Today we are featuring Inklings Book Contest 2021 finalist, Kenzie Lam! Kenzie finished 3rd grade this past school year. The story she wrote is called “Hope.” Enjoy! 

As I’m walking home, the only thing I’m thinking about is getting home. Not just getting home – being home and feeding birds. I’m Emily, and I love birds. But I don’t have friends. We recently moved into a new school, and I’m still getting used to it. I walk up the steps of the house. As soon as I get in, I throw my backpack on the couch. 

“Mom, I’m going out to feed the birds. I’ll be back soon!” I say to my Mom, who’s in the kitchen preparing dinner. 

“Sure, but be careful!” Mom calls. 

Too late. I’m out the door at the word “sure.”

In the backyard, I walk to the bird feeder. There are a few chickadees and a finch cautiously fluttering around the feeder, pecking at the food. I admire their patterns and their cute, majestic look. Then, I move a bit closer and all of them fly away – except one.  It’s a chickadee. It cocks its head at me and inches forward a bit. I stick out my hand, and it hops on. 

“Hi,” I say. “I’ll name you … Hope.” I start stroking her, and she seems content, so I stroke her for a while. Then I feed he some food and she hops away.

I walk into the house and tell my mom about it. 

“Sounds interesting,” Mom says. “Can you help me set the table and get dinner ready?” 

“Sure,” I answer. 

I take out some plates from the kitchen cabinet and start putting them on the table. As I’m taking out the carrots and peas out from the fridge, all I’m thinking about is Hope. Why did she choose me? And why is she the only one that did? And – Ouch! I bang into the fridge. I’m suddenly back in the real world. 

“Stay focused on what you’re doing,” My mom tells me sternly. 

“Okay.” I mumble. But still, I can’t help but keep thinking about why she liked me.

At dinner, I quickly wolf down my food and run upstairs to my room. I’m glad I don’t have much homework this week. 30 minutes later, after finishing my last bit of math homework, I flop on my bed and think hard about everything. I remember Hope hopping away. Wait! She hopped away. So … Can she fly? And if she can’t, can she survive?

At 7:30 PM, I go downstairs to brush my teeth. In two minutes, I’m upstairs in my bed. That night, I can’t sleep. I toss and turn and stare out the window. Many things are on my mind, and I can’t tune them out.  If I can make friends with a bird, then I can make friends with a classmate, I think. 

The next day, I wake up. I didn’t get much sleep, but I can still try to make a friend. I change my clothes and walk down the stairs. In the kitchen, Mom is making waffles. She sets some in front of me on a plate. 

“Mom, I’m going to make a friend today,” I say. 

“Great!” Mom says. “Tell me about it when you come home. Now, you have to catch the bus.”

I grab my backpack, stuff my books inside, and put in my lunch box.“Bye! Love you!” I call to Mom as I walk out the door. 

As I walk to the bus stop, I have a feeling Hope is following me, even though she’s not. After a minute of waiting at the bus stop, the bus comes and I step up and find a seat. During recess, I sit alone on a wooden bench, watching the other kids play. Everybody has a friend. Everyone, except me. 

A girl walks up to me and says, “I’m Jane. You look lonely. Want to play ball?” 

“Hi,” I say, smiling. “I’m Emily. I’d love that!” 

I figure out that Jane and I have a lot in common. Jane also tells me that she has a pet bird. For the rest of the day, we talk about birds and our love for them.

After school, I’m thinking again. When I get home, I go to feed the birds, and Hope comes to me again. I examined her wings and saw that there were some patches without feathers. It’s likely that they got caught on a branch or pulled off by another animal. I stroke and pet her again. 

When I went into the house, I told Mom about my new friend. “Today I made friends with a classmate called Jane and we played ball and talked. Also, when I was with Hope, I noticed some bald patches, and she never flies.”

“Congratulations for making a friend,” Mom says. But she is looking at her phone, and seems worried. 

“What is it?” I ask. “Is it something about school?” 

“No, it’s not about you,” Mom says. “There’s going to be a thunderstorm tonight.” 

Before she can say anything else, I blurt out, “What about Hope?! She can’t fly! What if she can’t survive?” 

“It’s okay,” Mom says. “I’m worried about it too. I’m also worried about fires–” 

“Fires?!” I exclaim. “What if they burn Hope or our house?” I interrupt. 

“It’s fine. The lighting isn’t coming here,” Mom tells me reassuringly.  

That night, I’m up and worrying. I wish that Hope would just come hopping to the doorstep, into safety. I keep glancing out the window and at the time. At 11:03 PM, I see some flashes of light, evenly spaced. I didn’t think it was lightning, because it was spaced like that, but then I heard the thunder. I was scared for myself, and for Hope. Especially Hope. Think about it: a small, small bird that can’t fly out in such a big open space.

The thunderstorm went on till lunch the next day. I’m glad it’s a weekend because I get to spend a lot of time with birds, specifically Hope. I go outside, but I don’t see her. Then, I find Hope under a chair shivering and breathing hard. 

“I’m so glad you’re still here,” I say. “Just hang on, please.” 

I’m very worried. It must’ve been the smoke. I rush inside and ask Mom what to do. 

“I think we should keep Hope inside for a while until the smoke dies down. We can give her birdseed and water.” 

I quickly grab a towel from the kitchen and wrap Hope in it. I gently carry her in, where we put her next to the heater and feed her birdseed and water every three hours. I can’t wait for Hope to get better. Every day, we feed her and take care of her and in three days, Hope is much better and we let her out again. She happily hops away to the bird feeder.

The next day, after school, Hope doesn’t come to me. She’s already there, waiting for me. I go inside to put away my backpack, but Hope follows me into the house. I guess she’s staying there, and I’m fine with that because Hope is my friend.

No. Not just that. She’s my BEST friend. She is the best bird in the world.

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