WORDS IN WOODS
intoBodmin, in association with KEAP, Bodmin Moor Poetry Festival, Guillemot Press and Cardinham Woods, are proud to present –
Short Story Competition 2019
in 2019 we launched a 500 word short story competition to seek out talented local writers and storymakers, as part of the Words in Woods festival.
The theme was 'into the woods', and entrants of all ages sent us their stories, for the chance to win some fabulous goodies, as well as the honour of having their work read out by a professional actor at Words in Woods in April 2019.
It has been wonderful to read the stories sent in by talented local people. We hope you'll enjoy reading each of the entries as much as we did.
Winners & Runners up
Into the Woods
By Ruby (Age 8)
The sun was shining. In the deep, deep wood something stirred. Holly the hedgehog came out of her burrow with her mum, dad and Max (her little brother.) Holly felt the warm spring air beating on her. Her family had been hibernating from the start of autumn, through winter and had woken up now it was spring time. Holly squeaked, ‘Let’s go to the river to see Freddy the Frog.’
‘I’m hungry!’ bellowed dad, ‘I hope there’s lots of delicious grubs to eat.’ So, the four hedgehogs started to stroll down to the river. However, something big had happened whilst the hedgehogs had been sleeping.
‘Stop!’ shouted mummy hedgehog as Max was about to get squished by a machine with two circles going round and round. ‘What’s this grey stuff all over the ground?’ demanded daddy hedgehog, ‘It’s a bit rough on my feet.’
‘I’m not talking about the ground; I’m worried about these machines coming down this hill!’ exclaimed mummy hedgehog.
‘I want to pplllaaaayyyy!’ whined Max, ‘How are we going to get to down to the river?’ The four watched the machines whizzing past/ Suddenly Holly squealed, ‘look there’s a sign with a picture of a hedgehog and a tunnel on it!’ Happily, the hedgehog family scurried down to the sign. They saw that the tunnel led them safely under the rough surface away from those machines.
In no time at all, the hedgehog family had made it down to the friendly, familiar river. Down by the river bank, they met their friends and told them all about their morning adventure. ‘It’s very kind of the two-legged animals to make a special tunnel for you,’ croaked Freddy. ‘Yes, it is,’ replied Holly as the two of them soaked up the spring sun together. ‘Aren’t we lucky to live here in Cardinham woods!’
Our Special Place
By Sophie (aged 11)
Dear diary there was a New girl at school today. She is called Elmira; she is from Syria and she is a refugee. I talked to her. Her voice was sad, but her eyes were kind. I took her to my special place in the woods.
No one knows about my special place, there is a crystal-clear stream running past a huge old oak tree. The tree trunk is hollow and there is room to sit inside. I leave my old blankets inside and I go there whenever I need to think.
Dear diary Elmira was late for class, so I went looking for her, she was crying in the corridor. She said that someone had called her names and told that she did not belong here. I promised to take her to my special place in the woods on Saturday, that made her smile.
Dear diary we went to my special place in the woods again and Elmira told me her story. One year ago, her house was bombed, and her younger brother had died. They had fled from Syria in a boat; there were babies screaming, she was hungry but there was no food, it was cold the boat was full of water. Then the RNLI came and saved them from the water. And the government gave them a house here.
Dear Diary, today we went back to the woods and I have never seen Elmira so happy. We paddled in the stream and, we saw Mr Higgly the hedgehog who had woken up from his long sleep. We climbed the old tree and watched the sun set, drinking hot chocolate with marshmallows on top.
Dear diary Elmira told me today that she and her younger brother used to play in the woods together in Syria, and the only place she feels safe is in the woods. I have told her she can go to our special place any time she likes.
INTO THE WOODS
By Anna Selvey
There’s a piano in the woods. It arrives one day in spring, pushed painfully into winter holly. It’s dark when it comes, so only the fox is startled by it. When she hears the sad, muffled chimes of it, bumping over roots, she hides to look at it for a long time. When it’s right to, she goes slowly to sniff, very quiet and very careful, chin to the ground and eyes swivelling for humans. Its scent, although she doesn’t know it, is of hymn books, old stone and the dust that streams through shafts of sunlight on winter afternoons.
She leaves, and the piano sits through a wild night of wind, whipped around by papery oak leaves and the husks of dead bugs, touched by branches. It lightens, in fast-moving shades of black and grey and, as the birds wake to sing, its silence becomes louder and the darkness inside sealed deeper, until a bold robin floats down. He has been eyeing it with black beads since daybreak and walks his twiggy feet all over its polished oak lid, fascinated to see his own reflection in the tawny shine.
The light rises, flicking through branches, and two long dogs fly by, mad with joy in the gale. They stop dead beside the piano, grinning and panting, waiting for their man, knowing this invader comes from his world. The man behaves just like the fox: he looks around, sure someone must be watching, then comes carefully, as if it might bite. At last, he opens the lid, and the piano grins up at the naked branches and the sky.
The robin in the holly, inflating his feathers against the blast, head on one side, settles to listen. The fox in her den, couched, narrows her eyes and whispers of wind stir her whiskers. And the man tries some notes, still sure someone will see him take this pleasure: gifts like this aren’t given to him.
