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Winter Contest (Prose) - A Stairway to the Past

 
 
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  #1  
Old 12-31-2008, 09:10 PM
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Default Winter Contest (Prose) - A Stairway to the Past


Our prose theme for this first contest of the New Year is A Stairway to the Past. What does that inspire for you? Is it a metaphor? A puzzle? A real stair? It certainly has some stories behind it... so see what you can write!

* * *
Entries:
Members are allowed one entry in the prose contest. (You are welcome to enter our poetry contest as well.) Prose entries should be submitted as posts to this thread. The competition is open to all members of Writer’s Beat, including staff.

Members are requested to refrain from commenting on entries in this posting thread. Please use the Prose Contest: Stairway to Past – Comments thread instead. That thread will remain open throughout the posting period and afterwards, and members are encouraged to let entrants know what they thought of their entries.

Word Limits:
Fiction: 2,000 words maximum

Edits:
Once an entry has been submitted, it cannot be altered. Any work that is edited after it has been entered will be disqualified. If you feel you need to make a small alteration (a misplaced comma, a spelling error), contact a member of staff. If we feel your request is reasonable, we will make the correction on your behalf.

Close Date:
15th March 2009, 12 midnight GMT

Judging:
Winners will be selected by means of a public poll, so you, the members of Writer’s Beat, will choose the winners. After the closing date, a voting thread will be posted. Voting will commence on the 16th of March and close on the 27th of March 2009, 12 midnight GMT.

* * *
Recognition:
The winning entries will be considered for publication in Writers Beat Quarterly, subject to the approval of the editors. To increase your chances of getting published (whether you win or not), make sure your document is as error-free as possible!

Also, the member (or tying members) with the most votes will get to choose the next contest theme.

* * *
If you have any questions about the contest, contact a staff member and we will happily answer them for you. Now sharpen your pencils and your wits and get writing. Good Luck!

  #2  
Old 01-04-2009, 12:17 AM
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Default Finding Noah

The Ark was close.

Anton assumed that, anyway, looking up at the snow-capped peak of the mountain. The next day he would find it. He would climb Ararat and find it. He would try, at least. Just like he had been doing for the past few months.

Three weeks back he'd seen a dead carcass, lying in the ice. He'd been disinterested at first, but it appeared to be a bird. His heart had jumped, then, hoping that it was one of Noah's companions on the Ark. He had took it down, to the laboratory, and had it tested.

Eagerly, he had asked, "Is it a rare bird?"

And they had laughed. No, they said, it was a Spitakavor Mangaghatev - an Alpine Swift. Oh, the shame! He'd gone back to camp, nails bitten right down to the ends, cheeks flushed with embarrassment. Old Beyazit, his Turkish guide, had been amused, though he had surpressed a laugh and clapped Anton on the back.

"Ah, you French!" he had smiled, "you all think things are so easy!"

Of course it wasn't, but he left the old man to his chuckling and had went on the next day. Anton knew that, by now. How long had so many been searching, for something that seemed so futile? There was evidence. Quite a lot, actually. Pieces of wood, here and there. No animals had been found yet, though it was possible. The skeletons of the hunter-gatherers had been found, on other mountains, preserved by the ice. But no, it was unlikely. After all, Noah had taken the animals down, hadn't he? Or so the story went.

He took his bag up, went out to knock on Beyazit's door. Before he could knock, however, there was a sudden cry, and then a thump, and Anton rushed in, breaking the door down.

Beyazit was rolling on the ground, clutching his heart. The bed sheets had been dragged down with him, and they were strewn all over the floor down, torn in some parts as he shook on the ground. His eyes were wide and bloodshot, his back arched.

Anton rushed to help, pulling the old man to sit, and drew the frail knees up to the taut body.

"Stay," he whispered to the man. "Kalmak."

He stood up, uncertain of what to do. He was an archaeologist, new to the world, not a doctor! The village he was at was small; no help was available. There was nothing he could do.

