For Children

Henry Eisenbeis

Jonah's Move

5th & 6th Grade Prose Honorable Mention

Jonah is a twelve-year-old boy with black hair, honest eyes, and quick feet who lives in Manhattan. Jonah came from Spain and had to move to Manhattan because his father got a job in New York. Jonah felt very scared of leaving Spain, and he worried that he wouldn’t make friends in a new country. Most of all, his very favorite thing in life was soccer, and he had heard that, in the United States, they don’t play a lot of soccer. Jonah knew that Americans liked baseball and football, but he didn’t even know how to play those sports. What if he didn’t make any friends? What if never got to play again? What if he was never happy again? At home in Spain, Jonah was the best soccer player in his whole school. He was so good that he didn’t even have to try to make friends. People just wanted to be with him. When Jonah found himself in Manhattan, he couldn’t imagine what to do, or how to make any friends at all.

For a couple of weeks, Jonah was miserable and very angry with his dad for making them move. He went to school, kept to himself, and then went home and spent all his free time in his room, looking through his soccer magazine collection. He felt that life would never get better, that he would never play soccer again, never have friends again, and it was all his dad’s fault. It was hard. He felt terribly alone. The only thing that gave him hope was his dream of one day, returning to Spain and being reunited with all his friends, and playing soccer again. He dreamed of ways to go home. He imagined taking a flight all by himself, or miraculously finding his dad a new job back home. Olé! His friends would say.

One Sunday afternoon, Jonah’s dad, who was feeling guilty for causing Jonah so much pain, knocked on his door and said, “Hey Jonah, want to go to Central Park and kick the ball around?” This made Jonah feel a little less angry with his dad. So Jonah said, “Okay, let’s go.” They put together a little picnic of hamburgers and orange juice, grabbed their soccer ball and headed to Central Park.

It was a sunny spring day. The birds chirped to the beat of Jonah’s dribbling. Jonah and his dad walked along, looking for an empty area in which to play. They found a nice green open patch, with plenty of room, east of a blossoming cherry tree.

Jonah began by passing the soccer ball to his dad. Right before the ball got to his dad’s foot, three boys approached them and asked if they could join Jonah and his dad. For an instant, Jonah felt confused. He couldn’t quite believe what the boys had said. Had they just asked to join him playing soccer? Right there, in New York City, in Central Park, with his dad, was Jonah really meeting American boys who wanted to play soccer with him? At first, Jonah was speechless. There was an awkward silence during which Jonah’s dad looked at him excitedly as if to say, “let’s go for it, okay?” Jonah nodded in agreement. Jonah’s dad understood, turned to the boys and said, “Sure, have fun!”

Before he knew what had happened, Jonah was playing soccer, and had made new friends, who happened to be exactly his age. To Jonah’s surprise, Alexander, Lancelot and Noah weren’t half bad at soccer. In fact, they were exactly half as good as Jonah was, and Jonah was really good! But more important than how good they were at soccer, they turned out to be good friends, who introduced Jonah to a bunch of other New York City soccer players. From that day forward, Jonah decided he liked the United States, and also decided he could like his dad again.