Congratulations to our very special winners. We received some wonderful submissions and it was difficult to judge in the final stages but, we are proud to announce the results.
1st Prize: £500 – S. Gibb
2nd Prize: £300 – Mary Jones
3rd Prize: £200 – A. Hill
4th Prize: £100 – Simon London
To Thine Own Self Be True
by S. Gibb
“You do know that he is totally obsessed don’t you?” Sophia turned away from the stage, gazing upon Gareth who was reading about Shakespeare.
“Mmm. Yes.” He didn’t bother to look up, only re-adjusted his round-framed glasses as they slid down his nose. With his hair hanging limply forward, he thought he looked like John Lennon.
‘More like Harry Potter’ she thought uncharitably. She nudged him. “Well?”
Gareth glanced up at her, searching deep within his subconscious mind for her last words. “I’m sorry…I…”
Sophia sighed. “Mr Shaxberg. He’s obsessed with Shakespeare. I bet he dresses up like him in his spare time.”
Gareth smiled. He couldn’t deny his teacher’s passion for the Bard but that’s what made him so compelling. If only all of his teachers were so animated in class.
“You think he has a doublet and ruff and prances around in his sitting room?” Gareth snickered.
“Or a codpiece” Sophia declared with delight and then shuddered. ”And what is going on with that beard?”
“He is rather theatrical.”
Sophia raised her eyebrows at his words.
“Alright, he’s uber-theatrical.” Gareth agreed “But he does bring history to life and I never thought anyone would get me to watch a Shakespeare play.”
Sophia nodded. He did have a certain something and there was nothing wrong with a little eccentricity. It was as if Shaxberg’s passion had spilled over into the whole school and beyond. The school play was due to open for just the one performance. They watched in silence as hordes of people began to take their seats.
“Don’t you think it’s a lot of work for just one performance?” Sophia whispered. “Did you know some people couldn’t get tickets?”
“Sssh.” Gareth said as the lights dimmed.
Their teacher, proud and plainly animated introduced the play, dramatizing the opening with fluidity and skill. He was a natural performer and seemed to revel in the gaze of the audience upon him. Sophia found herself smiling as like everyone else, she was drawn into the drama as it unfolded in front of her. Time passed, mesmerised, she felt enchanted by every word. As the curtain fell for the final time, Sophie blinked, it had been magical.
“Where’s Shaxberg?” Gareth whispered to her. “He’s supposed to come back on with all the actors. “
They watched as all the actors bowed and curtseyed. Still he did not appear.
Gareth shivered. “Something is wrong. He wouldn’t miss his moment of glory.”
He grabbed her hand and they entered the performer only doors leading behind the stage. The corridor was dimly lit and felt strangely empty. Thunderous applause exploded through the thin walls permeating even the dark recesses of the under stage rooms.
When they found him, propped up against one wall, eyes closed, he looked peaceful. Gareth bent down, and felt for a pulse. Glancing at Sophia, he shook his head. ‘If he wanted drama, he certainly chose a good time to die.’
“Suicide? Murder?” Sophia glanced around nervously.
Gareth shrugged. “Nothing to suggest foul play or suicide.”
He straightened up, looking carefully around the room, his eyes alighting on Shaxberg’s precious, ornate diary on the desk. Feeling as if he was intruding, he gingerly turned the hand-made pages and then stopped. Swallowing, he read aloud. “In death, I become…..William Shaxberg. – aged 52.”
“I don’t believe it.” Sophia flicked through one of the many books on Shakespeare piled up on the desk. She gasped. “Shakespeare was also known as William or Wilm Shaxberg.” She looked shocked. “The date…23rd April 1616…it’s the day that Shakespeare died and..”
“It’s the 23rd April 2016 today.” Gareth finished. “A great man or a pale imitation?” He turned to look at his teacher.
Sophia slipped her arm around Gareth. “I like to think that maybe, just maybe, we were in the presence of greatness.”
Together, they took one final look at William Shaxberg who had in death, only added to the intrigue and mystery of the great Bard.
Please note: We only ever publish the ultimate winning entry to allow other prize winners to achieve publication of their submissions elsewhere.