WRiTE CLUB 2012 Semifinals / Bout 1




Two more votes…that’s all that remains in WRiTE CLUB 2012, as far as reader participation goes. Today and Thursday you will have the opportunity to vote on two bouts, and like the previous rounds you'll have until noon Sunday (Dec. 2nd) to vote on them.  These are edited versions of the writing samples you’ve seen in the previous two rounds, so read each submission carefully and then leave your vote for the sample that resonates with you the most.  If you haven't already, offer some critique for the writers benefit.  The winner of these two bouts will have the opportunity to submit a new 500 word sample to our panel of agents, editors, published authors, and last year’s WRiTE CLUB champion, for determining a new victor.

Anyone can vote (after signing up on the Linky List here) so blog/tweet/facebook/text/smoke signal everyone you know and get them to take part in the fun.  Again, you will have until noon on Sunday (Dec. 2nd) to choose between these awesome writers. 

Good luck to all the WRiTER’s!

And now…..

In this corner, welcome back to the ring.....Ravenclaw.

 
A brisk gust of cool wind blew past Millie and she leaned up from weeding her black-eyed susans. The warm summer air had acquired a chill and a moist scent of rain. 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 caught 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 open and Jed stepped out.

"Storm's coming," he said. "They 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 he'd last taken Justin to a game was now faded and straining against a widening belly. Sometimes it seemed hard for Millie 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. Laughing to herself, she had to admit she was no spring chicken, either.

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

Jed followed her to the line. As they put the clothes in the basket, Millie saw his gaze drift 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 Robinson. Justin and I..."

She paused. Millie held her breath.

"...were friend, I guess." 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.... RingGirl.

 
Annie watched the headlights disappear, the beams flickering one last time before the trees swallowed them. Her breath hung in the air, draping the chain-link fence before her in a ghostly veil. Now that the other girls had driven off, the sounds of the night filled her ears with eerie precision: a rustling of leaves, a creaking of trees, an owl’s lonely voice.

She eyed the padlock on the other side, barely visible in the moonlight.

Gina, of course, had been the one to lock it. “Just to make sure you don’t chicken out,” she had said, tucking the key in her pocket. The others had clustered behind her, smiling at Annie from the other side of the fence, content in the knowledge that they had already earned their spot in the group.

“I won’t chicken out.” Annie had been proud of how certain her own voice had sounded. “I’ll stay here until you get me in the morning, just like you said.”

Gina had given her an approving nod. “Good girl. Happy initiation.” One flash of perfect teeth and then they were gone, the Jeep doors slamming, the engine roaring to life.

Annie turned away from the fence. The land stretched before her, a vast emptiness in which countless members of Pi Delta Epsilon had spent the blackest hours of the night, awaiting dawn and peer acceptance.

She shivered, rubbing her hands together for warmth. She decided to walk around to get her blood moving. Maybe she would find some shelter for the night, like a shed or something. She also didn’t want to be seen huddling like a coward at the fence, just in case the others crept back to spy on her.

Twigs crunched beneath her boots as she picked her way along the ground, the occasional pits making the walk tricky. She was so focused on her feet that she came to the house before she even realized it. It loomed before her, its shadowed gables and porches steeped in silence.

It was more like a mansion, really, Annie thought. The darkness had obscured it from view back at the fence, but she guessed that it would be visible in daylight. What was this place, anyway? Gina hadn’t mentioned anything about an abandoned house.

Annie had no desire to enter a creepy old house, but she approached the steps, thinking she could at least wait on the porch for morning.

But it seemed that someone had other plans, for when her foot hit the bottom stair, a light flickered on within.

“Hello?” she called. “Who’s there?”

The door creaked open, and what she saw within made her breath catch in her throat: a feast lit by pale candles, fruit and bread and a turkey with coils of steam rising from its surface. As she stared, she realized that the table had been set for one. One goblet, one plate, one set of utensils, one chair pulled back and ready. Someone had been expecting her.

 

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

Bout #2 will be posted on Thursday.  Tell all you friends to come on out at vote.

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


24 comments

  1. A difficult choice today.
    But my vote goes to Ravenclaw today.

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  2. Another tough one! Going with Ravenclaw.

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  3. RingGirl's piece is very good, but I have to go with Ravenclaw in this bout.

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  4. Ravenclaw, but this was tough today.

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  5. I'm going with Ravenclaw. Nice job on the edits.

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  6. Very tough round. I'm going with RingGirl because I'm dying to know what happens next.

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  7. Voting for RingGirl! I so want to see more of this.

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  8. RingGirl. I liked Ravenclaw's better before the edits. The beginning and ending were stronger in the earlier piece.

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  9. In Ravenclaw's piece, "were friend, I guess" is missing the 's' on "friends." And I agree with Donna: I think the ending is weaker now.

    However, I still find Ravenclaw's scene more compelling, and I found myself skimming the middle of RingGirl's piece this time. I would definitely read more of both, but today I have to vote Ravenclaw.

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  10. I'm voting for RingGirl. But it's a tough choice. Great job to both Writers!

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  11. I feel bad because I don't think I've voted for this piece by Ravenclaw in any of the rounds, and it's very well done. But my personal preference is for RingGirl's piece.

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  12. I still like both of these but I have to stick with Ravenclaw

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  13. RingGirl's piece has some very good elements, but Ravenclaw's makes me want to read further so my vote goes there today.

    Congratulations to both of you for making it this far.

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  14. I'm going Ravenclaw. Congrats to both writers.

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