Excellence in Short Fiction 2013 (Short Story Competition) Final Run-Off
Here are the four stories that have been selected for the final run-off. Since you liked both short stories on Day Three the same, we decided to include both of them in the final run-off. Vote for the one you like best! The voting will close on Tuesday, May 28, at 8 p.m.
Final Fiction 1
I walked around the house.
The rooms were quiet. I smelled wood and fresh laundry and a faint whiff of perfume, barely a trace, a hint of lavender in the air. I took my time walking up the stairs. Every third step, I closed my eyes and leaned against the wood panel wall and listened. That’s how I knew he was down in the kitchen brewing tea. Again. Brewing tea was all he ever did these days. I think he wanted to take care of me, but didn’t quite know how.
It had started to rain by the time I reached the bedroom. The drops were so small they looked like fine mist from where I was standing. The battered swing in the garden pranced about in the wind. I wanted to take a closer look, but the window was on the other end of the room. I tried to move one leg forward, but it rebelled, and I was stuck, me and the pain, familiar by now, the burn spreading throughout my body like vicious sunlight. I sat on the edge of the bed. My head was throbbing and I wanted to scream, scream so loud the window would explode into a rain of its own, but I never do, so I kept silent. The pain yammered on and kept eating my body from within.
The bedroom door opened, and there he was, a teapot in his hand. A pale, clueless spirit of fire with red hair and a crooked half-smile, but I could scarcely remember him, and he never smiled any more.
He sat in my favourite brown chair in the corner, and gave me a sad look. The steam from the teapot smelled like sugar and strawberries.
I had no taste for food or drink since we returned from the hospital. I turned away and gagged. I had not felt myself for a lot of days.
“How does it feel?“ he asked.
I lifted my eyes and looked at him. I didn’t know what he saw in my gaze, but he went a little bit pale.
“It hurts,“ I said. “Inside.“
“You’re a good man,“ he told me. “I’m sorry.“ He bowed his head. He was crying, but didn’t want me to see.
“At least you are better now,“ I said bitterly.
“I do feel better,“ he agreed. But he didn’t stop crying. We had spent years together. My whole life had begun with him, and now my whole life would end with him. Things like that wouldn’t just go away.
“What will you do after I die out completely?“ I asked.
“I’ll... learn to live like a whole person, I guess.“ The tears had turned his narrow face blotchy. It blended with his hair. I wanted to smirk and say so, but forgot the quip in the next moment. My mind was going now, too; we didn’t have much time left together.
I was afraid. Of death, of pain, of the slow fade into nothingness that I couldn’t escape, of losing him, of losing myself, of losing the only life I had, and yet it hadn’t been mine in the first place. But I’d always been the brave one, so I tried not to show fear as I watched him open the plastic bottle, even though they’d taught him how to be brave on his own now, and he didn’t need me any longer.
“You’ll be lonely,” I said, and hoped my voice wouldn’t waver. “Who’ll protect you if I die? There’s never been only one of you before.”
But I could see he wasn’t listening. They’d made him much better at ignoring me in the hospital.
Cold shivers ran down my spine. „Don’t,“ I whispered.
He didn’t look me in the eyes as he ate his Thorazine, and made the darkness come for me.
Final Fiction 2
In the Saturday morning, she was sitting at a sidewalk cafe and having lunch. Going to café was unusual for her. She needed to relax for some reason. Her name is Maria. She graduated university last year and moved to the city to work. One year had passed since she came here. She was getting use to her job, living alone and the life in the city, so she started to take Yoga lesson every Saturday afternoon.
“Today’s plan: Relaxing at café and later yoga! Perfect!”
However she didn’t know that one more special thing would happen to her...
“Excuse me? Isn’t it yours?” A man said and gave a keychain to her.
“Yes, it’s mine. I don’t know when I dropped. Thank you so much.” Maria answered.
“You went Paris?”
“Yes, it was “Girls trip”. I bought it as a amulet not to come there again with same members.” She was still trying to fix Eiffel tower keychain.
“Why?? You don’t like that member? You didn’t enjoy??” His small round eyes become bigger.
“Hey, don’t be serious! Of course I like that girls, but I mean, it’s better to come to Paris with somebody special...hahaha” She laughed bashfully.
She had been acting such things superstitiously for good luck. Last night, she had just thrown all the things from her ex boy friend.
“Oh, I see…sorry I didn’t get it…haha…I believe everything I heard usually, so…I I often can’t get jokes as well…so my colleague always say I’m a boring person…So.sorry I talk too much I think, oh It seems to be crowded in this café. There is no seat, hahaha.” He said.
“You can sit here if you don’t mind.” She suggest because she was using a table for 4 people alone and she was sure he was nice person. Height, weigh and face… all of them is a little bit less than average….
“That’s really kind of you.” He smiled
…But he had a good smile
It was awkward at the beginning, but she could enjoy the conversation with him after he continuously talked to her. He is a one of stammer man but she was getting interested in him because he had exactly the same taste as her. When he talked about his favorite movie, author, food, and music she could definitely agree with him. Under the hard sunlight, yellowish green leaves came to her with breeze. She felt presentiment of romance. Spring had come to her. She clasped the Keychain he passed her. It seemed glass slippers to her on this day. Princess needed help recently because there were strange things happened to her. For example she got nuisance phone call many times at night, sometimes her mails were disappeared from mail box, only her garbage bag in the garbage area in her apartment was opened, and so on. She dreaded it so the reliable prince who can fight for her was needed.
She started to image the future with him. In her mind, she was dating in cinema, park and zoo.
“I met him suddenly. -It must be destiny!”
He was not handsome but this sweet situation made her wear the pink glasses.
Especially in spring, every girl wants to find somebody. The topic that she wants to talk first to her yoga-friends was made…
“I have to go because I have to prepare for the event tonight” He woke her up.
“Thank you for offering a seat, I enjoyed talking as well, so it’s on me” He took his wallet from the bag.
“Oh, thank you so much, so next time let me…..” She gave a gasp…
There was a one thing that she found…”----I know this wallet----“
It must not be the same wallet as his, because he had the wallet she gave his ex boy friend for his birthday and it was tailor-made.
“Oh..Ok! I have to go as well!!” She prepared to leave quickly.
“Yoga class??” He grinned.
She was sure that she didn’t tell him about it because she told him that she was going to take ballet lesson to make her image better.
Her pink glasses were broken and her face turned blue because the one thing came into her mind…
“I will call you later Maria”
There was only a broken Eiffel tower that had been felled on the table in the café.
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