Christmas short story competition winning stories from the Isle of Wight!

 
 
The Presentation Ceremony at Newport Minster
 
For the past five years Bob & I have organised a Christmas short story competiton along with our writing circle to try to inspire others on the Isle of Wight to read and write, especially the children. Not only has this competition and the ‘Crime & Intrigue’  short story competiton we organise in the Spring now resulted in 24 published writers but they have also made thousands for local charities. To enable us to attract entries we are very blessed to have the most amazing sponsors which include our local Waterstones and Southampton and Portsmouth  football clubs. This year Julian Fellowes backed the advertising campaign and so did Brendan Coyle of  Downton fame! :-)  
 
The winners of our competitions are  also invited to the IW Radio Studio where they are interviewed by Heather McCallum on her afternoon show. This extra prize is always very exciting for us all, so a big thanks goes to Heather and IW Radio. There are pictures on our website (which is sponsored by www.theisleofwightcomputergeek.co.uk) of previous winners in the studio @ www.iowwritingcircle.co.uk.
 
This year I wanted to share some of the winning stories and pictures of the presentation evening with you but first of all I wanted to say a great big well done to everyone who wrote a story for our 2012 Isle of Wight ‘Wight Fair Writers’ Circle Christmas short story competition’ – especially those who managed to achieve one of the 24 prizes  which are  listed below. 
 
A very special thank you goes to the  independent judges, for without them this competition would not be possible and to the High Sheriff Nick Hayward and Chair of the IW Council Susan Scoccia.
 
 
We raised over £600 for the Earl Mountbatten Hospice and St Catherine’s School in this, our fifth year of the competition and once again achieved three more published authors from the IOW into the bargain!
 
 
The Under 12′s winning story, by Tad Avery will be published this week’s Isle of Wight County Press and here it is!
 

The Night Before Christmas

It was a cold Christmas Eve but I was keeping warm by whizzing along on my scooter trying my best to do a tailwhip. A tailwhip, for those of you who don’t know is where you jump up and try to spin your deck 360 degrees and land it with both feet. Unfortunately I was finding this very hard and one attempt ended with the deck spinning into my ankle which made me fall over and brought tears to my eyes, this is known a ‘stack’ which means epic fail!

“Hey stack of the day what a complete mess!” To my horror I turned around to see Max also known as Maximum Destruction and his gang who had been watching my wipe out. Max and I didn’t get along very well. They all started laughing at me which made me feel angry. “Well can you do better?” I shouted. “No problem,” he replied and snatched my scooter. Then he pulled off the trick perfectly. It was amazing. Max then threw my scooter down and shouted “Loser,” before walking away.

I scootered home feeling really silly and thought that playing on the play station would cheer me up. However 30 minutes later I found myself being chucked out of the house by my dad asking me to buy some milk.

It had started to get dark but I thought it wouldn’t hurt if I went down to the skatepark for a bit. There was no one there or at least I thought there was no one there.  I went up and down the ramps but I noticed there was someone hunched up in the corner. I scooted over to see if there was something wrong and recognised that it was Max who looked really miserable.

“What’s wrong?’ I said expecting him to be rude as usual but he said nothing. “Hey Max, what is wrong?” I said again. “Go away,” came the reply in a muffled and miserable voice. “Seriously, what is wrong?” I persisted. “Well I will tell you, on one condition that you tell NO ONE!” Max replied. “Sure, you can trust me,” and I sat down next to him.

“Well last Christmas my dad just walked out and my mum has lost her job so things are a bit chaotic right now,” he said. This made me think about Max and his life and I felt sorry for him. “Max that must be difficult. My granny died this year and I have been thinking about that and how much I will miss her this Christmas, “I said. “Christmas is funny huh? It can be a great time of year but it can be sad when you think about other people who are going through hard times or may not have as much as you, “I blurted out.

“Yeah it is funny time of year but not as funny as you making that rubbish trick earlier on,” he joked trying to make me laugh. “How about I teach you how to land that tailwhip?” Max said. “Really, that would be awesome, it would be the best Christmas present,’ I replied.

