The Finalists – Part Two

Yesterday I introduced five of the top 10 entries in my writing contest. Today, five more. If yours isn’t here, take heart, you’re still in the top 35. And I will have another contest, too. Lots of them if people keep reading my blog. I already have the prize picked out for the next one. Well, half of the prize, anyway. If you’ve been to the Brookfield Zoo in Illinois, you’ll be familiar with it. Here’s a hint: Mold-a-rama. Google it and be entranced by injection molding technology for the zoo-going masses.

And now, on to the rest of the top 10.

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The last pillars of light were visible above the horizon. Yosef watched the seconds count down on the luminescent, digital face of his diving watch, the numbers at the far right speeding so fast he could barely make sense of them.

“This is the day, I can feel it,” he said to his son, Walter.

Walter scrunched his face but began the trudge across the packed sand. Their ritual seemed ancient when combined with the briny smell of the sea and the sound of waves meeting shore. When his feet reached the water, he began to stomp, sending arcs of water into the air. He stopped when he was submerged to just below his collar bone; he could hear the water slosh as Yosef began to tread water beside him. They faced out into the ocean. Two stars sparkled above them.

Yosef glanced at his watch one more time. “Now,” he shouted. Walter watched his father’s head go under and looked up, a third star appearing in the night.

With a sense of urgency weighing on him, Walter followed his father’s lead, even though he doubted he would find a miracle in the warm depths below.


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I had been walking most of the day, anxious to revisit the place where it happened, ready to be close to her again. The unforgiving sun had finally given way to a cool evening breeze, its amber light slowly reclining beneath the forest’s tree line. I could have walked along the edge of the highway and saved myself some time, but I didn’t much care for the way the people in the cars stared at me. My tattered blue jeans and home spun shirt marked me as an outcast before they even knew my name. No sir, the back roads were where I belonged, here amongst all that was still right in the world. Papa had said the woods was where a man found himself when he became lost. He was gone now, struck down by the cancer, his face a road map of pain and regret. Damn mining company paid for his funeral and left me his gold watch.  I never wore it or had a need to. The sun told you the time in the day and at night, why, all you had to do was listen to the crickets. The heavy foliage and trees were becoming less dense as I walked. It wouldn’t be long before I got to her grave. I felt around for my pocket knife and the bottle of blood they had given me.


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“Honey, there’s someone at the door. Can you get it?”

It was probably the man from Sotheby’s, here to pick up my contribution to the auction. I’d only worn the watch once. I was 8 at the time and this was back in ’33. My grandfather gave me the watch for my birthday. I hardly slept that night, imagining what it would be like the next day at school, with everyone wanting to see it. A wristwatch was a great luxury in those days, especially for a boy. Only it didn’t turn out that way. Stevie Stover, the class bully, made fun of my silly Mickey Mouse watch, and I never wore it again. Tomorrow it would be sold for charity. What cost $3.25 all those years ago will probably fetch thousands now, especially since mine was in mint condition and one of the first ever made. I briefly wondered what I’d say to Stevie if I were to run into him at the store or the bank. Maybe I’d thank him for preventing me from “ruining” the collectible. More likely I’d punch him in the face for the shame I’d endured.

“I got it, dear.”


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Aggravated, he sighed.  Today of all days she chose to miss the bus.

He shifted from one foot to the other, checking his watch.

She appeared in the kitchen, raising her eyes briefly. If he hadn’t chosen that moment to check his watch again, he might’ve seen the haunted expression on her face, the dark shadows under her eyes.

“I don’t have all day, let’s GO.”

Muttering to himself, he headed towards the car. She slid in the passenger seat wordlessly, fidgeting with her book bag. He didn’t notice it had been emptied of all her books.

They drove in silence. Arriving at the school’s entrance, he waited for her to get out, fingers drumming on the steering wheel.

She hesitantly whispered,


He sighed, glancing at his watch. “You’ve made me late enough.”

Her shoulders slumped as she got out. Pulling away, he glanced in his rearview mirror. She was standing where he’d left her, watching him drive away.

Finally seeing her expression, a warning signal sounded deep in his heart. Something wasn’t right.

But glancing at his watch, he continued to speed away.


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I guess my wristwatch kept good time, but I never used it for that. Did you know that on a hot, sunny day a Timex and a carefully calculated trajectory from the sun can cause ants to spontaneously combust? Okay, maybe not combust, but I’m betting many of them have had to make a trip to their dermatologist to remedy the searing effects of global baking.

Have you ever tried to blind birds in flight with a twelve-jillion-lumen glare off a freshly buffed crystal? Good times.

Or, right when my wife falls asleep, poolside, on the chaise I flash her lids and put the kabosh on her REM.

Once I snapped the old Timex around the neck of our schnauzer, set the alarm for one minute, booted him out the door and said, “You’ve got exactly sixty seconds to pick a spot and shit. One second more—no dinner and you’re sleeping outside tonight.”

That was the last I’ve seen of that watch…and Schnubbles.


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Tune in tomorrow for the announcement of the winner. Which one would you choose? And don’t forget – on Thursday I’ll highlight some of the good stuff from the rest of the entries. And then next week, along with a few regular posts, I’ll show you how I would edit some of the top 10 entries to make them even sharper. Bye for now.

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