Arianna Connelly: Bassiano’s Monologue

Gold. Silver. And lead. Hmm, which I shall I choose? Gold, a beautiful metal, would symbolise materialistic and valuable possessions; however, a sense of greed…  Silver, despite its preciousness, it’s not as quite luxurious as gold – perhaps displaying a cautious greed… At last, lead. Lead? I wonder why lead is present within the range of these caskets. Lead portrays warning and danger; if so, I’d risk anything for my beloved Portia – in spite of the consequences. I have nothing to offer but my love for her, I don’t own anything as exquisite as gold nor silver which is why I’ve made my decision to settle with the lead casket. Portia is more than a priceless necklace or a shimmering crown. She needs someone who would risk everything for her, a brave and courageous man like me! However, I can’t stop contradicting myself. I couldn’t bear the thought of some disgustingly rich prince stealing Portia away as some type of reward or to boost his ego even more plus benefiting his wealth.

The lead casket is calling to me. I can hear the words, “Open me, open me” repetitively spiralling in my head. The words get gradually louder and louder- until I reach my hand out.

I examine the casket carefully, the chest is made from a humble metal, and within the chest, I encounter a picture as well as a poem of Portia. I glance at the poem, scanning every cursive word. And just in that moment, I realise that I have opened the correct one! I’m still in disbelief that I have obtained the fairest woman within the land. Oh, my sweet Portia! Even the moment I laid my eyes on her I was captivated by her enchantress; her long, luscious hair as it glistened in the sun and her angelic ocean eyes hypnotising me into an extraordinary spell.

Nonetheless, the lead casket recognises Portia as herself. Portia won’t remain young and beautiful forever. Eventually she’ll grow to be old and plain – despite it, her inner beauty will last for eternity, furthermore my unconditional love.

*  *  *

Finally, the day arrived when I married my true love. I felt superior as numerous amounts of maids were either polishing my shoes, delicately washing my suit or fixing my hair with many applications of gel. I already felt one step closer to being a king. I was escorted to my bedroom, the maids insisted of cleaning my room before my arrival. As I entered the room I was continuously gazing at the magnificent golden decorations throughout the room, appreciating every amount of detail. Most importantly a gigantic bed full of soft clouds – it was very tempting to lay amongst it, however I managed to resist the urge. I was startled by the loud knock from the door; it was Portia’s lady in waiting, Nerissa? I’m positive that was her name. She led me to the church, to end up discovering that the whole nation was invited! A wave of terror washed over me. My heart was pounding. Palms sweaty. Knees trembling. Nevertheless, I managed to relax myself – breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out. Slowly, step-by-step, I made my way towards the altar, patiently waiting for Portia. As the doors slowly opened, an elegant melody began playing – and as they widened, Portia finally appeared. As she walked along the aisle the church began to brighten in her presence. She was breathtaking, radiant, glamorous – no possible words could describe how perfect she looked. I held her hand tightly, with a beaming smile upon my face. I looked deeply into her eyes and said…

“I do…”

Orla Keenan: What Happened Next?

Lieutenant Kotler made his way into the trench, allowing his legs to collapse beneath him. The distant sounds of weapons being fired were slowly merging with a ringing noise that was growing louder by the minute. He had been here for so long that he was losing sight of who he was before. He could remember snippets, of a Bruno? or maybe a Gretel? He shook his head; he was being silly.

He slumped against the hard trench wall, knocking blades of grass over the edge of the trench as he slid down onto the floor. He found a ragged blanket to shield his clothes from the dirty floor. The ringing was becoming deafening. He looked up into the grey sky and pondered… where did he desperately want to be? He wanted to be back at the manor, being ordered around but warm and full. What did he want the most? To see his father again, he

He awoke with a gasp as rain hurled down on him. The trench floor had become somewhat of a mud bath and the mud was seeping through the rag. Though… something was missing… something he’d been listening to for what felt like years. The noises had stopped. It was eerily quiet. He reached out for a stray weed hanging out of the wall and used it to pull himself up. He peered above the wall. Just as he thought. No guns were being fired.

He slow rose out of the trench, stumbling over the loose dirt on the edge. His head pounded, his eyes couldn’t focus and it was just so hard to walk.

He reached the barbed wire, hesitating to look around. His hands automatically latched around the wire, he hissed through gritted teeth as he quickly pulled them back as the spikes dug into his skin. A mist hung over no-man’s land, helping the droplets of rain to blind him further. He clambered over the barbed wire, lodging a sliver of wood into his palm, but that didn’t matter. He was going to get into the Allies’ trench and stop the war and –


Eva Black: The Village Idiot

Dear Diary,

Wow… just wow. I had the WORST day ever today. After strain and excruciating pain, I eventually put together my speech for Bothwell’s annual, local village politician elections. I even put great, big, smart words in it, like boondoggle, idiosyncratic and narcissist… don’t laugh! They are real words, it even said so on the website! But these young, modernised, stupid millennials don’t understand these words like I do! They can hardly say them, never mind know what they mean. For example, they don’t know that spectacular means very, very bad, or that insidious means extremely happy, or even that tedious means really good! Who doesn’t know that?! Anyway, I’ll tell you all about my spectacular day…

I woke up at ten o’clock sharp, to the sound of my Thomas the Tank Engine alarm clock. I got out of my bed and put on my clothes; my bright red tank top, my sunny yellow trousers, my lucky, green socks and my matching green shoes. I strolled down to my kitchen, where my wife was making my breakfast. She looked at me, her face full of love and compassion and said, ‘Oh, it’s you… Are you sure you want to be the local politician? I mean, it is a very important job and you might not be able to cope with all of the responsibility and pressure.’ I laughed; this woman knows nothing. ‘I did not take one… I mean nine years of online university to back out of a huge election like this!’ I said. She sighed and looked at the floor. ‘Of course darling, I didn’t mean to offend you… now sit down, I’ve made you some breakfast.’ What a silly woman. ‘Lauren, you know that I cannot eat a big breakfast today! I have to go to the town hall to prepare my speech and election campaigns,’ I explained. ‘Now goodbye,’ I continued, walking out the door. ‘Make sure to vote for me, Neil Black at today’s elections.’

