The Deserted Mansion By Charlotte Parnham, Year 8

Many years ago, their were two happy, fortunate children, Fred and Lucy. They lived in a big house stuffed with all sorts of lovely things like dark  rocking horses and bright books and dolls and soldiers and board games to play. They sang and danced in pretty manicured garden and had delicious food. There mother and father taught them to read and write and sing and paint and draw and Fred and Lucy were intelligent, articulate, dapper twins who smiled a joyful grin constantly.

One day, Fred and Lucy were told whilst eating a delicious breakfast of boiled soldiers and dilly eggs that their mother and father were having a baby.

“A baby!” cried Lucy, thrilled. “Babies are such pretty things, with their sweet docile eyes and button noses!”

“Is a boy or a girl?” asked Fred, whilst mentally wishing and wishing frantically that it would be a boy for him to climb trees and play battles and marbles with all day instead of house and silly stitching.

“We don’t know whether it will be a boy or a girl, darling,” soothed his mother, looking down to her stomach.”

“Aaaahh, yes, the babies inside you,” breathed Lucy, as though it was the strangest thing that she had ever heard of, with a wide, curious smile.

The twins were very excited about their new sibling. Fred fantasised about having someone to play marbles and climb trees with and to play adventurous pretend games with. He had a whole new forest of stories just waiting to acted out, worlds to explore, all with his new twin. He pictured vast sailing ships, to be sailed along exotic seas to find Islands full of dark caves, birds with glorious plumage, and fiesty pirates. He would have never shared these worlds with Lucy, because Lucy didn’t tinier how to act, or put expression into anything.

Whilst Fred conjured up exciting realms for him and the baby could explore, Lucy thought about being a big sister and practised pushing a pram and changing a diaper. She sang sickening sweet lullabies every night before she went to sleep, which were pretty but did not help Fred sleep. There was a new step in both of their strides, which in Fred’s was a big boisterous step and in Lucy’s a pretty skip.

Their parents were very excited too. But all changed when the baby came and their mother died…

The father suddenly changed with grief. He trim whisker became a dark mass of a beard, whilst his light smile turned in a menacing scowl. His green eyes were dark and tight, his nose long like a hawk’s beak. He did not want to see anybody, he was angry.

“TAKE THE FILTHY BABY AWAY FROM ME THIS INSTANT.”

A bolder nurse stepped forward, clutching the puny, red, bawling baby. “Look at her. sir. Look at her big blue eyes. She’s a perfect sister for Fred and Lucy, “ she simpered thrusting the baby forward.

Looking down at the child with utter disgust he screeched “ARE YOU BLIND? TAKE THE GHASTLY THING AWAY FROM ME THIS INSTANT!” Turning to his secretary, he bellowed, “MAKE ARRANGEMENTS FOR HER TO BE PACKED OFF TO AN ORPHANAGE IN TIMBUKTU!”

Trembling, the secretary stammered, “Yes, sir.”

In a dreadful, high pitched mimic the master cried, “Yes, sir, yes sir, three bags full.”

All the servants were now terrified of him. They were constantly on edge as to what would annoy him, scuttling in his room with food, unsure of how to move, what conversation to make, how to breathe, when he would want things. He began to feel neglected as well as down right miserable. But when they did come, he disliked their presence, wishing to be left alone, finding there placid smile, the sound of their tiptoeing steps immensely irritating.

Fred and Lucy were not attended to. They were left in their big bedroom, with their lavish toys which they didn’t feel like playing with. Peering out of the window, they saw the greying day, and a cab taking away their fathers secretary, who was holding a white parcel…Why would a parcel be white?

When someone did come in they rushed forward, eyes down, bursting through the door. They brought bowls of stodgy, revolting cold porridge that smelt so disgusting and tasted so grotesque that they eventually threw them out of the window, where they were left to rot.

Fred and Lucy were bored silly, though they had so many pretty toys and books. The only thing that really interested them was the way no-one came and suddenly life was very different. They knew their mother had had the baby. They knew their father liked them very much? Had all the servants been killed in a fire? Stabbed ruthlessly by a savage invader? But, no, this was impossible. The house was in one piece. More than one servant came. Food was still being made, even though it was detestable. This was quite the queerest thing ever.

Chapter 2

The twins decided they wanted to go foraging and find out what had happened.

“Yes, “ said Lucy. “It will end our great puzzling and solve the mystery.”

So the children set out, eyes peeled wide with curiosity. What would they find? Huge snakes with a venomous tongue, poisoning all the staff? A huge party with massive banners, barrels of champagne and piles of glorious cake that they could at last devour? Find so, so, so many hordes of identical twins that every single servant in the house had to tend to them and they had to employ so, so, so many more?

