This past weekend I attended and wrote about the fifth annual "Wish Upon A Star - Shave the Brave" event. Law enforcement, firemen, and military men and women shaved their heads, beards, mustaches - to raise money to make dying children's dreams come true.
After that event, I covered a "Locks of Love" story - two sisters with hair long enough to sit on had never cut their hair in their lives (10 and 12 years) -- I was there for their first cut.
I decided this was a good place to post my last online contest story.
I entered the 250-words or less short story in Jason Evan's Clarity of Night'
The way the contests work: Jason posts a photo and writers are inspired to write a short short story, using the photo as inspiration.
This particular contest sported a photo of a motorcycle.
Ever since Sarah could remember, Johnny wanted a motorcycle, so it did not surprise her that when he turned 16, it was what he asked for.
“No. Absolutely not,” Sarah said as she turned to face her husband. “You know how I feel about these things. Tommy would still …”
She couldn’t finish the sentence. Her younger brother had been killed on his first motorcycle – at age 16.
“Stop baby,” her husband said as he went to her side and held her. “He’s not Tommy. Look at him. He’s not a little boy anymore. Sooner or later you’ll have to learn to let go.”
She turned to look at Johnny, who had tried so hard to find his identity. Sarah couldn’t help but smile as she saw that the half-man/half-child had fallen asleep on the couch – watching cartoons – his long lean body draped over a stack of pillows on the floor.
She remembered how upset she felt when he cut his hair, first into a Mohawk, later clean-shaven. A lightening bolt tattoo followed and Sarah was relieved when he told her it was only henna.
No matter how big he got, he would always be her little boy, she thought.
“Sweetheart,” her husband interrupted her thoughts, telephone against his chest. “It’s ‘Make a Wish Foundation.’ They are bringing a motorcycle for Johnny to ride.”
Sarah nodded as tears rolled down her face. She knew she couldn’t take Johnny’s last wish away.
That was so heartrending.My heart went out to the family.Hope it might not be his last wish...Very well narrated!
July 15, 2008 1:39 PM
Wow sadness at abundance here.Excellent!alex
July 15, 2008 1:58 PM
Well illustrated sample of a parent's nightmare.
July 15, 2008 2:37 PM
Sarah Hina said...
So heartbreaking. You took this in a completely different direction than I thought. The line about having to "let go" really gets me in retrospect. And I like how he is caught between boyhood and adulthood as all this strikes. Richly drawn tale. Good job!
July 15, 2008 2:49 PM
Very heartfelt. I could totally hear my Mom saying “No. Absolutely not,” to a motorcycle :)
July 15, 2008 2:55 PM
J.C. Montgomery said...
Wow, what a tug on the heart. Good job on drawing the reader in so well in such a short space of time.
July 15, 2008 3:11 PM
Truly a surprise ending, not what I expected at all. Very good!
July 15, 2008 3:11 PM
A superbly woven story. Surprise ending. Very poignant.
July 15, 2008 3:58 PM
Esther - a beautiful and poignant story. The ending was both heart-breaking and unexpected. You packed a lot into your 250 words. Well Done.
July 15, 2008 4:35 PM
Oh, this was painful and haunting. The twist at the end made it sorrowful, and took the meaning of 'letting go' to another, elevated level.
July 15, 2008 5:01 PM
Thank you, everyone. I actually had three different stories in mind but decided to go with this one because I enjoy writing unexpected endings. I was hoping it was not too obvious but wanted the reader to go back and see it -- the "letting go" and the shaved head. I had a couple other hints in there but removed them because it may have been too obvious.Thank you again for the kind comments.
July 15, 2008 10:15 PM
really a surprise ending, makes me feel so sad after reading it, you have done a great job in just 250 words :)
July 15, 2008 11:26 PM
JR's Thumbprints said...
It's not easy being subtle, but I think you did a good job with it.
July 16, 2008 12:17 AM
Wannabe Writer said...
Not even a hint that Johnny was sick until the end. Good job. -Rita
July 16, 2008 7:53 AM
I was sure this was going to turn bad quickly, but you played it straight. This is a slice of a parent's life, the pain of letting go. Touching.
July 16, 2008 8:05 AM
Ditto what Scott said. Nice pacing in your piece.
July 17, 2008 11:37 AM
The Grocer said...
Excellent surprise at the end in a totally different way to expectation.
July 17, 2008 12:20 PM
What an ending! I was so surprised. After reading you own comments I found the clues - excellent writing.
July 17, 2008 5:44 PM
omg that totally caught me off guard! i have a big lump in my throat now... wonderful!
July 18, 2008 2:52 AM
beautifully written! i like it a lot!
July 18, 2008 12:40 PM
Thank you for the supportive comments. I've always enjoyed reading (and writing) stories with twists and turns, and especially enjoy surprise endings. I'm grateful to Jason for running these contests - we all learn so much and it so entertaining to read all of your stories.
July 19, 2008 2:41 AM
Posolxstvo I said...
Nice irony... made us think that mom said no to a bike because someone she loved was killed on one - looks like even she believes that. This was one of my favorites (so far).
July 19, 2008 10:48 AM
July 19, 2008 1:31 PM
Thank you, missy and posolxstvo i.
July 19, 2008 6:42 PM
well done, esther... hits home on so many levels
July 19, 2008 7:34 PM
Thank you, laughingwolf.
July 20, 2008 2:20 AM
jason evans said...
Very effective emotional hit. Did not see that coming at all. We were lulled into a sense of normal teenage rebellion. High marks overall.
July 24, 2008 4:57 PM