We narrowed down the entries to a lot more than we should have, because it was even harder to go about choosing a winner! In the end, the winning entry hit so many high notes - beautiful prose, immediate tension, high stakes - that I'm thrilled to see what the author has in store for a full-length novel.
If you knock on the Raksha’s door seven times, you may be granted two wishes.
Or you may be burnt as sacrifice.
I’ll take my chances. Long ago, when my Dadaji was young and the birds still cracked open the morning in their beaks, these streets were spilt with colour in celebration. Now, the gutterings of turquoise and hibiscus are a warning.
“Why two wishes?” I’d asked, still as small as his two fists.
Dadaji twinkled old stars at me, as if I should have known. “Because wishes always come at a price,” he said. “And it is worth having a back-up plan.”
I’m sorry, Dadaji. This is my back-up plan. The bitterness of regret is nothing against the scattering agony of loss. I adjust the carefully-coloured folds of my sari. The tear-blue door rasps under my palms; the kiss of my knife is cool on my skin.