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Literature Club Winners: "Winter" theme

From early December to mid-January, Nations Literature club had their first formal competition. The theme of the competition was "winter". The group encouraged submissions in both the format of a poem or short story. The December break must have really inspired Nations young authors because there were some wonderful submissions. The Literature club would like to thank all the participants for sharing their talent and creativity. All the submissions were special in their own way, but two in particular really stood out.

Without further ado, we present to you the winners of the "Winter" theme;

Overall Winner: Lulwa Naman, year 11, with her creative short story "Lies Between the Blinds"

Honourable Mention: Amélie May Fyfe, year 12, with a beautiful poem titled "Ethereal Surreal Landscape"

If you are interested in participating or would like another shot at winning, no problem! The Literature Club is hosting another Competition, with the new theme being "Love" this does not need to be romantic love, it can be about a friendship, or family, entirely up to you!

The deadline is Sunday the 14th of March. Please send any submissions to

Lies Between the Blinds

Lulwa Naman

It was the sheer shine on her cheek that convinced me she was guilty. Snowflakes refused to melt upon landing on her skin as I questioned her about the happenings of February 22nd, 1999. The light between the blinds of the interrogation room hid her winter blue eyes and emphasised her cherry lips. I thought no wonder every girl falls at her feet. Which happened to be for the worse rather than the better.

Five days earlier, Madelaine Ashton was staying at the Four Seasons hotel in Paris for her first-year anniversary with her girlfriend, Brandy. Everyone’s jaws dropped as Madelaine strutted her way in her ruby high heels through the lobby to the elevator for the first time and every time after that. I had not seen her then, however. I met Madelaine on her second night at the hotel when they had come down for dinner at the restaurant to celebrate.

‘I’ll have a glass of Cabernet, and she will have a Merlot,’ her luscious lips said. They had the most expensive meal of the night, then decided to get drinks at the bar. That is where I met her. After hours of karaoke, everyone at the bar sang Billy Joel’s Piano Man and danced around until they were knocked out. Not Madelaine. No, Madelaine sat on a barstool and observed as Brandy got drunker and drunker.

Sing us the song you’re the piano man. Sing us a song tonight.

The lights went off. A thud. The lights came on.

Laying before us in the middle of the human-dance-circle, Brandy laid there with a slit throat and a knife beside her perfect nose. Her eyes still open, watching the weapon that just took her life.

‘No!’ screamed Madelaine, as she tumbled to the ground with her tears following her. ‘Wake up! Wake up. Wake up,’ she began shaking Brandy. There was no hope. Had I not been at the murder, I would not have this case.

A bead of sweat bled down her face as I asked whether she had left the bar at any point that night.

‘Detective Morley I can assure you, I sat at the bar all night. I was in no mood to dance.’ ‘The very fact that your sobriety existed adds weight to your accusation.’ ‘I do not enjoy mixing drinks, Detective. I already drank a glass of red beforehand.’ ‘In that case, why did you go to the bar in the first place?’

Madelaine explained that Brandy was a wild woman. She loved to party; she was the party. That was one of the reasons she would not have murdered her. She was the love of her life. ‘You can ask Joe, the bartender. I bantered with him all night.’

Joe Rowley had been working at the hotel for five years. He worked his way from room cleaner to bartender in no time. Listening to people’s stories as he served them was the best part of the job. He entered the interrogation room at 5pm on February 23rd.

‘Madelaine did come to the bar that night, but she didn’t say a word. I do not force my customers to a conversation if they are not up for it. Sometimes they just need to cool down, you know?’

‘Yesterday she mentioned you had been speaking all night.’

‘I’m not sure why she would lie about that. She sat in silence and got up at some point to go to the bathroom.’

‘So, she did in fact leave the room at a certain point?’

Joe described that the bathrooms at the hotel were located on the underground floor and that she left to go downstairs and came back fifteen minutes later. An odd amount of time for that purpose, I thought. Immediately after Joe exited the building, I spread the blueprints of the hotel on the table in front of me. On the underground floor, there is an exit which leads to the pool area. Why would she go to the pool area during the wintertime? The security footage he had gathered later on did indeed show Madelaine heading downstairs and coming back up, but nobody else had gone from that floor during the time she was there. The pool area nor the underground floor had any security cameras.

The fingerprints came back from the murder weapon, and none had been found. They must have used gloves or wiped it down. The lights were off for quite some time. I interviewed the guests staying at the hotel to see if they had found anybody suspicious. A woman stood out amongst others.

