Word Weaver Writing Contest November 2017: 1st Place WINNER Kitty Lascurain and 2nd Place Winner Suzy Solomon

img_2351-2Today we announce the first place winner of the November 2017 Word Weaver Writing Contest.

AND A SPECIAL SURPRISE ANNOUNCEMENT ABOUT OUT NEXT CONTEST!  Be sure to read all the way to the bottom!If you’d like to enter our next writing contest, here’s your big chance. Click HERE for details.

Actually, I’m announcing second place right now, which means by default the other person wins first place.

It’s our Miss America-style way of doing this, and it’s been a lot more work to do it this way. Hopefully, I don’t go Steve Harvey and mess it up.

So now, without further ado, here is the

22nd PLACE WINNER

OF THE

WORD WEAVER WRITING CONTEST

NOVEMBER 2017

Sabbath by Suzy Solomon

WHICH MEANS

1st

1st PLACE WINNER

OF THE

WORD WEAVER WRITING CONTEST

NOVEMBER 2017

Flight Risk

by Kitty Lascurain

CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR FIRST PLACE WINNER!

Gang, I can’t tell you what a tough decision this was.

  • BOTH stories are amazing

  • BOTH stories could easily have won.

  • ONE POINT separated the two! ONE POINT!

How crazy is that?

But in the end, after putting them both under a microscope and the judges going back and forth, a winner emerged and Kitty Lascurain takes home the big award.

YOU WILL LOVE BOTH THESE STORIES

SO LET’S GET TO THEM.

First, our second place winner. If for any reason our first place winner should be unable to carry out her duties, the second place winner will take over, etc. etc., just like in the Miss America thing.


22nd PLACE WINNER

OF THE

WORD WEAVER WRITING CONTEST

NOVEMBER 2017

Sabbath

Susan Lynn Solomon

“Damn rush hour traffic’s brutal,” my father complained, though the words he actually used were a bit more colorful. Forehead wrinkled, he slammed his hand on the steering wheel.

For all the movement on it, the Belt Parkway to Brooklyn might as well have been a sculpture garden. Car engines revved next to us, in front of us, behind us. That September afternoon was unseasonably hot. As if the rubber had melted and fused to the pavement, tires strained fruitlessly to inch ahead. No auto air-conditioning in our 1961 Buick Roadmaster, the windows were cranked down to allow an ocean breeze to cool us. Except there was no breeze, and the only relief from the monotony of an endless train of cars was a few billowing sails on the Atlantic beyond the wide sandbar that lined the road.

“Damn!” Dad leaned on the horn.

The acrid odor of smoke from tailpipes drifted through my window. Maybe the carbon monoxide would kill me, I thought. Hoped. Dead had to be better than what loomed ahead. Sabbath dinner with my grandparents. Boring. Instead of a night with my friends, I’d wind up watching television while my parents and grandparents talked about old people I didn’t know. Couldn’t have cared less about if I did. If my prayer was answered, the traffic would annoy my father enough that he’d turn us around, and head back home.

“Knock off the attitude,” Dad said.

I screwed up my face. How did he always know what I was thinking?

One day short of fifteen, I sulked in the back seat. My brother, four years younger, squirmed next to me, his hair Brillcreamed back, his shirttail pulled from his chinos.

“Get off me!” I hissed at him.

He reached for my hair.

“Ouch! Make him stop.” I smacked his hand.

Without turning around, my mother said, “Robert, don’t tease your sister.”

My brother stuck his tongue out then tried to hug me. There was a bump when I shoved him against the door, as far from me as he could get and still be in the car.

“Stop it, Susan.” My father eyed me in the rearview mirror.

Fine. Now it was my fault?

“Put your lip back in,” my mother said. “What’s the matter with you?”

Robert started up and I got blamed—what did she think was the matter?

“Can’t you do something about this, Lou?” My mother leaned forward, as if that would propel us past the line of cars blocking our way. “Pull off at the next exit, take side streets. We’re going to be so late.”

Dad stared straight ahead.

“Wouldn’t be caught in this traffic if you’d have let me stay home,” I muttered.

“Susan!” Dad said.

“What? It’s Friday. All the kids are gonna be at Kathy’s house. Not me. I’m gonna have dinner with Grandma and Grandpa.”

I saw my father’s shoulders tense. “Knock of the sarcasm.” Reflected in the rearview mirror, his lips were as tight as the line of cars in front of us.

Mom touched his arm then twisted to look at me over the back of her seat. “Grandma specifically asked to see you.” In the silent language of mothers and daughters, her eyes added, Please stop complaining.

Three weeks ago my grandmother had been rushed to Downstate Medical Center, her lungs filled with fluid. Congestive heart failure, my parents had called it. That morning the doctor had signed her release.

