Friday, 25 November 2011


Hayley had never thought that her journey home would be so difficult. She was stood motionless in the middle of a train station in Paris, staring up at the departures board, holding a steaming cup of hot chocolate in her frozen hands. Her suitcase sat leant up against her right leg, her whole life packed away inside it. She muttered secretively to herself as she tried to figure out the translations of the French words on the board. All around her, the station was alive with activity as people bustled through their everyday routines. The suited businessmen pushed roughly past the crowds of loitering tourists, barely looking up from their phones on their tedious commute. Small children screamed, running circles around their exasperated parents, and the train attendants left the main office laughing loudly, wondering how many people they could catch out for not having a ticket today. The marble floor beneath Hayley’s feet echoed from the sound of rumbling suitcase wheels, and a cocktail of smells came from each food stall, enticing in those who had time to spare. Hayley stood shivering amidst it all, unnoticed by all those that rushed past her.

A Mexican wave of movement swept around the departures board, sounding like a roulette wheel as each letter was chosen carefully. Reading the newly revealed times, Hayley groaned dejectedly. Her decision was becoming ever more complicated. Hayley had been in Paris for the weekend, attending meetings that were supposedly going to help her gain a promotion at work. It had been her first chance to escape from home in a while though, so she had jumped at the opportunity to leave. Despite being nineteen, and perfectly able to look after herself, Hayley was constantly in battle at home with her overly protective Mother, who felt uneasy unless she was watching Hayley’s every move. When her parents had divorced two years ago, Hayley’s Father had moved to the outskirts of Germany, and at the time had tried to do all he possibly could to take Hayley with him. He hadn’t been successful, but had never stopped trying to convince Hayley to move to Germany and live with him. Something he had recently become very close to achieving. Now, stood in Paris, Hayley found herself torn between the two. She could get on a train that would take her back to England and her overprotective Mother, or a train that would take her on to Germany and her Father, who she hadn’t seen in two years. Typically, both trains were leaving at the same time, and Hayley had only eight minutes to decide which train to take. Eight minutes to decide which of her parents she wanted to see the most.

Hayley’s phone vibrated impatiently in her back pocket. Before she had even looked at the screen, she knew who was calling her.

“Hi Mum,” she sighed, resting her hot chocolate precariously on top of her suitcase.

“Hayley? Where are you?” came the rushed reply.

“The same place I was the last time you called.” Hayley moaned. “Stop checking up on ...”

“But you are coming home soon aren’t you?” her Mum said, ignoring Hayley’s frustrated grumbles. Hayley glanced up at the departures board. Time was running out. She had to make her decision.

“I’m going to have to go Mum; the train’s leaving soon and...” Hayley said dismissively.

“Which train?” her Mum interrupted. A booming voice came on over the station’s loud speaker, announcing the next trains to depart. Glancing back at the departures board, Hayley saw that she only had four minutes left before she needed to be on a train.

“Hayley?” her Mum said, her voice cracking slightly in her panic, “You are coming to England aren’t you.”

Hayley bent down to gather up her belongings. She slung her lighter bag onto her shoulder and pulled out the handle of her suitcase. Three minutes left.


She checked her ticket and turned on the spot to look for the platform she needed. She was going to have to run.

“Mum, I need to go.” She said simply.

“Please,” Hayley’s Mum begged, “Please, don’t go to Germany.”

“Why not?” Hayley asked. Suddenly, without any warning, her phone was snatched out of her hand. Hayley was grabbed around her waist and lifted clean off of her feet. She heard the sound of her hot chocolate mug splattering all over the terminal floor as her suitcase was swooped up by an anonymous hand. Whoever had caught hold of Hayley made sure that she couldn’t see their face as they ran across the terminal to the second platform. Hayley couldn’t catch enough breath to scream. She could only watch frantically as the other passengers walked calmly by, nobody noticing that Hayley was in trouble. She was pushed roughly towards a train and when she attempted to struggle, she was hit on the back of the head, hard enough that she fell unconscious immediately. Her decision, it appeared, had been made for her.

Hayley woke up slumped in the corner seat of an empty train carriage. It was an ordinary passenger train, but it was eerily quiet. Outside it was just starting to get dark, but there was a clinical white light in the carriage that kept Hayley blinking and confused. Out of the window Hayley could see countryside flying past. She had no idea where she was, who she was with or where she was going. Peering through the gap between the seats, Hayley saw a small group of people through the glass doors leading to the next carriage. The suited men were laughing and shaking each other’s hands, as if to congratulate one another. One of the men, who Hayley could see was holding her phone tightly in his fist, saw that she was awake. Hayley watched in disbelief as the man who she was steadily beginning to recognise came through the carriage towards her. It was her Father.

“How are you feeling?” Hayley’s Father asked quietly as soon as the connecting doors between the carriages had closed. He sat down on the chair next to Hayley and felt her forehead with the back of his hand.

