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Autumn Contest (Prose) – Picture Inspiration

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Old 07-19-2011, 12:13 AM
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Tau (Offline)
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Default Autumn Contest (Prose) – Picture Inspiration

First of all Congratulation to TheCrookedPath for winning and to Christine for being the runner up in last season’s contest, both their work will be featured in the upcoming Writer’s Beat Quarterly, scheduled to be released on the 1st August.

As it is the middle of the summer we thought that a colder theme might be refreshing as such I give you a picture for this coming season contest. Draw what inspiration you will from it, have fun and good luck.

* * *


Members are allowed one entry in the prose contest. (You are welcome to enter our poetry contest as well.) Prose entries should be submitted as posts to this thread. The competition is open to all members of Writer’s Beat, including staff.

Members are requested to refrain from commenting on entries in this posting thread. Please use the Picture Inspiration comment thread instead. That thread will remain open throughout the posting period and afterwards, and members are encouraged to let entrants know what they thought of their entries.

Word Limits:

Prose: 2,000 words Maximum


Once an entry has been submitted, it cannot be altered. Any work that is edited after it has been entered will be disqualified. If you feel you need to make a small alteration (a misplaced comma, a spelling error), contact a member of staff. If we feel your request is reasonable, we will make the correction on your behalf.

Close Date:

23rd of September 2011, 12 midnight GMT


Winners will be selected by means of a public poll, so you, the members of Writer’s Beat, will choose the winners.

After the closing date, a voting thread will be posted. Voting will commence on the 24th September 2011 and close on the 30th of September 2011, 12 midnight GMT.

* * *


The winning entries will be considered for publication in Writer's Beat Quarterly, subject to the approval of the editors. To increase your chances of getting published (whether you win or not), make sure your document is as error-free as possible!

Also, the member (or tying members) with the most votes will get to suggest the next contest theme!

* * *

If you have any questions about the contest, contact a staff member and we will happily answer them for you. Now sharpen your pencils, fill up your inkwells and get writing. Good Luck!

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

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Last edited by Tau; 07-21-2011 at 01:49 AM..
Old 07-20-2011, 06:09 PM
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Default When In Bruges (1,993 words)

"Come to Bruges..." she wrote to me via instant messenger. We'd been writing to one another as online pen pals for months now. Her name was Varese and she was the most enchanting woman I'd ever met...on the Internet. My heart skipped a beat when I saw that line, "Come to Bruges". It was her home in Belgium. I'd constantly told her how I desperately wanted to get away from the little town in Iowa that I currently called home. With the summer heat brutalizing anyone who dared step outside, I gave her request some serious thought.

She told me that the temperature in Bruges averaged around 70 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer months. We were stewing in our own juices here in Iowa dealing with 90s and high humidity. She always bragged about the wondrous architecture that she promised to show me. We'd spend hours chatting about the spiraling BelfortTower that loomed over the city like a silent sentinel. She threatened to make me take a boat trip along the DijverCanal (even though I'm deathly afraid of water). Varese teased me about going to St. Salvator Cathedral especially after I mentioned my agnostic tendencies. But, she absolutely promised me she would take me to the Grote Market and buy me anything I wanted to drink or eat.

And, yet, even after all the banter and laughing I still could not convince myself to commit. I ended our correspondence with a simple, "We'll see." And we said our goodbyes before logging off for the evening.

As I stepped into the bathroom, I caught a glimpse of my tired complexion in the mirror. Dark bags hung beneath my azure eyes. All the ladies admired my eyes (at least that's what my mother told me as a young boy). Even now, years later, I had to admit that my most striking feature was indeed my eyes. I guess I was kind of a handsome guy, maybe the years hadn't been the kindest to me but I thought I was doing "alright".

After my evening ritual, I made my way to the bedroom. Lying down, I stared up at the white ceiling fan circling overhead. As my eyes slowly adjusted to the blackness, the fan almost looked like sea gulls flying overhead. However, instead of gull cries, I heard a loud terrible cough from the other side of the bed.

"Ben?" My wife asked and I rolled over onto my side.

"Yes, dearheart. It's me." She reached up with an awkward hand until she found my chin and then our lips met briefly. I could feel an unnatural heat wafting from her body. She radiated heat like a human furnace and I knew it was her sickness that caused it. The doctors said it would eventually take her life.

"Goodnight, Ben." She whispered as she tried to fight off another coughing fit.

"Goodnight, Sara." I said and rolled over so that my back was facing her. She was the love of my life and I knew I was betraying her by talking with Varese even if it was only over the Internet.

The following evening, after I fed Sara and got her ready for bed, I reluctantly made my way to the study. I turned on my computer and listened to the familiar jingle of Microsoft Windows starting up. In moments, my instant messenger window popped up and I smiled when I saw that Varese was waiting for me.

"Hello, there." I typed and waited for her response.

"Hiya." She eventually greeted and immediately she regaled me with her day. I knew a lot about Varese. She worked as a secretary for a dentist in town. She said his name was Dr. Vogel which meant "bird" in Dutch. She described him as a bird of a man with a beak nose and beady eyes.

She made me laugh and her English was surprisingly good. I once asked her about it and she grew uncharacteristically quiet. I was about to apologize when she responded with, "My ex-husband was a Language Instructor at the University." He specialized in English and insisted that she become fluent before they married.

"Ben?" My wife called from the other room, she sounded scared and in pain.

"I have to go." I quickly typed to Varese and immediately fled from my chair. I rushed down the hall and when I entered the bedroom, I found her dangling from the bed.

"Oh god, Sara." I muttered as I bent down to help her up.

"I'm so tired of lying here. I'm just so tired of it all." She whimpered and I could not fight back the tears that escaped down my cheeks.

"You're fine now. You're just fine." I said, trying to hide the tears from her.

"Don't cry, Ben. You know it's natural. The doctors said it would happen this way." She tried to soothe me as she gripped my hand within her own. Her skin looked as white and thin as paper. I could see the blue veins beneath and seeing her like this made me want to scream to the heavens. I just wanted to yell at God and denounce him for destroying such a wonderful creature like my Sara.


"You'll move on after I go, won't you?" Sara once asked me after she was first diagnosed. I looked at her with a furrowed brow.

"I'll never move on. You're my girl. There can be no other." I said and she took my hand, bringing it toward her face. She rested my palm against her smooth cheek and held it there for a moment.

"I've been lucky, you know that?" She queried and I just looked at her sadly. "I found true love. Not many people can say that, you know? I've lived a good life and I want you to continue living yours."

