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Your Story #79: Winner!

  • Prompt: Write a short story, of 700 words or fewer, based on the photo 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 #79 (either by entering, reading or voting).

Out of more than 320 entries, readers helped us pick “The Bay Window Affair” by Cassandra Goolsby as the winner. For winning, Goolsby’s story will appear in an upcoming issue of Writer’s Digest.

Winning Entry

"The Bay Window Affair”

by Cassandra Goolsby

Mama keeps saying dogs can’t talk to humans, but only because she can’t hear Peggy talking to me.

I know my dog’s barks. They change depending on what she’s trying to say. The one she sounds right now means Skip’s home.

I look up from my newest crayon masterpiece to tell Vanessa I want to run outside to greet my brother. She’s not paying attention, though, with her eyes out of focus and a crayon dangling precariously from her fingers. Daydreaming, I guess. That’s one of the reasons I let Mama, Daddy, and Skip keep her around to babysit me. She lets her mind wander and says no one is ever too old for pretend or for animated movies. There’s no list of dos and don’ts. She doesn’t get caught up in adulting like everyone else. My babysitter remembers how to kid. That’s why I love her so much.

Vanessa tells me Peggy does talk in a way I understand. So I get up to find my Peggy without bothering to rouse Vanessa from her musings. I know she won’t worry where I’ve gone, like Mama would.

Peggy waits patiently for me on the window seat in the dining room. Her gaze is fixed intently on something, so instead of darting out the door to see Skip, I pull myself up next to her. Skip speaks to a blonde girl standing outside his flashy red convertible. She tosses her hair and reapplies lipstick that matches Skip’s car. I’ve never seen her before, but she looks to me like one of those snotty cheerleaders in movies. I never liked those girls.

I drape my arm around Peggy’s neck. She doesn’t pay any attention, since she’s so busy keeping an eye on Skip. He and the cheerleader girl move closer together. She’s pretty, I guess, but falsely so. Her eyes are painted almost black, her hair bounces with artificial curls, and her clothes consist of less material than a bath towel. Mama says if I ever dress like that she’ll lock me up in my room for a week. And she should, those clothes are so ugly.

Vanessa is prettier. She may not be blonde or dolled up, but she smiles a lot, and that’s way more beautiful than loads of makeup.

The two stare into each other’s eyes, then lift their lips together.

“You’d better not watch this.” I cover Peggy’s eyes with my hand, not bothering to look away myself.

It’s kinda interesting at first, but then they get to where they might eat the other’s face off. I decide it’s not worth watching and start picking at a hole Peggy ate in the coarse green window seat cushion. Part of me wants to finish my newest refrigerator crayon mural, but I can’t leave Peggy to bear my brother’s grossness alone.

I thought about kissing a boy once, after Mama and Daddy said to save lip-kissing for marriage. It took me ten minutes to corner Aiden Forestier under the playground at recess. But then my vivid six-year-old imagination started going, and wet, slimy, and pointless were the only ways I could picture describing a kiss. Aiden ran off to play ninjas before he got wind of what I really wanted to do anyway. I’m seven now, and know better than to be kissing boys for no reason.

Skip shouldn’t be making lips with some strange cheerleader girl at eighteen, especially one he isn’t dating. He ought to have more sense than that, like I do. I made a note to give him a talking to when he came inside.

Peggy’s fur comforts me from the disturbing scene outside. I lace my fingers through her curls, whispering, “I’m never gonna go off and do that stuff with some boy. I have you, Peggy. Dogs are way better than boys anyway. I don’t need to love one of them with you around."

She nuzzles my hazelnut hair, assuring me of my position.

"Ginny!" Vanessa calls from the kitchen.

"I'm in the window seat with Peggy!" I yell back. "Don't come in here."

She will, of course. And she's gonna hate what she sees.

She's Skip's girlfriend, after all.

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