Amazing Kids! Magazine

Finding Words

By Sydney Koenig, age 15, California


Sometime during her day, Margaret had realized she wasn’t getting anything done. Well, it was around noon, to be honest. As she sat in her cushioned white recliner, laptop at the ready, nothing filled her mind. No ideas. No plots. No characters. Margaret had absolutely no inspiration to write. Her deadline was creeping up on her; soon, her publisher would be calling. When the blank page had stared at her for almost two hours, she gave in. Usually reading other novels, and even watching the news, helped her thoughts flow. Yet nothing was working today. Finally, Margaret stood and- after placing her Mac on the nearby desk- moved to the coat rack to prepare for a walk.

The day was wet and cold. In Margaret’s author-wired brain it was damp and unsympathetic. Her even steps took her toward the wide, tree-filled field their city called a park. There was nothing criminal or intimidating about Dayton, but it wasn’t exactly “safe.” On the borders of the park was a waist-high stone wall with selected openings and light poles, surrounded by a potholed road. The tall trees and green grass helped the area not look like a prison field, but it wasn’t exactly cheerful.

In the north-east corner stood a large stage for festivals and outdoor plays. Margaret had gone to a few of the annual spring music parades Dayton held and many of them filled most of the park’s walls. Along the east wall stood a tall and very old playground. Yet, kids loved the sunbaked slides and rusty swings. Hidden behind a tree grove was a series of parallel courts made to support several types of sports. And finally, nestled in the southwest corner were three tiled pools which had been holding up for nearly half a century.

Margaret always enjoyed the ever-present clouds that came along with Oregon, but today the weather felt like foreshadowing. Looking around, she noticed a dull sense of dread in her gut. The atmosphere seemed to shift while she moved away from the child-filled playground and toward the shadowed stage. Few people were in the park, most likely due to the ominous weather, but that didn’t help Margaret’s worries. Her next sight didn’t do much good either.

The closer she came toward the stage, the uncomfortable feeling grew. Wondering if she should continue her walk with fear growing stronger, her feet started to stumble. Children laughed behind her, reminding Margaret that she should have nothing to fear. Once she was nearing the end of the large cement platform, Margaret saw a leaning figure who seemed to be watching her. His black hood covered much of his face, but through the haze, she could see his eyes looming after her. Quickly, Margaret made her way to the golf course grounds. She walked along the short fence, keeping her distance from the watcher.

Rounding her way past the country club entrance, she gradually shortened her strides. There, she noticed, no one was on the grounds. Even when the weather was looking down, usually people continued to play. With a tingle running up her spine, Margaret became very conscious of her surroundings- the families, musicians, and even the homeless group that huddled near the thick trees shouldn’t have caused any strife in her mind. She shook her head, trying to clear any bad thoughts, and slid her hands into the pockets of the beige sweater she wore.

Coming up stood the tall chain-link fence surrounding three empty pools overlaid in small blue tiles. The tin roofing above a small shack was labeled with worn lettering that resembled a name and menu; a worn down food stand. Though the place was old and seemed to be on it’s last legs, the aging wood looked to be well loved. Even the mismatched paint streaks along the back, not wrapped by fencing- which supposedly “covered” graffiti- gave the place character. Yet, once Margaret moved past the small building, she began to worry again.

Large roots making cracks in the road distracted her while she closed the distance to the courts. Loud bickering entered Margaret’s mind but didn’t register until she stood too close to the fight. A large man with a navy t-shirt and ripped jeans was practically crowding the shorter woman he was yelling at. Though Margaret couldn’t understand the meaning of the argument, she knew she did not want to be in the middle of it. Trying her best to keep quiet and sneak around the couple, she felt their gaze bore into her back. Again, Margaret hurried to move out of sight.

A small road intersected the park, adorned in stop signs and warning symbols, notifying drivers of children in the area. Margaret, shocked from the alarming fear raising her hairs, decided to cut across the park, avoiding the hidden courts. Pausing seemed to be a reflex when she met the edge of the asphalt. Hearing no cars over the loud altercation behind her, she moved to cross the road. Suddenly, though flying out of nowhere, a red, run-down truck came hurtling toward Margaret. Caught like a deer in headlights- which she practically was- her flight instincts kicked in. Sprawling to the opposing side of the lane, she tumbled onto the dewy grass.

Quite ruffled by the experience, Margaret slowly rose from her now bruised knees. Again, clearing her head with a firm shake, she moved toward the playground benches several yards away. Determined to keep her footing and her dignity, she held her head high before practically collapsing across the wood. Clear of the high ringing induced from her adrenaline, Margaret heard another high pitch noise – laughter. Children’s laughter to be precise.

Lazily, a smile formed across her face and she too began to laugh. What a day, she thought. Gradually, she straightened toward the energetic atmosphere. With cautious steps, Margaret made her way toward the plastic fixtures. Several families lined the grassed edge of the play area along with a large group of children parading through the wood chips. As she looked on at the smiling faces and animated youth, an idea crept into her mind. This is what she could write about – the upbeat, the spirited, the enlivened.

Without a care in the world, these kids were happy to run around on aged equipment because, in their minds, the world couldn’t get any better. They had imagination, ingenuity, and vitality at their fingertips. Margaret continued to smile as she brainstormed. Out of all the bad that had happened today – not having any inspiration, the unsettling situations, and even almost being flat-ironed into the road – her new-found illumination set her mood afloat.

Once home, Margaret untied the belt and shrugged the sweater off her shoulders, hooking it back into the wall. Her new-found motivation led her back to the sofa, placing the computer back in her lap and her fingers across the keys. It began, there are many things in life that hold us down, but let’s change perspective