I have kept my writing chops in some sort of shape by entering writing contests.
However, it engages my mind and keeps me fresh.
Since I already know that I didn’t win the last contest I entered, I thought that I might share my entry with you.
The prompt was to write a short story (they gave us a word count, etc) that began with this first sentence:
As I said, I didn’t win, but I’m kinda proud of my entry, and since I wrote it with the purpose of being read, I’m going to share it with you, today.
“If you can guess what I have in my pocket, you can have it.”
“You’re disgusting,” I replied, laughing as we walked along the beach.
He stopped, put his hands on my shoulders, turned my body so I was facing him, and said “No, Anna. I’m serious. I want you to guess.”
I looked him in the eye and realized that he was, in fact, serious. There was none of the usual sparkle in his eye, and his forehead wrinkled with a tension that I rarely saw on his face.
I was confused, but I played along. “Um…okay. Is it a shell?”
He shook his head. “No. Try again.”
Suddenly, it clicked, and I got nervous. The last thing I wanted to do was play this game. Especially if it was going to end the way I assumed.
“Steven, I don’t know what’s in your pocket. Just tell me.”
His hands tightened their grip on my shoulder.
“You have to guess, Anna. It’s the only way you can have it.”
“You’re hurting me, Steven. Stop.”
I wriggled out of his grasp and turned away from him, wrapping my arms around my torso. The sun had almost completed it’s descent below the horizon and the air, which had been warm and heavy moments before, now felt too cool for the tank top and shorts I wore.
He reached out his arm to me and I stepped away.
“Anna. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you…I just need you to guess what’s in my pocket so I can give it to you.”
Growing more uneasy by the moment, I took another step away from him. “If you want me to have it, why can’t you just give it to me? I don’t understand, Steven. Why the weird rules?”
He started toward me, then stopped, realizing that I wasn’t ready to accept him back into my personal space.
“Please, Anna. They aren’t my rules, but they are the rules. Just guess.”
“Steven, you’re scaring me,” I said, not sure if I should stay or run like hell.
Steven, my Steven, was a laid back, carefree man. Quick to laugh and the first, always the first, to break any rule set before him.
So, what was this?
“I know, and I’m sorry. I didn’t want to do things this way. I’m so sorry. Anna, please guess.”
I watched as emotions passed across his face. Sadness, fright…desperation. As much as I wanted to run, I couldn’t leave him like this.
I closed my eyes and made my guess, hoping beyond all hope that I was wrong.
“Steven,” I began. “Is it…a ring?”
Relief broke out on Steven’s features and I tried to keep the dread from showing on mine.
He reached into his pocket.
I could feel myself begin to panic. I loved Steven. I loved Steven a lot, but we had only been together for a year. I wasn’t ready to get married.
“Steven, I don’t…we aren’t…”
Steven’s smile widened. “Relax, Anna. It’s not the ring.”
Feeling foolish, yet relieved, I smiled back. “Oh. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean…”
Steven held out his closed fist. “It’s okay. I’m not ready for that either.” His face grew serious again. “It’s not the ring, but it’s a very important ring. Give me your hand.”
I held out my hand to him, and he unclenched his fist, revealing a large, silver, antique ring. I leaned in as he placed it on my middle finger. The sun was nothing more than a slight glow over the horizon, the full moon only peeking out from behind a cloud, and I turned it toward the ocean to catch the meager reflection of the light.
“Is something inscribed on there?” I asked as I noticed what appeared to be faint etchings in the silver.
“Auxilium.” Steven was looking down and his voice was quiet. “It says ‘auxilium.’”
“Auxilium?” I was puzzled. “Why would you give me a ring that has the Latin for ‘protection’ on it?”
In that moment, the moon emerged from behind the cloud, full and bright.
Suddenly, his head snapped up, his yellow eyes glowing in the moonlight.
“Because you’re going to need it,” he growled.