The First Page Challenge 2022—2nd place
Congrats to Lynda Schroeders for winning second place in the First Page Challenge 2022! Here's what our judge (Michelle Barker) had to say:
In second place, The Fault is Yours. The narrator in this piece has a powerful voice. The author uses excellent detail to bring her to life and presents us with a story problem that makes us want to know more.
The Fault Is Yours
This was in the year of fuck it, I’m going to live, and it was working out badly. If you’re not familiar, fuck it, I’m going to live is a diet, a budget, and a beauty regimen. It’s calorie dense, high interest, and retinol based. It’s Eat, Pray, Love for people who are afraid to fly or can’t afford a plane ticket. People like me, who have anxiety attacks every time they walk to the mailbox.
If I had to give a status update, I’d say the fuck it part is going well, especially if you count fucking up in addition to surrendering, and the living part is a bit of a disappointment. Like I’m breathing, but kinda shallow and sometimes I have to concentrate. If living means buying random vintage turquoise and La Mer face cream, I’ve nailed it. If it means showering every day and leaving the house more than once a week, I may have some progress to make.
I always thought if my husband left me, it would be for another woman, someone leggy and coltish, with freckles on her nose and without bags under her eyes. Instead, I got the shaft for the possibility of an unborn child, and I feel cheated. More cheated than if he had committed adultery. I miss having an attractive, younger woman to direct my anger at. I want a perfectly symmetrical face I can tape over the bullseye and sink darts into. I want to be jealous. Of everything. Of the crown of hair on her head and the places on her temples where it hasn’t started to recede. I want to be jealous of her voice, her laugh, the croissant she ate for breakfast and her thigh gap. But all I can picture is the blurry photo you get to take home after the ultrasound that confirms the baby has a heartbeat.
Enter online shopping. While Sam packs up his portion of the decade we spent together, I fill my cart with Pottery Barn Kids items for an over-priced nursery we’ll never have. Don’t be fooled. Mine is not the story of repeated miscarriages, many rounds of failed IVF, or yards of adoption red tape. Sam isn’t leaving because I can’t have a baby. He’s leaving because I won’t.
Lynda Williams is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers. Her short fiction has appeared in The Humber Literary Review and oranges journal, and her blogs about mental health have been featured on bphope.com. She is currently at work on a collection of stories.