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Anne Frank creative writing competition

17 July 2020

Congratulations to Keisha McGregor who received an award for her entry to the Anne Frank creative writing competition. Keisha’s story was selected from amongst hundreds of other entries to receive a commendation from the competition judges. Please take the time to enjoy reading her thoughtful and creative take on Anne Frank’s story.

Help; that is all I want. Help to get out, help for my mother and help for the poor, sad people we are hiding from. My thoughts drift back …

Washington DC is hot, everyone enjoying the fine weather. Mother sits on the lush green of our front lawn. Father hums as he does some woodwork. I sit on my balcony writing, whilst my younger sister Meg pulls at me to play. My older sister, Mia is at a friend’s party. My name is Jasmine.  My friends call me Jaz.

My best friend, Flo bought me this! An emerald green notebook fashioned like dragon scales; I love dragons. They bring luck!

I fly down the staircase, as I spot Flo approaching. She looks up and I see her eyes. She is clutching a paper, folding and unfolding. She hands it to me. I gasp, reeling back:

President Banskin tweets “Native Americans are banished from their native lands or will be arrested!” I see my reflection in the window, my black skin shining with sweat, big brown eyes and long black hair falling around my waist.

“Father!” I cry.

He comes whistling; it’s a shame to share this on such a happy day. His face falls, his humming stops. Quickly before he snatches it away, I tug out my phone and take an image.

“Mother, Megs!” he bellows. I find Mia’s number.

“Jaz?”

I send her the image. “Holy Macaroni!” she mutters “On my way.”

We hear the familiar click- whirring of the family bike, rusting, no gears, no brakes. We are black, Father is low paid. Distant cousins kindly sent us their old phones.

We decide! We run upstairs and grab suitcases, shoving in clothes. Megs tries to take her toys, but they do not fit.  Just her favorite then;  Jerry the monkey or Baabaa the sheep? I tell her to go away. Mia takes makeup and asks  “cherry blossom lipstick or raspberry rum” ?  Honestly!  I tenderly wrap my notebook in tissue and gently lay it on my clothes. I don’t care for teddies or makeup;  my books are my window to a world of riches.

Megs is excited ‘Holiday!’, No-one corrects her.

We walk.

Mia moans!  Father demands my phone;

 “It’s Ekon.  Can we use the studio? No, we have no transport. $26! No, we don’t have that money. Yes, great thank you.’

“They pick us up in 20 minutes” he says.

We wait.

Finally, a rusty car. We pile in and bounce along. After hours, a deserted street and  a humble art shop.

Mother gasps at the sight of it. A shrunken man in an apron ushers us in and upstairs. Why here? Does father know this man?

The old man, Jerry leads us to the kitchen sink and opens a cupboard below; behind there is… nothing!  No wall, just a gap. Jerry disappears. Mia shakes her head wildly, saying something about spiders. I grimace at her stupidity and squeeze through.

It’s glorious! There is a spacious room, mirroring the studio kitchen. There are five rooms.  Mia and Megs race off, while I stay to help mother; she is wheezing and swaying.

“Father? Quick!” Mother is lying down

Mia and Megs argue. I try to control my throbbing headache.

“Father, they’re arguing” I gently tell him.

“What?”

“… the bigger bedroom..”

“Oh….” he trails off

“You three share the big room, Mother and me are next door and Jerry’s overlooks the street”

My mouth hangs open..

“This is for real, isn’t it?”

“Yes, Jaz, but we will get out; tell yourself that and you will start to believe it” he says softly.

Mother is a bit better by morning. We wake early and are clearing breakfast when we hear the knocks, harsh and forceful.

“Open up or we come in by force!”

Mother looks terrified and Jerry spins and disappears through the hole under the sink. Raised voices and something being thrown.

“Officers!”

“Did they break anything?” Father later asks worriedly.

“Huh, only a painting!”

“Sorry” sympathizes Father

“It’s all right, I didn’t really like that one.” he jokes.

We want to go out, but we can’t. We can’t open windows.  We can’t even flush the toilet if there is someone nearby. Two months pass.

One hot stuffy day, a Spanish man arrives. Santiago speaks little English, but he teaches us some Spanish until we can have a staggered conversation.

A crow raps on the attic window. I bring her scraps of food. After a while, she trusts me and brings me presents – buttons, foil, screws. My favorite is an intricate gold dragon with tiny scales and little flames erupting out of its mouth. I secrete it under my bed, away from my irritating sisters. Maybe this treasure will bring me luck..

Three more people join us, Ben and parents, Jemma and Dioga; the annex is full.

Then today ….

“Ben, come away from that window this instant.” shrieks Jemma.

Oh, honestly..

He turns around, brown eyes wide and scared

“What is it?” demands Jemma

‘Nothing’. His wide eyes look straight ahead, not seeing. Dioga is the bathroom – he’s never quiet in there! Bashing and crashing and finally he emerges, leaving the tap and toilet running noisily. I hiss : “You fool, we could be found…l”

He shrugs; unbelievable! The sound of splintering wood echoes round the room. Eyes open wide, urging quiet. Crash. Again and again until …

“Open up or we will break in!”

Father’s lips move, ‘No’.

I move silently to the window; my breath catches. Below are ten officers.

“Hide!”

My look says it all. We huddle in a scared circle. I grasp my dragon. Stomping boots on stairs, the studio being torn apart. Someone roots through detergents under the sink. A rough shout and something heavy and metal is shoved through. No. Time freezes. I turn on my phone and send my last message to Flo:

Ben seen at window. 10 officers breaking in. You are the best friend anyone could wish for.  

Love Jaz Xx