Alistair, or Ally as he became know the day he moved up to secondary school, is now taking his GCSE's. As the eldest of my six children he is much loved and respected by all his younger siblings, though of course they would never admit to this. At school he is a typical boy generally doing just enough to keep the teachers off his case, but so often I wish he would put in a little more effort and pull the top grades his teachers say he is capable of. However on his English Language assessment last term he has shown he can go the extra mile achieving full marks with his short story. He has no idea what he want's to do for a living or even which A levels to choose, but while he is happy helping his Dad out on the farm, Nick and I both hope to expand his horizons, and I'd love to think he has a writing talent here to build upon one day.
Please have a read of his draft copy here and see what you think. The title was given, the rest is all from Ally age fifteen. He reproduced a version of this in exam conditions to gain his 20 out of 20 towards his GCSE and I am so proud of him.
The Journey Home - A Short Story by Alistair Cambouropoulos
James Anderson had never been particularly academic. It wasn't that he was slow at learning or didn't try, he just seemed to obtain rather average grades; average, in fact he thought, would be the perfect way to describe him. So as he cycled home from results day, pedalling as fast as his legs would take him with three 'A's, four 'B's and three 'C''s in his pocket he was beaming with joy. He couldn't wait to be home and watch his parents as they peared gingerly into the envelope, their faces illuminating with pride as their eyes scanned down the list and realisation set in. There would be all manner of rewards, he was sure of it, his parents would take him out for a curry and finally buy the new i-pod he had been asking for for months.
He turned right, past the derelict barn and over the stream where he and his younger brother would play for hours as kids; the route he knew so well taking on a new beauty in his excellent mood. The mid summer sun beat down upon him, doing it's best to fatigue him and slow his progress, but James would not be deterred as he powered into the long uphill, straining with the effort.
As he neared the top the valley laid out below was a scene most people only dream of, the kind you see in the movies yet one James took for granted almost every day. To the north dense green trees stretched on as far as the eye could see, interrupted only by a single ribbon of tarmac, scything its way through the thick forest, and to his left by acres of moorland centered by a glistening black lake, ringed at points with pine trees and boulders and reflecting the sun like a giant mirror.
James was cut off from the view as he hurtled down the hillside into the forest, the trees providing welcome shade and the wind in his hair cooling him. Cautiously but with a huge excitable grin plastered on his face, James lifted his hands from the handlebars and spread his arms wide relishing the sense of freedom. The world rushed by on either side as he careered down the country lane before grabbing hold of his bike again to lean into a tight corner.
By the time James saw the car it was already too late, his eyes grew wide with fear as the menacing black machine came into view and he knew he was powerless to stop himself plummeting into it. In an instant they collided. His bike crumpled against the bonnet of the car and yanked out from underneath him as he flew through the air. He hit the ground face down; hard. And felt the air rush from his stomach. Dazed and in shock, he rolled over not quite sure what was happening. He glimpsed the silhouette of a tall man push his bike out of the way and watched, helplessly as the sparkling Mercedes- Benz Star glided off into the distance. Reality set in and James fought down a wave of panic and tried to think logically. Wincing he sat up and checked his injuries. A searing pain was coming from his bloody hands and knees; the crimson liquid dripped from his palms and streamed down his legs, already turning dark and sticky in the heat. To his relief though everything except his left arm which gave way when he put any pressure on it seemed to be working. Gathering his strength he climbed to his feet, and with a sharp, hot pain came from his ankle immediately toppled over; it was broken. Unless another car came by, which he highly doubted, this was the first time he had ever met a vehicle on this lesser know backroad, he would have to make the four miles back to his village alone. Not easy with only one leg.
James hobbled over to the wood to find a suitable stick to use as a crutch, frustrated cursing accompanying many falls. The wood stung his raw hands as he picked up his favoured crutch but it was better than the pain of stumbling. Satisfied with his prop James limped back to inspect his bike. The front wheel had warped into an odd shape and the handlebars no longer faced forwards, he would have to abandon it here. Lumbering awkwardly with his temporary crutch James set off down the road.
His phone broken, James wasn't sure how much time had passed, but it felt like a lot. The sun was sinking low turning the sky a dark shade of navy blue and the tall forest tress loomed over him threateningly, making it feel even darker. He hadn't made enough progress and was still a good two miles from home; several hours at this infuriatingly slow pace. He had long since abandoned his crutch, the endless supply of blood making it too slippery to grip properly and as a result walking was an extremely painful affair. He fell almost every couple of metres and, unwilling to get any more grit embedded into his burning hands he was left with nothing to cushion the brutal impact. He let out a furious grunt of frustration as he lost his footing once again and lay helpless and shaking at the edge of the road, too exhausted to get up.
A loud piercing bark cut through the air and James's head shot up, returning to the land of the sane. He heard it again and swivelled his head searching for it's origin to see a bright beam of light shooting through the inky black night. For a moment he thought he might be hallucinating, but the pain told him otherwise. Hope surged through his body giving him new energy and he scrambled to his feet. yelling as loud as possible. "James?" came the reply. James could have fainted with relief; he recognised the high pitched, welcoming voice. He stumbled towards the light, tripping but managing to clamber back up as old Mrs Pratt and her dog rounded the corner, a senile hero in beige armour. "Good God" she exclaimed upon seeing the bloody bedraggled boy in front of her. "Your parents have been looking all over for you!" James keeled and started to cry.