New Me – Submit Your Second Short Story Today

New Me – Submit Your Second Short Story Today


If you are participating in the 12 Short Stories Writing Challenge, today is the day to submit your second short story for 2019.

Submit your second short story today!

And there goes February. I hope you are all enjoying the great stories that are up on the site. Remember post one, comment on four. Good luck for today.

Well done to everyone who made it. I am proud of you.

I will accept and approve posts for New Me (Word count: 1200 words) from 27 February 2019, 8:00 (Johannesburg time | GMT +2:00), until 28 February 2019, 8:00 (Johannesburg time | GMT +2:00) on 12shortstories.com.  Please ask Google to figure out what time that will be in your part of the world.

Please submit your story on www.12shortstories.com.

  1. Log in.
  2. Submit (Top right).
  3. Complete the form.
  4. Select the correct category: Prompt 2: New Me.
  5. Do not select any other category.
  6. Your story must be 1200 words. I won’t approve stories under 1150 or over 1250 words.
  7. Submit for approval.
  8. Read and comment on four other stories. Please spread the love. Look for stories that haven’t been read, instead of everyone reading and commenting on the same stories. If you want tips on how to comment, read this post: The Complete Guide To Evaluating Your Short Story.

Remember:

  1. This is an exercise in discipline. The comments are a bonus. There is no prize because I want you to focus on writing for yourself and to try and take more risks.
  2. Be kind when you comment. Start with a positive comment, suggest an improvement, and end with something positive. We are here to learn.
  3. Our next prompt is at the end of this post.

A few more points:

  1. I will try to read as many posts as possible, but I do have a day job that I would like to keep.
  2. NO hate speech. None. If you see something nasty that I should be made aware of, please send me a message.
  3. Be careful of profanity.
  4. I need to approve every post. Please be patient with me. I am teaching during the day and I will approve them as quickly as I can. They will all go up.

Can I still join?

You can join the 12 Short Story Challenge in any month. So, if you start in June, that will be month one for you and then May 2019 will be month 12. Sign up on www.12shortstories.com

Here is my short story:

New Me – Submit Your Second Short Story Today

Another New Her by Mia Botha

Prompt: New Me | Word count: 12 words exactly | Genre: Drama

Warning: Reference to addiction.

“You ok?”

Lise is slumped back in her chair. Her usual bouncy enthusiasm subdued. She stops chewing her nail, a thin trail of red mars the crescent of her thumb. She shuffles forward in her seat. “Yip,” she nods, “you?”

“All good, little sis. All good.” I lean on the table; the plastic is warm and soft in the sun. My bangles rattle against the side and I adjust the leather cuff, so the scars don’t show. “Let’s move you.” I pull her chair closer to mine. It slides easily, her little body so light. “You’re in the sun.”  

We watch the families walk their dogs, ride their bikes, picnic on the green lawns.

Carol comes back carrying two drinks and has both our files squashed under her arm. The files are thick, brown manilla, and tatty at the edges. We’ve been in the system for a while, but Carol is new. All fresh and chipper and determined to make a difference.

“Let me get that for you.” I rise and reach for the drinks and files, but I’m too late. The files spill. Our lives flutter around in whirlwind of pink court notices and official documentation weighed down by important stamps and decisions made on our behalf.

We scurry across the ground, catching flapping papers.  I don’t even try to look at what it says. I know the story.

At least Carol got a us a placement together. We’ve been separated three times. I’ll do whatever I need to do, but they have to keep us together. I made so many promises to the Connors.

“What’s a d-e-l-i-n-q-u-e-n-t?” Lise asks sounding out the foreign word letter for letter on the paper she picked up.

I catch Carol’s eye and I take the document from her, relieved to see it was dated three years ago. I’ve been on the very straight and very narrow since. We can’t get separated again. “That’s a big word. Good spelling.” I ruffle her hair. “It’s a kid who doesn’t behave.”

“Is that what they say about me?” Her little lip trembles.

“Of course not, kiddo. That was me when I had trouble controlling my temper, remember? It wasn’t so great.” I try to make light of it.

“But you’re better now, right? You’re keeping it together? You said.” She tugs the pull tab on her cooldrink can.

“You know it.” I take the wrapper off her straw and hand it to her.

“I can do that on my own. I’m not a baby anymore.” She aims and sticks the straw in the opening first go to prove her point.

“I know, you’re seven now.” I tease.

She grins and it is infectious, even Carol cracks a smile. That’s good.

