Please vote for the piece you feel is most deserving:

Poll closed Nov 5, 2008.
  1. Ashleigh - Maria

    1 vote(s)
  2. Silque - The Rain

    4 vote(s)
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  1. Gannon

    Gannon Contributor Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
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    Manchester, England

    Voting Short Story Contest (31): Picture Worth a 1000 Words

    Discussion in 'Monthly Short Story Contest Archives' started by Gannon, Oct 30, 2008.

    Voting Short Story Contest (31) Theme: Picture Worth a 1000 Words.

    (See the old submission thread for the image used https://www.writingforums.org/showthread.php?t=15422 )

    Thank you for all your entries. The winner will be stickied until the next contest's winner is crowned.

    Voting will end 5th November 2008 to give you all a chance to read the entries.

    It is possible to vote for yourself, but I would hope in the name of good sportsmanship that you would only do so if you have read all the other stories and given them your honest evaluation. You gain nothing if you base your vote solely on how you feel about the author or whether you have personally invested time and effort in the story. In the end, your conscience is your only judge.

    Any entries under the suggested word limit will be flagged as such - they are still entered in to the contest. It is for you to decide whether they are still worthy of your vote.

    Any entry not strictly in accordance with the theme will be dealt with on a case by case basis to determine eligibility. Consider how the author has responded to the theme in making your decision.

    Good luck to everyone.
  2. Gannon

    Gannon Contributor Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    Ashleigh - Maria

    My sister Felice and I had escaped the torment of the white Chapel where Mama and Papa witnessed the marriage of our cousin Antonio and his fiancé Lorretta. At this time, Felice was nine years of age, which would make me twelve. We’d stood hand in hand in the church hall, Papa fidgeting in his town suit and Mama watching bleary-eyed through tears of pride for Antonio. We’d made a quick exit unannounced to our parents, and Felice had darted into the stalks of wheat that surrounded the church to pee. I remember how I’d stood swatting flies in the sun whilst waiting for Felice, thankful to be out of the chapel.

    That’s when we decided to go to the lake.

    By the lake, the fierce heat of the mid-day sun was shielded under streams of foliage from the weeping willows, and a glorious array of sunlight pierced the fingers of outstretched Cypress tree’s, dappling the waters surface. The water was grey and murky, though my friends and I had spent many summers by the waters edge catching tadpoles and water boatman. Papa had crafted a wooden paddle boat one year, and Mama, Papa, Felice and I had spent weeks drifting by the banks each day and enjoying the buzz of insects and the cooling sensation of water at our fingertips. Things had changed since. Mama sewed dresses and Papa laboured in the town and was often gone early each morning. The boat remained tied to a wooden stump by the side of the bank, and sat afloat and forgotten by the waters edge, it’s panels grey and withered by the heat.

    Felice ran ahead, her leather sandals skidding on the slimy banks of watery grass. She mounted the boat, squealing gleefully as it rocked and the water lapped her sandals. She sat and began scooping the water either side of her with both hands, chanting a nursery rhyme and swaying the boat from side to side, though the rope stayed firm.

    I giggled fondly and began untying the noose, though it was harsh and dry in texture and took a forcible effort to budge. I abandoned the rope on the grassy bank and hopped onto the decrepit vessel, though its appearance was deceiving it stood fast under our weight. The boat had been equipped with a pair of makeshift oars, and they sat in their clasps either side of us. Felice held one oar and I the other, and we began paddling away from the lakeside. It had been at least a year since we’d rowed the boat, though Mama and Papa had remained oblivious to the fact that we did so, yet Felice and I had steady control of the oars and began chanting her nursery rhyme as we paddled. “Row, row, row your boat…”

    The sandy water swirled and darkened as we descended further from the bank.
    “Gently down the stream…”
    The boat broke away from the shelter of vegetation and the sun beamed its hot intensity down upon us. “Merrily, Merrily, Merrily, Merrily, life is but a dream..”
    We rested the oars and laid down in the boat, eyes upward to the sky.
    The warmth of the sun encased the boat and my eyes began to feel drowsy.
    A cool breeze whispered through my hair and I noticed Felice had gone silent.
    After a few moments, I had drifted into a peaceful slumber, and still the boat swayed…

    A fierce Jolt had awoken us, and we jumped with a start. Felice rubbed her eyes and gazed around us at the vast body of water and then at the woodland behind us. The sky had turned red. I gulped and steadied the boat, which had gotten trapped amongst the reeds at the far end of the lake. Silently we hopped onto the bank, Felice first, and made our way up into the woodland.

