Postcard Story Contest
The Postcard Story Contest is an annual competition for unpublished short prose (up to 250 words) written by Nova Scotia residents. Judged by WFNS board members and staff, submissions may be on any theme and in any prose genre, including micro-fiction, short creative non-fiction, and prose poetry. The winning writers receive cash prizes and have their stories published in the WFNS newsletter, Subtext, and on the WFNs website.
1st: donalee Moulton, “The woman sitting beside me” | 2nd: Leanne Schneider, “Roots and Ropes” | 3rd: Charles “Gus” Doiron, “The Wolfman” | Finalists: Rhian Irene Calcott, Fiona Chin-Yee, Barbara Darby, Joanne Gallant, Rose Poirier, Jennifer Reichow, Syr Ruus | Judges: Alison DeLory and Jessica Scott Kerrin
The woman sitting beside me
The woman sitting beside me in the theatre — seventh row, sixth seat — leans in, smiles conspiratorially as if we have shared a singular connection. “Is it almost over?” she asks, her body frail, sered, slightly antiseptic. She is bored or making polite intermission conversation. She glimpses my husband, nods mannerly, one stranger to another. “It’s only act one,” I whisper.
Her shoulders fall — gratitude, acceptance, resolve perhaps. In profile she reminds me of my mother, grateful for a night out but wanting to be home with her tea and her dog, content to know family is only a phone call away.
The curtain is about to rise. Act two will take us in unexpected directions. I glance at the stranger next to me in G6 eyes intent on the stage, upright, a slight fidget. She feels my gaze, rests her hand on mine, fleeting. I spy hearing aids, wonder if they’re working or if this quiet restlessness is simply boredom borne of a desire to be elsewhere or merely acceptance of more of the same. I offer her a mint, unwrinkle it for her. She looks at me, at the mint. “Do you like the play?” she asks. Memories of my mother return. This would be her way of saying the theatre sucks, when can we go home.
The delicate woman beside me returns to her program. I wonder if this woman would have liked my mother. Would have liked the woman she once was.
Roots and Ropes
My roots in this town go as deep as the roots of the tree she hung herself from. The tree in the cemetery, that the full moon shines on and the locals use as a landmark. The tree that is so old it casts the longest shadow at dusk. If we cut it down, I wonder how many rings would be inside.
My roots in this town are as long and strong as the ropes they used to rip his body apart. After they tied his limbs to the chrome bumpers of two trucks and drove in opposite directions. Late at night, at the end of a dirt road the locals use as a point of direction. Found his head in another County.
My roots in this town go as deep as the ocean where the lobster pots are cut from their ropes and left to sink to the bottom. My roots, as taut as the ropes securing fishing boats to the wharves and set on fire because they belong to the wrong nation. The First Nation, whose roots in this land, go deeper than mine. Whose Mi’kmaq words the locals use as names for villages.
My roots and ropes are intertwined, securing me to the ground, keeping me from floating away. They are strangling me, choking me, tangling me, burning me, tying me to a place I love. A place that it hurts to love because of the roots and ropes.
Charles “Gus” Doiron
The bulbs on his mirror are so bright they are almost audible. He powders and primps, pastes and glues. Proper accents are key for the needed effect. The lighting in here is unforgiving, but it will be easier when he’s performing.
First one ear, then the other. He can already hear better. The claws hurt more coming off than going on. As his teeth set he notices a drooped eyebrow. It will have to do.
He can hear people outside. Murmurs or screams, it all sounds the same.
On the surface he is in chaos, writhing and contorting as the transformation takes place. On the inside he is calm. This room joins the conscious and subconscious. Neither knows it exists.
A smell, not entirely unpleasant, wafts in. He has soiled himself again.
All part of the act.
There is a knock on the door and it opens. Mayhem.
“Showtime,” she whispers before gently closing it back.
He looks in the mirror one last time and grins. His skin is stretched and peeling but will look fine covered in blood and away from these lights.
A small part of him is afraid and he has to remind himself he is the reason everyone came. Lon Chaney would be proud.
He gets up, walks to the door, and takes a deep breath. He looks up in the direction of the moon if he were outside and howls. He fixes his eyebrow before leaving.
He is The Wolfman.