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. ;)
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.”
“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.
“What did you wish for?” he said.
Blood rushed her neck, her ears. Swelling shy capillaries.
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.