There it is, folded on the coffee table. The newspaper’s culture magazine. Their annual writing contest with all winner’s works printed inside, just a few feet away from my shaking hands.
I’ve submitted many times before, but feel this is the year I get published. I’m going to win because I took a chance. I didn’t send something I thought they were looking for. I do that every year. And lose. Instead, I sent an original, edgy, witty, and clever piece to the newspaper jurors. Adult Prose section, here I come.
I open the magazine. Adult Prose First Place winner – not me. Okay. I wasn’t expecting First Place anyway. I turn the page. Second Place. Not me. You know, it would be nice, just once, if I won … anyway. I turn the page. Another writer has taken Third Place. But, wait – something new this year, the List of Finalists, names of writers whose works were considered extremely worthy but didn’t make the cut. If I’m on the list, some progress has been made.
I wiggle my index finger down the page of ten names. Mike Andberg is not among them. Who are all these people? I’ve never heard of any of them.
The Honorable Mention section. I flip the pages. Quickly. I have not been mentioned in the Honorable Mention section either.
I check the Teen section winners. I never mentioned my age in my submission to the paper. Who knows? Maybe they placed my winning entry in the Teen category by mistake. I check it. Twice. My name’s not there. Teenagers are already in the paper and they’re, what, fifteen? I’m how old?
I peruse the Kids category. Jesus. I mean, how good can these pieces be? I’m not included in this section (whether accidentally or deliberately).
I envision tomorrow’s newspaper folded on my coffee table. A giant apology. It was all a printing mix up. Excluded from the Annual Writing Contest winners was Mike Andberg’s glorious, witty, funny, unique, and cutting edge piece. It could happen, right?
I can only hope it wasn’t placed in Obituaries.