Late last July, I entered a contest at Writer Unboxed. The task was this: write 200 words of a story’s beginning  in 24 hours. The judges chose finalists, and then readers voted on the final stories: yes, they would keep reading; or no, they wouldn’t turn the page. Well, my entry won! The prize? A Freewrite, touted as a “distraction free writing tool”.

freewrite

My Freewrite arrived the other day and I’m busily learning the ins and outs of it so I can tell you all about it … and that’s what made me realize I never shared my contest entry. I admit I feel shy about it, because I’d like to polish it up more than 24 hours’ worth. Usually I’m a 20 or so drafts writer, but no. It won, after all, posted publicly for all to see. The Freewrite folks also asked permission to reprint it (no news on that one yet), so it’s time I accept it, warts and all.

So here it is folks, for your reading pleasure (I hope!):

Little Kira sucked at her thumb, unable to look away from a few grains of sand clinging to the mermaid’s eye. Confusion pooled within her six-year-old mind, flowing back and forth between delight that mermaids were real and horror that this one was dead.

The tide completed its voyage out and was coming ‘round again when the search party found her there, her small form hidden amid the debris of the storm surge. Squawking gulls took to wing as they approached. The smell struck them hard, a stench of rotting fish and decayed seaweed. Their jaws fell agape at the mermaid, hands flying to their mouths.

Someone clasped their hands over Kira’s eyes as a sand crab scuttled from the mermaid’s open mouth. Kira pushed the hands away, thinking that it wasn’t fair the summer sun had bloated the mermaid so.

A woman wrapped her in a blanket, murmuring to her companion. “What becomes of a little girl who sees something like this?”

Kira wondered what they meant.

She suddenly wanted to touch the mermaid, just once, before she had to leave. Without hesitating, she reached for the mermaid’s tail. A smear of silver scales came off onto her hand.

Well, what about you? Would you keep reading?

8 thoughts on “the winning entry

    1. The rough draft is complete. It turned down a dark road in early August, exploded into a thunder of dismembered rainbows, and grew into a novella. Every time I open the folder to start editing, it hisses at me. We’re currently attending therapy and I hope to have it ready to share with my critique group by November. *crosses bandaged fingers*

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