Eleanor Mitchell, Grade 6, Hawthorndene Primary School
3rd in the 'Fantasy And Beyond 1998' competition
Samira lay in the long grass and looked tiredly towards the sky. The pain had ceased to matter now. She was in a world of her own, a world of swimming shapes that should be familiar – of blackness and blinding light. She knew where she had to go, but here surely she could rest.
The old woman saw her lying there on the grass. She leaned over and caressed her scarred cheek. Then she lightly tapped Samira’s head with her bamboo cane, and muttered a few words. Both she and Samira’s still body disappeared, and the grass waved tall without them.
Samira opened her eyes and sat up. She was in the same woodland glade, but where was she really. The landscape seemed subtly different, the sky bluer, the trees greener, the grass shorter. She stood up – and stayed up. She felt for the familiar gash across her temples and forehead. It was not there! She looked in amazement at her hands. They were smooth and pink, with no trace of dirt or blood. She tried walking a few steps, and felt her body automatically respond and move accordingly. She heard laughter and followed the sound through the trees.
She came to another clearing. There were people, laughing and eating. Her stomach growled and one of the people looked up. ‘Hail, stranger!’ said she. ‘Abide here and have a bite to eat, for you must be sore hungry.
Samira looked in amazement at the speaker. She was, like all the other people in the glade, dressed in a 19th century gown. She looked down at herself, and found that she was dressed likewise. She noticed too how old fashioned the woman’s speech was. But at that moment she was too hungry to do more than eat, and so she sat down at the table and ate heartily. She also drank glasses and glasses of the drink – a clear and tasteless stuff that made her feel inexplicably drowsy. Slowly her head sank onto the table and she slept.
When she woke she was lying on a bed in a large, high-ceiling room. The coverings lying over her were of a soft, red velvet and the fireplace opposite her was made of marble. She sat up and looked around, then called softly to the maid. She came hurrying dutifully in, bobbing her mob-capped head and muttering unintelligible things that might be translated as, ‘Ma’am, Miss Emily ma’am.’
‘Go and fetch my breakfast. I’ll have an egg, cheese and toast. Oh, and tell Mother I have decided to appear to the public on Wednesday.’ ‘Yes’m, very good’m.’
Samira’s voice was changed, with a slight lilt and an air of command. She slipped back down into the covers, thinking drowsily that she’d just wait for breakfast….
The old woman appeared by the bed. She smiled down on the delicate form and her words were like the whisper of silk on silk.
‘Samira, welcome to your new life.’