November Fiction

Welcome to the November 2012 Fiction Contest…

$50 Cash Prize (minimum) for November Fiction 2012“Best First Chapter”

SoWrite’s November contest features a minimum $50 cash prize for First Place. 

This page is for contest entries. During the competition, this page was password-protected. With the contest complete, it’s now open to everyone.

How to enter the November Fiction Contest:

Have you read the General Contest Rules yet? By entering this contest, you agree to abide by those rules, in addition to any special conditions listed on this page.

Use this page’s Comments section to submit your entry. (see Directions, immediately above that section)

 Contest dates and times: (please note: this contest is now complete)
  • This contest opened to entries on Sunday, November 18, 2012 at 9 am (all times are Eastern Time)
  • Judging of entries began on Thursday, November 22 at 6 pm
  • New entries were accepted until Tuesday, November 27 at 11:59 pm
  • We announced three finalists on Thursday, November 29 after 6 pm
  • Final judging of entries was complete by Friday, November 30 at 11:59 pm
  • Contest Winner will be announced on Saturday, December 1, 2012 (we tried! ~Jim)
  • Winner’s submission will be published and featured on this website at that time
 Specific Rules for  November Fiction Contest 2012:
  • This content is for Fiction only, in the form of a prose chapter (no resolution of story required).
  • Choose your best First Chapter as your entry.*
  • You must own full copyright to this work. No prior publication will be allowed.
  • If your chapter is more than 1000 words, stop at the end of the last sentence that crosses the word count. (Over-length entries will be edited by SoWrite if necessary, to conform with this rule.)
  • Do not identify yourself in any way as part of your submission’s text.
  • SoWrite reserves the right to edit entries if necessary (see General Rules).
    • * Can we really tell if it’s a “first chapter”? Nope. The choice is up to you.
Please carefully read and follow these Entry Directions:
  1.  Use the Speak Your Mind box for your entry. Use your keyboard’s “End” key to find this quickly.
  2. If you are logged in (“Post as [your name]”), LOG OUT before placing your entry.
  3. In the Name field, type in your submission’s TITLE, not your name.
  4. (Editor’s note: This was to ensure entries were anonymous)
  5. In the Email field, enter the email you used to pay your contest entry fee.
  6. NOTE: Your email WILL NOT be displayed publicly.
  7. DO NOT enter any text in the Website URL field. (Any text entered here will be deleted)
  8. Copy and paste your submission text into the Comment Box.
    1. Enter Plain Text only
    2. You may use line breaks, Bold and Italics, if desired, for selective emphasis
    3. Limit your entry to approximately 1000 words — over-count to end of sentence is fine.
    4. Proofread your entry. Make corrections as needed
  9. When you’re ready, Click on the green box that says “Post Comment”
  10. That’s it, you’re entered!



  1. This is a sample contest title says

    Writers: don’t repeat your entry title here.

    If you want white space between paragraphs, be sure to add a full line return for each.

    It was a dark and stormy night. These are the best of times and the worst of times. This is just a sample entry. It was a dark and stormy night. These are the best of times and the worst of times. This is just a sample entry.

    Sample dialogue,” she said.

    It was a dark and stormy night. These are the best of times and the worst of times. This is just a sample entry. It was a dark and stormy night. These are the best of times and the worst of times. This is just a sample entry.

    • Contestants may use the Reply function to make brief comments on other members’ entries, if desired. Be careful not to reveal any knowledge of the entry authors’ names, please.

  2. Agnes’s Garden says

    The garden was finally flourishing. Agnes looked carefully across her limited space. This was all she had left – a tiny yard, boxed in by huge cinder blocks on three sides. After spending her whole life living in the country, a matchbox size dwelling and small, almost miniscule, size yard became her final destination.

    Looking out into the space, Agnes visualized her plans. The compost pile was perfect where it was. However, if she added a vertical frame over the top of it, she could probably grow some berries.
    Thank God she’d saved all those seeds eleven years before, when she was ordered to vacate her country estate. Carefully hiding her seeds deep in the pockets of her meager belongings, Agnes entered the bus waiting to take her away.

    Upon proving she would be a cooperative citizen, the government sent her here, to this cell disguised as a home. Agnes knew most people were sent to these dwellings to die. The dirt ground, with absolutely no plant life whatsoever was sheer desert, while the inside had running water and contained numerous rooms filled with ancient, processed food – food with no expiration date, food that would never go bad, due to chemical enhancements. Agnes’s neighbors ate this food, growing heavier with each passing day, something she herself refused to do.

    At first, Agnes survived on extremely limited amounts of water, patiently waiting for her original seeds to start sprouting. She disciplined herself with yoga and meditation, to help ease her constant hunger.

    Using cardboard packaging from the processed food, Agnes gradually built the beginnings of a compost pile, by shredding it and boiling it on the stove, to break it down. Over the course of several months, she used this compost to plant and sprout seeds, developing an intricate system of composting, planting, harvesting and procreating new seeds for future crops.

