Inksters of the Week: Skylar Peters, and Annan Goldsmith

Thursday 19th October 2023

Two fantastic pieces of Year 11 writing this week - enjoy!

Skylar Peters: Shell Shock

A gray, trembling hand lifts a cup of tea up to a pair of gray, trembling lips. Tea is spilled onto a freshly washed dress shirt. The old man shudders a sigh. He stands on his gray, trembling legs and uses them to maneuver his way to the kitchen sink. There, he rests his gray, trembling hands on the sides of the basin and looks out the window. He looks up at the gray, trembling sky and the gray, trembling trees. Everything is colorless. Nothing is stable. The old man makes his gray, trembling way towards his bedroom.

The old man swings open his pale wardrobe door and reaches for another plain white dress shirt. He unhooks the wire coat hanger, revealing a dark green uniform, clad with medals and badges of honor that perfectly gleam in the light. With these medals come a rush of memories, memories he'd rather forget.

Dead silence. Not even birds dared to chirp in fear of the monsters. The monsters that murdered in cold blood. The monsters that destroyed cities. The monsters that killed each other. The once vibrant country of Poland was now a dusty, desolate field of dirt that spanned kilometers in either direction. Trenches were like ant farms that crawled across the dirt field, split down the middle by rows of barbed wire. Inside the ant farm, one of the monsters sat. Its dark green uniform was worn and faded by the harsh environment. It hunched over itself, resting its elbows on its knees. It struck a match, lighting a cigarette. Smoke billowed from the paper roll, smothering the monster's face.

Gray steam swirls its way from the cup of tea on the old man's lap into his stress-creased face. He seems to be staring at something out of the window, but his eyes are glossy as if a movie was playing inside his retinas.

Gunfire rang out across the trenches, and the monster quickly rose, placing the cigarette between its teeth. It peered over the trench and rested its face against its contraption, aligning its eye down the scope. The contraption was created for one thing only: murder. The monster steadied its breathing. In. Out. In. Out. Its cigarette falls from its teeth onto its hairy arm. The monster pulls back in shock.

As the old man forces the cup of tea to his quivering lips, a drop of the brown liquid jumps out onto his pale arm. It sears his arm, but he doesn't seem to notice.

The monster pulls itself out of the trench, on hands and knees. It charges forward, clutching its weapon as if it were its lifeline. Its eyes dart to the side crazily as it spots a hint of movement in the enemy trench. It aligns its weapon towards the dark green helmet and drops its hand to the trigger.

An expression of horror, anger, and regret spreads across the old man's face. His hand drops to his waist, and the cup of tea falls in slow motion.

Bang! The weapon fired.

The cup shatters on the kitchen tiles.

The monster reached the edge of the trench where the body of its victim lay, stomach down in the mud. A gunshot wound can be observed in the left shoulder. With twitching muscles and a deep release of breath, it seemed like the victim's life had left its body, until its right arm jolted outward, snatching its weapon from the ground. The monster's eyes widened in fear. It leapt atop the body as a hyena pounces upon wounded animals. It drove the end of its weapon into the back of the defenseless animal and twisted. The monster stabbed out of fear. Fear for its own life. Once the body was as cold and full of holes as Swiss cheese, the monster rolled its victim over. This revealed a young Polish boy, no older than fourteen. Broken glasses bent over the boy's freckled, bleeding nose, and a crumpled letter labeled 'Mama' poked out from the pocket of his oversized trench coat.

The monster had claimed another kill, but where was the glory? Where was the glory in the murder of a defenseless child? Where was the glory in taking a son away from a mother? Where was the glory in war?

The old man chokes back a sob. He had enlisted for the promise of glory and fame but received guilt and regret instead. He was awarded medals of honor which in reality represented the crimes he had committed.

He was jolted back to the present world by the ring of his doorbell. The old man leans forward, forgetting the coaster as he places his tea on the harsh wood surface of the coffee table. He rises from his couch and makes his way to the front door. He swings the door open to be greeted by his young grandson. The boy wore large round spectacles over his freckled face and an oversized army costume. The boy rushes forward to greet his grandfather with a warm embrace around his left leg.

"One day I'm going to be a soldier like you, Granddad!" the boy exclaimed excitedly. To that, the old man solemnly replies, "Oh, I'm sure you will, kiddo."

