The Water, October 2012
Shannon’s story showed how essential something as simple as water can be. It had a great sense of place and immediately made the reader empathise with her main character. A great interpretation of the theme.
It’s 3:00am. I’m cold and tired but I must get up, what other choice do I have? The queues get so long, the extra waiting time can add another five hours to my chore.
I grab my things and trudge through the mud; my back throbs from the week’s work. My feet no longer respond to me, they plod along, following the path I’ve taken countless times before. As usual, I play a game to entertain myself as I walk. ‘If I had all the money in the world, I would buy…’
I start off with small things: a new pair of shoes for my daughter; a toy car for my nephew. But as I go along, they get bigger and more extravagant. By the time I’m nearing the end of my trek, I’ve brought a round the world voyage for my whole family and a house in every country. Yeah, I wish!
I slip and slide down the narrow pathway towards my destination. As I turn the corner, the creek came into view, luckily there’s no one there, I hold my nose as the familiar stench overwhelms me. It’s dirty, unhealthy and foul but I have no other choice.
One drop could kill me.
I have to take that risk-we can’t live without it. I fill up my bucket with the water; fingers crossed no one will die today and start my sixteen kilometre walk home concentrating hard so as not to spill my precious cargo.
Shannon, age 15 (247 words)
The Plant, September 2012
It was rumoured that the plant would give the person who ate it immortality.
The rumour began when a member of a tribe claimed to be over three hundred years old for he had eaten the precious petals from the Phoenixopia plant.
The plant was said to be vibrant blue with a centre as yellow as a newborn chick.
Many died in the quest for the phenomenal Phoenixopia or went insane trying to locate it.
The legend told of a mountain in the Afmizian Alps. The plant was said to be nestled between the rocks on the highest peak of the highest range.
Climbing to the plant was almost impossible because of the enormous altitudes. Yet Zimfa was no stranger to adventure: he was brave, bold and fearless. He was also ruthless in his desire for power.
The ascent was arduous. The snow fell like autumn leaves and the wind pushed and pulled at the explorer with its icy fingers. But he was determined. Immortality was his one desire.
When Zimfa finally sighted the wondrous prize, he was barely breathing. The flower of the Phoenixopia plant called to him like a siren calling to a sailor.
He grabbed the petals and began to tear at them with his teeth.
Instantly, he became rooted to the rock as his skin became flushed with vibrant blue and yellow. Petals bloomed from his face and leaves sprouted where arms once grew. He would live forever but not as a mortal.
Thomas, Age 12 (247 words)
The Fight, August 2012
Bethany’s story was something that took us back to our schooldays. It was a clever interpretation of the theme and one that had a lovely twist in its tale.
“Did you hear?” whispered Brian in the middle of French. “There’s going to be a fight after school!”
“Why do I care?” I muttered back.
“You will,” hissed Brian. “Come along.”
I sighed. “If I have to.”
I owed Brian a favour anyway, and if he wanted me to come along, I would. Knowing Brian, there probably wouldn’t be any sort of fight anyway.
“Did you hear?” whispered Jack in the middle of Biology. “There’s going to be a fight after school!”
“I know,” I muttered back. “Brian told me.”
“You should!” exclaimed Jack. “It’s important. Behind the bike sheds.”
“If I have to.”
I owed Jack a favour as well.
So after school I made my way to behind the bike sheds and found nobody. A stray piece of paper lay on the floor. I picked it up. There were words scrawled on it.
You owe us both a favour, it said. Wait here a few minutes.
So I waited a few minutes, and as I did, I saw a trail of red on the floor. I shivered, unwilling to wait any longer. Where were Brian and Jack if it had been them who had written the note?
I was about to leave when Mr Perkins, the deputy head, arrived.
“Fighting behind the bike shed!” he proclaimed. “Come with me to the head’s office!”
I hesitated for a moment and then followed him, because after all, I did owe them a favour.
Bethany, age not given (247 words)
The Witch, July 2012
Her jade eyes stared challengingly at me. There was a sharp edge to her stare, something almost menacing. Something unnatural. I was mesmerised by those eyes. A luminous green, shining like jewels set in crystal skin.
She smiled uncertainly, as if testing something out, but the smile didn’t fit her face. Crimson lips stretched uncomfortably over unnaturally white teeth – her smile a mismatched mess of red and white, of flesh and bone.
What was more a grimace than a smile quickly vanished and the icy stare returned. She lifted her chin slightly, and the small movement transformed her. She looked down on me haughtily. Standing tall, fearless, like an ice queen, she looked like someone no-one in their right mind would dare to cross.
But I knew better. I could see through those cold green eyes, through to the lost girl drowning somewhere beneath their depths. I could see the girl trapped inside, struggling to escape, to be herself and to be free of this cold, unearthly creature.
