Scholarship G1 W4 Writing

Part 1.

Writing prompt:  Write an essay in which you describe a city that you visit. In your writing, use descriptive language to bring the setting to life and create a vivid picture for the reader. You may also include dialogue and any other relevant details that add to the scene. As you describe the city, explore the themes of discovery, alienation, and danger. How do these themes affect your experience in the city? What do you learn about the city and its inhabitants? How does your time in the city change you?

Essay example:  As I stood at the edge of the lost city, I couldn’t believe my eyes. The city was a sprawling metropolis, its streets and buildings stretching out as far as the eye could see. The sun glinted off the skyscrapers, the light reflecting off the glass and steel. The air was alive with the sounds of the city, the honking of horns, the chatter of pedestrians, the hum of traffic. It was like nothing I had ever seen before, a city of endless possibility and opportunity. But as I stepped into the city, I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was off. The people seemed distant and disconnected, their eyes glazed over and unseeing. The air was thick with the scent of pollution, the stench almost overwhelming. The city was beautiful, but there was a darkness lurking beneath its surface, a malevolence that I couldn’t quite put my finger on.

Part 2.

Writing prompt:  Write a creative scene in which you describe a moment where you are sitting by a fireplace on a cold winter night. In your writing, use descriptive language to bring the setting and atmosphere to life and create a vivid picture for the reader. You may also include dialogue and any other relevant details that add to the scene.

Essay example: I ensconced myself by the fireplace on a frigid winter night, swaddled in a comfortable blanket, the heat of the flames percolating into my bones. The fire undulated and flickered, its light casting ghostly shadows on the walls. Outside, the wind howled, the trees bending and oscillating like ethereal figures. I flicked a glance at the clock, noting the tardy hour. I should have retired hours ago, but something about the salubrious crackle of the fire kept me affixed to the spot. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was intended to be here, imbibing the warmth and solace of the flames.

Part 3.

Writing prompt: Write a creative essay set in the 1920s about a young woman who dreams of becoming a jazz singer and the challenges she faces along the way. Make sure to incorporate the setting of the 1920s into the story, and use it to enhance the character and plot. Use at least 5 instances of personification and 10 instances of metaphor to add flair to your writing

Essay example:  As the night sky twinkled with the glow of the city’s neon lights, Alice stood on stage, her heart thrumming with exhilaration. She was about to make her debut at the most popular club in the city, and she was determined to make it a performance to remember. The band struck up a lively beat, and Alice let out a joyous laugh as she began to sing. Her voice was like a fragrant flower, soft and velvety, and it seemed to envelop the listeners in a warm embrace. The audience erupted into cheers and applause, mesmerised by her charisma and talent.

 

87 thoughts on “Scholarship G1 W4 Writing”

  1. Part 1
    Restraining Promises
    I gaped at the hustling metropolis, like a video on fast forward. Everything shined like a heavenly diamond from the sunlight glinting off the monumental skyscrapers. THe continual honks and chattering crowded my ear, striking me like a lightning bolt. The blinding lights and flashing neon signs engulfed me into a world of riches, where no one was left poor. A maze of people hustling into stores and proudly swishing their shopping bags. A radiant beam of light shone onto me, blinding me in this alienated world, so different to what I was used to. The city was like a frog first coming out from the familiar pond, and stepping into an unknown world of building lights and riches, with a cost.

    I started growing my lungs and camouflaging with the rest, I hurried into stores, and got enticed to fun activities. How could this be worse than my current life? I got a job offer for a high paying job here and I was checking it out.

    I looked around me, not a second of tranquility, blares of sirens, honks of cars and chattering constantly buzzed. The new city life would yield more money for my family, and this metropolis of skyscrapers stores was impossible to not want. My new job would be less tiring and make sure that I have plenty of downtime to enjoy this wonderful experience. I would be exploring land as a frog and making discoveries unique to city life, aliens to country life. I would be able to have great opportunities lurking around the corner, waiting for me to explore them.

    But it would mean leaving my family to a life of solitude and being less connected to them. I would still run our farm which has been going on for generations. I expected dark and bitter glares from my family, as they were left with losing our business. I would stay in my pond as a frog and grow there, where I know everything. If I chose city life I would be restarting my life, making my family resent me and my insatiable thirst for fun be quenched. My farm life would continue and my old ways would be used to their full potential.

    I remembered my parents’ harsh glares and cruel treatment if I didn’t please them. I had to be restrained.

    I took a look at the candescent, radiant and deafening city, and called a taxi back home.

  2. Part 1.
    Vivid and Haunting Nights
    As the tarnished and ramshackled dinghy advanced towards the muted dock. Coral reef worth of string tailored the mouth of the ocean. Every utterance was entombed in the fathomless and eldritch basin below. I had never yearned for rowdy symbols so much. The afternoon fluorescence of the sun bleached the canvas of the ocean with heliodor and beryl. It seemed like a sheet was drawn like the curtains of a stage and it divulged a forsaken and thundering silent city.

    I reconsidered solitude and venturing alone. Was this what I got for what I’d gone through? Baneful waves and deprivation for a land of which was inhabited by dormant skyscrapers. What a waste. I walked on paper, drawn over by abstract lines that trapped my laces and made me topple over unanticipated crinkles.

    I meandered through the maze unconsciously made by the buildings. I found myself in dead ends that looked like ghost towns and streets littered with pallid cigarettes and cardboard coffee cups that seemed to be dissolving into the ground. A blackhole here, hidden in the known man’s land, luring all sounds, the voices of people, chattering of the destitute cafe and scurrying automobiles and magnetising them into the net below.

    But just as the sun lost the edge of itself and the nebulas in the sky turned to light pantone clouds, silhouettes started to appear, possessing crates laden with nourishing fruits and shimmering dresses. The streets were turning into a walking market. Lanterns embroidered with robins suspended on rope. Stalls were set up. LED lights were outlining the pavements and windows. A snake of children came giggling past me with sparks sizzling at their fingertips. This was a city raised by fireworks and luminosity!

    I strolled through streets, inspecting the magnificence they offered. Shoppers were adorned with bangles and bold earrings. I didn’t even feel the hours passing till it was the next day. Every noise and every person seemed to evaporate.

    I suddenly dropped the drink in my hand, for once I felt frightened out of my wits. It felt like the silence was pressing me hard, my head invertebrates and stomach churned. I stumbled and grazed my knees but ran. I ran. I ran furiously to the dinghy. I wanted to be released from this nightmare. Who could survive in such a hellish and dastard place?

    Once I passed the barrier that concealed all sound, I felt replenished. The halcyon chorused by the waves seemed like an orchestra. I wanted to grab my headphones and play the loudest songs to fill my head with sounds, this city would haunt me if I ever heard nothing again.

