Through volunteering at Clumber Park, a National Trust property in the Midlands, I became interested in organising a short story competition with the title, “The Bridge”. I piloted the competition with young learners at Endeavour, based in Burngreave, Sheffield. This is the winning entry written by Lorena who has been a student at Endeavour since January 2019. Lorena was born in Spain and she currently lives with her sisters in Sheffield after spending the previous three years with her parents in Angola.
Not even the silver moonlight can make our side look different. No matter how many stars shine, the dilapidated houses still look the same. At least now there is silence. I can hear is my heartbeat and my quickening breath. My legs drag across the ground. I try to be quick, but I don’t want anyone to hear, I can’t let anyone see me. Even now I am still considering: was this a good idea? Leaving everything I have ever known… even Marta? Our side of the bridge doesn’t seem as easy anymore.
The van is where they said it would be. My ticket to a better life, to better opportunities. I’ve heard that on the other side, Flora’s life isn’t like ours. They say no one struggles, that’s the only reason mum let me go, because she says I deserve more.
Twenty other people are sitting at the back of the van. All of their eyes are tired, fighting not to fall asleep. While a mother tries to hush her child, I sneak small pieces of my cold turkey sandwich past my lips. From the little crack of light on the van’s roof I can see sky. We have been here a while because the deep dark blue of the sky has changed to all the different shades of orange.
“It won’t be long, we’re almost at the bridge”, I hear a father say to his child. The two taps coming from the front of the van reassure us that we are at the bridge.
I hold my breath. I try to make the least noise I possibly can. Police officers walk around the van, I hear their steady footsteps. They rattle and shake the van. The fear in the van is almost palpable. Mumbling the only prayer I know, I wait, hoping we don’t get caught.
“Check everything”, a voice from outside says. I shouldn’t have done this. I should have stayed. Everyone is startled when the doors open. I try to hide my face from the light hoping that it’s all just a bad dream. Tears sting my eyes. My palms are sweaty. These few seconds seem to stretch into a lifetime. I look between my fingers. “All clear” the police officer standing at the doors says.
Tears still stream down my eyes but now they are a different kind. For a second nothing matters, only the fact that I am alive. I don’t allow my eyes to shut during the rest of the journey; I fear things might go wrong again if I do.
The van comes to a stop and we all know we have made it. Mothers cradle their children, glad that they are finally safe.
“Out you get!” the driver tells us, a small smile on his face. As I walk away from the van, not looking back, I realise that there is no guarantee that I will accomplish my dreams, but part of me knows that hope always wins.