The music comes easy as leaves to the tree: the man who made these notes grow, centuries before and many miles away, is here with this man in the woods. Every voice that ever joined the piano in song is here, soaked into its oak and pine and wire: their humming stirs the queen bee from her sleep in the earth. Liquid, the music pours down, soaks the bulbs of the bluebells that wait. Airy, it rises round fat leaf buds and breathes into nests. Warm, the trees relax and unfold, dropping shoulders, raising faces, bathing in golden sound.
Minutes and moons and years slide by: stars revolve, rains are received and the woods flash green, gold, grey. The piano wires fur with rust; moss blooms between its keys; the lid swells, warps. The fox’s children crouch, and the robins’ empty eggshells fall among leaves, bark and blood. Daily, slowing, the man and his dogs walk by. The piano settles, and is silent.
Into the Woods
By Addy Oliver
There is always a choice to make when we go into the woods. Standing on the threshold of the wild and tamed, we make decisions as to our path, journey and destination.
Sometimes it is the cleared path, twisting amiably, blessed with its gentle pace and solid ground. A place of certainty, familiarity and peace, that wraps itself around weary souls and bodies keeping us warm and cherished. It connects and reminds us of where we belong and from where we came. Providing respite and gratitude, safe in the knowledge that countless others have trodden here and the route is well known.
Flowers shine, birds inspire and the height of the trees cradle and protect us from the worst of any storms. Wonder guides us on to eagerly anticipated sanctuary, where nourishment for our bodies and souls is wrapped in sugar and leaf to fuel us until our return.
Other times it is the pull of adventure which plunges us further into the trees and onto rockier paths. Here lies the vow of a deeper connection, a physical and emotional intimacy with the earth, allowing you to abandon convention as you climb, fly, swim and dream as any other creature of the wood.
Exhilaration, creativity and choices surround as perspectives alter and vistas change. A place where time is abandoned, and bonds are forged as challenges are met with imaginative force. The light is dappled, and the sounds muted but with energy and awareness a pathway can be navigated. Explorers may come back with injury and stain, but they return time and time again beckoned by the glimmer of new treasures and reward.
And then there is the path that cannot be seen, only felt, echoed in the words of the owls. Most will pass it by, imperceptibly hurrying lest they hear its mantra. Led by the call of the wolves and the flash of red hoods it seduces and pulls the curious and the brave further into the true heart of the woods. In the firefly glow of the liminal hue you walk the routes of the Fae and the bridges of the trolls. The shadows become your guide and spiral you deep into the tree roots buried underground. Time and distance become jaded and unclear as you explore the depths of truth with an abandonment of expectation and control. To truly surrender to the heart of the woods requires you to be lost and torn by the brambles, destination unknown and with no promise of anything except irrevocable change upon your eventual return.
There is always a choice to make when we go into the woods. Standing on the threshold of the wild and tamed. We choose which path to roam and each one returns us home.
into the woods Competition Winners
12-12:30pm | at Words in Woods
Join us as the winning stories from the ‘into the woods’ Short Story Competition are read out at the Words in Woods festival 2019!
(in no particular order)
Into the Woods by Ruby (aged 8)
Our Special Place by Sophie (aged 11)
Finding a friend by Emily
THE DAY THE SEA DISAPPEARED… by Mabel (aged 9)
THE INVASION OF THE WORLD!!! By Thomas
The Lost Starfish by Emilia (aged 10)
The Sock Monster by Maisie (aged 11)
The Very Sorry Monkey Tamer by Rebecca Kate (aged 9)
What an Adventure by Tia (aged 9)
Mouse Man by Daniel (aged 9)
Into the woods by Isla (aged 10)
INTO THE WOODS by Anna Selvey
Into the Woods by Addy Oliver
Birds For Pleasure by Jackie Taylor
The Trees and the Wood by Karen Ouzman
The Witch and the Woods by Anastasia Gammon
Words in the Wood by Karen Ouzman
INTO THE WOODS 2 by Anna Selvey
The Lonely Walk by Marion Parish
Finding a friend
“What have you done?” the headmaster bellowed, all eyes now turned to me as he stood over the lifeless body on the playground.
“I don’t know sir. It just came from inside me.” whispered Claudia in a scared voice.
“You are saying that you don’t know what you have done.” Shouted the headmaster.
“Yes, I am sir!” Claudia exclaimed.
“You are expelled then! Get out of the school grounds immediately!” the headmaster angrily yelled.
The next day Claudia and her family moved to a new house and to a new school because it was the only school where they lived. They unpacked their things. It was night time. Claudia thought to herself. Imagine a school where everybody got along, where the headmaster was nice, where the work was easy: this place exists in Claudia’s head. She lived in Spain (a foreign country) with her dad before he died.
The next day she woke up and had breakfast; French toast. She walked to school and when she arrived the teacher, Mrs Jenkins, welcomed her with a big, gaping smile. Break time was disappointing. Class again.
Lunch was a bit better. A girl came over. “Hi I am Emily. What is your name?“ squeaked Emily excitedly. The bell rang. Time for class again.
Eventually it came for home time. “Yay” screamed Claudia excitedly. She ran around and around trying to find Emily. But couldn’t.
She realised that she needed to go to the toilet. Claudia heard crying. They were Emily’s cries. “What is wrong? “asked Claudia.
“Go away. I don’t want to see your face again. OK?” shouted Emily.
“What have you done?” bellowed the headmaster, all eyes now turned to her as he stood in front of the door.
“I don’t know sir.” Whispered Claudia in a scared voice.
