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Third prize

Freedom is in the clouds

By Lily-Ella O'Brien
Year 6, Ladies College, Melrose

Dear diary: 'What is it like to feel free?' I ask myself every second of every minute of every hour, of every day. I've never known, but I have always wanted to. The tubes I'm attached to feel like chains. The place I'm in feels like prison. The doctors always said I had an overactive imagination and who knows what that means? I do feel tired a lot you see, so I have some thin blue curtains that the nurse draws around my bed. It's as if I'm under the sea. Do you know that there is a sign in my room that says "p-e-r-m-a-n-e-n-t". Like many things, I don't know what that means either. My nurse is called a specialist in cancer. I did ask her once what cancer is, but she replied: "Sweet child, you have it." I think it means the coolest kid ever. Tonight, they said I was going to the theatre for some life-changing things. I think that play sounds good. I can't wait. Hello diary: It's Amelia's Mum here. We've had some devastating news. Amelia has died in the operating theatre. When she closed her eyes, I said to her: "Good night my little brave ray of sunshine. Be free up in the sky. Let your imagination run wild. Freedom is your friend."

Listen to the story read by Andy Riley

Guernsey Literary Festival · Freedom is in the Clouds

Judge’s comments - Andy Riley

This story is a heart-rending exploration of the themes of death, imprisonment and liberation. There are two very well-drawn characters; Amelia, a free spirit in a sickening body - and her mum, who understands her daughter perfectly. It’s not easy to work an emotional bittersweet ending into something this short, but this writer has.
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