Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Note: This is an excerpt of my short story that won first prize in the 2012 Miami University Women's History Month Writing Contest. I am considering this for later publication, which is why you just get the snippet. I apologize for being a tease. 

Ernest Hemingway


"Are you sure?" Linda asked as she collapsed into the over-sized leather chair, the cell phone gripped tightly in her hand and her heart pounding as if it were trying to escape from her chest. "Yes. Yes. It is a huge find," she said. She reached up with her free hand, massaging her temple as she wondered why this news, which was monumental, had her so conflicted and stressed. "Thanks again, Jack. And remember, not a word. I have to think about how to best share this." She thanked him again and stabbed the End Call button before dropping the phone on the side table. Her eyes, a rich brown that almost perfectly matched the mahogany decor throughout her beloved personal library, settled on a framed and signed picture of Ernest Hemingway that presided over the room from above the stone mantle of the fireplace. "Tricks, indeed, Mr. Hemingway.” Once she had calmed her racing heart and considered her options, she picked up her cell phone again and punched in some numbers.

"Hello? Mike? I need your help. I need you to write something for me."


The sound of a car growling its way down her gravel drive shook her from her thoughts. She stepped away from the fireplace with a parting glance at the Hemingway print and went to meet her guest. The knock came just as she reached the front door, and she pulled it open, startling her visitor.

"Good God, Linda. Way to give a guy a heart attack," Mike said. His words were offered with a smile, but the smile broke when he saw her face. "What's wrong, chickadee?" He stepped across the threshold and shrugged the strap of his leather messenger bag more securely upon his shoulder. When she closed the door, he wrapped his arm around her and urged her back down the hall towards the library.

She didn't immediately respond. Stunned. Confused. Worried. Ecstatic. Conflicting emotions slithered through her consciousness, all vying for dominance. Only after they had reached the room that she had once called her "sanctuary built of stories and dreams," did she feel some of her anxiety lessen and found herself finally able to speak. "Pour me a whiskey, please, and a drink for yourself. We're going to need it."

He raised a thick brow at her remark, but didn't question it. She knew he wouldn't. He was one of the few people that understood her. One of the few people that understood that she always spoke in her own time and in her own way. As he went to the wet bar to make their drinks, she settled back into the worn leather chair and watched him. It was better than watching Hemingway stare down at her, or at the letter, encased in museum-grade protective plastic, resting innocently on the coffee table. Mike always seemed to have a smile on his face. She needed that. He was also one of the best and most respected journalists that she knew. She needed that as well. If this find was going to go public, the best chance it had to be taken seriously was if Mike wrote its story.

He returned with the drinks and handed one to her before easing comfortably into the matching chair next to hers. She took a sip of the whiskey and shuddered, her face screwing up in distaste; the first taste was always the worst. Once it had burned a trail from her mouth to her stomach, she took another drink. This one she was able to savor. She knew that Mike was watching her and waiting, but there was no easy way to reveal that an icon like Hemingway was not the person that the world had believed him to be. You might as well have said that you had irrefutable proof the Bible was false. This was not going to be an easy revelation to unveil.
She sat her glass down on the side table and then reached out to claim the letter from the coffee table. Mike watched her precise movements and knew that she was ready. He pulled a digital recorder from his bag, turned it on, and set it on the arm of his chair. She offered him a tentative smile and then said, "Let me tell you a story.”

(Excerpt End)


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