“You’re saying to me that you don’t know what you have done!” shouted the headmaster.
“Yes, I am sir” said Claudia shyly.
“You’re expelled then! Get out of the school grounds immediately!” shouted the headmaster.
The next day.
Emily ran and ran around the playground trying to find Claudia. She stopped. She realised what she had done. She found a corner, sat down and cried salty tears.
The next day Claudia and her family moved to a new house and school again.
A month later.
She moved back to her home country, Spain. She went to her old friend’s house and knocked on the front door. The door was answered. “Hola.” Said Claudia’s friend.
“Hola.” Said Claudia. They asked each other if they both wanted to go on her trampoline.
They both said yes. Claudia bounced then her friend bounced.
The trampoline collapsed. Everything went black for Claudia very, very, very dark black as black as the deepest dark black hole ever made.
She heard sirens. she saw some crying faces. She woke up and said “What is going on? Where am I?”
“You’re ok!” said her friend excitedly.
An hour later she was back home happily. Had she forgotten what had happened?
THE DAY THE SEA DISAPPEARED…
By Mabel (Age 9)
One day it was very hot outside; Fern and Clementine (who were best friends) decided to go to the beach, which was called Sun Cress Bay.
They were dashing to the sea, when suddenly it began to rush back out. They knew something was wrong…
They saw the newspapers that night, it had happened all around the world. Now they realised, there must be something in the middle of the ocean causing all this.
The next day, Clementine and Fern went to the middle of the ocean on their dad’s go-cart; they were 10, so they weren’t really allowed to, but they did it anyway. They took pillows and a blanket because it would take them more than a day to get there. They were so excited because it was their first real adventure!!!
When they finally reached the middle, there was a GIGANTIC HOLE! They’d never seen anything like it, there were rocks and an amazing waterfall. But then they saw something else, a MASSIVE mouth with razor sharp teeth. But its mouth was not shut, so you could see big, blue boats bobbing in his mouth and seagulls flying in the air like people on parachutes gliding through the sky.
They took deep breaths, and shouted ‘1,2,3!’ and in they went. As they went down, they screamed ‘aaaaaaaaaaaah!!!’ and landed with a… nothing.
They didn’t know at first, but then they looked down - it was something red, squishy and bumpy. It was a TONGUE!!! They leaped up on their feet and headed to talk to the monster. So, they climbed up to his ear and said, “Mr monster, could you spit all the water back out?” Mr monster said NO because he wanted to learn how to read. He thought, if he took the water out of the sea people would be rushing to get him and then he’d tell them that he wanted to read. Well, it worked.
Luckily Clementine had brought a book with her and she said to him, ‘I have a book, but it is up there, can you help me up?’ So, he got her up and she grabbed the book. She showed the book to Mr monster and told him what the book was called. She taught him how to read, then he said, “I’ll put the sea back, but let you get home first.” So, they said bye and were off. To say that they were back, Clementine and Fern through a rock in the air, then suddenly the water came rushing back in.
They told their parents all about their real adventure, but no one believed them. While they were there, they told Mr monster they will see him again.
4 years later, Clementine and Fern still remember this adventure, even though they are 14. They bought a boat to go and see Mr monster now and then to bring new books too him and he reads them all like they taught him.
THE INVASION OF THE WORLD!!!
Imagine a place where in the deepest and darkest forest in the land of the Bigfoot’s territory, where he eats animals, where he sleeps in his cave. A tree crashes on a nearby treehouse: the owner is out. A signal ray shoots out of the ground and Bigfoot activates it. A green beam shoots into the atmosphere and then…
Geoff sprints off to tell the police but when they get there it was all gone including Bigfoot’s cave. They think Geoff is delusional. He buys Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory for £10 because Willy Wonka is drinking Goo-Goo juice. Geoff thinks that he needs to get more money to rebuild his shattered little treehouse. 10 hours later, an alien comes down. Not just one, but billions followed.
They start to take over the WORLD!! They take 50 hostages from St Breock Primary School. An alien shoots a little girl.
“I didn’t mean to kill her; the trigger was loosened” argued two commanding aliens.
“What have you done?” The Headmaster bellowed. All eyes turned to the alien’s gun with smoke emerging out of it. The alien materialised into a UFO.
The Newsreader said “The future is all disappearing in front of our eyes. Farms are shutting down: we will all starve to death. The alien leader called Bobbeya needs chocolate to power the death ray. If we give it to him, we will survive, and our future will restore back to normal once again.”
Geoff plans to shut down the Chocolate Factory for ever. Aliens bang on the door and suddenly the door explodes and lands on a Gorky, cutting off his head. Rainbow-colour blood splats everywhere, all over the other Gorkies as well as Geoff whilst he is eating chocolate popcorn to make him feel better. Geoff grabs a gun and ZAP!!! Geoff was dead on the floor, shot by the vicious alien commander. The Gorky’s grabbed Geoff and dragged him into the boiling chocolate: they boiled him in what he loved. The Gorkies ran at the aliens and ripped off their frog-like limbs and snapped off their heads. Then the Gorkies exploded due to their massive anger levels. Ten more aliens stormed in and started to suck out all the chocolate to fuel the one and only death ray that could end the world!!!
Or is it?!!!
Geoff is alive! He will fight until the end of this story to keep the world alive......
