Time for the final bout in this round of six. Once again the voting will remain open for two days, or until Sunday at midnight. Monday morning we'll launch straight into the quarter-final round between the four remaining WRiTER's. After that round and we've narrowed the twelve down to two, both WRiTER's will be given one week to submit a new 500 word writing sample.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Please read the submission from each WRiTER carefully to determine how it stacks up against their new opponent. Leave your vote for the sample that resonates with you the most. Don’t forget to offer some opinions if you have time. Anyone reading this can vote, so blog/tweet/facebook/text/smoke signal everyone you know and get them to participate as well. Good luck to both WRiTER’s!
Passing through the ropes and making their way to the far corner is....ART GALLERY
I've been stealing glances at him for the last two weeks. Always reclined back in his chair with his elbow resting on the table, a cigarette perched between his finger and his thumb. Most of us are just so stiff and formal in here, especially me with my hands crossed demurely over my velvet coat and my hair pinned up properly under my hat as I sit on the terrace with my baby sister. His aspect is much more appealing. I wish I could lounge like that in a rumpled white T-shirt and rowing pants, smoking a cigarette and relaxing with friends.
We're both part of the permanent collection here but have frequently been on loan to other museums, so we've rarely hung for long in the same gallery. I learned from the docent who leads tours through the Impressionist wing that he's a Renoir, like me, so I always figured he was just the same old, same old. But now that I look—really look—I see we are quite distinct.
It may have been his suave nonchalance that drew me in, but it's his entrancing, cerulean eyes that keep me looking back. I know he's comprised of the same sweeping blurs of brushstrokes as I am, but from the distance between our opposite walls, he's a defined, striking figure, and his sang-froid eyes are as beautiful as anything I've ever seen.
I thought I'd been discreet in my glances, but one day he caught me. And winked. I’d flicked my eyes away, pretending to examine the long boat in his background, but when my gaze drifted back a few minutes later he was unabashedly staring at me. He’d smirked and tapped out his ashes as he returned his attention to his friends, but things have been heating up ever since.
More often than not, when I direct my gaze to him, he's already looking at me, one corner of his mouth turned up in a half smile that I interpret in oh-so-many delicious ways. That’s when the canvas under me starts to warm, and the heat must be radiating to my baby sister because she's been shooting me odd looks. Something's got to give or soon I'll be nothing but a myriad of melted oils on the floor beneath my frame.
Fortunately, something is going to give. Yesterday his eyes lingered on mine for a particularly lusty moment before pointing with a slight nod of his head toward Monet’s haystacks at the far end of the gallery. The lumps of dried wheat are bulky enough for two figures to hide behind. Unnoticed. Today he repeated the motion and wrapped his enticing lips around a silent "Tonight."
It's not unprecedented for images to leave their paintings for a rendezvous—from what I've heard through the paintvine all manner of things go on in the modern art gallery—but amongst us staid, Impressionist pieces, it's fairly uncommon. I've never done it, nor have I dreamed of doing it. Until him.
And their opponent in the near corner....ANNE SHIRLEY
They say that when you're about to die, your whole life flashes before your eyes.
Turns out it's true.
I sprawl in a pool of my own blood. The sky comes in and out of focus, and it's an unnatural color, like a bruised plum. Bombs explode to my right, spewing smoke tongues that smother the earth. Two men hover over me - Lieutenant Daniels and that baby-faced soldier who cried the night we got deported. I think they're trying to staunch the oozing wound on my thigh, but I'm not too sure.
My mind is going. Lying there on the battlefield, all I can see is Molly. Molly wearing her Dodgers cap in the kitchen, making breakfast, telling the dog to get down, stay there, good boy. Peter! Emily! Hurry up or you'll be late!
Wagging tail. The crisp smell of cinnamon French toast. Backpacks zipping. Sneakers skidding because the bus is pulling around the corner. Shit, I'm going to miss it! YOUNG MAN, don't ever let me hear you say that word again! Giggles. Peter said a bad word, Mom.
Little arms thrown around my neck. I love you, Daddy. I love you too, sweetheart.
The baby-faced soldier's voice slices through my delirium. "He just call me sweetheart?"
"Don't flatter yourself, son. He's feverish. Hand me that bandage."
Lieutenant Daniels' ruddy face appears. "Jackson. You're gonna be all right, you hear me?"
A church decorated in red, white, and blue. My father lying there in his coffin. I kiss his cold forehead, the way he used to kiss mine when I was sick. I love you, Dad. My turn to fight for peace. I swear I'll make you proud.
San Francisco Bay, holding hands with Molly, heart racing because I'm about to ask her to marry me.
The doctor's office with Pat, my frat brother, my football buddy. The cancer will take me over, Jackson. No, it won't, I won't let it. You're gonna be just fine, Pat.
"He's going, going, gone," the young solider mutters.
"Don't count him out yet," Lieutenant Daniels says.
As if on cue, I sit up. Everything, everyone I love. I don't know if I'll see any of them again. But there's still breath in my body. Where there's breath, there's life. And where there's life, there's fight.
"Jackson. Get down, we need to clean that wound!"
"Where are you going?!"
I crawl out of our hideout. Dragging my bad leg, I sling my gun over one shoulder.
There's a small army of them, tongues lolling from their lifeless faces. Green skin curdled like bad cheese. Slowly, they lurch toward me with sickening hunger, moving around the mutilated bodies of my fallen comrades.
I imagine them bending over Molly, the kids cowering in the doorway.
I load my gun.
They want my brains. I want them dead. Even deader than they already are.
"YOU'RE GOING DOWN, BITCHES!" I scream.
"Jackson, no!" Lieutenant Daniels howls.