‘It’s been a joy and a privilege to read all the entries to Altrincham Word Fest’s historical short story competition for schools during lockdown. At a time when many of us were barely able to concentrate, it’s so impressive that the students were able to research and put together such wonderful, sensitive stories; it was truly moving to read them during our own challenging moment in history. I congratulate each and every one of the young writers who entered.’ Carolyn O’Brien, author of ‘The Song of Peterloo’ and our head judge for the competition.
Winner of Years 7-8 Category – Hollie Davies
‘The winner of the Year 7/8 group was a story about the Warrington bomb in 1993 written with great heart and humanity, keeping its focus on one family and the fact that the terror took place on a Mother’s Day weekend; it certainly packed an emotional punch.’ – Carolyn O’Brien
‘Not every Wish turns out Good’ by Holly Davies
The ecstatic smile said it all. She’d done it. My mum had finally got a job. After so many years of my family being stuck in the dark, the light was showing and we weren’t going to miss our chance of getting immersed in it. I mean, the job might not be amazing, a Saturday nine till five shift at Boots, but its an income. Whether an income big or an
income small, all my wishes payed off and we got that little boost of an extra few pennies in our pocket. Even my twin brother and sister, who are only toddlers, knew that something good was happening and wouldn’t stop clapping. This was the start of something new. The start of our new beginning in the light.
The 20 th March 1993, an excitedly awaited but also dreaded day. Just a few days after the confirmation of a job, my Mum started her first day. When I heard the alarm sounding from her room at 7am, I jumped straight out of bed and ran into her. I tightly wrapped my arms around her body – giving off all the energy I could for good luck. This was finally it. This was the turning point. I remained in my old Tammy – Girl pyjamas, the bottoms hanging just below my knees and the sleeves around my elbow, watching my mum pick out her very best blouse – just a cheap one from C&A. Before long, she was all ready – dressed from head to toe in her most expensive clothes, well probably cheap for other people, but I don’t care. Not now that I know we’ll have a more average fortune. Eight thirty finally came around and as my mum walked down the old driveway, my 3 other siblings and I crowded the doorway – waving madly and blowing dozens of kisses. I couldn’t wait for the evening, when we were all together again – celebrating with our Kwik Save meals.
When Amber, my older sister eventually shut the door, we all agreed, even the toddlers, that we should go and visit Mum at her lunch break. After all, it might calm her nerves a bit and also it was Mother’s Day tomorrow and I was mainly planning on getting her a new book, because she used to read all the time, so I presume she enjoyed it. We planned to leave at around 12pm, that way we could arrive with 15 minutes to spare for Mum’s 12:30pm finish. Amber and I got dressed then dressed Cody and Jessica, all in time for twelve. Just 5 minutes before we left, I emptied my miniature piggy bank onto the stained blue carpet in my shared bedroom and quickly collected the various coins that were scattered everywhere. Five pounds exactly – not bad for an 8 month collection. I ran down the stairs and pushed the double pram sideways out the door as Amber locked it behind me. We arrived in Golden Square two minutes behind schedule as Jessica had been insistent on getting out of the pram and being carried and it wasn’t the day to be dealing with a two-year old’s tantrum. So, I headed with her attached to my hip straight to Waterstones, on Bridge Street, opposite Boots – leaving Amber sat with Cody, in the pram, at the end of Bridge Street. It took me about five minutes to get a cheap enough book and it didn’t help that town was so very busy with other children buying presents and cards. I headed quickly out the shop, as soon as I was done, and headed back down Bridge Street, just in case there was some way that Mum could see me. I wanted my present to be a proper surprise. A surprise that made you really, really happy.
I’d just reached Cody and Amber when we heard it. The deafening bang dominating everyone. Shrill screams filled the air and I was shaking uncontrollably. Cody’s pram was forced into the air and his scream was so, so frightening. Jessica was spread out on the floor, along with Amber. Eyes open wide, still breathing but both stunned with shock.
BANG! Just seconds after the first, another deafening sound filled the air. This time, there was even more screams, metal pieces were flying everywhere and there was no way of avoiding them. Bodies were flung into the air. Blood was trickling down my body and every single direction my eyes turned, all I could see was a sea of people covered in blood. I couldn’t move; I couldn’t see Amber or Cody or Jessica. It was horrific. My ears could just hear cries and screams and shouts of names. Only one thing I heard really and truly caught my attention. Two bombs. Outside Boots and Waterstones. I lay on the floor screaming. Crying. It couldn’t be true. But I knew it was, I heard them. I saw the explosions. I was only a few metres away and had been outside Waterstones just seconds before the explosion. How am I still alive?
My Mum – her first day at work in Boots. One bomb exploded outside there. I wished for her to get the job. I didn’t wish for her death. I would never survive without her. My brother. My sisters. All these people. All those children, as well as myself, that I seen out buying presents. I wish now for all their lives to be saved. Saved…
I woke up staring at a white, tiled ceiling. The sounds of footsteps running around me. Strange tubes stuck all over my body. A nurse. A nurse approaching me, her mouth moving quickly, her eyes fixated on mine. I only picked up a few of her words. I’d been here 6 days. My own family were injured but alive. Two innocent, young boys were dead. 56 innocent people injured.
Why was Warrington bombed? Why take two lives? Why destroy all the remaining lives? I couldn’t understand…
*Although the Warrington bombing is officially too recent to be classified as historical fiction, Holly asked us for special permission to write about it as she feels very strongly about the subject.