2015 YAFF winning story by Else Nye (7th grade/5ème)
The American Library in Paris is proud to be the organizer of the Young Authors Fiction Festival (YAFF). The YAFF is a city-wide writing intiative that aims to strengthen community among English-speakers in the Paris area through the art and craft of storytelling. The YAFF is free of charge and open to all students ages 5-18 in the greater Paris area who write in English.
The Library received 400 submissions at last year’s YAFF and we would like to share some of the stories that were awarded in the 2015 YAFF. The deadline for submission for the 2016 YAFF is 1 April 2016. To submit a story for the 2016 YAFF, go to this online submissions form.
We hope that you enjoy reading these stories, and that they inspire you to write your own!
Troglodytic by Else Nye (First Place for 7th Grade/5eme)
The panther crept closer to the wall, her scary complexion of golden eyes and spiky fur replaced by a look of fear and shock. The man inched toward her, his caramel eyes turning the color of charcoal, his smooth forehead becoming wrinkled with worry. He walked lightly and slowly, approaching her as if she was about to lash out any moment, claws unfurling, hind legs crouching into a pounce position.
She was not what he had expected. She was weak. Her once strong legs were languid with side effects. Her heart was pumping a different liquid through her body, one made of fire and pain, dim flashes of alcohol coursing through her veins.
He was two feet away by now, crouching low, slowly extending his left plam, callused and scarred with knife cuts. Slowly his hand reached up and caressed her muzzle gently. She averted her eyes, scared that his dark orbs would reach into her golden ones and imbibe her soul, sip by sip.
She twisted to face the building behind her, unable to protect herself, settling on the fact that he would eventually give up on her.
She stared at the cold stone dismally, her weary eyelashes blinking as she counted the seconds until he was gone. After a minute or two, she felt the crisp wind that the man had once blocked hitting her back, and she turned back around to face the street.
But he was still there.
Now he stood to the left of her, deftly maneuvering his short stature so that he stood on the other side of her. They locked eyes as he slowly lowered himself, his short mane becoming tousled in the early morning breeze. He bent down, keeping his eyes trained on hers, ready to bolt at the slightest movement. But she just stared sadly into his eyes.
He slid his arms under her furry torso and scooped her into the position that a mother might hold her child in, a comfortable, tightly wrapped hug. For the first time she felt safe, no longer scared of the everlasting plundering and carnage of mankind she had witnessed as a bystander.
She closed her eyes, leaning her spotted head into the cradle of his elbow. He hoisted her further up so that her head now rested on his shoulder. The panther was almost bigger than the man, but in that moment, as the sun peaked over the unattractive crumbly stone apartment buildings, she felt the warmth soak through her thick fur and felt like a tiny cub again, safe in her mother’s arms.
She opened her eyes, only the discover her furry paws had melted away into slender bony hands, her furry body disintegrating into the weak figure of a young woman. The narcotic substance that she had consumed the night before no longer worked its magic, and she was back as who she was, whom she hated. A failure, a burnout. Without her furry husk, the air cut through her bones like swords, and she huddled closer to her captor, nuzzling further into his chest. She didn’t care that he was a stranger, she didn’t care that he was mysteriously intrigued by her dirty hoodlum presence. She was content with the fact that she finally wasn’t alone, and that was all that mattered.
For the first time, she turned to examine her hero more closely. He had dark eyes and black hair. His skin, the color of a warm latte, was covering a thick layer of powerful muscle. He looked down at her eyes, now silvery gray, rather than panther gold. Her black spotted anatomy was now pale skin, the dark fur that has surrounded her just a simple waterfall of hair, black jeans, and a t-shirt. Her powerful legs had now morphed into skinny pale sticks. He exhaled deeply, and for the first time, he spoke.
“Got her.” He announced, lifting a yellow and black walkie talkie to his mouth.
She gasped. She knew that voice. She knew that face. She knew that sly grin creeping onto his face, the same grin that she had seen ten years ago, when she had sprinted to the aid of her fear ridden father, ten seconds too late.
The title “hero” quickly translated into “captor,” as she fought against the man whose arms bound her tightly like the chains and ropes of a torture device. She kicked and punched, but nothing was working.
They were nearing a building, a dark metal shape on the horizon, and she knew that this was going to be the last thing she saw if she didn’t act soon. Five thousand years of survival as the last of her kind, and here was it in front of her: the ending.
She dug into her pocket with one hand, gripping the shoulder of the ferocious man as she fished out the container of meds. She popped open the cap, pinched the man as hard as she could so that he opened his mouth in a scream of agony, and threw the contents of the capsule down his throat. He released her as he grabbed his neck, coughing and spluttering, and she took this moment to her advantage. She bolted down the street until the man was almost out of sight, a shapeless mound lying on the street as the cold morning fog rolled through the city, dampening the dead man’s vacant eyes, which stared straight at the fading stars.
It happened so fast.
A single bronze tear cascaded down her cheek, golden fur bristling up as the tear passed each section of her face.
The panther walked through the city, it’s haunches swaying side to side as it commuted through its quiet streets, back to it’s gray corner, surrounded by gray apartment buildings, on it’s gray street, in a gray city, in a gray world.
And there was no light, except for the glow surrounding the golden panther, a luminous lone figure in a world of pure abomination.