It Only Happened Once

Submitted into Contest #37 in response to: Write a story about a valuable object that goes missing.... view prompt



I was sitting on the two-seat caramel couch while my feet slid across a creme, light turquoise, and tawny brown flower-designed carpet. My attention was on the 50-inch t.v that was housed on top of a clear two-tier entertainment center. The glorious smell of my mom’s cooking filled the air. My sister was sitting at the dining room table, where she had built her command center consisting of two monitors, a keyboard, a mouse, and her agenda. Jubilee, my six-year-old niece, had just gotten out of school, and I could hear her dainty footsteps approach me. 

“Hey munchkin, what are you up to?” I asked. 

“I’m going to go shopping. See?”

Jubilee showed me her purse, which was mostly cadet blue except for the straps and flap; they were pretty watermelon pink with a heart in the center. She opened her bag, and I looked inside, seeing the cash she had collected from grandparents, aunts, and uncles. This was the one and only purse that contained Jubilee’s money. 

“I do see. Shopping sounds like fun.” 

Already walking away from me, Jubilee responded with a soft, “Yeah.”   

Jubilee walked into the kitchen that had a stainless steel fridge on the left as soon as you walked in. Next to the fridge was a black stove with a matching black microwave. Across, you will find a stainless steel sink with two cabinets underneath. Our pantry sits next to the sink with an ash finish, located throughout the rest of the kitchen cabinets. On the other end of the kitchen, there was a door that led to the patio, and in the corner, Jubilee’s toy kitchen could be found. I heard the rustling of Jubilee’s toys when my mom started talking to her.

“What are you doing?” My mom asked. 

“I’m going shopping.” 

“Do you have money?”

“Yes, look,” Jubilee stated.  

“Money! I want money!” 


Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Jubilee running towards me. I turned to look at Jubilee and saw my mom running after her. They ran around the living room like two dogs chasing each other. At one point, they started running circles around the dining room table and my sister.  

“TT, help me!”

Jubilee couldn’t say Tia when she was younger, so she called me TT; it stuck. I got up from the couch and ran over to Jubilee, hiding behind the walnut circle dining table. My mom was on the other side of the table, prepared to catch Jubilee. I picked up Jubilee, and we escaped into my mom’s room then I closed the door.

“Thank you, TT.” 

Suddenly we heard the rattling of the doorknob as my mom tried to get into the room, but ultimately she “couldn’t open the door.” 

“Aww man, I want that money,” My mom said.  

“Ha. Ha. You can’t have it.” 

I looked down at Jubilee, who was staring at the door, and I hovered my hand over her purse. 

“Grandma can’t have the money, but I can.” 

I “tried” snatching Jubilee’s purse. Jubilee was too quick for me and pulled her bag away, she then opened the door and took off running. As soon as my mom saw Jubilee run out of the room, both she and I started chasing Jubilee. We chased Jubilee around the living room, the dining table, and the kitchen. She laughed the entire time. After five minutes, we all stopped because my mom had to get back to cooking. My mom walked into the kitchen while Jubilee and I sat on the couch.

“TT I have an idea,” Jubilee declared.  

“What is your idea, munchkin?”

“Why don’t we take turns hiding my money?”

I thought about how I could kill two birds with one stone and try incorporating math into the game for Jubilee’s sake. 

“Sure, that sounds like fun. But first, let’s count the money, so we know exactly how much you have. That way, when we find the money, we can make sure we got it all, ok?” I asked. 


I grabbed the money from Jubilee’s purse and counted it out with her. By the time we got done counting, we had seen that Jubilee had sixteen one-dollar bills and one twenty-dollar bill. 

“If you have sixteen dollars plus twenty dollars. How much money do you have?”

Jubilee started at twenty then counted the one-dollar bills one by one.

“Thirty-six dollars,” Jubilee replied.  

“Yes, good job. Alright, so who is going to hide the money first?”


“I’m going to go to Grandma’s room and wait,” I said. 

“I’ll come get you when I’m ready.” 

I made my way to my mom’s room, where the first thing you saw was the window across from you. On the east side of the room was a queen-sized bed that had a baby pink comforter with matching pillows. Above the bed were three separate pictures of various flowers. Across from the bed on the west side stood an antique cherry wood dresser with a mirror attached. Next to the dresser was the closet with the t.v in between both. I laid down on the bed and closed my eyes, trying to relax. If it hadn’t been for the fact that I was playing with Jubilee, I would have knocked out right then and there. After a few minutes, I heard the same dainty footsteps as before coming towards me. I opened my eyes and looked down at Jubilee, who had her wavy dark chocolate brown hair in a ponytail.  

