Friday, February 05, 2010

My Latest Short Story Effort

I recently entered the short story contest at Reading Writers (results here). The prompt was "Snow" with a line drawing of a cabin with a snowman in the foreground. The word count limit was 500.

I had relatively high hopes for my story but didn't win or even get an honorable mention.

This is my favorite contest for multiple reasons. It's the first I ever entered, the first I ever placed in (an honorable mention), and the first I ever won. Even better, the judging typically makes sense to me. I'm not generally confused too terribly by the results.

Check out the winner and perhaps consider giving the next iteration of this long-running contest a try.

And see my entry below.


***

A Withering Cold
by Trevor Hambric

I’ll soon be a snowman.

I didn’t expect it to end quite this way. Snow in September, me sitting under a pine tree, miserably shivering. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the last three months, it’s that life has infinite capacity for painful surprises.

Was it really only June that Lori found guilt and said goodbye? It seems so much longer. So many waves of pain since.

I have a nine-year-old son and wife at home. I’ve come to these mountains so they won’t be the ones to find me. My son, particularly, I want to protect from my weakness. The years ahead, alone with his mom, will be hard enough.

My suffering isn’t for Lori, exactly. It is for our relationship, for what she and I were together, what it said about the world’s offerings.

Who could guess, as I sit here, minutes from eternity, that I was at my happiest only four months ago? That life had started to blossom as the world opened up and began to make sense.

One day, I heard ‘I love you’ in the throes of lovemaking three times in as many breaths.

Two days later, when Lori found guilt, we were done.

I tried not to be broken by her pronouncement. Tried to stand up like nothing had happened.
But for the first time in my life, real trying proved worthless.

Now, having failed my calling to strength, I watch my tears fall to the snow, watch them darken a small circular patch in front of me. It’s an impressive flow, more tears than I cried in the twenty years before I met this woman.

I waited this long to say goodbye to the world--stood up and pretended recovery--to give me time to prepare the way for my son, time to know that I had--financially, at least--stood strong for him.

But it occurs to me now, as I feel my numbed body begin to sag, that my son will soon hear that I am dead. That his life will be broken in a very specific way. I see his face turn, tears welling.

It’s not an image I’ve allowed myself to conjure so directly until now. In all the time leading up to me stepping into the snow with a bottle of pills, I simply thought, He will suffer. But I never allowed myself to see his face.

I realize that I’ve dropped the now-empty pill bottle somewhere nearby.

It matters, I suppose, because I’m deciding, as the cold blossoms in me, that I have to get up and go back inside. Have to dispose of that bottle somehow.

My son needs me. He needs his father.

I attempt to prop myself up on one arm, attempt to lift myself from the crippling cold.

But it’s too late. Standing is impossible.

In the end--I now know--I’m an ill-formed snowman. And my days of standing are done.

***

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