Poll

We have two short story for this contest, 1 vote per member for the best in your opinion.

Vacation Bible School
11 (52.4%)
Wacissa River “Vacation”
10 (47.6%)

Total Members Voted: 21

Voting closed: July 11, 2015, 06:11:39 PM

Author Topic: Voting Closed - We have a winner for Short Story Challenge # 29  (Read 2631 times)

Offline Alice, a Country Gal

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We have two good short stories to read and consider. Enjoy and Wacissa River “Vacation” Vote for your favorite.



1. Vacation Bible School


Well, Mama said Vee Bee Ess was going to be “surch furn.”

Now, I’m only seven, and I don’t know a lot, but what I do know, is when Mama pulls her words out that way, like ‘surch furn’ or ‘jurst fahrn’ – she don’t mean a bit of it.

It’s not going to be fun, and it’s not going to be fine. It never has yet, and I don’t think it’s looking good as of now, to tell you the truth.

So, she has packed me up a lunch – I do beg your pardon, it’s a “lurvely lurnch”, which almost guarantees it’s bologna, or pickles, or something else which even the dog next door won’t eat – and dressed me in my ‘new-to-me’ leggings, which if you are not from our side of town, means someone else already wore them ‘til they had fuzzy knees and a not totally nice scent to them.

First Hope Baptist is on the corner of Twelfth and Merry –if you still don’t live on our side of town, this is the least suitable name a street ever had – and this is where VBS is going to be held.

Mama used to go on proper vacations, to a lake, out of town, with shingle beaches and boats and birds and ice-cream sodas. I know this, because Mama told me. I was not even born, so forgive me if I can’t fill in any detail. It was before Mama’s Ma and Pa decided not to have too much to do with her, because of her 'choices'. I guess that means me.

Now, vacation is at First Hope, and the only water I am likely to see will be in a drinking fountain.

Mama has to work.

Aunt Lena, who is not my Aunt, and probably not even properly called Lena, is my teacher. She greets me with a mighty smile and a black eye, and she mutters something to my Mama about  Uncle Riley (who is now properly not my uncle) being out on his “burt” and then we go to make animals for a big, big picture about Noah’s Ark.

 I make a few new friends : Toyah, who holds a full on position on there being dinosaurs on that Ark;  Mason, who can suck yogurt from those tubes up his nose, and best of all Karina, who is  probably going to be my best ever friend. I don’t know why yet, but I just think she will.

Mama picks me up at the end of day one, and you know what? I didn’t have too bad of a day. Mama probably had a bad day, because it’s mac and cheese from a box, and that’s usually a bad day.  I cover it in ketchup and get away with it, so I’m guessing it was a really bad day.

We snuggle on the couch, and watch some TV, but I don’t remember what, because I’m tired, and the main thing is my Mama has a scent of coconut on her, I think it’s some lotion, it sure as heck isn’t from cooking fancy food.

The drinking fountain, as it turns out, plays a big part in day two.

Mason decides that the Ark needs a full on flood, so he does this thing to the drinking fountain – and no one notices because we’re all singing Mr Noah Built An Ark right then, and we’re singing so loud, and doing the clapping and the actions, and next thing we know, the animals are floating, not totally two by two, across the room in a big puddle.

Anyway, on day three, we get a talk from the Youth Pastor, who is called Caleb, which is a good start, if you know your Bible, and if you don’t, well it can’t hardly trouble you.  Aunt Lena gets the day off, because she has to pack up her stuff and move out. Again.

Mama has a half day, so she comes in to help.

I like when Mama helps at VBS because the other kids think I am pretty special. She is pretty cool at making up games, and cutting stuff out, and all the other things that rock VBS.

Mama is talking to Caleb, when Lola, who is two groups up from me, comes up right close to my face, and she says :

‘Your daddy is dead because he was a wasterspace. I know this cos my Mama told me. She also told me not to talk to you, but I just wanted to say. Your daddy is not even here.’

She turns around, and I can feel the wet on my face, and the hot in my throat, and I don’t know what to do, and then Karina, the tall, skinny Russian kid with the pre-pre-loved denims? She shouts up.

‘Lola? You know what? Betty’s dad, he may be dead, but dit you not learn no-think? He’s forgived now, and he’s waiting for her in Heaven.  Anyhows, Lola, we all got a dad who’s right here. I think you should pay more mind in class, no?’

