Finalist in the 'Dream Big 2013' competition

Thump. Thump, thump. My heart began to race as I challenged the ascending stairs above me. I knew, that it was time to take the challenge I’d been avoiding, all 259 steps that lead to the water tower. To distract myself from the feat ahead of me, I thought of her: My best-friend. The encouragement that I needed to continue fighting emerged from her, and the fear that crawled within me as I remembered she was going into the surgery today.
Her heart, unlike most people, didn’t function properly. The fear, as I remember every collapsing-episode within the classrooms, ran through my veins. Each step I took toward the water-tower I thought of her, her suffering. My pain right now was my lack of breath. Hers was more important.
Honestly, what is the heart really for? Why did it exist? Other than to pump the blood and oxygen around our bodies, how did it help us? We sit by as the heart breaks due to the fear of it shattering as we fall in love, as a best-friend or loved one ends up suffering, and as reality sets in and I realise that they might not be able to help my friend.
She’s stuck not being able to reach and grasp what she needs, but her heart still falls in love and holds the kindness that can’t be forgotten. Why can’t it protect the sweetness of a person, by successfully pumping the oxygen and blood to the places she so desperately needs?
200 steps. 59 more to go. I waited for the phone call that would notify me that she was okay, that she could return to her friends. The love that is waiting for her heart to claim. 240, 241... The last steps were ahead. Maybe this means if I can complete my challenge, Charlie can complete hers. 259! I did it! All 259! The challenge was all I needed. My heart pounded against my ribcage warning me not to do it again. As I reached the base of the water tower, my heavy thoughts were interrupted by the piercing cry of my phone against the calm surroundings.
“Emmabelle? It’s Gloria.” Suddenly my breath caught. Was Charlie really back?
“God, is she okay?”
“She’s fine.” Without realising it I let out a delighted squeal.
Relief flooded through me as I realised that it was time that she could really return to the people that loved her. The Heart! Maybe it really can protect the rest of our body from pain. It just has to fight through the last of life’s wavering severity before bouncing back.
Thump. Thump, thump.
Love, pain, fear, relief and kindness all comes from the one organ. The one organ that can protect us, continue our survival, break us free from suffering. The heart really does protect those we love. All it needs is a challenge just like all two-hundred and fifty-nine steps it took for me to hear the news I was waiting for.


23 was established in 1997, and since then we have successfully completed numerous short story and poetry competitions and publications.
We receive an overwhelming positive feedback each year from the teachers, parents and students who have involvement in these competitions and publications, and we will continue to strive to attain this level of excellence with each competition we hold.


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