photo from Getty

Writer’s Digest Short Story Competition Finalist

7 May 2021

Writer’s Digest Your Story #111 – write a short story of 650 words or fewer based on the photo prompt above. You can be poignant, funny, witty, etc.; it is, after all, your story.

Out of nearly 200 entries, WD editors chose 5 finalists, of which I was one. Here is my entry, ‘Fourteen Hours Old’:

I’m not like other women. I’m only fourteen hours old. I was drawn together last night, from moss and milk, from tree roots and bird wings, from petals and poems. She said she hadn’t got me “quite right”, that I was “not like the others”. I haven’t met them yet, at least, not in the flesh.

I inhabit an aviary with a single aperture drawing blinding light. My eyes adjusted painfully, but not my heart. I hear them calling. The others. We are all of us new this day, under the same sky. I’m drawn to them, call to them.

She returns. I feel her gaze upon my back, her hand upon the frame of the door, which remains locked to me. The rough wood softly rubbing at her fingertips as she observes me, her latest creation. Then without a word, she turns and leaves. Leaves me again in my cage, my solitude and silence. Slumping to the floor, I feel heavy, feel old. How many hours has it been, without the others who I know but have never seen? I sleep.

In my dreams I dance across the shafts of light, across the beams of floor, across the calls to leave. I reach the window and find it empty. It is open, and I can dare to dream of somewhere, something else. I open my wings, and gather my roots. I’m soaring, and they’re soaring with me. We join hands, all of us women. We’re all created from different ingredients, but I sense the same flavour in our touch. We don’t know where we are going, but we know that we can.

Opening my eyes again, the dust makes me cough. I don’t know how long I’ve been here, been asleep, been lost to my potential. I fold my wings, tuck my dreams away, deep inside, where I can keep them safe. Maybe there’s a poem written inside me that can unlock my cage? I put my finger to the dust and choreograph my escape.

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