    As each plant began to grow, Agnes slowly added any possible waste to the compost pile, increasing its nutrients for new generations to come. Weeds also began to sprout in her garden; she eagerly added them directly to the compost pile, eventually creating a healthy, nutrient rich soil, which she used to plant and expand her garden over time.

    Agnes made a point to get to know her neighbors, always offering her services to gather their garbage – garbage she turned into necessary items her garden. Cardboard was broken down for compost, while plastic bottles and metal cans were used to make garden beds.

    Little by little, she ate the rewards of her labor, gradually getting stronger and healthier through the years, while her neighbors grew weak, became sickly and died in their cells. It was only a matter of time now. She nearly had the means to help them survive, and in time, they could all take back their lives.

    • This contest entry is confirmed and approved #55. Thank you! ~Jim

      • Thank you for joining the contest. I enjoyed reading this intro-story. You’ve painted a vivid picture about Agnes’ cell-life and how she was trying to make do with her limitations. I liked the story a lot. IMHO, I feel the name ‘Agnes’ sounds redundant. Perhaps one paragraph should describe her cell without mentioning her or what she thought (?) – just an onlooker view of the place (?). Just a thought. Regardless, great writing.

    • Tamara Narayan says

      This entry is well written and clear. There are open questions (such as when does the story take place and where) but there is no confusion. The author creates an unlikely hero out of an older woman with a talent for bringing a garden to life from recycling. The recycling is familiar since many people are into composting these days, but the woman’s plight makes me think the story takes place in the future. The main character is likeable because of her resourcefulness, patience, and inner strength. Plus she has a well-defined quest—to escape from her concrete cell.

      This author has done a lot in 1000 words and made it seem effortless.

  3. A Spot of Bloated Extravagance says

    The girl’s chin rested on her knees, her arms wrapped around them tightly. Clenching. Holding on. Rocking back and forth. Her eyes squeezed shut, barring all the ills of the world from entering. But it was useless.

    Sighing, she unwrapped her arms and reached to the side, dipping her fingers into the silvery stream running alongside tall weeds in which she was hiding. I’m not hiding, she thought. Sitting. I’m sitting in the weeds. Tall, brown, sickly sticks holding nothing but a distant memory of a brutal summer gone by.

    The water was warmish. Thickish and warmish. A heavy water like quicksilver. Her fingers skimmed the top of the reflective surface, dimpling the flow. The creek burbled in a continuous monotone, a sterile song heard by few. That was the only sound in this late afternoon, in the weeds. No chirruping crickets, whirring locusts, chattering birds. Nothing.

    She removed her hand from the water, wiping it on her threadbare dress. She knew it was time. It couldn’t be helped. It could never be helped. It must be borne. And bear it she would. She stood slowly, melancholia swirling about, wispy as her hair.

    Plodding barefoot through the stiff strands of overgrown dried prairie grass, the girl kept her eyes on her feet. She would not look up till she had to. The scalloped hem of her dress fluttered a bit in the breeze. A piece of rhyme from her childhood began forming, a jumbled snatch of lyric, bouncing off the walls of her mind in a chaotic display. She willed the words to line up in a proper queue. Straighten up and behave!

    James James Morrison’s Mother
    Said to herself, said she:
    “I can get right down
    to the end of the town
    and be back in time for tea.”

    The girl couldn’t remember what came next, or even what the rhyme was about, but it was pleasant and her mind latched on to it. Now she smiled, “be back in time for tea-ea, for tea-ea, I’ll be back in time for tea!”

    After a bit, the girl shoved this silliness away and stared at her now-motionless feet. She wiggled her toes as a distraction, brown and dirty toes, but she felt the scream building in her head. It was time. Now. Before the sun set and the dark blanket of night enclosed the prairie.

    She lifted her gaze to the monstrosity in front of her. A large house squatted obscenely, alone on the vast, dead prairie. She walked toward it, following the long, narrow shadow cast in front of her. Her arms down by her sides, her fingers nervously fiddling with the material of her dress, now tapping the rhythm of her snippet of poem.

    She mounted the deeply fissured and groaning steps that led to a decrepit porch. Not until the girl reached the last step did she notice a strange couple sitting off to her right. A man and woman sat on either side of a beautifully appointed table, completely incongruent with the derelict surroundings. A white lace tablecloth hung to their laps. On this was a bone china tea set graced with a delicate floral design.

    The woman noticed the girl first. “Oh darling, come join us. You must! This tea is heavenly.”
    She extended a white-gloved hand in invitation. Her face was powdered white and her lips painted a rich, succulent red. High-arching brows framed her dark eyes. She wore a white dress very similar to the lacy tablecloth. It was frothy and feminine, though with a plunging neckline that seemed inappropriate with the primness of the rest of the scene.

