Schools in Worcestershire created a brand new story inspired by the adventure pack created by artists imitating the dog for Light Night Worcester. We invited author and poet, Jessica Terry, to start us off. Schools across Worcestershire are helped write the rest of the story, in a county-wide story telling relay. Abbie-Lou Cox, the Worcestershire Young Poet Laureate 16-18 age category winner narrated the audio version.
By author and poet, Jessica Terry
It had been fifteen minutes and Ari had run out of steam. She stomped her way through another patch of wild bushes and gnarled tree roots, her fury from the argument with her brother slowly draining away.
If only he wasn’t always so annoying. If only he didn’t act like he was always right about everything. She had told him they were lost, and now they were definitely going to be home late for dinner.
With the sun setting around her, Ari sighed and thought she should finally turn back. She peered around her, looking for the trail. The woods hadn’t seemed this overgrown a moment ago. She couldn’t hear a sound; not even birdsong. It was quite nice. All sort of eery and other-worldly.
A rustling noise from behind Ari suddenly broke the silence. She turned. From behind the trees a figure appeared…
By Year 6, St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School
A figure wrapped in long, tatty rags. A figure who hunched in fear as Ari crept forward. Peering out from a soot-shrouded face, a pair of bright but scared eyes seemed to be willing her to be a friend not a foe.
With a warm smile, Ari gently extended her hand out in order to gain her trust and the girl fought her urge to run away, keeping her fists clasped tightly by her side. Edging out from the undergrowth, the girl was reassured by Ari’s soothing voice. Lullaby-like it transported her back to a time, many moons ago, when she was happy.
Glancing down, Ari saw that the girl was bare footed; she was covered in scratches and ridden with sores. Her heart melted as she realised that this young girl had not seen love or warmth for some time and her mind wandered to the whereabouts of her brother. The girl’s flame-coloured hair lit up the darkening woods as the moon began to devour the setting of the sun.
Twilight was closing in.
Shadows spread and lengthened and the girls needed to find shelter against a cold mist that was seeping through the woods. Working silently together, they gathered sticks and rocks in order to survive the night ahead.
They watched the flames dance and huddled together for warmth whilst the sound of twigs crackling and an ember bursting into flames broke the eerie silence which surrounded them. A strange feeling of familiarity simultaneously washed over the girls.
As an owl hooted and swept by on silent white wings, the girl loosened her grip revealing an intricate locket. A burning sensation began to spread across Ari’s chest as she realised that the photograph housed in the locket around her neck was identical to that of the girl’s….
By Year 5, Saint Joseph’s Catholic Primary School
Time stood still. Ari stared transfixed at the necklace. Her own felt as though it was smouldering against her skin underneath her t-shirt, as if the locket itself had recognised its mirror image. Ari’s hand moved involuntarily to close her fist tightly around it, to contain it’s sudden awareness, and swallowing her disbelief, she asked in voice tremoring with shock, “That locket…where did you get it?”
Narrowing her eyes suspiciously, the girl shuffled backwards, clasping it tightly and hissed, “It’s mine! You can’t have it. No-one can have it. It’s mine. She gave it to me!”
“No, no, please,” Ari quickly reassured her sensing the child’s rising panic, and worried that she might turn and run away, drew her own replica locket out, laying it out on an outstretched palm. The light from the flames shimmered across the delicate, intricate details of the gold, picking out the complex interweaving patterns so that they seemed to be moving and shifting in the warm glow.
The girl crept forwards and tentatively traced the pattern with her fingers, her face mirroring the fascination that Ari was feeling.
“I’m Ari. What’s your name?” Ari asked watching her curiously.
“Esta. Where did you get this?”
Ari’s stomach gave a lurch. Something was very strange. Something was wrong.
“That was the name of my Great Grandmother. My mother gave me this and made me promise that I would pass it on to my daughter as it had been passed to her mother and her mother’s mother before that,” Ari explained breathlessly, as she gently opened the locket to reveal the picture inside, “She told me that it was special, that it had special powers, but she died before she could tell me more.”
Esta stared at the photograph, and as she revealed the picture in her own beside it, the lockets fastened together in a flash of burning light…
By Heathfield Knoll School and Nursery
A tsunami of fear submerged over the girls as the glow became stronger like a multitude of fireflies. All you could see was the blinding sight of the two lockets conjoined and the puzzled look on Esta and Ari’s bewildered faces. The overwhelming feeling of deja vu hit the girls at the speed of lightning, when they were sent hovering above the ground . As they dramatically descended, Ari saw a mischievous glint in Esta’s eye and she began to feel like Esta knew something that she didn’t.
