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Speak Freely's IV Writing Contest Works

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Dear speakfreelians,

here are all the works that have been submitted to us in the past three weeks. Please take time to read them and choose just one work that you like best of all. Then go to the poll and vote. Note that you can only choose one work in that poll and you cannot revote. Also, this poll will close on 30 June, the day we hold our award ceremony for Speak Freely's IV Writing Contest! Thank you very much for your attention.

NOTE: For those participants who have not fulfilled the requirement of submitting a pen name, we created a random pen name, so ALL of these writers' names are not their real names, even though they might bear resemblance to or even coincide with fictional and/or real names known to you. We beg the pardon of those who might find their works next to a pen name they don't like, but otherwise it would be unfair.

Invocation' by Nik Nova

Wait a minute. Let me explain what I needed
‘Cause sometimes I wanna cut myself to pieces.
When I did it,
People saw my opposite side, and then I hid
And dropped the mic.
Why does music like magic make you fly?
All they say’s "Keep rhyming", but I'm still running
From reality
To my private world where I've got a big family.
Beat with melody like heart disease,
Broken promises we've found but already missed, miss.
There is a reason to wake up and continue the way,
We've got a thousand freaky words that you cannot say,
Being a fireball in this show, I called it "Flame of fame"
I hope tomorrow my sorrow will lose the game.
The end is coming here, future is our fear,
Today we live but can't believe we must get out from here.
Oh, what troubles we go through, let's catch the light moon,
We just misunderstood…

An Ideal Wife by Little Miss Sunshine

"Susan!" Greg called again. The old house stood silent, except for some strange hissing.
He stared into the darkness looking for the source of that sound. "Sss..." it went, from the right, or maybe the left, or maybe in front of him, or from around the corner... With trembling hands, he lit a match and sprang back: it was a snake! He had no idea whether it was poisonous or not, the only experience with snakes that he'd ever had was seeing a couple of water snakes when fishing with his grandpa. But that one was nothing like a water snake: it looked longer and more menacing.

Nearly a year ago was his wedding day, the happiest day of Greg's life. Susan, all in white, prettier than ever, congratulations, friends having fun, rice and flowers and champagne, their mothers shedding a tear or two at the table in the corner, looking at their happy children. He had laid siege to Susan's heart ever since the middle school: she was a beauty, but also very calm and kind, not mean like many other beautiful people. He was not the only one: there were swarms of men around her, but she was inaccessible, even though friendly. Greg was persistent, they went to the same college, and finally she gave in, they started dating, and shortly after the graduation Greg gathered himself, invited her out to dinner and proposed, in the old-fashioned manner, on one knee with a box of red velvet in his hands. She blushed and smiled and said, "Greg, you don't know me at all".
"What do you mean?" he asked. "I've known you for ages, and you're the sweetest person I've ever met".
"Well... it's not all there is to know about me."
"I'm willing to learn anything there is."
"You're great, Greg, and I will marry you, but there is one condition."
"Sure, sweetheart. I'll try to do my best."
"You don't have to do anything. Every month, I will disappear for three days. I will marry you if you promise me that you'll always let me go and never ask me anything and never come looking for me."
Greg looked at her, perplexed.
"That's it?"
"Yes. Do you promise?"
"Sure, honey, I promise that. Will you marry me now?"

She said yes, and they lived happily ever after. Susan was an ideal wife: she cooked great, their house was amazing, and she was never ever mad at Greg whatever he did. His friends would sometimes grumble about how their wives were annoyed at every little thing, but he could do just anything, and she would only smile and say she loved him. The friends always said he was lucky, they said she was special. "Yeah, special", Greg thought as he watched her go away every month without saying a word. She never took anything with her: not a bag, not a change of clothes, not even money.

Greg remembered his promise, he never asked her anything, but after a few months, he was dying to know where she went on those days. He tried following her once and came into the woods where she entered that creepy old house. All he ever found there was mice and then this snake.

The match burned till his fingers and he dropped it. The hissing felt closer as he retreated and suddenly he felt the snake snapping at him. Greg tried to stand on his feet, but banged his head on something that hung low above him and passed out.

She was the first to toss a handful of dirt onto his coffin in the grave.
“I am so sorry, mom.”
“Never mind sweetie, it was his fault.
You warned him.”


The White Sea by Spartak Orlov

The White Sea on the threshold of October is unusually boisterous, with huge frothing waves, capped with white crests; and so might have been the soul of a vagabond, were he lucky enough to find himself among those unfriendly, God-forgotten heaps of rocks on the edge of the Earth. The lead sky is almost impenetrable for the sun, which is hardly visible, having been covered with thick, heavy gray clouds.

