MAC News 7 2022
Dear MAC Community
It has been a very busy Term 3, with a plethora of house and student activities. Some of my personal highlights have been MACs Got Talent, Wonder Years Photo Competition, Book Week Open Mic and Book Week Fashion Parade, Trash Ball Runway and Inter-house Netball Competition. You can read more about these events and others further down in the newsletter. I would like to thank all the students and staff who have led these activities. It is great to see lots of different activities and events at the College catering for the diverse interests of our students as well high levels of participation from a range of students. Life at MAC is starting to return to pre-COVID days.
I would like to thank the staff who assisted with course counselling this term. This is an enormous endeavour. In particular, I would like to thank Meg Rawlins and Michael Buckingham for all their work in leading this process. It was wonderful to be able to counsel students in person rather than via Zoom, as we have had to in the last two years. Preliminary Subject Selections have closed, and next year’s timetable is being developed and should be finalised in early Term 4.
We have had a number of Leading Teacher and Learning Specialist positions advertised and would like to thank the students who have been part of these selection panels. The students play an important part of the process and their insights and feedback are invaluable.
MAC’s Got Talent
Sadly, we farewell Carmel Nielsen, Student Wellbeing Coordinator, who leaves MAC at the end of this term.
Carmel has been at the College for 6 and a half years and has made an outstanding contribution to the school. She has been a trusted and respected colleague and support for our students. I know she will be sorely missed by the students, staff and the many parents and carers who have worked closely with her over the years.
I would like to sincerely thank Carmel for her extraordinary support and genuine care for our students and the incredible difference she has made to the lives of the students in our school. Clark Mitchell will be working in Carmel’s role next term and will be supported by Lynn Bentley and Kate Stevanovic.
We also farewell Meg Dunley at the end of the first week of Term 4.
Meg has worked as the Resource Centre Manager, Marketing and Communications Officer at MAC for the last nine years. Meg was part of a core group of families who came across from Kensington Primary School when the school was at risk of closing due to low numbers. Meg became part of the PFA in 2011 and a group of parents who worked to build the profile of the College in the community and worked with the Principal and staff to transform the school into an incredible and innovative learning community.
Apart from being a parent at the MAC, she has been the public face of the College, working with students daily, and communicating the wonderful achievements and events of our students and school through the College social media platforms, newsletters, yearbooks, website and Compass. I would like to thank Meg for her incredible work, her passion for books and her capacity to inspire students to read. She too will be sorely missed.
I would like to thank the student leaders and School Council president who hosted Mr Danny Pearson Member for Essendon, and representatives from Kosloff Architects, the Victorian Schools Building Authority and Built Environs on a tour of the building site on 19 August.
Mr Pearson thoroughly enjoyed meeting with the students and was thrilled to see the progress being made. The building is on track to be completed by mid-December. The ground and first floor have now been plastered, with plastering continuing on Level 2, along with high level services and framing on Level 3. The temporary canteen consisting of two shipping containers commenced operation last week, with the old canteen being demolished in the coming weeks.
The construction of a new disability ramp from Wellington Street to the Resource Centre RC door will be constructed over the holidays and should be completed for the start of Term 4.
I would like to conclude by thanking the staff for their hard work this term, it has been a particularly busy one and their enthusiasm and commitment to the students and the school has been unwavering. I hope they have an opportunity to have a good rest and enjoy some time with their families.
I would like to wish the VCE Graduates 2022 and all other students completing a Unit 3 and 4 subjects all the best for their practice exams and congratulate them, along with the VCAL Graduates, for successfully completing the General Achievement Test (GAT).
Thank you to all MAC students for their efforts this term and I am looking forward to another great term, one which will no doubt be as eventful as this one has been.
