You have decided to enter a short story competition in an English-language magazine. The competition rules say that your story should be written in full accordance with the following review:

It is an exciting story from the life of a young boy, who, all of a sudden, found an old photo, which changed his life. The author describes the event in detail. He remembers the day when it all happened. The story starts with a trivial phrase: “I usually go to school through the park…” The phrase promises nothing but a dull narration about the everyday life of a schoolboy. Do not be misled. Actually, it is only the first half of a longer sentence. The quiet beginning quickly develops into a dramatic investigation.

The author rolls up his sleeves and sets out on an amazing race after the person in the photo. Why does he feel that he has to find this person? Read the story! You will get the answer.

The story is short and full of direct speech, which makes it more dynamic. Although it looks like a detective story at first sight, it turns out to be a story about different generations. As for the title of the story, it should be taken as a piece of irony, since in the case of the author a bit of luck went together with a lot of effort.

Write 250–500 words


Тексты представлены участниками олимпиады в авторском оформлении.


I usually go to school through the park, across the deserted alleys, but this morning I was not on my own. I could feel someone following me. I could hear him shuffle and hack. I cautiously turned around and spotted a stocky man, probably in his 40s, with a huge messy beard and a lock of greasy hair, that he was trying to hide under a orange kerchief. Frightened to death, I wanted to escape, but I couldn’t. The fright transfixed me, there was nothing I could do, but to watch him rip off my bag and dissolve in the bushes. The only thing he left was a blackened silver medallion, lying on the ground.

Dismayed by the loss of my bag I returned back home. My mom was cooking some fries, wearing a yellow 50s-style dress, which could not match her greyish hair and her green eyes, always expressing dissatisfaction. She took an intent look at me. “Where’s your bag?” she asked. After a slight hesitation I placed the medallion on the table. “That’s all I have,” I said. Mom took a closer look at it. On the obverse there was a photo of four - a couple and two little boys. “Whom did you get this from?” she questioned me. “Those are your grandparents, and the two boys are your father and his brother Chris”.

I could not believe my ears. How could that stranger relate to me and how could he get the family jewel? Of course, I knew the story of uncle Chris, the one who was believed to drown a long time ago, but I could barely imagine him being alive. I wanted my mom to believe me, listen to my story, back me up, but instead she punished me for losing my bag. “Why do parents always distrust their children? Why does she never support me?” I kept thinking all night. From that very moment I was ought to find uncle Chris, or whoever that was.
The next morning proceeded as all the previous ones: I started my journey to the school. Walking through the same valley I saw him. He was sitting on a bench, in the same orange bandana, staring right at me. This time I was not afraid. Now I definitely knew who he was.

“Hi Chris,” I said. No answer followed. “I know who you are!” “So do I,” he whispered. “You are the little son of James, of the one who made my life nightmarish. The blue-eyed boy, the one who kept overshadowing me through all of my life, the one adored by our parents. The luck has always been on his side. Our parents, they just took me for granted and left me no option but to escape.”

“Why couldn’t you stay, make a point of becoming successful?” I murmured. “Perhaps, you are too young to understand.” He stood up and made his way through the park, leaving me on the bench with the silver medallion in my hands.



I usually go to school through the park and while walking through it, I always gaze around and take in the fantastic scenery of blooming flowers, green trees, and fluffy bushes. That life-changing day I remember vividly... I was casually strolling along my usual "green path" to school when suddenly I noticed a photo on one of the benches. I got closer to it and grabbed the photo. I stood in disbelief... It was a portrait of my long-lost father and an unknown man beside him.

For several years I had been trying to find out the cause of my father’s sudden disappearance. However, there had been virtually no information that could have helped me. So when I saw the photo, I realized that it could help me with my search. “Maybe this guy in the picture knows something about my dad,” I muttered under my breath still recovering from the shock of a sudden discovery. I ran back home and started looking for old photo albums. An hour later I found myself standing in the corner of the attic, studying two identical pictures, one of which I had found in a secret pocket of an album. There was nothing in the back of both of these photos, so I had no idea what to do with them and how they could help me. “Usually, people write their names or dates on photos, but I don’t see anything like this here… That’s right! I don’t see it because the ink is invisible!” I ran down the stairs and took a special lamp for reading “spy ink”. I switched it on and immediately saw something written on the pictures. It was a name and a number, which looked like an archive ID code.

I was determined to find the information about the name and code and rushed to the local archive, where the government documents were stored. Obviously, the general public wasn’t allowed inside, but nothing could stop me from finding the truth, so I sneaked in and made for the shelves. Finally, the right documents were in my hands. There I found the information about secret agents and one of them had exactly the same name as the man in the photo. Luckily, his address was also there.

Half an hour later I was standing in front of the huge block of flats. I hesitated for a moment, but immediately composed myself and continued my “journey”. I rang the bell and nervously waited for someone to open the door. “Hello, Harry, finally you are here, I’m so happy to see you!” exclaimed the man from the photo. “Do you know me?” “Of course I know, your dad has told me so much about you!” he replied with a broad smile. “What? Do you know my dad?” I cried not able to hold my emotions back. “Come in sweetie, I will tell you everything,” the man said and we walked into his apartment. (500 слов)

It turned out that my dad was a secret agent and had been sent abroad to serve our country. Unfortunately, due to the rules, he couldn’t keep in touch with us, his beloved family. However, he had decided to break the rules as he really missed me and asked his former colleague to contact me. It was really a life-changing day, the day when I finally found my father. I was so happy, that I could never forget that day.



