The Winners: The Canterbury Tales Writing Competition 2020/21: Be Careful What You Wish For!

Thank you to everyone who entered The Canterbury Tales Writing Competition 2020/21: Be Careful What You Wish For! We had our best ever number of entries this year and the standard was really high. We know it has been an especially challenging year for students, parents, guardians, and teachers and are so grateful for all your support and enthusiasm.

Age 5-10

1st Place

A poem or story about wishes going wrong

Jupiter’s Wish

By Aoibhe Aged 9

One evening Jupiter was having a drink,

While having a drink, he was having a think.

“Juno, my dear,” he said to his wife,

“So boring so far has been my life.

“I wish for friends, laughter, fun and games.

And, if our last one hadn’t gone up in flames,

I’d wish for a party with bunting and sweets.

A good old knees-up, dancing to sick beats!”

Juno nodded her head and thought for a while.

Then said, “I’ve got a plan to make you smile.

It’s a great idea you’re sure to enjoy!

You’ll like it so much you’ll jump for joy!

“You want some fun? Well, come on, let’s go!

For tonight we’re hosting King Jupiter’s Disco!”

“Oh, Juno,” he cried, “I always love your ideas!

Come quickly, let us go and buy some tortillas!”

“But first,” said Juno, “who should we invite?

If we don’t make a list it will be a lonely night.”

“Oh, let’s choose Venus; she’s always so pretty.

But then she’s also so vain, so…maybe not, what a pity.”

“Hmm…well, what about Hypnos?” “No, he’s always dreaming.”

“Orcus?” “Are you kidding? Our guests will run off screaming!”

“Bacchus will say that our party’s not as good as his.”

“Yes, and probably sabotage our wine by adding too much fizz.”

“Let’s not invite Cupid; that lovebird is such a bore.”

“And we can’t invite Diana; she’ll be hunting on the dancefloor!”

“Flora is a ‘no’ because her flowers make me sneeze.”

“And Neptune’s far too busy causing havoc on the seas.”

“We can’t invite Bellona or Mars – you just know they’ll have a fight.”

“Well, we can’t invite Mercury; he’ll play bad tricks all night.”

“Minerva is no fun because she never stops reading

And Apollo’s terrible poetry leaves my ears bleeding!”

“Oh dear,” said Jupiter, “we can’t think of one single guest!

This surely means we must cancel Jupiter-fest.

I wished for a party with all my might;

If only we had other friends to invite.”

Then, suddenly, Ding dong, “Who’s at the door?”

Juno sighed, “probably Mars wanting to start another war.

I’ll go see who it is while you stay here and rest.

I know you’re sad about the disco but it’s probably for the best.”

Soon Juno came back in the room and, in her hands, held a letter.

“Jupiter, my dear, I’m afraid this won’t make you feel better.

It’s news from Greece, but please don’t get excited.

It seems Zeus is having a party…. but we’re not invited!”

2nd Place

A poem or story about wishes going wrong

REVERSE THE CURSE

By Mira Aged 10

A long, long time ago – well, it depends which part of the story you look at, but I’m gonna go from the current day. Soooo… I guess I’ll have to begin from the start. OK, here we go…

Before Coronavirus, there was a 9-year-old adventurous girl called Lucy. Lucy loved animals and had wished to meet the extinct ones ever since she was… like… potty trained. Her dad worked in a farm so she could pet all the horses and piglets as long and as tight as she wanted. Lucy’s mother had passed away two days after she was born. She didn’t know much about her but her dad would tell her stories about her mother’s adventures and quests. Lucy always wished she could be just like her one day. OK, enough background story, let’s get onto the interesting part…

One day, while she was sleeping, a golden light surrounded and lifted her up into the air. Then, before you can say “I-think-she-should-wake-up”, the light disappeared and everything became still, just as before. The only difference was there was a note on her desk that read…

Dear Lucy,

I know how much you love animals and adventures so I decided to combine the two. You now have the power to move from present to past or future. But don’t say you weren’t warned. Many dangers lurk around those corners. To get your powers working, say you’d like to go past or future and concentrate really hard.

Signed

The wish-granter

Lucy was so excited, she used her new power to travel to the Jurassic period. At first, she was pretty frightened because who wouldn’t be! If you aren’t, you are totally awesome. As she walked around the greener earth, she spotted an asteroid heading towards her at ferocious speed. Lucy panicked and ran. But then something triggered a thought and she grabbed a stiff leaf and started digging and digging, and digging! The dinosaurs roared and stomped in rage. She couldn’t leave them out there to die, so she took as many eggs and baby dinosaurs as she could fit into her hands, carried them to the deep hole that she dug while the rest exploded above them.

Lucy closed her eyes and when she opened them she was back home. But it was different. It wasn’t much different from the Jurassic period and there were no humans or human-made structures around. Suddenly, her face turned pale. Humans had ceased to exist!!! Lucy was starting to fade away! She had to hurry to change what she had done, or she would disappear in one go. Lucy travelled to the Jurassic period again and took the baby dinosaurs and eggs out of the hole. After that, she whisked out of the Jurassic period back to the current day where everything was the same as it was before the hullaballoo. Lucy also never used her power to travel to past or future again.

3rd Place

A poem or story about wishes going wrong

By Samuel Aged 8

Last year, I made a wish. I wished that my grey fluffy pet rabbit, Raspberry, would win an award.

I wanted her to do something different at a Pet Talent Show so everyone would applaud.

I wondered to myself what it could be,

So I followed her around the garden just to see!

I saw Raspberry running, hopping, and down the green grassy hills she went rolling,

“Nothing interesting” I mumbled to myself as I set up a game of Tenpin bowling.

But as I put the final bowling pin in its place,

I could see a huge smile on Raspberry rabbit’s face.

She was eating grass around our garden trees,

and she asked me very politely “Can I have a go please?”

Raspberry then stood up on her two back legs and released the ball,

But it wasn’t quite a strike as it only hit four.

It was my turn and I struck down another two,

but I wasn’t really concentrating on the game – no rather I was amazed that my wish had come true!

Raspberry practiced every day and night trying to perfect that winning strike!

Then Raspberry soon became an Olympic Bowling star,

and we even travelled the world in style in a luxury car.

I was always the loser and Raspberry always won,

But after a while, playing bowling with her was no longer fun.

She was such a boastful winner,

Raspberry could play a game of bowling and win whilst eating her grass and carrot dinner.

But very soon I didn’t care about the fortune and fame,

No, all I knew that Raspberry rabbit was just not the same.

She won a hundred golden awards

and yes her audience would stand and applaud,

But after one big game,

I never felt so ashamed.

