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Primary National Strategy This is an interactive fiction text. VIEW this SLIDE SHOW to activate. It is not a game to play. It is a story to read. But there.

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Presentation on theme: "Primary National Strategy This is an interactive fiction text. VIEW this SLIDE SHOW to activate. It is not a game to play. It is a story to read. But there."— Presentation transcript:

1 Primary National Strategy This is an interactive fiction text. VIEW this SLIDE SHOW to activate. It is not a game to play. It is a story to read. But there are many different ways to read it. You must find YOUR way. begin instructions

2 Trails through the Forest

3 Our tales are trails on the forest floor. Do they lead us home or lose us more? the sister’s trailthe brother’s trail

4

5 the sister’s trail

6 It was being so hungry that started it all. In fact hunger was often the thing that moved our story on. You could say we were eaten more than we ate – or almost so. I think I would call that night the beginning; that night when hunger would not let me rest. Real hunger rolls about in your stomach like rocks. It cramps you up in a sort of weary agony. Little wonder my straw pallet in the cottage corner held no sleep. So, being awake, I heard them talk. I heard that woman twist my father with her words; wring out his will like a dishcloth until she had him convinced there was not bread enough in our poor lives for four, that he should take my sister and I and leave us, be rid of us for ever, abandon us just like unwanted pets. I shall never forget his drained assent. Later those words lay like stones in my soul, heavier that the ones in my belly. But then my thought was only for my sister, my sweet sister. She needed me to save her. And I did save her, in a way – at at least we saved each other. But in the end we only changed one hunger for another. Q B/S

7 My clever idea worked; it worked like a dream. And we were home again. My sister was home. I watched her face as she ran into our father’s arms. And I watched his face too. There was joy on both. But only one was unclouded. When I heard of that first plan to leave us, lose us, I had crept outside and gathered flint-white stones. When the woman said goodbye, handing us bread with a smile of loving sacrifice I knew for malice, I had to pass it to my sister, for my pockets were already full. And as we walked with father, talking of trees and birds and comfortable, familiar things that stuck in my throat, I dropped the stones to leave a trail. Long after he had left us, once the moon came out, they were easy to follow home. But as my sister rushed to father’s arms, it was the woman’s look that greeted me. I knew at once that she would try again, and would not let me best her next time. Back then, I rose to the challenge. Now, I know that she had won already. Or rather that we had already lost. Q B/S

8 It was a good idea, that trail of stones, a canny one. But it made me too cocksure, too confident by half. I thought I could repeat the same trick with a clever twist. But I was wrong. So I lost us both in the deep forest, with the stones back in our bellies, and our only bread in the stomachs of birds. For my own part I think I could have borne it, even considered it a fair price for escape – not just from that woman, but from both of them. But it was for my sweet ‘Tel I wept, shivering against me on that poor bed of pine must. I knew her fear, her pain, her hunger, far worse than my own. When that woman talked him into leaving us again, as I knew full well she would, I more than half expected the locked door that kept me from the stones. I thought our sacrifice of bread, more genuine than hers in giving it, would save us cunningly. I thought a crumb trail would bring us home again as well as the stones had done. But there were others in the forest as hungry as we were, others for whom the crumbs were easy pickings. We were easy pickings too! Q B/S

9 It was I who had failed to get us home that second time. So I did not blame my sister for eating what was so readily available. That I was to be eaten by the crone in return for the bread my sister stole, I did not resent. If I had known the price beforehand, I would have paid it willingly. And yet as I crouched day after day in that cage, my belly more full than it had been all my short life, a greater fear than my own end gnawed away at me. I understood full well the witch was fattening me for her own oven. I knew that my full belly and plumping limbs were as much a threat to my life as the churning hunger had been. But I had none left to cherish but my sister. I would have made the witch a meal or two, and gladly, would it save her, would it buy her back what we had both lost. But I feared that would not be. If I were the witch’s dinner, who would be desert? And so I saved the chicken bone, and stuck it through the bars when the crone came to test my finger for fattening. It bought me time, time to find a way to save my sister. I had to be strong for her. Q B/S