The twins discovered that the corridors looked exactly the same except a little more dusty. The twins discovered that the bedrooms looked exactly the same, except a little more dusty. The twins discovered that the staircases looked a little more dusty. The twins walked round the whole mansion until their feet hurt, but they found that their whole house looked exactly the same.

Except…they were the only people there…or were they?…

Fred pondered over phoning a policeman, though he decided that might be a little too brash  and he didn’t have any idea where the nearest police station was.

 

Life Above the Clouds By Poppy Phillips Year 8

Elitism is a word never spoken in the Caelum, never taught, never preached. It doesn’t feature in any documents, scriptures or even dictionaries. In the Caelum words like elite and injustice are somewhat disregarded of. It’s only now, after what I’ve been through, that I’m ashamed of the community I live in.

The Caelum changed the world – literally. Us Caelum dwellers know life up here in the sky to be normal, average you should say. Just as normal and delightful as the pleasantries down on Earth. The Caelum acts as an expansion for the overpopulated Earth below. No living person on the Caelum, or anywhere for that matter, has ever seen the Earth in its former state – one layer of polluted air doesn’t sound as exciting as the floating layer that drifts above the solid ground accompanied with the same below (just without the floating).

Of course, we visit the beaches and sights of the Earth on our holidays, but nobody ever goes where the others live. Every one of the Caelum wonders what living below is like, as our food, materials and water all come from the Solids; however, we never wish to leave our home.

The Caelum was originally a group of Earth volunteers who moved everything they had to a crazy science project in the sky. They came from each country and continent, bringing different people together. Our language evolved but has stayed English in principle but “the Caelum owns its tongue” as we are taught in Firsts. Firsts is the first year of learning, all the way up to Graduates in Sixteenths.

My life in the Caelum has been pretty normal. I was born in the year 4361, on the 14th day of April – to be born in the winter on Caelum is magical. When the snow and the cloud collides it makes a beautiful feather cushion, soft and warm. It covers the rich, deep sky in perfect white. The snow is a gift-wrap only spring will open, revealing the engrained beauty that lives safely below, protected these long months. As the sun rises each morning it ignites colours to vibrant hues.

My mother died when I was a mere 11-year-old boy. Her death silenced me eternally. I didn’t feel I could ever speak again, I couldn’t be happy whilst knowing she’s not here to enjoy the glory with me. I set no dreams, no aspirations, so there was nothing for her to miss out on.  Death wasn’t kind. It snatched where it could, taking people who were far too young, far too good. It didn’t pretend to care, it didn’t pretend to distinguish.

The hooded vale of death had not hung over the Caelum for a long time, never threatening the peace. Death had ripped away a part of me, the part of her that I most loved.

I would sit staring for hours. My face sunken and haunted, my mind cold and empty.

Times haven’t changed much, I’ve always had a longing to make mum proud but the fear of missing out kept me back. Held me in. Restricted me.

My life carried on, through school I only had one friend. Maia Abbot. I loved her as if she was the last of my kind. It was as if she spoke the same language as I, yet no one else is able to understand. To be around her was like finally not being alone – my whole life I’d been isolated, in a windowless room, in a doorless room… and then suddenly she walked in through a door she miraculously created. A window she carved.

 

I went off to Further Education, leaving Maia behind in East Caelum. When I woke up, I could hear my mum yelling at me for sleeping in. But then the reality took over my dreams. Mum wasn’t there. It hit like a stab in the stomach. All I could do was take it in.

My roommate would greet me with a grin in the kitchen. My dishes would be still in the washer. They would have been there for so long because no one had told me to turn it on.

I had to realise that you weren’t doing your dishes because you’ll lose your access to Skifi for an entire day. It was doing it because you won’t have anything to eat from otherwise.

Waking up early was not about pleasing mum up in the stars and giving her a reason to let you go out. It’s about running errands that your life literally depends on.

Learning things like this was never something I took easily, never something I understood until I reached the stage I had to be brave and take responsibilities.

Whilst in my FE, I got a job as Supplies guard. I could finally explore Earth, well it’s potatoes maybe. I scanned them to make sure no one was smuggling things into the Caelum.

 

I left my Further Education with a Signature of Honor in Finance. I met up with Maia again and we got married.

Another thing I realised is that marriage isn’t a ring worn or a paper signed. It is not something endured but savoured. It is the union of two hearts beating as one, each that would sacrifice for the other’s happiness and wellbeing.

My first full time job was at the Caelum Government as an assistant Treasury representative. Before the day has started for the masses I am already in my kitchen, fully dressed and ready to go. Outside it is as black as night, only by the clock can I tell the difference between the time to sleep and the time to rise. The dawn will come as I walk to the offices, lighting my way first in monochrome and then with subtle hues of colour.

