Lei Caroline Gu, Grade 6, Abbotsleigh
Merit in the 'Word Zone 2016' competition
Mist wrapped around my trembling legs like tightly coiled snakes. The ground beneath me dipped and swayed. Up, down... Up, down... My surroundings were obscured by impenetrable darkness. Around me I could hear indistinguishable sounds of groans and grunts, all of them hoarse but each of them screaming of torture and suffering. I tried to curl in on myself, tried to block my ears to drown them out, but no matter how much I willed my limbs to move they refused. What was happening?
It was then that I hear her voice. Soft as silk and rich as honey, my mother's words weaved together with such love. I longed for the comfort of her warm hugs and reassuring promises, but deep inside I knew that she was gone- that she was never coming back and that this was just an illusion, a trick, a desperate last resort to heal the aching wounds in my heart. But I needed her so much right now, more than ever before. I remembered the way she held me when tears ran down my chubby cheeks as I pointed at the boy that had just pushed me, TWICE, how could anyone have been that mean? I could still see the way she tucked me into bed and sang me to sleep with songs so beautiful they would put nightingales to shame.
But I was dragged out of that brief respite by cruel shouts. Every part of my body ached. Every step I took sent jarring shocks of pain through my crumbling bones. I didn't want to get up... Just as that thought passed through my hazy mind, seawater tumbled over the side of the boat and washed over me. Salty spray found its way into my gaping mouth and my soaked clothes clung to my malnourished form as I coughed and retched. Icy air burned my lungs and my throat yearned for water. Stumbling onto unsteady legs, I clung onto the side of the small wooden boat as I tried to recover. All around me were people from my country. Some were young like me and some were older. The lucky ones were huddled with their family.
And here I was, all alone, and as the wind lashed at my hunched body the final glimmer of hope faded. Murky water stretched out farther than any of us could ever swim. We weren't going to make it to safety on time. We weren't going to be able to escape the wars raging on in our minds and souls. As another wave reared up, ready to strike us down one final time, I squeezed my stinging eyes closed and prepared myself to escape from this world. It was better this way.