Ms Dani Angelico, Principal
Time Lapse of Building Works
Victorian High Abilities Program
For the Victorian High Abilities Program (VHAP) English Masterclass, we went to Werribee to talk to the author of ‘Hive’, A.J. Betts. Hive is the text we’re using for the English VHAP. We took part in writing activities and received writing advice relevant to the book. Throughout the day, we participated in multiple writing exercises with other schools, including learning to invoke mood with language, the ‘four types of Dramatic Tension’ (‘Tension in Task’, ‘Tension of Surprise’, ‘Tension of Relationships’ and ‘Tension in Mystery’) we can draw upon in our writing and writing our own story after planning. We were able to ask questions of A.J. Betts and learn more about the origin of her books, details on ‘Hive’ and how she planned and researched for her book. The day in general was very fun, and I learnt a lot about planning, and writing.
Emily, VHAP English
Here’s some samples of writing from the day where students were given scenarios including writing styles in ‘dialogue’, ‘action’ and ‘exposition’. Students were also given quick timed writing experiences responding to setting, character, mood and something unexpected to create short stories.
‘It was silent.
The only sounds were my breathing and the bullets of wind echoing throughout the tunnel.
The roads were nearly empty.
My arms itched under my hoodie, calling to me.
Attempting to resist, I turned my head to the window.
The lines on the wall passed fast.
I stared numbly at the roof of the tunnel.
The uncomfortable and tense atmosphere lingering like a bad smell.
The bright lights and lines on the road disappearing behind me.
The itch remained. Bugging me.
‘Go away’ I mumbled incoherently.’
Elliot – written response to an image of a car driving through a tunnel
‘The air’s aroma was suffocating. It didn’t make it any better considering my lungs were quickly losing oxygen. I could no longer stand up straight due to my head beating against itself’.
Giti – playing with forms of writing – exposition, dialogue and action
‘“Hold your guard up! The fight isn’t over”.
He slammed his hammer into the head of an enemy. The wind harshly thrusted anagains his body, swaying his body around. The spray of blood on his coat smelt stronger than ever. But no matter what happened, he could not leave his comrades to fight along’
Giti – creating a timed written response to an image of Thor
Kate Stevanovic, Lead Teacher Junior School Transitions and Program Coordinator, Teaching and Learning Leader, Food Technology & Music, Lead Teacher Student Wellbeing and Engagement
Pregnancy and Prenatal Development
Pregnancy and Prenatal development incursion gave us a great insight into childbirth and prenatal development. The incursion educated us on the many different health and risk factors of childbirth, prenatal development and fertility. Overall the incursion was a fun and engaging lesson and gave me a greater understanding of childbirth and prenatal development.
SPECIAL REPORT: Building Belonging Post Pandemic
Having a sense of belonging involves more than simply knowing other people. It is also focused on gaining acceptance, attention and support from others, as well as having the opportunity to provide the same to other people.
When the pandemic interrupted our lives and changed the way we live, this meant that suddenly many of our young people’s main sources of connection with peers and extended family members was removed overnight without warning. As human beings, we have a basic emotional and biological need for connection. It provides us with feelings of identity, security, support, acceptance and community.
Students who have a sense of belonging will experience these feelings which in turn supports their academic, psychological and social development. When young people come together again after a period of instability, there is a period of adjustment. Whilst the rules of the group may be established, acceptance remains paramount and can therefore mean some behaviours become far from rational, making it difficult for their brain to focus on things, such as learning. All these factors combined, leave young people open to being vulnerable. It can sometimes tempt them into making choices or becoming involved in situations they might not ordinarily consider.
As a result of the pandemic, there are still many young people struggling to connect and regain their sense of belonging. This Special Report provides guidance to families who find themselves in this situation. We hope you take a moment to reflect on the information offered, and as always, we welcome your feedback. If this raises any concerns for you, a loved one or the wellbeing of your child, please seek medical or professional help.
Here is the link to your special report https://mountalexandercollege.
Carmel Nielsen, Student Wellbeing Coordinator
Each Monday at lunchtime, over the past few weeks, the art room is abuzz with the sound of chatter, laughter and creative banter. Mr Dal Forno and Michelle have coordinated a series of friendly and fun workshops providing a safe space for students to draw, colour, learn crochet and generally hang out.