Because Raspberry didn’t congratulate her opposing team,

it was then that I knew that she was becoming too mean!

I watched in horror as she punched the air triumphantly and sang a victory song,

and it was at that very moment I knew that my wish had gone terribly wrong!

This was all my fault!

What a hideous result!

“Oh this wish..,” I cried “I do regret, please oh please bring back my sweet and well mannered pet.”

To my wonderment at that very moment Raspberry changed her attitude,

and she sincerely apologised to everyone for being so rude.

“Well done Raspberry” I shouted out loud,

And tears of joy fell from my eyes as I never felt so proud.

Today Raspberry is much more humble and meek,

And she is just like her old self, polite and sweet.

But that isn’t the end of the story, because one day when Raspberry was hopping through the woodland valley,

she managed to find a nice job at our local Tenpin Alley.

Now Raspberry my bowling bunny,

works happily to earn her money,

and she has the best perk,

as she and I can play free games of bowling after school and work.

Intermediate – 11-14 years old

1st Place

A poem or story about wishes going wrong

By Tina Aged 12

It was a Prussian blue night with a half crescent moon- a beautiful one to admire

When a bright beaming star fell to Mary’s bed and asked ‘What is it that you desire?’

Enveloped with delight, Mary rubbed her eyes to check it wasn’t a dream

Whilst the shooting star stood patiently- with a rather blinding gleam

‘To have my very own garden!’ She cried, excited ‘Yes that is my wish!’

The star nodded and with a final spin a garden proceeded to flourish

Her ugly, dull, matted carpet hastily began to fade

As a lush green turf sprung up slowly tiny blade by blade

A meadow of vibrant tulips then replaced her rug

It was a lovely meadow with pretty beetles and a ladybug

Twenty sweet smelling roses mounted from her chair

Mary gently picked one up to weave it in her hair

Pockets of violets and pansies covered the windowsill

As the desk became a flowerbed that in no time started to fill

‘Why thank you star ever so much you’ve made my wish come true’

‘Well’ the star chuckled modestly ‘that’s what shooting stars do!’

Mary attended to her garden of which she was very fond

Watering all the shrubs and plants and cleaning out the pond

As for the kind shooting star, well they can only grant one wish

So once the wish has been granted they sort of die and finish

Mary saw the poor little star dim and wane away

She took it in her tiny arms as it turned from silver to grey

‘little star, little star you can’t possibly go yet!

My wish has come true but what about you’ Mary exclaimed, upset

Now Mary was no fairy godmother, she had no wand or magic

But if the kind star died wouldn’t that be tragic?

Opening the window, Mary called out to the sky

‘Help us please oh do be quick I don’t want the star to die’

All of a sudden her room burst with a shimmering light

As intricate specks of silver showered the night

‘Little girl you’ve already used your wish,’ wept the other stars, alas

‘We can bring him back if you give up the flowers and the carpet of grass’

‘I’ll give it all up for the star every single flower

But do hurry up he’ll be all gone by the end of the hour!’

So her wish as un granted and the kind little star was given back his shine

Her picturesque garden was all gone-every leaf and every vine

‘You thoughtful girl you gave up your wish just to save me?

That’s the kindest thing one could do. Every star would agree!’

‘I did’ Mary smiled ‘I gave up my wish because the last thing I need

Is cupidity, silly desires and, of course, greed.’

2nd Place

A poem or story about wishes going wrong

By Sophie Aged 14

In an alternate universe, a parallel land,

Time ticked sideways like shape shifting sand,

Sun rose in the west and set in the east,

(Blue-shift was the thing – what a terrible beast!)

With Schrödinger’s dog, and Newton’s pear tree,

The state of the world was as fine as could be,

(Telling stories means I’m in the sixth heaven,)

But let’s head straight to 1347,

Into the walls of Camford castle,

A posh little boy had opened a parcel,

His head was blonde, and his little face fat,

For he was born rich and a spoilt little brat,

He groaned and moaned at the idea of learning,

Whining, ‘My poor stomach is churning,’

He looked around and his tutor had gone,

‘Hurrah!’ he thought, till the window shone,

The light was blinding, so through squinting eyes,

He muttered his prayers and said his goodbyes,

But when no pain ever came to be,

He opened his eyes on the count of three,

The figure in front was short and stout,

She had blue skin and a hairy snout,

Her wings were as green as a spring-grown pea,

She said, ‘3 wishes thou have, William Godfrey,’

His face split into a devious smile,

‘I wish for no school,’ he uttered with style

‘Splendid,’ she voiced, writing a note,

‘I also wish to travel by boat,’

So she scribbled it down, and with a swish of her wing,

William asked, ‘I wish to be as strong as a king,’

The fairy figure looked up at the boy,

How selfishly he was willing to destroy,

Any chance or hope for a better earth,

Well, she thought, he has shown his worth,

‘Thy wishes shall come true within the next year,’

Then she seemed to disappear,

Little young William slept soundly that night,

Dreaming of the future with juvenile delight,

And after weeks and weeks of having to wait,

The year finally ticked to 1348,

My dear reader, does this year ring a bell?

Are bright red flags starting to yell?

For this is the year of The Black Death,

I’ll let you in on a secret (take a deep breath),

The fairy didn’t cause this, neither did the child,

For fairy granted wishes are only ever mild,

No, the bubonic plague reared its ugly head,

Causing thousands of people to end up dead,

The rich fled quickly, away from disease,

And William Godfrey felt sick with unease,

Though he was strong, he couldn’t fight mass hysteria,

And muscles are useless against bacteria,

Many years later the fairy came back and agreed,

That he had been selfish in both actions and deed,

He forgave her for keeping truth sly,

And she forgave him for his selfish reply,

‘Thy have another wish, Master Godfrey,

Please accept it as my sincere apology’,

He heaved a deep sigh and shook his head,

‘I shall leave wishes well alone,’ he said,

The small fairy merely grinned in reply,

And flew out the window, a final goodbye.

3rd Place

A poem or story about wishes coming true

Alisoun’s Tale

By Polly Aged 14

He claimed he loved me more than life itself. I realise that this made it rather fitting for me to be his downfall.

A wish in a well had been a common occurrence in tales from my childhood. Wishes to meet your prince, protect your child. I feared my radical wish would be rejected; I asked to be free from him, to not be admired like his treasured wood carvings, locked in his house, a wife too young, too wild to be given freedom. Who knows what I might do if I was allowed to live my life? Stray? Learn? He had many endearments for me: I was a rose, a beauty, weasel-slim. I was fit to be any man’s wife.

