I love to enter short story contests (see previous post: Why Enter Story Contests?) In my 2014 goals, I listed that I would enter a few. (One done in January, one in October. Yay!)
I enter to learn, not to win. I enter for the fun and for the feeling of accomplishment that the marathon of the novel does not provide.
Here is an entry that did manage to land second place this year:
The Thing With Feathers*
© Annie Daylon
Airborne at last, after a lifetime of longing.
Bittersweet memories float past, memories of emerging from the womb, hoping to fly, flailing like a nestling, disillusioned by gravity. Childhood slips by in a blur of fairy stories and bluebirds and magic carpets and angels’ wings. Deeds of derring-do slide in: toppling from tree branches, leaping from monkey bars, jumping from a second-floor balcony. Echoes of painful cries ring out as I recall dropping like Icarus to broken bones and harsh reality.
Footfall (not free flight) was to be my transportation.
Grounded, literally, yet one day I fluttered with hope when I spotted a skein of Canada Geese scissoring the sky. Hope is the thing with feathers, Dickinson’s apposite metaphor, instantly flitted in. I stared at my bony arms which were peppered with freckles and wisps of hair, nary a feather in sight. Juxtaposed with tears of frustration was dissolution of hope. Knowing that I could never soar with birds, I shelved the dream and faced the future, determined to live my life to the fullest.
Love tapped on my door and I ushered it in.
Marriage followed and, with it, the free flowing joy of motherhood.
Never planned for divorce, but there it was and there I was.
On my own.
Quickly, so as not to dissolve in a puddle of loneliness, I found a platonic partner with whom I happily shared more than two decades of living expenses, childrearing, and world travels.
Retirement years loomed, yet I, still committed to living large, never gave them, nor money, a thought.
“Save for your golden years,” warned my adult daughter, “else you’ll end up residing in my den.”
“The truth of the matter,” I replied, “is that life is short and I intend to experience all the joys of this earth, and that I will continue to travel until…”
“Until death do you part this mortal coil?” she grinned.
Vibrations shook me momentarily, a cold shiver passing through.
Was it really days later, after a minor surgical procedure, that doctors told me I had mere hours left? X-rays confirmed their diagnosis and soon I was gone, my body cremated, my ashes residing in an urn, in my daughter’s den, just as she had predicted.
Yes, my earthbound life was over and my loving daughter, knowing my deepest desire, chose a blustery day, this very day, to fling my ashes into the wind. Zillions of tiny particles, the remains of me, now sweep through the air like a murmuration of starlings, joyous, soaring, and I, after a lifetime of longing, am airborne at last.
The above story was written in January for an Alphabet Acrostic contest. The opening, “Airborne at last,” was given. The criteria? “Complete your story in 26 sentences, each beginning with words in the sequence of the English alphabet.”
The learning? I have entered this contest before, each time loving the experience of reading the dictionary to search for words. (Yes, X is limiting, but there are ways around it.) The fun? Love it! (This particular contest is available annually through The Brucedale Press. The sixteenth annual Alphabet Acrostic contest will be announced sometime this month (October, 2014.) Check their website!
*The Thing with Feathers was first published by The Brucedale Press in The Leaf #34, Spring 2014.
My questions for you: Did you notice as you read the story that I was progressing through the alphabet? If not, did you go back to check? 🙂
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My best to you,