We asked you to send in a thought provoking story in a maximum of 750 words excluding the title and we had some great submissions. Thank you to all who entered but here are the winners names and the overall winning submission.
1st Prize: £150.00 J. Bevan
2nd Prize: £100.00 Michelle Cross
3rd Prize: £75.00 Hannah Smith
by J Bevan
Every time I saw her smug face I had to fight the urge to slap it. Maddie tore around the workplace like she owned it, shuffling paperwork and sighing in an exaggerated way if someone had dared to file something incorrectly. She liked a clear desk policy, I didn’t. In her eyes, she was better than the rest of us mere mortals. We were a small team and everyone seemed to like her bar me. Fine, she had aspirations, she wanted to have a career and was determined to get to management status, but in my mind, that was why she was so bitter. She needed someone who could soften those edges and bring out the woman in her. But no-one would dare to come close especially while she dressed 20 years older than she really was.
I sighed. I felt angry with myself for letting her annoy me so much. My resolution to be kind to her, to be accepting, well, it was just not working. I realized that even on New Year’s Eve when the clock chimed midnight, I had been holding back on my urge to throttle her. She was everywhere. Flitting from person to person, her sweaty, beaming face gazing up at everyone, big cheesy grin in place, I felt she was my shadow and the moment I turned my back, she was there, invading my life.
I even took my headphones to work and listened to a relaxation app in the staff room at lunch times, trying so hard to let go of the aggrieved knot that fermented in my solar plexus. Just when I thought I had found my elusive inner peace, I would open my eyes and see her round, red face staring at me kindly. Whoosh, my agitation would rise again.
Even walking home from work, I could feel her eyes boring into my back, and I lengthened my stride, glad that she couldn’t keep up with me. I didn’t want to be her friend, I didn’t want to talk girl talk, we had nothing in common, the best I could do with my resolution was not to throttle her and I couldn’t even hold out much hope there. I could hear her footsteps speeding up but I was not in the mood, so turned away, taking the long way home. Peace, until the sound of children squabbling in a nearby garden made me smile, it was heated and noisy, but children had such an ability to forgive and forget, then the smile froze on my face as a distant memory hit me head on and it was like a jolt.
Being introduced to Maddie when I was only 11 years old. Hating her on sight. Hating the way my father made such a fuss of her as he flirted with her mom. Even now, bile threatened to rise as the flashbacks kept coming. I had known something wasn’t right at that time, enough to not be welcoming to them, and sure enough, my family unit crumbled. Maddie had wanted to be ultra friendly and called us sisters. I had vowed never to let that happen. Eventually she got the message that I would never accept her but, it just seemed to make her try even harder and my father to like her all the more. I felt ashamed. I was 25 now and was still determined to keep her on the outside of my family.
At least I realized why my resolution had broken down. I hadn’t been ready to move on. Just seeing those children in the garden had taken me back to where it had all began. I felt really guilty. How could a grudge last that long? It hadn’t been her fault that my family had broken up. We couldn’t be friends, not really, we didn’t have anything in common and I couldn’t promise to like her, but at least I could let go of the anger towards her and maybe that was a first step. I made a new resolution – this time to simply stop acting like a spoiled brat, she had tried to make the best of a bad situation, now I would simply have to make the best of it too.