Two people have been sleeping together, but have entirely different views and expectations of the relationship. One of them sees it as drunken sex every now and again when they meet up with groups of friends or after work. The other sees it as the start of a relationship that is about to move to the next stage. Neither has communicated any of this to the other.

Write a short story of no more than 250 words in which they continue not to communicate any of this, as they discuss plans for the upcoming Christmas holidays / the possibility of holding a dinner party together.

We had a clear winner, Jeff Meyer, who now joins the select ranks of those who have won the competition more than once. Well done, Jeff. We loved your details, loved the energy, loved the business of the scene (that hand crawling closer and closer to its personal nirvana!) – and especially the twist in its tail. Jeff has chosen Collectors Treasury in Johannesburg as his independent book shop and will be spending his R200 voucher there.

Ask a serious wine-drinker like Richard Hornsby about the 2008 Camberley Shiraz and he’ll tell you it’s probably better than screwing the young Anne Bancroft without a condom.

Sitting in the cramped, noisy bar, with almost a bottle of this ambrosia under his belt, his right hand was well on its way towards what he liked to call Isobel’s Gates of Heaven.

“Imagine it”, he was saying “an anachronistic dinner party, where time is completely suspended. Is, go for it, who cracks your invites, and why them?”

“No Rich, your idea, you first.”

“Cool. Eight people, including you and me. I’ll start with Caligula – ooh, randy bugger that. To match him I’d go for Anaïs Nin – you ever catch ‘Henry and June’? Shit, talk about heat! Fucked like a fish…” His hand was extremely close to it’s destination, and he thanked all the gods that the toilet wasn’t calling. To stand now would be death.

“And Wilde, definitely Wilde…I love his stuff. Hmm…lemme think now. Ok, Bierce…yes, Ambrose Bierce…imagine him and Oscar discussing his Devil’s Dictionary – faaarck, that’ll be something! To really spice things up I’d throw in Hitler. Ha! Imagine him with Wilde! Not sure of my last one. Your turn, Is.”

Her left hand reached for him under the table. With the heat of her breath impossibly close to his ear she whispered “Mum and dad, Sal and Rob and their two kids. Family, Rich, family.”

And a worthy runner-up was Corinne Rosmarin. We simply loved the switch at the close.

Red or white?

 Jess held the candles thoughtfully.  Would Pete prefer vanilla white or red?  Red is sexy and he certainly liked her sexy.  She felt her face flush at the memory of the last party at Dean and Kathy’s house.  OMG.  That was without doubt the best sex ever.  In Kathy’s dressing room – on the floor – with all those mirrors reflecting every angle of his…

“So – how many people you inviting?” Jess looked up at Pete and felt a rush of affection.  Gorgeous and so helpful. “I thought we’d invite two couples, then with us that would make six and…”

“But what about Vicky and Jabu?  They’ll be here this weekend, you’ve got to invite them – they always get a party going. And that girl in your office, Kelly, didn’t you say you thought she was lonely?”

Jess thought about Kelly, surprised Pete remembered their conversation.  “Jah, I could but then we get uneven numbers.  Also… I thought we should keep it more intimate…” 

Pete smiled, putting his arm round her. “You, my girl, have a one track mind! What are you thinking of – holding an orgy?” Jess playfully swatted him.  “Seriously Pete we need to get the sms’s out – and we need to decide what we’re cooking.”

“Ag don’t stress – why don’t you make a big pot of pasta and once you’ve opened the vino no-one will care.  Anyhow. Give me Kelly’s number I’ll call her for you. You’ve got enough on your plate.”

There were other entries that we’d like to mention for elements of excellence:

Mandy Collins’s for her dialogue

“What shall we do for Christmas?” Katie asked sleepily, throwing off the covers and going over to the window to open the curtains.

 “What?” grunted Rick. “God, do you have to open those the minute you open your eyes?”

 “Don’t be such a grouch. It’s a beautiful day. Maybe we should pop down to that market at Pirates this morning; get some breakfast.”

“Ja, but what did you say about Christmas? It’s months away!”

“Only two months. I was just wondering if you had any plans. My folks are renting an enormous house down at Cintsa – I thought Christmas at the beach would be quite nice, and you could meet them. Can you take leave?”

Rick sat up straight in bed, shook his pounding head, rubbed his eyes. “Whoa. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves – I honestly haven’t given Christmas a second thought. I, um, might have other plans.”

