Deadline is still Sunday at 6pm
NAME: Joyce Baggerly AGE: 71 WRITER’S CITY: Plantation FL FICTION TYPE: Non-Fiction TITLE: AT THE TOP OF A POLE My mother hanging on to the top of a telephone pole is one of my earliest memories of South Florida. It lingers in my mind some sixty years later. Soon after we moved here from up north, a hurricane blew through. Our father was away on business, so it was just my mother, my two younger sisters and me. We were lucky to have long-time Florida residents as neighbors, so we did whatever they told us to do to prepare. We made it through the storm with little damage, but, as usual, we lost power, telephone, etc. The power came back on in a day or two, but the telephone didn’t. Over the next week, everyone else on our street got their telephone service back, but ours was still out. Using a neighbor’s phone, we’d call every day, only to be told to be patient. Finally, after about ten days, I watched with amazement as my short, slim mother (I was only eleven, but already taller) shinnied up the telephone pole. Wrapping one arm around the pole in a kind of “death hug,” she used her free hand to reconnect the wires into the main line. From her perch she sent me back into the house to make sure the telephone worked before she came back to earth. One try and she managed to get it connected. No one from the telephone company ever came. That definitely “low-tech” repair job was accomplished many years before women would be seen wearing hard hats and working on telephone lines. My mother’s climb provided a telephone that still worked when she moved out of the house thirty years and many hurricanes later.
NAME: Hal Howland AGE: 61 WRITER’S CITY: Sugarloaf Key FL FICTION TYPE: Non-Fiction TITLE: Newcomer in Paradox (excerpt) I live on Sugarloaf Key, from Key West a short commute for a Yankee. I like Sugarloaf for its spaciousness and quiet, and for the stars. The first time I saw the night sky here, I actually cried. But I work in Key West, and, let’s face it, Key West is where it’s at. To all those Middle and Upper Keys folks who complain about that perception, I could say, Does New York apologize to Buffalo? Instead, I offer these words once used to soften the blow of avant-garde music: Don’t lament what isn’t there; cherish what is. You walk through Old Town and at every corner are astonished anew at minute variations on a glorious theme. The old Conch cottages hide behind tiny throbbing jungles of palm and banana, poinciana and frangipani, bougainvillea and elephant’s ear, fat twisting vines and fallen seed pods kissing the feet of a thousand colorful varieties of low plants blown in from Jamaica or outer space. The profuse gardens that explode behind the embarrassing mansions next door possess a casual Southern grace as stunning as the natty obsessions of a British lord. And of course the riotous celebration blooms all year. You walk in that fertile scent and nuzzle the overhanging blossoms and listen for the crystal tinkling of small fountains. You feel the Japanese density of it all, exquisite wood houses nearly touching one another, heat-slowed neighbors on porches amid hushed conversations and the muffled cries of love. You walk in a verdant breeze that is like a sleepy lover’s breath on your neck. In Key West an unaccompanied woman will say hello to you on a quiet street at three in the morning. She might blush, she might wish you were another woman, or both. Don’t come here.
NAME: Miles Black AGE: 38 WRITER’S CITY: Miami FL FICTION TYPE: Fiction TITLE: Tree of Lives The hospital bed was a rental. They put it in the living room, facing into the backyard. Her mind may have slipped elsewhere, but her gaze kept up with the day. Alex sat next to her in a chair and held his mother’s hand. From that position they watched the Avocado season start to finish, until one last light green fruit dangled amongst the dark green leaves. “When we bought this house you were in second grade. That tree came from a seed you sprouted in a paper cup.” She squeezed his hand. The skin was loose and soft, the knuckles worn like river stones. He leaned his head into her. “Actually Mom, the Avocado tree was here. We planted the Kerry Mango. The one over there. For Father’s Day.” “I know.” At first her dementia came in waves. Lately, lucidity was the visitor. “Remember the treehouse dad built for me?” Alex asked. “Hurricane Andrew plucked it out of the branches and dropped it in the neighbor’s pool. They came over yelling to get it out and Dad pretended he didn’t speak English.” “Andrew. I don’t know.” A few thick nails had remained and since been absorbed by the growing tree. The flesh where branches ripped was now scarred with bark of a different grit. The treehouse had worn many hats: castle, cave, spaceship, and submarine. Only once was Alex able to get his Mother up the ladder. He served Yoo-Hoo. “I don’t know either, Mom.” The old dog on the rug raised her head. Two squirrels were circling the tree trunk, spiraling upward until one blew through the canopy and onto the power line. The remaining squirrel mounted the last Avocado. Alex watched the fruit bob but not break as the squirrel gnawed away a cavity of gold meat, then disappeared.