“Dad?” Hayley whispered cautiously. It still didn’t feel right to her. She hadn’t seen her Father in two years, and suddenly he was sat in front of her, as if he had never been away. “Dad, what’s going on?”

Hayley’s Father stared emotionless into his daughter’s eyes, taking in the faint stain of blood that was seeping through from underneath her hair, the bruises on her wrists and the petrified expression in her eyes. He moved to a seat further away.

“Dad, where are we going?” Hayley asked.

“Germany.” He replied simply, “I can’t let you go back to England.”

“Why? What is going on?”

“I can’t tell you yet. Wait till we get home.”

“I don’t have a home Dad!” Hayley shouted, losing her temper with his coldness. He was now sat as far away from her as possible, avoiding her eyes and glancing every few seconds towards the group in the next carriage. Hayley didn’t know this man sat in front of her. It wasn’t the same man that she used to play in the garden with for hours at a time, no matter what the weather. The person she would turn to when she had a problem or when she simply just needed to see a friendly face. It was like there was nothing within her father anymore, as if his emotions had been sucked from him and locked away in a place he couldn’t quite reach. “I don’t know where my home is now Dad.” Hayley tried again.

“You just don’t have a home in England anymore.” Her Father replied irritably. “Listen Hayley, just stop messing around. You’re coming with us to Germany; I’m fed up of playing games.”

“I don’t understand what’s going on.” Hayley cried. “Who are you with Dad?”

“Stop it with all the questions!” Her Father yelled, jumping to his feet and staring daggers at Hayley. Where her Father had thrown his hands up in anger, Hayley noticed the steady accumulation of missed calls and messages on the screen of her phone in his hands. No doubt they were all from her Mother, and Hayley felt a short pang of guilt and regret. She could picture her Mother now. Her frantic expression and wild eyes. Her hair would have been scraped back away from her face and she would be shaking her leg constantly as she sat waiting for news, unable to rest easy until she had control again. As tears began to finally show, Hayley’s Father seemed to momentarily lost heart. His shoulders slumped and his hands fell limply by his sides as he watched Hayley curl up on her chair and hug her knees. He sat down beside her and tucked the loose, stray hair behind her ears.

“Listen kid, you’ll have a brilliant time in Germany. We’ll catch you up with the language and you’ll make some great friends. My house is a lot bigger than what you’ll be used to, it’ll be an adventure.” He said softly, in an attempt to cheer Hayley up. “You would hardly ever see me, you can do what you like. I’ll arrange a car for you if you like, you can explore wherever you wanted.”

“I could do that in England.” Hayley replied defiantly.

“Well you’re not going to England.” Her Father said curtly. “There’s nothing there for you anymore.”

“My Mother is there!” Hayley shouted, but she was answered with a sly smirk.

“You’re coming to Germany with me Hayley.” Her Father said blankly, “That’s my final word.”

Then, without waiting for Hayley to even attempt to argue back, he went through to the next carriage to join the group of people who were watching them curiously. He was welcomed back with a chorus of jeers. Hayley wondered whether any of the other men in the next carriage even knew who she was. She certainly didn’t know who they were.

The tears were now unstoppable. They ran freely down Hayley’s cheeks, leaving pale traces on her skin where her makeup had been washed away. She felt lost; with nobody around she could trust. She could hear shouting now in the next carriage, in a mixture of German and English. She could hear something that sounded like her Father’s voice, but it was no longer recognisable to her. The men weren’t shouting in anger however, they were laughing. Piercing cackles that burnt into Hayley’s mind. She had had enough. She couldn’t sit around any longer and do nothing.

Silently, not even daring to breathe, she crept to the locked doors of the carriage. Searching the other seats as she crept by, she found her bags hidden under the furthest chair. She grabbed her lighter bag, leaving her suitcase behind. She felt as if she were a child again, sneaking down on Christmas eve and hiding from her parents as she investigated the presents under the tree. It would always be her Father that found her then, but she was determined that he wouldn’t find her this time.

Reaching up above her head, Hayley pulled sharply on the emergency stop lever. A piercing alarm began to ring and the laughter from the next carriage came to an abrupt halt. As everybody else on the train was thrown around like rag dolls by the sudden braking, Hayley kept her balance. She kept her head, she kept her focus. She was too angry to panic.

“I’ll do anything to get back to England.” She told herself boldly. She took one final glance down the carriage and saw her Father stumbling around trying to get through the glass doors towards her. “Anything.”

Friday, 5 August 2011

Golf, Granddad, and the Spicegirls

Recently I finished another book, and when I was sending off portfolios to universities, this was an extract from that book that I sent off.

This morning, I made the dreadful mistake of getting up at the crack of dawn and going for a jog with Mum. It was the start of my “get fit for summer” regime. However, like all of my ridiculous ideas, I only plan on doing it the once. I swear Mum is on steroids. She powered on ahead, leaving me coughing and spluttering behind. All the joggers seemed to be in competition with each other as well. There were hundreds of health conscious lunatics out this morning, and all of them were trying to run just that little bit faster than everybody else. Mum was the fastest though. I sat down on a bench and watched her overtake everybody else, I was so proud.

