Read the story that won second prize in the SHS short story creative writing competition. Written by Saanvi Bhandari

My world was being shattered like a pane of glass, I was running, running away from it all. I heard the distant calling of my name, and all I could think was ‘MY FAULT.’ I knew no matter how much I ran; it would still cast a shadow around me – it would define who I am. I was lost in my thoughts and trying desperately to shove my emotions away from sight, which tired me even more, both physically and mentally. So distracted I was, that I nearly ran face first into a black square that stretched across the horizon. I changed direction, hoping that the black square would disappear, and I could finally leave this wretched place. But it did not. Typical. It felt like the final straw, and that was more than I could handle. I hit it (the wall) and it cracked, just like my feelings. Seeing it crack broke me, as well as the lights, which turned off immediately, revealing the only source of light, the whites of my eyes. They were pale and soft, and it seemed as if I was going to cry at any minute. That didn’t help. The sirens kept getting louder and louder and I felt exposed; put into the spotlight. A wave of emotions crashed down on top of me, so heavy and painful that I had to grab the wall of the cataclysmic, unlit barrier to stop myself being dragged down into depths of despair. I had to escape. I could not be kept in detainee any longer. But how? I looked at the cracked wall in front of me. Surely one more hole would not matter. With a deep breath, my emotions clouding my thoughts and eyesight, I put my hand through a hole in the wall and mustered up all the strength that I had remaining and pulled myself through the crack; now a hole big enough to fit a thin and malnourished 12-year-old girl. I imagined being cleansed of my emotions, of all the sins that I have been told to have committed, yet unsure if I did or not.

To prevent myself from raising my hopes up, I shut my eyes, shut myself from the world. All I could hear was the slight rustle of leaves, that were underneath me and the distant sound of thunder. I slowly got up and cut myself on the large piece of…. whatever it was that the palisade was made of. I smelled a familiar yet unwelcomed smell but could not identify what it was. A peculiar feeling came over me as I opened my eyes, something I had read about in books, but not yet ever experienced. Was it hope or excitement? That’s when I realized why the smell was so familiar. Fire. With a sob I ran away, losing hope of finding a safe place that I could call home… Being on the run forever.

By Saanvi Bhandari