Contest #76 shortlist ⭐️

72 comments

Contemporary Sad

I guess it’ll be rainy. I think the sky should either make room for the sun to smile or it should just cry it out. Okay, it’ll be rainy. On wet days it blooms umbrellas. And I have four. 


There’s this lady who stands underneath the grey awning everyday and she paints the world. At least I think she paints the world. In front of the art supplies store with orange smears on the walls like blurry suns as big as my thumbs. 


So she’ll be there again, and the raindrops will crawl down the slope of the awning that might’ve been blue a long time ago. 


I used to paint too but not in oils like she does. 


I’ll be on the other side of the zebra crossing, thinking about how the world looks through her eyes. I used to be a girl whose eyes held the world much brighter than it had the right to be. 


Maybe I’ll stand up. My knees will gasp and I’ll have to hold out a hand for the wall. Across the crosswalk I’ll go, fingers pinching the fabric of my coat that hasn’t been completely dry for a long time. I will pull my coat around me as if there’ll be wind. But there won’t be wind. On windy days she does not paint. 


She will be busy with the brush even as I approach her, and I won’t think twice before opening my mouth. I can imagine I will look like a person swallowed by grey t-shirts and raincoats that are blooming with wrinkles. 


“Hi.”


She’ll smile like it isn’t raining. “Come under the cover, ma’am. It’s a wet day.”


So I’ll hobble under the awning and I will see her giant palette, crying with colours that curl and stretch. I won’t lift my eyes to see what she has fussed over on the easel. Not yet. 


“Have you ever tried watercolour?” I will ask, the words swimming into the rain as she moves her brush, still smiling. 


“I have,” she will answer and stroke at the yellow on her palette. It will swirl into a darker yellow, kind of like wet dandelions. “But it’s hard to bring out as much colour. It’s a little bit…”


She won’t finish because she will be lost in the flurry on her canvas, and by the time she hears me breathe again, she won’t remember what words she sent into the sky. 


I will lean against the glass, foggy with fingerprints if my eyes caught the light at the right angle. I will hear water trickle down the basins coated with rust, and they will sound like sad secrets. The part of the street where the sidewalk ends to meet the road will run a tiny river of rainwater. 


“I used to paint too. But in watercolour,” I’ll tell her. 


“Used to?” she will ask. “What happened?” 


And I will shrug like I’m young and I don’t have sore shoulders, just a head pounding with things I’ll do someday. “It didn’t work out.”


“I’m sorry.”


I have heard the same words exhaled a thousand times but this time it’ll be different. When she says it, it will sound like it comes from the centre of her glassy soul even though we’ve never talked before. 


“Thank you,” I’ll say, and I’ll say it for real for once. 


And there will be a cozy silence, despite the rain that won’t want to stop yet. A car will pass, waking up puddles on the pavement and sounding like the ocean slipping under a sailboat. Sometimes silence carries a conversation, pushing it up with soft fingers. 


“So what did you paint?” She will ask out of nowhere, kind of like a flashlight blinking into the fog. Grinning and golden. 


“The world.”


“Me too. But why did you stop?”


“It didn’t work out, remember? There was nothing worth painting anymore.”


She will let the quiet waft around us in a garland. She will study the rain as if it stayed still. And she will paint it. 


Then she’ll turn to me. “I finished, ma’am.”


I’ll notice she has very odd tennis shoes. 


“Would you like to critique, ma’am? I don’t mind.”


Only then will I lift my heavy eyes. They are surprisingly good considering the grey I found in my hair a long time ago. I will lift my eyes and I will see the little library, and the strangled thrift shop. Also the convenience store that smiles where the sidewalk curls left. And the sky that cries diamonds and the wet empty road with the cracked manhole. I will see all of these, but in brighter oils that will be wet still, with a sheen that reminds me of her eyes. 


And then I will look closely. I will see an old woman, sitting on the sidewalk with her four umbrellas that look like monochrome flowers. She will be holding the brighter world in her eyes and she will be smiling. 


I will thank the artist with two whispered words.


And she'll reply with a dimpled smile, her eyes a bewildered golden like the paint on her fingers. And we will watch the rain together. 


But for now I will watch the fat clouds crawl across the sky. No rain and no obvious sun. The street across from me and everything else I can see simmers in old colours, like water in a yogurt container after the paint had drowned from the brushes a thousand times. 


For now I arrange my umbrellas every once in a while and wait for the chink of a coin, joining the rest in the ancient coffee cup that sighs in front of me. 