"Let's not talk about this..." I tried to interject but Sara wouldn't have it. She removed my hand and glared at me with her intense emerald eyes. I could tell that she was in a mood; her father said her temper was matched only by her fiery red hair.

"Promise me, Benjamin! Promise me you'll move on. You'll love again..."

"I...I can't make that promise." I whimpered but deep down I knew that that moment was what led me to find Varese. I knew in my heart that Sara was letting me go and that thought hurt the most.


Sara died three months later in November. Her funeral was very nice but I felt like a walking automaton. People gave me their condolences and I spat out some acceptable rhetoric. The only person that seemed to make even a momentary impact was Sara's father. He hugged me (and that man never hugged anyone in his life) and I couldn't hold back the tears. I let them fall and I'd be damned if I cared if anyone saw me.

After that, the days and nights seemed to blend together and I just couldn’t bring myself to talk to Varese. It must have been a month before I found myself sitting at my desk again. I turned on the computer and stared blankly at the screen. I don't know how long I sat there but soon I heard a familiar beep and a message popped up.

"Hello stranger." She wrote and I couldn't help but smile. That night something came over me and instead of letting Varese write me a novel about her day, I wrote her a tome about what I'd been going through. I told her everything and at the end I felt cleansed. I felt renewed and I was positive that Varese would want nothing to do with me. Instead, she asked me about Sara. She asked me how we first met, where we got married and then she asked me about my happiest moment with her. It was therapeutic and by the end of the night I jokingly offered to pay her for the therapy session.

Before we parted for the evening, I tentatively wrote to her: "So I've been thinking about taking a trip..." Varese took the bait. "Bruges is lovely this time of year." I couldn't help but laugh and this time I told her I was really considering booking that flight. She urged me to do so and then tell her when I would be arriving.

A week later, I came home from work to find a package waiting on my front step. To my surprise, it had been sent from Belgium. When I opened the package, I found a hideous orange overcoat inside.

It was the color of a traffic cone and it went down almost to my knees. As I stood wearing the ridiculous thing, I found a note shoved into the pocket. When I unfolded the note, I did not recognize the penmanship but it seemed distinctively feminine.

"Ben, this is for when you come to visit me. Wear this and go to the Grote Market. Look for the building with the two candles that look like eyes shining in the windows. I'll find you there."

After some serious soul searching, I got on a plane and I’ll never forget when I saw the European countryside from on high. It felt like I belonged here, almost like dčjá vu. From the airport in Bruges, I took a taxi downtown and using a Dutch-English dictionary I was able to tell the driver where I needed to go.

When he dropped me off, I thought I was standing on a movie set. The buildings in the background looked fake with their false fronts and the lights seemed a little too bright for my taste. Throngs of people walked around the market, couples holding hands while parents tried to keep their children in check. I sauntered along, my eyes focused on the windows as I searched for two candles. Two candles that looked like eyes.

My breath wafted out before me like a cloud as I worked my way through the crowd. I kept glancing up toward the skyline and saw dozens of windows with lights and candles shimmering from within. I started to give up hope until I spotted one restaurant that looked like a wooden face staring back at me with two candles for eyes.

"Stella Artois..." I read from the top of the triangular building. I recalled drinking a strong beer by that name once upon a time.

When I turned, I scanned the crowd for a familiar face. Even though I had never seen Varese, I thought I might get a sense of her. I think it was the hopeless romantic in me who believed that. And just as I was about to give up and go into the restaurant, I felt someone tug on my coat.

As I looked around, I came face to face with a short woman with mousy brown hair. She blinked at me with her hazel eyes and I saw a sprinkle of freckles across the bridge of her pink nose. She smiled at me and for the second time in my life I think I felt love at first sight.

"Benjamin?" She asked with just a trace of a Dutch accent.

"Varese." I replied and she smiled revealing dazzling perfect teeth that could only belong to someone who worked in a dentist’s office.

"How'd you know it was me?" I asked and she laughed as she wrapped her arm around mine.

"You stick out like a sore thumb in that awful orange coat." I laughed at that as we stood in the cold staring at one another.

“Come on." She said. "I promised you food and drink and I mean to keep that promise.”

We turned to step into the restaurant and for a brief moment I thought I could hear Sara whispering to me, telling me she approved and that someday we would see each other again…

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Old 07-26-2011, 09:42 AM
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Default A Winter's Tale (420)

The morning is wonderfully bright, snowflakes swirling like tissue wings and thick frozen snow underfoot as festive shoppers hurry along wide pavements weaving into and out of the brightly lit shops. A mild wintry sun shines on the trees, gently thawing the crystal drops bestowed throughout the night; and children play, their breath a thin haze held in the still air. They laugh, red-cheeked, as their feet seek the small puddles where ice has turned to water. They stamp and splash, seemingly unaware of the brass band that plays loudly, instruments gleaming like polished gold in stiff fingers. Nearby, stands a tramp, silent, isolated in this snowy white world.

The strains of a familiar Christmas carol nudge his memory bringing echoes of winters long gone when he’d been part of the hurrying crowd with coins jiggling in his pocket and in his hand a list of presents to buy. Martha, a dear wife, Lucy and Jim, precious children, their faces fill his head, bring warmth to his heart even as his tears mingle with the lacy flakes that settled on his face and eyes. He’d been young once and life . . . full of promise.

The accident happened on a bright summer day, the sun parading high, splattering the green leaves of trees with its golden glow. The road had been clear, the air dry, hot against bare faces. It came unexpectedly, the truck that turned, struck, and burst into flames, leaving him alone. Too soon, drink became his friend, and his enemy, driving him down until he turned to begging, years passed and he’d grown old.

Now with grey head bent he stands waiting, limbs drained as icy fingers snake through his weakening body. A well-dressed woman wrapped tight against the cold, with snowflakes sparkling on dark curly hair and pearls, ivory white at her throat, passes by. He shuffles forward, holds his hat further out, his fingers stiff and cracked. A swift disdainful look darts from dark eyes and the woman clutching at her coat moves quickly away, to disappear among the festive crowd.

The band slowly pack away their golden instruments. Their cheerful voices call goodbyes as the wide pavement loses its throng of shoppers and dusk descends; its misty mellowness dims the bright lights of the shops, and sifting shadows fall against walls. A shabby man, wearing an old fedora, and worn shoes, flips a solitary coin into the outstretched hat.

Waxen faced the old tramp, isolated in his world of white, whispers ‘Merry Christmas’.

