Summer, 2010
24-Hour Short Story Contest
1st Place Winner!


The young girl pulled another pair of pants from the pile of laundry. Between the hot black iron and the fireplace, it was stifling in the small kitchen. The only relief she could hope for was a small breeze coming from the window overlooking the distant waves. Her arm started moving methodically once again and, just as she started to fantasize about a forbidden swim, the iron stopped at a bump in the pocket...

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


Distressed Denim
by R.L. Naquin, Lawrence, KS

Through the course of this day, I was drowned, beaten repeatedly against a rock, strangled, and hanged. The only respite I had was spent dangling by my waist, the sea breeze cooling my overwrought skin, caressing and soothing the bruised, abused flesh.

While the wind tossed me about, I sent out a hopeless prayer to the gods that my legs would remain straight and steadfast; to crumple at this stage would invite one last painful indignity. My prayers went unanswered. When I was taken down, I was judged inferior.

I knew what would come next.

She tossed me into a basket with the others. Our limbs tangled together, clinging in desperation. I did my best to burrow to the bottom. There was a chance she would grow weary of her torture and give up before reaching me.

It was dark at first, my security assured at least for awhile. But with each snatch of her greedy hands, a little more light reached me in my place of cover.

Once I was able to see her clearly, I noticed her rhythm had slowed. She drew her wrist across her brow, wiping away a line of moisture. Her eyes shifted to the window. I thought for a moment she might quit. The room was stifling for all of us. If she went for a swim, I might make my escape.

It was not to be. She reached into the pile and grabbed blindly. I tried to avoid her touch, but there was nowhere to hide. She pulled me out by the leg and shook me, her cold impartiality at war with the ferocity with which she snapped me straight. She stretched me out across the table, smoothing my skin with hands that were surprisingly gentle.

She paid no attention to my struggles and whimpers of protestation. She took up her instrument and placed it across my bare flesh. I screamed. The heat was worse than I had imagined. It tore through me. I felt it scorch the back of my leg through the front. She cared nothing for my hysterics and carried on with her detached movements, deaf to me. She ran the cruel device back and forth on my body, moving ever higher in her quest to destroy me.

At the front of my hip, she met resistance. The object in my front pocket gave her pause. I whispered another hopeless prayer that she would reach inside and pull it out if she was must continue her torture. Again, the gods refused my petition. She resumed her mission, sliding her equipment over my pocket, pressing down against the object to flatten it.

It began to melt.

I could feel the hot liquid soaking into my skin. I begged her to stop. I pleaded for mercy, but she refused to hear my voice. It was several moments of searing heat and pressure before she took note of the crimson pool seeping out of my flesh and down my leg.

She cried out in dismay.

Already tender from her earlier ministrations, my skin was unprepared for the harsh scrub brush. It tore at me. Bits of skin flaked away leaving bone-white patches. She sobbed in frustration and poured harsh, burning chemicals over me.

I had tried to warn her about the crayon, but she disregarded my advice - just as she had ignored my pleas. Now we both suffered for it.

Exhausted, her face puffy and wretched with tears, she left me. I thought I might escape then, but I found I could not move. I was thoroughly beaten. In the silence of the warm kitchen, my battered mind and body succumbed to the peaceful emptiness of sleep.

I donít know how long I dozed, but when I awoke, the fire in the hearth had settled into glowing coals, and the shadows had grown long. A considerable length of my body, from hip to knee, had gone stiff with cooled wax.

She stood sopping wet in the doorway wearing nothing but her shift. Her eyes glowed in the low light, and her damp hair clung to her face and bare shoulders. Sea water gathered in a puddle at her feet. In her hand she brandished a pair of sewing shears. They flashed with light from the dying fire, their sharp tips dripping with ominous intent.

She attacked me before I had time to react. The scissors sliced through me. She was quick about her work, reducing me to a gibbering pile of scraps within moments. I was dismembered as neatly as a rabbit destined for the stew pot.

Those parts of me she deemed ruined were tossed behind the house.


From the rubbish pile, I can see the sea. Itís peaceful. I know eventually I will be set ablaze, but for now, I can await my death in comfort, unthreatened. The rest of me is in another basket.

I am a stack of neat squares piled on top of myself to await her next devious scheme. I cannot fathom what else she might have in store.

Sheís humming to herself, the earlier demonic frenzy forgotten. She opens the box beside her and removes a spool of thread. The needle in her hand glints in the light of the rebuilt fire.

Her cool hands lift me out of the basket. She spreads me out across the injured knee of another of her victims. As the dull needle pierces my skin, I try not to scream.

I know I will never be free.

What R.L. 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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