Katie’s face lit up. “Really? Like what? I’m open to suggestions.”

Geez. He was really talking himself into a corner. “Um, I don’t know yet. I told you – I haven’t given it much thought.”

“Well, you’d better – and fast. You’ll be lucky to get a booking anywhere now. Some places book up a year in advance.”

 “Yeah, well I’m not really a Christmassy kinda guy.”

“Oh?”

“Nah. It’s not really my thing.”

“Oh. Well what about if you ignored Christmas and just thought of it as a beach holiday?”

“I don’t know. I’m more a mountains kinda guy.” Rick’s head was ready to explode now. He ran a hand through his hair.

“Well that sounds fun. You know, I’ve never been to the Drakensberg, and I’ve lived inSouth Africa my whole life. Weird, hey.”

“Okay, look. As usual it’s been fun, but I’m really hung-over. Can we do this another day? Please just go home. I’m not in the mood.”

“Okay. Geez. I was just asking. You’re so not a morning person, are you, sweetie? But you’re so hot when you’re grumpy I just can’t resist you. I’ll call you later, okay?”

Okay, whatever

Simamile Ndaba’s for the emotional wrench she introduced into the climax of her story

As he climbed out of bed in desperate need of a piss she asked, “so did you see my email?”

“Which one?”

“You know the one I sent just after the one I sent saying I’d be coming over?”

“I’d logged off by then,”

“Oh, that’s strange,”

He really needed to piss, and lying when naked wasn’t the most comfortable thing.

“I need,” he started to say.

“It’s strange because I received a delivery report saying you’d read it.”

Shit.

“I opened it then I had to log off before reading it,” he explained moving towards the bathroom.

“Okay, so you saw it was about my dinner party?”

He stopped just before entering the loo and looked at her. Her hair was mussed, lipstick smudged.

“I’m busy that weekend.”

“I thought you said you didn’t read it.”

Shit.

He closed the bathroom door. Pissed and sat on the toilet lid.

“Babes,” she said from the other side.

“Yeah,”

“Are you peeing?”

He frowned.

“Uhm…”

“You never close the door when you pee.”

He stood up, silently opened the lid and loudly closed it. He slowly washed his hands, slowly opened the door.

She was wearing his shirt, he hated it when she wore his shirts. He remembered asking her not to wear his shirts.

“About my party…”

“Listen, hun,’ he cut her off, “I don’t think we should do this…”

“What’s this?”

“This whole showing up together in public thing.”

She flinched. He felt like a jerk saying it to her face but she knew he hadn’t signed up for this let’s call/email/fuck/meet the parents cap.

“But we’ve been going out for three months,”

“No hun, we’ve been sleeping together for three months.”

She fell silent. Picked up her clothes and banged his bathroom door. She emerged moments later, shaking as she walked out with him closely following her.

“Caroline-”

“Don’t,” she snapped. She didn’t look at him. That was her last word. He shrugged as he closed his front door. Women, who got them?

Shirley Fitzgerald’s for the casual nonchalance with which her guy dismissed his girl’s lustful, Shirley Valentine-type dreams!

Juanita held her breath, waiting for the man’s reply.

“Possible, yes … but it all depends.” With a hint of nonchalance, Bradford casually dismissed her request of spending the Christmas holidays together.

Ravishingly handsome, dashing, suave … he knew this woman would do just about anything for him.

 “Could we at least hold a small dinner party for a few friends?” Sounding desperate, Juanita realised the importance of upholding a calm exterior.

“My place, or yours?” he answered, already anticipating the ‘after party.’ And it must be before the seventeenth.”

 “Why is that?”

 “I have a trip planned to the Greek islands.”

 Her heart leapt! He was going to ask her to accompany him– she was sure of it.

“The fact that it is winter there, makes it all that more cosy.”

 Toying with her glass of wine, the rich, robust liquid was a welcome relief for a dry throat. ‘Trust a man to think about sex,’ she thought.

Juanita imagined a romantic holiday set in the turquoise-blue Aegean. This could be the start of a wonderful relationship.

Wild lust, on the other hand soared through Bradford’s veins. Drunken evenings in the tavernas, beautiful Greek women. This was to be the holiday of a lifetime.

Dare she ask …? Her heart was pounding.

Quite suddenly, a small, quiet voice ventured a question.

“Who is going with you?”

“Oh, just some of the lads – Martin, Kevin, Peter …we’re going to have a ball!

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