The first story gets my vote. Not only because of the plot, but also because of the style. Despite a few awkward sentences here and there, I really liked the narrative. Everything from using the right expressions to lexical units was thought through. I really got sucked in, and the ending left a strong impression. Thumbs up :)
Award for Excellence for Short Fiction (Day 2)
Of Paedophiles, Terrorists and Darth Vader
I was the last one. AGAIN! The last one in front of school waiting for Mum to pick me up. But as always something was more important apparently. “The traffic rush was even worse than usual”; “Boss gave me extra work”; ‘Blah blah blah’. I could imagine all those ‘excuses’. But what good is sorry when the time I could spend playing with my awesome Luke Skywalker action figure I got for my birthday is being wasted. “Enough, I’m going home by myself this time! I’m old enough anyways!”
Honestly, I don’t understand why Mum’s always so strongly against me going home alone. It isn’t like there’s a war on or something. And it’s not even that far. At least that’s what I thought until I realized that I had no money for the bus. “Well I’ll walk then, anyways the Sun is shining. I love it when the sun is shining!” At least I could see things and stuff. I’m very good at seeing stuff. I often see things others don’t, a funny picture on a wall or a guy wearing his T-shirt backwards. The first thing I saw was what I see every time, ‘the sad people’ as I like to call them. All those sad guys, you know the ones that work in those big buildings with those small cardboard offices, just walking around in suits with a dead look in their eyes, living the same old routine full of orders: “Wake up, you have to work! Suit up, it is not casual Friday! Eat your breakfast, or you will die! And on and on…..” Following all those stupid rules, every day is the same. I don’t want to end up like that when I’m all big and have a moustache (because moustaches are cool). „These people, no fun in lives they have,” like Master Yoda would say. Oh I forgot to say, I totally love Star Wars. Ever since my dad let me watch the original trilogy with him and his friends I’ve been absolutely obsessed with everything that has something to do with it. But I’m probably getting off track here. Long explanation short (perhaps it was little bit longer than that) I don’t want to become…uh... Oh yes! I don’t want to become a Stormtrooper, a clone with no real life outside killing for the glory of the Empire, and it really bums me out that my mum and dad who used to be so much fun are starting to be like that. And I know I got back to Star Wars but it’s a perfect way to describe what I feel and see. Mum says adults can’t always have fun like us kids but I think she’s wrong.
I’ve already walked about half of the way, when I’ve come to City Park. I love it. There’s a bunch of benches, a fountain with a statue of some Neptoon guy. Dad said he ruled all the seas once or something. There’s also a small pond with ducks and swans and the grass. Yeah, the most wonderful thing in the world, so soft and so green, there is nothing more green than the grass in City Park. Once when we were there for a picnic I even fell asleep on it and it was the best sleep ever. This time something was odd. “DANDELIONS!” I didn’t realize it was that time of the year again. The whole park was practically littered with them. Mum makes these awesome dandelion crowns that make you look like that guy Caesar I once saw in one of the books Dad keeps in his study. Tony said I look gay wearing one. He obviously didn’t know about my awesome Jedi powers until he was flat on his back. And he was lucky I wasn’t sure what ‘gay’ means back then or he would’ve ended up much worse.
I’ve decided to sit for a while and enjoy of the park. After all, I’m a big boy walking home from school all alone; I can do anything I want. Only a free spot was on a bench next to this guy reading a book and I didn’t want to sit on the grass because it was still kinda cold. So I asked him if I could sit there.
“By all means, my friend!” he replied with a big smile.
He was different. Everything about him was so radiant. He was wearing quite unusually coloured clothes that made him look like a fairy tale character. Even the book he was reading had its title written in strangely shaped letters, every one a different colour. And while I was observing him, I must’ve have stared quite intensively, because suddenly he looked at me suspiciously, not angrily though. I tried to look like I was looking at the trash bin behind him but I guess I wasn’t convincing enough.
“So what’s a young man like you doing all alone here?” he asked me.
Only then did I notice that his voice had a funny melody to it. And also, his skin wasn’t white as I would suspect (little slow seeing things that day I guess). It was a little bit “brownish”. Evidently he wasn’t from around here. I was about to tell him about why I was there and stuff when I remembered the many lessons Mum and Dad gave about NOT talking to strangers. Well they should’ve come for me if they’re so concerned about my safety.