“I’m ready,” Jubilee announced.  

“Let’s go.” 

Sluggishly, I got off the bed and searched my mom’s room to see if I could find any money. Surprisingly I had found two dollars, one under the bed and one on the nightstand next to my mom’s side of the bed. I dragged my feet over to the door that connected my mom’s room to her bathroom. 

It was a decent-sized bathroom with an oval tub that was rather deep, and next to that was the toilet. Above the toilet was a three shelved cabinet, and next to that was the sink with a light gray granite countertop and mirror. Underneath the sink, you will find a double-doored cabinet. 

“There’s no money in here,” Jubilee said, taunting me.  

“Haha, oh ok, well, thanks for telling me.” 

“You’re welcome.” 

I walked into the living room that had two caramel couches in an L shape. The one closest to the dining room table seated two people while the one up against the wall seated three. Both couches have three cream-colored pillows, one on each corner and one in the middle. Across from the smaller couch is another door that leads out to the patio while across from the bigger couch sits the t.v. I made my way to the couches and lifted up the pillows finding one more dollar. Thinking that Jubilee hid money under the couches, I put my knee on the ground. Jubilee walked up to me. 

“TT, I didn’t put money under there.” 

“Ah, ok, I see,” I said.  

My eyes scanned the living room, Jubilee had a 23x21x29 inch movie theater between the couch and the door that led to the patio. It seemed like an excellent place to hide money, I checked it out and ended up with one more dollar. 

“You should check the Descendants Two book and the spiral next to the couch.” 


Jubilee has a Disney Princess dining table and her Descendants Two book resides there. I picked up the book and flipped through the pages until I found a dollar. When I was done, I waddled over to Jubilee’s green spiral that was on the floor next to the couch. I opened it to the first page. 

“I found one more dollar, yay! Let’s see how much money TT has,” I said.  

We sat on the couch to count the money. 

“If I have six dollars, how much more money do I need to have thirty-six dollars?”

Jubilee took the six dollars and started counting up to thirty-six.

“You need thirty more dollars,” Jubilee said. 

“Great job!” 

I gave Jubilee a high five, and we walked over to the circular dining room table that had four chairs adorning it. Each chair had a cushion, and, on the table, there were four dark grey placemats. I looked for money under the placemats but saw nothing. Yet, under the chair cushions, I found another dollar. On both the left and right sides of the dining table, some bookshelves have been built into the wall. I decided to go to the bookshelves, and Jubilee followed close behind. 

“I think there might be something on the bottom shelf.” 

I sat on the floor to reach the bottom shelf and found a dollar sticking out between two movie cases. 

“Let’s go to the Kitchen.”   

Jubilee took my hand and guided me to the kitchen then opened the ash wood pantry door for me, I bent down to look inside. In between two boxes of pasta, I saw a dollar popping out, and I grabbed it. I was then pulled to Jubilee’s kitchen, which is mostly chalk white but has ballet slipper pink trim. The kitchen contains a pantry, sink, dish rack, and washer. I opened the pantry and found a dollar, then I opened the washer and found an additional dollar. 

“We should go to mommy and I’s room,” Jubilee said already halfway there. 

“Wait, I would like to count the money I have first. Do you want to help me?”


Jubilee and I counted the money.

“I have eleven dollars, so how much more money do I need to get to thirty-six?”

Jubilee looked at me and shrugged her shoulders.

“Well, let’s see what’s thirty-six minus eleven? Why don’t we use our hands to count to thirty-six and find out.” 

We started at eleven and worked our way up to thirty-six. 

“You have to find twenty-five more dollars,” Jubilee explained. 

“That’s right.”  

At this point, I followed Jubilee into her room, which, as soon as you enter the first thing you see is the bathroom. As you make your way down a two-foot hallway, you can see the closet on the other end. To the left most corner was Jubilee’s bed that was covered in a bubble gum pink comforter. In the center of the room was my sister’s queen-sized bed with a coral, pewter grey, and eggshell white comforter that covered it. Next to my sister’s bed was her white desk, and across from the desk was an antique oak dresser. On either side of the dresser, there are two by three white shelves that contain six cubby holes each. This is where Jubilee keeps her toys. 

