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Fall, 2002
24-Hour Short Story Contest
2nd Place Winner!

TOPIC OF THIS CONTEST WAS:
"Double, double, toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble." That was how witches did it, according to Shakespeare. But now she was investigating modern witchcraft and had found a woman who agreed to take her to a secret meeting of a real coven nearby. "This should be a hoot!" she whispered to herself. "What to wear, what to wear?"



MAX'S MOXIE
By Rose Cruz Robinson , Melbourne, FL

"Double, double, toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble."

That was how witches did it, according to Shakespeare. But now she was investigating modern witchcraft and had found a woman who agreed to take her to a secret meeting of a real coven nearby.

"This should be a hoot!" she whispered to herself. "What to wear, what to wear?"

She drew closer to the mirror and frowned. Black eyes, bloodshot from nights of sleeplessness, stared back at her. She sighed. "I'll never learn. Men always leave me when they find out."

He left a week ago, Max, her boyfriend of two years, he with the charm and the cocky, one-toothless grin. He would curl his left upper lip, just like Elvis did and his pink tongue would peek through the black gap where his left canine used to be. He lost that tooth four years ago whilst evading pursuit from a girlfriend's irate husband. He jumped from the bedroom window, hitting the ground with his face. For a man gifted with great vanity, it was admirable that he was never conscious about the missing tooth, which she found rather endearing. He also didn't have dental insurance.

"Now he's gone, poor pet."

She caught him fondling the waitress at the bar where he played darts. She didn't say a word; her look said it all. Max always said she looked at people "kind of creepy sometimes." He was scared. He sent her flowers, he begged for forgiveness and she never said a word. And one evening he came home early and found her bent over the bathtub wiping up green vomit. His scared eyes said it all and he never said a word. Next morning he was gone.

That was when she got the dog, a beagle.

"Dogs are so much better. They love you unconditionally, they don't answer back and they never cheat," she told her neighbor.

"Men!" She peered at the mirror. She must get rid of the eye bags. "Ah, what to wear? Maybe that little chartreuse thing."

Gemma would be here any minute to take her to the coven. From the start Gemma had never made a secret of her religion, Wicca. She was a pudgy girl who wore gray skirts that smelled slightly of incense. And when she talked, which was mostly about her religion, her glasses fell halfway down her nose. She was too earnest.

"Witchery is a dying craft," she would say, pushing her glasses up her nose. "People think we go around casting wicked spells and throwing cat's eyes into our big black cauldrons."

"Well, what exactly do you do?"

"We have meetings and we pray."

"Pray for what?"

"We only desire world harmony. We want a paradise where people can live and work together without war, without terrorism. This is a cruel world."

"You don't turn your enemies into toads?"

"Heavens, no! I'm not Circe."

"Circe turned men into swine. I prefer Merlin. He's wise and just."

"Merlin is a myth perpetuated by medieval pagans. Wicca is about nature."

"Isn't that a little boring? After all, what's the point in being a witch if you can't get even with people who piss you off?"

"My religion is not about revenge and power. We do charity work. We have husbands and kids. We work for a living. We have mortgages and HMO. There are housewives and career women in my group. We are normal people."

As she listened to Gemma, she realized that human nature would never change. Whether it was God or Satan or Mother Nature, it had always been human nature to search for a higher, more powerful spirit, the Perfect Being to justify his own imperfections. It was so old and it was getting to be a bore. And that was the reason why she convinced Gemma to take her to the secret coven tonight. She hoped it would be interesting.

Scratching noises from the door broke into her reverie. She rose and turned the knob. Outside the door, the beagle sat with his paws in front of him.

"Oh, we're begging, aren't we, my sweet pooch?"

She bent to pat him and the dog whimpered. "Oh, come now. It can't be all that bad. I feed you, bathe you and brush your hair. You've only been here a week and already you're spoiled rotten."

The dog snarled and curled his muzzle. She saw his pink tongue peek through the black gap where his left canine used to be. Her eyes misted over as she looked at him. Then her face broke into a gentle smile and slowly, she cackled.

"All right, Max, we're going. We wouldn't want to be late for the ladies, would we?"


What Rose won:

$250 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)


ENTER THE NEXT 24-HOUR SHORT STORY CONTEST HERE!
Contest guidelines are HERE.

 


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