Sammy the sparrow

I want to tell you the true* story of Sammy the sparrow. He was born under my roof and is very new to this world. About a month ago, his mum and dad decided that he needed to go out and explore the area, see the wonders of Pitsidia for himself. And this is what happened.

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Sammy in safe hands

“Don’t go too far,” his mother warned. “Your wings are still very young and you will need to gradually build up your strength.”

Sammy was nervous, and scurried to the back of the nest as his brothers and sisters all took the leap of faith from the rooftop. He watched in fear as they plummeted to the ground, but then his heart filled with joy as he saw them all rise again into the air, one by one. With renewed confidence, Sammy strutted towards the edge of the tiles and looked down to the ground below. His eyes went blurred and he felt a knot growing in his stomach.

“Go on son,” his Dad encouraged. “You can do it, just remember to flap your wings.”

Sammy gulped, and took one last look back at his Mum and Dad, their faces full of hope and pride. He breathed in, and took a step forward.

“Flap Sammy,” his Dad shouted from above, but Sammy couldn’t hear him. All he could see was the ground getting closer and closer. Then he remembered, I just need to flap my wings, he thought.

Soon Sammy was flying high in the air, high above the houses and the trees. Everything looks so small from up here, he thought. He flew past the garden gate, round the wild fig tree, beyond the school. He looked back and his home was a tiny dot on the horizon. But then he started to feel tired. His wings wouldn’t work any more. He needed to rest, but knew it wasn’t safe to stop here. He turned around and headed back up to his home on the hill.

I made it, he thought as he flew past the olive tree at the bottom of the garden. He could see his Mum and Dad screaming to him from the roof, but then his wings just stopped working. He collapsed to the floor and just lay there, with no energy to move. A movement from the bushes caught his eye, a huge white cat stalking towards him.

Sammy desperately flapped his wings but couldn’t get more than a few inches from the floor. His parents were calling out to him, but there was nothing they could do but watch. The white cat pounced, and caught Sammy under it’s paws. He wriggled, trying to free himself, and the cat removed a paw, setting him free. But the freedom didn’t last long before he pounced again. He’s playing with me, Sammy thought. He’s playing with me before he eats me! Oh why didn’t I listen to my Mum.

“Oi, get off, shoo,” a thundering sound came from near the house. A lady person

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Sammy in the container

was running towards them both waving her hands. The cat ran off, leaving Sammy cowering on the spot. The human lady gently bent down and looked at him. He tried to fly away, but his wing was sore from where the cat had banged it into the floor. Help me, Sammy thought looking pleadingly at the lady.

 

“You’ll be okay,” she said, scooping him up and wrapping him in a towel. He wanted to be brave, but he couldn’t stop shaking. He was scared, and didn’t know if this person was friend or foe. She gently placed him in a container with smelly old, dry leaves. Whether from relief or terror Sammy couldn’t be sure, but he suddenly wet himself.

“Don’t worry,” the lady whispered down to him. “I’ll find out what to do. I’ve got the power of Google on my side!”

A few minutes later, the lady was taking him upstairs, up towards the roof where his Mum and Dad lived. She carefully lent out over the balcony and placed the container on the rooftop, right above his nest. He could hear his brothers and sisters bickering below him. He started jumping around, still unable to use his wing, but desperate for them to hear him. Then the lady disappeared through the door, and he saw her watching him from behind the glass.

“Mum, Dad, I’m here,” Sammy called out.

“Oh thank goodness,” his Mum said flying over to him. “I’ll be straight back. You’ll need some food to regain your energy.”

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Sammy’s Mum (on the left) returning with some food

Sammy’s Mum soon reappeared with something in her beak. She flew up to the side of the container and popped the item in his mouth. He swallowed it whole, not realising how hungry he had been.

“Thanks Mum,” he said flapping his wings tentatively.

“Are you ready?” she asked as he nodded eagerly.

The lady person watched with a smile on her face as the two sparrows flew off together, landing on a branch in the olive tree. They were soon joined by the rest of the family all chirping and tweeting about what they had seen on their maiden flights, Sammy’s ordeal soon forgotten.

