Short Tale Shrew’s Spring Writing Contest Winner (It’s Not Me)

Photo by Re Harris

Photo by Re Harris

In my quest to keep on writing, I searched for writing contests here on WordPresss, not just on the internet in general, as I’ve done before. That’s how I found Short Tale Shrew.

This site hosted a writing contest this Spring — one hundred words on the theme, rebirth. From their post about the contest and its rules: “In keeping with the spirit of spring, all microfiction stories must be based loosely on the idea of “rebirth.” This could entail a literal rebirth, a spiritual one, or simply “rebirth” as a metaphorical concept. We don’t have any additional stipulations for content: simply incorporate the idea of rebirth in your story somehow.” The entry fee was $5.00, the prize was $50.00. Here’s a link to the winner and a runner-up that caught the judge’s imagination.

I entered the contest with this story that I shared on Words One Hundred after it lost. I see where the judges went with this, and I now have another answer to my question about realism and flash. To stretch as a writer and work harder on telling newer, more compelling stories, I need to focus on melding the two to my satisfaction. And I think I can — if I can remember this concept while I’m actually writing and editing.

Another lesson learned. Readers have to find some thrill, something to excite them in my work, and no one can put it there but me.

And no more entry fees for me. Can’t afford them. I have two more stories out (one without a fee and one with), and that fee and this one to STS were a good faith wager on myself with a few unexpected dollars saved this month. I’ll let you know how the next one goes. They extended the entry deadline to May 25th, which made my hustle to get it in by the original April 18th deadline seem weird. I dread the very idea of an extra month spent waiting, but my daughter actually likes that story and thinks it’s fun (?!!), which bodes well for it having been ready to go without the extra time to work on it. My fingers are crossed.

 

The Old and the New-ish

WordPress having enlightened us about how we did last year, made me think about my two sites and what I want for them (or shall I say, myself) in the new year. The only thing I feel like sharing at the moment, is my quest to get better at putting the words together.

Since I haven’t much else to say about these works in progress (or any of my others) and because my last post was a Christmas story with more words than many would deem prudent, I decided to begin Sparks In Shadow’s new year with a few Words One Hundred posts that meant a lot to me. They’re different from the ones WordPress says got the most hits, and that’s okay. Things get lost in this internet sea of words.

Even when found, the words don’t always mean the same things to readers as they do to writers. This is the reality that’s currently burning me into submission.

*******

Respite

Qthomasbower via Flickr

Through the glass, she sees an earthen footpath wending to the right behind golden mums, fuchsia roses, and trees rising higher to the edge of her view. She presses her palms against the hard coolness separating her life from the scenery, dreaming of lives beyond her reach.

To the left, sidewalk, lawn then busy artery, three lanes worth in both directions, reminding her of trips downtown, to an airport once, and flight.

Wanting either side, anything elsewhere, she removes her hands and massages a fist to keep it from cracking secret gardens and roads away. Today’s dream burrows farther down, and waits.

Portrait

Editor B via Flickr

Balloons, a high sea of indiscriminate hues, dot the boulevard, straining upward from straw-colored strings. Afraid for the birds, I walk away rubbing my hands, warming the tips of my soul, as the memory of mimosa reaches my nostrils. I hold my hands to my face to inhale more, navigating through parted fingers toward the museum’s entrance. I haven’t planned to see the canvas, but I drift inside to escape the visual cacophony outside.

Searching through galleries, unknowing, I walk into a white room and find myself alone on a wall, naked, swathed in sadness for posterity. I’d been seen.

Breathe. Now. Learn to hide.

Für Elise

TangoPango via Flickr

While playing piano in his apartment downstairs, my little girl footsteps assaulted like substantial stones striking wood.

Music, rising through floor and upholstery, warmed like saturated color when my ear pressed against the sofa. Loved even before discovering my trick, it stole something from me I didn’t want back. I reproached my feet for offering upset in return.

Afterward, my fate intertwined with books and music, I understood in ways that ached every time someone didn’t. Strange, this link to one who went away to escape children in motion.

I searched years for Beethoven, for Für Elise, without clues, humming.

Soap

Sam Smith via Wikipedia

debris detritus grit
gristle (because I’m bigger than the bug
but it scared me anyway)
bits of truth, clinging.
Why would I lie?

