Write Stuff Guernsey Literary Festival

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Second prize


By Ilan Godet
Year 10+, Elizabeth College

I open my eyes as the all-too-familiar sense of fear washed over me. I quickly glance over to my husband, who was still passed out from the night before. The stench of alcohol almost knocked me back down as I carefully sat up, cautious as to not wake him. I crept off of the bed and tiptoed my way around the maze of various beer bottles that lay scattered across the floor.

As I entered the bathroom, I let out the sigh that I do as I cross any doorway in the house. He’d smashed all the doors off their hinges. He took comfort in knowing there was nowhere for me to hide.

I peered past the shatters in the bathroom mirror and checkrd on my bruises, which were a tame pale yellow, better than yesterday. I reached for my makeup pouch and began the routine of applying the various concealers to the swollen lips and bruised eyes. I glanced down to the sink, which took me back to that day when he held my head in it for thirty-four seconds. As I’d emerged, gasping for air, I’d thought to myself that that would be the day it would all change.

I packed his lunch and sent him off to work and vowed that that would be the day I’d leave … But yet I was still there when he returned; still there to endure his anger, his screaming, his drunken beatings. Tears started welling up in my eyes and I winced in pain as I quickly reached up to wipe them away. I glanced in the mirror and promised the frightened, pale girl I saw in it that one day I would leave him and start my own life. That would be the day I would set myself free.

Listen to the story read by Andy Hislop

Guernsey Literary Festival · Freedom

Judge’s comments - Onjali Rauf

The imagination and empathy required to place one’s self literally into the shoes and mind of someone coping with domestic abuse is a special one indeed. The descriptions of this story were so accurate, and the tone so realistic, that I would not be surprised if the author confessed to being much older than their actual years! A deeply insightful piece, and one which brings the issue of not being free within one’s home which is a reality for so many women, to the forefront.
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