Earlier this year, our Editor in Chief Sarah Cheverton judged entries to the Fratton Big Local writing competition, One Day in Fratton. Over 3 weeks, we are publishing the winners and runners up. One of this week’s 3 stories is a beautifully written and heart-breaking tale by Billie Legg from Portsmouth Academy.
Runner up, 12 – 16 years category
One Day in Fratton by Billie Legg
The attack happened within seconds but it felt like hours. His throat was tight and he felt like he was being suffocated by a million groping hands wrapped around his neck like an anaconda ready to strangle the life from its prey. His trembling, clammy hands gripped onto the sleeves of his dull, faded, orange hoodie. A hole resided within the left sleeve from the thousands of anxiety attacks he suffered; Quinnton Chester often shifted his thumb within this hole whenever he seemed to have calmed. Quinnton truly despised his name, often wanting to be called Quinn or Chester.
His hands slithered up towards his hood and he pulled it tightly over his head as droplets of twinkling rain began to drop from high heaven. His red Converse pounding upon the harsh, grey concrete. Quinnton’s heart was pounding like a race horse galloping upon the grass track, its owner’s riding crop striking its flank and forcing it faster and faster until –
Quinnton finally reached the home of his mother. The corner of his mouth twitching into a slight smile at the comforting company of his mum. He entered through the gate and began to walk down the winding path. He hadn’t gone to see his mother in some time, actually. A bouquet of brightly coloured flowers were safely packed into his backpack for her – white carnations with their purity, tiger lilies with their flaming orange of passion and soft, striped freckles of dark amber and finally, his mother’s favourite, purple pansies. Some of their gentle, lilac petals had dropped off within the bottom of his bag but he was not to know until he took them out later that afternoon.
The rain finally gave way and a sympathetic break within the clouds let a soft ray of light spread its warmth over Quinnton. Finally, he came before his mother. Quinny settled within the comforting blades of grass. Wet droplets of rain soaked into his trousers but he didn’t mind – he’d deal with that later. For now, he was with his mother. He crossed his legs and opened up his pack and slowly clasped his hands around the flowers and brought them out.
“I thought you might like these, mum”, he muttered shyly, his cheeks flushing with a ruddy red. “Sorry I haven’t visited more often… School work n’ stuff been keeping me back and I’ve only just managed to get the money for the flowers.”
He swallowed his Adam’s apple and began to fiddle once more with the worn and torn sleeve of his jumper. A sigh escaped his lips as he placed the flowers within his lap and ruffled his hair back.
“How have you been doing? Must be lonely, all out here on your own.” Quinnton tried to start a conversation but it was definitely one sided.
A hush engulfed them, creating an awkward tension. Quinnton finally broke the silence.
“I gotta go, sorry…” he choked out.
He slowly began to rise, grass stains on his knees. He gripped onto the flowers tightly before finally placing them besides the limestone grave that read:
Molly Chester, Beloved Mother and Wife, 1962-2017
Tears began to emerge from the corner of his eyes.
He followed the path back to the gate and left Fratton Cemetery.
Judge’s comment, by Editor in Chief, Sarah Cheverton
Billie’s story about a young man visiting his mother used beautiful visual images throughout to lead the reader to its heart-breaking ending.
One Day in Fratton is an annual writing competition run by Fratton Big Local for residents of all ages. S&C is publishing the winners across three categories: 9-11 years, 12-16 years and 17 years and over, and you will be able to read all winners here as they’re published.