    I clutched Her hand as we walked and she looked onward dazedly. I felt myself stiffen with realisation as the area became more familiar, and I remembered back to last summer when Papa had driven us down to the Woodland one afternoon. The journey had been relatively short by car, about 30 minutes, but I had no way of determining how long it’d take us to get back home now by foot. Home was the other side of the lake now, We must’ve been in the boat for hours. Papa would be furious.

    “Nico, a girl is staring at us” Felice mumbled.
    I glared at Felice. “That’s not funny” I replied bluntly.
    “But there is, Nico. There’s a girl !” she urged.
    I’d often wished Felice weren’t so young, or at least didn’t always have to act so young. I gripped her fingers tighter and ploughed forward, my sandals sinking in leafy sludge.

    “Nico please!” wailed Felice behind me. I turned abruptly, red in the face. “Stop being so ridiculous, it isn’t clever. We’re in serious trouble! now cant you just -” my sentence was cut short. Suddenly, my thoughts became disconcerted. There, sat amongst the reeds, was a girl.

    She looked close to my age, though she could have been younger. Perhaps just a year or two older than Felice, it was hard to tell. Her hair hung lankly at her shoulders, dark and matted with mud. Her skin was shockingly pale in comparison to Felice and I, our skin a golden glow in the rising moonlight. There was a girl, and indeed, she was staring. Her sunken eyes glowed a longing to speak, though she remained reluctant, and continued to watch Felice and I as we stood in disbelief staring back at her.
    Felice spoke first, edging nearer.
    “What’s your name?” she asked curiously.
    “Maria” she replied solemnly.

    Felice started, and though I gripped her fingers tighter she pulled away eagerly and crouched by the girl, who remained still.

    “Maria” Felice smiled, looking back at me.

    I edged a little closer.

    “What are you doing here by yourself? Wont your Mama and Papa be worried?” asked Felice.

    Maria’s eyes rose to the stars that unbeknownst to us had now risen high above the treetops.
    “They left me here, but they’ll be back soon” she said slowly.

    I knitted my brow and eyed the girl, who’s eyes darted back to the ground.

    “They’ll be back soon” She mumbled, though her dirt-smeared cheeks told me she’d been here quite a while.

    Felice gave a puzzled look and turned to me - “Can’t she come home with us?” she pleaded.
    I shook my head “No, her parents will be coming back for her soon, isn’t that right…Maria?” I reasoned.
    Felice was clearly convinced but I wasn’t so sure. I’d never seen her around town before, but the sky was growing darker.

    “Felice, we can come and see your friend tomorrow, but we really have to go” I urged.
    Felice looked doubtfully back at the girl but got up from the ground and returned to me.
    “We’ll have to tell Mama though, Nico” she said.

    By the time we’d gotten half a mile or so up the main road the glaring lights of Papa’s station wagon could be seen moving towards us. They pulled in by the side of the road, and we climbed into the car Obediently. Papa was outraged, cursing and glaring at us angrily in the car mirror, and yet I thought about Maria all the way home.

    Looking over at Felice, I could tell she was thinking about her too.
    When we pulled into the drive, a uniformed officer stood waiting.
    Papa become dismayed for a moment and proceeded towards the officer, who handed him a slip of paper marked “Immigration Office” - and attached, was a picture of Maria.
    “Good evening, sir. This wont take a moment”
    “M’am” he nodded to Mama.
    “Maria Kowalski has been missing for a number of months in the nearby town. It’s important that she’s transported back to her home in Poland, and we’d appreciate your cooperation. If you’ve seen her, let us know”.

    My heart leapt and my eyes darted to Felice.
    She remained silent, her eyes shining like dark spheres in the moonlight.
    Tomorrow, we’d have to find Maria.
  3. Gannon

    Gannon Contributor Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    Silque - The Rain

    My father used to say that when it rained, God was crying, and that somewhere on Earth, something terrible had occurred.

