The Winner of Hope Ferterbest

Okay, I’m gonna have to keep running with the imagery of the “Pandora’s Box” throughout my thoughts about each authors’ stories.  Each story was designed to take the elements of the image of “hope” both from the Pandora myth and combine it artfully with the symbols or icons I used in my assemblage.   I liked the fact that each story had a suspenseful tone.  As I read each story I kept wondering what the last thing out of the “box” would be.  It was a little like Christmas morning reading some of these stories.   

So in keeping with the theme, I’m going to hold back the name of the winner until you get to the end!

A bit of a Pandora herself Sharon Rohwer used the image of a box to begin here story, “Little Hope entered the world through those four dingy walls.”  In accordance with the imagery in the myth Rohwer’s story matched the myth and assemblage.  The puckish character of Hope also matched the attitude of the portrait.  I liked Rohwer’s fun use of language at the end it tied itself to the beginning of the story.

D. Bellinghi’s story had a great use of dialog.  One piece struck as being wonderfully clever,
 “Miss, thank you for your help; Can I buy you a cup of coffee?"
 "Thanks" she answered quickly, “but there is no need."
 "Actually, there is a need. I haven't had any coffee yet.

From the way the story began and I wasn’t sure if the main character was being menaced or charmed.  Is it a love story or a stalking?  This created suspense.  I like it.  So, a little like Pandora, I’ll leave it to you to see what Bellinghi’s box contained.

Hope’s Journey by D. Charles Florey the season he set the story in and how he portrayed it corresponded to the cold blue gray of the painting so did other elements.  Florey’s story also kept me on edge to see what the end would be.

In Patrick Nelson’s story the main characters’ womb is the vessel that once contained the hope but he lets you know right up front, that it’s empty.  Different from the rest in that it the suspense was not really about an event in the plot line but rather the emotional state of the main characters.  The internal dialog of the main character had a nice counterpart in the believable dialog of the characters as they interacted.  I liked the fact that Nelson did not incorporate the elements of the art work as literal imagery in the story.  Instead, the setting and plot of his story interwove with the elements of the painting giving a greater subtle context to both.  There was a lot to like!

The Stand-In by Gigi DeVault the anonymous first person narrator gives you an external sense of the main character of Hope.  I liked the elements that reminded me a little bit of Capote’s Holly Go Lightly although I suspect that she was thinking of the film “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” especially since the author provided the image of Natalie Wood (who could’ve been a stand in for Audrey).  Her story was cinematic in every way with references to Sabrina’s character and I wondered was Wood a stand in for Hepburn.  Did DeVault mean to play and pun?  I hope so cause that’s what I liked a lot: the fun name/image game of double entendre of the title, the twigs in the painting, and the references to the impish quality of the main character.  Great finish to the tale!

NICE! Rochelle Wattz story had great sense of time and place, a kind of epic setting.  I was a little scared for the main character and I was also afraid of the grimmer aspects of the story, but was saved but I lack of sensationalism.  It was a cool element that the main character wasn’t raped as I suspected she would be.  I bet by now it makes some of you want to read the story!  Again, the ending is not what you or I probably expected!

I read Matt O’Malley’s story a couple of times because I liked it so much.   Like Wattz’s story O’Malley had a great sense of place and time.  More a vignette than a story I like the fact that O’Malley combines visual imagery with a sense of smell.  It really adds a dimension to the tale.  The end to his piece provides a nice coda.  I read the story several times because it was almost like a song that I wanted to remember.

Two stories were running streams of consciousness.  The anonymous entry, (I do know who submitted it but I’m not sure they wanted me to share their name) and    
Knight’s story was also not so much stories as a kind of James Joyce “Portrait of the Artist” look at his thought processes.  Knight’s story was a bit humorous and autobiographical and included a kind of fun play on the title of the painting/character whereas Mr. Anonymous took a dead serious look at the inner machinations of the main character.  I think that the tale by Anonymous had a quite a punch and also had a great finish that satisfied me. 

As usual, I liked all the stories.  It’s funny I think that if I could I would make almost all of them “honorable” mentions.  I think that there was only one in the batch that seemed a bit out of place in terms of the quality of thought.  (I’d like to acknowledge that all my decisions are subjective opinions.)  The one I think should get the drawing is Patrick Nelson’s story.  I think mainly because it surprised me the most and was different than the rest so it stood out. 

I want to thank all of you for writing these stories I love reading them.  I hope that you guys will keep going.

