Choosing a winner was a little overwhelming. They were all good but there were a few that stuck in my head, that I kept going back to, kept reading over and over. Ones that I found myself wondering what happened next. Here they are:
WINNER ... @AnnaLund2011
“In this small café at the end of the world, I finally see clearly.” How do you thank someone for taking what was in your mind and writing it so beautifully? This is pretty much spot on with what I was thinking when I saw the photograph. This sentence: “So I watch the rain as it makes its way down the glass window, running down in sweet rivulets, and think to myself that it is the only thing that makes sense today.” And this one: “I put my hand up, just to feel something real.” So wonderful. I think everyone has felt this way, for at least a moment. But you really captured it. Thank you so much-
The rain. The rain.
The rain, he said, was going to wash it all away.
In this small café at the end of the world, I finally see clearly. Through rain-stained windows, I watch, and finally see.
The people around me are not my people.
They are all your people; I am so out of sync with who I am. I am lost, and I can’t find me.
The rain was going to cleanse and rinse and cleanse and rinse and cleanse and rinse and—and—
It did not.
All it did was make everything look miserable and wet.
So I watch the rain as it makes its way down the glass window, running down in sweet rivulets, and think to myself that it is the only thing that makes sense today. It comes from above. It runs downward. It ends up in the gutter.
I put my hand up, just to feel something real.
Some days, that’s all you can handle.
HONOURABLE MENTIONS, IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER:
The story is familiar but the way you wrote it is not. It’s wonderful, so sad and yet I’m left with a feeling of hope. I know this woman, and I’m crying with her, and mad at him- but please please let him explain! “You stand there, shivering and soaked to the bone.” Maybe it will be all right. There’s always hope. (And then I realize that the story could be from either point of view- maybe it’s the husband sitting in the cabin, the wife at the door. But I don’t think so.) Thank you-
I pull the old woolen blanket tighter around my shoulders, seeking any sort of warmth. The power’s been out for hours now and the only source of light and heat comes from the small fireplace in the corner.
The wind continues to roar outside, rain pounding against the window, as I endure what should have been a romantic weekend away together. We should be celebrating our one year anniversary. We’ve survived so much together and things were finally getting on track for us.
We were happy...or so I thought.
We had a future together...or so I thought.
Sipping my wine, the tears fall and the memories overwhelm me. You had to work late and I wanted to surprise you.
I take another sip, letting the warmth flow through me. Its calming fog is not fast enough.
A pounding on the cabin door startles me.
You stand there, shivering and soaked to the bone.
“Please let me explain.”
You’ve painted such a heartwrenching picture here. I can see the scene so vividly. Girl waiting, Mom trying to make her feel better, distract her, by doing mom-things. Trying to fill the silence but realizing she can’t help. The fact that you’ve made the girl blind is an interesting detail. And this paragraph is sort of perfect: “The beverage cooled, unsipped, unremembered. Rain clouds slid away to reveal a ribbon of sunlight that touched the grass outside the window. An engine roared before cutting away to silence and her daughter gasped.” Thank you-
It broke her heart to see her daughter thus. To see the vibrant girl sit, poised by the window, waiting. Sightless eyes unfocused, hand barely caressing the cool pane of glass.
“Sweetheart? I made some hot cocoa, with the Hershey’s, like you like it.”
No answer. Not even a puff of breath to warm the glass.
Unable to relax, the mother held her own cocoa, the heated cup warming her palms. She stood in shadow, her heart twisting in her chest.
The beverage cooled, unsipped, unremembered. Rain clouds slid away to reveal a ribbon of sunlight that touched the grass outside the window. An engine roared before cutting away to silence and her daughter gasped.
It was him.
As a mother, she didn’t know whether to hug the guy or kick him in the balls for making her daughter cry.
“Mom?” Her daughter stood slowly, limbs stiff with a day’s worth of stillness. “Is it...?”
The girl wobbled to her, hands out in front of her.
