We'd like to thank you for your overwhelming response to the '500 Feat', a fiction writing contest with a word limit of 500. It was indeed a feat for us to be able to sort through all your wonderful work to select the three winners. Here we are printing the winning pieces, they were selected because of their originality, style and content. Congratulations to them, and a big thumbs up to all the contestants. You are all winners in your own right, for taking part in this contest. However the few other entries that did not quite make the grade are printed in pages 6 and 7.
~ RS Desk ~
12-year old Reyaz looked up as the gleaming car parked at the roadside. He was awed; he had never seen such a car. Usually the cars that passed the shantytown where he lived were dilapidated black cabs. But this car was gleaming, in perfect condition. Being the son of a rickshaw puller he never got to see many cars, and usually got excited whenever a private car, plodded the pothole ridden road where he lived.
Reyaz hitched up his torn, ragged shorts and approached the car cautiously. Once there he checked out his reflection in the lustrous black paint of the car. There he was, with his upper torso undressed, his thin face smiling. Reyaz struck a pose, watching his reflection all the time. He looked at the car for a long time before moving on to check out the sparkling hubcaps. There he was once again, the hubcap reflecting his face; his sun burnt rough skin now visible.
Reyaz got up and walked on behind the car, where got to see the insignia of the car. It was a circle, whose interior had been divided in four, with two parts colored blue. The letters BMW were clearly visible. Reyaz had attended primary school for a few years and thus could recognize the letters. The owner of the car got out then and upon seeing Reyaz shooed him away. Reyaz flashed him a smile and walked away, contended at having seen such a good car. He decided he would go tell his mother about it, maybe he could persuade her to come see the car. Excited he walked on inside the shantytown.
He started jumping from one stepping-stone to another, through the narrow alleys between the shabbily erected abodes. The alleys were almost always filled dirty water, thus the use of the stepping-stones. He reached his one roomed, rented home; made out of rusted corrugated tin and boards. He entered and immediately noticed his father bearing down on his mother. He was screaming profanity, mercilessly beating his wife.
The excitement that had flooded Reyaz drained out. His father was probably home for the afternoon meal and by the looks he was probably drunk. Reyaz had witnessed a lot of these incidents and was quite familiar with the scene. He watched for a long while, his mother's crying face, tears welling up in his eyes. He decided he didn't need to watch this and turned away making his way back to the car.
There it was, in gleaming splendor. Reyaz's face was reflected once again by the glossy coat of paint; only this time the face had rivulets of tears on it. He admired the car for a long time, before the owner came back and shooed him away.
The Birthday Gift
“Mr. and Mrs. Zaman came today to invite us to Suchona's birthday." Laila told Mizan as he sat on the bed after returning from office in the afternoon.
"Do we have to go, dear?"
"I think we should. Zaman is your close friend and the couple helps us a lot. And Suchona is like our Raisa."
"You know that we had to attend two other weddings this month. It's not easy for me to buy expensive gifts for Suchona. But Zaman is so artistic and rich..."
" Won't we attend the party then?"
"We have to take a good gift so that they don't laugh at us."
At that moment 5year old Raisa came in, twisting her fists on her eyes. As soon as she saw Mizan her face lit up and she jumped on to his lap and enthusiastically said: "Abba! I want to go and play with all the friends and the doll house Suchona has."
Laila looked at Mizan indicating that they should go for Raisa's sake.
When Raisa was not around Laila took a red frock out of a transparent polythene bag. The dress was very beautiful and had unique lacework.
Laila: "Don't worry about gift. Raisa got this frock from my friend Saika on her birthday this year. But I haven't shown it to her yet as she has many new frocks now. We can give this to Suchona."
Mizan (surprised): "What are you saying? How can you give someone's gift to another person?"
Laila said with annoyance: "Oh! Please don't be so senty. Who's gonna see the history behind the red dress? And moreover, I don't like Saika at all. She thinks that she is the best. Wherever she goes she acts like a celebrity. So irritating!"
The whole family went to the birthday party held on the rooftop of Mr. Zaman's house. After cutting the cake the children played together and the older guests chatted with one another. Laila felt a tap on her shoulder. When she looked back she saw Saika!
Saika: "Hey! I was looking for you! But no one seems to pick up your phone!"
Laila (startled): "Yes! We have shifted our house. The phone has not been connected yet."
"I've got a great job offer for you. You'd once told me that you wanted to teach in a school?"
Laila's eyes shone with excitement: "You searched for a job for me!"
As the two of them chatted together Laila came to know that Saika was Suchona's distant maternal aunt. Laila changed her mind about Saika. She was pleased with her amiable behaviour.
Laila: "So what else are you doing beside teaching?"
"Oh! I have a small boutique. I designed the dress I gave to Raisa."
A joyous shriek was heard from the children's corner. Suchona rushed in and stood the middle of the elders wearing a beautiful red dress. Everyone clapped and praised her. Only Laila's face became pale.
By Sabreena Ahmed
A Stranger at Night
I gazed out of the window. Mom and Dad had gone to visit Grandma in the morning. It was 11 p.m. ...Why weren't they back yet?
Suddenly, the doorbell disrupted my thoughts. Strange...if someone had come, I would have seen the person through the window. Curious, I opened the door.
A woman clad in black was standing on the doorstep.
"Yes?" I asked.
"I'm Samantha Robertson, your Mom's friend," the woman replied serenely. Noticing the blank look on my face, she added hastily, "Oh, you never met me."
I ushered her inside and explained where Mom was. Samantha nodded and sat in Dad's rocking chair.
I noticed that Samantha spoke less, and I was not diffident in nature, so I started her in details about Grandma, why Mom had gone there and so on.....but it was only a virtual monologue. Samantha simply smiled at my words or nodded from time to time. In fact, she seemed like a veritable oyster.
"Where do you live, Ms. Robertson?" I decided to break the ice for the third time.
"Beside the church," Samantha replied.
My heart skipped a beat. How could she live beside the church? There was nothing except a cemetery...
Surprisingly, it was Samantha's voice that brought me back to reality. "Your Mom was my best friend. One day when I was about ten, we were playing softball in our school's backyard. Suddenly, your Mom threw the ball so high that it went sailing over the fence and landed in the road nearby. I went to pick up the ball, but when I looked up, all I saw was the bumper of a huge lorry before I breathed my last."
I stared at her in shock. What? Was I speaking to a ghost? Although Samantha looked very much human, I felt a chill running down my spine.
"B-But she never told me about this experience of hers," I whispered almost timorously.
Samantha smiled, despite the fact that the corners of her eyes were glistening with tears. "My dead body was nothing but a gel of bloody flesh. It was probably too awful to describe. Your Mom still thinks that I died because of her. All these years, she had passed through a bad patch. From the day I died, I have been trying to meet your Mom when the going was good and convince her that it was not her fault, but I did not get the opportunity. I just want you to do me a good turn by making her understand......"
Questions bubbled up in my mind, but I never got their answers since at that moment, the bell rang. I opened the door and saw that it was Mom and Dad.
"Mom!" I shrieked in delight. "Samantha's here!"
Mom looked puzzled, "Samantha?"
"Yes, your dead friend!"
Both of them looked bewildered. "Were you sleeping, dear?" Dad asked.
I looked back and pointed at the rocking chair anxiously...and continued staring. It was empty....and still rocking.....
By Kausain Akther Nabila