For the fourth annual virtual Holidays with Hemingway party, the Hemingway Society once again sponsored a writing contest. Participants were asked to write a vignette (much like the interchapters in In Our Time) on a theme related to Hemingway, the holidays, or both. Blog advisory board members Nissa Ren Cannon, Marcos Antonio Norris, and Katie Warczak judged the submissions. Below are the winning entries.
1st place, Larry Belcher
At dawn the following morning I walked toward the Plaza del Castillo, skirting the fortifications on the northern periphery of the city. Across the plateau, mist was in the mountains. It would be clean and cool and simple there and I imagined the hollow whisper of the cold wind as it came down the mountain, driving the mist through the pass above Roncesvalles.
In the plaza, grey-uniformed riot police had established a line of defence along the southern perimeter.
The café awnings were rolled back, the doors and windows were shuttered. Yesterday’s newspapers fluttered and crackled in the wind.
The fiesta was finished.
In front of the Café Iruña Matt was staring at a chair painted white to look like wicker and broken at one leg. A fiesta program had blown against the chair and wrapped around the splintered leg.
“It’s cancelled, Matt.”
“Yes, it’s cancelled like everything else in Pamplona. The encierros are cancelled, the corridas are cancelled.”
“Frenchy is cancelled, too,” I said. “A rubber bullet bounced off the Hemingway statue and took out an eye.”
We stood contemplating the program. Then I said, “Coffee, Matt?”
“The coffee is cancelled. I told you, everything in this town is cancelled.”
The program rippled in the chill morning wind, slipped free, and was blown across the square.
The fiesta was finished.
2nd place, Eric J. Tidd
Nick and Rinaldi crouched in their muddy trench under heavy fire throughout the night. It took all day to take the hill. Only the strongest horses could pull the carts, loaded down with supplies from the other carts that lay stuck miles down the road. It took a long time to make that hill, and now it was late, and they were tired, and nervous, and laying low in the foul stench of the sludge as they took cover from the gunfire that seemed to come for hours. Nick heard Rinaldi praying, and then he heard nothing, and then, quietly at first, he heard voices, singing voices. Listening closer he could make out the music, but not the words. It was "O Holy Night" coming from the distance, in German. No gunfire, just the wind carrying these angelic lyrics from the other side of the barbed wire, growing louder as everything else went quiet. Then, from his own trench were the voices in English, then Italian and Russian, lifted up and carried by the wind. Nick looked at his watch, it was midnight on Christmas Eve, and for a brief moment there was peace on earth.
3rd place, Anonymous
The Start of Something
“It’s good to see you again, Brett,” I said as she stopped by my hospital bed. “It always makes me happy.”
“Jake, you’re too kind. It makes me happy just to hear you say that.”
“Well, you wouldn’t know I was happy otherwise,” I laughed looking down at my sheets. She blushed and stifled a laugh.
“Jake, you have a great sense of humor even about this. I really do feel badly about what happened to you. It’s not fair.”
“It’s not fair to you either,” I said smiling.
“I can only imagine.” Brett wrinkled her eyes at me.
“Please do.” Now we were both laughing. The charge nurse looked up from across the room with a disapproving look at Brett.
“Jake, you’re going to get me in trouble!”
“I don’t think I can get you in trouble,” I said. “Look at my chart.”
“Oh, don’t be an ass. You know what I mean.”
We talked for a while about the war, home, faith, what we dreamed life would be like when it was all over. She was a V.A.D. so she didn’t have the nursing qualifications to do much other than keep us soldiers company and provide us with something to hope for. She did a fine job of that.
“I suppose I should let you see other patients?”
“You know, I’ll never understand why you keep letting me go, Jake.”
“It’s so you can come back.”
“You have me there. I’ll see you tomorrow, Jake. This was fun.”