Thursday, December 8, 2016

Year 2, Week 19: Results!

Sorry again for the delay--been running very tight on time with finals coming up next week. 

ANNOUNCEMENT: This Saturday's competition will be judged by Ronel, and it'll be the last competition of 2016! The two Saturdays following that are major holidays, so we'll be taking a two-week hiatus and return for Week 20 on the 7th of January 2017! 


Alva Holland and Bill Engleson

with Drawing a Future and The Neighbors

Drawing a Future 
‘What do we do with them?’ 
Asu’s round black eyes widened when he saw the array of objects on the table. He thought ‘weapons’ but dreamt ‘art.’ Sharp spear-shapes usually meant pain. 
‘These are pencils, Asu. We draw. We make pictures.’ 
Asu picked up one of the pencils, held it in his fist, lead pointing down and he stabbed the page. The lead broke. Asu’s eyes filled with tears.  
'They don’t work. Nothing works for me.’ 
‘Asu, let me show you.’ 
Diane placed a green pencil in Asu’s tiny hand and coaxed his skinny fingers around it, loosening his tight grip as she spoke. 
‘Gently hold the pencil. Now press softly on the paper. Move your hand to the right, like this, and back. See! You’ve drawn green grass.’ 
Asu peered at the small circle of green in the centre of the pencil bottom. 
‘How does it get in there?’ he asked.  
‘I’ll explain that later,’ Diane said, smiling at the little inquisitive boy. ‘Let’s draw a house on the grass.’ 
‘What’s a house?’ asked Asu. 
‘A place to live, shelter for family.’ 
Diane held Asu’s hand again and started to draw a straight line for a wall. Asu dragged the pencil sideways. Diane let his hand go. He drew another sideways line joining the first.  
‘House!’ Asu exclaimed. 
‘Well, close enough, Asu, that’s a tent, but that’s also shelter for family. Good boy.’ 
Asu spotted a red pencil in the pile on the table. He grabbed it and scribbled all over the crudely-drawn tent. ‘No family now,’ he said, and his face crumpled. 
Diane held the little boy’s hand as he cried. Asu had a long way to go but Diane was determined the little mite would grow up knowing a better world than he had seen so far.

He thought ‘weapons’ but dreamt ‘art.’ 
What a poetic line! That drew me into this piece right away. I've been writing a novel that has a few scenes like this, which I think probably kept me in (I must be feeling maternal of late for some reason)--particularly with lines like "'They don't work. Nothing works for me,'" and "'What's a house?'" The emotional depth behind the story is poignant and evokes a sense of grief and pity. Asu's characterization carries the piece, which works even though the plot arc is very subtle. Good job with this piece!

The Neighbours 
“What do we do with them? My God, they’re multiplying like rabbits.” 
Georgina stares out the side window at Colin and Mary Hennessey’s house. I confess that Georgie does tend to exaggerate. Rabbits reproduce like…rabbits. Yes, they seem to want to have their fair share of baby bunnies, but to compare rabbits with the family oriented Hennessey’s next door is over the top even for her. And not a little unkind. 
“Sweetie, Marge Hennessey is pregnant with her third child.”  
I state this with assuredness. Colin told me so.  
“She’s almost thirty.” I say this as if procreation hits a wall at the big 3 0. “She’s not a giant, hormonally charged rabbit. She’s just having her third child.” 
“You idiot,” she fires back. “You think she’s going to stop?”  
Before I can formulate even an incredibly weak answer, Georgie blasts off with, “You better believe she’s not. That woman wants to repopulate the earth…WITH…” and this comes with a cheese-curdling shriek, “more of her own kind.”  
Don’t get me wrong. I love Georgie with all my energy. It takes quite a lot to love a woman of strong and awkward opinions. She has never been one to hold back her impulsive volleys of venom. I love her raw honesty. Some days, however, ever love and tolerance have their limits. Our neighbourhood can’t afford another War of Words.
“Georgie, I love you but you’d better curb your tongue.”
She gives me a skin-melting stare. It tells me…and the world…nobody messes with Georgina Tulip. And I have. I have drawn a line that she will cross at will. 
“I DON’T LIKE THEM. My life is quiet and you’d better be rid of them." 
Once again, I start the gossip.  
Gossip and neighbourly hate knives will drive them out. 
It’s worked before.

I actually wasn't enjoying this story until I hit the fourth-to-last line, and then I had an "OHHHH SNAP" reaction, since it puts the rest of the story into context and demonstrates the insidiousness of this relationship. The last line gives us a whole host of backstory--telling us the main character has buckled before to Georgina's demands and gives us an idea for what the War of Words was (it makes this neighborhood a whole lot more interesting). I believe what put me off of the story partially is the length. The piece could be tightened around the edges to give it a more powerful punch. Format and word amount can make the piece feel more pedantic than it really is. The rant, which probably should come off venomous and raging, instead feels like it's heavy and dragging. 

The last lines of the piece rather pull it together well, however (and might even be able to stand alone on their own as a whole piece).
“I DON’T LIKE THEM. My life is quiet and you’d better be rid of them."
Once again, I start the gossip.
Gossip and neighbourly hate knives will drive them out.
It’s worked before.
Good job with this!

See you all next week for the season finale!

1 comment:

  1. Many thanks for your lovely positive comments. I'm thrilled to share this win with Bill Engleson and I'm delighted my story resonated with you in such a personal way. Best of luck with your novel. xx