Guess I should have posted this too, so you knew what I was talking about... here is the story topic they sent that I had to work from:
The young girl pulled another pair of pants from the pile of laundry. Between the hot black iron and the fireplace, it was stifling in the small kitchen. The only relief she could hope forwas a small breeze coming from the window overlooking the distant waves. Her arm started moving methodically once again and, just as she started to fantasize about a forbidden swim, the iron stopped at a bump in the pocket…
Sunday, July 25, 2010
This weekend I participated in the Writer's Weekly 24-Hour Short Story Contest. Basically, on Saturday at noon they email you the topic and word count (in this case word count was 950 word limit-mine ended up being 948- whew!) and you have 24 hours to come up with a short story based on the story line. You can change things like gender of characters and place, etc, but it has to be obvious you used their story start. The top prize is $300 plus lots of great writer schwag, 2nd place is $250 + schwag, and 3rd is $200 + schwag. There are a bunch of schwag prizes as well (85 in all), and if I remember right, only 300 people are allowed to participate. Maybe it was 500. Anyway, here is my short story, which I wrote up North at the cottage. (Had to drive into town to connect to WiFi a couple of times to do this, but it was a good experience.) Hope you enjoy.
SOMETHING OF HIS
A ribbon of cool air brushed across the girl’s face, her chin lifting to it like an animal scenting blood. She placed her hands on either side of the fissure in the wall, and pressed her eye to the crack. She strained to see some glimpse of either sun or moon on the waves that delivered such soft relief through the split. She imagined she could taste salt on the air that billowed sweetly off the cool water she longed for. The heat at her back beckoned her to the endless task, but still she pressed her face to the crack, and dreamed of her lost world while listening carefully for the quick step of His Lord on the stone stairs.
He would come soon to collect his trousers. Patience turned from her respite to the inferno she labored in. It consumed her, the blazing, never-ending heat. Reluctantly, she bent to the fire for the heavy iron. She smoothed the trousers on the board with a raw hand and began to press, moving the heavy iron up the rough cloth.
She moved methodically, more machine than human. And truly, was she human still? After all she’d done? The ruin she’d caused herself? Was she in any part who she used to be? Or was she becoming- like Him? Made inhuman, a monster. She put a hand to her dirty hair, her blistered skin and was thankful that in this dark, sweltering place no reflective surface revealed her ruined countenance.
Patience leaned her back against the crack in the wall wishing for another breeze as she ironed His Lord’s clothing. A rancid odor rose up from the breeches as the heat touched them. She moved the iron back and forth, accustomed to the stench. After all, she’d been here such a long, long time. She listened for His Lord. She would need enough time to hide the crack in the wall that had been her touchstone to the life she’d lost. If He knew of it, He would surely close it up. Without it, Patience feared she would go mad.
She wiped the sweat from her eyes, and moved the iron up and up. At the trouser pocket, the iron made a soft thunk, and Patience ran her hand over the cloth to find that something had been left in His Lord’s pocket.
Patience sucked in her breath. There was something in the pocket! Something of His! In all her time here, all the years of heat, horror, monotony she’d never dared hope. How did the verse go? She pressed her fingers over the lump in the pocket, trying to remember the adage. Then, like a siren song, another sweet breath from the far-away ocean floated through the crack in the wall, kissing her face, and the rhyme came to her like a lullaby lost: “All ye are belong to Him. Ye give up all to pay for sin. He possesseth yer worldly finery and yer Soul infinitely. But find ye a thing belongs to His Lord is like a golden key unlocking every door, freeing ye from His unearthly Hell to return to all ye loved so well.”
Patience fumbled with the breeches, her heart hammering in her chest. Her fingers snaked into the fetid trouser pocket and closed on the precious thing that could return her to the world of sweet air, salty water. It was smooth in her fingers, and she slid it out into the devilish light of the room that imprisoned her. She took a breath and opened her trembling hand.
His Lord’s mummified finger lay in her palm, shining in the light of the room’s terrible fire. Patience sucked in a scream, as the door above her crashed. His Lord roared her name and began to ka-clump his way down the cobblestone stairs. Patience looked from the finger jiggling in her shaking hand to the blessed crack in the wall and back again. His feet continued to clack down the stairs.
“Here I come, precious!” His Lord bellowed. Patience swallowed her own bile and stuffed the rotted finger in her apron pocket. He let out a roar that nearly caused the girl’s bladder to let go. Patience tried in vain to replace the ragged piece of cloth that kept the crack in the wall hidden, but the door to her chamber crashed open before she could conceal her secret.
“Well, now,” He said as he stepped in on his cloven hooves. “What have we here?” He came forward, stroking Patience’ cheek with a dirty fingernail. Patience shrunk back against the crack, the sea breeze teasing her shoulder. “So, that’s what you were hiding? A little crack in the wall?” He paused. “Stupid girl, I knew it was there, enticing you, making you long for the world. It was just another way to torture you, sweetness. And what fun that’s been!” He laughed.
Patience began to shake, but with anger this time, not fear. How dare he take away the only thing that’d been her deliverance? She lifted her head and looked into his hideous eyes. She took the finger from her apron pocket and held it aloft for him to see.
“M’Lord.” She said. “I also hid this.”
For a moment uncertainty registered in his glowing eyes. Then he growled and made a swipe at her with his four-fingered hand. But Patience was quick.
“A golden key unlocking every door.” She said, and she popped the finger into her mouth and swallowed.
The crack in the wall burst open as the water rushed in. Patience was borne up on its swell, and floated free in the water, free under a blue, blue sky.