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Priceless Gem, Stolen
Written By:   Keerthi Lakshmanan, 10 years old, San Jose, California.

So there I was, reading a book on my sunny porch steps, when I got whacked in the face with the Sunday's newspaper edition.

"Hey!" I shouted. "Get back here!"

But the paperboy had already sped off on his bike, leaving me no one to blame. Grumbling, I picked up the newspaper and went inside. My dad looked up as I plunked the papers on the table. He nodded and continued typing on his laptop. Since he wasn't reading it yet, I decided that I would read the comics section. After getting hit in the face with a bundle of paper, who couldn't use a bit of Garfield in the morning? I took the rubber band off. Everything fell apart, and all the pages cascaded to the floor. While I was picking up all those sheets, a certain one caught my eye. The Daily Ireland's headlines screamed, "PRICELESS GEM, STOLEN!"

Well, that was new. I skimmed over the text. It was something about a few master criminals who had stolen a rare, invaluable jewel. The picture featured a golden pedestal holding a perfectly formed pink gem. A snapshot from before the stone was stolen. It did look quite large, it wasn't all that surprising that some thieves had wanted to take the thing. The article ended with the police phone number in case you found the gem or the criminals. I doubted that I would be calling that number anytime soon.

It was evening, and the sun was beginning to sink. I liked looking at the sun during this time of the day. The sky was orange now, a magnificent color. Swirls of pink danced around and colored the clouds so that they looked like cotton candy. Beautiful.

I was staring at this phenomenon through my window when a faded blue pickup truck came rumbling down the road, throwing up clouds of dust. A tarp, tied down, covered the back of the truck's contents. The truck roared. The engine sputtered, and with a loud wheeze the truck stopped a few feet past my house. I didn't think it had stopped on purpose. With the awful noise it had made, I was pretty sure the truck's engine had given out.

Intrigued, I watched as two figures stepped out. Both were dressed identically, with black hoodies and pants. One was a man that I could see. The other figure had the hood up. Both kept their backs to the house, so I wasn't able to see their faces. The man opened the car hood. An orange box was in his hand. I wondered what could be in there. Such a strange little box... Then he opened it and took out a...I couldn't quite see. I shifted. It was a...a wrench. It was just a toolbox.

He began tinkering with the engine, constantly switching tools. The hooded figure stood still. It seemed to me that the person was carefully watching the man. It seemed like the person didn't want the man to do anything wrong, and so was making sure everything was working. Still...it seemed so odd. Something irked me. I watched the two for a few more minutes. Then I got bored, pulled out a book and began to read on my bed.

I'd say at least two hours had passed before I looked through the window again. I can read for that long. It happens when I'm reading a really good book, and I was reading something about mythical creatures—one of my favorite topics. The two figures were still there. The hooded figure was sitting down, and the man was still working on the engine. Seriously, how long could fixing a car take? Our car had broken down once, and my dad had fixed it in 15 minutes flat. Considering his expertise with cars, I dragged him outside to help. Our front door slammed shut as we walked outside.

Startled, the two looked up. The man dropped all his tools, and the hooded one jumped and placed a protective hand on the car. My dad smiled.

"Hello! Didn't mean to startle you! Just thought I could help. I know a thing or two about cars," my dad said.

"Ummm, no. I mean, thank you very much but, I think we are fine on our own," the hooded figure replied, and I could tell it was a young woman. My dad didn't really believe that, and neither did I. The man was getting nowhere with his tools.

"No, no. It would be my pleasure to help you out. Let me take a look," my dad said.

Before either of the two could stop him, my dad was standing in front of the car engine.

"Oh! You have a simple problem. Your—"

What came out next was a bunch of mumbo jumbo to me, but my dad stretched his hand into the engine and groped around. Then his face froze.

"Dad? What's wrong?" I asked. Something had happened.

The man jumped and pushed my dad, tearing him away from the engine, but it was too late. Grasped in my dad's fist was an object cloaked in a black blanket. The force of the blow caused the object to fly out of my dad's possession and into the air. I had a feeling something very special was in that blanket. The lady reached up and grabbed the object. Then she bolted towards the woods near my house.

If I was right about what that lady had in her hands, there was no way I was going to let it go. I took off right after her. But then the man took off after me!

We entered the woods. I knew this place well, and I veered off the path towards a shortcut that might get me ahead of the woman. I ran through the thick trees. I came to a forked path, and yes, I was ahead of that lady. Now how to capture them? I thought fast. There was this—

"Stop right there girl!" a rough voice ordered. The man had followed me through the shortcut! He looked tough and would have no problem overpowering me. I stopped right in my tracks. "Now, girl, whatever's in that blanket doesn't involve you. So—"

"I know what's in that blanket! You can't fool me!" I blurted. The man snarled.

"I was going to let you go. But since you somehow know our little secret, well, I guess it's come to this." On the last word he drew a knife from his pocket.

Me and my mouth. Talk, I thought. Delay. Do something!

"Oh. Well, uh, how 'bout we go back to my house and chat over a nice cup of hot chocolate?" I said desperately. The man took a step closer. "No? How about coffee? You like coffee?"

Luckily, I was saved from the man by his partner. She came hurtling through the trees and crashed into the man. Not very graceful if you ask me. Again, the gem was thrown into the air. This time, I snatched it and ran onto the left path. The two thieves ran after me. I jumped over a seemingly flat patch of grass. My pursuers, however, weren't as careful. They stepped onto that patch and tumbled into a six-foot deep pit.

I wanted to say some clever catch phrase then, but I couldn't think of anything, so I just kept my mouth shut. But now, I had to see for myself the beauty of the object that was still nestled in my arms. I took off the black blanket. I'm sure the gem was glowing. It was literally giving off light, and it was perfectly formed all right. It was flawless. Very big, too, and slightly bigger than my fist. It had such a beautiful color —a pale pink that wasn't pink, because it was almost transparent with other colors swirling in the center. The gem vibrated in my hands. A crack appeared on its surface. What was going on?

I stood there till the police found me. I'm sure they found the scene rather strange, with two screaming criminals in a pit and a girl wondering how a dragon’s egg could look so much like a gem.




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