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Short Story Competition 2022 School Years 6 to 7 Winner Lea Tryb ‘Where Are You 62?

Everything about her was a lie. Where she came from, her family, her job - all lies.

Joyce leant back in her armchair, thinking about her day. It was nothing unusual, just another boring day at the office dealing with numbers. How could real accountants deal with it? It was such a tedious job.

"As a child, I hated maths." she said to her hot chocolate. However, that was her old life, she was an accountant now. An accountant who lived in Liverpool.

The smell of hot chocolate flooded her thoughts.

"I used to love hot chocolate," she said. The memory triggered a smile. "when Mum made it for me and Jessie." However, Joyce Smith was an only child, whose parents died in a car crash.

Outside the weather wasn't looking too good. The clouds were grey like lead and the ground was covered by a blanket of glittering snow.

"I used to love snow." the hot chocolate didn't reply. The snow lay neatly on the ground, as if it was trying to push Joyce into thinking of her unspoken past. Those intense days. With actual excitement. When her life didn't revolve around weeks and weeks of mundane and monotonous counting.

The sound of snow being carried by the wind sounded like a fairy's whispers, and the heat from Joyce's hot chocolate was a hearth for her fingers. Her eyelids felt heavy above her eyes. She felt comfortable in her armchair - about to fall asleep - when there was a knock on the door. She groaned.

"Good evening ma'am." said the man at the door.

"How may I help you?" questioned Joyce, slightly exasperated.

"I'm looking for Evelyn Miller." his voice was low. He must have seen the shock on Joyce's face and mistaken it for confusion. He looked slightly left, then right as if to see if anyone was watching.

"You know ... Agent 62?" he said in an even lower voice.

After a moment of hesitation, Joyce replied.

"I think you'd better come in. It's cold outside."

JUDGES COMMENTS:
Winner: Lea Tryb with Where are you ’62? Joyce seems to be an undercover agent whose life is a tissue of pretence and lies. The story revolves around Joyce reminiscing about her former life when her mother made the hot chocolate and she had a sister, Jessica.
Now life is grey, monotonous and repetitive. Then, a knock on the door brings Joyce back to everyday reality and we are plunged into a world of secret codes and false names.
This short story is packed with innuendoes, implicit meaning and understated references. It portrays a world full of suspicion, fear and threats. Its conciseness and brevity works well as its power lies in what is not said as much as in what is explicitly stated.

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