Wow a tight competition for this blog’s first writing contest. There was so much to be said for each entry and no entry went unnoticed by appreciative readers. Some unusual takes on love, but that’s what made the reading so interesting and from what I understand, it’s also what makes the world go round. Especially envious of the many renaissance contestants, cross overs from art to photography to writing…how’d you end up with so much talent? NOW it’s time to NAME NAMES…. find out who wrote your favorite piece.
VERONICA KAY for her touching story Candles #2 you are our WINNER.
1st RUNNER UP – ERIK MUENCH for Car Wreck 1
My love story started very small. Commitment-phobe tests the water and falls in love with a guinea pig, then a rabbit, keep going up the food chain til I found Jon.
No one wrote a zombie story, sad about that. But for some heart thumping great short fiction, read on.
TO VOTE: Only three categories, so voting changes…Write your top two choices in the comment box at the end of the blog – making sure you identify which is your #1 favorite and your runner-up.
WRECKED CAR #1 by ERIK MUENCH 1st runner up
Caw-LEY”, she calls again, her voice a little raspy.
No answer but the wind that whispers through the trees
And scrub that scrapes against the Charger’s mangled hood.
She stops and turns and looks at me, her wide-set eyes
(They’re Jenna’s eyes) are moist and red; she hasn’t slept at all. “
We’ll find him Hon”, I say, “keep calling and he’ll come.”
“Faster!” Jenna yelled, the Charger’s engine howling,
Already doing 105 we screamed down Lake Shore Road.
The cabin smelled of pot and burning engine oil,
The tach had redlined long ago, the Charger didn’t care.
We parked at some old campsite, listening for loons,
And spent the night – two meatball subs, a six of beer, and you.
Then three years later at the track I blew a tire,
Flipped the car, and hit the woods at sixty-five.
A branch stuck through the shotgun seat, but I got out
Then staggered up the burm and hobbled to the stands.
But Jenna’d left with little Megan. No one there.
I towed the Charger to the field and left it there to rot.
That Jenna wanted something else, some other life,
I knew. Some guy, an auto shop, just not enough.
She searched in funny places, though:
In beers and bars and trailer parks.
Her sister says she’s in Chicago now.
I really hope she’s happy and she stays there.
“Caw-LEY”, Meg croaks. She sniffs and tries again, “Caw-LEY!”
Damn dog. But Megan loves the beast. She falls asleep
Her head upon its chest and arm around its neck.
“Cawley!” I yell and listen. “Dog!” Still nothing.
And then a bark far off. Meg freezes, calls, and runs.
Purple sneakers pound the trail.
Please God, I’m praying, let me keep this one small thing.
WRECKED CAR #2 by PMB
She stood inside by the window, light fading outside. Where’s the snow? she wondered. When Ronnie had come back here, the room behind the barn, he couldn’t believe how she could stand so much cold. What are you hiding from, he asked. Oh Ronnie. He stood shivering beside her stillness. Funny how a person just shows up out of the blue and then you can’t imagine them not there.
Out there were a bunch of wrecks mostly hidden in the weeds. Homes for snakes, Ronnie told her. Jimmy asked Ronnie who they belonged to. They don’t belong to nobody. Things just get left behind. Who’s nobody, Jimmy persisted. Nobody is no one going nowhere, no matter what day it is. Ronnie smiled as if that would explain anything.
She thought about making dinner. She who could grow anything in that wicked soil, as Mrs. Hanley called it, couldn’t cook a thing tastefully. All garden and no kitchen, Ronnie told her. He was some impressed when he saw all she had put up in the cellar. We ain’t gonna eat all that, he gasped. That made her bring carrots and tomatoes to Mrs. Hanley, who insisted on paying. You know how I am with my garden, she told her, so why do I need money? But in the end she took it and then hid it away.
Jimmy was out front yelling at the sky. Always yelling that one. Couldn’t tell you about what though. Standing there trying to be tall, stiff from trying, face straining, bellowing. He stopped when he saw her. Put his hands in his pockets and walked back into the house. Ronnie was inside, washing his hands. He looked around, smiled. It was so warm in there. Something you know only after you’ve been cold, she thought.
