I wrote this sample story for a student who, when given the title ‘The Magic Box’, complained that he just wanted to write about his new bicycle. It’s important that students adhere to the brief they are given for short story writing, but it’s also important that they write about something that inspires them!
The Magic Box
My grandad is my favourite person in the world. He has long silver hair that he ties back into a ponytail, and a thick beard that Mum calls his salt and pepper beard. He used to ride a motorbike, but now he just keeps it in the garage and polishes it. He still wears black leather trousers sometimes though, and he wears scarves called bandanas round his neck. Whenever I visit he lets me sit on the motorbike, and he turns on a fan in front and makes rrrRRRrrr noises like an engine, so I can close my eyes and pretend that I’m really riding it.
Last time I visited it was autumn, and there were golden leaves scattered all over the lawn like spilt treasure. The wind tugged at my hair, and I pulled my woollen scarf up over my face to keep out the cold. I was walking slowly and awkwardly, because I was carrying my bike. It gleamed in the sun as if it was made out of rubies, and when I sped downhill I felt like I was riding a dragon. That day it had broken though, so I brought it to Grandad to fix.
I banged on the wooden door, its yellow paint old and scratched beneath my fist. Grandma let me in, and I ran through the house looking for Grandad. I could smell a cake baking in the oven, and heard grandma laugh as she shut the door behind me. “He’s in the study!” She shouted after me, and I quickly ran to find him. He was sitting at his desk, looking at a small painted box. It had stars and moons all over it, and it was about the size of a cricket ball. I asked what it was for and he smiled, and told me it was a magic box. He said he looked inside it every day, and every day there was something different. One day there was a beautiful orchid, the next day a tiny mouse with long silky whiskers.
Suddenly we heard grandma calling us. The cake was ready. We sat and ate it together in the kitchen, dropping crumbs all over the table. Then they went to look at my bike, and I slipped back into the study to find the magic box. I held my breath as I picked it up, and slowly lifted the lid. Nothing. It was completely empty. I sat down, shocked that grandpa had lied to me. It wasn’t a magic box at all. I wanted to cry, but instead I carefully put the box back where I had found it.
“Here you are! All fixed” Grandad beamed at me, as he carried my bike into the room. I examined it carefully then grinned back at him. It wasn’t the box that was magic I realised, it was Grandad.