As I stared into the well, the docile water barely rippling, I heard the patter of footsteps. Nicholas, a poetic soul, an intelligent mind, a foolish heart. He stalked the streets, crooning lyrics, purring notes, singing sorrowful ballads of his poverty. He survived off pity. Leaning in, he fondled the ribbons in my hair, complimented the embroidery dancing around the collar of my blouse. He was a relentless flirt. Inevitably, in an embarrassingly impassioned way, he declared his undying love for me, his eyes glowing like a hot poker.

I was having none of it. Who was he to stake sole claim to my heart? He was no better than Absalom, a clerk who was painfully infatuated with me. But then again, Nicholas was a man of ideas so ludicrous, they often worked. If he distracted my groom, trying to buy us time alone, could I use the opportunity to get out?

I struggled not to snicker when he told me of the preposterous plan he’d put in motion. Knowing that at this moment, my fool of a husband was strapping himself, in a bathtub, to the ceiling, believing that God would soon try a second attempt at his trusty flood plan, made me sigh.

I truly wasn’t planning for such violent events to take place that night. However, I don’t regret what happened. I had known that the parish clerk, Absalom, an insipid man whose greasy hair hung like buttered corn, had a disturbing habit of staring at me. Yet when he arrived below my window, and bleated and begged I return his affection, I may have over-reacted. Apparently, he wasn’t as dreary as I had thought, given that he returned with a red-hot poker, and a cruel idea.

When Nicholas entered, I told him how I had demeaned Absalom, and that he should try too.

His newly burnt behind peeled like pastry. He cried my name as it smouldered. So did my husband, falling from the rafters, a moment before his arm was crushed.

Alisoun!

Whether they realised my betrayal, or just needed the woman they loved more than life, I doubt I’ll ever know, since I’m now miles from that well.

I think I wished rather well – for myself, at least.

Senior – 15-18 years old

1st Place

A description of a character who grants wishes

By Sejal Aged 17

The address is scribed upon heavy parchment, no bigger than a child’s palm. It is folded into half, then half again, before being passed on, in the guise of a merchant’s handshake. The Lord has no shortage of pounds and shillings; He accepts the parchment without a flinch at the cost.

The Lord rather despises the town and its foul, narrow streets. When he comes to a stop in a street not far from the main square, his brogues are soiled from cesspit waste and animal droppings. The Lord’s overcoat does little to spare him from the chill of the evening, and he rubs the cold from his hands as he finds the house. He checks the street briefly, ensures he is not noticed. The house is seemingly normal. Four storey and close to toppling, as every other. He raps quietly on the heavy door and presses closer to the doorframe, hoping the shadows hide his features. Rain begins to fall.

The Lord waits, until his overcoat is dampened and impatience has built. The harsh braying and stumbling of drunkards sounds closer, and he sighs with annoyance before pushing the door open and stepping quickly inside.

The room is as expected. Dark and cramped, the musk of rotten wood which has not been attended to. He squints in the darkness, is barely able to discern the outlines of a writing desk. The Lord stands. Still and silent. Unease prickles at his back, dancing along his spine.

He clears his throat.

Light spills into the room, bringing with it the kind of warmth that reminds the Lord of winters spent by the fire. At least twenty candles, all lit at once, cast shifting shadows against the mouldering ceiling. He blinks, bewildered, for surrounded by all this light sits –

A woman.

Legs crossed on the table surface, she leans back against the protesting chair. Her legs are bare, the hem of her gown fallen up against her thighs. The Lord clears his throat again and looks away. The lady wears no hat, and he imagines nothing could restrain her full head of hair, with its wild, untameable curls. She stares at him, her dark calculating eyes pressing and frightening.

He shivers. His voice seems lost in his throat, unable to fill the silent room.

He tries again, gasping, attempting to utter his inner desires.

“I understand.” Her voice, cooler than ice.

“Make your wish.”

She smiles.

2nd Place

A description of a character who grants wishes

By Taqwa Aged 15

Maybe you will drop your wish into the hollows of the Weeping Angel, marble wings heavy and majestic, protruding from gashes in its blood-soaked back. Perhaps you will visit the dark lair of the Moonchild in the wee hours of night and carve your soul deep into the celestial rings of its craggy ceiling. You might decide to visit the wolves’ magic lampshade- your desires will sputter silver galoshes of sparking rain into night’s cool air. Or maybe you will float up the pale blue walls of our own hazy sky, cross-legged and murmuring softly to the Head of the Clouds. These are ideals. You can trust the Silent Ones to deliver your wishes safely.

But what if you choose another?

Horns blare at you in fractured afternoon sunlight. Cars speed by, exhaust fumes kicking up piles of dust and dying leaves. You push past the chattering kids streaming out of school doors, the rats that skitter behind dumpster trucks of seedy hotels. The air hangs rife with the odour of cheap coffee and stale cigarettes, a stifling yellow heat clinging to your sweaty back.

You march on with purpose. It is in the midst of the city’s chaos, where the Wish Witch lives.

The door swings open. Downy white curls tumble carelessly, falling just short of upturned brows. Faint blue sparks crackle out of nimble fingers that constantly move. Freckles speck a brown, cheerful face, complete with a cocky grin and pearly teeth, and you can tell it in his stride:

This is an inferno of blazing magic that burns bright in the illusion of a boy.

The witch’s impish eyes gleam with mischief. “And what have we here?”

You don’t answer. There is something splintered in the sorcerer’s blue-gold gaze that stops you. Something that makes him look vulnerable. Exhausted.

There’s a bitter twist to the grin that’s playing on his mouth. Purple shadows leave harsh grooves under his eyes. Clothes hang on a too-thin frame, and your mouth fills with something like dread.

He’s wasting away.

The downside to granting wishes; he gets left behind. He only ever gets called for favors, a tool. Used, discarded, forgotten.

Granting wishes is unnatural. Every time he performs, a little bit of his soul withers away, no matter what price he demands. Pathetic. Hollowness becomes the norm. There’s nothing but a whistling draft inside, burning red-hot frost ‘til there’s a gaping hole where something is meant to be alive, beating. Warm.

And he wants to help people. How can he not? When they come to him with desperate eyes and shaking limbs and tearstained, wretched faces, how can he say no?

He can’t. And they’re grateful, and that warms him. But then they forget or come to ask for more.

It’s like there’s bugs crawling into the crevices of his brain. There’s rocks in his stomach and a noose around his neck. Each time, it pulls tighter.

He grants the wish and dies a little more on the inside.

3rd Place

A poem or story about wishes going wrong

Across the Water

By Jenny Aged 17

Oisín had gazed at Niamh for hours, winding her hair

in plaits and raising it high so the nape of her neck

appeared, slender and pale before the tumble

of hair like petals, russet, gold and white.

