WINNER YA (12-18 years) CATEGORY
MAE THOMAS, aged 16
Statistically, the most commonly used word in the English language is ‘the.’ I read that it is counted as seven percent out of all English words printed. I searched it up on a Sunday, convinced that the word I used most commonly is ‘sorry.’ I say it to my parents, to my pets and friends, strangers after fumbling their change, and most of all when a heavy realisation of curiosity overcomes me.
Sorry. The word trails its ugly, bloody root down the inside of my cheek. It nearly tears me apart with its force. I cling to my answers. My answers stick to the insides of my ribcage.
You see, I feel more like a trial than a girl some days. More task than human. I’m sorry about that, and I’m sorry for all my wretched questions. They choke me now, until I forget them all. I’ll start a question, and then I’ll forget it. Sorry. I’ll remember it later.
There are days when existing seems so difficult, and I want to apologise to everyone that knows me. There are moments, fleeting as butterfly wings, that pass by, and I say sorry. I'm not always sure what for. Just that I am.
Once, I wanted an answer. So I asked a person who I knew would have the answer. I apologised immediately afterwards, for asking so many questions. The look he gave me was incredulous, as though I had stated that I could time-travel.
“You asked - like literally just one question,” he told me. “You’re fine.” I had the bloody taste of another ‘sorry’ waiting in my mouth, but I left it unsaid. Instead I just said ‘oh,’ because what else was there to be stated?
He answered my question with an answer I learned quickly - though I can no longer remember exactly what it was. The same person has always answered the questions I have, like there will be time enough. Is that not one of the greatest traits - to have and create time for those around you? I try not to say sorry so much, for my terrible curiosity. The ashes of the word ‘sorry’ are swept away by answers.
I’d forgotten what it was like to be chased by curiosity and not to be apologetic about it.
I don’t know if that makes much sense to you, or if it’s just me.
Sometimes, I pick up my wilted bouquet of questions in guilt and shame. If my peers do not ask enough questions, I must ask far too many. Some complain. Some say that it’s alright. Some answer.
There is enough time to make up for all of the curiosity that overtakes me. The rest will come.
What are you, Curiosity whispers to me, if not my slave? Is that not why you write, to see what it would be like to make a spectacle of yourself?
I pick up my pen, to begin my newest debacle of words.
I title the splattery of words “Sorry.”