English Dept News

QIEU Literary Competition

Recently, the QIEU Literary Competition was held.  This annual event invites students and teachers from across Queensland to submit original stories or poems for consideration.  A number of students from Brigidine enterered their work this year, with Year 9 student, Claudia Pilgrim, receiving a Highly Commended.  She will receive her award at a ceremony to be held in October.

We congratulate Claudia on this achievement.  Here is her story:

Ballerina

by Claudia Pilgrim

Sasha felt the liquid drug seeping through her veins. She shuddered, hating the familiar sensation. She eyed the doctor drowsily and felt the effects kicking in.

It was a sedative, Sasha had learned by now. It made her and the other students easy to control. Her body began to ache, and she felt like her limbs were made of lead. She was picked up and taken to her room.

Sasha woke the next morning with little memory. She was ushered to a large room and forced to change into her leotard and ballet tights. Her training came back to her as she took her place by the barre, the same spot every day.

The students began to développé, and Sasha extended her leg.

Higher, Sasha. Turn your ankle on an angle for a better roundhouse kick.

The haunting classical music echoed through her ears. She stretched her arms out in time with the tune. Her feet moved gracefully along the floor, specific steps she had locked into her brain over the years.

Cock the gun, finger off the safety. Aim then squeeze the trigger.

Sasha elevated onto her pointe. Instructors circled her, examining her. She moved to second position.

Arm straight, eyes on your target always. Bend and throw the knife forward.

A woman arrived at her side while Sasha was in a deep plié. “Child, there is blood on your leotard,” her greying hair was in a tight bun and her Russian accent was strong.

Sasha glanced down, crimson stained the white fabric of her chest. How had she not noticed? She knew better than to make silly mistakes like this. “I’m sorry, madame. It won’t happen again,” she replied, yesterday’s memories resurfacing.

Bang, bang, bang. Blood everywhere. “Clean that up, Sasha.”

The instructor glared. “Yes, it won’t.” She walked away and began to critique the next student.

Sasha finished in fifth position. The stain tinged at her heart, a constant reminder. She felt tears form at the corners of her blue eyes. They were hot against her cheek. She wiped them away before anyone would notice.

Stop sulking, child. Assassins don’t cry.

Memories ran through her mind like a distorted movie. She tried to focus on the counts instead, repeating them to herself over and over again. 5, 6, 7, 8.

Again, Sasha. You can do better.

But the thoughts dwindled in the back of her head, faded and distant. Sasha noticed the other students practicing the same steps as her. Not even one of them was out of time. Was she the only one who felt… different?

Fear controls you, child. You must learn to control it instead.

She remembered a chair, a white room and a tray of syringes. An old man in a doctor’s coat lifting her wrist. The sedative.

Another room came in to display. Large and open, with wooden flooring. Perfect dynamics for screams to echo. A woman wearing a blindfold, strapped to a stool.

Are you scared, Sasha?

An explosion so loud it rattled her bones and rung in her ears. Dizziness overwhelmed her and Sasha stopped. She looked down at her feet, wrapped in her pale pink pointe shoes. A wooden floor beneath them.

Blood everywhere.

It was then that Sasha realised something. The sedative had not worked, she thought. An instructor eyed her suspiciously, and she forced herself to re-join the other students. “One two three four, and five six, and seven eight.”

Taking a deep breath, she moved back into first position. She closed her eyes, trying her best to ignore what she now knew.

Her knuckles turned white as she gripped the barre tighter.

Only hours earlier had it been soaked red.

Christina Ong

English Teacher