The collation of coarse horse hairs that were bundled together by a simple string prickled the canvas as they moved slowly, carefully. The thought that ran through me directed the brush to form the shape of a face. My eyes drooped slightly at the lack of sleep in the memories that flooded my head. That continuously played and manipulated my emotions. Even the smallest of sounds frightened me as they had in the huts. The Taiping Rebellion had ruined my life. But the brush still moved. Still rounded the face creating a deepened frame. I came to dip the bristles into the pigment again that sat beside me. It fell off the stool and onto the deep brown floorboard creating an inundation of deep red.
The red on the gravel created a realisation that this was going to be the beginning of the end. It was a year into the civil war that I had been living in place where we had to form an alliance with each other. We had formed the basis of friendships knowing that we had to be there for each other, that without each other we weren’t to have a chance to survive. Another explosion deafened me as I ducked my way towards Lee Chowmeign, the man that had inspired me to join in the powers to defend. He became my best friend from a young age. From the time that I had first come to China from North Korea, he helped me adapt in a way that I felt I could be myself. But now we were together, fighting together and protecting each other. Another fire gunshot but this time it hit the gravel, which eroded into an explosion of dust. I could taste the sand on my tongue as I rushed faster towards Lee. My heartbeat quickened when I couldn’t spot his face amongst the other Chinese soldiers. My pulse reduced as his head popped above the firearms he held in the tank. He was okay. I was okay. It was all going to be fine.
What was the artwork to become when the oil paint swirled with my tears? As I began to pick up the yellow from the diverse palette that ringed the plate, more tears slowly made their way down my cheek. The hue of yellow that I was to use to highlight was cunning in its past. It was lightly baked but oddly unsaturated. I backed my stool up and looked at the sitter. He was leaning back slightly; his pink skin didn’t represent his true complexion. I warmed it with the yellow. His eyes slightly tapered up also needed yellow to rim them. And yet the yellow caused me to smile as another tear fell between my legs and hit the floorboards.
“You can’t just say that you would leave as soon as you returned, it would break her, Lee,” I said lying back in the small hut that Lee and I shared. I looked through the cracks that allowed small amounts of the yellow rays to bleed through. Lee lay beside me eating his apple. “And you can’t tell me that she was always to remain with me. She is presumably off with the pastor at this very moment, with no thought of me,” Lee chuckled but looked out the same crevice as I. His voice filled with sarcasm but no form of hatred towards his wife. “Imagine the people that will speak of the affair if it were to get out,” I replied trying to give my friend some sort of advice against his actions. “And? At least my name will finally appear on the tongues of the people of our ratchet town,” he blurted. His tone was filled with more emotion but it was followed by a laugh. It was true. We were of no stature to be reckoned with in the village and yet this man, the only person to be named my friend was speaking of infamous recognition. My laugh followed Lee’s. And as the air filled with debris and the stench of smoke, our laughs deafened our ears into the predictable darkness.
The laugh of Lee drowned my ears once again. It was hard to see through the tears that blurred my eyes in the moments that I painted the shadows in the arrays of blue. My arm began to ache as it lifted once more to the top of the canvas working its way down in the fast unquenchable motions that I couldn’t control. The strokes no longer dealt with the nature of precision but hasty movements that flared and ended abruptly. But my arm didn’t change pace. It continued to move at that speed and the detail was removed from the painting as I involuntarily released a sob.
Lee’s smile faded as the debris of the gunshot eroded and the sound of the firearm dissolved into the deafening silence. I couldn’t even hear myself scream as my legs dug into the gravel, closing up the distance between us. It was as if my heart was beating through my eyes when I saw the blood on Lee’s pelvis. It was the only sight that filled my eyes in those very moments. The war around me disappeared and it was just my best friend and I. he smiled through the pain once more. Smiled with the creases beside his eyes deepening as I grasped his waist trying to slow the amount of blood these evaded his body. His smile was genuine even in his last moments but I didn’t smile back. I was screaming the prayers to the lord in order for him to save Lee. I couldn’t feel the others as they pulled at my shoulders trying to drag me into the helicopter. It was all supposed to be today. It was all supposed to all right. It was all supposed to result in the victory of survival with my best friend. My breathe caught in my sobs, and the dryness and lack of water didn’t allow for any tears to fall. But as I saw the final light go out in my best friend, as I saw them slowly loose focus on the callous universe, my heart dropped so fast at the reality of the situation. The only thing that felt real was the slight smile that remained on Lee’s lips. The ringing in my ears from the explosion, the pulls at my jacket, the humdrum of the helicopters air on my neck, it all was surreal. It all seemed like I was in a dream, like I was levitating outside of my body not truly feeling anything because the only thing that I came to see were the remnants of the person that was supposed to be leaving with me. The one that had promised to finally leave his wife and had promised that he would protect me.