“I can see her any time. Why’d it have to be tonight? Kathy’s having a party.”

“Because tomorrow’s your birthday,” Mom said. “She’s afraid she might not be here for many more.”

“Yeah, but¾”

“That’s enough, Susan!” Dad’s voice, sounding like that of my high school’s principal, warned that his patience had worn as thin as his lips. His blue eyes were locked on the road ahead, searching for a break in the line of traffic, a clear space he could race into and get to his mother a moment sooner.

Just before sundown, we arrived at the wood-frame house in Bensonhurst. Faced with grey shingles—some cracked, others missing—it had stained parchment shades drawn down over the windows of the enclosed sun porch. An antique mezuzah was nailed to the doorframe¾a gift from Grandma’s father when she married in 1911, and left home to live among strangers in America. So you never forget who you are, he’d said when he put it in her hand. I didn’t know if the man in a picture on my father’s dresser had really said that, but that’s the way Dad told the story. And he told it to me every time we went to Bensonhurst.

My grandparents’ house was laid out like a railroad car, with one room leading to the next in a single file. The inside was heavy with furnishings my grandparents had brought with them from Russian Poland. Their house always smelled of a mixture of mint and antiseptic. But that night it was filled with a different aroma. Fresh baked challah. I smelled it as soon as I came through the front door.

My mother sniffed twice. “Papa!” she scolded my grandfather. “Mama’s supposed to be resting. Why’d you let her bake?”

Grandpa’s laborer’s hand ran through his tuft of white hair then rubbed the stubble on his round chin. With a long-suffering sigh, he raised his eyes, as if asking God to explain the difficult woman he’d been married to for fifty years. “Zat voman,” he called her—that woman. “Zat voman,” he said again, exasperation in his voice. “She wouldn’t sit still a minute. ‘We must have challah,Hymie,’ she says to me, like that says why she wouldn’t sit.”

We followed him into the living room, crowded with a sofa, wingback chairs, a china hutch, and a credenza. On each end table was a lamp with tasseled shades and cut-glass bowls filled with coffee-flavored sucking candy.

Grandma’s voice, insistent, commanding, floated in from the kitchen. “Shabbat without challah? A shanda!”—a Yiddish word that translates as something between a crime and a sin. Drying her hands on her apron, her backless slippers clopping on the wood floor, she shuffled into the room. Gaunt after her illness, Grandma’s floral housecoat appeared to have been made for someone bigger. Her eyes were sunken and lined with dark rings, the blue in them clouded behind thick glasses.

“Leban,” she sighed my father’s Hebrew name. Stretching on tiptoe, she brushed back his curly brown hair and kissed his forehead. She hugged my mother and brother then turned to me. “Shenah maideleh, my little one, grown so much and so pretty. Let me look on you.”

I fidgeted with the waistband of my dress, annoyed that I’d been forced to wear one just to have dinner in Brooklyn. “My name’s Susan, Grandma, not Shenah … whatever,” I said. “And you saw me in the hospital two weeks ago.”

Mom pinched my arm.

I shot a look at her. “Well, I haven’t grown up or gotten beautiful in two weeks.”

Hiding behind Dad, Robert snickered. He mimed pinching me with his thumb and forefinger.

My mother turned her back on us. “Come on, Mama.” she wrapped an arm around Grandma’s shoulders. “Let me help you in the kitchen.”

“Nah, nah, Jeannie.” Through her thick accent, it sounded as though she called my mother Dzinny. “The gefilte fish is made, challah’s in the oven. Everything’s done. Only the Shabbat candles to light.”

Again Grandma wiped her hands. I wondered if the dishwater on them ever dried.

“Gefilte fish? Papa, she’s supposed to be resting!” Mom spoke as if she were the parent. As if Grandma wasn’t in the room.

Shrugging, Grandpa looked again to God. What could anyone do with zat voman? he might have said had he not been in zat voman’s presence. “When I visit her in the hospital yesterday, she says to me, ‘Hymie, don’t forget. Go to the fish store. Buy fresh and alive.’ Fish swimming in the bathtub all night. How could a person wash with fish in the bathtub?”

Ignoring him, Grandma lifted a shade and peered through the window. “Sun’s down.” She twisted her neck to look at me. “Shenah maideleh, light the candles.”

I slipped behind my father.

Mom struck a match. “I’ll do it.”

“Nah, nah, Dzinny,” Grandma said. “Tonight Shoshona will light.” Shoshona is the Hebrew word for Susan.

My face scrunched, I whined, “No … Ma―”

Reaching behind my father, Grandma dragged me to her side. The woman had been ill. How did she have the strength to do that? “The prayer,” she instructed.

