Contest #216 shortlist ⭐️

45 comments

Contemporary Fiction Sad

This story contains sensitive content

A gull can fly but Asad could race across the beach like a boy with wings. 


Gathering speed, he would run lightly across the pebbles, laughing at my attempts to catch him. He was always two steps ahead, but my imagination lifts the memory and gives it flight, so he rises up, soaring clear of the shore. Across the waters, arms outstretched, he disappears into the hope and fear of the horizon. If I squeeze my eyes shut, I am with him, gliding like a seagull against a blood-red sunset. I picture us, arms sprouting feathers, mouths open, shrieking a yellow-beaked cry. From on high, we watch the daytrippers below, fish ‘n’ chips balancing on their knees. Swooping down, we steal a chip or two and people just laugh. Yes, if we were gulls, the people here would smile and not try to shoo us away. We two would fly, then land together, and I wouldn’t be alone.


A loud metal sound tugs my soaring vision down to land. Someone is banging a saucepan with a spoon: the summons for dinner. I leave the bed where I’ve been sitting, although it isn’t bedtime, and walk to the hostel kitchen. When I enter there’s no sign of anyone cooking. The saucepan on the table is clean and the spoon is still shiny and silver in the warden’s hand. Her badge tells me her name is Sue.


Dinner is chips and I take the white paper package the warden presents me with, sitting down at the long table with the other children, eating straight out of the greasy paper. I chew and swallow slowly, not like a greedy gull at all. The thick pieces of potato are heavy in my stomach. I miss the food lightly coated in spices, prepared by my mother: cumin, turmeric; her fingers stained orange as she coated the meat. Abandoning the limp food, I look to the sky outside the hostel’s kitchen window, burnt orange deepening to a chilli red, and think of my mother, far away, sending me here for the certainty of a safer life although Sue has said my status is far from certain.


Before I go to sleep, the warden tells me a story about a little girl who is eaten by a wolf. In the story, the woodcutter kills the wolf by slicing his belly open. He frees the girl before filling the wolf up with rocks. 


Later, when I finally sleep, the chips turn to stones in my stomach. A knife slices me open and I peer out of the darkness to see Asad’s eyes like torches, looking for me. I reach for him with both hands, to pull me clear of this dream, but when I wake he’s not there. I sit up, looking again at the bed that has worried me ever since I saw it empty. Asad never made his bed, the covers were always piled up; now it’s neatly made with fresh sheets, smoothly tucked in, no slumbering boy in sight.


“Where is Asad?” I ask Sue, who is at my bedside again..

“Shh, go back to sleep Sarah. You’ll wake the others.”

My name is Sahra, but all the hostel workers make this mistake.

“But I want to know where he is.”

“I told you before, I can’t tell you. Government secrets. Now go back to sleep, there’s a good girl.”

“But there are stones in my stomach. I feel like the wolf that died.”

“Stones? Wolf? What are you talking about?” She looks at the book on the floor.

“Oh, Little Red Riding Hood, that’s just a fairy tale. Don’t you have stories where you come from?” She pats my hand like I’m a tame dog, not a wild beast.

“Don’t worry, no wolf is going to come and get you here. The hostel walls are strong. They’ll keep trouble out.” 

“Where is Asad? He said we would stay together.”

Silence. A sigh. 

“Go back to sleep, Sarah.”

In the dark, I hear the door close. I reach down and push the book far under my bed, wondering why it is that only some stories get told.


In the morning, a howl from the sea wakes me and I go to the bathroom. The doctor who looked inside my mouth said my gums are very bad from all the days at sea. I need to practise brushing properly, or my teeth may tumble out. I pick up the electric toothbrush and it leaps to life in my hand; my arm and then all of me is shaking, like I did when my mother helped me climb into the crowded boat and my father kissed me goodbye. I turn on the tap and in the noise of the running water I hear my mother’s voice, calling out over the waves.