“The communication, teamwork, enthusiasm and encouragement shown by all has been amazing as we navigated the beginnings of the many styles of friendship bracelets and creative projects!“
The Art Craft Club runs in Portable 1 (The Artroom) every Monday at lunchtime; All are welcome.
Valley Youth – School Holiday Activities
School holidays are coming up from Monday 19th September to Friday 30th September. Valley Youth is offering a range of fun and cool activities for young people to enjoy. Our list of activities include:
- Treetop Adventure – Monday 19 September
- Little Dreamers Young Carers Workshop – Tuesday 20 September
- Intro to Auslan – Wednesday 21 September
- Game off – Thursday 22 September
- Punch Needling workshop – Thursday 22 September
- DJing workshop – Monday 26 September
- Social Justice Art for Teens – Tuesday 27 September
- Queers, Peers and Pizza – Tuesday 27 September
- Board Game Bonanza and Pizza – Wednesday 28 September
- Virtual Reality Gaming – Wednesday 28 September
- Yoga for Teens – Thursday 29 September
- Snazzy Creators – Thursday 29 September
- Ukulele workshop – Friday 30 September
- Youth Fest – Friday 30 September
- Avenue Productions meeting – Monday 19 and Monday 26 September
Michelle Hynson, School Health Promotion Nurse, Monday & Tuesday
Learning through Lunch
Once again, to complement the learning in VCE Food Studies, students went to William Angliss Institute to participate in the Learning through Lunch program delivered by one of our partners ‘ARDOCH’.
Students were treated to a three course fine-dining menu in the restaurant followed by a tour of the wide range of programs and specialisations that William Angliss offers including viewing current students preparing sugar spheres, viewing the chocolate and sugar work of students as well as checking out the hotel school and aviation school.
The students had an awesome time learning about a wide range of opportunities the hospitality industry can offer whilst also eating amazingly delicious meals.
A huge thank you to Nick Gabb at ARDOCH for your continued support in offering programs for our students as well as Sally Rizza for accompanying me on the excursion.
Kate Stevanovic, Teaching and Learning Leader, Food Technology & Music, Lead Teacher Junior School Transitions and Program Coordinator
Language and Food Culture
MAC students studying languages have been learning about food and drinks as part of their language class. Students learnt how to express in language what they like or dislike about food and drinks. Other than talking about what they eat and drink for the three meals of the day, they have also learnt about food and cultures in another country through languages.
Students in the Chinese class learnt about “zong zi”, a rice dumpling eaten at Dragon Boat Festival; moon cakes for the mid-autumn festival; and “jiao zi” dumplings from the Northern part of Chinese for New Year. Everyone got to make dumplings in the kitchen and enjoyed tasting the various foods while added into their learning of languages.
Students in the Japanese class have been working hard using the Obento series to add to their communication skills about their likes and dislikes of food and drinks. One class used the school kitchen to make Obento. The students had a great time creating a nutritious Obento.
Ching Chan, Teaching and Learning Leader, Humanities
Year 10 Maths Games
Justine Johnston, Teaching and Learning Leader, Maths
2022 Science week’s theme was Glass: More than meets the eye and was celebrated with a big lunch break science trivia. Congratulations to the winners:
1st – Olivia Del Rio
2nd – Isla Smith
3rd – Aidan Smith
“The trivia was great fun! a lot of people were participating, the questions were fun and people were doing it in a group of friends!“ – Above Entry 8 student
This year students from all year levels were invited to submit a photo with an accompanying text for the science photo contest. The photo had to be related to science and taken by the student. All participating students have submitted great photos, showing both creativity and science understanding as well as curiosity. Please see the winning photos below.
1st Place – Caustics, Glass reflecting on wood by Mayanna Lakerink, Y8
At lunch I noticed the reflection from my glass of coke on the table and how interesting it looked. I experimented with a range of views and the light changed as I moved the glass to create this image.
