The Folly – My winning entry for The Sentinel Too Write Fiction Competition 2016

Thanks to Mr Martin Brough of The Sentinel for creating this video.



The Folly

We were the folly. Out from the ground we grew, with the rocks, the nettles, the earth. Together, we rolled our hands through the dead leaves that scattered in Autumnal apathy and shared sour secondhand secrets without ever feeling guilty, sitting amongst stone and considering ourselves warlords.

Of course, the remains of the folly weren’t the remnants of a castle, something that had played host to dragons and the thrumming clash of broadswords, it was, as Oliver often mentioned with a cold, cruel disdain, that lingered on his romantic features, “Victorian.”

Oliver was the one less taken with the folly from the start. Out of the four of us, us raging roaring four, he had been the one more interested with History.

“Did you know this isn’t actually old at all? It was built as a summer house! Call that History? I don’t!”

Though, when with spittle and spite he declared it a mockery of all things honest, a joke concocted with money and madness, we would barely listen, half tuning into his hurried syllables which ran into each other like desperate members of a mob. Sometimes, Emilie would even hit out back at him, running her tongue down over her chapped bottom lip until her fake piercings fell out in her own annoyance.

“It’s older than you. Don’t be ignorant about something you barely know. Wikipedia doesn’t hold all the answers.”

And she would turn back to us, settling into a brooding mood and pulling strands of hair across the face in furious dedication.

Then, there was Dominic. He was the friendliest figure, even the name rings with the solid, sensible sounds that one would normally expect from a good person. If our escapades were collected into a movie, or a long winded novel about teenage trouble, he would be the hero, with a natural charm that emanated from him in a rosy, easy way. Only one adjective belonged to Dom, and that was “nice.” Nice face, nice hair, nice manners. He was our peace maker, the one steering us away from the tracks, from the dark, from the light at the end of the tunnel.

“It might be dangerous,” were his first words when we had spotted the jagged silhouette on the hilltop, smirking at us with its weather worn rock. Careful, it might be a train.

Despite him, despite our little locked up thoughts of falling, we climbed. Graffiti and beer cans hadn’t been our fantasy, but that was what we were handed, litter spilling out between cracks in cacophony.

Here do defile me once more? The skeleton stone had hissed. Here to break down more walls?

In the beginning, we had protested at this heap of scratched initials and declared it was everything wrong with the world.

“It’s not very nice,” Dom had hummed, touching his head self consciously as he shared the thought.

His murmur of disgust inspired us to run.

Yet, tomorrows can do strange things to a person, and our wordless nods had dragged us back to the base, the bottom, looking up at what was easily dull, but somehow stronger and more violent than anything we had ever echoed within before.

Going back was like going home.

So we went again.

It was there, full of bravado, bursting with a hidden desire, Emilie had given her soul to me, telling me that her dream was not to sulk as a sullen mess, but  to be a Lawyer.

And, hanging our legs over make believe battlements, Oliver became a Byron, scribbling until his hands were blue and black with the bruises of metaphors.

There, Dom’s opinions were cultivated, weeds we tended until they grew thorns, his voice wavering with hints of negativity that gave him character.

We handed over our nights, sometimes days, school could fade away with sickly insignificance: we taught ourselves, above the rest of them, how to truly be. Our names were not spray painted in crude script or scoured into rough skin: they were within every stone, every crack.

Yet even names, and words, and ideas, blurred and became a spectrum of seasons. Our love was with each other too, a friendship solidified in architecture.

Then one day, it stopped.

Oliver had sat there for a long while, one gnat filled night, staring blindly out into the dark.

Eventually we had all turned to him, seeing apprehension starry in his eyes, and asked him to speak. His reply was rough and scarred.

“Guys,” Oliver began “I don’t want to do this anymore.”

“Do what?” tapped out Emilie through clenched teeth.

“Do this! This thing we have with this place, these days we spend just sitting here. I want to go somewhere else.”

“You mean,” interrupted Dom, bless him, his eyes clouded with a sweet confusion. “Leave the castle?”

A pause hit us all like stale air. The thought had never occurred to us happy few.

“Yes,” were his only words. Ink twisted under his fingernails, and my mind was dead with shock.

Finally, finally I spoke.

“Okay,” I agreed. “Let’s go somewhere else. But, tomorrow, we come to say goodbye.”

Oliver, relief washing his features to a mess of half smiles, nodded.


Oliver was not quite sorry enough as he said his farewell, standing on the edge, humming out at the horizon as if he wanted that, instead of our fortress.

He had smiled, knowingly, vaguely, pompously, as if he knew what was coming.

I don’t think he did.

Who can blame our push?

Who can blame the way he fell and hit every rock that had welcomed him?

We know, we three, that horizons aren’t as exciting as they look. Madness, it is to look past what you already own.

We own this. Or maybe it owns us.

And Oliver was always too right, too interesting, from the beginning.

“Yuck,” had been his snappy, dangerous, original words. “It’s not even old enough to hint at being impressive. I bet…I bet, it’s a folly.”

Well, aren’t we all?

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