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Short Story Competition 2023 Schools Years 8 to 10 Winner Rachel Hassan ‘The Voice of the Rain’

Photo by Johnny Bugeja

There is a place, a meadow, that is full of mystery and wonder. With its vast expanse of green, rolling hills, and the long, dancing grass that whispers secrets to the wind. Where the wildflowers bloom with a definite scent of magic in their petals...

But perhaps most mysterious of all, in that mystic meadow, is the girl. The girl who's dark hair cascades down her back like a flowing waterfall, the Girl of the Rain. That is why I come to graze in this meadow. While it is true that the grass is greener here, and the sun glows brighter, the reason I am here, perhaps the reason for it all, is her Song. Her voice is like a siren's song, a melody that fills the air with a sense of otherworldliness.

The fields were awash with the first drops of rain, pattering down from the heavens above. The sun
retreating behind the clouds, and the grey sky heavy with the promise of a storm. In the distance, the lone figure sat in the field, singing.

She sat cross-legged in the wet grass, her face upturned to the sky as she sang her unearthly melody.
The notes floated on the air, carried away by the wind and the rain. They seemed to be woven with a
golden ray of sunbeam, with liquid sapphires.

I watched her from a distance, never daring to approach. She stood in the centre of the meadow, her arms outstretched, as though reaching for something just beyond her grasp. Her hair whipped around her face in the wind, and her dress swirled around her in a dance of its own. And the rain would continue, relentless. Harder, harder, until it poured down in sheets all around her. But she continued to sing, her voice growing stronger and more powerful with each falling raindrop. It was as if the rain was feeding her song, or perhaps, her song feeding the rain.

Her voice seemed to come from deep within her, rising from the earth itself. It was a voice that spoke of things beyond our world, of secrets and magic, of anguish and sorrow. Of things you cannot touch. Things you cannot even see. It would hold me, transfixed, in a spell, and her notes would form into questions that filled my mind, questions that never boarded my train of thought before...

Then, as suddenly as it began, the rain ceased its pummelling. The sun broke through the clouds and the meadow was, yet again, enveloped in a golden glow.

The girl stopped singing. Her eyes lifted skyward, her damp face drinking in her surroundings with relish. I lifted my hoof tentatively. She turned to me. Her bright, wonder-filled eyes met mine, briefly. The corners of her mouth lifted slightly. And then, with a twirl of her skirt and a whisper of the wind, she was gone.

Judge Charlie Durante’s Comments:

Winner: Rachel Hassan with The Voice of the Rain. Rachel’s lovely piece describes the unearthly melody, voice and singing of a mysterious girl. She is part siren, part nature spirit, part muse. She incarnates all that is thrilling, magical and inspiring about the female voice. She is also strangely related to the world of nature: she appears to be the ‘genius loci,’ a kind of earth goddess: her cascading dark hair, her outstretched arms, her association with the pouring rain and her ethereal voice, all point to her role as personifying the spirit of the place.
What is significant here is that her admirer is an animal, not a human being, and this makes her into an Orpheus figure. Undoubtedly, her song is magical and mystical. In a negative context, the sirens’ song lured mariners to perdition. Our girl is the exception-she opens the door to another world, more beautiful, more elemental.
This piece reads almost like a prose poem. Rachel has enjoyed crafting a vignette full of poetic symbols which also works as a short story.

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