When I got to my hotel room I found I had the wrong rollaway suitcase. As I opened it, a light floral aroma transported me to my mother’s spring tea parties in Westport, with the lilacs trumpeting their triumph over winter while the lilies of the valley nodded more modestly around the borders of the newly cut lawn. Once, home from college, I had seen a young woman there, just turning towards the house as I came out with a tray of petits fours. My attention was caught by the amusement in her brown eyes at our shared plight, trapped amongst the ladies, and by her long dark hair—so different from their matronly coifs.
We never saw each other again. I had dishes to wash in the kitchen, she left early, and the aunt she was visiting moved away soon afterward. But in the dreams I have about her, I always smell spring flowers and fresh-cut grass. More…
Valentine’s Day was always busy at Piece of My Heart. The couple waited in the doorway for over a minute before I had a chance to dash over and greet them. The woman was staring up at the chandelier, wide-eyed, when I approached. The man returned my smile.
“Do you have a booking?” I asked.
“Jackson,” the man replied. “I called last week.”
They were an odd couple. She was so thin she looked like she might break in half. Her big blue eyes darted as if looking for danger. He stared at the ground as I led them to their table, watching his footing on the thick carpet. I slowed down to accommodate his limp.
I reached for the woman’s coat, but she recoiled. As Jackson helped her out of it, I noted the three stumps on his left hand. He handed me the fur, thanking me as I stepped forward to take it. I draped it over my weaker left arm, which immediately started to ache.
Katie was not much for similes but she once said to Darin that a man is like an appendix. They were in the shower when she said this, and she was holding him in her warm hand, or maybe it was just the shower that was warm. Darin doesn’t remember what he said back, and maybe because he can’t remember the next line the scene can’t move forward and so it replays in his mind over and over: the shower, the simile, and Katie’s laughter right after she said it. Darin remembers this scene around Kemptville and thinks of it all the way to Ottawa, where he pulls into the truck stop at about one in the morning and feels the nervousness (which is like anxiety, but not anxiety, because Darin doesn’t like that word) reach a level seven out of ten.
Yes, the Online Writing Tips Short Story Prize is back for 2019, and the deadline has just been announced as midnight on Friday May 31st (GMT). It’s free to enter and international entrants are welcome. There’s no theme, but to get an idea of what we’re looking for, check out the winning story from 2016, the winning story from 2017, and the winning story from 2018. This year, first prize will again be a sumptuous £100, with £50 for second place, and £25 for third. There are richer story competitions, but none brought to you with more love: our only goal is to encourage new and experienced writers to excel, regardless of their means or location. All the submission information is available here – good luck!