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Ahead of the #LlandeiloLitFest 2017 Short Story Competition (find details at the end of this post)  I’m delighted to publish some of the winning entries of the 2016 competitions here.

First prize in the senior group has been won by

War and Toys written by David Beach from Nantgaredig, Carmarthenshire. Here is his amazing story:11159986_887972984558060_7879834653252858585_n

War and toys

Adnan was staring blankly down at two objects in a toyshop. One was a small, poorly constructed cowboy, and the other was a miniature digger, made of plastic. Maya was forever building wonderful things; the digger would do. An automated store announcement cheerfully directed customers to the new range of dart pistols,

‘Blastastic fun! For indoors, for outdoors…’ it droned on. What if your indoors were your outdoors also? He thought dryly.

 

Already snow was falling as he left the shop, passing by the billboards baying their garish advertisements at the oncoming traffic. It was well into winter and the thick, tarred snow lay in great slugs along the road; a far cry from the Yuletide splendour that Finland promised to the tourists. They came in their droves with fanatic children all raring to see Santa slaving away to sell joy to the millions of people safely sleeping on Christmas eve.

 

It was a solemn and anxious evening as he said his farewells. Maria, his Finnish six year-old daughter, was always sad to see her father leave; her mother would now have to scare away the monster in her wardrobe. His wife, Amena, had a different sort of concern.

‘Be safe,’ she whispered on the threshold with such determination that a lump formed in his throat. He gathered his bags and took a taxi headed for the airport.

 

 

Two weeks later

Dust. Lots and lots of dust. If you put a little water or spit onto it, you can use your hands to make castles. Her father used to tell her off for wasting water but she liked playing in the dust, making castles where fair and just people lived. Her father called it an utopia. They stayed up even when the ground rumbled.

 

She had just built a castle when the ground started rumbling and the sky started thundering. Her brother came running, trampling her castle. She looked back in horror, the tears already welling in her eyes as he dragged her down the street. They dived into their neighbours’ cellar.

‘Your mother is safe, don’t cry. There’s no need to cry over bombs, you’re safe now,’ an elderly neighbour crooned, noticing the tears. But she wasn’t crying about the bombs, or the planes or the men who dropped them over Aleppo. She was crying about her castle. The castle that lay ruined, made by her hands and ruined.

 

Her castle had well and truly vanished, as had most of the street, when they appeared the next morning. A woman was wailing besides a body with a head squeezed like a tomato. Injured people walked, lay and died all about. Nowhere could a castle stand. And through the dust and dirt and danger appeared a figure hauling a large sack. A smile glowed on her face as she joined the other children running towards him.

‘Maya,’ Adnan beamed as she approached, ‘I have just the present for you.’

 

Dedicated to the ‘Syrian Santa’, risking his life to bring toys and hope of a better world to hundreds of Syrian children who, one day, will rebuild their Syria.

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The April Book Fair will again be holding a short story competition and a drawing competition. Details can be found below.

The Award Ceremony will be held on Saturday April 29th at 3pm at the Civic Hall.litfestschoolflier

Here is a picture of the winners from the Christmas Book Fair Story competition December 2016: – Lorna Wright, Theo Dunham and Daisy Ayscough

 

 

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