with the diversity and imagination of those who visit our site to write.
Our third finalist who just complicated Stefanie Allison’s task as judge is Julie Mark Cohen. Our contest, The Third Annual Victor Villasenor First Sentence Contest, netted three diverse finalists; two are regularly submissive to me, and one is submitting for the first time. The T-relf surprised us by writing a story that did not involve a creature with eleven or more legs; Liliana delighted us with a story that was poignant and original, and now Julie Mark Cohen pulls her story from historical documents.
All finalists were required to write a dialog and story about a child leaving home. So here is what Julie Mark Cohen has to say:
Against the Current
Julie Mark Cohen
Levi House, Turin, Italy.
Late Summer 1929.
Adamo Levi stood in his study window facing his half-acre, well-manicured garden, deep in thought, his arms crossed, his bristled moustache twitching.
As twenty year old Paola softly approached his side, her green lace-trimmed dress flowed as smoothly as that evening’s rain. She rolled up onto her toes and kissed his cheek. “Father? I thought you might like a glass of your favorite sherry.”
“Thank you, my dear,” said Adamo, as he watched her gently place the elegant Czech glass into his welcoming hand. “You know your place. You’ll be a loving wife and mother some day soon.”
He turned to Paola’s fraternal twin, Rita, who had been patiently sitting, her back straight, in an imported, ivory cloth-covered, mahogany-trimmed Art Deco chair with rounded back, and said, “You were saying?”
“Why don’t you understand? You’re a mathematician and electrical engineer,” Rita asserted.
After Paola quietly took her leave, the ceiling lights flickered, the desk fan’s speed vacillated, and a thunderbolt cracked nearby.
“But, Rita, you’re a young woman. You need time for your husband and children,” Adamo said, sternly gazing at her as he turned off the fan. “You should do something in the arts. Paola will be a fine painter some day, just like your mother. You should pursue writing, which you enjoy.”
“No, Father. These aren’t for me. I don’t care to marry and I don’t like babies.” Rita paused, then rose, her simple grey dress falling below her knees. “I’m going to medical school.”
“I know Giovanna’s death greatly affected you, but you shouldn’t step out-of-line because she suffered from stomach cancer. She was special to all of us as governess of you and your siblings.”
“I want, I need to go back to studying. I am not afraid of returning to learning. It has been three years since high school, but a tutor can help me.”
“‘If this is really what you want,’ he replied, ‘then I won’t stand in your way, even if I’m very doubtful about your choice.'”
Copyright 2013 by Julie Mark Cohen
Written in memory of Dr. Rita Levi-Montalcini, Italian Jewish neurologist (April 22 1909 – December 30, 2012), who won the Nobel Prize in Medicine (1986) for her work on the nerve growth factor.
 The last sentence is an exact excerpt from In Praise of Imperfection – My Life and Work, by Rita Levi-Montalcini, translated by Luigi Attardi, Basic Books, Inc., Publishers, New York, NY, 1988, pg. 38.