Afterwards, I managed to persuade Mum that I wasn’t the type of person for proper exercise. I explained to her that you didn’t have to run around to do sport, so then lucky old me got dragged along to play golf with Dad and Granddad. It wasn’t even crazy golf. It was proper golf, with birdies and everything!

Golf is the most boring “sport” on this planet. It was designed by boring people, for boring people...with stupid trousers, of which my Granddad owns at least thirty pairs. I had to result to hiding Granddad’s ball just to amuse myself. I lasted for six holes before Dad found out that I was cheating.

The only exciting thing about golf is the cool buggies that you get to drive around the course in. Granddad took ages to figure out how to drive it, and when he did, he drove it like a complete maniac! He managed to get us lost, despite the bright yellow signs telling you the exact way to go. We ended up missing out four of the holes because Granddad didn’t have a clue where he was going. He just pointed the buggy in the general direction of the next hole and forgot to steer. So inevitably, we took a shortcut through the forest instead of going around it. Thankfully, Dad took over the steering; otherwise our golf buggy would have been wrapped around a tree by now. We wouldn’t of been hurt though, because the buggy dies if you go over ten miles an hour.

After golf, Dad left me at Granddad’s house whilst he went DIY shopping. He said that he would only be half an hour, but I knew he would be longer. Dad gets lost in B&Q. Granddad told me that he was in urgent need of someone from the younger generation. Turns out he had brought himself an IPod in the bid to become more “hip”, as he put it. Unfortunately, he nearly put a hip out trying to get the box open. I had to show him how to open the plastic casing, and he was so amazed by that that he hovered behind my shoulder asking questions and commenting on modern technology. He wouldn’t stop talking though because he lives so far into the dark ages that everything is modern technology to him.

Granddad’s CD collection was abysmal. A bunch of war songs and rather surprisingly, the entire works of the Spicegirls. I wasn’t completely convinced that “Pack Up Your Troubles” would mix well in the same playlist as “Spice Up Your Life”. I’m especially concerned about Granddad’s vocabulary, because he told me the curry he had had last night was too “zig-a-zig-ah”. Well at least he has music to listen to whilst attempting his daily cross word.

As Dad was taking a lifetime, I took Granddad out in the afternoon to do his food shopping. I really wish that I hadn’t volunteered to do my doting granddaughter bit though. It was horrific. Granddad truly lived up to his reputation of being the world’s worst driver. He drove over a roundabout; stalled on the tram lines and then when we got to the car park he went in through the out and parked diagonally across three spaces. The store manager even had to come out and ask him to move the car. He did. He just parked exactly the same but across disabled spaces this time. I left a note on the windscreen saying that the driver of the car had dementia and that I was very sorry.

When we eventually made it into the store, Granddad was completely hopeless. I was too busy pretending that I didn’t know him to actually notice what was going in the trolley. I only realised just how awful Granddad is at shopping when we reached the till. He had got cream instead of milk, corn flour instead of sugar and even a kilogram of coal for a barbeque that he doesn’t even own. It took me an hour to do his shopping all over again, and even then he kept trying to sneak moisturiser into the trolley because he thought it was mayonnaise.

When I finally made it home, with a tin of beans as a thank you present from Granddad, my parents were painting the landing ceiling. I walked up the stairs and all I did was casually point out that Dad was in fact painting his half of the landing a completely different colour to Mum’s, and bedlam broke out. Mum just couldn’t appreciate how hilarious the situation was!

Thursday, 7 October 2010


This is another AS piece, and it's supposed to be in the style of The Hours. Not sure if it is, but anyway...enjoy!


The date of the party was set for the eleventh of April, that very evening, and Julia was very busy as she rushed around trying to make the final arrangements. Tonight’s dinner party was very important to her, and to her husband, John, who was retiring from his job as a banker. However, John wasn’t old enough for a proper retirement; he was leaving work for the sake of his health. Many people spoke behind John’s back and said that he had nothing between the ears, and however much it hurt Julia to hear those things said about her husband, she herself was not completely innocent of the crime.

John was sat in his chair in the garden and his head was tilted slightly to the left. Although his body was relaxed, when Julia got closer to him, she could see that his face was screwed up like a bulldog’s, and his lips were as thin as paper. His eyes stared out towards the gardener, who was taking a short break from collecting any apples that had fallen from the large tree at the back of the garden.

When Julia saw him like this, it pulled on her heart strings. John was such a good banker, so good that he alone had paid for their grand house, and he had made sure that Julia had never had to work. Yet, he was now tied to his chair, and was entirely dependent on Julia to get him around. John just sat there, day after day, hour after hour, sinking steadily into the other world, where his brain wanted to take him. Julia knelt down gently next to John’s chair.

“Good morning John.” Julia said.

“Is it still morning? It’s so bright I thought it must be the afternoon.”

“It’s nearly the afternoon, there’s only seven minutes left of the morning.”

