This is part of my 366 day theme challenge. The theme for this short story is (shockingly) rivalry. Enjoy!

Written 2012.01.04.

Madeline skipped down the sidewalk, her excitement threatening to bubble over. Today was the first day of school! She'd packed everything together yesterday: pencils, paper, crayons, everything! She even made room for her favorite stuffed bunny.

Mommy said she was going to be in something called 'kin-der-gar-ten.' Madeline didn't know if that was good or not, but it sure sounded special! She hoped that she'd make lots of friends there.

There! She could see her new school now. It was so big! She ran as fast as she could to the door; she was just so excited! A nice lady met her at the door, and showed her where her class was.

Madeline knew the moment she walked into her classroom that she was going to love school. There were coloring books and dolls and blocks and there was even a toy kitchen!

"Why, hello there!" a smiling young woman told her. She was sitting in a circle with a bunch of other children. "You must be Madeline! My name is Ms. Hammonds, and I'm your new teacher. Please, sit down! We're each going to introduce ourselves."

There was an open space next to a brown haired boy, and she claimed it immediately.

Ms. Hammonds clapped her hands once. "Class," she began, "it's time to start! When I call your name, please stand up and introduce yourself. Zoey!"

A blond girl with pigtails stood up. "I'm Zoey. I'm five years old and I wanna be a singer!" she said.

"Oh, how wonderful!" Ms. Hammonds said. "Next, Thomas?"

Her teacher continued to call out names, until finally it was Madeline's turn.

Madeline jumped up, a big grin stretched across her face. "I'm Madeline and when I grow up I want to be a princess!" she shouted.

"Very good," Ms. Hammonds said with a smile, and Madeline felt her chest well up in pride. Ms. Hammonds thought she would be a good princess!

"And last, Tony!"

The boy sitting next to her slowly got to his feet. "My name is Tony. When I'm older, I'm going to be an astronaut."

"An astronaut?" Ms. Hammonds asked. "How brave! Your parents must be very proud of you."

The boy, Tony, nodded, and sat down again.

Madeline was outraged. Ms. Hammonds was nicer to Tony than she was to her! Just because he wanted to be a stupid astronaut! She turned to the boy and mustered up the meanest glare she could.

Tony saw her glare, and then smirked at her! Madeline got even angrier. What a meanie! She told herself that she'd make Ms. Hammonds like her more than that dumb Tony, no matter what!

"Ms. Hammonds, I'm done," Tony said, holding up his finished drawing.

"Good job!" she said.

Madeline held up her drawing as well. "I'm done too!"

Her teacher took her picture, and her eyebrows raised a little. "Madeline, a fantastic beach! You even took the time to draw a starfish. Well done!"

The moment Ms. Hammonds turned around, Madeline stuck her tongue out at the other boy. Hah! That'll teach him!

Tony frowned.

"Class, does anyone know what three plus four equals?"

Madeline's hand shot into the air. "Nine!" she called out eagerly.

"Close, but not quite," Ms. Hammonds told her, before calling on someone else. "Tony?"


"Very good, Tony!"

Tony smirked at her. Again.

Madeline fumed.

Recess was almost over, and Madeline was having the best time ever. She'd already played on the swings, crossed the monkey bars, and went down the slides! She was having so much fun, she'd nearly forgotten about Tony the meanie-head.

A loud ring echoed throughout the playground, and Madeline saw all of her classmates run to the classroom door. She frowned; that meant recess was over. But she was having so much fun!

She started running towards the door as well, until she saw an abandoned soccer ball lying under the slide. Someone must have accidently left it there! She grabbed it, and ran to put it away.

When she got to the toy bucket, she saw that Tony the meanie-head was there too. She ignored him, throwing the soccer ball into the bucket, until an idea struck her.

"Let's race to the door!" she said. Then she'd finally prove that she was better!

Tony the meanie-head sighed. "Fine," he agreed.

"Last one's a rotten egg!" Madeline cried, and the two sprinted to the door.

Madeline ran faster than she'd ever ran before, until her legs started to hurt. But she wouldn't slow down! She had to beat Tony!

She turned around the corner, and saw that there were no other kids standing next to the door. Oh, no! They were late! It's a good thing they were racing.

With a last burst of speed, she slammed her palms against the door. She'd won! She'd beaten Tony!

She turned around so that she could brag, but Tony wasn't behind her. He was all the way at the corner, and he was crouching. Why was he crouching?

Even though she knew that she was already late to class, her curiosity won out, and she ran back to the corner. When she got closer, she noticed that Tony was holding one of his knees. There was something red dripping down his leg.


"You dummy!" she shouted at him. "Why'd you have to scrape up your knee?"

Tony glared at her. "I didn't mean to," he argued. He tried to stand up, but he could only take a few steps before he knelt down again. "It hurts…"

His knee looked really bad! Without a second thought, Madeline shrugged off her jacket, and held it out to him.

"Here! Put this on your knee, and wait here! I'll get Ms. Hammonds!"

She bolted back to the classroom door, and swung it open. All of her classmates were already seated.

"Madeline, you're late!" Ms. Hammonds scolded her.

"I'm sorry!" she said. "But Ms. Hammonds, you have to come outside! Tony hurt his knee, he's by the corner!"

Ms. Hammonds' eyes widened, and she ran to her desk "Oh, dear," she fretted. "Let's see, the first aid kit… Ah! Here! Class, please wait in your seats until I return!"

Madeline waited anxiously in her seat, tuning out the noise of her classmates' chatter. Was Tony okay? Ms. Hammonds sure was taking a while. What if Tony had to go to the hospital? What if Tony died?

Her fears were abated, as at that moment the two of them returned. Madeline saw that Tony had a big white patch on his knee.

"Alright," Ms. Hammonds said, silencing the children. "We need to get back to work! Everyone, please take out a pencil!"

Tony sat down next to Madeline, and didn't speak for a few moments.

"…thanks," he said, and handed over a pink bundle. "Here's your jacket back. I didn't want to get any blood on it, so…"

Madeline held up her jacket, which was as clean as it had been when she'd taken it off. He didn't want to get it dirty? That was… really nice! Maybe Tony wasn't such a meanie-head after all!

"You're welcome!" She smiled brightly. "Just don't trip again!"

Tony smiled. "I won't," he promised.

"How was your first day of school, sweetie?" Mommy had asked later that day.

"It was the best! I made a new friend!"