There can be only one. It was bloody and brutal but one (wo)man was left standing in the end, amidst the dead.

Becca @inkmuse

A fantastic writer as evidenced here and everywhere, really. Check her blog for more about her excellent writing.

Update: The poll now shows Richard Wood @rbwood as the winner and he clearly had the stuff! I discovered that WordPress seems to acknowledge what time I tell it to close the poll but chooses not to oblige me. In the future, I’ve figured out how to manually shut the contrary thing off. So Becca’s victory at 9:30 is correct, but Richard’s was a truly excellent entry as well and the voters agree. I hope you’re both back next week!

But, in the meantime, here’s her winning entry.

Enjoy and YOU BE THE WINNER NEXT WEEK! Five Minute Fiction is here every week at 1:30 EST.

Jill sat on the empty park swing, the seat beneath her a hard plastic board and her fingers wrapped around the cold metal chains. She swung lightly, her beaten sneakers dragging twin track marks in the sand below. She stared across the street, past the open field, at what had once been her best friend’s home. She stared with unblinking eyes—with eyes that stung from the chill of winter, the bite of wind, and the glaze of tears.

How could the doctors think a piece of paper and a few pills could solve her problems? Crystal wouldn’t be coming back, and no prescription would change that. There’d be no more tiny tea parties in her front yard, packed inside a Rainbow Bright lunch pail. No more giggles between tents made of chairs and blankets and lit only by flashlights they’d have to smack against the palms of their tiny hands to make work.

Jill shook from the sobs trapped inside her chest. The tears she couldn’t let fall, in fear she might never stop crying. Even at her age, she knew kids shouldn’t die. Kids who got sick had mommies to give them medicine and tuck them in bed with cartoons to watch and everything would be okay again, real soon.

They didn’t get tumors in their brain, and they didn’t die.

They weren’t there one day, somebody’s best friend in third grade, and then gone the following year.

As the weeks passed after Crystal’s death, Jill always found herself in the same place, sitting on the same swing, alone. She packed away her Little Ponies, her Polly Pockets, and her Cupcake Dolls. Packed them all away—even the Gumbi figurines and the Popples.

She didn’t watch Care Bears anymore, or Fraggle Rock, or Alf. She didn’t play with her Skip-It, and she never would again. She’d just sit on this swing, until Crystal came back. She had to come back.

As it was getting dark, Jill picked up the cardboard box of old toys, and carried them over to Crystal’s house. She knocked on the door and she waited until someone answered and she prayed it would be Crystals face that filled the doorway, only a few inches over her own, to invite her in to play.

Crystal’s mom opened the door and invited Jill inside. Jill set the box of toys on the kitchen table and sat down.

“Maybe you could—I thought Sarah might want these,” Jill said, nudging the box closer to Crystal’s mom.

Crystal’s mom reached out and placed her hand over Jill’s. Quickly, she pulled her hand back and covered her mouth. Tears wet her face. She sniffed and wiped the tears away with the inside wrist of her robe.

Jill swallowed around the tight, painful knot in her throat. “I didn’t say goodbye.”

Crystal’s mom got up from the table, opened the kitchen junk drawer, and returned to set down a small pad of paper and a pen. “Here. Tell her now. It’s never too late to say goodbye.”

Jill wrote a short note.

::Crystal—I will never forget you. Love always, Jill::

Crystal’s mom tied the letter to a helium balloon, and they let it go into the night sky.

That night, Jill flushed the rest of her prescription down the toilet. She didn’t send any more balloon notes after that and she never said goodbye, either. Instead, she found an old journal she’d never gotten around to writing in and began to write stories of their friendship. Over time, the journal filled, but Jill continued to write her stories, over and over again in her heart.

Love, she found, was undying, and far more powerful than any prescription.