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1st Prize Winner

Jay McKenzie

A Silent Shout (is what it’s all about)


We were burying Great Aunt Bibby when Suzy yawned and swallowed a poet.

At a nearby plot, they were interring poet laureate Myltonn Keanes, attended by important people, like Melvyn Bragg and Su Pollard. My sister Suzy was delighted.

"That guy's off Emmerdale!" she said.


A yawn stretched her mouth. Suddenly, she was coughing, doubled over, r

etching, gulping, wheezing. Even the bird-nosed vicar stopped talking about dust long enough to stare. I thumped her back.

"Thanks." Suzy cleared her throat. "I've got something stuck. No, lodged. Nay, wedged, in my throat!" She took a nip of brandy from my hip flask.

"Such nectar!"


At the wake, Suzy got weird.

"I know it, that in my throat is a poet."

"Suz, you're scaring me."

"Between my tonsils he stands, grasping hands, pulling my vocal strands."

Obviously, I sniffed her to see if she was drunk. Checked her pupils and all.

"Are you having a stroke?"

"A stroke?" She laughed. "This bloke does joke before these jet-clad folk." She leaned in, serious. "But there is a disconnect, whenever I interject, betwixt the mind and the mouth."

We hoped it would have gone by morning.


Doctor Leonard lowered his glasses.

"Well, it's unusual." He smirked. "Though it's not a crime to speak in rhyme."

"But it's all the time!" wailed Suzy.

I rolled my eyes.

"Is it some kind of neural transmission issue?" I asked.

"Pass me a tissue." Suzy patted her eyes. "It's making life so hard, speaking like The Bard. It's marred my employ, my joy and that interested boy. I fear, do you hear, that this must become my new career."

But the doctor couldn't help. He was laughing too hard.



After a month, I was ready to kill her, running from the room every time she entered.

"Peter!" she'd wail. "Won't you even greet her? Listen to her rhythmic meter?"

She hadn't been fired exactly, but she had been placed on gardening leave. Apparently, National Rail Enquiry customers don't like to be told that "on the two thirty from Stevenage, you'll be required to make a switch. Not Oldham or Fulwell or Frinton-on-Sea, but that weird little station just north of Ledbury."

If she had swallowed the escaping essence of Myltonn Keanes, perhaps I had a solution.



I found her in the obituaries: Emily Merrington-Smythe. Botanist and academic; author of the dusty-sounding Hedge of the Abyss:a socio-theoretical exploration of herbaceous borders in the British class system.

I kept Suzy up all night with fake enthusiasm for her critical analysis of Gogglebox in iambic pentameter.

As Ms Merrington-Smythe's mortal remains were lowered into the earth, Suzy rubbed her eyes.

"Poor dear. Why are we here?"

I watched her carefully, then, oh, there it was! The yawn!

Suzy coughed. Sputtered. Swallowed.

"Now brother. Perhaps you might explain why I find myself ankle-deep in mud richly nourished by the remains of the deceased." Her voice is plummy. "This soil! High in iron. Perfect for a herbaceous border."

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