Your Story #77: Winner!

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Prompt:
Write a short story, of 700 words or fewer, based on this prompt: When a man takes lunch to his wife’s office, he’s told that she hasn’t worked there in weeks.

Once again, you’ve made the Your Story competition a success! Thanks to everyone who participated in competition #77 (either by entering, reading or voting).

 

Out of more than 450 entries, readers helped us pick “Unforgiven” by Kevin Kissig as the winner. For winning, Kissig’s story will appear in an upcoming issue of Writer’s Digest.


Winning Entry

“Unforgiven”

by Kevin Kissig

I glare scornfully at the empty bottle of Tanqueray overturned on the kitchen counter and pray for sleep I know won’t soon come. I knew I should have bought two bottles. It’s been ten years since my husband left me…ten years since he found out I had been lying to him. You would think a decade would be long enough for wounds to begin healing, but some people just don’t deserve to heal.

To this day I don’t know why I lied… he loved me…he would have understood. It’s just that we were fighting so hard to get by, and I couldn’t stand the thought of telling him I had lost my job. Besides, it was no one’s fault and I was sure something better was right around the corner. Unfortunately, days stretched into months, and like a fool, I woke up every morning to take the train downtown to look for work. Somehow he never found out there was no destination at the end of my daily commute.

The day he finally discovered my lie was so beautiful. Autumn was right around the corner, and I sat on a bench enjoying a morning cup of coffee and listening to the hum of the traffic. I had always loved sitting there during breaks and watching the city pulse with life. An elderly man in a crooked fedora sat a few benches down from me feeding pigeons from a fat bag of stale popcorn, and I couldn’t help but smile as I watched him. It was a perfectly picturesque morning.

As I finished the last of my coffee and steeled myself to set out in search of a new future I almost choked as my husband stepped out of a taxi and bounded up the steps to the building where he believed I still worked. No, no, no, it was all wrong. He must have been coming to surprise me with an invitation to lunch. He was going to feel like a fool walking purposefully towards my office only to find a stranger sitting at my desk. My head spun as I considered my former boss explaining that I hadn’t worked there in months. It was a disaster, but I was frozen…I couldn’t move, couldn’t call out to him…all I could do was watch in horror as he disappeared into the front doors amidst the teeming throng of New Yorkers.

I was too late to stop him from entering, but should I wait for him to emerge from the building or postpone my fate until later tonight…or tomorrow…or next week, if possible. How would I explain it to him? He’d been working every weekend thinking the overtime was helping us get ahead. How could I face him knowing I hadn’t contributed anything in months and had lied about it the entire time.

I couldn’t postpone the inevitable, the wait would be as unbearable as what he would say to me. I began to push my way through the crowd in order to intercept him as soon as he exited the building. I had to get to him as soon as possible. I had to tell him how much I loved him, that’s why I couldn’t tell him. I had to beg for his forgiveness. I had to begin proving I was still worthy of his trust. Lost in my dread, I didn’t hear the gasps surrounding me or the roar overhead.

My disregard only lasted a moment when the day was annihilated by a thunderous blast from far above. I didn’t see the first plane hit, but I felt it. I felt it in my bones. I felt it in my heart as it burst, and I fell to my knees as the world rain down around us. Unknown hands grabbed and tugged at those of us too overwhelmed to move. Before I realized what was happening I was dragged several blocks away as the skyward plumes destroyed the idyllic morning.

The gin provides no protection against the memories and the tears stream steadily down my cheeks as I envision the second plane hitting the south tower…why hadn’t I just told him the truth?

 

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113 thoughts on “Your Story #77: Winner!

  1. D Erick

    Gee whiz everyone, cheer up!! I think we (although I did not participate) could have found something a little more upbeat in the cosmos to send through our writing utensils. I vote for the happier ending provided by E. Maybe Baihley was feeling a bit blue when he picked the most disturbing pieces 😉

  2. kalavinka.3@gmail.com

    There are two of these that I like, but I think that “E” wins out. I thought that it was predictable, but as it turns out- it wasn’t.

          1. kalavinka.3@gmail.com

            Also, I probably will enter again…. If there is the right conjunction between free time and magazine.:-)

  3. granthubbert

    I submitted a story and thought I registered at the time. The submission went through alright but I just know had to re register, will that be a problem? Also, when will we see a list of the top qualifiers?

    Thanks

    1. kalavinka.3@gmail.com

      Hello– I looked at the frequently asked questions feature, and I believe that it is pointing people to the wrong part of the website. When it states that winners can be found “here”, it generates a link that looks obsolete to me. It is probably not a big deal, but someone might want to sneak in and check these links. Thank you.

    1. Baihley Grandison Post author

      Hi there,

      We’ll be judging the entries this Wednesday, and will post the top entries for voting by early next week. Thanks! –BG

    1. Baihley Grandison Post author

      Hi there,

      We use Microsoft Word—I’m not sure the word count itself would be affected by the program, though. Page length, perhaps?

    2. kalavinka.3@gmail.com

      If you do not have a word processor, you can go to wordcounter.net. Just cut and paste your text into the text box and it will tell you the word count. For something 700 words or less, it works great. For longer pieces, it might be a bit cumbersome.

    1. Baihley Grandison Post author

      Hi there! Entries longer than 700 words will be disqualified (Any (optional) title is excluded from the word count though, if that helps.)

      Thanks!
      BG

    1. Baihley Grandison Post author

      Your best bet is to follow the prompt to the best of your ability–we do judge on how well the piece “fits” the prompt. However, you’ve definitely got some creative freedom, and we love seeing stories that are fresh and showcase an out-of-the-box approach. Hope this helps!

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