Dan Alatorre’s Word Weaver Writing Contest
today, the second of TWO 4th place winners
* 4th Place Winner *
Dancing To The Silence
by Leta McCurry
Leta shares 4th place with Maribel C. Pagan, whose story we ran yesterday.
Leta and Maribel will each receive a $10 gift card, compliments of author and sponsor Annette Robinson, who donated this prize to our contest.
Also, both 4th place winners get serious bragging rights.
This story has an intriguing title, as did a lot of them. I seriously considered awarding Best Title awards because as we all know, title are difficult. Heck, in Shakespeare In Love he and another playwright are constantly complimenting each other at coming up with a good title.
So Leta did that. Then she created a setting very quickly and a character or two that I found terrific. I’ll save the rest for after you read it, but I think you’ll like this story. I did.
DON’T FORGET: ALL contestants not winning first, second, or third place will be put into a drawing for other prizes!
HERE are some of the AMAZING AUTHORS whose books will awarded:
Allison Maruska, Project Renovatio. Author of the runaway bestseller The Fourth Descendant, Allison Maruska offers an audio book version of her latest hit, Project Renovatio.
With over 550 reviews on Amazon, The Fourth Descendant established Allison as an amazing breakout author. I read Project Renovatio. It is a brilliant, thrilling YA novel that grabs the attention of readers and holds them until the very end.
Hugh Roberts, Glimpses
28 short stories that will take your mind on a rollercoaster of a ride into worlds that conceal unexpected twists and turns. You REALLY wanna win that!
Dana Wayne, Mail Order Groom, Secrets of the Heart
Dana Wayne is all about the romance! Mail Order Groom is a historical western romance. Secrets of The Heart is a contemporary romance. Both are amazing!
Curtis Bausse, Perfume Island, One Green Bottle
One Green Bottle, set in Provence, is the first in a series of Magali Rousseau detective stories. Perfume Island is the second book in the amazing series. You’ll love it!
T. A. Henry, Scripting The Truth
Any story that takes place in post-WWII Britain and has the phrase “She’ll try to do it all while trying to keep the seams on her stockings straight” has to be read. You’ll agree.
Joanne R Larner, Dicken’s Diaries, Richard Liveth Yet
One reviewer called Dicken’s Diaries “a ‘diary’ with lots of amusing stories and indeed it is a cleverly written, humorous book.” Richard Liveth Yet is Richard III as you have never seen him before! Great stories from a great writer.
Yecheilyah Ysrayl, Renaissance: The Nora White Story
In 1922 Mississippi, Nora White has graduated high school and is college bound, but she is fascinated by the prospect of being a famous writer in The Harlem Renaissance – and decides on a change of plans. Techeilyah will amaze you with this one!
and of course, ME
A few folks will be selected to receive a copy of Poggibonsi: an Italian misadventure,my hilarious sexy romp through Italy (definitely a hot commodity, so to speak) as a signed paperback or as an eBook. Don’t even ask me if I’ll sign the eBook. Just. Don’t.
And now, the second of two 4th place winners in Dan Alatorre’s Word Weaver Writing Contest
Dancing to the Silence
by Leta McCurry
The sweat trickling between Macy Tate’s shoulder blades gave her an itch she couldn’t scratch. She shifted the near-empty book satchel from one hand to the other and blew a stray strand of hair away from one eye. Macy quickened her step thinking about the big glass of iced tea waiting for her at Aunt Ludie’s. And today, there would be a little extra surprise. Good thing, too, because nobody else would notice it was Macy’s birthday, least of all her parents.
From the time Macy could talk, she called her parents Pastor Tate and Sister Ida Pearl just like everybody else. Everybody, that is, except Aunt Ludie. She called them Jasper and Ida.
“I just flat out pitched a hissy fit when they said you had to call me Sister Ludie,” Aunt Ludie once confided. “I told them I ain’t having none of that shit. That child’s my blood niece and she’s gonna call me Aunt Ludie. If y’all don’t like it, you can just kiss my sweet ass.”
Aunt Ludie was the only person Macy knew who could get away with saying words like shit and ass. Macy really wanted to say words like that, but she hardly dared think them, for she was pretty sure Pastor Tate could read her mind.
But today was special. It was the last day of school and her eleventh birthday. She really ought to do something brave and exciting to mark the day. Maybe just once she could get away with it. Gripping her book satchel handle in both hands, she closed her eyes, took a deep breath and whispered. “Shit. Ass.”
