Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Second Place Winner in The Pen & Muse Romantic Short Story Contest, Susan Blexrud

Susan Blexrud was the second place winner in the short story contest for the blog.
She was in the published author category!
Check out the winning excerpt below for Three-Toed Annie!
Please be sure to catch more of Susan's work at Dark Castle Lords.
Please be sure to watch the blog for upcoming review and interview
for The Necklace!

Three- Toed Annie


Chapter One

Grabbing my second cup of coffee in the teacher’s lounge, I curse under my breath as liquid splatters papers in my rush to get to class before the bell. Doesn’t look good for the teacher to be later than the students at Carolina Academy. No contest there. Jack and Ilene, notoriously arm-in-arm, saunter in just as the bell sounds. Jake executes his traditional pants hike before collapsing in his third row seat.

“Good morning, ladies and gentlemen,” I say, though the term is loosely applied. Wait, that’s unfair. These are terrific kids. A few spoiled brats in the pack, but all-in-all, bright and alert. It’s my job to keep them stimulated, and isn’t history the most stimulating subject of all?

“Where were we? Ah, yes, D-Day on Omaha Beach. Who can tell me how many Allied ships landed that day?” I scan the room for a show of hands and decide to call on Marie. The pop quiz I’d given yesterday revealed that Marie thinks Hitler was the 32nd President of the United States, so while FDR rolls over in his grave, I decide to give her a chance to redeem herself. “Marie?” She begins rifling through her text for the answer.

“Yes, ma’am, Miss Callahan, I know right where that answer is.” She continues to rifle. Luck, it would seem, is on her side because as her search ensues, the fire alarm sounds, and we’re instructed via intercom to file—calmly—out of the building. My class of eighth graders bolts, and I close the classroom door, only to turn and face cute Mr. Browder, the adorable Latin teacher I’ve had a humongous crush on for the past three months.

“Your class defines ‘calm’ the same as mine,” he remarks, nodding at the flurry of students elbowing each other out of the way as they race down the stairs. The boys love these frenzies, which provide an opportunity for anonymous groping and pinching. I’m pretty observant, however, and I make a mental note of the offenders.

Tongue-tied as usual in Mr. Browder’s presence, all I can do is nod back at his remark…and smile. I guess that provides enough of an opening.

“Say,” he begins, “I was wondering if you might like to go out sometime, like this Saturday?”
Did he say what I thought he said? My tongue gets caught somewhere behind my palate, and I swallow hard to dislodge it.

Rather than wait for my response, he continues. “I’m playing rugby at Martin Luther King Park at three. Maybe you’d like to watch some of the game, and then we can go from there?’ He takes my elbow, and we begin the treacherous walk down the stairs. Earth to Annie—this IS a fire drill.

“Um, sure,” I say and then add, “but I’m going to Mass at five. I’ve been a sloth about attending church. Haven’t been for ages, and I promised my mom I’d go on Saturday.”
“Where would that be?”

“The Basilica downtown,” I say, “so we’d be close.” I manage to get down the stairs without catching my cuffed slacks in my loafers, miracle of miracles. If there’s ever a time I need to be steady, this is it.

“You’re a kneeler, eh?” He doesn’t exactly recoil, but I detect a whoosh of air between us.
“Anything wrong with that?”

He laughs. “Absolutely not, if you buy the whole ‘deadly sins’ thing. My entire family’s Catholic. I never heard the end of it from my mom when I stopped going to church. She still winces about it.”

“Mothers. Mine still treats me like I’m five.”

We’re outside now, rubbing our arms and testing the temperature of the air with our breaths. November has already provided a dusting of snow in Asheville, and promises of a White Christmas are just around the corner.


  1. Congratulations, Susan. Your excerpt was vivid and enjoyable. I could feel the cold! Best of luck with your writing.

  2. Congratulations Susan! Wonderfully written excerpt and I'm sure the rest of the story was just as nice. Good luck with your writing!

  3. Susan's work was great. I'm happy that she won!

  4. Thanks so much for your comments. I had fun writing this story, which will be included in a DCL print anthology entitled 7 Deadly Sins. My sin is sloth, hence Three-Toed Annie. Must admit that I didn't know anything about sloth when I was given the assignment by my publisher, so my first task was to research the sin. Now, I'm an expert! LOL!