1st Place Category 4
One Big Mistake
Winner Category 4 (Ages 9 to 11)
I ran as fast as I could, but at the same time I felt like I was trapped in quicksand. My heart beat quickly; sweat trickling down my feverish forehead. It had been four days, yet I still hadn’t come to terms with what I had done.
Had I really struck the blow that ended Warren’s life? Mistrust was seeping through my veins as fast as the fear, but this time, I was suspicious of myself. It was like meeting a whole new me—and this time, I wasn’t as nice as before.
The pain felt raw. Warren had been my boyfriend. I didn’t know what I had done in that fatal moment, but I didn’t like it.
I sped around alleyways, raced down pavements and cut across busy streets. All I wanted to do was escape: escape from Warren, escape from the police, escape from my family. But I couldn’t escape my past.
I didn’t know where I was going. My legs were carrying me but I was lost in the dark recesses of my mind. It was only when I came to a stop did I realize where I was: Pavilion Square, the place I had first met Warren.
It was quiet and still. Like the silence that had come when I turned to see Warren’s crumpled body on the ground.
What was going to become of me? Would I ever be myself again? The police were already on the hunt for the murderer. What shocked me was that I was the culprit.
Slowly, my mind drifted away from the present and back to that fateful day.
Warren had been oddly quiet for the last few months. He said he’d been consumed in his work but I had begun to suspect. I had grown jealous and possessive. I knew deep down Warren could never do such a thing, but I felt betrayed.
It had been a particularly trying day. I had asked him to go with me to see a movie in the morning—but no, he had an important meeting. I’d asked him to go for a picnic lunch at Pavilion Square, but he refused. In the evening, I asked if we could just have a stroll around the apartment we lived in. He shook his head again, and that was when…
I got up shakily. I walked away from the Square slowly. It was midday—almost everyone was inside their houses.
Someone nudged me softly. I turned around, staring at a grubby girl with a rucksack in her hands.
“Sorry,” she apologized. “I was in a hurry to get away.”
“Away from what?” I asked. After days of silence, my voice was hoarse and croaky.
“Promise you won’t tell anyone?”
She took a deep breath. “I ran away.”
The cold wash of surprise ran over me. As suddenly, however, I felt pity and then remorse. My life was over. But she had years ahead of her.
“Because,” she said sadly, “Everyone’s gone.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“I’ve lived with my big brother ever since I could remember,” she said. “But a few days ago, I found him lying so still on the ground. Like he was asleep. I called the hospital, and they said he wasn’t going to wake up.” Tears had sprung to her eyes.
I felt sorry for her. But as she looked up at me, I realized that this was what Warren’s family would be feeling right now.
“What’s your name?”
“Liz,” she said.
“Come with me, Liz,” I said. “I’ll help you find somewhere to stay.”
She looked like she wanted to protest, but she followed wearily.
As we picked our way through the streets, I felt hollow and ashamed. How could I take care of a young innocent girl? I, a murderer, help a girl whose brother was dead? The words rang sharp in my mind. That was what I was—a killer.
Suddenly, she stopped. “Why did you run away?” Liz asked.
I looked up at the dismal blue sky warily. “I made a big mistake,” I said.
She looked at me, somehow sensing my emotions. “Don’t worry,” she said. “It’s all going to be OK.”
But it wasn’t. Warren was gone and nothing would ever be the same again.
“Liz,” I said, as lightly as I could, “Is there anyone you can call? An aunt or uncle? Grandparents? Friends?”
She shrugged. “Even if there was, I’m not going back.”
I looked at her. “Why not?” I asked. “You have so many things to look forward to in your life.”
“Because it doesn’t matter any more,” she said simply. “Without Alex—my brother– what’s the point?”
It was sad, but at the same time, it cleared my mind. What was left for me to live for? Warren was gone. My family and friends would cast me off. The police would hunt me. I felt selfish and ashamed for even thinking I could run away from what I had done.
Eventually, I handed her over to the authorities. She was going to live with her relatives. I couldn’t abandon Liz. She was too young, too innocent.
Now that I was alone, I was free to make a decision. Should I go back, and spend my life in jail? Should I wander forever?
Having made up my mind, I took a deep breath. I hailed a cab to Pavilion Square. Nobody would notice me in the darkness.
As I paid the driver, I stared up at the old crumbling bell tower. My heart raced faster than ever.
Slowly, I climbed up its creaking spiral staircase. I reached the top and stared down at the ground 20 meters below.
What was there to live for? I heaved a breath—my last breath—and plunged off the side of the tower.
My life was shattered, because of one big mistake.
My story was partly inspired by Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet. A tragic ending that started with love was one of the main concepts that inspired my story’s sad ending. This made me think about how a small jealousy in a relationship with someone could lead to something big. Another thing that inspired me was how people make bad choices that can turn serious: this was something I had been thinking about for quite some time and was also reflected in my story as the character in my work was led to her demise due to a foolish mistake. Venika Vachani, UAE, Age 11