Write Stuff Guernsey Literary Festival

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Third prize


By Violet Graham
Year 9, Grammar School

A burning tear streams down my face. It joins the hundreds of drops of seawater and rain that drench me. Each wave brings more distress and heaviness to my heart, not helped by a heavy life jacket that restrains my chest. My brother Ali, only four, holds on to my shaking knees for his life as we are pushed and pulled by the people next to us. My heart skips as I look around only to see faces I don't recognise. All I long for is to be safe with mother in the freedom she promised us, but she's not here anymore. It is just Ali and me.

In a haze of panic and confusion, a girl I had met as we got on the boat gets pushed off. A lump in my throat gathers, and I hold on to Ali even tighter. Another huge wave threatens to force us off the boat. My heart clenches tighter. I pray that we make it.

Rain stings my face as shouts of terror are drowned out by thunder. Lightning strikes close to us. This could be it. This could be where I die. Another statistic, another gut-wrenching story to be forgotten about as soon as the next one comes along.

One last colossal wave hits us. It throws me off the boat.

Water floods my senses. Its silence deafening. It chains me down as I attempt to go up for air. Continually pushing me back down. I try and let myself rise to the surface but I find I am trapped under something. The water smothers me. It weighs me down as I try to swim. When I eventually breach the surface, I gasp for air but another wave forces me to swallow more water.

Where is the freedom we were promised?

Listen to the story read by Neal Layton

Guernsey Literary Festival · Waves

Judge’s comments - Neal Layton

This story parallels being at the mercy of an unforgiving ocean, with the desperate inner feelings of its young migrant characters. Powerful descriptive writing of the turbulent sea backdrops their inner emotive turmoil. Congratulations.
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