Winner: The Lost Speck of Gold by Eva, grade 6
The booming thunder battled the lightning, the wind howled. The sun is nothing but a lost speck of gold hiding out of reach.
When dark clouds blanket the sky, Nulla and his daughter Yindi would search for the lost sun. Nulla grinned. “The sun is similar to a wild animal. It hops away like a Kangaroo when it’s the moon’s turn to deliver night. It swims like a platypus in the sunset. It runs like a Dingo to share sunlight everywhere. It flies like a Kookaburra.”
“Where did the sun go?” asked Yindi.
Nulla patted Yindi’s head. “I must confess, it’s not just the storm clouds, it’s pollution darkening our skies, hiding the sun.”
“Then let’s find it.” Yindi gazed at the looming clouds above. From that moment, she vowed to do whatever it took to release the sun from its prison, our pollution.
Sore Mouth! by Olivia, grade 4
Oh no!! It’s the end. I’ve lost it. My mouth is sore and I look hideous! I can’t show up to the retirement home today, people will say I speak funny, or I look weird!! Let me check my glass again. Oh, there you are my babies! I thought I was going to show up to my first day of the retirement home with no beautiful, white teeth 🦷. Let’s go!
In The Sand by Jenna, grade 6
“We should go.” Georgie shivered.
The beach beyond was angry and deserted.
“No!” Ella laughed as she ran at the squall.
“Oww!” Her toe clipped something and sent her tumbling. Spitting sand, Ella turned to see her sister sifting the sand where she’d tripped.
“Ella, look!” With her back to the wind, Georgie excavated a dilapidated wooden box.
“Looks old!” Ella whispered, lifting it from the sand.
As Ella opened the lid, the cacophony of wind and waves suddenly silenced. Inside lay a striking rose-gold locket.
“Wow!” It was Georgie’s turn to whisper.
Entranced, Ella lifted the chain from the box. Only half hearing her older sister’s hesitation, she put it on.
The moment the locket touched her neck a brilliant light burst from the box.
The wind howled.
The sea cried in anger and shell-grit and sand whipped once again along the deserted beach.
Lost, to Me by Lilah, grade 5
They say she’s lost. She is lost, to me, anyway. But she’ll come back, won’t she? When she does, I’ll run over to her and give her a massive hug, ask a few questions, and hug her some more. Two years ago, on my 10th birthday, my mother told me, “Eliza Michelle, I’ll be here every year for your birthday. To hug you, to organise events, and most importantly, tell you that I love you.” However, that never happened last year. She’s gone. It’s just Dad now. Last year I wasn’t able to run into my parents’ bedroom, stand at the foot of their bed and see Mum’s short, ink black hair with the occasional knot, and her dark chocolate face arise from her pillow and say, “Good morning, Eliza. Happy birthday.” I need her this year though, on my 12th birthday. Suddenly, there was a knock at the door...
The Lost Diamond by Charles, grade 4
He was purely malevolent — he didn’t care how many people shed their blood at his hand, all he cared about was the lost diamond. His name was Jackson Smith.
It was late afternoon as Jackson stepped out of the cab and pulled on his face mask. He had been planning this for months, yet doubt still clouded his mind. Before he could overthink it, he removed the man-hole cover and dived into the darkness, but discovered an unpleasant surprise.
Instead of finding the lost diamond, he found a team of police who seemed to be one step ahead of him and were clearly expecting him.
“Jackson Smith, you are under arrest.”
Later that day, Jackson was sitting in his prison cell picking at the slimy, grubby walls when two police came to inform him that he would be living in this dismal cell for the rest of his life.
The Three Bad Days by Calla, grade 6
The first bad day was when James and Joseph received letters that told them if they could fight with the ANZACs. James was accepted, Joseph was declined.
The second bad day was when James received a letter telling him he would be deployed in Gallipoli, Turkey. Their family said goodbye and Joseph gave James a locket with his picture in it.
The third bad day was when James was on the navy ship. BAM his carrier hit a Japanese mine. The locket plunged deep into the ocean lost forever. “NOOO!” James screamed in agony hurting both mentally and physically. He still fought though. He rowed to shore on a small row boat. BOOM. Grenade and gunfire attack. Death. He laid there motionless. The enemy leave. He lays there thinking of the locket. Gone. The soldiers that are still alive find him, his eye still twitching. Rescued. Safe. Alive.
