And the winners are...
First Prize: 'Fifth Grade' by Brianna Snow
Second Prize: 'Geology Of A Girl' by Stephanie Hutton
Third Prize 'As Liquid Is Poured' by Sherry Morris
Highly Commended 'Brave' by Catherine Edmunds
Highly Commended 'Mermaids' by Sally Syson
Highly Commended 'Fireflies In The Backyard' by Kayla Pongrac
Highly Commended 'Fawn' by Sacha Waldron
Highly Commended 'Mango' by Jennifer Harvey
Highly Commended 'The In-Between Hour' by Christina Taylor
Highly Commended 'The Smoking Circle' by Alison Wassell
by Brianna Snow
We learn that there are tubes inside of us with sleeping babies. One day, boys will wake them up. The babies will grow, open our bodies, and fall out. Until then, we’ll bleed—a baby’s death each month. Ms. Miller sits at her desk in the back of the room while the video plays. We turn to her to see if this is true. She’s holding her stomach with both hands. We look down and do the same.
Geology Of A Girl
by Stephanie Hutton
Ella kept one pebble in her pocket and rubbed it down to sand, running the grains through her fingers. Stones sneaked in through holes in her shoes. Her legs turned to rock. She leant against the sisterhood of brick on the playground and watched girls skip together like lambs. A boulder weighed heavy in her stomach. She curled forwards by habit. Her head filled with the detritus of life.
A new girl started school in May with fire in her eyes. She whispered to Ella with aniseed breath ‘lava is liquid rock,’ then took her hand and ran.
As Liquid Is Poured
by Sherry Morris
I visit far-flung friends who possess a dancing bear and a well-stocked vodka cabinet. We sit around the kitchen table in our coats, watching my breath form clouds. ‘At least the shot glasses are chilled,’ my friend says. I’m grateful for their hospitality and anticipate the warmth that begins in my belly and spreads outward. We drink to our health, sing melancholy tunes about lavender fog and eat dark bread. I no longer feel the cold. I will stay here. I won’t be missed there. There, people are replaced like vodka bottles. The bear twirls on hind legs and claps.
by Catherine Edmunds
The man arrives in a car with dark windows. Father, who is brave, stands in the yard while the pigs squeal and run. The man pushes Father’s shoulder. The cockerel struts, the man raises his hand. Father shrinks.
I gather the others and we run down the stinking lane; I tell them Father’s play-acting, he’ll kill the man later. They like that. They’ve seen Father cut a squealer’s throat. I lead them away down to the mill race, into danger, but it’s just water, full of noise. Try to pick it up and it slips through your fingers.
by Sally Syson
The mermaids are much uglier than anyone had anticipated, slimy-haired and scabby with barnacles. They haul themselves up onto the sea wall, stinking like a barrel of prawns, and lie flashing their tits at passers-by. They snatch at the ankles of the small boys who dare to pelt them with chips and cans. Their language is appalling.
On Friday nights, when the promenade glistens with broken glass and the splintered remains of cocktail charms — pretty plastic mermaids in pink and green and blue — they retreat to the shoreline and gather along the water’s edge, hissing in the dark.
Fireflies In The Backyard
by Kayla Pongrac
In the summertime, when these little roving lanterns covet my backyard, slicing their way through the darkness one flight at a time, I step outside and I extend my tongue, snowflake-style, so that I can jar and lid them inside my stomach. How I want to glow, too—how I want to become both the illuminated and the illuminator.
by Sacha Waldron
Taking the fawn had not been her initial intention. She was feeding it saltines from the palm of her hand, stroking his soft head. She liked the way his tongue felt on her skin. She was, she realised, running out of crackers and soon the deer would scamper off. Its run reminded her of a carousel – rising and falling.
She crouched down, opened her backpack and scattered some of the remaining crumbs inside. The fawn followed them. She zipped up her bag quickly. As she walked out of the park she could feel little hooves sticking awkwardly into her spine.
by Jennifer Harvey
Johnny tells me I’m sweeter than mango. He’s standing with his back against the wall, one foot up against the brickwork, like some fifties rebel.
Yeah? You like exotic fruit, Johnny? If I had the guts, I’d say this. Walk on by all sassy, like I owned him. Meet his gaze and wait for a reply.
Your move, Johnny.
But he made his move already. Watched me sat in the canteen, licking mango juice from my fingers.
One finger, two fingers, three fingers, four.
Smiling, ‘cos he knew it was him I was thinking of.
The In-Between Hour
by Christina Taylor
While you sleep I’ll kiss all the boys I shouldn’t kiss and wear dresses that scream ‘You’re not going out in that!’
I’ll learn another language so I can talk about you behind your back. I’ll dye my hair blue then sneak out of the house to release the dogs. We’ll bark at the moon and set off car alarms.
In that hour I’ll skinny dip in the river and count the goose bumps on my arms. I’ll fly round the sun and eat cake for breakfast.
I’ll do all that but I’ll never say I love you.
The Smoking Circle
by Alison Wassell
We lay in a circle on the field every afternoon, our heads together, school bags for pillows. She was the new girl, refusing to light up until we called her Goody Two Shoes. We stared at the clouds.
'What would you do if you only had a week to live?'' someone asked. She answered first.
'I'd write to everyone who’d hurt me. Tell them what I thought of them.'
She was the one who developed a forty a day habit. The letter came sealed with a lipstick kiss. I suppose we all got one. I shredded mine without reading it.