Short Story Challenge: Try Your Hand to Win

luggage

hands

Photography credit for both images: Andrea C. Jenkins featured in Life Images Spring 2008

What thoughts, feelings, and words do these special captured moments evoke? There’s an epic story yearning to be told and written about each of these photographs; (originally featured in Life Images 2008) the only question is, which one will you choose to try your hand at!?

Short Story Submission Guideline:

Pick one image from above, and compose a short story or poem to bring it to life. Your writing style can be soulful and deep, or witty and fun – the object is to illuminate the image with artistic words that really pack a punch.

Option 1 – Blog Post

Are you a blogger? Use your next post to submit your story.

  • Pick your favorite image from above and feature in your post. Include photo credit: “Photography by Andrea C. Jenkins featured in Life Images 2008″ in the caption. Link the image back to this blog post if possible.
  • Express what the image conveys by writing an eye-catching short story or poem. (500 word maximum)
  • Comment below with the link to your blog post.

Option 2 – Comment Below

  • Express what the image conveys by posting your short story or poem in the comments section below. (500 word maximum)

GIVEAWAY*

The person to write the most creative/interesting story or poem to accompany one of the above photographs will win their choice of any Stampington magazine to spur on their craft.

DEADLINE: June 30th

 ***

To spark some creative juices, browse our hand-picked list of favorite quotes published in Life Images:

 

“All I want in life are the things that make time stop.”

The Things That Make Time Stop

Photography by: Kara Troglin featured in Life Images Summer 2008

 

“When the gypsy is singing, all the other birds are silent.”

Garden Gypsy

Photography by: David A. Bezayiff featured in Life Images Summer 2008

 

“With the excitement of the end of winter and the anticipation of spring, I have to take a deep breath and enjoy all the moments that the day brings.”

 strawberry

Photography by: Tanya Nozawa & Deborah L. Carlson featured in Life Images Winter 2009

 

We can’t wait to read your stories! :) Don’t forget to comment below.

 

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Posted: Thursday, June 6th, 2013 @ 1:01 pm
Categories: Uncategorized.
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50 Responses to “Short Story Challenge: Try Your Hand to Win”

  1. Ellen says:

    I love the photos! I could write to both of them :D
    I am working on them now to see which one speaks the most. Thank you, for a fun challenge!

  2. Deb G. says:

    (short story to accompany luggage photo)

    “There’s No Place Like. . .”

    Just a few words between us fully expressed both my juvenile angst and my mom’s unconditional affection for me.

    “I hate you! I’m running away!”

    “I love you. May I help you pack?”

    Furious at her offer, I threw a few necessities into my child-sized canvas suitcase, not sure where I was going or what I would need beyond a Nancy Drew, my stuffed rabbit, my coin purse, a change of clothes, my hairbrush and peanut butter crackers. Since it was raining, I donned my hooded slicker and announced to HER that “I’m leaving now!”

    “Goodbye. I’ll miss you. Please write and let us know you’re okay.”

    Slamming the door behind me, I walked to the end of the driveway and was faced with my first decision—left or right? Turning left led to the main road and that could be dangerous. A right-hand directional kept me within the confines of the surrounding neighborhood and remaining in familiar territory for the first leg of my journey seemed like a good idea, especially because it was already mid-afternoon.

    The rain pelted harder as I was rounding the bend of our circular street. Should have packed an umbrella too, I guess, but I would just buck up and take shelter within that cluster of evergreen bushes until the precipitation subsided. It had often served as a makeshift fort and was the burial site of “monkey gold” that we kids dug up along the street. I settled in, using my suitcase as a sit-upon to help shield me from the cold, damp ground.

    Time passed slowly, the heavens continued to cry and after what seemed like hours, I decided it was time to have some sustenance and ate every single cracker. Good thing I had a few dollar bills left from my birthday; I’d need to buy supplies tomorrow.

    The weather bullies were unrelenting while daylight was dwindling along with my resolve. In my haste, I’d neglected to bring a flashlight. It might make sense to sleep in a warm, dry bed and get a fresh start for parts unknown in the morning. I would make it clear when I returned that I was seeking temporary lodging–only for tonight–that I had every intention to leave again once I’d had time to regroup and pack a few more provisions.

    I marched back around the bend, passing the same three houses, and came to our still-empty driveway. Dad’s car wasn’t there yet so at least I hadn’t missed dinner. As I trudged up to the porch, the front door opened and there she was, holding out her arms with a genuine smile of love that echoed the warmth of her hug as she embraced me. “Welcome home, little traveler. You’ll have to tell me all about your adventure. I sure did miss you, you know.” I melted into HOME.

