FREE TO ENTER!
Congratulations to Anna Galbraith for
her atmospheric poem. She wins £30.
Our three runners-up receive a Collins
English Dictionary concise edition
containing encyclopedic entries, an
essential study aid.
By Kirsty-Louise Hunt, aged 14
FIRST PRIZE £30
he inner-city was stiflingly warm already, yet it was barely past
midday. Screams of laughter floated in through the window of one
apartment building, where the Johnson family sat stony-faced round
the kitchen table.
Mr and Mrs Johnson sat on one side, with two tall, muscular police
by Anna Galbraith, aged 14
officers at their shoulders. The three Johnson children sat across from
their parents, each one looking nervous. The silence weighed heavily
down on the group, the ticking of the clock was magnified, the seconds
Our hands entwined like the limbs of the trees, ticking away.
The fresh shades of their leaves tint the sun, Eventually, the taller of the two policemen broke the silence,
My face absorbed by its light breaking through, directing his gaze to the eldest Johnson child. ‘Are you sure you
Where shedding leaves accept Autumn’s begun. didn’t see anything?’ His tone was patient and helpful, but his eyes
were dull, bored, having dealt with the same situation hundreds of
I watch my footsteps synchronised with his own, times before.
A pattern created as our feet draw Mallachy Johnson shook his head. ‘No. I didn’t see… anything.’
A trail dividing this patchworked path, He shifted uncomfortably on his chair, feeling the gaze of his smallest
Tracing lovers a thousand years before. brother on him. The smaller of the two police officers sighed. With a
non-committal ‘We’ll be in touch,’ the officers made their excuses and
Our tunnelled chrysalis of fading greens, left, leaving the Johnson family to breathe freely again.
The mockery of nature’s ﬁ ne laws, The youngest Johnson child frowned, as his family relaxed. ‘Why
Flatters itself as our covering above, did you lie, Mallachy?’ he piped up, shaking his pre-adolescent head
And creates our sombre bronze ﬂ oor. with confusion.
‘Shut up, Carl,’ the middle Johnson child hissed, as their eldest
sibling appeared to grow angry.
Anna attends Ripley St Thomas Church of England High School in Mallachy Johnson turned to his youngest brother, hands shaking as
Lancaster. She likes creative writing, reading and drama and her favourite he tried to keep his voice as steady as possible. ‘It’s not our job to get
authors are CS Lewis and Jane Austen. involved, Carl. It’s none of our business,’ he snapped.
Carl Johnson raised his eyebrows.
‘But whose business is it?’ he asked curiously.
His eldest brother didn’t answer, only turned his head away. Mr
Johnson stood up. ‘Now, Carl, that’s just the way things are. Someone
else will tell them what happened, it won’t be us,’ he finished firmly,
making his way away from the table, indicating that the subject was
‘But –’ Carl tried to interject, unable to accept his family’s logic, but
his mother hushed him.
‘Shh, Carl,’ she pleaded with him. Carl fell silent.
His brow creased in a frown once more, and he looked around at his
family home. The glaring New York sunshine filled the room.
‘Mom, can I go out?’ he begged, throwing a longing glance at the
glorious weather outside.
His mother hesitated, before nodding. ‘Sure, but don’t go far,’ she
warned, her words easily swept aside as Carl grinned a wide toothy
grin. With a few strides he was out of the door, skipping slightly down
the street, enjoying the feel of the baking sun on his skin.
The streets were teaming with traffic, the pavements jostled with
dozens of children, teenagers, Carl smiling at a few that he knew as he
passed, making his way toward the playground.
As he approached the rougher part of town, his pace slowed, as
the crowds became thinner. From here his destination was only five
minutes away, the long way around would take fifteen. Impatient,
Carl decided it wouldn’t really make any difference if he took a
He made his way more slowly through the streets, scuffing his shoes
on the pavement. Everything still seemed simple to Carl Johnson, his
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