The winners of our short story competition

    Bird, short story competition

    In April, we asked readers to write an ending for our short story “The song of the cuckoo”. We enjoyed reading your story endings and had a hard time choosing the best entries. Today we are proud to present the three winners, who will receive a copy of “Ms Winslow investigates”. You can read their texts below. We hope you have as much fun as we had!


    Hanna K., Karlsruhe

    “Are you sure you want to do this?” asked Owen’s mum, entering his room. Owen’s summer vacation had just started and he was packing a large duffel bag with clothes and camera equipment. “I always thought you didn’t like travelling much.”
    “That’s true,” Owen replied, looking up from his bag. “But travelling on a boat is different, because you can take your home with you. I’m sure I will be able to take some interesting photos for my website on the trip. And, of course, I won’t be travelling alone.” He blushed.
    “You really seem to like this girl,” his mum said, smiling. “I hope you’ll have a great time together.”
    Two hours later, Owen walked on board the Cuckoo’s Nest with his duffel bag. “Danni? Are you there?” he called.
    Danni came out to greet him. “Hello, Owen. Are you ready for the trip?”
    “Of course I am. Are you really sure this is okay for you?” Owen asked.
    “Well, it might actually be nice to have some company for a change,” Danni answered. “It can get quite lonely on this boat, you know.” She looked at the ground, as if lost in thought. Then she seemed to shake it off and, grinning at Owen, she said: “And you make a pretty good breakfast!”

    Hannelore S., Hamburg

    In the middle of July, on a warm, sunny day, Danni’s mind was made up: this afternoon she would leave the place at the river where she had been staying for a few months.
    Owen was feeling low when he arrived at the vessel and it seemed to him that it was the same with Danni. They sat together again at the table in Danni’s small kitchen and had their breakfast in unusual silence.
    Suddenly they both heard a tune coming from the old oak tree opposite the boat: “Cuckoo! Cuckoo! Cuckoo!” it called.
    “Shush! We have to keep still,” Owen whispered, nudging Danni’s shoulder. Carefully and without making any noise, he reached for his camera — and just in time, because the bird was leaving its hiding place in the thick, green leaves of the tree. Three or four photos were taken when the bird made a soft landing on top of a fence in front of the oak. While Owen was taking one photo after the other, the cuckoo was preening itself. Finally, it spread its wings to fly up and away.
    Owen was over the moon. He now had a lot of pictures of this species, which was tricky to photograph.
    “I’ll upload them to the photo agency as soon as I get home,” he thought. “Some of them might be published somewhere, so I would get royalties. The caption would identify me as the photographer. The other students would no longer tease me about my ‘mind-numbing’ hobbies. Quite the reverse, it would be a big surprise for them! And maybe National Geographic...” These daydreams were interrupted by Danni, who spontaneously gave him a hug and — to his surprise — kissed him. “We saw the cuckoo!,” she cheered. Owen felt a bit confused, he grinned clumsily, but in the end he kissed her softly in return. Neither of them said a word.
    A few hours later, as the morning drifted into the afternoon, Danni started to move on. She leapt up to the stern of her Cuckoo’s Nest and got ready at the tiller.
    “I’ll be back in a couple of months,” she called out, turning on the engine.
    “As will the cuckoo,” Owen replied.

    Roswitha K., Bisingen

    The next day it was raining, so Owen didn’t go on his birdwatching tour. And the day after, Danni’s boat was gone. On the riverbank Owen saw a little coloured box hanging from the tree, and when he opened it, there was a very small nest made of silver threads with a bird in it and a message from Danni saying goodbye and thank you. Owen was really disappointed and sad that he had missed her. The next day he went to the market where Danni used to sell her arts and crafts, but she was not there. A trader from a nearby market stand told him that Danni wanted to follow the river to a lake in the north. After some lonely days, Owen told his parents that in the coming summer holidays he would take his bicycle and some camping equipment and go along the river for further birdwatching. He did not tell them that he had already decided on a destination.