Flash Frontier

July 2019: National Flash Fiction Day – Youth

National Flash Fiction Day



First Place


Gummy Bears

Hannah Daniell, Cashmere High School, Christchurch


Gummy bears are not for children. They are the culinarily superior snack for all ages and none of this newfangled fizzing, sour, I-don’t-know-what-else candy can change my mind. I have eaten only gummy bears for the entirety of my fourteen year existence and I will continue to eat gummy bears for the rest of it.

People send me chocolate; people who don’t know what else to send. I send them back. Life must allow me my small eccentricities.

I reckon people in the 60s had it right. Go to school, get a job, drink Cola, eat gummy bears. I told my mum I was dropping out of homeschooling to get a job as a construction worker and spend the rest of my days tailgating on the beach with Coke and Haribo. I don’t think she believed me.

They tried to tell me that while I was on antibiotics I needed to eat less candy. Something about pneumonia loving excess blood sugar. I told them that if antibiotics were going to get in the way of my gummy bears they could very well send the antibiotics away instead. They shut up after that.

There was a while when I couldn’t chew. My neck was newly operated on and any movement hurt. I made mum boil them down until I could drink them like an exotic cocktail of sugar and artificial flavoring. I’m very serious about my gummy bears.

Right now I’m not allowed to eat anything. They have me on full time IV nutrition drip and say “any traditionally digested food could cause permanent damage to my upper respiratory system” or something like that. I told them I’d kick the bucket an awful lot faster if they didn’t let me have my gummy bears. We’re still working on a compromise.

About Hannah Daniell

Second Place


Five rules for liking girls when you are young and prone to heartbreak

Cybella Maffitt, Year 13, St. Cuthbert’s College, Auckland


The first rule is to never let her know. Not out of shame, or fear. Simply because she is beautiful, and beautiful things are best left unbothered. You can be quite clumsy, you know.

Try to work the same shift at work, for a start. Beg, insist, trade if you have to. It might seem demeaning at first, but rule number two insists on this sort of regularity. Once she is part of your weekly routine she becomes more mundane. Trust me, you always have gotten bored easily. This is a chance to gain some control, so don’t waste it!

Inevitably though, this plan will backfire. Soon you will find yourself stealing glances—increasingly obviously. You really should stop staring. Except her eyes, they’re the real problem. Each forms a pale question mark and you can’t help but want to answer.

Which brings me onto rule three: the secrets to the universe will never lie in some girl’s eyes, so stop trying to find them there.

From the cafe window you can see a little garden. It’s beautiful there—the way young branches twist into each other. This is rule number four. Get out into the world. Realize there are other precious things. Move on. Try not to notice when she moves on too.

Rule number five is the hardest, but the most necessary. Cry. Cry hard. Cry when you realize mental rules aren’t a good way to go about handling a schoolgirl crush.

Let all your pent-up frustration boil down from your eyes. Did you know the amygdala is the part of your brain responsible for all the stress you’re feeling? Wonder which part is responsible for your love of trees, of philosophy. Or which part makes you love in the first place. Realize it doesn’t matter.

Let go.

About Cybella Maffitt

Third Place


Funeral hymn for a lost toy

Cybella Maffitt, Year 13, St. Cuthbert’s College, Auckland


I want to become divine. Purified. Achingly feminine. I will sew my hands together close into prayer with mom’s red thread, the kind we keep in our old cookie tin. I will lick the sugar off the string, join flesh to cloth, and it will be beautiful.

Last month I dropped my doll down the drain and watched the edges of her pour through the grate. Felt my fingers burst against metal as I scraped her back together. Last month I watched my girlishness kiss each bleeding knuckle and learn to rebuild.

You must understand that we are fixers by birth. Understand that I have held needles underneath my fingernails for years.

You know somewhere now a girl is stitching the screaming parts of her brothers back together, somewhere a girl is lining her house with close knots and praying they hold fast. Somewhere I am kneeling and I am embroidering oblations to any god. I will beg for restoration.

