Collab is pleased to announce the winners of our 2012 Short Story Contest. We should start off by mentioning that although we had fewer entries for this contest than we had for the poetry contest, we had many entries earn high marks from our judges, and the bar has been set very high for our short fiction that we will be able to accept into this year’s magazine. An honorable mention to the following students whose stories made it to our final round of discussions: Marissa Coté, Katrina Gilstrap, Billy Restivo, Julia Roberto, and Samantha Rollins
Our winners this year were:
In third place, Melissa Sahagian’s December 26
Our runner-up this year was Shauntel Farland’s Darkest Night, an eerie piece about a boy trapped in a sinister and supernatural struggle.
And this year’s winner is Samantha Healey’s Wedding Bells, a wedding-day story that explores our own presumptions and biases. This story is impressive in its resonance, staying with the reader well after the final line.
All three winners should see Mr. Lally for their prizes.
Collab is currently running two writing contests at the moment, as well as our annual art contest. Details and deadlines can be found HERE
And now, in its entirety, Ms. Healey’s winning story.
“Don’t peek, its bad luck!”
Nathan rolled his eyes, but didn’t enter the room. “Isn’t that a myth? We aren’t exactly having a traditional wedding, you know.”
“We are,” Ali responded, “except we don’t have a priest, church, or parents.”
Out of their parents, only Nathan’s mother was attending. His father and both of Ali’s parents didn’t approve of the marriage, and they refused to go. It was upsetting, of course, but neither of them had been very shocked. They hadn’t been supportive when the two of them were dating either.
“Do you think it’s because my family’s poor?” Ali joked weakly, running two dainty hands over the white fabric, and knowing exactly why they wouldn’t go. The same reason some of their relatives and “friends” weren’t going either.
Nathan didn’t respond to that, but he could imagine Ali looking down, eyelashes fluttering.
“Are you ready?” He asked. “I have to get out there soon and your lovely maid of honor will kill me if she thinks I made you late.”
Ali snorted. “Tell her I would be on time if someone hadn’t abandoned me before she was done with my hair.”
“Sure thing, princess.” Nathan dashed away before Ali could demand that he stop using that nickname.
As Nathan entered the hallway, a blast of heat hit him full force, while his stomach simultaneously flipped. Ali’s room had been air conditioned, but the hallway revealed how hot of a day it actually was. Plus, without Ali right by his side, his nerves were skyrocketing. Sweat started to drip down the back of his neck, and he wiped it away with his handkerchief. Damn heat.
While he waited for the ceremony to start, he looked around the room. His mom sat in the front row, clutching a camera. She was wearing an outdated dark purple dress. The last time Nathan had seen her in a dress was her own wedding ceremony. Her hair was out of its usual ponytail and was delicately wrapped in a bun. She was even wearing makeup. Her expression was one of pure childlike excitement, and it calmed Nathan’s nerves considerably. His best man was standing beside her, talking and smiling.
It was strange to see her without his father accompanying her. He couldn’t help but wonder what he was doing at that moment. Reading the newspaper? Casually watching the news and eating a TV dinner? His own father was probably sitting at home, entertaining himself, on the biggest day of Nathan’s life. It was ridiculous. Aren’t parent supposed to be happy for their kids? I’m happy if you’re happy, that kind of thing? What kind of father abandons his child over something so stupid?
Nathan could remember when he was a young boy, playing with his father. He was Daddy’s little boy, and he thought that would never change. He’d perch eagerly by the window every single day, waiting for him to come home. And when he did, his father would always swoop him up into his arms and exclaim, “Have you grown since this morning?” Nathan would giggle and tell him all about his day, and how much he missed him.
Was that man gone forever?
No, Nathan didn’t think so. He still loved his younger sister Jennifer, who was currently chatting excitedly with the other bridesmaids. She was the good child, the obedient one. Daddy’s little girl. She wasn’t the one “acting out” and making a mess. Generational gap or not, Nathan didn’t think he could ever truly understand his father’s way of thinking. He didn’t do anything wrong, he wasn’t hurting anybody. Yet he was being shunned by one of the most important men in his life.
Some of the guests noticed him and waved. Aunt Beth was across the room trying to show little Jaime how to properly toss the flower petals. Jaime was very insistent that the proper way was to grab fistfuls and hurl them into the air. Nathan chuckled and checked his watch. They still had a few minutes before they started.
Nathan wiped his forehead, though his handkerchief was beginning to get damp. The hall was incredibly stuffy. Their wedding happened to be on one of the hottest, muggiest days of the summer. He would have to accept that his father was going to continue rejecting him. He had his mother and siblings, family and friends. He didn’t need his father’s approval to be happy, no matter how much he craved it on the inside. Nathan would never give him the satisfaction of telling him that, especially now. He would be the better man.
The pianist cleared his throat, and began to play softly. The guests rushed back to their seats, and Nathan pushed all thoughts of his father away. If he wasn’t even going to attend his son’s wedding, Nathan wouldn’t waste any time wishing he was there. He stood in his spot at the front, waiting for Ali to come out.
Since Ali’s parents weren’t attending, the walk down the aisle was done alone. Nathan grinned when Ali entered. Traditional was definitely not the word to describe the outfit – no veil, stiff white cloth with tiny silver flowers, no makeup, and a pixie blond haircut. Ali looked beautiful, and they were just beginning their life together. Nathan was about to become the luckiest husband in the world, tradition be damned.
They exchanged vows and slipped on their rings. Nathan held Ali’s hand, waiting eagerly for the words that would legally marry them.
“Now, Nathan James Thompson and Alexander Francis Donovan, I pronounce you married partners. You may kiss the groom.”
Nathan kissed him, grasping his suit, and they began to walk down the aisle together. They clasped each others hands as they walked, the guests clapping. They were side by side, both grinning, as they emerged from the building. Ali’s brilliant white suit looked even brighter next to Nathan’s black tux. Their guests showered them with rice as they descended down the steps, a perfect yin-yang.