Last One! [Need YOUR help!]

OK… just one more assignment and I’m officially on break.

Ecstatic!

I’m debating between revising my short story for a middle school audience or the one I wrote for a high school audience. Both are a “reimagined” telling of the old Grimms’ fairy tale, The Twelve Dancing Princesses.

The middle school tale is more amusing, more playful. The high school tale is a bit more dramatic and emotional. Hmmm. Which am I in the mood for?

Perhaps a vote is in order?

Here’s a small sample of the middle school story:

Andrew M. DeCannon was a peculiar boy. Unlike the other sixth graders in his class, he was not beginning to take interest in the female population. He still clung to the principle belief that girls were unpleasant and icky, tolerable at best. He scoffed at his best friend’s newfound preoccupation with Angelica in their third period gym class and often tried to tune him out as he reminisced on Katie’s hair during their lunch.

“Did you smell her hair today?” moaned Chris Baumin. “She smelled like strawberries.” He sighed, stirring the congealed gravy on his lunch tray while Andrew picked gingerly at his peas.

The lunch lady of Eagle Run Middle School always gave him double the necessary vegetables, citing his scrawny arms as the motivation behind her heavy-handed delivery of the hated fare.

“You need to eat more greens, son,” she would bellow in her thick accent, her double chins jiggling like pudding wrapped in cheesecloth, “so you can grow big and strong!”

He’d nod plaintively, accepting the extra helping of soggy pearls with a grimace and staring longingly at the brownies reserved for the eighth graders with pocket money. His parents never gave him extra lunch money to buy desserts – only enough for the hot lunch special.

“Hello? Earth to Andrew!” Chris waved a hand in front of his friend’s face. “Did you hear me?”

“Huh? Oh, yeah.” Andrew had been daydreaming about chocolate cake so intently he could almost taste it. “Yeah, Katie’s hair smelled good, I guess.”

“Dude, are you listening? I said did you notice the McCrinley girls today?”

The McCrinleys were sisters, twelve in total, and the daughters of Principal McCrinley, the sternest and most serious principal to ever walk the halls of Eagle Run Middle School. Somehow, Principal McCrinley and his wife had managed to have three sets of quadruplets, just one year apart. There were four daughters in each grade level, giving them an automatic reputation of untouchability among the student body. The eldest four daughters were in eighth grade and they strolled the halls with a level of confidence that could only be rivaled by dignitaries and celebrities. Even then, it would be a close call.

“What about them?” Andrew had lost interest in the McCrinley girls shortly after he started at Eagle Run. They only talked with one another and he didn’t really see the appeal that the other boys seemed to find in them.

Chris chewed his roll thoughtfully. “They look exhausted.” He waved his hand in their direction. They were such a big family; they took up an entire lunchroom table on their own. “Like they haven’t slept in days or somethin’.”

Andrew turned to look at the daughters. It was true. All twelve girls looked nothing short of exhausted, their eyelids drooping heavily as they struggled to lift their forks to their lips. In fact, two of the sixth graders had actually fallen asleep at the table, their long hair dangerously close to the murky brown gravy on their trays.

********

And a sample of the high school version [similar plot, only more dramatic]:

___________

            Melissa was floored. She and her sisters sat crowded together on her bed, looking at a copy of the poster. Their father was on to them.

“Don’t worry, “ Michelle offered cheerfully, “Dad has no idea how we get out.” She gestured to the hidden trapdoor to the basement. “He’ll never figure it out!”

The other girls laughed heartily as Melissa stared at the words on the paper. But what if he did?

__________

            The line of boys outside of Vice Principal Ranson’s office was ridiculous. He was convinced that every male student at Welsey High was sitting in the waiting room and his secretary, Ms. Benison, was downright panicky from the traffic.

“Mr. Ranson,” she called, breathless with her agitation, “they keep coming!”

“Just take their information, Ms. Benison.” He looked out at the long line of volunteers, marveling at the zeal of pubescent boys. He hoped this was the right decision.