    The man spoke up, “Yes, come, come. You must sit down.” He was rugged and very handsome. Dressed to the hilt he could have come directly from a wedding. “Please have some tea, and sit and enjoy the view. We have a fine prospect from this porch.” His voice resonated pleasantly.

    She approached, then hesitated, glancing down at her attire, so inappropriate for a high tea. “Come, come!” He boomed, his trim mustache twitching slightly.

    The man picked up the teapot and poured out some steaming liquid into one of the fragile cups, then handed it to her. She took the cup from him noting it was icy in her hands, at odds with the steam rising from it. She looked down into her cup. The surface of her tea was writhing, something slimy somersaulted in the depths. She glanced away quickly and fixed her eyes back on the man, who had gone on blathering about the beautiful view, interjecting with invitations for her to sit with them. She raised the cup to her lips and sipped the hot liquid. It tasted good and slid down her wind-parched throat.

    The girl glanced about for the chair upon which she had been invited to sit. Only a solitary wooden chair sporting a cracked back and broken leg was in view. Nevermind. She still clasped her cup closely, her fingers becoming icy.

    Her hosts continued to stare off into the blinding setting sun while chattering about the view. The girl took this opportunity to examine the woman closely. It was only then she noticed a crack down the side of her elegant cheek as if she were wooden, and her lipstick was smeared on one side. But her lips moved and eye brows danced in animated conversation. She was saying, “…I can get right down to the end of the town and be back in time for tea.”

    Deciding it was time to go, the girl set the cup down on the lacy tablecloth, which she noticed was quite stained and torn in spots, and politely thanked them both. But they didn’t seem to notice. She turned toward the main door. Time was spending and she had to keep moving.

    • This contest entry is confirmed and approved #63. Thank you! ~Jim

      • I kept wondering where you kept moving with this story and what was the outcome of her meeting this wonderful couple . Great writing … and the ending of this first chapter excerpt leaves me wanting to know more. On the other hand, I found the beginning part a bit abrupt and uneven until you picked up a much better read few paragraphs later. On the whole I think this story-line has potential.

      • Tamara Narayan says

        This entry starts with a well-painted scene of a sad girl hiding in the weeds by a stream. We don’t know who she is or why she is hiding. I love the writing in these first paragraphs.

        Then things start happening with the song, the house, and having tea with the couple, but I found it odd that the girl would choose to drink the tea when ‘The surface of her tea was writhing, something slimy somersaulted in the depths”. I love the creepy atmosphere.

        The writing is lovely—a balanced mix of description and things happening. It is not static. But after 1000 words there are many questions. Is the girl a victim of abuse? Does she see ghosts or manifest them? Is she insane? Is this all a dream? A better sense of what’s happening would help me connect with the character.

  4. From Raggs (Subtitled: The Bent Man) says

    [Editor’s note: This is our winning contest entry]
    She sat rigidly on a low, coarse three-legged stool next to the blackened hearth of the dull fieldstone fireplace, the lines on her face betraying her intense, silent determination to burn the potatoes in the blackened pot she was tending. She was the executioner, scorching the evening meal over the smoky peat fire, the flames catching her grey eyes and flickering, but not moving her soul. She did not seem to blink. It was a curious thing, watching her in the dull yellow light. She seldom moved at all.

    I did not know any time after my father died that she did not do that. She always did that, sitting there motionless while she burned the potatoes, and then the stones, too, in their time; perhaps it was the illness, or just a reflection of incessant, unfeeling numbness she suffered from the endless, backbreaking work of the island; it was like that, or maybe it was her best effort at trying to ignore the maddening wind, the uncaring, ceaseless wind that shrieked through the cracks in the walls in the winter-time, chilling the body and dulling the mind like the endless scream of a black soul , that of a wandering banshee.

    Perhaps it is even more realistic just to say her dullness came from the sickness, but it was certainly easier to pretend it was from the hours of knitting or gazing out over the dull, gray cold water –that is what the other boys said when they saw her sitting, cursing to herself, either spitting, or staring at the flame, or poking at the blackened stones of the fireplace and the smoke-blackened walls and the smoke-black window.

    “She is not right, she will kill us, first chance ” they whispered excitedly and always backed away carefully as she stared blankly or turned, threateningly, or pointed toward them but not directly, just as if they were not standing beside me at all, but in another dark place in her mind, then shifting her gaze and her pointing, crooked fingers slowly to the single window pane, or the fire, or the blackened stone walls.

    “She is not right.” the whisperers repeatedly told me.

    “She’s been hit in the head by a stone as a child, she will kill us, wait and see” they whispered, and turned to run away. She never chased them, just pointed at them, and saw them turn white with fear.

