We are honored to continue sharing with you works by some of the talented writers among the 'Top Ten' finalists in our previous Wild Atlantic Writing Awards (WAWA) competitions.
Our first story, by Thea Al Hirsi from British Yemen, is in the flash fiction category on the theme of writing and our second, by Eric Michael Liddick from rural Pennsylvania, is in the creative nonfiction category, with no designated theme.
Remember, there is still time for you to enter our latest competition, with 1,000 euro prize money, on the theme of Love (click link below for details), as well as join our special upcoming 'Travel Writing Workshop' next Saturday.
ENTER WAWA LOVE
Want to develop your interest in travel writing, even host your own travel blog?
Our upcoming ‘Travel Writing Workshop’ on April 10th may be just the ticket.
Only a few places available.
Aside from receiving a Certificate of Completion, participants will:
- Learn more about the freelance market and best ways to enter it;
- Understand key elements of travel articles, from destination features and memoir to hotel and restaurant reviews;
- Develop effective strategies for research;
- Acquire the skills necessary to write an attractive pitch.
- And, more importantly, have your very own travel writing stories critiqued by Sean Hillen, an experienced writer-cum-editor whose experience includes
Fodor’s travel guides and major daily newspapers and magazines.
Consider the dynamics of Sean's own travel blog ‘World Itineraries.’
By Thea Al Hirsi
I could feel her breath on me.
The stagger in it exposed her nerves. The last time we’d been here, we’d had a bit of a disagreement. She’d felt a lot of pressure and didn’t think that she could live up to those before her. I’d tried to reassure her, to show her that she could be herself. I was sure that we worked together and I wanted her to be too. I wanted to help her work through her fears and frustrations, and she knew it. But it was all a little too much too quickly. She wasn’t ready, and instead of coming to me, she took it out on me.
She left me and everything we were building together. It wasn’t the first time. We’d had these moments before, but it had never taken her so long to come back. She had come close sometimes. At first I thought she was teasing me, pretending that she didn’t need me as much as I needed her. But then she stopped looking at me, and I started to think she wasn’t pretending. I told myself that she just wanted me to make the first move. Maybe she felt that too much time had passed and she was too embarrassed to come back. She probably thought that she’d lost me, but I could never leave. I was part of her.
She moved her hand cautiously towards me, as if calling me back to the moment, hoping that I’d forgotten. She’d been biting her nails and was now rubbing her index finger against her thumb. I craved that touch. My skin was peeling off my core, begging for it. We sat there, both motionless, both wanting to say so much, with no idea where to start. Her lips were slightly ajar, the moisture glistening in the light. I remembered how she would nibble on me playfully, unaware that she was leaving unfading marks on my body, as she lost herself in a world I was itching to share. Without breaking the silence, she inched closer towards me, stopping mere millimeters from my body. She looked straight at me. There was a flicker of fear in her eyes, but it quickly transformed into the familiar burn of her passion.
Her lips curved into a suggestive smile and in one swift movement, she lifted me into her hand, wrapping her smooth fingers around my entire body. I fit perfectly between her thumb and index. She hadn’t opened her mouth, but the warmth of her touch sent a million words pulsing through me like blood. She pulled out a piece of paper and I trembled with excitement. The wait was too much. As soon as my tip touched down on it, her heart came gushing out of me in cursive silver waves.
I was the lead, but she took the reins, and the two of us danced on the pages of our life as if we’d never stopped sharing the music.
Thea, 22, is from British Yemen and studied Media and English with Creative Writing at Goldsmiths, University of London. Working now as a publishing assistant at Icon Books, Thea is now taking an MA in Language and Cultural Diversity at King's College, London, whilst developing her writing skills.
After learning she was chosen among the Top Ten in the ‘Wild Atlantic Writing Awards,’ she said,
“I'm thrilled to have been selected as a finalist for the first WAWA competition. The winning and shortlisted stories are absolutely beautiful, and I'm very proud to have mine featured alongside them. I can't wait to see what comes out of the next edition."
The Susurrant Silence
The sun dips slowly, retracting its warmth and painting the lingering, wispy clouds in a pale reddish hue as I amble along the cobblestone streets, passing the once-bustling bookstores and cafes and salons and restaurants and antique stores. The outdoor seats and tables now stand vacant, collecting a layer of dust and pollen and scattered twigs. I search desperately for words to describe this emptiness, but find only the surrounding wraiths—the demure woman reading below a striped cafe parasol, her arm draped effetely across her lap; the weathered old man sharing an ice cream cone with his grandson; the ardor of a young couple in the throes of springtime love; the drunken, boisterous pack of twenty somethings; the violinist serenading sotto voce the distracted dinnertime patrons; the Rastafarian loudly and rhythmically clapping along to music audible only to him, the unabashed testimony of his love for Yahweh. The wraiths flow gracefully and effortlessly through the adolescent leaves, twisting and turning, unburdened by the weight of their past and exhaling a collective sigh. I am envious.
I stop walking and close my eyes. The air stills as an eerie silence descends like humidity after a summer rain, flooding my ears, and punctuated only by the sound of me inhaling the fresh air laced with the fragrance of blooming lilacs and linden and cherry blossoms. I remain still, allowing my breath to settle and senses to adjust. I am alone, a singular being moving through a world frozen in time, a world where the seconds and minutes and hours and days and months and years no longer seem material to life’s relentless waxing and waning. But time continues, the world continues spinning, and the weight of it all seems so unbearable.
I give myself up, sinking further and further below the weight. I yearn for the courage to abandon all hope, that fleeting fiction that sustains the inexorable march of time. With arms outstretched and head tilted back, I beg God for mercy—to unburden me and permit my soul to depart alongside those invisibly filling the space around me.
Suddenly, a gentle breeze passes through the fine hairs running the length of my arms like wind caressing a field of golden wheat. The breeze births a shiver that quickly expands to my shoulders and chest and core. Then, and without warning, the silent void explodes into a chorus of previously imperceptible sounds—a cacophony of the melodious trills of unseen birds and the staccato of a frenzied squirrel’s tiny claws as they attempt to grip the cobblestones. At once, the trills lift me high into the trees and the pitter-patter grounds me in the moment.
I open my eyes and again survey my surroundings. Nothing has changed. Yet, everything has changed. So I keep walking, unsure of my direction, but certain that life eventually fills the void inside. And that’s enough to sustain me for one more day.
Struggles with post-traumatic stress syndrome and grief over his father’s early onset of Alzheimer’s, propelled Eric Michael Liddick into writing as a means of healing. From a rural community outside Altoona, Pennsylvania, Eric is a law graduate who joined the U.S. Army’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps and the Army’s elite 75th Ranger Regiment. After three deployments in Afghanistan he is now an Army judge advocate. His articles have appeared in academic journals and he is writing his first book, a coming-of-age tale.
A finalist in two consecutive WAWA competitions, Eric said, "Thank you for this honor. With all of the talented writers who entered this competition, I am humbled to be named a finalist."