It was the Bess of times; It was the worst of times…Another finalist’s entry

(Miss America, 1945)

I am still here!

Aahhh! Literati!  Here is contestant # 3 doing his/her bess–oops!–BEST to win the five Franklins which I have dangled in front of you all to help me build up the traffic for our free, de-facto writers’ workshop.

Here is


by Contestant # 3, a finalist in our First Annual Peggy Dobbs Write-of-Passage Contest


There are times encapsulated within our mortal lives when faith stretches too fine to escape the rim of the abyss:


“You broke my heart, and…and I haven’t healed, what do you want me to say?”

“I am sorry Bess. I am so sorry; I will never leave you again no matter what. Trust me, this time I am home forever.”

“Trust you? Jesus! I walk on eggs for nine months. Doctors discover Solomon’s gold between my legs and for what? An empty house? Where the fuck were you?”

“Bess, I said I was sorry.”

“Sorry for what, for this? I lost the baby, Michael. He ended as fluid around my ankles. The clotted blood? That was your son’s spine. You know you’re all alike, you want the firm and round but the first thought of used diapers in the back of the truck and it all goes go to hell.”

“Hell, Bess? Look here I brought you something from hell.” Michael opens the side cab door.

“What’s that, you cruel bastard? Some kind of a sick joke?”

“It’s a puppy, Bess. I named him after our commando unit called Hope. One of the thousands of strays.”

“What’s those around his neck?”

“The bells of St. Nick. Go on and pick him up. He won’t piss on you.”


Bess carries little Hope in her arms to a chair and sits. A life, warm, happy, and wiggling… looks up into her eyes. She cries unabated…

…but by then, it was too late.


16 thoughts on “It was the Bess of times; It was the worst of times…Another finalist’s entry

  1. Parisianne Modert says:

    Wow, does that opening line was powerful and told us to prepare for a deep spiritual suffering. The story kept me engaged, twisted and surprised at the end. Loved the in your face dialogue firing back and forth, but still so sad that no joy could substitute. I’m guessing Michael Stang wrote this story. Again I have only a 6:1 chance of being right. I have a feeling, I may only recognize my own yet to come.

    • Parisianne Modert says:

      I’m rethinking, because of the exchange above that this is Claudia’s story and Michael’s is the first story.

  2. Parisianne Modert says:

    By the way, I always adored and respected Bess Meyerson and love musicals such as Porgy and Bess. Ouch, I just got the musical pun. Well played Mr. Editor in Chief. Very well played.

  3. Chuck Chuckerson says:

    Miscarriage is a huge fear of mine and my heart goes out to anyone who has had to experience it. Of course there’s no replacement for a child–not even another child, much less a puppy. The pain in this piece was tangible.

  4. elizabeth sloan says:

    A lot is told, revealed, felt; we get the idea of the whole relationship in this quick scene. Like a slap in someone’s face, someone who it appears deserves a slap.

  5. Laura G says:

    This was affecting, touching, sad, real. The images are startling and honest. Great job using just a few words to describe grief, relationship issues, attempts at redemption, and how things don’t always (don’t usually) get wrapped up with a bow.

  6. Michael Stang says:

    I’m thinking Chuck here, all the way. Our worldly Claudia has a few more tricks up her sleeves, and we have jusrt read one of them. She writes at quark level. When she is on (as in on this story) she is smoking. Love the implied desperation for Michael to come. Nice try pal but no cigar. Best of luck, girl.

  7. Mike Casper says:

    Harsh story. Almost difficult to read for the topic. I could see this happening in, say, the 40’s or so. Nice job with the Miss America 1945 photo, Thorn. Kyle Katz, you stole my ‘raw’ observation. I’ll need it back someday soon, with a cupful of sugar and half a lemon.

  8. Diane Cresswell says:

    Wowzer – this is painful. But extremely well written. Will wonder how this relationship turns out. No nice language in this one – punch in the stomach honesty.

  9. Kenneth Weene says:

    Not sure where the guy was that he has a commando unit. If he was at war, then she should have known where he was (maybe not the spot, but the general cause). So this just doesn’t make sense to me. Neither does the description of the miscarriage after 9 months of walking so gently and taking such care. Not that she couldn’t miscarry then, but the absence of a meaningful fetus is problematic. However, the harshness and power work wonderfully. If we don’t worry about the reality factor and stay focused on the symbolism, this is a great piece.

  10. Mac Eagan says:

    I realize that as a man, I can never truly know what a woman goes through when she loses a child in this way. A man may understand loss when his born child, of any age, precedes him in death, but the pain of miscarriage is unique to women. I would expect, though, for there to be all the stages of grief, including anger, which is well reflected here. Kyle Katz called the story “honest” and “raw” and Mike Casper said “harsh.” I couldn’t agree more.
    My first two choices as author of this story were Stefanie and Mike Stang. I know Mike guessed Miryam as the author, but I don’t agree with that choice, and I’ve already chosen Stefanie as Contestant #2.
    As dumb as it may sound, I’m still sticking with Mike (which means the only story I will probably get right is Story #6 – I said I was no good at this).
    Oh, and there is a little part of me that thinks it might could maybe be Elizabeth Sloan.

  11. Sheri Strobaugh says:

    Wow, that made my tummy hurt and have dear ones who have gone through that. Glad to know the puppy brought the innocent love to help her through. Excellent writing.

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