Well friends the time has come. We have a group of FANTASTIC essay’s for your viewing pleasure. A little about the competition first and then we invite you to vote. Now, we do have a panel of judges that will be voting, but your voice helps the final decision. One winner will receive a pull page spotlight of their work, along with a $10 Amazon Gift Card.
Here are the writing rules:
Take a 700 word story and cut it down to 300 words (no more, no less). It’s an exercise in editing and you help decide who deserves the grand prize.
*Some of the entries provided the first (700wrd) draft and the 300. This should not impact the decision and they are listed in no particular order[divider top="0"]
‘As The Crone Flies’
by Laurel Heger
It was 3:00 in the afternoon, and like clockwork, Old Lady Thorn approached the
schoolyard at exactly the same time that the bell rang for the children to go home.
Every day for as far back as anyone could remember, rain, snow, or shine, the old woman
would walk by looking straight ahead. And not a day would go by that some unkind
child would taunt and sputter some form of insult to her.
Something similar to,
“Hey! Old Lady Thorn, do you have any corn? Ha ha ha!”
“Look! Here comes The Old Crone!”
You would think that the old woman would have enough sense to find a
another street to get home. Nevertheless, she would tread the same well
beaten path day in and day out just as she always had. Why would this day be any
different? Why indeed.
But different it surly was, for the sun and rain poured down together as the children
rushed out of the school building to go home. All that is, except Jayne.
Jayne walked from the deserted halls of the school into the pouring rain.
There was no one to pick her up after school to give her a ride.
No friend to enjoy skipping and splashing in rain
puddles with. The closest she got to puddles was being pushed into one on the playground.
No close friend she could carry on a tête-à-tête with.
So, in the midst of all the rain, no one even notice the tears that spilled from
Jayne’s eyes. In fact, one would have to be a mind reader to know there was anything
wrog at all. And to top it all off, Jayne was now directly behind Old Lady Thorn.
More than anything, this just had to be the worst day of Jayne’s life.[divider top="0"]
Beyond the Veil
by Christy Sloat
“Come one come all! Come see the sights, come see who’s standing behind the veil…”
The shops front window ad struck me in a way that made me want to see the veil . The veil between the living and the dead. I pushed opened the door hearing the clever ding of a bell. No one came, not yet. I looked around the store letting my curiosity fly. Several boxes holding tarot cards, Ouija boards, and other non-sense items sat on all the shelves. This was a store for tricks, not a true place to see beyond the veil as it promised.
I found an old stack of photographs sitting in a pile at the desk by the register. Without even thinking I picked them up and went through them. No one was around to see me, or tell me whether I could or not. So I rifled through the black and whites. At first they were normal, nothing odd. Then one stood out among the rest, a young girl lifted off a table. No strings, no body to hold her up. She was floating.
“May I help you?” I dropped the photos on the ground at the sound of the voice. A woman about the age of my mother came into the room. Guilty I bent down and picked up the photos and stacked them neatly where they originally were.
“I’m here to see … the veil,” I told her as I pointed to the front window.
“Ah, yes of course,” she said as she led me to a back room. We reached the room where there sat a table covered with a thick black cloth. Something about it seemed familiar.
We walked in further and she asked me to sit. I did slowly while watching what she was doing. She pulled out candles and set them up. They seemed to light on their own! The room was now caught up in a soft glow.
“Here we will see the veil, only if you must see. Only if you believe,” she said with her back turned towards me. She faced me again and this time held a camera. The camera was old and I only recognized it from history books.
I shivered as she came closer. “Stand and lie on the table, nothing bad will happen.” I did as she said and as I did my bones shook. I was terrified for reasons unknown to me. My body lay still on the table and she spoke words I didn’t understand, to people who weren’t in the room.
“Close your eyes now,” she instructed. I did. I heard a click and a pop and opened them suddenly. This time I was on my feet, without knowing how I got there.
I looked around the room and the woman was gone. I was alone in the room now with no one to tell me what happened. The woman was not around to instruct me on what to do now. Confusing swept over me. I closed my eyes and heard a sound. I listened closer. Voices. There were people talking that I couldn’t see.
Then before I could figure it out, a light turned on and all the candles blew out. The woman now stood in front of me holding on thing in her hand, a photograph.
I hesitantly walked forward and took it out of her hands. She smiled and I was on my way out the door through the store and back on the street before I could say goodbye.
The sunlight hit my eyes and made them burn. I shielded the sun and looked down upon the picture. It was of me, floating above the very table where she made me lay. I was floating and just before the photo dried, I saw what I came to see, the hands of the dead lifting me off of the table. The veil between the living and the dead was shown to me in a photograph. A photograph that I knew would end up in a pile on her desk as I threw it on the ground and ran as far away from the shop as I could.[divider top="0"]
by Karen Pokras Toz
The air is stale as I wait my turn. We have ten minutes to learn the routine before we are brought before Sergei. I still do not know why I am here.
