22nd May 2009 at 01:00
By Liesl Rowe, 15, one of the winners of this year's WordTESS short story competition

Here I sit, behind these bars, trapped in a cell. The clock on the wall ticks the hours away as it has done for the last five years. A guard watches my every move through the bars - watching and waiting.

I don't know what I did to deserve this living hell: this life of only being able to sit and watch the world go by; no freedom; a life sentence in jail. The Master will come soon, the ever-mighty jailer lording it over this humble jailbird. Everyday he comes and asks me the same questions - an interrogation. Everyday I don't know how to answer him. Sometimes his children come with him. They poke me through the bars, laughing at their new game - "Torturing Henry". If I retaliate, then they run away, crying to their father, the lord of the manor. They seem to get a kick out of hurting a living being, seeing the pain on its face.

The guard begins to creep slowly towards the cell wall. He stretches his hand through the bars. I back away slowly, knowing that he is going to strike. I can only go so far, not far enough to be out of range. The guard tenses as he comes in for the kill.

The Master walks in through the door. Seeing what is going on, he reprimands the guard in a cool, calm voice with an edge of steel; "Now Felix, we can't have you going round hurting our friend Henry here, can we?"

The guard backs off, knowing he can't disobey his master. He will try again tomorrow, a routine threat for me to avoid - a bridge that has to be crossed. At this time, the wait before breakfast, I daydream of the life I could have had out of this cell - a life under the sun with no worries. I can't really remember what sunlight looks like any more, as I have been underground so long in this dark cellar. It's a sort of yellow colour, isn't it? It's a yellow light that shines onto the grass and flowers. Yellow symbolises happiness and freedom, whereas black is misery and prison and death. Black sounds like it has a lot to do with my life as a jailbird.

The clock strikes ten and The Master enters the room. It is time for the interrogation; "Hello Henry, who's a pretty little budgie, eh? How about some breakfast?"

Felix the cat stretched out on the settee while his owner took care of Henry, the bird in the cage. He was a yellow budgie, the colour of sunlight, symbolising his former happiness before his master bought him at the pet shop five years previously - before he became a jailbird.

Liesl is a pupil at St Margaret's School for Girls, Aberdeen


Euan West, 18, Aberdeen Grammar - On Display

Jennifer Gray, 18, Meldrum Academy - The Music Room

Natasha Bain, 15, Fraserburgh Academy - No Hiding Place

Alexander McCall, 15, Kemnay Academy - Stone Cold

Morgan Prihoda, 13, Banchory Academy - On Display

Nikki Holt, 14, Bridge of Don Academy - On Display

Rachel Smith, 14, Banchory Academy - On Display

Francesca Ballard, 15, Mackie Academy - On Display

Naomi Lewis, 15, Fraserburgh Academy - On Display

Sian Fitzpatrick, 15, Hazlehead Academy - On Display

Emma Hay, 17, Dyce Academy - No Hiding Place.

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