The Biggest Loss

by Leila, age 11
The Biggest Loss Leila is a rising sixth grader in Virginia, where she participates in choir and plays tennis regularly. She loves to play the guitar and likes to write fantasy and realistic stories. Her favorite book is "Wonder."

“My name is Kayla Carter, and my brother’s name is Matthew Carter. I have red hair and deep, ocean blue eyes. Matt has golden hair and chocolate brown eyes. He reminds me of my dad even though they look nothing alike.”


I walked the hallways of my new apartment house.

“So, how is it?”

“What?” asked my brother, rudely.

“The house. Do you like it?”

“It’s tiny,” my brother answered.

“I know, but that’s what we can do with the money we have right now.”

“How about you, Kay?” my mom asked hopefully.

I looked out the window to see the sunset melting into sky. I smiled at my mother and said, “I love it.”

My mom smiled back.


Chapter One: My Family and I

So, here I go.

My name is Kayla Carter, and my brother’s name is Matthew Carter. I have red hair and deep, ocean blue eyes. Matt has golden hair and chocolate brown eyes. He reminds me of my dad even though they look nothing alike. My dad died when I was five, when Matt was a baby. My mom has brown hair and my eyes, but deeper and with a lot of sorrow. Her smiles are rare now. My dad was a workman, and he would have gotten us a better house. But my mom is trying, and I respect that.

I love to paint. My brother’s a dancer. We hired a teacher for him that let us only pay five dollars an hour. She only does this because she’s my aunt. Anyway, my mom and I paint together on white cardboard. We use paints that we got from the Michaels’ that was shutting down. The same goes for the paintbrushes and paint palette.


Chapter Two: Getting Ready

I was sitting in my room, trying to figure out what to wear for a day that I’m not ready for. I picked out a T-shirt that says My Brother is an Animal, that I made with my fabric markers, and slapped on some blue jeans covered in paint. I was having some cereal and a glass of orange juice. My brother was wearing a T-shirt that says My Sister is a Princess, that I also made with my fabric markers, and some shorts. My mom had already gone for work. She worked in a factory and sewed cloth for babies. She also worked as an art teacher at my school.

“Matt, come on. Let’s go,” I said. “Matt. Matt?”

I walked around the apartment and found my my brother crying on his bed. “It’s not fair for you to have to live with me!”

“I love you, Matt, and I’m lucky to live with you. You remind me of Dad,” I said, trying to calm him down.

He hugged me. I hugged him back and whispered in his ear,“It’s all going to be okay.”

Matt smiled.

“Let’s go so we don’t miss the bus,” I said.

Then we left.


Chapter Three: Whispers

I was on a puke-yellow school bus that smelled of old socks. The windows were once clean, but only once. My brother and I sat next to each other and wondered if this bus had been inspected like the school claimed. I dropped my brother off. I started heading to my homeroom.

“Look, it’s the new girl.”

“Did you hear what happened to her dad?”

Shh! I think she heard you.”

Shut up!

“Good morning, class. This is our new student, Kayla Carter. She’s eleven,” my teacher said, but that’s not what I heard.

I just heard whispers and, of course, like all teachers, Mr. McBride couldn’t hear the whispers.

“Look, it’s the new girl.”

“Did you hear what happened to her dad?”

“What is she wearing?”

“She’s so weird.”

“I heard that she has a brother that’s six, and he’s in second grade. I guess it’s a family of nerds.”

“She’s in seventh grade, and she’s eleven.”

“That’s not fair.”

“I hate her.”

“I hate her! Why is she so smart?”

Then, Mr. McBride was smiling as the students all stared at me.

Ring! The bell rang. I walked around the school, wondering about the homework that was given to us when I felt a hand around my mouth and a whisper, “don’t say a word.”


Chapter Four: My First Beat Up

As I was thrown into a closet, I remembered that I had promised Matt I would pick him up. Then, I felt two girls pull my hands up. I felt a thud against my stomach. Then, I looked at the girl that hit me straight in the eyes. She had one dragon-green eye and a blood-red eye. Dirty blonde hair. Then another came, and another. It felt like forever when she noticed me looking at her.

“What are you looking at, you little wimp?” she said. “That’s what happens when you’re a nerd. Get used to it.”

And then she punched me in the eye. She kicked me a couple more times and told her minions to let go of me. I saw a glimpse of one of the other girls. She had orange hair and green eyes. I thudded on the floor and stayed in there for the rest of the day. I didn’t want to fight back because it was three against one, and it would be a lot worse.

When school ended, I walked to the school bus. For the first time in forever, I was crying.


Chapter Five: The Bed

My mom was still at work. When Matt and I were at home, I told him what happened. He promised he wouldn’t tell Mom because she had enough to worry about. I ignored my fear of tomorrow’s school day and went to do some chores. When I was making my bed, I remembered something. A flashback.

“Daddy! Daddy! Can you help me make my bed?”

“Yes, honey. Here, you fold it like this.”

The man with his red hair and green-brown eyes picked up the girl. He dropped her in the blanket and placed the blanket on the bed.

“And that’s how you make a be — hey, where’s Kayla?”

The man started looking around.

“Here, Daddy, here! Hee hee hee! Ha ha ha!”

“What are you doing there?” asked the man, and he threw the girl into the air.

He caught her, and they started to laugh.

And I laughed too.


Chapter Six: Lessons

I learned that I don’t have to be sad about my dad dying, because he died helping a baby. That baby survived, and now he lives with us. His name is Matthew, after my dad, because my dad died helping that little baby boy during 9/11. My dad even said goodbye to me when he went into that building. He knew he wasn’t going to survive, and he traded his life with a baby boy’s. The baby boy is strong. He’s a survivor, he’s sweet, he’s a dancer, and he’s my brother.

He… he’s Matt. His parents died in the 9/11 too, so we adopted him. I love him with all my heart.



I finally told my mom about the bullies and, surprisingly, I have never seen them since. My best friends’ names are Claire, Mary Ann, Dana, and Brooklynn. Matt has friends too, and my mom won one million dollars from a game show. Now we’re rich, and we got a bigger house. But we’re still at the same school. My dad is resting in peace in heaven, and we are like a happy family.  


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