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  • Writer's pictureKayleigh Willis

SCARS - 2nd Prize - Lynda Mason

Updated: Feb 13, 2022

Second prize was awarded to Lynda Mason for her darkly funny and incredibly moving piece, NINE CIRCLES:


by Lynda Mason

6.30pm, Berwick Apartments, London

Classic FM plays softly in Flat Number One. Marcia is trying out a new recipe; a glossy cookbook propped in front of her on the kitchen counter. Bending down to peer through the sticky glass of the oven door, she smiles uncertainly. The view from within is dim and unearthly – but it does seem to look like the enticing photo that accompanies the text and certainly a savoury smell is filling the air.

She decides to pour herself a glass of chilled Sancerre and then closes her eyes for a few glorious moments. The evening sunlight coats her closed eyelids in honey and gold.

Suddenly, a rhythmic tapping is heard. A sharp metallic noise jars and shudders through the peace and quiet. Exactly like the sound of a walking stick hitting a bed frame in fact.

“MUM!”, Marcia shouts.

“Stop that. Please!

The banging continues. It gets louder; the pace more frenzied. This is a new habit, one of many distressing developments over the past year.

“One day”, she whispers to herself. “One day, I am going to kill her”


Over in Flat Two, Peter dreams of penguins.

His alarm is set. At 2am, the fluorescent numbers will flash and blaze with a sickly green fire, just as a hideous buzzing begins. The tone of this alarm clock is the kind of horrible noise any human being would want to put a stop to immediately and it is the exact reason Peter bought such a cheap and nasty item in the first place.

At 2.05am he will rise and get ready to start his early shift at the 24 hour Tesco on Ennis Road.

For now, he is floating dreamily in an Arctic sea amongst a million wriggling penguins.


Alex sits in Flat Three thinking about how much she hates Zoom. Auditions via Zoom feel even worse to her somehow, more stilted and unnatural even than those awkward family quizzes or stuttering work calls.

She has read all of her lines into the air and talked enthusiastically about the play.

Now, there is an awful hanging silence. Alex desperately tries to look bright, engaged and alert. To appear talented and appealing when all she really wants to do is flatten down those wayward strands of hair she can see in the little thumbnail image of her on-screen.

She would quite like to check whether the spot she has also just seen is really as big as it appears to be. She would love to snap her laptop shut and give up. But she knows that she cannot. These tormented moments represent both her fears and her desires, her shadow-life. The life that might just be about to start.

A cough rings out, harsh and tinny in the quiet of the room.

The director stares out of the screen. He is bald and slim and he wears a revolting khaki ribbed sweater. Currently, he is also wearing a pained expression.

Alex’s heart cracks, just a little. One more tiny, hairline fracture to add to all the others.

“How many times”, she thinks, as her face contorts into a smile. “How many times can I put myself through this?”