I usually go to school through the park, but not on the day I stumbled upon that newspaper scrap which was dated December,1989. Luckily, that day park was closed for maintenance and I took the road my mother always takes when she goes to buy groceries.

That day I found a yellow picture as someone dropped it. There was something mysterious in the picture so I was engaged. Focused, I was sitting on a bench studying the photo when Mum came up to me, ‘Daniel, how come you are not at school yet? You’re late; make sure you are at school by the time the second lesson starts.’ I sighed.  ‘Give the picture to me, please,’ she didn’t tell me who was in the photo. ‘Who is in it? Why do I seem to know him?’ ‘We’ll talk about it after your school, Danny.’

No sooner had the school finished than I ran home. ‘It’s … it’s … your father,’ my mother was sniveling, ‘he had been shot dead during the Falklands War in 1982.’ I said nothing but my head was full of plans of how I could find him.

Unsurprisingly, I had been skipping school the following week, yet what week it was, you can’t imagine! I went to the local police department with that picture, told them where I found it and why I needed to know how that newspaper scrap ended up there 9 years since. I had the cameras footage for the last week and I went to the police department every day to watch it until I found the man who had dropped it!

That grey man was in his fifties and he carried a walking stick with him. Strangely, on the day he dropped that scrap, he pretended he did it unintentionally, as though he didn’t see it. ‘He took a longer way to his home on that day, trying to hide himself. But why? is he my Dad?’ I constantly asked myself.

Logically, the only thing I knew was that he didn’t want to be seen. The following day I was hiding in the bushes by the apartment block he lived in. I knew he would be home from work by 8 p.m. Finally, I saw him coming, ‘Ha, gotcha, Dad, you have nowhere to run!’ He first smiled happily but then gloomily asked, ‘Who are you?’ ‘I’m your son, can’t you see?’ ‘Sure?’ ‘Yes, sure!’ ‘Okay, son, I’m sorry,’ he said. He surrendered as a man who had some military past, ‘but I’m a man of my word. I told your Mum I wouldn’t return unless I become a general and I’m still a colonel.’ ‘She thinks you’re dead! Look, I haven’t kept my word that I will go to school this week, you haven’t kept your word… Let’s go and ask if we can take our words back!’

We did take those back! For Dad it was harder because he was of a different generation, but he still did it, with my help. I couldn’t believe I could help a grown-up with something. Mum was crying all day long…



I usually go to school through the park, wandering around different paths, admiring a colorful infusion of exquisite flowers, impervious bushes and mighty trees, which always astound me by their enormous size. But one day this usual walk turned my world upside down.

It happened on a cold winter day, right before Christmas. I was stomping back from school after another awful day, which ended in an argument between me and my best friend. I was so furious that I approached one of the bushes and punched it with all I might! Suddenly, I felt something soft touching my hand. I dived my hand deeper until I reached a flat object stuck between twigs. I dragged it up and saw an old photo of two people standing shoulder to shoulder, smiling at me. One of them caught me completely off guard.

“He disappeared right after you were born,” my father always told me when I asked about my grandpa, James. Every year on my birthday my big family brought together. Everyone, except him. He was like a missing piece in a puzzle, making it dull and gloomy. But now he was standing right before my eyes, as if all those years he was there.
At last, I pulled myself up and started to observe another person. He seemed to be much younger than my grandpa, approximately in his mid-thirties. Suddenly, as I was examining his suit, I saw an emblem engraved on the jacket. It looked familiar. Then a bright idea struck me, “It's the coat of arms of Eton College! This person might be a teacher! If I find him, he can help me to find James!”

And, full of spirits, I set out to the nearest railway station and took the first train to Windsor. It was nearly evening when I got off, but I didn’t lose time and took a bus to Eton College. But when I arrived, I was deeply disappointed: the gate was closed. However, my determination was unshakable, so I braced myself up and climbed over the fence, rushed to the nearest door and pushed it open. Inside I saw a little boy sitting on a small chair. He noticed me and yelled, “Who are you? What do you want?” “I just want to see this person,” I replied calmly and showed him the photo. “It’s our headmaster. Come with me, I’ll show you the way”. And off we went, striding through authentic corridors of the ancient school.

When we reached the door, the boy turned back and strolled away. Without hesitation, I knocked and went in. In front of me, sitting in front of an old wooden desk, was a figure of a stooped man. “What do you want, my dear friend?” he said quietly. I put the photo in front of him and feverishly explained everything, he listened carefully and then signed, “James, my dear James…Nothing could split us, not even our age gap, but then he was sent on a secret mission as a chemist and I haven’t heard of him since”.

For 3 years to come I desperately kept searching, determined to find my relative. Alas, the mystery remained unsolved. I trawled through different laboratories until one day I realised it was not worth the effort. Unfortunately, I didn’t succeed but I always kept the photo of grandpa in my pocket, determined to keep him in my memory.