    The ceiling too, was as black as insanity, a midnight shadow, and everything else in the stone house was blackened and worn and old and dull and tired like she was. Maybe it was just that she intuitively knew that the stones, and the potatoes before them— like us, just like the peat bricks on the fire, were already condemned to be burned like desperate souls on the way to the deepest black guts of hell itself.

    One way or another, and only God knows why, the potatoes always got charred so that they looked like knobby rounded coal-black stones, no different than a pot of coal burned on a forge as if for an offering to a terrible false God; for in their state, the potatoes were most certainly not a fit meal for anyone, not the hard-working, bent man and his thin-boned boy or even the almost-starving, squealing pigs in the sty. When the stone-faced woman finally swung the smoking, heavy cast-iron pot off of the fire, the potato charcoal smouldering in it was no different, no less black than the charred, soot-encrusted exterior of her pot, no different than blackened stones paving the way to hell, and no more fit to eat.

    Sometimes, when I got older, at the suggestion of the bent man, if we thought she was not looking, I jumped up and stopped her ritual sacrifice in time by swinging the pot-iron off the fire but only if she was looking elsewhere, for she proved to be a frugal woman, using every bit of heat from the roaring fire, and if she caught me, silently scolded me for doing what she would not. She stared agonizingly into my soul with her penetrating, blank eyes, pushing my hands away from the pot, pointing at me with her crooked white fingers and forcefully removing my hands from the fire iron and swearing both at me, and to herself. She never failed to place the pot over the raging heat again, no matter how scorched.

    “She puts it back” I said to my father quietly. “She always puts it back. I try, but she puts it back.” His face was grim and tired.

    “Let her burn her pot of charcoal as she will then” my father said, one day, and he got a second pot to cook the meal in while the woman sat and ignored and cursed and stared, scorching the contents of her own pot to nothing. We ate in silence that evening, she said nothing about the second pot, the real food we were to eat, and my father smiled grimly just outside the door when he told me to put pieces of smoothed, blackened stone from the seashore into her pot every night instead of allowing her potatoes, for it was the time of a bad crop, a small, two-barrow crop, and we had no food to waste. I did as he asked. She did not know the difference. She burned the stones instead, saying not a word.

    “She knows not the difference, boy.” he said, watching her the next day. “We shall burn the potatoes, not too badly, God willing, and we shall leave her to burn the stones as she will do.”
    It became my job to cook and take care of her in the best way I knew. I cooked the potatoes in the other pot just as the bent man showed me, and sometimes my inexperience and tender age burned them too, and we ate them bitterly.

    • This contest entry is confirmed and approved #82. Thank you! ~Jim

    • I think I fell in love with the character in the first paragraph. Your description of her is so strong and emphatic that it makes me want to know the entire story that revolves around her. I can already tell that this is the start of a very interesting novel. Wonderful description and dialogue throughout.

    • Tamara Narayan says

      The quality of writing in the piece is high. The description of the woman burning potatoes over the fire is pure brilliant. I love the way the author keeps returning to this image. The atmosphere of desperation is executed beautifully.

      This piece poses many questions. The old woman is clearly important, but I still don’t know who she is. In paragraphs two, the narrator mentions the old woman burning her potatoes after his father died, but later in the passage, the father is alive. The sense of ‘when’ for this passage, in relationship to the narrator, is vague. I liked the ‘whisperers’, but can’t tell if they are other children or just the narrator’s inner thoughts.

      I realize these particular questions may have been set up deliberately to be cleared up as the story progresses. The biggest question after 1000 words–what is the story going to be about? The boy’s story, the Bent Man’s, or the old woman? Or all three?

      • Hi Tamara, questions with a purpose and the ‘lucid sense of when’ for this first chapter are part of the setup; the existence and survival of people living in the old world in poverty is a question in itself. The old woman is really collateral damage, not being the father’s wife but part of an undefined, relationship–undefined only by circumstance of the existence.
        The whisperers are also set up, –the children are the first whisperers also,– as they observe the curious, difficult nature of the boy’s ” old-woman pseudo-mother-figure” that lives in the poor home. The story is about all three–and others. I do hope this answers your question(s) “:)
        I’m glad you like it! Your very kind comments are very encouraging…I appreciate them. Thanks!

        • Jim Bessey says

          Please keep us all posted on the development of this story, Raymond.
          With such an intriguing start, I know many of us are anxious to read more. Well done!

