Award for Excellence for Short Fiction (Short Story Competition)

05/05/2012 19:42

This summer semester’s buAN-40 Creative Writing class has spent the majority of its time reading great short stories and writing a few good ones as well. To highlight the work of her students, Miss Steyne would like you, the readers of Perspectives and the students of KAA, to help her decide which author has written the best short story – and is, thereby, deserving of a €20 Award for Excellence for Short Fiction.

 

Beginning today, we’ll be posting 2 short stories a day for the next few days. Each day, readers will decide which of each pair is best and come Friday 11, we’ll have the final run-off between those 4 stories that have received the most votes.

 

Some of the stories are sad, some are funny, some long, some short; all took time and effort. We hope you enjoy them!

 

 

Fiction 1

The Power of Words

My name is Elisabeth but my mom calls me Lizzy. I asked her why she gave me the name Elisabeth since there wasn’t a day she called me that. But she just smiled and said that I will always be her little Lizzy. It wasn’t the kind of excuse I expected but it was enough for my mom.  Her name is Angela and everyone calls her Angela but me. I call her Mom or Mommy. I am eleven years old and Mom thinks that sometimes I am an adult living in the body of the eleven year old girl, but only sometimes.

 

She was young when I was born so she looks like a girl rather than a woman. She is very pretty with long dark hair, green eyes and pink lips. She is tall and really thin. I hope I look like her when I grow up which is likely as many people tell us that we are two peas in a pod. First I didn’t know what such expression means but Mom explained it means that we are like one person. I believe it is true. My hair is the same colour as hers but not so long and my eyes are green as well. We are both pale mainly because there’s not a lot of sunshine where we live. Our home is a tiny white house with a large backyard where we have a wooden swing and Mom’s flowerbeds. We live in a quiet clean neighbourhood in the suburbs.

 

Our family is very special because it consists of only two members. There is not anybody else except my Aunt Natalie but she is just a family friend. Once I asked Mom why there is no daddy in our family and she answered, “We don’t need a daddy, Honey. Daddies only cause troubles and we are happy without them.” She also said that daddies are often strict or even severe and that they don’t understand girls like us. This happened long time ago but I remember it and I was satisfied with her response so I was no longer sad when I saw my schoolmates with their daddies. “They don’t know how lucky I am without a useless man in my life,” I thought.

 

There is no place for anyone in our kingdom of two girls and the reason is highly practical – everything is in pairs. We have two wardrobes, two beds with two blankets, two chairs in the dining room, and two sets of cutlery. In my room there are two large teddy bears and two smaller ones, two blond-haired dolls, two black-haired dolls and two with purple hair. We have only two pairs of slippers and two bathrobes. And most important is the pair of glass elephants in the kitchen – the mother elephant and the baby elephant. Mom said that mother is the head of an elephant family and that is why she bought these glass figurines when I was born. They are exactly like us. They have a particular place on the shelf so they can be spotted very easily. Sometimes she allows me to play with them.

 

The last couple of weeks Mommy was busier than usual. She works as a nurse in a nearby hospital and tries to be around but it’s not always possible. “There are more and more sick people and I must stay in hospital to take care of them,” she said. “You are a big girl now, my love, you will manage to be without me for some time alright?” She was coming back from work late at night. But I was no longer a child so I understood that she had to work very hard. It continued and her ‘some time’ became ‘a long time’. I spent some afternoons at my classmate Lucy’s house, some with Aunt Natalie. I was often alone for a couple of hours but it wasn’t so bad. I played with our pair of elephants.

 

Once I heard Lucy’s mom talking something about Angela’s new friend and that she’s happy for her. I didn’t understand. Then one evening I couldn’t sleep so I heard Mom when she returned home but there was not only her voice. I heard some man talking to her. I thought it was a taxi driver but now I know I was mistaken. Yesterday she came home with a broad-shouldered man who was even taller than her. She introduced him as her colleague. I didn’t like him at all. He has a really large nose and black eyes. He seems too dark next to my pretty, pale mom. His name is Brian and he reminds me of a wicked sorcerer from the movies.

 

But Mom seems to like him and he visits us every weekend and sometimes even during the week. I don’t see why there’s suddenly a man in our house. We are happier when there’s just two of us. He always brings me a pack of gummy worms but I don’t eat them even though I love those things – I don’t need anything from him. What surprises me the most is Mom’s happiness. She is smiling and laughing all the time. I think I don’t recognize her. She smiled before but not like this.  Three months have passed and she can’t see my disapproval. There is no place for three people in our house because everything we have is in pairs and I do not like living with some man who may become strict. Perhaps he will start to yell at me or even at Mom.

 

I’m not ready for this. Maybe she doesn’t care if he will yell at her; maybe she wants to replace me. I don’t understand. Was everything she told me a lie? Doesn’t she love me anymore? We were a great team and now there’s some stranger in between us. But I’m no longer a child and I’ll manage to be without her just like she said. I took what I thought was necessary. I wonder when she’ll notice that there’s only one elephant left.