“How slowly the time goes.” John looked towards his wrist to check the time, but Julia had forgotten to put his watch on that morning. Or perhaps he had forgotten to ask her. “I heard that we are having lamb.”

“Yes we are.”

“I don’t like lamb.” John interrupted.

“I can arrange for you to have something different.”

“No!” he shouted, “I’m sick of being the special case.”

“What would you like to eat John?” Julia watched as John tensed up in concentration, then he squeezed her hand and looked into her eyes.

“I want lamb, Julia.” He said brightly.

“I thought you didn’t like lamb?” Julia whispered.

“I love lamb, it’s my favourite meat.”

“Lamb it is then.” Julia went to stand but John clutched tightly onto her arm and elbow.

“How was the party?” He said.

“We haven’t had the party yet, it is tonight.”

“Really? Whose party is it?”

“It’s your party John, you are retiring.”

John threw down Julia’s arm and held onto the armrests instead. The leather creaked and groaned as John’s finger nails scraped against its surface.

“I’m thirty four! I have a right to work”

“You are retiring for your health John.”

“I’m healthy.”

“The doctors...”

“The doctors are wrong!” John whined, “I’m only sick because you force me to be.”

“I don’t force you to do anything John.”

“Yes you do, Julia! You force me to sit in this chair, and you force me to eat lamb.”

Julia stood up suddenly and held her breath to stop herself from shouting. She couldn’t shout at John anymore, it wouldn’t look right for her to be shouting at a sick man.

“Perhaps you should come inside now John; it’s getting warm all of a sudden.”

“I want to watch the flowers.”

John took his foot out of the rest and put it on top of his other foot. He often did this, to make sure that the floor was still there. His chair made him feel like he was floating above the ground, like a zombie.

Julia walked quickly back to the kitchen door. When she reached the cover of the trees she started to fan her eyes to stop the tears from rolling down her cheeks. She’s not allowed to cry anymore either, as she has to be strong for John. If she were to lose her mind too, then nobody would have any control and the house would completely fall apart. Soon, she thinks, she will renovate the east side of the house to make a business of her own, something she has always dreamed of. She will be a seamstress at last and her business will provide for their new income.

Once back inside the shade of the house, Julia walked briskly to the nursery, to find her son Edward. He was playing with a toy engine when Julia ran into the room and swept him up into her arms.

“I’m going to make a cake today, Edward.” Julia smiled.

“Can I help you, Mummy?” he asked.

“If it makes you happy.”

“Who is the cake for?”

“It’s for daddy, to show him how much we love him.”

Julia carried Edward to the kitchen and set him down on the counter. Edward watched as she took eggs, flour, sugar and butter from the shelves and measured out all the ingredients on the scales. Then she put them into a mixing bowl and added some vanilla. Whilst the cake was baking Julia takes Edward out to the front garden, away from John. Then the cook started to yell from the kitchen and Julia ran back inside. When Edward toddled after her, he found her hanging her head over a something that was as black as the fireplace.

“What’s wrong Mummy?”

“I’ve burnt it.” She said, “I’ve burnt the cake.”

Julia was ashamed of herself, she had made thousands of cakes before but this time she had set the oven too high. She pushed the cake away from her as she doesn’t want to be associated with something as dreadful as a burnt cake. She slammed her way out of the kitchen door and stomped down the hall. As she pulled the front door open she walked straight into Ellen, her greatest friend, who gasped and used her free hand to protect a bouquet of fresh flowers.

“Ellen, you’re early!”

“I’m sorry.”

“No, no it’s fine.” Ellen gave Julia the flowers and the smell of them calmed her down.

“Thank you for getting the flowers, they’re beautiful.”

Julia led Ellen through to the kitchen and seeked out a vase for the flowers. She was calmer now that Ellen was there, and already she was beginning to laugh at her attempt at baking.

“How is John today?” Ellen asked.


“Is he excited do you think?”

“I think so.” Julia didn’t think that she was lying, as she knew that John would enjoy himself when his old friends were there.

“What’s that I can smell?” Ellen said, sticking her nose into the air.

“I burnt the cake.”Julia sighed.

“I can pick one up for you and I’ll be back in time for the party.”

“Thank you.”

Ellen leaned forward and offered her cheek, but Julia kissed her on the lips, only for a short time, but it seemed to her like the right thing to do. Ellen squeezed Julia’s hand before she leaves. She understands what Julia is going through, and although she can’t see any way to help, she feels that she can help Julia with the little things, even if they do seem insignificant to her.

Julia was glad that Ellen had come early because now all of her plans for the party had been made. When she took John upstairs, she was scared that he would start to fuss and complain. He was humming lightly to himself as Julia pulled his chair up the many flights of stairs, but as soon as Julia took his dinner suit from the wardrobe, he groaned loudly.


“What’s wrong?” she said.

“I don’t want to go to the party.”

“Don’t be ridiculous John, all of your guests are here already.”

