Star-Cross'd Awards is the bi-annual writing contest of ADoR. There will be one from January to June, then another from July to December.
For each round, there is a set of prompts. You may choose from any prompt. For each prompt, there is one winner. Honorable mention will be awarded when there are sufficient submissions.
The requirements are:
One-shot length only
Reference to Romeo and Juliet (This does not have to be a major reference. For example, your narrator could walk past a poster advertising a nearby showing of R&J)
Must have been written after the prompts are first released
The purpose of Star-Cross'd is to give you enough time to start and finish something you can edit until you're satisfied. ISC gives you five to six months to complete your entry.
All authors who submit their work shall receive a review from me as long as the requirements are fulfilled. They will also be listed on a site update when the winners are announced.
AUTHORS NOTE: It has been absolutely years since I have posted on this website or even attempted to write original fiction (same can be said about fan fiction too!). However, I find myself facing a time in my life where my old friend of writing can come keep me sane so thank you for Juliet for this inspiring prompt. Yes, this story is rambling and it's rusty but I am so glad that I did it and I always appreciate feedback – even if you do tell me it's rubbish!
Please, take a seat. I'm going to tell you a story.
Well, more the end of our story. I can promise you it's a good one – might even rival the ending of that romantic classic Romeo and Juliet.
Going into this though, Detective, I want you to know this one fact – I did love her. She was my everything. Have you ever loved something so much that you've held it close and in the process destroyed it? No? Then you're lucky. That's how I felt about her from the minute I first laid my eyes on her.
I can still remember the first time I saw her. I was on patrol and sometimes my partner and I stepped into the university campus to converse with the students while enjoying a coffee break with them. This morning, however, it had been raining so the benches were all deserted apart from one. In her bright yellow rain coat, the woman stuck out like a sore thumb alongside the grey walls of campus. As I approached her, I noticed that she had her face tilted towards the skies and her eyes were closed. She was taking deep breaths in as if trying to calm herself. "Excuse me, miss. Is everything okay here?" I had asked her, my hand holding onto my coffee cup as I peered at her.
Without opening her eyes, she replied with "can you smell it?" I had quickly looked around us at the surroundings to try and work out what she meant. I couldn't smell anything. "No." She laughed. "You won't be able to see it." How she had known I was looking around without opening her eyes had confused me but I still found myself drawn to her. "Inhale, officer. It's the smell of the earth once it has rained. It's as if the Lord is allowing us to know he sent the shower to cleanse it."
I was speechless. Actually, I was more unsure on whether the girl was drunk or just bat shit crazy. My silence hadn't deterred her though. She continued to explain to me that it was called Petrichor which was from Greek words meaning stone and the fluids that had flowed through veins of the Gods.
Isn't it strange what conversations remain with us? I can't remember what you said to me ten minutes ago but I can repeat that conversation to you word for word and it was nearly five years ago now.
As I sat with her, she explained to me that she loved the rain. It was her favourite type of weather. It was why; despite being on a student's income; she had the expensive yellow rain coat. It was so she could go walking in the woods once the rain had settled but this morning, unfortunately, she had had class so she'd had to cancel her walk in the wood. But sitting in the university campus was just as good she had assured me.
Normally when on duty I could remain professional but there was something about this girl that made me want to throw the rule book out of the window so I asked her if I could buy her a cup of coffee to warm her up. She had smiled at me before replying that I could buy her the coffee but I could also be at her place at seven to take her out for dinner and she didn't even hesitate in rattling off her address to me. Sometimes the uniform misguides people into easily trusting us. And as they say... that was that.
We fell madly in love within weeks. We were inseparable. If I wasn't at work then I was waiting outside campus when she finished classes to take her out. On my weekends off, we would lounge about in my bed without even thinking about sex and talk about anything that came into our minds. We shared secrets, we depended on each other more than a new couple should and the outside world no longer existed. Three months went by and I asked her to move in with me because her flat was sitting empty. She didn't even hesitate as she accepted the proposition.
