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Runner Up’s story

Anna Lawrence is one of our three runner up writers, and she said “I was inspired to write this because I kept thinking about all the pressures young people are under. I was outside, and it was a beautiful sunny day, I was in nature, and this story came to me.”

I was lost…

By Anna Lawrence (age 12)

Perfection, a word that broke me. It dug its toxic fangs into my life and suffocated me until I was lost inside my own thoughts. One word, one breath, one sound, it isolated me. Perfection is a snake.

Sunlight twists and twines as the ripples flicker throughout the pool. Lemonade sparkles in the summer heat. Icy splashes soar through the air, as my brother plunges into the water. Today should be a perfect day. A perfect family, at their perfect pool, in the perfect weather. Not a single cloud dares to stain the sky, but through my eyes, it’s not good enough. I can’t seek out the beauty in imperfection, and while they hide it, I know these people resent me for it.

Loneliness strums a repetitive soft rhythm, as my walls shield everyone from my feelings. Here I am with a crowd of people, and yet my voice is left unheard, and my mind is left unspoken. Anger burns inside me. Somehow, someway, I’ve ruined everything with my family. I’m the disappointment, the shadow, and the burden that they wish they never had. How did I screw up my life so badly?

I watch on as my uncle spills his drink because he is laughing so much. I watch my mum gossiping with my aunt about everything and anything. I watch my little sister frantically swimming, trying to catch our cousins in a game of Marco Polo. The way my dad’s eyes sparkle as he tells his stories. I used to be like that, I used to be able to laugh and chat. But my mind betrayed me. Now my memories mock me.

Desperate to shake off my thoughts, I place my towel on my chair, and sit at the edge of the pool. The cold pricks at my skin, but I ignore it. I jump in.

My head clears as the water numbs my face. Almost instantly, my pain edges away. I like it down here, in the depths of the pool. The one place my thoughts can’t chase me and corner me. Closing my eyes, I let my body sink down further. I let the water blanket me and cover me.

“They don’t need me though, they don’t want me.” Voices whisper at me from somewhere inside my head. My body sinks lower, hitting the bottom of the pool. Craving air, my lunges ache and burn.

A muffled scream reaches out into my silence. Strength drains from me. This is it, the moment I have been wishing for since the monsters moved into my head.

More screaming, desperate splashes. In my final seconds, I open my eyes. Sunlight leaks through the water, dappling and dancing. A hand reaching, cutting through time and space. Now, I get to choose. I can keep fighting, take my sister’s hand. Battle for every second. Because deep, deep down I know I’ll be able to seize joy again. Or I can surrender and close my eyes.

I choose to fight.

I use all the power I have left to clutch my sister’s hand as she hauls me up into the air again. Sobbing and crying erupts as I’m pulled onto flat ground. My mum grabs my hand squeezes it, whispering in my ear.

“You’re stronger than I’ll ever be.”

This is what causes me to open my eyes. Tears are soaking my parents’ faces. My siblings look stunned. I squint as the bright light crashes into me. Silently I pray that I am alive. Because in that moment between life and death, I knew that I was loved. And just like that, I know I am saved.

I didn’t realise I was lost, until I realised I was found.