“We will follow, with the very next boat.” 


From the hostel window, I see boats coming and going all the time. None of them bring my parents.


On the journey, as the sun rose, I thought about how I should have been in school learning English with Mr Ali. Every day, just before home time, all the children would gather for a story. Sitting on the floor, pulling his long white khamiis about his knees, he would pick up a book from the pile he always carried. 


“These are not just stories about animals!” He pointed excitedly to the elephant on the book’s red cover whose trunk was being pulled by a crocodile.

“In each story there is a message for us, even if we don’t have a trunk, or a hump or spots!” 

I was keen to learn; every time Mr Ali began in his deep sing-song voice and the others in my class daydreamed or fidgeted on the floor, I would lean forward and listen to every word, waiting to see what the elephant, the camel and the leopard had to tell me. 


But as the waves got higher and leapt into our little inflatable boat, I felt everything I knew being sucked down into the inky waters; the greedy waves were eager to swallow my story, all our stories, whole. The spray drenched me and I cried my mother’s and father’s name into the spray.

“Milgo! Yabare!”

I even called for our cat who curled up with me every night. 

"Dubbe!" I hurled into the heaving night.

It all went overboard, along with the smiling faces of my friends and the encouraging words of Mr Ali.

“You’re a bright girl Sahra! As they say in English, you will go far!”

The robber sea stole his words and I was left with only one wish, that I wouldn’t have to go to the faraway bright lights, bobbing like fallen stars on the shore. Ahead might be safety, but behind me was home.


As the lights of a new land wavered in the distance, after countless days of darkness and open waters, the rescue boat came as my parents said it would. Men in shiny yellow coats pulled me from the dinghy and their questions battered me like the storm waves they’d pulled me from:

“What is your name?”

“Where are your parents?”

“Where are you from?”

“Do you speak any English?”

“Do you understand us?”


As they bundled me into a silver sheet, pushing a cup of water to my lips, I felt the questions rise all about me, churning in my mind. Even when they brought me to this building, shutting the door on the sea and all of its pain, the nausea kept surging. I couldn’t see but I could hear the waves tossing and turning, like I did in the narrow bed they said was mine.


I go down to breakfast and Sue greets me.

“Good morning, Sarah. So, no wolf came and got you! Would you like some cereal?”

She gestures to a box on the table and I take it, shaking some of the yellow contents into a bowl. I pour on milk and eat, spooning in memories of my first breakfast here.


The other children had stared at me, curious, and I felt such a stranger in this new land. "I'm Sahra." I said, and saying my name felt like raising my finger, asking to be counted.

And on that first morning, I wasn’t just counted, I found a friend. At school, Mr Ali had been teaching us what he called English “expressions,” like how “a friend in need is a friend indeed.” We had chanted the rhyme as a class but it only rang true for me when I met Asad in the lonely, little hostel by the British sea. 


He was a boy so dark it was as if he’d stepped out of the night sky: black hair, the colour of midnight; black eyes, dark as the past. Only when he got excited did they light up and then they were brighter than the dawn. A friend in need is a friend indeed, and I certainly needed Asad the day they decided to take us back to the sea.


The warden had put us all in high visibility jackets, bright yellow. I remembered the men who pulled me from the boat, the white cliffs looming behind. 


“I don’t want to go!” I struggled out of the jacket, running for the door leading to the bedrooms.

“Come on Sarah,” Sue said, catching my arm. “Some fresh air will be good for you. We’re all going out together, it will be an excursion.”

Another warden blocked the door to the bedrooms while I clung to the table leg like it was a ship’s mast.

“Come silly. You don’t need to go for a swim! Just a stroll beside the sea.”


I was under the table when he joined me, the boy made of night, stooping down low and squatting on the floor under the table top.

“Asad,” he said, pointing to his chest. “Sahra, yes?”

I nodded, wondering how the light managed to dance in his eyes. How did it get in there? He continued in a broken English that would have matched mine if I weren’t silent.

