WRiTE CLUB 2012 Play-offs - Round Three / Bout 1

And then there were 10.

In this round we get to learn a little bit more about the writers behind the pieces we've become so enamored with. The way we do that is to judge them against different competitors, with brand new writing samples from each of them.  There will be five bouts...a different one posted on each day of the work week...and like the previous rounds you'll have until noon Sunday (Nov. 18) to vote on all of them.  Read the submission from each WRiTER below carefully and leave your vote for the sample that resonates with you the most.  If you can, offer some critique if you have time.  Anyone reading this can vote (after signing up on this Linky List) so blog/tweet/facebook/text/smoke signal everyone you know and get them to take part in the fun.  You will have until noon on Sunday (Nov. 11th) to vote on these nine bouts.  Vote on as many bouts as you can get around to.  Whether that is one bout, or all nine, how much you participate is up to you. 

In this round, like round two...every vote counts. The contestant who doesn't win their bout but garners the most votes amongst the losers, will become a wildcard winner and advance to round 4. 

The five winners will be posted on the afternoon of Nov. 18th and round 4 will kick off the following Monday.

Good luck to all the WRiTER’s!

And now…..

In this corner welcome back to the ring, with a new writing sample, Ravenclaw.



Millie winced as a swirling gust of wind blew loose dirt into her eyes. She stopped weeding her flowers and wiped her face with her apron. Then, blinking, she noticed how the clouds had thickened, billowing into dark anvils that hung low over the corn fields to the west.

The laundry drying on the line fluttered in the stiffening breeze, giving a burst of staccato applause that drew Millie's attention. Watching the clothes dance, she felt a familiar hollowness in her stomach. The line seemed so empty with only her and Jed's wash on it.

The screen door creaked opened next to her and Jed stepped out.

"Storm's coming," he said. "They just cut into the ballgame with a warning."

"I figured we were in for some weather," she said. "Just look at them clouds."

He looked up, stretching. The White Sox jersey bought when Jed last took Justin to a game was now faded and straining against a widening belly. Millie sighed. Sometimes it seemed hard for her to believe this paunchy, gray-haired man had once been the eager youngster who'd carried her over the threshold.

She rose from her knees with a groan and a crack in her back. She had to admit that she was no spring chicken, either.

"Help me with the laundry, will ya?" she asked.

Jed followed her to the line. As they put the clothes in the basket, Millie saw his gaze kept drifting over to the pole barn.

"You thinking about the car again?"

He shrugged. "I guess. Maybe we should just sell it. No real sense in hanging on to it."

His voice was soft, but Millie saw the tightness along the edge of his jaw. She reached over to squeeze his hand.

"There's no rush, either," she said.

He gave a faint smile.

She knew he'd once been so proud of how he and Justin had restored that old Thunderbird, back before the problems with Justin had really started. But last Christmas, Justin had come home wanting to sell it. Millie and Jed figured where the money would go and refused. It had escalated into a loud argument with too many harsh, hurtful words and Justin storming out in a rage.

It was the last time they saw him.

Now he was dead, the angry words could never be taken back, and the car didn't really matter anymore.

Jed squinted and pointed down the lane. Millie turned to see an approaching plume of dust, kicked higher by the growing wind.

A deep roll of thunder sounded in the distance as an old rusty Cavalier pulled into the yard. The driver stepped out. Millie figured her to be in her early twenties. She was short, pretty, and very pregnant.

"I'm looking for the Culvers," she called out.

"We're the Culvers," Jed said.

She waddled over, breathing hard. "I'm Ashley Peterson. I was a friend of Justin's."

Millie held her breath. Another loud burst of thunder rumbled, much closer this time.

***********************************************************



And in the other corner, also anxious to return to the ring, let me re-introduce.... Seaweed.
 

Biscuits were in the oven baking up golden as the evening sun.

I heard the familiar chugging as I set the supper table.

“Men’ll be in any minute... Potatoes, cabbage, corned beef. Biscuits almost ready... Butter. Salt.” I rubbed my hands down my faded floury apron.

The scrape of their boots trudging up the steps to the porch, the screen door slamming as they entered the mudroom and hung up gear - they were as comforting as any sounds I’d ever heard. Breathing came easier when I knew they were safely returned to shore.

Silently, they went off to wash up; husband to the kitchen sink, grandson to the upstairs bath.

“Coffee or tea, Cap?” I asked, bending to get the biscuits from the oven.

“Tea.”

They sat at the table in silence as potatoes and biscuits were handed around, and the corned beef and cabbage were dished out.

“Set his traps in mine,” Cap’s words were low and released slowly. I barely caught them.

“What...who? Who’d do that? Not the new guy?” I could feel the life draining out of me. Cutting in on another lobsterman’s fishing territory was dangerous business.

“Ayuh. Macy.”

