My, that’s a large one.
I refer to the photo of my face that jumped out and slapped me as I opened the April issue of Reader’s Digest (New Zealand edition).
With the issue finally out today, I can announce that out of thousands of entries I am one of two runners-up in the NZ Readers Digest 100-word story competition.
To enter, I had to write a story in exactly 100 words, not one more or less. So I gave it a go, dashing off a quick draft in less than an hour, polishing it a bit and sending it that evening, just for the hell of it. (To my fellow writers who hate me right now: I don’t usually write with such nonchalant ease, really I don’t. My usual method is much more angst-ridden, stilted by lazy stops and awkward starts, punctuated by exasperated coffee breaks. Maybe the secret this time was that I was uber-relaxed and writing purely for fun, with no investment whatsoever in the final result.)
For my efforts I won $250. And my very very small story was incongruously published right next to a very very large photo of me. Not a particularly good one either. I sent it in thinking it would just be a little thumbnail at the top of the page. Ummm, no. My smiling face fills an entire page of the magazine. It may only be A5, but it looks enormous. You can practically see the hairs growing out my nostrils. And I look exhausted. I remember the shot was taken after being up practically all night with a sick child. Little did I know it would one day grin its giant way into every doctor and dentist’s surgery in the country. (Come on – do you ever read a Reader’s Digest anywhere else?)
Some of you will have already read my 100-word story; I posted it a while ago under the title Furnishing Desire. For those of you who haven’t, here it is.
You stand in the corner, silent. Your legs, your arms, your back all curve luxuriously, solipsistically stealing space. You are taunting me, teasing me.
Come. Closer. Covet.
I circle you, regarding with giddy wonder the graceful whorls and lattices traced intricately in the small of your glorious back. I long to caress you, run my devouring hand over and down, under and in.
There are others in the room, but I see only you. I must have you.
I succumb. I surrender.
“I’ll take it,” I say.
“Such a beautiful chair, Sir,” says the salesperson. “Cash or credit?”
And here’s the little blurb I wrote to precede the story:
We were having lunch with a friend who had recently launched a furniture importing business. His wife described one of the chairs to me in such sensuous and passionate terms that it got me thinking. I wanted the first part of the story to intrigue and titillate readers…and the ending to make them laugh with surprise at the twist and at themselves for being gently hoodwinked.
I think I’d better use the prize money to buy a camera that takes teeny tiny photographs. Either that, or Photoshop.