A few weeks ago I participated in a 24-hour short story contest hosted by Writers Weekly. I wrote a post about my experience in the contest. Thank you to everyone who expressed interest in reading my story. I wanted to wait until they announced the winners before posting my story. Well, the results are in and I didn’t win, but I can still say I had fun writing my story and I’d probably participate in future contests. Scroll down to read my contest entry. You can also read the winning stories on the Writers Weekly website. Enjoy!
“Meet me halfway.”
She’d heard that her whole life. She was no math major, but she knew
enough to know that “halfway” meant that each party contributed 50%.
But somehow his halfway always seemed to require her to give 80% or
It’d been a while since they’d last spoke but she recognized the voice
on the other end immediately.
“Hey Kiddo,” the familiar greeting.
“How’s Cali?,” she’d asked.
The same old small-talk. The first 5 minutes always felt like they
were reading from an old script.
“Pretty good. Actually I’d planned to come out to New York to see you.
I really want to see you this year.” There was an earnest sincerity in
his voice. She felt a flutter of hope that she’d thought she’d finally
learned to suppress after all these years.
“That’d be great,” she said. “When can you come?”
“Well that’s the thing. Money’s a little tight. But I really do want
to see you. Think you could meet me halfway? I’ll be in Vegas next
month and I can take care of hotel accommodations for both of us.”
She was no geography major, but she was pretty sure that the halfway
point between California and New York was not Las Vegas. But she’d
learned to accept that his halfway was never in the middle. “OK. I
could use a weekend away and Vegas might be fun.”
The weekend actually had been going well. After all this time, he
still knew how to make her laugh. Their suggested itineraries were
slightly different so they’d compromised by doing mostly what he
wanted to do. This consisted of spending the first day in casinos
(although she didn’t gamble) and the next day sailing on the Las Vegas
Boat Harbor (although she hated water). But she knew he enjoyed these
things so she went along. He’d been an avid gambler (she remembered
that all too well), and later in life he’d taken up sailing (one of
his many odd hobbies).
They’d been sailing for about an hour when he stopped the boat. “I’m
so glad we got to do this. I’ve missed you.” She nodded but made no
reply. These “heart-to-heart” moments were uncomfortable, and she
found that, like indigestion, it was best to say nothing and hope it
would pass quickly. But he continued. “We haven’t spent much time
together lately, but I’m hoping that will change. I have news.” He
pulled a photo from his back pocket and gave it to her. The photo was
a small black-and-white image that looked like a sonogram. “It’s still
a little early, but soon you’ll have a baby sister. I’d like for you
to be involved in her life.” She stared at the photo but still said
nothing. There was an odd, heating sensation building in her stomach.
“Her mother and I are pretty excited. This will be her first child,
and me, well, I missed so much when you were growing up that it will
be like a first for me as well.” The heat had moved from her stomach
up to her chest. “And this time I aim to do it right. Nothing but the
best for this one. The sky’s the limit. I finally learned from all my
A half cry, half scream finally escaped from her lips. She could feel
the heat in her face. She couldn’t believe what she was hearing.
“Are you KIDDING me!!?!”
“So I was just practice so you could get it right this time. I was
just a mistake!”
“That’s not what I meant.”
But she couldn’t stop. All the years of missed birthdays and broken
promises came tumbling out of her. All the times she’d covered twice
the distance just to meet him halfway flooded back to her memory. She
yelled for what felt like hours and he listened silently and
patiently. It was all true and he couldn’t deny it. He had been a
“I’m sorry.” It was all he could say.
But she didn’t know if it was enough. Too much had been said and she
didn’t know if they could go back to the relationship they’d had, as
fragile and imperfect as it had been. With blistered, salty skin and
matted hair, they were down to their last sips of fresh water. A
recreational day at sea had turned into a fight for continued
existence. Slumped on the bow, searching for any hint of a breeze to
soothe her burning face, her eyes widened when she noticed something
fast approaching in the distance. It was probably just the coast guard
telling them it was time to return the boat. It had been an
She’d met him halfway.