Arctic Tern

  Chris Hawkes

  Original Writing: Students' Work

As examples of original writing for GCSE English Language, we have three harrowing stories for you: "Bluebeard" by Emily Martin, "Apologies Mean Nothing" by Charlotte Monaghan, and "The Shadow" by Jessica Scott". Enjoy!



“Bluebeard”
by Emily Martin

I was content. My life was blissful. At the age of six I suppose everything seems blissful, but it was, it really was. I had my parents and sister and they were everything to me. I had books to keep me occupied and visitors who arrived in exquisite carriages pulled by beautiful, well-groomed horses.

My house, Seefeld House, was situated among grasses at the foot of the hills. The immense structure was powerful in status, towering above all but the hills surrounding it. The aged stone walls only existed, as it seemed, on one part of the house. The other numerous sides were covered in moss and ivy. To me it was normal to see a house with more than four main walls; I lived in a place that had a very unusual shape indeed.

The immense grounds around the house seemed to spread for miles. The mounds and drops of the landscape, and the vibrant colours that were unleashed from the plants that grew and spread among the grasses and ferns made the house what it was. The house in itself was, of course, striking, but the grounds and scenery to go with it were astonishing.

On bright summers’ days I liked nothing more than to sit out and enjoy these features. I delighted in the days that my mother and sister would join me. We would laugh and play for hours, my mother would roll us around on the grass and tickle us until we began to cry with laughter. My father could very rarely take part in the fun as he was always visiting London on business trips or working in his study.

His study was a large dull place. Entry was not permitted to anyone other than himself, especially not children like my sister and me. My curiosity at that age, however, did me no favours whatsoever. I had forever wondered what lay beyond that grand wooden door. Unfortunately, I was not clever enough at that age to foresee that my father could, in fact, already be working in there.

Nonetheless, I decided to look beyond the door. Reaching up for the cold metal handle, I slipped and lost my footing. My father came rushing out not filled with his usual cheerfulness or pity. Instead, he raised his voice and sternly told me never to go near this room again. My father never shouted. He said it was not the way to get through to people, I knew he was angry with me and I did not really understand why.

Sobbing, I ran to the library. I loved to read and when I was upset or felt lonely, I would take my favourite book at the time and run off into the hills. I had never been more than a mile away from my home because my mother would only take me that far on a walk. I was always told never to stray further than the little stream close by.

I did exactly that; careful not to go further than permitted, I began to run along the little path that had been created. Many generations of small and large sized feet had trodden along that path wearing away all grass that once grew upon it. All that was left now was a thin strip of mud and dirt standing out at least from the lush green grass growing around it. It was from this path that I was able to find my way.

I can still remember it to this day. It was just after this path began to enter the hills that I took a left turning. Beyond a wild area where beautiful plants grew my stream was situated, weaving its way in and out of small boulders and little pebbles that had been eroded over the years by the constant flow of the water.

I stopped and sat for a while, with the purpose of reading my book, however, I did not read at first. I was still upset that my father had shouted at me. I lay down under a large tree with lively branches, padded out with a bulk of green leaves.

The weather was not as calm as it could have been. The light wind that had surrounded me previously began to howl. My body and mind already full of confusion began to spin with the wind whipping up. It became cold, my body shivering under the chaos. I did not understand why I felt like this; I had never been outside in the rain before. My body began to shake uncontrollably. The frost on the ground felt rigid beneath me.

As I looked out I saw plants crippling under the weight of the rain the pelted down. Their leaves bending down to the muddy ground, tilting the stems that supported the plant. Each heavy drop of rain that hit the earth was met with a huge splash that drew in the drop until it vanished. This was only to be followed by yet another drop, and no amount of wishing could have stopped this heavy cycle, until the drops themselves became tired of falling.

Ground which once felt solid was now becoming sodden. I huddled up beneath the shelter of the tree, hoping that its long extended branches would protect me from the terrible weather. All I could do was sit and wait until someone came to search for me. It began to draw dark.