He sunk to the ground, feeling utterly useless as he watched the old man arch once more, and then collaspe on to the concrete floor.
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  #3  
Old 01-10-2009, 11:37 AM
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Default Mariny's Dream

The night was young as Mariny slept and dreamed. This world seemed lively in Mariny's head, kids running around throwing snowballs at each other. The snow was full and a light blueish color a winter wonderland with a town nesseled somewhere between a mountain range. She knew this dream from heart, and knew where to walk to... a tavern on the edge of a this small town with its doors wide open awaiting the few traveler's passing through. Walking into the darkly lit tavern with the red carpeted walls and black tiles on the floor, the bartender glanced at her and nodded.

"Sue, you come for another drink or will it be bedding tonight?"

The bartender said while handing out a white vellian to one of his regulars. Mariny knew that sue was her great great grandmother, this dream had been playing for he life she had time to look it up.

"Only bedding will do Jim"

Sue spoke and turned toward stairs, slowly walking up, seeming to barely keep her eyes open. The day was long and she didn't notice a man leaning back with a gun pointed at her from the end of the hall in front of the stairs.

"Sue"

Being distracted with her thoughts, Sue looked up and Mariny feared the nest moment, played out her mind many times in her head...

*Bang!*

Jumping in her bed, Mariny shook with fright of her dream, her thoughts every night made her fear her dreams. This story continues on and on, every night except for when Mariny was sixty, something felt different this night, something awakened...

The snow at her feet felt more cold, soft... real. she felt herself smile while the kids played and feeling a wind in her face from the west, a sent of burning wood in the air warming the building and houses around.
She walked toward the tavern, Mariny walking this dream, she never thought about it because she knew this dream from heart... the smells of bread and soup filled the air as mariny walked into the tavern...

"Sue, you come for another drink or will it be bedding tonight?"

The vellian getting passed to a lad with a dark cloak that she seemed she knew...

"Bedding"

Mariny sleepy spoke, not noticing his wry smile behind the counter when he turned away.

Mariny knew what was coming and played it out in her mind before she came up.

"Sue"

Mariny went to the next room door, and slipped inside and hearing the rushing of feet running...

*Bang!*

Missing by inches, mariny ran to the kitchen and slipped on water, falling on her back and seeing a dirty frying pan in the sink, she got back up ad grabbed at the handle of the pan and just swung it in a ark behind her, hitting the gunners face that second, sending him to the floor with a bloody face...

Mariny ran for the window and stepped onto the roof, slipped and slid down the roof, landing on a horse that ran off into the distance as sue and mariny got away.

She wake with a loud pecking on her window, mariny sleepy woke up and feeling relaxed, more happy... her nightmare had stopped that night as she had a happy life without... any more dreams.
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  #4  
Old 01-13-2009, 06:26 PM
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Default An Old Friend

The black sword glinted in the sunlight, winking at him like some malevolent eye as it sat atop its throne of broken stones and creeping ivy. The pommel and handle were gnarled metal, contrasting the smooth, seamless ebony of the slightly curved blade. Or, at least it would have been smooth and seamless, if it were polished. He could even see his faint reflection in the thing, though it was altered and somewhat sullied from the burgundy rust that traced it like old bloodstains.

There before it stood the boy, motionless, entranced by the thing, gazing up at it with wide, auburn eyes through a mess of dark and dirty hair. Staring at it, he almost felt himself lost in the hue of the blade, its dark too deep, too endless. The black emptiness of the steel seemed to draw him in and somewhere far in his heart, he felt it longed to devour him.

For those few moments, as boy and blade stared at each other in the wooded clearing, time seemed to take a rest, allowing liquid silence to pour in and fill the void. Then, slowly, he noticed his small hand reaching up toward it and watched with a curious mixture of fear and excitement as his fingers neared the handle. A long forgotten breath had yet to escape his lungs.

It’s as if I’m attending a play, he thought to himself while he watched the hand, as if it weren’t even his own. The ones mother and father would take me to see, and we couldn’t yell or warn the characters. Only observe while one would walk toward certain doom.

He swallowed, but swallowed nothing, for the saliva had long since dried in his mouth as his trembling hand reached nearer and nearer toward it. Then, when his fingers finally reached the thing, brushing against that dark, twisted, beautiful, metal, a voice behind him spoke a single command:

"Don’t."