Cupping the girl’s face, the mother kissed her on the forehead. “I’ll be right here.”
With confidence bred of years of sightless motion, the girl stepped to the front door.
These words, oh my, these words. They hit me like an unexpected punch in the face. I read them through three times without blinking. I found myself wanting to crawl into your brain and follow your thought process from the moment you saw the photo to when you typed your last word. I kept going back to “it takes her seven tries to get the photograph right.” and “what they say is true.” Your words are powerful. Thank you-
* there are no windows in prison.
* sometimes the guards fuck the inmates.
* with great power comes great responsibility.
* or, conversely, irresponsibility.
* no outside electronic devices are permitted.
* but neither is guard-inmate sex.
* a camera can be hidden nearly anywhere these days and smuggled in.
* strip searches don't work when the subject is forced to perform fellatio.
* the showers steam up the stainless steel mirrors.
* it takes her seven tries to get the photograph right.
* it is difficult to take a picture of a steamed-up mirror.
* they say a photograph can free the subject's soul, the same way a mirror can trap it.
* what they say is true.
* it will be sad to say goodbye to my friend, but I am ready to go.
* fifty eight years is too long to be trapped in a mirror.
- Barbara Graham, an innocent woman, executed at San Quentin State Prison in 1955, set free in 2013
This was such an interesting and clever take on the prompt- put the actual photograph into the story. I love how you set the scene, and described the picture: “Still, the photograph makes her yearn, as if it's her in the picture, watching the rain, searching for connection.” But it was this line: “His fingers skim across skin bared where her dress dips, making her shiver and wish she was brave.” that made me shiver too. Thank you-
She stares at the photograph, sipping her chilled complimentary wine. She's viewed all of the photography showing in the gallery tonight, but only this one drew her back.
The voice has a warm male timbre, easily recognizable with its Scottish burr.
Connor Malcolm. Famed photographer. Handsome, powerful, everything she's ever wanted and more. It's his work she can't drag her eyes from.
"I don't know," she answers truthfully.
He laughs softly. "You've been staring at it for near twenty minutes."
She starts at this. "Really?"
"What do you see that draws you so?"
"It's haunting. She's been hurt, and she's sad, alone." The opinion is out before she can censure herself. She doesn't want to insult him, finding melancholy where none may exist. Still, the photograph makes her yearn, as if it's her in the picture, watching the rain, searching for connection.
Connor moves closer.
"She's only looking in the wrong direction," he replies quietly, voice a caress. "She doesn't see what's right behind her."
His fingers skim across skin bared where her dress dips, making her shiver and wish she was brave.
"It's never that simple."
"It is, lass. All you have to do is turn around.”
Your words made me smile. You’ve managed to create strong characters and a story quickly, with short sentences and few words. I admire that so much. This woman? Pretty sure she’s a friend of mine. The Marine? Yeah, I’ve met him too. The matter-of-fact comments make it so real: “They had yet to land, after all.” and “Full of nerve, this one.” (I want to know what happens next) Thank you-
At the airport, the Marine carried her bags to the gate.
"You're a wild one, aren't you," he had said, but that was not what turned her head. It was the ownership. The way he presumed to be more than a stranger she had only just met during a layover. He had boasted of surprising his mother with a visit.
There was rain on the tarmac. She looked past it. Then the pilot announced it was time to turn off all electronic devices, the lifeline to her husband who hadn't called. No surprise.
But the bag carrier, he sat ten rows in front of her. She counted. She shouldn't have, but she did.
Anna and the Marine, she thought for a name of this story she tinkered with during the flight. The details had yet to be sorted. They had yet to land, after all.
When they arrived three states over, her heart hammered. She should stroll past him. Flash a brief smile. Good-bye.
But he had waited for her.
"How long is your layover?" Full of nerve, this one.
"Four hours," she said, walking. She caught his smile anyway.
Thank you to @moonlit__girl for judging and to everyone who participated.
See you all next week.