  5. Lily's Journey says

    “She’s a girl, she doesn’t need an education,” Mom sneered, swatting a hand through the air. “She’ll get married and have kids.”
    Dad didn’t agree. In his opinion I should go to high school. He was about to come up with yet another argument when Mom cut him off.
    “She’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer Albert. She won’t be able to cope. She hates school. Why put her through another six years?”
    “Well, then maybe an art academy,” Dad reasoned. “She’s pretty good at drawing. Let her develop by doing something creative.”
    “I don’t know Albert,” Mom shook her head in doubt. “If we were talking about a boy I’d say fine, let him go to an academy instead of a high school, but we’re talking about a girl. A girl who will meet a boy, fall in love, get married and start a family. She’ll be a housewife like me. So why does she need a fancy education? I say, let her stay in the school she’s been in for the past six years; let her enter the special program where she’ll learn to cook and sew. That will be all the education she’ll ever need.”
    “Luc went to high school,” Dad remarked.
    “Luc is a boy, he’s smart and he’s got a great future ahead of him. Did you know he wants to become a math professor?”
    I was hunched over the dining room table with my back to the fireplace, glaring from my mom to my dad as they argued about me. I wished they would stop and give me a say in the matter. I would tell them that I hated school, hated it with a passion. The teacher liked nothing better than putting me on the spot with questions I couldn’t answer and my classmates took pleasure in my humiliation.
    Poor Luc; He would finish high school in June and might have to go to the university in September for who knows how many years. With a sigh I turned my attention back to my homework. School would break for summer next week, but Miss Moon still gave us homework—math and an essay. We had to write a two page essay about what we were going to do during school break.
    I stuck the end of my pen between my front teeth and stared at the blank page in front of me. We would go camping just like last year and the year before, sightseeing, visit little markets, go swimming and generally have fun. But how to put this into words?
    “How’s it going with that essay Lily?” Mom asked on her way to the kitchen.
    I shrugged helplessly.
    “Do you want some help?”
    I eagerly nodded.
    “Okay, let me go and make some coffee and then I’ll come and help you.”
    With a sigh of relief I put my pen down. If Mom was going to help with the essay it would turn out alright. Mom wrote all my essays and she always received good marks for me.
    “What do you need to write about?” Mom asked.
    “Our plans for the summer holidays.”
    “Well that’s easy.” Slightly irritated, Mom pulled the paper towards her. “We’re going camping. Why can’t you tell your teacher about that?”
    “I can tell her,” I said, “but I don’t know how to write it.”
    “Tell me.”
    “You know what we do on holiday.”
    “Yes, but I still want you to tell me. You can’t expect me to do everything.”
    As I related the planned holiday from past experiences, Mom wrote everything down. Every now and then she would hold up her hand when I went too fast and she would nod when I could continue.
    When I was finished saying what I had to say, Mom rewrote what she had on paper. Twenty minutes later the essay was finished. Mom read the finished piece aloud and I glowed with enthusiasm. Mom had written what I had told her, but Mom’s version was so much better.
    “Now then, do you have anything else to do?”
    Mom pulled a frown and got up. “Can’t help you with that, but Luc will. Better get started.”
    Math was my worst subject. I had no trouble with regular math—adding, subtracting, dividing and multiplying, but when it came to story related math problems I was lost. Without much hope I looked at the first question.

    Ants on a stick
    One hundred ants are dropped on a meter stick. Each ant is traveling either to the left or the right with constant speed one meter per minute. When two ants meet, they bounce off each other and reverse direction. When an ant reaches an end of the stick, it falls off.
    At some point all the ants will have fallen off. The time at which this happens will depend on the initial configuration of the ants.
    Question: Over all possible initial configurations, what is the longest amount of time that you would need to wait for the stick to have no more ants on it?

    I read the question again and again and again. My hands balled into fists as I racked my brain trying to come up with the right answer. I had no idea how long it would take for all the ants to be off the meter stick.
    “Lily, I can hear you sighing,” Mom called. “Don’t you understand the question?”
    “I understand the question Mom, but I don’t know the answer.”
    “Then you don’t understand the question,” Mom said, pushing herself out of her chair in the sitting room. “I don’t think I’ll be of much use, but let me have a look.”
    Having put on her glasses, she peered over my shoulder and read the story about the ants.
    “Good Lord,” she commented, “I can’t help you with this Lily, but Luc will know. Ask him when he comes downstairs.”
    Moments later Luc sauntered into the living room.

    • This contest entry is confirmed and approved #28. Thank you! ~Jim

    • I love the dialogue (dialog) here. You make it seem so natural and the flow of it doesn’t sound off at all. (This is one aspect that sounds odd in many novels; forced dialogues.) I loved the mention of the math problem, for it made me also stop to think of what the answer is (lol) and then I suddenly had to remind myself that I was reading an excerpt and had to read through.

      Great writing … but I would have enjoyed added spacing between each dialogue line. Spacing would enhance a better reading experience.

    • Tamara Narayan says

      The scene starts off well: two parents arguing over their daughter’s schooling. I’m a little confused on the 6-year high school since US high schools last 4 years. The attitude of the mom is irksome—this is a good thing. But I expected the unlikeable mom to be offset by a daughter with some backbone. Instead, I was turned off by Lily after she let her mother write her essay. (I do love the math problem and am still trying to convince myself it’s 1 minute.) Considering the title, making Lily weak in the beginning might be the whole point. The main character should change and grow.