For now I watch her smile over her canvas, never knowing what she actually sees. And I probably won’t ever cross the street because I know she won’t talk to me. I wouldn’t talk to me. 


For now I’ll sit here and wait until somebody shows me the world is worth it again. 


January 12, 2021 20:25

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72 comments

Frances Reine
20:27 Jan 12, 2021

Note: I'm actually not sure if this is sad but my intention was for it to be a bit depressing. I'm not even sure if this fits the prompt at all. Also, I read a book recently and I think the style influenced how I write permanently. It could be a good or bad thing. ;)

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I think that this story really does fit the prompt. You did it in such a creative way Frances! Also, what amazing book is that?? Your new writing style is amazing! :)

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Frances Reine
13:11 Jan 13, 2021

Thank you so much :D I rlly appreciate it. Thanks for reading as well!! The book, I'm pretty sure a lot of people have heard before, is called "The Book of Awesome". It rlly made me think about the tiniest things and I decided to stir more of that into my stories. I'm so glad you liked this one.

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Frances Reine
13:12 Jan 13, 2021

Also, now that I look at it, I realized all of my stories could've been written by different people, haha. Or maybe that's just me. :P

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Your welcome, also that's the book! I've read it! Amazing book, isn't it?

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Frances Reine
14:52 Jan 13, 2021

Yup, awesome book. Just like the title. :)

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Haha, yes, you're right!

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Radhika Diksha
11:29 Feb 04, 2021

You painted a story on the canvas that was already colorful. I really got inspired by your story. It's so deep yet it's warm. I loved the narration, I loved the plot. You really write amazing. It really deserved to get shortlisted. The sadness had a color in this story and new hope. Keep writing.

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Frances Reine
13:04 Feb 04, 2021

Oh I love the first sentence. Thank you so much.

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Scout Tahoe
17:34 Jan 22, 2021

Wow, congrats on the shortlist! This was beautiful.

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Frances Reine
20:10 Jan 22, 2021

Thanks so much.

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R. K.
17:32 Jan 22, 2021

YOU GOT SHORTLISTED! Congratulations, I am so so proud.

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Frances Reine
18:23 Jan 22, 2021

THANK YOU! I really hope "Lights" wins the next contest because it's just phenomenal.

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Karen Mc Dermott
23:42 Jan 17, 2021

"I will lean against the glass, foggy with fingerprints if my eyes caught the light at the right angle. I will hear water trickle down the basins coated with rust, and they will sound like sad secrets." You have such poetic attention to detail. Love it.

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Frances Reine
13:17 Jan 18, 2021

Thank you. I'm so glad :)

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Oh wow...my god..your story got shortlisted!!! Awesome job! :)

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Frances Reine
20:38 Jan 24, 2021

Thanks so much :)

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19:30 Jan 23, 2021

It's the second story I read in the future tense - it's so intriguing. It's like a pipe dream yet so beautifully painted it feels very real. I don't find it sad though, more like a promise or potential, something that may or may not happen. Loved it!

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Frances Reine
19:38 Jan 23, 2021

Ah, pipe dream--beautiful way to put it. I didn't find it sad either, haha. Honestly, I just slapped on a category. Thanks for reading :)

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Amanda Nowlin
19:00 Jan 22, 2021

I'm new to this website, so just checking out some of these amazing stories. I wanted to say, you left me with the conviction to pay attention, to see the faces around me that may feel like your character. Who around me feels invisible and ignored, unimportant? I think it's beautiful. Congratulations.

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Frances Reine
19:24 Jan 22, 2021

Thanks so much. I'm glad this story came with noticeable takeaways.

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Tom .
18:07 Jan 22, 2021

Hi, I was shortlisted too. So I was curious to see what everyone else wrote. This has a blissful melancholy to it but at the same time it is also medicine for melancholy. The sadness and loneliness contained within it is almost healing. Does that make sense? Good Job and Congratulations.

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Frances Reine
18:20 Jan 22, 2021

Congratulations! Thanks so much. Yes, that does make sense. I haven't thought about it that way until now though :)

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17:22 Jan 22, 2021

Wow!! this was such an amazing read!! This story is definitely one of my favorites! Congrats on the shortlist

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Frances Reine
18:20 Jan 22, 2021

Thanks so much. I really appreciate it :)

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19:15 Jan 21, 2021

Honestly...they have said it all. This writing style is one in a million. My heart sighed after reading this. It's so complex yet easy to understand and prompt-perfect. I love this.