Caustics can be defined as the envelope of rays that have been reflected or refracted from a curved surface where the network of light rays can be seen. In this case it is the angular glass and colour from the coke creating the pattern onto a wooden surface to create an interesting pattern or image. Caustics are the hardest naturally occurring light phenomena to replicate in digital technology or CGI.
2nd place – Fortune Favours the Rain – by Isla Smith, Y7
These Stratocumulus Stratiformis Clouds have a puffy, thick, layered appearance. Coming from two cloud types, stratus and cumulus, Stratocumulus Stratiformis means “spread out, layered appearance”.
These clouds are often mistaken for rain clouds, however, it is very unlikely that you’ll even get a light drizzle. Therefore resulting in little to no rainfall for at least six to twelve hours.
Unfortunately for this farmer in central Victoria, there will be no rain for a while.
Crowd’s favourite – Passing By – by Josh Owen, Y10
Did you know that the speed of light is 299 792 458 metres a second and that the speed of sound is only 343 metres a second which is why when lightning strikes it takes a while for you to hear it.
Miriam Berkovich, Teaching and Learning Leader, Science
This year fifty five students headed out to Aberfeldie Athletics Track to represent Mount Alexander College at the Moonee Valley Divisional Athletics. The students showed incredible enthusiasm, sportsmanship and commitment in their individual events throughout the day. We had a number of students place in the top three of their event with some students now moving onto the Western Metropolitan Regional finals including Oscar L, Nyanker M, William L (Year 8), Silas B, Jordy W, Javier L, Molly S (Year 9), Charlie F, Riley W (Year 11) and Jerry N (Year 12).
A huge congratulations to two students in particular who set new records for the Moonee Valley Division:
- Nyanker M 100m: 12.39s (Old Record: 13.37s)
- Jordy W 800m: 2:10:01s (Old Record: 2:13:76s)
A special mention to Kelissa T, Amra C, Bonita R, Grace M and Lucinda G who kindly volunteered to assist with the officiating roles and helped the day run smoothly. These students were thanked by the division coordinator for their organisation and leadership skills.
I wish to also thank Ms Hayle and Mr Grocott for assisting me on the day, this event would not have been possible without everyone’s contribution.
Well done to all students involved, look forward to watching you compete next year again!
Written Emily Volpe, Sports Coordinator and Classroom Teacher
Entry Level Basketball
On Friday 12 August, the Year 7 boys and girls went to the Coburg basketball stadium to play inter school sports.
The boys won 2 games and lost 1, this led them to be able to play the finals in their pool. But we ended up losing by only 1 point. It was a great time for both girls and boys as they got to have lots of fun.
Written by Eli Vlachos, Entry Year 7
On Friday 12 August, the Year 7 boys and girls basketball team went to Coburg Basketball stadium to compete in an interschool tournament.
The girls played 3 games. We lost one game and won two, which meant we made it to the final round. Unfortunately, we lost in the finals by six points to Strathmore College. It was a really intense game and the girls played awesomely!
The Mount Alexander Year 7 girls came first in our pool, which I am really proud of, and second in the whole competition. We all played amazingly and it was so much fun to be a part of such a great team.
I would just like to thank all the teachers who organized this event. We had such an awesome day!
Written by Myka Ruaine, Entry Year 7
In preparation for an upcoming Vex Robotics competition, students have been working together in small teams. This year’s competition requires students to design and build robots to collect and propel plastic pucks.
One of the ways to score points in the competition is by firing a plastic puck a certain distance. The trick is to be able to control the distance the puck is fired precisely. The greatest number of points are awarded for firing the puck just far enough, but not too far, somewhat similar to lawn bowls.
Caleb and Sean are testing out two different ways to fire the orange plastic pucks under the bar, just the right distance to score maximum points. You can see in the video Caleb is using a series of spinning wheels that only just touch the puck to propel it forwards. He’s made a simple gearbox to spin the wheels faster than the motors would otherwise turn them. Sean has opted for a different method, something like a mechanical paddle.
Often, very simple mechanisms are the easiest to build and maintain. I’m very interested to see which solution proves best on competition day.