Lola’s just about to sass her back when Mason aims the water fountain right for her flat straight bangs and tells her,

‘Lola, take a shower!’

‘You should aim for her mouth, Mason.’  Karina says, ‘It coot do with a wash.’


Day four, after VBS is finished, Pastor Caleb comes around for supper. We do not have Mac and Cheese. On the downside, I do not have ketchup. I go to bed, like a real good girl, and leave Caleb and my Mama talking about stuff, and smiling at each other.

At the end of VBS, there is kind of a party.  There is a lot of food, and we sing all the songs we learned, and we do a powerful amount of praying and worshipping, and the really best thing, is I find out that Karina is coming to my school, and even she will be on the same bus and because of this, and mainly this, I decide I do believe in God.

On Saturday, my Mama tells me we are going out which is some place I don’t recall going before, and we go and eat burgers and fries and drink shakes with Caleb, and my Mama looks so pretty, I am almost frightened to smile at her, but Caleb smiles at her enough for both of us.

This was the vacation of Vee Bee Ess, and the water fountain, and me finding Karina, and my Mama falling in love. It was the best vacation ever.  I don’t know if lakes and boats and birds and ice-cream sodas could even come close.


2.  Wacissa River “Vacation”

“You ain’t fixin‘ta take that dog with you?” The narrow-eyed bystander cautioned more than asked at the boat ramp in Wacissa, Florida. He was sizing up Scarlet, my friend Shann’s English cocker spaniel.

Shann, Mary Ann and I had unloaded our kayaks, were sorting out gear and preparing to launch on the much-anticipated Wacissa River paddling trail. Scarlet wagged a happy tail, donning her pink polka-dotted life vest, complete with a snatch-me-up handle on top.

“Oh yes,” Shann says matter-of-factly.

“She’ll be closely supervised,” I add.

“There’s a really big gator on that island,” the fellow says nodding out toward our departure route.

“OK, thanks,” we chirp. Hmph. We’re southern gals, I know we’re both thinking, we know how to share the river with alligators. We’re not scared that easily.

Nevertheless, I am feeling just a little edgy about this trip – nothing to do with alligators – but because a friend who’s done this told me that finding the entrance to Slave Canal (the highlight of the paddle and the route to our take-out spot) can be tricky, and in the flurry to pack and leave, I left the printed guide at home – in addition to an instructional email I had attached to it from that same friend.

I remember from the guide that the entrance to Slave Canal is somewhere in the second half of the (relatively) short 12-mile trip. I also remember another useful tidbit from the email: “When in doubt, go right.” We’ll be fine, I tell myself as we leave the boat ramp and, to all appearances, civilization.

I think there was something about the entrance to Slave Canal being across from a place called Goose Pasture. And at least I had the wherewithal to bring my GPS along.

“We are going the right direction aren’t we?” Shann pipes in. She’s got a point: there’s so little current, it’d be hard to tell if we were headed up river or down river looking at the water. I double-check the GPS.

“Yes, we are,” I answer. “And in a little while my stomach will drop down from my throat ... don’t do that to me, okay?”

The Wacissa River is exactly as it was described to me – a clear-water, grass-bottom, slow-moving river. In short, beautiful.

“There’s an alligator,” Mary Ann says casually and nods.

“Where?” I ask, looking over toward the bank.

“Right there,” she says pointing a few feet from the kayak.

“Oh.” It didn’t submerge or glide away like the gators do that I’m used to on the Flint River. These gators on the Wacissa are more accustomed to seeing people and boats I guess.

There is a center “aisle” in the water where the long marsh grasses have been pressed down, probably by motorized boats. After seeing the third or fourth gator in the thick grasses, we instinctively start paddling single-file in the narrow aisle. Bumping into one of these brave beasts is beginning to feel like a distinct possibility.

Scarlet is getting antsy, whining and looking like she might dive off the bow of Shann’s boat.

“Maybe she has to go to the bathroom,” I offer.

“She did that at the boat ramp,” Shann replies. “And she holds it all day long at home. It’s not that.”

Our mantra has become, when in doubt, go right, after the email admonition. After a couple of rights that turn out to be nothing more than ox-bows (streams branching off and feeding back into the original waterway), we are feeling more than a little discouraged and anxious. Scarlet is whining steadily now and we aren’t sure why. Does she know something we don’t?