  3. Patricia Duncan says:

    May second I lost my loving husband at an early age…. We have two grandchildren so far… at times it has been so hard to get up and take care of business, the house is still and quite. The picture of the child taking a picture of elderly hands touched me to the bone. I remind myself daily I have a purpose yet to fulfill and part of that is being a grand partent for two…my life and it’s path have made such a turn…. but the one path that is evident by the picture I am to carry on and be a grand parent worthy of my grandson and granddaughter. I will be strong and place each foot in the solid path that is an example for those yet to follow me.
    thank you Andrea C. Jenkins for a loving picture that now depicts what my new life is about..

    In love, peace and Joy
    Patricia (trish) Duncan

  4. Patricia Duncan says:

    LMfunnybone off I said picture again… playing with the car is he… oh dear… note to self … read before you send… I did a cute and paste… not a good idea unless you go back and read.. but maybe you get the babbling of a grandma

  5. Katyoparty says:

    Both of the photos speak volumes. I recently wrote a short poem (which I rarely do)and as soon as I saw the first photo I knew they were meant for each other.

    Fear not to fly,
    make the journey,
    be spectacular,
    in your courage.

    Here is a link to my blog. http://artoutwithyourheartout.com/2013/06/07/somerset-place-entry/

  6. Carol Page says:

    “Oh, how we loved to dance!” My great-grandmother told me as she showed me the pictures of my great-grandfather. He was only 23 when he died, from the rampant tuberculosis of the time. “He coughed and coughed,” she told me, as she tied together the photographs with a worn green ribbon, using her impossibly long fingers to make a perfectly even bow. She’s 93 now, and her hands are still beautiful. She worked hard her whole life, keeping house, raising children, and hand-dipping chocolates in the local candy store. Sometimes she worked in the front of the store, packing boxes of canndy, wrapping them in crisp, white paper, and tying the ribbon with more perfect bows. She wore through her first wedding ring from all the work, she told me. Great-grandfather was able to buy her a diamond when he replaced the first wedding ring. She’s promised me the diamond ring when she dies, but I don’t want it, except on great-gradmama’s living hand. She taught me to knit with those long fingers, and braided my hair. So I photograph great-grandmama’s beautiful hands. She asked that her nails be painted especially with Cherries in the Snow nail polish, that matches the lipstick she wore her whole life.

  7. Mary says:

    Her Magic
    Those hands were aged when I was young but I can still remember the drawer full of costume jewelry from when “ladies dressed for dinner”, and can envision those elaborate rhinestone bracelets and various cocktail rings adorning them.

    Those hands were the perfect measuring devices for baking. A dollop fit perfectly in her palm, a pinch between finger and thumb while a large pinches meant two fingers and the thumb. And it was always just right.

    She crocheted and knitted practical things but tatting lace was her indulgence. One hand with heavy thread wrapped intricately around fingers, the other hand moving the shuttle darting in and out like a bird, moving so quickly the eye couldn’t follow it. And miraculously something delicate in appearance and surprising strong would appear.

    Delicate in appearance and surprising strong were her hands. Long fingers that would gently touch the freckles on my cheek as she told me that was where the sun had kissed me. Those same long fingers gripping my shoulder like a steel vise when I dared to misbehave in public.

    In her seventies she decided she would learn to paint and those hands didn’t fail her. Tiny elegant flower petals would emerge from those steady hands. The feathers of her birds looked as though they would float away on the breeze.

    She was a farmer’s daughter, a young widow and the mother of daughters. She would say we come from good peasant stock, strong women with strong constitutions and strong hands. She never saw the magic in those hands.

    I did.

  8. Patty Smith says:

    please visit my blog for my story submission. Thank you. pssmittyfavs.blogspot.com

  9. Boo says:

    http://stamplaughplay.blogspot.com/p/challenges.html

    I put my short story: Grandmother’s Hands on my blog at the link above.

    Thanks for the opportunity

  10. HawaiianLibrarian says:

    Hands

    Zoom! Zoom! Zoom!
    Who’s that zooming in my room?
    Jus’ me Alex, Great Grandmama, with a kiss for you.
    Hmm, thank you, and what do you have in your hands, Just Me Alex?
    Dis is my zoom zoom hot car, Great Grandmama.
    And what is a zoom zoom hot car?
    Itsa really cool car that goes fast fast fast!
    How fast does your car zoom, little man?
    Oh Great Grandmama, faster than you can knit.
    Well, I don’t knit anymore so that is fast.
    It goes faster than I can run. Really really fast.
    How far can you car zoom, little Alex?
    As far as Heaven, Great Grandmama.
    That’s very far, my Alex. Why does it zoom so far?
    Because, Great Grandmama.
    Because?
    Because, Great Grandmama, Daddy said you’re going to Heaven soon.
    Yes, I am.
    So my zoom zoom car will zoom to Heaven to bring you my kiss, Great Grandmama.
    Thank you, my little Alex. I love you.
    I love you, too,Great Grandmama. Zoom zoom zoom…

    • Bethany says:

      Thank you so much for sharing…what a lovely piece. I tried to hold back the tear that escaped, but to no avail.

