The winners of phase 1 of the Presbyterian Writers Guild writing contest have been announced! Here are the top 10 Opening Hooks, in order of votes received:
#1 Melissa Bane Sevier
The bedroom felt oppressive at 3:30 a.m. His arm around her, though relaxed in sleep, bound her to time and place, to anxiety and despair. She longed for the dim stripes of sunrise to seep through the partially open blinds, bringing the dawn of yet another pretense of normalcy. Then she would slip from his grasp, wearing the night’s fear into the day as if it were an invisible shroud.
#2 Elsie Gilmore
Whoever had that light on in the attic window has it on no more. It was like a beacon, like a dim city set on a hill of household happenings. It guided me from work to home each night. So dependent was I on its steadfastness that I drove past my own gate the first night it was missing. Its absence haunted me like a missing key to my own existence.
#3 Cary Speaker
In the spring of 1963 my best friend, Barry, and I were standing on the toilet in one bathroom stall looking down on our friend Roger who was sitting on the toilet in the other stall, with his pants on. We were all three in the eighth grade. Barry and I had searched all over the school for Roger. We were angry and looking for a fight. When we found him we changed our minds.
#4 Ariel Lenarduzzi
What do you look like in color? Your photo is in black and white.
A picture in the back of the bulletin. Square. Like a picture from a passport for a foreign traveler who has long been forgotten by the passing of time.
The last time you spoke; the last time you preached. I was sitting too far to see you. I heard you. Your voice, your message, your call to action, your forgiveness.
#5 Alan Cutter
I woke up about 0430, buckled up my .45, grabbed a bottle of Johnnie Walker, and went outside to wait. The early air was already hot, a still humid haze hanging on the bay, morning light lifting the darkness, hinting at the tantalizing possibility of a beautiful day in Vietnam. Pouring three fingers, taking the day’s first sip, I said aloud, letting the words challenge the oppressive humidity, “It’s a good day to die.”
# 6 Matthew Rich
“It is fine,” he had said. Last year a few more new members joined the church than saints entered life eternal; steady giving with the expected December bump; a preschool full of laughing toddlers; programs every night of the week; no significant conflict. Yes, everything was “fine.” And yet . . .
Looking out the window, he wondered if fine was faithful, as someone slid behind the green dumpster. Who was she? What was she doing?
#7 Susan Baller-Shepherd
The vicodin settled in nicely as Stephanie pulled into the church parking lot for second service.
“Where in the world could I have put those? Have you seen them, Steph?” Joan asked at home, guessing her Rheumatoid Arthritis meds weren’t actually lost at all.
“Mom, you’re so forgetful, I swear!” Stephanie protested.
Getting out of the car, Stephanie held onto the door for support, nauseous and lightheaded, she felt herself going down for the count.
#8 Andrew Taylor-Troutman
On the morning her preacher promised that God would annihilate the world by fire, she awoke and crept outside, only to watch the pagan squirrels in her backyard scolding one another as they raced headlong around the ancient trees. By the time dust bit into the far horizon, she was unable to pray. But, damn it, could she ever curse!
#9 Lara MacGregor
I turned 40 that summer and I was between churches (an ironic way of saying “unemployed,” since “between” implies something on either side). Turns out, circulating a résumé when you are married with a toddler isn’t the same as looking for a new job when you’re single. Mobility becomes an issue. Money is more of an issue. And then there is your spouse’s job to consider. Where does God’s call fit in all of this?
#10 Deb Hadachek
The day she made three little boys and one mother cry during Sunday school, God made clear she was trying to claim a gift she did not possess.