Wow. I almost missed my own contest this week. Squeaked out a quick one before it was too late. Not that it’s on par with some of the incredible entries we had this week. The judge tried to bribe me to allow six finalists this week. 😉
Congratulations to our finalists!
Here are their fantastic entries. Enjoy reading them and then vote for the best one in the poll on the right of the page.
Thanks again everyone for participating!
Seven pounds, four ounces. Twenty one inches long.
It seemed larger than it really was. Three months ago…hell, three days ago, if someone had told Ellen “Pretty soon you’re going to push seven pounds out of your vagina”, she would not have believed them.
But there they were, and all of a sudden, seven pounds didn’t seem so heavy, and twenty one inches didn’t seem so long, because Charlotte, cradled in the crook of Ellen’s left arm, seemed impossibly tiny–a perfectly formed human, but miniature, infinitesimally tiny fingers and even smaller fingernails (surprisingly long, but so, so small), tiny toes and the smallest little nose Ellen had ever seen. Perfect.
And she loved her. She had been worried about that, and although Eli, who loved her so, had tried to convince her that of course she would love the baby, she was still afraid that she’d feel…nothing, because she was eighteen years old, because she had wanted a baby boy and gotten a baby girl, and because she just had no idea how to be a mother, how to love this baby, but she knew. She just knew, somehow, even if she didn’t know how to be a mother, she knew how to be Charlotte’s mother, and that it would be okay.
Seven pounds, four ounces. Twenty one inches long, and perfect.
The length of my life is at the mercy of the following conditions. One, that I remove these handcuffs. Two, that I find a way out of this hell-hole. And three, that I still have the will to live after what happened to me.
I concentrate on the images I’ve seen during the intermittent periods of light. Three feet to a desk. The key must be in there. Five feet behind and a few feet to the right is the door. The door that is locked. But four feet behind me on the left is a window. My best bet at getting out of here.
I scoot my heavy chair forward inch by inch, but covering the short distance to the desk takes an eternity. Time I don’t have.
I reach the desk and swipe my face across its surface. I find the handle and pull on it with my teeth. I hear the clinking of the keys and connect the sound with my teeth. Yes!
I drop them in my lap where my handcuffed arms are tied to my thighs. I fumble through the keys, trying to remember the shape of the one that will set me free.
I hear a noise outside.
Oh shit. He’s back.
The days keep getting shorter.
Sometimes I wonder whether I’ve managed to slip above the arctic circle without noticing, and pretty soon the length of my day will be one hour, then five minutes, then nothing at all.
I shouldn’t have forsaken the sun.
I don’t think I meant to. It was the heat. It was too much brightness. It was the pain of looking at her face, her hand in the grip of another. I cursed my eyes for seeing it. Cursed the sun for showing it to me. For showing her to me that first time in the early spring, and for letting her see me.
Then, the days were never long enough. We spent them wandering, touching, looking, drinking each other in. And each day moved into a bright with stars – enough for dilated eyes to see whatever they wanted to.
We didn’t notice the solstice. We didn’t care. No, that’s not true. _I_ didn’t notice. _I_ didn’t care. But when the season began to turn, so did she. To her, I was Summer – light and heat, blossom and fragrance. Fall… I didn’t want it to come, but she did. She twirled with the earth, and I stayed rooted. And I lost her. I cursed my sun.
And now I’m losing her as well.
I will close my eyes, and sleep.
Spring, if you come, bring her back to me.
Alise examined herself in the mirror once more, taking a deep breath. Her auburn curls were gathered at the top of her head, held in place by a bejeweled tiara. Pearls graced her earlobes and the long column of her neck. Her décolletage peeked, as was the fashion, in a low-scooped bodice in ivory satin and lace. The matching skirts draped to the floor. But the true testament to her status was the length of her train. It trailed behind her, requiring twelve maids to hold it up from dragging on the ground.
For all her outward beauty, a sadness emanated from her.
“Father, must I?”
Her father strode to her side, dressed in finery. “It is for the best. Your duty.”
She nodded, her eyes drawn to her feet. He gathered her arm and escorted her to the large wooden doors of the church, where her betrothed waited.
An organ sounded her arrival and she raised her chin, determined to do what was expected. She could find love later.
Marty’s eyes scanned the crowd. He stood before them, rustling his crumpled piece of paper. Tears stung his eyes. Her mother sat in the front row, her hand laced in her sisters. Everyone stared at him expectantly, but he couldn’t speak. He didn’t know what to say. The random words he’d scribbled on the lined pages didn’t seem to make sense as he stared at them. They didn’t come to life. They didn’t jump out at him. They were haphazard thoughts scrawled hurriedly because he knew he had to write something, get anything down.
Why did he start with how nice she was? Her niceties wasn’t what he missed when he laid in bed at night. He didn’t dwell on how they met or how long they’d known each other. When he was alone at night, curled around her pillow, trying to breathe in the remnants of her scent, he didn’t think about how they were high school sweethearts. That didn’t matter. And so, why were those the things he’d wrote down? Why were those things what he was about to share with all her friends and family?
“I…” his voice trailed off.
People started to exchange looks. They didn’t think he would be able to get through this. He didn’t think he would be able to get through this, but he had to. Didn’t he? Could he just sit down and say, “I’m sorry, it’s too hard”? It wouldn’t be a lie. The pastor moved over to him and Marty held up his hand, signaling for him to stop and sit back down. He balled the piece of paper up, crushing it in his hand and said, “I wrote something for today. But it doesn’t apply. Because what I was thinking about yesterday isn’t what I am thinking about today.”
A sob came from the front row. Her mother dabbed her eyes with a Kleenex.
“Caylee was my life.” He paused and laughed. “It sounds so stupid to say that. I wrote a hundred things down on these pieces of paper. A hundred things that would be appropriate to tell you. About how I loved that she wanted lots of children and about how she used to pick slugs up off the sidewalk and move them out of the way so they wouldn’t get stepped on. Those aren’t the things I dream about. Those aren’t the things that keep me up at night.”
Once more he looked out at the crowd, took a deep breath and expelled a weary, broken hearted sigh. Then he said, “I miss her smile. I miss the taste of her lips, they were like cherries, red with Lipsmackers. I miss the curve of her waist my arm fit so perfectly around when I pulled her in for a hug. I long for the warmth of her breath on my neck, it would lull me to sleep each night. I miss the length of her hair tickling my arm when we danced around our living room to crappy eighties songs that she loved. When I’m alone, I hear her singing in the shower. I imagine her soaping her breasts and I long to kiss down the gentle hallow of her belly. These things aren’t appropriate, but her death isn’t either.”
Whispers ran through the crowd and Marty said, “She tasted like heaven. She was my own slice of perfect happiness. And she’s gone. At this moment, I can’t tell you things will be okay. I can’t tell you she would want us to be strong. I can’t say whether she would want us to celebrate her life, because right now, I can’t see the light through all this dark. I miss her. Not her niceness, not her unwavering kindness, not her ability to cook a gourmet breakfast with three items. No. I miss her. I miss Caylee.”
Tears dropped from his eyes as he moved away from the podium. And the crowd sighed with sadness.