I reached my hand out towards the girl, wanting to offer her some consolation, some solace. Her hand reached for mine too. Our fingertips met in the middle, just as my hand felt the smooth glass of the mirror in front of me. It shattered beneath my touch, into a million tiny pieces. I stared at my hand, trying to understand this strange new power buried within me. I was not normal. I was wrong. I was a witch.
Catherine, age 14 (247 words)
The Circus, June 2012
Felix Bitterman wouldn’t live long. He’d always known this so never given it much thought, like a pensioner whose aware of, but not dwelling on, their imminent mortality. Short lives were expected in Felix’s family, so the Bittermans tried to compensate by living as wildly as possible. The exploits of one ancestor – who’d travelled the world with a mangy dog – were often recounted by Felix’s parents, who, in turn, chose their own whimsical existence as members of a circus troop.
Mr Marvolio’s Travelling Circus was one of the few of its kind, and Marvolio himself one of the few of his: a mysterious eccentric, towering over his performers. This air of mystery principally came from the fact that he never spoke to his troop. It was the delightful novelty of the circus that was his passion; Felix and the others mere accessories to it. If an acrobat perished during a daring stunt, or simply died of old age, Marvolio would just grumble that a replacement would have to be found.
Felix watched Marvolio’s enormous fingers adjusting the roof of the Big Top. He remembered an occasion when the circus had set up on a pier, and was struck by how closely the long nails resembled the cliff faces lapped by white sea. He longed to go back there, free from Marvolio. But if one year on Earth had taught Felix anything, it was this: people – even eccentrics – don’t expect fleas to have feelings.
Alice, age 15 (243 words)
The Book, May 2012
My name is Alice.
Inside I am 147 years old.
But outside I am still 7 and a half. Exactly.
Reliving my life over and over, still wearing the same blue dress that I was first created in. As pages crackle my life begins again and I get ready to relive the life I know so well. Because I am not real.
A character in a book will never be real. Not really.
My prison. I long to be free.
To fly, to run, to live.
Instead of being stuck in this hell.
Know one can truly know what this is like.
No one except me.
There’s no escape.
Making me feel enclosed. Claustrophobic
I don’t feel anything any more. Like a part of me has died.
I am not a person, just a piece of a giant jigsaw.
A single chess piece in a sick game, for others’ enjoyment.
I am meant to be in Wonderland.
That’s what Lewis wrote. Lewis Carroll, I mean.
That is what he promised.
He wrote it. Alice. In. Wonderland.
But I learnt long ago you can’t believe anything you read in books …
I looked down at the worn old book in my hands; I’d read it at least a million times before. I loved the feel, the look and the smell of this book. Alice in Wonderland. I sighed, contented, opened the front cover and began to read.
Isabelle, age 14 (238 words)
The Discovery, April 2012
Her first discovery, that she could fly, came quite accidently one Thursday afternoon. She’d been in a bit of a flap about her homework and could think of no better way to vent her anger than to flap her arms up and down in the air.
You can only imagine her consternation when she found herself swooping wildly above her house. At first her parents were furious, for she had left a tremendous hole in the ceiling but as she soared gleefully past the window they had to admit that there were benefits to be gained from their daughter’s new talent, if only that it was something new to tell the neighbours.
All in all, she seemed to be having quite a good time. She soared from rooftop to rooftop, then ricocheted off the satellite dish in a manner that would have been quite stylish had she not got her hair caught in a television aerial. Flushed with more excitement and exhilaration than embarrassment, she sat on one of the chimney pots and made friends with a pigeon called Mabel who seemed a little snobbish but friendly enough for they chatted for some time.
That was when she made her second discovery: as she leaned over the drainpipes, intending to smile at her father, who was prancing about with a camera on the front lawn below…
…she discovered that she was afraid of heights.
Elizabeth, age 15 (234 words)
‘The Ship’, March 2012
“Man overboard!” Echoed through the night. The waves tore at the ship, grabbing at anything they could find. Creaks and cracks whistled through the swirling air, as the ship fought a losing battle. The clouds had captured the moon, and stars had fled. The sea took a deep breath and ran, head first into the final battle. Cold, salty hands reached up and grabbed the mast and shook, furiously until its sail snapped. The crew were panicking and running around the deck like madmen, but the stinging fingers wrapped around their necks and soon swept them into its clutches. The ocean rushed to attack from underneath, and dug its nails into the wood until it splintered and cracked, and the ship let out a final breath as it plunged into the sea.
The morning glided over the horizon. Purple skies watched over the ocean, as it gently, innocently, ebbed and flowed, like nothing had happened. The sun released the moon from his capture, and searched for any signs of life; any lost souls treading-water. But there was nothing. Had she not heard the screams, she wouldn’t have suspected a thing. But she had, and there was nothing.
Nothing but a lonely lifeboat, bobbing helplessly upside down.
Sally, age 12 (207 words)