The autumn is in full swing, with its vagaries and vicissitudes of weather; yet even colder days of winter are ineluctably approaching, chasing the summer away. The sea surface will soon be covered with a thick layer of magnificently transparent ice, and the Aurora will set the skies ablaze with its iridescent flashes. The coastline is void and desolated; the only sign of life and any human presence whatsoever is a haphazardly built rough-hewn quay tearing the waves apart as they strike against it heavily. As the waves approach the quay in a never-ending, dreary and monotonous way before falling apart into millions of tiny effervescent droplets, the wind howls, and that concoction of sounds grips your guts with a wrench. You see never a gull, shrieking in the sky, not a barge, not a fishing boat even; it’s an empty desert devoid of any life, and such emptiness fills you with desperation, leaving you with a vague presentiment, as all your hopes wither away.


by Ben Snow

Imagine blue river,
This narrow line.
And sunset is here,
It gives us warm shine.

Imagine light sand
And freedom of winds
From beautiful land
Of pictureque tints.

Under shining round
And natural ceiling
Just imagine the sound
Of silent evening.

All about us by Anchous

Love. Passion. Beauty. Trust and Pain…
What do these words mean? Can you explain?
We’ve always wanted to be “Kings of Kings”,
And haven’t thought about such important things.

Everyone in this life desires to be the Best,
It does make us forget about all the rest.
And if you look in people’s eyes
You’ll see there nothing but cold ice

We love when people praise us to the skies,
And we don’t realize that life is so nice!
Just look at the stars during the night,
Or at the snow that’s so brilliant and white,

Or at the sunshine that’s so dazzling and bright
Or at the birds flying outside,
And you’ll understand that the world is the treasure
And living in it…
That’s where the pleasure.

The Kursk Salient by Spartak Orlov

The smell of rye wafts up from the warmed Earth as I walk among the golden fields. Having covered lots of vestiges of the Second World War beneath its fertile ground, the Kursk salient is unusually tranquil; nothing reminds me of the ferocious battle that occurred there about seventy years ago.

The summer will wither away soon. The landscape is flat and pregnant with crops wavering in a tender breeze. Occasionally, I see some picturesque islands of vibrant-colored wild flowers here and there; but, apart from that, there is nothing but massive fields, and that unfathomable vastness of space strikes me. The sky is devoid of any movement, being hidden above the heavy dark clouds presaging an imminent hail.

Suddenly, I chance upon a metal shard. Having etched a thick layer of rust and dirt off, I look closer and notice that it’s a rather huge piece of an old helmet with metal insignia depicting a couple of lightning bolts. Since then, I can’t but relate the ground to the battle. Having meandered among the crops, I turn eventually and I am awestruck by the scene in front of me – a plenteous field under an endless heavy grey sky. I can’t but conjure up a wall of steel, clattering sounds of tank engines, barking voices, an acrid and noxious smell of gunpowder and Feldgrau advancing towards me. I am enthralled with my vivid mirage; trying to snap out of it, I winked, and all these remnants of the past faded away. A thunderstorm finally begins; it’s about time I moved along to my shelter beneath the hood of the nearest farm, leaving these fields, images and remnants of the past behind.


After Prison by Ben Snow

Me and my best friend Taisia were walking in the park in our H****** city. That was a warm Saturday and many people were enjoying the weather. I had to prepare for my exams, but the Sun was so friendly and the wind was so silent that I made a decision to spend this day outside. Chatting about nothing and hanging out with Taisia we went on empty road.
"Taisia", I was explaining her a situation. "He promised to me"...
Taisia saw a man who was lying on the grass and crying. We ran up to this man.
"Sorry, what's the problem? Can we help you?"
A man looked at us. He was very upset. He turned and we saw a deep trauma on his stomach. We yelled.
"Sorry", he said. "I didn't want to scare you".
He wasn't terrible despite his appereance and we decided to help him. Taisia called the emergency.
"What's happened?" I asked the man.
"You know... This trauma is from my best friend".
"How is it possible?" Taisia finished her call and joined the conversation.
"First of all, thank you for your help. I'm so happy to talk to people. Just because I went from the prison".
He stopped to see our reaction. We were surprised but not frightened anymore.
"15 years ago I was involved in a terrible reckless scheme. I had to transport drugs, because their runner was killed. I didn't know about it, I thought it was some sort of vitamins for senior people. When I was giving the drugs to my boss, I saw my friend George", a man smiled sadly. "He was one of supervisors in their system. I was shocked. But the worst thing was...You know, later my friend was caught by the police. But he said that he was just a victim and under the stress he revealed that I'd persuaded him to try drugs. I was pleaded guilty. As you can see, today is my first day at liberty."
He smiled in spite of his trauma. It made him look weaker. We were worried about the emergency, because we didn't see them. The stranger continued.
"It's unbelievable to see the trees, to talk to people, to desire these modern buildings. Just imagine that you're in the cage and you can explore the world after all the suffering! But George was still afraid about his arse. He followed me from the prison and cut me. I feel I'm dying... Girls, thank you for this possibility to talk! Now I'm the happiest person".
They heard the emergency sound. But the unknown man closed his eyes and never wake up anymore.
Sun is shining, the warm wind hugging people, clouds in the sky drawing amazing pictures. And some flowers grow on one of the empty paths.


