Claws of a stinging ice floor clench at my back.

A first draft of the Young Writer of the Year ‘Silver’ story. Initial comments from teacher. Please add your feedback below to help Anna develop her story further.

Claws of a stinging ice floor clench at my back. Ice gathers on the callous concrete as I look towards the wall. Three thousand, six hundred and fifty strokes cover the wall like a patterned blanket over a window in the winter. My spindly legs draw themselves in towards my shuddering chest and arms move on their own accord to embrace them as the frosty indoor night settles in and snow gathers amongst the wild grasses outside. Clouds form from breathes I do not remember taking. Automatic unintentional inhalations I have no control over. Dusty moonlight, silvered by the gentle clouds overhead, covers the doorway.

Weeks pass by monotonously. Friday is ‘special meat’ day. Burgers filled with the most unimaginable parts of the unwanted carcass. Every day, One O’clock ticks by and I’m released into the exercise yard – a bird spreading its wings. An hour passes. Just walking. No interaction. Then back to the cell and the maddening drips that take their suicidal leap from the glistening tap on the grey wall. The footfalls of the guards stomp through the eerie corridors as they keep a hawk’s eye over the quiet inmates. I’ve only ever seen their eyes through the slits of the barricaded door and the guards that stand watch over the exercise yard – armed and ruthless.

I dream every night. I’ve been told that I’m almost out of this devil’s backyard on good behaviour. My head becomes filled with swirling images of freedom … green grass, soil between my bare toes, wind through my hair and the best would be the notes of music; it [U1] doesn’t get played here so it’s been years since any sweet melody has blessed my ears. My messed mind conjures sweet memories of my children, my wife and even the simple things like a breakfast that doesn’t taste like cardboard. The love of my life was full of just that – life – her hair was heaven to touch and to stick with the cliché, her laugh was like bells being tickled. She is my only reason to finish my sentence. [U2] If it wasn’t for her love, I would have been hanging from the shower rod within the first six months in this concrete box.

My messed mind most often conjures up figments of guards walking down the hallways, destined for my cell. A glistening key held solidly in the cruel hands; silver reflecting the harsh fluorescent light into the eyes of the hoping jailbirds watching through the dinner plate slits. [U3] My imaginary guard then turns; an intent stare on my door. The key then[U4] slowly locks into place, the additional padlock is removed and the door creaks open. My dream self looks up in wonderment at the light that has been missed so much, slowly struggling to his feet on stick thin legs. An embrace completely inappropriate is shared and a step is taken to the other side of the doorway as a free man.

Away in my dream world, ignorant of my surroundings, a key does enter the lock on my door in reality. Hands roughly pull me to a fragile standing position, as [U5] I gradually gain consciousness, and marched me out into the blinding light of the distorted walkway. I take one last look at the heavy door that kept me imprisoned for so many long hours[U6] , wishing all of my hatred onto that one object. Stumbling down the hard yellow-painted floor next to the widely set, strong guard, I was [U7] shoved into a shower. The water flowed over my body, the soap sprinting from the water in a race down my back. Scratchy towels cling to the water on my skin as I dry myself down and dress in the only everyday clothes I brought to this prison – a pair of worn old jeans, faded at the thighs, and a warm jersey painted green and black for my favourite soccer team. Staggering over the flat floor, now partially awake, I am guided down the labyrinth of pathways as the sun slowly sneaks over the horizon outside. Grate floors provide insight into the absent activities on the lower levels; only a handful of life[U8] exists before dawn.

In my dreams filled with expectations, my wife stands outside. Her hair is cut short, a symbol of her new life with me, and her figure has aged slightly. [U9] The wind slowly ruffles her white skirts and she shyly stands on heels that she only brings out for the most important occasions. I step outside the gates and she bolts from our ancient yellow car into my waiting arms. The heaven I feel when I touch her after so many years is bliss and I never want to let go.

In harsh reality, I exit the black metal gates into the free world. In my hand I hold the spare coins I luckily received for the possible bus fare and go forth with a hopeful look plastered on my face. Searching the car park, my heat takes a dive as I realise she’s not there. No yellow car. No ruffled white skirts. Not even the slightest breath of wind. Misery fills my entity[U10] as I collapse onto the concrete of freedom.


[U1]Try to avoid using semi-colons. Just start a new sentence.

[U2]Can you reword this sentence?

[U3]Too much happening in this sentence. Make it less complicated – focus on just one image.

[U4]Try not to use ‘then’ as much – it’s a little too primary school.

[U5]You don’t need the word ‘as’ here.

[U6]Doesn’t seem like very long. Are you trying to create sympathy for your character here?

[U7]was? I thought you were writing in present tense? You seem to have shifted tenses for some readon.

[U8]Not sure what to make of this image – it doesn’t seem to work that well.

[U9]What do you mean by this? Can you paint a more real image for your reader? An image of age?

[U10]??? What do you mean by this? Do you mean ‘being’ instead of ‘entity’?

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2 Responses to Claws of a stinging ice floor clench at my back.

  1. Natasha says:

    Best story that I’ve read so far …!
    Just a few pointers … first time reading it .. the number of strokes covering the painted wall… maybe you should briefly mention them again… like that you made them or something… other wise it seems unnecesary. Good mention of time passing.

    And with the wife the character wouldn’t care if she’d aged. . . just be glad to see her.

    Thank you for not drowning me in description though. This made it a lot easier to read.

  2. Eliza says:

    Thank goodness for someone who doesn’t use adjectives every two words. Good job. Maybe consider interaction between characters rather than describing the scene.

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