Geoff climbs out of the river of chocolate and grabs an assault rifle. He runs faster and faster: that is what a hero does!! In the distance, music sang “doo me doo me doo you”. He runs until he gets to the terrifying Death Ray. Darboes are blood sucking alien slaves that operate the Death Ray. Geoff shoots every alien he can: he shoots the death ray, but he gets stunned and definitely dies this time. The Death Ray shoots a laser and blows up the solar system. KABOOM!!! And then there was silence…
The Lost Starfish
By Emilia (age 10)
Far, far away, out in the deep ocean, lived a starfish called Summer. She was elegant, smart and pretty amazing with dazzling colours of red, orange and yellow.
Summer lived in the sea, where the water was as blue as the sky. Her home was a cave made out of colourful coral and rocks, the roof was made out of hardened shells she had collected. As the waves crashed against Summer's cave, it made the water drip off the entrance.
The youngest, prettiest girl in the ocean; her skin was as colourful as a petal from a rose and her eyes as dark as a lime. But, like all others, she had no hands, she couldn't pick anything up. She was an odd child, silent and imaginative; and while she was thinking of something to do, she heard a noise. It got closer and closer to her, she thought it was a wave, but it was a tsunami. She clung on to something. It was too strong.
Later, Summer woke up but miles away from home. She looked around and thought in her head, “Which way is longer, land or home?” Suddenly something popped into her mind, what had happened to her father? Had he been washed away like her? Was he nearer by? She needed to find her father!
Summer found herself on land, she sneaked passed all the humans. She was so excited, hoping to see her father, but she had to be careful.
In the distance, Summer spotted a message in a bottle which looked like her father’s writing. She used one of her points that was sticky enough to take the lid off. It read, “I hope this finds you (Summer)my daughter, I need your help!” From, Mr Armstrong. Summer travelled and travelled to find her father. She kept finding notes and things in corners that looked like him. She was never going to give up.
Then, Summer spotted an aquarium; she thought her father could be in there. She crept inside like a ninja to stop the humans from seeing her. She saw humongous tanks with loads of fish and sea creatures in them. Then, out the corner of her eye, could it be? Yes! A starfish tank! Summer crawled over and looked through the glass but didn't think it was him.
Suddenly an aquarium assistant scooped her up and she was put into the tank! Floating, Summer looked at the beautiful home that the starfish had.
She was interrupted from admiring the tank as she thought she heard a familiar voice calling her name, it sounded like her father? Summer spun around and there he was right in front of her! As they talked, they were just so happy to have found each other.
They decided that they would need to plan their escape back to the ocean to tell the King of the Sea that Summer was the first lady starfish to go onto land, and she had so much to tell!
The Sock Monster
by Maisie (age 11)
Bang, bang, bang! “Wake up Michaela, you'll be late for school!” shouted her mum. Michaela got up as soon as she heard the word school, she leapt out of bed and got dressed at lightning speed, she sprinted down the stairs and swallowed her breakfast without even chewing it. Michaela galloped to the bus and sighed in relief that she hadn't missed it.
After she sat down, she realised that she was wearing odd socks, all her black school socks were missing; they had disappeared. She thought that this was strange, but her mum had probably put them in a dark wash because she was a clean freak. The next day Michaela woke up earlier, but the same thing happened, she could only find odd socks. When she got home, she questioned her mum, “Where have all my socks gone? There's barely any left'” but her mum just told her to look harder!
That evening Michaela's mum burst into her bedroom. “Michaela” she said, “Set a trap, the sock monster is in town.” Then she pivoted and walked straight out the room.
Michaela laid her trap; she tied one end of a piece of string to the back of her chest of drawers and the other end dangled with a bell hanging off it, this way, when the sock monster opened the drawer, the bell would ring. She also placed a net above the drawer to fall on top of it.
Slowly, she counted the hours, midnight, one, two, three o'clock but the sock monster never came. At three thirty she accidentally nodded off! In the morning, she regretted falling asleep because the drawer was open and now all her white socks had gone. Michaela decided to take the trap up a notch. She would use a camera to catch the monster stealing her socks, this way she could go back and look at the footage. She hoped and hoped that this plan would finally work.
After a whole day of planning, she was so excited she couldn't sleep (which was probably a good thing). She wrapped herself up in her duvet and poked her head out a little hole at the top. Michaela waited and yawned and waited some-more, would the monster ever appear? Until...” Nope, just my shadow.” muttered Michaela, she was getting so frustrated she could have screamed.
Finally, yes, it was here. Michaela was shivering with excitement; this was her dream come true to catch the hated sock monster. The little figure stumbled across the room to her chest of drawers. ONE, TWO, THREE, DOWN! The sock monster was captured by the net hanging above the drawers, Michaela tiptoed carefully from her bed to the monster, so she didn't wake up her mum from her deep snoring sleep.
Gently, she lifted the white fish net that lay on top of the sock monster. It was shaking terribly, like a mighty, disastrous earthquake that would knock the whole city over like a row of dominoes.
And the tonight sock monster is...
The Very Sorry Monkey Tamer
By Rebecca Kate (age 9)
Once upon a time there was a monkey tamer, called Benjamin. All he wanted was the money. Benjamin was stupid, selfish, cruel and very greedy. He lived outside a wood with his wife and children. In the wood lived bears, birds, foxes and monkeys. Outside the wood lived other people who were very kind and generous. Surprisingly there were Javan Langurs in the wood. There are two baby twin monkeys in the wood, their names are Toto and Tommy. Toto is very clever and boastful about what he does. Tommy is very helpful and strong and is all about the food.
