It’s nearly the weekend. And this weekend, I’m gearing up to write. It’s the Midwest Writing Center’s Annual Iron Pen Contest.
For this contest, a writing prompt is supplied at 5 p.m. on Friday. Entrants then have 24 hours to write a poem or prose piece of fiction or nonfiction.
I entered with a fiction story a few years ago and it was quite fun. I haven’t had the time the past few years to do so, but, this year I’m making the time.
Of course, it falls on a weekend with many other fun possibilities marked on my calendar. But this contest is once a year. There are other times and possibilities for these other activities throughout the year.
If I wasn’t writing this weekend, you may have found me selling Lilla Rose at a friend’s vendor fair or at the Wapsi Education Center’s Cocoa Picasso.
Well, the first option would have been difficult since my other half will be attending the annual Men’s Retreat at our church. It also means he will be gone for the morning which will mean writing time will be scarce. Here’s to hoping the babe naps and the older two behave themselves or entertain the little. Since two of these dear ones were sick this past week, it helped me decide that we weren’t going to do a lot of running out and about this weekend, which makes more writing time.
However, there is one other factor that has the potential to disrupt writing time. It’s going to be in the 60’s in February. Go outside? Yes, please!!!!
Yet, I’m determined to come up with an entry in the fiction category. It’s good practice. It’s fun. What’s to loose?
Well, I suppose sleep is a possibility. I’m determined to get my full nights sleep. This means my great idea better not come when I’m heading to bed or what comes before must be written enough that I can turn my brain off. So, I’ll hope for maybe 4 hours of writing time?
So, with that being said, I have a question for you? Who likes samples?
Yes, samples are great aren’t they? Especially when they’re free.
While I’m preparing my contest piece/practice/sample I thought I’d share a writing sample of mine. I’ll treat you to the story I entered last time. Enjoy and wish me luck. I promise to let you know how this little sliver of my journey goes. Continuing on this journey until next time…………….
The prompt for this piece (or how I used it in this story) appears in a quotation box and then in italics. Please, feel free to critique. Also, anyone want to take any guesses as to the place that I based this setting on?
Where was the moon? Of all nights, Kyle needed it to be out tonight. He stuck his hands in his pockets and paced along the river walk, taking another look into the dark sky. No stars. No moon. The weather forecast was wrong; the meteorologist had called for clear skies. There was no way tonight would be right, if he didn’t have the moonlight.
Kyle hung his head low. Melissa would be here in 20 minutes. He’d arrived early to settle his nerves; so everything could be perfect. It had been a beautiful and warm, sunny fall day. There hadn’t been a cloud in the sky. But by the time he reached the river’s edge, he’d met a moonless sky. Now his nerves were bundled into a knot that settled in the middle of his stomach. But he couldn’t postpone; it was their night.
He kicked at a crack in the trail as he walked, as if it would diffuse the frustration he felt. He glanced back at the sky. It was still dark, but as he scanned the horizon, the towering buildings of the familiar downtown skyline were out of view. When had he started wandering instead of pacing? How far had he gone and what time was it? His heart rate ticked faster than his wrist watch. He fingered for the button to illuminate the time: 8:55. He had five minutes to get back.
He picked up his pace and did a slight jog. He turned his mind to looking to the future with the woman of his dreams. Kyle took a deep breathe. Tonight didn’t have to be perfect if it meant the rest of his life would be with Melissa. Yet as he jogged, he found himself pleading a prayer, “Lord, give me back the moon.”
Finally, after a quick sprint, he slowed to a walking pace to their usual meeting spot, but Melissa wasn’t there. His watch said 9:06. Melissa was always on-the-dot punctual. He waited on their bench overlooking the river, under the giant old oak tree. Kyle leaned forward, his elbows on his thighs. He reminisced over the first night he met Melissa – in the exact same place, exactly a year ago. It was a rather chilly night when she’d stopped directly in front of him. She leaned over the rail that bordered the river. The moon cast a yellow glow onto her long, wavy, dark hair; same as it did on the water. She’d immediately pulled a phone from her back pocket, looked at the screen, and returned the phone. At the same time, she dropped one of her gloves. Kyle stood and picked up her glove. He approached her gently, “Ma’am, you’re glove.”