The Lost Bracelet by Ella, grade 5
Happily, Brooklyn Shallow jumped out of her seat as soon as she heard the final bell and quickly raced out of class, trying to feel up her arm for her bracelet. Still struggling, she remembered why she had the charm bracelet in the first place, her deceased mum. The bracelet was old and was only a rusty chain with a faded, light pink love heart, as all the other charms had somehow fallen off but she valued it so immensely to ever criticise it in any way. Her mum had worn it when she was little but gave it to Brooklyn as a present for her tenth birthday this year. She had absolutely adored it from the very moment she opened the little black box which contained the stunning charm bracelet. Panicked, Brooklyn rolled up her sleeve but...
Her bracelet was gone!
The Lost Map of Fortune by Harry, grade 4
Boom. Bang went the roaring machines as they looked for the other half the map. This was not like any normal map, when complete, it would lead to the biggest fortune in the world. People just thought this was a fairy tale but since Jack found half of the map everyone has been looking for the other. The map says that the missing part is hidden in a tomb in the middle of the earth. So, Jack and his crew have been trying to get to it. “Dig faster, dig faster,” Jack yelled to his crew as his machine scraped at the ground. Jack’s crew was getting tired, but Jack would not let them give up. “Faster, faster,” he yelled again and again. At that moment Jack heard the clang of his machine hitting a metal vault. Could this be what he had been looking for?
The Day I Lost My Wallet by Caitlin, grade 4
I miss my wallet so much. It used to supply me with money, now I have none. Please help me find it, maybe look in the bush!
“Not there? Maybe by the tree?”
“No that’s not my wallet!” I know it’s around here somewhere.
“It has been six days and I can’t find my wallet I give up!” Let’s go buy a new one! “That one looks nice!” I love my new wallet. Oh I love it so much hopefully I won’t lose it just like my old one!
Walking Again by Natalie, grade 6
June reached for her walking stick as she climbed out of bed. But, for some reason, it wasn’t where is usually was. How would she get around? She called up her granddaughter, Chloe, to come help her out until it was found. When June tried to transfer herself from her wheelchair to the couch, she bumped her vase on the ledge of a window. It was her great, great grandma’s vase, with traditions being held in it. She jumped out of the couch and caught the vase, luckily no harm done. Chloe rushed into the room as she hear a shriek from June. She was gobsmacked, to see her Grandmother, standing up without support.
No wheelchair, no walking stick, just her legs. Chloe quickly took the heavy vase from June’s hands, as she found herself a seat back on the couch. June was speechless.
“No more walking stick?” she whispered.
Winner: Fleeing Caracas by Zachary, grade 11
The lights plunge again for Caracas, and for once, its blood is spilled more in the havocking minds of families than on its streets. Scattered in a sea of thousands waiting restlessly in the metro, Luis finally locates and embraces his few children. That moment felt like his late father comforting him after being mugged the first time. That fatherly, distracting conversation one can reside in when they lose faith in the walls confining their all too cellular home. Except now, Luis’ walls are reduced to debris, and he must usher his children onto the train.
Half-washed carriage windows cage Luis’ family from the throbbing heart of Caracas. It would be but a distant memory in a few stations.
“Where are we going, Padre?” Luis’ eldest sits in the closest seat in the closest carriage to the driver: it lowers the chance of robbery. “When can I play football with Julio? Padre.”
“Later, later,” Luis feigns with a stone-cold expression that hides mounting regret.
Seeking refuge, his eyes land on a billboard made from luxurious velvet, and he wonders how it deceived women on the train, wearing dresses made from what seems like industrial vinyl. Explosions did not rattle train carriages when Luis’ father was around, so there was no such need for censorship. Wearing an ashamed expression, his regret seeps away.
...91mph...72mph...49mph...23mph...10mph...0. The final station. Time stands still. Luis’ children are quiet.
“We’re home,” Luis invites the children, despite what rugged plains lie ahead.
The Last Time I Went Home by Nikko, grade 11
The final visit to this place. The door creaked open as I stood and stared at the shelves of knick knacks, the sturdy walls, the silly coasters, her favourite cooking shows on the television for one last time. Her dying breathes shook the lights illuminating her interior. The warm atmosphere eroding. Then her final exhale slammed the door shut in my face. That was the final time I was home. That day was the last day she told me she loved me. And that day was the last one where I saw her smile, and bring home alive. I knew that was the last time. Even though I thought that every time I had to leave her. Breathing used to become hard as a thought of a world without her appeared in my emotional sphere. But here I am.... homeless.
His Home by Arlya, grade 10
He knew she was different to him; he knew of the worlds that only existed in her head; knew she saw the world differently to others. She saw life as an image, as a part of a song or a poem. She saw the world as a book, full of adventure and endless possibilities. He noticed how she would somehow disconnect from everything, how she would escape from it all, get lost in her own thoughts. How she would imagine a whole new universe, a whole new reality.