For the next hour Max and I had the skakepark to ourselves. He patiently taught me how to do a tailwhip which I eventually pulled off. It started to get really dark and I knew I had to make a move. “I’ll have to go now, got to get some milk,” I said. “Does that mean we are friends?” I asked. “I will think about it,” he said acting all tough. I began to walk off and then he shouted, “Hey, you are alright, see you around!”

“Happy Christmas Max,” I said.

“Yeah, Happy Christmas to you,” Max replied.

 

The End

 

 The Adult winning entry Colour & Light written by Hannah Saunders will be published on the Isle of Wight County Press online and you can read it here…

Colour and Light

 Berkshire, 1911

 ‘Come away from the window, Robert. You need to wash before dinner.’

 

Robert didn’t move. He wiped away another cloud of breath from the glass and stared down at the lawn outside, which was already becoming white and crisp with frost. The nanny strode over and wrestled him to a basin filled with hot water. She attacked his cheeks, neck and ears with a rough cloth as he wriggled in her iron grip.

 

‘You are a naughty boy,’ she snapped when she was done, a little out of breath. Robert immediately broke away and ran back to the window seat. ‘Your mother will be hearing about this. If you’re not downstairs for dinner in five minutes you will get nothing.’

 

Robert didn’t know if mother would really find out about his naughtiness. If she had heard about him letting the dog out of the front gate, or building mud castles on the lawn, or spitting the gristle from cook’s nasty stew into the potted aspidistra in the hallway, then she must not have minded. She never mentioned it in her letters to him, at least. He imagined her laughing over nanny’s lengthy list of admonishments and complaints; a warm kind mass of silk and curled hair and heavy floral scent, the paper crinkled in her small white hand. Robert felt the mounting sadness within him grow stronger than ever.

 

Five minutes passed; then thirty, then an hour. The nursery grew quite dark. Flames hissed and crackled in the fireplace, throwing dancing red patterns out onto the carpet. Robert moved away from the window – the draught had numbed his nose and fingers – and sat in front of the ornate fire screen.

 

Tomorrow would be Christmas Day. A grand tree had been erected in the parlour, draped with paper chains and strings of berries. There were little sweets and tin soldiers and gingerbread men nestled in amongst the sticky needles of the branches, and an angel perched at the very top. Robert wasn’t allowed to touch, and could only come as far as the parlour doorway to admire it. There would be games and candied fruit and a fat roasted goose on the table tomorrow evening; or there might not be, if nanny didn’t look kindly upon his earlier disobedience. His aunt, the lady of the house, was prone to frequent nervous episodes and was rarely seen outside of her bedroom, and as a result did not play any part in Robert’s discipline. He remembered that tonight’s dinner had come and gone and his stomach groaned pitifully.

 

Robert had already accepted that this Christmas was going to be the worst he’d ever had. In fact, it would probably never be the same again. Last Christmas had been spent by his parents’ side, and every Christmas before that. But this year was different. At six years old, the displacement had shaken him more than anyone would have suspected.

 

The fire began to die, and Robert started to doze and dream in the last of its warmth.

 

He is sitting in a carriage with his mother and father, rolling through the dusty streets on an orange Bombay evening. Their progress is slow, the city still frantic with people, life flowing around them as unhindered as a river. The red, gold and green of an English Christmas seemed incredibly plain when he thought back to that previous winter, when every house and shop and market stall had erupted with a million colours, every colour that you could imagine. His world had been exotic and fantastical, but at the time it had seemed nothing out of the ordinary.  For instance, the cows. There are cows in England, too, but these ones are quite different; he recalls their carriage stopping behind one noble beast, her huge white head dusted with bright colours and with fragrant garlands caught in her horns and draped around her neck. She walks slowly, ceremoniously, and everyone waits patiently for her to pass. Instead of omnibuses there are elephants. In a basket writhes the naja naja with his hooded head and flickering tongue. Over the river drifts the ibis, and the amber-eyed shikra sits and watches from the branches of a moringa tree.