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Frances Reine
19:48 Jan 21, 2021

I was having a pretty grey day. This made me happy, thank you so much :)

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04:30 Jan 22, 2021

You're welcome!

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04:30 Jan 22, 2021

You're welcome!

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04:31 Jan 22, 2021

You're welcome!

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B.T Beauregard
18:32 Jan 15, 2021

So beautiful. Your writing really flows, it has an almost trance-like tone to it that makes it both compelling, and calm, like watching a thunderstorm. I adore this story, it fits the prompt perfectly. Amazing job. :) If you get the chance, I would really appreciate it if you checked out my latest story. Have a great day!!

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Frances Reine
19:53 Jan 15, 2021

Thank you so much. I really appreciate it when I get a comment so I can get specific feedback. I love that you said it's like "watching a thunderstorm". That was beautiful and I really appreciate it. I'm heading on over to your story right now. Thanks again :)

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H L Mc Quaid
14:48 Jan 15, 2021

It's dream-like and real in the same breath. Just some beautiful writing, especially "A car will pass, waking up puddles on the pavement and sounding like the ocean slipping under a sailboat. Sometimes silence carries a conversation, pushing it up with soft fingers."

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Frances Reine
20:05 Jan 15, 2021

Oh wow, thank you. I'm so glad you liked it. Thank you so much for the specific feedback as well, I appreciate it greatly.

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H L Mc Quaid
17:26 Jan 22, 2021

And congrats on being shortlisted--I hope that means more people get to see your work. :)

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Frances Reine
18:18 Jan 22, 2021

Thanks so much :)

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Nainika Gupta
13:27 Jan 14, 2021

ooooh so lovely I LOVE WATERCOLOR PAINTING SOOO MUCH GOD THIS SPEAKS TO ME ahah this was lovely as always!!!

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Frances Reine
13:28 Jan 14, 2021

Thank you SO MUCH. I love watercolour too :)

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Nainika Gupta
13:30 Jan 14, 2021

yessss np!! landscapes or...other I personally love doing galaxies, mountains, and sunrises/sunsets.... wbu???

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Frances Reine
13:45 Jan 14, 2021

Ooo galaxies, wow that sounds really pretty. I like painting the ocean or just use a photo as a reference

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Arwen Dove
05:17 Mar 08, 2021

WOW! This is such a great story! I've actually never read a story in future tense before, and you've inspired me. Great job!

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Frances Reine
13:45 Mar 08, 2021

Thank you, Arwen :) So glad there were takeaways.

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Grace Lawrence
03:51 Feb 14, 2021

I know you published this a long time ago, but I just had to tell you how much I love it!! Such a vivid, lucid style...I can't think of anyway to describe but an extended poem - descriptions are gorgeous!

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Frances Reine
12:59 Feb 14, 2021

Thank you, Grace :)

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9 P🎈
07:41 Jan 29, 2021

The title's amazing and the story as well. It deserves to be shortlisted👍 Would you like to read my stories?😊

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Frances Reine
13:10 Jan 29, 2021

Thank you. I definitely would. Do you have any suggestions for what to read first?

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9 P🎈
10:27 Jan 31, 2021

Well "Memories shining with the stars" would be the best to read first. Moreover, if you don't get a lot of time and prefer a shorter story, you may read "The Unknowns". By the way thanks😀

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Frances Reine
12:51 Jan 31, 2021

It's alright, I have time. Of course.

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9 P🎈
10:27 Jan 31, 2021

Well "Memories shining with the stars" would be the best to read first. Moreover, if you don't get a lot of time and prefer a shorter story, you may read "The Unknowns". By the way thanks😀

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Frances Reine
12:50 Jan 31, 2021

It's alright, I have time. Of course.

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9 P🎈
10:27 Jan 31, 2021

Well "Memories shining with the stars" would be the best to read first. Moreover, if you don't get a lot of time and prefer a shorter story, you may read "The Unknowns". By the way thanks😀

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Caroline Travis
08:46 Jan 28, 2021

Very powerful, and for me, very sad.

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Frances Reine
12:59 Jan 28, 2021

Thank you.

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Danny
10:49 Jan 24, 2021

Wow, this is beautiful. I was going through my library and found this, I shouldn't have let it sit in there for so long. You write so well, I'm already learning so much just by reading this. Congrats on being shortlisted! :)

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Frances Reine
12:53 Jan 24, 2021

Thanks so much, I'm really grateful :)

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Danny
13:06 Jan 24, 2021

:))

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