This monkey tamer had a very special job, it was to go into the wood and catch a Javan Langur monkey, which is going to be a very hard job. He had to catch the monkey for the circus because he was promised a big fortune. Today he is going to start his job. He was going to make a trap which was made of metal and rope, his idea was to put fruit under a tree. He was going to be in the tree when Toto or Tommy run under the tree, then he will drop the trap on top of them. So, the next day he walked into the wood, and set up his trap, he waited for hours and hours on end. But the monkeys never came. What he did not realise was that the Javan Langur twins are very clever, and in fact the monkeys spotted him making the trap. So, they got busy making their own trap for Benjamin.
Benjamin planned to sell the Javan Langur monkeys to the.
When Javan Langur monkeys grow older their thick lush coats turn black normally they kill the monkeys and take their coats for the Actors clothes. The monkeys were determined to stay safe and planned to catch their evil enemy in their own cage.
So, the next day Benjamin came out to the woods to check his trap, he noticed there was something inside the trap. He ran so fast he nearly tripped over. Suddenly there was an enormous bang and he found himself caged in a very strong booby trap. Toto and Tommy danced all around the cage acting like clowns from the circus, sticking out their tongues and blowing raspberries at one very sorry monkey tamer.
After that Toto, Tommy, family and friends had a big party. The monkeys ate fruit until midnight.
What an Adventure
by Tia (aged 9)
Slowly, a young girl named Tia entered an endless black abyss. She adventured into the depths of the maze-like woods cautiously. She stepped onto a moss infested stick, SNAP. The sound echoed through the never-ending woods. Tia heard a rustle from a nearby bush. There it was again. A monster- like creature emerged from the bush. It had pumpkin orange fur and peridot green eyes and stripes as black as space. It was a tiger.
It took one glance at Tia and decided she was a tasty morsel. Tia swiftly sprinted to a nearby cottage which was mouldy and looked abandoned, mould grew all over. She hastily found the door and tugged it open. She hid behind some boxes and caught her breath. Soon after the tiger appeared through the door and sniffed around, fortunately, he did not look behind the boxes. Oh no, the tiger padded closer. Tia had to act fast. She darted up a nearby ladder to the next floor, there was a lamp, some documents and a stack of books. She hid behind the stack of books.
Eventually, the tiger came into view again. He sniffed for Tia. He padded over to Tia and sniffed again. He smelt her. Tia climbed out of the window and onto the tree but gradually lost her grip on the branch, she fell down to where the tiger was standing and ran hastily onto the other tree, but the same thing happened, and she lost her grip again. The tiger tried to claw her, but it only just missed. Tia saw an old lady dressed in black. She begged for help, but the lady in black was actually a witch and cackled evilly in her face and muttered no. Tia cried for help. The tiger was so close to eating her. Suddenly she saw light stream through the bottle green leaves. She ran quickly over to the sun only to find she was out of the woods.
What an adventure!
By Daniel (age 9)
One dark morning, a thirty-five-year-old man sat down on his two-meter-long sofa bed and turned on the battered television. Bang! Went the sound of a firework from out in the man’s plain, green garden.” Those blasted teenagers! Setting off fireworks in my front garden again. I don’t think so!” Announced Pete in his usual angry temper. He got up from his comfy sofa to shout at the annoying teenagers.
After that was taken care of, Pete trotted into his organised kitchen and opened his gloomy shelf to grab some cornflakes to eat before he stomped back off to his cosy sofa-bed. ”Ahhh!” Pete screamed,” There’s a mouse in my cereal!”
He quickly ran over to his telephone and dialled the number of the exterminator. Shortly after, a miniature van pulled up next to the dull house. A massive man stepped out with some animal spray, then caught sight of Pete and heavily stepped over to him.” Where’s the mouse then?” The exterminator asked in his gruff voice.” The rodent is in the kitchen. It’s in my cereal box.” Replied Pete in his now frustrated voice. They slowly walked into the kitchen. Pete lifted down the cornflakes box and peered inside.” There he is, the little critter.” He pointed inside the box to uncover a tiny mouse nibbling on one of the flakes. “Stand back.” The exterminator bellowed while watching Pete. Ssss! The bottle hissed as the exterminator pointed the bottle into the box. After a few seconds he stopped the spray and pulled out the dead mouse. Then he gave Pete his bill and trotted out.
That evening Pete went upstairs to shave his overgrown beard when he noticed that there was a long noodle-like thing behind him! He looked back in the mirror and saw that he was shrinking. In a blink of an eye, he was on all fours and on the floor. He had transformed into a mouse!
“Wah!” Pete heard someone crying. He jumped down the now colossal staircase and saw a tiny mouse weeping by a chair.” What happened?” Asked Pete.” Two monsters came and sprayed my mummy!” The mouse replied. Pete stood in thought.” Shall we try and find some other mice to take care of you?” Pete asked. “Ok.” The mouse, Tom, replied.
They started to walk around the small house. “It’s hard walking with such small feet” Pete exclaimed while breathing heavily. “What!” Pete quickly remembered that Tom was used to walking like this. “Nothing,” Pete replied. They jumped onto the sofa bed. “Psst, I can hear something coming from under this pillow,” Tom mentioned.
