Velvet writing Competition



Elspeth Lee

8am on a school day in November – it’s getting late to think about a swim. Sabrina’s hot in the sun on the veranda steps. Not January-hot, where she wakes up feeling like her mum’s occasionally over-steamed spinach, but hot enough. Plus, there’s something drifting towards her, a change maybe. She wants to catch the thought, or whatever it is, and work it out.

Wait til no cars are in sight. Tippy-toe over bitumen then faded sand. Running into the surf in her PJs, she leans into the waves and submerges. Two lungfuls of air get driven out by the cold. Her skin becomes a stinging border between her body and the ocean, a stronger reminder than usual that there’s Sabrina and not-Sabrina. The cold drowns out the To Do list buzzing in Sabrina’s brain: chem assignment, resume, reply to Eliza and Shahan, hang out with Tristan, mow lawn. Gone.

Kicking across the waves, she pulls herself past the break. Sabrina’s a seal corkscrewing through the water. She gets warmer with every dive, yoyo-ing between the surface and the seafloor.

Sabrina loops once, twice, and freezes, body dangling from nothing. A particle suspended in a saltwater solution, her chem teacher would say. Eyes open, she watches shreds of seaweed floating in the blue light. The current nudges her legs and arranges her hair. The thought of the resume arrives and drifts away, its urgency as muffled as the breaking waves. Nearly there. Fish zigzag along the ocean floor. Tristan. He’s gonna break up with me. The part of Sabrina that was listening, agrees. The girl and the water are the same temperature. She’ll feel sad later. At the moment, the water feels so velvety against her skin, it feels like nothing.

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Reilly Baum

I sped down the halls, my feet slapping the concrete. Abstract faces warped with fear peered out at me before moving to hide behind their gilded frames.

I ran on. I could hear the Artists following. They were in no hurry; they knew there was no way I could escape.

My footsteps echoed through the endless space, the halls hung with intricate designs. The Gallery was forbidden to everyone but the Artists. It was the most important rule we were taught, a rule that no one dared break. Until me.

I wanted to see the paintings, their endless array of colour. The bridge between our world and The Other, the infinite complexity of each and every piece so rich and vibrant they hummed with life.

I skidded to a halt at the end of the hall. An enormous wall loomed before me, and on it hung a canvas awash with pulsing, rolling ocean blue. I turned to face the way I’d come. The Artists had caught up, I could see them at the end of the hall. Great, gangly figures whose features morphed and shimmered with every movement. They rolled in like smoke, coming to a halt in front of me – my time was up. I backed slowly towards the canvas, afraid to touch it despite knowing what was about to happen. The leader of the Artists, Apollo, took a step towards me. He grinned as he outstretched one shadowy arm preparing to shove me into the canvas. The canvas, where i’d be trapped for all of eternity as a painting in The Other.

I knew what I had to do. I turned to face the canvas, allowing myself one last moment to admire its magnificence.

Finally, I lifted my arms and dived in. 

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Ruby Jeffries

I’m being stalked. 

I knew I shouldn’t be out, it was 10pm and I had school tomorrow, but my parents were fighting always…

A cough sounds behind me and I spin around, faster than a hurricane. But only a small girl stands beside me, ‘the new girl’ everyone calls her. She had appeared in the dead of the night on the beach, someone had found her there, soaked, climbing out of the water. No one knows how she got there, and she won’t say…

I look at her, dappled in the moonlight, and I realise how pretty she is, despite what everyone says. 

“Why are you here?” I demand.

“Same as you…” Her voice has a floaty quality, like she’s off thinking about something else.

“What do you think?” I’m curious, but also slightly scared of what she might say. 

“My parents are arguing, same as yours.”

“How do you know this?!” No one knew about my parents, I was sure about that, but then how did she know?

“I know more than you think. I know that your grandma went missing, I know your granddad was murdered…” Her dreamy voice had faded, replaced instead by a harsh, cold tone. 

I was seriously scared now. She knew more about my life than anyone I’d ever met, even my best friends. I start running down the street, as fast as I can, but just like her voice, she appears to be floating, keeping up with me effortlessly. I feel something touch the back of my head, and I reach back, pulling out a bright red flower, the colour of blood. Car headlights flash in my vision and I feel a thud, blinding pain, and then nothing.

My last thought before everything disappeared: who is she?