Sometimes she’d laugh at her own thoughts, at the madness within. But no matter how mad they were, she always enjoyed expressing them. It was enchanting for him to hear her words, her stories. She would read over the thousands of words she had spent the day crafting and his smile would begin to grow. She would read over the characters that she had created, the ones she felt that she had known all her life but in reality, had only ever lived in her imagination.
And now, with her in his arms, lying in their bed, he looked down at her piercing blue eyes that he so dearly loved. No matter how she saw the world, no matter how much time she spent slowly drifting away from reality and no matter how much time she spent residing within a place that was forever beyond his reach, his home, was always her.
Homebound by Jay, grade 9
People say home is with the people you love, but what happens when they leave? Do you have to rebuild the structure for a mere feeling of comfort, or should you best leave it to decay even further, abandoning your own safety?
His slate eyes falter across the dimly lit room. The sound of the fireplace hisses in the stiff silence, Blaine’s brows furrow. His knees founder to the floor, breath hitching.
All the people he’s loved have either left or died, leaving him essentially alone while his home slowly corrodes into dust. So where is home? It’s not a place, its not an item. There’s nothing left for him.
The ravenette slumps against the wall, his trembling hands lacing through his hair. His heart hammers in his ears, slowly slipping into the unconscious.
Keys chinkle as the mahogany door creaks open, a figure prancing inside. The only light is the quickly fading sunlight which pours through the shattered windows. The figure tosses his bags to the corner before stumbling over to the charcoal haired boy. His pale skin was dusted with sweat, and his hands limply hugged his knees.
Blaine’s fog eyes squint open, stunned by the new comfort. He shifts, locking eyes with the oh-so-familiar figure.
His voice stammers, “Noah?”
“I told you I’d come back.” The brunette’s lips curl weakly, bathing in their homespun silence.
Blaine wraps his thin arms around the taller boy, his eyes glazed.
This is where home is, with him.
The Stars on Constance by Caitlin, grade 9
I feel it in my chest
as I’m walking down Constance,
listening to the low hum of city life set with the sun
it is getting dark now
the moon casts shadows shaped like demons that should scare me
but I can’t bring myself to care.
tonight, the stars in the sky don’t look so lonely, so out of reach
though their tragic gleam entices the lost,
I notice the hope they contain
I feel like I could reach those stars, clutch them in my hand,
pull them from their prison and spread them like glitter across my cheeks, my eyes, my lips
I would be beautiful and tragic and hopeful
and I would shine, just as luminescent and effable as the object of a poem’s awe
everyone would stop to stare
and for once, I would feel like I was where I was meant to be.
I look at my mother, beside me
a smile on her face, she laughs at one of my jokes
she doesn’t need the stars, I think
she glows so bright it seeps through my flesh and into my bones
and warms my heart like the streetlights on my skin.
and because of that feeling, the soothing burn settled deep within my soul
like the sun, or maybe a star in the sky
I no longer feel like a speck in the universe, with nowhere to go and nowhere to be
tonight, I am me
and I am eternal
and I am home.
A Memory by Lily, grade 9
The concentrated mixture hit the chipped, porcelain bowl with a thud. Every day. 5:30 pm. Pea and ham soup. Despite the exhaustive efforts of the staff to make the place more lively and comfortable, the lifeless spirits of the residents brought upon a depressing atmosphere. Each soul with a shallow and pale face so transparent their cheekbones were visible. The dining hall was silent apart from the clinking of metal spoons and the scuffs of wheelchairs. No one spoke to each other.
Marjorie let out a sigh as she was pulled from the room by a carer. The stereo clicked, indicating the next song, and a rustic piano rhythm played. Marjorie’s eyes instantly sparkled. “Stop,” she whispered, “let me listen.”
The carer left Marjorie in front of the stereo, where she had closed her eyes and was swaying to the music. Though no one knew it, she was experiencing something beyond a dream - a memory. Visions flooded her head of endless hours in the kitchen spent with her mother. Together, they danced across the floor as pies, cookies and cakes were baked. The aroma of vanilla and cinnamon was everlasting, and a standing reminder of her childhood.
Tenderly, as the last piano chord finished, Marjorie opened her eyes. The pure joy and happiness displayed in her face were like an inflating balloon. Her eyes gleamed, and her gloomy thoughts vanished. From now on, she could simply close her eyes, escape, and go home.
Fragmented Coordinates by Alice, grade 11
To your young and untrained eye, it would appear as though I have lived countless lives within my time on this planet.
