English classroom creativity

As part of the Preliminary HSC course, all students across the state must complete a unit entitled, ‘Reading to Write’. The intention of the course is to set them up for the demands of ‘The Craft of Writing’ in Year 12, which requires them to compose a creative text and reflect on their creative decisions. This term, students have been exposed to a number of literary devices used by composers, both analysing the effects in various extracts and applying these techniques to their own compositions. 

The following is an imaginative piece composed by Advanced student Samuel Naufahu, written in response to the stimulus: “Everyone is a moon and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.” (Mark Twain)

This well-crafted piece captures an authentic voice, utilising wonderful aesthetic and stylistic features for effect. Enjoy! (Maybe keep the tissues close.)

The Stranger

There’s a slight fog rolling in and Da died yesterday, or maybe the day before, I’m not sure.

Mother was sunken in her chair watching telly. 

“Funeral’s on the 18th, Sean.” 

“Got it.”

She just continued watching the telly. On the news was a Fianna Fáil politician saying something about a chippy bombing? Who knows? I never really pay attention. 

Bit thick sometimes, ain’t she? All telly, unaware of my apathy, and she don’t care either; trusts I’ll deal with it. To be fair, I probably will. Tossing the date was a clear indicator she’s not going. Divorced ten years ago, around when the bombings were starting. I saw Da a lot, but he left just as I was entering school back in Dublin. Lucky I don’t give a feck. 


I’ve got to catch my train. The station’s past Donegal road about twenty or so minutes from home. I bike; don’t really mind if I’m late though. Halfway there and Niamh’s on her bike, considerably slower than me. As I pass her by, she matches my pace. Bloody hell, I hardly know her. Get this: she blundered by accidentally outing herself last year when Connell asked for her number in earshot of the entire class. I can’t imagine why she’s waiting for me.

“Hey Sean! How’re you?”


“How are you?”

“…I’m fine, obviously.”

“You sure?”

“Get off my back.”

She sighs.

“Smell that? It rained yesterday, so now it’s like a botanical garden with the violet primroses and yellow cowslips all around.”  

She gestures to me to look around and my senses are heightened; there’s a breeze hitting the both of us, transporting the earthy scent of dry soil and rocks right to us. I pedal faster. She follows. The breeze intensifies. The deep blue water swirls like a Picasso painting. Most of all, though, the sun’s rays shine splendidly on me; it’s divine. It seems to feel better the faster we pedal. Until the tall station hits us in the face, dwarfing us in its shadow. We’re here…

I dismiss her to go to a different carriage. It’d be embarrassing if I was seen with a bleedin’ lesbian. Da comes to my head. Dunno how. Dunno why. Nothing interesting on the train. That’s probably it. Ah well. 


The bell rings after what feels like an eternity. I’m getting up from my chair to play footy like usual. I step outside an- 

“Wanna talk?”  

“God, not really.” 

“I’ll follow you to the pitch if you don’t.” 

 Jesus CHRIST. What is her deal? 

She motions to the classroom. I creep in and shade all the windows. Niamh beelines for the westernmost window in the room and flings it wide open. Somehow, it’s at exactly the angle in which the sparkling beams of the sun pierce the mundane, and shatter it. It’s warm like a blanket. Hues of paprika and amber shimmer vividly. I stare in awe. She shrugs. “It’s always this corner in July. Didn’t have much to do during lunch last year. So, how are you?” 



“Fine, I’m REALLY fine.” 

Niamh rolls her eyes. “Oh come on. Whatcha wanna do after school?” 

“God knows where I’ll end up. Maybe I’ll take up work at the IRA!” 

Niamh doesn’t laugh. “I’m being serious. There’s not much time left for us at school y’know. You’ll have to decide sooner than you fecking think.” 

Hoo boy, stern for a woman. Who does she think she is? 

“What the feck do you know? Frankly, Niamh, I think I’ll do as I bleedin’ please.”

“I just want you to have a safety net. It’s not like the outside world is terribly inviting right now.”

“Let’s not kid ourselves Niamh. You couldn’t give a rat’s ass about my life and I couldn’t either. Bugger off.”

She walks away reluctantly, crying. Is she wounded from my outburst? Shit.


The fog from earlier is thickening. Everything seems a bit dreary now, shades of grey everywhere. I head home. Go straight to my room hiding my face from Ma. Take off my school bag. Take off my jacket. Sink into my bed. I’ve upset her and I am upset. I don’t understand what’s going on. My eyes start to swell, my vision blurs. Slowly but surely, liquid patches appear on my sheets. What. Is. Happening. I try to stop but I can’t. It just keeps flowing and flowing and flowing and flowing…

Six-o-clock in the morning. I’ve been laid here all night. The water stops and starts completely out of my control, whenever it feels like. HOW is this happening??? I dress in the dark and stumble out the door. I don’t wanna get my bike from the garage, Ma would wake and see me in this sorry state, so I walk to the station. The earlier fog is even thicker. It’s blanketing my path, but I plod on, not too fast that I attract attention, not too slow that I attract attention. Not too fast, not too slow. Not too fast, not too slow. Too fast…

“Who’s there?”

“I didn’t think…”


“I mean, immediately returning to school after something like that…”

Christ almighty she’s right. She’s completely right. It’s not just her I’m upset about. I tried. I’ve been running from it. 

“Me Da… He was in the army. Like yours.”


“Both were in that chippy bombing.”

“So you… as well?”


We embrace and I begin to care. I feel the pain, torment, love and acceptance that is embedded into this gesture. From the fog, sunlight emerges.

Da died the day before yesterday, on the 10th of July.