 

I later upgraded to a worker in the Treasury when I was 32, I never made the Head of Treasury but I was happy. I met a man called Zachhary Edridge. He was an extremely tall man, his hair fading but always immaculate. Zach was married to Madison, she was a stay at home mum to their 2 children.

Zach was the only friend I’d ever had, apart from Maia, he taught me to reach out and socialise. It didn’t work but he was the first who tried, I appreciated that.

I had never grown to like Madison Eldridge, there was always something about her that I didn’t like. She always had excuses for not showing up to various things. Her best friend, a Malone I believe, seemed to be behind her absence.

I kept my eye on Madison and the mysterious Malone for a while longer, I eventually gave up but they do reappear in my future.

 

I suppose the rest of my life is quite average, 2 children, an office job. Nothing adventurous had happened to me, not until I was 47 years old. 47 years of a lonely life hadn’t been much fun. But, they say life has its ways of repeating on you. It turns out Madison Eldridge and her Malone friend were the people who changed my life.

Added the adventure.

***

It was the 35th day of November. It all started when I was sleeping – everything began as a normal night. I put Franny and Gabe to bed at 7 AT (Ante Tenebris); at 9:30 I got dressed for bed whilst Maia made her evening hot cocoa; At 10:00 after all gadgets were switched off, food put away and clothes folded nicely, me and Maia turned in for bed. Completely normal. Until 1 PT (Post Tenebris).

I suppose it’s now the 36th, being 1:00.

They didn’t say much. It was as simple as “Get up, Mr Westfall, you’re under arrest by accounts of the High Court of Caelum.” As you could imagine, I was highly dazed so followed suit. It’s only when I awakened in a cell that I questioned what I had been accused of.

 

To be surrounded by 4 white walls, with nothing else to stare at could of driven a sane man mad. I noticed every scratch in the brick, watched the layers peel away, along with my sanity.The beds were a plank of wood on legs, cushions seemed a luxury and 3 hours in this box made me realise how amazing toilet paper is. It was either suffocatingly quiet, or pierced with screams of tortured inmates.

To see human life after 3 hours of myself felt like heaven. Being alone is something I was so used to as a child, but forced loneliness is a different subject altogether. Unfortunately, the human life was a guard. Not Maia or Gabe or anyone who could restore my conscience.

 

A door creaked, the locking mechanism clicking almost tormenting me of freedom. There in its archway stood Mrs Madison Eldridge.

“Madison! Madison, what is going on?” I called out to her. She spared me a short grimace before saying loudly to the police officer.

“That’s him, constable, he’s the one who murdered my Zachary!” She almost seemed to spit at me from across the room.

 

A Question Of Love by Lucy Scott

The shine of sun is nothing to her eyes,

Nothing but love lives within her smile,

She is such a beauty why should she be wise,

To see her many men would go a mile.

Her locks fall down in the colour of corn,

She glides in the room as a ballerina,

Her skin is as fresh as the day she was born,

If grace was pure it is her demeanour.

 

Yet love is a dream we long to be true,

Dreams are for sleeping no matter how real,

Many men believe in love, I can’t say I do,

Love is for the poor to escape their deal.

 

I know she’s there and waiting for me,

Perhaps she’s reading sat under a tree.

 

 

The Betrayal by Holly Sanders

I see it,

I see us together forever and then when I look down, I see this shattered picture of our past lives. Each fragment representing something beautiful that just does not fit in. I see your raven hair and think of all the times I have run my hand through it, feeling the soft strands, feeling comfort in your arms. Your strong muscular physique representing the strength he would use to protect me. I see all of that and then catch a glimpse of the rush of ebony streams running down my cheeks. Reminding me of all the times you caused me pain; each time making me feel like no-one again, austere and unloved. Shrinking me into insignificance.

I see it, 

I can feel each scar like a constant reminder that I constantly shortfall of your unattainable standards. Each time I set a foot out of line, it is as though I have wounded your family. It is your way or nothing. The scars, like stamps of approval show your protection, your love, I’m not sure what form of love this is anymore, but I need you; if I leave then there’s no hope, nothing left for me. This photo frame is my entire world showing the perfect dream life we have imagined and dreamed of ever since we were little kids. There was the dream of fairy tales and now it feels more like a nightmare. The whole thing shattering around me. I never imagined feeling so worthless.

I see it, 

I see each time I thought there was something beautiful blooming, like the flower from among the thorns. But now, it is not just me, it is every other garden he decided he needed to water, each time ripping their roots gathering them up and keeping them under his isolation making them dependent on his love and protection. I thought it was special, I thought I was different, but I am just like the others.