Macy held her breath until she felt dizzy, but nothing happened except a fly lit on her nose. Blasting out her breath in a big whoosh, Macy slapped the insect away and opened her eyes. She looked herself over just to be sure, but, nope, she was all there. The sky was still blue; the same old houses staggered along both sides of the dirt road were still standing and mean Old Man McKutcheon was still hoeing his garden, so lightning hadn’t struck.
That didn’t mean Macy could stop worrying about Aunt Ludie though. Macy lived with the dark dread that her aunt was going to die, burned to a crisp right before her eyes by a lightning strike from God. Sister Ida Pearl predicted that very event at least once a day.
“Take care, Sister Ludie,” Ida Pearl liked to say, “God won’t tolerate your heathen mouth forever. He’ll strike you dead where you stand one of these days.”
“In case you haven’t noticed, Sister, we all die someday,” Aunt Ludie would retort, “and I’d just as soon go quick in a flash of light as to wither and turn to dust like a cocklebur blowin’ in the wind.”
Macy couldn’t do without Aunt Ludie and it wasn’t just because she was Macy’s main source of information. And it wasn’t because, from the time she was a days-old baby, Aunt Ludie had taken care of Macy while her parents ran the Sole Saver Shoe Repair Shop down on Main Street five days a week. No. It was because when Aunt Ludie was around, Macy knew she was real. Aunt Ludie not only looked at Macy, she saw her.
The only other time Macy was sure she was visible was when she was in trouble with Pastor Tate. That was often enough that Macy was pretty sure she’d never disappear altogether.
Macy’s mother never saw her because Sister Ida Pearl had what some people called “shifty eyes”. Her gaze was mostly always traveling, sliding quick over everything, especially people, like butter across a stack of hot flapjacks. The only time her gaze stopped sliding was when it landed high up in the corner of the room, by the ceiling. She could study that corner so long and so serious, you would have thought the heavenly angels were perched up there singing “When the Saints Go Marching In”.
Sister Ida Pearl gave everyone the same slithery glances, but Macy only cared how her mother looked at her, or more, didn’t look at her. Macy wanted to jump up and down and scream, See ME! Sister Ida Pearl never did though, and of course, Macy never jumped up and down screamed. That kind of behavior was not allowed. Being the preacher’s kid, Macy had to be the EXAMPLE. She was a pretty good one, too, guaranteed by Pastor’s strong right arm and the black razor strap hanging by the back door that he called “The Enforcer”.
Pastor Tate was a whole different story from Sister Ida Pearl. His dark, cold eyes were flat, like nothing was going on behind the surface. But there was; there was plenty going on.
His gaze could burn a hole right through you without even making smoke. He could look at you for a long time, too, without blinking, and you just knew he was taking your soul apart piece by piece, and you prayed he would put it back together before he let you go.
It wasn’t just his eyes. When he got to preaching hell fire and brimstone, he could make you tremble and sweat. But his voice could also reach out and pull you in gentle-like… like slowly lowering yourself into a tub of warm bath water on a winter night. While his eyes shredded your soul to bits, his voice made you think you liked it.
Macy shivered in spite of the sweat trickling down her back, and quickened her step as she turned the corner onto Sandy Creek Road to see her friend, Molly Malvoy, sitting on her front porch. Macy hurried through Molly’s gate, walked to the porch and set her satchel on the bottom step.
“Did you get out early for last day, too?” Macy asked. Molly was second year high school and Macy was just finishing sixth grade, but Molly talked to Macy like she was a real person with a brain in her head in spite of the difference in their age. Not like Sister Ida Pearl who always said Macy didn’t have a lick of sense.
Pastor Tate said Macy shouldn’t be unequally yoked, meaning she couldn’t have friends outside the church, so it was lucky Macy and Molly had each other, for they were the only two young girls in the congregation.
“We have two more days before we get out,” Molly said. “I just didn’t go today.”
“How come? You sick?” Macy looked carefully at her friend’s face. She did look like she’d eaten some green apples.
“I was this morning. I feel some better now.”
“What’s the matter?”
“I don’t know. Just sick. It’ll pass.” Molly looked at her hands clasped in her lap.
“Well, I hope it’s nothing really bad,” Macy said, frowning. Molly wasn’t at herself, that was for sure. Usually she was so bouncy and happy and now she looked like her pet hen was the chicken in the pot with the supper dumplings. Macy glanced through the screen door to make sure Molly’s mother wasn’t nearby, and whispered, “You want to know a secret?”
Molly jerked her head toward Macy. “What secret?” Her voice shook a little.