  3. sarah-h-yonggmail-com

    Part 1
    The fluorescent scintillating fairy lights strung over each building illuminated the dark, cloudy sky. Cars zoomed past me as I strolled along the sidewalk. Finally, after walking for ages I came upon a rickety, worn down, rusty ladder. The metal ladder was clinging located in an alleyway, clinging onto a senescent sandstone building. Cautiously, I looked around and began to climb. Up, up, up I went, scaling the altitudinous ladder in a matter of minutes. As I reached the top, I hauled myself up with a final strain and sat down to catch my breath. I walked over to the edge of the building and curiously peered down at the city below. Then, I realised how big New York City really was.

    Even through all the pollution and contamination everywhere, you could still tell how beautiful the city was. The luminescent moon illuminated the sky, and from this height, you could see all the shining windows and lights inside every building. The place was an immense arrondissement full of incandescent lights and busy streets packed with people. I crept over to the edge of the building and began making my way down to a large, stone gargoyle. As I approached it, I heard it asking me “Why are you here?” in a low pitched, vibrating voice. “I have come to see the city,” I replied in the most non-suspicious tone I could, but I didn’t tell him the real reason I was here. Recently, I had found out about a dark, iniquitous soul lurking beneath the very streets of the city. Swiftly, I left the gargoyle and went back down to the ground.

    Across the street, I saw an enigmatic skyscraper under construction. Something about it attracted me to it, and I began to walk over to the other side of the road. It felt as though it were evil and surrounded by a dark cloudy mass. I got closer and closer. I was trapped in its tight grip, pulling me further away from the path. Snakes of shadows grabbed my legs and constricted, leaving me no escape. Then I saw his face. The gnarled, pale white face of my late father.

  4. As the crystalline water trickled through my toes, I inhaled the halcyon, crisp air. A leisurely wind caressed my ruddy cheeks with its velvety hands, making me feel as comfortable as a pig in cushiony mud. The sun beamed like a lustrous pearl, and bathed me in mellow light. I dove into the water, slowly becoming enveloped with euphoria.

    I resurfaced to catch my breath. The pool was restrained sea, smaller but just as glorious. I glanced at the colossal skyscrapers nearby, each unique like a miscellaneous collection of necklaces. I could hear the faint bustling of the city, each individual vigorously engrossing in their task. This hotel pool was the perfect spot to immerse into the rapid mood of the city. The electric air buzzed with jocund laughs, active conversations and the honking of cars. I closed my eyes, and relished this utopia. However, not everything was so perfect.

    Along with the laughs and speckles of joy, muffled and livid shouts and cries blended into the atmosphere like a camouflaged chameleon. The subtle yet malodorous and putrid scent of pollution mocked my nose. I couldn’t shake off the discomforting feeling which my new perception of this city was giving me. Maybe, contrary to my earlier thoughts, there wasn’t a fully exquisite place.

    As i hopped out of the pool, the frigid wind taunting me, i trudged back into my room. Perhaps i should just take the beneficial with the detrimental, and just enjoy the positives of the trip.

  5. The frigid air seemed to be completely cut off once I enshrouded myself in the soft crackling of the galvanising flames. Mantled within the soft clutch of my blanket, comfy like a caterpillar in a velvety cocoon, i closed my eyes, bathing in the satisfaction of the moment. The warm aroma of cooked beef skewers and the faint scent of cedar embers brought me into earlier memories made here. The flames danced in the wind, waving their arms , so carefree, like a bird in the vast sky. Radiating heat percolated into my chilled bones. I gently closed my eyes, a faint, mellow smile fixing itself onto my face.

    My alarm broke the moment, insisting for me to retire into my cushiony air mattress, but something about the fire magnetised me to it, refusing to let me leave. The fire never exhausted. It kept on grooving to the melody of the wind, and the beat of the crickets. The vehement flames shape-shifted, first into phantasmal figures, then into a graceful ballet performer. Even though it was midnight already, something glued me to the spot, as if i was meant to stay. I closed my eyes, gorging on the pleasant solace of the flames.

  6. Loyal Sacrifices
    The fire mesmerised me, I couldn’t take my eyes off its enchanting glow. The heat of the magical flames radiated onto me, against the cruel, cold winter night. The wind howled, roaring, fighting against the flame’s radiance, fighting for dominance. Ghostly shadows were cast onto the bleak, beige walls, haunting the flames. I stared at the clock ticking. It was 12 o’ clock. I should have been asleep hours ago, but something strange about the flames. Something supernatural was dancing in the inferno.

    I looked at the harsh, frigid environment, and the warm hearth inside my cosy house. I had to make a decision whether to look for my lost dog Bob who I lost during a walk through the woods.

    If I wandered out there to look for my dog, it would be freezing, and I would hardly see a metre in front of me. But I had a chance to save him. I would be facing nature’s wrath and there was a large chance I would get lost or injured. But I couldn’t bear to live without knowing if my dog was alive or not. He was tough, and definitely would survive out there. I had a slim chance of finding him out in the forest and making it back safely to my safe abode. I remembered all the fond memories I had with Bob and how playful he was.

    If I didn’t go outside there was no chance Bob would survive the night and I would never see him again. I would be keeping myself alive but sacrificing his. But if it tried to save him, I was putting both of our lives at a risk instead of just Bob. I would be able to live life but with the pain for losing Bob out in the forest. His bark and howl would haunt me for eternity as I kept on living my life, while he was alone in the forest.

    I heard a dog’s howl outside. I had to save Bob. All the years of him guiding me and playing with meant I owed him, more than just saving his life. I couldn’t just leave him to rot outside in the sub zero blizzard, waiting loyally until I would come to rescue him, which I wouldn’t. I took a glance outside and warmed my hands one last time in the fire.

    I grabbed my coat, gloves and a blanket with me and stepped into the malevolent forest, ready to do whatever it takes, to save Bob.

  7. As the moon illuminated the sultry night like a dim lantern, Alice sat backstage of the most popular club in the city, her heart thumping like Sasquatch feet stomping in leaf litter. She was about to perform in front of hundreds of people. Cold, acrid sweat dripped down her spine and she closed her eyes, envisaging all the times she was discouraged and made fun of for her dream.

    Her parents believed that women should stay home and do all the chores. Every single night, she would ask for no one to disturb her, block the door and sneak out to practice. When she revealed and insisted, they give her a chance at her dream, the apoplectic faces her parents made encouraged her to prove them wrong. Alice then recalled all the insults her disparaging siblings told her. A minuscule tear hung in her eyes as she clenched her fist, radiating vehemence. She had to make them feel sinister for being so blasphemous towards her.

    “Alice, it’s your time to go now.” whispered the manager of the show.

    As Alice stepped on stage, she seemed sanguine and poised, yet she was withering inside, her confidence wavering, like a frail rose, flapping its arms about wildly in the malicious wind. She smiled, covering up her fear.