She saw him looking – recognition. A spark she

knew how to strike from stone

so

before the wish for eternal youth had passed his lips

the horse’s legs were swept out in stiff, bold staves

as Oisín crossed the water into Tír na nÓg

Red is the wine. White is the moon. Dancers turn, turn.

Oisín touches his newly alabaster skin; a pilgrim arrived at a shrine

witnessing a vision or unearthly sign.

‘I am homesick’ whispers Oisín to Niamh.

The firewood is doused, and flares again

revealing the faeries’ weed-green skin

‘If you leave Tír na nÓg, you will never return’

Hoarse-voiced. Dark-eyed. Scattering

as pebbles by the tide.

He escapes. Gallops along road, tangled with vetch and clover,

scribbled with scree. Past the tumbled house where he used to sleep,

wake, love and weep

with his family. Where are they? The horse’s shoulder drops

as it stumbles.

Oisín hits the peaty soil. His beard, a whiskery ancient measure

of time, three hundred years has passed in Tír na nÓg, and yet

not a moment, it seems.

Now he would give all his youth to watch flower and leaf unfolding,

to be wrinkling, dulled, stooping, deaf, short of breath.

To die in the place he would have lived.

Ireland is chilled and hushed; a sun-sunken cathedral.

The 2021/22 writing competition launch!

Judging is underway for The Canterbury Tales Writing Competition 2020/21: Be Careful What You Wish For! We had our best ever response to the competition and we’ve really enjoyed reading all your poems and stories. The shortlists are now with our judges, and we hope to make an announcement about winners soon.

In the meantime, we are very pleased to launch The Canterbury Tales Writing Competition 2021/22: Prejudice and Difference.

Full details can be found here.

Thank you once again for your participation and support.

The Chaucer Heritage Trust

The 2020/21 Competition is Now Closed

Entry is now closed for The Canterbury Tales Writing Competition 2020/21: Be Careful What You Wish For!

We’ve had our best ever response to a competition and would like to thank all the students who have submitted entries. We cannot wait to read your poems and stories.

We would also like to thank all the guardians, parents, teachers and schools who have supported the competition this year. We know it has been a very challenging time, and we are humbled by your support and grateful for your enthusiasm.

We read every entry carefully, and therefore the judging process is a lengthy one. When we have calculated our winners we will contact winning writers via their schools or, in the event of home schooled students, via their parents or guardians. We will then make an announcement on our website. We hope to be able to do this in the summer term.

Thank you once again, and do monitor our website for announcements concerning our 2021/22 writing competition.

“Be Careful What You Wish For!” Writing Competition – Closing Date Extension

Here at the Chaucer Heritage Trust we know that this has been an especially tough year for schools, students, teachers, and parents. Several of you have got in touch to indicate that students would benefit from a little extra time to prepare their competition entries.

We have therefore made the decision to extend the closing date for “The Canterbury Tales Writing Competition 2020/21: Be Careful What You Wish For!” by one extra month. We hope this will allow more students the time to achieve their best writing and participate in the competition.

The new closing date is midnight on 28 February 2021.

Thank you to everyone for your support. We look forward to reading your stories and poems.

“Be Careful What You Wish For” 2020/21 – some notes from the judges…

Entry is open for our 2020/21 writing competition: Be Careful What You Wish For! We’ve asked our wonderful judges to summarize what they will be looking for in this years entries.

We would like to take this opportunity to formerly welcome to our newest judge, Keren David. Keren began her career in journalism before becoming a writer specializing in young adult fiction. Keren’s books include Lia’s Guide to Winning the Lottery (2011), Not a Love Story (2015), and The Disconnect (2019).

Keren says:

‘I’m looking for stories and poems which demonstrate a love of writing – from the plot and characters, the language used and the form chosen. I want to feel your excitement bounce off the page when I read your words.’ 

We welcome back two-time judge Adam Baron, who is the author of six critically acclaimed novels that have been widely translated across Europe. Adam is an Associate Professor of Creative Writing at Kingston University.

Adam’s first novel for children, Boy Underwater (2018), was Waterstones, Sunday Times, and Mail on Sunday Book of the Month, as well as being the first ever Toppsta Book Club choice. His second novel for children You Won’t Believe This was published in June 2019. 

Adam says:

‘I’ll be looking for writing with vitality and energy, in which pupils really push their dreams to the limit. ‘

Last but by no means least, we are very grateful to welcome back Gail Ashton. Gail has been on our judges panel since our first competition in 2017.

Gail Ashton is a poet, writer, editor, and teacher who has lectured at the universities of Manchester and Birmingham. She has published numerous explorations of medieval literature including a recent analysis of Chaucer’s most famous work entitled Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, for Bloomsbury Publishing. Gail’s recent collections of poetry include The Other Side of the Glass (2012), What Rain Taught Us (2017) and Not the Sky, a memoir (2019).

Gail says:

‘I’m looking for entries that are imaginative and bold.  Go on. Take a risk and show me something a bit different. Just so long as it’s inventive and playful with both language and its ideas.’

Hopes and Dreams Writing Competition is Now Closed

Dear Writers,

The Canterbury Tales Writing Competition 2019/20: Hopes and Dreams is now closed. We’ve had a fantastic response to the competition, and its going to take us a while to sort through so many wonderful entries. Please, keep an eye on our website for updates.

For now, thank you to all the students, teachers, parents and guardians who have been in touch with us, and of course to all the wonderful writers who have submitted entries.

Best wishes,

The Chaucer Heritage Trust

Results of The Canterbury Tales Writing Competition 2018/19: Magic and Trickery

Thank you to everyone who entered The Canterbury Tales Writing Competition 2018/19: Magic and Trickery. We loved reading your poems and stories and we hope that you will enter our new competition, on the theme of Hopes and Dreams. This is now open and you find out more information here.

Over eight hundred young writers entered The Canterbury Tales Writing Competition 2018/19. We were incredibly impressed by the quality of the writing and it was really tough to pick the shortlists.

Huge thanks to the judges Patience Agbabi, Gail Ashton and Adam Baron who chose the final winners – we are really impressed by the results!

So here are the winners…

Ages 5-10

1st Place

Option 2 – A tale involving someone playing a trick.

By Emily age 10

 

Rusty & The Cheese

Once there lived a mouse called Rusty. He was a musty grey colour with fine straight whiskers as pointy as needles.  Rusty was very greedy. Every day he went around stealing others food.  Rusty `s best friend was an owl called Oak.  Oak was very wise owl.  He had big brown eyes, and his wings were a shiny chocolate brown colour.  Oak noticed that Rusty was stealing all the other animal’s food.  Rusty had stolen from the hare, the tortoise, the fox and the rooster.  Oak even found his own food missing, and even though Rusty was his best friend he needed to teach him a lesson.

