Madeleine Stingel, Grade 9, Riverside High School
The girl with dark hair stood, watching as the children played in the frozen grassy area. Kicking up snow as they ran, pretending not to hear their mothers calling for them as they shouted for them to be careful.
She drew her coat around her, grateful for its comfort, but didn’t move her now frozen feet from the ground as she found eyes staring back at her with sorrow. The icy reflection stared back up at her, eyes slowly narrowing into a glare.
A cloud of breathe puffed as she shifted her feet, trying to bring them back to life again, wishing she could say the same for herself. Nothing could be done, and deep in her heart, she knew it was true.
Swallowing hard, she fought back the pooling tears. Turning away from the children, the girl walked away, stiffly and silently. Invisible. Alone. Forgotten. She was a fallen angel, a fallen queen and her empire. And she needed to run from it all.
Cars whizzed past her, though she barely noticed as she held her gaze firmly on the ground. Her head ducked low, hiding her face in her scarf. It couldn’t be true, could it? Would her family really do that, to her? Keep that from her?
Turning down a street, the girl collided with someone. Murmuring an apology, she stepped to the side, letting the man pass.
But he grabbed her elbow and hissed in the girl’s ear. “Watch yourself, girl.” The man vanished into the crowd of people, flowing with the sea.
Her chest heaved as tears threatened once more. Ducking her head again, she set off at a quick pace, praying she wouldn’t run into anyone else. She would not snap again. Never again.
She moved into an alley when no one was looking. The darkness welcomed her and she smiled sadly as a few rats scurried away from her. Skittish in her presence. Now everyone was afraid, can’t anyone speak to her anymore?
The girl knew why they were afraid, and why she was here. She had failed her people, she must pay for the mistake that should never have been made.
Footsteps. A voice. “You know why I summoned you?” The creature’s voice growled through her bones.
She turned, facing the thing that haunted her memories and her soul. A man stood, hands in his pockets, watching her with black eyes and a wicked smile that sent shivers down her spine. He didn’t move, only stared at her from his place by the large rubbish bins.
Taking in a cold breath, the girl spoke. “Yes,” She barely heard herself, but he did.
“And you came here, even though you knew what waited here for you.” He clucked his tongue, shaking his head.
“My family secret will never be revealed.” She declared as loudly as she dared. “Not even to you. I came to pay the price.”
“And you will.”
The last words she ever heard.