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First Snow (1st Prize Winner - Group I)

March, 2011
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Sweat drips from my brow. I am breathing heavily. Shaking uncontrollably. I hear them muttering far away. I know they are talking about me. I am dangerous, unstable they say. I am trouble. They decide to leave me here…
The only life I remember is living in a lunatic asylum hospital. I know what everyone thinks behind my back; ‘He’s a dodgy one, that one is. Best stay away…’ No one understands, not me, not anything. I am alone in this world; black against white, a jagged crack in a smooth surface.
Endless numbers of tests are done on me, anything to keep my sudden outbursts of rage under control, anything to keep me calm. The doctors said I am improving, but I don’t feel any difference in myself. I feel the same.
There‘s a game I like to play in my head when I am bored and when I feel angry, it helps me calm down. I square all the numbers in order starting on 1; I keep on going until I can’t think anymore. The doctors say I am good with numbers and maybe someday that will be my job, a mathematician. But I can’t imagine myself working with numbers my whole life it must get pretty dull.
There are others in the hospital with me, though none as mad as I am. Gideon and I share the same illness, although he is much better than I. He is the only company I care for. He is the closest to my age, still young boys that would’ve been at school, leading a normal life. Sometimes we wish on a star that the world were a better place. Wish that we were treated like equals. We aren’t bad people, simply special, unique, abnormal. We are brought here to be someone else’s problem. We are brought here because we are no longer loved or were never loved in the first place.
Christmas is fast approaching and for the thirteenth time I hope to see swirling snowflakes dancing gently in the sky, till the tips of their ballerina toes stroke the ground, that caresses them to a deep sleep. A blanket of white sent from heaven to magically transform everything glittering white. This year I seem to be in a better state so as a treat we are going on a small excursion. We are going to watch the Christmas show, this year it will be a musical; ‘The Sound of Music’. I don’t know what it is about but from what I have heard, it is a very good musical. Gideon and I are anticipating the show, yet we are still nervous; what will the other people think of us? Will they be wary of us? Scared? Uncomfortable? I know it isn’t the time to worry, but I cannot help but wonder. Of course the staff will supervise us in case disaster strikes.
The Christmas decorations are being hung up and I have to admit it almost makes you forget that you’re in an asylum, almost makes you feel ordinary. I love this time of a year; everyone seems so cheerful and blossoming with joy! The big Christmas tree is wonderful; it seems to emit gentle warmth that touches your heart. The multicoloured baubles (27 of them, I counted) flashing in the glowing candlelight are spectacular! Tinsel entwining around the tree, sparkling when it catches light and the shining star so magnificent on the tip of the tree, in it’s rightful place. The kitchen’s aroma is something to die for, mince pies, turkey, gingerbread smells waft around, so warm, so comforting. Mistletoe hangs from the ceiling, meant to tempt people to celebrate the love on Christmas Day. It seems nothing can go wrong this year.
The days draw closer for the musical and the tests I take are very few. I am relieved and am starting to think that I won’t have any sudden anger attacks at the show.
Gideon and I are sitting up on our beds, me reading a picture book my doctor has chosen for me.
“Do you think my parents loved me at all?” Gideon suddenly asks. I look up from my book and look at Gideon, who stares back at me with sad eyes.
“I honestly don’t know. But it must’ve been a wrench leaving you” I say optimistically. Mr and Mrs Witner dropped their son here when he was 3 years old and Gideon didn’t often talk about them.
“You didn’t know them, they probably didn’t care for me. They abandoned me, left me to grow up like an orphan,” he says.
“Don’t talk like that, you said yourself you couldn’t even remember.”
“I lied.” he whispered. I fell silent. Gideon continued, “They said I was going on a holiday, said it was a wonderful place. They said it’d cure my anger.” He paused and sighed. “The worst part of it was them never looking back. Not even a goodbye…” A tear traces his cheek. I move to sit next to him,
“You’re the nicest person I’ve ever met.” he says. “You know why? Because you never left me alone. You always stood up for me, even against the doctors and nurses. I’m really grateful for that. Thank you.” He gives me a watery smile and I give him a hug. We laugh and sob together for no reason at all and I share the same feelings with him, why didn’t my parents care?
There are some people in the hospital who I dislike very much though, Mr Friedritone for example. He is mean in every possible way. Even his appearance shows hints of cruelty; the way his eyes glint with hatred or his nasty smirk. The way he talks always seems to sound plain evil. We are obviously not a concern in his life as his first priority is doubtless making himself look ‘handsome’ by preening himself in the mirror. A few years ago though, I told him he had exactly 5 warts on his face because I thought he might want to know, so he couldn’t exactly call himself handsome. He had shouted at me then and when I carried on matter of factly, “I’ve read that warts make your face look very different and there are painful ways to have them treated.” His face went bright red like a tomato. He yelled at me then and said if he had it his way he would’ve whipped the ignorance out of me. Instead, he slapped me on the face then and there and I didn’t like that so he ended up with a black eye and a nosebleed.
The show is scheduled on the evening of Christmas Day, which is just a few days away. Thank God Mr Friedritone won’t be taking us otherwise he would’ve made our trip a living hell.
