YANovCon Short Story: The Ship Breaker

Teen writing on laptop.YANovCon 2018 is right around the corner, and we’re hosting another Short Story Contest. Submit your story by Sunday, January 14, 2018 and you could win a one-on-one lunch and feedback with a published YA author. This year we're asking you to create a short story that shines light on our theme of social justice and inclusion.

Stories can be realistic fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, mystery, dystopian, or whatever you come up with. Consider researching about a social justice or exclusion issue to incorporate in your story. What is your understanding of that issue?

Short Story Guidelines:

  • Open to 6-12th graders
  • Submit your own original work of 500 words or less
  • One story per person
  • If you submit more than one story, you will be disqualified.
  • All submissions are due by Sunday, January 14, 2018

Submit Your Story Now

Get inspired to write by reading last year’s first place story:

The Ship Breaker by Max

      “Charan! Charan! Where are you?” His mother’s calling resonated through his ears. But he couldn’t. No, he couldn’t. It was too late...too late…“Where are you?” he heard. Don’t answer, work, he told himself. Charan dragged a corroded chunk of iron across the side of the vessel, as beads of sweat dropped off his forehead. He winced in pain, dragging his gashed feet across the splintered dock as he dumped the scrap of metal into a large bin. Charan hobbled back up the dock, onto the half-deconstructed ship. The pain was unbearable, but his desire for food outweighed his desire to stop. He limply crawled through the former captain’s quarters, tugging with all his might on a rusted power box, until the old wires gave. Again, he yanked his tired limbs towards the dock, emptying the scrap into the bin. Charan glanced upwards at the black-with-soot clock hanging on a pole, and, seeing his shift was over, he limped forwards to his boss, who was standing like a fierce sentry on the edge of the dock. His boss was a cruel, powerful man, with a hooked nose, black teeth, and a jutting chin. Charan approached him slowly and carefully, and gently yet hoarsely spoke, for his throat was also black with soot, “Sir, may I leave?” “Yes, boy. Your pay shall be shortened for your impudence and impatience.” As Charan brushed his thick black hair to the side, he gazed toward his smoggy village by the sea. Then, again he heard: “Charan, come home. We’re waiting for you,” again his mother, and now his five year old sister. “No, how is this? No, no, no, not real. Not real. ” Charan’s hearing once again cleared, and he saw an empty village. For him, reality was hard to discern, which life seemed to punish Charan for every day. The villagers called him crazy for talking to them, called them voices, and threatened to throw him in an asylum. Charan could barely focus enough to hold a job as a ship breaker. It had been that way since… then. As his feet felt the cool sand under them, he sighed, and a tear rolled down his cheek. Charan set down his weary legs, and watched the rolling waves climb up the mounds of sand. He thought of his mother’s smile, it shined yet brighter in his sister. He remembered his mother begging the town, “She must go to school. She deserves opportunities. Please let her go. Please.” Then out came the man. And the gunfire. And then it all went black. More salty tears fell down Charan’s chin. He saw the beautiful waves crashing again on the shore. He watched a few ghost crabs scuttling down the sand. Then, Charan approached the glistening tide, feeling the water roll over his body. Charan went under the water, not holding his breath. Then,
the young ship breaker floated,
calmly,
out to sea,
with his heart at peace.

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