Story challenge 8

Miriam Halahmy

t was a cold January day, the beginning of the Spring Term and the wind was blowing take-away cartons and free newspapers around Ashley’s feet. She was wearing the new shiny jacket Gran had given her for Christmas, her school jogging bottoms and sweatshirt. But she still felt cold. Her long brown hair was tied back and tucked into her collar to keep her neck warm.
An old car spewed out exhaust fumes like a dust cloud in front of her and she could almost see it settle on the shiny fruit piled up outside Harry’s Food and Wine shop. At least I walk to school, thought Ashley, but then Mum is an Eco-Warrior. She had promised to take Ashley to a city farm if she worked hard this term. 
“I always work hard,” Ashley had said.
“Extra hard,” muttered her mother who wanted Ashley to become England’s first Green Party MP. 

As Ashley walked through the school gates she stared angrily at the people around her; everyone but her had arrived in a vehicle of some kind whether it was a sports car, a van, a delivery truck or a motorbike. “The amount of fumes that would be entering the atmosphere would surely be enough to kill the entire planet” she thought to herself, and just by looking at her mum’s face Ashley knew that she was thinking the same.

“I hope” spluttered her mum through gritted teeth “that when you become the first Green Party MP you put a stop to this…this vulgarity” and with that she stormed off leaving Ashley at school to face another day.

Sitting in English Ashley zoned out of the class conversation and started to daydream about what she would do as an MP. Then something the teacher said caught her attention and she snapped out of her haze. The school was organising a competition, for Ashley’s year group. The aim of the competition was to create a project that the students would be able to maintain easily and which should help to make the environment, in the area they live, a better place to be.

“All the students taking part must present their idea as a presentation to the class and myself in eight weeks” exclaimed the teacher. “The prize will be a sum of money that will start your project off so make it good.” Then we were dismissed.

“This is right up my street” thought Ashley as she packed up her things “it’ll be a piece of cake!”

Unfortunately there was one flaw to this great opportunity; and that was the fact that Ashley would be up against one person in particular who already made her life a misery. That one person was tall, skinny, had beautiful long, flowing, golden hair and answered to the name Vanessa. She was the queen of the school, everyone bowed down to her and all the boys drooled over her – it was disgusting. Vanessa was the only person who would be competition to her and that really got Ashley’s blood boiling. So as soon as the bell rang for the end of school Ashley sprinted out of school, through the gates, past Harry’s Food and Wine store (which had previously been covered in exhaust fumes) and burst through the front door. Without acknowledging her mother she scrambled up the stairs and into her room shutting the door behind her. She was ready to plan.

Eight weeks later to the day Ashley was stood up in front of the class presenting her idea. She had made charts, slides, graphs and posters to express how she thought her project would make a difference to the environment and explained why she thought she deserved to win – especially because it had taken her ages to put all the data together. Once Ashley had finished her presentation she sat down and waited for everyone else to give theirs, even Vanessa whose presentation was not a particularly good one. At the end of all the presentations the teacher stood up and gave feedback to each person individually and announced that the results would be given out in assembly the following morning.

With her hands shaking Ashley sat in assembly the next day waiting for the results. When her teacher stood up she could feel her heart pumping harder than ever. Then the teacher stopped speaking and two minutes later read Ashley’s name out. The room burst into applause and as she walked up to collect her certificate all she could hear were her mum’s words:

“Congratulations Ashley!”

Lottie Cox, Queen Anne's School

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