We’re still single-file – Mary Ann, me, then Shann and Scarlet – when I hear the motor. Rrrr-mmm-rrr-mmm. It’s getting louder and I am thinking we should slow down and wait for whoever it is to catch up so we can ask directions.

“Hey, Shann! Is that a boat back there?”

“Hell no! It’s a fuckin’ gator! Paddle – fast!

Alligator?! I feel kind of bad leaving Shann and Scarlet in my wake, but I haul it out of there catching up in a flash to Mary Ann who doesn’t appear to have heard the roar at all. Shann and Scarlet finally catch up.

“That was an alligator?” I ask. “I have never even heard an alligator before! I don’t think I even knew they made noise.”

“Well, if you’d buy a fucking T.V. and watch the Animal Channel, you’d know what an alligator sounds like!” Shann snaps back. I think she’s been traumatized.

We’re all a little testy now, keeping an eye out for right turns but intent on avoiding another ox-bow experience. Especially now that we are pretty sure we understand the justifiable nature of Scarlet’s discomfort.

Mary Ann sees him first: A fisherman, in a boat, just ahead. While Shann and Mary Ann exchange greetings and keep paddling, I almost salivate at the opportunity.

“Are you very familiar with this river?” I ask, which is a silly question – this guy looks like he was raised on the river, or at least in the swamps surrounding the river. He has wild gray hair that could be twisted into dreadlocks with minimal work (mostly of the de-matting variety) and a beard of the same dubious substance down to his navel.

“Yep.”

“Can you tell me where the entrance to Slave Canal is?”

“Oh. You’re fixin’ta go into the woods,” he says in a tone that makes me think of Deliverance. “Go past Goose Pasture about a mile and look for the entrance on the right; the sign might be there and it might not. Look for a bird house with a metal reflector on it. But whatever you do, stay right. Don’t go left.”

“Thanks!” I have a really uneasy feeling about the directions the River Man gave and, more especially, the tone in which he gave them.

“So what is Goose Pasture anyway?” Shann asks as we continue paddling.

“Hell if I know.”

“Well, there was something in the guide about camping there, so it must be on land.”

The absurdity of our situation suddenly strikes us both as hilarious. We guffaw … briefly. Mary Ann doesn’t share the humor. My self-critical inner voice says she’s annoyed at my lack of planning. I can’t blame her; I’m annoyed at myself, too. (I’m not sure how, why or when I got designated trip planner, but someone always does, and this time it feels like me.)

Finally we see it: A sign reads “Goose Pasture.” It adorns a tree at the edge of a campground with a boat ramp. We pull in. Scarlet finally gets to feel land beneath her feet, and we finally get to eat lunch. It is close to 3 p.m. I see the River Man at one of the campsites with some other Deliverance-looking buddies. I walk over to talk directions again.

“You’re looking at about four hours,” to the boat ramp, he offers.

“No way!” I exclaim. “My GPS says we’re four miles from 98; it can’t possibly take four hours; I am thinking two hours max.”

“Oh yeah, it will. You aren’t counting on all the trees down in the Canal that you’ll have to maneuver around. That is, assuming you don’t get lost in the swamp.” His eyes are big and I get the distinct feeling he’s telling the truth. “And then there’s the dog. You might have an encounter with a gator going after the dog. They’ll jump on a boat for a dog, you know.” I get a flashback of the motorboat-sounding growl from earlier in the day.

“I think we may just take the shortest route to 98, down the river and skip Slave Canal altogether,” I say.

He looks incredulous. “You have to go down Slave Canal – it’s the only way!”

I give him a what do you mean? look.

“The river dead ends,” he says. “It goes underground. If you paddle straight down the river, you’ll just have to turn around and paddle upstream to get back. That is, if you don’t get lost in the swamp.”

I am feeling incredibly awful right now. Four hours isn’t so bad for Shann and me, but Mary Ann isn’t used to kayaking. And what about those gators that, we are largely convinced, want Scarlet for dinner? I am sure I look like a whipped dog about now.

“Is there no other alternative?” I try to hide the tremor in my voice.

After what feels like an infinitely long time, River Man pipes up. “I’m headed that way; I can take ya’ll to the 98 boat ramp to pick up your truck.”

