We are pleased to announce the winners of the Library’s Creative Writing Competition 2023! Students and staff were invited to enter their poems and short stories centred around the theme of ‘Escape’.
Congratulations to all of our winners and well done to all who took part. The winners are listed below. Please click on each one to view their winning literary masterpieces in full.
Drip, Drip, Drip, that’s all I hear,
In this decrepit basement no one shall hear.
A scream, a shout or even a whisper,
No one can hear the cries of this mister.
But that’s when I heard it, the creak of the door,
Who could it be? the captor, I’m sure.
Well, this is it, my time is up for I, the missing mister, have given up.
And there he was, the man with a big stature,
It seems he has got himself another capture.
This time a kid, no more than eight,
This is it, no more, this is my time to escape.
But I need to think of a plan, and make it quick,
I need to make off with me and this kid.
But how do I do it? Where do I go?
How do I locate around somewhere I don’t know.
No, no more, I can’t take it,
I need to unbind myself, get up and hope I can make it.
The man left the room, it’s just me and the child,
And that’s when it happened, something so very wild.
The ropes that kept me bound to this seat, suddenly became loose around my feet,
Was this luck? Was this chance? Was this god giving me a helping hand?
Well, whatever this was, I won’t let it go to waste,
I stood up, smashed the chair, until it was only left with its base.
Completely untied, completely freed,
I went over to the child, untied them and ran off with them and with glee,
But then came our next obstacle, the ominous door,
the one of which I stared at whilst on the basement floor.
With no hesitation, I slammed it with all my might,
as I couldn’t dare live in here yet another night,
Then I heard footsteps, one of a man,
the one who had put me here, the one who had shoved me in their van.
The door swung open, narrowly missing me, I had no choice, I had to defend myself whilst also defending the child right beside me.
The large man took a sudden swing, so I ducked, pushed his leg, causing him to tumble down the stairs right behind me.
Could he be dead? Could he be knocked out? No matter what it was, I pushed on, ignoring my doubt.
Still shrouded in darkness, I moved throughout the house, still grasping the child who is as quiet as a mouse.
And there it was, the front door, with a key inside it, with a device attached to it that had the ability of opening a car door.
Oh, how it felt, the world looking up to me, I ran out the front door and used the device to open the vehicle right beside me.
Without a second thought, I put my foot down on the clutch, put the car in first gear, oh what was this luck!
And there it was, thank God, I was finally saved, but not of the child, as rather he was one who I had only imagined in my thirsty daze.
When Ellis noticed that it wasn’t his grandma at the end of the cord he was disappointed. He felt he’d let her down. It should be a new beginning but without her it didn’t seem the same. Ellis was grateful for her sacrifice. However he couldn’t come to terms with his destiny. How could he be happy when his grandma was left in the mysterious sink-hole?
Ellis ate one of potatoes which were in the grandma’s box and decided to rescue her. He knew he could build a new vehicle for traveling in both directions. Ellis started looking for useful items. The more items he found, the more hope he had for saving her. The days and weeks went by. The vehicle wasn’t ready yet. He started to worry about her. What if he was too late? Ellis rid himself of the bad thoughts and focused on his goal. He worked harder than before.
After a couple of months the vehicle was ready. Ellis was proud of his work. Not wasting more time he sat in his plane and started the rescue journey. The way back wasn’t easy. Avoiding rocks and debris weren’t the only difficulties he encountered. His mind was full of memories. It looked like a tunnel with pictures and short videos from the whole of his life in the hole.
Finally, Ellis landed in the place where he used to live. He started looking for his grandmother. However he couldn’t find her. The hole looked worse than before. There was much more rubbish and his old house was gutted. Ellis ran to the building, opened the main door and went into the room.
At the beginning he didn’t see anything that would help him to find grandma. Suddenly, he noticed someone’s hand hanging from the dilapidated couch. He came closer and saw his grandma. She was so weak. Holding her hand he helped her to move to the vehicle. When they both were inside his grandma looked into his eyes. “You shouldn’t have come back here” she said.
“I couldn’t leave you here”, he replied. “You were always by my side and I owe everything to you. The better place was our dream and you should be there with me.” He started the vehicle.
I sprinted towards the plane, my heart pounding like a drumbeat in my chest! The engines roared like a ferocious beast, and I could feel the heat from the burning fuel on my skin.
I glanced over my shoulder, and my heart sank as I saw my past catching up with me… The only way out was up in the sky, and I had to board that plane.
