Form 8 Creative Writing
While all our Form 8 are currently deeply involved in exam preparation, gearing up for their Common Entrance week, I wanted to take the time to applaud two pupils in particular, who are still having to juggle CE classwork with school-specific entrance. This pair is of course Georgina, who has Oundle Scholarship Round 2 ahead, and Sebastian, who sits his Winchester entry exams this week. The enjoyable thing about helping Georgina and Sebastian prepare for their English exams, is that I really can say ‘off you go then… give me your very best shot’. While they have always been keen creative writers, it has been exciting to see the two of them work hard and embrace creative risk-taking along their journey. To wish them well with all their endeavours this week, I thought I would share three excellent pieces: one which sees Georgina take on the genre conventions of modern YA fiction, and two which see Sebastian continue to experiment with perspective and poetic expression. I know you’ll enjoy them.
I moved through the empty house, slowly examining my domain for the thousandth time. The kitchen was the same as usual, dirt-encrusted dishes in the plastic sink, and my brothers’ work spread across the table: highlighters, books, notepads. A Diamond Jubilee tin lay on the island, containing my mother’s cake. There was only one thing different to normal; mother was not here.
The dining room was desolate; no chairs were filled by the family or friends enjoying a meal together. I searched under the table, but there was no one there. Only the remaining stale crumbs from meals before.
I scoured the sitting room, looking for my brothers, who played video games here all day at the weekends. I checked behind the uncomfortable, old sofas, but they were not there.
Hungry, I decided that food was necessary to fuel further contemplation. I sauntered to the back kitchen to get some biscuits. Unfortunately, the biscuits were on the shelf, and, being small, it was hard for me to reach them. I stared, ravenous, yearning for a stepladder. Useless. I decided to pull up a stool instead, and stand on that, which enabled me to nudge the bag off the shelf. It split slightly, but I managed to get to the clean, brain-boosting biscuits inside.
After my snack, I climbed onto the banquette to look out of the window, eager to await to earliest signals of my family’s arrival. ‘They have never been gone for this long,’ I thought to myself, as I peered through the window to the lichen-green gate like a telescope.
Suddenly, their bulky, navy car pulled round the corner, through the gates, and parked. For a moment, I was worried it was not them. However, I was relieved and ecstatic to glimpse my dad’s mustard-clad leg emerge. I sprang off the banquette and my paws skidded on the dusty floor as I bounded to greet them. As they opened the door, I licked them, and barked happily – my family, returned.
My nerves buzz to the faint hum of computers. Resting my forehead on the cold steel, I press a wad of cloth onto my leg, grimacing as a hot flare shoots up my spine. I tightly bind the material, and gingerly push off the wall. My heart pounds in my chest and I take a few deep breaths, stepping carefully over the slumped body and pool of crimson blood. I reach over and slide the microchip out of the whirring screen, tucking it into my waistband. Silently, I make my way to the main hall, the smooth floor cool against my bare feet.
The deathly quiet of the corridors unnerves me as I creep down the sterile, white stairs; true to Dart nature. My leg protests against this movement, but I only move faster, gritting my teeth against the pain.
Suddenly, panicked shouts ring from below, and I grin. Tenners know how to make an entrance, I’ll give them that.
Gunshots flash from above, and I duck my head, heart drumming and legs pumping. Frantic footsteps follow, and my hands shake. This wasn’t part of the plan. I crash into an empty room, catching a glimpse of my wide-eyed reflection in the iridescent door. Another bang of a gun brings me back, and a wave of terror washes over me, flooding my mind with memories of another room, and another gun.
Somehow, I heave myself to the glinting window and slide it open, my palms slipping on the hard surface. Tucking a strand of blue hair behind my ear, I launch myself at the window, clamping a sticky hand over my mouth to muffle the shriek of agony. I wriggle my body through, wincing as daggers of red hot pain flash up my leg. My vision blurs with stinging tears and black dots appear at the edge of my sight. For a minute, I lie panting in the shadows under the windowsill, my breath creating icy jewels in the frozen air.
I roll over, surveying the smattering of inky roofs before me, and am about to make a leap when two guards round the corner, cloaked in pallid white. One guard limps, supported by the smaller one and groans, his face ashen. A second passes as I watch the stain on his leg grow, but suddenly sirens blare, shattering the night, and the smaller guard jerks his head up, gurgling in terror as he catches sight of me. He reaches for the other man’s gun, but my barrel is already trained on him. My fingers squeeze the trigger and I smash my teeth down hard on my lip, using the pain to distract myself from the awful thump of his limp body hitting the ground.
I turn away, wiping my sweaty hands on my loose top. The sirens jar my bones, and a hazy pounding begins in my head. I spot blurry silhouettes advancing on me, and I sprint across the rooftops with my stony heart fluttering in dread.
Ribbons of silver sleet slice into my burning arms and ruby lines dribble down my leg, seeming to rise out of my skin like rigid scars. I slip and an anguished cry escapes my lips before I can catch it. On my knees, I crawl to the edge of the roof, and reach out for a figure dressed in black.
‘Help!’ I scream, although I do not know if the word reaches my frozen mouth.
The figure turns towards me and leans up, tilting his face to mine, close enough that I can see the pity in his eyes. He stretches up and strokes a blistering tear off my cheek, that had spilled over without me realising.
‘I’m sorry, Jess. I really am,’ he whispers, and leaps down, melting into the darkness.
The bullet hole of pain in my leg has nothing on the aching place where my heart should be. Tears roll down my face, mingling with streaks of rain, as I watch the man who ripped it out disappear. Then I feel the cold mouth of the barrel press into the back of my neck, and I know what I have to do.
I have to steal it back.
He seemed like someone who belonged to a different era. Dust exploded from tiny canons on his body whenever he moved. His hair emerged from his scalp in tufts like wispy grass. Dry, cracked lips were stuck to his face and never moved. But his azure eyes shone, with the life of a six-year-old.
Moving at a millimetre per minute, the man seemed like an old machine, gradually slowing down to a stop. His rickety bones jangled like wind chimes as he moved. A brown, oak stick held his weight with a groan, as if it threatened to snap.
A shirt, navy jumper and some cotton trousers hung on him as if he were a coat rack. A tweed jacket engulfed him in its rough embrace.
Crippled, he hung onto life with all he could. Every now and then he would shout, ‘Run! Into the trenches!’ as he once did in his war. The air was musty around him, as if he brought it everywhere he went.
His house embraced the dust as well. The rickety floor in the bungalow made a slight ‘pfff’ when stood on, as the billions of dust particles lifted into the air, and settled back down again.
Until one day, it stopped. The dust did not bounce around like fleas anymore. Sans movement. Sans presence. Sans life. Sans everything. In his sparse, precise room, his bed was just as neat as it had been in the Army. On the heavy, walnut dresser, two medals glinted like polished mirrors, as proud and righteous as they had been in 1945. Time ticked on in the mantle clock, but not for him.