Go to my website for more contests: http://www.kenney-mencher.com/
The winner of the drawing is Patrick Nelson

Hope by Patrick Nelson

“So you’re saying that there’s no chance? No way I’m going to ever have a child?” 
Hope looked at the doctor with dry eyes that also showed how far away she was rapidly traveling. Her skin was beginning to tingle and become clammy at the same time. She felt the thin cotton of the dressing gown begin to stick to broad patches of her skin as the sweat began to spring from every pore. She drew her arms and legs up tightly on herself and she drew up inside herself too.
She flashed on the things her mother had told her about menopause. 
Is this it? Is this why I lost the baby? I am too young for this shit to begin happening! I can’t start now... I still have a couple years. I still want to have a...” She felt the urge to vomit, and her vision began to blur and darken. The examination room began to stretch into a long corridor in her mind. She began to fear that she couldn’t go back to the way things had been. Thoughts began to swim past and bump into each other then collide violently. 
“I was carrying a child and now it’s gone... My God, why? It can’t be this way. We didn’t even get to find out if it was a boy or a girl. I’m sure he made a mistake. We shouldn't have had sex last week! I told Theo that it wasn’t good to do it so soon after finding out I was -WE were pregnant. Oh, my God... What? Why?”  
She pictured Theo in her mind: His white teeth grinning his selfish smile. The one he flashed when he wanted something she didn’t want to give. He was younger than her by twelve years and he made her feel younger too. So she gave what she could. But he wanted too much from her. Now she pictured his tan skin turning grey and hairy. Fangs began to grow from his sparkling grin. 
Then she pictured the Glass of wine she had at dinner the night before last. “Oh no! I shouldn’t have had that glass of wine! But, it was just a small one! No!”
In her mind the glass filled itself to the rim as she raised it to her lips. She sipped from it and it overflowed and ran down her chin and her throat and on to her breasts, on to her stomach. I flowed down between her legs. It flowed out of her now staining her skin, her clothes, everything.
Her mother and father’s rapidly aging faces floated into the foreground next. “When are you gonna give us some Grandchildren?” She heard them taunt. But their mouths didn’t even move because she knew they would only think this, never speak it. She and Theo weren’t even married yet. 
Close behind their disembodied heads once again floated Theo’s face. “I know you think I’m too young to have kids but you yourself said if we don’t get started soon, it’s gonna be too late for you. Now look at what you did. You waited too long.” He started to press his disappointed feelings on her almost physically.
The more this continued, the farther away she slipped. Fear. She felt afraid. Not of just losing the child, but of being an empty shell. No love. No joy. No Future. Lonely. Nothing. She knew she needed to stop herself or she was going to become permanently hurt or broken. 
“STOP! It’s not my fault! This has to be a mistake! He’s wrong! I know I lost this baby, but that can’t be IT!”  She clawed at the pieces crashing them together. Things began to clear away. It was still dark, like she must be closing her eyes tightly. She saw a small light far away. It was like looking at a streetlamp through a drop of rain on windowpane at night: A corona of prismatic light with an unfocused point of light that slowly pulsed. It was the only thing left there now.
The darkness began to evaporate and the Doctor said something to her but it sounded like a wasp buzzing a little too close to her eardrum. She instinctively swatted next to her head. The doctor gently but firmly grasped her shoulders and turned her on the examination table to face him. The paper under her ass crinkled and the leather squeaked as she rotated. He gave her a little shake. Her eyelids fluttered and the spell was broken. 
“I know this comes as a shock, but we need to discuss this.” the doctor said. “I need to explain the position you are in physically. Can you focus on what I am saying? Can you answer me?”
Her lip trembled and tears finally began to fill her eyes. “Can I see Theo now? I need to tell him”
“Sure,” he replied “but first I need to explain your situation to you then you can see him alone and tell him.”
“Look, I know what my ‘situation’ is” she said as calmly as she could. “But I really need to talk to Theo now. Then you and I can have our talk, OK?”
“Very well. I’ll have the nurse go get him and when you’re done you send for me, got it?”
“Yeah Doctor, I got it.” She said.
A few moments after the doctor left, Theo opened  the door and shyly peered around the corner. His eyes were puffy and red. He stared at her for a second. She hung her head slightly to the side as she looked at him and raised a limp hand and waved him to her. He closed the door gently and rushed into her arms. She could tell he didn’t want to hold her too tightly and she whispered; “I may be banged up a little, but you’re not gonna break me.”
This drew a short sobbing laugh from him as he squeezed her tighter. “I’m so sorry, baby.” He choked out.
This immediately broke her last resolve of emotional restraint. She wept hard and long in the shoulder of her lover. His shirt became soaking wet with tears and snot, but she still wept.
A moment later she composed herself slightly and came away from the safety of the crook of his neck to say “It’s nobody’s fault, honey. I know that now. It’s just the way we have to be.”
Wiping the tears that from under her eyes and pushing the drenched strands of hair from her face, he said “I’m just so glad you’re ok. Oh my God! I thought... oh man! I can’t live without you.”
“Yeah, but I just hoped that we could, you know... I just hoped...” she searched his bloodshot eyes for forgiveness and was answered by the little crinkles around his eyes as he smiled to her.
“I just want you to be ok. Sometimes the only way to keep hope alive is to hope for something else.” He sputtered.
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