Hello everyone. This month we had 33 stories from 18 authors, with 4 disqualifications. The last entry received (three hours before the deadline) was nearly 300 words over the 100-word limit. It’s a shame because it was written to the theme (phone call) and the first time this entrant had submitted so I hope this hasn’t put him / her off. Two were disqualified because they were 101 words. One was simply one word too many, the other had no space between the ellipses connecting two words so when the space was added, it bumped up the word count. The former had fortunately entered another story. The latter however was the only entry by its author which was a shame as she could have had two other chances at winning. Another story was only 98 words but the title was two words making up the hundred. Sadly, this too had to be disqualified as it does specify in the rules that titles aren’t included in the word count. Some scored low because I didn’t get them. They were probably very clever but I read them a couple of times and still went “huh?”. Shame. A few had phone calls announcing new arrivals so great minds think alike.
I read the stories that won and came second several times, torn as to their placing. I’m sure some of you reading these will think the story I placed second should have come first but hopefully most of you will see what a tough choice it was. Both were charming but the winning story, for me, had a more unexpected ending (and simple but clever title) so just had the edge.
Winner (winning three of my online courses): Chris Tapper with ‘Wake-up Call’
She abandons herself to the rhythm of the mandolin, kicks off her footwear. She’s a flamenco dancer, a dark-haired gypsy woman with gold hoop earrings, peasant blouse and skirt. Colourful beads encircle her neck.
Lost in the moment, she stamps her bare feet and clicks her fingers.
The electrifying rhythm reaches a crescendo.
The phone rings.
She opens her eyes. Used crockery clutters the table alongside a teapot, cereal packets, marmalade and jam.
A stainless steel refrigerator reflects her image; a mum in a dressing gown reaching for the phone. “Hello,” she says, popping her toes back into her slippers.
Second-placed (winning two of my online courses): Jeremy Chotzen with ‘The Phone Call’
‘Mother, it’s Lewis.’
‘Lewis?’ she replies.
‘Oh, Lewis,’ she says slowly, ‘When can I come home?’
I avoid answering by talking about her accommodation, the acres of tidy lawns and white magnolia blossom.
I recall my early impressions of this imposing two-storey Victorian house, security doors hiding ward thirty-nine and the faint smell of antiseptic.
Imprisoned here, Mother is slowly unlearning language, shedding recollections, unfastening all ties to family and friends.
The phone call draws to a close. ‘Love you,’ she whispers.
Words that echo through my childhood years stretch beyond the reach of copper wires and forgetfulness.
Third-placed (winning one of my online courses): Steve James with ‘The Mystery Caller’
“Always when you’re busy,” thought Emma answering the phone.
“Darling Sue”, said the man, “don’t speak. I’ll be at the station at six. This is your chance to leave him. We cannot live like this anymore. Either you choose to stay with him or a new, better life with me.”
“You have the wrong–” But the caller was gone.
Emma worried all afternoon about the call.
She drove to the railway station to try to catch the man. To tell him, but there was no one there.
A sad, lonely man boarded the bus at the far end of town.
Highly Commended (each winning my Entering Writing Competitions course)… in first name order:
- Andy Morfett with ‘Life Call’
- Gary Marsh with ‘Just a phone call away’
- Laura Besley with ‘The Three-Day Rule’
- Lesley Middleton with ‘Lifeline’
Congratulations everyone. You have until 31st May to enter this month’s competition with the theme of ‘headache’ and do remember that you can enter up to three times. I will choose my favourite of your three to go into the competition.
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