LIVINGSTON, NJ — Ebaad Siddiqui, a rising Livingston seventh grader, was recently selected as a finalist in the 2019 New Jersey Literacy Association (NJLA) writing contest.

According to Livingston Public Schools, only five winners were chosen from each grade level, ranging from kindergarten through eighth. Each received a certificate and had their narratives published on the NJLAA website.

Siddiqui’s winning entry, “Racing Against the Lightning,” can be read in its entirety below:

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Racing Against the Lightning

By Ebaadd Siddiqui

            The world was quiet, except for the patter of the raindrops hitting the pavement. I was staring through the window, passing the time. Minutes later, my mom walked into the room and asked, “Ebaad, could you bring me the clothes I hung to dry outside yesterday?” “Sure.” I replied. I wore my grimy mustard yellow raincoat, an “ancient artifact” of mine from innumerable weeks ago.

            I located the clothes through the thick fog that had formed. All of a sudden, a deep sound emanated from the atmosphere. The inky sky flashed a purplish glow and a burst of lightning slashed through it. I ran back inside, shut the door and leaned against it. As an eight year old, I was horrified of lightning and thunder.

            Since I was a kindergartner, I was frightened by the demolition the atrocious lightning produced. I had heard stories of people getting struck by lightning, plus whole fires created by them! Those moments were like logs, each story kindling the fire—my fear—causing it to grow. I would never tell anyone because they would’ve made fun of me, and my parents wouldn’t want to scare me! But how am I going to get the clothes without burning to a crisp? I thought as I breathed heavily.

            After ten minutes of thinking of ways to escape the job, I could only make the conclusion that I was going to have to bolt across the yard, grab the clothing, and race back. Today is the day I face my fear, I concluded. So when the thunder and lighting seemed to pause, I opened the door and stepped back. I then started a countdown. 3. 2. 1. I took a deep breath. Go.

            I dashed through the door and jumped past the steps. With each step I took, my foot sunk deeper into the mud! Finally, I made it to the clothing, grabbed it, and raced back. I’m going to make it, I reassured myself repeatedly. I was halfway there, when the lightning struck.

            Above me, the sky looked as if it was split in two. My heart skipped a beat then felt as though it had dropped to my stomach. But when I looked down, my feet were still carrying me forward! “The lightning didn’t strike me! It never would have!” I realized then that maybe all those stories were over exaggerated. I made it to the door and slammed it shut. “Thanks.” My mom replied as I handed the clothes to her. I couldn’t believe all those years of fear were gone by a path that I cleared in a minute.

            Over the past weeks, whenever lightning struck, I remembered this day, the day I faced my fear. I learned that if one wanted to face fears, they had to actually go out and accomplish it. Sitting around and thinking about it wouldn’t have helped anyone! That was the day when I raced the lightning, and won.

To read the entries from the other winners in Siddiqui's age group, click HERE