Last year I watched my grandmother fall and no matter the force I could not scrape her back together. Last year I saw my mother’s chest torn with the grief of it.
They say the key to even stitches lies in the practice. Like anything else you improve over time. Soon the lines in your thumb become a ruler and muscles begin to remember routine. Soon your body understands this new devotion.

Sometimes I think we’ve lined the entire goddamn world with thread.

About Cybella Maffitt

Highly Commended

No Need

Hannah Daniell


The raven is a symbol of death. Of darkness, doubt, destruction, depression.
The raven is an outdated metaphor.
Now we have chokers.
We have old beat up leather jackets paired with old jeans.
We have electric guitars that hang on walls and around necks, painted black and never played.
We have no need to write poetry to be repressed poets anymore.
We have scars on wrists under stretched out hoodie sleeves. We have despondent eyes under flat brim caps. We have twisted mouths holding fake cigarettes and holding back tears.
We have not become a generation in need of ravens. We have burned the books and used them to light our own rebellions. We have our own language now.
We have our own language now, scrawling poems over distressed brick walls, distressed with our own existence. We have neon stained fingers, biting back the biting cold with the heat of resistance. We have taken colours back. We have made words into weapons and they cannot take our words.
We have words spanning continents, spanning languages. We have words made powerful by a #. We have power in numbers, power in #s. We have power and power breeds envy and envy breeds destruction.
The raven is a symbol of destruction. Of death, of depression.
We have no need of ravens.
We are ravens enough.

About Hannah Daniell

Noisy Silence

Maia Ingoe, Year 13, Gisborne Girls’ High School, Gisborne


Flicker, flicker. The lights flicker, flicker.
They are far up, above her body. They fly past her, a swirling swarm around her head. She lies still.
She doesn’t feel too good. Maybe it’s the hospital bed. It’s white and it rustles like straw.
Clack, clack. Footsteps. There is a man in a blue coat. No, white coat. White coat.
“How are you feeling?”
Flicker, flicker.
“You’re in safe hands now.”
Flicker, flicker.
“I’m sorry about what happened to you.”
She rolls over. Rustle, rustle, go the sheets. She doesn’t want to hear any more.
“You can’t help me.”
White coat leaves.
She looks around. There is a window, clear, clean. She walks over to it. Her footsteps don’t make noise. Closed. Locked. Puts her palm on the glass. It’s icy. An icy stab.
There is a world out there. A world full of people and places and sights and smells and sounds and tastes and feeling. It buzzes and shakes. Cars drive in circles like black and white butterflies.
“Do you know me?” She asks. It replies in voices and footsteps and hoots.
Not anymore, they say.
Flicker, flicker.
She goes back to the rustle-sheets bed. Something clicks. Beep. Laughter. A reassuring hum.
How did she get here?
It was dark. It was cold. It was at the lake. Headlights flash. Blinding. Someone giggles. A greedy slurp. She is walking. Crunch, crunch. Water. Splash. Icy shock. It soaks into her jeans. She smiles. She hasn’t felt alive for a long while. Squelch between her toes. Ripple. Cold. Peace. Watch me, city. Watch me.
But she isn’t there. Now she is here on the rustling bed and the soft deep voices twist her head and the lights flicker sharp flicker and the city isn’t watching anymore.
Flicker, flicker.

About Maia Ingoe

Taking Shape

Alice Hoerara-Hunt


Smiles beat down on me like a hot day. A nurse lingers, leaning against the far wall.
I reach for a memory and begin to remember.
Mud all around. The trench flooding. Soldiers pushing past as they retreat. I wince. Warm, sticky blood trickles down my calf and into the muck. I grunt and look around. Smoke and gunfire scramble through the mist with no direction. Adrenaline takes over. I snatch a rifle from a faceless body and head towards the fight.
“Wrong decision, pal. We’re lost,” somebody yells, as I check the weapon. I climb the ladder and head towards the enemy. Shells explode behind me. I plead with my legs to run faster. I see a silhouette, illuminated in the mist and smoke. I crouch and fire. A shape falls. I pick another target, ready to take another life. I squeeze the trigger.
I am on my knees, gazing up at the sky. The mist parts and a flock of geese fly through the gap. I study their perfect triangle as the explosions fade. I grin. I never knew geese did that. I close my eyes and listen as the birds grow more distant.
I release my grip and the memory withers.
My parents are chatting quietly. I look up at them, waiting for them to notice. I try to hold something but I am empty, an attic in a house with no furniture.
I am cold. My mother wraps a baby blanket around me. It is so warm and soft. There is a pattern on the front. Familiar birds flying towards me. I giggle.

