Catherine Martin Literary Award Winners 2018

The Girl in the White Dress by Ebonie Moulton

13-15yo Category Winner 

And there they were, a young boy from the crisp red dirt of the outback whose hand felt warm pressed against the chest of the girl in the white dress.

The girl in the white dress. That is how Waku described the one who discovered the difficult decision between desire and justice within him. Waku’s life is different than most teenage boys. As a young, indigenous Australian living in a time of decree, opinions and multiculturalism, his is a story of how one person can influence and change another.

Waku’s mind runs wild as the Australia day dispute continues to make its way into every advertising platform across the nation. He sits at the old stark desk listening to the radio, which to no surprise is a broadcasted interview about the ‘change the date’ campaign. Procrastinating, he moves the pen across the edge of his lined notebook where it dances.

The pen moves swiftly across the page as if it were twirling to a Marvin Gaye classic, swirls and lines, each stroke reflecting his most riveting thoughts, as he ignores the radio and admires how life would be if he were loved by one whose heart sees nothing but the good in him. Not the “dirty brown skin or “pig nose”, but the beauty that lies within the walls of his complexion.

As his pen merges with the rhythm of his mind swaying he tries to block out the sound of his parents arguing. Waku comes from a violent family, his life is filled with screams and sobs, banging and crashing, but all Waku wants is to find someone, someone who sees the world a little differently.

Waku’s eyes fill with tears and the world soon becomes a blur. He races outside, ignoring the anger that lingers like thick smoke, making it more and more difficult to breathe. He makes it out the door when suddenly a voice captures his attention

“Excuse me?” A soft voice speaks as he quickly turns his head.

“You okay?” A girl wearing a white dress holding two cans of VB beer caught Waku’s eye as she quickly walked towards him.

“Ermm” Waku’s mind went blank

“Beer?” she asked

“No thanks” Waku replied quietly

The girl smiled “I’m Emily”

“Waku” He answered

“Waku? Interesting” Emily brushed her sandy blonde hair behind her ear

“Indigenous name” he replied nervously

Waku saw something different in Emily, something more than a pretty girl.

For a moment everything was silent, she looked at him with her brown eyes that shone honey brown like sunlight through a glass of cool whisky.

She breathed in “Want to get out of here?”

“What?” Waku was confused

“To be honest I think Australia day is a load of Bullshit. I mean, this “change the date campaign”, do they have no decency for people like you?”

You could hear the rage in Emily’s voice and as she stared at him for a second time, she grabbed him firmly by the hand.

“Let’s go”

Something within Waku was unleashed, a rebellion. He had always wanted to run away but never imagined running away with one who seemed sweet and innocent, but spoke like they had nothing to lose.

So it began, the story of two teenagers, a young Waku whose world felt like nothing more than a confused and deranged place, and Emily, the girl in the white dress.

Days went by and the journey of Waku and Emily continued as if life remained the same and their parents weren’t frantically searching for them back home. The pair had only known each other for three days and began to feel something very unfamiliar, love.

On the fourth day the two were curled up on a beach a few miles from town and were awoken by the sound of a man shouting

“Get your filthy black hands off of my daughter!”

Emily took a gasp of air “Dad?”

“Emily! Why are you here with this disgusting boy?”

“Don’t call him that!”

Emily and her father continued shouting at each other, however Waku heard nothing but Emily and it was then that he truly began to believe in love at first sight. Before Waku could even speak, the most unimaginable took place, a summer rain began to fall and as he lifted his face up to the sky he was shaken by the sound of tears, Emily was struck on her left cheek by the evil, wet hand of her father. She was frightened and ran over to Waku throwing herself into his arms.

“So this disgusting coon has won my daughter’s heart?” the father said with a wicked smile

Emily’s father laughed as he opened his car door, violently slamming it shut before driving off into the rain. They watched him fade into the distance as they stood in the bushland, damp, exhausted and in love.

And there they were, a young boy from the crisp red dirt of the outback whose skin felt warm pressed against the chest of the girl in the white dress.

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