First, Oak made a big pile of fake cheese out of rocks and yellow paint he had found in the back of his barn, and then he sprayed it with scented cheese smells from the bakery.  Rusty craves cheese.  Next, Oak tied the top of the cheese with string to a branch in the big chestnut tree.  At the top of the branch was a cage, so when Rusty tried to eat the cheese the cage would fall on him.  The cage was made of thick metal bars all overlapping and, was square shaped.

 

Now all Oak needed to do was hide and wait for Rusty to appear.  He flew off to his perch and sat very still and quietly.  After a few minutes he could hear Rusty coming through the long green grass, then out of the bushes he appeared.  Slowly he shuffled towards the aroma of cheese and sniffed the air.  His whiskers twitched with excitement.  He quickly scuttled over to the cheese pile thinking this was going to be his best meal ever.

 

Suddenly, Rusty put one of his legs on the cheese and ‘Bang!’ the trap fell right on top of him with a loud crash.  Oak swooped down silently from his hiding place and told Rusty that he only set the trap to stop him being greedy and, stealing everyone’s food.  Oak was pleased the trap had worked successfully.

 

Rusty was really frightened, he felt so small and pathetic in the huge cage, he tried to squeeze his way of the bars but he was too big and the gaps were too small.  Oak said Rusty could only come out if he apologised to everyone and promised to stop stealing other animal’s food.  Rusty quivered with fear as he didn’t like being in the cage and he was feeling very guilty.  He agreed to do as Oak had said as he didn’t want to be in the cage any longer.  Oak pulled the string up and Rusty was free.

To make sure Rusty did as he was told, Oak picked him up in his mouth and flew him round all the other animal’s houses to say sorry.  They all accepted his apologies and knew their food would be safe from now on.

 

Oak had done his deed and, lived up to his reputation as being the wisest animal in the forest.  Rusty went back to scavenging for food wherever he could find it but not off other animals!

 

2nd Place

Option 1 – A poem or story about someone or something magical.

By Ashira age 8

 

DETENTION TO ADVENTURE

Josh Scragg again was ordered to leave class

For shouting out loud, “Shakespeare is an ass!”

The boy abhorred learning about writers of old,

From Dante to Dahl, they all left him cold.

Dragging his feet, Josh walked to detention

When he saw an unknown man who caught his attention.

“Follow me, young master,” said the figure as he walked

Towards the school chapel which was usually padlocked.

“Who on earth are you?” Josh questioned the man.

“Call me Geoffrey,” he replied with an outstretched hand.

Trusting the stranger, Josh entered the door

Which few people in the school had stepped through before.

The door was enchanted and would only open

For those, for some reason, its magic had chosen.

On the other side of the door that day,

The old streets of London from years ago lay

Curving and turning, protected by stone city walls

And in the distance the sound of bells chiming from a cathedral.

“Come on, matey,” Geoffrey called, “let me take you to the pub.”

Well, that was an offer Josh could not snub!

The malodorous roads they strode in style

Until they reached the Tabard Inn, after a while.

Entering the pub, Josh was knocked off his feet

By the smell of beer, sickly and sweet.

Geoffrey led Josh to a table of guests,

A gaggle of characters who seemed comically dressed:

One in fine armour, one armed with a sword,

Then a lady who liked to “Praise the Lord!”

Many more were chatting around the table

Where they each took turns to tell a fable.

Now, Josh hated books but these tales he loved,

Stories of the bad, the ugly and the good.

Such great company was the merry throng,

Josh did not realise he’d been there so long.

Nearly sundown, Geoffrey announced it was best

For the group to set out on their adventurous quest.

To the city of Canterbury they would go

And visit the shrine which everyone knows.

Geoffrey shouted, “Josh, why don’t you come?!

Get on your horse.  There’s food for your tum!”

Josh replied, “My mum will worry about me.

Besides, she will have made my tea.”

With sadness the two chums would have to part

And to the group Josh bid farewell with a heavy heart.

Josh and Geoffrey galumphed to the enchanted door

Even though they wanted to be acquainted more.

Geoffrey said, “Now you know tales can be fun,

Have a go each day at reading one.”

Josh brought out his phone and took a selfie of them both

And made reading each day his promise, his oath.

He went back to the school via the door

But couldn’t tell anyone what he saw.

Josh kept the pledge, just as he had said,

Each day at least one tale he read.

Very soon, Josh’s most famous author

Was none other than Geoffrey Chaucer.

The Canterbury Tales came alive off the page

Like Josh had been there himself in a bygone age.

 

3rd Place

Option 2 – A tale involving someone playing a trick.

By Dylan age 7

 

The Modern Tale

 

The modern tale begins on a gloomy, dark night that had just done a “you know what” in a dirty pot. Our main character is a woman named Juliet Iron Buns who has a dad who is called Mr. Iron Buns, who is the boss of Toothpaste Inc. Now let’s get on with the story. Now where was I ……oh yes so on that dark, gloomy night Juliet was out with her love, a man called Ronald Rump and they were in a fast food restaurant called the most diabolical name a fast food restaurant could possibly be called…drum roll please …………the name was called “Cheesy Hut”. But the problem of them being in love was that Juliet was already married! That night they weren`t just there to get a double cheesy hut burger special coming with a plastic toy, no they definitely were not, they were there about their sinister plan. “So I’ve got a plan Rumpy my man” said Juliet so suspiciously, that even the waiter thought something fishy was going on. “Alright so this is it. At the tip of dusk, I ask him to give me a kiss and when he does that smoochy thing I fart in his face and it’ll be the stinkiest fart anyone’s ever done and whilst I do that you tell my stupid old dad that a gigantic flood is coming to get him distracted for twenty-eight minutes”. At dusk the plan was hatched. They did it. At that very moment Ronald thought he could do the same. That night he stuck his naked bum out the window, exactly the same as Juliet did but the husband was one step ahead of him. You see, the husband was lucky enough to go to cheesy hut the night before them and buy a £5 red hot chilli pepper just in case he ever needed it. At that very moment, when Ronald was about to fart, the husband stuck the red-hot chilli pepper up his bum. Instantly, he yelled for some water to soothe his almost burnt botty, and the dad thought the flood was coming, so he crashed down the stairs in the bathtub like a random, interfering idiot. Whilst he was in the bathtub the tap was still on and it caused a flood. The end.

 

Highly commended

Option 2 – A tale involving someone playing a trick.