Lorraine Figueroa, 22 years old. Apart from the vaguest answers of her whereabouts at the scene of the crime, her lips trembled and right hand twitched. Similar to Madelaine, she was an elegant, gorgeous woman who had not much to say.

‘I have never seen Madelaine nor Brandy in my entire life. Let alone any suspicious person at the lobby. I was in my room the entire time. Frankly, it is absurd I have to take time off my vacation to be here,’ she said. ‘Judging from these pictures, Madelaine is a good looking woman. I am sorry for her loss. I am sure she will find someone else in no time. Goodbye.’ A new theory appeared in my mind.

I had to confirm her alibi by checking the security tapes of the hallway with the room number she was in.

6.30pm, the room 205’s door opened to unveil Lorraine dressed in black. Just as I suspected. The cameras managed to follow her all the way until the lobby. Was it possible that the person Madelaine had met arrived at the pool area much before the time of the crime and waited for her arrival?

I called Lorraine back to the interrogation room.

‘Fine. I did meet with Madelaine. From the moment I saw her enter the hotel, I knew I had to know her. It was like an energy drawing me to her. We had met the night before, too, her first night. She was at the pool, staring at the water after closing hours. Dipping her finger into the reflecting moonlight. She seemed upset. I saw her through my window and watched her for some time. I found myself making my way to her. She saw me and smiled. After some silence, we looked into each other’s eyes and kissed,’ narrated Lorraine.

Wow, I thought. Not expecting that.

‘We planned to meet the night after, the night of their anniversary. She mentioned that she would make sure Brandy was drunk enough not to realise she was slipping out for some time. I can confirm that during those fifteen minutes she was with me.’ Madelaine was called back in at 8pm on February 23rd.

‘I was with Lorraine. You can’t tell anyone, detective. I’m ashamed. I went behind Brandy’s back and she died without me having told her. She died believing I was faithful,’ said Madelaine.

‘The only thing that does not add up to me is why you cheated. You claim you loved her.’

‘The day we arrived, Brandy and I fought. I found out she had been taking money from me behind my back and stashing it, secretly. She feared one day we would break up and wanted to make sure she would still be supported. Betrayed my trust completely. That is why

I was at the pool on the first night. That was when I saw Lorraine. I was just so upset. I couldn’t admit that I had left the bar that night because I couldn’t believe what I had done myself.’

I assessed the possible suspects left and wrote down the reasons why they could be guilty.

Madelaine Ashton – Cheater. Why not killer?

Lorraine Figueroa – Wanted Madelaine. Kill the girlfriend.

And something I had not thought of before:


‘Madelaine. Do you think that the guilt Brandy may have had after you finding out about her secret could have driven her to killing herself?’

‘She wouldn’t have killed herself. She loved me and she knew I loved her. There was too much to live for. I was upset, we get upset with each other sometimes. I suppose never to this extent…’

‘Looking at her medical files, she had been diagnosed with clinical depression two years ago. Did you know about this?’

‘Yes. I did. She was just so happy. It seemed like maybe it went away.’

‘Madelaine. Considering everyone from the bar’s alibis and motives, I am going to have to close this case and rule it a suicide. I know you didn’t kill her, and Lorraine wasn’t near the crime scene.’

It all added up perfectly. Thank goodness for that, I thought. They would never find out. They couldn’t. After all, what detective leaves their home without gloves? Brandy was an old friend of mine. She knew I was in love with her, but never had feelings for me. This was much before she had ever met Madelaine. Brandy broke me. I turned to the justice system to heal. Invested my life into becoming this person. Nothing could fix me.

I used a system at the precinct to track Brandy and followed her for days. What better time than winter to die? It was her favourite season after all. I knew that. I knew everything about her. After finding out she was staying at the Four Seasons, I began to plot the perfect murder.

Ethereal surreal landscape

Amélie May Fyfe

Winter comes in bouts

The hills fall over one and other, consistently covered by these persistently falling miniature crystals,

Some kind of unreal escape

A sense of emptiness about

As if adding a layer of white to the earth rid the land of the dirt

And the air has been stirred, yet the way the cold is settling around is kind of welcoming

Everything feels just a little more sound after the snow has come down

A dust of snow from a hemlock tree

Fell in a particular way and showered me with a poisoned promise of a day better than this day I had rued to be ruined until the crow flew in, (symbol of luck, life, prosperity unless interpreted differently)

and it’s funny that the weather could be the deciding factor in the matter of whether my mood might turn for the worse or the better

But as the snow comes down, a million tiny little blessings from the sky greet me

and suddenly I can see past my forehead and beyond to observe this rather ethereal surreal phenomenon

And remember how sweet life can be.


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