2nd Prize Winner - Grades 4-8
Judges’ comments: A short and satisfying time slip, with a unique and clever concept. We were transported to the site of the beloved Unley Museum where we were impressed by the research and historic detail included in their story.
Time Slip to Unley 1905
by K. Faith
I hear footsteps approaching so I squeeze my eyes together, willing them to remain closed.
“Time to wake up Rebecca!” my mum chirps as she opens the curtains, filling my bedroom with unwanted light.
I throw my blankets over my head to block out the world, but not before grabbing my phone.
“Get dressed, please,” Mum commands as she tosses my school uniform on top of me.
I don’t respond because I’m scrolling through Instagram posts when I feel my mum’s glare burning a hole through my veil of blankets.
“Ugh, FINE!” I grumble.
I lazily put on my school uniform and shuffle to the mirror to assess my appearance. “Selfie time!” I squeal.
I search for a new filter, and locate one called Time Slip. It claims to transport you back in time and even allows you to choose a background image from a local historical site.
“Cool, so it makes old-timey photos,” I say to myself. I click the filter and scroll through the background options, choosing one I recognise, the Unley Museum.
I angle my face and purse out my lips like always, but when I snap the photo something unexpected happens. A flash of light temporarily blinds me and my familiar surroundings fade. Before I know it, I am no longer in my room, but somewhere, someTIME, else entirely.
I blink my eyes and attempt to locate my phone but I’m distracted by the sensation of unfamiliar clothing on my body. Replacing my sleek school uniform are layers of heavy fabric and ruffles. I discover not only have my surroundings changed, but my outfit has changed as well. I’m wearing a long-sleeved dress, one that looks and feels ancient to me. I start to panic, unable to appreciate that the Time Slip filter has literally transported me back in time.
My frantic thoughts are interrupted by the “clip-clop” of hooves as a horse-drawn cart approaches me at a steady pace. The driver has a bushy moustache and is sporting a dark uniform with 2 columns of buttons and a peculiar rounded conical helmet. My body and mind are frozen in confusion as he pulls alongside me.
The man’s tall leather boots “thump” as he dismounts onto the path to greet me. “G’morning, my name is Edmund, leader of the Fire Brigade. This is Bluey and Turps,” he explains while motioning to the horses.
I swivel my head to scrutinise my new surroundings. “Where am I?” I enquire.
“This is the Unley Fire Station,” Edmund replies. “Are you lost?”
“This isn’t the Unley Museum?” I wearily respond, my head spinning.
“No, this building has housed the Fire Brigade since it was built in 1898. Please come in and settle yourself,” Edmund graciously offers.
I enter the pillow-faced sandstone building and am greeted by an additional three firemen dressed exactly like Edmund. It’s strange to recognise parts of this building, considering I am visiting it over 115 years in the past.
After a short tour, Edmund decides to take me up to the watchtower, an area I’ve never seen since it isn’t part of the modern Unley Museum I know. He hopes I will find my bearings by surveying the area from above.
We emerge at the top of the tower and I am breathless, not from the ascent, but from of the view. Missing are the busy SUV-packed roads and rushed people on their phones I identify with. Instead, my eyes widen as I scan the street featuring horse-drawn carts and leisurely people dressed in long dresses, fine suits and fancy hats. The city is unusually more formal looking than modern times and is uniquely beautiful.
“Can you locate your place of employment from here?” Edmund asks me.
“Employment?! I’m only 14!” I reply in astonishment.
“Precisely, most young people your age are employed,” he replies, then furrows his brow when he notices the shock and bewilderment on my face. “Perhaps a bit of nourishment will help you remember. Accompany me and I will purchase you a cake while I post today’s letters.”
We depart the tower and board the Fire Brigade’s watercart so Bluey and Turps can pull us to our destination. My mind, still in 2021, assumed we’d visit a vast shopping centre. But being 1905, the Bakehouse is our intended location, which Edmund explains is a bakery, shop and post office since 1865.
My senses are in overload as I hear clinking of glass milk bottles, clip-clopping of horse hooves and a distant man bellowing “rabbit-o!” as we make our way to the Bakehouse. Surprisingly it is another building I’ve seen before.
“G’morning! I wish to post these letters and purchase a cake for my companion,” Edmund addresses the shopkeeper as we enter the glorious smelling bluestone store.
“Certainly!” The bearded man responds as he ushers Edmund towards the counter and points me in the direction of the baked goods.
I am in awe of the selection of items, none of which are factory mass-produced. Instead, they are all lovingly handmade and still warm from the oven located in the shop.
Adjacent to a particularly delicious looking cake I’m shocked to find my phone with the Time Slip filter open, although now it claims to transport you back to the future.
As comforted as I am knowing I can return to 2021, I also find myself disappointed that I’m unable to explore more of Unley in 1905. Although it’s been unnerving being out of my time period, and therefore out of my comfort zone, it has also been fascinating experiencing life in the past. I know it’s my time to depart though, evidenced by my diminishing phone battery. I thank Edmund for his hospitality and prepare myself for the “time slip” home.
Using the filter, I locate my bedroom from the optional backgrounds, snap a selfie, and sigh in relief as I find myself back in my room, wearing my school uniform, circa 2021.
What an amazing adventure!