Sunday, May 20, 2012

Soft Leather Memories

Round 8 of NPR’s weekends All Things Considered Three-Minute Fiction contest is over.  Over 6,000 stories were submitted, including mine.  Each and every entry was read by someone.  The winning story was announced today.  It was written by Carrie Mackillop and is titled Rainy Wedding.  Congratulations to Carrie.  Her story was poignant, and particularly relatable for me.
The rules of the contest were:
1: The story had to be fiction.
2: The story had to be no more than 600 words so that it could be read in 3 minutes or less.
3: It had to begin with the following sentence :
"She closed the book, placed it on the table, and finally decided to walk through the door.”

I have never entered any kind of contest.  But I gave this one a try.
Here is my entry:

Soft Leather Memories
By Lynda Grace Goldstein
     She closed the book, placed it on the table, and finally, decided to walk through the door. 
     It was early in the day when Belle arrived at the dockside café, nearly two hours before.
     The morning was gray and foggy. The warm air caused a smoky mist to rise up from the cold water of the bay. 
    Walking from her car, she greeted the two women chatting outside. 
     Peg and Marge were the owners of “The Breakfast Shop.”
     Marge was short and stocky, with close-cropped hair.  Peg was tall and thin and wore her hair pulled back under a cap. They were dressed alike, in Bermuda shorts and tee’s which sported the restaurant logo; a steaming cup of coffee.  
      “Belle!”  they said in unison.
       “You hear that?”  Marge asked as she pointed to the three men in the utility boat floating in the bay. The men were barely visible and appeared ghostly in the mist.
      “Rat-a-tat, rat-a-tat,” Peg mimicked the sound.
      “Sam and his crew have been working on those pilings since 5:00 o’clock this morning,” she complained.
     Belle laughed as she passed in between the two women and entered the café.
     She and he liked to sit on the breakfast bar stools with the cracked yellow leather seats. But this morning there was no room at the bar.
     Belle placed her book on a table in the back and sat facing the door.
     She passed the time sipping her coffee and reading the entry she had recorded the last time they were together.

    The heavy maroon curtains were tightly drawn. 
    I told him it was beautiful out and asked if he would like me to open the drapes.  
     He shook his head no.
     He was in his usual spot, hunkered down in his soft brown leather recliner.  He looked small and fragile in the chair.  It made me think of Goldilocks and the three bears.  “That chair was too big!“
     I sat on the ottoman, next to him.  
    I’m sure he knew I had been crying.  He reached out for my hand.  His hand felt dry and bony.   The strength of his grip surprised me.   He looked at me and smiled.   I attempted to smile back.
     He reminded me that “they” had been wrong before.   He told me not to worry because we still had time.
     I told him that of course we had more time, what did “they” know.   
     Oh, the games we play with each other.      
     He made me promise to meet him on opening day at the little breakfast place on the island, just over the bridge.
     Opening day is April 1. That’s nearly six months away. 
     He noticed that I had my book and asked me to read one of my poems.
     When I saw that his eyes were getting heavy, I closed the book and got up to leave.
      I whispered  good-bye and told him I loved him.
     He opened his eyes long enough to mouth the words, “I love you, too."
     "See you soon.”

     There were now many more words and poems in her book bound in worn red leather. Sad words, words of grief and pain filled poems.
       She had kept her promise to be here on opening day.
      When she realized that her third cup of coffee was cold and undrinkable, she knew it was time to go.         
     By then the sun had burned off the fog and the day was clear.
     “Did you forget something?”  Peg asked.
      She went back in to get her book.   Like her memories of him, the leather felt soft and warm in her hand. 

Click here for more stories and information about NPR’s Three Minute Fiction Round 8 contest.

I have created a page for Anna's Diary.  It can be found under the Tab titled Anna's Diary.
I have posted all of the entries to date there, starting with January 1, 1929.

Here are yesterday and today’s entries from Anna’s Diary:
Sun. May 19, 1929
Peg stayed last night.  We all went to las Mass.  Dinner at Mrs. Nap.  Home for supper.  Junior in bed with Rosalie.  Jean and I to Mt. Prospect.
Mon. May 20, 1929
Home morning.  Baby at 360 and downtown shopping afternoon.  Hewel and Rick came home with me.  Rick fixed Vacuum.  Jewel cut slip from material bought at 8 Arnato [apparently some kind of store I would imagine.]


  1. ahhh....what a lovely story.  Such courage and bravery. Memories, what a blessing!!!
    I love how you played out two stories in just 600 words!