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Short Story Competition 2022 School Years 8 to 10 Winner Phoebe Gatenby ‘Regrets’

Pics by Johnny Bugeja

We are all born to crave, to live with healthy addictions. It's one of the foundational pillars of creation. We biochemically need love, food, water, warmth, shelter, basic necessities, and if one is absent or in short supply, or worse, there is fear and damage. We need to meet those inborn biochemical requirements to avoid suffering. If the only way available is negative addictions -drugs, alcoholism or any other unhealthy habits ... then that is what will happen. Shame and guilt can't cure these things, only love in action mode can. And unfortunately, what she craved was love.

She really loved him.

She regrets never telling him how much she loved him and never giving him the love that he deserved.

She regrets never telling him that she loves his constant smile. The smile that shined like the sun, illuminating the room, casting away all the darkness lurking in the shadows. She always believed that the amount he smiled would be infuriating, but in the end, she realized she just couldn't get enough of it and the way it gave her that fuzzy feeling in her stomach, like a bunch of butterflies fluttering their wings. The way his smile could make any situation ok, and could make anyone who sees his smile, smile by default. It's what she craved.

She regrets never telling him how beautiful he was. The way his eyes looked like the eye of a storm, like crashing waves and blinding lighting. A combination of a multitude of blue, creating the most breathtaking color, a color which you could drown in but feel no pain, only at peace. And those freckles littered across his face, she could never get enough of them. The way they looked like a galaxy of stars scattered across his face, he always thought that they were ugly, but all she could ever see in those freckles was an infinite beautiful universe.

She regrets nevertelling him how much she loved the sound of his voice and the way he laughed. The voice that would never seem to stop prattling on, talking his head off about his passions, hopes and dreams. She always teased him about how silly they were, and the amount he talked, but it was all a lie, and she regrets nevertelling him that. And that laugh, she loved it so. She loved how contagious it was, and how it sounded as sweet as honey. How it always managed to lift her spirits, and the way it would echo around the room in an almost angelic manner. He was always embarrassed by his laugh, but she thought it was everything and would do nearly anything to hear it again.

She regrets not letting him know that she knew all his little habits, and how much she would always pick up any new ones. The way he went unnaturally quite when he was angry, or how his eyes always had this gloomy look, and he would bite his lip when he was sad. The way he would continuously run his fingers through his hair, leaving it in a tangled mess, or scratch his hands when something made him anxious. And the way his eyes would have this little twinkle every time he would see something he loved. That twinkle always used to be reserved for her, but now she must get used to seeing it gone.

She regrets all those things, but one thing she doesn't regret is spending nearly all her time with him. She doesn't regret dropping everything to help him. She doesn't regret staying up nearly all night to talk to him, which left her falling asleep in most of her classes the next day. She doesn't regret a lot of things, but there is more she regrets.
There is one thing that she regrets the most, and that is she regrets the fact she never got to say I love you one last time.

JUDGES COMMENTS:

Winner: Phoebe Gatenby with Regrets. This account starts rather impersonally, itemizing our desires and needs. But this is only a prelude to an intimate confession of love. The speaker has lost the beloved person and now examines how she behaved towards him. She is full of regrets and the story is carefully structured so that the paragraphs all start with the ominous words, ‘She regrets...’
Briefly, she regrets not having commented on his winning smile, his beautiful eyes, his voice and laughter, his ‘little habits.’ When we are in love, small, seemingly unimportant things, mannerisms, quirks, even annoying habits, acquire a transcendental value and significance. This is apparent when the girl says she regrets not having commented on the way he ran his fingers through his hair.
Sadly and, predictably, as the story is full of regrets, the story looks back to a time when all she regrets now could have been expressed and enjoyed. But, engagingly, she doesn’t regret making the boy she loves the centre of her universe, even though she missed the opportunity of making a last confession of love. This is a moving, emotionally mature story, where regret is essentially an inescapable part of life.

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