Amazing Kids! Magazine

Bittersweet

By Jennifer Wu, age 12, Massachusetts

 

It all started when I was born. My mom gave birth to me, then passed away a day later. This was bad enough, but what made it worse was that since my mom was the person who worked, we now had no source of income. My dad started working odd jobs, even in the freezing cold with nothing on but a T-Shirt. When he started to get sick, he brushed it off and said that we needed the money. But when he got so sick that he could barely talk or move, I started working his jobs. When the authorities found out about his condition, he was taken to the hospital, and I was taken temporarily to the Children’s Shelter until he got better. The next day, I was told that his condition was very serious. Not only that, but I was also told that I would have to go to school. I didn’t really want to go and was nervous about it, but since by law I had to, I didn’t have a choice.

On my first day of school, I was put in sixth grade. As I nervously walked into the building, I suddenly bumped into a girl.

“S-Sorry…” I stuttered.

“Nothing to worry about. I’m Charlotte! Nice to meet you!” she exclaimed.

“I’m…I’m Destiny,” I replied as I walked into class.

“Wait…are you in class, too?” she asked, looking excited. I nodded, smiling as we sat down. When class started, our teacher introduced herself as Ms. Smith.

“I’m Ms. Smith. If any of you guys need any help, I’d be happy to assist you,” she told us with a smile, showing us our desks. During the day, we started learning about numbers and how we added, subtracted, multiplied, and divided them. We all caught on quickly, and Ms. Smith was very pleased.

“Everyone, please clean up your materials. It’s time for art,” she announced, gathering up the white boards we had used. I was so excited. I had heard that art was where you drew pictures about what you saw, and that sounded really cool to me.

When we got to the art room, I felt right at home. When the art teacher, Ms. Bell, showed us how to draw drawings of a panda and then how to paint them with watercolors, I couldn’t wait to get started.

“Destiny! Your drawing is amazing! How did you do that?” someone gushed.

“I know, right? I’ve been taking art classes, and mine isn’t half as good as yours!” Lily, who had been my partner during math class, cut in. Everybody came over to look at my painting, even Ms. Bell.

“What’s all this fuss about?” she asked, smiling.

“Look at Destiny’s painting! It’s incredible!” Charlotte squealed as she awed over my painting.

“Wow, Destiny! Have you ever painted before?” Ms. Bell asked.

“Umm…no, this is actually my first time,” I replied, shy from all the attention.

“This is your first time? Wow, Destiny! You really have talent!” Ms. Bell smiled. “You know what, Destiny? You should enter the WWSC, the World-Wide Sketch Contest!” She looked more excited than ever.

“Umm…I don’t know…” I replied, not so sure if I should do it. I mean, I wasn’t very experienced.

“You should!” Joyce encouraged, and pretty soon the whole class agreed.

“I think you really have a shot, Destiny. I understand if you don’t want to, but if you do, I would gladly teach you some skills and help you work on your entry every other day after school,” Ms. Bell offered, looking hopeful.

“Umm…I guess I’ll give it a try,” I agreed, excited but at the same time doubtful, especially since a lot of other people who would be entering had been taking lessons their whole lives.

“Destiny! You said yes! Do you want to meet after school today? I’ll contact your teachers at the Children’s Center; I’m sure they’ll agree,” Ms. Bell suggested.

“Sure!” I replied, thankful that she had offered to help.

“If you want, Destiny, I can stay after school with you and keep you company,” Charlotte offered, looking at me.

“Sure!” I replied again, thinking that maybe this art thing could work out.

When the bell rang, Charlotte and I rushed over to the art room, only to find a little chihuahua barking its head off.

“Umm…Ms. Bell? Ms. Bell?” I repeated, confused.

“Right here,” she replied. “I was looking for some sketch pencils; I haven’t done a sketch lesson in so long.”

“Wait…why is that dog here?” Charlotte asked as the dog licked her hands.

“Oh, that’s Cinnamon. She was so cooped up at home that I had to bring her here. She’s usually very quiet, but today she seems to have a lot of energy,” Ms. Bell answered, taking out pencils and paper. “So, do you have any idea what you want to draw? Your painting of that panda was so good, you could make a sketch of another animal,” she suggested.

“Yeah! I like that…I don’t know what animal to draw, though,” I replied, looking around the room for inspiration.

“Well, often it’s easier if you have a reference to base it on,” Ms. Bell offered, also looking around.

“You should draw Cinnamon, Destiny!” Charlotte burst out, holding her out.

“Yes! I should!” I replied, giving Cinnamon a hug.

“That’s a great idea,” Ms. Bell answered, handing me the supplies.

That week, while I sketched, we chatted, and Ms. Bell often threw in a few tips. At the end of the week, I had finished, and my drawing was ready.

“Woah, Destiny! That’s amazing! I can’t believe you really drew that,” Charlotte exclaimed, hugging me.

