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Weekly Short Story Contests > Week 476 (January 21 - February 3) Stories Topic: Gossamer

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message 1: by C.P., Windrunner (new)

C.P. Cabaniss (cpcabaniss) | 639 comments You have until the 3rd of February to post a story and from the 4th to around the 10th of February, we’ll vote for which one we thought was best!

Please post directly into the topic and not a link. Please don’t use a story previously used in this group. Only one submission per person is allowed.

Your story should be between 300 and 3,500 words long.

REMEMBER! A short story is not merely a scene. It must have a beginning, a middle, and an end.

This week’s topic is: Gossamer

The rules are pretty loose. You could write a story about anything that has to do with the subject/photo but it must relate to the topic somehow.

Most of all have fun!


message 2: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9090 comments Hello, my dearly beloveds. I was conspicuous by my absence in last week’s short story contest and that wasn’t an accident. It wasn’t because of the snowy weather and potentially losing my electricity, because the blizzard ended up being a non-lethal dud. I also mentioned creative burnout in another post and while that still holds true today, it’s not the whole reason. The reason is, I’m going to have a lot of editing on my hands over the next few months and I’d like to focus my energy solely on those projects (short stories take a lot of energy out of me). I have a fantasy novel called Beautiful Monster that I’ve been slowly rebuilding days at a time. I also have a smaller story called Emilio & Marigold, a parody of Jack and the Beanstalk which has now become a eulogy to my cat Emilio (he passed away in June of last year). I’ll still have the wherewithal to compete in the poetry contests, but as far as short stories go, I’d rather focus my energy on getting BM and E&M into tiptop shape, which means not only fixing typos, but also rewriting whole chapters and writing new ones in between the old ones. Wish me luck!


message 3: by C.P., Windrunner (new)

C.P. Cabaniss (cpcabaniss) | 639 comments Good luck, Garrison! I hope all goes well with revising and polishing!


message 4: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9090 comments Thanks, C.P.! I always appreciate the encouragement. :)


message 5: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 90 comments Hmm I feel like I'm going to have a lot of fun with this prompt. I'm working a lot this week but I should have a story ready in time!


message 6: by C.P., Windrunner (new)

C.P. Cabaniss (cpcabaniss) | 639 comments Yay! And remember, they're two weeks long, so it's not as much of a rush :)


message 7: by C.P., Windrunner (new)

C.P. Cabaniss (cpcabaniss) | 639 comments Joy wrote: "Anyone up to help a girl out? Recently I've been working on a new story that I have posted on Quotev and would like some feedback on it. So far I've only written two chapters but I do plan on writi..."

Joy, I've deleted your comment as this is not the right area to ask for help with a story that is posted to another site. You could use your own writing thread or post to one of the more general help or chat threads if you are still looking for feedback.


message 8: by C.P., Windrunner (new)

C.P. Cabaniss (cpcabaniss) | 639 comments This is a continuation of my family puzzle story which you can read here.

Thin as Gossamer
Word count: 832


The floorboards creaked as Cole stepped his way slowly across the floor. His shoulders were pulled almost to his ears, eyes wide with alarm, the world threatening to give way beneath him at any moment. Most of the time he was grateful he was an only child, glad that no one else had had to go through the abuses his father had piled on him for years.

But sometimes, like this moment, he wished there were someone to share the tension and ball of worry that sat heavy in his stomach. Holly and Brendan, his cousins, would be more than willing, he knew, but it wasn’t fair to drag them into his family drama every other day. So when his mom came home from work already drunk and fuming, he didn’t call them. When she raged around the house, calling him names and yelling that it was his fault his dad left, he clinched his jaw and bore it like he always had: alone.

It hadn’t taken her long to wind down, it never did, and throw half apologies over her shoulder as she staggered toward her room, another bottle in her hand. She always looked so enraged as she hurled her hurtful words, but she never touched him. She never hit him like his father had. And when all the fight left her, he could read the guilt she felt in her expression, in the way her hand tightened around the neck of the bottle, tears threatening to fall down her cheeks.

