McEntyre Competition:
An Unexpected Kindness /8

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 9.


Hannah Hamelin

Elie’s Birthday Party

“We had to make some cuts, were letting you go.”

The words kept repeating in his head. “Why me,” he thought. Owen Wright, a thirty-two year old man who sacrificed ten years of his life to that company, he never missed a day, but yet he still got fired. All he could think about was to go home, so he packed up his things and made his way to the bus stop. He tried not to cry but was too weak to hold back. When the bus arrived he found a spot next to the window.

It was an amazing day for Elie Parker. It was her 75th birthday! She was happier than ever. She had her favourite yellow flower dress on with a black headband and some white converse shoes. Her life had been pretty boring. She used to be a telemarketer, but when she retired she decided to follow her passion and become an artist. That’s how she met her best friend Summer, a twenty-five year old tattoo artist. They were going to meet at Pare Lafontaine at six o’clock, but as usual, Elie was running late. She walked quickly to the bus stop. She got on, however, there were no more seats and her arthritis started to flare up. She then saw a young man with red puffy eyes stand up slowly.

“Here ma’am, take my seat.”

“Are you sure, sweetie?”

“I insist,” Owen said.

“Thank you.” Elie sat down slowly, her pain was getting worse. “My name is Elie Parker, you can call me Elie. No need for the ma’am, it sounds too old! Tell me sweetie, what’s your name?”

“I’m Owen Wright,” he said weakly.

“Why are you so sad, Owen?”

“I got fired today.” He usually wasn’t very open with strangers, but there was something about this old lady that made her trustworthy.

“Well Owen, today is my birthday and I’m inviting you to join my small party. What do you say, are you ready to have some fun?”

“I don’t think so. I’m pretty tired.”

“Oh that’s too bad. Did I mention that it’s my birthday? Don’t make a seventy-five year old woman sad. Let’s have some fun and get your mind off work!”

Owen thought to the last time he was happy. He couldn’t remember. “Okay, I’ll come.”

“Come on, Owen. A stranger just invited you to their birthday party, do you have any more enthusiasm?”

Owen smiled. “Let’s do this Elie! This is gonna be great!” Everyone on the bus looked back at them. They laughed.

Summer waited patiently on the bench listening to some music. She was wearing some camouflage pants with a black crop top and her long pink hair in a bun. She was wondering when Elie would get there and as usual, she was late. The young girl was starting to get hungry. Right before she opened the bag full of treats she heard her dear friend’s contagious laugh. Summer looked up to find a tall man standing next to Elie.

“Summer! Are you ready to get crazy?” “Hell yeah Elie!”

“Hi, I’m Owen.”

“Welcome, I don’t think I’ve met you before.” They started to talk while walking towards the park.

Ian Mark had been sitting all day begging for money, he had collected five dollars which would become his dinner. Even though this task could be lonely he loved the peacefulness of sitting in a park and letting his thoughts roam. He started to pack up his things.

“Do you want some food?” He looked up to find a young woman with pink hair, a tall man and an old lady.

“Oh my, are you sure, miss?”

Summer reached into her bag and got two sandwiches out, a soda, some brownies and a water bottle. She handed it to him.

“Thank you miss, thank you!” He put everything in his bag and got up.

“I hope you have a wonderful evening sir.” Summer smiled, she was about to walk away when Elie interrupted.

“Hi! I’m Elie. Do you want to join us? We’re going to have a little party!”

“Thank you for the food, but I have to pass. My friend, Michael, is waiting for me under the bridge.”

“Well, if you change your mind, we’ll be under the big willow tree. You know the one, right?”

“Indeed I do. Have a good evening folks and thank you again.” He walked away.

The three were on their way as well. Summer and Owen were chatting about something, but Elie was too distracted by the bursting pain in her joints to concentrate on their conversation. Next thing she knew, she was on the ground and Summer was holding her tightly.

Michael and Ian were eating by the pond with their feet in the water and their sandwiches in hand. It was a warm summer night with light winds, you could bear birds singing, trees rustling and people laughing in the distance. The smell of barbecue was roaming through the air. Suddenly Ian stood up.

“I have an idea! To make this night even better, we should go to that party next to the willow tree.”

“They probably want nothing to do with some homeless men in rags,” Michael said.

“Come on now, if they invited us they probably want us there. Let’s do it!”

“Fine,” Michael laughed.

They started walking when Ian realized that a bag was lying in the grass. His friend and him approached, it was the bag of the young lady he met earlier.

When Elie woke up she was laying in the grass, when she tried to move the sharp pain was still excruciating. People were whispering next to her.

“Where’s my bag? It has her medicine in it and everything!” Summer said with her voice trembling.

“Why do you have her medicine?” Owen asked.

“It’s not important! We need to find my bag!” Summer snapped back. “But, if you must know I pick up her medicine at the pharmacy!”

“Okay,” Owen took a breath to think and continued, “I’ll go and retrace our path and you stay here to make sure Elie is okay.”

“Thank you Owen.” Summer headed to her dear friend crying and Owen went the other way but right before he left Ian was in front of him holding the young lady’s bag.

“We found your bag, Miss.” She turned around with the biggest smile, she wiped off her tears, and headed over to give them a hug. “Thank you so much!” Moments later, Elie was sitting by the tree, no longer in pain. “I’m sorry if l ruined the night. I wanted it to be special for everyone, a time for you guys to be happy no matter your situation.”

“You didn’t ruin anything, plus the night is still young, right guys?” They all nodded. “So Elie, what do you want to do next?”

“Why don’t we put on some music and dance! Let’s celebrate life!” She got up slowly and started to sway along with the beat. She was still in pain, but sitting down would be worse.

“Are you sure?” said Owen worried that the past moments would happen again.

“I’m sure!”

She got up, put on some music and started to sway lightly while the others danced wildly. They all howled at the moon and laughed profusely. Owen couldn’t stop smiling. He hadn’t felt this happy in such a long time. Same goes for Summer, but she was especially grateful for all these strangers coming together to make Elie happy. However, the two homeless men didn’t know what they walked into but were glad not to be seen as the outcasts of society. After a while, they couldn’t dance anymore so they laid down on the grass and stared at the stars. Elie’s wish came true, everyone was full of joy.

“Thank you,” she said. They all smiled.

Illustration: Jennifer CookBouton S'inscrire à l'infolettre –

Read also: McEntyre Competition: An Unexpected Kindness /7

Jennifer Cook –

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

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