By Denis age 10

 

Jacob’s Magical Stone

 

As we continued on with our journey to Canterbury it became the Taylor’s turn to tell his tale.

 

So he began…

-::::-

 

Long ago my friend Jacob was grazing the landlord’s cattle in a field when he realised he was very hungry. Thus, he went to the nearby woods and picked up some fallen branches for the fire to cook few grains he had in his pocket. However, this forest belonged to a greedy landlord who put a ban on taking any wood from the forest. But the feeling of hunger overcame the fear of being caught. So, he went to light a fire. He took some water from the stream and started cooking the grains in his pot. After few minutes he put a stone on the fire so it could keep the porridge warm.

 

Suddenly, he realised the Landlord was passing through the forest in his lavish clothes and golden carriage. He quickly picked up the hot stone with the coat he was wearing and ran off to a different place in the woods away from the fireplace and carried on cooking his meal.

 

Unfortunately, the landlord had made a turn towards Jacob and curiously peered into what he was doing.

 

“Oi, peasant”, he said, “what is it that ye are doing there?”

 

“Nothing but cooking my porridge on my magical stone.” Jacob replied smugly. “All I need to do is to say: 1- 2- 3, warm my food for me! And the magic does its work with no coal or wood.”

 

At first, the landlord didn’t believe a soul of what Jacob said, and looked around to find any traces of a fireplace. Then he reached to feel the stone and realised it was actually hot.

 

“I’ll buy it for 100 gold Guineas!” he exclaimed.

 

But Jacob knew that he could get twice more out of this foolish landlord and negotiated 200 for his rock!

 

When the landlord came home he told his wife that they wouldn’t need to use coal or wood to cook their food anymore. He placed the rock on the table and tapped it with a stick and sang the tune: it didn’t work, he tried harder and harder until he took a mallet and smashed the rock in half.

 

Bursting with fury, the landlord stormed back to find Jacob who had already spent all his easily earned gold Guineas on sheep, goats, cows, a horse, shoes, and lots and lots of delicious food for his family. Therefore, when he commanded to get a refund Jacob told him:

 

“I would give you a refund but because you broke the magic stone it’s no use to both of us.”

 

So he walked off with his head down knowing that he had spent 200 gold Guineas on a simple rock.

-::::-

 

“This is a very cunning tale, Mr Taylor! Thank you for sharing it with us!” I replied as he finished the story.

 

“Well, who wants to go next?!” I asked…

 

 

Ages 11-15

1st Place

Option 1 – A poem or story about someone or something magical.

By Sudiksha age 13

 

Tempting Time, and Mystical Magic

200 years in the world, and I have yet to come across the reason for human ignorance. Well, my darling sister says that it is because I hardly ever ‘get out’ and interact with the co-existing race, but I like to think it is because of the wild and limitlessness of human imagination, that sometimes surpasses the real capabilities of us wizard-kind. (Also possibly because of a book I recently read, one which is immensely popular among humans. It sounded something like… Henry, was it? No… Ah, it was Harry Potter.)

At least their present impression of us is much better than it was around a century ago. Around that time, it was impossible to ever admit you were a Warlock, because the term often referred to an evil-doing sinful person. I, myself, once came across such an incident. I sometimes wonder why such a simple incident had such a huge impact on me and stayed with me through the century. Maybe because of the compassion it taught me, or possibly because the great friend I made because of the encounter.

It was a clear night… Or was it a cloudy one? Forgive my memory, it is unfortunately not one of the things that differentiate us from humans, and with 200 years to remember, I find it to be quite a disadvantage. Being a wizard of time, I hardly ever remember it as it passes. I advise those who I meet to do the same, as the true beauty of time is how quickly it passes, and unless you learn how to forget what is gone, you will never cherish what remains.

Back to the clear night. I was walking in a forest, more like looking out for my next prey. The next person who would succumb to greed, and then realise his mistake too late. It was a fun job most of the time, quite entertaining if you could ignore how bad you felt when every single human succumbed to greed. Ah, good times…

As I was saying, in the clear night, I spotted a young man. He was dressed like a soldier, but one which had come back from a truly devastating war. I was vaguely aware of the war so many humans were losing their lives for, I knew this because of my dear friend- a Wizard of death. His job had become really tiring around then, he almost always made sure to remind me how much he envied my job, and we laughed. That reminds me, I haven’t really spoken for a long time. Oh well, I’ll send him a letter so we can meet up.

The soldier looked extremely disembodied, and could hardly walk. I smiled as I realised what I could offer him. I predicted how long it would take for this young lad to succumb to the pleasures I could provide as I walked towards the soldier, who stopped once he noticed me approaching.

“Young lad,” I said putting on my usual façade, which dripped of sympathy and pity, “You seem quite err…  broken. Must you keep living like this?”

The boy laughed, “I feel quite proud of these scars, sir. They remind me of the great service I have done to my land.”

I was not shaken, almost all of them tried to act noble at first.

“I understand, but it’s quite sad that a capable young boy like you lives in such a pitiful state.” The boy laughed again, this time making me raise my century-old eyebrows.

“Is it? I have never felt pitiful nor capable, actually.” I faked my laughter, starting to get slightly annoyed at this point.

“Of course, wouldn’t it be nice to turn the clock back to when your body was in better shape.” I said trying much harder than before. This time the boy though for some time before answering, I smiled inside as he thought, knowing that I had won.

“I’m not sure, but I suppose going back in time wouldn’t be all that bad…” This was my cue, I took it and revealed my true glowing form. (Sometimes the shine really hurt my own eyes, but it always put on a good show.)

“Behold, human! I am the great Wizard of Time. I can grant you your wish, and take you back to a time your body was much healthier, but be warned, Time takes just as much as it gives, be ready to sacrifice once you accept. Do you accept, Do you want your ultimate wish to be granted?”

The boy seemed lost and in a daze for a while, before he answered,

“I am honoured to witness this miracle, but unfortunately I have no desire to be blessed by you, sir.” I was taken aback, at his bluntness, his nobleness and the fact that he was still calm, “Though it would be wonderful to get my young and youthful body back, I do prefer to keep my experiences of war. Please forgive my disrespect.”

I was somehow proud of the boy. I promised myself that time would be good to the lad as he was one of the few who understood the true treasures of time.

Before I could congratulate the boy for declining my offer, the boy started laughing once again. His laughter echoing through formerly silent forest. A sudden blinding light made me cover my eyes, and once I could open them the boy had disappeared.

Just as I gained control of my senses, a loud, yet appealing voice sounded through the forest, “You, fellow Wizard, have been caught in my trap. I am the wondrous Wizard of illusion. Is a noble human your innermost desire? I show you only what you want to see, dear brother, but what you want isn’t always what you get.”

