The Last Kiss Goodbye

Submitted into Contest #237 in response to: Write a story about a first or last kiss.... view prompt


Contemporary Fiction

“There are those with a flare for words, having a deep vocabulary that can bring their imaginations to life for others to enjoy. Like a jigsaw puzzle, their written words form pleasing pictures to the mind’s eye, leaving the beholder satisfied upon completion. Each syllable is a note struck, contributing to an orchestra’s composition, rhythmic, beautiful. Like a storm over the desert, letters fall from the writer’s fingertips like drops of water from the sky, pooling together into words, rushing like a river into sentences, flooding the baked earth into a story. How I have struggled to be such a writer to only be faced with a painful truth: I am not one of those writers.”

“Your flare is for drama. Maybe you should try acting.”

“Acting? But I have all these ideas, pictures in my head playing in my mind like an old reel-to-reel. I can see the settings and hear the dialogue between the perfectly developed characters as they experience conflict, reaching the climax, and finding resolution. I cannot turn my back on the people and places I created. They need to be brought to life. They need to leap from the pages and entertain the world.”

“You just said it yourself; you can’t do it. You’re not good enough. You write and you rewrite and rewrite some more. You have a goal of eighty thousand words. For every two thousand you write, you go back and refine it to fifteen hundred. For every three steps forward, you take one back. You’re never satisfied with what you do.”

“Editing is part of the process. Rearranging the words, the sentences, even changing them, if need be, all in the name of clarity, for the sake of the audience. It goes far beyond just checking spelling and grammar. Word choice can have an impact on an entire scene. If only I had peers, like during my days at university, to critique my work and give me constructive feedback, oh the difference that would make.”

“Is that what you’re doing? Editing? I think you’re being most asinine with your editing. You lie awake at night trying to find the perfect words to describe how a woman feels when her cat dies, only to pass out drunk in the middle of the day because you never found those perfect words the night before. You’re not a young man anymore. You cannot keep doing that.”

“Yes, I agree with you there. A young man I am not. However, there is nothing asinine about my editing. If I want to be like those writers that I previously mentioned, then I must write and rewrite onto perfection.”

“Well, you’ve been working on this novel for half a year now and you only have a little over forty-five thousand words. I know this is your first book, but surely this is not the pace of a novelist.”

“Well, I can’t rightly say at what pace a novelist writes, but I’m not working under any deadlines, and I do have a job, not to mention a wife and a home to tend to. Just the other day the grandkids were here. Sometimes I have to set the writing aside or life will pass me by.”

“Yes, you have a part-time job. Perhaps you should acquire full-time employment and make this writing thing more of a hobby. In time you will probably find yourself less and less stressed the less time you spend fretting over your book. You could buy your wife and grandkids nice things, make some renovations to the house. There are other places you could be dedicating your time.”

“Perhaps, but this has been a dream of mine ever since my grandfather first read me ‘Tom Sawyer’ as a young boy. That boy’s shenanigans kept me entertained in a home without a TV and sparked a desire in me to read and write. I’ve been doing those things since grade school, and they have become a part of who I am.”

“Who you are is someone who has never succeeded at anything in his life, much less a task as daunting as writing a novel. It’s such a competitive industry and you know it. Once again, you said it yourself. You’re not one of those writers. Having a story in your head and getting it onto paper in a way that communicates clearly to the audience the details of your imagination is something I don’t think you are capable of. Your time would surely be better served pursuing other endeavors.”

“But I want to be one of those writers. Part of me feels that if I stop trying, I never will be. I need to overcome my insecurities and practice, study the art, keep trying, and finish this novel so that I can prove to myself, you, and the world that I can do this.”

“Yeah, but that other part feels you’re wasting your time, passing up other opportunities, and missing out on life because your so dedicated to getting this novel written.”

“Yes, you speak your mind quite often,” Stanly Withers thinks to himself as he swirls his glass of bourbon, letting the ice melt as he stares into the fireplace.

 “So, what now? Are you just going to ignore me?”

“From here on out, that is exactly what I’m going to do, Negativity. Consider this your last kiss goodbye.”

Stanly took one last gulp and finished his drink. He sat his glass on the table next to his easy chair in front of the fireplace in his study. The one-time forensic psychology professor made his way to his desk where he sat down and jiggled the mouse to his computer. The monitor came alive on Chapter 18 of the murder mystery he has been working on for six months now and he began to type. He never spoke to Negativity again after that evening. It turned out Negativity was the biggest hinderance to Stanly’s success. Four months later Stanly found representation for his novel. It was picked up by a leading book publisher and will arrive in stores soon.

February 10, 2024 07:55

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Kerriann Murray
11:20 Feb 18, 2024

So unique and creative. I love a story that speaks to the writer's journey - writing is such a great outlet for our anxiety about writing. (LOL.) Great read!


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16:20 Feb 17, 2024

Fun read and unique stretch on the prompt. Appreciate the use of dialogue to show Stanley’s struggle where resilience and determination win out. Overall, an uplifting and relatable piece that resonates with any writer. Great work!


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Mary Bendickson
20:43 Feb 11, 2024

Believe we see the writer within.


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Trudy Jas
16:50 Feb 10, 2024

Had to chuckle at the opening paragraph. Such lofty, lyrical words... but I'm not that kind of writer. Great inner dialogue. f I may; ? apart-time job? and ? your so dedicated?


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Alexis Araneta
12:53 Feb 10, 2024

This was a very fresh take on the prompt, Ty. I really liked it. I like how the protagonist's negative thoughts became a character in this. Lovely job!


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Tom Skye
12:42 Feb 10, 2024

This was very well written so was definitely a little meta. Is this a cryptic was of telling us you have novel coming out soon, Ty? :) Link to the prompt was a little tenuous but this was a great piece. Inspiration for us all! I enjoyed it a lot. Thanks for sharing.


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