‘Beautiful’ by Ava Haigh-Turner, age 15, Fallibroome Academy

Grass, turned blue and sharp by ice, scrapes my numb, bare feet. Air stings with cold and bombards my face. My breath, misting in front of me, eagerly flies towards a sky of angry clouds threatening to drown me in snow. There is no sun here.

I lift a stiff hand to my throat, searching for a pulse, a reminder I’m still alive. For one fleeting moment, I can’t find it, and wonder whether I truly am a corpse refusing to give up and get in the grave. Then I feel it – a steady beat, struggling, but there. I want to cry, and can’t think why.

Whether I walk for hours or weeks in that frozen, fragile silence, I don’t know. What I do know, for certain, is that I learn the intricacies of how silence, cold, and loneliness like that numbs your brain, makes it forget how to think and speak. And I know that has happened for sure when I see the car, because it takes me a moment to work out what it is.

A heavy mist has set in by now, and the sky has followed through on its threats of snow, though it isn’t too thick. At first, the car is an obscure, blurred shadow, until suddenly it’s right here in front of me there, a sleek, glossy black monster.

The front driver’s seat window struggles against the frost sealing it shut, but eventually winds down, revealing the face of a slim white man who looks to be in his 30s, with stubble across his face and dark brown hair. He wears a suit without a tie and a look of pity and mild confusion on his face.

“Do you need help?” His voice is deeper than I’d expected.

“I suppose.” My voice is not what I’d expected either, quiet and hoarse; I haven’t drank in a while.

“Do you need a ride?” His tone is full of a kindness that somehow doesn’t match his face.

“I’m not sure where I’m going.”

He thinks a moment, then says, “I’ll take you into the town, then.”

I get in the passenger seat beside him. Inside the car is warmer than out, but I still shiver. The man glances over at me, takes in my damp pyjamas and bare feet, and hands me a flask of tea before turning the heating up.

This ‘town’ is really more a small cluster of about twenty buildings, but the thing that interests me is the fire they all crowd around. It’s beautifully warm. The instant the man stops I’m out of the car and rushing over to it. There are a few other people here, none of whom even glance in my direction. I begin to thaw.

A hand grabs my shoulder. I look up; it’s the man. He leans down to whisper in my ear. I strain to hear it.

“You’ll thank me later.”

A push, and I’m in the fire.





And it’s beautiful.