Story Contest 2020 #2 Highly Commended »

Highly Commended Story - Junior Category

“The Hunger Strike” by Ilaria Micella, Petranova International Institute, Italy, is the Highly Commended story in the junior category of the second biannual Short Story Contest 2020.

Ilaria is 11 years old and lives in Rome, Italy. She is attending the first class of the Secondary School at Petranova International Institute, a bilingual school in Rome. She loves her friends and loves spending her time with them whenever she can. Ice skating is her favourite sport and her passion, so she divides herself up between the school and the ice rink! She enjoys singing and loves animals, especially her two cats who live with her Ciccio and Dandy. When she grows up, she would like to have a wonderful job that would let her travel around the world.

The Hunger Strike

Hi, this is the story of three little friends, called Jasper, Cindy and Shelly.

They were two polar bears and one little penguin. Cindy was¬¬ the oldest one and Jasper was the youngest.

They lived in the National Park of New York.

But their life in the park was really boring: they used to wake up at the same time every day, they had dinner and lunch at the same time every day, there were always some children waving hello to them every day… and they could only go around a very small area in the park!

So one day, when the three friends woke up, Cindy said:-

  • Good morning everybody how are you today?
  • I’m good, thanks Cindy- answered Jasper.
  • I’m fine too, THANKS, EVEN IF I am a bit hungry- Said Shelly.
  • Listen to me, I have a wonderful idea- Cindy announced excited - Why don’t we get out of here, our life is so boring, nothing ever happens into this small area of the park!!!
  • Wow, this is a very good idea!- exclaimed Jasper.
  • Yeah, I agree, I’ve been waiting for years to get out of here!!! - affirmed Shelly - But how we will get out?
  • I don’t know yet, but we will find it out very soon – Cindy giggled.

After a few days, a magnificent idea came to Jasper’s mind:

  • Why don’t we start a hunger strike? – proposed Jasper?
  • What is a hunger strike? - asked Shelly?
  • A hunger strike is a way to protest and make our voices heard - said Cindy
  • Okay, I like your idea, but what is your plan?- asked Shelly
  • Here’s the plan: we will start refusing food until the park wardens notice us. In a very short time the people visiting the park will start to believe that we feel homesick and want to get free…
  • ...and they will free us! - Cindy exclaimed
  • Wow, this is a brilliant idea, I agree with Jasper- added Cindy
  • I like it, but can we start tomorrow, please, I’m so angry now!!- cried Shelly.
  • Ok!! - Said Jasper in a laugh.

The first three days of fasting passed quite easily, but then it started to become more and more difficult for the friends to resist…

  • Can’t take this anymore! - exclaimed Cindy at the beginning of the fifth day of fasting.
  • Be patient, you will see that in a few days they will understand what’s going on - said Jasper with an encouraging tone of the voice.

Indeed, two days after this conversation, the warden who was responsible to feed the animals realized that they had not eaten for days, so he immediately went to speak to the boss of the zoo about it.

But the day after, the children of a secondary school that went out for a visit at the zoo could notice that the bears were sick and skinny!

At last the plan was working as expected! The children told everybody at home what they had seen at the zoo and the news immediately spread around. The streets close to the Zoo filled with people who wanted to protest against the health conditions of the animals. The news appeared on all the newspapers and TV shows, also the New York Times reported the facts!

After 4 four days, the boss of the zoo made a very important announcement at the morning show on the main TV channel:

  • Good morning New York, I guess everybody knows about the bears and the little penguin. We received so many letters of protest, asking us to do something concrete to save those animals, even to free the bears and the little penguin, if necessary. So I met with my colleagues of the Zoo Management and we now believe the right thing to do is to free the bears and the little penguin and bring them back to their wild life. They will leave the Zoo tomorrow morning. Have a good day - concluded the boss, with some tears in his eyes…

The day after, the three friends were extremely excited, because they were about to start their new free life together, all three!!! But there was one little thing they could not know: polar bears and penguins cannot leave together in the wild, as polar bears live at the North Pole, while penguins live at the South Pole…!

So they couldn’t imagine what was going to happen that morning, arriving at the airport…

  • I’m so excited- told Jasper - But wait, where are they bringing us!??! - said confused Shelly, when she realized that the cage of her friend was going on a different direction.
  • Oh no, now I remember… - whispered Jasper
  • Wait, what are you talking about?- said nervous Cindy
  • Penguins and bears cannot live together in the same place! - shouted the penguin.
  • Why didn’t we think about it before?? - cried Shelly

As soon as the bear finished to say those words, they felt as lost: the three friends realized at the same time that the only way for them to stay together was to give up the freedom they had just obtained….!!! They looked into each other’s eyes and understood they wanted to stay together, at all costs! But how to make everybody understand????...

There was only one thing to do: cry and shout to the top of their voices! So they did, and they did not stop until they understood the message was arrived to all the people around them. The Zoo Manager, the veterinary and the policemen that were there realized that those three animals only wanted to stay together, at the end.

I’m not going to fast anymore, never! – stated Shelly. The three friends agreed and hugged in laughs, back into the small, same area of the National Park in New York...!

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