May 2014 writing challenge
Write a short story of no more than 200 words in which two characters fall in love for reasons that your perspective character finds surprising. For the sake of psychological verisimilitude, draw freely on your own experience.
The winner: Rahiem Whisgary, for his taut, understated, untitled story about the wicked edge of love
Paul’s bedroom, though neat, was littered with inflated party balloons, and it was one of these which Ray now held in his lap.
Paul drew in his knees and ran a tremulous hand through his hair. Smoke, thin and wily, wafted up passed his face.
Ray asked for the cigarette.
Paul’s hand twitched and a bead of sweat emerged on his brow. His fingers, as he held out the cigarette to Ray, started to shiver so violently that the cigarette dropped from them. Ray picked it up, took a long draft and perfunctorily popped the balloon with its smouldering tip.
The simplicity of that destruction frightened, yet aroused, Paul: the easiness with which things can be broken and discarded so that, moments later, it’s as if they hadn’t existed at all.
Agog, he stared at Ray, pressing his palms against his upper thighs, digging his nails into his pants.
Ray stubbed out the cigarette on the carpet and asked candidly, ‘you like it when I do this, don’t you?’ He, then, picked up a balloon, held it in front of Paul and, with quiet wickedness, dug his fingers into it until it burst with a loud bang.
Runner up Sandra Hembing’s Blind Date, wrapped round a neat psychological insight
I drove down the narrow street and was forced to stop behind a bakkie that was double parked. A tall, unshaven chap, sporting a pony tail, came out of a nearby café carrying a small milkshake. I watched, strangely fascinated, as he used his teeth to pull the foil cover off the plastic bottle and poured the liquid down his throat, seemingly not stopping to breathe. Or perhaps it was me that did not breathe? It was so raw, so enticing, so ……… He smiled as he saw me watching him and blew me a kiss before he folded himself into his bakkie and drove off. Cheeky sod!
My blind date was there before me. I extended my hand in greeting. He ignored the gesture, stepped into my personal space, and enveloped me in his arms and hugged me close. I felt the designer stubble on his chin brush my forehead and smelt his freshness. I stepped back to study him further. His eyes – dark, smooth, chocolate pools – projected life and delight and his mouth widened from smile to grin. Then I saw it! His pony tail! I laughed with delight. I knew this would go beyond a second date.
And for her little untitled weepie: Sal Carter
I only accepted the date to please my mother (“He’s more your type my dear”) and because I had nothing to lose. I had recently been dumped by Tyrone and had no other prospects.
He was wearing a blazer and a tie – how naff I thought -Tyrone never wore anything but torn jeans and a shapeless sweater. He opened the car door for me and I thought with nostalgia of Tyrone revving the engine while I hopped onto the bike behind him.
the restaurant, had white table cloths and, he pulled out my chair for me and said I could choose what I liked from the menu Tyrone always split the bill and we usually ate curry at crowded smoky shabeen. He talked about books and politics, Tyrone and I didn’t talk much – we kissed and listened to music.
On the way home the car in front of us hit a dog. He leapt out of the car and kneeling beside it. took off his blazer and wrapped it around the dog, and gently placed on the back seat.
“I’ll take you home and take care of you” he whispered in her ear.
He changed in front of my eyes, he grew wings on his back and Tyrone faded into oblivion.