About Alice Hoerara-Hunt



Cleaning Clouds

Zoe Congalton, Year 9, Havelock North High School, Hawkes Bay


I am lying on the cushioning grass one afternoon when I notice some angry white splotches littering the sky. Hmph. I’d better clean them away, just like daddy did when I spilt my milk all over the table. I remember what he used, so this is what I fetch from the shed. A bucket filled with soapy water and a nice big scrubbing brush. I spilt a little water but there’s still enough to dip the brush in. I reach up as high as I can, but I soon find out I can’t reach high enough. Hmph.

I walk back into the shed to find a little ladder I’ve seen daddy use to wipe the roof of my room. I bring this back to the messy area, placing it under the dirtiest spot.

Again I dip my brush into the soapy water, this time walking up the few steps to the top of the ladder. I reach my hand way up into the sky, standing up on my tip toes. I still can’t reach up to scrub the annoying big white spots. Hmph.

My very last idea is something I’ve only seen daddy doing once, but I really have to clean the sky so it’s blue again. I go back into the shed, hauling the huge ladder out after me. I carefully lean it up against the shed but it’s on so much of a lean. I decide to push it up until it is completely upright. Perfect. I dip my scrubbing brush into the water before starting to climb the ladder. Each rung is so much work. When I finally get to the top, I reach up right on my tippy toes. Almost there. I feel the ladder starting to lean backwards. Uh oh.

About Zoe Congalton

I Hope the Others Sang

Derrin Smith, Year 11, Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery, Christchurch


It had been a long walk. So long that our heels would have bled if it weren’t for our shoes. We all knew that the lake house had to be close by; the sky had turned over to darkness. Even if we thought our teacher may have been a ghoul we knew he wouldn’t have us walk for long at night. Our group had split in two somewhere along the path, for a reason I didn’t know. There was a whisper though, that along this path it was safer to be small.

My friends and I had taken to singing to keep our minds off our feet. It was also in the hopes that joyful and almost on key music would endear us to the little blinks of light that fluttered about. The tunes started to falter by the time we’d seen the moon rise. We were cold, tired, and lacking material to sing about now that all we had was the light of our torches.

It was when I looked up to the sky to see the moon winking at me that the noise began. I was the first to comprehend it; a soft and delightful song that sounded like raindrops creating ripples.

“Mermaids!” I cried. “The lake must be close.”

A moment after the news sank in we began the race. And the singing must have served both its purposes because none of us tripped or got lost in the scramble out of the woods, not even in the dark.

About Derrin Smith

Il faut laisser aller le monde comme il va

Cybella Maffitt, Year 13, St. Cuthbert’s College, Auckland


The gumball rolled slowly down its track: languid and teasing the eyes of the toddler pressed up against the machine’s glass. With a solid sound it hit the end and was eagerly snapped up by its owner.

Roughly half-dollar sized, sickly sweet, and a near-impossibly brilliant shade of pink, it grew in the child’s hands as she clutched it. Here was the world, ripe for her taking, in all of its fluorescent glory. Her fingers tighten around it.

She can see little cities in its pink spots. She’d like to imagine herself as its queen: a benevolent giantess. Kissing-pink, it seems to float, a balloon, to lift her.

Walking down the street a thin sheen of sweat begins to collect on the outside, and the gumball slips through the cage of her fingers, pink disappearing into the depths of the storm drain beside her.

She turns back, empty handed, grabs another quarter, and returns to the machine.

The next one is blue.