Last edited by gloryia; 07-26-2011 at 09:45 AM..
Old 08-12-2011, 06:53 PM
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The Box

As the story goes, Johann Astor stared at the box in the window of the small French store for months before he could save enough money to buy it. It wasn’t that he was poor, he was a diplomat’s son, of course, but his father wanted him to understand money through experience. The price of the box far exceeded what one would expect a mere box to cost, but Johann continued to forego candy and other treats to save for it.

It wasn’t until the winter of 1742—after ritually wiping away the ice on the window on his way home from school—that he bought the box. As advertised, it was a locked hand-carved wooden container etched with dark stained Greek gods and webs that lined and grew from the sides. On the top, a small silver keyhole, the key for which was not sold with the box. The key was given away separately, years before, and without the key the box would not open and thus he could not discover the treasures that lied within. For young Johann, that was the appeal. The man that sold Johann the box could not reveal anything about it; who made it, where it came from, and who had the matching key were questions the elderly business man could not recall the answers to.
Johann’s imagination raced with youthful fury with each idea more exotic than the last. Every day a new item would fill itself into the box and await to be discovered—a lion’s tooth, a pirate’s gold, a king’s jewels. He began collecting keys as he found them, and tried a new one each night before bed. As he and his family traveled the world, he amassed an array of keys from wooden to ornate, small to large.

But Johann got older, you see, and so changed the items in the box—a lung for his father, a cure for his mother’s depression, the chance to save them both. With his father’s death came more responsibility, distractions, and a new family, but that never deterred him from his devotion to the box. He stayed awake long into the night during the weekends crafting his own special missions to distant places away from his family with the objective of finding the key.

On Johann’s death bed, surrounded by his family he gave his son the mission to complete the journey he could not complete himself. “You must find the key,” he said, and with every ounce of strength Johann could afford his frail body, he whispered his final words into Gregory’s ear, “I can only wish, for you, it gives eternal life.” The torch had been passed.

As the story goes Gregory continued his father’s pursuit of the key, but at the sacrifice of his career, marriage and wealth. For as Gregory grew too elderly to hunt for the key on his own he enlisted his son to join him in his search, ultimately leaving it with his son after his own death. So it goes. For hundreds of years the box exchanged paternal hands, and with it the ideas of the contents of the box became more abstract, bizarre, and otherworldly. Centuries of wealthy men obsessed by a box.

I received the box twenty years ago from my father who told unto me the story of the box. When I asked why no one had simply cut into the box his response was quick and frightening: to do so would tarnish hundreds of years of sacrosanct history for the family and box. The contents would vanish. Upon being received into my custody the box itself had circumnavigated the globe over thirty times, been slightly burned and water ridden yet remarkably looked to be in spectacular condition. He told me that I must never tell my wife, Marla, of the box that I now care for and protect. Two days later, on a hospital bed in Naples, with his family at his side, my father passed away. Moments before he passed, the lifelong scowl that he wore turned into slightest smile.
When I was younger, promised never to become my father, distant and cold. It was only after I received the box that, perhaps, it all made sense why. It was the box that distracted him and caused him to escape away from his family. A secret society of one.

Marla was everything I lived for. We built our home together and watched the vines crawl up our walls. With Marla I was never alone even we were apart. She was my home. But then the box became my home. It had enveloped me. For some time, it consumed my every waking moment. I followed the traditions; I stole time away from her to make time for it. It became clear that in the struggle between her and the box, the box had won. It was only a matter of time before that decision’s consequences would catch up with me. On weekends I would take trips to antiques stores, bazaars, and anything I thought could lead me to the key.

Last year, on a frigid night in France I managed to find the very street that young Johann walked to and from school on with the hopes that I could find the small shop he purchased the box from. The orange glow from the street light made the flurries of snowfall drift in and out of existence, and the crackle of ice beneath my feet was the only sound in existence until my phone screamed out from my pocket. The pierce ring startled me; I was not expecting any calls.

Her hysteria amidst her snivels caused me to drop the phone. Cancer. I fell into the ice and, for a moment, the only thing I wanted was the box to take me home. As I laid there in snow and wept, I came to the sobering realization that it took such devastating news to recognize that all I would ever want was Marla. I was stealing time for the box, but the box was stealing time from me. I wrapped the box in a sheet and threw it into the attic never to look at it again where it sat, gathered dust, and its calls to me fell on deaf ears.

Marla became the only thing I heard. We were like young lovers again, in eternal embrace, and through the treatments and medical visits we were born anew. Our travels no longer mapped out by the desires of the box but by mere curiosity and discovery. And so it was for eighteen months, until she collapsed in our kitchen.

The doctor’s reports were never uplifting, and it wasn’t long before her conditioned worsened. Her breathing, lighter; her disease, expanding its offensive; her mind, beginning to slip; our will, stronger than ever. I never left her bedside.

This morning, she began grabbing at her necklace. A silver heart shaped locket that I gave to her during our first anniversary. With the little strength she had, she could not lift it above her head so I helped her and placed it in her hand. She turned to look at me and spoke for the first time in two days. I asked her not to speak but she tried anyway. Her voice, hoarse and faint, whispered to me. I asked her to repeat it and leaned in closer to hear her.

“You must find the box,”
and opened the locket to reveal a small silver jagged rod. A key.

It wasn’t long after that moment that Marla passed away. My hands clasped around hers. It felt infinite.

This room is a very silent place right now. Just me and the box, covered in dust, staring me in the eyes. Marla’s thin silver key placed perfectly in it slot, and with a small turn comes a small click.

Opening the box I can see now that it contains what I should have expected all along, the souls of men whose lives were consumed by the pursuits of the box.

And I’m about to add my own.

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Without words
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without writing and without books there would be no history, there could be no concept of humanity.
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Herman Hesse

Last edited by Lost Traveler; 08-12-2011 at 07:00 PM..
Old 08-15-2011, 11:36 PM
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Default leavenworth

Alison couldn't shake the feeling the whole town was fake. The stores had false fronts; there were paid carollers on the main street (or der strasse, as this North-Western town was pretending to be in the German Alps).

I guess it makes a good vacation spot, she thought to herself. Go round the world without leaving the farm.

But the dedication scared her a little. This was a town that knew what it wanted to be with the fervour of a zealot. Nothing was done, or constructed without conceding design to the theme. French restaurants, Italian cafes; all pushed themselves into Bavarian shapes. She still wasn't sure of her major after four years of university.

She had wanted to stay home for Christmas and waste away her precious free time with high school friends and re-watching the old stop-motion Christmas specials. It had been her family's idea to come.

"The lights," her Mother told her every time she tried to argue.

"The shopping," was her younger sister's response.

"Your Mother," was all her Dad would say.

