Competitions: NYC Midnight, Short Story Competition, Round 3

Catherine Day Sunrise

I managed to get through to round three and into the top 3% of the entrants in the competition, but alas my journey is over. A very worthy winner was selected, and I’m chomping at the bit to have another go! I thoroughly enjoyed the competition, and I now have three stories that I’d never have written otherwise, and plenty of useful feedback from the judges that I can use to improve them. I’d highly recommend entering this competition to a anyone who is stuck in a bit of a  rut with their short stories. Our final assignment was:

Genre: Open

Character: An undertaker

Subject: A sunrise

Of the three stories I put together, this one (despite having been written in 24 hours) was my favourite, and not having an assigned genre was better for me, because I generally don’t write genre fiction. I’ll be submitting this one to other competitions. The biggest challenge with this story was writing it in 1,500 words. I ended up writing far too many words and then I had to edit heavily, and I think I might have edited the heart and soul out of it. If I end up submitting it anywhere else, I’ll submit the unabridged version.

The story is about unhappy memories, and a man’s attempts to protect his elderly wife from them. This is an excerpt from the beginning:


We used to go ‘sunrise hunting’ whenever we went travelling. We’d plot out the route on our map the night before, estimate when sunrise would take place, set an alarm, and sleep in our clothes. When the alarm went off we’d rise groggily from our bed, one of us always needing to be coaxed by the other. We’d pour strong, black coffee into our chipped thermos flask and jump into the hire car to drive fast in the pitch-blackness; Gloria’s face obscured by a giant map as she barked out directions, yawns filling my mouth as I drove. We’d follow the line of the horizon, find a good spot and park up.

Gloria would spread out our old woollen rug. A rug we had picked up in India, that had lain on the soil of many different countries since, and pour herself a cup of coffee, huddling into her jacket. She’d smile a faint smile and watch the sky rapidly transform before us, whilst I ran around snapping photographs. Trying to capture every moment of the show, as the sky worked through whatever palette it had selected from its range that day- red, orange and yellow or pink and purple. Maybe shades of all of them. Better than a sunset any day. A sunset was an ending, a sunrise a new beginning.

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My name is Catherine Day. After practising law for many years, I've decided to take the leap, leave law temporarily, and write the novel I've always wanted to write.

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