6 tiny little minutes! If I hadn't run to Home Depot that morning or seeded the lawn or planted those flowers before the rains came ......If I'd taken a shorter shower or skipped making the kids blackberry waffles that morning....
I had a great idea for Angela Hoy's 24 hour Spring short story contest and missed the hard and fast deadline of noon by 6 measly, stinkin' little minutes. Sigh. Sure, the $5 entry fee and the $300 first place prize aren't worth agonizing over, but it's the principle of the thing.
I'm great about making deadlines and ruthlessly trimming word counts, as a freelance writer. When it comes to creative writing and editing my two novels in progress, it's hard to put aside the Mama mantel and claim that time for myself. I've subscribed to Writers Weekly forever, but haven't entered one of their contests in years, and I was looking forward to it. It was going to be a weekend of decadent creative writing. Just for me. Just for fun. Then life intruded.
We were given the topic and word count at noon on Saturday. But we had a busy weekend, so I started my story late on Sunday morning and frantically wrote as noon approached too rapidly. I finished at 5 till, but had to scare up the posting directions, add contact info and then trim the dreaded word count to under 900. That's not an easy feat and ended up taking 11 minutes......6 more than I had.
I slammed my finger on the send button and held on to the tiny glimmer of hope that Angela's computer was in a slower time warp where noon central time happened around quarter after or that she'd have a little compassionate grace time.. My kids' school has a policy that the bell rings at 9:00am, but tardy slips start at 9:10. That 10 minute window has saved our skins many times. That tiny glimmer was squelched with the following e-mail:
I'm sorry but your story was sent and received 6 minutes after the
I'm going to post the topic and my story here, so it doesn't completely go to waste. Maybe I'll expand it into a children's book. My husband's words to the kids ring in my disappointed ears, "All that writing is not a waste of time, even though Mama missed the deadline. That's what you call honing your skills." Oh yeah. That's why I married the guy.
There's always the 24 hour Summer short story contest. I've learned my lesson about being queen of the Procasta Nation and I've already entered for July.
"The contests usually fill up, so don't delay in entering. http://www.writersweekly.com/misc/contest.php"
SPRING 24 HOUR SHORT STORY CONTEST TOPIC!
"Silly Scilla, silly Scilla," the young girl sang, as she
pushed another tiny blue flower into her hair. She knew she
would have to remove these adornments before they returned to
the house. When Mamm gently cleared her throat, the girl
remembered the tiny celery seeds that had been spilling out
of her apron all morning.
She sighed and settled down in an empty row, digging her bare
toes into the cool soil. She froze when her foot bumped
something hard. Scooping the dirt aside with her fingers, she
found a tiny, tattered purse. Glancing at her mother to
ensure her secret treasure was still a secret, she opened the
WORD COUNT: Stories for today's topic must not exceed 900
Your story must touch on this topic in some way to qualify.
During each contest, several writers ask if they must quote
from the topic directly. No, you don't. You are even
permitted to change the gender and age of the character(s).
But, it must be obvious to us that the story was written
specifically for this assigned topic.
Cyan Blue and The Scilla Scylla Adventure
The first cold drops of spring rain were beginning to fall and cling like tiny bubbles from branches of the willow tree. Vibrant green buds of leaves were visible, and as the young girl looked up at them, a raindrop hit her cheek and ran down from her huge, blue eyes.
"Silly Scilla, silly Scilla," the young girl sang, as she pushed another tiny blue flower into her hair. She knew she would have to remove them before she entered the house. At age 6, she was fond of telling everyone that she had a blue name, blue eyes, and that her favorite color in the world was cobalt blue. She gravitated toward blue in general, but she especially adored the vibrant blue Scilla flowers that peppered her city yard.
Mama gently cleared her throat from the back porch of their Chicago frame two story, and said, “Cyan Blue, you’re going to get soaked, girl. You’d better come in and finish planting the veggies when the rain lets up. And please leave your shoes and all those Scilla flowers in the mudroom. I just finished dumping out four of your magic flower potions and don‘t want to see you making any more indoors. All those stems and seeds and milkweed fluff and shampoos and lotions clog the drain and make such a mess, when they inevitably get spilled.”