As I stepped onto the metal steps, | felt a surge of adrenaline rush through me. The roar of the engines grew louder as I made my way down the aisle. My eyes darted around the cabin, taking in the smell of jet fuel mixed with the scent of sweat and anxiety. My stomach churned with nerves. I knew I was taking a risk, but it was a risk I had to take.
“Take it easy my dear’… said the petite old African lady, with purulent skin like the Sahara Desert, spoke with immersed vernacular, sat across from me.
Sorry! I sighed. Are you referring to me? I asked with such perplexed gaze and remonstrated smirk. The reason for my escape was simple: I couldn’t take it anymore! The constant pressure, the expectations, the suffocating feeling of being trapped in a life that wasn’t mine…
I needed to break free, to spread my wings and fly towards a new horizon.
As the plane took off, I felt the weight of the world lift off my shoulders. I looked out the window and watched as the world below shrank to a tiny speck. I took a deep breath of contentment and smiled. The future was filled with endless possibilities, and I was ready to explore them all!
This was my chance to start over, to rewrite my story with a fresh start, and leave my past behind.
It was over. I began wondering why my parents were both home so early when my mother howled through the open window ’One day I’ll just leave the whole lot of you. You’ll all die without me!’
The familiar jolt of fear surged through my tiny conductor – my ribcage could barely control the current.
It was only 5pm in the evening. It was a cold, grey day in late November; the wind lashed through the trees, brining a granite sky and a mizzling bout of rain with it.
My brother, weighed down with a school bag of almost bigger than himself, was chewing his ingrown nails. He looked up at me for an answer: ‘What should we do?’ I, being only a head taller than him, with my missing front tooth and blue sherbet-stained mouth, had to make a mature decision.
I felt my spine spasm into a debilitating paralysis. Ig we went inside now, they could turn their anger on us, or worse, use us as leverage in the argument – when you’re desperate to shift the blame, you’ll latch on to anything. I jumped as I imagined us standing there between them, incapacitated by the loud words and feeling as insignificant as air. I stopped. I stopped for a moment from thinking. I tried to close my thoughts… But if we stayed outside and waited for them to calm down, we’d get into trouble for coming home late and that would spark a different inferno. Besides, wed get wet because the rain doesn’t want to stop.
At that moment I loathed my stupid parents, and I loathed myself for loathing them.
‘I think we should go inside…’ said my brother while staring firmly at the ground.
‘No, Luke, let’s wait. They’re too busy fighting to know we are not home.’ I pleaded while I looked at him and noticed that the little crease between his dark eyebrows became deeper and his blue eyes started misting up.
‘Do you know what?’, I said again with a tremor in my voice.
‘What?’, looking at me with his eyes wide open. ‘Let’s escape!’
We’ve been waiting for the rain to stop all night, hiding in the attic of the house. We managed to get out by 7am in the morning. The thumping noise of our footsteps disturbed the silence within the neighbourhood. We started to run. We wanted to get away. We had to get away.
As we got closer to the train station, our flush faces invited the cold drizzle to commence falling from the gloomy sky above us. My mind revisits the past weeks and tears try to escape from my sore, tired eyes. My brother’s exhausted legs collapse as we settle down into the darkness of the station, waiting for the train to arrive. It’s been a long night.
I lowered my head, so I could contemplate what to do next. ‘My brother’s life depends on me…’, I whispered to myself.
Finally, I saw the lights. The train lights approaching. I lifted my heavy head to the sky, wishing I could somehow see the sun, but it was useless. The only lights I could savour was the ones on the train. Eventually, there was no time to waste. I took my brother and got up into the train. The sunrise was only an hour away. So I could appreciate it later on, we claimed both window seats and sat down. The seats themselves seemed ancient, a thin layer of dust rests on the worn-out leather, with little rips of white seeping out of the gaps.
The trained started moving abruptly, and the immediate clashing of the steel wheels against the railway tracks echoed loudly through the train compartment. The sky was still gloomy and cloudy but the ray of happiness that shone from myself, made an overwhelming difference.
I let my mind wander – it went through paths and hallways and such until a picture was embedded into my mind, that of a new life which will soon begin. Then, I looked at my brother, who had fallen asleep. I took his hand into mine and I whispered softly, ‘Everything is fine. We are free now. I promise.’
