Here we go! Today begins the first of six bouts spanning the next six days. The winners will be announced at noon on Sunday and the next round will kick off next Tuesday (right after the ORIGINS blogfest). I won’t be saying much on any of these post because your task is clear…read the submission from each WRiTER carefully and leave your vote for the sample that resonates with you the most. Don’t forget to offer some opinions if you have time. Anyone reading this can vote, so blog/tweet/facebook/text/smoke signal everyone you know and get them to participate as well. Good luck to both WRiTER’s!
In this corner we bring back to the ring with 500 new words.....ART GALLERY
I've been stealing glances at him for the last two weeks. Always reclined back in his chair with his elbow resting on the table, a cigarette perched between his finger and his thumb. Most of us are just so stiff and formal in here, especially me with my hands crossed demurely over my velvet coat and my hair pinned up properly under my hat as I sit on the terrace with my baby sister. His aspect is much more appealing. I wish I could lounge like that in a rumpled white T-shirt and rowing pants, smoking a cigarette and relaxing with friends.
We're both part of the permanent collection here but have frequently been on loan to other museums, so we've rarely hung for long in the same gallery. I learned from the docent who leads tours through the Impressionist wing that he's a Renoir, like me, so I always figured he was just the same old, same old. But now that I look—really look—I see we are quite distinct.
It may have been his suave nonchalance that drew me in, but it's his entrancing, cerulean eyes that keep me looking back. I know he's comprised of the same sweeping blurs of brushstrokes as I am, but from the distance between our opposite walls, he's a defined, striking figure, and his sang-froid eyes are as beautiful as anything I've ever seen.
I thought I'd been discreet in my glances, but one day he caught me. And winked. I’d flicked my eyes away, pretending to examine the long boat in his background, but when my gaze drifted back a few minutes later he was unabashedly staring at me. He’d smirked and tapped out his ashes as he returned his attention to his friends, but things have been heating up ever since.
More often than not, when I direct my gaze to him, he's already looking at me, one corner of his mouth turned up in a half smile that I interpret in oh-so-many delicious ways. That’s when the canvas under me starts to warm, and the heat must be radiating to my baby sister because she's been shooting me odd looks. Something's got to give or soon I'll be nothing but a myriad of melted oils on the floor beneath my frame.
Fortunately, something is going to give. Yesterday his eyes lingered on mine for a particularly lusty moment before pointing with a slight nod of his head toward Monet’s haystacks at the far end of the gallery. The lumps of dried wheat are bulky enough for two figures to hide behind. Unnoticed. Today he repeated the motion and wrapped his enticing lips around a silent "Tonight."
It's not unprecedented for images to leave their paintings for a rendezvous—from what I've heard through the paintvine all manner of things go on in the modern art gallery—but amongst us staid, Impressionist pieces, it's fairly uncommon. I've never done it, nor have I dreamed of doing it. Until him.
And in the other corner, our round eleven winner also with 500 new words....LADY GRIMM
The monitor buzzed at the confidential agency, Nexus Trouble Shooters, in the town of Ellicot. The delivery chute belonging to the mayor of Fortran needed repair. Swaltym was dispatched along with two veteran workers to fix it. He arrived at the transportation module before anyone else. Finally, he was going to get his first glimpse of the über-secretive city that only a select few knew existed. When the module emerged from the long tunnel into bright sunlight, eighteen-year-old Swaltym perched on the edge of his seat, squinting.
Fanned out in the valley below, lay rows of windowless, igloo-shaped houses. Any conceivable open space was awash in gravel. Alphabetical signs clearly identified each street they passed. Reflective numbers twinkled from the front of each grayish igloo. Swaltym didn't see any stores, restaurants, or businesses of any kind, nor any sign of life.
He couldn't help feeling disappointed. He'd imagined something...grander.
The men drove .5 kilometers down F Street, pulling up to the hatch of 573. Only the hum of electricity punctured the immense quiet surrounding the village like a bubble. The repairmen opened the hatch to the garage-like space where home deliveries were made, and examined the malfunctioning chute.
Meanwhile, returning to her workstation from the lavatory, sixteen-year-old Delphi Rotamashew noticed the Nexus crew on video surveillance. As she watched the tall men work, her attention was riveted by the one whose dark hair fell over his forehead and into his eyes; eyes that Delphi saw were pinging about like a ball in a video game. She zoomed the camera in for a close-up.
A crazy idea formed. She felt faint at the boldness of it.
For the first time in her life, she wanted to do something forbidden. Her hand trembled. Her heart raced. Her mouth was as dry as toast before coating it in syrup. Delphi opened the door of her world and stepped into the delivery compartment.
Swaltym gasped. Never before had he seen anything like what stood swaying before him: a vaguely human lump with bony fingers, slack face, and immense irises. It looked like a living potato, with wispy hair gathered into a ponytail. It wore surgical scrubs and stood about four feet tall.
Swaltym realized he was gaping and struggled to regain his composure.
"Mind on the task, newbie," their leader barked. "We're here to work, not gawk." But Swaltym heard the wonder in his voice. Had his comrades never seen one of these village inhabitants either? Emboldened, he stepped closer.
"How do you do? I'm Swaltym." The potato's protruding brown eyes studied him. With a shock, he realized that he was staring at the potato as hard as the potato was staring at him. But he couldn't turn away.
"I'm called Delphi," the potato said in a small voice. "I've never see an Outsider with my own eyes before. I have seen pictures of you, of course, and I've studied you in school." She ignored the other men. She only had eyes for Swaltym.
Voting for round one will remain open only until the next bout starts tomorrow.