Eventually, John gave in to Julia and as soon as he was smart enough, Julia wheeled him to the dining room. They were both silent as they made their way down the stairs, whether they were both nervous Julia couldn’t tell.

When Julia took John into the dining room, the other bank employees got to their feet and many of them raised their wine glasses high above their heads to him, and John greeted them warmly, much to Julia’s relief.

When the meal was served, Julia was pleased with herself because she had ordered pork as well as lamb. She was happy with her party now and she was especially pleased with the flowers. They stood tall and proud around the room, none of them with broken leaves or unopened buds. They represented her feelings, and perhaps Julia herself. As she watched John laughing and joking with his old colleagues, she (the only woman at the table) sat with a straight back and a large smile. She attracted more attention than John as the evening went on; everybody was interested in her business plans.

Julia thought that it was time for women to stand out. Instead of clinging onto their husbands elbow, their rank in society and their money, they should make something of themselves. Just like she has stepped up to the challenge of looking after John. None of the guests at the table could notice the difference in John, the way he changed the topic of conversation without any warning, and how he tended to talk more to himself than to the guests, only Julia could see that.

It was very late at night when the last guest finally left. Julia was exhausted, and John was asleep in his chair. Julia wondered whether John had had a nice time at the dinner party, or whether she had stolen his spotlight. He used to be in charge of the dinner parties, and he was so used to hosting them, but now Julia was in charge of everything.

Julia took John straight upstairs and she took her time taking him up the last stair case so that she didn’t wake him, but he sat up anyway when they get to their bedroom. Julia got John ready for bed first and she was surprised to find him still awake when she pulled back the covers and climbed into bed next him.

“Will you tell me a story about your day?” he said.

“I had a busy day today. We had a party this evening.”

“Did we? I don’t remember it.”

“What about your day John?”

“I stayed in the garden all day and watched Edward play.” He said

“Did you?”

“No. I think I watched the flowers.”

“Edward was with me today John.” Julia said.

“But I watched him play in the garden.”

“Do you have a headache John?”

John touched his fingertips to his temple, and then he shook his head. Julia picked up her favourite book and turned to the place marked by the bookmark. John was fascinated by the cover. It was green and black and on it there was a child wearing a scarf.

“Is that your favourite book?”He asked.

“Yes.” Julia mumbles. She had been captured by the words in the book.


“Goodnight John.”

“Yes.” He agreed, “I have to be up early tomorrow for work.”

Julia watched as John laid back into the pillows and pulled the covers all the way up to his chin. She placed her book on to the table next to the bed and laid down next to John. The dinner party, she thought, was a success and it didn’t matter that she cannot bake a cake or choose the correct dinner, she is good at her main job, at caring for her husband.

The Investigation

I've discovered lots of my creative writing pieces for my AS English, so I thought I'd share them all on my blog.


The car tyres crunched over the golden gravel and squealed to an abrupt stop in front of the rusty iron gates. Detective Holloway rolled down the driver’s windows so that there was a gap just big enough to slip a bony hand through. He used the radio on the dashboard to contact the police team, who were all ready on site, and waited patiently for the gates to be opened.

The beams of light from the headlights cut through the darkness that was swallowing the car, showing all of the dust and sand that had been disturbed by the sudden number of cars that had come to visit the derelict farmhouse on this cold night.

Who would have thought that somebody would have strayed so far off the beaten track to creep to this house? As the gates creaked open and the car trundled up the gravel pathway, full of weeds, the house finally appeared through the fog.

From the outside it looked inhabitable. The bricks on the chimney were twisted and crumbling, and the roof tiles that remained were clinging on by one rotten nail. The house was once painted white, but over the years, the dirt had built up, and now it is as grey as the storm clouds on a winter’s night.

Many of the windows had been boarded up with mouldy cork; however the few panes of glass that had survived the bitter weather, now resembled the windows of the nearby church. In that, they had turned to so many colours that it was impossible to see into the rooms beyond.

The history of the house is painted upon the windows, as clear as the ocean. From the burglaries, to the proof of squatters; it could all be seen in the windows. As Detective Holloway pulled up next to the other squad cars, he saw the window that bared the next chapter of the story. It was cruelly smashed, and the wooden frame had been pulled roughly from the wall of the house.

The police station had received the call about a disturbance in the dead of the night. An old lady, who lives not too far from the crime scene, had said that she had heard high pitched wailing and screams. At first, nobody had believed her, but because every call has to be followed through, the squad cars had been scrambled anyway.

As Detective Holloway pulled himself from the warmth of his car, he took his torch from the door pocket, and shone it towards the broken window. He could vaguely see into the room beyond. A four poster bed was squashed up against the far wall, with its sheets striped and the wooden headboard was dusty and chipped in several places. Leaning up against the bottom of the bed were some unused artist’s canvasses. One of them had been ripped from a shard of glass that had flown into it when the window had smashed. A low dresser had been pulled slightly away from the wall and its drawers were all askew. Detective Holloway quickly came to the conclusion that this room was the place that the crime had taken place, if there was a crime anyway.

