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The following essay written by a grade 12 student won a UBC Essay Competition.
Read the essay and complete the assignment on effective use of language.
And be sure to throw this junk out, too, my mother says to me as she throws
something at my feet. Ah, junk. I sigh. This is a painful moment for me, the junk
connoisseur. Today is spring cleaning day, and I am being forced to purge my
I bend down and pick up the object that my mother has so unceremoniously
hurled from my crowded closet. Its a small boxcar, old and black, giving off a dull sheen,
one side scratched and dented from an accident long ago. I sit down on my bed and
stare at it. I see my mother give a puzzled frown as I break into a wide grin.
This little toy, nothing more than piece of junk to my mother, is a treasure to me. I run
my fingers over the dent in its side as I am transported back to when it came into my
It was Christmas, and I was six. On Christmas Eve, I had gone to bed with
visions of sugar plums and Barbie Dream Houses dancing in my head. The object of my
desire was a three foot high dollhouse. replete with all the trappings of 1980s style
excess. That night I went to bed, fully expecting to spend the next morning celebrating
the milestone of Barbies moving into her first home.
Crash, boom, thud! That was the sound of my hopes, tumbling down. For the
package I had ripped open in such feverish haste was not a dollhouse with his and
hers vanities. It wasa train set!?! What could my parents have been thinking? At
the tender age of six I had not yet heard of terms like gender neutrality.
Miserable, I started at the worthless piece of junk in front of me and silently
cursed my parents. Then, suddenly, I saw the look on my brothers face. Distracted
from his own gifts, he was staring at the train set, his cheeks slightly flushed, his mouth
slack and his eyes all aglow as they stared soulfully at my gift. He had the air of first
love about him. Choo-Choo Deluxe, he read off the box, his mouth curling lovingly
around the syllables.
Abruptly, possessively, I put my arms around the box. He stared at me, his eyes
blinking, his face twitching and he was forced to avert his gaze, while inside he was
seething with jealousy. He was smitten.
And he wasnt the only one. Word carried fast around our neighbourhood, and
soon we had a gaggle of young hopefuls on our front stoop, hoping to get a chance to
play with the monster train as it was being called, since it filled up almost all of our back

First, however, we had to get the stamp of approval from Tirath, our
neighbourhood sage. He could make or break somethings reputation by the strength of
his proclamation. An expectant hush fell over our gathering as a place was cleared for
him to inspect the train. Sweat glistened off my brow and my body was twisted into a
tight knot of anticipation. What would be his verdict?
Tirath slowly turned around and we all leaned forward to hear the pearls of
wisdom falling from his mouth. This is a good one, he said, its big. Oh, the elation!
The trickle of children outside our door soon turned into a torrent. I, convinced
that now was the time to display my irresistible wit and charm, stood by and yelled
instructions. And the train, once my reviled piece of junk, was now my revered trophy.
But, alas, after having drunk up all this success I was left with a bitter taste in my
mouth. One typical cloudy afternoon, the children were gathered at my house, while I
sat, oblivious to the weather, basking in the warm glow of contentment. This mood was
soon broken, however, by Tiraths bursting into the yard.
Hey! he yelled. Sonnys dad bought him a trampoline! the results were
immediate and thunderous. The kids galloped off, leaving me trampled in their wake.
So it had come to this. Friends! On that day, I discovered the depth of evil that could
lurk in six-year-old souls.
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and I turned my fury onto the source of
all my troubles: the infernal choo-choo. I didnt even want you in the first place! I
yelled as I promptly kicked it against the wall.
I remember all this as I sit and finger that large dent I made. The train had to be
put out of commission that daya little accident, I told my mother, you really cant trust
those neighbourhood hooligans.
As I look down at the little piece of junk my mom has thrown to me, I realize
now as I realized then that value is in the eye of the beholder. I pick up my precious
train and put it back in my closet.
SCORE OUT OF 6: _________
Reasons for your score from the scoring guide.