Short Story Competition 2023 Schools Years 8 to 10 Runner-up Chava Bayles ‘Like an Eagle’
The screams of fear and admiration mingle with the sharp whistle of wind in my ears as I take the plunge. I've attempted this skate-park ramp numerous times, but the euphoria of triumphing over the speed of light is never diminished.
That is, until I fall.
Having lost all control of my rollerblade wheels, I plummet towards the cold grey concrete below. As I fall, the world whizzes around me as if I'm suspended in a whirlwind of pandemonium, sending great waves of panic and perplexity through my body. All of a sudden, I notice how sheer the ramp is and my bewilderment turns to sheer terror. I see my arms flailing helplessly at my sides and my legs moving erratically as if they're detached from my body, as if they belong to somebody else entirely.
Blood; weakness; then just disorientation.
You see yourself standing in a sports shop, wavering; deliberating. You're positioned in the aisle which promises protection. The skating pads hang casually on their racks, as if waiting expectantly for you to pick them up, ignoring their steep price; assuming that you- like everyone else- value your life over your money. Your mother's voice rings in your ears, echoes around your heart, sends urgent messages to your brain imploring for you to think logically; stay safe; to not do anything rash. You turn a deaf ear to her pleas. All you do is shake your head. Hesitantly, you take one deep breath; you turn away.
The skating pads are pleading with you, desperately trying to reason with the screen of stubbornness that is blocking your mind. It's almost as if they can visualise the accident that would happen in under a month, as if they hear the loud thud and then silence; as if they smell the blood that will painfully trickle from fresh, open wounds...
I wake up in a daze of discomfort and self-accusation. Disconcerting images of what I did and what I should have done hurtle around my brain, whilst the feeling of guilt accumulates until its smothering me in a choking embrace and practically exceeding the pain of my broken bones and shredded skin.
Powerless over the raging tempest of emotions in my heart, I focus on the future. My imagination conjures up the image of a young woman standing in a sports shop. She stands erect; straighter and more confidently than the last time she was there, and her face expresses experience- experience of being through pain, but conquering it. Arriving at the racks which hold the skating pads, however, a haunting glance of agony flutters through her eyes. It seems, for a moment, that the pain will grip her with an iron fist and hurl her once again into the depths of despair, but she is able to overpower it.
Tentatively, she lowers herself towards the skating pads and pulls a packet off the racks.
The following day, among the multitudes of people, a girl perches at the top of a skatepark ramp. An almost-invisible, almost-healed gash frames her face, concealed beneath her fortitude. The sun smiles down at her, sending rays of light ricocheting off her brand-new protective gear. With immense skill, like an eagle, she spreads out her new-found wings of freedom and gracefully swoops down, past her fears.
Judge Charlie Durante’s Comments:
Runner-up: Chava Bayles with Like an Eagle. Chava’s Like an Eagle is a story of fear and injury overcome. A roller-skating accident makes the narrator realise the extreme danger this ever-popular sport entails. Though warned by her mother, the speaker is dismissive. She will indulge her yearning, experience the thrill of sweeping into the air, defying gravity and hoping to land safely.
When this does not happen, we have the ‘broken bones and shredded skin’ caused by the impact on the hard, unyielding concrete ramp, but she is undeterred. Soon, already recovered, she goes to the sport shop to buy more equipment, ready to defy gravity once more, but this time with the grace and power of an eagle. Well written and enjoyable.