Vision Supply Agency were delighted with the entries received for their competition during World Book Day. The entries were so well written that two prizes were won by our children. First prize went to Madeleine Wood (7/3SK) whose entry ‘Doves and Ravens’ is included in the World Book Day Champions 2017 book and second prize went to Anna Richardson (7/3CT) for her entry ‘The Forest’.
Doves and Ravens
The sun rises. Morning floods the streets; it catches in the alleyways and illuminates the toll-gate. But the sun doesn’t touch us. The tarpaulins and grey waterproofs hung from roof to roof make sure of that. We hide in the shadows like moles, like blind worms. I like to watch people watch the sunrise. I am too scared to watch it myself, scared that they will see me, and end my life, or take me to another.
The toll gate swarms with people, an anthill of transport. It is the only way to cross the fence, the intimidating boundary of metal links, stretching as far as the eye can see. But it is no creation of strength, no major defence. When I was nine, I witnessed a man attempt to cut through the fence. A woman from the other side had offended him, verbally struck him, and when he tried to strike her back he found himself blocked by the fence. Enraged, he picked up a pair of simple shears, and set about cutting through the fence. It took him little under ten minutes to make himself a doorway. By that time the Guard was informed, and a tide of white clad officials was upon him. The other people, the people in the town of white houses and polished manners, applauded. They wear short, clean-cut dresses and elegant lacy shirts, flaunting their elegant bodies. I glance down at my own hand. It is elegant, but the likeness stops there. My skin is mottled with scarlet and ebony. I cannot wash them off (believe me, I have tried). Now and for always, I will bear them. They mark me as a raven, and because they are not marked, they are doves.
I stand in the market place. It heaves and throbs, bucking and swaying like a wild animal. The majority of the crowd is ravens, but here and there stands a dove. I slip through the crowds unnoticed, a phantom, an enigma. Under the tarpaulin, heavy with rainwater, the air is dank and musty, crowded with bodies and food. I am barely there. I am small, not lithe, not slender none of those elegant, catlike words. I am just small. Suddenly I hear raised voices, I make towards them, but a wall of bodies blocks my way. I peer over a gaunt man’s shoulder, and see a masked official standing between a shapely dove woman and a malnourished raven boy. The boy cowers as the official speaks to him in menacing, oiled tones. Soon I understand what has happened. There was a misunderstanding, and the boy’s freedom will be won if the apple is found, the same apple that is touching my foot. I stoop and pick it up. “Clearly,” purred the official “there is no apple”. In that moment I decide. I step through the crowd and raise the apple. “I beg to differ” I whisper.
The forest – it was like a two-faced monster. When walking through it, you knew immediately the mood it was in.
During the day, it was a walking spot for doting young couples, who bonded over the smell of tall, emerald grass. The cinnamon-coloured trees waved their long, curled fingers welcomingly to any nearby walkers. The copper-tinged pinecones crunched underfoot, their tart smell being released into the woodland air. The outskirts of the place were perfectly enjoyable, but the best was yet to come …
The centre of the forest was an animal paradise. Squirrels scampered from tree to tree; birds sung majestic rejoices from the treetops; beetles and bugs scuttled in mosaic-like patterns in shades of shining ebony and hazel. The sun happily overlooked the wonderland and gave off light and warmth to them all. The sweet-smelling wild flowers gave off an enticing scent that welcomed each and every one of the woodland animals. But the best thing of all was the pond; waterlilies floated along under the marshmallow clouds, white and gold fish swam amongst the reeds, the cool, clean, sky-blue water glinted in the sun’s fiery blaze.
The sunset was a deep contrast of crimson and amber. It approached inconspicuously, creeping slowly down the horizon. The dusk engulfed the sapphire sky, only to replace it with jet-black dystopia, ruled by the sun’s brother.
The moon sneered and snarled at the forest. He made the couples’ love turn to hate – this happened under the midnight-black cloak of the night. The pinecones were coated with a carpet of gunge-coloured moss and mould. The wild-flowers still enticed those present, but beckoning them to their certain doom. The once-welcoming fingers of the trees rose and fell whilst trying to snatch the animals from the undergrowth.
Deep in the forest, the animal paradise had vanished. The squirrels quivered in the tree trunks; the birds huddled nervously in their nests with their mouths clamped shut so as not to be heard; the gleaming shells of the beetles and bugs had turned to murky, dirty shades of sepia. Worst of all, the pond was stained with the depressing paint of the night. The waterlilies sunk or drifted ashore to decompose; the white and gold fish swam under the rocks to hide; the pond, with its once-blue water, was just a hole in the ground filled with the tears of the night.