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Stair Prize 2019 Winner

Congratulations to the 2019 Stair Prize in Writing winner, 8th grader John Pawlusiak, for his short story on the theme "I never imagined a simple mistake could lead to...".

The Stair Prize, funded by the Ralph Stair Foundation and administered by the Friends of the Jan Platt Library, is awarded to a single middle school student in Hillsborough County.

How My Strep Throat Caused the Police to Come to My House

by John Pawlusiak

“Okay boys, I’ll be back in about an hour!” said our mom as she walked out the door.

“See you later, mom!” replied by seven-year-old brother Jerry.

I couldn’t say anything because of my awful strep throat. My throat was parched, and bone dry.

“Jerry,” I croaked pitifully, “could you get me…a glass of wa…ter?”

“Of what?”

“Water,” I answered, clutching my neck in pain.

“For your strep throat? Yeah, I’ll get you a glass.” He raced off to the kitchen.

Presently, he hurried back out.

“Here you go,” he said as he handed me the glass.

“Thanks.” I rasped.

“No problem. Now you just rest.”

I had had strep throat for three days now and today was the worst so far. I could hardly talk. And I was sore all over. It was terrible.

A few minutes later I started to get hungry.

“Jerry,” I said once again.

“What?” he answered.

“Could… you get me some of those yo…gurt covered raisin things?” These were the only things I could eat that wouldn’t hurt my throat too much.

He looked up from his 3DS game. “Yeah, sure.” He then went to the pantry and pulled out a bag, walked over, and handed it to me.

“Thanks… again.” Jerry sat next to me and was about to put his hand in.

“No!” I practically screeched as he withdrew his hand quickly. “These… for me.”

“Oh come on,” he groaned as he got up and walked away. But less than a minute later, he snuck up behind me, and quickly snatched a few. I glowered at him as he giggled and popped one into his mouth.

“Jerry!” I shrieked, “stop… robb… ing… me… go... away!

He suddenly stopped laughing, and with a horrified look on his face, said “What? You saw a robber go that way? Where?” He looked out the window. “Was he armed?”

“What… I… No!”

“You don’t know?” I tried to tell him that I didn’t see one, but my throat hurt too much from yelling.

His seven-year-old imagination must have gotten the better of him.

“Was it a group, or just one? What if they want to rob our house? That’s it, I’m calling nine-one-one.” I jumped up and took our home phone. I tried nodding my head back and forth, but I suddenly got a neck cramp.

Jerry grabbed the phone from my hand. “No, let me call, they won’t understand you through the phone because of your strep throat. Come on, let’s go to the bathroom, that’s probably the safest place.”

He sprinted to the bathroom and I followed him to try to get him to stop. By the time I got there, he had already given our address to the person on the phone.

“Yes, robbers! Coming to our house!” He shouted into the phone.

I tried to grab his wrist but he pushed me back, saying “Stop and let me talk.” I couldn’t do much because of my sore muscles. I let out a loud grunt, which just hurt my throat even more.

“Yes, please come fast, my brother is completely freaking out”. That earned a face palm.

After about fifteen minutes of waiting in the bathroom, there was a loud knock on the door.

“We should just let them come in. The robber might be in our house right now.”

Before we knew what was happening, the police picked the door and I heard them look through the house.

Jerry abruptly yelled, “We’re in here!” and he opened the door for them. I just stood there, very embarrassed.

“There’s no one else in this house,” one of the policemen said. “Do either of you know where he might have gone?”

“No,” Jerry said. “My brother is the one who saw him though.” The man looked at me. I looked at the ground shamefully. I motioned them to follow me out of the bathroom, got a piece of paper and a pen, and started writing. I should have thought of this in the first place but it just didn’t come to me until now. I wrote how I had strep throat, how Jerry had misunderstood me because of it, and how I couldn’t stop him because of how sore I was. I never imagined a simple mistake could lead to this huge misunderstanding.

The first responder sighed. “Well, this isn’t the first situation I’ve been in like this, and it sure won’t be the last.” He went and told all of the other policemen outside. They notified our mother, and left.

After another fifteen minutes, our mother came home.

“I heard you guys had an interesting day,” she said with a fearsome expression on her face. “You’ve got some explaining to do!”