The voice sounded faraway and near, and Andrew whirled around, but his outstretched hand hit the handle of the blade. Quickly, he turned back to catch sight of it falling right before his face, flashing the reflected light of a sun partially hidden by clouds as it did. For that brief moment, maybe a half of a second, maybe less, the boy watched it’s slow descent, spellbound while it fell through the air as if it were underwater. For a split second, he thought he saw his reflection, brief and pale. Then the illusion broke and it slipped into the grass without even a whisper.

For a moment, nothing. The silence filled to the brim as the boy’s hand went to his face. When he felt the warmth there, and saw the bright red on his fingers, the voice spoke again, this time clearer:

“Looks like it’s marked you.”

This time the boy turned without hurry, as if in a daze, and saw the owner of the voice for the first time: a smiling, skinny old man wrapped in black cloth. The old man didn’t explain his almost casual comment. He simply stood there, smiling that same smile, as the summer wind picked up where it left off and time awoke from it’s doze. A squirrel darted from it’s hiding place and up into a tree, disappearing.

“Do I…know you?” Andrew asked, shaking his head to rid himself of… Of what? He wondered as the clouds wandered away from the sun and back into the expanse of bright blue they came from.

“Maybe,” the old man answered, walking toward him. “From a previous life.”

Andrew didn’t respond right away, choosing instead to turn his attention back toward the blade, which now lay waiting in the tall grass like a great, black snake.

Ready to strike, Andrew thought deliriously, smiling a bit.

“It’s a thing of beauty, isn’t it?” the old man murmured, gazing at is as well.

Andrew thought for a moment before nodding.

It is.

Then he let out a breath nervously, finding himself unable to look away from it. “It’s also a little…” he tried to find the right word before finishing. “…creepy.”

The old man threw his head back and laughed at that, startling a few black crows from their branches in the trees surrounding them. Andrew finally tore his eyes away from the thing and looked to the old man, staring as he wiped tears of mirth from his eyes.

“Yes, that’s a good word,” the old man affirmed, still chuckling. “Although many would deem it ‘terrifying’ instead of simply 'creepy'.”

Andrew found himself looking at it once again and he asked in a soft voice, as if the thing could hear him, “What is it?”

The old man sighed, and Andrew noticed that his smile disappeared for the first time since he appeared. “Something very old, child. Older than myself by many, many years. Old and...searching."

"Searching for what?"

"For something or someone to make things the way they used to be, I think," the old man replied before shrugging. "But that's another story, for another day. For now, I need to return you to your parents in good health before anything else happens.”

The boy shook his head. “I don’t…” He faltered, shaking his head again, a wave of dizziness overcoming him. He put his hand to his cheek again as the wound began to throb. “I don’t…have parents anymore.”

“No parents?” the old man repeated, his smile returning. Andrew looked to him, his heart suddenly pulsing madly as the world and the old man began to swirl in a slow, hypnotic dance. The smile that he once thought senile and innocent now appeared twisted and disturbing.

“I…” He shut his eyes tightly as the forest began to blend into hues of smeared green and grey and brown. “They’re…” He felt himself collapse to one knee, and he opened his eyes to find the old man staring right into him, his obsidian eyes appraising him coldly.

The same color.

As the sword, he thought as the world melded with the old man’s eyes and he felt himself falling.

Down, down.

Down.

Into black.
  #5  
Old 02-24-2009, 09:25 PM
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Default

Little Girl

I wasn’t a little kid. This wasn’t some byproduct of an overactive imagination or from watching too much television. This was real for me. This was my life.

I did all the tricks that most would try. I put my headphones on with the music blasting loudly, I huddled in the corner of my room hoping that the screaming would go away, and I even tried to imagine myself in a place other than here. None it worked, though. I would have my eyes closed shut so tightly that for a mere second I thought I could wake up from the nightmare. I was already awake.

There was a place, once, where I never thought I’d have to do this. It was here—in this house—but a long, long time ago. No use to think about the past.

I wasn’t a little kid. This wasn’t the fairytale that I thought my life would be or the dream that I wished upon the star about. This was real for me. This was my life.

I made the dinner every night by six p.m. The green beans never touched the chicken, and the glass of milk was never spilled. No use to cry over spilt milk. Spilled milk made me cry. It would get me in trouble—just as though I was a little kid.

