“The Outing” by LAYM competition winner Aisling Lewis

As part of our Look After Your Mate campaign, we held a creative writing competition on the theme of ‘friendship’ in partnership with The Student Wordsmith. This is the third and last of our winning entries, a short story called “The Outing” by Aisling Lewis. Thanks to everybody who entered the competition! We hope readers will be inspired to think and write about their own experiences of supporting a friend. 

The Outing

by Aisling Lewis

‘The strangest thing happened to me yesterday.’
‘Go on.’
‘Well, someone I met on Saturday night phoned me to ask me out for a drink.’
‘What?’
‘I know! I didn’t know what to do.’
‘Wow. I don’t remember the last time anyone who wasn’t my mum, or you, called me. Red or white?’
‘Red?’
‘Red.’

Surveying the restaurant Kate noticed how busy it was for a Wednesday and assumed that everyone else probably had the Vouchercloud app too. There was an elderly couple a few tables away who were sitting next to each other as opposed to opposite. Kate couldn’t work out if this was a wonderful gesture of enduring romance, or miscommunication and stubbornness.

While Alice examined the menu Kate observed the décor. On the wall behind Alice was a black and white canvas print of Big Ben. Next to that was a poster of a Samuel Johnson quote about being tired.

‘There’s a girl over there wearing an incredible dress. Blonde hair. Quick, she’s looking at her menu, turn around, quick!’

Kate span herself around.

‘Bit much for this place, isn’t it? She must be on a date.’
‘You know, I thought she was that girl you used to hang about with before you went… away’

Alice’s head was turned down into her menu but both could feel her awkwardness.

‘Jas.’
‘That’s it. She looks a bit like her, don’tcha think?’ Kate didn’t bother turning around to look again.
‘Not really.’
‘Have you heard from her… since? Or, you know, recently?’
‘No.’
‘Oh. I wonder what she’s doing now.’
‘Use your imagination.’

Both waited for this cloud of clumsiness to pass.

The wall was painted a deep maroon colour, some years ago, and beneath the loud murmur of chatter and the clinks of crockery, Gotye’s Somebody That I Used To Know could be heard in the background. To their right was a young couple with enough Topshop bags at their feet to explain the lack of conversation at the table.

Alice discreetly checked her watch. ‘Did I tell you that a girl I work with has just moved into a place on the road we were looking at?’
‘Yeah?’
‘She’s living on her own though. I couldn’t do that’.
‘Because you can’t take the tops off your eggs?’
‘Exactly! And who would fake tan my back?’ They exchanged wide grins, long overdue. ‘Right’. Releasing her fingers Alice announced that she would be ordering the ‘Bruschetta, risotto and the house red.’
‘Lovely. Should I have the avocado salad, or, the burger?’
‘Burger. Definitely.’


Aisling has recently finished an MA in Creative Writing at Loughborough University. During this time she developed a narrative of historical fiction set in World War Two Britain which she hopes to turn into a novella. At 23 she is yet unable to drive, but rather impressively, can recite by heart, the whole of David Bowie’s Jean Genie. 

“A Friend, in Two Parts” by LAYM competition winner Rose Walker

As part of our Look After Your Mate campaign, we held a creative writing competition on the theme of ‘friendship’ in partnership with The Student Wordsmith. This is the second of our winning entries, a poem called “A Friend, in Two Parts” by Rose Walker.

A Friend, in Two Parts

by Rose Walker

When I started uni, my mind was set.
I was starting again, brand-new and fresh!
 
I didn’t need to tell every person I met
that sometimes I get down –
sad, even
depressed…
 
Instead, I wanted to the follow the packs, the herds,
and for them to think I was totally cheery.
Who wants a friend that constantly seems dreary?!
 
But you, you were different – cool and kind, and
I made you laugh (I really tried)
because I wanted you at my side.
 
Gradually I began to hint
in just the briefest of words
that sometimes, but not always, I found things hard.
That I’d overdosed,
just the year before,
that the pain of the memory was still pretty raw.
 
Yet now, when life gets tough, again,
you hold me up. With
late night food and Skype, phone calls and hugs,
your prescription worked better than any drug.
 
You didn’t shy away, ignore me, or run, and
You help me to realised that life is still fun.
You held my hand when I’d given up hope, and
you gave me the jolt that helped me to cope.
 
Beyond all, you’re my blessing, and
a prayer.
My steadfast conviction is
that life can be fair.


Rose Walker is a final year university student who is passionate about both writing and mental health. She describes this competition as a ‘dream to be involved in’ as a result of this and suggests that the more we talk about mental illness, the more we realise how common it is. It is nothing to be afraid of.

Part II of “The Cat’s Out of the Bag…” by LAYM competition winner Lizzie Akass

As part of our Look After Your Mate campaign, we held a creative writing competition on the theme of ‘friendship’ in partnership with The Student Wordsmith. We’re delighted to release the first of our winning entries, a short story called “The Cat’s Out of the Bag…” by Lizzie Akass from Loughborough University, the second part of which is below.

Part 2 of ‘The Cat’s Out of the Bag…’

by Lizzie Akass

‘Robin Hood?’

‘Wrong. We’re watching Tangled.’

‘Brilliant. Thanks for asking.’

‘It’s only polite, you are my guest.’

She puts it in and we sit quietly for a few minutes as the story is introduced.

‘The guy in this is beautiful.’

‘Yep.’

‘Is it weird to find a cartoon attractive?’

‘Nope. Everyone does, nobody talks about it.’

‘They should.’

‘Indeed. So are you adding Flynn Rider to your list of acceptable men?’

