Timeless by Sherry Xiong

Sherry Xiong, 13, is one of 10 finalists in the Grades 7 to 9 category of The First Page student writing challenge.

2020 finalist: Grades 7 to 9 category

Sherry Xiong, 13, is one of 10 finalists in the Grades 7 to 9 category of The First Page student writing challenge. (Submitted by Sherry Xiong)

Timeless by Sherry Xiong is one of 10 stories shortlisted for 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. More than 2,000 students submitted their stories.

Xiong, 13, a student at Fleetwood Park Secondary in Surrey, B.C., writes about time travel.

The minute I entered my house, I knew that something was wrong. Everything was quieter than usual. The atmosphere felt different and unfamiliar. I gently shut the door behind me, careful not to make any noise, and then I started forwards, slowly making my way across the hall.

Suddenly, I hear footsteps shuffling around in the kitchen. Someone had broken into my house. Panic twisted in my gut, and I reached for the gun in my bag that I slung over my shoulder.

I approached the kitchen door, keeping my grip on the gun. I slid my gaze to the crack between my door and the door frame, scanning the kitchen for any signs of something being ajar. Nothing seemed to be missing or misplaced. Then I glimpsed something out of the corner of my eye.

A person was standing next to the counter, just outside of my line of sight. It was a girl who seemed to be around my age, who had a mixed expression of curiosity and terror painted on her face. I watched her as she scanned everything around her, and then her eyes met mine.

She yelped out in alarm and jumped backwards, bumping into the cabinets behind. "Oh geez, I'm so sorry..." she apologizes, as I push open the door and walk into the kitchen.

"Sorry about this." she says, "But do you mind telling me the date?"

"Who are you and what're you doing in my house?" I ask. And what does the date have to do with anything? I think, but I point to the calendar on my wall anyway.

Maybe what she's saying about being from the future, isn't entirely untrue and impossible after all.

She walks toward the calendar and leans forwards to read the date, and then her eyes widen in surprise.

"May 18, 2173?"

"Yes, now please leave or I'll have to use force."

She looked at me with excitement in her eyes and then reached into her pocket to pull out a small booklet. She pauses for a moment. 

"I know this may be a little hard to believe, but I'm actually from the future. Here, see for yourself."

She hands me the booklet, and I grab it with one hand.

Time travel, unbelievable that people even believe in that.

But as I start to flip through the booklet, a cold realization hits me. Maybe what she's saying about being from the future, isn't entirely untrue and impossible after all.

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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