I was no longer on the stool. I was sitting in the corner my knees up like a child. The darkness enveloped me as the tears soaked my sleeves. I couldn’t look up at the painting that had stained my fingers with red and blue. The canvas came into the view as I slowly looked up, it was lit by the cracks in the wall just as they did when Lee lay beside me. But he was here. He was the product of my anger in the world. He was the product of paint on canvas. But he wasn’t speaking, he wouldn’t speak and I felt so much hate towards him for not doing so. But he sat there with his head cocked back on the canvas in sarcasm as it usually did. But even in the state of reverie that had consumed me while I painted, I couldn’t help but be surprised by Lees face enthralling the canvas and therefore my whole existence. But as a soft gust of wind tickled my neck, I realised I wasn’t alone because a soft accented voice whispered in my ear ‘at least you remembered me, my friend’. A smile engrossed my face for the first time since the end.
By Layla Maroun – Yr 11 Advanced English
My mind is no longer mine. My memory has deserted me, left me for dead. Instinct and fear drove me to gather my surroundings, a stony-like tunnel which showed bloodstains against the wall. The air in this tunnel-like cave had an eerie atmosphere clouding my already locked thoughts. Ghastly screams pierced my already dull mind and my body became as stiff as a rock. Who am I? “James” a haunting, faint voice in the distance screeched. The first thing I managed to make out was an old sign; with the almost unreadable word…Abandoned. That word caused me pain. But why? “Follow the path!” echoed another sinister voice. The more I tried to resist, the more pain it caused. So I followed the path, mindlessly still unable to understand who I am or how I even got here.
The tunnel seemed life-long, but I felt no pain, tiredness or feelings. I was alone. The noises in my head did not cease. The bloodied trail led me further down. The closer I got to what seemed the end ignited a short, stinging memory. Blood, screams, bodies, loneliness. “James, embrace it, don’t fight” that eerie voice croaked. My thoughts were extinguished as I saw someone run further down the tunnel. “Who are you?” I winced; there was no reply as he disappeared into the distance. With my head still pounding, I struggled on and stumbled through an iron clad door. “You will always be alone!” screeched the now-familiar voice. Then I saw the boy, blood-stained brown hair with his shirt in tatters. He kept running in fear, dodging the hanging corpses, which seemed to be cemented to the roof. The corpses struck a vivid memory into the back of my mind. Their unique faces made me tremble. Looking into their lifeless eyes brought back the horrific events that brought them here. I killed my family.
It was all so quick. I quenched my vengeance and released it with every stab I heartlessly struck into each one of their then-beating hearts. I ferociously dragged each body to this abandoned mineshaft knowing that their existence would be forever hidden. These corpses were the reason for my pain. Every person I had ever loved turned me away. It was they who forced me to work in these mines alone, away from the world. Out of the deafening silence, came a faint cry. The young boy’s fate was then decided. He would now join the life-drained corpses.
My vengeance brought no satisfaction, if only time wasn’t so easy to take. It wasn’t until I saw the reflection of my face in the glass-like pool of blood that I realised it wasn’t the mineshaft, but I, who was ultimately abandoned.
Elias Boumelhem – Year 11 Advanced English
Here is a piece of writing, by Kristina C (6 Indigo).
The task was to write a journal entry from the point of view of a character from the text Boy Overboard by Morris Gleitzman.
21st of July, 2001.
Everything is black. The old smuggler boat was rocking from side to side. People were crying, screaming for help. It felt like I was going to give up on life. Nothing was as bad as this day.
Day 3 on the boat.
I am stuck in the middle of nowhere. I was covered with splinters that came off the rusty, smuggler boat. It was so small; everyone was squashed together. Why did we have to leave Afghanistan? I miss those days, secretly playing soccer in the hot, dry desert. I really do. That piece of camel snot government made us leave! Just because mum is an illegal teacher doesn’t mean she has to get arrested. Bibi is getting sea sick. In fact, everyone on the boat is vomiting…Everywhere! I was disgusted. I’m used to dad’s bumpy car rides. The little, old smuggler boat is nothing compared to the taxi.
