Nathan here! Keeping up with Stupendously Ultimate First Paragraph Challenge tradition, I invited a special guest to announce the finalists. Please welcome Tom Wambsgans from HBO’s hit show “Succession.” No spoilers contained herein.
Wow. Uh, hi. Hello. Greg didn’t tell me I was going to do this. GREG! Why didn’t you tell me I had to do this, GREG?
Ha ha ha. Just kidding Greg, I won’t murder you until at least Season 4.
Well, it was such a pleasure reading these first paragraphs, I felt like I was eating gold caviar off the floor of a gleaming black yacht.
But holy cow, you all are a bunch of sickos! There’s so much death in these first paragraphs I thought I was on a Waystar cruise ship. I’m not going to lie, I kind of liked it!
One thing I couldn’t help but notice is that… one moment.
“What’s that, Honey Bunches of Oats with sugar on top?”
Sorry, Shiv is summoning me for her morning foot massage. I need to make this faster than Logan Roy’s first marriage. Wait. You’re going to tell him I said that are you? Please don’t tell him I said that.
First, congratulations to the honorable mentions! You all get 10 shares of Roystar Wayco stock, which will be worthless in no time at all due to the proxy battle! WELL DONE, guys!
Now let’s talk about voting. You are all members of the board, so if you’re ever in a hospital make sure to put Kendall Roy on the guest list.
In order to vote for the winner, please leave a vote in the comments section of this post. You will have until Tuesday, 7pm ET to vote. Do not email Nathan or any of the Roys with your vote.
There shall be no campaigning in private or public for yourself or your favorites, and suspicious voting may result in disqualification and being put in charge of the Cruises Department at Roystar Wayco.
Also: anonymous comments will not be counted. This is a board vote not something ghastly like American democracy. There must be an email address associated with your vote.
Now then. The five finalists are…
Every traveler has a favorite part of the route. Some admire giant gaseous spheres in red and yellow. Others delight in the blinding brilliance of not so distant stars. Although Konstance has only seen it twice, her preference is for cerulean seas as they angle to enter the atmosphere. The sea reminds her most of home—of salty air and human contact.
In the dawning pink light from the window, Javier Allende rests his pencil on the pine desk and reads his handwritten obituary. The swirls and loops of his handwriting reveal a journey he has traveled; a destination he feels prepared to meet. The feeling is nearly transcendental, as though he might be high above himself, staring down at the bald spot on his head. He folds his death notice twice and places it inside a pre-addressed envelope, dropping in a few pesos for publication costs. Sealing it, he sets the letter on the desk and looks down at the tan dog lying next to his lizard skin boots. The dog scratches itself; the odor of age wafts up from its hide.
We all begin in water, the warm slosh of the womb, but I believe it was the sea that gave me life, the frigid North Atlantic surrounding my island called Newfoundland, a jagged rock that rose from the depths into the cruel weather. My parents hailed from long lines of fisherfolk. My mother, a woman whose hands were rarely free from silver scales and slimy innards; my father, a man who lived his life combing the ocean for cod and died doing the same, he and his two brothers swallowed up by the icy black water when I was barely eleven. A tragedy in a town of six hundred souls, but hardly the first and certainly not the last seafaring misadventure to be borne. The sea takes what she will people were often heard to say. But before I knew loss, I knew only happiness.
She spotted the column of smoke just as the sun was setting. Airis sat up with a jolt as she rounded the bend and finally left the scraggly forests behind. Before her stretched the Frostbed valley. And there, nestled in the valley like a pearl in an oyster, was a collection of red-tiled rooftops surrounded by tall, forbidding walls of white stone and iron. “It’s really here.” She nudged her long-horned yak, Munch, with the toe of her boot as a delighted laugh bubbled out of her chest. Munch pricked his ears and lifted his shaggy head higher. She’d found the impossible village of Darfas. It was even inhabited; she could see shadows moving beyond the reinforced gates and hear the distant, unmistakable sounds of people going about their day – the tolling of the evening bell, the crackle of lightning being summoned to light the lamps. Despite the maps denying its existence, here was Darfas, living and breathing as surely as she did. Her father had been right after all.
Momma waved a hundred dollar bill before my eyes–the cash we got for Brown Betty, our station wagon that coughed us into Seattle. Brown Betty died in Washington after moving us from California to New Mexico to Wisconsin to Mississippi, then Alabama and several states in between. Now, if Momma wanted to move again, it’d be up to the rain to float us away.
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G.E. Sevenau says
Marci Whitehurst…and pretty bummed I only got to read the first paragraph. Hope to read the rest of it soon.
Well done and good luck to all!
These are all winners but since I can only pick one, Bobbi’s grabbed me the most. I’d love to read more if this story.
Elizabeth Illig says
Congrats to all the finalists! My vote is for KS Karamchandani. I love the last line.
My vote is for Carrie Keyes.
All of them were fantastic! My choice came down to Carrie and Jessica L. as they both invited me into their world and made me want to read on. Well done!
M. Chazel says
I had two that make me want to keep reading and I had to pick Karamchandani! I like the descriptive details that accomplish a lot in tight but great prose — introduce character, orient me to setting, and a glimpse of the problem.
Eva Eden says
When writing draws me in without the subject being ‘entertaining’, then something is going on that I want to know about.
Thanks for organizing the competition Nathan – good fun.
Bobbi for sure. Beautiful imagery.
Christine Farrell says
This paragraph made me want to read more!
Karl Bronk says
My vote is for Bobbi. A solid flow of thought, syntax, and feelings.
So thankful to be a finalist! Thanks everyone! Great work everyone!
Bonnie Denmark says
My vote is for Marci Whitehurst.
I can see why these all made finalists. They were all intriguing, but I’m a bigger fan of action than beautiful description. Marci told a ton of story in just a few words.