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2012 (Complementary Prize - 13-15 years)

March, 2013
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Fred was lying down on the sand. He was glad that his parents had got enough money for them to go to the south of Spain. Playa de Conil stretched out so far that from the air, it looked like a large gold ribbon. He really loved it. Its sounds, its intense colours, its scents… Those holidays could not have been better.

The very moment the plane touchdown Jerez airport, everything was perfect. He even managed to see his girlfriend again. He hadn’t seen her for more than a year. One year, three month and four days to be exact. He had counted the days since she had to leave Madrid (and him by the same occasion)to follow her family moving for her father job’s mutation. Her name was Martina. Thin, quite tall, her blue eyes so bright they seemed to suck the blue out of the sea. Sometimes older than her 15 years, like the type of girl that would have sold her toys to boys when she was eleven. And yet Fred liked her. She had a certain personality that somehow was attractive. And now she finally was next to him. As Fred was relaxing, closing his eyes, feeling the heat of the sun beating down, and listening to the gentle crashes of the waves, he heard a voice calling nearby. It was saying his name! It was quite unmistakable. Suddenly, Fred opened his eyes; he turned round and he saw his mum. It looked as if she had been running for miles, but she seemed more sad than tired.

“What’s wrong, mum?” said Fred,

“You need to come home. I and your father got things to tell you.”

Martina sat up, suddenly interested although she hadn’t heard all the conversation.

“emmm…”,she said “Fred?”

“I don’t know what’s happening, Martina, but I have to go home.  If you want, you can come. I’m sure that mum will let me invite you for dinner.”

 “No thanks”, answers Martina,” I really would like to stay with you, but your mother is talking like it’s a family matter”

 “Okay” whispered Fred, as he turned round to follow his mother.   “I’ll call you as soon as possible”

 Fred’s holiday house looked perfect, just as it always did. His father literally fell in love with the house seven years ago while they were spending holydays for the first time in Cádiz and he decided to buy it the very first time he saw it. The heavy lustre was hanging from the ceiling, as if it could fall any time, but never did. The carpets were of a rather rustic style, although apart from this everything was modern. The kitchen’s white draws were reflecting the dim light of the house, making them look as good as new although they were more than six years old. There were two rooms at the ground floor: the kitchen and the living room.

But Fred didn’t think of that. All his minds were focused on his mums blue eyes. She was speaking with a calm yet serious voice

 “Fred… “She said

“Alright mum!” Fred cut in “just tell me what’s wrong!”

 She calmly let her hand down as a signal for him to calm down.

 His dad interrupted them: “You know there were some troubles in Madrid this time, some people were protesting because of the cost of life.

“Yes», Fred nodded

“I don’t really understand what is happening but something has gone seriously wrong. Everybody is fighting, some building are burning. The government has decided to deploy the army into the city. We can say that a revolution has just started in Madrid, and we won’t be able to stay here much longer …”

 Fred wasn’t listening anymore. His house, his school, his friend… everything he cared of was in Madrid. He thought about where he would go. Either he would go somewhere else in Europe. That would be the ultimate nightmare. He didn’t speak a word of French or English, and he probably would have to be sent to a local school. He would just be left there, having to learn a new language, adapt to a new school…  and then he thought about Martina. Either she would stay here, or her parents would go back to Madrid. In both cases, he wouldn’t see her until a long time. Maybe even forever. He certainly would miss her a lot. Her smiling face, her relaxed personality… But that wasn’t what only mattered right now. He had worked a lot to go here on holidays. So did his parents. Shouldn’t he have the right to stay here? He had earned his holidays! He surely was angry about all this. But his parents were probably right .What was most important was to be safe. But Fred still didn’t know where he would go.

 “Where are we going?” he demanded.

 His mum was looking down; as if she was sorry she didn’t tell him herself.

His dad was hesitating. And then he said: “we’re not sure about this. We might have to go to France. Or we might be sent to America.

