Schoolwork showcase: secondary short stories
Education and Learning 2024

Schoolwork showcase: secondary short stories

Young writers ·

Secondary pupils were given the theme of 'in a strange land' for their short stories

Friday, 15 March 2024, 15:44


1. Best secondary short story


What is sound? Is it a colour for the ear to feel? Or a complex wavelength that each living being translates into its own mental language? That is a question I cannot answer, as in our land, no one can hear.

Our ancestors understood sounds and would feel emotions from them, studied them and analyzed them but, what is there to find? How can a simple, mathematically perfect wavelength turn into a plethora of emotions in one’s own mind? We simply cannot comprehend sound, as since the moment we were born, our world is this so-called ‘silent’. The silence that could supposedly ‘drive creatures insane’ though our life has been mute for centuries and nothing seems anomalous . Communication through hand signals is efficient and equal for everyone. This same language is used in the entirety of the land, fast and easy to understand. An audible voice is unequal to the language of the land!

In the mornings, I rush to the omniscient building that is the library. I take out all the books regarding sound, direct wisdom from the past. If it weren’t for writing, how would communication ever advance? The answer is clear: it wouldn’t. “Make sure to bring them back!” shouts the sign at the exit. Writing expresses emotions which sounds cannot convey. I’d wish to comprehend sound, but I simply cannot as in our land, no one can hear.

I am writing this diary to be read by future generations, to gift them a vision of our life. We have never understood what sound is. When you feel a colour in your mind—a vibrant, deep, beautiful colour—isn’t it natural? If the sense was taken away, it would make us feel empty. Now imagine the complete absence of sound; that is how we live.

Marcos, aged 14. English International College

Judges' comments: “A truly imaginative interpretation of the theme ‘in a strange land’. The pupil was a worthy winner with this well-written and thought-provoking story,” commented novelist Joan Fallon.

2. Runner-up secondary story

We Need Something More

Another day passes, just like the last. My room is too small, and so is everyone else’s. The food is too bland, the audience too loud, the spotlights too bright. And everything is too monotonous. We need something more.

It’s late in the day, and orange light is streaming in from the holes in the tarpaulin that surrounds my room. Mine, and everyone’s, they’re the same. Same size, same dull color, and same impenetrable metal bars surrounding us, that only open when it’s showtime.


The sharp, painful sound of a whistle wakes us up, for another day at work. There are seven of us: Juan Martin, Arthur, Rosa, Nat, Joan, Harriet and me, and everyday our master forces us to perform in front of a crowd under his watchful eye, and his whip. We dance, balance, and jump through hoops ablaze, until exhaustion. Waiting, for the moment that comes once a day, a moment we all wait restlessly for. For an instant, when everyone leaves, and we’re left on stage, a door will open, from behind the stands, and we’ll all catch a glimpse of the world beyond the tarp.

At first we get blinded by the sunlight, but once our eyes adjust we can see the dirt beyond the door, the cars the spectators will pack into, and beyond that, green. Not the fake, bright and overly cheerful green that coats the frills Joan is forced to wear, but a deep green that feels like eternity and finality in one. And we know that that is where we’re meant to be, deep in the forest. If only we could go there, I know we would be safe, home. Right now, however, we are stuck in a strange land that is also the only place we know.

-Aquinas, Circus Bear.

Gabriela, aged 15. Atlas American School of Málaga

The judges commented on how imaginative this story was. Liz Parry especially liked its (among other stories’) approach to the theme ‘in a strange land’, as it dealt with ‘arriving in a foreign (but not imagined) land’.

Stories and poems

3. Special mention secondary story

A Strange Land

In the heart of an ancient forest, where the trees whispered secrets of bygone eras and the air hummed with a mysterious energy, I found myself in a strange land unlike any I had ever known.

The moment I stepped into this enchanted realm, the ground beneath my feet felt alive, pulsating with an otherworldly rhythm. The foliage shimmered with hues unseen in my world, casting an ethereal glow that danced across the forest floor.

As I ventured deeper, the trees seemed to lean in, their branches forming intricate patterns against the sky. Each step I took was met with a chorus of whispers, as if the very land itself was trying to communicate with me.

Strange creatures lurked in the shadows, their forms twisted and fantastical. Some had wings that glimmered like opals, while others slithered through the underbrush with scales that shimmered like emeralds. Yet despite their alien appearances, there was a sense of harmony among them, as if they were all part of the same intricate tapestry woven by nature’s hand.

I felt a connection to this strange land, a bond that transcended language and understanding. It was as if I had been welcomed into a world where magic still thrived, where the impossible was possible, and where every corner held the promise of adventure.

As dawn broke and the first rays of sunlight pierced the canopy above, I knew that my time in this strange land was drawing to a close. But as I turned to leave, I carried with me memories that would last a lifetime, and a longing to return to the place where dreams were made real.

Adrian, aged 16. Atlas American School of Málaga

4. Selected secondary story

In a Strange Land

My eyes felt heavy, and with much effort I managed to open them. White blinding light shined on me, making it difficult for me to see.

As I woke up in this new, strange place, my eyesight focused on my surroundings. I was in a white room, impeccable and in a perfect condition.

There was a window straight ahead of me, the source of the surreal bright light, covered in a thin curtain which blocked my view of whatever was outside.

A horrible pounding in my head, making me dizzy, forced me to turn my head to the side, where I was surprised with my own reflection in a mirror. Behind me, I could see in my reflection, there were strange machines I had never seen before. One of them, I noticed, had some papers with writings over it by its side.

I tried to turn over to see the papers and find out where I was, but as I did, something entered the glowing room hurriedly. I distinguished the blurry shape of a person coming closer to me, and I tried in vain to move and protect myself. The person sat beside me. My eyes had now gotten used to the light, and I suddenly saw that I was lying beside an angel. That must be it, I thought. With teary eyes, the angel started sobbing softly.

“I died,” I said, as I took in the idea that I was now in heaven, bright and peaceful, quiet, with caring angels without wings beside me.

Suddenly more human-like angels entered the room, dressed in blue-green robes. I couldn’t see their faces. For a brief moment, they stared at me in disbelief, and then immediately organised themselves and started working on the strange machines and checking on me.

I was now aware of my situation. How did it happen? What would my loved ones feel right now? My headache was killing me.

“I died,” I repeated.

The angel beside me looked straight into my eyes with a familiar gaze. It was comforting. The angel hugged me, and as the nurses did their job and the hospital continued with its routine, the angel whispered something in my ear.

“Thank god you’re alive.”

Elma, aged 14. The British School of Málaga

5. Selected secondary story

In a Strange Land

The first day that I arrived at the airport in America, it felt really strange. Everything was different but I was very excited. After getting out of the plane we went to go get our luggage.

When we picked up our belongings, we headed towards the exit. I remember having to go through a wave of people before coming out. There were all kinds of people all speaking different languages. I then noticed I had lost sight of my parents. I stared around in horror. I could not ask anyone if they had seen my parents because I did not speak or understand their language. I was lost.

I became more worried by the second. At first, I didn’t make a sound, only looked around. I stared at the people, clinging to the ground. Then I decided to get up and try to find my parents.

I went around the whole airport, through shops, restaurants, waiting areas, luggage areas… At last, I had to give up and I sat alone in a corner next to the window in the waiting area, curled up in a ball, watching the planes leaving. Maybe my parents were in one of the planes and they had left without me?

Finally, after two hours, I saw two figures coming towards me who looked like my parents. It turned out they were my parents, and I ran to give them a hug. After that, we all left the airport and went to our new house.

Bárbara, Aged 11. Sage College Jerez

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