“How?” you might ask. To which my answer would come in the form of a map, adorned with dozens of premeditated pins seemingly placed at random. There would be dates carefully written underneath each pin. Some would span for years whilst others mere weeks. My chronological narrative is charted on this page, with strings of twine roping each point into a firm embrace.
For you see my friend, I have in fact lived countless lives in countless towns in countless houses. The people who now reside in the places where my childhood days once ran rampant might very well be shocked. Because if you peer in a little closer, you’ll find the fragmented pieces of myself I’ve left behind in the homes I used to call my own.
You might catch them within the crook of an old bookshelf I once crammed with stories. Or inside the dust ridden pantry that served as my trusty hiding spot. You can peep through the abundance of cracks in the dry wall, out into the overgrown garden. Where you might see them swinging from the branches of an old Lilly Pilly tree. Or perhaps spot them learning to tie their shoelaces on the moss-covered steps leading to the laundry.
And now? My map lies dormant as I do the same.
As it seems I’ve run out of pieces to leave behind.
Home is Where the Heart Is by Tarni, grade 12
“I wish my mind’d go too; you know?”
The girl looked up from her book. Her grandmother looked wistfully to the trees outside, scheduled to be cut.
“If my mind went, it would be easier. It’s torture, crumbling away like a used cigarette. Did you know I used to smoke?” She inhaled to catch the forgotten scent.
“No, I didn’t.” None of the family did. They’d never bothered to ask.
“We all used to do it, back then. Can you put some honey in my tea for me?”
Her hands shook as she lifted the glass, liquid spilling down her dressing gown before it could reach her lips.
She sighed. “At least when your Grandfather had dementia, he wasn’t trapped inside this bed. Me, even my hands are gone. I just want one more family dinner, one more movie night. Is that too much to ask?” She wiped her eye.
“Tell me what it’s like to live outside this room.”
And her granddaughter did. She wove tales out of threads, some true, others fantasy. It did not matter what was real and fake when she would not be factchecking her anyway. What mattered was the ghost of a smile spreading across her grandmother’s face.
She did not tell her grandmother about the loneliness, the empty space.
A respite facility could never become her home. But the grandmother withering away inside it, she already was.
Because of the Home Within You by Clara, grade 12
My main regret was thinking that these four peaches-and-cream walls promised a home. All my life, I felt a deep homesickness for a home that never seemed to exist, for no infrastructure ignited the supposed warmth a home is supposedly known for having.
Until now, 2.34am on an honest Tuesday, I met him.
God, he could make hell feel like home if he tried. Home only means something when it’s filled with the love we desperately desire.
Once I met him, I thought I’d never feel at home again, because he will carry a singular piece of my jigsaw heart everywhere he goes. I suppose that is the risk of having such a deep, madly crazed love.
I knew I was home when I saw the pain behind his smile first and the beauty within it second. It was a blessing and a curse, because I was so captivated by the home I built within him that I didn’t notice the locked door.
I felt the ceiling mourn as he began to fade away. Slowly.
Being in love was so blinding, I realised that I overromanticized him because the reality of him was simply not good enough.
I used to choke on his words, you have no idea how nice it is to breathe again; unconditionally and without hesitation. He taught me that there’s no happy ending until you choose to love yourself. For this I thank him, now I am my own home.
Heartbreak will never evict me again.
Capsuled in Time by Brune, grade 9
Our bodies rest in a circle on the soil. It’s cold so I join Chiara in her cosy, blue quilt. I haven’t seen them in what feels like forever. Here, we sit at our beloved hangout spot. It seemed enchanting when we were young, but the magic doesn’t come from the dwindling castle anymore, but instead, the nostalgia. It feels like home. I could come and feel safe. I reminisce about all the games of Capture the Flag we played and how many times Jayce left with a bleeding knee from getting a little bit too competitive. Laurel and I lock eyes for a moment, and I can’t help but enfold her into my arms.
“Should we open it?” Chiara seems to be leaking with excitement. We all nod our heads. The box is old and worn out. Our time capsule. We made it before Pedro left for Spain. Chiara glances at me, inviting me to open it. The box makes my fingers dusty as soon as I touch it and it takes more strength than I anticipated to pry it open. It finally budges and when I lift off the lid, my mind becomes suffocated with memories that I didn’t even know I had. Our most sacred, beloved items, captured like a polaroid picture, only now being developed. Inside, I see Pedro’s baseball hat, Jayce’s blue karate belt, Laurel’s locket, Chiara’s music box, and my bracelet.
The University of Queensland
Home of the Brisbane Writers Festival
State Library of Queensland
Australia Council for the Arts
Brisbane City Council
Creative Partnerships Australia