Every man builds his world in his own image.
He has the power to choose, but no power to escape the necessity of choice.
This week's word was a tough one that threatened to invite cliche. So many of our writers stretched themselves outside of the obvious, though, giving us truly fantastic responses. After reading through all thirty (!) entries, we decided that our favorite of the week was Amanda's from Last Mom On Earth. In this piece, two lovers are engaging in a fantasy that is not necessarily shared between them. The female character seems to be playing her role for the sake of her husband, perhaps because she is working off a debt of her own. It is an interesting relationship and an engaging read:
“You were made in my image,” he whispered with his teeth against her ear. His hand pressed on the back of her neck. Her face was smashed into the pillow. She liked it. It was quiet in here. She listened to the feathers rustling against one another.
“Ask me,” he said into the dark, empty room. There weren’t any pictures on the walls. They hadn’t gotten as far as to decorate the bedroom. “Ask me.” A bead of perspiration fell from his forehead and landed between her shoulder blades.
“Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned,” she said, but the pillow case was in her mouth.
He sighed dramatically. “You have to say it loud enough for me to hear or it won’t work,” he said.
“What won’t work?” she wondered.
She turned her head to the side and took a breath of cold air. Red numbers on the clock were glowing from the bedside table. It wasn’t quite midnight. There were people passing under their window. Someone laughed. The feathers whispered under her ear. “Forgive me, Father,” she shouted.
“Yeah, good,” he said. “Why?”
“I have sinned,” she said.
“Say it again,” he said. “Say it louder.”
She looked at the mirror sitting crooked on the dresser. Their shoes were lined up neatly against the wall. They had only just moved here, to try to start over. This time they would have a proper marriage. This time she wouldn’t talk to the boys down by the pier. She would be home when she said she would.
“I’ve sinned,” she said.Our second place prize goes to Tim Frederick who managed to craft a creepy, funny, relatable tale about the potential minefields of the internet dating world. We love his nod to literary geniuses and relate to the scouring of bookshelves for clues. Third place goes to Karen with her story of a model posing for an angry, demanding sculptor. Karen's piece makes for an anxious, compelling read, and we're left wondering how it will end. Nicely done to all of you.
And now, on to the weekend challenge.
In his book A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway said, "All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know." He continued: "If I started to write elaborately, or like someone introducing or presenting something, I found that I could cut the scrollwork or ornament out and throw it away and start with the first true simple declarative sentence I had written."
This week we are asking you to follow some oft-repeated writing advice: cut the excess. Give us only what we need to know. Don't tell us; show us. Do not start your story before the action. Nobody cares about a car before it crashes. If you start your story just as a head goes through the windshield, I promise you we will keep reading.
For this week's challenge, we are asking you to give us a complete story in three sentences.
How do we define a story? Loosely. There are no right or wrong answers. Responses will be judged by their ability to engage us. How do we define a sentence? Again, loosely. This contest isn't about picking apart the definitions of either story or sentence. It's about creating something thrilling and engaging and whole in just a tiny amount of space. There is no word limit, but you should aim for brevity.
If you think all of this is impossible and ridiculous, I ask you to think on Hemingway's famous flash fiction piece: "For sale: baby shoes, never worn." Six words. At least three believable characters (the baby, the person selling the shoes, the person to whom the shoes being sold). A crisis. A resolution. He did it in one sentence. We're giving you two extra. Not because we think you need it, but because we like the number three.