      I do agree with Mandy on the dialogue. It has great flow. Well done.

    • I REALLY like this story–it sounds so realistic. The mother sounds like my own mother in the past, helping with homework….too funny! …..The dialogue structure and flow is absolutely wonderful…In my own writing, I try hard to write realistic dialogue–and I was completely impressed with this writer’s ability to make these people sound totally natural. I enjoyed the ‘math problem’. Btw, my mother would have flailed this mother seriously with a wet noodle for saying girls don’t need an education !
      “:) Great job!

  6. The Boy With the Black Leather Jacket says

    The first time she saw the boy in the black leather jacket he had been astride an expertly restored Harley Davidson unseeingly staring off across the wildflower meadow next to George Bower’s garage. He held absently between forefinger and thumb a lit cigarette burning down to nothing. He didn’t bother to push away the long, wind-blown hair falling into his dark, brooding eyes. So oblivious to all was he that he didn’t even notice he was being watched most carefully.

    When he finally looked up and saw her, their eyes locked for a second which lasted an eternity. There was instant attraction for both. He had the rugged good looks often seen in Calvin Klein ads, but there was more there. She saw it all then. Even at a distance, she could make out a deep sadness, a resonating ache and a resentment almost palpable all in his eyes. He had suffered. She could tell and she inexplicably wished to erase it all. Crazy it was for she knew nothing about him and crazier still because she doubted he would allow her the privilege.

    Being caught in this unguarded moment rankled him. He threw down the cigarette-turned-to-ashes and stomped on it, his eyes narrowed. The curtains had closed. He was the tough guy now, the one who feels nothing because that’s the only way he knew how to survive. He raised an insolent eyebrow and swept his eyes down and up again telling her silently she was nothing to him, just something nice to look at. He would, if given the chance, treat her like crap and not feel remotely sorry for it.

    “You up for that, Babe?” his smirk seemed to say.

    Instead of being repulsed and insulted, or even frightened, as he undoubtedly expected her to be, his lustful gaze felt like a warm, gentle caress. She smiled at him serenely. He frowned, shook his head, no doubt thinking her a naive, stupid little girl and looked away.

    “Well, George, what’s the verdict?” Reverend Campbell asked grimly, expecting the worst.

    “Don’t know what idiot told you it was the transmission, Reverend, but you probably shouldn’t ought to be goin’ to him no more,” George said jovially, hooking his thumbs in the belt loops of his faded denims just under his protruding belly. “Twas nothing more than loose and rusty battery cable connectors.”

    Mandy giggled and said, “Uncle Clinton isn’t very bright.”

    “Amanda! Respect for your elders,” her father said harshly.

    Abashed, she lowered her eyes to the ground meekly saying, “Yes, Papa.”

    “Are you certain, George?” Reverend Campbell asked skeptically, turning back to George who was now looking at Mandy with sympathy in his watery pale blue eyes.

    “Yep, took Nick but ten minutes to see it had nothing to do with the transmission,” George replied amicably.

    “You didn’t look at my car yourself?” Reverend Campbell asked evidently annoyed.

    George grinned sheepishly. “Well, no, but, to say the truth, Nick’s better at fixing cars than even me. Funny that, as I taught him all I know. I’d like it if you didn’t spread that around, Reverend,” he replied lifting his grease-stained Braves baseball cap to scratch the top of his balding head. Amanda giggled again and he winked at her.

    “Amanda, mind your manners,” her father hissed.

    “Yes, Papa,” she mumbled, looking down at her toes.

    “Anyway, Nick will tell you. He’s right over there on his bike. You know that’s the same one my boy wrapped around a tree last year. Almost killed himself! Destroyed it. I was about to haul it to the junkyard when Nick says he can fix it. Couldn’t believe it. Fixed it up real nice. Made him my pro-toe-jay after that,” George said carefully, making Mandy giggle again.

    “Amanda,” her father warned.

    “Sorry, Papa,” she muttered casting eyes down.

    Reverend Campbell cast a stern look over his shoulder at the boy. “That’s Elmer Johnson’s bastard. Landed himself in prison when he killed the whore. What was her name? Beaufort, Karen I think,” he said dispassionately.

    Visibly taken aback, George stared at him. “Well, yeah, Reverend, but Nick couldn’t help where he comes from no more than us. He’s had it rough. No doubt about that, but he’s a good boy. Always works real hard, harder than my other two boys put together. And he’s real smart. He finished school,” George said defensively.

    “Just the same, George, I’d rather you take care of my car in future. So, how much do I owe you?” Reverend Campbell asked tersely, pulling out his wallet.

    “It was nothing. Two bucks and ten minutes time. Don’t worry about it,” George said stiffly. “If you like you could give Nick a tip as he did the work.”

    “All right,” Reverend Campbell replied taking a five dollar bill out of the wallet.

