Before school was out in June, the Glebe Report got in touch with local high schools to see if there were any fledgling writers willing to take their first flight of fancy with us. We asked them to write a short story of any kind, on any theme, as long as it relates in some way to the Glebe – as setting, character, plot, whatever.
The following four stories were submitted by Grade 12 students in Debra Palmer’s Writers’ Craft class at Glebe Collegiate Institute.
By Cassandra Carson
July 16 was the hottest day we could have moved in on. Mom managed to pack all three kids and the dog into the car for the three hour drive to Fourth Avenue. Being the oldest, I was given the honour of sitting between my two younger brothers, Cole and Finn, but yet they still managed to fight over top of me the whole way down. Mom spent most of the drive talking about the neighborhood we’re moving to, since none of us kids had even been to Ottawa. She told us all about the schools we would be going to, Glebe Collegiate for me, and Hopewell for the boys. We heard all about how busy it can be, into all hours of the night. Most importantly, there’s a place for bagels that’s open 24/7.
After what felt like way too long to be on the road, we pulled onto a busy street with shops lining both sides. As we drove down Bank Street, I looked out the window to see what Mom was fussing over. There were people everywhere, from businessmen to kids on bikes, and it was only 9 a.m. We turned onto the street where the house was and the whole feeling changed. Fourth Avenue was lined with trees and sidewalks full of people walking and running. I spotted the moving truck in the driveway just on the corner. At this point, the boys were hanging out of the windows, waving to everyone we passed. Normally I would be embarrassed, but I was too focused on the house. It looked just like all the others, pathway leading up to the front door, flower beds around the porch. The front door was wide open and the crew had already started bringing boxes inside. Mom parked the car on the street and we all got out.
Before Mom was able to give her whole move-in day speech, the boys were off and running inside to claim their rooms. We were left there standing together, both of us looking at the house. The rest of the day was a blur of opening boxes and meeting some other families that lived on the street. My first day in the Glebe, and I already felt at home.
Cassandra Carson is a Grade 12 student at Glebe Collegiate Institute.
The visitors’ request
By Caleb Spassov
Nobody knows why they picked the Glebe. Was it its population? Its age? Its location? Whatever the case, it’s where they landed first. Some students from GCI were the first to spot their vessel touching down late at night by Brown’s Inlet, at the shallow water’s edge. The authorities, however, only acted upon seeing satellite imagery of the visitors’ towering insectoid mothership, initially cloaked with stealth devices light-years beyond our comprehension.
Canada scrambled the military in panic, but officials presented themselves at the ship to extend an olive branch before they launched the missiles.
“Who are you?” asked Ottawa’s chief diplomat. “What do you want?”
A hatch opened in the ship. Sickly green light spilled into Glebe’s nighttime sky as a ramp hit the ground, bridging Earth and abomination, and a colossal silhouette fearlessly appeared in the opening. The visitors knew that we humans are ants under their boots.
The figure came into focus and six spindly arms came into view. Clad in what appeared to be armour, it stared down the human warriors with cold compound eyes. After a long moment of volatile silence, its mandibles moved: “Who we are matters not to you disgusting insects,” it thundered. “All that matters is why. There has been a famine and our species needs sustenance.”
The human diplomat’s face drained. “Please, don’t…” he implored.
“Your meat is too stringy,” answered the thing. “We come here for one thing only, and your miserable species has somehow become its sole custodian among the myriad lifeforms scattered amongst the stars.”
The humans ran through the possibilities. Would the freaks take the oil? The uranium? By God, what about the water? Not a sound was made in the Glebe for a long second as even the cicadas seemed to hang on the creature’s words.
Finally, the creature spoke: “We need bread crusts,” it said.
Even the reporters on the scene quieted. Blinking, the diplomat spoke after a moment: “You need our … what?”
Suddenly, the alien was at his throat. A claw closed around him and the thing’s rank breath evoked the deepest marshes of Ottawa’s greenbelt.
“Bread crusts,” it repeated. “Give them all to us, lest we cleanse this insignificant planet with fire and fury,” it said with cool menace. “Crust is a dietary essential, our cradle has run dry, and your species – especially its younger specimens – heretically disregards it.” The alien turned back. “Our confederation shall establish a trading post in this area: as well as its advantageous strategic position, it has … aesthetic charm.” Before anyone could protest, it entered its vessel and closed the door.
The human delegation had to accept the visitors’ statement; it wasn’t a proposal.