About Cybella Maffitt

Psycho Steve

Simon Brown, Victoria University, Wellington


Tatty tartan blankets billow in the cold morning breeze. Cheap leather boots so worn down that grimy brown toes are visible through cavernous holes in the soles. A stripy pork pie hat upturned on the ground, bare of a single coin or note.

Sad eyes empty and lost.

He sits outside the front of our school each morning, cross legged and hopeful, as we all walk past on the way to our first class. The other boys laugh at his croaky, high-pitched voice. His crooked yellow teeth. His crusty unkempt beard.

Behind closed doors they make up stories. They call him a drug addict, a rapist, a pedophile. All the while giggling and sneering as they stab away at their iPhones and adjust their designer clothing. They concoct nasty names like ‘Psycho Steve’ and ‘Hobo Hank’.

Because none of them can ever be bothered to ask him his real name.

But when everyone’s filed into assembly and there’s no one around to see, I sit and watch him. Watch as he picks up his pork pie hat, painfully brings himself to his feet and brushes himself down. Then as I walk past I pass him a sandwich from my lunch box and give him a nod.

He simply smiles.

Then one day he isn’t there. The spot outside the front of the school looks barren and lifeless.. The other boys think nothing of it and eventually the jokes die out, leaving ‘Psycho Steve’ as no more than a distant memory.

But I can’t help but think. I miss that tartan blanket billowing in the breeze. Those battered brown boots. Even that strangely comforting croaky voice asking for money. For food. For anything. I can’t help but think: Where is he now?

About Simon Brown

Short list

Art is Dead

Lily Deuchars, Hagley College, Christchurch


The forest is almost silent. A light breeze brushes against my skin, like a paintbrush leaving a trail of goosebumps in its wake. The air here is nothing like the air in the city – it’s fresher, it makes me feel real. The grass folds under the pressure of my boot, creating an imprint of my presence here, it won’t last, the canvas of the forest does not change for long; I am only temporary. The shadows cast on the pine needles and leaves loom larger with each passing second, the sky now a heavily used colour palette of reds, yellows and oranges, a by-product of art that is never recognized as anything more than a waste. Time is against me like a knife, I would rather not deal with the consequence of non-compliance. I tread forward, deeper into the wood; the dusk has nearly been broken through. I grab my shovel and look around, paranoia of witnesses still heavy in my mind despite the complete isolation surrounding me. No one would ever understand the true beauty of my actions. I take a slow breath and prepare for the night. Nature owes us no promises, I am not guaranteed the view of the dawn; but I must stay, for as long as it takes. This body won’t bury itself. It’s tragic, how the world will never know firsthand the beauty of death, how short one’s string can be severed, how years of memories can be compacted into a pile of torn flesh and blood. They fear it. And as such I must bury my masterpieces. The world looks down on my creative mind, but mother earth holds my works tight to her chest and treasures them. One day she will treasure me too. She’s the only one that will.

About Lily Deuchars

The Last Voyage

Sarah-Kate Simons, Year 10, homeschooled, Southbridge, Canterbury


Once the rudder was secured, it should’ve been an easy thing to get the boat going straight.

The waves had grown in the wake of the stiff wind from the east, setting the little boat jerking and going where ever it wanted.

Tyra was small, with thin arms and legs and barely any meat on her from years of near starvation. There was no strength in her to fight to keep the rudder straight.

It jerked to and fro under her emaciated hands, tossing her about the boat. Now the water was vomiting over the sides and collecting in the bottom.

She dearly wished she’d had the sense to invite Diree along. Diree, with his strong arms from years of fishing for those terrible sharks that were the Bay’s only source of meat, could control a boat this size even in a thunderstorm.

The water swallowed her feet now, and the wind showed no sign of abating. If it grew much worse it would take hold of the unsteady sail and flip both boat and passenger into the deeps.

Perhaps this hadn’t been the right way to come at all. Maybe the true answer really was back on the cliff face with Diree and the egret nests, but now the Bay had shrunk from sight and the only way left was forward.

