I have had quite a number of my stories published in The Chicken Soup series of books but I have had an equal number I’ve sent in that were rejected. I’ve decided from time to time I might publish the rejects here on my blog. Here’s one I submitted for a book about mothers. It is a true story as all Chicken Soup stories must be.
I ran away from home when I was six. I was angry at my mother for making me go to bed at the same time as my younger sister.
“I’m older. I should get to stay up longer,” I said.
“But you’re in grade one now,” my mother tried to reason with me. “You need to go to bed early so you can get up for school in the morning.”
“It’s not fair,” I protested. I took out the blue suitcase we used for train trips to my grandparents’ house and hoisted it onto the couch in the living room of our small apartment. I yanked my school uniform, my Sunday dress, my pajamas, and pedal pushers out of the closet and flung them into the open suitcase along with my piggy bank and a few of my favorite books. To my surprise Mom didn’t stop me. She just stood watching. I closed the suitcase, grabbed the handle and marched to the door.
“Good-bye. I’m leaving and going far away.”
“Have a good time,” said my Mom. “But if you change your mind remember you can always come back home.”
I couldn’t believe Mom was really going to let me go. I trudged down the long apartment block hallway and out into the evening air. I plodded along the train tracks that ran behind our building dragging my heavy suitcase.
Soon I heard a train coming. We heard trains all the time in our apartment. Their clacking and chugging provided a kind of lullaby as I drifted off to sleep beside my little sister in our bed that folded out from the living room couch.
But walking right beside the track was different. The train cars hurtling by sounded like a herd of angry bulls charging past me on pounding hooves. The wheels screeched and I had to let go of the suitcase handle and plug my ears. I was breathless with terror and ran to hide behind a pile of coal beside the track.
And then I heard a dog barking. I was petrified of dogs. I tried to bury myself in the coal to hide. Finally, the dog was quiet but the sun was setting and I was shivering.
Dejected I turned back toward the apartment block, my face and hands and legs black from the coal. My cheeks had white streaks left from the tears I’d cried when I heard the dog. My mother had been watching out the window the whole time, but she acted surprised to see me when I opened the door.
“Why hello,” she said. “Looks like you need a bath.”
After my bath, she put white raisin cookies and chocolate milk on the table for a snack. She read my sister and me a story, listened to us recite our prayers, and tucked us into bed.
“Welcome home,” she said as she bent down to kiss me goodnight.