Two exciting things happened this week! The first is that a few weeks ago fellow blogger and writer Jacklyn Paul reached out and asked if she could interview me for her blog. My first instinct was to assume she'd mistaken me for someone else. My second was to say yes anyway, because who doesn't like to talk about themselves? Once that was settled she sent me a short list of questions that seriously blew me away. So thoughtful and interesting, and really got me thinking about writing, blogging, time management, creativity, and why I approach social media the way I do (IE, haphazardly and with few expectations). If you'd like to read the interview, you can do so here. And thanks again to Jacklyn for such a great interview experience!
The other exciting thing is that last night, I attended the release party and celebration for this year's Flash Fiction contest, hosted by UNCW's Randall Library. You might remember me mentioning that I'd won first place this year (my prize: glory, plus $200), which meant I got to read my winning entry at a lovely reception last night. Our own Publishing Laboratory designs and prints a gorgeous book of all the winners and honorable mentions, and a class in the art department designs artwork to go with each story, so it's truly a collaborative, cross campus event. As for the actual stories, the parameters were thus: they had to adhere to the theme (this year it was "The Power of Ideas"), they had to mention Randall Library at some point, and they had to be less than 500 words long. I'm going to post mine below, now that the book has come out, and because I've been so busy lately (it is LITERALLY the last week of classes - the end is so close!) that I'm short on content. I hope you enjoy it!
* * *
We jolted forward when our ship ran aground on the lakeshore. Some of us who fell to the deck stood up but others stayed down, their cheeks pressed against the worn wooden planks, their eyes closed in something like a prayer.
We’d been sailing in circles for days, trying to find a way from the lake to the ocean. Gustav claimed it was only a matter of time, told us that all water eventually led to the sea. “If we keep searching,” he said, “the right path will bloom before us.” But that was a week ago. The other night, as we were lying in our hammocks below the deck, swaying with each small wave that brushed the side of the boat, we whispered our fears in hushed tones.
“We’ll die on this lake,” Dominick said.
“We’ll return home as failures,” Chester said.
“How do we know the ocean even exists?” Andre asked.
After that we fell silent. None of us had ever seen the ocean, but Gustav assured us it existed. “The earth is 70% water,” he was fond of saying. “Sail in one direction long enough and we’re bound to find it.” And because we lived in Utah, and the biggest body of water we could find was the Great Salt Lake, we loaded up our makeshift ship and, drunk with hope, glided onto its placid surface.
We didn’t have much in common – Gustav was a bank teller, Dominick was a stay-at-home dad, Chester worked the circulation desk at Randall Library, Andre coached the high school badminton team – but we each believed fervently in the power of the ocean. Though it was Gustav’s idea to go, we were happy to follow.
After a few weeks, however, our sacrifices began to weigh on us. From our solar powered radio, we learned that patrons had begun stealing library books. The badminton team lost the state championship. Dominick’s children gave an interview from the sandy shore where we’d left them, crying that their daddy was gone. At night, when the sun sank below the water and the sky was an ocean of black ink, we heard the echo of their voices, even after we shut the radio off.
The morning our ship wrecked on the shore was foggy, thick mist rising from the lake, so we heard Dominick’s children before we saw them. They weren’t alone. We watched, horrified, as a tiny army marched towards us, waded into the lake, their pants rolled up past their ankles. They climbed up the sides of the boat, tipped it dangerously to one side. Dominick stood on the bow of the ship, one foot poised at the edge, toeing the empty space between boat and air, water and space, dreams and the awful, waking world. We knew it was only a matter of time before he jumped, before all of us did, and we looked forward to it. Only Gustav, his shoulders slumped forward, his face laced with tragedy, remained still.