I entered this into a contest… or rather, I wrote it completely off the cuff for a contest. It didn’t win, but then I didn’t really expect it to. It’s a vote-based system, and my entry was buried 40 pages deep. I doubt it even got read.
No worries though. More than anything, I enjoyed writing this story because it was one of those inspiration-channeling moments. I felt like I was right there with Shar, living this scene. It just hit me – WHAM! – and I wrote it in less than ten minutes.
The rules were: No more than 150 words, and it had to use the word “game.”
Shar makes a game of counting mortars in the dark. Bouncing a bright red ball. White chalk on black pavement lining their court.
“One.” Jillian giggles. She clutches the ball, all pigtail curls and full of life.
The windows rattle, and shards of glass litter the floor beside her. She pulls her feet closer in, feeling the scrape of cold concrete against calloused heels.
“Two.” Jillian passes the ball to Mum.
Another strike. Closer. Shar grits her teeth. Tears well in her eyes, wide and round.
“Three.” Dad bobbles and fumbles. He’s out.
The floor beneath Shar crumbles. She scrambles backward, away from the whistling cry of the next strike.
She squeezes her eyes shut and finds the ball. Sees Mum’s face, clean with hair pinned up. Remembers Jillian’s dress, covered in yellow daisies. Her father beckons her to serve. Sunlight and fresh air.
But the game is over.