Today we are featuring Inklings Book Contest 2019 finalist, Amogh Kashyap! Amogh finished 4th grade this past school year. The story he submitted is called “Pocket Skeleton” We asked Amogh what he likes best about his story and he said, “that a 10-year old boy’s day takes an interesting turn due to a figurine he finds by chance…or so he thinks.”
The hot sun beamed down on my face as I rode a couple of rounds in the County Fair Ferris wheel. The Ferris wheel was quite tall, if I can say so myself. I like tall things. I do not know why, but I do. I think that is natural for 10-year-olds to not know why they like something. And I do love music. Music in my ears is the best thing ever, and I play the recorder. The thing I like about the recorder is that you just need to put the right amount of air into it. That’s how you make the perfect beautiful sound the recorder is supposed to make! You need to have quite some skill to do it, and I feel good that I have it. I could hear music from the bandstand nearby. I paused to see how far up we had gone. Halfway to the top. I looked around the County fair. What a stunning view! Suddenly, I felt an unsteady bump on the Ferris wheel. The good thing was that I was at the highest point in the Ferris wheel, and that the view was absolutely stunning. The bad thing was that… I was stuck up here. I panicked. What was I going to do? But a second after I mentally freaked out, the Ferris wheel began moving again. I should really be aware of things next time! Funny ol’ Joseph Bradd. Always makes a fool of himself… mentally. By this time, we were at the bottom of the Ferris wheel, and operators at the fair let us out of the ride. And then I saw it! The tiny strange object that was about to change my life forever.
I walked over to the strange object on the ground, covered in mud. Right when I picked it up, Mom called me. I needed to go home. I gave it a quick glance. It looked like a human skeleton but a much smaller version. It fit in my palm. Because Mom is very impatient, I quickly walked out of the fair as fast as I could, holding the strange tiny skeleton, and of course, with me keeping up with Mom. Once inside the car, and with my seat belt fastened, I had time to take a better look at the small little skeleton. I looked at it closely, felt its textures (it felt like thick plastic), and examined it as best as I could. I turned it around, there was a piece of tiny paper taped on to the spine of the skeleton. There was faint text printed on that paper. The fading text read: Pocket Skeleton. Do not break. Weird, I thought. I was confused because that was an unusual instruction. Why would someone want to break it? But I just ignored it. I tried to think of a good name for the skeleton. Skele McBones? Nah. Dr. Funny Bone? Too childish. Hmm… I was thinking hard on what to name this peculiar skeleton. Suddenly, the perfect name flashed to my mind. Skelebone! It was the perfect name… although just a second after I thought of ‘Skelebone’ as the perfect name, I thought it was the most ridiculous name. I just need to get the perfect name… a name that I would not completely dislike the second after I had thought of it. Now, a different name came to me. Mr. Skelly! It was it, the perfect name. And I still loved it after one second had passed by! I couldn’t wait to take ‘Mr. Skelly’ home.
I brought Mr. Skelly home, placed him on the dining table, and then ran up to my room to practice my recorder. I was practicing for the big recital performance at my school next day. The reward for participating in the performance is a giant trophy that is painted gold color with text on it that reads, Recorder Participation Trophy! It’s for the whole classroom. The trophy weighs a lot, so two or more teachers had to carry it into the classrooms that participate. I had messed up my performance in the past, almost every time. I did not want to be the laughing stock during the recital, in front of the entire school. I practiced the recorder for one hour, and after that I felt like I needed to take a break. It was 7:30 P.M. and I was ready to eat my dinner. After I finished my dinner, I continued reading a book, called How to feed aliens pasta juice (for beginners!). It was really a silly title for a book, but the book itself is actually a pretty good horror novel. It was 9:00 P.M. when Dad told me to go to bed. I snuggled myself in my bed, thinking I will check on Mr. Skelly the next morning. I went into a dreamless sleep. When I woke up, it was 7:00 A.M. I walked up to the dining table to see if Mr. Skelly was there. When I got to the dining table, Mr. Skelly leaped up at me and caught hold of my neck. I was terrified. It then whispered three words to me.
“Do. Not. Break.” Mr. Skelly then laughed an evil laugh.
“Mom! Dad!” I called out. “Somebody, help me!”