  11. Here is the link to my story: http://sweetredclover.blogspot.com/2013/06/short-story-challenge.html

    This is such an interesting challenge. Thanks!

  12. Cortney says:

    Poem inspired by photo 1 (luggage)

    Title: I am Ready

    One step will take me
    Where my mind wanders

    One bag will contain
    What supports my soul

    One bracelet will remind me
    Of where it started

    One thought will banish
    Hints of doubt

    One step will take me
    Out into the world

    And one more lets me
    Discover my dreams

  13. Ellen Schwartz says:

    Finally, She Can Rest in Peace

    We were all with her when she left us…at her bedside, holding her hands, caressing her cheek, murmuring our last loving words to her, knowing she would soon be out of her physical pain, and continuing on with her soul journey. Our mom, who suffered so through the end stages of cancer and heart failure. As we said our tearful good-byes, my thoughts wandered back in time.
    She hadn’t spoken since her last stroke. She tried, but her words were incomprehensible. She spoke, unintelligibly. Yet, this gave me peace in my heart, because she was unaware of it. No frustration, no sadness, just child-like innocence. That made me happy, knowing she wasn’t suffering emotionally. I glimpsed a lifetime of snapshots as I stood there, pieces of mom over the years…her energy, her zest for life, her creativity. She painted, bowled, mothered, cooked, painted some more, and crocheted…..for her girls, her friends, her grandkids. Dresses, Christmas decorations, afghans, winter hats, scarves. Beautiful, warm, snuggly, colorful. I thought of her yummy cherry cobbler, her love of high heels, her big earrings. I heard her playing the piano with abandon, passion, and joy!
    In her last moments, she looked up at the ceiling and said, “Look! Can you see them?” She was going home, whole and healed….Finally, she can rest in peace…
    My sister was the youngest, and took my mom’s passing especially hard. On her wedding day, she was so beautiful and so happy, but I saw her tears of longing for our mom’s presence. When she became pregnant, we laughed and giggled with excited anticipation! Yet always there, in my sister’s heart, was sadness over not having her mom with her when her son would be born. As her eyes filled with tears, she would begin to express her feelings, but would get so choked up with emotion she couldn’t go on. You know how that can happen sometimes? Well, we found the best medicine for those moments….”Sister Hug Fests”. Close, loving, holding on tight. We love each other deeply…
    Nicholas came into the world, and into the arms of such a wonderful, loving mom. A woman of love, faith and gratitude. She cried tears of joy for her blessing, and in their compassion her joyful tears welcomed her sorrow in their midst. Here she was, a mom holding her precious son, who would grow up playing with toy cars as most boys do, feeling such love for him, wishing her mom was there holding her, too. I placed a box in my sister’s hands saying, “You should open this now. Read the card first.” She read:
    “Dear Linda,
    When I was packing to move, I came across this gift~
    Still in the same gift box, still wrapped with the same baby blue tissue paper, from the same loving hands. I wondered how I had overlooked something so beautiful and special to me, from someone I loved so much….Well, the answer always comes at the right time. This was always meant for you~”
    Linda slowly unwrapped the gift, savoring each moment, knowing deep down inside this was indeed something very special. You see, it was a baby blanket, crafted with love from our loving mother for my son, never used. Still in the same gift box, still wrapped with the same baby blue tissue paper, from the same loving hands. There was a reason I never used it. There’s always a reason. Mom made a baby blanket for every grandchild.
    This one was for Nicholas~

  14. Felecia says:

    I have written to the first picture (the suitcase) and posted to my blog:
    http://alifesanctified.com/2013/06/08/wayfaring-soul.aspx
    entitled: Wayfaring Soul
    Thanks so much for the opportunity!
    Felecia

  15. Pamelah says:

    Short Story Submission for Suitcase Picture:

    I am leaving my homeland in the Middle East for Paris, France. The war and fighting in my country has torn my family apart and left us without a home. Everything I own is in my suitcase – my medical degree, my passport and my meager savings, along with my art journals and some photographs I was able to salvage from the rubble of our bomb-struck neighborhood. I am traveling alone because my parents and brother left our country before the fighting and bloodshed started. As I wait in the Customs and Immigration area of the train station I feel self conscious of my out-dated sweater and suitcase – I stick out like a sore thumb amid the stylishly dressed and accessorized diplomats and their wives who are also escaping the war. I feel envy that on outer appearances they appear to have so much more than I do. These thoughts are only momentary – I realize that my clothing and suitcase do not define who I am or who I will be in my new life, in fact I am thankful to be alive and have the opportunity to start over in a new country. My sweater is warm and my suitcase is light, soon I will be with the ones I love….

