Benjamin Mackie, Grade 12, Nowra Christian School
Her eyes flickered gently in the light of a single burning candle. Bruises spanned out across her body, deep scars manifesting on the softness of her skin. Memories cursed her, spitting and strangling her like a serpent. Sweat matted the thick locks of curly brown hair to her scraped face, making it hard to notice the tears rolling down her blackened and dirty face.
She was weaker than before - her essence of life slowly dripping away as the sun both rose and set over the radiance of the sky. New scars formed on old, blood seeping from a wound that could never fully heal. Breathing was quick and shallow as her thoughts taunted her; reminded her of the need to punish herself for the things she'd done, when, in fact, she'd done nothing. She believed in something that was wrong to believe. Something these spirits longed to be rid of from this world.
The demons in her head mocked her very being. Begged her, again, to pick up the shard of glass resting on the cobblestone in front of her. Slivers glittered in front of the candle, sending chills down the back of her neck; she tried to close her eyes, only being met by what seemed the face of a devil.
Her clothing was torn: laying in tatters around her. She was cold and alone.
One minute she was free. She could run, jump, sing, dance - anything she knew would please her God. Until she felt the chains binding her hands, clasping her feet.
Others thought her a fool. They saw no bindings; nothing holding her back. They stood. They stared. The sympathetic ones walked up to her, telling her "everything will be okay" in their cocky, pragmatic tones. Prideful people merely put their chins all-the-higher and strutted off. But the kind empathized...
It was because of this she wondered. She brooded. Her mood varied, depending on what her thoughts would show her - yet another curse in itself. They said they could understand her, yet her past was her burden.
The course her life had taken had been along a very narrow footpath; thorns and bramble lining the road she trod. The trees along the way, her friends, transitioned from blooming, fruit-bearing trunks to a useless, withered and leafless frame... As something that comes and goes with the changing of the seasons.
It took all of her remaining human sanity to survive. A small corner of her being that was faint but not completely extinguished; flickering so gently that even the smallest whisper of abuse could blow it out forever.
Life was complex. Humanity was an obstacle. Now how she felt taught her that no-one belonged here. It was only a test. Everyone gets a score, everyone follows the rules. Some fail, while others pass remarkably.
Her scars could never heal... but peace can come to the broken hearted, when only they seek it.