Isobelle Carmody Award
for Creative Writing
Nothing is not peaceful, its blinding; blank white floor, walls, ceiling;
a perfect cube, four metres by four metres, my worst nightmare.
Because in here there is nothing but me and my thoughts. I might
have been in here for minutes or hours, years or a century. Time blurs
into an endless mass of shadowy numbers, drifting and lost in the
abyss of my mind. Though I am nothing, I have learnt something;
Hell does not burn.
Hell is not cold.
Hell is empty.
Memories come in glimpses and flashes, sounds and scents, lost as
soon as I try to focus on them.
The crunch of straw underfoot,
The crisp smell of fresh cut grass,
A burnt sugar taste invading my mouth,
Then a rush of pain, sudden and violent.
I’m shaking now, pressed to the floor. A bright drop of blood gives me
comfort, a shock of red in this immaculate, snowy-white space. My
nails leave pale half-moons on my palms. The pain is good, it means
I’m still here. But am I still alive? Was I ever?
‘Who am I?’ I beg my identity of the empty walls, but they are
merciless. I glare at them; they taunt me with their steadiness. I
want only a name, a picture, something, anything to reassure myself
that I exist.
I look at my hands, petite and pale, nothing like his. His were
always tanned and strong, and always moving, weaving and tying;
Tears track cool trails down my cheeks.
‘Go, please, I am lost, but there is still hope for you. Please’
‘Never.’ a whispered promise I am forced to break.
Staggering now, I struggle to make sense of it. It was the straw, those
new bales, ready to be turned into marvellous sculptures. The fire
burned; too fast, too bright, too hot, and he burned with it.