I actually entered the last 3 minute fiction contest as a challenge to myself. The challenge was to submit a short story in the form of a voice message. (web site:
The winner was very inventive. She realized that the voice message did not have to be from the recipients point of view. Instead, she wrote a story with the many recording and re-recordings of someone trying to frame a very personal message. The re-recorded nature helped to give the story a feeling of progression and movement. When I review my own story now, it just lays there. Lesson learned. Here is the link to the winning story. And my lame story follows.
Stardust or History
Jennifer --It’s Kai. Are you there?
I know that you told me to call you before I left. And I know that you did not mean at two a.m. when you are still at work--even though you’re probably packing up by now. I know why you wanted me to call; so that you could talk me out of what I’ve already decided to do. By the time that you get this I am stardust or maybe I am waking up in first century Rome. The experiment would have worked.
You want to demand why. Maybe you’ve dragged your coat back on and grabbed your wallet, your keys. Stop, listen.
The Institute insisted that I study both Latin and Greek because no cultured person spoke only Latin. I did it, sitting in those old wooden student desks in a dusty room without a hint of Adderall or even coffee. Every evening, I worked pine splinters out of my thighs; every morning, the caffeine withdrawal was a wooden stake between my eyes. Ironically, I still don’t know how either Latin or Greek was actually pronounced at that time.
It was you who taught me how to weave, and I wove my own cloth. I studied many a book of costumes, made my patterns, and sewed my robes by hand. I have the wounds to prove it. There is silver and gold worked into the fabric and I am taking an extra roll of it along. I am to be a merchant’s daughter.
This is a one way trip. Stardust or history.
Professor Enitan will play the part of my father, the merchant. He has the harder task, of course. We are in hope that people will forgive his poor ability to speak the language because of his obvious foreignness. There were African traders in Rome at the time, but most of them were from the conquered territories that they called Libya. We shall be from the Kingdom of Meroe which Rome did not know. Everything depends on Enitan’s ability to blend into the Forum Magnum as a proper tradesmen. I am, I know, only a bargaining chip. He will not sell me but it is possible that he may negotiate position by marrying me to another trader.
I can see you, standing stunned as you hear this. That I would agree to be traded away like a brood mare to advance a historical experiment. Are you the same woman that insisted that I read Jane Austen? That I take heed of a woman’s place in the world and the way she can control her own destiny? Enitan has promised that I have approval rights. I laugh when I imagine some Italian-American congratulating himself that he is descended from Hannibal when it is only the genes of a grad student from Alabama that he has detected.
If you’re in the bedroom, the only light is a spear of yellow sodium from the lamp post that you petitioned for. Because you didn’t feel safe, even on the north shore above New Orleans. You’re the reason why I chose library science. It was a safe choice for the future.
This is not safe. I don’t want to be safe any longer. This is more like those alternative tales of Genesis that you introduced me to. Where God destroyed hundreds of worlds because mankind remained childish and never grew up. In desperation, God plants a new tree in the center of Eden.
Tomorrow, go to the market and buy figs in my memory. I’ve left the garden. I plan to make my own future.