The flash of paparazzi cameras blind my eyes. The crowd is in silence, the silence of parachute doors and church pews. As I walk toward the podium, the plush red carpet makes my heels wobble. The award, gold and glowing, the award is mine. It’s… it’s a Writer Unboxed t-shirt and mug!
Sorry, was I day-dreaming? Not completely….
Writer Unboxed recently announced the winners of the “7 Sizzling Sundays of Summer Flash Fiction Contest” and my story won 2nd place! Writer Unboxed spotlights a plethora of published authors, agents, and editors who share their wisdom on the craft and business of writing. It’s a website that has been listed in Writer’s Digest as one of the “101 Best Websites for Writers” for the past six years in a row. It does a fantastic job of “unboxing” the writer’s life.
The contest went a little something like this: Each week for a total of seven weeks, contestants had 48 hours to write a 250 word piece of flash fiction that was inspired by a particular drawing by Debbie Ohi. A combination of judges’ discretion and weekly votes distilled winners from hundreds of fantastic stories. A total of 21 finalists made it to the last round. Mine was one of them, along with two other members of my MUG Writer’s Group - Taylor Ross and Anthony Lanni. It was an amazing experience to share this contest with my Mugsters. Cheering each other on and sharing in the praise, we realized how much our writing has grown over the years since our first meeting years ago. It made us realize how strong our group has become to be able to encourage each other even in a competition. Truly, that’s the best prize for me.
Here’s the winning story below (as well as linked here):
A monster lives in my bedroom and his name is Gary. My parents don’t believe me. Tonight, if I sit in the hallway, cold and shivering, then maybe they will believe me. Maybe they will believe that Gary has two dog heads and a scaly tail. Maybe they’ll believe that Gary reads me fairy tales like Beauty & the Beast and Snow White. He even has a different voice for each of the dwarves.
But, my dad doesn’t usually come upstairs until long after midnight. Sometimes he tumbles against the walls like a lumbering giant, and Gary perks his head up, ready to leap at the monster in the hall. My mother, she doesn’t ever leave her bedroom except to eat bowls of cold chicken soup. Every night, she slips two red pills into her mouth and disappears into silence. I bet she never dreams of fairy godmothers or flying on the back of a winged beast.
The hallway feels like an icy tunnel. Goosebumps rise on my arms and my eyes droop from the darkness. I just want my parents to believe that a monster lives in my room.
“Come back to bed,” Gary says, waving me over with his soft white paw.
I follow him back to my bedroom where he can protect me from empty hallways.