Sammy looked back up to the window. Thank you lady, he thought.

*Sammy’s family have been put in witness protection after testifying against the white cat, so I’ve been unable to verify all the facts as I would have liked. Therefore some of the story has been assumed and I apologise for any misrepresentation that may have occurred as a result.

ON A SERIOUS NOTE: If you find an injured or fallen bird, please check the RSPB website for information on what to do. For example, you should never give it food or even water (you might drown it). And ideally you would either return it to the nest, or call a local bird sanctuary to come and collect it. Find out more on their website.

Creative writing: narrative viewpoint

Write a short scene from a specific character’s point of view, in the first, second or third person.

I walked into the room and could feel all eyes on me. People stopped talking and just stared. One of the waiting staff hurried over to me and began gently ushering me toward the door.

I scanned the room, looking for him but seeing only disgusted faces and muttered whisperings. Then I saw him. He was with a small group of people with their backs to the commotion, backs to me. I shrugged off the waiter and started striding towards him, people parting readily to get out of the way of the crazy woman.

And maybe I am crazy. Why would I want to go back? Hadn’t I hurt him enough already? And now that the cancer had spread, I would end up hurting him all over again and it would be worse this time. But last night when he called to reconcile I had been so rude. I told him lies. I told him I didn’t love him, that I was with someone else, that I had moved on – none of it true.

The waiter was still trying to grab at my arm and pull me towards the door, but the adrenaline had kicked in and nobody was going to stop me. Nobody, except maybe James. I was about to relinquish control, surrender my heart and soul to him like he had done to me all those months before. I just have to hope he will make a better guardian than me!

“James?” The group stopped talking and all eyes fell on me. James turned slowly around at the sound of my voice, his eyes revealing the hurt I had caused him.

“James, I’m sorry,” I said. “What I said last night, it’s not true!”

“I know Annie, your brother told me the cancer was back. Why didn’t you tell me?”

Everyone was listening, but for once I didn’t care. “I’m sorry. I thought it would be easier for you not knowing. That you’d be able to move on, have a happy life without having to nurse me during my last days. But when I found out you were moving to New York today, I couldn’t let you go, not without… without telling you.”

I broke down and fell in a crumpled heap to the floor. James bent down and whispered in my ear, “Don’t you think that’s my choice? And Annie, I choose you. I choose you every time. I love you and I will love you for the rest of my life. And if I only get the next two years with you, or two months, or two weeks, then I know those will be the happiest times of my life if you let me share them with you!”

I sobbed harder than I had in years, and flung my arms around his neck. He picked me up, carried me to the door, and I knew then that I would be able to fight, and maybe… just maybe… I could win! 

Creative writing: the use of dialogue

Write a short scene in which you move the action forward by means of dialogue

Chloe and Simon moved slowly along the ledge. “I really don’t like this Simon, it’s getting narrower.”

“We don’t have a choice Klo, we can’t afford to go through the forest and risk being seen. Just don’t look down.”

“Why did you have to say that? Now that’s all I want to do!” She concentrated on where her feet were going. “Oh my god, we’re going to die!” she muttered under her breath.

A screeching came from above. “Actually, don’t look up either,” he said holding out his hand towards her. “It’s just another few feet, then back onto normal paths again.”

“Simon, what just caused that shadow?” she asked.

“It’s just a bird Klo, just keep looking at your feet. We’re nearly there.” Simon reached the wider ledge, and turned to Chloe.

“Simon! Watch out!”

Something flew inches away from the top of Simon’s head. “Quick, Chloe. We need to get out of here! CHLOE!” Simon reached out for her just as she lost her footing, and grabbed her wrist.

“Simon! Simon! I can’t… Simon, don’t let go, please… help me!” Chloe could see a mass of jagged rocks teasing her 500m below her dangling feet.

“Don’t worry Klo, I’ve got you. There is a ledge just by your right foot, feel it? Good. Now, just above that there is a branch which you can reach with your left foot… don’t worry, I’ve got you.”