I decided to first look behind the door where I found a dollar. My gaze followed Jubilee as she made her way to my sister’s bed. As soon as I lifted the pillow, a dollar appeared. By this point, Jubilee had gone to her own bed. 

“TT, you should come check over here.” 

I walked over to Jubilee’s bed and looked under a couple of pillows where I found one more dollar. 

“If you go to the closet, you might find some more money.” 

As the light came on, I looked down and saw a dollar bill on top of Jubilee’s shoes in her shoe basket. 

“There’s more over here.” 

When I turned, I saw an open space between the toy shelf on the left side of the dresser and a coloring book that was leaning against it. I pulled out a dollar. Jubilee then took the dollar from my hand.

Her head tilted, and her eyebrows furrowed, “This isn’t the twenty dollars?” 

“No, was it supposed to be?”

“Yeah, I thought I put it in there with this one.” 

Jubilee bent down and pulled the coloring book away, but the area was empty.

“Food is ready!” My mom called out. 

“We have to go eat, but we will look for the twenty dollars when we’re done, ok?”


My mom and sister sat on the couch that seats three while Jubilee and I sat on the couch that seats two. As we ate our dinner, we watched Property Brothers. During commercial breaks, we each took turns talking about our days. When we finished eating, I washed my dishes, put them away, then looked for Jubilee. I found her sitting on her bed.

“Hey, do you want to go look for your twenty dollars?” I asked. 

“Yes,” she responded with a hint of worry. 

We went into my mom’s room and searched under the pillows, the bed, in the closet, on the nightstand, and in the dresser drawers, but the twenty didn’t turn up.

“Maybe we should go to the living room.” 

Jubilee and I walked into the living room and looked under the couches, the couch cushions, in the movie theater, and in the entertainment center. Unfortunately, we both came up empty-handed and decided to give the dining room a try. After minutes of looking under the placemats, the chair cushions, and the bookshelves, we were unable to locate the twenty dollars. 

“Let’s try the kitchen,” I said.  

I turned on the kitchen light and started looking through the drawers and cabinets while Jubilee searched her own kitchen.  

“Have you found it yet?” I asked. 


“Neither have I. Let’s try your room and see if we can find it in there.”  

We shuffled into Jubilee’s room and decided to split up. Jubilee was going to look through the closet, her mom’s bed, and the desk. I was going to check the bathroom, Jubilee’s bed, and the dresser. After twenty minutes of searching, we still couldn’t find it.

“Do you want to go ask grandma if she has seen the twenty dollars?” I asked. 


Starting to feel concerned, both Jubilee and I walked out of her room and over to my mom’s. I knocked on the bedroom door. 

“Come in,” My mom said.  

“Mom, have you seen Jubilee’s twenty dollars? We can’t find it anywhere.” 

“Oh no! I’m sorry, but I haven’t seen it, maybe your sister has.”

“That’s ok. I’ll go ask Cynthia, thanks anyway,” I said.  

“Good luck.” 

“Thank you.” 

As we walked out of my mom’s room, I closed the door, and we rushed back to Jubilee’s room. My sister was at her desk talking with her friends.   

With her head down and fingers interlocked, Jubilee walked up to my sister, “Mommy.” 


“Have you seen my twenty dollars?”

“No, Jubi, I haven’t,” My sister said.  

I moved to Jubilee’s bed and sat down, thinking about where she could have possibly put the twenty dollars. 

“Where was the last place you were before you went to tell me you were ready? Were you in the living room, the kitchen, your room?” I asked. 

“I was in my room.”

“Did you still have the twenty dollars with you when you were in here?”

“Yes,” Jubilee responded.  

“Alright, so we know that the money has to be in your room somewhere. Hmm, is it in the bathroom?”


“How do you know that?” I asked. 

“Because I didn’t hide any money in there.” 

Getting up from Jubilee’s bed, I nodded and kept thinking about where in her room she was when she hid the money.

“Is it in the closet?” I asked. 

“No, I only put one dollar in there.” 

Feeling defeated, Jubilee laid down on the floor in between her mom’s bed and the dresser. 

“Well, I thought it was in between my toy shelf and the coloring book,” Jubilee stated.  

Jubilee was silent, looking up at the ceiling fan pondering. Moments later, I saw her tiny little body shoot up. 



