With all the great submissions in the 2008 Voice writing contest, the judges had their work cut out for them! The decisions are now in and we’re pleased to announce that the winners are:
Fiction ? ?Snowmaggedon? by Pamela Wagner
Non-Fiction ? ?Shut My Mouth? by Adam Thackeray
Each of the winners will receive one 3-credit Athabasca University undergrad course. And, of course, the thrill of seeing their name in print!
This week, we bring you the winning fiction entry, ?Snowmaggedon? (graphics have been added by The Voice). In evaluating this piece, judges remarked that ?it is graceful and compressed, like poetry, highly suggestive in relevant ways related to a central situation and image.?
We hope you enjoy it. You can read the winning non-fiction entry, ?Shut My Mouth? by Adam Thackeray, in next week’s issue. Thanks to the judges for their contribution of time and energy, and all the wonderfully creative writers who submitted their work!
Buried . . .
I try to open my eyes. Useless. There is a weight above, cold all around. What is the last thing I remember? Trying to think forces me to stay awake. Where am I?
Think. I stopped at a field to walk in the snow. It was gently snowing then.
Snow. Is that what is pressing down on me? Am I buried in snow? Did I tell my husband where I was going? Of course not; I never do. I just go.
Buried. Alive. Cold. Will they find me in t?
Swirling, swooshing. The toboggan zooms down the hill.
I love watching the kids play while I drink my hot coffee. Holding the cardboard takeout mug in my mittened hands warms me. Seeing the steam escape reminds me of the stove, warmth. I’m cold.
A scream: ?Mummy, Terry fell.?
I toss the coffee, half full, into the garbage can, and take off in a run to rescue.
A giggle: ?Never mind, he’s just covered in snow.?
The laughter reassures me. But damn, I lost my coffee. Never mind, Terry and Tanya, playing together like I want them to, at least for today.
?We don’t have your bags.? That’s all she said.
?What do you mean none of the bags can be unloaded? The flight has been cancelled. I want my bags right now!?
?Sir, do not take that tone of voice with me. Homeland Security is just over there and I can have you arrested. Get back in line. Now. I will deal with you when it is your turn.?
And so he got back in line. And he did not get his bags. And although his flight was grounded because of the snowstorm, his luggage went on a trip.
The first place was sunny and warm. The bags soaked up the heat on the tarmac. They got to know a bag from California. They had a lot in common: they were both green and extremely large. They liked that there were other bags like them. Most of the luggage had wheels and a pull arm for easy moving. It was comforting to know they were not alone.
The next plane took them across the continent to the ocean. The winds whipped them, the snow flew hard. They were covered with ice and although they were sturdy bags, they felt vulnerable. And cold. And they had to wait for a very long time.
When they finally got back to Buffalo, they were exhausted but they had had an adventure of a lifetime. Now they have to wait again to be picked up. Sigh.
But what a trip!
We don’t think about them much when there is a snowstorm?the ones without a home. There are wind chill warnings: schools and government buildings are opened up for them to get shelter. But some don’t want that. They are on the street, and they stay that way.
Lana patrols, looking for the ones who have refused to find a warm place for the night; but no matter how experienced she is, she doesn’t find them all.
They are lost in the night, in the snow, in the cold.
Robbie rubs his hands to get them warm over the burning garbage can.
?Hey, get back, man, we all need some of that!? someone shouts at him.
?Fuck you,? he says. And then again, ?Fuck you! Fuck you! Fuck you!? Robbie likes the way the words come off his tongue. He loves the power the words evoke.
But others like the words too. ?No?Fuck you!? And someone smashes him away from the fire, the light. He twirls away into the night. He runs blindly for awhile, then bumps into Lana.
?Where you been, Robbie??
?Have you seen anyone else??
It is so quiet outside. No one shovelling yet, no cars barrelling down the street. The wind is whipping up too much and the snowplows haven’t even begun to come down this street. Martha doesn’t mind. She is safe inside her warm home, the maid gone to bed, the grandchildren unable to visit because of the snow.
She stares out the window, the fire reflected in the window. The lights on the Christmas tree blink. It is silent. The only sound is the crackling of the logs. She loves this time?when the world stops for a few moments and she is alone, warm, cozy, inside her castle.
I’m a rinky dinky snowman.
And I wear a purple hat.
I have a rinky dinky carrot nose.
And that my friend is that.
What do you expect? I’m a snowman?not a poet. Snowperson really. Everyone thinks all the snowpeople are snowmen. didn’t think snowpeople could be feminists eh? Well, I am. Not that I know my sex. I could be male or female. But I don’t care.
All I know is this is my time. The harder it snows, the longer I stay. The cold doesn’t bother me. I long for the cold and snow like people long for warmth.
I have no choices though. People do. They can get warm whenever they like. Me. I can’t stay this way when the sun comes out and begins to melt me. It’s too late. And then I’m gone.
But for now, I stay.
For the day.
No one expects a healthy group of young men in their prime to die when they are not in combat. Having fun. Enjoying themselves. Innocent.
That morning, 11 of them went out to snowmobile. An old sport, made sexy by equipment, and daring. The avalanche conditions were rated as considerable. Not a dangerous designation?just cautionary. But they had no fear. They could handle it.
They had been making circles, chasing one another, whooping it up. The wall of snow awed them. They stopped for a moment to admire the majesty of it.
But when they revved up their engines, a cloud passed over the sun. Just for a moment. And someone got stuck, calling out to the others.
Perhaps That’s what brought down the first avalanche.
No one really knows. Not the eight who are dead. And not the three who lived. Their memories are sketchy. Their minds come back to the moment when they decided to leave, after the second avalanche. When they had to flee for their own lives.
They had to leave their friends behind. How do you make such a choice? To stay. Or to protect yourselves? To give up on friends, people who are closer to you than family. They were young and invincible. Full of hope, new life, relationships, marriages, love, children. Full of the future.
. . . Alive
He tunnels through the snow. He’s never seen snow before. He loves the feel of the cold against his coat. Leaping up, ears flapping, snow flying, to tunnel once more.
He never tires. Through the field, through the snow where no one has stepped. The snow is virgin, fresh, there is nothing here but him and the snow.
His owner watches from the truck. He keeps it running to stay warm.
A car slows down and stops. The police officer says, ?Hey, that dog sure likes the snow.?
?Yup, he does.?
?We’ve had a bit of a problem here.?
The owner tightens up. Has he been doing something wrong?
?A woman is missing in the snow.?
They notice at the same moment that the dog has stopped tunnelling and is now digging furiously.
The two men rush out of their vehicles, doors bang loud in the still air. When they get there, they see her. The woman buried in the snow three days ago.
?We found her,? the police officer says into his radio.
She is now unburied. Alive.