They squeezed under the pillow to find a small family of mice living there. “Hello” said one of the mice. “Daddy!” shouted Tom. He ran to his Dad and hugged him, “Bye” shouted Tom to Pete. “Bye” shouted Pete. Pete was just walking away when he noticed that he was rapidly growing! He was relieved that he was turning back into a human.
Into the woods
Isla (age 10)
Once a King wished that he could have a day with his children.
So, one day he said to his wife, the Queen, that he was going to take his children out into the woods the Queen thought that it was a great idea!!!
So, the next day the King took his children to the woods. The
Children, Sam and Susan were adventurous and very cheeky.
The King liked them being cheeky. They walked in the woods and then they came to a little cottage that had smoke coming out of the chimney and the children rushed inside but the King ran away! The children looked inside the little cottage and thought it was boring, so they left. The children were scared because they didn’t know where their dad was, and they were really upset about it. They thought that they would be stuck in the woods forever, so they started to look around and then they saw trees, big, big trees and they were green and purple. Sam and Susan had never seen trees like this they were rather shocked. And then, right when all hope was gone, a little dwarf appeared and the children, who were already scared started to cry, but the dwarf was friendly and helped lead them out of the woods. Just when they could see the palace a giant stepped in front of them, so they had to run back as fast as they could!
They all rushed into the little cottage and hid in a cupboard. Luckily had stopped the Giant by tickling his feet, now they were all safe, the children shouted thank you behind them as they started walking out of the woods again! The dwarf took them back to their Palace and the Queen was horrified when she heard the Kind had ran away and left the children alone in the woods. So, the Queen declared that she didn't need the King and banished him. She thanked the dwarf for bringing her children back and made him a Duke who was welcome in the Palace anytime he wanted.
Sam, Susan, the Dwarf Duke and the Queen lived happily ever after .............. without the King!!!
Birds For Pleasure
by Jackie Taylor
Did I want to take her home, or would I like them to deal with her body? I took her home, of course, and buried her deeply, down at the bottom of the garden where a frayed edge of bramble and blackthorn merges into the woods.
At least it had been quick. I covered her ears while the clippers buzzed down to her grey suede skin. The vet snapped on two latex layers while somewhere outside in the street a blackbird sang. Wet paw prints on the stainless steel, a tumbleweed of fur in the corner. Just a few minutes while she slipped away from me in that nasty shoebox room, a room designed for easy hosing down.
People killed me with their kindness. They came with cakes and offers of adorable, abandoned kittens or older, calmer cats in need of a forever home. As if I could replace her just like that. And just as it is with any death, the friends soon stopped coming and I was left with an empty hollow on the red velvet of her favourite chair, a shredded carpet, and silence.
The birds came back to the garden quite quickly, considering. She always ate the mice and rabbits, but the birds were purely for her pleasure. It was wonderful to watch her. When she’d finished with them, a quick kill and her spindly legged victim would be stashed under the largest hawthorn, a soft offering soon carried off by the creatures of the wood.
After she died, the sparrows came back first, but it was the starlings that were the first to become troublesome, massing in the treetops and waiting for me to leave the house. The innocent robin started following me, reporting back. Migraine woodpeckers came, and then the rooks. Hooded bullies with dead eyes, always ready to shout the odds. Even the tawny owl turned against me. He always said he was my friend.
Trees talk to each other. Did you know?
Last week, something dug up her grave. Scrapings and sly claw marks all around the hole. Fresh black earth and the smell of wild garlic. I haven’t been out since then. What if I were to stumble across her body? I try not to dwell, but my mind fills with pictures of my beautiful, beautiful girl as she was, and with nightmare thoughts of how she might be now.
Last night, scufflings in the roof, and scratchings, and light-foot runnings over my
This morning, the dawn chorus. Unbearable noise, and no cat for protection. Unbearable noise, and no cat for stroking and purring and love.
It’s as it should be, I suppose. Nature’s payback.
The starlings are watching. There’s a trail of breadcrumbs from my front door. Is it leading me out into the woods? Or is it leading the wild things of the woods out of the shadows to me?
The Trees and the Wood
By Karen Ouzman
“What are you doing?” His voice, impatient.
“Getting my coat. Going out.” Her voice, huffy.
“Running away from an argument gets us nowhere.”
“I’m not running away from an argument. I’m walking away from a row.”
“Oh, great, bloody typical. You nit-pick at words to avoid the real issue. Still, if you must, take the dog.”
The dog yapped. Its voice, hopeful.
Together they walked briskly down the lane and into the wood. This was where she sought comfort, a measure of tranquillity.
She knew those trees, their forms, their stories. Each had grown straight, or bent, as access to the light had determined. Some had split or even fallen and yet had managed regrowth. There were signs of spring already and the dog yammered. Its voice excited. Its efforts to experience everything at once were frantic. As ever, it was living in the moment.
That was the problem in her marriage. She couldn’t forgive the past, trust her husband not to jeopardise again what they had in his constant push for a better future. Once, when younger and newly in love they had lived gloriously happy in a forever present, A present, a gift.
There I go again, she thought. He’s right. I play with words. Let them take over. She remembered the last thing her father had ever said to her, sitting on a bench overlooking a sunlit bay. ”Sometimes, my love, it is hard to see the wood for the trees. But it pays to try.” She had wondered then where that advice had come from. There was not a wood in view. Just wind-cropped bare headland.
