An Arm And A Leg by Mya Metivier
2022 finalist: Grades 10 to 12 category
An Arm And A Leg by Mya Metivier is one of 11 stories shortlisted for The First Page student writing competition in the Grades 10 to 12 category for 2022.
Students across Canada wrote the first page of a novel set 150 years in the future, imagining how a current-day trend or issue has played out. More than 1,800 students submitted their stories.
The shortlist was selected by a team of writers across Canada. The winners, to be selected by bestselling YA writer Sarah Raughley, will be announced on May 31.
Metivier, 16, a student from Colonel Gray Senior High School in Charlottetown, writes about healthcare.
The environment is sterile, only the smell of disinfectant and blood in the air. I adjust the mask on my face, ignoring the screaming from the halls. Unhappy patients, I bet. I don't have time to pay them mind, I have to wash my hands before I can extract the payment from the patient.
I try not to think about how blood will be coating the very same hands I'm cleaning. I can only use water — the patient can't afford for me to use soap. I enter the operating room. The patient is knocked out, his head bruised — that's much cheaper than anything else. He only needs corrective surgery on a slight deformity — it isn't worth this cost.
I extract the needed organ quickly, so the patient doesn't get charged more. I then leave — they can't afford for the wound to be sealed. His mother pushes past me into the room, if she wants to try to stop the bleeding, let her be my guest. I encourage it, cleaning up a dead body would be extra. I take the kidney to the designated area, dropping it off so it can either be sold to pay for the patient or go to someone who can afford it.
The environment is sterile, only the smell of disinfectant and blood in the air.
I'm left with my shaking, bloody hands now. I couldn't add to their charge by wearing gloves. It's the end of my shift now, it was hours ago, but I'm not even technically in the hospital for work right now.
I clean myself up before heading to a certain room, my heavy metal legs hitting the tiles with a dull thud. The room holds a small girl, she's hooked up to every machine possible. I wince at the memory of my mother and father selling all of their organs to pay for her. I took them outside of the hospital to alleviate the charges of using medical equipment, I left our backyard painted red but it still wasn't enough. Now mom and dad are gone, washed away with the rain. I have to keep my sister alive on my own now.
I briefly entertained the thought of taking one of my sister's organs — a small one, maybe her gallbladder, to make her pay for her own life. But I can't. It wouldn't be worth the surgery costs. I have one option. She's worth another limb, right? Maybe I'll give up an arm this time.
CBC Books asked students to give us a glimpse of the great Canadian novel of the year 2172. They wrote the first page of a book set 150 years in the future, with the protagonist facing an issue that's topical today and set the scene for how it's all playing out in a century and a half.
Two winning entries — one from the Grades 7 to 9 category and one from the Grades 10 to 12 category — will be chosen by bestselling author Sarah Raughley.
A writer and lecturer from Southern Ontario, Raughley is the author of the YA Effigies series — which includes Fate of Flames, Siege of Shadows and Legacy of Light — and the fantasy novel The Bones of Ruin for ages 14 and up.
- Marty Chan, Alta., author of Willpower
- Gabrielle Prendergast, B.C., author of The Overwood
- Shane Arbuthnott, Sask., author of Guardians of Porthaven
- Angela Ahn, B.C., author of Peter Lee's Notes from the Field
- Andre Fenton, N.S., author of The Summer Between Us
- Tash McAdam, B.C., author of The Ooze
- Regina Hansen, P.E.I., author of The Coming Storm
- Angela Misri, Ont., author of Valhamster
- Hetxw'ms Gyetxw Brett D. Huson, B.C., author of The Wolf Mother
- MJ Lyons, Ont., author of Murder at the World's Fair
- Nadine Neema, Que., author of Journal of a Travelling Girl
- Alex Lyttle, Alta., author of From Ant to Eagle
The winner will be announced on CBC Books on May 31, 2022.
Both winners will receive a one-year subscription to OwlCrate, which sends fresh boxes of books to young readers across Canada on a monthly basis. In addition, each of the winners' schools will receive 50 free YA books. Special thanks to Penguin Random House, Raincoast Books, Scholastic Canada, Annick Press, KidsCan Press, Groundwood Books, Orca Books and Simon & Schuster for donating books for the prize.