The stars never revealed themselves that night, banished by the lighting of thousands of candles and lamps. When he and his parents finally reach the house their doorstep has been decorated with a lotus made with carefully arranged coloured sand. Their young servant girl stands back shyly, smiling, her fingertips stained pink and orange. Mother adores it, but father disapproves and gives her a scolding. It must be cleared away before the night is through.

 

Later Robert notices that the girl – named Anupama, or Anu for short – is a lot quieter than usual when she helps prepare him for bed. He sits wakefully beneath the covers, waiting for her to tell him one of her exciting old stories, but she remains silent. Eventually she sits at the foot of the bed and sighs. Robert looks at her expectantly.

‘I hear you’re going to England,’ she says after a time. Robert realises that this isn’t the beginning of a story and makes a disappointed noise.

‘Not before Christmas,’ he says.

‘Christmas?’

‘It’s when Father Christmas visits and brings gifts with him. There’s a tree, too, and lots of sweets.’

‘Oh, yes,’ Anu replies thoughtfully, ‘Baba Christmas.’

‘Are you coming with me to England?’

‘I might,’ she says, patting the sheets by his feet absently.

‘Good. Now you don’t need to be sad anymore. I know why you’re sad, it’s because you’re thinking that you’ll miss me.’

Anu smiles wanly and stands. She goes to close the shutters but pauses before she does so, looking out across the city that shimmers like fragments of jewels on black cloth. Robert quickly climbs out of bed to join her.

‘What do you think of diwali?’ she asks him.

‘What’s that?’

A bright flash suddenly erupts above a faraway street, scattering tiny points of fire in every direction. Robert blinks in surprise.

‘This is the festival of diwali. The lights will scare away the darkness. It’s a time to welcome in happiness and wealth.’

Robert nods. ‘I like the colours. It’s a bit like Christmas.’

‘I’m glad you do,’ she says, and pats him on the head. ‘Now, back to bed. I must go and sleep too. Tomorrow I will visit my family. I’ve missed them very much.’

 

The under 18′s winner was Xavier Theobald.

 

The night before Christmas

Santa’s Crisis

 

Santa was getting ready for Christmas he looked out the window it was snowing very hard. He got the reindeers assembled, as usual Rudolf was last off they went.England,France,Italyall was going to plan till they headed toNew York. The reindeers started to get jumpy Santa had to hold on tight then he saw what was the problem. A massive storm was overNew Yorkthere was thunder and lighting the wind was howling there was no way the sleigh could land on the children’s roofs Santa started to panic. Out of the darkness he saw a light flickering. The light got closer; he could not believe his eyes it was the Statue of Liberty!!!!!!!! Walking towards him the flame showed Santa the way toNew York. Santa followed the flame and could see all the houses one of the children was looking out of his window could not believe his eyes the Statue of Liberty was walking thought the streets ofNew Yorkshowing Santa the way. When Santa dropped off the last present he turned to the Statue of Liberty to thank her she disappeared into the night he pinched himself was it a dream? Well all the children got there presents and Santa and the reindeers headed home.

 

 
 
The first place prize winners with little Grace Bridges our youngest entrant at 5yrs old who was also given a certificate for achievement and participation!
From the left Maggie Jones Chair of the WFWC, Linda Edge, Xavier Theobald, Carol Bridgestock, Bob Bridgestock,Hannah Saunders, Heather McCallum and the High Sheriff Nick Hayward. In the front are Grace Bridges and Tad Avery.
 
The prizes this year on offer this year were:-
 
A Car & Four on the IOW Ferry.
 
Sponsored - £10 Waterstones vouchers
 
Family tickets to:-
Dinosaur Museum
IOW Steam Railway
Seaview Wildlife Encounter
Heights Leisure Centre
 
Tickets to:
Southampton v West Bromwich – 27th April
Pompey v Hartlepool – 26th January and a Mascot Voucher!
 
A pearl bracelet
Bracelet and earrings
 
Chocolates
Wine
Cuddly toys!
 
Look out for the ‘Crime & Intrigue’ Competition which will be advertised in the Spring!
 
Happy New Year Everyone!
 
Carol :-) xx
 
 

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