Friday, July 9, 2010

Auld Lang Sign

Jason Evans' Clarity of Night contest is now ON! The first five entries are up. The contest has gotten so big that this time around his scoring system for the Forties Club is being applied to the posts. The best possible score is 45 and entries that score 40 or higher get posted. You have all week to enter if you like. 250 words or less, inspired by the photo ""Uncovered." This summer's theme is in honor of The Tavernier Stones by Stephen Parrish- great read if you've not already gotten your hands on it.
Sadly, this seems to be the first time I've not made the Forties Club but I'm posting my entry here:
Auld Lang Sign

"Tell her I love her, Frank. Happy New Year."

John studied his dead wife's brother. Thirteen years since they lost her. Twelve since John married Susan, hoping to give two little girls a stand-in for their mother. Six since Susan sealed his fate with another daughter.

John turned from the casket to see Susan tap her watch. He shuffled to the second pew, the nearly family section.

"We need to get going. The party starts in two hours and I've got to make the cheese tray."
Susan slithered out of the pew before John could sit. She slowed her exodus only to eye the tired satin and greenery on the sanctuary door. It wilted like last night’s cocktail dress on a hungover celebrant.

“When I came along we had Christmas down by New Year’s Eve.”

Like most of her commentary, it required no response from John.


John surveyed the hall closet.

“Why do you keep all those coats? You only ever wear the one.”

Any space that was his pissed her off. John retaliated with an ancient coat from the back. He jammed fists into pockets while Susan stalked down the hall.

Frayed card stock nestled against his hand.

12/31/73, Louisville to Boston. The boarding pass he unearthed was from his real wife’s first cancer surgery.

John marveled at the faded treasure her hands once held, turning it over. Quenching sweet pain bloomed fresh at the sight of her loopy handwriting on the back.

It said, “I love you, too.”


  1. *sigh* Nicely done. Made me feel sad overall and happy for him that he was resisting and had that wonderful note from his true love.

    Only quibble I have is the second paragraph. I had to read it a few times to figure out who was who, but I'm also on decons and not thinking clearly.

    I didn't make the forties club either and posted mine on my blog.

  2. Tkx, Sarah. Yeah, that second paragraph needed reworking but I got too excited and sent it anyway. I think that is what took it out of the forties club, honestly. It is confusing and while I don't mind reading a good piece over, I don't like it if I have to in order to get it.

  3. This takes a little more concentration than some of the entries, but IMHO it is at least middle of the pack with what's been posted so far.

    I really enjoyed the ending especially, the spooky "was it there before she died"ness of it, like that moment in "Sixth Sense" when the boy asks his mom what it was she asked grandma at the gravesite.

    I feel bad for the guy. Clearly he's a reliable if not overly impressive person, but he fell in too quickly with a real bitch. And now his high morals and commitment has, as you say, "sealed his fate." You make the reader wish it was Susan, not Frank, laid out that night. I'm guessing Frank was not a slitherer.

  4. Hi Laurel

    I had to read this a couple of times for the impact to hit, broke my heart. Love the opening line and the way it ends with his love again. Don't know why it didn't make the forties club.

    I agree with Peter, Susan should have been in the box, she wasn't worthy of John...

    The only thing that I can think is that Jason was looking for surprise endings or stories with a twist. Regardless, it's excellent, quite moving.

    Dottie :)

  5. Tkx, Pete and Dottie!

    This is a true story which made it hard to work into 250 words. John was my college roommate's father and Susan was the wicked stepbitch. This happened on New Year's Eve, 1989.

    I really liked the "uncovered treasure" aspect of the story aside from all the intricate coincidence, like the wake and the boarding pass both being New Year's Eve. It just made it too much to pull off. 300 words and I might have squeaked it by.

  6. It's a fascinating snippet, Laurel. So sad, and that note at the end has me all choked up. I hope the real John ultimately had a happier ending.

  7. I loved the ending. And now that you've mentioned it being a true story. I like how you've compiled it in 250 words even more. I had scrapped three before I landed up on a story which I liked. So sent it before giving it a proper edit. Lesson learned.

    PS: We can make a cool group of people who didn't make it to 40s. :)

  8. That's three of my favourite writers not in the 40s club! Laurel I really liked the story of this. Finding that it's a true story makes it all the more poignant. I do feel sorry for John and I can see that Susan is a superbitch but then again it must've been a painful thing to be married to someone who was so deeply in love with someone else. Still bitterness will never melt the hear of another.

    Very moving.