Thursday, January 15, 2009

Ascension Guest Writer: Sarah Hina

Now, please give a warm round of applause to Sarah Hina. Clarity of Night veterans know how she crushed the last contest, "Running Wind," and walked away with a well deserved 1st Place finish. I'm immensely proud to announce that since that time, her first novel Plum Blossoms in Paris has been accepted for publication! Rock on, Sarah!

If you're already a fan of Sarah's writing over at Murmurs, then you'll understand the magnitude of what I'm about to say. YOU AIN'T SEEN NOTHING YET. Her novel is stunning. It's an intense, penetrating romance, and more. Her characters have the usual surface desires, hurts, and baggage, but that's where the usual ends. She grinds them into one another, no holds barred, and forces them to face their deepest emotional fractures. And she sets those storms of discovery and desperation against the beautiful history and art of Paris. It's a feast, I tell you. A feast that leaves you aching as much as you smile. How do I know? Aine and I have the distinct honor of having become critique partners for Sarah, and I'm hugely blessed to have Aine and Sarah as mine.

Sarah stopped over to say:

Jason's 2007 "Halo" contest was my first foray into flash fiction, and I enjoyed the feedback I received for my entry and the challenge of writing a complete, compelling story with so few words. Most of all, I was surprised, and touched, by the spirit of community at The Clarity of Night. I met people. People who have become very dear friends.

So it's a delight to return to my fifth contest on the heels of receiving a publishing contract for Plum Blossoms in Paris. As always, I've loved all your engaging stories (I'm, uh, pretty grateful not to be competing this time around). But more importantly, I've enjoyed seeing the camaraderie and support in the comments sections, and imagining all the new connections being formed, and strengthened, well past the contest's end. That's always been the real prize to be won here.

So thank you, Jason and Aine, for your friendship to me, and for shining your light on so many worthy writers! You're such wonderful hosts. And good luck, Jason, in picking the winners! You're going to need it. ;)

**********

The Journey
by Sarah Hina


“Imagine all the time before you were born,” he said.

She stepped on the escalator, listening.

“Now imagine all the time after you die.”

She struggled with her heels. A kid giant-stepped the descending escalator, as the screech of subway brakes tore through the tunnel.

He turned to her.

“I’m trying, but—”

“I know,” he said. “Impossible. But that’s kind of the point.”

“Okay.”

“So what we have—what our whole lives are—is this amazing gift, right? But tiny. Precious. Like,” he brushed his finger across her face, “an eyelash on the cheek.”

He showed her the lash. Instinctively, she blew. When her eyes opened, he was leaning in. Staring.

She swallowed.

“What did you wish for?” he said.

Blood rushed her neck, her ears. Swelling shy capillaries.

“Nothing.”

Their ride was almost up. His eyes grew bright.

“My point is—”

Before she could react, he slung a leg over the rail and sailed backwards. Building killer momentum. Riders snatched their hands away in quick succession.

Her mouth gaped. He answered with a blurry smile. And landed.

The escalator peeled her off, and she worked for balance.

“Are you fucking CRAZY?” she exploded, ignoring the dirty looks.

His laughter warmed the vast, empty space. “WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?”

She traced the burn of her cheek, considering. She could take the down escalator. The normal way. Or not. Either way, her destination remained the same.

She smiled, as her fingers fell to her side. Hitching her skirt.

49 comments:

Scott said...

Well, it's a good thing for the eventual winner that you didn't enter this piece! Wonderful as usual.

I'm so happy for your success. I will stop by your place and offer my warmest congrats. I can say with total confidence that nobody, and I mean nobody, can be surprised that anything you have written has been a success.

Catvibe said...

Sarah! I had a feeling it was you! Huge heartfelt congratulations.

This is a wonderful and playful story, I love how she gives into the fun at the end. I can't wait to read your novel, I'm so excited and intrigued!

Jennifer said...

This is beautiful. I love your writing style. Still am in awe of your Halo piece. I can't wait to read your novel!!

Congratulations!

strugglingwriter said...

Very good as always Sarah.

I liked this bit the best:

"“So what we have—what our whole lives are—is this amazing gift, right? But tiny. Precious. Like,” he brushed his finger across her face, “an eyelash on the cheek.”"

Paul

Jaye Wells said...

Thanks for the smile, Sarah. Your stories always resonate with me, and this one is no different. Wishing you much deserved success on PLUM BLOSSOMS IN PARIS!

