Fiction Winner – Declan Clark

Losing Ryan

By Declan Clark | English with History, Stage 1

We lie on a mattress on the floor, him with his head on my left arm as I read a story. The soft duvet is pulled up to our chins. There was envy and anger here once but tonight I feel calm.

I’ve wet the bed and walk through to the big bedroom and climb in next to him, it’s a hot night and his pyjamas and sheets are sticky, my arms fix to him like Velcro as we cuddle.

On the beach we play king of the castle on the rocks that jut out of the sea, the tide meets them and only the peaks are safe. I proclaim that I’m King Arthur and no one can challenge me to the top.

In the morning we walk along the cliffs, the land is bare and beautiful. The sun breaks through mist and falls upon low thorn bushes and heather. The cold air burns my lungs and we climb an abandoned tower. Pretty plants with drooping red curtains litter the side of the path. I’m told foxgloves are poisonous. I ask what would happen if I touched one and then put my hands to my lips, would I die? I move him out of the way.

Later, we walk along a different cliff, this time a long beach stretches out from the steep descending rock. The sand reflects the sunlight and glitters like diamonds, blinding us. I pull him away from the side and walk down the meandering, twisting path.

Driving to Cornwall, the Pixies are playing on the stereo, making everything bright and colourful. I tell Mum that when I’m older I’ll move to a big city and be a writer or an artist, or an actor or something. I want to do something great and interesting, all by myself. He’s sat quietly in the back, I ask what he wants to be when he grows up, and he says he’s going to live with Mummy forever. I laugh, he’ll soon grow out of that, see the hell in it.

We’re playing king of the castle on the rocks by water. I don’t pay much attention. There’s a few of us, the older ones playing on the top, we’re the kings. He’s too small to climb the pillars on his own, I laugh and thumb my nose.

A wave is angry, it smashes against the rock. I look down but am shocked to see him standing six feet above me. He’s still holding out his hand. The wave pulls back into the ocean and falls behind its comrades. I can hear his shout on the wind.

I can’t move, I’m panicking. Calling for him. I swear I see a little beige body fly between waves in the distance. The sun is so beautiful against the water, the sea looks like another world, chopping and churning in the wind.