The woman jumped, obviously startled by his presence, but responded with a polite, “Thank you.” He overlooked the water a moment and then introduced himself. At first she seemed a bit hesitant to share anything with a stranger, but they enjoyed a short conversation and he’d asked for her number. Their first date was here; their first kiss was here – under the moon. His mind trailed off to how Melissa had changed his life over the last year. She had become a constant in his life, just as there was always a moon, even if he couldn’t see it.
~ ~ ~
Kyle looked through the park toward the street. It was almost 9:30. Melissa still had not arrived and he began to worry. He checked his phone. No messages. He took another deep breathe. He felt lonely on the park bench alone. She hadn’t responded to his texts. He began praying for her safety. After several minutes, Kyle felt a light tap on his shoulder. He stood and looked behind him. “Melissa!”
They embraced with a hug, and then Melissa perched onto her tippy-toes to give him a gentle kiss on the cheek, “Sorry I’m late.”
Kyle wrapped his arms around her middle and pulled her close. “I’m just glad you’re here now.” He lightly stroked her cheek. She was much more tense that usual. “How was your day?”
Melissa remained quiet, then pulled away and sat on the park bench. Kyle followed her lead and sat next to her, then ran his fingers down the back of her head and through her hair, hoping it would help release the tension she held. Melissa pulled a folded napkin from her purse, revealing two cookies – their usual Friday night treat from the Corner Deli next to Melissa’s office. As he reached for his cookie, Kyle felt his hand brush hers; and even with that simple touch, Melissa felt distant. Tonight they ate their cookies in silence.
Kyle finished his snack and turned to Melissa, his eyes meeting hers at the same time. A hint of sadness appeared, and whatever it was he wanted to be there for her. He loved her. Even with little light, he noticed a cookie crumb on the side of her mouth and quickly wiped it off. Then he stood and offered his hand. “Shall we walk?”
Melissa gave a simple nod of her head and took Kyle’s outstretched hand. Her hand still felt good in his, as if the puzzle piece fit just right, yet something was obviously not right.
At first they walked in silence. Finally, Kyle broke the quiet. Melissa responded with short, simple statements, but remained distracted. When they reached the Interstate Bridge, Kyle led Melissa down a few steps to a little cement plot nearer the river. He turned her to face the river, and then gently massaged her neck and shoulders. When she began to relax, he leaned a little closer. “Did you hear the owl?”
“No,” Melissa answered quietly, and then cocked her head as if listening very intently. Kyle leaned closer to Melissa, with his lips softly brushing her ear. “Who, who.” A Melissa turned around and gave him a playful slug and laughed. Her laugh was always beautiful. They shared a quick kiss and turned back to head toward their bench. This time they laughed as they walked and skipped, and swung their interlocked hands as they did so.
When they reached their usual spot, Melissa and Kyle embraced one another, leaned slightly into the rail and both jumped back a bit, surprised by how cool the metal was. The nights were indeed becoming cool. They laughed again, and Kyle leaned in for a kiss. This time slow, steady, and lasting. Kyle took Melissa’s face in his hands, stopped the kiss and stepped back slightly to look at her. A bit of frail moonlight fell on her face and he smiled. He looked to the sky where there was a slight clearing in the clouds that revealed half of the moon. The light highlighted the surrounding clouds and he looked back at her face before the clouds could hide the light again. Her smile shone as bright as the moon.
Kyle stepped back a bit more, then fell to one knee. Melissa’s small hand flew in front of her lips as Kyle reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a small box. He slowly opened the lid and showed it to her. The ring glowed in the moonlight. “Will you marry me?”
Kyle saw the tears form in Melissa’s eyes and gently slide down her cheeks. He quickly rose to wipe them away. “Oh, Kyle,” Melissa’s voice broke. “I don’t know what to say?”
