Writing Contest 2014 Runner-up – Non-fiction


“Someone’s hurting Dad!” Sajid blurted, almost crying. He scrambled downstairs to the family room. Mom told Sajid to phone the police while she investigated upstairs.

Sajid, ten years old, dialed 911 into the phone hanging on the wall. He looked back and forth, then passed the phone to Mom. Holding the phone to her ear, Mom quickly spoke to the police before speeding up the stairs, through the kitchen, and towards the front door of our London, Ontario home.

“Help! Help!” she screamed, for Dad’s sake.

When I saw Dad, he stood alone on the porch. His attackers had already left. Red splotches marked his dark brown face. Dad pressed his upper lip between two fingers and slid them down, pouring a blob of blood. I felt the eggplant I had for lunch rise to my chest.

The police arrived. Dad explained that two men had attacked him. One had kneed Dad’s face and punched him.

Dad also told them he had diabetes. Except he pronounced it like “dia-beats”. Mom and Dad had both migrated from Pakistan years ago, and had met and married in Canada. But you could still hear their homeland in their voices.

The police asked Dad if he knew the bad men. Dad explained that he owned an apartment building. We moved here from Toronto for that building—Dad thought it would be a good way to earn a living. In Toronto, he had changed jobs a lot: first he worked as a Zamboni driver, then a security guard, and then a computer-fixer.

The bad guys had come with a woman who lived in the building. Her name was Kissy. Something about the rent.

“Your dad is fine,” a female police officer reassured. “We’re going to take him to the hospital to make sure everything’s okay. He’s just got some cuts. Okay?” she soothed. “Cuts” didn’t sound right. In my mind, cuts looked like straight lines that only bled a little. Dad had holes, not cuts.

Our Sikh neighbours from across the street came to ask what happened. The phone rang shortly after. Mom picked it up, then removed it from her ear and held it out to an officer. It was Kissy. I decided I hated that name.

The next day at school I sat in my third-grade classroom and stared at the playground from the window. I didn’t tell anyone what happened. Everybody else’s parents had nice jobs and nothing bad ever happened to them.



Most of Maria’s childhood was spent in London, Ontario until she moved to Brampton at the age of 14. Maria enjoys writing for the Medium, reading, and spending time with family. Maria is a third-year English and history student.

Judges’ Comment

Maria’s story is short, but tight—it says a lot more than many longer stories do. There was something in it that felt inventive, and it has the advantage of subtlety: it ably puts the reader in the naive, curious shoes of a child.

This was an entry in the 2013/14 Writing Contest.

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