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Winter, 2008
24-Hour Short Story Contest
3rd Place Winner!

TOPIC OF THIS CONTEST WAS:

She always kept the object safe and close to her. Mama made her repeat the promise over and over again during those last days. "I will never show it to a living soul. I will never show it to a living soul."

She cried about Mama less now, not as much as she had before. She was missing Mama now as she did each night when she removed her scuffed shoes. She then carefully peeled the gray sock off her foot, and waited for the familiar object to fall out. Nothing happened. Panicked, she quickly turned her sock inside-out. It was gone.

Entries must touch on the topic in some way to qualify.


Mama's Girl
By Anna Collins, Fort Lauderdale, FL

She always kept the object safe and close to her. Mama made her repeat the promise over and over again during those last days when the cancer ate at her shrinking body. "I will never show it to a living soul. I will never show it to a living soul." "For the love of St. Repetition," Janelle thought, "Give it a rest!" Then she'd immediately feel guilty.

She cried about Mama less now. Janelle was missing Mama now as she did each night when she removed her well-worn, buckskin cowboy boots. She then carefully peeled the pink sock off her foot, and waited for the familiar object to fall out. Nothing happened. Panicked, she quickly turned her sock inside-out. It was gone. No wait - here it was! Stuck in the toe. She shook the sock.

The key to the safe made a little clink as it hit the hardwood floor of her bedroom. That stupid key was the bane of her existence. And having to say "I will never show it to a living soul" about a hundred times in a row, had nearly driven her nuts. Who the hell would want to show it to anyone anyway? "Look...here's the key to the safe where I'm keeping $375,000 dollars in unmarked hundred-dollar bills that my Mama found at a bank robbery. Wanna take a peek?"

Mama never had that much money at once in her whole life and since she knew she wouldn't be around to enjoy it, she wanted to make sure Janelle didn't lose the key. Lose it! That's what she'd said. "Now don't go losing that key, Janelle. And don't feel bad 'bout that money neither. Finder's keepers, losers...scamming bankers that take all our money and use it to make more money...none that we see any of, thank you very much. Two-and-a-half percent interest on a savings account...while they're all out driving fancy cars. Besides, it's insured."

Keeping the key in her sock had become Janelle's obsession. It got so she had to have the damn key in her sock or she'd start to panic...get "the sweats" as she called them. And how crazy was it to have a safe with a key anyway?

Mama didn't want to keep all that loot unguarded in the house. And of course she couldn't put it in the bank. So she'd had a locksmith rig grandpa's old safe with a lock and key. Janelle had asked her why she didn't just get a regular safe with a combination. "What if I forget the combination?" Mama had asked.

"Write it down," Janelle had answered.

"What if I lose the paper or forget where I put it?" Mama shot back. Mama had a way of wearing you down.

"Do what you want," Janelle finally answered. Mama always did just that.

It was a story right out of Ripley's. Mama had been going to the bank, like she always did on Mondays, to deposit the checks from the boarders who occupied the back three rooms of her old farmhouse. Only this particular Monday when she'd arrived at the bank, just as she was stepping out of the old blue Ford, Mama heard a tremendous ruckus coming from the front doors of the bank. And then...gunshots.

A man in a rubber Al Gore mask came quickly backing out of the front doors, screaming he'd shoot the next dumb bastard who tried to stop him. He was clutching four small burlap bags in one hand, in which Mama presumed was cash, while the other hand held his gun.

Then a police siren pierced the air and Mama watched as a squad car, its top light twirling faster that a coffee-crazed dervish, whipped into the parking lot. "Hold it right there!" yelled one of the cops, jumping from the carnival-like vehicle.

But Al Gore didn't hold it right there. Instead he dove for the bushes, and when he did, two of the bags he had been holding fell underneath the car that was right next to Mama's. Tumbled right under the driver's seat door, just as nice as can be. One right next to the other.

Well those cops just bolted after Al Gore like all get-out. Next thing you know, there were more gunshots, and a few minutes later, one of the cops, looking more than a bit sweaty, came out of the bushes and says into his walkie-talkie, "Robbery at Tenth and Main. Officer down, suspect dead. Request backup and ambulance."

Then, just as fast as you can say never trouble trouble till trouble troubles you, Mama was looking at three more squad cars and an ambulance that all came zooming into the parking lot in what seemed to be about one minute after that walkie-talkie call.

The new cops on the scene all got busy getting the people who were in the bank, out, and telling them they ought to wait on the benches in front of the bank until the paramedics arrived, to make sure everybody was okay to go home.

Nobody noticed Mama. Nobody notices old ladies. But Mama noticed them two bags were still under the car. So she just stooped down, scooped them up in her apron, quietly got into the old Ford and backed the car straight out of the lot and into the street. Nobody said a word.

It had been almost two years since the robbery and since Mama passed. Mama told Janelle she had to wait that long before spending the money...so things would be good and cooled off. The two years were up next week.

Janelle already knew the first things she would buy. One would be a new pair of cream-colored ostrich cowboy boots, the real expensive kind that they hand-made in Texas. The other thing...she'd probably have to look for it on eBay...would be one of those round political pins that said, "Don't Blame Me, I Voted for Gore."


What Anna won:

$200 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)

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