Lost in his stormy thoughts, our “dinner conversation” was ended; I knew there’d be no drawing him back.

Pushing his plate aside, Cap picked up the newspaper and went to the living room. Jess quietly excused himself and retreated upstairs to listen to music or read, or whatever he did up there when it was too quiet down here. I sighed and cleared the dishes.

In the soapy water, my fingers felt around on the sink bottom for forks or knives. There were no little buoys attached to tell you they were submerged down there. I laughed to myself and drained the sink.

I settled into my chair next to Cap’s, and studied his weary face. It had been a hard day added to hard years - good years though. I yearned to erase those worry lines and smooth the time wrinkles.

It was early, but Cap folded the paper, and pushed himself out of the chair, straightening slowly.

“Guess I’ll turn in.”

“I’m just going to sit up a bit,” I reached into the sewing basket by my chair.

“ ‘Night, “ he whispered, kissing my forehead.

The stairs creaked under his weight, and then I heard the bedroom door close. I waited until there were no more sounds from above, assured he was asleep.

Dropping my sewing back into the basket, I headed for the door. I grabbed my coat, and found his knife and flashlight in his gear. I silently slipped out into the darkness, heading for the boat.

A few cuts and Macy’s buoys would be gone, and his traps dead on the ocean floor.

“No little buoys to tell you where they are...” I laughed to myself. 

************************************************************


See you back here tomorrow for Bout #2.

Remember the WRiTE CLUB motto, it’s not about the last man/woman standing, it’s about who knocks the audience out!
 

27 comments

  1. My vote goes to Seaweed. How clever to give us the other half of the story -- and who weeded out the intruder traps! Now that's a loving wife!

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  2. Nice work by both writers, and a very tough choice. I really like how Seaweed takes their initial entry and now gives us the rest of the story from the wife's PoV. And I like how Ravenclaw's piece is so radically different than their initial entry with Kali and her glowing sword -- here there's no hint of either the supernatural or of violence.

    Very hard choice for me, but I'm going with Ravenclaw. I like the undercurrent of emotion in the relationship between the man and woman; the story questions about Justin, his "troubles" and how did he die; and the sense of looming drama with the arrival of both the pregnant girl and the storm.

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  3. Um, Seaweed, that was brilliant. But I don't have to say this because you know it's true.
    After reading Ravenclaw's piece, I was sure they had my vote. I have to admit.. It read a little more smoothly.
    But yours is just too fulfilling.
    Seaweed gets my vote.

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  4. Huzzah for Round 3 and new entries! I've really been looking forward to this.
    Very well executed, both of you!
    Seaweed gets my vote today.

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  5. This is pretty close, but I prefer Ravenclaw for the stronger imagery and intensity of emotion.

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  6. I'm going with Seaweed. They are both excellent, and of a similiar genre, so this was hard. I'm just a pinch more intrigued with the housewife cutting the buoys secretly than I am with the pregnant girl. Good luck both!

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  7. Brilliant pieces, this is so hard! The imagery in the first is great and I liked that the second piece was connected to their initial entry. But vote I must so Ravenclaw for this bout. Best of luck to you both.

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  8. Oh man. This one's hard. I loved the voice in Ravenclaw's piece though, so I have to go with that one. Ravenclaw gets my vote today.

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  9. Tough choice! I enjoyed both - but I'll vote for #2 :)

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  10. Sheesh, these choices just aren't getting any easier, are they? Both of these entries are excellent. I love the way Seaweed gives us the "rest of the story" in his/her piece, and gives us insight into the relationship between the husband and wife. But I'm also quite taken with the imagery in the first piece, and it left me wondering if that young lady is carrying the couple's grandchild. Okay, I'm gonna cast my vote for Ravenwood, but again, I loved 'em both.

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  11. I'm voting for Ravenclaw but I like them both

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  12. I'm going with Seaweed today. I felt the details were a little more unique in Seaweed's entry. The thunderclouds, sheets on a line, creaking screen door, and dialect felt just a little cliche as a group. Perhaps a few more unique details would make the setting feel more one of a kind.

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    Replies
    1. I'm sorry, I just realized how critical my last comment sounded. I really did like both of them--it's clear why they both made it this far.

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  13. Oh, man. So much to like about both pieces. Ravenclaw had great imagery and a hopeful ending. Seaweed did a great job tying this entry into the last round, and I love how we find out about the cut lines.

    I give a slight edge to Ravenclaw.

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  14. Hmmm... aprons all over. I think Ravenclaw kept my attention and had a bit more drama. Both voices were similar but I preferred Ravenclaw's.

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  15. Love them both, but I have to vote for Seaweed. I appreciate hearing the other side of the story. Clever of you! I thought Ravenclaw's was a little too predictable. But both were beautifully written!

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  16. Seaweed. This story is getting intriguing!

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