WRECKED CAR #3 by Mike Ferreira
Mary had travelled 3,000 miles to begin a new life; her past behind and open fields ahead. The tragedy that motivated her relocation set deep in her soul, yet her determination and her love of God would carry her through. A new beginning is often the scariest of endeavors—filled with the unknown—a new adventure every day.
Settling in to a high income desert community as a school teacher had advantages and disadvantages; in a school teacher’s realm the student’s were motivated more than most, but the parent’s held high expectations. In the midst of this environment Mary managed to do exceedingly well; filling her time with her position as a biology teacher, and even scheduling multiple tutoring sessions after classes kept her so busy that the thought of finding companionship faded into the mist with each week that passed, yet still her heart longed for that special man to find her, and help her to forget the trouble she endured; making her feel like the queen that she truly is.
Along comes a man, Michael, with the only thing to offer her being a like love for God, and the poetic ability of a wordsmith. From the outside the two looked to be a miss-match; her life more balanced in a worldly sense, while his was spiritual. Her history was stable; while his, a dark tale of self-destruction. Who would have thought that the two would complement each other so well?
One might imagine a lot of friction between the two and indeed such exists, but at least from Michael’s point of view— Mary is the best gift he ever received. Hopefully Mary can hold on to the fact that Michael, even though 52 years old, still needs to grow up some; God willing.
Should true love wait then both shall know… otherwise this shall truly be just another short story.
CANDLES #1 by Merril Allen
The hot Santa Ana winds can turn a spark into a hungry fire, roaring through the dry canyons snaking behind LA, leaving a charred wilderness marked by the smoking skeletons of flame-devoured homes.
The woman stared out her window at the warm riot of pinks and purples, layered with orange and blue in the sky behind the San Gabriel mountains. Sunrise was always beautiful here. But this morning she didn’t see the sunrise. The morning after the fire, the sun would shine on a landscape as black and barren as the lava wilderness of Maui. As black and barren as her own heart, after the fire raged through.
She had known better. You don’t live in The Land of Instant for long without learning a few things about love. And one of them is Beware the Santa Ana Wind. A little spark is just that: small, brief, a punctuation mark at the end of a pleasant sentence. You enjoy the flash of light, drink a toast to its demise, and go your way.
In The Land of Instant, “love” is not a word. It is a euphemism. It is that little flare of the match, first struck. When the flame sputters out, you are left with a charred stick and the fleeting scent of sulfur, but no one is burned. You just light another match.
But she hadn’t counted on the Santa Ana wind catching the little flame and igniting her heart. How she had burned with love! “Throw caution to the wind,” they had told her. “Follow your heart!”
She had made a fool of herself. She burned up fast. He left with his book of matches; she was left staring at the sun shining on the blackened canyons of her heart.
CANDLES #2 by Veronica Kay WINNER!!!! Congratulations!
She lit the candles one by one – up the staircase, down the hall, around the tub… It had been a hard year, and this was a calculated effort to create romance.
The baby was brought to her sister’s, the flowing negligée in a size larger than last year was on a hanger next to the shower, and after she carefully shaved her legs, she lotioned her dry bits, and self-tanned her chubby bits in an effort to make contours where none really existed. She slipped on the negligee, bent over to adjust her breasts to their optimum capacity, and made sure her make-up looked like there was no make-up. Then she waited.
He was late – as usual. As he had been the past few months. The pregnancy had been rough. Too much nausea followed by too much weight gain, followed by too many sleepless nights. The baby was a blessing, of course. A little bit of perfect ion in a world of chaos. But there were no more interesting dinners as they compared notes from their days, challenging tales of business woes and wins, or texted tidbits during travel whirlwinds. All that had been replaced by regurgitated formula, Sam’s Club diapers, and survival on a salary cut by 50%. He had been so proud of his Christmas gift to her: a gym membership. “They have babysitting,” he had said.
She resolved to rekindle the spark on Valentine’s Day with candles, champagne, and aromatic oils. Instead she fell asleep.
Instead – of ginger and jasmine, she awoke to the scent of pepperoni and cheese. Her husband shook her gently awake, “Where’s the baby?” They blew out the candles, replacing them with the soft neon glow of an old movie. The champagne and pizza blended perfectly, the cells phones were shut off, and the negligée didn’t matter at all.
