As Head of the English Department I am really pleased to be able to submit the following outstanding prose and poetry for publication in our Newsletter.
Mrs F Norton
Aspen Fox, Year 11
An image sticks in my mind. It vaguely resembles the vanitas paintings I used to create; clocks as the foreground, thoughts as the background. I stare at the ceiling and reminisce. Reminisce of the water, the brush. The dull colours look similar to those surrounding me in my room, as does the contrast of my blue curtains- which would be the mirror.
Mundane, melancholy and monotonous. I start my day. Cereal and milk- clock. Wooden chopping board- clock. Door handle- clock hand. The whole door morphs in front of me; chipped white paint becomes smooth, paint-like, and the real woodenness becomes perfectly shaped, carved, roman numerals. Tick tock. It engulfs me.
James Chambers, Year 9
Dread, unrest, jaded. These are all things I felt deep in my heart. My enthusiasm for life has dissipated into thin air. Motivation lacking. Energy is all burnt out and nothing. Absolutely nothing. I was never content. I always felt I needed more, something to push, but nothing. Nothing ……. my interest, nothing made me feel as if I was complete or I had succeeded. Twenty seven and not a penny to my name.
As I distinctly recall walking in to the forest I thought of all the horrible things that could happen, but I thought ‘I will be an optimist and be naïve’ and I walked in knee deep mud. In the treacherous forest the rain started to drizzle and I could smell the earthy fumes rising.
This very forest was mined illegally and the vigorous smell of mercury meant I got flashbacks to Vietnam. I served in the army but they pronounced me as KIA and the mistake I made that day impacted my life forever. So I left it all behind. Every night I see them. It is projected on to the night sky and they were swallowed away by the night sky.
I should never have ran away and disobeyed orders and I should be court marshalled. I thought I might as well hand myself in so I was finally content.
The one constant in life, the only thing that is here forever and has always been here. In dreams we can’t die but it’s eternal. Your brain shuts off and you decompose under the ground. Taxes are also another thing and Putin. It’s just the society we make.
Poppy Keilloh, Year 9
All the trouble sprouted when my delinquent sister found a creepy ventriloquist dummy.
Two days ago my stupid sister found a creepy ventriloquist dummy. Since then it’s been hell. Its intoxicating eyes overcast its uncanny body. Dread flushes around my body.
My parents call my sister crazy because she sees it too, but in reality she’s just as sane as I am. It’s haunting me, making me cautiously watch my every move. My sister has been practicing ventriloquism, but I swear that thing has been talking by itself.
I’m not going off my rocker I promise. It talks to me. It makes me do things. I’m sane. I’m insane. It’s establishing my every move, haunting me as I ponder about my every move. It’s watching me. For real. I know it is; I can feel it. I’m alarmed by the slightest noise. What has it done to me?
Every step I take, every move I make, feels like I’m the one being controlled. Some stranger’s brain inside of my body. I can’t make my own decisions anymore. The anticipation of what is to come next builds up inside of me. It makes me overpowered with dread and boils inside me, waiting to erupt out of me like the lava once did to Mount Everest.
The panicky feeling inside of me drowns me and I can’t breathe.
All of a sudden, I feel a hand on my arm. Then another on my leg. My eyes shoot open and I’m surrounded by people who look as if they want to kill me, wrap restraints lightly around me so I can’t move. I’ve done it again. I’m back in the psych ward. I’ve lost the plot again. I’ve ruined it again, but I swear it was real. It really was.
Antonije Pavlovic, Year 11
I awoke abruptly. For a second I lay in my bed unable to process what had just happened. It was surreal, yet so real.
Unable to piece together the details of the dream causing my distress, I wrote it off as a meaningless nightmare and resolved not to let it ruin my day off. Nevertheless, despite my best attempts I was blocked from falling back asleep- in fact I felt I may never sleep again. Strange, all of this fuss and I still couldn’t remember what happened in this dream.