Again I looked to my mother for help. She pushed me toward the credenza where Grandma’s twin silver candlesticks waited.

“Do it already,” Robert complained.

Mom handed me a lit match. The wicks of the tapers crackled when I touched it to them. Rolling my eyes, I slurred the ancient Hebrew words that held no meaning in my world. “Baruch … atah… adonai … Can’t I say it in English?”

“The prayer, the way we always say it,” Grandma insisted.

“Why can’t Robert do this?” I wanted to smack the smirk off his face.

“It’s a woman’s right to thank God for giving us these candles to light,” Mom said. “You’re a woman now.”

Sighing, I started again. Might as well get it over with.

Her hand on my shoulder, Grandma corrected each slip I made. “Ya, ya. Ist gut”—it’s good—she said when I was done. I didn’t return her hug.

Grandpa smiled, and removed his hat. “A-men.”

“Can we eat now?” Robert moved toward the dining room.

Instead of discussing people and foreign places I didn’t know—which was something I could thank God for—talk through dinner was of Grandma’s condition.

His spoon raised above his bowl, Dad asked, “When do you see the doctor again?”

“Eat, Leban,” Grandma said. “Eat while the soup is hot.”

“Mama, Lou just wants know¾”

“I go when I go. Papa will take me when it’s time.”

Grandpa shook his head. “Zat voman,” he mumbled, and stood to carve the chicken—clearly an easier task than cutting the stubbornness from his wife.

Robert pushed his plate aside. “I hate chicken.”

I elbowed him. “Shut up and eat it so we can get out of here.”

“Susan!” Dad said.

“I just told him to¾”

Mom spoke over me. “Mama, I think I ought to go with you. I want to talk to the doctor, find out what we should do to take care of you.”

“We go at three o’clock tomorrow to the office,” Grandpa told us before zat voman could stop him. His eyes flicking toward my father, he grinned.

Grandma grunted. She said little more until dinner was done, and we’d cleaned the pots and dishes. Then she wiped her hands¾this time on a damp windowpane towel¾and pointed to the ancient Philco television in the living room. “You men, go watch your cowboy pictures.” With her towel she shooed three generations from her kitchen.

I looked at my wristwatch. “Aren’t we going home?” I whispered to my mother.

She shook her head. Grabbing my shoulders, she pushed me toward the dinette table.

Grandma took my hand. “Come with me, shenah maideleh¾”

“Susan, Grandma.”

“Ya, ya. maideleh, come with me.”

The kitchen was warm and smelled of roast chicken. The linoleum curled up in a corner. We sat at the bare table on hard-backed chairs while Grandma placed relics of her past before us. A jade ring, faded sepia photographs, a cast-iron skillet she’d carried from Eastern Europe, a hand-sewn lace tablecloth. Across each she spoke of my family’s generations, of the people who’d given her these treasures.

Mein zeyde,” she said, stroking the gray bearded face in a picture. The man’s arm rested on an anvil. A broad chest made his leather apron seem little more than a patch on his shirt.

“Your grandfather?” I felt drawn to his kind face despite my resistance.

“Ya, ya.” She nodded. “He was … Dzinny, what’s the word?”

“A blacksmith, Mama.”

“Ach, such a man he was, un edel¾gentle. And strong. Wise. Our village looked always to mein zeyde. And my bubeh, she couldn’t wait, he should come home. See,” Grandma pointed to the old woman with soft eyes who stood next to the man. “This is my bubeh. Emma. Such a beryah¾”

“That means a wonderful wife,” Mom explained.

The lines ringing Grandma’s eyes became less noticeable when she smiled. “Always her house in order,” she said. “Her table heavy with food that would make your mouth water. Six kinder─

“Children,” Mom said.

“I know that.” I made a show of looking at my wrist.

Grandma covered my watch with her hand. “—all taught by her to read and do sums.”

Trapped, unable to escape back to the twentieth century, I surrendered. Pulling a photograph from the stack, I asked, “Who’s this?” The young woman in the picture glared defiantly at the camera.

Grandma closed her eyes, and her lips lifted in a wistful smile. “Shoshona,” she said, and caressed the faded photo. “Zaydeh’s sister.” She touched my cheek. “You was named to remember her. Eingeshparht she was—just like you.”

Mom laughed, and looked squarely at me. “Stubborn.”

“I’m not!”

“Uh-huh,” Mom and Grandma said in unison.

“Just like Shoshona,” Grandma said. “To force her to do something was like trying to make a mule climb a ladder.” This was a Yiddish idiom my mother translated for me.

At that moment, I didn’t want to climb any ladders. I just wanted to get home. I might still have be able to get to Kathy’s house before her party ended.

Grandma glanced at Mom.

My mother nodded. “She’s old enough.”

