December Writing Contest Winner
We have a winner for the December Writing Contest! Please congratulate Bryden on his excellent story, “Unworthy”. It won with over sixty-five percent of the vote. For a little background on him, he is the author of The Chronicles of Jenson Quest, in which he has two books out so far. It is a Sci-fi adventure series. If you enjoyed his contest entry, you might check his books out!
We also have a second place winner, Ella Stradling, who wrote her touching story, “Santa’s Workshop Inc.”. Both contestants have already been contacted in reference to receiving their prizes. Hopefully they find some great books to buy with the gift-cards! Thanks to everyone who participated. We had some wonderful entries this month.
Remember that all of you can continue to participate in future contests and any of you could become the next person to get first place! Only the prize winners have a three-month period that they cannot qualify for the finalist round. Despite this, many do come back and submit entries just for fun.
For those of you who didn’t see the winning story, here it is:
By J Bryden Lloyd
Paul was cold. Paul was always cold but this morning, as he pushed the frosty paper and boxes from around him, the sight of the thin layer of snow made him shiver from his core.
He pulled his once fine woollen coat tight to his chest and battled against his stiff back and legs until he was standing. The alleyway was silent and beyond Paul could see that the street beyond had a much greater thickness of white powder making it seem like a magical scene at the end of a dark tunnel. He started to move towards the end of the alleyway but stopped as he realised he was being watched.
The dark suited man looked at him with kind grey eyes and nodded in acknowledgement as Paul turned towards him. “Can I help you Mister?” asked Paul.
“Do you know what day it is?” asked the man.
“I think it is Christmas day.”
“It is,” the man agreed, “and I have come to offer you today.”
“Excuse me?” Paul frowned.
“I have it in my power to offer you this one day.”
“I don’t understand.”
The suited man gestured towards the darkened window alongside Paul. He turned to face the reflection in the window and saw his favourite suit and perfect shoes; his coat back to its former magnificence and his immaculately groomed face staring back at him. “I can offer you today.” the man repeated.
Paul looked down at his clothes, tears flowing freely as he stood before the reflection. “I still don’t… what‘s this about, who are you?”
“You would consider me an angel and I would consider it an honour if you would accept this one gift from me. It is all I am permitted to offer.”
Paul laughed then stopped. He had not heard his own laugh for so long, he had forgotten how it sounded, “An angel? Why would an angel be offering me anything?” as he said it his smile was fading. Paul allowed his gaze to fall to the mound of cardboard and paper that had been his home for the last two weeks. The scuffed side of a black hand-made Italian shoe with a split sole was just visible. “No!”
“I’m sorry. I petitioned for longer for you, but I was over-ruled. I was given the power to do this last thing for you, before you go.”
Paul stared at the mound that was his earthly body and the tears flowed, “All I wanted to do was to put things right with my family.” he whispered, “My wife and children did not deserve what I did to them. I suppose I deserve this.” he gestured towards the mound, “I’m not worthy of your offer. We should just go and you can take me to hell right now.”
The angel laughed gently, “You aren’t going to hell, Paul. I wouldn’t be here if you were. What you did may not have been entirely legal and you will have to answer for that, but you did it for your family and your actions have meant that your children will live long and happy lives. Now, do you want the gift I am offering you?”
“What, just turn up on Christmas morning with no gifts, unannounced, and say ‘sorry honey, I’m only staying today then I’m gone forever’?”
“Something like that,” said the angel, “whatever you say will be accepted.”
“Just like that?”
“Just like that.” the angel nodded.
“Even if I tell them the truth?”
The angel nodded again, “If that is what you choose to do. I know that your boys would like to see their father. They have prayed for that one thing incessantly for the last three years.”
Paul stepped towards the mound but did not reach down. He did not wish to see what he had become since he left. “Very well, I accept.”
“Excellent!” the angel clapped his hands happily, “Now, about that ‘turning up without gifts’ issue,” the angel turned and revealed a sleek red Mazda coupe, which Paul swore had not been there a few moments before, “voila!”
“Nice car.” Paul said.
“It’s your wife’s,” said the angel, “well, it will be when you give it to her.”
Paul got in and started the car as the angel sat alongside him grinning.
“You wanna do your seat belt? It’s looking a little icy.”
“We don’t have far to go.” the angel replied.
“By my reckoning it’s a good two-hour drive.” Paul said as he slipped the gear lever into drive.
He drove to the end of the alleyway and turned left onto the street. The scene immediately shimmered and changed, and Paul found himself driving down a familiar street.
“How did you…?”
“Yeah, whatever.” Paul chuckled. He pulled onto the drive of the old white house and sighed heavily, “I’m not sure about this.”
“Gifts are in the trunk for the kids,” said the angel, “also a little something for Celia and a check that will clear the last of the debts your life insurance didn’t cover. I’m sorry I was unable to do more.”
Paul looked at him tearfully, “I don’t know what to say.”
“You have until midnight.” said the angel.
“Is that when the car turns into a pumpkin and you into a mouse?” Paul smiled.
The angel watched from the passenger seat as the gift-laden Paul walked up to the front door, hesitated for a long time, and eventually, rang the doorbell.
Celia opened the door and stared unblinking at her husband. They spoke briefly and the angel smiled as she threw her arms around him. Immediately the three boys appeared, dragging the embracing couple and the packages inside and closing the door.
All of the other contestant’s entries can be viewed here. I am truly pleased to see so many people were inspired to contribute their stories. The next contest will begin on the weekend of January 21st. I will look forward to seeing what participants come up with next!