And so I told him what happened and stuff. He said my parents must be worried sick about me, but also that he understands my disappointment. And then we started talking about other things and stuff. He shared his life story with me. How he escaped from his country (I can’t remember the name, it was long complex and exotic), because there is a big war there. Not just any kind of war, but a kind where the country is divided and people who should be brothers are murdering each other, a civil war it is called. What could be worse than that? I feel sick just thinking about. How he searched for happiness in the West he’s heard so many wonderful stories about. How he finally decided to live in this city. How he’s disappointed about the lack of joy and empathy he thought we possessed in excess.
“You see, back home before the war we were all friends even if we didn’t know the other person. Here people are so cold and distant; it’s like they’ve no life left in them.” This foreign guy was awesome and I really enjoyed talking to him. He even liked Star Wars! And I always thought only Americans could like Star Wars. “Oh I have something here I think you will love!” he said suddenly and started rummaging inside the bag he had by his side.
“SEBASTIAN! There you are!” Dad was coming towards us. “What are you doing with my son, you, terrorist paedophile scum, you?!”
The man was absolutely shocked. “I was only…”
“Save it, I don’t care for any of your lousy excuses, get out of my sight and be glad I am not calling the police.”
I felt like Luke when he discovered Darth Vader was his father. I felt like yelling. “Noooo! This monster can’t be my father!” Dad dragged me to the car and I got one last glance at the guy standing there with an expression of complete confusion on his face.
I refused to talk to Dad for like 5 days. Mum tried to explain what he did and what could’ve happened if the guy was really this paedophile (does bad stuff to kids) or terrorist (blows stuff up). He wasn’t any of those, but I guess my parents don’t understand people can be nice without a reason. I’ll never understand why dad behaved that way, just because this man wasn’t the ‘clone’ everyone’s supposed to be. Finally I gave in and behaved like before. But only because I hope that like Luke, I’ll be able to find some good in my dad after all.
Long, long time ago, when we still drove gasoline-powered cars, something happened to me. It was the winter of 2004 and I was only 10 years old. That year, winter was extremely beautiful. It was snowing very hard.
I asked Mama if I could go play outside! My friends, Michaela and Vera, had already started building a snowman. Everything was so white and pretty!
I put on all the warm clothes that I could find in my room and I eagerly ran out of the door. I knew that I had only a few hours before it gets dark so I wanted to spend outside as much time as I could. Michaela and Vera were almost done building their snowman. It made me very sad because I wanted to help them but they promised that we were going to do something much more exciting. Michaela told me that Nick and Thomas had already been on their way to the park so we had to hurry up and meet them there. As we passed by our school I kept staring at a big wall which had been built only a few months ago. Michaela’s and my parents were always arguing about the wall. I didn’t really know why. As a child I had no interest in politics. Michaela told me that my parents were wrong, because they thought that gypsies should not be separated from us. Back then I had no idea what the word gypsy meant but I guessed they must have been very bad people, because Michaela’s eyes always turned red whenever she was talking about them. When we finally got into the park, the boys were already there.
“Ok girls, you’re going to lose this battle!” said Thomas.
It finally occurred to me! We were going to have a snow fight! I loved snow fighting so much, even though my mother was always worried about me. Well, she was just being extremely overprotective.
“Everybody has 10 minutes to build their fortresses!” yelled Thomas.
I tried to do my best and build the best fortress, because I had always won the snow battles, even against the boys! I was the best and I had to prove it!
A few minutes after the fight began, Michaela ran toward me and shouted: “Run! The gypsies are here! We will get sick if they come closer to us!” I had no idea what she was talking about. I did not see anybody or anything suspicious or even dangerous. Thomas and Nick started to run as well. Suddenly I was left alone in the middle of the park. It was getting darker and I felt scared.
Then I noticed some kids entering the park. I thought it was my friends but I was wrong. I had not seen these children before. There might have been 5 of them. I began to feel scared as the darkness took over the light. Now I had no chance to avoid them. Michaela and Vera had told me so many stories about gypsies. I panicked. What if they kill me? Or steal my clothes and I’ll freeze to death! I ran and I ran! However I did not see a big fallen branch in front of me and tripped. I hurt my foot badly although I had fallen into the soft snow. I couldn’t stand up but all of sudden there was a girl standing right next to me. She was probably the same age as me. Her hair was jet black and her skin was much darker than mine. She was one of them!! She was going to steal my clothes! I closed my eyes and waited for the worst. She grabbed my coat and I started calling for help! But then...she was just helping me stand up! “Are you okay?” she asked me.
I still could not believe that she wasn’t trying to hurt me or rob me. “I think I’ve broken my leg.” I said in a very quiet voice. “Wait here, I’ll call my mom and we’ll help you get home.”
Oh, God help me! Now they are going to take me away and sell me for organs!
