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When I Grow Up This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

Her desk is by the window. She can look out to the world when her attention goes fuzzy. It’s so full of life and so beautiful. The genius that works the school’s gardening system has planted a field of columbine flowers that she likes to imagine were planted for her own viewing purposes. It’s not that she thinks the second grade is boring but the rest of existence tips the scale resulting in a heavier interest.

As she looks further into the soft colors a movement catches her gaze. Flying through the light purple flowers is a hummingbird who’s just removed itself from feeding on the nectar. The young girl is so fixated on the life around her she’s drifted from her own until her teacher snaps her back to attention.

“I want everyone to take out a piece of paper and write down your name and what you want to be when you grow up,” the teacher says with a kind voice but the little girl doesn’t miss the sympathetic glance she tosses her way before quickly trying to cover up with a smile. Only a smile is no good when it doesn’t reach your eyes.

She’s scribbled one word on the solid white paper. It read Madisyn in the sloppy writing of a seven year old. She grinned at her name knowing she probably wouldn’t be writing it again anytime soon. Today was going to be Madisyn’s last day of school here until next fall considering she’s already missed so much due to her many trips to Seattle.

Madisyn began to write her next word when an overwhelming pain explodes through her right arm. She feels a surge of exhaustion and her head gets warm. All she can think is how bad she wants this last day at the school and raises her hand high in the air. Quickly, with the teachers permission, she’s squeezed out the door and made her way into the girls bathroom.

Determined to take care of the problem herself she splashes water against her forehead and buries her arm in the sink. The pounding pressure only helps slightly and she prays in her mind for the pain to go away.

To her dismay there were no paper towels so she made the decision to slip off the bandana she wore and dry her arm with that. Madisyn pulled her face up to catch sight of herself in the mirror. The girl sports a shaved head which draws attention to her angelic blue eyes. She doesn’t need to look at the rest of her body to know just how weak she appears. The doctors have told her mommy one of the symptoms was weight loss.

While walking back to class she tries to remember what it was called she’s been diagnosed with. Something is wrong with her bones. It hit her suddenly like taking a punch to the stomach as she remembers the name of her rare cancer. It’s called Ewing’s Sarcoma.

Each kid turns to stare at her bald head as she makes her way back to her desk. The paper is still placed in front of her with the question in mind. Immediately she writes down nine words and the finished paper read: When I grow up I want to be alive.



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