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Veronica Perez-Torres

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.

The question.

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.