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19 December 2020

Posted by Tabby Hayward


11-14 group -15 attending
15-18 group - 7 attending

In the final workshop of the term, we had a mini showcase sharing our favourite stories/extracts from the term, in the style of a mini One Thousand and One Nights tales!

Here are some of the wonderful pieces we heard...

A few weeks after Stardew valley had caught fire, Birchbark
was making some sort of effort in getting the Misted Cave into some sort of
order, he seemed to be talking to the books and telling them where to go. River
flow said he would be back by lunch, he was looking for the rest of the Stardew
pack who had fled during the flames. According to him they were quite far away
and if they started trekking after them now, they would find the pack in a
couple of weeks. Tealeaf was practising her herbs skills, filling the Misted
Cave with sweet aromas and small stars buzzed over her ears. She was thinking
‘if I mix basil with mint, I wonder if ill get a sort of perfume or if ill just
make this mixture worse….
‘You put in too much mint’ said Birchbark quietly
‘stop doing that!’ Tealeaf
‘doing what?’ Said
Birchbark                BY JASMINE

I stood in one of the many large fields on Ko’ei Fofre’etbe,
pink, blue and white flowers drifting around my feet. People milled around me
as the celebrations began, talking in hushed voices. Far above me I knew the
‘Wayfaring Archives’ was parked in orbit around Ko’ei, its crew waiting
patiently for departure.

Fireworks. Hundreds of years old, used before even the
colonisation of Mars. Before humanities first steps into space. They were still
being used.

The sky swirled with glowing embers, fireworks silently
depressurising into large blooming patterns of blues, pinks and whites. The
first settlers of Ko’ei didn’t talk when they landed, they just watched the
great rolling hills, blue oceans that glowed pink under Ko’ei’s sun: swiling up
onto shore in sheaths of white.                    BY GEORGE

I walk along the lobby of my once home. my
no-longer-there-breath catches in my throat. my imaginary heartbeat quickens.
my steps are silent as I creep up the stairs. my swamp-like hair falls in front
of my face and water drips from the end; drip, drip, drip. my eyes are a blank,
emptiness that just stares. I can see through the foolish acts of kindness. I
can see people’s real reason for their actions. I felt a numbness in my heart.
portraits of dead relatives glare down at me. secretly, I can tell they are
cheering me on; they hate her just as much as I do. as I reach the end of the
long, dark hallway, that is only lit by the oil lamp in my hands, I can see a
portrait, it is of a young girl- she is not the most attractive. of course
she’s not, she is dead. her hair is not yet swamp like, it curls around her
face and her pale, grey eyes stare emotionless lay. no, not emotionlessly.
there is fear and anger in her eyes. she is me.                    BY ERIN

It’s still raining. It’s now 9 degrees. I checked. The drawers are bothering me. They’re wooden, but not real wood, the fake wood. They’re from IKEA and mum when she was alive bought them five years ago because the old drawer was falling apart. The top drawer isn’t pushed in properly but that’s not what I’m bothered about. What I’m bothered about is that the clothes haven’t been organised properly. Whoever took over the laundry didn’t do a very good job. I’m good at laundry so I start taking the t-shirts out, and putting them in colour order. I get as far as sorting out ten t-shirts from the drawer — one red, five white, two black and two blue when my sister finally removes herself from the bedside and stands behind me. I’m not looking at her face so I’m not sure if she’s happy or not.

“You don’t need to do that, Ellen.”

I tell her I don’t see why not when we have to sort out her belongings anyway. 

“We don’t need to sort out her things just yet; she’s just died for crying out loud.”

She was in fact, crying out loud earlier. I laugh but the pressure in my head is still there and it’s still raining. I say that they will want to do something with the house so we should make sure it’s clean. 

“I can’t believe you.”

She sounds angry. I don’t know why. I’m not lying. 

She sighs. “Sorry, I just don’t understand how you’re not...” 

I ask her what she was going to end that with. It confuses me when people don’t end their sentences. You started it, you may as well end it. 

She waves her hands around in a random way. “Nevermind.”

I nod and take more shirts out of the drawer. I don’t see the point in continuing because sad people usually don’t want to talk about things. She intercepts my hand. 

“Why are you doing that? You don’t need to sort out her clothes.”

I tell her that I do need to sort out her clothes, because the drawer was pushed in lopsided and whoever did mum's laundry didn’t put her clothes in the right order. 

“There’s no right order for putting clothes away.”

