Updated: Dec 30, 2022
Winner of this year's Winter Writing Competition wins a unique video adaptation of their work.
To warm the chill off of our frozen toes, every winter we host a writing competition. We encourage people produce writing that evokes a distinct feeling of magic and wonder we often associate with these chilly months.
The winner of this competition has their work transformed and adapted into a unique video art piece we call, the video storybook.
Click here to view last year's entry, A Neurodiverse Winter by Kevin Scott Barker.
I swear it gets harder and harder to pick a winner each year as we receive so many fantastic stories and poems of all genres. We put the poems across all our staff and see which ones best resonate with them personally.
But, I digress, the winner of the Winter Writing Competition 2022 is...
Abbie-Rose Chivers with her story, "Eternity".
Enjoy her video storybook adaptation here!
Here is her short story:
by Abbie-Rose Chivers
Lynne’s hands trembled as she fumbled with the thread, lining it up with the eye of the needle. She guided it through, but her cold fingers caught it at the front and it fell loose again.
‘Blast,’ she muttered, giving a quick glare at her 20-year-old Singer, a Christmas gift from Ray not long after their 10-year anniversary. Not that the machine was at fault; it was still her trusty work horse, its strength living on day by day. She grasped the thread again, steeling herself. She had been sewing for 42 years, she would not be defeated by a spool of 100% polyester.
‘Only drunks have shaky hands,’ she had scoffed to Ray once.
He chuckled. ‘Let’s hope the surgeon is as dry as a bone, then.’
Her breath caught. She reached once again for the thread, noticing the dust and lint that had built up in the bobbin tray. She had neglected her poor machine recently, and her sewing room. Fabric scraps gathered in the corners; a stray thread wound around the wheels of her chair.
‘I’ve oiled your machine.’ She heard his voice in her head, feel his moustache tickle her cheek as he brushed a kiss upon it.
‘Thank you,’ she said aloud. Silence replied.
Once the tension was adjusted, she reached for the pattern pieces she’d cut the night before. First the tummy piece, cut from a lovely soft brushed cotton in red check. Then the head and legs; grey stripes, an old favourite. And finally, the back, his corduroy jacket in cornflower blue to match his eyes, a retirement present that he had worn every day after. She pressed the fabric to her nose and inhaled his scent, spicy aftershave and a hint of motor oil that had survived the wash. Her eyes prickled.
Once the bear was assembled, it was time for the stuffing, then the ladder stitch to close it all together. She turned the bear over, its black plastic eyes shining. A Christmas gift for Lexi, their only grandchild, so far. Ray wouldn’t get to meet the others, if they come. Lydia was trying again, after her loss, and Lynne still had hope that Nathan would reconcile with his wife. Ray had spoken to him, before he went into hospital. Surely they could work it out, especially now.
No matter, she told herself as she swiped the tears away. There was a whole wardrobe upstairs, full of shirts, jackets, trousers. Ray would live on, she promised it. Bears, ducks, Christmas elves. Everyone can share a piece of him. This was her gift to the world.
‘Do you like it?’ He had said, smiling like a schoolboy as she unwrapped the sewing machine. He was already wearing the reindeer jumper she had given him.
‘I love it,’ she replied. ‘Almost as much as I love you.’
He pulled her into a tight hug. ‘Forever and ever?’
She breathed deeply, savouring the familiarity of his scent.
(Abbie-Rose Chivers, 2022)
Congratulations to Abbie for your spectacular story!
We really enjoy the warmth and feelings evoked by these characters. The story manages to say a lot in such a small amount of words!
We'd also love to share the other fantastic work that was submitted to this competition, as all of it is brilliant.
All of us at Faraway would like to thank everyone who submitted their work for taking part and sharing their enthusiasm and creativity with us.
Dear reader, we hope you enjoy!
"The Little Red Box"
by Laura Nolan
Little Red Box patiently waited amongst parcels around the tree. Christmas songs played and voices chattered excitedly. The children took turns to rip paper, revealing a toy, chocolates, or traditional socks. Mum and Dad watched, smiling and proud.
At last Little Red Box was the only one left. He was excited. It was his turn to make someone smile.
“Jack, who is it for?” Mum asked.
He shook it.
“What name does it say?” Asked Dad.
Jack turned it upside down.
“No tag,” he told them.
“Let me see,” demanded Lucy, his older sister. She grabbed Little Red Box by his silvery bow.
“Hey, it might not be for you!” Jack tried to stop her, but she held Little Red Box above her head. He slumped into the chair in a sulk. “She gets everything. It’s not fair.”
Little Red Box felt sad. He didn’t like them fighting.
“That’s enough you two. Give it to me.” Mum used her stern voice.
Lucy handed over Little Red Box and sat next to her brother. Nothing brought them together like a mutual telling off.
“Maybe we should save that one for later?” Dad suggested.