    Her golden hair shone under the neon lights, her red flapper dress waving about to the beat. The electric atmosphere filled with wonder as the people witnessed one of the first females to ever perform. Her velvety voice gliding along. Alice caught a mere glance of her parents cheering in the incalculable crowd.

    Her smile was like the sun, lighting up the entire room. She finally showed then how sensational her performance would be, how she had made the right choice picking a career in jazz. As her song ended, the audience enthralled by her knack and charisma, and she walked off, a new sense of self-esteem resting within her.

  8. The Conversation
    The slabs of maple wood enclosed the tenderness and tepidity. The cabin lodge was a biodome bursting with Summer tingles even though the plains around us were sheathed in snow and the pine trees wore stocky and fleecy tintless robes. My fingers pawed through the book as my mother whisked her glass chalice around. A frigidity bite surged up starting from my toes up to my neck which made the hair stand.

    “Do you want me to get you some tea dear? You look funny.” inquired mother. I was fazed for a second before asking.

    “What makes you think I look… odd?”

    “Your skin is pale and your toes are avoiding the blanket and are now gnarled up, are you sure you don’t want some tea?” My baffled eyes were what bathed in the gaze of my mother.

    “Yes, I would like some tea.” She then got up and left to dismantle the pantry for the tea tin. Then you strolled leisurely and amply sat on the other side of the couch. You fixed your eyes on the plush, velvet curtains but glanced back at me.

    “Cloudberry Tea?” You say. Of course my sister who’s isolated away from us for what seemed like a millennia still remembers my favourite tea.

    “My favourite.” I stop to look at you, you still have one shoal dimple and another one but it’s caving into your right cheek. Your temples are stark with only a few chalky strands surviving, just barely. I notice your silhouette is slimmer, your skeleton figure is more prominent, it’s gruelling to look at.

    “How have you been doing these years?” I’m engrossed to find out how you prevail the agony of being dispersed from your family.

    “It’s… lonesome but inhabitable. The room may be taciturn but I never seem to notice. The room may be dark like the night but there’s always a star to comfort me. You don’t need anything, all the greed for things there is taken and replaced by love and safety.” You say this while smiling but you’re clenching your throat. Your eyes are oceans of compassion but it’s ringed with prostate bags. You’re saying this in front of my face, right now, in front of my face but you seem so distant.

    The flames spat out ashen pieces of wood onto the hearth. I fed so much wood to the fire and all in return were gags of crumbs. The fire chorused chanties and frolicked around just like flowers.

    Mother comes in with a tray. A teacup embroidered with roses is brimmed with vermillion and amber. Wisps abandon the cup and soon it’ll turn acrid and bitter… like you. The fire will too, the flames will wear out and the heart will halt so suddenly that you can feel how arctic the remains are. I inhaled the tendrils that smelt wild berries, plucked from Norway. They were sweet looking, suited for my sweet tooth but bitter on the inside… like you.

    When I look back… you’re gone. Just like that time I reached the hospital and you were gone, just like that. Before we could say goodbye and eat your favourite meal together. But you’re still here, you’ve made a mark for the family tree just like a dab of ink drizzled on white parchment.

    After taking a sip of the tea, my eyelids started to withdraw, I pulled up the silk blanket and listened to the hisses and crackles of the fire. Beyond the wood of the cabin was the lapis lazuli with winking stars, you were right about something, there would always be a star.

  9. My Turn
    The club was twirling and pirouetting that night. And on that night, a girl called Alice discovered her fondness for jazz. She watched the trumpets and trombones singing together. They were always synchronized in the songs, their heavenly singing brought pleasure to Alice’s heart. But what captivated Alice most was Abby.

    Abby was the singer for the band, The Angels. Tonight, she wore a dazzling gold flapper dress and a white fluffy shawl. Abby’s red bottoms clacked along the stage as she sang Dinah. Alice yearned to be on stage and get the opportunity Abby did so Alice asked her how she was successful when they were walking home.

    “How did you get yourself to be a singer?” Alice was ravenous to know.

    “Well, I entered a jazz competition and got second place. I then got recruited for The Angels and here I am.” Abby puffed out her chest. Alice knew Abby could help her in becoming a famous jazz singer. Abby had been there for her for years. Surely Abby would volunteer to be Alice’s vocal teacher.

    “Could you help me sing?” Abby halted in her tracks. She scoffed and slung her sun kissed hair behind her back. She appeared to be beguiled at the request.

    “Me? You? Don’t take this to heart sister but look at me, I’m stunning in my gown, you wouldn’t. Look at you. You can’t even pull off your slacks. Plus, I’ve heard your… singing, it’s an inferno to the ear. It burns and sears the ear drums like wildfire. I can’t help you.” Alice looked like she’d just seen a ghost. Alice felt her stomach knot together and clench tautly. That two faced Abby, with her puppy eyes and baby smile in front of everyone else but unleashes her putrid and hideous truth towards me, thought Alice.

    That night, Alice would show Abby that she could sing, just like her. But spears had already penetrated her heart, her fragile heart made from glass. It was shattered into a million pieces, so much that not every morsel could be found. Alice’s heart would never be complete again.

    But the next day was a new opportunity. A singing audition was being held in town. ALice immediately signed up, that afternoon she’d be singing! Alice wore her Sunday Church dress and borrowed her mothers silver high heels. She was elated. A new chance was waiting for her on the other side of the curtains.

    She was wrong. On the other side of the curtains was terror and shock. Trepidation and devils were at her feet. When Alice was called on stage, the judges applauded and asked her to sing a nursery rhyme. But in that moment all Alice could make out was Abby saying her singing was hell. She puked. Everyone was laughing except for one of the judges who was just looking down.

    On the way home, Alice felt ashamed. How could she just loosen her grasp on her only opportunity. Alice was so excited and ready and in that moment, all that led up to it just collapsed so… suddenly!

    But the woman who wasn’t laughing walked up to Alice. Alice spun around with her bloodshot eyes and gleaming nose.

    “Maria. I saw your… performance… Anyway, I think you deserve another chance. Show me how you sing.” Alice was astonished and dimpled like a Cheshire cat. The moment the first lyrics came out, Maria instantly recruited Alice to sing at the club that night.

    The bickering audience was hushed when Alice strode on stage. Some complained and through tantrums and others asked for Abby. But Alice put her foot down.

    “To all who don’t want to listen then go, skedaddle.” Nobody moved an inch towards the ajar door.

    “Good, because it’s my turn tonight.” Alice grabbed the microphone and signaled the band to commence.

    This time, Alice was ready to grab that opportunity again and clutch it in her hand and never let it slip. Everyone said she had a voice blessed from Elysium. Abby never talked to Alice but she was fine because she had Maria. Maria helped Alice to control her distresses and Alice could finally sing jazz all she liked.