Why am I scared when tiny beings enter my space?
Are the ones I see ugly to their mothers?
Does sharpness rub under their exoskeletons?
every mama bug word for “you disappoint me”
pinching before cutting again into bug meat as they remember.
is that why I see ugly
and kill
because like sees like?

human words for “I don’t care”
cling unclean.
grit detritus debris
Soap doesn’t wash them away.
this is true
Why would I lie?

Pale Green, Chapter 3

Photo by newleaf01 via Wikimedia

“Evan?” she said, refilling his glass.

He nodded, eyeing her over the rim as he drank.

“I’m, Jess.”

He licked the lemonade off his upper lip. “I remember.”

Smiling, she poured more for herself.

He finished his glass, returned to the tray and roller. He turned to her before continuing. “Maybe this’s out of line, but–why the green?”

She looked at him, then the Spanish tiled backsplash. “He said to pick the color. I like green.”

“But you knew.”

“I was hoping …” she touched the cheek Mr. Ashe had kissed, her fingertips cool from the glass, “for a sign.”

Evan’s eyes had wandered down the length of her dress. He recovered, repeating her last word to her eyes. “Sign?”

She nodded. “What’s your impression of him?”

He stifled a smirk. “Weird. Like he cares– and doesn’t.”

“Yes! It’s confusing.”

“Are you …”

” ‘… sure it should be that colour?’ ”

Evan laughed.

“Sure. It’ll be my last gift to him.”

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You’ll find the other entries in Week #19 of the 100 Word Challenge at Julia’s Place here. (This week’s challenge allows 158 words because of the dialogue and the prompt.)

Pale Green, Chapter 2

Photo by Siona Karen via Flickr

Mrs. Ashe gazed at the yellow. The painter paused, curious about her small reaction.

Mr. Ashe called from another room. “Jess?”

She opened her mouth as if to answer. The painter watched her, noting how she avoided his eyes. Mr. Ashe’s footsteps approached from the next room.

He kissed her cheek. “It’s like the living room,” he said, smiling. “Same color– ‘Butter’.”

The painter watched her silent struggle, her husband’s tentative smile as if waiting for validation. Wanting to stare, the painter tried to look away but saw her pooling tears, so thick he couldn’t understand why they hadn’t spilled.

“You picked that yellow. Remember?” Ashe looked over the one finished wall. “Much better color.”

He squeezed her shoulder. “Now you’re home, I’ll run some errands.” He glanced at them before leaving.

To the painter she appeared frozen, fragile as thin ice.

“Are you sure it should be that colour?” he asked.

Warming, lighter, she said. “Why not?”

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This is my second entry into Week #19 of the 100 Word Challenge (with 50 extra words allowed because Julia told us to center them on dialogue.) It wasn’t easy once I realized I’d have to include “Are you sure it should be that colour?” into each chapter. I’ve got four of them now, but if the consensus is that this isn’t working, I won’t link the others. I hope you like it, but I can take the truth. Click the link on Julia’s name to read this week’s other entries.

Pale Green, Chapter 1

Photo by jhhymas via Flickr

“Are you sure it should be that colour?”

The young painter looked over his shoulder. “Yes, Mr. Ashe. Your Missus chose ‘Pale Willow’ at the shop — to complement the tiles.”

“She knows I can’t abide green.” Ashe surveyed the wall, grimacing. “Why would anyone put green in a kitchen?”

“I’ve seen quite a few, Sir.” He continued cutting in the line along the cabinet.

Ashe surveyed the painter. “Stop. I’ll go get something decent.”

Laying down his brush, the painter glanced at the center of the opposite wall where he and Mrs. Ashe had tested the color to be sure. He turned to Ashe. “Perhaps you could wait for the Missus — choose something together.”

” ‘Perhaps’ you back off. You’ll be paid properly.”

“Yes. I know.”

Ashe left for the store.

The young man waited outside, fingertips grazing his chin, contemplating lovely Mrs. Ashe, the way she’d looked at him the day before, reconsidering his refusal to look back.

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This week’s challenge from Julia was to use 158 words or less to include, “Are you sure it should be that colour?” into a story centered on dialogue. Click the link on her name to read this week’s other entries.