OUR STUDENTS ARE WRITERS TOO.
Here I want to congratulate 7 students from 1 L1 and L2 who entered a difficult competition organised by Paper Planes Publishers. Students could write on their own or in pairs and had to write a short-story, a poem or a non-fiction essay. They worked on their texts from November to March, sometimes starting all over again when they were not satisfied. They heard my tips, edited their texts, sometimes even during their holidays. This was a huge work and they deserve your applause. I will publish their works throughout the summer.
Here is the first short-story:
The wind was blowing on the quiet city of Riga. Snowflakes gently danced down from the dark night sky, Christmas lights shone from everywhere as the delightful smell of gingerbread perfumed the air.
Escaping from outside’s aching cold, I entered a small inn where a blazing fire was burning in the hearth.
I made my way to the bar, ordered a coffee then looked around: apart from three men playing cards by the fire, the waitress and an old man sitting at the other end of the bar, the café was empty.
It was when I started sipping my drink that I overheard the conversation…
“He was barely fourteen.” the landlady told the old man.
It was none of my business, but I came out to blurt: “Who?”
“Oskar, the boy from the orphanage.” The man answered, looking blindly at his glass.
I nodded and turned back to my coffee. For sure it was none of my business; I didn’t know that Oskar boy anyways.
“He died of a broken heart, I think. Such a pity.” The landlady kept on while wiping the counter.
“I assume you mean a heart attack?” I interrupted her one more time.
She looked at me as if I had said the most unimaginable thing on earth and grinned back down to her work.
However, the old man started:
“It happened a few days ago. On Christmas Eve…”
There was no sound in the orphanage that evening, the children were all sleeping safely and soundly dreaming about the upcoming day, apart from one boy, Oskar.
He was sitting on the cold floor by the window, looking at the tremendous snowfield that stretched endlessly before his eyes; his square five-bedded room was empty. He was holding an old crumpled piece of paper in his hand, on which stood the only words that made his stranger’s past: Lūdzu, piedodiet man. Please forgive me.
Who had even given him this? Who had once been able to care enough to write it?
Stuck in the Absurd, and in between four yellow walls.
Maybe his mother had written it, he liked to think; it would make sense if it was her, but he couldn’t even remember her face. Now she was… they were all gone?
“Have you ever had that feeling of loving someone, who doesn’t love you back?”
The man asked me, breaking his narrative.
I looked at him and felt a smile in a corner of my lips: “I guess everyone once did. It’s no big deal.”
“Well Oskar had lived on with that feeling, though quite unsure of whom he actually loved.” He continued, ignoring my answer.
That night, he ran away from the establishment. He ran to Riga, crossing those fields of snow. He rushed through the capital’s streets in the winter night, with only his old shoes and poor coat on his back to keep him warm. He had time to wander in the whole city; he had time to see everything. Some said that though he looked quite lost, he seemed happy.
But how could they know?
With snow in his boots and red cold-sored cheeks, he stopped on a freezing bench to look at the star-sprinkled sky; and never stood up again.
The next day he was found lying still and cold there, his fist tightened around the small piece of paper.
The man marked a pause.
“Froze to death in my opinion.” I smirked.
The landlady looked, horrified, her jaw dropping, but the old man… he slowly stood up. I might have gone too far. I had definitely gone too far.
“Is it your reaction?” he asked
It came as a blow, my cheeks turning red and burning hot.
“Well then, after all it’s your opinion. May you or may you not live on with it.” He added before walking away and disappearing in the dark street.
However, as strange as it may seem, I decided to make my way to the orphanage the next day.
An old lady, worn out by time welcomed me. She was not, in any way, the dreadful, unpleasant orphanage woman we hear about in stories, I thought as she guided me to Oskar’s room. If I hadn’t been told, I would never have thought that children were actually living in this place: silent and drowsy, the rooms were only equipped with a few beds and a table, a sad place.
His own private space was in a corner in one of these rooms, near the window. How had he possibly been able to spend such a long time there, with loneliness devouring his heart?
“He didn’t speak much, but his look meant everything. He had big black velvet eyes, a bit like yours, sir.”
I nodded, a sudden wave of discomfort traversing my whole body, so I turned around to chase the feeling away and asked:
“No family? Relatives?”
“There are stories we are asked to keep untold...” she replied, glancing back at me.
Of course I wasn’t satisfied with her answer, but I was only a stranger to that story after all.
I was about to leave the room when the old lady stopped me.
“Ten years ago, a young woman brought him. The child’s father had left her and she had no money”
My heart throbbed, I shivered.
Her last words managed to knock me down:
“Her name was Anja Z…”
My legs felt so weak t I had to sit down. The lady grabbed my arm and helped me to a chair.
I started shaking, my head miserably aching.
“Are you alright, sir?”
“Anja.” I whispered.
Fourteen years ago.
“Yes, but she passed away right after.”
I held my head into my hands, my eyes squeezed shut. I couldn’t take it anymore.
“You knew her?” she asked.
I collapsed on my chair, my eyes blindly looking out by the window, remembering.
“I will never let you down”.
But I had.
And I had broken two hearts.
Tags: short-story, Paper Planes Competition, young writers, literature
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