So she found herself at a coffee shop, hands clasped tight around a hot mug of coffee, while her Mom and younger sister drug her Dad through the town. Alison had begged off on account of the cold, and her desire to get next semester's classes figured out.

Alison grimaced and took another sip of her coffee, then glanced at the clock on the wall. She had promised to go to the Santa thing at noon with her whole family, and noon was approaching quickly. Despite how much she dreaded the stuffed, fake-bearded Santa, dealing with the paper in front of her was much more intimidating. She had before her, untouched since she put it on the table, a blank schedule for next year that she had to fill out, complete with intended major. Her Father had threatened her with tightened purse strings if she didn't start buckling down to finish off her degree.

She hadn't looked at the sheet her father gave her until she picked it up this morning to fend off her excited family. She had been thinking about it. A lot. Each direction had it's own pros and cons: to follow the dream, give up, follow the money, or the easy path. There were too many choices and she found herself unwilling to let go of the same ones she was too scared to follow. And the choices she felt confident with were the choices she was set against. Her mind could whir away for hours and get nothing done except making her sick to the stomach.

With the Santa excuse she gathered up her paper, finished her coffee and left the coffeehaus. Outside the snow sat picturesque, on bright perfect buildings strung with unlit lights, which blazed in the night giving the town the festive cheer that drew her Mother. She felt like she was in a postcard: two dimensional.

A man in lederhosen passed her with a grin she did her best to return while cringing on the inside. She wandered slowly, not wanting to be where she was going, or where she was coming from. After as long of a meandering walk as she could afford she headed to the main square to see Santa do whatever he does in small, North-West, tourist towns.

She passed Das Bakeri with smells of strudel emanating, Das Schnitzelhaus, a variety of shops selling all manner of useless doodads. All built with high-gabled roofs, faux-authentic siding and gingerbread house ornamentation.

The zoning laws here must be brutal, she thought to herself. They must be nazis in city hall. Her thoughts meandered, steering clear of her tenuous future to cling to the silly details of the town.

Lost in thought, she walked until her sister grabbed her from behind and yelped in her ear.

Alison, jumped and swivelled to face her sister.

"What the..." she swallowed back the words she had chosen when she saw her parents behind her grinning sister.

"Heading to the Santa thing?" her Mom asked her, to which Alison replied with a mumble that passed for yes. "Good. We're just on our way there.

Jamie thought that you would skip out."

"Yeah. So we're here to make sure you come." Jamie grinned at Alison.
Alison returned the smile with a tight one of her own that conveyed no happiness.

"Did you get your classes figured out?" her Dad asked.


Jamie and their Mother both carried bags that they insisted on showing the contents. Piece after piece were pulled out and raved about. Stories too were pulled out and unravelled. Each gushing about how the town is 'just too cute.'

"You guys really got your shopping on," Alison interrupted between treasures. Her Dad simply rolled his eyes.

"You know why this town is like this?" He began his story after the treasures had all been marched out, and cute shops been enthused over.

"A Bavarian city was being airlifted and they mistakenly dropped it in Washington?"

"Very funny. The town was dying out twenty years ago, so everyone got together to decide how to save the town. They figured they could get tourists over here because of the beautiful weather they get on this side of The Cascades, so they rebuilt the entire town. It seems to have worked for them."

"Why Bavarian style?"

"The baking," her Father deadpanned.

"They chose the whole style because they like German baking?" Jamie asked her Father.

"No," her Mother told her. "Your Dad's just trying to be funny."

"No it's true. The guy in lederhosen told me."

"A, you’re a liar," Allison retorted, "and B, never trust anyone in lederhosen."

Her Father cracked a smile as they continued to The Santa Thing, class choices dragging at Alison's heels.
Old 08-16-2011, 10:54 PM
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The Closet Writer - a Bruges Fairytale (1893 words)

Fellow students and jealous rivals filled the bar, their conversation a meaningless buzz. Faye waited to one side of the platform. Her gut roiled with nerves, or perhaps with the chicken Chelsea Vaughn had brought her an hour ago. It hadn’t tasted right, but it would have been rude to fob off such kindness. Eating would help calm her.

Karl, her boyfriend, mouthed encouragement from their table at the front. He’d be an editor or an agent one day. Tonight he sat with a publisher’s rep, invited by the faculty. One of three in the room. She mustn’t think about that or she’d choke. Just concentrate on the story. There were only five chosen.

Her papers felt damp in her hands, yet her mouth was dry, her stomach still unsteady. She read Karl’s lips - go girl.

She stepped over to the microphone. Could she even turn the pages? Her hands were shaking. Why did she feel so ill? Begin - just the first word. Her voice began to flow - it felt like another being within her, born out of all her rehearsals. Faye relaxed and Karl’s eyes enveloped her as she read, as though no one else was present in the room.

Until his eyes broke away. Chelsea lowered her tall, blonde curves down beside him. She reached a hand across his shoulders, leaned in for a kiss. Oh. She’d always had an eye for Karl, hadn’t she, and now she was single again. Faye paused. I need you, Karl. His eyes did not move back. She searched the page, the words in her head evaporated. Her stomach turned again and murmurs from the crowd assaulted her. The seconds dragged out. Where the hell was she? From somewhere she heard a titter. Sweat broke out on her forehead. She looked back up. Karl and Chelsea’s eyes were locked on one another. Why did she feel so dizzy?

Pull yourself together. Faye forced her mouth to move but no sound emerged; her gut churned, now the pair of them were looking up at her. Chelsea’s hand covered her mouth and her shoulders shook. Karl muttered something in her ear. Finding her place, Faye opened her mouth to speak. Acid burned the back of her throat. And the world’s biggest belch forced its way out, ripe and filled with harmonics, straight into the mike.

The screams of laughter hit Faye like a wrecking ball.

The publisher’s rep stood and walked towards the bathroom.

Never again.

“Get me out of here,” Faye said.

“I can’t believe you did that.” Karl pushed his keys at her. “Take these. Chelsea said she’ll give me a lift.”

Chelsea’s manicured hand set down her glass.

“That was special. I heard you had a real story. I guess we’ll never know. Just shows, a leopard never changes its stripes.”

“What’s that s’posed to mean?” Faye asked. Oh God - her stomach was agony.

“Well, I’m sure none of the people you grew up with would have even got this far.”

Karl was still staring at Chelsea’s sculpted profile.

“Oh - I’m sorry,” Chelsea said.

Red wine flew across the table; it soaked into Faye’s stomach and thighs. Chelsea’s glass rolled on its side. Faye couldn’t speak, her stomach had daggers in it now. Her futile attempt to wipe herself down left blue napkin pills everywhere.

