Monday, September 5, 2011

Blog Challenge

As I've mentioned, I'm participating in Rachael Harrie's blog campaign and the first challenge has arrived:
Write a short story/flash fiction story in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, including a poem. Begin the story with the words, “The door swung open” These four words will be included in the word count.

If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional), use the same beginning words and end with the words: "the door swung shut." (also included in the word count)

For those who want an even greater challenge, make your story 200 words EXACTLY!

For the record, my story is 186 words, but it does begin and end with the "challenge words."  You can go here to read all the entries.

So here goes:
                            Happy Birthday Leo

The door swung open.


Leo blinked and looked at the crowd pressing around him. “Excuse me,” he said.

Silence descended on the guests like winter as he exited the room. A soft click sounded as the bathroom door shut. Bright confetti fell from Joyce’s hand. The small child that had been trying to pop balloons moments before, clung to her leg pulling on her red sweater.

“Where’s Grandpa?”

Stu stepped to Joyce’s side wrapping his arm around her.

“Where’s Grandpa? The small voice asked again.

“Grandpa’s gone,” she said as much for the child’s sake as her own.

Stu’s voice raked the silence. “Thanks for coming everyone. “You all mean a great deal to Leo. He’ll be back shortly. Until then, why don’t we start in on this cake?”

Leo washed his hands and dried them. Then he washed them again and dried them once more.

He opened the door and looked for a familiar face. The woman in red looked pleasant. Maybe he would talk to her. But first, he would wash his hands. He turned to the sink as the door swung shut.


  1. Oh, this is heartbreaking! You can feel the tension, the sadness, and the emptiness of Alzheimer's. Very well done.

    Jill, thank you for stopping by my blog and leaving the lovely comment. We have a lot in common. I look forward to reading more of your posts. I don't have my 200 words done yet, but I'll get it posted by Friday. Blessings!

    The Write Soil

  2. Oh, goodness. I agree with Dawn that this is very well done!

  3. That's funny--don't we all have moments when we really just want to find an excuse to stay away from the crowd a little longer? Great story. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Such a heart wrenching and well written scene. Nicely done.

  5. Interesting, I was a little confused, but after reading everyone's posts, I get it.

  6. Great job. I love that this is different and you did it so well. :)

  7. Nice job. I agree that it's sad but I also agree that we've all ad times when we didn't want to be surprised. Mine is #72

  8. Like it very much.... so different... thanks. I am number six.

  9. What a great story. I love your subtlety. I had to read it twice to catch everything. Good job!

  10. As the daughter of parents who both deal/dealt with Alzheimer's, I "got" this right away. So well-written and poignant. It makes me sad. As a writer, you did a wonderful job in developing emotion in the reader. Way to go, girlfriend!

  11. I was confused too until I read the comments :)

  12. so sad. so real. i dont want to grow up.
    good job!

  13. Thanks for all your kind words. It's interesting, anyone that has dealt with Alzheimer's gets it right away. I'm hoping it takes most people awhile.

  14. Wow, that was really sad. Lovely use of the red sweater to help the reader make the connection between Leo's daughter and the woman who "looked pleasant."

  15. Like a few of the others, I was a little confused until I read the comments, but then, like you say, I've never dealt with Alzheimer's either. I did get the sad undertones of the story, and especially the small child's sadness, too. Well captured!

  16. This story is so good! If it was a book I would buy it and read the whole thing!;)

  17. Just wanted to add, ta dum! I've given you an award, so stop on by my blog to nab it!

  18. Great job, and guess what? Your moving to round two!!! Congrats :D

  19. This is excellent!

    Akso, you've been tagged:

  20. Really great piece, and sad. Very well written. Great job!

  21. sad and beautifully written!

  22. First...HELLO!! *waves* I'm a fellow Campaigner and I've been trying to get around to visit and follow everyone, but, well, there's a lot of us, so it's slow going. But I'm here now, so, hi! :)

    Second, I loved this piece. Very subtle and sad and lovely.

    I look forward to stopping by here again soon.

  23. I stopped back tell you...

    *wait for it*

    it was VERY difficult to narrow down to ONLY TWO...

    *chews nails* (srsly, so hard to choose)


    and YOU"RE MOVING ON!!!! :D

  24. I work with alzheimers; dementia and frontal lobe damaged clients. So sad...
    Great description!

  25. Very touching entry! Congrats on moving on to the next stage in the challenge!

  26. Wow! I can see my husband's grandaddy in this man. Such a touching, sad piece. It's nice to see the story from Leo's POV.