Valley Of Dying Stars

All around me, the room holds its breath. Forever frozen in limbo.

We are the hollow men.

I squeeze my eyes shut; a futile attempt to chase away the last scraps of sleep. They linger in the still air. I exhale as your tiny pair of phantom hands curl weakly around my thumb, the first wisps of cornsilk curls brushing against my cheek.

A shiver rips through my body as the phantom touch evaporates, forever escaping my embrace. Forever divided by these blinding white walls and the lingering shadow of mortality.

We are the stuffed men.

I glance around the bare room, noting the shadows that scatter aimlessly over the familiar, vinyl-upholstered chairs, the unopened magazines spread carelessly over the table. The brightness of the five interlocking rings is a stark contrast with the muted palette of the room.

Perhaps, in another world, we would be there. Part of the cheering crowd, revelling in the heat and the wafting scent of fast food. I would hold you up above the sea of heads, watch your stubborn cheeks stretch into a grin as the starter gun sounded.

But the image slips away, twisting and morphing back to reality. Back to the world of antiseptic and shadows and voiceless green scrubs.

The hope only
Of empty men.

My eyes, eager for distraction, dart to a woman in the opposite seat, rocking her restless child. The newborn stretches out her legs, an action of blissful oblivion, and locks eyes with mine.

Midnight sirens. Weak gasps for breath. Empty cries for help. Eyes that should be alive with youth, dimmed.

I turn away, chest constricting.

My eyes dart to a young girl across the room. Mid-twenties, maybe younger. Legs crossed, twisted into a grimace. The light slinks across her face, smudged mascara chased by a pool of deep shadow. What brought her to this blinding white room of Life, of Death, at this hour? So many possibilities.

I fight back the heat flooding my cheeks. How many will you experience?

My eyes flick to a weathered figure bent over a metal frame, clinging to the image of tissue paper skin and feather-thin hair. Robbed of vitality by time; the world’s most notorious thief. The worlds biggest luxury.

When the threads of fate were first woven, how did they decide who deserves more time?

A pair of scrubs approaches, and I pry my hands apart, knuckles glinting a ghostly white as I follow the silent whispers of footsteps to your ward.

This is the way the world ends.

My eyes, starving and desperate, search your petite figure on the bed, noting the deep bruises beneath your closed lids, the clear tubes snaking along your pale cheeks.

This is the way the world ends.

I clasp your hand in mine once more, listening to your fluttering pulse, the silent rush of breath through chapped lips.

This is the way the world ends.

And dream of borrowed time. Stolen time.

Not with a bang but a whimper.


25 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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