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March Writing Contest

Each month we hold a writing contest for our members, by our members. Writers are given parameters, such as a word count and/or a prompt. Entries are judged and discussed blindly. For March, writers had to compose a microfiction piece without mentioning time.

A Song for Travis

by Chris Vannes

Halfway through open mic night; only two more slots before Laurel’s turn but Travis isn’t here yet. It’s more crowded than usual. Kid in a Pokemon T-shirt wails a Lumineers tune off-key. Nearby a divorcee Stevie Nicks wannabe in a flowered headscarf paces nervously, waiting her turn; ten bucks says she’s gonna sing “Landslide.” The heartbreak song cliche to rule them all, ugh.

Tonight’s other performers are clustered on the one good couch or around the rickety table, nursing six-dollar lattes, either freaking out because they haven’t played yet or sulking because they have.

Travis said he’d come. When she asked. Sure, he had kinda shrugged and shuffled his feet. Because his friends were there. Gotta be cool. But he’d said it. “Yeah, okay.”

So Laurel wrote him a song. A good one, maybe her best, though it’s hard to be objective about music even without two double cappuccinos and a healthy shot of romantic tension. Practiced it all week. He’d better show up.

Visualize it: he’ll walk in the door just as she steps on stage. Freeze him in his tracks with that perfect first line. He won’t be able to take his eyes off her. He’ll notice her.

Surprise—headscarf woman is butchering an Adele tune instead. God help us.

Suddenly it’s Laurel’s turn. The mic smells like burned coffee. Audience chattering, oblivious. White noise blasts from the espresso machine.

Deep breath.

No Travis.


“Landslide” starts on a C chord, right?

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