Recently, I launched a short story competition at Sidney Stringer Academy in Coventry, where I'm Patron of Reading. The competition had the theme of 'Miniature'.
There was a good reason for this theme. Miniatura - the people who bring together the world's best miniature artisans for their shows held every spring and autumn, are keen to encourage young people to read and write more.
Miniatura very kindly sponsored me with £50 worth of W H Smith vouchers and 5 delightful 1/12th scale miniature books made by Dateman Books.
Year 7 students took part and had just one week to create their story. I was very impressed by their work. It was a really difficult task in picking the winners from the many entries, but in the end, the prizes were awarded to:
I’m delighted to share their stories with you:
By Haneef Bailey
Until the crash of Air France Flight 4590 in 2000, the Concorde SST had been considered among the world's safest planes. The crash of the Concorde contributed to the end of the aircraft's career.
I am a miniature Concorde that was witness to the crash of flight 4590. From the time of my creation by a British Aviation company, I prided myself on my very unique and sophisticated design. My design was evolved in collaboration with a French company.
We were a turbojet powered supersonic airliner used to fly passengers at twice the speed of sound at Mach 2.04 equivalent to 1354 mph at cruise altitude.
The aircraft was used mainly by wealthy passengers who could afford to pay a high price in exchange for Concorde's speed and luxury service.
Air France Flight 4590 was carrying 100 passengers and 9 crew members when one of its engines caught fire and it crashed into a hotel 9 minutes into the flight. I heard the cries of the passengers and the chaos among the crew members as the aircraft caught fire. Before this episode, I had nothing but pride in my heart for the sleek design that myself and my Concorde mates were known for. However, having witnessed the destruction and death and agony caused, I felt that nothing is made to last forever and that destiny sometimes overrides all human efforts.
I can still hear the cries of women and children in my mind and the only relief I have is that after this incident in 2003, this majestic aircraft was no longer being manufactured and that I don't have to witness another human tragedy like this.
I have come to learn that no one can overcome the invincible power of destiny and that there's no real compensation for human suffering caused by failures of human technology.
* * *
A Bad Day
By Maryam Hussain.
It was late at night, I’d had a bad day at school and my mom screamed at me. I was just so annoyed. It was the last day of school before the summer holidays started and it was the most horrific day I’ve ever experienced.
I wish I’d just turn into a small person and stay away from everyone and everything. It was just too much for me to handle all at once. Since it was getting pretty late, I decided to go sleep and get rid of all the stress.
One hour later I was still awake because I was just thinking about all the things that had happened. All of the bad things that had happened were just replaying in my head again and again. The worst part of the day was when I fell and dropped my lunch on one of my friends and then I puked and ran.
I decided to watch some Youtube on my laptop thinking that would help me go to sleep. At around 3 am I decided it was actually getting late and I needed to go to sleep. I woke up at around 2 pm and I felt like I was drowning in my bed. Everything was massive.
So many thoughts were running through my mind. Then I realised I’d wished to turn small and it actually happened!
I decided to get out of my bed but I was so high up. And if I needed to get down I would need a ladder. It was like bungee jumping.
After 20 minutes of figuring out how to get off the bed I was finally off it. Then I thought what clothes am I gonna wear because everything was too big for me. So I decided to wear my doll’s dresses. They fitted perfectly.
I went to the bathroom and I went to the sink and had a bath in there as the actual bath would be too big for me. I dried myself with a miniature hand towel. Then off I went to go eat a bean for breakfast. It filled me up as the bean was so big. I could not reach the table, so I had to put a sugar cube down to eat my food. Even though sugar cubes are small, for me it was colossal. I didn’t really know what to do because I was too small to do nearly everything.
It was really hot that day too. I got a sponge and then I filled up a container with water and I surfed in that and it was pretty big. I had so much fun!
It was 8 o’clock now and I was tired after surfing. I got some supplies and tried to make a miniature bed so I was not drowning in my actual bed. It didn’t work. Then I realised being small wasn’t that good. I wish I could be big again. I went to sleep in my big bed as the small one didn't work.
I woke up and I was big again! I was so happy! I could wear my own clothes, have a proper breakfast and a proper shower. I shouldn’t take things for granted.
* * *
By Mwanakombo Mohamedi
I am a spider. I am a rather small spider. A black spider too. Now that I think about it, I’m a bit different from the other spiders – my webs are more frail, I am a darker shade of black and I’m small compared to the other spiders.
I like to think of myself as a special spider, different from the rest and maybe even better. My webs being frailer doesn’t put me off making them though. I like making my webs – I can customise my home to my style.
My webs gleam and shimmer, they are woven with the utmost care and they catch the most flies. As you may have gathered, I was proud of my webs as though a father would be of his son.
Today, I decided to make my web on a fence; I don’t normally make webs in fences because they don’t catch too many flies but this time I wasn’t after flies; I was after a good view of the sunset – I was still stuffed from my last meal. I knew I shouldn’t have made a web on the fence. I knew this fence was familiar. I’d forgotten why I hadn’t made a web on this particular garden fence – the mischievous kitten!
Now, normally cats aren’t too much trouble but this specific one was – too much trouble. It was a black and white kitten – barely a cat – with blue eyes like the dew drops that settled on my webs at dawn. It was especially scary because it was curious – too curious for its own good: I know the humans say, “curiosity killed the cat” but in this case, curiosity almost killed the spider. The point is, this cat is trouble, especially for me.