This time, when his mom inevitably crashed, Cole waited outside her room. Her tears had become wild once she had shut herself away and he could hear her rummaging in the top of her closet, a place he had never dared explore, though he knew that anything important to her was kept there, hidden where even she might not think to look. As he waited, too curious to leave, Cole never heard her put anything back in the closet. Which meant that it all must still be out.

Now he crept up to her door, reminding himself that he wouldn’t get caught by his dad, that he was as safe as he was ever likely to be. This was a chance to find out something. Fingers shaking, he gripped the doorknob and gave it a twist, pushing the door open just enough to slip inside. He poked his head in first, body following quickly once his eyes found his mom sprawled half on the bed and half off, whiskey bottle dangling precariously from one hand.

Stuff was scattered across the floor, papers and jewelry strewn from the closet to the bed. Sliding forward on tiptoe, Cole crouched down, eyes scanning everything on the floor. The trinkets he ignored, not interested in the least. He wasn’t here to steal. It was information he was after. Most of the papers were useless to him, letters from his father dated two decades ago, all ending with a flowery profession of love. It almost made him gag, but his mom was right there and though she was usually out for hours, he couldn’t be sure he wouldn’t wake her from her alcohol induced sleep.

Passing over anything in his father’s familiar handwriting, Cole leafed through the papers. He was beginning to think this a useless endeavor when he noticed a scrap of paper closer to the bed, nearly under the outstretched fingers of his mother’s empty hand. Eyes darting up to her face, which was slack in sleep, the bags under her eyes standing out, he inched forward, fingers outstretched. Catching the paper between two fingers, he tugged it toward himself.

His eyes grew wide as he started to read.

Miri,
I’m sorry. For all of it. I know I’ve hurt you, I’ve hurt everyone. I want to make it right. This is the only way I know how. I hope you understand. I’m doing this for you. For all of you.
All my love,
June


With a quick glance to be sure his mother was still sleeping, Cole tugged his phone from his pocket and snapped a quick picture. Then he slid the paper back under his mom’s slack fingers, stowed the phone in his pocket, and headed for the door. He was about to step through when he glanced over his shoulder. He couldn’t leave her like that.

With a quiet sigh, he walked back to the bed, lifted his mother gently in his arms as much as he could, and slid her onto the bed. She rolled away from him, whiskey bottle still clutched in one hand.

Once in the hallway, Cole sent a text to Holly and Brendan. All he said was we need to meet. Then he went back to the picture of the note on his phone, memorizing every word, June’s smiling face bright in his memory. This was another piece of their puzzle. A string as thin as gossamer, but a connection. It was a start.


message 9: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9090 comments Hey, everyone. Can I make a quick suggestion for the upcoming polls? Both contests currently have only one entry apiece. If that's still the case by the time the contest is over, maybe the poll competition can be between the one story and one poem instead of having separate polls for each. What do you think? You don't have to do this if you don't want to. It's just an idea I have, that's all.


message 10: by C.P., Windrunner (new)

C.P. Cabaniss (cpcabaniss) | 639 comments We could do that. Usually I don't run a poll for one entry.


message 11: by Maria (new)

Maria (mariasaleem) | 80 comments I'm working on a story - I didn't mention so because it's not near to completion yet but I hope I get it done by the deadline


message 12: by C. J., Atm Seeker in the "Lin Kuei" (new)

C. J. Scurria (goodreadscomcj_scurria) | 4215 comments Awesome Maria. I might finish my writing too hopefully. Looking forward to your posting!


message 13: by C.P., Windrunner (new)

C.P. Cabaniss (cpcabaniss) | 639 comments Looking forward to reading them!


message 14: by C. J., Atm Seeker in the "Lin Kuei" (new)

C. J. Scurria (goodreadscomcj_scurria) | 4215 comments Title: A Time to be Alive (Part 3)
Author: CJ
Word Count: 1,808

Story below:

Josh knocked on Barry’s door, nervous though he didn’t know why. He knew Barry pretty well, as much as he felt. He guessed he was just hankering to find out what the guy was so excited to tell him at this house.

Josh also noticed the apartment building he had seen from the outside appeared nice and swanky yet he wished he hadn’t gone by appearances alone; the door to this “nice” building, he noticed, if he rapt hard enough would have easily fallen off its hinges.

