Image by Bertrand Fines from Pixabay
So my attempt at a romantic comedy, involving ‘riding a merry-go-round’ and featuring the word ‘decent’, didn’t get me through to the final round of the 2023 NYC Microfiction Challenge but it did get me an honourable mention in the penultimate round. This is the best I have done to date and I’m very happy with that.
I’m especially happy as, for the first time in the three years I have been participating in this competition, I nearly gave up. I was on holiday with some friends at the time the piece had to be written and the temptation to lie in the sun and drink rum was almost too strong to resist. In fact, I didn’t write anything until the evening and only submitted with an hour left to go.
One of my friends jokingly suggested I write a zombie romance and while I initially dismissed the idea as a silly one that was beyond my writing abilities, I suddenly thought why not? I scurried inside and spent the next hour tapping away on my lap-top. When I emerged later that evening and read it to them and my husband and they all laughed out loud at the end, I did a final edit and went ahead and submitted. Honestly, I was just pleased to have actually produced something.
Image my surprise and delight then when I received an honourable mention for The Loving Dead. Here it is for you pleasure and (I hope) amusement.
The Loving Dead
Eliza was riding the merry-go-round the day Jacob caught her eye. As she had for the seven years since the world died. Doomed to wander forever between the prancing carousel horses, hands brushing over faded, peeling manes and rusting carriages.
Her looks had been decent once. But now, soft curves were long withered and leathered. Summer frock, tattered strips of yellow gingham. Once-blue eyes, dirty grey and clouded. Plump, pink cheeks, sunken and brown. But she still had hair! A few surviving auburn wisps clinging precariously to an otherwise bare skull. And teeth too! Albeit a couple of tombstones jutting crookedly from her lower jaw.
Jacob was a carnie. For the same seven years he had circled the carousel, clothes gone to rags, coins rattling in the leather money belt that dangled from his wizened frame. Shuffling around and around, hour after hour, day after day, week after week. If she had been able to recall, Eliza would have remembered his twinkling green eyes, his jaunty smile, the tanned smooth skin of his muscled forearms below the rolled up cuffs of his blue plaid shirt.
The chances of Jacob passing at the exact moment that Eliza stumbled over a broken foot plate causing her right eye to pop from its socket, were next to nothing. But it hit his chest and bounced into the hand he raised reflexively to catch it. Jacob paused. Looked up. His eyes met her remaining one and the rest, as they say, was history.