1. Gannon

    Gannon Contributor Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England

    Winner Penny Dreadful Short Story Contest 37: The Value Of Innocence

    Discussion in 'Monthly Short Story Contest Archives' started by Gannon, Feb 9, 2009.

    SSC 37's voting came to a close with a four-way tie for first place. Although in the rules is states that where first place is tied all entries win, I'd like to nominate Penny Dreadful as winner from the four winning pieces. The split win rule was devised for situations where two pieces tie; four winners is unprecedented. I felt that four outright winners devalued the 'winning' and as such wanted to award an a single outright winner from the four, especially as I did not cast a vote during the original voting. I hope you can all forgive this detraction from the rules and understand my action. I will now update the rules to reflect such scenarios in future.

    So congratulations to Wreybies, Trojan and Justice for their winning pieces, and further congratulations to Penny Dreadful.

    Penny Dreadful - Our Missing Sister, Innocence

    “Forty-eight dollars and… nine cents?”


    “The value of innocence; forty-eight dollars and nine cents.”

    “It’s rhetorical.”


    “The question is rhetorical, loved one. Innocence has no monetary value.”

    I rest an index finger on my lips. They’re moist with the atmosphere of the betwixt and in between. A roguish smile twists my mouth and makes me feel every bit the Angel of Bawdiness. “I would pay that much for yours.”

    Charity’s pretty face blanches and her tapioca-shaded, albatross wings ruffle. She closes her big heavy book with a snap. “That’s enough for now, I think.”

    “I’m sorry, loved one. Don’t go.” My hand brushes her arm and the fading shape of her solidifies a bit more at the touch. She still doesn’t do me the courtesy of solidifying completely. No, she stands there, a perfectly rude little ghost in a modest little pantsuit. “I was kidding, only joking! I… I would pay much more.”

    Charity shrieks and begins to fade again.

    “Wait! Wait!” I grip her arm hard this time and again she solidifies only slightly. “But, I’m right… aren’t I? You’ve seen them, haven’t you? On the streets or in nice hotels or in bunk-beds. It’s gone for thousands of dollars and it’s gone for free. Sometimes it’s even gone for more… or less. There’s not enough innocence in their world for her to be one of our sisters. That means there can’t be much.”

    Tears sting my eyes and I look down at my legs. They’re bare and shapely in the darkness, covered scantly by a paisley skirt; a skirt once sketched by a high school boy with too much free time and dreams of high fashion. I think I would fit in with those girls in the nice hotels, but I was made to be arrogant and have no innocence to give.

    Charity has solidified completely now. Without my realizing it, she has knelt down and taken my hands in her own. “Don’t be silly, loved one,” she laughs and I look up. I can’t resist her laugh; so musical and delicate and without contempt. Sometimes I think that her laugh came first and then she took shape around it or maybe filled it up like a mold. Her cheeks blush a soft pink as she continues, “You’re innocence is not… between your legs.”

    I glance to her big heavy book and wonder what page innocence is defined on. “It isn’t?” My gaze shifts through the veil and to the streets. The people there walk by with blurry outlines and even blurrier intentions. I’ve never understood their hearts, not once. But, then again, I wasn’t made to.

    “That’s innocence,” whispers Charity, pointing to someone small. A child, I realize. A child sharing boiled peanuts with someone bigger and older. They sit on a stoop together, cracking open shells with dripping fingers. They suck out the salty liquid then move on to the soft legumes inside. I wrinkle my nose as the remainder is tossed to the sidewalk.

    How sloppy those on the other side are…

    I sigh and relax my hands inside hers, blinking the wetness from my eyes. “The child?”

    “No, the peanuts,” Charity laughs again, and I am presently surprised that she seems to have taken to teasing. “Take it, drain it, share it if you like, then throw it away.”

    I stare at Charity, my mouth open in a single laugh that’s almost a smile. “What are you-“

    “No one needs the whole bag. I say finish most of it and do it quick before moochers come.”

    I hadn’t known she knew a word like “moochers”. Maybe Justice was right. Maybe I really was a bad influence.

    But Charity’s eyes grew sad. Their dark depths looked deeper than ever as she dropped one hand from mine to press over her breast. “These are not times for naiveté, loved one. It’s best one loses most of their innocence early. I feel true sympathy for those who have it all snatched away at once.”

    She pulls me up from my perch and together we began to fade. Her albatross wings stretch like a symbol that only I am there to see. “I feel sorrier still for those who lose very little innocence, should they lose innocence at all. Innocence can fester into wicked things, very wicked things indeed.”

    I glance back to the child and his companion, back to the peanuts in their dripping hands and to the shells littering the sidewalk. “Is that really what you think?”

    Charity laughs her musical laugh. Its all that’s left now that our physical bodies have faded.

    “It doesn’t matter what I think, loved one. I told you, remember? It’s a rhetorical question.”
  2. Xeno

    Xeno Mad and Bitey Contributor

    Jun 28, 2008
    Likes Received:
    Stratford-upon-Avon, England

    Just read the piece. Damn, I should have remembered to vote 'cause this is a brilliant piece.
  3. Wreybies

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Supporter Contributor

    May 1, 2008
    Likes Received:
    Puerto Rico
    Well done, Penny. :)
  4. Penny Dreadful

    Penny Dreadful New Member

    Jan 18, 2009
    Likes Received:
    deep south
    Aw, thanks :D.

    I was impressed by a lot of the entires. Last time I checked the votes, it was awfully close. I was wondering how ties were solved. I was surprised to see this, happy and flattered, but surprised. Since there are no dancing smilies... :cool:
  5. Evil Ferret of Randomness

    Evil Ferret of Randomness New Member

    Feb 6, 2009
    Likes Received:
    Houston, Texas! (We don't ride horses, and no one
    I wish I had joined early enough to vote, because, of all the other stories, I think this one was the best. GOOD JOB!
    Is it me, or is this like presidential elections? Everyone forgets to vote? XP
  6. Phantasmal Reality

    Phantasmal Reality New Member

    Feb 12, 2009
    Likes Received:
    Sacramento, CA
    Excellent piece. Very good job of developing the characters in such a short space and by "showing" the reader. The only problem is...

    ......now I want to read more! ;)
  7. Atari

    Atari Active Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    Likes Received:
    I guess I'm just an idiot. The piece goes WAY over my head. I can't get into it. From the smiling roguishly to the inexplicable 'fading,' it just makes zero sense in my head.

    I'm sure if I read it a couple more times, I would comprehend what all of you comprehended on the first go, but I'm just too lethargic.

    I'm sure you deserved the win, Penny, even if I'll never understand it.

Share This Page