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The Encounter with Woolly Aliens
By Colleen Messina
  

1     Cheryl landed on a freezing planet where aliens were rampant. The strange looking creatures wore neon-colored, woolly outfits and had fluorescent tentacles on their heads. They walked noisily on huge, metallic feet with a knock-kneed gait and carried pointy weapons on their shoulders. Why am I here? Cheryl thought.
 
2     "Come on, Cheryl, we have to get our ski passes," John called.
 
3     "Coming," replied Cheryl. Her breath formed white tendrils in the icy air, and it hurt to breathe deeply. She had never skied before, and the entire place looked like the set for a sci-fi or maybe a "ski-fi" movie. Her friends had suggested getting up early to get a good parking place on the boulevard next to the lodge. They hoped to browse in the ski shop before the slopes opened.
 
4     Cheryl hoisted poles and skis on her shoulder with one hand and grabbed her backpack with the other. Her toes crunched tightly into her ski boots, and she discovered that the knock-kneed gait that looked so strange was the only way to walk. The day was perfectly clear, and the sky looked like peppermint blue frosting against the chocolate color of the ski lodge roof.
 
5     "I'm glad we got here early," said John. John was an expert skier. He was muscular and lithe, and he easily skied down the steepest "double black diamond" slopes.
 
6     "Yeah, it's not too far," said Simon. "How are you doing, Cheryl?"
 
7     "Oh, fine," she mumbled, feeling a slight loss of composure as she watched the confident skiers skim effortlessly down the slopes and stop sharply in a spray of frozen ice crystals. She realized it was naïve to think that she might impress John. Her friends thought it was an ingenious plan for John to give Cheryl a ski lesson, but now she was not so sure. Sixteen was much too old to learn this sport; five-year-olds did better. Maybe she should pretend to have an asthma attack or something. It wouldn't be an admirable thing to do, but Cheryl felt like she needed to do whatever it took to get home again. Then John smiled at her, and her fickle heart changed again. She'd try!
 
8     They trudged in silence for what seemed like hours. They bought their ski passes at the computer in the lodge. Cheryl paid close attention to what other skiers did. The friends then stashed their backpacks loaded with sunscreen, water bottles, extra socks, and snacks into the lockers and headed outside. At last, they were on their way to the ski lift for the beginners' slope.

Paragraphs 9 to 19:
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