I am good at laundry and spend a lot of time putting clothes away. So I say to her that you need to put the clothes away in colour order, starting with red and ending with white, like the rainbow. 

“Only you do that. You’ve turfed it out for no reason.”

I don’t think I’m the only one that does that, but even so I don’t understand why it’s so much of an issue. It’s messy so I’m fixing it. I repeat myself and tell her that the clothes were in the wrong order and need to be sorted out. I continue taking the last of the shirts from the drawer. 

“I...I know it’s messy but you don’t need to sort it out. You need to sort yourself out.”

I don’t need to sort myself out, I say, I need to finish this. Which is true. I don't know what she means by 'sorting yourself out'. I am not an object. 

She sighs, again. “I’ll finish it. You need to go home.”

I don’t want her to finish it because she’ll do it wrong. Doing the laundry makes me calm and she’ll ruin it. I tell her I need to stay and finish it.


I tune her out with my mmmmmmmm’s because I know exactly what she’s going to say. She’s going to tell me to go home and I don’t want to go home until I’ve finished taking the clothes out and put them away. 

“You’re stressed being here. You should go.”

I tell her I’m not stressed because I’m here, I’m stressed because she’s going to take over the job I want to finish myself. I don’t understand why she thinks I should go. She’s stressed so she should go if she is applying her own logic. I mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm to decompress some of the pressure in my head because she’s making it worse. 

She lowers her voice even though I can hear her just fine as she was before. “Just promise you’ll go home once you’ve finished.”

I nod, quietly say yes, and start folding some red shirts. I’m doing red first because it’s my favourite colour and makes the most sense. 

We’re facing each other now and she smiles.  “We’ll be alright, El.” 

I don’t know how people can say that. My sister is a lot of things but she is not a fortune teller. A lot of people lie with their eyes. Her’s are watery. I don’t know if that means she’s lying or not but it does mean that she’s crying. My therapist told me when someone is sad, I respond by doing things that make me feel better when I’m sad and apparently that’s empathy. I like folding laundry so I give her a blue t-shirt. She laughs so I think it worked. 

“You want me to do it after all?” 

I say no, I don’t. 

She laughs again and shakes her head. I don’t know what’s funny about empathy, whatever that is. She folds it. It’s not done properly. She puts it down on the floor in the correct pile, at least. I go to give her another blue t-shirt but she touches my hand again. 

“I need to go and speak to the nurse.” I know she’s talking to the nurse because she’s better at talking to people than I am, but I don’t know what she wants to talk about. Mum is dead so I don’t understand what use the nurse is now. 

So I ask her why she’s going to do that. 

“Because, well…” She looks at Mum. “Like you said she can’t stay here forever.”

I nod because she’s right. 

“Open the window if you need some air, okay?”

I tell her it’s raining so that’s a bad idea. She laughs and shakes her head, again. She likes doing that when I say things. I’m being honest, I don’t understand what’s so funny about it. I don’t understand what shaking the head adds to it either. A social construct I don’t understand, probably. I understand science and geography but there are plenty of things I don’t understand and talking to people is one of them. 

“You were the one that decided to sort out Mum’s drawers, I wouldn’t put it past you.”

I don’t understand what she means in her tone of voice. I decided to sort the drawers because it was arranged wrong, I don’t know why someone wouldn’t do that. So I just blink and blink again and say that opening the window when it’s raining outside is something stupid Mum would do if she was alive. 

She looks back at Mum with a frown that I have decided to dub as “sad” not based on actual emotional awareness but on past context.  “You’re not wrong, El.”

We stand in silence for some moments. Then she does that tight smile people do when they’re about to exit somewhere after a conversation and she leaves. 

I pick up the blue t-shirt that she folded wrong. Then I remember it was one of Mum’s favourite t-shirts because it went well with a pair of jeans she had. Light blue jeans from New Look. They were 9 pounds in the sale. I remember her being excited about it but I still thought they were expensive for jeans. She wore them a lot when we went on walks.  So I should fold it properly. I can’t crease her favourite shirt. I know it doesn’t matter because she won’t see it but I can still see her wearing it in the New Forest. I change my mind and open the window. The rain mists on the sill; my mum is the closest to the afterlife as my non-believing mind will let her get. The rain stops at four. She will be gone by then. 

