the children's story

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Feeding the Ducks

You wake up on a Sunday morning. The sun is shining and you are looking forward to a great day. You go downstairs and, like a good girl, brush your teeth and wash your face. As you pass the window you look out at the park. You long to be out there playing on the swings and roundabout. But no, you have to get ready. You put your head around the door of Mum's room, no one is there. "Probably downstairs," you think. You clamber over your bed and open your wardrobe door. You wonder what to wear and begin pulling clothes out to fall on the floor. You stop as you hear your name called. It's OK, he's at the bottom of the stairs. You wonder what he wants and you jump down the stairs, waving to the ducks as you pass the window.

You look through the door. She is on one sofa, he on the other. Both with anxious looks. Gingerly, you step across the threshold. Your thoughts are racing. You want to mumble, "What have I done?" But the words do not come out. So you stand there, feeling silly, eyes down looking at the carpet.

He tells you She has something to say. Your heart races and your throat pulsates. "My dog, my Granny," you think. Horrible thoughts cross your mind.

"I don't quite know how to say this ..." She starts, but he interrupts, "Get on with it."

"I've fallen in love with another man."

The world seems to stop for a moment. Then it begins to spin and everything starts to move. Round and round. You look at him just as he shouts: "Well, tell her the whole bloody story."

Suddenly, something inside takes over.

"It's all right, I know."

What have you said? You can feel him staring at you. And her? She does not seem to understand, and says his name anyway. You are numb. You want to run but the walls seem to be closing in and there is nowhere to run to. You feel drained of everything. Emotion, anger, willpower, but most of all, love.

Suddenly, something inside takes over and you have to get away. You will yourself to stand up and whilst doing so shout: "I knew something was going on. I hate you."

Then you run. You know there are 14 steps to climb. You make it. Breathless, you slam the door. You sit on your bed and stare out at the ducks. You watch a child about your age feeding the ducks, but suddenly that seems an immature pastime - yet you longed to do it only this morning.

The door opens and you freeze. Do not come near me. Do not touch me. Then you realise it is him. He sits down and puts his arms around you. Makes you feel like the little girl you are. Soothes and comforts you, but still you do not cry.

Then She walks in and you hide. Deep in his arms you burrow, but there seems no way of getting away from her. She touches you and you flinch. She moves away and he mumbles something to her. You do not listen but wonder how he could talk to her. Still he mumbles and every syllable she utters in reply makes you cringe. Still you do not cry.

Jennie Saunders, 14, Dorking, Surrey.

The Children's Story is open to stories of up to 400 words, written by children up to the age of 15, which have not been previously published. Send stories with a stamped, self-addressed envelope large enough for return of original work to Wendy Berliner, The Children's Story, Section Two, the Independent, One Canada Square, London E14 5DL.