“But, Mama. The fairies tell me how to mix those potions. They’re special to me. Don’t dump them out! I’m a witch.”
The girl remembered the tiny celery seeds that had been spilling from the pocket of her patchwork apron, part of her Pippi Longstocking Halloween costume. She sighed and settled down in an empty row, digging her bare toes into the cool soil. She froze when her foot bumped something hard. Scooping the dirt aside with her fingers, she found a tiny, tattered purse.
Glancing at her mother to ensure her secret treasure was still a secret, she opened the clasp. The purse contained one ancient looking coin, bronze and green and about the size of a half dollar. She glanced at the porch again, and saw her Mother’s back receding through the open doorway. Cyan scrutinized the coin as she carefully flipped it over in her tiny palms.
She was just finishing kindergarten and learning to read, but she laboriously sounded out the words embossed on the coin, Sssss…ill…aaaaa. Scylla? She dropped the coin in surprise and it fell on the deep black, organic soil in a clump of blue flowers. “Silly Scylla….silly Scylla…..silly Scylla?” Cyan whispered in awe, glancing from the crusted coin to the tiny blue flowers.
This side bore a sea monster; a mermaid with a graceful fish tail and four dog heads ringing her waist. She gently picked up the coin and noticed the mermaid had turned her head and the dogs were barking and snarling! As Cyan stared in fascination, the maiden spoke.
“Your words have woken me from my slumber. You, a pure and innocent child, chanted my name 3 times and have broken the spell I was sealed in all these long years. I am Scylla and you have nothing to fear from us, child. The dogs relaxed and began to lick her hands.”
“Are you a mythical creature?” Cyan fearlessly retorted.
The mermaid nodded and a single tear glittered in her bronze eye. “I was once a beautiful child with long, tangled brown curls and big eyes, like you. I grew into an irresistibly gorgeous nymph and charmed all I saw. But Poseidon loved me and his Mother, Amphitrite, Queen of the sea, grew so jealous, she transformed me into a sea creature.”
Cyan nodded solemnly as the rain drops dripped from the long tendrils of her hair and splashed upon Sylla and her sea dogs. “I can gift you a protection spell from jealous Mothers and others, for I can see already, that you will grow to be quite beautiful.” Sylla smiled at Cyan and closed her eyes. The coin flared bright and Cyan dropped it in shock as a jolt of heat infused her palm. Gingerly, she retrieved the coin, only to see a blank surface where the mermaid had just been.
Cyan quickly flipped the coin over and saw with relief that the flip side was still embossed. The picture was a disturbing sea monster with flippers for arms and legs and a giant mouth that took up her whole face. Curving around the edges, was a long, complicated name. “Ch…Arrrr…YIIB Dis……….Char….ryb…dis….Charybdis?” Cyan gamely whispered.
Just like before, the image on the coin wavered and shimmered in the falling rain, and this sea creature, too, began to speak. “You have woken me from my slumber, sweet innocent. I am Charybdis, and though I have destroyed cities great and sailors many, you have nothing to fear from me. 3 times you spoke my name, to break my ancient chains.”
Cyan’s curious eyes devoured every detail of the ancient coin and it’s hideous figure. “Were you a beautiful nymph, too, like Sylla?” she finally asked.
“Something like that. I was a breathtakingly beautiful Niad, the daughter of Poseidon and Gaia. But I loved my father and got carried away with my own power and strength. I flooded so much land for my Father, that Zeus got angry and turned me into a hideous sea beast. I‘m eternally grateful you freed me. So I can gift you a protective spell, in thanks. I can already tell, you will grow up strong, but this spell will temper your strength with wisdom so you will only use your power for the good of humankind."
Again, Cyan felt a searing heat and dropped the coin. The rain droplets turned to a deluge, and the coin sank from view. With a smile on her face, Cyan rose and ran into her home.