Oh you storytellers, you! Just look at all the wonderful stories! You make it impossible to choose winners! 🙂 Thank you to everyone who wrote, commented, and tweeted!!
Honorable Mention | Soldier | NJ Crosskey | @NJCrosskey
Cara Says: This futuristic morality scenario is all the scarier because it seems all too possible. Accomplishment withers and fades, as those who have the opportunity to help instead only see opportunity. As Daniel watches his dreams of saving the world crumble, he accepts a devil’s bargain to save one precious soul. Heartbreaking.
Ruth Says: An impossible choice! Oh, what we will do to save a loved one! Fantastic writing and storytelling!
Second Place | Underboss | EF Olsson | @EFOlsson
Cara Says: As I read this one, I grew eager to see this story flip the idea of ghosts in the attic (or spare bedroom) on its head. You didn’t disappoint, as the POV revealed we watched this play out through the eyes of ghostly sisters Colleen and Maggie. Maggie’s line of, “But they’ll come back. They always come back.” peered right into how a ghost story might seem to the ghost.
Ruth Says: My eyes were racing as I read this, hurrying to discover what the hell was going on, fearful for the sisters and THEN … wow. I was so worried I never saw the twist coming!
Winner | Boss | Kelly Heinen | @Aightball
Cara Says: This is a hilarious blend of the pastor’s house and rock ‘n roll kids, with so many zingy lines, I laughed the whole way through. I love that this didn’t take the typical “disapproving church parents” approach, but instead showcased Marcella’s grace and humor. She manages to hope for success even as the sounds emerging from her basement seem to promise anything but. Her final good natured pleas for some divine soundproofing are icing on the cake. Great job!
Ruth Says: Love the mix of love, tolerance, and humor! I laughed just as much the second time through! Really lovely! 🙂
The Winning Story: Untitled by Kelly Heinen | @Aightball
Marcella Rickliefs rubbed her pounding temples. A cacophony of sounds belched out of her basement as though the underside of the house had a bad case of indigestion. She’d begged her son’s band to practice anywhere but the basement, but to no avail.
With all that racket downstairs, they’d better become world famous before the age of thirty.
She sighed and reached for a small, clear plastic, rectangular case. Inside, six bright orange blobs lay in neat rows on a piece of clear plastic backing. She peeled one off, rolled it between her thumb and fore finger and then smooshed it into her left ear. She followed suit with a second blob and her right ear.
She grabbed the Tylenol and begged it to cure her pounding headache. She had a sermon to practice. As associate pastor at her husband’s church, she sometimes filled in for her husband. He was out of town at a conference, so she was leading the service the next day. She envied him the silence he got to enjoy.
With the medication in her system, she went into the living room to read over the sermon she’d written. The floor vibrated and even her ear plugs couldn’t keep out a screech from a guitar. A shudder tingled down her spine as she opened her laptop.
“Sounds like they’re skinning cats or something,” she muttered. “That poor guitar.”
She’d entertained the idea of having her son and his band learn some worship music, but every time they practiced their heavy metal noise, she changed her mind. Jimmy already played piano at church, that would have to do. She made a mental note to have him practice his music that night.
She started reading, trying to focus more on the words and less on the dying animal sounds coming out of her basement. Then, something brushed her shoulder. She nearly dropped the laptop when she jumped and scrambled to catch it as it slid from her lap.
She yanked the ear plugs out, breath heaving in her chest. Jimmy grinned down at her, blue eyes mischievous. His arms snaked around her in a hug and she smiled.
“Sorry, didn’t mean to scare you. The guys are heading home.”
She nodded, rubbing her still-throbbing temples. “All right. Practice for church tomorrow.”
He groaned. “Do I have to?”
“Do you want Margaret to hit you again?” She was referring to the nun that ran the music portion of services. She wasn’t afraid to whack any of the musicians if they didn’t perform to her standards.
“Fine. But after can I work on stuff for the band?”
She hoped he didn’t see her cringe. “Sure. But church first.”
He sat down at the piano in the living room and she smiled. The ear plugs sat forgotten on the wooden coffee table as the sweet sounds of a hymn filled the room. She glanced skyward and begged God to soundproof the basement before the next band rehearsal.