wisps of smoke twist and coil like snakes
As the fire swells like a frog, flaming and crackling,
The popping of dry wood flares in the swathes of darkness,
Embers glow like fiery rubies, splashing golden spectrums of colour.
As the fire swells like a frog, flaming and crackling,
Bursts of colour illuminate the soulful darkness,
Embers glow like fiery rubies splashing golden spectrums of colour,
A wave of crackers fizzes and whirs rumble as fireworks explode into existence.
Bursts of colour “”
Guy Fawkes lies solemnly on a pyre,
A wave of “”
The wind whips the flames into a cruel crescendo 
Guy Fawkes “”
The popping of dry wood “” 
The wind whips “”
Wisps of smoke “”


“I have a case for you, Mister Conquest!”
With his usual patient smile, Nikolay said, “Mister Zakomelsky, good sir. Miss Conquest is my
partner here.”
He gestured to me to punctuate the statement and I wished that he would qualify that we
are not romantically involved. People tend to think that Nikolay likes to bring his wife along
on investigations, and do not account at all for my usefulness.
One of the most irritating things about being a private detective is that people think it’s
perfectly acceptable to just sweep into your parlour and start chattering about stolen
necklaces and cheating husbands with no care for pleasantries at all. Nikolay is partial to the
dramatics because he wants my accounts to read like the sort of detective novels that you
would pick up off of a shelf, but I care about the state of his Persian rugs and the scuffs on
the sideboard from the door being slammed back, even if he doesn’t give a second thought
to them.
The ruddy-cheeked and imprudent young man from the previous night that made Nikolay
grip his trilby tightly in his hands and smile through gritted teeth was in that moment partial
to glittering eyes and enraptured breath. “Tell me more!” Nikolay cried, sitting forward and
imploring the man with his gaze.
Nikolay’s opinions of people change whenever it suits him, though I suppose he would not
like me to put that in an account. As usual, he is up on his high horse about being the next
Hercule Poirot, England’s greatest foreign detective. I have pointed out many times that
being the son of ex-Russian nobility is different to being a wounded Belgian police officer.
He pretends not to hear me; Nikolay’s hearing is also selective when it suits him.
“You mean to say that Gene Bouchard has died?” Nikolay asked, leaping up from his chair.
Theodore Colt nodded eagerly. “Indeed! Dear Aurora found him dead in his dressing room
after our evening performance and—”
“Excuse me,” I said, “but who is Gene Bouchard?”
I must confess to you, dear reader, that I know dismally little about most subjects that one
frequents in day-to-day life. I do, however, retain a curious ability to simply obsess over
narrow topics for as long as my mind permits it. As a young girl, I took up the study of
fashion in a way peculiarly clinical for somebody my age, and I also became utterly
fascinated with the way that objects dropped to the ground when you let go of them in mid-
As a young girl, I took up the study of fashion in a peculiar clinical way. I also became
fascinated with the manner in which an object behaves when dropped. This curious
acknowledgement of gravity gave way to an obsession with physics — of which I find that
we as a species have discovered disappointingly little. No matter whether you take up the
study of astronomy or electromagnetic waves or gravitational fields, it all peculiarly hits an
eventual wall known as ‘because the world says so’. Perhaps this is what stopped me
investigating further into the subject.
My current interests as I write this are poisons, psychology, and bees.
I do like bees.
“My friend!” cried Nikolay. “You mean to say that you don’t know Gene Bouchard?”
I shook my head, feeling rather foolish. “I know a lot about bees,” I replied, injured.
He laughed heartily, in that performative way that comes so naturally to him. “I know that
you do. Gene Bouchard is a rather famous actor, Ida. From the show that we saw.”
“Why, how on earth didn’t you know?” Theodore invited himself to sit down and stared at
My voice locked up inside my throat, as it always does in the face of mockery. Nikolay,
however, laughed warmly and said, “My companion knows a great many things about
precious few subjects. Bees, for example. Crime is another. She can recite to you
conversations from some years ago, and is a wonderful reference book for spiders, snakes,
and the human mind.”
Coming back to myself with an effort, I said, “Whereas Nikolay knows an encyclopaedic
about every subject known to humankind.”
“How did Bouchard die?” Nikolay asked Theodore, the blunt question sounds kind coming
from his lips.
“He was hit by a sandbag, cut above his head during his monologue that opens the second
act,” Theodore said, running a hand through his hair. “Then was found dead in his dressing
room after taking a rest and leaving the rest of the act to the understudy, and they think he
was poisoned by something in his flask. He always takes a drink to calm himself. The police
have already swarmed the theatre and taken the body away, so there’s no point you
attending now.”
Nodding, Nikolay said, “I shall see to it that I come by first thing tomorrow. When do your
rehearsals begin?”
“Eight, though it’s going to be a mad rush to make sure that the understudy knows his part.”
Getting to his feet, Theodore put on his hat and straightened his jacket. He was a person
who seemed to be made up entirely of triangles, a pointed nose and a pointed chin and a
pointed way of speaking that poked me every time he directed words towards me. “I’ll see
you at the theatre tomorrow at eight o’clock sharp, Mr Zakomelsky?”
“And Ida,” he said in a pleasant voice, getting up to see him out.
Knowing that it would be rather a while until Nikolay bid that we retire to our bedrooms, I
got up to make a pot of coffee.                            BY LILY

