Books·The First Page

Freedom of Tears by Lizzie Slogotski

Lizzie Slogotski, 15, is one of 10 finalists in the Grades 10 to 12 category of The First Page student writing challenge.

2019 finalist: Grades 10 to 12 category

Lizzie Slogotski, 15, is a 2019 finalist in the Grades 10 to 12 category for The First Page student writing challenge. (Submitted by Lizzie Slogotski)

Freedom of Tears by Lizzie Slogotski is one of 10 stories shortlisted for the The First Page student writing competition in the Grades 10 to 12 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. Nearly 2,000 students submitted their stories.

Slogotski, a student at Spectrum Community School in Victoria, explores the conflict between truth and deception.


They told me that while in life she had been loved by many, no one shed a single tear when Peridice died. Why would they? She had been young, a mere thirteen years, and her loved ones knew what was to happen next. They paid the expected fees, signed the necessary documents, and that was that. Peridice's body was taken away, and no one felt any emotion toward it. As per protocol, they were told she would return.

Her family was never to know the truth. I planned to enforce that order. It wasn't just the only option. It was the right one. Their ignorance would prevent their suffering, which was the purpose of my creation; I was to prevent their grieving process. They were too important to our nation to let their emotions be swayed like that.

As I stared at my recently developed reflection, I felt tears tug at my now green eyes. I fought against this shameful instinct, but a single drop of the wretched liquid escaped.

I was the perfect height and build for the job, just as I had to be. My other physical attributes needed to be heavily edited, however. I was soon unrecognizable, which led to a moment of weakness. As I stared at my recently developed reflection, I felt tears tug at my now green eyes. I fought against this shameful instinct, but a single drop of the wretched liquid escaped. As it stained my cheek, I was discovered and reported to my superiors. I wanted to beg for forgiveness… Where were these thoughts coming from? Doing so would be both futile and dishonourable. I knew that. I pushed the notion far out of my head.

I was punished accordingly, deservingly. I've been told that there was much debate as to whether or not I would continue my assignment. But after I was given thorough tests of character, they determined the tear to be not an insubordination, but a fluke. Something that wouldn't happen again. Relief flooded my new body. I had certainly been lucky. Much worse discipline had been inflicted on others who had committed similar crimes.

The final part of my rejuvenation was scheduled soon after my brief misconduct was fully dealt with. The memories of Peridice Attalphar were implanted in my brain. Thirteen years of thoughts now swirled around my previous memories and training, as two separate entities fought for control of one body. My mind was aflame; I could scarcely make sense of it all. But I'd need to learn. I was about to be sent to her… my family.


About The First Page student writing challenge

CBC Books asked students to give us a glimpse of the great Canadian novel of the year 2168. 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.

Kelley Armstrong is the bestselling author of more than 40 books. (Kathryn Hollinrake)

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 YA author Kelley Armstrong, most known for her Darkest Powers and Darkness Rising series. The winner will be announced on CBC Books on March 11, 2020.

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.

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