Grace P. submits entry for the Litmus Creative Writing Competition
The Litmus is a new creative writing initiative for UK-wide school students, inviting submissions up to 500 words which consider the phrase "in common". Grace P., a student in Year 7, has sent in a fantastic entry:
The ringtone on the laptop burst into song, its melancholy tune reminding Savannah of all she had to gain, and all she had to lose. She held her breath. There was a chance. They didn’t have much in common. But she was sure it was him. Her dad. Her heart pounded in her chest so hard she feared she might break apart. It had to be him, after all she had done to track him down. It had been almost easy once she tried. She'd had to do it in secret, hiding away with her laptop. Not let the other foster kids see. Alan and Tyler had got close to catching her once, but she’d turned them away with stories of maths homework. Nadia was harder to dissuade. Nadia was eleven, older than Alan and almost double Tyler’s age. She didn’t buy homework stories, not unless there was proof. But Savannah knew things. She'd shut Nadia up. For a while, at least. It was lucky that Martin has been busy. Busy with Alan’s schoolwork and Nadia’s SATs. Busy with Jo and Harvey’s antics. Busy with all the others. No-one had time for a lonely teenager. Which, in a way, was good. If Martin had been himself, he would surely of noticed her long periods of solitude in her room, scouring the internet for a sign.
Savannah looked back to the laptop screen. Still ringing. Still waiting. She thought about when she’d seen the picture, and known it was him. True, he was white, not brown like her, but her mother was black, at least in Savannah’s photo of her, so it would make sense if her dad looked like the internet said he did. Opposite of her. Nothing the same, yet everything in common. He was part of her. Her father. The empty parent figure that had been absent all her life. Her heart ached. And then the ringing stopped.
Savannah looked at the screen, and into the eyes of a man. Her father? Her chest felt tight, like it couldn’t let in air for fear of bursting. Her eyes stung. Her father. Her living, breathing father. Not a featureless, nameless shadow anymore. A real person. Taking in his wide brows, his deep eyes, she realised they had so much in common. She opened her mouth. She didn’t know what she was going to say. ‘Hello'?’ Too nonchalant. ‘I’ve missed you’? She never knew him enough to miss him. A tiny, malicious voice deep inside her suggested ‘Why did you abandon me?’ Savannah pushed it away. She closed her mouth, then opened it again- an emotional goldfish. Her feelings were in exhilarated turmoil. The tiny voice poked at her confidence again, whispering ‘You don’t know why he left, do you?’
He gasped; eyes wet with tears.
She reached towards the screen. It felt like a huge empty hole inside her had been filled. She didn’t care who he was, if he had other kids or not. He was her dad.