    Stricken, not only with her father’s judgmental recital of Nick’s dreadful parentage but also with his unconcern for Nick’s worth, Mandy grabbed the wallet and pulled out a twenty. “You should give Nick something good, Papa. He fixed the car for practically nothing and in no time. You know Uncle Clinton would have bilked you for hundreds of dollars and taken weeks to do it if …..”

    “Enough, Amanda! You will not speak in that manner,” he said. “George, you can give this to the boy with my thanks.”

    “You should give it to him yourself, Reverend. Nick!” George said quickly, gesturing for the boy to come over.

    Nick reluctantly came away from his bike, taking slow strides with a belligerent expression on his face.

    “Yeah, George?” he said deliberately avoiding looking at Mandy and casting wary glances at the Reverend.

    “This is Reverend Campbell, Nick, and his daughter, Mandy,” George said giving Mandy an affectionate grin.

    “Sir, ma’am,” Nick said with a slight inclining of the head for each, his eyes lingering ever so slightly longer on Mandy’s enormous, bright blue ones. It was like an ocean wave crashing down on you.

    • This entry is approved and confirmed, with corrected title. ~Jim

    • Tamara Narayan says

      This piece is strong. I love the exchange of looks in the beginning. That part is well done, cool, and evokes forbidden love. The impact would have been even stronger if I had known the age of these characters and the fact that the girl was the daughter of a minister.

      As soon as the dialogue started, I was lost on who was in the scene and who was speaking. I had to read it again to figure it out. A few details would help: the girl is standing next to her father, the Reverend Campbell, and they have stopped by George’s garage to see if the Reverend’s car is fixed. With that information, the scene is set and the dialogue can do its thing.

      Also, did George give his protégée that motorcycle after he fixed it? Since the scene opens with the boy on the bike, it seems like the motorcycle belongs to him.

      • I see what you mean. I thought it rather apparent that the girl and boy whose eyes met were Mandy and Nick. I guess I should have named them, but I did kind of want a bit of the mystery at the start. As for the bike, since George made it clear when speaking to the Reverend about the bike going to the junk yard before Nick took it and fixed it, I thought it obvious that George now considered it Nick’s, since he was the one who restored it.

        • Glory, I loved this piece…I should have guessed it was yours, the ‘looks, taboo love, etc…–I thought the first sentence was a curious structure–a bit awkward, but the writing is beautiful-the interaction between the characters & dialogue is terrific! Well done, to the point that I was kind of expecting this one might win!

  7. Wow… VERY engaging story, right from the start. I found the initial sentences a bit awkward, but your knack for telling a compelling tale is very obvious. What becomes of Nick and Mandy? … I would definitely want to know more. But more than that, I think its the Reverend that got my attention. I think the story would turn out interesting … as to what role he ultimately plays and how he influences the story.