“I know! I can’t believe I drew that either! Thank you so much, Ms. Bell!” I gushed. I thought that I could really win. I mean, the drawing of Cinnamon was really good. Still, I didn’t want to get my hopes up, so I kept telling myself that there was little chance of me winning.

The next day was a Saturday. I expected nothing much to happen and for today to be a calm, quiet day. I intended to just relax and sketch a picture to give to my dad when I could visit him. But I didn’t know that this day would turn into one of the best and worst days of my life.

***

I started sketching my dad’s favorite football player. I knew that he had loved to watch football while my mom was still alive, before I was born. But he had given up his hobbies to work his jobs. Since he was so sick, I was planning to give it to him to help him get better. I mean, the sooner he got better, the sooner we would be able to live together and the sooner I could see him regularly. Suddenly, the intercom announced, “Destiny Campbell, please report to Ms. Pennington’s front office.” I was so confused. What could possibly be happening? I stepped down the stairs two at a time, curious. I stepped in.

“Ms.…Ms. Bell? What are you doing here?” I asked, surprised.

“Well, there’s both good news and bad news. Which one do you want first?” Ms. Bell asked me.

“Umm…I’ll take the bad news,” I replied, becoming nervous.

“Well, Destiny, I’m so sorry, but your dad has passed away.” I blanked out. My heart sank to my stomach, and I couldn’t believe that this had happened. After all those years, after we pushed hard and got through all those obstacles, this had now happened. I felt like my world had almost ended, like there was no point in trying hard. I would have to live in the Children’s Center all my life. My dad, my only family member, the one who had helped me get through anything, had gone. Just a minute ago, I had believed that he would get better and that, in just a few months, we would be able to be together again, living a normal life. Tears came into my eyes, and no matter how hard I tried, they came pouring out.

“I’m so sorry, honey. But before your dad died, he wrote you this letter,” she added, her eyes filled with sadness as she handed me the letter.

My dear Destiny,

If you are reading this letter, then it means that I have passed away. I want you to know that I love you so much. Even though it may seem like the end of the world right now, know that I will never stop loving you and still am watching over you.

Over these few days, I have had the time to talk to your art teacher, Ms. Bell. I am so thankful to come in contact with someone like her. I was so worried about you, and I know it would not be fair for you to stay in the Children’s Center all your life. But when she offered to adopt you, I knew that she would take good care of you.

So, whenever you miss me or even your mom, remember all the amazing times that we have spent together and know that we will never stop loving you. I know you will accomplish great things in life, and I am so proud to be your father.

Your loving dad,

Jake Campbell

Once again, tears filled my eyes. But this time, it was because I was so happy. “Ms.…Ms. Bell…Is…Is it true?”

“Yes. Do you agree?” she breathed, her eyes also filling with tears. “I hope you will.”

“Ms. Bell! Of course!” I cried, giving her an enormous hug.

“Well, that settles it,” Ms. Pennington smiled. “Destiny, you can collect your things. Ms. Bell has made it clear that as soon as you agreed, you would move in with her.”

“I can’t wait!” I cried again, so excited that I was about to burst. I collected my stuff as quickly as possible so that I could finally go “home” and see Cinnamon again.

“Let’s go!” Ms. Bell cheered, looking excited. On the way home, she talked about how much fun we would have together.

The next day, when I got home from school, there was a letter addressed to me. Usually, letters weren’t addressed to kids; they were addressed to adults. So naturally I was confused when I saw it. Then, I saw where it was sent from. I was so excited that I couldn’t help jumping up and down.

“Mom!” I yelled, feeling weird because I still hadn’t gotten used to calling her that.

“Coming, honey. What is it?” she replied, stepping down the stairs.

“I just got a letter from the WWAC!” I squealed, jumping up and down once again.

“I can’t believe it, honey! Open it!” she cried, giving me a hug.

“I…I won!!!” I gushed. Unable to control my excitement, I jumped up and down so hard that I had scared Cinnamon. I hugged her, giving her a treat because she had helped me with my drawing.

“I’m so proud of you, Destiny! I knew you could do it!” she beamed, not looking surprised at all, like she knew all along that I would win. As I finished the letter that I had received, I gasped.

“Wait! I’m also going to be on the front of The Boston Globe!” I gasped. “And…I’m going to be interviewed on live television!” I added, not believing that this had happened.

“Honey! I can’t believe it! That is incredible!” she congratulated me, her eyes tearing up.

***

I got into the car, careful not to crinkle my fancy, jewel-studded dress. We were on our way to my interview for winning the art competition. I knew that this would be a long ride, considering the interview was almost a state away. As we drove through the town of Portland, I remembered that when I was young, my dad and I had visited here during a family vacation. When I saw the exact ice cream store that we had happily visited during the hot summer days, I missed my dad more than ever. But when I thought about how much he had reminded me before he had gone to the hospital to always try hard and do what I love, I knew that if he were still alive, he would’ve been so proud.

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