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First Place, Nonfiction, Grade 7-9: The Roof

Danielle Garten

It was the beginning of my kindergarten year, and I had just been invited to one of my first sleepovers. It was also the very first time I would be visiting my friend Brenna’s house, and I was ecstatic. I had spent the late summer evening packing everything I would need, and stuffing it all into my magenta overnight bag. I looked down at that bag as the car stumbled over a speed bump. Being a kindergartener, going to a sleepover was one of the more exciting points in life, up in the same ranks as ice cream and Christmas. When the car pulled up the steep, bumpy driveway, I felt both nervous and eager. I couldn’t wait to see the inside of the house. For some reason, houses have always fascinated me. I always love exploring one for the first time, getting to know every room.

The car pulled to a fast stop and I hurriedly undid my seat belt. I stepped out of the car, into the warm evening air. The house was a creamy whitish color, with two floors and a garage that was covered with a flat roof. A sturdy tree stood tall in the front, with decorative white flowers covering the upper part of it, and perfect branches for climbing. The well-kept lawn was green and littered with patches of flowers.

I was excited to see my friend and her parents on the inside of the house, and I received a warm welcome from her chocolate brown dog, Sadie. The evening faded into night time all too quickly, and soon we were climbing reluctantly into bed.

As her parents shut the door to her room, I gazed out the small window into the darkening night. The window looked out onto the roof that covered the garage. It would be fun to go out there, I thought, and quickly voiced this opinion to Brenna, only trying to make conversation.

“We could.” she whispered back, grinning excitedly.

“How?” I asked, sitting up. I had always wanted to go on a roof, but my parents would never let me.

“We could sneak out the window,” she sat up and began to turn the lever by the window.

As it slowly creaked open, excitement began to build inside me. Being a kindergartener, this was one of the more adventurous things in life. More adventurous than sneaking out of your room for candy at night, or hiding from your parents when they come to pick you up from a friend’s house.

The window was completely open now, and Brenna had easily removed the screen.

“Let’s go.” she said, standing on the bed and throwing her legs over the window frame. She jumped down with ease, and I did the same.

Wow. I was on the roof.

The night air was cool. There was no breeze, and it was completely and beautifully silent. We stood there for a moment, not saying anything, admiring the feeling of being up here. Then we began to walk around, standing by the edges and looking down at the grass below. After a while I noticed something. There was a little ledge a few feet above the roof. It had light brown bricks, and I realized those were the same ones that were on the roof of the house. Not the one we were standing on, but the one higher up. The one that pointed in an upside-down V shape, that towered above the property. That’s when I saw that this little ledge was connected to the big roof, like a little gateway to another world, to another adventure.

“Do you think we could get on that ledge?” I asked Brenna. She turned to me, looked where I was pointing, and crossed to it with wide eyes.

“You mean go on the roof?”

I nodded.

To my disappointment, she headed back to the window that lead to her room. “Can you help me up?” she asked. After I helped her in, I was wondering how I was going to get back in, when Brenna returned through the window holding a stool. Excitement returned to my stomach when I realized what she was up to, and I gratefully followed her onto the ledge, using the stool to do so. Slowly we hiked higher and higher up the roof, feeling nervous, excited, and afraid all at the same time. When we reached the top, we stopped and once again took in the view.

We could see the entire property, and the neighbor's property. It was all laid out in front of us to see. And we were on the roof! By now, we had voiced our opinions on the magnificence of this feeling. I was looking around, when I realized that there was some sort of chimney.

“Shh,” I said worriedly, putting a finger to my lips. I pointed to the chimney. “What if your parents can hear us through that?” We hurriedly rushed back down the roof, back to the ledge, onto the garage roof, and back through the window. Her parents were nowhere to be seen.

“Should we go back to sleep?” she asked. We both knew the answer to that.

We were back on the top of the roof in less than a minute, and we couldn’t help but to talk about it. Being up here, especially at night, was such an interesting feeling. Once again, I pointed out the chimney situation, and once again, we rushed back to Brenna’s room. This continued a few times, with us giggling, and ducking every time we saw a car pass.

“I wonder if they heard us now.” I said yet again, peering suspiciously at the chimney. Yet again, we sped back down the roof, thinking we were going to climb through that window and possibly go to sleep, or maybe sneak out again, but I knew something was wrong when Brenna stopped short, one leg through the window, the other about to jump off the stool. She plastered a hopeful smile on her face.

“Sorry?”

Her parent’s expressions remained shocked and disapproving.

Being a kindergartener, this was one of the more disappointing points in life, like being

caught trying to sneak out for candy, or being dragged away from your friend’s house after trying to hide from your parents.


By Danielle Garten