A painting of a woman, possibly an usherette, standing off to the side in a cinema screening room/

Edward Hopper Winners Outsize

Posted by Speakeasy News > Wednesday 26 April 2023 > Pedagogy

We received thousands and thousands of fabulous entries to our Edward Hopper creative-writing contest. There were a few that were much longer than our suggested word count but that we couldn't resist including.

And the winners are, in no particular order:

Angèle and Imane from Mme Proust’s class, Lycée Edouard Branly, Châtellerault
Pauline from Mme Dagois’s class, Lycée M. Berthelot, St Maur
Anaëlle from Mme Dias’s class, Lycée Jean-Baptiste Corot, Douai
Noemi B. from Miss Pham’s class, Lycée Stendhal, Milan
Tamara from Mrs Marguerite’s class, Lycée Roland Garros, Le Tampon, La Réunion

Scroll down to discover their amazing texts!

Angèle and Imane from Mme Proust’s class, Lycée Edouard Branly, Châtellerault

Rooms for Tourists

The Green House

“Help! Help!”

“Mom, Louis is bothering me!” she shouted.

“Charlotte c’mon I was just kidding,” I replied.

It was the holidays and we were ready to spend an amazing weekend together in Grandma and Grandpa's huge house that cousin Charlotte and I used to call "The Green House".

It was a windy day, the windows were rattling. Grandpa was sitting on the sofa reading the newspaper. He had been acting strange for a few days. I hoped he wasn't ill because he was getting very old.

It was late afternoon so we had some time before dinner. Charlotte and I decided to play hide and seek.

“Charlotte you count and I hide!” I said.

“Fine, 1-2-3…”

She knew every nook of The Green House, so I had to find an original hiding place.

Suddenly I had a brilliant idea -THE ATTIC!

I knew very well that Grandpa had warned us that it was dangerous but it seemed to be an ideal place to hide.

Quickly I took the ladder and opened the trap door with a creak. I hoped Charlotte hadn't heard anything. The place was too dusty and dark despite the moonlight streaming in from the open window. The cracked ceiling allowed draughts to enter, producing whistling noises.

On the wall was a huge white sheet, spotted with brown. It was covering something… something big. I tore off the sheet, curious, and faced a gigantic and strangely clean mirror, but there was nothing special about it besides that.

I had never seen it before, it must have been one of grandpa's finds at the flea market.

It was raining cats and dogs outside and the window wasn't even closed. I was about to close it and then, with my eyes riveted to the mirror, I concentrated on my reflection as if I were hypnotized.

All of a sudden there was a flash of light and my reflection smiled. I could see that it was me but it wasn't really me. The thunder struck a second time, but this time I was no longer in my place, I was INSIDE the mirror.

“49-50-I’m coming!” Charlotte yelled.

What had just happened to me? I saw the monster hiding and when my cousin found him they laughed together.

“Children! Dinner is ready!” declared Aunt Sophie.

And he went to sit at the table with them. But what about me? Didn't they notice that I was gone? He had taken my place, my family, everything.

In the darkness I heard crying. I went towards the sounds and found…


“Oh! Louis? I missed you, in fact I missed you all. He struggled to say.

He had bruises all over his body and looked really tired, his dark circles were huge.

“Grandpa, how long have you been here?” I asked.

“It has been almost a month, son.”

To be continued…

A young woman in a dress with a full skirt, sitting on a bed with her back to us. Edward Hopper, New York Interior, c. 1921.
Edward Hopper, New York Interior, c. 1921.

Pauline from Mme Dagois’s class, Lycée M. Berthelot, St Maur

New York Interior, 1921

Dear diary,

As the clock on my right tells me, it is January 10th, 1926. Today, I woke up not knowing where I was. I saw you there, lying on the nightstand. I opened you up and saw a name on the first page: “Viola Whitehood”, accompanied by an annotation saying, “It’s you and you’re 23.” I comprehend that you were mine. I started to read some of your pages and understood that, each day, I write my thoughts here. So I decided to do the same today. So, here I am. Somehow, I’m asking myself what could I have been writing in all those pages. It is not like I can remember a single thing about my life.