“Come in!” Barry shouted.

He flashed back to when he went to Danny’s. People trusting him to drop by, even leaving the door unlocked without care brought it all back to him and he paused.

He took a breath and stepped inside. He was greeted with the awful stench of something, Josh didn’t know what. Like old sweaty gym socks kept in a locker year round.

He smiled as the smell also met him stronger as Barry walked up to him. He feigned a smile pretending he didn’t notice it, desperately wanting to squeeze his nose badly and his eyes nearly teared up.

“Hi.” he said quietly almost like a dog finally seeing its owner’s return. “How are you? Haven’t seen you in a while, right?”

“Umm…. yeah.”

“Come on in. Can I get you something to drink?”

Josh unintentionally quivered from that idea. “Uhh no thanks. I’m fine.”

“Okay, I’ll get some coffee. You like coffee right? I remember vaguely from before but… listen to me, I gotta calm down and just talk with ya. I keep thinking of that time. New memories. Got to make some new ones, haha!”

Feeling the dread of staying at this place with that stench hanging around, Josh immediately found reason to not stay. “You know what? Let me know what you wanted to tell me cuz I have a thing in a little bit I forgot about. I’ve got to go.”

“Oh really?” Barry looked at him sad. Then looked to the side as if to replay the phone call in his head. “But you said you have all day, didn’t you? Something came up now?”

Josh looked at the trashed apartment, just the couch looked like it had food and clothes stuck on it. “Ummm… I think I should….”

Barry closed his eyes, and shook his head realizing the situation. “Oh… sorry.” he chuckled. “I made this place such a mess. Do you wanna hang out outside? Away from all of… this?”

Fresh air. Sounded perfect. It seemed good, for both of them too. Now Josh noticeably changed his tune. “That sounds good.”

“I’ll be a minute then. My sis will chat with you if you want until I get outside. I forget that I don’t shower as regularly than when I was at home with my pops. I will meet you then.”

----

Barry’s sister was about two years younger than Barry but Josh wasn’t able to tell. Though her brown hair was wavy (maybe it had been to the salon?) or better maintained than the bro’s was at the moment anyway. She also had glasses just like Barry did before the eye surgery. They both seemed to even share the same face, minus her blue eyes stood out more than his (though this could have been possibly due to her glasses).

“So yeah, my bro and I found this place when we realized we couldn’t live with our dad that much longer. I… err, I should say Barry, thought that in a way we were holding down our dad. You see, we’d been with him for way too long. He’d been retired too. It was a surprisingly mature thing to decide, I feel. Though I wished we followed through on some things better I think it was great for us to be out on our own. Barry’s schooling should have been completed but he left that place early.

“But anyway, we probably didn’t want to represent those ‘millennials’ I guess, with unreal dreams and a feeling of ‘I own anything that comes my way:’ That kind of aspect that they have.” she laughed though it was a nice pleasant giggle.

He hadn’t had a pleasant woman talk to him in a while and stared into her eyes waiting for the next words though what came next took him off guard.

She looked a tad uncomfortable and her eyes darted around. “So uh… you talk to Jane lately?”

Jane. The name stuck like a dart into his heart. He shouldn’t be thinking like he’s bonding with this young lady when he should be thinking of her. His face grew red.

“Uhh. Huh? Oh yeah. I don’t get to… I lost track of her. Wish I knew what she was doing. Oh yeah. Umm… how do you know her?”

“We went to the same school silly.”

He laughed, hoping the dying dread in his body would flood out the ruby face he still had going on. Though the strange thing was, he never saw this girl at their school at all. In fact he wasn’t even sure that Barry had a sister at all as long as he had known him!

Maybe he was overthinking this. Maybe she did go to their school but just never met her, all four years of their lives. Those four years felt like a lifetime like a giant step into adulthood that were crucial as well as trial-involving.

Yep, still he should have remembered this girl.

His friend Barry stepped out. Looking like Dracula entering sunlight, he watched as Barry cupped his hand above his head. Then realizing he was not wearing his glasses anymore he put his hand down and forced a smile against the cool air.

“So you talkin’ well with my sissy?”

