Books·The First Page

Fuel to the Fire by Oghenetega Eriavbe

Read the first page of Oghenetega Eriavbe's novel imagining the world in 150 years.

2017 finalist: Grades 10 to 12 category

Oghenetega Eriavbe is a 2017 finalist for The First Page student writing challenge in the Grades 10 to 12 category.

Fuel to the Fire by Oghenetega Eriavbe is one of 10 stories shortlisted for CBC Books' 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. Over 2,400 students submitted their stories.

Eriavbe, a student at Webber Academy in Calgary, Alta., tackles economic recession in her piece.

The enormous, dilapidated buildings that loomed over my apartment window were once homes to sparring giants of the technology industry that had fallen victim to brutal competition, rampant breaches of information and the superfluous hysteria of the impulsive stock market. The tragic history is all too close to home as my father used to work in a window-panelled, oval shaped building situated far inside the collection of relics. During the afternoon, when the sun is at its peak, blinding light still glinted from its roof, but a closer inspection of the sight showed the rest of the panes had been smashed in, covering the ground in glass-flakes. The aftermath of Untara Tech shutting down and their jobless employees taking liquidating into their own arms. 

A stash of phones, laptops, computer chips, hard drives and all sorts of technology paraphernalia that my father acquired swamped the apartment. There is so much stuff that the living room couch became my bed, and Dad sleeps in the master bedroom with a mountain of boxes hanging over his bed. He claims it took him 23 days, from the day the company announced layoffs to his final day of work, for him to amass his fine collection, but his habit of stealing workplace items probably stretches back to his first day at work. I know this because a lot of his findings were given to me as birthday or Christmas presents when I was younger. When I asked him why he kept them, he said they were priceless memorabilia of the projects he worked on. Knowing the devastation pack rats could wreak, Mom quickly left him before it got any worse, like any sane person would. 

The clamour of boxes and metal colliding together broke my gaze from the window to Dad approaching me. As he cleared his throat he rasped, "Good morning, Wyatt. Anything for breakfast?"

I turned to see Dad in his saggy, blotched singlet that draped to his knees, his gangly arms dangling from the armholes like twigs. It was hard to believe that six years ago, the size XXL singlet could barely cover his pot belly and wisps of grey hair plastered his receding hairline and beads of sweat dribbled down his forehead like pouring rain. Behind cracked glasses frames dark rings lined his bloodshot eyes. With every passing day his health only grew worse and worse. 

"Dad, are you okay?" I asked.

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.