Fish on the Car's Roof Winner of SJE Creative Writing Competition
"They all stopped dead at the sight of a fish on the car’s roof.” My grandma paused, mid spiel, her mind wandering back to the memory. Catching herself after a moment, she continues her patter. “They all stopped dead, and completely ignored the pie all over my father’s face!!” She chuckles, gazing out to her audience, lost in her world of make believe and memory. For her, the two are hard to distinguish between.
We all sit in a circle in the small musty flat of my elderly grandmother, the faint scent of pine needles wafting from somewhere; seeming exotic in her enclosed London. Despite its location in a retirement home in the centre of a gloomy suburb, the sunlight radiates brightly in the room, exposing the floating grains of dust gracefully gliding through the air.
Three generations of family sit facing my grandmother, surrounding a small oak table on which rests a purple biscuit tin. It lays full, its contents neatly arranged in the compartments for the different shapes and flavours; waiting for someone to take one, but everyone is too entranced from the stories that are flowing from the speaker. Feeding their brains and not their stomachs, they ignore the snacks positioned just out of arms reach, listening intently on my aging ancestor.
Recounting memories of her youth and adolescence, my grandma embraces us all with her stories; this is one of the few times most of the family clan are together. Despite her slow but steady pace, apt descriptions, and seemingly infallible memory; I can sense her mortality, and can see how time is taking its toll.
She continues, telling us about the time her brother took the expression ‘like nailing jelly to a tree’ literally, with messy results. She brings up the story of when she moved to the country side, when her home was at peril in the war. Childhood trips to Africa, France, and India are relayed to us. We laugh and cry as one, as my father’s mother transports us in time.
Concluding her stories, we all attempt to stand up, moving from the positions we’ve been sitting in for the last hour or so. Chairs creak and floorboards squeak, as everyone forces themselves upright. The room fills with an orange glow as the afternoon sun is dyed through the smog and pollution. As we all say our good byes, and leave one by one, my grandmother’s smile slowly fades with each exiting family.
As the door finally closes, silence fills the room. Shuffling over towards the window, she positions herself in an armchair, and nestles down. The silence is broken by the noise of engines, as trains arrive at the station below her. Smiling over the collection of seemingly miniature locomotives, my grandmother is filled with glee, as her imagination transports her back to her youth.
Year 12 Benedict
Victim of a Storm
Trees swayed over my head,
And cast their leaves around,
Until they gave up their gentle grasp,
And floated down to the ground,
Once they’d settled down once more,
A breeze scooped them up again,
The breeze was followed by growling thunder,
And then finally came the rain,
I quickly sheltered under a tree,
The very wrong thing to do,
The fact about sheltering under trees in storms,
Is very, very true,
The lightning bolts came closer and closer,
Until I could feel their heat,
I suddenly panicked and dashed around,
On my tired and soaking feet,
The thing I fearing most of all happened,
I slipped up in the mud,
And a lightning bolt hit me right in the chest,
With a strangely, sickening ‘Thud’,
‘Oh why? Why? WHY?’ did I set off?
On this foolish endeavour,
And no one will be there to comfort me,
When I close my eyes forever
By Kayla Groombridge
STOLEN by Kayla Groombridge
A gasp escapes my mouth, hours of shallow breathing, not blinking and holding my position has taken its toll on my body. Everything aches, this is by far the hardest job I’ve done so far. No one was in sight and the security cameras should be down by now, I slowly get down from my podium and rush to the nearest dark corner. I reflected upon the argument when my team was electing a person to pose as the lost statue from a millennium ago, their sole argument was ‘Ember, you’re the only one who has experience in this kind of thing’, and of course I dumbly agree, maybe I really had the skill or maybe his smile threw me off my game.
“Where are you?” I jumped when my sister’s voice echoed in my ear.
“I’ll be right there, is Spencer in position?” I’m trembling at the prospect of where I am and what I’m trying to do.
“Yeah, I can see him from here” she replied
I make my way down the decadent hall; velvet carpet covers all the floors and priceless artworks line the halls. I turn a corner to find my sister setting another unconscious palace guard on the floor.
“Is there any more” I ask while scanning the halls around us
“No, that’s the last one”
“Good” I replied “How long do we have Brandon?”