Annan Goldsmith - Untitled

A stunned mind, encapsulated by the dizziness of crashing and ringing, slowly starts to dissipate. My head clears, and my body slouches up, but the feeling of falling still remains. As my eyes awaken, I find myself situated in an unfamiliar room. Natural instinct comes through immediately, and I start to survey each and every object. Peeling paint gives me the suspicion of abandonment and time. Large barrels filled with some mysterious liquid provoke the thought of an old brewery. But the faint light that seeps through the rafters above gives me the answer. The light from above highlights the parched hay that lies between the piles of deserted work tools and rusting machinery. Just a simple old workshop. The barn seems to be void of any life, so my brain attracts me to something I am familiar with. Intricate joints and carpentry joined with millimeter-accurate cuts let me know that the owner of this place must have been a legendary carpenter, but as I slide my finger across the joints, a sudden aroma captivates my interest. The change from stagnant dust encourages me to follow it. The smell escorts me through the dim light until I eventually arrive face-to-face with bundles of matcha leaves. The scent numbs out my injuries, so naturally I reach out to get a closer, detailed smell. But before I know it, an outcropped plank of timber from the dilapidated floor reaches for my foot, sending me over. I try to grab onto anything solid enough to save myself, but there is no such luck, and I strike the pile. The mound sways over from my mass, but it does not stop there. Behind the matcha stands a hidden ancient door, one that must have been sealed for centuries, locked up by the treasure of time.

The door heaves open, and I tumble into the ground. As I scramble to get upright, an immersive show of light shines throughout the barn. My fragile eyes take time to adjust, but as soon as they have, they drop on the floor once again. In front of me lies the most beautiful hidden oasis. Water clearer than glass magnifies throughout, while fish dressed nice enough for a wedding peer at me like an oddity. Trees encapsulate the lake, each one looking like it has been garnished by the finest horticulturists. As I stand there, surrounded by this beauty, I break down. I collapse on the ground, and before I can stop it, tears large enough to flood this lake wash out. They carry the hostility that had been wedged inside my brain. My head, mind, gut, and entire body shake in pain while my hands go numb. After a couple of minutes, I am able to rise again. The sharp pain in my back and the thought of falling begin to dissipate. Looking back behind me, a sign is strung up from the gables. It stands beside a path and reads bold words. With my hands still shaking, I approach it and read the sign aloud.

“Just because it’s taking time... doesn’t mean it’s not happening... everything happens for a reason, so when you don’t know the reason... It’s because you’re in the happening.” I struggle to understand the words but get a sense of urgency. Without thought, my legs start to take me along the uncertain path.

Mountains begin to rise on either side of me, each one shading the path making it difficult to follow. At the same time, the thought of having no idea where I will end up frightens me. But I will not be deterred. The kilometers begin to gather, and with each passing object, the atmosphere subdues. Falling leaves gather in neat stacks, almost as if they are counting down. Up ahead, an object begins to arise. This milestone had been encountered a thousand times before. Yet, it keeps stories that still remain stagnant, not a single ear ever hearing its depth. I brush my hand across the stone, and grand words reveal themselves. They read, “Bad chapters can still create great stories... wrong paths can still lead to right places... and failed dreams can still create successful people... sometimes it takes losing yourself... to find yourself.” My body aches, and the thought of taking a break echoes through me. But I now realize the sky does not pause for anybody, and if I want to make it, I cannot ponder for long before enduring on with my journey.

The trees become sparse, each one replaced ten to one with wild grasses. The dainty track follows lead, evolving into the sharp incline of the mountain and becoming one with this new environment, stretching out like a delicate wave. All of a sudden, I am making my own path, and now I'm stumbling across the top of the mountain ridges, each step weighing a ton. A peak comes into view, and with my last piece of strength, I push to the top, where an old friend is waiting patiently. They give me a last piece of advice; they say, "The gods envy us. They envy us because we are mortal, because any moment might be our last. Everything is more beautiful because we're doomed." I realize my real journey has only started. Although, without the luxuries of life, everything I needed I already had. With the knowledge and wisdom of a different perspective on life, I scale my way back down the mountain. I decide to create my own garden, my own lake, and my own special place where I can focus on myself and the people who are inspired by my garden.