Creative Writing – The Ticking Time Bomb

For those of you who would like to improve your creative writing skills, or simply fancy a read of a captivating short story, check out The Ticking Time Bomb written by one of our fantastic students. Whether its similes, onomatopoeia, semi-colons or personification you would like to explore, this story contains examples of a wide variety of creative writing techniques.


The Ticking Time Bomb

As I hobbled along the quaint street, I noticed Mrs Stevenson had changed the dainty daffodils in her window boxes to ruby-red roses. I was surprised – I had always thought of Mrs Stevenson as a reserved, quiet lady who kept herself to herself. Glancing further along the street, I observed Mr Groff mowing his lawn. He did not look best pleased. In the thirty years I had lived there, I had never once witnessed Mr Groff crack a smile. Using my walking stick for support, I stumbled along the cobbled street. Although it was often a struggle to manoeuvre myself on the potholed path, Blossom Grove meant everything to me. I felt my breath begin to quicken, like a dog gasping for air after a long walk. It was only a matter of time before my heart failed once more. Only three months ago, my heart ripped into a million pieces, shattered like leftover shrapnel from an explosion. As I continued my journey towards East Avenue Park, my body began to weaken, but I was resilient; I had to get there. The emerald green archway was still coated in the finest quality paint; we had always admired how well the park was maintained. The sound of laughter instantly filled my heart with joy. Oh how John and Victoria used to laugh like that…I settled myself on our bench, consisting of an ancient, metal structure and fragile, timber wood. The sun smiled down on me as I reached for my pocket watch. I hesitated. An old, faded picture of Poppy was brought to my attention. There she was, smiling back at me. Although in black in white, I could still see her in full colour. Her green eyes matching the shade of grass underneath my feet, bright, yet with a hint of passion. Cheeks the colour of a blushing, blossom tree and chestnut brown hair, perfectly matching the colour of the oak tree in the distance.

My mind drifted off to the summer of 1942. Music echoed around the town hall as life sprang into action. Ladies whizzed and waltzed in their floaty, ballroom gowns as the men danced around them, occasionally slicking back their glossy hair. It was difficult not to notice the lady in the red dress, babbling away to her friend over in the corner. Her laugh infected the town hall, a sound of bliss and delight. I decided it was now or never. I stumbled over, butterflies flew around my stomach. I had never been so nervous. What was I going to say? Would she like me back? Could she be the one? Little did I know, that decision was about to change my life forever.

I watched in the distance as boys played on the pitch in the far right-hand corner of the park, footballs flying around. BANG! The player dodged the ball like a bullet, as it ricocheted into the metal railings. My mind immediately flooded back to the winter of 1943. The treacherous trenches pasted my legs in mud. My fellow soldiers dodged and darted, avoiding the bullets flying towards them as fast as lightning. Oh how I wish I could still move with the same agility. The whistling wind pierced my ears as the sound of screaming soldiers filled the air with fear. We were on the biggest mission yet. We had to reach Brussels by midday to cancel an air strike which was due to take place that evening; it was a life or death situation. Crossing no-man’s land was always the most difficult challenge of all. The barbed wire tore the soles off my shoes, piercing deep into my flesh, causing an unforgettable pain – one that has never left my memory. All of a sudden, the ticking time bomb was launched towards me, it landed right in front of my feet. I vividly remember my life flashing before my eyes. A vision of Poppy, smiling brightly, comforted me as I waited for the explosion to engulf me. I waited. And waited. Nothing. The ticking continued, but the fuse had failed. I dropped to the floor in utter relief. God was on my side.

I drew my attention back to the bustling park, the sun was now beaming down heavier than before. Seagulls glided across the ocean-blue sky, as the sound of chirping rung like church bells on a Sunday morning. As I closed my eyes, absorbing the warm sun rays, I awaited the sound of laughter as I made my arrival to France, the South of France, Cannes, in August 1955. It was one of the hottest days recorded that summer. Myself, Poppy, John and Victoria were enjoying our time on the beach that particular day. We watched as John and Victoria leapt into the air before crashing back beneath the surface of the foaming waves. Their faces were a picture of utter joy. I could not begin to describe how I felt in that moment. The faint acoustic guitar playing in the distance, matched with the hula dancing and the crashing of the waves against the shore set the perfect scene. Children ran without a care in the world, ice cream dripping through their palms. I glanced over to Poppy, lying next to me on the striped sunbed. She too had a grin from ear to ear, admiring our beautiful children having the time of their lives. I was desperate to join in on the fun, but Poppy refused. I began to grow weary of Poppy’s behaviour; this was unlike her. Little did I know the trauma that was growing inside her.

When we arrived back in England, the secret which had been eating Poppy inside, was finally revealed. Devastation tore the family into fragments of hopelessness and despair. Three months. That was all we had left with the most beautiful mother and wife anyone could have wished for. What were we to do next? I despised myself for not realising sooner, but Poppy was adamant she wanted Cannes to be the ultimate memory. The cancer had spread from her neck down to her spine, an uncontrollable monster destroying every living part of her precious body. The next few months were a total blur. A cycle of pain, hospital visits and tears merged into one as we watched the person we loved the most deteriorate into nothingness. Her heart, her soul, disappearing before our very eyes. If I could have spared a soul for a soul, I would have taken her position in a heartbeat. Her ashes were contained in an old, antique vase positioned proudly on the fireplace at number eight, Blossom Grove. To this day, I had never forgotten the fourteen amazing years I had spent with her, enjoying every single moment and raising our two glorious children.

As I took notice to the flowers scattered around, my fractured mind drew me to Summer, my loving granddaughter. I pictured her fingers entwined around the bundle of snow white roses – a pure image of innocence. Flowers sprinkled each side of the isle as Summer made her entrance towards the archway, coated in blushing blossoms and fragile fuchsias. Her laced dress danced around the isle in a balletic manner. One, two, three, four, the bridesmaids stood. A tear slid down James’ face as he awaited his wife to be. The diamonds were placed on her hand as the dramatic sunset posed as the picturesque backdrop to a perfect day. We made our way to the reception, ready for the celebrations to commence. Summer invited me to dance. I remember placing a daisy in her hair, tucked neatly behind her brunette locks; oh how she reminded me of her mother. Summer had given me the honour of her first dance. This was a first dance for her, but the last for me.


I knew it would happen again, sooner or later. The ticking time bomb sat in my chest would finally explode. As I sat on mine and Poppy’s little brown bench, I took out my pocket watch to view the faded picture once more. A poppy flower on either side of the bench reminded me of the love she gave me. I was at peace with the knowledge that every second that ticked by, was a second closer to holding Poppy in my arms once more.

Sasha Roy (Laurus Cheadle Hulme)


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