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Room With a View: Your Stories

Last month we hosted a series of online creative workshops for teens, exploring individual lockdown perspectives through fiction, poetry and prose. Here's some of the writing that came out of those sessions, contemplating what could be on the other side of the wall or window. Thank you to everyone who submitted their words. Read on...

The Other Dimension


My wrists lie heavily against my laptop and my weight pushes against the chair. Cold air nips at my fingers. I shift around and place a pillow behind my back, but to no avail. The sound of buzzing hums in my ears, but I try to filter it out. I spend a while typing a few words and subsequently backspacing. I fumble with my fingers and look around before hunching over my laptop once more. What was the name of the main character again?

I push the laptop away and walk around in a circle, my hand gripping my chin. The buzzing from before grows louder.

I look outside of my window to identify its source. I see everything as it usually is: the red-bricked houses which stand across from mine, the skinny green trees which line the pavement, a chimney which has had its edges softened by time. However, I sense an unusual stillness, as though I’m looking at the painting of a landscape. The empty pavements are clean and litterless. There are no cars parked on the road. There are no children circling the feet of their parents as they arrive home from shopping.

The low, ominous buzzing continues. I furrow my eyebrows and look to every corner of the window. I notice the faded marks of graffiti on the sides of all of the houses. I notice how all the trees are slightly bent and lean in different directions to one another. The fences appear worn and aggressively dented.

As I notice these details, I also notice my window pane vibrating gently. I place my hand against the window and feel the vibrations run up my arm. I press my forehead against the window and look down.

At first it appears to be a dog, but as I look closely I notice how its skin is covered in scales instead of fur. I assume it’s a snake and quickly retreat from the window. When I look at the creature once more, I notice how much bigger it is. I tap the window in the hopes to grab its attention. I receive no response. I tap the window once more, but I am ignored again.

When I tap the window the third time, the creature pounces onto the window. I fall and scramble to get up. My eyes remain fixed on the creature as I slowly back away. I feel its massive, hexagonal eyes peer into mine. It has no mouth. It has no nose. I run into the next room and slam the door.

When I see the handle move, I know that the invasion has started.




The boy runs, desperate and alone, darting from room to room. Lost in this endless maze of apartment blocks. He glances out of the window, searching, searching. He hears men’s voices and knows that his pursuers are near. But then he freezes. He hears soft footsteps behind him in the room he has just left. The distinct panting of a large dog. His heart thumping, he flattens himself against a wall. At first, he does not know why, then a torch beam flashes across the bed in his room. He instinctively creeps towards a window opening on to a balcony. His heart is in his throat as he hears the static of a radio and a harsh whisper. He cannot understand the language. He is a foreigner in this vast country. He reaches the door. The figure in the next room moves towards the room he is hidden in. But he is too late. The boy slips out of the door, silent as the wind. He sprints away down the fire escape. He dashes to what he sees is his freedom. He collapses behind an alley wall; his vision turns fuzzy. He sinks to the floor. His head lolls. His vision goes dark, and he knows no more.

Plink, plink, plink.

The boy slowly opens his eyes. His head is fuzzy. He cannot think straight. He pushes himself up onto his elbows. His back aches from the stone-cold ground. He glances nervously around him, then breathes a sigh of relief, there is no one around. He massages his aching back and squints up the dark alleyway. He can see a bustling shopping street ahead of him, he slowly climbs to his feet and heads away from the light.

He walks down a deserted suburb; the small detached houses stand empty and unfinished. He reaches into his backpack and pulls out a crumpled piece of paper. Written upon it is No. 34 28th street, New York City in badly scrawled handwriting. He looks at the street sign. His eyes, unaccustomed to English, try to match it together. He has no success. Breathing in deeply, he shoves the paper back into his backpack and moves to the next street.





As I stared out of my blindless windows, the darkening sunset reminded me of my greatest fear – the dark. It all began when I was five, the maze, the never ending maze. In the darkness, my fingers trembled over the knife I had picked up from the kitchen earlier. Whatever lurked behind those heavy stone walls was not going to be patient for its kill. Flashing of lights and I’m falling and I can’t stop. It’s never going to end, the torment, the catastrophe. 

A brief return to the city of old


And as the rhythmic hum of the train beat on,
the dense pulsing forest broke up
into sad silent woodlands of weeping pines.

As we continued our fruitless march into the past,
those tears of sparse woodlands broke out
into an endless sea of wheat saluting the wilderness behind,
and mourning with a solemn dance of gold and grey
which stretched as far as the eye could see.
All the while we pushed on, deeper into the past.

But slowly, their dance being done
the waves of that sea, tears of the woodland
dried up and colossal monoliths
began to rise from the depths of what once was a sea;
monuments of dust and misery
crawled up from the pits of the earth
menacingly and came so close to the railway
that I at once feared for my life and
desperately looked for curtains or blinds
but none were to be found
and so I endured the sight
of the blackened eyes
of buildings from which
here and there
looked out
a helpless

The shelf to the dictionary 


O, please do cut down on words!
True poetry is carefully distilled you know.
You’re just an endless jungle of language,
a labyrinth of definitions,
and every year you fatten up with new extravagant vocabulary,
words and phrases that make no sense –
no narrative, no life
I forgot, what is your purpose again?
What is it that you are meant to do
other than collecting dust and lecturing the other books
on what they should and shouldn’t do?
But whatever you do
please do cut down on your multitude of words
because your weight is breaking my back
and of that I only have one!

The song of the red guitar


On silent nights when no one is around I sing my story aloud.
With all strings out of tune my melodious cacophony scares the loud
bickering crows from the windowsills, but
I carry on.

I sing of my bohemian youth chasing stars on the banks of the Seine,
of the glittering music which played in cities so strange,
and of when, all red and flushed up, I climbed onto the stage;

And I sing this again and again,
for the moon and the rain,
Who never complain.

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