“No!” Both Lucy and Jack shouted together.
“Just open it Mum, please,” Jack whined. He was desperate to see inside.
Mum gave Little Red Box a shake.
Jack bounced on the chair, excitedly.
“Mum, please,” Lucy moaned. “It might be for me.”
“From your boyfriend!” Jack said, laughing. Lucy elbowed him in the ribs. His laughter turned to sobs. “Owwww! Mum! Dad! Tell her! I hope it’s a note from your boyfriend telling you to get lost.”
“Jack, Lucy, stop it. Neither of you deserve it the way you’re carrying on.” Mum sounded fed up.
The two sulked identically. Arms crossed, bottom lip pouting, eyebrows furrowed to a frown. “Worst Christmas ever,” Jack mumbled.
Dad’s phone buzzed, and he nodded towards Mum. The children sat up, intrigued.
Without a word, she pulled the silvery ribbon at the top of Little Red Box. The paper fell away, revealing the kind of box that may have a necklace inside. Jack and Lucy moved closer. Was it jewellery? Jack would be disappointed. Lucy hoped it was for her.
Mum opened the box with the speed of a sleeping sloth. She smiled, her eyes twinkling with mischief. “It’s beautiful.”
“What is?” Jack asked, surging forward.
“Show me!” Lucy whined.
Mum turned the box to face them. Inside was a little purple collar.
There was a sudden knock. Dad jumped up. Jack was confused. Lucy wasn’t happy.
“Jack! Lucy! Come here!” Dad shouted after they heard the door open.
They almost tripped over each other to run and see. Dad closed the front door and turned around. In his arms was a beautiful chocolate labrador with a big panting smile and a long waggy tail.
“Merry Christmas.” Dad told them.
Any arguments forgotten, Jack and Lucy instantly fell in love with the little bundle of fur.
“Best Christmas ever!” Jack said.
(Laura Nolan, 2022)
"The Gift of Winter"
by Kylie Burton
Your skin turned numb with the exposure. Even when wrapped up, the wind blew right through you. Your nose stung and your lungs hurt. Your bones ached as you curled up for the smallest warmth.
Your body is stronger.
The early light reflects off the snow like water. It reflects off the ice like glass. It briefly fogs up your glasses with every breath you take and when you retreat to the warmth.
You have learned to adapt.
The snow falls light and untainted. It's a shade of white almost impossible to replicate. It's depicted in art and songs.
You have been inspired.
You see the remains in museums. You hear the warnings on the news. You read about the casualties in the newspapers. You watch the documentaries on the television.
You learned how to be safer.
You sang about it in carols. You played in it with your friends. You celebrated Christmas, Hanukkah or Yule with family and friends. You made plans for the New Year.
You love and are loved.
The frost gathers to protect the flora. The fauna hibernate to survive through the inhospitable conditions. The world rests after working so hard throughout the year.
You are a part of the cycle.
It is the Gift of Winter.
(Kylie Burton, 2022)
by Kevin Scott Barker
All I want is a blanket
Yet nowhere is one to be found,
Nimbo begins to cry,
Her tear’s glisten,
They gently glide earthbound,
As individual and unique
As any eclectic misfit,
A reflected rainbow of light
Held in fractal prisms of glory,
Of every complex colour
Is Sung in such unity
we see only one shade
Through this sublimely subtle
Gesture Nimbo reminds me
Of the ridiculous nature
As each crystalline parachute of
pure radiant brilliance
Smashes the illusion
Of anything that thinks itself white
The sky is full of colour!
Such a dazzling dance,
this December night,
as the frozen rain
refracts the light
-yet Perhaps it ought not
The people are gathering now
Oh how I wish they would not stare
With an unfathomable
Amount of frozen
Now falling all around me
I release my hand but for
To glance a glimpse of his
How can it be that every single
One is different?
And yet like real fingerprints
These frosted flakes of intangible
Maintain Absolute individuality
Even as they settle
in an unending layer
Of incomprehensible completeness
Stretching to the horizon
Such a snowflake generation,
It was supposed to be an rebuke
Yet snowflakes can melt hearts
And together rip through steel
All whilst Holding their beautiful form
Right now a dust cloud of microscopic angels
Performing ballet in the sky
So tell me where is your insult?
Nimbo continues to cry
And tells me how sorry she is
the world is
Becoming a powder white postcard
Except for the patch of crimson beneath
So many sub-zero pearls of sadness
That Each of my eyelashes
now wear a necklace
A kind man sees I am shaking
And is encouraging me to stand
I can not feel my feet to do so
that I feel no Anger towards the
Thunderous inanimate beast of devastation
But how ironic that tomorrow
Not a single train will run
Someone is offering a cover from
There is no longer need
He was my past
I was his future
But this Christmas
Neither of us get a present
Well, Just one unintended gift
When she finally stops crying
I thank her for the blanket of snow
That now covers my father’s body
As the bells strike midnight
I kiss his now frozen forehead
And manage to whisper
“Happy Christmas dada”
For the very last time
I want to be clear what this poem is about.
