July 16, 2011

Clarity of Night contest entry

Jason Evans at Clarity of Night has dipped into the crazy brew again and is running another contest. I just sent in the entry below and hope it makes the cut. (Only the first 100 entries get posted and considered.)

The task: Use this photo (titled "Elemental") by Jason as inspiration for a fictional piece of 250 words or less in any genre. That's about it.

Although I will adore you forever if you comment here, please visit Jason's contest page and see all the entries. There are some really terrific writers there that make this a high quality contest.

UPDATE: My entry made it in exactly halfway, at number 50.

Shadows on Concrete
by Peter Dudley

All that remained were shadows on concrete. An atomic flashbulb caught a mother kissing her infant. It burned a snapshot onto the concrete wall behind them even as their bodies vaporized.

A thousand miles away, a “lucky bullet” from an M1 Garand found its way through a hundred leaves and into the breast pocket of a soldier squatting for a piss behind a bush. It pierced a letter lovingly scripted in blue ink, a crisp snapshot of a pregnant woman, and the soldier’s heart.

Half a century later, a man stands on a ledge overlooking a pit as wide as a city block and as deep as the sorrow lodged inside him. Concrete, asbestos, steel, and glass. Twisted, melted, crumbled to dust. Somewhere under the grinding treads of the backhoes lie the pulverized bones of his granddaughter and her unborn son.

Ten thousand times he has asked forgiveness. His only reply is hollow silence. He turns to the board labeled “Missing” and again gently touches the snapshot of a young, pregnant woman. Her golden hair is eternally swirled by a gentle breeze.

He has kept the M1 rifle all these years, in a locked trunk in his attic. A single bullet clatters against his old dog tags in his breast pocket.

He turns to shuffle off to the bus stop, the crisp January chill churning aches in his old knees. The cold sun spreads his shadow across the concrete, even as he fades away into the winter afternoon.

11 comments:

Sarah Laurenson said...

Will be back when I have time to enjoy this. Not entering myself this year as I probably won't have time to read and vote on the entries.

Precie said...

I'm repeatedly fascinated by how much layering you can fit into 250 words. I'm sure you'll make the CoN cut-off, but it was nice to get a sneak preview of your entry.

Peter Dudley said...

Sarah, thanks for coming by! Sorry to hear you won't be entering. There are some really spectacular entries already in the first 40. Mine pales in comparison to those already on my short list.

Precie, thanks for the comment! I just read yours a little bit ago and marveled that we both started in a similar place but took it different directions. I loved yours. It's one of those I referred to in my reply to Sarah above. :-)

Wendy said...

Peter, wow. I disagree that yours pales. Definitely not. Powerfully done. Great work.

Peter Dudley said...

Wendy, thank you so much! Very nice to read such an encouraging comment early in the day. :-)

Aerin said...

Not your best work, thank god. You gotta give the rest of us a chance.

Not your best work, but still so amazing. "Atomic flashbulb" makes me salivate in covetousness.

Precie said...

Thank you, but I think you underestimate your entry. It might be quieter than some others, but it is just as spectacular.

Peter Dudley said...

Aerin, salivating in covetousness would be a great name for a rock band. Why, by the way, did you need to say "not your best work" twice? grumblegrumble

Precie, you are a dear, and although I realize that CoN is a great place for us all to gather and flatter each other... wait, what was I saying? Oh, yeah, thanks for the kind words. :-)

Aerin said...

Pete, I had to say it twice because who knows when I'll ever get the chance again?

Peter Dudley said...

Do all your online men friends feel like a yo-yo on the end of your string?

Sarah Laurenson said...

She's amazing, isn't she. Takes people down with one word, then builds them up with another. I think I'm in love. :-)

This requires multiple readings to get the many layers. Very strong stuff. Only part I wasn't sure of was the bullet and the gun. Was he the shooter, too? Seemed like that's where you were going.