Few minutes later the girl’s mother showed up and I told her where I lived. They took me home. Luckily I was alive and my leg was not broken. My mom was very mad at me; she knew I had been snowball fighting with my friends. I did not find the courage to tell her how I had got home. Before I went to sleep I realized that I didn’t have the silver bracelet my late grandma had given me. That gypsy girl must have taken it!
A few months later something unexpected happened. I and my classmates were waiting in the class for our teacher Mrs. Pawlowska. When she finally showed up, she wasn’t alone. “Good morning, my dear students! I would like to introduce you to your new classmate. This is Sara!” Mrs. Pawlowska said excitedly.
“Sara is that gypsy that had stolen my bracelet!” I told myself. During the break Sara approached me and gave me a small envelope. I opened it slowly. To my surprise I found my bracelet in it. “You must have lost it in our car. I wanted to bring it back to you but my parents would not let me go to your neighbourhood by myself,” she said with shame in her voice.
From that day on, we talked to each other every day until Sara passed away.
That’s How It Works
His name is Bruno. He is 7 but he says he is 8. He just doesn’t like odd numbers. ”Odd numbers are odd,” says Bruno. Weird is what his schoolmates call him.
Bruno loves to watch the sky. That’s his world with all its unique creatures. Bruno always takes pictures of the clouds. Then he puts them in his heavenly colouring book where everyone can colour them the way he likes, depending on what he sees in the cloud. It is not defined what a cloud depicts, it is left only to your fantasy. “I will sell the Heavenly colouring books, earn money from them and then I’ll travel up to the sky to see all the world.” That’s Bruno’s plan.
Bruno has a favourite place from which he watches the sky. It’s under the solitary tree by the footpath on the meadow, a ten minute walk from his house. It’s such a nice place that it’s no wonder Bruno sometimes falls asleep lying there. Actually, this happens to him anywhere at any time.
Once, he was awoken by a cool touch on his forehead.
“Oh, hello. Who are you?” asked Bruno.
“My name is Fred.”
They shook hands as big men do. Fred’s hand was white and very, very wet. It was like touching water. Fred was all white and wet. That’s because he was a cloud.
“How old are you?” asked Bruno.
“I don’t know,” said Fred.
“Why don’t you know?”
“I don’t know. Clouds don’t care,” said Fred.
“Uhm,” mumbled Bruno. ”And how did you get here?”
“Well, I don’t know. Not that I don’t like it here, but I would like to go back,” said Fred. “The problem is,” Fred continued,”that I don’t know how I can get back.”
“I’ll help you,” said Bruno.
“How?” Fred asked curiously.
“I don’t know...yet. Let’s go to my place and we will think of something,” suggested Bruno. So off they went.
“Nice house,” said Fred when they were in Bruno’s cosy family house.”Can I have a look around?”
“Of course,” replied Bruno.”I’ll find something to eat.” Bruno took a pot of tomato soup out of the fridge, put it on the cooker and turned one of the knobs. That’s the way his mum cooks for him. “Fred may turn red after he eats it. I’ve never seen clouds the colour of tomatoes,” Bruno smiled to himself. “Would the rain be red too? Would it taste differently? It would probably leave spots on clothes, mum wouldn’t be pleased with that,” wondered Bruno.
Then Fred returned. “You have lots of strange things but I still have no idea how I will get back to the sky.”
“Hey, I got it, I got it!” said Bruno suddenly. “You can get back by plane. We’ll book a ticket for you! I’ve saved up some money. My dad can help us with it, I can call him,” said Bruno excitedly.
“How much do you have?” asked Fred.
“Exactly five euros and twenty four cents.”
“I’m afraid it’s too little even for Ryanair. They offer tickets from seven euros. I’ve seen it on their planes,” said Fred.
“Oh,” sighed Bruno sadly. There was a minute of silence.
“Could you do this?” asked Bruno. He was stirring the soup with a wooden spoon. “I need to pee.”
“No problem,” said Fred.
Bruno took a while. Digestion problems. When he got back to the kitchen, there was only a small part of Fred’s head left as his vapour disappeared into the cooker hood. Fred only managed to wink at Bruno before he disappeared completely.
“I haven’t taken a picture of you,” said Bruno, smiling. ”Well, see you later up there,” said Bruno, talking to the ceiling.
The next day at school students were discussing water in Science class. Bruno was perfectly concentrated. Then the teacher asked what happened to water when someone heats it. The rest of the children’s open faces were blank. They had no idea. Only Bruno was smiling and waving his hand wildly in the air.
“Do you know the answer, Bruno?” asked the teacher.
“Yes, Mrs. Melos. It turns into vapour. There’s nothing else left.”