At long last it is Christmas Eve and we have a festive dinner, which is very delicious. We are put to bed quite early, ready for the big show tomorrow.
After waiting for weeks, the day of the show has finally arrived. It seems like millions of years since either of us had walked through the big iron gates. When we reach the bus stop, the bus is already there. We anxiously step on. I see faces turn in our direction, some giving us funny looks, stiffening at the sight of us and clutching their bags tightly. I gulp nervously and shuffle to a seat besides Gideon.
“Are you from the Hospital?” a woman asks.
“Yes.” I mutter shyly. This only seems to make the other people uneasier. I acknowledge this and say, “ We’re going to see the musical tonight.”
“Merry Christmas, by the way.” I hastily add.
“Why, thank you. Same to you.”
“Yes, Merry Christmas to you!”
“Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!” The bus passengers suddenly appear more friendly and I can hear them gossiping at the back about us.
We arrive in front of the theatre doors, which already have people swarming in and there are bright shining lights spelling out the words ‘The Sound of Music’ in great big letters. Underneath is a picture of a woman skipping with a bag and a guitar case and the scenery behind are mountains. There are reviews saying ‘EXCELLENT’ and ‘STARS!’ so the performance ought to be good. We are ushered in and directed to our seats, which are made of red soft material and I find very comfortable sitting in. There are hundreds of people milling around and when I look up, I see that beautiful, intricate pictures of baby angels with harps, singing their hearts out, decorate the ceiling. The stage is hidden by a deep red, velvety curtain. I decide it is a very pretty building. All of a sudden, the lights go out and I very nearly scream out loud, but the curtains are drawing back so I keep quiet and watch what is happening. When the show is over, many people stand up and cheer and I do the same. The performance was enthralling; I never saw anything like it. The setting was in Austria. It was about a nun called Maria who no longer wants to be a nun anymore. She is hired to care for a widowed captain’s seven children and they all grow to love her especially the captain, but their lives are being threatened by the Nazis. The songs were very nice. I enjoyed the performance very much. We are all standing up to leave the theater when behind me I hear someone say “…Mr and Mrs Gelson…” I whip my head around. I focus my eyes on the couple behind me. Yes, this woman looks very familiar… The woman appears gentle, and the man strong and firm.
“Mother…Father?” I murmur? They look at me closely then the woman puts her gloved hand to her mouth and gasps,
“Davey?” No one has ever called me Davey before; this woman standing in front of me must be my mother.
The nurse’s mouth is hanging open. “Mr and Mrs Gelson! It has been such a long time!” she splutters.
“Davey, how are you?” my mother says. I can barely reply. Then all of a sudden this boil of hatred is bubbling up inside of me.
“DAVID! STOP THAT AT ONCE!” my father roars. I pay no attention and give a yell then jump at my father and start beating him with my fists.
“I CRIED MYSELF TO SLEEP EVERY NIGHT!!! DID YOU CARE? I WISHED THAT MAYBE YOU WERE TOO BUSY!!! BUT YOU JUST CAN’T BE BOTHERED!!” People try to stop me. I can hear screams ringing in my ears. My eyes are squeezed tight; I don’t want to see what I’ve done. I’m pulled away, blood pounding in my ears. I open my eyes; my father is lying on the ground. I see red. What have I done? All I remember before I black out is my face feeling wet with tears.
I wake up. I hear someone talking to me. My eyes flicker open. I am back in the asylum hospital. A policeman is talking to me. “David. David. Are you awake?”
I groan. My head is throbbing like mad. I try to concentrate on what the policeman is saying and catch a few phrases, “…badly injured…live with her…precautions necessary…risky…” I black out again.
This time when I wake up it is a woman talking to me and I feel much better. “Davey?”
Mother. Her face swims into view. “Your father is in bad condition. It’s not your fault. You were right, we should’ve visited you.”
“What’s going to happen?” I whisper softly.
“Well… Father and I decided… Well, I decided that you should come live with us.”
Click. I don’t say anything.
“To make up for 13 years. Do you think it is a good idea? It is entirely up to you to decide.”
I didn’t answer. “Just think about it, please.” Then she gets up and leaves. I ponder over the question. Do I want to go live with my parents? After they rejected me like that? Perhaps I am too risky. Perhaps I will frighten them. I sigh inaudibly before turning over to sleep.
Another year will soon end. Today is the last day of the year. I turned down mother’s offer. She was a bit disappointed, I could tell but they will still be able to visit me every now and then. We are having our New Year’s Eve dinner tonight. Gideon is glad I’ll be staying with him.
After dinner we all gather in front of the TV for the queen’s speech. Then as the minutes edge past, the countdown will soon begin.
‘1 minute!’ someone cries.
’30!’ a nurse shouts joyfully.
‘7!’ screams our Cook.
‘3!’ hollers someone excitedly.
‘2!’Gideon whoops.
‘1!’ I yell ecstatically.
‘HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!’
Outside, the New Year’s first snowflake waltzes down to settle on the cool ground. I can’t complain; I made the right decision. 
By Charlotte Leung, 
11yrs, Harrow International School Beijing


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  1. March 24th, 2011 at 18:16 | #1

    Good story…..Very interesting.

  2. March 24th, 2011 at 21:29 | #2

    Hi Gabi, your story is one of the few SHORT stories in the competition. Very impressive!!

  3. Wisegirl
    March 3rd, 2012 at 11:59 | #3

    A great story, only I don’t get how the first paragraph connects to the story.

    –H.Girl Percy Jackson series fan

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