  10. Part 1 by Aaron Wang

    I smiled to my crew, feeling accomplished. 2 years we spent on this spaceship in search of the lost planet, now, in one days time, we would land on it.

    10 years ago, in 2053, one of the worlds biggest disasters occurred. the moon was knocked out of orbit and smashed into the sad, unsuspecting Earth. A new planet was formed from the debris and we knew at least 20 humans survived on the planet. And the reason I wanted to explore it so badly?, both my parents were thought to have survived on the planet.

    The shrill alarm clock woke me and the time had finally come. I stepped off the spacecraft and gaped my mouth wide at the mini metropolis the inhabitants had built. The skyscrapers stood before me, smiling with its shiny windows. The houses soothed the fragile planet, never giving off any carbon emissions. I looked around and suddenly a crowd of curious inhabitants rushed to our spacecraft and examined it. Then I saw, the flashy red hair of my mum and the thick brown hair of my dad.

    “Mum! Dad!” I yelled, elbowing my way through the dense crowd. They stared at me blank-faced. “Who is this guy?” my mum whispered to my dad. Before my dad could answer, I said, “It’s me! your son!” My dad pinched himself and my mum fought furiously against the fierce attack of unconsciousness. “It can’t be.” my mum whispered before falling to the ground in an unconscious heap.

    I was still busy chatting with my dad when suddenly the crew called me back. They were going to leave. None of the people on the lost planet wanted to leave. Not even my parents. Then, my mind started to go through a turmoil. Do I stay on this planet and leave the crew who took me this far, or abandon my parents just as quickly as I found them and the planet. The crew was so kind, so helpful. But, my parents, they were the ones who taught me rocket science. They fed me everyday. They worked hard just so I could relax. I couldn’t just leave and forget what they had done for me.

    I turned around to my crew. I smiled and waved goodbye as droplets of tears rolled down my cheek.

  11. Part 3
    Dreams of reality
    The moonlight smiled onto Alice as she awaited backstage for the show to start. Her heart pounded as a giant stomped their monstrous feet, causing earthquakes. Her hands were clammy with sweat, as she listened to the vibrant chatter of the audience swarming her ears, as she thought about why she was here and how much she progressed through the last few months. Everyone ridiculed her dream of being a famous actor, even Alice’s parents believed she should just get a job as a waitress and not pursue her strange dream.

    But here she was, her talent finally being spotted by this theatre’s manager and she was asked to perform after months of training out of sight. Alice’s parents thought she was at a job interview for a restaurant, but she snuck out to come to perform.

    ‘Alice, show me what you got,’ whispered the manager to her.

    Alice got up quivering like a leaf and stepped through the curtains, into the blinding lights.

    The beat of the song she prepared for started playing and she tapped her feet to the rhythm. The piano started playing harmoniously with the melody with the violin and the flute. The crowd was still chattering, discussing their own trivial matters ignoring Alice. Alice waited for her cue and stepped up to the microphone and started singing.

    As she sang the first word, the whole crowd opened their mouths agape and dreamily stared at her. Their shock was a gift, her practice being rewarded by the shock of this crowd. Encouraged by the awe of the crowd she started singing the lines more confidently and she stood up, making eye contact. The whole audience started swaying their heads to the beat, hypnotised by her charisma and singing.

    It had been a difficult path for Alice, needing to make sacrifices at every turn. But this rich reward was worth all the difficult parts in being a singer as a female. Her voice glided across the audience and the lights beamed onto Alice. Her voice wafted throughout the stage, enticing everyone to listen to her beautiful voice.

    The light dissipated, as Alice sang out the last line, ringing in the ears of everyone inside the room. A second of stunned silence, then the crowd erupted into cheers and clapping. Alice took a bow, and smiled at everyone. She was one of the first female singers in the world, she thought to herself as she walked off the stage.

  12. The city skyline was lined with tall glass buildings, the glinting sun reflecting off them. The streets were filled with life, the air was carrying the voices of people chatting about the sprawling metropolis of this lost municipal town. It was a human rainforest. I was thinking of that metaphor, thinking of what it meant, but I realised why I was thinking it. Someone didn’t feel right here. I looked at the people. They didn’t look back. When I tried initiating conversation, they just looked blankly at me. They couldn’t understand me.

    The monotonous lifestyle of the alien beings who were supposed to be of the same exact species as me, the same genetic haplogroup as me, and the majority spoke my language, why were they acting…. So different. I was in deep thought.

    The thought of being stuck in an endless paradoxical life, searching up your friend’s number, texting him or calling him, ending the call, and going on a 2 hour gaming run seemed like hell to me. It was ridiculous. The local shops only sold fast food, and there was literally no one working in corporate associations, only robots to control us.

    It was too much for me. How could people live here, I thought to myself. I felt something creeping up behind me. I didn’t know what it was. I continued walking around, waiting for the taxi to take me home. I got my answer to both questions as I was hauled into a truck and blindfolded.

    The sunset went down slowly as I sat next to the hot amber flames giving me three things I really needed to survive rural canada. It felt nice, camping 50 kilometres west of Winnipeg , near a bushwalk that I had just come home from. I was warming in the warmth of the fire, comforted by the chilly breeze of Manitoba, and nothing else could have satisfied me more. I was happy to just be alone, with my dog. I heard barking from afar. Who could it have been that was annoying my dog? There was no one within 10 kilometres of us, and certainly, Bruno couldn’t smell anything. He came back to me and ran around the fire, as he does at home a lot of the time.

    Once I fell asleep Bruno stopped barking. Maybe he had figured not to disturb me in my sleep. I was having a dream. It was placed where I was at that moment. The dream was about me going to go asleep, seeing something dark, and brown, leave the forest. It was none other than a grizzly bear, and it was coming at me. In the dream, I was praying for my luck, begging for whatever immortal or divine being could stop these devilish creatures from taking my body away and ripping me to bits like I was paper. The sky went dark. As the bear got closer, I tried to shield myself from its incoming wave of strength, but I couldn’t. Suddenly, I woke up from the dream, and realised it was real.

    As the night sky twinkled with the glow of the city’s neon lights, Alice stood on stage, her heart thrumming with exhilaration. She was about to make her debut at the most popular club in the city, and she was determined to make it a performance to remember. The band struck up a lively beat, and Alice let out a joyous laugh as she began to sing. Her voice was like a fragrant flower, soft and velvety, and it seemed to envelop the listeners in a warm embrace. The audience erupted into cheers and applause, mesmerised by her charisma and talent. Old men, wearing black broad-brim hats with white ribbons cheered her for the nostalgic theme of her song, while lively drunken teens clapped and applauded her. She was making a huge hit with this one. The band she sang for had only hired her because she begged them to, and they weren’t confident they’d ever get an opportunity to be there again. It was a mesmerising prospect at first, but they maintained reluctance until Alive herself signed up to sing there. This was her first time, singing under the 1920’s city skyline, making possible what the people in the bar glued to her mesmerising tones, and baritone voice, the hit of the century. When the son was finished, everyone did a standing ovation together. Alice could have never been happier. Her family had always believed that women were just supposed to stay and cook, looking after everyone in the house all the while the men of the family had to be strong. She had always enjoyed this thought, but could only keep it that way until she turned thirteen and finished school, leaving home. She had no knowledge of her talents, until someone at a bar she went to recommended her to become a singer. That’s when she found the beauty of her voice, and her career began, all the way up to this story.

