Tall Tales, Short Stories writing competition – Highly Commended: Peter Bird

Recorded on date : November 30, 2020

Peter Bird completed Martina Devlin’s short story ‘Singing Dumb

I don’t feel so big with these two large men towering over me like large immovable pillars blocking all my exits. I look from one to another, their eyes burning into my face. I look down to my feet in fear now, trying to avoid their stern look. I shuffle slowly behind my mother for protection from these monsters but she shrugs me away, putting me out into the firing line of the officers. They edge their way towards me, so I back away slowly step by step, but suddenly I thud into the wall. As they approach they grow bigger and bigger, striking fear into my heart. I go weak at the knees and tears begin to drop down from my eyes slowly meandering their way down my face as they fall from my chin.

I look once again at my mother for reassurance that everything will be ok, but she lowers her head and looks away with a look of pain and uncertainty upon her face. From then on the realisation sinks in that we may not all be together again because of me. The guards are standing over me with a warm look upon their faces that looks painted on, trying to hide the anger and dismay that they are holding within.

The deep voice groans, “You are coming with me.”

I yelp, “No!”

I attempted to resist but the strength of these men was far too much for me to handle as they put my hands behind my back. I could feel the cool cuffs upon my skin and hear the chains clinking, the tightness of the cuffs prevented me from moving and any move of my wrists caused them to grind my bone and rip my soft skin. I tried to hold back the tears as they dragged me like a doll across the floor with my feet trailing behind me as I tried to stop this cruel act.

I am brought out onto the front porch and am lifted to the bike. I look back towards mama. She wipes her tear stained eyes with a handkerchief as she turns her back and shuts the door.

The painful journey felt like hours until I was shoved into a dark room with only one window which you had to climb on the bed to get a slight glimpse of the outer world which seemed so far away from the clatter of locks and shouts of guards. I miss mama’s dinners. Her hot stew. Now all I can think of is the slaps of the thick, lumpy porridge on my rusty bowl. Days of this rolled into one. I don’t know how long I was in there but then I heard the comfort of mama’s warm voice echoing down the corridor and the rattle of the door. She was here for me. She hadn’t turned her back as she wrapped her arms around me and kissed my forehead and said softly, ‚ÄúLet’s go home‚Äù.


Highly Commended: Peter Bird, 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.

More from Awards and Prizes

Sky Arts RSL Writers Awards

Companions of Literature

RSL International Writers

Become a Member

Our Members are champions of literature. Their support makes our engagement work in schools and prisons possible and they enable us to celebrate literature in all its wonderful diversity. As a thank you, we give them all the joys of a literary festival and book club rolled into one, all year round.