Twists and Turns

Stone Soup Editors' Notes  /   /  By Gerry Mandel
Stone Soup Magazine
May 2019

What makes a story interesting? Yes, it could be fun to read a story about a girl who spends two enjoyable weeks at summer camp, plays some archery, makes a few friends, and then goes home. But how much more interesting is it when those two weeks include a secret, two lies, a false accusation, a confession, and a mystery? Twelve-year-old Tatum Schutt wrote My Grandmother’s Earrings, the featured story from the September/October 2014 issue of Stone Soup. The story is full of interesting twists and turns. We want to keep reading to find out how it will all turn out.

Cicile is the narrator of the story. Her beloved grandmother died recently, but Cicile doesn’t want anyone at camp to know because she doesn’t like to be pitied. She swears her archenemy, Jess, to secrecy before they both leave for camp. Jess agrees, but she can’t resist teasing Cicile at camp about her “old-fashioned” earrings. Cicile admits to the other campers that the earrings are from her grandmother, but, determined to keep her secret, she lies and says she doesn’t like them.

The next morning, Cicile is frantic when she can’t find the earrings anywhere. She breaks down and tells her cabin mates the truth. But where are the earrings? Everyone thinks Jess must have taken them. Jess denies it and suggests that perhaps Cicile’s grandmother’s “ghost” took them. Cicile’s new friend, Nicole, speaks to Cicile privately, saying it must have been Jess. Then, on the last day of camp, right before she drives off with her parents, Nicole hands Cicile a note. She confesses that she is the one who took the earrings. The note tells Cicile where to find them and begs for her forgiveness. All is well, almost. Next to the earrings, taped to a bed frame, is a tiny bottle of her grandmother’s perfume. Come to think of it, Cicile caught a whiff of the perfume on the very first day of camp. Was her grandmother somehow watching this story unfold all along?

The story ends with this mystery, as well as some other unanswered questions. Will Cicile be able to forgive Nicole? Will she patch things up with Jess, now that she knows Jess was not lying? We’ll never know for sure, and maybe it’s better that way. The story leaves us with much to think about. It draws us in and makes us wonder how we would have acted in a similar situation. Is it always better to tell the truth, or are there times when it’s OK to lie? Should we be careful not to accuse someone of a wrongdoing when we don’t have proof? Can we forgive a friend who is truly sorry for her actions?

Think about Tatum’s story the next time you sit down to write. Ask yourself, what would make my story more interesting? How can I create believable characters? Real people make mistakes. Sometimes they regret their actions. Take us along with you as you explore the twists and turns that make life (and stories) interesting.


Gerry Mandel
About the Author

Gerry served as editor and co-director of Stone Soup for more than 44 years, from its inception in 1973 through the publication of the July/August 2017 issue.

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