‘It’s Eugine Fitzherbert, you uneducated swine.’

‘Toy Story reference, I approve.’

‘Thank you.’

‘You’re most welcome.’

‘Have you got a placement yet?’

‘No, still applying, you?’

‘Still waiting to hear back, I’ve applied to like, twenty places though so I keep

checking my e-mail.’

‘Well how long ago did you apply?’

‘This morning.’

‘Oh, maybe relax on checking your inbox for the time being then.’

‘I know, but what if nowhere accepts me?’

‘Then you’ll have to add an imaginary dog shelter to your list to drown your sorrows

‘Nah, you’ll definitely get a place so I’ll just sneak along with you.’

‘I’m sure they’d never notice.’

‘I am very sneaky.’

‘You are.’

‘I like that they give Rapunzel buck teeth. They’re beginning to make the Disney girls

look more normal.’

‘Well, she’s still pretty perfect.’

‘I know. I hate her.’

‘Don’t be stupid.’

‘Nah she’s a nice kid, she knows I love her really.’

‘Wait, she’s only turning eighteen?’

‘Oh my god, when did we become old?’

‘Most of the Disney girls are only, like, sixteen or something ridiculous.’

‘You know you’re getting really old when you start agreeing with the parents in kid’s

movies.’

‘It’s kinda sad really.’

‘It’s OK. Zac will always choose to hang out with us, we’re not afraid of ice cream.’

‘Have you ordered the pizza yet?’

‘Obviously.’

‘How long ago?’

‘Timone’s hula dance.’

‘Brilliant, should be here soon then. And you got-’

‘Yes, I got you stuffed crust, pineapple and tuna, but no olives because you think

they’re too fancy for take away pizza, and only seem right when you’re actually having them

on pizza in Italy.’

‘You’re amazing.’

‘I am the best.’

‘You are.’ She grins at me and then starts to look sad, ‘I do miss Dave.’

‘No. None of that. Pause the film. We’re having a spontaneous dance party to

Beyonce. The most independent woman in the world.’

‘She is married though.’

‘My argument still stands. She’s fabulous, get up.’

A smile creeps across her face, ‘Hold on, I’m getting your cat.’

September 2014


Lizzie Akass

Lizzie Akass is an undergraduate English student at Loughborough University. She loves writing both short stories and novels, and has recently had her short story, ‘Cambodia’, published through The Story Graph, loosely based on her own travelling experiences through South-East Asia.

Part I of “The Cat’s Out of the Bag…” by LAYM competition winner Lizzie Akass

As part of our Look After Your Mate campaign, we held a creative writing competition on the theme of ‘friendship’ in partnership with The Student Wordsmith. We’re delighted to release the first of our winning entries, a short story called “The Cat’s Out of the Bag…” by Lizzie Akass from Loughborough University, the first part of which is below.

Part I of ‘The Cat’s Out of the Bag…’

by Lizzie Akass

‘Just give me the keys to a cat shelter now.’

‘Oh come on, don’t you think you’re overreacting?’

‘No. I’m so sick of men. I hate boys.’

‘Shall we become nuns together then?’

‘Too much work. I’d rather be a cat lady.’

‘OK. I’ll buy you a cardigan so you can button it up wrong.’

‘Perfect, I need glasses with the tape in the middle as well, please.’

‘On it. Anything else?’

‘Jonny Depp would be nice.’

‘Too old for you, it’d ruin him, he’d be creepy, not sexy. Robert Pattinson?’

‘Hmm . . . I think he’s more your type.’

‘He was voted sexiest man in the world a few times, I think he’s a lot of people’s type.’

‘No. I need options.’

‘Zac Efron?’

‘Perfect.’

‘OK, so the ‘no boys’ thing is out of the window then?’

‘No, no. Still in place. He can just visit me when I need a man, ninety percent of the time I’m good with the cats.’

‘Well if the cats are in cages they can’t leave you.’

‘Exactly, they’d have to love me.’

‘That many cats is a lot of work though.’

‘Less work than a relationship.’

‘Well, evidently. But Dave is just a tool though, he can’t be your bar to judge all men by.’

‘Ben and Jerry are the only men I need in my life.’

‘Oh no, Zac will be so disappointed.’

‘OK, Ben, and Jerry, and Zac.’

‘Now you’re being greedy.’

‘You’re the one eating all the ice cream.’

‘Well, I did pay for it.’

I pass the melting pot of chocolate over to her and she plunges her spoon in. The Disney movie we’re watching flickers into a new scene. She glances up and begins to sing along, spluttering chocolate.

‘Oh you’re so attractive.’

‘I’m allowed to be. Newly single people are allowed to be gross for a month. It’s practically law.’

‘Oh really? Where was I when this was decided?’

‘Not being dumped.’

‘Fair point. But I do have to look at you . . . and smell you . . . when was the last time you showered?’

‘Yesterday.’

‘OK sure, sure. And in reality?’

‘Thursday.’

‘It’s Sunday.’

‘I’m allowed to be gross! Simba wouldn’t judge me.’ She nods at the TV screen.

‘Lions wash themselves all the time.’

‘They also eat raw animal innards, your argument is invalid.’

The Lion King finishes. She launches herself to the cabinet beside the TV and produces three other Disney movies to choose from.

‘Which one?’

(To be continued…)


Lizzie Akass

Lizzie Akass is an undergraduate English student at Loughborough University. She loves writing both short stories and novels, and has recently had her short story, ‘Cambodia’, published through The Story Graph, loosely based on her own travelling experiences through South-East Asia.