Can you think of another way to make a robot repeatedly fire a puck a precise distance?
Tully and Alex worked consistently to construct ‘Gerald’ the robot. Gerald is the first robot able to retrieve the orange pucks from all three types of puck dispenser. Note that there is no prescribed method, or even a single best way to get the job done. Students are presented with the challenge, and then allowed to experiment and find any method that work while obeying all the rules of the game.
Tim Phillips, Robotics Teacher
Resource Centre News
The theme of this year’s Book Week was Dreaming with Eyes Open. The students were thrilled to engage with the activities for the week including Open Mic, Spelldown, Dress Up Parade and the annual Writing Competition. It was wonderful to see the excitement in the rooms during the events. Thanks to everyone who participated in the week’s events.
Congratulations to Lachlan Janetzki, winner of the Open Mic; Jasmine Ellis, runner up for Open Mic; Shuayb Hassan winner of Spelldown; and Emily Labas winner of Dress up Parade.
A hearty congratulations to Jacinta Klassen who won the Senior section with her story Sea Birds and to Chloe Whitfield who won the Junior section for her winning story Gift. Congratulations to everyone who took the risk of writing something and submitting it to the competition; you are far ahead of everyone else who didn’t commit to writing something and submitting.
Below you can read the winning entries.
It is with much sadness that I say goodbye to the students and staff at MAC. It has been a privilege to be a part of the school for the last eleven years and to watch the school go from strength to strength. I have loved the last four years which has given me the opportunity to work in the Resource Centre to create a safe space that invites curiosity in books and stories.
My replacement will commence at the start of Term 4.
Meg Dunley, Resource Centre, Communications and Marketing Manager
MAC Parents & Friends
Thanks to everyone who turned up to our last working bee. It was a small group, but they did a great job. Keep your eyes out for the next one. It’s a great chance to get to know other parents in the school.
Second-hand Uniform Shop
The next MAC Parents & Friends Association’s meeting is Monday 3 October at 6.00 pm. At this stage it will be a face-to-face meeting in the Resource Centre, but contact the MAC Parents and Friends to stay in contact with them about this.
Contact MAC Parents and Friends: firstname.lastname@example.org
Join the conversation over on the PFA Facebook Group
2022 MAC Writing Competition Winning Entries
Gift by Chloe Whitfield
The wind circled around my hands and it almost sucked back into my fingertips like a soul returning to its owner. I could feel it brush its fingers over my bumped skin and I could smell the rain coming. The breeze was so violent I could even imagine it capturing me in its furious tornado. The black clouds furrowed in impatience like bushy eyebrows, mother nature’s eyebrows, but they looked more masculine to me.
I lift my hand up and push against the wind. I feel like the statue of liberty, on my own island on the deck of my house, which feels like it will be encapsulated in the hurricane brewing. The rain hasn’t arrived on its black horse with its sharp arrows yet, but I get a whiff of its scent in the air, like it’s already left a trace without making an appearance.
“The storm is coming.”
“Which one? Been heaps of em’.” My mother puffs her cigarette, creating a cloud of grey adding to the ones shieling us from the blue. She’s tall, boney, and has long icy blonde locks that end just past her shoulders. At the roots of her hair you can eye her natural chocolate curls and where they start. Her hair is thin, unlike my thick frizzies, from the years of bleach buildup. She used to have swirling curls like mine.
I point wearily to the grey abyss in front of us.
“Do you think this will be the one that’ll knock us all out?” She tapped her cigarette, I focused on her crimson cherry-pie nails that were now outgrown and scratched since she got them.
The deck shook in fear and I let it rattle up my legs.
“Could be, could be not.”
“You sound like you’re pickin’ some flower for some boy. C’mon, let’s go to the shelter.”
She dropped her cigarette onto the wood and pressed it underneath her white sneakers. I watched the smoke trickle out of it as it slowly died on the floor. I look back up, and gaze at the untouched landscape in front of us. It’s not much of a sight, and I had never seen anything like it in a painting. It was a ginormous field, nothing growing through the soil and nothing sprouting. An abyss of brown. The soil had no company but its dehydrated self. It went on to the horizon.
