We asked you to submit a short story, no more than 500 words, to win some fabulous prizes in our writing competition… and they did not disappoint! This year, the theme of the competition was ‘Awakening’. We are delighted to announce our Author’s Choice winner. Huge congratulations to Clare Shaw who was chosen by local Essex Author Sarah Armstrong.
I was delighted to have been selected as the author’s choice. I wanted to write something about an outsider where there is more to him than meets the eye (perhaps like myself) and I set it in the Black mountains in Wales as I go there every year when I visit my Uncle and there is something magical about this place. It is so very different to Essex!Clare Shaw
Author’s Choice: Strange Boy written by Clare Shaw
When he asked me to meet him at the lake on Waun Fach mountain, I stared at him in disbelief. I knew the Black Mountains as well as I knew my own face and had scrambled up the highest of them many times.
“You mean Grwyne Fawr reservoir,” I said.
“No. I mean climb half way up Waun Fach, then ease your way through the dense cluster of pine trees until you reach the lake.”
“There isn’t a lake on that mountain. Or pine trees.”
He shrugged. “I’ll be there as the full moon rises.”
Then he laughed that odd musical crescendo of mirth and sprinted off. I watched him running effortlessly, weaving his way through the trees, leaping over old logs and scampering down the mossy bank; so beautiful in his agility.
I had seen him on the rugged, peaty hills where the wild ponies, who didn’t usually trust people, would allow him to stroke their shaggy manes and whisper gently to them. With him, they were no more wild than the ponies at the stables where I had met him. He had been helping with an over excitable Welsh Cob, calming him like a father soothes a child.
He said very little and yet his dark, olive eyes spoke to me of a deeper understanding of life. We arranged to meet the next day at Millers Gate and he showed me where skylarks nested and hares raced across the grassy hillside. We always met outdoors as he felt uncomfortable surrounded by walls, but at ease out in nature. He would toss back the cascades of dark flowing hair from his perfectly oval face. His beauty was such that I was able to ignore his baggy jogging bottoms and ill fitting boots. He was known in the village as the strange boy but I was fed up with the local lads and their swagger and beery breath. He intrigued me.
I set off for the lake with no expectation of finding it. Then I spotted the cluster of pine trees which I’d never noticed before. I slalomed through their straight, tall trunks, breathing in the nutty, earthy odour of the bark. The unexpected lake was glistening under the full, harvest moon.
He was there at the water’s edge stretching his arms up to the clear night sky and laughing that laugh. The moon slipped down and shone its beams over the lake like a beacon from a lighthouse. Diamonds danced across the surface and when I looked down into the gleaming clear water, I saw shining rocks and shoals of silvery fish. Without thinking, I peeled off my clothes and dived into the water which was as warm as a tropical pool. I floated, staring up at the umbrella of bright stars. I beckoned him in.
He peeled his clothes off and placed his hooves carefully into the water. Then his tail flicked behind him as he neighed with delight. Now, at last, I knew him completely.
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