The Tightrope Between Worlds: Creative Writing Student Highlight

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5 days ago

“The second we got here, my home was with you.”

A writing sample from Inspire Summer 2024 Creative Writing.

Author: Bella Pettit

Grade: 11th

High School: Riverside High School

Favorite Genre: Dystopian Fiction

Author’s Note: A story about two barely-grown adult soldiers, Spira and Oka, who hop between worlds thanks to the commands of a multiversal empire. This excerpt is after they complete their training, and realize that they’ll never be returning to this planet and its familiarities ever again. Hope you enjoy!

Once, years ago, Spira had looked out on this view and…

Was laughing.

She must have been sick.

The city of Arachnid was bottled pain at every turn.

Every roar of an engine, every eruption of laughter, every impact a skipping child makes on concrete—every noise’s deathly echo makes her want to hurl.

Because past those neon lights and billboards and gliders and skyscrapers that glowed

with those lights and the dusty, heavy air that clung to skin, there were lives.

Even past all of that, past one of the eight pillars supporting the city’s fused metal dome—which may as well be a gag with how it blocks clean air, laid a wasteland of memories in twisted, rusted heaps of what were once villages and cities pitiful to that of Arachnid.

If a kid was lucky, maybe they’d be able to ride their bike from years ago, again. Maybe they would be able to giggle uncontrollably at the sheer joy, again.

She. Wanted. To. Hurl. It wasn’t fair.

Those noises sounded so quiet now, overwhelmed by the weight of splattered tears on callused palms and shaky intakes of breath that teetered on a full sob.

The figure, standing slumped yet stock-still on her prison’s magnificent balcony railing, had beautiful ocean eyes glistening, pale brown hair long having lost its delicate bun and was now clinging stiffly to her wet cheeks.

A door creaked behind her, the culprit barely able to suppress a wince as Spira snapped towards the sound as quickly as her hand darted to her side to wield a sword against whoever was there…only for it to clatter to the ground.

She did break into a sob right then, equally shaky arms wrapping around her with a soft “I’m here.”

“This is just…stu-pid.” Spira’s voice cracked, easing out of the embrace to wipe at her eyes. “We’ll never be able to call a place home again, will we?”

“No.” His voice was so shaky, so unlike the joyful Oka Spira knew so well that her stomach only churned harsher. It was then that Spira truly took in his condition, with his dark brown mop of hair just as disheveled as she felt hers was. His slim shoulders were slumped, and the one hand that couldn’t ball into a fist was creasing its held folder hard enough for it to bend.

She let out a humorless breath of a laugh, “Funny how this place has gone from a prison to a home, and now it’ll be gone.”

Oka hummed non-committedly, eyes glazed and giving a quiet reply of, “I guess…this is what the training’s been for.” He flipped the file open, idly skimming the pages and processing absolutely none of the information dump of rules and restrictions and profiles and poorly veiled threats.

Spira scowled at the file. “Well, pardon me for not being ready to sell my soul to a bunch of power hungry imbeciles.”

“Our souls.” Oka corrected, not removing his unfocused gaze from the file. “What?”

He looked up, face carefully void of emotion, like what he said was common knowledge. “We…came here together. We trained together. We’ll face this together.” A sad attempt at a smile was made.

Spira tensed.

Oka closed the file and stooped to pick up the sword. Spira numbly accepted his offer to return the sword, sniffling.

“What about our homes?”

Oka didn’t spare a glance at the alive city behind Spira. “The second we got here, my home was with you.” Spira smiled again, and that was all he needed.