After searching for a bit inside you, I discovered that I have this new disease called “Alzheimer” that makes people forget things progressively. Lovely. Everything makes sense now. Thus, I suppose that, that is my bedroom, this is my clock and over there must be a portrait of one of my family members. Great.

Now that I made a point on everything that I found about me until now, I can ask myself other questions: Who am I? Who is my family? Do I have a family? Where is my family? Why is there no one here? Do I live alone? Do I have a lover? If I do, why isn’t he here and what does he do for a living? What do I do for a living? Do I have children? If I do, where are they? Are they with their father? Do They prefer their father over me? Is it because of my disease? Do they hate me because I don’t recall them? Is there someone who loves me? Is that why there is no one here? Is that why I woke up sad earlier and still am? Is my life sad? Why am I sad? Do I live sadly? Why do I simply live?

Why am I still living when I can’t remember anything about my life and that no one loves me and is here when I need them?

You know that Diary, don’t you? You know the answers to all of these questions, don’t you? You could answer all of these questions if I read your pages more diligently, could you? Do you think that I should live like this?

You know what, all of this thinking and questioning tired me. I can’t continue like this for today. I will see what I want to do with my life tomorrow after a good night of sleep. As they say, sleep is the best medicine. But I think I forgot something…

Anaëlle from Mme Dias’s class, Lycée Jean-Baptiste Corot, Douai

Nighthawks, 1942

If you were to cross a certain Manhattan neighbourhood, you probably wouldn’t notice the place. Even less if you’re walking by it during the day. But if you were to walk through the empty streets at night, maybe you would catch a flicker of light from the corner of your eye. No one can ever fully notice it, but there’s a café there. No one has ever seen it lit up at any other moment than night. No one has ever seen anyone come in — or come out. And, really, how could anyone? After all, there’s no visible door.

Some people do notice it. No one knows why. Maybe you must be in a certain state of mind to be able to see it. And of all the witness statements collected, something seems to be the same for everyone, strangely enough; always the same three customers sitting there, and always the same bartender. A few rumours have started to spread around. One of the most common theories is that this is a place where lost souls either wait for some kind of judgement or are bound to linger there — for eternity, maybe? Either way, the same four people have always been seen there, the same couple seemingly in a cold relationship, the same bartender trying to chat with them and the same lone man who, no matter where you’re placed, gives you no opportunity to ever see his face. The latter is one of the main reasons the rumours started to turn into ghost stories. Someone reported having seen the café and, while turning at the angle of the street, still couldn’t see this anonymous man’s face. This report was mainly made possible because of one particular occuring that drew attention; a man was arrested for troubling the neighbourhood late at night, he was reportedly screaming about a faceless man.

There are no records of the place being here. There are also no records of the place not being here. It gets talked about, then forgotten. There are more rumours than known facts. But facts are hard to come by when every memory about the place seems to be wiped clean after only a few days. Some get interested in the history of the place, but drop it soon enough as nothing is to be studied or found.

And, after all, maybe this is the purpose of this anonymous café. To be forgotten and left alone. Maybe this is what the customers need. To be left alone.

If you were to cross a certain Manhattan neighbourhood, late at night, and searching for a place to rest, if you were in need of some relief from all the complicated affairs of this world, maybe you would see, from the corner of your eye, one building still alight. One building still open. But if you choose to cross that one way door, now obvious in the centre of the wall, be sure that nothing is tying you back to your old life. Your chosen retirement will not be easy to leave. But if that is what you need, then open the door. You would know, entering this café, that when you turn around, there will be no more door. Only the expense of glass to see through. And then, you just have to take a seat. Maybe entertain the bartender’s chatty mood. Get a drink and lay back, because even if a new silhouette joins the ones inside, no one will be able to hold you accountable, for no one will be able to remember you. To certain people, this could be hell. And to others, this could be heaven.