  13. Hunt for Intelligent Life

    Mission 101 – find intelligent life outside the galaxy.

    I have been chosen as a physicist to study other planets and their living species. More intelligent species are required as slaves to assist our society. The planet detector picked up a planet with relatively intelligent organisms – two, eyes, two ears, two hands, two feet, an intelligent brain and completely made out of meat.

    From afar on the outskirts of the city, it was a sprawling metropolis and a vibrant cosmopolitan atmosphere. Its inviting streets and buildings stretched out as far as the eye could see. The light reflecting off the glass and steel of the skyscrapers glistened in the sunlight. The phosphorescent neon lights scaled along the diverse array of buildings, illuminating the stygian sky. Blocks of flats were arched with roses, framed with elegant shutters, filled with brightly coloured doors and walls as nature snaked around the buildings. The air was alive with the bustling of people and the honking of horns from the hum of traffic. It was a haven from the noise and pollution of the city. This was only a miniature droplet of the ocean.

    But as I stepped into the city, I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was off. The place felt sinister. It was the type of place that made people quicken their steps as they passed. It was the type of place polluted by the black veil of soot, smog and smoke. It was the type of place where the air was thick with the scent of pollution, the stench almost overwhelming. Derelict buildings stood lifeless – dark green moss spread across the walls like mould on bread, as if they had been gnawed by hundreds of starving rats. The city was beautiful on the outside, but darkness lurked beneath its surface. A murderous voice shivered down my spine. Something hid in the shadows. Something abnormal. Something that I couldn’t quite put my finger on.

    The last species of bipedal homosapiens carried around a small mechanical device glued to their hand and their eyes glued to the screen. They treated it like their pet – walking it around, patting it with swipes and supplying it with energy boosts. However, too focused on their mechanism, the humans did not notice me at all. They simply just walked right through me. The cars zoomed past me. Blue computerised cubes were gradually disappearing from them. This was not an intelligent life form at all. How can these unaware, mindless living beings help our advanced society if they can’t even touch us? Just as I was about to leave, a dark, ominous shadow loomed over me.

    The world was glitching.

    The pixels faded away.

    Armed robots arose from the shadows…

  14. Visiting the City
    How exciting! My whole family had the opportunity to stay in the city for three days. The first thing I noticed as I stepped off the train was that the city was very, very noisy. Cars were honking in long traffic jams, and people were happily talking. The city was very different compared to our home in the rural area, which was peaceful and silent.

    Since the hotel we had booked wasn’t far from the train station, we walked to it in a few minutes. We checked in and climbed up the tall staircase until we found our room, 216. Dad opened the door with the keys he had collected at the reception. As soon as we walked in, the light automatically turned on, showing a clean and tidy room with everything we needed. “Wow!” I shouted, “This is amazing!”

    Once we put down our luggage, we went to explore a nearby park, called Hudson Park. It was famous because it was the biggest park in the city. Hudson Park was full of trees which provided shade to the people walking on the footpath. The grass was fresh, the flowers were beautiful and the birds cheerfully chirped in the trees. There was a clear pond in the centre of the park where you could look at your reflection in the water. However, I saw some groups of teenagers who wore strange clothes and sweared a lot. They looked suspicious somehow.

    It was night time, so we went back to the hotel and slept in our comfortable beds. But, in the middle of the night, I woke up from a terrifying nightmare. My heart was besting like crazy as I heard rustling noises and faint footsteps in the mysterious darkness. “Who could it be?” I thought.

    Suddenly, the hotel’s alarm went off. BEEP! BEEP! Everyone woke up, and while everyone was whispering, I asked my dad, “What’s going on?” “Stay here and don’t move, I go and check outside,” my dad answered. After a while of waiting, my dad finally came back and told me that a group of teenagers had tried to break in and had run off because of the alarm. The good thing was that nothing had been stolen and everything was safe.

    “Actually, these alarms are useful for our home too!” Dad thought. He asked the reception manager if he could give us some of their alarms and automatic lights, because we had a serious problem of possums which could be prevented by shining lights on them whenever they came close to our house. Dad also stated that the alarms could help because we didn’t have such advanced technology to detect robbers and people who would break in. Luckily, the reception manager was kind and gave us some of their spare alarms and lights for free as a gift. “Thank you!” We were all happy and grateful.

    When we had to leave the city, we felt sad, but I knew that our home in the rural area would be better with the new technology we had bought back, which could protect us from pests and thieves. From this experience, I realised that the city was great place to live in with all the wonderful technology, although there were more criminals and it was more dangerous.

  15. Part 2:

    The lush, antediluvian pines loomed over the path leading to my abode. The path was weather-torn, with the handsome trunks of the handsome trees sprawled their handsome roots across it. It was covered in a blanket of star-white and bathed in a downpour of memories. The snow slowly drifted down from the white nebula above. I stared mesmerized at the molten inglenook as it licked up the logs and waved in front of my plush armchair. The wind howled like a tormented ghost outside, or was it the wolves? I was too comfortable to care. My stomach groaned. Maybe I will order pizza. I reached for my phone. Something (probably the wind) was rattling the windows. I drew a luxurious blanket and pulled it over me. A frigid winter night was falling.
    The subzero gales reached out with dry, crooked hands, trying to penetrate the warmth of the fire, and failed. It ensconced the walls of the house with its lashing mistrals, yet it was all in vain. The ardent air drove it back. It was not until the dreary midnight that a knock awoke me. Tap tap tap. I froze. My hair stood up on my neck, my heart was running out of my chest Someone was knocking on my door. The dying fireplace hurled its dark shadows upon my red curtains. Each dying ember retched its soul upon the floor, leaving dark stains of fear across my heart. My thoughts were abounding in hysterical circles, repeating “what’s happening, who’s there?” suddenly, my mind started whizzing terrifying thoughts of what could be behind the door. Desperately wishing for the morning, I called out in a high-pitched voice.
    “Hello? Who’s there?”
    Tap tap tap Was the answer. I quickly shot a glance at my room. The light of the dying fire seemed to summon the shadows that were covering the floor. But my confidence was gaining. My heart was pounding out of my ribs, yet I tried to ignore it. I slowly hooked my slippers with my feet and slowly trudged towards the door. “Hello?” I croaked again this time, there was a response. “open the door” it said. The hair on my neck jerked up, yet I knew I had to answer it. I slowly lumbered towards the door, and swung it open…
    “Hello, are you Mr. F. Ool? And if you are, did you order a meatlovers pizza?

