Our competition for July was a simple one: Write a short story of no more than 150 words, and include the words “car guard”, “lover” and “shoes”.
We had a great response, both from people who have completed courses, and those who haven’t.
The winner is Esra Marshall, a past participant of our 10-week Creative Writing Course. Her achievement is the more remarkable because English is her second language; her first is Turkish.
Here’s her winning entry:
How can you afford a pair of shoes which is more than my three months rent? And leave it lying under a car, bright pink and lovely even half stuck in the mud but so lonely, so lost?
I see them every night coming in; skimpy clothes and high heels, even in winter, running, skipping between the cars, between lives, just want to party, just want to forget how life is not fair. They don’t have the right legs, right weight or right lover, ever. How their father gave them the wrong car for their 21st?
I’ve always thought life was fair. If you worked hard and maybe prayed a little, you’ll have a wife, healthy children and a good job.
I had them all: a pretty wife, a boy and a girl and I was a doctor.
Then the war came. Now, I’m a car guard.
But so many other entries were worth a second and a third look that we’ve created a runner-up category. Read all these stories on our website here.
Runners up – in no particular order
1. by Trisha Smith
To keep away the boredom on car guard duty I take particular notice of the shoes that drivers wear. I think they tell more about a person than their car does.
Each night this beautiful woman parks her car, goes into a bar for a few hours, comes out alone, tips me and leaves. She never wears the same pair of shoes twice and never red ones.
Perhaps she is meeting with a lover?
Last night things were different.
She wore unforgettable red shoes, stayed thirty minutes, came out with a man, ignored me, got into his car and left with him.
Tonight her car is still here.
After my shift I buy a newspaper. On the front page is a photograph of her red shoe with a request for information regarding an unidentified murdered woman.
I dial the number.
Then I realise that I had not noticed his shoes.
2. LUNCH DATE by Karen Jennings
Two hours I waited at that restaurant. Two hours. By the time I had given up and gone outside, the carguard was asleep under a tree and a bird had shat on his shoe.
“That’s exactly it,” I thought, placing my R2 tip beside him so as not to wake him. Then I got into my car and began to reverse. I had intended to start cursing my lover once I was out of earshot, but I couldn’t get the image of that shoe out of my mind.
“Exactly it,” I said again, this time out loud. “When you’re not looking, the world takes a dump on you.”
That was when I heard a cry and, looking behind me, saw I had reversed over the carguard’s foot.
3. Goodbye by Zena John
Sniffing in the unforgiving winter morning, fifty year old Sindy stretched painfully, winding her fingers staccato-like through the freezing air roaming Pretoria’s Rebecca Street graveyard. It was an unusually early shift for her, as a car guard. For two decades she had fought bitter turf wars to keep her spot. Yesterday’s daily Star had advertised the funeral of the late musician Seth Kuper, an old playboy. He was Sindy’s lover twenty years ago, when they were fledgling car guards. She still wore the leather loafers flung at her the day he left. The funeral procession should be on its way to Sindy’s cemetery any time now. The hearse’s siren wailed from afar, and echoed woodenly in her heart. Sindy kicked her battered right shoe against old Smiths’ tombstone, her favourite spot. She looked out through watery curtains at the black limousine approaching and felt her legs buckle gently.
4. by Helen Webster
Jackson was a lover, of women, children, wine and … shoes.
Women were here to please, and be pleased. Since a tiny boy, he pleased women.
Children he loved, they surprised him, made him think.
His fear, greater than icy nights, was boredom, that exhaust fume fog invading the brain.
He surrounded himself with children, grateful for their chatter, patting their fat little bottoms.
Women came and went, like wine.
He wandered supermarket aisles, loudly debating the merits of Oddbins 910.
What he loved most in the universe, was lying near the trolleys, watching shoes.
Shoes were noble.
Shoes seldom disappointed.
Marching past, close to his face, never did they pity or judge him. Heels he liked, laces he loved, suede was sinfully soft, deliciously reminding him of the skin at the top of women’s thighs, just below …
“Voetsak! Car guards watch CARS, you bastard! They don’t lie, suiping.”
5. The Guard by Merle Grace
Later on, he knew everybody in town. In the mornings it was mostly ladies. High heels, lipstick, handbags. After five the men arrived.
Some of them greeted. Some never made eye contact, no matter how hard he tried. He imagined their lives in big houses, warm fires, happy children. When they did not tip, he imagined stripping them from their clothes, and shoes, forcing them to hold his hungry children.
One day a new woman arrived. She did not look like the others. Her eyes were sad. Her jeans faded. One of her t-shirts read “ACDC,” the other “Cape Town Art Museum.” He excused her for not greeting or tipping, but he was sorry when he heard her conversation with someone who must have been her lover. The way she looked at him made him blush.
“I hate these white trash car guards.” was all he heard.
6. by Merle Grace
My mother parked the Mercedes. The rain kept pounding down on us, like bullets. Chasing us.Chasing me.
I stared at the back of his hair. There were little grey streaks in it. I found it disgusting. As if mould had already started to grow on him. He smelled of my mother, always smelled of her. I did not want to talk to either of them.
My mum thinks I have no idea what’s going on, but I am twelve you know.