Sarah Hina said...

Wow. Thank you, everyone. And especially to you, Jason. I seriously have to write this down for my book's jacket blurb. ;) I'm very touched.

It really is an honor to be a guest writer here. And I've enjoyed everyone's entries so much!! This contest has been fun from start to finish. Thank you, Jason and Aine, for all your hard work to make that happen. :)

(btw, I am determined to catch up on everyone's entries! Only 40 more to go...)

Margaret said...

A wonderful story. I felt like I was behind the two of them on the escalator...So vivid...So full of life...

harshad said...

u make it all so alive...i could easily visualise everything. loved it...and hope i can get my hands on ur novel here in india! :-)

Lena said...

Thats one wonderful story, written in your unique style. Felt like i could see the scene with my own eyes.
Congratulations on the novel being published :)

Aniket Thakkar said...

I knew it... I knew... it was you!!! :-D As I've already mentioned I am eagerly waiting for your novel to come out! As to this piece... There is no word in my vocab to do justice to the kind of appreciation I hold for your work! So am just gonna say its sheer Awesomeness! Loved how you bought yourself a couple of extra words by using "-" here... "So what we have—what our whole lives are—is this amazing gift, right?" :-D

Now its your turn to hitch up your skirt... I mean figuratively speaking :-D and take the plunge when you book hits the stands! You've blown us away quite many times by your posts, I fear that your book would be a storm! :) :)

PS: I'm so sad that the contest is ending... :( Can't thank Jason enough along with all the writers for all the smiles and tears (occasionally fears too :-D)

Charles Gramlich said...

Sarah is a true talent. Love her work.

peggy said...

So very cool Sarah, and congrats on the book too! Now hitch up your skirt ;) for the ride of your life!!

*~*{Sameera}*~* said...

Powerful verbs!I liked her decision :)

Congratulations once again on the novel Sarah!Waiting to read it :)

BrownPhantom said...

Sarah,
Reading your take, the fellow writers here must be glad too that you were not "competing". Eagerly waiting for your book now :).

This is an amazing group; seldom seen such bonhomie. Has been an overwhelming experience.

PS : Jason, Sarah's blog link has a "p" missing in "blogspot". Apart from that, you've been more than perfect .

-Prashant Dhanke

BernardL said...

I both mentally applauded her daring, and doubted her sanity in following goofy down the rail. Well done. :)

jason evans said...

BrownPhantom, thanks for pointing that out!! I fixed it. Sorry for those who tried to follow the link. Go back and try again! It's more than worth it.

The Preacherman said...

Now that's what I call writing!

laughingwolf said...

hey sarah, i'm SO glad you did not enter this time, it's another winner! :D

Ello said...

Hey Sarah! I knew it was you! Especially because I was keeping an eye out for your piece and when it didn't show I knew it was you!

Love this of course! Love that she is going to do it! And how is it possible in 250 words without even knowing their names I care for these 2 characters? That's cause you are the master!

Sarah Hina said...

Thank you again, everybody. My heart is full!!

Still glad I'm not competing, though. ;) I just read ten more entries, and just sayin'...

peter said...

Like everyone else, I'm glad you weren't enetering! Lovely piece, and congrats on the book deal, fully deserved!

Aine said...

When you've got it, you've got it.

And, Sarah, you've got it!!

:D

Either way, her destination remained the same.

Never doubt your talent.

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Sarah - I knew it was wonderful you,you,you...but as Jason asked, I kept the secret! Congratulations again on the book. I honestly cannot wait to read it!

I love what you did with this prompt! Your story is romantic, fresh and spontaneous! I told you, once, that you are the queen of the romantic romp! This bears me out! ;D

Karen said...

Sarah, Having read your work on Murmurs, I watched and watched for your entry here, knowing it would be superb. This was worth the wait!

Your writing is natural and your characters are totally believable. I'm glad she hitched her skirt and took the ride!

Congratulations on your book. I'll be in Paris this summer and hope it will be out in time for me to take it along!

sawan said...

Sarah, m sure the novel would be a treat. i could sense it :P congraaatz :P

iLL Man said...

Remember, up can be down, but down is always down........

Congratulations on the book deal.

Ewen

anna j said...

Goodness . . . gorgeous story! I especially like the ending, and the last line.
Congratulations on the pending publication!

Geraldine said...