“What have you done!” screamed Ari in anger.
“This is why I stay away from people!” sighed Esta.
“What happened? Where are we?” shouted Ari, starting to become very concerned.
“Calm down,” said Esta, which was ironic as her brows were furrowed with concern. “This might take a while to explain but, well…when I was really little, my mother told me the locket was extremely powerful. There were only two of the lockets in the world; however, if they came even near each other, the owners would be transported to the Temple of Time, where the only way to get out is to break both lockets.”
By Year 6, Norton Juxta Kempsey C. E. Primary School
Ari started to breathe heavily, Esta began to think she said something wrong. Old fossilized clocks surrounded the troubled girls. Purple willow trees glinted with an enchanted sparkle, and they realised the crimson twilight clocks didn’t move they were still.
“What do you mean we’re stuck in here?” shouted Ari with a furious tone. With fire in her eyes anger in her soul, she stormed off with Esta on her tail. Esta carefully removed her necklace and stood on it with fury but nothing happened. Although, she felt a hole burning in her heart. She screamed and fell to the ground. Ari spun around in shock and saw Esta lying on the mucky, wet floor in agony.
It went silent and everything stopped. They looked at each other and something between them connected. Over the last few weeks or so, they couldn’t really tell they had something between them both, but really they needed each other to survive. The smiled, a loving, touching smile and picked each other up.
The walls began to rise again, and the clocks once again moved but Esta still wanted to crush the necklace.
She tried for a final time, but the walls slowly crumbled and the girls fell with the walls. Were they going to be ok? What was happening?
By Year 5, Norton Juxta Kempsey C. E. Primary School
Ari looked around desperately, searching for a way out. All around the room there were draped green vines. Ari tugged Esta along, they both started scrambling up the vines. Esta yelled “I see a clock! I see a clock!” Ari rushed over in surprise, together they twisted the rusty old clock anti-clockwise and it started making a weird clanking noise. In shock they both fell in to a trap door, it was pitch black. It was a damp, eerie environment. Ari felt uncomfortable like something was going to jump out at her. Suddenly, Esta started to glow and float upwards. Ari rushed forwards to Esta, hurriedly yanked the locket of Ari’s neck. The locket fell to the floor, Ari stamped on it rapidly. Together they descended out of the temple . . .
By Year 4 and 5, Grove Primary School
THUD! Ari landed in a crumpled heap, with only a bed of crunchy leaves to cushion her fall, which didn’t make much of a difference. Slowly, carefully, she stretched her aching limbs out in front of her, her bones creaking as she rose to a seated position. Apart from her heavy breathing, everything around her was silent. Too silent. Where was Esta?
Panic started to creep up on Ari. Where was she? She was so sure that breaking the locket would take them to the same place! Her eyes darted around the woods, trying to take everything in at once. There was nothing. Nothing at all. Not even an animal in sight. Ari forced herself off the floor, the leaves crunching, crumbling underneath her as she pushed with all her might. She knew she had to find Esta, she just had to. But where was she to start? Left or right? Forwards or backwards? She spun around, looking in every direction, hoping to find the answer. As she was about to step forward, into the unknown, into a part of the woods she had never been, she heard a rustling, the same rustling she heard when Esta had appeared.
She turned and was greeted by darkness, and the trees waving towards her, as if they were inviting her in. Then the rustle happened again. But still, there was nothing. Her heart was pounding so hard, she thought it was going to explode out of her chest. Her breath was getting quicker and quicker. She needed to get out of here but as she tried to move, her legs collapsed from underneath her. She crawled forward, when she saw it. Her necklace. In the entrance of the trees. She crawled quickly to grab it before it disappeared. She clutched it to her chest and cried.
Then she heard, “Ari, what are you doing? We’re late for dinner!”
If you enjoyed reading this story and are looking for ways to get creative at home or in a classroom, then make sure you check out our adventure pack by imitating the dog and our collage kit by Mark Murphy!
If your school wants to get involved with future story relays and other great opportunities contact Joanna Freeman, Projects Manager, Severn Arts [email protected]