  16. Part 2
    The Fireplace
    The amber flames flickered, trying to escape from the fireplace’s prison. Outside, the dark, gloomy sky pelted the arctic ground below with soft, continuous snowballs. Each of them landed with a soft thud on the snow-covered ground. The ancient clock in my house’s corner chimed ten. I knew that I should’ve gone to sleep by now, but there seemed to be a mysterious, supernatural force that kept my eyes open. In the fire, I saw a faint outline of a figure. I couldn’t take my eyes off it, no matter how much I wanted to.

  17. Part 2, The return

    I sighed. I looked back to my dilapidated house. Inside the house, the old, rusty grandfather clock struck 10. I stared at the weak camp fire. It was my all. I lost everything before. My parents died to cancer, my grandparents all died of old age. The only thing they left me were the charcoal fragments from my favourite time of year. Campfire night.

    I remember vividly, the raging fire, the marshmallows on sticks. It was all gone now. Just lonely me, in front of a weak, struggling fire. The wind whipped me with its jagged body, piercing my skin and chilling me from the inside. I looked past the fire, there was a dark silhouette of a figure, being distorted by the haze of the fire. “Who is there?” I asked.
    “Me! your cousin Caleb!” Came the reply.
    “What are you doing here?” I asked.
    “It’s campfire night isn’t it?” He answered with a shine in his eyes. “I brought marshmallows.”

    For the first time since my parents passing, I smiled. I saw the fire. It jumped up happily, not weak and tired anymore.

  18. Part 3

    Unfair

    “Our next try-out for the jazz show, Kate.” Kate stepped onto the stage, her breath was a bullet train speeding in and out of her mouth. She stared at the microphone, it laughed and grinned at her as though something was about to go wrong. Although it was only the size of her hand, it seemed to take up all of her view. She shook her head and the waves of delusion were shook from her brain. She took a deep breath and began singing. A calm, happy slither of sound floated around the judges ears. Once the song was over, Kate was almost certain she had won the position as the lead singer in the jazz show.

    2 days later she received a letter and she could not believe her eyes. There was one male who tried out and he had a terrible voice that brought fire to your ears. He won the lead position and Kate had gotten a secondary part. Kate felt the confusion whirl around her mind as she contemplated how the man had sung better than her. With confusion still very much beside her, she headed towards the rehearsal hall.

    There, she practiced her singing with the man and together they sung the exact same song that Kate had sung at her try-outs. After the song, she started lashing out at the organisers. “There must be some mistake!” She yelled. “That was the song I sang in my audition!”
    “We know.” The organiser replied.
    “Than why is that man singing the lead part?! His voice sounds like the white noise from a broke down radio!”
    The organisers brows creased and the air around him suddenly turned hot. “Respect your fellow singers.” He growled. “Nobody would want a female being the lead singer anyways.
    “What? But shouldn’t I be the lead sin…”
    “NO!” Retorted the angry organiser. “Stop arguing or we’ll kick you out of the show!” He added. His words were spears, each hitting and piercing through the body of Kate.

    The day of the show had come. Kate was sitting directly in the tornado of fashion designers, whirling around her and picking her up. She stepped onto the stage with her microphone and waited of the band to begin playing. Instantly the volcano of sounds erupted from the lead singer. The lava poured down and spread over the hall, burning the poor ears of everyone. Thick ashes of mistuned notes flew and clouded the wonderful harmony singing of Kate. Then, Kate suddenly kicked into the mans microphone stand and it fell over. She threw the microphone of the stage and began singing. Instantly the bad sounds were cleared and soothed by the calming melodies of Kates singing. When the show finished, the audience erupted into cheers and applause. Kate had never felt such accomplishment. She was still giddy when she walked backstage. Until she met the eyes of the stern looking organiser. “What you did out there,” began the organiser, “was AMAZING! I am so sorry for everything. “I never knew females could bring such charm.” Kate still had one burning question on her mind. “Can I be the lead singer?”
    “Sure!” replied the organiser. “Bring some more of your female friends if you want to!” From that point, people no longer saw females as house keepers. They saw them as talented professionals.

  19. Part 1
    An Enigmatic City
    A bedazzling light penetrated the dense canopy of the lush forest. I trudged through the dense frondescence until I finally reached it. The fabled “City of Legend”. After 34 long, dreary and lonely years of research, alone. I had finally found the lost city in all its glory. Rows of cut and polished quartz buildings were lined up, facing towards the sapphire ocean. Thick and pearly ocean froth licked the grainy, golden sand. The shimmering sun bounced off the tinted French windows. And palm trees danced in the warm summer breeze. The leaves atop the trees pirouetted around like green tutus. I stepped forward, dumbstruck by the resplendent view. “Who are you?” A sweet and melodious voice said, breaking me out of my trance. I pivoted around to see a petite girl. She had flaming scarlet hair, hypnotic, ocean eyes and a sun-kissed complexion. “Angel, it’s time to come back!” A tall platinum-blonde lady said. She picked her child up and showered her with kisses. “Mommy!” The child, Angel, said “meet my new friend!”
    The woman looked at me. “You’re not from Atlantis are you?”
    “No, I am not.” I said, unaware of the tears sliding down my cheeks.

    I reminisced about the time I had a family. They had loved me and I had loved them.
    “I have to go now” I said to the lady
    “Go then, good luck on your quest!” She replied
    I traversed through the dense frondescence on a new quest. To find a family.

  20. Part 2
    An Old Fireplace
    I sat on a cerulean, velvet armchair. “The Incomplete History of Secret Organizations” lay open on my lap. The fireplace crackled and sizzled caressing me in its brilliant light and soothing warmth. In comparison to the room I sat in, the outside was frigid, bleak and desolate. My parents and grandparents had decided that tonight was a night, perfect for storytelling. I sat in the living room awaiting the company of my elders. Soon my mother, father, aunt and grandparents entered the room. My mother talked of horses, my father of his significant discoveries and my aunt of the most elegant of flowers. Finally, it was my grandparents’ turn. They looked at each other as if conveying a secret message. They both nodded and turned to face us. Each of our eager faces were lit up by the blazing fireplace and they told us…

    “Once, long before your time, our ancestor, Astraea Baudelaire would sit next to this fireplace. It was the only thing she had left and it was her home. Her son would then build our house encasing the fireplace” I thought about the story and it was true our fireplace was the only thing in the house that had never been replaced. Our fireplace was cleaned every spring and prepped every Autumn. We told stories and shared memories with the fireplace. It was special to us. Almost like a family member. The fireplace gave us comfort and warmth even in the darkest days and coldest winter nights.

