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White Sheet This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

It was a typical day: playing hide and seek in the rubble of a Sarajevo house with my closest friend. Mujo, to the world a homeless gypsy, was a few inches taller than me, equipped with x-ray vision for hiding places in his brown eyes. I hid in the remains of a kitchen cabinet, holding the door from the inside so it would not fall off, shielding myself from the sounds of his feet kicking rocks in the former living room. Suddenly he pulled at the door of the cabinet and shrieked ”I found you!” I started chasing him, when I heard my father’s booming voice calling me. He handed me a suitcase and told me to pack – just like that my rubble playing days were over.

Next I knew, it was the first day of school in America, my heart pounding as I walked into the classroom. The teacher introduced me and asked who was willing to let me sit next to them, and that’s when my cousin Mirza came to the rescue, pushed the girl sitting next to her to move over, and said “over here!” I looked at my hero - she had brown wavy hair and brown confident eyes. Her freckles looked innocent, but she fought off all my bullies that year. We would soon become inseparable. She knew English already, and we would do homework together- we were always there for each other.

Those days of having her nearby were soon over as I moved to another school for 5th grade. On the first day of school, my parents dropped me off to the classroom, the first in my life without any fellow Bosnians. Alone without my Mirza, I felt like I could not do well. I struggled throughout the year with my English, often having to work twice as hard for average grades. For winter break we had a science packet to finish, and I tried to do my best no matter how much time it would take, though not expecting much. My work paid off and Mrs. Parisi pulled me aside to congratulate me on being the only student in the class to have gotten a 100%! She kissed me on the forehead, and showed me a mug with my school's name written in big purple letters. She described it as one of the best schools in the country, and even thought I could get in. I could not wait to get home and call Mirza to tell her everything.

Another year, another school, and although it was harder than before, the year passed by relatively quickly. The tougher environment encouraged me to work harder. That year I managed to get a medal in my school’s Science Fair, the same night I took my entrance exam. That night, when I wanted to show Mirza my medal, my parents told me we would be visiting her in the hospital from now on. I had no idea she was sick, but was sure she would get better.

On a May morning some months later the letter arrived. I ran home from school, anxious to tell my parents the news that I had actually gotten in! My parents only smiled quietly, and congratulated me. I was disappointed at their reaction, but I still couldn’t wait to show Mirza because she knew how important it was to me. As we entered her room, we saw the nurses pulling a white sheet over her, and my heart stopped as I realized Mirza had been much sicker than I thought, realized why my parents had reacted so quietly to my great news. My dad put his arms around me and said “do you want to hug her before we leave?” Still clutching my letter, I walked the few steps to her former bed, and put it on top of the white sheet.



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