Hallelujah, praise the Lord! And so Scarlet and I wait at Goose Pasture while Mary Ann and Shann accept a ride from a scary-looking, complete stranger to pick up their truck and come back for our kayaks … and both of us whipped dogs.


Postscript: River Man shared his moonshine on the drive, I’m told.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2015, 06:36:44 PM by Alice, a Country Gal »
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Offline Alice, a Country Gal

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Voting Closed - We have a winner for Short Story Challenge # 29
« Reply #1 on: July 03, 2015, 04:41:31 PM »
Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read and vote on our challenge.

For the rest of you, come on! It only takes a few minutes to read two short stories and place your votes. Much less time that you would use offering a good critique.

Besides, I'm greedy and want to see more voters come forward.  ;)
« Last Edit: July 11, 2015, 06:37:40 PM by Alice, a Country Gal »
MWC Charity Publications.
http://www.lulu.com/spotlight>
The universe is made of stories, not of atoms. -Muriel Rukeyser, poet and activist (15 Dec 1913-1980)

R. L. Copple's: http://www.rlcopple.com/

I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.
-Mohandas K. Gandhi

Offline Alice, a Country Gal

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Re: Voting for Short Story Challenge # 29
« Reply #2 on: July 07, 2015, 02:29:18 PM »
I asked for more voters and you guys gave me what I wanted.

But now I have another problem.

Yesterday and today, the two stories have been neck and neck as they head to the finish line. I know I would have a hard time picking one over the other - they are both good.

Still, I hope a few who have not voted yet will give it a go and give us a winner by Sat, July 11.

Remember, every voter has a drink, free of charge from Bones (he pours) and me (I pay) waiting for you in the Red Barron bar. So vote and order the drink of your choice right here.  Enjoy.  :)
http://mywriterscircle.com/index.php?topic=5732.0
MWC Charity Publications.
http://www.lulu.com/spotlight>
The universe is made of stories, not of atoms. -Muriel Rukeyser, poet and activist (15 Dec 1913-1980)

R. L. Copple's: http://www.rlcopple.com/

I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.
-Mohandas K. Gandhi

Offline Alice, a Country Gal

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Re: Voting for Short Story Challenge # 29
« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2015, 06:35:44 PM »
Voting time is over and with a tight race between the two, theskewbald is the winner with the story Vacation Bible School.

Congratulations theskewbald.

Since I knew the authors, I didn't vote. I'm glad because it would have been a hard decision between the two stories.

I forgot to mention, as the winner you get to set the next challenge.

If you need a little help, check this link:
http://mywriterscircle.com/index.php?topic=56356.0

If that doesn't answer any question you might have, send a PM to a moderator. Most important . . . Have fun.

« Last Edit: July 11, 2015, 06:43:45 PM by Alice, a Country Gal »
MWC Charity Publications.
http://www.lulu.com/spotlight>
The universe is made of stories, not of atoms. -Muriel Rukeyser, poet and activist (15 Dec 1913-1980)

R. L. Copple's: http://www.rlcopple.com/

I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.
-Mohandas K. Gandhi

Offline Laura H

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Re: Voting Closed - We have a winner for Short Story Challenge # 29
« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2015, 07:43:28 PM »
Congrats to Theskewbald!

As Alice said, these were two good stories. I enjoyed the Southern voices. Both should be proud.
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ― Maya Angelou

“Don't be like the rest of them, darling.” ― Eudora Welty

Offline kateD

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Re: Voting Closed - We have a winner for Short Story Challenge # 29
« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2015, 08:01:15 PM »
Congrats Theskewbald! Yours was a very entertaining story!

Offline Mrs N

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Re: Voting Closed - We have a winner for Short Story Challenge # 29
« Reply #6 on: July 12, 2015, 06:35:03 PM »
Congrats, Theskewbald. 8)

Offline theskewbald

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Re: Voting Closed - We have a winner for Short Story Challenge # 29
« Reply #7 on: July 13, 2015, 08:23:59 AM »
Thanks all.  I'm a bit stunned really, for an English girl attempting 'the southern voice'!
I will try to wrap my head around creating a new challenge.
Thanks again.  :)

Offline Plain Helvetica

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Re: Voting Closed - We have a winner for Short Story Challenge # 29
« Reply #8 on: July 13, 2015, 01:07:42 PM »
Congratulations Skewbald. I enjoyed this. Lots of nice strokes that built up quite the colourful picture!