  16. Peggy Stork says:

    The Hands of Time. Time gone by and time yet to come. Secrets, accomplishments, babies held and tears dried. Laughing, loving and waving good by. Young hands freezing the moment in time as they prepare to carry on.

  17. Becky Green says:

    I JUST finished my Blog Post with a Short Story for this Challenge! Hope you enjoy!! :) Here is the link: http://tladydesigns.blogspot.com/2013/06/betsys-most-prized-possessions.html#comment-form

    WHAT A FUN CHALLENGE!!!! :)

  18. Ann Linton says:

    I chose the image “Luggage” of a young woman in winter clothing holding a colorful flowered suitcase and wrote about an imaginary vacation that she takes to an idealistic self-created island called Gamboge Bay. Because the word gamboge is the name of a vibrant shade of yellow, I chose a few words with yellow imagery without using them to excess or as an obvious metaphor.

    She packs a bag with vacation-type items and retreats to her art studio and spends the weekend there in oblivion only to return back to real life and her real job on Monday. As she ages, she takes many real vacations by car, plane, and train, but none are as special to her as her own private Gamboge Bay, which is always just a thought and a few steps away.

    You may read the poem on my blog at
    http://heliotropestudio.blogspot.com/

    The blog is newly-formed, so alas, there are not many entries.

    Thank you for this opportunity. Everyone seems to be inspired by this challenge!

  19. Sara Torbett says:

    What fun!! I’m writing about the second photograph. I hope you enjoy! :)

    Red to remember,
    and red to spark strength.

    Toy cars to zoom,
    two small hands to wonder.

    Innocent conversations and questions galore,
    “Grandma, who do you wear your red for?”

    “I wear it to remember,
    when I was young and carefree.
    I used to dance in circles and laugh,
    want to see?”

    Curious eyes wondering how,
    Grandma could choose to laugh right now.
    Old and nimble, and frail as could be,
    could red stand for a joy that was wild and free?

    Laughter breaking, squeals of child’s delight.
    Red on her nails, love in plain sight.

    Red to remember,
    the passion inside,
    that an old frail body simply can’t hide.

  20. Lisa M says:

    Is there a deadline for this challenge? I’m only just now getting started. :)

  21. Angela G says:

    1st photo (suitcase in hands)

    Take me to Grandma’s house….SHE has craft supplies and many Stampington magazines.

  22. Sara Torbett says:

    Wondering why several new comments are showing up, when my poem comment on my home computer still says it’s awaiting moderation. I really don’t want to miss the deadline! Is there some way I can email my submission?

    • Bethany says:

      Hi Sara,

      We don’t have anyone managing our blog on the weekends which is why your comment was awaiting approval. My apologies for such a late response. I can’t wait to read your entry! No worries, you have not missed the deadline.

      Blessings,
      Bethany
      Somerset Place Blog Manager

  23. Cortney says:

    Poem based on the luggage photo.
    Title: I am ready

    One step will take me
    Where my mind wanders

    One bag will contain
    What supports my soul

    One bracelet will remind me
    Of where it started

    One thought will banish
    All Hints of doubt

    One step will take me
    Out into the world

    And one more lets me
    Discover my dreams

  24. Lynn says:

    I chose the first picture to write about. You can find my entry here….

    http://cranialpurge.blogspot.com/2013/06/adelia.html

    Thank you for the opportunity!

  25. Baerbel says:

    First image, fiction:

    Last summer me and my daughter wanted to visit my brother in southern Germany. The four hours drive had to be exciting so we filled her small bag with toys and books. While we were driving, she told me that she loves the colours of her bag so much. “Why can’t I be inside that bag, mom?” she asked. I wondered why she wants to hide in there but she said “I want to play in this beautiful garden”. After she told me that I started to collect yarn dyed in the colours of her bag.

    It took me almost a year to find similar colours and knit this dress in the shades she loves so much. Yesterday I finished my work. She loves her dress as much as she loves the bag. “I can play in my garden now.” was all she said.

    I love her.

  26. “The Hands of Tyme”
    Being a mother/grandmother/great-grandmother myself really allows me to identify with the ‘hands’ picture. Taking a picture of MY hands maybe wouldn’t show all they did physically – but they’re connected to my heart. My hands/heart have seen the pangs of childhood, early marriage, childbirth, divorce, re-marriage, spouse’s death, and all the earth’s immense beauty.
    Now my hands/heart aren’t so connected to ‘doing’ as much as just ‘being’. My aging hands/heart are allowing me to finally become a human BEING. I now can appreciate the beauty and wonder in a sunrise or sunset, and in the call of a bird, and in many facets of Nature — as well as in the depth, width and breadth of a human – from the laugh of a small child right through to the last gasp of air that an aging person takes. This ‘space suit’ which is my human body is simply the vehicle my soul is traveling through this journey in. It matters not what size or color the ‘suit’ is — what matters is the travel opportunity. I’ve heard it said that ‘aging is a privilege denied to many’ and I thank my God daily for the honor and privilege of continuing to be alive in the ‘suit’ that He chose for me; and to be able to listen for the “music of the spheres – those Divine chords that remind me the Great Composer loves me, and that I love Him”. I’m totally grateful for the gift of my particular hands and heart and life.

