Just a Dream Micro Fiction Contest Winner
When “Just a Dream” was selected as our first story illustration of 2018, little did we imagine the magic your pens would create! A wondrous selection of stories arrived from as far afield as New Zealand, from primary school classrooms, from young writers and experienced authors. Immersing ourselves in this multitude of dreams was a creative journey that finally led to this season’s outstanding winner, twelve year-old Lily Worden from Townsend, Delaware. She titled her tale The Night the Animals Came, and as you will read, her faithfulness to the illustration, her imaginative exploration of its mystique and the quality of her writing is stellar.
Our next MicroFiction contest will be posted in April, so please keep those pencils sharpened and imaginations whirring. We look forward to new and returning writers! Even if you have submitted stories in the past, please be sure to re-read the Contest Guidelines as we have updated some important information there.
Happy Spring to All!
The Winning Story
The Night the Animals Came
by Lily Worden, Age 12 - Townsend, Delaware
Some of us have all the time in the world to use our imagination but have none of it. Others of us have all the imagination in the world but no time to use it. And the luckiest of all of us have both time and imagination.
Delilah lived on a large farm where there was not much time to imagine things. She was a small little girl at the age of ten with extraordinarily light blonde hair that hung in thin ringlets by her shoulders. She was a bright child with a bright face; pink cheeked and blue eyed. She was the sixth of seven children, part of a big loving family.
Every day Delilah worked hard. Her entire day consisted of chores around the farm. She knew she had to help, but it was so hard. Her father told her a helper was a hero. Every hero had a struggle. But every hero had a refuge. Delilah’s refuge was night. Night brought dreams. And in her dreams, Delilah could be whoever she wanted. She could do whatever she wanted. Her imagination had no limits at night.
One night, when the work was over, Delilah climbed into her large messy bed and she thought for a long time. She thought about where she would go tonight. She thought about what she would see, why she would enjoy it to the end, and when the end would be. Before she fell asleep, Delilah looked around the room. It was quite full. There was her bed and both of her sisters’ beds plus their only toys; Meg’s brown bookshelf, Anna’s white dollhouse, and her small wooden stable. Her father had given it to her along with a small carved horse. Every year after, he had carved her another farm animal for Christmas. She looked at the barn doors and the other animals lying all over the floor. Her favorite animal was the straw-colored horse. She loved its smooth paint and its coal black muzzle and its blonde mane. She loved it despite its many scratches and its chipped ear. And she fell asleep smiling with the toy in her hand.
A soft creak made Delilah’s eyes fly wide open. It was the front door opening. Someone had let himself in! Delilah froze, horrified, and listened as many, many feet walked up the stairs. They walked up the hallway and stopped in front of her bedroom door. Then the door creaked open, and in walked… a chicken! It clucked and waddled over to Delilah. She stared at it in amazement. Then, a series of honks came from the doorway. The two geese marched in, followed by the rooster, who began to nip at the books and clothes scattered around the room. Next came the sheep, who sat on a blanket in the corner, and the goat who actually ate an old sock. Of course, the pig could not miss out on all the fun, so he trotted in and rolled his fat body all around on the rug. By this time Delilah only gaped, but there were more to come. Finally, the cow clomped in, followed by the horse (not before he bumped his head on the door frame), and they sniffed around and rested on the bed. Delilah was now so surprised that she did not move or say anything at all. Then, after another minute or two of sniffing, the horse, who looked just like her toy, trotted over to her bedside. Then, amazingly, he spoke.
“We should get started.”
“He’s right you know,” said the cow.
“Aw, but this sock is so good!” the goat whined.
“Don’t eat her sock! We’re here to help her!” cried the chicken.
The lamb rolled her eyes. “Delilah, you are so bored on the farm. That’s why we came to help.”
“Just let the others do the work,” the pig suggested.
“Lazy pig.” Muttered one of the geese.
“Anyway,” the horse said. “Delilah, there is magic on the farm. You just have to find it.”
“Very good, horse,” said the rooster. “We’ll leave her with that.”
Delilah stared at the horse and smiled slightly. And out they went. The horse first brayed and then left. The cow went out, and the pig, then the sheep and the goat (who now had the other sock between his teeth) followed by the rooster and a goose. The other goose honked at the still pecking chicken, who hung his head and slowly padded out the door behind the goose. Delilah laid back on her pillow, smiled, and fell asleep.
The next morning, after remembering what had happened the night before, Delilah rushed downstairs, yelling, “Mama! Papa! Guess what!”
Her father was sitting at the table drinking coffee and reading the paper. He chuckled. “What did you dream last night my little dove?” But then Delilah paused, smiled, and said,
“It was just a dream.”
That day, Delilah used her imagination on the farm. In the morning, she pretended that she was a spy, offering to cook so she could overhear the enemies’ plans. It was really just her day to cook breakfast for the family. In the afternoon, she imagined she was an evil sorceress, cooking up a sleeping stew. She was actually only milking the cow. During the evening, she was a rebel to the evil enemy, digging an emergency escape tunnel. In reality, she was digging holes in the garden for potato seeds with her older brother Charlie.
“Whatchya pausin’ for Dee? We got work to do.”
“Sorry,” she said.
“Nothing.” And he whistled a soft tune, bringing her back to her secret rebellion. Delilah smiled, remembering the horse. He was right. Now she had all the time in the world to imagine.