Under 18 Native English Speaker – Winner 2015

“It is”

by Alice Neville

“How do you feel today?”

I looked up.

Her hands folded into one another, she watched me. Her glasses rested on the bridge of her crooked nose and three strands of hair slid down against the plastic frame.

“Angus?” she insisted, tilting her head at a slight angle, “How do you feel?”


“Fine,” I replied, “I’m fine.”

She nodded.

“That’s good.”

It’s not.

She picked up her mechanical pencil and began jotting things down in her leather-bound notebook. I never saw what she wrote in that book, but of course it was all about me. Every word described what she thought of me. Sometimes I imagined she just drew girly hearts and flowers instead. I then felt less pressure.

I grabbed my old, nylon jacket and headed out the door.

“Later!” I called out to my mother.

I didn’t wait for a response. I walked across the poorly kept lawn and made my way towards the other side of the road. Parked in the middle of the dark and deserted street was a crumbling Volkswagen Golf, older than me.

I climbed into the passenger seat and grinned.

“Let’s get out of here,” I said.

A large bookshelf stood behind her. It was stacked with endless encyclopaedias and dictionaries. There were also family photos, graduation certificates and a small cactus. In the corner of the top shelf, I noticed a copy of Homer’s The Odyssey on display. Must have been a favourite.

“And how’s school?” she asked as she gently lay her wrist on the perfectly polished desk.


I shrugged.

“I guess it’s fine,” I lied.

“That’s good, I’m glad to hear that.”

She smiled. She then clicked her pencil and scribbled something else down in her notebook. She obviously didn’t believe me.

“And,” she hesitated for a split second, “how are you sleeping?”

I glanced up at her. The room seemed to heat up. I didn’t like talking about this.

“Are the pills having any effect?”


“Yes,” I lied again.

She sighed. Gently leaning towards me, she set down her notebook.

“Angus, for this to work, you need to be completely honest with me.”

Her eyes stuck to me like gum, watching my every move.

“I suppose the pills haven’t always worked,” I mumbled.

Satisfied with a little truth, she leaned back into her office chair.

“Thank you, Angus. It’s very important that you take your pills regularly.”

“Where do you wanna go?” Nick asked, accelerating away from my home.

“Anywhere,” I replied as I lugged my legs onto the collapsing dashboard.

“Alright then” he smirked, suddenly spinning the wheel around making the car do a violent U-turn.

Loaded with adrenaline, we howled with laughter and sped through the neighbourhood, oblivious to what lay ahead of us.

“Well?” she asked rather loudly.

“What?” I uttered, having missed what she said.

She took off her glasses and slid them into the inside of her blazer.

“Angus,” her face serious, she looked me in the eye, “why do you think you are here today?”

I looked down, staring at my hands, and realized just how clammy the palms had become. I tried to take deep breaths but it had no effect. Soon enough, I began to tremble. I dropped my head and said nothing.

We soared along the highway, music blasting.

I rolled the window down and stuck my head out. The crisp air whisked through my hair and slapped my cheeks. I felt liberated. I was free from the crap that I had to face every day of my life. I slid back into the car and rolled the window up.

Nick smirked and turned the music up even louder.

I slid my hand into the inside pocket of my jacket and pulled out a sliver flask. I twisted the cap off and placed the cold metal to my lips. I turned to Nick.

“Go on,” I insisted thrusting the flask in his direction.

He hesitated a second and then accepted the drink and took a long swig.

“Wanna speed things up a bit?” he said, handing me back the flask.

I gave him two thumbs up.

He pushed his foot down on the accelerator and the engine roared.

Streetlights became flashes and trees were nothing but blotches of ink flying by.

“Why do you think you are here Angus?” she repeated, still waiting for me to speak.

Nick spun the steering wheel from side to side to overtake the other cars.

I felt the adrenaline.

“Faster!” I yelled, taking another swig from the flask.

He pressed his foot harder on the accelerator, hitting the steering wheel.

There was the sound of a horn, blinding light and metal shattering like glass.

Then nothing.

I remained stiff in my chair as my hands shook violently.

“Angus, this isn’t your fault,” she said softly.It is.