Story Contest 2020 #2 Results »

Senior 3rd Prize Winning Story - The Holiday Abroad

“The Holiday Abroad” by Smriti Jaiswal, Ryan International School, India, is the Third Prize winning story in the senior category of the second biannual Short Story Contest 2020.

Born in Prayagraj, Smriti was raised amidst an environment full of books as her mother, Aarti Jaiswal, is a renowned Hindi writer. This led to augmentation of keen interest towards literature in her. However, her school, Ryan International School, encouraged her to nurture literary skills. She writes articles and poems for the school's magazine and newsletter. During lockdown, she endeavored writing short stories for the first time and ended up fabricating a collection of eight. ‘The Holiday Abroad’ is the first of that collection. She aspires to serve her country in judicial services accompanied by pursuance of her writing passion.

The Holiday Abroad

It was evening and I was at the hotel. Like every day, I was checking all those photographs that I had clicked on that day. Photography was my soul mate so how could I let any moment uncaptured on this family holiday in Australia. My enthusiasm’s ship was struck hard by astonishment’s tide when a picture flashed on the screen. On zooming it on my laptop, I found a familiar countenance. It was my cousin brother, Ethan, who had died three years ago in an airplane crash. I couldn’t help myself from rushing to my parents and expectedly, they were perplexed and mystified too.

Mr. Johnson who was my dad’s friend and a police officer, knowing that we were in Sydney, had invited us at dinner. So it was decided to refer about the matter to him when we would meet him. Next night, we went to Mr. Johnson’s residence. He delightfully welcomed us and he and dad had a great deal of talks at the table. Mr. Johnson was narrating about his wearisome job when he referred, “Lately, I have been busy in solving the case of ‘Pearl Diamond Ring’s theft’. Somebody extremely witty stole it for no clues could be discovered at Pearl Museum from where it has been stolen. Even the museum authorities were unaware about the robbery till last week when the museum’s restoration occurred and at the place of ring was found its replica. Neither CCTV’s nor guards could suggest anything about robbery.”

“Was that replica exactly same?” inquired dad eagerly.

“No. It had a peculiar scratch upon it,” replied Mr. Johnson while showing us the photograph of the replica. No doubt that it was extremely exquisite even when it bore a big and odd scratch. Dad was recalled about Ethan’s photograph by seeing the replica’s picture. He presented that photograph and even furnished his friend with every detail and verification of Ethan’s death. Mr. Johnson agreed to assist us as he too found the matter complex and confusing. The next afternoon- I, my dad and Mr. Johnson- went to George Street to where the photograph belonged. The main lane was laden with shops of all sorts ranging from clothes to food. On inquiring the nearby shopkeepers, we discovered that Ethan was the owner of a jewelry shop behind the main street. We went straight there. The shop was small but charismatic from outside. It took no time for Ethan to recognize us when we penetrated into his shop. He became panicked and started rushing towards the back door of shop. Mr. Johnson, grabbing him firmly, dragged him and seated him on a chair. “Please! Don’t let my parents know that I’m alive and I deserted them. They’d be furious,” Ethan pleaded.

“How did you escape the airplane crash?” asked Mr. Johnson.

“I never escaped it as I was never aboard the plane. I was forcefully being sent to USA for studying engineering. My parents never supported my passion of jewelry designing. On the day of my departure, they had their business affairs and hence they only accompanied me till outside the airport. I didn’t catch the plane. My friend assisted me to come here and establish my business but due to plane crash...”

“..... everyone considered you to be dead,” completed Mr. Johnson. Ethan nodded.

Our conversation was interrupted by a customer who was grumbling about a big scratch upon her ring to a salesboy in the shop. Ethan explained to her that its presence had been caused by that machine which prints the code of shop and designer over every jewelry. It had been malfunctioning and sometimes it printed a scratch instead of code. Ethan also added that the scratch could be removed as per customer’s preference but then the design of the jewel would be affected too. Mr. Johnson took the ring and while carefully scrutinizing it asked, “Have other jewels been affected in same way?”

“Not all. But about five-six.” replied Ethan.

Mr. Johnson presented Ethan the photograph of Pearl Diamond Ring’s replica and asked, “Is this your shop’s production?”

“Yes. A lady ordered it three weeks ago. Despite this big scratch, she bought it saying that it was urgent for her.”

Our eyes widened in horror but Ethan could scarcely comprehend that how vital evidence he had supplied. We elucidated the whole affair to him in a nutshell. Mr. Johnson demanded for CCTV footage of that woman’s every visit since she could be directly associated with the museum’s robbery. Ethan assured him that he would provide Mr. Johnson with every possible detail of her by the next day. After having few words with Ethan, we left his shop and set for our lodgings as mom was alone there. Next day was last day of our vacation so we all went to meet Ethan. He gifted my mom a stunning ring and my parents assured him that they would consult his parents. When we arrived back to our country, we paid a visit to Ethan’s parents. They became ecstatic to find their son alive and felt proud of their son’s designed ring that my mom had worn. They promised my parents to visit Ethan as soon as was possible.

Two weeks later, my dad received a letter from Mr. Johnson that said –

“Dear Andrew,

It’d never had been possible to solve the theft of Pearl Diamond Ring if your family had not spent its holidays in Australia. The CCTV footage acquired from Ethan’s shop helped in identification of the woman. She was found to be serving for a robbery gang that had stolen the ring. The police succeeded in clutching the robbers and brining back Pearl Diamond to the museum.

The museum authority had personally thanked Natalie whose camera had become a singular element in solving the case. The museum authority has also awarded her $1000 for without her The Pearl Museum would have lost its pearl!

Yours lovingly,

William Johnson.”

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