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Photo/Provided by family Young Author’s State winner, Natalie Chapman pictured with NGRESA Executive Director, Dr. Steve Miletto.

Natalie Chapman wins Young Author’s State Writing Competition

            Natalie Chapman, a 3rd grader at Harmony Elementary School, won the state Young Authors Writing Competition. Her narrative title “Because of the Choppers” is a creative story about humanity’s impact on the environment, and was inspired by her love for animals. Chapman notes her reaction when she learned she won state.

            “I was kind of surprised because I hadn’t really written many stories before,” Chapman said.

            Despite her youth, she proved her talent in elementary school creative writing. Her favorite subject is English and she wants to be a detective when she grows up.

            Natalie’s teacher, Wendy Soulimiotis comments on her hard work and talent in reading and writing.

 “She’s fantastic. She goes above and beyond in everything, and soaks up everything I say,” Soulimiotis said.

            Below is an excerpt of Natalie’s story, “Because of the Choppers.”

Because of The Choppers

            VROOM! CRASH! CHOP! BANG! The sounds sent the birds flying off their perches, melting into the clear blue sky. A giant oak tree fell. It made the dust fly up, causing me to cough. A bird’s nest had been nestled in a hollow space in the trunk. The eggs that had been laid in the crude nest had split and broken, the yellowish yolk trickling out in tiny droplets, falling and hitting the ground in puddles. My tongue slurped up the glittering liquid. It tasted salty and wet. This happened every day now. Each afternoon, four or five men dressed in scarlet vests came to the forest and knocked down trees. It was very sad. I had lost my home because of the Choppers.

            A few weeks ago, on a chilly night, I woke up to a crashing sound, and before I knew it, I had been kicked out. My eyes glowing in the reflection of the monstrous headlights of the bulldozer, my paws scrambling for something to hold on to, I fell. The next morning, instead of waking up to comfortable leaves, and the fresh smell of walnuts, what met my eyes was a horrifying sight. Smoke filled the air. All the tin cans, bottle caps, and other shiny objects that I had collected were scattered. Also, worst of all, my cozy home was being chopped up. Two men were holding hand saws and cutting my tree. “Gee, Sam, just look at all this junk!” The first man pointed at my treasures. “I wonder what lives in here,” “Lived,” I thought. “I will never live here again.” With that last look, a very sad racoon limped away to start the life of a scavenger.

Ever since then, I have been on my own. I’ve scavenged. Some nights my stomach has been empty. More and more animals have died from starvation. Because of the Choppers. One rough night, when I couldn’t find food, I awoke. My starving stomach screaming, I wandered out of my small sticks-and-leaves bed. I sniffed the air. A salty smell awoke my dulled senses. Fish. I was sure of it. I followed my nose to a silvery can, pale in the moonlight. I scampered towards the tin. The scent increased, making my sensitive nose twitch and wiggle. I crawled into the opening between a fallen tree and the food. While licking the salty morsels out of the can, I felt a piercing pain in my left ankle. It felt like an alligator clamping its deadly jaws on its prey. I realized that I had been trapped. Growling, snarling, and snapping, I realized how I had been trapped: I had kept my leg outstretched from the cage. I had heard of these traps. They had food in them. The food lured the animals into the vicious trap. A yell interrupted my thoughts. “Helen, we’ve got one!” A woman called. The person that the woman had addressed as Helen jogged over. “But, Hilda, she’s hurt!” Helen exclaimed. Hilda tip-toed over to the trap. I peered at her through the eyes of a helpless creature. When she opened the cage to let my leg loose, I thanked Hilda with one of those understanding animal motions. While I curled up in the tiny cage, Helen carried me over to a car with painted letters on it. After setting my cage in the trunk, the women climbed into the broad vehicle.

THUMP! CLANG! The van stopped moving. I saw the trunk open as tiny rays of light crept in. “Welcome to your new home, girl,” Helen said. They carried my trap to a swinging door, then stopped.

“Hilda, Helen!” A man called. “I see we have a new resident.”

“Yes,” Hilda replied. The man led us to a room with crates and dazzling white walls. I read an advertisement; it said: HURT OR INJURED ANIMAL? COME TO JASPER ANIMAL RESCUE CENTER. Call: 770-673-3093 for information. While I examined the sparklingly clean space, Helen did something to my leg. She bent it, flexed it, and, finally, came upon a decision.

“Hilda, she needs surgery,” Helen said.

“Let’s see,” Hilda replied, calmly walking across the room. She ran a thorough inspection over my leg, pushing, pulling, and bending.

“You’re right, Helen,” Hilda confessed. “She needs surgery.” Tears filled her eyes. “Let’s take her to the surgeon.”

The surgeon was a kind, respectable young man, but I seem to remember one thing about him: he blended into the room. He had a positively blinding smile, a mask as white as snow, and a whole outfit of pure white. His pale skin camouflaged, melting into the walls. The man, whom they called Dr. Youngblood, spoke in a gentle and soothing way. “Don’t worry, girl, this won’t hurt,” his voice calmed me, causing me to allow him to put a disgusting, putrid-smelling substance down my throat. The room blurred. Everything sounded as if it was a thousand miles away. In a few seconds, I fell asleep.

After the surgery, I woke up in a comfortable crate full of blankets. Now, I live in that crate. I hope that after this story, you will remember my life changing experience. I also hope that that never, ever happens to me again!

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