I forgot the deadline, so missed a chance to enter the Writers’ Police Academy Golden Donut Short Story Contest this year. Entrants were supposed to use the image below as a focal point for their story, and the winner will receive free registration at a 2016 WPA event.
Here’s my would-be entry, exactly 200 words (title included), but sans any critical feedback, so maybe it’s a good thing I mistook the date:
I Lay Me Down
Two by two.
I almost expect to hear Dad holler at me for handing him the wrong lumber: “Two-by-four! We’re buildin’ a house, not a table.”
He was murdered last year. Suspect’s alibi was hinky, but witnesses were sketchy and the jury couldn’t agree.
Two by two is how graves are laid out in the Bellingham family plot. The newer portion is marked by clusters of four stones each, as if pairs of family members pushed their beds together, headboard to headboard, for an eternal sleepover. In the older acreage, graves are tombs capped with stone carvings, as if the Bellingham ancestors aspired to interment at Westminster Abbey.
A new grave has been dug among the elders, and its coffin-length cap lies waiting outside the rope barrier. I toss the shovel onto the grass then hop out of the shallow hole awaiting the concrete casement that will hold the remains of Miss Clarise, aged 103. I beat dirt from my clothes and breathe an apology for the indignity of placing below her an unwelcome gravefellow.
I return the shovel to the shed, and study a knoll above the cemetery.
A good place for a picnic table.
It’s been a long while since I wrote flash fiction, and this piece may not win any contests, but it’s a good exercise in loosening up a long-unused creative muscle.