November 2019

Year 11 creative writing

Students in Year 11 were tasked with some creative writing in a recent assessment, which involved them responding to an image stimulus or writing a story with the title 'The Hardest Goodbye'.

Laura Aldridge, Progress Leader for English, commented: 'Some of the responses the students created were genuinely moving and emotional, demonstrating not only an impressive grasp of their English skills, but also a maturity and sensitivity we perhaps do not expect in young people.

Teachers in the English department were asked to compile a small collection of some of the best examples of this, and we have published them here for you to read and enjoy.' 

The below image was used as a stimulus for some of the pieces that follow.

As the last train docked into the station, the remaining soldiers received their final moments to cling on to what little they had left.

A tall soldier tightly gripped onto his girlfriend. They were supposed to start a family together. Live on until their knees became weak and their bones became brittle. They were supposed to die the way nature wanted them to, not by the hand of the devil. As she tightly wrapped her shaking hands around his broad neck, Betty lightly whispered, “Don’t go.”

As the words echoed through his head, he pulled her in so hard, it was as if Cupid himself lifted her unstable feet off the ground. It was like time itself stopped for the two lovers to capture this moment forever; though she knew that was a fake reality. A bright crystal slowly trickled down Betty’s sorrowful face as her hopes and dreams were soon to be destroyed.

As the minutes passed by the insignificant soldiers, the colonel was required to signal the train’s departure. But he couldn’t. It was as if his cotton tunic had somehow been encased in cement, denying him the ability to move. Instead, he just decided to stay; watch these men enjoy their remaining moments before they were sent off to their burial place.

Moments before the train was due to set off, a large puff of thick odour was emitted from the chimney. It was time. As all the soldiers were ordered to re-enter the hearse-like train, a wave of uncertainty swiftly brushed over the fearful crowd.

Brady Allenby

As I was lifted up, I whispered into Edward’s ear “I will miss you.”

He hugged me as tightly as possible, almost as tight as a mother holding her new born for the first time. I imagined him dragging my body into the train, but he never did. I wished. But it didn’t come true, unfortunately. 

The person next to us was shouting, “I’ll see you soon!”

Before putting me back down onto the smooth surface, he kissed my cheeks. He was so gentle with me.

Placing me down, I hit my knee on the rough black train. I was OK though. The train had little black circles on it. 

Instantly, I heard Edward say to me, “I’ll be home soon, Isabelle, I promise.” He pulled the dirty window down. I think it was so I couldn’t see him crying. He smiled at me, so I smiled back.

All the other beautiful females came down to the ground as well. It was hard saying goodbye for all of us. We all knew there was a chance they wouldn’t come back. But we didn’t want to think of that. We thought of the glorious memories we had with the boys. For me, my favourite memory of Edward was when we first met.

It was time. We had to say the hardest goodbye to the person we loved. The train was leaving. We all waved goodbye. The hardest part of it all was when they let us go and we couldn’t see them any more. From behind the train, we could see their hands slowly moving back into the train. We huddled together like penguins. But it wasn’t because we were cold. It was because we already missed them so much.

Twice a week, we wrote to each other. Every day, I read through the long letters. I kept them safe. I became like a dragon, keeping gold safe as though it was theirs. Well, I kept those letters safe for as long as possible.

Ellie Robson

Waiting there in great fear, I look at him again and again, trying to remember every last detail of him. We get closer. My heart starts to beat a lot faster than it was 10 seconds ago. Goosebumps shiver sharply down me as if it were the last time I’d see him. I hug and kiss him and hug him again with both joy and sadness. I only have two minutes left. I look in his eyes, his deep blue eyes, wishing and praying I’ll see them again.

The whistle blows, my heart drops and I give him one final big hug to show I’ll be waiting for him on the other side. He turns around, picks up his bag and walks onto the train. I can feel the tear rolling down my face. I’m trying to keep my tears back, but they are too strong for me, so I burst out crying. All I can think is, I miss him already.

I wipe away my tears and the blurriness is still upon my eyes, but I see a figure in the window and it’s him. The joy that jumped out of my skin: I got to see him and touch him one final time. He reaches over and suffocates me with the tightness of his hug.

Still holding on, not wanting to let go, I hear the whistle one final time. I know this is it now, but I start again. The tears come quicker than ever and I know these will be harder to wipe away.

With a gust of steam and smoke, the train moves forward. I walk with the train, gazing into the deepness of his eyes. I feel myself jogging. I need him back with me already. I have to stop and let him go.

Still looking at each other, he blows me a kiss. I catch it and I know that’s the last thing I’ll get off him.

Lloyd Ainley

Today was the day. Thousands of men were getting ready to say goodbye to their loved ones and be sent to fight against the Germans. They were dressed in their finest suits and carried alongside them brown and black suitcases and briefcases, filled with their newly ironed uniforms. This would be the hardest goodbye.

I sat gloomily next to James. I hoped he wouldn’t go. Anxiety built up in my chest, making my heart pound upon my ribcage like an aggressive animal. It made me feel nauseous. 

I stared at the train’s windows. Hundreds of sad faces peered out the hundreds of handkerchiefs waving in the air like surrender flags.

I turned to James, pressing my face into his newly pressed shirt. It smelt of tobacco and hazelnuts. More people had started to approach the train, climbing on it like they were children. Women reached up to their husbands and were clasping their limp arms around their necks. Maybe they were feeling the same pit-sinking feeling that I was.