    • Bethany says:

      Beautiful! I LOVE this sentence: ” I now can appreciate the beauty and wonder in a sunrise or sunset, and in the call of a bird, and in many facets of Nature — as well as in the depth, width and breadth of a human.”

  27. Jean Yates says:

    I am a blogger. I wrote a poem about “Hands”, a photo which moved me very much. You can see it on my blog, on the date 6/11/2013. Thank you very much!
    Jean Yates

  28. Dita Basu says:

    Hi, I am a blogger. I chose to write inspired by the Hands picture. It is here on my blog written on 6/13/13. http://www.alankarshilpa.blogspot.com.Thank you.

  29. Robin Yeo says:

    One photo, two generations. My mother and my granddaughter. Their faces are etched in my mind forever, but their hands? Hands are something we tend to forget over time. Not their touch, mind you, but their look. Do I want to remember my mother’s hands looking so aged, so discolored and fragile looking? No, frankly I don’t, but those hands were once young, soft and beautiful to look at. They brushed away many a tear, soothed many a brow and were always tender in their touch. Their aged appearance not only speaks of my mother’s age (87) but of the life she has lived. If they could tell only one story it would be of how, one day, her wedding rings fell from her hand and were nearly lost forever in a storm drain. That the rings managed to stop just shy of dropping into oblivion still amazes me to this day. They were, and still are, her most valued possessions. She now wears her wedding band around her neck and her once perfectly sized engagement ring on her largest finger. Even now I can see it is too large for her but she will never take it off. Nor will she ever take off her red nail polish. That is a beauty ritual she looks forward to every week. My granddaughter is mesmerized by “Great Granny’s Red Nails” and takes a picture as they are drying. I am standing above both of them and take this photo of two sets of hands. It’s a small moment in time but one that has been captured forever.

  30. Sarah says:

    Loved your story!

  31. Carol Barol says:

    [I was touched by photo 2 of the hands. My story is written in first person and a true life story of special moments for me.]

    Today, I felt my mom fluff the clean sheets over me while I lay on her big bed. I am 4 or 5 years old and it is fun to be still while they sink down. I try to see how long it takes before they touch me. They smell so fresh and envelope me like a tent collapsing in slow motion. I’m giggling and happy, and as I lay there, awaiting the final depletion of air, she snatches the crisp, white sheet and snaps it up, full of air all over again.

    Today, I felt that happiness of fluffing sheets over my sweet, little Danny. He’s 4 years old. I hear him laughing and saying to me, “Do it again, Mommy!” and I oblige him repeatedly. My heart sings with each squeal he lets out.

    Today, I wondered if Grandma did that for Mom when she was little. I bet she did. Now, I know why.

  32. Angela Roberts says:

    Hands so busy through the years,
    Making meals and drying tears;
    Hands that served and clapped and held,
    Lifting up the one that fell.
    Those hands lie now in sweet repose,
    Memories hidden, only she knows.
    Look, look at my shiny, fast car;
    Do you think I can drive it far?
    Where will I go and what will I see?
    Can you come and go with me?
    No, you must grow on your own way,
    For this is your hour, this is your day.
    My hands so busy through the years,
    Now I send you forth, the future nears.

  33. Barb Lowry says:

    “Photography by Andrea C. Jenkins featured in Life Images 2008″ (Image #1 above stirred thoughts of a woman finding her way to freedom. The story is fiction but I hope that it inspires some to find their way to freedom…)

    The Train Whistle
    By Barb Lowry

    The train whistle pierced the deafening silence as I sat waiting. My thoughts were wandering and my heart was beating so loud I was sure everyone near me could hear it. Tonight would be a brand new start, and I desperately needed to start again.

    I wondered what Joseph’s reaction would be when he arrived home tonight and found me gone. No dinner on the table, no martini waiting. Nothing, but my note telling him not to try and find me.

    He would be mad, of course, and I wondered if he’d be angrier because I was gone or because his dinner wasn’t ready. That’s what our relationship had become. Me, catering to his needs, trying to keep him happy, because I knew what would happen when he wasn’t pleased. At least the makeup I’d carefully applied before I left this morning covered whatever might still show.