Looking now at me, clutching the photograph to her chest, Grandma, said, “Shoshona lived near Livadia. The Tsar, he came to his palace there. His Easter, for us it’s Pesach. A Shabbat night. His officers came to her village to move the Jews away, so the Tsar shouldn’t have to look on us. What do they call it, Dzinny?”

“A pogrom.”

“Ya, ya, pogrom.” Anger burned in Grandma’s eyes as she described horsemen thundering down dirt roads, into yards. Into houses. Swords slashing. Men, women, children, clutching what few possessions they could carry from their flaming homes. “Shoshona said she wouldn’t leave her home. Not even when those sons of the devil put torches to it.” Grandma stopped and sighed, her eyes moist. It was as if she again saw her aunt disappear into the flames. “Like at Masada, a pager―”

“A martyr,” Mom translated.

Nodding, Grandma took my hand and held tight to it. “This is who you come from, Shoshona. This is who you are.”

The next afternoon Mom and I took Grandma to the doctor. As we drove along Ocean Parkway, I leaned over the front seat. “Tell me more about Shoshona,” I said. The woman had attached herself to my imagination. I’d been given her name. I was connected to her, to what she’d done.

Grandma laughed. “Come again on Shabbat, we talk more.”

A few years later Grandma was gone. She hadn’t died. Not yet. Alzheimer’s had stolen her memory. I was old enough by then to understand the family she’d told me of on the many Sabbaths I’d sat beside her. The more she’d recalled, the more she’d showed me her relics during our after-dinner talks, the hungrier I had become to learn more. “This is who you come from,” she always began.

Now, as her remembrances faded, I would sit beside her on a hard-back chair in a kitchen that no longer smelled of challah and roast chicken, and tell her of the family that made up her past. My past.

Grandma’s stories remain with me, though each year her voice is less distinct in my mind. Still, I recall the sweet perfume of her Sabbath challah that, once sliced, steamed and melted on my tongue. Still, I feel the velvet of her fingers tracing mine while she spoke of the people I was born to. That connection gave me as a college student the courage to take a long walk to Birmingham, and spend a frenzied night in Chicago’s Grant Park while politicians convened to decide my country’s fate. It taught me to sing protest songs in Greenwich Village clubs, and We shall not be moved at countless sit-ins. Seems my parents were right to name me after Grandma’s Aunt Shoshona. Eingeshparht.

I’ve been thinking of this since last Friday. That afternoon my daughter and son-in-law had driven from New Jersey for Sabbath dinner. As they came through the door to my Garden City home, I heard a whine from behind them.

“Ma, why’d I have to come tonight? The kids are all going to the movies.”

That was my 13-year-old granddaughter, Sarah. She was also named after Shoshona.

I grabbed her hand, and pulled her, resisting, into my kitchen. “I want to show you some photographs.”

On the sideboard in my living room were twin silver candlesticks handed down from Grandma. That night Sarah would recite the prayer to welcome the Sabbath.


Why did it win?

What spoke to the judges?

“Nice. Well-written, some humor with a sentimental message. I definitely appreciated the writing. The execution of the idea was excellent.” – celebrity judge Jenifer Ruff

“Good conflict in the beginning, grandparents have great voice, the story and personal connection are awesome.” – celebrity judge Allison Maruska

I LOVED this story. I loved the kid fussing in the car, wanting to be anywhere else. I loved the dad being mad at the traffic. I LOVED the grandparents (zot voman!) The characters were alive on the page.

This was a funny and poignant story with emotions on every level. You knew the kid was going to learn a lesson, but what a fun way to get from here to there. It is brilliant storytelling, and I want more.

Join me in congratulating Suzy Solomon for a very well told story!

And if you’d like to try your hand at this writing stuff, check out what’s coming: a NEW Word Weaver Writing Contest that starts in March 2018! Scroll to the bottom for preliminary details or clickHERE for all the information.


and now, the moment you’ve been waiting for…

1st

1st PLACE WINNER

OF THE

WORD WEAVER WRITING CONTEST

NOVEMBER 2017

Flight Risk

by Kitty Lascurain

unnamed
author and grand prize winner Kitty Lascurain

My hands tremble as I stare out into the darkness wondering what the heck I was thinking.

Well, you did it, Katie. You successfully stepped out of your comfort zone. And now you’re sitting alone, in the dark, in a glorified tin can of an airplane, planning your own funeral.

A gust of wind catches the wings and makes the little prop plane rock. I close my eyes and take a few deep breaths. I can already feel myself slipping into full panic mode, and the airplane is still tied down to the ramp.

After fishing through my purse, an overpriced monstrosity where cheap make-up and half-eaten granola bars go to die, I find my phone and text my roommate, Nicole. “Why did I ever agree to this?” I ask. But I already know the answer.