CANDLES #3 by Marjorie Kaye
I heard the door close upstairs. This was not unusual, as he quite frequently disappears into the late evening to work. The sounds of hand saws and the smell of paint are the denizens of these evening hours. It was late. There is a clock built into one’s psyche that is forever joined with those of one’s loved ones. Mine woke me at about 2:30am. He hadn’t come to bed.
I scrambled up the stairs. Sometimes he falls asleep in his chair in front of a manifesting sculpture. There was a candle burning. Sometimes he places candleholders and brass weights of all kinds in his work. You will find curios of all sorts in his wake.
He wasn’t there. I walked towards the candle, compelled to stare at its beckoning flame. As I did, the room became woven, and then to take shape. The floor boards widened. The painted walls became stone. There was a cool wind blowing in from arched, gothic windows. It was daylight.
I found him. Love can parallel physics; time, space, and above all, faith. There is a dedication inherited from the countless builders of worlds. He had become an architect of time travel, granted by the sentinels, an audience with history. And so had I.
He glanced up at me with astonishment. Silently, together we walked through dust and debris, through the light shining into deep amber darkness. We wound our way to the wooden door of this, a very large cathedral.
Upon stepping into the diamond sun of a day, we were greeted by a man with dust on his hands. His eyes were mirrors. He revealed to us the sweet nature of our souls. My love was given a marker, which he lovingly and expertly placed at the cornerstone. And then we were home.
PERFORMER #1 by Leisa Campbell
Once upon a time, there was a very bad singer. And I do mean BAD. When he began to sing, the dogs ran away as they howled. He was so bad, that those listening had an apoplectic fit laughing. He was so bad that not only did the water glasses, mirrors, and anything else that had reflective properties break, they – well, let’s just leave it at that. Any way, he was performing in a small act with the usual results. In despair, he looked out into the crowd. Amazingly, there was someone who wasn’t laughing at him. She was too busy talking rapidly and avidly on her cell phone. The bad musician fell head over heels for her. He then immediately got on his knees and asked pleadingly for a single date. And then, she did laugh. Right in his face. Brokenhearted, he began to walk the streets brooding in self-pity. Then he heard the sound of someone crying. Stunned that there was someone out there more miserable than himself, he rushed to help. It was a plumberess with the same problem he had but for a different reason that was just as obvious to others who gave her plenty of clearance as they passed. After talking for a while, she said she was deaf, so his singing wouldn’t bother her. Delighted, he revealed that he, in fact, was hyposmiatic. Having found at last the perfect match, they lived in a little bungalow filled with foul smells and hideous music, in absolute bliss. Fin
PERFORMER #2 by Madeline Underwood
She laughed when he told her what she did under hypnosis and harder still when she saw herself on video. “Promise me that won’t make it to YouTube” she pleaded as she watched herself conduct a non-existent orchestra and search for her missing belly-button. It was all such a fun joke that seemed as though it happened to someone else; she had only snippets of wispy memories of any of it.
But I remembered. I remembered her intent stare as the hypnotist told this unattached girl that the man she loved deeply, passionately was in the audience. Her eyes singled me out, a connection was forged, a promise of love made whether she remembered or not.
I found myself following her around Florida’s Strawberry Fest, held early this year due to warmer than usual weather, smashing into her bumper car again and again trying to shove myself back into her memory.
“Hey, aren’t you the girl from the hypnosis show?”
“I am. Wasn’t that the craziest thing?”
She didn’t acknowledge me as “the one”, but I understood. The video camera never caught my face.
We met again when I emerged through the cloud of powdered sugar and cinnamon she created shaking the containers with unusual vehemence above her fried dough.
“Hey, again. I figured you more as a strawberry shortcake girl.” She smiled but not as brightly.
When I presented her with some wood chips from the LumberJills show, her eyebrows dipped and she scanned the arena for an exit. She walked; I followed. She picked up her pace; I matched it.
She spun around: “What are you, a stalker?”
“’Stalker’ seems so harsh, I prefer the word ‘Valentine’” and I pulled a blue fiber-optic-enhanced rose from my incongruent jacket and swayed it back and forth in front of her.