The Bay had nothing for her anymore. The only hope lay back across the wide water where Mother had come from all those many solstices ago. Maybe Diree would have the courage to find her there one day if she survived. If she waited for him long enough he’d come.

Unless this journey ended with a wrecked boat on jagged rocks and Tyra’s bones taken to bed with the bleached coral at the bottom of the sea.

About Sarah-Kate Simons


Phoebe Robertson, Katikati College, Bay Of Plenty


Sandy said she was fine to drive.
We were all muddled, our thoughts swirling around our minds in a whirlpool, bashing against our skulls and distorting into something else by the time registered.
Sandy’s fine.
We all pile into her old Corolla. Battered red and with dents like decorations all over.
I giggle. She did one bashing into my ute in the school parking lot. Pop threw a fit, threatened to get the belt out.
To her.
To me.
Mum got called in before that. Yelling obscenities, they erupted like thunder, crashing about the house. Foundations shook as their lightning bolts collided.
Pop left after that.
Mum stayed.
Alcohol numbs the pain.
Sandy starts the car up.
Wind slicks our hair back.
Faded beams hit the road.
One goes out.
Sandy keeps driving.
Going much too fast around the corners, our bodies pile on top of each other, creating crush barriers instead of seatbelts.
Someone starts singing along to the pop song on the radio.
It gets cranked up.
It’s almost as loud as their fight.
Nothing makes sense.
There’s a light ahead.
No one seems to notice.
Not Sandy, she’s got a boy attached to her neck.
The light gets closer.
I wonder what my Pop is doing now?
The girl next to me places a hand in my lap.
I drag my eyes from where they were glued to the light, looking at her smudged makeup and dark eyes.
My lips rise in the corners.
That’s when the light connects.
Sandy said she was fine to drive.

About Phoebe Robertson

Selections from the long list


The Pact

Jasmine Ryan, Year 12, Ellesmere College, Selwyn, Canterbury


“But what if we don’t make it?” I whispered. The conversation had all come down to this, the juicy part, the part where we stopped shouting and talked to each other like we’re real humans with feelings. I swallowed the lump bobbing in my throat, trying not to think of how much this all meant.

“Make it through what, Cass?” he asked softly.

“What if we don’t make it through the night where we decide to take a drive to our favourite place to look at constellations in the stars because we argue about which one’s the best?” I said. “Or what if we don’t make it through dinner because we can’t decide who’s paying? Or meeting your parents, because one of them judges me too harshly, and you have an argument with your dad and we decide that if we can’t last that then we’ll never last a lifelong bond? What if we aren’t strong enough?”

I watched intently as Lucas sucked a breath in and then let it sigh out, long and thoughtful as he stared at me with eyes full of meaning. And in that moment I knew, no matter how he answered, that our bond was forever unbreakable – because Lucas was carefully considering my words, which meant that he understood the commitment that love was. The last person I had said those words to had laughed in my face.

That night we drove to our favourite spot and pointed out the constellations, and the next day we went to dinner, and a week later I met his parents. And we made it through.

About Jasmine Ryan


Shima Jack, Dunedin


“They’re coming” is all it reads.
I am still.
Did I write this?
I shake my head. I watch too many movies. I screw up the note and toss it into the bin.
Halfway through putting on a t-shirt, I pause. The house seems too quiet. Slowly, I pull the shirt on, listening.
I leave the room, my footsteps soft on the stairs. For some reason, I skip the creaky ones. The kitchen slowly comes into view through a crack in the door. My mother stands with her back to me. The door squeaks as I push it open.
Mum spins around so fast her coffee nearly spills.
“Morning, honey!” she beams hugely. “Toast?”
I smile back, sliding onto a stool. “Yes, please! Why are you so happy today?”
She pauses, stares into my eyes. “I’m always happy.”
“Good morning, love!” My dad bursts in, kisses my mum on the cheek. I grin weakly at them.
I’ve never seen them do that before.
My little brother slides onto a stool, places a Hotwheels car on the bench.
“Vrooom!” He drives the car up the outside of a cereal box.
He hasn’t touched that since I gave it to him at Christmas. I laugh when he drops it into the box.
I check my watch.
“Uh oh, better rush!” I grab my bag.
“Honey, wait! You’ve gotta eat!” My mum calls out after me.
I grab the toast off my plate and bite into it.
“I’m eating, see?” I say, muffled.
Mum smiles, satisfied. “See you later, darling!”
“See you later!” My brother and dad echo.
“Bye!” I call.
I close the door behind me and promptly spit the toast into the bushes. I frantically wash my mouth out.
I lean my back against the door, my heart thudding.
They’re here.