After hearing all this wonderful writing, we then moved on to a more festive writing challenge!
The young writers had to choose a Christmas cracker from the images on the screen. Then we 'pulled' the crackers to reveal what was inside. Each contained a joke, a coloured hat, and a small prize - e.g. JOKE: What do snowmen wear on their heads? Ice caps, PRIZE: Fortune telling fish, HAT: Sparkly purple
The young writers' challenge was to include as many of these things, in any way, into a short story!
Here are some examples....

While Birchbark was cleaning the cave, he found a green
Christmas Cracker, out of curiosity he pulled it open with Tealeaf and inside
was a little metal keyring, a bunch of pine needles that Tealeaf accidentally
stood on, a green hat woven from leaves that Birchbark put up on a shelf and a
piece of parchment with the words ‘why are Christmas trees so bad at knitting?
Because they always drop their needles!’ A rustle at the cave entrance told
Tealeaf that Riverflow was back, he looked at the one needles strewn across the
floor and back at Tealeaf, then said with a hint of amusement in his voice
‘merry Christmas’             BY JASMINE

“Flying is actually the safest form of transport! The second
is dreaming and the third safest is decomposing into the Earth’s mantle crust
and waiting for a tectonic shift!” said the sorcerer in the pointy red hat with
silver stars. They waved a staff for dramatic effect.

“And why would I trust you?” I said.

“Because I broke your drum!”

“That is less reason for me to trust you, what the hell

My drum turned to me and spoke in an ancient tongue that I
concerningly knew somehow.

“My physical existence has been terminated and I have been
liberated from the earthly plane and I am able to return to the depths of hell!
Mere seconds more and I would have decided to kill you!”

My drum disintegrated.

“And that's why you should trust me!” said the Sorcerer.

“Oh do shut up!” I threw my pen at them.                        BY GEORGE

‘So, tell me fortune telling fish, what will the hat mum
ALWAYS hat to knit me be this year?’ I ask the talking goldfish. He sits for a
minute with his mouth open. Quietly, the old goldfish swims away.     He returns shortly later with a
whiteboard. I bend over and read the scrawly lettering. ‘I,’ I pause trying to
read the next word. ‘Have- you do realise there is an ‘e’ in ‘have’- lost my
voice.’ The goldfish puts a little fin up and then disappears again. I wait for
him to return. Impatiently, I drum my fingers on the table.     After a few minutes, Bongo, the goldfish,
returns with his best friends, Pablo and Paul (yes, they are both called Paul
but who really cares?). Pablo, a Spanish, blue seal points at himself. ‘Blue,’
I say and they all nod. Bongo points at Paul and I respond, ‘Stars?’ To this,
they all nod. And then Paul and Pablo yell, ‘Icecaps! Icecaps are melting!’ I
shake my head at them then walk away. ‘Thanks for the help!’ I call back.

All of them were right. the queen, my owner, later came
up to me with a blue hat that had stars on it. ‘who’s my favourite doggy?’ she
rubbed my ears. ‘you are pancake! you’re the man!’ (oh did I mention the queen
is taking rap lessons, much to everyone’s amusement)


Osbourne and Edwards were sitting at the dinner table. Osbourne was counting how many crackers they had both had and Edwards was still reading through all the jokes trying to make Osbourne laugh.

“Hey here’s a good one.” Edwards chirped up.

“That’s the thirteenth one!” Osbourne sighed knowing Edwards was going to tell it whatever he said.

Edwards was a lot more into Christmas than Osbourne was. He didn’t exactly know why Osbourne wasn’t a fan of Christmas but just let it lie as both of them would be alone if they weren’t together. Plus thanks to social distancing they could only do this over zoom and didn’t have to actually sit next to each other.

“Well can I at least tell the joke?” Edwards asked.

“Fine. go ahead.” Osbourne sighed, biting into his turkey sandwich.

