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Edition 18: The Carbonite’s Daughter by Deryn Pittar

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Highly regarded by all the judges of this year’s Story Quest Short Story competition, Deryn Pittar won with a story of emerging womanhood, in an unfamiliar, post-nuclear world. It was the detailed undercurrents of resistance of the status quo and the alienating effects of religion that truly allowed this piece to shine. SY

I keep a tight grasp of mother’s hand as we hurry down the sloping passage, deeper into the mountain. My small breasts bounce and tingle. They hurt and I wish I had enough boob to wear a bra. I will soon. The walls are warm and already my heavy coat is making me hot. I want to stop and take it off but we have a train to catch.

“When will we see Dad?”

Mother stops and puts her arm around my shoulder, whispering into my ear, “Shhh. The walls are listening.”

I look around. No ears in sight. She is talking in riddles again. I look into her dark brown eyes, her Welsh heritage she tells me, and I see fresh grey hairs around her temple. Today she looks older. She kisses my cheek and smiles. The sodium lights in the passageway pick out the fine lines around her eyes. Why haven’t I notice this before? My excitement for the last month has blinded me to everyday things, but I haven’t seen my father for two years. I whisper back.

“When, Mother?”

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