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Not isn’t, either. December 28, 2011

Posted by The Typist in New Orleans, Toulouse Street, Writing.
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Electric Lit is running a contest titled Restraint, challenging writers to submit a story of 30 to 300 words in which no word is repeated. Contractions count as two words. Forget possessives. Plurals are out.

I haven’t had this much fun since I started writing villanelles to pass the time while doped up on Oxycotin and laying in bed after some surgery.

Here is one I did not submit (I managed three, then took what I thought was the best. I just revised it to meet the clarified rules about contractions, plurals, etc.)

This is not easy, but it is a pleasant challenge.

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Story No. 2*: “Another Chance”

Would the bus never come? He sat, his bag of things, hastily packed, plus what was thrown. Cigarette? That always worked before. Light up and damned if it won’t appear. Wait: no smokes. Also broke (pockets turned out, white fabric gray from age, cheap detergent). Store closed anyway. Can’t bum one, street empty this early Sunday morning.

Without enough change why sit here? Trees, sun peeking over, winter naked, had nothing to say. Other days they spent many lazy afternoons, drinking, laughing under those boughs, flush with wine, money. Now just squirrels, their mocking chatter, leaves blown away south like birds, gone.

Could she take him back? Possibly: silence, explanations, tears, an embrace slowly crab walking backwards towards dingy sheets. Broken down cross-town comes coughing downhill, slows but doesn’t stop. Driver looks, glance unreturned, drives on. Go, slowly retracing steps, climb creaking stairs, knock, call her name. Only hope left, something resembling love, maybe some Marlboros. Perhaps scrounge breakfast or something, another chance.

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Story No. 3: “The Doorbell”

The doorbell rang. Like Pavlov’s dog she made a quick check: face, teeth, smooth dress before long mirror; cup hand, breathe, sniff. Her first blind date in 20 years, all butterfly stomach somersaults not felt since high school, with someone chosen carefully from an online dating service. This was no act of desperation (divorced less than six months) but rather uncertainty over how else to proceed. His picture looked handsome, profiles perfectly matched in (promised) rigorous computer screening, company highly recommended by Cheryl, companion on double dates . No worries . (Flickering wings down below thought otherwise). Westminster chimed again. Grabbing the door and swinging wide open, scanning left then right outside: nobody. Coughing drew her attention. There he stood, about doorknob tall, holding flowers, ruggedly good looking face smiling.

* Story No. 1 is my submission.

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