“It’s my birthday. I’m eleven.” Macy grinned. “Aunt Ludie’s bound to have something special. You want to come for a little while?”
Molly seemed to wilt a little. “No.” She shook her head. “I really
don’t feel like it.” She glanced through the screen door, too, then leaned toward Macy and whispered, “Happy birthday though.”
“You sure you won’t come?”
Well, shoot. Macy lost a little of the spring in her step as she trudged toward Aunt Ludie’s. Too bad Molly was feeling peak-ed. It would’ve been fun to have one more person to celebrate her birthday.
Macy lugged her satchel up Aunt Ludie’s back steps and pushed open the kitchen door.
“Hey, kiddo. How’s it goin’?” Aunt Ludie smiled as she put two glasses of tea on the table.
“It’s hot.” Macy dropped the satchel, plopped into a chair and gulped down half a glass of tea without stopping. She wiped her mouth on her sleeve. “I wish the school house was closer.”
“Well, it ain’t, but you don’t have to worry about it again until next fall.” Aunt Ludie opened a cupboard and took out two cupcakes. They were chocolate with chocolate frosting.
“Happy birthday, Macy,” Aunt Ludie put a cupcake in front of Macy. It was the same every year. She and Aunt Ludie celebrated each of their birthdays with each other because birthday celebrations were forbidden by Pastor Tate. “Did they sing happy birthday to you in school today?”
“No.” Macy took a big bite of cupcake, the frosting sticking to her upper lip like a moustache. “Miss Woodson wrote my name and Sammy Kelso’s and happy birthday on the blackboard though.”
“Well, that just won’t do.” Aunt Ludie burst into the birthday song at the top of her lungs. She couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket but she was loud. “Happy birthday, dear Macy, happy birthday to youuuuu…”
“Thank you, Aunt Ludie.” Macy laughed and finished her cupcake, washing it down with tea. “Why won’t Pastor Tate let us to celebrate birthdays like everybody else?”
“Sometimes it’s hard to say where he gets his ideas, but that one he borrowed from the Jehovah’s Witnesses.” Aunt Ludie took a pitcher out of the icebox and refilled their glasses with tea.
“You’re not a church member. You could celebrate your birthday any way you want.”
“I could, but no use stirring up a hornet’s nest if you don’t have to.” She slid Macy’s glass across the table.
Aunt Ludie’s husband, Theodore Roosevelt “Bubba” Moon, was a faithful church member but Aunt Ludie had never joined.
“Why haven’t you ever joined the church, Aunt Ludie?”
“I don’t hold with all that foolishness, but I go for two reasons.” Aunt Ludie snorted. “First, Bubba ain’t much but he’s my husband and he sets a lot of store in Jasper and that church.” She shook her head as if such a notion was beyond her understanding. “I took him to love and obey, so I obey him as far as going but not as far as joining, no matter how much fuss he makes.
“And, second, I couldn’t get so much entertainment if I paid good money to go to the picture show.” She laughed so hard tears came to her eyes. They never went to the movies. That was forbidden, too.
“I’m glad you got out of school a little early today,” Aunt Ludie wiped her eyes on her apron. “They’s a couple of things I need to talk to you about.” Uh-oh. When grown-ups talked this serious, it was usually because Macy had done something bad. “Ida should tell you this, but I know she won’t so it’s up to me. Pay attention, kiddo.”
Macy wiped the frosting off her lip with the back of her hand, then licked her hand, and settled into her chair for one of Aunt Ludie’s “talks”. This could take a while.
“First,” Aunt Ludie said, “you’re bound to hear talk about Molly Malvoy. Bad talk. Ain’t no way around it, and you need to understand what it’s about.”
Molly? Molly Malvoy? Molly was always sweet and gentle natured. Sister Ida Pearl said she was a respectful child. So why would people talk bad about her?
“The second thing,” Aunt Ludie added, “is that you’re eleven now and its time you know all this anyway.” Macy listened as hard as she could as Aunt Ludie spoke, but hard listening didn’t make the whole business any more believable.
“So,” Aunt Ludie finally said, “now you know all about the birds and the bees.”
Macy was pretty sure she could have lived out her whole life and been happy without knowing, but now that she did know, one part was entirely too far-fetched. “You mean Pastor Tate and Sister Ida Pearl did that?”
“Oh, they done it alright, at least once.” Aunt Ludie grinned. “You’re the proof.”
“Maybe I’m not theirs. Maybe somebody just left me on their doorstep in the middle of the night.” She could hope.