Deciding finally to get up early, I checked the alarm clock. Suddenly the hands started moving back and forth randomly, fast then slow. The rim around the outside of the dial then started to writhe and contort, squirming like a small golden-scaled snake and then droop pathetically as if it had been melted by a roaring fire just underneath it. I watched horrified and silently from the other side of the bed as it began to hang limply over the side of the table. I rubbed my eyes and sure enough there it stood, ordinary as anything, ticking away calmly. What scared me the most, however, wasn’t the obvious shock at what had just occurred before my eyes- it was the fact that I wasn’t surprised in the slightest. Somehow I expected it all to happen the moment I glanced at the clock…
I figured, obviously, this was something I dreamt about last night. It was weird that I was so troubled by something like that though- I’d had peculiar dreams before but they never rattled me like this. Growing anxious while trying to remain collected, I stood up and drew the curtain.
Nothing out of the ordinary appeared before me; breathing a slight sigh of relief I stared for a minute at my garden. Just before I turned away I glimpsed an owl (unusual for the time of day, but I was reluctantly beginning to accept today was different from any other) gazing fixedly at me, into my soul. Its distinct vermilion eyes were as familiar as an old friend’s and its meaningful stare cut through the glass of the window, like an invisible laser beam pouring from its inky black pupil. I was frightened but subconsciously determined not to break the eye contact, as if I was having a silent conversation with it. Eventually it flew away casually. It wasn’t until after the owl left I noticed that the tree it had perched on was strikingly bare, as if it had died decades ago, despite the fact it was Spring and until yesterday it was as leaf-rich as any other in the garden.
Familiar – again. My concern was growing more rapidly now, this dream was seemingly more meaningful than I first thought.
I got dressed and headed downstairs. After breakfast had passed uneventfully and I fed the goldfish, I sat down at the piano; nothing cleared my head like music. The upright piano was my most prized possession, it was around 80 years old, made of resonant rosewood and with genuine, exquisitely glossed ivory keys. It was my pride and joy.
As I played my first few notes, the keys floated slowly up out of the instrument and formed an orderly row hovering in front of me, just below eye level. They twisted themselves into perfect cylinders and then slowly carved one end into a sharp point. For a few seconds I sat terrified, looking at the row of bright white miniature missiles or large bullets. Then suddenly, they turned towards the goldfish and from left to right sped one by one towards her. It was like a supernatural military exercise and my fish was the target. Terror consumed me as they travelled to the poor animal. I threw one last glance at my little fish before its cruel, untimely death. It peered timidly back at me with the same distinctive claret eye of the owl, sending me a silent last plea for help. I could do nothing. The terrible weapons approached her face, I couldn’t bear to watch, I shut my tearful eyes immediately before the impact but bit my tongue accidentally. Just then the ivory bullets disintegrated…
I heard my fish splashing away happily, uninterested in my traumas and I opened my eyes. The fish was unscathed and the piano as usual. I was now thoroughly petrified, because guess what? I had seen the vile ivory bullets before. Guess where? It must have been in my dream.
The dreadful pattern had become too much for me to handle. I had to get out of the house momentarily. I locked the door and set off down the street. The sky was clear and a delicate shade of blue. I walked aimlessly and arrived at the cliff edge overlooking the sea. It was a windy day and waves rolled into the shore below harmlessly one by one. I sat down in the grass and tried to take my mind off the harrowing hallucinations I had experienced earlier.
Down on the seafront I looked at the hive of activity in the harbour. Innumerable boats were nipping in and out, vessels for business and vessels for pleasure. I remembered the last time I had been past there just a few weeks ago, I was waiting to meet somebody and found myself looking absentmindedly at the water. There was a thin sheet of oil covering the surface and when the sun shone on it, it would sparkle in all of the colours of the rainbow. I never saw a fish there for all the years I had been living here.
