17th June 2005 at 01:00
Crystal Memory By Briony Millman, 13, Gresham's school, Holt, Norfolk

As I sat in the gleam of sunshine falling through my window, a loud sound curiously like an elephant on the rage destroyed the silence. The book I was reading fell from my hands as I got up from the sofa to look out of my window at the scene below. Everything was quiet again outside but, with that one glimpse, the calm had been shattered into millions of needle-fine atoms. It was pale and white. The day had been dry and the sky was cloudy, making everything look like it had been covered in a silver cloud of dust.

And out on the road, the body of a young man was laid out like a bearskin rug, limp and lifeless.

Both of his shoes had been knocked from his body and were on the other side of the road. His crushed helmet was lying in the entrance to my driveway and seemed as if it was staring at me, a sentinel guarding the body. He was already so pale, and his limp lifeless body was clouded, as if covered by a thin shroud of mist, a strange pall. All except his face. From his mouth, a stream of blood was gently flowing, and was stark against his chin. Both his eyes were open, pale and vacant, staring at the pale sky. The second in which I stared down at him was an aeon, but I ran out of the room and down the stairs faster than ever before, out to the back garden to find my mother. I had to shout over the sound of the lawnmower to make her understand.

"Someone's been hit by a bus!" I shouted and it echoed in my head over and over as I tore back through my house to the front door. It looked as if it was in black and white, or I didn't notice any colour in the house, and as I stood looking out of the frosted glass windowpanes, I could see my neighbours tentatively making their way out of their own houses. I managed to clear my head for long enough to open the door. As I made my way down the cold driveway without my shoes, stones digging into my soles, I saw a man who I dimly remembered as my neighbour. He stood up and shook his head.

I was completely bewildered. The woman who lives next door walked past me, with slow, measured steps, like an old clockwork toy. She looked up at me and said, "He's dead." Then she carried on walking back to her house to phone an ambulance.

The rest of the evening was like a ceremony for the dead of some long-passed ancient tribe. We all lit candles, as if to guide his spirit, and none of us could close our curtains, as it would seem to block him out and condemn him to wander life in secret, with other dead from other places that night. The police led his crying mother to see the body, and I wonder how much all the other people affected by it think about him, his mother, his family and friends.

And still sometimes, when I'm walking up the road on dark, cold, lonely nights as I walk back from school in the winter, I think of him. I spare him a thought and wonder if he knows that he's in my mind, a crystal-clear memory.

The tragic incident Briony describes happened about six months ago. She says, "When you hear on the news that someone has been killed, you soon forget. I thought that not many people will have heard about this and it shouldn't be forgotten. That made me want to write about it." She likes writing fiction and poetry, which is something she shares with her father and grandfather, and she has just been chosen to throw the discus at an open athletics meeting in Norfolk. One day, Briony would like to work in the media and she has already taken up photography as a hobby. Briony's teacher, Carolyn Thomas, says that Briony is an accomplished poet. "We do creative writing all the time. As an independent school, we can do less testing and more teaching." She has enjoyed using Write Away and plans to do so in future. HN

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