His sister gave his shoulder a light slap. “Don’t call me that. What was I like, ten when you kept calling me that?”

“I never meant it that way.”

“Oh yeah. Sure.”

Trying not to point out it inspired that, Josh tried to naturally transition to that subject without pointing it out.

“You know? I must not remember high school well.”

Barry jumped in on a comment. “I am surprised then… cuz you sure can be like an ox when it comes to doing stuff.”

“No I mean, what was that guy’s name that used to pick on me? I realize I haven’t seen him in quite a while.”

“Geoffrey.”

Though the guy was a good example of some of the jerks in high school, Josh thought of a different one.

“No I meant… Garry? Is that his name?”

Barry showed an expression of horror and that caught Josh off-guard. “Him?? Why do you mean h--”

“I don’t know why but he used to pick on me a lot. Then after high school was over and I’d be out walkin’ he’d drive by me in his car and call me ‘numbnuts’ like in the winter even when I looked like I needed a ride.”

“That’s strange.”

“So…. really? He never picked on you?”

Barry looking pale nodded no. Though he didn’t wish it on Barry Josh in retrospect felt even worse now about this kid. As it turned out, he realized, Josh was singled out specifically in Garry the Larry’s wrath. So strange.

They talked for quite a while. Part of Josh felt like maybe Barry was trying to throw him off from something but then the truth came.

“I’m not trying to sound ungrateful but… why did you want me to come by? What’s going on, really?”

Barry looked sad like he was wounded. Then his face shone red, realizing he was on the spot. He cleared his throat.

“Uh uh.” he cleared again.

“Well. I don’t exactly know how to go ahead and say this but, uh… Josh? I wanted to tell you I got your and my tuxes ready for the reunion.”

“What!?”

Barry winced. “Yeah I already got the rental and had to uh… had to go for two people. Since I know you pretty well---”

“Well you obviously don’t! You know that I said I wasn’t going. Just what has happened to you? We all went to that cabin talking about all the crap people put us through. Remember, Barry? We helped each other get through the crap, all that stuff from school. It wasn’t them! Why do you want to face… ‘them’? Again? After all they put us through?!”

As if freaking out from the tension Barry’s sis jumped off of the rock ledge she was perched upon and made her way to the front of the building. It seemed she was done. Barry stared at her with horror as if he was thinking “Really? You’re going to leave me alone in this?”

“I just---”

“No. You’re not doing it. Please! I haven’t even gotten over Danny.”

Josh paused. Was that the right words? No it wasn’t. “I--- I mean….”

Barry sensed he thought he was being insensitive. Suddenly there seemed to be compassion from him and he spoke in a tone Josh hadn’t recognized before.

“I know what you mean. I’m sure he understands what you mean too….”

Josh felt wounded, defeated. He was out of words. He wanted to cry but no tears came out. Something was wrong. It seemed the last time he did that he was…wait, Josh thought. Was that only when he was at the cabin? That was about three years ago! That was the last time he grieved over his best friend? What kind of monster does that?

Maybe if he goes, he must do that for Danny. Maybe he deserves such a decision. Maybe he can show them that these people aren’t that strong that they have no power over any human. Maybe he felt that way because he saw how tough they had been on Danny as well, treating him like he was a worthless thing that was a real person.

Josh nearly let the tears flow. Then he looked, saw Barry eyeing him and held them back. No. He must not show that here, he felt.

“I guess… I guess I will go to it then.”

Barry blinked then the whites of his eyes shone. He must have never seen such a turn around on a person before!

“Wait… what?”

“Yeah, I’ll go to the reunion.”

“You won’t regret it!”

Leaning on an excuse Josh chimed in. “Guess I don’t have a choice.”

It had faded into a dark evening. The apartment’s front garden lights came on later than usual shining the area as if in a gossamer hue. As he went back into the building to chat more before heading home Josh quipped one more comment:

“Boy, sure is great bein’ an adult. Able to make all my own decisions and all…”


message 15: by C. J., Atm Seeker in the "Lin Kuei" (new)

C. J. Scurria (goodreadscomcj_scurria) | 4215 comments Probably was a tad obvious but I had some trouble with tying the topic in with the story.


message 16: by Maria (new)

Maria (mariasaleem) | 80 comments Title: Moon Calling
Word Count: 1,132






In the early light of dawn, a dark, lone figure walked a deserted road. It was a time when the sky washes everything with a tinge of blue. The figure was not aware of its own walking. It was advancing towards a tall structure ahead. A woman in a black gossamer gown emerged. Elena jerked awake.

