Monsters of Habit, by Evelyn E.

Scholastic Arts and Writing Awards 2010, National Gold Key 

Intense rays of sun

Scald the tops of our heads

As we sit in a haphazard circle

On bubble gum covered concrete

 

I stare at the grimy trashcan in front of me

And notice the patch of grass

Two feet to my right

 

I gaze longingly at the lush lawn and shady sycamore tree

Only a couple of yards away

I wonder why we sit here day after day

 

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday

We flock to the trashcan

Atop the red stairs

Like senseless sheep

Summoned by the lunch bell

 

Thirty minutes suffered in beating sunshine

Heat radiates up from the unsanitary cement

My eyes squint

My brow sweats

My frustration mounts

 

An advocate for change

I make my case for a new lunch spot

“Let’s give the grass under the shady tree a chance”

Yet unbendable friends complain of potentially wet bottoms

And stubbornly hold their ground

 

Huddled in a circle

Sack lunches scattered about

They refuse to break free of

Their comfort zone

 

It’s a paradox to me

How this concrete “comfort zone”

Could be so

Uncomfortable

 

Obstinacy is perplexing

Though a cool, grassy location

Lies uninhabited

Mere steps away

They will not budge

 

It is their daily ritual

Prized territory

Hard, dead ground

Hot, burning sun

Security blanket

Their monotonous existence

 

Fear of the unfamiliar

Feeds their doubts

Kills their willingness

To give change a chance

 

Noticing my apparent annoyance

As I ponder human nature

A friend says sheepishly

“What can I say, we are creatures of habit!”

 

Disinclined to part from peers

I forfeit my campaign for now

And trudge defeated

To the trash can

Again and again

 

A school year slips by

Summer comes to a close

The first day of school arrives

Whispers of CHANGE blow

Through the autumn air

As I give rise to a hope

 

A new day has donned

An opportunity to start afresh

And claim a new lunch spot

I boldly enter the quad

 

My smile fades

Hope dissolves

As I glimpse my friends

Encamped by the trashcan

Atop the red stairs