2021 Hilarie Lindsay Prizewinning Story: Section 3

To a Better Future 

by Rachel Theresia, Year 5, Abbotsleigh Junior School 

There I was, as a wax statue. I was in the History of Famous Inventors Museum which was built in 2040, staring at my sculpture while children in their school uniforms tried to take photos of themselves with it. Looking at the young kids, I remembered what I was here for: the museum had asked me to write a story about my childhood and my inspiration to become an inventor.

I remembered most vividly about how I got my inspiration to create the warp-drive, an engine that allowed a starship to travel faster than the speed of light. This impacted humanity’s discovery in space in a very positive way as now we could fly around faster. As I browsed the information on the walls, a photograph caught my eye: me, standing

in Jakarta, Indonesia airport. It was one of the most important moments of my life, how I got my inspiration to create the warp-drive. I smiled at how much had changed. Back then I was nothing more than a nobody, but now, my name can be found on every new science textbook published. I closed my eyes and imagined my childhood 31 years ago in 2019.

Suddenly, I was pulled into a vivid flashback of the start of my interest in transportation engines. I could feel the happiness around me when the playground was still filled with laughter and joy. I could feel the excitement I had as I told my mother about school while she picked me up. I remembered how things were before the wretched COVID-19 virus started in 2020. Five months later, thousands of people were dying every day, others were threatened by a fast-spreading, contagious virus. I could only imagine how it must feel to hear the electrocardiogram ring across the room when your loved ones died.

My final carry-on luggage was filled. I looked around the bare, empty bedroom, thinking about what anybody else would say about this. I was leaving a country full of hundreds of infections and deaths; in the middle of a global pandemic. My school, my home, my pets, my science experiments from the school’s science lab… they were all going to turn into mere memories. I wondered what my friends would think, the fact that I was leaving them and going to another place. I wondered how it was going to be for my friends once I am gone. Would they just forget about me? Will Indonesia be suffering more than ever when I am not there to support my friends? But we were finally going; leaving everything behind us. I knew this was going to happen, but not this early. The horrid feeling of worry flooded me. Who knew what the future held for me? Let’s go, I said hesitantly to myself, switching off the lights and closing the door behind me for the last time.

It was finally time. The dark, starry night sky weeped above me, saying a sorrowful farewell. Even though I knew this was the night of a life changing moment, something I should be looking forward to, I could not help but feel sombre for leaving everything that had been important to me. My thoughts were disturbed by the call of action. “It’s time,” murmured my mother before leaving. Taking a deep breath, I put on my backpack and sighed. I took a final look at my bedroom. Emptiness greeted me back. Entering the car, I slipped on my mask and felt suffocated. How horrible and dreadful it was for the whole world to have to feel this everyday. The car’s engine started sputtering and coughing to life as we drove off into the distance. As I buckled my seatbelts, I remembered something my mother had once said to me: “There will be better days.” Perhaps this was the first step into the better days… 

“Terminal Number 4 is going to depart in 30 minutes.” I was prodded awake by my older brother who stood up. My father and mother were waiting by the door, having the tickets scanned. Dragging my feet with me, I trudged to my parents alongside my sister and brother. The smell of the inside of an aeroplane wafted into my nostrils as I sat down and relaxed on the plane. It was happening; we were going to Sydney. My sister cheered and jumped on her seat. But worry still engulfed me, I knew how big the sacrifices I was making were. I knew how not everyone approved my decision, especially my friends. But I could not turn back now. Not when I’m so close… 

“Passengers, this is your pilot. We will be taking off momentarily. Please make sure all your seatbelts are fastened… ” I could feel a lump forming in my throat as the plane started to move. Finally, we were on the runway. 3… cold shivers ran down my spine… 2… my hands tightened on the armrest in fright… 1… I leaned back as the plane leaned upwards. We were off the ground. The plane smoothly turned to its side, letting me see the view of the home I was about to leave forever. “Goodbye, home,” I whispered before my exhilaration was drowned out by anxiousness. What if I could not make friends in Australia? What if COVID-19 got worse in Australia and they closed the borders? I slouched in my seat, my heart pounding and my head swirling. Suddenly, the strangest thought entered my head. What if I could be the person who made transportation easier? Would that help my friends come over easier? I was so determined by this thought that I considered it so carefully and decided to actually try to make it happen. I could not remember what happened next because I fell into a deep sleep… 

“Dear passengers, we will be arriving at Sydney shortly. Please make sure that your seatbelts are fastened and only take them off… ” I was woken up by the drawling voice of the pilot as the plane started to land. My family around me had already eaten breakfast and their rubbish was already being taken away. “You’re too late,” said my little sister, fighting the ear pressure as the plane made a rather steep touchdown. I could not help but feel relieved that I had made it through when the doors slid open and passengers exited the plane, all chatting in excitement and pushing to get out. However, I felt differently. I was somewhere I barely knew, with no friends to help me when I needed it and no way to go back.

“We made it!” cheered my mother as we passed the various types of shops in the airport. I asked my father why my grandparents, the people who usually picked us up when we came to Australia, weren’t here. He then explained how we had to go through a process called quarantine for two weeks to make sure we were isolated if we had the virus. My brother was awfully thrilled about the fact that he would be going to another school and swore to himself that he would make a good first impression. I remembered myself feeling the same way when we arrived in Jakarta, Indonesia, wanting to look good at school. My thoughts were disrupted by the screeching of the bus as it came to take us to quarantine. Like a strike of lightning, I remembered most vividly a thought I had before arriving at the airport. “There will be better days.” Perhaps the better days have just started. Maybe I had just stepped into a whole new world.

I opened my eyes and looked around; I was still in the museum. The daydream had been so vivid. I fidgeted with my fingers nervously; this was a story that no one except me and my family knew about. It reminded me once again about the fear that I had to conquer before allowing my warp-drive machine to be seen by the public. If this story was to be published in an article, it would be my life shown widely to society. It would be a new step of courage to tell the museum my past. The statue was still in front of me, staring at my real self with a smile, as if telling me to do it. Ignoring the sound of clicks on a camera, I got up and walked away, nearly forgetting why I was there again. “Ms. Theresia!” shouted a voice. I spun around and saw a man in a formal suit waiting for me near a door. “If you will,” he added before gesturing to me to enter. I looked at my feet; the last time I felt nervous I did something helpful for society. Taking a big leap of faith, I followed the man through the door, leaving all my worries behind and entering a hopeful future.

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