A story with an unexpected ending – by Hibatellah (age 15)

Whispering, the wind rustled the branches of solemn, towering trees and hauled leaves through the brisk, winter air. The cloudy, moonless night seemed to create a bitter atmosphere in the park amongst the tumultuous wind. The stubborn moon refused to show itself and its sulphurous glow, too self-absorbed to share its glimmering beam with others. Laying against the trunk of a willow tree, he sat, breathing heavily, hiding within it. He wore a perturbed expression and had his head buried low within his woolly cowl, twiddling with a plastic, film coated packet, grunting every now and then. With his eyes fixed on the prize that he toyed with, the sound that emerged from his endless fidgeting seemed to have made him even more agitated as he pulled hard at the packet; he was unable to achieve his final goal – the last pill.

The stubborn moon refused to show itself and its sulphurous glow, too self-absorbed to share its glimmering beam with others.

“Come on!” he muffled with a distressed tone, hoping that the last pill would drop into his desperate hands. It didn’t. After countless attempts at pricking the packet open, he gave up, abandoning his task, and throwing the grey packet away from him in distress; even with an infirm throw he clenched his shoulder tightly, gasping in pain, thudding his head back against the wooden trunk. He gave a heavy sigh, before streams of tears tumbled down his cheeks that seemed to be of a pallid complexion, arriving at his chin, and then plunging down into his pale hands – they were shaking tremendously. He didn’t prevent the tears from plummeting; he was too exhausted to even move. A formation of blues were painted on the ends of his fingertips. The flood of blue colours seemed to spread down the length of his fingers, slowly engulfing him. Half closed, his eyelids flickered, like an isolated light bulb on its death bed in a dark room, and laying back, the man shut his eyes; the man seemed to have drifted to the locked safe in his brain, where most of his happy memories were stored. The memories that he didn’t think of much. They had been locked away and replaced by negative, haunting memories that sailed across every nerve within his brain, constantly envisioned by him.

image (hibatellah's story)Several hours earlier, he was sat, in the same position, under the same tree, with the same lost expression. Through the gap in the entrance, a young boy seemed to have caught his attention. He was coated in many warm, tight layers; he reminded the man of his brother, Jacob, who also used to be wrapped in hundreds of tight layers by his mother, who feared he would catch a cold. The man spotted the boy was on his tiptoes, grasping a long chestnut branch at an imposing tree. Squinting, he wondered what the young, care-free youth was doing; he was hauling at a mother chaffinch’s nest, prodding it to almost fall. The mother chaffinch’s blackish eyes observed the young, ignorant boy, peering down at her three eggs and then leaping forward, guarding her children from the discourteous child. Constantly repeating this action, he began tugging harder at the nest, oblivious to the harm he could cause. The mother bird echoed a strident squawk, startling the young boy as he jumped back, astonished by what he had just encountered. The turbulent wind seemed to aggress, plunging the young boy to the stony path for causing harm to the mother bird. Wailing, he scampered off, bawling for his mother down the extensive path. Shutting his eyes once more, the man seemed to have been reminded of his own care-free youth. He was sent back to his serene childhood and happier days, where the only thing that preoccupied his mind, was the amount of presents he would receive for Christmas, oblivious to the world around him. He knew now that there was much more to life than presents; a whole world surrounded him. But now, to him, most of it was dark.

“Don’t go anywhere. We’ll be right back after the break.”

The television was the only sound that had emerged from the house in hours. The sound would have been drowned out by the smallest of mutters, or by the exchange of words between family members, trivial words – the day’s events, the evening’s dinner, tomorrow’s plans. But nothing. The house stood still. It had for days. For weeks. The air inside the house wasn’t warm or cosy – it was glacial. There were no jokes being made. There were no conversations about how the father’s day had been at the office and what witty pranks he had pulled on his colleague. The smell of freshly steamed vegetables and steak pot pie weren’t evident. There were no candles shimmering their bright beams from the centre of the dining table. The family – cramped around the dining table – sat, eating their dinner, in the dark. In silence. The only sounds that emerged were that of spoons meeting their plates and the slurps of the father whenever he took a spoonful of soup. They weren’t eating fresh home cooked soup. Instead, they ate only the contents of tin cans and jars, easily prepared and no hassle for the mother, whose mind was elsewhere.

“And we’re back. Now in just a moment we’ll be speaking to Dr Carl about depression and what you can do to keep your mind healthy. But now, competition time!”

Silence erupted from the dining room. Nobody moved. The world to all three of them stood still. Nobody moved. Instantaneously, the mother dropped her spoon into her plate, causing an abrupt interference to the silence they had all endured several seconds ago. She screeched her chair backwards, exiting the room in a hurried motion. Jacob turned to his father, but he responded with a lost and vacant expression; not even he could help. The television was quickly muted, and all was silent again. Heavy sobs were heard from the lounge; the mother didn’t care who heard her – she was grieving.