___________

            Night after night, a new boy arrived at the Ranson house. Melissa was nervous the first day, positive that the first attentive classmate would inspect their bedroom and find the trapdoor almost instantly.

Fortunately for her and her sisters, the house guests were more interested in playing video games, flirting, or eating all of the available junk food in the building than searching through their bedroom. Discovering their weakness, the girls began preparing homemade brownies and cupcakes for the boys, lacing them with a special ingredient: Nyquil.

They didn’t stand a chance.

__________

            Christopher watched as Melissa slept at their table. She was so pretty; it made his stomach twist in knots just to look at her. When he tried talking to her, his tongue managed to glue itself to the roof of his mouth. Not that she would have heard him, of course. She’d slept through the last three weeks of Biology class once she realized that her lab partner would ensure their work was completed.

He sighed as he finished the dissection of their frog.

___________

            Vice Principal Ranson was furious. More than a month had passed and nearly the entire male population of upperclassmen had stayed at his home. In addition to replacing nearly a thousand pairs of dancing shoes, he also found that the junk food budget had more than quadrupled since the boys began their visits.

He needed to raise the stakes.

____________

            Melissa was beginning to feel guilty. Now that her father was giving in-school suspension to anyone who failed to solve the mystery of the worn-out dancing shoes after three days, she began to question if she and her sisters should come clean and tell their father the truth.

“No way!” Margaret, the fifth oldest, shook her head. “Why should we tell?”

‘Don’t you feel bad about the boys getting suspended?” Melissa asked.

“Why should we?” asked Madeline, the third youngest. “It’s their choice. They know the consequences.”

“Besides,” began Marybeth, the middle child, “they seem to be enjoying themselves when they visit.” She smirked as Jonathan, a sophomore from her U.S. History class, rolled over in his sleep. This was the third night he’d fallen asleep, so he would be suspended in the morning.

“I guess,” said Melissa, chewing at her fingernail.

_____________

            It was finally his turn. Christopher had waited patiently, allowing the rush of jocks and nerds, skaters and gamers, and practically every other male in the school to attempt to solve the mystery of the Ranson daughters, but everyone had failed. He wasn’t sure he’d be able to do any better, but he’d risk his perfect record for Melissa.

_______________

            Vice Principal Ranson opened the front door to his home with a heavy sigh. This was the fifty-seventh boy to show up at his doorstep, eager to gain entry to his sanctity, ravage his kitchen, and stare with droopy-eyes at his daughters.

This boy looked different than the others, though. A little gangly, but seemingly kind, his timidity striking compared to the bravado that normally waited on the threshold. Mr. Ranson ushered him inside, feeling him in quickly on the rules of the house.

“You have three nights, kid.” He scratched his baldhead as the boy wiped his feet on the doormat before walking into the hallway. “You stay in hallway, not my daughters’ bedroom.” He raised a skeptical eyebrow as the boy nodded emphatically. “Figure out how they’re sneaking out and you can take any of my daughters to prom, all expenses on me. Fail three days in a row, and it’s two weeks of in-school suspension. You know that goes on your permanent record, right?”

The boy gulped loudly. “Yes, sir.”

He was risking a perfect discipline history, one he’d maintained religiously since a bubble gum incident in first grade earned him the chastising of a lifetime from his parents.

“What’s your name, anyhow?” Mr. Ranson locked the door and began to walk up the stairs to his daughters’ bedroom.

“It’s Christopher, sir.”

**********

So, I leave the decision in your capable hands. Comment with your pick. I’ll post the full, finished [and edited, thank god] story up here of the winner next week. 🙂

Optimistic for some help with this decision,

~ Victoria Elizabeth Ann

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One thought on “Last One! [Need YOUR help!]

  1. I like both versions. However, for some reason (I can’t really tell you why) I preferred the first version. I could picture it in my head, like a movie, as the story went along. Either one you choose will be great! 🙂 Looking forward to reading the finished product.

    Like

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