The torch in Detective Holloway’s right hand flickered and died. He tried to revive it by shaking it vigorously, but it was completely broken. Being careful not to trip on any stray branches, or slip in the sticky mud, Detective Holloway carefully made his way to the other police officers.

All of the other officers were focusing all of their attention onto the old lady who had made the phone call, so none of them noticed Detective Holloway join them. They all shared the same expression of confusion and chagrin. When Detective Holloway was within earshot of the old lady, she was halfway through answering the officer’s questions.

“I was putting the cat out.” She said, “And I heard the loudest scream I’ve ever heard in my life. It was high too. It didn’t sound like a person because it was so high it made my ears ring.”

“So there wasn’t any screaming?” Detective Holloway asked, making the two officers next to him jump out of their skins.

“No, there was screaming as well.” The lady replied indignantly.

“How far away do you live?”

The old lady scowled at Detective Holloway and reluctantly pointed towards the front gates. In the distance, Holloway could just make out a stone cottage that he hadn’t noticed on the way in.

“How would you say you’re hearing was nowadays?” Holloway asked sincerely, but a couple of the other officers smirked. The old woman put her hands on her hips and tapped her toe impatiently. From the faint light of the car headlights, Detective Holloway could see how sunken her stern eyes were, and her collar bones that were protruding through her skin. She looked half starved, as if nobody had been to check up on her in a very long time.

“Are you saying that I’m lying?” she said through her teeth.

“Not at all.” Holloway assured her, “I’m simply pointing out that it is a very long way for a lady of your age to hear such a thing.”

“A lady of my age!” she shrieked.

“Why were you putting your cat out at such a late hour?” Holloway continued.

“She wanted to hunt.”

“Surely you could have done that earlier in the evening?”

“I forgot.” The lady replied hesitantly. Detective Holloway sighed heavily; he didn’t have time for this.

“Right, well, thank you, for your help. We’ll do our routine search and then continue in the morning I think.”

“I’m not making this up!” the lady cried desperately, “I really did hear something.”

Detective Holloway smiled at her encouragingly and walked away, back towards the house. The babble of police officers followed him.

“Do you think that this is a false report then?” one of them whispered.

“She’s an old lady; I don’t think all she’s saying is true.” Holloway laughed. “Let’s just do the search for the paper work and get back home.”

Suddenly, the window next to Detective Holloway exploded in front of his eyes like a firework. He threw his arm up to protect his face and he felt the shards of glass drop to his feet, ripping gashes into his clothes. A nearby door was flung open and it creaked loudly on its rusty hinges, causing all of the police team to swing around in synchronisation. Two figures, dressed entirely in black, sprinted from the house and disappeared into the corn field behind the house. The one in the front was extremely tall and lanky, and the one behind ran as fast as a cheetah.

As the officers stumbled into a disorganised chase, Detective Holloway faintly heard the old woman grumbling angrily.

“I told you so.” She murmured harshly.

The Magical Island

When my friend Alice flew to Seattle last year, we joked that she wouldn't have her flying partner there with her. When we went to California, we spent the entire 10 hour flight talking non-stop, watching films, playing cards etc, and it was such a fun journey. So this time, I made her a book to entertain her for the 8 hour flight. It had puzzles, jokes, random memories from our California trip, and a short story that I had written specially. So, here it is!

The Magical Island

Beyond the horizon of the deepest, bluest ocean, is an island where nothing happens. The grains of sand on the beach lay baking in the sun, the turtles stay tucked up in their shells, and the coconuts hang patiently form the trees, waiting for even the lightest wind to knock them to the ground.

After a storm, close to the strength of a hurricane, knocked a small fishing boat of course, this was the island where Francis Child was washed up, coughing and spluttering on the beach. The storm had destroyed his boat some way off the shore, and after a mile long swim through choppy water, Francis could barely move a muscle.

Like the sand, he lay frying in the summer heat for hours upon hours, blinking the salty water out of his eyes. It was his raspy throat that brought him back to consciousness. It felt like double-sided sandpaper scraping against his raw, sun burnt skin.

Though he was still exhausted, he slowly stood up, squinting against the dazzling light, and made his way for the cover of the trees. He tripped and fell every few yards, but eventually he made it to the refreshing shade. His throat was still on fire, and Francis knew that he desperately needed water. All of the vivid colours around him were merging together, and the world was swirling in front of his eyes. Francis smiled, everything was so beautiful.

The petals of the flowers were clear mirrors for the rich barks of the trees. The sand glistened as if there were tiny diamonds mixed in with the pearl sand grains. Small rock pools were dotted around the trees, each one holding resting wildlife, and fish swam effortlessly down the ribbon streams leading to the glorious and powerful ocean. It was all so bright and alive. Francis felt like he was in heaven.

