Winning Entry
I Don’t Like Tea
By Isla Linsdell, Year 9, Linton Village College

“This piece stood out for the way in which the author dealt so confidently with challenging subject matter; we admired the use of simple language to build a tense, unsettling scene with real attention to detail.”

“I’ll make you a cup of tea,” he says, leaving the room.
I don’t really want a cup of tea. I don’t even like tea. In fact, sometimes Mum says I’m not old enough for tea. She looks at me over her square spectacles and says —
‘You don’t want tea at your age, it’s much too sophisticated for a young girl like you,’ and then she laughs and flashes me a smile that makes me aware that she has just made a joke.
The streetlight bleeds in through the shutter and makes a faint pattern on the wall. He whistles as he makes my unwanted cup of tea.
“Any sugars?” he asks.
“Three please,” I reply, not sure how many sugars is a good amount of sweetness.
“Three? Are you sure? That’s a lot, darling.” I feel my cheeks go red.
“Two then, please.”
The conversation ends here. I’ve never talked to somebody like this before; Mum’s always been there to say the words for me.
He creeps back into the room. It is late. He has already said not to make too much noise because the neighbours are bound to complain. He places my cup of tea on the bedside table and it steams. Its heat is inviting, and I pick it up and take a sip. I do not like tea. I already knew that.

He sits down next to me on his bed. His room is nice but a little daunting. I have never liked red as a colour for walls, and the cupboards look like they are in need of repair. Rudely, I stare out of the gaps between the blinds onto the damp London street, wondering what kind of things happen at this time of night. However, unexpectedly, I then feel his hand slide onto mine. It is cold, much like my father’s was when I used to hold it on the way to church. I never go to church with my father anymore.

I soon realise that I am uncomfortable, so I pull away. He holds me tighter. Then he slides his cold paw up my arm. Goosebumps follow it like ashes from a fire. Then it travels up to my shoulder and squeezes me tight. I try to pull away but my attempt is only met with a firmer grip and seven lonely words.

“Don’t you want another sip of tea?”

Author’s note: “I Don’t Like Tea was inspired by a video we were shown on PSHE day at school earlier this year. In the video, the concept of a cup of tea is used to educate viewers on the topic of consent. It uses phrases such as, ‘If a person says they don’t want a cup of tea, then don’t make them one.’ The video is supposed to be light and slightly humorous, but I thought I’d use the association between tea and consent to create a darker, more ominous piece and to contrast such a normal everyday thing with a horrible and frightening situation.
My piece was also inspired by the uproar in discussions about the harassment of women following the death of Sarah Everard.”