Highly Commended Story - Sub-junior Category
“Moxie” by Teniola Thompson, St. Mary's International Schools, Ilorin, Nigeria, is the Highly Commended story in the sub-junior category of the first biannual Short Story Contest 2019.
Teniola Bamigboye Thompson was '2017 Queen' of St Mary and her story is a mix of real life and 'what if'. She loves to read. Telling her story was her first attempt at writing and it made her feel really good. She wants to be a skin consultant and a fashion designer like her mom when she grows up.
Tenny wanted to be Queen. She wanted to be the queen of Nigeria but her Mommy said she had to be old enough to contest and that would be in about ten years time.
‘Ten years time?!’ screamed Tenny. ‘I can’t wait that long. I want to be queen now.’
‘Well. Maybe we can start with queen of your school.’ Mommy said.
‘Oh, ok.’ Tenny agreed reluctantly. ‘I will beat all my schoolmates hands down. It will be too easy.’
‘Of course you will darling but I suggest you prepare. You have to learn how to walk like a queen and talk like a queen.’ Said Mommy.
‘But I walk and talk like a queen already. See.’ Tenny strut around the room. She came up to her Mommy, struck a saucy pose, waved haughtily and said ‘Hi’. Mommy laughed.
‘Why are you laughing Mommy? What’s funny?’
‘Sweetheart, being a queen is not just about looking beautiful and being proud about it. It’s about being beautiful inside and letting it show so everyone can see and love you for it.’
Tenny was taken aback. ‘Am I not beautiful inside, Mommy?’
‘Of course you are my dearest heart! You just don’t know it yet and so you don’t show it. We’ll start by signing you up for the school pageant this year.’
Tenny signed up for the pageant. During the practice sessions, she learned how to walk and talk like a queen with thirty other girls. Only ten girls qualified for the finals and Tenny was so happy to be one of them. She couldn’t wait to tell her mother.
‘Mommy! I qualified for finals! I’m going to be queen!’ screamed Tenny.
‘Wonderful! I knew you could do it.’ Tenny’s Mommy said. She then presented Tenny with a clothes box. ‘Guess what I got for you to wear for finals?’
Tenny tore up the box and took out a gorgeous dress. It was ochre cream colored and the skirt was very full with fluffy puffs that spread out like a peacock’s tail.
‘Mommy! It’s gorgeous!’ screamed Tenny.
‘Wait till you see the matching shoes!’ Mommy was also very excited. She took out a high heeled pair of lace up pumps and gave them to Tenny. Tenny hugged her mother very tight.
‘Thank you, Mummy. I’m going to put them on right now.’ She said and ran upstairs to change.
‘Be careful honey. Do not run up and down the stairs with those heels.’ Mommy cautioned Tenny but she was not listening. She ran down the stairs to show her Mommy the new shoes and dress and turned her heel.
Her Mommy took her to the hospital and her foot was bandaged up. The doctor advised her not to wear any high heeled shoes for a while. Her Mommy said to Tenny as she limped about the sitting trying to practice her walk.
‘I’m so sorry, my dear. You can’t compete in finals with this sprain. Maybe we can try again next year.’ Tenny shook her head. ‘I’ve made it this far, I can finish the finals.’ The next day, the finalists had their last practice together. When Tenny tried to do her walk, she could only hobble and all the other finalists laughed at her. Tenny’s eyes filled with tears but she batted her eyelids to keep them away. The final contest was in three days. Mommy told her to rest her leg completely and not practice again. Tenny agreed and instead of walking, she practiced her speech. Her Mommy gave her pain killers to keep the pain away.
The day of finals finally came and when Tenny was called out in the first round which was sportswear, she stepped out in flat shoes. Instead of wincing, she smiled harder every time she felt the pain. When she got backstage she collapsed into her Mommy’s arms. She started to cry. Her Mommy hugged her and said, ‘You have already won, my darling. You are the bravest girl here today.’ The next round she had to wear her ochre dress and heels. ‘You don’t have to wear these shoes, dear.’ Said Mommy but Tenny shook her head and put on the high heels. She was going to walk that walk no matter what. Tenny stood in her shoes and dress waiting to walk onto the stage as the other contestant walked back. As that girl turned to return backstage, Tenny took a deep breath and started her walk. Tenny looked straight ahead and strode as lightly as she had learned how to. Later, people in the audience described Tenny’s walk as a Power Walk. She was fierce. She was gorgeous. She was- OH NO! The worst thing just happened. The girl who was returning back tripped and fell in right in front of Tenny. Tenny did not lose a beat though. She walked up to the girl and helped her up. The girl was so embarrassed and close to tears but Tenny smiled at her, held her hand and together they walked to face the audience. Both girls were smiling happily when they struck their poses and everyone got up to give them a standing ovation.
When the chief judge came out to announce the winner of the pageant she told the audience that she just learnt of the pains the winner had had to bear during the competition and that she was not chosen because she had the best walk or because she had the best talk and not because she was the most beautiful on the outside but because she was the most beautiful on the inside and had showed it.
Tenny had to hobble over with the help of her Mommy to collect her crown but nobody really noticed.