Noemi B. from Miss Pham’s class, Lycée Stendhal, Milan

Office at Night, 1940

“Honey? Don’t you think that they will notice?” I asked, worried. “Be quiet! They will hear us.” I looked at my husband’s stressed expression. He was sweaty and was shaking very hard. We both shivered as we heard any type of noise: the swoosh of the wind, a branch hitting the window and even our own breaths.

Aleksander was reading documents as fast as possible, but unfortunately not fast enough, not for this mission. The silence was oppressive and I couldn’t think straight. If we failed, things would have gotten very bad for the both of us. Suddenly, we heard a noise coming from the corridor. We froze and held our breath. Was it the police, did they find us? Or maybe Connor snitched on us! I’ve always known he wasn’t loyal to the cause. Sean should have banned him a long time ago. Now that they found us we surely couldn’t find the bank’s secret codes anymore.

Five long minutes passed but we didn’t hear anything, so Aleksander looked me dead in the eyes and he whispered, “Listen to me Helena. Clean everything, then run as fast and as far as you can, get out of here and don’t wait for me.” Now that he was under pressure, his Russian accent was even more noticeable. It was the most terrifying moment of my entire life. Still, I followed his order. I picked all of the papers from the desk and put them in the drawer. I was ready to go but we heard a second and a third sound. I almost fainted. The sound was very similar to a gunshot. A guy was screaming, “POLICE!”

I wanted to cry, but I was a perfectly trained spy, I shouldn’t worry about some stupid cops.

So I held my tears and kept ordering the shelves and the drawers. As I finished, my husband pointed to the window and indicated to jump out of it. I looked at him with surprise, certain that he was going crazy. We were at the fourth floor. If we jumped out of the window, we would die!

“Trust me” he said, begging me to jump. I heard another gunshot. I made my decision. I walked up to the window and put my left foot on the corner of the window. I took a deep breath. I would die either way, jumping out of this window or in jail, so I was ready to jump when all of a sudden, the police burst into the room. I fell off the window, hitting my head on the table. My head span and I knew I was doomed. But Aleksander took the gun and shot two officers to the ground. What if we could actually make it out of the building?

I started to run away, ignoring the pain on the back of my head and I dodged the remaining police officers. Aleksander followed me out of the room. We ran as fast as we could and we finally made it out of the building. A car was waiting for us, it was Connor’s car. As soon as we got in the car, he let out, “Congratulations, you’ve made it!” I glanced into Aleksander's eyes and we both smiled.

Tamara from Mrs Marguerite’s class, Lycée Roland Garros, Le Tampon, La Réunion

New York Movie, 1939

He was dead.

He was dead, and now it was time.

Those were the thoughts plaguing her as she leaned against the carpeted wall a few feet away from the screening room, recalling the events of the last 24 hours.

At first, it had been nothing but a feeling in her gut when she woke up that morning that something was about to happen. Then, it had been this nagging impression of someone breathing down her neck all morning as she had been running a few errands. But then it had turned into catching a suspicious looking man staring at her for a little too long while she had been having lunch in a small Chinese restaurant close to her apartment. She had even considered going up to him and demanding to know what was his problem was. She hadn’t done it though. Not out of fear, she could have knocked him out in seconds, but out of respect for the owners of the restaurant, who had probably paid good money for the mahogany chairs she had wanted to slam into his head. However, what had made her connect the dots had been the 5 men following her from her house all the way to the movie theater, where they had sat at a respectful distance from her but still close enough to keep an eye on her. That was when she had decided to slip away to the alcove adjoining the room to wait for them to catch up to her.

She knew she was currently living the last hours of her life as an anonymous woman, because as soon as they found her again, she was going back to the life she was born to lead.

