So last week I grumbled about how much stronger the entries are getting every week, and how that makes it a lot harder for me to choose a winner.
This week I'm going to confess that it's also making it tougher on you.
This week's entries were, again, very good. Each of them were well written and each had an interesting twist. Each was told from a single POV. Each was "voicey," a term meaning that the personality of the narrator or protagonist comes across very clearly from the words and grammatical structures he or she chooses (I'll blog more about that next week, because it's probably the greatest single thing that separates good fiction from great fiction.)
So, I wound up making my choice based on something called "sympathy." This isn't the sympathy that makes you send cards to sick friends or flowers to a funeral. It's a literary term that decribes the quality that causes readers to want to keep reading about a character. Many times it's because of the character's positive characteristics: courage, humor, honesty, generosity.
Other times, though, a character can be pretty thoroughly nasty, but there's still something compelling about him: Hannibal Lecter comes to mind.
Nick Hornby's Jess, in A Long Way Down, a VERY angry adolescent, has to be one of the least compassion-generating characters I've ever met. At one point in the book she reveals some personal information that engenders our first glimmer of understanding for what makes her so angry/rude/rebellious. But the instant the reader feel a surge of compassion toward her, she turns on the him, snarling, "You can just take your sympathy and shove it up your saggy old arse." I remember actually recoiling as I read this line. And yet, she's such a strong, well-drawn character that I found myself reading on, hoping she'd get past her current circumstances.
Anyway, the "winning" personality of the protagonist secured this week's win for Sandra Leigh.
You never meant this to happen. You wanted him to notice you, that's all. You loved the way he moved, adored his voice - and longed for the touch of his hand.
He walked in and tossed his newspaper down. It bounced off a table and crashed to the floor. As he went to pick it up, you grabbed it. He bent down. You stood up. You and he collided, painfully.
Now he's looking at you.
He sighs, pats your aching head. “Okay, girl,” he says, “Drop it.”
Happy at last, you drop it.
It's a dog's life.
Next week's prompt: We had differing agendas.
(To see the rules, go here.)