Sophie O'Donovan, Grade 7, Taroona High School
Hailey stood looking out at the ocean, her face blank. Light cascaded from the afternoon sun, illuminating the bags under her eyes, the red welts across her cheek. Her fingers were clutched into a tight fist, her knuckles white. Her clothes hung from her body, limp and uninteresting. The water was grey and uninviting as it crashed onto the shore. The smell of salt brought back unwanted memories. She, her mum and Jayden had gone to the beach a few times, when they were younger. Not this beach, but a better one, a beach that normal people went to. What was it called? It started with B...Binalong? Billabong? Hailey shook her head, clearing it of these thoughts. Happy thoughts were not what she needed right now. She bit her lip, and tasted blood that was not hers. It made her wonder how hard she hit her brother. The crash of the waves changed, into sounds of Jayden groaning, to her mother, sobbing, and then finally, yelling. Tears formed in Hailey’s eyes, but she defiantly looked at the sky, refusing to let them have the pleasure of running down her cheeks, showcasing her troubles for the entire world to see. The sun had disappeared behind grey clouds, leaving only a hollow wind blowing. She absently fished out the broken phone that had started this all. No, that wasn’t true, the phone hadn’t started it. It had been building up for years, under the surface. The phone was only the trigger. Hailey shivered, yet not from the cold. The blood on her cheek, some hers, some Jayden’s, had dried, and stuck to her like leech, just like all of the bad memories of her family. She tried turning on the battered phone, but nothing happened. An almost hysterical laugh escaped from her lips. Who would she call anyway? She had no friends, no extended family. Her mum would have already called the police. For not the first time in her life, Hailey felt angry. Angry at her dad, who left them to fend for themselves. Angry at Jayden, for ruining a life she thought could not be ruined anymore. But most of all, angry at her mother, for abusing her, for not earning any money for their education, for relying on alcohol to fix her troubles, for pretending that her brother was a perfect little angel, and for treating her like scum. Hailey was glad that she had broken her mum’s most prized possession, her adopted son. She was glad to see the hurt in her eyes, as the blood flowed from Jayden’s nose. She threw away the phone, an empty reminder of the pointless argument that had started everything, and watched it bounce down the cliff, into ocean below. A police siren wailed in the distance. Hailey knew what she had to do. She always knew it would come to this. As the siren came closer, she took a deep breath, ran to the edge of the cliff, and jumped.