Young woman sitting on the floor between the racks of a vinyl record store

First Prize, Autumn 2021

Picture by Karsten Winegeart at Unsplash

  1. Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This), Eurythmics
    For when I’m in double Maths and Mr. Blaze is banging on about simultaneous equations and I’m sat next to mardy Muriel with her too-kipper tie and she won’t even do noughts and crosses in the back of my book ‘cos she’s too much of swot to engage with the likes of me and I would travel the world and the seven seas to be anywhere other than here.
  2. Fly Away, Lenny Kravitz
    For detention, after double Maths, because I didn’t finish the fucking equations and if I could fly out of the window to see the stars, the milky way or even Mars, or even Dagenham High Street at a push – if there wasn’t a choice – I would, because anywhere would be better than this stupid classroom with Mrs. Krakow and her body odour making me feel thick as shit.
  3. To The Moon and Back, Savage Garden
    For when I’m walking back to the home, wishing I was going anywhere but there, wondering where my mum is this time, hoping she’s sober at least, or not banged up anyway – though I don’t actually know which is worse – while trying to stay alert to sleazy Mr. Fariq in his taxi who offers you a ride then tries to touch your legs, or Carla Sykes who’s hard as nails and told me she’d kick my head in when she sees me next ‘cos I looked at her the wrong way and I am mentally packing my bag for outer space and waiting for the right kind of pilot to come. That’s how I got in Mr. Fariq’s taxi in the first place, but he wasn’t the right kind of pilot at all.
  4. Sweet Child O Mine, Guns n Roses
    For later, when I’m lying in my poky bed, in my cell-like ‘bedroom’ trying not to cry myself to sleep longing for someone to stroke my hair and call me their sweet child and for them to take me away to that special place where children live with parents who know how to love them and want to take them to the cinema and shit, instead of being here, hoping Sean isn’t on shift and won’t come to my room and take me to that other special place where I have never, ever wanted to go.