“Nope. Ida got as big as a house carrying you and I was in the room the night you were born. You’re theirs for sure. Ida was in labor a long time, I thought you was gonna pop out before old Doc Killen got there.” Aunt Ludie chuckled. “He was so drunk when he did show up, I practically delivered you anyway. He even spelled your name wrong.”
“Yep. Ida had decided on Mary Beth but he wrote Macy Beth on your birth certificate.”
Macy frowned for a minute, then decided she liked it. “I don’t think I’d like being Mary. Almost everybody’s Mary.”
“You’re right, kiddo. You’re no Mary.”
Macy still wasn’t quite ready to give up on the idea that there had been some mistake along the way, so she said, “But how come I don’t look like them?”
“It’s a fact you don’t, and I don’t know why. They’re both so tall and skinny, you could stand the two of them back to back and they still wouldn’t make a fence post. I think you’re going to look more like me.”
Macy could live with that. Aunt Ludie was the prettiest woman she knew, with her curly blonde hair and eyes the color of cocoa. The men in the church, especially Pastor Tate, were always sneaking looks at Aunt Ludie when they thought nobody was watching, but Macy saw.
“It’s plain you’re gonna be stacked like a pile of new bricks.” Aunt Ludie winked at her. “I see how Gus and Elias sneak looks at you.”
Macy’s face went all hot. Of the nineteen people who made up the congregation, Gus Samson and Elias Badeen were the only teenage boys. “I don’t like either one of them. They’re dumb.”
“No question they’re both trying to carry three gallons of stupid in a two-gallon bucket, but that don’t stop them from lookin’. That’s why I need to tell you the rest of it.”
“There’s more?” Could anything be more far-fetched than what Macy had already heard?
“A lot more, Macy, and you need to hear it. Now, listen to me.” Aunt Ludie leaned forward and put her elbows on the table. “And don’t go listening to any of them fairy tales you might hear at school. I’m telling you exactly how the cow ate the cabbage, so you remember what I say.”
“I will, Aunt Ludie.” Macy sat up straight and clasped her hands in her lap.
“You’re going to be having the curse I told you about pretty soon and after that you could get a baby. You must never let a boy do what I told you about. Never.”
“Okay, Aunt Ludie. I promise.”
“Well, I don’t really mean never. You can do it after you’re married. It’s okay to have babies then.”
No need to worry about that. Macy was never going to do that nasty thing anyway, and right now she was way more interested in whether or not Aunt Ludie and Uncle Bubba did it and if they did, why they didn’t have any babies. “Do all married people do it?”
Aunt Ludie laughed. “Well, it’s pretty popular, so I’d say most do.”
“Why don’t you have any babies?”
A look passed through Aunt Ludie’s eyes, like maybe Macy had accidently stepped on her sore toe. “Well, sometimes things don’t work the way they’re supposed to, Macy, but don’t you count on that. Just figure every single time you do the bedtime diddle is the time you’re gonna get pregnant. So play it smart and save all the diddling until you’re safely married. You got that, kiddo?”
“I got it.” Other people could do it if they wanted but not Macy.
“Well, don’t forget it. If you had a baby before you’re married, I guarantee your life would be a special kind of hell especially with the daddy you’ve got.”
Now, that part Macy believed.
“But what’s all this have to do with Molly, Aunt Ludie?”
Just then the back screen door opened and Sister Ida Pearl walked in. “Time for supper, Macy.”
Macy looked at Aunt Ludie and opened her mouth to ask about Molly again, but Aunt Ludie pressed her lips together and shook her head.
Well, shoot. What about Molly?
It has been my pleasure to showcase these amazing writers. Look for interviews and more on them in the upcoming weeks.
Why did it win? What spoke to me?
Was I right or was I right? Did you LOVE Aunt Ludie? A fun secondary character can almost carry a story.
Here, Leta gets us right into the setting and then we start getting a real feel for the flavor of this place, both in the parents and the aunt, but also the observations from the Main Character. It’s a style like To Kill A Mockingbird, where we appreciate what a younger kid knows and doesn’t know.
I found this story to be a lot of fun, and I loved the ending, too. Well done.
Join me in celebrating this moment with a very talented author, Leta McCurry.
If you liked this story, please share it on StumbleUpon and other social media so our winners can get the recognition they deserve.
Tomorrow, our 5th place winners in the Word Weaver Writing Contest:
One Last Goodbye by Juliet Nubel
If you would like to sponsor our October 2017 Word Weaver Writing Contest and get this kind of exposure for your product or service, please contact me.