Your Story #73: Winner!

  • YS73Prompt: Write a short story, of 700 words or fewer, that begins with the sentence prompt on the left.You can be funny, poignant, witty, etc.; it is, after all, your story.

Once again, you’ve made the Your Story competition a success! Thanks to everyone who participated in competition #73 (either by entering, reading or voting).

Out of more than 740 entries, readers helped us pick “Lost Passageway Remembered” by Richard D. Kennett as the winner. For winning, Kennett’s story will appear in an upcoming issue of Writer’s Digest.


Winning Entry:

“Lost Passageway Remembered”

by Richard D. Kennett

“I’m going to disappoint you. But you knew that already,” Susan told her father. It had become their daily salutation, and if she didn’t say it, she knew he would. It was the words, after all, not who spoke them, that ruined their days. Moreover, though, it was the unspoken, “and I’m not taking you from here,” that commanded the most guilt and regret. The words, or the implication behind them, were the only remaining truth in their relationship, everything else had ebbed away.

Unfortunately, the words belied their true natures—both toward people in general as well as toward each other. They were kind, considerate, and loving people—or at least they had been. Now they were as obscure as the disease that controlled their lives. Both of them existed in a fog-filled, go-through-the-motions dream state.

Her father was not the man he used to be. He was now an eighty-two year old man at the end stage of Alzheimer’s disease. He had progressed from the little-to-no impairment stage to this final death-is-eminent stage in six years. Each stage overtook its predecessor without announcement or event, though the reality and effects of occurrence were unmistakable. He died in degrees, and Susan endured each passing day with remorse and regret. She desperately clung to the father she loved, yet each day the insidious thief robbed them both of more than memory, it stole life and dignity.

A few months after his diagnosis, Susan had interceded “on his behalf.” It was that intercession that disappointed him, and now her. She felt in her heart she had done what was necessary, but as time passed she considered whether she had done the right thing for him. She had only wanted to take care of him.

Unfortunately, that was the last thing he wanted. He had already witnessed and dealt with the emotional and financial burdens of Alzheimer’s disease first-hand—first with his mother and then with his wife—and he did not want anyone to go through that with him. When he suspected he might be going down the same path, he sought immediate medical attention. He wanted to know early. He wanted to make and affect the decisions about his life himself, not put others in the position of making the hard choices affecting his care and placement for him; choices he felt certain he would not approve, but which were consistent with the normal protocol for patients with the disease.

He was diagnosed with symptoms consistent with the general pattern of Alzheimer-type dementia, and, unwelcome as the news was, he knew what he had to do. He set about putting his affairs in order—the way he wanted them put in order, not how someone else might want it done.

He had a plan. It was simple. He wanted to take a walk in the woods. He wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail as long as he was able. He did not plan to kill himself, figuratively or literally. He simply wanted to hike as long as he could, and when his time ran out, it ran out. He wanted nature to decide his fate–not doctors and strangers, and certainly not his daughter. He did not want her to endure the pain he had known.

When Susan was unable to reach her father for a few days, she asked his neighbor to check on him. The letter he left, explaining his intentions, was found. Susan did not accept her father’s plan and contacted the police, and they found him eleven days later. An errant credit card transaction and descriptions from other hikers facilitated his discovery. After retrieving her father, Susan brought him home and placed him in an adult care facility.

This morning, after her salutation, her father maintained eye contact with her, and a hint of long-lost recognition registered between them. In that briefest of moments his eyes said to her, “I’m going to disappoint you. But you knew that already.” And then added, “I am leaving here today.” He then closed his eyes, his head rolled forward, and the sleep of a lost passageway took him to the only place he remembered.

 

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80 thoughts on “Your Story #73: Winner!

  1. KTcalico

    All of these stories are written well and I, too, am learning from each style. My vote goes to C. I was drawn into this story and could feel Ellie’s anguish as she desperately searched for Zoe. How her heart must be breaking! I could see her drawn face. And I liked that she held onto a constant…the orange jumper. This story left me wanting to know more. What happened to Ellie? I hope she found Zoe and they lived happily ever after. Thanks for your well written captivating story!!

  2. DonDuff

    My vote goes to Entry A. A couple of the other stories are strong but the writing on this one is transportative. I very much want to read the next paragraph.