The Glebe’s sky soon became a thoroughfare and its clearings became parking spots. The noise forced it to give up its residential nature, but it swapped it for greater status. It became Earth’s first interstellar trading post and ushered the planet into a new age, where the heavens are highways and bread crust runs empires.
Caleb Spassov is a Grade 12 student at Glebe Collegiate Institute.
The umbrella’s lament
By Adriana Loewen
It was Sunday when I last saw her. I was not her first choice as a companion for the day; but the sun was hiding behind lavender clouds and the air smelled so vibrant, I am the friend of the storms that she dreads inviting, but, on days like that Sunday, I become her best friend. I get carted everywhere, like a security blanket.
She took me down to the Farmers’ Market at Lansdowne Park. Having bought all her fresh vegetables and honey, she brought me to the canal. We sat on a bench, watching the ducks float by. In a few hours, the clouds had disappeared from the blue sky, and the sun beat down.
Although I was happy she was enjoying the sunshine, I felt lonely beside her. I was closed off, the sun having wiped away my usefulness. She didn’t even look at me. I had nothing to protect her from. In the beauty of spring, I was secondary to a good day.
A group of runners jogged past. She recognized one of them from work: the tall blond one. He started working at the café not too long ago, and she had been anxious to finally talk to him. I could not bring myself to follow her up to him as they began their chat.
“Beautiful day, isn’t it?” he said brightly. I felt humiliated in their presence – a reminder of a darker time.
Within a few minutes, they decided on a whim to have lunch. He started off immediately and she followed him away, smiling sweetly at the ground as she walked.
I wanted to call out to her. I wanted to tell her to stay with me. But I was frozen in place, I couldn’t make a sound. I had been forgotten on the bench beside the canal.
The last I saw of her was her back as she walked away, drawn by the promise of a good day.
A man sat down beside me. He wore sunglasses dark as the clouds I wished to summon and a black cap covered his long brown hair. I watched him lean on his knees, take off his cap and tussle his hair in the heat. He was uncomfortable in the sunshine, just like me.
He looked down at me and smiled. I smiled back, but I’m not sure he saw. He picked me up, undid my bow and shook out my arms. I laughed as he let me flop around in the air. Then, with a sharp click, I straightened into a military salute, ready for duty. He raised me above his head and smiled as I protected him from the brightness and heat.
He stood and continued his walk as I stood proudly above his head. We made a strange pair, the man all in black, and I, the protective soldier. We walked together until the sun set low below the skyline.
Loyal as I am, I defended him until my last rainfall.
Adriana Loewen is a Grade 12 student at Glebe Collegiate Institute.
Lettuce turnip the beet
By Roark Smeathers
Emily was a very fruitful person. Every day she would try to eat every type of fruit. She would even eat the fruit she didn’t like very much because she didn’t want them to feel left out. Emily always wore very bright and extravagant colours and her hair was dyed all the colors of the rainbow. In her hair, twirled into a curl held in place with an elastic, was a cork from a wine bottle. Of course Emily made the wine from fresh grapes found in her garden.
Emily’s garden was grand. Some would say it resembled the Garden of Eden. Her garden was the apple of her eye. Emily was one of the kindest people on the face of the earth. She was considered to be one in a melon, but Emily was also very naive. One day Emily decided she wanted to throw a large party and invited all of her friends at Glebe high school to attend.
On Saturday she spent the entire day preparing for the party. She put out fruit punch, and prepared individual fruit baskets for her guests. Closing the garden doors, she made sure her garden was off limits to her guests. At first Emily was worried no one would turnip and her party would be a fruitless endeavour, but soon enough her home was flooded with people. The party was crazy with people playing Pass the Parsley in the living room and the game of Hide and Leek was getting out of control. The news of this amazing party spread quickly through the grape vine, and soon the entire neighbourhood knew about it. As the party rapidly increased in size, party guests did not have mushroom to move, so the party naturally spilled out into the garden. People started picking and eating the fruit and vegetables Emily had grown. Emily was furious, and went completely bananas. As you might imagine the guests were shocked by her reaction. Usually Emily was quiet and reserved and never showed a temper. This new side of Emily was unappealing, so people soon split.
There was one person who didn’t leave. In fact this person Emily had seen before but she thought he disliked her, as he never spoke to her. When Emily approached him, he smiled a crooked smile and explained he had always bean green with envy over her beautiful garden, and was sad to see it ruined. Together they hatched a plan to save the garden. A new friendship sprouted, “Lettuce start a new garden,” said the boy. Emily smiled, this day ended on a good note as they planned their first date.
Roark Smeathers is a Grade 12 student at Glebe Collegiate Institute.