Shadows filled the ground around me, eating up the hills and the plants. They started only small; there was still a little light around and I could still make out the rain falling and the plants moving, but this was not for long. It slowly crept up upon the hills, moving gradually down to the ground on which I sat and growing and extending every second it had soon devoured everything.

I was so cold and wet. At that moment nothing could have cheered me up more than my mother and father coming to collect me. I listened intensely to the sounds around. Waiting, just waiting for the moment they arrived. Unfortunately waiting seemed to be all I was doing.

Suddenly I heard a crack. It sounded so unusual. It was the ever so slight cracking of a twig on the floor, however, I knew if my parents were there they would have come along my small path, or at least be calling my name. They would not be taking care to disguise the sound of a twig breaking. Here, there was nothing. I began to wonder why my parents had not attempted to search for me, but of course, I did not know if they had or not, but surely they would have checked the stream first.

Then I felt it. I was petrified. I dared not move. Who was behind me? Who was coming? Every twig that cracked seemed to progress closer to me. My skin prickled and I froze. I began to feel sick as I felt a cold hard hand press up against my shoulder. My head span as I felt chilled, bony hands crawl upon my skin, their fingers moving simultaneously up towards my head, sending shivers down my body. The hand reached for my mouth; I was silenced.




“Shadow”
by Jessica Scott

She never sleeps.

She is always awake, alert, ready.

Loneliness was tough; it was killing me.

I thought that to die alone would be the worst thing imaginable, the most painful way. I was wrong.

This is worse, far worse.

She never sleeps.

She is always awake, alert, ready.

I don’t like it in my head. It is filled with badness and immorality, constant pain. Many migraines make my head pound. Each one has its own beat, its own rhythm and travels at its own speed. None of them will go away. A scratching, like the sound of fingernails drifting down a blackboard agitates my ears. A blinding white light beams every time my eyes cease to close. She makes all of these things happen.

She is angry. I am her anger.

I wish she would do it. I wish she would pick it up. I wish she would take it in her hand it was an everyday object and use it. I wish she would put me out of my misery. I wish she would set the pain free.

Why did I think that? She knows what I am thinking. She is inside my troubled mind. She will never do it now. She will never give me what I want. That would mean I had won; she would certainly not let that happen.

I am nothing to her. She hates me, but still, she won’t go away. Like a salmon swimming upstream she will never give in.

“Leave me alone.”

“No. You leave me alone.”

I despise her.

She mimics, she teases, she picks and she provokes. I am so angry with her. I am so angry with myself.

I beg and I plead with her to leave me alone. Like a child, she takes no notice, only teases and bullies me more.

I ache and I cry, she just doesn’t care.

All I want is to be alone. My loneliness isn’t killing me anymore.

All I want is freedom, the freedom to do as I please, the freedom to make my own decisions.

All I want is sanity.

I want to be like any normal person.

I detest her so much, yet I need her.

Without her I am nothing, I am an empty space. Nobody would notice me. I wouldn’t be remembered. I would never be heard.

In a way she is good for me. I almost like her sometimes, times when other people are around. I like her when she makes me stand out. I like her when she makes me a little more like them. But when we are alone I hate her. She drives me crazy; she makes my soul spin around into oblivion.

I will never be good enough. I will never be like everybody else.

They don’t understand me. Nobody understands me. Nobody will ever understand me.

They try to help me, well at least they say that they are trying to help me. They have no idea though. They aren’t like me they don’t comprehend.

I say nothing. She will get me if I speak a word. I am silenced like an animal, I will never be able to tell the world what I think.

They ask question after question. I long to speak out. I long to tell them everything. But I can’t. I can’t.

I can’t take anymore. My head is full, like a bomb packed with explosives ready to detonate.

I have had enough. This is it.

She laughs at me, her laugh echoes round my head. Her laugh gets into every part of my brain, it goes round and round. Her laugh gets louder, a crescendo. It gets more abstract, more wicked with every cackle.

I close my eyes.

She forces me to open them.

I can almost see the look on her face. A look of pity and arrogance.

I will stand up to her.

We both reached for the gun.

Darkness.




“Apologies mean nothing”
by Charlotte Louise Monaghan

What would you do if it were you?

