As promised, below are a few of the entries I received in the “First and Last” contest. If you haven’t yet read the winning entries, click here.
Also, this might be a good time to read one of my older, educational posts. Like this one on subjectivity, perhaps. Okay, you caught me. I’m trying to distract you from the fact that I’m not writing original posts this week. Guilty as charged. Except… the paragraph you’re reading now is All New Material. Plus, you haven’t seen the short stories anywhere else. So I think I’m off the hook. And anyway, I have to write a short story because I promised I would. (Maybe I’ll post that on Friday. Maybe.)
Righty, right then. On to the first batch of contest entries.
Here’s a contest entry from Andrea Crain:
The sun didn’t rise on Thursday. Why? Well, Kyla is a very beautiful girl, and therefore Kris was always trying to impress her. I was eavesdropping Wednesday night. “I’ll bring you the moon and stars and forge them into a necklace for your beautiful throat! I’ll pull the sun from the sky and bottle the sunshine so you’ll never endure a gloomy day again!”
Big words. Of course, Kyla scoffed. But Kris had a few tricks up his sleeve. He pulled out a golden bottle and a silver hammer, and as Kyla watched with a little smirk on her face, he reached up and tapped down the moon with the hammer and started smithing. He set in a few stars as diamonds. It was a sight!
The necklace was gorgeous. But it was so dense that nothing could escape its gravity, not even the sunlight, not even Kyla. So the sun didn’t rise on Thursday. Kris sat on a distant planet, crying, the bottle at his feet. The bottle was empty.
Jana Nash entered this story:
Somewhere between roof and the pavement, Sam remembered where he’d left his wallet. He stopped and peered down the darkened alley, listening carefully. Then he turned, clambering back up the stairs, cringing at the metallic resonance of his steps.
Upon reaching the roof, he knelt down, breathlessly searching through the dark. There it was, perched precariously near the ledge. He grabbed it and ran back to the stairs, hastily shoving the wallet into the back pocket of his faded blue jeans.
Sam recklessly descended the steps, three at a time, but when his feet hit the ground, he didn’t run. Instead, he crept along the brick wall to the edge of the building. Hiding in the shadows, he peered around the corner, afraid that his pounding heart might give him away.
The street was deserted except for a small crowd forming about twenty feet away. He spotted something on the sidewalk between the crowd and himself. Making certain that nobody was looking, he darted out to get it and returned to the shadows before anyone could notice.
The sound of sirens blasted in the distance. He bolted through the alley, past the fire escape, pausing at the end to check for witnesses. He saw only a few people who seemed to be doing some late night window shopping. He nonchalantly stepped into the light, walking the short distance to his tan sedan. He breathed a sigh of relief after closing the door and starting the engine, thus blocking out the growing wail of the sirens.
Pulling out of the parking space, Sam wondered which way to go. He waited at a red light, watching as two police cars sped by with their blue lights flashing. He stole a glance at the broken camera in the passenger seat. He may not have gotten what he’d come for, but at least he’d escaped with his life. Now, if only he could get out of town.
The light turned green and Sam decided to go straight, heading toward the interstate. After pulling safely into the fast lane, he set the cruise control. Except for a few truckers and night owls, the road was his. Searching for comfort, he reached into the glove compartment and groaned. The bottle was empty.
She was pretty sure it was her fault.
It began with that weird chemistry set she found at the Fantasy Convention. Dora hadn’t planned to go. She thought fantasy fans were stupid, but cute Josh was one and he’d talked her into going. Soon bored, she’d left him happily browsing among the comic books. Then she noticed a booth in a dark corner with a sign that read, “Demon Science.” She didn’t believe in demons but she liked science, so she went over for a closer look.
Among the usual cheesy amulets and spell books was a black metal box with red lettering that said, “ChemMystery: When Stink Bombs Aren’t Enough.” Because chemistry was Dora’s favorite subject, and because she agreed that stink bombs often weren’t enough, she asked the robed and hooded character behind the counter if she could look inside the box. In a rasping voice, he/she replied, “You don’t look inside it. It looks inside you to see if you are the One.”
Screw this fantasy nerd bullshit. “You expect me to buy it without seeing what’s inside?
“If you are the One, you won’t need to buy it. The box is yours.”
“Okay, Elf Wizard or whatever the hell you’re supposed to be, can I at least take a closer look at it?”
He/she handed Dora the box. It vibrated in her hands and grew very hot. The world blurred and then disappeared. She dreamed of another life, another box.
She awoke in her room. Outside, nothing moved, not the birds frozen in mid-flight, not the traffic on the street. Next to her was the box. She must have opened it, because a seething, red-tinged cloud of blackness was pouring out, howling through her window and into the still night.
When it was gone, Dora looked in her box and saw a clear container, a stopper, and a singed piece of parchment. She examined each in turn. The stopper smelled of sulfur and death. The parchment bore sanguine script that read, “Thanks. Good to see you again.”
The bottle was empty.
PJ entered two stories. Here’s the first:
It was the best of times… no, really, the very best of times. But that was last week. Now, as Samantha looked in the full-length mirror, holding the navy blue shirt-waist dress against her slim body, all she could see were the gray shadows under her eyes and her sagging shoulders. Her chestnut hair was slicked back into a neat bun but several unruly locks poked out around her ears. The gray sweat suit she wore was rumpled – she wasn’t sure how many days she had worn it.
“This navy blue one is too somber – I look like I’m going to a funeral,” she thought. She closed her eyes and breathed deeply. She felt like she was preparing for a funeral, actually – the funeral for her old, carefree life. Opening her eyes, she put the navy blue dress down on the bed and shuffled to the closet. She emerged with a sexy ruby-red dress – the one she had worn to her husband’s inauguration last month. Everybody had said they looked like John and Jacquelyn Kennedy.
Now, holding the red dress up against her, she felt the full weight of what had happened and her knees started to buckle. She sat on the floor and struggled to hold back the sobs. Remembering how happy they were that day made her depression – it had set in since her husband’s arrest one week ago – that much deeper. Harold, his lawyer, had of course taken care of arranging bail, but those few hours after she found out about the arrest were like a horror film on continuous play in her mind. The tight knot in her stomach was beginning to convince her that she would never feel normal again.
Of course he had denied everything. He came home from the courthouse and launched into explanations about how the FBI had made a mistake – he had been framed. She wanted to believe him but wasn’t sure whether she could. Spending the week barricaded in her house with protesters outside around the clock was not making his story any more believable.
So today’s press conference announcing his resignation would mark the official end of their charmed lives. After today, all attention would be on the trial. She just wasn’t sure she would have the strength for any of it.
“Samantha! We need to leave in twenty minutes!” he shouted to her from downstairs.
“OK – I’ll be down soon,” she replied as she got up from the floor. Samantha smoothed on her makeup, slipped into the dress, stepped into her pumps and made her way carefully down the stairs. She chose the blue one after all.
See what I mean? Good stuff. More great writing tomorrow.