“I remember where I put the twenty dollars!” Jubilee exclaimed.   

“You do?”


Jubilee jumped up, and I watched as she ran to the toy shelf on the left side of the dresser. I saw Jubilee pull out the cubby from the bottom right corner. She took out some toys and moved others around. A moment later, Jubilee’s arm came out of the cubby and in her hand was the twenty-dollar bill. 

“You found it! I’m so happy for you munchkin.” 

“You see, I wanted to put the twenty dollars in between the toy shelf and the coloring book. But then I thought it would be too easy and I wanted to make it more difficult for you to find. Except I made it so difficult that even I couldn’t find it. Until now, when I remembered that I wanted it to be close to the toy shelf and the coloring book because I thought it was still a good hiding spot.” 

“Oh, ok then. Well, the important thing is that you found it.” 

“Yeah! Thanks, TT, for your help,” Jubilee smiled.  

“You’re welcome.” 

Jubilee gave me a hug, then ran off to get her cadet blue and pretty watermelon pink purse. She put the thirty-six dollars in it and looked up at me. I saw Jubilee’s dark chocolate brown eyes twinkle as she smiled from ear to ear.  

“Thanks for playing with me, TT.” 

“Of course.” 

We never played that game again. 

April 17, 2020 19:51

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Cam Croz
23:19 Apr 21, 2020

This story was very cute and I enjoyed it! The last sentence made me laugh. I was a little confused on the age of the main character, TT (Awesome names btw, I love rare names!) I just wasn't sure if she was around the same age as Jubilee or something. I assumed she was older though. As for your writing! It is very attention grabbing, and though I do agree with other comments on a bit of repeatedness, I found myself interested the whole time! Great job and keep up the amazing work!


16:47 Apr 22, 2020

Cam I just wanted to say thank you for taking the time to read my story and for giving me feedback! Thank you for pointing out the confusion on the ages, that wasn't something I had thought about. You were right about TT being older than Jubilee. It's good that you pointed that out because it gives me something else to improve on in the future! I'm really happy my last line is a hit, I was going for a laugh so I'm glad it worked! I'm also glad you liked the names and that I was able to keep your attention!


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Lee Mar
02:37 Apr 22, 2020

I really liked this story! It was very cute and would make a great children’s book. However, I would’ve liked for a conflict to be introduced earlier in the story. Jubilee wouldn’t necessarily have to lose the money earlier, though. You could’ve just had a different conflict take place in the beginning. Ex: Jubilee struggling to get the money in the first place. (Thank you for commenting on my story!)


17:20 Apr 22, 2020

Ashlyn thank you for taking the time to read my story and leaving feedback! I actually loved what you said and agree that having a conflict sooner would have improved the story. It would have raised the stakes. Thank you for pointing that out, that's something I can use in my next story. Also thank you for saying it would make a great children's book! That makes me really happy and is something I've thought about doing. Also you're welcome for commenting on your story! I really enjoyed it and look forward to reading more of your work! :)


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Imogen Bird
13:54 Apr 21, 2020

I'm so into a good last line and that one was great! Also the names were fab, I love Jubilee for a little kid, that's so cute! I have to agree with Harken, it does start to become a bit repetitive but you have a strong element of suspense that made me want to read until the end (If they will find the money, if someone else took it)


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Harken Void
20:30 Apr 20, 2020

Hmm, interesting game they played. You have good dialogue and your descriptions feel very real. Though I must say that the story dragged on a bit and soon became repetitive (finding the money, counting the money, finding the money, counting the money...). Also, I think you could do with a little less detailed descriptions, it felt like too much information being dumped onto me as a reader. I did like that last line, though. It said a lot about how TT and Jubeline felt about the game at the end.


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Sam Fisher
09:20 Apr 27, 2020

Hi Stephanie, well done posting your first story! I thought it was a sweet story, the relationship between Jubilee and Tia is really nice. You do well to describe everything in a lot of detail so that it's easy to picture the scene. I do think it's a little bit long - the pace of the middle section when they are finding all of the money is a bit slow. I think this would be great as a children's book with illustrations of the maths problems. Well done! :)


15:35 Apr 27, 2020

Thank you Sam for taking the time to read my story and give me your feedback! What you said about the middle section being slow was helpful. I will definitely keep that in mind for future stories. I'm glad you liked the story overall though and thank you for saying it could be a children's book. Hearing that it could be a book makes me very happy! Thank you for you encouragement Sam, I truly appreciate it!