“Right what do you call a blind reindeer?” Edwards asked excitedly.

“I don’t know Edwards.”

“No eye dear.” Edwards burst out into laughter.

Osbourne had heard this joke about a thousand times and it still didn’t sound THAT funny. He had told Edwards he wasn’t going to be too christmassy, he said he would wear a purple hat but that’s as far as he was going to go. 

“Do you want to know what i got in my cracker?” Osbourne finally came up with an idea.

“What’s that?” Edwards asked, a little confused.

“A magic trick you ready?”

Edwards shrugged and tried to work out how this was exactly going to work on zoom.

“Right three two one… And you’ve disappeared. Osbourne said, shutting his computer.

“That’s not funny!” Edwards said.

Osbourne continued eating his lunch not really listening to Edwards’ pleas to actually talk to him again. Ah bliss. 

“Osbourne I’ll tell the boss.” Edwards said in a sing-song way.

Osbourne's eyes widened and quickly opened the computer again. Edwards was sitting there crossed arm. He obviously had had enough of Osbourne’s shenanigans.

“Don’t tell the boss please. I don’t want to have to go through another zoom call with him!” Osborne moaned.

“Fine but you have to tell me a joke to make up for it.” Edwards urged still thinking all of it over.

“Urgh. Whatever.” And Osbourne continued to make Edwards laugh. At least this Christmas Osbourne actually enjoyed being with Edwards!

“Where are your christmas crackers?” A voice doesn’t need to travel very far in a caravan but somehow 8/10 he doesn’t hear me the first time. Though that may have something to do with being in the stuffiest room in the caravan, which is ironic for a caravan that despite having heating is so bloody cold in the winter that you could probably make snowmen in it just be scraping out the frost buildup in the freezer. 

“Well you’re not going to find food in there,” He huffs, and you can hear the hands on his hips as he puzzles over it in his thick romanian mumbling. He obviously only heard the last part of the sentence. I turn around and make a point of annunciating my words. 

“Christmas crackers, Nori, for goodness sake,” 

He muses. “Oh, I thought you meant the food, for crying out loud”

“Well obviously not, if I wanted a bloody gourmet meal of cheese and crackers then I wouldn’t be crawling around in here covered in dust” I swipe my hands on my jeans and I can tell by the vain look on his face that he can’t quite compute that someone would ever get a speck of dust on their clothes. 

“You probably should eat by the looks of you,” 

“Excuse me?” I have no doubt he meant that in a caring way but it’s funny to make him squirm a little. 

He tuts and waves his hands. He enters the room a bit of the way in and judging by the look on his face, he is absolutely chuffed to bits about something and he’s about to rub it in. 

“Looking for these?” He chuckles, and pulls a christmas cracker box from the shelf. I’m not only injured because it was him that found them despite not lifting a finger for the past hour, it very clearly said ‘christmas crackers’ on the front of the box. Not to mention I bought them. I sigh heavily and start clambering over all of the boxes I’ve pulled out. After that tactful ego death I’m not interested in packing it away. 

“You little— give it here,” I lunge for him and with some loud bickering manage to get one single christmas cracker from the box. The rest have fallen to the floor in the playful discourse and I kick them to the side. 

“That was entirely unnecessary,” 

“you are entirely unnecessary,” I laugh, push past him and onto the sofa. I extend the cracker out to him. 

“Pull it,” He gives me a suggestive look, and so I follow it with “No, the goddamn cracker, Nori,” 

With little bother, he gives it a tug, and wins. What is it with (some) men that they do absolutely nothing and get things anyway? “Of course you did,”

He hums, and picks up the fortune fish on the floor. He looks at it like he’s literally holding a dead fish in his hands. “Looks like it’s been made out of orange cling film,”

“It’s a fortune fish.”

“You have me, you don’t need the fish the colour of a bloody corn flake to tell you what the future holds”

“What, and you’re any more accurate than the fish?”

He scoffs, lips twisting like he’s slightly hurt but doesn’t want to show it. “The money speaks for itself, dear” 

“Sure it does. Put it on your hand.”

“You can just read a palm, tells you far more than whether you’re jealous or bloody dead inside or something. Like, aren’t we all dead inside these days?”                        BY EVE

We were so impressed by all this amazing writing, and by all the young writers' work this term. This year hasn't been easy for anyone, but their brilliant creativity has shone through each week. We look forward to another wonderful term starting in January, when we will (fingers crossed!) be able to be back at Lighthouse. Until then, have a lovely Christmas and New Year and don't stop writing!!


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