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The winners of a lockdown short story competition run by Kintyre’s Argyll and Bute Council Community Learning Team in partnership with Found Fiction were revealed on Tuesday.
The competition was open to writers of all ages and has been won by Bethan Neil, aged 11, from Benderloch, and Julie Forrester, from Dunoon.
It was run with the aim of encouraging people locally to get creative and focus on a positive activity during lockdown, to overcome the stresses and upheavals it may have caused.
Found Fiction, a guerrilla publishing community connecting readers and writers across the world by leaving literature in public places, will make sure that the stories continue to reach the community. Once it is safe to do so – when there is no chance of Covid cross-contamination – all the stories that were submitted will be printed, put into envelopes and distributed in random spots throughout the local authority area for people to find and enjoy.
The project was supported from the outset by bestselling crime writer Denzil Meyrick who is originally from Campbeltown. Denzil said: ‘I was really impressed by the support group that sprung up in Kintyre in the wake of the Covid lockdown. Yet again, the community spirit that exists across the peninsula has come to the fore. Help was available to everyone, particularly the most vulnerable, via a scheme populated mainly by volunteers.
‘The short story competition was a great idea and gleaned some fabulous results. I’m delighted to be able to support it in conjunction with my publisher Polygon. Along with my continued financial support of the Campbeltown seafront regeneration project, it reconfirms my commitment to the area that I still call home. It remains the inspiration behind my Daley novels and my latest novella A Large Measure of Snow.’
Bethan Neil’s short story is below. See next week’s Courier for Julie Forrester’s winning entry.
The Wave Seeker by Bethan Neil
The wave seeker rode the wave as it crashed down against the shore. The wind howled and clouds rumbled around her as she continued to play in the ocean. The night sky was covered by clouds – not a star in sight. Her mother called for her to return home. Her mother’s voice was as elegant as the moonlight as it reached Elana’s ears. Elana felt most alive on the waves of thunder – the danger of it, the excitement of it, the power of the waves, pushing her back to the shore, where she wished never to be.
Elana was never very sociable. She had never felt the need to be. What was the point of friends when she had the ocean? The ocean thrilled her – people and land did not. The land was dry and boring, the landscape of it never seemed to change, people were always busy and did things unnecessary in the water. In the water there was always change. Elana never knew what to expect – that is what thrilled her most. She loved the feeling of not knowing and wondering all the time what would happen next. Every chance she had, she would go for a swim in the sea. In Oban there were many beaches, so Elana never had any trouble finding somewhere to swim.
One day at school, they were being taught about old Scottish myths and tales, when suddenly the name the wave seeker appeared. Elana shot her hand up immediately.
‘Yes Elana?’ The teacher said.
‘I knew about the wave seeker, but I never knew anyone had written about it,’ Elana replied.
‘Oh yes Elana, many people have even claimed to see the wave seeker. They say the wave seeker prefers the stormy weather, and tends only to be around at night. Apparently the wave seeker has only ever been spotted in Oban. I myself have always wanted to spot the wave seeker – such an elegant creature. On land, a human – in the water, a kelpie,’ the teacher said.
That weekend, Elana went for another swim. Again, it was stormy weather – just how she liked it. Elana walked in until she was deep enough to swim. After swimming deeper, she turned around. She saw another person standing by the shore, looking right at her. The person was too far away to tell clearly who it was, so she swam closer. Once she was close enough, she realised it was her teacher.
What on earth is she doing out here in this weather? Elana thought. Then Elana remembered something. Her teacher had said something about the wave seeker, something like: ‘They say the wave seeker prefers the stormy weather and tends only to be around at night.’
It couldn’t be, or could it be, that the wave seeker was Elana?
Then her teacher said something. ‘Wave seeker?’