The standard of entries for this year's ELLE Talent Competition was higher than ever which makes us pretty excited about the new and the emerging writing talent out there.
Make sure you read Alice Blackhurst's winning entry in the January issue of ELLE on sale now.
And come back every week to read the entries from our four runners up.
Ella Ivey, 24, Brand Manager and writer for hopelessdaters.com
Let me tell you about my first love.
I was on a dirty mini bus on the way to the coastline of Cornwall, sitting on the second row in a seat which contained a seat belt held together by Sellotape. If we crash, I will die in waterproof clothing from Millets and the world will never know that I own a pair of Marc Jacobs shoes.
I can hear the faint mumblings of the two girls next to me, but I'm not interested in hearing the universities that they're planning to go to, or the cheesy quotes they've selected for their personal statements - ‘I am that second mouse!’ - as if no lecturer will have watched Catch Me If You Can?!
I should probably socialise - after all, I have 3 more days of searching the coast line for sea anemones and limpets. But for now I'm content with drinking my petrol station coffee and watching the countryside roll on by. It's a proud moment for me. This time around I only required four sugars instead of the usual eight. This, and the fact that tomorrow I will be exactly 17 and four months, means that I’m truly blossoming into an adult.
The mini bus finally stops in some grotty car park with crude graffiti surrounding it. I turn to Phil and ask him what some of the rude phrases mean. I've deduced that he's definitely the best person to ask since last night his conversation consisted entirely of ‘I'm Phil Gloucester! Check out my 12 inch monster!’
But he just laughs and goes back to talking to Jamie, who is scowling at me. Ah, my supportive, so-called lab partner for this trip. He’s leaning against the side of the mini bus, pulling the zip of his jacket up and down as if along to some imaginary music. I get the urge to throw my paper cup at him, but stop myself. Once is really enough. As you can tell, we don’t get on.
‘We need to fill this beaker with water,’ I grunt at Jamie as I shove the scratched, plastic container towards him.
He puts down his folder on the ground and looks at me. ‘Where am I supposed to get water from?’
‘The river,’ I say, indicating to the glistening mass of water in the distance.
‘Firstly,’ he snatches the beaker from my hand, ‘That's the sea, and secondly, why can't you do it?’
I'm about to say it's because I'm a girl, but realise that it's not really a winning argument.
‘Just go and fill it up in the river,’ I order, trying to walk away. The wind whistles loudly in my ears and brutally carries sand in my direction. I rub my eyelids when the granules reach my eyes.
‘It's THE SEA!’ Jamie yells.
I'm not in the mood for this. I blink in rapid succession to get the last bits of sand out and grunt in frustration.
‘It's an estuary! Therefore, it's a river!’ I practically scream. He's been a grating, little annoyance the entire trip and I cannot stand it any longer. ‘I'll just do it myself!’ I say, grabbing the beaker from his clutch and furiously making my way towards the rippling water.
‘Oh, come back. It's a lot further than it looks,’ he says, his sandy footsteps following mine. But I'm far too stubborn for my own good and carry on. My legs have never moved this fast, and yet my destination is not getting any closer.
‘Stop!’ Jamie is yelling after me.
I do stop. I turn around and throw the beaker. It hits his shoulder before rolling onto the sand, swaying to and fro in the breeze.
‘What’s the matter with you?’ he starts yelling. But I stand there motionless. I feel too angry to argue back, too angry to run away. He starts moving closer. My feet stay rooted to the spot.
‘I don't like you,’ I say calmly.
But Jamie says nothing. He's standing a few inches away looking down at me, catching his breath. He moves a little closer.
It's odd - I've never noticed that his hair has golden shades to it in the sunshine. Nor have I noticed that his nose is dotted with light freckles.
His lips move in closer as if searching for mine.
Please don't kiss me, I think. I don't deal well with being kissed. Last time someone tried, I kicked them in the nuts.
But his lips only trace my jaw line, then my cheek, until finally resting on my forehead. He kisses me. My entire thought process escapes me, flying high in the breeze and getting washed away out at sea. All I know is that my hands are cold and there may be some algae in my hair.
‘It’s a shame you don’t,’ he whispers and walks back.
I watch his silhouette as it fades in the distance and think of what just happened. This is a peculiar feeling. I've never been this tongue-tied before. Perhaps I should check for concussion.
How many fingers am I holding up?
What day is it?
What can you tell me about yourself?
Hi, I'm Ella Ivey. Tomorrow I will be 17 and 4 months, and today, I fell in love.