About Shima Jack


Monica Koster


The jolt of pain strips my focus. He’s drunk. Again. His fist strikes, blotching my skin purple, blue… and I take it. It’s never been the same since Mum left. He looks at me, glassy eyed, like he doesn’t recognise me.

He staggers, reaching for a wall – a chance for me to recollect my thoughts. I don’t want to be here. I need air.

The front door swings, a breeze wafting through the pandemonium. Dad is slumped against the hallway, beer-soaked shirt clinging to his skin, stubble scattered across his chin like gravel. His hair is plastered to his forehead: sweat, the binding agent.

I see the bruises littering my skin, and all forgiving thoughts are erased. The door beckons, and I run.

“Whaterya doing?”

Ignoring the distant cries, I sprint down the street.

BANG! I flinch. A car door. My breath catches, but it’s not him. I choke on raspy breaths, slamming my bare feet into the ground, an inconsistent rhythm. Like a kite tail, my dark hair sails on the night behind me. The stillness captivates me, and I realise the incredible feat I have undertaken.

My focus becomes set.

Drizzle and the bite of night settles in. Puddles create an obstacle course. I syncopate my steps to avoid wet feet. On grass verges, neglected mattresses collect the sudden shower. Rivulets dribble off my nose, cleansing. They taste of freedom.

My arms slice the air. I become one with the ground. I calm, my breath is controlled. My legs flow over the tarseal; I begin to feel a pulse in the air around me, vibrato in my bones. A rhythm that only running can create.

I’ve been set free.


This is me.

About Monica Koster

Tasty Things

Jordon Payne, Hagley College, Christchurch


Such a feast like this always dawns my table at night, my guests always quiet, with just the soft whistle of the wind outside. Everything tastes great, my guests always agree, having no choice but to do so. The texture was just amazing; enough to make you salivate at the mouth, my guests never agreed, they always found it horrifying. The smell was unpleasant, I’ll say that, coppery smells weren’t easy to get rid of when it came to using air fresheners.

Such a feast like this is always hard to find. Different suppliers have to be observed, see if they have any unhealthy habits that could make the meat tastier, make sure they don’t have any diseases that can be caught through eating their flesh; even selecting them whenever there is someone to eliminate. Just looking at me could guarantee that you’re invited to next week’s dinner.

It is quite rare for me to feel sympathy, it’s not even a word I use often. I may pity someone, but the thought on the front of my mind is always about how full and satisfied I will be at the end of my meal.

About Jordon Payne

Ten Went Before Nine

Derrin Smith, Year 11, Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery, Christchurch


Nine goes after eight, and before ten. Henry can knock down nine pins in ten-pin bowling with the sides raised. Henry is nine. Nine is the number on the clock blinking in red. No one knows it, but nine is also the number of times Henry has started shaking within the last minute.

The number changes to eight. Henry knows something is wrong but if he’s being honest with himself, which as a child is all he can be, seeing eight go after nine makes it worse. Mrs Beater never counted down in class and the only time he himself ever counted down was on New Year’s Eve. No one was crying then.

Two blinks and seven gulps to stop his tears later, the number is changing to six. He lost seven somewhere in the breaths he was drawing in. He likes breathing, Henry decides. Even if it is rather fast-paced and unhelpful when it comes to not crying. What he doesn’t like is red. Someone told his mother he was going red while he was busy missing seven.

