What a fun bunch of stories you gave us this week. As always, thank you to everyone who wrote, commented, and tweeted!
Soldier | Honorable Mention | Bill Engleson
Cara Says: Love the atmosphere of this piece, as well as the characterizations and the ending chink in Ricky’s armor.
Ruth Says: Terrific character piece riddled with hard truths that make the reader squirm alongside Ricky.
Underboss | Second Place | Siobhan Muir
Cara Says: Soothing and peaceful, as Cassie releases the sadness weighing her down. A tender moment between the love of her past and (maybe?) the love of her future.
Ruth Says: There is a gentleness here, a tenderness that comes from selflessness, and there are no better hands than Ivan’s to minister to Cassie’s grief.
Boss | Winner | E F Olsson
Cara Says: This tale of a haunted radio is creative and heartbreaking. The antique’s transition from metaphoric connection to the past and those lost along the way to an actual connection is both sad and a little bit scary.
Ruth Says: I was by turns enchanted and then terrified by this wonderfully inventive piece.
THE WINNING STORY
The third weekend of April is my favorite – it’s the biggest block sale of the city. On my third house in I found the radio. It was sitting on a table by itself, in the back of the garage. It was vintage looking, made of wood with brass knobs like the radios of the 1930’s. I thought of my grandfather sitting by a radio like this with the evening newspaper and a pipe burning.
“Five bucks if you want it,” the gentleman said. “Landon loved old antique looking stuff.”
“Did he upgrade to the version with the CD and iPhone plugin built in it?”
“No,” he said pausing a beat. “He’s passed. There was a car accident.”
“I’m so sorry.”
“His mom wants to keep it. I say give it to someone who will use it.”
The radio was well taken care of. After the sob story I expected the speakers to have been blown and rattling – the voices would have a ting to them – but no. I had it set up on my back patio with the ball game on just like grandpa, but I replaced the pipe for canned spiked lemonade.
The game ended. I switched off the radio and sat in the silence of the night. The speaker crackled with static. A man’s voice bled through. At first I thought it was a crossed signal coming from a nearby ham radio.
“Mom? Are you there?” The voice said with an airiness and distance to it.
“Your mom isn’t here.” I said as if the person on the other side could hear me.
“This is my radio. Did dad sell it?”
“Yes,” he answered.
I fell out of my chair. My foot came crunching down on the can of my drinks. My drinks. How many of these did I have?
Another voice whispered from the radio. There was a twang to it. I know this voice and it’s calling my name. My heart raced.
It was his voice.
“Bridge? I’m here, sweetie.”
Tears streamed from my eyes. “Grandpa,” I croaked out.
“I’m fine, sweetie. Felt no pain. I’m doing fine here. No reason to worry,” he said in a metallic, monaton drawl.
Static popped from the speaker. Other voices began to yell out over grandpa’s – screaming out names of others fighting for airtime.
“I miss you, grandpa.”
“I’m always here, sweetie,” he said fading away.
“Mom?” Landon said.
It was a sleepless night. I wanted to plug the radio back in and listen to the voices, but the more I thought about it, the more it terrified me. I jumped at every creak the house made – was that coming from the radio? Is that a voice? Grandpa?
I knocked on their door. Landon’s mother answered. As soon as she noticed the radio she burst into tears.
“I think you’ll want this back.” I said.