Truthfully speaking, she liked her current life… most of the time. She was now used to living alone but was often out and about in the city. On the other hand, she didn’t particularly enjoy anyone’s company but her own for the simple reason that her upbringing had been unconventional to say the least which had led to a few sticky situations when she first settled in the city at 18 and became aware of how twisted her definition of “normal” was. Most people didn’t understand her or the world she had grown up in and she certainly wasn’t going to explain it to them. Their opinion didn’t matter anyway. They didn’t belong to her world and she had no interest in belonging in theirs. The four years she spent on her own were nothing more than her honoring her mother’s dying wish, God rest her soul. Her mother had requested her to spend a few years living her life before joining the business. She wanted her only daughter to have a chance to live for herself, a luxury she hadn’t been able to afford when she was younger and had decided to give to her child. She would always be grateful for her mother’s love and affection in a place that saw it as a weakness, and it was the only reason why she had accepted to leave her family for a while. And it was finally time to go home.

Her father had trained her her entire life for this. She knew how to shoot, fight hand-to-hand and with knives, learned by heart all the pressure point that could neutralize and/or kill a man within seconds and her senses were sharper than the short blade she currently had strapped to her thigh right above the slit in her navy-blue jumpsuit. She also knew everything she needed to know about her father’s business: his partners, the contracts, the shipments, his enemies. She was more than ready to go back to her childhood home, which was honestly more of a mansion her father built before she was born in a secluded area not too far from the city. The mansion was built on acres of land he had acquired with the idea of making it his home and the center of his empire.

She knew of a lot of important players in New York’s underworld but no one even came close to the influence and the power her family held and she was going to keep it this way for as long she possibly could.

She knew a lot of her future business partners but also her enemies would underestimate her for a myriad of reasons but first and foremost because she was a woman and no woman in over 75 years had ruled the business. Because no one knew of her except her family and the staff who lived with them in the mansion. Because in their eyes she would be nothing but a pawn they needed to marry their son to in order to steal the Marino empire. Because they would think that with a woman in charge, the family would be weakened and open for the taking. She secretly hoped they liked surprises because they had a huge one coming for them.

It was only a matter of seconds before she saw the 5 men who had been following her coming towards her. They were all dressed the same: all black suits, no tie and shiny black leather loafers and a shining Rolex on their wrist.

She stared at the five men she had known almost all her life and hadn’t seen in 4 years.

“Alessandro, Vin, Dante, Nico, Giulian.” She greeted her cousins, her voice low but clear.

“Well hello cousin dearest, it’s been a while.” Nico answered with a smile she wanted to punch off his face.

She did like her cousins but they had a recurrent habit of getting on her nerves.

“The blond suits you.” Vin added, looking at her freshly bleached hair.

“Looks better than it feels.” She replied, running her hand through the dry strands.

She had impulsively bleached her hair a week ago, and while it did look descent, it felt like having hay on her head and she had vowed to herself that she would dye it back to its original color and never touch it again.

“I suppose the creep staring at me this morning was one of your guys.” She remarked, glancing inside the projecting room, where everyone was still focused on the movie, oblivious to what was happening in the alcove.

“Who else would it be, you idiot.” Giulian joked. She turned to him and his eyes softened as he whispered “We’re taking you home.”

“I know.” She responded, pushing off the wall. She knew why she had to go home but she still had to ask. “My father is dead, isn’t he?” She already knew the answer but still braced herself for the confirmation.

“He is, Giana.” Alessandro told her truthfully. “I’m sorry.”

She clenched her fists as she struggled to breathe and attempted to reign in her emotions to think clearly. Was she ready? To take over the Marino empire? Yes, without an ounce of doubt. To live without her father? She didn’t know, but she didn’t let herself think too long about this one. She would have to learn to live without him, just as she had learned to live without her mother all those years ago. She closed her eyes and tucked away those memories before they swallowed her whole.

She opened her eyes after a few seconds and beheld the 5 pairs of eyes gazing at her, giving her time to process the grief. Only she didn’t want time, not right now. Right now she wanted to go home and take over her father’s legacy.

“I’m ready” She announced, determination burning in her blood.

“Then let’s go, we have a business to run.” Dante said simply.

He was right, she had a business to run, an empire to rule, a legacy to keep building and a family to protect.

That night, Giana Marino became Don of the Cosa Nostra.

The king is dead, long live the queen.


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