I see it, 

I see our future of lies and deceit. Each message a hidden meaning for me to overlook. Pretend that I knew nothing; act like each smile was real. You never knew the hurt… you never knew what I really thought. I stand here, weak, looking at a scared girl that I don’t recognise anymore; you have seized the life from within me. I see the splinters of our lives drawing the hurt from me I feel relief the cold fresh glass releasing the demons I have been holding in for so long. The now unbearable pain making me feel as though the times coming.

I see it,

The replay in my mind. I remember it so clearly now, it all started not so long ago when you enticed me into this life with the promise of a dream, of love, of happiness; how was I supposed to know it would end up in such a mess. Instead of roses, I get the thorns, instead of paradise, I got hell. Looking back, I could see it the hope growing dimmer before my eyes each bruise, each cut a sign of love, or so I thought. Now making me afraid of everything and everyone.

I see it,

A clear light now, the worst time when you sent me crashing to the floor, shattering any sense of hope I had yet again. I could smell that awful stench of alcohol in the air, the horrible influence that you will later blame and tell me that you love me and would never hurt me. But yet, I still always ended up in the same place, dependent on you, never being able to escape your dominant grip. You are provoking me to seem so feeble, like I can’t stand on my own two feet, but this time it’s different.

I see it, 

I can finally feel hope for the first time, like your roots are letting me go. Everything is  withdrawing I no longer feel chained to you, I can flee, I can go, I can do this. All those bruises painting my weakness, but I am washing them off, freeing myself from your confinement. You have no way of keeping me now you have finally pushed me beyond the unending limits I gave you, time after time letting you push me down. But this time I stand up.

I can finally see the light,

My future, without you. I can finally be me, no bruises, no pain, just plain me. I can walk down the street being proud, knowing all I need is myself, no more blood on the kitchen floor, no more cuts spilling out everything I could never say. Just me and that’s how it will stay.

 

The Crucible: Is Abigail Williams cowardly or brave?

In Arthur Miller’s ‘The Crucible’, one character which seems to simultaneously defy societal conventions whilst succumbing to them is Abigail Williams, following her affair with John Proctor.

Firstly, Abigail seems cowardly as she avoids the court of law through her empty accusations of witchcraft to deter from her own sin, as seen in the following quote in which she details her involvement yet quickly replaces this by more accusations, a smart manipulation of the progression of her language. This however could be seen as brave as she openly contests her crime, absolving herself of sin by revealing the others, despite these accusations being false. One indication of her success in bravery is that it serves as an example for the other girls, leading to the ensuing chaos of finger-pointing.

“I want to open myself! . . . I want the light of God, I want the sweet love of Jesus! I danced for the Devil; I saw him, I wrote in his book; I go back to Jesus; I kiss His hand. I saw Sarah Good with the Devil! I saw Goody Osburn with the Devil! I saw Bridget Bishop with the Devil!” – Abigail Williams, Act 1

Yet Abigail’s manipulation seems cowardly as it is characterised by threats of violence, and demonstrates her malevolent nature unearthed through her loss of innocence in her adulterous affair with John  Proctor. She uses the belief that she might know some real witchcraft to keep the other girls in line. This is suggested in the following quote in which Abigail uses her crime against the other girls, using the imagery of colour. The colour ‘black of some terrible night’ uses its connotations of black magic and something more sinister to threaten them. Additionally the idea of ‘reddish work’ provokes imagery of blood, used in black magic. She doesn’t hesitate to use her power to accuse them of witchcraft if their loyalty proves untrue, alike with Mary Warren.

“Let either of you breathe a word, or the edge of a word, about the other things, and I will come to you in the black of some terrible night and I will bring a pointy reckoning that will shudder you. And you know I can do it; I saw Indians smash my dear parents’ heads on the pillow next to mine, and I have seen some reddish work done at night, and I can make you wish you had never seen the sun go down!” – Abigail Williams, Act 1

Furthermore, this seems naïve as this arises out of a fantasy in which Abigail blurs the line between appearance and reality, seeing herself, a 17-year old girl as Proctor’s true love and an ideal choice for a wife despite his marriage to Elizabeth, and her indifference towards condemning innocent people to die to fulfil her plan exposes this.

On the other hand, Abigail seems to subvert expectations of a patriachal society as she doesn’t suppress her desires. When she finds herself attracted to Proctor whilst working in the Proctor home, she pursues it and seduces him rather than repenting and refusing to acknowledge this attraction. This goes against the Puritanical mindset that her adulterous attraction constitutes a sin and this may be seen as courageous in a society dominated by men.

So is Abigail brave to the point where it’s cowardly or cowardly to the point where it seems brave? It can be viewed either way.