Isobelle Carmody Award
for Creative Writing
It was one late winter afternoon.
I was sitting on the couch, a mug of warm chocolate in my hand,
when she asked for the first time ever.
I had been dreading, yet expecting it, ever since she’d learnt to
talk, but it did not stop the fear creeping into me, and the way my
face changed from pink to pale white.
Carefully placing the crayons next to the paper she had been
drawing on, she stared up at me, her big green eyes studying my
expression, and as our eyes met, I shuddered.
‘I want to know,’ she said softly. ‘Why I can’t go outside.’
I shuddered again, shaking my head as I did so and grasping the
mug tightly in my hand. I didn’t want to answer her; I didn’t want to
go against her mother’s wishes. But another part of me knew she had
the right to know. I tried to find words to explain, but my mind was
blank and my ears focused on the storm raging on outside. She
continued to stare at me, waiting expectantly.
‘There is nothing out there,’ I said finally. ‘Nothing. There is no
reason to go out. There would be no reason for you to go outside.’
‘There must be.’ She spoke evenmore quietly than before, her voice
barely a whisper. ‘There must be more than…
.’ She indicated the
room we were in, a slight edge of impatience in her voice.
The rain pounded the windows, and thunder rumbledmenacingly
outside, but it was as if a spell had been cast upon the room, and
neither of us said a word. Then slowly, as if in a trance, she stood up.
‘What are you doing?’ I said. Something was not right, something
was wrong with her.
She didn’t answer. There was a coldness in her eyes I’d never seen
before. I jumped up, spilling the hot chocolate all over my trousers.
Looking down, I tried to rub away the spill with my free hand, the
other clutching the mug. A brown stain was slowly spreading over
the fabric. When I looked back up again, she was gone.
‘No!’ I breathed. I ran towards the door and flung it open.
It was raining so hard that all I could see was white. Squinting
past the rain, I tried to make out something, anything. Fear was
tearing at my insides.
Just as I turned back, I thought I saw a dark shadow moving
between the curtains of water, and hope burned inside me. But then
it was gone, and there was nothing.