2022 Winner

The Shadow that Lurks

I remember what my parents have told me:

the bare hospital rooms that became a second home,

the anxious silence before the doctor spoke,

the good and bad days.

But I can’t differentiate my own memories from

the ones I have been told. Only one remains

etched in my mind.

I stood outside the doorway to my parents’ room,

with my brother and father.

We had just come home from school.

My pink butterfly backpack with fraying threads

hung across my shoulders. My mother lay

behind the door. She had been in the hospital.

My dad whispered to go say hello.

I nodded and clasped my brother’s hand.

We put on our blue surgical masks and

my dad led us inside. I took a few steps before

standing still. My hand fell away from my brother as I

stared in silence. I don’t remember what I saw.

Many months later we got the good news,

It was gone. But while it may have been

gone from her body it wasn’t gone from our lives.

Like a shadow.

Sometimes bigger, sometimes smaller,

not knowing

if and when it would return.


Laila Bapna

Georgetown Day School

Grade: 9


Bethesda, MD


Silver Spring, MD

Favorite Author or Book:

I have always loved the Harry Potter books.

Dream for the Future:

I want to leave a positive imprint on the world.

Inspirational Figure:

My parents inspire me the most.