I woke up. What a terrible nightmare! After I recovered, I had another thought. Hope I did not oversleep.
I heard Mom call out to me, “Joey, get out of bed! You’re late for school! Eat breakfast, get dressed! We need to get going! Go, go, go! We have no time!” I brushed my teeth and looked out the window. Right there, I saw my school bus turning into our cul-de-sac. It honked twice and waited. My mother was correct. I was totally late for school. I panicked. I quickly got dressed. I put on a pale green shirt with text on it that read, Cheese is awesome! I got that shirt because, as you might have guessed, I love cheese. I then wore my normal, black jeans.
“You know what, Mom? I am not going to eat breakfast,” I said. On the table, there was my breakfast. There was fresh toast with creamy butter smeared on the flat top. Next to it, there was even creamier milk. All of my breakfast looked refreshing, but I knew I had no time.
“As long as you finish the lunch I packed for you, that’s fine with me!” said Mom. I then grabbed my backpack and ran out the door. I knew the school bus would have left without me, making me miss my big recital day. To my surprise, it was still there. I ran into the bus.
Opening the bus door, the driver said, “You are in luck, kid. The bus would not start till now.” Whew! Today is my lucky day. I found a seat next to my friend. His name is Daniel, and he is really nice.
“Hey, Joseph,” he said to me. “How was your weekend?”
“Pretty nice,” I told him. “I went to the County fair and found a cool skeleton!”
“You have it with you, right?”
“No, I don’t.”
“Then what is that on the floor?”
I looked at the bus floor, and something white caught my eye. It had no eyes, and it was… it WAS a plastic skeleton. My pocket skeleton.
It was Mr. Skelly! How did he get here? My head was spinning but I had no time to think. Maybe Mr. Skelly brought me luck. Today was the day of my recorder performance, so I might as well put him in my pocket for good luck. After a few minutes, we got out of the bus and stepped in to John Billy Elementary.
“See you at the performance!”
I walked to my class and Daniel walked to his (we were in separate classes). We had attendance, journals, math, and then came the assembly. I was keeping my fingers crossed that I would not make any mistakes playing the recorder. All the 4-6th graders took their seats on the soft mat. I was backstage, ready for the curtains to open. When the curtains opened, a tune played in the background. I remembered the steps I needed to take. For the rest of the assembly I played smoothly, perfectly and not messing up even a single note. Everyone clapped, including all the teachers who had come to the assembly. It was all great fun! Today was turning out to be really lucky.
All thanks to Mr. Skelly, I thought as I felt the little plastic skeleton in my pocket.
The only thing that wasn’t great fun was the miserable thing that happened to me next.
I stepped down from the stage very cheerfully, but then I suddenly slipped and fell. My leg hurt as I tried to get up. Mr. Skelly was on the floor beside me. The big slip had cracked Mr. Skelly’s head. I tried to hide it as much as possible. But everyone saw the wide crack, and I felt that many kids were pointing at me and whispering to their friends, “Why does Joseph have this strange skeleton? And why does it have a crack on its forehead? Oh, I know why! It’s because funny ol’ Joseph Bradd made a fool out of himself slipping!” They didn’t really care that I was hurt, but they only cared about the skeleton. Luckily, the nicest kids in the school, including Daniel, were not pointing and babbling at my misfortune. Instead, they rushed through the whispering crowd of kids their own age to my help. They walked me to the school’s office. They led me to a seat where I could rest and they called the nurse to check on me. The nurse checked every part of my body to see if any part of it was injured. Finally, she came to my right knee, and found out that it was bleeding badly. Seems like my day had taken a turn for the worse.
What unlucky things might happen next? If you really do want to find out (I don’t think you should), then please proceed reading… but with caution. I was not sure, but I think it all had to do with the crack on Mr. Skelly.
The nurse put a bandage on my right knee, told me to be careful and sent me to class. My teacher, Mr. Doo, was teaching us math. He asked us to solve this simple and easy math problem: 5 x 5 = ?. Everyone in my class raised their hand except me. I forgot the answer to this simple equation because I forgot to memorize multiplication tables over summer.
Mr. Doo called on me. “Joseph, why not give it a shot?”
I was thinking hard about this simple equation. Some of my classmates were even giggling because this was one the of easiest multiplication equations and I couldn’t solve it.