NAME: Lisette Alonso AGE: 36 WRITER’S CITY: Hialeah FL FICTION TYPE: Non-Fiction TITLE: A Day at the Beach Before judgment and resentment turned her edges from Technicolor to sepia, she was just our mother - so beautiful it stung. And on warm Saturdays she would rise predawn to flour and deep fry dozens of chicken legs, she would then layer between oil soaked paper towels to bring to the beach for our lunch. We would arrive at Crandon Park before the humidity had settled on it like a shroud. My sister and I with our Barbie dolls tucked in plastic buckets. The sand still cool to our bare feet, the early morning sand-dozer creeping along the shore line, leaving tire tread imprints for us to kick at. We spent all day there, the hours marked by the progress of the sun on our bare skin, by the rising and receding tides, by the blisters that bloomed on our shoulders. Later at night, sleeping on our stomachs to avoid the eye watering sting of our cotton sheets against our seared skin, we would sway to and fro, as if still being buffeted by the waves. Glad for the day, for the tired ride home listening to Lionel Richie on the Camaro’s crackling radio, looking forward to the day we would be able to peel the dead dry skin from each other’s backs like the silky remains of a person we had once been but left behind. This was when driving without a seat belt heading northbound on 95 was the worst we could accuse her of.
NAME: Arnold Slotkin AGE: 83 WRITER’S CITY: Hollywood FL FICTION TYPE: Fiction TITLE: A Birthday She smiled at the mirror. “Not too bad for an old bag.” She breakfasted hurriedly, It was her birthday and she was waiting, impatiently, for a present to arrive. He had always remembered, even before they were married ever so many years ago. The day dragged on. It wasn’t until two in the afternoon that the doorbell rang. She hurried to answer it, signed for the package and took it to her vanity table. It was small but she was certain that it would be beautiful. She unwrapped it carefully. Earrings! The most beautiful earrings she could ever remember seeing. She mentally reviewed her clothes trying to figure out which of them would best set them off at that evening’s dinner. She dressed slowly. Dinner would be, as it always was, at the restaurant where he had proposed to her. The table in the corner had been reserved for months. She rearranged her hair to better show off the earrings. Then she waited patiently for the taxi. Now that the moment had arrived she wanted to savor it. There was no longer any reason for haste. Dinner had been just as she imagined it; the same menu that they had enjoyed fifty-three years ago. The old maitre’ de had retired but Mio was, if anything, an improvement. When she returned home she fell into a deep, dreamless sleep. The credit card bill arrived two weeks later. She glanced at the total and then subtracted the cost of the earrings and the dinner. She made out her check for the reduced total. She opened the checkbook belonging to the trust for her benefit under her husband’s will. She wrote a check for the balance and returned the book to the bottom draw of the desk. She wouldn’t need it for another year.
All the videos are now up! Remember the video voting deadline is now this Sunday at 6pm!
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Readers Choice! Vote now if you want Tobi Ash, 46, Miami Beach, “Beautiful in Florida” to win a Readers Choice Award!
Readers Choice! Vote now if you want Meri-Jane Rochelson, Miami, “Birthday Call” to win a Readers Choice Award!
Readers Choice! Vote now if you want Julia Mason, 31, Lake Worth, “Why We’re Here” to win a Readers Choice Award!
Readers Choice! Vote now if you want Carla Pugh, 59, Miami, “Red Road” to win a Readers Choice Award!
Readers Choice! Vote now if you want Miriam Rosen, 67, Miami, “6pm, Miami” to win a Readers Choice Award!