Prompt: Write a short story of 650 words or fewer based on the photo prompt above. You can be poignant, funny, witty, etc.; it is, after all, your story.
Email your submission to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Your Story #105.” Include your name and mailing address. Entries without a name and mailing address will be disqualified. Paste your submission directly into the body of the email; attachments will not be opened.
Out of over 150 entries, Writer's Digest editors selected the winning story by Micki Morency of Hudson, Fla. Micki's story will be published in the November/December 2020 issue of the magazine.
Unfortunately, we cannot respond to every entry we receive, due to volume. No confirmation emails will be sent out to confirm receipt of submission. But be assured all submissions received before entry deadline are considered carefully. Official Rules
By Micki Morency
Six feet. How can anything grow from being buried so deep into the earth? And how can I get my heart back? These thoughts crowd my head as shovelfuls of dirt clobber the top of the white casket.
I squeeze the wilted flowers until cramps make me relax my fingers and they scatter at my feet on the ground. I stare at the mound in front of me as if my eyes can tunnel through and see his smile. The one he gave me yesterday as he ran into the fields, plucking yellow wildflowers to make me a bouquet.
Before the roosters crowed, I turned on my back on the edge of the bed and opened my eyes. My cotton muumuu stuck to my skin by a sheen of sweat. I automatically reached to remove the bedsheet off Bélizaire’s face. He wasn’t there. I lit the kerosene lamp on the floor, stood and stretched my back and opened the window.
“Boy, it’s too early?” I raised the lamp over my head. The moon had already faded to make room for the rising sun. “What was the dream now?” I teased. “A flying pig with red eyes or a talking donkey?”
“Manman.” He sniffed. “I was kinda not sleeping this time. Toto had wings and it flew away, crying, ‘don’t kill me tomorrow.’”
I smiled. “See, Béli, told you not to name’em,” I said. “Gotta sell the meat to buy your uniform. Thought you’d be excited to start kindergarten next month?”
“I am…but…but I can go in my church clothes.” He threw his arm around the goat’s neck.
I stared at his small frame and wondered why he grew so fast. For years, I tried to have a child. I prayed. I fasted. I cried. Then, two months after Gaston left, I found out I was pregnant. It was as though the gift was only mine.
Weeks later, I tied my baby to my back and worked the small plot in the back of our two-room hut for the food we need and raised goats and chickens to provide for everything else.
Belizaire held my hand, a small basket of beans on his head. We sang church hymns he’d learned from Sunday school. Soon, we stopped by the river, under the breadfruit tree. I lifted the sack of plantain, yucca and coconut off my head and placed it on the ground. I rotated my shoulders to release the kinks, before spreading a cloth on the floor. Bélizaire massaged my neck, his hands like butterflies’ wings on my skin.
“Manman, when I’m big, I’ll buy you a big house in Port-Au-Prince like Auntie’s.”
He jumped in front of me and opened his arms wide.
“With lots of food.”
I patted his gleeful face. “I know, Béli, but I’m happy here in the village.”
“But …but you won’t ever need to kill again.” He kissed my cheek and sat across from me to eat his lunch.
“You’re my gift from God, my little wise man.” I smiled. “I won’t ever need anything more than you.”
He raised his head from his plate and touched his chest. “I’ll always be with you, Manman.”
Later, he played with the boys across the road, taking the goat with him and laughing as if he was choking with joy.
“Béli, where’s the goat?” I asked.
“I…don’t know. It was behind me.”
I took his hand. “Let’s go find it.”
He ran ahead of me. “Slow down, Béli.”
He plucked the yellow ones, the sunset framing his smiling face. He extended the bouquet toward me. “Here, Manman.” He laughed. I rushed to grab him. The cliff. My hand brushed his fingers. He released the flowers.
I look around. I’m alone. I pick a yellow petal off the ground, waiting for my heart to sprout from the mound.