Congratulations to St Clare’s High School Taree’s Year Eight student, Yolanta Guthridge, who received an excellence award in the Great Lakes Advocate’s inaugural Tell Me A Story competition.
Over the coming weeks the GLA will publish a range of outstanding stories entered in the competition.
This is Yolanta’s story.
Arwen was on puppet strings. It could’ve been bad – it should’ve been bad, but it wasn’t. She was floating, flying through the air. She didn’t know who was controlling her, but she didn’t care. It was beautiful.
But it couldn’t last. She saw it – the black fraying at the edge of her vision. She knew what it meant but couldn’t recall it. She also knew that the floating was going to end soon. Arwen sighed. It always ended. But then she noticed the red blossoms. Not flowers, but blood.
She soared to the ground at lightning speed. Please no!
She wanted it to end now – she knew what was going to happen. A screech emanated behind her. She leapt forward, soaring 20 metres, the puppet strings aiding her. The air whooshed behind her, and she turned, but the creature had already gone. She jumped further, seeing a door ahead. It had appeared out of nowhere, but that made sense now, as she knew what this was; a dream.
Just as she reached the door, a hand grabbed her and imprisoned her, her outstretched hand a centimetre from the doorhandle. She shrieked and pivoted to shove it away, but it wasn’t a monster – it was a boy of about 17.
“Listen!” He said. “Wake up. Wake up now!”
“I’m trying! She protested, attempting to wrench her arm away from his.
“No. Wake up fully.” Another screech. “If you don’t wake up now, we’ll die.”
She glared at him. “But I don’t know who you are!” She cried.
“It doesn’t matter,” he broke off. “It’s too late. They’re here.” He looked her directly in the eyes and said, “I’ll be dead long before you wake up.”
And the monster’s claws pierced her heart.
Arwen jolted awake. Her heart was hammering. It’s only a dream. It hadn’t felt real – she knew that. She had been lying here, in her bed, the entire time. It’s only a dream.
9:00 found her at school. She stopped as her friend Kaya bounded over.
“Hey Arwen, what’s up?”
“Cool with me.”
“You’ll never guess what happened!”
Arwen sighed internally as she prepared to hear the latest hot gossip. Every other girl in the school was gossiping to her friends – all they cared about were celebrities.
She liked Kaya, but she was so shallow!
“Someone had an affair with aliens?” She said sarcastically.
“No! Of course not! Honestly, you can be so thick sometimes! Anyway, these two hot celebrities – that you probably don’t know, you rock dweller – got married, but the guy was cheating! And the article was traumatising, I was crying...”
Arwen tuned out. There were more important things to worry about, like the maths test – she frowned. Was there a maths test? She checked her timetable. She didn’t even have maths. She turned to tell Kaya that something didn’t feel quite right, but the bell rang before she could. Thank goodness for that. She thought; Kaya’s blabber was over. Now I can get on with my day.
Arwen plonked down at a table with Kaya and buried her face in a sandwich to muffle her friend’s commentary of her Instagram. She looked up for a moment, and the sandwich dropped from her hands. She hadn’t been able to place her finger on it before, but now she knew what was wrong.
Like she had seen before, every girl was blabbering to her friends about the latest gossip. But what she hadn’t seen, was that they were all the same. Every single girl was a perfect copy of Kaya, and every girl talking back was the same identical girl wearing designer clothes.
They were all copies. The edges of everything turned white, and she couldn’t see any details. Mist covered the horizon. Something creaked, and Arwen whirled to see the dream boy next to her. “Wake up!” He yelled. “Wake up now!”
She gaped at him.
“I will be dead, long before you wake up!” He screamed.
Arwen sat bolt upright. She’d had many of these dreams lately; they began like a normal school day but became increasingly unrealistic until she realised she was dreaming, and the boy came and told her to wake up.
She walked into the kitchen to pour herself some cereal and stopped dead.
“It’s you!” She gasped. The boy had his feet kicked up on the table like he owned the place.
“Me.” He agreed.’
“But you’re real!” She gasped, looking around wildly. It seemed like it was real; but then again, all the dreams did.
“I don’t have time for this!” He said. “You’ve been asleep too long – you’ll die!” He looked at her meaningfully. “And I will too.”
“Why do you keep saying that?” Arwen pried. “Every time; wake up, I’m going to die.
“I don’t have time!” He cried. “Just wake up!”
“But I am awake! There’s enough details...” But she trailed off, noticing that they were disappearing rapidly. “But what do you mean? Every time I think I’ve woken up, it’s only another dream! And you’re there every time! How do I wake up? How will I know?”
“You wake up by seeing the detail. You wake up by knowing that it’s fake. I can help you. And you’ll know you’re awake when you- “
Arwen sat up rapidly, and nearly brained herself on the wall.
It was only a dream.
She pinched herself. The pain was real. The dream wasn’t.
She was in the kitchen, making breakfast, about to pour herself a bowl of cereal –
How did I get here? A moment ago, I was in my room... I don’t remember walking here. It’s almost like a dream... She gasped and scanned the room. Everything was perfectly ordinary, extreme details, there was nothing wrong.
My parents! In my dreams, they’re never here! And they’re not here now.
But the white streaks weren’t appearing. They just weren’t there. But the red streaks were. She shrieked.
“Help me!” She screamed. “Help!”
A shadow crossed into the room. It stole towards her and raised its claws, preparing for the kill.
She raised an arm, but it didn’t stop the claws from cleaving her head from her shoulders.
When she woke up, it was slowly this time. Her head hurt, and her vision was blurred.
“It’s the second time they’ve got you.” A voice said. “You need to wake up. Now.”
The boy stood up. “You can’t let them kill you again – we’ll both die.” He sighed. “I don’t have time to explain, but you need to wake up.”
He smiled. “I think you already know.”
Arwen woke up several more times, but nothing lasted long.
“Congratulations.” The boy said. “You only have to wake up one more time. Then you’ll really be awake.“
Glass smashed as a shadow burst through the window. The boy grabbed Arwen and pulled her up out the door. The house disappeared; the world was a blanket of white.
She sprinted ahead, and the boy followed. The dream was fading, but not fast enough. The shadow reached out and grabbed the first thing it found: the boy.
In seconds, he was on the ground. The shadow stood for a moment, as if savouring its victory.
The boy smiled. “I’ll be dead long before you wake up.”
And the dream vanished.
The world blinked its way into existence, and Arwen knew that this time, she was truly awake.
“Oh, thank God!” A voice sobbed, tears marring the words. Arwen recognised the voice.
“Mum?” The woman hugged her, and a man on Arwen’s other side was crying softly.
She was in a hospital bed, in... a coma ward?
Her mother nodded. “You were out for three months. It looked like you were going to die, and then he came.” She nodded towards a bed on the left, and it was then that Arwen heard the flatlining. Without even looking, she knew who it was.
“After you overdosed, you were just getting worse and worse. The doctors worked away, and they said that soon you would be recovering. But you didn’t. You stayed asleep.
“But he came, like a miracle. And we don’t know how, but he said he could save you, and he did. The doctors argued, but we thought it could be our only hope. We insisted. He sat on the bed next to yours, and he asked the doctors to knock him out.
They agreed, and within a day, you were already better. Another week, and here we are.” Tears streamed down her face. “We don’t know what he did, but he did something.”
“And he’s dead now.” Arwen said. Her mother nodded.
Arwen looked over at his bed. The machine was still flatlining.
Thank you. I will never give up again, I will never wish to die again. No matter how long it takes to recover, I will not give up.
And I will always look for the details.