The voice faded as my inner organs settled in from the turmoil.

From this encounter I learned something, something I probably always knew, but as the Wizard of time refused to believe until then. The daring and noble boy, was a bit from my imagination that was supported by my brother’s magic. And maybe what he said was right. A noble human is just an illusion, and we, as Wizards, ought to keep reminding ourselves of that.

 

2nd Place

Option 1 – A poem or story about someone or something magical.

By Noah age 12

 

The happy couple stand hand in hand gazing across the lake with the gentle water stroking their ankles. The autumn sun glimpses over the lush valley, casting golden threads across the water. His hands, muddy from the effort of planting the acorn, rest protectively on her belly.

Spring comes and as the first shoots emerge from the ground of that planted acorn, the same woman cradles her new born son.

At the tender age of seven, the boy goes to the lake to swim with his family. Bored, he begins to swing on the young oak tree next to the lake. The youthful branch can’t hold his weight and it snaps. The child falls to the ground cradling a broken arm as he looks up at the newly fractured branch.

He’s now a young teenager in the depth of winter. The majestic tree stands frozen in the snow. The boy stays inside, cocooned in blankets but unable to shake the cold. The doctors have no answers, but he knows.

At 20, the young man travels around the world, seeking answers to his strange connection. He is oblivious to the storm back at home that floods the lake. He shoots out of bed, coughing up water and then cries himself back to sleep worrying about his tree.

He finds love at 35 and from that love comes a child, then another, and a third. Under his proud, strong oak grows new saplings from the fallen acorns. A brother and two sisters play in the abundance of grass surrounding the tree as the man watches over the precious saplings. One evening, his children return home to bed in the arms of their loving father but only two wake up the following morning. In his grief and despair the man runs to the tree to find one sapling missing, stolen by careless, but unknowing, saboteurs.

The tree grows older and as the years pass, the man mourns over the death of his youngest girl. He keeps an obsessive vigil over his tree to protect the two remaining saplings.

He’s fifty now. It is autumn and as the sky grows melancholy and cries gentle rain, he finds himself ill. He goes straight to his tree and sees it is diseased. Fearful that the disease will spread to the precious two young trees growing under its bows he campaigns for his faithful oak to be felled. He knows this will bring about his end, but will save his beloved children. It is with both joy and sadness that he learns of the date that his tree will be cut down.

Winter comes and as the date edges closer, so does his end. In his final days he gathers his family around him. He says his goodbyes and expresses his love to each of them. Knowing they are safe, he is content. With the touch of the bulldozer, he draws his final breath and falls asleep.

 

3rd Place

Option 1 – A poem or story about someone or something magical.

By Megan age 12

 

LIVE LIKE THE MOST STYLISH CELEBS TODAY

THE VIRTUAL GENIE IS HERE TO STAY!

I’m a virtual genie, one of a kind,

I am at your service, (if you don’t mind),

Subscribe to my YouTube channel. Also,

Please Comment your desire down below,

Fatter or thinner, taller or smaller,

Maybe you fancy a nice roast dinner.

To your hearts content you’ll receive wishes,

Relax a bit; no more washing dishes!

I hope that you feel inclined to subscribe,

See you soon! Terms and conditions apply…

 

Terms and conditions

 

Of course, it comes at a minimal fee,

One hundred pounds per wish, practically free,

With an extra cost for each that comes true

One thousand pounds, the price is fixed like glue.

It will not go down and will not go up,

If you want it to change, well tough, hard luck!

But don’t you worry! You won’t even know!

There is no warning, your money just goes.

When you click ‘subscribe’, although hidden well,

You legally agree to let me sell.

Because of this writing in such tiny print

I can scam you all, I can make you think,

That this whole joke is free and free to all!

Yet, I’m not breaking any rules at all.

A pity I know, but anyway!

At least the Ts and Cs are shown this way,

So that, if you can be bothered to read,

You won’t be falling for my trickery.

So bravo! Well done! If you’ve got this far,

Most of them don’t even scrutinize half.

They are forced to sleep, caused by apathy,

And then they forget to finish the read.

So next time you think you have scored a goal,

Read the small print, to see what it unfolds.

It might be an unneeded waste of space,

But it’s always good to be sure you’re safe.

 

 

Highly commended

Option 2 – A tale involving someone playing a trick.

By Greg age 12

 

Once upon a time , in a far off land, there lived a dragon: Baak. He was not just any dragon, though, he was the biggest, the strongest, the most powerful dragon that was still alive at the time. His blood-red scales shimmered like dying embers; his eyes were like two giant rubies with thin black slits, darting around like a cats, looking for prey. His scalding breath was as hot as molten lava and his ivory teeth and talons were as sharp as swords. Baak lived in a cave at the base of a huge mountain; he would eat anything that came close. He guarded it with great care, for it contained his spoils of war: gold. He would attack towns and bring all of their gold and jewels back to his cave. Among all of these riches there was one odd thing. A wooden goblet. It could make the drinker immortal – or so the legends said.

 

One day, a traveller arrived at the entrance to the cave, in the hope of making a deal with Baak. His name was Seamus Dagger. He had a crooked, skinny nose and long, matted hair. He was tall and thin, wore scruffy clothes and always carried a smooth, patterned stick. There was a round, red scar on his slender, bony hands. It was a puffy, blistered brand mark. If you were to look closely, you would see that it read “THIEF” in the very center.

 

“Oh great dragon, Baak!” Dagger bellowed, “I am here to strike a bargain with you. I am but a mere peasant, but I wish to earn some of your gold!”

Baak raised his head, jutting his neck out, and roared in anger. He then sent a stream of flame towards Dagger, who quickly dodged to the side.

“You are not worthy of my treasure. The only way I would ever give you some my treasure is if you could… make the moon eat the sun. Ha! That’s so ridiculous that if you could do that I’d give you all of my treasure!”

“DEAL!”

 

Dagger waited weeks for the right conditions, the weeks added up to months and the months added up to years. Finally, two years later, after watching night after night of stars in the sky, he knew that the time was right. It was time to fulfill his deal with Baak.

 

“Baak, I have returned! I have acquired the power to make the moon eat the sun and I am here to show you!”

“Ha ha! Very amusing, little human!”

“Behold my power!” exclaimed Dagger as he raised his arms and the moon began to rise in broad daylight behind him. It slowly rose up to the sun and then began to bite into it. The moon carried on going until it had completely swallowed the sun.

“How? How did you-”

“I believe that is my end of the deal completed. Now, where is my treasure?” Dagger said with a sly smile…

 

Ages 16-19

1st Place

Option 1 – A poem or story about someone or something magical.