She found herself on an empty road in the countryside, facing what looked like a little Gothic castle. A pale moon hung in the dawn sky. The woman beckoned for Elena to follow.

But she didn't lead her into the little castle. Instead, she turned round the structure and walked towards a path behind the castle. They entered into the fenced graveyard. And then the woman vaporized and disappeared there, as if she had been hardly more opaque than the gossamer over her gown. She had been but a trail for Elena to follow.

Elena stared at the graveyard. A pressing silence seemed to engulf her from all sides. All these years of sleep-walking – she knew it wasn't mere sleep walking, they all knew, because that didn't lead you straight into your dreams, but what else could you call it? – but it had never been like this. Nothing so elaborate. She had never come this . . . far.

Her father had found her in the woods behind their country house the first time it happened, in the dead of the night. She was eight. She had been following a voice that had called to her in the dream. But then her father woke her and she couldn't hear the voice anymore, though she was in just the same place.

Another time it was on a busy road where he had saved her, called her back to reality. But always, the dream had seemed a sharper reality to her.

There was a flicker of movement at her back, a chilly breeze brushed the back of her neck. Twisting back, Elena saw and jumped at the sight of a great white wolf, marching towards her. Heart beating wildly, her feet lead her deeper into the graveyard. She tried to be careful not to trip over any gravestones as she backed away.

The wolf seemed to glow in its pure white fur. ‘So you have come to my calling.’

Elena has never seen the creature, but looking into its eyes, a curious sensation filled her. It felt as if she was familiar with the presence. Even though she never saw it, it was always there in her dreams, lingering at the edges, waiting for her to find it. She knew the wolf.

‘Why? Why have you called me here? Who are you really?’

‘I have been trying to reach out for years. This is the first time you have truly answered.’

‘No, you've got it wrong, I don't really control my -'

‘-dreams? Of course you do. You were not exactly unconscious when you came here. And you do know that these are not dreams. But until now, you have always shown restraint, to not be pushed over beyond.’

‘That's crap. You think I choose to live this . . . this half conscious life, you think I – I choose pain over . . .’

‘You have chosen nothing but to give in, to submit. All else has followed. Elena, you know why you came all the way this time. You know what was different.’

Her hands were shaking. Her mind raced. She knew the wolf was right. ‘My. . . father . . .’

‘Yes,’ the wolf urged.

The restrained tears finally spilled forth. ‘He-he was the one who helped me p-push it back . . .’

The wolf continued gazing at her in encouragement. The cold coat of it somehow seemed to emanate warmth.

‘And now that he's no longer here,’ she whispered. ‘I stopped trying.’

There was another deep silence that engulfed them both this time. The air seemed to vibrate with the echo of a confession.

The wolf crept closer, and pressed its muzzle to her.

‘Child. He never wanted you to restrain. Only to hold back till the time was right. You have done nothing wrong. You have, in fact, come to your destiny.’

Elena stared at the wolf, stunned. Her tears were still fresh on her cheeks. Realization blossomed.

*-*-*-*

‘Baba, what happens when the spirit comes to take the witch back?’

‘Ah, want to hear the rest of the Wolf and the Witch, do we?’ smiled Baba. ‘Well, sweetheart, the witch has to choose to either go back and lose all her powers, or to stay in the spirit world.’

‘Why would she want to stay?’

‘Well the human world isn't a place for a witch is it? There's all sorts of . . . situations to keep her from her power. She can't truly be happy here. In her own world, she can be all herself.’

‘Is it a happy world there?’

‘It's one that is meant for her.’ He looked thoughtfully at his daughter for a while. ‘OK, it's pretty late now, darling. Time for bed!’

Lingering at the doorway to switch off the lights, he asked:

‘Sweetheart?’