Beside it was a long winding road, with our fields twin on the other side. There was one measly tree, and that was all I could see from our deck. Our house was in the middle of the plainess, like the elephant in the room. Maybe our little house was disrupting the peace, that’s why the storm was sent to take it with it.
I hadn’t slept, the room had suffocated my lull. You would think in a little box in the bottom of the world you could sleep like a baby, but I slept like a tree. Tree’s don’t sleep, they stay awake watching and observing, stiff as night predators kill. My eyes even felt like they were made of wood, and my hair was sticking up like branches with deep green leaves.
On the second night, my solid eyes started to automatically close like a machine. The bed was made out of a rough, plastic like fabric, which scraped my skin and left red indents on my arms. I had one miniature blanket that felt like a towel, which I promptly held over my shaking body as I tried to rest. It was colder than upstairs, much, and I could almost see icicles forming from the ashy concrete roof. We had one cooler which was what I presumed broken, as the icy air twirled and danced around the walls, almost mocking us. It was more humid and warm out in the sweltering heat above, which had now been consumed by the sky.
Day three I tried to make images out of the holes in the concrete walls and floors and ceilings. It felt like I was in a cement mixer, and even my mind started to fumble around like a washing machine. My mother puffed on her cigarette as I made eye contact with the solemn walls, and I could see her smoke evaporating into the dusty, spiderwebbed light that was glued to the ceiling. Soon the room started smelling of smoke, and the walls started to get more dappled and ashy. The tar was building up, maybe one day it would inclose us. It wouldn’t take long.
Day four my mother had four more wrinkles engraved in her pale forehead. Her skin looked rock solid, like I could run my hands over her laugh lines and get calloused hands.
“If it’s taken our house like Dorothy’s, don’t scream and shout, we’ll be right.”
The sun beamed on my pale skin, and my life almost returned to my veins. I felt like I had perked up at the sight of the beaming ball in the cloudless sky. I knew that because I could see it straight away, though, my house had been blended furiously in the storm. But what caught my eyes was that in my house’s remains was not a blank canvas of a landscape, but a very full one instead, which bustled in front of my pupils. The sound of people gathering and the barks of dogs jumped around inside of my ears, and towering, unforgivable structures blocked my path of vision. I felt like a mouse inside of a circle of insulting, mocking cats. My mother stared, mouth open at the vast city, and I almost wanted to place a cigarette to her lips. I looked around. Had I died?
But the city felt most certainly alive, not just the life was returned to my veins, a whole world was gifted to me in the process. I pulled out a chair and fell into it as soon as it touched my legs. I huffed in the lively atmosphere as I was glued to the chair, stupefied, astounded. The world had been gifted to me, and I watched as my peers hastily flew past me.
My mother tells me that everyday you learn something new, small, big, it could be anything. I had struggled to figure out what I learnt in the last couple of months, but today I learnt something colossal. Something that could make up for the last month. Whenever you lose something you get something in return.
Sea Birds by Jacinta Klassen
In the old world, August could fly.
It wasn’t as if this made him especially unique in any sense. In actuality, August had been one of hundreds, maybe even thousands that could do the same. Had he been more adventurous and travelled the world, he might know a more precise number, but he had always been satisfied with the small town he had grown up in. He had no desire for adventure, or heroism, or even importance – August was, in the grand scheme of things, rather insignificant and that was just how he liked it. Unfortunately, being insignificant didn’t mean he was immune to the tragedies that often befell important people.
He mostly walks now, but on good days you might find him riding a bike when his back isn’t too sore. Sometimes he tries to trace the scars and coarse skin where his wings once were, but the action is awkward, and he feels a little stupid doing it. He doesn’t do it so much anymore – the scars are still visible, but the texture of the skin is no longer raised and hard to the touch, so there’s not really much point. He still catches himself absent-mindedly trying to use his wings, but he no longer has to wear shirts with holes in the back for fear of irritating the wounds, and when he remembers they’re gone, it’s not all encompassing anymore. Be that as it may, little things painfully remind him of better times. A bird flying over the ocean. The wind in his face. But still, he presses on.