The Power of Simplicity by Writer

English writing is often considered the most difficult part of studying the language, and people who have mastered it sometimes take pride in this achievement, and try to write in very complex structures (just because they can!)

This is not always beneficial for the reader and for the sake of the idea of text, which is to be a medium, that carries the message over from the author to the reader. If we look at the text under this angle, it becomes clear that the best medium
is the one that doesn't interfere with understanding, the one that doesn't obscure the meaning.

Having understood this important role of the text, many writers try to make their texts simpler, but without losing the meaning and the ideas altogether. Often this becomes a much more difficult task than to write a complicated text in the first place. Careful selection of words, punctuation, use of appropriate devices and attention to the general flow of thought are sometimes even bigger burden that for some people is just too much: this is probably the reason why we have so many unintelligible texts that supposedly contain some really interesting thoughts.

On the other hand, many people erroneously link textual complexity and authority. They believe that the reading should be a struggle, and the more efforts the reader puts into understanding, the more authority will have the voice of the author. Which is, of course, totally wrong: as we have already shown, careful creative work can earn the author more respect than over-complication.

Simple text doesn't interfere with the message, so it can reach more minds and be understood more widely. So I encourage you to take additional effort and to make sure that your texts are not overcomplicated, so your readers will be happy.


First words /or/ no honey by Parker

The day I have been waiting for has arrived. The clear sky was promising, so I started getting ready for a work affair, after which I would finally see my daughter.
I was going to see Jenny today, I see her twice a week. She lives with her mother, they rent a small apartment in a town nearby and come every week to the city where we meet.
Jenny calls me “Ala”, her mother teaches her so: “Jenny, who's coming? It's Alan. Say hello to Alan.” She is not yet proficient in speaking but she's getting there. I look forward to having conversations with her and do my best to make it happen, but for now I'm just “Ala”.
I usually reply with “Hi, Jenny, it's me!” and smile. She smiles back.
We usually meet on weekdays and I take her to all the fancy machines in the clinic's laboratory where I work. They intimidated her at first, but that is no longer the case. Anyway, today is Sunday and we're going to the amusement park.
As usual, when I arrived they were already there, waiting for me.
“Look, Jenny, who's coming? It's Alan. Say hello to Alan.”
“Hi, Jenny, it's me!”
“Ala! Ala-la!”
She took a little pause, looked at me and said slowly
“Did you hear that?!“
I was astonished, looking at Jenny and then at her mother. She looked equally amazed, but I saw the notes of confusion on her face. Was that because it was not her name Jenny said?
“This definitely deserves a cotton candy and one business-class carousel ride,” I turned again to Jenny. She smiled. She does that a lot lately. We left and promised to meet at the same spot at 8pm.
We spent our time on carousels, petting animals in the contact zoo, riding horses, eating cotton candies. She was beaming with happiness, and every time she looked at me I could read the joy and vivacity in her eyes. She loved it!
When we got back I saw her mother sitting on the same place, whimpering. Having Jenny occupied with the toy I bought in the park, I approached her.
“Alan, I appreciate all that you do for Jenny. And again thank you for taking care of her today. So much work lately.”
“Oh, don't say that, it's my pleasure... Besides, we really had fun today!”
She looked at her daughter playing, and sighed, “my boss told me today to start looking for a new job. We have no money. You know that I had to sell our house to pay the therapy.”
“Well...look at the bright side, Jenny said her first words today!”
“First words in 10 years, Alan! Others do it in under 12 months! Every night I pray that Jenny will wake up one day as a healthy developed child! But prayers are not enough! You're an amazing doctor, and your therapy is the only thing that worked for us, but it costs a fortune,” she said and added hesitantly, “how much for this month?”
“Why, it'll be $3000 as usual.”
“Thank you, Alan, but I'm afraid Jenny won't be able to come here as often.”
“You know that the treatment should be delivered on a weekly basis, plus I have to examine her at least twice a week.”
She nodded silently. I continued, “I'm sure, it's possible to figure something out. There are charity funds, government aids, family!”
“Thank you for your support, Alan. It's getting late, we'd better head home. Say goodbye to Alan, sweetie.”
I came home.
“Hi, Amy! How was your weekend with grandparents? Where have you been?”
“We went to MacDonald’s! And then watched cartoons!”
I thought of Jenny and her mother. Ten years of struggle, during these years she contacted every charity fund, applied to all financial aid programs. She knows about them more than anyone. And if she says 'no money'...
“Daddy, are you listening?”
“Of course I am, Amy! Listen, do you still want to go the sea?” Her eyes enlightened instantly. “So how about we pack up our bags tomorrow and choose a hotel to stay at for a month or so?”