Books·The First Page

Reminder: You Are Dreaming by Mira Peregud

Reminder: You Are Dreaming by Mira Peregud is a finalist for The First Page student writing challenge of 2022.

2022 finalist: Grades 10 to 12 category

Mira Peregud, 18, is a finalist in the Grades 10 to 12 category of The First Page student writing challenge. (Submitted by Mira Peregud)

Reminder: You Are Dreaming by Mira Peregud is one of 11 stories shortlisted for The First Page student writing competition in the Grades 10 to 12 category for 2022.

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 1,800 students submitted their stories.

The shortlist was selected by a team of writers across Canada. The winners, to be selected by bestselling YA writer Sarah Raughley, will be announced on May 31.

Peregud, 18, a student from Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School in Vancouver, writes about addiction to the internet and escapism as a result of the deterioration of the real world.


Reminder: You Are Dreaming — a pop-up that has been a feature of the Globe since its creation. While I assume it was important once, now it simply gets dismissed, like those Terms of Agreement pages nobody reads before signing.

I hadn't really noticed it until now, when the game, lagging, froze the message on the screen.

Peculiar. Of course the Globe isn't real. That's why we're here, in a virtual world of breathtaking graphics, instant communication, endless leaderboards, quests. First-person shooters, animations that feel more real than the carpet beneath my feet, crowds at concerts where virtual shoulders bump virtual arms. Anything and everything, one breath away.

The pop-up persists. I glare at it with glazed eyes and it glares back.

The world loads just as I reach to call my housekeeping bot. Finally, equilibrium: a lively din to slash the solidarity of my pod — pods, they started calling them when apartment felt too big a word for a space so small.

I breathe in the Globe: the vivid green underfoot, the rooms upon rooms stacked to the sky where spaceships and billboards hover. I can feel its energy lighting up my veins, my mind awaking to its rhythm. Behind, lies the fantasy forest. Cheers from the sports arena bubble in from the right. I am home. I am alive.

Of course I am dreaming. Such freedom cannot be found elsewhere.

You should do something, my conscience says. The bright lights tug my attention back.

I prepare to jump into a game, but a siren sounds in my room. I am ready to ignore it, until the screen glitches. The siren sounds again.

Annoyance bubbling in my chest, I push the headset up. The blinds on my window are shuddering.

"There is a snowstorm," my bot informs me.

Standing, I look outside. The stark walls of the neighbouring buildings are blurred by gusts of snow that cover the city in a howling haze. My breaths condense on the cool pane.

Amongst the white, there is movement.

"What is that?" I ask.

"People who are stranded. Commuters, the homeless, first responders."

"Stranded in that?" Unease seeps into my bones as the snow continues falling.

After a moment, I return to my seat, pull the headset on. Something in my stomach is churning. You should do something, my conscience says. The bright lights tug my attention back.

Then, the message returns. This time, I truly see it.

Reminder: You Are Dreaming.

Below, a choice awaits.

[Stay.] [Wake up.]


About The First Page student writing challenge

The First Page student writing challenge asks students in Grades 7 to 12 to write the first page of a novel from 150 years in the future. (Ben Shannon/CBC)

CBC Books asked students to give us a glimpse of the great Canadian novel of the year 2172. 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 bestselling author Sarah Raughley. 

A writer and lecturer from Southern Ontario, Raughley is the author of the YA Effigies series — which includes Fate of FlamesSiege of Shadows and Legacy of Light — and the fantasy novel The Bones of Ruin for ages 14 and up.

The shortlist was selected by a team of writers across Canada:

The winner will be announced on CBC Books on May 31, 2022.

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. Special thanks to Penguin Random House, Raincoast Books, Scholastic Canada, Annick Press, KidsCan Press, Groundwood Books, Orca Books and Simon & Schuster for donating books for the prize.

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