…to be a finalist for the 250-word short story contest by Literary Death Match. Woohoo! Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket) is the judge, and I’m thrilled he has not only read my piece but chosen it as a finalist. I’m honored and excited to be among the top 15* – and a big shout out to Literary Death Match for sponsoring the contest.
*Update: I ended up being one of two runners up in this contest! Yes, I won $100 but the confidence boost that recharged my battery was worth $1M.
I thought I would print it here for anyone interested in a story squeezed into about four paragraphs. Again, the only requirements were that it had to be 250 words. Enjoy!
Fourth of July, and we are driving to the beach in a slog of traffic. Winnie, next to me, reads a novel on her Ipad. The twins are in the back seat, my daughter plugged into her Kindle and my son steadily swiping his mini Ipad, while I listen to a lecture podcast on my phone with a single earbud.
The podcast ends and in that beat I look over at the blue Toyota idling in the next lane, so close, a stone’s throw away. The driver is a dark-skinned woman with tight curls, large glasses, pudgy arms, and as we sit unmoving I notice her tears; great rivulets are racing down her face.
I finger the tissue that sits in its box between Winnie and I. The woman now looks my way, and our eyes catch. I pull out the tissue, roll down my window, and call out into the exhaust: “Hey!”
Winnie startles, and exclaims, “Charles!” But I ignore her and dangle the tissue out the window, and the woman takes her cue and leans way over the passenger seat, reaching, grunting. The tissue is a flaccid, unflying flag between us, stagnant in the humid air, and so I reach further, and as I do my arm jostles against the taut wire headphone, and with a sharp tug yanks my phone off the console and it pitches out the window, onto the concrete, smashing into splintery shards.
The woman gasps, Winnie screams. The kids look up from their devices.