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Anna's winning entry

The shouting started. Last night they’d shouted, the night before they’d shouted, the night before that they’d shouted. It had been a long time since they hadn’t shouted. Not just shouting though. Ben’s dad also hit his mum. She had bruises and cuts to prove it.

Curling tighter into a ball, Ben stuck his fingers in his ears, desperately trying to block out the yelling. It was no use. He heard a thud then a cry. Ben’s mum would have a mark on her face the next morning. After hearing several more thumps he decided he had had enough. Silently he crept down the old creaky stairs to his parents.

“Oi! What you doing down here?” Ben’s dad snarled. His eyes were red and bleary and his breath stank of stale beer. He’d been at the pub again.

“Don’t hit mum,” Ben said as confidently as he could.

“Me and your mum are just having a wee chat. It’s none of your business and I can hit your mum if I want to. As he growled this he raised his hand to slap Ben’s mum. Ben leapt in front of her and was hit with the full impact of the blow on his right arm. Where his dad’s nails had caught his arm there was a long cut. Ben attempted to stanch the flow of blood but was reassured by the thought that his shirt would cover it in school the next day. He would hate it if teachers made inquiries about what was going on at home.

“Up to your room!” bellowed Ben’s dad. Ben scurried back up to his room and threw himself under his covers.

The next day at school, Ben thought that he had to do something or tell someone. Eventually he plucked up the courage to tell his teacher, Mrs Sweeney, what was happening with his parents at home. She was a kind, elderly lady with rosy cheeks and a permanent smile. Ben liked her and knew that she wanted to listen to him.

As he quietly approached the large oak desk, Mrs Sweeney was sitting at, he tried to think about what he would say but his mind seemed to go blank. It was too late to turn back though as he had reached the desk. Looking up at him, Mrs Sweeney smiled.

“Are you alright, Ben? Is everything fine at home?” asked Mrs Sweeney. Teachers are like that, sometimes they seem to be able to read your mind.

“Actually that’s why I came to see you Mrs Sweeney, things aren’t fine at home,” replied Ben. “Before you tell me about it, I must tell you that I may tell other people about your situation. Not pupils but adults, adults that will help you. Is that okay?” Mrs Sweeney’s face was serious. After a minute of thinking, Ben decided that he had to tell her.

Ben told her everything. When he was finished she said: “Don’t worry, everything will be sorted out.”

And for the first time in ages, Ben felt safe.