Winner – ‘Treasure Island Sweets‘ by Jack Pike
This moment in time, frozen by a Canon AV-1 Camera. A Mr Whippy, fallen and oozing into the cobbled street. Our downfall. The frame that would cause our defense to unravel like a Chupa Chups lolipop wrapper.
It all came to pass on a wintry September Sunday. At the tender age of 11, Peggy and I were enjoying all the trappings of a mild weekend: inventing games, picking bogies and frolicking around the backstreets where we lived. Awash with joy, we stumbled upon a glossy pink and playful shopfront. From inside, the prattle of elated children rang loud, soon to overdose on glucose and fructose. We had reached Treasure Island Sweets, a bastion of soft, hard, chewy, baked and boiled goods.
Boy did Peggy hanker for candy. Her tooth was sweeter than Veruca Salt’s, and her tummy more rotund than Augustus Gloop. She would routinely pinch Jaffa Cakes from school and scoff them during the 5-minute window between lessons, scraping the chocolate off with her teeth before inhaling the orange gelatine and sponge beneath.
In Treasure Island Sweets we had hit the jackpot. Thus we hatched a plan that would allow for hours of blissful indulgence. Peggy unzipped her rucksack and proceeded to pour in fizzy bubblegum bottles, chocolate limes, strawberry refreshers, fruit salads and more pick n’ mix than you can shake a stick at.
Before long we were ravaging the place. Our very own candy heist. Peggy the ringleader and I the accomplice. We lifted our scarfs to our eyeballs to shield our identities and snatched what we could.
I grabbed a Mr Whippy from the snaggleteeth lips of a little girl and followed Peggy to the exit, fumbling and dropping the cone as I went.
Leaving a gooey mess of evidence in our wake.
Runner up – ‘Tiny Wedding‘ by Tom Gimlette
You were ten and I was eight when my sister married us behind the boathouse. A tiny bride and an even tinier groom, clutching each other’s sticky hands as perhaps the bossiest ever pastor fed us our vows to slowly and solemnly repeat. Both of us stammered and tripped over the longer words, and I can remember the delicate pinkness of your blushes. We turned to face each other, and I gently kissed you on the cheek, and with that we were husband and wife. I stared into your freckled light brown eyes, and gently breathed in the warm sea air. Our congregation applauded us, except for your little brother who bawled over his dropped ice cream cone – a legion of ants already picking at the bubble-gum flavoured nectar.
I didn’t see you again for a decade.
It was a party. I didn’t really know anyone, and had been clinging to the remnants of a warm can of beer when I saw you standing in the line for the one overcrowded toilet in the entire building. As I watched you laugh and gossip my mind ran and raced, trying to imagine how the last ten years had been for you. I wondered what you liked and what you disliked, what you danced to, who you read. Did you have a boyfriend? A lover? I thought you looked lovely standing there, and then you turned, and our eyes locked just like they had done behind the boathouse nearly ten years before. I thought I saw a hint of a smile. I think you recognised me. But then we both blushed. You turned away, and I took a deep slug of warm beer and stared into my can.
I suppose it’s better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all.