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Mini Sledgehammer: St. Johns

The second Mini Sledgehammer was another resounding success. Thank you to Nena at St. Johns Booksellers for hosting it and to all the writers who participated!

Our 36-minute writing contest prompts were:
a car salesman
a snowboard
“This weather’s got everybody…”

Karen Hixson took home the prize with this story:

It was difficult for her to leave the garage. It was a sort of sanctuary for her. A place without noise or awkwardness, much different than that of the main house. The tension among them was thick. She kicked her way through it to make space for herself, her experience…her feelings. Her family openly hated how, at times, she made her feelings bigger, like a balloon found at the check out line, just to be seen. They popped in the same way: loudly, quickly and without warning.

She made a spot for herself in the corner among all the junk that inhabited the space. She found herself organizing the license plates on the wall, a sort of wallpaper, leftover from her stepfather’s stint as a car salesman. Somehow, it was easy for her to appreciate the license plates: simple, flat and known. Something she could count on that wouldn’t flex with the passing time. He reluctantly allowed her to move her room to the garage.

She made her way through the piles. Garbage bags filled with outdated clothes, boxes of Christmas ornaments-also outdated, some camping equipment and her brother’s snowboard. It reminded her of their trip to the Poconos a couple months back. What a train wreck of a family trip. Jerry, her brother, snuck some George Dickel into his Sigg bottle and was feeling fine before they arrived. He wanted to preempt the expected discomfort. She was jealous of his forethought.

It was their final trip together as a family. After an obligatory dinner in the garish lodge, she retreated to a quiet corner to read her book. She looked around. The lodge was filled with people who were talking to each other, large pitchers of beer in hand, looking carefree, with pink cheeks. Having escaped from their lives in the small towns and somewhat larger towns that surrounded the mountains, they all appeared transformed, a different version of themselves. She spent a long time watching them.

The snow fell outside. It made everything seem different somehow. A boy just about her age plopped down beside her and said, “This weather has got everyone in total denial.”

“No shit,” she said.

©  2009 Karen Hixson


2 Responses

  1. Brilliant! I love the bit about big feelings & the balloon. Also, the end is awesome. Great story, K.H.!

  2. Terrific writing Karen! Love it!

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