A young male voice booms in my ears “About 15 minutes before the serum is out of the guards systems” I almost cringe at the time limit. I glanced back at Lexi, without even a word she understands. “Are you sure” she whispers. I am trembling so much I’m surprised she distinguished a nod before hurtling for the nearest exit, speaking rapidly into her ear piece. I can already hear the soft footsteps of my brothers as they retreat from the roof above my head.
A few minutes later I skid to a halt and stare at the wooden door before me. It took me longer than expected to find the room. A moment later I’m closing the door behind me and walking slowly towards the basinet only a few metres ahead. Out of the corner of my eye I see a rope fall down outside the window, followed by Lexi who dangles silently 20 metres off the ground. She doesn’t look at me, but rather the beautiful princess that lays asleep an arm’s length away from her baby. While Lexi watched for any movements, while I lift the baby out of its cradle. Wind blows into the room as the window is flung back; I pass the baby to Lexi and attach my belt to the rope and jump.
The next day cries of terror and invasion rile across London, the baby royal has been kidnapped. Every face is wretched; they mourn the loss of someone they never knew. Except one, her face glows as I walk towards her, holding her son. Her loss has been revoked.
“Thank-you, thank-you so much” she gushed as she held her son in her arms “how did you know where he was?”
I couldn’t tell her where he came from, she would freak out. She would want me to take him back, even though she is his biological mother. Instead I did what I had been raised to do. Lie.
“We found him in an orphanage; he hadn’t been adopted out yet”
“And you just took him, without any problems?” She asked
Spencer spoke up from behind me “With all due respect ma’am, we have robbed the best guarded complexes in London, I’m pretty sure we could take an orphanage on without being caught”
The woman laughed at his seemingly unmatched wit and charming smile. For once I was grateful for Spencer’s ability to make girls swoon in his path.
“well then…” the woman grasped my gloved hand in hers “Again, thank-you so much” and with that she was gone, into the throng of Londoners, to start a new life with the one child the whole world was looking for. A looked down at my hands, now filled with an envelope containing more money than I could ever need. I handed the payment to Spencer.
“Put it with the rest” I commanded
“We might need it; Brandon said that we need to update the equipment if we want to keep pulling jobs like this” he said
“Jobs like what” I mumbled as I pulled my gloves off with my teeth.
He sighed behind me and I halted so quickly he bumped into me, I spun on my heels and brought my face very close to his “Jobs like what” I hissed.
Spencer barely flinched at what I had hoped would startle him before shoving the envelope into his pocket and bringing his hands to cup my face.
“Jobs that could get us killed”
I scoffed at his calm tone then wrenched myself away from him
“You don’t have to do this” I sneered “in case you hadn’t noticed the only ones who were necessary in the job we just pulled were Lexi, Brandon and me. That’s it! And we just stole the most famous baby in the world, from the most secure building in the world”
Spencer just looked at me calmly but I could tell he was trying to suppress a laugh.
“Come on Em” he smiled as he let his arm fall over my shoulders “Buckingham is hardly the MOST secure building in the world, it wasn’t even that big of a…” he didn’t even get to finish his sentence before my rage boiled over.
He just stared at me, I could see a red mark already rising on his cheek and my hand stung. I had never hit Spencer before and I was certain I never would. One of the first things my father taught me about being a thief was to never cause a scene unless it was vital to a con. I had just blatantly dishonoured that. I could feel the many eyes that burned into my back, all of them curious except Spencers; his were filled with hurt, betrayal and guilt that he had been the one to push me over the edge. I couldn’t stand the attention, the pressure. So I did the only thing I could, run.
My head ached from all the thoughts buzzing inside of it. Was Spencer right, was I putting everyone in danger for no good reason. I could never live with myself if they got hurt. This shouldn’t be the life of a teenage girl. I should be stressing over what shoes to wear, not what to do to save my family’s life. The raindrops that fall dilute the tears that slip down my face. When I look up I have no idea where I am, so I slump against a wall and try to wipe the tears away. I notice that my hand has been clenched shut ever since the heist. When I open my hand I find a small stuffed animal. The baby must have been holding onto it when I grabbed him. I stared at it for a long time, that child may not have belonged in that palace through blood but he was one of them. He had a family, who cared for him, who loved him, who would support him in whatever he would do. I didn’t know what that felt like and now that stolen child will never see the light of what he was destined to be.
Muddy water splashed my face and I looked up to see Spencer standing over me.
“I’ve made a huge mistake” I whispered
He didn’t reply, he just looked at me and placed his hand over the mine with the toy in-between. He nodded his head towards the direction the woman went.