I entered the Iceland Writers Retreat Contest on January 25, 2015. I would have loved the chance to travel to Iceland, a country I've longed to visit, and to meet Barbara Kingsolver. Alas, this year is not my year. Perhaps another year. Congrats to the winner and two runners up.
Below is the image we were asked to write a less than 500 word essay, short story, or poem about. I wrote a short story.
Since I was not awarded first, second, or third place, I thought it would at least be nice to have a venue to share my work. My blog felt like the best place for that.
Sigurður rested his bow on his shoulder and gazed out. The honeycomb shaped glass of the Harpa Concert Hall entranced him and calmed his jittery nerves. Guiding his eyes between the two constructs of the building, he searched out into the harbor wondering if his mind could transport him away.
Sailboats swayed on the cerulean waters, bobbing effortlessly in synchronicity. He could hear the cacophony of the metal clanking against the poles, creating a rhythmic sweep. Clank, ca-clank clank.
Sigurður closed his eyes. His body succumbed to the beat; swaying ever so slightly, foot tapping methodically. He lifted his fiddle to his chin with the bow in the ready position.
“Sigurður, they’re ready for you,” an impatient voice called.
Sigurður had known it was only a matter of time before hundreds of eyes gazed upon him scrutinizing his every move, his every note. He knew his solo backwards and forwards––had practiced for months––but the judges knew the piece just as intimately. They would recognize even the slightest mistake.
Sigurður rose to his feet, bow and fiddle folded in front of him, and followed his father towards the auditorium. His limbs felt heavy as he walked, and his heart beat rapidly in anticipation. This is your last chance, he told himself. Your last chance to prove yourself. And if this doesn’t go well, it will be your last chance to play.
His father forced a smile and patted Sigurður lightly on the back as he made way to center stage. His shoes echoed in the expanse and his breath vibrated in his ears.
“Name?” asked the gentleman left of center as he passed a stack of papers to the remaining judges.
“Sigurður.” His throat made a noise as he swallowed. “Sigurður Ingolfsson.”
“Welcome, Sigurður. You may begin when you’re ready.”
Sigurður lifted his fiddle and bow, the instrument slipping slightly in his clammy hands. The first few notes entered the space stiff and forceful. He glanced cautiously at the faces of the panel, the other musicians in the audience, and his father waiting in the wings. The expressions, deadpan, looked straight at him. Sigurður heard his father’s voice in his head: It’s time you chose a sensible career. One where you can put a roof over your head.
Sigurður closed his eyes, pictured the harbor, and replayed the clanging of the boats in his mind. He breathed deeply from his abdomen, and his body swayed. The softening of his stance resulted in a rich legato sound much greater than he had ever produced.
When he finished the piece, he lowered his bow and fiddle to his side afraid to look out. A noise from the audience caught him off guard. A sharp whistle, then thundering applause erupted. He looked out at the head judge who gave him a gentle nod and over to his father whose eyes glistened with tears.