This time the inspirational passage was:
She sat in her favorite spot on the porch of the weathered beach house, the salty air sticking to her skin, the oncoming storm blowing sand across her bare feet. The crisp envelope bent beneath her fingers as she laid it on her lap, and reached for the pen in her dress pocket...
The winning entry, by Eric E. Wallace, actually took the form of a letter, and discussed the storm in the context of a relationship. Great line "I discovered that loneliness is most terrible when you're no longer alone."
In my entry, I tried to be a little aloof with the theme. It's hard to guess why I didn't win, but three things are prevalent when I review the piece.
- I had email formatting issues (dang it!).
- I could probably strengthen the ending.
- I could see how the intro might not work for some.
A cute little car parked in front of a cute little store. A woman popped out, wearing a cute little dress and cute little sunglasses. She carried a cute little Coach bag under her arm for the cute little canine she called Muffy. After a couple minutes, she came out of the store with a cute little cupcake and took a cute little bite. Then she walked back into the street and into the path of a not so cute and not so little garbage truck. So began the Cupcake Curse.
In the days following the garbage truck, three more customers met their untimely demise just moments after taking their first bite. One thought the flavor could make him fly. He was wrong. Another woman had taken hers home and had a nibble in the bathtub. Her euphoric excitement mortally tangled her in the shower curtain. Lastly, a lifelong bachelor finally experience true love and his heart just stopped.
The baker, Finnie Figgie was a gentle woman. She made butterflies jealous. She never thought her marketing slogan for her latest concoction would be so… accurate.
After just one bite, you will experience Heaven.
She pulled the deathly dessert from the shelf and vowed never to bake another.
Sandy Snood was the antithesis of gentle. She made bulldozers jealous. To Sandy, the curse was nothing more than uncanny coincidence. The problem she had was that because of this alleged curse, no one knew how good, or bad, the cupcake really was. Her reputation as queen of culinary critics demanded that no confection stand unqualified.
Sandy stormed into the bakery. She had expected another boutique bakery, with gimmicky cupcake names and dainty decorations, but Finnie’s was simple. No frills, just cupcakes. Even the cupcakes themselves weren’t anything overly special. You wouldn’t find a Curry Coconut Crème de Chocolate on this menu.
“Which is the cupcake that promises Heaven?” Sandy inquired.
“We have discontinued it, and if you wouldn’t mind these kind folks have been waiting patiently. I’ll get to you as soon as I can.” Finnie flashed a smile at Sandy.
“I do mind, and I don’t care if you have discontinued it. You will make one for me, or I will shatter the reputation of your tiny bakery.” Sandy threatened.
“You don’t have to raise your voice. I’m not concerned about my reputation anyhow. I just want to make cupcakes that put smiles on people’s faces.” Finnie replied.
“You will make it,” Sandy growled. “I won’t leave here without one.”
“Fine. If it will get you out of my store, I’ll make one.” Finnie acquiesced.
The cupcake was unassuming. It was a white chocolate cake crowned with vanilla buttercream. A gust of wind came though the open door, and stirred up the scent. It embraced Sandy like a grandmother she never knew. Her mouth began to water, and raindrops started a lazy splatter. The cupcake welcomed her fork without resistance as if it had been anticipating its silver curvature. The weightless morsel floated toward her. She opened her mouth to take a bite, and stopped.
She didn’t believe in curses. And Heaven? That was no more real than Santa’s workshop. So why was she afraid to eat this cupcake?
“Miss Figgie, I’d like to ask you something, do you believe in the Cupcake Curse?”
Finnie stopped what she was doing and sat next to Sandy. “Belief is a funny thing Miss Snood. I started this endeavor because I believed that it was what I was called to do. I felt that this was my gift, and in some small way I could bring peace to people’s souls. It might appear that death followed this particular cupcake, but who am I to decide when is the right time for someone to go? When the police arrived at the scene following the first death, they noted a suspicious figure in the surveillance footage. It turned out that the woman who died had a stalker who was moments away from abducting her. The family of the man who jumped out the window told me that they later received results from a doctor’s visit that indicated he had terminal cancer. Death can be merciful. I like to hope my cupcakes are more blessing than curse. What do you believe Miss Snood?”
“Your naiveté is endearing. Life is a storm we have to stare in the face. We can’t hope it away, or steer its course with wishful thinking. It will tear you down the instant it gets a chance. I don’t trust anything or anyone. I survive on skepticism and strength. And I don’t most certainly don’t believe cupcakes have any transcendent qualities.” She took a bite of the cupcake.
After a few seconds, Sandy took out her pen and wrote on her notepad. She ripped out two pieces of paper and stuffed each in its own envelope. She placed one in Finnie’s hands, and sent the other to the newspaper. She left the bakery in silence, pausing a moment to do something she hadn’t done since she was a little girl. She looked at Finnie and smiled.
No one ever heard from Sandy after that. Her legacy consisted of her last column that called Finnie’s bakery “Heaven on Earth” and her two word note to Finnie. I believe.