I have received final entries from five of our seven finalists, and have decided that their stories will be posted without retributi–oops!–attribution!
My guess is that you will be able to speculate who the author is because each finalist has a distinctive style, already developed and evident in their previous submissions. Why not give it your best guess in the comment box?
I still am scrambling to find a judge beyond reproach, or at least one who is willing to share! $500 to our winner!
Here is our first final entry:
All it takes is Faith and Trust
He’d told her before that it took a certain kind of person to perform an exorcism, and that she didn’t fit the profile. Yet she had just driven an intruding malevolent spirit out of his body and sent it to the next life.
“You did it, Lonnie!” Bence exclaimed, touching his face, chest, arms, to confirm his continued existence, too happy to be alive to realize the consequences of what just transpired. “You saved me!”
“How did I do that, exactly?” Lonnie asked, arms crossed. “Without seminary training? Without taking the holy vows? While being a woman? ”
Realizing his mistake, Bence winced, averting his gaze. “I’m… sorry I lied to you,” he said. “I just…. wanted you to need me. So you would keep me around.” He met her eyes, held her hands in his. “I can teach you the rest of it. I can teach you everything I know.”
Tempting, really. It would help greatly. But by then, it was too late.
“It was never about need,” she said, drawing her hands away. “I like having you around. We’re partners. Friends. I would’ve kept you with me forever. But you lied to me about something too important. I can’t trust you. And I can’t keep hunting ghosts with you. It’s over.”
“No,” he said desperately, shaking his head, eyes wide. “What would I do without you? Lonnie, I need you.”
“Need’s not the most important thing there is, Bence,” she said, turning away. “Maybe now you’ll learn that.”