I dropped my head and placed it between my hands. Flashbacks had started popping into my head of all my memories with James. Was this the last time I would see him?

A man walked carefully down the train’s steps, as though they were mountains, and stopped at the entrance. He blew a whistle. I knew what that meant.  James rose from the case on which he had been sitting and stretched. He looked down on me as if he were a giant. I rose too, smoothing down my dress. I picked up his belongings and walked. Silence had filled my ears and I had become completely numb.

We stopped. James turned and stared at me with his hazel eyes. This was the last time I would see him until the war was over. I didn’t want him to leave. He pulled me into a bear hug. Inhaling his aroma, I pushed him away. 

“Go,” I said in his ear. He gripped my hand and walked to the metal monster.

I followed his build through the window until he found a seat. Another whistle had blown and the train began to pull away. Cries and agonising screams woke me up from my trance and the train was speeding away. I waved goodbye for the last time. This was my hardest goodbye.

Alex Fischer-Burke

It came to the cold, dull morning I was dreading; the day I left for war. I wrapped myself in the duvet once more. I looked out the window, seeing the other lads on the street slowly trawling out their houses to jump on the dark green wagon. Their bags packed along with their faces of worry. I said goodbye to my mother with a long hug, knowing it might be the last time; this was the hardest goodbye.

Eventually, we all set off, looking out the back to the women waving us off, each of us looking terrified under the brave smiles we put on. It came to feel like a very long journey dozing off, but the hard, splintered, wooden bench below me kept me awake, bump after bump. 

I knew the lads in the truck, but not much. So we all got to know each other while we could. I felt very small sinking into the bench as we pulled up like livestock going to a slaughterhouse.

We gathered out of the truck, into groups on arrival in Northern France. I looked down, seeing the base set up they call the HQ, an old farm house, half blown up. There were men lying on stretchers, just alive enough to see their ghosts go home without them. The smell was awful, almost like death crawling up your nose, not to mention the noise of screaming men and the gun fire in the distance. It was a nightmare come true.

We were lead down a trench a foot deep in wet, sloppy mud, towards our home for a while; after a long walk, we came to men being stretchered out of the spot. Rats shared our new home too. The trench was deep, cold and wet. The odd gunshot flying over my head had me trembling. The officer remarked, “Keep your bloody head down.”

Disaster! It really was. We sat up, day after day, sometimes moving along a trench. It was getting awful; my feet were cold and wet and starting to be in pain.  Just the same as every other man in the trench. The smells of death and smoke were getting worse.

We heard it was our time soon, when the mighty whistle would be blown and the ladders would be thrown to the side of the trench and we’d run for our lives.  We sat there, returning fire now and again.

It was the next morning. We’d managed a little bit of sleep for the first time. Puddles were starting to freeze over, and we woke to a slight chill in the air. It was weirdly silent, and there was not a bird in the sky to sing.

All of a sudden, the whistle was blown from the trench in front. The silence was filled as the air had its stomach blown out, pierced by every bullet. Bombs exploded comfortably in the dreaded no man’s land, where the lads in front run. I peeked over to see what was happening; they fell, one after the other, like dominoes. It took the breath out of my lungs.

It has come to our day to advance further into enemy lines. We all get ready to run. My knees have been shaking since the beginning of the day, to what could be the end of my last day. The ladders are put onto the side of the trench. We stand proud and full of hope to make it across. The crooked ladder is staring at me, as if it is saying ‘don’t go’, but I have no other option. The whistle will blow soon.

Declan Harman-Bevan

Four minutes till the train smokes and whistles.

My love is being sent away from our rural home. The streets were thick with worry and nervousness, but that didn’t stop them from getting their last touch of comfort.

Four minutes till the train smokes and whistles.

As I clicked my boots onto the platform, through the crooked archway, I grabbed a stone hand and looked away. It was as if not looking at him wouldn’t make it true. If you can’t see it, it’s not happening.

Four minutes till the train smokes and whistles.

Time wouldn’t speak, nor the truth or reality reveal itself. We were like chess pieces on a dusty chequered board and time was our master. While we motioned, time stood still.

Four minutes till the train smokes and whistles.

My love dragged me across the cemented platform, out into the open. He paused, giving me a moment to stare into the abyss of freshly trampled dirt and trees sorrowfully dancing with the wind.

He turned around.

Four minutes till the train smokes and whistles.

His deep brown eyes blended with his black suit and black tie. He spoke no words. As if they would come out sharpened by a knife. So instead, he held me. And all I could think of was the red train, dusted and cramped, wheels at the ready with passengers on board, prepared to take what’s mine away.

Three minutes until the train smokes and whistles.

It appeared time had made his move, as my love pulled away and announced “I love you.” I wished he had said it any other time but now. He kissed me on the head, grabbed his old brown leather bag and turned away.

Two minutes till the train smokes and whistles.

I panicked. Everything was going too fast.  He was approaching the creaking train and about to board.

One minute till the train smokes and whistles.

Now I was afraid. I wanted to drag him back, I wanted him to hold me. But I knew I could and he couldn’t. Eventually, he was the last to board. The platform was a ghost town; the air became thin. I couldn’t breathe. He began to walk up the steps to the train, not looking back. 

3…2…1… “I love you too.”

Catherine Greenhalgh