“It’s easier than you think. Wait, how about I do this: your homework will be just to solve this equation. The rest of you guys will have your regular homework.” The majority of my class groaned. I was happy though, because I got only a small multiplication equation!
“Actually, you will have more homework than the rest of the class. If you really can’t remember that easy equation, you need some more practice. I do kind of think it is not fair to the other students. So write the 5 multiplication table 5 times in addition to the regular homework,” Mr. Doo said to me. More than half of the class “yes”-ed. Ouch!
I don’t know what is happening, but I think that crack on Mr. Skelly has to do something with it. When I got home later that day, I remembered all the bad things that happened: my slipping and falling, revealing Mr. Skelly had a crack in his head, my losing a chance to get less homework, and me painfully bleeding. It all has to do with Mr. Skelly, I thought. Daniel called me on the phone.
“Are you okay, Joseph? I felt that must have hurt a lot.”
“Don’t worry, I’m fine, but thanks for asking!”
“You’re welcome, I was only calling to make sure you were feeling well.”
“Alright, I need to finish my homework. See you later!”
I finished my homework and I practiced my recorder for a while, and I also watched TV. For the rest of the time, I read another book, Gleaming Shine, which is a book about a boy who magically heals his broken bones, which were throughout his body. My luck was kinda like the part where the boy breaks all of his bones, before they get magically healed.
I have not reached that part yet in the book. Before I knew it, it was 10:00 P.M. It was past my bedtime, and I was walking slowly to my bedroom. But then, once I got to my room, I saw Mr. Skelly lying on the bed. I don’t know how he got there, since I never put him there. Actually, I didn’t even remember WHERE I put Mr. Skelly when I returned home. I picked him up. I saw his crack. I thought to myself, I really hope this bad luck goes away. I really do, this is kinda stressing me out. I put the skeleton on the dining table and I went back to my room. I switched the lights off, and now it was time to sleep.
I really hope this bad luck goes away soon, I thought to myself again.
The next day, I woke up and I went to the dining table to eat my breakfast. I looked at Mr. Skelly, and I gasped. The crack was gone! I don’t know how this happened. The crack couldn’t have been glued or taped, since it looked JUST the same as I saw it the first time. I threw Mr. Skelly in the trash can because I thought it was because of him I experienced bad luck, and his crack healing was kind of even creepier. I finished my breakfast and I hopped on the school bus. I sat next to Daniel again and talked to him for a while. Daniel asked about Mr. Skelly but I avoided his question and tried to change the topic. Once I arrived at school, two of my classmates were looking nervous.
“What’s wrong?” I asked one of them.
“I didn’t finish my math homework!” they replied. I just remembered about the math homework thing yesterday. I had finished my math homework! I could say that was pretty nice, considering all the bad luck that happened yesterday. The bell rang, and I went to our class.
We all settled down, but we were waiting for three students. Five minutes later, they came running to our class.
“We overslept!” one of them said. That was strange, I thought to myself. That was the exact same thing that happened to me yesterday. Hours passed, and it was now time for math class. Mr. Doo was there as usual. He does this thing every day where he asks us if we did our math homework, and whoever didn’t finish their homework has to clap for the people who DID. So, Mr. Doo started asking, “Who here finished your math homework?” Some kids and I were the only ones to raise our hand.
“Woah, guys! Congratulations! People who didn’t do homework, clap for these kids!” Mr. Doo said. Four kids clapped. “And for you guys who DIDN’T finish your math homework. What’s going on, guys? Don’t disappoint me!” Mr. Doo said. The four kids were stammering.
Finally, one of them said, “I found a small plastic skeleton at a store, and I thought it would be kind of cool to get my own.”
“Yeah, same here,” said another one of the four kids. Soon, all of the four kids were talking about their skeleton. They explained how they wondered what would happen if their skeleton had a crack just like mine, and how they also accidently dropped theirs. They showed their pocket skeletons with cracks to the whole class. Said they have been having bad luck since then.
After I came back home that day, I wondered. Was the bad luck due to the crack? Or was it because of my mind THINKING that it was because of the crack? I mean, I may be making silly mistakes like falling, etc., and blaming it on a silly figurine. This question continues to be a mystery, but I will never forget the events of those two days when Mr. Skelly was with me.
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