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Why has God for saken me like this? Why? I used to be happy when she was around. Now she is gone. Gone for good.

Sitting on this brown, uncomfortable bench, I can see the misty sight of the Derby River Gardens. I can see the cold and grey river flowing down like tears flowing down from a mournful and grieved soul. I can see the beautiful green duck – that seemed to be having a much better day than me – swim around me like she was my guardian angel. The duck was magnificent, precious and beautiful just like my mum was. Oh, how precious she was.

I remember when I was younger, I used to come here with my mother. We would have a great time. We would feed the ducks. They were such precious animals. The atmosphere of Derby River Gardens used to be different. The scorching sun used to shine down on us from heaven like the sun was only for us two. A gift from God. The sky was so clear that you could see your own reflection like a mirror. There were no grey, dark clouds hanging around me like they’re doing now. It was perfect. Perfect for us two.

Now she is gone. Only the elegant, green duck can keep me company until I meet my mother again.

By Nomagugu Mabandhla, aged 20, studying  GCSE English and Advanced Diploma in Hairdressing at Derby College


As I stare contently out at the calm River Gardens, I feel calm and at peace with the world. I watch the carefree seagulls minding their own business, oblivious to the world below them. The snow is falling heavy and I tuck my hands into my oversized woolly jumper. The calm waters make me feel peaceful and, unknowingly, it was sending me into a trance. I reminisce on the past, and everything I miss. Everyone I miss.  The floor’s icy and I carefully stroll along the River Gardens, cautiously watching my step. I look to the sky, full of thick snow, like a huge blanket was covering me.

The temperature seems to be plummeting, as I still stand here alone, watching the water in content. I felt the snow attacking and tackling my face, making me feel numb. I couldn’t even move my hands out of my pockets and I didn’t really want to. I watched the snow falling gently on to the water, dissolving like it wasn’t even there in the first place.

I noticed a Robin, standing all proud and alone on one of the metal barriers. In a way, I felt as if it was there for me, well, I liked to think it was. The snow was beginning to settle, the River Gardens looked beautiful, almost surreal.

I thought back to the times with my dad, when we would walk around the inner gardens with a hot drink warming up our hands while my whole body was frozen. We would talk about our week and plans for the weekends. It was so simple but I didn’t realise how much it impacted my life, until I no longer had my dad.

I took one last meaningful look. Remembering all of the amazing times I had here, growing up. I wrapped myself into my jumper, trying to stay warm, admiring the beauty of the surreal looking River Gardens, covered in snow. I was surprised when I looked in the distance to see the same robin standing all proud, looking right at me.

By Elizabeth Stenson, aged 18, studying GCSE English and Intermediate Diploma in Beauty Therapy at Derby College


My hands shake as I grip the cold iron bars of the bridge. I’m on the wrong side hanging over the icy cold river below. Tears of loss, sorrow and despair roll down my face and jump into the river. I hear the horrible cry of the blackbirds flying above me. Oh, how I’ve changed. Only 18 months ago I was your average 16 year old; happy, outgoing and enjoying trips to the Intu with my friends, having a good time. But I’ve changed, we all change.

Summer, 18 months ago. Happy. The sun beaming down on me, mum’s well and Dad’s here, happy. My younger siblings playing in the colourful paddling pool, splashing, screaming, happy. That same blackbird watching, not crying, watching me closely. We were so happy and then everything changed. I’ve changed.

I lost everyone. Mum first. Cancer grabbed her and pulled her away from all of us so quickly, I couldn’t pull her back. Dad second. Responsibility took him. He left us alone and then my siblings were gone. See, I’ve changed and I blame it on the look of the blackbird, it’s cursed.

I feel a chill from the water nipping at my nose. My body’s cold, I’m tired. It’s now my turn to leave, be free. I slowly release my fingers from the iron bar. I slowly lean forward, sliding myself off the edge. I’m falling, numb, free, happy.

By Millymay Willows, aged 16, studying GCSE English and Intermediate technical qualification in make-up artistry at Derby College


It was 10th December 2017. As I stand, lonely, I reflect on the bygone in the frosty, snowy, cold weather at the River Gardens. I hear the boat honk for the final time as the frigid breeze runs right through me.

46 years ago in 1971, August 10th. It was so warm that a sip of water would not help to keep me hydrated. My mouth would dry out like a desert causing exhaustion but at the same time the weather was so summery, so pleasant, I was too excited to pay attention.

I remember the first time the boat honked which went off loudly for everyone to scarper to the boat as I stood there proudly ready to proceed.

Years on, I became the leader of the recruitment ship and I achieved my goals. Ahh, the unbelievable exertion of work and effort it consumed, it was phenomenal.

As I stand here today, I glimpse over for the last time. The birds are flying in the blunt dark sky almost a sign that my time is over and it’s a new start to a new chapter.

I feel extremely delighted to attend. It’s such an honour and I feel blissful due to the fantastic and unexpected experience.

I wish I could start over again.

By Melita Kozlovska, aged 19, studying GCSE English and Advanced Diploma in Hairdressing at Derby College

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