Surrounded by a pile of scrunched up paper, Michael puts down his pen,
leans back on his chair and rub his temples. For two laborious hours he has been attempting to get a plot together. He takes a moment to dwell on the last few years. It was all supposed to be so
easy. Marry the love of his love from University, get married, buy a house, have as many children as physically possible and patiently work for somebody else until his ultimate dream of becoming a
writer came to be a reality. It was all a perfect road map and was going wonderfully, until the very last part. Nobody, not even a newspaper would publish any of his work. Feeling extremely sorry
for himself he begins wallowing. Scooping up the various attempts sprawled over the floor, he deposits them into the recycling bin. Might as well make some use of his work.
Treading slowly down the stairs he sees his beautiful wife in their newly decorated kitchen. Leaning over their twelve year old son Oliver helping him with his homework, they looked the perfect picture for any magazine. Madison on the other hand was making quite an ordeal out of her sliced strawberry and banana pieces and had evidently put them everywhere except for her mouth. Suzie quickly spotted the impending disaster of Madison throwing her bowl and swiftly went to the rescue. Michael’s mood soon lifted as he counted his blessings for their beautiful home and family. Suzie turns when she hears Michael at the bottom of the stairs and smiles lovingly. In return he goes to her, scoops her up into his arms and kisses her lightly on the forehead.
“Any luck sweetheart?” Suzie says encouragingly. Michael musters a smile “Not today I’m afraid, but I’m sure it will pick up.” Suzie loves Michael’s optimism, although she’s more than aware that it’s not how he really feels all of the time. She loves him even more for that.
“One day you’ll get your big break, promise!” Kissing each other full on the lips they turn their attention back to the children before things got any messier.
The next morning was business as usual whilst getting ready for work. Taking it in turns to feed Maddy, Suzie and Michael manage to feed themselves, tidy up and keep each other looking respectable enough to get to work without changing. Whilst Michael packs away the last of the cereal boxes, Suzie turns the volume up on the radio just as they’re introducing the writing competition on the radio. Michael’s ears prick up immediately and he begins to listen intently to all of the instructions bellowed over the soundwaves. His heart starts to race. In his mind after each instruction he’s responding with a ‘yes’ on all counts. That is until, they read out the last and final condition; ‘13 and under’. He unintentionally slams the cupboard door shut and startles everybody, himself included. Suzie looks over to him with a raised eyebrow. “Everything ok?” she says. Feeling rather embarrassed, Michael walks over to her and says “Absolutely fine, sorry for the fright”. In the same gesture, he kisses her on the cheek, and proceeds to Maddy and Oli to do the same. Saying his farewells, he leaves Suzie in charge of the final hurdle with getting them to school and nursery and makes his way to work.
For the entire day, Michael couldn’t stop thinking about the writing competition. Why had he never thought of that before? He keeps searching online for any adult writing competitions but they’re all closed, or don’t open for another six months. Feeling even more frustrated than he did yesterday, he has a niggling thought in the back of his mind. How could he be so aweless. That evening, he returns to his study and pulls out a range of short stories he’d written in the past. Going through them, he realises how much he enjoyed writing every single one. Picking out a couple of the best ones, he stacks them neatly together away from the rest.
After a few nights of restless sleep, Michael feels exhausted. It’s Saturday morning, he’s sitting at his desk with the laptop open in front of him. The screen is showing a submit button, and he is currently in battle with his moral fibres about whether he should click it. With one sharp intake of breath, he clicks the submit button timidly. Holding his breath for just a few seconds in case that had any detrimental affect on his submission, he finally let’s the air rush out all at once. He reads what he’s just done.
“Your story has now been submitted to the 500 Words young writers competition. Thank you Oliver Welling.”
A few weeks later, Michael was feeling jittery as he was trying to keep himself busy in the kitchen. Suzie asks
“I was thinking about arranging a fun family day out tomorrow, what do you think?” Michael for a moment doesn’t answer as he seems to be mesmerised by the cereal in the cupboard. “Mikey?” Suzie repeats. “Hmm?” says Michael. Suzie with a hint of frustration repeats herself which, brings Michael straight back to full attention.
“Yes, great idea. What do you feel like doing?” His eyes flit back to the radio because they’re introducing the writing competition. Suzie begins to respond but is quickly shushed when Michael holds his hand up and stares intently into the radio. Listening more carefully to the words coming out over the speaker, she scrutinises the look on Michael’s face. Realising they’re talking about the writing competition that has been advertised fervently, she instantly makes the connection.
“You didnt!!!” She exclaims. “I did” Michael responds, with a cheeky grin.
“But.... how?” Suzie asks incredulously. Just then they’re interrupted with loud voices from the radio...
“And the winner of the Young Writers 500 Word competition is......” Both of them stare at each other in trepidation. “Oliver Welling!” They both look astonished.
© Copyright 2016 Emily Hollis. All rights reserved.