17th June 2005 at 01:00
(My Mum is) A Series of Unfortunate Events By Rachel Culloty, 10, Peterborough high school

Prologue: I saw the film of this name recently. I'd written my story then, and it had the epilogue. Suddenly a new title - and therefore the prologue - occurred to me.

Mum drove me to London last year for an audition at the Royal Ballet School in Covent Garden. Ballet has been my "thing" since I was two. I'm not a "girlie" girl, but I long for those pink satin pointe shoes ("that give you blisters and deformed feet", as my Dad, the doctor, POINTS out at every available opportunity!) "They don't do that any more," I always reply, "as girls are carefully selected for their physique and aptitude for dancing."

That's why my mum had to make fairly radical adjustments to the application form for the audition. Giving details of MY weight and height weren't a problem. When, on the second page, she had to give HERS, she thought it wise to "scale things down" if I were to stand any chance at all! "Of course I'm genetically capable of producing a dancer," she said, looking at the proof - me! "Very fortunately, you take after your Dad's side of the family." Which I do!

Anyway, on the day, we decided to own up to being related to one another.

Mum wore "something slimming" and said she could easily hold her breath in for eight hours if need be... The audition was a nerve-racking yet fabulous experience. Afterwards, after all the tension, there was a sense of anti-climax. With several weeks to wait for results, shopping was now the only answer! We arrived at the car laden down.

I hopped in the back seat. Mum put the bags in the boot, and closed the lid... locking the car keys in the boot also. We had no idea what to do.

"At least you've opened the car and we can sit in the warm," I pointed out.

Mum turned round. Her eyes fell on the arm rest that pulls down in the middle of the car's back seat. "You will have to climb through the arm rest gap, into the boot and crawl around until you can find the keys," she said.

"It's the only way to get them."

We figured that if I could get my shoulders through, my hips should fit also. After a massive squeeze, I got myself into the boot. It was dark and scary! "What if I can't find them?" I shouted. "Pass the shopping that will fit through the hole. You'll make some room," Mum said. "When you find the keys, I'll open the boot. You can get out that way."

It took nearly an hour of that before I finally found the keys and passed them through. The boot was duly opened and I climbed out, a bit battered and very relieved. Mum was delighted with me. "A very good job you're a nice, bendy dancer!" she said, giving me a huge hug.

Epilogue: We were quite pleased with ourselves. We had solved the Car Keys Problem without recourse to either Dad or the RAC. However, our triumphant account of the adventure had cold water poured on it when we got back home.

Mum: Finishing story, proudly resourceful (despite initial stupidity of locking keys in in the first place). Rachel: Slightly battle-scarred, also proudly resourceful (despite initial disbelief in Mother's plan). Dad:

"Why didn't you press the boot release button on the dash board?" Mum and Rachel: Complete silence, Mum realising that she does now remember that there is one. Mum: "You've always got a better idea, haven't you. You take her next time!" Rachel: "Yes, please!"

Rachel, who didn't get into ballet school this time, is the first competitor to have pieces published in consecutive years. The judges did not recognise her style as this year's entry is so different from the previous one, which was a touching description of life with her autistic brother John. "I wanted to do a funny one," she says. Rachel's teacher Anne Harvey says that Write Away has become an annual event in her school. She isn't surprised at Rachel's success, knowing her to be "very competent in a variety of styles". HN

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