Student Shortlisted Entry
Zoe Marchewicz

“The next bus stop is closed. Please await instructions from your driver.”

“Yes, feathered announcer, you’ve parroted that cursed line for an hour… excuse me? Driver?”


“When’s our next stop? I needed to get off at Archway three miles back.”

“You heard the announcement: next stop’s closed. We won’t be stopping again.”

“What’s the last stop on this route?”

“Elmfield. Just passed it. It became our next stop – closed.”

“A stop can be both next and last?”

“Sure. Tomorrow’s my birthday. Suppose a road accident butchers me in two days – ah, you just blanched on my monitor; relax, I’ll drive carefully – my next birthday will be my last.”

“…Seems obvious now, if morbid. ‘Your next 𝑥 could be your last.’ My maths teachers never warned me 𝑥 = bus ride home from badminton, but that’s school for you, so exam-driven its lessons wax impractical… Happy Early Birthday, anyway.”

“Save your wishes – we’ll be doing thirty through sunrise.”

“How far away is sunrise?”

“Three hundred miles?”

“Just us two, no more stops… I only regret not bringing a birthday gift.”

“A teen’s pocket orphaned a pack of gum on the back seat earlier.”

“…This flattened mass?”

“I’m not fussy. Check the expiry date though.”

“At least it’s wrapped. Besides, we’ll need something to chew over for the next—how long?”

“Eternity, engine permitting.”

“Should be enough time to get acquainted. Call me… Hera. Hope you like spearmint.

Find out more about Zoe here.