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L. M.
02:20 Apr 24, 2020

That was adorable! Your characters' dialogue was so realistic, and the characters themselves were engaging. The physical details of the setting were so well done that I could clearly picture each place. It was like being there. What a charming tale.


03:50 Apr 24, 2020

Lara thank you so much for taking the time to read my story! I'm happy that you enjoyed it :) I'm thrilled that you were able to feel so engaged in the story. Also thank you for your kind words, I truly appreciate them! You're so sweet <3


L. M.
03:54 Apr 24, 2020

You're welcome! It was a fun, whimsical story to read.


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Ben-oni Blay
04:11 Apr 23, 2020

Keep up the good work, Stephanie.


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Ben-oni Blay
04:10 Apr 23, 2020

It is just incredible how you are able to create such a descriptive environment for the story. I could feel the relationship that existed among the family members even in the opening paragraphs. But, I think you could have introduced the main conflict in the early stages of the story to heighten the reader's interest.


05:39 Apr 23, 2020

Thank you Ben-oni for your feedback! I will definitely keep in mind what you said. It was very helpful and something I will work on in the future. I'm happy you were able to feel the connection between the characters. I'm also happy that you enjoyed my descriptions.


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Nora R
20:35 Apr 22, 2020

I really liked this story, great job! Very cute, and I've always loved the name Jubilee. Keep up the good work!


20:57 Apr 22, 2020

Thank you Nora for reading my story and commenting on it! I'm super happy that you enjoyed my story and that you thought it was cute. I'm sure my niece will be thrilled to know that someone loves her name. I appreciate your encouragement, you're very sweet!


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Izzie Q.
01:44 Apr 22, 2020

Wow, I am delighted that you suggested I should read this because it was so insightful and I loved how smooth your beginning and end of the story was! Fabulous job, friend, can't wait to see more! <3


16:55 Apr 22, 2020

Izumi thank you for reading my story and giving me your feedback! I'm happy that you enjoyed my story and that you thought I had a smooth beginning and end. I look forward to writing more stories and getting your feedback in the future. Thank you for the encouragement! <3


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Tammy Tsang
01:36 Apr 22, 2020

I like the story, it's very cute and was an enjoyable read. I pre-read some of the comments before finishing the story and someone mentioned the final line. That's definitely a great one!! However, the main issue I had with the story was that you described the rooms too much. Not every room the protagonist enters needs to be laid out to the tee. I understand you wanted to include descriptions (granted, you had great descriptors), but the reader can paint the picture in their mind as you lay out the action the protagonist takes in the room...


16:52 Apr 22, 2020

Tammy thank you for all of your feedback and for reading my story! Everything you said was incredibly helpful and it's definitely something that I will keep in mind in the future. After reading what you wrote, it made a lot of sense so thank you for taking the time to break it down for me. I truly appreciate it! It made me happy when you said that my story could be a good idea for a children's picture book. I actually took children's literature so I thought it was awesome that you felt that way and made me excited to possibly turn this story...


Tammy Tsang
19:05 Apr 22, 2020

Yay! I'm glad it helped! Best of luck with this contest, for future entries, and in one day turning this into a picture book!


19:31 Apr 22, 2020

Aww, you're so sweet, thank you! I wish you the best of luck with this contest and future entries as well! I look forward to reading more of your awesome works!


Tammy Tsang
21:01 Apr 22, 2020

Oh, I haven't submitted yet. I joined this past week and have finished a short to submit for the upcoming contest that ends this Friday. But thank you, nonetheless! I'm sifting my short between a few friends to proof and give their opinions before I submit.


21:20 Apr 22, 2020

I wish you the best of luck on this week's contest then! I think it's great that you're getting feedback on your short before you submit. I'm sure you'll do great and I look forward to reading the awesome story you submit!


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20:04 Apr 21, 2020

Thank you so much for your feedback Imogen it's something that will help in my next story. Also thank you for reading my story, I truly appreciate it! I'm happy that you liked the last line as well as the names. This was actually based on a true story.


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22:08 Apr 20, 2020

Thank you for your feedback Harken I truly appreciate it! I will keep what you said in mind to improve my next story. I'm glad you liked the dialogue and descriptions. The last line is my favorite so I'm happy you enjoyed that as well.


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