“Come Sahra. We stay together. Beach is ok. No more boats. Promise.” 

And he reached down and shook my hand, like Mr Ali got us practising in class, to be a real English lady or gentleman. 


I let him lead me out from under the table. All the way down to the beach, he held my hand. It must have been like holding a fish, wet with sweat and shaking, but he never let go. 


We walked in a line beside little colourful buildings. Some had the doors wide open. Inside they were like miniature homes, complete with chairs, a table; some even had a little stove and things like a kettle, so the people could drink their English tea. But people were not living here; they were just homes for the day. I looked back at the hostel with its wire fence around it, wishing it could just be my home for the day; when the sun set, I could shut the door behind me and walk away. 


The last little beach hut was pastel pink and inside, hanging from the low whitewashed ceiling, colourful bunting fluttered in the sea breeze. But it wasn’t this that made me tug on Asad’s hand and slow to a stop. Curled up on a plump cushion was a cat, sound asleep, the exact colour of my Dubbe. My heart leapt with longing and my feet followed, a couple of steps forward. I was near the open door, just reaching to stroke the soft fur, when a woman exploded out, blocking my way.


“Shoo!” She shrieked, flapping her hand at me angrily like I’d been trying to steal something. I yelped and flew down onto the pebbles, dragging Asad behind me. Sides heaving, struggling for breath, I vowed to never look in one of those pretty huts again. 


On the beach we were allowed to spread out while the wardens chatted and smoked cigarettes. Asad kept my hand in his, stooping down occasionally to pick up things he found. A stone shaped like a heart, another with holes like eyes and a piece of green glass, so smooth it could have been a jewel. We stopped where the beach was still dry, where the waves didn’t quite reach and he tipped everything he had collected into my hands. 


“For you, Sahra.” He said gently, his smile chasing the memory of the beach hut clean away. I tried to give his gifts back, but he shook his head, picking up other things that the waves had tossed onto the shore. I put the stone shaped like a heart and the little piece of smooth glass into my pocket. I held up the stone with the two holes and peered through them, out to the horizon beyond. I strained my eyes really hard, like I was staring through what Mr Ali called binoculars. In class he had explained how with these “magical glasses” we could bring things right up close- so close you might feel you could touch them. I hoped to see the faces of my mother and father through the little holes, but I couldn’t see anything; my sight had gone blurry, like rain clouds were in my eyes. 


Asad had returned, reaching me before the warden. He had a piece of driftwood in his hands and I’d quietened a bit by the time he started whittling away at the wood. 

“Found this here.” He said, nodding at the knife with its red handle, a little white cross on its side. “People on picnic, maybe left it.” Carefully he cut away little slithers of wood, forming a shape. “Name animal. One you like best.” 


I thought of Dubbe at home, stealing into our kitchen, tail held high as he proudly took the scraps. And I thought of my country and its other big cats; the two on the flag, flying above my school.

“Leopard.” 


He whittled my wish and I watched it take perfect shape: the long back, the four strong legs, even the tail had a curve. He passed me a pen- he seemed to have everything in his hands or pockets- and I marked the leopard with black dots, remembering Mr Ali’s question in class. 

“What is the moral of this story?”

And I saw my hand raised as if a stranger knew the answer, not me.

“Message of How Leopard got his Spots is we must change, Mr Ali. Sometimes we need to change, even if we are scared.”

As I finished adding the markings, I wondered if the little leopard would fit in better, now that I’d changed him. Would he fit into this land of tea, chips and little coloured houses by the sea, now he had got his spots?


“He look sick, like he got bad disease!” Asad laughed warmly, like the sun finally breaking out from behind the British rain clouds. “He is Somali and English. Like you be Sahra, one day, soon.” 

He looked so pleased with his gift that I tried to fix a smile onto the spot of my mouth.


