Thank you to all of our believers who entered our Finish Our Story competition! We were absolutely blown away by all of your amazing, imaginative and creative
stories and we cannot wait to see what you all write next year too! Let’s read our winning stories…
Halloween was fast approaching, and all the decorations were ready except for the most important item of all…. the pumpkin! I had just finished
webbing the cotton cobwebs around the Lavender bushes. “Mam! Can we go and get the Pumpkins?!” I called as I walked into the kitchen – a rich wave
of coffee beans infused the air as I noticed my father’s frothy coffee mug lay discarded atop the Morning News. ‘RECORD BREAKING SHORTAGE OF IRELANDS
PUMPKINS SWEEPS THE NATION’ was stamped across the headline. I bit my lip – “A pumpkin shortage, that’s all we need” I muttered. Pumpkins were
probably the most iconic image of Halloween – they completed it! The carving of Pumpkins had originated in Ireland centuries ago, based on the
legend of ‘Stingy Jack’. The legend goes that Jack had invited the Devil to have a drink with him – but had no money to buy their drinks, so he
asked the Devil to turn into a coin to pay for them – but Jack had tricked him, instead he had slipped the coin into his pocket beside a cross
so that the Devil could not turn back to his original form. He made the Devil promise that he would not bother Jack for one year precisely and,
if he should die, would not claim his soul. Jack confronted the Devil, yet again and told him to climb up a tree to pick a dozen ripe fruits –
but little did the Devil know that Jack had scratched a cross into the tree and made the Devil swear not to bother him for ten years. Not long
after, Jack died, and true to his word, the Devil did not claim his Soul, yet God would not let such a cruel and sly trickster into the gates of
heaven. The Devil, who was upset and furious with Jack’s nasty tricks, sent him off into the night with a single burning coal to light his way.
Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and began to roam the earth alone. In Ireland and Scotland people began to carve frightening faces onto
hollowed out turnips and potatoes (as there were no pumpkins at the time), to ward off Jack and his evil spirits. In England, large beets were
even used! It was only when the Americans westernized it, they discovered that pumpkins were even better to use! They say that even today, Jacks
spirit still wanders the world, especially at Halloween! “Lydia, are you alright?” my Mother asked me. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost” she
laughed grabbing her car keys with a jangle. “Yes, I’m fine” I said breathlessly.
“Have you got the carving knife?” Mam asked me, flustered as she hastily tied on her apron with hands dripping with watery suds. “Yep!” I smile placing
our squash on the worktop. There was a sudden knock on the thick oak door. “Who on earth could that be!” said Mam shaking her head and wiping her hands
on a tea towel as she went to open the door. “Oh – Dad what a surprise! Please come in, come in” I hear a low murmur of voices drifting in from the
hallway.” “I just wanted to ask if you have a trowel I could use and maybe a spare pair of gardening gloves?” That had to be Grandad, I knew that warm,
rough voice anywhere. “Grandad!” I say embracing him with a quick hug. “Your just in time to see us make the face on our squash” I said grinning. I
expected him to ask why we were carving a squash and not a pumpkin, but he didn’t say anything apart from offering a wry smile. “I’ll just go and see
if I can find a spare pair of gloves and that trowel your after” My mother said putting on her boots. “Ah, I don’t want you to go out of your way,
you carve your…em…squash…” he said with a note finality in his voice. He slipped past us and into the garden. “He’s acting very strange,
lately isn’t he?” I said to Mam, once he was out of earshot. “I’m starting to worry about him” Mam adds then realising what she said her eyes darted
to me and she hurriedly made an excuse to grab something from upstairs. I watched her go and my eyes settled on Grandad, he was sifting through our
shed and seemed to be ‘borrowing’ a lot more than he’d asked for. “What is he up to…” I whispered.