He’s six-feet tall with a surfer’s tan and a knockout smile—the kind of guy a girl would literally follow to the end of the earth, common sense and a desperate fear of heights notwithstanding.

“Because it’s going to be awesome and totally romantic,” Nicole replies. *

“Is it?” I type. “Because Mr. Romantic just left me sitting alone in some random unlocked airplane while he goes and PRACTICES LANDING or something.”

“Seriously? LOL!” The obnoxious yellow emoticon that accompanies her message is clearly enjoying my predicament more than I am.

“I fail to see what’s so funny about this situation. I really don’t think I can do this. I’m plotting my escape as we speak.”

“Quit being a wimp. You’ll be fine.”

I toss the phone back in my bag and sulk. This is all Nicole’s fault anyway. She’s always pushing me. “Come on, Katie. Live a little before you die.” Ha! Joke’s on you, Nicole.

How did you let this happen?

I try to remember.

He’d been sitting there at the bar, wrapping up his Sunday afternoon surfing session with a grouper sandwich and a Blue Moon, like always. His dark hair glistened, and his damp T-shirt clung to his shoulders.

Grey, grumbly clouds rolled over the little beachside restaurant in dark waves. More seagulls than people occupied the windswept tables, their urgent squawking competing with the tinny, piped-in melodies of a steel drum band. I was trying—and failing—to concentrate on restocking the bar.

“Can I get you another beer?” I toyed with a loose strand of hair that had escaped my ponytail.

“Na. Just the check, please.”

I ran his Visa and brought it back, standing there awkwardly as he signed the receipt.

He stood up and stuffed the extra copy in his pocket. “See you next time?”

“Definitely,” I said, a little too enthusiastically. “I mean … well, I’m always here.”

He smiled. “Must be why I like the place so much.”

I could feel my heat rising in the already steamy Florida air. Please leave before I spontaneously combust.

“Next time then,” he said. His smile widened to reveal a pair of devastating dimples.

I nodded, my tattletale face no doubt as cooked as a snowbird in July.

Finally, he turned and took several glorious steps back toward the beach, leaving me to enjoy my favorite part of our weekly encounter—the part where I hide behind the bar and sigh wistfully while fanning myself over the ice machine.

But before I could even work up a good swoon, lightning ripped the sky open, unleashing a torrent of rain.

“Guess I’m not going anywhere for a while,” he said as he ducked back under the cover of the bar.

I looked longingly at the ice machine and feigned nonchalance. “I guess not.”

“I’m Jake by the way.”

“I know.” I’d been doodling his name next to mine on cocktail napkins for weeks. Mr. Jake A. Matthews, Visa Platinum member. Dreamboat. Oh God.He’s looking at me funny.

“Katie,” I said, giving him a lame little wave from behind the counter.  

We chatted for twenty minutes or so until the rain let up. Jake the dreamboat, I learned, was from California but had moved to Daytona to study aviation at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. He already had a private pilot’s license and planned on working for the airlines one day.

“Have you ever been up in a small plane?” he asked, leaning against the bar.

“Me? Oh, no.” Are you kidding? Stepstools make me dizzy.

“You should. It’s great. The coastline is beautiful from the air, especially at night with all the lights.”

“Sounds amazing,” I answered absentmindedly. I wonder if those sky-blue eyes come standard-issue with all dreamy Californian surfer-pilots.

“You should really let me take you up sometime. We could fly down to Cape Canaveral and back. Check out the Space Coast.”

The thought of actually being in an airplane brought me back down to earth pretty quickly. “Yeah, I don’t know.” I stumbled. “I’m not sure I’m an airplane person.”

“You’ll never know if you don’t give it a try.”

 A logical argument. I bit my bottom lip, feeling doubtful.

“Awww, come on. It’ll be fun. I’m good at this. I promise.”

And then Mr. “Let-Me-Take-You-Up-In-My-Airplane” flashed me this gorgeous, swoon-inducing grin, and I swear, I’m not sure I even knew what he was saying anymore. His teeth actually sparkled. I was basically talking to a living, breathing toothpaste ad in worn-out flip-flops and low-slung board shorts. He is good at this, I thought. Too good.

“So tomorrow night, then?” he asked, putting the receipt that now had my phone number on it back in his pocket.

“Uh, sure.” Wait, what?

“Cool. How about we meet in front of the passenger terminal at New Smyrna airport? Say, around seven?”

Nope! No way. Definitely not. “Uh, yeah, seven is fine.” UGH.

“Great. See you tomorrow then.”

“Great,” I echoed dumbly as I watched him walk away. Just great, Katie.

 

After work, I drove straight home to the safety of my apartment and slammed the door.