In the kitchen, I leave the bowl of cereal, taking out the leopard Asad made me. Since he carved it, Spot the Leopard has always been with me, safe in my jeans pocket. He lies still, unlike the big cats prowling in my homeland, free. I think about homesickness; it really is the worst disease. Ever since I caught it, my sorrow has covered me from head to toe. Yes, I have homesickness spots all over.


Sue clears away my bowl and calls for the other children to get ready; it’s time for our weekly excursion, down to the beach to get some fresh air. We form a line and troop out of the hostel.


The same breeze blows, the same little coloured huts stand by the sea, but all has changed as Asad is no longer here. Down where the water meets the land, the wind blows wild and free, whipping tears from my eyes. In my yellow jacket, I stand alone, remembering how just a week ago I had stood here with Asad when he taught me how to skim stones. He’d crouched his body low, leaning his weight from the hips into the beach, flicking the flat stone across the tops of the waves. We counted together: “one, two, three, four, five!” How was it even possible? “Six, seven- go stone go!” until it had sunk, as we knew it must. But still, for just a few counts, that little stone had looked like hope skimming across the sea.


I don’t know where they’ve sent Asad, and this worry is a deep and dark sea stretching before me. In the hostel’s corridors, I have heard the wardens whisper the word we all dread: deportation. Here on the shore, the waves pound and I listen, wishing they would drum the word right out of my mind.


Spot the Leopard rests in my pocket, and I pull him into the light one last time, stroking each dot. Then I crouch low, leaning all my body into the beach, and with a flick of the wrist, I let him go. One, two, three: he skims each crest. I shut my eyes and picture him, leaping on, four paws pounding over each wave, crossing the whole ocean, until he reaches Asad. And he’ll pick it up, eyes wide with wonder as he thinks of me. For then he’ll know: we’re sticking together, wherever he is. Perhaps he’s standing on the other side of this sea, right now, ready to skim Leopard back. 


And if he did, what then? 


Then I’d pick Leopard up, light dancing in my eyes too, for I’d be cured of my homesickness spots. I’d lose them, every last one.


September 16, 2023 15:06

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45 comments

Michał Przywara
21:05 Sep 20, 2023

Very sad indeed! Having to migrate is bad enough, but the child's perspective - being alone and powerless - even moreso. Especially when a friend, one of the few precious constants, mysteriously vanishes. The staff at the hostel are even quite accommodating, and come across as caring. At least, it doesn't sound like a Dickensian orphanage. But they can only do so much, and it's diminished by the ever present threat of deportation. It sets up a lovely, heartrending ending, where she lets the leopard free on a hope. That part did hit the f...

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Rebecca Miles
18:12 Sep 21, 2023

Yes, so many losses. My favourite endings are poignant ones, where there's that small, sad smile of diminished hope. I'm a big fan of Ishiguro and perhaps that's why I slip into this mode very readily. I had to have Sahra shut her eyes when she skimmed Spot: blind hope but it's there, nevertheless. I haven't written from a child's perspective for a while and Sahra's situation, where she can tell little as no-one is really listening ( beyond us!), seemed to lend itself well to show not tell where the leopard and her actions, have to stand for...

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Michał Przywara
21:40 Sep 29, 2023

Woo! Congrats on the shortlist! :D

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Delbert Griffith
15:05 Sep 22, 2023

I am awed by your talent, Rebecca. As good as your past tales are, this one stands alone. There is so much in this tale that it would take me a week to write about it all. The title fits in quite well with the leopard motif, and this in turn serves the theme of loss and change masterfully. The skipping of the rocks, symbolizing hope, was perfect. The rock defies the water, it travels back to Sahra's land, and then...it sinks. Sahra is sinking, though she continues to hope. Setting the leopard free was more an act of hope than anything. Made...

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Rebecca Miles
15:46 Sep 22, 2023

Ah Del, bless you. I poured heart and soul into this one as it was a story that really spoke to me. Homesickness spots: sometimes I wish I could lose them too. Thanks for making my Friday night with your warm words.