There is absolutely no sign of mus and dad’s boat. I can’t feel anything inside of me. I feel miserable without them. Yesterday Bibi got so mad, she threatened to throw everyone off the boat if they didn’t keep quite. Today she is very shy and quite. Maybe that’s what happens when you get sea sick. There is no food left at all! I can imagine myself drowning in the deep, dark, salty, cold waters.
Day 5 on the boat.
The smugglers were whispering to each other all day long. I had a very bad feeling about that. After all I think I’m getting sea sick. I thought that it is going to be a nice, sunny, happy day. Well I thought wrong. The smuggler and the sailor in the yellow overalls were all covered with seaweed and smelt like fish that had been laying around for ages. They came around the boat asking for something. He came closer to our edge of the boat and gave Bibi, Rashida and I a nasty look. He demanded with a rough voice “Give me something!”. We were petrified because Bibi and I didn’t have anything with us. If we never left Afghanistan we would never be in this situation. I carefully passed him the two loaves of bread. He specifically sniffed it, clutched it off me and threw it overboard. He came closer to us. Rashida pulled out her suitcase and took out a beautiful, metal watch. “This is all we have” she pleaded. The sailor grabbed it and threw it in the bucket.
I turned around. What I saw was terrifying. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Next to our tiny, miserable boat was a huge pirate ship. The pirate had a beard up to his toes. He was holding a polished black gun. My heart dropped. The blood in my veins started to curdle up. Bibi was trying to kick the sailor, but I held her back. The smuggler and the sailor climbed on board and vanished into the heavy white fog. All the other sailors were petrified, so were we. We were left alone in the middle of nowhere…
Day 7 on the boat.
The weather started to change in the few couple of days that passed. The little wooden boat was rocking like an old lady’s rocking chair. I felt like someone was shoving rotten fish up my nose. My eyes were twitching. I couldn’t feel anything at all. My head was spinning around. The waves were smashing against the edge of the boat, but were not high enough to go inside the boat. Bigger waves were coming closer and closer. From far away we could see a small wave coming. As it came closer, it started to get bigger and bigger. It’s going to wreck the boat I thought to myself. The closer it came the bigger it got. It smashed against the edge and splashed inside. Everyone was petrified. People grabbed the vegetable tins, and started scooping the water out. Some people used their sacks, others used their hands. I went downstairs to look for a bucket. From the outside I heard people screaming. Shouting. roaring. “Look at that!” someone screamed. I didn’t want to come out. I didn’t want to see it. My brain was telling me to stay, but my body made me come out.
It looked like the pirate ship that I saw before. There were no guns, cannons. No smugglers. All I could remember is falling face flat on the deck. I felt horrible, everything was a blur. What had really happened? Nothing was as bad as that day.
Kristina C (6 Indigo)
A Persuasive Text, by 5 Opal
Do you know how many people have been put in danger by their use of Facebook? Would you like to be stalked? Personally I want to keep myself as safe as possible. I don’t like the idea of people knowing all about my life when I haven’t even met them. The issue of privacy and the associated dangers of Facebook are a scary thought for adults, but even more for year 5 students.
Are you aware of the dangers that are caused by Facebook? Not everyone is who they say they are online, you need to be very careful who you add as your friend. You should only add family and friends who you know in real life. When you add strangers it’s basically like you’re agreeing to someone saying, ” Hi, can I add you? I want to stalk you?”
Knock knock, anyone home? Of course no one is home because I just saw you check in to Parliament House Canberra. What a silly thing to do telling everybody on facebook you are not home. Sorry to intrude but while you were away I made myself at home and pinched a few valuables of yours. Hope you didn’t need that xbox, Ipad, Smart TV or computer. Did you know that when you check in on facebook, strangers can see your home is vacant and rob you? It’s important that you keep your location and settings private on facebook.
‘Haahahahhahaha you’re so stupid and no one loves you!”. This is what an online bully sounds like. Would you like to be the person on the receiving end of that message? NO!!!!! So stay off facebook and keep yourself safe from mean, nasty online bullies. Online bullying is a serious matter which can lead to depression and suicide. A child in year 5 is only 10 years old and too young to handle the emotions that come with online bullying.
If you want to put your life in danger go ahead, sit back, relax and let them stalk you.
If you want to put your life in danger go ahead, sit back, relax and let them stalk you. But why would you want to be stalked and bullied! Your life is too precious to be taken away by Facebook. KEEP CALM AND DELETE FACEBOOK!!!!!!
By 5 Opal