She admired the trees; their resilience, their usefulness, embodiments of hope. But they were rooted. To sell up now, pull up her roots and go north. That was what Paul wanted her to do.
Pushing away the prospect, she closed her eyes and made herself listen to the dog snuffling and scuffling in last autumn’s leaves, the creak of branches, birdcall and song, flutter and scuttle.
Mindful at last of her own calm breathing, she returned to the matter. If she refused Paul would stay, she felt sure. But at what cost? Which of them could better cope with frustration, by slant and twist withstand the prevailing wind.
She was at it again. People were not trees. Ridiculous wordplay. Argument by analogy. Always to be distrusted. But yet, if she and husband were trees their marriage was like the wood, an environment they created and defined which in its turn nurtured them.
The dog was yapping again. Its voice demanding.
She walked again, throwing sticks for the dog, letting herself live in its present. She had arrived at an answer. She would have liked to tell her father that when the trees block your view of the wood, you can still listen to it.
The Witch and the Woods
By Anastasia Gammon
There were once two lovers. They loved each other madly, but their families forbade them from seeing each other, so every night they met in the woods outside of town, where no one would find them. The lovers didn’t know they were being watched.
There was a witch, who lived in the woods. She watched the lovers meet, day after day, and heard them talk of their love for each other, of how they longed to be together, forever. The witch came up with a plan.
The witch appeared to the lovers one day and, though they were scared at first, when the witch told them she knew a way they could be together forever in the woods, they listened. The two lovers gave themselves to the witch and to the woods.
The witch turned the two lovers into trees, tiny saplings at first, but soon they were the tallest trees in the woods that grew vast around them. The trees grew so close together that their roots crossed under the ground and their branches twisted together, until no one quite knew where one tree ended and the other began.
Over time, the witch’s kind gesture was forgotten, but her actions were not. They became as twisted in the telling as the branches of the lovers’ trees. The townspeople warned their children not to disobey their parents, lest the witch turn them into trees too. The witch became a ghost story to the local children and the two intertwined trees became only trees, but the lovers never forgot what the witch had done for them, and the witch spent the rest of her days caring for the two large oak trees in the middle of the woods.
One day, a boy came to the woods. He loved a local girl and, to show his love, he promised to carve their initials into the bark of the lovers’ trees. He did not believe the story he had been told of the lovers and the witch. It had been so long, no one believed the story any more.
The boy pressed his knife to the trunk of one of the ancient trees, but before he could break the two lovers’ wooden skin, a scream rattled the leaves that surrounded him. The boy fell back and was caught in the vines of the ivy that protected the trees. The witch appeared before him and the boy lashed out, drawing blood with his knife.
At the drop of the witch’s blood, the two old trees groaned to life. Reaching out their branches, they took the boy, and dragged him down, into the dirt, among the moss and mud, until he was buried beneath their roots.
The lovers had learned to protect themselves, and it was their turn now to protect the witch.
Words in the Wood
By Karen Ouzman
My earliest memories are of a wood. I was five when we moved to a house backing onto a wood. Father was away in the Navy and Mother home-schooled my twin brothers, aged ten. I played in the nursery until lunch-time. Then Mother gave us a picnic basket and flasks of hot soup before collapsing on the sofa with a cold compress or a hot-water bottle and a drink. We went into the woods.
Jamie and Andy climbed trees, dragged fallen branches over streams and built camps. After the carpet men had been, we waterproofed our dens with old lino. I liked the camps and I swept out stray leaves with a leafy branch and arranged stones at the entrance. I wandered about within sight of the boys and I named things of interest.
When my father came home he carried me into the wood shoulder-high, but everything up there was unfamiliar and I begged him to put me down so I could show him the stingers and scratchers that I had learnt to avoid; the elfin cups and the tiny wooden balls the elves played football with; the peeling tree which had skin that came away easily and showed creepy crawlies underneath. He joined in my game and gave me smooth grey bark, craggy bark and stripy bark to add in.
He shared our picnic in our den and told us how proud he was of us. One day he climbed a smoothbark and inched out along a stout branch and slung a rope round it to make a rope swing. If we ran up the bank with it and jumped suddenly onto it, we could swing far out over the dell. But I was too small. So, the next day he rigged up one for me and made the boys promise not to take the rope for den building.
After he left Mother became very poorly. Often there were no lessons. Leaves were falling, the days shortening, and we grew wilder in all that we dared in the wood.
Then Jamie fell from the swing. Fell and lay still. Andy told me stay with him and tell him stories and then he ran home. I sat with Jamie. I held his hand, smeared with dirt and black under the nails and it felt cold. So, I heaped leaves over him to keep him warm. I sang songs. He did not move.
Then Mother was screaming at me, flinging me away, and telling me I had buried him, and he was not dead. I curled up under old grey bark and sobbed.
Jamie was not dead. He spent a week in hospital and Dad came home and then the boys went to boarding school and I started at the Infants. I was known as the silent child. I had no words, they said. From the nature table I learnt the names of trees; oak, ash, beech, birch, hazel and holly. But I never went into the woods again.
INTO THE WOODS 2
By Anna Selvey
‘Woods’, she said, holding up a looping bramble for me to pass under, ‘Are always seething with ghosts. Don’t you think?’
I did, but not as she meant. I’d been here so long, walked this path so often I sometimes had the feeling I might meet myself in the woods - the one from yesterday, or last year.