Fiction 2

A Small Lesson

I feel a ray of sun tickle on my nose. I open my eyes. It’s morning. There are a lot of Matchbox cars, Legos and other toys all around my room. They lie there but I don’t feel like playing with them. They’re boring. And I am sick. Mommy says I have to stay in bed. I don’t wanna stay in bed. I feel better today. I wanna go to school and play. I tell my mom that I feel better. She doesn’t believe me. She tells me that my doctor said I must stay at home for the whole week.

Mommy is playing with me. Suddenly she takes me to the living room and turns my favourite program on. She tells me to sit and watch it and that she goes to the kitchen to cook. I hope she will cook my favourite meal. I know this story by heart. I don’t wanna watch it again. I want to play with kids. I don’t wanna sit there alone. I look around me to find some toy. On a shelf there are small glass statuettes. On another there are beautiful small pink cups. But the most interesting thing is on the table right in front of me. It is Mommy’s phone.  I know that I can’t play with any of them. Mommy said I couldn’t because when I play with them I always break them. But Mommy said I can’t play with them. I hear my mom in the kitchen.  I quickly take the phone and I hide behind the sofa. Buttons! I love buttons! The cell phone is peeping and beeping. Ok, what’s next? I have to find the television controls. Mommy said I can’t play with them. But they are so amusing! I find them next to the television. One is for the television and the second for the DVD player. One is a fighter plane and the other is a spacecraft. I am flying with them all around the room. I am jumping so high! Suddenly I hear a cracking sound. I look under my foot. I see my mom’s phone. I broke it. I know that I am in a trouble. I put it back on the table. I run to my playroom as quickly as I can. I am afraid. I know that Mommy will be very angry. I know that she will yell. My mom always tells me that I can’t touch those things. I put all my toys up. I hope that my mom will see it. I am so sorry.

 I am good for the rest of the day. I even forget my little accident.  I play with cars in my room.

“Oh my God!” It’s Mommy and I remember what I did.

She comes to my room. Her face is red. She slaps my bottom. It hurts and I cry. She screams at me. She tells me that Daddy will surely punish me. I hide under my duvet. I am very sad. She did not even notice that I tidied my room. 

 I hear my Daddy. I don’t go downstairs. All the time I am hiding in my bed and crying. I am afraid that Mommy will tell him about the phone and he will come with a belt.  I hate that belt. I slowly calm down. I think about today. It is all was my mom’s mistake. If she’d let me go to school I would not have broken the phone. She did wrong and my dad will surely believe me. I gather courage and go to the kitchen. My dad is eating dinner. I tell him everything. I add that it was not my mistake. It was Mommy’s. He is silent. Then he looks at my mom, shakes his head and continues with his dinner. I can’t believe my eyes. He betrayed me. I start to cry again and run back to my room. They are bad. They don’t love me. Nobody loves me. My father doesn’t believe me. I am alone.

I feel sleepy. Nobody comes to help me get ready for bed. Where are my Mommy and Daddy? They really do not love me anymore. But I don’t need them. I will show them that I don’t need them. I brush my teeth all by myself. I put on my pyjamas and get into bed. I leave the light on. I hope that they will come and put it out. Nobody comes. I am alone. I am falling asleep. After a while my dad puts the light out and closes the door. He says nothing. I start to cry.  It was not nice when I lied about my mother. I am a very bad boy. I deserve to be alone.

Suddenly the door opens. My mom and dad come to me. I look at them with fear.  They smile. They tell me that they hope that I have learnt a lesson. I say I’m sorry and tell them that from now on I will play only with the toys that are in my playroom. I will never play with things that aren’t mine. I will be good boy. My mom tells me that she is very proud of me because I tidied up my toys and got ready for bed all by myself. They kiss me good night. Then they say that they love me. My father leaves the door slightly open. I am not afraid of being alone when the door is open. I am very glad. I am the luckiest boy in the whole world because my parents love me.

 

Poll

Which story do you like better?

Fiction 1 (31)
51%

Fiction 2 (30)
49%

Total votes: 61

Comments

Date: 05/05/2012

By: LM

Subject: what kind of lesson it is

I agree with Olivier and I would like to try to put the lesson into words. I think the story clearly displays what power words or thoughts uttered aloud have on people and especially on children. The lesson: be careful what you tell children, don`t underestimate them; they do remember many things we tell them even though we think they don`t and so we tell them something we should not and it is too late to take it back. To make it a happy-end the mother should perhaps explain the change of her attitude towards men after falling in love.

PS: I like the topic as well as the realization.

Date: 05/05/2012

By: Olivier

Subject: Power of Words

I found the first story disturbing. And that's why I really, really liked it. It teaches a lesson more important than one would initially think. And even though it's hard to decipher what exactly that lesson is (not because it wouldn't be clear, but because it's so hard to put into words), there's this bitter feeling left after reading it, which everyone recognizes. And this feeling was instilled in my head very, very carefully by every aspect of the story. The author had done a great job.

PS: the title is very well-chosen as well :)

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