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Tall Tales, Short Stories writing competition – Highly Commended: Karina Trifonova

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Karina completed Jacob Ross’s short story ‘A Better Man

The sudden drop concluded her train of thought.

It was then that she realised something. It is one for themselves.

Why couldn’t she be in charge of her own future, her own life, her own stability? Did she really have to let life push her around?

What the hell! She didn’t care. They were all liars, users, loners. One for himself. All her life, she was at the hands of someone else. As a child, her lousy foster parents. As a teen, her gang, her family, all outcasts like her. They provided her will the escape: drugs in all forms and side effects. Heroin was her best friend, paired with cocaine when she needed a boost.

It all came down when Shehu came. He would save her or so she thought.

At a drug infused fight, she was severely injured. While she bled on a murky side street, her once ago family left her behind. One for himself. Before she blacked out, she saw him gazing at her curiously.

He was kind to her at first. Shehu spend most of his time with her, sharing stories about his ways on the street. She never knew that she could find someone that could understand her better than him. There were feelings yes, or more likely the need to have a close partner in the crime. Once recovered, it was back to business. One for himself.

The usual routine began once again. As a “favour”, or more like a series of them, she contributed to his deliveries and deals. Her daily routine once again. Of course, she dealt with his insults, mood swings as a casual thing. When other women came in the picture, she found that she wasn’t special. She was like any other woman, nothing special. She thought he loved her. Just a temporary thing. Well, it couldn’t be, as she was dropped like a rag doll, left for a prettier one to be played with.

In her laundry bag, she often hid her spare money. Today her found her stash, not much, just £200. Of course, when she checked it, they were gone. Lucky her, she had some hidden with Gabriel.

The 349 came, which she nearly missed. It was finally her chance to leave and she wouldn’t miss it. She knew that Shehu didn’t mean it. He would have brought her back as he knew the whole area. To his dismay, he wouldn’t find her there. She would be long gone.

She got off at her stop. Like she knew what would happen, Gabriel stood there.

‘Did he find out?’

Gabriel knew he did. She handed her a paper bag, the weight comforting her. This is the end, she thought. She would finally get her freedom and escape from all this.

A sudden burst of pain hit her. The redness among her stomach expanded, her breath escaping from her. A car swerved around a corner into the unknown. With her final breath, she whispered, ‘I love you.’

Highly Commended: Karina Trifonova, aged 15


Tall Tales, Short Stories celebrates 20 years of the V.S. Pritchett Prize, the great range of the short story form, and what is possible when we use other writers as inspiration. Our anthology contains the first 500 words of winning entries to the Prize and of stories from judges over the past 20 years. Our Tall Tales, Short Stories competition asked those aged 14-18 to finish one of the stories with a new ending of their own.


Related RSL Fellows

Jacob Ross 2006