She sighed. ‘I love thinking of the days when lovers did their courting among the trees, don’t you? All those ‘Early one morning’ folk songs about setting out in May’. A pause, to stoop for a good stick, flamboyantly furred with lichen. ‘I think it’s that particular smell when you stand up from a nice roll around - crushed nettles, bruised ramsons and so on - oh, that heady wine of bluebells. And we can breathe it now, just as it was then’.
But now was September, and the summer had ended violently the night before, with a warm equinoctial gale. Ancient trees were down, their poor naked roots worming and the wind still hurling round the sharp smells of ripped ivy and raw earth. Torn limbs bled sap.
‘Those beautiful words that seem to live in woodland shadows,’ she said. ‘Bosky’, ‘gloaming’, ‘dimpsy’.’ They’re slipping away, and with them all those young lovers and gatherers. ‘‘Acorn’, ‘filbert’, ‘sloe’’, she said. ‘And the science words too - ‘deciduous’, ‘germinate’ ... oh! .... ‘cicatrix’!’
Scarred bark. They all leave their traces, the others in the woods; small wounds on the land that remember them: the tractor driven in off the daffodil fields and left to sink into the leaves; the rope swing slung over the high beech branch by boys one effortful afternoon; human traces, like scents, for the next woodlanders to catch.
‘I used to come here with him’. I knew this, of course. She stopped; found my eyes for the first time. ‘You know how, when you’re walking in woods, your eyes are down, to avoid tripping over roots or landing in puddles?’
We skirted a tangled ivy bomb, exploded on the path.
‘He stopped me once, right here, with a kiss- it actually was on a morning in May! - and said, ‘Look up!’ I did and saw that the long beech trunks grew up and over us like the ceiling ribs of a cathedral, their new leaves backlit by sun to the brightest of greens, shifting with the breeze. The stained glass of the woods, the birdsong our hymn’.
I knew what she wanted me to understand and instead I said, ‘Woods aren’t haunted - that’s just our narcissism. It’s ourselves we meet in them, and ourselves we are looking for. Trees don’t listen - they’re only attentive to each other - they’re entirely indifferent to our petty dramas.’
The afternoon was darkening fast, the deep shadows seething where the branches thrashed above. The last time I saw her face it was shining with tears, caught in the red light of the setting sun, brief as a cloud spun by. He had gone and she was going with him.
The Lonely Walk
“are they real deer or are they the ghost of all the deer that have gone before?”
I said “how are we ever supposed to know that?”
Then I said “unless you get close up to them you can’t tell if they are real. You need to touch them I think. Or find their footprints; droppings”.
I tried to emphasise the full stop at the end of that sentence. She said to me
“real deer are ghost-like.
I’ve never seen a ghost”
“well, you might have” I said “if you’d seen the ghost of a deer you would probably think it was an actual deer, or group of ghost-deer, you know, hanging out in the woods, silently stalking all the real deer”.
“maybe” she said
“maybe the deer are the only ones that can tell.
So maybe if ghost-deer are afraid of everything else except actual deer, so actual deer only ever get close enough to ghosts to find out that they are not made of ‘real’ stuff, fur and bone and flesh and all that.
I don’t know how to describe the stuff that deer are made from.
When she said ‘real’ she made quotation marks in the air. Her hands were white with cold and made blurring movements like wings around her pale face which stood out against the forested darkness.
I couldn’t help but say “what if real deer are so spooked, they have never verified the reality of the others. Real deer run away from ghost-deer. They’ve never tried to touch one. Or, if they’re not scared the ghost-deer live among them. Either way it makes no difference. We still can’t tell.”
“Anyway, real deer can’t talk, so they can’t tell us if they find out.
Even if they have a special deerish way of knowing.
Besides deer are scared of us” she said.
Not looking at me but looking into the woods.
“oh, okay, deer have a ghost-sensor?”
“yeah, maybe” she said.
“what would be the evolutionary benefit of that? Also, how would we ever prove it unless we recognise it in their behaviour first and I can’t remember what I was going to say…”.
She was thinking and walking next to me on the stony path. It was wide enough. She was taller than me now.
“Mum…?” she said.
My phone rang. The sound was absorbed by a thick mattress of forest needles.
Fallen year on year as these trees grew taller; closer together, creating their own atmosphere of hollow, owlish and feathery warmth when frost and snow covered the fields glimpsed in the brightness beyond.
I struggled to pull the phone from my pocket, dropping a white tissue. My finger was so cold the screen wouldn’t respond to my touch. A human finger – I thought. I rubbed my hands briskly.
Agitated, I remembered what I was going to say, “how then, do we know if another human is a ghost or not?”
“hello” she said “Mum?”
Sunday 28th April 2019
10:30am - 5:30pm | Cardinham Woods
Don't miss this very special family friendly, one-day festival of storytelling in Cardinham Woods.
Discover and explore the wonder of words through stories, poetry, readings, discussions and trails. take part in special events and hands on activities for all ages, from the very young to the young at heart.
Spend the day with us, making stories, telling tales and taking part in fun and games in the wonderful world of words.
While you're here, why not take a walk or cycle around one of the beautiful trails at Cardinham Woods? You could stop and enjoy a delicious lunch, or a hot drink and slice of cake at the Woods Cafe, or bring a picnic to enjoy by the river.
Family ticket £15 | Adults £7 | Children (3-16) £3.
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