By Amélie age 16

 

mama,

mama who smells of white sage,

mama whose quicksilver fingers bridge

the gap between the lace and the lack.

 

mama,

mama who sways in her bedclothes,

mama who teaches the eclipse how to dance the pavane,

fingertips brushing beneath humid night.

 

mama,

mama whose first love was silence,

mama who coyly winks at the space between words,

parchment capillaries flooded with ink.

 

mama,

mama who swallows the soft,

mama whose veins heave with wonder,

peter pan bruises blemishing skin.

 

mama,

mama who soaks in her truth,

mama whose serpentine tongue spells out

verdant prayers to desperate ears.

 

mama,

mama who wreaks gentle havoc,

mama who grinds jasmine with mortar and pestle,

floral tissue lining granite wombs.

 

mama,

mama whose sun anoints feet,

mama whose moon bears the water

that moistens sacrilegious lips.

 

mama,

mama who devours venus-stone,

mama who spits out a heart: throbbing, pulsing;

bleeding secrets into virgin mouths.

 

mama,

mama who escaped the temple,

mama who spits on your eucharist, the blood of christ

staining her weathered hands.

 

mama,

mama who bathes in limbo,

mama who waits for the water to reach her lungs too,

for the salt to erode away the ache.

 

daughter,

daughter who lies under bone-light,

daughter who fills up with cavities when mama’s asleep,

mama who stays up all night.

 

2nd Place

Option 1 – A poem or story about someone or something magical.

By Nell age 16

 

The European Theatre

Based on the true story of Captain Jack Tueller.

 

Orchestras are touring Europe. Band members, recruited for their ability to kill, perform in the most esteemed of trenches. The overture begins with bullets, each rhythmic beat snatching a life. Shells scream into soprano, serenading the fallen, and eruptions conclude, bellowing through death’s dissonance. Conductors cocooned miles away sit plump at mahogany tables, devising more destruction; composing the song of war.

 

Jack’s favoured instrument was not a gun. Swaddled like a newborn, strapped to the seams of his parachute, lay a humble trumpet. Companion to countless flights across a world at war, in times of need the trumpet opened its lungs and roared, soothing the minds of troubled soldiers and keeping bullets at bay from Jack’s plane. Remarkably pristine in such a dirty world, its music held a magic that only Jack could tame.

 

One particular night, lonely in an apple orchard hidden within the folds of rural Normandy, Jack and his trumpet yearned to play. Terror bled through the unit, yet one enemy sniper remained; a risk deemed unworthy even for the relief Jack’s trumpet could bring. “It’s your funeral”, he was told. Aching to cure the tormenting silence, and with no better alternative, Jack pursed his lips, the trumpet smiled and readied itself. And they plunged, Lili Marlene crooning to the night, lulling the leaves and hushing wizened trees. Crescendos spiralled from the orchard, fingers of song waltzing with winter’s air, caressing the cheek, wiping the tear of a mere boy just meters away. Trumpet breathless and all stresses shooed, the music stopped. Not a shot rang out.

 

Night departed through a curtain of rain. When morning came, the air fell dead and life stood still. The truth of war an incomprehensible dream. Growls of a Jeep announced the harsh arrival of reality. A military policeman slid from the passenger seat, standing stock. “Who played that trumpet last night?”Jack glanced at his instrument, a sliver of light making it wink. “I did”. The yank beckoned to his vehicle, apparent Jack was to follow.

 

The boy was just 19. Prisoner behind barbed wire on Omaha beach, the German sniper’s eyes were wide, flitting over each face he’d been taught to hate, finally settling on Jack, whose trumpet gleamed in hand. It appeared alien in such a place.

 

Through tears, knees sinking into sand, the enemy began to sing. Lili Marlene, beautiful and haunting. “Unsere beide Schatten, sah’n wie einer aus”. The kid’s own love song. “I couldn’t fire last night”, he said through cracked mother tongue. “You played me the song my fiancée in Germany loved. I thought of my family, and couldn’t face hurting yours”. For a moment, war was meaningless. Tentatively, a hand reached past barbed wire. An offering of peace, an unspoken understanding. Jack shook the hand of the enemy. He was no enemy. They were just two boys, doing what they were told. United, fleetingly, by the magic of music.

 

3rd Place

Option 3 – A description of a magical place.

By Penny age 16

 

A Delve into the Woods

 

“Don’t go into the forest!” Daphne’s parents would say, just as their parents and forebears had.  In their lore, little ones went into the woods and never returned.  Still the soothing whispers of the trees and reassuring presence of their strong trunks enticed Daphne.  Her curious heart yearned to uncover the woods’ mysteries.  While a guiding sense of safety would tug her away from the woods’ luring lushness, on occasion, Daphne would venture there, unnoticed.

As Daphne escaped to the woods, she recalled learning the art of becoming a shadow — walking silent and hidden.  Her grandmother had taught her.  A remarkable and formidable woman bond strongly to nature, she did not fear the icy grasp of winding branches.  She did not let myths and rumors taint her love for the woods.  She had said that trees had souls and noble ones, for they would surrender their lives so that others could enjoy their capacity for a house or fire.  Grandma had told Daphne that she never wanted to break her connection with the woods, even in death.  Perhaps she lives as a tree spirit of myth:  a dryad.

Walking below the eerie forest canopy, Daphne relished the silence.  She responded to the quiet whispers of the trees and watched the shadows dance through the night.  Stars blinked through holes in the canopy like tiny diamonds, and she reached to grab them unsuccessfully.

She walked for hours until she was deep in the woods and could no longer see the sky above.  When she turned for home she realized that she didn’t know the way.  She wandered for hours more. The cold tore at her skin and left her exhausted and famished, and she collapsed to the ground in a heap.

Daphne slowly cracked her eyes to the sound of her name.  She sat up slowly, and as her vision adjusted, she found a strange creature as green as envy and bearing sharp elfish features.  A mischievous grin danced across his lips, and his eyes glowered with devilish desire.  Daphne recognized him for a goblin.

She asked what he wanted from her or rather tried.  From her throat, dryer than a carpet of long lost leaves, no words issued.  As she croaked, the goblin replied, “Daphne, you are out of time, but I can give you more.  You either live on like your grandmother or accept your fate.”

Daphne’s thoughts tumbled in wild exhaustion and fear.   As she chose, her life faded.  She left her old body and embraced new light.  The goblin still wore the same malicious grin.

Later Daphne’s father walked the woods in search of his wayward daughter.  He found nothing except haunting trees.  As he later came to a clearing, he found standing at its center a lonesome laurel whose leaves spoke in the whispers of a little girl.