“I can’t feel anything, where is it… I can’t Simon, I can’t…”

“It’s okay, I’ve got you. Look down and you will see the branch. Great! Now I’m going to let go…”

“No Simon, no! Don’t let go!”

“It’s okay Chloe, I’m just going to let go for a few seconds, while I lower myself to the ground. Hold onto the rock.”

Simon lay on his front and reached over trying to grab Chloe round her waist.

“You’re going to have to edge a little bit further towards me Klo. Lean a bit further… Got you!”

Simon pulled her up over the edge just as the creature swooped again, narrowly missing them.

“Quick, get up. We need to get out of here.”

They ran along the path and reached the side of the ravine where they crawled under a thicket. They sat in silence for what felt like an eternity.

“I think it’s gone,” said Simon. “I haven’t heard any sounds from out there for the past hour. We’re safe… for now.”

“What… what was that?” asked Chloe.

“I don’t know, and I don’t think I want to know. We should be safe here for a while though. Come on, why don’t you try and sleep for a bit. I’ll take first watch.”

Chloe laid her head in his lap, and almost immediately fell asleep.

“I’m sorry I got you into this,” Simon whispered. “But I will get you back to safety, if it’s the last thing I do.”

A creative writing assignment

As part of my quest to become an author, I have enrolled on the London School of Journalism’s Creative Writing course. I’m hoping that they will not only give me some much needed feedback on my novel, but also teach me new skills. I have decided that sometimes, instead of a regular blog, I will post some of the isolated assignment pieces I have done as part of the course… no sneak peeks at my novel yet though! So here is the first one.

Write a short scene in which you reveal character through dialogue and action.

Janet walks into the room and she can feel people’s eyes on her, taunting her.

“What is she wearing?” Becca whispers to Ella. “Someone should tell her that floral pink dresses should be kept for children’s parties only. NOT school discos.”

They both snigger, and Ella adds “Yeh, and ginger people should NEVER wear pink at all. It clashes so badly.”

Janet notices everyone whispering, but chooses to ignore it and walks with her head held high over to the buffet table. She picks up a vol-au-vent and then someone taps her on the shoulder. She turns and sees her best friend Lottie.

“Wow, Lottie. You look beautiful. That 19d6f592304e856417d9a971114b630fdress is stunning. It’s so sparkly.” Janet looks awkward and pats down her own dress. “Mum couldn’t afford a new dress, so I’ve got to wear this hideous thing from the 80s!”

“You look great Jan. I love what you’ve done with your hair.”

Janet plays with one of her ringlets, “Thanks, I borrowed my sister’s heated curlers. She’ll go mad if she finds out!”

Becca strolls over to the table and looks Janet up and down.

“Why Janet, don’t you just look delightful,” she says with a sneer. “I mean, I wish I could pull off blue eye-shadow and pink lipstick. It’s such a daring look, but it really brings out your freckles.”

“Go away Becca,” Lottie says putting her arm around Janet. “Loving your shoe accessory by the way. It really sums you up!”

Becca looks confused, but then looks down at her feet and notices a long strip of toilet roll stuck to her pink peep toes. She quickly rips it off and red-faced, turns around and storms off.

Lottie turns back to Janet. “Take no notice of her Jan, just because her mum and dad buy her expensive dresses and shoes, doesn’t mean she has style. I mean, if I had her bum, I would not be caught dead in a lycra dress!” They both giggle, and sit down at a table with some of their class mates.

“Hi Janet.” She looks up and sees Henry from her Physics class sat across from her.

“Oh hi Henry, I like the tweed suit. Very smart. It matches your glasses, gives you a very sophisticated look.”

Henry blushes. “Thanks. You look very pretty tonight.” His gaze remains fixed on the table. “I was wondering… would you… I mean, I would very much like… would you join me for a dance?” He keeps his head down, but allows himself to steal a glance at her and sees she is smiling.

“I would love to dance Henry, but let me just take these god-awful heels off first. They are not built for dancing.” She takes her shoes off and follows Henry to the middle of the room. A slow song comes on and she leans her face against his shoulder, and they both just know: this is where they belong.