“Say yes.” Kyle glanced at the moon again. “Our future is bright.” He took her again and kissed her.
When they paused, Kyle looked at Melissa longingly. The moonlight was gone again. She laid her head against his chest. She shook her head slightly. “I’m not sure I can.”
~ ~ ~
Kyle was getting colder, yet he couldn’t pry himself away from the park bench. The night seemed darker than ever and he had no idea what time it was. He only knew his future was now as murky as the water and he felt he had to swim furiously to stay afloat. Kyle just didn’t understand.
He and Melissa fit together perfectly. He had been happier than ever before and their conversations over the last several months had turned from ”I to “we” about everything from having kids, where to live, and what kind of house to buy. What had gone wrong? Was tomorrow night’s dinner date still on? His mind flooded with questions.
After meeting Melissa, Kyle struggled in the beginning to believe a successful business woman like her would date him, a simple, uneducated mechanic, though he was saving for college. But she had told him it didn’t matter; it was the person inside that counted. It also strengthened his faith as he began to see better how God sees him – Melissa had turned his life around.
Now he’d spent his college savings on a ring to propose on the anniversary of when they met, and she wasn’t sure? Life was indeed frail.
Kyle heard his phone beep – it was a text message. At first he ignored it and inhaled a deep breathe of river air. After a few minutes he pulled his phone from his jacket and swiped his finger across the screen: 1:15. Who was texting him at this time of night? He pulled up the message – it was from Melissa. Are u awake?
He waited a few minutes and typed a reply. Yes.
Another message quickly lit up his screen. Where are u?
His reply: by the river.
A third message: Wait for me.
Kyle put his phone back into his pocket, not sure what to think. He held his head in his hands. Had Melissa reconsidered or was she on her way back to break things off for good?
~ ~ ~
It didn’t seem long and Melissa was back by his side. They sat in silence again for a few moments and then she spoke. “I’m sorry I wasn’t good company earlier”. She turned and faced him more now. She took a deep breath. “It’s just that yours wasn’t the first proposal I’d received today.”
Kyle looked toward the ground, unable to believe what he heard. “There’s someone else?” His voice cracked.
Kyle couldn’t have imagined his Melissa, a woman of strong faith, would do something like that. Did he really not know her at all?
“No.” She shook her head. “Never Kyle.” She briefly put a hand on his knee. “My uncle paid me a visit today.”
“You mean the one you never see because he is a big wig accountant in Chicago, but sends you cards every year on your birthday?”
Melissa nodded. “That’s the one. He told me he has cancer.” She looked to the ground and clasped her hands.
Kyle wasn’t exactly sure what to say. “I’m sorry.”
“He wants me to take over his accounting firm Kyle.”
“Oh.” Kyle looked up at the sky. He always knew she dreamed of having her own accounting firm. The moon was out full and bright now, not a cloud in sight.
“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you earlier.” She paused. “It’s just that I was overwhelmed, and I knew it was our anniversary, and I didn’t want to ruin tonight.” Melissa hesitated. “And I ruined it anyway.”
Kyle took Melissa’s head in his hands and she rested her forehead on his chin. “It’s okay.”
Melissa looked up at Kyle. “I do want to marry you. My answer is yes!”
The moonlight lit up Melissa’s face like never before and he kissed her. When they stopped he looked deep into her eyes. “I’ll follow you.”
“Kyle, are you sure?” She looked sheepish and guilty for asking all at the same time.
“Yes.” He held her face close again.
“As long as I can see the moon’s frail light fall upon your face.”
He kissed her one more time. His moon was back.
I have one more thing to share, as I reread bits and pieces of this piece as I pasted it here. I read it a couple weeks ago and never notices this, but half way through, I started changing Melissa’s name to Amanda. I was back to Melissa by the end. But somewhere during the writing I must have decided to change her name, but failed to do so completely. Evidently, I didn’t do so good at editing either. Surely, that hindered my chances the last go around. Lesson Learned!