Seeing the damage done to the environment by humans I could no longer watch it go on. I averted my gaze. My eyes settled on a nearby main road. Cars were scuttling up and down the tarmac snake like ants in a line. Except ants didn’t pollute the air.
Fed up of watching the slow, gradual, human destruction of the natural world, I looked back out to sea.
Slowly the sky starts to be filled with grey clouds. Soon after, it begins to rain gently, but it doesn’t bother me- at least rain is normal, which is more than can be said about the “events” back at my house. The rain is increasing in intensity and the drops are growing to alarmingly large sizes. All the time the sky is turning blacker, forming a thick blanket, shrouding the landscape in darkness. The sun seems by now a distant memory, never to grace these shores again. I must stop this before I become terrified again. I am not going to let it happen again, all day this nightmare has been tormenting me even though it wasn’t even bad enough for me to remember. It is ridiculous. I rub my eyes. I open them. Still the storm keeps increasing in power. The wind speed approaches hurricane-like levels and I cling to a large rock nearby to avoid being blown off the cliff. I don’t understand. I bite my tongue- on purpose this time. Still no salvation from the terrifying reality. Because this time it’s different, I feel myself being soaked to the skin; I hear the wind roaring threateningly at me, it definitely wasn’t imaginary like before. A flash of lightning slices through the sky, through the hearts of onlookers, through their hope- and straight through the veil concealing the memory of my dream. It finally comes to me. I see it: the end of humanity. It had played out just like this in my dream. The melting of the clocks: the melting of humans attempting to control the natural order. The desperate look in the eye of the fish, of the owl. The ivory bullets. The flood. All of it. It makes sense to me now, I understand it. Except the flood hasn’t happened yet. Now I know the end result: I can accept my fate, the fate of the human race. We have gone too far and I guess we have probably deserved this. The revenge of Mother Nature. I see the concrete buildings down below begin to fall apart, brick by brick. The waves grow. I see the water rising to drown everyone. I watch as the clouds gather now to wash us away. Human civilization disintegrating before my eyes. And then the big wave…
But it isn’t what we all thought. We are being swept away to a new beginning, for humans and for nature. Another chance to live the right way this time, in harmony with the earth, with each other and ourselves. Not our demise but our new hope.
Theo Drayton, Year 10
All the lights and all the sounds
Break through the winter atmosphere
Just from the air that hangs around
You can tell the exact time of year
But White Christmases are simply dreams
For we stand here, knee deep in slush
All the shops burst at the seams
To accommodate the shopping rush
The stress! The stress! What gift to buy?
For you’d never dream that you’d upset
All the girls and all the guys
Of family you’ve never met
And as you walk up your dark street
(The nights have grown all cold and murky)
You realise you forgot one treat
In the form of the traditional Christmas turkey
So you make your way back out to town
In a car not braced for the weather’s wrath
And a blizzard decides to settle down
To block your only snowless path
And when you finally make it home
And think the day is at its end
You realise you’re not alone
The house is full of unplanned friends
While you try to handle all the guests
Who only stopped by to say hello
You see your children, little pests
Run out into the garden of snow
Follow them out, to reel them back
Stop as you hear one child grieve
“Will Santa come? With his big sack?
Or is he just make-believe?”
You bring them close, and then you say
In a voice somehow as strong as steel
“You will find, on Christmas day,
That Santa Claus is truly real.”
For Christmas isn’t about the stress
That haunts the bleak, frigid December
So if you’re stuck in rushed unrest
Just slow down, sit, and then remember:
Christmas is a force sent from above
Of turkey, family, sprouts and trees
So sit back with the ones you love
And make some memories
Y9 students were invited to breakfast today. They all had an excellent year and are great role models! Miss Robins enjoyed hearing about career aspirations: dentist, lawyer, journalist, actor, teacher(we hope at #TeamGraham!), B&B proprietor and plans to go to university! 🥐👏🤩 pic.twitter.com/6TGx…