To celebrate World Book Day in early March, the English Department invited all boys and staff to enter a one-day competition.
The task they were set was: ‘Imagine you wake up in the world of your favourite novel. Perhaps it is a bedroom at Pemberley, in a hobbit-hole in the Shire or the post-apocalyptic waste land of The Road. Write a 150-word-maximum description of those first few minutes of waking up and experiencing this fictional world.’
Winners and runners-up were chosen from staff and boys with first prize to John Richardson (Elmfield). He chose to write on The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath and his entry is below.
Drowning in a claustrophobically small ward with sickly sea-blue walls trapping a half-dozen beds arranged identically on either side of the room like coffins, I felt breathless. I’d woken up suddenly, jarred from a restless night, lying between a plasticky white duvet and a painfully thin mattress. The beds rested, deadly still, on an overly lacquered wooden floor; apart from one, where a slight young lady with bobbed brown hair was sat up in a calm state of botherment, aimlessly turning the pages of the glossiest fashion magazine she could find. Quite naturally, I think, I was drawn to her blackberry-purple cheeks, which diluted into a secretive, murky-yellow bruising that surrounded her eyes, and wondered what on earth she’d done to herself. She glanced up, momentarily, and locked onto my stare, before declaring an uninterest and returning to the coloured pages.
Flip...flip...flip, the pages ticked methodically, like a clock.