“Mum? Mum, what’s wrong?”

“Jac –.” Her throat clenched and her tongue cleaved to the roof of her mouth; it was almost unattainable to speak.

“Mum?”

“Jacob please. I’m –.” She halted. The heavy sound of her breathing swallowed the air in the room, leaving little for the company she had acquired. After a long hesitation, the rays from a ceramic table lamp flooded the room like a crime scene, making a young man, standing up beside her, visible – her eldest son, whom she hadn’t seen in weeks. Eyes swelled with tears and jaw half dropped, she stared up at him.

“Mum?”

“No! No! No! No!”

“Mum. It’s alright.”

“No! No! No! No!” Muttering to herself, she was quivering, her hands shaking eccentrically.

“Mum please. What’s wrong?”

“You! You’re not real!” Hyperventilating, she grasped her head tightly, looking away from the shape of the young man that stood beside her.

“Mum. I’m right here.”

“You’re dead,” she murmured quietly, head still turned away.

“What? Mum.”

“You’re dead!” she screamed, standing up, facing her dead son, cheeks burnt red raw and stained with emotion.

“Mum? What?”

“I buried you last month! You! Are! Dead!”

A description of a stroll through a park in old age – by Sara (age 16)

Her weight bore down upon the stick that she clasped firmly in her right hand. Strolling down the serene path, branches extended overhead and leaves intertwined, forming the distorted shape of an umbrella above. She was shielded from the beams of the sun’s glare; although, it still seemed to smile upon the verdant landscape. Yet here and there, hidden amidst blossoming bluebells lay weeping plants which wilted, alone, suffocated by the intense warmth which even the crisp breeze could not negate.

she’d run at the speed of light amongst rose bushes, her polka-dot dress blowing round her knees

She inhaled the fresh air, and although she wandered alone, it was here, in the open, where her mind was relieved of anxieties, where her drooping skin (which was inscribed with the lines of timeless age) no longer defined her. Instead, she was reminded of the days where she’d run at the speed of light amongst rose bushes, her polka-dot dress blowing round her knees while her friends shrieked at one another, chasing after her. Her ruddy face would light up as the sound of birdsong peppered the landscape. She remembered the light breeze stroking her unlined, soft skin while her silky hair swept back, weaving across the fabric of the air like threads of gold.

The peace and joy which she had found in the outdoors still seemed to resonate within her as she sought comfort within the realms of nature. As she walked on, her gaze was mesmerised by the beauty which was finely encapsulated by an array of colours; she was in awe, so much so, that her grip of the stick loosened, forgetting for a moment the toll that time had taken on her weary body. In spite of the trickling beads of sweat and humid air, she refused to wear anything other than a woolly jumper – her favourite – oversized and hanging loosely from her frail body which was now defined by the structure of weak and overworked bones. She resembled a sort of skeletal figure as her sagging skin revealed the bony structures of her face and the dark circles of exhaustion that were stamped beneath her eyes.

Her legs began to tremble as she hauled the weight of her body onwards, only to collapse onto a nearby bench. She skimmed the park until she caught glimpse of a little girl darting through a maze of bushes, cheerful laughter resounding in the atmosphere. But through her mind erupted traces of her own childhood. She recollected thoughts of fonder days where even a deep graze on her kneecap wouldn’t discourage her from shuttling down streets without a care. But now, every step was weighed with agony as pain splintered her brittle bones with even the slightest of movements. The hands which once built sandcastle after sandcastle now quivered and shivered with weakness and fragility. She remembered the days when her father would take her to the beach and she’d race along the shore with her siblings, as the restless waves splashed against her pale legs. It was in those moments where she wished she could live forever. But now those wishes carried a burden as she felt as though she was living in eternal pain as her unrelenting body forced her to live in torment- in a world where she no longer felt alive.

memories cascaded like the distorted colours of falling autumn leaves

Her memories cascaded like the distorted colours of falling autumn leaves, alternating from hues of green, red, yellow. The branches were left barren. The crisp breeze returned, this time blowing bitterly, as she realised it was time to go home, with nobody waiting upon her arrival, and nobody to accompany her on the solemn journey. With her weight bearing down upon the stick that she clasped firmly in her right hand, she clung more firmly still to the memories that she refused to abandon.

The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me and welcome to our blog!

My name is Miss Cassem and I teach English in an inner city school in the Midlands. I am passionate about education and its ability to transform lives.

During my time within the teaching profession, my students continue to inspire and amaze me, often producing written work that is creative, heart felt and authentic. This blog provides a platform for their writing. I open the door to my classroom and warmly invite you to enjoy their stories…

“To unpathed waters, undreamed shores” – William Shakespeare