Goodbye April Rowan by Enya Law

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

2020 finalist: Grades 10 to 12 category

Enya Law, 15, is one of 10 finalists in the Grades 10 to 12 category of The First Page student writing challenge. (Submitted by Enya Law)

Goodbye April Rowan by Enya Law is one of 10 stories shortlisted for 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. More than 2,000 students submitted their stories.

Law, 15, a student at Bill Hogarth Secondary School in Markham, Ont., writes about class warfare. 

The excited chatter of the other prodigies bothered April's ears. Every orbit, promising students were granted a free tour around the RBX lab station by THE Dr. Oscar Rahl, also known as "The Einstein of the 22nd century."

The other prodigies were unaware of an assassin among them.

April went over her plan. The flask in her pocket weighed like a piano. Dr.Rahul burst through the glass doors, "Let's start at the culmination!' he exclaimed. A bio-cart automatically rolled in. Cries of admiration echoed around the room.

The small, peculiar alien stood still, with it's stick-like, textured brown body and crispy, green hair. It seemed alive, but not quite. Its presence was foreign, April would gladly get rid of it.

"Behold! The last sapling of— "

Dr. Rahl was cut off by sudden darkness. April launched herself toward her target, clenching her flask. Unlike the others, she was able to see in pitch dark, her genes were recently surgically modified for her occupation.

Just while she was about to poison the alien, a needle plunged into her neck. April's vision blurred, the sizzling purple venom poured all over the white floor.


April woke on a medbay, restrained by a security bot. Dr.Rahl, was doing an anatomy examination on her, his assistant at his side. "We're trying to contact space patrol right now. You're screwed Ms. Rowan," snorted the assistant.

Little did Code 009 know the odd alien beside her would change the course of her life.

"Trying," the assistant's mindless use of words revealed that April's hijacking was a success. Shock filled Dr.Rahl's face as he examined April's holo-anatomy-report. "Get away from her right now!" he screeched.

April's eyes were not the only things genetically modified. She disabled the security bot with ease and went for the assistant.

Her head shifted to Dr.Rahl. "Your emotions — it was also alter —" he blurted out before she ended him. She warily glanced down at her holo-anatomy-report and snatched it from the corpse.


As April's escape pod shot toward Earth, the burning glaze of the RBX lit up her expressionless dark eyes. What a pity, She thought, April Rowan was a good alias. She noticed her hirer left her a temporary holo-note, which wrote:

Thank you for assassinating the alien, Code 009. Sending your bill to your agency.
— From: Breath! The human race's top oxygen provider

Little did Code 009 know the odd alien beside her would change the course of her life.

About The First Page student writing challenge

David A. Robertson is a Governor General's Literary Award-winning author and judge of the 2020 First Page student writing challenge. (Amber Green)

CBC Books asked students to give us a glimpse of the great Canadian novel of the year 2170. 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 author David A. Robertson

Robertson is a Cree writer from Winnipeg who writes books for readers of all ages — including the Governor General's Literary Award-winning picture book, When We Were Alone and the Reckoner Rises graphic novel series.

The winner will be announced on CBC Books on April 16, 2021.

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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