Sophia Ma WINS Lisa Rector 2008 Young Writers' Scholarship

From Lisa Rector:

The winner of the 2008 Lisa Rector Young Writers’ Scholarship is Sophia Ma. She won for her piece “Pushing Back the Tide”, a powerful, moody poetic piece with an unusual POV and sophisticated use of language that beat out more than 100 other submissions from students worldwide. Sophia is a grade 10 student at Handsworth Secondary in North Vancouver. (Two of the top 5 finalists actually came from that school). 

HUGE congratulations to Sophia.

 Here's her winning entry....


Pushing Back the Tide

       Death comes for her on an August night. He is disguised as two voices and one note. She doesn’t stand a chance.

       Voice One is male, tenor, callous in a teenage way. She knows this voice better than her own. She dreams about it. She falls asleep to the memory of its whisper in her ear. Sorry, it says. Friends, okay?

       Voice Two is male, bass, smeared in bad news. Apologetic. Unfamiliar. Sorry, it says. Hospital. Body. Identify. Mother.

       The Note is a piece of small, clumsily ripped paper. Scrawled words run across the page. Sorry, it says. Not your fault. Need some time away. Love, Dad.

       She goes blind then. Everything is there, but everything is black. She’s so alone. She tells herself she can stand it. She tells herself that she’s strong.

       But when night falls, it is not alone.

       The sun wakes, scattering rays across soft sand. Follow the footsteps. There she is, walking barefoot across the beach. She has stepped on broken glass and her foot bleeds, but she hardly notices. She. Who is she? She could be anyone. Her hands are by her sides. She’s tall in stature but is folded in on herself, crumpled. Shoulder-length hair. Two eyes, two ears. Her pain is her most prominent feature.
       She stares at the ocean. The tide laps like a cat’s tongue. She is painted onto the beach, waiting for the water to sweep over her, wash her away, to leave her as dripping colours that blur across the sand. Blue. Red. Black.

        The girl takes a step.

       The cut on her foot stings when the water brushes its salty cheek across it. Another step. Another step and another, another. Waist-deep now, but she’s already under. She wades deeper. Further.

       She can’t swim, by the way.

       Hush, don’t cry, sweetheart. Close your eyes and look away. I’ll hold your hand. It won’t hurt; it’s barely a mosquito bite. Sure, you can have ice-cream after, honey, anything you like…

       Beautiful. Gorgeous. You’re my everything, you’re my shooting star. You’re an angel. Eternity. Forever. I love you.

       The words are skeletons now. They no longer belong to her.

       She closes her eyes and there is no longer anything underneath her feet. The water strokes her hair.     



       She chokes.

       Air implodes inside her.

       She is a drowning flame, burning underwater.




       She. Who is she? She could be anyone, everyone, but she is no one now. Still, sometimes you’ll see her eyes in a puddle, a mirror, the blade of a knife. Look for them. Beware of them. They are submerged, flooded. Their light wavers, like that of a flame held just below the surface of the water. 




Incredible story. Congratualations again, Sophia.

To find out more about Lisa Rector's scholarship, you can contact her at



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