  8. I’m huddled under the eave of the communications hut at the far end of a secure military star transport field on a very cold, dark, rainy night trying to bring life back to my frozen toes. I stamp my feet and wonder if my feet are really cold or if I’m being empathetic with Tren, one of my partners, as he quietly sloshes his large shaggy feet through puddles at the far end of the tarmac, close to the star cruiser that will take us to Ecurian. Through him I hear, smell and see the marine grunts who are haphazardly loading crate after crate of weapons onto my cruiser. A shudder goes down my back as Ing, one of my other partners, ruffles his feathers against the rain.
    My name is Ev D’Ander and I’m a tracker. Being a tracker was not even on my list of things to accomplish with my life; the physiological switching, for me, took place years after it does for most trackers. Trackers are usually identified at the age of 16 and have one partner in the first year. I was 21, taking a rest from a very lucrative concert tour, and ended up with three partners in less than 24 cubents. I telepathically saw and heard the world through the eyes of three very different animals. I became the switchboard through which we could communicate with each other. I’m two full cycles overdue to be rotated home, that’s longer than most trackers can be out, but I haven’t gone crazy yet and my brothers are due to pick me up in three days to take me home. I really need to see my dad and just spend time enjoying life instead of trying to save lives.
    In my mind, through Tren, I hear the soldiers complain about how cold it is, why does anyone have to leave in the middle of the night, what they are going to do when they reach the ridge and how they’ll show “them” who is boss. Tren moves a step toward the wing of the transport and we hear: “If you want to know about your brother, you’ll do what we tell you…”
    A crashing crate and foul language override the rest of the sentence. I ask Tren to get closer, to see who is talking. He points out that if he does that, his cover will be blown. Through Ing, I watch as Admiral Roka’s ground transport pulls through the security gate and moves toward me. Tren notes that the soldiers immediately become more invested in loading the cruiser. We watch as a major we hadn’t seen before barks orders to clean up the crate before he jogs toward Roka’s transport. This is beginning to get interesting.
    Admiral Roka is out of the transport before it stops. I watch as he shivers, then tucks his small empathetic dog into a carrying pocket up under his coat. Only I know that the Admiral is empathetic with the dog; the rest of galaxy thinks it is quirky to carry a dog around.
    We have to stall for time, not everything is in place yet.
    “A lot of weapons for a single invitation. I didn’t realize this was a giveaway to the Ecurian,” is how I greet the Admiral.
    “And how are you this fine cold evening, Admiral?” Roka says for me as he moves up under the eave. With a sigh he says, “Council thought it best to send support.”
    “Council? So who is in charge since the First Chairman is on Grada and the Sub Chairman is on Plantis? That leaves minority chair, Djwhal?” I look out over the rain misty field. “The one who ordered the original troops that are stranded on the ridge?”
    The admiral grinds his heel into the mud. “That’s the one.”
    “He’s also the Mining Consortium’s rep.”
    Roka doesn’t answer.
    “I’m still the only name on the invitation.”
    The major stops in front of the admiral and salutes smartly. “Admiral Roka, Major Houseman, reporting.”
    The Admiral waves him off. “Major.”
    “We’re almost done loading, Sir.”
    “Thank you Major. Get your men ready.”
    I move out of the protection of the overhang and start to walk away.
    “D’Ander! Where do you think you’re going? ” Roka uses his best authoritarian voice.
    “Call me in a couple of days, I’ll do the body bag count for you.”
    I can hear Admiral Roka swear under his breath. “I order you … .”
    “You need to check our contract, Admiral. Clause 2a states that if I deem the mission too dangerous, I don’t have to take it.”
    One of the communications hacks comes around the corner. “Lady D, your brothers just notified us.”
    I nod my thanks and watch as the hack goes back the way he’d come.
    Everything is in place, Roka nods and backs off. “Ev.”
    “Order them,” I look at the troops getting ready to board the cruiser, “to back down so I can get on with my job.”
    Before Roka can answer, Major Houseman breaks into the discussion. “Admiral, my men and I are capable of taking the ridge without any help.”
    Goose bumps raise up on the back of my neck. A ‘can do – gung ho’ attitude gets people killed. “Do you know how many of the marines are still alive, Major? Do you even know where they are?” I press for an answer.
    Major Houseman tries to intimidate me by stepping closer, he towers over me. He has to be a good two meters tall; on a tall day, I’m just over a meter and a half. “No, that information hasn’t been passed on to me, yet,” he responds in a voice filled with authority.
    “It won’t be. The ridge is a volcanic steam ridge with vents that keep the temperatures more than warm at night and hellish during the day. You don’t have a fly-by that can peg the temp variations so you can find the men. Do you know what kind of weapons the Ecurian have and how they fight, Major?”

    • This entry is confirmed and approved, thank you! ~Jim

    • Its great to see there is yet one more entry worth reading. Your writing is strong and has potential for moving this story forward. The first part of your story is engaging that it made me want to read on further. However, by the time I proceeded towards the end, I had actually diverted from the start of your story. You lost me in many places due to some disconnectedness in the second half. You’ve created an interesting setting, but something seems to be confusing. I’m not really sure it’s the dialogue.

    • Tamara Narayan says

      The opening paragraphs are strong. They quickly build the world and the character. After that, things get confusing. Let’s see if I have this correct. The hero, D’Ander, is flying a transport of weapons to a group of marines stranded on a ridge. But he doesn’t want to go because it is too dangerous and thinks the person who ordered this mission only cares about a mining operation. I’m getting a strong Avatar vibe here. Is this good or bad?

      So D’Ander is angry and mistrustful. Check. But why is he ordering the marines to stand down (not get on his ship) so he can do his job? I thought D’Ander was leaving to go home with his brothers for R and R. What job does he mean? Also, the use of the word ‘invitation’ is lost on me here. Is it simply sarcasm?

      While the idea of a tracker and empaths is intriguing (I love the snippet about the general’s dog), the dialogue’s fast pace leaves me behind without a clear understanding of what’s going on.

  9. Hmm it appears like your site ate my first comment (it was super long) so
    I guess I’ll just sum it up what I submitted and say, I’m
    thoroughly enjoying your blog. I too am an aspiring blog blogger
    but I’m still new to the whole thing. Do you have any recommendations for novice blog writers? I’d definitely appreciate it.

    • Thank you, Madge.

      You’re actually doing a fine job trying to get back-links placed on other blogs, by writing clearly and without stupid grammar errors. Well done!

      Unfortunately, I’ve deleted your supplied link because it’s useless to our readers. My advice for novice blog writers is to follow the following authorities, whom I trust completely:

        Mary Jaksch at “Write to Done”
        The entire team at Copyblogger — choosing only the blog-writing topics
        Jon Morrow (also an editor at Copyblogger) at “Boost Blog Traffic” — because he’s a fabulous writer and knows his stuff inside and out.


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