“Denise is coming back,” Chelsea said.

She’d forgotten about the publisher. Faye snatched Karl’s keys. If she was lucky she’d make it outside before she threw up.

Twenty-five years and three grown children later, it was pure pleasure to leave the rumpled white bed sheets for the hotel maid to deal with, not to mention the remains of her breakfast. That pumpernickel was the blackest bread she’d ever eaten, accompanied by baked beans. A healthy start to a day filled with walking. It would all be over too soon. Her last day in Bruges before she returned to her mundane family routine. Faye grimaced and began strapping on thick soled black leather boots.

So kind of Brett to give her this trip - especially since he couldn’t take time off work. He worried about her depression, and knew how much it would mean to iron out the final details of her mystery, seven whole years since she’d begun. She shoved her draft manuscript into her bag for reference. She’d never shown it to a soul of course, not even him. She’d get heart palpitations, ever since that dreadful night. It didn’t matter. When she wrote she’d leave her safe, suburban walls, with no one any the wiser.

Sometimes, she dreamed - every time she saw an ex-classmate in print. But then, she’d need an agent, as good as impossible to come by. Imagine giving a pitch to one. She’d die. No, her work would stay hidden, maybe her family would read it after her death. An alarming thought! She’d have to get rid of it well before then.

She pulled on her new grey parka with the fur-lined hood. Today, she’d begin at the main square. The scene of the chase.

By the time Faye arrived at the markets, sharp twinges spiked her abdomen. Must be a stitch. She plunged in anyway. That stall was selling strawberries. She picked up a clear plastic box. From California! Well, at least all those flowers couldn’t be imported. None of it was as authentic as she’d hoped. She wandered further, still in pain. Maybe it would subside if she ignored it. Gosh, you’d think they already had enough lace shops here. She picked a piece up anyway - exquisite.

“Faye Barton?” A clear, well articulated woman’s voice spoke her maiden name. She turned.

This could not be happening. Not here, and not on her last day.

“Chelsea. What a surprise.”

“I’d remember that fly away hair anywhere.” Chelsea patted her own, smoothed back perfection. “Who are you here with? Husband? Children?”

“My family’s back home.”

“Really?” Chelsea’s eyes lit up. Faye wished she’d lied.

“You must join us.” Chelsea waved at a tall, silver-haired man in the distance. “I don’t think we’ve seen you since our wedding! Hmm - don’t waste your time on that lace, it’ll look awful on you.” She screwed up her small nose.

Faye flushed, even though she’d had no intention of doing anything with any lace at all.

“Look, I’m here to -”

Oh God. She couldn’t bring up her writing. Her mid-riff knifed her again. A resurrected memory?

“Karl, you remember Faye.”

Karl extended his hand. Fine crinkles surrounded his brown eyes now. “Are you still writing?”

Was Chelsea frowning? Hard to tell, she looked so Botoxed.

“I gave it up,” Faye said.

Chelsea looked like a cat who’d found a bird with a broken wing. “Let’s go on one of those horse carriages.”

“I’ve already done that. It’s my last day-"

“Why didn’t you say so? You looking at the stalls? We’ll come too.”

So Faye found herself wandering the markets, unable to absorb any of the sights or scents of the local produce, the stabs in her gut worsening in sympathy. Why did she always get sick around Chelsea? Why the hell wouldn’t the woman go away? Karl’s face was unreadable.

“Let’s have lunch over there,” Chelsea pointed to a sign that read ‘Cafe des Arts. Restaurant’.

Faye wasn’t sure she could eat at all. Her mouth still tasted of rye bread.

“It’s a bit expensive -”

Chelsea tugged her coat sleeve, hard.

Faye’s feet slipped out from beneath her. Her handbag fell open, makeup and money sprayed out over the cobbles. Worse - pages of her draft manuscript fell into the icy grit. The wind peeled several away and Karl sprinted after them, his coat flew out behind him. To Faye, he looked like a giant black bird of prey.

She checked her ankle wasn’t broken. Her parka was covered in mud. Chelsea bent to help her up. When Faye rose, the pain in her gut reached a crescendo, an unstoppable urge. She was helpless.

Faye farted.

Long and loud, the only sound in the universe.

Chelsea’s thin eyebrows met her hairline.

Faye began to shake.

“Feeling better now?” Chelsea poured Faye a large glass of red.

No doubt a poisoned chalice. Faye bit a crust off her plain white roll, just to sink her teeth into something. Her ankle still throbbed. She couldn’t go anywhere in a hurry.

Karl handed her three grubby printed pages. “I caught them for you.” His cheeks were flushed, his breathing still fast. He grinned.

“You said you’d given up writing.” The Botox did not impede Chelsea’s forehead this time. “Have you published anything yet? Of course not, you can’t be as talented as Karl thought or you’d have a couple of best sellers by now. You know he’s a very successful agent? He’s never stopped mentioning you.”

The smile left Karl’s face. “That’s enough, Chelsea.”

“You’re right, I shouldn’t give Faye false hope. What shall we order?”

“I’d like my story back.” Faye held out her hand.

“I’ll have the steak tartare.” Chelsea sipped her wine.

“The pages you’re holding?”

“I thought we’d read them over lunch.”

It was too much. Faye reached over and grabbed the manuscript. “Why are you doing this?”

“What?” Chelsea’s hand held the other side firm.

“Trapping me here, refusing to let me leave.”

“You have no idea, woman. Well OK. I’m sick of hearing your name. You’re a mess. Anything but the talent he missed. Now he can see this for himself, he can stop going on about you.” Her chin trembled. “He won’t even read my work these days.”

Then Chelsea took a deep breath. “I can’t compete with a phantom but I can beat the real thing any time.” She pulled.

Adrenaline charged Faye’s limbs. She tore the manuscript out of Chelsea’s grasp. Chelsea and her chair crashed backwards, she pushed herself to a sitting position, the seat still between her thighs. Her mouth hung open, she began to cough on loose strands of hair.

“It’s good,“ Karl said.

On the floor, Chelsea went white.

Karl took Faye’s arm. “Really. Those first three pages - you sucked me right in. Have you shown it to anyone else yet? I can see it’s set here in Bruges.”

“I never show my work to anyone, I’m just here to add the final touches. Then - I’ll bury it. It’s for me alone.”

“Let me take you back to your hotel.” He looked down at Chelsea. “You wait there, hon.”

Faye paced her deck beneath the gum trees and checked her watch. The chorus of cicadas grew even louder. Her blood tingled, the afternoon sun warmed her bare shoulders. Her book would launch tomorrow, two years since that chance meeting. A world of people would read her writing now. She dismissed all thoughts of judgement. She’d come out of the closet, her depression had lifted, and nothing would drive her back in.

