Red broken heart with dried rose petal

I Know Your Secret

Roxy Lang

Joint winner, ages 12-14 short story category

Everyone has a secret. Or maybe even a few. Maybe you don’t even know it yet though. Maybe someone else has guarded it with every inch of their heart. Maybe it just disappeared over a long period of time, or it was eventually forgotten. But whatever it is, it’s locked up in someone’s brain, sometimes in an iron fort guards with guns marching around the perimeter, or maybe it’s in a shabby little shack with only a rope on the door handle as a lock. However, all secrets eventually tumble out. They’re spat on the ground, smashed in like pavement jam until that secret is out, and I, of all people, know that once the secret is out, it never goes back in again. Never. Well then, you must be wondering about me. Don’t I have any secrets? The answer is yes, I do, it’s just that very few of them are mine.

In fact, I’d say that my secrets are my pride and joy. Every single one of them like a plate of the finest cuisine, coming from a famous five-star chef. Each dish handcrafted with so much emotion, ready to be served piping hot on the finest crockery for me to devour. Other people in the same situation would say not to get too roped in, but I’m already well past that stage. Every juicy secret is another flavoursome burst of satisfaction. People say that I’ll return someday but it’s not as simple as that. The thing is, it takes guts to do what I do, and a lot of people don’t have those sorts of guts. I definitely didn’t when I started. Preserving secrets isn’t easy, you know. But don’t worry, i got used to it. It slowly chewed everything out of me and then gulped me down, and I’ve just kind of been part of it ever since.

You could call me a good guy or a bad guy, I guess. All I do is preserve secrets. But there’s a lot more to it than that. Every single day I find out secrets that could destroy the world, put countries into war, and you don’t want to know the rest, I assure you. I’m burdened with the task of keeping these secrets until my dying days. So now I’m sure you understand my torment. Every single day, I sit in the bone chilling iron chair, with my eyes glued on the monitors. The icy slabs of stone that make the desk remind me that I’m not here because I want to be. The colossal iron door. The thundering lights that clank on as I walk past them. The lock with no key. They all remind me that I’m trapped, and just like a secret, once the government has captured a Picot (a species with an incredible long-term memory that feeds off secrets, aka me), there’s no going back. Now you’ve met me. But the problem wasn’t that I didn’t have a voice, it was that I had no one to speak to until I met you.

Secret can be scrumptious, sometimes like taking a fresh bite of tender beef that has been fermenting in its juices for hours, but others are more, shall i say, deadly . . . Like a poisoned frog for me to endeavour that menacingly makes its way through my system, pouring every ounce of its terror into me. It surges through my veins like a bullet. But it doesn’t stop there. Oh no. Next, comes the storm. Dismal, dreary clouds of depression loom over me until it rains, and I’m drowned in my own sorrow. Secrets are food to me. Like how there might be some food you don’t like, there are secrets that I don’t want to hear. But once I’ve heard them, there’s no going back. I’ll remember them forever.

It’s cold in here. Not the sort of cold that makes you want to put on a hat, though. It’s the kind of cold that pierces your skin with jagged daggers. The kind of bittersweet cold that makes you wish you were never born. I know what I have to do: I have to get out. I think I’ve tried everything though I’ve searched every nook and cranny like a hungry wolf searching for the last piece of meat. No use. I need an opportunity. A chance. And when I meet that opportunity, I’ll clasp it in my hands. I’ll hold on to it for dear life. I’ll make sure it never slips away. When that joyous day comes, the sun will sing its precious symphony, and everything will be right again. I thought hoping might help but hoping keeps me longing. And longing keeps me waiting. And if you wait too long, you lose hope.

I’m trapped. The howling winds of realisation shoved me down that midnight black tunnel years ago. I feel like it’s endless, but I push through it. I drag myself through winding tunnels, twisted caves and deathly rivers. Nothing is simple. Ever. I can either be fed but trapped and imprisoned in a never-ending circle of grief, or free and starved of my precious secrets. I can’t win. I can’t do this anymore. I’m sorry. I tried so hard to hope. To be free. My heart shatters into a million pieces. The fragments stare up at me with solemn eyes. I pick up one of the pieces. I’ll be leaving soon. Thanks for listening to me. The fragment hovers over my stomach. I take my final breath as I plunge it into me. Dead of a broken heart. I hope the cracks fix in my next life.