America.                                                                                                                                                                   All his friends dreamed of going to America. They’d all think it would be the best thing in their lives. Arthur, the biggest show off of colegio so Antonio said he’d been there five times. He pretended to have met Obama and a bunch of famous actors and singers. But Fred had no reason to be willing to go there. All his friends, his school, his family… had always been in Spain. It is better to be in purgatory with the rest of the world than to be in paradise alone. Fred couldn’t remember which poet had said that, but right now he completely agreed with him. He belonged here. He had the right to stay here. His dad waved in front of his eyes, trying to wake him up from his daydreaming. That gave Fred a smile, although he’d have hated this if his father had done anywhere else. He’d probably been daydreaming for nearly two minutes. Nothing to him, but enough to worry his mother. His mum had been looking at him, probably expecting him to say something.

 “Are you ok? “she said, looking anxious

Fred Hesitated, then said” I’m alright. Can I go for a walk?”

  “I’m not sure is it exactly the right moment but… there is no trouble over there. Just be back in time for dinner.” she answered.

  Fred had decided to go for a walk not only to forget about all this, but also to enjoy his last few days in the south of Spain. As he was walking along the street, he heard footsteps running up behind him. Fred spun round. Martina was standing in front of him, panting after a short run, wearing a brand new white shirt and Levi jeans. She had a brightly coloured straw bag over her shoulder.

 “What’s wrong?” she said, noticing his sad face.

“Well… “Fred started.

“Don’t worry “said Martina. “You can tell me all about it later. Where would you like to have dinner with me? I fancy an Italian – but he’s been ignoring me so you’ll have to order!” She laughed.

 Fred and Martina walked down the street together. Fred glanced up. The clouds were partly blocking the orange light of the beautiful sunset. He was going to enjoy his last days here.

“Virgin Atlantic flight 23 has begun boarding. Will all passengers please proceed immediately to Gate 34.”

 Sitting in the Virgin business class lounge of Jerez airport, Fred’s father closed the book he was reading and put it away.

“Time to go” he said.

“Alright” said Fred. He still was thinking about how quickly he had to pack up. As soon as he had come home, his parents had told him to get in his room and pack up all the things he would need… to go to England. He was sad that he had to leave Spain, his friends, Colegio San Antonio and especially Martina, but he simply had to be safe. That never changed. Nor did the offer from his dad’s job to leave Spain. Fred’s father worked for the European Union. He was the chef of the trading section, importing exporting outside Europe department. A job his friends struggled to remember all the time. Especially Arthur. He said his father was a secret agent (a spy) and that he was sent all over the world for every kind of missions. He was even going to miss Arthur. But he was so tired that amongst all his worries he managed to fall asleep.

Three months later in London, Fred and his family were tranquilly watching a film on the sofa, when the film was interrupted by something that looked like normal news at ten, except that it was thirteen minutes early. That was the one thing that annoyed his mother the most, but Fred liked it. He often wished he could see the news, but he had to go to bed at ten. A rule his mum made up. That was what the English called special flash. When news were important, they wanted to be the first channel to inform the viewers about it. At the bottom of the screen a white band formed and the words: SPAIN FINALLY CALMS DOWN. Normally when a “special flash” would happen, Fred’s mum would turn off the TV. But here it was different. The fact that the TV had mentioned Spain changed everything. His father watched in interest. So did Fred.

“The revolution in Spain, which has been raging for more than three months is now calming down. There has been an agreement between the government and the Protestants. “That’s great!” Said Fred’s father. Suddenly Fred and his mum were looking at him. “The European union said I could go back to Spain the moment the manifestations died down. It means we can go back!” “Hurray” his mum celebrated as a big smile spread across her face. Fred looked at her. It was the first time he had heard his mum said this. His dad rushed to the kitchen and came out a few seconds later with a packet of crisps, two glasses and a bottle of champagne. Fred was glad that it was the end of 2012. A year that had only been too long for him and for Spain.


By Leonard Besse,

The British School of Beijing 


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