Karl was a great agent. She hoped his share of the sale would cover his marriage counselling. Just because he wouldn’t promote Chelsea’s rotten stories, didn’t mean he didn’t love her.

The sequel would take place in St Petersburg. She planned to take Brett on the research trip, covered by the advance. The cheque arrived today - she had it here to show him. Faye couldn’t wait to celebrate tonight. She’d have the beef vindaloo.
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Old 09-15-2011, 02:57 PM
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Word Count: 2,000 exactly, I know...

They were staying around the corner from some market nobody had bothered to look up, and in the afternoons they had a free couple of hours to explore it on their own; stunted British kids in hoodies and too-thin socks, peddling awful French until the shopkeepers spoke their clipped, exasperated English. By morning, battlefields, and the terrible blanket of history and sympathy. By two o’clock, they were all so empty of emotion that they laughed instead, bounded with the suppressed energy of the vast graveyards they had wandered through only hours before, as if the degradation of the bodies released a heat that cynical teenagers fed on.
“My Great-granddad died at the Somme,” said Ant, as if it was an achievement.
“Oh, well, my grandfather was a conscientious objector – you know, he didn’t believe in all of that stuff –“ Harry had a way of making everything he said sound superior –“so we don’t have any graves out here or anything.”
They all turned expectantly to Erich, who spelt it without an H at school.

“Well, my family’s German, obviously, so…”
“In the grey ones?” Harry looked sceptical.
Joe leapt to Eric’s defense. “I like those ones. They’re more sombre. And all the oak trees kind of like…guard them.”
This was a statement that received much support. Erich went quiet, and the talk turned to football, the next day, and Sophie Morris – upper sixth, unobtainable, blonde.

Erich had tried to develop some kind of face for graveyards, but there wasn’t really a code passed around. Generally, it involved frowning rather a lot, which wouldn’t have bothered him except that he had a face for smiling – clear-eyed, high-cheeked and very European. You wouldn’t even mistake him for British. He was sixteen, had smoked since he was thirteen, and attended (along with his fellow tripmates) a second-rate private school that produced a slightly below-par ratio of Oxbridge students and liked to say that it was “holistic.” His best friend was Dylan, who was Welsh, dark-haired, acerbic, and had managed to get off with at least one of the Rugby Firsts in the last year – a feat which he had been thrilled to regale to Erich, since he could hardly tell anyone else.
“It’s something about crowding up against all those arses,” he would say, biting off the end of a custard cream – “sort of queers a man up, don’t you think?” Dylan had been named after Dylan Thomas, and so far the only secret Erich had hidden from him was that he’d found the box of poems under Dylan’s bed, and read the lot. The guilt wasn’t quite overridden by the surprise of how good they were.

“Cigarette?” Erich had a certain brevity of movement – fantastic for Hockey, disconcerting in close company.
“Fine.” He accepted the cigarette with a flick of his hand, lit it with a different flick, and relaxed against the windowframe that looked out onto these constipated little Belgian streets. Erich settled on the bottom bunk he’d claimed with swift efficiency and his indistinct, defensive scowl. It was the same scowl he gave when they were taught about Germany. He had been told the British lived in the 1940s, and so far had found it to be true.

“Well, they’re English.” This had been Dylan’s reaction. “I’m Welsh. It’s totally different.” Dylan had a habit of claiming anything good the British did, and rejecting anything bad the English did. That, and insisting William the Conqueror was French, the Tudors Welsh, the Stuarts Scottish, and Victoria and Elizabeth II German, and all of the best parts of English history thus performed by foreigners. He was only half-serious, but it was how Erich remembered him anyway; as a revisionist.

“C’mon. Let’s go to the market, I want chocolate.” Erich spoke with the authority of close friendship, mutual and sovereign.

The next day passed with a flicker of past-things, like a flipped-paper animation of the last hundred years. Dylan scribbled furiously onto an A4 pad the entire coach ride there and back, and Erich pretended to read “Der Besuch Der Alten Dame”. He had a terrible habit of people-watching.

When he returned to the little room he and Dylan shared, he dwelt at the doorway a second, giving the other boy the chance to hide his papers, and nodded.

“They said be ready in half an hour. We’re doing that night-drawing thing in the market.” This had been an idea of Dr. Sonya, who paradoxically insisted on being called both “Dr” and her first name – and she was a Doctor of Art, which meant she was much made fun of. She insisted that the trip that already combined the History of the area with the English of all the war poetry they read could be accompanied with an utterly atopical crack at drawing in a lit marketplace. Erich and Dylan lingered near the back, watching the bemused reaction of a nation of people accustomed to seeing strange young men march across their land. Erich chuckled to himself –‘ especially Germans’.

“What are you laughing about?” Dylan was very arch about being laughed at; he’d been audacious or moronic enough to come out in Year 9, and had suffered the natural consequences in dormitories, locker-rooms and sports pitches. Fortunately, he had responded by developing a scathing and poignant wit, and by the time they had reached Lower Sixth he was a part of the furniture.

Erich glanced over. “Germans.”
“You are pretty funny. All that bread that does it, I reckon.”
“The bread.” Erich was sceptical.
“Yes, yes, the bread. All those seeds make you imperialistic.”
“And what did the British eat?”
“The English, Erich. Baked beans, but they were rationed during that silly war and now we don’t have an Empire. See? No baked beans, no Empire. Simple.”
“You’re an idiot.”
“Savant. Idiot Savant.”

They made their way around the iced shops. To Erich, it felt like circumnavigating cupcakes; the odd, slightly artificial colours, lit oddly into odder shades, surface-deep, neon, and linoleum shiny. He knew there would be thousands of tourists here who would gaze on the aged brickwork and declare it to be what it was; and ignore the strips of lighting around the edges of the building, displaying Europe rather than revealing it. To reveal the heart of Europe, you had to find its graveyards. That was why Erich worked so hard on his graveyard face, and tried to feel for his grandfathers – Cronjaeger E., Cronjaeger, E., Cronjaeger, E. – a parody of alphabetisation, ordered by the first letter of their first name. He had tried to assign each of the dusty sepia photos his mother had given him to each engraving, examined the tiniest speck to differentiate each, and he had failed. They were just names, the same name, and to Erich it would barely matter had they had engraved once or thrice.

