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On Later At The Neighborhood Pool:
Nestled on dead leaves in our lounge chairs, cigarettes cutting tracers across the moon, and you wouldn't look at me. I thought who are those guys from your old school, how well do you know them, but the answer wasn't something you could just hand to me. You smoked and watched the frozen water.
I am so sorry, I am so sorry, I am so sorry, I am so sorry. Erin? Erin? Please. Believe me. Listen. ...
On What I'll Be Doing Tonight:
First there's neighborhood trick-or-treating. Then the neighborhood party on the clubhouse deck beside the pool, Amstel Light and soda in an ice chest, burgers and dogs on the grill. Ours is an aggressively friendly neighborhood. Eleanor's dressing as a witch again this year. We chided her gently, asked wouldn't you like to be something new, but she insisted. The child loves those witches. You'd like her. She'd like you, too. After the party we'll help her count her candy, allow her just a few pieces before bed, then sit down to watch a horror movie, just the two of us. After the third time my wife falls asleep I'll tell her go on up and get the sheets warm, I'll tell you how it ends.
On the drive back after dropping you home I'd already decided that I didn't mean it. OK, that I'd give you another chance. So the assholes left a note on my windshield, that didn't mean you'd really done those things. And even if you had, I didn't really want to break up with you, only give you something to think about. Make you sweat it out a little, ha ha. I meant to call you, just as soon as I got a nap. My god, but I was still tripping hard. Were you?
On The Day Of The Dead:
I used to wonder what thoughts passed through your head as you lay bleeding to death on the bathroom tiles. The expected things, did you float up to the ceiling and look down upon your body, was there a great big old fucking light, dead Rover and total peace? I used to wonder would you come back and tell me if you could. For a long time I thought your ghost would haunt me literally. First I was afraid, then I invited it to. I really did. I talked to you night and day inside my head, just like this. But then you never came, so I stopped talking to you, hoping maybe silence would coax you out. Nothing. So when I put my daughter to bed, when I go down and open that box, that's your last shot. I'm just letting you know. ... Well look at me now, I'm driving and crying! Do you have any idea how funny that is?
On What The Box Contains:
A necklace, a mix-tape, pack of cigarettes, a bottle of Barton's Blue. We'll share a drink and step outside. ... A spiral notebook with song lyrics scrawled inside. Leave me to die, you won't remember my voice -- I walked away and grew old. Love letters coming apart at the creases.
On Coming To Terms, Or Redemption:
That is fiction.
Brett Bender reads "Siamese Twins."[mp3]
David Lee Simmons interviews Brett Bender. [mp3]
- Second place: "Resurgens Again," by Caroline Seton Ledlie
- Third place: "Terminus," by Elizabeth Rose Anderson
- Honorable mention: "Ignition," by Jed Brody
- Meet the judges
- Fiction contest party details