Below is an entry I submitted to the Writers’ Union of Canada’s 250-word “Postcard Story” competition last year. Another delicate, young thought-dove cast forth from my solitary literary ark, never to be heard from again. Truth is, I think I’d probably be willing to part with a kidney to have something even remotely resembling an olive branch come streaking across the horizon and into my writing life at this point. (Wait, the kidney’s the one you can donate and still get by with just one, right? Anyway, you know what I mean…)
Whatever the judges may have thought, however, I always rather liked this tight, modestly-sized narrative. It might, perhaps, be a little obscure, but, then again, so am I. So what other options do I have? Plus, you guys are clever, right?
I’d love to hear what you think.
“It’s 250 words. You’re going to want to tell me, but you need to show me.”
She was right, of course, but it was a tall order. An approach that would allow for only a single vector. Gear down, essence screaming toward truth at alarming velocity. The subtle rubber-kiss of wheels at tarmac versus a vulgar, titillating fireball.
“Only connect,” Forster rails at us from the grave, yet we are alone as always. Alone with our apparent immediacy, our e-mails and texts. Maybe more alone than we’ve ever been before.
Reclined, I can feel the warmth of the afternoon sun stealing through the window and embracing my extended legs, crossed at the ankles. Drowsing, willing myself not to surface, but, instead, to linger unfocused, suffused with the presence of absence.
What an odd sort of emotional calculus seethes within us. Equation after barely understood equation twitching at our puppet strings, overwhelming us with the complexity of the exercise. Pinball math. The glimmering buckshot of lives rocketing forward on the hard cusp of some phantom plunger. Bouncing, twirling, re-bounding, generating light and sound like fireballs along constrained parabolas infinite with possibilities. Until a final, deceptively smooth arc awakens us to the creeping momentum of our descent, beyond the salvation of bumper or paddle, accelerating toward oblivion with no second chances remaining in the breech. Oh, to swerve, to master the trajectory…
“Wake up,” she whispers.
“I am,” I respond.
Am I? I wonder.