  21. Part 1
    A vivid difference was set between the sky and the land. A metropolitan city, dotted with thousands of buildings, swarming like bees in a hive, while snuggling together like penguins in the night. The sky, clear and beautiful, gleaming like nothing had touched it, fluffy clouds floating in the breeze, drifting like a raft before a calm sea. The aura of brightness, the sun shining in all of its magnificence, beauty, radiating with power though restraining its full might onto the earth.

    A blind man could tell the contrast between the two, the dystopian city emitting an industrialised aura, man colonising the land while mother nature continued to nurture the sky. The appalling sound of horns from the car spread throughout the urban sprawl, destroying any peace and serenity for miles to come. Yet while it was so lively, active noises carried away by the wind, every person was disconnected, gone from nature. The very thing that had kept them alive for hundreds of thousands of years was dismissed like nothing, waved away and gone.

    Took away by the internet, the once bustling city of New York was wiped away, stolen by the world’s leaders in the internet, who had full control over the billions who used such devices, and with a click of a button, mass robberies could happen. One from a developing country could look and never turn back, enraptured by the almost magical city of New York. Something one had dreamed of hundreds of years ago was now known in every child’s heart, and engraved in all adult’s who had seen a screen, and never looked away.

    I had come here to seek fortune and wealth, but now looking at humanities greed, and desire for more, I couldn’t speak. It was horrifying to see how something would have done so much good, but could be taken away by a touch of a finger. In my old state, everything was fine, with people helping each other, but now, it only seemed like it was every man for himself. I never wanted to be stuck here, drawn in with the alluring sense of wealth and fortune and never to leave again, stuck in a screen, never to see the wonders of the world I had always wanted to see.

    Yet I still felt all the hard work, the devotion just to get here, and was it all gone, just because of a choice, a young adult scared of something that could bring their career down.

    And while I thought about all the things my mum and dad had sacrificed for me, helped me to bring back something to the family, it was not truly worth coming here to be stuck and never to see my family again, only to see one through a screen. It seemed real enough, but deep down, it meant so much to see one in person.

    And what I truly learnt from all this time in New York was to realise that the world wasn’t like what it seemed.

    I knocked on the door of our family home, believing it would bring shame and disappointment to the family.

    “Alex?”
    “I have returned.”, I said, and the happiness on my mother’s face brought relief, gratefulness and a true sense of family. Like the quote says, there is no place truly like home.

    Part 2
    Sparks materialised around the toasty fireplace, flames flickering like a candle, unaffected by the devilish cold swirling in a whirlwind of darkness, shrieking into the forest. Snow began to swarm outside the cosy log cabin, burying flowers and destroying anything in its sight. The wind howled like a wolf, yet had the rage of a crocodile, aggressively beating the battered pieces of spruce. It scraped the door with sharp nails, yet all this anger was silenced by the tranquil, almost eerie fire, which made itself at home, sitting in the middle of the fireplace.

    It gleamed like the sun when shining in the middle of the room, emitting the comfort of one knowing they are at home, creating the smell of burnt coal, reassuring one that they are cosy and warm. It is something that I savoured, something that almost felt as precious as jewels, as valuable as diamonds, and as rare as gold. I was snuggled up, sleepy but almost as if hypnotised by the flickers of the flames, appearing and disappearing as quick as a flash, and the fire, everlasting and moving, swirling around in the quiet breeze of a non-existent wind.

    The sky flashed with thunder that night. Clouds spiralled together, lightning bolts crackling down, thrown with such force which were meant to kill. Yet the fire kept me company. It symbolised hope, and carried it throughout the night. It represents the first thing one would use to establish a land. A beautiful land, filled with life and mankind.

    Part 3
    The moon shone its bright reflections of light, gleaming in the night sky, creating an eerie aura, mysterious and clouded. Veiled by clouds drifting left and right, floating innocently and surfing the layers of ebony velvet painted across in a clean swipe. Slowly and steady, they washed away on a board, skimming on the night sky.

    Alice fidgeted with her thick and clumsy fingers, agitated by the rumours that had spread about her. A sense of anxiety washed through her mind, nervousness haunting her mind about the gender discrimination she would face, the disowning eyes of her disapproving parents. She could almost feel the amount of hate she would face, the dilapidated dream she had once thought about when young, dreamed about when older and was about to regret soon.

    The sinister laughs many people had snickered behind her back as she played the saxophone. The horrible whispers trembling in her mind, engraved in stone, never to be forgotten. The atrocious fury her parents had felt, raging anger burning like blue fire when they had found out her desire. She didn’t know what kept her going, the candle wavering every second, almost put out countless times by the dozens of voices who had been astonished and disgusted of how a woman would do such a thing. The rumours battered her, each whisper like a whip, stinging her with force.

    She wasn’t ready for it, and as much as she wanted to go off to the stage, she thought it wasn’t worth it. Yet she felt about all the work, the pain, the fury and anger, and knew she had to try. Her saxophone in her hand, she walked onto the stage and began to play.

  22. Part 2
    My coat dripped as I settled into a comfortable red armchair near the fireplace. The outside wind howled and screeched, the rain hammered the ground, and trees groaned and bent. The flames flickered and hissed as droplets of water from my coat fell into the fire. The original freezing and forbidding room transformed into a warm, welcoming place by the fire.

    I glanced at the clock mounted on top of a wooden cabinet. It was late, very late. Despite this, I still stayed at the fire. The gratifying crackle of the fire kept me staring at the fire. The wood popped and sparked. I needed to go to bed, I had to wake up early tomorrow but couldn’t bring myself to leave the fire to go to bed. I sighed with pleasure as I listened to the fire. I slowly closed my eyes and fell asleep.

  23. The Knocking of the Knock, Knock, Knock

    I couldn’t take my eyes off the mesmerising, enchanting glow. Warm light filtered the room. The heat of the magical flames caressed my cheeks with warmness, against the cruel, cold winter night. I stared mesmerised at the molten hearth as it licked up the logs and waved in front of my plush armchair. The wind howled like a tormented ghost outside. The fire crackled in the open fireplace, making the living room a snug retreat from the grey, hissing veil of rain outside. The passionate, gregarious flames flickered and danced in the sturdy unmalleable fireplace, waving their arms, so carefree, like a bird in the vast sky. The frigid air seemed to be completely cut off once I enshrouded myself in the soft crackling of the galvanising flames. I was bathed in a crimson orange light from the heart of the house like a caterpillar snugged in a velvety cocoon. Radiating heat percolated into my chilled bones. The living room was alive – warm, welcoming and gleaming with scrubbed and polished wood. It was my relaxing haven, furnished with a huge oak table, a sideboard, deep leather couches and large floor cushions. This was my home. Warm. Cosy. Homely.