    Something in me clicked last night and I knew then what I had to do. I’d wanted to do it for as long as I could remember but I never had the strength and I’d always hoped that he’d be sorry. But last night was the last time he would ever hit me. This morning after he’d left for work, I carefully cleaned the house and set his plate at the dining room table like I had learned to do. I did the laundry and ironed his shirts. Then I packed a bag and left. I don’t even think I locked the front door behind me.

    Sitting in the train depot, I heard the whistle again but it was closer this time. My heart began to race with excitement and anxiety. What would I do out there, where would I go? So many questions all waiting to be answered. I reminded myself that the only thing I had to do right now was step up into that train and away I would go from this living hell. I would never see Joseph again.

    A smile grew as I realized that I could do whatever I wanted without having to ask permission! I looked around at the people sitting on the benches near me. There was a mother with a small child, and elderly man in a black wool coat and a derby hat holding onto a cane. Beside him was a teenage girl with a backpack and across from her a man in a suit reading the paper. He reminded me a little of Joseph with his well-groomed mustache and distinct Roman nose. He glanced up as I stared and smiled at me. I looked away quickly not wanting to appear nosy or interested.

    “TRAIN FOR NEW YORK CITY HAS ARRIVED AT GATE 6” announced a voice over the loudspeaker. New York was where I was going so the announcement to board would come quickly. I stood up, grabbed the handle of my valise and slowly walked toward the platform. I glanced back at the man with the paper and found him watching so I quickly moved away. Why would he be watching me, I wondered?

    “TRAIN FOR NEW YORK CITY WILL BE LEAVING FROM GATE 6 IN FIVE MINUTES. ALL PASSENGERS MUST BE ON BOARD.”

    I found the line that had formed for boarding. It moved fairly fast but not as fast as my beating heart. So many people seemed to be going the same place that I was going but I wondered why they were making the same trip. Were they going to see family, or going home, or were they also running away?

    I self-consciously thought that it seemed too obvious what I was doing. Running away from home, just like a six year old girl, in my best Sunday dress semi-covered by a brown wool coat that was too small. The flowers from the dress peaked out below the tattered coat. It was all I had. Joseph had made sure of that. He, in his Armani suits and beautiful leather shoes, me in a dress that I’d made five years ago. Never anything store bought for me. I glanced down at my shoes. They had been a Christmas present from my Mother before she died so many years ago. The black patent had been scuffed badly over the years but they still fit and were the only good shoes I had.

    The line inched forward and I could see there were only about 10 people in front of me before it would be my turn to step up into the train car and begin my new life. Little by little, the line moved and finally the woman in front of me was ushered up by the man in the uniform. I leaned down and grabbed the handle of my valise and started to take the step up. But before I could put my foot on the bottom step, someone stepped in front of me, blocking my way.

    “You aren’t going anywhere, you little tramp!” A hand grabbed me under my still sore chin and snapped my head up. I looked into the face of Joseph and began to tremble and cry. He grabbed my arm and whisked me away from the line and the attention. I prayed that someone would see and help me.

    “Where the hell do you think you are going, you little bitch?” Joseph’s anger was starting to bubble as he berated me. His grasp on my arm was so tight that I cried out in pain.

    “I-I-I’m sorry, Joseph!” I cried.

    “You aren’t half sorry enough yet!” With my arm still in his tight fist and my valise in his other hand, he started dragging me toward the exit. He was so angry and in my mind I knew that if he got me out of there, he might very well kill me. I started to struggle. Instinct told me that I needed to get away from him now, and I frightfully scanned around looking for help. Suddenly my eyes found the man who had been reading the paper. Our eyes connected and he watched for a few seconds. I looked at him pleadingly and then I saw him start to move toward us. Within a split second he was in front of Joseph. He could see the tears spilling down my cheeks.

    “Hey, what’s going on here?” he asked loudly and stood directly in front of Joseph.

    “Get out of my way, you moron!” Joseph replied and reached to push him out of the way with the hand that held my valise. But the man stood his ground.

    “This woman is in pain, you’d best release her immediately!” the man said sternly.

    “No fucking way. Get lost!” Joseph started to step around him. The man reached and grabbed onto Joseph’s arm and whirled him around. Joseph let go of me. He clenched his now free hand into a fist and hit the man with full force. The man teetered back a few steps and fell to the floor. The surprised look on Joseph’s face was telling. He was as shocked at himself as I was.

    The man started to get up, placing his hand on his cheek where the blood was starting to pour from his nose.

    “Oh, God!” Joseph whispered loudly.

    “Well, Sir,” the man stated loudly. “I am Sgt. James Petrol of the Burlington Police and you have just assaulted a police officer!”

    Joseph’s face went white as a sheet. He turned and looked at me with desperation. I felt so awful for Joseph. I was sure he’d really meant no harm just like the times he’d hit me and was sorry afterward but I was so afraid that he would blame me so I didn’t say a word. Something in me told me that the man had probably just saved my life.