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Aeris Walker
21:24 Sep 17, 2023

You've completely hit the prompt with this one! Spot on. The setting, the "washed-up" characters, and the sense of everything being temporary all lend toward this sense of uncertainty--of waiting. I love the relationship between Asad and Sahra and how they band together to form their own little tribe of misfits in this new, strange holding place. I also appreciate how you center much of the story around the beach, as if the children are tethered to the place where they were brought ashore and officially separated from their loved ones; It's...

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Rebecca Miles
20:41 Sep 19, 2023

Hi Aeris, thanks for popping round! Yes, washed up and trying not to be washed out, eh. Yes, the beach was a big pull in this one, especially as so many of the things that become precious to Sahra were found there: the driftwood whittled into the leopard; the stone with the two holes to peer through. This was a story I felt I had to write; my small challenge to the rhetoric and policies that can hold sway.

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Aeris Walker
16:41 Sep 29, 2023

Congratulations on your shortlist!! ☺️

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Rebecca Miles
16:52 Sep 29, 2023

Thanks Aeris. It's been a while so I'm happy I can still rub the words together;-)

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Amanda Lieser
21:36 Nov 11, 2023

Hi Rebecca! This is a striking and painful story about a child in a strange land. I loved the power of her name and how it shapes who her soul is, belittled each time they don’t get it right, but powerfully reclaimed in the end. I also loved the incorporation of stories within this one. It provides hope and guidance, just as stories should. This was a fantastic take on the prompt!! Nice work and congratulations on the shortlist!! Always wonderful to see a familiar name up there.

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Rebecca Miles
11:17 Nov 12, 2023

Thanks so much Amanda. This was a story as a Brit that I felt compelled to write; my attempt to counter the flow of appalling and inhumane right wing nationalism. I'm off of Reedsy as a writer for a while (family commitments are pressing at the moment and I haven't a moment to tap away) but I'll try my hardest to read one of yours soon.

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Jack Nierling
17:19 Oct 06, 2023

I wasn't expecting to have my heartstrings tugged at when I read the title. Beautifully written story! There is enough information here to give me a whole idea of what's happened with these characters.

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Story Time
16:51 Oct 03, 2023

This just broke me in half. There are sections of language here that are searing and yet you're very careful with how you unveil the emotion. Beautiful, beautiful job.

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Rebecca Miles
05:13 Oct 04, 2023

Lovely to have you pop by Kevin. Writing from the child's pov helped keep a rein on the pathos as I was aware while Sahra is in the context, it's us the adults who get the full force of how tragic and unfair her situation is. Some stories you write for technique, some for pure entertainment but sometimes there is a story you have to tell and it's almost a physical pull, isn't it. A topic close to your heart, a feeling you must try to convey. I've had that a number of times reading your stories too Kevin and that's why they truly matter.

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Philip Ebuluofor
18:14 Oct 01, 2023

In the class of it's own. Powerful, we structured and well delivered. Congrats.

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Jonathan Page
23:24 Sep 30, 2023

Wow Rebecca! Great story! I really enjoyed it! There were some visual flourishes where you brought us into Sahra's inner world--of course the blind toss and imagining the Leopard leaping on the sea toward her parted friend--the use of the Kipling story and the changed spots to represent adapting to a foreign land and estrangement from a friend is great stuff too--and the gull daydream in the beginning where she imagines flying away with her friend... foreshadowing the event of his absence and deportation which she is coming to terms with-...

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Rebecca Miles
06:19 Oct 01, 2023

Hi Jonathan. I'm so glad the story really engaged you. I was reading Demon Copperhead over the summer and that updates the orphan lost so well that perhaps it was running though my head to give it a go for a while. The spur was the coverage in the news though to tighten up deportation laws in England. The conservative administration is, sadly, inhumane: put refugees on barges, send them to Rwanda... and then I read how they redecorated a "processing unit" for children as it was too "welcoming' with pictures on the wall of Mickey mouse etc a...

