Continuing to bring the literary thunder for the ladies is Lu Whitley. Her story, “Words on the Wind,“ might break your heart and steal your vote at the same time.
On the other side of the arena is the bald titan himself, Albert Berg. This week, he’ll show you how to prepare for any storm in “Preservation.“ Just don’t get caught without a flashlight.
Without further ado, let’s see what our judges have to say.
“Words on the Wind” by Lu Whitley – This story had me hooked after the first couple paragraphs. The way our author describes the chair and the oncoming storm are fantastic, but the story really gets going here: “…she laughs like a child on Christmas morning. The sound hits me like a punch to the gut.” Such an odd contrast between two people who are in some sort of relationship, I was intrigued.
As the storm builds and our two characters move in opposite directions emotionally, we as readers are in for a real roller coaster of a ride.
The idea that our narrator loves Sara so much that he would endure the utter lack of returned affection and humor her in her little (and not so little) quirks is beautiful. His faith in her in spite of all she puts him through really drives home the depth of his love for her.
Whether it is simple mental illness or something more supernatural, Sara’s fascination or infatuation with rain and the raw power of the storm is fun but could easily be replaced by literally dozens of other conditions or illnesses and the story would remain just as powerful. The story is just that well written.
I really love this story, kind of a slice of life story but with a little tornado spice thrown in. I will definitely be checking out more of Ms Whitley’s work.
“Preservation” by Albert Berg – The beginning of this story hits home for anyone who has hunkered down to wait out any kind of intense storm. The mundane preparations and our protagonist’s calm demeanor at the start really had me waiting for the other shoe to drop; this isn’t the first story of Mr. Berg’s that I have read.
I love how the narrator’s general uneasiness could be attributed to the storm or to his fear of the darkness, but it quickly progresses into whispers and noises and missed medications. That’s where things get really interesting. The medications that are missed could be the Albuterol that he tries to take or maybe it’s something else. Is there someone else in the house or is it all in his head? Is he a victim or is he more than he seems. Even the “guest bedroom” isn’t exactly what you think.
I like the ending of the story, how it is just a series of twists. Our protagonist is about to be caught by the otherworldly being, but wait! He escapes into a secure room, but wait! He is trapped and can’t get out, but wait! He is an evil man and deserves his fate.
The only thing I didn’t get in the story was the cooler. If it was all just in his head, who threw the cooler? If it was an actual supernatural entity, why didn’t it pursue him into the secure room?
All in all though, a very creepy story that fits the prompt well. I said this before, but I can’t remember a week that our authors took the prompt in such different directions and did such a fantastic job with both. When it came down to it though, one of the stories stood out in my mind just a little bit more. This week I choose light over dark and cast my vote for:
“Words on the Wind” by Lu Whitley.
Donald Jacob Uitvlugt is our second judge this week. Donald strives to write what he calls “haiku fiction,” stories that are small in scope but big on impact. Find out more about haiku fiction here. He welcomes comments at his blog http://haikufiction.blogspot.com or via Twitter @haikufictiondju).
Week two of women’s month is a roaring success with two great entries this week. So many different directions the writers could have taken the prompt — and then they go in directions I for one did not expect. Making us live the storms with them. Good stuff.
As is my custom, I’m going to comment briefly on the two stories before I move on to my vote.
“Words on the Wind” by Lu Whitley — Wow. This is a story that demands to be read all at one go. And then to be re-read and pondered. The style of the story captures the emotional intent of the story perfectly, snatching the reader’s breath away like a strong wind. I wanted to know more about these people, especially why Sara felt about storms the way that she obviously does. But the reader feels the storm raging through the narrator that parallels the storm raging above. More explanation would perhaps dissipate the emotional energy.
Very well done.
“Preservation” by Albert Berg — And now for something completely different. This story is much more interior. We feel the narrator’s panic, his anxieties whether he’s forgotten anything. The story is more about the storm raging in his head than the storm outside. He can cope with the latter. (Though I did find it a little unrealistic that he forgot his inhaler; living in severe weather country, everyone I know with a chronic condition always grabs their medicine if a storm’s coming.) What he cannot escape from is the storm that is his own warped mind.
Love the twist at the end. Delicious, if I may be excused for using the word.
One of the things I absolutely love about the Arena is that the choice is rarely between a good story and a bad story but between two stories that are awesome in different ways. This week definitely keeps up that trend. In the end, my vote will go for the story which had the greater emotional impact on me as a reader, and for me this week that story is:
“Words on the Wind” by Lu Whitley.
There you have it folks! A unanimous decision from our judges. Let’s take a look at how our readers voted.
A commanding victory for Lu Whitley! Congratulations! Defeating Albert is no easy task. We hope to see you come back to the arena again someday.
Stay tuned next week as we will be bringing you a battle of culinary delights.
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