There are those who want to escape the realms of the past, and there are those who just try to hide behind their shadows. I was not born a princess with a spoon of gold in my mouth, but an orphan inside a cage without barriers, and orphan of my past that follows me wherever I turn.
I was eight years old when I tried for the first time to taste the taste of joy. Yes, I felt happy because the housing manager enrolled me in a course to learn sewing. I didn’t expect it to be a course that would make me a bird with broken wings.
I begged for my freedom a lot, in vain. I ended up moving from my residential home to the rehabilitation home under the accusation that I was the victim of it. I’m the one whose right was lost within the walls of falsehood.
I contemplated and found myself inside a room whose colours one pain; its colours are sadness; and its walls are hearts of stone.
I used to stay days and nights without food or drink. I used to live in the illusion of twinkling stars in the sky of the room. I close my eyes every night and live my imagination. The colours of the stars were drawing in the ceiling of my sky words of hope in my heart and mind.
Then one morning, the door to pain opened. The only door leading me into my room, which had four walls full of fear. An old woman was standing, holding an iron tray with some bread and water.
But for the first time, instead of the ringing and crackling of the tray, I heard a human voice. The old employee did not respect the blessing of the food and threw the food on the floor. I often ate bread mixed with water, convincing myself that it was celeriac, the delicious children’s food that my friend in the orphanage prescribed to me.
This woman continued to bring food, and the music that settled in my ears every morning in my memory changed from a sense of fear to waiting for food eagerly so that I could feel her presence. Her voice was like the voice of a mother, and aunt or perhaps a grandmother who was exhausted by life.
The lines of age filled its features, each line in its secrets, a hundred stories.
For the first time in months, I went through my days without feeling hungry. I got used to the walls of the room, and I got used to my sense of security. Behind this feeling was the old lad who treated me not as a prisoner, but as child, or perhaps she saw we as her granddaughter. I think there is a sense of compassion behind this treatment.
I tried to get close to her once, I whispered in her ear, ‘I have no place to run to except your warm embrace.’ She replied, ‘Escape is the cruelest thing in life. You are escaping from the prison of human justice to the prison of cruel nature. Do not try to escape, my daughter, as long as you are without support. Beware of escaping, because between the steps, alleys and paths, there are monsters.’ She then hugged me for the very first time.
I opened my eyes to someone opening the door forcefully, ordering me to go to the garden, and only then did I realise that I was in a dream that I wished I hadn’t woken up from. At the same time, I sighed optimistically, as this was the first time I had left my unit in my room.
The air and the sky was clean, but my heart was full of anxiety, that prevented me from enjoying my moments outside the call. I didn’t know the value of ten minutes outside until it ended with a fire alarm. The calm turned into a noise mixed between the screams of the prisoners and the fear of the birds above the trees.
I could feel their crying and fear. Their wings were enough to confront the power of the flames of fire it claimed hundreds of lives.
A few seconds were enough to destroy the place. The place turned in to a deadly darkness. The smell of blood dominated the air. Breath was cut off, and the alarm sound stopped, turning in to cheers of the children stuck inside with the hand-hearted employees.
I pulled the keys from one of the dead guards and ran towards the children, stumbling in fear, trying to avoid stepping on the wounded. The chambers of death were opened for them to sleep in the hope of life. The fire was radiant, its flames sufficient to swallow all their hopes of escaping, but their adherence to life was stronger. They succeeded in escaping.
But as the old woman said, ‘Where to escape?’
We don’t have a home to shelter us and we don’t have a father or mother to protect us!
As if it was the beginning of a hurricane, war or perhaps even the end of the world.
Twenty minutes later, ambulances and firefighters arrived. They succeeded in extinguishing the prison fire, but they failed to prevent the deep burns, in the hearts of the innocent children. Children whose only sin was that they were orphans.
We fled from the fire to the narrow road without clothes, without food, without shelter. We were already orphaned from our parents, but today we became orphans of our unhappy past, which was devoured by the ferocity of the flames with remorse.
Suddenly a voice whispered in my ear, ‘Run away before the officials arrive. As soon as they arrive, they will take you to new rehabilitation home. A new prison.’
I didn’t look behind me, not for a moment. I started running like lightning, despite the fear and exhaustion. I didn’t get weak; I didn’t feel despair.
The trees were the fans chanting my name in a race against the clock. In a race for me towards my freedom. My only goal was to get away, to leave.