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Suma Jayachandar
05:33 Sep 30, 2023

Rebecca, This is deep, dark, unsettling and lovely. Good old proper literature. I guess you get to carry your home with you as long as you have words at your disposal. Congratulations!

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Rebecca Miles
06:25 Oct 01, 2023

Thanks Suma. Yes, I agree, we carry home as an idea deep within us and words can definitely try to express it. I'm glad my attempt to voice Sahra's longing for home and all it might represent, moved you.

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AnneMarie Miles
15:50 Sep 29, 2023

Congratulations sister scribbler!! 🎉🎉🎉 I had no doubts your story would make it up on board today! Cheers to you from the US! 🥂

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Rebecca Miles
16:52 Sep 29, 2023

Hey hey! Feels good to step up after a while. Perhaps my idea for the anthology of retold Just so stories might have legs! After sitting this week out with tropes the next comp.- with its scholarship- is seriously tempting. We'll all be sniffing around for a stonking story! I bet the poet in you likes the prompt. I'm going to get thinking over the weekend xxx

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AnneMarie Miles
19:26 Sep 29, 2023

I have no doubts about you whipping up something to envy! I'm trying not to overthink this one as I did with the show don't tell.. but I think I have a poem I'd like to expand into a story.. 🤔

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15:33 Sep 29, 2023

I knew this was going in the winner's circle! Such a great story, Rebecca! Congratulations

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Rebecca Miles
16:49 Sep 29, 2023

Thanks so much Anne. I wrote this partly with the idea of retelling some of the Just So stories with modern day twists with a view to publishing an anthology so this shortlist is a positive sign!

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Danie Holland
14:47 Sep 29, 2023

"Ahead might be safety, but behind me was home." This one single line tore my heart right open. What a truly powerful story that captures how helpless we are in the tossing tides of life's oceans. We try desperately to hold on, to find some kind of raft to hold us steady, let us catch our breath, let us feel safe. Sahra found this safety in her friend Asad only to lose it again. She learns how we cannot avoid the ever changing tides but instead can only find our own ways to best ride out the waves. After all, what else can we do but rid...

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Michelle Oliver
13:52 Sep 26, 2023

Rebecca you manage to hit all the feels. This is such a powerfully sad tale. Children are victims of the adult world here. Parents trying to give their children a better world, a new country with rules about immigration and deportation.the child knows none of this and pushes everything down inside. A quiet kind of despair because she isn’t actually able to have a voice. Even when she corrects the others with her name, she is not heard. I love the symbolic setting free of the homesick leopard. Her vision of it leaping across the waves is quit...

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Nina H
21:49 Sep 24, 2023

Homesickness spots - I love this. And how through the eyes of a child, it’s something that can be cured like any other sickness. Such a heartbreaking story of loss and loss and loss for such a little girl. The end is perfectly written. I picture her going back to the beach, finding Leopard washed ashore, and feeling her connection to Asad. This story is a winner ❤️

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Rebecca Miles
19:20 Sep 25, 2023

Thanks so much Nina! I wish homesickness spots would just wash off. And yes, I agree too: I imagine Sahra finding leopard has returned to her and that lovely bond isn't broken. In stories at least we can have that closure.

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Beth Connor
14:22 Sep 24, 2023

You pulled me in before I started reading. I was already on my fathers lap listening to him read me ‘Just So Stories’ and wondering where that old tattered book is these days. Then after reading it I sit and absorb all the emotions, and images flowing through my head. This story will sit with me and I am grateful to have read it.

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Rebecca Miles
19:21 Sep 25, 2023

Thanks Beth, and I'm so happy I could prompt some lovely early literary memories with your father.