  3. awrighter

    Wow, great job everyone. I have learned how to improve my own writing from each one of you. You’re the better tennis players and I am grateful to watch your match. Difficult to choose but….

    Entry A gets my vote.

  4. NicoleLechowicz

    I vote A.
    Its about the writing, not the subject matter. I enjoyed them all but despite A being a subject fairly common to most of us it was well written, intriguing, kept me reading. That simple. Congrats to all chosen! That’s an honor and affirmation! 🙂

  5. Dwalgen

    I vote for B. The ending surprised and stayed with me since I first read the story. When I read the second last paragraph “Finally I raised my trembling hand … Both of our fingertips met at the cold, hard surface of the mirror.” At that moment I could feel the glass, the determination, the stakes. Beautiful ending.

  6. yourand

    OMG! Story B was so compelling, just grabbing at your throat there at the end. It’s a sad story, looking at the subject matter, but so strong and moving!

  7. Dworkin

    They’re all great entries and I really enjoyed reading them. Letting their words and imagery roll around in my mind for a while, I waited for one to bubble to the surface more than the others. I choose entry A because it did just that. My entry was not selected, but I thoroughly enjoyed the contest. Keep em coming!

  8. StoneFree

    Entry E! The regret is palpable. (I actually liked Entry C the best, but I’m not sure it followed the challenge. The sentence prompt is supposed to be in quotes, as if spoken aloud.)

      1. StoneFree

        You’re welcome Cam! I was drawn to how well your story unfolded–so simple, and yet, so powerful. Even the mundane took on another dimension. I’m wondering who’s in the sedan–her husband? more kids? her own mother? And what has happened to Ellie? I’m not sure who I’m more worried about–Ellie or Margaret. Very intriguing! Congratulations.

        1. cam

          I am stoked to have been selected and even more so when you enjoyed reading the story as much as I did writing it. Priceless encouragement for me to keep writing 🙂

  9. EdyeD

    Congrats to the finalists! I loved Entry A.
    The imagery is rich and vivid, with unique turns of phrase.
    I felt like I was on that truck with my beer, looking at the stars.

    1. besco

      Yup. He/She also missed “…evolving into breeding ground for the haze..” – there should be an “a” before breeding. It’s unfortunate because I liked the imagery from that story the best, by far, but senseless grammatical errors drive me insane. Edit your work people!

    1. Baihley Grandison Post author

      Hi Nicole,

      We don’t usually post the number of entries here, but always include it in our regular issue. (I can tell you that for this one we had almost 800 entries!

  10. Squirrelletta

    I’ve tried several attempts to get the formatting to come out correctly when cutting and pasting into an email with no success. Will small issues be over looked since it’s not as straightforward as an attachment?

    Thanks!
    Nicole

    1. Baihley Grandison Post author

      Hi Nicole,

      Yes—we totally understand some small formatting issues can pop up due to email text limits. They will by no means undermine your entry. Hope that helps!

      1. Tmgrl6

        I feel so bad. I had two copies of my short short story. The second to last draft had the same phrase twice. “hug/ hugging my knees” and now too late to remove. Frustrating after doing a number of drafts. At least I worked hard on it!!

        Good to know that formatting entry issues aren’t problems. Editing probably will be…LOL.

    1. Baihley Grandison Post author

      Hello,

      The title is wholly optional–you won’t be prompted to add one. Should your story be selected as the winning entry, our editorial team will title it (but you are free at that point to make suggestions.) Hope that helps!

  11. llawrencebispo

    I have two or three italicized words in my story, but the submission only allows for plain text. May I include rich formatting if I send the story in the body of an email submission? Or, if you allow Markdown formatting, I could just include that here.

    1. Baihley Grandison Post author

      Ruth, we don’t post our current issue contest online until our magazine hits newsstands (right now, it’s only gone out to subscribers.) Contest #74 will be posted online April 12; you are welcome to submit earlier, however, by including your entry (along with contact info) in the body of an email to yourstorycontest@fwcommunity.com.

  12. besco

    Hey there! I accidentally submitted the wrong draft of my story 🙁
    Is it possible to resubmit my story before the deadline and overwrite my previous submission, or am I SOL?
    Thanks!

    1. Baihley Grandison Post author

      No problem! You absolutely can resubmit; just let us know in your entry that you are withdrawing your previous submission (we can only accept one per person per contest.)

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