It is about a human being losing their
Father to suicide on Christmas eve. He jumped
In front of a train. As the people gather
All the person wants is a blanket to cover their father
Nimbo is the name of the cloud that snow begins to fall from.
The poem focuses on the unique qualities
Of snowflakes that eventually provide
A covering for Dada.
Suicides are actually less common at Christmas
Which is to say – they still happen
(Kevin Scott Barker, 2022)
by Leanne Thompson
This year I’ve already had my gift,
The most precious thing I’ve ever owned, more precious than barbies, or make-up or clothes, more precious than I could’ve known.
For each year at Christmas as a little girl, there was something I always sought, there was always one wish never granted, it was something that couldn’t be bought.
It was something for every day of the year, something to make me fit in, I wasn’t sure what, but was sure I had not, something everyone else had within.
I had little sense of belonging,
Always feeling outside of the crowd,
Always watching and learning, repeating, though I never would say so aloud.
But things changed as I aged, now a grownup - with three beautiful babes of my own, and I gift them the thing I once wanted, now I have it myself, now I know.
The gift I longed for? My identity!
I finally know, I am free-
I know who, I know why, and I know now…
I’m autistic, perfectly imperfect me.
(Leanne Thompson, 2022)
by Laura Nolan
Clara sat on the bottom step in the hall. The party was loud. She clamped her hands over her ears to try and block out the sounds of laughing, shouting and music blaring. It was too much.
Her Mum insisted she needed to come. She said her friends would want her there. But Clara didn’t have friends. Children sat with her in class because they had to. They spoke to her because their teacher made them. They played with her because they were forced to take turns. Clara preferred to be alone. She didn’t want the company of anyone who didn’t want hers.
When the invitation appeared in her bag, her Mum got excited. She told Clara it was important to have friends, and this meant she must have them. Everyone in the class got one. It meant nothing. No matter what Clara said to try and get out of it, her Mum insisted she was going. “Be sociable for once,” she told her. “The friends you have when you’re ten can become your friends for life.” And Clara’s favourite, “Just try and be more like them and you’ll fit right in.” She didn’t want to fit in. It was exhausting.
Clara had been at the party for fifteen long minutes. She said hello to Paige, the birthday girl. She handed over the book about birds that she wished she could have kept, then as Paige opened it and pulled a face, Clara left the room. They laughed at her, but she didn’t understand why.
The step was hard, but the solid wood against her back was better than the discomfort of being around others. She pulled at the dress her Mum forced her to wear. It felt scratchy. The neckline too tight. The sleeves too long, slipping over her hands, irritating them.
She fought away tears. She wanted to scream, to run, to hide, but she was frozen to the spot.
“Hey there, I’m Dan, Paige’s Dad. Are you ok?” A large man crouched in front of her, but not too close.
Clara looked at him, but words wouldn’t form on her lips.
“Don’t worry. This is for you.” He handed her a box. She opened it carefully. Inside was a set of headphones. “Pop them over your ears. They will deaden the sounds. Make things a little more bearable.”
Clara did. They were a little big, so he helped her adjust them. The world went silent. It was amazing!
She smiled. “Thank you!”
He lifted one side up and said, “Now how about I find you a t-shirt and leggings to change into? Paige has so many, she won’t notice.”
Clara nodded and followed him. Once changed and more comfortable, they went into the kitchen where other children weren’t allowed.
“Spend as much time in here as you need. Parties aren’t for everyone and that’s ok.” Dan got her a glass of water and left her alone. He gave her the best gift ever. The gift of understanding.
(Laura Nolan, 2022)
"An Alter of Ice"
by Kevin Scott Barker
Such a splendid alter,
has mother nature prepared yesterdays
That I should wake,
and in gratitude find,
Beneath the frozen ivy
A dazzling disk for offers devine;
An alter of Ice,
complete and refined!
So in my Garden
an impromptu Mass,
crystalline sheet of glass
Now the birds begin to form a choir,
In our garden church
Without seat or spire,
And as we pray along with winter's daughter,
Our candle is placed on her frozen water
As we finish,
the sun shines a ray,
upon my face,
yet I cannot stay,
But in Joyous mood,
I walk away,
to explore the gifts
of this frozen day!
(Kevin Scott Barker, 2022)
We'd love to hear which of the winter stories and poems were your favourites, please leave a comment below about your favourite one and what you liked about it.
We wouldn't be able to deliver fun competitions like this if it wasn't for the ongoing donations and help of our supporters.
Click here - If you want to find out more about how you can support The Faraway CIC to deliver projects and services that empower neurodiverse people and make the greater community more accessible for everyone.