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Quoting Stephen L. Talbot ("The flood of careless, unconsidered, cheap words is the enemy of the profound word"), we sometimes take the time in class to practise condensing stories, descriptions and reflective moments to less than a 100 (or even 50!) words.  

Robert Southey said that words are like sunbeams, the more they are condensed, the deeper they burn, whereas Mark Twain contributed that the difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug. 

Herewith, 100 Words or Less by Grade 9 and 10 English First Additional Language learners.


So I sit here on this off-white, broken, wooden chair, taking visual photographs with my mind.  I see the trees dancing with the wind and the raindrops, like meteors, falling from the sky.  All of nature's beauty wrapped up in the blink of an eye.


Impatiently waiting for the flat, square box containing the little piece of heaven we have on earth.  Rich aromas of garlic, bacon and cheese filling the air.  My tummy grumbles with excitement.  I take the first bite: warm juicy pizza.  The flavours dancing on my tongue.  Filling.


The dance

The music begins, my body starts moving gracefully.  Freedom in every turn, elegance in every leap.  Arms reaching high, eyes closed shut.  The cold floor beneath my bare feet, vacant spaces between my spread fingers.  My heart pulsates to the rhuthm as my body glides to the beat.


I feel the numbing rock under my fair skin.  My feet are swaying in crisp air.  I smell the youthful flowers around me.  My hearbeat beats to the melody of the emerging evergreen - in anticipaiton of laughter from the sun.  I feel gold twinkling on my face as the rays warm my forehead and the sight fills my soul with joy.


Karoo rain

The thunder gently awakens my soul, as the rain comes falling down, melting into the dry dust.  It awakens nature, the leaves of the trees coming to life as they dance underneath the fulfilling drops of water.  I feel refreshed, awakened.  Deep inside of me I experience peaceful satisfaction.


There are a lot of posters containing words of wisdom, quotes etc. decorating the walls of my classroom, partly as inspiration, and partly to entertain those who occasionally drift off into their own wonderland.

The wise words sit lonely on the wall.  Word by word unique.  Watching all these girls working.  Waiting for someone to come stand by them and share in their wisdom, wanting to make a difference in lives.


Shivers run through my back as the doorhandle creaks behind  me.  I walk along the garden path, down to the gate.  I can sense the early morning.  I see my breath pushing steam throught the air.  All I hear is myself breathing, in and out.  Then I ask myself, "Where will life take me today?"


Walking to the blocks, excitement, fear, pure passion.  This is it.  The final moment.  All the cheering fades away.  Al the people fade away.  It is just me. Me, the water and the touchpad.  When the first whistle blows, my fear starts picking up.  A short prayer and then the dive towards victory.


The light blue of the sky slowly transforms into a faint shade of red and orange.  As if everything in nature is slowing down.  The sun slowly escaping from our view.  As the sun descends behind the mountain, a shadow falls over town.  A breathtaking moment that is, the sunset...


Galloping.  Freedom, fresh air, no worries at all.  A mountain lifting from your shoulders.  It is what you like, what you want, what you love.  Golden sunlight blinding you as the sun disappears.  It is as if I am flying.  Flying away from everything.


Little Suzie went home with a huge smile after hearing that cats can talk.  She talked the cat's ears off, excitedly expecting a reply every time, but nothing.  Five long days of nagging, the cat let out a loud noise.  Suzie was shocked.  Nobody else was excited about the cat's boring meow.


Little bird

You are junping around with your small, feathery body.  Dark brown with white speckles, as if the sun had kissed your finely layered feathers.  With your beak you pick up all the crumbs you can get hold of.  The slightest sound scares you away, gone in a split second.


I look up at the grey clouds filling the sky above my head.  Not a soul is to be seen, only empty streets.  The sound of the whistling wind fills the silence, and then... drip, drip, drip. The soothing raindrops start falling on my cold, pale skin.


Namibian night sky

I stick my head out.  The warmth of the soft breeze hits me.  My swirling hair caresses my face with tangled waves.  Looking up at the seemingly black sky, realizing it is a galaxy of stars watching our lonely car on the empty road.  My tired eyes amazed at its beauty.


I can see the sun above me, coming closer.  Suddenly I am going down to the side and then the other side, around and around.  I hear screaming behind me.  We are going fast, a strong wing through my face.  The Cobra, Ratanga Junction.


In a dark room.  Looking out of the window, I see the couds drifting by.  I get a prickle of warmth when the sun lights up the room with its last lush of light.  Salty fluids run down my face.  I see him, and all my sadness disappears, like it did sixty-four years ago.


In the quiet corner it hangs every day, walking to its own rhythm.  It has three long, beautiful arms, but no-one seems to notice,  everyone just staring at it once in a while.  It is just there in the corner with its twelve other friends.  Trying to keep up with time.


She is alone again.  She stares at herself in the mirror, wondering why she's so different.  He grip around the blade tightens as she slides it across her smooth wrist.  The expected sting is there again as she watches the crimson liquid drip from her skin.  She closes her eyes as she feels a single tear escape.


One Saturday afternoon, two words: Home alone.  

While texting my friend, I hear it.  My heart goes du-doef, du-doef, du-du-ud-doef.  On my way to the panic button happens.  My whole life flashes right in front of me.

Three words: Not home alone.


This young lady loves playing with words, and this is what resulted after a 30 minute session.

A vast, bleak, barren land.  Desolate, dark and foreboding.  Sad colours bleed from bright to grey.  I witness the austere charm of the underlying architecture of life.  All is stripped to its essentials and ground to a halt like a ghost train along a cadaverous platform filled with haunting nostalgia.

Adding tongue in cheek:

C.S. Lewis

Don't use words too big for the subject. Don't say "infinitely" when you mean "very", otherwise you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.


The moment his fingers touched the piano keys, the rhythm was in harmony with my heartbeat.  His dark, curly hair and deepk, brown eyes complimented the dramatic sounds coming from the piano.  My knees grew numb as he glanced at me and the music filled my soul with beauty.



Tagged in: English Words
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Also a little bit English, but when the first dusty odour of threatening clouds awakens nostalgic Karoo-memories, and it suddenly starts to rain…