Winter, 2005
24-Hour Short Story Contest

1st Place Winner!



She screamed, "No! Did you hear me?! I said no!!"

She slapped him hard but he had already catapulted out of reality...

Banana Stickers
by Coletta Bly, Hartford, SD

M. G. (Milford) Talbridge was a self-made man who amassed a fortune
exercising honesty, wisdom, and common sense in numerous business
ventures. He provided well for his wife, his in-laws, his church, and a
variety of charitable organizations, but was never allowed any personal
pleasures. In his twenty-nine-year marriage to Agnella, Milford had
forsaken friendships, recreations, and even minimal delights.

The business of making money was one area of his life which Agnella didn't
direct, only to demand more. She granted Milford the privilege of
providing well for her, and somehow instilled the idea that his happiness
was a by-product of her personal satisfaction and that she was being
generous in allowing him in on the deal.

Milford avoided doing business with people who were impressed with their
own entitlement, but he couldn't avoid his wife. Religion aside, he had
taken a vow when they married, and he was a man of his word. Growing more
unhappy as the years went by, Milford was resigned to dying a slow death
long before his body wore out.

Agnella used every tool for controlling other human beings, and she used
them with impunity. Milford often fantasized about Agnella getting her
just desserts, but he had little chance to seriously think about it. At
home, she was constantly invading his thoughts with her criticisms and
demands, and at the office, he had to dedicate his every waking hour to
making more money for her to spend.

Their domestic staff hoped Milford would grow some backbone, rise up one
morning and kick his wife's "broom-riding ass" out the door. Between those
hopes, they made bets on what despicable demand she would make next.
Working for Agnella Talbridge had become a status symbol for hired help.
Anyone who survived it six months had a built in recommendation when
applying for a better job.

Agnella either destroyed everything meaningful to Milford or made his life
hell for giving thought to anything of his choice, but he discovered the
perfect solution. Late one night, when his nemesis was asleep, Milford
sneaked down to the kitchen for a snack and made a discovery that was to
give him a secret pleasure he could hold onto. A happy little creature was
smiling from the top banana in a fruit bowl. The sticker was of a raccoon
dressed in colorful winter wear, skiing down a slope, advertising the
Winter Olympics.

Milford was enchanted with the find. It reminded him of the special prizes
he got in cereal boxes as a boy, and he wanted to keep it. He peeled the
sticker off, placed it on a square of waxed paper, and gazed at it while
eating the banana. Then he wrote a note to the housekeeper's assistant,
asking her to watch for other such stickers in her shopping, but warned
that she not tell his wife. Staff members were always happy to make
Milford's life more pleasant, because it meant keeping it from his wife,
and they would have stood in line for that privilege.

Over the course of that season, Milford collected an array of Winter
Olympic banana stickers, showing little wildlife critters participating in
sports. He was even given to stopping at grocery stores on his way home
from the office, when he dared, and buying bananas that had a sticker of
his choice. Though he had doubles of some designs, which he kept on
separate sheets, he hadn't been able to find one of every design by the
time the series ended. His disappointment didn't destroy the pleasure he
had in viewing his precious collection, however.

Because no other place was safe from Agnella's scrutiny, Milford kept the
notebook in the cleaning closet. On one occasion, however, she caught him
studying his banana stickers in the kitchen in the middle of the night,
and had nearly raised the dead in carrying on about being married to a
misfit who would never have made it in life without her, how his pathetic
banana sticker collection was proof of his immaturity, and how she should
have him committed. She demanded that he destroy the stickers then and

Milford tore out the pages of doubles, crumpled them, threw them in the
garbage, and then put the notebook back in the cleaning closet. Agnella,
impressed with her power in making him destroy something meaningful to
him, didn't perceive there being more pages in the book.

As the years passed, Milford secretly added other designs to his
collection, but none so enchanted him as the Olympic series. It was at a
White Elephant Auction for charity, where wealthy people were invited to
bid and buy each others "junk," that Milford discovered a bigger
collection. It included some of the Olympic series he was missing.

Like a vulture on steroids, Agnella took note of his interest and demanded
that he put it out of mind. After the auction started, attendees were
having a good time outbidding each other on bizarre items none of them
needed. When the collection of banana stickers went on the block, Milford
made the opening bid of fifty dollars.

Agnella screamed, "No! Did you hear me? I said no!!"

People stared at them and laughed, but someone else raised the bid to a
hundred dollars.

To Milford, it was a defining point. There was more at stake than banana
stickers. "A thousand, he yelled."

Already having the attention of security guards, Agnella slapped Milford
hard, but he had already catapulted out of reality, and he wasn't going

It was more than Agnella could take. Totally out of control, she began
screaming and hitting at him. When the security guards came to his rescue,
she kicked and tore at them with her fingernails. It took three of them to
handcuff her and carry her out.

When the auction ended, a smiling Milford Talbridge wrote a check for a
thousand dollars, and left with his treasure.


The 1st place winner received:

$300 Cash Prize
Publication of winning story on the WritersWeekly.com website
1 - Freelance Income Kit Includes:
-- 1-year subscription to the Write Markets Report
-- How to Write, Publish and $ell Ebooks
-- How to Publish a Profitable Emag
-- How to Be a Syndicated Newspaper Columnist Special (includes the book;
database of 6000+ newspapers; and database of 100+ syndicates)

Contest guidelines are HERE.

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