Nicole was sitting on the couch, watching Wheel of Fortune and painting her nails, one set of freshly polished jet-black toes resting on the edge of the coffee table. “What’s up with you?” she asked.

I set my purse down on the counter and sighed. “I am unbelievably stupid.”

“Not as stupid as this lady,” she said, hooking a thumb at the TV. “You’ve got to be kidding me! If this dumb bitch buys another vowel, I’m gonna drive out to Studio City and smack her.”

I had to smile. Nicole’s a one-of-a-kind: a punked-out rebel with a heart of gold and a passion for daytime television that could only rival that of your average neighborhood cat lady. We’re nothing alike, but they stuck us in the same dorm room freshman year, and we’ve been together ever since. I adore her.

Nicole still wore her pajamas, her purple hair pulled up into a messy bun. I collapsed on the couch and picked up an abandoned sketchpad full of half-finished graphics for some organic beauty company.

“Getting lots of work done, I see.”

“Hey,” she said, shooting me a sideways glance. “It’s all part of the process.”

I laughed. “Oh, well, far be it from me to interrupt your ‘artistic process’.”

“Whatever,” she said, trying to stifle a giggle as she turned off the TV. “So, what’s up?”

I moaned and sank into the cushions. “I met a guy.”

“Well, shit. That sounds awful.”

“I’m serious! He’s a pilot, and he wants to take me flying … tomorrow night … in an actual airplane.”

“And?”

“And I barely know the guy. Not to mention, I’m afraid of heights.”

“You’re afraid of everything.” She sighed and screwed the lid back on the nail polish, giving me her full attention. “So, he must be pretty cute, right?”

“Well, obviously,” I said, rolling my eyes. “But that’s not really the issue here, is it? I’ve got to get out of this.”

“Don’t you fucking dare!” she yelled, jumping off the couch and standing over me, her hands on her hips. “This shit is totally romantic, like straight out of ‘Days of Our Lives’ or something. You have to go.”

“What if he’s a bad pilot, Nicole? What if he’s an axe murderer? What if I freak out, or throw up, or, you know, crash and burn in a fiery death?”

“You won’t. Besides, this’ll be good for you. In fact, it’s better than good; it’s exactly what your prissy little ass needs. I mean, come on, Katie, when have you ever taken a chance on anything?”

I opened my mouth, but nothing came out.

“Exactly. Get out of your damned comfort zone for once, woman.”

“But…”

“I don’t want to hear it. I’m not gonna let you keep running away from life. You’re doing this.”

I covered my face with my hands and grumbled.

Nicole picked up the remote and flipped the television back on. Her “tough love” lecture was now finished. Defeated, I pulled myself up off the couch and shuffled to my bedroom.

“So what does one wear on a date with death?” I called back to her.

“I’m thinking black, but try channeling your inner Indiana Jones.”

“Not helpful.”

“You’re welcome,” she yelled cheerfully as I closed the door behind me.

One sleepless night and several hundred outfits later, I drove to the airport. I’d settled on a pair of skinny jeans, a white tank top, and my good bra—the one that has approximately three inches of foam padding but makes me look like a Kardashian sister. Maybe it could double as a floatation device.

I pulled into the parking lot. Jake was leaning against his truck, looking amazing in blue jeans and a black polo. He smiled when he saw me, which did nothing to slow my pulse.

“Please, God,” I whispered as I put the car in park and grabbed my purse and jacket. “Please don’t let me regret this.”

“Hey there,” he said as I climbed out of my Camry. “You look really nice.”

“Thanks,” I managed. “You, too.”

He turned around and pulled a red backpack out of the truck bed, dropping his keys as he tossed the bag over his shoulder. He seemed a little nervous.

Is that cute or terrifying? I contemplated the possibilities.

“We’ll have to walk out to the plane,” he said sheepishly. “Sorry. It’s kind of a hike. They usually run us out there on golf carts, but no one’s here this time of night.”

“No problem,” I said, silently cursing my strappy sandals as the latest in a string of poor life decisions.

We trod around the back of the small terminal building and toward my certain doom in an awkward silence. A tall chain-link fence separated the parking lot from the tarmac on the other side. He punched a combo on a keypad, and a gate swung open.

The little airfield was dark except for the glow of the white and blue lights marking the runway and taxiways. An almost-full moon hung low over the horizon, and a few stars dotted the night sky.

“The weather’s great tonight,” he offered, breaking the tension. “A little breezy, but clear. Should be a nice ride.”

“Oh … cool,” I answered.

He looked a little disappointed.

Come on, Katie. Use your words. Preferably more than one at a time. “I can see why you like it out here.”

