Is not me.
I am out. Lost in round two.
Now that it is over, I will share my two stories.
This story, SIEG, won first place in Round 1:
It had to be suspense, involve taking a photo, and have the word victory in it (sieg in German):
Ilse Weber worked on the Graflex for months, perfecting the shutter and the intricate mechanism that would launch the curare-dipped dart hidden within, breaking the cellophane covering she’d fixed in place to hide the missing glass. It would work perfectly. It had to.
Ilse had conceived the plan almost immediately upon being hired by Signal magazine. Eva Braun had seen Ilse’s photographs of Marlene Dietrich, taken before Dietrich abandoned Germany for good, and had insisted that what Signal needed was society photos. She wished Miss Weber to photograph her and “Wolfie” beautifully attired and socializing with the other Nazi elite. Ilse’s initial revulsion turned to eager acceptance when she realized this opportunity would bring her close, so very close.
Wolfie disliked the impromptu nature of society photos; he agreed only to a single photograph, with Eva, as a trial run.
And now, the day had come. Ilse stood behind the Graflex, beneath the black drape. Eva posed upon the sofa, and there was only the man himself, who needed to take his position behind Eva, his hand on her shoulder while she gazed up at him.
He finished preening his mustache, took his place. Ilse was not to speak to him. Just take the photo.
Ilse fixed him in the frame. Arm raised, she held the bulb. Just squeeze, she told herself, just squeeze. “Victory,” she whispered.
“Sieg für dur Führer!” the hiss, quiet, close to her ear. A hand closed around her wrist, twisting it sharply, expertly.
The second entry did not make it into the top 10.
It had to be horror, have a ghost and a smoke detector that was going off.
The ghost started visiting Coralee after her son, Boone, was jailed for rape and awaiting trial. His daddy, Macon, went out nightly, trying to figure out how to save Boone. Coralee sat on her porch, alone, sipping a coke-cola, til the night the ghost walked out of the cornfield, onto the porch, sat in the other rocker like she’d always been there.
The ghost was comforting; sat quietly as Coralee talked.
“He’s so handsome. A girl said something about Macon when we was dating, but her family knew better, and she just went away. This girl should too, stop bothering my dear son.”
The ghost smiled, said nothing.
One night Macon returned home early and saw Coralee on the porch with a girl he thought he’d never see again. He dragged Coralee inside and threw her down, and when she hit the past came back to her, the rumors about “Pretty girl gone missing,” and Coralee knew her porch guest finally, saw how Macon had choked her, built the porch right over top of her. Now he was gonna put Boone’s girl there-
The smoke detector wailed. Macon’s head jerked around as the ghost came through the door a newspaper in her hand with her own face on the front page, blazing with fire. Macon screamed, grabbed his gun and shot until he was sure the ghost was dead, but it was Coralee who was dead, and the smoke detector shrieked as the blazing house took Macon to hell.
The second story was inspired by a local “boy” who was convicted of rape, and his mother had told the court that her son was so handsome it was not his fault that girls kept throwing themselves at him. I think, ultimately, I wanted to tell that story of freaking male privilege more than I wanted to write a good 250 word story.
Well you win some and lose some, literally. And life… goes on. 🙂
It’s not at all easy on the ego being a writer, not at all, but, you cannot take it personally, and you can’t quit.