‘Yes, Baba?’

‘Are you- you're happy here, right?’

‘Baba. How can I be sad with you around?’

*-*-*

Elena sobbed. ‘He took in a witch. He took me in when he knew I'd always have to go back. And he still kept me. Why?’

‘Is it not obvious? To protect you, child. He loved you.’

Wiping her tears, she said, ‘I am not a child anymore. And I know what to do.’

*-*-*-*

‘If you are sure.’

She nodded.

‘This will hurt.’

‘I know.’

But the wolf had hardly touched its paw to Elena's forehead when everything exploded in white. Bursts of colours rang through her head as she lay writhing on the ground in agony. Between gasps of breath, her only strength was the reason she was doing this. Under the now risen sun she lay curled up, feeling as if half her soul had been ripped from her body. She tried to sleep herself back to the human world, as she had done so many times before, but this would be the last time.

In the oblivion between the worlds, her thoughts seemed to float like herself. How she had clinged to the smell of her Baba even after he had gone. How the garden seemed more alive with the memory of him. She wasn't meant to be a part of the spirit world. She was meant to be here, in his world, a human.

When she came to, she was back to the place of her childhood: the very bedroom where her father used to tell her stories. The story.

‘I was always happy here, Baba. I'm home.’


message 17: by Maria (new)

Maria (mariasaleem) | 80 comments Eh. Not all of it makes but that's what happens when you procrastinate till the last day. Anyways, I still hope you guys enjoy it. I'll read through the other stories and comment my feedback - if you guys want? - after my classes. Have a nice day, everyone!


message 18: by C.P., Windrunner (new)

C.P. Cabaniss (cpcabaniss) | 639 comments I'm always happy to have feedback. I'll read through the other stories later today.


message 19: by Maria (new)

Maria (mariasaleem) | 80 comments C.P. wrote: "This is a continuation of my family puzzle story which you can read here.

Thin as Gossamer
Word count: 832

The floorboards creaked as Cole stepped his way slowly across the floor. His shoulders w..."


You got me. That little reveal was shocking! And now I'm curious to know the rest of the mystery.

One little thing - C.P., your writing's beautiful (I hope you know that!) But I think with the descriptions you could trust your reader to understand with only one explanation or two. E.g. when you talked about Cole's mother's guilt for treating him badly, either the bottle clenching or the tears would have worked fine, because we know that Cole could already tell...and then you could've moved on.

(Just my opinion of course, though I should note that I'm not the one to talk! I myself struggle with over describing lol, as you'll probably see). But I think for a mystery of a sort, we want to go on and get to the point. Just my 2 cents!

I like how mature Cole is because of his situation, and the cousins' bonding warms my heart. Curious to see how the rest of the mystery unfolds.


message 20: by Maria (new)

Maria (mariasaleem) | 80 comments C.J., your story is really sweet. I have a soft spot for friendship stories. I would say, though, that I confused Josh and Barry quite a few times because of, I don't know, the punctuation or something - though that may just be my tired brain.

And I just noticed that's one clever title you got :)


message 21: by Maria (new)

Maria (mariasaleem) | 80 comments I forgot to say this at the top of my story, but any feedback is welcome! Please share any insights you have, it'll help me confirm the areas I've got to work on (because I may already have some idea of those myself haha) and improve!


message 22: by C.P., Windrunner (new)

C.P. Cabaniss (cpcabaniss) | 639 comments Thanks for the feedback, Maria! It's always a balancing act with descriptions.


message 23: by C.P., Windrunner (new)

C.P. Cabaniss (cpcabaniss) | 639 comments Maria, in regards to your story:

I really enjoyed it! The beginning was a little confusing to me. I read the first couple of paragraphs to be sure that the figure in the dream and Elena were the same. That shouldn't be too difficult to work out, I don't think.

I was definitely interested from the beginning. It had some nice mystical, folktale elements to it that I really enjoyed.


message 24: by Maria (new)

Maria (mariasaleem) | 80 comments Yeah I tried to re-describe the setting when Elena wakes up, so that you know she is that figure on the road

Thanks for the comment, C.P.! And I'm glad you enjoyed the story!


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