It was all running smoothly until the day she announced to me that she was pregnant.
I was absolutely over the moon with the news.
I had always believed that I didn't want children but the minute she sat beside me on the bed, her teeth worrying into the piece of flesh beside her thumb nail as she held onto the pregnancy test in her other hand. I could see the worry in her eyes. Would I stay? Would I leave? Would I make her get an abortion? All these unanswered questions depending on whether one or two blue lines would turn up on a test after two minutes. I took her thumb out of her mouth and replaced it with my lips as I pressed a kiss against them. My promise that I was going to stand with her no matter what this test result was. It was either our time to be parents or it wasn't.
Can you guess what it was?
Well done. You're quite clever Detective. I can see that I shouldn't underestimate you. I'll remember that.
I had already mentioned the fact she was pregnant. It's being locked up in this small room. It's making me crazy.
As you can imagine, we were over the moon. We were going to be parents. A tiny little baby. All ours. We immediately had a baby name. Charlie. Yes, it's generic. Every other child out there is called Charlie but it was what we wanted to call our baby and she was over the moon. She was already plotting out how to decorate the nursery. It would be in neutral colours because she decided we wouldn't find out the baby's sex because of already having the unisex name. I know, I know. Superstition and all that shit. But we were young. We were in love and were disgustingly happy with the fact that our baby was in her stomach.
But I'm sure from my file and the lack of child you've worked it out, haven't you Detective?
She didn't even make it to the threshold of twelve weeks when they recommend you keep it quiet to. So there we were with a nursery and no baby to put in it. We were distraught and we both coped the exact same way. We threw ourselves back into work. I became angry. Bitter... Violent.
I can still remember the first time that I hit her. We were having the same old argument about how I was working too much and then going straight out to the bar with the guys to have a drink too many and she got in my face. I don't know what made me do it but I shoved her. Hard. She went flying to the floor and the corner of the coffee table hit her forehead. Have you ever seen a head injury bleed? It's like a fountain. So there she was with blood streaming down her face as well as her own tears and I saw it in her eyes. The fear. It was only there for a flicker but I saw it. The fear that I had done this to her. And do you know what's worse? I fucking enjoyed it. I suppose I should have known I enjoyed inflicting fear into people. I'm a cop after all. We scare the living shit out of people for a job and I love it but seeing that fear in her pretty blue eyes was the most erotic thing in my life. There she is bleeding on the floor and I'm turned on by the fact I've hurt her enough to scare her. Thankfully, I'm a master at hiding my emotions and I managed to quickly get down on the floor beside her. I faked tears and promised her it would never happen again.
The controlling and abuse came easily to me.
Cooked my dinner wrong? I threw all the food out and made her starve for a week.
Answered back? A few good punches applied to body parts where I knew that no one would see if bruises did start to form on her ivory skin.
Texting someone while I was trying to talk to her? Phone smashed into a thousand pieces across our kitchen floor.
She never learnt. She would constantly do the same things over and over again. But even as I got more and more violent she never left! Our nosey neighbour would often phone the cops but nine times out of ten it was an officer I knew so I could always explain it away as a disagreement or loud sex. No one is going to dispute one of their own, are they? We have a brotherhood those of us in blue. You detectives wouldn't understand that.
Eventually though I decided enough was enough and I stopped hurting her as often because I wanted to ask her an important question. A year had gone by since the miscarriage and I knew the loss of the baby was the cause of our pain, my anger. Everything. So I asked her if we could try for another baby. I could see the hesitation in her eyes but then it was quickly replaced by this confidence where she told me I had to promise that the violence would stop. She couldn't be worried about my mood swings when pregnant or with a baby in the house. I agreed. It was easy enough to do. I had no intention of hurting the mother of my child.
