Tuesday Tale: Blink by Sabrina Hicks

Windows of the soul…

Usually I fill this Tuesday slot with ‘genre’ stories – horror, sci-fi, detective fiction. But there are also many great short stories that don’t fall into one of these genres, so today I’m adding a new category, simply called Tales.

One of the real joys of blogging for me is meeting some of the hugely talented people who inhabit the blogosphere. Today I’m delighted to be featuring Sabrina Hicks, whom many of you will know better under her blog nom-de-plume – desertdweller. Her short story, Blink, has won the Grand Prize in the 85th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition, so it seems a perfect choice to be the inaugural…

tuesday-tale

Blink
by Sabrina Hicks

Sabrina Hicks
Sabrina Hicks

When the rain came that morning and didn’t stop until final period, I knew it would be a long bus ride home. It hadn’t rained that hard since our last monsoon.

The tale is told to us by June, one of a group of eighth graders who are on their way home from school. Most of them have known each other for years, but there’s a new boy who’s just moved into the area, sitting at the back of the bus with his headphones on. Their grouchy bus driver isn’t happy about the weather conditions…

“For Christsake!” Mr. Kelly roared, as we pulled on to the ten-mile stretch of dirt road, now thoroughly soaked and slick with mud. He flashed his squinty eyes in the rearview mirror, making no effort to hide his contempt for the rural kids living forty minutes out of town. Not a mile off blacktop he began swerving and overcompensating on turns.

school-bus

Soon he manages to drive the bus into a ditch and they know they’re now going to have a long wait for help to arrive. To help fill in the time, the narrator’s friend Maggie revives a game they used to play when they were younger – a staring contest.

Her eyes bulged at me.

“Really? Don’t you think we’re a little old for that?” I said, watching them swell like spikes of golden-brown wheat in the late sun. That’s how I remembered her eyes in fourth grade when I was crowned The Staring Champion, and it had been an accurate description. I remembered the eye color of most of the kids in my class at Kirkland Middle School, especially since there were only 47 eighth graders.

Once Maggie has been comprehensively defeated, Mr Kelly tells the new boy, Koaty, to move further up the bus away from the emergency door. The other students make room for him, but Maggie tells him half in jest that first he must beat the Staring Champion. At first June demurs, but soon finds herself gazing into Koaty’s dark eyes…

Koaty’s eyes were like the abandoned, endless well I sat by as a child, wondering how deep I had to go before I’d find the world I was sure laid beyond. I remember wanting to see the water, some reflection of sky, but it was too deep and dark, swallowing stone after stone, and when I called into it, my voice dissolved into an echo.

* * * * * * *

arizona-cattle

This is a lovely story with a huge amount of depth and feeling packed into a small space. It’s described by the Writer’s Digest as a young adult/children’s story, but in my opinion it works equally well for adults. There is an element of boy/girl attraction, but it goes much deeper than that, touching lightly on questions of race, on grief and loneliness, on empathy and connection. The characterisation is done subtly, with very little telling, and yet the reader gets a clear picture of the students, especially June, the narrator. We also learn a little about her life and get a real feeling of this rural, cattle-ranching country she lives in and what it means to her. Anyone who has read any of DD’s poetry on her blog will know that she uses language beautifully, and this extends into her prose…

His lashes trembled slightly, and I thought he would blink, instead his lips parted, curling to one side as he drew breath, and I wondered if he was reading my thoughts. I found dark eyes the hardest to read, but as I stared at him, I saw the cold stain of his mother dying and his father leaving, hardening his eyes, defiant and layered in anger. His mother, however, had gifted him with softness, seen in his lips and the delicate slope of his nose.

Great stuff! I hope sometime I’ll get the opportunity to review DD’s first novel (even if it means I have to get used to thinking of her as Sabrina Hicks!).

If you’d like to read the whole thing (about 2000 words), here’s a link…

scheherazade

Scheherazade Rating:  ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

33 thoughts on “Tuesday Tale: Blink by Sabrina Hicks

  1. A massive congratulations to Sabrina / DD! This is a super story and well-deserving of the winners accolade. I very much look forward to seeing her first novel, no doubt the first of many 🙂

  2. What a great idea, FictionFan, to feature stories like this on your blog. And this is a fantastic way to start. It sounds like a powerful story, and the snippets you’ve shared are really well-written. Glad you enjoyed it, and well done, Sabrina!

    • It’s an excellent story – well worth creating a whole new category for! Of course, knowing all these talented writers around the blogosphere doesn’t make my TBR reduction plan any easier… 😉

  3. I am BEYOND honored, FF!! And I love the accompanying photos! They’re perfect! I must confess, I’ve always wanted to make an appearance on your blog. I’m grinning ear to ear . . . But I insist upon you calling me DD. I don’t know who this Sabrina character is?! 😉 Thanks again! I’m shrieking with delight!

    • Haha! I’m so pleased you liked it – and I’m delighted to have had the opportunity to review such a great story! I fear you’ll always be DD to me! Once I get to know someone under one name, I can’t ever think of them as anything else – Sabrina sounds like an impostor to me! How dare she take credit for your work…?! 😉

  4. Reblogged this on S. S. Hicks and commented:
    I’ve been reviewed by The Great FF — my go to place for good fiction! She has recommended more books to me than the NYT Bestseller list. It’s an honor and a privilege to make an appearance on her site. I have learned so much reading her reviews: how to avoid plot holes, stale characterization, as well as, what constitutes an excellent read. Review reading is critical for any writer, and FF doesn’t miss anything, or let an author get away with sloppy writing, so it is with great honor, and a slight amount of fear, I share her gracious review of my short story. One day, I hope it shall be a book, and she will remember our friendship enough to gloss over any deficiencies, though I doubt it! ☺ Thank you, FF!

  5. Brilliant story, and as always, an excellent review. It’s great to see the beginning of what I hope will be a long career.
    And who is this BUS you speak of? 🙂

    • Thank you! The story’s great, isn’t it? One day when she’s famous I’ll be able to say I was one of the first person to review her work…

      Haha! It could be worse – at least you’re not called WOB!

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