Name: G. Donald Cribbs
Title of manuscript: The Packing House
150 word description of your story:
Sixteen-year-old Joel Scrivener's vicious nightmares return and force him to face a problem he thought had to do with his parents’ divorce. Driven by an embarrassing viral video of himself in study hall where he fell asleep, Joel must figure out who or what is the source of his bad dreams, before his brother Jonathan joins the school crowd, driving Joel further into isolation. Running from his problems solves nothing. For Joel, it earns him a full, psychological exam.
His ally through it all is Amber Walker, childhood friend and kindred spirit, who also happens to be the only girl he’s ever loved. Amber is conflicted. A true friend would help Joel lose the bad-boy reputation he’s recently acquired. But Amber doesn’t want another broken boy, regardless of how long they’ve been friends. Joel must find a way to overcome his brokenness, or lose Amber forever.
500 word ending:
We allow our bodies to press together, follow our instincts, lips touching with electric crackling energy—we’ve put this off far too long. We crash like the waves pooling at our feet. I lose all sense of time, nothing else matters but this moment we share. She kisses me back as much as I kiss her. I find myself gasping to catch my breath. She lets out a faint sigh.
I no longer notice the sun, large and fiery, sinking into the horizon.
The water has risen to our hips. We come to our senses, and realize the sun has gone from yellow to orange to a deep crimson red and the sky has deepened to the blue of twilight.
We laugh, two drunk swimmers having found a sunken treasure, traveling far to reach land and air again. This finally seems right. I know it in my gut, the stomach-flutter quivers of two stones crashing together, the beginning spark of love. We climb out of the water, and up the beach, stumbling, but happy to have found new hope together.
That night, when I push out in the boat of sleep, away from shore, I travel to the middle of the lake. I have been here before. This lake. This boat. It is as familiar to me as blank lines on a page waiting to be filled. But, something has changed.
When I look to the shore, expecting to see him, no one is there. My younger self is no longer there either.
I return to the shore. There are signs in the dirt of a scuffle, so I know we have been here, but somehow, I got away. As I start to walk away from the pond, I am surrounded by darkness, then a flicker, a flame far off. I head in that direction. Something draws me toward this light.
Then, I sense the ground has changed.
I walk on stone. Before me, a corridor juts out, torches ensconced at regular intervals. I follow the passage until it reaches a corner. When I turn, I realize where I am.
I start down the stairs. But, as I begin to go down, it occurs to me I don’t have to keep going down. I could turn around, and head back up. Only, I don’t. I want to know for sure. I reach the bottom and turn the corner into the crypt. The two rooms are dark, empty.
I am alone here.
So, I finally do what I should have done long ago. I head back up the stairs, and keep walking, never looking back.
Sunlight, golden and comforting, greets me. A new day, a fresh start, as forgiveness washes over me. I soak it in, take my time before I gather myself up, and prepare to stand once more. My eyes open. I am alive. Today is a day for letting go.
And then, I know with certainty, I will rise again. THE END