I follow a literary agent’s blog and he is conducting a first paragraph contest. I have decided to enter the contest but can’t decide which first paragraph I want to enter. I can only enter one. So I am asking you to vote for your favorite paragraph of the four.
Standing in the cold November rain in Manhattan I finally realized who I am. Up until that moment I had always thought when you had an epiphany that the heavens would break open with a bright light, angels would begin to sing, and the world would stand still. I was close. The heavens did break open, and the rain was getting harder. The light from the Starbucks sign above me was shining brighter than ever; green and white, glowing incessantly above my head. No angels were singing, but a mermaid was staring down at me with her fins spread open, and she was beautiful. I bowed my head and began to walk back down Broadway. I could have gotten a cab, but it didn’t seem to be the appropriate thing to do since I had just realized my true self. So, I walked six blocks in the cold November rain back to my hotel.
She could feel the ground sink beneath her knees as she kneeled down on the cold plastic tarp in front of her parent’s gravestone. Her mother’s dress clung to her body, and the rain matted her black hair to the sides of her face while her tears became one with the tears of God. Never before had death been a presence in Emmy’s life, but during the last three days, it had been her closest companion.
Even after 17 years, Isaac found that his greatest strength and joy came when he was speaking and thinking of Juliet. Isaac stood behind the ornate cherry wood pulpit with only two familiar faces staring back at him. One of them was Elijah. His blue eyes and wavy brown hair was unmistakable; Isaac had seen enough pics of him as a child that with the first glance Isaac knew it was him. The other, Kiera, was unmistakable as well. She looked just like Juliet, except with blonde hair. Isaac’s hand brushed down his navy blue silk tie as he looked down at the pulpit. The silence in the chapel was deafening and elevated his nervousness. The wood felt smooth and cold as Isaac tightly clinched the side of the elevated part of the stand to keep his hands from shaking. It had been two years since he last spoke to her. He had tried to write down some words to speak but it was to no avail. Isaac simply lifted his eyes just enough to stare down at Juliet forced his mouth open and began to speak.
It had been a year and a half since the last time all five of them had been together for a poker night. The music of the Avett Brothers was playing in the background. The octagonal poker table was ornate with white, red, green, black, and blue poker chips; a bottle of hydrocodone and sudafed, a few Playboys, five beer mugs, a half smoked bowl of ganja, and flakes of various types of ash. All five of the guys were on the fringe of reality and oblivion. For these thirty something friends it had never been about the game. The game was nothing more than an excuse. An excuse to visit with the closest of friends, pop pills, smoke (whichever herb might be available), and escape. Not escape in the sense to never return, more of a reprieve from the present reality of their lives.