I want to leave the ashes of my memories behind without returning, without thinking about its downsides on the consequences of my escape, I succeeded in escaping.
And here I am today, a woman whose only concern is to help orphaned or abandoned children. The owner of the largest association for the protection of children in all of the British Isles.
Thanks to God first and my will and determination, which were the biggest key to my success.
Without forgetting the great role and support that the old woman gave me when she decided to adopt me. And she becomes my mother who did not give birth to me, but she gave me true love and a sense of security.
The biggest achievement in my life became my escape from my past and my adherence to my present, by brining joy and happiness to the largest number of children, and supporting them psychologically and financially to reach the safety and success.
Mounia Chatir, Children’s City Director
The time has come…
She knew nothing was easy but making the right decision was more exhausting than she thought. She wanted to be free, free like a soaring bird in the blue, bright sky with new beginnings and hopes on her wings.
Beside all of this excitement, something was squeezing her timid heart. The pain was seizing her entire body and suffering was getting unbearable. She asked herself ‘Why?’
‘What are you running from?’
Of course, it wasn’t the best location to answer this kind of deep question. Early in the foggy morning, she was sitting on the razor sharp, cold bench. Shivering until her hands were frozen as concrete.
How could she find the answers? The empty, devoid train station was like a graveyard. There was an insane silence. So much that she could hear her own inner voice, as if it was coming from outside.
Just as she was burning herself with frightful thoughts, she was startled by the train which was passing fast like lightning.
Shortly after she could sense another train was approaching quietly. It stopped gently and opened its door kindly. This was her expected train to freedom and her feet were desperate to do the first step.
When she was ready to get from where she was sitting, suddenly a hand grabbed her shoulders from behind. Without revolting, her heart instantly knew who it was. The left side of her chest immediately felt a sharp, stabbing pain. Her mind was caught in a storm and my eyes begged for release.
Now she was freezing on the inside as much as the outside. She was crushed like a dry leaf under the hands that touched her soul. But even then, she did not make a sound – she wrapped herself with this deafening silence and sealed her mouth shut.
Her hands did not say a word either. They understood her darkness and began to slide slowly from her fragile shoulders. Without giving a second possibility, she spread her wings and jumped on the train.
Well, actually under the train…
There was no turning back. She was gone eternally. The hand on her shoulders were her own hands that could not persuade her to return to a happy, cheerful life.
She chose to end her existence and escaped from this life to another. She didn’t realise that day by day she was slowly leaving this world.
She didn’t know how hungry she was for love. She was always smiling; nobody noticed her demise from inside.
You know why?
Because she never complained, they thought her silence was happiness.
But no. Not every silence means glee. Please don’t be self-centred, egoistic and pay attention to those around you. She may not be here physically, but I want to tell her. ‘I love you to the marrow of my bone and will always carry your innocent soul in my broken heart.’
Surrounded by silence
Imprisoned… no sound
People not talking
Just wondering around.
An ocean of knowledge
Wave upon wave
So much to remember
So much to save.
But I desire noise
Music in my life
To make the day better
To take away strife.
But here I was trapped
Within these walls
How to escape?
Oh what a fool.
Where should I go?
To make my escape?
What should I do?
What should I take?
But my prayers were answered
Salvation is in sight
Exit the Library
First on the right!
The following students also submitted work which was highly commended and given special recognition by Library staff, thank you for taking the time to enter and well done for creating such brilliant responses to the theme. All participants will receive a free book, courtesy of The Reading Agency’s World Book Night initiative.
Albert L. Stone Muni Mohamud Fati Salifu Saul Ncube Anna Watts Jessica Barnes Mossy Vuai Amankona Asamoah Eva Rourke Grant Bremner Millicent Antwi Daria Wielemborek
Albert L. Stone
Doreen Fummey Abimbola Ajayi Julia Tomaszewska Sila Hammon Abigail Wirekoah Orgeta Balla Gurleen Mahil Mita Begum Benny Danso Daniel Weston Jamal Fritzsche Gabriela Petrescu
Melanie Rogers Chloe Lancaster Saoirse O’Reilly Elizabeth Ingleby-Valentine Blue Hamed Abdul Nawabi Mohammed Omer Abed Veaceslav Paterau Kit Boardman Olesja Gruznova Level 2 Make-up Artistry Class Booth Lane Foundation Learning Group
Mohammed Omer Abed
Level 2 Make-up Artistry Class
Booth Lane Foundation Learning Group