I set off to Grandads at around midday. Looking around at the spookified homes as I walked. Many of the neighbours had used potatoes as make-shift pumpkins,
others had used marrows and squashes. Dad had arrived home last night with two mini carnival squashes that I had carved later that day. Only a few
homes had had the idea of using the stripy squashes as they really did look like small striped pumpkins. I noticed Grandad’s garden gate was ajar and
took my chances stepping inside I saw Grandad consulting something hidden in mountains of leaves and vines twice the size of him. “What are you up
too” I said firmly, crossing my arms. Grandad spun around. “What are you doing here!” he said wiping away a bead of sweat on his forehead, his eyes
alarmed. “Why have you been acting so strange recently?” I question. “I’ve…. It was…You see…” He assessed me for a moment. “I’m
not going to lie to you” he sighed and stepped away. Across his allotment were giant, juicy…Pumpkins!!!! “How…” is all I could muster,
dropping down to slide a hand down the pumpkin Grandad was attending to. “I’ve been caring for them and covering them with special sheets to prevent
them from getting damp, I’ve also used heaters I got cheap online” he continued. Dropping down next to me and continued trailing a finger down the
cascading vines. “I’ve cared for them every day, since they were mere seedlings” he said smiling. “How many do you have?” I asked, still awestruck.
“Around sixty” he said standing and gazing at the amber orbs scattered across the allotment. “I only thought half would survive so I could make pumpkin
soup and pie but… look at them all now…” he said breathing deeply with pride. An idea sprouted in my head. “The whole village is without pumpkins….”
I said more to myself than to anyone. The idea blossomed. “Do you have a wheelbarrow?”
Our second winning piece by Kai Kathawala:
A pumpkin sat on a wooden table, surrounded by knives, long metal objects used for cutting things, and a bowl. A girl with long brown hair entered the
room “Oh, the pumpkin!” she said happily. She called to her parents, “Mum! Dad! Can I start on the pumpkin? “Sure,” they called back. The girl picked
up a sharp knife and held it to the pumpkin’s top…..“Wait! Before you start on the pumpkin, you need to clean your room,” called her mother.
The girl groaned, but set down the knife, and with reluctance, left the pumpkin.
The girl went into her brightly colored room and began picking stuffed animals, which are soft cushions designed to look like animals, off the floor. She
made her bed and put her tennis racket, which is a handle with a large oval on top, covered in hard netting, in her basket. Finally, she was done.
She walked out of her room, and into the family room. Her dad was sitting on the couch, watching tennis on the television. The television is a large box,
able to project moving pictures, called “movies” and show recorded videos, which are like trapping a moment in a box and being able to replay the moment
whenever you like. Her father was watching tennis, a sport where you use the tennis rackets* to hit a ball back and forth over a net. The girl was
intrigued by the game; one of her favorite tennis players was playing. She watched for half an hour, until a commercial, which is a video in which
people advertise their businesses, and hope that people will watch the commercials and shop from their store.“……And a happy halloween,” said the
person on the commercial.
The girl jumped up. She’d forgotten about her pumpkin! She ran to the kitchen to find her beautiful golden circle waiting for her. But instead, there,
laying on the newspaper (a stack of papers everybody gets in the morning recalling recent events) the girl had carefully spread over the table, was
a mangled mess of pumpkin. “Oh, no!” cried the girl. “What happened?” She ran to the pumpkin, and was examining it when she heard a small sound. She
looked behind the table, and there, peeking out at her, was her small-ish, furry, large-eyed pet, a thing called a cat. Her cat was named Lily, and
was the girl’s best friend. But the girl had never been so shocked at her cat, and Lily had a smear of orange on her paws to prove it.
“Bad cat!” cried the girl “Very, very bad cat!” She picked Lily up and cleaned the pumpkin off her paws. Then, she cleaned the pumpkin mess in the kitchen.
Just then her mum came in. The girl explained the story, and her mum promised they could go to the store, a big building full of things people might
need, like food and household supplies and clothing, and get a new pumpkin the next day.
So, the next day, the girl zipped up her jacket and gathered her cat into her arms. At the store, she and Lily chose a new pumpkin together. She got it
ready in the kitchen and went to wash her hands. But when she got back, she took one look at the pumpkin and her cat and let out an exasperated and
horrified cry…….Lily had mangled the pumpkin again! The girl looked from Lily to the pumpkin; the pumpkin to Lily; her anger passed through
her face; and she burst into gales of laughter that the entire earth could hear.