10 Now that it is all over I can see that there were two witches in our story – and both of them tried to kill us. One wanted to eat us, but perhaps had no reason to love us in the first place. The other was worse. She sent us to be eaten, when she should have cared for us. Now they are both gone, and good riddance I say. But there is another in our tale whose behaviour was worse. He did love us, and still sent us. It comes hard to know that your father is a weak man. For my part I would not have come home this second time. My pockets were bulging with the witch’s gold, and it might have bought us happiness anywhere. We came back once before. We should not have made the same mistake again. Yet it was not for my sake that I came. It was for my sister. First she tricked the witch into leaving us - perhaps one of these days she will tell me how – and then my sweet, gentle sister brought us home with forgiveness shining in her eyes. I hope it is enough for both of us. Q B/S

11 When my dear mother died, she left me still hungry for her love. The lack of it churned in my stomach like a physical pain. So when my father married again and brought that woman to live with us in our little cottage, I tried and tried to be nice to her. I tried to make her love me. In my father’s presence she smiled back, cared for the cottage, seemed to care for us. But behind his back I caught a sneer of contempt on her lips, and a glint of triumph in her eyes. Still I tried for my father’s sake, for my father’s love. I thought he would love me for loving her, and his love was better than none. But I can see now that it only played into her hands. It made me weak in needing love and her strong in denying it. So when my poor father took us that day deep into the woods and asked us to wait for him, turning from us with watery eyes, I knew he would not return. I knew she would not let him. She hungered for him herself, and he was a meal she would not share. Q B/S

12 I was not surprised when, left in the forest that second time, my brother lost us. I was not surprised that his oh-so-clever plan did not work like the one before. But I said nothing. He needed to think that he was looking after both of us, that he was looking after me.I shivered and cried as we lay in darkness beneath the pines, I snuggled against him, so that he could play the man, protect me. But I always knew that in the end he could not save us. I always knew it would be up to me. I saw where the blame lay, and it was not with my father, nor my brother. What I did resent was the loss of the bread - and perhaps his misplaced self- belief. Even as I watched, silent, without reproach, and as he threw down crumb after crumb of our only food, I could picture the scuttering creatures, the swooping birds, filling their bellies instead of ours. And by then hunger was churning and churning inside me. I could have eaten stones. Q B/S

13 With the crumb trail gone, we wandered in that forest for a long time. Our hunger ate into us, and tiredness drained us. So we were walking almost in a trance when we came to the little cottage in a clearing. It felt strangely familiar, in a way I didn’t understand. I was drawn to it. But a soon as I approached it, smelled it, touched it, found it was made of bread and cake, there was no thought in my being but to eat. I tore lumps of bread from the walls and swallowed them voraciously. Knowing it was not mine to take, I ate it anyway, and tried to share both bread and guilt with Hans. Then she came out, the old witch who owned it. The moment I saw the look in her eyes, I knew she meant us harm. I knew what I had done, too. My weakness, my hunger, had played into her hands. I had eaten her house, stolen her bread. Now she could demand pay-back. Now she could take what was mine and eat it. And what I had brought her was my bother. Q B/S

14 She locked my brother in a cage, that crone. But she made to look after me and care for me. She fed me and taught me to bake. And all the while she was fattening my brother for the oven. She would eat him, take him from me. Behind her smile she could not hide the glint of triumph in her eyes. Somewhere inside I knew that she had done all this before, and I had let her. I would not make the same mistake again. The day her patience ran out and I knew that she would eat him, fat or no, she asked me to check the oven. ‘See if it’s hot enough, girl, for my bread.’ Bread! I feigned stupidity, asked her to check herself, to show me how. The heat surged out as I opened the oven door, and when the crone peered in I pushed, and slammed it shut again. I told my brother only that she had gone. He was so distracted with the piles of gold we found in her cupboards, that he never asked where, or when or why- and I shall never tell him. Q B/S

15 And so in the end we are back in our cottage where it all started. But are we home? More than time has moved on. The gold we brought back means there will always be bread baking in our little kitchen. And we returned, of course, to find our stepmother gone. Gone for good, my father said. I have never asked where, or when, or why. I do not need to ask, or want to. And the people? Have they changed? Two, I think, have not. But I can forgive my father the weak love in his watery eyes. I can live with my brother’s resentment too. It is enough that, at last, I am here with the two men in my life. My father. My brother. I know them so well - but I am glad they no longer know me. One calls me ‘ sweet child’, one ‘gentle sister’. Only I remember the sharp, fierce heat on my face as I opened the oven door, and the sweet, gentle joy in my heart as I closed it. Q B/S

16 back to story B/S Q go back in time go forward in time make a choice switch brother / sister begin again quit the program return to this page


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