His face brightened. “Pretty, huh? I prefer night flights. It’s quieter—less traffic, less people on the radio. It’s like you’ve got the whole sky to yourself. It’s nice, you know? To get away for a while.”

“Sure,” I said, smiling. “I totally get it.”

A little color flushed his face, making me like him even more.

“So are you nervous?” he asked, shifting the focus back to me.

I glanced down, studying my offending footwear. “A little,” I admitted. Understatement much? “I don’t usually do things like this. Card-carrying introvert, right here. But I’m trying to be more adventurous, so … well … here I am.”

“Really? You seem pretty outgoing.”

“Ha! Tell that to my roommate. She practically pushed me out the door tonight.”

He laughed and offered me a hand over a small concrete ditch. “I’m really glad you decided to give it a try.”

“Me too,” I answered honestly. I could feel myself relaxing a little. After all, the night was gorgeous. So was the man still holding my hand. It did seem kind of romantic. Maybe Nicole was right, I thought. Maybe I just need to lighten up a little. Who knows? This just might be fun.

 

Well, so much for that idea.

My brief transcendence from perpetually neurotic wallflower to fun loving, free-spirited adventurer ended the second we arrived at the airplane, and my new friend informed me that he wasn’t exactly “current” on night-landings.  

“It’s not a big deal,” he said, looking at his logbook, clearly embarrassed. “It’s just that it’s been a little longer than I thought since I last went up.”

 Not exactly inspiring confidence here, buddy. “It’s OK,” I said, my inner wallflower secretly blooming with joy over the prospect of going for a nice, non-life-threatening cup of coffee instead. “We can always do it another time.”  Or, you know, never.

“No, really, I just need to go up, do a quick run around the pattern, and get a landing in. It’s just a procedural thing. It’ll take, like, 15 minutes, tops.”

I looked around at the dark, deserted ramp. The small terminal building where we started stood on the far side of the runway. There were no outbuildings—nothing but a ten-foot wire fence and a slew of tarp-covered airplanes standing guard like some ghostly row of chained beasts.

Seriously, dude?

“Here,” he said in answer to my questioning glance. He walked to the next airplane over and untied the tarp. When he tried the door, it popped open. “Thought so. They never lock these.”

Oh, great. Now you can add breaking and entering to your list of new and exciting accomplishments. Or is it just trespassing? Either way, Nicole would be proud.

 Say something, Katie.

Say something!

“I’m sorry,” Jake said, shoving his hands in his pockets and glancing down at the airplane wheels. “Look, I know this is asking a lot. But I’m pretty sure that if I let you walk away right now, I’ll never get to take you out here again. I’ll probably never get to take you out again, period. And … well … it took me forever to work up the courage to ask you out.”

 Wait, what? “Really? I … I guess I thought you were just really into grouper sandwiches.”

“Na,” he said, smiling shyly. “Just you.”

I found myself smiling back. Oh, no.

“I promise, I’ll make it up to you. If you let me.”

Katie? Katie. Don’t you do it. Don’t you … “Fifteen minutes?”

“I swear. I’ll be right back.” He held his hand out toward me. “Will you trust me?”

 Hey. You. Remember me? Your better judgment? I’ve managed to keep you alive for twenty-two years. OK, so it may have been a boring twenty-two years, but boring is good, right? Boring is safe. Are you really going to give up a perfectly safe, if slightly boring, existence for this one guy? Really, Katie? Really?

“Yes,” I answered with surprising confidence.

Fine. Go ahead. I won’t say I told you so.

 

Alone in the illegally occupied airplane, I sit in the dark and listen to my inner voice keep pace with my rapidly beating heart: I told you so. I told you so. I told you so.

I should leave.

Yup.

I should just leave, right? Disappear before he gets back. That’s totally reasonable, isn’t it?

Totally.

I mean, does he seriously expect me to still be sitting here when he lands?

Probably not.

Right. He’d probably think there was something wrong with me if I did stay.

I pick up my phone again. I still have about five minutes. It wouldn’t be that hard. I’d just have to run around the runway, climb the ten-foot fence in my ridiculous strappy sandals, and, you know, quit my job. And possibly move.

Oh, God. I’m going to have to do this.

I see lights approaching the runway. I can’t watch, but I do anyway. To my surprise, the little blue and white plane lands neatly on the landing strip, rolling straight down the middle. I release my breath. At least it looks like he knows what he’s doing.

The airplane slows and turns off at the ramp, taxiing back toward me.

Here we go. Oh God, oh God, oh God.

I grab my stuff and get out on the tarmac, shutting the door of my stolen refuge behind me.

The airplane pulls up and stops on the taxiway, the propeller still whirling. A deafening, thud-thud-thud cuts through the night. The sharp smell of gasoline fills the air. Jake, looking like some sexy, Matt Damien-esc action hero in his professional pilot headset, leans across the cabin and pops open the passenger door, signaling me to get in.

