Your Story 37 Winner: Anonymous

Prompt: After being pulled over for speeding, your character finds something important while looking for her registration in the glove compartment.

Once again, you’ve made the Your Story competition a success. Thanks to everyone who participated in the competition (either by entering, reading or voting).

Out of more than 600 entries, readers helped us pick “Anonymous” by Patti Cavaliere as the winner. For winning, Cavaliere’s story will appear in an upcoming issue of Writer’s Digest.

Winning Entry

by Patti Cavaliere

I know the drill and open the glove compartment of the ’98 Honda I drive since my other car was totaled in an accident one year ago, only this time my wits are scrambling. The cop beside my window leans down to where my eye level should be.

“Just a minute officer,” I say. “The registration must be here.” My hands slide blindly over candy wrappers and maps of states I’ve never seen, then beneath a clump of napkins, I touch a solid object that makes me feel empty.

By some miracle I discover my license wedged between a sleeve of two stale cigarettes, but because of nerves, I hand over the whole crumpled packet of smokes. Finally, I grab a manila envelope with last year’s postmark stamped on the outside. The bill is sealed shut and that’s not a good sign.

“Where are you headed?”

“Home,” I say, glancing back at My Place, the tavern that I’ve just left.

“Wait here,” he says, and strolls back to his flashing vehicle. In my rearview mirror I see the top of the officer’s hat; no doubt he’s checking my last DUI on his

computer. My heart thumps so hard that I swear I can hear it when the medallion I’d received for my one year of sobriety plops into my lap and catches the winking sunlight.

I can’t bear to read the inscription, so in the doom of sunset, I dial my husband’s cell phone.

“Barry, thank God I got you.” My chest tightens when I hear him sigh, then say nothing. “I know this is my fault,” I talk quickly and play dumb. “Did you pay the registration bill?”

“That’s your responsibility now, Kelly.” He curses. “I have to go.”

“Wait, Barry. I’m at the corner of—”

“You know who to call,” he shouts back then hangs up. But I’m ashamed to call friends when instead of going to meetings, I went to celebrate.

It’s dark now. I squint at the red strobe light to see if the officer is still in his vehicle. I speed dial my daughter who stays at her boyfriend’s house since Barry left. She even took the dog; supposedly the dog doesn’t have accidents at their house.

I take a deep breath when I hear her say hello. “Jessie!” Her name gushes out of me like the time she was only five and I finally found her hiding in the dressing room at Macy’s.

“Where are you?” she asks in her snotty tone.

The officer returns, shining his flashlight on my turned back; my head is crumpling toward my lap because I am like the abandoned child now. Lack of food causes my stomach to cramp while booze seeps into my blood, but the psychological pain is worse, knowing I’m beyond apology to my family. I hear Jessie talking to someone as I shut my phone. “It’s my mom. She’s loaded again.” Jessie’s tone crushes my spirit, as if I’ve forgotten the times I didn’t make it home to meet her at the school bus— same damn thing my mother did to me.

“Step out of the car.” The officer’s words are controlled, but his gaze spells disgust. My tears freeze, over-chewed gum squeaking like rubber against my teeth. I clutch my medallion— the only thing left to remind me of the person I am when I stop drinking.

“Can you stand on one foot?” I tell him I have chronic vertigo. He holds up his pen and drags it back and forth across an imaginary line in front of my nose. When I lower my head and tell him I am refusing the field sobriety test, he says the last thing I ever expect.

“Was your maiden name Kelly Long?”

My eyes snap up, reconnecting with a withdrawn boy who once lived next door to me as a kid.

“Frank?” A choked-up laugh swallows the rest of my words.

“I thought about you after you moved away,” he says. “I had some rough times, too, before the police academy.”

We’re standing beside my second-hand car, but I feel like the clumsy child who tripped up stairs and knocked at Frank’s door to ask him to come out to play.

“Hop in the car, Kelly, I’ll give you a ride home.” We stop at a coffee shop and talk about our crazy parents, our lost dreams. But soon I forget I’m Barry’s drunken wife, Jessie’s bad mother. Starting tonight, I’m just Kelly Long.

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42 thoughts on “Your Story 37 Winner: Anonymous

  1. Katherine

    I want to point out that regardless of the platform and browser I use, the code does not show up. I will be submitting via email. I am assuming we are to type in our info as asked for above into the body of the email before copying and pasting the submission.

  2. Olivia J Colon

    Something seems to be wrong with the submission part of this site. I have been trying to enter my submission for the last 20 mins but it keeps telling me there is an error in the code that pops up, I worked really hard on this piece but guess i will not make the deadline because this site is not working properly, is there anything i can do before 11:59p

  3. Dani

    I have tried to send a couple times but can’t seem to get the code down that I am supposed to type in… it is blank. I have tried several computers. very frustrated.. can I still email?

  4. Scott Francis Post author

    Unfortunately we cannot send out submission receipt notifications. We receive a lot of submissions and do not have the resources to send a notification to each one.

    If you seem to have trouble with the submission form, simply send the submission in the body of an email to (no attachments please).

    Thank you,

    Scott Francis
    Associate Editor
    Writer’s Digest

  5. AFellowWriter

    I emailed you (Scott Francis) a week ago, and if the websites not working, I’d like to get some type of comfirmation you got my story, or all that work will be for nothing

  6. marten.hoyle

    I sent my submission to the email address suggested as the submission form didn’t work on my computer, but I haven’t received conformation that it was received. Did Writer’s Digest receive my submission?
    –Marten Hoyle

  7. heiditoad

    I am having the same problem. Oh so frustrating to see the arrow moving, unrelenting, never stopping for minutes on end. Does anyone know what the problem is? Is it a problem with the website that is not allowing me to submit or is it my MAC? Hmmm….

  8. ChrisOsha

    One more comment on this issue. Submitting by email is definitely NOT ideal, by any means. It’s too bad that this problem can’t be resolved, since submitting in the body of the email wipes out all formatting. If anyone was to copy and paste our stories out of the email, they will lose all formatting – paragraphs, indents, etc.

    Just letting you know, as a heads up.

    Thank you.

    1. Jameson

      That is unfortunate, are you sure? I have a website that does that to my work as well and it makes it hard to read.

      Isn’t email the only submission type for Your Story?

  9. ChrisOsha

    I’m getting the same problem and it’s August 31st today. I’m going to submit by email. Thanks for providing the alternate method.

    Chris O’Shaunnessy

  10. JasonDBryant

    Thank you, Scott Francis, for looking into this situation. I’m sure I’m speaking for other writers when I say, “We appreciate your work in finding the solutions to this error.” We all look forward to the results of this contest and as for me personally, I too await the results and the next Your Story 38!

    Thank You again!

  11. Jkail

    Sorry to be such nudge, but I am paranoid that way. I submitted via email, but just want to confirm it was received was not needing any additional details. Thanks

  12. Scott Francis Post author

    Hi all, we’re working to figure out the problem. In the meantime if you experience this problem please submit your story directly to the Your Story email address (post your submission directly in the body of the email; no attachments, please).

    The addy is:

    Scott Francis
    Writer’s Digest Associate Editor

  13. WinterThielen

    Dear all user above:
    I have just re-tested the form again on Internet Explorer 7 and Firefox 5.0 and it is working correctly. If you are on an earlier version of either of these browsers please upgrade to the latest and try your submission again.

    Writer’s Digest Team

  14. IrishStoryTeller

    I tried to submit a story but the “submit” area just showed an arrow going around and around, never giving an indication the story was accepted. Is that normal?


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