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First prize

Suffragettes - Freedom to Women!

By Rebecca Hind
Year 9, Grammar School

Starvation racked her stomach as ice-cold water lapped her toes. Leached of warmth, seated on a hard metal bench, she barely felt it. The hose responsible was the least of her problems. Smirking devilishly, the prison guard delighted in her panic. Suddenly the tide was as high as her knees, hips, chest. Despite her lack of energy, she kicked upward, toward air. Adrenaline kicked in, so did mania. Lungs set to bursting, legs burning, she thought - this is it. Blackness clouded her senses. But wait - air! A tidal wave swept from the cell as the door opened. She was saved! Nearly being drowned and imprisoned was worth it for this moment. Anmer, the King’s horse, swung round the corner - the homestretch. A suffragette rosette. Purple. White. Green. Fire danced in her eyes. She smelt change on the horizon, tasted freedom on her tongue. Stepping onto the track, she felt nothing but determination. The wind whipped her hair, the earth trembled underfoot, but still, she held firm. Deeds, not words. A riot of colour, a riot of noise too. Brains rattling in my head, thundering hooves, screaming crowds, except - something. A pinprick of non-sound, inaudible to the casual onlooker, but loud as the crowd to me. Stony silence sent goosebumps down my spine. Noise would have been more alarming for the body I had come to collect. This body belonged to Emily Davison. Martyr. With utmost care, I picked up her body, slightly disfigured. The sky, a pale slate grey that afternoon, seemed appropriate. Cradled in my arms, I took her away. Nobody noticed me as I passed through. Nobody ever does. They might feel a slight breath of wind, a sudden shiver down their spines, but it never seems to cross their minds that I was even there.

Listen to the story read by Neal Layton

Guernsey Literary Festival · Suffragettes - Freedom to Women!

Judge’s comments - Neal Layton

A gripping start pulls the reader into this story which gradually opens up to describe a historic figure most will be aware of: the suffragette Emily Davison. Whilst written in a succinct creative style, the story has also been well researched. I did not know her cell was filled with water whilst she was imprisoned, and had to consult Wikipedia to check. Congratulations.
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