Dr. Sonya called out to them – half an hour, they weren’t to leave where she could see them, and they were to attempt to draw a specific building feature.
“They all look fake,” complained Dylan, brandishing his sketchpad like a hatchet.
“I know –“ Erich coughed, “but at least we’ve got good lighting.”
They exchanged one of their dark smirks and went to find the darkest bit of edifice they could.

In fact, all the white-gold had been Dylan’s problem with the graves. Ever been to Belgium? You can tell a country’s graves from a mile away; upright British crosses, proud, gleaming American rank-and-file, French mixed – Christian, Muslim, Jew, Cross, Crescent, Star. Squat, dark German stones, rooted further into the ground as if they’re deeper in hell – but of course they’re not. That was Dylan’s problem with Belgium; it was the self-righteousness of it all, of the individually-wrapped resting places for all the good guys, the mass graves for the Morlock Krauts. He hated every satisfied paean to British valour. British valour was cleaning your grave whiter, evening out trodden ground over an Empire more terrible than anything they fought. For Erich, Belgium was like realising you were supposed to hate yourself. So together they hated the Market, dolled up in glowing yellow like a prostitute switching her trade– German, French, British, American, bent over for the victor.

They were by themselves, and thought it a funny joke to draw the drain. When she, inevitably and exasperatedly, asked them why they’d drawn the drain, they would answer that nothing was more vital than a drain – it allowed you to forget about your shit instead of disposing it.

“I think I’ve caught the contour of the drainpipe pretty well.”
A shuffle, as pad moved from lap to lap.
“It looks like a birds-eye view of the Road Runner.”
A shrug. “Does it look contoured?”

“I hate Belgium.” It was windy, and they were looking at a giant bomb crater.
Erich raised an eyebrow. “Why?”
Dylan shrugged, lighting a cigarette. “It’s wet and pointless, and the chocolate’s expensive.”
“It’s not pointless.” Erich was gazing at the bomb crater, wondering where all the soil had gone.
“It is a bit.”
Erich glanced at him. “Is this pointless?”
“Everything from the creation of this bomb crater to us standing around this bomb crater was pointless. Unless you count population control as a…pointful endeavour.” Dylan scowled, exhaling.
“Hey my ancestors died here, or something.” Erich shrugged. Earlier that day one of their classmates had found their grandfather and had actually cried to the point of not being able to function.
“What did your night-drawing thing turn out like?”
“Kind of like a vacuum cleaner looking into the abyss. Like the mutant offspring of Nietzsche and Dali.”

“I think I actually like Belgium.” It was the day before they would leave, and Erich was carrying a large bag of chocolate.
“It’s sort of…neutral.” Erich shrugged.
“Is that a joke?”
“No..” but they were both laughing. That day they had stood on the edge of an actual battlefield, and for both of them it had meant much more than anything else on this awful trip. The graveyards were where the soldiers had died, where they had been co-opted by the propaganda of their respective countries, turned into heroes instead of people; the battlefield, on the other hand, was where they had lived.
“Heroes die. They just die. People live.”
They had read Wilfred Owen out loud, or Dylan had, his intent to take the piss disappearing under the eyes of a hundred of his classmates. Erich had been surprised at how well he read it; the ‘dulce et decorum est’ rang out hollow, Dylan’s lilting voice pushing it onto the wind with all the hopelessness of war. Erich had come to realise there was something in common between these two generations, as different as they were. Erich and Dylan did not grow up with the idea of death or patriotism, they did not fight, they did not risk their lives, get gassed or bombed, stand against a continent or against an idea or a world, but in some imperceptible way, there was a similarity between these soldiers and he and Dylan. It had dwelt with Erich the entire time they had been there, this feeling that something was between them.
Watching Dylan by the edge of a battlefield, he knew. It was that Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon…they knew, in the seed of their stomach, that they were being lied to. And so too, Erich had come to feel, was the twenty-first century teenager not interested in whether or not people were lying – of course they were – it was working out how, pulling apart the motives of the cemetery builders, the Grotke Markt shops with their lights around the edges, the teachers who adopted sad faces without eyes. Erich did not claim to understand what a soldier felt, but he could understand deception; it had been bred into him by his era.

When he and Dylan kissed under the Grotke Markt lights later that night, it was for England.

Last edited by Tau; 09-15-2011 at 11:42 PM.. Reason: Approved Change
Old 09-20-2011, 08:23 PM
codyklaiss (Offline)
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Default Charity's Gift

Charity's Gift (1661 Words)

Charity stepped through the doorway and shook off her snow covered boots. The Cafe felt much better than the freezing temperatures outside. She brought her hands out of her sleeves and closed the door behind her.

"Welcome!" an old man in an apron approached her. "Hmm, just one this evening?"

Charity took off her hat and coat and hung them on a wooden rack next to the door. "Yes, sir"

The old man looked surprised. He hesitated for a moment then lifted up a finger and scratched his wrinkled forehead. "I think I have a table open for you," he looked around the room, squinting his near sighted eyes. "Ah, yes! Follow me."

He led her over to a table and placed down a menu in front of her as she took a seat. "Take a look over that and I'll be back in a few."

"Thank you." She opened the menu, skimming over the words. It was Christmas Day and yet she had found no one to spend it with. Her mother and father had decided to spend the holidays on a luxurious cruise, traveling the world. She was a single child and seemed to be cut off from any other family relations. The only real friend she had was Emiley, who was spending Christmas with her boyfriend in Germany. So here she sat at Roger's Cafe, alone on Christmas Day.

As she flipped through the menu she couldn't help but to admire the other families. She listened to them chatter about how their lives had been going. They would make friendly jokes about one another. The entire table would burst out laughing, only to resume the chatter moments later.

The old man returned to her table with a pen and a pad of paper. "Have you made your decision yet?"

"I guess I'll take the special," she folded up the menu and handed it back to him.

"Alright. I'll be out with your order soon. If you need anything else, just yell for me."

As he walked away she noticed a young man sitting alone on the other side of the room. He was rather attractive, Charity thought. She sat watching him, playing with long curly hair with a smirk on her face. He looked up over towards her and she jerked her head to side, pretending not to notice him. He looked back down at his menu and she waved her hand at the old man who was now serving a meal to another table.

"Hey, Roger!" she yelled in a whisper.

He turned towards her, holding up a finger for her to wait a minute.

She tapped her nails nervously on the table. If there was one thing that made Charity uncomfortable, it was cute boys.

"Yes, Charity?" He walked towards her dusting his hands on his apron.

"Who is that boy over there?" She nodded towards him with her head.

The man looked confused and scratched his forehead again. "I've never seen him. Perhaps he's new around these parts. Why don't you go talk to him?"

"Talk to him?!" She giggled a bit at the notion. "What would I say?"

