Welcome back! If you’re like me, you’re ready for another highly competitive match between a pair of truly talented writers. Since we’re still early in the competition, how about we bring any newbies in the audience up to speed and show them the ropes?
On May 3rd we began taking submissions from WRiTER’s far and wide, spanning the globe, representing all ages and multiple styles of WRiTING. We received 167 entries in all! A new WRiTE CLUB record! Those 500 word samples went under careful consideration by 11 judges and that panel narrowed the list down to 32…which are the ones that are pairing off in the ring over the course of the next eight weeks.
These illustrious WRiTER’s are not only from all walks of life, but they also occupy various levels of the publication world. I’m told by my wife that within our ranks we have everything from newbie bloggers to the recently published. But none of that matters today, because inside this ring everybody stands as equals. You know why? Because the kicker is no one uses their real name…the only name you’ll ever see is their pen name. This is not a popularity contest. The focus here is on the writing, where it should be.
Today is the second of sixteen bouts, two bouts per week, with a new one posted every Monday and Thursday. The winners are decided by votes left in the comment section and anyone can vote. The voting for each fight will last for one full week, so you can vote for a Monday battle all the way until midnight on Sunday, and you can vote for a Thursday brawl up until midnight the following Wednesday. And when you do vote, please let the contestants know what you liked and disliked.
Understand what’s going on now? Good…then here we go!
Here are bout two's randomly selected WRiTER's.
Standing in this corner, representing the YA Romance genre and weighing in at 412 words, please welcome to the ring……..NotAnna.
It’s all desperation. When she tries to look at him the way she’s supposed to. When she laughs with her friends. When she gets a new haircut just to see if anyone notices. It’s so thick you can rub it between your fingers. I can taste it on my lips when she kisses me.
She doesn’t do that very often, kiss me, but when she does, she does it right. Just pushes me up against the lockers when the hallways are deserted, pulls me into an empty classroom, drags me into the girls’ bathroom, and sets her lips on mine. The desperation helps then, because she’s trying not to think about it. It makes her stronger, faster, harder. Her hand clutches at my hair, her breath speeds up, and her eyes close. Like she doesn’t know who I am. Like that makes what we’re doing any better.
When she’s through with me, she just pushes away with a gusty exhalation that mixes anger and regret in equal parts. If we’re in the bathroom, she glances in the mirror, fixes her lip-stick, combs her long dark hair with her fingers, avoids my eyes. I always want to help her fix her hair, want to get that one strand she’s missing and feel her under my hands again. Today the feeling is stronger than ever, and as she straightens her cardigan and sticks her chin up like nothing just happened between us, I can feel my resolve crumbling. She’s not going to do anything.
I reach out, slowly, cautiously, until my hand is resting a few shivering centimeters above her back. I close my eyes for a second and go in for the kill, stroking her hair in a brief, awkward pat. She whirls around and glares at me.
“What the actual fuck?”
I tripped and fell against her hair. Or I have a disease that makes me want to touch hair. It’s like kleptomania. Maybe I want to know what shampoo she uses. It’s definitely not because-
“I love you.”
She shakes her head, shakes it hard. “No, you don’t. You can’t.”
I take a step back. “Maria.” My hands are out in front of me in a gesture my English teacher says is defensive, supplicating, showing inferiority.
She grabs her purse. “I can’t, Jamie. Okay? I can’t.” Her hair whips my face as she turns and sprints out the bathroom, and this time it’s my desperation hanging thick in the air.
And in the other corner, representing the YA Contemporary Re imagining genre with 495 words, let me introduce to you……….Swick
My favorite sound in the whole world is the swick of an arrow finding its target. It's like a powerful secret. And my arrows totally have secrets.
From a high branch in our neighbors’ oak, I close my left eye and aim at a groove between two roof tiles. The air is heady with Manzanita blossoms, but I block out the tickly scent, ignoring everything but that crevice. With a deep breath, I draw back my bowstring.
A sturdy rope slices through the floodlights like star-smoke. When it buries itself in our roof, I press a button on my bow and the arrowhead splits into a claw-like anchor. I test the rope, and triple check the end wrapped around this tree. My lips curl as I hook my sling to the line.
Then I fly over the yard like a human arrow.
I hoist myself onto the third-story ledge and watch the rope zip back to the neighbors’ tree. Gritting my teeth, I raise my window, praying it doesn’t squeak. The last thing I need is to get busted. Again.
The frame whispers up. I exhale a long breath, slink inside, and collapse on my bed.
The light snaps on.
"Do you like being grounded?"
Mom folds her arms and leans into the doorframe. Her glare is more intimidating when she's in one of her power suits, staring down Congress. To me, she's not Florence Nottingham, anti-immigration lobbyist. She’s just Mom: no makeup on her fair skin, ratty old Stanford sweatshirt, ash-blonde hair in a messy it’s-the-middle-of-the-night-and-I'm-stalking-my-teenager ponytail. She's got nothing on the creepers who crossed my path tonight.
Too bad I can't explain that to her.
I groan into my pillow. "Dios, can we do this in the morning?"
"Where were you?"
Yeah, she will totally freak if I answer that.
"What's my sentence? Two weeks? A month?" I slap my phone into her open palm and flop back on my bed. Tomorrow’s the first day of school. That requires at least an hour of sleep.
Two. Two hours would be sweet.
Mom throws her hands up. “I just grounded you for your little stunt this summer.”
She has a point. Last spring, I maybe, sort of, took advantage of Mom’s tendency to sign permission slips without reading them. The “summer mission trip” she signed off on was actually two months in a rural village just south of Tijuana. I left out the Mexico part until I texted her as our bus passed border security.
As a general principle, my mother is not a fan of Mexico.
She taps her slippered foot on the hardwood. "Where were you, Robyn?"
Robyn. A tiny flame flickers in my gut whenever she calls me that. My first name is Dalia. I've only gone by my middle name since Papi died. Not my choice.
I skirt my eyes away from Mom’s determined stare. She's not usually this invested in lecturing me.
Enjoying two talented writers at work is only part of the price of admission, now it’s up to you to decide who moves forward to the playoffs. In the comments below leave your vote for the winner of Bout #2. Which one tickled your fancy? After you vote please tell all of your friends to stop by and make a selection as well. The voting for this round will remain open until noon Sunday. Yes, it’s subjective, but so is the entire publishing world. It’s as much about the readers as it is about the writers.
Here in WRiTE CLUB, it’s not about the last man/woman standing -- it’s the audience that gets clobbered!