Senior winner Mary Goodchild, age 12, Colston Girls' School, Bristol
I could see them. I could hear them and I could feel them. But they weren't there. I heard the knock, and answered it. It was a tough job opening the door, but it had been left slightly ajar and by falling on it, it finally opened. There were wolves on the doorstep. They were scratching, sniffing and generally made me very suspicious. So, being me, I let them in. Their tongues hung out as they padded, soft-pawed up the wooden stairs. My suspicions grew as I remembered where they would be going. My bed is quite small and I didn't know if I could share it with this many wolves. Well, I supposed they could go under it. I closed the door and went to tell Mummy.
That day, I broke past my baby gate while Mummy was on the telephone, dressed the dog up in my old baby bonnet (the dog doesn't seem to like me much), hid Daddy's glasses on the kitchen table (after trying them on both the dog and baby Freddie) and was just getting bored when I heard the next knock. Mummy didn't seem to notice, which wasn't a surprise - she doesn't usually hear the things I do. So I said to her, "Wolves are knocking."
"Oh, wolves again is it? Well we can't have them waiting on the doorstep."
Mummy began to walk towards the door and I tottered after her. One of my dungarees straps had come undone so she stopped to do it up. The door opened swiftly and the wolves entered. One of them I noticed was wearing a top hat.
Mummy was very good about letting my wolves in but she asked, "All in yet Mary?" I could see that she was worried because Freddie was bawling at the top of his voice in the next room. I agreed that they were and promptly wet my nappy.
The wolves had been coming for about six months and every day Mummy would open the door and stand patiently as I counted them in, (actually I would pretend to because I couldn't count then, but Mummy didn't know that).
My cousins came over that evening. It was usually really fun when they came because Susanna, who was 10, played with me and brushed my hair, but today she had brought her friend Verity and they were more interested in each other than me. I was bored. I had nothing to do and I was being ignored - I really didn't like that, so, looking for attention, I decided to tell Susanna and Verity about my wolves. I told them and Susanna laughed. Then Verity said something spiteful and mean, "Oh she's so sweet she thinks there are wolves under her bed".
I wasn't supposed to hear this but I heard it loud and clear. She thinks there are wolves under her bed. My nose started to run, my eyes watered, tears spilled over my lashes. I bawled like Freddie and Mummy came up the stairs.
That night when I went upstairs I looked under the bed; my wolves weren't there.
* Mary's teacher, Jenny Geyl, describes her as "very much her own person and a sophisticated thinker". Jenny used the "Write Away 2" booklet with her class and says "Mud", by Janni Howker was particularly good. Mary has some unusual interests: she keeps a pet rat called Templeton after the character in "Charlotte's Web", and takes part inre-enactments of Civil War battles. Her family are Roundheads in the Sealed Knot, the society that studies warfare in Cromwell's day. Her story is based on clear memories. "When I was three, I used to pretend to count the wolves in about every two days." Freddie, the baby, is 11 now. "He used to pretend to see crocodiles." She improved the ending, though. In reality, she says: "I stopped doing it one day, for no particular reason."