Summer, 2009
24-Hour Short Story Contest
1st Place Winner!


She was licking the cotton candy crystals from her fingertips when she felt the first raindrops. She joined the other visitors in racing for shelter as the drops turned into a summer afternoon torrent. She ducked into the nearest red-and-white striped tent, almost running into a woman with caked make-up and large rings on every finger. As the girl started to offer an apologetic smile, the woman looked up. Her wrinkled face registered instant recognition and she screamed, "It's you!"

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


Saving Grace
by Shakirah Bourne, Wotton Christ Church, Barbados

When Grace first saw the woman sitting on the bench by the creek, she made her skin crawl.

Her face resembled that of crushed paper and it was caked with makeup in a futile attempt to hide the damage that time had inflicted upon her features. She was covered in fake jewelry, the most humorous adornment a large, ruby ring on her finger, which she probably wore to hide a wart.

Grace hated to see women who could not age gracefully. When she got older, she would make sure she never looked like that, no matter how much it cost. The truth was that Grace did not want to live longer than forty five years. She hated the repulsive smell of old people; moreover, she couldn't bear to see her looks deteriorate. If she had to watch her taut, smooth skin turn saggy, or her firm, pouty lips transmogrify into barely recognizable lines, she would surely go insane.

The old woman was now arrogantly staring at her so Grace threw her head back, and flipped her long, flowing curls. The woman was obviously jealous of her good, youthful looks. She laughed, hiked her shirt up a bit more over her torso to expose her flat stomach, gave her one last haughty look, and turned away.

Celia would be really upset if she could see Grace now. She was such a prude, and had insisted Grace wear a t-Shirt and knee-length skirt to the fair. She hardly ever allowed Grace to leave home so Grace complied reluctantly about the dreary clothing. However, she ditched Celia when she was buying a ticket for a ride. She had folded the skirt at the waist so that it rested mid-thigh, and tied the T-shirt so that her young curves were pronounced. Grace had already gotten a few admiring looks and whistles.

Grace suddenly got a craving for something sugary, and made her way through the crowd to a cotton candy vendor. She loved the way it melted in her mouth. She was licking the cotton candy crystals from her fingertips when she noticed a rather cute guy watching her outside a red-and-white striped tent. Grace smiled at him, and seductively sucked the cotton candy from her index finger. The guy flushed, looked away and disappeared into the tent. Grace wondered if it was an invitation, and was battling whether she should follow him when she saw the old woman watching her again.

She was a few feet away, standing against a silver car. Now that she was standing, Grace saw that she was obese and had blue spider veins splattered across her legs. Her lipstick had disappeared, making her seem even shabbier, and, to make it worse, she was making obscene gestures at Grace; sticking out her long, wormlike tongue, and running it over her three remaining rotten teeth.

Grace moved away fearfully, and ducked quickly into the tent. Maybe it was time to find Celia, she thought. She realized she was in the House of Mirrors and, under different circumstances, she would have happily explored it. But right now she was focused on locating her friend, and hopefully some protection from the freaky old woman. Grace looked around for another exit and, to her horror, saw the old woman was directly behind her. She had followed her into the tent!

Grace screamed loudly, and ran frantically outside. She dashed blindly into the crowd, her main desire to get far away from the old woman. She hit solidly into a body and looked up to mumble her apologies. To her relief, it was a policeman.

"Sir," Grace cried loudly. "There's an old woman stalking me!"

The policeman held her hands, and looked around. "Where?" he asked, looking around. "What is she wearing?"

"Thank God, you've found her!"

A familiar voice appeared behind her and Grace turned to see Celia. She let out a sigh of relief, hugged her tightly, and began to cry. She had never been so happy to see her.

"Sorry for all of the trouble, Officer," Celia said apologetically, and led the weeping Grace to a bathroom.

"Celia, she was stalking me," Grace managed to say between the sobs. "I think she was one of those psychos and she kept staring at me. God, she was so ugly."

"Dear, dear. You're safe now" Celia said soothingly, while rubbing her shoulders. "Let's get you cleaned up."

Grace thought it was so ironic that the one time she actually got permission to leave home, she was stalked by a crazy old woman. No wonder Celia was so strict. After she cleaned herself up, she wanted to go straight home and curl under her warm and, most importantly, safe bed covers. Grace looked up and let out a bloodcurdling scream.

Celia looked around anxiously. "What's wrong?" she shouted.

"It's her!" Grace cried, pointing at the mirror.

Celia sighed, and took the emergency tranquilizer shot out of her purse. "Don't worry, Grace. This will make her go away."

What Shakirah won:

$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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