A small coconut fell silently from a palm tree. It gathered its breath, then began to roll. Over and over until Francis began to follow. Its oval shape made it as clumsy as Francis. Bouncing off trees and wobbling precariously on the banks of rock pools, it steadily led the way to the very heart of the island.

The sight that Francis saw there was the most sublime setting he had ever seen. A magnificent waterfall fell from the dizzy heights of a sheer rock face. The water slithered over the edge and floated like a feather to the pool below.

Francis was amazed. Ignoring his bucking knees and furious throat, he ran laughing into the soothing water and dove head first into the ice cool waves. The small coconut watched as Francis dove and danced in the water, splashing around until he finally gave in to the protests of his throat. He gulped down the water as if it were oxygen. He crawled to the shallows, washed his cuts and bathed his bruises. After drinking so much fresh water, he lay on his back and within seconds, he had passed out, his legs still floating in the sweet oasis.

When Francis Child was rescued by a search team, roughly two days since the storm, he was rushed by helicopter to the nearest hospital on the mainland. The doctors said that he had suffered severe dehydration, and that it was a miracle he had found fresh water, as he must have been hallucinating since the moment his boat had overturned.

But to this day, Francis still clings on the dream of the magical island. He keeps the small, chipped coconut that was clutched tightly in his hand when he was found, and he tells his story to as many people that will listen.

Every summer, on the hottest day, Francis sails his new boat back to the island where nothing happens. He lays on the beach, the coconut in his left hand, and remembers the time when nature saved his life.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

"Young Ones"

I recently watched a documentary on the television about the ways in which society treat old people. It was a "Big Brother" type programme, where researchers had put elderly celebrities into a house and took away everybody who cared for them. The idea being that when they had to look after themselves and just generally do more, they would feel younger and their health would improve. I found it an incredibly heart warming programme, and it really changed the way it which I perceive old people to be. Everybody tends to stick to the stereotype that old people are completely incapable of doing anything for themselves, they all lose their minds and are vulnerable. When actually, they are nothing of the sort. The research showed that these particular old people were like the stereotype because, quite simply, they had complied to the stereotype and grown used to relying upon other people to help them. One lady, who played Mrs Cropley in The Vicar of Dibley, said that it was her sole ambition to be able to walk with one stick. She accomplished it in one day because she walked to the kitchen carrying a cup of tea, and so only had one stick. She was even dancing in a short space of time, showing how she could really do the things that she feared she couldn't. They all said that fear played a part in the way they lived there lives. The lady had suffered two strokes, and since then she hadn't picked up a paintbrush because she was so scared that she wouldn't be able to paint the way she used to. When she was persuaded to paint again, she was really good, and the researchers said that that act alone could prolong her life, simply because she is following a favourite hobby. My best moment by far though was when one of the men, who said that he hadn't been able to put on his own socks for around ten years, managed to put on both socks, shoes and tie his laces all by himself. But even reading that last comment I made, I have implied sympathy, but I really shouldn't have done. Just because he's old, doesn't mean I should pity him. Putting on your socks is hardly the sweetest of actions, and yet because he was old, I found it adorable!
This one hour long programme has taught me that old people should be pitying me. They have lived for longer, they have seen more, experienced more, and so I have no right to pity them or treat them like children. Old age is something that people take for granted, and for the people who reach their elderly years, they should be allowed to carry on believing that they are young, because this research showed that they will lead a better quality of life if they do so.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Creative Writing- YASS

This was my overall final piece for the course. It's a little depressing, I must have been in a solemn mood when I wrote it, and a bit cringey as well so I must have been in a reflective mood as well, but it got me my high mark so I don't mind!

The Magic of Music
I eased open the door to the playroom, and it creaked precariously on its hinges. I stood on the top step and squinted into the dark and dusty room. The velvet wallpaper was as horrible as it ever was, and I could still see the pictures that my brother and I had drawn on the wall under the window. I smiled as I remembered the trouble we had got into for that. As I tip-toed down the steps, my footsteps were dampened by a thick layer of dust. My old wooden toy boxes were stacked in a neat pile next to the stairs, never having been moved up to the loft. The carpet was tread-bare and the colourful pattern was barely clear. A thick brown rug covered the stain my Brother had made when testing out the paints he had gotten for his eighth birthday. He had got in trouble for that as well.
The only object that hadn’t been ruined in the room was the ancient piano that stood quietly in the far corner of the room. I ran my hands over the rich wood and blew the dust from the pictures sat on the top. I carefully lifted the lid and admired the symmetrical keys hidden beneath it. I took a long breath and played a tune that my Mum had taught me when I was a small girl. My fingers moved delicately over the ivory keys and blissful music reverberated around the bare playroom. As I played, I stared at the clouded photograph on top of the piano, and smiled sadly. My Mother smiled sweetly back at me. Her image was as still as a statue, but her eyes were so full of life. I gazed into them, and lost myself in the music.

