What the judges had to say about Amy's story:
"Nice. A bit cliche - 'spark of life', but overall good."
"I like the approach, and structurally it was well written. The ending felt a little rushed and would be more believable if drawn out more."
"A nicely written piece."
"A unique take on the writing prompt that worked very well."
The photo prompt:
The (unedited) story:
SPARK OF LIFE
by Amy Pepin
There was pain when she thought about it and numbness when it was free from her mind. Kathryn had managed to survive three weeks, but her torturous current existence was not improving. Her husband was dead. Nothing could change that.
Kathryn stopped eating the day he died. She had stopped living, too. Friends had called on her and attempted to console her, but their attempts were futile. Her heart was now crushed and destroyed forever. Nothing would ever be the same, and that was probably the reason why she never shed a tear.
This was the day of his birthday. Kathryn meant to go to the place where she met him before giving up her will to live altogether. One more cold memory might be resurrected before dying like an ember fluttering from the fire only to be embraced by the cold ground.
Kathryn dressed in her usual colour of black. It was a simple dress with a V-neck that her husband had once adored. Along with it she chose a black covering for her head with soft netting over her face. She adorned her hands with black silk gloves, hoping they would hide her shakiness.
For a moment she stared at her face in the mirror in the entry way. She did not recognize herself in her cold eyes. A chill wracked her body. She had simply become a horrid sight in her inescapable nightmare. Life no longer resided inside of her shell.
Kathryn straightened her shoulders with a reverberating sigh and exited the door, careful not to trip on her black heels. The eerie hollow click of them on the sunlit sidewalk followed the steady beat of her heart.
She chose to walk to the little café down the street. That was where it all began, and that would be the last place she visited before it all ended. Kathryn continued to somberly amble her way to the entrance.
Gentle saxophone music surrounded her as she went to open the glass door. She would have blindly entered, but a whimper met her ear, and she froze. Her heart beat quickened as she pivoted to take in the sight of a chubby, shorthaired black and white dog. His beady little eyes widened as he captured her gaze.
Kathryn shook her head and once again moved towards the door. What was she to do with a dog? She would soon be gone, and the creature would once again be left alone.
Alone like her.
The thought haunted her, and her face drained of any colour that was left. Her head began to spin. A pounding headache threatened to take over. Summoned by unknown forces, Kathryn stepped forward to the door and held a hand out, ushering the animal inside.
Despite the many stares, Kathryn marched to a stool at the counter and plunked herself down. The dog proceeded to sit at her feet and wag his little black tail. Kathryn noted the pleading in his brown eyes as the once beady pupils swelled with life as she reached down to pat his head. Upon seeing his prancing paws and perked ears, she set her gloves on the counter in front of her and touched the seat beside her. The dog leapt up as if he were once again a pup.
“I’ll take a cream soda,” Kathryn said softly, refusing to take her eyes away from the strange creature beside her.
Seconds passed and a pink, bubbly drink was placed inside of her cold hand. Kathryn gazed at the dog. The first time she had consumed this drink was when she was thirteen and a boy had graciously bought it for her after accidentally knocking her books to the ground. That was many years ago, but the moment was as vivid in Kathryn’s mind as if it were playing before her.
As she had done then, Kathryn extended her drink. Her hands shook uncontrollably, and a few drops splattered on the ground. Taking a deep breath, Kathryn aimed the straw at the dog. A curious smile played upon her lips.
The dog stared at her expectantly, and as he licked the drops at the side of the glass, a tear streaked down Kathryn’s face. He reached into the cup with his long pink tongue, and as the soda drained, more tears leaked from her eyes. They refused to stop as she collapsed onto the ground and allowed all of the emotions that she had bottled up to explode like the cream soda. She covered her face, and the dog went from the drink to her face, showering her with slobbery kisses, and she found her will to live slowly return. Her stained face turned to the silver front of the counter. A gasp left her as she realized that there was a spit of life in her dull eyes.
“I think I’ll call you Spark,” she whispered, “because you have given me a spark for the fire within me, and have encouraged me to live.”
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