Five Things

April 7, 2009
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“I want everybody to bring in five things tomorrow,” my English teacher Mrs. Quinn announces to the class.

All the students stare at her questioningly, waiting for a further explanation of what “things” to bring in.

“Five things that are very important to you,” Mrs. Quinn continues. “For example, a special necklace, your favorite postcard, an old stuffed animal; anything that has a special purpose in your life.”

The kids in my class nod with understanding. Everyone starts chatting about what they’ll bring in, but I keep to myself, deep thoughts of what to bring flowing through my head.

At home that afternoon, I look around my room for my five special items. I end up with a beautiful shell from Florida, my teddy bear, pretty pearl earrings my grandmother gave me, my favorite Shania Twain CD, and my camera. But after awhile, I decide that none of these things are very important. These five items are things I really like, but they don’t mean the world to me. I would be just fine if I didn’t have stupid CD’s. I need five things that are the most important, over all other things.

For some ideas, I go to speak with my mother. Unfortunately, she is asleep in bed. I go and sit beside her. Her tired, skinny face looks even older than the last time I looked at her. Her eyes have deep bags under them. I gently stroke her bald head, and a tear escapes me eye. Suddenly, I know what my five things will be.

Tomorrow in English, everyone else’s desk is covered in an array of insignificant things, like baseball cards, glow-in-the-dark pens, and fruit-flavored lip gloss. But on MY desk, is a single sheet of paper with a short list on it. I hope that how I did the assignment is correct.

We go around the room sharing our five things. Everyone has to tell why there items are important. A lot of responses are “Because it’s really cool” or “Because I just like it”. My reasons are much better.

When it comes to my turn, Mrs. Quinn says, “Amy, where are your five things? Did you do the assignment?”

“Yes, I did,” I say, referring to my piece of paper. “I brought in five wishes.”

I hear a few snickers, but that doesn’t break my confidence. I did the assignment correctly. I brought in five things.

“Umm . . . okay Amy. Read your wishes,” Mrs. Quinn says. She seems pleased with my interpretation of the “five things”.

“Alright.” I look at my paper and begin to read. “Number One: I wish that there was an end to world hunger. Number Two: I wish that animals and people were not abused. Number Three: I wish that the earth was not polluted. Number Four: I wish that children everywhere could go to school.”

That wish makes a few boys laugh, but Mrs. Quinn shoots them a look that tells them to knock it off. I pause for a minute. My final wish is very personal. I don’t know if I can handle announcing it to the class.

“Amy? Number five, please,” my teacher says.

“Number five . . .” I begin, but my voice chokes. I sigh heavily. “Wish Number Five: I wish that my mother was not going to die.” With that, I put my head down on the desk and begin to cry.

Join the Discussion

This article has 11 comments. Post your own now!

musiclover94 said...
Oct. 12, 2009 at 5:04 pm
Hey, my piece is out. It's called Regionals and its on the 5th or 6th page of Realistic Fiction. I'd love it if you'd comment. I don't know if it's any good.
Megan S. said...
Sept. 20, 2009 at 3:12 pm
Love lots of your work. I saw that A Mango-Shaped Space is on your profile and I love that book! I didn't know anyone else had heard of it! Your writing is amazing, keep it up!
penguin35 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Sept. 21, 2009 at 4:19 pm
Thank you so much. Isn't A Mango-Shaped Space an amazing book??!! It's one of my all-time favorites.
musiclover94 replied...
Sept. 24, 2009 at 6:25 pm
I know! I wish I had synesthesia. It sounds so cool. I'm thinking about writing something about it. Be sure to look for my one measly peice that is now "pending approval". Keep writing, I lover your stuff!
musiclover94 replied...
Oct. 12, 2009 at 5:19 pm
Hey, I've been reading your stuff and some of the descriptive pieces are very "synesthesia-like". I saw that it was for an english project but do you have synesthesia?
penguin35 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Oct. 12, 2009 at 5:48 pm
I don't have synesthesia, but I think in a very synesthesia-ish way. I have all letters and numbers and names associated with colors in my head. But I don't see colors like the girl in the book. What pieces have you read that seem synesthesia-like?
musiclover94 replied...
Oct. 13, 2009 at 5:52 pm
All the feeling ones that have smells and things. Like confusion.
penguin35 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Oct. 13, 2009 at 6:54 pm
Oh, I thought so. Synesthesia is really cool. I want to talk to someone who really has it. I wish I could have it for just like a day and see what it's like.
penguin35 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Aug. 7, 2009 at 11:51 am
Thank you dreamer_believer and liz_graham. I had no idea people would like this story so much!
dreamer_believer said...
Aug. 6, 2009 at 2:39 am
omigosh this is great. great beyond belief you don't even know!!! holy cow. this story had the reader on edge not knowing what the five things were going to be. and the four first things were so beautiful to wish for. the fifth wish made me cry and you had a wonderful ending :) brilliant and beautiful!!! GREAT JOB! comment on some of my work...i would LOVE your opinion :)
liz_graham said...
May 20, 2009 at 12:03 am
that was so sad and yet so great it made my eyes tear up.
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