Christopher Wins National Writing Competition

Posted On: 05/01/21

In September, Connected Creatives launched ‘The 500-word Malala Yousafzai Competition’, open to more than 4,000 schools across Britain, to provide a much-needed creative outlet for young people who have been struggling with the impact of COVID-19 on their education and mental health.

Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani education advocate who, at the age of 17 in 2014, became the youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. Aged 15, she was shot by a Taliban soldier in an assassination attempt because she was fighting for the girls in her village to attend school. She survived and continues to speak out about the importance of education.

Inspired by Malala Yousafzai’s message about the power of young people’s voices, the competition offered students the opportunity to self-publish their creative writing (short stories, graphic novels, poems, journals). Students were asked to write on a subject of their choice and submit a front cover to complement their work.

Congratulations to Christopher Malagala whose story is one of the four winning entries! You can read it below.

We definitely want to know what happens next. Well done Christopher!

The Empty Office by Christopher Malagala

Nicholas O'Brien was a rather odd person.

Now, that wasn't to say that the child himself was eccentric — far from it, in fact. He was such a sweet little lad; soft-spoken and incredibly polite for a child his age.

The thing that was odd about Nicholas, however, was that alarmingly peculiar things always seemed to happen whenever he was around. Furniture floating of their own volition, electronics going haywire and ceasing to function...

The woman tucked a greying strand of blond hair behind her ears, glancing up surreptitiously at the other occupant of her office. Her blue eyes alighted on a young figure, his face thin and topped by a mop of mocha-brown hair, sitting quietly on one of the nurse's leather chairs — designed, at her request, to be rather comfortable indeed.

"So, Nicholas, is it?" she said, in an attempt to break the silence.

He looked down, nodding once. "Yes, ma'am."

The nurse absently waved a hand in dismissal.

"No, no, none of that. Call me Emily. It makes me feel younger, you see."

He continued to stare at the floor.

"Okay, ma— Emily," Nicholas acquiesced, shrugging. She nodded decisively.

"Now," said Emily, clasping her hands, "what would you like to talk about?"

One, two, three beats of silence.

The boy did not speak.

Nurse Emily decided to gently prompt her patient.

"How about these...dreams that you've been having?"

Nicholas started, gazing at her wide-eyed.

"It's alright, Nicholas," she consoled. Emily patted his hand comfortingly. "Just talk to me. It'll be fine."

Despite looking highly reluctant, the young boy nevertheless opened his mouth to speak.

About thirty minutes later, the office was doused into silence as Emily scrunched her face up in thought.

"So...a girl with purple hair, you say?" the woman temporised, rubbing her chin.

Nicholas nodded.

Suddenly, the nurse got to her feet.

"I'll be right back, Nicholas," came the explanation; the woman already striding out of the door.

Soon, the boy was alone in the office of Ridgeway Academy's resident psychiatrist.

"Mmm...she's an interesting one, isn't she?"

Nicholas jumped for the second time that evening, glancing around quickly.

There, perched casually upon the desk of Nurse Emily, was the very person that Nicholas had just described.


"How am I here, you ask?" The purple-haired girl flashed him a bright grin, wiggling her fingers mysteriously. "For the very same reason that you have those marks on your wrist. Magic."

The poor child promptly received another shock as she drew back her sleeve; revealing a series of black, esoteric markings — written in some squiggly, indecipherable script — peppering her wrist and lower forearm.

Markings that just so happened to also be on his wrist.

He was astonished. "Y-you're real? How?"

"I'll show you." She stuck out her hand; mischievous grin growing in size.

Nicholas didn't take very long to accept.

Nurse Emily then walked back into her office, registering its decidedly occupant-free nature. She allowed herself a tiny smile.

All had gone to plan.