We tried for months and months. No baby. It was chalked up to stress from the miscarriage or wanting something too much. We were fucking like animals at every opportunity we got because I had stopped going out but there was yet to be a positive pregnancy test. I promised her not to worry each time, a small kiss to her temple as I told her that we'd just keep trying. We had done it once so we could do it again.
So let's rewind to say about a week ago... I had a killer headache. Out of nowhere. I very rarely get sick you see but I knew that she kept tablets in her handbag because she suffers from headaches a lot. So without even thinking I just went into her handbag while she was sleeping to get some. Bingo. In the zip pocket of her handbag was a pharmacy. Paracetamol. Ibuprofen. Cold tablets. You name it, she had it. But there was another packet of tablets in here. Can you guess what it was? That's right, contraceptive pill. My beautiful girlfriend had been fucking lying to me this entire time. There I am thinking that I was the manipulator but oh no... She outdid me.
But it flicked a switch inside of me. I was beyond angry. She needed to be punished and I had the perfect opportunity to get even.
Thunderstorms were forecast for the weekend so it was easy enough to roll over to her the next morning, press a kiss to her shoulder and murmur that I thought we needed to get away from it all. Go back to the beginning. I explained to her that we could go for a walk in her woods. Dig out our matching – because of course I eventually got one – rain coats and go out for a walk together and smell the air after the rain. It didn't take long for her to be overjoyed by the idea.
So that brings us to yesterday morning where my girlfriend and I went on a beautiful walk together in the woods after the thunderstorms. She kept inhaling the scent that she loved so much and I saw her look at me like she once did. I know it's stupid saying I could see the love she held for me there but I could. She held onto my hand as if we were anchoring each other in the quest for the past while avoiding our future. She whispered to me that she loved me and I kissed her. I kissed her knowing that it was going to be our last kiss as I gently walked her backwards to lean against a tree. I wrapped my arms around her, pulling her close to me while keeping the kiss up. I could taste her salty tears as if she was also happy that we had found our peace with each other.
I slid my hands up her body before resting them on her collarbone. I could feel her pulse and it soothed me momentarily before I moved my thumbs to trace the curve of her jaw as I ended the kiss, finding myself staring into her eyes. She smiled at me but it didn't last long because I think she saw something in my eyes that was about to give away what was going to happen next. I felt her stiffen against me as I leant in and whispered that I knew about the tablets, about how she had been lying to me all along and about how she had made me out to be a fool.
I didn't even hesitate to close my hands around her slim neck.
She clawed at me, her fingernails digging into my hands as she struggled beneath me. Her face was turning red, her eyes bulging and spit was coming out of her mouth as she struggled to take in the necessary breaths that she needed for the exertion she was putting herself through.
I didn't realise how long it took to strangle someone.
For how much I enjoyed seeing the fear in her eyes the first time I hit her, nothing compared to this look in her eyes. The fading of life as she struggled more and more against me. Eventually her movement ceased, a warmth spread down my front and I realised not long after that she had lost control of her bladder just seconds before she drew her last breath. For good measure, I slammed her head back against the tree before letting her drop to the ground like the dead weight she was.
I want to tell you that I cried, Detective.
I want to tell you that I am sorry for what I did but why should I start lying now?
Honestly, I wouldn't have handed myself in. I had plans to bury her out there. Kind of poetic seeing as it was the place she loved so much but I wasn't aware that that damned hiker had been behind us the entire time. You'd think that he'd have stepped forward and tried to save her though, right?
Do you want to know my final secret Detective before I terminate this conversation and tell you that I want my lawyer?
I enjoyed it. If that hiker hadn't have caught me doing it I don't think I'd have been able to stop myself from doing it again. The rush that I got from holding my hands around her neck and feeling that lump in her throat pressing against my palms was better than addiction I could imagine someone having. The sensation of that last breath whistling out of her throat was the most satisfaction I've ever felt. Beat every orgasm I've ever had.
So DI Stevenson, there you have it. My sordid confession with that bonus little secret and I think this is where I tell you I need my lawyer...