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Helen A Smith
13:58 Sep 24, 2023

So sad and poignant. Speaking eloquently of something that never seems to change as people seek refuge for a better life. Very beautifully told from the point of a child suffering from homesickness and the loss of everything she’s known as she’s uprooted into a strange new land. Also the longing for the safety of her friend. Full of imagery of the sea which delivers timeless pieces such as pebbles and amazing stones, yet seems to reflect the uncertainty and turbulence of Sahra’s life. Great story.

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Rebecca Miles
19:24 Sep 25, 2023

Thanks Helen. This was a hard story to write from a child's point of view and to balance the awful reality of deportations with a small sense of hope. How to not make it just unbearably sad? I hope the allusions to the Just So story helped there.

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Helen A Smith
19:30 Sep 25, 2023

There was definitely hope. An important thing to write about.

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06:38 Sep 24, 2023

Oh Rebecca, this is so beautiful! It’s so carefully crafted with the weaving in of the teacher and the two tales, the budding friendship, the little indignities like the mispronounced named and saying « shoo » to the child not the cat. Wonderful story.

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Rebecca Miles
19:27 Sep 25, 2023

Hi Anne, yes those little indignities can be the ones that erode the most, can't they. It took the little boy Asad, and their friendship, to show the true depth of dignity and its foundation in respect and understanding. Thanks so much for your warm praise, it means a lot!

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Shirley Medhurst
15:55 Sep 23, 2023

A powerful piece, and a great take on the prompt. This is the 1st story of yours that I’ve read; really enjoyed it. I liked the subtle way you built up the main character & revealed her inner fears & emotions. I especially loved the line « Ahead might be safety, but behind me was home. » - so much emotion packed into so few words… Very well written!

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Rebecca Miles
06:07 Sep 24, 2023

Thanks so much Shirley. I'm glad my first piece for you delivered!

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AnneMarie Miles
03:06 Sep 23, 2023

I am always so surprised by the elegance of, not only your writing, but the stories you tell, sister miles! We should try skipping stones to each other, across from our own shores! The sadness of this is all over, the separation from parents, the loneliness of being in a new place, not knowing the language or culture, and then of losing such an important ally, a friend who eases the loneliness just enough to make all of it bearable, and then having that ripped away - the loss of this, but also the fear of it happening to you. This line hit ...

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Rebecca Miles
06:09 Sep 24, 2023

Oh that would be nice my dear! And I'm skipping a few metaphorical stones back to you. I'm sitting this week out I think as I edit the novella so I'll be championing your take on trope- busting! Ideas?

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AnneMarie Miles
18:32 Sep 24, 2023

Editing is important work! Is the novella complete? 🤩 I do have a draft coming along, though I am worried I am bending the prompt a little too far 😅

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Rebecca Miles
19:18 Sep 25, 2023

The novella is complete and I am two-thirds through a first read through and it's bearing up ok at the moment ,-) And I can only say: Bend that prompt! I am sure it will be a whole lot more fun; and breaking tropes seems to call for it!

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Marty B
01:22 Sep 21, 2023

You always have such good descriptions of feelings, of loss, of fear, and in this story loneliness. The story being told from Sahra's perspective I think is a good choice as it puts the reader in the precarious situation she is in, without the language, without a family, and without her one friend. The beach, a transition from sea to land is a recurring theme, and maybe reflects her own transition. She changes through her interactions with the beach, fear, acceptance, and then her final act of skimming the leopard into the waves, shows s...

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Rebecca Miles
18:17 Sep 21, 2023

Your choice of the word precarious, Marty, captures it perfectly. And thanks for applauding the feelings as I always want to pack an emotional punch in the story. If stories could change hearts and minds, eh? Or rather, the hearts and minds we'd like them to change. I'll skim a stone of hope to that next time I'm by water.

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RBE | Illustration — We made a writing app for you | 2023-02

We made a writing app for you

Yes, you! Write. Format. Export for ebook and print. 100% free, always.