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The Beast

Grace Zimmerman

Isobelle Carmody Award

for Creative Writing

Highly Commended

The hot summer sun beat down against the ramshackle cottage and

wheat fields of Sunshine Farm. A little girl, purring gently in her

sleep, was curled tightly in her bed under a moth-bitten blanket. Her

soft blonde hair draped delicately over the pillow. She opened her

hazel eyes and got up from the eroded bed frame. The bright heat of

morning had melted away the trauma that the dark brings. The

vicious, roaring beast that was awoken at nightfall was now laid to

rest. The little girl felt safe while the sun was out, banishing the

shadows. It was the moon she didn’t trust; its pale, crevassed face

glared down on her. The distilled light seemed to sicken her father’s

spirit, transforming him.

As the little girl arose from her bed, its rusty springs squeaked

with displeasure. She tensed; she could hear stirring in her father’s

bedroom. His soft growling erupted into a howling yawn. The little

girl tiptoed gingerly across the faded laminate floor towards the

doorway. She glanced up at a photo frame hung crookedly in the

finger stained hallway. The photo was of her father; he wore a shaggy

mane and a crooked smile. He looked happier than the little girl

could ever remember. Now he was a weather-beaten shell, drinking

every night to numb the dull ache in his heart. There was someone

else in the picture. The woman’s thin frame was draped loosely in a

floral dress. Her cropped blonde hair settled on her shoulders. A light

dusting of freckles brushed her cheeks and wide hazel eyes stared

directly at the camera. Atop this young woman’s head was a humble

straw hat. The little girl now looked at the ugly crack through the

centre of the frame; a product of one of the beast’s rampages.

Entranced by the photo, the little girl clinked her foot against an

empty scotch bottle on the floor. She cowered in fear as the noise

echoed through the hallway. The beast was rising; she began to hear

it rambling a name. Not her own, but one she recognised. She could

feel terror bubbling in the pit of her stomach. She crept towards the

paint-chipped doorway and opened the torn fly screen. The ancient

hinges creaked and the little girl cringed with dread. She stepped out

onto the veranda and a warm morning breeze whipped across her

face. She could hear the beast’s feet thud on the floor in the house

and she heard the familiar clink of bottles knocked over. The little

girl ran quickly through the wheat fields of Sunshine Farm, the

golden spears of grass whipping against her bare legs.

Loose dust exploded under the little girl’s feet as she ran, dirtying