We have managed to obtain some great stories from the students of Holland Park School in London over the last couple of weeks. We will be posting each story over the next few weeks. The first one is from Charlotte, we hope you enjoy it!

The woman was grinning broadly, chuckling light-heartedly. Her lipstick was shaky and faded on her thin lips. Her teeth lined her mouth, shining brightly; not completely straight but close to it. Fine lines webbed her skin, a map of memories, the great journeys she had endured, the expeditions she had braved to stand where she was stood, righteous and deserving of her place. Her eyes glowed with a mischievous glint, a child-like joy captured behind the icy cerulean blue of her irises. They were affable and re-assuring, many secrets locked within them both mirthful and melancholy, but her pains of the past were disguised by the plethora of immortal memories. The indiscernible wrinkled etched the contours of her bones, furling around the apples of her cheeks like flower buds that were drawing to a close. They held a healthy, rose-coloured flush, enhanced by the searing midday sun. Her hair was wispy and fragile after years of curling it and now it was seated, ethereal, each strand arching over the other casting the illusion of vivacious and voluminous hair, wild with exuberance. It was, in fact, but an empty shell of such a thing.

She had donned a sunhat, which perched aloof on her halo of ash blonde hair; the straws were loose, dangling out of line and swaying gently in the forceless breeze. The rim of the hat sagged in the stifling heat and its once stiff and resolute skeleton withered beneath the enthusiastic sun. The ribbon, which was looped around the base of the hat, was untied and flailing in the wind, a red blur. Its ends had frayed and split into tiny fibres yet it continued to serve its duty stoically. A gold chain adorned her neck, an aura of pride and declaration expelled from within the illustrious jewellery and her chest dilated with a sense of infinite delight.

A peach shirt hung from her slim shoulders, the silky material draped with an exact precision as it spiralled elegantly downwards like a waterfall of satin. The fine pastel was tailored exactly and fluttered, tranquil in the light pull of the air. One hand hung loosely against the pocket of her hoary capris, arthritic knuckles knobbly from hours of expert stitching. Her ring finger was bejewelled with an ostentatious ring; the grand ruby emitting a dull glow in the shade of the sun-hat and it nestled amongst a bed of diamonds, casting a light into the darkest of crevices, much like her radiating smile. The gold loop in which these jewels were settled fitted her finger snuggly. Looking closely, however, the numerous marks of previous welding’s were visible, sustained by the countless resizing’s the ring had undergone. After 50 years of marriage, she was eager nit to lose such an object, its sentimental worth vastly outweighing its monetary value.

Her second hand clutched another. This one was large, firmer contrasting to her spindly finger yet it cradled her hand with the utmost care, the lines and shapes of both palms slotting together seamlessly, as thought they were moulded. Though the hands were gentle in their embrace, the heels of the palms were calloused and dry, the fingernails stubby, crusts of dirt forming beneath them. The hangnails were raw from the nervous habit of picking at them. Around his ring finger sat a golden band as well however, his was minimalist and captivating in its simplicity. The surrounding skin was a vehement scarlet, induced by the constant swivelling of it around his bone, the blunt edges chaffing his flesh in the balmy weather. His head was unnervingly smaller than it ought to have been, a few centimetres out of proportion, thereby accentuating his rotund figure. Wire-framed glasses were positioned meticulously upon the bony bridge of his nose, adjusted frequently as he sniffled, the densely pollen-filled air wreaking havoc against his sensitive hay fever. He adjusted his glasses with every snuffle and with every snuffle he blinked. He had a tendency to blink, rapidly. This blinking paired with his wary, hostile eyes and anxious habits caused others to glean the impression of a man of cunning. The eyes darted back and forth, Fox-like in their ways and hungry for information, wherever it could be found. Cogs behind his pupils whirred and ticked, pondering over each moment of every object, deciphering the meaning like it was the code to a vault.

Just as quickly as his eyes flashed to an alternate object, he was intrigued by yet another. Be that as it may, at this moment he was focused entirely on the woman whose hand he clasped with such dire love and desperation. In those moments, he was calmed, his frantic brain hummed to a close as though submerged in water. The distractions and oddities of the outside world muffled and dull in comparison to the eternal beauty he saw within every aspect of her, emanating a sense of life, rejuvenation and formidable calm. Her majestic grandeur pulsed softly, soporific to no-one’s eyes but his own. She did not notice how often he snatched at these opportunities, whilst she was distracted, to marvel at her sheer loveliness, so that, should he find himself without her, every detail of her visage was etched into his memory.

He did not care for the dull throbbing of his head, a concurrence of the merciless heat; he did not care for the pollen that clogged his nostrils nor the numerous fountains of information passing I’m by at every second. He held his head back, tilted, gazing at a piece of fine art as he did daily. A vague yet obvious smile crept up his features, originating in the bubbling of his heart. Smiles did not frequent his face, fostered only by the thought of her. The collar of his shirt, a faded aquamarine colour, rubbed vigorously against his neck, he batted it away subconsciously, entranced. His conventionally pursed lips were parted, a small sigh puffed out like smoke from a steam engine. The narrow lines forming an “o” shape and his wiry eyebrows unfurrowed in a gasp of disbelief, once more at her substantial radiance. His free hand unclenched from a fist, small crescents dug into the coarse skin, as he allowed his body to relax, knowing no harm could come to anyone with such strong beauty in this world. He looked fixedly at the ocean, trapped within her irises as she looked into the lens of the digital camera.

A “cheese” and a blinding flash and the moment had passed. Her jaw unclenched and she chuckled lightly. He again turned to scour his surroundings intently and the camera was pocketed.

I held the photograph in my hand, running the tip of my thumb around the soft edges. The yellowing corners had begun to turn inwards and the paper had deteriorated. Gone was the glossy sheen and the card had been bent yet I continued to store it in my desk. Turning it over in the palm of my hand, reading and re-reading the date: ten years prior. I caught a glimpse of my green dress as I hurried past, tripping and tumbling over my feet, throwing my head back and giggling as I lay in the grass, the sparse leaves of the tree speckling my face with shadow. I can recall my brother surging towards me, a furious storm of energy before I stuck my leg out and he collapsed beside me, a fit of howling, bellyaching laugher.

A buzz from my phone, charging on the floor, knocked me back to reality. I dismissed the photo, dropping it to the floor as I unplugged my device and arched my spine over it, drawing the curtains closed, obscuring the daylight. The only light in my room was the blue glow of my phone screen as I immersed myself in the world of the Internet.

Charlotte

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