Congrats on the book deal Sarah! Bravo!!!

You've taken us on quite a ride with this one. ;<)

Hugs, G

one more believer said...

Sarah... as a babywriter i am blessed by reading another fab story... everything was there for a reader to absorb... was brought over by Geraldine of poetic path and thankful of her suggestion.. you have created a wonderful, whimsical story... tiny little gift, the eyelash, his closeness and hitchin her skirt the best!!... congrats on yr book...

ceedy said...

Can make an immediate animatic version out of this story.... encapsulating liveliness....

Liked it..

Sarah Hina said...

Once again, I thank everyone. All of your warm words and kindness have really made my day!

Jason and Aine, let's do this more often, eh? :D

Kunjal said...

Hi!!!Sarah congratulations:)

kunal said...

hey sarah.. the proximity of a writer of your calibre gives hope and inspiration.

I loved every bit of your personality.

and about this post.. u r definitely made for going a long way.

RiverSoul said...

Hey Sarah,
That was a beautiful write.
Loved the storyline...
Your story actually inspires me.....
Thank you, for such a beautiful story....
:)

pisku said...

This is simply phenomenal! What a piece!

JR's Thumbprints said...

I like how this story starts out so philosophical, then lets loose in the end. The breaks in the dialogue couln't have been better either.

bluesugarpoet said...

As always, Sarah, beautiful writing! Carpe diem - it's the only way to live. :) I love how you've captured that sentiment here. -jana

McKoala said...

That's a beautiful little story; every tiny piece counts in building the whole. Very satisfying.

Terry said...

Sarah, your writing is freakin' genius. From your opening sentences, to your closing lines, you include us in a wondrous moment in time between two people that I would love to know. Your line, "Either way, her destination remained the same," brought on a personal epiphany. You packed this story with so much, and missed absolutely nothing. Brava!

Aniket Thakkar said...

I have written a spoof story of sorts on Ascension.... do read it when you get time! http://foolishnessofthings.blogspot.com/2009/01/fyeo-ascension-revisited.html

You and Jason are in the lead roles :-D! You are sooo going to hunt down and kill me after reading it! For safety precautions... let me clarify that it is a form of showing my appreciation towards the work of you and all others out here! :-D

JaneyV said...

Sarah, this was so satisfying to read. I could reach out and touch you characters the were so present in the piece. I cannot tell you the joy i felt when i read that she hitched up her skirt. OK that sounds vaguely pervy - I mean I'm happy that she chose the fun way to make the journey.

I have always adored your entries here at Clarity of Night and even more so your generosity with your comments and feed back. Good karma Sarah! - You so deserve your success. I shall look out for it when it is published. I adore the title.

jason evans said...

Just another day at the office fo you, right Sarah? You weave hard hitting insights with great dialogue, pacing, and scene description. Capped with a warm smile, no less.

Great work, as always!! Thanks for showing us how it's done. :)

Vesper said...

“So what we have—what our whole lives are—is this amazing gift, right? But tiny. Precious. Like,” he brushed his finger across her face, “an eyelash on the cheek.”

I just love this! Something to think of every moment of our "tiny" lives. Beautiful, Sarah!

And, Jason, you wrote an amazing review for Sarah's novel! I had read the fragment available at Amazon and it was just wonderful. I'm looking forward to reading the whole novel. :-)

mukta said...

This is a wonderful piece, light and profound, you achieve so much in so little space. Very nice.

Anonymous said...

Sarah: As always, great images that add color and depth to the story and the characters. No easy feat in so few words.

Also, big Congrats! on the upcoming publication of your novel. It's great to see somebody from this wee neighborhood succeed.

[And thanks for your kind words on my efforts during the past two years of these here shindigs that Jason hosts.]
John McAuley

Linda Courtland said...

Wonderful piece, masterful writing. I loved the last line. Congrats on your book deal!!

pjd said...

Sarah, your writing--like your comments here and your name itself--has a grace and beauty to it. Thank you for being the "guest writer," and congratulations on the publication!

Sarah Hina said...

Just wanted to add my thanks again for everyone who's commented since I last checked in. It was an honor to be a guest writer, and I'm grateful for all the lovely comments and encouragement.

Thank you, all. :)

Chris Eldin said...

As always, reading your work just once is never enough.
This captured and kept my attention the whole way. I love the sweeping of the eyelash.
Beautiful!!!
:-)