streets grew emptier and the man put down his book filled with stories and fell asleep.
The next morning the man woke up to the sound of sobbing. It was a young boy. The man asked the young boy “What’s wrong?”
The boy wiped away his tears and said: “The children at school tease me because I’m poor.”
“It doesn’t matter if you’re poor or rich, as long as you’re happy.”
The boy smiled and said “Really?”
“Of course,” he told the boy.
The man was about to give the young boy his stories but he ran off with a smile on his face.
A few days passed and the old man hadn’t found a home to live in before winter so he just sat on the bench and wrote more stories. As he was writing a new story a woman sat down next to the old man. The woman looked like she hasn’t eaten a proper meal in months. The old man put his book down and asked her, “What’s wrong dear?”
“My husband died and I can’t afford any food for myself and my children,” she said.
The old man reached into his bag and gave her a few loaves of bread and told her, “You need it more than I do.” The woman smiled and walked away, but then the old man realized he had forgotten to give the woman his stories.
Months passed and the summer quickly became fall and the old man was realizing that he might not survive the winter. He was trying to figure out what to do when a man sat next to him. The man looked big and tough with soldier armour. The man had sadness in his eyes. The two sat in silence until the old man asked, “Did you come from the war?”
The soldier said “I came from the war, but my brother didn’t. He died in my arms and I couldn’t do anything about it.”
The old man had empathy for the soldier and said,” Your brother would have wanted you to live a happy life and not to mourn him for the rest of your life.”
The soldier got up, smiled, and walked away. Once again the old man forgot to give him the storybook.
The very next clay it started snowing. Winter had come. The man tried to find someone who would accept them into their home, but no one would. So the man just went back to his bench and crossed his fingers that he would survive the winter.
It was the first day of spring, the flowers bloomed, the streets filled with people. It was finally springtime. The soldier, the young boy, and the woman came back to the bench to see if the old man was still there, but he wasn’t. The only thing left was the old man’s book. The three of them looked at each other with sadness, they realized that the old man had not survived the winter.
The soldier asked them, “Are you here to see the old man?’’
The young boy said, “He helped me regain my confidence around other kids and stand up to other people.”
The woman added on, “He helped me get back on my feet by giving me some bread and encouraging me to get a job.”
The soldier said, “He helped me by cheering me up when my brother died.”
The woman picked up the book and said: “We should spread his stories in his honour, it’s the least we could do.”
She split the stories into three and gave each of them a few stories.
They each shared the stories with their family and friends.
Jennifer Cook, with over 28 years in graphic design, brings her expertise to each creative solution she produces for businesses world-wide. Paired with her love of research, she learns the soul of each client’s story to build a successful visual portfolio, which can include a combination of strategic graphic design, brand development, illustration, and social media. For fun, she started a daily illustrated social media series What my Coffee says to me to inspire and promote good mental health. To find out more on how she can meet your visual marketing needs, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.