No one tells him what they’re counting down to, which Henry knows is for a stupid reason like his age. He thinks it would help to understand why his father pales at number five. The red number five. Henry hates red.

He thinks then about numbers not on the clock; the numbers are red and he needs to stop being red. Ten is his favourite number. Mrs Beater said it’s the easiest times table to learn. It’s also how old Sarah is. Where is his sister? Henry looks up, looking less red, to spot Sarah standing next to the clock. She’s staring at number one.

About Derrin Smith

The Flower Bed

Oliver Kirke, Year 8, Grantlea Downs School, Timaru


HELLO? Are you gonna let me out? Please let me out.
Ooh here she is. Let me out, let me out.
Breakfast! Yes! I love food.
I’ll just quickly eat this then go see the new violets she planted yesterday.
Ooh these are the life. They are soft and smooth against my back.
Looks like she wants to play. Is that steam coming out of her ears? Look at her teeth. They are not there. I think they are worse than mine.
“Do you want to come and lie down on this bed made of violets? They feel lovely.”
Oh no! More gums showing. I’m just asking. Here, I’ll get one of the violets for you so you can see for yourself.
So do you want to play or not? I think you do. I’m hungry.
Oh look. Friends. Better go and say hello because that’s what friends do.
“Do you want to come and lie down on this bed made of violets with me? They feel like my fluffy smelly blanket.”
“Come follow me.”
Oh. She seems happy. She might want to dig a hole with me. My friends will be up to it. I’m hungry.
“Come on Benny. No more digging in Maka’s garden. Let’s go for a walk.”
Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. I am hungry.

About Oliver Kirke

The Man in the Window

Zoe Congalton, Year 9, Havelock North High School, Hawkes Bay


When I walk home from school everyday, I see a man. He stands in his window like a portrait on a wall. So still. So blank. I always smile politely at him but the man never shows any sign of me even existing. I feel that this is very rude, and today I’ve decided to do something about it. I walk towards the window as confidently as possible, very difficult with your heart drumming inside your chest. The man’s focus is on a point somewhere behind me as I tap loudly on the glass. The expression he wears never changes but my frustration fades so quickly at the sorrow buried deep in his eyes.

I breathe onto the glass and write ‘iH’ on the fogged patch. He nods his head in reply. I continue the introduction with ‘ɘmɒn ɿυoγ ƨ’ɈɒʜW’. It takes me so long to work out what each letter looks like backwards, so I spend almost five minutes carefully writing the one sentence. He shakes his head. I realise I have to ask closed questions.

xɒM ɘmɒn ɿυoγ ƨI
ƨi ɘniM
ɘmoʜ oϱ oɈ ɘvɒʜ I
The next day I keep checking the clock on the wall in my classroom for the time. When the bell finally rings, I run all the way to his house.
υoγ oɈ nɘqqɒʜ ϱniʜɈɘmoƨ biႧ
ϱnoɿw ϱniʜɈɘmoƨ ob υoγ biႧ
ɘm ɿoʇ ϱniɈiɒw ƨ’mυm γM
I come back again the next day with an idea.
ϱniʜɈɘmoƨ ɘʞɒɈ υoγ biႧ
wonʞ ɘɔiloq ɘʜɈ oႧ
noƨiɿq oɈ nɘɘd υoγ ɘvɒH
I abandon the closed question strategy.
ɘʞɒɈ υoγ bib ɈɒʜW

For the first and only time, he breaths lightly on the glass and writes two words.
Their lives.

About Zoe Congalton

The Minute

Chloe Morrison-Clarke, Year 8, Casebrook Intermediate School, Christchurch


In the space of time she was asked to wait, seconds felt like an eternity.
In that minute, the sun rose, set, and cast its gorgeous rays over the parched grass.
In that minute, the earth completed its orbit and smiled over at the moon.
In that minute, plot holes sagged with disappointment at what the characters were soon to discover, evil villains were born, killed, and reborn, in the space of the minute.
Moon quaked in anticipation of Sun, the galaxy was swallowed by a black hole, a mighty hero saved the world as we know it. All in the space of one dreadful minute.
After several thousand eternities had elapsed, a harsh voice pierced her train of thought.
“Grace Simmons? Yes, the principal would like to talk to you now.” Harsh eyebrows scrutinized her carefully.
With eyes downcast, Grace Simmons trudged into the office.