    My memories flickered forward. The inglenook was covered in a blanket of star – enveloped in a downpour of memories. I looked at the picture of my family on top of the fireplace – the four of us smiling into the camera, my vision suddenly clouded with tears. How wonderful were those days. Sounds of chirping birds. I looked around. The blazing carpet of bluebell trees was bursting with blossom and the symphony of song birds. A huge canopy of tree tops was an emerald green blanket of leaves that spread out above me. At that moment, I realised how beautiful nature really was. A light of hope glimmered in the distance. It was a house. A house which would later be my home. We grew up. We parted our separate ways. Just beautiful memories now. I was dissolved in all these thoughts flashing around me like a hyperactive supernova of light, I didn’t notice the knocking of the knock, knock, knock at my door.

    The cackle of the fire ceases, the giggles halt, the wind’s angry howl curbs and the heavy oak door with stained-glass panels waited ominously for me. Howling winds could be heard whipping through the flagellated trees, their unearthly shrieks lacerating through the winter night. Cold sweat dripped down my face. I could sense the prickle of fear in the bottom of my spine. It was like a lead ball in my stomach. Who could be here, out in the woods, alone, on a cold winter night? How did they know my location? Who was behind the door? Desperately, wanting answers, I called out:

    “Who’s there?”

    The air was entombed in silence. I waited for the response…

    Knock, knock, knock was the answer. The pounding of the door was the pounding of my heart, about to jump out of my ribs. I’ve not had a visitor in twenty-seven years. I stared down the dark flight of narrow, creaking stairs and the vast echoing entrance hall. It was long and dimly lit. I was away from my fireplace. My safe haven. Cold sweat raced down my forehead. My safe haven was disappearing at every step I took. The sub-zero gales reached out with dry, crooked hands, trying to penetrate the warmth of the fire. The dying fireplace hurled its dark shadows upon my red curtains. Each dying ember retched its soul upon the floor, leaving dark stains of fear across my heart. Every nerve in my body warned me not to go any further. But, my curiosity arose – I had to find out.

    Knock, knock, knock, the door hissed at me. This time, even louder. Knock, knock, knock! Knock, knock, knock! The beating sound was getting louder and louder each time.

    Mustering courage, I took in three deep breaths. Finally, I lumbered precariously towards the door and gingerly opened it a few inches.

    A petite man appeared at the door, with a suitcase, his coat drenched as his wet hand clenched a broken umbrella.

    “Hello Harrold, it’s been a while…”, a voice too familiar spooked me. There stood before me, my mirror image. My twin brother!

    “Ha-Harry? Is that really you?” I could barely utter another word, as tears of joy embraced our overdue reunion.

  24. Part 1
    Winter Night
    The fire stood, licking the glass which it had been enclosed in. Snow poured outside, surrounding my small cabin with a white blanket, just like the one I huddled in. Flickering, burning, glowing, the fire arched and bent, creating overarching shadows on the wall. I stood up, my eyes still fixed on the flames. Its heat spread across the room as the excited chirps of children echoed through the land, filling up hearts with joy.

    Walking up to the window, I placed my hands on the old table which stood close to the window. Snow grazed the trees, gently dropping down on the sodden ground. Children ran around in their hard, rubber boots, throwing handfuls of snow everywhere. We were happy, ignoring the tough times that we have faced. In my country, the flame within everyone will keep flickering through thick and thin.

    Part 2
    Belong
    Ever since he moved in, he felt like he didn’t belong. The large glass skyscrapers surrounded the roads, bustling with cars and trucks. The cacophony of squealing tyres at night was unbearable. The smoke filled air choked all that stood in its embrace. In his farm, these things never happened. He disliked his job in the city as well.

    As a lowly janitor, he was looked down upon, given smug sneers from bypassers. His deteriorating self image seeped down into his self esteem, which wasn’t even high in the first place. Cleaning, sweeping this boring activity would last for a lifetime. He was helpless. Helpless to the nasty words and low pay. Not enough to make a living.

    His life seemed like it was deemed unimportant. He wished the many problems introduced to his life would disappear into thin air, like God removed his sins. It would all happen if he quitted. After his long torturous hours were over he marched up to his boss and asked him to quit.

    Walking out of the building, he strutted along the pathway, happy that the weight from his shoulders had been removed. It seemed he was the only janitor out there. The days passed quickly and the streets filled up with litter. Food scraps, plastic, paper all scattered around on the cobblestone floor. With barely enough janitors to clean there, the town got messier and messier. That’s when he realised. No job is unimportant. No person is worthless. Everybody has a reason to live, no matter what.

    Part 3
    Alice
    She had passed the line. The words echoed through her head, piercing her heart. Maybe they were right. Women weren’t supposed to perform, they were supposed to stay at home and look after the house. They were supposed to be respectful and nurturing and she was the opposite of that. She was prohibited from the thing she loved most. Jazz.

    Now she was standing backstage at a concert. She would surely be arrested. Trapped in a prison cell of what she can and can’t do. The flames of indignation burned in her, she deserved rights. The lights flared above her, blinding her with unfairness. Her thoughts ran like a train, filling her head with doubts.

    The curtains let out a faint murmur as other participants performed, giving her nasty looks as they walked by her. Alice remembered the words that her family had thrown at her. The looks they had given her. They even resorted to physical violence. It was all too much. Now it was her turn to show what she was made of. What she could do.

    She walked onto the stage. Disapproving faces surrounded her, scowling. Nobody said a word. She nervously picked up the microphone as the audience mumbled spiteful phrases. Alice’s eyes darted around the room and finally she started to sing.

  25. sarah-h-yonggmail-com

    Part 2
    The cold thin air came through the long spiny cracks in the window and into the warm room. The draught flowed through the house – under the door, through the living room and over to the bedroom where I had fortified myself in blankets and pillows. I sat in front of the fireplace and absorbed the warmth as it heated my body, flowing through my veins like a stream of water making its way around a windy path full of sharp jagged rocks. The flames licked at my fluffy blankets like snakes striking prey with their sharp fangs.
    I stared mindlessly out the window at the snow slowly falling. I yearned to leave the safety of my house and go outside to play in the snow, but I knew I couldn’t. The cold would freeze me to death if I wasn’t wearing so many layers of clothing. Deep in thought, I sat up and went to the front door. The sudden rush of cold paralysed me for a split second and I fell forward into the freezing frost-ridden grass. I strode forward and realised that the snow was getting higher and higher. I looked up at the starry night sky and saw the vivid fluorescent lights of an aurora.
    The moon rose up into the air, now in the centre of the sky. Satisfied, I looked back down at the ground. The shadows from the forest were creeping closer and closer, putting less and less distance between danger and I. Shaken with fright, I bolted back into the house to the safety of my nice, warm bedroom. Once again, I snuggled next to the fireplace. I laid down my head on a pillow and pulled a blanket over me. And then, I fell asleep.

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