This weekend we will be posting the five finalists for the 2018 Voorheesville Short Story Contest! These are stories that made it through the local faculty and staff judging panel, and were sent on to be evaluated by our professional writer panel of judges. Our fifth and final story this weekend is Olivia Hansen’s “KeKe’s Journey,” a story that alters “the ways in which we think about our relationship to the world and our material things and their relationship to us.” Our judges felt that the story contained many great scenes and details, and that, much like the Disney Toy Story movies, it “has the potential to become a unique coming-of-age story wherein readers witness the cycle of human growth through an object’s perspective.”
I wrap her tight as she cries for her mother. My rosewater fleece and silk stitches harbor warmth as she sleeps soundly, mother and father watching admiringly through the nursery window. Her soft, small hands that have yet to crease, have yet to learn how to hold a pencil, have yet to experience the fur of a pet running through their fingers, slowly close their grip around my corners as she rests in her mother’s arms, looking around wide eyed and taking in the environment around her as she sees her first sights. I protected her in her first journey into the car seat to go home as her mother cooed softly next to her in the back seat of the sedan, glimpsing out the window as we passed through the city streets, past the puzzle piece suburbs, the sparsity of the small town surrounding, the black and white banded cows and the high stalks of green corn that stretched alongside the road for miles. I hugged her in her crib when she awoke tearfully from her early morning slumber and rocked with her as she closed her sky blue eyes back to rest.
She walks, she runs, she jumps, she plays. I am her cape when she is rescuing the city from the dangerous villain, I am the bonnet covering her silky soft golden locks when she is the princess of the kingdom, I am the satchel when she is the survivor of the island, digging up the treasure, clinging to her back as she climbs into the branches to search for incoming ships. I am the flag she holds above her head as the wind blows me wide, the wings to her butterfly. I am the wiper of tears, and as she learns how to speak, struggling to annunciate “blankie… blankie…” when she seeks my presence, I am KeKe.
I lay beneath her and protect her from the freshly mowed prickly grass that still manages to poke her through my thin and worn layers. I watch her point as her curly haired cousin shows her the big dipper, so bright and shining, reflecting in her blue eyes without any street lights to dim the view, without any engines to dull the sound of the crickets and the owls that sing their summer song and wish her well on her fourth birthday. I mourn with her,drying her eyes as she lays her beloved pet to rest in the backyard, and prevent the tears from staining her black velvet dress when she loses grandmothers loving, trusting hand and sweet lullaby song. I watch her tear the paper from the surprises Santa left her under the tree, and I keep her warm when she sips her hot cocoa after losing a snowball fight, the flakes still checkering her blonde hair and dripping down her red face as they melt.
I soak up the wet sand as we splash through rolling waves under ocean blue skies, spattered with the occasional squeak from the gliding gulls, investigating the weeds and shells that wash onto shore and scooping up the most geometric ones to bring home.I hold her hand as she shows her mother and I how she can write her name in the sand, her footprints seemingly growing with every wave that washes them away. She holds me tighter as she flinches from the soft snouts of the goats that stick their noses through the petting zoo fence to taste her sundress. I wrap my fraying corners around her as she spills her apple juice and muffle her tired, frustrated cries as her favorite toy breaks. I journey with her down to the creek where we watch the minnows shimmer under the sun rays that filter down into the chasm and through the clear, cold mountain creek water. I wave with her from the wheel of the pontoon as we pass by others enjoying the day, chugging along the perimeter of the lake while Dad keeps the wheel steady for us. I gasp with her in awe as the boat parade circles around the booming red, white, and blue that combust in the darkness of the Adirondack sky. And when she catches her first sunfish, I slip off the side of the vessel, listening to her cry as I float away until Aunt Mary comes to rescue me and return me back to her fevarant grip. I share the powder from her funnel cake as she eats her favorite fair food. I feel the wind through her hair and she holds me tighter underneath the seatbelt of the bumper cars and giggling in excitement. I rest simply on the fence, basking in the August sun as she rides the ponies, telling the handler about how nervous she is to start kindergarten in the fall. And as she walks away swinging her cousins hand, I know she may cry for me later, beg to return to find me still there, but I will remain there forgotten, thinking fondly of this journey we took through her childhood together.