Our first of three guest writers to show us how it is done is Sarah Hina.
Sarah is a First Place and Readers' Choice Award winner of Clarity contests. She is the debut author of Plum Blossoms in Paris. As Publishers Weekly astutely recognizes (as if there were any question), Sarah's style weaves "a fantastical quality to the dreamer's idyll of a romantic tryst with an artistic Frenchman in Paris." If you haven't read it, do it. I gave you the link and everything.
So I now give Sarah the floor. She wanted to share some thoughts on what kind of people writers are and why opportunities like this one to come together and challenge ourselves are important.
Writers show up.
Quietly and faithfully, without bellyaching or grandstanding, they grab a pen or a laptop, and invite doubt and vulnerability into their lives. Day after day, with an obstinacy that defies financial reward or mercurial praise. And over the years, what begins as a bit of a gamble is honed into nothing less than the assertion of a human will and soul.
So that maybe, on the fortune-kissed days, the words grow so pliant that they follow us into our dreams at night, only to fall like rain from our fingertips at dawn.
These happen to be the days in which I feel the most alive.
Jason Evans makes people want to show up. A Clarity of Night contest is both the wind in a beginner’s sails and a proving ground for veterans. I started blogging because of these contests. They coax art and economy from every writer, and they have had a lasting impact on my writing.
I know “Elemental” will do the same for many of you.
Thank you for being here and for all your incredible stories. And thank you to our talented host for working so hard to make this a trusted, supportive venue.
The Prime Mover
by Sarah Hina
To the fetus, the heartbeat was time, a lullaby, the low and high tides. A nuclear furnace, the lungs of the stars.
“She likes chocolate best. Starts squirming like a fish if I so much as look at it.”
Suspended in her soup, the words didn’t catch. But she knew the voice, disguised as waves, and the voice was God’s.
“So Mama would call you ‘Snickers.’ And my vote’s for ‘Alice.’ What say you, Pumpkin?”
This voice belonged to the Other; it tickled to the bone.
“We ain’t exactly Wonderland, Jimmy.”
“She kicked! Did you feel that, Gracie? She knows her daddy already!”
Her cheek turned toward the warmth. The heartbeat flared.
“All right. You got what you wanted. Now off to work with you.”
“This shift’ll be the death of me.”
“Yeah? Try pregnancy sometime."
An elbow jerked at the door’s hard close.
The heartbeat was a piston, churning with acid. She stuck out her tongue, lapping up the last of the sweetness.
“Fuck, fuck, fuck. Pick. Up. Please, God. Pick up.”
Like a fist around a shell, the walls squeezed down again. Fewer heartbeats separated this cycle from the last.
“Clay. You there? I don't know what to—she’s coming, you hear? He thinks I’m only eight months, but it’s well past nine and—nine, Clay. Do you hear what I’m telling you?”
The eyes opened.
The heartbeat grew faint under the bowel’s whale song.
At the surface, a scar of light glimmered. The child blinked.