“I am Madame Irena,” says a harsh looking woman. “Let us begin.” I watch her dance, mesmerized by her performance.
She turns to us once she is finished. “Go!” she orders.
The music begins. I lift my arms in an arch as my body’s weight releases from my fingertips. I am light as air and able to twirl effortlessly with an ease I’ve never felt before. Twirling, gliding, leaping …
“Ouch!” My body slams to the floor.
I struggle to sit up, tears filling my eyes.
“You! You want to be a dancer?”
“Yes, ma’am,” I whisper.
“Get up then. Dancers do not cry.”
I try to get my stride back, but pain shoots up my thigh.
Madame Irena walks closely behind me, putting her hand gently on my shoulder. “Work through it – you have talent.”
When our time is up, we are brought to perform before Sergei. Thankfully, I suffer no further falls.
After, I find my mother. “How did it go?” she asks in a nervous whisper.
“Fine. Mama, what is this all about?”
“You are auditioning for the Markovka Ballet Academy.”
“Markovka? But that’s in St. Petersburg – over six hours away.”
“Yes,” my mother agrees.
“Mama, please – I don’t want to go there.”
“This will be good for you, Eve. This is every young girl’s dream.”
“Eve Gorshkov,” a woman announces with authority.
My mother nods at me and gently pushes me toward the other nine dancers already lined up.
“Congratulations,” the woman says without smiling. “You are the new faces of the Markovka Ballet Academy. You will make your country proud.”[divider top="0"]
By Emily Fogle
Dust settles, stinging my eyes. They advance quickly. Men lay around me, dead or dying.
Pride cements me momentarily, but commonsense makes me run. She’s waiting for me. If I die, so will she.
Hiding behind dilapidated buildings, I make it through the war-torn city. Under half rotten crates, I search for our hideout entrance.
Sewage assaults my nose: a comfort compared to the battlefield.
Weary comrades congratulate my homecoming. But nothing settles my frantic heart until I see her ice blue eyes. When her arms are around me, I finally breathe. I touch her skin, lingering on the scar above her eye. Then chaos echoes down the tunnels.
“They’re here!” she screams.
“Not without you!”
I contemplate arguing, but the desperate plea in her eyes sways me.
We run until the screams fade. When we stop, she speaks of escape. I argue, throwing out words like “loyalty”, “duty”, “honor”.
“I would rather die than face this world one more day.” Her frantic words instantly change my mind.
“There’s one boat left. Tonight, we’ll sneak away.”
A kiss seals our plan.
In blackness, we leave. Within hours, the ocean looms. Dead fish and oily water leave a film on the sand. A well hidden grotto houses a small boat. Only a few feet sit between us and freedom, but I fall to my knees. A rifle cracks against my skull. Unconscious, she falls beside me.
Hands clutch my throat, draining my life. But my concealed blade sinks into flesh. Blood stains my fingers.
With diminished strength, I carry her to safety.
“Did we make it?” Blue eyes flutter.
I trace her scar. “We have the rest of our lives to be safe.”
We pick up speed. Water claps, taking us to an unknown haven I pray we find.[divider top="0"]
By HJ Daly
Darkness, that’s what awaited her as she forced her eyes open. Slowly adjusting to the minimal light that permeated the tiny gaps in the metal grate above her, she tried to get her mind to piece together what had happened. Her mind however didn’t want to play, the lump protruding from the back of her skull becoming a distraction. Shivering in the near darkness, she noticed that her clothes were soaked and an icy chill crawled through to her bones. The floor was a couple of inches deep in muddy water. As she reached out, she hit a cold brick wall and she choked back a cry, she was in some kind of abandoned well in the middle of nowhere, for all she knew.
How long had she been here, was it hours, days? What was going to happen to her, were they going to leave her to starve or more like die from hypothermia? Reaching down into the freezing muddy water, she let her hands glide over the bottom; half hoping that she didn’t find anything. Something caught in her fingers, yanking the object free, she sighed in relief when she pulled a twig into the light.
Her breathing sped as she thought about what they could do; maybe freezing to death would be a less painful option. Even though she knew there was air coming through the grate, she still couldn’t help gasping. In a blind panic she clawed at the walls, hoped that by some miracle she would now find the strength to climb out of here. With her hands numb from the cold, she screamed out in anguish. That’s when she heard something above her. There was a jingle of keys and then moonlight streamed down around her. Squashing her back to the wall, she waited.