February 2013 Writing Contest Winner

Sarah Fredricks- 1st Place Winner of Mistress’ February 2013 Writing Contest!

Sarah Fredricks- 1st Place Winner of Mistress’ February 2013 Writing Contest!

We have a winner for the February writing contest.  Thank you to everyone for your patience during the delay.  After a careful selection of twelve judges reviewed the four finalists, points were awarded based on their votes.  For each of their first choices, one full point was counted.  For each of their second choices, a half a point was awarded.  This allowed for a total of eighteen points to be distributed.  Everyone should keep in mind that judging is subjective, but a wide variety of people took part in order to provide the most fair outcome possible (ie- country of origin, gender, age, background).  So without further delay, I will list the order of the contestants according to their total points.

Sarah Fredricks (7)
Stacey Roberts (5.5)
Debra Dunbar (3.5)
Christie Stratos (2)

Sarah Fredricks is our official winner for this month with her touching story, “Her First Day”.  Please do congratulate her.  For a background on Sarah, she is a romance novel writer with several books available at this time.  For more information about her and her writing, please visit her blog here.  Her story will be posted below for those who missed it.

Our runner-up for this contest is Stacey Roberts with his clever story, “Passing Time”.  Stacey is also an author (see his site here) and co-hosts the SOJCast radio show.  You can read his story entry here.

I am in the process of contacting the winner and runner-up at this time.  They will receive their gift cards in their email.  Thanks to everyone who participated.  We had some outstanding entries this month that certainly made this competition a difficult one.  I look forward to seeing more in the future. For those who are not aware, this was a last-minute change in the method for judging the winner.  I will be announcing a new and more permanent method within the next week.  Stay tuned for more information on that.   The details on the Monthly Writing Contest Page will be updated to reflect the changes as well.

For those who are interested in the next contest, it will begin on March 7th and remain open until March 28th with a St. Patrick’s Day theme.  You can find further information on the Monthly Writing Contest page.  No one can submit an entry until the contest opens on March 7th, but you can at least get started on writing it.  If you are not subscribed to this blog, please do so if you don’t want to miss important updates on future contests.

Finally, here is the winning story:

Her First Day

by Sarah Fredricks

He sat in their bedroom chair and watched her as she slept. He’d sat there every night for the last six months. Until he’d started this ritual he’d kind of forgotten how serenely beautiful she was. He hated that he’d taken her for granted, hadn’t told her enough that he loved her.

She stirred. He glanced at her clock – seven a.m. – waking up time. Today was another first for her. She’d got through her first Christmas, her first birthday. And now it was Valentine’s Day. He felt his heart crack. It startled him, because it was impossible. How could a heart already broken crack any further?

Tears fell silently from his eyes as she opened hers. She stared up at the ceiling. He knew what she was thinking – she was wondering how she would get through this day.

He’d always been a glass half full kind of guy and until six months ago he’d never cried. Now, he couldn’t stop, but then, he’d never had the opportunity before to be an observer of others. Not only did he feel her pain, he absorbed it. His tears were her tears – that was the only explanation he’d been able to come up with. How otherwise had he cried so much when she had cried hardly at all?

He closed his eyes against the bleakness on her face. That bleakness hadn’t changed in six months. In these few moments before she took a deep breath and started her day, her eyes always looked so vacant. He felt the darkness swirl around him, saw the velvet black as it swamped him. He tensed against its effect and waited for it to squeeze him hard as he journeyed through its vortex.

His eyes flew open. The blackness had slunk away. He glanced over at her and saw life shimmering in her eyes. For the first time in six months he breathed more easily. Today was the first day her bleakness had cleared on its own. Up until now, it had taken the presence of their son to chase away the deep, dark shadows.

As she stretched out he continued to watch her, with a tender smile on his face. He was proud of how far she’d come in six months. Proud of how she’d stood up to everyone and everything. Proud that she hadn’t caved in to her parents’ demands to go home.

Just as she started to move the quilt back a little body barrelled into her and pushed her down into the mattress.

‘Mum! Look what I found on my pillow!’

The little body waved something at her. She sat up against her pillows and stilled the waving hand. She couldn’t believe what she was looking at.

He grinned. He’d known that would surprise her. He’d left it to give her hope, to let her know he was there for her. He’d wanted his son to give her this gift of love.

Tears poured down her face now as she recognised the tiny red flower in her son’s hand. It was the single rosebud that had blossomed on their rose bush – the rose bush they’d planted the day they’d married.

The day it had opened its heart to the sun he’d picked it for her and presented it to her on a tray filled with her favourite food. She’d dried it out, and six months ago she’d left it with him as a symbol of her love.

He held his breath, waiting for her wracking sobs to subside. His fingers touched his own cheek. There were no tears. He smiled. She’d finally taken ownership of her own grief. Now, her healing would begin.

She hiccupped as her overwhelming emotions subsided, and she stared at the rose. She reached out and stroked its petals. ‘Where did you get this?’ she whispered.

‘Daddy gave it to me.’

She looked her son in the eye. So many times in the last six months he’d said that. It had started with the toe nail clippers. She’d found them on the bathroom counter and asked her son how he’d managed to climb up to the cupboard and remove them. It had been five months ago and she was certain they hadn’t spent a month on display. There was nothing on show in the bathroom; everything had a place in the cupboard. There had been other moments in the months that followed but nothing since the ice cream last month. She’d gone into the kitchen to see why her son was so quiet and found him stuffing his face with it, the empty tub sitting by the sink.

At that moment she’d felt as if she might collapse under the weight of it all until something had strangely held her up, made her feel lighter.

As she lay in her bed, she closed her eyes and prayed for assistance in helping her son through their loss. Just at that moment she sensed the comfort of an embrace, an embrace that felt so much like her husband’s. She leaned into its warmth, a sense of peace enveloping her.

She felt the small, soft body of her son snuggle in beside her.

‘Hello Daddy.’

She tensed, until the warmth of the embrace seemed to massage her shoulders. She sighed. Her husband had always known just where to apply the pressure.

She imagined she heard his voice whisper in her head.

‘Happy Valentine’s Day darling. You’re ready now. Know that I loved you deeply. Know that my heart broke over and over as I kept watch over you. Know that you’re strong enough now to move on. You’ll find happiness again, I promise you.’

She shuddered as a soft breeze swiped around her and caressed her face.

‘Bye Daddy.’

She sat up and stared at her son. ‘Why do you say that sweetheart?’

He pointed to the window. ‘Look Mummy. He’s waving goodbye.’ He waved as his daddy’s spirit floated away.

She turned and looked out the window, confused that the curtains were open. In the blink of an eye she saw a swirling of puffy cloud blot out the early morning sun. She smiled. In that moment she caught the face of her beloved man.

A stillness, a peace, settled in her heart.

He’d been right. She was strong enough now. And maybe her little boy really had been able to see his daddy’s ghost. She held him to her heart and breathed in the innocence of her child.

He was her Valentine for now and she’d relish every moment of this wonderful day with him. The first, bright day of their future.

~ by Suzie on February 15, 2013.

6 Responses to “February 2013 Writing Contest Winner”

  1. Great story. It had me in tears and I am equal parts cynic and ice water. Beautifully written and just a sweet little time out.

  2. All were great stories. Congrats to everyone who participated!

  3. Congrats! They were great stories, well deserved wins here!

  4. Interesting to see how it all worked out…


  5. Congratulations to the winners! I appreciate the opportunity to particpate. Suzie, let me know if you would ever like an impartial judge – I would be happy to help.

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