It’s always a pleasure to start off a new round by congratulating the winner of a previous one. Today I’d like to welcome Camille Atwood into the play-off circle for her victory in Round 3. It was the tightest battle yet, with every vote really counting, so please make sure you sign up on the Linky List before you choose. The voting for bout #4 remains open until Wednesday.
Last year during the first four rounds we received 350+ votes combined, and this year we've seen barely have half that. I must say that it's a little disappointing to think that we made all these changes and the outcome has been a severe drop-off in participation. I guess I can be disappointed, but I shouldn't be surprised. The changes to WRiTE CLUB, at least on some level, were to make the contest more manageable and save my sanity, but the overall goal was to keep interest levels high throughout the entire run by making it more compact and streamlined. Little did I realize that overall input would fall off so dramatically. As they say...the proof is in the pudding and the final report card won't be tallied until the last round...and if votes continue at the same level all the way to the final, then maybe these changes will have been a success.
What can you do to help? As always...spread the word. I believe we have a good thing here but so far this year WRiTE CLUB seems like the best kept secret in the blogosphere.
That's enough whining...what do you say we get to it?
Here are today's randomly selected WRiTER's.
Standing in the far corner, weighing in at 476 words and representing the Short Story genre, please welcome to the ring……..Imalie Teller.
“You see anybody pokin’ around, lookin’ for her?”
The little man shook his head and waddled across the floor. He was out of breath. The three steps up to the wagon from the ground were a climb, for him.
“Well? Was there anybody?”
He realized she hadn’t looked at him since he’d come into the wagon. She hadn’t seen him shake his head. “No. Nobody looking.” Rascal put his short, stubby fingers beside Maizie’s bottom on the bunk mattress. He pulled himself up onto his tiptoes and craned his neck to see around her back. “Too young to be a runaway. Hell, too young to go places alone.” He settled back onto the soles of his shoes and waddled to the head of the bunk to face Maizie. “We need to tell somebody. We can’t leave town with her in this wagon. They’ll send us to Sing Sing.”
“We ain’t doin’ a thing but takin’ care of this child nobody wants. We ain’t done nothin’ wrong.” Maize hadn’t looked away from the bunk, not once. She leaned forward and put the back of her hand on the little girl’s forehead. Satisfied with what she felt, she gently smoothed the child’s bangs back down.
The wagon lurched into motion. Rascal was sent staggering. He grabbed Maizie’s arm with his thick, short hands. It was the first time he’d touched her. He didn’t let go, even after his feet were steady on the plank floor. The bare skin below her sleeve was soft, but he could feel muscles and bone, too. She had to be strong, a woman on her own with the carnival. She didn’t have a man, wasn’t part of a performing family.
“Too late to tell anybody, now. We’re on our way to Albany,” Maize said.
She still wasn’t looking at him, but she didn’t pull her arm away, either. Rascal moved his fingers a little, stroking her. He knew it was bold and too familiar, but it was obviously a night to take chances.
“Rascal,” Maize said, her voice suddenly worried, “do you think she’s too pale? I think she might be too pale.” She did pull away, then. She put both her hands on the child’s cheeks. She ran her thumbs over the delicate, closed eyelids.
Rascal swallowed his disappointment and stretched up again to look at the girl. The child surely was pale. The vibration of the moving wagon blurred Rascal’s vision. The girl’s drawn face and her corn silk hair nearly disappeared against the background of the white pillow.
“She surely is pale,” Rascal admitted.
“Like an angel,” Maize breathed. “She’s pale the way angels are pale.” “Just like an angel,” Rascal agreed. He wondered if he could steal some formaldehyde from Wesley’s pickled punk jars. If he could keep the girl from rotting, maybe Maizie could keep her.
And in the other corner, weighing in with a 457 word sample in the YA Contemporary genre, let me introduce to you ……..Vampyr14
Afterward, still exhausted, we fall asleep in a tangle of limbs. I don’t think either of us moves all night. I wake, stiff and sore, my arm tingling with pins and needles as the first traces of daylight inch their way into the room. I wriggle out from under Dylan, watching him roll over and refold himself into a more comfortable position. He tugs the sheet up to his chin, cuddling it there the way a baby does a teddy. In this gray-blue light, he’s beautiful. He’s peaceful. The tense shoulders and dark worry lines that have started appearing on his face are gone, smoothed out by sleep. Real sleep. Not narcotic sleep.
I’ve been awake how long? Maybe five minutes? And already I’m thinking about drugs. It’s been a couple of days since my last hit, and I can feel it in the way my blood creeps beneath my skin. It’s not itchy yet, but I know it won’t be long. There’s a low ache in my bones. I wonder how long it’ll be before the shaking starts. And the sweating. Will I be able to stand it?
A tremor shudders through Dylan, making the bed quake. He groans and digs his head deeper into the pillow before settling back into sleep. He’s facing me and I let my eyes travel the familiar planes of his face, reading them, memorizing them: the knifelike cheekbones, the fine, sensitive mouth, the pointed chin, the magnificent beaklike nose. He thinks I’m beautiful. Doesn’t he know how stunning he is? His narrow frame barely makes a wrinkle in the bed. How can someone who means so much take up so little space? My heart swells as I crawl from the bed, tucking the sheet around him. I love him so much. Too much.
I leave the sheet music puddled on the floor. I leave my clothes in the closet. I leave my phone in the creases of my pillow. I bend over and leave a single kiss on his cool, damp forehead. It’s that kiss. The one I hoped I’d never have to give. The one that can only mean goodbye. The words to the song swirl through my head and tears spring to my eyes. Yes, I love him. No, it’s not enough.
The early morning air is cool against my skin. I clutch my violin as I hurry down the disintegrating sidewalk, knowing only it can share my regrets. Each tear that splashes against it paints a bitter, salty message. I’m not alone. These sidewalks have seen and heard worse. Each scar holds a secret; each crack a broken promise. I add my own, leaving them behind when I duck into the womb-like darkness of the subway.
Please leave your vote for the winner of round 5, along with any sort of critique you would like to offer, in the comments below (but remember you must be registered on the Linky List here first). And please tell everyone you know to drop by and be part of the fun. The voting for Round 5 will remain open until noon Sunday (7/28).
Remember, here in WRiTE CLUB, it’s not about the last man/woman standing, it’s about who knocks the audience out!