Generally speaking, he keeps to himself. He knows better than to cause trouble – the soldiers that keep the village in line don’t bother him as long as he keeps his mouth shut and does what they say. He would rather not bring any more attention to himself than he needed to, thank you very much.
The weekly market meant most of the village was bustling around buying fruits, vegetables, jams, spices – whatever you could name. Someone’s cooking meat, and the smell wafts through the stalls. The market is always loud, filled with light words and loose laughter to pretend the heavy air surrounding them doesn’t exist. August knows he’s not the only one avoiding eye contact.
A woman, one he vaguely recognises but can’t put a name to, pushes past him while he’s buying some bread. She’s running, and seconds after following two soldiers. They stop and ask him where she went but he only shrugs and they dash off once again. His heart sinks when he sees they’ve gone the right way. He wonders whether he should have pointed them in the other direction. Before he can dwell on it for too long, a scream comes from across the square – a child being dragged by a different soldier. He grimaces – they couldn’t be older than ten. It was a little young to have grown their wings, but still very possible. The wings are small and featherless, but whether that’s because the feathers have been plucked in a desperate effort to conceal them or if the wings were new enough that they simply haven’t grown in yet, August doesn’t know. The woman, presumably the child’s mother, is being held back by the soldiers he had seen earlier, fighting their grip through tears. A small clearance in the crowd forms.
The woman continues to struggle, but she appears resigned and mournful already. She’s already lost hope. The soldier holding the child pins their arms with one hand and takes out a large knife with the other. August can’t bear to watch. Many of the other adults around avert their eyes as well, but the children watch on with part morbid curiosity and part trepidation for when it’s eventually their turn. It’s a nightmare most in the town have already had to live through, and likely many more would. All August hears is the cruel squelch of knife against flesh and a gut-wrenching wail of pain that sounds far too young. The crowd is silent. He swallows and pays for his bread.
August’s home is small, but functional. He’s no architect, and the walls are crooked and made of thin wood that does little to keep the cold out. Still, he figures that for a house on a budget, it could have been worse. The door creaks as he enters, and he can hear the steady drip of water falling from the leaky pipe into the bucket. It’s tidy for the most part, but he has a multitude of half-finished metal-work projects lying around – the beginning of a reinforced gate for the perimeter of the village, armour and weapons for the soldiers. He’d need to bring them into the shop soon. He isn’t technically allowed to have any projects at home at all, especially not ones of such high importance, but he much prefers the privacy to the large windows of the shop, allowing anyone to peek in at what he was working on. Besides, the tools he owns are much better than those there and he doesn’t feel particularly inclined to explain why he hasn’t registered them yet at the shop after all this time.
He lives right next to a cliff, overlooking the ocean. It’s a beautiful view, but he can’t stand to view it. The sheer height is tantalising, the ocean breeze makes his heart ache, and he envies the sea birds that soar through the air at ease. He can hear them squawk even after he closes the door. Standing in the doorway, he surveys the room, before putting the food he bought away. The other bag he’s carrying clanks as he moves. He draws the curtain – he doesn’t have many neighbours, most living closer to the centre of town, but he’s smart enough to be paranoid. He takes off one of his floorboards with a screwdriver, pours the bag’s contents inside, and then puts the floorboard back. When he tries to sleep that night, it’s hard not to picture the child from the market.
He’s working on something in secret. He spends his days working at the shop and his nights working at home. Collecting enough scraps of metal to make it had been an arduous task, but it would pay off in the end. As the weeks go by, the space under his eyes begins to darken and time doesn’t feel quite real. Reality is starting to haze, but still, he presses on.
