July 12, 2009

Clarity of Night Contest Entry

UPDATE: My entry is posted as #97. So many, many of my friends are also entering! And, although I've only made it through five entries so far, the quality does not disappoint.

Jason Evans is once again running a short fiction contest on his blog, The Clarity of Night. All entries must be no more than 250 words, in any genre or style, somehow inspired by or relating to the theme of "In Vino Veritas (Truth in Wine)" (see accompanying photo, taken by Jason Evans).

I'm sure he'll get well over 150 entries for this contest, so be sure to get yours in no later than July 15th, 2009. (Full rules at the link.) Also, his contests typically generate some really terrific writing--from high quality to high entertainment--so be sure to visit Jason's blog and read the entries. Already there are more than 80 posted.

Below is my entry into the contest. Although I like it for the most part, I think I was trying to do too much in just 250 words.

Judgment Day

The younger vines below stand like gnarly Jesuses, wired to their posts, monuments to the dozens whose blood soaked this soil under the roar of his machine gun. I puff my way up the dirt path to his plain farmhouse dug into the hillside. My leg aches as if his German bullet were still lodged in the bone, these fifty years later.

Sweating, I arrive at the faded green door surrounded by once-white trim, brittle with age. As I lean to knock, the door swings inward. My heart races. My leg throbs.

"Bonjour," he says. His weathered face is furrowed with timeless grief. His crooked hand is worn hard and smooth. His eyes, however, have softened. No longer the cold, leaden discs of my nightmares, they are now clouded and wet. "Come in. Please."

He ushers me in, seats me, pours. "I’ve been saving this." The label's thick script reads, Sang du TombĂ©, blood of the fallen. "It's the last of my very first vintage. His voice dies, leaving the final word lingering, and he lowers his face to his hands.

As he sobs, I exhume the small vial of arsenic from my pocket and open it. He looks up, into my eyes. I can see that if I pour it into his wine, he will drink. "I've been saving this," I say, and I set the vial next to the bottle. I rise and depart, leaving him alone with his regret and his decision.


fairyhedgehog said...

I like that. The ending really works for me, leaving us not knowing what the decision will be.

Sylvia said...

I like this a lot. And I would really like to see a broader version of it that wasn't so limited in word count. Please? :)

writtenwyrdd said...

I do like this, Peter, but I have to agree that it's got too much to be a full story. It is a great opener, however. I'd really love to know more about what's going on here.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Oh my. Very well done!

Works well for me as is, but yes, there's a larger story here, too.

I'm roughly halfway through the 100 entries posted so far. Still have to hit 20 - 46 and 81 - 100. I suppose you're in those numbers as I don't remember reading this there.

PJD said...

Thank you all! We'll see if I can ever expand this into its full form. The more I think about the landscape and the characters, the more I think I like them and the story behind them.

Plus, a research trip to the south of France would not be unwelcome.

(Sarah, I was posted at #97 and so was in one of the two groups you had not yet read.)

JR's Thumbprints said...

I've read every story so far (100 entries) and may have to revisit some of the later ones again. It seems I'm suffering from flash-fiction burnout. Still, I left a blurry-eyed comment regarding your story at Clarity of Night.

Catherine Vibert said...

Your story rocked. I left comments already on CoN, but just wanted to come by and tell you over here. I could see it as the beginning scene to a movie or a novel, that then goes into a long and epic flashback and ends back at the same scene. There is so much that wants to be explored there.

BTW: Any chance I can (please) have access to your poetry? I tried to click from FB a couple of times and found it was a secret with denied access.

bluesugarpoet said...

your story left me wanting more. i've thought of several analogies that would describe that feeling, but all seem entirely inappropriate to post on your blog. :) nicely done!