Dear Miss Snark:
Below you will find my fiction submission for ---------. I'm grateful to ----------- for suggesting you.
This submission is relatively short, not quite 3000 words. (you're saying the same thing twice) Writing it was a very emotional experience, but I'm not so emotional that you can't tell me to go fly several kinds of kites and write something else. (you can take all this out too)
This has also been submitted to one of your on-line competitors. I'm sorry for the multiple submission, but I didn't know you were taking submissions when I sent it to Literary Mama.
(Take out everything in blue)
The working title of this piece is Long Good B'ye. It's had other titles, none of them quite satisfactory. You have my permission, should you need it, to re-title it as you wish. (put the title at the top, no permission to re-title needed, and no commentary either)
You also have my permission to change my occasional odd spelling into good American English. I live in the USA and was born here, but I grew up with these spellings. I suppose that by now I should have changed to more suitable spelling, but I'm a very hard to change person.
(permission to edit is a given, but this is one of those factoids that people will either find charming or annoying)
OK, the cover letter gave me zippo info that entices me to read the story. If the only thing I saw was the cover letter, I'd say no, cause there's no reason to say yes.
Long Good BÂye
I am, for a moment, a child again. I feel the same reluctant sleepiness, the same dull-witted obedience to kind but insistent commands to dress, and I feel the same excitement. Why this is true I do not know. My grandparents are dead. They wonÂt be there, and IÂll miss them.
We sip coffee in Aunt ShirleyÂs cluttered sitting room. Seashells, common and exotic, cover the top of an old, battered Queen Ann (Anne) table. A baby quilt dated 1910 in embroidered stitches is neatly folded and placed with studied casualness on an old chest.
I sit across from a print of children playing in the sand. The original is a famous painting, but I canÂt remember the artistÂs name. ItÂs a woman artist. I know it is. But names escape me. Not remembering is disconcerting, but I shrug it off.
Outside itÂs still bluish-black and quiet. We talk. In another age one would have written, "we talked of inconsequentials." We are avoiding the words, "Good bÂye."
I dress sleeping and reluctantly roused children. My twelve-year old begs for more sleep. She plops herself on her granduncleÂs lap and buries her face in his shoulder. I see the pain in his eyes. In her uncle sheÂs found a kindred spirit, and he found one in her. Some but not all of his tears are from arthritis, but he wonÂt shoo her off.
"YouÂre hurting your uncle. Get off the poor man," I say.
She obeys but hot happily. She sits next to her aunt and snuggles sleepily.
The car is packed. Raised eyebrows ask if IÂm ready. IÂm not, but I say, "We better go." And as an afterthought I add, "ItÂs a long trip."
We all know this, and I feel silly for saying it.
I donÂt drive. A slowly dying mind makes driving unsafe. When I was a child I found a place in the back on the passenger side. Annalise would be on the back driverÂs side and the smaller of we girls in the centre. Anna and I served as security blankets and pillows to smaller sisters. Now I sit in the front, and I feel the same drowsy satisfaction as when I was a child.
It seems strange to describe a journey as having legs. But, if journeys have legs, this oneÂs first is from Aunt ShirleyÂs to the Columbia River.
When I was small, this stretch was a paved trail, a wagon road turned by the magic of asphalt into a highway. It twisted its way along a desert canyon floor. I would try to sleep. If I didnÂt, by the time we reached Plymouth Father would be desperately trying to find a place to stop before I threw up. Now it runs in multi-lane splendor on the high ridge, and it is straight and true.
I try to see traces of the old road. I get one glimpse of crumbled asphalt preserved as a bed of black gravel on the canyon floor below.
There was once a ferry at Plymouth, and on the ferry road there was an abandoned house. I used to wonder about the house and those who lived in it. I wondered why they left it. The house is gone now, and the town persists as a name, a few buildings and a trailer. We pass it at speed and high on an artificial ridge. Instead of crossing on a ferry with water lapping at our tires, we cross a bridge the sides of which almost hide the river from view. Neither do we pass through the little town on the riverÂs far bank, though the road used to go that way.
(and here would be commentary)
Notice all the weird punctuation?
That's your auto-format kicking in.
You'll have to reset it but it's going to make me a whole lot happier not to have to manually take out every "smart quote" in the piece.
This also has 814 words on my word count so it would be DQ'd