I can't remember the last time I felt this much pain, hurt, anger and regret. I could never do anything right. Nobody seemed to care: no sympathy. Just arguments, accusations, blame. I would lie in bed and listen to my breathing; which hurt me inside. My tears: that burnt my cheek as if I were pressing a cigarette lighter to my face. My aching bones made me curl up and brace myself for more. I know my daddy never meant to hurt me. I love you daddy. I hate you daddy.

Stop!

I cannot use my fault against him. I refuse to let myself get carried away like I did before. It was I: I did it. My emotions took over me and I couldn't handle it anymore. They pulled me down with the rest of my paralytic body. If I ever managed to sleep all I could see was myself crying or screaming. I was haunted by delusions of persecution or torture. I used to live in a world that loved to suffer, suffer just as I did; now they are doing it for me.

The excessive arguments resembled a battle than a discussion of different opinions. I could never reach above them just hide or run. Then I got older, wiser and found the best escape method. Wait! Daddy! Where are they putting me?

They've never let go of me before. I'm sure they have wanted to but they never gave up hope in me. Now I remember. Most children learn through imitating and copying those older than themselves. I mirrored my daddy's actions. I wanted to do exactly what he did. He knew how to control his anger and sometimes even hide it, maybe I could do the same?

I stood watching him in his bedroom looking deep into his reflection. Digging his fingers firmly into his arm and scratching. Was he upset? No, just angry. He was releasing this anger that I had caused him. If he can hurt himself to relieve the fury that had accumulated inside him then I could do the same. I went to my room. It looked so dark and empty from the outside. When I stepped in I filled it with all the clutter most rooms gain when nobody cares to attend to it. I know everybody hurts and everybody gets angry but I know there are many people who can handle these emotions unlike myself. For me they are too over powering.

No! Stop crying! They are all looking down on me now, crying the tears I once felt. I wish I could cry with them but I can't. I don't understand.

I haven't been given many things in my life that have brought me happiness but my granddad did. He gave me his penknife that he treasured so much. He gave me it when he died. When he died all my feelings died with him, but he is here with me now. He told me he's missed me.

Wait. Please?

I took the knife in my right hand and held it close to me. I remember him telling me that this penknife was one of his best possessions and it had got him out of awkward situations in the past. He said be careful with it because it can cause damage. Damage. That's exactly what I wanted. Damage something. Anything. Myself. I opened out the blades, spread them out and admired them as I admired my father before. With care I pushed back each of the smaller blades then the scissors then the corkscrew. I was attracted like a child to the shiny metal. It looked so powerful, maybe even more powerful than I did. I liked that. Then I saw something I liked, the sharpest blade. I moved the edge closer to my elbow then without contact down towards my wrist. I didn't understand what was making me do this but I didn't stop. Now I wish I did. I advanced to my most prominent vein in my left arm and forced the knife into it, dragged it down. I was attacking, assaulting myself. Positioning the knife again I slid the knife upwards. This hurt so much more the first time I did it. I could hear this voice coming from the downstairs kitchen. No conversation but my mother talking to herself. I pictured her rocking with her head in her hands like she always did every time things got too much for her: my dad walked out. Left us. This hand took over mine and pushed the knife in this time with frustration at him. There is no blood. No pain. Why cannot I feel anything? I knew this hurt so much more the first time. I'm still pressing, attacking, hacking. Why?

They are still crying at me. They've all cried at me before but not this way. Looking down on me in shame and pity.

Mummy? Daddy? Where are they putting me? I keep saying this. They can't hear me. They can't feel me. They don't know me as their daughter anymore. Disowned and all alone.

Earth to earth? Ashes to ashes? Dust to dust? I did it. That's why they are looking down on me. Granddad is with me now, I feel loved again. All the pain I once felt, now I'm digging the knife into them, my burning tears, my pounding heart rattling my bones, where my paralytic figure made me totally unable to move. They are feeling it now.

Daddy, don't let go of mummy as easy as you let go of me. I am sorry and I can't come back. Do my apologies mean nothing?

  The drudge

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