I was minding my own business, admiring nature’s beauty and when it came out of nowhere. Sniff, sniff, sniffing around near my web. Obviously, my first thought was to run but I couldn’t do that! To abandon one of my finest pieces? No, I had to stay. That was my mistake though – the same mistake that almost got me killed.
I was almost trampled to death, but luckily my attacker stepped on a thorn, a thorn to which I owe my life; it got caught in the kitten’s paw. I wasn’t ready for the cat’s next move: one second, the kitten was padding along silently until it brought out its killer weapon – its claws. It flailed around looking for its attacker but when the cat realised that there wasn’t actually an attacker, it slinked off scowling although it was mewing piteously.
I was saved! But the kitten would be back – it never stayed away for long and so I had to find a new home. And eventually I did: in a cosy little hole with a perfect view of the sunset. The sunset was absolutely stunning with vibrant shades of ruby-red, amber and soft shades of sapphire from the night before. My cat problem was solved, I was saved – for now at least.
* * *
By Sadia Rana
“Have a good night, sweetheart,” was all Cassandra heard whilst she trotted up the creaky old wooden stairs. She opened her room’s door and fell onto the comfy bed, tucking herself in.
She would have to wait.
The click of her mother’s heels up the stairs alerted Cassandra; she squeezed her hazel eyes closed, turned her head and stayed still. The door groaned open, illuminating the girly pink room with light. Peering through, her mother checked on the child – she thought Cassie was asleep. Seeming somewhat satisfied, the door gradually shut: she was left in complete darkness.
Tip-toeing out of her bed, Cassie glimpsed at the door, almost expecting her stern parent to be standing there. Steadily, the short girl crawled underneath her bed. The adventure was about to begin.
Instantly, the all too familiar tingling sensation took over her body. The exhilarating feeling coursed through her veins like cold water on a hot day.
She was tiny.
“Hello there,” greeted one of the Tusnas in a nasally voice.
“Hi,” Cassandra smiled back, taking in its features; it had such unique eyes, green like poison ivy; a gorgeous pair of wings like a butterfly; an adorable petite frame and an elegant purple-petalled dress. It was accompanied by a cute little Trivian, which was a bit like a puppy, but with huge eyes and grass as fur.
Skipping past them, trees towered over her as vibrant flowers sang up at her cheerfully – it was music to her ears! This land was so enchanting. Even the community was ever so joyful. Cassie was about to join into their conversation when...
What was that? Everyone stopped dead in their tracks.
THUD, THUD, THUD!
Frightened mumbles rippled through the crowd, while some creatures were pointing: pointing behind her. Crossing her fingers, she slowly turned around, eyes bulging out of their sockets when she was face-to-face with a massive ginger cat. Her rat’s nest of auburn danced with the wind as she realised something. She had to run. Fast.
Deafening stomps shook the ground as Cassandra ran. Hurriedly, she attempted to retrace her steps. It was hard to concentrate since bellowing meows pained her eardrums. Alas, she reached a realm of nothingness, pitch-black like the night’s sky. Heat rose to her pale face. Would she have to run? She glanced behind her, seeing a shroud of long fur: she’d definitely have to run.
“Ouch!” Cassie muttered, rubbing her sore head. She crawled back out from under her bed. Thank God! She was back home. Sighing, she noticed a large shadow through her blinds – almost like a… paw?
* * *
By Zaynab Khalifa
Rosewood was a large town. A large town with secrets lurking in each and every inch of every street. Within the streets lay a mystery in the form of Skye, 14. What a pretty name is the thought that may come. That is true however it belonged to an ugly heart of a cyberbully.
The story with the horrid message that was sent saying that the ‘it’ girl Cheryl Blossom was ‘tiny’. Cheryl had been familiar with despair caused by others; however, this stained her heart.
Then the beautiful day after, terrible terror struck in the form of lightning for Skye. As the lightning bolt hit, her fate was sealed. Her fate being that she would be the size of an almond for eternity.
Just like the wind, the transformed girl ran home weeping. Nobody was at home, so Skye used her little legs to climb up the door and go through the postbox. It was surreal as each crumb provided a full meal. She regained confidence to show herself in school.
She set foot around school with pride and happiness. However, that sense of pride got lost in the staring and muttering. Skye went under doors seeing all her friends and relating how she felt. Lunch came. The horror had came.
Cheryl Blossom picked Skye up with her crimson nails and chucked her around like a rag doll and tossed towards the bin. Her best friend, Sheri, came just in time to save her and took her to her parents. Her parents shared the mindset of keeping shame away from the family. This caused them to freak out!
‘I’m ashamed of you!!’ exclaimed Skye’s mum.
Skye sobbed for hours as she felt lost without the support of her parents. Sheri’s parents were the same. They did not help her. Unfortunately, this meant Skye had to find a find a bed under random bus shelters.
Nights turned to weeks. No one took a second glance at her. No help. Alone. Suddenly, Skye felt a spark rush through her veins. She felt brave to talk to her parents. Her words were coming back to haunt her. She began to feel pain as she was walking to her parents’ place.
The words she taunted others with began to appear on her skin. Everyone who saw her now knew what she was capable of. This is what she carried with her forever.
Skye began to regret her actions. But was this for the benefit of others or just for herself? No regret could change the impact on others. Skye fled away from the problems she caused thinking they would go away. She was nowhere to be seen.
Later, her parents came to their senses and tried to look for Skye – but it was too late...
* * *
Well done to all the students who entered the competition – every single story was read with pleasure.
For more details of our sponsors, Miniatura, please go to: www.miniatura.co.uk
Their next show takes place at the Birmingham NEC on 22nd & 23rd September 2018. Tickets available from their website.