    The man turned Joseph around and clipped on handcuffs. He pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and wiped the blood from his face. By the time he was done, there was a crowd circled around us and from behind the crowd a voice could be heard.

    “Out of the way people, the excitement is over.” I looked over and two uniformed officers stepped through the crowd. Moving over to Joseph the larger policeman began to read his Miranda rights to him. I watched Joseph closely. He was petrified. I almost felt sorry for him.

    “You okay, ma’am?” Sgt. Petrol’s voice was so soft I could hardly hear him. I nodded and then felt tears fill my eyes again. With great concern, he took my hand and squeezed it warmly.

    “Now…now…It’s going to be okay, you have to believe me. Can I ask where you were going before this happened?” he asked.

    “I-I-I really don’t know,” I blubbered. “I bought a ticket for New York and I thought I would find a hotel there until I could get a job. I just wanted to leave. I really hadn’t thought much of what to do when I got there.” The tears were flowing freely now.

    “Hold on a moment, let me make a call,” he said as he pulled out a cell phone, still holding my trembling hand.

    “Mary?” he said into the phone after a minute. “Do you have any room tonight? One woman. Good, we’ll be right over.” He smiled at me as he hung up the phone.

    “Mary owns a house on the south side of town for women just like you. People who need a place to stay until they get on their feet again. You’ll love Mary. She’s just like my own mother. Come on.”

    I looked over and the two officers were walking Joseph to the doors on the other side of the depot. He tried to glance backward at me but they held him tightly on each side so he couldn’t turn. The last I saw, they were pulling him through the door. I turned and walked with Sgt. Petrol. As we stepped outside, I heard the train whistle. It was telling me what I already knew….that my life was beginning again.

    • Bethany says:

      Powerful with a lot of emotion infused into this piece. Thanks so much for entering our contest! We are reading all entries today and will be contacting the winner ASAP.

  34. Patti Hodder says:

    (To accompany luggage photo):
    I always knew when summer had come. Our neighbor’s tree dropped its berries on the driveway making red and purple kaleidoscopes. We then knew it was time to pack up for our annual trip to a cabin along the lake in Maine. I grabbed my favorite suitcase down from the attic and filled it with my most prized possessions for the road trip: my newest Barbie, my Tiger Beat magazines and my transistor radio.

    Mom packed up the station wagon with Bermuda shorts, etched highball glasses and the Hibachi grill.

    I flash back to warm summer afternoons….lying on the floating dock staring up at the sky and creating shapes from passing clouds. And cool Maine nights playing Yahtzee, Battleship and listening to America’s top 40 on my perfectly positioned transistor radio.

    My brother and I would fall asleep in our bunks listening to the lake gently lapping while we plotted the next day’s adventures. We could spend hours finding pine cones for holiday decorating or sit in the canoe with our plastic fishing poles waiting for the next big catch.

    My mom would sit on her webbed beach chair crocheting while wearing her Ray Ban sunglasses, the kerchief around her head, perfect match to her summer shift and always keeping a watchful eye. The families would come out at dusk to roast marshmallows and create s’mores that only seemed to taste right along the shores of the lake. The smell of lighter fluid was the signal to wipe the sand from your feet, lather on some Noxzema to quench the fire the sun left on your legs and put on the new clothes Mom made especially for the trip.

    Back and forth memories.

    I can still smell the Maine air as I bring the suitcase down this summer. Although I have it filled with today’s technology, I have made sure to pack the fading family pics from all our summer adventures. Just holding the handle again brings me back to these memories. And I hope as I tell the stores again to my mom, it will help her remember those beautiful summer nights, Bermuda shorts and highballs and how these memories are so precious to me. I want her to have a minute of remembrance so we can all be back along the Maine lakefront. Even just for a minute.

    • Bethany says:

      You paint a lovely picture with your imagery. Thank you so much for your submission! We are reading all the stories today and will be contacting the winner ASAP. All the best!

  35. Holly Shaw says:

    I am a craft and art life blogger. I wrote about the mixed patterns in the luggage photo and the freedom of living an unmatched life. My story submission is on my blog written on June 24, 2013, http://haleighannashands.blogspot.com/2013/06/haleighannas-hands-short-story.html

    I hope you like it. Feel free to comment!

  36. Jean Yates says:

    Hi. it is Jean Yates again. I am leaving a trackback to my poem, now. My poem doesn’t appear on my blog because it has been archived.
    Please scroll wayyyyyyyyy down–so sorry!
    http://prettykittydogmoonjewelry.blogspot.com/2013/06/a-poem-for-challenge-by-jean-yates.html

  37. To accompany the picture of 2 hands:

    I hear you talking at my bedside, wondering why I continue to hang onto this life when it’s obvious that I am in much pain and that life as I knew it died when I had my stroke. You think that I don’t hear, but I do. I also hear some of you saying that I haven’t fulfilled my purpose; that I will let go of this life when I am ready, when I have successfully settled my Earthly affairs and can go onto Heaven.