He’s a solid way through his project now. Taking the metal scraps out of the floorboards had been easy enough, but August is beginning to face the problem of his work being too big to fit back under it. The further through he gets, the more dangerous it becomes to continue.
He’s stupid, and not paying attention when someone knocks on the door. He panics. His heart jumps into his throat. Hiding it now would be far too loud, but he can’t risk them seeing. He’s well aware of the punishments that would await him. Hurriedly, he attempts to cover it with a sheet, but the door swings open and in the doorway stands Mina.
She’s a tall woman with bulky muscles, which August can only assume are from working as a lumberjack. They had crossed paths when August had needed wood to build his house, and while they’re friendly, he doesn’t know how willing she’d be to cover for him from the soldiers, especially as one of the few people they trust to leave the village with an escort for her job.
August is sweating profusely. He’s in front of his project, a poor attempt to conceal it. He thinks he might cry – all this work he’d been putting in for months, all that time spent ensuring no one would find out, all to be thrown away in a single moment of carelessness. Mina’s eyes trail over the sheet, so obvious in shape, and August can’t read her face.
“Is that what I think it is?” Mina asks, impossibly still. August only looks away. She pauses for a moment. “Will it work?”
August swallows. “I believe so.”
“Believing and knowing are two different things.”
“I know they’ll work.”
Mina stares at the sheet some more, and then digs into her pocket to produce a piece of paper. She unfolds it and hands it to August. It’s a list – more work he’s been assigned to do. His jaw sets as he reads. It’s going to push back his own work by a bit. He looks back up at Mina, who is once again staring at the sheet.
“I overheard Aster,” she says, “He’s making the guards do a surprise inspection of everyone’s house again tomorrow. Early in the morning.”
A warning. “I see,” August nods. He doesn’t thank her. She makes to leave, but stops in the doorway, fingers resting on the handle and not turning around.
“Be careful,” she says, before closing the door behind her.
The inspection comes, and with Mina’s warning, August passes with flying colours. They don’t seem to notice, or care, he’s fixed the hole in the ceiling with wood attached to hidden hinges and a carefully disguised latch. He’s sure Mina knows she likely saved his life. He’s sure she cannot do it again.
Time goes on and he never leaves his work out again, always stowing it in the compartment in the roof when finished for the day. Spontaneous inspections become more regular – August fears that they may suspect something is up. He even begins returning home after work with furniture slightly out of place, and things not where he left them. The floorboard that he used to hide his scraps in hasn’t been screwed back into place properly one day. But he presses on; he’s too close to give up now.
And then, on a regular day like any other, he is finished. Months of hard work in secret finally coming to a close because he is finished. He laughs out loud, short but full of joy. They were ready. Carefully, he puts them on and relishes in the feeling for a moment. It’s not the first time he’s worn them, but it’s the best.
When he steps out of his house, he unfurls his wings. A stunning display of silver and bronze extends further than August’s arms could reach. The metal feathers creak and groan but he’s sure they will get the job done. He’s worked too hard for them not to. His hands are calloused and bleeding a little. He can’t bring himself to care. Pieces of cans, discarded jewellery and old thin armour plates glint in the sunlight and it’s the most beautiful thing August has ever seen in his life.
But he can’t look for long. He hears a shout, and when he turns towards it, he sees soldiers approaching, weapons drawn. Weapons he had made. He begins to race towards the cliffside – they’re far enough away that if he runs, he may be able to make it. As he sprints, desperate, he thinks of Mina. He thinks of the child from the market. One day, he makes a promise to himself, he’ll come back for everyone. One day.
The soldiers are steadily approaching and August runs faster than he ever has before. His new wings are heavy but so is the armour that the soldiers are wearing. He had made sure of that.
The wings are fighting against the air and he has a lump in his throat until he makes it to the cliffside – he leans forward, he leaps. The soldiers stand panting on the edge of the cliff, only just out of reach.
The wings are nowhere near as manoeuvrable as his old ones, but still he flies – no, he soars. It feels like a dream, but the wind stings his eyes as he glides, and in that moment, he knows that it must be real.