Books·The First Page

Finding Out Who I Am by Mikaylah Ramos

Read the first page of Mikaylah Ramos's novel imagining the world in 150 years.

2017 finalist: Grades 7 to 9 category

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

Finding Out Who I Am by Mikaylah Ramos 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.

Ramos, a student at École Sacré-Coeur in Winnipeg, Man., tackles the future of education in her piece.

I wake up to the soft morning breeze that goes through my bedroom window. I look to the wall, and it comes to life. The screen shows that today is the day when we're going to test "our secret project" for the 300th year anniversary.

Everyone needs to be there, everyone has a special contribution. Even me, and I'm only 16.

I sigh, and get out of bed, eat breakfast and get dressed. I wear gold and black, to signify what I am and what I do for the country. The living room powers up when it detects my presence. "Hello Diamond, your tea is waiting for you at the door. It's made just the way you love it. I know you have a big day today." 

I smile at the voice. I programmed the voice to sound like my mother. Hearing her voice, comforts my agitated, and troubled, mind. I take a deep breath; today will not be easy. And what I'll do for the project will be the most difficult, out of all the people who are part of this project. 

I look at myself, in the mirror. My blue eyes look empty. My face is pale. And my mouth is fixed into a frown. My hair is neatly braided, in a fishtail braid, that falls neatly down my right shoulder. I try for a smile. My first attempts didn't reach my eyes. When I tried with my eyes, it looked so fake I decide to stop. 

"Bye A.I.R.I.A, I'll be leaving now." The computer responds instantly. "Bye have a good time!" 

I don't answer, knowing it will be far from that. 

I walk to my vehicle, I stop short once I'm halfway there. Deciding at the last minute that I'll be walking. "I've decided to walk. I have time." The car powers down at my command. Walking will calm me down greatly.

I walk through our magnificent city to see what's going on in the morning. The city is bustling with activity, everyone everywhere has something to do. I see a group of young children head out with their parents, to observe what they might do when their time comes to serve.

It's been 50 years since my family eliminated the school program. Now, children, prepare to determine what they might be used for when their time comes. No one can determine what they might do.

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 YA books.

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