“You think she’ll remember?” Lise asks.

“Definitely” Carol says.

I shoot her a look. Freaking amateur. “I don’t know. We’ll have to see, won’t we?”

And then it happens. The explosion of energy. The loud squeals. “Darlings!” The clatter of her heels. The overpowering stench of stale cigarettes and the heavy cloying scent of cheap perfume accompany her arrival. She trails a bunch of helium balloons behind her. The Happy Birthday one slightly deflated. She bashes them out of the way. “Let me look at my girls.”

I hold back as she embraces Lise. I look at Carol who is watching the situation like a hawk. She’s so naïve.

“Happy birthday, my dear darling girl. These are for you.” Lise is engulfed by the bunch of balloons.

“Alice.” She holds out her hands to me. “Sweetheart.”

I sit down.

“What? No hug. Even after all this time.”

“Hello Mom.” I sit back in my chair. My most practised smile in place.  Carol is watching after all.

“You look beautiful, my dear.” She takes in my hair, I think it was pink last time. No nose ring. I clean up nice, but so does she. I know that under that clean white shirt and plain blue jeans are enough tattoos to fill a colouring book. Her forearms, covered now by the long sleeves, sport track marks about a mile wide, but as always to my mother; out of sight, out of mind. That was her parenting philosophy as well. Highs before cries. Especially the cries of her two young, starving children and eating the cereal box because the cereal ran out two days ago.

“Ali, look what Mom got me.” She holds up a thin chain, it glints in the sun. A small crucifix. Lise doesn’t remember. But I do. I remember the drugs, the men, the time I had to hit the one guy with a bat because he tried to climb into our bed.

The crucifix is still swaying. We’ve done Yoga and most Eastern rhetoric. We’ve had full-blown atheism. She’s tried kabbalah and tarot. There was even a Feng shui-can-cure-my- addiction phase, but good old Christianity seems to win again.

They babble. Carol is taken in by my mother’s clever stories. Listening to her new plan.

“Yes, darlings. Listen to me.” Ali leans forward eager. I raise my brows. “I just can’t wait anymore. I want my girls back. This time”, she takes deep breath, “this time I can do it. Reverend Charles is such a kind man. He’s been helping me…”

There it is. The man. Always a man. She keeps talking. Reverend Charles, Yogi Ravi, the psychiatrist with the nice couch, the healer with the wandering hands. We’ve had them all. Carol looks like she’s buying into it with almost as much enthusiasm as Lise. Lise tries to tell her about school, about her friends, but quickly we circle back to Reverend Charles.

“Isn’t it time we start heading back?” I look at my watch.

“Oh goodness, yes. I promised you’d be home by dinner,” Carols says and then scrambles to get her stuff together.

My mother presses her lips. A tell-tale gesture of her irritation, but Carol doesn’t see. She wouldn’t know what to look for. The signs of a junkie getting itchy.

We say good bye. My mother kisses the air around my head and whispers, “Soon, my girl.”

“Sure”, I say.    

I take Lise’s hand and she skips down the sidewalk, crucifix bouncing around her neck, trailing limp helium balloons.

“Well, that was fun.” Carol says. She digs in her bag for car keys. Our files still a jumble in her hands.

“She remembered.” Lise says to me with a big, gap toothed smile.

“Of course, she did. I told you she would.” Carol finally gets the door of the old station wagon open and grins triumphantly at Lise.

Lise pauses, her balloons swaying in the breeze. “Mom says a lot of things that don’t always work out. You can’t believe her.” She tugs the balloons, stuffs them in the car and gets in.

Carol stares at me across the roof of the car. It hurts more than I thought it would, but I’m relieved that Lise has figured it out. All on her own. I didn’t have to explain it. 

“I…” Carol tries to speak, her jaw works, but no sound comes out.

I almost feel sorry for her. “Don’t worry”, I say, “she fools most people.”

Here is the third prompt for the 2019 challenge:

12 Short Stories Challenge: Prompt For Third Short Story

Top Tip: Find out more about our Writing Courses. If you want to learn how to write a short story, join us for Short Cuts in Johannesburg or sign up for our online course.

 by Mia Botha

If you enjoyed this post, you will love:

  1. No One Can Know – Submit Your First Short Story Today
  2. Poetry 101: Kinds Of Poems – Free Verse
  3. Poetry 101: Kinds Of Poems – The Sonnet
  4. Poetry 101: What Is A Poem?
  5. Welcome To The 12 Short Stories Writing Challenge For 2019