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2011 Summer Short Story Contest Winner

2nd Place Winner
Caitlin Seavers
12th Grade
Mansfield High School
Mansfield, Texas

I am Caitlin Seavers, a senior at Mansfield High School, Mansfield, Texas. I was nominated by Darrell Watkins for JROTC recognition through the United States Achievement Academy. I am a member of the Scottish Rite of Freemansonry, the Math Club, and I participate in Tae Kwon Do and religious activities. I am the second place winner in USAA’s summer short story contest.



The little town of Jollyville, the town with the biggest smiles, was preparing for a grand event that drew tourists in from miles. The circus was a fun addition to the already joyful town. Everything about it was great – even down to the last little clown.


Three small boys were as excited as could be. Due to their young age, they would get in for free. Tommy and Bobby, and their friend Jimmy too, sought to have the best time ever watching the circus crew.


So along they went, prancing down the road, only to be stopped by a sign that read “closed.” They looked at each other with a grimace on their faces. Tommy peeked over the rope and saw all the empty audience spaces.


“It must be true,” he said with a sigh. So all three boys sat down and started to cry.


Jimmy looked up and saw a man walking their way. The man tipped his hat to them and said, “Good day.” Jimmy returned his gesture with care. The man was a stranger, which in Jollyville, was rare.


“Why weep on such a great day?” The man asked with ease. “Today is the day to do as you please!”


“The circus is closed!” Bobby said with tears. The man patted his head and said, “Give me your ears.” The boys looked at the man with curious gazes, as the man told them a tale of far away places.


“I’ve been everywhere from China to Russia and America too, and no place is better than the red, white, and blue. And, what I have learned in this land of the free is that when something is wrong, someone will help me.”


The boys agreed with the man, amused by his tale, then he told them the reason the circus might fail.


“Nobody on the circus crew can find a single balloon. Running a circus without them would make me look like a buffoon!” The man told them he could not direct the show, as he needed the balloons and their entertaining glow.


“What I’m asking here is not a mystery. Find the balloons. I will reward you handsomely.”


The boys jumped up, anxious to get started. They shook the man’s hand and then they departed.


Together they walked around the big tent, searching over and over for a single hint.


“They have to be here, they just have to!” Bobby said. “Jimmy, do you know what we can do?”


While scratching his head, Jimmy replied, “The balloons are filled with helium, and therefore they fly!”


With this knowledge at hand, the boys ran and ran. They were determined to give this information to the man.


“Sir! Sir!” they cried together, “Your balloons have become as light as feathers!”


They all looked up toward the roof of the tent. There sat the balloons, awaiting their descent.


“You smart boys just saved the show!” the director said with a grin. “I’m afraid I couldn’t have done so. I dropped out of school at the age of ten. Nevertheless, you’ve earned your reward. Always in your heart will you be adored. Although, self-satisfaction is great on its own; it cannot compare to your part in the show!”


The boys smiled at each other and shared a thought within. They would never think of leaving school again.