Books·The First Page

Count Down by Teaghan Fetherstonhaugh

Read the first page of Teaghan Fetherstonhaugh's novel imagining the world in 150 years.

2017 finalist: Grades 7 to 9 category

Teaghan Fetherstonhaugh is a finalist for the 2017 The First Page student writing challenge in the Grades 7 to 9 category. (Courtesy of Teaghan Fetherstonhaugh)

Count Down by Teaghan Fetherstonhaugh is one of 10 stories shortlisted for CBC Books' The First Page student writing competition in the Grades 7 to 9 category. 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. Over 2,400 students submitted their stories.

Fetherstonhaugh, a student at William D. Pratt School in Calgary, Alta., tackles population growth in her piece.

Tick tick tick tick. I looked down at my watch, 27 years, 62 days, four hours, six minutes and 34 seconds. It was counting down to my death day, which is the day I turn 50. I had heard stories from 150 years ago about people just living for as long as they could but there was no order to that. It changed 100 years ago in 2067; you now die at 50. This kept resources and water controlled because both were starting to run out. 

Tomorrow was my Father's death day. This was a day to be celebrated with family and friends. Everyone would attend, my sibling, my uncles, my aunts and of course my mother who had another couple months until her death day. I was in charge of planning Father's death day. It had to be perfect. I knew my Father better than anyone, I knew exactly what to do. I asked everyone for holograms or videos from their favourite moments with him and with those I made a video that compiled all of his life's accomplishments and great moments. I just had to show it to him. 

Twenty-seven years, 61 days, 22 hours, 44 minutes, and 58 seconds I read from my watch. Today was the day. I almost instantaneously got dressed with the clothes I had set out the previous night, made my bed and headed down stairs.

"Morning Taylor, are you ready?" my sister asked. 

"Yes I am, should we go now?" I replied.

"Definitely," she said, eager to see our Father.

We got into the flying car and headed down to Father's house.

We welcomed everyone and thanked them for coming. Throughout the night there were speeches and laughing. Singing and dancing. Everyone was having a good time, but my Father had a smile that stretched from ear to ear. Finally at the end of the night we finished with my gift.

"That's my daughter! Always prepared and always on top of things!" My Father announced proudly.

"I hope you like it Father, but before we start I just wanted to say I love you," I replied.

We watched my video, but finally the time had come to start the countdown.

"Ten, nine, eight, seven, six," everyone cheered jumping up and down while waving to my Father as he prepared himself for death. "Five, four, three, two. Gasp." 

About The First Page student writing challenge

CBC Books asked students to give us a glimpse of the great Canadian novel of the year 2167. 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 award-winning YA writer Erin Bow, author of The Scorpion Rules. The winner will be announced on CBC Radio's q on Jan. 24, 2018.

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.

CBC Books' next student writing competition is the Shakespeare Selfie Student Writing Challenge, which will open in April 2018.