Roger laughed, "Just ask him his name. Where he's from? What he's doing in town? You know, the basic stuff."

"But what if he has a girlfriend?" She asked shyly, brushing a strand of hair out of her eyes.

"What if he doesn't?" Roger walked away again and Charity went back to watching the boy. She did feel the urge to talk to him, but her shyness kept her at a distance.

Outside the window a light snowfall had started to fall again. Her attention shifted from the boy to the snow flakes. It was the first "white Christmas" that Charity could remember. Her parents were not the most religious people and many years the holidays had got lost in the everyday rush. In fact the only time they had ever really celebrated Christmas for its true meaning was when she was little and went to stay at her grandparents house. She closed her eyes for a moment to try remember what it was like there. It always smelled like food. Her grandma loved to cook and had new recipes and dishes everytime Charity visited.

"Hello there," a mysterious voice brought her out of her memories.

She turned back to find the boy she had been watching standing at the table.

"Do you mind if I join you?"

"P-p-please do," she stuttered. "Go ahead."

He took a seat across from her. "I saw you all alone and figured you could use some company."

"And you came here alone too, I suppose?" She started to play with her hair.

He nodded his head. "I'm Steven," he reached out his hand to greet her.

"Charity," she shook his hand. It was hard for her to tell if she was blushing or not.

The two of them sat and talked for a good amount of time. Turned out he was originally from America and was in Europe for the holidays. He too, had no one to spend the holidays with and figured the best way to get his mind off it was to take a vacation. Both his parents had passed away when he was young. Some how the courts managed to put him in the hands of his drug addicted uncle until he turned eighteen. Despite his rough childhood, he kept his faith strong and believed in the end it would all work out for the better.

It was funny to Charity how many things they had in common. They had the same taste in music, movies and even had the same lucky number. By the time they were done talking and eating it was dark outside and snowing heavy.

"I suppose I should get going before the weather gets any worse," Steven sighed.

"Yeah," Charity bit her lip. She didn't want him to leave. She felt a kind of connection around him she had never felt with anyone before.

"It was nice meeting you."

"It was nice to meet you too," she replied.

He got up and threw some money down on the table. "This one's on me."

She looked down at the money. "Thanks. That's awfully kind of..." Before she could finish her sentence he was walking out the front door. She looked back down, looking rather sad.

"I see you got the courage to talk to him!" Roger was sweeping the floors. Him and Charity were the only ones left in the cafe.

A tear rolled down her cheek.

"You guys were really hitting it off," looking up he noticed her tear. He propped up his broom against the wall and sat across from her. "What's the matter, dear?"

A few more tears made their way out. "I'll never see him again."

"You didn't get his number?"

"No. Besides, even if I did, he is on vacation from America and probably going back soon."

Roger started piling up dirty dishes on the table. "It would have been worth a shot."
"It's whatever. I have more important things to worry about, anyway. College will resume soon and I have work. A boy would only hold me back."

"That's a bunch of rubbish."

"Whatever," she straightened her back and tried to wipe the tears away from her eyes.

A grin appeared on his face as he handed her a napkin. "Maybe that's how your parents taught you, but I know you know better. Follow your heart. After all, it is Christmas." He picked up the pile of dishes and walked into the kitchen.

Charity waited until he was out of sight to lay down her head and cry a few more tears. She knew he was right. College, work and money meant nothing to her. The only thing she wanted was him, but it was to late for that now. He was gone and finding someone like that only happens once in a blue moon.

She wipped the napkin across her face. Her tears stopped suddenly. She stared at the piece of cloth in amazement. An address was written on the back in pen. Steven must had written it when she got up to us the restroom.

She jumped out of her seat, grabbed her coat and hat off the rack, and ran out the door. The address was unfamiliar to her. She ran the streets hopelessly trying to find the road written on the napkin. Meanwhile, the storm was only getting worst. Her exposed hands felt numb in the freezing wind. It crossed her mind a few times that it was crazy to be out in such weather. Odds would be that she wouldn't find him. Even if she did find the address, he would probably be gone by the time she got there.

After twenty some minutes of searching, she found the street she was looking for. It was very dark. Only lit by a few street lights.

"Steven?" She cautiously walked down the street. "Are you there?"

A shadow of a figure appeared under the street light. Charity tried to take a closer look, then ran up to them, throwing her arms around their waist.

"I knew you'd come," Steven whispered. He hugged her tightly.

"Why did you leave the cafe?"

He took her hand and led her across the street to a tall garden gate. "Because, I wanted to show you this." He unhooked the latch and opened the gate.

Charity's eyes lit up and a giant smile appeared across her face. The garden was filled with the most beautiful Christmas lights she had ever seen. She turned back to Steven giggling.

"Do you like it?" he asked with a grin.

"It's amazing. I love it."

"Oh, and there's one more thing," he held both her hands and looked up. Hanging above the gate was a piece of mitletoe.

Charity smiled. She wrapped her arms around him, closed her eyes and kissed him.
Old 09-27-2011, 08:17 AM
Mable Strife (Offline)
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I Want This (363 words)

Solemly, I walked down the somewhat crowded street, lined with intricate shops, that were lighted from the roof tops. I stuck my hands neatly into my jacket pockets to keep the chill air from leaking in too quickly. If someone were to look at me from the shop windows I dare say they would see icesicles on my face from the warm tears that were streaking down my cheeks. My day was not well but that is precisely why I came to the jolly street that didnt have a name. The shops always made me feel better even in the sharp winds of winter. Slowly and carefully I examined the shop fronts. Tinsled wreaths were stacked in front of one, casting their refreshing scent of pine to those who could smell it. I remember when my mother hung one right outside the door so we could be comforted by its scent in front of the fire. A smile had been drawn on my stinging face by the time I made my way past the second shop. From here on was a row of restaurants. I felt warm just walking by and peeping in the windows. Coffee overwhelmed my senses as I trotted past a Cafe. My father always made coffee in the morning, and occasionally would let me dip my toast in the remaining drops. The memories were bitter sweet as I also walked past a restaurant of fine quality; My brother was a chef once, a fine, accomplished chef. One last shop at the end of the street, lit just a bit duller, and looking just a bit grayer caught my attention. I looked at the sky in thought. Looked once more at the last shop, and let go of my dreams then and there. My life had gone down wards, my family I remember and loved so well is gone, my dreams are great, but I realize, I dont want to be rich, educated or an artist anymore! I want this. I want this little street with no names. I want that last gray shop, a new dream, a new start, and a new family. I want this.
Old 09-28-2011, 12:14 PM
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