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Mini Sledgehammer: Blackbird Wine Shop

Thanks to everyone who came out to Blackbird Wine Shop for this week’s Mini Sledgehammer. (By the way, Blackbird has agreed to host Mini Sledgehammers the second Tuesday of every month starting in May. Come challenge your inner scribe once a month!) Congratulations to Pamela Ivey, who won the evening’s event with the following story.

Prompts included:
a graphic designer
tracking a package
Yeah, I can believe that.
an art gallery

There’s a message from an unfamiliar number on my telephone.

I’m already feeling a little off-kilter, a little out-of-place, as I mill about glancing at paintings of teacups on tea-stained muslin, waiting to speak to the person I fervently hope will change my life. The walls of this small gallery seem somehow not true, a wonky perspective, but I’m no graphic designer although if that’s the only way to get my foot in the door I’ll say I aced my courses in InDesign and toss about terms such as kerning and gutters and maybe drop the name of Robert Rauschenberg. I’m pretending, desperately, but a job’s a job and I have a connection it’d be a shame to waste. If only she weren’t so late—

I’m edgy, and not even really sure why I’m here, after all. What’s to be gained by pretending I have I skill that I have not? Although, it’s true, I’ve had the classes, I can drop names, but was I ever skylarking and can’t claim mastery. Graphic design’s not what I want to do, anyway—and I doubt this crazy scheme will pull together—but it’s sure that I’m unraveling as I wait wait wait for this initial meeting to commence.

So I pop back out to the vestibule—there’s no one anywhere that I can see, although I was fifteen minutes early for this meeting. The scheduled time has come and gone and the chipper assistant who assigned me Miz Mills would soon be with me has eerily disappeared.

Fine. I’ll listen to this message, though I fear it’s merely some creditor calling to dun me—oh, I owe, I owe.

It’s FedEx.

A message from Federal Express, saying they must confirm my apartment number in order to deliver a package—but the name is one I haven’t used for nearly three years. I divorced myself from that name, burned sage around it and sowed it with alt—it was my name for a while but now long ago. Who would send me a package addressed to that name?

It strikes me as ominous.

And I feel cold.

I’m pacing, back in the gallery of spilled teacup paintings—much muslin, very delicate and irrevocably stained. These paintings are confections: fine china cups brimming a sea of Lady Grey, next to painted pralines and madeleines—cookies that snap, the kind that caused ol’ Proust to reflect. Not really my style, but I like bold strokes—but where is the woman with the power to transform my life? And who is it thinks I am still this person I am no longer?

I’m starting to feel as though I’m trapped in a Poe story.

“Yeah, I can believe that,” I say aloud to the teacup paintings. “Quoth the raven, nevermore—”

And it is a little weird to be speaking to myself, quoting Edgar Allan Poe—I can’t decide if it’s a good healthy quirky or if I should be worried—

But then, I’m worried about that package, addressed to the long-ago me, I mean, seriously? Everyone who should want to give me anything to me knows my new true name. Will this package tick? Or is it stacks of money fir to please Scrooge McDuck? Money is the only thing I need—except, I guess, right now—to have my damned interview commence. Where is this woman?

I realize that I can track the package. I’ll go online, I’ll determine whether or not this unlooked-for gift s anything I care to accept.

—It could be—


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