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WRiTE CLUB 2013 / Play-off Round One - Bout 3

We continue on in the the play-off rounds at a rapid fire pace.  I will be posting one contest per day this week (Mon-Fri) and four next week (Mon-Thur).  The voting for all nine bouts will remain open until noon on Sunday, September 22nd. 

Your task remains simple…read the submission from each WRiTER carefully and leave your vote for the sample that resonates with you the most.  Whether you've been following along from the beginning and have a familiarity with each of them, or this is your first time's just a matter of choosing the one you feel deserves to move forward. If you haven’t already done so in the previous rounds, please offer some critique if you have time.  Anyone reading this can vote (after signing up on this LinkyList) so blog/tweet/facebook/text/smoke signal everyone you know and get them to take part in the fun.  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. 

Here’s something else to keep in mind for this round...every vote counts. That’s because the contestant who doesn't win their bout but garners the most votes amongst all of the other losers, will become a wildcard winner and still advance to round 2. 

The winners will be posted late in the afternoon on September 22nd and then round 2 will kick off the following Monday with all new 500 word submissions from the nine advancing contestants.

Good luck to all of the WRiTER’s!

And now…..

In this corner welcome back to the ring for a second time.....The Scribbler.

It was almost as if they didn’t remember they were at a public pool. With children. I watched them covertly, glad of the sunglasses that shielded my gaze. Not that they noticed anyone. Their faces were close together, her legs wrapped around him as he held her up with hands under her, well, her buttocks. I blushed and looked away but couldn’t help looking back.

She was garish, who wore make up to a pool let alone that much? He was, well, a redneck meets inner-city San Francisco. But it was the expression on their faces that drew me.

How long has it been since my husband looked at me that way? How long since I glowed like that? Knowing myself to be the object of his affections.

A tug on my arm distracted me. “Yes dear?” I asked my fifteen month old. “Oh look, a ball. Throw it to mommy.”

I hadn’t even realized our marriage was missing anything until I saw them and, shocked, thought ‘we used to be like that!’ I tried to remember the last time my husband and I had been that way; oblivious to the surroundings. Three…four…maybe five years ago.

“Good throw, baby. Mommy will throw it back now. Catch.” Now here I was sitting in a one foot deep kiddy pool playing catch with someone who couldn’t even talk. “Oopsie. You’re ok. It’s just water, wipe it off. Stop crying. You splash all the time in the tub.”

A wave of loneliness swept over me and tears pricked my eyes. Again I was grateful for the glasses. I didn’t dress up much anymore, or curl my hair. But had that happened after he stopped looking at me or before? I couldn’t remember. Or was it one of those vicious cycles everyone kept talking about. I didn’t know what they were but they sounded unpleasant.

Is it me? I looked at the pooch on my tummy covered by a t-shirt. And my thighs were flabby, but modestly covered by a swim skirt. It might look a little grandmotherly but how else would I hide the cellulite?

“Time to go baby.” I gathered up the swim floaties, water toys, sippy cup, and cracker wrappers that littered our chair, stuffing them into the already full beach bag. “We’ve got to make dinner for daddy.” Daddy who would sit, head bowed and nod indifferently to my recitation of our day, even though he had asked. Then he would sit down with the paper. At least he would keep the baby on his lap so I could get something done.

I remembered the glow in the girls face as she wrapped her arms around the boy. Would my husband would even look at me tonight.

“Yes, we’ll come back tomorrow.” I hoped the couple wouldn’t be here then.

And taking the spot on the other side of the ring for their second go-around...Philangelus.

Friday night I spend exactly as a woman of my stature should: on her knees in front of her mother's toilet.

And I have my niece with me. Won't my brother be proud?

Actually, Randy will be proud. After Amber phoned from school five times, I agreed to get her early. Then as I was about to leave, I got a call from my mom because the toilet was busted.

It says something about Amber's current social situation that repairing a toilet with her maiden aunt is the best game in town. She perches on the bathtub's edge, churning out one unending sentence about girls with nothing better to do than remind her of the ways she is their inferior.

"Hand me the wrench." Amber watches me tighten the shutoff valve and then flush to release as much water as possible. An inch remains, so I soak it up with a ratty Mickey Mouse towel.

Amber stops her monologue. "Where'd you learn to do this?"

"One of the best things a woman can do for herself is learn to fix a toilet." I huff as I rummage in the tool box for the WD-40. "For your sixteenth birthday, ask for a set of Craftsman tools and learn to use them."

My mother huffs. "She'd be better off learning to apply makeup."

"You need the makeup to bat your eyes at a guy so he'll fix your toilet. Skip a step." The inside of the tank is dry, and everything is lubricated. "This is the inlet supply for the tank. You'll remember to turn off the shutoff valve, right? Because that's important. Otherwise we'd all get sprayed when I do this." I disconnect the inlet supply and am rewarded with no gush of water. Wouldn't that be embarrassing?

Mom says, "A husband isn't good only for fixing toilets," and she walks out.

My mother was a single mom all those years. When she got my uncle to do maintenance or install a ceiling fan, I used sit by the wall listening to Uncle Mickey. "This is a circuit breaker," "You spread on the joint compound thin," "Let me tell you about the time I forgot to test to see if the wire was live," and all for an audience of one. He didn't realize I was deciphering how the world got put together, and that I could put together a world by myself when I rejected the one my mother had ready-made for me.

Amber says, "Did you study engineering?"

I laugh. "Most engineers can design a bridge but can't change their own oil." I know--I listen to their phone conversations while they're paying me to change it.  "I squeaked through college with a degree in Family Studies. I hadn't thought beyond graduation."

Shocked, Amber says, "They tell us to have a plan."

"No one told me that." Well, no one but Bucky, who spouted enigmatic speeches like "You're graduating in a month. Have you thought about getting a job?"

Leave your vote and we'll see you back here tomorrow for the next exciting match-up!

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


  1. These two are equally well-written. It's a shame they are up against each other.

    I'm going to vote for Philangelus only because if I had to pick one to keep reading, I'd rather learn more about the self-sufficient toilet-fixer than the sad, neglected wife. Plus the opening is very clever, making up think one thing and having it turn out to be completely different.

    1. ^This! The writing skill is neck-and-neck with these two - it's the strength of the narrator that puts Philangelus ahead for me. Go go sharp-tongued toilet-woman!

  2. Wow -- very tough choice today. Two pieces that I both liked and voted for in the first round, both with first-person female MC's the reader can identify with and care about. Both have writing to admire, and I'd keep reading both, so I have to split hairs to try and choose.

    I'm going with Philangelus simply because I find the MC a little stronger and interesting. I like her self-sufficiency and spark a little more than Scribbler's MC, who focuses on perceived flaws with herself as she wonders why the romance has left her marriage.

  3. Tough vote for me today, but i'm going with Philangelus

  4. I really like both of these. I enjoy the pacing in Scribbler's, how it goes back and fourth between her observations and talking to the toddler. I can easily see it.

    But my vote goes to Philangelus because the MC is intriguing, and I really feel part of the scene. I like the voice of the character and want to know more of what's going on with her story.

  5. The Scribbler for me. There's this aching, melancholy feel to it that really grabs me.

  6. I enjoyed both of these pieces the first time around but I absolutely love the piece from Philangelus so it gets my vote.

  7. Hi Don - well you're keeping everyone on their toes ... Philangelus for me .. cheers Hilary

  8. Philangelus's confused me. I'm not a fan of coy info and late reveals.

    I vote for The Scribbler.

  9. Philangelus! This is one that's particularly stuck with me from the first round...or match...or whatever.




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