Before she tragically died two years ago from cancer, my Mum was the cleverest person I had ever met. She was terribly outspoken and loud. When she laughed she sounded like a hyena, and when she was cross it was as if she had a loud speaker system installed within her vocal chords, but that was what I loved about her. I got all of my confidence from her, as well as my mousy blonde hair and poor eyesight. I loved it when people said that I reminded them of Carol, because I was always happy to be compared to her. Like my Mum, I always tried to be honest, and I never seemed to be best at any academic subjects at school. Instead, I shone at music. Jazz was our passion and classical piano was what we lived for. When my Brother and I became too old to make full use of the playroom, Mum brought a second hand, worn down piano and put it in the far right corner of the playroom. It was magnificent.
It was the 18th of March, and like every Saturday, my Dad and Brother were out cheering in vain for their football team. Mum and I had just been out shopping, trying to find some new curtains for the living room. When we arrived home, Mum covered my eyes with a woolly scarf that she dug out from the cupboard under the stairs, and lifted me up into her arms.
“I’ve got a surprise for you Holly.” She said to me.
“But it’s not my birthday yet.” I gasped. Mum just laughed and I could tell that she had taken me to the playroom because she stepped on the squeaky toy I always left by the door, and I could smell the salty odour from the play dough.
Mum took my blindfold off and I screamed when I saw the beautiful old piano in front of me. The wood was dark and unvarnished, the white keys had a yellow tint to them and there was a small pink flower sticker on the highest key, but it was by far the best toy in the playroom. Mum had tears in her eyes when she sat down softly on the padded stool. She took a deep breath and started to play such a beautiful melody. She closed her eyes and swayed gently to the fresh sound of her new piano.
“Music is the most powerful thing in the world.” Mum sighed wistfully, “It can provoke emotions within you, and it can clear your mind of all worry and stress. It is a salvation, an oasis, and should be enjoyed by every person in the world.” She pulled me up onto her lap and taught me the tune she had just finished playing. It was very difficult and I couldn’t play different tunes with both hands, so I ended up getting quite frustrated.
“I think I’ll let you play Mum,” I said, “I can’t do it.”
“You don’t have to be a virtuoso to enjoy music,” Mum laughed, and she tweaked my chin playfully, “Just play the first tune then and I’ll play the second.” I tried again, but I still pressed down all of the wrong keys.
“I can’t do it!” I moaned.
“Well don’t give up.” Mum said sternly, “I doubt Mozart ever gave up.”
“Well Mozart was better than I am.” I mumbled. Mum made me try over and over again and eventually I made my way successfully through the piece. After that, I couldn’t stop playing it.
I played the piano every day for hours upon hours. I remember the day that Mum and Dad told me that Mum was sick, because that was the day when we perfected our very first duet. I couldn’t quite believe it at first, Mum was never ill. She went to work every day and never put her feet up at the weekends. After they told me though, everything moved very quickly. Mum grew tired all of the time, and her hair fell out in big clumps. The worst time was when Mum was too tired to play the piano, and I would record myself playing all of the songs I could remember, and take them too her in the hospital. She said that she listened to them every night. So often in fact that her nurses started humming my tunes as they tried to make her better.
I met a really nice nurse at the hospital. She was called Julie, and she was a short and slim girl. She had only just left nursing school and my Mum was helping her with her bedside manner. She was so funny, and often said that if she wasn’t so passionate about nursing, she would become a stand up comedian and make people feel better that way. She made me laugh because she was completely tone deaf. Mum and I would hum our tunes and Julie would add her own melody without even realising it. Mum was proud of her though, because she didn’t even stop when a stroppy old lady with grey hair and wrinkly cheeks complained about her. Within a week, my Mum had the lady converted to music, and she would join in too.
“Any message can be given through music.” Mum said to her, “You can shout to the high heavens, or write down all of your thoughts until you run out of ink, but add even the shortest melody, and you can get across to anybody.”
The nurses let Mum go home for a couple of days when she was feeling a little better, and as soon as we opened the door, my Dad carried her to the piano. She sat in a wheelchair and quietly rested her hands on top of the keys. Then Dad brought in hot chocolate and he had even put marsh mallows in the cups. We sat in the playroom for hours, playing games and talking. I beat my Brother at Monopoly for the first time, and my Dad pulled all of his muscles playing Twister. We ordered a take away pizza and Dad made us ice cream sundaes with chocolate sprinkles. It was such a lovely evening that we hated taking Mum back to the hospital for her last treatments. She was always optimistic though, and she continued to pester me and my Brother about homework even when she wasn’t at home. She made me promise to carry on playing the piano, and become the best pianist in the whole of Europe, but after she died, I couldn’t bring myself to even lift the lid of the piano, and our house became deathly silent for many years.

My shaking fingers clutched onto the notes of the last chord. The music was in perfect harmony. After all this time, the piano hadn’t slipped even a fraction out of tune. I smiled and took a deep breath to stop my tears from falling onto the rich wood. The music gently floated away, and I pulled the cover back over the black and white keys. They would stay hidden, completely untouched for several more years, protecting the precious memory of my Mother, and the salvation she got from her music.