I remember how it was in the beginning: the nights staring out into the sky, huddled together in a big, warm blanket, and telling stories of when I was a little girl.

Now, it’s tending to my bruised face in the bathroom mirror, telling stories of how I accidentally “fell.”

There was dust on the top of the bookcase today. He saw it when threw it from the spot it sat at near the wall. He threw the bookcase, and then he looked at the top of it. Don’t you clean! He yelled. I think my toe is broken. That’s where the bookcase landed. I dusted it. Then I picked it up and put the books back.

I’m not a little kid anymore. . . But how I wish I could be again.
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  #6  
Old 03-01-2009, 05:58 PM
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Default A stairway to my past...

Once again she found herself trapped in those five white walls, that last time she had no shame in describing. But now, everything was different. The room was no longer her friend, it was no longer a beacon of hope, desire, nor dreams. Everything was empty. Everything was turning grey all of a sudden, but most of all, everything was turning away from her. She couldn’t hear the laughter anymore, she couldn’t see her mother’s bright eyes and her perfect, peaceful smile, she couldn’t feel her mother’s embrace as she walked in that non vivid room. Nothing was there anymore. No more light, no more beauty, no more smell of her favorite Givenchy perfume, nothing…

She felt misplaced!

“This is not my place!!! I shouldn’t be here!!!” she screamed as loudly and angry as she could. “Why did you bring me here?”, she asked the mighty Time.

Once again she found herself trapped in that feeling: that empty feeling of sorrow. There wasn’t any inch in her body that didn’t feel the hurt, nor it felt attached to something. She fell apart just like a shuffled puzzle with no one to put her back together. Actually, everything about her had been shuffling for the past 5 years… even pain – that deaf pain which they always say it’s in your soul, but you, somehow, feel it with your whole wide body; that deaf pain which weakens your shoulders, your arms, your fingers, and then your feet and toes turning you into a somewhat of an unresponsive mechanism, somewhat of an altered vegetable; that deaf pain which, in deed, starts from the heart and radiantly takes over you just like a cunning virus that burns out everything pure and beautiful that you own; that deaf pain which puts into struggle the you who just wants to give up and the you who wants to keep on living but is always amazed of how much you can put up with in matter of grief; that deaf pain which sucks up all of your energy and makes you feel every breath flowing out of you; that deaf pain which in high amounts resembles so much to agony; that deaf pain which in the end you accept as being a part of you, but is never something that defines who you are –.

That deaf pain took over her so quickly, that she didn’t even had the time to realize the nod in her neck that restrained her from breathing. She started to cry. She desperately screamed, and bellowed. Insanely, she ran herself into a wall and started to punch that wall so hard, that her fists turned red in no time. It was like all her anger had burst in at that moment, and carried out everything she had left in her soul. It was like a hurricane: fast, furious and with no positive outcome. Her fists felt stronger than the wall itself. She was so numb from the previous pain that she didn’t feel this one at all.

Now there was color in the room, and that tamed her down for a second. While taking a moment to analyze the blood stain and her reaction, she accidentally touched the cassette recorder with her hand and it started to play. It was the song that they used to listen together and sing along… Numbly, just like a schizophrenic she started to mumble:

“Ain’t no mountain high enough,
Ain’t no valley low enough,
Ain’t no river wide enough,
To keep me from getting to you baby”.

She sat down, near the speakers. Her eyes were reddish empty, and fixed a random dot on the wall. Past memories over memories started to flow in her mind, flashbacks from when she was happy. She remembered when they used to watch “Stargate SG1” and eat biscuits with gem. She remembered when they had their first beer together, when she was about 12 and saw the Carlsberg commercial on TV. She remembered how she used to make her coffee in the morning and how they used to laugh over what happened at school. She remembered how they used to have pizza every weekend at the same restaurant, order the same pizza and make fun of the waiter. She remembered how they used to study together and how she always challenged her to dream bigger. She remembered when she got her first pair of roller blades and started to tremble and cry of happiness. She remembered her mother’s embrace, her laughter, and her warm voice. She remembered her mother happy, she remembered telling her mother about her first kiss, she remembered the philosophical talks they used to have in the kitchen at night. The talks before falling asleep:

“You are my sink” she used to say to her mother.