    I still have enough of my brain function that I can disagree with all of you. I say it’s the simple things in life that I cling to now. You see my great-grandchild with the smooth skinned, pudgy hands next to mine? The differences between us are many, but the main one is that I’ve made my mistakes, enjoyed my successes, mourned my losses, and cried over my defeats. This young person has all that to experience on life’s journey. But, right now, in this moment, the focus is on just one thing – sharing an important part of childhood with me – the toy thing-a-ma-jig clutched in the pudgy hand – and I am content to spend my time listening to the stories and the adventures the imagination weaves. I no longer have to be busy with the work of living. Instead, I can relish each simple moment and feel the love in it.

    You see my hands, gnarled and shriveled? Why, my wedding ring doesn’t even fit my ring finger any longer. But, my daughter spent her Saturday afternoon polishing my nails this cheerful red and making sure my skin was massaged with a lotion smelling of lavender. When my son arrives, he double checks that I still have my wedding ring on one of my fingers. He knows how much it means to me that I have never removed it except to have it cleaned since I married his father more than 60 years ago. Sometimes I forget about those passing years and call him by his father’s name. He looks so much like him when he was younger. Mostly, though, I know that the care, love, and concern I receive right now is a gift I don’t want to miss.

    You say that I will die when I have served my life’s purpose, when God has prepared a space for me. I say I’ll die when I can’t hang onto these precious living moments of sharing love any longer. Celebrate the moments with me. I am so blessed.

    • Bethany says:

      Valda, thank you so much for your beautiful submission! We are reading all the entries today and will be in contact with the winner.

  38. Amber Walker says:

    Submission for the luggage photo:

    Threads

    Closing my eyes
    Swirling colors of rainbow form
    Necklaces made of candy collide
    Treasured beaded bracelet circling the wrist
    Swaying pigtails from side to side
    Sunlight glittering on daises and dandelions
    Whispered songs floating in the breeze

    One little girl
    Packing layered life sketches
    Designed through imagination
    Held and carried in flowered vintage petals
    Encasing dreams in innocent joy

    Years pass
    Time ebbs and flows
    Dreams kept packed on seas of change
    Innocence slips and hearts break

    Eyes flutter open
    Old dreams tangled with wisdom
    Still tangible in foggy light
    Suitcase laid open and past floats
    Binding the past with the present
    Stitches recalled
    Knots remembered
    Moments sewn together
    Weaving one life pattern.

    Blogged this submission here: http://alteredbyamber.blogspot.com/2013/06/stampington-blog-challenge-short-story.html

  39. Sara Torbett says:

    Who won this contest? I’d love to know :)

  40. Holly Shaw says:

    I agree. Who won?

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Jordan Uncategorized

luggage

hands

Photography credit for both images: Andrea C. Jenkins featured in Life Images Spring 2008

What thoughts, feelings, and words do these special captured moments evoke? There’s an epic story yearning to be told and written about each of these photographs; (originally featured in Life Images 2008) the only question is, which one will you choose to try your hand at!?

Short Story Submission Guideline:

Pick one image from above, and compose a short story or poem to bring it to life. Your writing style can be soulful and deep, or witty and fun – the object is to illuminate the image with artistic words that really pack a punch.

Option 1 – Blog Post

Are you a blogger? Use your next post to submit your story.

  • Pick your favorite image from above and feature in your post. Include photo credit: “Photography by Andrea C. Jenkins featured in Life Images 2008″ in the caption. Link the image back to this blog post if possible.
  • Express what the image conveys by writing an eye-catching short story or poem. (500 word maximum)
  • Comment below with the link to your blog post.

Option 2 – Comment Below

  • Express what the image conveys by posting your short story or poem in the comments section below. (500 word maximum)

GIVEAWAY*

The person to write the most creative/interesting story or poem to accompany one of the above photographs will win their choice of any Stampington magazine to spur on their craft.

DEADLINE: June 30th

 ***

To spark some creative juices, browse our hand-picked list of favorite quotes published in Life Images:

 

“All I want in life are the things that make time stop.”

The Things That Make Time Stop

Photography by: Kara Troglin featured in Life Images Summer 2008

 

“When the gypsy is singing, all the other birds are silent.”

Garden Gypsy

Photography by: David A. Bezayiff featured in Life Images Summer 2008

 

“With the excitement of the end of winter and the anticipation of spring, I have to take a deep breath and enjoy all the moments that the day brings.”

 strawberry

Photography by: Tanya Nozawa & Deborah L. Carlson featured in Life Images Winter 2009

 

We can’t wait to read your stories! :) Don’t forget to comment below.

 

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