Today features the second round of the semi-finals. Remember, all six winners will be announced at noon on Sunday and the next round will kick off next Tuesday (right after the ORIGINS blogfest). 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!
Re-introducing our round six winner...in the far corner...LUCKY LEFT HOOK.
I watch the girl as I have every day for the last five days. She moves around the outdoor patio of the restaurant while balancing a drink-loaded tray. The effort forces an small, apple-sized bicep to form in her slender arm. I imagine her shiny black hair falling to her shoulders as the red stick holding her careless knot bobs lazily. The girl drops her pen and moves to place the tray on an empty table.
As she bends to retrieve it, my eyes meet her almond-shaped dark ones for an instance, and I look away. I'm not quick enough and recognize that she's angry.
Does she think I am stalking her? Probably. I'll have to skip a couple of days. I don't want to scare her. And then again, she doesn't actually look scared. She looks angry with a touch of curious.
"Can I get you anything else?" The waiter, a man with thinning hair arranged across the top of his head, holds the black restaurant bill folder in his hand. I can tell that he wants the table for his next customer as I look around at the crowded tables. He drums the edge of the bill folder with his neat, thin fingers. I can see the speculation in his eyes as they move over my t-shirt and holey jeans. His eyes say, "Doesn't this kid have a summer job?" The waiter smiles, but it's a fake smile that matches his equally fake tan.
"No. Just the check." I steal a glance in her direction for fear that she will disappear into the crowded dining room inside. It's too late and she's gone.
I glance at the ticket that's been placed in front of me and retrieve my wallet. Throwing a couple of bills on the table, I take one last sip of my water and crane forward, looking through french doors into the dining area.
"What's your problem?"
Her husky voice electrifies my senses. I've heard it in my dreams hundreds of times. I don't answer immediately. My rehearsed line tumbles from my brain and is lost.
I turn after a measured second that seems like hours. "I have a proposition for you." The words are all wrong. Her proximity makes me nervous that she will read my mind and know.
She laughs, a brittle sound that doesn't match what I know of her. In my dreams, she is all sweetness. It startles me when she places her hand on the back of my chair and leans down to whisper. "Listen, creep. I will say this one time. You show up here again and my brother will take a sharp knife to your tender and delicate places. Capiche?"
The juxtaposition of her words and what I know of us is almost more than I can stand. I wish to start over, but there's no beginning that would be right.
"Seiko, I need your help." I think of the photograph in my wallet.
And the opponent...our round eight winner...SPECTRAL
That night, Shay tossed in her bed, unable to sleep. She stared out her window at the scythe-like moon suspended in an ocean of blackness. Faint glimmerings of stars pinpricked the sky here and there, but they weren’t enough to lighten her room much. Wind battered the side of the house, causing the timbers to creak, and then it subsided. It was suddenly quiet. Too quiet.
Even her breathing and the rustling of the sheets as she sat up sounded loud. The darkness around her was menacing, as though it was trying to crush her back down onto the mattress, swallowing up even the faint outlines of her closet and shelves as a cloud consumed the moon. Shay shook herself angrily. She’d never been afraid of the dark before. What was the matter with her?
Then a noise interrupted the silence—a faint shuffling, as though made by tiny feet on the grassy carpet below her window. Maybe there was a deer or a rabbit outside.
Shay closed her eyes, settling back down, forcing herself to breathe slowly in and out, in and out. There. She was fine. Her window creaked and she opened her eyes wide to stare at it frantically. She sighed in annoyance at her own jitteriness. There was nothing there. Of course there wasn’t—her room was two stories above the ground.