ILKLEY & DISTRICT u3a

Short Story Competition 2019

Anne Hodgson


The winner of this year's competition is Anne Hodgson with her entry entitled "The Playmate".

Use the audio buttons below to listen to a narration of the story by Anne with an introduction by Eileen Green. The full text is also included below this.



The Playmate by Anne Hodgson

I can hear them coming, laughing and shouting and I swirl to

meet them tickling their toes and patting their ankles. They run

shrieking to greet me, teasing “catch me”, calling and running,

and I try to catch while they jump in and out. They pat me gently

and kick me into bubbles. I gurgle in delight.

I share my treasures, look here’s a shell and waving wrack,

a darting fish, see they’re for you. They collect me in buckets

and try to keep me in holes but I pour away. They dig canals

and moats but I slip away from them. Come nearer to catch me.

Come see, just there, that little pink shell, that floating weed,

another step. See I am hiding between the rocks, in the channel,

can you find me? Look I’m here and now I’ve slipped backwards,

come try to catch me again.

But these little ones are watched. Not too far out now, it’s getting

too deep, time to come back. And they sit together wrapped warm

and watch me as I crest and roll for them. See how lovely I am,

how kind, how benign, the perfect playmate.

There’s another, older one, sitting apart from the others,

not watching me but looking at a small screen. I let the sun

pick me up and breathe me onto it. I see shapes, hear sounds.

I watch as fingers move the pictures around, how easy it is to slide

into them, become one too.

The fingers slip into my cool water as it laps against them.

A little more now, come in a little further, let me take you deeper.

See how easy it is to ebb away.

Let me hold you and wind the weeds round as the fish come to play.

How you twist and turn but I keep you, your perfect playmate.

Now I hear calling and shouting, people running, boats racing. Noise and confusion . . . 

Later someone picks up the screen from the rocks and wipes the salt from it.

A wave swirls across, ebbs and dies.


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