Drip! Drip! Drip! The icy rain rolled off my rosy red nose and on to the crumpled paper that laid in front of me.
Tears sprung from my eyes and the words from my darling Bessie’s letter stung as they trailed through my mind.
Thoughts of home stabbed my aching heart as I read the words ‘I love you’ over and over again.
All I wanted was to be home. I missed the simple life I used to have, waking up every morning, prepared for the day ahead.
This wasn’t the case any more.
‘Frank! Frank! Action stations! Now! They’re closing in on us! You seem to be forgetting we are at war here!’
I knew my friends were shouting. I knew they needed help. I knew we were at war. My head was telling me no; my heart was telling me yes. Bessie’s words influenced my every move. Would she ever forgive me if I died here? Would she still love me?
Slowly, I emerged from my mud cavern and escaped the rat-infested trenches to join the troops beside me. I would survive.
Quickly, we flew across the battlefield like a flock of birds in the sky and dodged the bullets searching for us. Not a single one hit me. Maybe it was all going to be okay, maybe it wasn’t the end after all.
The cries of helpless men droned endlessly around me as I bounded across the blood-stained fields. It was going well as far as I was concerned.
Slowly, I crept around dead bodies splayed uncomfortably on the floor and hid behind another of my fallen men.This was a mistake .
Suddenly from all directions bombs started to fall around me, on the hunt for an Englishman’s blood. Was this really the end?
Luckily, through the smoke and barbed wire, I could see the safety of a trench ahead. I decided to run for it…
After a long night, I realised the sound of angry gunfire had finally ceased. I was alive! I had survived!
In the distance I could hear muffled voices –yet they were not the usual strained cries of the battlefield; not the angry voices of men at war.
Intrigued, I took a risky glance over my shoulder to see what was going on.
In doing so I noticed that I was no longer in my usual trench and none of my comrades were with me.
Feeling startled I sat bolt upright and tried to come to terms with what on earth was going on. Maybe the war had ended?
Slowly I crept out of my ditch and peered over the edge of the muddy trench. I could see a German boy standing timidly on the glistening grass of no man’s land, surrendering. I was in shock.
Could this man really be giving in to England? I wasn’t so sure.
From the other side of the vast field separating the two countries at war, the faint sound of singing echoed across the grass towards the British trenches. Finally, it hit me that it was that time of year – it was Christmas.
I shot out of the trench and joined all of my friends as they walked across the field, prepared for any incoming bombs – after all, this could all just be a trick…
Before I knew it, a ball rolled around the frost-covered grass and was kicked in every direction, just like a normal football match. I felt at home again.
The one thing that was not so perfect was that the ball was never kicked my way; never passed to me,which made me doubt my skills – I clearly wasn’t good enough for this game.
I began shouting frantically, trying to catch their attention but it wasn’t working. They were ignoring me.
Through the crowds, I could see a lone figure; he appeared to be watching me.
Confused I spun around, ready for whatever this person wanted from me.
To my surprise, a ghostly pale figure stared solemnly back at me, his ripped trench coat splattered in blood, his tousled hair sticking up in odd tufts.
Obviously I showed fear, as he stopped staring and beckoned me over in his direction, showing pity towards me as I walked.
‘You can’t play with them mate, your game’s over here,’ he said, and gave my shoulder an odd sort of punch; being playful but not realising how much it hurt.
Next he led me across the grass towards another field, fenced off with barbed wire that glinted in the winter light; our very own sort of tinsel.
As we walked, the faint outline of pale faces watched me as I followed this odd boy across the white-tipped grass of no man’s land.
Additionally, as we got closer more expressionless people peered at me, making me feel more and more uncomfortable every time I took a step.
They all looked the same as him; dark, destitute and dangerous.
I’m glad I wasn’t like them.
Meanwhile, back in the trenches another of the sergeants surveyed the damage done by a vicious bomb.
In his hand he held a letter; a letter that was clearly written in a woman’s handwriting; a letter that was addressed to someone called Frank.
Under his breath, the sergeant muttered: ‘He won’t be needing this any more,’ before casting the letter down on the mound of rubble, made by another bomb; another bomb that took another person’s life.
Gracie Brown was shocked but pleased when she found out her ghost story would appear in The News.
She said: ‘I can’t wait to see that, it feels really exciting.
‘Not many people read my stories, apart from my friends and teachers. They think they are good though – that is what they say anyway.
‘They are always very supportive of me.’
The 10-year-old from Gosport was selected from dozens of entries after being put forward by teacher Rose Cain.
She wrote her story in the Year 6 writing club at Alverstoke Junior School where she is a pupil.
Rose said: ‘We only started the group in October and I am so pleased that Gracie has been recognised in the competition.’
Gracie says: ‘It is fun because in class we have to plan everything we write, but in the club I have the freedom to do anything.’
Gracie’s story is inspired by the Christmas Truce during the First World War.
She said: ‘It is quite a big moment of the past and always seemed like an exciting happy moment so you could add a bit of mystery to it.’
When asked why the festive season is so good for ghost stories, Gracie explained: ‘It is because Christmas is supposed to be a happy time of the year, and it is, but it is quite cool that things can sometimes go wrong.’