    Father would often tell me stories of the olden days, days in which he would go hunting for rabbit with his friends and go playing down by the river banks.

    I often pondered about the day those tanks had come rumbling into our village, all those soldiers crunching over the tall grass, gun shots cracking off into the sky, and palls of smoke billowing out of the houses that lined the bank of the river. Sitting on my little wooden stool that my father had made for me, I would stare at the sky, watching the birds flap around the old trees and singing to one another, in their sweet voices. I used to think that birds sang because all was right in the world. Now, I know they sing because they are just too stupid to know better.

    The day had been a hot one, with a slight breeze just slight enough to make the grass sway softly, and the red dust from the old road that lead to Damascus to be lifted into the sky, and swirl around in a beautiful maelstrom. It was early morning, and the sun basted the village in a buttery glow, painting a beautiful canvas, and giving life to our gloom filled existence. Peaceful was one word that many a person had used to describe these times. I felt safe. With my father next to me, and looking over me, I felt so safe.

    He was my hero. He had fought in the war against the Hassana, in which people said the blood from the fallen had stained the roads that branched from the village. From the stories that were painted of my father, he was a brave man, a soldier, a fighter, but above all, beyond all of that, he was my father, and I loved him for nothing more than that. He would often take me fishing, down to the old river that ran behind our village. The murky waters were home to an abundance of fresh fish that proved to be a delicious catch, for anyone that was lucky enough to wrangle one of them from the depths. My mother used to love fish and it was her favourite, especially when cooked with a little bit of lamb’s fat. My mother was a beautiful woman, with eyes as deep as oceans and equally as mysterious. Her and my father had met during the war, and he told me that he instantly fell in love with her, and that he never fell out. I still blame myself for her death for it was during the birth of me that she endured an excruciating death. My father maintained that she bore me through nothing but love, and that she would be looking down on me with the utmost pride. I hope she did.

    Father, and me often went on long walks through the scrub on mild days, with him often educating me on the wildlife and fauna that surrounded us.
    I would dream about flying through the trees, allowing the fresh leaves to softly rub against my skin, before I landed in the crystalline lake that wrapped around the mountain side...I would often wake in a cold sweat, with the sound of gunfire, and ghostly images plaguing my vision.

    One day, in the middle of September, a light rain began to trickle from the sky. Father sat me down, and told me that two of our cattle had been killed the previous night.

    “That’s why it’s raining” he said, softly.

    I used to think that rain brought hope, and gave life to the world. Now I know it just brings about pain, and takes life away. With every drop that soaks into the ground. With every splash and stream that forms and runs away deep into the valleys, rain brings nothing but pain and suffering.

    I would never forget the day he was killed. I could never forget the day my hero was taken from me.

    It all started with the rumbling, of which, many in the village thought a bout of thunder was on the horizon. The skies had turned a creamy grey, with a gentle mist hovering just above the tall grass that protruded up from around the river. Then, the tanks appeared, and hundreds of men. Within minutes, the village was being ransacked. Women were screaming, men were fighting, and gun shots were cannoning off anything that would dare to take one. I ran through the village, desperate to get home to my father, desperate for him to hold me, to protect me from the soldiers. My feet crumbled through the dust, leaving a trail behind me as I sprinted with all my heart.

    The front door to our little house stood ajar. I stood for a moment, before creeping forward and slowly pushing the door to one side. The house had stood silent. Only the sounds of screams and gunshots could be heard, where was my father?

    I walked slowly into the bed room, peering around the door as I went. A pungent smell hit my nose, and made me wretch. My eyes were pulled towards the bed. There, lying amongst a puddle of blood was my father. He didn’t move. I stood over him for a moment, hoping that he would wake up, but he didn’t. I stood there, and didn’t cry. Although I knew what had happened, I just didn’t cry. I sat on the bed. All was silent now. Tears started to trickle down my cheeks, falling gently into my lap. The bedroom door began to slowly open, and a soldier stood staring at me, gun at the ready. He glanced at the body of my father, then at me. He shook his head, and turned around, before disappearing out of the house.

    The rain began to patter against the window...
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