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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Park (10/25/12)

TITLE: The Sun's Rays, Through Rusted Iron
By Addie Pleasance


Lisa is a nomad. There’s an itch in her spirit that won’t allow her to stay—not in any one place, not with any one man. When the itch gets to a certain intensity, Lisa sets off again. Maybe she’s looking for a salve. Maybe she’s not.

Lisa is a writer, and her nomad feet have led her to the settings for all of her novels. A beauty parlor for the circus sideshow, with a profane beautician of uncanny compassion. A factory where a dozen workers spend their days making mousetraps. A house that a woman has filled with thousands of jars of mincemeat.

Today she wakes in a tiny motel on a coastal island somewhere in the south. The island has a beautiful name—Sofronia—and Lisa hopes to stay here for a while. She has a thought that maybe it would be nice to have a kitten.

After pulling on jeans and a tee, Lisa starts to walk. It’s early—not yet hot—and she follows the salt in the air, the loudening of the ocean. A battered boardwalk takes her to a wonderland of rust, faded paint, splintered wood. An abandoned amusement park. A faded sign reads “Ferdy’s Funland.”

Lisa walks under old roller coaster rails, sees a desiccated cocoon in the seat of one of the coaster cars resting on the track. The carousel has no horses; perhaps vandals have taken them away. In the funhouse, Lisa stands in front of a twisted mirror and sees herself in the shattered glass, oddly truncated. She starts to hear the voices of the characters in her next book.

A sound from the real world startles Lisa, and she darts behind the funhouse mirror. Tchk…tchk…someone is taking pictures. When the footsteps fade away, Lisa steps out to see who has invaded what she already thinks of as her amusement park. The characters are speaking loudly to her now, clamoring for her attention, suggesting conflicts and plotlines.

She watches the photographer, who is now taking pictures of the silent Ferris wheel. It occurs to Lisa that this man with a camera might be an interesting character. He appears to be talking to himself. She slips off her shoes and leaves them in the funhouse, then dodges through the bumper cars and the tilt-a-whirl to get closer—perhaps to hear what he is saying.

As the man walks around the Ferris wheel and the Scrambler, he stoops and ducks, exchanging lenses, leaning in close, lying on his back, snapping in a steady rhythm, constantly talking. Lisa thinks at first that he might be ill, delusional—but as his words settle into meaningfulness, she understands that she is hearing his part of a two-sided conversation, a dialogue with an unseen friend. Awesome, Lord, he says. Thanks for leading me here. This is great stuff. I love the angle of the sun’s rays through this rusted iron.

Lisa revises her character from ‘delusional photographer’ to ‘religious photographer’ and thinks there might not be a place for him in the book, after all. Religious people are not of interest to her. Still, she decides to watch him for a while longer. He moves further down the old boardwalk, past the popcorn stand and the Tunnel of Love, past the arcade. Lisa follows several yards behind, using the moldering structures for cover.

The photographer is still talking, still snapping pictures, and Lisa draws closer to listen. That shadow will make for an interesting effect, won’t it, Lord? There, the way nature is taking over these old structures, life always does…The man pauses, snaps a few more pictures, starts to talk again. Can’t you just hear the echoes of the people who used to come here? Do you wonder what their lives were like? Did anyone ever fall in love here?

Lisa is surprised that the photographer is talking to God like that, with questions she herself was asking. She peers around the corner of the crumbling arcade building to see that the man has turned around, is looking at her. Is talking to her.

“Well?” he says. “Do you?”

“Do I…”

“Do you ever wonder? About the people?”

Lisa swallows, clears her throat. “It’s all I ever do.”

“Yeah. Me, too. Should we see what’s in there?” He nods toward a derelict concession stand, holds out one hand.

Crazily, Lisa thinks again about how nice it would be to have a kitten. A home. She steps away from the arcade and takes the photographer’s hand.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Karen Pourbabaee 11/02/12
I wonder what will become of the writer and the photographer? Will they collaborate on a joint feature story? Crusade together for the renovation of the park where they probably fell in love? Have a wedding there? Your interesting story left so many questions...it would be a great novel opening:)I really liked it!
Laura Hawbaker11/06/12
Well written. Kept me reading to the end and wanting more!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 11/07/12
This is a delightful story with more than one message, depending what the reader needs to hear. I also find myself wondering about the people. I can't see a jet stream high above without imaging the people and why they are on the plane as I say a prayer for them. I could relate to this story in many ways. Nicely done.
Bea Edwards 11/08/12
You took me on a roller coaster ride of words. Great fun and suspense. I think this would be fantastic beginning to a romance novel!
Leola Ogle 11/08/12
Good job, Addie! Congrats!
Karen Pourbabaee 11/08/12
Congratulations Addie for this great piece!
Loren T. Lowery11/08/12
Great work with intrigue, atmosphere and suspense. Congratulations, Addie.
Margaret Kearley 11/08/12
As others have said, I wanted to carry on reading, and was disappointed when the story stopped! Bautiful writing, so real and descriptve that you draw your readers right into the old fairground. Congratulations on your win - very well deserved.
Myrna Noyes11/08/12
After reading this, I have no doubt as to why the judges rated it so highly! It has such atmosphere, and the story line captured me from the beginning. Way to write! :)
Olawale Ogunsola11/08/12
Olawale Ogunsola11/08/12
Great piece. Congratulations!
Noel Mitaxa 11/08/12
This flows with so much energy, curiosity and imagery. A great start for a novel, and a well-deserved second-placing.
Charla Diehl 11/08/12
Congratulations on taking second place with this intriguing story. Of course I was hooked right off with the MC being a writer with a vivid imagination. I think it's unanimous that this should develop into a novel. Page Turner contest material? This was a very fun piece!
Beth LaBuff 11/08/12
This story is filled with charm! I loved it. Congrats on your EC!
Frankie Kemp 11/09/12
In a very short space, you have crafted a character that I want to know more about. That is definitely a good beginning! Maybe you will finish Lisa's story in the upcoming challenges. (Hint, hint) Or maybe you'll do what a really clever writer does to her reader . . . and invite us to finish it in the storytelling of our own minds.
Ellen Carr 11/09/12
This is a riveting story and beautifully written. I really enjoyed it. Congratulations on your 2nd place. Well deserved!