When I got outside, I breathed in the cold, crisp, new spring air. ‘Today,’ I thought, ‘is the day, in which I will become the greatest village politician of all time.’ I chanted my motto three times in my head – ‘Make Bothwell Great Again! Make Bothwell Great Again! Make Bothwell Great Again.’ – then walked down my driveway, opened my gate and strolled down my street, towards the town hall. Momentarily, I saw Mrs Moon, my neighbour sauntering towards me, with her small, white dog Coco. As I passed her I called, ‘Hope you’re feeling insidious today, Mrs Moon! Make sure to vote for me at the elections!’ She stared at me rudely and shook her head, which I thought was rather odd, but Mrs Moon’s always acting out-of-the-ordinary, so I walked on.

Soon I was at the town hall. I lifted my head and looked at the clock face smiling down upon me. I stalked into the town hall, and was greeted by my faithful assistant Bobby Jones. ‘Hello, Mr Black,’ he said. ‘Nervous about today’s elections?’ I rolled my eyes in disappointment. ‘Bobby, have you listened to anything I said in the past? Success is most often achieved by those who don’t know that failing is inevitable, as I like to say.’ I replied, full of wisdom. ‘But Mr Black,’ Bobby started, ‘it was Coco Chanel that said that…’ ‘Quiet Bobby,’ I commanded, haughtily.

After practicing my tedious speech three times, the election hustings was about to begin. I chanted my motto three times again in my head: ‘Make Bothwell Great Again! Make Bothwell Great Again! Make Bothwell Great Again!’ Suddenly, I felt a sharp tap on my shoulder. Bobby was standing, trembling with fear, pointing at something. I turned to see what he was pointing at: my arch nemesis, Tom Humphrey. Oh, how spectacular he was! Oh, how I wanted to beat him in the election! He smirked at me, showing me his perfect, pearly white, gleaming teeth. I felt an urge to punch him square in the face, but decided against it as he would probably get very, very hurt. So I smiled, through gritted teeth.

I felt another sharp tap on my shoulder. I turned around to face the most beautiful woman I had even seen. Her bouncy blonde hair danced like… dancers, her gorgeous blue eyes sparkled like… sparkles and her smile gave me buttercups. ‘It’s your turn to go on stage now; good luck!’ she breathed. Gosh, even her voice was perfect! ‘Thank you,’ I said, sheepishly, blowing her a kiss then turning away and making my way onto the stage.

I sashayed onto the stage, blowing the audience kisses. I strutted towards the microphone and grabbed hold of the sides of the podium. ‘Hello, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, old people and young people, fat people and thin people and tall people and short people. Why am I here today, you may be asking yourselves? That is a very good question,’ I started, looking around the audience for approval, although everyone looked confused. ‘Well, the question you should be asking yourselves is, why are you here today? Is it because you like going to elections or is it that you like hearing beautiful, amazing, talented people like me speak? Some of you may be sitting thinking, ‘wow, this man is a narcissist,’ but I cannot help being beautiful.’ I looked up and scanned the audience again, to see if they were intently listening to my speech. To see if they laughed at the joke I made. No-one was laughing, or even smiling for that matter. ‘Anyway, these are my policies…’ Then, I was rudely cut off.

‘You’re not the prime minister!’ someone at the back shouted. I raised my hand for silence and cleared my throat. ‘Here are my policies,’ I repeated. ‘Firstly, I want to build a wall.’ The hall went silent. ‘I want to build a wall, to separate us from Uddingston. For too long, they have brought their Uddingston-born dogs into out village! For too long, they have used our local Marks and Spencer’s! For too long, they have made boondoggles out of us! For too long, they have walked on our pavements, used our schools and have played in our play grounds. I say NO to Uddingston.’

Suddenly a couple of boos had turned into hundreds of boos, and soon the whole town hall was booing: even the beautiful blonde woman, even my wife, even Bobby! I nearly started crying there and then, but I didn’t. Instead, I raised my hand for silence again. ‘Secondly, I believe that people in this village should shower only once a week, to lower this villages water bills.’ Once again, the hall was silent. ‘Showering is not necessary. One time I went three weeks without showering and – ’ ‘Again I was cut off by the same person, shouting, ‘I vote No to Neil Black’ at the back of the hall. ‘Someone needs to take that idiosyncratic man away now,’ I demanded. Abruptly, the whole town hall erupted in booing, like a big, torrential wave crashing over me. I stood for a moment, not knowing what to do, then said, ‘Thank you for listening, and remember. My aim is to make Bothwell great again!’ I walked off the stage, and stood backstage, not saying a word.

Tom Humphrey strutted past me, onto the stage and gave this speech about charity and helping people less fortunate than ourselves… BORING! I was sure that I was going to win after that. Then people started voting. After around ten minutes, the votes were all in and counted and the winner was ready to be announced. I stood confidently, smiling out at the crowd.

‘The results are in,’ said the tall, skinny man at the podium. ‘And Bothwell’s new local councillor is… Tom Humphrey!’ I choked on the air. Spluttering, I ran up to the mean, tall announcer, pushed him and said, ‘I demand a recount!’ Security guards sprinted up and, taking me by the wrists, dragged me out of town hall.

Now, I don’t know what to do. I just feel… broken. But hang on. My story doesn’t end here! I can just move to Hamilton and be their local politician!

Your Sincerity,

Neil Black.