“You are my heater” her mother used to reply.

“You are my wardrobe”

“You are my pillow… you are my everything.”

At that age, she never understood how she could be someone’s everything. She was so happy. She needed nothing more. She felt as if her mother was still here. While going through all the flashbacks she took another step into the “past drawer”, but she was interrupted by the sound of the key into the door. She snapped out of whatever stage of numbness, and became very alert. She heard each spin of the key, and her mind started to decompose the sound into tiny little pieces of clangour and connect them to the ones her mother’s key used to do. It was the same pattern, so she started, once again, to pray so hard that it was her mom. She prayed so hard to be happy again. But then the door opened, slowly.

Once again she found herself into the past, in those times of happiness, of life and laughter, in those times of dreaming big and hoping for the best. The cassette recorder was her only connection to a time that didn’t even seemed to be part of her life anymore, one that she was thankful for, because now she understood that everything happened with a reason.

Once again she found herself smiling between those five white walls, that last time she had no shame in describing. But now, everything was different. The door opened, slowly, and she was happy again. Her new love had just arrived to their new apartment, smiled so happily, and ran to hold her.

I snapped up from the floor and ran to him, hugged him as hard as I could, and told him how much I’ve missed him. He kissed me and we started to laugh. I realized that the room was never a beacon of hope and dreams, I was. And nothing was turning away from me, I was. I realized that I could hear the laughter, and I could feel embraces, I could see perfect, peaceful smiles, and bright eyes. I was wearing Givency. I could see the light and I could see beauty. I knew that wherever she was she would stand by me, protect me, and love me. I could see everything.

“What happened to your fists, baby?” he worried holding my hands into his.

“Oh… nothing… Just a stairway to my past…”
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Last edited by HoiLei; 03-01-2009 at 06:19 PM.. Reason: fix paragraphs (always happens with copy/paste)
  #7  
Old 03-06-2009, 12:44 PM
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“And how did that make you feel?”
I really wish she would stop asking such ridiculous questions. How much am I paying for this nonsense, anyway? Dr. Parker’s voice echoes throughout the room. I must ignore her. This is crazy.
“How did it make you feel, Billy?””
How does she think it made me feel? How would she feel if her fiancé was a no good, two timing whore? I glance at the clock. Fifteen minutes and my hour is up.
“Well, Billy?”
“Oh, I felt fantastic!
Would she notice if I sat up? This couch is rather uncomfortable and I think my arm’s numb. Fourteen minutes left. My arm is numb. I lift my arm and begin licking its fore in an attempt to recapture some feeling. Bad move! What must she be thinking as I lay here licking my arm? I sit up.
“Lay down.”
“Okay.”
I really want to sit up, but orders are orders. I often glance back at her, her withered face looming down on me. She bares a faint resemblance to Lucy. Lucy is the reason I’m here.
“So, Billy, how did you react when you found Lucy and Carl in bed together? Did you feel most betrayed by your fiancé, or your brother?”
“How did I react? Well, at first I stood there and applauded. I jumped on the bed and chanted his name in actuality”
“Really?”
“No.”
If you ask stupid questions, you get stupid answers.
  #8  
Old 03-06-2009, 03:48 PM
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Default Reflections

He lifts his left hand to shade his eyes from the painful late rays. The edges of his blunt fingers glow with a golden tan. With new-found interest, and the light detailing every wrinkle, he turns the hand slowly for examination. He suddenly realizes that his hand has become his father’s hand, complete with blue veins across the back of parchment-like skin. Viewing the hand as though unattached to himself, he instead sees the boy who had wondered at the malformations of an old man’s hand.

He is reluctant to raise his right hand, knowing the sameness of his inexorable heritage, and instead, touches his wrist with two fingers to feel his blood pumping along thin pathways. As the waning light slides behind building clouds, he lowers his hands, reflexively clutching at dim memories, hiding the palms from too-close speculation. Balling both fists in defiance of the way of things, his thoughts turn back to the hard labor of his father’s hands, and he finds new value in his heritage.

Carrying my father’s hands like relay batons, I thrust them out through time to my daughter and her children’s children, that they might raise them in a distant late light and wonder.
 

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