First place! First place! A thousand dollars for FIRST PLACE!
Maybe I would finally get recognition.
Writing is a lonely occupation. That doesn't mean that authors are anti-social. It just means that stringing words together to tell a story is one of the few tasks left to the individual. Writers seek the approval of their family, their peers, their readers, all at the same time. In that way, they're completely social animals.
When they succeed, they're no different then anyone else, sharing the joy of winning with a loved one, or with someone who's close. Someone to share with.
If, that is, if the prize is for something you'd want to share. If not...
"John, any idea what this thousand dollar deposit is?", Sara Ann asked.
I had feared this question for two months, ever since the email notification of the win. There was no good answer.
"What thousand dollars?" I replied.
"It's a direct deposit from something called e-media," she said.
"E Media, never heard of them."
"Maybe somebody used our account number by mistake," Sara said.
"It probably happens," I replied, "but let's call it a night for now. OK?"
"Sure," she sighed, turning out the light and rolling over toward me.
The contest had been listed in the Marketplace in Writer's Digest in March. It wasn't really my thing, calling for erotica. But the thousand dollars would be good, to say nothing of getting my name out there.
Sara Ann would have recognized the scene in my story. It was based on the passion we had for each other early on. Still did for that matter, but she wouldn't want it shared in a published story.
It seemed that I'd dodged the thousand dollar bullet. The five copies of the magazine that would be delivered would be the next trap. The final risk would be if any of our family or friends bought the magazine. Either could be my downfall.
Before I fell asleep, an idea came to me. A vacation hold filed with our post office would allow me to inspect everything before it got near Sara. Yes, that would work.
Well, just barely.
"No mail today," Sara said.
"Actually, I swung by and grabbed it early," I replied. "Two catalogues for you, and the usual bills and credit card solicitations."
The five copies came two days later, thankfully. Too many days, and I'd never have gotten away with it.
Over the next several days, I ran over our relatives on both sides. Who were the young guys approaching puberty that would be sneaking a look at such a magazine? Who were the dirty old men who might be doing the same?
There were way too many to do anything about.
A pseudonym would have protected me, but wouldn't have been any value in selling future stories. My best hope was that any of the family who spotted the story would be too embarrassed to say anything. Hope, hope.
A month or two of living dangerously. If I could hold my breath that long.