by: Rebecca Taylor

There was a room full of choices but her mother had said she could choose just one. How could she decide which one would be her perfect pumpkin? She didn’t want just any pumpkin. She needed to have the best one. There was a lot at stake in the school’s pumpkin contest. There were prizes and they included money – money she could use to buy her bicycle – the one she kept looking at in the front of Thomson’s Store. She liked the flashy colours on the bicycle, its horn and the pompom decorations. She stared at the pumpkin, envisioning herself cycling around town. Imagine, she thought, a pumpkin could be your ticket to what you want most. Now, I need to choose that pumpkin; Mom isn’t going to wait all day either. There are orange pumpkins and ones with neat orange and green patterns. Maybe this is the pumpkin I need, one with patterns – maybe everyone else will choose a plain one and then I’d win, or maybe everyone would say that my special pumpkin was just too strange. I guess I have no way of knowing what will happen at the contest. I just have to try my best. There were huge pumpkins, she quickly dismissed those – too big for a school bag. She went to a pile of small pumpkins – easy to carry. She closed her eyes and picked one pumpkin up carefully feeling for the stem, so she didn’t knock over the whole pile. If she smashed the pumpkins, she would never be able to get her bicycle because she would forever be paying for the ones she’d broken in her pursuit for the best one. She opened her eyes and looked at the pumpkin in her hand and smiled. The pumpkin she had chosen had character. Its stem had a nice curve to it and the pumpkin had a nice shape to it. It was round in an oval sort of way. The pumpkin was mostly orange but had a few lines of green on it. She wondered if perhaps it was where the pumpkin had lain on the ground against its vine and hadn’t seen the sun.

“Rachel, are you ready?” called her mom from across the room.

“Coming mom,” said Rachel and she carried the pumpkin up to the cashier where her mom paid for it and then they left.

The pumpkin contest was three days later. Rachel had polished her pumpkin and tied green and orange ribbon around its stem. She decided that the pumpkin looked the best as it was. It didn’t need anything too fancy to show that it was beautiful. She hoped it would be able to compete with the other pumpkins in the natural pumpkin category. She was nervous as she put her student number in a tiny envelope and taped the envelope to the bottom of the pumpkin. The judging was top secret and she wouldn’t know the results until the very end of the day. She didn’t know if she would be able to concentrate, not knowing if she could have her bicycle.

Finally, there was an announcement on the loud speaker that the participants of the pumpkin contest could go to the gymnasium. Butterflies jumped around in Rachel’s stomach. She wondered if she’d win enough money to be able to get her bicycle, she wondered if she would get any prize at all. She wanted to win so badly but she knew that everyone who entered wanted to win which sort of created a no-win scenario when you took into account that some would win and some would lose. As exciting as the pumpkin contest was, there would always be some unhappiness surrounding it, but at least she had tried and she could be content in that. Rachel made her way through the crowd and she approached the table where her pumpkin was. There was a bright green sticker stuck to her pumpkin. There was a number 3 written in glittery marker on the sticker.

“Congratulations, Rachel,” said Ms. Marquette one of her teachers. “You did very well. Third out of ten is really good. I hope you’ll enjoy your prize.”

“Thank you,” said Rachel as she took the envelope that Ms. Marquette handed her. All of the winning pumpkins were going to stay on display at school for everyone to see. On the school bus on the way home, Rachel opened her envelope. Inside was fifty dollars. It wasn’t enough to buy the bicycle yet but it was a huge help. She would add it to the other money she’d been saving. Her dream ride was a step closer to becoming reality because of a pumpkin.