About Chloe Morrison-Clarke

Tones of Blue

Chloe Morrison-Clarke, Year 8, Casebrook Intermediate School, Christchurch


My birth was surrounded by concerned whispers and soft footfalls. I saw parted lips but heard nothing. My cries were knives in the soft fabric of the night, piercing those who had the ability to hear. I only felt the vibrations, buzzing like electricity through my small body.

When I was 6, I began to play the flute, my breath dancing across the lip plate. I had to use all the breath in my chest for a single note, wondering if the sharp sound could possibly penetrate my eardrums and lift the cloak of silence from my world.

I had been at it a whole year before I could play a tune (something I took my teacher’s word for). My fingers waltzed up and down the elongated body of my instrument, tapping out the notes.

“Blue” I said. “Blue.” I could feel it in my bones, blue, blue, blue. It came with the tune, diving in and out of the short piece of music like a happy seal.

Each night after that, the radio swirled with colours, beautiful renditions of sparkle and vibrancy. I would marvel at the colour flashing before my eyes and the ache down in my bones that said blue, blue, blue, green, sparkle.

About Chloe Morrison-Clarke


Rebecca Wilkins


The changing room itself is a contemporary piece of art; a smorgasbord of flavours and ingredients. “Be Yourself,” one wall boldly proclaims, whilst another has doubly colourful words in bubbly writing. J + M, cradled by the outline of a heart, is crudely carved into one wooden bench. Clumps of wilted grass and the muddy stamps of football boots litter the floor, telling the story of the last visitors. And in the centre of the chaos is the sock.

It lies there, crumpled up on the floor. Soaking wet. A half separated from its whole. I can see a hole right through its centre; a gaping hole in its heart.

The memory comes to mind, and I shudder. I try not to think about that chilly winter morning, when the wet grass was tattooed with the imprints of authoritative boots. When the police officer’s words bit harder than the sharp air, the separation unbearable. The car, lying on its side. The stains of splattered blood. The body bag, subtly swept to the corner of the scene.

My tears flow freely in the solitude of the changing room. The sock has been abandoned. Left behind, just like me. Forlornly waiting for its other half that it will never meet again.

About Rebecca Wilkins

What Charlie Left

Simon Brown, Victoria University, Wellington


Not sure I can remember the last time I saw Charlie. Must have been over thirty years ago by now but I try not to think about it. I still see his face though, etched into my goddamn brain. And I tell you what, there’s no way it’s ever getting it out. He left me a lot of things, but that wasn’t something I wanted.

Really not keen on the forty gallons of frozen orange juice concentrate stored under my bed either. So many of milk cartons of the foul stuff all lined up in neat little rows reminds me too much of napalm and gunfire ringing in my ears. The all too familiar smell of burning corpses. Panicked screams.

Not to mention Charlie’s face. Right as the life drained out of it.

I slowly fill a large gardening bucket with siphoned gasoline and place it under the kitchen sink. The fumes fill my nostrils once more and it’s enough to bring back images of rice fields on fire. Of twisting vines. Of jungle so dense it blocks out the sun itself. Like our hopes are being snuffed out before our eyes.

That’s mostly what Charlie left me. Memories and scars. Like the whole sky burning in an inferno before me, with glowing leaves tumbling around charred trees and legs splayed at the knees like a scarecrow’s arms.

Muddy boots filled with razor-wire and mutilated feet.

Waking violently, I wipe away the icicles of sweat hanging from my wide eyes and the tears pouring down my disfigured cheeks. Under my bed, survivor’s guilt hides from the world, cowering beside litres of that sweet citrus concoction. But only one thought comforts me as I lie there wrapped in nightmares.

We almost had ’em. Charlie doesn’t know how lucky they were.

About Simon Brown

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