Skip to main content

Your Story #85: Winner!

  • Prompt: Write a short story, of 700 words or fewer, based on the photo at left (or below for mobile users).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 #85 (either by entering, reading or voting).

Out of more than 180 entries, readers helped us pick “Familiar Words” by Valerie Testa Almquist as the winner. For winning, Almquist’s story will appear in an upcoming issue of Writer’s Digest.

Winning Entry

“Familiar Words”

by Valerie Testa Almquist

Wednesday afternoon, a handsome, wealthy, attorney handling only affluent clients came to the restaurant. At least, that’s how Lawrence described himself to me during his introduction. He was dressed in a sharp, fitted, navy blue suit, white shirt, and silk, monochromatic blue tie. He asked me, “How long have you been waiting tables?”

Jokingly, I replied, “I’m new, so forgive me if your meal lands on your lap.”

He replied quite sternly, “Don’t make excuses for your mistakes.” I thought he was joking, but his face lacked a hint of a smile. In the same tone he continued, “Come to dinner with me Saturday night.”

I ignored his invitation, which seemed more like a demand, and asked, “How long have you been an attorney?”

He replied, “As long as I’ve wanted.”

Confused and curious I questioned, “What kind of answer is that?”

“The only one you’re going to get.”

Lawrence placed his order: fillet mignon cooked rare, baked potato and green beans instead of the broccoli. Staring into my eyes he added, “I’ll have bottled water. Tap is for the wait staff.”

As soon as I brought his food to the table, he took his fork and inspected a piece of meat. “Saturday night I’ll take you to a restaurant that makes this one look like fast food.”

I quickly responded, “I enjoy fast food; it’s unpretentious. Besides, I haven’t agreed to any date.”

As I waited another table, Lawrence waved me over complaining his green beans were overcooked. I offered to replace them, but he didn’t have time because he was meeting a client. I carefully removed his glass, plate and utensils trying not to drop anything on him or the floor. As I cleared the table, he asked, “So, are we on for Saturday night?”

Something about him was mysterious and intriguing. Not to appear eager I replied with a tentative, “I guess so.”

With his phone in hand, he asked, “What’s your name and number? I’ll call for your address.”

I took out my phone and said, “First, you tell my your number,” and he did.

After the exchange, I left his table to get the check. He paid with cash; instead of a tip, he left a note stating he would make it up to me on Saturday night.

He waited until Saturday morning before calling asking for my address. I told him to park in the upper tier of the parking garage next to my apartment building at 7:00p.m. He asked, “Why can’t I just pick you up at your apartment?”

“I don’t know you well enough to come into my apartment. Is that a problem?”

“No, it’s not a problem, but it’s weird.”

“Not to me.”

“Okay, I’ll meet you there. Do you have any nice clothes to wear?”

“Lawrence, you better shape up before tonight, or this date isn’t going to take off! I look good in anything.”

“Okay, calm down.”

The adrenaline was rushing through my veins as I waited for Lawrence in the parking garage. I arrived early in anticipation of the evening’s events. The minutes passed slowly until I heard the sound of an engine circling slowly around the garage. Lawrence wanted to impress me and arrived in a black stretch limo.

Waiting for Lawrence were three FBI agents, colleagues of mine, with cameras. He was told to remain in the vehicle while it was searched. Lawrence wasn’t an attorney; he was an unemployed jewelry store employee and safecracker who stole hundreds of thousands in jewels. His ex-fiancée went to the police after he broke off their engagement. Her story wasn’t enough; we needed evidence. I ran the prints from Lawrence’s glass and utensils; they matched perfectly with the ones found in the safe at the store. In the trunk of the limo, Lawrence had suitcases packed for a getaway. Hidden inside one was a small sack of jewels: rubies, diamonds, pearls, sapphires and emeralds.

As I walked towards the limo, I heard Lawrence pleading, “Please, I needed the money to pay bills!”

I yelled to him, “Don’t make excuses for your mistakes!”

Tyler Moss | Reporting Through Lens of Social Justice

Writing Through the Lens of Social Justice

WD Editor-at-Large Tyler Moss makes the case for reporting on issues of social justice in freelance writing—no matter the topic in this article from the July/August 2021 issue of Writer's Digest.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Intentional Trail

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Intentional Trail

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have a character leave clues for people to find them.

Sharon Maas: On Books Finding the Right Time

Sharon Maas: On Books Finding the Right Time

Author Sharon Maas discusses the 20-year process of writing and publishing her new historical fiction novel, The Girl from Jonestown.

6 Steps to Becoming a Good Literary Citizen

6 Steps to Becoming a Good Literary Citizen

While the writing process may be an independent venture, the literary community at large is full of writers who need and want your support as much as you need and want theirs. Here, author Aileen Weintraub shares 6 steps in becoming a good literary citizen.

Daniel Paisner: On the Pursuit of a Creative Life

Daniel Paisner: On the Pursuit of a Creative Life

Journalist and author Daniel Paisner discusses the process of writing his new literary fiction novel, Balloon Dog.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 614

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a summer poem.

Give Your Characters a Psych Eval

Give Your Fictional Characters a Psych Eval

TV writer, producer, and novelist Joshua Senter explains why characters can do absolutely anything, but it's important to give them a psych eval to understand what can lead them there.

Writer's Digest Presents podcast image

Writer's Digest Presents: Vacation Reads (Podcast, Episode 6)

In the sixth episode of the Writer's Digest Presents podcast, we talk about what makes for a good vacation read, plus a conversation with authors Steven Rowley and Jessica Strawser and our first ever WD Book Club selection from debut author Grace D. Li.

Trend Chaser

Trend Chaser

Every writer needs a little inspiration once in a while. For today's prompt, an attempt to join an online trend has gone wrong.