Katherine Severn, Grade 6, Roseville College
3rd in the 'Written in the Stars 2013' competition
The girl stands alone in the midst of a huge crowd in 1943. They are all silent, waiting. Waiting for something that hasn’t happened for years. Waiting for a moment that will be one of the worst of their lives. Waiting for the moment they can all escape the square that holds so many people. Waiting for the public hanging. Waiting.
The man stumbles into the area, dejected and hopeless. Flanked by the big, emotionless guards, he is thin and pale from weeks in jail without sufficient food. His feet drag across the wooden platform until he is stopped in front of a gaping hole, and he stares into the gap.
On a raised wooden platform on the left sits a large judge. He hauls himself out of the simple chair and waddles forward to stand behind a podium. He stares down mercilessly at the prisoner standing before him, head hanging in defeat. The judge then outlines the crime that this man supposedly committed. But the girl’s mind is racing. She doesn’t know if she should stay quiet and let an innocent man die, or step forward and say what she knows, saving the man but killing someone else.
The judge finishes his speech and waddles back to his chair and sits down heavily. A guard come forward with a cotton black hood hanging between his fingers. And the man looks up, his eyes searching the crowd, as if he was looking for someone. His gaze is just about to roll over the girl, but he stops and locks eyes with her. She knows why he is looking at her as well as he does. But the black hood slips over his face, and the moment is gone.
The guard reaches forward and grabs a rope noose hanging above the gap. The girl is terrified. Should she go forward? Or should she stay? The guard slips the noose around the man’s neck and tightens it. And then the man is pushed into the gap.
The crowds mind’s are blank, their faces sad. But the girl’s mind is not blank and sad. She is thinking about what just happened. The man didn’t need this. He didn’t stumble upon a bomb. He didn’t accidently set it off. He didn’t kill 71 people.