This is it.

This is my “now or never” moment.

Run! Run away!

Jake smiles his beautiful smile and pats the seat beside him, completely unaware of the dramatic “come-to-Jesus” meeting I’m currently having with myself.

That’s enough, Katie, the voice in my head demands. This ends now. You don’t do things like this. It’s not safe. It’s not smart. You’re just … you’re not thinking.

I’m just about to turn tail and scramble up the chain-link fence when it hits me.

I am thinking. I never stop thinking! Because if I stopped thinking about my life for one measly minute, I might actually have to live it. And that would be … well, scary … but maybe wonderful?

 Or embarrassing. Or deadly.

Stop! I yell silently at my subconscious. Just stop, OK? I don’t want to be safe. I don’t want to be smart. I want to be … more.

Suddenly, my legs are pumping. I’m running again, but this time it’s toward life, toward my future—however short that future might be.

I jump into the plane and fasten my seat belt.

“You okay?” Jake yells over the din of the engine.

“No,” I answer frankly.

“Do you want to go back?”

I close my eyes for a moment and will myself to breath. My palms are sweating, my stomach is churning, and I feel … happy. Stupidly, deliriously happy.

“You know what, Jake?” I say, smiling. “I think I’m finally ready to fly.”


Why did it win?

What spoke to the judges?

“This writer is very talented. I like her confidence writing in a contemporary manner. It’s great when a character learns and grows along the way and that’s tough to do well in a short story. Would make for great YA or contemporary romance.” – celebrity judge Jenifer Ruff

“MC has great internal conflict, love the roommate, good ending.” – celebrity judge Allison Maruska

What’s not to love here? There’s internal conflict with a hilarious inner voice. There’s external conflict with a guy who might not actually be able to fly a plane. There’s comedy and there’s romance, and there’s romantic comedy. There’s suspense.

There’s a lot to like here.

This was a well deserved victory from someone I want to read more from. I look forward to the adventures of these and other characters.

And if you’d like to try your hand at this writing stuff, check out what’s coming: a NEW Word Weaver Writing Contest that starts in March 2018! Scroll to the bottom for preliminary details or clickHERE for all the information.

GANG, ARE YOU EXHAUSTED?

I KNOW I AM.

Let’s give a hearty round of written applause by way of comments to ALL of our finalists

and

LET’S GIVE A BIG ROUND OF PRAISE FOR OUR 1ST PLACE WINNER KITTY LASCURAIN

I mean it when I say MANY of these stories could easily win 1st place in another contest. They are all winners in that regard, and it has been my pleasure reviewing and critiquing them with you, to help you get to your writing goals as fast as possible.

IN THE FOLLOWING DAYS

we’ll have interviews and profiles with out finalists, links to their works, and lots more. Give me a day or two and I’ll start passing out the door prizes.

It’s been a great contest, clearly our best yet, and I want to thank all of YOU for making it a success!

THANK YOU!

Gang, please join me again in congratulating Kitty for being the winner of our November Word Weaver Writing Contest!

BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!

The next Word Weaver Writing Contest starts NOW! Doors are open for the March 2018 contest!3000 word approximately per submission,

  • NO limit on the number of times you can enter, and

  • the winner will be published in an anthology we release in 2018.

Click HERE to get all the details and to register now and save $5.00 off the entry fee!

THEME: mystery/murder/ and or suspense. Get started now, additional details will be coming soon! Early bird fee of $15 locks in your spot – click the CONTACT ME button to register early and save $$$ plus ALL entries will be critiqued BY ME! Early Bird discount ends soon!

13 thoughts on “Word Weaver Writing Contest November 2017: 1st Place WINNER Kitty Lascurain and 2nd Place Winner Suzy Solomon

  1. Press This was very slow this morning – maybe because of the length of this post. So I’ve just blogged it with a link which should create a pingback on here.
    Congratulations to both winners – in effect another tie. As I titled my post, Two Terrific Tales.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s a lot of work but it’s a lot of fun. The hardest part is obviously reading all the critiques and getting information back to the writer without accidentally letting them know that they really did well and might win the contest or something.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. So honored, guys! Congrats to Suzy, who taught me a thing or two about character voice with this wonderful story, and to all of the other finalists too. Thanks to all the celebrity judges, and a big thanks to Dan for providing this amazing opportunity. I know this must have been a ton of work!

    Liked by 4 people

    • Congratulations! You earned the number one spot and you can see the competitors were really good. It’s always difficult to pick a number one among so many good finalists.

      I’m glad your story won, and I think we all look forward to reading more from you very soon!

      Liked by 1 person

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