Story Competition 2017 Winners - Aged 11 - 14

Joint 1st Place - Alice Warner

The Beauty of Colour

Pain throbbed in the depths of my skull. My coarse tongue battered against the roof of my mouth. I needed water. Even a drop would seem like a litre to me at this moment. I lay by the river that provided hydration for my whole family. But with the drought comes the shrivelled river bed. Fiercely, the sun beat me with its harsh whip, jeering at me for my hopelessness. My family counted on me to bring them their salvation, but there was nothing to do.

Shakily rising to my feet, stones dug deep into my sole, forcing me to drag my feet behind. Every step was a marathon but pushed me on no further, but I had to walk another fifty miles before I reached the nearest oasis. With no path to follow, the journey loomed above me like a dark shadow.

As much as I was scared, I was prepared to risk my life for my family. They were all I had in the entire world. My mum would be grinding the last of the corn, my dad collecting the firewood. Our house had a straw roof and thick mud walls; it provided the only shade to protect my family. Longing for them grasped me tightly and persuaded my mind to focus on the journey.       

No clouds floated in the sky. No patches of ground were sheltered from the sun. A blanket of heat twisted around me wrapping tighter with each step. As I stumbled through the barren plain, I swayed from side to side, unable to control my own movements. Dead bushes and animal carcasses cluttered the surroundings. Signs of death drowned me from every angle, warning me of my fate. I travelled further than I ever have before, so every muscle screamed at me ‘turn back, Molly; you’ll never make it.’

I slowly raised my sunburnt head to the empty sky. My eyes adjusted to the sudden brightness and I saw shimmering in the heavens a glowing spectrum of colours. It radiated spectacular light upon my face. The beauty of it blinded my squinting eyes. The array of colours swirled in a perfect arc reaching the far corners of the land lifting the blanket of despair.

Relief flooded through my blood and I immediately relaxed. It was like a burden had been lifted from my shoulders and vanished in thin air above me. My family would not be able to believe my story. I hardly could myself. Not even death would be able to wipe a smile off my face. No matter how hard I can try, my relief is unexplainable. I felt as if a gateway had just opened in front of me and forced death’s door to a close.

I collapsed on the parched, sandy ground feeling the cool breeze brush against my face. Gazing up at the wondrous rainbow, every worry and doubt soaked in to the floor as the first drops of water trickled down my cheek.

Joint 1st Place - Emily Warner

The Beauty of Colour

I dip my paintbrush into the blue paint and drag the bristles across the surface of the canvas. I paint a glistening ocean. Gradually I add striped beach huts, red, amber, green. I paint golden sands littered with pink shells and I shroud the canvas in a white rolling mist.

 "Honey, are you ready," shouts my mother. She sounds afraid but she hides it well. She doesn't want me to see the broken person I have made her into.

I rush down the stairs and a myriad of colours fly past me. I step into my yellow boots and wrap my purple raincoat around me. My mother kisses my cheek. She thinks I don't notice the wetness that brushes against me or the trembling of her mouth. "I love you. This is going to change nothing. OK," she says.

"OK," I whisper back. The tremor in my voice is the only thing that gives away my fear.

I open my door and life and colour floods in. What if life is about seeing colours. What if all we live for is the colours that we paint and those we see around us? What if, when you are blind, you are still alive but you're not really living anymore? That scares me most.

I am 14 years old.

When I was 3 a tumour was found in my eye.

My eye was removed and the cancer went away.

Last year it returned.

Last week I found out my other eye must be removed.

By tomorrow I will be blind.

I stumble along our path and soak up the colour into my very soul until my mind is a whirlpool of colours and images. The world is made of colour and only now do I notice its beauty. It is sad that all the beautiful and precious things in the world, are only noticed in the moments before you lose them.
At the hospital, my mother is kissing my face, letting her tears fall freely now. I reach up and cup her face in my hand so I can freeze her face in my mind, frame it and lock it deep inside my memories. "I love you," I whisper.

I thought being blind would be unbearable. I thought it would be like being trapped in the dark with only imageless echoes to live by. The moment I awoke from the operation my mind was swathed in all the colours which swirled through my mind and filled me with a rainbow more vibrant than any I had ever seen with my eyes. It has been a week now.

I hear my mother's voice in the darkness and turn to the direction in which I hear it. "What is it like?"

In some respects I was right, the world is about colour. But I was also wrong, because life is not about the colours we see with our eyes but it's the colours we see in our mind.

"It's beautiful," I reply.

3rd Place - Emilie Kummerfeld

The Beauty of Colour

Sunbeams are shining through my open door, filling my bookshop with light; I take this moment to think back to how it all began …

Cramp is rising through my body but still I daren’t move, afraid of what might happen. I’m bumping up and down, tilting and sliding around on my seat. I hear the car engine sputtering and the driver occasionally coughing. Shadows loom over the car, like we are driving through a long dark vault leading us to our death! The car abruptly stops. Someone clears their throat and announces we are here.

Cold air cuts through me, its knife slashing, breaking the silence.  I feel a claw on my shoulder; fingers grabbing my arm, guiding me out the door of the car as I stumble around. “Where are we?” I hear my voice say.
“You have arrived at The Manor, where you will be staying!” a husky voice tells me…

I can see a vague outline of a towering block, dark black with a grey rim, in front of me. I presume it is the house! It seems to threaten me, all the shadows milling around and all the voices I can hear. I hear approaching footsteps and I feel something push up against my legs. “Sit!” a voice commands, sending shudders through my body. Shakily I started to drop down. My body meets a cold, hard seat and however uncomfortable it is, I am safe.

Finally, I’ve been left alone, lying on an uneven mattress with a thin itchy blanket on top of me.  Now I feel totally worn out and alone. My world has always been colourless and dismal, sometimes I wonder if anyone feels the same as me.

The clock strikes midnight, I gasp and shake myself awake, beads of perspiration hang on my neck. Restlessly I get out of bed and shuffle towards the door, slowly becoming used to my surroundings! Expecting the door to creak, I open it very slowly. It doesn’t make a noise. Tiptoeing cautiously down the steps I head towards the kitchen…

My heart is beating so loudly I’m surprised it hasn’t woken everyone up. Cautiously, I feel for the iron handle to the kitchen. Entering carefully, I glide my fingers across the wall recognising a difference in it. A door!

I follow the winding, steep steps upwards, which lead into a dusty smelling room! My fingers brush against shelves, and slowly I begin to recognise the shapes. Books! I touch each one and the colour of joy spreads through me. Braille! I tenderly open some pages and my world is filled with colour; flowers in different shades of pink and purple, butterflies sunbathing on lush green bushes. My eyes brim with tears of joy!

My name is Saffie, and ever since that life changing moment my world is no longer wiped clean of all colours. I am now free, free to see the world and help others like me!