25th Trillium Award

Write Across Ontario: Grade Twelve Winning Story by Mik Opolski

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Every Monday in March, the Open Book Magazine has featured one of the four winning stories in Open Book: Ontario and IFOA Ontario's Write Across Ontario contest. Ontario high school students were asked to compose a story of 500 words or less in response to one of three "story-starters" written by award-winning authors Ian Rankin, Johanna Skibsrud and Miriam Toews.

Geoffrey E. Taylor, Director of the IFOA, was thrilled by the number of submissions they received. “The imagination and creativity of Ontario students is fantastic," he says. "Who knows, we might even have our hands on a future Festival participant.”

Erin Knight, Open Book: Ontario’s Contributing Editor, praises the winning stories for providing “the best of what short fiction has to offer, including complex characters, believable dialogue and the occasional surprising twist. Most of all, these stories have lives off the page: they suggest a compelling back-story and a narrative trajectory that carries us forward, even when the story as it's been written is complete.”


Congratulations to St. Michael's College School student Mik Opolski! His smart, humorous and imaginative story was selected as the winner for the grade twelve category of the Write Across Ontario contest.

As a child, Mik created picture books “with epic plot lines,” but it wasn’t until this school year that he started taking fiction writing seriously. Although he had fiction assignments in English class in past years, Mik told Open Book that it was his Writer’s Craft teacher, Ms. Higgins, who inspired him to focus on his writing.

Mik claims his greatest influence is Quentin Tarantino. He admires the way Tarantino “develops his characters through dialogue....” Mik says, “I strive to imitate him while at the same time adding my own style.”

Mik selected Ian Rankin’s story-starter because he found it rich with possibilities. His next writing projects are for his Writer’s Craft class. He tells us, “I'm currently working on a script about a young man who was mysteriously found dead right before he was set to be shipped off to fight in Vietnam, and the other is a fictional diary of a Canadian soldier during his time in Britain while he waits to be deployed.”


Grade Twelve Winning Story by Mik Opolski

He was out there again. Except ‘he’ was a ‘she’ — it was hard to tell in the dark. Three nights in a row, I’d looked down on the street from my bedroom window and watched the shape standing there, almost hidden behind the tree that refused to die. I got the feeling whoever they were, they were only a year or two older than me… The first night I’d just stared for a while and then got bored. The second, I’d opened the window to shout something, but there’d been nothing there to shout at. Tonight, I was going to scramble downstairs and throw open the window to shout something, but there’d been nothing there to shout at. Tonight, I was going to scramble downstairs and throw open the door. Really I was. Really.

Well, not really. There are like, twenty or fifty stairs that I would I have to climb right after and my diet of pizza pops and mountain dew was not going to help me. I waddled back to my xl computer chair that my parents got on my 25th birthday. Even though they were always nagging me to get a job and be responsible or whatever, at least they got me nice gifts. I logged into my Warcraft account and began my quest to recover the red viper dagger from the depths of the dungeons of Morlog. I was close to leveling up when suddenly an all too familiar figure caught my sight by the tree outside. Being prepared, I grabbed my exclusive Star Wars flashlight and shined the light at the peeping tom. I caught only a glimpse, but I could swear I saw long flowing brown hair.

Of course! I must have some kind of secret admirer! By Captain Kirk, I must not ruin my one chance to score! I threw open my closet to find what the urban community calls “swagger.” I found the Tuxedo T-Shirt I wore at my Aunt’s wedding, and decide only someone as blind as Daredevil could resist me now. In lieu of a shower, I doused myself in Old Spice. Now my secret admirer will see me as a shirtless black man riding a horse!

I triumphed over the cursed stairs and squeezed through the front door. Outside there was nothing but darkness. I puffed my chest out, and strode toward the old tree.

“Fair maiden,” I called out, “Do not fear me, for my heart belongs to you!”

I heard no reply. I squinted to make out any shapes through the darkness, to no avail. I closed my eyes, and tried to hear if there was anything there. My Elvan hearing picked up the sound of a twig snapping. There was somebody in the bush! I crept forward silently, wondering why my lady refused to show herself. Unless…

How could I be so blind! I walked straight into an ambush! I wheel around and started to speed walk, but it was too late! My fate was sealed.


Mik Opolski is a 17 year old from Mississauga, who loves reading books, playing video games, watching movies and girls. His favourite book is Animal Farm, his favourite game is Zelda and his favourite movie is Fight Club. His favourite girl is Emma Watson.

Read the Write Across Ontario winning short stories here.

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